Walking Through Mud

It’s February.

So that means there’s a pile of clothes in my laundry room, the kids are watching more TV than I like, I’m counting the days until Spring Break, and I’m really tired of phonics.

And math.

And grammar.

Every day, every day, I explain to one of my dear children, the difference between short and long vowels. We do cards and starfall.com and reading practice and games.

I ask, “Okay, so what is the ‘eh’ sound?”

And the answer: “Long E! No, short E? Um… long E?”

How many days until Spring Break again?

We keep on trudging. We do our best. I try my best to be nice, first of all. We try to do the work on our lists. Some days it feels like we make progress and some days it doesn’t.

But I know February will pass. March too (which is usually worse) and then we’ll be heading downhill on all my plans for the year, the classes we have left, the books to finish (or not).

God keeps giving me tests of patience and I keep failing. Sigh. Right now my back is out or something, I’m not sure, but I’m walking crooked and looking like a piece of corkscrew pasta.  I’m seeing the chiropractor tomorrow. But meanwhile I’ve allowed it to be an excuse for being mean to my poor three-year-old whenever he’s disobeying and I have to pick him up and put him in his pack-n-play. I’m angry at him for hurting my back. Well, it’s not his fault my back hurts. It’s not his fault I’m tired. (It is his fault he’s disobeying, and we work on that, but I don’t have to be grouchy about it.)  So, still praying, still trying, still falling on grace.

This verse has jumped out at me lately. I’ve been sitting here for about 2 weeks, because I just have to camp on it:

“Preach the word! [Exclamation point! How often do you see those in Scripture?] Be ready in season and out of season. Correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”   2 Tim 4:2

I like that version even better than the one I’m memorizing. I like the “great patience” and “careful instruction.” My version says “longsuffering” and “teaching.” Either way, I’m to be a patient teacher.

And I can’t get around the emphasis on preaching the word. Being ready in season (maybe when things are going well?) and out of season (maybe when they’re not).

Am I preaching the word to my children? Do I even have the word in my mind at all, much less dwelling richly? Are we spending our dwindling time and energy on eternal truths at all or rushing to get through the list?

Which will matter more in five years?

These are the things I’m thinking about, yearning for, leaning toward. Even if we still have to do phonics.

Grace to you, mothers. Keep walking, even now, even in February. May we know the word and be ready to share it with our children. We will all have opportunities, like them or not.

“Preach the word!

Be ready

in season and out of season.

Correct, rebuke and encourage

—with great patience and careful instruction.”  

2 Tim 4:2

May we all perservere until the sunshine comes out again.

P.S. One of my dear children just came out and gave me a picture of all the foods they can think of (including patato, trunip and brocily-tree) they’ve drawn with little labels pointing to everything and most of the words even spelled right. It makes me cry a little. Somehow they learn things and are these darling, amazing little creatures, and I feel so privileged to get to be with them and see it all. Even if sometimes I forget.



{ rest }

Once a month or so, I want to simply share a beautiful picture and words of truth. It is a reminder to all of us to take time and space in this frantic world to take a breath,
drink deeply of God’s goodness, and just rest. It’s okay.

A heart of peace gives life to the body
but envy rots the bones. Ps 14:30

6 Tips for My Future Crafting Self

NOTE: This is a re-post from last year. Hope you enjoy it! This year we’ve been stitching hearts onto cardboard and it’s been going surprisingly well. My eight- and six-year-old love it and my three-year-old tolerates it for about twenty minutes before he gets bored.  I followed the tutorial here: http://www.redbirdcrafts.com/2012/01/sew-heart-valentine-tutorial.html
Valentine’s Day seems to bring out the crafty side of my  fellow stay-at-home moms. And while I appreciate the sentiment behind all those cute Valentine’s card ideas on lots of blogs right now, we are doing well at our house just to get through a construction paper and glue session and wind up with some crooked hearts without cutting someone’s finger off.

