Peace on Earth {tidings of comfort & joy}

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” -Luke 2:6-14

An army of angels appeared. An army... legions if you can quantify that. They appeared. On Earth. They appeared and they spoke- and they said Peace. On. Earth. They came, and they praised, and they delivered the Good News, and they pronounced a messsage from the One whom sent them- Peace on Earth. Now, there's Peace on Earth.

Peace has arrived... for Everyone.

Peace on Earth in the form on a baby, wrapped in wrags, in the stench of manure... born to a girl who'd never known a man. Peace on earth showed up in the pit- outcast with no room for Him anywhere. But He still came.

The angel army came not to annouce that one day they would HAVE peace... that one day, at the END of the toil, they'd have peace. You see, that's true. One day, since that baby came to be nailed to a tree, it's true- at the end, they'd have Peace.

But what the angels said is Peace on Earth. Not later... not when the kids go to bed, not when the next paycheck comes in, not when your wife starts cooking dinner every night like she should, not when your husband looks at you again like he used to, not when the cancer is gone, not when you get the promotion... not later. Now, back then. Every day since... Peace came to earth.

He came down in a barn and was broken down upon a tree and washed the earth clean. From THAT moment, Peace was upon the earth.

They brough Good News- news that would bring joy to ALL People.

Peace came to earth... He washed us clean, and He is still here.

In all the moments, in all the stench of loss and fear and worry and insanity... Peace.

So have Peace, sweet friend. Not later on down the road after the _________.

But now, bathe yourself in His Peace, because YOU are why He came down.

And read this book too please. We are so close to His coming... Mary is so heavy with child, but there's still time, because it doesn't end Dec 25th.

So Far: 30 Days of Thanks-{Giving}... Join Me?

So Far: 30 Days of Thanks-{Giving}... Join Me?

I am so blessed and so excited at the outpouring of love, support and goodwill that has already taken place in these first few days of our 30 Days of Thanksgiving

As a recap- rather than focusing on saying what we appreciate each day (which is completely valid and totally underrated in itself), we are focusing on GIVING in Thanks. God is a pretty great GIVER- He GAVE his only begotten son to save us from ourselves. I, personally, really appreciate that.

He also calls us to give attention to our lives, to HIM, to what He is doing in us, through us and all around us every.single.second of

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Is Death Punishment? {In Memory of Lost Loved Ones}

***Bumping up to refresh my soul... because this is always a hard time of year.

As a Christian I would be duty-bound and somewhat convicted to answer with a resounding NO! Death is when we are called home to our Lord and Savior, where we get to bow at the feet of Almighty God, and were there is no sin, pain or sickness. Death is a rescue from the stench of this earth. We are only in our temporary home... and as my dear Kali put it-- when we are on Earth it's like we are on vacation and we will get to go back to our Real Home soon. Based on what I know of Heaven, this is a cruddy vacation, but her sentiment is precious ;-)

As I was driving home from my weekly Wednesday night bible study class (which absolutely ROOCKSSS even though I have a hard time shutting up and totally overshare) I was driving down the road praising the Lord with every cell in my body. I was singing at the top of my lungs to a song on the radio, with hand lifted to the sky. And, as I typically do, I had a wave of anxiety hit me for just a second... "What if I wrecked and died RIGHT NOW? What if the last time I saw my husband and children today was the LAST TIME? What if they get hurt or sick or have an accident when I am up here and they are down there? What if I died and my family lost another one of us? How could they bear it?" Then the next thought was exorbitantly silly in multiple ways. A) That I thought it. B) That it comforted me. I thought... "I can't die RIGHT NOW! I'm praising and singing to God. I wouldn't die right now while I'm worshiping him..."

Ok, the flaws in my logic are as follows:

1) I am assuming that God would *kill me* which is why I think that if I'm worshipping Him, he won't. I mean, who would kill someone who is praising them?

2) I am assuming that death is a punishment so if I pray for safety and well being and worship hard enough, then I (or my family) won't die... today anyway.

3) That my worship of Him would change the plan He has laid out for my life.

Tonight, I'm really wanting to tackle point #2 because I think it is the BIG LIE. Death is a punishment. I think we all like to think that it's not because we know, in theory, Heaven is way better and sounds like a cool place to be. However, we, in practice, fear death and see it as a punishment... a "taking away of life."

