A Modern Family, Excavated.

Archaeology is the peeping Tom of the sciences. It is the sandbox of men who care not where they are going; they merely want to know where everyone else has been.
Jim Bishop

Because of the recent move my family has done, we took a week off to get all of our belongings to our new house from our old house.  This year we have decided to use Story of the World for history, specifically volume 1 – Ancient History.  The intro chapter talks about the very definition of history and archeology.  A few weeks ago I blogged about the timelines the boys completed as part of the history portion and this week we are playing archeologists. I wonder if hundreds of years from now if archeologists will find part of my boys toys in the back yard of our old house.  I wonder what conclusions they will draw from our family.  That’s a scary thought, actually.  Let’s talk about something else…moving on!
Anyway Jackson completed his experiment and report today.  I thought I’d share a little bit of what he discovered.
He was given a tub of dirt which I hit 10 of our household items in at various depths.  Archeologists use small shovels and little brushes to uncover their finds but we used a large serving spoon and an old tooth brush as you can see in the top left picture.  He spent a long while being super careful on the surface layer of dirt but finally he got a little more adventurous.  In the second row, you can see him moving the dirt to another container and sifting through the dirt as best he can to be sure he doesn’t miss something small.  His vigilance paid off because the first item he found was a small, white paneling nail.  Very good Jackson!
The last picture takes a little more explanation.  As you can see in the other pictures, we put string across the dirt to make a grid, like archeologists do at real digs.  On his paper, he made a replication of the container and the grid lines.  Each time he found something he would put an “X” in the corresponding quadrant on the paper in which he found the item in the dirt.  Next to that X he placed a number which corresponds to the order in which he found the item.  Below that, he numbered his paper one through 10.  Next to each number he described the item and gave his best guess as to what this made up civilization would use the said item for.   He then made a guess at what the civilization was like based on his finds.  You can see him filling out all of this information in the last picture.  In the picture below you can sort of see what his dig write up looked like.
Jackson explaining the grid system and what the symbols and numbers meant.

Jackson explaining the grid system and what the symbols and numbers meant.

He was able to use all of this data in his final report that he spent the rest of the day doing.  He also presented his findings to his dad this evening.  I think my favorite part of his presentation was the part where he made his guess about what the civilization would be like.  He said, ” So this civilization probably was creative, rich, happy and good at cooking.  This is a good way to live but not perfect.  It will only be perfect when Christ comes back and resets things to how they were before Adam and Eve sinned.”  My job here is done, people.  The pictures below were taken during his presentation.

Jackson getting his jitters out.  Public speaking makes him nervous.

Jackson getting his jitters out. Public speaking makes him nervous.

I gave him directions to present this project to his dad without reading word for word from the paper.  He had to switch gears from what he was reading to spoken word.  Naturally he was nervous in the beginning.

I gave him directions to present this project to his dad without reading word for word from the paper. He had to switch gears from what he was reading to spoken word. Naturally he was nervous in the beginning.

Easing into things...

Easing into things…

If you’d like to see a little bit of Jackson in action, visit our YouTube channel.
Because this project encompass everything we studied in this section, his project was graded as a test.  I am happy to report he did very well and will probably student teach (with me there) his brother tomorrow.



Is it Possible to Understand & Teach Scientific Classification

How would you describe the scientific classification system?

How would you describe the scientific classification system?

Mom I thought we were getting ready for science.  Why are you getting out my math pattern pieces?” – 2nd grade son vocally observing my, what would normally be described as multitasking scatterbrained actions.

My boys are in fifth and second grade this year.  One would think it would be impossible to effectively teach scientific classification and how the system works but with a little bit of creativity (and a reasonable amount of help from above), we made it though.  Not only did we make it through, there was retention!  Praise the Lord!

