Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotion Week Three

This week you will need: 
Day Fourteen: ingredients for Dole Whip

Day Fifteen: Copies of the coloring page + colored pencils, crayons, markers, or watercolor paints

Day Sixteen: Flashlight

Day Seventeen: Coke, Mentos

Day Eighteen: Copies of the coloring page + coloring supplies


Day Thirteen: Monday: Love Your Enemies

Read Luke 6:27-36

OR

Jesus The Teacher, p.164-165 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Does Jesus’s command sound foolish to you?

– What would happen if Christians embraced the foolishness of the Gospel?

– Do you need to work on showing love to those you disagree with? With those who despise you? With those who curse you? With those who wish to see you fail? With those with different political opinions than you?

Activity:

– Role Playing: Sometimes it is helpful to work out scenarios and what we should do so when we encounter something similar, we know better how to respond. Keeping the words of Jesus in mind, how should the following scenarios play out?

• Your friend comes to visit. When they leave, you notice your new video game is missing. What should you do?

• A kid is talking bad about you on the playground. What should you do?

• Your brother takes your toy without asking and breaks it. What should you do?

• Your Facebook friend comments on your post about politics and calls you names. What should you do?

Make up other scenarios to fit your family and your child. Help talk them through the scenarios and what Jesus would have us do.

Day Fourteen: Tuesday: Jesus Cleanses The Temple

Read John 2:13-22

Discussion:

– Why was Jesus upset to find people selling animals and changing money in the temple?

– This passage is a fulfillment of prophesy. Why would that be important for the Jewish people? Why would it be important to us?

– Do we see people doing something similar in a modern context?

– Does Jesus sound a little bit crazy here?

– Did the passage of time make more sense out of his words?

Activity:

– Make a Whip! While my initial thought was to make an actual Indiana Jones style whip, with my crazy boys, I thought better of it. Less whelps on them all to explain later. However, there is a Pin on Pinterest for making a Paracord whip if you are feeling adventurous. We’re making Dole Whips. Because I’m a weanie. And I like food.

You’ll need 5 oz. almond milk, 5 oz. coconut milk, ½ cup pineapple juice, 2 ½ cups frozen pineapple chunks, sweetener of choice (honey for us). Blend it all in your blender. Enjoy! If you made paracord whips instead, Run!

Day Fifteen: Wednesday: Nicodemas

Read John 3:1-15

Discussion:

– Why was Nicodemas confused about being born again?

– Do you think those outside of our faith find this confusing, as well?

– How do physical things we do in our lives and church mirror eternal truths?

Activity:

– Jesus & Nicodemas Coloring Page (Remember to display the finished art with the rest of your Lenten artwork!)


Day Sixteen: Thursday: God Loves Us

Read John 3:16-21

Discussion:

– Have you ever memorized John 3:16? Have you ever looked closely at the verse that follow?

– Why would wicked people not want the light?

– Do you think it is important to let people into our lives to see what our lives really look like?

– What would you say living in the light looks like?

Activity:

– Listen to the song “Oh How He Loves Us”.

– Find the Light hide and seek. You’ll need it to be relatively dark. You can play as a group if you have smaller children. Grab a flashlight. One person turns on the flashlight and hides. The others look for that person, using the light as a guide to find them. Alternatively, you can have a flashlight show in your living room. Turn off all the lights, grab some flashlights, turn on some music about God’s love for us, and let the lights dance across the ceiling.

Day Seventeen: Friday: The Woman At The Well

Read John 4:7-30

Discussion:

– What does Jesus talking to a Samaritan show us?

– What is this living water?

– Why did the woman think Jesus was a prophet?

Activity:

– Mentos & Coke: This one is going to be messy. Grab a coke, or a Sprite if you want the water look, drop in a mento, run. Laugh. Be sticky. The kids will love seeing the “living water”!

Day Eighteen: Saturday: The Centurion’s Servant

Read Luke 7:2-10

Discussion:

– What faith did the Centurion show?

– Did he also show humility?

– Do we have faith like this? That a word can make us well? Heal our hurt? Our brokenness? Our problems?

Activity:

– Centurion Soldier Coloring Page (make sure you hang this finished work up with the rest of the Lenten art!)

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotion Week Two 

Needs This Week:  
Day Seven: blindfold, cups, three drinks

Day Twelve: black construction paper, white school glue, salt, watercolor paint and paintbrushes


Day Seven : Monday: Water To Wine

Read John 2:1-11

Discussion:  

– What do you think was going through the minds of the servants as the collected the water?

– Was the wine Jesus made good?

– Why do you think Jesus told his mother, “My time has not yet come.”?

Activity:

– Taste Test Time! Gather three liquids that you drink. Please don’t get anything gross. I mean, I guess if you have a household of preteen boys, sure, that might work. You’ll also need a blindfold! Each person takes turns blindfolded and tasting the three drinks and guessing what is in the cup. Could the guests have mistaken water for wine? If you want to make it easy for younger kids, choose drinks that are more different- water, juice, milk. If you want it to be more difficult, choose similar drinks- orange juice, mango juice, grapefruit juice or Pepsi, Coke, RC Cola or cow milk, almond milk, coconut milk. Parents- participate! It is fun for kids to watch parents play, too.

Day Eight: Tuesday: Jesus Heals a Leper

Read Luke 5:12-16

Discussion:  

– What is leprosy?

– In Hebrew culture, lepers were considered unclean. It was part of the ceremonial law that Jewish people could not touch lepers. It kept them from spreading disease. Yet, here, we seek Jesus reaching out his hand and touching the unclean. Discuss the significance of that act.

Activity:

– Let’s Put On a Play! Cast the rolls in the story. Jesus, Leper, Priest. Act out the story. With younger kids, you may need to narrate as they act.

Day Nine: Wednesday: Through The Roof

Read Luke 5:17-26

Discussion: 

– What do you think the paralytic man felt when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.”?

– Why would that statement anger the church leaders?

– Which is easier, healing us of our bent nature or healing our bodies?

– Talk about the role of the paralytic man’s friends. Would the man have the ability to even get to Jesus without these people?

