Sunday, August 31, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation

The thoughts about the last five days are a flurry in my head. There are real issues (like that I feel bitter about my own wedding day) and the simple joys/stresses of being with the kids in such tight quarters...then there's the excitement of the wedding of my best friend and the struggle to be a nice wife (I gave it up on day 2). It's all quite hair raising...

Let's start at the beginning. Shane came in from work Wednesday morning with fever, chills and a sore throat. We grabbed a bottle of previously prescribed but not used antibiotics and hit the road. Shane's brother, Scott made the girls' year by agreeing to go with us. It was a divine answer to a need we didn't anticipate. Scott drove the entire way to Hot Springs and then on to Eureka Springs 2 days later.

The "resort" we called home for two nights in Hot Springs was a bit past its prime, but the girls thought it was a luxury palace! It had a nice hot tub and indoor pool we enjoyed nightly. We had Thursday to play in Hot Springs. We found plenty to do with a tiny trip to a few shops down by the bath houses, lunch in a quaint upstairs diner, then off to the Mid America Science Museum for the afternoon. Shane felt terrible but tagged along anyway. It was HOT and HUMID. Poor Bethany was walking around with dripping curls, she was so sweaty. As we were leaving downtown she said, "I think now we need to go to Cold Springs."

Friday morning it was time to focus on the wedding ahead. The matron of honor was stuck back in Texas with spinal meningitis (!) so I was commissioned to find a brown dress, if at all possible. I shopped on the way to Eureka Springs, but only found one dress that would work. It wasn't maternity so it was an awkward fit. Also it was linen while the other bridesmaids dresses were of a shimmery fabric, so Jennifer & I decided to pass on the idea and just proceed without a fourth bridesmaid.

Bethany turned 5 on day 3 of the trip-she's opening her gift of a shirt from Daddy and a new Polly Pocket doll.

In case you don't know, Texas is flat compared to Arkansas. In Texas we say that a sixty mile trip will take about an hour-about a minute a mile. Well, Mapquest doesn't know that and our trip from Hot Springs to Eureka was filled with twists, turns, hills, and steep grades. No mile a minute driving here! We thought we were well cushioned with extra time but ended up in Eureka a half hour after the rehearsal was over-thankfully, we were able to attend the dinner and weren't needed at the rehearsal.

Another rather large kink of plans occurred on Friday-Hope's throat started hurting. She'd been off her antibiotics a couple of days and had no strep symptoms at all until Friday. Our family doctor's office was zero help and only told us to find a clinic in Arkansas. On a Friday afternoon (they didn't return our call until 2:30 when we'd called them by 10am for help). We were landing in a town so small there's no Wal-Mart, why would they have an after hours clinic? And when would we have taken her with all the wedding festivities? Thankfully, our friend Leslie (who also happens to be a pediatrician) was able to call in a different antibiotic to the closest Wal-Mart. Just for Leslie & Barry-we have a tribute :) Thanks again Dr. H, we appreciate you!

Saturday morning started the wedding hoopla big time! It was finally here! It's a unique feeling to know your 32 year old single friend will be a wife by the end of the day. Such a mix of emotions-pride, wonder, praise to the Lord, uncertainty (about relationship changes)...

We met Jennifer, the moms, and bridesmaids to decorate the reception hall, then had a nice lunch on the balcony of the historic hotel where the reception and honeymoon night would take place. I let the girls swim for a bit before doing hair in sponge curlers, visiting Jennifer in the bridal suite where she was getting her hair done, then getting ready myself. The chapel was romantic, the bridesmaids looked like models in Bride Magazine, and Jennifer was the epitome of a bride who's waited for this moment for years. I know I was tired and easily moved to tears, but I had to reign in the downpour and quivering chin as I watched her joyfully walking down the aisle with her Daddy (and he's a Daddy in every sense of the word) to meet Jeff, who loves her in such a strong way...

