Friday Favorites

I love our sunrises. Maybe it’s because we have property here and don’t live in a neighborhood but it satisfies something in my soul when I see the early morning sun breaking through the trees.

Yesterday, Claire and I made a trip into Houston for a 4-H field trip. Yep, that’s right. I drove into the city, a major city, I might add. The interstate is an fascinating mess but people actually know how to drive it which means everything keeps moving even though there is a ton of traffic. And the skyline is so amazing.

We went to the museum of natural science for the Ramses exhibit. After all our years at Trinitas studying ancient Egypt is was really interesting to see all of the artifacts and mummies.

The museum is huge and after we finished up the planned portion of the visit a group of us did the butterfly center which was super fun. I love butterflies and the museum has created a really beautiful habitat to enjoy them in. I did hesitate going in because their sign said something about free roaming reptiles and I was not sure I was okay with that. Turns out they have an iguana that has free reign of the place so it was all good.

It had been a long day but we still wanted to take a turn through the dinosaur exhibit. Those creatures really were huge.

We thought we were done at this point but then a few of the kids came running up and said we just HAD to go see the hall of gems and minerals as well as the Everyday Faberge exhibit. They were so right and I was so happy we didn’t miss them. All the sparkle 🥰

I am always amazed more and more by God’s creation activity looking at what are basically rocks that He made. The myriad of colors and textures…it is mind boggling!

I do wish they had a before picture to accompany each one. I know they don’t come out of the ground looking like this and I bet it is fascinating to see the process.

Look at this chunk of opal! Isn’t it gorgeous?

And then you can see all the incredible ways man uses these stones to make beautiful and elaborate jewelry.

These are all rings. Aren’t they pretty?

Tiaras and necklaces too, oh my!

There were also some more delicate “everyday” pieces like some very lovely cigarette cases or calling card cases.

I loved this little broach watch made with rubies. The exhibit has a tiny mirror set up under it to reflect the watch on the back.

All in all it was a good trip but our timing was off a little bit. One, I think it is smarter to spend more than one day there and two, do not go at the end of the school year. There were gobs of schools there and it was crowded.

I definitely want to go back and visit the museum district as a whole and Houston in general. There just seems like there is so much to do!

Have a good weekend y’all!

Monday Musings

Monday: Second day of the week
Musings: meditation; thoughtfully abstracted

Forgiveness is more than just dismissing someone from your life in much the same way as submission is more than just letting the other person have their way.

Mature community is considering and pursuing the good of the whole body.

“Nothing wrong with it” is not the same as declaring something good.

Love is our motivation and the means by which we are to do things.

Having grown children come home for a visit is the absolute best.

Doing a hard thing is well, hard. It is not an excuse to not do what needs doing though.

Learning something new, especially when it is replacing an old way of doing something, takes time and I can get impatient. Lightroom, I am looking at you 👀

Industrious: constantly, regularly, or habitually active or occupied
Seems like a good thing to aspire to be, yes? But someone can be constantly, regularly, and habitually active or occupied with things that are not necessarily profitable or godly. I like including an obsolete definition that also defines it as being skillful and ingenious but of course the same problem rears its head. I can be a skillful and ingenious cat burglar but that is not a good thing at all, is it?
The what of our industry is just as important as the actual being of it.

I think I am going to dwell on that last musing a lot this week.

In other news…

Hays helped walk me through using the drone I got for Christmas again while he was here this weekend and yesterday Rob and I got it out and played with it.
I may or may not have shared this publicly but the first time I tried to use it by myself back in January I crashed into the house and we had to send it back to the company to get fixed 😬 Thank goodness for good insurance and understanding husbands!
I’m going to keep taking my time and learning to use it when I have Rob with me as backup. I have a terrible sense of direction and get nervous with the controller (You are only supposed to use your thumbs, for heaven’s sake!) so he keeps me calm and able to focus.

My first two real drone shots ~

An aerial shot of our home.

