Endless Gifts

Endless Gifts

winding Maryland roads and the butterflies floating up in glimmering sunlight like the campfire sparks fly up against the backdrop of quickening summer darkness

Cunningham Falls and swimming at Courtney’s and the way she welcomed us in on a day close to a trip


so many swallowtails this year, so beautiful


traveling on varied Lehigh Shuttle buses up campus and down and grateful for my brother who successfully got us on one in the nick of time by watching the amazing app that tracks the buses in real time! How things change!!! Everything bigger- but O! the memories -us, wilted with heat and sweat, hanging on for dear life on those wild Lehigh buses, – Campus Connector, MOOV-In, Packer Express- the very names make me laugh out loud

And the sweet lady who chatted us all the way up the mountain and escorted us right to the foot of son’s new dorm- and impressed emphatically upon our VERY MINDS to stress the importance of NOT losing his I.D. card to our son- so, so funny. We show her the ID card holder we bought for him and were about to give him. She nods her approval.

the way I narrowly escape an infamous parking ticket; it’s all grace

Being able to talk math classes and calculus with my brother and my dad- and that one moment rising out of a speech at the Arts and Science convocation that suddenly galvanized me to action

the wonderful “hotel” bed at my mom’s (you know who you are!) and condoling with two long episodes of never before watched Call the Midwife (yes, yes, I did) the night of Move-In Day

Two new Lehigh mugs- and somehow I accidentally like his better than mine. Oops.


My Dad uncovering an essay from my freshman year of college- that I have often wondered about and remembered- a photo analysis- and the subject was my sister

the deep grief of a certain trouble I can never seem to escape

a big bowl of salty popcorn and Mary Poppins Returns

a recognition of a fleeting deep-seated peace of us all together- I didn’t ask for that peace or even really recognize I was missing it- and I know and knew its very fleetingness- but it was still real. It was still there.

The way he saved three tiny root beers and tossed them out to his brothers in a manly spirit of kind generosity and how he chose to buy snacks for sibs on the car ride home

The way one of them fingerknit a red head band for her cousin, and I came home to little cousin adorned with it

Joshua’s art work


a visit to Grammy Helen and PopPop John



Coffee and generous dollops of coconut whip cream on the first, hard day

an orangey sunset and sweetest friend and the way I see her photographic eye and the orange on orange on orange

deep, singing words that feed mind and soul

Enter the Worship Circle playing loud and singing with my heart as we away, away

a silver BAM cello case


my darlings gather round in strong support- and I wonder how I can keep breaking this heart again, again- they way I broke my body open, the way I laid down my life, I know it will get better as I stumble dimly and wonder why

Asher at the helm with diplomacy and action- I watch in wonder; those little girls joyfully do all the chores with him


and I am grateful for this gift this particular day was for me

the way, months ago,  my dad told me that no matter what, it would all be alright- and how did he know I would need those words?

the way the light gleams on a tended, tidied houseIMG_20190821_182330276

the way things will never be the same


Endless Gifts


The Things They Say

The Things They Say

It’s been a long day coming. Too long. But, it is time and-
we are headed to the new abode of Todd’s grandparents. 91 and 94 years old. They are amazing.
It’s been about a year since they moved out of the home they owned, where they raised all their children and also some grandchildren, and even sheltered and played a part in caring for great-grandchildren.
Now, they live somewhere new. Somewhere that provides support and care while still allowing Grammy to live with and care for PopPop.
None-the-less, it is a different drive through Bethlehem- heading to this new place. There are some small people in our big van who are a wee bit confused.
We pull up to the curb outside the expansive building.
There is little girl chatter behind Todd and I…. suddenly, we hear, rising above
the conversation, a clear, distinct voice-
I look back and see one small girl looking out the window
she  states
clearly- announcing and explaining to her sisters:
“Now she lives in a hotel….”
Todd and I laugh out loud. We laugh long and full of joy. It does look like a hotel. It does have some of the same amenities. It is clean and well-tended.
The things they say.
Note: they sent us out with armfuls of provisions: juice boxes and water, Grammy made sure to have on hand just for us. Cookies for Todd. I ponder their love, and her generous hospitality.
I will never forget.

