Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Birds & Bees or Flies & Puppies

Maybe I'm missing something here.  I admit that I haven't kept up to speed on the reproductive cycles of insects and animals (maybe my friend Carrie can help me), but it seems like everywhere I turn, the "cycle" is in process!

We haven't had a "girl" dog in years (when I was at home our very fertile Brittany gave birth to something like 108 puppies), but last summer we bought a girl Beagle. 

Apparently somewhere around her 1st birthday, she became a woman.  :-)  Such an intriguing thing for 4 kids to watch.  I had to call my brother, who raises Cocker Spaniels, and see how long this "season" would last, as it is a bit of a distraction...haha!  We can't wait to get Ginger to the country and give her a boyfriend.  Raising animals is a great learning experience for kids.

And then I was outside of the school watching some students on recess when I about had my head taken off by two very intense dragonflies.  Yes, dragonflies will attack humans if they feel the human is a threat to their mating experience.


Later that evening, Ryan called to me from the kitchen, "Mom, there are two flies mating on the ceiling..."  Lovely.  He interrupted them with the flyswatter, and they hit the floor - together - dead.

I just had to get online and do a little research to get some info about insects, and as usually happens when researching anything, I found more information than I actually bargained for. reaffirmed to me once again that no matter what society says, God has a design.  It is intricate and specific, even in insect world!  How have things gotten so messed up?  Why are so many young adults confused about "who" they are regarding their sexual makeup?  Why is the government so set on forcing us to accept what is an abomination to God?  Most of us know the answer, but are we reinforcing these principles to our children?  Are we facing the tough topics with courage and honesty? 
I've been in education (and real life) long enough to know that the most "protected" child is still a target for Satan's wrath.  It doesn't matter whether we live in the Bible Belt or less religious parts of America, the "back 40" or the city, sinful lifestyles are paraded before our children at various times, and Satan will use any means possible to plant a seed in their minds.  
Let's challenge one another to pass on Godly principles with real life application and with the Bible and Science as our foundation.
Now go out and see what's happening in your back yard.  :-)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School!

Excitement is in the air, even in blogland.  America's children are heading back to school.  August has to be the most mixed up emotional month of any of the twelve for me!  Not only does it make me a little sentimental to see my kiddos so rapidly making their way through grade school, but back to school also means my days at home without a 9-5+ commitment are rapidly coming to a close.  :-( 
However, the inner voice of our family is screaming for structure and mental stimulation, and school provides that better than the lazy days of summer.  The challenge of a new school year with new and returning faces in my classroom has a bit of a pull for me, as well.  :-)

So this week will find me painting, filing, sprucing, decorating, and getting ready for August 22nd.  On the home front, I was tickled pink when I pulled out my school supplies tote and found it stocked with most everything we need for this year!  I didn't realize I had so many leftover free or almost free items from last year's back to school specials.  Makes all those early morning Office Max/Office Depot runs well worth it.   Hopefully I'm that lucky when I pull out the school uniform tote. Greg measured Ryan at 5'10" tonight (last year he started school at about 5'3"), so I'm guessing we'll need to do a bit of shopping, but nothing major (crossing my fingers). 

As I peruse the blogs, I smile as I understand anew what a great country we live in.  Mom and dads have the ability to choose the education that they think is best for their child.  I sense the anticipation of homeschooling families as they compile their curriculum for the year, sometimes trying new ideas or techniques, and I understand that only in America is something like this even remotely possible.  I think about the fact that I actually drive into a church facility every morning and teach children in a Christian environment using God's Word as a basis for every subject.  How many moms and dads in intolerant countries would give anything for that privilege?  We are so blessed.  The political climate has had me a bit discouraged and frustrated, but when I remember our freedoms, I have renewed hope. 

Whatever your "back to school" situation, may your week be filled with all the best things of the season.  Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Moving Forward...Backward

Have you ever been at a point in life where you just thought you couldn't go on?  Maybe you were discouraged, overwhelmed, burned out...whatever you want to call it, you didn't think you could take another step. 

