Speak Life

 

Time goes by so quickly.  It seems I start most of my posts by saying something similar, though.  I have goals and dreams of writing all these fabulous things, and then life happens.  Because so many other things take priority… and because so many other things weigh me down.  This weekend I had a conversation with a friend who got me thinking – we as moms of young kids really crave connection.  Even if you aren’t a super extroverted person, it’s just so vital to know that you aren’t alone.  To see someone else’s kids act up in public, to hear someone else’s daughter talk back… it somehow doesn’t make my children’s behavior ok, but it makes me at least feel like I’m not alone.  I’m not the only one fighting the battle day in and day out.   Time is flying… and yet, the hours seem to go by so very slowly on this often very lonely island called Motherhood.

And then we also talked about the elephant in the room.  Ya know, self image issues.  We both feel fat.  We’ve gained weight.  And we weren’t making excuses, just commiserating, and expressing frustration that all these people on social media seem to have some “magic drink/pill/patch” that will “fix it” for us – something that makes their life perfect.  Because her patch and my drink aren’t making it perfect for us.  It helps occasionally, but it’s not perfect.  And we’re frustrated with the image that everyone puts out there.  It seems we both want to know that we’re not the only moms who are using products that aren’t perfect, but they help.  I don’t want to hear why your product is so much better than mine.  I want to know that you have something that works most of the time for you, but that you respect my right to try something different.  She wants to hear that working out every single day doesn’t always make you lose weight.  She wants to hear that energy isn’t always found in her little patch – because it’s not magic, and some days it’s just not gonna work.  Other days, we’ll both conquer the world, thankyouverymuch, thanks to help from the products we choose to use.  But interestingly enough, as we had this random conversation, I looked her over, and thought, “dang, really I think she looks good, what’s she talking about!?”  And she looked me over and thought the very same thing!  The best part was, though, I opened my mouth… and said it.  And then she repeated my words back to me.  And when she did, she spoke life into my heart.

Because friends, the mirror is our WORST enemy.  It’s satan’s little tool to help us see all the flaws – all the curves, wrinkles, splotches, and bouncy parts.  What we need to remember is something my pastor talked about this morning… and made me think of one of my favorite TobyMac songs – we NEED desperately to be Speaking LIFE into our fellow moms.  We need to remember the power that our tongue wields over our body, and use it for the GOOD!  We need to see a random woman on the sidewalk and tell her “that dress looks gorgeous on you!”  We need to see that mom in the pediatricians office who has obviously been up all night getting thrown up on, and tell her, “I LOVE the color of your hair!  It makes your eyes look so lovely.”  And not made-up fake crap-words.  But genuinely LOOK at the moms around you.  LOOK at them.  See them for the daughters of the King that they are, and tell them the beauty that you see.  Because when we speak life into each other, we are better equipped to be moms.  Satan knows how to use that mirror first thing in the morning to lie to us and set our day off on the wrong foot.  And he will.  He’ll use it against us day after day.  He’ll use that button on the top of our jeans, and the zipper against us, too.  And don’t even get me started on that little black square that sits on the bathroom floor and taunts us with bright red numbers.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m NOT suggesting that we shouldn’t each strive to be our best.  I’m not saying that weight loss and health products aren’t good – they each serve a purpose.  But I am fully realizing that every single one of our bodies is different.  What helps one person really may do NOTHING for someone else.  And we can strive for health all day long, day in and day out, and still feel horrible about the way we look.  Because self image is probably the number one thing that women struggle with.  We change the color and style of our hair, use tons of makeup, have a billion outfits, different purses, shoes, and mountains of jewelry.  Why?  All to attempt to sort of make ourselves feel better about the way we look.  And nothing can change it.  It’s built in.  It’s going to happen.  But when we start owning this, and realizing that we CAN affect how someone else lives their day just by speaking a word of life-changing encouragement to them in a brief moment, then that’s when we start to affect change in our own lives.  Because when you speak life to others, God speaks it right back into your own heart.

We may look at a women who visually we think has it all together, but she needs encouragement just as much as we do!  You truly can’t judge a book (or a woman) by its/her cover!!

