My Very Own Daybook!

I want to keep doing the daybook thing each week or so, but I haven’t been able to keep up with the “Simple Woman’s Daybook” like I’d hoped. It just has too many prompts, and they cover subject matter that’s too deep and takes too much time to answer, and the prompts kind of repeat themselves (“Thinking…” and “Pondering…” mean pretty much the same thing in my mind). I’m looking for something that’s quick and easy enough to do that I’ll not only have the time to do it each week, but that I’ll also continue to want to do each week. I need a quick and simple way to keep a daybook/journal on my blog, for the sake of recording things that are going on with us. I did some searching online and found a few daybook/journal link-ups with questions that didn’t really fit what I want to do, so in the end, I’ve decided to do what I’ve always done best: Do my own thing!  And why not? Why should I have to have to find a link-up in order to do a daybook each week? And why not just come up with my own prompts that I think I would most want to cover each week? So I sat down and thought about the things I most want to reflect on & record each week, and came up with my own choice of prompts—not too many, not too few. I won’t have anyplace to link up, but I don’t care about that, anyway. I’m not writing for an audience or to gain readers; I’m writing for myself and my family.🙂 So here begins the first installment of my own daybook (unnamed as of yet, but I’m pondering it).

Thankful for:

(I’m going to aim for at least five things each week)

  • My God and His love for me.
  • My husband…oh my goodness, what a devoted husband & father he’s been…especially the past 3 years. I could write for days about all he does for us on a daily basis.
  • My two boys. Gifts from God, in answer to my prayers for children.
  • Grace, and the new understanding about it that I’ve been given. Finally understanding the Gospel of Grace has changed my life.
  • Our home and the beautiful property that surrounds it.
  • Trees. I can’t look at one without being amazed. And they give us so much more than we realize.

Reading:

A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside

This book is absolutely delightful. Artist/author Susan Branch kept a journal of her two-month trip to England on which she and her husband visited dozens of country towns and villages throughout the English countryside, staying in quaint cottages and rented flats along the way. She describes all of the places and properties they visit, many of which are National Trust sites. I really enjoy her style—she catches and lists all the little details that I’d notice myself. To add to the warmth and charm of the book’s content, she includes her delightful watercolor paintings and sketches throughout.
Here are some examples:

She uses her photos from her trip, but she also paints scenes and borders and headings.

She uses her photos from her trip, but she also paints scenes and borders and headings.

Her watercolor skills are amazing! I love all her little details, even the letters she paints.

Her watercolor skills are amazing! I love all her little details, even the letters she paints.

Can you see what a pleasure it is to read and look at each page?

Can you see what a pleasure it is to read and look at each page? If you love England, you will adore this book!

Occasionally she'll paint an entire page, words included. Lovely and enchanting.

Occasionally she’ll paint an entire page, words included. Lovely and enchanting.

I’m just over halfway through the book, which is 260 pages, all just like the samples above. I’m trying to savor every page because I don’t want it to end. I told P this is going to be my guidebook when we go live in England for a year.😉


Listening To:

The boys making their usual non-stop racket while eating lunch. They take forever to eat because they’re so busy talking to each other about anything and everything.
The bird is chattering away (“Mr. Pippin, I’m a parakeet! (I) can’t get up, can’t get up, can’t get up!” and various other phrases all mashed together…he’s hysterical).

Marriage:

Philip and I look forward each night to our time together before we turn in. Even though he works from home, he’s in work-mode all day and during the evenings he’s in Daddy mode, and after the boys go to bed he’s in clean-up mode. We usually meet up in the sanctuary of our bedroom by 10:30-11:00 each night. Often, we watch our favorite program together—for months, it was Frasier, but we finally watched every episode from all 11 seasons (brilliant show, btw), so now we’re making our way through Gilmore Girls (another brilliant show). But we put that on hold recently to spend time watching Healing School teachings from Charis Bible College. We’ve both been marinating in their teachings lately, getting those truths down into our spirits. I listen to the teachings during the day too, but P can only listen at night when he can focus.
We both look forward to our time together each night—a couple of hours of just us, hanging out and spending time together. Sometimes we just read and don’t watch anything. Sometimes we listen to music, and very occasionally, we’ll watch a movie together. The kittens have taken to joining us on the bed every night, too. They love to snuggle up and sleep next to us for as long as possible (P kicks them out right before we turn out the lights; he refuses to sleep with animals).

Kids:

The boys are still enjoying their time off from school. They’ve spent most days outside with no shortage of time in the woods. Des broke out in streaks of hives on his legs last week, assumedly from some plant he came in contact with in the woods. Since it was looking worse rather than better on Monday, we took him to the dermatologist just to make sure it wasn’t something else, like hives from something he’d eaten (not likely since they were only on his legs). She confirmed that it would be everywhere else on his body if he’d eaten something he was allergic to, and also that it looks like an allergic reaction to a plant to her. Maybe poison sumac (we have it everywhere), but more likely he got snagged by vines that had some secretion that he’s allergic to. She prescribed a round of steroids but said it was really unnecessary to fill it unless he starts getting much worse—to fill it if we think he ends up needing it. I don’t think he’ll need it because it looks like it may be getting a little better now.

On Tuesday, it was 99 degrees by 10am, so they decided they’d like to play outside in the sprinkler. Sounded like a great idea, since our grass has gotten crunchy from all the hot days and lack of rain. They had a ball and stayed cool in the water for a couple of hours (being in the sprinkler always turns into outright playing in the water directly from the hose).

Unfortunately, they ended up with pretty painful sunburns across their shoulders and upper backs. So I got to try out a sunburn remedy I’d only read about: vinegar. People swear by it for taking the sting out of a sunburn. I soaked paper towels in vinegar and put them across their shoulders, letting them sit for a while. I occasionally re-soaked them in vinegar and put them back on. Afterward, I rubbed some coconut oil on their shoulders to moisturize. Des said his burn feels much better this morning. Gray still had pain when he woke up, so we re-did the vinegar treatment on him. It’s very soothing and cooling.

Thinking:

About how tonight is the summer premiere of Under The Dome, our family’s favorite TV show (except for The Middle, but we’ve seen all of those). The boys have been counting down (okay, we have, too), and tonight’s finally the night.

And about what to name this journal/daybook. I just want something simple. Maybe I’ll know by next week.🙂


Praying: 

  • That healing would manifest very soon in my body. I know it’s coming, but I pray for it to be soon.
  • For Philip to continue having the health and strength to do all he has to do.
  • For greater understanding of Grace, and everything Jesus bought for me. The Gospel of Grace is almost too good to be true, and has been very hard for me to accept due to old doctrines that are so hard to break free from, but He’s helping me.
  • For greater understanding of His love for me, which has also been hard to fully accept.
  • For Philip to be able to get more work done so he can make a liveable income, which is going to require me being healed.
  • For more of the Holy Spirit and more of His Presence.

Captured:

The girls come running in whenever they hear grocery bags rustling. Grocery day is their favorite day—they get to jump and play all over the bags until everything is put away.

The girls come running in whenever they hear grocery bags rustling. Grocery day is their favorite day—they get to jump and play all over the bags until everything is put away. You can’t tell from the picture, but there’s some serious kitten play going on here!

