Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It doesn't slow down! :)

I have had many people comment on how much more time I must have with 4 of the kids going to school. Well...the jury is in and the verdict is....NOT REALLY!:)

Let me clarify,though. While I do not feel like a have a large quantity of extra time, I do feel like the quality of the time I do have is a sweet gift! I do not have 6 children competing for my attention and my help with their schoolwork, I only have 2. So, for instance, when I am reading to the boys I am not thinking, in the back of my head, about the 4 other kids who are waiting for help and needing me. I have realized over the last couple of weeks that I actually LIKE reading to the boys.:) I feel like I can really "be all there" in the moment I am in.

I am very thankful for the the quality of time I am able to devote to the boys...they are learning to read (and one is struggling something fierce) and, as a result, they need help with almost everything they do. So, although the material itself is so much easier than in the higher grades, because of the "not reading" curve, it takes a long time to get through it all each day.

There have been several days already where I have wished they could read and I find myself quick to frustration, impatience, and a raised voice of anger. And, through it all, God is humbling me and teaching me what I already know and yet so quickly forget...I don't sin because of what others do to me or the pressures that are all around me...I sin because I am a sinner and it is already in my heart. God has been reminding me this week that He can use only 2 children just as much as He can use 6 children to draw out what is in my heart so I can see my sin and my utter need to be totally dependent on God at all moments each and every day. Days like today I feel like I will never learn the lesson's God continues to patiently teach me. Yet I know, as I shared before, that He will finish the good work He has begun in my life and that He promises to "blot out (my) transgressions for (His) own sake; and (He) will not remember (my) sins" (Isaiah 43:25)

Praise God that, although life may not slow "down", we can fix our eyes "up" and soar on eagle's wings!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Only one life

Life is a vapor. Each moment that passes is a moment I cannot get back. Each word I say is a word I cannot take back. And I am not guaranteed even my next breath....

....so why do I live as though I have all the moments in the world, as though my hasty words will be quickly forgotten, and my last breath won't be till I am in my 90's?

I think that is why Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 7:2, "It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart."

Life is a vapor. Number my days. Be careful how I walk. Stay far away from careless words. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Rejoice. Give thanks. Pray without ceasing. Teach with kindness. Smile at the minutes, hours, and days to come. Encourage and build up. Don't complain or grumble. Do good.

Those commands are all found in Scripture...yet how often do I take them to heart? How often do I preach them to myself? How often do I examine myself in the light of these truths?

My heart can grow heavy at all the lost moments, the hasty words, the frowns instead of smiles. Did I ruin the moment? the hour? the day? Though I repent, I can't redeem lost time....and my soul can feel downcast.

But one look into the Words that give life and seeds of hope fill my heart. God is the Redeemer of time, hasty words, lost moments, and all the sin in between! He exchanges beauty for ashes. As Ephesians 2:10 says, I am "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that I (we) should walk in them."

Not only does He redeem but ALL His plans for me (and those in my life) will be accomplished. My sin will not win out, God will. My fleshly desires will not prevail, the fruits of the Spirit will! The Christian life is not one of gloom and failure but of joy and victory!!!

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last."

C.T Studd

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

After School Snack...

...or before bed, or in their lunches, or with your coffee, or after lunch.:) Yep...this recipe is THAT good!

No-Bake Energy Bites (we are renaming them "Pichura Bits" in our house!)

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

If you want the website and the fun pictures, click here.

We are not huge coconut fans, so I added a little coconut and the rest rice krispies (though you might need to up the peanut butter a tad if you do that). I also used half ground flaxseed and half wheat germ and threw in some protein powder for good measure!

Quick...go make them fast!!! :)

My dear Grace

Grace is learning more about conflict resolution through hands on experience during recess. She ended up in the middle of a situation trying to play "peacemaker" to both sides. It isn't easy for her sensitive little heart and there were tears last night as we talked it through...but I can also say, it's one of the best things that has happened to her yet in her young life. Why? I'll let a direct quote from her answer that question:

"Mom, I have prayed more today than I have ever prayed in my whole life."

Praise God!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"I wish I had a child like you"

A week into the new school year, you may already be beginning to see expectations you had for your kids fall through or sinful attitudes rear their heads in new ways and create struggles you did not anticipate.