We are using Apologia: Land Animals of the Sixth Day of Creation for our science studies.  It’s an amazing curriculum if you are interested in a God-based, hands on way to teach your kiddos.  We didn’t start at the very first book and as a result, there were things taught in books one and two that we didn’t have the luxury of building upon.  That left me trying to figure out exactly how I was going to explain scientific classification.  What did I do?  Well what any other woman who didn’t know where to start would do.  I picked up the math manipulatives and spread them across their desk! Continue reading

Grace like Banana Bread

What’s better than running first thing in the morning?  Hearing and receiving God’s living WORD first thing in the morning!  Have you seen the movie “Faith Like Potatoes?”  It’s an amazing story about how God brought a Scottish potato farmer named Angus Buchan out of alcoholism and anger into a worldwide ministry through a community testimony service.  I’ve seen this man preach in person and WOW!  To say he can touch the inner most parts of your being is not enough.  Well I had a day that I would describe as “Grace like Banana Bread.”

As I shared before, I went running with the Mach Tenn Running Club at 5:30 Sunday morning.  Directly afterward, I came home, showered, enjoyed an amazing breakfast prepared by my fireman husband, then headed off to hear Pastor Scott preach it, man!  The guy is real, he’s down to Earth and brings the word in a way I am quite confident that everyone in the house can understand and receive it.  I thank God for him and his family and the way God is using him to transform our community for His glory.

He wrapped up a 4 week sermon series on money entitled, “Money Matters.”


WAIT!!  Don’t close this tab yet! I know exactly what you’re thinking I’m going to say…you need to tithe.  NO (well yes but…) that’s not the message for today.  This whole series is about the fact that everything is God’s.  Our money included but not exclusively our money.  Our families, our minds, our homes…everything.  As a matter of fact just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about what else he had to say on the subject.  This week, we talked about the fact that if we understand grace, we naturally will be cheerful givers, and not just with our money but with our whole lives.  Grace, defined biblical is being given a gift that one can’t afford, deserve or work hard enough to obtain.  This is where my tears just began to pour out of my tear ducts. I mean rivers, people.

God's provision through his infinite grace.

God’s provision through his infinite grace.

This beautiful home that God has given to us is WAY beyond what we have worked to obtain.  We wouldn’t be able to afford it if it weren’t for God moving mountains and piecing together circumstances just perfectly.  There is nothing in my life, my husband’s life, my kids life…that any of us have done to deserve a blessing of this magnitude.  A friend of mine has told me repeatedly that it’s God’s grace that he freely gives as to why were have found ourselves in this season of our lives.  I heard what she was saying.  I even pondered what she was saying.  It wasn’t until I was sitting in the second row of the 10:15 service this past week that the entire tide of God’s grace really sunk in and knocked my emotions over like a tug boat in the middle of the ocean.  I was completely overwhelmed by how God relates to and with us.  My word…even now as I type that my eyes are almost too moist for me to see the words as I type (it’s a good thing I took keyboarding in high school or I’d be up a creek).  So basically we don’t deserve the house we are in at all, but through God’s grace,  that I don’t even fully understand, we have been given a gift so huge we could never possibly pay God back for it.  Through the realization of what he has given us, I can’t help but overflow with gratitude.  Through that gratitude, I have the drive to do all I can to glorify Him with this home.  It consumes my thoughts, actions, feelings, emotions…to the point of struggling to breathe.

Ever since my husband and I decided to take the plunge and agree to take over this home, I have been planning what to do to bridge the uncomfortable gap of being the newbie in the neighborhood.  If you follow me on facebook, you may have even contributed to the brainstorming process. You know how it is when someone new moves in next door.  You watch as they pull out piece after piece from the moving van or vehicles, so much so you wonder if they have rented a circus car in the shape of formerly said mode of transportation.  In the house they go with each arm full.  Day after day you watch as the sweat rolls down their faces and backs during the physical labor of relocating every item that belongs to them and you wonder:

  • Who are they?
  • What are they like?
  • Are they weird?
  • I wonder if they are “good” people.
  • Are they private people?
  • Do they let their kids run the neighborhood?
  • Are they going to take care of the place?
  • I hope they aren’t partiers.  And on and on.

