Chew On This

callie reading

Some of the worst decisions I’ve ever made in parenting thus far have been when I’ve said no to something one of my children wanted to do. Because I thought I knew better or had more life experience.

Well, I almost did it again this week at the library, but instead I listened to my daughter’s plea and said yes…

My sweet 3rd grader could have a blog of her own. She is so full of ideas and loves to write and create. However, until this week, she would have told you that she didn’t like to read. She would have told you that it was a waste of her time. Which is the very reason we go to the library every other week. Mama wins this one every time.

We check out books on all sorts of topics, typically leaving with 30 or more books between both of my kids. And of course the 3 or 4 I throw in with theirs. This week was no different until we were walking to the checkout station.

“Mom, I want to get this book. It looks really interesting.”

I was struggling to carry our haul for the day to the checkout station and I flippantly said, “No, baby, we’ve got enough books don’t you think?”

“No, I really want this one. Besides, you might like it, too.” She pressed a little harder and tried using her negotiating skills to reel me in.

I stopped walking and said, “Let me see it.”

No joke, it was a 259 page book entitled “Chew on This”. Here it is:

I chuckled on the inside as I listened to my daughter fighting for her right to read a book that caught her eye.

As I listened to her words, I also heard something else. Her desire to read something she picked out. Something that wasn’t forced on her. Something that caught her eye.

Lastly, I listened to the little voice inside of me that said, “just say yes”.

“Yes, Callie, you can get it and I am sure you will learn a lot of interesting things.”

“Awesome! Thank you mom!” she shouted. In the library nonetheless…

She has since then read over 120 pages of “Chew on This” and has said over 30 times, “I am so glad we don’t eat at ____________!”

But most of all, she is reading. Something she has never ever enjoyed. It has always been something she checks off her daily agenda. I have no idea if it will last, but today I cherish her newfound love of reading. I’ve heard many say that those who dislike reading are reading the wrong things.

Maybe my activist daughter will continue to soak up page after page as she wades through life. Few things make me happier than a good book. Well, maybe my children reading a good book!

I’m wading through waters, too. Parenting waters. Sometimes calm and other times treacherous. I’m reading a few good books of my own and I’m learning as well. As Frederick Buechner said: ““Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” 

I’m seeing that my job as a parent is so much bigger than I can ever do on my own. And sometimes the best thing I can do is get out of their way.

Parenting is more about space than fences.

More about letting them make their own mistakes instead of trying to fix them before they can learn from them.

More about letting them experience life and less about keeping them sheltered.

More about letting them go instead of holding them back.

And in these moments, they fly. They soar. They fall. They get back up.

They learn they’ve got what it takes…and so do I.



5 months in…

…and I think I am learning more this time in 2nd grade than I learned the first time in 1983-1984. Mrs. Baker was my teacher and I adored her the way a charmed blonde-haired blue-eyed little girl could. Every word she spoke was truth and I believed it.

But, this time, second grade has changed me. And another blonde-haired blue-eyed little second grade girl is the best teacher I’ve ever had.

She asks great questions. The kind that Google can’t answer.

She steals my heart with the little notes she leaves me all over my side of the office.

Her artwork is always superior and makes my heart flutter and my eyes steal second and third glances when she’s not looking.

She keeps me on my toes because her math skills test my own. She refuses to share her magic as she calls it. She doesn’t want me to figure out how her brain works.

We have our moments. She isn’t always in the mood to do math. Or she flat-out refuses to start her letters from the top. Oh yeah, and I yell, sometimes. It is not all perfect in our home educating sphere. But as imperfect as we are, there is a love and understanding between us that conquers all. I know her and she knows me. I trust her when she says she understands something and she trusts me when I say just one more time.

Since October of last year, I have never once regretted choosing to bring her home. Our decision as a family has only been confirmed over and over again. I am grateful for the opportunity. The time I spend with both of my children is the glue that binds us together. In regards to time, quality or quantity of, I believe it is both that matters. You can spend all day or all morning with your child and never even know he or she is in the room. Or you can spend 5 minutes with them and make lifelong connections. It takes both. Quality and quantity.

Life happens over the course of time passing and creating opportunity to interact with each other. Connecting takes time. Time is all we have.

Every day is full of adventure. Every day the home school room is a mess. But, every day is the best day because I have enjoyed my daughter. If she’s learning half as much as me, this second grade year might be as successful as mine was back in the early 80’s. To enjoy my daughter and see her growing in love and character, makes this mama very happy.


Generous helpings of GRACE!

