mercy
 Mercy !

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.”

~ Psalm 22:1-2

Is there anything much worse than God’s apparent silence when your heart is breaking,
or terrified, or wounded and betrayed ?

Where is He, the One who promised to never leave your side,  when  life is spinning out of control, and your heart is pounding in your mouth,
and your mind is screaming with what-if’s ?

Have you ever prayed until you had absolutely nothing left…and then, still…only silence?

 Mercy !!!
I give up!

I’ve been here.  This is where David was when he wrote the words of this psalm.
Maybe you’ve been here too?

I’m so thankful David was honest about his struggles!  What a relief it was to read his words one morning, and know that I wasn’t the only one that had ever felt this way and had cried out to God with these same scary, bold questions.
And David, a man after God’s own heart!

Mercy!
And literally.

So I said the word out loud.  Mercy !
Maybe just to break the silence.

Have you ever had a eureka! moment ?
Ohhhhhh.  Now I get it!

Sheesh.  Some of us (me!) are slow learners.
After months of lament and frustration and doubt and tears, it dawned on me.
God had not been silent at all.  His answer, everyday ?

Mercy!

All those dark days, I had misread His beautiful mercy for terrible silence.
Yet He had walked me through each day pouring out an unfathomable amount of mercy.
On me.  On my loved one.  On my home and on my family.

And I had completely missed it.

Have you ever completely missed it with God on something?
OUCH!   Big ouch!
But again, the Word reminds us we aren’t the first.  Phew!
Our family, His people, have been “missing it” for a very long time.    Imagine how fervent and sincere the prayers were for the Messiah to come!  So long… hoping, watching, and waiting.  Yet many totally missed it because He didn’t come in the way they had expected Him to.

I missed the way He came to me too.  Completely.

But in the missing it, I have gleaned a treasure.
“The Lord is near.  Be not anxious about anything.”
God is not far or deaf to your cries.
“Call to me and I will answer you…”
Prayers aren’t always answered in the way you’d expect.

So, at the point of giving up…look up.

Shout mercy!

Open your eyes to see.

Maybe you’ll notice the grace you’ve had to get up and face each day, or a new friendship, or a beautiful flower that has sprung up in your yard, or even the kindness of a stranger…His answer and Presence in an unexpected way.
Don’t miss it!!

The Lord has comforted me so tenderly with this revelation.  I hope in some way, somehow, these words will be of comfort and hope to someone else who needs them too.   Apologies for this lengthy post.  🙂
May the Lord bless and keep you~

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
SO THAT
we can comfort those in any trouble with the
comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

And just in case anybody has read this far, I also wanted to share this song, “Mercy”, by Amanda Cook.   🙂   So good!

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****Christmas School****

Christmas School Fun***
Hello Friends!
It’s been awhile…

Is it already November?
The warmth and joy of the holidays are just beginning to stir in our home.
The Christmas music is playing, the candles are flickering, the first baking has begun.  

I’m sipping some hot, spicy tea and making lists.  
This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  Does that sound odd?
The week before Thanksgiving is kind of the calm before the storm.  
It’s a lovely week to me.   There’s still time to sit and reflect, and make preparations for all the sweet memories yet to be made in the swirl of the next month. 

When my children were small, this was a time I also spent planning what we called Christmas school.   With just a bit of organization, this became their favorite kind of “school”… I was happy and much less stressed about getting it “all” done…. and best of all, “Christmas school” gave us some of the very best memories of our lives.

Like the year we were studying Ancient Egypt just before Thanksgiving.
It was my very first time hosting Thanksgiving at my home.  I had three littles, including a newborn, and a collection of  in-laws and outlaws, and neighbors and friends….and I had pulled it off.

We were all happily eating and chatting and I, mostly zoning out from thankfulness that the turkey was edible, and from sheer exhaustion, was happily oblivious of how long my 4 year old had “excused”  himself from the table.
Just as the thought of it crossed my mind I heard moaning coming from the nearby “powder room”.   But the thought popped in too late.

I’m blaming the tryptophan.

Before I could move,  he came bursting into the dining room stark naked and wrapped up from head to toe with who knows how many rolls of toilet paper.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM…….I’m a mummmmmmmmy !!!!

Thirty people.  Dead silence.
Shocked grandparents didn’t know what to make of the display.
Then a few grabbed their cameras, thank goodness, and this memory lives on and is retold every single year, much to my now 22 year old’s son’s chagrin.

Yes.
We are homeschoolers.
School has a way of integrating into every part of our lives !!

ANYWHO,  onto a much safer theme of American History (sans MUMMIES!)  and onto Christmas school, haha.

