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When the Write Door Opens -Matthew 7:7

God's lessons to a writer, teacher, wife, and mom

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Quit with the Resolutions!

I’ve never been great at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve always tried, but either I make goals that are far too unreasonable, or I forget about them all together. So this year, I’m determined to be realistic and prayerful. This past year I read a devotional that has been such an encouragement to me.

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My former principal, Tonya Burns gave this book to all of the elementary teachers for our morning devotions at Calvary Christian School. Honestly, I was annoyed. This was my first year at the school. We had just moved to town, after living in Tennessee for nearly 10 years. I had to start all over creating lesson plans for a curriculum I had never taught. I was driving an hour each way to school since we hadn’t found a house and were living with my in-laws. I didn’t get home until about 5:30/5:45, and by the time I finished cooking dinner (or eating bologna sandwiches), helping my 9 year old with his school work, playing with my 3 year old, getting them in bed, and doing my work for my classes the next day, it was usually midnight or later. And here I was given another assignment? Homework?!

Thankfully, the Lord knows the plans He has for me (Jer. 29:11), and He knew I needed just one more thing to do.

I know you will read countless resolutions and ideas for the new year, and like me, you will probably just skim over or scroll through most of them, paying little attention to the content. But if you are a woman, a mom, a young lady who feels like you are stuck in a blender, watching life whirl around you, then stick with me for just a few minutes.

She Did What She Could are the five words that Jesus spoke to the company visiting the house of Simon. His statement was in defense of Mary pouring the oil from her alabaster jar and anointing Jesus shortly before his death. She didn’t adhere to the rules of propriety for that day. She payed no attention to the criticism of the others. She was determined to do something for Jesus, something personal, to give him something that she had, something that meant a great deal to her. There were many things she could have done, but she did what she could, and Jesus exonerated her for it. Mark 14:9 states that…”wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Wow.

As women, we think we have to do everything…every-single-thing…by ourselves, with full make up on, looking like a perfect Pinterest mom. We think that if we can’t do it all, we are nothing, and we have failed. I have struggled (and still do) with this, especially over the last two years. We have been through crazy transitions, and my candle has been burning at both ends. Well, actually, my candle is a melted wad of wax, puddled on the floor by now. Honestly, I have no candle.

As a result of this, I had a major wake-up call. It was the last day of school before Christmas Break, and I was driving home with my two boys. We were excited to start our Christmas vacation. I had been staying up until 1 am that week, trying to get lesson plans in, research drafts graded, presents wrapped, etc. My husband had encouraged to get in bed earlier, but I wouldn’t listen. I had to do everything, right? It wasn’t just school stuff. I had laundry, cooking, baking, kids, packing for our trip to Tennessee to see my parents before Christmas, and why would I want to ask for help? I had pushed my devotional far back in the shelf, forgetting about only doing what I could.

mirrorAs we neared home, I fell asleep. I crossed left of center and woke up with my van facing square at an oncoming mailbox. I jerked the wheel in time to (mostly) miss the mailbox. I hit it with my mirror, shattering the glass. It was only a mirror I lost, but seeing my two little boys’ shocked faces in the back seat reminded me of what I could have lost that day.

So, my New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is that I will “do what I can,” and I will leave the rest in God’s hands. I may disappoint people, may cause others to see me as an “undedicated” Christian or teacher. I may even get reprimanded by some for not meeting deadlines. I may have a dirty house (I will. I’m sure) or a basket of laundry that needs folded (or 2). I may not be able to create wonderful dinners or lesson plans that will award me Teacher of the Year, but I will do what I can to take care of my family and to serve the Lord. I may not be able to provide world peace, but I can get up 30 min. earlier to provide a more peaceful morning for myself and my boys (My husband has just fallen over in shock.). I may not be able to hit a home run in every subject I teach for the day, but I could pick one lesson and make it memorable for my kiddos. Do you see how doable this is?! We can do it! We can’t do it all, but we can do something, right?!

Do what you can and let the Lord work in and through you.

I encourage you to read She Did What She Could, but if you aren’t able to, at least read Mark 14 and determine to do what you can to serve the Lord.

In the next few weeks, please share any any opportunities you may have to do what you can for the Lord and for others. I would love to hear how the Lord is using you. You can post your comments on this blog or in the comments on my Facebook Author page.