Activity:

– Story Time Yoga: We’re just going to move our bodies with the story. Participate or just read and instruct.

Start lying flat on your back, arms and legs extended. You’re a paralytic.

Your friends are lowering you down to Jesus. Reach both arms and legs straight up. Flail them around like you’re falling, if you wish.

You’re on the floor in front of Jesus. Lay flat on your back, arms and legs extended.

Put your hands in prayer position as you hope Jesus heals you.

Jesus says, “You’re sins are forgiven!” Touch your heart, clap your hands, shout “Yay!” But you’re still lying flat on your back.

Reach to the left with your arms as the church leaders ask “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Reach all the way to the right with your arms as Jesus answers, “Which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven or rise and walk?”

Return your hands to prayer position.

Jesus says to you, “Rise…” you stand up in your spot.

Lean down and touch your toes. “Take up your mat.”

Stand back up and step forward with one leg. “And walk!”

Jump up and down and glorify God!

Day Ten: Thursday: Healing on The Sabbath

Read Mark 3:1-6

Discussion:  

– Have you ever thought about the laws concerning the Sabbath and how we can honor them in a modern context?

– Why do you think none of the church leaders spoke up before Jesus healed the man?

– Why would the church leaders want to destroy Jesus?

Activity:

– Pharisee May I? Game: This is similar to Mother May I, but a little different. One person is the Pharisee. Everyone tries to get from the start line, to the finish line, where the Pharisee is. They ask a question, “Pharisee May I take 4 steps toward you?” If the Pharisee answers, no one moves. If the Pharisee says nothing, take the steps. If you forget to ask the Pharisee before moving, go back to the beginning. Encourage the Pharisee to sometimes answer and sometimes not answer.

Day Eleven: Friday: The Beatitudes

Read Matthew 5:2-12

OR

Jesus The Teacher p.160-161 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Have you ever heard the word paradox? (If not, you can explain it to them.)

– What other paradoxes do we find in Scripture?

– Does this make Christianity untrue?

– Which line from the Beatitudes spoke to you most?

Activity

– Word Art: Make word art for the word Blessed. You can write it in rocks outside. You can make the word from a pile of laundry. You can write it on a piece of paper. You can make the word out of Legos. Bonus: If you can combine paradox in the art, like writing “blessed” in a mess your kids made or making it out of dirty dishes.

Day Twelve: Saturday: Salt & Light

Read Matthew 5:13-16

                       

Discussion:

– Why would salt be such an important concept in those days? (Hint: Lack of refrigeration)

– Are you a city on a hill in your community?

– Is showing your light the same as bragging about your good deeds?

Activity:

– Salt and Light Painting: You’ll need white school glue, black construction paper, salt, and watercolor paints. With the glue, make a simple drawing that represents light. It can be a lightbulb, a candle, a flame, a fire, a window, the sun- whatever light object of the child’s choice. Once you have your object drawn in glue (if you want, you can chalk draw it on the paper and then trace over it with the glue), sprinkle salt over the entire thing. Pour off excess salt. Wait a couple minutes for this to dry. Don’t want to paint in wet glue. Once it is dry, take watercolor paints. Wet your brush, mix your color, and simply touch the brush to the salt. The salt will soak up the color from the brush. Once your art is complete, allow it to dry and display it with your Lenten artwork.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, With The Kids

Homeschool Student Planners

One thing I implemented this year in our homeschool that has helped tremendously is the use of personal planners for each child. Originally, I had planned for only the older three to use the planners, but my Kindergartener has begged to get in on the system, as well. So he has a modified version, as well. I will absolutely continue this because it has worked so beautifully in helping my kids be more independent and responsible for their own schooling.  


I fill them out on a week by week basis. I look at my calendar and decide how heavy of a work week they are going to have. For example, my daughter does Meals on Wheels with The Pastor every other Monday. She has light work loads those days to accommodate her volunteer activities. They also volunteer once a month at a local Children’s Home, so those that are helping with that will be given a slightly lighter work load that day, as well. I find that looking at only a week at a time lets me set very reasonable expectations and they are able to achieve what is planned out for them. Planning further in advance always leads to me over planning and then they feel like they failed when they just can’t get it all done. I want them to succeed, so I make every opportunity for them to do so.


For each day of the week, I write a checklist in their planner. Several of the items are group activities, several are independent activities. I have to guide them a little more when introducing a new curriculum, but once they get the hang of something, they can really take over themselves. We do Bible, history, Science, and geography as a group. I actually have two groups running in my house right now. I have the older grammar school kids and the Kindergarteners. My Kindergarteners do Bible, Reading, and Phonics together. They have very little independent work, so I plan for that. 

I use the weekend spots to write in a weekly checklist. Now, I have been doing chores here, but if we had more computers and I didn’t have to schedule out their computer time so much, I would add much of their daily work into a weekly list. I don’t necessarily care when it is done, as long as they are doing the work. A weekly list would allow for more flexibility for them, but is really impossible with our current computer situation. (I have 4 kids sharing 1 computer.) Right now, I add their chores onto that list with the boxes for the number of times I expect them to do that chore. The chores rotate based on the week’s schedule and the season. They also rotate depending on the attitude of the kid or what they have been doing lately. (Boys that keep having “accidents” on the floor around the toilet get the chore of cleaning the bathroom floors and toilets.)


I have also been keeping their attendance in their own planners. I simply highlight the days on the monthly view that they had school. Yes, this means that I am keeping up with it in multiple places, but it has given them a sense of accomplishment and they can look and see when they had a heavy month and when they had a light month. Next year, I plan to get better planners to be able to expand this system. Right now, I just have the small, cheap, student planners from WalMart, and while they serve our purposes, they are small and there is more I think I could do with this system. (Keeping a log of books to read or books read, keeping a log of people they write letters to with addresses, habit tracking for them, etc.) A bullet journal might work well, but I think the planner format is easier for them to understand. I’m using a bullet journal style for my oldest Kindergartener right now. The simplicity is working for him, but I don’t have much to put in for him.

