Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy St. Nicholas Day

Today is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas of Myra, and these are some of the ways we celebrated today! The kids layed out their shoes by the fire place and left St. Nicholas an apple, carrots for his horse :)


We have been reading books for a couple weeks that I have gotten from the library (many books:) but here are a few that we liked! I heart inter-library loans!
The kids love the different history and legends that are written. I have used so many great blogs as resources for lists!
Here were their shoes to discover in the morning!! They were all so excited (of course) and shared their stories of St. Nicholas before we headed to church. (Niky was at a neighbor's birthday sleep over:)We decided to have a brunch after church with Steve's parents to celebrate. We made strawberry blintzes and read some of the books cuddled on the couch. Allie set the table for me and Steve put a picture of St. Nicholas on everyone's plate. Shaye made our dessert...
Kerry helped me with an idea and the kids responded SO wonderfully! I told them that they were to secretly help out someone in our family and then they had to place the St. Nicholas card where they gave sacrificially. I think EVERY bed was made by dinner time and even the trash taken out by my four year old! Seth even took half the rice krispy treats to a neighbor with a note. They LOVE giving! We may be inerrantly sinful, but we love responding to our Lord! I really needed to see this!

We got to help a family we love this weekend that just naturally gives to others. Then, they were all given monetary gifts today for Christmas by their grandparents...Steve and I were challenged that we need to adopt a family or a need to take care of howEVER we could. We had a family meeting and decided to help a family that has been dealing with cancer attacking this family's father and ALL that that entails. A local group in our town is collecting money for their Christmas and we decided to give to them. This really has nothing to do with US! I see it as, it really has to do with helping this family. We GET to give!!! Two days ago, we could NOT have! The whole spirit of St. Nicholas got to play out in many ways today. SO thankful!

What started as maybe a lesson in church history or Anglican tradition ended in seeing how God was truly meeting our need so that we could look OUTSIDE ourselves!

Emmanuel, God WITH us!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

First Week of Advent Comes to a Close

It has been a great first week of Advent.

We unpacked some Christmas decorations last Sunday...the girls were SO anxious to get started. I walked into the living room at one point and saw my cute hubby putting together an artificial tree that we have borrowed from my inlaws the past couple years...he had super glue and my hair dryer, trying to piece it back together... Once he got the top on and saw that the lights were not working he threw it all back into the box. Poor guy! He tries so hard for us!! On Monday I took the kids to BSF and Steve and Shaye went and got us all a tree! Shaye was so proud to pick it out and kept saying...This is the best Christmas tree ever! Its finally decorated!

I explained to the kids how I wanted Advent to be focused and asked what past Advent traditions they wanted to use to walk that out. The Jesse Tree was a must to them...we are hit or miss on a daily basis, but overall this week, we have had some great conversations of Jesus being chosen from the beginning of time! Many of the ornaments are ones that Nik made when he was 8, so he is a tad emotionally connected to them. It is neat to be going over it again and see how each of them has grown in scripture over the past couple years and how they get certain aspects of theology on a slightly deeper level than before. I just don't think you can overdo the Jesse Tree. I have found different sites (bought that one a couple years back) and books that are great also, but for some reason I keep going back to this one and use it every year!

Also, they wanted to start Jotham's Journey again. This is a series of books we had started about 4 or 5 years ago. The kids are all at different stages now, so the girls (7 & almost 5) will start to appreciate them like the boys do! They always beg for more to be read! I love ending a storytime like that!! During this reading we light our advent candles, their other favorite part :)

I mentioned also to the kids that I wanted to focus on Advent music/hymns this month, instead of just the typical Christmas music. Nik took it upon himself to pick a hymn each day with a book he got last year for St. Nicholas Day. Because of those little lessons, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear was ruined for me because the author believes all roads lead to Jesus...sigh...we did get introduced to the "O Antiphons" though and cannot wait to discover those more, very interesting!! I also was sent these two devotionals. One is from Our Grace Journey, a blog that I have used for different studies before. The other one is from an AMiA church in Chapel Hill, NC.