Craft day at our house is a big, fat mess every single time, but this time I thought I’d share some tips I am willing my future crafting self to remember. You know, for next
Valentine’s day. Or Easter-egg dying day (shudder).

Hello, nice to meet you. Would you like to shake my freakishly purple hand?

1. Put the toddler in the high chair before you start. Always. Always! How many times do I have to tell you this, self? Otherwise he’ll be running around with purple, inky hands saying, “I not poopy!” which means, of course, that he is
poopy, and you will have both an inky toddler and a poopy diaper with which to contend, and this is not a good situation for anybody.

Get behind me, Satan. (non-washable ink)

2. Make sure the ink is washable.  I mean, hello. I did notice when I got out the blue ink that it said, “washable.” Which the black ink did not say. But how hard could ink possibly be to wash off? Well, I’ll tell you. Very hard. So hard, in fact, that even after giving my two-year-old a bath for an hour, and using lots of soap, he still looked like he had a black eye and some oddly tattooed hands. Thankfully this should not be a problem next year since I threw the non-washable kind away and vowed to not let any other such insanity enter the house as long as I have young children.

Eye Love You.

3. Googly eyes are a hit! In fact, my five-year-old helped my two-year-old sit there and glue on googly eyes happily for at least twenty minutes. They didn’t really care about those cute heart stickers I bought, so next year I might as well just buy a couple extra packs of googly eyes.

4. I have to cut out other activities on craft day.
I’m doing better about this! Maybe writing posts will help me remember my own
advice. I remembered our sticky snow ice cream disaster and thought, wait! I
need to only do one thing at a time! And cut other things out! So, we just had
our Valentine’s Extravaganza on the schedule that day. I counted it for
handwriting and copywork (which it was).

We went to our homeschool Capitol Day earlier this week, and it was awesome. (If you’ve never been to your state’s Capitol Day, I’d encourage you to Google it, find out when it is, and go.) But because of that, and our Valentine’s Extravaganza, we got exactly zero math lessons done this week. But, I reminded myself, it’s okay. Better to do a manageable amount and not get stressed out, than to try to cram everything in and be yelling at my kids. So, that’s a praise! I didn’t yell at my kids! Thank you Lord!

Busy at work

5. It will get easier. Next year, my toddler will be three and a
half. Practically a man! So, I’m sure it will be easier next year. And if it
won’t, I don’t want to know about it, okay? I’m just going to keep repeating it . . . It will get easier . . . It will get easier . . . It will get
easier . . .

6. It’s worth it. Despite the mess, the clean up, the chaos, this is important. I want my children to make Valentines for family and friends and neighbors, to show their love and appreciation for their teachers and grandparents. I want them to learn that life isn’t all about them. And the sooner they learn that, the better.

Bar Keeper's Friend, you are a friend of mine

On a side note, my husband has been yearning after a certain Pottery Barn table for years. But can you imagine the stress of a gorgeous new table? At least this one is all dilapidated, so if it gets a little ink on it, it’s no big deal. Three cheers for old kitchen tables.  :)

Happy crafting with your kiddos. I’m sure at your house it’s much more orderly than at ours.

Chapter Book Challenge: Mid-Year Update

Earlier this year I wrote about a Chapter Book Challenge. The idea is to encourage each other in our reading and share great books we’ve found.

Please jump in with your comments and share your great ideas! I have learned a lot from you.

So each week this year I felt like we were not doing nearly enough reading, maybe only sitting down to read 2-3 times per week, but somehow it added up. (The audio books did help greatly in squeezing more in.)

Here’s what we read and what we thought. At the time of the reading, my children were:
son, 8 years
daughter, 6 years
son, 3 years (But most were read during his nap.)


The Horse and His Boy; C.S. Lewis
My Rating: 4 stars
(For this age. For an older child, 5 stars.)

Great story and Christian worldview, but the complex plot and vocabulary made it hard to read to a 6 and 8 year-old without a lot of explaining.

