It ALL Matters

This time, every year, I feel it.

Darkness about us – seeing the decorations people put up, the costumes and grotesque “decor” people buy masses of – I feel a difference in the air.


Perhaps its because I was once so heavily entrenched in all of that – maybe is because those dark spirits that I feel about me – they were once my playthings.


I thank God for delivering me from a place where this darkness (devils and witches and vampires and death) were things that I glorified and sought after. I praise the Lord that I can sense these things, that I am able to discern these things even when hidden, today.


How it pains me too, to remember those that I once spent so much time with – old friends that joined me in those dark arts; magic and fortune telling, seances and channelling – How dangerous these things are and how foolish we were (many still are!) It sickens me just as much now as it did then, to see how the world glorifies and glamorizes these things.


It saddens me even more when I see those who profess to know Christ partaking in these things. We must be aware; we must choose WHO we serve TODAY.


It doesn’t matter what it is called or how innocent those costumes are; it is all still of the devil.


Hear what He says to the Israelites before they entered into the promised land;
Deuteronomy 12:29 (KJV) When Yahweh thy Elohim shall cut off the nations from before thee, where thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; 30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they are destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31 Thou shalt not do so to Yahweh thy Elohim: for every abomination to Yahweh, which he hateth, have they done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 32 Whatever thing I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add to it, nor diminish from it.

Do not mix the cups and partake of the two tables. Turn to Jesus. It is so very clear, it ALL matters!



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We Get Worn Out

I like to think of myself as someone who can handle it all, mom who rules with a wife who manages it all all the time. But I have to admit lately I don’t quite feel that way. I am just worn out!


Really I hate to admit it, I feel guilty and less than I should be saying don’t think I can do anymore.   Not right now.

I think my to do list is a mile long and right now I just don’t care.

I had to chuckle when I open my email to see the subject line and one of my emails was Taking Care of You.


It gave me the idea that maybe I need to take a break. Perhaps I need to get some rest.
It’s been one week of up and down, asleep and awake. Maybe my daughter is teething, maybe it’s just the stage but whatever it is I am so tired. Perhaps it’s also the fact that my sweet daughter, now five months old, is constantly on my hip on my back. I do love baby wearing but it makes me tired. And I do love my baby but she wears me out. At the same time but it warms my heart and brings me so much joy to see her big eyes and chubby cheeks and her gigantic smile sometimes I want to be able to put her down and just sit down. By myself, with both hands on my book.

It doesn’t help that when my husband is home, she is still working. His job, the company itself, is great but it sure keeps him going. Even when he is home he is working sometimes; he is also working on his MBA.  It takes time. Time away. So many projects he has started, or plans to start, so many things he would like to get done (household maintenance needs) he just does not have time for. (or money – funny how we need both and have so little of both to boot! lol)


Then it occurred to me that all things have to be intentional. If it means that much to us, we will make a way. I need to take care of me. As much as I consider it a selfish thing, I need those 15 minutes of quiet with a book and some tea/coffee.  I need that time to write and think. Its selfish not to make time for this – I cannot serve joyfully if I feel so worn down. I get cranky; like my baby girl I fuss that I am not being attended to as I would like. I forget that its not about me, There is a bigger picture.



Its not about me. And yet sometimes, its okay for me to take that time to better be, me. To be a better momma, a better wife, a better keeper of the home. A better student to my Jesus. I cannot be any of those things if I do not step away. And when I take the time, when I determine to be still…I know that He is God, on the throne and in control and all things will work together for good.



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What Did He Say??

I am sure I am not the only mom to have one of these moments. I like to think that I do the best I can to keep my son from those things which have a negative influence but truthfully in the world today how is it possible to keep them from everything? All the time?

