Monday, April 30, 2012

A Li'l Updatin'


We have about a month left in our little Texas Adventure. I can't even believe it. To be sure we are on track with my goal setting, I thought I should review my trusty To-Do List.


Riveting, I know.



Here's our list in no particular order:

Ice Skating at The Galleria
NASA Done!
Join the Y   Done!
The Zoo- Done! March 23, 2012
Miller Outdoor Theater Done! March 23, 2012
Go to Blue Bell Done! May go again!
Do Zumba at Discovery Green Park-Funness!
Moody Gardens
See some Blue Bonnets Done.
Go to a working cattle ranch and/or dude ranch Smacked a cowboy.
Kemah
Go to the Houston Rodeo/ Carnival  Done!
Schlitterbahn Waterpark--May skip it?? 
San Antonio Boardwalk Lovely.
Eat lots of lunches with Daddy!--Yes! Still going!
Alamo Yes!
Go to Austin
Children's Museum Done! March 22, 2012
The Woodlands-Water Way--Done!


OK, lists are bad for me because if I do something that isn't on the list, I have to add it and cross it off immediately so that I feel accomplished. 

Take an Art Class
Museum of Fine Arts
Start my blog
Houston's FBC
Bayou City Fellowship Church-lovin' it!
Museum of Natural Science
Love the people of Houston
Make sweet friends
Hermann Park
Do school at Discovery Green
Finish 5th grade Math. (Meg's accomplishment)


Add to this list the MANY Bananagrams whoopins and UNO stompins that have gone on around this place. 



         



It had to be done.

~LOVE~

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Guy Wants to Be Tim's Pimp



AshleyMadison wants to offer $1 million to anyone, male or female, with proof that he or she had sex with Tim Tebow. This offer will stand through the Jets football season. 
AshleyMadison's tool of a CEO, Noel Biderman, says that he guarantees that "no man of Tebow’s stature could survive a season in New York without succumbing to the temptations of the city."
  
He is trying too pimp out Tim Tebow! 
Listen. This is not about Tim Tebow. 
   
This is about you and your kids and my kids. 
   
If Tim Tebow's virginity is for sale, so is the virginity of my girls. One day, this monster could put a price on my girls or your son or daughter! What must Pam Tebow be thinking right now!?
   
This is war. We must fight fire with fire. We must go to extreme measures to prepare our sons and daughters to withstand the pressures coming their way. As far as I can tell, the Tebows were very intentional in the parenting of their children, and I believe Tim Tebow's virtue will be just fine through this mess because of it.

  • Pray, Pray, Pray. -- It seems like a 'duh' thing to say, but I mean really pray. Pray specifically for their purity, faith, steadfastness, future spouses, their friends, etc. This is the best way to really fight for your kids. I know. Duh. 
  • Listen to your kids.-- If you want your kids to listen to you, listen to them. Let them tell you all their stories at 7 years old, and they will tell you what's going on at 14.  Conversations are better than lectures every time. 
  • Disciple your own children. -- It is not the Sunday School teacher's job to shape your child's worldview. It's your job. Quit every other job or hobby so that you can do this one.
  • Don't send mixed messages. -- It blows my mind the movies and music that children and teens are exposed to with their parents! If you watch trashy movies and laugh at trash and  listen to trashy music, your children WILL have a jacked up moral compass! It is confusing!
  • Raise the standard.-- We have raised the academic standards. (All the AP classes.) We have raised the athletic standards. (Invitation-only teams.) We have raised the nutrition standards. (Healthy, whole or organic foods.) But, have allowed culture to lower the standards for sexual purity to devastating lows! Put girls on the pill, give the guys condoms, let them have sex in your home, etc. All in the name of 'protecting' the kids. Listen. If you pay the bills, you can straight up "ruin their lives" by not allowing this jazz to go on in your home. 
  • Talk about sex in the light of God's Word.-- Talk early and often...BEFORE you think they are ready and before the teacher does. The first person to teach your kids anything is the expert. Be the expert! Use phrases like "when a husband and a wife", rather than "when a man and a woman". Also, use anatomically correct terms. (This will be another post. Y'all let me know when you need it!) :)

I am getting a headache. I have to be done.


This is scary. War is scary. And it is serious.
We have got to get on our knees and get serious. 
Lord, help us.

