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Library Day (Hip-Hip-Hooray)

“You can find magic wherever you look.  

Sit back and relax all you need is a book!”  – Dr. Seuss

I wrote a song for my kids for Library Day. It started out with them rolling their eyes and has turned into the first thing they hum when they open their eyes on Thursday mornings (well maybe not quite that extreme).

It’s Library Day, Hip-Hip-Hooray! So let’s get on our way! Cuz it’s library day, every Thursday! 

Then I generally add a tag of “having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card!”

PLEASE tell me you know that Arthur song from the mid nineties?

Yep, I’m a coooooool mom.

IMG_9458In preparation for library day tomorrow (and to inform you that these gems will be coming to our local library if you’re from around my town), I’m going to share our four favourites from this last week.

Choosing four is hard. We take out an average of 40 books a week, so this is really narrowing it down!

You’ll be able to tell we’ve learning about the ocean the last couple of weeks, but themes like responsibility and geographical locations like New England have also been at the fore front.

IMG_9633

1. The Specific Ocean – By Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Katty Maurey
This book threw me off at first because the little girl didn’t want to leave the city and go to ocean. What!? This confused my inner beach child who was practically raised at the Pacific Ocean until we moved to the prairies when I was thirteen. I soon realized my own kids were skeptical of the wonders of the ocean, having never experienced it themselves. As we see the girl embrace the ocean and grieve having to go home, we see the beauty in trying new things and letting go.

2. The Boy and the Ocean – By Max Lucado, Illustrated by J. Lively Huharty
This is a beautiful story of a boy beginning to understand how vast God’s love is for him as he stares at the immensity of the ocean. With his parents by his side, he catches a glimpse of the massive and unmeasurable love of God.

3. Nanette’s Baguette’s – Words & Pictures by Mo Willems
This was a big time favourite for us! This unique rhyme exposed us to a more words ending in -ette than I could have imagined! Nanette’s experience also opens the door to a great conversation with children’s about responsibility and owning up to their mistakes. It was also a good reminder to me as a mom about how intense it is to tell your parents the truth when you know you could get in trouble and to extend some great grace to these little people!

4. One Morning in Maine – Words & Pictures by Robert McCloskey
Set by the sea in Maine we meet a sweet little girl named Sal who has a loose tooth. This was a timely story for us as my oldest just lost his third tooth, but first top tooth. IMG_9437McCloskey’s beautiful charcoal drawings keep my kids enthralled and the interesting details, like their boat ride for groceries, keeps everyone engaged. This is our third Robert McCloskey book and we are officially big fans of his! My five year old daughter felt it was important that I note that this book is a winner of the Caldecott Honour. She loves reading books that have won awards! This story inspired us to have clam chowder, a first for my kiddos, who all loved it!

 

All of these books can be ordered through the library! A few clicks and you can pick them up and take them home to enjoy as a family or with a child in your life!

What books are your kids enjoying?

Happy Reading,

Monica

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A Yes That Remains

Soup bubbled on the stove. Butter, sugar and eggs waited in a mixing bowl to become cookie dough and veggies sat on the cutting board.

The minutes ticked away until Andrew would walk in the door. I felt ahead of the game that night. The house was only a category one of disasters, much less than most evenings. The kids were relatively content.

I glanced at my phone and saw the big scary word “UNKNOWN” as it rang silently.

Everything was on schedule and I didn’t want to ruin it. I stared for a moment. My normal “just leave it” inclination vanished and I quickly answered before the caller hung up.

On the other end of the line was a voice so familiar and yet different.

“Would you and your husband please come and adopt my baby?”

My heart pounded something fierce. So opposite to the first time this happened when tears spilled down my face and joy exploded and there was no way my answer would be no.

In the days that have followed I have had to do many difficult things. I’ve had to reopen my heart and remind myself of the promises I’ve made to God that are not at all dependent on my circumstances.

The sting of defeat felt all to real again. My mind told me I know better than to do this privately.

And in the midst of doing many hard things faithfully day after day, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit whisper something of great importance. Something that I feel with great urgency to pass along to you.

a brave yes that's painfully familiar

Your brave yes is not always found in the adventure or first time experiences. Your brave yes will often be found in the known, perhaps memorized and the painfully familiar. It’s a yes that still shows up when you’ve been hurt. That tries again when you’ve faced defeat. It’s a yes that remains even when everything within you wants to scream a fear filled no 

This kind of brave yes is a call to remind ourselves of the Apostle Paul’s encouragement:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9 NIV

And to dig down deep when we are hurt and feed our soul with the truth of this verse:

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”

Romans 12:9a NLT

It’s a reminder that those who have gone before us have lived a life that cost them much and so we have the freedom that we do:

“They make firm commitments and follow through, even at great cost.” Psalm 15:4b TPT

You just might have been looking for the next big step of faith and it hasn’t come because there is a big breakthrough waiting for you on the other side of faithfulness.