I really love this shot. It does make me laugh though because I thought I had flown the drone straight across the street from our house but it seems I actually took a hard right and went down the street a ways 😂 I told you I have a terrible sense of direction! Someone has a lovely pond in their backyard, don’t they?

Happy Monday, y’all!


Come On Over

Sometimes I visit this space with a plethora of words and ideas that tumble over themselves as they escape my brain. Sometimes I sit down here to work through a knotty problem out loud. I talk to myself in real life too but there is something about being able to see my words and rearrange them, moving them to their proper place and finding the right order for my thoughts that satisfies.

Sometimes people read what I’ve written and agree or enjoy them and a conversation blooms. Other times a post I am particularly happy with does not get much traction. But the same thing happens with pictures so I don’t sweat it much. I realize I am not writing anything new or taking pictures of things that no one else has ever seen or taken a picture of before. There is a lack of pressure in that knowledge which allows me to slip in here as if we’re grabbing a cup of coffee and just visiting. Or maybe a better description in sitting down with a cup of coffee to read a letter from a friend.

The weather here this morning is pretty blah with a significant storm system moving through later. We took down my hanging plants and moved all my recently potted flowers onto the porch last night in preparation.

Did I tell you about my first experience with planting flowers here in my new lovely home state of Louisiana? About a month ago Rob and I took advantage of a local hardware store’s no tax weekend and bought lots of plants for me to put in the ground. Since my success with flowers and such last year I have been chomping at the bit for spring to arrive. Well, let me tell you…the ground here is nothing like the ground in Florida!

I dug and dug for about twenty minutes and barely scratched out three inches of earth. The ground is so hard here, especially it seems in the area of Carlyss where we live. I decided it would be messy to use the hose but I have rain boots so I could soften the ground with water and dig my holes.

😳

The ground is a dark hard clay that doesn’t absorb water the way the sandy soil in my old yard did. I ended up with a nice ol’ mud puddle for my trouble. Hence I now have about sixteen potted plants and Rob is going to have to get cracking on building me some raised beds.

The people we bought our home from are finally moving to Nashville and slowly but surely getting their stuff out of our pasture. Which means I am spending a lot of time day dreaming about the garden space Rob is letting me design and we are trying to figure out where to put the vegetable garden and a chicken house.

So many projects and plans! My beloved has to keep me reigned in because I can go shooting off in a dozen different directions at a time. My mind hops from flowers to looking at chicken coop plans to knocking down walls to reconfigure the apartment space for Sam now that Emily lives in Monroe. (That was a weird minute for me. Realizing that when she got back from her honeymoon she would not be coming here again. She doesn’t live with us anymore. I mean I was at the wedding. I knew this already. But it just sort of hit me.)

It’s been great having a space for friends to use when they’ve come to visit. I enjoy getting it ready and stocking the little mini fridge and having a tray of snacks ready.

We haven’t started renovating the space yet though so you can come for a visit if you like. We can sit down and have a cup of coffee and conversation in real life.

Of course my Louisiana people are welcome to stop by for a visit anytime. The door is open and the coffee is ready! Y’all can teach me how to grow things around here 😊

To Live Is Christ

It would be foolish to assume an easy answer.

In some ways it’s a very complicated issue yet the longer I have twisted and turned it over in my head the more I have come to conclude that the answer, while certainly not easy, is rather simple.

There are nuances and shades of all sorts of stuff that I will never even begin to understand. I am, however, smart enough to know that it is not just women and children seeking asylum. There is a potential threat in allowing refugees to enter our country. I am also smart enough to realize that not everyone of them are terrorist in waiting. Islamic? Yes, but not radical terrorist. No more than everyone who uses the name Christian is of Westboro. The vast majority of them are desperate people literally running for their lives.

Just as I want to do all that I can protect my children I cannot help but imagine the peril these mothers have faced. First to be hunted down and forced to flee their homes and then to make such an exhausting and terrifying journey, all in the hope of keeping their children alive. The fathers and husbands who have done all that they absolutely can and given up everything to protect their families.

