Monday, July 26, 2010

Interruptions

Most mornings, I start with a resounding determination to "finally do this godly wife-mother-homemaker thing right."

The schedule looks so perfect, and makes so much sense...on paper, that is. In reality, though, it rarely works out. Why?

Interruptions.


This morning, I woke up at a decent hour, got dressed right away, got breakfast started, and decided that, after breakfast, we would do our catechism, then spend the next hour or so tidying up from the weekend, doing laundry, and making order out of the chaos.

So, after breakfast, I sat the children next to me on the couch, said a prayer, and began to read:

"Question 12 -- What did God's providence specifically do for man whom He created?"

I didn't get very far before I needed to un-snuggle myself from the children and run for the bathroom. I thought morning-sickness was supposed to be a first trimester thing? Why do I have to be so sick at almost 25 weeks?

I returned to the living room a few minutes later to discover, not surprisingly, that the children had completely forgotten about catechism and were busy at some sort of pretend play--about Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, I think. Oh yes, I promised Asher last night that, since I only wished to read one book before bed, I would read Peter Rabbit now and Benjamin Bunny in the morning...still need to follow through on that.

I sat down, and called my little ones to re-situate themselves on the couch on either side of me. We cuddled up under a blanket--I felt cold, and all my energy felt as though it has just drained out of me through my toes, through the floor, and completely out of the house.

"Answer -- After the creation God made a covenant with man to give him life, if he perfectly obeyed; God told him not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or he would die."

This time, I got a bit farther in our reading from Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade. As I explained the idea of "covenant" to the children, and how a covenant between two people is different from a covenant between God and people, because God is much greater than we are, I noticed that my toddler, who had been busy entertaining himself on the floor while we read, was getting that tell-tale, red-faced look of concentration that every potty-training mother knows well...

...off to the bathroom again. Thankfully, we made it in time, and I had my little boy situated on his potty-seat, doing his business. When I came to the conclusion that it was going to take him a while, I decided to leave the room--just for a minute--to tend to something in the next room that seemed important at the time. (You would think that after three babies I would know better). I came back to discover that he was standing up on the toilet, trying to turn on the water in the sink--and I had a mess to deal with.

I calmly and patiently cleaned my baby and the bathroom, chastising myself for being so foolish as to leave a 22 month old alone on the potty. And I felt sick again.

You're just getting what you deserve, I told myself.

After what seemed to be way too much time in the bathroom, I finally brought the baby out of the bathroom to the changing table for a diaper and a pair of pants. As I diapered him in spite of his protests, I could hear that, once again, the children had completely forgotten about catechism and were immersed in their own play again. The baby was acting tired. Could it really be nap time already? What time is it? I don't have my watch on. How could I possibly have gotten through this much of the morning without my watch?

Asher came up behind me and said, "Mom, I need to show you something," and I instinctively cringed. I turned around and he said, "Look, it's a biplane. " It certainly was. 

Not recognizing the building materials, I asked, "What did you make it out of?" 

"Crayons and Bendaroos!" he replied, enthusiastically.

"That's wonderful, Asher," I said, as I returned to the work of dressing his little brother. He flew his biplane back into the living room, and a wave of guilt rushed over me. At least they're creative enough to learn things on their own, but what have I actually taught them today? And why can't I stop feeling so yucky?

All dressed, my sleepy baby asked for a hug, and I basked in the warmth of his sweetness. With his head on my shoulder, I found my way to my dresser and managed to put my watch on. 9:21. No wonder you're so tired! How can it be that late already? We haven't even finished catechism yet! What will become of my "to do" list?

Returning to the living room, I called the children away from the crafts and back to the couch. With a big boy on my left, a little girl on my right, and a little boy falling asleep on my lap, I finished our reading.

"But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, 
And his righteousness to children's children,
To those who keep His covenant
and remember His precepts to do them."
Psalm 103:17-18 (NASB)

But, LORD, I don't remember your precepts to do them. I break covenant with you over and over again. If it weren't for your mercies, I would truly get "what I deserve", and the sickness that I feel this morning is not even a shadow of what that pain would look like.

"The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And  His sovereignty rules over all."
Psalm 103:19 (NASB)

What a marvelous promise, Father!  Thank-you, for being sovereign over my home, my day, my children, and all these interruptions. Help me to not resist the moments where you want to break into my schedule and teach me something that wasn't on the calendar.

"I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever;
With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations."
Psalm 89:1

Thank-you, LORD. You are faithful to me, and faithful to my children, even though I don't at all deserve it. AMEN.
Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't Be Afraid, Have Faith

Watch this video with a box of tissues at hand. Watch the whole thing...it's worth it!






As I reflect on this amazing story, I can't help but wonder how many women have been coerced by their health care providers into ending the life of a baby who had "no chance of survival"--and how many more stories like this we might hear, if more of us had the faith and trust in God that this family has.


"Don't be afraid, have faith." Mark 5:36


Let's face it--having babies requires a lot of faith. 

