Patchwork Post {September 2021}

So much to share! I’m popping in with some various links, ideas, and news!

Rise and Worship Album

We’ve listened to this album countless times since Joshua brought it to our attention early this year. Refreshing, convicting, artfully done, worshipful, Christ-honoring. I want to fill our home with this kind of soul food.

An idea for children’s artwork

Children go through (sometimes lengthy) stages of wanting to create various types of art. What to do with all the masterpieces? You hate to throw them away, but can’t line all your walls with coloring pages held up by painter’s tape, either. (Side note: Painter’s tape does work well for temporarily hanging art work.)

I have ended up stashing the artwork papers in a “file” (using that term very loosely) and then going back to the collection on various occasions. Does someone need a letter sent to them in the mail? Or a birthday card? Do big brothers need a care package? We pull out the stash and look through. Such cries of delight as my young ones find treasures they had forgotten about. They select the perfect one, we write some words on it, and voila! Ready to go! Now to gather up the artwork spread out all over the floor…

~a small sampling of our current stash~

History Recommendation
In my February Patchwork Post, I recommended a history book. Unfortunately, I will have to retract that recommendation, since the denominational and doctrinal ideas ended up being just too distracting from the history we were setting out to learn.

Now THAT’S a fish!
Sammy has been fishing as much as he possibly can, lately. Here’s a 4 pound bass he caught while out with his Uncle Tim. (Uncle Tims are just the best. Everybody needs one– and we are blessed with one on each side of the family!)

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Pick up where you are and go forward

Look around at whatever God has given you. In front of you, beside you, in your hand. Do you know what these things are? Gifts, yes. But not just gifts, as if God is continually giving you birthday presents. All that you have can properly be called tools. Tools for what, you may wonder.

These tools are given to you for the purpose of building the kingdom of Christ in this world. Nothing should be an end in itself– if it is, it has become an idol in your life.

Pick up where you are, with what you have, and go forward. Build the kingdom. There is ground to take, there are enemies to be defeated. It won’t look the way you’d like, because building will always be messy and laborious. But take whatever you’ve been given (fresh tomatoes, a kitchen, good health, a ukelele, a dozen children…) and get busy building, for the glory of God. You have a part to play in this Grand Story.

Pictures from a special family day together, before our oldest two departed for the fall semester. Clockwise starting a bottom left– Micah (4), Annalise (6), Katie (17), Olivia (8), Sam (12), Joshua (21), Ethan (19), Toby (10), me, and Steve.

To the homeschool mom, as the year begins

As another school year comes into focus, I want to give you a heads up about something that often happens at this time of year. You may be experiencing it even as you are reading this post.

The school year is looming and plans are swirling in your head as you prepare for another year of educating your children at home. An overwhelming job, not for the faint of heart. You work at organizing, sorting, and getting all the things ready.

Then, out of nowhere, comes some unforeseen situation or challenge, something you never expected, something utterly discouraging…. leaving you feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut. The wind has effectively been taken out of your sails.

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Sharing the gospel with our children through family devotions

Q: I am taking a look and considering our schedules at home in light of promoting the gospel to our children. I was wondering what a typical day/schedule/routine looks like for you in summer and school year. 🙂 I know it sounds like a strange request, but I was curious seeing what you do…also especially curious on how you approach devotions with the kids.

A: Promoting the gospel to our children takes so many forms as it interweaves itself into our family life. All of Christ for all of life… a phrase that says so much (not original with me). But specifically for this post– family devotions! (I will try to answer the daily schedule question in another post… my answer to the devotions part is long enough for one post!)

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Fun Stuff We Love {June 2021}

Not just four products to share this time, but six!

From Jennifer: I love these microfiber cleaning cloths from Walmart. They are only 98 cents for two. These microfiber cloths are great for cleaning pretty much anything. The BEST thing about them is they can be used to clean windows. This was a revelation to me recently. No more wasting paper towels on windows. Window cleaner is also optional. A damp/wet microfiber cloth followed by a dry microfiber will clean the glass just fine! 😱 How did I not know this sooner?

