Random Bits of School

Gracie: A LOBSTER just came out of that pitcher and tried to get me!! (it was a pincher bug)

Gracie: Don’t throw out cardboard boxes! They are for the time machine!

Gracie: Mom, you are getting so big! I just love you! (remind me to let her know that it is not complementary when you say it to an adult unless they are very thin and pregnant)

Today we washed windows, played with water guns, copied Psalm 14, worked a little bit in our Math books, visited the library and watched the Drive Thru History episodes about Ancient Greece (available streaming on Netflix). They were good to watch, told a lot about the life of Paul, which ties into what we have listened to in Acts. Also explained a lot of the background to the Odyssey- which we just finished- all from a Christian worldview.  I’ll pretend I’d planned that all along.

More Kid Quotes:

Gracie: When Maggie finishes her book, we can have a MATH party. We could even bake a cake that says 10+3. That would be SO FUN! I’ll go make party hats in case she gets done today.

Gracie: So, Mom, explain to me how God could be before anything. He wasn’t born or created.  I just am having a hard time when I think about it.

Maggie: What part of the world do we live in? How does the sun shine on different parts? DO some places get more sun? Can we watch a movie about that?

Maggie: What keeps our body together? Is it our veins or our bones or our skin?

Baby Annie 002


My Life as a Cookie Sheet

My beloved husband randomly decided to bless me with some matching stainless steel pots and pans. (Ok, so maybe there was a mini meltdown about the lack of a Mothers Day gift involved) Anyway, previously I had inherited all the pots and pans that were here when we married. They were functional, but not pretty or matching. These were beautiful, shiny and new.
I quickly loaded up my old pots and pans into a box for Goodwill, along with anything else I was not using. I kept my cookie sheets. They get a lot of use. They are black, but well loved.
I saw a tip on facebook about getting that burnt blackness off of anything with peroxide and baking soda. My gleaming pots inspired me: I would try to clean the cookie sheets. The first time I tried, after much scrubbing, they only looked slightly different. The next time a little bit more came off. Currently, I can see some of the gleaming surface beneath the burnt places.
That is sorta where my life is right now. Lots of hard work, just starting to see small results. After years spent getting the basic repairs done on our home, we are finally approaching a point where we are making the space fully functional (beautiful is still about 5-10 years out) . Working on getting things organized. The children have made progress in school. I am feeling a little more on par with the whole homemaking/meal planning thing. Layer by layer the gleam is starting to show through.

* as I was reading this to my husband, he added a note in his defense: I was planning on getting you those pots and pans for months. I just failed to mention it.

School Year in Review

So…what HAVE I been doing at home all day with a bunch of children?


Bible: Old Testament timeline

Copywork: Westminster Shorter Catechism, children catechism, cursive writing papers

Math- Calender, money, time, addition facts

Literature: Little House in the big woods unit study

Phonics: Websters Speller, Progressive phonics

Spelling/Writing: Write/dictate to mom a story using 5 spelling words

Vocab: Latin: Word a Day

Friday Coop: Social Studies, Art, PE, Puppets


Bible: Heidlburg catechism, listened to the Matthew-Acts

Math: Horizons workbooks, calender time

Phonics: same, Gracie is working in Pilgrim’s Progress Primer and read some of Tom Sawyer.

Literature: Poetry, the Odyssey

Copywork: Psalms

Writing/Spelling: same

Science: Nature Study, plant identification class online

Grammer: Journey through Grammerland.

Friday Coop: Science, Music, PE, Sewing


Summer plans:

Put away the workbooks. Fill up laundry baskets with books from the library and READ! Library fun days. Garden. Maybe some animal care. Work on organizing our storage areas. Move Emily into her new bedroom.

Through Rough Places

P1060156I spent my early years surrounded by non-verbal autistic children…but I have words.
I have been affluent. I have been homeless. I have seen violence. I have seen the sun rise over African plains. I have been awed by the praiseworthy things of this world, I have been so overcome by the darkness that I wanted to die. I have learned that courage has less to do with feelings and more to do with forgetting yourself and doing the right thing anyway.
I have at times forgotten too much. Tried too hard to be someone else. To erase me and come up with someone more acceptable. It was never what God intended. This is not the garden, or a magical world where unicorns poop rainbows. This is a broken world where the most romantic, adventurous redemption is unfolding. Sometimes there are jagged edges. Sometimes the pieces don’t fit quite right. Parts of the story make us uncomfortable.
A fellow pilgrim wrote recently about finding beauty in the broken places. It really resonated with me. It is from those hard places that I become the most useful to others.
I have a voice. So do you. We each have a unique story that helped shape us into who we are. Each of us tells that Great Story, even in the jagged places.

Today’s Comfort
God’s People Are Comforted

40 “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert[a]
A highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6 The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he[b] said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

9 O Zion,
You who bring good tidings,
Get up into the high mountain;
O Jerusalem,
You who bring good tidings,
Lift up your voice with strength,
Lift it up, be not afraid;
Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

10 Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.
11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.