The other day while my son was outside riding his rip stick I heard it. He was trying to teach himself how to ride and getting rather frustrated. After several failed attempts I heard it. He cursed. Twice.
What do you do when you hear your son say those words?
In my mind I am immediately tried to scan my memory in case those were words that I said at some point? Or maybe his father? After all before Jesus is neither one of us had a very clean mouth. And as much as it pains me to admit there are times these words feel honored by one of us Jesus help us.
This also occurs after a weekend spent with my son’s grandparents and great grandparents. And as much as we love Great Grandpa he doesn’t always have the cleanest language. Sometimes when we’re with them I shudder at the number of times I hear him say certain words. And while there was a time when my oldest son would correct him for saying those words, In an attempt to teach respect of elders, it’s a fine line for us and him.
It’s been a long time since I have really used any language that was so foul. And it pains me today to hear those words whether it’s on a television show or coming out of the mouth of someone near to me. It also reminds me of the many reasons that I choose to keep my children close to my side.
No matter how we try to shelter them there will always be challenges.  There will be struggles we must face. The world is so much different today than it was when I was a child; things are so much harder. The things that are considered acceptable, are amazing to me.The decline of a moral society. There’s no longer any right and wrong.  
I want my children to grow up knowing that there is a right way and a wrong way in life. I know so many people today see that as a bad thing but I simply cannot allow my children to grow up thinking that whatever they want is okay when it’s not.  We have forgotten as a people that the world is so much bigger than just us.
I read an amazing article sometime ago that spoke of how easy it is for our children to leave the faith when they grow up spending more time outside of it. We all talk about being the body, being of one mind and one accord, yet how often do we live that?
I remind myself every time I see a child do something naughty or hear someone say something unkind. No matter how we try his parents there are influences outside of us and we need to remember that. We need to come alongside one another instead of blaming each other. I know it’s so much easier for us to point finger and shame but that’s only because we have forgotten that the world is bigger than just us.
I remind myself often but children do what they see. We are there examples. Others in the family and the church are there examples. We need to be wise. Yet we also need to teach them kindness. Sure when I find that my children being in someone’s company changes their language and their behavior, those are people we tend to spend less time with. When they see something on TV that causes them to become mean-spirited, we shall not set that before our eyes any longer. It is not wrong to separate ourselves from people and things that have the wrong influence upon us and our children. 
My oldest son said a curse word. I hope that anyone who hears that will not judge me as a parent but come to me with love to help my son learn from his error and not repeat it again. I pray but rather then someone thinking I am a mother with a dirty mouth but perhaps they too will understand how challenging it is to keep these things which so many see as acceptable today, away from my children years.  Let us all be patient, mindful as we train up our children for the Lord. 

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Pray WITH your kids? 

It might sound crazy but I don’t really pray with my kids. I pray for them. A lot. But I realized this morning I just don’t pray with them.

Prayer is so important not just for us as individuals but as families and as the body of Christ.
And really how well our children learn how to pray if we are not there praying with them?
I think about all the things that they can learn from praying with us. They can hear the many different ways and things that we talk to God about every day. They can hear and see our honesty, are open communication with God. They can hear us bring the big things and the little things before Him. 
Sure we can tell our kids that God loves to hear from them and wants to be included in every little thing that matters to them but if we don’t show that what does it matter?
When we pray with them we can show them our faith, we show them are needed, we show them I depend upon God for all things.
No we pray at meals but it never occurred to me that perhaps we could go deeper. What if we allow just one to say the prayer before meals each day?  I think the same could be said for bedtime. Instead of us praying and then simply being present, get them involved and make it something intentional. They will get into the habit of praying and be a great example for the little ones too.
My oldest son has always been fascinated with missionaries and the idea of preaching the gospel. I found out not long ago that his Sunday school teacher has nicknamed him their Little Preacher.  
Does he understand though that praying for a family or friends, neighbors and even the strangers that live in our community makes him a missionary? When we pray for those we know are sick and have a need, we too are on the mission field.
God’s word tells us to pray for those leaders, who are in authority. I think of that was in the government locally and nationally. Even our country, how desperately all need prayer. Perhaps it is time to teach and reach out more specifically to our communities. I will split we see God move?
Then there are the Scriptures themselves how we love the Psalms!  My sons Bible quizzing program had a whole year where we studied only those verses and what a beautiful year it was. May we gather together with our children and pray the word of God together.
A number of years ago we had a prayer box in our house. Nothing fancy, just a small shoebox that my oldest son decorated. It was where we would write down our needs or the needs of others. Every now and then we would open that box and go through those little pieces of paper to see what the Lord had done.  Talk about ways to testify to the goodness of God!
I don’t know about you but I need to be more intentional. I need to spend more time praying, not just for my children, but with my children. One mama recommended trying “round robin prayer” for you pray oldest to youngest.
My family will certainly be giving this a try. What habit is more important for our children to develop and strengthen than that of prayer? And they do say the family that prays together stays together. 

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Take Heed

I have to say it is never boring in our home. There is not one dull moment in this family.

This weekend was my birthday. We were planning for a nice relaxing and peaceful weekend, as much as it could be anywhere with four kids. ha ha

Instead this was when we found out that our exchange student has been struggling in our home. A lot. As she comes from a home that does not have little ones, we knew that this would be a big adjustment for her. At the same time whenever we spoke with her there was no mention of how hard it really was for her.
No we have hosted off and on for a couple years. Lovely exchange daughters from France and Spain in the summer, precious daughters from Jordan, Brazil, China. So we are used to there being a period of adjustment. And we know that we are far from the type family that they probably expect. How many dream of coming to live in a home where the family homeschools and is super involved in their faith? (We have found my that have loved and cherished this of course don’t get me wrong!).
So it was sad to hear this girl say that she just could not imagine spending the rest of her time in her year here with our family. We agreed to host her reluctantly, since our fourth daughter was just born in April. But she wrote of her love for the Lord, her desire to maintain a relationship with Christ while here for a school year. In the words she wrote it was so clear to me that this was a girl after His heart.  I ponder today who that girl is who wrote that letter. And who this girl is that we agreed to host.