Some women prefer to put their faith in the medical establishment--obstetricians, anesthesiologists, hospitals, and technology. They prefer the feeling of safety and comfort that comes from trusting the professionals.

Other women reject the modern medical model, choosing to have their babies at home with a midwife...or maybe even without one. They cry out, "Trust your body! TRUST BIRTH!"

Now, I've had a hospital birth--an emergency c-section--and two homebirths. I'm a pretty big advocate of homebirth, actually, and while I am uncomfortable with the idea of blindly trusting a doctor, I must realize that it is equally foolish to naively "trust birth".

Rather, I must put my faith and trust in the One who created my body and created my baby. Birth was His idea. Of course, there are pain and suffering, and sometimes heartache and tragedy that come with childbirth, ever since Adam and Eve sinned against God in Genesis 3. Still, God has ordained that the human race should continue on through procreation, and we as women are given the profound and mysterious calling to carry and bear these, His children, who are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).

Whatever birth choices we make, we must recognize that the LORD of all creation is most certainly LORD of our birth. Anything we do should be the outgrowth of our faith in God alone--not in a doctor, or a hospital, or a midwife, or our bodies, or a mystical, sometimes heavily personified force known as "birth".

As I feel this precious little one moving and kicking inside me, I realize that I am not in control.

I do not know how this birth will turn out. I do not know when I will go into labor or if my labor will be long or short.

I do not know if it will be blissful and easy, or if it will be complicated and require us to transfer to the hospital.

And while I am praying and trusting God for a good birth and a healthy baby, and planning toward that end, there is always in the back of my mind the reality that there are things that happen that are outside my control.

"Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

When I start to worry, I must cling tight to my Heavenly Father, who is indeed knitting this little one together in my womb (Psalm 139:13)...

...and I can't even knit a sweater.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Excellent, FREE Podcasts on the Goal of Christian Education

This week, Dr. R.C. Sproul's daily podcast, Renewing Your Mind, is featuring his son, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr., discussing the ultimate purpose and goal of educating children. I have been listening in daily and, so far it is outstanding!

You can download the mp3's for free here: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/renewing-your-mind/listen/broadcast-archives.html

Click on the tab for the series "Training Up Children". You do have to give some personal information in order to download, but I've been downloading from this site for over two months now, and I have never received anything "spammy" as a result.

I recently finished reading Dr. Sproul, Jr.'s book, When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling. As I read it, I kept thinking, "Why, exactly, am I blogging about homeschooling? This book says everything I've been wanting to say, only better!"


Listening to this series of podcasts has reminded me that I have been planning on writing a review of the book. Now that I'm admitting that in public, you all will have to hold me to it!

"Raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord isn't something we sprinkle on top of a 'normal' life. Our calling isn't to prepare our children to make their way in the world, and then equip them with enough religion to survive into the afterlife.

Instead, we raise up citizens of heaven. Instead we raise up sojourners and pilgrims. Instead we raise up soldiers of the kingdom of God who will not make their way in the world, but will make war with the world, for the glory of God."

Excerpt from an upcoming book by Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.,
(another one for my reading list)

When you listen to these podcasts, would you please come back here and let me know what you think? Thanks!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Name, A Legacy -- Naming Asher Joseph

This is the second post in a series I'm writing on choosing names of significance for our seedlings. To read the first post, click here.

My firstborn was easy to name. By the time I was 8 weeks pregnant, we knew that, if our baby were a boy, Asher Joseph would be his name.

Had I been a boy, my name would have been Austin Joseph. August was my great-grandfather on my dads side of the family, and Joseph was my maternal great-grandfather. My parents, however, thought that "August" sounded a little too grandpa-ish for the late 70's, and Austin was considered a more "modern" equivalent.

Having had only one sibling, a younger sister, my parent never had the chance to use the name, and so as a girl, I always imagined that my firstborn son would be Austin Joseph. But by the time my turn to name a real baby came along in 2004, I found that Austin was not only perpetually overused, but also riddled with the baggage of several less-than-desirable namesakes.

Besides, we had come to the conviction that we wanted to give our child an name with a strong spiritual antecedent, so I found a book of biblical baby names, and headed straight for the "A's".

Aaron? No.

Adam? No.

Amos? Um...no.

Asher? Yes. Definitely Yes.

Not only was it an attractive Bible name that is not commonly heard, it also had a deeply profound, personal meaning.

"And Leah said, 'Happy I am, for the daughters shall call me blessed,' and she called his name Asher." Genesis 30:13 (KJV)

After going through a year of infertility, I definitely felt happy and blessed to be having a baby!

Joseph still made sense as a great middle name. It reminds us of not just one, but two great men of the Bible, and it also honors my great-grandfather.

My great-grandfather, Joseph Vanney, with his wife, Minerva, and my great-uncle Jim, 
at the grocery store he owned and operated when my mother was a little girl

I didn't really think about it at the time, but Joseph also means "may He add".

"Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb. 

So she conceived and bore a son and said 'God has taken away my reproach.'

She named him Joseph saying, 'May the LORD give me another son."
Genesis 30:22-24 (NASB)

I remember a conversation I had with a friend at church when Asher was about a year old. She asked me if we were going to have any more children. I told her that I truly didn't know. Asher had been so "hard to come by", and I didn't want to tell God that this one blessing he had given me wasn't enough. If He saw fit for Asher to be an only child, I was at peace with that.

Shortly after that, I was pregnant.



Asher Joseph is now six years old and has two loose teeth. I love the name now more than ever, but I have to confess that I am a bit disappointed that it seems to have caught on and become popular, having made the list of "cool Bible names" at nameberry.com, as well as being mentioned numerous times in the latest version of Rosencratz and Satran's best-selling book, Beyond Ava and Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby.

Maybe I'm a trend-setter?

In Genesis 49, at the end of Jacob's life, he pronounced blessings upon his twelve sons. At first, I wasn't too impressed with the blessing given to Asher,

"Asher's food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king."
Genesis 49:20 (NIV)

Now, my husband taught me how to cook (seriously!), so it wouldn't surprise me if Asher inherited his father's expertise in the kitchen. However, maybe this blessing has a deeper spiritual meaning?

Jesus called himself the bread of life (John 6:35), and said that his food was to do the will of the Father, who sent him. (John 4:34) He also said,

"It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4 (NASB)

I have come to hope that Asher will know, love, and live the Word of God, and will feed it to others, both great and small.
Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Name, A Legacy


It's hard to believe that I am half-way through this pregnancy already! I had my 20 week ultrasound last Friday.


I am amazed at the quality and resolution of ultrasound pictures these days! Hello baby!

As I share pictures with friends, I'm having a lot of them asking me if we found out the gender of the baby.

The answer is, "no". We have never found out the gender of our babies through ultrasound. The only time I ever regret this decision is when I visit a garage sale that has, say, an entire rack full of adorable baby girl dresses in near-perfect condition for $1 each. (I resist the temptation to buy them anyway).

We much prefer the surprise--not just for us, but for other people, too. Somehow, I feel, the excitement gets lost when the whole world knows the baby's gender and name four months before he or she is born.

But maybe that's just me.

One thing we don't wait until the last minute for is to choose names for the baby. Although we generally don't share them with others until we're announcing the birth, we do ponder the decision frequently and, usually, make a choice well before baby's birth date.

I have been particularly fascinated with nomenclature ever since I was a young girl. Whenever my family and I would walk into a bookstore, I would head straight for the stacks of baby-naming books to see if I could find my name in any of them. I usually didn't. When I did, I encountered a variety of  meanings. Some books declared that Tiana meant "fairy queen" in Russian. Others said it meant "beautiful" in Chinese. Still others gave it a Greek origin, and a meaning of "princess".

While my name is gaining popularity (no thanks to a certain Disney character), today's baby name books now tell me that my name is a completely made-up name of American origin, with no meaning whatsoever. Nice.

Try telling that to my parents, who named me after Tsar Nicholas II of Russia's daughter, Grand Dutchess Tatiana Nikolaievna, (remember the legendary Anastasia? Her older sister.) They figured, probably correctly, that it was a little long for an American girl, and so "Tiana" I became.

I have recently learned that Sam Houston's second wife was a Cherokee woman named Tiana Rogers. While she doesn't seem to be as noble of a namesake as the Grand Dutchess, it is intriguing to me, since I have a Native American heritage that I know very little about.

Having spent almost my entire life pondering my name and its meaning, I have come to take the process of naming babies very seriously. An ordinary or trendy, "everybody's doing it" sort of name won't do, but neither will a completely newfangled, nouveau, totally-made-up name.

We want our children's names to give them a sense of identity, a great meaning, and a strong, honorable namesake.

So, we've turned to the Bible.

Picking baby names sends me to parts of the Scriptures that I might otherwise neglect--lists of names in Numbers and Nehemiah. Obscure, passing references to godly people in the books of 1 and 2 Kings, or at the ends of the epistles. While I have yet to choose a name off of one of these lists, reading these passages reminds me that God's redemptive history has included many more people than the "major players". Multi-generational faithfulness necessarily involves many generations of people who are called according to His purpose.

Over the next week, I'd like to share the story of how we chose the names of our first three children, and maybe even some of the thought processes we are going through as we seek God's wisdom in naming this fourth child.

How did you choose your children's names?

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

My Writing Elsewhere...

Fixing Your Heart on Titus 2

Did you pray for your
husband today?
Monday--His Work
Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling
Features God Made, Home Grown

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

2009 Nominee!

2010 Nominee!

My Wired Style

My Wired Style
Success is not learned. It is discovered and nurtured. What was your child born to do?

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

Disciple Like Jesus

Disciple Like Jesus

Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

Quiverfull Family

The Modest Mom

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