Category Archives: friendship

Just Show Up – a Family Christian review

Talk about a hard book. This was it. I am actually writing this a bit later than I wanted to and should have because this was a hard book. Not hard word wise but hard emotionally.

Just Show Up is blunt and beautiful. Written by two friends going through the hardest things – cancer knowing it is only going to be alright after death. Simply put this book is about friendship. But it is oh so much more! More specifically, this book is about being there and doing the things that need to be done in friendship when it is something you never can imagine having to do.

Friendship is a dance.

Really, the title says it all “Just Show Up.” Sometimes, that is all that can be done but that is all that needs to be done. Kara was ill and Jill just barely knew her. But, Jill knew something much more important – friendship doesn’t stop just because something hard comes into life and Kara needed friends. Even with a large community of friends. So, Jill showed up. And it became a beautiful friendship. From there, it became an encouraging book for us on the outside.

Just Show Up is practical. Just Show Up is truthful. Just Show Up is challenging. Just Show Up is what each of us needs. It isn’t about hospitality. It isn’t about comfort. It isn’t about feeling good. It is what is needed.


There are so many gifts that are needed during a time of hard. Jill and Kara bluntly discuss those and how to maneuver through them. Gifts such as silence, receiving, giving, friendship, and community. Gifts such as talking about the hard things like the future. Gifts such as doing the things that need to be done like cleaning the toilets or changing the diapers. Gifts are every where, in every day, in every thing.

God is not absent in this book. God is found throughout the book – in the suffering, in the action, in the love, in the sharing. In the fact that this book was written and published. God is always there and Kara and Jilll share that throughout this book.

He is good.

When something hard is going on in someone’s life, sometimes the best thing you can do is Just Show Up.

This book is a challenge to me. It spells out some of the answers to things I have said or asked and shown me the error of my ways when I thought I was trying to help someone. (I wasn’t doing a very good job.) Just Show Up spells out some of the do’s and don’t’s in hard times. It is practical. It is honest. It is beautiful.

Never too late or too early to jump in.

Just Show Up is a wonderfully fantastic read. It will be one my shelf to be revisited and reread as I grow and change and find new abilities that God has given me.

At Home.


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A Beautiful Life

A Beautiful Life

One of my memories of Vacation Bible School as a child is the puppet quartet. We had a puppet quartet that would sing a hymn as part of the daily activities. I can close my eyes and remember each of the puppets, their clothing, and how the puppets looked when they sang those high notes – singing up to God with the nose wiggling with “effort.” I loved it and those songs the puppets sang stuck with me. This is one of those songs.

A Beautiful Life

1. Each day I’ll do a golden deed
By helping those who are in need;
My life on earth is but a span,
And so I’ll do the best I can.

Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done,
Where there will be no setting sun.

2. To be a child of God each day,
My light must shine along the way;
I’ll sing His praise while ages roll
And strive to help some troubled soul.

3. The only life that will endure,
Is one that’s kind and good and pure;
And so for God I’ll take my stand,
Each day I’ll lend a helping hand.

4. While going down life’s weary road
I’ll try to lift some trav’ler’s load;
I’ll try to turn the night to day,
Make flowers bloom along the way.

If you would like to listen to it, I found a recording from a church of Christ in Salem, MA, on YouTube.

As I was thinking through these lines again, I saw a beautiful picture of friendship. Not the tried-and-true, long-term friendship. But, rather, the type friendship we should strive to have with anyone we come in contact with. The friendship of one who is “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (I Timothy 2:11) If we try to be a friend who lifts “some trav’ler’s load” or tried “to be a child of God each day” or tries to lend a helping hand, what a difference we could make for the kingdom. My goal this week is to be more of this kind of friend. I may not have many who call me a friend but maybe I can be friend, whether they’ll call me that or not, and serve God first.

At Home.

FIAR: The Rag Coat

Rag Coat FIAR

I loved the book The Rag Coat. We didn’t spend nearly the time with it that I wanted to. Things just worked out that way. The good part of that is we will be able to revisit it and do so much more with it than we did. I had planned it for the beginning of January, when it would somewhat fit the weather. With all that happened, we ended up stranded by weather for a bit and then At Home Dad did the teaching for about a week so this book ended up by the wayside. We did read it but we didn’t manage to get to many of the activities that I am going to share.

These are the plans that I had made for the book. Hopefully, you can get some use out of the plans. When we get back to the book, hopefully I will keep track and share what we end up doing with you.

As always, I had planned to use the Five In A Row guide for some of the activities.

Geography: We were going to place the icon circle at the Appalachian Mountains. We were going to talk about how the mountains are different in the eastern and western US, as well as a discussion about what makes mountains, how they are formed, what they are made of, and more.

