X is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartsX is for
“eXcept the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it.” Psalm 127:1

A Hymn to Impart“God Will Take Care of You”

How Our Week Was Spent
I ran in a race with Nate and I passed all the big kids and Nate got first place and I got fourth. Ti and Joel had to swim in the ocean for their race and we all got medals and shirts and big pretzels (by Sam, almost 5!).
race day
Teacher’s Two-Cents
I know our verse technically doesn’t start with an X, nor does it contain any bird references. But it does sort of mention nests and is therefore the subject of the next post in our series. The entire Psalm speaks to my heart as a mother. Even though this condo in Hawaii wasn’t anywhere close to my choice of nesting locations I knew that if this was where He was leading us I would never be happy anywhere else. I might have found us the perfect little farmhouse in the country but it would have been me building that nest and not the Lord and my labors in the home would have been in vain. Now, that isn’t to say that even in this nest of God’s own choosing I don’t often feel that my labors are quite in vain. Because I do. Everyday. The tornado that is this crazy, boy-filled life seems to follow directly in the path of my cleaning. No sooner is the floor swept then it is covered in crumbs again. The laundry basket is filled just as quickly as it is emptied. An endless cycle of books and toys grace every surface. And just as I put away the last of the dishes the sink is filled again. Keeping house does indeed seem a labor in vain but I have to remember that making a home isn’t quite the same thing as just keeping house. And the home the Lord has provided for us here is serving as the perfect incubator to prepare all my little chicks for a life of service to our Lord.
The second part of verse 1 really gets me because I am a late-night worrier. But the Psalmist says “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” My children are my little city and no amount of sleepless anxiety will keep them safe. Their Heavenly Watchman has them entirely in his keeping. Verse 2 says that the Lord “gives to His beloved sleep.” Now, I must admit I have called that statement into question many a time with a baby in the house but eventually sleep does come and no amount of “anxious toil” will bring it any faster. Then there are verses 3-5 which end the Psalm with, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” I have no idea what the future holds but all my arrows are aimed in that direction and the Lord will guide them from this nest to their intended target. All my worry and anxious toil will not get them there any faster or any closer to the bulls-eye.

"Quiver Full"  an oil-on-canvas by Titus

“Quiver Full” an oil-on-canvas by Titus

Here’s a little poem I made up to end our little “nesting series.”

God bless this nest
and all this mess
that seems to spring up from the floor.
I just went through-
twas only a minute or two-
and it wasn’t here before.
But little hands
and little feet
get busy in a jiffy
and turn to shambles
through playful rambles
what had just been looking spiffy.


W is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartW is for
“What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” Luke 13:18,19

A Hymn to Impart“Sunshine in My Soul”

How Our Week Was Spent
If you see a bee working with flowers, it’s probably a drone. It has been told by a scout bee about the flowers and has been sent to collect pollen. The scout bee does a special dance that tells the drone where the flower is (Titus, 10).

The Drones on their treasure hunt.

The Drones on their treasure hunt.

Our Mom hid treasures outside and we took turns being scout bees and doing circular or waggle dances and everyone else had to figure out where to go to find the treasures (Nate, almost 7!).
Mad Hungry Worker Bees digging into their Creamed Honey

Mad Hungry Worker Bees digging into their Creamed Honey

Also our Opa sent us a movie about Starling dances. A flock of a quarter-million birds will do a dance called murmurations all together (Joel, 8 1/2).