I've been there.  In fact, I was there earlier this week.  Let me share.  There's a place in northern Michigan known as Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.  Many of you have been there.  In fact, you're probably laughing as you realize where this is going.  :-)

On Tuesday, I made my first visit to "The Dunes."  My husband and I were on a bit of an anniversary get-away, and I asked him to take me to several destinations in Michigan that I hadn't seen.  This was one of them.  After a nice, filling lunch at Olive Garden in Traverse City (mistake #1), we made our way to the dunes, kicked off our shoes (mistake #2), and began to climb (mistake #3). 

Let me just say that I underestimated this whole climb thing. I am extremely out of shape, and had intended to do some walking/biking before this trip because I knew I would be walking up to 10 miles and biking about 8 miles on Mackinac Island.  My husband has been biking 5 miles about every other day, and has lost some weight in the past few weeks, so he was feeling pretty good (not to mention his already enormous and toned muscles working in his favor).  I didn't want to be left in the dust.  :-) 

Anyway, the time came and I was not exactly physically ready.  I did great with walking and biking, but nothing prepared me for the climb.  About ten steps into it, my legs were burning like fire.  Ten more steps, and I was wishing I hadn't eaten lunch.  Ten more steps, I was kicking myself for not bringing my water bottle.  Greg was at the top of the hill within seconds (or so it seemed).  Other women were trucking past me like I was standing still (maybe I was).  My feet were hot from the scorched sand. I was out of breath, sweating like a pig, and waving Greg on.  I didn't want him to feel obligated to act like he knew me. 

Finally, I was at the point where I knew I couldn't take another step.  I was so upset at myself that I wanted to cry.  Really.  So, I turned around.  I didn't want to give up.  I argued with myself for a minute...or two.  I could see treetops, and the change of position made my aching muscles relax a bit.  I took a step backward (forward), then another, and a few more.  I could see my footprints in the sand, the parking lot was getting further away, and the view was getting more beautiful with each upward, backward motion.  Once I could see above the trees, I pulled out my phone and snapped this:

And then a few more steps backward, yet forward.  My spirits were lifting, I was focused on how far I had come rather than how far I had yet to climb, and the refreshment that came with the view was quite motivating! It didn't even bother me that I was the only person who was literally walking my way up the hill...backwards. 

About that time, a small voice began speaking to me.  He gave me some encouragement relative to life's difficult places, specifically those paths that seem to take it all out of me.  He showed me that when it's too overwhelming to look forward, I can look back.  Back to the place where I started, back across the footprints that mark the distance I've come, back to the promises He's kept, back at the dangers from which He guarded me, and back through each and every experience that has led me to where I am today.  Looking back is sometimes just what we need to keep us moving forward. 

As I progressed slowly up the dune, I caught a glimpse of a large shadow headed my way.  My husband had been to the top, explored everything there was to see, and said, "Let's head back...the view from up there isn't much different than this."  I'll have to admit, there wasn't a bit of argument in me.  :-)

Maybe your journey is taking you through one of
"those" places. 
A place that makes you groan and sweat,
a place that seems dark and never-ending,
a place for which you weren't prepared.
Don't give up...simply turn around and look back.
Look how far you've traveled.
See the obstacles you've overcome.
You can keep moving forward...even if you do it
walking backward!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

15 Things {Day Fifteen}


Young love is fun and exciting,
but love “all grown up” is breathtakingly beautiful.

I can't believe this day is here!  15 years ago this very moment, my husband and I committed ourselves to each other "till death do us part," and every day since that one, we have done our best to honor our word. 

