This Beautiful Grace

He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9




One of the pictures Kayla took for Competition next week

We are having the most amazing thunderstorm right now.  Sheets of rain, whole-sky flashes of lightening.  It's awesome.  I even let the boys come down after bedtime. They wrapped up in blankets and we snuggled on the porch swing.  

Storm outside, Dryer running, Odyssey playing in the boys' room.

Buying a farm!

The comfort of knowing God says no when it is best.
A very productive day of cleaning.  I worked the kids extra hard this morning, so we had pizza and movie night tonight!

I was eating breakfast this week with some friends at a retirement center. I noticed there are two kinds of people:  Happy ones and Negative ones.
I want to be a Happy One.

Tonight we read about fireflies.  I am remembering the amazing, sparkling display of thousands and thousands of fireflies at my parents' house. 



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I am excited about learning with my kids.  I have been working on planning things together - attending events, classes, etc. - that allow us to learn more together about things we love to do. More to come on all that!!

I can't remember what's happening without my calendar.  I have doing a lot of decluttering, so I'm hoping to continue that.  My focus has been very sharpened by some recent events, and that always helps.  I need to go through and sort the mountain of stuff waiting to be donated, sold, etc.

I also plan to do some:
Freezer cooking for May
Monthly Mvelopes Budgeting for May
Make our "Summer Fun" schedule
Finish projects & send Kayla off to ACE Student Convention (maybe join her...)
Begin writing my sessions for a retreat coming up.


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All day long  -every Thursday - I listen and I teach and I demonstrate.  And I say the same things over again.  Every week.  And they ring in my own ears...lessons for my own busy life.

You need to breathe on purpose.
Your posture seems like a small matter to you, but it matters more than you realize.
If you let the tension creep in here, it will affect the beauty and impair your freedom to move.
When it's too hard, break it down into baby steps.
Practice it slow first.  You can't play it well unless you can play it slow.
Hands separately first, then together when you've mastered it.
Your piece is only as strong as the weakest link - Isolate, analyze &  fix the hard places!

But today I hear myself saying this one again and it sticks - playing back and back and making me uncomfortable.  "If this doesn't become YOURS - if you don't decide that you want to make this piece sound good, your mamma can't make you do it.  She's paying way too much money for that.  She's wasting her money if you don't decide you're going to do this right."

They pay a high price - these moms and dads.  Money and books and some of them even the time to be attentive to practice and to ensure discipline.  But kids are kids, and sometimes it doesn't sink in and practice is put off or not done with gusto and discipline.

And so I try to balance law and grace as a teacher....enough law  for the proper fear and respect, but enough grace to avoid burnout.

I think today about the price that was paid for me.  Am I doing it justice?  I am not under law that requires me to earn the price He paid.  I cannot.  But it does require a certain proper response.....that response being everything I can muster.  Am I playing this grace-music half-heartedly?  Taking His forgiveness and this peace and this freedom for granted? 

(This is a post from the archives waaay back that never got posted)

I mentioned that I had started this book awhile back...and then got distracted.  Meanwhile, David read it and immediately wanted to implement some of the ideas.  However, I wasn't entirely on board mentally and that made it hard to implement effectively.  I hadn't read the whole thing, and we needed to have some more conversations to refine our ideas.  I am feeling more and more "on board" as we have narrowed some things down and my brain is more in gear.

Basically, we have implemented a "strike" discipline system for targeting certain behaviors and habits.  Each child has 3 target behaviors or habits.  If they violate the goal, they get a strike.  After 3 strikes something very bad happens to them (Rosemond is big on the punishment being bigger than the crime. It has to hurt bad enough to work.)   Currently, the punishment here for 3 strikes is complete loss of all electronic privileges for the next day.  (What?! No listening to adventures in odyssey during breakfast with the other kids?!  Oh shock! Oh horror!)   Another option is going to bed directly after supper (not our current choice because of schedule and logistical challenges of being consistent.)

 As I read things, I tend to read with the critical voice of others in my head.  (i.e.  “If you would just SPANK them with a switch or paddle more you wouldn’t have any negative behaviors to target!  Train them like you train a mule and they will always obey without hesitation”….etc.)  And perhaps there is always room for criticism if reading with a tunnel vision mindset, but it is proving to be a valuable tool for us for several reasons.  I have found myself in that mode before (with multiple little ones) where the only thing I could think of to do is spank bottoms!  Certainly a good and biblical option, but there are so many other creative and sometimes more effective ways of training that can leave spanking for some heavier things (in our opinion:  disobedience, rebellion, lying).   

