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! :)

Family Song: Ten Commandments Song

Many days our house rings with laughter. Other days it is filled with tears. Some days are crazy busy, and some are spent cozily at home. But almost every night before bed, we all gather in my daughter’s room and sing Family Song.

Some nights my husband and I have to interrupt the singing to tell someone to stop jumping off the bunk bed ladder (again). We usually have to tell someone to put away the LEGOs (again). It’s unbelieveable how often we have to make people stop glaring at each other.

You’d think we would have this figured out by now. You’d think the kids would sit down, sweetly hold hands and obediently sing the song. Usually it’s not quite that neat and tidy.

Nevertheless, we do it. Every night. When my husband is out of town traveling, we call him for Family Song. If I am sick, they all come pile (gently) into bed with me. We’ve missed maybe a handful of times over the past three years.

I love this simple tradition. My parents divorced when I was in junior high (remember, the book is fiction, and the parents in the book were made up), so we had very few (pleasant) family traditions.

This simple act is important to me. We are a family.

Every night, no matter who yelled at whom that day, no matter who cried, no matter what has happened, before bed we come together and sing as a family.

If my children remember nothing else from their childhoods, I want them to know that through all the storms of life there are some contstants. Every night the sun sets. And every night, we gather together as a family and sing praise to our God for that day.

Usually we do hymns, and it’s about time we change to one, but for the last three months or so this has been our Family Song.

The Ten Commandments Song
(I can’t seem to find a decent version of the tune online–we learned it from the Classical Conversations CDs.)

These are the words of my God. These are the words of my God.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Not make unto thee any graven image.
Not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,
Honor thy Father and Mother that thy days may be long upon the land the Lord Thy God giveth thee.

These are the words of my God. These are the words of my God.
Thou shalt not kill.
Not commit adultery.
Not steal.
Not bear false witness, against thy neighbor.
Not covet.

These are the words of my God. These are the words of my God.


Of course we all are familiar with the ten commandments, but I find that those basic commands have really reminded my heart of God’s standards. Am I setting God’s day apart and keeping it holy? Am I honoring God first in my heart? Am I being thankful for my blessings or coveting the lives other mothers have?

What simple family traditions do you have?


Happy Birthday America!

Colonial flag cake we made a couple of years ago.

Fun question to ask your family on July 4th: How many of the  original 13 colonies can you name?

If you need a fun family movie to watch over the holiday, might I recommend Pollyanna (the Disney version with Hayley Mills)? I always think about it on the 4th of July because of the bazaar where Pollyanna dresses up as part of the flag and they sing “America the Beautiful.” It also teaches wonderful lessons about being choosing to be “glad” in any circumstance. And wherever does she get that crazy idea? From her father’s study of the Bible as a missionary. I love it.

America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice, for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!



I got this adorable apron from Pier 1 the other day and it’s hanging in my kitchen making me happy. I hardly ever go to Pier 1  because a) they have too much gorgeous stuff, and I end up wanting things I don’t actually need, like cute aprons, and b) it’s about the worst place in the world to go with small children. I really talked to my kids about NOT TOUCHING ANYTHING before we went in, and the older ones did fine, but I put my two-year-old down for like four seconds, and when I turned back around he had grabbed this feather-covered chicken and had white feathers sticking to his grubby little hands and a guilty look on his face. I offered to buy it, but the
guy there kept telling me they could write it off and it was no big deal, and I was very glad because it was, by then, a sort-of hideous $15 half-bald Styrofoam oval of a chicken. And I don’t really need one of those.

Anyway . . .  my apron. Got it. Love it. I’m hoping it will inspire me to make dinner, which is one of my goals for the rest of the year. I didn’t actually make dinner much last
year, and I think it would be a fabulous new hobby! My husband says he supports
the idea.