Teacher’s Two-Cents
And what is our little kingdom like? To what shall I compare it? It is like a little castle set in a fishbowl. Just like a city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither can a family with 5 active little boys, especially in a third floor corner condo with floor-to-ceiling walls of glass. Yes, we are a small kingdom in a fishbowl. While the condo succeeds in it’s design to take maximum advantage of the beautiful views of the mountains, golf course, lush gardens and even a bit of ocean, it also succeeds in giving everyone else a view IN. Plus, living in a tropical climate where everything is kept wide open to let those coveted trade winds cool things down means that everyone can HEAR what’s going on in our little kingdom as well. And in a neighborhood made up almost exclusively of snowbirds and vacationers our big, boisterous family is certainly an anomaly. There are a few other families with one or two kids each but of course, those kids are in school all day. Except for weeks like this last one when they were all on spring break, only their mommies and daddies still had to work, so our little castle was full to the brim! A couple even did school with us! Curious neighbors really got an eye-full then! “What’s she doing now? Starting a day-care or something?” Thankfully, we have some of the best and dearest and most accommodating neighbors in the world who would rather spoil our boys rotten than ever complain about the extra noise. It took me a while to realize that fact. When we first moved here I was going overboard trying to keep everyone as quiet and unassuming as possible but gradually it dawned on me that these children are a gift to so many of these lonely, older people around us. They are a bright light in a dimming world of age. I was working so hard at keeping that light under a basket, when God wanted it out on it’s stand! Why else would he have put us up here in this fishbowl but to give light to everyone else in the complex? “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
What the neighbors might see on any given day on our lanai.  Just lettin' our little lights shine!

What the neighbors might see on any given day on our lanai. Just lettin’ our little lights shine!

V is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartsV is for
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 13:38-14:1

A Hymn to Impart“God Be With You”

How Our Week Was Spent
Shepherd ants guard flocks of aphids. They protect them from Ladybugs. The ants milk the aphids by rubbing their antennae on the aphid’s back and that squeezes out the aphid’s honeydew (by Titus and Joel).

Teacher’s Two-Cents
“I go to prepare a place for you…” When I think of our current nest, I think of that verse. Tom and I literally stumbled blindly to this place but the Lord had prepared the way and was leading us every step. That is the ONLY explanation for how we ended up in this condo by the sea on the Big Island of Hawaii. With only 2 weeks to prepare for our move here we had no time to secure a place before our arrival so we searched the internet for a short-term vacation rental to crash in while house-hunting. The beauty we ended up in was brand new to the market and was being rented at a greatly reduced price so as to secure good ratings by guests. We fell in love with the location immediately but knew we could never afford to live here long term. Our budget pretty much limited us to the sketchier areas of Kona, run-down shacks, or basement Ohanas, but for a single school term (which is fully how long I expected this mad adventure to last) I was willing to settle anywhere. Unfortunately, with four little boys in tow not even sketchier places would take us, so we bounced around from vacation rental to vacation rental for a couple months. During that time I had remained in touch with an elderly lady who lived next door to that first spot we had landed in and I was excited to see that a place was available for long term rent above her. It was way over our budget but it came fully furnished and included utilities so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a look. Only problem was the property management company wouldn’t even let us in. After they had stood us up for the 3rd time I mentioned to Shirley, the dear older lady downstairs, the trouble we were having trying to see the place. Well she got busy talking to people until she had tracked down the owner’s email address. As soon as she handed it to me I knew this was our nest. The address began with the words “gracegift” and that was enough for me. I contacted the owners in Japan and they agreed to rent to us at a reduced rate and 3 years later we are still in the same place. I’ve heard grace defined as “getting what we don’t deserve” while mercy is “not getting what we do deserve.” Living here has truly been a gift of grace and everyday that I wake up in this beautiful place I am reminded that His mercies are indeed new every morning.

U is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartsU is for
“Under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekial 17:23,24

A Hymn to Impart“Lilies of the Field”

How Our Week Was Spent

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Our neighbors gave us a tent. It has a big door and a little door for Gideon. One day we did our school work in the tent.
Then we didn’t do any more school work because Uncle Ben and Aunt Danielle came to visit (Joel, 8 1/2).

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Teacher’s Two-Cents
Here is the second installment of our nesting series, a short chronicle of our various dwellings:

Nest One was a basement suite;
Ocean front, with gorgeous view
and included in the rent
was carbon monoxide poisoning for two.

Nest Two was a spruced-up shed
with an odd, chemically smell.
Turns out it was a former lab
where meth-heads used to dwell.

Nest Three was the Parsonage
adjacent to the church.
If we ever missed a service
they didn’t have far to search.

