Friday, February 27, 2015

Fridays Unfolded #146

Brrrr!!!  It's freezing cold.  Like freezing.  Our dear weatherman said it felt like -20 yesterday and I believe him.  I have a habit of almost never believing weathermen, so that's kind of a big deal.  Not that they don't have the best of intentions.  I'm just usually skeptical.

But my coffee is warm, my socks warmer, and I'm sitting here looking over some of your posts from last week, with images of some dress I stared at way too long on Facebook last night playing somewhere in the periphery of my consciousness.  Anyone else?  

Some features:

My lovely next door neighbor makes a hot fudge sauce similar to this and it is fabulous.  You should try it:

I keep trying to make homemade dryer sheets and have had zero success so far.  I'm hoping this tutorial will help me this time!

My husband loves french onion soup and he would be forever indebted to me if I made this for him.  Well, maybe not forever.  

While I was languishing under the weight of cold this week, I also wrote this poem.

Can you languish under the cold?  I feel like languishing is something you do in the heat.  But it seemed to fit. 

Our pastor is from Southern California and he made the comment that one of the interesting things about moving to the Midwest was how much people talk about the weather.  I guess they don't do that where he is from.  "So, it's 75 again?"  "Yep." 

Obviously, I am not from California.  Hence this post, and my incessant poetry and writings about the snow and ice and sunshine. 

How about I stop talking and we party again?

How it works:

  • follow your hostesses in some way 

  • link up as many posts as you like-recipes, decorating, faith, kids, homeschooling, humor, giveaways…whatever unfolded for you lately
  • grab the button and post it or linked text somewhere on your blog
  • visit a few links (it’s a party, people!)
  • pin only from the original posts
  • by joining Fridays Unfolded you are giving us permission to post a linked photo from your shared post
  • try to use nice, big photos in your posts.

Spring Interlude

Warm, yet brisk,
Cool and translucent,
Washing over the Earth.

The shy light
Bends her head, 
Afraid to scorch
The breeze dancing.

The North wind
Stands firm,
Bold and incessant.

I cower and look
Towards the sun.

Beckon its heat.

She wavers,
Unsure of her place
In this torrential change.

The wind dies.
The sun peeks, 

The wind,
Not to be subdued,
Summmons a cloud.

So it shall be.

Until our sun 
Can hold back no more.

Until even the wind
Emodies the warmth
That engulfs us all.

She will emerge.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

For the Love of Story: On Teaching a Child to Read

I sat on the floor, roughly five years ago, my oldest daughter sitting across from me.  Why I always chose the floor for phonics lessons is beyond me.  Even now, as I teach my third and last child her phonics lessons, we sit on the floor.

She sat on the carpet that day, neither despondent nor joyful.  It was work.  Hard work.

"I really don't like phonics."

She said it frequently.

"I know...but you love stories."

I also said that frequently.

Most every day we worked slowly.  Some days we got very little done.  When it was time for reading, it was the same, reluctant child, the same rigor for her small brain. "Just read one sentence today and then I'll read you a story."  

It wasn't reading that made her hesitant.  It was the work involved.  

I felt like I was forever trying to walk the very thin line between teaching her to do the thing she ought, even when she'd rather do something different, and avoiding the abhorrence of the written word.  Because I knew deep down that if she always loved stories, she would embrace her books.  If I forced them upon her, made her stories another chore, another stone in the bag of the perfectionist child, all would be lost.  What would it gain me to force her towards knowing the sounds if she would forever avoid them once she knew them?

When she was four, I scoured books and articles looking for the "right thing to do."  I knew this was preschool age and wasn't sure the best route to take.  Should she be learning her numbers?  Her letters?  Latin?  

It turns out the answer is yes, no, maybe, if the stars align, and if your grandmother collected crocodile magnets to all of the above questions.  It all depends on who wrote what you are reading.

There did, however, seem to be one thread that was woven through most of what I found that was gleaming and pregnant with truth.  The admonishment I saw most often, or perhaps just the one that kept jumping out at me, was read to your kids.  Every day.

I did read to them already, but I began to make it very routine.  Every day after breakfast, I told her and her younger sister to go pick books.  Any books they like.  And I read.  For about one hour every morning, I read to them.  