Mentally I feel like I am IN Advent...which is NO small feat for me and my brain! I feel focused and able to think outside my homeschool mental box (something God is trying to grow in me, patiently). I am loving the revelations that I am getting regarding Advent and the traditions, I just love the depth of our Creator!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Third Annual Advent Carnival

Kerry over at A Ten O'Clock Scholar is hosting again the Anglican Advent Carnival! It has so helped me fascilitate and learn the liturgy of Advent the past couple years. Please go over and read all the great posts about how others prepare their hearts for Advent.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent

Stir us up, O Lord, to make ready for your only-begotten Son. May we be able to serve you with purity of soul through the coming of him who lives and reigns.


The first Sunday in Advent is November 29th this year. I think every year I wonder how quickly it got here. Some years I don't feel like I was paying attention, others, I felt so crazed that it was over before I caught up. This year I feel somewhat cognizant of what is actually going on around me. This does not mean I am planned all the way through Advent or any other sort of foolishness. But, I am ready to prepare my heart for Advent. And I guess that is what it is about! Because, if I am ready, then, I am somewhat prepared to walk my children through it also!

I went back and looked at different things we have done over the years. So much we have learned as a family since then. But this week I discovered this blog. It brought to my heart a few things...one, it is not Christmas until December 25th, no matter what sale's ads tell you! I SO understand the anticipation and longing to make this season seem longer than it is and to LAST longer than it does. But when you follow the calendar of Advent, Christmastide and Epiphany, it really does last longer than we think! So much depth to this season that I have missed before, even growing up in the church. I just love how the author of this post expresses that, even just through the music alone! Its about the anticipation, we are SUPPOSED to feel that way! But anticipation of WHAT?!? I have understood the answer to that question for years, but I feel I finally *get it* this year on a deeper level. But, thats how God's word works, ever growing inside of us.
Another thing it brought to my heart was: to give understanding of the anticipation that the kids feel.
I am typically not anti-consumerism (in general), but the more I start to get this on a spiritual level, the more I see how it totally steals. It steals from our joy, our anticipation, our true happiness, all of it (if we are really honest with ourselves). Of course we will give gifts this year, but I want my children to understand *why* they feel those butterflies in their bellies. Its, dare I say, God ordained, to point back to Him! They're all signs to point back to the One who it is all about! Emmanual...God with us!

I do not get music the way Jennifer Miller gets music, but I understand what she is trying to express and communicate. Advent. Adventus. Ecce advenit Dominator Dominus. Behold, the Lord, the Ruler, is come. Advent is VERY different than Christmas, and I feel like that is what I am finally understanding. I feel with the traditions we have set up the past couple years, we have built the form of the spiritual truths that God wants to communicate to us this season.
It will help (hopefully) make sense because of these traditions we have used in the past! I have such a deeper anticipation even in my own heart! I am so excited to be able to communicate this with the kids and help them put meaning to that anticipation that they feel. Some of this revelation I wonder why I had not seen, not only have you come Lord, you are so patient as well! Help us look to you, Emmanual, God WITH us!

Confessions of an ESFP

Ok, most of my family and close friends know I hate (HATE) personality tests. The first time I took the Myers-Briggs (I refuse to link that...you can google it on your own:) test in 92ish, I was on staff with Youth With A Mission and we took it so we could learn how to work together. I thought it was so dumb. I have no idea why, but I remember our Director saying, your personality type hates to take these tests. That sent me over the edge!

My husband is now working toward getting ordained as a Deacon with Anglican Missions in America (AMiA) and we had to do a marriage assessment for that. Of course that entailed 5 personality tests, no joke. One was even a Spiritual Gifts test, all it really tested was my cynicism, which I am sure my Myers-Briggs fully explains:) Anyways, I have to say...I think I learned something...I don't know who Myers or Briggs are, or how they even came up with all those questions, but it helped me. Well, it helped part of me:)

My personality type was/is E (extrovert) S (sensory) F (feeling) P (perceiving). Henry is almost the same except for the end which his is J (judging). Mine is supposably *the performer*, which maybe explained me at 15, but not really now. What it did help with is...homeschooling.