I’m already thinking of a couple of other prompts I may add. Maybe an “around the house” prompt, if there’s anything interesting going on around the house, that is. Or “outside my window”. I don’t want it to get too long, though. Hopefully I’ll be back with more next week.

Weekly Wrap-Up – June 19 – End of School Year, Book-Loving Boys, and Borat

We finished the 2014-15 school year last Friday, June 12. Yay! I’m not sure who was more relieved—Grayson, or myself. We had both worked so hard to get him finished before the end of June. From March until June 12, we only took one day off, and that was the day Reagan died. He even did work on weekends (tests, review sheets). In the end, we ended up finishing two weeks earlier than I’d originally thought we would. Desmond ended up getting eight weeks into 2nd grade before we stopped for our break. Not too shabby.

This past week, our first week off of school, we did absolutely nothing! The boys loved having days completely free to do whatever they wanted. Mostly that consisted of playing outside (despite heat indices of 108 each day), playing games (I played with them a little), and a lot of reading. They built a tent in Gray’s bedroom and spent a good deal of time in there reading their new library books. P took them both to the library on Tuesday; a trip on which Des applied for and received his very own library card. They each returned with a stack of books…

Gray's Library Haul.

Gray’s Library Haul.

 

Des' library haul. 17 books!

Des’ library haul. 17 books!

 

Des has been reserving books by series. He read all the “Horrible Harry” books that our county’s library system had, and now he’s moved on to “The Time Warp Trio” series. I like these books because they teach history. He likes them because they’re fun to read, and he gets to “time travel” along with the kids in the books.

Gray has been enjoying Gordon Korman’s “Swindle” series. He’s just finishing up the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, which I’m not as thrilled about him reading. We decided if he started displaying disrespectful or negative attitudes (which are rampant in the books), that he wouldn’t read them anymore; so far he hasn’t, so that’s good.🙂 He’s a pretty respectful kid overall. Every now and then he’ll display a bad or disrespectful attitude, but after being sent to sit on his bed for a while, he’ll get it right with God and come apologize and tell us how he was wrong, and what he needs to do differently. His little brother has a more difficult time with his attitude, which we’re working diligently to help him overcome. The best tactic is to always point him (or them) to Jesus; I find that some time spent alone with Jesus always softens their hearts.

Our library loans out DVDs, and I’ve been using that service lately. We stopped our Netflix account a year or two ago, which makes watching movies a little more difficult. I checked out the two Elizabeth movies that star Cate Blanchett, and we enjoyed watching those. P and I did, that is. They’re not for kids. Which is sad, because they would’ve been great to go along with our history studies. Then during last week’s library haul, P checked out Borat: Cultural Learnings of America. 

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Yes, they actually had this DVD at the public library!  It’s rated R (for very good reasons) and is not something I would ever expect our public library to carry. It is not for children, that’s for sure. But nevertheless, P and I have wanted to watch it for years, but have never gotten around to it. So this week P and I watched it, including all the special features, and found it to be hilarious despite the crude humor. “Borat” leaves his home country of Khazakhstan and travels the USA, meeting and interacting with regular, unsuspecting people who have no idea they’re being punk’d by Sasha Baron Cohen. The results are hysterical while at the same time, nearly unbearably uncomfortable. P and I needed a laugh this week, and Borat delivered, at no cost to us. I love the library!

The boys love the library, too. Sometimes they accompany me on my evening walks, but they don’t want to put their book down. They will literally walk and read while walking down the road.

Exercising while reading.

Exercising while reading.

Why not?

Why not?

Farewell to Our Sweet Reagan

On Tuesday, April 14th, we said our final goodbyes to our beloved Reagan, and Philip and Gray took him to be euthanized. He was 16.5 years old (108 in human years!). We adopted him when he was 3.5 years old (also in April, coincidentally), so we had 13 years with him. Though it’s clichéd to say, he really was the best dog ever. He was a Shepherd mix (his mother was full-blooded German Shepherd), and was very intelligent. He was, in his younger days, quite a beautiful, muscular, and tough-looking dog—a good guard dog and an excellent deterrent to any type of messing with. Yet, he was the sweetest, gentlest, and friendliest dog as long as he didn’t sense bad intentions.

Philip and Gray with Reagan during his last moments.

Philip and Gray with Reagan during his last moments.

A much younger, stronger Reagan in 2002.

A much younger, stronger Reagan in 2002.

He showed his intelligence and goodness in many ways. One example is that he never needed a fence—he stayed within the boundaries of our yard and never chased people. He liked to sit on the front porch or lounge in the front yard.  If someone walked by on the road, he simply watched them. But if they stepped foot onto our property line, he’d start barking and walking out to meet them. He barked at anyone who came onto our property, whether invited or uninvited—but Philip noticed one day that as soon as he shook hands with whomever was here, Reagan would stop barking and would accept the person on our property. He was the same with frequent visitors to our house (family, friends who came repeatedly). He’d bark until they got out of their vehicle, but once he realized  it was a friend or family member, he’d go up to them to greet them (and to be petted). He was a good dog.

He never barked for no reason. He only barked when someone came onto our property. Occasionally that would extend to a possum or raccoon who ventured into our yard at night, but one “hush” called from the back door would quiet him. The same applied whenever he was inside. He would only bark if he heard or saw an unknown vehicle drive up, or if someone knocked at the door. He also never made messes in the house. He chose an out-of-the-way corner of each of the yards we lived in—we never had to dodge dog poop in the main yard. At least not until he got old and became unable to control such things. But while it was under his control, he never made a mess and always kept his business far out of our way and hidden. He was a good dog.

I taught him to heel in just a couple of days, by using a choke chain and saying, “heel!” every time he pulled on the leash. He not only learned quickly to walk right next to my left side without pulling the leash, but he learned it so well that we didn’t have to use the leash anymore. He would walk in heel position on his own—and should he veer away for some reason, I could call, “heel!” and he’d pop back into step by my left side. He was a good dog.

I’m not a fan of dogs on carpet or furniture, so when we first got him, we showed him that he was allowed only on the tiled areas of our home. He immediately caught on and never stepped over onto the carpeted parts of the house. This transferred to our new home—he didn’t have to be taught anything; he just walked and stayed on the tiled areas and dared not step onto the carpet. Even whenever he visited other people’s homes and was let inside, he would stay on the tiled areas and never step over onto their carpet. He was a good dog.

On the subject of floors and such, he also cooperated with us to wipe his feet before coming in from outside. He never did actually wipe his feet on his own (though I bet I could’ve taught him if I’d tried), but whenever we opened the door to let him in, he’d stop on the door mat and let us wipe his front paws, then he’d step just his front paws into the house and wait for us to wipe his back paws. Then he’d go the rest of the way inside. He was a good dog!

He was protective of me, and on one occasion, he quite possibly saved me from an unsavory man’s ill intentions. I’ll never know what might’ve happened if Reagan hadn’t have been walking by my side that day, but one thing’s for sure: Reagan’s staunchly bristled fur and the most menacing growl I ever heard him growl certainly shook the man up and sent him on his way. He was also protective of the boys from the time they were born. He got antsy and concerned whenever they cried. As they got older and more mobile, if there was ever any perceived danger on his part, he would deliberately position himself in between the boys and the danger—and would stay there. This was no doubt the Shepherd instinct in him. He continued this up until his last days. The last instance was this past winter, when we made a bonfire out of some tree debris and brush. Whenever the boys would get up and play around, Reagan would walk around with them, constantly positioning himself between them and the fire. He was a good dog.

