Thursday, February 26, 2009

Getting Real

Sometimes homeschooling families, or really any family for that matter, can get caught up in the myth that every other family out there is more spiritual, more organized, has better curriculum and lives in the house that never gets dirty. Well, I am about to show you what reality looks like. One thing I have learned that is absolutely true about homeschooling is that it is impossible to keep a pristine, Country Living layout home while you homeschool multiple children. The truth is we all have our shortcomings. I get cross and sharp when I shouldn't. My children are not perfect (even though their Nana would argue the fact). Our house is not always clean, as you will witness first hand from the photos below. I strive at being organized. I have read books about it. I have several lists going at all times. In fact, right now, the items that are weighing my purse down most are probably all the little notebooks I carry around with my lists. I put another one in because I forget that I already had one! How is that for organization? I am always questioning myself with curriculum...are they reading the right books, are they getting the best math program, are they where their peers are, and so on. So, I too, fall into the trap of reading about all these "other" families and saying...Wow, I wish I were perfect like they are! What I couldn't do for the Lord if I could organize my home like that...cook meals like that...always look fresh and like June Cleaver when I am vacuuming! (Those of you that don't know who she is...well, you're just too young then!) But, the truth is...God works in the lives of imperfect people to accomplish His perfect will. The truth is...that through my weakness, He shows Himself strong. The truth is not just my training, my curriculum choices, my best efforts that mould my children, but the greatest work is from the Holy Spirit moving and working and influencing their lives. The truth is...I don't have a perfect home, but I serve a perfect God. And if this gives you any encouragement today, may He be praised. Remember, it is not all the seemingly beautiful, post card images that will be is a life surrendered to God and finding beauty in what some would call mundane, but what He calls ministry.

This picture is what little boys do to anything they have dominion over...make it a battle ground of course!

Here is the same table AFTER clean up!
What do homeschooling families do best? Well, make little mounds of books everywhere of course! Here is your proof! This was actually cleared before breakfast and it looked like this by 10 am!

If you were wondering what that it is AFTER clean-up. Oh's a kitchen counter! Shocker!

And here, we were trying to see if we could start our own multi-purpose store. As you see, we have a little bit of everything. Maybe even a new Wal-Mart concept in the making here!

Ah, as long as I can look at it clean (most of the time) before bed...I feel better.

May the Lord give you grace today to see humor and value even in the little messes of life!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Wonderful Movie

I wanted to tell you all about a wonderful movie that I discovered some time ago. I am a great fan of the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. It is much better than Hollywood's version of it. And if you have read the book, the BBC production is one of the closest adaptations from a book that I have seen. I found this movie quite by accident and it has quickly become one of my all time favorites. Our family has an extremely strict set of rules when it comes to movie viewing (we do not watch TV). Anyway, this movie is one of those keepers. It takes place in England, so don't let the title fool you. The first time I just saw the title "North and South" I thought it must be about the Civil War! There is a tender love story and it is so refreshing that they never even kiss until the end of the movie. Quite honestly, I would have rather that have been after they were married like in Pride and Prejudice, but nevertheless, I think it is a movie well worth watching. It is a little too mature for children however, so I do caution you. There is a young man that does commit suicide by drowning in the river. You do not see when he does this though, but you do see his body when the police take it to his wife for identification. He is fully clothed, but is a purple color from being in the river where the dye from the factory has drained. There are other themes children would not understand, such as fighting among union members in the factory setting, the leading man fights a man over the fear that his smoking will cause a fire in the cotton factory, and a possible a few others that I cannot recall. But, there is no profanity in the movie! There are no inappropriate relationships either. It is a great movie to watch with your husband one evening. Pop some popcorn and make that a date night! You can rent it online through Blockbuster, or through Netflix. I have not seen it in the stores, but we bought our own copy through Amazon. So, give it a try and if you do, leave a comment and let me know what you think! Happy viewing!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How is Your Thirst for God?

In Pslam 42 it says,
"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."