Or maybe its going so well and you have heard stories of other kiddos not doing all that great and you are tempted to boast in your heart at your routine, plans, or the attitude of your child.

Or maybe you have little ones at home and it's been one of the toughest weeks of your life and you just want to pull your hair out!

Either way, the following article was published back in July...but I thought it was so fitting for now!

"As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28)

Whatever this woman meant when she shouted this out, it’s clear that she thought Mary had a sweet deal. You can almost hear in her words, “I wish I had a child like you!”

What, do you suppose, was behind her cry?

Maybe she had agonized over infertility or maybe she grieved the death of a child.

Maybe she was the mother of a disabled child and her cry came out of deep anguish, thinking herself or her child cursed by God (John 9:1).

Or maybe her own child was wayward, breaking her heart and shaming her family with a willful, defiant, destructive life.

Or maybe her children were unexceptional and an envy burned deep inside her against mothers whose remarkable children caused people to remark on how they must be exceptional mothers.

Whatever prompted the cry, Jesus graciously corrected her wrong thinking. She had, like many of us, located the blessing in the wrong place. The evidence of God’s blessing is not in being a parent of an impressive — even a holy — child. The evidence of God’s blessing is believing what God says.

Assessing God’s blessing on us (or others) by what our (or others’) children are like is tricky business. We often get things wrong because God’s purposes can actually be opposite of what they first appear.

Think of the many mothers of brilliant Pharisees and Sadducees. No doubt they were counted blessed by relatives and friends. But Jesus called their children “hypocrites” and “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).

Then think of the man born blind in John 9, before Jesus healed him. I doubt many mothers thought, “I wish I had a child like you.” Or that many women pined to be the mother of Zacchaeus or Mary Magdalene. And what about the mother of Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth? His status, education, and achievements were likely not impressive material for the family newsletter.

Yet God gave these disabled, disobedient, and undistinguished children more important roles in redemptive history than the brightest stars in Jerusalem and Rome.

We must fight the temptation to boast in or covet children. How gifted or successful or even holy they become is no sure evidence of God’s blessing on us. Neither are disabled or disobedient children evidence of God’s disfavor.

God’s blessing rests on the one who “hear[s] the word of God and keeps it.” Belief is the evidence of blessing."
Jon Bloom, Desiring God

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grins, Giggle, and Tears

There have been several things that have happened this past week that have caused both tears, giggles, laughter, happy taste buds, and sweet ponderings. I am going to try to squeeze them all into one post!:)

First of all, if you are looking for a killer French Toast Recipe, look no farther!:) The secret seems to be adding flour to the egg and milk combo...but we have also found that buying the dollar french bread at the grocery store and using it instead of sandwich bread makes it taste restaurant worthy!

Along the lines of food...I have had so much fun listening in on the two boys eating their lunch together. On the first day they opened up their packages of Star Wars fruit snacks (thanks Uncle David and Aunt Michelle) and they must have spent 20 minutes just playing with them and imagining they were fighting battles before even the good guys lost and ended up in the boy's bellies!

But what really had me cracking up was the day they got Cheez-Its with their lunch. I heard Titus say, "Caleb, keep your Cheez-Its...we can use them for communion later." Sure enough, not long after that, Titus said, "And when He had given thanks, He broke the bread and said...". It was all I could do to keep from giggling out loud as I washed dishes and listened.:)

Titus isn't the only one to say things that make me laugh. Caleb has a way of using words or expressions a bit different from the way they were intended to be used...but they leave us giggling, none the less. Yesterday was one of those times. We were at the house of friends from church and the kids were having fun swimming in their pool. We made Titus and Caleb keep their life jackets on. After a while, Caleb got out of the pool, took off his life jacket and asked if he could "go in the pool and see if he could drowned".:) Of course, he meant swim instead of drowned...but I think his reinterpretation of words was actually a bit closer to exactly what WOULD have taken place!:) He caught me off guard, though, and had me laughing!

I also had a couple moments of "near tears" and they both happened this morning. The first was as I stood at the door and waved the kids off to the school bus. It was actually easier on the first day when I left them in their classroom then it was in that moment. A 5 minute walk (without mom) to wait at the bus stop (without mom) was just a bit too much "growing up" for my mommy's heart. Corny? Yep. Real? Yep.