School Plans for 2019

If you are someone who is overwhelmed by someone else’s “much,” just scroll on by as they say- I know I can be, so no worries. I actually always, always hesitate to ever write posts like this because it can all just be too much. The writing process is helpful for me though! As I was writing this, I realized several key details I need to attend to! So, onward and no hard feelings if this isn’t for you! 

On another note, it is now the next day and we are enroute to a brand-new college move-in day. Somehow, we are all loaded, and I know the fleeting completeness of us all together again.

I realized not everyone homeschools to college, and there are different paths to reach the same goal: sons and daughters reaching full potential in Christ; in life-

However, this is how we do it. My two high school students are respectively heading most likely to a four-year college and the other to start at community college based on their personal goals, potential, and needs- so that is my context! The best thing I can say is that I always plan with the end in mind- and even now am positioning my eighth and sixth grade sons for their futures.


Right now, as I type these words, Todd is heading home with a car full of our loves, bringing Tall Son back from a summer working at a Christian Retreat Center- and shuttling three siblings with him who all spent some hours together (with Todd) at Hershey Park.  What a day! Here at home, I cooked; we cleaned; Cookie Bar was baked by a young master for all to enjoy- but especially big brother; and I finalized homeschool planning.

The planning steps are involved, and planning begins months before the year begins- it is a process! However, in summer, I prepare Goal Sheets for our oversight. I attend oversight orientation and pay fees. I prepare a shopping list- or rather I tweak and perfect a list I have been curating for a good, long while-  and make purchase plans. I find resources and print documents. I prepare chore plans and meal plans. I create checklists and a schedule/daily flow. I review every out-sourced class and corresponding required texts and supplies/resources and make sure I have a plan to secure what is needed.

Little by little, piece by piece it falls into place.

It feels like a good time to share plans for 2019 as I balance on the cusp of college launch week(s).

Note: these plans are (somewhat) subject to change!

Junior (son):

Bible (Daily Scripture; Selected Readings (from Sonlight Core 300- Paul Little: Know What You Believe and Know Who You Believe along with selected C.S. Lewis texts)

Math: Honors Precalculus online with Liberty Tutorials (Foerster)

Science: Apologia Physics with Lab at co-op

History: Early Modern Great Books at co-op (Honors World History- Early Modern on the transcript)

Spanish 2 : Rosetta Stone (hopefully- he took Spanish 1 at The Potter’s School- not sure how this is all going to go- working on it!)

Technology: AP Computer Science A with Pennsylvania Homeschoolers

English: AP English Language with Debra Bell’s AIM Academy (Liliana Serbicki)

Fine Arts (half credit) : piano

Elective: Personal Finance with dear friends

and soccer, scouting

Sophomore (daughter):

Bible: still finalizing

Math: Algebra 2 at co-op

Elective Science/Study Skills: Health (first semester) Study Skills (second semester) with The Potter’s School

Combined English and History: US History and Literature at co-op

Additional English support: Wings to Soar Academy intervention programs: Infercabulary; Exact Path; Reading Plus

Foreign Language: Latin

Fine Arts/Phys Ed: Violin/Dance

Elective: Personal Finance with dear friends

Eighth Grade (son):

Bible, History, Literature, Science, English: Heart of Dakota finish Res- to-Ref/start Rev to Rev

Personal Reading

Vocabulary: Wordly Wise

Spelling: Phonetic Zoo

Math: Honors Algebra 1 with The Potter’s School

Music: Viola/Piano

Art: HOD/ and appreciation

Phys Ed: Tennis/Basketball, scouting

Sixth Grade (son):

Bible, History, Literature, Science, English: Heart of Dakota finish Res- to-Ref/start Rev to Rev

Personal Reading

Vocabulary: Wordly Wise

Typing: Mavis Beacon

Spelling: Phonetic Zoo

Math: Saxon 76

Music: Flute/Piano

Art: HOD/and appreciation; planning for some lessons as he has a special aptitude

Phys Ed: Tennis; hiking, scouting

Second/Third grade (daughter a):

Bible, History, Literature, Science: Ambleside Online Y2

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful; All About Spelling; Copybook