One of the big things this system is helping me with is focus.   I tend to get overwhelmed by all the things I want to "work on" with my kids.  It seems to be a never ending process! Sometimes I feel like I’m slinging mud on the wall trying to fix everything at once (and wearing us all out) instead of purposefully & strategically targeting a specific behavior or habit until it is conquered. Issues like:  Saying "yes ma'am" and “no sir” without being reminded,   not leaving their room until it meets the clean standards we have set up, always speaking kindly, coming directly back to me if they need assistance to complete a command, using self control when a sibling is driving you bonkers, picking up after yourself, keeping a good attitude (including facial expressions and body language),  not dawdling during chores, etc.   This system is helping me to be able to focus with more purpose on the target behaviors we have chosen, knowing that consistency is the key and we will soon be able to move on to new things on the target list.

Rosemond has also helped me to remind me of the ever-present most important thing:  stay calm & be consistent!  And to think my way around some other ideas….you don’t always have to discipline the same offense with the same punishment.  You just have to discipline consistently.  And…you don’t have to do the punishment in that very moment (except for younger years when they need immediate results).  Rosemond says, ‘Do what you can, when you can.’   This has helped.  If a kid is unkind to their siblings at a busy time (before church or at the store, for instance) when we can’t exactly administer a discipline, later when everyone else is doing something fun or when they ask to do something, we can say….no…you were very harsh with your brother yesterday at the store, so you won’t be having that privilege today.

Another thing I really needed was the “alpha talk” talk.  Be matter of fact.  Speak what you expect – with authority - like you mean it, then walk away.  Short and sweet, administer without emotion. Less explanation.  Fewer words is better.  Not exactly my forte.  : 0 But I am listening and learning.  : )
As with any reading, you have to read with a sifter in hand.  Sift out what doesn’t apply to you and keep the good nuggets that can help you to think better.  Some of this book is about severely out-of-hand or rebellious children.  (A good tool to know about when a friend or someone at church or school comes to you desperate with a rebellious child.)  Not all of it applies to us, but there is enough good to be gained and applied in our own way.

Another good book (our first Rosemond book) is the Six-Point Plan.

Snow!  It has stopped snowing, but there is a light dusting.  I am honestly, seriously craving a good big cozy snow.  The kind that makes the world quiet and the house cozy.  I even prayed for it today.  Haters gonna hate, but snow is magic to me.

The sound of Caiden's story playing quietly and the incredible comfort of our big, noisy box fan.

I am dreaming of taking sailing lessons for my 40th birthday this summer.

Hope.  And Joy.
The brain (again).  This time, particularly the mystery of memory and how it works.  I often have completely random memories pop into my brain.  The lake by my Grandma's house.  The sound of the diving board in the neighborhood pool outside my window.  A comment from someone from years and years ago.  Weird, random, non-related snippets of memory that come up while I'm teaching or sitting in church or doing life.  The mystery is:  what triggers these memories?  What determines when they pop up? I need to get a book about it.

Speaking of remembering....the memory of sitting on the front step with my Grandma Parsons taking tiny sips of her early morning coffee after checking on the dew-damp garden.  Precious.  Priceless. Random.


I have been sitting here for a long time, fingers on keys, trying to decide what to write for this section tonight.  This is the section where I reflect on things God is teaching me.  Weak areas to tackle.  Going "farther up and farther in."  But I honestly don't know where to begin here tonight. I am thankful for spiritual peace.  I am convicted by Truth and comforted by Grace.  One of the things I am trying to do is make reading the Word a more consistent priority.  I am enjoying reading the Chronological Bible (above) in NIV.  This is not usually our translation of choice, but the language is bringing out so many things to me this time. Questions.  Lots of questions.  Thankfully I sleep with a PhD in Theology who values the Word more than anything else in His life and knows it precisely.
I consider myself an "afterschooler".  Past preschool and kindergarten, it has never been the right decision for us to homeschool.  But we have homeschooler hearts.  I used to have nature notebooks and all sorts of grand plans.  These days my biggest learning goal for my kids is pretty simple:  READ GOOD BOOKS!

David has been gone to the Phillippines, speaking at Pastors conferences for a couple of weeks.  He comes home on Tuesday night! 

