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Sunday, October 28, 2012

BeThou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
Words: Dallan Forgail

Almost ten years ago the words to this hymn were sung at our wedding. The joining of two broken people redeemed by God, brought together and joined as one.  I have loved this hymn for a long time, but I do not think I truly grasped the significance it would play as we began the journey of marriage that day.

At the beginning of this year I was not sure my marriage would last to see the completion of ten years. It was a sad, broken state of affairs. My heart was in tatters and my will to go on was fading. I was heartbroken, but resigned to the fact that I was quickly heading to the predictable statistics so many first marriages face today. Something deep in my heart would not let go. Chris and I both looked at where we were, and reevaluated what our marriage was built upon. If we truly believed we were just two people brought together by chance then divorce was an easy answer. Life is just a chance. If we believed the vows we took and the statements we made on our wedding day, then divorce was not an option. 
We are broken people who will love imperfectly, but we are two brought together, joined by God, one flesh. It was then we realized how desperately we needed the love of God to wash over us again, and perfect the love we so feebly try to give. I remember these words, Be Thou My Vision. Our marriage is nothing without God as the the reason we move forward. Feelings can turn on a dime, but love requires a sacrifice on the altar, a sacrifice that begins to burn away selfish motives and desires. It is quite painful, believe me I speak from experience. In the end it is worth every moment. Marriage is not a design of men, it is the design of a Creator who desperately wants to show you a living example of His love through this covenant on earth.

On November 1, 2012 Chris and I will celebrate ten glorious, transforming years of marriage. My love for him has grown deeper and stronger than the day we said our vows. We were young, and inexperienced. We were fortunate enough to have a grain of sense that the only thing that would keep us together was keeping our vision, God. Through every trial and tribulation, even at our lowest point a still, small voice has guided us. I am forever grateful for this man God has placed in my life. He loves me, sharpens me, makes me laugh, forgives me, provides for me, tells me I'm beautiful, gives me beautiful children, never lets go, and most importantly loves Jesus and has stepped up to lead our family in such a wonderful way. I could say he was everything I dreamed of, but that would be selling him short. God knew exactly who I needed. I cannot wait to spend the next 20, 30,40,50,60, maybe even 70 years with this man.

Marriage is worth fighting for. I can say this from experience. I have known the depths of hurt, and the mistrust that will try to creep in. No, fighting for marriage is not easy, it's never convenient, and it requires full commitment from both partners. It will require you to soften your heart and chip away at walls that have slowly been erected. It sometimes will ask you to give up the right to be right, but let me tell you it is so worth it on the other side. If you are feeling hopeless about your marriage today, don't give up. True love, love from God will run when everything else has dried up. It will hope all things and believe all things. It will never fail.

Friday, October 19, 2012


There really is so much beauty in the world. Oh I could go on about suffering and injustice. Yes these things are very real. They are heartbreaking, and too often overlooked so that we feel more comfortable.
Still I look out and there is beauty. Little reminders left by our Creator to ignite something in our soul, to awaken our spirits and remind us there is more. Yes there is more of this beauty than we could even imagine. We were made for more than this. You are not here to simply occupy your small space in the world.
You are loved more than you will ever know by a God who has left these pockets of beauty to give you hope. A hope that is tied to something eternal A hope that can make any dark place light. A hope that transcends negative circumstances. A hope that comes with peace that will never leave. You were meant to make an impact in your place in your time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Formerly Known as the Rhinovirus Blues

Four whole days, yes that's right, four whole days without any children. I would be lying if I said I didn't shed some tears preparing my children for grandma's house. For all the fussing, time, and drama that comes with three kiddos, I really do love those little guys (and girl). Nevertheless it is completely foolish to pass up an opportunity to get away with your spouse with the opportunity presents itself. Chris was going away for a business trip to Chicago and his boss so graciously offered to let me tag along. Great I thought, a chance to spend some time with Chris and also a chance to get to spend some time with my self.
Then it hit me...what do I do with myself?] *insert crickets chirping. It was like I had been told I would be going to dinner with a complete stranger. It is sad when you realize you're not even sure what you like to do anymore. Instead of letting this minor detail get me down I decided to get to know myself again. It's only the first day, and I probably should get off here and get going, but I just thought I'd take the quiet moments to write a little note. Who knows, maybe with all this spare time to think some more blogs may follow. For now I am enjoying a comfy king sized bed with a TV that is not playing Yo Gabba Gabba, and a beautiful skylines out my window. I've ventured out for breakfast this morning and even to the gym. Seriously what's that all about?
Let me tell you, it was glorious!

