Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Day Another Milestone

I can't believe the summer flew by and I never worked with the Measle on riding her bike without training wheels. It seems like with each subsequent kid I get around to teaching them the same basic skills much later. Mr. Monk was reading well when he was 4, riding a bike without training wheels when he was 5, and tying his shoes when he went to Kindergarten. Of course, we spent thousands of hours teaching him these skills. Then with Twinkle Toes I taught her to read when she was 5 and taught her to tie her shoes while we were waiting for an oil change (yes, it was that easy). I remember she was determined to ride a bike without training wheels as soon as she turned 6 and literally learned in about 15 minutes!

But, this post is about the Measle, who incidentally taught herself to tie her shoes sometime last year:) After we cleaned up the mess from supper tonight I knew we had about 20-30 minutes before LOL would need her evening bottle, so I told Measle that she was going to have to learn quickly like her sister did. Boy, did she! The Measle is not reserved like her sister, so she was whooping and hollering as she rode up and down the parking lot. I'm so proud of her! You'd think she won the lottery.

Milestones are a frequent occurrance around here, but this is a big one in my book! Way to go Measle!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Getting it Backwards

Big D and I have a tradition of giving all of our chidren a family name. This seemed especially important for our All American Boy since he was adopted. We named him after my dad and I've spent a lot of effort trying to make sure All American Boy understands that he is named for his grandfather. So, the other day I asked him his grandfather's name and was thrilled that he remembered it, then he got this excited look on his face and exclaimed in amazement,"AFTER ME!" I had to laugh at that, but told him, "No, no. You got it backwards. YOU'RE named after HIM!" That seemed to satisfy him. I haven't tested him since then, though, so I don't know if it stuck.

I don't know why I was surprised at his getting it backwards. I do the same thing with God. He made me for His glory and His purposes, not the other way around. Twinkle Toes read the story of Job to us the other night. Chapters 38-42 really set the record straight on who's made for whom.

Job 38:4 "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding."

Job's humble answer comes in chapter 42.

Job 42:2 "I know that You can do everything. And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You."

Family-Friendly Devotionals

This is a topic near and dear to my heart and I want to share some of the great resources I've found and I'm looking forward to hearing about others.

I'm embarassed to admit that family devotionals are kind of new around our house. My husband is a pastor and we've been committed all along to teaching our children about the Lord. I teach 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school and a Scripture memory and catechism class on Wednesdays. Our kids also take Community Bible Study with me, so they have weekly assignments Sep-April that they keep up with in addition to our church classes and Bible memory. We often sing hymmns and pray together at home, but the idea of formal family devotion and worship time is fairly new to us.

I read the Duggars' book in December, Twenty and Counting, and came away convinced that if they can pull-off reading Proverbs in the morning at breakfast, character-training during their homeschool day and family worship at night that anyone can do it no matter their family size.

Here's what I've found:

1. A sweet friend of mine and my kids' art teacher has illustrated a children's booklet on the attributes of God entitled The Royal Attributes of God (it's in both English and Chinese). It covers 30 attributes, so it can be completed nicely in a month. Each attribute has a short definition right underneath it and then several lines describing it in children's terms and finishes up with 1-3 verses at the bottom of the page. In the background of the attributes are our friend's beautiful water color illustrations. Since it is in Chinese and English, the water colors are remniscent of Chinese art and scenery. You can cover one attribute per day in about 2-3 minutes. Let me know if you'd like to buy this book. I can get them from our friend.

2. Wisdom and the Millers: Proverbs for Children by Mildred A. Martin. I first tried reading through Proverbs with my kids- one per day. Mathew Henry, in A Church in the House, suggests the frequent reading of Psalms and Proverbs during family worship time, and the Duggar's read Proverbs, so this seemed like the obvious place to start. I became frustrated after a few months, though, when our kids still didn't seem to remember the lessons from month to month or really even follow what was going on. Somehow, by the grace of God, I stumbled upon this wonderful book. My kids love it and look forward to our readings! The book teaches 25 lessons or character qualities from the Proverbs through "listening in on" the Miller's family devotions and their wonderful illustrations from family life. I cannot stress how much I love this book and how grateful I am for it! Other Miller books include Prudence and the Millers, Missionary Stories with the Millers, and School Days with the Millers. I haven't bought these, yet, but am looking forward to it. Workbooks are also available for some of their books, but we don't use them. One lesson with Q&A time can be completed in around 15 minutes.

3. Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce A. Ware: I really like the concept behind this book, but I'm not sure how practical it's going to be for our family devotions right now. If this book were to be used by the parent as a teaching aid on how to talk to their kids about complicated doctrines, it would be very helpful. When trying to use it as a devotion, we had to stop every few minutes and refocus the attention of wandering minds. The book covers doctrines such as the total depravity of man, the dual nature of Christ as God and man, our union with Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God's general and specific revelation, salvation by grace, substitionary atonement, Christ's relationship to the church, etc.

4. Truth and Grace Memory Books edited by Thomas K. Ascol. These are the booklets we use in our Wed night church children's class. Actually we're using volume 1 for elementary age kids. It has many wonderful memory passages including the Romans Road, entire Psalms including 23, 8, 100, 19, and the first 40 verses of 119. The verses are organized according to age/ability, but this isn't too practical if you're working with kids of varying ages. We just work together in class and I try to reinforce those same verses at home. Also included is a children's catechism. It consists of 135 questions and answers that teach doctrine and includes the full versions of the 10 commandments with explanations as well as the Lord's prayer, petition by petition, with explanations. Great hymns are also taught. We've used it for about 3 years at our church and can see the effect it's having on our kids. It's awesome! Volumes 2 and 3 have longer, more difficult passages and are designed for older, more mature kids. It's the Bible, so you never outgrow it! I've loved every minute of my time in volume 1.

What devotionals have you and your family enjoyed using? I'm anxious to learn of other books we can try, so please share.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reunited and it Feels so Good

I didn't think it was possible to be homesick for a car, but take it from me, it is! I'm one of those enemies of the state on the government's most wanted list that hates the environment, loves babies, and has the extra-large SUV to prove it. Unfortunately, I had a recent run-in with a parking lot pylon and had to part with my car for a week while the front bumper was replaced. It proved to be a much more difficult parting than I had anticipated. Not that I didn't enjoy a week's worth of teeth-rattling adventures in my dad's 1984 Mercedes 380 SE, which he affectionately refers to as his Panzer Kampfwagen (German for tank). It just required making a few adjustments. For instance, squeezing my family into the car was no easy task. All 5 of my little munchkins were within arm's reach of me for the first time in, well, ever. Two of them double-buckled and rode shotgun and three more were right behind us, and I mean right behind us, in the back seat. Add to that a double stroller crammed into the trunk and it's no wonder the old Kampfwagen didn't want to go over 60 without putting up a fight. All things considered, I think the boys had a wonderful time. At one point my 3 yr old exclaimed, "Granfader's car's bumpy!"

Driving through Starbucks was probably the highlight for me. When I pulled around to pick-up my order I realized I was about 2 feet lower than usual and had quite a time manipulating the car and my body so I could take the drink and pay for it. Then as I'm being handed my change, I look around for the cup holder and can't find it. I look in the middle console, no cup holder. I look behind me on the floor, no cup holder. I look on the door (hey, why not, the window controls weren't where they were supposed to be, who can understand this German engineering?), no cup holder. I'm incredulous. I look up at the girl in the window and say, "no cup holder." She says, "No way, how'd they drive through Sonic?" Sonic was the farthest thing from my mind. I was just trying not to run into anything as I fumbled with my change in one hand, my drink in the other, all the while steering with my knee.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I got the call today that my car was all fixed up and ready to go. We're now cruising comfortably again in the Mother Ship, and I think we all appreciate it more than ever!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Rest of the Story

Mr. Monk paused while reading in The Young Folk's Bible by Josephine Pollard yesterday, looked up at me and said "They leave a lot of details out of these stories and I'm not so comfortable with that." I told him he could go to his Bible for the rest of the story.

I've been thinking about that same thing in regards to our Christian walk, lately. I love Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." But this is just the beginning, not the end of our walk with God. The rest of the story is in verse 10. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Too often we are tempted to rest in Christ's work and neglect the work that He has designed us for.

I can do nothing good without Him, but "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

As Good as Gold

I promised Big D I'd blog about gold, so here goes...

