Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to school!

I'm excited to say that Oden Academy has kicked off a new school year with a first grader, a Pre-K big 4 year old, and a preschool smartie. 

Our too cool 1st grader

Our big boy Pre-K 4 year old
And, our sweet and sassy preschooler.
And let's not forget our student in waiting, our sweet Sophie Joy. 
People ask me all the time how I do it, but really, I wonder how they do it!  Homeschooling has been a walk of faith and a natural process for our family and it just works.  One of the joys of homeschooling for me has been the flexibility.  I love getting an idea to go somewhere or do something that we're learning about and just doing it!  And, let's not forget the perk of doing school in your pjs!
I also love being able to teach my kids Godly principles while they're still at home.  It brings me so much joy to do this.  This morning, I lead them into a discussion about the bible.  We read this from the Jesus Storybook:
"The Heavens are singing about how great God is;  and the skies are shouting it out, "See what God has made!'  Day after day...Night after night...They are speaking to us."  Psalm 19:1-2 (paraphrased).  We talked about how God gave us this book to tell about Himself and it's a story of Him.  It's also a story of a great hero that comes to save the people he loves.  We will be reading through their bible this year and this thrills me!
And, yes, we'll be learning the basic subjects too.  I was so impressed at how much even little Ella is already starting to learn in reading.  Luke's favorite subject is math.  And, Jacob started learning the letter "A" today.  Sophie cooed and gooed and made us laugh through it all.  :)
I hope you'll follow along on our adventures of homeschool, crafting, and more.  By the way, a little table is calling my name out in the garage. 
Hmmm....what color should I paint it?  Ideas??  :) 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Having it all together

"There is an illusion out there that some women have it all together-but really, it is only women who trust God to have it all together, that will ever have the hope that their labor of love will ever amount to anything."  Sally Clarkson

I read this today as I've been pondering over some things.  Isn't it funny and ridiculous how we often compare ourselves with one another as women, as moms?  We look at beautiful pictures of smiling moms and dads and somehow think that is reality.  No, friends that is a pretty picture.  Reality is that life is hard, kids whine and throw fits, and sometimes we feel like losing it.  So, how on earth can we "hold it together" in this world we live it?  We can trust God to do it for us, that's our only hope.  Because really, we can't, no matter how hard we try, hold it all together and make it work perfectly.  Children will come undone, houses will come undone, and sometimes moms come unglued.  But, thankfully, we have a Lord who is our glue, who says, "Be still" to the waves in our lives.  We can rest in Him. 

As I've been praying for more gentleness as a mom and a woman, I've been tested in more ways that I can count.  Last night, I decided to take some pictures of the kids with their daddy for Father's Day.  I had great hopes of what these pictures would look like, you know, maybe like a good Kodak commercial.  Daddy is smiling, children are all smiling and posing perfectly.  It would be a dream.  Wait, that is a dream.  And, yes, mama got snappy and had to ask for forgiveness from the boys for being so.  But, we did get some good laughs and a few good pics.  Thank Heavens for daddies!  I'm glad to have a good man, who is a great father to our four children and patient with me. 

I hope you get some smiles from these.  I did. :)

Take one! 

Take two!
Take three!
And four!

(Sisters were NOT happy):)

Last one, won't make you move any more daddy, I promise. ;)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rub a dub dub, a word about gentleness

Yesterday was a fun filled wonderful day.  I prepared all morning to see some of my dearest friends from college.  As we crammed 5 girls and 13, yes 13 children, 4 of which are new babies, into my little home, life was good.  We ate and talked and played with each others babies and picked up right where we left off, just like always.  It was a great time, but at the end of the day, I was feeling pretty exhausted.  Lance and I had spent the weekend finishing a huge project that had been brewing for almost a year, our picket fence.  I had painted over 150 fence pickets and my body was feeling it.  The day before was spent with another group of dear friends from church, shopping, eating, and celebrating Sophie's birth.  My heart was feeling full, but my body was feeling tired. 

