Bank Field Trip

Yesterday we toured the First Community Credit Union with our homeschool co-op. The woman in charge of education has been teaching weekly at our co-op and Gabe has learned so much!

We got to look at the coin counting machine, which was really neat. She opened it up for the kids and they saw how the coins are counted and where they end up.

Next, we headed back to the drive-thru. We watched as a customer came in and made a deposit. The kids took turns sending stuff through the tubes.

Then we headed back to the vault. The manager even opened the vault and showed the kiddos what they store in there. She showed them the differences between a stack of old $100 bills and a stack of new. Then, they showed us all of the safety features of the bill and we talked about counterfeiting for a bit.

Next, we stood behind the tellers as another customer came it to withdraw money. They have nifty machines that dispense the money and they have to triple-count all the cash they handle and keep track of every penny.

Before we left, they gave the kids free goody bags and some popcorn. Each child received a $1 coin.

Everyone was so friendly and kind and they didn’t blink twice when the kids got excited and maybe, perhaps, a bit too loud.

After the tour, we all headed over to a nearby park and had lunch. The teacher sent the kids on a nature scavenger hunt while the moms sat and chatted.

I wasn’t sure about the co-op when we signed up. Homeschool groups can be clicky. Most people are friendly, but they don’t want to be your friend, if that makes sense. They are usually very busy and have their little circle already and just don’t have the time/energy for anyone else. As an introvert I get that, but it can be really frustrating as an outsider trying to get in.

This group has been very open and welcoming – probably because this is only their second year and everyone is sort of finding their way/place. Luke’s already hit it off with some of the kids his age and I have high hopes for him really establishing some friendships.

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Broken Together

What do you think about when you look at me
I know we’re not the fairy tale you dreamed we’d be
You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand
And we dove into a mystery

How I wish we could go back to simpler times
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light
Now on this hallowed ground, we’ve drawn the battle lines
Will we make it through the night?

It’s going to take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

How it must have been so lonely by my side
We were building kingdoms and chasing dreams and left love behind
I’m praying God will help our broken hearts align
And we won’t give up the fight

It’s going to take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

Broken Together by Casting Crowns


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Lack and Lavish

Yesterday was the last class for Making Peace with Your Past. I cannot recommend this workbook enough and I know God placed this class in my life at just the right time and for just the right reasons.

Every unit was full of good insight, but some resonated more than others. Early on, one of the units made me take a good, hard look at what I’d lost as a child. I was aware of everything that had happened to me and what I’d been through, but I didn’t really think of some of the other things.

For instance, the lack of attention or nurturing. The lack of authentic connection. The lack of feeling I was truly known and loved and accepted for who I was. Even “little” things like not feeling like we had enough food or enough clothes. Lack, lack and more lack.

Up until this study, I hadn’t been honest about all of those things and how they impacted me and influenced me even to this day.

But God is faithful. The Bible says that when we reach out to him he’s there. He moves in close. And that’s what he did. As I focused more on him and who he is and what he’s capable of I was in awe.

A man at our church said something last week that spoke to me. He said, “If you focus on your problems, you’re only ever going to have problems.” He went on to say that you instead have to focus on the character of God and the person of Christ.

I’ve learned that overcoming your past (or sin or hurt or whatever) is a mix of honestly and wholly digging into your past to face all of those fears and hurts AND, at the same time, focusing on God and what he’s done for you through Christ. It has to be both.

After doing that here’s my conclusion:

Much of my life has been centered around lack. I lacked much. I lacked many things that are lovely and necessary and needed for growth and maturity and identity. And when I spread those all out and look at them it can bring me to my knees. It’s overwhelming. It seems like too much to overcome.

It can bring me to a place where my view of God is distorted. I picture him breaking off a small piece of dry, moldy, wormy bread, shoving it on the end of a stick, and poking it through the bars at me, grudgingly.


I can look at the truth of his Word which tells me:

That through him I am more than a conqueror.

I can overflow with hope.

I can have abundant life.

I have access to a glorious inheritance, incomparably great power, mighty strength, glorious riches, glorious might, and great and precious promises.

I am a dearly loved child of a God who is rich in mercy.

