Women Living Well challenges your priorities

I specifically chose this book to read and review as a part of the Booksneeze community because I thought it would be a great way to refocus for the new year. Courtney Joseph delivers an easy read and an encouragement to women to get back to the basics and to fill their lives with the priorities each of us are called to as women who are Christ-followers.
Because of her own tech-savy approach to life, I was encouraged by her words of wisdom about media and how it relates to our families. She quotes Proverbs 1:7 which says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Then adds, "The child who is loved and has a healthy fear of God will eventually be able to monitor his or her own media.” I enjoyed that section of her book the most. Although my family does not operate in many ways the way that her family does, there is sound information and words of wisdom in this book. Women Living Well will encourage women who desire to have a peaceful home, fulfilling marriage, and a purposeful approach to their everyday lives.


Why Homeschool?

IMG_8340  I have had a lot of questions as to why Todd and I decided to homeschool Sydney and Sean, especially with making the decision for Sean to come home in the middle of the year.  I thought is would be best to answer those questions here at cheval glass and allow for comments and discussion through this post.

I never saw myself as a homeschool mom. To be honest, the day I dropped Sydney AND Sean off at HHCA as a 5 yr old and 8 yr old was sad, but I did have that moment of "FREEDOM!" I enjoy my kids so much and I love being a working mom also.  It was a great year. I had time to myself and I had time to devote to some areas in my job that I really needed to give attention to that year. I took a sabbatical that year as well and got away. It was a lifechanging experience.

But I sensed in my heart in the first of 2013 that my daughter and I were drifting apart. Sydney is a female version of Todd. Sean is a male version of me. I don't think, respond, process, or in ANYWAY view life the way Sydney does.  It has been a wonderful and challenging experience to work at understanding her and how she views life.  She was having an amazing 3rd grade (Thank you, Mrs. Buck and Mrs. Atkins!) and was connecting in some ways academically that she had NEVER done before. But for me, our connection as mom and daughter was not something I was content with where it was and where my heart said it was headed.  Financially for our family, it was also a positive thing to only have Sean at HHCA.  I didn't talk to Sydney about this at all. Todd and I talked about it and prayed about it.

Then as Sydney and I were having dinner one night at Atlanta Bread Company after ballet, she says to me..."Mom, I would like to homeschoool. I would be ok with doing that."  What! I had NEVER told her that I was thinking about this!  That was the affirmation I needed from her (as only GOD can do!) that this was a good decision.  We started in August of 2013 and I was right. We needed to reconnect on SO many things and our Fall was the most AMAZING few months. There were tough days where I had to apologize and days she had to apologize. However, I cannot decribe what the gift of time with your child can do in your relationship with them.

I was actually suprised this was going so well this fall. My work schedule and spending time with her was actually working! However, things were not as great with "the boys." Sean was doing great at HHCA (thanks, Mrs. Boley!) and Todd was doing OK with taking him to school everyday and his own job and seminary. But as Todd and I talked about it, our days had changed to not really being the typical "9-5" routine. The ONLY thing that was like that was Sean being in school. Todd was doing seminary late at night and getting up to take Sean and I was seeing the toll it was taking on him.  We also saw some financial things in our future that concerned us about how "tight" we had been living to make everything work. Todd and I prayed about it and decided to go ahead and add Sean to the homeschool adventure as Todd finishes seminary and we accomplish some of our financial goals (Thanks, Dave Ramsey!)

One thing you have to understand about our family is that we make decisions that are based on what's best for the entire family.  We always keep in the individual in mind, but I have found after almost 20 years of marriage that this works best for us.  We all have to compromise and give so that the family as a unit can operate at its maximum potential. This is just the way we have decided to operate as a family.

We love HHCA. When God leads us, my kids will go back to school there.  We feel very strong about a God-view based eduaction.  What I discovered this year is HOW important is for me as the mother to be aware when the Holy Spirit leads me to do something.  It's not easy and it's scarry sometimes.  I'm learning more about trusting God than I ever have in my life. One day at a time.