He was a sweetly sympathetic dog, too. I remember sitting alone on the floor, crying bitterly after my first miscarriage. He broke the “no-carpet” rule (which he only ever did on a couple of exceptional occasions, and this is one of them), walked timidly over to me (due to knowing he was breaking the “no carpet” rule), nuzzled my face, and began tenderly licking it. I remember loving him so much in that moment, knowing he was one of my few true friends for life. Too bad his life had to be so short. He was a good dog.

He loved to go on rides in the back of the pickup truck, and he loved to swim and play in water. On more than one occasion, he upset the boys when he would hog the sprinkler from them. Despite this love of water, he hated getting baths. Whenever he saw one of us getting the hose, he’d get excited—but once he saw the shampoo bottle in our hand, all excitement disappeared, and he’d start to slink off with his tail between his legs. He also hated thunderstorms and would signal that he wanted to come inside at the first roll of thunder (his come-inside signal was a gentle scrape on the metal threshold of the front door). His favorite treat was raw chicken trimmings, though he loved getting any type of bones, too. He also loved to scavenge baby poop from discarded diapers, but to tell this story would sully all of the talk about how smart he was, wouldn’t it? ;-D  Oh, Reagan, you made us laugh. You brought us much joy and very little trouble. You made our lives so much brighter and full of love. We will miss you always.

On the day before we had him euthanized, I mixed up some plaster of paris and we got a cast of his paw print. After it dried, I painted it and wrote his name and birth & death dates on it. It’s displayed on our living room shelf along with his ashes and a tuft of his fur. Grayson says that painting it red was morbid because it looks like it’s bleeding (haha…boys!), but I like the color. Crimson is the accent color of our living room & kitchen/dining area, so it was the best color to use.

Reagan's finished paw print cast.

Reagan’s finished paw print cast.

During the days after his death, I found great comfort in listening to Natalie Merchant’s song, “King of May”. The lyrics were perfect for letting go of our dear, old friend. I’ve shared the lyrics here, and bolded the ones that were particularly poignant to us on that sad day of letting go. I also included the youtube link to the actual song—it’s quite beautiful.

 

“King Of May” – Natalie Merchant

Farewell today
Travel on now
Be on your way

Go safely there
Never worry
Never care
Beyond this day

Farewell tonight
To all joy and to all delight
Go well and go peacefully
We can’t keep your majesty
Be on your way

Make ready for the last King of May
Make a cardboard crown for him
Make your voices one
Praise a crazy mother’s son
Who loved his life
Who loved his life

Farewell today
Travel on now
Be on your way
Can’t bear the very thought
That we could keep your majesty
Be on your way

Make ready for the last King of May
Make a hole in the crowd for him
Raise your voices up
Lift your loving cups
To his long life
To his long life

Make ready for the last King of May
Make a hole in the sky for him
Raise your voices up
Drink your loving cups
To his long life
To his long life

Weekly Wrap-Up – May 22 – Second Grade, Semicolons, and Massacres

Des started 2nd grade this week. It’s all super-basic review, so we doubled up on lessons (he thoroughly knows these concepts by now) and got a little over two weeks’ worth of lessons into just one week. Next week we should be able to do the same. I love that we can do this. He’s doing arithmetic, phonics, and language this year. Phonics will focus not so much on reading the special sounds this time around (since he’s got that down really well), but on spelling properly using the special sounds. His spelling ability, while better than average, could use some work.

Gray has plugged through another week of arithmetic. He did some more work with equations, reviewed how to convert celsius temperatures to fahrenheit & vice-versa, and began a short unit on lines of latitude, longitude, and time zones. In grammar he covered semi-colons and their proper use. I’ve found most of the population does not grasp the proper use of the semi-colon; this concept should be taught more thoroughly in schools. (See what I did there?😉 )

His sentences are NEVER boring.

His sentences are NEVER boring.


We did another all-history week. This week we learned about Jeanne d’Albret, Catherine de’Medici, and the terrible St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572.

Jeanne d’Albret was the queen of Navarre (a tiny, former kingdom that sat between France and Spain), and a hero of the French Reformation. Yes, we’re still trudging through the religious war between catholics and protestants that raged violently throughout Europe during the 16th century. Jeanne was an honorable hero because, while she declared her country a protestant country, she did not officially persecute catholics—hers was a kingdom of much more religious freedom than any other at the time.

Catherine de’Medici, on the other hand, who gained the throne and became queen of France, was neither catholic nor protestant. She was a humanist, and didn’t involve herself in matters of religion. However, she did care a great deal about power; she was, in fact, known for being Machiavellian in her tactics. And at the time, most of France was catholic, with the exception of the French Huguenots—which is just a fancy French name for protestants.😉  There was a catholic priest who was concerned about the growing number of huguenots in France, and he convinced Catherine to have some of their main leaders assassinated—under the guise of them being a threat to her rule. Concerned only about protecting her throne, she gave the order for her army to go and kill these protestant leaders very early one August morning…

That morning happened to fall on the feast day of St. Bartholomew, and the massacre that followed was unprecedented. As these innocent huguenot men were murdered in the streets, the crowds of common people watched—and, shockingly, those who were catholic decided to join in on the killing of huguenots/protestants. Waves of mob violence followed, and the massacre went on for weeks. Innocent men, women, and children alike were dragged out of their homes and murdered in the streets. Rivers were clogged with bodies. In the end, the death toll was massive: most estimates are between 30,000 and 70,000. One of many sad blights on Christendom—though persecuting others for over religious differences is hardly Christian.

As an interesting side note, the massacre and subsequent continued persecution in France caused many French Huguenots to flee France for the New World, in search of freedom. Many of our country’s founding fathers were Huguenots. I thought that was a neat twist to the lesson, and some good news after reading about such a tragedy.

One of Gray's (and Des') notebooking pages from the week. This one focused on Catherine de'Medici's contributions to France.

One of Gray’s (and Des’) notebooking pages from the week. This one focused on Catherine de’Medici’s contributions to France.

Tonight, as part of our study of the reformation, we’re watching “God’s Outlaw“, a movie about William Tyndale’s fight against the Roman church to get the Bible translated into English. The Roman church did not want the Bible in the hands of common people, but Tyndale had a mission to do just that—by translating the scriptures to English. When told by an archbishop that he must cease and desist, Tyndale retorted, “I defy the pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!”  Quite a bold statement, especially considering the times! And with God’s help, he did just as he said he would—even though it ended up costing him his life. Every time we read our Bibles, we have William Tyndale to thank. The full movie is available to watch on youtube…we’re watching it as I type; it’s pretty interesting (at least to history buffs).

Watching "God's Outlaw", curled up with his sleeping girls.

Watching “God’s Outlaw”, curled up with his sleeping girls.