And y’all, I’m writing this to myself, too – because so many times I go introverted and just walk right on by.  But the times when I do speak up and say something to someone, the smile that they return to me is so amazing that it takes my breath away.  I will never forget the woman’s face and her smile – she was totally rocking a bright yellow dress, and as I headed in to the doctors office one day, I just had to tell her, “that dress is stunning on you!”  Her smile lit up her entire face.  Y’all, I don’t know what her number on the scale was.  I know that the size of her dress would have swallowed me whole.  But y’all, she was ROCKING that dress.  And she needed to know it.  This is what I’m talking about.  We need to look around.  And look out.  Because when all we do is look down, all we’re going to see is the bulge at our waistline and the chip on our toenail polish and the strips of cellulite peeking out from below the end of our shorts (if we dare to wear shorts – I know I don’t!).  And y’all, we aren’t the only ones with those issues and those insecurities.  We are not alone.

So let’s look out, ladies.  And let’s speak up.  And speak life.  And change lives with our words.

Process Art vs Crafts

This post has been a LONG time in coming.  Life has a way of picking us up and carrying us past goals and deadlines quicker than we expect.  And this post has been one of those experiences.  Real life around here has been busy.  To say the least.  Not only does the laundry keep piling itself higher and higher, but there’s working from home… keeping the house clean… and those two little ones that have to be cleaned and fed, too.  Homeschool is going well, though I’m glad that at the moment the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t appear to be a freight train.  Becca will start to a charter school in the fall.  Maybe then I’ll finally have time to go back and blog all of the units we have done this year… maybe.

Lately I’ve been discussing with some friends the difference between this new buzz-term “process art” vs the age-old “crafts” – and why I believe that both have a very important place in the lives of our children.  So, let’s talk about it.  And then later this week, I’m going to share with you a really fun (and messy!) process art idea, that will result in some amazing paper… that you can use for crafts!

If you aren’t familiar with the terms, let me step back for a moment and share.  Process Art is a term given to art work that is done merely for the experience of the process – the end result is inconsequential.  Process Art is all about FEELING the art, taking it all in with every one of the five senses.  And it’s about expression.  Letting your emotions and your thoughts go wild into this amazing art experience.  Process Art is beautiful.  Painting, coloring, pottery, glass blowing, and tile mosaics are all examples of process art.

Glassblowing image from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Website

So what, then, is a craft?  Crafts have a set end result.  They have a final goal in mind.  Crafts typically follow a pattern.   Color by number, paper crafts, card making/scrapbooking with a template, sticker mosaics, origami, and making those adorable little activities cut from paper with kids are all a type of craft.  When doing a craft, you typically view the end product, and expect that the product you create will look very similar to that product.  I have many friends who go to card making classes where everyone creates the same cards, and wreath making classes where they all end up with the same wreath.  When I taught, I frequently used crafts for my students for holidays and we would all create similar looking products to hang in the hallway.  They are beautiful and even though they are the “same”, they do have a touch of the creator in each of them, causing them to have little unique features.

Photos from the Stampin Up website

But, it’s because of the “sameness” that many people say children should ONLY be taught using Process Art.  They believe they should experience art to its fullest and put all of their emotions and feelings into their art, and learn that any end product is beautiful when it’s a reflection of their inner expression.

I agree with part of this.

My kids LOVE to create art.  They love to get messy with their art.  And they, like all children, don’t like to be told what to do.  They love to change things up as much as possible.  They enjoy an open invitation to art – where, for example,  there’s paper, paint, and cars on the table and they can just do whatever comes naturally to them.  And those times are VITAL to their creative expression!!

Check out this blast from the past – Painting with Cars!

But it’s also very important that they learn to follow directions, and that they come to realize how to get from point A to point B to reach an end goal.  This is where I believe crafts falling by the wayside is a travesty and a disservice to the next generation.

One of my favorite hobbies is scrapbooking.  It is truly its own art form – and is becoming more and more of a lost art as the world goes digital.  I don’t choose to follow very many templates, but every now and then, I see one that fits perfectly with what I want to do, and because I grew up doing paper crafts, I can easily analyze someone else’s template and make it happen on my own paper.  Because sometimes it’s a GOOD THING to not re-create the wheel.  (I mean, the wheel turns pretty good on its own without me changing the curves, right?)