Wonderful writing, of course.




Prince Caspian; C. S. Lewis
My Rating: 4 stars
(For this age. For a an older child, 5 stars.)

Same review as The Horse and His Boy. My kids did like it, but I think they’d enjoy it even more in a few years.






Voyage of the Dawn Treader; C.S. Lewis
My Rating: 4 stars
(For this age. For a an older child, 5 stars.)


I crossed the last two Narnia books off our list for this year and plan to try them in a few years when the kids are a bit older.





A Little Princess; Frances Hodgson Burnett
My Rating: 4 stars
(Due to weird theme of how The Magic is inside all of us and watches over us, instead God’s providence and care.)

Wonderful character story that ignites the imagination, but the weird “Magic” undertone bothered me. My kids (especially my daughter) enjoyed it.  I liked the concept of holding ourselves to a high standard of civility and graciousness.  Writing was good but not great. This is a classic though, and I’d recommend it, especially for girls.



Anna Hibiscus; Atinuke
My Rating: 4

Story of a girl in Africa, written by a storyteller. Lyrical writing. Kids were interested in the funny stories and names. No explicit Christian content, but seemed a Christian worldview. Lovely. Perfect for us since we hope to go to Africa this summer (Lord willing). Wonderful way to learn about the world.

Usborne carries these.



In Grandma’s Attic; Arleta Richardson
My Rating: 5 stars

Though the writing isn’t exceptional, I loved this book. Each chapter is a story from
Grandma’s day. The kids were interested in the stories. All come from a Christian worldview; some have explicit spiritual messages. This is the perfect book for their ages—simple enough plot to understand, moral lessons, funny stories, spiritual truth. I plan to get others in the series.



Hank the Cowdog and the Runaway Windmill; John R. Erikson
My Rating: ? I don’t know. I didn’t hear it.

My son said he would recommend it. (He also said I HAVE to tell kids about the A-Z mysteries. HAVE TO. But we’ll get to those later.)


The First Four Years; Laura Ingalls Wilder
My Rating: 3 stars

This book was a rough version because Wilder didn’t polish it before she died and you can tell. The writing is not nearly as strong or descriptive as the others, the theme doesn’t really work, it’s poorly transitioned in spots, and it’s extremely depressing.

The happy parts: they have a daughter.
The sad parts: hail destroys their wheat crop, Almanzo and Laura get diphtheria, Almanzo has a stroke, they lose their homestead, most of the trees on the tree claim die, their infant son dies, and the book ends right after their house burns down.
Cheery, right?

This is not one I’d recommend for kids unless they are dying to see what happened to Laura (mine were).

[Note: I don't blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for any of this. All her other books are a 4.5 or 5 stars. She's wonderful. This book, from what I've read, she didn't even like, and put the rough draft away and didn't work on it again. Her publisher decided to publish the rough draft after her death. So it's really not her fault. I'd highly recommend any of her other books.]

 Throughout the Year

The Jesus Storybook Bible; Sally Lloyd Jones (and God)
My Review: 4.5 stars

This is the Bible we read through in the mornings, one story most days. I would
recommend this because it held all three of my children’s attention, an impressive feat, and all stories are tied in to Jesus, which is a lovely thread.

The only thing I didn’t love is it’s a bit silly in parts and embellishes with dialogue that is not true to the Bible accounts. My kids really enjoyed it.


James Herriot’s Treasury for Children; James Herriot
My Rating: 4 stars, so far

I feel like this is required homeschool reading! It is lovely, with quirky stories about various animals and an English vet. My daughter is the animal-lover and she enjoys the book the most. My 3 year old likes looking at the pictures even though the stories are a bit above him. Gorgeous illustrations.
Warning: will make you want to move to a farm in England.

Here’s our updated list for the rest of the year. You might notice almost everything has changed since the original list. Ah, well.