We just completed our first week with both kids doing homeschool and it actually went better than expected. Sean misses his friends and I'm making a huge effort to give him opportunity to be with them as much as possible. In fact, they both have friends coming over this afternoon.  I don't homeschool them the same. I use different curriculum and different ways to motivate them. I will blog about that at another time. 

So there it is...why we made the choice. I ask for prayers as you think of us.  Feel free to comment here and ask questions.  I'm on this homeschool journey for as long as God leads my heart that this is what is best for everyone in our family. One day at a time...


"The Christmas Candle" shines bright

We all desire a glimpse of hope especially during the Christmas season.  Max Lucado shares a story of hope in "The Christmas Candle" that warms the heart and soul.  The legend of a candle that is touched by an angel every twenty five years is received with skepticism by the new minister, David Richmond, as he takes on his new congregation in the village of Gladstone. He meets a series of very interesting people in this village who are not very happy with his response to this important legend in the life of their village.

One of my favorite questions asked of Reverend Richmond by a parishioner is "The mystery of God unsettles us all, Reverend. But isn’t mystery where God works? If he does only what we understand, is he God?”  As the story unfolds, the new minister is confronted with his own crisis of faith in believing that God can do the miraculous as events of his past life intersect with events happening in the village of Gladstone. 

The Christmas Candle is a comforting read for anyone during the Christmas season. It encourages the person of faith to HAVE faith and never doubt or become callous to mystery of God in our lives. 

This book was reviewed as a part of Booksneeze with Thomas Nelson Publishing.

For Chesterton fans everywhere

I was introduced to this author, G.K. Chesterton, while living in NYC a few years ago and fell in love with his ability to say the profound in a few, well chosen words.  For me, this book is a great collection of some of his most famous sayings and pearls of wisdom.  

The Quotable Chesterton: The Wit and Wisdom of G.K. Chesterton is organized by subject and alphabetically. I liked this because as someone who is a part of a sermon writing team, this makes research of his quotes much easier to find.  Chesterton  blended his faith into all areas of his life. He did not segment his faith from all other areas.  This book helps you, the reader, to see that and if you are a person of faith, you find challenge and a little bit of "ouch" from so much of what he says. One of my favorite quotes is "It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it."

If you are not a fan of Chesterton and are not familiar with his work, this book may be a little hard to just pick and read through his quotes and sayings. However, if you are familiar with him as an author and find thought-provoking sayings very intriguing, this is a MUST for your library. Because as G. K. Chesterton says, " A room without books is like a body without a soul."  Add this to your library!

I enjoy being a part of the BookSneeze program and this was a great choice to read and share a review.


Thankful

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I'm thankful for...

  • a life partner who is willing to hold my hand through the ebb and flow of marriage.
  • my daughter's smile which changes my mood instantly.
  • my son's laugh because it's contagious.
  • my parents for all their prayers over my life & their role as grandparents for my kids.
  • my sisters for all the drama of "our lives" that continue to create memories I cherish.
  • my friends who "totally get me" and yet, still call me a friend.
  • my church and the spiritual family we have become.
  • the privilege of living on Hilton Head Island and enjoying God's creation in its natural form.
  • my Savior, my Friend, My Comforter, my Constant who never leaves me and reveals His love for me more each day.

Roots and Soil

Tree-roots  It's been strange for me to be away from cheval glass as much as I have been this past year. It's not that life has not been full of so many things I've learned and observed. I find myself microblogging now so much more through facebook and twitter...saying what I need to say in 140 characters and moving on.

Post-sabbatical, I find myself still refreshed from that time away last January. So much of what I learned about myself as well as my need for "spiritual loittering" still influence my decisions and my time.  This is the first "Pre-Christmas" season in a few years that I'm waking up NOW with excitement about our creative endeavors as a team and the musical offerings we will be sharing throughout the season. 

