The Full Extent of His Love

This week I read these words…

Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.  (John 13:1)

…the full extent of His love. Can you imagine? I don’t think in our limited human understanding that we can really appreciate what that means.

The uttermost fullness of love of an infinitely loving Savior. More love than we’ve ever seen. More than we can comprehend.

The Apostle John wrote these words to introduce all the events that followed. Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. The Last Supper. The Garden of Gethsemane. And the final hours leading to His crucifixion.

All for them. For you and me.

And on this Good Friday, all I can do is be grateful. A deep, soul filling gratitude that He would love me that much.

May I never lose the wonder…

 


Posts for Holy Week

One of the greatest times of year is upon us. A week to prepare, remember and soak up all that our Savior has done for us.

My family is taking it easy this week because a few of us are sick…again. But we’ll be reading the stories, opening our resurrection eggs, practicing choir songs (between coughing and popping meds) and eagerly anticipating our Good Friday and Easter services.

So since I’m trying to get my health back and take care of the others at the same time, I thought I’d give you a couple of links to last year’s thoughts as we celebrated the Easter season. Hopefully, I’ll kick this bug and have some otherwise coherent thoughts later on this week.

Celebrating Holy Week With Your Kids

From Good Friday to Easter

May you have a very blessed Passion Week!

 


My Dear Abby

This weekend, my oldest girl turns twelve. Time is going by way too fast. And so, if you’ll permit this momma to gush a little…

abby blog pic

She was such a good baby. After the never ending colic of her older brother, she was a dream. Easily entertained by her toddler brother’s antics. A good sleeper. No health issues.

She was always a good helper. Even now, she’ll volunteer to help in the kitchen without asking. Chores without griping. She helps babysit her little cousin and does a million things for her spoiled sister. I often think that she has the gift of mercy and help.

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Hard working at whatever she does. Sometimes I think she’s too hard on herself.

Always creative and artistic (had to come from her dad). She’s practically taught herself to sew and crochet and knit. Abby is always working on some project. A hand pieced quilt for her American Girl doll. A homemade purse. A bracelet for a friend. The kid’s room looks like an A.C. Moore store.

A self-proclaimed book worm. I think she’d quickly coming up on 50 books, large and small, read since August of last year.

A loyal and thoughtful friend.

An infectious laugh.

A heart tender to the things of God.

She’s the kind of kid who takes it upon herself to limit her own Kindle time. To organize her room (girl has mad organization skills). To offer an apology.

And I can’t really take any credit for it. It just seems to be the way God made her. I often wonder, with all her wonderful qualities, what she’ll end up doing in life. As an adult, I think she could be one of my greatest friends.

But right now, I’d rather put the breaks on this whole growing up thing. A few more years of snuggling with her sister. Of playing dress up with her best friend. Loads more hugs for her mom and dad.

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abby and ella on boat

 

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Happy birthday our dearest Abby! You are quite a gift :)


So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling–Some Resources to Help

If you’re one of those families just now thinking about homeschooling your children, the whole process can be overwhelming. There are so many different philosophies and styles. So many different curriculums, groups, evaluation options. Suddenly, you have choices to make about a hundred different things and pressure and questions from well-meaning (but often not-helpful) family and friends.

So I thought I’d put together a few places you can look for some advice and perspective.

HSLDA

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The Home School Legal Defense Association is a national legal advocate for homeschoolers. If you join (I’m not a member, yet, but plan on joining this year) they will give you legal assistance if you should ever need it. But beyond that (scary) stuff, they’re a good place to start to find your state’s requirements where homeschooling is concerned.

I tend to keep up more with my state’s group CHEWV (Christian Homeschoolers of West Virginia). Most likely, your state has some similar kind of group. Both of these will help you figure out testing or year end evaluations (if required) and keep you informed of events or homeschooling related government updates.

Local Homeschool Support Groups

Many homeschooling families end up joining a co-op or support group. They come in all varieties. Ours is a bit more structured, offering once a week classes, field trips, project fairs, talent shows, plays and more. It’s a pretty big group and I love all the variety of options for my kids. As in most of these kinds of groups, parents are expected to help teach or assist in some way during the year. I’ve taught a good amount of classes for our group.

Some groups are more of a play group or field trip group. Others form book clubs or get together for different sports. The HSLDA site has a place to search for groups in your area. And if you have a state organization, they may have an even better list. I also found this site (Homeschool World) that offered a list of groups by state or country. (Although my group wasn’t listed–so it’s not an exhaustive list–just a place to start.)