The girls helped put together the unique candy bar-while sampling some of the night's treats :)

The reception was a blast. I've never had so much fun at a wedding. Big Band tunes put music to the celebratory emotions in our hearts. As the night went on fun '80's tunes got the kids to their feet for some very unchoreographed dancing! We saw Mr. & Mrs. off to their suite and packed up the reception-exhausted but elated.

Isn't she beautiful?

I was operating on fumes and my last nerve was shot before waking up this morning. Close quarters, being constantly needed by four children and one sick husband, being 7.5 months pregnant in the cramped car, strange bed, and humid side walks just about did me in. I got in the car to head to Texas this morning and said, "Don't even talk to me unless you see a tornado heading our way or you're bleeding so badly you're ruining the van's carpet." I knew I was being a terrible mom-wife-sister in law...but I had nothing left to give out. So I took a trip to my friend Gina's shop in Eureka and spent too much money on myself! I found this-it's even cuter in real life! There's more fun pottery on her site-some I might be requesting for Christmas!

I expected Jennifer to look different after her first night with her husband, but this morning she was the same old Jennifer-except extra perky. She was so happy with how everything turned out-she kept saying, "That was the wedding day I didn't even know to dream about!" and "I wouldn't have changed any of it." Of course there were glitches, but it was a great wedding. I'm so happy for Jennifer & Jeff.

However, on the 19 hour drive home (really it was about 9 hours in the car), I was wishing she'd gotten hitched in Texas!

We're home

Now that we're home, I'll tell you we left :) We headed out Wednesday morning and just got home a little over an hour ago. 1000 miles, many potty breaks and antibiotic doses later, we're finally back home in Texas. We've never had more fun at a wedding (and I've never had to stop myself from sobbing like I did when I saw her walk down the aisle). Our full day of play in Hot Springs was a blast and the Lord totally blessed us with the company of my brother in law and the medical help of a friend. I'll post about all the details, including pictures, tomorrow!

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Random Life

I have a lot of random thoughts today...

Feeling blessed by:
*Citibank's reward points, which are paying for our hotel in Hot Springs.
*My friend is finally getting married...we've dreamed and talked about this day forever! Both of us have wondered if God intended her to marry and now we know the answer. Our family is excited about the upcoming wedding and super-mini vacation.
*God's grace...I need it so often and it's always there.
*Childhood memories of vacationing in Hot Springs-we'll quickly visit a few spots I toured as a child.

Feeling emotional about:
*All my friends starting the kindergarten experience in local schools. I was in town this morning at 7:45 and the roads were just buzzing with school traffic. You could feel the electricity in the air as all the kids started back to school today.
*Being home all day, every day. Bittersweet is the right word. It's nice to be released from the weight of leading a ministry, but I may go stir crazy in the process. Although I've had plenty of planning to do (for school & this trip) I've found myself bored several times this last week. Once school starts next week, I'm sure that will change!
*Beth turning 5 this week...Hope is next and she'll be 8!

Looking forward to:
*School starting (kind of-it's nice to have wide open days!).
*Starting a Beth Moore Bible study-the Fruit of the Spirit-next week.
*Family coming next month!

Praying for:
*Our land to sell soon!
*Shane to be home when this baby comes (it's right around the corner, y'all!)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Homeschooling 101 Part 1

As I have more moms tell me they're reading my blog for info & advice on homeschooling, I tend to think about what I'd tell them if we were sitting down for coffee & a good chat.

What's heaviest on my heart right now is a topic I don't hear much about in homeschool circles: our relationship with the public school world. A public school (ps) mom and I were talking the other day after leaving a PS prayer rally. We were discussing whether it was weird or not that a homeschool (hs) mom would show up to the rally to pray for ps families. I felt honored to be welcomed there. When you consider that the children in those schools will grow up to be my dentist, my insurance broker, or my mail carrier, why shouldn't I be interested in praying for them? I want them to succeed too! These aren't just faceless children going to ps, they are my children's closest pals-why should my prayers be reserved only for those in the hs camp?