I’m really glad I decided to give this a try. I wasn’t too sure at first it would be something worth sticking to. Filling out 4 planners at the beginning of each week doesn’t sound like an easy task. But it really doesn’t take too much time. Just half an hour or so each Sunday looking at the week and plugging in their lists. And the time I save in their being independent is so much more. Emery (7) quickly saw how he could check off all his independent work before we even started school in the morning. He is routinely done with school before noon. Imogene (10) dawdles more and as a result, she is usually “doing school” until 4 or 5. She doesn’t complain about it, she can see what she needs to do. She just prefers a relaxed paced and is okay with it taking longer. And in the end, both of those approaches are fine. They are both learning and progressing and getting their work done. And they are happier having the freedom to do things their way in their time.

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Ask LJ: Sewing Beginners

Sewing questions! I get a lot of them. So for those too timid to ask, benefit from the asking of others.

Dear LJ,

I want to start sewing but I don’t know what kind of machine to buy.

In The Market

Dear In The Market,

Most people start off with a cheapie machine. And that is totally fine. That is where I started, too. You don’t want to throw down $600 on a machine for a craft you don’t even know you’ll like. It is perfectly reasonable to start cheap.

Now, cheap machines tend to be snobby about thread and fabric. You are not going to want to sew a bunch of fleece or gauze on a cheapie machine. You want good quality quilting fabric. And you want good quality thread. Cheap machine + cheap thread = disaster. I’m saving you some frustration up front. Just go with good thread from the start. (I use Gutterman.)  And I’m not saying you have to buy designer fabric, but steer clear of anything with a loose weave for now.

I also recommend Brother over Singer. I started with Singer. So many problems. Easily overwhelmed is how I would describe that machine. People have much better luck with cheapie Brothers than cheapie Singers. Just my experience.

As far as what features you want, well, kind of up to you. Really, you NEED a straight stitch. You could USE a zig-zag and one step button hole. Anything beyond that is just fluff. 99% of my sewing is just a straight stitch.

I now sew with a Babylock sewing machine. It is dreamy. I have the now discontinued Crafter’s Choice model. I love it. I upgraded after about a year of sewing on my cheapie. When I realized this was going to be something I did on a regular basis.

LJ

DSCN4888

Dear LJ,

What project should I try first?

Eager To Begin

Dear Eager To Begin,

There are dozens of projects to start with! Pick something you want to make. And don’t start with a gift. Too much pressure. Here are some ideas:

Pillowcase Dress

Pillowcase

Twirly Skirt

Burp Cloths

Napkins

Envelope Throw Pillow Cover

Apron

Personally, my first project was a throw pillow. When I revisited sewing as an adult, I started with a pillowcase dress. Just pick something you want to make. Check out Pinterest and get going!

LJ

(One of my very first projects.)

Dear LJ,

Should I use a pattern or what?

Paper?

Dear Paper?,

Some people love patterns. I am not one of those people. I prefer to follow tutorials or draft my own patterns. I do use patterns on occasion. I have friends that only sew using patterns. Really, you are just going to have to try it and see what you think.

LJ

IMGP0274

Dear LJ,

I’m nervous about ruining the fabric. How do I do this?

Ready To Cut

Dear Ready To Cut,

Fear of the first cut is common! I still have that feeling at times with certain fabrics or projects. You just have to dive in and go for it. Measure twice. Then go!

LJ

Dear LJ,

Do I need a serger?

Edgy

Dear Edgy,

Sergers are overrated. I might have some folks disagree with me on that. I rarely use mine. I have a Babylock Lauren serger and it just sits around for the most part. I sometimes just use it because it is there and I feel obligated to use it. So, no, in my opinion, you do not need a serger.

LJ

Leave any other sewing questions in the comments. This post contains affiliate links.

Posted in Out Of My Head, With The Kids

Ask LJ: Toddler Advice

Dear LJ,

My toddler keeps knocking things off the shelves in the store! How do I act?

Frustrated Mum

IMGP3001Frustrated Mum,

Is there any chance the toddler is not yours? Not your toddler, you just thank the Lord that today is not your day to deal with that. And smile! Bystanders of toddler tantrums should always smile at mom and dad!

The child is yours? Oh. Can you pretend they aren’t? Just kidding. Though, isn’t that where we all go?

Having raised 4 toddlers already, working on the fifth now, with one more to go, I’ll give you my not so expert advice since in all my toddler raising days I have never raised YOUR specific toddler. Unfortunately, there is likely no one size fits all approach, so you, as the presiding expert on raising YOUR toddler will just have to do what feels right for you.

Option 1: Tie that sucker down. I don’t mean it mean. Sure they want to walk. But the buggy can be your friend! Just make sure you don’t get the buggy (or cart or whatever they call it where you live) too close to the shelves. You know that annoying person that walks in the center of the aisle? Well now you know why.

Option 1a: If this is not a buggy kind of store, strap him to your back or plop him into the stroller. Again, take care to stay away from the shelves!

Bonus expert tip: Keep the snacks flowing! They sit happier when they are preoccupied with snacks. Icees are the only way Target ever happens.

Bonus expert tip: Singing ridiculous songs very loudly can keep a toddler quite for quite some time. In my experience, toddler happiness > personal embarrassment. Great Big Poop one more time, everybody!

Option 2: Leave. Seriously, some things are not worth fighting over. If it isn’t a necessity, hang up the gloves and let the kid win. Get out of there!

Option 3: This can be combined with Option 1. Make your necessary trips fast! If your particular brand of toddler has zero patience, a leisurely stroll around Target is ill advised. Get your junk and get out!

Option 4: Don’t attempt any store with your toddler. I know this sounds drastic, but there are some toddlers… Work out some arrangement by which the child does not have to darken a store until they are 4. Or 5. Or maybe 16.

Option 5: Online shopping. What can’t you buy online?

Now, whatever you do, don’t do the following things:

-Yell. They don’t listen. Eventually they’ll train you on this one.

-Act like a toddler. As tempting as it might be to join them in pitching a fit, refrain. Someone has to be the grown up around here and it sure isn’t them.

-Reason with them. They aren’t there yet. If you find yourself arguing with a toddler, you need to rethink some things in your life. And they don’t know WHY. Gravity. I mean, the answer is usually just gravity.