Or perhaps you were obedient to the step of faith and it didn’t work out the way you hoped, but the real test of faith is in the will you try again?

You could be asked to forgive when all your want to do is hold on.

You may be discontent in your marriage and all you want to do is quit but this is your moment of yes to see it through to victory.

You may be hurt and want to recoil but brave love says communicate.

You may be fighting to stay consistent in your parenting, wanting to give in, and this is your chance to sow deeply into the lives of the ones you’ve been entrusted with, even when it’s unimaginably hard.

A brave yes will rarely be glamorous and exciting, even when others may think it is from the outside. You know that blood, sweat, and tears accompany anything worth fighting for. You won’t feel like Wonder Woman blocking arrows as you head across the battlefield.

But these days are important.

This yes matters.

Stay the course. I can feel that a big victory is coming.

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Can I save you some time? (Here’s some books you can order from the library and read with your kids!)

IMG_9070Reading has always been a big part of my life and a part of our little family. My own parents instilled a love of reading through many different ways. I remember laying on my mom’s bed in the afternoon while she read a book like “Milly Molly Mandy” out-loud to us. Or in the evening reading the Little House On The Prairie series or a classic like Wind in the Willows as a family before bed.

Those were some of my most favourite memories and my absolute favourite part about being homeschooled as a child. We devoured books. A good story was guaranteed to spark the imagination of four young girls ready to act out an adventure.

As much as reading was a priority with my own kids, last year I felt time was always against me. Getting to the library was challenging with my work schedule and reading the same old books became boring and our stories were relegated to the few the kids pressured me to read in the mornings and then at bedtime.

For me this became a red flag that my life has too full and I needed more margin. But that’s not what I’m here to write about today (I will leave that for another time!).

Now that I’m homeschooling I read an absolutely ridiculous amount of books with my children, and I love every moment of it because I have dedicated a good amount of time to choosing great books. IMG_8807

But truthfully, it’s quite time-consuming.

I was thinking today that it might be nice for some of you busy parents to see my favourites from each week so that I can save you some time and you can go straight your local library and pick them out. No sense both of us spending a crazy amount of time on it!?

This isn’t just for parents. I’ve met a grandparents who pick out books from the library to read with their grandchildren at home and my own sister always gives my kids a story with a special note on the inside cover. Reading is a great way for anyone to form a special bond with a child in their life!

Here’s my tip to save time at the library: I order all of my books online. We still go to the library once a week but I find that it frees me up to be present to read to the kids, help them start an activity or keep my youngest entertained so that the older two get the amount of time there that they really want. Or if we can’t make it, I’m still guaranteed to have new recruits coming in every Friday morning!

Our family has fallen in love with old stories. They are completely unpredictable and sometimes the oddest things happen! But they never fail to pull at our hearts, teach us a lesson and make us laugh.

Now that my daughter is flying through “Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons” and I suddenly almost have a second reader on my hands, I want to continue to prioritize cultivating a love of reading more than anything. Not just so they will read great stories all the time, which does have value, but because they will be more apt to enjoy learning when the struggle of whether or not they want to read is out of the way. IMG_8957

And if I’m completely honest, the chances of them reading their bibles of their own accord and seeking out meaningful devotion books are much higher when they are confident readers. Even in something as basic as reading, we are sowing into their spiritual lives.img_9299.jpg

So who’s willing to say if they are interested in this? Would you like to hear what books we are reading every week and you can skip the research phase, order the books in a click and pick them up between hockey and dance? Let me know in the comments if you think this will be helpful to you!

Here are my favourite five from last week (and number one will be from today because it was just that good!).

  1. Kermit the Hermit, By Bill Peet
    A crusty old crab goes to great lengths to bless the boy who saved his life from a dog. I had to choke back tears at the end of this one! kermit the hermit
  2. Apple Pie For Dinner, retold by Susan VanHecke
    Granny Smith wants to make a pie but all she has is plums! This story tells beautifully that by giving generously of what you have, what you need will come to you. (note: This went along beautifully with our Five In A Row book “How To Make An Apple Pie and See The World”, if you happen to be interested in the material we are using.)
    apple pie for dinner
  3. Nora’s Ark, By Natalie Kinsey-Warnock 
    In the Vermont Flood of 1927 a family opens their home to a variety of people and creatures and learn the ones you love are more important any thing, or flooring.
    Nora's Ark
  4. Follow that map, By Scot Ritchie
    A fun and engaging way to learn basic map skills that includes an interactive story where you help find the children’s lost puppy!
    follow that map
  5.  Mousetronaut, by Mark Kelly 
    A tiny mouse gets to go to space, and just might save the mission! We are currently reading as many inspiring and exciting stories about space as we can right now as my daughter is very eager to become an astronaut!
    Mousetronaught

Maybe you can save ME some time! What books are your kids loving?

