Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fun night in downtown Bryan

We went to the Texas Reds Festival last night in downtown Bryan. It was such a great time, a fun mixture of a big festival combined with First Friday. Face (and arm) painting was the first huge hit, followed by balloon animals, paint-your-own-pumpkin, and a King family favorite, turkey legs. We spent a little time watching an outdoor movie which was quickly spoiled by 2 trains coming by about 100 yards away. Then I felt as if the night wasn't complete unless I sent my kids into a sugar-coma by feeding them sno-cones and cotton candy at 8:30.
 the newly restored Queen in downtown

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Some recommendations

Here are a couple of things I've been wanting to post about.

First, my talented husband has a new CD out. It's an EP of 5 worship songs. It's really good and only $5. The kids and I  had a really great worship time this morning, singing and dancing around the room. It was so good to hear my kids singing out that God is Undefeatable and Our God is Victorious, He always wins...He always wins. Go here to buy yourself (and maybe a few friends) a copy or here to download.

Also, Ross wrote and recorded a song of John 1:1-7 so that the kids could memorize it easily. It's in English and he also recorded a Latin version. For any of  you in Classical Conversations, this is exactly what our kids are learning this year! And its so easy to memorize to the music. Yay! Go here to get it.

Lastly, my sister-in-law, Christie just opened up an Etsy store of her cute creations. She is very talented. If you've been to my house, you've seen the adorable yarn wreath she made me for the spring. I had her make me one for the fall and it's on its way. I can't wait to get it. If you're the kind of person who spends money on your house in the fall, direct a little money her way and get yourself a cute wreath. It will last for many years, unlike the pumpkins. :-)
Storehouse Crafts blog
Storehouse Crafts etsy store

That's it. Have a great day!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Drawing from the well

I homeschool our kids. It's something that fits our family and we feel called to do at this stage of our life. It's fun and hard and rewarding and challenging and lots of other descriptive words on any given day. Each year I feel a little more prepared and organized and a little more overwhelmed at the same time.

Lately, I've wanted to come up with a name for our "school." But being clever is not my strongest gift so I've drawn a blank on good names. It's really unneccesary to name it, but I thought it might help the kids take more ownership in what we're doing and maybe we could make a cute sign for our school room. At first Sam said we should call it King Kids Academy. Not bad. Pretty simple. But when I thought about what the word academy meant, I realized that we are not an academy. An acadmey is defined as an institution for higher learning. We are not an institution, but a home. I think that a more fitting word would be a haven or base or even a nest. I know I may be being too literal here, but it bothered me to call it an academy.

Then somehow in thinking about those words, I stumbled upon the definition of the term "bring up" in relation to raising and teaching our kids, and it completely defines what we are doing. It means to cultivate, develop, feed, nourish, discipline, form, foster, educate, support, teach, train, provide for, and nurture. That is what we are doing here at home. Such a simple term with such a rich definition. As I thought on that definition and the term bring up, I began to compare it to drawing water from a well. Bringing up the water. I realized that as I teach and train our children, I am essentially drawing things from them. God has placed all kinds of treasures and gifts and talents inside these children. They are His creation. I have been given the job of drawing those things out. It's not an easy job. It's hard and tedious and messy, but also refreshing, rewarding, and life giving. All parents have this job regardless of whether their kids learn at home or away. I am thankful for this job to be a mom, and in our case to also be their primary educator.
I love what Proverbs 20:5 says: Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within.
 I pray that I will have the wisdom to draw from my children what is right and good and glorifying to God and to show them those things hidden inside of them. We learn and "do school" to know God and make Him known. That is the purpose of learning, for God created all things and no matter what we are studying, we are able to point back to Him and his creativity and goodness.

Here are some photos from our first weeks of this semester. I am blessed, in this season of life, to have a multi-purpose room in our house. It serves as a school room, TV room, my work space, and game room. I love it.

Working so hard...this happens some of the time.
But this happens more often...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Well, I've been home for about 3 weeks now. I am happy to be home and I'm not. Since transitions always leaving me feeling a bit blue, these 3 weeks have been strange. I've really enjoyed seeing our friends, Ross' parents, and being back at church. I've somewhat enjoyed being back in my house. And I'm not enjoying unpacking and all the piles of stuff I must deal with.
Mostly, I've been instrospective. I've been processing all that this summer was to us. Although you might not know it from reading this blog, a lot more took place in me and in our family than just cool sight-seeing and outings. So much changed in us this summer, in who we are, in what God did in us, and in how we want to be and look at life differently. I posted mostly about the outings, the fun stuff, the vacation-y parts of our life because it's easier to post about that stuff. At least it is for me. It's not as easy to post about the growing and stretching that's slowly occurring in me. It's not as easy to talk about the serious stuff, the changes that have occurred in me and the deeper things I am growing through.
I’ve always loved school supplies. As a kid, I loved buying new school supplies every year. I am sure I didn’t really need new stuff every single year, but it was still so much fun to get the new folders, a cute, new trapper-keeper, and the big box of 64 crayons. I loved that box with the sharpener on the back. There were so many great colors in that box with such awesome names. I always thought about whose job it was to make up those crayon names and what a cool job that must be. I loved organizing the crayons by color watching them fade from one side of the box to the other, trying to figure out where to put the black and brown ones.
In my house now I have a plastic shoe box full of crayons. But most of them are not the sharp, well-cared-for crayons of my childhood. They are little nubs of color, with peeling paper and no visible names. There are lots of colors in there and I pull them out for the kids weekly. They like the big box of crayons. As I processed this summer, I realized that I feel like if my life were a coloring book, this summer I used the big box of sharp crayons to color. It’s like the colors are brighter, the lines are more precise, and we used all the really cool, unique colors.

Here are some of the things that I’ve learned from this summer (in list form because I think in lists.)
1. I love how our little unit grew so close to each other. The absence of our community and family really gave us the chance to dig into each other more, to spend every waking minute together, and in the process become even better for each other. Sam and Jude were best friends all summer, playing so well, and glowing in each other's company. Naomi came into her own with the boys and me. She and I smoothed over some of our rough edges (as we can sometimes get cross-ways with each other) and the boys brought her into play time much better than ever before. Being in a house full of girl-toys helped that too. The boys may have dressed up in princess dresses a couple of times, but you didn't hear it from me. Ross was around us about the same amount as he usually is (since he works from home), but he was with us more than he usually it. When not writing, he took off from the work that is normally pulling at him, freeing him up to focus on us. And he was so full of joy to be writing that it spilled over to us.
2. I loved the slowed-down pace our life took on this summer. It was inevitable and purposed to be that way. That's what a sabbatical is. And even with Ross songwriting, our life was much slower. I am still trying to figure out how to bring some of that back into our life here, trying to figure out if that's even possible. I attribute it to the absence of a few, albeit big things: our house, our church, and CC (classical conversations). I love all those things. Very much. Very, very much. But it was nice to have a break. Let me elaborate:
*Our house, a century-old rambler, is full of charm and headaches. Things are always breaking and it's a bit of a beast to keep clean, organized, and maintained. It was nice to be in someone else's house where all I had to do was clean every couple of weeks. No organizing, fixing, painting, decorating, etc. I realized how much of my mental energy normally gets swallowed up by my house and it was a nice break for my brain and time.
*Our church...we love. But with Ross as an elder, things can get a little overwhelming sometimes. People are messy and broken and have all kinds of problems. It's our calling and life's work to walk with people through all that. But thankfully our church also recognizes that the leaders need rest and give accordingly. So many pastors burn out and even walk away from the Lord because it can just get to be too much. Praise the Lord that our church protects and cares for the leaders enough to give them a paid sabbatical!
*Classical Conversations....love it too. It's our road map for walking through educating our children in the home. I plan to write about it at some point because it's been such a blessing to us. But it's also time consuming being a tutor and keeping up with all of it. Hurray for summer break. We truly needed it.
3. I once skimmed a book on the different ways people relate to or feel close to God, things like music, reading or theology study, being with people who love God, being in nature. I instantly knew that I was in what they called the naturalist category. I most definitely feel closer to the Lord through nature and creation. I have always loved being outside and even as a child preferred playing in the woods over playing with toys any day. I am still that way. I feel like God is with me, really with me, speaking to my soul when I am outside, particularly when I am outside where it's pretty. It’s so important to me that I feel like I could be prone to have that seasonal affective disorder a little bit if the weather was such that staying indoors was necessary for too long. I could not do really, long cold winters. I can hardly do long, scorching summers, but prefer them to cold because I can swim. Anyway, this summer I was surrounded by beauty so much. In Nashville, there are lots of hills and lakes and woods. We had a really great lake near our house where I loved to hike and run. We were blessed with unusually cool weather most of our time there and had fewer than 10 really hot days the whole time.
We also got to spend a weekend in the mountains of West Virginia, drive through the Smoky Mountains twice, spend a week on the Atlantic coast, and finish our summer in my favorite place, Colorado. I felt like I was drinking in the beauty being constantly amazed at God’s workmanship in all the details.
I like Texas, and I'm not here to dog on my home, but it's not that pretty here. It's flat and I love hills and mountains. It's dry and I love rivers and oceans. It's nice in an average sort of way. I want to live here. I love people more than I love pretty places and the people I love are here. But sometimes I need to see beautiful places in the world, to be reminded of God in the way that is most satisfying to me. I miss that now that I’m home. It might be what I miss most.
4. Personally, I grew in some really wonderful ways. Although the summer was fun and exciting, it wasn’t always comfortable. Being someone who takes change a little hard, I was stretched and challenged to depend more on God because we were constantly in transition. I could hardly settle in before we went somewhere else. And yet that desire to settle in continues to be a powerful one for me. I long to feel settled while at the same time yearning for adventure. I think that’s eternity inside me, His Kingdom come, where I will forever be on an adventure with the Lord, fulfilling His plan and being settled in my soul, not to a place but into Him. It’s part of his pruning of me, to put me into a life where I can’t “settle in” once and for all. A life where I am dependent on Him and needy for His closeness so that whether I am home or not, He is my home.
I have more to process from this summer, more to come.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Let the back-posting begin

Our time in Breckenridge is over and we are now back in the oven of Texas. Leaving 60 degree weather was a little sad. While in Colorado, we did so many great things and I wrote posts about almost all of them. But our internet got progressively slower as we stayed there, culminating in my computer's refusal to find a network, much less upload a post.

And, as I've mentioned before, this blog serves a journal/scrapbook of our summer so I will be back-posting all the stuff I wrote (because it has to be in proper order) now that I can upload photos at a speed that doesn't make me feel like I am on anxiety-inducing dial-up.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Time to play ball!

Today we had a family baseball game. Mainly, we just let the kids learn to hit the ball, run the bases, catch the ball, and daydream in the outfield. Then the older "kids" had a little home run derby.
What a beautiful place to have an impromptu game. 
 Brad, the pitcher
 Gavin
 Safe!
 Running the bases
 Micah
 Our outfielders

Our infielders playing in the dirt

Ross, swingin' for the fence

breckenridge

This summer we have been blessed to see so many beautiful places. In Nashville, there were hills, trees, and nice weather. We saw the mountains and waterfalls of West Virginia then we drove through the Smoky Mountains on the way to Myrtle Beach. Of course, the beach was beautiful and restful in that way that beaches are. Then we drove back through the Smoky Mountains on our way back to Nashville. Now we are spending the rest of our sabattical in Breckenridge, CO,

We will be here a total of 3 weeks. We are here with my family: my mom and Dad (Gee and Poppa), Brooke (my sister), Brad and Noelle (my brother and his wife), and their kids, Cash and Maddie-Rose, Chris and Christie (my youngest brother and wife) and their kids, Micah, Gavin, and Sawyer, and 2 dogs, Shelby and Charlie. 17 people and 2 dogs in the house has been crazy and fun.