I wonder if many of those on the ps side feel threatened by hs-ers. My friend thinks many teachers automatically do since by default we're sending the message that they aren't good enough to teach our children.

I can only speak for myself, but the teacher's character and credentials were not a concern of mine when I decided to homeschool. Actually, I have the utmost respect for teachers and think they are the most underpaid, under appreciated, hardest workers in our society.

My reasons to hs are many, but teachers don't even factor into my list. Here's what I said in an old post about homeschooling:

We have always felt that in order to train our children with purity, with sound doctrine, and with high educational standards and a love for learning, we'd need to homeschool. I'm not against the public schools, per se, I'm really just very for homeschooling!

By being "very for" homeschooling, you could deduce that I am "very against" public schools.

But I'm not. Well, not specific schools, and for sure not teachers. I am against the system. It's a faulty system with too many chances for students to fall through the cracks and it's being saturated with liberal ideas that choke out traditional values.

There's also the fact that tutoring (essentially what hs is) is a superior learning format to classroom learning. It's not the system's fault, it's just the way it is.

Can families overcome these issues? Absolutely. I have several friends putting their children in K this year. I have no doubt their children will succeed. Not because of the schools, but because these parents are involved, loving parents who will make sure their children succeed.

Yet for us, we know homeschooling is what God has called us to do. We feel our job is to prepare our children for whatever God will call them to do. In order to fulfill this mandate, we need all the hours in the day we can get. Homeschooling allows us to heavily sprinkle our worldview on all parts of our children's lives each day.

To sum up, this post has 2 points:
1. Please don't alienate those who make different educational choices or the actors involved (teachers in ps). Especially if we're all believers, there's no reason to add more tension when we have the power (and command through the scriptures) to be peacemakers. If God gives you an opening to defend your brother or sister on the "other side" of this educational divide, step up to the plate!
2. Know why you are homeschooling. You'll need to have the assurance that you are called to do this or when the going gets tough, you'll have nothing to fall back on.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stayin' home, getting ready for school

Today was my first day not to go to work. I know my last day was last week, but that day was the last day we were today I felt it. I ended up in the office for about an hour to clear my desk of first trimester hard candy (which kept me from throwing up at work) and my bookshelf of personal items. I still have to get my personal files off the computer and wrap up a take home project. Gradual is good, it hurts less :) It did feel good to be home today. Well, to be honest I was very glad to be at the office when Jaybird climbed into the (empty) Sonlight box that came today. She was wearing only her swim suit (her sisters didn't notice she took off her diaper when she changed clothes) and pooped in the box. Yeah, it was good to be tied up at the office for a bit!

Yesterday was a FULL day. My OB appt was in the morning-nothing exciting, I just gained a pound (7 total) and she wrote me a 'script for strep just in case. I went home to pick up Ashlyn so she could see our family doctor for her case of strep. Now that everyone is full of penicillin, they're symptom free. I left home yesterday around 9 and didn't get home from all the running around until around 5. I was so exhausted and I truly wonder how women do it when they're out of the home from early in the morning until late in the day, every day. My hat is off to you!

Today I conquered a large project-portfolios for the girls. I finished Hope's last year, so really today was all about Ashlyn's. First I had to make room on our school shelf for Bethany's books, then I culled through the old workbooks and the few pieces of unused hand-me-down workbooks. The unused stuff is now listed on freecycle. We spent all afternoon and evening pulling the best (or funniest) pieces of work from each subject or workbook and putting it in Ashlyn's binder. I'd never done this for her, so there was a lot to go through from K to now! It's so funny to read her commentary in her math book. One page said, "I'll never need math, why do I have to do this?".

The girls are still begging for school, especially after Beth opened her box and saw all her books set up on her own little shelf. Just looking at the old used up stuff made Ash beg for school...why don't these kids need breaks?! Sorry guys, not yet, Mom needs more time!

