Friday, December 9, 2011

Love is the Greatest

I have been slowly making my way through the book of 1 Corinthians. I wanted to be sure I fully understood and remembered what I read, instead of just reading through it quickly and not retaining any of it. This is one of those books I have avoided in the past, because, by reading through it quickly, I just end up getting bogged down and I don't remember a thing when I'm finished anyway so why bother. But I felt like God was telling me to give it another attempt, and so I began again.

1 Corinthians 13 is one of those chapters I have heard or read so many times I can nearly quote it for you. I caught myself beginning to read through it in a hurry, because, after all, I already know what it says. But I made myself slow down and read it verse by verse, line by line, word by word. And let me just say - WOW! God really showed me some things in that chapter. Here is what I learned.

1 John 4:8 says that God is love.

Love is patient and kind. God is patient and kind. Am I always patient and kind? Hmmm... Patient? Not even close. I am rarely patient with anyone. I move fast, and I expect everyone else to move at my pace. And if you don't, I get very impatient. When I am teaching my kids math, patience goes out the window. I become impatient and just want them to hurry up and "get it" so we can move on. Am I showing God's love in that area? Not a chance. How about being kind? Do I always show kindness to others? My kids? Back to that math lesson, and impatience and unkindness go hand in hand. Am I kind to people who are different from me? Those who are unkind to me? Rarely.

Love isn't jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Those four things really go together, and I find that I fail in all areas. When I see others who have things (material or spiritual) that I don't, I tend to become very jealous. Why couldn't God give ME those things? Why did He choose to waste those things on the likes of THEM? Jealousy is a great evil, let me tell you! And when that jealousy takes over, I find myself boasting, or bragging, about the things I CAN do, because I want to make sure everyone sees ME, ME, ME! Pride wells up inside of me, and I begin to think that I am better than I really am, and I forget the fact that the only good things in me are from Christ. Apart from that, there is no other good thing. And that pride also makes me think I am all together better than anyone else, especially the person or people of whom I was jealous in the first place. And boy does rudeness seem to find its way in there at that point. Jealousy, boasting, pride, and rudeness are things I find I struggle with on a regular basis.

Love doesn't demand its own way, but I sure do! I want my way or the highway. If others don't see things the way I do, well, they are just wrong and should really come around to my way of thinking. Really, why would anyone bother having any other thought than the one I have. I want things MY WAY, and when I don't get it, I can become very unkind and rude. Am I showing love in that way? I think not.

Love isn't irritable and doesn't keep a list of past wrongs. But so often, when my husband does something I feel is unjust, I get completely irritable, and my memory becomes very vivid. I can remember all the things he has done in the past that were unjust and how he never did anything about it and how he never changes and I am just not happy about all of it. Do I keep lists? You better believe it!

What God showed me in reading those few verses was that, even though I had read that chapter so many times and I knew the right things to do, I have some serious areas that need some work. So I began praying over these things and asking God to help me in each specific area. I want God to show me how to love with a God love - His love! I want Him to teach me how to be patient and kind with others in all situations. Every time I become jealous, I want Him to show me clearly my sin so I can repent. And whenever I feel the urge to boast about things I've done or am doing, and any time I feel like being rude to others, I am praying God will put a lock on my tongue and shut it down immediately. I want my attitude to be in the forefront of my mind, keeping a check on it, so as not to become irritable with people, my husband, or my kids. I want to burn those lists in my mind of things people have done to wrong me in the past. I pray that God will help me to start each day new and not remember wrongs from yesterday. Because really, if people kept lists of things I have done to wrong them, those lists would be very long. I am thankful for the grace and mercy God shows me by not remembering my past sins, so I should offer that same grace and mercy to others by not keeping lists of past wrongs.

When I read the Bible straight through and quickly, there are often things I miss, things God may want to show me that I was in too much of a hurry to see. But by slowing down and reading His Word more carefully, God showed me some things He wants to refine in me.

