Thanks, Grandmom Ruthie!

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I wish I had had my camera with me, but I just wanted to let you know, mom, that with her precious quarters, Vivienne purchased a whole handful of chick-lets and an adventurous ride on Clifford.  The small change transformed into a relational blessing when the little boy waiting in line for Clifford asked Vivienne to join him for a second ride (what a thrill!).  Afterwards, Vivienne gave him two pieces of her gum in appreciation for his skootching over just for her.


A Silver Tongue

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A visit from my sister usually convicts me about how flippant and sarcastic I can still be with someone who *has to* love me despite my ugliness. I don’t know why, but this particular sister always gets the worst of my words (I think Ryan must come in second place for my carelessness). She’ll be telling a story and I’ll interject something terrible that mocks, ridicules, demeans, whatever. She usually looks at me in shock (even though I’ve done it enough times to pacify the shock-effect), and asks, “Why did you just say that?” Her faithful responses and the Holy Spirit always convict me, but I stubbornly indulge in my ugly humor. I hate this pattern. And I’m so ready to live in freedom from this sin (that’s why I’m “going public” with it).

After she left, I sat down to read through the “Communication” chapter in The Excellent Wife and was struck to the core with Scriptures about how wise it is to purify my speech, beginning with a close examination of my heart and ending with a deliberate training of the words I speak (or don’t speak, in most cases!) These Scriptures were most instructive…

And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. Matthew 12: 36-37

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.  Proverbs 15:28


A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.  Proverbs 15:4.

I learned that every sarcastic and careless word that I speak reveals a part of my heart that I’ve not yet surrendered to Jesus Christ: a “breach” in my spirit that needs God’s healing. When I examined why I spoke what I thought was funny but knew was hurtful (my friend calls these things “death-humor”), I realized that I’ve never confessed and sought transformation of the “death-humor” that I’ve entertained in movies, TV shows, comedic shows, and conversations. For example, I remember thinking that Adam Sandler’s “Goat-boy” skits (a college-kid favorite) were hilarious, but in listening to them, I wasn’t guarding my heart; instead, I was feeding my love for sarcasm and unknowingly preparing myself for the mean quips that I throw at people who I really do love. So, this is where I began my confession.

I’ve agreed to the process of putting aside anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from my mouth (Col. 3:8), through confessing, meditating on relevant Scripture, and actually practicing kind words… And being grateful when people who love me ask, “Why’d you just say that?” One day, may I be one of those women who has so surrendered her words to Jesus Christ that everything she speaks is a precious gift…

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver… Proverbs 10: 20

jingle bells: week 20 prayers

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Weigh in: 10.5 inches and 10.5 ounces of “solid baby-miracle goodness” (as one website put it)

Big picks this week: bones continue to ossify and strengthen, finger and toe pads are finishing up. The limbs have reached their relative proportions, the eyelashes and eyelids are visible… the baby is really looking like one of us (at one eighth of its birth weight). So, although we are half-way there, most of the “significant gains are yet to come!” (this is one web site’s positive spin on what will happen in both of our bodies over the next 20 weeks…)

Please pray about our doctor’s appointment on Tuesday morning: the big ultrasound that will check the baby, and my body’s maintenance of the pregnancy. We’re anticipating very good news! Please hope for good news with us.

Also, lately, I’ve been struck by the importance of our heart’s choice to worship God alone; I greatly desire that all of our children worship Him, and walk away from the world’s emptiness. The verse that burns in my heart for all of our children is, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21, including the passionate context). I know that God can begin crafting whole-hearted God-love even when a child is in the womb; please join me in praying this blessing for our little baby!

learning simple multiplication while coping with grief

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Ah, parenting. Isn’t it so nice to bask in a good lesson that you invent in a tight moment; your child absorbs the lesson and beams up at you with gratitude just for taking the time to teach her so well? …Until, of course, time passes and suddenly that lesson backfires.

The basking: When we are coloring and a long, slender, usually-naked crayon snaps in half, we smile at each other and say, “Now we have TWO!” instead of wallowing in the grief of the breakage itself. Glorious lesson, Teacher Laura! Multiplication and coping mechanisms! Genius!

The backfire: this approach is more complicated than I originally intended. Although Viv is thrilled with it, I’m tiring of it as it has *inspired* the break-down of most of our crayons. “Double the number of crayons!” you may exclaim with a smile (as does V), but Laura-the-school-supply-lover is longing for half the number of fresh long, clothed crayons with perfectly pointed tips. Of course, Laura-the-newly-faithful-steward cannot possibly justify buying a new box of crayons when we already have so many (remember, a cheery “double the number”!).

The battle-plan: In the works, is my next genius parenting lesson that somehow convinces Viv to color for hours on end (every day) until we wear those crayons down into little nubbins. THEN, we can justify the purchase of a fresh box.


being home

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This is my first year without out-of-our-home work and I am loving it. I love the changes that have had to occur in my accomplishment-addicted mind and in my definition of “worth.” I love that all of my time and energy flows into one man and two little children. And I love these people; I enjoy their company; one of my greatest goals is that they enjoy mine as well. I love that I can confidently enjoy the restful fact that one of my biggest responsibilities is loving these few people well. It just feels so deeply good.

