Category Archives: Family

Redefining Success


Everyday, when Chris asks how it went,  “Good,” just sticks in my throat. Not because it’s not good, but because I want good to feel good.  And it rarely does.

I have a successful day in my head that looks something like:

Everyone wakes,  after me, smiling, and well-rested.

Chores are speedy, well-done, hygiene is a felt need.

Meals are contained to tummies and plates, conversation is pleasant, clean-up is swift.

School is a time of voracious excitement to improve our minds and hearts to the glory of God.

We read wonderful stories aloud on the couch all snuggled up in such a way that everyone is cozy.

Creativity is orderly and sustainable.

We get plenty of exercise outside in the fresh air.

Quiet time is quiet.

Family worship is still bodies, robust singing, and inquisitive questions.

People stay asleep in their own  beds, all night.

In reality:

Everyone wakes,  after before me, smiling, and well-rested ravenously hungry.

Chores are speedy, well-done half-done, hygiene is a felt need nobody seems to be bothered by the fuzz on their teeth.

Meals are contained to tummies and plates on the floor and hidden under napkins, conversation is pleasant mixed with whining, interrupting, and  entreating, clean-up off to play is swift.

School is a time of voracious excitement commitment to improve our minds work ethic and hearts to the glory of God (and to mom’s pride).

We read start and stop wonderful stories aloud on the couch all snuggled up in such a way that everyone is cozy arguing about where to sit and not being able to see the pictures or not liking other people’s smelly feet,

Creativity is orderly and sustainable  messy, sometimes sinister, sprawling, and abundant.

We get plenty of exercise outside in the fresh air sent outside screaming for all the neighbors to hear because we’re afraid of bugs, until we remember that the hose is out front…

Quiet time is quiet  asking if we can be done yet.

Family  worship is still rolling, wiggling bodies, robust singing a joyful noise, and inquisitive sometimes very strange questions all to the soundtrack of some giggling and some crying.

People stay asleep in their own beds, all during the night.

And reality is a line outside the blue bathroom (i.e. discipline room), forgiveness, and fighting the good fight over and over and over.

When I define success as ease, comfort, or lack of trouble we are bound to fail.  But when I see that success looks like repentance, mercy, training in righteousness, and pressing on, I can honestly answer “good,” most days because in reality our life is a whopping success.

Mayhem, Thy Name is Jack


In the last week Jack has:

Painted himself with whiteout, including his tongue which warranted a call to poison control. (I didn’t even know we had whiteout).

Painted himself with pink nail polish. (I did know we had that in abundance).

Painted the wall with the same pink nail polish.

Painted himself with craft paint and fabric dye.

I think he thinks he’s some sort of warrior…

He has:

Gorged himself on tooth paste while relaxing in the bathroom sink.

Mistaken his baby sister’s face for a drum.

Mistaken his older sister’s bottom for a pastry.

Made a china plate into a frisbee from the kitchen counter.

Stolen the sprinkles from the sprinkle jar.  (Who me? Yes you. You’re stuck and you’ve left a trail, Hansel.)

And lest you think I haven’t tried to contain him, he has:

Tipped himself over in his high chair.

Scaled every gate.

Masterminded  every lock on every door in the house.

My eyes see a mess, faith sees creativity. My eyes see chaos , faith sees ambition.  My eyes see exhaustion, faith sees zeal. My eyes see sin, faith sees repentance.  May the Lord give me more faith.

A Birthday Poem


To my 8-year-old who loves all things interesting, beautiful, and unique, I try my hand at poetry just for you girl.  Happy Birthday Maglet!

My Maggie in her musings does very much

Amuse us.   Her appetite for all that’s

Right reminds us God is


At times we tremble at the thought of

Raising such a treasure.  But the cross

Effectual keeps us pressing

Toward His eternal pleasure.

Alice Elizabeth Spencer in 1 Hour Flat



Alice Elizabeth Spencer decided to make a dramatic entrance into the world March 22, 2013.   After winning first prize for longest gestated Spencer baby at 40 weeks 5 days, she started her decent into visibility waking me up at 1 am with my first felt contraction.  By 1:30 we were flying out of the neighborhood in a mad panic.  She was born (in the hospital) at 2:01 am.  Just to add a little creative flair to the already dramatic entrance, she thought she’d come out still inside her amniotic sac without breaking it.  The medical professionals were quite impressed.  Chris just kept hearing things like, “This is really cool,” and “Wow, this is neat.”   I’m not quite ready for the word “neat.”  I’ll need a few weeks, months, years, to move past words like, “horrific pain, total panic, hysterical agony.”    Alright, maybe not years.  The euphoric relief of her arrival is in fact cool and neat, and a wonderful blessing.  Only 18 inches long but weighing in at 7lbs 6oz (another record breaker) makes her a round little ball of cute chubbiness.  We are so very thankful to our good Lord for bringing our little Allie safely into our arms.