That night, Lance and I decided to get away for a bit after dinner. Our "getting away" includes our 4 small children.  So we drove by, picked up some yogurt, and headed to the church playground for a change of scenery.  We ate our yogurt at the kiddie picnic table and realized the sprinklers at church were going.  This called for a triple dog dare to run through those sprinklers, I couldn't pass that up.  So, I watched the boys run through sprinklers, laughing and soaking their clothes through.  Being 6 and 3 means laughter will quickly preceed tears as their little soaked bodies are freezing with cold.  So we stripped off the wet clothes and loaded everyone in the van to head home.  My little 3 year old wasn't handling the cold well.  He was crying, actually wailing, as we headed for the LONG 15 minute drive home.  I was so tired and thought, why is he crying?  He's dry, he's in a warm car, we're headed home.  But, he continued to cry.  Lance and I both continued to grow impatient.  I wanted to snap at him and tell him to hush.  But, by God's grace, I remembered something.  A word.  Gentleness. 

Over the past several weeks, God has been etching this in my mind.  I've read and remembered how gently Jesus treated his disciples, even when they didn't deserve it.  I know He was tired, exhausted, weary.  But, he continued to model gentleness with them.  "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls".  Matthew 11:29.  Isn't that interesting?  We crave rest and our Lord will give us rest and gently lead us as we lead our children with gentleness.  So, through gritted teeth, I approached my son with gentleness.  I talked with him about that warm bubble bath that awaited him at home, while I spoke in a soothing voice.  And, I saw something remarkable.  He began to calm, his tears stopped, his body relaxed, and he started to become excited about that bath.  The wailing child had calmed down, not from a snappy mom, but a gentle one.  I learned something huge from my little boy about gentleness.  I will pray for more of this and by God's grace, display it to my children, because it's awesome and amazing. 

  "Your beauty...should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3: 3-4

Friday, April 6, 2012

The story of Sophie's birth

Well, I've been thinking about writing this story for awhile, but I've been a little busy, heehee.  The crazy thing is I could've counted the hours down to when Sophie was born, then poof, she's almost two weeks old already.  Time flies when you're adjusting and loving on a newborn.  We have had some precious moments these past few weeks that I'll remember forever. 

So, rewind to about a month before Sophie Joy was born.  I'd been having thoughts, crazy thoughts.  I was thinking about having this baby totally naturally, drug-free, no epidural, nothing.  =)...This is something I've always wanted to do, but never knew I could do it.  I was the child that faked a choking incident when I was 5 to avoid my kindergarten shots.  I do not like pain.  Of course, no one does, unless you have a really good reason.  My reason was to give my baby the best birth I possibly could.  So, I started doing my research, reading some books, and talking to friends who had done this before.  And, I prayed a lot.  I prayed and asked God to guide us on this.  Some things really needed to line up.  I was scheduled to have Sophie at a hospital that isn't known for being pro-natural births, so I needed the okay from my specialist to transfer back to Baptist Hospital, which is a fabulous place to have a natural birth.  God lined everything up.  My specialist gave me the okay and I transferred back to the Cornerstone Clinic at Baptist.  My doctor there was such a naturalist that it almost drove me crazy.  After one of my doctor visits, Lance asked me what "the plan" was.  Um, the plan is whenever the baby decides to come, we'll have her.  =)...So, we just waited.  I was getting nervous.  I have a history of big babies.  And, a big baby and a natural birth just sounded scary to me.  But, this was a great time for me to just trust in the Lord.  So, I waited and trusted and prayed some more. 

Thursday, March 22nd, I really thought Sophie was coming.  I'd been having regular contractions for over 2 hours.  We made it to the hospital, walked and walked and walked some more, but it only made me exhausted and dilated to a 4, contractions fizzling out.  I cried on the way home because I really wanted to see this baby.  Lance and I made a trip to the Waffle House at midnight and still laugh about the workers joking with us about having the baby there. 

So, here I was, dilated to a 4 and nothing happening.  This was depressing.  I was so ready.  But, God kept reminding me about His perfect timing for Sophie.  I waited and walked and walked and tried to rest too.  Saturday, March 24th, I could not sleep.  I tossed and turned and had the same contractions I'd had a million times before that didn't turn into labor, so I ignored them...for awhile anyway.  By early Sunday morning, I couldn't sleep anymore, I knew I was in labor. 