Regular (Print) books
We are hoping to go to Africa this summer, so the books are Africa-heavy.
January:          James Herriot’s Treasury (finish); Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s farm (finish)
February:        Anna Hibiscus, books 2 and 3 (Africa girl stories)
March:            No. 1 Car-Spotter, book 1 (Africa boy story)
April:               David Livingstone, illustrated version
May:               Anna Hibiscus, book 4 and Dr. Doolittle (if time)
June:              Heidi, if time

Audio Books – as many as we get through from this list. My brilliant friend Sarah really encouraged me by how many books they’ve gotten through by using audio books. Here are some of the ones she recommended.
Beverly Cleary - Runaway Ralph, Motorcycle, Henry and Ribsy
Sarah Plain and Tall and 2 sequels
Boxcar Children
Peter Pan
Sugar Creek Gang, Focus on the Family Radio Drama
Anne of Green Gables
Hank the Cowdog

These books were bumped from the original list for a while.
Narnia, last 2 books 
Mary Poppins, Paddington Bear

What about you? What are your favorite read-aloud books so far this year?

Teaching Conversation Skills

Today’s guest post is from Karen Michelle Graham. I met her at a writer’s conference and when she told me about this technique from her book (about healing her son from autism) I asked her to write a guest post about it.

There are two kinds of children who I think could benefit from this technique: 

  • children in the autism spectrum, especially those with Asperger’s 
  • any child who has a hard time making conversation (one of my sons struggles with this)

We played this “conversation game” with our kids during the holidays and it actually helped them be much more polite in talking with Grandma, getting them to think about asking questions and interacting better.

Here is Karen’s technique, which we called ”The Conversation Game.”

One of the keys to a successful program for my son was teaching him the power of reciprocating language…the give and take of conversation that we take for granted. We started with small manageable units. Here are just a few of the basic steps out of many.

Step 1. We taught our son to answer simple social questions.
(Some prerequisites were taught before this step such as following simple commands, receptively label body parts (head, nose feet, tummy eyes, legs), action verb commands, matching, verbal imitation … to name a few. He progressed to more complicated questions and situations.)

For example:

  • What is your name?
  • How old are you?
  • Do you have any brothers or sisters?
  • What is your dad’s name?
  • What is your mom’s name?
  • What is your address?
  • What is your phone number?

Add you own questions. Come up with at least fifteen.

We prompted my son for the answer. (Fade the prompts as soon as possible.) We taught him in his room, and then had other people ask the same question. Then we made sure he generalized the knowledge by asking the question in diverse locations by various people.

When we taught, “Who loves you?”, we taught him to respond, “Mommy and Daddy.” When he generalized this question, he answered with a long list of people he believed loved him like his sister and therapists. I think this is so sweet.

Come up with rewards when a correct answer is given.
For example: verbal praise, hugs, tickles, balloons, and noisemaker. Be sure to adjust the reward to what means something to your child. When you give verbal praise, be as specific as possible.

Charity’s Note: For our game, because we were eating dinner at the time, we started with the question, “Do you like chicken?” The kids had to make eye contact (instead of the usual mumbling into their laps) and respond politely. (I think we had them say, “Yes, I do,” or “it’s not my favorite.” Something other than, “No, I hate it.”)

Step 2: Simple Statement
We taught my son to respond to a statement with a simple statement of his own.
Therapist: I like Spiderman.
Child: I like Superman.

Charity’s Note: We practiced like this:
Mom: I like chicken.
Child: I like carrots. (or whatever else was on the table they liked.)

Step 3. Statement/Statement/Question

This taught my son to ask a question back to the other person. Here is an example of how this works:
Therapist: I like Spiderman.
Child: I like Superman. Do you like Superman?
(The therapist answers spontaneously. Usually, “yes, he is cool,” Or something equally encouraging.)

When we taught the question piece of the drill, we modeled it. Though some children do not respond to modeling, many will, and it is a good technique.

