Christian family life, homeschooling, humor, and articles for your encouragement and edification

Christian family life, homeschooling, humor, and articles for your encouragement and edification

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Kissing Conundrum

      My older offspring and I have had an interesting discussion this week.  Okay, I have been doing most of the talking - but the responses have been interesting.  Our family has a pretty strict stance on the entire topic of dating. It is pretty much summed up in this: "No."
       We have embraced, if you will, the method of courtship, and let me tell ya, the opinions and boundaries of this practice are varied. Quite frankly, we believe the Scriptures make it clear that the Lord is the One Who brings a couple together. For it is written: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder"(Mark 10:9). The problem is knowing when God is bringing a couple together or someone else is. Because a couple may discover that a relationship they have felt compelled to initiate may not be of the Lord (but rather of their own flesh and possibly even from the enemy), it is important to avoid compromising situations.  The Lord has made it clear that sexual relations outside of marriage is wicked.  The uncomfortable question is, when does a behavior enter the realm of sexual? We've already made peace with our family's boundaries on this topic. 1 Timothy 5:2 states when speaking of relationships to "exhort him as a father (an older man), younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity". In other words, to my young adults I say, "Don't do anything with a young lady (or young man) you aren't married to that you wouldn't do with your own sibling or parent!" Romantic kissing would obviously be impure and horribly inappropriate with a family member. If we remember that God states that we are to treat those we are not married to as family members, the boundaries become clarified.
       Now this is not an issue with my kids.  They agree that kissing before marriage is not okay.  We are in unity here.  The issue is the kissing we find in literature and movies. Over exposure to anything strengthens its influence. In movies, for example, a kiss may seem like such a beautiful and romantic component to a story; but if the couple is not married - should we be watching this?  And I don't just mean the characters being married, I mean the actors. Isn't there anyone else out there thinking, "Uh, isn't this dude married to someone else in real life?" Or, "I know these two are not married and probably barely know each other." Is it okay to kiss someone romantically for the sake of art or uh, a paycheck? I say no. But what about watching it? An erosion of values can happen so s-l-o-w-l-y, it is barely perceptible until something unusual brings it up.
      In our case, it came up during the writing of a story.  Should your characters (hero or heroine respectively - not the villain) do something you would not do and inadvertently promote a behavior you find inappropriate? This may seem obvious, but sometimes it isn't. I can assume that most of you are familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty.  Now, I  know my kiddos can watch the Disney version or read the fairy tale once or twice and not lose their salt (especially with me around reviewing disclaimers as needed). But what if you are attempting to write a version of Sleeping Beauty for a writing contest?  What if you have to create a new spin on the fairy tale while trying to maintain the original heart of the story? A man kisses a young woman he is not married to while she is sleeping unaware.  Does this not seem a wee bit inappropriate?
        My daughter, Hayden, who is not one of the two attempting to accomplish this fairy tale feat, interestingly enough, made the statement, "Well, the kiss in this story is more of a life-saving attempt, like mouth to mouth resuscitation." A very interesting take on the situation, I must say with a laugh. Why would Hayden chime in when she isn't even working on this project?  It is because of a short story she just completed.  It had a kiss. Nothing sordid, mind you, but the two weren't married. While reading the thing, I got so into the story, that the kiss just fit right into the flow of things. It took a minute for me to go, "Whoa!" Hayden would never do such a thing herself, so why would it be okay for one of her characters to do such a thing? So I decided - it was not okay. And thus our conversation began (and continues).
         So here we are - working this out - and rising to the challenge of writing in such a way that maintains integrity and knowing when, in some cases, to walk away from a project entirely if it just can't be done well.  I've attached a link to a very well-written article here that specifically addresses
kissing in a courtship/dating relationship for the Christian. My three oldest read it because I thought it was so good.  Sometimes, even when we all know better, we need someone to throw a cold cup of literary water on our faces so we don't compromise! As for Hayden, here is an article she wrote about the topic three years ago. She is far more tolerant than me on the subject. My kids and I are not in perfect agreement now, but I suspect their opinions may change after that wedding day and they uh, know for themselves the power of a kiss!