Don't think that, just because you have read something many times, you have it all figured out. And remember that just reading the Word isn't the ultimate goal here. Reading it in such a way as to understand it and digest it is better! Is there an area God is showing you that needs some work? Leave me a comment and share, and I will pray with you over it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

LEGO School Days

There are some days that I seriously have good intentions where school is concerned. But sometimes my good intentions just don't turn out quite like I planned. Most of the time, things start heading south because "stuff" happens. "Stuff" being things like my phone won't stop ringing off the hook, or the baby is very cranky because of those huge molars coming in and wants to be held, or an unexpected visitor drops by and stays for awhile, or just the fact that I am so exhausted after doing other "stuff" that we take a much needed day off. But not this day!

On this school day, the reason my good intentions were not carried out was simply because my kids were teaching themselves. Yep. They all went in the school room after breakfast and sat down with some LEGO's. Since they were all being quiet, I wasn't about to disturb them!! I figured I'd call them a little later for school. But as I peeked my head in the room to check on them, I saw they were deep in thought building some really creative things.

Britches was busy trying to make a tower that had several gears inside that would turn a wheel and make the tower roll across the table. And Little Man was working out the details on a robot design that would do all my chores around the house! YAY for me! I am so thankful to have a son who thinks about things like that. Now if he will just really create a REAL ONE, well, I would really be happy about that!!

Alas, I am a terrible mother and forgot to take pictures of Britches' moving tower. GASP! I know! I know! I will do better in the future! BUT, I did remember to take pictures of Little Man's robot design - mainly because he wouldn't stop pestering me until I did! So here it is. The robot that will one day take over all my house cleaning duties.

This is the robot from different angles. 

 This is the dishwasher portion. The LEGO's in the white boxes represent my never ending load of dishes, and the two arms are what washes them. And the bottom picture shows the side view of the counter space where it will stack the clean dishes.

These are the laundry hands that will fold my laundry.

This is the trash arm that picks up trash around the house. You tie it onto the bars and it will throw it into the dumpster for you. 

This is the broom that can sweep my house! Since I have a house with no carpet, this is a GREAT invention! 

And for the few rugs I have in my house, there is a vacuum arm attachment.

And of course you need access to the control panel for programming your robot for specific tasks. 

This robot has hoovering devices attached to the bottom.

And this is my little engineer with his invention. 

Most days, we are very good about getting our normal schooling done, such as spelling and math. But some days, delight directed learning takes over and I step out of the way. And you know what? That's OK! 

~For more information on delight directed learning, go check out Homeschool Oasis!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas at Our House

Well, the tree is finally up! YES, I am just now getting around to it! If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I am a terrible procrastinator. There, I said it. I feel better now, and we can move on.

Actually, this year Brient asked me if I would wait an extra week after Thanksgiving to put up the decorations, because then he can enjoy them for just long enough without being sick of them. I know, I know! I can hear all of you out there telling me, "We have ours up BEFORE Thanksgiving and don't take it down until sometime well into January!" Yeah well, we are not that kind of family. If they stay out too long, we all get a little crazy, because it's all over the place and I'm just ready for order to be back in my home. So I graciously went with his suggestion and waited an extra week.

So this past Monday, we pulled everything out of the closet, brought it into the living room, and went to work. It was so great watching ALL FOUR of my kids helping with the tree! The baby is now three, so she is really old enough to help AND enjoy everything.

They wouldn't let me put the tree up myself, because all four of them wanted to have a part in putting in the branches. 

I started putting garland around the tree, but Little Sister jumped in and took over. Then the other two got in on the wrapping of the tree, and I was completely out of the loop. 

Each year, my job is to pass out the ornaments and their job is to decorate the tree. I pass them out, because I keep all of my ornaments in a big box and they get a little tangled up. Plus, I don't really want any fighting over who gets to put what on the tree. It's just easier that way. They loaded the tree with all their ornaments that we have made together over the last several years. If you look closely at my tree, you might see a handful of store bought ornaments, but most were made by my kids.

That girl loves her brother! 

And here is our finished tree. Absolutely beautiful! And all done by them!

Britches had a great time going all over the house adding Christmas touches here and there.

While we were decorating the tree, Baby Girl kept sneaking in the living room grabbing ornaments and heading to her room. I finally went to see what she was doing. She told me she was decorating her room! Very lovely!

And Britches and Little Sister made the last gingerbread house to add to the decorations. 