As I ponder many things today and make aerodynamic gliders in our homeschool science world and care for a sick hubby, I am overflowing with all that I have to be grateful for.

The word gratitude is a noun that means “a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts of favours”. It originates from Latin “gratus” meaning thankful or pleasing (World English dictionary).

However, the wordsmith in me was not satisfied with this meaning. I love all things Latin and my trusty Latin dictionary said “see grace. Hmmm, this made me smile!

When I looked up the origins of grace, this is what I found: “grace comes from Latin gratia,  from gratus  pleasing”.

Upon more research I found that the Latin words gratia (grace) and gratus (gratitude) are similar to the Sanskrit word gmati meaning he praises.

Well, I’ll be! Like a hidden treasure found in a field.  You spend everything you’ve got to buy the whole field…just for the treasure it contains!!!

Gratitude and grace have the same beginnings…it makes perfect sense to me!

I believe that gratitude occurs when we realize or acknowledge that we have been given a gift that we do not deserve – or the gift of grace!! Grace happens when we are the recipients of something that we did not have to earn or that we don’t deserve. And as a result of this grace, we are grateful!!!! Do you see it? It makes me want to go out and give someone something right now!

Friends, I want to live, breath, sleep, dream, and offer GRACE!!! By living in gratitude, remembering that all I have or do or know is His gracious gift to me, it is well with my soul. When we live in a constant realization of grace, we can’t help but give what we live.

When you live grace, you give grace. May we all be generous givers of grace! GrAcE!! It is freely given and freely received. PrAiSe Him!!! 

In all things, I am grateful. Our Giver of good gifts has filled our cornucopia to overflowing.

YOU ALL make me feel so very loved! I appreciate your kind and gracious words as I live out loud on this blog. I praise God for ALL that He is doing. 

Happy Thanksgiving. May your heart overflow with love and peace as you celebrate this least celebrated holiday. May everyday be thanks-giving. May your life be so saturated with grace that you never want to walk in the desert again.

May you be a generous giver of grace today, tomorrow, and always.

Much love from your fellow grace seeker and giver,


Mom, Do You Feel It?

“To him that waits all things reveal themselves, provided that he has the courage not to deny, in the darkness, what he has seen in the light.” Coventry Patmore


I came home from a meeting with a client last week and I found these in our office/homeschool room:














Made with love from scratch by my favorite art student.

When I asked her what they were to be used for, she wrinkled her little nose and said, “They are for our Thanksgiving dinner. You know, mom! They are decorations for our place settings.”

Oh, yes. I know!

This offering came from the same sweet child who asked me on a cold and rainy Tuesday in November, “Mom, do you feel it in the air?”

“No. Feel what, baby?” I inquired.

That warm spirit. Don’t you feel it, too? I just love this time of the year because of the warm spirit that is in the air,” she shared with 7-year-old wonder in her eyes and heart.

A simple conversation in the car on the way home from piano lessons that caused tears to form in the corners of my eyes. It was a very cold and rainy day. I was freezing, in a bad mood, anxious about so many things,  and had a terrible headache. And my sweet gift from the Lord could see and feel the warm spirit of the holiday season approaching.

The joyful, simply complex, and delightful eyes of a 7-year-old see much more than my 36-year-old weathered and cynical eyes can even capture.

That warm spirit. Do you feel it?

I strongly doubt that Callie is referring to Black Friday or family gatherings that feel more like the circus came to town or fretting over the stuffing or credit cards that scream at you come January.

Oh, friends! I care about each of you. I encourage you this holiday season to slow down on purpose, with intention. To take time to savor the moments that will soon drift away to years. And we will reminisce one day with wonder and amazement at how fast they disappeared. Capture the moments today. Live with the wonder and amazement now so that we won’t have to look back and think about what could have been.

The stuffing will be fine without that special ingredient that you are missing. Love those you don’t like where they are. Chances are they are doing the best they can. If not, set boundaries. You are in charge of your life. Saying no to one thing or person means saying yes to many other things or people.  Black Friday will pass. You will live without all the latest and greatest. Don’t kill your soul and trample the souls of those you love in the process. And Visa and Mastercard won’t be able to pester you in 2013!

I am looking forward to this holiday season. We have much to celebrate.

That warm spirit is back in our home. And I hope it lasts longer than January 1st 2013.

I have my precious daughter back.

Not that she was lost, but things are different now that she is home for school. And it feels really, really good.

I don’t yet have the words to describe what has happened or how it happened. They will come and I will blog about it then.

For now, there is sacredness in the ordinary details of our lives. Before it was “rush” and “go” and “hurry up” and “get it done now”.