Charity’s Note: Here’s what we did:
Grandma: Do you like chicken?
Child: Yes, I like chicken. Do you like chicken?
Then they looked at Grandma and waited for the answer.
Next, we modeled a polite answer to an open-ended question and asking a reciprocal question. I think my mom and I did it to each other to show them the example. Then they had a turn.
Grandma: How was your day?
Child: (Gave polite answer, making eye contact.) How was your day?
So many good manners flying about. I think Emily Post would be proud. :)

The above programs are just small examples of the many things we taught our son…it had a powerful effect in jumpstarting his language and propelling him toward more complex conversation skills.
Teaching my son was like building a house… this is just one of the key pieces I loved watching him bloom and grow with.

Karen Michelle Graham is the author of A Life to Rescue: The True Story of a Child Freed from the Bonds of Autism. To order the book or read more (such as Autism, Guilt, & Blame—Autism & Tantrums—Autism & Stress) visit her blog at  www.aLifetoRescue.com.

Do your children struggle with social skills or polite conversation? What did you do to help them learn these skills?

For those who are using this technique for autism therapy, Karen included this example chart to show how to document progress.

Date Teacher
Question / Statement Prompt? Results
11/12 Mom What is your name? w/ prompt 4/5
11/13 Dad What is your name? w/out prompt 5/5

Priorities (and What I Need to Cut Out)

I love to set goals for the new year. This year as I was thinking about goals though, I had to think first about what my priorities were going to be.

Here are the areas I want to be HIGHER priorities for 2013

1. Health – healthier food, slower pace, more sleep, a bit more exercise for Mom. The big one here is healthy dinners though. I’ve made some progress in this during the fall (like, actually cooking dinner) and the kids have been helping as Dinner Buddies (huge help!) but I want to do better about planning a menu and cooking each day. (Which results in less fast food and less money spent as a bonus.)

2. Spiritual Disciplines- I have been reading my Bible some mornings, but I want to be more consistent in this, pray with my kids each night before bed, and work on teaching them how to read their Bibles and actually get something out of it. I also want to work on memorizing a verse for myself each week or so and reviewing old ones somehow.

3. School- It’s time to raise expectations. I’d like to have the kids know what they need to get done each day and, with help when needed, be responsible to complete that work before playing. I’d also like to read more with them in the afternoons.

4. (Also, being nice to my family. No yelling. No annoyed voice. But this is more a matter of the heart than time.)

Here’s the hard part: I have to cut some things out to make room for the kind of life I want.

Activities that need to be LOWER priorities:

1. Computer time – I sit down to “check Facebook” and end up an hour later wondering where the time went . The computer is like a black hole that sucks my time right away.

Many times I’m not goofing off; I’m actually doing profitable things related to the book, blog, or Facebook. The problem is, I’m allowing the computer to distract me from what’s most important.

2. Reading – I love to read, especially researching recent Christian fiction, or interesting writing books, or non-fiction books on whatever topic I’m obsessed with that day. The problem is I can get swept up in a book (or pile of books) and not emerge for hours.

Again, nothing inherently wrong with what I’m reading, it’s that it can take away time from my other priorities, especially time with my husband because I have my nose buried in a book. I am going try to keep a Books to Read list that I can dive into during the summer. Also, I’m going to try to get audio books so I can listen while I’m working in the kitchen.

3. Writing-This was a tough one, but I’ve decided many times over the last six months that writing really isn’t one of my top priorities right now. I hope to write more, but it’s going to be a while. Last year writing was higher on the list, but it’s time for it to move back down.

In order to keep those lower priority items in their place, I have found I have to

Give Myself Boundaries

Computer stays off until 2 o’clock. This assures that I’ll focus on school and home before I let the computer monster get its claws into me. (I don’t know about you, but once I turn it on and start checking, my mind just keeps going back throughout the day, even when there’s no reason to. Do other people have this problem? I think the technical name would be “technology addiction” or something.)

