..."popsicles on the porch"...what a great afternoon treat and our favorite way to spend time together! These are simple and precious moments! Princess #1 and Princess #2 along with Little Man #1 and #2 are my inspiration for most of these writings.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What are we saying to our daughters.....

I overheard the girls talking with one another the other day….one tells the other, “you know, little girls don’t have hair underneath their arms. Mommies do, so they need to shave because girls aren’t suppose to have hair on their arms.”

"Ooohh…that’s gross!”~the other chimes in. 

Interesting that this conversation also took place the same week that another asked me why I shave my legs and curiously asked me if she could one day shave her legs too.  “Sure, one day” I replied. That answer seemed to satisfy her curiosity, so we left it at that.

Innocent questions. 

However, after reading this shocking and disturbing article it got me thinking about the messages we might unknowingly send to our captivated little girls who are watching mommy and forming their own ideas about what a woman's body "should" look like.

My first thought after reading this article was, “are you kidding me!  A boob job is one thing, but giving a gift certificate for a FUTURE boob job to a 7 year old who hasn’t even hit puberty…absurd!!! What is she thinking?” 

While it’s so easy to judge this mom, as I thought about what must have been going through her mind, I had a shift of emotions. I went from outrage to anger to sadness.  This poor mom must have a very low view of self, so much so that she is passing on her own insecurities to a daughter who hasn’t even lived long enough to develop yet. It’s really sad when you think about it.

While most of us might find this mother's actions very disturbing, it did get me thinking about the negative self images we all carry in one form or another and how we may be unconsciously passing those on to our girls….something to really think about.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Date Night (4 Kids Later)

As our family grows, date night looks a little different these days. We're learning how to be a little more intentional and creative in order to get a little more "quality time"... our primary love language.

We've learned this works best when we let the kids in on our plans and explain to them that mommy and daddy are going to have a "date night" at home together.  Initially, there used to be protesting, but now the girls really seem to get excited about daddy taking mommy on a date -- even if it is just to the living room!  While the boys have no clue of what's going on, Tim really does such a wonderful job of explaining how important it is for mommy and daddy to have some grown up time together. 

So here's what it may look like.......The kids are all bathed, have eaten and are all tucked in bed by 8:00pm.  The girls are able to stay up a little later and love to camp out in their room together. We help them have their own movie experience complete with popcorn and candy providing they stay in their room while mommy and daddy have their date. 

On occasion, Tim fires up the grill and we have a low lit dinner on the porch followed by a movie we've been wanting to see.  

We haven't gotten into the whole Netflix thing yet, but I am a little curious about it, so if you use it, what has your experience been? 

The other night we watched Country Strong with Gwyneth Paltrow and Garret Hedlund. I was a little reluctant to watch it, but you can't really go wrong with Gwyneth Paltrow....she's such a great actress. 

While the movie did not disappoint, what I loved most was the movie soundtrack. Gwyneth did a great job and I absolutely loved Garret's deep piercing voice. I'd never really heard of  Leighton Meester either, but am slowly becoming a fan. ; ) 

Needless to say, the Country Strong Soundtrack is on repeat around the Barosh home these days. Here is my favorite, "Timing is Everything" followed closely by "Give in to Me".

"Give in to Me"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pruned to Bloom

Have you ever experienced a season of pruning? Scripture often uses an earthly example to explain a spiritual principle.

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:1-2).”

I came across this tender and thought provoking story by Bunny Wilson that really captures the beauty and importance of pruning in the Christian life. 

Once upon a time, there was an old grape branch; 
it had been growing in the vineyard for a long time. 
One day a new branch was planted in the next row. 
The younger branch grew, developed more branches, and bore fruit. 

Taking courage one hot summer day,the young branch 
looked up at the old branch and said in its squeaky voice, 
“It must be great to have people travel from miles 
around just to taste the sweetness of your fruit.” 
The old branch nodded. 

Feeling encouraged, the young branch continued, 
“I have been talking with the other branches in the garden, 
and they say yours is the sweetest fruit.” 
The old branch smiled. 
“When I grow up, I want to be just like you! 
How can I have sweet fruit like yours? 
I’ll do anything you say.” 