Nest 4 was our city digs;
an apartment -normal, boring.
Nest 5 was a real live house
which sent our spirits soaring.

So much in fact, we got to work
and immediately added chicks.
But 2 weeks after the fourth was born
we moved into Nest 6.

That tiny cabin in the woods
was an answer to my prayer
for a lot less house and a lot more dirt
and that fresh, cool mountain air.

Nest 7 was a lot more house
but still had forest all around
and by then I was quite proud
of the perfect place I’d found.

But God had other plans in mind
and He moved us on once more.
Nest 8 is where we’ve landed now
on this warm, Hawaiian shore.

…to be continued…

T is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartsT is for
“The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.” Psalm 104:16,17

A Hymn to Impart“Children of The Heavenly Father”

How Our Week Was Spent

The bombardier beetle has two sacks inside his body, each containing a certain kind of gas. Whenever it feels threatened, it is able to open a valve between the two sacks which allows them to mix. When the gasses mix it causes an explosion. Here is a picture I drew from another picture of it’s insides and how it works (Titus, 10).
Titus, Joel and I did an aquathon. Titus won and Joel came in 2nd and I was 5th. The ocean was very rough that day but we swam fast and then ran a whole mile. Then we got our picture in the newspaper (Nate, 6 1/2).
front page
Teacher’s Two-Cents
Our next 4 memory verses will continue on the “nest” theme so I thought I’d do a little series on our own nest starting with the one I hatched from. My Mom is the most gifted homemaker I have ever known. Growing up, we never lived in big houses but they were always beautiful and she made them that way with her own two hands, scouring thrift stores and garage sales for used treasures and giving them new life. She can completely transform a room in a day, sewing up curtains and pillows and seat cushions in a flash. And the things that come out of her kitchen! She is always cooking for a crowd, whether they are invited or not. 1/2 an hour till dinner time and 10 surprise visitors? No problem. And here’s the amazing part: she can do all this without ever messing up her kitchen! I know it sounds crazy but she has some magic art of cooking and cleaning at the same time so that even as she is putting all this delicious food on the table the counter tops and stove show no trace of the flurry that has just occurred in there. AND…get this…she is able to accomplish all of this without any granite or stainless steel in sight! Imagine having to work under such deplorable conditions as ceramic tile counters, white appliances, and standard oak cabinets! I know. I know. All the aspiring gourmet chefs of my generation are in total shock. Yes, her housekeeping skills are indeed legendary and if any of her friends are reading this you should know that the beautiful, spotlessly clean home you were so graciously welcomed into, did in fact look that way ALL THE TIME. And let me also tell you, she didn’t get much help from her five kids either. Of all her talents, delegation is NOT one of them. I don’t think I’d ever cleaned a toilet until I got my own apartment in college. But more on my own nests next week. Now that will be a lesson in contrasts!
“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1

S is for…

A Verse Hid In Our Hearts...S is for
“So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm according to their kinds and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:21

A Hymn To Impart“This Is My Father’s World”

How Our Week Was Spent
mantis 1
We learned about flying bugs. We found a dead Praying Mantis and looked at all it’s parts. It had extra eyes on it’s forehead and hairs on it’s legs that it uses to taste stuff! (Nate, 6 1/2)
mantis 3
Gideon tried to eat the Praying Mantis! Gideon has teeth! (Sam, 4 1/2)
mantis 2
We started paddle practice with the canoe club and it was fun (Joel, 8 1/2).

A hui hou!

A hui hou!

