Just Keep Going

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I’m tired. I’m emotional. I’m human! I struggle with myself more than any outside circumstance or person. I battle my flesh daily – or maybe momently. (Is that even a word?)  I am trying to forge ahead to the end of the year with homeschooling, but the truth is, I’d like to just throw my hands up and say, “Let’s go to the library. And then how ’bout the park and maybe some ice cream?” There are lots of articles on homeschooling that say we should do just that when we’re bogged down. I’m pretty sure there are articles about life that give that same advice: “When life gets you down, take a break. Relax. Put your feet up. Sip lemonade.” But that’s not always the proper course of action. Sure, breaks are needed and necessary. But there are times when we have to just be disciplined and push through.

In Oklahoma, there are no regulations on homeschooling. I can teach my kids all year, or six months of the year. I can teach for 8 hours a day or for 2 hours a day. While the freedom is wonderful, it does force me to be my own boss and make myself do the hard thing. Right now, the hard thing is teaching the differences between simple, compound, complex and compound-complex sentences. I could just say, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll never need this in real life.” But, seeing as I’m not omniscient, I could be wrong. They actually might need this stuff. (gasp!) So, I shove aside my own fatigue and my headache and I pull out the Sharpies. I try to make sentence structure understandable… for both of us.

Life is hard for everyone at some point. We can’t just quit! I think the best ideas came to people who were tired and had headaches. So even though I’m weary, and I would like to just go get ice cream, I’ll keep going.  I’ll plan, I’ll prepare, I’ll pray and then I’ll get up and do the work.

You talked me into it.

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Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum

Over our spring break, we were able to visit the Chilsholm Trail Museum in Duncan, Oklahoma. It was the nicest little museum I’ve been to in a very long time. Maybe ever. It was only about a forty minute drive, reasonably priced and very entertaining. My favorite part was the film presentation. Most museums have these type of presentations. The one at Mt. Vernon, Virginia, was a dramatic reenactment about (obviously) Washington. It didn’t hold a candle to the one in Duncan, Oklahoma! I hate to give away the fun, but I just have to tell you about it! It was shown in 4-D. That means you can not only watch the movie on a screen which sort of circled around you, but you can smell the grass, the dirt, and yes, even the cattle! You can feel the wind and the heat from the fire. And…wait for it…you can feel the water when the cowboys splash through the rolling river with their herd. It was excellent. I can’t wait to take our family the next time they visit us!

They have a small area where kids can dress up in hats and vests, and practice cattle-roping. They have a mock-up general store and a wagon, loaded and ready for the trail. They also have an animatronics presentation featuring Jesse Chisholm and a cowboy out on the trail. These robots were designed by the folks at Disney, and they are top-notch. They also have a small art museum featuring local artists and their renderings of the wild west.  Outside the museum, they have a scale-model of the renowned trail that you can walk, noting the most famous landmarks.

Anyway, I’ll quit jawing about it and let you see some photos of it! Hmm…I feel so western all of a sudden.

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We had already been to Geronimo’s grave, so it was fitting to see what he looked like.

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Laci liked this statue of an Indian woman and her papoose.

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The little ones enjoyed practicing their cattle-roping skills. Yeehaw!

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I’m not sure if you can tell in this photo, but this faux food looked incredibly real.

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For Oklahoma’s centennial celebration in 2007, some men decided to go on a round up on the Chisholm Trail. They did everything just as the cowboys did it. This cow, Blackie, led the herd.

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The man after whom the trail was named, and who reportedly *hated* beef, Jesse Chisholm.

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They have stamps with which you can design your own brand. This is Terry’s attempt to make “TBII” for Terry Basham, II.

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Our final stop was the gift shop. Mitchell bought this scorpion sucker. Yes! It’s actually edible! *shudder*

#OnlyinOklahoma?

I stayed away from the extreme items in the gift shop and came away with some cute cookie cutters in the shapes of the state of Oklahoma, a boot, a Texas Longhorn, and a cowboy hat. I want to do some Oklahoma state history over the summer and, of course, cookies would be a good place to start.

Happy trails,

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Dave Ramsey’s Reading Method

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Okay, as far as I know, Dave Ramsey never created a reading method. But, he is the inspiration for a method that I am using. You see, I have a problem. I begin reading a book, usually non-fiction, and another one on my shelf, or on my library’s shelf, catches my eye. I think, “Oh, I’ll just read one chapter.” Or, “I’ll skim it and put it on one of my reading lists.” But that chapter, or that skimming-of-chapters, turns out to be so riveting that I can’t put it down. I therefore become indebted to two books. Then, yet another one grabs my attention and the process repeats itself. It can even three-peat. I am currently reading four books. I finished one last week, otherwise I’d have five going. That’s what I refer to as “reading debt”.