What it explained to me is that I like things open ended, not structured (though my head likes to think I want to be structured), want to consider ALL possibilities, nothing set in stone because of unknown variables, flexible, likes adventure, takes risks, etc. This explains me to a T! Its actually what drives my poor hubby crazy. I even yell at him for writing in his calendar in ink, cause something might change! I NEVER write on ANY calendar in ink...its forbidden!

Link to homeschooling with four children, which really needs to be scheduled, organized (times 4), time slotted, written in ink, goal oriented, big picture minded===STRESS. And not just any ol' stress, MY stress! Something that our counselor that was in charge of giving and interpreting all of this said, was, you need to mesh your personality type with homeschooling four children. You need to lower your stress.

No duh! was what I was thinking! Thats the only thing I KNEW walking in there! It actually had been my heart's cry!

So, now I at least feel like I have a mission. I need to have a schedule that serves my children to the fullest, but doesn't stress me out and HELPS me to serve them. I am going to work on that over Advent as we take a break from the rigorous schedule that we usually are working on. I need to also trust God in this. I need to see it as a tool and not *who* I am specifically (my type wouldn't allow that anyway:).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Simplicity of the Gospel

This is the last week of Term One of this year! We are finishing off books, ending units, preparing for Thanksgiving and Advent…exciting and exhausting all at once. Yet, this was the hardest term for me. Which seems strange, since this is our seventh year of home schooling, so it should be getting easier, not harder right?

God is taking me to the END of me…all those *great* Christian clich├ęs we often quote: ‘more of Him, less of us’, ‘Him increase while we decrease’, ‘in our weakness He is strong’ (ok, that one is really scripture)…you get my point. Well, if you have ever truly fleshed that out…you don’t really pray those when you are IN it…you mostly start saying, “OH GOD! HELP!” Which I suppose is His point! Nevertheless, the process is so very valuable, and yet excruciating all at the same time. And even more important: eternal.

Then tonight, I came across this quote in my BSF study notes on John 6: “In order to recognize and appreciate a supernatural work of God, it is first necessary to recognize its impossibility on a human level.” Which, quite honestly, makes me cuss every time…not kidding.

Home schooling, obviously has been easy for me to handle until this point. I have made it work, had fun, learned the Charlotte Mason method, learned about my children, enjoyed my children. Then this year (the most organized I have ever started), cannot make it work, yell more than I want to, cuss out Charlotte Mason and not enjoying my children like I want and I don’t even want to know what they thought of me the past couple weeks.

And, yet, its not even really all about ME…I can so make every hard time and/or Bible lesson about me, about how I am changing, about how I am becoming a moldable vessel to him, about my fruit, about how THIS scripture spoke to ME, etc, etc.

The real question remains:
What about my homeschooling reveals the Glory of God?
Am I focusing on the food that is perishable, instead of the food that is imperishable?
“Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to
eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father
has set his seal.” John 6:27

What does Jesus say that this imperishable food is?? Jesus answers some of the 5000 that just ate the miraculous ‘3 loaves, 2 fish’ meal (they just experienced a miracle, a sign of who He is, and MISSED the whole point) : verse 29: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.

That’s it??? No steps? Just believe? Are you sure? It’s not harder? more complicated?

Lord forgive me of my UNbelief.
I am t.r.y.i.n.g. to make sure school is enjoyable, not scarring, creates a love of learning and knowledge, builds good habits, is structured, provides lessons of character building. On and on and on and on I could go. Efforts toward food that perishes;
He says…BELIEVE in the one who was sent.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Inaugural National Running Day~June 3

I was looking for a race to do in Maryland while we will be visiting family there and I found this article on Active.com ! I even ran 5 miles this morning without even knowing, how exciting!! Especially, it is not like me to get up and run early...a habit which I am trying to instill in my life! Here is the official Running Day website!