-Lecture them. Wah wah wah wah wah wah. Look! You turned into Charlie Brown’s teacher.

You’ve got this, Mum! Go get ’em!

**Ask LJ is a fictitious advice column based on search engine searches that send people to my site somehow. All advice given is by me, who is, again, not an expert on your kid.**

**If you really need help with a toddler, I have a couple book suggestions you can check out in all that free time between poop and jam and broken toys and more poop and baby powder in the carpet. Making The Terrible Twos Terrific. Your Two Year Old.** This post contains affiliate links.

Posted in Under Our Roof, With The Kids

Danu Enigma Beaufort- A Review

danu tag

I recently had the opportunity to test out the Danu Enigma Beaufort wrap. I’ve been wearing my babies, well, since the one that is 9 was born, so I’ve used quite a variety of carriers over the years, but have only recently gotten into using woven wraps. I was very excited to be chosen as a tester and even more excited when the cozy Enigma came into our home for a couple weeks.

danu enigma

The Enigma Beaufort is 62% Irish Linen and 38% cotton. It came to me after being well broken in. It was floppy and so easy to wrap with. This is a workhorse wrap. It is a great beginners wrap because it wraps so easily and securely without any work or wiggle. Soft, but strong. I sound like a toilet paper commercial, here.

danu lindsey back carry

I wasn’t sure Topher, who is 2 now, would let me send the wrap off to the next tester. He was constantly asking to be in “pig backs” (see picture) with this wrap. It looks like a big dish towel, and honestly, that is how it feels. And while that might sound like a slight against the wrap, it is actually amazing. The thickness was perfect. It tied easily without any bulk. I tried a dozen different carries and each was so simple and easy with this wrap.

danu adam back wrap 2

This red and white wrap was so comfortable and so supportive. In the above picture, The Pastor is getting ready to begin a wedding rehearsal. Topher was quite upset and not being able to go jump in the lake with an alligator (yes, there was an alligator watching the entire wedding rehearsal). The Pastor wrapped him up on his back, and there he stayed for THE ENTIRE REHEARSAL. You know how long those are.

danu adam back wrap

And while he was initially upset about not being able to go pet the alligator, he quickly got over it and remained Daddy’s side-kick for the rest of the evening.

And no, The Pastor usually doesn’t dress so casually for weddings. Upon arriving into town for this one, he realized he forgot all his hanging clothes, so he had to just go to the rehearsal as he was and then we hit up Target the next day for appropriate wedding attire. It happens.

danu lindsey back carry 2

The Linen/Cotton blend was perfect for the weather. Not too hot at all. (September in Georgia can be pretty warm, if you aren’t familiar with the weather down here.) It really is a lovely, unintimidating wrap. It was a size 6, which concerned me a little since I consider a 7 my base size, but found this just as easy to do any and all wraps I use my 7 for. It tied so securely. The fabric is just the right amount of grip. I did wrap Pip in it, too, when Topher would let me. At 5 months old, he was a breeze to wrap in this, too.

danu cello

If you haven’t checked out Danu Slings, you totally should. They even have some Narnia inspired wraps to check out!

danu middle marker

Posted in Among The Homeschool, From The Altar, Out Of My Head, With The Kids

40 Holy People: Week Six

40 holy people

Day 29: Maggie Gobran: Being The Help Needed

maggie

How many times do we see a problem or see a need and think, “Someone should really do something about that?” Maggie Gobran saw a need and instead of looking around to see who would do something, or praying that God would somehow intervene, did something herself. Mama Maggie, as she came to be known, grew up in the middle class in Cairo Egypt. She became a Coptic Christian. She was a marketing manager and computer science professor. In other words, she was living a middle class life and had no intentions of changing that. Then she visited the Cairo garbage slums (see picture below), where people lived among garbage heaps, many of them children and many of them Coptic Christians, just like Maggie.

cairoslums

Maggie gave up her middle class life, her jobs, her security, to go help those people she saw in the slums. She started Stephen’s Children (http://www.stephenschildren.org/index.php) to help the children and young people in those slums, and now other impoverished areas of Egypt. The organization seeks to show the children love, build self esteem, and hold onto the hope found in Christ. Maggie now has 1500 workers and volunteers working with her and they’ve reached more than 30,000 children and their families.

Have you noticed a need in your community? How could you meet that need?

“You know, we don’t choose where to be born, but we do choose either to be sinners or saints. To be nobody, or the heroes. If you want to be a hero, do what God wants you to do.” – Mama Maggie

Map of Egypt to Color.

Coloring Page. (A Coptic Cross)

Day 30: Shane Claiborne: Making Peace

shane

Shane Claiborne grew up in Tennessee. Shane is the started of a New Monastic movement. We read about some ancient monks and monasteries. Shane is spreading the same concept, in a modern way. He has traveled all over the world promoting peace and helping the poor. He has worked in Calcutta, Chicago, Rwanda, West Bank, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He now lives in Philadelphia in a faith community that help the homeless.

“Only Jesus would be crazy enough to suggest that if you want to become the greatest, you should become the least. Only Jesus would declare God’s blessing on the poor rather than on the rich and would insist that it’s not enough to just love your friends. I just began to wonder if anybody still believed Jesus meant those things he said.”

Would you be willing to travel the world to help promote peace? What is peace?

What could you do to help the poor in your community?

Coloring Page. 

Day 31: Mary: The Annunciation of Our Lord

Stained_glass_depicting_the_Virgin_Mary_holding_baby_Jesus

Annunciation is a big word that means to announce. Today, if you’re on time, is the day known as The Annunciation of our Lord. Why? Well, a pregnancy lasts 38-42 weeks, so today would have been about the time the angel came to Mary to tell her Jesus would be born.

Luke 1:26-38 (CEB)

When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.”

Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

An angel comes to tell Mary that her entire life is about to change. At first, she is confused, but the angel tells her all things are possible with God. She doesn’t fight it, she doesn’t argue with the angel, she fully accepts the will of God for her life. She gladly accepts this life changing news.

Coloring Page.