So when we were sitting on the floor, a couple of years later, and she didn't remember what sh said and her fluency was lacking and I wondered what I would do, I grasped tight to the only truth we both knew.  But you love stories.

I continued to read her those stories.  I required only enough reading from her to make sure she practiced a little every day.  Consistency is important, but long, tedious lessons are not.  It is better to read one word every day than labor over two pages and hate the book when you are finished.

One day I looked up and saw her sitting on the couch...with a book.  She read it for five minutes and put it down.

I said nothing and kept reading her stories.  

I saw her with them more and more often.  She never finished anything.  She would pick them up, read a few lines, and pick another one up the next day.

I said nothing and kept reading her stories.  

Those months she spent practicing on her own were invaluable. I never interrupted her reading for any other kind of lesson.  What lesson bears more fruit than same one she used to loathe now self-imposed?

She broke through at some point.  I don't remember when or how, but all at once, she was an insatiable reader.  Not because I was a phenomenol instructor.  But because she loved stories.

I think sometimes it's easy to push through, to force one more lesson, one more sentence upon the reluctant learner.  It is easy for us becuase the sentence looks simple and the letters glaringly familiar. But to them, they are Greek.  

Tell them a story, show them that artists weave those words into great masterpieces of the world and they will eventually choose that for themselves.  

The love of story is within all of us.  Jesus spoke to us in stories.  He communicates through His book. He chose story. He chose words.  He chose it because it beats within His creation.  

Let it reign in our own homes, in the hearts of our children, and in the lives that are becoming their own.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fridays Unfolded #145

Last week, I was unable to link up here, to share anything with you lovely readers, because I was somewhere else.

Where it was warm.

I wrote a little about that here.  Only I have this tendency to metaphorize everything in my life (that's not a word by the way...I totally made it up), so instead of writing about how my youngest daughter literally squealed with joy then entire time we were near the ocean, I wrote about crossing our proverbial oceans of fear and standing firm on the other side.

But both things happened.  The crossing of this ocean (metaphorically of course) and the squealing of joy (literally.)

I crossed this ocean, or rather I'd guess I'm in the middle of it, when I jumped on the homeschooling raft almost almost seven years ago.

This week, while I was meandering down an actual beach, not a figurative one, my friend, Liz, from The Quick Journey Blog, wrote an ebook about her raft-embarkment (only she doesn't bore her readers with metaphors like I do.  She really called it "homeschooling").  It is a delightful book, full of things I wish someone would have told me years ago.  I read it and I highly recommend it.

Now I'm back in the land of snow and ice, where temperature is hovering around 15 degrees and am ready to look at some features from last week's party.  It's warm inside and I'm thankful for heat, blankets, wool socks, and these lovely recipes to try.

Krista shared these with us:

Nicola shared a recipe for these lovely little english muffins:

And Sarah shared with us this egg scramble that looks amazing.  It has like all of my favorite things in it, save chocolate. 

How it works:

  • follow your hostesses in some way 

  • link up as many posts as you like-recipes, decorating, faith, kids, homeschooling, humor, giveaways…whatever unfolded for you lately
  • grab the button and post it or linked text somewhere on your blog
  • visit a few links (it’s a party, people!)
  • pin only from the original posts
  • by joining Fridays Unfolded you are giving us permission to post a linked photo from your shared post
  • try to use nice, big photos in your posts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What it Means to be Brave

I just spent a week on the brink of the world.

There is something about staring out over a different kind of frontier, one that was crossed by brave men so many years ago.

It takes a lot of courage to cross a new frontier.  The plains, the mountains, the ocean.  They all stare us down and dare us to come find what's on the other side.

What sits beyond the vast that separates us from the unknown?

The vastness of our great world, the majesty of our God, the infinite heart of the cross - if we are brave enough to stand on the brink, to look at where we sit and say it boldly...I want something more.  What could we find? 

Can we can say it, believe it, own it, and take our first steps towards an unknown pilgrimage...towards a holy that only stands on the other side of labor and backbreaking sacrifice?

It's pretty comfortable here, in this warm house, in my complacent state, leaning on my own understanding, loving the small way I know how.

