Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I want to say on Mother's Day...

Have you ever gone to the store before Mother's Day to pick out the perfect card and then spent 2 hours-- not finding it? My problem is that, even when I find the card that says exactly what I want it to say, I know, deep down, that my Mom would never believe it.

On Christmas Night, I had a long talk with my Mom. And, although words aren't usually a problem for me, I couldn't seem to say what I wanted. (She's going to kill me for making this a blog post, but I think this is something every Mom needs to hear.)

 When we were little, Mom stayed home with us. But as soon as my brother was in kindergarten, she started working; first in daycare, but eventually she got a nice job at a Mortgage Company where she was promoted to Supervisor, against her wishes. I remember visiting her in her HUGE office and being enthralled by her electric pencil sharpener. Wow! It made me want to burst with pride to see how important my Mommy was.

But how was I to know that she was troubled by her job? Listening to John McArthur on the radio as he talked about a woman's sacred calling, Mom knew that her place was at home. She talked to Dad and prayed, but raising a family on his teacher salary left no promise for the future.

God works in mysterious ways. And if Mom had known that her prayers would land her in an Amish community; with no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no transportation, she may have prayed a little differently!

Imagine yourself in her shoes...

It was difficult. Mom refers to it now as her "wilderness experience". The pressures of an unknown life, and constantly comparing herself to the more-than-capable Amish women, was staggering. There were times she tried to leave, but she always came back. Always.

Today, even after raising four children and adopting three more, Mom doesn't think she has any special gifts; she doesn't enjoy cooking, sewing, baking, and all the other little "homemaker" chores. But she's faithful-- and that is more important than anything.

(S)he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.
(Luke 16:10)

 Do you ever get tired of all the mundane chores? The ones nobody sees? Laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, wiping noses and cleaning bottoms? Your Heavenly Father sees and He blesses you for your faithfulness. He never said our job would be easy, but He did promise that it would be rewarding, even if we don't see it now.

A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love's lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling. ~ J.R. Miller
 I am so blessed to have a mother that, regardless of what the world screamed at her, regardless of her own upbringing and short-comings, she understood her calling and desired to follow God-- instead of man.

Her children rise up and call her "blessed"

My parents and their nine grand-babies!

"And you mix it altogether for a happy family!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Homeschooling Mistake #1

I've been around homeschoolers for twenty-three years and can remember when it was unusual, unheard-of, and absurd. Back then, no one asked, "How do you socialize?" They hadn't had time to come up with dumb questions like that. And forget about support groups or co-ops: there weren't enough homeschoolers in the state to fill up a conference room! (OK, that might be a slight exaggeration...)

Gradually, homeschooling became more and more popular, with parents pulling their children out of public and private schools in droves. Now, everywhere you turn, you run into these unsocialized homeschoolers. If they aren't winning the National Spelling Bee or playing quarterback at the University of Florida, then they're lawyers, doctors, or worse; they're Moms raising the next generation of homeschoolers!!!

Yep. That would be me. I know my parents weren't perfect, but I will forever bless them for their decision to homeschool before it was cool. And it is my delight to be homeschooling their grandchildren in an age when homeschooling is rampant and homeschoolers are thriving.

As a homeschooled child, the only thing I regretted was not being able to do Drama. Today, it is my delight to teach Drama to homeschooled children, through our local co-op. Most of them realize what a blessing it is to have this available to them and they throw themselves whole-heartedly into the productions.

(Some of my students in our "Lightning Larry" performance)

But I worry about some families. It seems they've forgotten that the first word in homeschool is HOME. Driving here and there for volleyball games, piano lessons, 4-H, Algebra lessons, etc, etc, etc... the poor mothers are run ragged by the crazy demands of their children. Personally, I don't know how they can afford it, and it definitely boggles my mind that anyone would assume responsibility for their child's education and then shift it to untold teachers and groups! How can you call that homeschool? It seems that we have become so busy with extra-curriculars that we have forgotten what is truly important: shaping the lives and the characters of our children-- at home.