Art in Houston

One of the really cool things the girls have gotten to do here in Houston is participate in a weekly Art class for homeschoolers. I thought it would be a good way to meet some friends and maybe even expose these children to a little culture! :) Some of the museums in the Downtown Museum District are even free on Thursdays, so we visited The Museum of Fine Arts, too.

Turns out, my kids could expose me to a little culture. Check this junk out:



A Claude Monet painting. At one point during our tour, Maddy says,
"Mom, if you see visible brush strokes, it's Impressionism."
So, like a good homeschooling mom, I looked a Meghan and said, "Is that true?" 
I don't know what this was, but Maddy wanted a picture.
I don't know if you can see the teeny little brush strokes, but it was magnificent.
OK, so a bunch of years ago, I remember my friend, Allison, describing the tingling she felt in her fingertips when looking at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. She was dying to touch it. I had no idea what she was talking about until I really felt the urge to touch this painting. And I'm sure it wasn't nearly as intense a desire as hers! I didn't touch it, there was this Asian lady ready to go Ninja on me if I got within 12 inches. 
I really wished Allison was there. This appreciation was a new experience for me. I know, you're judging. I'm okay with it.



It was also a great experience to see and discuss the MANY paintings of Jesus's birth, life, and death. My girls and I discussed how the arts express the most personal of feelings of the artist. In this painting above, the man in the top right is believed to be a self-portrait of the artist, depicting how he took part in Jesus's mocking and death. This was simultaneously painful and mesmerizing to me. To make my friend, Joe, proud, I went into a whole thing about how the Art Community really needs Christians to share their talents for the glory of God. :) They weren't nearly as inspired as I was. I made a mental note to assign some Francis Schaeffer reading.


And again, Maddy recognized this as a Frida Kahlo self-portrait,  of which there are many.
I had never heard of this woman! 
There are no photos, but we had "fun" conversation about all the Greek and Roman sculptures. Naked as the day they were born.  I tried to prepare the girls before we went in to the exhibit, but you can't really prepare a 9 and 11 year old for a 9 foot-tall naked guy with flowers on his head.  
  
It was hilarious (on the inside) to watch my kids work through this mess in their mind. "Mom, they couldn't find a leaf to cover their junk up?" "Oh, my word. Mom. Really, that is his penis right out there." "Good gracious. So inappropriate."
We had all the teaching moments about worshipping false gods, like the god of sex, as Paul speaks about and the fact that, in some cases, the artwork was in appreciation for our Creator. That helped a little, but they wanted to move quickly.
  
Here's some highlights of Art Class. It was so great!


While studying Monet and listening to some inspiring,
mood invoking music, the girls made their own Monets.
 
The girls painted flower pots. I LOVE this one that Meghan made.
Their sweet teacher, Gigi. 
An early Happy Mother's Day present for me!
Maddy's little flower pot was fab!
They were bummed to have the class end!
Awesome.


What a good life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Park Schoolin'

I am a total schizophrenic homeschooler. Well, that's probably for another post, but somedays I am sure that I am in over my head. There are the days that I'm sure my girls are never going to be friends as adults because of it, days that I'm sure will cost us $$ in therapy later, when I'm pretty sure they are missing some grand educational experience, some classic reading I left out...oh, ya know...name the insecurity and I've got it. Somedays.

Then, praise King Jesus! 
There are days like today. Homeschooling? Pssh. Easy Peasy. Any yay-hoo could do it!

Oh, yah. We were jiving up in here! Dividends, divisors, quotients? Boom. Bring on the mixed fractions. Nobody's scared, here! Main ideas, descriptive paragraphs--do work.
And, top this junk: the high temperature in Houston was 77.  This may, or may not, mean a lot to you, but to us it means--outside school!
   
We packed up a few things and took this little academy on the road to Discovery Green Park. 

Would you believe that little blue water bottle caused such nasty words a
few minutes after this pic was taken? No? I won't tell you about it, then.

Smoothies make schooling better.

This is a neat little park. That's the convention center in the back and
a little splash play area just behind the girls.

Give her a book and a smoothie,  and she'll be happy
enough to take pictures with her momma.

This little ladybug wanted to read my book.

Seriously. How could we not take advantage?
I almost pulled a Ferris Bueller. Sans the Ferrari.
I would so jump on a float, though.

Shady spot.

They really do like each other.
Is that presh?

I'm not even going to tell you how many times I took this picture.

There will likely be a blog post in the near future that may seem like a cry for help. Or, maybe I'll be very clear and say I'm going to jump. When that blog comes, will one of y'all, please, remind me of this day?


~LOVE~
Melissa

You've Got Mail

  Do y'all remember when you were little how excited you would be to get your own mail? 
It didn't even matter if it was the reminder to make your dentist appointment, if it was addressed to you, it was a good day!
Now, if you're an adult, it's exciting to get something in the mail that isn't a bill, a credit card application, or a political advertisement. 

I still love getting 'snail mail'.  I even love to SEND snail mail.  
A little handwritten note is just grand. 
I think you should get one. So, I'm going to send you one.


Here's the deal: 

TODAY ONLY!! 
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012
Comment below that you would like mail.
Then, send your name and snail mail address to 
haleacademy@gmail.com
no later than MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!
Then, wait.

There are two steps here, did you catch that? You must comment below that you would like to receive mail AND email me your name and address. 

This is for any reader, whether we've met or not. :) So, share the post, if you want. I'll get busy!

FYI, I won't share your info. This is just for fun. No creeping here.

~LOVE~
   
Melissa



Love Jesus. Love His Bride.

Psalm 122
A song of ascents. Of David.
 1 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
   “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
2 Our feet are standing
   in your gates, Jerusalem.

 3 Jerusalem is built like a city
   that is closely compacted together.
4 That is where the tribes go up—
   the tribes of the LORD—
to
praise the name of the LORD
   according to the statute given to Israel.
5 There stand the thrones for judgment,
   the thrones of the house of David.

 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
   “May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
   and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
   I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
   I will seek your prosperity.


We have been visiting Bayou City Fellowship in Houston. We are digging this little church. By the way, it won't be little long. It's brand new--started September 2011--and they just went to two services a few weeks ago! You know why? Because this group of believers is engaging the world. They are taking God at His Word when He said to care for the orphans and widows. They are passionate about modern-day slavery. All to glorify the name of Jesus. 

Today, the pastor, Curtis Jones, preached from Psalm 122. He gave a charge to the Bride of Christ to, like David, rejoice when we go to the house of the Lord.  We are seeing the message of "Love Jesus, not the Church" business quite a bit lately. But, it is impossible to love Jesus and not love His Bride, the Church. Spot on, Preacher!

I DO love the Church!  I love MY church! Very specifically, I love my little corner of church with the College Ministry that have made themselves at home in my home. That's the way I dig it.
Some of my crew at home in my home.

Spouse in the Word with our College Fam.

Passion 2012
So, thanks, Curtis. I was missing my college crew quite a bit today. :) 
And it all started because the Psalmist said "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'"
Then, I learned that Mike Storter, my Superman friend and our College Minister, was preaching tonight. Mike has been battling Leukemia for just over 3 years. About 2 months ago, he was sent home with Hospice Care at which time doctors estimated his earthly days to be about 2 weeks. Tonight, though, we watched his awesome message online which inspired me to blow up Twitter for about an hour. I apologize. Not really. 
I'm so proud of Mike. I'm grateful to call him my friend. 

Family photo Mike and his wife, my friend, Laura, in the center. Love them!
He is the real deal. He loves God. He loves people. And, let me tell you, people love him. In these past 3 years, Mike has been able to point more people to Jesus than most people do in a lifetime. 
Anyway, he made miss him. Then, my college crew went out after church. They made me miss them!  
Here they are tonight. Seconds before I got choked up.
How could you NOT rejoice to go to the house of Lord with these people??
I'm so proud of them. Get a good look at them. 
These are the faces of world changers.

~Love~
Melissa

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sanctification: Believers and Homeschoolers

PART 2

Here is Part 1.

Sanctification: Believers and Homeschoolers
    
Sanctification is one of those church words I don't even like to use that often. It means "growing in grace after baptism or conversion" or "to be made holy". It's the Philippians 1:6 promise in action. So, following a salvation experience with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit begins the process of sanctification. Meaning, we are constantly growing in God's grace. He 'prunes' us--cuts off dead vines and whatnot. Sanctification is the process in which God fixes us. He does this through what we call convictions. (Another church word.) I'll be quick: we all get convicted (broken, challenged, fixed) at different times in our walk with the Lord and in different areas. 