Another week down. I was looking through Gray’s remaining course work this week, and if we continue doing some of the review lessons on weekends, we will be done with 6th grade before the midpoint of June. That’s about three more weeks! We’re both very motivated to push as hard as we can to finish up as soon as possible. The sooner we finish, the more weeks we get to take off before we have to start again in late July.

Recent Spiritual Dream

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I had a dream recently that I’ve carefully discerned came from God. It’s not the first dream he’s given me, so I’ve learned how to recognize them. In the past year, it’s the third one that I know for sure (as much as one can know these things) was from him. It’s both humbling and amazing when God does this. It’s also something I’ve prayed for and something that has been prayed over me (that I would have dreams from God). I’m writing this down for my benefit, because I never want to forget the details. But I’m sharing it publicly so that others might read and understand, and should they ever wonder if God is speaking to them through a dream, perhaps it will help them discern—or at least to realize that it happens. It’s a pretty common occurrence amongst believers who’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit—because dreams one of the many ways the Spirit moves and speaks when you’ve opened yourself up completely to him and invited him to continuously fill you to overflowing with his presence and power. With that said, here’s what happened in the dream.

In the dream, I was at church, and there was a call for a time of prayer. Philip, our friends B and A, and another couple surrounded me to lay hands on me and pray for my healing. I was standing in front of my seat; Philip was to my right side, and B, A, and the other couple were standing behind me and to my left side. All of their hands were on me as they began to pray together. I closed my eyes and as the prayers went up, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit come on me—the sensation of radiating warmth and heaviness, along with a deep sense of the Lord’s presence and love. At this point, the experience of the dream was quite realistic, in that I’ve experienced this before during prayer ever since I first began being prayed over by Spirit-filled believers.

As they prayed, I began feeling a distinct pull upwards on my body (this is where the dream switches from a familiar, normal experience into something different than any experience I’ve ever had). Those praying weren’t causing it; they simply had their hands on my back or shoulders as they fervently prayed. I knew it was the Holy Spirit. I was being pulled upward, very gently but very adamantly—yet I myself was keeping my feet firmly planted on the floor. In other words, I was fighting the pulling sensation by standing as firmly and heavily as I could muster. I suppose because I was fighting a sensation that goes against all laws of nature and logic.

As I resisted this pulling, I heard in my spirit an admonition: Just let your feet lift up off the ground. But how? I’m so used to gravity. I don’t know how to “let my feet lift up off the ground”! But again, I felt like I should just let go—to let myself be lifted by this upward pulling sensation. I knew it was God pulling me up, so in an act of faith and trust, I stopped anchoring my feet to the ground. It’s very hard to describe, but I think the key is that I gave in to the Spirit’s will, even though it went against natural laws and instinct. I did a slight little lifting of my feet…possibly best described as a faint bobbing upward. At that moment, my entire body buoyed up—as if in water—and I ended up still standing, yet hovering about six inches above the ground.

Strange as it was, I accepted it. My praying companions didn’t seem to notice. They continued praying over me as if nothing had changed. Perhaps, in their awareness, nothing had changed. But in my awareness, I was standing suspended six inches above ground, seemingly weightless, being held up by what I knew was the Holy Spirit; I could feel his presence all over and within me. I responded by worshiping him, of course. With eyes closed and hands raised, I worshiped and praised the Lord with all my heart. I love you, Jesus…I love you…

As I worshiped and soaked in his Glory, I had a calm realization and understanding that Jesus was healing me. Right then and there, at that moment, I was being healed and made well again. More praise, more worship. I love you, Jesus…I love you…

And then I began to feel myself—in my spirit this time, not so much in body—being taken upward. My eyes remained closed as I (at least my body) stood in the church, but in my mind’s vision, I began seeing the whirring past of space and colors as I was traveling quickly upward, toward an ever-increasing light. This part is the hardest to explain. I can only describe it as the swooshing by of matter, as I was being taken upward. I knew it was God who was taking me upward in a vision. The vision continued to carry me upward, upward, as the colors around me changed from dark orange to light orange, to yellow, then to lighter yellow, heading toward bright white light above.

I’m going to interject something here that’s important to know. Since becoming Spirit-filled, I’ve been deeply hungry to know Jesus more. And I mean more. It’s an intense yearning to become closer to and more intimate with him, to know him more, to be fully in his presence. I’ve literally prayed, “Jesus, I want to see your face”.  I’m not being pious, but to know how I’ve been feeling in recent months is to understand why I believe this next part of the dream happened. Back to the dream.

As I continued to travel up, up, towards brighter and brighter light, I recognized that the light—or the source of the light—was Jesus. Jesus himself! And I was being whisked up toward his presence. I was filled with awe and adoration for him, along with an overwhelming yearning to get to that light up above—so that I could be in his presence!

Finally, I was about to reach him. I was bathed in brilliant, white light, saturated with his love. His beautiful face—and only his face—began to appear from the blinding light. I strained to see him through all the blazing light, but I could only just make out vague features. Then his eyes became more visible. Jesus’ eyes! I wanted more. I wanted to see him. To my joy, the rest of his dazzling features began to become more clearly visible. But then…his eyes, which had been open and looking at me, suddenly rolled back into his head! What?! NO!!!

It happened so abruptly. His eyes faded away, and I began to struggle to see him. NO!!! What’s happening?!

And then part of me—my conscious self—was back down in the church sanctuary. The prayer service was still going on, and I was still being prayed over by Philip and the friends mentioned earlier. There was a woman standing in front of me; her back was to me, and she was holding a baby on her hip. The baby was facing back towards me, giggling and cooing and reaching for me playfully, while his mother prayed, oblivious. I love babies as much as anyone. But this baby was the source of the distraction that had interfered with my spirit’s magnificent journey into Jesus’ presence. This baby had been what had interrupted my vision of Jesus’ dazzling face! Argh!

I reached over to Philip, who was still praying to my right, and hissed, “Philip! Make him stop that!” (The baby was still cooing and grabbing at me.) I was still only half-present in the natural, because my spirit was still suspended way up somewhere within all that dazzling light, straining with all my might to see Jesus’ face again.  “Philip!” I called to him again, but it was as if he couldn’t hear me. I was intensely frustrated as my natural self pleaded with Philip to make the baby stop bothering and distracting me. All the while, my spirit that was caught up within the vision desperately strained to see Jesus’ face again, but it was all in vain. The vision was gone. I had been so close. So close to actually seeing my Jesus’ face.

This is where I woke up. Immediately, I felt that the dream had been from God. There was a heavy sense of that over me, one that I’ve only felt those couple of times before. But what does it mean? I wondered. There was the part about being prayed over by Spirit-filled believing friends, and the knowledge that I had been being healed during those moments, as well as the Holy Spirit’s heavy presence that had fallen on me…those parts were all very understandable and easy to recognize as being God-sent. The part where I lifted my feet up and allowed myself to be suspended in-air by his power had an easy meaning: it had happened only once I’d made a step of faith and released myself into his power. Even the vision of traveling upwards, far up into the light and glory of Jesus’ presence, as well as his beginning to show me his marvelous face, were pretty easy to recognize as something God would have me dream: it fits with my deep longing and yearning as of late to have more of Jesus, and to be in his presence.