Just to name a few.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:17-21


In short, my God, the God who loves me and draws me close and longs to have a relationship with me lacks nothing. He isn’t constrained by anything. He doesn’t get stretched thin. He doesn’t grow weary. He can’t be exhausted. He isn’t weak or stingy. He is more than able  – and willing – to clean and mend every wound. To pour into me what was lost. To restore all that was taken.

And more.

He lavishes his riches upon me and readily and lovingly so.

My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19


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In This Storm

In this storm I could drown. I could let go and just sink into the darkness. But sometimes it takes a storm to drive a ship to land. Sometimes the force is so great that the ship is lost and we are all that remains. Facedown, gasping, battered and bruised. We don’t have to like how we got here. But at least we’ve arrived.


My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all
He is Lord
Lord of all

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.

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My Thoughts On: The Flumist Controversy and Why It Matters

I thought it was highly interesting that the Flumist was pulled for this flu season because it’s not effective. These decisions always stand out to me (as it should for anyone) because we’ve been told forever that Flumist is just as effective as the flu shot. So….how does it magically go from “just as effective” to “not-effective-at-all-and-it-hasn’t-been-effective-for-three-seasons-now?” Inquiring minds want to know!

I thought this article was very interesting and wanted to share a few things that stood out to me.

Now, findings from a Canadian study appear at first blush to contradict the research that led the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to recommend against that live attenuated vaccine.

Hmm, so right off the bat we can see that even pro-vaxxers (and experts in their field nontheless)  cannot agree on whether or not Flumist is effective. Some research shows it’s ineffective, some shows that it is still effective. If you read the whole article you can see that they compare data from several studies and they just aren’t sure.

The very next paragraph, emphasis mine:

But things aren’t so simple. In fact, the conflicting evidence about the live nasal flu vaccine offers an excellent case study on how complex the task of analyzing flu vaccine data and making recommendations really is.

Complex you say? But I thought the science behind vaccines was rock-solid and iron-clad. That’s why people aren’t allowed to question them and why our country is pushing full-force to make vaccines mandatory. Huh.

“Sometimes the public wants a very simple message, and unfortunately life’s not like that,” Mark Loeb, the new study’s lead author and director of the division of infectious diseases at McMaster University in Ontario, tells Shots. “Things change as the evidence grows and we understand more. Unfortunately, that’s how science and clinical medicine work. The challenge is to be able to help the public understand the shades of gray here.

“The PUBLIC wants a very simple message”??? What? No, I’m sorry, sir, you’ve misunderstood. The public wants the truth – even if they don’t know it. It’s the pharmaceutical companies that want to oversimplify these things so they can force us into compliance. Helping the public “understand the shades of gray” wouldn’t be that hard. Some of us have figured it out even though we have vast amounts of propaganda and ridicule and misinformation to slog through. The problem is that Big Pharma does NOT want people to understand or recognize that there are any shades of gray. They want it black and white because that’s what garners them the most money. Period.

You can’t make sweeping judgments on people based on “shades of gray.” You can’t make laws mandating health decisions based on “shades of gray.” You can’t spout pro-nazi directives about throwing non-compliant people in concentration camps based on “shades of gray.” Americans are increasingly stupid, but we’re not there yet.

“Many of us felt very strongly that the [live attenuated influenza vaccine] was a better vaccine than the inactivated for children, and the data supported that,” says Pedro Piedra, a professor of virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the investigators involved in the nasal vaccine clinical trials in the late 1980s. “But something happened when it became a quadrivalent vaccine.”

So here’s another expert, a professor of virology and microbiology and an investigator and he says “something” happened when they added a new strain. Something. What? What something? I mean, you study this for a living. This is your career and has been for many years. Are you admitting that you don’t know everything there is to know about vaccines and the human immune system?


For one thing, comparing the trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines is like “comparing oranges and tangerines,” says Kawsar R. Talaat, an assistant scientist at the Center For Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In fact, comparing any two flu vaccines involves a “quagmire of issues,” partly because every year, vaccines act a little differently, Talaat tells Shots.

What? A quagmire you say? Again, what happened to rock-solid?


