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Monthly Archives: June 2012

The night the lights went out.

Summer Storms. Sometimes they come out of nowhere. Just like the storm I talked about last week.

The storm surprised me. (I think it surprised it most of our area too.) I hadn’t paid a bit of attention to the sky or the weather. In fact, I was pretty oblivious to anything outside the walls of our house. Well… except for Facebookland and the neighborhood pool schedule.

The kids and I worked as a team and secured the needed items for a powerless night. Little did I know the powerless night would end up being powerful. But for now, back to our list of supplies: candles, matches, flashlight, more candles, board games, camping stove, candles, and – you guessed it – MORE candles! We had plenty of light, all over the house, complete with dripping wax.

We started the night without lights playing board games we haven’t seen in years. Dad walked into house full of candlelight and laughter. Normally, when the power goes out and there’s a storm, the kids are not-too-happy and usually a bit scared or whining about the enormous level of boredom. I must admit, mom at times also joins in on the not-too-happy attitude mixed with worry about no AC. On this night, when the power went out, the first question was “what are we going to do?” (translated – What we will do since the TV is off?) The second question was “What are we going to eat?” (no translation needed).  Instead of complaining, someone answered with “GAMES!” and “I’ll get the camping stove!” As soon as the camping stove flared on, the meal became 4 star quality! I had planned on a simple dinner of breakfast tacos. There was such a rustic feel, it gave a completely different vibe to our meal. Who knew cooking indoors with a simple camping stove could elevate the meal? I am so thankful we didn’t hop into the car for some take out or fast food. We would’ve missed the opportunity to share this experience together.

After dinner, we sat down for a family game of Apples to Apples. Laughter prevailed. Dad went outside to do some yard work while it was cool. The rest of us stayed indoors to keep our game going. Three hours later, we finally called it a night. Who knew Apples to Apples could last that long?! Usually, when we play a game, it’s for the older kids and the younger ones are left out, or it’s for the younger ones and the older kids beg their way or out of it. Not this time with this game. We all played. We all laughed. We all got along.

The windows stayed open for some air flow. I was sitting on the couch with my back to the window. My husband was outside cleaning up debris. He tried to get my attention through the open window.  Can you picture what’s going to happen? All he did was say my name. I jumped a mile high. Actually, I didn’t just jump. I screamed. When I screamed, EVERYONE screamed. The screams melted into laughter. The kids are still talking about how much we laughed that night.

After the kids went to bed, my husband and I stayed up talking. It was refreshing to just sit and talk. There is such a calmness without the noises of a working house. I felt closer to nature hearing the sounds of the night. I took time to reflect on the evening. That’s when the power came. Not the electricity, the power. It hit me that when the power went out, no one complained. Everyone worked together. We laughed and played and got along. It was so different from the other storms that blow into our lives. What made the difference?

  • Plans. Before the storm hit, someone asked if we could play a game. I had a TV show I wanted to watch, so I was going to fit the game in before my show came on. Our plans were changed with the power outage. Instead of being upset, we adjusted.
  • Attitudes. When the wind started blowing and the clouds rolled in, we marvelled at the beautiful sight. There wasn’t an attitude of fear, but of peace and the majesty of God. Our attitudes were focused on God.
  • Peace. As the mom, I didn’t complain and gripe, but maintained an attitude of calm and thankfulness. I normally stress in stormy situations. This time I didn’t. Because I didn’t, the kids didn’t. There was peace.
  • Bridge building. The conversations earlier that day added stones of safety to our bridge. We built our bridge with uplifting words and actions. When the storm hit we didn’t sway or fall. We stayed strong.

In the midst of a storm, we built bridges. Above all, we laughed and loved. A powerless night became a powerful lesson.

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Summer Storms

Hot temperatures and beautiful, blue summer skies easily lull us into thinking we are safe from the storms. Just last week I was sitting in my special spot with my laptop open and an afternoon cup of coffee in hand when a glance out the window brought to mind all the things I could be doing outside. I called to the girls “Who wants to go swimming?” By the time the sentence escaped my mouth, I wished I could suck it right back in. I noticed the wind throwing branches around. “Ummm… nevermind – looks like rain.” Then I did what I do when I want to see what’s really going on in the world, I checked facebook. People were posting pictures of menacing skies and dark clouds. “Find the flashlights!” was my war cry as we all scampered to get lights, candles and matches. By then (not even five minutes after my first glance outside) rain was pounding and facebook was reporting power outages. We had secured the needed items right before the power flickered then was out – for over 12 hours.

All week I’ve heard story after story of people who were caught unaware. Two thoughts keep replaying in my mind:

Storms that seem to come out of nowhere -isn’t that just like the storms of life?

and

My how things change! Remember last year when no storms came and the only clouds were from smoke of burning neighborhoods? We prayed fervently for rain.