I have been challenged by the Lord in almost every area of my life, but some of which are modesty, pride, gender roles, greed, the fiery tongue, loving the unlovable, criticism, etc. So, being filled with the Holy Spirit causes me to change. This causes my relationship with God to look different. I could go on all day, but I hope you get the gist of it. :)
This was back when Meg would let me put her hair in pigtails. 
She's a turkey about that junk now.
So, there we were. Calling ourselves homeschooling. I didn't have a clue what God had planned. A lot like following Jesus, isn't it? 
The more 'sanctified' I am, the more I know I need some fixin'. The more I learn about education, the more I'm convinced that homeschooling is best for our family.

Trampoline schooling has to be a top 5 reason we will keep homeschooling.
Our homeschool is in the process of being sanctified, if you will. It's always changing and growing. I began homeschooling to try it out. We continue because of the flexibility in curriculum, schedule, and learning environment.  A biblical worldview is at the center of everything we do. There are no contradictions in science at school and Bible teaching at home. It's all biblical. The science, history, reading--all of it. I remember getting fired up about a reading comprehension portion of a standardized test being heavy-laden with liberal propaganda that just lends itself right back to Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Blech. I don't want my child choosing the main idea of that paragraph unless I am right there to help guide her to pick out the worldview issues first. 
Biblical worldview first. Main idea second. 
When we read about some tough issues in our history, we are able to talk through it together. We discuss the sovereignty of God during our discussion of the Underground Railroad. I remember being teary with my girls over Isaiah 61:1 during some of these lessons:
      
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim 
freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...
   
That took us to William Wilberforce which took us to modern-day slavery. Oh, man. I'm getting fired up now! The girls are going to be mad; when I finish, I'm going to want to re-read all those biographies!
   
Anyway, no propaganda, no indoctrination. 
The only agenda I have is to teach my girls to love God and love people. And, I'd really like them to be academic geniuses, too. Hey! I'm just being real.
Our schedule and learning environment are so flexible now, too, that we would have serious reentry stress if we were to go back! 
We snuggle before reading. 
We eat while we study. 
We 'do school' outside or in the car.
Our family is together a lot. 
We learn together, play together, 
fight together (gasp!), serve together. 
Most of the time this is grand. Again. Just being real.
   
We also had no idea that a few short months after we began homeschooling, Plant City's First Baptist would call a pastor that would challenge us to GO! 
Good gravy! Michael Lewis and Jesus are relentless! 
Spouse and I are taking that quite literally! We are GONE! And we are GOING! We don't know where and we don't know when, but our "school" fits in a plastic bin. So, ironic since a lot of people complain about 'schooling in a box'!
Again, I could go on, but y'all have lives to live.
In the same way Jesus changes me daily, my homeschooling convictions change. When I became a believer, I had never heard the word 'sanctification'. When I began homeschooling, I certainly didn't know that we really would put it in a plastic bin. 

Anyway, I love y'all! For those of you that stuck around, thanks for reading!

Melissa

Salvation: Believers and Homeschoolers

(PART 1)


This is one of those posts I've wanted to write for a while: how our journey in homeschooling has paralelled our walk with Jesus. 
   
I believe the things that bring us to Jesus and the things that keep us growing with Jesus are very different. At least for me. The same is true for our homeschooling. We brought our kids home for just a few reasons, but the reasons we continue homeschooling are many! 
    
Salvation and the Famous "Letter of Intent"
    
When 1 John 4:19 says, "We loved because He first loved us", I usually say in my mind, "I love Him because He first loved me." I came to faith in Jesus because I knew He loved me.  I didn't grow up in a Christian home, but through God's grace at a young age, I had an inexplicable knowledge of a perfect Heavenly Father that loved me and wanted the best for me. 
So, when I was in high-school, the seeds that had been planted (by Christian friends and a lot of mommas), came to  bear fruit when I walked down the aisle of Bethany Baptist Church. (I love that place.) 
I love Him because He loves me. I can't love Him first. That was the moment of salvation.
   
The "Letter of Intent" to homeschool happened in the same sort of moment. I had considered homeschooling early on. I remember when our kids were in diapers, my friend, KerryBeth and I discussing home education at that same little church I walked that aisle. Mark and I even went to the Homeschool Convention when Meghan was 3. (Nerds.) Somewhere in this I had an inexplicable feeling that homeschooling was the best thing for Meghan. Still as it got closer, I got fearful that I wouldn't be able to teach her to read, and I got excited about all my friends at the school. (My name is Melissa and I'm an incurable Sanguine.)  