Who makes the first step in breaking down those barriers?  Tradition says that the established neighbor is the one who is to reach out to the new family, however in my past experience, this simply doesn’t happen anymore.  Though I have taken welcoming gifts to new neighbors in the past in keeping with tradition, I have taken it upon myself to break down those barriers when we are the new family coming in more times than not.  As I have said before when confronted with this very question, If I wait for someone else to make the first move, I’ll be waiting my whole life.

My youngest son and I with a basket we delivered to new neighbors.

My youngest son and I with one of six basket we delivered to our new neighbors.

If you read the first post I made about our decision to move here, you will remember that I strongly feel God has a plan to use us while we are here.  Have you ever been confronted by someone who is well meaning in their approach to get to know you but you just know they have an ulterior motive?  Me too and it’s annoying and most times I do everything I can to avoid that person from their on out.  I truly do want to get to know my neighbors as we are leaving a neighborhood which is very close knit.  We adore each of the families on our street.  To say we were comfortable there would be an understatement for sure.  I would love to be able to foster those sort of friendships again here.  I also know that in order to be effective for Christ, a foundation of friendship, trust, and love has to be established first.  I have no intentions of using my bible as a hammer to pound people between the eyes.  From the deepest part of my soul, I want to bring the peace and love of God to a hurting world.  The bible says that we are to reach people in our own town, state and country as well as the other parts of the world.  Did you get that first part?  Our own town…the people we interact with on a daily basis…that’s our first mission field.  How do you do that effectively?  By meeting people where they are, growing the friend relationship and then taking opportunities God lays in your path to share what he’s done in your life.  Do you think that just because someone has a nice car, house, well dressed kids, smile on their face that they aren’t hurting or have doubt about why they are even alive?  Is it possible that the people you talk to on a daily basis have deep desires to end their lives or are trapped in addictions, be it Rx drugs or sexual addiction?  The though of him using me…a stay at home, homeschooling mother and wife…who runs to maintain her sanity most days…to reach any of those people and others utterly blows my mind and humbles me to the core.

First two dish cloths finished and placed in baskets.  I put together six baskets total.

First two dish cloths finished and placed in baskets. I put together six baskets total.

Over the past week, when I haven’t been working on filling sponsorship orders, I have been creating dish cloths for our neighborhood introduction baskets.  Each one was done in white cotton yarn and each had a unique pattern from the others.  These were far from cookie cutter cloths and each one took several hours to complete.  I wanted something in there that was directly from my hands for the personal touch but also to soften up the basket a bit.

Ripe bananas to make banana bread with!

Ripe bananas to make banana bread with!

After church, I spent several hours mixing up and baking banana bread from scratch as well.  I think my husband nearly had an emotional breakdown when I told him there wouldn’t be any leftovers for us to enjoy.  I’m pretty sure he told one neighbor it was pure torture to be in the house, smelling it bake, knowing he wasn’t going to get to have any.  He cracks me up.  I also whipped up a batch of chocolate chunk cookies as well.  In my opinion, they weren’t the BEST cookies, but they were alright.  Who doesn’t like a cookie straight out of the oven after all.  Within an hour of all of these items coming out of the oven, they were packaged and we were out the door.  The bread was still warm when we handed the baskets over.  Mmmmm…makes me hungry just thinking about it actually!

In addition to the handmade and baked goodies, I attached an index card with a note saying it was nice to meet their family, all of our names and the ages of our children, our address and our phone number in case they ever needed or wanted to contact us.  My hope is that they reach back to us, at least with a wave as we see each other out and about over the next days and weeks.  I plan to create more baskets as the weeks and months come.  I just think it would be so cool to be able to personally introduce each of the homes in our little subdivision.  Put names to faces, kids with parents and houses with families.  My husband and I, along with our three boys walked around to the house in front of us, behind us, to either side of us and two other homes in the neighborhood to start the process.