When we finally made it to the hospital, I was dilated to a 5 and in labor!  Yay! =)...I was a little nervous, but God had provided me with a wonderful nurse and doula, and of course my great coach of a hubby.  Lance was extremely attentive and great through the whole thing.  My body knew exactly what to do and honestly, it wasn't that bad!  Even with the hardest contractions, God gives us rest in between.  It was neat to see the difference in a natural birth and a medicated one.  Sophie was calm at birth and I could see a difference in how she reacted verses my three other kiddos.  Not to mention, it was easier on my body because I could move around verses being numb from waist down.  Finally, it was a great feeling of accomplishment.  Maybe this is how a marathon runner feels at the end of a race.  =)...God's way is always the best way.  This isn't to say that some women don't have health issues that prevent them from having a natural birth.  I know what that's like.  I have health issues that prevent me from breastfeeding.  And, I'm okay with that.  But, if you can do it, think about it, because it's really awesome! 

Finally, I just want to thank God for answering prayers and bringing Sophie here safely.  What a wonderful answered prayer she is to me.  Every time I think of her name, Sophie (meaning wisdom) and Joy (for the indescribable peace God gave me during this pregnancy), I rejoice and am thankful to God. 

"For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever".  Psalm 100:5

Monday, March 19, 2012

While I wait...

I'm almost 38 weeks pregnant and tonight I felt God gave me a reality check.  Yes, I'm more than ready to be holding little Sophie in my arms, but I can't forget what I have to do now, while I wait.

Today, I went in to the doctor for swelling, not just the normal kind, but for some reason I've developed quite a bit of swelling the last few days.  So, you can imagine how I was feeling.  I was tired from being up the past night, didn't sleep well, I woke with numbness in my hand from swelling.  My feet looked more like elephant's feet than human's feet.  I just felt tired and pretty cranky.  I got up to three sweet faces greeting me, just like they do every morning, very sweetly.  I smiled, but didn't feel like it.  I just didn't feel good.  After I talked to the nurse and she suggested bedrest for the day, I thought are you kidding me?!  I have three small kids;  I can't just lay around today.  Plus, I have a mountain of laundry to do.  All of these things kept stacking up to equal a very cranky momma. 

In the afternoon, the nurse decided I should come on in because my blood pressure was reading pretty high for me on the machine that Lance had brought home.  We all loaded up and headed to the doctor.  Thankfully, my blood pressure was down and the baby is doing great.  The checkup went great, but my spirit was still down.  I think I was hoping to be in labor or have something go on to finally feel better.  But, I walked out of the office, still very pregnant, swollen and miserable.  On the way home, Lance had promised to get the boys icecream, so we pulled into sonic.  The thought of cleaning up icecream cones from the back seat just didn't set well with me,  so I said no, let's do something else.  This caused major upset, especially with Luke, our oldest.  He began crying and I was very harsh with him about it.  I yelled, told him to stop, he was getting a slush and that was final.  Shouldn't he have been happy with that?  Besides, I just wanted to get home;  I was feeling awful.

Tonight, I was feeling pretty guilty about being so harsh and talked with Luke, asking for his forgiveness.  He said momma you weren't feeling good, it's okay.  Well, that made me feel worse!  I told him how even when we're not feeling well, we still need to be kind, that's what God wants us to do.  Later on as I was reading my book, "The Mission of Motherhood", I was reminded again to be a servant to my children, even when I don't feel like it.  As I wait for Sophie's arrival, I still have a task at hand, to take care of these precious gifts that I've been given and to do it well.  I'm so thankful that tomorrow is a new day and God gives so much grace for each day.  I'm thankful that I don't have to do it on my own.  I might wake up with elephant feet, but I can pray to be filled with the spirit of graciousness, kindness and love toward my children and husband.  God didn't say be filled with the spirit, "unless you're pregnant and feel bad".  He just said be filled.  I pray for a servant heart tomorrow.  I know that giving birth is a large task at hand.  It's downright scary at times.  But, I think of Jesus' task at hand and how he handled the last supper.  He knew what would happen to Him, yet he chose to serve his disciples by ministering to them, washing their feet,  and feeding them.   What a wonderful example he gave. 

Are you struggling with waiting today?  I hope that you are encouraged to know that God gives us grace for each day and each day is new if/when we mess up and are impatient and grumbly.  As you wait, don't forget what He has called you to do now, in this moment. 

"It's the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts.  If I have integrity and patience in the small moments of life that are so important to my children, and if I approach them with a servant's heart, then I have a far better chance of influencing them in the larger and more critical issues of life."  Sally Clarkson, "The Mission of Motherhood"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Updating your centerpiece for spring

So, I've been thinking a lot about updating my centerpiece for my table.  BUT, I always have a couple of dilemas.  First of all, I love Pottery Barn.  It's one of my favorite stores ever.  I just love walking in there and taking in the sights and smells.  I love their clean, somewhat farm, somewhat modern style.  So, what's the dilema, you might say?  Well, I like their stuff, but I'm way too cheap to purchase it;  I feel it's way over priced.  That would be one dilema.  Next dilema is I still like it, so then what?  Well, I'm pretty persistent, so I usually find a way.  And, I do admit that I have a secret weapon, my woodworking hubbie!  He amazes me with how he can look at something and recreate it so easily. 