Day 32: John & Beth Muehleisen: Encouraging Others

donate_muehleisen_12

John and Beth grew up in America. They currently work on the mission field in Uganda. They have been missionaries for 28 years, raising their children on foreign soil to do the work of Jesus. The main focus of ministry for John is teaching, encouraging, and empowering the ministers God is raising up in Uganda. He is helping them plant more churches and strengthen their brothers and sisters.

The Muehleisen’s have spent their entire life answering God’s call on their life. That call took them far from home and far from their comfort zones. What will you do when God calls you?

John began using a puppet names Lazarus to minister to children in Africa early in his ministry. See a video of John and Lazarus here.

Day 33: William & Catherine Booth: Taking Jesus to The World

William and Catherine

William and Catherine Booth are the founders of something called The Salvation Army. William was a Methodist minister in England in the mid 1800s. The Salvation Army was created as a group of Christians taking the call of God’s salvation out to the world, relieving poverty, and other charitable causes. Not only does the Salvation Army take the word of God to people, they actually help them. The Salvation Army is now in 126 countries.

“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight. While little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight. While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight. While there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight. I’ll fight to the very end!”- William Booth

Coloring Page.

Day 34: James Hudson Taylor: Setting Self Aside

200px-J_Hudson_Taylor_1865

As a young man, Taylor rebelled against the faith of his parents, who were Christians. But at the age of 17, his eyes were opened, and he accepted Jesus as his Savior. Shortly after, he felt God calling him to China.

James Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant missionary to China. He spent 51 years of his life living in China. He began China Inland Mission (now OFM International). The organization brought over 800 missionaries to China, began 125 schools, and led to 18,000 people deciding to follow Jesus.

While ministering in China, Taylor dressed and groomed himself like the Chinese. He realized his appearance was causing many of the Chinese people not to listen to what he had to say, so he dressed like them so they would hear his words.

His life and stories of his life inspired many people to pursue missions work full time, including Amy Carmichael and Jim Elliot, who we read about earlier in Lent.

Map of China to Color.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, From The Altar, Out Of My Head, With The Kids

40 Holy People: Week Five

40 holy people

Day 23: John: Sharing The Story of Jesus

600-JohnWriting8874

John was a disciple of Jesus. We read in Matthew 4 of Jesus calling John and his brother James to follow him while they were repairing fishing nets with their father.  He wrote several New Testament books (John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation). He referred to himself as the Beloved Disciple, the one Jesus loved. He and his brother James are often called the “Sons of Thunder”. (If you and your siblings had a nickname, what would it be?)

John followed Jesus. He learned directly from Jesus. He saw the miracles Jesus performed. He even went out and performed miracles himself in Jesus’s name. John knew that just learning the good news for himself, seeing the miracles with his own eyes, that wasn’t enough. He had to share Jesus with others. He had to tell other what he saw and heard. So he shared. He wrote what he saw, what he heard, and you can read that today. After Jesus’s death, he traveled around, telling people about Jesus. It wasn’t enough that he knew the One True God- he had to tell others!

In Matthew 18:19-20a, Jesus says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you.” And that is just what John did. You know about the life of Jesus today thanks to those first disciple writing down what they saw and heard. You know the good news because John did what Jesus commanded and shared it. Now it is your job to go out and do the same. Who will come to know the Good News because of you? Who will be introduced to Jesus through your life and your words?

Coloring Page.

Where in the world are you going to tell people about Jesus?

Day 24: Saint Patrick: Slave to Missionary

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If you’re doing these on time, today is Saint Patrick’s Day! Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t about luck, green eggs and ham, leprechauns, or green clothes. So why do we have a day to celebrate this man called Saint Patrick?

Born in England, Patrick (whose name wasn’t Patrick in those days) was brought up in church. He came from a Christian family that taught him about God. When he was still just a boy, he was captured and taken to Ireland to a life of slavery. During his slavery, he grew close to God through prayer as he worked as a shepherd. After six year in slavery, he heard a voice telling him it was soon time to go home. The voice came again and told him his ship was ready. Patrick ran to the sea, 200 miles away, where he found a ship with a captain willing to take him home.

Once back in Britain, Patrick studied Christianity. He had a vision about the Irish people asking him to return. So Patrick went to Ireland as a Missionary. Patrick shared God with the people of Ireland. As a result of his ministry, Ireland came to know God. (They previously knew nothing of Christianity.)

So, why the green? And why the shamrock? Well, Ireland is a very green country. (See the picture below.) So, on St. Patrick’s Day, we wear green, the color of Ireland. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Druids about God. Remember learning about the Trinity in earlier weeks? Patrick used the shamrock as an example to teach people the Triune Nature of God. God is 3 persons, 1 God. Just as a shamrock has 3 leaves, but is one shamrock.

ireland

Patrick is recognized as a Saint by many Christian traditions.

Do you think it was easy for Patrick to go back to where he had been a slave?

Coloring Page.

Day 25: Cyril of Jerusalem: Feeding the Hungry

st_cyril_of_jerusalem

Cyril was a theologian in the early Church. (around 313-386 AD) (Theology is the study of or how we think of God.) In 351, Cyril saw a cross of light in the sky over Golgotha. (Golgotha was the hill where Jesus was crucified.) The entire city of Jerusalem saw the cross in the sky.

When the city of Jerusalem went through a food shortage, Cyril started secretly selling some of the items from the church to pay for food to keep the people from starving. This wasn’t allowed. But Cyril did it anyway, choosing to break the rules rather than see his people suffer. He was charged and lost his job in the church because of this, but was later reinstated. Though he was exiled twice by Emperors.

Cyril also wrote many things about the nature of God and of forgiveness. “The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden for God is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as the Spirit approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen and to console.”

Are there hungry people where you live? What could you do to help feed them?

Coloring Page.

cross in the sky

Day 26: Joseph: Doing The Difficult Thing

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Matthew 1:18-24 introduces us to Joseph.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:

Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,

And they will call him, Emmanuel.

(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

 When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary

as his wife.

This was definitely not the easiest path for Joseph to choose. He knew people would talk about he and Mary. He knew people wouldn’t understand what had happened. (After all, even he didn’t really believe it until an angel came and told him it was true!) But he chose to marry Mary and become Jesus’s earthly father. Joseph was the man who taught Jesus the things he needed to know to be a man. Joseph taught Jesus scriptures and how to work with wood. Joseph cared for Jesus and protected him, as a father should. He didn’t have to, but he chose to.