  • Death is a punishment because it takes those from us that we love and we want them HERE with US, everyday, forever.
  • Death is a punishment because it's unfair... so many who are horrible people live to a ripe old age while the young and just die.
  • Death is a punishment because we don't understand it. Even those with a significant faith life cannot fathom Heaven so we have a hard time *looking forward* to something that is a complete unknown.
  • Death is a punishment because so frequently it is not fast and painless, but long and painful and drains the life of all those around the afflicted.

So, how do we "practice" that we believe death is a punishment?

We go to significant lengths to keep ourselves and our families safe... safe from DEATH: Seatbelts, car seats, home alarms, guns, self-defense classes, prayer for safe travels, helmets, FDA, USDA, Homeland Security, etc etc etc  Like 90% of our lives are built around protection from the bad, from the end, from Death (and I totally made that percentage up).

Now, first we can assume that God has endowed us with a certain instinct to preserve our lives at all cost and to a much greater length, the lives of our children. There's no wonder that we invest so much in self-preservation. It's an in-dwelt instinct as old as time, to protect or lives and and the lives of our children. We are seen as deeply mentally ill if we are willing or desiring to end our lives sooner rather than later (which I don't obviously argue with). I mean, a guy sawed his own arm off to get out of a cleft in some rocks and drug himself lifeless miles for help. That's a STRONG instinct.

However, we also have to stop and think about this (as Christians)... IF we believe that this is our temporary home, then how faithful are we that we fight leaving it so hard? And we grieve with no end in sight for those that we've lost? And I don't mean stop wearing your seatbelt and take up sky-diving. I have no death wish.

What I'm speaking of is the life-altering consequences of the death of a loved one? Especially a *premature* one. As long as we view death as a punishment, as a taking away of life (especially before someone "should've" died), we cannot ever have peace. Ever. Until we, ourselves, are dead.

I personally have had significant loss in my life. I've lost a parent, a grand-parent who was very much like a parent, class mates and friends, as well a my cousin. My cousin was the deepest and closest to my heart because A) I loved him like a brother. We were raised as brother and sister... he, my sister and our other cousin. And B) The circumstances surrounding his death were sudden, earth-shattering and to our human understanding, completely senseless.

Time and time again, we (and I mean my entire family) have retraced the steps and events of that Halloween day 7 years ago. We have seen the images, re-visited those words we could never unhear, cried the hot and angry tears, and asked time and time again, "LORD, WHY!?!" Every day for 7 years we have all remembered him and wept and asked WHY? We have thought about special memories fondly then wept with the sadness that we will not be able to create more. Every year, when October comes around, a deep sadness sinks into all of our bones with dread of the memory of it all.. of the day. The saddest day of all.

We ask WHY because we do not understand, cannot understand His will. On paper, we know it's all for His good and His purposes and His plan, but we can't see HOW it was good or purposefull. Couldn't there have been another way? He was 26 and a GOOD MAN! He was hard-working, loving, a devoted son, and a good friend. He didn't DESERVE to die. His family didn't DESERVE this heart ache and pain. His friends didn't DESERVE to lose him. His death has impacted countless people and his memory is thoroughly intact and I am quite confident always will be, as long as we all draw breath.

The problem for me, and for many of us no matter who it is that we have lost, is that I view his leaving us as a punishment. I view the taking away of his life as a LOSS for us and for him. It is not. It is only gain. He gained ETERNAL LIFE. Right now, at this moment, he is in perfect rest with his father. He sees all, knows all, and feels no sin/pain/anger/hurt/torment. He can't even feel our pain that we experience fresh everyday for losing him. He is in the angel armies paving a path for those he loved while he was flesh and blood. He has met Jesus and been comforted and loved by him. He is in Heaven. Literally heaven. His death was shocking and horrific and untimely in our eyes, but in the eyes of His maker, it was perfect. He was coming home to see his true father, once and for all. For you see, God had already given HIS ONLY SON for us. He understands what it means to see your only son taken from you. Jody was our only son, but he was one of many to God and now he is seated at His right hand in righteousness.

Death seems like a punishment to those left behind because we find it so hard to truly believe without doubting. If we could truly imagine Heaven and see it for a second, we'd probably be ok with our family members being there. But death, like all other discomforts of life, is a way to forge us for His purposes. If our loved ones never died, how ready would we be to go Home? If we never had to sense loss or devastation, would be we ok with staying here in this flesh? As days tick by and all our bodies slowly progress toward death, our father is drawing us nearer. We are all dying. Every minute of every day. He just chooses to bring home some sooner than others. NOT because it's He's taking away their life, not because He wants us to live in pain and misery for the rest of our time in these bodies, but because He loves us each immensely.

