Hi, I’m Danica.

I guess I’m a lot of things: a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a crafter, a cook, a reader, a writer, a homemaker, a pianist, and probably a lot more too. But at the end of the day, I’m just a Christian trying to find and obey God’s will.

tender shoots Apr 3

Some days are just all small and simple, just like the ones that came before and the ones that will come after, but suddenly something beautiful and really big happens. It doesn’t even always feel big. Sometimes, I’m sure, I miss the moments completely. But days of sowing and praying and faith will yield fruit, and just a glimpse of a tender green shoot completely excites me.

This boy. Lanky and long. Learning. This is him, slipping out of his bed to proudly show me his latest journal entry. The journal he begged me for, which he now keeps near his bed. A little record of the Bible passage he’s read, his little thoughts on it, the prayers that are in his heart. A treasure trove. “Psalm 100. Praise, like, wow, it’s like a super power.”

This boy. He lays in bed and asks Jameson about heaven, about knowing that you’re going there. Ryan hears and brings him out to the quiet family room, where the three of us chat about Jesus, about the gospel, about knowing that you’re His. He prays, and then his eyes shine. He beams. The next morning, he beams. I ask in devotions if anyone has a testimony, and he jumps at the chance to say it: Last night, I got saved!

We rejoice. Jameson bounces in his seat, his eyes beaming now, too. “Can we all tell about when we got saved? Can we??”

He runs to the kitchen. We wait. And wait. Finally he appears.

“It was at the dinner table. Daddy talked to me. He drew me a picture, kinda like this, I think.”

He produces his version of this sketch.

“We all are trying to be good enough, to jump far enough, but we can’t and we fall down to the devil. But Jesus is over here, and then He comes to us. And He brings us over when we believe in Him.”

Yes! We all beam.

Can we sing that song for Easter?, they ask. So we end our happiest of devotions:

Jesus is alive!
The angels say.
Be glad, be glad
It’s Easter Day.

*****

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

My heart is filling.

snowy spring Apr 3

The snow has been epic this year, just the way I remember it as a child. We’ve trudged through snow that easily went above my knees, drifts up to my thighs, mounds in which little girls could easily get lost. Paths, forts, angels, trenches, you name it, it’s happened. Except for snow men. Because up here, in the North where it really actually snows for keeps until the absolute very end of winter, kids don’t just run outside and make snowmen. It’s too cold. The snow is flaky and light and as sparkly as fairy dust — and it packs like fairy dust, too. Once in awhile, the temp will eek its way towards 30, and I say, “Hey, let’s see if we can make a snowman! Or maybe just a snow ball. Or… Hey, wanna make snow angels?”

So, when the snow dumped once again on Sunday, and it was wet and heavy and horrible for shoveling, we finally got to make a snowman! Beatrice sang to him. She asked to marry him. William wouldn’t leave his side. Jameson was on to the next thing. Ha!

I was so glad. Finally. We finally got our snowman.

What’s funny about this is that two years ago this week, Jameson was taking the training wheels off his bike and zooming down our yard, wobbling and falling and getting grass stains. Ha! I love the North Country. It’s always beautiful. That’s about all you can be sure of!

*****

The rest of the week has been hovering around 40*. It’s practically summer! The kids get all crazy and wear their winter coats unzipped. You know what? They don’t have a clue that my forsythia bush is buried in a mountain of snow and ice, even though it usually would be budding. And they’re happier for it! Why wouldn’t they be? It’s another day that the Lord made, and it is good.

Fiona’s first “I’m hanging out with the kids!” day. She loved it.

last weekend Apr 3

My boys sang a song for Grandparent’s Day (an annual event through the home schooling program we’re a part of, consisting of choir performances, a talent show, and yummy muffins and coffee cakes!) They worked hard and courageously, completely unfazed by the last-minute nature of it all. They sang with sweetness and joy. Watching them perform from my vantage point at the piano, I purposely memorized the shining eyes, the quivering mouth overcoming a bout of nerves, the dimples, the clear soprano boyishness of it all.

“Boys, I will remember that song forever. I’m going to keep it in my heart.” Jameson smirked and retorted, “Oh yeah? What about when you die? That’s not forever, is it?”

Boyishness, I tell ya. Every variety.

(And now I can’t upload the video. *sigh* Good thing I’ve got it in my heart, because I’ll just never be very good at files and MBs and error codes and such.)

*****

Last Saturday was the final game day of the Upward basketball season. Excitement was high. It was even higher when I said we could stay for the cousin’s games. And it skyrocketed when I announced that after basketball, there was a Grandkid Playday at Nana and Papa’s! Things just don’t get any better.

Missing a handful of babies. Just the “big kids” for special events like this!

Things just don’t get any better.

seven months of fiona Mar 26

She’s been around seven months, or so the calendar says. Gone like a breath. Sweet days, but fleeting.

Happy. She’s found a happy groove. Rolling all around the room, never ending where she began. Talking and screeching and loving to be a part. So big. So cheerful. So precious to us all.

six months:

five:

four:

three:

two:

one:

new:

See? Just like that.

It flies. It drags. It’s sweet. It’s terrifying. It’s highs and lows and calm and turbulent and mundane and beautiful and everything in between. But in the end, it passes. A wise man knows, numbers, and remembers his Creator.

means, ends, and tyrannical tools Mar 19

You know those “job descriptions” of a mom that include everything from taxi driver to medic? They’re funny to read, and they’re certainly true enough, but confession:

I get things topsy-turvy.