I recently discovered these bags. They are perfect for storing a loaf of homemade bread (which don’t really fit well in a ziplock bag). Also much cheaper than ziplocks. I got them to make up some goodie bags for an event and they worked well for that too. I always feel bad about throwing away ziplocks and so I try to wash them and keep them. These are more of a use and throw away type of item. Also good for keeping leftovers, etc.

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The crisis nobody is talking about (as deadly as the worst pandemic)

We are blessed with beautiful parks in Illinois. Every town here has them, and in general they are well-kept and inviting. We went up to one for Memorial Day. We wondered if we would find an open grill, but we needn’t have worried. These peaceful Illinois parks are sometimes a little too peaceful. Where are all the people? In particular, where are all the children?

This playground has tall metal slides, the kind I whizzed down when I was a child. It has a giant wooden “hamster wheel”… it goes around and around when you run inside it. The park has swings, basketball courts, a batting cage, lovely pavilion, knobby and knotty trees, a merry-go-round, monkey bars, softball field… you name it. It even has a pond where Sammy caught 27 fish. No joke! (No worries, he threw them all back.)

All of this, and almost no children running around.

All afternoon, it bothered me. This nice park in the middle of this quaint American town…. but no people? We saw about four people all afternoon (on Memorial Day, no less), until late in the afternoon a couple came with their little boy to fish, and sat beside the pond. Of course, they would do this at the exact time that I was making a fool out of myself trying to rescue Toby’s football out of the middle of the pond by creating waves with a giant plastic jug (but I did get the football out). 😄

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Remembering the Mothers

We sent off our oldest son, again, this morning. It never gets any easier. We all stood in a circle and held hands. I had my oldest son on one side and my youngest on the other. After the prayer two boys tried to barricade the door so the oldest one couldn’t leave. Tears were shed and my mother heart was happy and sad and worried and joyful all at the same time.

On this Memorial Day, I am remembering the mothers. Mothers who stood and waved and watched their boys go off– to war.

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7 Days of Supper Menus

With my older boys home (and the leaf back in our dining room table), meal prep has recently become even more of a focus for me than it was before. Also, Katie, who had been helping me with supper prep, is now away most evenings putting her cooking skills to work elsewhere, so I’m back to being the main cook again.

Here’s what we’ve been eating for our main meal each day, for the past week. All of these are tried and true crowd pleasers at our house. Feeding a family is such a big job, and it never ends. I hope this post (lacking in photos, but not in links and recipes) will give you some new ideas.

Friday: Summer Salad, Homemade breadsticks, Snickerdoodles
A summer salad is basically a chef salad made on a platter.

How I make a Summer Salad: I use a circular platter like a pizza pan. First I make a bed of lettuce, and then on top of that I start making rings of various toppings. I always boil eggs earlier in the day so they are ready to go as a topping. Some kind of meat topping is a must when feeding growing boys. Chopped chicken or ham are a good choice, or baby shrimp as a special treat. Other topping possibilities include: chopped tomatoes, celery, sweet peppers, carrots, nuts such as sliced almonds, cranberries, cheese, croutons or crushed buttery crackers. It looks so pretty when it’s finished!

Katie made the Snickerdoodles and they were exelente!

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Where children flourish

Anything created by God will flourish best wherever it is placed by God. Remove that created thing from where God placed it, and it will die (at worst) or not reach it’s full potential (at best).

“…the wise tried to see where God placed individuals in the natural order of things, the assumption being that since God is good, the environments that He puts things in naturally help them to flourish.” – C.R. Wiley

As we seek to raise a child so that he will thrive, not just survive, in this harsh world, we should remember where God placed the child to start with. The child is placed within the mother’s body first, and then in her arms, and then by her side– and all within a home and in a family. This placement has everything to do with allowing the child to flourish.

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Photo Post: Family travels

We recently took a week-long trek, first to see our boys over in South Carolina and visit their university, and then up to Virginia for our first visit since we moved away in 2019.

What a blessed and busy time we had! God knows exactly what we need.

So, here come some pictures! (I tried to not overdo it, I really did. But…)

This was actually a “trial run,” the day before we left. Checking our headphone set-up for a little on-the-road entertainment.
We’re off to see the big brothers!
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