If baking is on your list that needs to be done, why not be learning what Swedish immigrants were baking up in their holiday kitchens, buy some cardamon and bake on….if ornaments are to be made, why not find out what ornaments in Colonial Williamsburg looked like, and try making your own… and if you need a creative way to focus your families hearts and minds on Christ, how about opening your home and gathering your friends together for a Las Posadas celebration ?

CHRISTMAS SCHOOL IS SO FUN !!!!
And just think of the great family memories that your kiddos might make.  lol


There’s tons of great units, lesson plans, activities, and other ideas out there to use if you don’t have the inclination to plan it all out right now.
If you’ve been working your way through the American Girl History Units on this site, or just think the idea of Christmas school sounds like fun, you might like to check out my Pinterest boards  (I’m still adding to them daily!)
I will eventually write these into actual units, but for now, click away and ENJOY !

*Felicity’s Christmas-  An American Girl Colonial Christmas

*Josefina’s Christmas-  An American Girl  Southwestern Christmas

*Kirsten’s Christmas-  An American Girl Pioneer Christmas

Also, you may like to check out some of the fun books and movies to go along with these!


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no words

No words.

Have you ever been at a loss for words?
In a world that is bursting at the seams with them ?

Do you need some of those  kind words today?
Words that carry healing?
Help?   Hope ?
Power?

When talking to a friend going through great loss.
When dreams seem impossible.
When seeing so many horrors on the endless cycle of news reporting.
When justice seems the exception and violence seems the rule.
When God seems so very far.
When helpless.

And your soul knows better.

In my own life there are just some times like this.
I’m not proud of myself.  But it’s true.
Maybe it is for you too.

So here’s all I’ve got….

thank you.

Seems so small and insignificant, but THANK YOU !!
Truly and sincerely.

I’m so grateful for all of you who share your beautiful, encouraging words when you have them… they are like honeycomb and a balm to the souls who are lonely, tired, scared, scarred, and burdened.
Without words.

And you share your
songs, stories, Scriptures, tears, laughs, and pictures…
Being real.
Being brave.
Being funny.
Taking the time to encourage people with your words
is
no
small
thing.

Words (but not mine) for Wednesday~
* Reason to Sing
* Laughter is a gift to share …. Lost in Suburbia Stories
* Sara…a beautiful, brave, and honest young woman, her Lord, and her story as it unfolds
* Tina… someone I do not know at all but feel such a kindred Spirit with… so real just about every day.
* Poured Out … someone I do know.  And love.  And am encouraged by often.
* Spirit Radio…. Listen live online

“Really love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another…  Encourage one another daily… spur one another on toward love and good deeds… Use whatever gifts you’ve been given to serve others.”  (God’s Word of course, not mine once again!! )
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American Girl Kirsten-
Pioneer Unit Study

Kirsten Pioneer Unit Study

Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854:
Growing up on America’s Frontier

 


* Core Reading-


*Week 1: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854
Kristen’s Journey to America

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 1-3, 40-41                     (Meet Kirsten in Sweden)
2.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 4-7                                   (Journey to America )
3.   “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 8-11                               (Go West ! )
4. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 12-13                               (Home on the Prairie)
Pioneers
5.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 14-15, 24-25                (Home on the Prairie )
Native Americans

*Week 2: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″
A Day With Kirsten

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 22-23, 26-27                 (Daily Life)
2.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 16-17; 32-35                (Fun & Games for Everyone! ) 3.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 18-21                              (Love & Marriage )
4.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 36-39                              (Fashion)
5. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 30-31; 49 (inset)          (Medicine )

*Week 3: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854”
Friends and Foes on the Prairie

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 44-45                                     (Around Town)
2. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 42-43; 46-47                        (Kirsten’s Neighbors)
3.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 48-55                                    (The Dakota Conflict)
4.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 48-55                                    (Conflicts Continue)
5. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 56-58                                     (The Great Land Rush)

Continue reading American Girl Kirsten- Pioneer America Unit Study

~ A Christmas Carol~
(Mini Unit Study)
God Bless Us Everyone

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
If you’ve never tried a unit study before,
this busy time of year might be a good time to give it a try !
Simple learning ideas for stress free
and FUN holiday homeschooling !
So that there’s lots of time for baking cookies, going to plays, homemade presents, and hopefully,
even a bit of quiet time to soak in the awe of the advent !

 

  A Christmas Carol

*Reading Suggestions-

*Week 1:  ‘A Christmas Carol’

A Christmas Carol”  (Gutenburg Version)
“A Christmas Carol”  (Easy to Read Version…Larger Print)
This piece is divided into 5 staves, perfect for one week’s daily reading.