Math: The Good and the Beautiful

Art: Appreciation

Music: Cello/piano

Phy Ed: Dance

Second/Third grade (daughter b):

Bible, History, Literature, Science: Ambleside Online Y2

Language Arts: The Barton System; Copybook

Math: Right Start

Art: Appreciation

Music: Piano

Phys Ed: Dance

First Grade baby girl:

Bible, History, Literature, Science: Ambleside Online Y2

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful; Explode the Code; A Reason for Handwriting

Math: Horizons/ The Good and the Beautiful Level 1

Art: Appreciation

Music Violin/Piano

Phys Ed: Dance

What are your plans for 2019?




Lean in

It’s getting close. Just days away, really. I’m sending another son away. Times, they are a changing. It hurts to think how different things will be around here.

Truth is,

it is going to hurt when things are so different around here.

It doesn’t mean it isn’t right; it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t go; and it certainly doesn’t mean I shouldn’t acknowledge the change. It is the beautiful juxtaposition: joy and pain.

I have to keep a forward gaze, while also being present at hand. I have been thinking often- about this post, I wrote so long ago. Embrace the Day

The crux of it- that maybe isn’t really fully articulated in that actual post- is that peace and life (of which Jesus is the Source) are found in being present in the unique day at hand (with its own challenges, needs, blessings, and struggles). Embrace the day- where I take an inward deep breath, settle in, and receive what is, walking by faith in that “now” and trusting as I walk forward into what will be.

The trust I learned as I walked each season with each new baby; as I walk each new school year with these, my students; as I release and let go to turn around and focus on those here with me; — that trust is serving me now- as I realize the Spirit-filled walk of faith is calling to me-  the same trust and faith expressing itself in each different, changing season. It looks different but the heartbeat is the same.  It looks like heart to hearts with teens; texts, phone calls, video calls-  and the strong support backing young adults growing into themselves; it looks like believing in choices for children; it looks like table time with little girls and the disciplined choice to read, read, read. It looks like us (all of us) hand in hand and heart to heart.

I have to take hold with both hands that which is right in front of me.

I also have to lift up my heart and focus heart and energy forward into the good. (This means I think about all the good this next step is for this son I am letting go; this means I look around at the darlings before me and choose love; this means I step bravely forward into this new year)

I am uncomfortable with all the changes. I feel like the journey of my life has been traversed on the undulating waves of adjustments and change. Repeat.

The best tactic for me is to focus one laser-focused, clear eye on what is in front of me and give my whole heart.

I think back to pregnancy; to days cupping infants; to the days when I had more children who needed to learn to read than I did who could read- those days are definitely over.

I have been filling days (making memories) with my soon to be leaving son, and I am looking forward to welcoming home another son who will have been gone for seven long weeks. I can’t wait to see his face and hug his neck. I can’t wait to wrap a hug around him and let him know how deeply loved he is.

I have felt a rising panic as I strive to get ready for our next, upcoming school year. A year that will surely be different. Just as they all have been and will continue to be. But, by faith, I know that there will be wonderful opportunities for rich soul work in the hearts under this roof. All the hearts.

I am… leaning in. One day at a time, one change at a time.

Won’t you lean in, too?

Settling in with peace- knowing the {why}

I sent a son off to soccer this week. Or rather, I began the disciplined haul of practice runs as pre-season began along with an evening boot camp. This is the start of this son’s fourth year participating with the local Christian school which provides oversight for our homeschool.


I have been down this track before.

And I have to admit, I am a questioner. I am always assessing, evaluating, questioning- and yes, even second-guessing choices I make and paths I take.

Knowing the why makes all the difference.

After the very first day, a somewhat discouraged {and tired} son sat on my floor reflecting. And I, weary and battle sore {and weak} wondered if it all was worth it anyway. So we had a little chat- and it went like this:

What do you gain from playing soccer? 