Thankfully, we were never called to a life of comfort, but one of endless journeying and sacrifice. We aren't called to stand on the sand, stare at glory, and walk away from it.

Let's walk together.  Let's journey together.  Let's get in some ramshackle boats, nailed together by a bunch of women who know nothing about nails, and let's trust we won't sink.  Let's cross our oceans, our plains, journey over our mountains and stand in a place of renewal.  Let us never believe the journeying is always for someone else.  Let us move swiftly, labor lovingly, work tirelessly, and never quit until we look back at the ocean that separated us from our place of holiness.

Maybe we'll see it differently.  Maybe we'll see a shadow of ourselves on the other side.  A young woman, toes near the water, afraid to cross for the crashing waves.  We will close our eyes, open our arms wide to the salt, and give thanks for a safe pilgrimage, for the leading of our God, and for a journey worthy of death...that brought us to life.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fridays Unfolded #143

Since we met last week, I've been watching the snow, teaching the girls, doing quite a bit of reading, and giving thanks for our warm home in the midst of below zero temperatures.

Around here, I shared a post from the archives about the manna of motherhood and also I shared some new ramblings as I finished 2 Kings.  

Let's see a few features from last week's linkup, shall we?

Cheryl at Since I Became a Mom shared some wise words that resonated with me.  I hope you'll take the time to read this if you haven't already.

Books...any size...all sizes. Yes, please.
Thank you, Rita!

Brittany showed us how to make 

Time to party!

 How it works:

  • follow your hostesses in some way 

  • link up as many posts as you like-recipes, decorating, faith, kids, homeschooling, humor, giveaways…whatever unfolded for you lately
  • grab the button and post it or linked text somewhere on your blog
  • visit a few links (it’s a party, people!)
  • pin only from the original posts
  • by joining Fridays Unfolded you are giving us permission to post a linked photo from your shared post
  • try to use nice, big photos in your posts.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Kingdom Ramblings

I feel like I've just finished a novel of the most morose, yet inspiring, content.

I began going through 1 and 2 Kings a long time ago, chronicling the names of the kings as I read through them. I finally, this morning, closed the book on the last chapter.  Our beloved Israel was just carried off to Babylon and the promised land abandoned.

I look at God's endless patience with David, with Israel, with His children who so quickly and readily forgot their Father, their Deliverer...and it astounds me.  

Yes, there was plenty of chastisement woven throughout the story of the Israelite people.  Yes, God tried to get their attention. But always there was grace, there was patience, there was hope in the face of extreme adversity.  

They forgot Him.  But He never forgot them.

I feel sometimes as if my entire life is a modern day example of Israelite history.  I put one king on the throne and serve him.  I fail; the king betrays me.  I remember my  God.  I destroy all the idols in my life.  Except maybe the gray areas.  The high places.  Those I keep around because they aren't blatant sin. Then I begin again, forget the faithfulness of my God, the promise of His word.  I am so apt to forget, to wander, to worship others, to remain in a place of mediocre worship.

I can't worship God from a place set aside for idolatry.  I can't love God from a place of half-obedience.  To serve our God is to be all be a woman of unleashed faith, of obedience as thick as the waves that bring in both life and death.  

Our pastor said once that our culture has a tendency to look at the world and the way they live, take it down a couple notches and call it holy.  That is one of the saddest truths I know.

Our cues ought not come from the world, but from the Word. 

The end of the story is tragic.  Most of the Israelites are in Babylon, some have fled to Egypt.  There are a few left in the land.  Interestingly, the ones left are the poorest of them all.  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the Earth."

But there is a seed of hope.

Jehoiachin, who was on the throne when the Nebuchadnezzar came for them, was carried off when his people were taken captive and held in prison for years.  At the end of the book of 2 Kings, a new king came to the throne of Babylon and released Jehoiachin.

The book ends with bondage...and with a seed of a promise, an inkling of hope, that this descendent of David, of royal blood, was still alive and well.  Dining with the king.  His promise will not go unbroken, even though His people are captive in a foreign land.

"So Jeroiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life." (2 Kings 25:29)

And from him will come the Bread of Life, the atonement for all of our high places, the Deliverer of His people.