Well, Saturday, I went to Little Rock to meet some girlfriends for lunch and we just so happened to be right across the road from my favorite store, Pottery Barn.  Yep, I had to go in.  I walked around, looking, but also taking pics with my phone this time.  I wanted to recreate one of their centerpieces, but for a fraction of the cost.  So, this is what me and the hubby came up with. 

This was lots of fun to do.  First of all, the tray is pretty amazing.  It literally took Lance a few hours, I know, sickening, but great for me!  :)...The pots were purchased at Hobby Lobby for $1.50 each and the fern inside was a stem from Hobby Lobby for $3.50 that I took apart and put in each pot.  I added some spanish moss and voila!  The candles were also purchased at Hobby Lobby for half price.  They were my most expensive purchase.  For all the candles, $18, but I figure they'll last a long time and you just can't have too many candles in my book.  The tray was free, thanks to the hubby.  He used some old wood he already had and we keep stain around b/c we do so many projects.  I toyed around with the idea of painting and distressing it, but the wood was so pretty, I just couldn't do it.  I already had the table runner, it's actually my one and only purchase from Pottery Barn and was clearanced out after Christmas.  So, all in all, it turned out pretty cool.  If I didn't have small children, I would add some filler around the candles, like rocks or moss or something, but that would not be a good idea for me.  I could just envision the boys having a rock fight at dinner and it's not worth it!  :)

Here are some more close-ups of the tray: 

I think comparably, it all went pretty well.  I spent around $30 for all and still felt uneasy about spending that much, but considering just one of those little pots at Pottery Barn is $20-$40 and they're PLASTIC!  Seriously?!  I'm not doing that.  Some of their trays are hundreds of dollars too.  So, I was pretty excited about our little recreation for way less. what???  :)

What's your spring style?  Have you started cleaning and updating yet?  :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love! It's a powerful word.

I believe in the power of words.  The bible tells us that words can bring life or death.  Words can pierce the heart leaving a stinch of bitterness or lift the heart up like never before.  Words can give life. 

I want to pour life and goodness into my children's souls.  I have had this thought etched in my mind and heart this year.  Pour life into your kids!  Pour life into them!  What an easy word to say, but so difficult to do.  How many times do I lose my patience and instead show them harshness and essentially, death.  My unkind words do not speak life into them.  So, I will again and again choose to speak life into them.  When I mess up, I will ask for their forgiveness because they know Mommy isn't perfect.  Oh, how they know that! 

This year for Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something for each of our children that will let them know with our words how we love them.  They need to hear specific things that we love about them, not to puff them up, but to encourage their souls.  This wasn't fancy.  I cut out a heart from construction paper.  On one side, I wrote a few of the things that I love about them.  And, I tried to make it short and sweet, and understandable for them.  On the other side, their daddy wrote things that he loves about them.  Tonight, we were writing these and Lance said, "I forgot to tell Ella that she's beautiful."  I reminded him that I had written that, had it covered..."No, she needs to hear it from her daddy", he said.  So, he found a way to squeeze that on there. :)...Words can give life.  Our 20 month old, Ella Kate, will hear that she's beautiful. 

We will also share with them who is the giver of love, God our Heavenly Father.  We love only because He first loved us. 

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son.  Whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." 

Monday, January 30, 2012

The stuff that godliness is made of

I've been reading this book, "The Mission of Motherhood", and it's really caused me to see motherhood in a new light.  Yes, some of the concepts in the book aren't new, but some are just great reminders for me to keep going, don't give up.  Sometimes the daily, repetitive work of being a mother is hard.  We get up and do the same things over and over, yet that is what is good for the child.  I don't know about you, but my kids thrive on order and sameness.  They love that we do pretty much the same routine every day with little bits of excitement here and there.  I try to spice it up a bit.  For example, if we have visitors, I tell them they're "suprise visitors".  They enjoy guessing who will come and it's always more fun that way. :)

But, what is all this for anyway?  Are we just supposed to make our children our central focus, pour everything in them and then turn to mush when they leave?  I hope not!  While my kiddos are small and in their formative years, I want to be with them to direct and guide them, teach them, and pour into their hearts and souls.  But, as they grow, I hope they learn that Lance and I are focused on giving to and loving others as well.  Right now, I feel like they're my main ministry.  My focus is to pour into them.  But, gradually, it will change, as they change and grow and need us less. 