So, nothing deep this time around! If you want a deep blog post, go check this one out. I have no idea who the author is, by the way...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Diagnosis-Strep Throat

When I came into the living room where Bethany and Daddy camped out since sometime in the middle of the night, Beth happily told me Daddy had said he'd take her to the doctor to get her tonsils out. (He didn't, by the way.) A few weeks ago when her tonsils were bothering her, she begged me to take her to the doctor that day to have them removed. She thought they'd slice her neck open, yet she didn't care a bit.

Sometimes my girls happily share, but usually that only pertains to germs. Bethany woke up sick in the middle of the night with the same symptoms Hope had been showing since Wednesday. Is it coincidental that the girls came home sick from 2 out of 3 VBSs they attended? *(I dubbed this the VBS virus and kept drowning Hope in Motrin. Yet it wouldn't let up and she was in a lot of pain-and started to share it!

Off to the doctor they go and yep, you got it, they have strep throat. Beth asked Susan, our nurse practitioner if they'd take out her tonsils today. Not today, she said, but they will be looking into it. Poor BB has cuddly tonsils even when she's well-they cuddle so close to each other there's hardly a space between them. She snores and her breathing is sloppy because of them. So, once she's well, she goes back to the doctor to consider a tonsillectomy. I don't know how I feel about this-they are there for a reason...

In the meantime, I'm on a hot pursuit of how to build up our immune systems. Big families and germs mixing cause big trouble!

*In our little town, it's a normal summer activity to make the rounds to all the churches during their VBS. I've told you before we're in rural Texas, right?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Goodbye PRC

Today was my last day in the office at the Pregnancy Resource Center. I haven't cried. Yet.

Leaving the other Center (the one we helped start) was much harder. That Center was our baby. I highly identified with the professionalism of that position.

This center is different. I've come to love it of course, but it was already established and somehow that makes it easier. Also, I know what to expect in this transition. I'll grieve a little of my previous identity and the escape of work in an obviously meaningful field. However, you can tell I'm really excited about being home and focusing more on school with the girls. It'll be fun to move into a new house and not worry about dividing my time between the office and home.

I guess today was also easier because I was blessed with beautiful flowers from a board member who's become a friend...and I brought work home, lol. See, I'll probably never be "finished" working with the PRC. Right now it's fine tuning the Policy & Procedure manual, in October I'm helping with a training for new volunteers, then it will be time to plan the Gala...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Storm Clouds are Building

Starting school this year reminds me of the feeling just before a storm. Well, if you like to watch the wonder of God through powerful lightening shows and the soothing, pouring rain. If storms raise the hair on the back of your neck, you won't get this post.

You know the feeling when the air outside seems charged with electricity and the dark clouds cast a surreal coloring to the landscape? You know you have work to do-the batting (hmm, is the word "battening"-is that a word or a southern pronunciation?) down of the hatches...maybe even locating flashlights and candles. It's still calm, there's only a stiff breeze starting, but you know the trees will soon begin to dance with the powerful stormy winds. Your adrenaline is starting to release through your veins and you may even be looking forward to the possibility of a little time with no outside communication. Your mind starts to imagine playing games or reading in the stillness of a hushed home lit by candles.

I am experiencing this quiet but anticipatory time in my heart right now. By outward appearances, there may not be much school prep going on, but my mind is charged with ideas I want to try this year. The thought of teaching Bethany makes my heart smile. Helping Hope advance past the early stags of reading brings me joy and hoping that Ashlyn will enjoy the intrinsic value of challenging independent work fuels me on to plan a great year. I'm reading (for the third or forth time) Karen Andreola's A Charlotte Mason Companion which spurs plans for weekly nature walks, more art study and challenging dictation (don't tell my kids that last part!). I'm gearing up for the quiet time when the answering machine picks up my calls and we're unavailable to the outside world. Self discipline for me and the girls is a topic that spins through my head. Sharpened pencils and copious brainstorming notes bring on the adrenaline rush, just as an exciting storm does. I know there will be some challenges ahead, but I feel confident that we'll get through them, just as the storm eventually passes...