In November, a new ministry in town called S.H.A.R.E. (Sharing Him and Reaching Everyone) has encouraged each of us to reach out to our neighbors.  I hope by that time I will have made contact with everyone and will be ready to further follow up with them over the course of the month.  My prayer for the people in my closest reach is that they grow a sense of community with one another in Christ so that we can support each other in struggles and in good times.  I pray that a fire is started in this community that engulfs the entire town.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if the property value of these homes sky rocketed as a result of the supply and demand created because everyone wanted to be a part of the brotherhood here?   I believe we will see Mark 12:30, 31 in the flesh.  People loving God first, and loving their neighbor as themselves.  With that, people will start treating people the way they want to be treated (Luke 6:31).  I’m sitting here praying for everyone in the neighborhood as I type this and Chris Tomlin’s song God of This City popped into my head.  Fitting I believe.

Lets go back to the picture of those bananas for a second:  Ripe bananas to make banana bread with!
The sight of those bananas is pretty nasty when you think about it, isn’t it?  Nobody in their right mind would think, “Oh those look fantastic!  I think I’ll just dig right in!”  No, on the contrary, most people throw them out when they get the slightest hint of brown/black on the peel.  And to buy them from the store that way?  HA!  I think that’s the way God sees each of us…even you reading this!  We deserve nothing more than to be thrown out with the evening trash.  Dirty, rotting, mushy messes of people.  We make mistakes, say things we shouldn’t, think things that would make our mother’s put us in time out for a long time, gossip with the best of ’em, lie, cheat and steal.  And God…he couldn’t bear to see us discarded. Not only did he buy us while we were still horribly disgusting, He also gave us a gift far more precious than a beautiful home that we could have never gotten on our own.  He gave us his SON!  I mean I love you, but I’m not sacrificing any of my kids for you…not even on a bad day!  But God did!  Even though we don’t deserve to be given another chance.  Even though we deserve to be thrown into the fires of hell on a daily basis, he loves us too much.  Instead,  He takes our nasty peels off, mixes in a little bit of grace and mercy.  Folds in a mixture of patience love and peace.  Pours us into a mold that shapes us to fit His plan for our lives, puts us through the fires of trials and bakes us into a perfect loaf of banana bread.  It isn’t until we are banana bread that he can deliver us to people who need fed with the ONLY food that will satisfy.

Thank you God for picking me as a nasty banana.  I submit to your plan and ask that you make me into banana bread as well.  I give you this home, this family, this neighborhood for your service.  My answer is “yes” to what you have for me here.  To be honest I am a wee bit intimidated but I know I can do all things through your Son who strengthens me.  Have your way, Lord.  Have your way!


5:30am, Alarm Clocks and BioFreeze

Today has been a long day.  Especially for a  weekend day.  If I had to describe my day in three short words/phrases they would be 5:30am, Grace and Banana Bread.  The last two go together, really so I will blog those later.  The first one, well I can’t help but talk about running!

5:15am.  I don’t know about your alarm clock,  but I didn’t think mine even had that time on it on the weekend.  I learned today that it does.  I also learned that it takes 8 minutes to get from my house to the rec center in town when there’s no traffic.

A local running club called Mach Tenn Running Club has group runs on Sunday mornings starting at 6:30am with approximately 30 people in attendance.  Today, the workout distance was set at 6 miles but I, and several other friends of mine, needed to get in 10+ miles so we met an hour earlier than the scheduled start time to get in a few extras.  Today was my first time participating even though I have wanted to for nearly a year.  They provide water stops, Gu Gel at appropriate points in the run, and mark out the course with direction markers.  Talk about a no-brainer run.   I ended up with hip pain after the run but other than that, I have to say I’m glad it worked out for me to go.

The other reason I liked running with this group is because they offer incentives to those who run with them.  Right now, they are having a drawing at the end of their 8 week contest good for a club t-shirt and another for a free registration to the half marathon they sponsor in the Fall/Spring called the Oak Barrel Half Marathon.  People come from all over the world to run this race.  It’s crazy to think that in our little corner of the world we pull that kind of following.  I’m sure it’s because of Whiskey Hill and the other rolling hills on the course.  According to the website they are in the process of getting the course certified according to  USA Track & Field.  That’s pretty cool!