But why the rolled-back eyes? Why the disappearance of his eyes and face from that moment, despite my desperate attempts to not lose sight of him? And why the annoying, distracting baby? That part really had me confused. I was wondering all these things as I staggered sleepily into the bathroom in the dark (it was the middle of the night). I went over every detail of the dream again, trying to figure out the ending and what it could mean. Maybe it didn’t mean anything. Perhaps I was wrong, and this wasn’t in fact a dream from God. But no, I still felt it being impressed on me that it was. The beginning made good sense and fit with my current needs and situation, as well as exhorted me to continue believing for his healing, to continue having these people pray over me, to continue worshiping him with all my heart as I did in the dream.

But the ending…it made no sense and only confused me. I tried again to figure out a meaning, and nothing came. My mind was fairly fuzzy, still very much in sleep-mode. I was about to head back to bed, giving up on figuring it out for now. But this thought stuck in my mind: Oh, I had been so close to seeing Jesus’ face! And I would’ve seen it, had that stupid baby not come along and distracted me out of the vision!

And then, this:
The baby is all of the distractions in your life. Those distractions are keeping you from everything I have for you. 

Wham! It had come out of nowhere. The thought came slamming in with an almost physical force, it was so powerful. Yet, at the same time, it was quiet. Soothing. Loving. His familiar, still, small voice spoke clearly into my spirit. And in an instant, the dream’s end went from frustrating and confusing, to as clear as crystal. I knew right then—it’s just something I knew in my spirit—that not only had God given me this dream, but he’d also just given me the interpretation of the dream. Incredible. And convicting.

I knew right away what distractions he was talking about. They’re various things that I’ve known for a long time he wants me to let go of. But I’ve been stubbornly holding on to them. God’s message to me is clear: these things are holding me back from my dreams, and from everything God has for me. From knowing him as intimately as possible. From experiencing his presence to the fullest. From seeing his face! Possibly even from healing. He has spoken, and I must get serious about removing these distractions from my life. I won’t have to do it without his help, though. It amazes me that he would reach down to speak to me in such a personal way. Yes, the dream admonished, but it also gives me great hope that there are wonderful things in store for me and my family.

Have you ever had a dream that you know (or think) came from God? I’d love to hear about it.

Weekly Wrap-Up – May 15 – Equations, Bloody Mary, and Severed Heads

Desmond finished first grade this week! Yay, Des! He got a cake, a small gift from us, and lots of attention on Tuesday. The best part, though, was how proud he was of his achievements. While we were sitting at the table enjoying cake, I listed some of his main accomplishments; namely, mastering reading and having read over fifty chapter books in a span of just over two months. Also, mastering his addition and subtraction fact families, along with many other arithmetic concepts. After I’d named those things, he piped up himself and said, “And I also…”, and proceeded to name off all the awesome things he’d learned and done over the past school year. It was obvious that he’s proud of himself and how far he’s come, too.🙂

Also this week, Gray worked on solving algebraic equations, as well as solving and computing compound measurements. In grammar, he finished his punctuation unit and made a 100 on the test. We’re now doing the final unit in his grammar text, which is on writing good sentences. Yesterday we focused on appositives, phrases which clarify nouns, for the day. (See what I did there?😉  )

Some of Graysooooooooooon's work this week.

Some of Graysooooooooooon’s work this week.

We focused heavily on history this week. We had some lessons that all bridged together, so we did one each day—following the great (and often ugly) reign of the Tudor family in England, as well as Mary, Queen of Scots and the hard-nosed Scottish reformer John Knox. All this took place in the mid-late 1500’s. Smack in the middle of the Great Reformation, and all the brutality waged against protestant “heretics” for their beliefs. Though, we also learned, protestant rulers did their share of persecuting and killing catholics, too. It goes without saying that it’s sad that Christians were ever persecuting and killing other Christians—or anyone at all, actually.

It all continually brought to mind (and I told the boys many times) how blessed we are to live in an era and in a country where we have no state church—and therefore freedom of religion. Catholics and other Christian denominations (I dislike the term “protestant”…I use “Christian”) live in complete freedom, peace, and harmony in our country. Other religions enjoy freedom as well. It won’t always be this way, but for now we enjoy great freedom, especially compared to 16th-century anywhere. Or even compared to most countries in the world today.  It all comes down to having a state church. Whenever that happens, you can bet that persecution is soon to follow—no matter what denomination. Catholics were the main perpetrators during the dark ages and reformation era, but once protestants got power in various places, they did their share of persecution. John Calvin, for example—he was a horrible man who tried to control everyone in his stead—to the point of imprisoning and martyring detractors. The Puritans in colonial America are another example—remember the Scarlet Letter? Putting people who’d “sinned” in stocks? Or beating, imprisoning, or killing them. The Salem Witch Trials, for yet another example. I could go on, but the point is, there’s very good reason for the separation of Church and state. I would like to think that modern Christians would do better, but history and experience says they would not.

We had lessons on Mary Tudor (aka Bloody Mary), who was a catholic queen of England; she was also Henry VIII’s daughter (with Catherine of Aragon, his first wife whom he scorned for not giving him a son). Mary was dead-set on returning England to the Roman church following her father’s switch to protestantism. So, she had hundreds of protestants burned at the stake or beheaded and caused great bloodshed and religious turmoil in England. We learned that the famous nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” was written for her—with heavy satire.  “Silver bells and cockleshells” were instruments of torture that she used, and “pretty maids all in a row” were the guillotines she used for putting to death many protestant Christians. Thankfully, her reign was short-lived; she ruled for only about five years before she fell ill and died.

Mary was followed in reign by her half-sister Elizabeth (also Henry VIII’s daughter; her mother was Anne Boleyn), who was a protestant queen. She had a much more peaceful reign with much less killing, though she had her moments where she signed the death warrants of a few catholics, for nothing more than their choice of religion. But overall, her reign was a long and positive one that’s still remembered fondly by the English: also known as the Elizabethan Age, which was the age that saw the great William Shakespeare. Elizabeth I never took a husband and never had children (though she had many suitors and love interests; they just never went very far). She was dubbed “The Virgin Queen” (our state of Virginia is her namesake); she said she chose to live her life for England, rather than have a family. Kind of sad, to me. Her story has interested me in watching the two Hollywood films about her, where she’s played by Cate Blanchett. Our library has them available on dvd, so the next time P goes, he’s going to check them out for me.🙂

Mary Stuart (or Mary, Queen of Scots) was queen of Scotland for a short time, but—as she was catholic—protestant leader John Knox opposed her vehemently. She ended up involved in some major scandal, as she was pregnant with her 2nd husband’s baby (that baby would later become England’s King James—of Bible translation fame) while at the same time being very close and friendly with another man. Then, her husband ended up getting murdered, and both Mary and her man friend (whom she married just a few months after her 2nd husband’s murder) were implicated in the murder. Mary went to Queen Elizabeth I of England—who happened to be her own cousin—for help. But Elizabeth, fearing Mary would usurp her throne, refused to help her. She, in fact, had Mary locked up in castle prisons for 19 years. At the end of that 19 years, she was accused of actually plotting to de-throne Elizabeth (no one knows if this is true or not), and Elizabeth signed her death warrant. Mary was beheaded, and quite gruesomely—the executioner’s first blow sunk into the back of her head, instead of her neck! Her response was to whisper, “Sweet Jesus!”.  The executioner’s second blow hit the target, but failed to completely cut off her head. The third blow finally beheaded her. The executioner then picked up her severed head by its hair, but unbeknownst to him, Mary had been wearing a wig (she’d been in poor health from all the years of imprisonment). He was clutching only her wig, and her severed head fell loose and rolled across the ground…while her lips continued to move for nearly 15 minutes! Pretty gruesome…but of course, the boys loved these parts best of all. Boys.