I did find during December though, that if I went a day or so without even turning the computer on, it seemed to lose its hold over me. I sort of forgot about whatever was going on online and got plugged back in to my life. So that’s good.

• Writing confined to 2 hours on Monday nights. Whatever writing/blogging I can get done during that time is what gets done that week.

Listen to audio books in the kitchen. I realized during December that one reason I get on the computer is I’m kinda bored and wanting adult interaction. But listening to the radio or an audio book feeds my brain and makes me happy. I’m quite content to empty the dishes or get dinner started if my brain has something interesting to think about. (I also want to work more on my verse memory during that time.)

Not read too much about writing. I’m trying to cut back on reading blogs about writing because that just sends me straight to plotting a novel, and I don’t have time for that right now!

So far, though I’ve only been working on these things for a few weeks (I sort of started in December), I do have to say life is much more relaxing. I know I’m doing the most important things, and I’m not getting hundreds of ideas online for things I’ll never have time to do anyway!

How about you? What is one thing you want to CUT OUT (or cut back on) in 2013 to make room for the things that are really important to you?

Rhythm of a Year: Holidays

Holidays = Practical life/Service

I almost don’t remember last Christmas because I was so busy editing the book (and getting really, really irritated at all those commas).

This year, I’m trying to focus on my family. I’m hoping to leave the computer off most of the time in December. I might check in on Facebook every now and then, but I don’t expect to post anything else here until January. (Except maybe a pretty picture.)

I feel sure that the world will go on.

Have a wonderful, blessed celebration of our Savior this year. Enjoy your sweet children and families.

See you in 2013!

Here’s a bit on what our “school” looks like in December.

During the holidays (Thanksgiving through New Year’s) we are doing some school trying to keep up with lesson plans. But here’s my secret—I schedule in three or four “holiday” weeks into my calendar at the beginning.  I still count those weeks as school because we are learning, but I don’t schedule regular math/grammar/spelling lessons those weeks. Basically the kids help me with the holidays. Here are some things they
might do.  (We don’t do ALL of these every year. )

Practical Life

  • Plan a meal, help make grocery list, find recipes
  • Help cook one to three dishes
  • Help set the table and make decorations
  • Invite friends who might not have anywhere else
    to go for the holiday over
  • Help clean the house


  • Help pack a box to send with Operation Christmas Child
  • Help pack a box to send to missionaries
  • Shop/wrap presents for less fortunate children
  • Shop/wrap presents for friends/family
  • Make cookies/thank yous for awana leaders


  • Often make crafts of some kind for gifts
  • Wrap presents
  • Decorate tree, make ornaments
  • Sometimes do gingerbread house or other projects with grandparents

Reading/ Math

  • Often read lots of Thanksgiving/Christmas books with family
  • Checkers, chess, chinese checkers, Risk, Candy Land, dominoes, cards are all great for math/logic skills.
  • Scrabble is great for spelling/reading/language skills.
  • Puzzles – a big jigsaw puzzle can be out on the table for a few days with the whole family helping-spatial/math skills.

So, that’s why I have no problem counting those weeks as school. The kids aren’t doing the normal weeks of lessons, but they are learning all those practical lessons that will help them in their homes later.

Also, just a side note, after the holidays when all the new gifts are lying piled about, I get stressed out about all the stuff everywhere. I REALLY like to have a visiting grandparent occupy the kids for a few hours (or a day) while I clean and declutter and get everything all organized again. Then I feel like I can breathe and am ready to start the new year.

Have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones.

My grandpa is the one in the picture playing Chinese checkers with my daughter last year. He lived with us for two months last fall and passed away in the summer. It was a hard, busy time, but I’m so thankful for those two precious extra months with him.


After the holidays are over, I tend to feel the urge to rest.
I like to just cuddle up on the couch with my kids in front of a fire, and read, and if it has snowed, make snow ice cream. My favorite winter was when we kept getting snowed in and everything was cancelled. Lovely.