Greet one another with a holy kiss. Romans 16:16, 2 Corinthians 13:12
Greet one another with a kiss of love 1 Peter 5:14

Friday, July 31, 2015

Books and Roses

Hayden receives roses from G.G. a week after her death.

Mother's Day eleven or twelve years ago. G.G. is on the far right. She looks like a giant here, but she is standing on a step with my girls. I am on the far left next to my mother.

      The conversation began around Hayden's book, Hidden Pearls. G.G. couldn't read it. Her eyes were getting too bad, but she wanted to know the story. I had flown in on that first trip to see G.G. in Illinois after her cancer diagnosis and had less than a week to visit her before I had to go back home. There was such a flurry of activity in her day with Hospice care and other visitors that I had to struggle just to get alone with her. There simply wasn't time to read a novel over 400 pages in length, and I knew my voice couldn't hold out that long anyway. So I told her the story from memory. I occasionally flipped open the book to read (and dramatize) an excerpt as G.G. sat in rapt attention. She found my attempts at manly voices and a Spanish accent particularly amusing. Sometimes I would even stand up and perform with more gusto (all as discreetly as possible while my mother slept in a chair next to us - it was late, after all). There was one scene I especially wanted to read to her, a scene of repentance. I wanted her to see what repentance looked like. It was difficult because I knew it would get me emotional.
     During my reading, when I would occasionally get misty or "gulpy", G.G. would yell at me. "Jenny, don't DO that! You're going to get ME started!" I would apologize, blow my nose, and continue. She continually apologized as well, because although it was getting late, she wouldn't let me stop. As opinionated as G.G. could be, she sat silently most of the time, leaning forward, with her eyes wide open like a little girl's. She wanted to know how this book was going to end. We stayed up until one in the morning. When I read her the last page of the story, I closed the book with tears in my eyes. She exclaimed, "That was a really good story!" Then she began to tell me one of her own.
    "When I was a little girl, times were very hard and I didn't think I was going to get anything for Christmas. My three older brothers pooled their money together and bought me a book as a present. I was so surprised and happy that I got a present! It was a book about cowboys, and I loved it! I loved the horses! For several days after Christmas, I would put the book on the table next to the tree and pretend to unwrap it again. Then I would read it again and again as though it was for the very first time."

I stared at her with tears welling up in my eyes.
"G.G, that is one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever heard!"
"It is a true story."

    G.G always had a well-known passion for horses and at one point in her life had a few on her Wisconsin farm. Many of her chachkie statues and collector plates are of horses. Perhaps it was when, as a little girl, she read that precious book over and over again that she first fell in love with them. She liked Clint Eastwood too. Cowboys.

Come to think of it, she also had a passion for presents. She loved getting presents as well. Now I understood why.

"There is a secret I want to tell you," I said. I knelt next to her bed.
I had her interest.  She leaned forward.
"A secret?"
I began to blubber. She rolled her eyes and yelled at me again.
"G.G., your name is going to be in a book."
She looked confused.
"Hayden's next book, in the dedication. Alice D. McGee is one of the names in her dedication."
"Really?!" She smiled.
I began to sob. "I fear you won't get to see it before it comes out, so I want to tell you now."
She knew what I meant.
An idea sprang into her mind and she got excited.
"I want you to make me a promise."
She began to fumble her hand around on her rolling table. She uncovered a wad of cash and shoved a handful at me.
"When her book comes out, I want you to buy her five roses. Five of them. You are to tell her that they are from ME. You are to tell her that I said congratulations."
More tears. More gulps.
"G.G., what a beautiful idea!  Of course I will do that for you!"
I gaped at her. This was just such a creative, sweet and tender idea coming out of my tough and earthy grandmother that I marveled.
Then I remembered. "G.G., the rose in Hayden's story is yellow."
"Then find a yellow one to stick in the group", she said matter-of-factly.