My current debt includes the following:

The Life of Washington – Anna C. Reed

You’ve Got a Book in You – Elizabeth Sims

The Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages – Susan Wise Bauer

The Heaven Tree Trilogy – Edith Pargeter (This is technically three books. Yikes!)

The book on the bottom is not on my on my debt list. It’s a reference book, which I absolutely adore, called Honey for a Woman’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. It is brimming over with book recommendations. I give it five (hundred) stars.

I just finished reading aloud Hank the Cowdog to the kids, and I’m about to begin reading The Peterkin Papers.

Whenever I get into reading debt, and it happens frequently, I use the same method that Dave Ramsey advises to eliminate financial debt. He says we should pay off the smallest of our debts first, then apply the money that went toward that bill and add it to what you are paying on your next smallest, and so forth. I think he calls it a “snowball method” or something like that.

I’ve discovered that it works on books, too! I’m currently applying it to my stack of “to-reads”. I’m within 80 pages of finishing up one book in my pile. When I’m done, I’ll move to the next book which I am closest to finishing, and so forth. That doesn’t mean I won’t sneak some peeks at the others in my pile along the way, after all, I like variety and I do have a lengthy book list.

If you’re in a heap of reading debt like I am, perhaps Dave Ramsey’s method can help. Instead of monthly payments, I suggest daily installments of time – they really add up! And this is one kind of payment which should be fun to make, preferably with a cuppa java nearby.

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How Welcome is the Rain

Leslie is memorizing her final poem for the year. It has been very appropriate for these rainy, dreary days we’ve had lately. It’s called “Rain in Summer” by Longfellow. When you’re smack dab in the middle of a major drought, this poem holds a special meaning. I don’t usually photograph rain, but I did today. I praise the Lord for each and every drop! We have been praying for rain to fill the rivers and ponds and to water the grass and trees so they “feel better”, as Matt says. We pray we get many, many more drops before summer arrives.

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Rain in Summer

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs,
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Across the window pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

In the country, on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard’s tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain.

Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. ~ Psalm 147:7-8

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Leslie and the Competition

Leslie Anne began taking piano lessons in June of 2014. She had the opportunity to play in a piano competition this past March. Since she has been playing for less than a year, we didn’t have really high hopes that she would win. We knew it would be good for her to get out there and try though. She was the only one in her division in our district, so she automatically advanced to the playoffs! This meant she would go on to play in the state competition in Ada, Oklahoma, on April 11th!

Here is her playoff performance on March 28, 2015:

We have kids doing all kinds of things these days! I had to take Lauren to her driver’s ed class the same day that Leslie was going to Ada for her piano competition. Terry drove her the four hours round trip to compete. She did not place, but she performed her piece beautifully. As her teacher said, “She represented Lawton very well.” That made me smile.

I snapped a photo of her on her big day.

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All of the district finalists were allowed to perform at a recital in a lovely historic home downtown. Leslie was one of about 23 performers that evening. Here she is her final performance of “Pyramid Power”:

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Leslie and her teacher, Miss Hickman.

We enjoyed seeing our shy little Leslie face new challenges and receive encouragement for her efforts. All of our talents are to be honed and perfected so that we may honor the Lord. Our hope is to do just that with our lives.

Thank you for reading!

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Hanging On and Letting Go

I’m only five weeks (not counting this one!) from finishing up this school year. Yep. Just five short, long weeks to go. I’m doing all I can to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But, I am in a strait. I want to be done, and I don’t want to be done. If I am done, then that means I have completed another year of my children’s education – which is a good thing – but it also means another year has gone by. That’s kinda sad.

This past week, I was planning my 2nd grader’s reading assignments, when I came upon this story:

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It’s not a heart-rending story. It’s about the Indian boy who designed the Alaska state flag. I’ve never been to Alaska. I don’t even know anyone in Alaska. So why did this make me blue? Because as soon as I saw this picture in her Abeka reader, I remembered the first time I heard a young girl’s voice read to me about Benny and his design. I was suddenly back in the bright school room in our sprawling Texas parsonage. I could smell the pencil shavings. I could see the Berber carpet on the floor, and her small hands as they gripped the sides of the book. I could see the tiny newborn I was holding, too. This week, that tiny newborn will be reading to me about  Benny and his flag! When that thought hit me, I stopped writing out lesson plans and let my eyes fill up with tears. Then I sniffed and shook it off. I had to stay busy. I gave myself a pep talk: “I’m not letting myself spiral downward. I am thinking on that which is true – like Philippians 4:8 says. As much as I enjoyed having a sweet little girl named Lauren in second grade, the truth is that she is now in 10th grade. The truth is that I cannot go back.” I finished up my lesson plans and kept busy. But I know I will struggle with these emotions until I leave this world.