He knit us together in our mother's womb and numbered the hairs on our heads. He made us in His image and loved us with pure mercy and grace... a perfect love. He wants us to fulfill the job He has for us here and come home. If even it hurts the ones we leave behind, He wants to reward us for a job well-done and bring us home to Him... our TRUE reward. We prize earthly rewards so highly then try to escape our eternal reward out of fear and disbelief. We do not know what God's purpose was for bringing Jody into this world OR for taking him home so early (too early in our eyes), but God knows and His plan was fulfilled to perfection through Jody (and all whom we lose). How blessed is that?

Jody did his work. His toil is over. It was so much shorter than any of us would've liked. The same goes for Daddy, Grandma, Tracy, David, Cory... so many I've known and lost. Their toil is over, they are HOME. For eternity. For forever and forever and forever, they are home in the lap of the one who created them from a whisper. They are home and so blessed. And blessed are we to have gotten to live with them, love with them, and walk through this journey with them. They are not gone because He doesn't love them or because He doesn't love us. They are gone because He loves us all so much.

That's sooo hard to process and it's taken me 7 long years of why's and angry fists and buckets of tears and gut-wrenching sobs to finally get it. He is home and one day I will be to. Maybe tonight in my sleep or 50 years from now, but we will all be united together in worship of a loving and gracious God. We will all know the company that Jody is currently keeping. I hope the Lord doesn't allow the spiritual Alzheimer's that I so frequently suffer to take this deep gut-knowing from me. I pray that this great hope that we all have for life eternal never leaves my bones but allows me to say good-bye with greater grace and thanksgiving than I ever imagined before.

To my family, you are my world. It seemed our world cracked opened and swallowed us all alive. But He is there, holding us still... and Jody is smiling down.

How I will ALWAYS remember us all.
 Exodus 33:22-23 tells us "When my glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand, until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen"

When we feel the earth quake beneath our feet and see only darkness around us, His Glory is passing by and he has tucked us away in protection. When we come out from the darkness, we will know that He was close enough to touch and it was His Glory shaking us to our core. ONLY in his closest presence are we sheltered by His hand.

My Baby Turned 7 {Birthday Weekend Details & Pics}

I'm in shock... my itty-bitty, teeny-weeny blue-eyed baby turned 7 yesterday. I'm pretty sure it was like less than 24 hours ago that she was born at 6lb 7oz... and had to be popped a few times to give a good scream. To this day, I think her peaceful entrance into this world and then being slapped silly could be a good reason for a little bit of that 'tude. But I digress... needless to say Kali Alysabeth has stretched this mama every-which-way but loose. Lord knows I needed it... she's my child that I routinely scream at for acting just like... ME {oops!}.

Flashback time!!!

Oh my GOODNESS!Where has the time gone!

Like, an actual real-live doll *tears*

A child after my own heart, she chose a weekend of fun activities and sight-seeing over a birthday party. I'm pretty sure we didn't save any money but I really enjoyed the opportunity just to love on my girls and explore without any crazy party planning. For me, it was a much more enjoyable experience.

On Friday, we went to Historic Westville for the day. It was awesome and kind of horrible at the same time. I believe it deserves it's own review, so I will be typing that up later. After Westville, we headed up to Atlanta. We had a free night from {always book through them!} and utilized it to get a deeply discounted rate at the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Atlanta. This was a beautiful hotel, in the phenomenal Marietta District. L.O.V.E. Needless to say, hubs and I will be headed back from a mom and dad only weekend sometime in the near future. Everything you could possibly want to eat, drink or do is within a block or two. Can't beat it!

We were blessed with a spectacular city-view room on the 8th floor. We went out for dinner right across the road at Max's Coal Oven Pizzeria. It was quaint and comfortable. Kali was in a big rush to go ahead and open all her gifts, so that happened right away! She had opened her "big" gift before leaving... so she and daddy could play with it... or so daddy could play with it; not sure who that was really for ;-) JK, she begged for that car after watching a video of it on amazon and has played with it obsessively since.

This is a girl who got EXACTLY what she wanted!