In the last few months, I've had the opportunity to observe some dating couples.  Watching them, I have been reminded of how scary it is to make our biggest decisions when we are seemingly least prepared.  But here's how it works out in my mind (and what I hope to pass on to my children):

Even though most of us make this life-altering decision when we're plenty ignorant and inexperienced, two people (even young ones) who are serving God, walking in complete surrender to Him, and seeking His will in every aspect of their lives will make itTheir marriage will not only survive Satan's toughest darts, it will thrive and be a beautiful example.  Two ignorant and inexperienced kids who aren't serving God?  The odds aren't so good.  Isn't it amazing how God MAKES the difference! 

I won't soon forget the feeling of young love.  The carefree, starry-eyed days of setting up house, learning each other's craziest oddities, adapting to being one rather than doing our own was fun and exciting.

Then real life sets in.  Sickness, new babies, family deaths, miscarriage, sleepless nights, long days, hard work, hormones, arguments, financial stress, you name it...eventually marriage isn't all fun and excitement.  But the beauty of marriage "all grown up" is that real love is birthed through the commitment that strengthens as two walk hand in hand through each of the difficulties life brings their way.  They don't cut and run when the mundane routines get boring, the house is messy, or the spouse puts on fifteen pounds.  They always remember what brought them together.  They always cherish what they are together.  They always look ahead at the opportunities they will embrace together.  And it's breathtakingly beautiful.

Would I jump at the opportunity to go back to my wedding day
and experience the excitement and the fun of young love? 

 Not on your lifeI'll take love "all grown up" - any day of the week.   ;-) 

***More pics at

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

15 Things {Day Fourteen}

The integration of two families is no small feat. 
Working out the kinks takes time.
(excuse the photo quality here...I hate my scanner and didn't feel like using it)
Greg's immediate family in 1997

My immediate family in 1997.

You know all those mother-in-law jokes?  They may be funny, but unfortunately they are indicative of decades of marital turmoil that, in many instances, the combination of two families has caused. 

I'll be honest...the first several years of marriage weren't easy when it came to my in-law relationship.  It wasn't extreme, like some of the stories we hear or read about, but there was definite tension and frustration. 

Greg and I both come from strong, cohesive families.  That is a good thing; however, each of our traditions ran deep, and we found it difficult to make our own traditions while still being integrated into the traditions of our families which span several hundred miles north, south, and west of us.
As those "crisis" times approached throughout the year, it would put us both on edge.

Needless to say, Greg acclimated better than I.  Ultimately, there was a bit of a confrontational moment where it seemed that my in-laws and I were able to express ourselves in a very honest, straightforward way.  And because we were all in it to better our relationship, that moment was the beginning of a new era in our marriage and in our family.

Please don't assume from this that my in-laws and I hated each other or anything like that.  They have always been very good to us and showered us with love.  What it boiled down to was a set of expectations that each of us had, as well as a lack of communication.  I'm sharing our situation with hopes that someone else can receive help. 

Here are my top four suggestions for any person wanting to have a great relationship with their in-laws (of course, this can vary depending on the situation):
  • Find out about your inlaws backgrounds, their family of origin, circumstances they experienced, etc. There are reasons why people have built certain walls or coping mechanisms into their lives. 
  • Learn your inlaws personalities.  When you are baffled by something, go back through the information in suggestion #1.  It will probably help to put things into perspective.
  • If your spouse is not the first child in the family to get married, look at the relationship between the other married children and the parents.  Likely they are building their expectations upon what their experience has been with other children.
  • Don't give up or avoid out of discouragement.  If we love our spouses, we can love the people who bore and nurtured them.  The key is to root all bitterness and selfishness out of our own lives, look for the good, and minimize hurtfulness in every way possible, and proactively build this relationship for the benefit of everyone...including the grandchildren, who desperately need and deserve the love and support of grandparents on both sides of the family.
  • Pray for your inlaws.  Pray that God will protect them, and cause them to grow in Him.  Pray that your relationship will be at its best so that your marriage can be at its best.  Pray that God will change your heart so that you can live in complete harmony.