The only draw back to today’s run is I’m experiencing some hip pain on my right side.  I have an appointment to get adjusted from head to toe on Wednesday from Dr. Kelly.  She’s an amazing chiropractor.  Not to mention her massage therapists are miracle workers, it seems!  She and her staff HOOKED ME UP before my first half marathon last spring and I absolutely contribute part of my success to their services.  Anyway, I took Ibuprofen and slathered on Icy Hot (because we just moved and my BioFreeze is MIA) but still the pain continues.  Hopefully she can get me back on track because there’s no way I’m running on it until after my appointment.  Walking around my home to unpack is enough for me right now.

I’d be happy to share with you what else I did today, but this post is getting a little long.  Check out my other write up on Grace and Banana Bread for more Andrea adventures!


“The Iron Nun” and a little humor

I was going through the comments and new followers for this landing spot on the web and came across a person with the handle “HemingwayRun.”  I scooted over there to check out what he was up to and am delighted at what I found there.  This blogger writes very well and keeps a reader entertained by little bits of humor throughout.  I am almost certain he is one of those people who, in person, just rattles these things off without meaning to be funny but everyone around him is probably in stitches…constantly.

Header from Hemingway, Run!’s blog. http://www.hemingwayrun.wordpress.com. He’s a “Featured on Freshly Pressed” blogger, too!

Anyway, I read several of his posts but my favorite one was entitled “Amazing People.”  If you are a runner or an athlete at all, please take a second to go read this post.  I am always on the look out for motivation and inspiration to keep up my training.  I absolutely found a new dos of both of those there.  I learned about a woman by the name of Sister Madonna Buder.  She began training at the age of 48 after hearing the Father of her Roman Catholic church during mass talk about the benefits of distance running.  Now, 30 years later she says she isn’t sure she has figured out what the “runner’s high” is but she sure knows what a runner’s low is.  Ha! Isn’t that the truth!

Anyway, I am grateful and thank God for great writers, great people, and amazing inspiration and motivation.  If you know of any other people I should be researching along these lines, please feel free to comment below.


PS: I think I might take the challenge of running 2014 miles next year.  Shew…that’s a bunch of miles but, God willing I will be able to see it through.  What a great idea.  I wonder where he got the idea to do that…

You want me to move where and do what?!

He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.
– Venerable Bede

Over the last month, my family and I have been packing up all of our belongings in preparation to transport them to our new home across town.  You see, God has given us an amazing opportunity to get out of the house that has major issues (structurally and otherwise), into a home which has been maintained with utmost care.  Even still, it was a very hard decision for my family to make.  We LOVE our neighbors at the house we are in now.  Two of our neighbors go to church with us.  Across the street is a retired couple who adore our boys.  However, we would have to give up our family dog whom we’ve had for three years if we moved.

My oldest son with our 3 year old black Great Dane that we have recently found a new home for. His name is Cooper.

My oldest son with our 3 year old black Great Dane that we have recently found a new home for. His name is Cooper.

 At the new house, we would have more space, a newer (in age) space, less yard maintenance, further away from the local grocery store where the prices are much higher and easy to walk to on a whim, a perfectly measured out 1.1 mile loop for race training and other members of our church live there.  There were definitely pros and cons to both places.

Two weeks ago, I was sitting in church and our pastor introduced his 4 week sermon series that he was kicking off that week.  Guess what it was about…Money.  Yes Money.  We’ve all heard those sermons before…

  • “You aren’t fully trusting God unless you are giving your tithe, or 10% of your income.”
  • “Money is the root of all evil…don’t hold on to your money too tightly.”
  • “We have an exciting time coming up for our church family!  We are going to triple the size of our church’s structure.  We need you to commit to tithing and an extra 10% because let’s face it, Baby needs a new pair of shoes!”
  • “We are going to take up a love offering to help the poor.  Give more than you want to because if you don’t you will go home and your cabinets will catch on fire, your house will collapse and your family dog will fall out with convulsions.”