In the parable of the talents, Jesus tells the story of a master who goes away and entrusts his wealth to three servants. To the first, he gives 5 talents, to the second he gives 2 talents, and to the third he gives 1 talent. The first two "invest" the talents and are able to give back to the master double what they were entrusted with. The third servant digs a hole and burries the talent so nothing will happen to it and he'll at least have the master's talent to give him on his return. Well, you know what happens. The master is pleased with the first two and not the third. The point of the parable is that everything we have is not our own. We bring nothing into this world. It is all God's. He is the giver of every good gift (James 1:17). The story reveals the importance of stewardship, or management. This does apply to our pocketbooks, but it's so much more than that.

I recently read Family Reformation by Scott T. Brown. In it he chronicles how Calvin and the Reformers understood the importance of passing down their faith to the next generation so that, "when we are dead, a holy course of living may survive and remain." In other words, they had a multi-generational perspective on the family. If you're a Christian and want to know what the future church in America looks like take a good look at our youth. Do you like what you see? Children are a heritage from the Lord (Ps 127:3) and are to be enjoyed. But, they aren't really ours. They belong to God and He has entrusted us with them. What are we doing with them? Will they reap a spiritual return for God's glory? Will our Master be pleased with us when He returns?

Current estimates are that a child can cost upwards of $300,000 to raise. Children are expensive, but that's nothing compared to the sacrifice that is parenthood. The real expense is our time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears. Yes, children are costly, but they're an investment in the future. In other words, they're as good as gold.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interruptions are a Part of Life and a Very Big Part of Homeschooling 3 Kids with a Preschooler and Baby Underfoot

Measle is learning about communication in her Social Studies workbook. She was supposed to circle the picture in a two picture series that happened first. For instance, one set showed a phone ringing in one picture and a mommy talking on the phone in the next. Measle knew that the phone had to ring first before the mommy could answer it and talk into it. In another set, she understood that firefighters came and put out a fire in a building only after the building caught on fire. This is not rocket science, right? Well, the third set of pictures showed a crying baby in one picture and the mommy feeding the baby in the highchair in the other picture. Measle circled the picture of the baby eating in her highchair. I explained to her that she missed that one because the baby cried first to communicate to the mommy she was hungry and then the mommy picked her up and put her in her highchair to feed her. Measle said, "Oh, I thought the mommy was feeding her and then had to leave her there and go do something else, so the baby started crying. You know, like you do with our baby." I had to give her that one and we decided not to count it wrong even though NORMALLY or perhaps IDEALLY it would go the other way around.

I remember a friend of mine who homeschooled 3 kids asking me shortly after I had my 3rd if I felt like I had roller skates on. At the time, I looked at her kind of quizzically, like "huh"?

Now I get it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Knowledge is in Books

In honor of back-to-school, I broke out an old classic, one of my all-time favorite children's stories. "Petunia" is the story of a silly goose who finds a book in the farmyard one day. She knows that books are very precious because she remembers overhearing the farmer, Mr. Pumpkin, telling his son that, "he who owns books and loves them is wise." Well, she seizes the opportunity to no longer be a silly goose, picks up the book and places it under her wing. She carries the book everywhere with her and knowing that she is so wise, she begins to get proud so her neck stretches out a notch. One by one the farm animals seek out her wise counsel and time and again it is obvious that Petunia is still just as ignorant as she was before. Finally, after mistaking dynamite for candy and almost blowing up all of her friends, the book blows open and she sees the pages inside for the first time. Petunia realizes that there is writing on the pages that she can't read. And at last she sighs, "Now I understand. It was not enough to carry wisdom under my wing. I must put it in my mind and in my heart. And to do that I must learn to read."

Of course, the moral of the story is that all young people who want to be wise must learn to read. I can't help making another application, though. My husband has been teaching lately on the Sufficiency of Scripture. We all own Bibles, most of us even get them out and dust them off a couple of times a week for church or Bible study. Is it enough if we want to be wise? Wisdom is more than worldly knowledge or intellectual mastery of some subject. It's a practical knowledge that works within the confines of God's moral law. It is the ability to do the right thing in a difficult circumstance. It requires reading and studying and meditating over and memorizing Scripture. The Bible needs to be our main course, not a side dish.

Petunia the silly goose learned that in order for wisdom to change her life it had to start with her mind and her heart. This reminds me of Psalm 119:11 "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." and of Romans 12:2 "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

So goes the mind, so goes the rest of us.

What's in a Name?