Also, make sure you sign up for my newsletter. I just sent out my December issue yesterday, revealing some exciting news about the sequel to A Light in Bailey’s Harbor, A Light in Cana. Click here, if you are interested in signing up.

If you’ve not read or reviewed A Light in Bailey’s Harbor, please click the picture below for more information.

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Have a blessed New Year’s!

Bethany

 

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Merry Christmas (in July)!


I'm sure you can hear the rusty squeak as you scroll through the page to read this! It's been way too long since I've blogged, but I decided that today was the day. I wanted to share this fun day we had, thinking some other moms may want to spring for a similar day before July (and the summer 😭) ends.

My three year old loves The Polar Express, so I thought we'd use that theme.


I used a coffee can and some dowel rods for the "Nang, nang," as my three year old calls it (you know, when it goes up and down it goes, "nang, nang, nang…).

Painter's tape for the track and aluminum foil for the ice the Polar Express has to cross over. This is Cole's favorite part. He loves to slide his train all over the "ice."

The track leads to the North Pole.

(Pringles's can, duct tape, and a tennis ball- tooth pick holds the ball to the lid.)

Although the Christmas tree is a little smaller than the one in the movie (😉), it worked. Of course, the boys did get a little present. It is "Christmas," after all.

I also used white poster board and markers to make it look like it snowed. I printed off the picture of the Polar Express, too.


I just used chocolate milk for cocoa.

This was a captain's hat. I printed off a logo and taped it on.

The tickets were free on Pinterest (Keepin' It Kool In Kinderland). I accidentally forgot to change the page layout, so mine were a little smaller than I wanted. The boys didn't care, though. I also left my hole punch at school. I was so sad. Cole loves to punch holes and pretend he's the conductor.

It was a hit!!

We ate our breakfast and watched the movie.

Cole kept returning to the tree. He was mesmerized by it. He'll have fun with the real Christmas tree this year😊.

We ended our party by playing in the "snow" (rice and pouring supplies). This ended up being my older son's favorite thing. We used some STEM skills, and this really turned into a great lesson. After accidentally ricocheting rice EVERYWHERE, he figured out a better angle, height and slant, so that the rice poured into a funnel (not in picture) and slowly onto the green bin lid.

I hope some of this will inspire you to have some fun with your kiddos this hot July!

So, Merry Christmas (in July) to all, and to all a good night day!

First-Time Geocachers

 

imageWe were so excited to begin our adventure in Geocaching!! I had never heard of it (guess we are behind, because others I had talked to had heard about it 😏). Thanks to a friend of mine in Tennessee, who ran across some great resources to get us started, we found our first “swag” or treasures today!

First, some simple background…

  1. Geocaching: A world-wide treasure hunting experience that you can get involved in right where you live! Click here to watch a 1:15 clip on YouTube and get a little glimpse into the basics of geocaching: Basics in Geocaching
  2. Swag: The treasure you receive and leave for the next hunter.

Tools: 

(From the research I’ve done on YouTube, you can really get into this thing, but we are keeping it simple right now.)

  1. A MUST–Smart phone (or GPS) The app we used on my iPhone was awesome! image This App tells you the last time the treasure was found, lets you log in your find, keeps track of the ones you’ve done, etc. And it’s free!
  2. Flashlight, pen/pencil to sign the log book, shoes for light hiking (or heavy, depending on your adventurous spirit) and trinkets or “swag” to exchange.
  • Ideas for swag: Think unique, hand-made, non-expensive, Oriental Trading      Company, even a great opportunity to have your kids clean out their rooms and gather (nicely, slightly used) items that they could trade.
  • Finger puppets, special coins, matchbox cars, glow sticks, rings, etc.
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This isn’t a great picture, but this little guy was made from a tiny fuse (like from a car) and some wire. My son, Carson, loved finding this unique treasure in the first cache we found today!

And here is our return “swag” or treasure that we placed back inside:

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This is a penny we rolled and flattened at Metamora, a historic 1800s canal town in Indiana.

One last “tool” we took with us:

3. A big, strong man (or husband, in my case). Where we went wasn’t scary, but some can be in the middle of nowhere, so make sure you’re careful!

Our second geocache site:

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This is the oldest Baptist Church in Indiana. You can actually go inside it,  although it was a little creepy to me.