So often in my life I find that I hunger and thirst for things that really don't matter for eternity. Do you ever find yourself so steeped in the affairs of the world, that the still small voice of God is barely audible? I often find myself stopping at the end of the day, looking at my to-do list...things that were completed, things that were not, and this really what God wanted me to be doing today? Because you know what...He does have a daily plan for our lives. Most of the time, we are too busy about life that we never stop to ask Him. How different our daily tasks would look if we did! How many opportunities to share the Gospel, to minister to someone, to lend a listening ear, to spend a quiet moment in God's word, to practice praying without ceasing would we experience? How often would that irritation in our voices change to love? How often would our complaining become falling on our knees in petitions before a Holy God?
And many times, it is not extravagant things that drive us from God, but the routine...our hobbies, our entertainment, our relationships. Now, I am not saying these things are bad. God gave us many pleasures to enjoy in moderation. But, when our hobbies take most of our time and money and we neglect God, they become our idol. When our entertainment causes us to miss fellowship with the saints on the Lord's Day, it has replaced God. When we run to our friends and family with troubles before we ever fall on our faces before God, our priorities are not right.

John Piper states in his book "A Hunger for God,"

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). ...the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth.”

Yes, I am guilty. How about you? Let's commit to hungering and thirsty after the only One that deserves such reverence. May you have a wonderful Lord's Day tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

An Easy Way to Boost Your Vitamin Intake

If you are wondering what in the world this is....well, it is a new effort we are making at providing more food for our family, as well as maintaining optimum health benefits. These are sprouts. The picture to the right is Alfalfa and to the left are the beginning of our broccoli sprouts. Sprouting is one of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to boost your minerals and vitamins. A sprout, at its optimum time for eating, may contain as much as 300 to 600% more vitamins and minerals than the plant fully grown. If you look at most of the green powders and such you get from the health food stores, they are loaded with sprouts! That is because sprouts are so good for you. And, for people like me who are renting our home and do not have the liberty of tilling up lots of ground for a garden, this is a great way to get started toward the simple life and toward a more healthy lifestyle. I bought a sprouting tray, but you do not have to do that to sprout. If you are looking for a great how to book, as well as a book that explains all the benefits of sprouting, I would recommend the book "Sprouts the Miracle Food" by Steve Meyerowitz. He is also known as the Sproutman! So, if you search Sproutman, you will come up with a lot of hits for him.

This is a closer view of our alfalfa sprouts. Whenever I have been to salad bars, I have always added alfalfa sprouts to my salad when they were available. But, honestly, they really had no taste to me. Now I know, after sprouting some of my own, that it was because all the flavor was probably taken from them during the shipping or storing process. Alfalfa sprouts are amazingly delicious and even have a sweet taste to them. Even my pickiest eater of my children loves to just take a handful and eat them just like that! You begin sprouting seeds first of all by getting the seeds. I buy organic because I want to start with a product that does not have any harsh chemicals. Then, I put about a couple of TBS in the bottom of a mason jar and fill the jar with distilled water and put the lid on to soak them overnight. The next day, I pour them in my tray and give them a good washing (about 30 seconds) with the spray hose from my sink. I do this two times a day. Every sprout gets to its optimum health level at different times. Alfalfa is about a 3 to 5 day process, not counting the overnight soaking. You can also sprout inside the jar as well. If you do this, you will need some kind of lid to help with proper drainage, or use cheese cloth so that all your sprouts do not fall out! :) You must have good drainage. So, after you water your sprouts, you drain the water out. They also need air circulation, which is why I prefer the tray. But, there are some sprouts that are better by sprouting with the tray, or even a sprout bag. What you don't want to see with your sprouts are the white fuzzies! That is the beginning of mold and it usually means that they are not getting enough water and proper air circulation. The great thing about the Sproutmans book is that he gives you all that information for almost every seed imaginable! So, give it a try and see how easy it is! Happy Sprouting!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Presents