I have names on the brain today. I've decided to give each of my children a "cyberspace name". I know that probably only my closest friends will ever read this blog, but you never know and privacy is important for the protection of my family. I have had so much fun trying to think up alternate names for my kids that fit their personalities.

My 10 year old son is definitely Mr. Monk. This was an easy one to come up with. They share OCD and a hatred of germs in common. My son is much better looking than the "real" Mr. Monk, however, and is a great swimmer and has a rollicking sense of humor. He also loves the show Monk (I wonder why).

My 8 year old daughter is harder to pin a nickname on. She almost defies nicknaming by her very being. I'll call her Twinkle Toes. She is very graceful and does enjoy dancing. She's musical, artistic, and creative. She's also very serious and focused. She's not the type you tease, so I'm chuckling as I write this.

My 6 year old daughter already has a nickname that suits her perfectly. She's The Measle, or just Measle. The name goes back to when she was a baby and had a reaction to her MMR vaccine. We were on vacation and she broke out in this rash. It seemed appropriate and the name stuck. She's cute, little, and irritating (I mean that in the nicest way possible.)

My 3 year old son is my All American Boy. We actually adopted him from Kazakhstan when he was 11 months old. You would never know it, though, he looks and acts the part of an All American boy. I taught him a saying about his roots from the very beginning so he would never be shocked to learn that he's adopted. In the saying, we say his name and that he came all the way from Kazakhstan to Mommy and Daddy, and then we name his siblings, grandparents, etc. So the other day he called himself my Kazakhstan boy. I thought it was cute, but corrected him that he's my American boy. That same week I saw a t-shirt on sale at Target that said American Boy.

My 10 month old daughter is the Light of My Life. As she develops more personality I may have to change her nickname, but it will do for now.

This is not the only reason I've been thinking of names, though. So many labels that we place on ourselves are loaded, emotionally or otherwise. I'll give some examples and think about what comes to mind with each.

Stay-at-home mom

The problem is people are too diverse to stick a label on. In some way, shape, or form, I consider myself to be each of these. But there are also aspects of each, or at least stereotypes of each, that I don't believe describe me. I guess the best course of action is to try not to label ourselves or others, but to take people one at a time, as the individuals they are.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dirty Dumpsters

"Why are dumpsters so... DIRTY?" This is the question my oldest son, who's 10, asked me after he took the trash out yesterday. He's a bit of a germaphobe. Ok, maybe that's an understatement. I heard him taking a shower at an odd time yesterday and asked him why he was showering in the middle of the afternoon. He replied that he always showers after eating an ice cream treat. Hmm... On the bright side, he keeps his bathroom spic and span.

My son's silly question got me to thinking about a conversation I had with my 6 year old daughter recently. I was explaining to her for the umpteenth time why we are in need of a Savior and she got this funny look on her face and squeeked with incredulity, "You mean, WE'RE SINNERS?" Hopefully this was an aha moment for her! Now you may be wondering why the dumpster comment reminded me of my daughter's surprise over her sin nature. My response to both of them was essentially the same. Dumpsters are dirty because they are full of garbage. It is the very nature of a dumpster to be dirty. How could it be anything other than dirty? It's not possible, unless it were to no longer function as a repository of waste. To my daughter, I explained that we are sinners, because it is our nature.

This is known as the doctrine of total depravity.

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." Romans 5:12

"There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They all have turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is no one who does good, no, not one." Romans 3:10-12

"But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
And there is no one who calls on Your name." Isaiah 64:6-7a

By the grace of God, the story does not end with our depravity.

"That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God
has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto
righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Romans 10:9-10

I Did It!

I've been thinking about creating a blog for awhile, and I finally did it!

Why the title "Miscellaneous Musings"? According to Webster's, "muse" is a state of deep thought or dreamy abstraction. The topics of my musings run the gamot from family life to theology. Topics near and dear to my heart include parenting, homeschooling, adoption, Bible study, books, cooking, exercise, and more.

I am blessed to have a wonderful Christian husband and five adorable and hilarious children. Life is fun and exciting around our house and I don't want to forget the cute things my kids do and say. I always think I'll remember them, but often have trouble recalling even the day's events for my husband when he gets home.

I've always wanted to be in a book club, so I'm excited to finally have a venue for expressing my reactions and opinions about the books on my nightstand. I would love to interact with others who have read the books, too.

That's my intro for now. This is going to be a learning process for me, but I'm always up for a new project!


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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.