Several phenomena may contribute to the incongruity in the data. Going from the trivalent to the quadrivalent vaccines, for example, could have introduced more vaccine interference. Each vaccine strain competes to infect enough cells so that the virus can replicate and induce an immune response in those cells. More strains means more competition among the strains to infect cells, so multistrain flu vaccines include higher doses of each virus.

So more isn’t always more, if this is indeed true.


Another factor could be that U.S. children have been vaccinated regularly enough since the first universal flu vaccine recommendation in 2007 that they’ve built up an underlying immunity. That underlying immunity could interfere with responses to new doses, progressively lessening the vaccine’s apparent effectiveness each year. (This is more likely with live nasal vaccines than with the shot because they induce different types of immune responses.) Bias in the study or other as-yet-unidentified factors could play a role too.

You don’t say.


“What happens is that public health makes a message that’s too simple and the public doesn’t buy it, and that leads to vaccine hesitancy,” Loeb says. Public health officials must therefore balance complexity and accessibility in describing evidence on the flu vaccine.

I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. The reason these “health officials” don’t follow through though is because it puts Big Pharma in between a rock and a hard place. When they admit the fact that there is still so much that they truly don’t know then people realize the truth that the only way they can move forward and keep learning is to use us as lab rats. And people should have a say in whether or not they and their children are used as test subjects. Every time.

And finally:

If the live nasal vaccine isn’t recommended for this flu season, that means the CDC will have far fewer U.S. data next year on the live vaccine’s effectiveness, Tan says. “If the CDC says we’re only to trust the data from the CDC, where’s the data going to come from?”

Haha. Where indeed. I could predict “where” but it wouldn’t be very ladylike or Christian so I’ll leave it up to your imagination.

The reason this article stood out to me is because it stands in stark contrast to the doggedly pro-vaxx who assert that people who don’t vax are ignorant, afraid of science, or are celebrity fan girls. This simply isn’t true. We don’t vax because we are intelligent enough to know that if the top vaccine experts are telling us that they themselves don’t understand what’s going on and that several studies contradict each other then we ARE medical test subjects.  Again, from Mark Loeb,

“Things change as the evidence grows and we understand more. Unfortunately, that’s how science and clinical medicine work.

This is real. This is science. This is medicine.  This is the truth.


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You Can’t Live Beyond What You Believe

I’ve been slowly reading Neil T. Anderson’s book, Victory over the Darkness these past few months. It’s interesting to me, yet not surprising, how often the things I’ve read in this book “just happen” to correspond to what I’m learning in Making Peace with Your Past. Funny how that happens.

Chapter 7 is titled You Can’t Live Beyond What You Believe. 

Wow. Just the title alone!

He starts off with a “faith appraisal.” Next, he points out that feelings are God’s read flag of warning. Then there’s a section where he talks about anger being a signal of a blocked goal, anxiety being a signal of an uncertain goal, and depression being a signal of an impossible goal.

But the part that really stood out to me is where he writes about the differences between a godly goal and a godly desire.

“To live successful lives, we need to distinguish a godly goal from a godly desire…..A godly goal is any specific orientation that reflects God’s purpose for your life and is not dependent on people or circumstances beyond your ability or right to control.”

“A godly desire is any specif result that depends on the cooperation of other people, the success of events or favorable circumstances you have to right or ability to control.”

” The homemaker who wants a happy, harmonious family is expressing a godly desire, but she cannot guarantee that it will happen. Her goal is to become the wife and mother God wants her to be. The only one who can block that goal for her life is herself.”

So, it’s subtle, but such an important shift. A godly desire might look like this; “I want my family to be happy and harmonious. I want us to love and support each other through thick and thin. I want everyone to get along and be cheerful.” That’s not a bad desire! And a wife and mother has a lot of influence in her home and can do a lot to create an environment that makes this possible. But if you’re linking your success and self-worth to that desire then you very well could be in for some major disappointment and depression!

A godly goal shifts the focus to yourself (the only person you can control) and God. It’s a beautiful partnership wherein he does all of the heavy lifting. “Lord, make me the wife and mother that you’ve called me to be. Help me to love you above all else. Give me a burning desire to know and follow your ways. Teach me to love you and be a conduit of your truth, beauty, healing, and love. Holy Spirit guide me in lifting my loved ones up in prayer so that you can demolish every stronghold, heal every broken place, and guide in Spirit and truth.”