I had some sweet moments of "refocusing" as I sat down with my little men and read to them from the "Jesus Storybook Bible". My eyes filled, my heart was blessed, and the Gospel came alive, yet again, in my own heart as I pray it comes alive in my kiddo's, as well. I know I have mentioned it before, but if you don't own the "Jesus Storybook Bible"...would you go right away and buy it regardless of the ages of your kids?!!!! It's some of the most precious words I have ever read outside of the actual word of God...I am not kidding! But just in case you doubt me...here is a glimpse from the story of Abraham and Isaac that I read today with the boys:

"...a few year later, God asked Abraham to give Him a present. Abraham liked giving presents to God. He gave God his animals. They were called "sacrifices" and they were a way to say "I love you" to God. But this time God didn't want a lamb or a goat, God wanted Abraham to give him something more - much more....

Early the next morning, Abraham and Isaac set off. They climbed the steep, stony trail up the mountain. Isaac carried the wood on his back...

Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on His back. Like Isaac, He would trust His Father and do what His Father asked. He wouldn't struggle or run away. Who was He? God's Son, His only Son - the Son He loved. The Lamb of God."

Friday, September 9, 2011


I have been wanting to write on "perspective" for some time now...every since I went to visit my sister last month. On the flight down, the view out my window was just amazing. There were things I had seen only by car that looked so beautiful from way up high and other sight's that I didn't even realize were there, though often, we were within thirty minutes of them in our driving. There was Crater Lake, other mountain lakes, Mt. Saint Helen, lots of little islands, and a beautiful view of different colors of ocean blue along the coast. Being up so high, I got a different perspective and was that much more amazed.

I couldn't help but think that often, in my own "day to day" life, what I need is simply a new (or right!) perspective. I think Voskamp said it well when she said there are days that she wakes "to the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor's appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect to clean the toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary."

Do you ever feel like that?

Or maybe you can echo the sentiment of a pastor who was asked what his most profound regret in life was. He said, "Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing...Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away."

Ouch...but it is more true of me then I would care to believe.

And, in the midst of it all, it's easy to cry out with Solomon when he says in Ecclesiastes that all is "vanity"! But the reason I want to cry out "vanity" is because many time what I am doing IS in vain because I am doing it in my own power and strength. I am doing it with my glory, comfort, and desires in mind...not "for the glory of God". Instead of seeing my dirty kitchen as an opportunity to serve the Lord and my family and as an opportunity to praise the Lord for all the food that dirtied those dishes and all the little mouths that sit around our table eating it; I see it as "one more thing" that needs to be done, one more thing keeping me from a moment's rest, one more thing that is "vanity" because it will be a mess a few hours later again.

Or take my kids and the constant trail of stuff they leave all over the house. I cannot tell you how much it drives me NUTS!!!! I feel like a slave sometimes...seriously!:) But how often do I just resort to yelling irritated words, demanding immediate clean-up, or letting them know just how much they have disappointed me instead of calmly, and with the mercy and love God shows to me everyday, taking the time to instruct their hearts. To remind them that, in leaving their stuff all over the house, they are being selfish. They are living a life of seeking to "be served" not to serve. And then taking them to the feet of Jesus and helping them to see that if Jesus had come to "be served", He would have never died on the cross. He would have never emptied Himself for us. We would be on our way to hell. But He came "to serve and to give His life a ransom for many", praise God, and we have the amazing blessing of following in His footsteps...and we have all the help we need through the Holy Spirit because Jesus has gone before us!

It's perspective, isn't it?

This week has been wonderful...and exhausting. I don't like seeing a "5" as the first digit on my clock when my alarm goes off :) and bed has been calling my name earlier than it used to at night. Grace told me yesterday that she was so excited when the bell rang because she was so tired and wanted to come home...and then she realized it was just the lunch bell!:) We both had a good giggle about that one!

