Mary and Martha and humble pie

Mary and Martha and Me

When I Was a Turkey

Several years ago our family tried a Thanksgiving experiment.

Instead of buying our Thanksgiving dinner, we only priced it and sent the amount to a mission.

We then asked God to give us a meal from His own hand that we could see was especially from Him. In our minds, it had to be cost-free, although this wasn’t a demand—we simply decided to see what He would do about our commitment. We were willing to take whatever He gave….

I know, I know, God gives us the strength, intellect, and grace to be able to earn the money, drive to the store, and so forth.

But we learned something from letting go of it like this: He can also sovereignly give us the actual food itself, just because we are waiting upon Him. This caused us to be thankful toward God as Jehovah Jireh (our provider), rather than wondering what in the world He has to do with our celebration.

The experiment became a kind of tradition for a few years. Each year was different; it was not always turkey and stuffing. We had chicken, duck, venison, and my favorite, the smoked turkey that appeared one day while we were gone.

Meat was always the test for me because I did not consider the free things from our garden as “too hard” for God.

See what I mean?

I needed this.

Everything about cooking Thanksgiving dinner this way was a big adventure. We had to improvise, learning as we went. We felt, indeed we were, exactly like pioneers.

We pretended Good-Old-Days, but they were, in reality, very good days.

We certainly were excited about all sorts of food and I think we ate better. The meat often was not processed. We had honey instead of sugar. And we were so thankful. We couldn’t help it—it just flowed from all that was happening.

Another unexpected result came of the experiment.

We questioned the entire “Thanksgiving Tradition”.

  • Sweet potatoes did not have to be candied, did they?
  • Whipped topping didn’t have to be fatty.
  • Crab applesauce was as good as cranberry.
  • The chestnuts off of our tree were excellent in stuffing.
  • Squash pie tasted just like pumpkin.

We learned to take our local blessings, instead of exotic imported foods, and spread them out into a feast that gave glory to the God Who provides for His own.

And more blessings! 

In our excitement, we also forgot to be harried. I, at least, emerged on the other side of the wall that separates us from gently rejoicing in God. He seemed so near. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Most of the United States was celebrating a day that, when it was established, in purpose and practice, was truly Christian. Thanksgiving has no questionable past. It has traditionally had no worldly festivities attached to it. It is simply a day set aside for our Christian nation, by its Christian leaders, to give thanks to God for all His blessings.

go-your-way-eat-the-fat-and-drink-the-sweet-and-send-portions-unto-them-for-whom-nothing-is-prepared-for-this-day-is-holy-unto-our-lord-nehemiah-8-10-1Into that quiet beauty, I had often inserted the bustle of a worldly attitude.

Suddenly, His delightful indulgence was leading me away from my prideful ideas about meal preparation. How humbling it was to be learning at His feet, and yet, how glorious.

It doesn’t matter if you use the recipes you will find, on this site, for “your dinner”, or even if you go to someone else’s house for it. It doesn’t matter if you buy or raise the ingredients. But do learn to spend time before God. And truly thank Him. Every day.

______________________________

Katharine is a retired home educating mom who writes about all things “woman”, from a Godly viewpoint, here on this site, and at The Conquering Mom.  Her writing appeared in several magazines for 15 years, and she is currently working on several books. She loves to write, speak, teach, cook, garden, spoil her hennies, and watch old movies with popcorn.

writer, speaker, professional mom

Guesting Today!

Often when people ask me what I “do”, and I tell them I’m a writer, I feel a bit sorry for them because that information catches them so unprepared. Mercy, it’s awkward! It’s almost like when I used to answer that I was a home-school mom.

Oh, I’ve tried other titles: Retired educator is my favorite, for the “respect reaction” from inquirers, although one time I experimented with self-employed and had slightly wicked fun with the questions that ensued then, too.

Anyway, when I say I’m a writer, after they get over the initial shock, the reaction is usually delight and attraction.

It works on the days when you don’t want any complications in your path.

Today I guest post on the Arkansas Women Bloggers site, an honor I do not take lightly, because this remarkable promotional group takes women writers seriously (if they also blog about it.) It’s been fun to watch it grow and watch its founder succeed.

Although both of my sites have a “blog” element to them, and certainly did begin as Weblogs, I use them equally as traditional Websites, or even as archive sites, for connecting with home-educating women, and with women who find themselves unprepared for—or or even overwhelmed by—the sometimes uncomfortable or heartbreaking demands life has made on them.