For the hundredth time, I love history so much! Especially renaissance and reformation-age English history. The boys enjoy it, too. Desmond hangs on every word, and remembers things I’d never expect him to remember at his age. We have a lot of fun during these lessons. All week, I’ve found short documentaries on youtube to go along with our lessons, and we’ve watched them as supplements. It really seals the knowledge into their brains. Now the boys are wanting to act out some of their favorite scenes and video them…so we may do that next week.

In other news, we adopted some kittens last week. They were eight-week-old sisters (now they’re nine weeks old). They are so sweet, and so playful! They’ve kept us entertained (and on our toes) since the day they arrived. They play-fight constantly when they’re awake. They play with everything…constantly! Thankfully, they still sleep a lot.😉

Our little ladies, all sweet and innocent-looking. Cricket is the tabby, and Layla is the Siamese.

Our little ladies, all sweet and innocent-looking. Cricket is the tabby, and Layla is the Siamese.

They entertain (or is it distract?) us while we do school lessons each morning.

They entertain (or is it distract?) us while we do school lessons each morning.

I'm going to go with "distract".

I’m going to go with “distract”.

 

Weekly Wrap-Up – May 8 Edition – Roman Numerals, Heroes, and Heretics (and a Lesson in Smuggling)

Another week of school down. Three days left in 1st grade for Des! And he’s excited, since I promised him a celebration with his favorite: chocolate cake. For finishing 1st grade, and for the milestone of having read fifty chapter books (since March)! I was going to get him a little something, but we’re quite literally out of money, so I won’t be able to do that after all. But I already have the cake mix here, so he will get the cake.🙂

This week, Gray finished up his geometry unit and we’ve moved on to introducing algebra. This is all just the last six weeks of his arithmetic course. They introduce several new things during the last six weeks, to get him ready for next year. Though, as I’ve explained recently, we won’t be using Abeka next year for him. His Chalk Dust pre-algebra dvds and textbook came in already, and he’s all set to start that when we’re done with 6th grade. I’m unsure about him using a college text…looking through it, it seems so advanced. But we’ll se how it goes…many homeschoolers use this program, so it’s do-able. If it is indeed too advanced for him, we’ll revert to Teaching Textbooks Algebra I & II. He’s got a mind for algebra (and all math, actually), so he may just do really well with the advanced style of Chalk Dust. I can’t wait to see what he does. Homeschooling is a constant adventure!🙂

Gray can bisect angles beautifully!

Gray can bisect angles beautifully!

In grammar, Gray’s doing more punctuation work. This week he went over commas, apostrophes, colons, and semicolons. Not much to say here. It’s boring and menial.

Des did some more multiplication work this week, as well as learned roman numerals. Abeka is big on roman numerals, so he’ll be expanding on that in coming years…it’s nice to be going through each grade knowing what’s coming this time, having done it all with Gray in previous years.

Des is done with 1st grade phonics, but we’ve been reviewing all his special sounds until he finishes up with arithmetic. It sounds boring, and it really is. I can’t wait to move on to second grade with him.

Doing their morning classwork. Yes, we often spread out on the living room floor. It gets tiring sitting at the table all the time, and the light is much better in the LR.

Doing their morning classwork. Yes, we often spread out on the living room floor. It gets tiring sitting at the table all the time, and the light is much better in the LR.

We didn’t do anatomy this week, because I’m waiting on P to design something for us that we need in order to move on, but we did stay focused on bones. The boys checked out several fun books from the library about bones and the skeletal system. One is finished reading them, and the other is still reading.
Remember the chicken bone experiment? Well, the chicken bones that stayed in vinegar turned completely rubbery. It was pretty gross. The bones that stayed in water? Well, they were just wet. But still hard as bones should be.

In history, we studied Nicolaus Copernicus, William Tyndale, and Bartolomé de Las Casas. Still in the 1500s. Something interesting about Copernicus: he came up with the theory that the Earth orbits the Sun, rather than the other way around, which was the widely-held belief at the time. But spent his life afraid to publish his theories, because of the Roman church, which was still very much in power during the 1500s, despite the progress of the Reformation. They deemed anything they disagreed with as heresy, and—going against all semblance of Christianity—heretics were burned at the stake. So his theories were only published after his death, and, sure enough, the Roman church deemed them heretical.:-/

The Roman church also deemed William Tyndale a heretic. His crime? He bypassed the Latin Vulgate and translated the Hebrew & Greek scriptures into English—a huge step in getting the Bible into the hands of the masses, which the Roman Church was very much against. King Henry VIII and his Church of England also went along with this, so Tyndale became a wanted man. He fled England, and from elsewhere in Europe he and his supporters continued having Bibles printed in English, and smuggled into England. In the end, though, Tyndale was betrayed, and the church, once again acting against the teachings of Christ, had him strangled and burned at the stake. But his work was accomplished, and thanks to Tyndale, the Reformation moved forward. I showed the boys how many of the Bibles we own have the Tyndale logo on them, thanks to Tyndale Publishing.

Remember all the atrocities committed against Native Americans by so many European explorers and settlers from previous lessons? Well, Bartolemé de Las Casas was a rare light during this time period. He was one of the few people at the time who saw the Natives as fully human and worthy of the same rights as everyone else. He spent his entire life fighting to end the mistreatment of Native Americans. He failed over and over, because the powers that be, as well as the masses, were more concerned about money and land acquisition than the mistreatment and virtual enslavement (they used the feudal system) of the Natives. He finally wrote some books about his first-hand experiences with atrocities in the New World, and some people did pay attention, but little was done to change things. As would be expected, Las Casas is viewed as quite the hero all throughout Central and South America.

Back to the Tyndale lesson. We did an activity to demonstrate (in a tiny way) what it’s like to have to smuggle Bibles, as many Christians all over the world do on a daily basis—at risk to their freedom and their lives. I got out a small New Testament Bible. Each person in our family, starting with Gray, had the task of “smuggling” the Bible into our living area at some point in the day—while other people were around, leaving it there for a while, and then “smuggling” it back out again to safety. If Gray managed to do this on his day without being caught, he was to pass it to Desmond, who would attempt to do it the next day. If he succeeded, he passed it to me, and if I succeed, I pass it to Philip for him to try. The trick is, no one can catch you doing it. If someone catches you, you get arrested and killed (hypothetically, of course). So far, both Gray and Des have managed to “smuggle” it in and out without getting caught. Today is my day. So far, I’ve managed to smuggle it in undetected, and I’ll attempt to smuggle it out later today. If I succeed, I pass it to Philip, to see if he can do it without getting caught. It’s a fun take on a very serious subject.