     G.G. died a week before Five Enchanted Roses was released. I'm so glad I told her about the dedication. When I held the book for the first time and flipped to Hayden's story, I read the dedication again. There was no evidence there that G.G. had passed away. I knew there wouldn't be.

    But now I think about another book. There is another book I desperately hope has my grandmother's name in it.  It is called the Lamb's Book of Life, and it was the mission of my sister, me, and the Lord Himself to ensure the engraving of her name there before she left this world.
My sister and I are so hopeful.

      Since my grandfather's death eleven months before, my grandmother had suddenly begun asking questions and wanting to discuss things she had never previously approached with me. My sister and I jumped at the opportunity to share the Gospel with her. Although I had approached the topic of salvation with G.G.in the past, and even attempted to have a Bible study with her several years ago, things never seemed to pan out into any consistency. Last Christmas, our evangelism took on a new fervor. We read G.G. Bible passages and answered her many questions the best we could. My sister even downloaded children's animated Bible stories (to G.G.'s delight) and a large print Bible onto her iPad.

     G.G. believed in Jesus, but she had also been very confused about Him from false teaching she had received as a child. She was largely ignorant of the Scriptures and found it very difficult to let go of idolatrous behavior. Trinkets, the lighting of candles, and ritualistic television programs that weren't even in English were a stronghold we battled every day. We weren't sure if she believed in the real Jesus, or in a false idea of Who He is. Over the months, My sister, Beth and I read Scriptures to her, preached to her, and prayed for her. We continued to answer questions and to encourage her the best we could. When we found out in March about her terminal lung cancer, our boldness grew. We began passionately rebuking false teachings and practices.

     To my surprise, I never saw G.G. grow angry about this.  She seemed fascinated.  This was all so new to her. She seemed to recognize that God was at work around her. She kept asking me why Poppa Jim passed away first. All I could tell her was that I thought she wasn't ready yet, and that Jesus wanted her to figure some things out before she got to see Him. Sometimes she would nod and summarize what I had read to her with such Biblical understanding that my heart would leap. I could see her wheels turning as she tried to fathom a God Who truly loved her - truly forgave her - a God who wanted her. Other times, when she'd become nervous, I'd see her revert back to superstitious behaviors to comfort herself. My sister and I explained the necessity of repentance and forgiveness. We stressed the importance of a relationship with God and the danger of rituals and "deceased" intercessors, and that she was free to speak to Him all by herself whenever she wanted. Beth visited her for the last time only a few days before her decline into the world of unconsciousness. She had poured out her heart once more. She asserted again and again,"Grandma, when the time comes, just cry out for Jesus! He is the only way into heaven! His is the only name you need to call upon!" G.G. listened again, but said little.

   Beth and I don't know what was going on in G.G.'s mind, in her heart, or in her faith all those months and what her final decision had been.
I think, perhaps, that God, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen to protect us.

If she didn't receive the truth - Surely He is protecting us from grief too painful to bear and great discouragement.
And if she did - Then perhaps He is protecting us from a misplaced pride in "our" success. I would like to believe that if I confidently knew that G.G. had forsaken false teachings and embraced the truth of Scripture, that I would be so happy and grateful that such treachery within myself would never occur; but I have learned to never underestimate my wretchedness.

I don't know why we don't know. But those thoughts come sometimes - until I chase them away.
I prefer to just fondly remember her and to trust Him.

    God is the One Who makes seed grow.  He is the One who draws a person to His Son. His heart, judgement, and timing are perfect. I am so grateful to Him for the time He gave me with her. She is completely in His hands now and therein is my peace.
Someday I will know - but for now there is only great hope.

     I tell a little of her story for your sake. Maybe you need the real Jesus too. Maybe you have questions. Or maybe you need to fight for someone you love. Because truly, when you love someone, you fight for that person. Sometimes we forget the serious danger the people we love might be in. We forget what forever really means, what the gnashing of teeth and eternal worms and fire might feel like; but most of all, we can't imagine what being rejected by the Creator, Himself, Whom we rejected first, would feel like, and to never, ever be loved again. Jesus wants us to read and remember His words; His warnings. He wants us to remember Him, what He did, and that most folks are going to hell. It keeps us fighting. And when appropriate, it also helps us to let go. We are at war, and Satan tries to make us forget.