12 Who has measured the waters[c] in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding?

15 Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,
Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.
17 All nations before Him are as nothing,
And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.

18 To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
19 The workman molds an image,
The goldsmith overspreads it with gold,
And the silversmith casts silver chains.
20 Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution
Chooses a tree that will not rot;
He seeks for himself a skillful workman
To prepare a carved image that will not totter.

21 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
23 He brings the princes to nothing;
He makes the judges of the earth useless.

24 Scarcely shall they be planted,
Scarcely shall they be sown,
Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth,
When He will also blow on them,
And they will wither,
And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.

25 “To whom then will you liken Me,
Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
28 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Faith, Love, and Ataxia

christmas with sgms 023I married the best man I have ever known. At the time we were married, he had a rare genetic disease with a poor prognosis that did not quite fit. Before we were ever serious, I read the worst and thought I was prepared for it. I prayed. I had peace that everything would be ok. Maybe not easy, but- ” apart from the will of our Father in heaven not a hair can fall from our head” ok.

Soon after we were married, we visited my former church to hear a missionary speak. As he prayed for Shane he quoted a portion of scripture that I had always taken for a promise.

It is Isaiah 54. This passage promises children to the barren woman, instructs her to enlarge her house, tells God’s people they will not be ashamed, assures that the storm is over, says that the afflicted one will have a sure foundation, that his children will be taught of the Lord, and the NO weapon formed against you shall prosper.

Shane’s attitude all along has been one of steady faithfulness. God can heal me. God can take me home and give me a new body. His grace is sufficient for me to live with this. In the time we have been married Shane has gone from working part time to working full time. Most days he is very tired, sometimes he falls. He keeps getting up.

In the time since we have been married, the medical landscape has changed. In finding the genetic code for FA, there was a realization of a late onset, less severe version of this disorder that more closely resembles what my husband has experienced.

Five years ago, the best thoughts for treatment were antioxidants and a trial in a foreign country where people were having stem cells injected into their heads. In the last few years, there has been more funding for orphan drugs- drugs for rare disorders that won’t make a lot of money for pharmaceutical companies to pursue research. Right now there are several very promising drugs in trials, backed by solid and current research.  One that will trick the body into making more frataxin, one that will try to overcome the genetic mutation, as well as iron chelation therapy. It is possible that in the next ten years FA could be as treatable as diabetes.

I don’t know what the future holds. I do know who holds the future, and He has ways of doing things that are beyond anything we can ask or imagine.

Isaiah 54

A Perpetual Covenant of Peace

54 “Sing, O barren,
You who have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You who have not labored with child!
For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.
For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.
For the Lord has called you
Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Like a youthful wife when you were refused,”
Says your God.
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
For as I have sworn
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
So have I sworn
That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
10 For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

11 “O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.
12 I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
Your gates of crystal,
And all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
14 In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you.
15 Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.
Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.

16 “Behold, I have created the blacksmith
Who blows the coals in the fire,
Who brings forth an instrument for his work;
And I have created the spoiler to destroy.
17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.

It’s ok the be a moth

The most beautiful woman I ever met had dark, age wrinkled skin. She was dying. Her face glowed. It was like something from another world. Her joy made her the most beautiful creature I have ever encountered.

The girls were on the front porch this morning, watching a fuzzy catepillar. “Will it be a butterfly?” they wonder. “A butterfly or a moth,” their Daddy replies. I think: What’s the difference? Both undergo miraculous transformation, both fly. The girls had a book at some point that outlined the fine differences- but I forget now what they were.

I am a moth. I fly, but it ain’t pretty. I am round and mostly jolly. I am disorganized. My act is rarely together. I appreciate beauty, but fill my world with the ordinary (and clutter). I know women who are more beautiful, skinnier, better educated, more organized, have nicer homes, or even just seem to be better at this life thing.

They are no happier then I am. We all struggle with the same insecurities. We often are on the same quest for the formula for perfection: the right meal plan, best workout, diet, cleaning method, design style- you name it. We are convinced that if we just get everything right, we’ll be________________ (happy, loved,righteous, you fill in the blank).

I realized recently that it is ok to be fat and happy.  If I laugh, tell stories and entertain: people laugh with me, they enjoy my company- but I have not established a deep friendship.  If I smile, listen, and show empathy: people talk to me. Sometimes they share their deepest hurts. If I am preoccupied, worried about what others think, and shy: people are more guarded with me. If I lack friends- it has very little to do with size, and more with my behavior.  The realization that being skinnier will not make me more loved or accepted was freeing. I felt MORE motivated to get up and work out this morning, because it was something I was doing for me, for my health, and not because it will make people like me more. 

There will always be butterflies. People who soar above us and  we look to them because they are especially gifted or self disciplined in some area. Praise God for butterflies!  Mostly though, are the moths- who little by little, day by day, continue steadfastly with what they are given- and in our small dyings-how forth the truly Glorious One.


