Friday, December 28, 2007

Five kids and Peace

Five Kids and Peace
Written by Elisabeth Elliot

The house was large, white, set well back from the street, and surrounded with lawns, gardens and beautiful big trees--the sort of place that could easily keep a full-time gardener busy. It was nearly suppertime of an autumn afternoon, and as my hostess, who had met me at the airport, took me through the side door and into the kitchen, I could smell beef stew and wood smoke, just the sort of things I wanted to smell in a place like that. We went through a large hall with a beautiful staircase and into a small sitting room where a fire burned and three boys were sprawled prone on the floor, two of them playing a game, one reading.

"Boys, I want you to meet Mrs. Leitch." All three were on their feet at once, coming toward me to shake hands. Not only were they not reluctant or surly, they acted as though they were sincerely glad to see me.

After I was shown my room I joined Arlita, my hostess, in the kitchen to help with supper. She set about making biscuits while I cut up apples for Waldorf salad. A few minutes before supper was ready a couple of the boys appeared and in no time had set the table, poured the milk, carried in the food.

The dining room had an elegant fireplace and mantelpiece, a bay window filled with plants, and an enormous round cherry table. Joe, who is a doctor, sat opposite the fireplace with his wife at his side. I sat across from them and between us the four sons and one daughter, ages nine to sixteen. We all clasped hands for grace. Conversation ranged from schoolwork, the church, the neighbors, the old house a few blocks away where I used to live, to mathematics and the meaning of a passage of Scripture. All participated. All also took it upon themselves to see to the comfort of their guest, passing me the biscuits, the jam, the salt, asking if I'd have another bowl of stew, filling my water glass. It seemed that each child understood that he was on the entertainment committee. The fact that I was a contemporary of their parents did not absolve them of gracious responsibility. They were even eager to look after me, eager to hear what I had to say.

The dining room doesn't have an observation window with one-way glass to which I can take certain parents I can think of to observe this model family, seated around the cherry table, alert yet relaxed, disciplined yet hilarious, attentive yet at ease. And of course the family would object very strenuously to anyone's holding them up as a model. Yet they are. All families, in the last analysis, are models--of something. Some of cosmos, that wonderful Greek word which signifies order and arrangement. Some of chaos, its opposite--disorder and confusion.

At the end of the meal everybody sang. I can't remember what gospel songs they sang, but I remember the hearty way they all joined. Then Joe read the Bible. They talked about what it meant. The youngest son was asked first to explain what he thought it was all about and was then challenged, corrected and encouraged by siblings and parents. Joe asked for prayer requests and each child thought of somebody he wanted prayed for--a schoolmate who seemed hungry to know God, a Jewish lady whose husband had died, a kid on drugs. When the prayers were finished Joe and Arlita and I went to the sitting room to talk by the fire. All was quiet. I was dimly aware of movement in the other rooms--the table being cleared, dishes washed. Later I heard a piano and a flute. People were practicing, homework was undoubtedly being done, but all of it without strife, without one interruption to the parents who, so far as I noticed, had issued no instructions to anybody when we got up from the table.

Later in the evening I noted the stillness.

"Are the kids in bed?" I asked.

"What time is it?" Arlita said.

"10:45.''

"Then they're in bed. Usually we say goodnight to them, but occasionally when we have company they don't come down."

This almost took my breath away. I've visited in a good many homes where the going-to-bed routine takes the better part of the evening, with wheedling, threats, pleas, prolonged negotiations and eventual capitulation. How, I wanted to know, do you do it? Such order, such peace, such fun as everyone seemed to have, and such smooth running of oiled wheels. I grew up in a family where the same things could have been said, but that was another generation, another day. Walking still occurred to people as a possibility if they had to get somewhere, and it was still acceptable simply to sit on the porch some evenings and not go anywhere. So how, in this day and age, did Joe and Arlita do it? They looked at each other as though the question had not arisen before. Arlita smiled.

"Well..." she hesitated, trying to think how they did do it. "I'm sure we did just what you did. We decided how we wanted it to be and then we did it that way. Isn't that right, Joe?"