I’m thankful for the storms. They remind me of where I’ve been and who is holding me. I picture Jesus standing in the midst of the dark clouds, commanding the wind in His majestic voice “Be still!” I’m thankful He’s in my boat – and on my bridge. How do your bridges hold up in the storms of life? Are you grasping the handrails in fear? Does your bridge even have a handrail, or has it crashed and you feel like there is nothing to hold onto? Ask Jesus to stand with you on your bridge. He is the calm the storm.

Where you caught in a summer storm? What did you do? I’ll tell  you how my family responded to this storm in my next post. It’s a night we won’t forget!

The next time a summer storm comes out of nowhere, don’t forget to dance in the rain.

Just a little update

Summer is here and we are enjoying the outdoors before it gets sweltering here in Texas! The numbers are creeping higher but we are still enjoying our time outdoors. Next week my husband is taking two of our kids camping. The temps will be nearing 100. Have fun, y’all! I’ll be inside enjoying AC! 

We are doing summer school this summer. I think time off from the strict school schedule is important, but not as important as keeping facts fresh and reading levels up. And I need to confess, we did fall behind in the higher level maths and sciences, so the girls are working hard to complete their courses. Our focus this summer is also on writing. The girls keep a journal daily, creative writing weekly and we just started the research paper process. 

Speaking of writing, I am still working on Reflecting Him: Student Edition for Reflective Life Ministries. My goal is to complete it by the end of July. For the next three nights, our church is doing a family VBS – Supersonic. Fun for the whole family! I am so excited about this program! My favorite part – bridging families together as we worship, learn, and pray together. (I’m also a bit proud of the family huddles… ) 

If you enjoyed the family huddles at Supersonic, that’s what I’m doing in my abundance of free time – writing family devotions. Stay tuned, I’ll be posting one a month on here for you guys to enjoy. 

On a more personal note, I’m learning lots this summer about food allergies. I’ve known for years that I have an allergy to corn, but it didn’t seem to bother me much. A few months ago, I started feeling bad- extremely tired and enough sinus pressure to feel like a sinus infection that wouldn’t go away topped off with stomach issues and the cherry on top was an increase in my level of irritability. I finally linked it to food. My eating habits have changed drastically. No corn or chicken. Did you know corn is in everything??? Not only is it dusted on coffee filters, and used in food packaging, it is also in everything from salt (added iodine) and anything enriched (flours and rice) to fructose and dextrose and lots of those other unpronounceable words. Just for fun, I’m also staying away from most dairy. It’s been quite a challenge!

My niece, Jordan Mouton, has qualified for London Paralympics – Opening Ceremony August 29, 2012. She has such an amazing, inspirational story. Please go to her Blog/Webpage – read all about her – and consider supporting her on her “Road to London”. She is an amazing young lady!
www.teamjordan2012.wordpress.com

That’s my update! What’s going on in your world?

The Eleanor Series

A few weeks ago, I read Mary Elizabeth, Welcome to America. As a mom, I want all of my kids to read this book! The end of the book has activities to pull the history of America into activities for today. As a homeschool mom, I will be using these books in our homeschool program! My favorite aspect of this book is that it bridges yesterday to today and strengthens a family. Read books together – build bridges! 

The Eleanor Series

Eleanor Clark, author

eclark@windstream.net

www.eleanorseries.com

 

Leaving a Legacy for Your Children

People from north to south, east to west are celebrating the summer months in a variety of ways: leisurely days at the neighborhood swimming pool, a family vacation to the beach, camping out with loved ones. In the midst of this fun season, don’t forget to give your kids the very best sort of vacation—the kind they can take in their imagination!

Today I’m interviewing octogenarian, Eleanor Clark, a vibrant woman in her golden years who has written a lovely series of books for girls called The Eleanor Series. The books released a few years back in hardback, but she’s in the process of putting them out as e-books. Exciting news for parents on the lookout for great literature for their kids!

Eleanor, welcome! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Perhaps I should start by telling you that I just celebrated a very important birthday—my 80th! And yes, I’m still very active! I’ve spent years researching my family’s lineage. After discovering some exciting stories, I decided to write them down in The Eleanor Series. I spend every day telling others about my books and sharing my love of faith, patriotism and godly character. What a wonderful life I lead!

So, the stories in this series are based on real-life experiences?

Yes, loosely based, anyway! I’ve fictionalized several very real stories, going back to my 8x great-grandmother! My family instilled a wonderful legacy in me and I want to pass that on to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and to all of my readers, as well.

Can you tell us about the book you’re featuring today?