Today’s Verse:

Collosians 1

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.


Fostering with small children

I am watching the life of a close friend as she is in the throes of fostering her first child. Her love, but beyond that, serious-I’m-digging-my-heels-in-and-not-letting-you-go dedication to this kid is a joy to see. It reminds me what hard work in can be to try to get through to a child who has been through so much.

I had said we were going to take a break from fostering for a while. There are home improvement projects to complete, small children to raise. I am inadequate to meet my own children’s needs and that of a hurting child. 

But then the phone rang…

and I realized, I have an addiction.  Random phone calls offering me more children ( just for babysitting for nowImage) make me happy. Truly engaged with life, just landed in technicolor OZ happy.

I struggle with my failings, my limitations, my imperfections.  In Christ’s strength, I feel like this is one small place in the world I can make a difference- mostly by just being available. I can’t fix anyone, force someone to make good decisions or change pasts. I can tolerate noise, make pb and j,  listen, and offer advice. I can offer a safe place to play and grow. I can try not to be overwhelmed, and I can invent outside projects to keep hands busy.

I’ve talked to the little kiddos about it. Are they ok with sharing Mommy? Would they like it is I said no more extra kids for a while? They are quite content to fill our lives with people. They miss K, and really look forward to seeing her again- especially Millie. They can’t remember a world where Emily wasn’t their big sister.   They’ve taken to getting up earlier in the mornings so that they will be ready when our friend A comes for the day. They love having older friends around to push swings, read books, romp in the grass with, and generally adventure with.

The kids that come…So often the kids we meet have not had a chance to be a carefree little one.  There is healing in a “big kid” building a box city for the first time, or listening to “Goodnight Moon”, or singing a lullaby to our youngest.  It is safe to do those things here, because that’s what we do. The mean age of our household is about 5.

The home improvement projects are slowly getting done. The laundry room and downstairs bathroom are beautiful! The new room for Emily project is coming along well, when it is finished it will be the one magazine worthy room in our house . For now,  A- who has been longing for something to hammer-  is going to build an extra bed frame for a guest staying the weekend.

So yeah, even in our little cabin in the woods, with our handful of children and our many projects…there is always room for one more.

Peter Eats a Dinosaur, Sparkly Dresses, and Grass Houses

Today’s Memories:

Laughing at Gracie’s picture of God commanding Peter “Eat this”. Peter looking dismayed at a lizard inside a sheep inside a dinosaur on a sheet- a la the Old Woman who swallowed a fly.

Annie giggling, even her eyes smile.

A deciding to weed eat the field” ’cause weed eatin’s fun”. A carrying Maggie on his back, her wish is his command.  making faces at the baby. Making me promise not to give him more school work just because he got to the house early. Asking to weed eat instead of play video games.

Millie snuggling me this morning. Millie in her sparkliest dress, pair of jeans, and snow boots. “I ready Mommy!”.A frantic outside search for Millie, only to realize that Millie had gone back inside to make a sandwich. ” I was hungry,” she says with a slight pout and very big eyes.

Maggie, barefoot in a long green dress, making a house out of grass. Maggie watching the ants. Maggie insisting that Math is fun and begging to do more pages.

Today’s Verse: Collosians 1:9-14

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,[c] the forgiveness of sins.


Beautiful Dirt

Today’s Memory: Ashes. Everywhere.

Sometimes I dread the sound of children’s laughter.  Like, last night, when my two year old and four year old got bored with the movie we were watching and went to play, presumably with their dollies, in the living room.

I knew I was in trouble when I heard the peals of laughter. My two year old had emptied the entire ash bucket out on the couch and floor. The living room was shrouded in grey dust.  We stopped the movie, sent children to bed, and swept and swept and swept.  My husband suggested having the kids wash the floor with wet rags in the morning.

The morning light showed a mess even worse then I had remembered going to bed. I swept some more, then got the kids to help me clean the floor with wet rags. This soon turned into a water fight. I mopped, but as the water dried ,the living room is still coated in grey dust. I took a deep breathe and tried to keep in mind a devotional had had read recently on the first 3 verses in Colossians about being thankful for the people in my life.  Anyway- No time to cry over spilled ashes- there was a baby to feed, breakfast dishes to wash, and our friend A was on his way over for school.  And you know what? it is still dirty. and I am ok with it. There was no great epiphany- just a quiet day lived with little people who are being conformed to the image of Christ, and maybe a small realization that dirt grows things.

Today’s verse: Collosians 1:3-4 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints

What we did today:

Review question 1 of Heidlburg Catechism

Listen to Acts: from Stephan to Cornelius

Review Psalm 2 – Gracie and A wrote it out

Math: A-logic problems, G- subtraction flashcards, M workbook


Nature Study: A watched a video on the Aster family and took notes, G and M found a caterpillar and watched it.

chores and play

Links of the day:

Four year old  Maggie uses these two resources to help with reading


and the Websters Speller from donpotter.net