I love to paint.  But on my own, without instruction, I’m rarely happy with my end product.  I crave instruction, and learn more technique and gain more experience with every trip I take to Painting With a Twist (read more about them in my previous blog post here).  But here’s the REAL twist – y’all, PWAT is the perfect example of combining process art with a craft.  Because you see the end product, and you follow directions to get to the end result… and yet, you’re able to make changes.  You can “go rogue” any time you want.  You can switch up the colors, and in the process of following directions to mix colors, you come up with your own shades.  And in the process of following directions to place items certain locations on the canvas, your own flair and the shake of your own hand makes the canvas’ end product uniquely yours.

At Painting With A Twist, we each follow directions to create a similar product, though each is unique to the painter.

So is there a place for those step-by-step/follow directions/ adorable little groundhog faces made from an upside down heart, and leprechauns made from shamrocks, and First Thanksgiving books made from millions of pieces of paper cut to certain specific sizes?  YES!!!  Our kids NEED to know how to follow directions, how to work to reach an end goal, and need to learn when it’s ok to tweak those instructions to make the end product uniquely theirs.

In other words, there is a place for both art AND crafts in this world.  Look at the amazing crochet hats and blankets folks make.  The incredible needlepoint works.  And look at Van Gogh and Picasso.  There has always been room in the past for both.  I’m not real sure why folks now, in 2017, are trying to do away with crafts – an art form that has easily existed alongside “Process Art” for thousands of years.  Why not encourage our children to do a healthy helping of each?

And seriously – is there a mom of a 2 year old anywhere in this world that wouldn’t love hanging this adorable craft on her fridge? I doubt it!

So later this week, I hope you will check back here for a super fun Process Art activity… and some ways to use the product in some really cute crafts!

Remembering Rahab


She stood and looked out of her window. And she prayed. To a God she had only just heard of. She didn’t know why, but the men she had hidden had something about them that made them different. Maybe it was because they trusted HER. Maybe it was because her past didn’t seem to matter to them. Maybe it was because their God really was her God, too, and in His providence He had brought them to her door. Surely that must be it! This God they served had to be real. Only time would tell. Her family thought she was crazy. How could a scarlet cord as red as her sins hanging from their window possibly save their lives?  
Perhaps she had cousins who denied and did their own thing. Perhaps even her own parents and some of her own children did not even believe. We will never know.
And yet, she prayed. Despite what everyone thought of her, she stopped and stared out of her window and waited. The Israelites were coming. She could see them marching. In the distance, they looked like a thousand ants swarming. The people in the city were talking. Everyone knew they were coming. And Rahab knew everyone would be destroyed. The few friends she had. The family who didn’t trust her. Everyone. But the men had promised her and all in her house salvation. Because she displayed her sin. The scarlet cord flapped in the hot breeze… an ever present reminder of every sin- her very own “Scarlet Letter,” ages before the book would ever be written. Those sins would soon be gone. Her past would be merely a memory. If the men had been right.

She prayed they were right. She trusted their God to save her. And because of her faith, she played a vital role in the lineage of Jesus Christ. She, a prostitute. She, who was not a Jew. She, with all of her flaws, shares a place in His history with the likes of Naomi and Mother Mary. She is a perfect example of being set free from our stains. We are all human. And no matter what we have done, with simple faith, He waits to take that cord from our window and cleanse it in the sweet bleach of His death and resurrection. All we must do is ask Him to take our mountain of dirty laundry, and He’s there, to clean every spot. His death, and even more, His resurrection, takes my Mount Laundry and makes it no more; takes my scarlet cord and washes it white as snow.

Easter is coming!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Activities

Well, so if you’re homeschooling, you may not officially have a Spring Break… or if you are public/private schooling, you may have kids who are constantly wanting SOMETHING to keep them busy!  Either way, I’ve got two fun activities for you that kids of all ages could enjoy this week as we prepare for St. Patrick’s Day.

First, if you’ve got kids under age 7, who are working on spelling, reading, or even just recognizing their color words, this super fun and easy craft stick rainbow activity is for you!  I wrote for my kids, but for older kids you could easily practice spelling and handwriting in a small space by having them write the color words on the sticks.  (Or older siblings can write for the younger ones!)