I know I have plenty of non-homeschooling moms (and dads) read this blog, but I think you can still relate. If the unique smell of the inside of a brand new book and the smells, sounds, and sights of fall bring on memories of a new school year, you get it. If your kids are starting public school and together you've picked out the lunch boxes, new clothes and cool pencil pouches, you know what I mean. Our God is a God of order and fall brings a new routine of order to families. The lazy days of summer are fading and our bodies long for the consistency that school brings.

I hope this sweet time just before school starts is equally exciting for you. I have a rare moment when my house is almost empty and completely quiet, so I'm grabbing my notes and Karen's book and heading for the couch!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The most popular question for kids right now is, "Are you ready for school to start?"

This question is a little different for homeschooled kids to answer. Or at least for our kids...

We don't officially school year round, but we take a week long break every six weeks, then we take off a little more for Christmas and we might take a week off while I help plan the pregnancy center's annual Gala. This last school year, we missed about a week due to morning sickness. Last year we took off while we all passed around a stomach virus. All of those breaks mean school didn't end for us until a few weeks ago. We didn't even technically finish, I just knew I needed a break so we picked a few items I wanted to do and dropped the rest. So, in essence my girls have had a very short break.

As summer winds to a close, every time we're in public, they're bombarded with school related questions. At home, Ashlyn sees me prereading the books she'll read on her own (with a underline happy pencil for vocab words!). I'm also finishing my school shopping list-a few more random items and we'll have all we need to start-which is usually the week of Labor Day.

Guess what I've been hounded about for several days now?

The girls want to start TODAY. I was supposed to take my sister-in-law to radiation treatment today but she's been off the chemo for a few days and feels well enough to go on her own. With the unexpected change of plans, the first question this morning was, "Does that mean we can start school today? Pleeeaaasssse?"

We homeschool for a myriad of reasons, one being the gift of a lifelong desire to learn. I'm so pleased that my goal in giving this gift to the girls seems to be materializing. I know it is in large part due to not using a text book based curriculum, exposure to excellent books (again, not because I can pick them out, but because Sonlight can), and a relaxed, joyful family attitude about school. Our girls often hear us thank God in prayer for the ability to homeschool so easily (meaning the law is very easy here) and for finding Sonlight. We all feel we've found a treasure in teaching our kids at home, especially with such wonderful living books as Sonlight offers.

So, don't tell my kids, but even though our break has been short, I'm excited about starting school, too!

I've had more moms who want to know the nitty gritty details of homeschooling, so I'll try to blog about our days more this year-it should be exciting with 3 "cores" (what SL calls their year long package of materials for a grade) at once!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting the Word into your Children

When Ashlyn was little we read a typical children's picture Bible. She fell in love with the David & Goliath story. We would just randomly pick it up and read it, and occasionally we'd read it consistently but she always wanted to hear that story! We read them all, but often had to flip back and read about young David again. I was tickled that she latched onto such a great hero.

That's what we do with our "littles", we read the story Bible, teach them to pray, talk about God and all he created, and sing Jesus Loves Me songs.

That's as far as my own smarts got me. I didn't know anything else about reading the Bible to kids. Thankfully, Sonlight (our homeschool curriculum) filled in the gaps from there on out (Sonlight has filled in MANY gaps in our house!).

A picture Bible is great during the preschool years. My favorite children's Bible is by the late Kenneth Taylor. It has the most beautiful, realistic pictures of any Bible I've ever seen, especially a children's Bible. No cartoons here. I like this since we want our kids to know the Bible is a book about REAL people. Thanks to Sonlight, we have one copy of this Bible but it's getting worn. I wanted a second copy but found that right after Mr. Taylor died, it was no longer published and it couldn't be found anywhere. I cried. I'm so glad to see it back on store shelves.

Another Bible we just bought for Bethany last year is the Read 'n' See DVD Bible. It is narrated by great people like Max Lucado, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Rebecca St. James. The DVD "reads" the Bible to the kids (great for when Mom's trying to do school with the big sisters) and there are scripture memory songs included.