Today I’m featuring the first book in the series: Mary Elizabeth, Welcome to America. I’m so tickled to announce that this book is now available in e-book form! I’ve waited for this day for some time, so I’m very excited. Here’s a little tidbit about the story: Mary Elizabeth’s life undergoes a dramatic change when she leaves the only home she has known for another world far away in a place called America. The journey aboard the ship not only teaches her about perseverance but also that making a home in a new world has its share of challenges. Join Mary Elizabeth as she lives one of the greatest adventures of a lifetime and learns the importance of family and the value of perseverance.

 

So this book is already out in print?

Yes, the entire series released in hardback a few years back. Hardback copies are still available. All seven books are available at Amazon.com or by contacting me through my website.

 

Will the other books in The Eleanor Series release as e-books as well?

Yes, and I’m so excited about the adventure ahead! The books will release one per month over the next six months with the final story, a Christmas story, releasing in early December. Here’s a list of the titles and release dates:

  • Mary Elizabeth: Welcome to America (June 15th )
  • Victoria Grace: Courageous Patriot (July 15th)
  • Katie Sue: Heading West (August 15th)
  • Sarah Jane: Liberty’s Torch (September 15th)
  • Eleanor Jo: The Farmer’s Daughter (October 15th)
  • Melanie Ann: A Legacy of Love (November 15th)
  • Eleanor Jo: A Christmas to Remember (December 1st)

What sets these books apart from the American Girls series?

The American Girls series is a wonderful collection for girls, but my stories have something those books do not: faith elements. The salvation message is evident in every story, as well as a deep love of God and country. Not only will children get a comprehensive history lesson through the exciting stories, they will also receive a greater understanding of the role their faith plays in modern-day life.

I seen the book is intended for girls. What about my son? Well he enjoy it too?

I’m thrilled to report that some of the series’ biggest fans are boys! And adults, too. I’ve been tickled to see people young and old, male and female, enjoy these stories. Here’s what one reader had to say: We purchased four of the Eleanor Jo books for Christmas gifts for little girls on our list and after reading the book, we intend to order several more. We will be proud to give this book to any young children. We began reading the book, just to review the content and could not put it down. (Ella & David Lott, A reviewer, 11/07/2006)

How do I order a copy of the book?

Mary Elizabeth, Welcome to America is immediately available on kindle or in hardback (through my website).

What are you offering my bloggers today?

One lucky person will have an opportunity to win a hardback copy of Mary Elizabeth welcome to America when they leave a comment at the end of this blog!

You’ve been a delight to interview, Eleanor! How can we stay in touch with you?

Thank you so much for having me! Readers can reach me at:

My website: www.eleanorseries.com

My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/eleanor.clark.50

My Eleanor Series facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheEleanorSeries

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Eleanor_Clark

Friends, please check out Eleanor’s series. I think you’ll love it. The Eleanor Series will be a wonderful addition to any library. It will also inspire parents and grandparents to research their family’s history. So, this summer, as you’re setting your sites to the school year ahead. . .take a moment to look back at where you’ve come from. Then, be prepared to leave behind a legacy of love!

About the Author:

Eleanor Clark lives in central Texas. She is the matriarch of the family that includes 5 children, 17 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren. Born the daughter of a Texas sharecropper and a child during the Great Depression, Eleanor was a female pioneer in crossing economic, gender, educational, and corporate barriers. Eleanor was an executive for one of American’s most prestigious corporations and founded her own highly successful consulting firm. The appreciation of her American and Christian heritage comes to life along with her exciting and colorful family history in the youth fiction series, The Eleanor Series.

About the series:

There are seven books in the series that highlight the lives of young girls throughout American history. The stories are based on the true-life accounts of author Eleanor Clark’s family history. Each book focuses on a particular character trait and is laced with the pioneering spirit of one of Eleanor’s true-to-life family members. Twenty-first century readers are sure to relate to these amazing, character-building stories while learning Christian values and American history. Modern parents will be blessed as their children learn countless lessons from the pages of each book in the series.

Seven Sanity Savers for Summer

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime! It’s here! Although we LOVE summertime, there are a few parts about summer we dread. Here in Texas it’s the heat. For mom’s everywhere, we dread the blahs, the bickering, and the “I’m bored!!!” whining. This post is for all moms, with a shout-out to those moms clinging to their sanity and counting the days until school starts again.

1. Schedule and Non-schedule

Some kids thrive on a schedule and feel safe when they know what to expect. These are also the kids who tend to freak out a little if a schedule changes and they don’t have enough warning to mentally prepare. If you have one of these, keep a schedule, or have them make one. It can be as simple as

  • sleep late
  • wake up
  • brush teeth
  • eat breakfast
  • watch tv and swim…

Or laid back:

  • Mondays – library
  • Tuesdays – swim lessons
  • Wednesdays – Church night…

Other kids feel oppressed by a schedule. They have one all day at school and their minds need a break. A non-schedule works for them. Don’t keep one. If  you are the one that thrives on a schedule, keep it, but have room for flexibility and don’t post it if they don’t ask for it.