And it reminded me that we must take heed always. We must seek the wisdom of the Lord in all things, we must be discerning.  This reminded me of how short our time really is. He says that hearts will be hardened, people run after the things of this world more than after the things of the Lord. That people will be deceived and led astray by false prophets.

We want our calling and our election to be sure. We want to know that without a doubt we are saved, sanctified, Holy Ghost filled and water baptized in Jesus name, children of God.

How can we know that though when we run from the very places that He puts us?
I have seen girls like this one before. Our daughter from Brazil, how she struggled and fought in her time with us. You could see the war with her (Spirit and flesh in such a constant struggle).

The Lord calls, and it up to us to answer. I guess this reminds me that often His  Will is different from our own and whether or not we truly serve the Lord shows in whether or not we follow Him when we are outside of our comfort zone.

Her will. His will. When we love the Lord with all our hearts these two become one and however hard it may be we trust and we follow.

I am praying for this girl today. Amidst the hurt in our family. Amidst the deception and destruction. I am praying that at least the seed has been planted, that perhaps redemption shall yet come her way.

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Middlebury Interactive Languages Spanish ~ Schoolhouse Review

We just love languages in our home. And now that I have a couple kids, all wanting to learn a language, I am always looking for things that can help them along. My oldest son decided to begin learning Spanish recently, in addition to Chinese and French.  Definitely want to encourage him and so I was thrilled to be offered another review opportunity from Middlebury Interactive Languages.  This year we’re reviewing Elementary Spanish 1:  Grades 3-5 (last year we reviewed their Chinese program) and are super excited about it too.


Middlebury Interactive Languages offers an online, immersion style learning program for students of all ages, in a number of different languages.  Last year we reviewed the Elementary Chinese 1, for grades 3-5 program which my son just loved.  He has continued his studies in Chinese since then, but was eager to try out their Spanish program this time around.

We were given six months of access to the first semester of this course and are using it about three times per week.  I do encourage my son to work on his language studies at least 3 days a week but always find his progress is more evident when he does daily work. Not huge amounts but maybe a little reading or review of concepts learned in that week. :)

Middlebury Interactive Languages offers a variety of courses for elementary, middle and high school level students in Spanish, German, Chinese, and French (some even have an AP option). What a great opportunity this is in language learning.



The website is very user friendly, and for the most part, my oldest can complete his work on this independently each day. I stick close by though since its important for me to be able to know what he is learning so that I can help him if the need arises. And really, since I love languages too, this is just a fun opportunity to learn with my kids!

The first semester involves learning basic vocabulary and sentence structure within common areas like family, numbers, greetings and lots of others things that are a part of our kids lives. I love that because it makes it so much easier for them to use it.  The lesson includes a story, told in Spanish, and a cultural lesson too.  What a great way to make this a part of a study on Spain even! There are also PDF files with translations for all of the vocabulary, stories, and songs (we made a point of printing these and putting them in a folder as we went along).  This is great for when he wants to review some thing during an “off” day.  And its fun to her him working it out as he reads the stories (or sings) to his brother and sisters.





What’s also really neat about this (although we did not use this feature) is the option to purchase the course with a teacher, who grades the speaking labs/quizzes in this course. I remember when I as studying overseas (long time ago) finding out how far I was from truly being fluent once I was in another country.  Certainly its not a big deal right now with my son being so young, but should he ever wish to go further with his language studies this would be a great way to encourage him in his studies.
Just as before, we are really enjoying this course! We love the tories and songs and all the lessons that we are learning as we go long. There is such a great variety of material in this program, it is never dull or boring.



My son really loved the Speaking Lab in this program. This is where he had the chance to listen to the Spanish words or phrases being learned and then record himself saying the same words and phrases. Sometimes he even did silly voices; I caught him and his brother being the “Spanish Darth Vader” once. It was a great way for him to be able to hear himself speaking the language and if he wasn’t content with his accent, try again.


As a homeschool momma of four children, once who loves languages, I love this program. It’s not just a learning program but it includes so much more making this a real experience for our children. I love that my son can work independently too (I admit though often I  was right there, and my younger son too).  I think I even learned a bit of Spanish myself. And before I forget they even have a gradebook  where you can see the scores for all lessons and quizzes that have been completed. This is a great way to make sure my son is staying on track and see where we need to review and where he is doing great too.


I think its important for our children to learn another language and while it can be a daunting task for many,  Middlebury Interactive Languages makes it so much simpler. Which makes it that much more fun for all. And with this being a self-paced program, there is even less pressure; for younger ones this is a great way to ensure “mastery” of the concepts being learned. Besides that, with all the games, songs and stories incorporated into this program, they don’t even realize they are learning.