I easily get into Nutritionist mode and forget that that’s not actually my job. Learning about health and nutritions is simply a means to an end: nurturing and caring for my children. I get into Housekeeper mode and suddenly we will have a clean house! Now! OR DIE TRYING!!

My means become the end. And my true end becomes collateral damage.

*****

You’ll hear me and so many other home schooling mamas say, “Your curriculum is a tool, not a master. It’s there to serve you, and not the other way around.”

I think of that this week. I have lots of tools in my box — not just my “mom” box, but in my “life” box. But too often I stop seeing them as tools to serve me in my goal as disciple and disciple-maker, and I begin serving them. An organized home is a blessing as I raise children who love order and work and peace. But an organized home is a terrible slave master, showing no mercy, when I let it become tyrant rather than tool. Healthy eating is a serious responsibility with lifetime effects, and I want us to be responsible with these bodies. But nutritional eating is a master that will drive you to the brink of nervous breakdown if you let it become your end, and not the means. Those are just two examples, but I’m amazed at how well that applies to every single good endeavor. (Being On Time to Church, Family Devotions, Modest Dress, Coupon Clipping, Real Play Only, Chore Charts, Gas and Mileage Savings, Bible Study Attendance, Exercise, Good Book Reading, Theological Studies… All fabulous tools and terrible Masters.)

*****

Who’s in charge here?

That’s a question worth asking myself regularly.

What’s the End (knowing and loving Jesus, and loving those I’m called to in a way that shows them Jesus), and what are the means? The end usually requires the means (don’t throw babies out with bathwater), but let’s not get lost somewhere in the middle, chasing our tails.

Hone my skills with the tools in my box. Learn how to use them. Walk by the Spirit, knowing which tool to use when, and when to lay your favorite one aside for a season. The Holy Spirit isn’t a tyrant: when I feel like I’m slave to a dictator (including my own selfish desire for clean and quiet), chances are I’ve lost sight of the Goal and have become servant to a tyrannical tool.

Down with tyrants. I’m all for freedom.

*****

Because we all like pictures in our posts:

catching up Mar 8

the baby

She’s six months old. Already heading towards seven months, twelve months, childhood. She rolls. Chews. Laughs. Verbalizes in an attempt to do what she sees us all doing. Cries at dinnertime every night. Wakes up early, thus ending my season of early morning walks alone. Ushering in a season of mornings with Fiona.

our days

Several days of not getting outside together have happened lately. I notice. I read about maintaining hardstops in your homeschooling days — times that, no matter what is in the middle of happening, every stops and gathers. For us, right now, those times are morning devotions and going outside after lunch. We may spend every single moment of the day together, but those times are together. I notice when we miss it. It’s good for my soul to just put the rest on hold and take a breath, recalibrate, see these people and hear the Holy Spirit.

We get ants-in-our-pants this time of year. Don’t we all? After being outside for a long trek two weeks ago, I packed up already-dressed kids and headed to the library. “Does anyone remember the #1 rule of the library?” Nope. It’s been that long. We left with the most ridiculous pile of books and days of excitement over new stories to read and pages to turn and worlds to discover. Thank You, Jesus, for dropping that idea in my head.

speaking of…

For history, we’ve been using Beautiful Feet Early American history. I was excited to have a curriculum that I could just do when there wasn’t time or energy to be creative, but also would allow for creativity and extras when appropriate. I love history, I love reading, and I love bunny trails, so literature-based unit approaches are the ticket. Of course, there is no perfect curriculum. What works now won’t work then, or for them, or for you, or whatever the variables may be! I’m the teacher. Curriculums are tools to use as I see fit. (Thanks, Mom, for modeling that!) We’ve very much enjoyed adding plenty of titles to our studies, as well as making up writing assignments and art projects and character studies (which sounds so official, but it’s just 2nd grade and K!) So far, some favorite additional titles have been Living Long Ago, A Viking Adventure, Exploration and Conquest, Blood on the River, and Our Strange New Land. We are, at last, about to leave Jamestown behind and plow ahead to 1620! Speeding right along. ;-)

still about books

One of the first ships carrying women and children to Jamestown was shipwrecked in the Bermudas, and its story inspired Shakespeare to write The Tempest. Well, you can’t just breeze over that fact! So we looked at William Shakespeare. I borrowed this book from the library, but thought it was really shooting for the moon. A 7 and 5 year old boy, sit and listen to a Shakespeare play? Really?

Really! They were on the edge of their seats! Clearly, he was a great playwright! At any rate, I recommend that series for an intro to Shakespeare.

Totally unrelated, I borrowed this book from the library. I mean, come on. Who could pass up those illustrations?

We read it. We talked about the paintings and the emotions they evoke. Then we listened to the Queen of Jazz. All this while eating pb&j around our kitchen table at lunch. Homeschooling doesn’t always feel like magic. But it’s incredible.

also

Jameson loves jazz. He wants me to buy him a jazz piano book. Mean Mama says not yet. Read that music, boy, and then we’ll talk.

Jameson also split his chin open and got himself some bright blue stitches.

Beatrice sings every song from The Sound of Music. Also, Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep. All day long. While she twirls in her dress up skirt and does ballet. She quite genuinely thinks she’s the boss, but she’s learning.

William quietly is flying through his kindergarten math work. He loves every opportunity to better his reading skills. He cares for Beatrice and Fiona with tenderness.

There is the usual slacking off with chore diligence, heightened propensity toward bickering, and general end-of-winter troubles. Funny how life will routinely provide you with opportunities to deal with the sin inside. We’ll be happy when grass is growing and all, but right now is a chance to look at ourselves frankly and say, “Lord, change me.”