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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Busy

I have been reflecting some on what it means to be busy and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing or neutral. I am definitely a busy person. I like being busy. I make myself busy whenever I can. I often take on too much to keep busy.

But my real internal debate is what it means when someone says, "How are you?" and one responds, "Busy." Is that a complaint? Is it a boast? Is it simply the truth? It could be all of the above.

I feel that if my life were not busy, I would be sad. I want a full life, and I enjoy the busy that comes with being a homeschooling mom of four. I even enjoy the busy that comes from serving others outside of my home, particularly serving other busy, homeschooling mothers.

Now, the trick, I think, is to be sure the busy is God's will and does not prevent us from stopping to smell the roses, so to speak. I must constantly guard against my busy causing stress and negatively affecting those I love. I have to temper my desire to "do it all," because I can't. Some days that's easier than others.

In truth, on the days it works, it's not that hard. I just keep repeating "Jesus, I trust in You." I take the time to listen to my children, read with my children, go outside with my children, love on my husband, and everything else seems to fall into place. God is good that way.

Because really when our busy is serving the Lord, it is a blessing. It means we are giving Him everything we've got and holding nothing back! I have to constantly remind myself to turn back to Him over and over and that all I do is to glorify Him. Then, He gives me rest when I am weary and reminds me that the worry is pointless, enabling me to relax into the busy and find peace despite the rapid pace of my days.

What keeps you busy? Are you good busy or unhappy busy?


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why join a peg doll saint swap? - Top 10 Reasons

During Lent some friends of mine (and their friends) joined together for a peg doll saint swap. If you haven't heard about how it works, basically each family chooses a saint to paint and paints multiple copies of the same saint. Then, we get together and swap to get a finished set of diverse saints. I figured I could get 20-30 families together, and we could create a set of saints as Easter gifts for our children. In the end, much to my surprise 47 families joined, mostly from Texas but not all from San Antonio. I just couldn't turn anyone away! Here is our almost-completed set (a few families fell behind on their timeline, and that's okay in my swaps!):



So many of us enjoyed the swap and had so many friends and family members asking about how to do it, that I am coordinating another swap this summer. This one will have several options, subdividing families into groups based on if they participated in our Spring swap or not, quantity of saints they are willing to paint, and even some Old Testament figure swap groups!

Why did we enjoy adding one more thing to our plate during Lent, especially those of us who are less than artistically gifted? After talking to several of the moms over the past couple of weeks, I have compiled the top ten reasons I have heard from our swappers for participating in such a swap. Lacy has a great list of reasons, too!
  1. It was time well spent! There are many things we do that, in the end, are not really worth the time we invest, but both the process and the outcome were so fruitful that it was a good use of our time.
  2. It required sitting down! Or at least remaining still for relatively long periods of time. Our lives as moms are busy, and we always seem to be moving. Focusing on painting our saints was a gift to our weary bodies.
  3. It provided time to think and pray! Many of us stayed up late at night to paint when our little ones were in bed, and it gave us quiet time to ponder our own thoughts and spend time in prayer with our saints and the Lord.
  4. It was affordable! Except for the women who lived out of town and had to pay postage to ship their dolls, each family paid around $40 for the materials for a set of 48 saints. One saint on Etsy, while definitely painted by exceptionally talented individuals, runs about $30.  
  5. It resulted in a finished product! Most of our work as mothers is undone just as soon as we do it (think laundry, cleaning, cooking), but standing back and admiring our saints has been quite gratifying.
  6. It forced us to be creative! Being creative has been linked to all kind of therapeutic benefits. Those of us who aren't naturally artistic were still able to create saints with unique personalities, even if some are much simpler than others.
  7. It brought beauty into our homes! These are wooden toys, which are solid and beautiful. Beauty truly brings us closer to God, the source of all beauty, and our children are drawn to them.
  8. My little children love them! To see their little hands grasp these saints and for them to choose their favorites for play is remarkable. They are a great size for little hands and inspire them early to make friends with the saints.
  9. My big children love them! Not only do they study them and name them and ask about them, the bigger children even want to paint their own, releasing their creativity and cultivating craftsmanship.
  10. My husband even loves them! This is a totally personal note. My husband hates clutter and knick-knacks, but even he is proud of our collection, allowing them to be prominently displayed in our home.