Geography: We were going to work some more on map reading with a US map. I had planned to add a world map and work on finding mountain ranges from around the world. I also planned to pull out a topographical map to discuss elevation changes and see that in relation to the mountain ranges we identify. I was going to create a compass challenge, as well, to help the girls learn to use and navigate with a compass.

History/Culture: We had planned to study the culture of the Appalachian Mountains. The culture is quite different than what the girls have grown up around, especially when we dig back in history. We were going to take a look at the 1930 and what the Great Depression was like, what caused it, how it affected people in the US. We were planning to look at the various relationships shown in the Rag Coat and how those change and develop in the story. We were also going to speculate about how those relationships were affected by the culture in which they lived and how they might be different if we changed some of the variables in their lives.

History: Coal mining had a large impact on the Appalachian Mountains and that area of the country. We were going to study coal mining and what life was like in a coal mining town. We were going to study the jobs related to coal mining and what it did to family structures, communities, and friendships.

Art: We planned to take a deep look at quilting and sewing. Quilting is such an art form and we generally have a local quilt show in January, so we had planned to visit that. We also have some ladies at church that make a quilt for each of the graduating seniors so I had planned to ask one or more of them to discuss quilting, decision making, color scheme, fabric choices, etc. with the giggly girls. I had planned to have the girls make a 9 patch quilt of their own for one of their dolls. I had also planned to have the girls design a quilt on paper and then cut it into a puzzle.

Art: We were going to take a look at color palettes, especially warm vs. cool. The book shows a warm color palette so we were going to create a picture using chalk pastels in a warm color palette.

Art: We were going to look at viewpoint and size. Each of these has a huge impact on the art of quilting so we were going to visit an art museum that had quilts on display that were a pictures (waterfalls, houses, etc). We were going to use those to discuss the viewpoint and size choices the artist made.

Science: We planned to study coal. Its formation, uses, and chemical makeup were all on the books to study. We planned to study its extraction, as well.

Science: We had planned to study textiles and fabrics. We were going to look at cotton and wool. We have a friend who was going to let us see her shear a sheep but that didn’t work out. I have some wool from when I was younger and we were going to look at it under a microscope and study the fibers. We were going to study the process of making a fiber into a textile or fabric that can be used to create clothing with. We were going to take a look at the process of picking cotton and use a memory from my great-grandmother (I was hoping to be able to play the recording of her remembering her youth cotton-picking in Texas.). We were also planning to take a look at the cotton-gin and Eli Whitney.

Literature Connections: Other books I had around for us to look at and discuss included The Patchwork Quilt, Foxfire, Christy,  Ballet for Martha, The Keeping Quilt, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, The Quilt, and Mandie. These run the gamut of reading levels, including some chapter books for oldest.

Music: Listen to Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland. This piece of ballet music is beautiful and will capture the imagination of children. You could use it in conjunction with the book Ballet for Martha and YouTube has some videos of some of the early ballet to go with this piece. Other options for music would include a study of banjos and/or bluegrass music.

Music: There are many beautiful folk songs that originated in the Appalachians, such as “Cumberland Gap,”  “Ida Red,” “Shady Grove,” and “Paw Paw Patch.” There are lots and lots of songs that have Appalachian roots and a large number of them having singing games to go along with them.

Music/Biography: Jean Ritchie is one of the foremost authorities on authentic Appalachian music. She has a beautiful voice and is a talented instrument player. Studying the lap dulcimer and Jean Ritchie would provide a rich, unique study. While writing this, I saw that Jean Ritchie passed away at the beginning of June. Such an amazing person will be missed.


That is the gist of what was planned. Unfortunately, very little of it got done so I am looking forward to tackling it again at some point. There is a lot of rich learning to be done when you dig into books about Appalachia.

At Home.



Making Valentines – Sharing Joy

Making Valentines

Valentine’s Day is a day to show others that you are thinking of them and want them to have some joy. We are blessed to know lots of folks that we want to have joy in their lives. So, we spent the other day making some very special valentines to share. We mailed off a bundle of them to other kids on the Review Crew and have some for them to hand out to their friends. They came out so cute that we wanted to share with you what we did.

Ginny (what the giggly girls call their grandmother – pronounced with a hard G sound) saw a cute way to make hearts in one of the newspapers and told us about it. It involved using a heart template, the eraser of a pencil, and an ink pad. You can also see a bundle of tutorials on Pinterest. The girls really wanted to make hearts this way but they also loved sharing jokes with their friends last year. We decided to combine the two and make them pretty and fun all at once.

Making valentines 3

We printed out valentines from All For The Boys. She had two different versions up and we used both of them. One is black and white; the other is in color.

Making Valentines 2


We trimmed them up and then turned the girls loose with the pencils, hearts, and ink pads. They stamped hearts on the back each of the jokes.

While they stamped, I cut some glittery paper to be a frame behind the valentines. We punched a single hole in the paper and joke and tied it all together with a ribbon. The girls put names on the backs and signed them.

Fun, simple, & easy = best Valentine cards. At Home.

Field Trip with Friends

FW Bot Gar field tripA couple of weeks ago, we were able to meet some friends in Fort Worth at the Botanical Gardens. We hadn’t seen them in almost a year, even though we live as close as we do. They are almost finished with their time at the Brown Trail School of Preaching. We are praying with them for a wonderful ministry opportunity to be presented for their family.

J has been writing to their daughter, whom we will just call S on here, since they met a year ago. S visited worship services with her family one evening and she and J just had a blast! They have been penpals ever since. J talks about her often and last Halloween, they both dressed up as Cinderella without even discussing it. They are two peas in a pod.

So, we met up with S, her mom and her brother at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. All I can say about that experience is that I want to go back to the Botanical Gardens again. It was peaceful, beautiful, interesting. There was so much to see and do.

FW Bot Gar treasures

Of course, along the way, J collected all sorts of treasures. One that I found particularly fascinating was the cap to an acorn from the giant burr oak. She collected some beautiful flower petals that just didn’t make it all the way home intact. The required rocks and feathers were also among her treasures.

FW Bot Gar scavenger hunt




They had a neat scavenger hunt brochure for the kids that had them looking for things that they could see, hear, smell, and touch. It was printed on a nice paper that could be folded up and used as a telescope to view things. What they were looking for was presented as pictures with words so that even non-readers could use it easily. J and S did look for some of the things on it but they also just went along on their own observant way, finding what was interesting.

FW Bot Gar bird calls


The Botanical Gardens had a trail that is called the Texas Native Forest Boardwalk. It is extremely kid-friendly! It is a lovely walk through a forested area. It is grown so that you can see an unmolested native forest on one side and a native forest with invasive, non-native plants affecting it on the other side. Along the boardwalk, they have set up learning stations and at each station there is a theme. The theme is FW Bot Gar bird calls 2addressed through a question with answers presented in an interactive way. At one station, the question was “what is an insect?” It had pictures of several animals that we typically call insects. You lifted the picture up and it showed whether or not you were right. At another station, the kids got to press buttons that shared the call of different birds. Still another station had examples of birds’ eggs. I don’t know how much J remembers about each of the stations but I know she had fun looking and spending time with her friends.




One section that J really liked was the lily pad ponds. There are two large ponds in front of the main building that have several varieties of lily pads growing. When we first got there, not all of the lily pads’ flowers were open but by the time we went back at the end of our visit, the flowers were all open. And, the favorite part was all of the frogs that were in the ponds. These are not big, jumping frogs. These were teensy-tinesy little froggies. They ranged in size from about 1/2″ to 1″. They were so small that we missed them for the first 10 minutes we were looking at the lily pads. It was fun to find them hiding on lily pads or swimming through the water. Sometimes, they just hung out there, still as can be, in the water.

FW Bot Gar tree hugging

We easily spent a couple of hours at the Botanical Gardens and everything that we did was free. We also could have gone into some of the other sections of the gardens that they charge a small fee to enter. We chose not to on this day but perhaps another time we will.

This was a relaxing, fun field trip that was right up our alley, though we had to travel a bit to get there. It was definitely worth the trip. Seeing friends and having fun – it is hard to ever get enough of those things. At Home.

L is for Learning Together

L - learning together

We had some very dear friends spend the afternoon and evening with us the other day. The kids came over for the afternoon while their mom took care of some things and the kids had so much fun. Then we ate dinner together and chatted until well after the giggly girls bedtime. It was wonderful fellowship.

Shortly after they arrived, though, I found all six of the children (3 giggly girls, 2 visiting girls, and 1 visiting boy) huddled together talking in excited voices. Listening from across the room so that I didn’t disturb them, I realized that the oldest of our friends was excitedly sharing her art portfolio with my giggly girls and they were LOVING it. Discussions about what she drew, where her inspiration came from, what she used, what she thought, and so much more came floating across the room to my ear. I was listening, thrilled at all the learning that was going on simply by them talking to each other!

Not long after that, the oldest giggly girl went and got her portfolio (much of it was from ARTistic Pursuits – do you remember that review?). Hushed, excited voices began once again, this time with her explaining the assignment for each of her pieces, what she was trying to show, why she chose the subject she did, etc. More learning together. More thrilled listening for me.