As the old branch looked down at the young branch, 
he remembered the day when, as a young branch himself, 
he had asked an old branch the same question. 
In his baritone voice, 
he gave the young branch the same answer he had received earlier: 
“Be willing.”

The young branch mused in frustration, 
Be willing? 
I tell him I’ll do whatever it takes to have sweet fruit, and all he can say is 
“Be willing?"

Then he turned to another branch and 
began carrying on what he felt like was meaningful conversation. 
Each day there was constant chatter in the vineyard 
as the branches shared the latest gossip 
and wasted the hours away by comparing the sweetness of their fruit. 
The young branch knew there was no other place he’d rather live. 

One cool autumn morning, 
the young branch was awakened by the sound of the 
old brown, weathered gate opening.
As he looked at the end of the row, in stepped the gardener. 
Normally when the gardener came to visit, 
the vines would clap their leaves together and shout in delight.
But something unusual was taking place that day. 
A hush swept over the garden. 

The young branch glanced over at the old branch, 
who didn’t seem to be disturbed;
so the young branch directed his attention back to the end of the row. 

The gardener stopped by the first branch in the row; 
the young branch was sure he had come to compliment his friend on her fine growth. But watching intently, he saw the gardener bend on one knee, 
reach into his back pocket, pull out what looked like sharp scissors,
 and move toward his friend. 

Instinctively the branch at the end of the row pulled her leaves back, 
and the young branch heard her plead, 
“No, no, why are you doing this to me?
 Haven’t I been sweet? Didn’t I bring honor to the garden? 
Please, please, don’t do this to me!” 
Before the young branch could blink, 
his friend lay on the ground except for the nub. 

The young branch turned to the old branch and asked in a low, fearful voice, 
“What’s happening? Why did the gardener do that?” 
The old branch did not respond. 
The young branch strained to understand and then blurted out, 
“Oh I get it! We thought the gardener liked that branch, but he really didn’t like her.” 

The old branch responded, “No, that’s not true. In fact, what you just saw the gardener do proves he loves that branch.” 
“Oh. I knew that. Let me try again. We thought that branch’s fruit was sweet, 
but it really wasn’t sweet.” 

“That branch’s fruit was sweet.”
“Okay, okay; I know the real reason. That branch did something wrong, 
so the gardener is punishing her; he’s just not telling us why.” 

The old branch answered, “That branch is not being punished. Listen carefully—your friend is being pruned. Not because she was trying to do things wrong,but because she was trying to do things right. Not because her fruit was sweet, 
but because the gardener wants it to be even sweeter.” 

“But that doesn’t seem fair!” protested the young branch. 
“Just look at her. She’s been cut down to the nub. Now all the people who come to taste the sweetness of her fruit will laugh and judge the branch.” 

“Only those outside the garden who don’t understand will laugh and judge the branch.” 

“Only those outside the garden who don’t understand? That branch didn’t understand! 
Did you hear her say, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’” 

The old branch was quiet for a long time and then responded slowly,
“Unfortunately, what you are saying is true. It’s one thing when people outside the garden don’t understand, but when those inside the garden—especially the ones being pruned—don’t understand, it causes a lot of confusion, disappointment, and pain. 
Those branches down at the end of the row will have to listen to your friend murmur and complain until she blooms again.” 

The young branch proclaimed, “Well, you don’t have to worry about being pruned. You have the sweetest fruit in the garden!” 

“I want to be pruned.” 
“You what? It must hurt, and you’re going to look funny.” 

The old branch chuckled and replied, 
“I must admit it’s quite uncomfortable. You see, my young friend, I know I look good to you,but I have a fungus growing on my underside that no one can see. 
If it remains, it will diminish the quality and quantity of my fruit. No, when the gardener comes to prune me, I won’t pull my leaves back. I’ll lift myself high in the air to make his job easier.” 

Trembling, the young branch responded, “I don’t understand.” 
With compassion, the old branch replied, 
“Did you see that branch the gardener just tore off and threw over the fence? 
It didn’t belong in this garden at all and will be burned in the fire.” 