 

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It was very hidden. I was standing right by it and didn’t see it. Thank goodness for the App and for Carson’s young eyes.
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This time we didn’t take the swag. We just signed the log and left it for the next person.

So, hopefully you get an idea how fun, easy and super exciting this can be! You can do it anywhere and everywhere. We were actually just going to eat at our favorite pizza place in Brookville, and I decided to get on the App and check and see if there were any locations around us, and Voila!! (“Whala,” for those of you who had no idea it was spelled like this, oops!). It would also be a fun thing to do when you’re on vacation or in another area visiting family. Who doesn’t like a treasure hunt?

The ways you could use Geocaching are seemingly endless! My mind has been reeling about how you could even use this in the classroom. Challenge your kids to see how many geographical areas they could cover over the course of a school year, or if your students are more local and don’t travel beyond the city much, see how many different locations could be mapped just in that city, since there are Geocaching sites in the city as well as in natural settings.

I would love to hear back from anyone who decides to go Geocaching! Post pictures, share experiences, etc. Happy hunting!!

And by the way, when you’re finished running all over finding treasure, you may want to just sit back and relax with your Kindle and a great book! And if you do, I have just the book for you, too! A Light in Bailey’s Harbor, of course, for only $.99 this weekend on ebook! Just click on the picture below.

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Don’t forget you can send a copy to your Mom for Mother’s Day. Just click on the Kindle picture above and then click on the button to the right of the screen where it says “Give as Gift.”

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

 

 

Our Starry Night

Do you ever have a tiny, flash-of-a-moment where you realize this is why you are a mom? I know, I know. If you are like me, these moments may come very few and far between. Lately, most of my “mom moments” are not ones that should ever be typed out for the world to see. They are more like the hidden camera moments they show on Dateline, where you see them and say, “I would never do that or say that to my children.” Yeah, right you wouldn’t. You already have. I know you. You’re a mom.

Anyway, let me get back to my good mom moment. I’m sharing this, because I’m determined to dwell on the positive. I could fill a zillion blogs with the negative, but I thought you’d rather be lifted up on this beautiful Saturday. And who knows, you may want to go out and have a Starry Night of your own.

So, I have to first go back a few months. I believe it was late summer, when the meteor shower was in full swing. My son and I were planning to start Apologia Science Exploring Creation With Astronomy for his Science “class” for second grade. We were excited about beginning it, and I had been researching different ideas to get a jump start with the Space ideas. I heard about the meteor shower. It wasn’t going to start until late in the evening.

At first, like a reasonable mom would think, I decided that it would just be too late and he needed to get in bed. I reasoned that Cole (his little brother) would be in bed and may wake up and need me, or even that we shouldn’t be outside after dark. It was dangerous, right? I mean my husband was out of town and with the cows mooing, the horses neighing, the wind whispering through the pines and a zillion stars shining in the country darkness overhead…

Ok, ok, of course we had to do it.

I sprung the idea on Carson, as I began gathering blankets and couch cushions. I remember his eyes growing as round as the planets we’d soon be studying. Stay up late? Lay outside on the couch cushions? Under the stars? He was definitely seeing the vision.

I’ll never forget that night. It’s one of those nights where you just think, yep, all is perfectly right with the world tonight.

I still get teary-eyed as I think about laying out there on our deck on those cushions, listening to my 7 year old ooh and ahh over the falling stars. We counted 20 that night. That was our goal, we told ourselves, before we would go in. The most memorable one that night went from the western sky completely across to the east, burning the entire way. It even made the night a little brighter.

I think about that night when I’m struggling with home schooling, because my almost 2 year old is painting himself with baked beans from lunch. I try to remember that time is flying by so fast, and I that I must slow down and enjoy those little flashes of light before they just pass me by.

That starry night was almost a year ago. Amazing that it could be a year.

Almost a year later, and last night we had another starry night. It was only a few minutes, a few billion stars, my son and me, and an iPad (I know. The iPad doesn’t sound very poetic, but we have to go with the times, right?). I had downloaded the app- SkyView Free for my iPad, and my son and I were excited to try it out. (Yes, I am behind. This app has been around for a few years, but we had never thought much about it, until we began our astronomy study.)