I take it back. I can’t even begin to imagine what they have lived through.

There are people who will be making decisions and deciding for us as a nation how we will handle the refugee crisis. We can all be as involved as we can and should be in the process of making that decision but in the end it will be our task to accept whatever the general consensus is and act accordingly.

And this is the simple conclusion I have come too.

May God grant me the opportunity to reach out my hand to the needy.

May He give me the opportunity to offer peace in His name.

May He grant opportunity to declare His goodness to those who do not know Him.

May I be light in a world dark with fear and uncertainty.

Because He took on flesh to meet my need.

Because Christ died to bring peace between God and man.

Because He spoke into time and history and called my name.

Because He is the light of the world.

Because we are to imitate Him.

And may He grant me courage to stand in the face of whatever evil or threat that could possibly come. Because I want my children to see me follow after the way of the cross and not the media induced fear of the world.

I would rather die offering the love of Christ than live having withheld it.

“And the King will answer them, 
Truly, I say to you, 
As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,
you did it to Me.”
~ Matthew 25:40

Sixty One

That is the number of people that came to my house last week for our weekly moms group. It was larger than normal because it was our last big hoorah before school started up again.

Forty six of those present were children. Roughly we had 7 teenagers (13-16 years old),  16 middle kids (those between the ages of 6 through 12), and 22 littles (those ages 5 and under).

I live in a community that loves children. I go to one of the very few churches in our area that is family integrated…meaning we encourage fathers and mothers to keep their children with them during our service so that the family is worshipping together.

I live in a world where children matter. Where children are loved and considered a blessing.

But that world exists within a larger world where children aren’t considered a blessing…where they aren’t loved…where they don’t matter because they are inconvenient and a burden or a mistake. Statistically, it’s a world where one in three women will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.

I realize if you read my blog on any kind of regular basis that more then likely any information I share about the horror of abortion is like preaching to the choir.  So, why am I bringing it up? I’m glad you asked!

I want your money.

Actually I want you to give your money to the Pregnancy Resource Center of Milton. The PRC opened it’s doors in 1995 and since then have provided thousands of women with free pregnancy testing, prenatal and parenting classes, Biblical counseling, as well as meeting countless tangible material needs. They provide post abortion counseling for women that desperately need healing emotionally and spiritually and they currently reach over 2000 Santa Rosa county public school students with their Plan A abstinence program. I’ve watched this happen in person and I’ve seen how the staff and volunteers at PRC invest themselves wholeheartedly in the woman and men that come through their doors. They become friends and mentors and vital support for those who feel like they have no where else to turn.

But they need help. There is more they can do and do better if they have more resources. Do you know that it is estimated that 78% of women who are opting for an abortion will change their mind when they see an ultrasound of their baby? Imagine what that could mean for Santa Rosa county if PRC were able to have one with medical personnel on staff to give that option to their clients? And that’s not the only way more funds could be used.

Walk For Life is a family friendly event designed to raise funds for and awareness of the work PRC does in our community. Here’s how it works. Our kids are signed up to join other participants in walking two miles on Saturday, September 27th at the Santa Rosa Soccer Complex. We’re looking for people willing to sponsor them either in by making a pledge (PRC will follow up with getting the money from you after the walk) or you can go here and make an online donation to team Hadding Five. Online donations are great because that means you don’t have to be local to help us! We’re also happy to accept donations in person. 100% of your donation will go directly to PRC. Our family has a very modest goal of $250 and I’d love to see that number go higher 🙂

If you are local I strongly encourage you to sign up and become a walker and gather your own sponsors. The process is super easy. Sign up as a family or parents sign up your kids or create a team with friends. We all have grandparents, aunts & uncles, and friends that we can ask to give…even if it’s just a few dollars. The good news is that you don’t have to raise all the money. But when the money you do raise is added to the money we raise and it’s added to the money that someone else has raised it becomes something bigger. Plus, the day of the walk is going to be lots of fun with bouncy houses, face painting and snacks.