Our house is finally decorated for Christmas. I had a plan to help the kids so that it would look really nice. You know, ornaments perfectly spaced on the tree and things put in just the right place. But then I remembered, this is about them! So I just backed up and let them decorate however they wanted, and I just took the pictures. And it was fun! And they love it! And I couldn't be happier about our Christmas decorations this year!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa and the Reindeer - by Britches

Britches had a writing assignment today. Being that it is near Christmas, her project was to write a short story about something lighthearted with a Christmas theme. That is actually quite a challenge for her, because, since she is so detail oriented, her stories usually end up being several pages long! But today, she did exactly what I asked. Here is her story.

Santa and the Reindeer
by Britches

Once upon a time, there lived a jolly old fellow with rosy red cheeks and a belly like jelly. His name was Santa Clause. This jolly old fellow lived in Greece, a land far from the North Pole.

Santa gave out presents every year to all the good girls and boys at exactly 9:00PM on December 24. On Christmas morning, all the children woke up to find presents under their Christmas tree. 

But as the years went by, Santa decided he was getting too old to walk to every house in Greece. So he designed a sort of animal Olympics, and he invited every animal on the planet to join in. He designed the games to help himself pick the best animal to help deliver presents.

After the games, he tallied up the points. In third place, there was a horse. In second place, there was a moose. And in first place, there was a reindeer named Dasher. 

But when Santa asked Dasher to help him, Dasher said, "It's too hot here!"

So that's how Santa started in Greece, and ended up in the North pole with a sleigh team made up of reindeer. 

The End

Friday, December 2, 2011

Little Sister's Pictures

A few days ago, Little Sister got hold of my camera. Look out world, she is taking pictures now! She cracked me up as she kept asking me all about how to use that thing.

I showed her how to turn it on, take a picture, and look at what you took. She was THRILLED! I made sure she had the strap around her neck, and I left her alone to take all the pictures of her lego creations that she wanted.

But when I came back later to check on her and see the pictures she had, this is what I found. Well, some of them anyway.

That little stinker! I fear she has a bit too much of her mother in her...

Gingerbread Houses

Last year, a few days after Christmas, I was in Wal-Mart and saw they had their gingerbread houses on sale for A DOLLAR!! So of course I bought two of them! One pack had five miniature houses included, and the other had one house with a Santa sleigh. My plan was to pull them out one day this summer when we were bored. But that never happened. So there they sat for months.

Ever since Thanksgiving had passed, the kids had all remembered those gingerbread houses sitting in the cabinet, and they had been begging me to pull them down and put them together. So today was the day! After the older kids finished up their school work, we cleared off the table and pulled those boxes down. The house was just filled with excitement and anticipation!

Each of the kids picked which house they wanted, we divided up the candies, and the fun began. I was in charge of the icing, because, well, that goes without saying. I did give Britches the other bag of icing, because I trust her. But I wouldn't trust the other three as far as I could throw them. After "gluing" them together, everybody had such fun decorating their own house! Even Baby Girl got in on the fun! I was quite shocked and glad that she didn't try to eat any of the house or candies, because those things smelled like they had been on the shelf for, well, the last year!

Here are the pictures of our fun and our finished projects!

This is my sweet Baby Girl decorating her triangle house and showing it off. She specifically wanted the "triangle". And when she saw me break out the camera, she said, "Mommy, take picture of me and my house!" She had so much fun doing this!

 Little Sister had a great time decorating her house.

Little Man was very particular about his house, and even added sprinkle snow on the roof and a sprinkle sidewalk. The marshmallows around the house are snow. 

And here is my Britches with her meticulously crafted house. She took the green leaf gumdrops and cut them into strips, so she could make the wreath above the door and icicles around the house. She is so patient to do that! 

And here are all of our finished houses displayed on my hutch. Who needs the little miniature breakable houses when you've got such a fine array of gingerbread houses with which to decorate?

I hope you'll make some time this holiday season to do something FUN with your kids! Take a break from shopping and cooking and wrapping and whatever, and pull out a gingerbread house of your own or make some homemade ornaments or craft your own gifts for those you love. Christmas is more than just the act of opening presents on Christmas day. It's all the little things that you do leading up to the big day that are creating memories for you to cherish for a lifetime! Now go grab your kids and make some memories!

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess