Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bzzz, Happy Birthday!

Near the end of our Colorado road trip, we made a long weekend stop in Kansas City to have a big family gathering! While there, we took advantage of the fact that Rachel's birthday fell over that weekend and celebrated with cousins!

 My Grandma offered to bake cupcakes and I loved these little polka dot candy cups turned cup cake holders! Some yellow frosting and these sugared bees made the cakes super simple!

Bee plates and napkins are from Amazon and cups from the Dollar Tree I think! Stripey straws and treat bags from here.

Next, it was time to start some fun and games!


We started with homemade bubbles and bee-shaped wands from Dollar Tree!
What fun!

Then we colored wooden bees and lady bugs {also found at Dollar Tree} - this was a fun thing and good because it was inside where it was cool!

We played bee, bee, flower {think duck, duck, goose} and musical chairs with the Flight of the Bumblebee song!

Our last game was to sip the "nectar" {water} from the cup and take it to the "flower" {red cup} ~ this was a little tricky, but getting wet and cooling off was the main idea anyway!

We also celebrated with Rachel's choice in Colorado with a trip to Casa Bonita!

Happy 6th Birthday, Rachel!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Retreat Day: Why and How

For the past few summers, when I go to Colorado - I have made a retreat day part of my time there. And, I've shared about those days here - but as I was thinking about it this year, I wanted to pursue the idea of why have a retreat day and maybe a few ideas on how to make it happen.

First, the why. Why retreat? {These are just my thoughts, add your own?}

* Being still.
This year on my retreat, I probably spent the first hour doing nothing but just being still. I shared this the other day - but I didn't really think about anything or do anything other than just sit. I was outside and enjoying God's Creation and listening to small sounds that are usually overcrowded with noise to hear. I am reminded of these thoughts on being still.

Psalm 46:10,
"Be still and know that I am God."

* We are invited.
By example, Jesus invites us to get away and alone and spend time with our Heavenly Father. No this isn't saved for a once-a-year-retreat! But, it is the perfect model for us of leaving the noise and moving ourselves to a "solitary" place to be with Him.

Mark 1:35,
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

* It is refreshing.
I know we aren't all wired the same, but isn't time to just sit quietly rejuvenating even if it is only once in a while? Our lives are so noisy and busy. Time to just think is precious and rare. I love the picture of the water fountain above when I think of this idea of refreshing. Quiet and stillness are refreshing and life giving. The Sabbath itself was established for rest and refreshment.

Exodus 31:17,
"It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed."

* It is a great way to re-focus.
I can get tunnel vision sometimes. I'm too close to a situation or too immersed in it that stepping back and widening my view can be very helpful and bring some great perspective. Summer has been a great time for me to have these retreat days because with a new school year starting, it is a good time to evaluate many things.

2 Corinthians 5:7,
"For we live by faith, not by sight."

How do you make a retreat day a reality?

* Make it a priority.
 If it is important to you to make it happen, you will make it a priority! Schedule a day, put it on your calendar and look forward to it! Jot down ideas or thoughts that continue to surface in your mind and heart and plan to spend time pursuing those thoughts more and seeking God's Word for insight into these areas.

* Plan for your family.
Obviously this will only be a success if you have adequate care for your family! My personal opinion is that this retreat is such a blessing to my own heart that it is a blessing to my family as well. Arrange child care, make plans for what they will eat while you are away, think ahead for dinner when you get home. Spending your time away worrying about what your family is doing or what you will serve for dinner when you return will not be of any benefit! Do all that you can to see to these things ahead of time.

* Plan for your retreat.
 Not only do you need to have your family cared for, but I have found it helpful to do some planning for my retreat as well. As I mentioned above, I jot down words or thoughts that are consistent in my thinking near the time of the retreat. Or, if I have any specific things I am wanting to process, pray about or implement in our home - I might write these thoughts down as well.

Before I go, I usually take one-three words or thoughts and look them up in the Bible or a concordance. I will write down the references of passages that mention that word or idea - I don't look them up yet, just make a quick list of places to start when I get to my retreat. Sometimes one of those thoughts emerges higher than the others or sometimes a whole new passage comes to light - but it is a place to start.

If I don't have some kind of place to start, I think it puts pressure on myself to have a great spiritually invigorating day that I have done no planning for. It is not a recipe for success.

Think ahead about what you will eat - do you need to bring lunch or can you find a nice lunch spot to enjoy? If you are planning to be outside, is there a back up for bad weather?

* Be flexible.
 I sort of over-plan. I have my list of passages I want to look up and thoughts I want to study. I also bring a journal, my Bible of course and even one or two books to just read. This way, I can sort of go with what works for me that day - and be flexible with myself.