“Wow!” exclaimed the young branch. 
“When the gardener comes to prune you, remember that the gardener only prunes the branches that belong to him, which makes it an honor. 
He doesn’t prune you because you’re trying to do things wrong, 
but because you’re trying to do things right. 
It’s not because you’re not sweet, 
but because he wants you to be sweeter. 
And always remember, my young friend, 
the very fact that you’re being pruned means you will bloom again.” 

Just then the gardener stopped by the old branch, 
and the young branch saw the old branch raise his leaves high in the air. 
He heard a snip, and the old branch lay on the ground except for the nub. 

Then the gardener turned to the young branch. 
His leaves were shaking, and tears rolled down his side, 
but with every ounce of strength he raised his leaves high in the air. 
He looked up into the gardener’s face and said,
“Kind and gentle gardener, I’m willing.”

While not always pleasant, pruning is essential in growing a vineyard. In fact, every year up to 90% of the vine is cut away!  "A wise gardener knows that pruning positively affects the quantity and quality of the fruit produced."

According to Bunny Wilson, we usually find ourselves in one of three places:

1. We have just been pruned
2. We are growing back after pruning
3. We are in full bloom

Where do you find yourself in the pruning process?  

If you're in a season of pruning,be encouraged that in the midst of our struggles, there is one who can identify with us.

But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities, 
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, 
and by his wounds we are healed. 
Isaiah 53:5

Like the young branch, may we too raise our branches high and willingly submit ourselves into the hand's of our kind and gentle Gardener.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Laying Down The Rails

Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook
For those of you who know me, you know that I love to read! I am a researcher at heart. This is a favorite on my bookshelf. I find myself from time to time coming back to this wonderful reference book by Charlotte Mason, called Laying Down The Rails. If you've never heard about Charlotte Mason you can learn more about her here

Charlotte emphasized the importance of character building and habit training and likened it to laying down rails on which our children's lives could run smoothly. 

This book is chalked full of so many wonderful nuggets and quotes. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

"The Mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days."

Smooth and easy days! Isn't that something we all want? Yet, the implication here is that without the hard work of training, discipline, and etc...our days will be anything but smooth and easy.

If you'd like to learn more about habit and character training this book is a must have for sure! Habits are divided into 5 easy to reference sections along with practical suggestions and how to's in the following areas:

  • Decency and Propriety Habits
  • Mental Habits
  • Physical Habits 
  • Moral Habits
  • Religious Habits

“Just as it is on the whole easier for the locomotive to pursue its way on the rails than to take a disastrous run off them, so it is easier for the child to follow lines of habit carefully laid down than to run off these lines at his peril. It follows that this business of laying down lines towards the unexplored country of the child’s future is a very serious and responsible one for the parent.  It rests with him to consider well the tracks over which the child should travel with profit and pleasure; and along these tracks, to lay down lines so invitingly smooth and easy that the little traveler is going upon them at full speed without stopping to consider whether or not he chooses to go that way”~Charlotte Mason

You can find Laying Down the Rails here. For more Charlotte Mason Stuff, be sure to check out www.simplycharlotte.com


Friday, March 25, 2011

Portrait of A Foolish Woman

"She has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men." (Proverbs 7:26)

The portrait of a foolish woman is painted in great detail in proverbs 7. Most presume the foolish woman presented here is the adulterous or promiscuous woman. We skip over this passage assuming it doesn't really speak to us.

However, as I was reading through this chapter I was surprised at how this verse relates to so many of us; not just the adulterous woman.

I love how God breathes a fresh word into old and familiar passages!

As was highlighted in chapter 5 of Biblical Womanhood in The Home,"although we may not be physically adulterous or promiscuous, most of us have unwittingly adopted some of the characteristics that ultimately could lead to the ruin and downfall of the men around us."

Nancy DeMoss goes on to say:

 "The Foolish woman can be an instrument of casting down many men. She may do so by means of sexual seduction (as the woman in proverbs 7), OR she may do so subtly, by means of discouragement, spiritual pride or intimidation."

Wow! What a sobering truth that "I could be the instrument of any man's undoing, no matter how strong he might be! Even men who are spiritually mature can be brought down, controlled, wounded, and destroyed--by a foolish woman."