So, we went outside together and began to hold it up to the sky. Let me tell you, the background music it plays is enough to bring you to tears. You feel like you’re in a heart wrenching moment in one of the Star Wars movies. It’s just very inspiring, so make sure you have your sound turned up. Carson and I were so amazed! It showed exactly where the planets were and the constellations, and even connected the dots of the constellations, giving the actual illustrations of Orion, Ursa Major, and The Crab. We had been studying these and how to identify them. Carson was even able to find the Little Dipper and the North Star.

But the moment that stood out, was when we saw Jupiter. Yes, it was just a bright speck of light, but Carson turned to me with eyes wide and said, “Mom, I can’t believe it. We just stood here in Pawpaw’s yard and saw the real Jupiter, that God made.” He’d never admit it now, but his eyes were glossed over. He had gotten teary-eyed, coming face to face with God’s amazing creation.

And of course, now I’m teary-eyed, because it hit me. This is why we, as moms, dads, and grandparents, do what we do and teach what we teach. We pour the Bible stories, the scriptures, the Golden Rule, the life-lessons into our children and hope and pray that it all sinks it. We pray that they “get it.” We pray that when they come face to face with the Creator of the universe and all his awesome power and might, they will stand in awe, realizing He is also a God who is personal enough to give them a glimpse of Jupiter and pictures he designed for them in the starry sky.

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:  (Amos 5:8)

Love is…(according to two kindergarteners)

What is love to you? I dare say the answers would surprise all of us. Why? We think differently, value separate ideas and live in unique ‘worlds,’ so it makes sense that what causes one person to feel loved may not even bring a smile to another person’s face. It’s interesting to think about, isn’t it?

I love the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. You’ve probably read it or at least hear of it. His theory is that each of us respond best to one or more of these five types of love languages–words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. And if you are high-maintenance (not that I am–don’t ask my husband) you may respond to all of the above.

Obviously, we know that men and women are usually on opposite poles with this topic. I guess this is why we have so much miscommunication. We try so hard to love each other the way we feel loved.

One of my love languages is words of affirmation. I like to hear a “Thanks,” or a “I know you worked hard to…” when I’ve accomplished something. I guess it just makes me feel loved to know someone appreciates what I’m doing or how hard I’m working.

When Chad and I were first married, I began loving Chad in this love language. “You did a great job with the quarter-round molding on the floor.” or “That’s a great paint job.” He finally looked at me with a face of embarrassment and whispered, “I don’t need you to be a cheerleader. You’re embarrassing me.” What I saw as love was actually embarrassing him.

I found out that his love language was/is acts of service–remembering to pick up the dry cleaning, making his favorite meal, etc. In my mind, whether I completed these tasks or not was not a big deal, but I found out that they were things he valued and made him feel loved.

Children have different love languages, too.

Carson’s favorite thing to do with his dad is work out in the garage. Any time he writes in Chad’s birthday card or writes him a little note he’ll mention something about how he loves to do jobs with him in the garage. He views this time as love. I’m not sure if it’s the acts of service or the quality time, but working with Dad is the ‘love of his life.’

So, this brings me to the picture at the top of this post. This was a drawing that a friend of mine sent me a picture of. Her grand daughter had it in her ‘special things.’ Carson drew this when he was in kindergarten. It just cracked me up. It is a perfect illustration of Carson’s love language. Love to him is working side by side on a traffic light high above the road in a cherry picker. What could be more romantic?

The funny thing is that I remember seeing the drawing that Addie had given Carson in return. I wish I could find it, but we couldn’t. I remember it clearly, though, because of the sharp contrast between it and Carson’s. Addie’s was full of colorful rainbows joining frilly red and pink hearts. She had written, “I Love You, Carson” in curly cue, fancy letters.

I began to think these two were on to something. Oh, how much simpler life could be, if we would be as direct with each other as Carson and Addie. “Listen, Pal, you need to love me with frills, rainbows and hearts. Got it?”

But of course, God knows we need balance. We need a help-meet, a partner. I guess it’s good to remember that love isn’t always frills, rainbows and hearts. Like Carson’s drawing, sometimes love is work-truck tough. It’s hard work, but the work is so much sweeter working together, side-by-side.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow…” (Ecc. 4:9 & 10)

 

 

 

 

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When the Write Door Opens -Matthew 7:7

God's lessons to a writer, teacher, wife, and mom

Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss

God's lessons to a writer, teacher, wife, and mom