Here are my top five suggestions for parents who wish to have a great relationship with their inlaw children:

  • Learn as much as you can about your inlaw's family, and experiences they have had in their life.  Don't compete with their family, just allow the beauty of their family and your family to come together to bless your child and the inlaw.
  • Study the personality of your inlaw.  Seek to magnify the strengths, and avoid magnifying the weaknesses.  If there are troubles, tell as few people as possible.  Don't reflect negativity.
  • Avoid the urge to smother.  Watch for signals.  Allow your child and their spouse to make decisions, and give advice when appropriate (normally when asked). 
  • Remember that your child probably didn't choose the person you would have chosen for them, but they are happiest when, with God's direction, they make the decision - especially given that they have their own tastes and preferences, and they are the ones who have to live with the person every single day. 
  • Pray for your inlaw children.  Pray that your child will be the spouse they should be, that their lives will be melted together in a bond that can only be broken through death, and that you will have the relationship with them that will be a blessing to the entire family. 
Over the last 15 years, I have observed (my favorite method of learning) family after family.  Although there are times that the roles are reversed, the husband's family typically comes in 2nd place.  I know that geography, age, etc. can make a difference in that, but I think my observation is fairly accurate.  Girls tend to stay closer to their families than guys.  That said, I think we as women need to be proactive in helping our husbands maintain relationships with their extended families (aunts, uncles, cousins), as well as their immediate families.  We need to encourage phone calls and visits.  We need to talk with them about family memories, deceased family members, childhood highlights.  When we listen, we communicate interest.  That does amazing things for a husband.  :-)

Not too long ago, I asked a teen boy about his father's family.  He confessed that he didn't know much about them, that his mom didn't like his dad's family, and that they rarely had contact.  Another friend confided to me that her family has been struggling because of a sister-in-law who is being controlling about family get-togethers.  It has caused so much friction and stress in the family, and no one really knows how to approach it.  A friend with whom I have been counseling shared recently that one of her struggles has been getting beyond a false accusation by her father-in-law.  The incident happened several years ago, but because of the fragility of the relationship, she has found it difficult to move on.

These are just a few of the types of situations that occur within families today.  I will wrap up this incredibly long post by saying this:

We've all made mistakes.  If you have regrets, do your best to repair the damage and move on.  Be the better person.  Begin now to build solid relationships with your inlaw family, whether it be mother/father-in-law, brother/sister-in-law, son/daughter-in-law.  You will never find joy in anything less.

For the Sake of Freedom...

So I'm sitting in line, waiting for my sweet tea and waffle fries amid the largest patronage I've ever seen at any restaurant.  This place is packed inside and out.  Lines stretch down each of the adjoining roads, and adjacent restaurant parking are loaded...with people walking to Chick fil A! 

Smiles abound.  Without words, a common bond is bringing us out in mass force today.  Not to scream and yell at the one lonely protester waring his rainbow socks and holding a pathetic looking poster that reads, "Jesus had two dads, and he turned out ok," but to support the right of a Christian businessman to speak his beliefs without fear of being a target. 

As I wait only 30 minutes start to finish, I realize that Chick fil A is not only a great place to eat (always knew that), but their employees have the competence to handle massive crowds like this (which includes taking orders out in the street in the bright sun of a 95 degree day) with friendly smiles and cheerful teamwork.  No fast food joint in my home town would have the ability to pull that off, at least from my observation.

As I leave the throngs of happy Chick fil A supporters (who represent a variety of age and ethnicity), I say a prayer for the scrawny, twenty-something protester guy who was holding the pathetic looking blasphemous poster.  Apparently he's already given up...he's nowhere to be seen, the lines of cars haven't shortened, and it looks to be a productive day for the "eat mor chickin" crowd, a huge statement of support for the American way, and from the vibes I was getting inside the store, a non-political, pro-family thumbs up for the Biblical ideal "marriage is between a man and a woman."