But as I sat at my desk this morning, a wee bit tired and a wee bit emotional...God gave me a dose of perspective in the form of pictures...pictures of unbelievably bad flooding taking place in Bryan's hometown right now (where his parents and brother and family live). Sure, I may have had a messy kitchen to clean up this morning...but what a gift to HAVE a kitchen that is not flooded and ruined. Sure, I have to get off this computer and get to homeschooling the boys, but what a blessing it is to be able to sit down with them and continue in our routine in our home...and not in a shelter or hotel with no "normalcy" in sight.

Oh, to have a heart that lives in the will of God...that "rejoices always, prays without ceasing, and gives thanks in all circumstances". That my perspective would always be one of thanksgiving...because I know that all that God does is for my good and His indescribable glory!!!

"Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city,the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 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! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Psalm 127

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Principles for School Days and Life

Bryan shared the following with the kids (with a few edits for their age!) the night before school started. I thought there were some great principles in what Jim shared that was worth posting it here for you all to see. It's definitely not something to read once and file away! I'd say it's a laminated keeper!:)

Soon another school year will start and regardless of your schooling choice, both parents and students will come across other children, parents, teachers and staff, who do not know Christ. For this reason, we fortify our children’s faith to defend and arm them for school-yard ministry.

As I proclaim the gospel to my children, I am working to saturate their consciences and build discernment. I use biblical passages and principles to show how God empowers and requires believers to glorify Him. As parents, my wife and I have certain principles that I want my kids to be familiar with, so that they know how to act and respond in any situation at school. This is our way of equipping them to be used by God in the world.

I’m putting these principles here in the hope that parents will take them, and teach them to their kids as well.

1. Love God more than anyone or anything.
If God loves an action, so should you. If He hates an action, so should you.

In Mark 12:30, Jesus told a Jewish scribe that the most important law is love for God: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Teach your children to love God, and to build their lives around this first principle.

2. You are never alone.
Before God, you have no private conversations, texts, emails, notes, eye contact, study sessions, etc. This fact will either be comforting, or fearful, depending upon how you live.

The Psalmist proclaims, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar (Psalm 139:1–2; cf. Philippians 4:8).” Teach your children about the omniscience of God.

3. You are owned by God.
God created the world in six days. He owns the world, and he owns you. We obey him and love him because he lovingly made us, and we are his.

The first verse in the Bible relates the most important Scriptural teaching on our relationship to God: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). Teach your children that they are God’s first and yours second.

4. You are loved by Jesus.
Christ loves you, and paid the penalty for your sin. If you are saved, rest in his love and forgiveness, knowing that he will always love you.

Paul describes God’s love in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Teach your children about the love of God in the death of Christ.

5. Glorify God with your body.
The world is captivated by athletic accomplishments and external appearances, but beauty and strength do not equal holiness. The Holy Spirit indwells all who love Jesus, and so our bodies should be used to glorify him.

First Corinthians 6:20 says it this way: “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Teach your children glorify Jesus with their body.

6. Glorify God with your speech.
Everything you say, text, type or post (Facebook), must give grace. Gossip & slander are satanic. Don’t do it.

This is why Paul says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).” Anything that does not edify others is sin. Teach your children to watch their words.

7. Glorify God by your friends.
Only allow friends to influence you who love Christ as much or more than you do. As hard as loneliness is, it is far better than sin. Make the most of your acquaintances by lovingly and humbly calling them to a love for Jesus.

First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Teach your children to pick good friends.

8. Respect authority.
Honor and obey your teachers and staff with both your actions and your attitude. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to glorify God at school, because teachers will know which students truly honor and respect them.

While speaking to local churches, Paul reminds all believers to obey authority. Titus 3:1 says, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed.” Teach your children to respect authority.

9. A clear conscience is better than affirmation.
Always choose Christ likeness over the affirmation of unbelievers. Some friends, even Christian friends, may put you in a situation which bothers your conscience. Flee those situations. Refuse to do any activity simply because you lack the will to resist.

James 4:6 warns, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (cf. Philippians 2:3-4). Teach your children to be more like Jesus, and less like their friends.

10. Be an evangelist.
Proclaim and demonstrate the gospel to unbelievers, be they students or teachers.
Shock students with kindness and staff with respect.

Paul summed up the Messiah’s work in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (cf. Romans 2:4).” Teach your children to share what Jesus has done for them.