OR
Listen to one of these audio versions
 iTunes Version
  YouTube Version  (Audio with Text)

AND/OR
Watch the 1971 animated version  Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
George C. Scott full version  A Christmas Carol
(There are many good animated and full versions to be found)

*Vocabulary & Other Activities
* A Christmas Carol Lesson
( Lots of printables…worksheets, fact sheets, recipes, and other activities)
* A Christmas Carol Vocabulary
* A Christmas Carol  Script–   Try gathering some friends and acting out this play version !
* Discussion Questions, Fun Activities, and more
* A Christmas Carol Crossword Puzzle
Reading Comprehension Questions from Easy Fun School

*Week 2:  Charles Dickens

* Biography of Charles Dickens  OR  Everything Dickens  (interactive)
OR
Watch the brief BBC Biography, The Life of Charles Dickens on YouTube
or the full length A&E Biography  (very interesting, but probably best for older students)

* ” Christmas With Charles Dickens“, a short memoir by Dickens’ daughter, Mamie Dickens

* “A Christmas Tree” , a short story by Dickens
(Also, you can listen to a well done  audio version on the same page!
This might be helpful, as some of the victorian language is likely
unfamiliar and a bit difficult. )

* Collection of Short Stories by Dickens to enjoy reading online

* ‘The Ivy Green‘ a poem by Dickens

*  Samantha:  An American Girl Holiday
(Just for fun-  though this movie is not set in England, the time period and the themes
of the industrial revolution and child labor are the same)
Continue reading ‘A Christmas Carol’ Mini Unit


Fun Family Traditions for the Holidays
Family holiday traditions

“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!”
~Albert Einstein

Family traditions for the holidays vary as greatly as the families who keep them.

Whether you celebrate with a fantastic home-cooked feast, or Chinese Take-Out;
spend a quiet day at home, or spend it packed with extended family and friends, and friends of friends;
whether you are starting a new tradition in your family or keeping a long beloved one… keeping holiday traditions is part of the fabric of what makes a family.

Traditions become something we count on.
Another thing we can count on in life is change.

Have you just moved and can’t find your Christmas tree among the chaos ?
Feeling lonely because family is far away?
Spending the holidays in a country where food and customs are quite different?
Maybe, for whatever circumstance, you aren’t able to keep your most treasured traditions?

Don’t despair !
Don’t let circumstances rob you of the joy and roots of the holiday!
Get creative !
Make up a new tradition.  You might just be surprised how much you’ll love it!

Soon after another move far away from all our family, and before we had really met anyone in our new town, a very quiet Christmas surprised us.
It was just us.
Our traditions always included a wonderful Christmas dinner and a house bursting with friends and family.  The house was glaringly quiet and we debated what to do.
And so, we decided to go out for Chinese food !
Yep.  Could have been inspired by the 24-hour  A Christmas Story marathon.  🙂
Truthfully, it felt kind of sad and pathetic at first….but we laughed and we told funny family stories, and we ate together, and really enjoyed the night.
Five years later, and five Christmas Eve Chinese dinners later, this has become one of my children’s absolute favorite traditions.

So, whether you’re looking for some new traditions to add to your celebrations,
or you’ve found yourself in need of a few creative ideas for making some new ones,
here’s my
Friday Family Tradition Favorites:
* Serving Others from Melinda Todd
Reading Stories aloud by candle light from Contented at Home
(read them on a kindle, laptop, etc…all FREE)
* Turkey Ticket Traditions from Lets Get Together
*
Thanksgiving Games from A Pinch of Joy   
* Fun Family Holiday Traditions from Crazy Little Projects
* Start a New Tradition from A View Along the Way
* Build a Gingerbread House Village from HOUSEography

 

~Keeping a Quiet Heart~

Hearts


Why is it so hard to keep a quiet heart?
Or is that just something I struggle with?

I watch my youngest pull out of the driveway every single morning.
I pray and fight the swelling urge to worry.
I deny my mind the right to consider the rush of fearful thoughts
that want to come bursting in.
It’s been a year since her accident.


I will keep a quiet heart.

That’s hard work!
Yet harder still is the labor of worry.
Believe me, I know !
I don’t recommend that occupation at all.  🙂

Do any of you worry?
My friend wakes up in the middle of the night filled with incredible anxiety over her ability to successfully homeschool her children.  Another friend is nearly overcome with thoughts of failures in her finances.  Whether it’s fretting over health, or wayward children, or an uncertain future,  or even over all the holiday plans, it’s  exhausting !  Phew!

How do we keep a quiet heart ?
I can’t tell you what will work for you, but this has been my journey in a nutshell.