To His disciples, Jesus said:
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20

And to His church Jesus said:
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:5-6

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:15

And then there is the book of the Bible itself:
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:30-31

Monday, July 27, 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What We've Been Up To - Summer 2015

     It has been such a special summer!  Since March, I've been able to fly up to Chicago twice to see my grandmother for week-long visits as she rests at-home in Hospice care. My sister and I have rejoiced in the opportunities God has given us to share the Lord with her as we treasure the precious time we have left. I've also greatly enjoyed visiting my uncle while there as well. The girls also officially registered for college and begin at the end of August.
    In Scott's family, we recently had a family reunion where we celebrated his brother, Brian's recovery (and birthday!) from a bone marrow transplant after a grueling fight with cancer. We also celebrated three other birthdays in his family the month of June at the reunion. God has shown Himself faithful and involved in our lives again and again.

My husband, Scott and his four older brothers at their family home on James Island. Can you imagine all these clowns sharing one bedroom growing up? We praise God for Brian's recovery (center front). Love these guys (especially the one on the far right!) Every kid needs a bunch of crazy uncles. As for my kiddos' summer:  I'll start with......

The Boys

 Harrison takes a picture with Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Tajh Boyd at the Ellington Elite Football Camp.  Younger brother, Samuel photobombs.

 About 1000 young people line up by age to do warm-ups.

Harrison does a cone drill.

      Today my three boys are sore. Yesterday, my husband, Scott took our kids to an annual summer event at the Berkeley High School football field in Moncks Corner. Last year, Ellington cousins Bruce (wide receiver - San Francisco 49ers) and Andre (runningback- Arizona Cardinals) began a free football camp for kids ages 6 to 16. The cousins grew up in Moncks Corner and graduated from Berkeley High School. Bruce graduated from USC and played for the Gamecocks. Andre graduated from Clemson and played for the Tigers. Both were drafted a year apart for the NFL.  

Bruce Ellington

Andre Ellington

      A couple of years ago, while shopping at the local Moncks Corner Wal-Mart, I was standing in the baking aisle looking for my particular brand of bread flour. A woman standing next to me was also looking for the same brand. We got into a conversation and she casually mentioned that she had to have her particular brand of flour so she could bake her son's favorite sweet potato pie.  He was attending USC. When she mentioned his name and that he played football - something in my memory banks clicked.  Hmmm, Bruce Ellington. Could this be THE Bruce Ellington my son mentions (uh, excessively) as a rabid Carolina Gamecock fan? Could this be an opportunity for some Mommy points?  This lady seemed SO NICE. Surely she would understand that my son was a fan. After an unusual request, I dialed our home on my cell phone and told Harrison I had someone who wanted to speak to him. She introduced herself to an amazed and delighted Harrison. He somehow managed to get a little closer to Bruce by proxy.  I mean, she did give birth to him, right?
      The next summer, Scott heard about the camp from a co-worker (another relative of Bruce's) and signed up the boys. The camp consists of calisthenics, football drills, autograph opportunities, and lunch with professional players and coaches. It is a teenage boy's dream come true.This year, as my menfolk arrived at the five hour camp, a sweet lady passed them by and said "Thank you for coming" on her way out. Scott thanked her for putting it on. She then mentioned she was the mother of Bruce.  Scott asked her if she remembered an encounter with a lady at the Wal-Mart and a phone call request a couple years ago. She did and got to meet and hug Harrison in person.  He has yet to hug Bruce. Maybe next year.........Thank you Ellington family.  We love you!

And then there are Legos......

Sammy in his "Sammy jammies" presents Scott with his "card".

 The boys created a Nerf gun/Lego shooting gallery with high point values for their tinier targets.