Two years in a row now, it has rained in the afternoon on my retreat day - one time I found a spot inside and this year under a covered bench. If I decide I want to go for a walk - I do! I allow myself not to be rigid about a specific schedule but to go with what feels right and refreshing.

 I readily admit that my retreat days are spent in ideal circumstances. My Dad watches my children, my Mom plans dinner, I have lunch out with a friend typically on my retreat day and I have an amazing place to go.

But, I hope you will be encouraged to consider the idea of how to make this a reality where you are as well. Find a park or garden where you feel at peace and will be undisturbed. How about a friends home who is on vacation or even in their back yard? A church prayer room or prayer garden would be a great place too. Ask God to help you if this is a desire in your heart.

What are your thoughts and experiences on having a retreat day?

Friday, July 27, 2012

In the Nest

Deuteronomy 32:10-12,

"In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft.
The Lord alone led him;
no foreign god was with him."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Setting Home Hours

As we continue on our homeschooling journey, something I've learned is that the more we stay home - the better things go in our home. Not only for school, but for home management in general.

And, to be honest, this is something I've struggled with. Options come along and for a while I am good at saying no or sticking to our boundaries - but then I get weary of saying no and get lax at bending our boundaries and start letting more things creep in.

Earlier this summer, I went to a CC Practicum and the thing I was the most challenged and blessed by was the idea the speaker shared of setting home hours. She shared that in their home they have hours that they don't answer their phone and hours that they don't leave home.

Of course, every family would need to decide if this would work for them and if it did, what hours would suit their own home and family - but this idea has been rattling around in my mind and heart for the past couple of months.

This is something that I'm planning to implement this school year in our home in addition to Slow Day. Making appointments after a certain time each day, turning our phone off until a designated time, etc...  I look forward to experimenting with this.

Do you have Home Hours? How would this help or bless you and your home?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slow Day

Vacation has a way of slowing us down - in all it headiness. And, the peace it brings gives me reason to pause and consider how I can bottle this slowness and bring it home. I don't mean we've been laying around doing nothing - you can see we've had lots of fun. It is more of a mental slowness and yes, even the physical slowness.

I found myself sitting on the porch just to watch my children play, crocheting a dish rag, reading a book. I began reading my mom's copy of Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth ~ I did not finish the entire book, but read the highlights or things I was especially interested in.

More than the book, was this idea that God was putting in my mind and heart for a  slow day. Not once a year, but once a week - not to cease work, but just to s  l  o  w.

As we get home this week and anticipate getting back into school very soon - I'm doing a lot of thinking about our schedule, meals, how to make this life that we feel called to - work, etc. And, this idea beckons and invites.

To take one day a week to slow the pace. Staying home as much of that day as possible, sitting on the porch, reading books, having tea, slowing. We will still have school and do laundry and need to eat - but we can slow down the other minutes and hours. We can lay on the couch and read books all afternoon if we want to, do puzzles or play games, sit on the porch swing and sip lemonade, etc.

Right now I am inexperienced at how this works, what it looks like during real life. But the idea is real and compelling and I trust from God - so I trust Him to help me make it work. Since we are out on Tuesdays for Classical Conversations, Wednesday will be a good day for us to just hunker down and slow down.

Genesis 33:14,

"So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir."

Have you ever tried anything like a slow day?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Most Important Thing

On my list for our trips to Colorado is always the desire to have a retreat day to one of my very favorite places ~ Glen Eyrie. My Dad makes this happen by watching my children for a day - thanks Dad!

As I drove on to the property, I was overwhelmed with God's goodness at sparing this amazing place. It was miraculously saved from the Waldo Canyon Fire - praise God!

The rest of this week, I'll be sharing things that emerged that day. I spent almost the first hour just sitting - not really thinking about anything, not doing anything, just. being. quiet. It is amazing how many different things you can hear when it is quiet - the drop of the water into the fountain, the chirp of the birds, the stirring of the breeze through the leaves, the skitter of the squirrel as he looks for something to nibble.

One passage I spent some time on that came to mind is this:

Luke 10:38-42,

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'

'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"

This is where my heart is camped out right now and the passage I think about when I lay down in bed at night. Is there something you're camped out on right now?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Railroad Bed

My Dad spends a lot of time out on the trails riding his cycle and bike. The closest one to their home is through the old rail road beds - so he thought of the fun idea to take our kids over there to see it!

Things did not go as planned - this unprepared Mama put us all in flip flops and Samuel stepped into a cactus which landed on my toe - ouch! But hopefully the memories will still be sweet :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Beauty in the sky just a day or two after we arrived in Colorado - the fires were burning on one side of the city and these rainbows were shining glory in the sky on the other. Always a reminder of God's promise to us!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


We got to go to both the parade and the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo! What fun - yeehaw!