I do love our co-op. The opportunity to get together once a week with like-minded families and to share our talents with each other is such a blessing. And I love to teach Drama! That's hard to do with a classroom of three. But I believe we should all keep things in perspective and remember that homeschooling is just that-- schooling done at home

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Supplementing His Income

As many of you know, my husband and I have been looking for a way to supplement his income. At first, I watched children in my home, and while I enjoyed many aspects of that, trying to raise two families was emotionally difficult. Blogging has been fun, but other than winning one giveaway and being rewarded for blogging about Shutterfly, my blog has not contributed financially in any way.

Recently, I've looked into different internet opportunities but was scared to try anything, afraid that I'd get knee-deep in strange waters, and have no one available to bail me out.

Then, about a month ago, Thom and I contacted Papa Don Schroeder here in Pensacola. He and his son, Michael, own the local CNN radio station and both have impeccable reputations in this community. They told us about a new organization: Monitium, which is revolutionizing network marketing. Created by reputable network marketers for the protection of others, the whole organization is top-notch and rather impressive.

Right now, from December 15-January 15, you can join Monitium for FREE! This is a value of $118! Just follow the link, add your contact info, and I'll get back with you. Or call me directly with any questions you may have. (850) 453-8071.

Thom and I joined with great excitement, and would love to share with you the opportunity to create multiple income streams within your own family.


Check out the book/bundle giveaway on Ladies Against Feminism! I am increasingly impressed by the quality of books being published by Master Books/New Leaf Press/Attic Books. This giveaway is really impressive, with three different packages available. But the deadline is midnight tonight EST. Hurry...

Click here and leave a comment on LAF to enter the Book Giveaway.

Package #1 Morning and Evening Devotional/Journal

Package #2: Life of Washington/For You They Signed

Package #3: Children's Illustrated Bible/Passport to the World

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Ever!

Last week, I promised to tell you about my favorite Christmas. Now that the temp has dropped here in sunny FL, I might actually be able to get into this. (Hang on a second while I grab my coffee...)

It was December of 1990 and I was 12 years old. My family was still living in the Amish community, but earlier that year we had "upgraded" to a small, drafty house with (can you believe it?) electricity and spring water! Still no bathroom, though, and the money was tight-- really tight. We were still attending the Amish church pretty regularly, even though the sermons were nothing short of depressing, and the people full of spiritual bondage. But we didn't know where else to go.

One Sunday it was announced, as was the custom, that an elderly couple was having a wood-cutting that Saturday. The husband, a proud grandfather of over 50 kids, was dying of cancer, so they scheduled his wood-cutting for him, knowing that he and his wife would need one to survive the winter.

I loved wood-cuttings! The feel of a cross-cut saw vibrating through a dry log always gave such immense satisfaction. But I think I enjoyed listening to my Dad and the other men engrossed in theological "discussions" more than anything in the world! They would get so animated that it sometimes took serious "saw-nudging" to help Dad remember what we were supposed to be doing!

"For old time's sake!" (This is a smaller version, but it still felt good to the hands.)
Well, that Saturday we dressed warm, as the Tennessee weather was rather chilly, and left for the wood-cutting. It was a blissfully busy day and after just one hour of pulling that cross-cut saw back and forth, I knew I would be doing it in my sleep that night-- again. But I didn't mind. Even the pain of sore muscles felt good after a wood-cutting.

Then, after enjoying an Amish feast for lunch, Dad discovered a small, frozen pond behind the house and encouraged us to try skating in our shoes. I'm not much of a skater. Never have been. Think I'm about as graceful as a drunk ox. But slipping and sliding over the pond was exhilarating-- even when I landed on my rump.

Once, when I bumped into my Dad and we fell laughing to the cold, wet ice, I remember him saying, in a tone filled with wonder, "What a great way to spend Christmas!"

Christmas?! Today?!

I looked at him in shock! I had forgotten about Christmas!

I know this may sound crazy to you. You're probably thinking that all children wake up, automatically knowing that it's Christmas morning. Well, obviously not. Living out there in the boonies, with no media, and among a people that do not celebrate Christmas, I didn't even realize what day it was.

Dad knew, of course. But I think he was so discouraged by our financial situation, that he hadn't even mentioned the upcoming holiday. But cutting wood for a needy family, and skating on that frozen pond, seemed to bring a renewed spirit to my Dad. I looked at him again; the worry and care that was always etched on his face had disappeared, and in that moment, it seemed that all was right with the world.