"That's right. In fact, we decided before the children were born how we wanted things to be. The going-to-bed business, for example. I don't want to hate my kids, and if I had them in my hair all evening, if I had to fight to get them down and fight to get them up again in the morning, I'd hate them. So after they've reached eight or nine years of age we don't tell them when they have to go to bed. We tell them when they have to be at the breakfast table. We give them each an alarm clock, and if they know they have to be washed, dressed, combed, in their right minds and in their places at 7:30, they soon figure out for themselves when to go to bed and when to get up." It worked. Next morning, which was Saturday, the children were downstairs to do their appointed tasks. At 7:30 we sat down to sausage, fried apples, scrambled eggs, coffee cake, orange juice and coffee. Arlita had not cooked the breakfast, the kids had. They had organized things so that the whole job was done in a quarter of an hour or so. The table was set, the food on it, hot and appetizing, on time. Does the system ever break down? I wanted to know. There are lapses, Joe and Arlita said, and privileges sometimes have to be withdrawn, but there's a lot of camaraderie in doing the jobs, and everybody likes to see it work. I had never seen a more beautifully ordered home, and neither had I ever seen a better-adjusted, more likable and outgoing bunch of kids. There must be a connection.

A house the size of theirs needs a lot of maintenance. Nobody comes in to cook, clean or garden. The whole family works. A list of special jobs is posted every so often--woodcutting, window washing, floor waxing, the sort of jobs that aren't done every week--and the children sign up for whatever they're willing to tackle. Then each child makes out a three-by-five card for each job and puts down the time he spent at it. The card is then submitted to a parent who inspects the finished task and signs the card if he approves the quality of the work. If he does not sign it, the child does the job over on his own time. Cards are turned in at the end of the month and the children are paid the going rate. With the money he earns, each buys his own clothes, except for the youngest, who puts half his money in the bank against the day when he too must take the responsibility for buying clothes.

"We're all working for each other this way," Joe said, "each taking responsibility as he's able. They're not paid, of course, for daily jobs like bedmaking and tablesetting and dishwashing. But last month we paid for 125 hours of 'special' jobs."

Stravinsky in his Poetics of Music refers to "the anguish into which an unrestricted freedom plunges me." Unrestricted freedom--anguish. Their opposites, discipline and serenity, characterized the home I've described. But it took thought. It took vision. It took courage to lay the burden on the children, strength to support them in it, humility to submit to the rule of life, and an ear tuned to a Different Drummer from the one the world hears.


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A Daddy and his princess.....Two of my favorite people in this whole world

Friday, December 21, 2007

Good-Bye to the Last Old cowboy






It is with a heavy heart that I post this tonight. My father-in-law died in my husbands
arms tonight at 6.20..He did CPR on him until the ambulance arrived but they pronounced him dead on the scene.I have always called him Papa Bear because he
he has a scruffy look about him and a deep voice. So naturally his grand-kids also called him Papa-Bear. He was a man of his word. He still dealt with hand shakes and he judged you by the way you did business.
He was my weather man and my baby sitter (phone sitter) and he always answered his phone so you could always call him and talk. He LOVED his grand kids....He would say they were his name sake and he was very proud of all of them.
When one of the kids were sick he would call and say "how is the patient".
He knew Everything about being on a farm and having a garden. I called him for any problem I was having. He would always say "baby have I ever lied to you" and I would say "no sir" and he would say this is what I think.
I can't believe he is gone out of our life forever. I can't believe he wont knock on our door Christmas morning to see what all the kids got. This is something he did every year.. He also gave them 100.00 in gold coins because he used to say it was their treasure and he has continued to do this for the last 12 years.
He has not always been crazy about our descion to homeschooling or to have more children or to adopt Joseph but he started liking us homeschooling and he loved when we were going to have a new baby...he came around about our adoption to Joseph.
I will miss this man so very much..He has been a father to me in so many ways my own dad never was or never could be. He truly Loved me and was proud of me and the job I am doing raising his grand-kids.He told me this so often. He called me his "baby girl". I will miss knowing that when the clouds turn black that I can't pick up the phone and call "papa Bear" to ask how bad is it going to be? I will miss our phone conversations about the kids and I will miss hearing him laugh at the things wild man Cooper does..I will miss hearing him say I love you too......he always said it....and I know he meant it.
So Good Bye Papa Bear
you will be missed.

your daughter in law,
Robin

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ok I cryed all the way through this one..........