Worry is just another word for FEAR.
Fear is an ugly thing.
It will destroy anything it can get ahold of…  relationships, health, happiness,
peace, LIFE !
We tend to feel most fearful when we cannot control,
or have lost control, of our circumstances.

Prayer works.
Take a deep breath (or 5).  Sometimes, I think I have held my breath all day.
Recognize when fear is creeping in.
You aren’t in control, but that’s OK.
God is good.  He is in control.  Nothing surprises Him.
Choose faith over fear.
Stop.  Pray.
There isn’t a right way to do it.  Just DO it !
And then do it again.
And breathe.

The mind and the heart are connected.
If your heart is beating wildly with worry, chances are
your mind is full of loud clutter too!
I chose a short Scripture to pray when my mind wouldn’t allow me to focus.
Almost like a type of fasting, I would pray this verse every single time
I began to feel overwhelmed.
Words to focus my heart & mind on truth.
These were not some “magic words”  that obligated God to answer me.
Simply truth.
I wrote these words & placed them all over until I could pray each part
from memory…slowly with contemplation.
“The Lord is near.
         Do not be anxious about anything,
         but in every situation,
         by prayer and petition,
         with thanksgiving,
         present your requests to God.
        And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
        will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Choose peace.
 
While you can’t control other people, or circumstances,  you can control yourself.
Choose peace over fear.
It IS a choice.
Sometimes worry becomes a habit.  It takes discipline to break a bad habit.
I know when you’re tired and stressed out, this will take all the energy you’ve got.
It will be worth it though.

When life is REALLY throwing all it’s hard balls at once;
And it’s so very hard to concentrate on anything else… the rest of that verse.
“Finally, brothers and sisters,
          whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
          whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
          —if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
          think about such things. “

God really does love us.
God really is GOOD.
You really can trust Him.

May the perfect love of Christ cast out all the fear in your hearts today.
May He watch over your comings and goings (and those of your families).
May He keep you in perfect peace.

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~Thankfulness:  The Real Things Haven’t Changed~
   Words For Wednesdays

Little House on the Prairie

“The real things haven’t changed.
It is still best to be honest and truthful;
to make the most of what we have;
to be happy with simple pleasures;
and have courage when things go wrong.”

~Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have been working on a unit study about life in Frontier America.
I am amazed by the pioneer’s courage and their simple faith.
Thankfulness…the real things haven’t changed.
Their gratitude for the smallest graces
is something we can all reflect on

and aspire to.
What simple pleasures are you thankful for today?
My quick list:
~Laughter
~Hot Coffee
~The smell of baking bread
~Salty, roasted pumpkin seeds
~Music
~The change in seasons today

Gratitude

~Gratitude Builders ~
 (For Kids of All Ages)

Is today Monday again?!?
Are you SURE it isn’t Monday ?
Gratitude builders (for kids of all ages)… it’s what I’m thinking about these days.  Yep.  And it’s what I’m reminding myself of at the moment as I grump at my lack of computer skills.  Onward…

‘Tis the season to reflect on all we have to be thankful for in these wonderful lives of ours !
‘Tis the season for gathering together with friends and family.
And…
‘Tis the season to cram as much wonderful life as possible
into every corner of every day .
I’m not sure about you,  but these very lovely feelings of gratitude and family warmth
can quickly turn into a jumble of endless evenings of events, crying kiddos,
serious shopping stress,  kid meltdowns, and then one major mommy meltdown !

What helps our family?
I’m a planner.
I make plans to make plans.
I’m not even joking.  Ask my poor family.
And because,  I’m prone to mommy meltdowns (and yelling at dogs!),
I know we ALL can benefit from taking some quiet time as a family to appreciate these special days.

Just taking a moment to breathe, to be thoughtful, and to be thankful.

So, I’m making a plan.    🙂
I’ve googled, and Pinterested, and pulled out old books.
I’m making a list of a few things to do, nothing strenuous or time intensive,
just a couple quick ideas to make some quiet family time actually happen.

*Gratitude Builders For Kids of All Ages ~

* Quiet Times:
– “Praying Scriptures of Thanksgiving” from His Mercy Is New
   (Try reading & praying these simple verses together in the morning, or before bedtime)

–  Printable Family Gratitude Devotions from Frugal Fun For Boys
–  
Simple Weekly Thanksgiving  Family Devotions from Ligonier Camp
The Attitude of Gratitude (Lapbook) from Homeschool Helper Online 

*Stories of Thanksgiving for Families:
–  Thank You, God, for the Fleas!” adaptation from Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place

–  “The Children’s Book of Thanksgiving Stories”  from Project Gutenberg
( I love this resource !  Lots of short stories. Great for bed time, car time, anytime !)