That night, after a mug of Dad's famous Egg Nog to warm us from the inside-out, he pulled out a project that he had been working on secretly. It was our Christmas gift, but it wasn't wrapped. Unfolding a simple piece of cardboard, Daddy revealed a board game that he had created, just for that night. I won't go into details, because I don't want anyone to steal the idea before he gets around to publishing it, but suffice it to say that it was incredible!

Surrounded by popcorn, hot dogs, and the first soda we'd had in a very long time, I looked around at my family and smiled. When I awoke that morning, I had no idea that it was Christmas, and therefore, would never have guessed it was destined to be the best Christmas ever! A Christmas with no presents, but a wonderful, amazing day!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Cards 2010

LeBlanc Family Christmas Card 2010
(If you receive a copy in the mailbox, you must pretend you didn't see it already! =)
Create beautiful photo Christmas cards at
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Family Conference 2010

Every year, our church hosts a family conference for the purpose of encouraging us in the training of our children. This year's guest speaker, Voddie Baucham, and our own pastor, Jeff Pollard, were incredible blessings as they fed us with God's Word. With topics ranging from courtship to adoption, discipline and biblical man-hood, I think we were all enriched by this series.

Since I can't even begin to do it justice, I just wanted to let you know that most of the sermons are already on Sermon Audio, where they can be downloaded for free. I would encourage anyone with children to listen to as many as you can. But especially...

The Importance of Biblically Disciplining Children

The Importance of Biblically Preparing for Marriage

I really hope they post the sermon on Adoption soon. It was incredibly thought-provoking and challenged my thinking in a lot of different ways.

You should be able to order the entire series from Mount Zion soon. It's not on their website yet, but I imagine they will offer them in CD and DVD form. 

If any of my readers were at the conference or have listened to some of the sermons, please leave a comment below with any thoughts you may have. How were you blessed and/or challenged through these messages?

My favorite (new) Christmas Tradition

This time of year, I really look forward to all the photo cards that pop out of my mailbox. Of course, I like anything that pops out of the mailbox, as long as it isn't a bill, but those photo cards just take the cake! It's wonderful to post them on the wall and remember special friends and family throughout the holidays. (Or longer, since I always procrastinate about taking them down.)

It's also wonderful to send a picture of our family to those we love as a way of remembrance during this season. At first, I would go to Walmart and create our photo cards in the kiosk, but I soon discovered that doing them online was way superior. No standing in line waiting. No hungry children climbing all over the cart, begging to go home, while you wait for the person behind the counter to get off the phone and refill the ink. You can take your time and pick the right card, edit your photos, and add text to them-- from the comfort of your computer.

With over 800 styles from which to choose, Shutterfly is definitely my favorite site for photo cards. But they also make terrific photo calendars, in various sizes. That is always a great gift for family members. You can add photos, include birth dates, and add captions to each month.

The problem is: It's really hard to choose the perfect card. There's just too many! We're running a little late on our pictures this year, but I think I found the perfect card at Shutterfly. Not only can I put a picture of each girl on the front, but there's a place inside for a picture of the whole family.

"Every good gift is from above" and we have so much to be thankful for...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Contradictions of Christmas

Do you ever chuckle to yourself about the contradictions of Christmas? The holiday that is supposed to promote Peace and Joy, rather tends to bring about controversy and frustration. Not only do we fuss over what to give or how to celebrate, but there are arguments over whether or not to celebrate.
Contrary to my nature, I'm not going to engage in this debate (at least not today). I think we all know that Christmas was started as a pagan holiday and that December 25 is an unlikely birth date for the Savior. What we do with that information is up to us.

"One man esteemeth one day above another: 
another esteemeth every day alike. 
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."

"He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; 
and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it."
Romans 14:5-6 

My parents celebrated Christmas like most families (only without Santa Claus). Although Dad was a school teacher on a tight budget, the tree was somehow always surrounded by presents on Christmas morning. But we went through a period of drought where we could not afford gifts. By the time that had passed, we had stopped celebrating Christmas altogether and didn't re-start the tradition until after I left home.

Last night I was talking to my Dad about my favorite Christmas ever. Funny thing is: there were no presents that year. But my Dad made that day so special that it is indelibly marked in my memory. I'll tell you about it, next time...