Work: Evaluating Our Hearts

As part of the children’s school, we’ve been reading through CMI’S Christian Character Curriculm Vol. 2. This is from the lesson on Virtue:

“How would living (working) to please God differ from what we commonly call ‘good works’?

The former follows our submission to God, while the latter, all to often, are done to find acceptance with God.”

Eh… I don’t quite agree with the implication that “good works” is negative — it is a phrase positively used in scripture. I do, however, appreciate the opportunity to evaluate the motivation of my own heart. I’ve rewritten this quote to help apply it to me:

“Am I doing this work because I love God, or because I’m trying to get Him to love me?”

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:4-10

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. – Colossians 3:23-24

The “I’m Still Here” Round-up

So… what are you doing this summer?

June 6 was the last day of homeschool for us. We loved our evaluator at Upattinas School! Home Education Director Kim Coffin thoroughly went through our portfolios and took an interest in each child. She asked about their hobbies, favorite reads, and their observations on Japanese culture amongst other things. The Upattinas campus is beautifully landscaped with gorgeous flowers as well as wild honeysuckle and berries. It has an atmosphere of peacefulness. Kim invited the children to sample the edibles and assured me that no pesticides were used on their property. If you looking for a homeschool evaluator who combines academic excellence with common sense, and who has a genuine heart for children and families, please do give Upattinas a call!

This coming school year, we’re switching to K12, with Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School as our local anchor school. My hope is that the prepackaged, goal-oriented program, and activities organized by someone else besides me , will streamline our schooling and make for more cheerful school days. We will still continue our family devotions (we are currently going through the Shorter Catechism and its proof-texts as a guide) as a Biblical education is important to us. Although the curriculum itself is secular, our children will still be at home and we will certainly have the opportunity to discuss materials together as a family as they are being taught.

The big news for this summer is that Tom will not be going to Afghanistan. Although he had his weapons training, a bazillion immunizations, and dog tags made, a botched filling from Japan kept him from being deployed. It’s absolutely bizarre and strange to have to regroup after having gone through such extreme mental and physical preparation, but the door was clearly slammed shut. The kids and I had planned to go to Indiana for three months while Tom was away, so we are regrouping as well. However, I can’t be happier. Tom was laughing today in the living room, and his laugh, as always, is the kind that makes everyone come running in to see what is so funny. I’m thankful he’s home.

Our house is still for sale, after nearly ten months. While it passed inspection and is approved for rental by the City of Coatesville, renting it out would not provide the down payment needed for the purchase of a new home. God is gracious, though. Last week, Tom’s boss gave the “okay” to work remotely from Pennsylvania. He will not have to be in D.C. as frequently. Hopefully, without having to pay out-of-pocket for gasoline and hotel expenses, we’ll be able to replenish some of our savings as well as pay off the necessary repair of our front porch.

Recently, we started cracking down on kids’ chores in our home. Lack of self-discipline is one of my biggest sin areas, and post-chore inspection as well as keeping the kids on schedule for chores is pretty grueling for me… so much, that I have a goal-defeating habit of doing all the chores myself, when I should be holding kids accountable for their work. After about two weeks, though, it’s paying off. The work ethic in our home is improving, and I’ve also noticed that the kids are taking care to make less mess, as they know that it will increase the amount of time it will take for them to be done. Tom pointed out that clearly defined chores help the kids to know when they will be done, vs. a never-ending ambiguous sorta-list that changes every day. This morning, my friend Perry reposted Jay Adam’s confessional pray on discipline, and it choked me up a bit. (I never did make it all the way through Elisabeth Elliot’s book Discipline: The Glad Surrender (because it was too painful to read!) but I’m thinking I should probably pick it up again.)

After a recent ear infection, we discovered that Aiden is allergic to penicillin. He was a trooper as he endured a terrible head-to-toe skin rash that lasted for nearly two weeks.

I, too, had a fun little medical scare. After a physical where I mentioned irregularities in my cycle, a complex ovarian cyst, which had solid mass and fluid build-up, showed up in an ultrasound. I’ve never received a call so quickly with results as I did from that ultrasound, along with the insistence on getting an MRI to determine if the cyst was malignant. What an ordeal, and relief to hear the results. Not only was it benign… the cyst was just plain gone. I’ve had my share of issues with my crazy body, and that doesn’t even include my pregnancies! I’m thankful that I’m okay.

Speaking of pregnancy, I’m excited to be teaching Bradley Method natural childbirth classes again this fall. This week, I updated my affiliate website. I love and teach the Bradley Method because it prepares the body for an optimal birth. For four out of five of my pregnancies and births I used the Bradley Method. After seeing excellent results first hand, I’m quite passionate about helping others to have good birth experiences. If you know of a natural-birth minded expectant couple, please do send students my way!

I’ve also been asked to do some tutoring in writing for students who could use a little nudging. The age group will be tweens. Again — feel free to send students my way! I love to help people learn to express themselves through writing.

In other news, I now have a gym membership and have been going several times a week. I’m getting faster (15 minute mile down to nine minutes!) and stronger and it feels really good.

Last weekend, we went to Penn Lake and had some quality R&R with our extended family. One of the highlights was floating on the lake, tethered to an large booze-filled cooler, with 20 other women. Oh the conversations! What fun!

Finally… if you love apples, you need to make a Whiskey Apple Crumble (preparation process photo shown above) with the recipe from Bubby’s Homemade Pies. It’s the kind of dessert that inspires a backyard party with friends.

Well… the motorcycle is done being inspected. Time to go pick it up.

I’m still here.

You are loved.

Spring Cleaning? 5 Tips for Managing Toys

With five children, we have plenty of toys in our house. I know first-hand how overwhelming the toy mess can be!

In my post at RealZest, I share five of my best tried-and-true toy tips we’ve been using for years that will help keep your home clean and keep kids from flitting endlessly from one toy to the next!

Speaking of messes, I also offer an accountability challenge for parents.

Here’s an excerpt:

Toys are not fun when they’re all over the house. If you’re stepping on green army men, threatening to sell wayward dolls on eBay and are using items like daddy’s lighter as a body doubles for game pieces, the toys have taken over.

Your children’s toys aren’t evil, they’re just a little misguided.

Here are five ways to manage toys in your home so that they feed your children’s imaginations and not your trash cans.

What are your best toy-management tips? Be sure to leave them in the comments over at RealZest. I look forward to interacting with you there!

God is Everywhere


My children were in kitchen, washing dishes and having a theological discussion on God’s omnipresence.

Micah, four years old, said, “I’m standing on GOD! I’m sitting on GOD!”