A Homeschool Grandma
Written by Mrs. Colleen Moeller

Note from the Hostess: Warning! Do not attempt to read this article without a box of tissues.

I miss homeschooling...

Nearly two years ago, we had the exquisite joy of graduating our "baby." Joy, yes, but what a bittersweet pang in our hearts to watch our youngest arrow fly.

It was an odd sensation, also feeling, in that final graduation ceremony, a loss of my identity and my peer group in one swoop. I WAS a homeschool mom.

I am now the woman you see in WalMart with the ridiculous look on her face. You'll find me standing over your cart, smiling like an idiot at your beautiful baby in the infant seat, or grinning at your happy toddler as he or she calls, "Look, Mommy!" as they ride past you on their tricycle at the park.

Recently, I was standing in a check-out line in a department store totally enraptured by the adorable antics of the cutest little red-headed boy as he "ooh-ed" and "ah-ed" over the little stuffed snowmen he was gently touching with one chubby finger as his beautiful mama and grandma waited in the next line. A clerk had just opened a new register, and she was attempting to get my attention (in vain) to let me know she could help me with my purchases. Our compassionate daughter, who is quite aware of my recent malady, gently tugged my sleeve and said, "Mom..." I looked up and got the message--so did my red face--I'm hopeless! I smiled sheepishly at the mature clerk and told her I'm suffering from "the Grandma bug." She returned my smile and said knowingly, "Oh,...I understand."

Some friends in our family bible study group recently had a baby girl. You guessed it--I'm totally gone! Thankfully, her dear mother says I'm "cute", and lets me enjoy her three children to my heart's content.

In the fall, I walk silently, slowly, down the "back-to-school" aisle and sniff packages of new crayons. It really is a heavenly scent, don't you think?

In my more sensible moments, I have taken account of the blessing that home education was to our family. I've found myself a bit misty-eyed as I dust the bookshelves. Just a glance at the Saxon shelf will cause a catch in my heart. But, I am grateful, so very grateful.

It is such a delight to me to read in magazines and newsletters about the lives of home-school families. I love the busy nature of your days, the sweet human moments of childhood, and the valiant womanhood of each home-school mom.

As I read about your early mornings of nursing, hugs from chubby cherubs, spilled cereal and milk, read-aloud times, Tupperware lid math and peanut butter sandwiches, I am filled with prayers of thanksgiving for you. How my heart rejoices with your daily victories.

Our experience was very brief compared to some of my courageous sisters who have homeschooled for twenty years and who may ultimately homeschool for forty years before the last arrow is flown from their quiver. I salute each of you, my beloved co-laborers. You are truly champions for Christ. God bless you.

Our youngest child was in second grade when we began homeschooling. He was such a delightful little guy with a big smile and wonderful hugs. He was so fun to teach and he absorbed knowledge like a sponge. I remember him working so hard on fractions. Then, in what seemed like two weeks later, he breezed through Saxon Physics. That seems so long ago...

That baby is now living in Texas--working as a graphics and web designer for Vision Forum. There are empty places at our dinner table, and we stay close through email, the telephone and occasional visits.

Our daily routine has become a ballet of six adult lives, intertwined yet separate, unique yet the same. The days are filled with partings and greetings. Often, these days, I find myself home alone. Silence is SO loud!

Those adult lives are also filled with purpose, perspective and promise. We love watching our treasured, faithful arrows seek and follow God's course for their lives.

It is a joy to observe the marks of character maturing from humble beginnings: the mark of compassion born out of a sister's chronic illness, the mark of patience born out of learning from a mom who was learning too, the mark of kindness born out of a picture colored and mailed to an elderly great-grandmother (it's still on her refrigerator door--ten years later), the mark of confidence born out of a pie baked to perfection by a trembling chef, the mark of creativity born out of the gift of careful economy because mom was not out there working at a job, the mark of love born out of God's very gracious gift to a quite imperfect family.

I think the most valuable lesson I learned as a homeschool mom was the one thing that could not be scheduled into a lesson plan. Life happens--and that's the best lesson of all.