11. Read your Bible and pray at school.
Let unbelievers be uncomfortable around you, while you are bold around them.

Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth (cf. 3:17).” Teach your children to boldly follow Christ.

12. Glorify God by being disciplined.
God has numbered our days, and we use our time to glorify him. When we waste time, it is his time we are wasting. But when we strive for excellence in whatever he has placed before us, we bring honor to his name.

Colossians 3:17 explains, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Teach your children to honor God by their work ethic.

13. Don’t complain. Ever.

When things are going wrong, or events are taking an unexpected turn, talk about your concerns with your parents, so we can help you process and respond to disappointments, and discouragements. But don’t allow your preferences and expectations to cause you to sin by complaining against God.

Philippians 2:14 commands, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Teach your children to do all things without complaint.

14. Don’t be jealous of others sin.
Other students may be allowed to do things that your parents, the Bible, or your conscience tells you are wrong. But do not be jealous of their freedom, and remember that their “freedom” is fake.

Psalm 37:7 relates, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes (cf. Galatians 6:7-8).” Teach your children to focus on Christ not others.

15. Our love is unconditional.
You are loved unconditionally. Our home is a safe place to work through any issue on any area. We are praying for you during the school day and are eager to see you when you get home. We’ll pray and bear with you through the trials and challenges and celebrate as we see how God’s will unfolds in your life. We love you.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (cf. Romans 8:28-39). Teach your children the unconditional love of God for them.

Jim Stitzinger

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Happy Day!

The morning started out with tears (I will keep the innocent nameless, but let's just say that she has long blonde hair :)), and ended all smiles!

Bryan and I drove them to school and Bryan went with Micah to the middle school while I headed with the other three to the elementary school. Bryan said he was back out in all of 5 minutes. Once Micah found the door to his homeroom, Bryan said it went something like this, "Okay, I got it Dad. See you later!". :) Micah already loves his teacher, Mr. Bakker, and had fun recounting story after story of things he said in the class that made everybody laugh! He told me on the way home that his teacher was a really wise guy when it came to the things about God (blessed my little pumping heart!) and my heart rejoiced to here him pray, at the dinner table, for his classmates.
It took about 5 times longer to get the other 3 set to go! We dropped off Faith first, put her things in her desk and locker and made sure she was all ready. She was so excited and without a moment's hesitation! When I picked her up today she told me it was just like pre-school and she loved it! I was a wee bit confused ( I thought maybe the work was too easy or something)...and then I realized what she meant. At our church in CA there was a preschool and Faith just LOVED going!:) (So, thankfully, I will not have to come up with extra work for her to do once she gets home :) tee-hee).
Samuel, who had cried when we told him he was going to school (back in July) because he didn't want to go, had clearly changed his mind in the last two months. He was almost just as excited as Faith! After school I asked the kids, "On a scale of 1-10, 1 being: I wish I never had to go to school at all and 10 being: I wish I could live at the school...how would they rate their first day. Samuel didn't hesitate to shout out a "10".:) I wonder if he will feel the same way once homework kicks in?!

Grace was the last one to be dropped off...and I left her with my heart feeling as teary as her eyes looked. She was so brave...but so nervous. Her teacher was just precious...I couldn't have picked one any better for Grace...so kind, so sensitive, so caring (those are Grace's words to describe her, too!). And the view from her room...I think that made me want to cry just as much as anything. The mountains were beautiful...and above the windows was the verse from Psalm 121:1, "I lift up my eyes to the hills (mountains). From where does my help come from?"

I had just encouraged her the day before that, as she road to school each morning and saw Mt. Baker, it could be a reminder of God. That He is steadfast, immovable, grand, big, beautiful, creator, sustainer...that, just as the mountain would be there each day...so God was with her each day! So, to walk in her classroom and see the view and that verse...my heart burst with thanksgiving to the Lord!My two little men and I ran a couple of errands and then headed across the border to pick up the rest of their home school material. We did about an hour today...but we'll get into the full swing of things tomorrow now that I have all I need! It was special being with the two of them...so special that we had to add a Starbucks to the day (come on, who can pass up a $1 hot chocolate in a really cute cup?!).