Anyway, Max's Pizzeria offered a gluten free crust. It was OK. I sent it back for being undercooked. They still brought it back not quite done. I spoke with them about how to get it cooked properly BEFORE putting the toppings on. I hope they take my advice because it was a great dough... I just prefer my crust cooked :-)

Our sweet waiter brought the girls some little doughnut smelling yummy-goodness since it was Kali's birthday (and his birthday as well!). We enjoyed that and went back to the room for some much-needed snuggle, rollaroundonthebedgiggling family time. That was definitely my favorite part of the trip :-)

The next morning, we were up and at em with a good breakfast at the hotel's buffet. $12.95 for adults and FREE for kids under 12. Um, yes, thank you. The girls devoured the made-to-order pancakes and I kind of over-indulged myself on freshly scrambled eggs (not those breakfast bar kind from the HIE) ;-)

We walked the big 2 minute hike over to the aquarium. I've yet to talk to anyone who has gone to both the Georgia Aquarium and Ripley's in Gatlinburg. We have, so here's the shakedown. The Cox family consensus is that Ripley's is better... but we don't know why. Maybe the "Pirate/Princess Gets in Free Day" brought in a WAY bigger crowd than we could appreciate at the GA, so that left a bit of a bad taste in our mouth; but we just all were more wowed by Ripley's.

The GA had BELUGA whales and WHALE SHARKS. Hello! It was phenomenal! The dolphin show was out of this world (other than not getting splashed when we specifically set out for the splash zone!). It was really a wonderful experience... however, there were 1,2930,19303,193023 people in that building. I'm. Not. Kidding. It was also Educator Open House day so I believe that doubled the foot traffic. There were HUGE lines in the restroom, the restrooms couldn't get cleaned quickly enough, the cafeteria was so packed you couldn't breath, there were no tables to eat at, the ice machines for drinks were even over-worked. And there was no available oxygen left in the room. You couldn't really enjoy just observing the awesome animals because you had to get out of the way of the next person {or get shoved out of the way... I'm quite sure ATL should no longer count as "the south" when it comes to manners :-/}

Anyway, we give the GA and the entire day 2 thumbs up, but it would've been unbelievable had it been less insanely crowded. After our day at the aquarium, we moseyed on back to beautiful Alabama.... with my tiny baby a full year older, but fortunately not one bit different ;-)
Surprised and excited at Max's to open her gifts!
She liked her My Little Pony!
From her new favorite movie :-)
Beautiful Big Sis
In the room... pondering deep thoughts :-)
Playing with her new stuff
So precious... sitting in her "window seat" with her daughter
aforementioned daughter
Not too shabby!
Dressed up for Pirates & Princess day!
That guy is hot ;-)
His mini-me + Her mini-me= Mini-mini-me?
Arggg Meharty!!!
2 of my favorite people
Just a couple of sharks over your head... no biggie
And a ginormous Manta Ray
"I have something on my mind...."
Pretty girls!
Japanese Spider Crab... scurrryyyy big!
Baby Beluga!
He came right up and waited for his photo op
Just chillin'... haha... punny
Wish I could give him a big kiss back!
Jellies are photogenic!
Isabella can give you a nice long introduction to the sea anemone if you'd ever like one :-)
My THREE favorite people!
Eating her birthday canoli... gone in 60 seconds!
Bye! Bye!

Science Curriculum Alignment with Classical Conversations

Science Curriculum Alignment with Classical Conversations

Originally, I had planned not to do a formal science curriculum in addition to memorizing the information from Classical Conversations Foundations. I felt like our time would be stretched as it is, and we would just stick with CC memory work and kind of "unschool" the rest of science. However, as I started looking through the memory work I felt led to add some context to it, especially for my 9 year old. I then set out to find something that we both liked the look, feel and information AND was affordable AND aligned with the CC memory work...

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2013-2014 Curriculum Picks + Schedule {1st + 4th Grades}

2013-2014 Curriculum Picks + Schedule {1st + 4th Grades}

Welcome to a brief overview of our curriculum picks for 1st and 4th grade! Plus a little look into our overall day and planned schedule for 2013-2014. 

After the minor setback of having Kali wake up with a fever this morning, we were off to a decent start. I didn't take any "first day of school" pictures this morning with her feeling so poorly, but I took a few snapshots of our day...

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A Day in the Life {A Valentine's Homeschool Day}

A Day in the Life {A Valentine's Homeschool Day}

I stayed up WAY too late last night playing with my camera my hubby got me for my birthday... trying to brave the world of manual mode. I found some great little cheat sheets online. So today I became hardcore mom-parrazi and had a camera stuck in my children's face from morning to night. 

A couple of "points" I'd like to make... YES, my children do brush their hair lol. They showered and jumped right into hard-core crafting so they never combed it. YES, that's a halloween costume she is wearing (Vampira). Yes, I do dust my furniture despite what appears in these photographs. And YES my daughter taught herself how to knit today via a YouTube video (and yes, I unabashedly bragged on her!)

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