So if you are interested in joining us this summer or have any questions about how to organize your own swap, let me know in the comments below! I'm not going to post links to our guidelines and sign-up form, because I do need to know a bit about you before you join us, to make sure you're legit.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Best Easter Gift Ever!

I'm nearly exploding with enthusiasm over here, and I'm terrible at keeping things from my kids. My husband would not truly appreciate my level of excitement over my plan. So, I'm here to share it with you! Aren't you lucky?!

A few months ago, thanks to Sarah's glowing recommendations, I read aloud The Green Ember by S.D. Smith to my children. It's tagline is "A new adventure with an old soul," which is right on target. We are on a Read Aloud Revival (episode 12) inspired streak, and the big kids and I have only missed one day of reading aloud together for pure pleasure (not for homeschooling purposes) in 172 days (and that includes our three-month trip to Virginia and back). When I say that we loved The Green Ember, that's putting it mildly.




I was overjoyed, seriously, to find a modern book with such value for my family. It's well-written compared with most. The vocabulary is excellent. The characters are relatable (blogger tells me that's not a word, but you know what I mean) and somewhat complex (for kids). The plot is full of adventure, mystery, love, family, good guys, bad guys, suffering, and joy. And the lessons! Oh my! Teaching my kids about courage and loss, trust and deception, leadership and faith, this book is a gem.

Need I say more? Okay! I will.  #rabbitswithswords - truly the best element! The book began as a story S.D. Smith told his own children and developed from there. You can hear his story about how the book came to be on Read Aloud Revival Episode 21. My children are doodling rabbits in the margins of their math books! It's an adventure story, a page-turner, and we never wanted to put it down! Back to my super secret plan...

I have created a #rabbitswithswords Easter gift basket for my kiddos! It includes:

The Green Ember in paperback (we read the Kindle version)
The Green Ember audiobook
4 sets of rabbit ears found at the Target Dollar Spot
4 swords found at the Dollar Tree

Ssshhh! Don't tell! They're going to be SO excited! Those of you who have read the book, am I missing anything in my gift package? Maybe a bunch of carrots? :) Now, as Sarah says...
I’m going to be crazy bossy here and tell you this: if you read nothing else to your kids this year, read The Green Ember. This is a book that will steep your family’s imagination in the good, true, and beautiful. The characters encounter tremendous difficulty and face them with indomitable courage. You will laugh, cry, and find your heart racing. You will wonder if you could possibly live up to the nobility and fortitude Heather and Picket.
You will, in short, fall down a rabbit hole. :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jesus' Questions: Day 26

I'm trying something new this Lent. My goal is to find a simple way to talk about living our faith with my children on a daily basis, outside of our (more) formal studies of Scripture and Catechism. This series is based on the questions Jesus asks within the Gospel of Matthew. I am brainstorming here some ways to discuss these passages with each of my children and am sharing with you in hopes that you and your children might be blessed by daily faith sharing. If you try this with your children, I would love to hear about your conversations in the comments!
Are even you still without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. ~ Matthew 15:16-18
Focus ~ Ew! Gross! Jesus was talking about our digestive system? He is actually pointing out to the Pharisees that they are too focused on following the strict Old Testament dietary laws and not being careful about what they say to one another and to Him.

Littles ~ What kinds of words would Jesus like us to speak all the time?

Middles ~ What would you say to Jesus if you could meet him?

Bigs ~ How do our words, even after they are spoken, hurt our hearts?

Moms ~  Talk about how, in your life, words you have spoken hurt others and how they hurt you at the same time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jesus' Questions: Day 25


I'm trying something new this Lent. My goal is to find a simple way to talk about living our faith with my children on a daily basis, outside of our (more) formal studies of Scripture and Catechism. This series is based on the questions Jesus asks within the Gospel of Matthew. I am brainstorming here some ways to discuss these passages with each of my children and am sharing with you in hopes that you and your children might be blessed by daily faith sharing. If you try this with your children, I would love to hear about your conversations in the comments!
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.” He said to them in reply, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" ~ Matthew 15:1-3
 
Focus ~ Just because everyone does it, doesn't mean it's right. Everything must be subject to God's law before common practice.

Littles ~ Can you name one of God's commandments?

Middles ~ Give an example of something a lot of people do but breaks God's laws.

Bigs ~ Give another example of something a lot of people do but breaks God's laws.

Moms ~  Talk about common sins in our culture and the struggle today between tolerating differences and respecting God's laws, appropriate to your children's ages.
 

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