Friday (Homeschooling & Family Day):  Eye exams for kids, homework/reading/practice time, and something fun. The kids are saying they want to stay home tomorrow.  So I'm hoping to do some Valentiney activities.
Saturday (Cleaning and Church Prep)
Sunday:  Worship with our amazing Church Family.  Love them. so much.
Monday:  (Date Day):  No hubby here to date, so I am spending these Mondays he is gone trying to make some serious headway on my desk.  I am not good at paper management.
Tuesday:  (Errands Day):  I am thinking of trying out a new Weight Watchers meeting on Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays.  I don't like doing my errands on Wednesdays because Wednesday nights are cray-cray around here.

Christmas tree night is a big deal to all of us.  We blast Christmas music, make hot chocolate and cookies, pull dusty tubs out of storage, scratch up our arms straightening tree branches, and end the with an imperfectly perfect tree production.  It is a magical night.

Except when it isn't.

I have learned that my own expectations for this night can sabotage my own joy and make me grouchy or sad.

Last night was Christmas Tree Night at the Fry house (November 11)! We've always put our tree up early, but this year we decided to do it maybe even a little earlier - before the Christmas Crazy hits - so that we have more opportunities to spend quiet nights around the tree.  There aren't too many quiet nights in December around here, so we're getting a head start.

I dragged 6 kids to Walmart, and bought cookies and hot chocolate mix and potatoes.  I put the hot chocolate in the crock pot and had the kids do a 15-minute boogie and light candles so the evening would start off tidy and peaceful.

We started the evening several hours later than planned, but I rolled with it.  David got home from the office late, we got home from Walmart late, David had to do some work with the dogs.  I ran out to drop off something for a student and get a Christmas movie while David pulled out the tree.

Then David called me while I was out an told me that he had an emergency hospital call to make in the next town (which meant an hour driving, plus hospital time.)  I was disappointed, but knew he needed to be there an wanted him to be.  So I keep on trucking like a good soldier.  When I got home, the kids had already put up the tree so I was encouraged that we were still moving forward.  I worked on the soup and decided to make the best of it without David.

Then we pulled out the lights and realized that I had bought the wrong kind.  So I had to run back to
Walmart and get lights.  I was still holding steady.  But when I got back from Walmart and no one was around and the living room was dark and David was home but upstairs, I didn't feel so brave anymore.  I imagined that he was up there reading or something (instead of remembering that he probably had to change out of his suit.) And I started feeling sorry for myself and irritated.

We sat down for supper - our favorite potato soup and sparkling juice - and in the middle of the meal David and I had a "marital misunderstanding."  Then I was really in trouble.  We apologized and talked it out, but by then I was really struggling to feel the warm happy Christmas Tree Night feeling.

While we put up the tree, I was easily irritated at David for taking too long to pick music on his phone or not helping the kids with the lights enough or for breathing wrong.  And Karissa was distracted with her own intensely creative ideas and wasn't engaged in the tree decorating like I wanted her to be and someone dumped hot chocolate on the freshly shampooed carpet and the 3-year-old disobeyed me and lied about it and had to be disciplined and we couldn't get the Christmas DVD to work so the teenager spent the whole time trying to solve that for us....and I was just not feeling the Christmas Tree Night peaceful fuzzies I dreamed of.

I had to keep telling myself to choose to be happy.  I kept watching to see who was engaged and who wasn't.

I'm a real treasure when it comes to high expectation for an evening, yes?

So I had to let go of my high expectations.

And here's the other big thing - I had to let my family be themselves.  To let go of micro-managing their involvement and analyzing their enjoyment levels.  I'm working on that. And I'm making progress, but I have yet to arrive.

But in the end....the tree turned out really, really gorgeous.  And although we never could get the DVD to work, we ended the evening sitting together in the living room. And one kid fell asleep on the couch an slept by the lit tree all night.   And we had warm, happy fuzzies after all.

And if David had found it necessary to stay at the hospital and hadn't been able to come back home to us in time to work on the tree, I would have had to adjust my expectations even more.

I reminded myself through the evening how blessed I was to have a husband and daddy in there helping get the lights just right.  And I reminded myself that my perceptive kids were watching me, and if I sunk into a mood of disappointment or sadness, it would affect them!

So I guess I'm just confessing that I'm still growing up.  I'm 39.5 years old.  And I'm still growing up.

And now - it's Christmas Tree Morning.  And I'm letting the kids watch a Christmas video BEFORE they've even finished their Saturday morning chores!  And I've brought my book and my blogging down in front of the gorgeous tree.  And it's kinda nice, being a grown up.

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