See how Middlebury Interactive Languages operates in this brief video.  You can also check out the FAQ for system requirements. From cultural lessons, to authentic historical stories all perfectly combined for each lesson, this is so much more than learning a language.  Full of audio, video and speech exercises (some worksheets and coloring pages too) its a multi-sensory approach that makes learning fun!


 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review





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Fabulous Family Fun With USAopoly ~ A Schoolhouse Review

We absolutely love using games for learning and fun!  We have actually been trying to be more intentional about family fun nights in our home too.  What better way to learn and come together as a family? In a home full of boys who love movies and video games and can sit for hours at various screens…..Getting them unplugged is a big deal for this momma too.  Enter in, exciting and fun board games. And with reluctant or struggling learners, some games are such a blessing too!  Such as the ones we were recently thrilled to have the chance to review from USAopoly!  We received two awesome games to review: Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone.  And when they say crazy, and fun, they really mean it!


 USAopoly Review


Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game is a game of blocks and cards; building and strategy.  This game is played with 54 cards, 9 blocks (blue, green, and purple) and a handy bag to keep it all in.  To begin you simply deal cards to each player and as you play the cards you see which blocks you must stack. But it sounds easier than it actually it! Since each block has its own unique angles and sides this can be quite an act of talent and critical thinking skill.  I wasn’t sure how my slightly perfectionist son would do with this one but if he did not love the challenge. It didn’t take long for them to play one game and they couldn’t play just one game either.  What a fun way for them to play together, and practice thinking outside of the box.  My oldest son did wish for more cards (He is making some for them to use in the future).  There is a penalty if you make the tower fall (thats not hard to do by the way) and the winner is, simply, whoever runs out of cards first.


My boys loved this one; my oldest son is 10 and my younger son is 6.  Both just could not get enough of this game! If I didn’t put a stop to it they would continue playing all day long.  They have always loved building, from Legos to K’nex to Minecraft….Anything that they can stack and use to create is a winner for them. My younger son has quite a nack for this kind of thing too; I was rather impressed with his ability to really focus and gently stack some of these blocks.  And my oldest son loved studying and trying to sketch the crazy shapes these blocks came in too. Talk about a fun way to practice some strategic thinking, maybe a bit f geometry even?  Of course we did repeat some of the cards as we played (they really do need more cards and blocks so there can be lots more options for building?). Definitely consider adding this one to your cash if you are a game junkie :-)



Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone is a game that requires some quick thinking.  This one consists of a wheel with letters on it and a built in timer.  There are 36 cards included and the cards are double-sided with both a challenging side and an easy side for the categories provided (2 categories to each side).  With 144 categories provided for the game the possibilities are limitless (we even made some of our own categories as we played).  The game requires 2 AA batteries to run the timer, and there is a handy storage space in the bottom of the wheel for the cards, so this is also an easy game to play or take when you travel.


To begin your game, just pick a card and choose a category from the card drawn.  Now say a word and then press the letter of that word, then press the red button.  On to the next player.  Each player has 10 seconds to come up with a word.  If you hear the buzz before a word is found, you’re out for that round of the game.  The tapple wheel has 20 letter of the alphabet (they left off the letters Q, U, V, X, Y, & Z ).  I personally think with those letters in the game it would be even more fun!  But then I love to read, and I love to learn and study words :-)


I know I said it before, but this game was SUCH fun for all of us.  Even my four year old daughter played along. I cannot imagine a better way to practice vocabulary and spelling.  For my younger son who is 6 and beginning to read, this was a great inspiration and I think it helped his little sister (she is four) too with a desire to learn letters and sounds more than before. Our one main challenge with this one was that when one of the younger ones accidentally hit the wrong letter, we had to either keep playing or reset the whole wheel (there is no way to reset just one letter without resetting the whole wheel).  Since my littler ones are still really learning spelling and letters, in some games this occurred quite often. There were a few times we played and chose not to use the timer too (my oldest tends to stress over that kind of thing and we really want game time to be fun for everyone!) but for myself and my younger son trying to race against the timer made it more exciting. Told you I love words.





Both of these games are recommended for ages 8+ and are good for 2 or more players. But my younger son, age 6, did quite well with both of these. We had lots of fun and will continue to (we may even bring these when we travel in the coming weeks).  I love how fun and challenging both of these games were to play.  And really, I think there are so many opportunities to expand on them both for learning and entertainment. In fact my oldest son even made a couple of his own cards for these games the other day.  It was a great idea and a project that will make these games that much more fun for all of them (and that much more challenging for me…). These are available through the USAopoly website where you can get yours for $19.95 each.  I definitely recommend them, especially if your family is looking for some fun games that help our kids to learn incognito. :-)


 USAopoly Review


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