L - art case

Next came the showing of the art case. (What are those called? I can’t think of a better word!) As our friend showed off her birthday present, the kids talked about all of the different media available and how you use them. Various pencils, chalk pastels, oil pastels, watercolor pencils, charcoal pencils, a pose-able human model, different types of erasers, and on and on. Such excitement as together, they shared their knowledge and learned from each other. Our friend talked about what she knew and the oldest giggly girl talked about what she knew and all the others put in their 2 cents worth. Together, they managed to teach each other much.

To top it off, we decided we NEEDED to create some art pieces. Since our friends had never used chalk pastels and they are so much fun AND so forgiving, we pulled them out. After looking up some ideas (check out HodgePodge), we decided to create waterfalls. Well, the lone boy decided a tornado was more his speed, so that is what he did. (And he did a fantastic job!) After one picture, it was an absolute necessity to continue using this media and creating more works of art!

L - works in progress

Lots of mess and lots of drawing and lots of laughter and lots of fun later, here is what the giggly girls and their friends created.

L - art work


Learning is good but when the giggly girls can learn together from their peers of all ages, there is just nothing like it. And I smile. At Home.

Linking up with ABC Blogging at Ben and Me blog.

Ben and Me
Also linking up with The Virtual Refridgerator at Every Bed of Roses.
Virtual Fridge Link Up

5 Ps of Homeschool Essentials – People

5 Ps of homeschooling image

Number 2 on my list of homeschool essentials is: People.

People are a part of our lives. We need to recognize that and look at the roles they play in our lives. When I was examining the list of things that I felt was necessary for homeschooling, people came up in a number of different ways. And they all had a positive effect on me. People are necessary.

For support.
For suggestions.
For feedback.
For encouragement.
For ideas.
For prayer.
For strength.
For relaxing.

Many of the people that impact me are folks that I know in real life and see or talk to often and some online friends that I chat with a lot. They encourage me; they support me; they tell me the truth; they pray for me; they help me take time for myself; they give me strength. These are family, friends, and church family. These people are important to me. Thank you to my family, friends, and church family because without you, our family would stumble a lot more than we already do.

There is another group of people that are significant contributors to our homeschooling, even if they don’t know it. These are the bloggers, pinners, and others online that willing share their experiences, materials, and ideas. These folks make it possible for me and others to take on a project that interests our kids when we don’t even know where to begin. They share their lives and educational experiences with us in this virtual world and they make a difference. Their ideas encourage me, challenge me, strike my creativity, and help me meet the needs of my kids. Thank you to all of you who fit into this area.

All people we come into contact with, in real life or the virtual world, affect us. It can be positive. Or not. I strive to avoid anything that is less than positive for our family and our educating. I’ll skip right over those posts on Facebook that are not an encouragement to me and go find that next person’s post who will help me on with my job as Christian. As wife. As mother. As educator. As a woman struggling to be where God wants me when the world tells me my place is different.

And I strive to be one of those people who will encourage you on your path, as well. This is why my number 2 homeschool essential is people. Because people make a difference.

Want more Homeschooling Essentials? Visit these bloggers.
Nicole @ Journey to Excellence

Adriana @ Homeschool Ways

Brandy @ Kingdom Academy Homeschool

Meg @ Adventures with Jude

Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Julie @ Nurturing Learning

Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures

DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor

Want still more, visit the Review Crew blog to find links to all 89 bloggers sharing this week.
5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials


For the past few weeks, I have been pondering friendship. This is not anything new or groundbreaking. I have just been thinking about it a lot.

What makes someone a good friend? More to the point, what is it that makes folks flock to someone while another person with many of the same qualities goes almost completely friendless? How does one person step into a group of people and seem as though they have been part of that group for a long time while someone who has been there for years feels left out? Is there something innate in our beings that makes us “friend quality” or not? Do we make a choice, somehow, without even knowing we have?

I desire to help my children grow their friendships so that they will have someone to lean on long before the need to lean is there. I deeply long for them to have a friend that is always there.

They are learning, bit by bit, that they will always have the most important friend by their side at all times. Jesus. There are many ways they are learning this. We tell them. Often. We take them to Bible class and worship services. Every time. We pray with them. Daily. We pray for them. Daily.

Sometimes, though, we need something tangible. Human. How do we find that and build that? I honestly do not know. I am not good at it anymore. I must have been at some point because the people that I consider to be the best friends I have ever had have been my friends for a long time. One I met when I was 5. The other I met when I was about 13. I still connect with both of them when I go home to New Mexico and often through Facebook.

So what happens between the time we are 5 and 50? Is it just that our insecurities grow and Satan whispers in our ear and we believe him? I am working on a topical Bible series of friendship verses. I don’t know what it will write on my heart but it will be good. And, hopefully, I can grow from it so that my girls will see what true friendship is like. Human, yes. But, more importantly, I want them to see the friendship I have with Jesus. At Home.

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