Today, I am soaking in the warm spirit and my soul is alive with hope.

And it is not all about homeschool. It is our life.

How we live our moments define who we become. Savoring the moments today. Won’t you join me? I promise it is better than the most perfect stuffing!

What I’ve Learned in 7 Days of Homeschooling…

I always thought in the back of my mind that homeschooling might be an option for us. But, I also knew that I wanted to be patient and wait for God to move before I moved into a calling that wasn’t mine to unwrap…yet. To say that He moved would be an understatement. Like a lightening bolt would be more descriptive.








After only 7 days of homeschooling and with a writing conference in PA smack dab in the middle of those 7 days, the changes in our home and family have been palpable.

Here are the top seven ways that our lives have changed or things I’ve learned so far:

1. My house is cleaner.

2. My mind is clearer.

3. My soul is quieter and I am more patient.

4. My daughter is hopeful.

5. The homeschool community is aMaZiNg!!!

6. My daughter learns a lot like her mother.

7. I have gotten more hugs and affection from my daughter than I ever have before. Completely different than before we started homeschooling. I have a feeling her love language is quality time and I was not doing a great job meeting her needs for quality time.

Here are Callie’s “three best things”:

1. Not having to dress according to the dress code.

2. Being with mama.

3. Not having to stay in her seat all day long.

To be honest, Callie misses her friends and her teacher. She would like to be able to see them. We have talked about this a lot and she knows that our community will change. We will be joining a homeschool coop very soon and she is very excited about that!

Homeschool has been a massive change for us, but the benefits are already outweighing the costs. Number 7 above means more to me than any score that my daughter may make on the Woodcock Johnson in June.

I am excited about the possibilities after only 7 days.

What change(s) in your life are you excited about?

**Disclaimer: I believe that every family knows what is best for their own children. We have many choices and many ways to educate our children and ourselves. Don’t judge. Seek, pray, and learn so that you can make the best decision for your children whether that be private, public, homeschool, or some combination of any of the above. 

What if I fail?

A year ago, I would have told you that you were crazy. I considered it, prayed about it, and decided to keep doing what we were doing. I don’t really know why, because it wasn’t working. I mean, it wasn’t really broken, but it wasn’t working either.

What do you do when you are praying about something and you don’t get clear answers? No writing in neon marker on the wall?

12 months ago, I was worried about what people would think. What would they say? Who would talk about us and whisper things about us?

I was afraid of what might happen if I stepped out in faith and followed that inkling in my spirit. What if I had it all wrong? What if I screwed up? I am fairly stubborn and determined. But I can’t guarantee a successful outcome.

Out of frustration, I starting questioning lots of things: what is success? Who is my judge? What does it matter what they say or think?

I was listening to all the other whispers and they muted out the other whisper that was not so pushy or persistent. It was always there in the back of my mind, but it didn’t try to shove its way to the front. Very patient and gracious. But also forgettable when the other whispers were using a megaphone.

But, that little whisper started to grow wings and it got more confident as I started to listen longer and deeper. I asked different questions:

What if we succeed, whatever that means?

What is most important/best for our family?

If I don’t do this, will I regret it?

Do I trust that God is big enough to catch us if we mess up? Or said differently, do I believe in His grace?

And then it hit me. I had my answer. I didn’t trust Him or His grace. I thought I had to have all the right answers and to be able to have an answer for all those whispers. But I don’t.

His whisper is the only one that will ever, ever matter. And in His grace, He gave me more than whispers to help me make a decision. But it all started with a whisper. An inkling. A curiosity about something.

I was afraid of failing. Afraid of letting go and trusting the process. I can’t know what the future holds. But I know today what He wants for me. And I don’t want to ever look back and wonder “what if?”.

And you may ask what does grace and success look like for us today?

Lying on our backs reading “Eight Keys” together. Crying and laughing because it is that good!

Listening to their laughter drift into the kitchen from the backyard “playground”.

Eating lunch together and holding hands to pray and list our gratitudes.

Working on adjectives and describing each member of our family with funny descriptors.

Using poprocks that we can’t eat to do a science experiment with.

Learning about our 5 senses and taking an investigative field trip around the Branch Ranch.

I may fail by some standards, but I won’t regret falling into the deep abyss known as grace.

“I’ve had to learn through experiences not to be afraid to fail. You don’t know what the future holds for you. You can hope your dreams come true, but you have to be fearless. I don’t want to look back and think, What if?” — Nastia Lukin, U.S. Olympic gymnast