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Through the portal.

This one is going to sound a little sci-fi esque to some of you, but it’s been sitting in my heart for a while.

I’ve heard the common verse about “in your weakness God’s strength is made perfect”, many times and honestly I’ve never really grasped the full magnitude of what it meant. I found it comforting that he would work through my weakness, but I really didn’t get the power of it.

That is until I read this verse in the Passion Translation and the word portal was used.

So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:10

I instantly saw a picture of a person standing in an empty room. It was dimly lit and I could tell they were confused, broken and unsure where to go next. Where they were in that moment, was nothing. Looking at them with human eyes you would see they had no prospect of anything because there was simply nothing.

I could not see any doors or windows so the chance of rescue from their place seemed unlikely. As I watched I saw the person bravely open their hands. It wasn’t a big gesture, nor did they do it with a lot of expression. It was like a last resort, the very beginning of surrender.

Suddenly there was a zap of blue light and the person was sucked up through a portal that opened up on top of the ceiling where the blue light had flooded in.

The person was gone. The picture I was seeing zoomed out. I saw a multi layer complex, we could call it “life’s problems.”

I could now see that where the person had been standing was, as I was described, an empty room of weakness. This is the room where brave is not felt, fear runs wild and it looks to the naked eye like there is no way of escape. All seems lost. Your circumstances seem hopeless.

But from my vantage point I could see that the person, in their beginning moment of surrender in the middle of their weaknesses, had been translated up to the next level and they were standing in the place of the supernatural strength of Jesus Christ.

That place of weakness because a portal, a doorway, a entry point, to God’s great strength.

Weakness Becomes A Portal

They stood in the confidence of bright and vivid colours while the King was on his great white horse and an army moved out to begin the battle. The person simply stood, strong and secure beside the great King.

Below that level of weakness was just simply normal life where we can wonder at times whether we live in our strength or God’s strength and we don’t always see with such clarity. There can be a lot a of gray.

But standing in the room of weakness, there is no confusion. Without God, we are nothing. But in the tiniest act of surrender, God’s strength was able to rush in like a flooding light and lift the person up to the next level of victory.

I felt him whisper:

Don’t fear your weakness. I’m breaking through. I’m taking you higher. You will see my power like never before.

This was such a vivid encounter I decided I wanted to try pressing into the portal of power.

A opportunity to stand in my weakness came soon enough.

A tantrum. A freak out. A moment where I wondered how I could mother for another moment. My confidence zapped by a debilitating encounter with the anger of a child.

I put the child in their room and stood in the hallway.

I whispered weakly:

Lord, I know there is a next level of strength available. I don’t know what to do here. I’m really weak at being a calm and collected mom. I need your strength, power and solutions.

I closed my eyes and waited to enter into the portal where there would be a trading of my weakness for the strength of Jesus.

I didn’t try to do anything in that moment. I breathed in the Holy Spirit and I waited.

Suddenly the wisdom came. I knew what I needed to do. I prayed with authority that confusion would leave my relationship with my child and that we would be able to move forward in understanding.

In that moment I knew I had moved from my weakness to God’s strength.

Everything changed in that moment. The situation was dealt with in minutes rather than the hours these tantrums would escalate into.

The trouble for me is, I don’t always recognize when I’m trying to operate out of my human weakness instead of my super-powered-Christ-strength.

And when I do realize I’m acting out of weakness, I’m not always humble enough to stop and go through the portal to the next level of supernatural living.

But as I saw in the picture, God is just waiting for us to open our hands a little. When we give him even the smallest invitation, he is coming like a flash of lightning to lift you higher. And without weakness, we wouldn’t get to experience the full glory of his strength.

He wants to strengthen you. He knows that in todays’ world we need that instant access to a way of life that blows away hopelessness, despair and apathy.

He is calling us to come up higher. To a place where strength, wisdom, courage and power are given for second guessing, trembling hands, and empty threats.

I need this kind of life. It’s not a life where everything is always resolved quickly, but it is a life where we stand in strength and let go of that feeling of never being good enough for the battle. Because the battle is not ours. It is the Lord’s. And all you have to do is take the first step of surrender.

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