As I reflect on my relationship with Tim and my role as a pastor's wife, the weight of this can be very challenging at times. There isn't a "rule book" given to Pastor's wives to know how to fulfill your pastor's wife duties, yet there is an unspoken one that exists.  It can be difficult living in the tension of people's expectations of you and what the Bible calls us to.

As I think about the call God has on my husband's life as a pastor, I realize the huge part I play as his helpmate. It's sobering to think that I could intentionally or unintentionally "cast down" the mighty man God is creating and calling him to be. Not to mention, the effect I could have on his ministry and the calling he has been given. Wow! Talk about accountability! I can choose to be his cheerleader or the anchor that "cast him down." Ultimately, it is my choice and one that I will have to give an account for.

Questions I often have to ask myself are:  How do I build him up?  How do I honor and respect him as the spiritual leader of our home? How do I honor him in front of others and behind closed doors? How am I at cheering him on and praying with and for him?

You may not be a pastor's wife, but you too are called to be your husband's helpmate. How are you honoring him, cheering him on and praying that God uses him in a mighty way? As you imagine yourself before the Lord one day, would you be considered a wise woman or a foolish woman?

I shudder at the thought of having to give an account for being a woman who "cast down" her husband.

Challenging read Ladies!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Remember the Alamo!"

March 2nd was Texas Independence Day! Knowing we had a trip planned to San Antonio I decided to capitalize on both and strayed a little from our normal curriculum to do a study of Texas history!

The kids had fun learning about The Texas Lone Star Flag, our state bird, and flower!

We also checked out some great books from the library and had fun
 learning about heros like Davy Crockett! 

The girls really enjoyed learning about the Alamo, but there is nothing like seeing the real thing in person! Isa was especially ecstatic when she spotted Old Betsy, Crockett's rifle on display.  I of course enjoyed seeing them ooh and ahh as they connected the events we had been learning about.

Here are the girls having fun shooting their own pics with their cameras!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How we Found Classical Conversations:
Have you ever known you were “supposed” to do something, but were scared to take that next step?  Isn’t it amazing how fear and doubt can creep in and keep you from all the good things God has in store for you on the other side?  All the “what ifs” seem to flood your mind i.e. “what if I mess up, what if I can’t do it,

what if,

what if,

   what if!!!

It’s a battle for your mind and heart! A test!

What will you choose?

Will you choose to stay put because it’s safer, it’s easier, more comfortable, it makes the most sense, and etc….

In every major season of my life, there has always been a battle for my mind and heart. This is where I found myself yet again when I felt the call to homeschool.

 Even though I was convinced of the educational and spiritual advantages to homeschooling  (see previous post)I was still afraid to let goThe thought of swimming against the culture (even Christian) was really scary.  But, just because something is the “norm,” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right thing.  Public education was not right for our family because God had distinctly moved in our hearts and called us to be a homeschooling family. Therefore, it would have been wrong for my family to go public. We would have been deliberately disobeying the word God had given to us.
However, as the new school year was approaching, I started doubting the word God had spoken to our hearts. The "what ifs" flooded my mind. I recognized this battle for my heart and mind unfolding before me as I had been there many times before. Yet, despite my fear and lack of faith, God still met me. I love His patience with us!  

He knew I needed a little push out there and that’s just what He did!

How God Continued to confirm His word in our hearts
My family was in the middle of a big move. If you’ve ever experienced a move with little ones in tow (including a newborn), then you know just how difficult it can be.

Not wanting to put my 5yr old in kindergarten, just to uproot her in a few short months, I knew it was time to take that leap of faith. God was pushing me out there and using our move to do so! I finally had the courage to step out in faith. Besides, I thought, "how bad could I mess up kindergarten?!!" ; )

Little did I know that selling our house in such a tough market would take 10 long grueling months. I say grueling because my husband had to commute every day 1.5hrs each way for 10 months! We’re talking almost 1 full year!! It was brutal; especially having such small children and a newborn in the mix.

Despite the challenges of moving, we had a very successful first year homeschooling. My kindergartner learned how to read in just four short months, was writing well, and really loving learning in general. I couldn’t have asked for a better year!

My husband was very impressed with the results of our first year homeschooling and encouraged me to try another year. He wanted to see what another year would look like now that our move was behind us. I was curious too, but still a little nervous. Fear started to creep back into my heart.  Kindergarten was one thing, but how far would we take this? I began doubting the word God had put in my heart, yet again. 