There are hundreds of essays available via the search window right on this page, and also here, written to help, inspire, or delight women.

And there are several more, over at the Arkansas Women Bloggers site, including one written especially for today. I think you’ll love the delightfully charming photos of several of my ancestors.

Run on over there and enjoy it, Sisters, because I wrote it just for you.

Rest and relaxation

For the Rest of Your Life…

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Matthew 6:10

I used to feel a little guilty pulling that one out. I mean, there are plenty of Christians who pull Bible verses out of context, just to get what they want! Don’t need more of them!

But isn’t it true that quite often, we moms just would love a nap? Yep. And when Mr. Sandman is beating you around the head and shoulders with his sandbag, Bible verses about rest just seem so true!

So, pull, I would. I remember the first time I realized Jesus was telling his men to take a nap. Arrgh! I never wanted to be part of any Bible story more than that one. Well, unless it was walking on water . . .

But even that would definitely have to be after a nap!

Then one day I realized something about that verse. I realized it is a command . . . and OH, MY! did it work on my sense of self-worth!

The way the story goes, Jesus called his men aside and told them to rest because they’d not even had time to eat.

Yet the questions always come: How!  And will they let you?

Can you relate?! I certainly can!

Those hectic days when everything piles on top of everything else are exactly when we need to remember the command is to back off.  Of course, we cannot leave little ones unsupervised while we take a nap, but it is possible to slip into a restful mode and feel How to Get an Amazing Rest from a Crazy Busy Daythe refreshing that can get us through ’til the end of the work day.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. R is for RETREAT. No one will take you seriously if you keep on puttering in the kitchen or shuffling papers. If you don’t quit, you will never get there! Find an easy chair or couch or even a bed and make it look like you mean business.
  2. E is for ENJOY. No fair feeling guilty! Besides, a guilt trip is not restful. Tell yourself you need this and so do they. Smile and close your eyes. Sip a favorite drink. Get to another place in your imagination, if only for a few minutes.
  3. S is for SET A TIMER. Your appointment with rest is important. Make it a good fifteen minutes and make it inviolable time, too. Turn the phone off, give interrupters that blank look, and hush anyone who forgets this is your set time. The timer also assures you won’t over-do it.
  4. T is for THANKFUL. Tell your heart this is a God thing. Every minute is worth cherishing. That lovely feeling of having rested will take you through the rest of the day and even prolong the rest of your life. This is so good; love it for what it is worth.

It may not seem do-able, but you can do it.

Even taking a few moments out, just closing a door for one or two minutes, can make a difference in how we perceive things and how we respond.

It’s a command . . . Okay to obey!

cost free homeschooling

How Pro Home Schoolers Get Curriculum Cost-FREE

Have you been pricing home schooling, lately?

I sure have!

I see that as the provider companies’ costs go up, ours must, too.

Yet, I know there still is a way, so pay attention!

Having begun presenting informative slide shows to parents who are thinking about home schooling, I know the subject of cost always comes up, so I figure I should bring it up myself, instead of making someone ask.

The cost!

The least expensive actual curriculum I’ve found isn’t bad—around $225 or so per child, per year, which is not even $2.00 per school day.

The big thing that hits some home schooling families hard is having a large family. At $225 per child, six children’s curriculum could end up costing over $1000! Per year!

How can I say there could be a way that “pros” provide their children with curriculum, cost-free?

Not too hard, actually.

It depends on the type of curriculum you choose

You see, all curriculum provider companies are NOT equal!

Ruling out those who now claim to be agreeable to the Common Core (Those will cost you LOTS more than just money!) there are several ways to eliminate or greatly, GREATLY reduce your curriculum costs. This is something you may only realize after you’ve been in the business awhile and looked around with more seasoned eyes.

And noticed a secret thing or two. Heh heh.

And spent a lot of money you didn’t need to.

The “fee” for “free” adds up

Not all curriculum types are created equal. Did I mention that?

Before we go on, we should discuss some of the tricks you can find “out there”.

First, there is a deep flood of stuff that claims to be curriculum, provided on the Internet, free for the swiping. That’s great. If it’s what you really want, it’s great.

However, most of it is:

  1. Aimed at preschool age or slightly above
  2. Not designed by educational professionals
  3. Common  Core affiliated, linking you to government watchdogs
  4. Not connected to any overall scope and sequence.