These precious little children were waiting for me when I went into the bedroom the other day and they were waiting on the bed just like this. They said, "Look Mommy, this is your present!" I told them...hold it right know I just had to capture this Kodak moment! I ran and got the camera...and they really did hold it just like this the whole time! I am surprised Julia's neck didn't need therapy afterward! But, I wanted to share this picture with you all to remind you that the Bible says children are a blessing. And you know what, they are our greatest presents...sent straight from God. Don't buy into the world's mindset that children are just more bills, more headaches, more money...etc. That is not God's mindset, so it shouldn't be ours. Are there heartaches sometimes? Sure...we live in a fallen world, but I can truly say that my children just get more and more precious the more years I spend with them. I look forward to all the new things they will learn and travelling down the road of life with them as long as our gracious Lord allows. They are my presents! And what wonderful presents they are! Remember, in life the most important things are not things...they are people, children, the still small voice of God, the beauty in nature, the love of those around you. So today...start today...and enjoy those things that really matter...all the things that aren't things at all! May God bless you and help you to see the beauty around you in the people, especially the little children who reach out to touch you, laugh with you, play in front of you, and give you their "presents" in their smiles. God bless you today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Some of the first signs that spring is upon us. These pictures were taken out in front of our home this evening. These beauties are blooming under the fig tree. The tree, however, still lies totally bare. No signs of visible life yet. But, soon, it too will burst forth with the signs of a new season, and it will bear gifts from the Father. He will fill its branches, a beautiful reminder to us of His daily provision and His good gifts.

I have such mixed emotions about this spring. My favorite season this year will be clouded with the inevitability of a year without my husband, and our children without their father. But, it is God who reminds me in these little flowers that He too brings beauty out of darkness, hope from despair, good gifts from a barren soil.

I am reminded that in life, pain is just as much a part of our days as happiness. But, it is only God that can bring hope from despair. Out of the barren soil of my life, He formed newness, healing, and peace. He knows all about pain. His life brought Him pain. His pain brought me life. And because of that.. out of my daily dying to His will... I can walk afresh... just as the flower blooming from its once barren soil. I too have sprung from a barren soul. He makes all things new and alive and beautiful. Dear God, help me to live through my pain to see Your life...the good gifts You bring in the midst of the sorrow...hope from the recesses of a heart that is not all it should me to be like this little flower, pushing up through darkness of a separation from the dearest part of my flesh, my dear he is taken from me for awhile....I thank You that You are ever near...teach me to know Your peace.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Obama's and the Democrats All Out Assault on Our Children

Yesterday, my precious youngest child turned three years old. It grieves me that she is growing up in a country with a President and a Congressional majority that is on an all out assault against the children of this country. Just recently when Obama outlined his faith based program, he stated, "There is no God who condones taking the life on an innocent human being." I find that probably one of the most disgusting, hypocritical statements he has made thus far...and believe me, there are plenty to choose from. If God does not condone taking the life of innocent human beings, then how can this man condone giving millions of dollars to the abortion industry to promote his pro-death stance? How can he be pushing the Freedom of Choice Act, which if you do not already know, will reverse the decisions already made about partial birth abortion and will take back all rights from the states to make their own laws concerning this? And for those who think it is okay to give women the right to choose because a fetus is therefore not a real child, most will admit that pulling an almost full term baby halfway from the mother's body to insert a device something like an icepick into its brain to kill it is barbaric at the very least. But yet, Obama thinks a woman has the right to do this and wants once again to force this killing on those who have already outlawed the practice. And if that were not enough, Obama has nominated David W. Ogden for the number two position in the office of the Attorney General. Just another day in the life of a man who views life from the most leftist, anti-Christian basis. Ogden, while an attorney in private practice, has filed briefs OPPOSING the following: parental notification before a minor's abortion, spousal notification before an abortion, the military's policy against public homosexuals serving in uniform, and the Children's Internet Protection Act and the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. His clients have been those such as Playboy and Penthouse and the largest distributor of pornographic movies. And we want someone like this in the Attorney General's Office, a man that has actually fought for the rights of clients who exploit our children through pornography and Internet trash? And if all that were not enough...Hillary Clinton is pushing (of course with the nod of Obama) for America to sign onto the United Nations Rights of the Child, which basically will put in the government hands the right to choose what is best for our children and not us. It will put international law as precedence over our own constitutional law. Once again, this kind of action is moving us more and more toward a socialist/Communist rule. And it is amazing to me the amount of people that are swayed more by the charismatic nature of a man, rather than his true character. The only hope that we have lies in Christ. The fact that Barak Obama is in the White House means ultimately that God put him in control. He tells us He is the One who raises up kings and brings them down. And I can only believe that this raising up of a man so contrary to the God of the Bible means judgment to a nation that has rejected the laws of God. We have chosen prosperity over principles. We have chosen supposed comfort over character. We have chosen government over God. And it wouldn't matter what the stimulus package had in it. Our efforts will not be blessed when we so blatantly shake our fists in the face of God and tell Him to take a back seat to what we want. Read back over the Old Testament at the times when the Lord said, "And every man did what was right in his own eyes...And they did evil in the sight of the Lord...And the Lord delivered them over into the hands of the Philistines, etc." Pray, pray as you have never prayed before...if not for yourselves for the sake of your precious children and grandchildren. America as we have known it is fading quickly. But, the God of Heaven still reigns and just as He saw His people through hard times before, He can do it again. This does not mean it will not be without persecution though. An oftentimes overlooked part of Scripture is the part that tells us to expect persecution if we are followers of Christ. Those days may be approaching us faster than we realize. I want to close with the Reverend Billy Graham's prayer for the nation. He put is so eloquently when he said,