He goes on to write,

“It should be obvious by now that God’s basic goal for your life is character development: becoming the person God wants you to be. (1 Thess. 4:3)”


Chapter 8 has more to say on this topic.

“When you base your sense of worth on the success of your own personal plans, your life will be one long, emotional roller-coaster ride. The only way to get off the roller coaster is to walk by faith according to the truth of God’s Word.”

“Your primary job now is to adopt God’s character goals diligently….Focusing on God’s goals will lead to ultimate success.”

In other words, in order to live well and be agents of change, we much change our thinking to reflect his thinking, and our goals must be replaced with his goals.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2



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Random Reads: The Last One, Eligible, and Living Your Strengths

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva was one of those can’t-put-it-down books. The first one in a long while, for me. I’m usually pretty good about being able to guess the ending or who-dunnit, but this one really had me going. It was a bit gruesome in places and intense in others.

It’s about a woman who joins the cast of a Survivor-type reality show. She and the other contestants know that the show’s budget is huge and that there’ll be a twist, but she didn’t see it being like this. She’s suddenly all alone. No other contestants, no host, no more clues. She strikes out on her own and is confronted with staged (?) death scenes. Determined not to quit she presses on. As new developments arise she begins to doubt what is real and what is part of the show. Is this all a game or has everyone she knows died of a mysterious illness?

Read it.


Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I love Jane Austen. I’ve read all of her books and I don’t mind new adaptions (book or film). When my book club chose this modern retelling, I was hoping to really like it. Or at least not hate it.


The one thing I liked is that I think it helps modern readers understand the personality of the characters better. Mr. Bennet’s indifference to…well, basically everyone and everything, Mrs. Bennet’s silly and neurotic nature, and Kitty and Lydia’s truly appalling, immature, and embarrassing behavior.

Other than that, it’s okay for a beach read. Or, if you’re an Austen Fan, just to say you’ve read it. This takes Austenland’s place for “worst adaption.”



Living Your Strengths

Easy read and great if you enjoy taking personality quizzes and discovering your strengths and weaknesses. There was some great info in here and I actually wouldn’t mind owning this book to refer back to now and then. Practical and straightforward.


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First Day and Cookie Bars

Our first real day of school went about as well as can be expected, I suppose.

We started off with Mystery of History. The boys enjoyed that because they like when I do lessons with them. As they get older they do more and more independent work, but it is nice to do some work together.

Both boys did Math. I decided Luke needs to do more with math this year. I told him he could continue Life of Fred, if he wants, but he’s primarily doing Saxon. The first several lessons are review so nothing new there. Gabe is continuing with Life of Fred. Today’s lesson was already difficult for him and he became very negative. “It’s too hard.” I told him that jumping in with a bad attitude was only going to make it harder and encouraged him to put a positive spin on it. He kept grumbling and I hate to admit that I got snippy with him. I reminded him that it’s all about learning. The book is there to teach him and while it may not be easy, it’s not full of trick questions. I reminded him that math is about patterns and that if we took it step-by-step we could figure it out. Which, of course, is exactly what happened.

By this point we needed to break for lunch and get to our chiro appt. After the chiro we drove to my brother’s house to feed and water his cats. Then we picked up some books from the library. The boys were not happy that they still had language arts and chores to do. Ah well, such is life.

This year we’re trying Total Language Plus for LA. It’s supposed to be spelling, grammar, literature, etc, all in one. It’s really not difficult, but Gabe immediately got it in his head that it’s “completely stupid.” He cried and fussed and crabbed for an hour.

I’ve learned with him that fighting or making demands doesn’t work. I just quietly went about making dinner. Finally I went and snuggled him a little bit. I asked him questions and tried to understand what he didn’t like about the curriculum. He kept saying it was stupid and dumb. I told him that it’s a shame that he doesn’t like it, but that he’s older now and he needs to start spending more time and effort on some of these things. I know that’s not what he was hoping for, but it’s true. I’m all for trying to find good fits for the boys when it comes to curriculum, but they aren’t going to love everything and not everything is going to be super easy or simple or fast. That’s just life.

As usual, once he calmed down he did all the work and was finished in about 25 minutes. I’m such a slave-driver.