This is our 5th time to come to Breckenridge in the past 5 years so it has a "feels like home" quality to it that I love. We ride our bikes into town, take long walks, sit outside all hours of the day, hike, and generally try to soak in the fact that we are living in a postcard.

This week we have a few less people as Chris and Christie had to leave Saturday night and not everything's perfect as Jude had a 2-day stomach bug consisting of some pretty nasty stuff that he's now passed to Maddie-Rose. I am praying that it will end with her as we really, really don't want to spend the rest of our vacation here in Colorado over or on the toilet so to speak.

After a whole summer of pretty much keeping to ourselves, the kids have been relishing the time with their cousins, playing all hours of the day. Naomi and Maddie-Rose are two peas in a pod as they walk around carrying their purses and playing with their baby dolls. The 5 older boys ride bikes, play basketball and baseball, swim in the hot tub, take some "hikes", and spent lots of time playing Legos. There's also a huge theater room downstairs for the occasional movie. I've already read 2 books since being here and am starting my 3rd. As I write, I am sitting in my favorite room. It's a small study in the front of the house. It has huge windows that open onto a porch area. There is a small waterfall in the front yard and I love the sound of it. I really feel refreshed being here and want the time to crawl by.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

camp

So far I've only mentioned the beach since it's well, so freakin' great. But the actual reason we are here, youth camp, has been pretty great too. Aside from the (ahem) mildly gross camp lodging, we are really enjoying this camp. It's very small and the youth minister is an old friend of Ross'. The kids are so sweet and a couple of girls have taken a particular liking to Naomi. She sits on their laps, trying on their sunglasses, and "talking" on their cell phones. They are really sweet girls and if I could take them home to be my new babysitters, I would. (Why, oh why do all my babysitters have to grow up, graduate, and get married? Can't you see I need you to stay 19 forever?)

I have really enjoyed getting to worship twice a day, and the Lord has done some refining in me this week. After last week and my somewhat apathetic attitude coupled with self-indulgance, I needed to be refreshed. Being here has been just what I needed. There is something nice about a camp schedule. Maybe it's that, for once, someone is telling me where to be rather than me having to decide every little thing. Meals are prepared for us 3 times at day at 8, 12, and 6 and although camp food is nothing special, I've come to appreciate the fact that for 5 straight days I don't have to cook a single thing. It's also helpful in terms of self-indulgance as I'm rarely tempted to overeat on camp food. Then I just look at the little camp schedule and follow it. Very few decisions have to be made.

Tonight the whole camp took the night off to go a place called Broadway at the Beach. It's one of those really fun, touristy places with restaurants like Joe's Crabshack, lots of ice cream parlors, stores full of expensive, shiny trinkets, and fun to be had like mini golf, IMAX, and carnival rides. I was looking forward to geting off campus for the night and eating out. But when we first got there, things weren't looking so great. First off, it was so unbelievably hot  today. I am truly not complaining, because we've only experienced a few days over 90 this whole summer. I know, go ahead, hate me. But this was one of those days. Plus there were about 1000 people over what I think this place is supposed to hold. People were parking on the grassy medians and it was so crowded as you walked that you could only move a few steps at at a time. We went to 3 restaurants and finally found one that could seat our party of 11 people (our family, Michael, the camp speaker and his family, and the youth minister). Thankfully, that restaurant was Landry's and it was goooood. New England clam chowder and the catch of the day for me and Ross. Fried shrimp for the kids. Yummy. The company was great and the kids did amazingly well at such a nice restaurant with a slow wait.

We walked around after and the weather had cooled considerably as a huge storm was rolling in. But after a quick ice cream cone and a $5 purchase at the store full of crap that will break within 24 hours, we had to go. We decided that Broadway at the Beach would have been alot more fun if the weather was 75 degress, there were about 1000 less people there, and I had a pocket full of cash. Oh well. The beach is free and we will be there again tomorrow for our last day. Tonight it is raining hard and it is washing all the heat away.





Tuesday, July 12, 2011

we just can't get enough

More fun on day 3 as we splash, dig, run, and sun. Isn't being at the beach the best?