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and To seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those Who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our Spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor And called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists And called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and Called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We Have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom Of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers And called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; Cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!'

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Before Going to Church

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. We were extremely busy in the Fowler home. Time was spent finally getting ALL the Christmas things down and put away. The yard was completely raked front and back...and that is a feat in itself with all the trees we have! We spent time organizing drawers and continuing the scaling down process by giving things away. On top of that, a run to the commissary, a menu list for the week and school planning just to name a few. So, it was a very productive weekend. These are some pictures I took before going to church on Sunday. The first one is of my dear husband (dh) Jonathan. The love of my knight and man of velvet steel.

Here is sweet little Julia. Oh, another thing I spent some time doing is trying my hand at making hair bows. They are outrageous to buy and when you have three girls that can get costly. This one was done actually to match a dress I bought at a consignment shop for Joanna for spring, but Julia wanted to wear it. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but the ribbon matched a color of one of the polka dots on her dress. The bow is not perfect, but I am pleased with it for a first try. I will show you others as I go along. :) It is hard to believe that my little baby girl will be three on the 6th!

This is my lovely twelve year old Joy. So sweet and compassionate. A true help to her mother...who needs all the help she can get! It is a privilege to see her growing into womanhood with such grace and watch her grow in her walk with the Lord.

My middle child Joanna...the most passionate of my children. She feels everything to the fullest...whether it be frustration or joy or affection. I like it when she feels the affection part best. :) She is a go getter and has a hard time understanding why at five she is not able to do all the things her twelve year old sister can!

My first born son. He has his father's humor. He also has an amazingly large vocabulary for a boy that is just turning 8 on the 9th. He likes to use Scottish and British dialects and he LOVES anything to do with the Alamo, the Civil War, pirates, swords, guns, and the list could go on and on and on and on!

And lastly...cutie pie Joel. He can be content with others, or by himself. He is a great protector (most of the time) of his little sister Julia (which by the way could pass for his shadow). He is forgiving when wronged and his favorite food is apples, or grapes, or watermelon, or strawberries...well, just about anything in the fruit line. He is cuddly and cute. And amazingly adaptable to things. When we first got the dog, he sat on the couch most of the day telling us how much he wanted that puppy to go. Take it back he said. Now, he plays with that dog more than anyone. They are buddies. In fact, his head tends to smell a lot like doggy breath because he gets on the floor on all fours and pushes his head against her to get her to play with him. She really doesn't have any choice. When he is upset, or gets hurt, he will often bypass his father and me to go get comfort from the dog. Totally unexpected!

And that about sums up life, for the most part, in the Fowler house. God bless. Until next time!