Family Thanksgiving Book

My Family’s Thanksgiving Story
Perhaps you might like to make your own family’s special story of Thanksgiving.
I started the Thanksgiving notebook when my children were very small.   Every year there are various questions written at the top of it’s pages…every person (including guests) on Thanksgiving Day (or sometime during that week) signs in beside a number on the first page and answers the questions throughout the book.  We have several books now that are filled with the sweetest thoughts, memories, and words of love & friendship.   There are some years of little kid scribbles, of some umm… ‘creative’ things the kids were thankful for, some touching memories of happy times, and even several years that the pages are mostly in Spanish as we celebrated with our beautiful Peruvian friends.
Every year I bring the old notebooks out to read and remember.  There are some lovely treasures in those books-  thoughts from my Grandma, who passed away at 95 last year, and other people we have been blessed to know and love along the way.
These books are a very precious part of our family’s story.

IMG_4742 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*”Watch” a short book, or a movie curled up together:
– “The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings”  book on YouTube
– “The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks”  book on YouTube
– “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”    (full episode)

* Family Activities:
– Create a Simple Gratitude Garland from Life Lesson Plans
– Write a “We are Thankful for You” letter to someone as a family

– Try printing out these family talk Gratitude Table Topics from Growing Book by Book
Family Games… Ideas for Building Attitudes of Gratitude

“An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” Unit Study from Fields of Daisies (that’s me  🙂 )
– Some lovely Thanksgiving Coloring Pages from Karla Dornacher
  (Because they’re my favorite everyday  🙂 )

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful;  it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” 
― David Steindl-Rast

 

 Teaching Kids
~ Thankfulness ~

confused maggie

 

Have YOU yelled at your dog lately ?!?

So lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude.
(Keep reading…it really does have something to do with yelling at your dog.)  🙂

Gratitude…
But not in the

it’s-almost-Thanksgiving-and-I-need-to-hurry-up-and-be-thankful
kind of way,
  more in the
stop-and-open-my-eyes-and-actually-SEE-life-all-around-me-and-be-thankful” kind of way.

Gratitude takes a special kind of seeing some days.
Sight, past the obvious.

My recent obvious…
I wake up. I make coffee. I Iet the dog outside.
I see the obvious.
I see my grass needs to be mowed.  I see the weeds overtaking my garden.
I see my fence needs repair.  It’s raining.
I quickly close the door.
The dog brings half the back yard in on his feet;  I see mopping all the floors in my future.

I try again.

I curl up in my favorite chair.  I start to read.
I’m distracted.  The house is too quiet.
I see the obvious everywhere.
I see a dog hair dust bunny the size of Texas floating across the floor.
I see the dirty dishes that need to be done.
I see that by next year this time, my house will be quiet like this all the time… empty of kids and all the noise and motion that comes along with them.  The dog wants to go out again…and brings back the other half of the backyard inside on his feet.
Now my cup of coffee is cold.

And I lose it.
I yell at the dog.
I  mean I YELL AT THE DOG !
I blame the whole list of what’s not going right in my selfish world squarely on him.
He looks really confused and kind of scared.
Poor pooch.


Ummm  yeah.  And then I get it.
I know my attitude needs a major overhaul.
What’s the fun in that ?!?  

Yelling at the dog is a sure sign of an ungrateful heart !!
Have you ever had a day (or a sting of days) like this ?!?

Some days  Every day, I need to just stop for a moment,
take a deep breath, open my eyes, open my heart,
and really SEE life…

There is beauty everywhere to be thankful for.
There is good even in the worst situations.
There is laughter even at the saddest moments.
It’s all about seeing past the obvious.

I’m practicing.
And my dog is grateful.

Years ago, I read a story to my children, taken from Corrie Ten Boom’s book ‘The Hiding Place’.    It is called “Thank You, God, for the Fleas!“.
I don’t know if they remember it or not, but I have never forgotten it.

I know today’s post is supposed to be Friday Favorites-  links to family freebies online.
I’ll post that tomorrow.  🙂
You can read Thoughtful Gratitude Builders now.


Can we truly teach our children to grow a thankful heart if we aren’t tending our own hearts and training them toward gratefulness ?  I hope we can somehow all be encouragers of thanksgiving along the way, as fully as Betsie was for Corrie.

I am giving thanks today for all of you mamas out there who are giving your all to raise your sons and daughters to change the world by their love and light!!

Teaching kids ourselves thankfulness takes a whole lot of effort some days.
But it is all well worth the return!
For which your dog is abundantly grateful.    🙂

 

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