So, Meg started school. She was so cutesy in her backpack and curls. Two years later, Maddy began kindergarten. My girls were in a school in our community with a great reputation. It was an ideal situation. The teachers liked me and loved my girls. 
Still, the Lord never let us take the idea of homeschooling off the table. I would meet these awesome teenagers with wisdom beyond their years, academically and spiritually. They were different. I wanted to do that for my girls. We joined this 4H group--FULL of homeschoolers. We may have been the only yay-hoos in government school. I loved the kids in the group and I thought those mommas were the best mommas on the planet! Still do. 
I remember telling Spouse, "Seriously, these homeschoolers are closing in on me! They are everywhere! The Lord is surrounding me!"  I wondered, "I could try it for the rest of the school year, and if I stunk it up, I would bring them back in August." 


That is exactly what I told the principal when I cried at her desk.
During Christmas break of 2008,the seeds that had been planted (by Christian friends and a lot of mommas), came to  bear fruit when I mailed my letter of intent to homeschool. That was the beginning of homeschooling.


And, it was JUST the beginning...
...to be continued.


Love!


Melissa

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Life is Good.

In honor of two cutesy Life is Good shirts I recently got for $12 each (there was happy jumping), I decided to list some things that make life good.



...Chapstick.

...holding hands with Meghan. (Grateful she still lets me.)

...a tan. 

...Brown Sugar & Fig from Bath & Body Works.

..."I miss y'all" texts in the middle of the day.

...anti-frizz products that work.

...Maddy's breath on my neck when we snuggle.

...Twitter.

...Homemade Sugar Scrub that a friend made. 

...Starbucks that my spouse brought me in bed at 6:30 THIS MORNING! 
(This was after he had to go to the office for a walk through.)

...cold water.

...peasant skirts. (I want all colors.)

...a favorite pen.

...a MacBook Pro. Seriously.

...that one of my favorite girls asks my opinion about the cutest things.

...the feeling after a good workout.

...old school green Irish Spring Soap. (After the good workout.)

...cloudless, blue skies.

...under eye concealer.

...prayers in an aisle at Publix. (There've been many.)

...meeting new people.

...tucking my cold feet under Spouse's warm leg.

...snail mail. (Still my fave.)

...freckles.

...knowing the Giver of them all.


Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from theFather of heavenly lights... James 1:17


What makes your life good?




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Feeding Tube Diet

This K-E Diet is El Freaking Nutso.
That's Spanish for "You are outside of your freaking mind if you think I'm putting a tube in my nose!"

Here's the Today Show link, if you're unfamiliar:

Desperate brides try feeding tube diet.

Really, Girls? Gracious! And, it's not just for brides.

Listen, I'm as insecure about the dimples on my thighs as anyone. I get that.
If I could afford it and if their weren't hungry children in the world and if their weren't friends who are raising money for adoption expenses and if ProLife organizations didn't need money, I would be tempted to get some secret Smart Lipo or something done while I'm out here in H-town.

What? Don't judge me! Don't act like you haven't seen the Groupon deals!

Really, I'm a work in progress. I'm constantly fighting to believe my spouse when he says he likes a few curves and he doesn't want to be married to a 12 year old boy. This comforts me on 87 levels.
The man adores me. He likes me even better when I like myself.

Did you read that? Read it again.
He likes me even better when I like myself.

We need to take care of our bodies. It makes me feel better when I am making good choices and exercising. But, the VANITY of it is reaching new lows every day!

There is much to say about this and a lot has already been said.

Ashley Judd fired back last week on her blog after she had been criticized for having a puffy face and essentially 'letting herself go'.
I was fired up for her!

The day Ashley Judd is fat, I'm a heifer. Just sayin' is all!

She tweeted about the feeding tube:  "Insane, abusive, sad: There is a company now offering brides pre-wedding crash diet feeding tubes to be more culturally acceptable."

It is insane! But, this is not new.

Outside appearances have always mattered--to us.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7


Here's Truth:
...I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:3
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty, honor Him, He is Lord. Psalm 45:11


This is a heart issue. It comes down to this:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8


What are we going to believe? 
Put these verses on the bathroom mirror. :)
I leave you with this treasure that you probably already love:





You are beautiful.


Melissa