Jan 8, 2019

2018

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2018 was a hard year for us. Incredibly hard. We faced job loss, an enforced move, deaths of multiple family members, the loss of a beloved pet, three car wrecks, financial stress, a hospital stay for a teenager, a lifestyle change, and a lot of little trials as a result of those big ones. It was hard. It was a year of grief and loss and anxiety.

But, it was also the year that we were the most blessed ever, in our lives. It was a year of being showered with love by friends who showed up with car rides, cards, meals, help moving, hugs, listening ears, ideas, financial gifts, forgiveness of my forgetfulness, prayers, clothes, encouraging words, emotional support, loving on the kids, teaching the kids math, science, a love of books, chess, how to lead, and more. I can't even tell you how many times we looked at each other with tears in our eyes and exclaimed, "We have good friends!"

This is amazing to us, who have always felt unlovable to be so enveloped in love from so many different people.

It was a year of God showing us that He is in total control. That His blessings are not always obvious, but that sometimes they are hidden in hardship. That His provision is often unexpected, unusual and undeserved but never, ever late. He had an answer for every question and a response for every dismay. Sometimes when God works and moves in our lives we don't even notice, but sometimes, like 2018 He shows us in huge, dramatic ways how much He cares for us, protects us and goes before us to prepare the way.

I'm hoping that 2019 is less stressful, but I am grateful for all the love, growth and blessings we endured in 2018.

Dec 31, 2018

Happy New Year!



Happy New Year from the Fabulous Four!

New Year's Eve pictures are the most fun because it's during the 2 week and 2 day period that the kids are all in a row: this year they are 12, 13, 14, 15!

Dec 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!



The kids always like to peek at their stockings when they get up in the chilly dawn, but this year they were foiled by the elf hats!

Dec 17, 2018

Christmas and Friends



A not so good picture to remind us of a lovely evening spent with wonderful friends! We have a museum nearby that features actual, relocated, historical houses (and a train, as you can see). The museum sets up a couple of evenings in December where people don period costumes and "pose" in the houses for a couple of hours. It's a lot of fun. But it's even more fun when you get to go with friends!

Dec 13, 2018

Individuality, Christmas Ducks and Well-Dressed Boys

As a kid, I was often criticized because I was different. I was a tomboy in a culture that believed all girls should be girly home-economics majors. Comments and snide attitudes that I was given in those days sapped most of my self-confidence and still sting a little bit. Looking back, though, I am a little bit angry about those comments. Why did they get to decide that the way I was created was wrong? Why did I have to like lipstick and pretty clothes and want to sit in a chair all day in order to be the girl that God made me to be? Why did they get to decide that reading a book and savoring a candy bar was wrong enough that they should make fun of me for it? Why couldn't I love to care for babies and love to climb trees at the same time? Why did these things make me an object of ridicule just because no one else liked these things and felt the same way?

This is why I am so happy that my kids feel complete freedom to be themselves, even if they don't fit their cultural mold. They simply do not care if they like something or do something or wear something that no one else likes, does or wears. They wear capes to church, slip into imaginary worlds with ease, and confidently make their own decisions. They don't make fun of other's choices and they make their own based on what they truly like, not on what everyone else thinks.

So, when they were asked to wear festive costumes to their Youth Group, they chose the following...


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a snowwoman, a Christmas duck and a well-dressed boy (he did don a Santa hat after the picture)

Nate chose not to dress-up because he couldn't be bothered to. 

I love their confidence and security. They aren't afraid to be themselves and they aren't afraid to try new things. I wish I had been able to be the same. 

Dec 6, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

On the one hand, I sometimes feel that as a homeschool mom, I spend every waking moment with my kids. On the other hand, as they turn into busy teenagers with plans of their own and hurtle toward the day when they move out altogether, I feel that I can't possibly spend enough time with them.
So I was happy to have a chance to spend a little one-on-one time with the girls as we reviewed Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan.
Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women
This lovely little book provides a wonderful way to stop and savor a few moments of sharing with my girls. They are (almost) 12 and (nearly) 16 and the devotionals were perfect for us to sneak in a brief discussion every day.
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As you can see, each day's reading is pretty short, a Scripture verse followed by a few paragraphs of contemplation. At the bottom of each day is a place for journaling. 
The brevity makes it easy to continue to pick it up, even on our crazy busy days. But there is a depth of contemplation that gives us something to discuss every day. The topics also carry over, sometimes, to the next day. For example, on Day 120, we read about Rahab's sins sticking with her in people's minds, so that even when she is being lauded for her faith (Hebrews 11:31), she is still referred to as "the prostitute Rahab". Then on Day 121, we read about Rahab again as James uses her as an example of active faith. Even though her sins stuck with her, she didn't let that stop her from moving forward in faith and making the changes she felt she needed to make... changing her future even though she could not change her past. We spend quite a lot of days lingering through the story of Ruth because there is so much richness in her story. This gives the devotions a sense of continuity.
We read Beloved together on an (almost) daily basis all the way through November. Wait, you say, we started in November??? Not in January? No! That's the best part, this is an undated devotional so you can start whenever you like and if you miss a day (like we did, holidays are crazy, after all) then you are not "behind"! You can just pick it up the next available day and continue right on. 
The book starts in Genesis and works its way through the Bible chronologically, which I like because I am a linear thinker. It's a great way to gently and simply work your way through the Bible in a year.
This devotional is intended for teenagers. However, it is not shallow and silly like a lot of devotionals. We haven't ever really used devotional books for kids over the years because they are mostly just about public school issues and dealing with friend drama. My kids simply don't relate. Beloved, however, is different. The topics were relevant to my girls and Scripture-based. 
  • trusting God like Jochobed did with her baby
  • Ruth's commitment and faithfulness in her relationship with Naomi
  • Deborah's willingness to stand out and be different
  • Abgail's decisive wisdom that saved her household
  • standing firm under pressure unlike Herodias' daughter
But to be honest, these are great topics for a woman of any age. I feel like I got as much out of the reading and discussion as the girls did. I certainly wasn't talked down to and discussing these topics with my girls was priceless!


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Oh, and another thing that I liked about this devotional! It started by making the point that the Bible is not a "guys' book" but that God "protected, upheld, and valued women in ways far beyond most cultures" and included many many stories of women in the Bible. I feel this is important to understand in our culture. On the other hand, the stories in Beloved are not just the women's stories. It is important for our girls to have male role models and examples as they are considering or choosing their future husbands and thinking about raising sons someday. 

All in all, we highly recommend Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women. It is a great way to bond with your girls and to grow together spiritually. 
Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}
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