His words:

  1. fitness
  2. discipline
  3. time management
  4. learning how to properly interact {communicate}  with all different kinds of people, and people I wouldn’t necessarily choose to be around

Grateful, I sighed in relief- because yes, these are the benefits that we have experienced and pursue through this; that we value for their impact and goodness; that I do know will have such a positive forward reach into his future. I was glad he articulated it because, in that moment, I didn’t know if I could. I needed his words, too. I needed to remind myself why I shuttle around in my big van again, again. Also, so very glad he owned these benefits for himself.

I shared how much knowing how to manage an athletic commitment and academics helped me in my life when I was a student (time management).

But, it felt lonely for him, too. The “why” is worth it, but how to turn this all the way around?
What can you bring to the team?
even if you never have a buddy; even if you never really “fit in”; even if you never play a fantastic game {we are not-in general- fantastic athletes over here}
My words:
  1. a positive attitude
  2. respect for Coach and the team
  3. joy in the Lord
  4. solid work ethic

He agreed.

When Micah {oldest son now in college} was getting ready to begin his journey into high school basketball, I had one profound conversation with my brother. He talked a lot about body language and communication- and the way sports carried forward into his life as a grown man.  I listened; I agreed.

And I have learned (since 2013).

Athletics or physical activity is very important for my teens. It is something that is definitely a priority going forward for all of our children.

When the season gets long and the days get hard, because they will, I will remember this son’s good points. And press on.


The Things They Say (Food Allergy Edition)


A very special allergen safe restaurant One Dish Cuisine is most likely closing (and we are so sad).




Just a couple weeks ago- on the twins’ birthday actually- (before we knew the restaurant would most likely shut down), we ventured out and fulfilled what has been a long time wish- to go to One Dish. Asher ordered a Burger and Fries freely off the menu- and enjoyed it wholeheartedly; I bit back tears. I did. Something so simple, yet truly so profound. To eat freely.

So, I made an effort to get there one more time, and he ordered pizza and a coke- to go. Something he had really wanted to order and experience.

He received it and brought it out where we were all waiting. It smelled amazing. It looked amazing. So many years eating daiya– and NEVER eating melted cheese outside a restaurant with Todd alone- I can’t tell the difference. Or- maybe it was inner panic. I don’t trust myself. That’s the thing about food allergies. You can’t tell by looking. Cracker A and Cracker B. They can look the same, but one be fatal. This is real life.


After observing the delicious pie, I went back in just to double check with the staff that it was truly safe and dairy free. The restaurant has two menus- a blue menu and a green menu. Dairy is part of the green menu but handled very carefully. They do make dairy cheese pizzas. He ordered off the blue menu- but compulsively- I had to double check. I actually triple checked. The (dairy anaphylactic) owner had made it herself. She confirmed, but she was a little vague- and they (the staff) said things like: if we handed it to you and said blue menu, you’re good. Well, they didn’t hand it to me, and he didn’t remember if they said blue menu. And he ordered himself. However, he did state clearly blue menu, and we were very clear on no dairy for the other things we ordered. So, there you go.

Then we got into the car, and I realized I actually felt nauseous as the (wonderful) smell filled the van, and he got ready to enjoy his first piece. Pizza. (Pizza equals death) All the children were like: It smells amazing! Can’t you smell the daiya? I couldn’t tell.

Asher is eating it, and I am checking in. I am struggling mightily to just be chill and “cool.”

He remarks wryly, “This is exactly the paranoia that keeps us food allergy people alive. However, in this situation, I think it is okay to dial it back a level.”

I laugh. I grin. I love that son so much. O, I love him!

He also notes astutely, chewing a delicious piece- (aware of his own body and reactions thanks to Johns Hopkins’ careful handling), “I would be reacting already if this was dairy.”

Indeed, I realize he would have known at the first bite.

Lord, forbid! The responsibility is unrelenting.

Keeping the food allergy people alive

(and it is true).

The Things They Say

P.S. He finished that large pizza today, and it was delicious!


Because cuteness


she created octopuses all by herself just from seeing a photo

-her original knitted one even has eight legs-

and she drew the sketch

in her quick, creative way

that illuminates

my mind

with delight-

and asked me

to write the words across the top-

(we had a brief debate: octopuses/octopii- in the end

we went with octopii – ill-spelled and all)

she has an entrepreneurial heart

it has shown itself in

more ways than just



with hearts.