This means you could start a young child easily enough, if you know exactly what you are doing and have time and training to triage it and design a course content, yourself.

Not?

Then you’ll be happy to know the other objection to the free things is that they must all be printed.

By you.

Which means you need a printer, paper, and INK!

If you want to provide your child with, say, ten pages per day of seatwork (after designing and finding everything you need) then you are looking at 1800 pages of printing, since there are 180 school days in a school year.

Printing 1800 pages per child per year can REALLY mount up if you should possibly be able to find all you need for all six of your children (if you have a large family) which would be 10, 800 pages per year.

But that’s just for one year. If you were still not convinced and you were to continue with this plan the rest of their school years, you would potentially have printed 129,600 pages.

No doubt, you would have bought that many pieces of paper, too, and, no doubt, a new printer, sometime along the line…

And large three-ring binders. And gummed reinforcements.

Announcing the solution!

Go back to the $225 company.

Find $225. Pay up. Wait for delivery. Notice the books are hard-bound and very well-constructed. Use the books. Never need to print anything. Realize it all fits neatly on a small bookshelf.

Repeat next year for the next grade.

Wait—how is that free?

The freedom of this way adds up, just as the cost of the “free” way does.

You see, you’ll be passing these $225-books down to your next children.

At no cost.

If you have six children, spaced at every 2 years, you would have to spend about $1300, two years in a row. (This is just an example; No pressured intended!)

After that, you would spend nothing.

Zero. Zip. Nada.

The breakdown:

By the end of home schooling 6 children for 12 years apiece, your cost for ALL SIX children would still be that same $2600, but by then it would be divided by 12,960 total school days, or:

Are you ready for this?

Twenty cents per day per child. That’s all. Merely 20 cents.

Still not free, you say?

Well, I’m still not done.

But I am done home schooling, and I found a way to recoup lots of even the 20 cents. Hold on to your seat belt, here…

When you buy great, well-made curriculum, you can always find a market for it online.

YES! You can sell those used books to someone else, who needs “free” even more than you do.

Of course, the shape they are in will determine how much they will be worth, but if you teach your children how to make book jackets, and require them to do so, the books will be clean and mostly un-worn in appearance, making them fetch more than most used books. You will be surprised.

And that, my friends, is how we did it. 😀

very near hell, the apex of descent

10,080 Minutes Very Near Hell

Where is the place that is very near hell?

It is the apex, the place where ascent weakens to the weakest possible point, the beginning of the end, the molecule of time before the descent.

It is a place of deep sorrow and pain. It is a place of helplessness and confusion. It is a place of crushing and fainting.

Do we want to know where this is? Do we want to read about it?

No.

It is a place of regrets and blame, of requirements and inability, of surroundings and enemies of all that matters. A place of conflicting opinion and constant flood of words. A place of never doing it right. A place of agony and of tears and of darkness.

But it is not hell.

It is only death.

We were not programmed to die. We were not created to deal with death.

We were created and intended to live, to vibrate with joy, to glow in the dark.

But we die.

But not all of us at once. We each have his own appointed time. Some of us must remain survivors and feel the loss, mourn the loss, die a thousand deaths during the loss.

And some of us must stand by and watch, very near hell.

It is a duty, a privilege, an honor, to be standing by and watching the descent, the mourning, the loss, the thousand-times death. To stand by, to help, to helplessly watch and wait, is a gift that rebounds to the giver in humble thanksgiving in the soul. To mind quietly the senseless, necessary tasks of the earthbound, standing next to the earth-ending descent, is a miracle and a reverie, nearly a trance.

To remain alive ends all words.

Chocolate

Brush Your Teeth With Chocolate!

Okay, I know this is not dentist-approved, but let’s think about it a while. Has anyone out there ever tested it?

Thought not.

Well, I have. If I’ve just eaten, or if my mouth is less than satisfactory to me in any way, I love using chocolate for an emergency remedy. My teeth will feel cleaner, my breath will be far better than garlic, and I won’t get such a slump after eating.

Also, it is more pure, FAR less doctored with chemicals than most chewing gum.

Now, I don’t mean all the cruddy little desserts that claim to have a bit of chocolate in them. Most confections are pure sugar, another thing altogether from pure chocolate! I’ve been brought up in the United States, where it is possible actually to grow weary of sugar.