Although it's not a Bible, but a foundational book in doctrine, Leading Little Ones to God is another book Sonlight introduced us to. I believe we'll get to use it again this fall when Hope starts second grade work. This would be a great book not only for kids but for parents who want to brush up on what the Bible teaches. What fun to learn about God together!

Our family has liked the NIrV Bible either for Mom or Dad to read aloud to young elementary aged children or for new readers to read on their own. NIV is New International Version and the little "r" in there means readers. It's aimed at not only this age group but adults who are not strong in reading skills. They come in many themes. We have one that's a detective theme and another that uses characters from Focus on the Family's Whit's End stories. This made a good first "grown up" Bible for our girls.

Ashlyn, who's 11, received the New Inductive Study Bible last year to go with her Kay Arthur studies (Bible studies she does on her own). It is a New American Standard Bible. I now use it to read the Bible portion of our school work to all the girls. Bethany, at age 4 doesn't get it much, but Hope does as long as I do a little explaining here & there.
On the market today are zillions of devotionals aimed at children. We even own a board book called High Chair Devotions to use with the itty bitty ones. Over the years, we've bought the sweet Father-Daughter and Mother-Daughter devotionals as well as others simply aimed at girls in a specific age range. I'm sure you can find an affordable one at Christian Book Distributors or any bookstore.

There are other supplementary materials-things to do in addition to reading the Bible and doing Bible studies/devotionals with your children. There are many CDs out there with fun scripture memory songs. We have Max Lucado's Hermie & Friends Scripture Memory CDs on being brave.

Once Ashlyn was about elementary school age, she liked to listen to Adventures In Odyssey from Focus on the Family. She still does, and now the episodes are online. These stories always deal with character and Biblical issues and can sometimes be heavy or (rarely) scary-so just heed any warnings given at the beginning of the broadcast.

We've also invested in Focus on the Family's children's magazines. Ashlyn used to receive Clubhouse Jr, which is great for new readers (aimed at kids ages 4-8) but she's been reading Clubhouse in the last few years (for kids 8-12). I love the truth she receives by reading the articles artistically appealing to kids.
Finally, our kids have received much spiritual truth from reading about missionaries. Our source for great missions books is our Sonlight materials, but most if not all are available at Amazon or CBD. I've even seen a great series Christian Heroes: Then and Now at the library (not our little anemic one, but one an hour away). One of our favorites is Missionary Stories with the Millers.
I don't believe any of the materials I've linked to are over $20. Oops, the New Inductive Study Bible is, but all the rest are very affordable. This list is hardly all there is out there! There's so much, so poke around CBD's site, go to Sonlight's site and see what they suggest for each age, browse your favorite Christian bookstore.
Okay, so you buy some great new books, Bibles, devotionals or scripture CDs. How do you get in the habit of using them? More on that later!
In the meantime, if you have a favorite resource for getting God's Word into the hearts of your little ones, please post it in the comments!
Am I the only Blogger blogger who has trouble with Blogger's spacing? Just need you to know I know its messed up, but I can't fix it :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Prayer Time

Just wanted to put a few things out there for you prayer warriors :)

If you pray for nothing else here, let me beg you to pray for the baby's life of a young woman. She's 19 weeks (yeah, like half way through her pregnancy, she's probably showing, and she'll feel movement any time) and has 2 daughters, though not in her care. She has not had running water in 3 years. She plans to abort this baby, as far as we know. Her sister called my Center's hotline this last weekend, I referred her to our other center, which has sonogram capabilities. She had her sono Tuesday but left without giving her intentions.

I know her situation is dire and may be no place for a baby. But that does not mean the baby's life should be taken. Please pray for her to choose life and either for her to change her lifestyle or for her to lovingly place this baby for adoption.