Oh and a side note on the title. I started coming down with a cold yesterday. When I first woke up I was feeling kind of down. It's amazing what some rest and time to yourself will do. The blog started out as whine session, but the time is to short to let a little rhino get me down.
Hope you all have a fabulous Wednesday! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Curriculum Reviews

I've talked a little bit about our homeschooling endeavors but I have never really gone into depth regarding the curriculum we use. I thought I'd post a little review for those out there who may be curious about homeschooling, or looking for materials. I found that reviews from other parents were so helpful in making our decisions.

A little about our family:
This is my second full year to homeschool. I have a 7 year old girl and two boys ages 4 and 18 months. My daughter is in second grade. I have not officially started schooling the 4 year old, but he learns a lot just by hanging around. He even likes to participate in activities and projects every now and then.

Our homeschooling style:
We dabble in a few areas. My daughter and I like structure a little too much to be unschoolers. Our curriculum follows a Charlotte Mason/ unit studies approach.

Our curriculum:
Our core is My Father's World. This year we are using Adventures in My Father's World which encompasses an overview of the history of North America and the subsequent founding of the United States. It includes an overview of all basic sciences as well as basic geography appropriate for this age.
We use Singapore Math, Primary Language Lessons , and Spelling by Sound and Structure.

The Lowdown:
 I must preface my review by saying my daughter loves, loves, loves this material. She actually asks to do school work on Saturdays sometimes. Now what kids wants to have school on Saturday?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the way My Father's World is laid out. It gives me enough structure to have confidence, but leeway to adapt plans and work around different schedules. This year's curriculum is laid out in 34 weeks with one week being an optional week of lighter activities for Thanksgiving. It is planned around a typical 5 day school week, but can be worked around a variety of schedules. Friday is a lighter day reserved only for math and reading. The rest of the day students are encouraged to get outside and enjoy nature.   The curriculum includes lots of great books and a list of recommended resources. We spend a lot of time at the library. My daughter struggled a bit last year as she learned to read. She would dread anytime she was asked to read aloud, but with much practice, and the wonderful book recommendations she wants to read all of the time now! I also love the hands on activities included in the curriculum. It really makes a lasting impression on my children. They are no longer just memorizing facts, it is coming to life. The science is taught through a series of Usborne science books. They are easy enough for a child to understand, but the experiments are fun and really drive all of the concepts home. I remember a lot of busy work when I was in elementary school. I love that everything we do in our studies has a purpose. Each concept flows together and many key topics are reinforced across each subject. This continuity allows time for learning to sink in, without seeming boring or repetitive.
Singapore math is new to us this year. I have to say math is usually intimidating to me. Obviously I can do second grade math at this time in my life, but I always worry about explaining it in a way my daughter will understand. I have been blessed that math comes fairly naturally to her. All of this to say I have loved Singapore math so far. It has a great way of explaining each concept. I really feel it has instilled confidence in my daughter. It is great at explaining problems in a visual way so she begins to think mathematically.
Primary Language Lessons is a different approach to teaching English. Instead of teaching the traditional nouns, verb, adjectives, etc. it starts by teaching children to hear, recite, and speak correctly. The book contains passages for memorization, copy work, and picture studies. I was unsure about this style in the beginning. So far Kaylie has really enjoyed this. I was worried about the memorization, but she has enjoyed it. It is an amazing thing to listen to my 7 year old recite poetry to me, even my 4 year old son is picking up a lot of what he hears. It is so true that hearing correct speech is the key to learning a language correctly. If one already speaks correctly, all of the learned structure that comes later will make more sense.
I do not have much commentary on our spelling program. My daughter has excelled so far, and I have no complaints in regards to the presentation of material.
Overall we are extremely pleased with the materials. My Father's World does include a Bible curriculum for each year. I often worry that many Biblical materials will come off as a bit cheesy. There are times when recommended wording or discussions don't quite fit my style, but the Biblical truths presented are sound. I take these opportunities to have heartfelt discussions with my daughter about life and questions she may have. The goal is to take our knowledge and be lights in the world, not to hide away in our "safe" environment. I use these times to drive this home, and talk about ways we can serve others with the love Jesus has shared with us.

I hope this has been helpful to anyone looking for more information on educational materials. I am by no means a homeschooling expert. I know many mothers have tried a variety of materials and educational styles. The great thing about homeschooling is that one size does not have to fit all. The best thing is getting to know your child and learning how to create an environment that will allow them to grow and thrive. If you have any further questions about these materials please feel free to include it in a comment below. If you are interested in reading more about these materials you can check them out here