It's been so hard lately, with Sophie coming along.  I find myself wishing time away, to finally see her.  But, at the same time, I don't want their time to go away.  I've got to live in the present.  And, boy, is that hard for me!   I need this time with them.  Tonight, my middle child, Jacob and I spent the evening together on a little date.  We went looking for something to create, (since he likes building and getting his hands on things), then had to make a quick stop for icecream and let Mommy listen to some Jacob stories.  I sat there in Chic-fil-A, just soaking this little 3 year old up.  I could be sad so easily at the thought of this little man growing up, but I choose to have a different perspective.  I'm going to live with the excitement of what God has in store for him.  Each year is another year that I get to know him better and tell him about God.  I fail a lot, but thankfully it is God who is working through me and helping Jacob to know Him.

I've been thinking a lot about how it's been almost 7 years since Lance and I made the decision for me to stop teaching full time and stay home with our newborn son, Luke.  I remember how hard I had worked on my classroom and how I loved the school that I taught at.  It was sad to pack up, but I've been so blessed by it.  I've been on this wonderful journey with these kiddos, 4 of them almost now!  There have been some hard days.  There have been days that I've longed for adult conversation or to just get away for a little while.  But, then I feel the peace of God that lead me here and it's a great feeling.  Our pastor has been leading us through a series about the Holy Spirit and some of what I've taken away is that the spirit isn't some force, it's a person that actually leads you.  I can see, looking back how the spirit has lead me.

This all goes back to the mission of motherhood that God has called me to.  Maybe my story doesn't look like yours.  Not everyone will look the same.  Not everyone is able to have children or be home with their children like they would like to.  But, we can all know that God is able to complete His purposes regardless of our circumstances.  He has a specific purpose for each of us. We can be used to glorify Him no matter what.  I hope you are encouraged today.  I hope you know how much God wants to use you to bring Himself glory.  Thank goodness we don't have to come to Him as perfect moms, perfect women.  He is able, He is always able. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cherishing the little stuff

I found this book the other night that I started for Luke when he was about 3 years old.  I titled it, "Funny Luke sayings".  I started reading some of it to Lance and we had so many laughs thinking about our little boy and how witty and funny he is.  Luke is approaching 6 years old and I just can't believe it!  My oldest little boy is turning six!  REALLY?!  How does time slip by so quickly? 

One thing I've been thinking a lot about is nurturing my children's souls and hearts and making sure that I don't let the little moments pass by without cherishing them.  That's a difficult thing to do.  It's hard to delight in your children when you spend most of the day tending to their basic needs.  But, God's been putting on my heart to make sure that I spend quality time with each of them and pour good things into their hearts and souls.  I don't want them to be the focus of my life, but I do want them to be a focus in my life.  There's a difference.  I've figured out that Luke loves to get up early in the morning and sneak away from everyone else and go have breakfast.  It's not fancy, he usually picks McDonalds!  But, he loves that it's just him and me.  We talk about the latest Mario games or whatever is on his mind.  It's not easy for this girl to get up early, but it's SO worth it!

A goal I have for this year is to make each child a little book to record things about them each year.  I want to have this as a reminder to me of how God uniquely designed each of them.  I don't want to take any of this "little stuff" for granted!

Here's a few Luke sayings for you.  Hope you enjoy!

"Dirt makes me strong and happy and angry."

"I don't want to 'bayo'.  Stop saying those nasty words."

Scripture Memory
"God said, Let us make apples."  Gen.1:26

Brother Jacob
"This is my baby sister brother Jacob.  He's just a baby.  I'm a big boy"

"Here mommy.  Here's a piece of my nose.  It's just a booger."

As Luke and Daddy were eating one day, (after Luke had been sick with a stomach bug), Luke said, "Stop!...", then proceeded to pray and thank God for healing his stomach...
Later that night, Daddy said, "Come on Luke, let's go say our prayers and get ready for bed."  "I don't need to pray", said Luke.  "God already answered all my prayers."