Well, it seems very shallow to mention it after that need, but Shane meets with a realtor tomorrow about selling our land. We made the decision to do it on Monday. It's bittersweet for sure. We've dreamed about living on that land, with a patio facing the creek...for years. Now it seems we're selling out. Maybe we are. But we're selling out in order to be in a better place financially. This would propel us through several of Dave Ramsey's baby steps for financial peace. This excites me so much-that we won't have to panic about the changes coming down the pike. So, if you feel like praying, you could pray for us to emotionally handle the situation and for the land to sell quickly.

Love you guys-including you lurkers!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sweet Miracle

It's been almost two months since my life has been sans sugar. I'm surprised I've kept it up and interestingly enough, I'm considering not adding it back in. Ever.

Being sugar free has done wonders for me but to share them reveals a side of me I'd rather keep in the dark. I'm not really into everyone knowing how bad I am when no one sees.

Yet the changes are too big to not shout about, so here it goes.

I've been addicted to sugar as long as I can remember. I used to think it was because my mom bought sweets for my dad's lunch and we weren't allowed any. Maybe so, I don't know. I have hidden food so I would be able to consume it without sharing. It didn't make it last much longer though since I would think about it throughout the day and plan when to sneak a bite (and A Bite is an understatement!). I occasionally had thoughts of purging but didn't act on it (but I did when I was younger until I figured out the dentist could tell so I stopped!). These behaviors define an eating disorder and the sin of gluttony. Ouch.

I would eat to relieve stress, to reward myself, to pamper myself...for any reason. I'd even polish something off to just have it gone (like I'd never heard of a trash can for Pete's sake).

I could turn down chips, diet cokes, and anything that wasn't sweet, but something sugary was not deniable.

Just like my last pregnancy, sugar started to taste bad this time around. On June 9th, the girls came home from day camp and offered me their M&M cookie. I ate some of it and when the bad taste and run down feeling hit minutes later, I swore off sugar.

I didn't know exactly what kind of sugar I'd weed out of my diet or for how long, I just knew that this was a great time to do it. Now or never. For now, I'm avoiding high fructose corn syrup, white & brown sugar. I am eating real maple syrup, honey, and evaporated cane juice. I've never liked artificial sugars, so they're no issue for me to avoid.

In the last two months, I've not binged. I've not overeaten but maybe a couple of times (and it was REAL food, not treats), I've not felt I needed to stress eat or celebrate with sugar (or food in general, really). I've not eaten in secret (except that I have to eat peaches & my Kashi cookies away from Jaybird or she'll steal them all!).

Oh, and one other great thing has happened: fruit tastes really sweet again. Some cantaloupe I ate last week was so sweet to my taste buds that I actually got a little nauseous. God blessed us with sweets-we just can't taste them like we're supposed to because our taste buds are no longer sensitive to them. I can now enjoy this gift from the Lord!

I have exercised more but not to an extreme. I'm still balancing getting good rest with fitting in my exercise time. I am not eating all "health" food, I am just working on sugar right now. We generally eat wholesome foods, but I'm not stressing out (yet) over the occasional mac & cheese meal.

I am not trying to lose weight while pregnant, but I have. The scale hasn't actually moved down, but it's barely moved up in the last 27 weeks. The nurse said today that I've gained a total of 6 lbs, I thought it was 8. Either way, it will mean a net loss once the baby arrives. I was able to fit into a pair of maternity capris that were too tight 2 months ago. Don't worry, I am eating when I'm hungry and a small weight gain by an overweight pregnant woman is totally medically acceptable.

While these things haven't been goals of mine and I've not had to work at much except the mental fight of staying off sugar (which is hardest for me in the beginning, it's easy now). I love it that I can use food what it was intended for-to live.

I now eat to live. I do not live to eat.

Getting the Word in Your Life

I've been asked recently to share my suggestions on where to start reading in the most wonderful love letter ever written-God's Word.

I've been pondering it but I don't feel like an authority of any kind. I'll share my own experience with reading the Bible and some resources I've found online. I think the key is to find a routine that fits your personality and find a resource (person or online) to answer your questions.