Sometimes, finding a group is just a matter of talking to other homeschooling families you know, or calling a few local churches.

Curriculum

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I hate to even open up this box for you. Before I started, I had NO idea there were so many different options out there. I would suggest before you start out, make a note of your child’s learning style. Do they like to read and  be read to? Then they might thrive in a Charlotte Mason style curriculum like Sonlight.

Do they love to sit for hours with a coloring and activity book? Then they may do better with a more “traditional” workbook/textbook curriculum like Abeka or Alpha Omega.

And if you have a kid who gets downright obsessed with a topic and dives into every part of it, longing to know more and more, then they might do well with a unity study approach that integrates language, math, science and history into one topical study.

Once you’ve given some thought to the type of learner you have, then you’ll be better equipped to sort through all the options without getting lost.

If you’re ready to start looking, here are some other sites to check out…

  • Christianbook.com   (Affiliate link) This is where I get most of our stuff (other than Amazon and Ebay). They have loads of sales in the spring and sometimes offer free shipping codes.
  • Rainbow Resource. I haven’t used them myself, but I know quite a few people who do.
  • Apologia. We have used their material for science for a few years now. I usually get it at CBD or Amazon, but if you want to check out all they have, this is their site.

Books and Magazines

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When I first started out, I grabbed about every book I could. There’s loads out there, but these are some I’ve read or heard good things about.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff! And that’s just the tip top of the iceberg. Let me assure you, once you start digging in to homeschooling, there will be no end of options and ideas for you to consider. But if I could pass on a little advice…

Keep it simple.

Consider your kids.

Be flexible.

Most of us change programs or methods somewhere along the way. But the freedom to do what works is one of the best things about this type of learning!

And never fear, I’m working on another list for you of free/cheap homeschooling resources to go along with this more mainstream stuff.

Got any of your favorite resources to pass along?

This post contains affiliate links. You get the same great prices, and I get a little commission to support this blog. Thanks!


Spring Projects…Ready, Set, Go!

Finally, a break in the weather! I think this past week was the first we’d had (in months) where the white stuff didn’t fall. I’ve felt it creeping up on me for a few weeks now. The urge–NEED–to get moving on all the things that need done around here. Better weather moved in and suddenly (and much to my family’s chagrin) it seems like we have a 101 things that need done RIGHT NOW.

So we rolled up our sleeves and crossed a few things off the list.

The rest of the seeds got planted.

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We picked up a truckload of mushroom soil with fertilizer for the garden. The soil in that area has never been supplemented, and since I have such high hopes for tomato and pepper yields this year, we figured it couldn’t hurt. The whole family was out filling buckets and spreading out the lovely smelling stuff.

 

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And since it was such a beautiful day, my dad got to work on the neighbor’s tractor to till all that rich goodness into the garden. (Which he made just a tad larger. It makes me giddy, really.)

 

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We went ahead and got a good sized plot of dill seeds planted and some cilantro seeds into the ground. Later this week, I’ll work on onion sets, radishes, greens, and peas. My mouth is watering!

Back inside, we began tackling the enormous job of sorting through things for my in-laws giant yard sale next month. My girls had totes and totes of clothes in the attic. It looked like they all threw up in my house for a day. But we got it sorted and ended up with quite a lot to give away or sell.

 

yard sale tub

 

It wasn’t all work, though. The sunny skies begged that we take our new (used) kettle grill for a test spin. So hubby got the charcoal going and we had our first grilled meal of the season. Nothing fancy. But oh-so-tasty.

 

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Finally, you must, of course, look fabulous for all this working and eating. And my daughter was up to the challenge.

 

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I get all charged up and excited about all this family productivity. Feeling my body and brain finally wake from it’s winter induced numbness. We still have another 97 or so things to check of the list. Garage needs cleaned out, wood shed needs cleaned out, more yard sale stuff to organize, more things to plant, and it would be nice to see out of my windows. (Okay, they’re not that bad. But still.)

It was a good start, though. Very good indeed.

What’s getting done at your place? Got any spring projects in full swing?

 


Mexican Spiced Black Bean Patties

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This year, I’ve been intentionally trying to plan at least two meatless meals every week. It helps us reign in the grocery budget and most of the time, a meatless meal plan has plenty of good for you veggies.

But I was getting a little bored with our usual choices, and I’ve been thinking about a recipe like this for a long time. My kids will eat just about anything in a patty shape, and we’re all a fan of Mexican inspired flavors.