Next week soccer practice begins for Harrison. I do manage to corral the boys at least once a day for some school work.  I have this obsession with finishing textbooks even if the school year is technically over. I also don't want their brains to get dull. It is amazing how much they forget after a few weeks off.  "What do you mean, 'What is a preposition?!'"

The Girls

Aw, her first carrot.......

Emily's garden has been doing quite well.  Her most successful produce this year: tomatoes and peppers (I have nine large, green peppers waiting for me to dice and freeze as I write this) . The mad scientist has also extended an honors anatomy project to do research of her own. Emily has been fascinated with genetics and decided to compare the eye colors of family members to test her researched theories of inherited eye color. Aunts, uncles and grandparents have faithfully emailed her close ups of their eyeballs or allowed Emmie to take a picture herself for an eye color family tree.

My sister, Beth's (Emmie's Auntie Booper) beautiful, blue eye. Trust me, it is not flattering taking a huge close-up of your eyeball. Every wrinkle, eyelash, and eyebrow hair looks gi-normous. (Seriously, how does this girl not have a wrinkle?) Emily is then applying her data to a previously completed research paper on the subject.

She has also continued sketching. And writing.  As I type this, she is preparing her Pinterest story board for a novella she has in mind.........

Her latest creation: "Miss Pole" from Cranford

Speaking of writing.....
     Here Hayden is in a still shot from her attempt to record her answers for a vlog (video) interview for the promotion of Five Enchanted Roses (note: click on title to read early reviews on Goodreads. Scroll to the bottom of the page to "community reviews". Remember, there are five different novellas in the collection, so Hayden's story, "The Wulver's Rose" is usually mentioned last in each review). Video as well as written interviews of the five authors will be on the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog at the end of July. As you can see, the picture above is not very clear, so she is still working on it!
     Hayden is also currently writing two new novels and a novella, so she is continually on her laptop writing (I think she looks like Schroeder from Peanuts).  I also frequently find her hunched in her favorite corner reading a book to review, or cleaning or relaxing with her earbuds listening to music on her iPod.  She and Emily have also starting attending a weekly adult Bible study at the home of some dear, family friends.
     Hayden celebrated her 21st birthday in June. Not only did she get to celebrate at the Wand family reunion and get generously blessed by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, but then my mother took the girls and I out to Olive Garden for a lunch a few days later. Hayden loves pasta and this is one of her favorite places. Another one of her favorite ways to celebrate is to have a day in downtown Charleston. Scott and I happily obliged and took her to her favorite spots the following week. She loves to walk through the old slave market, look at the lovely items for sale and sample the fare up and down Market Street as shop owners pass out samples of fudge, pralines, and nuts (Hayden favorite sample is in the slave market where she gets to sample dips with pretzels. Mine is the sweet and crunchy dried okra). The smell of sweet grass baskets and horses from the carriage tours fill the air. A downtown trip wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Charleston Place hotel to get her free birthday Godiva truffle and an eight piece box from her parents. Scott and I used to work at the Limited (it isn't there anymore) at Charleston Place when we were in college oh so many years ago.  He worked stock and I was the "pacesetter". We met at the College of Charleston thirty years ago when I was eighteen and he was nineteen. sigh.
    Finally, we went to lunch at California Dreaming where I had also been a waitress during my college days. As we ate our lunch, a storm blew in and we watched a brief, but tiny waterspout form right on the water in the window in front of us. Diners gathered to watch a small sailboat break free and drift toward the bridge until authorities came on the scene to retrieve it.  It was an exciting, fun day!

Five Enchanted Roses will be available for purchase on July 27th. You can pre-order the book (or purchase it on that date) as well as her first novel Hidden Pearls on her website here.