Sometimes the things God asks us to do are not easy. Sometimes they make people think we’re weird, strange, or just unlikable. But God calls us to do it anyway. Joseph listened to God through the angel in his dream and ended up a part of the greatest story ever told. What will happen when you listen to God?

Coloring Page.

Coloring Page.

Day 27: Francis of Assissi: Caring for God’s Creation

saint-francis

If you are doing these on time, then today is the first day of Spring! It is only appropriate that we talk about Francis of Assissi on such a day.

Francis of Assissi was born in 1181. He was the son of a wealthy merchant, and spent much of his youth living a very materialistic (putting importance on having things, buying things, and spending money) life. He did not think of others and lived only for himself and his own fun.

In 1204, Francis went off to war as a soldier for Assissi. He had a vision there, and lost his desire for worldly things. When he returned home, he gave up his wealth and treasures, began preaching in the streets, and developed a following. He founded an order of monks, who lived with no worldly pleasures. He cared for the poor, but also for animals and the world God had created. He saw the animals and plants as something good that God had created, and that we should take care of because it is from God. He often preached to animals.

When Francis died, it is said that birds came to be with him on his deathbed. Francis lived a simple life, but found that in the end, he was not alone. Many Christian traditions recognize Francis of Assissi as a Saint.

Activity: It is the first day of Spring! God for a walk in nature and look at the things God created. You can also plant some seeds in honor of St. Francis today.

Coloring Page.

Day 28: Elijah: Miracles, Even to The End

elijah

Elijah was a prophet during the 9th century BC. Elijah lived a life of miracles. God gave him messages for the people, which he delivered. During famine and drought, God fed Elijah by having ravens bring him food. (1 Kings 17.) Elijah raised a boy from the dead. (1 Kings 17.) Elijah challenged the followers of a false God and showed the nation that there was One True God. (1 Kings 18.) God fed him yet again in the wilderness. (1 Kings 19.) Elijah heard the still, small voice of God in the wilderness. (1 Kings 19.) Elijah pointed out the wickedness people tried to hide. (1 Kings 21.) He called down fire from heaven. (2 Kings 1.) When it came time for Elijah to die, well, he didn’t. A fiery chariot with horses came and took Elijah to heaven in a windstorm. (1 Kings 2.)

So, what made Elijah so special? Why was he at the center of all these stories? The truth is, that Elijah wasn’t at the center of the stories. Elijah wasn’t the main character in his own life. God was. Elijah did what God said and went where God told him to go. God was at the center, and that is what made Elijah’s life such a whirlwind.

Who is at the center of your story?

When God tells you to go, will you go?

Coloring Page.

Coloring Page.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, From The Altar, Out Of My Head, With The Kids

40 Holy People: Week Four

40 holy people

Day 17: Ignatius of Antioch: Bearing  God

St. Ignatius_of_Antioch

Ignatius was born around 35 AD (that is a very, very long time ago!). He was a student of John the beloved disciple. Ignatius is also known as an Apostolic Father. The Apostolic Fathers lived during the New Testament times and were the bridge between the Apostles, who wrote the New Testament, and those who came after. (Polycarp, who we talked about previously, was also an Apostolic Father.)

Igantius referred to himself as Theophorus, which means, “God Bearer”. It is said that Ignatius was one of the children that Jesus took into his arms and blessed. (You remember the story in Matthew 19:13-15. Children were brought before Jesus, that he would bless them. The disciples got angry and told the people to go away, thinking Jesus was too busy and important for something so trivial. But Jesus welcomed the children into his arms and told those listening to let the children come and not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belonged to them.)

Like Paul, Ignatius traveled and spread the good news of the Gospel. He wrote letters to churches, like Paul, too. Even though it was illegal and dangerous, Ignatius taught people about Christ in every city he traveled through. This led to his arrest and execution in 110AD. After being sentenced to be fed to lions for telling people about Jesus, Ignatius wrote, “I am writing to all the Churches and I enjoin all, that I am dying willingly for God’s sake, if only you do not prevent it. I beg you, do not do me an untimely kindness. Allow me to be eaten by the beasts, which are my way of reaching to God. I am God’s wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ.”

Ignatius is regarded as a Saint by many Christian traditions.

Why do you think Ignatius was willing to be eaten by lions to tell people the Gospel?

Do you think it was easy for Ignatius to bear God?

Coloring Page.

Day 18: Paul the Apostle: Making Things Right

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Paul’s name wasn’t always Paul, it was Saul. We read about his name change in the book of Acts, chapter 9. Saul is actively persecuting (punishing them for their belief) Christians. While he was on his was to Damascus to capture more Christians, he is visiting by Jesus. (Who was dead and risen at this point in time.) Jesus came to Saul and asked why he was persecuting him. Saul asked who he was. Jesus said, “ I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Jesus tells Saul to do exactly as he says. He sends Saul into the city to wait to be told what to do. The men traveling with Saul heard the voice, but didn’t see Jesus. Saul, who had fallen to the ground, as most people would when visited by a dead man, rose from the ground and found that he couldn’t see. He was blind. The men with him let him to Damascus. For three days, blind Saul didn’t eat or drink anything. While all of this was going on, God gave a vision to a man in Damascus named Ananias. He told Ananias, who was a Christian, to go look for Saul. Once he found him, Ananias was to lay hands on Saul and pray for him that he might regain his sight. But Ananias knew who Saul was, that he was doing evil against Christians, and didn’t really want to go. But God told Ananias that He had chosen Saul to carry His name. So Ananias went. He found Saul, told him God sent Him, and he laid his hand on Saul and prayed that Saul’s sight would return and that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately, scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He was immediately baptized. Saul began proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God right away. But the people were pretty confused, since they knew Saul to be the one who hated Christians and sought to kill them. The Jews plotted to kill Saul, because he was telling people Jesus was the Son of God. Saul escaped with the help of Christians. Everywhere Saul went, he told people that Jesus was the Son of God. And everywhere he went, people were very confused because Saul had been killing Christians days before. Saul becomes one of the first missionaries, sent out into the world to tell people about Jesus. Somewhere along the way, Saul becomes known as Paul, and he continues to tell people about Jesus. Eventually Paul is killed because of his faith in Jesus. (This is called martyrdom.)