I mentioned earlier earlier that I live in a community where children are considered a blessing. It’s easy sometimes to think that while we do the hard labor of raising godly offspring that will declare His kingship over all the earth that we’re doing enough. But if we really believe that children, all children, are a blessing from God, and if we really believe that children, all children, matter then we must realize that there is more we can do. This is the something more. This is a way to put feet to our faith.

We’re Back In School!

While most kids have already been back in school for a week or so now we just went back yesterday.

For orientation and that only lasts for three hours. 
And now we have a long weekend and don’t go back until Tuesday.
Have I mentioned how much I love our school?
It was fun to see all of our friends that we’ve missed over summer break and meet new teachers and catch up with the ones that are more like extended family than anything else.
I took the annual first day of school picture but I won’t share it with you because Sam is…well, almost a blur he was so excited.
So excited that he was up at 4:15. He managed to stay in his bed until 5:30 when I let him go ahead and take a shower. 
And loud! The boy is so loud. And for some reason right now he is constantly doing his version of the seagull singing in The Little Mermaid. Loudly.
He has also fully entered the logic stage of the trivium and how that looks with an autistic teenage boy is hilarious and gross.
How ridiculous is it that I will not show you a blurry picture but will post one of our dirty white board? I clearly have issues. But in my defense, it wasn’t a full day of actual class so technically their real first day is on Tuesday. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!
It was weird getting the kids ready without Sarah but she slept in. Or tried to with a pillow over her head to block out the horrible but spot on imitation of Buddy Hackett that Sam was performing in his room. He will have an interesting year of Greek mythology and some Shakespeare, Homer, Lewis and Bunyan to name a few.
The girls all had a wonderful day and are all set to enjoy the upcoming year. Claire (2nd grade) will be reading, among other things, Little House on the Prairie and that means having fun on Prairie Day. Abby (6th grade) will be studying American History from 1815 to present day. She’ll go on a cotton picking field trip and rustle up a heehawwing good time on Cowboy Day.  Emily (9th grade) will be reading Shelley’s Frankenstein and  Rousseau’s Social Contract along with work by Austen, Twain, and Hawthorne.
I will miss the kids a bunch but I am looking forward to a little more structure and routine. I think we all do better with that in our lives, don’t you?

Pinterest Test Kitchen # 65 ~ An Apple A Day

Right now is the beginning of my favorite time of year. Like the very first threads of light dawning across the sky herald a new day, the kids getting ready to go back to school announce the coming of Autumn. 

I start to feel a sense of anticipation and I can almost feel a crispness in the air. I day dream about opening my windows and seeing the leaves start changing colors. I love the feel of fall…the smells and colors. Just love it.
Of course this also means that we are smack in the middle of getting ready to start school. I love the school my kids attend but I sure will miss having them home with me. It’s still a little new to me not having kids home during the day. When Sam started last year after being homeschooled the longest it was the first time in eighteen years I didn’t a child with me.  With my sudden childless state last year I found myself being a little indiscriminate with my time, and coupled with Sarah being a senior, found myself a little over extended. This year I am committed to being more productive and purposeful with my time. I’d rather do less and do it well than do a lot and feel utterly frazzled so that it all suffers.
One thing I want to do this year is be more intentional in showing my appreciation and care for the teachers of our school as a whole, and of course my kid’s teachers specifically. To that end I found a nifty little welcome back treat on pinterest to make as they began their teacher training.
welcome back teacher gifts
These little guys weren’t hard to make…just labor intensive and a little pricey if you are making a bunch. Thankfully, a friend and I did it together to offset the cost. I used a variety of apples since my grocery store didn’t have enough granny smiths.  
I don’t have a recipe per se for these but they are pretty self explanatory.  I tried a few different recipes for homemade caramel sauce before I just settled in unwrapping several bags of Kraft’s caramels and melted them with some heavy whipping cream. (You can find the recipe here.)
However because I love food photography and the light in my kitchen is fabulous I do have lots of pictures 🙂
caramels, candy, homemade caramel sauce
homemade kraft caramel sauce
We used the cute little four ounce canning jars…just the right amount for generous single servings. And may I just say that I think raffia ribbon is a pseudonym for hair of the devil? It sure adds a nice touch but man is it a pain to work with!
They bagged up nice though and I was pleased with how they looked. This would make a great back to school gift your child’s teacher or even the whole class.
apples with caramel dipping sauce
 