Home education is filled with preparing young minds with knowledge and character, young lives with dedication and ability, young futures with hope and possibility.

But, most importantly, it is filled with the daily lessons of living together. If the books get set aside for a season because there is a new baby or serious illness in the family, or a crisis arises, education goes on. Our little ones watch every thing we do. Our lives are often reflected back to us in their eyes. It is a humbling, and powerful thing, to be molded into the image of Christ before our children.

May we always be mindful of how very fleeting these precious MOMENTS are with our children while they are young. May we spend less time worrying about the little annoyances of life and concentrate our efforts on the living of these brief heartbeats of time where we have the gift of being the instruments of God's hand; shepherding these young ones for a little while.

One thing I never realized in the middle of the diapers, spills, burps, giggles, books, math problems, research papers and polynomials, was that they would go past me so swiftly. If I had only known, I would have paid more attention!

If I had it to do over again, I would have dusted less, and sat on the floor and played with Legos more.

Regrets? I have a few, but I place them humbly and brokenly at my Father's feet and pray that He will restore that which the locusts have eaten. I rest in His sovereign grace and mercy. And, in the dear hope that my children will remember their mom and teacher with mercy too.

Joys? I have many. "I have no greater joy than to know my children walk with the Lord."

Hopes? Oh, boy! Do I? I'm still hanging out at curriculum halls. There are too many holes in this family's homeschool library for the next generation that need to be filled--one can never have too many worthy books, can they? Besides, this "grandma-wanna-be" is looking forward to snuggling up with a tiny trusting face to read-aloud Mother Carey's Chickens--again! You should see me in the children's book or toy departments in stores...it really is a sight!

Press on, dear mothers. Your beautiful, full days are precious in the sight of God. He will sustain you and guide you. May He bless you with eyes to truly watch them grow, ears to truly hear their laughter, hands to truly hold and serve, strong backs to truly carry the gift of today (remember, His burden is light), and strong hearts to one day let them go.

The rocker where I nursed our little ones stands idle in the corner of our bedroom, a baby quilt draped over its back. There is a tiny, petrified trickle of spittle on one leg--it just won't come off.

I look forward with great anticipation to the next generation, 'cause you see, someday, I am going to be a home-school grandma! Until then, I'll see you in the "back-to-school" aisle!

This article was updated on November 4, 2003


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"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." — Proverbs 31:10
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I read this on Jenny's blog and I loved it.

To love instead of hate
To smile instead of frown
To praise instead of grumble
To give instead of take
To give grace instead of criticism and judgment
To hope instead of despair
To cherish (time, energy, etc.) instead of waste
To see the glass as half full instead of half empty
To remember and think about truths instead of falsehoods
To dance instead of sit like a blob
To sing instead of croak
To bless instead of curse
To be patient instead of spastic and rushed
To be calm instead of frantic
To be kind instead of mean
To be real instead of fake
To persevere instead of giving up
To be humble instead of prideful
To be last instead of first
To be quiet instead of noisy
To be noisy instead of quiet (since there is a time for everything)
To be strong instead of weak (strong in my faith I mean, strong in my
defense of the Lord, and in my defense of my bride)
To be weak instead of strong (that is, when I am weak, He is strong)
To let go of instead of holding onto regret and guilt
To listen instead of always rambling
To listen to wise council instead of foolish or gossipy talk
To be compassionate instead of apathetic
To give second, third, fourth, fifth (etc.) chances instead of
hardening my heart
To have faith instead of sinking into a pit
To hold onto instead of letting go
To let go instead of holding onto
To surrender instead of trying to control
To ask "Why not me?" instead of "Why me?!" (Sassy has said this many
times)
To cry instead of trying to "be tough"
To serve an audience of One instead of serving myself and others
To be joyful instead of wallowing in self-pity
To be gentle with my words and actions instead of being quick and
harsh
To teach instead of preach
To see the blue sky instead of only the dark clouds covering it
To feel, see, taste, hear and smell Him in EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY
instead of, well…instead of NOT feeling, seeing, tasting, hearing,
smelling Him!!!!!
:-)

I

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Day of stinkies..