Can you find the smuggled Bible? It's small and Blue (says Waterproof Bible). It's between the pink Waterproof Bible and the green Vaccine Book. Shhh! I guessed they'd never think to look for it on the bookshelf! ;)

Can you find the smuggled Bible? It’s small and Blue (says Waterproof Bible). It’s between the pink Waterproof Bible and the green Vaccine Book. Shhh! I guessed they’d never think to look for it on the bookshelf!😉

*UPDATE* As I was posting the above picture of my brilliant smuggling job, Des came and looked over my shoulder, saw the picture, and immediately looked up at the bookcase, announcing, “You’re caught! Get the torches!” Oops! So dear readers, I’ve failed in my mission. I suppose Tyndale would tell me how foolish it was to openly blog about my smuggling, with the “authorities” in the same room. Hopefully Philip will be more successful than I was.😉

Weekly Wrap-Up – May 1 – Circles, Bones, and Explorers

My update earlier this week covered what we did last week, as well as my research into next year’s curriculum. Thank goodness, I decided on what we’re using, and I got everything ordered. I found some great deals on used curriculum, and most of it is on its way—some has already arrived. So, what did we work on this week in school?

In arithmetic, Gray has been learning geometry in greater depth than he has in previous years. He’s learned about radii, diameter, and pi, and he’s used those to calculate both the circumference and the area of circles. He’s also learned how to calculate the area of triangles, parallelograms, and some other complex shapes. He’s drawing circles using a compass, and measuring & creating angles with a protractor. I’ve learned (technically re-learned, but it feels like learning anew after 27 years, which is how long it’s been since I took geometry) most of this right alongside him, and it’s kind of fun. He has an incredible ability to understand math conceptually, for which I’m grateful. He’s very easy to teach!🙂

Sample of Gray's recent geometry work.

Sample of Gray’s recent geometry work.

Des learned to multiply this week, which is a big step here at the end of first grade. Last week, he learned to do tally marks and use those to quickly count things like points or items, which is a type of multiplying in and of itself.

Des working on a tally mark project

Des working on his tally mark project

In grammar, Gray and I are almost done with his huge Easy Grammar text…we’ve been working through it for nearly two years! He’s learned and mastered all the parts of speech, and the last chapters are on capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure. We’ll have no problem finishing the text by the time he finishes up math for the year in June.

In phonics, Des has completed his Handbook For Reading, and we’re currently just reviewing all the special sounds together during his last week of first grade.

In anatomy, we’ve done some final projects and supplemental activities on the skeletal system. Right now, we’ve got some chicken bones soaking in vinegar. After a few days in the vinegar bath, the bones should be soft, rubbery, and bendable. This is because the acid in the vinegar removes the calcium from the bones, and they soften. One thing the boys have learned during this chapter is how important calcium is during their growing years, and how a lack of proper calcium could keep them from growing to their full height. Since both Gray and Des are obsessed with being at least 6’5″ (seriously…this is the minimum height they each want to reach! :D), they each decided to be sure to drink at least one cup of milk each day.

Dem Bones...

Dem Bones…

In history, the boys spent several days doing notebook pages on four major European explorers to the Americas in the 1500s: Ponce de Leon, Jacques Cartier, Hernando de Soto, and Francisco de Coronado. Gray wrote obituaries for each of these men, listing their accomplishments as well as their failures. Unfortunately, one thing they all had in common was their terrible mistreatment and taking advantage of the Native North Americans, who had been welcoming and friendly to them at first. It’s hard to read about these things; we were cringing at the mistreatment the Natives suffered at the hands of these explorers, who saw them only as pagan savages—in other words, they failed to see them as fully human. It led to a discussion with the boys about how—all throughout history—whenever a particular group of people is seen by another group of people as inferior or somehow less human (Native Americans, Jews during the holocaust, Blacks during slavery & up through the civil rights movement, just to name a few), it gives them license (in their own minds, at least) to do unfathomable things to those people.

It was a valuable discussion to have with the boys. I can tell it impacted them. I’m not one to disparage my European roots, but upon studying a balanced history of this period, it’s impossible to excuse the exploitation of almost all (if not all) the Native American tribes by European explorers and settlers. Gray was telling me how he was trying to imagine what it must’ve been like for the Native Americans, with strange men from distant lands and with much more advanced weapons and equipment coming and claiming their land, forcing them to leave their homes, stealing from them, and in some cases, kidnapping them and putting them in chains and collars. He told me he’d like to write a historical fiction story from that perspective, exploring what it might’ve felt like and been like to be them. On that note, I really hope he pursues writing as his career…he’s clearly got a writer’s mind. However, we pray regularly that God will guide Gray into the career choice that’s HIS best plan for him, and that Gray would follow that leading and God’s path for all the days of his life.

That’s it for another Arcadia Trails week.🙂

School Update and Random Goings-On

I’m actually doing an update this week! I may even do a wrap-up on Friday. All my dedicated nonexistent readers can rejoice.😉 I took a pretty hardcore media fast (which I do from time to time…it’s healthy), and I don’t blog during those weeks, hence the silence lately.

We’ve been working extra hard to make sure we finish up the school year in time to take a couple of weeks off in late June/early July. We school year-round, so we take just a couple of weeks off in the summer, when it’s unbearably hot outside and the boys don’t like to be outside during the main part of the day. We save our longest breaks for October and March, when the weather here is gorgeous and mild. But we all still look forward to those couple of weeks in summer, to relax for a bit between our most intensive schooling months, and I also use it to make sure I hunt down and buy any last pieces of curriculum that I need. I buy everything used, except for workbooks——and every so often, I actually manage to find nearly-unused and even completely-unused workbooks, for big discounts off of new. So this past month, I’ve found and bought a few books that I’ll need for Demond; luckily I still have all my teacher manuals from when Gray was in these lower grades, so I only need a few things.

Gray’s going to finish 6th grade this summer. He’s solidly proficient in arithmetic, both conceptually and in calculation skills. His calculation skills blow my mind, actually! He’s more than ready for pre-algebra. After six years of using Abeka for arithmetic, we are moving on now. As good as Abeka’s elementary arithmetic program is, their higher math is known for being dreadful. After hours upon hours (and I mean days) of researching algebra curricula and their reviews, as well as much deliberation and agonizing, I’ve narrowed it down to two candidates: Chalk Dust Pre-algebra, or Teaching Textbooks Algebra I and Algebra II (used as a pre-algebra/algebra course).

Teaching Textbooks is a simple choice because it’s so popular and well-loved. It’s fun and is known for being very easy to understand. However, it’s also known for being light-weight, lacking depth of knowledge, and for not being very rigorous. Chalk Dust, on the other hand, is nothing if not rigorous. First of all, it uses college textbooks, even for pre-algebra, and is known for being a challenge for even smart students. It comes with a set of DVD instruction from an experienced teacher (who has taught middle school through college aged students), and the instruction is extremely thorough (10 DVDs’ worth). The instructor is not only personable and likable, he also has a great sense of humor. And he’s quite a good teacher. We watched the demos, and both Gray and I liked him and understood what he was teaching.