Whether or not you make this or something else, I hope you take the time this year to let your child’s teacher know how much you appreciate them and the work they do.

Why I Should Be Critical

It’s been so quiet here on the blog lately, hasn’t it? Not for lack of words or ideas and stories; I have those in abundance swirling around in my brain. So much so that I am having a hard time keeping them from running into each other and becoming an incoherent mess. As I typed that out it dawned on me that what I need to do is write it down and sort it out. But, like most of us, I find it easier to let it all rattle around in my head without actually committing to one train of thought and following it through to a conclusion. I have greater success in creating my reality, whether correct or not, when I keep all my thoughts jumbled and incomplete.

But that really isn’t helpful, is it? Or profitable. I’m reminded of the prayer found in Psalm 19:14 ~ “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight…” It sounds good to say that I am spending a lot of time thinking about gracious living and what that looks like but if I am not willing to really sort out what that means, and sincerely look at my life through the lens of true Truth and not just my own rambling thoughts, then my words and thoughts probably aren’t very acceptable to anyone, much less a holy and just and gracious God who calls me to live a holy and just and gracious life.

I think what I need to cultivate is a critical eye. We shy a way from that word as if  “critical” has become the new “judgmental” and the whole taken-completely-out-of-context “judge not lest you be judged” is applied the same way. The word critical has fallen on hard times in our society but it’s helpful, I think, if we push it into the I-do-not-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means spot light.

The definition that we’re most familiar is, of course, negative – one of disapproval and judgement. That’s not the critical I am speaking of. Unfortunately this is the critical that comes most naturally to us. Our bent, because of sin, is toward the six foot log in my own eye but all I see is the teensy weensy splinter in your eye kind of critical.

But there is another way of interacting with being critical; a way that is healthy and profitable. It’s being able to assess the good and bad of something. When I do a family’s pictures I practice this kind of critical when I go through their images later and determine which ones I will give them.

It falls more under the realm of critical thinking and our culture is not real big on that. We leave that to the egg heads, the more studious and analytical types. The average person focuses more on how they feel about something rather than any kind of critical (thinking) evaluation of circumstances or things.

Is there a way to be critical that is bad? Of course there is. We are a magical people with a boundless capacity for turning something good into something bad, and equally good at hypnotizing ourselves into believing that it’s all good and not bad at all.

One critical is looking for perfection to it’s own standard and pounces with a mighty “Aha!” when it sees perceived sin. The name of the game is control and getting things they way we like it.

The other critical is careful judgment; for the purpose of refinement or, if there is sin involved, for the purpose of restoration. Because sometimes it’s not sin. Sometimes it is just immaturity and a rightly critical eye will learn to look for and know the difference.

As a parent I want to turn this kind of critical eye on my children. One way that this looks in my life is our Sunday afternoon lunch at church

each week. When we’re getting ready to eat, are my girls looking to help with the younger kids as they go through the line? Are my children always first in line? Is Claire taking only the food and amount of said food that she can and will eat? Are they helping in the clean up afterwards?

I want to assess these things not so I can tell my children they are being selfish and rude, but so I can steer them into the better way of being part of the community. I want them to be thoughtful participants within our church family.