This dish comes together easily and is a great make ahead option. I put the patties together earlier in the day, popped them in the frig, and then fried them up when we got home from my daughter’s music class. We served them alongside sautéed potatoes, cauliflower and zucchini, seasoned with chili powder, garlic and onion.

Mexican Spiced Black Bean Patties

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Makes 10-12 patties

  • 2 cans drained and rinsed black beans or 3-4 cups cooked dried beans
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/4 medium onion, small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 TB lime juice
  • tsp cumin
  • tsp chili powder
  • couple shakes of crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • fat for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet (cast iron works great), heat some fat over medium heat. For an extra layer of flavor, reserved bacon drippings are wonderful for this. Sautee the bell pepper, onion and garlic until it begins to soften and just starts to brown. (The browning brings extra flavor, too!) Remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, mash the beans with a potato masher or fork until about half of the beans are broken down. You don’t want it all to be a paste. Leave some intact for texture. Stir in the pepper/onion mixture. Add in lime juice, spices, and a little salt and pepper, stir and taste it. If you’re using canned beans or seasoned breadcrumbs, you won’t need much extra salt.

Stir in the egg and then bread crumbs. Mix everything well. Heap some of the mixture onto a tablespoon and then form into patties. You can place them on something like a flexible mat for easier removal. If they start to stick to your hands too much, simply rinse your hands and leave them a little damp. The water helps. The patties will benefit with a little time in the frig to firm them up and make handling them easier. So I’d give them at least a 30 minute chill time.

When your ready to brown them up, heat your large pan, with about a tablespoon or two of fat (more drippings, olive oil, palm shortening, etc.) over medium to medium high heat. Use a spatula to get the patties off the mat and add them to the hot pan. I could only cook about 4 at a time without crowding them. Let them brown up without disturbing them for just a few minutes on one side and then flip. They’ll look remarkably like sausage patties and brown up nicely.

While you’re finishing the batch, you might want to keep the finished patties on a wire rack in a warm oven to keep their crispness. Serve with shredded cheese, or mix up some sour cream and hot sauce.

Enjoy!


Giving Credit Where It’s Due

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I gotta tell you a little about life around here the last couple weeks. Earlier, I wrote a post about all the ways that God has provided for us. Big and small. Ordinary and totally extraordinary.

They say sometimes to be careful when you put something out there. Because you just might have to prove what you believe. Like praying for patience and then having it seriously tested. I’m not sure I buy into that all the time, but it definitely happened this time.

The very same day I put up that post things started falling apart for my husband at work. In twelve years with the small family business, he had never had something like this happen to him. It all seemed totally out of his control, and yet his integrity was questioned, reputation at stake, money lost. It was the icing on the cake of a winter where things had been barely treading water anyway.

Needless to say we had quite a few anxious days.

And immediately my mind went back to that post. What on earth was going on? Not that writing about God’s provision means He’s obligated to reward us or something. I know that’s not how it goes. But it just came too close together. Reason told me it was a stretching of our faith. Growth as a believer rarely comes without a little (or a lot) of adversity. When things are perfect we just don’t feel the need to rely on our God as much. We are quick to forget where our strength comes from.

But that’s not the end of the story. A few days into the situation, my husband was working his tail off, trying to fix the situation the best he could, and work for another customer as well. And as Providence would have it, this customer would be the conduit for heaps of blessings–emotional, spiritual and physical.

While the guys were being berated and threatened on one side, the others were constantly praising their work. They kept pouring out appreciation and encouragement that whole week long. They helped us keep our perspective and reassure that not everyone out there was out to get us.

Then, in another out of the box way, God provided. Items we needed just fell into our laps. And then to cap it all off, we got an all wheel drive car for my husband and sold our van in the same day…when it wasn’t even a blip on the radar when the week started.

Unexpected provision. All clearly orchestrated by God.

And after all that I stumbled through a prayer of dumbfounded thanks. I was reminded that we too easily forget that He does not let us go. We resort to whining and complaining and even still He pours out blessings we do not deserve.

The desert season for the business is not over. Things are still rocky and somewhat discouraging here and there. All we can do is depend on new mercies every morning. Wait for the bread of that day and then get up the next and do it again.

But isn’t that what He wants from us anyway? Trusted dependence? Faithful reliance? Daily hope? Then, when it is all out of our control anyway, we notice so keenly all the moments, big and small, where He’s carried us and held us together.

And then with full hearts we give thanks and glory.

May the God of all HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.     –Romans 15:13


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