Ok girls, I've had one of those days you pray you don't have often..
Imagine this if you will. I'm on my way to take Jo to the surgeons office which is
an hour away. I manage to get all the kids dressed and in the car..
Everyone seems to be in pretty good moods. I'm praising the Lord and just doing
all the things I should be doing. Talking real sweet and being real patient.
I'm thinking this six kid thing is a breeze........and then....it begins
15 mins before Joseph's Dr. apt Joseph starts crying and will not stop..
Channie is crying and somewhere in the back of all of that they say Cullen
is saying "mama" but I promise I did not hear his tiny voice..
I start to smell something horrible. I figure out it's Joseph. He had eaten
a ton of fruit yesterday and yes it came through today..All over his nice clean
clothes. EVERYWHERE.........Channie who is cutting 4 eye teeth (you mama's out there
you know how bad those eye teeth are) has a sweet brother lean up and say "mama
Channie pooped and it's bad....Tay and I are still in control...She takes one and I take the other. Then I hear from the same sweet brother that informed me of Channie's
accident that his brother on the other side has peed in is pants. He is two..
I say why didn't you tell mama and Coop said he did but you didn't hear him...
This is where I realize that having six kids is not a breeze no extra clothes so far from home and no prayers left...I call Scott almost crying and say What do I do.
His reply is " I'm glad I'm not there" well so much for thick and thin...He says cancel the apt and he will even do it for me.....Thank you honey...
I don't think I'll leave the house again EVER.........

Rob

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Look at that smile.



I had to share this picture of Joseph. He is really coming ALIVE right before our
very eyes. He is so sweet and loving....He smiles all the time and reaches for the
kids to give them hugs and kisses. You can just tell he is feeling better every day.
I'm so very thankful that the Lord brought this little man into our life...




“What is contentment? It is having a satisfied mind in any situation. It is finding inner satisfaction in God alone and in His provision for you. It is experiencing His peace and confidence in difficult times. It is consciously enjoying the fact that God is good, even when your circumstances are not.”

-Robert D. Jones

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fill Thou my life, O Lord, my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e'en the praising heart,
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part.

Praise in the common words I speak,
Life's common looks and tones,
In intercourse at hearth or board
With m y beloved ones,
Enduring wrong, reproach, or loss,
With sweet and stedfast will,
Loving and blessing those who hate,
Returning good for ill.

So shall each fear, each fret, each care,
Be turned into a song,
And every winding of the way
The echo shall prolong;
So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free,
But all my life, in every step,
Be fellowship with Thee.

Do you know how hard it is to get six kids to look at the camera at one time???






Our Family wishes your family a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dr Visit report....



We took Jo to his Pediatric Cardiologist today for his one week check up.
They were amazed......They said he was doing wonderful. He is smiling and
reaching..He has changed colors he is darker...The Dr. said he was probably
pale from the heart condition..(I wonder if I can get my money back)LOL...
He is a real trooper....
The only complaint I have is SLEEP.....Every since the surgery he wakes up every couple of hours just fussing....The Dr. said it is because of the by-pass machine.He said it really messes with their bodies for awhile....
He also told us that Jo couldn't be around crowds for 4 weeks......He said if he gets
sick it will be lots of blood work to determine if it's his surgery or just a virus.
So we have to stay at home for the next month....I'm trying to have a good attitude about this because I'm on the road ALOT and we usually stay busy during Christmas as everyone does but instead we get to stay at home and cook and bond with our little boy and that is ok with me.....
Christmas has come early at our house..

The top picture is the other day at our house.
The bottom picture is when he was in Africa.
Can you tell a difference in his color?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cooking 101














My dear daughter Channie loves to cook. She wants to help you do everything and anything. I pray that this will help make her a good wife and mother one day.
She is our 5th child and what a true delight it has been to watch her grow into a little
girly girl.
She has the biggest brown eyes I have ever seen.
Everyone ask me if she is jealous of her little brother and I say not at all.
She shares with him and loves on him and calls him "bubba".
I'm so thankful God brought Channie-Mae into our life and I cherish this time I have with her growing her into a young lady who will want to be a wife and mother one day.
I pray she will serve the Lord with all of her heart and be the mother of lots of kids.......
I love you Channie,
mom

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