I need to  turn that critical eye on myself as well. Am I being a thoughtful and kind member of our church family? What about within my home? One of the biggest ways that I can do this is by being charitable in my thoughts of others. Am I willing to assume the best behind the actions of others? Or am I immediately taking offense at something said or done?

Being rightly critical is a skill long neglected but surely needed in our world. It is a powerful tool that used correctly can strengthen and encourage the body of Christ.

To Share Or Not To Share

That seems to be the question of the day since an article discussing the topic has been bouncing around facebook for the past week or so. Normally I don’t offer rebuttals to things I see or hear on the WWW, but I keep getting asked about this so here’s my thoughts, for whatever they’re worth.

To be fair, I agree to a certain extent with the author’s position that we aren’t doing our children any favors by teaching them that they can have something someone else has simply because they want it. But I think this becomes an issue because we’re focusing on something that really isn’t the point.

The point isn’t really whether or not we should be teaching our children to share. The point is are we raising children that value others over themselves?

Are we cultivating a heart that is learning from an early age to eagerly and joyfully seek the well being of others?

Are we training our children to know how and when they should choose someone else’s happiness and wants over their own?

I think there is a big difference between teaching them to share for the sake of sharing and teaching them to enjoy what they have but also be willing to let others have a turn enjoying it as well.

One reinforces the idea that my wants are priority, and one teaches the idea that our joy and delight is made fuller when we include others.

Is there ever a time when they don’t have to share? Maybe. Probably. I mean just getting the best ever gift for your birthday and having it for all of five seconds before having to let others share in the joy doesn’t seem right or all that fun.

So it would seem that wisdom would dictate whether a certain toy should be brought into group settings. Why put the child in a position to choose their stuff over their friends? Their wants and happiness over that of others? Why place other children in a position to covet what another has?

Our personal policy was no sharing no taking. Of course we also taught our kids that if a friend had something and wasn’t letting them play with it they needed to find something else to play with. Hardly seems fair unless of course they were playing in a community where everyone was teaching their child the same thing. And sometimes we were in a place full of like minded people and sometimes we weren’t. Valuable lessons were learned either way.

Is there a time when you should force your child to bring out the best ever birthday present and share it? Absolutely, you don’t want them to be hoarders or miserly.  But we made that happen in situations were there was less risk to the treasured toy being abused or broken.

Is there ever a time when you should teach your child to just be happy that a friend has been blessed with something wonderful? Yes, of course.  There are always going to be times in life where one person has and another has not and we want our children to rejoice sincerely in either of those times.

But these are lessons that aren’t learned in a vacuum apart from real life. They happen in community where, hopefully, they learn more than whether they should have to share or not. It’s a community that should be teaching them the value of another human being over material stuff. And that the feelings of others should be considered before their own.

The End of One Thing…The Beginning of Another

A week ago Thursday night we celebrated our first graduation. I wasn’t as weepy as I expected, although let me be clear that in the week leading up to that night Sarah’s entire life passed through my mind at some point or other. And the tears flowed freely during those times.

And to also be clear, they were present at the graduation too. When we were singing the school song, Be Thou My Vision, and I could see her tears as the reality of what was happening hit her, they fell. And there was this moment that even now makes my breath hitch.

When Sarah was little I taught at a Montessori day school. When she turned three she came to my class and to help with the transition if I was leading circle time we would flash each other the I love you sign. During the graduation ceremony we managed to make eye contact and without thinking that hand sign flashed. And oh, the tears fell.

It was a happy time and it is good and right because she is ready to move on to the next phase of growing up. She is well prepared for whatever that is and will do well thanks in part to the community and life at Trinitas.

We were blessed to have family and so many friends come watch and celebrate with us.  There were a lot of hugs and smiles and more than a few photo bombs.

For now she has started working as a nanny for some dear friends of ours and will be doing a lot of reading with her father in the next few months and spend some time learning and developing a love for some life skills (read she is going to learn how to cook and budget and all manner of household things 😉

Pretty proud of her.