The downside to Chalk Dust is that the Pre-algebra course costs over $400 new. But I found a used copy of the DVDs and answer key for sale on homeschoolclassifieds for $70. I found that the textbook is available used on Amazon for around $30. So, I was able to piece together an entire set for $100! Tightwad skills save the day, once again.😉

I’m also checking eBay constantly to see if I can snag a used set of Teaching Texbooks’ Algebra I and Algebra II, so we can have that here, too. Each of their sets runs around $180 new, so I have to find one used or we can’t afford it. I want to start him out with the easier Teaching Textbooks, and ease him into the Chalk Dust. And that’s our plan with Gray for next year.

Des is about two weeks away from finishing 1st grade. He’s come so far and learned so much this year! Not only has he learned tons in arithmetic, he’s also finished Abeka’s Handbook for Reading, so he can now either read, or sound out, (just about) any word. He’s reading very proficiently, though. I’m so proud of him, and I’m kind of excited that I actually taught another human being to read! To top it off, a couple of months ago, he started reading chapter books for the very first time. It set him on fire for reading. He now insists on checking out stacks of chapter books from our library, and he reads through a book a day on average. Sometimes two per day. Sometimes, for a longer one, or if he gets busy with other things, it takes him two days. But he’s a reading machine. He loves it so much that he has taken books on walks around the block (reading while he walks!), and he’s frequently seen walking through the house with a book open and reading…the other day, he was trying to put on his shoes while holding a book and reading it.😀

Once he finishes 1st grade, I’m starting him immediately on 2nd grade (another year of Abeka arithmetic and phonics). The reason is: Gray won’t be done with 6th grade studies until the end of June, so at the point Des finishes 1st grade, I’m going to be teaching Gray for six more weeks, anyway. So Des will get his first six weeks of 2nd grade in before we stop for a break. I told him we’d still celebrate his end-of-1st-grade milestone, though. I’ll probably make him chocolate cupcakes and get him something special.

In other subjects, we’ve been finishing up the Skeletal System chapter in Anatomy, and we’ve been moving through the 1500s in History. Still learning lots about the Great Reformation and its heroes. Last week we learned about the Jesuits/Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier, and Ivan the Terrible of Russia. This week it’s been the European explorers in North America during the 1500s. The boys both love history, and so do I! Lately, I’m especially interested in the history of the early Church during the nearly 300 years between the time of the New Testament apostles and the Nicene Creed, at which time Rome completely took over the Church and things changed drastically. I am beyond curious about as to how the Spiritual gifts (tongues, prophecy, healing, etc) were operating during those 300 years before Nicaea, as well as how they continued to operate behind the scenes during the Dark/Middle Ages. It’s very difficult to find this type of Church history, but I’ve done some digging around, as well as asked a pastor friend, and a Biblical scholar friend, and I’ve found some great books that I can’t wait to read (especially one in particular, the name of which I cannot recall at the moment——but I’ll be reviewing it at some point, once I read it).

That’s what we’ve all been up to lately. Lately, if I’m not teaching school, I’m researching curriculum. And if I’m not researching curriculum, I’m researching early Church history.😀 And loving my boys, all the time.❤

The Simple Woman’s Daybook – April 23

Outside my window… A gorgeous spring morning.

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I finally got all my potted plants refreshed and ready for the season, and the herb garden planted. It’s not even that hot outside; it’s 80 degrees.

I am thinking…of our sweet boy Reagan, whom we made the painful decision to euthanize last Tuesday. He was 16 1/2 years old (vet said about 108 in human years), and we got the honor of being his owners for exactly 13 of those years. I miss him.:-/

I am going… to take a road trip out west the moment I’m well. We need to see the Grand Canyon, and I need to visit a handful of dear friends who live in Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon. We plan to drive west to the Grand Canyon, visit LA (and stalk a couple of celebs…just kidding…kind of😉 ), go up to Nevada and then over to Oregon, up through Washington, back down and east to see Colorado, and then make our way southeast from there. I can hardly wait.

I am wondering… when.

I am reading…The Gospel in Ten Words.  I’m only just starting it, but so far it’ already knocking my socks off. Basically, it’s about living in Christ’s freedom and not under the burden that so many religious denominations and their traditions have placed upon believers. A reviewer nails it with this comment: “It is evident that [the author] longs for all Christians to understand and live in the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul declared, ‘It is for freedom that you have been set free’. The author…urges all Christians to experience the reality of relationship with God rather than following a religion for God.”

I am hoping…that something big we’re waiting for comes through as planned.

I am looking forward to…the above thing happening as planned, and on schedule.😉

I am learning…that no matter how hard I try, I can’t make people love me or accept me. Nor can I make people care about the long-term struggle I’ve had with infirmity. And I’m learning that God sees me and how much all the rejection has wounded me. He’s teaching me that I can (and should!) always run to Him, and that He always loves me and accepts me—no explanations needed. He never rejects. I’ve always known that, but He’s been driving it home lately, and I love Him for it.

Around the house…Schoolwork, and more schoolwork. We’re working hard to finish up this year in decent time. Philip is working hard meeting deadlines. Pippin is chattering away incessantly. And Reagan’s absence feels like a hole that will remain open and aching for the foreseeable future.

I am pondering…some things that were stirred in my spirit last Friday night while watching our revival service.

A favorite quote for today…

Isn’t this so true? I’ve worked hard to get this down into my boys’ spirits, because I didn’t want them to be like me, and not realize this or embrace their unique personalities until well into adulthood. I’ve learned to be myself and love every minute of it (except for the things I truly do need to change).

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One of my favorite things… is watching The Gilmore Girls. This is actually something I thought I’d never say, because up until late last year, I thought I hated The Gilmore Girls. I thought it was an annoying, boring show. It comes on ABC Family in the mornings right after The 700 Club, which I watch daily. For years, I’ve seen it come on and thought, “What a boring show. How is it so popular?” Well, the truth is, I’d never given it a chance. Fast forward to last fall, when one day after The 700 Club, the TV got left on, and I found myself laughing at a particular scene, and, let’s just say it resonated with me. I even rewound it on the DVR and called Philip in to watch the scene so he could laugh with me. So then a few days later, I left it on again, and saw yet another scene that I related to strongly. I found myself wanting to watch it every morning, but we do school during that time, so instead, I found myself hitting “record”, and then Philip and I would lie in bed and watch it before going to sleep each night. I rarely find tv shows that I like, much less that I can identify with. But I deeply identify with The Gilmore Girls—on several levels. In addition, I love the humor, the touch of romance, the often-indie-pop-culture references, and the hilarious extremes of some of the characters. It also can be a very poignant, sometimes melancholy, often bittersweet drama. It’s now one of my favorite shows of all time—right up there with Downton Abbey and Freaks and Geeks—and watching a couple of episodes each night has become Philip’s and my cherished routine.

I am thankful…for everything I have in and through Jesus Christ. I would’ve always said that before, but now, I’m actually beginning to understand what it means. It’s such good news that it makes me want to tell the world.

A few plans for the rest of the week: School, school, and more school. I have a plaster cast of Reagan’s paw print that I made the day before we took him in to be euthanized, and I’m going to paint it. I’m not quite sure what color, but I’m thinking a crimson, since that’s our living room’s accent color, and it will be put on display in the living room.

A peek into my day…

Don't ask.

Don’t ask.

 

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