That little girl who first read to me about Benny so long ago, is taking Driver’s Ed. this week. She is thinking about what to major in in college. I am letting go, slowly but surely. She still needs me, even though she won’t readily admit it. But even that is part of letting go: she is becoming independent. That’s supposed to mean that I did my job right. Funny how it seems like a bad thing right now.

I had such a hard time learning to be a mother. I wanted to do things just right. Of course, I made many mistakes and still do, but I tried to heed all the (good) advice I was given. Everyone said, “Enjoy each day, because it flies by!” so I did. But even though I enjoyed each day, the days still passed. I had to hang on to them, and then let them go.

Life is hanging on and letting go, and giving God the glory in the process. And even though I struggle, I will never be alone in my struggle, for the Lord is with me.

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

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Book Review: The Attributes of God

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In the autumn of last year, a man in our church loaned me a copy of this book by A. W. Pink. I don’t think he meant for me to keep it six months, but I have. It has taken me that long to read this short, 117 page book. The reason? I am not a deep thinker. In matters of theology, and this includes my daily Bible reading time, I have to have silence. I have to mull things over, sometimes re-reading pages a few times before moving on. This book was worth my time.

Here is a listing of chapters, or attributes of God, that are discussed in this little book:

1. The Solitariness of God

2. The Decrees of God

3. The Knowledge of God

4. The Foreknowledge of God

5. The Supremacy of God

6. The Sovereignty of God

7. The Immutability of God

8. The Holiness of God

9. The Power of God

10. The Faithfulness of God

11. The Goodness of God

12. The Patience of God

13. The Grace of God

14. The Mercy of God

15. The Love of God

16. The Wrath of God

17. The Contemplation of God

I had the most difficulty with the first three chapters. I have now read through each chapter, but I am thinking of re-reading those first three again. I think I will also purchase my own copy so that I can highlight and underline. There are many glorious, and yet, sometimes painful, truths in this little book.

A few quotes from this book:

From “The Supremacy of God”:

Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than actuated by principle. They suppose that his omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting his designs on every side. They think that if he has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power he possesses must be restricted, lest he invade the citadel of man’s “free will” and reduce him to a “machine”. They lower the all-efficacious Atonement, which has actually redeemed everyone for whom it was made, to a mere “remedy”, which sin-sick souls may use if they feel disposed to;… (page 36)

The supremacy of the true and living God might well be argued from the infinite distance which separates the mightiest creatures from the almighty Creator. He is the potter, they are but the clay in his hands, to be molded into vessels of honor, or to be dashed into pieces (Ps. 2:9) as he pleases. (pages 36-37)

I freely admit that I had formed just such a “god” in my mind. The god that I had imagined was much like myself, fettered with my human sentimentality and human thoughts and ideas. This chapter jarred me, and convicted me. The God that saved me is a powerful God. Our human frailties cannot stop Him from His will. Isn’t that a relief? His yoke truly is easy; His burden is light.

I wish I could share the chapter on the “Sovereignty of God” in its entirety, but time fails me.

From the “Grace of God”:

Eternal life is a gift, therefore it can neither be earned by good works, nor claimed as a right. Seeing that salvation is a “gift”, who has any right to tell God on whom he ought to bestow it? It is not that the Giver ever refuses this gift to any who seek it wholeheartedly, and according to the rules which he has prescribed. No! . . . Is God obliged to force his gift on those who value it not? . . . But nothing more riles the natural man and brings to the surface his innate and inveterate enmity against God than to press upon him the eternality, the freeness, and the absolute sovereignty of Divine grace. That grace cannot be earned or won by any efforts of man is too self-emptying for self-righteousness. (page 86)

Again, piercing words! I had imagined that God felt about things the way I think about them. How foolish and prideful I am!

On “The Mercy of God”:

It is not the wretchedness of the creature which causes him to show mercy, for God is not influenced by things outside of himself as we are. (page 94)

From “The Love of God”:

There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The Divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. Now the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture. That there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance which so generally prevails, but also the low state of spirituality which is now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians. How little real love there is for God. One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with his wondrous love for his people. The better we are acquainted with his love – it’s character, fullness, blessedness – the more our hearts will be drawn out in love to him. (page 99)

I apologize for this lengthy post, but there were so many blessings to share! I hope they have blessed you, too. I hope you will be encouraged to study the attributes of God. Jehovah is good, He is holy, He is sovereign – He is everything! I want to love Him, live for Him and share Him with others more.

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