What we do:

  • Get back into our routine
  • Work on staying up with our weekly lesson plans
  • Readjust if needed, if something’s not working
  • Lots of reading and indoor projects. (ex. History/Science hands-on projects are great now.)
  • My husband’s busy season is Jan-April, so it’s always crazy. I like to try to keep things clean and do Saturday chores so we can focus on school during the week. This year, I plan to cut out a few more things (friend birthday parties, other Saturday activities) because last year was just too busy.

What we don’t do:

  • Go anywhere, other than the YMCA for my sanity (at least once a week)
  • I cut myself some slack on dinner. Things are more relaxed because it’s just me and the kids. We have some nights of pizza in front of the TV on a blanket. I get tired.

This is the season of surviving until Spring. If you’re struggling in January, congratulations! You’re normal.


Family Song: Take Time to Be Holy

This is our current Family Song. I love this line: “Take time to be holy, the world rushes on.” It inspired me to try to do a media fast, with mixed results. I didn’t totally cut out  the radio, but I did better at turning it off and praying or singing or just having quiet thinking time. I realized how much all that noise contributes to stress. Next up: computer time. Ack.

Here’s to “much time in secret with Jesus alone” over the holidays, for all of us.

Take Time to Be Holy
William Longstaff

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

We’re just memorizing the first two stanzas.
For the entire song and melody go here.
For sheet music go here.

In fact, I just have to tell you, I barely even know the names of the notes on the piano, and I can pick out the melody by just using the top notes on the sheet music. I’m trying to learn it enough to play as the family sings. I’m quite excited that I can almost play a song! :)

Peaceful Christmas Gift Pack

This giveaway is now closed.

The winner is Tessa Smith (comment on November 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm). Tessa, congratulations! Email me at Charity@TheHomeschoolExperiment.com with your mailing address please. Thank you all for entering and for the wonderful ideas. May you all have a wonderful and peaceful celebration of Christ’s birth.


I wanted to celebrate God’s goodness to me this year in so many ways–healthy self and children, dear friends, husband who is nice to me even when I don’t deserve it, and this crazy thing of having a book published that people have actually read! And liked! Truly amazing.

When I asked my Facebook friends what I should give away, Liz had the idea of a trip to the Bahamas, and I considered it, but then you’d have to pack and go buy sunscreen and find someone to pick up your mail while you were gone, and it just sounded like such an awful lot of work.

I thought what sounded much more relaxing was a few quiet hours to yourself to drink coffee and eat chocolate and read. And I was pretty sure you were all sick of hearing about the book, but Tasha requested it. So I threw one of those in there as well.

I included a $20 gift card to Target so you can go buy yourself a sweater or a magazine or whatever you want, and also an ornament that says, “Peace,” because that is my prayer for all of us this Christmas–peace in our hearts and homes. (Sorry, I know this is early, but I need to get it sent out to you!)

Just leave a comment to enter. If you want to, leave a comment telling an idea to focus your and your family’s hearts on Christ at Christmas.

Here’s what it will look like assembled.

If you want to knock out some Christmas shopping, just let me know and I’ll send the whole thing to the sister/daughter/friend of your choice.

She’ll be thrilled and you’ll have one less thing to do!  (If you do give it away as a gift, I’ll send you a $20 Target card too, just for being so thoughtful.)

If you want to retweet, or pin, or any other means of spreading the word, enter an extra comment for each thing you do.


GIVEAWAY open to residents of the U.S. ages 18 and older. Ends at midnight Tuesday, November 13th, 2012. Winner chosen at random.

Just leave a comment to enter. If you want, What is one thing you do to help focus your family’s hearts on Christ at Christmas?

{ rest }

Once a month or so, I want to simply share a beautiful picture and words of truth. It is a reminder to all of us to take time and space in this frantic world to take a breath,
drink deeply of God’s goodness, and just rest. It’s okay.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Psalm 100: 4-5