I simply had my kids squeeze glue (working on those fine motor skills!) onto the back of a thick paper plate (to provide a nice solid backing).  Then, lay the labeled craft sticks in order of the rainbow.  (I purchased colored craft sticks at Walmart, but you could also have them color or paint plain sticks.)  Then stretch your cotton balls and glue on top.  Once it is totally dry, you can cut off the excess plate and display your beautiful rainbow!

I wish I could take total credit for this next idea, but I can’t.  I saw on Pinterest somewhere a cute rainbow handprint painted sign… and then I downloaded this FREE set from Teachers Pay Teachers that was created by Lindsey from The Teacher Wife.  The two activities melded together well.

The thing I love about her free printable activity is that it’s very flexible for kids of all ages and stages.  To make my pots, I simply cut black construction paper out around Lindsey’s pot template and then cut out the coins from her template from yellow construction paper.  Becca decided she would draw her picture first, and then tell me what to write about it.  She is the one who picked that it would be a friend theme – the actual writing template says “Who is worth more to you than gold?”  She decided that Gray’s should have his friends, too, so I used the blank pieces from the set and just printed out pictures of him with his friends since he wasn’t interested in drawing them on the paper.  I just asked him who he wanted me to include and he told me.

There are multiple other template options in the set that would work for a variety of different ages.  In fact, the two blank pot pieces I used for Gray’s pictures could also easily be used in comic strip fashion and made into a pot of gold comic book by your older artists who are really dying for an engaging project this week.  I would love to see how you modify this to make it your own!

The rainbow painting was simple – I just pulled out paint, painted each child’s hand for each color, and used legal length paper to fit the most handprints together on one page.

**Note – baby wipes work great to get paint off between each color, and then you can do in-depth soap and water cleaning when you’re all done.  I prefer to use acrylic paints because they dry quickly, but they are prone to staining clothing, so if you prefer, use a washable finger paint or add dish soap to tempera paint before using.

 

Rainbow Science with Celery!

Looking for a fun, easy, and inexpensive science project to keep your kiddos excited this Spring Break in prep for St. Patrick’s Day?  Here’s a project that you can take as in depth as you want, or just set it up and leave it and look back every day!

What you’ll need are some tall cups (we used some old plastic ones), red, yellow, and blue food coloring, water, and some celery.  You’ll also need some kitchen shears or a knife to trim and split the stalks.

For our experiment, we set a control group of three stalks – one in each color – and then we also had our experimental group to see if the colors would mix and blend together over time.  We talked about why scientists often have a control group, and in this case we wanted to be able to simply watch the capillary action without the color mixing aspect.  For our control group, we also chose to use stalks with no leaves.  (Becca’s idea – remember, to follow your child’s lead and have them share their reasoning behind their ideas.  Learning comes through experiencing!)  In the control group, we created several small slits in the base of the celery stalks to speed the absorption of the colors.

Then for our color blending experiment, we split the celery stalks down the center, about halfway up the stalk, and then created smaller slits in the base of the stalks just like in the control group.  By putting the three glasses of red, yellow, and blue water into a triangle, we could easily stick a stalk into red and yellow, one in yellow and blue, and one in blue and red.  We talked about which colors we were trying to create, and Becca told Gray all about how mixing colors works, which was a great learning experience for both of them.

Then, Becca made her predictions.  She predicted that the blue would climb the stalk the fastest, and that purple would be the first color combination we would see show up.

By just a few hours in, the blue color in the control group was already showing, and hints of blue were showing in the experimental group as well.  She was so excited that her first prediction was correct!  We’ll leave the celery stalks out for one week and discover if the colors will blend in the stalks, or if they will stay as separate colors.

For older kids, you can easily use this lesson to discuss how roots distribute water to the rest of the plant, and even to illustrate how our blood vessels carry blood to the rest of our bodies.

ALTERNATE IDEA: If you have easy access to white carnations, they are easy to do this with, as well, and the results are quite lovely (and will be pretty to look at for quite a while.)  Just be careful when you split the stems in half to put into the colored water because they are easily breakable.  Also, you won’t need to create slits in the base of the stem, simply make sure to cut the stem at an angle for optimum water absorption.

Looking for easy and fun rainbow activities for your toddlers?  Check out these ides from my friend, Melissa over at Rolling Prairie Readers!