IMG_7333  I entered the world of homeschool this past August with my 4th grader. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I am, truthfully.  I thought by now I would be thinking something very different! The time with Sydney has been magical.  The conversation, the learning experiences, the weekend "field trip" to Atlanta to visit the Fernbank Museum, etc... I have learned SO much about my daughter that I know I would never have learned without this experience. She told me her favorite part of homeschool is her piano and voice lessons we do together. The joy of sharing music with her is hard to put into words. There is just something as an artist about enjoying music with your kids.  Sean also is taking piano lessons and is growing up fast into a "little Cynthia" as Todd says. His passion for soccer has opened the door for him to become a part of STORM Soccer Academy this year. He is learning so much skill and is a great team player.  

I see this new season of life as one of watching our roots going into good soil.  I see it in my marriage, my kids, in our ministry at HHICC, and in our community as we get involved on a much more committed basis.  I realized the other day that we have lived in the house we live in now longer than any other home in our 18 years of marriage! This is different and new - not boring or predictable. It is rich with experiences that come from roots gaining nutrients and good soil.

When I think of this season, I'm drawn to Paul's words to the church at Ephesus...

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."  - Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT)


Riding bikes and summer reading at the library...these are the two most vivid memories of my childhood summers. I did both with my kids today. I can't quite explain how much doing that with my kids today brought me back to being a kid myself. I love summer and I'm glad it's here!


40

Images  The number scares me a little. I knew today was coming but now that I have "officially" left my 30's... wow.  I spent sometime on my sabbatical in January wrapping my mind around this birthday. Honestly, I have seen too many friends and acquaintances not handle this one very well and I didn't want to presume I was immune to it.  

It's weird to think I have entered another decade...so much happened in my thirties.  I became a mom twice, our family moved to two different cities,  we helped plant two churches...I'm tired just thinking about it.  I look forward to enjoying the "fruits" of my 30's in my 40's.   Not that I expect life to slow down with a nine year old and a six year old, but there has been a lot of "planting" the last few years.   I look forward to the blossoms.

The one emotion that keeps coming to the surface today is gratefulness. Through all the highs and lows of my life, I am overwhelmed when I really think about all that God has done in my life and blessed me with through the years.  Two great parents, sisters, extended family...we actually enjoy spending time together still! My husband, my children, my ministry, my home and yes... I live at the beach.  The amazing friendships that I have through the years and the wonderful memories that I have.  God has provided for me every step of the way in so many ways...I'm spoiled and I know it.

I have a few things still on my "list."  Since Todd and I celebrated our 18th anniversary this week, we talked about our 20, 25 and 30th aniversary trips. That got me excited.  I have a passion to continue to create opportunities for artists to be "reconciled" back to the church and God.  I have some tangible ways I want to see that happen on the Island. My songwriting is something I want to look back at my 40's and say that I really went for it. I've written more this year than in the last 10 years and I just want to keep at it. I want to see my kids continue to pursue lives that make a difference. Make choices that count. I want to take them on their first mission trip outside of this country in the next few years. I want to live it more than I tell them "how" to live it.

I want my marriage to not be something I take for granted. I want Todd and I to fall more in love each and everyday and extend grace to each other more than we ever have in the last 20 years.

I want to play more and work less. Trust God more and stop trying to figure it out. Let circumstances unfold and see what God is teaching me that day. I really feel that I'm starting to find such beauty in the quiet, simple, marginal life that I have really tried to live since January.  The "not so fun" things I need to do... eat less sugar, walk three times a week without excuses, use my eye cream twice a day without fail...yeah.  That's enough.

So, I'm going eat cupcakes (thanks, Donna!) and enjoy my family today. Take a nice long walk with my huband.  Enjoy dinner tonight with the family at my favorite restaurant. And be grateful.

"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.  I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!  You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;  You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.  Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared  before I’d even lived one day." - Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)