Ok no maybe not the last two verbatim, but don’t you feel like that sometimes after money sermons?  Yea I know the feeling.  This time it was different.  Instead of “Give give give or you are going to hell,”  Pastor Scott made some very good points.  He told us that giving is more than just a concern of financial means.  It also includes time and talent.  Money is such a small part of it.  The big part  of all of the “giving” a Christian is called to do deals with discipleship and our relationship with God.  He made the main point like this:

Until you realize that you were bought at a price, through Christ, and everything you you are and have are his, you will never understand what is being asked of you as a Christian.  Your mind, body, soul, house, family, money, time…it’s all Gods that He has given to use to use for his glory!  It’s not yours to begin with.  Use those things as he would use them.

For some reason, it really hit home with me.  Not really the money part but the part that our home doesn’t belong to us, that he gives us the home we are supposed to have so that we can serve him with it by way of outreach, ministry use and whatever else he decides to do with it.  There is no reason we should have been able to obtain this home, so it became the focus of my thinking and praying.  “God are you telling me that we should move to this new home because you have a plan to use it for your glory?”  Hummmm, I camped there for the rest of that Sunday.

The next day I got my phone out to read my reading plan for that day.  I am reading the bible through in a year, chronologically.  Currently I am in Isaiah, chapter 40ish, or I was at the time.  Anyway, my childcare kiddos had arrived by that time so I selected the “read to me” option.  I push play and am floored because instead of reading the scripture like it was supposed to, a sermon by Malcom Heading came on from almost a year ago.  Guess what the first thing was he said…

You were bought with a price!  Don’t you know that everything you have has been given to you by God?  All of it is his on loan to you for you to use for his Will.  Your body, mind, soul, house, family, money, time…all of it is on loan from him and he could take it away at any moment if you aren’t using it for what he’s given it to you for…

I could…NOT…believe what I was hearing.  Two days in a row, nearly the exact same message.  Clearly God was telling me what we were supposed to do.  Clearly he has a plan to use that house for something big and he wants my family to be the ones to carry it out.  Who was I to say no?

That day we agreed to take the property and had our pastor over to pray a prayer of submission to what God wants for us in this season of our lives.  I had decided the first thing I would do once we got in the new home was to go around and meet the neighbors as I do each time we move to a new area.  I fully plan to make little baskets to give each family as a friendly way to establish a positive relationship.  Soon I will do a blog on what exactly I plan to give each family but right now I’m still not 100% decided.  There’s a conversation going on over on facebook if you want to give your ideas.

Fast forward to last week.  Our church has just started a new outreach ministry called “S.H.A.R.E.” which stands for Share Him And Reach Everyone.  I am planning to sign my family up for their outreach opportunities so figured I’d see what their upcoming events were.  Take a wild guess what the one in November is…yep…  “Neighborhood Outreach.”  Looks like I will be starting that one early and then following up with them in November!  Just another bit of confirmation for God himself.

We have been in the transition stage for a couple of weeks now and will complete this portion of the move on the 23rd and 24th of August.  Stay tuned for more updates and to witness God’s full plan with this house.  I, like I said before, will be sharing the friendship baskets with you all.  Please be praying that God uses these baskets as a way to open up communication and fellowship with those who will be living right around us.  Mother Teresa says we need to be concerned with our neighbors.  I pray that our family can be that light of hope in our neighborhood.

In parting, let me show you what our school room is shaping up like:

From the front door.

From the front door.

From the book cases (see other picture).

From the book cases (see other picture).

My goal is to have it look like a normalish room as people walk in but then from inside the room it is supposed to look more exciting and fun for the kids.  I still have a few things to bring in but all in all it’s coming together.


Over 20 Sole Sisters to Invade Nashville in September!

I am overwhelmed and amazed that I can report that I am officially a Sole Sister team member!  Many friends responded to my plea for help with race fees and I have met my goal!  Oh I am so thrilled!  Septmeber 27th is the Expo/Bib pick up and the morning of the 28th, my team and I will approach the starting line in hopes to accomplish personal goals and make ourselves proud.

Thank you for everyone’s help!  Over the next month, I will be making 14+ spa wash cloths for those who have sponsored my run.  I pray I can make the most beautiful wash cloths I have ever made as my way of saying thanks.