Teacher’s Two-Cents
Growing up, I always assumed that my mother’s love of the outdoors and knowledge of nature had come from my father, The Handsome Park Ranger she had married at the age of 19. It wasn’t until later that I realized it came first from her own mother. In the spring we would always take drives out to wherever the wildflowers were putting on the biggest show and even as a child I marveled that my mom always knew the names of every single one. I wanted to know all their names, too. It’s amazing how our God-given dominion instinct manifests itself this way in children. If they know something’s name, quite simply, they own it. “His name is (insert any other child’s name that they have just met no more than 2 seconds ago). He is MY friend.” OR “This is MY (insert any bug, reptile, or amphibian just relocated into your kitchen here). I named him Marvin.” When children learn something’s name it suddenly becomes a legitimate part of THEIR world. From infancy much of their learning is the naming of the things around them and they absolutely delight in the accumulation of this knowledge.
I don’t know who coined the term “Delight Directed Learning” but they pretty much stole it straight out of Psalms 111:2 which reads, “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” My Mom delighted in God’s creation just as her own mother did and that was passed on to me. I may not be a trained Naturalist but I already have 2 of the most important qualifications for teaching the Natural Sciences to my children: I love the majestic works of the Lord AND I love my boys. 1 Corinthians 13:1,2 reads “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I… understand all mysteries and all knowledge… but have not love, I am nothing.” Even though I wasn’t home-schooled that verse is the reason my Mom was the best teacher I ever had.
My Mom and The Handsome Park Ranger, 2011

My Mom and The Handsome Park Ranger, 2011


R is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartsR is for
“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you say ‘I have no pleasure in them’…When the sound of grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird.”
Ecclesiastes 12:1,4

A Hymn to Impart“Nearer My God to Thee”
Note: My boys just reminded me that this was the song playing in the background of the Genesis 1 reading by Apollo 8 which we posted here last year on our astronomy blog.

How Our Week Was Spent
I drowned an ant and then Mom put salt on it and it came back to life. We named the ant Lazarus (Nate, 6 1/2).
Experiment #1
We tried drowning ants too only they wouldn’t drown for a really long time and then when we put them on a plate with salt on them Dad washed all the dishes including our plate of salted ants so then they were really drowned so our experiment failed (Joel, 8 1/2).
Experiment #2
Dad said we should try the experiment again with a control ant so we drowned 3 but only put salt on 2. The one with no salt walked right off the plate but the other 2 are still there in their salt grave (Titus, 10).
Experiment #3
Teacher’s Two-Cents
If you haven’t had a look at this week’s memory verse make sure you check it out. It’s worth taking the time to read the whole thought-provoking chapter. When I read it aloud to the boys I could tell being around seniors all the time had really payed off in their comprehension of these riddles of old age. They have witnessed first hand the dimming vision, the trembling hands, the bent backs, the missing teeth, the impaired hearing, the nervousness and anxiety that come with advanced years. They didn’t know about the difficulty sleeping but they learned that this week too.
I myself thought I was being awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a bird but it turns out it was the referee’s whistle coming from the TV. All my little hockey fans had snuck out of bed with their Dad to watch the Olympic match between USA and Russia which here in Hawaii was broadcasted at 2:30 in the morning. So I did what any other already sleep-deprived mother would do. I made them hot chocolate and rice-krispy treats and we made a night of it. After the game, which the U.S. won in a shoot-out in case you were wondering, everyone went back to bed except my little early bird and I. The full moon was shining brightly over the water and it was Nate’s turn to take a neighborhood prayer walk with me (the boys consider themselves ‘Prayer Ninjas’ since we have to be VERY sneaky when we do this) so out we went into the moonlight.
Shocking how many others are up at 5 in the morning. Old people really do wake up early. And I’m pretty sure they hadn’t all been watching hockey. We prayed extra for all our elderly neighbors who had their lights on in those wee hours. Neighbors we know are suffering from loneliness, from recent loss of loved ones, from poor health, from worry.
When I am old and maybe alone and when I too will “rise up at the sound of a bird,” I thank the Lord for the treasure trove of memories I will have to feast upon in those quiet hours of the night. Memories of little boys snuggled up with their Dad trying desperately to contain their cheers so as not to disturb the neighbors. Memories of walking hand-in-hand with my Nathan in the moonlight and hearing his whispered prayers for those around us (he and Sam always pray that everyone else can get a new baby, too :)). And even though I was a pretty grumpy Mommy all the next day I hope that big heart shaped marshmallow I remembered to put on top of their cocoa made up for it.
hearts and hockey
For more on middle-of-the-night family fun click here.