The school day came to a close with a phone call from the principle. (I had a moment of panic when I saw the number) I quickly asked if the kids were okay to which she replied, "Oh, they are doing just great, but I am not sure how happy you are going to be." :) Due to some miscommunication, my clan missed their bus ride home!:)

All in all, so much to be thankful for! And the fun part is, we get to do it all over again tomorrow!:)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Not our typical school year...

Tomorrow begins a new season in the Pichura Family...because tomorrow we will drive our 4 oldest to Langley Christian and send them off to school.

After reading that sentence, some of you may be thinking, "It's about time! Glad to see you join the club," and others of you may be thinking, "WHAT???? I thought you would always home school!".

When the kids were little, I remember thinking, "There is NO WAY I could ever home school", and a little over a year ago I remember thinking that I actually just might be able to home school all the way up through!:) It's amazing how God molds us and transforms us...and, through each season of life, gives us new desires or rearranges the desires we have.

Because of financial help, we are able to send our kids to school this year...and we truly believe it is what is best for each of them. Obviously, we have come to that decision based on many different reasons not only for our family as a whole, but for each individual kid. We are incredibly excited at this opportunity and we are looking forward to seeing how God uses it to continue to grow us in our love for Him and grow us as a family.

My school "workload" will be down by 4 and I am so excited to have a year with my two "little men" who are going into grades 1 and 2. They are still at the stage of giving lots of hugs and wanting cuddle time...and I know these moments will be gone so quickly! I don't expect to have all sorts of free time...but I am excited to get into this new routine!

Micah will be entering the middle school as a 6th grader, Grace will follow right behind in grade 5, Samuel is more then ready to join the other kids his age in grade 4, and Faith will finish out the group in grade 3!

This year will be full of learning curves, I am sure. We have had a freedom in our schedule in the past that we will not have this year, I will actually have to make lunches before the lunch hour :) (now might be a good time to buy some stock from "Ziplock" with how many sandwich bags the Pichura kids will be using!:)), and the kids will be coming home with something they have never had before...HOMEWORK! :)

We'd all appreciate your prayers (the newness of it all has brought on some good ol' nerves...more for some than others!)...and, if you have any advice, I am all ears as well!

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trail to Nowhere

A couple of days ago we took a hike through some beautiful Oregon wildlife to get to an amazing waterfall. On the way back we took a wrong turn and started sending the kids up a steep, narrow trail. Thankfully, Bryan quickly scooted ahead and realized that the trail literally dropped off to nowhere. And, in this case "nowhere" was a long way down!

I can't help but think that that dangerous "trail to nowhere" is a visual image of what we sometimes do to our kids on the "trail of life". When a situation arises in which our kids need our aid, discernment, help, council, input, direction, rebuke, or exhortation and we are feeling tired, lazy, overwhelmed, frustrated, or just plain apathetic what can easily happen is that instead of leading our kids, instead of being like a John the Baptist and preparing the way, we give them a couple Bible verses, make a few statements, and then send them off. We throw God's Word at them instead of presenting it like the precious jewel that it is. Whether we realize it or not, we send them on the "trail to nowhere".

Without Christ saving work in our kid's lives, their natural bent will always be the dangerous trail. My prayer is that God would help me to not be lazy...to not just "point" them in the right direction but lead them there...with my time, my prayers, a passionate excitement about God's Word, encouraging words, hugs, and smiles!

Oh, that God would save our children and that every "trail" they take would lead them straight to the arms of Jesus!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Snapshots from So Cal

I had the sweet privilege of heading down south to visit with my sister just a couple of days after she gave birth to her second daughter, Natalie Ann. It was really special to be able to be a part of those first days of her life and to get to know my nieces, Hannah (my brother James' daughter) and Linnea better.

My wonderful hubby (and some wonderful friends) held down the fort at home and I was amazed to come home to laundry done and a house that was picked up and clean!!! It was good to go and it was good to come home!

My niece Hannah

Linnea loves her little sister!

My sister-in-law, Kimiko, MADE these for Linnea's birthday!!! They were too cute not to post! Oh...and the cupcake tasted AMAZING!!!! I was so tickled when she posted the recipe on her (and her sister's) cooking blog! You can find it here.
Nail painting with Auntie :)