When I was 16, I trusted Jesus as my savior. At that point, I tried to read my Teen Study Bible. I loved that Bible because it contains commentaries that helped me grasp what I was reading. I don't recall what order I read or anything, I just remember soaking it up. I managed to read all the way through it with the suggested schedule in the back of the Bible.

At some point in my young married life, a great friend bought me a Life Application Study Bible (NIV). This gave a little more "grown up" commentary and I treasure this Bible.

I have a One Year Bible but I always fall behind by March and then feel condemnation. My personality just doesn't do well with that style. I prefer to read what the Lord leads me to several times. For instance, recently, I stayed in 1st & 2nd Timothy for a while. I've spent weeks reading Proverbs 31 over and over. I can't say Numbers does much for me, so I haven't revisited it much, but I continue to draw great things from many other books of the Bible.

My aha moments, though, came from reading it all the way through. The Old Testament is very interesting and gives so much insight to the New Testament. I don't think we should ignore it, but a person new to reading the Bible might not be ready to trudge through it-at least not all at once.

So, here's my highly intellectualized scripture reading suggestion: just do it. Do it after praying that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes & ears to the meanings and do it knowing there will be plenty of things that 1. will always be a mystery and/or 2. that will make sense as you continue to grow and read. Even though I've been an active Christian for 16 years, I am still a Bible student-always will be. Just a couple of weeks ago in Life Group, Casey, one of our leaders, stayed on one verse in John and I gleaned so much from it-a verse I've read over and over and just never saw all the implications of it.

I know it's embarrassing to be the one who doesn't know all the stories, especially when the preacher or Bible study leaders says, "Well, I know you all know the story of so-and-so...." and you're shamefully thinking, "Well, everyone else does but I don't." I've been that red faced person in class thinking, "Oh, don't call on me, I don't know what you're talking about!". We've all been there.

There's no short cut. There's no magic way to ingest God's love story quickly. You just have to start. Read it, listen to it on CD or online...just get it in you on a regular basis and before you know it, you'll have to stop yourself from saying, "We all know the story about....".

As you read here are some links that might help: This one is for Biblegateway, site that allows you to look up scripture online. So, if you know a phrase from a verse but don't know it all, you can search for it.

Here are some good suggestions about where to start.

Have more links, ideas or comments? Please encourage a new Christian or someone just new to the Bible with what has worked for you.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Answers to a few random questions...

I have a half completed draft on Bible Reading 101, so stay tuned for that soon...

In the meantime, I want to clear up a few things-some have actually asked me these questions and others are just disclaimers I feel the need to give.

Regarding our house and the urgency to move-there is no reason we need to move except for the lack of space, lack of insulation (and lack of dough to pay the high utility bills), and lack of ownership here. This is my Grandmother's home, although she lives across town in an assisted living apartment, much of her stuff still lives here. That and the ratio of people to the 1 bathroom translates into some tight living quarters. Also, no one knows what will happen to this house once we move. I'd love to paint and do some other fixing up (but b/c of the age of this house--it was built in the 1890's--nothing is so simple), but we can't justify the expense when we may be the last ones living here. Nesting hormones intensify all of the above.

I always wonder if my local blogging friends are offended that I don't link to them on my blog. I'm sure that with all the comments, it'd really be easy enough to find us, but I'd like to believe that by not putting you all on my blog, I'm not holding you responsible for remembering to leave off the identifying labels of our area/families.

I ditched Feedburner and just put all of my blogging friends in my Google reader. This may mean I leave less comments at your place, but know that I'm reading your good stuff all the time. I'm hoping that I can better manage my Internet time by using the reader.

One last one--and this is important--my sweet husband has started leaving comments on blogs. He doesn't have a Google account and therefore uses mine. He signs his name at the bottom. Pay attention to that and don't think it's me, lol! I'm trying to talk him into getting his own account :)

Okay, I feel better now. Carry on.