I’ve been working on the book like a crazy person, but there was a brief two-week window where there wasn’t anything I could do, so I was just waiting (which I’m not so good at), and I made gluten-free chicken-pot pie and let me tell you, it was delicious. I even served it on actual plates.  I took pictures. Of dinner. On plates. See,
don’t you feel better about your own homemaking skills?

I’ve had a thousand blessings a day around here lately, what with books being published, children turning six and eight (gasp!), prayers being answered, and plum trees bursting into bloom in the sunshine.  I’ve been writing down lists upon lists of
answered prayers and blessings. It’s all very exciting, and I’m enjoying it immensely
(Except for figuring out Facebook. That, not so much.), and thrilled at what God
has done and excited to see what He’s going to do with this book. But also, I’m
looking forward to having a few less things on my list. What’s been ignored a
lot lately is the heart of my home. I’ve been so busy, typing my little fingers
to the bone, that I’ve been blocking out all the non-essentials. Dishes, for one.




We’ve been listening to On the Shores of Silver Lake on CD, and I haven’t enjoyed it as much as the
other books. I kept feeling oddly unsettled, with that Ingalls family packing up their belongings and taking the train out West, leaving their sweet, cozy home on Plum Creek so Pa could work with the railroad. It didn’t feel right. I missed their home. I didn’t know where they would end up. Ma didn’t really like
the idea, but she went. It just seemed all wrong. I can’t remember what happens
at the end of the book, but tonight the chapter we listened to was when they
got to move into the surveyor’s house for the winter. It was a good, snug,
board house with supplies and even a trundle bed for Grace.  And, in this chapter, everything was right again. The family was together, settled, with peaches and saltines for dessert on their red-checked tablecloth, and Ma rocking idly in the rocking chair after
supper. For the winter at least, they were home.

Even in the midst of math clutter and play-doh placemats, they're beautiful, aren't they?

That chapter changed the tone of the book—to have a warm home and a contented mother. I feel better hearing that, and Laura felt better living it. So, I’m eager to get back there myself, to the heart of my home.  I’m humbled and grateful that God
and my husband were in cahoots to help me get this book done, so thankful for
all the friends who helped it happen, and amazed at how God has carried this
plan along. I’m looking forward to promoting the book this summer.  But I’m also looking forward to wearing my cute apron and making dinner.

For now though, despite the busyness, I am so incredibly blessed. I can kiss my soft-cheeked children, get tears in my eyes at how they’ve grown, feel my heart dance every time I see snowy blossoms gracing the dining room table,
and rest in the beauty of home.


Family Song right now is How Firm a Foundation, verses 1 & 3. Love this video of friends in France with a new church and it’s on there.

How Firm A Foundation
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.”


Chapter Book Review: Little House on the Prairie / Family Song

This time around I’m not actually reading the book. We listen to the audio book on CD while snuggling in Mom & Dad’s big bed before the kids to go their own beds.

Last night we started The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My son sort of remembers this from a few years ago, but it’s all new to my five-year-old.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books are possibly my favorite chapter books for children. The first is Little House in the Big Woods, and the second is Little House on the Prairie. Either one of those books would be good choices for an introduction to Wilder.

These books have lots of adventure–panthers, bears, wolves, trips in a covered wagon, Indian visitors–told through the eyes of a little girl and steeped in America’s history. Don’t be afraid to skip over some of the “boring” parts — the long descriptive passages – and get back to the story. (Those parts are interesting for historical purposes, but probably not to a five-year-old.) Also, you may need to edit some parts of Ma’s reaction to the Indians. You could just cut some out or, if your children are old enough, talk about her attitude and why she was afraid and how the Indians might have been just as afraid of the white people.

The other reason I think these are great books for children is they teach courage, gratefulness, and respect in a way that many modern books do not.

Family Song

Each night we sing a hymn or song together as a family, usually just the first one or two verses. The kids do their best and we all learn it together. After a few months we switch. Our Family Song right now is “Trust and Obey.”

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey
No there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
Than to trust and obey

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.