     What about me?  I have been digging into God's Word and seeking His face with more effort as I see the Day approaching! In addition to the daily doings (laundry, people!), I've been emailing with my sister, Beth, to exchange Scriptures, articles, and relevant Youtube videos as well as updates about my grandmother. I've also been meeting with my good friend and prayer partner, Linda, to pray for the church (to wake up!) and for anything else as the Spirit leads. In addition to our family devotionals, my family is also on the lookout for current events being fulfilled in the Scriptures. (For example, my husband observed that the recent surge in shark and coyote attacks could be an example of Revelation 6:8c). We continue to pray for the Lord to move His people to be better equipped and positioned for the dark days ahead without neglecting to serve and share Him NOW.  If you haven't read my entry about my tsunami dreams a few years ago, I encourage you to check it out! Simply scroll to the labels section on this blog, and click the link "dreams". As time progresses, more and more folks are having similar experiences.  It is interesting and ironic how many who are seeking to "stay awake" spiritually are having divine dreams while they sleep! May the true remnant of God's people be strengthened and united as we seek to save!
For God did send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17
Although it is hard sometimes not to grieve and complain about the growing apostasy of our world, I believe it is best to remember and emulate Jesus' words above.
Blessed is he who reads and hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those those things which are written in it; for the time is near. Revelation 1:3

Stay in the Word, on your knees, and in fellowship, my friends.  Abide, abide, abide!
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." John 15:4-7

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Birthday, Hayden!

21 beautiful years!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pow Wows and Priorities

 When we moved last year, we had to prioritize what we would store and what we would have to let go. The boys made this plane together a few years ago, but we simply didn't have any room  for it. Scott took a final picture of their creation before saying good-bye and disposing of it. Our family had to prioritize what we could keep in our smaller home and what we could not. Some things were not easy. Emily had to sacrifice her piano, but we found a good home for it!

    At the beginning of spring, Emily had to make a lot of decisions concerning one of her passions, gardening. She had limited space and had been given a budget. She had to prioritize which plants she thought we needed the most. She had to plan her garden carefully (she always draws a map).  Here, she shows Joey where she wants everything. Today we are enjoying some pretty terrific tomatoes and a variety of peppers.  We've also enjoyed her radishes and lettuce. 