2. Success Chores and Serving

While kids are in school, they have lots of opportunities to complete assignments and feel good about accomplishments. During summer, they still need to feel accomplished. Chores and serving others are great ways to foster that responsibility and to avoid the mentality of summer laziness. (I’m ALL for having lazy summer days, but when the days stretch into weeks, it’s that much harder to snap the kids out of.) I’m a huge proponent of kids having chores – weekly and daily, so summer chores is a must at our house! Does anyone else notice that the more kids are at home, the more of a mess the house is? Summer is the BEST time to teach and enforce chores. Remember – praise, praise, praise, and thank your kids for a job well done! (or even an A for effort!)

3. School 

Yes. I said school. We have always done “summer school” with our kids, even before we homeschooled. The best part is that you don’t even have to tell them you are doing schoolwork! (Here is where I spare you the lecture of how easily children forget facts or slip back a reading level or two when they don’t practice skills…)

  • Pick a book to read together, out loud as a family.
  • Practice math facts.
  • Grow a garden.
  • Do crazy, messy science experiments!
  • Make a family scrapbook about your summer adventures. Have them write it as a story!
  • What did your child struggle with during the year? Find on-line sites to help you know how to reinforce those concepts.
  • And don’t forget about computer games! There are tons of free educational sites that will keep their minds sharp and they won’t even realize it’s school!

4. Safety

There’s nothing like trying to go through a summer with a cast… Remember the safety rules! Brush up on water safety tips and please make sure your kids wear helmets!

5. Saturate and Sleep

Saturate your senses with water. On the outside and the inside! Have fun at the pool – stay saturated with the cool pool water and stay saturated with sunscreen!

Saturate your soul with water. Find a special Bible study to do with the kids during the summer. If you can’t find one, just pick a book of the Bible to read.

Saturate – don’t dehydrate! It is so easy to forget to drink water when the kids are outside playing. I am learning more and more about how important it is to stay hydrated. If your child complains of headaches or dizziness, have them slowly drink a glass of water and follow-up with water during the day. Tip: Children should drink 1/2 their body weight in ounces of water. My 50 pound child should drink 25 ounces of water a day. I add extra water when they are outside sweating.

Saturate with sleep! Kids need 10 – 12 hours of sleep and teens need 8 – 10.  If you do not adhere to an early bedtime during the summer, allow them to sleep in! Many kids have growth spurts during the summer because they don’t have the pressure of school and usually get extra sleep. One time an eye doctor told me when we had eye exams the first week of summer, to check their eyes at the end of the summer because when children go through growth spurts, their eyes can change prescriptions.

6. Save TV Time

It’s easy to let the kids turn the TV on and stare at it for hours on end. I’m guilty of it myself. If you limit TV time, they are more likely to do chores, schoolwork, or play outside. Here, in Texas, we have many days that are just too hot to stay out for very long. On those days, we save TV for the hot hours of the day. If we don’t turn the TV on in the morning, chores and schoolwork are done quickly leaving time to play outside before it gets too hot. Other days, we read inside together during the hot hours, then follow book time with a TV show.

7. Slip Away

When you’ve enjoyed your kids for hours longer than you are accustomed to having them around and feel like you are going to explode if you hear “She’s bothering me” or “I’m bored!” one more time… slip away. Find a friend to switch kids with (I often find my kids stay out of each other’s hair when there is another child in the mix) or find a sitter and give yourself some “me” time!

Speaking of slipping… I am going to slip one more sanity saver in here. Seriously not serious. The only thing you should take seriously this summer is not being too serious and having fun!

What are YOUR summer sanity savers?

Say YES!

Last week I gave tips about saying NO to your kids. In order to not sound like a negative Nelly, I am following that post with this one on saying YES to your kids.

Times to say YES:

Kisses, hugs, cuddles, love

Things your child needs to feel safe

Playing together, even when it’s rowdy

Prayer time

Reading books

Pillow stepping stones, forts out of blankets, and skating in socks

Dressing themselves, even if it doesn’t match. Yes… even if it really doesn’t match.

Special treats for no reason

Arts and crafts

Science Experiments – the messier the better!

Bug habitats, unless it’s a pocket…

Silly songs and secret whispers

Beauty Parlor around the kitchen table with painted toenails, creamy facials, and even a tad bit of make up!

PJ parties and movies with popcorn

Sleeping in and cake for breakfast!

Did I mention hugs, kisses, cuddles, and love?

Just as saying NO is important to the training of a child, saying YES is important to a sense of security and creating special memories. I know this list could go on and on. What are your favorite things to say YES to? Let’s keep the list going in the comments!

John 15: 9 – 13 (NIRV)

Just as the Father has loved me, I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. In the same way, I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy will be in you. I also want your joy to be complete. “Here is my command. Love each other, just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends.”

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