And finally, tonight I tried these Magic Cookie Bars from Food, Faith, Fitness. I had high hopes, but was disappointed. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that they’re insanely sweet. They are more like a candy. So that’s fine. I’ll cut them into little bitty squares, freeze them, and let the boys have them as a rare treat, but I probably won’t make them again. Or maybe I will. It might be nice to have a “candy” stashed away in the freezer.

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Settling In

Well, we’re home now. And just starting to feel settled.

I’ve decided that, if at all possible, we’ll be taking our vacations in May again. That’s when we took our previous two trips and it worked well as far as weather and beating the crowds. The downside was that Luke was involved in a performance class at Dayspring and they balked at him being gone for two weeks right before performance. I totally understood that and thought moving this vacation to August would work just as well.

The weather was still perfect and the crowds still low, but MAAAAN has it been hard getting back into things. After a May vacation, we would come home and have the whole summer stretched out in front of us. With our August trip it was the opposite. We had to jump right back in with two feet. I may or may not have had an ugly breakdown one day. Not pretty.

Our first week of school was pathetic. It was a short week due to Labor Day, and we got very little done. I had several incomplete Junior Ranger books that the boys finished and we had co-op and music. That was it.

This week I’m actually prepared, though! I moved the rest of the old schoolwork downstairs into storage and I have all my lesson plans completed, printouts ready, folders relabeled, etc.

Let’s do this thing!

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Yellowstone Vacation Day 14: Indian Cave and HOME!

Today we headed home.

First, we took a detour to the much-acclaimed Indian Cave State Park.

Oh, what a disappointing way to end our two weeks.

The park itself is well-maintained and newly paved. There are some interesting features and if you lived nearby you’d probably be very proud of this park.

But for those of us who traveled off the beaten path to get there….well, let’s just say it didn’t live up to the hype.

There were some neat old buildings that have been preserved and outfitted. We couldn’t go inside but we looked in through the windows. There was an old schoolhouse and an old general store, both fully stocked.

Peeking in through the window.

Peeking in through the window.

The old schoolhouse

The old schoolhouse

School Bell

School Bell

Original drinking fountain.

Original drinking fountain.

After driving the length of the park we came to the cave. Unfortunately, many, many people have carved their names and initials into the cliff side. There are petroglyphs there, but they’re nearly impossible to see because of the vandalism.

The cave itself really isn’t much of a cave. It’s more of an indent or hollow in the cliffside. The meager information states that no one ever lived there, but they would take shelter there when passing through.




Steps leading to the cave.


The stairs were more fun than anything else.

On our way out we stopped to browse the old cemetery. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated, but I am. Beautiful headstones.

Old grave. Several members of the same family were buried here.

Old grave. Several members of the same family were buried here.


That was pretty much it for the park!

We were all tired and ready to be home. A late lunch was eaten at a pizza parlor in Lee’s Summit and we made it home just as the sun was setting.

Originally, we’d planned on not getting home until Saturday, but as energy lagged we skipped over and condensed a few things. I can’t say I’m sorry. It was nice to see our kitties and sleep in our own beds.

I’ve enjoyed looking over the Jr. Ranger badges and books that the boys finished and remembering all the things we saw and learned. We enjoyed such beauty. I know many people’s ideal vacations are all about relaxation. And that’s great! But we love seeing new landscapes and natural beauty. There’s so much out there and so little time.

Well the moon moved past Nebraska
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills
And angels danced on Jacob’s stairs
Yeah, they danced on Jacob’s stairs
There is this silence in the Badlands
And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled
By the whisper of a prayer
The whisper of a prayer

And a single hawk bursts into flight
And in the east the whole horizon is in flames
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

I can feel the earth tremble
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves
And the fury in the pheasant’s wings
And there’s fury in a pheasant’s wings
And it tells me the Lord is in His temple
And there is still a faith that can make the mountains move
And a love that can make the heavens ring
And I’ve seen love make heaven ring

Where the sacred rivers meet
Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever ’til you see
What time may never know
What time may never know
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope
To run wild with the hope

The hope that this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in a song not sung in vain
And I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

And I know this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And with the prairies I am calling out Your name

Written by Richard Mullins • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group
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