      A Pow Wow typically refers to a gathering of North America's native people. It is usually a large fellowship that includes much celebration. It comes from the Narragansett word powwow which means "spiritual leader". As a little girl, I was never a Brownie or a Girl Scout. I lived my first twelve years in the Midwest and was a member of the YMCA's "Indian Princess" program (My brother was an "Indian Guide"). This father-daughter club allowed us to take turns visiting each others' homes, making crafts and going on camping trips. I am not a Native American (I'm a fourth generation Pole and third generation Dane), nor do I practice their traditions, but the word pow wow was always used to mean a "meeting" in my family as a little girl and now I use it in mine.
     Usually at least twice a day our family has a meeting. Sometimes Scott and I call everyone for a "pow wow" or some simple table talk over lunch (like we had today). These meetings are important for several reasons: it allows us to set goals for the day or week, pray, have devotional time, or address concerns. These meetings are such an important facet of our family life, I can't imagine not having them!  I could say that this is especially important for a large family like ours (at least it is considered large to some folks); but I would have to deny that only larger families need such events. This is a wise idea for any sized family - or even a couple. We know that unity is especially important to our Lord within His church, and His church is made up of many families as well as individuals. If families are in unity and harmony, this contributes to the peace and progress of the entire church body. If families are stressed out and at odds, this will also be reflected in the body because "if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it..." (1 Corinthians 12:26). God prefers order, and this should be reflected in our homes.
     Before Scott and I call a meeting, he and I have a little meeting of our own. Usually one of us will feel impressed to address something. I particularly remember once when he felt very strongly that we needed to discuss "filters". He wanted to explain to the children that it was wise and important to "filter" what comes out of our mouths with thinking before speaking. I scrambled to label coffee filters with questions such as: "Will this hurt someone's feelings?", "Is this interrupting?", "Is this person busy?", "Will this embarrass someone?", etc. and glued them to chart paper to make a poster. We sat the kids down and took turns explaining what a filter actually does (strains out the stuff you don't want so you can keep the stuff you do.  They "clean out" impurities, etc.).  We shared our observations of our family's strengths and weaknesses in this area, applied Scriptures, shared my filter poster, etc. Now, when someone says something or begins to say something that is not thoughtful or poorly timed, the simple whisper, "filter", reminds him/her to stop and think before continuing.
     Today I wanted to discuss the concept of "Priorities" with our kids.  What are they?  How do we sift and sequence them? As we make decisions, our priorities become clear to those around us. What we choose to address or tackle first when there is much to do reflects our maturity, concern for others, and dependability. Should I finish that report or draw a picture? Should I do my chores or read a book instead? Should I get dressed first or begin my schoolwork in my pajamas? What is rationalization? What is procrastination? How are a Christian's priorities different from someone who does not consider God? We discussed all these things today and challenged the kids to be more conscious of the decisions they were making and to sequence their activities with more wisdom. We want them to be more thoughtful and less impulsive with their time. The days are short and time is running out.  We must use our time wisely after all.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
     In the throes of school, there have been many times I have had pow wows with my kids without Scott (He usually awakens after we do because of his schedule). The kids and I set goals, read Scripture, and pray about our day and for those we know need prayer. I share with Scott any discussion I have had with the kids after he awakens to promote unity or to make any changes if Scott had plans I wasn't aware of. The kids and I meet again before bedtime.We just restarted singing a few praise and worship songs in the evening before beginning our bedtime meeting. We used to do this, but then stopped for some reason. As we read Revelation 2:5 one night, conviction hit and I felt that we needed to "repent and do the first works". The Lord is disappointed when we shrink back and lose ground (Hebrews 10:38).  How sweet to sing together for the Lord before bedtime! Why did we ever stop?
     The most important meeting of the day, however, is the one we have with the Lord. How are Scott and I supposed to know what direction to shepherd our family if we don't consult with our own Father?  As I look to my husband for his leadership, I must also pray consistently for him. It is not easy being responsible for seven people and I want him to have wisdom and peace while he does so.
     I share this with you because these meetings have been such a blessing to our family. These little pow wows, if you will, have been a true priority in our day and as a result, have made ordering the rest of it much more successful. I highly recommend them!
Happy Family!

"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint...."
Proverbs 29:18a

Saturday, June 6, 2015

More Graduation Pictures!

Received these pics today from a friend!
Thank you, Mary!
The big moment
Congratulated by her brothers
A scrapbook from a best friend
A hug from another
A sweet group of young ladies!
More gifts and cards at the restaurant
Opening a gift from another best friend
A treasure box filled with another box, and another. The smallest box was filled with pictures of their adventures.
 Thank you to her mama for sending me these pictures!

A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adverstity.
Proverbs 17:17

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Lowcountry Heritage Ball

Today I posted some pictures and details from our spring Heritage Ball on our other blog, "A Kettle In the Kitchen". Check it out!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Emily Graduates From High School!

Lowcountry Christian Home Educator's Association's 2015 graduates (LCHEA)
Emily is in the top row. The pictures should enlarge if you click on them.

Shaking hands with our (hilarious) keynote speaker, Senator Tim Scott. A stole and cord were worn by members of the National Honor Society.

Emily plays her banjo during the Senior band's performance of "Multiplied" 
There was also a keyboardist and drummer who didn't fit in this photo.

Emily plays her tin whistle at the conclusion of the song.

Emmie and big sister Hayden enjoy a fun evening with extended family after a yummy meal at Athens restaurant. The restaurant had reserved a private room for 27 members of our family and a few friends.

High school and college graduates being recognized at church the next day.
Emily will begin attending a local college (with her sister) this fall to major in biology and minor in art.

 At least I have one sweet child (Hayden). As you can see, two of my boys are on their best behavior during the graduate reception AT CHURCH. 

I don't have a video from graduation yet, but below is a link to a senior band rehearsal for graduation.
The mic set up still needed some tweaking before the big day, but you can get the idea. The girls managed to refrain from dancing during the actual performance. Watch it on full screen to be able to see!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight , and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Hebrews 12:1-2