Chocolate is not sweet. You can find chocolate that has very few grams of sugar in it, like those pictured above. Mostly it is out of kid reach in the stores — it is adult chocolate, after all. To apply it, just break off or open one square, usually about 10 grams.  Chew it. Enjoy it to its fullest.

Most serious chocolate has lecithin and cocoa butter, which make the teeth slick. Germs do not cling for quite a while. Also, chocolate, itself, contains the following wonderful benefits: caffeine (which helps you be lively), theobromine (which lowers blood pressure, lessens edema, lowers rate of birth defects, and is patented for research in cancer prevention), and quite a few antioxidants. The germs don’t stand a chance.

The trick is in stopping at just one piece.

It’s worth a try, I say.

But use regular toothpaste, etc., just before bed, if at all possible.

Yardwork done

A Week of Answers – Am I Called to Home School?

This week we are studying from the questions of others, what to do, how to do it, and why. Hope you enjoy this series and learn lots from it. This second letter is from a fairly new homeschooling mom with deep-core issues. Enjoy!

Homeschooled children in the kitchen

Homeschooled children in the kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Katharine,

I guess I’m the only one out here who doesn’t get it. When I go to support group meetings, I always hear moms talking about how God told them to home school, or something, and we didn’t do it that way. In my case, I just decided to try it last year, to see what all the excitement was about. So far, I’ve liked it, and here we are. Outside of relaxing a little, (who wouldn’t?) my two kids (ages seven and nine) don’t seem much different. Am I maybe not “called” to home school like these other mothers? Couldn’t God really want my kids to toughen up some, by being in the schools? Does home school really prepare all kids for every type of career?  –Mackenzie

Dear Mackenzie,

No. God does not want your children to toughen up in public.

Let’s talk about that first, because He may have been leading you more than you realize.

English: Oak Tree

Oak Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adults are like oak trees. A beautiful, tall, old oak tree is tough. If you run into one with your lawn mower, the tree wins. Right?

How does it get that way?

Simple: Oak trees get huge and tough by not being mowed over when they are young and tender.

Children are young and tender.

Children, in general, however, can be very cruel.

So can life.

It can feel a lot like a lawnmower.

For this reason, God put children into families, with parents to protect them, comfort them, and strengthen them. They actually obtain their toughness this way, in the home. They have to be taught how to be tough, and it is therefore the parents’ job to teach this toughening. How can you protect, comfort, and teach your children toughness when you are not with them!

Do you think their teachers will wrap them in their arms, cry with them and remind them that God sees and cares and can help them be tough? I think not; it is against the law, in the teachers’ imaginations.

That is why children relax, as yours did—and mine did—when they finally come home.

The curriculum:

Unless your children are very above normal in obedience and kindness, they will create opportunities for you to help them learn how to be oak trees.

Surely they swipe toys, neglect chores, sass, or maybe even resort to violence with each other, just as all kids are prone to do. Even the most well-behaved children got that way by being TAUGHT—NOT to steal, NOT to be lazy, NOT to rebel, and NOT to bonk brother on the head.

And those who miss this teaching grow up to steal, be lazy, rebel, and use violence. Hmm.

What else?

There is another type of toughness that has little to do with sin, though. This type will go out on a cold, rainy, November morning, and vote. It will volunteer for storm clean-up. It will take up the Bible-study leader’s slack if he has the flu.

This type does not occur on the playground, much.

In fact, this self-denying toughness is missing throughout this world. You can give your children the advantage of this type of toughness, though, which is the real preparation that everyone needs for every type of career out there.

It is great preparation even just for college.

Home schooled children succeed in college, more than children from any type of collective educational situations. Did you know?

And more…

Your other question, about your calling, is harder. I cannot answer for your friends’ feelings or their communications from God.

Let’s just say that God has commanded us to teach our children all the time–when we sit, walk, lie down, and get up. (Deuteronomy 11:10) Sounds as if we need them at home, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds to me as if God assumed we would have them at home and does not always issue a special call for it.

Also, His command or assumption that we write and read (Habakkuk 2:2) makes it very important that we give our children the tools for those activities, and it just does not always happen in the collective schools.

The risk of our children falling away from all the good things is too enormous. We should keep them where they will not be mowed down, and where they will be watered, nourished, and trained to grow straight and tall.

Given time, they will toughen just fine.

And they will not grow up to be lawnmowers.

Love,

Katharine