Do you think you could have listened to God, like Ananias, and gone to pray for someone you knew hated you?

What would have happened if Ananias refused to do what God told him? (Ananias teaches us how important we are to one another. We have the power to change people’s lives for the better, if we just listen to God.)

Do you think it was hard for Saul to realize he was wrong and change his ways?

Why do you think Jesus called Saul? Why not pick someone nicer?

Coloring Page.

Maps of Paul’s Missionary Journeys.

Day 19: Francis Asbury: Taking Jesus to The People

francis

Francis Asbury was born in England in 1745. His mother wanted him to become an Archbishop of Canterbury, so she read him the Bible, sang him hymns, and prayed over him. At the age of 18, Francis became a preacher for Methodist meetings. When he was 22, John Wesley appointed him as a traveling preacher. (You remember reading about Wesley last week.) In 1771, Francis traveled to America to preach the Gospel. In 1776, the American War of Independence broke out, and Francis was the only Methodist minister to remain in America. He traveled the country on horseback or in a carriage, preaching Jesus to every settlement he came to. Like Wesley, Asbury preached everywhere, not just in a church on Sunday mornings. He parched in fields, town squares, tobacco houses, courthouses, anywhere people were. The Methodist Church in American grew from 1,200 to 214,000 members with 700 ordained ministers. Francis Asbury ordained the first African American man in the United States, Richard Allen of Philadelphia. He died in 1816.

In those days, communication was much more difficult, so Francis Asbury traveled on horseback to tell people about Jesus. How can we communicate today to tell people about Jesus?

Colonial Map of America in 1776.

Coloring Page.

Day 20: Macrina: Encouraging Others

macrina

Macrina was the sister of Basil and Gregory, The Cappadocian Fathers we learned about 2 weeks ago. Macrina did not go the school and get the education her brother did. Basil went to great schools and learned many things, but wasn’t planning to use his education for God. Macrina told him that he had become vain (showing a very high opinion of himself) and should follow Christ. At first, Basil ignored her, thinking she was simply uneducated. But after the death of his brother, Naucratius, he went to Macrina and asked her to teach him the ways of a religious life.

Macrina was the religious guide and strength for her family after their father died. She became known as “the Teacher”, despite not having formal education. She also encouraged her brother Gregory, to follow Christ and do something for God. Though she didn’t do much in terms of church history  or worldwide significance herself, her encouragement of her brothers to follow Christ and stay the course paved the way for early Christianity. Macrina did create a monastic community for women, where they focused on serving others.

How can you encourage others to do something for God?

How can you encourage your brothers or sisters to keep faith in God?

Coloring Page.

Game Time: There is a little activity we like to do in our house. It is especially helpful on days that are full of bickering and arguing. We sit around the table and we say one nice thing about each person. So, we pick a person to go first, say Emery. Then we each go around the table and say something we really like about Emery. (Emery is a good leader. Emery always lets others have a turn. Emery is the best tree climber in the family. Etc.) Each person gets a turn having the others say something nice about them. Try it. It is very encouraging. Mom and Dad always think you’re the bee’s knees, but it is extra special hearing that your siblings really like you, too. Make sure you include Mom and Dad! It’ll warm (or tickle) your heart to hear what your kids see in you.

Day 21: Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus: Presenting God in My Language

tertullian

Known as Tertullian, born in 160 AD, he was a Christian author from Carthage. (Carthage is now Tunisia, which is in the northern part of Africa. At the time of Tertullian, it was under Roman rule.) He was the first Christian to write Christian literature in Latin. He was also an early Christian  apologist (someone who writes or speaks to defend Christianity) and tried to stop heresy (heresy is thinking and spreading wrong teachings). He was a defender of the Trinity, God is three person, one God. He is one of the early church fathers, paving the way for future Christians.

Why would it have been important that Tertullian wrote in Latin? Well, before that, the world was largely Greek speaking, but Latin use was rising, and continued to rise. (Many of our languages today are based largely on Latin.) Writing in Latin, meant more people could read and understand the teachings of Jesus and His Church. Imagine if we didn’t have Christian writings in English today. You wouldn’t be sitting here listening to this being read and you wouldn’t understand as well as you do in your native language. Tertullian defended the Trinity and defended Christianity, which we have talked about how important those things are to use today.

Do you ever feel like you need to defend Jesus?

How do we know what is true about Jesus?

Coloring Page.

Coloring Page.

**Note- Print both of these coloring pages. The first is in Latin, the second is in English. This will help press the point that ideas are easily expressed in our own language, but more difficult in another language.**

Day 22: Samuel: Listening To God

Samuel

In 1 Samuel 3, we learn of God calling the boy Samuel, who was about 12 years old.

“Now the boy Samuel was serving the Lord under Eli. The Lord’s word was rare at that time, and visions weren’t widely known. One day Eli, whose eyes had grown so weak he was unable to see, was lying down in his room. God’s lamp hadn’t gone out yet, and Samuel was lying down in the Lord’s temple, where God’s chest was.

The Lord called to Samuel. “I’m here,” he said.

 Samuel hurried to Eli and said, “I’m here. You called me?”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go lie down.” So he did.

Again the Lord called Samuel, so Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”

“I didn’t call, my son,” Eli replied. “Go and lie down.”

( Now Samuel didn’t yet know the Lord, and the Lord’s word hadn’t yet been revealed to him.)

A third time the Lord called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”

Then Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down where he’d been.

Then the Lord came and stood there, calling just as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel said, “Speak. Your servant is listening.”

The Lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of all who hear it tingle! On that day, I will bring to pass against Eli everything I said about his household—every last bit of it! I told him that I would punish his family forever because of the wrongdoing he knew about—how his sons were cursing God, but he wouldn’t stop them.  Because of that I swore about Eli’s household that his family’s wrongdoing will never be reconciled by sacrifice or by offering.”