I was thinking about how I could ever encourage other young women that taking care of our homes really can be a source of joy and contentment. I was thinking about how most women in my generation don’t even consider this option for various reasons.

As new studies reveal that day-care programs (and even preschools) can be, in fact, socially and educationally detrimental to children, I hope that increasingly more families choose for mothers to care for children at home (don’t worry, I’ll link up to the studies ASAP). One of the most pressing reasons for day-care is a lifestyle that demands two incomes per family. Sometimes, there aren’t many other options for a family. Most times though, there are many ways to rearrange our lifestyles in order to survive on one income. But it’s very difficult to make drastic changes once one is 30-something; by then, we already have the career path, the mindset, the habits, the goals, and all the stuff to go with it.

How helpful it would be to think through these things years ahead of time when one is just beginning to establish her own lifestyle. Sadly, placing our children in day-care can happen as early as accepting a steep college (or other type of) loan. Although an 18 year-old student might not even imagine having children, she might be making decisions that affect them. A college loan can turn into a demanding – and necessary, – job in order to justify/ pay off the loan, which can turn into a materialistic lifestyle, which can turn into bigger things (“debt”), which can turn into maintenance, insurance, addictions, and stress… all by the age of 30! By the time a little one comes along, day-care seems necessary. Even though it is not. Freedom from “we have no other choice” might just be a smaller house, a used car, 15-fewer outfits, and a modified monthly budget away. Hard, but praise-worthy, work. Most young people could choose this freedom from the beginning, with a little encouragement and counter-cultural living.

One of the most helpful resources for our family regarding financial freedom – which results in my opportunity to care for our family at home – has been Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Through this course, we learned how to get out of debt, save for the immediate and distant future, invest, and give generously. The information and action steps are simple enough for a non-financially-passionate mind like mine to understand and do (and even enjoy!).

Of course, another amazing God-given gift has been my husband’s divine (I’m not kidding) understanding of money… from generosity to debt-free living, this guy just seems to have a chunk of God’s heart on the matter. Things really changed in our home when I finally surrendered my unwieldy financial perceptions to simply follow Ryan’s financial wisdom “to the T.” (After a few years of wanting God to give Ryan a “godly passion” like working in an orphanage or leading Jr. High church retreats, I finally saw that God had given him a very godly passion… in stewarding money wisely. I realized that if I dragged my heels to follow him, we’d both miss out!)

teach ’em how to get home

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Vivienne quickly learned her full name, address, and phone number through playing “Doctor’s Office.”  When “the patient” (played by Vivienne herself) comes into the office, “the nurse” (played by me) uses a notebook to record all of her information in “her file.”  Then as I check her heart, lungs, throat, eyes, and nose, I sketch each body part and write my “professional assessment” next to it.  Viv could play this for hours and loves giving me all of the information as she anticipates having her “broken leg” wrapped up in a bandage or taking a dose of vitamin C for her “nasty cough.”

We also made an “All About Vivienne” book with pictures of our family, home, etc.  One of the pages reads “This is our house.  Our address is…” Another page reads “My phone number is…” After reading that book a couple of times, she could recite the pages herself!

And, of course, it always helps to fit any address or phone number into a little jingle!

A Little V quote (these are always dedicated with love to the grandparents!)

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Tonight, we were eating pizza at a little place in Boalsburg. Viv spotted a slot machine on the floor; the buttons and levers were at just the right height for her and it wasn’t plugged in, so we let her play with it while we finished our dinner. When I knelt down to find out what she was playing, she held her cupped hands out to me (naturally, she was holding her imaginary kitten whose name is usually Ali) and said, “Here’s my kitten, I just baked her in the oven!” Then she promptly took the kitten back, placed her back in “the oven,” poked some buttons, pulled some levers, made a “ding!” and “pulled her out” again. Cupped hands extended, she generously offered, “Here she is again!” (WHO IS THIS CHILD’S MOTHER?!)


So far so…

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My thoughts after three weeks of homeschooling my spunky 2-year old:

*  A 2-year old can be a fantastic learner, but is not a young adult (‘learned that on day 1).

*  What I do today will influence the tone of our home as that 2-year old grows into that young adult

*  That’s why I have to default to JOY JOY JOY no matter what.

* And since JOY is a fruit of the Spirit, He’s the inspiration of our days.

* And He gets first say about each activity in our curriculum book, calendar, or else where.

* The “school day,” therefore, has quickly morphed from a strict block of “SCHOOL TIME: FROM 10 – 12 EVERY DAY!” (I promise, I was not going to install an automated bell-system, although those who know me – including my former students – know that I’m a sucker for a classroom full of rosy-faced, hand-folded enthusiastic learners. Perhaps its a rebirth of my mom’s teaching days in the Catholic school system or my own idyllic imaginings of the one-room school house. Regardless, I have to make a conscious decision every day not to assume that everybody loves to sit down and read the Classics while working through an in-depth study guide.) As I was saying, my original strict-scheduled plan has transformed into days full (or half-full, anyway) of learning activities that usually relate to the day’s themes and contain a similar structure, but are much more fun and much more… age-appropriate.

* In other words, I calmed down about the whole thing and both Vivienne and I are having a wonderful time together, learning and playing and waiting for daddy to come home.