Sidenote: Do you ever feel like an Israelite? They were a bunch of whining babies always forgetting God’s miracles? Always grumbling about all the whys and hows?

 Oh wait….that sounds like me!

Fear of the unknown had crept back in. I was just so scared to have the education of my children rest solely in my hands. I know that sounds terrible, but I am a product of the public system, it’s all I’ve ever known. Yet, the reality is, there are other ways. We do have other viable options.

Needless to say, going against the grain was causing me to have to “unlearn” a few things.  Not only was I learning how to homeschool, juggling the storms of fear, but then the infamous “what about socialization?” question crept in. 

I know this is the first question that most people ask in opposition to homeschooling, but honestly that had always been the furthest from my mind. My children are highly social, boisterous and competitive little beings that aren’t afraid of meeting new people, and love  to talk your ear off if given the chance! With our involvement in church and other extra-curricular activities and friends we hoped to make in our new neighborhood, I knew my kids would have plenty of opportunities in time. 

However, the “in time” part was the problem. My children had left behind all of their old friends. Developing relationships takes time. It's hard to make friends in a new place and takes even more intentionality when you homeschool.  I wanted my kids to jump in and feel connected so badly, I rationalized that it would be much “easier” and “better” for them to go to the local public school. However, in my heart, I knew I was wrong. God had been directing my steps and now I was faced with a whole new bunch of “what ifs!”

Fear brings doubt. It causes you to question God and exalt your own strength instead of His. It blinds you from the truth and keeps you from doing what you know God has called you to do. (Can we say disobedience!)

I was SCARED!!! Summer was coming to an end and the new school year was starting. I needed answers and I needed them fast! I began pouring my heart out to God and begging him to confirm the word He had given me. 

The next day, I received an e-mail from a friend, whom I hadn't spoken with in quite some time. She e-mailed me out of the blue just to tell me about a new program that her family had started. She said she thought I might be interested and gave me the website for Classical Conversations (CC). After reading through the information, I knew this was exactly what I had been praying for! I couldn’t believe it!

Then it hit me. I was slowly connecting the dots that another trusted family friend had once mentioned CC to us about a year prior to this unexpected e-mail. God had planted that seed back then through another friend, and a year later had redirected me back to CC . 

As I read through the material it seemed like God put before me everything I had been looking for.  It was first and foremost Christ centered, economical, and not only was there an opportunity for families to connect socially, but there was a strong sense of accountability and a challenging academics program with a biblical worldview. This is what I had been looking for!

I knew God was speaking.

And wouldn't you know the very next day after receiving that e-mail, I  had plans to attend my first homeschooling convention. It was there, that I had the opportunity to speak with a CC director to learn more about the program. Afterwards, I felt a sense of peace and joy. I knew God was speaking and working on my behalf!

With tears in my eyes, I turned to leave and was surprised when I looked up and saw two familiar faces coming my way. It was a couple I had known and worked with several years before.  I hadn’t talked with them in years, much less did I know they were a homeschooling family. God had brought familiar faces and a safe place to share my heart.  I shared with them what God had been doing and how scared and unsure I was to take the next step. After listening, they encouraged my heart and the new adventure God was leading me on. It was another sense of peace that God was giving me. Some might call all of this coincidence, but I know better.

God speaks when we take time to seek and listen! 
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened
unto you. Matthew 7:7
This has been our first year in CC and though our community is still forming, my girls have learned so much! I am overjoyed to be a part of their learning process and so thrilled to be a part of their “light bulb” moments. Sure we have tough days, but anything worthwhile is never easy!  We hope to kick off the upcoming school year with committed families and can't wait to see what God has in store for us on this great adventure we call homeschooling! ; )

Monday, March 14, 2011

"So I need 13 more birthdays until....."

Since our big girl's birthday is a few months away she has been thinking through things she wants for her birthday and "future" birthdays. Oh goodness!  The other day while we were playing at the park she randomly articulated her request for a....

While her math is a little off, I'm thinking 18 sounds good to me! Tim thought it would be a good idea to capture it on video just in case she should ever need help remembering how many birthdays she has left to go! : )