 Samuel lay there until morning, then opened the doors of the Lord’s house. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel, saying: “Samuel, my son!”

“I’m here,” Samuel said.

“What did he say to you?” Eli asked. “Don’t hide anything from me. May God deal harshly with you and worse still if you hide from me a single word from everything he said to you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him.

“He is the Lord, ” Eli said. “He will do as he pleases.”

So Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not allowing any of his words to fail. All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was trustworthy as the Lord’s prophet. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh because the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh through the Lord’s own word.”

The Lord spoke to Samuel, who was just a kid, and told him He was going to do something big in the nation of Israel. This revealing on God’s part made Samuel a prophet. A prophet is someone God used to tell the people messages from God. God continued to use Samuel to send messages to His people. Israel needed Samuel. They needed him to listen to God so they would know what the Lord was saying.

Do you ever hear God call your name? I’m not necessarily talking about in an audible way, but in your heart.

Do you stop and listen when you feel God calling you? Do you stop and listen to see if God is calling you?

Coloring Page.

Game: Practice Listening! Everyone closes their eyes. One person is chosen to speak (or make a sound). The person then whispers or makes their noise. Everyone has to repeat what they think they heard. If you want to make it more difficult, turn on the TV and see if anyone can hear over the noise. Have the kids do jumping jacks while they close their eyes and see if they can hear over their movement. Listening works best when we can get rid of all distractions and just listen.

Posted in Concerning Strangers, With The Kids

The Day The Comments Wouldn’t Quit

fb timeline

Remember that time when I said I was going to blog the annoying things people say to me so I don’t go crazy on people in public? No. Well, I said it. At some point.

People aren’t always mean. In fact, last week, a few days before Christmas, a lady came and asked me if they were all mine while we waited for a table at a local Mexican restaurant. I replied that they were, and I even smiled. She just smiled and walked away. A few minutes after we were seated, she appeared again, and told me that we reminded her of her family when her kids were small. They are all grown now, she informed me. She said that someone had once paid for their dinner around the holidays, and it was such a blessing to them. Seeing us, she was reminded of that night, and was doing the same for us. Merry Christmas. And that was awesome. So generous, so sweet.

Four times over the weekend (my inlaws were in town, so we were eating out more than often), someone approached me or The Pastor to tell us how wonderfully behaved our children were and how great it was to see our family. (A couple times, I might have looked a little shocked. It isn’t easy on my end to keep them civil while waiting at the chiropractor or waiting for a table in a busy restaurant. And my boys are, well, all boy.) But I was surprised and encouraged. It took a lot of work to keep them quiet, feet not on seats, and eating with silverware, but apparently my hard work was working! People were not bothered by my children, but delighted by them.

boys

Then I have a day like today, and all those positive, encouraging interactions seem to fly out the window in the face of some crummy ones. Today, I felt like a walking target. The kids were being decently behaved. We took them to Waffle House for breakfast. We had to wait on a table because apparently everyone decided Tuesday was Waffle House day. But they were waiting well, in anticipation of waffles and hot cocoa, I suppose.

Then came the comments.

And they came. And they came. And they came.

“Are they all yours?!”

“Oh my God! And pregnant again?!”

“Bless your heart.” (And you Southerners know this is NEVER a compliment.)

“Better you than me.”

“Your hand are full!”

“Please tell me it isn’t twins again! Or worse, triplets!” (Apparently, my boys being dressed alike made many people assume they were triplets or twins.)

“You must have more patience than me! I could just never…!”

And all this, repeated over and over, in front of my kids, while I am working my butt off at that thing where I keep them all nice and polite in public places and not let them tear Waffle House down with their bare hands. I think the worst part was most of it coming from the employees. We couldn’t even get orders out without multiple snide comments. Let me just say, I wanted to be mean. I wanted to put someone in their place. I wanted to scream.

I don’t like being in the spotlight. I didn’t have kids to be in some bizarre public spotlight. This is just our life. A life that I could do without the snide commentary on.

And I’d like my kids not to feel like outcasts, particularly from adults who should know better. (And especially from adults who are expecting a tip from my order for 7 people!) I don’t need pity. My kids don’t need pity.

I wanted to tell these Waffle House workers that yes, the children are all mine and I thank God that I get to be their mom every day. Yes, I am pregnant again, and I find it just as miraculous as I did the first time. The infertile couple now has six, count them, six children! That is what God can do. I’m amazed. Still. Yes, my heart is very blessed and I am very thankful. And while I am glad that God has given these to me, it does make me sad that so many people are so clueless to the blessings that children can be. I am glad that it is me, but I would like for you to be just as blessed, if not more! Yes, my hands are full. My life is full. My house is full. The car is full. All things I am extremely thankful for. My days are filled with a thousand hugs and kisses. (Even kisses on my hands like I am some kind of Queen because my 3 year old insists on kissing my hands all the time.) No, there are no multiples in the bunch. Not in my belly. Not at the tables. I’m not sure why this is disappointing or surprising. Those boys you think are triplets are 3, 5, and 7. They aren’t that close in age. Sorry to disappoint you. Yes, God has given me more patience with the passing years. It is one of the miracles of motherhood, that God uses it to make us better, to make us holier people. Each child makes me a better person if I can let go of myself long enough to let God change me. I didn’t start this journey with unnatural patience. I still don’t claim to have that much, but proof that I endured this barrage of negativity is probably proof that I do, indeed, have more than I once did. But I am happy. We are happy. This is our life. We’re living it like everyone else here right now, eating Waffle House for breakfast on a Tuesday. And we’re enjoying it. My kids are not burdens. They are not problems to be dealt with. They are awesome little people that I am lucky enough to know.

But I didn’t. Instead, I ordered. I pretended the comments didn’t bother me. I helped my kids cut their waffles. I held it in, knowing that just days ago, I encountered encouraging people who helped build me up. I held it in knowing that I knew what they didn’t- we are happy, all of us, and that is something. I let them overcharge me for my meal. I tipped without a grudge. And I hoped that maybe later, we’ll come across some more of those encouraging people who make the days easier. And hoping that I could be that encouraging person that makes someone else’s days easier.