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When Opportunity Knocks


I was recently asked a question along these lines:

What do you do with your family/kids to teach Christ and who He is and who He is for them?

Parts of my Response:

In general, our family worship time looks like singing a hymn, reading or telling a bible story, and then praying together.  But the material we’ve used has varied a ton, mostly based on age.

Good resources are helpful and family worship is essential, but when Chris and I talked about it, we both agreed that the times we’ve really seen light bulbs go off and application sink in is in the midst of discipline. We try to view our kids’ sin as an opportunity to teach the gospel. When their misery is potent, they are most ripe to understand the comfort of Christ for them in particular. I also think the many “opportunities” I have every day to ask their forgiveness of me for my sin against them and for them to see me repent to the Lord has been very helpful.  Basically, it seems to take lots of talking, asking heart probing questions, modeling, prayer, and patience while we wait for the Spirit to open their eyes and ears. Simple; but not at all easy.

How I Do It

I was humbled to be asked by someone I respect very much how I do my life homeschooling 6 kids.  If you’ve wondered, here was my response…

Hi …,

Thanks for the encouraging words.  It’s very humbling to be asked how I do it.  My first response was going to be something like:  I don’t do it.  I suck at my life and I’m really discouraged too.  But that was a bad moment and wouldn’t have been the whole truth.  I do get pretty overwhelmed on a regular basis.  Most of my blog posts are me trying to speak truth to myself rather than listening to my circumstances or fickle emotions.  It’s hard to think about how to explain my day to day life without going into minutia, but a few noteworthy thoughts came to mind.

  1. There is no one solution that will suddenly make life into the ideal that I can imagine in my head (I’ve only started to come to terms with this idea recently).  I’ve spent a lot of time trying a new technique, a new routine, a new curriculum, and while there are definitely benefits to better methods the principal of dying to myself, giving freely, loving my kids when they are needy and naughty is just going to be hard, always.
  2.  Grace is real.  Jesus already did all those hard things for me.  A good day is a day I repent early and often both to the Lord and to my kiddos.   His forgiveness is efficacious.  If I really understand it I must and want to extend it.
  3. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m the leader.  If things are getting wild and out of control, it’s my job to lead the troops to peace.  That looks like entrusting their consciences to the Holy Spirit, reasoning with them from the Scripture, and setting the example with my own actions.
  4. Shepherding kid’s hearts takes time.  I have had to slow way down, both from a lot of activities and from my expectations of how they will change and grow.  Chris and I remind each other a lot to “take the long view,” meaning that we need to faithfully teach them the ways of the Lord, to discipline them, to keep giving them our love and ourselves freely over and over and over, trusting that in the Lord’s time he will use us as means to bring about fruit in their lives.

Again, these are all my own daily reminders.   I was overwhelmed when I had 2 preschoolers and I’m still overwhelmed with number 7 on the way.  But I can honestly testify to the Lord’s sustaining hand.  We’re still fighting the fight of faith and when I look back 5 years I can see that we’ve been pulled along in the right direction, more sure of our need for a Savior and more sure of the forgiveness of our Savior.



A Christmas Story

emFor a writing assignment this week, I asked Emily to write a story or poem that describes what Christmas is about.  This story made my heart happy.  She is such a blessing of a child.

The Strangers
by Emily Spencer

Once upon a time, there was a family called the Trigger family.  They had 10 kids.  The 5 girl’s names were: Maria, Halley, Violet, Amy, and Mousa.  The 5 boy’s names were: Robert, Jonathan, Peter, Fred, and Benny.  It was Christmas Eve.  They were all very excited to open presents.  But that was not the only thing they were excited about.  The thing that they were looking forward to most was going to church.

They were all upstairs getting ready to go when there was a knock at the door.  Mrs. Trigger opened the door, “Oh! Hello.  Would you like to come in?”

The strangers at the door nodded.  There was a man and a little girl.  They  both looked very cold.  Mr. Trigger came downstairs to help Mrs. Trigger get them settled in the living room by the warm fire.

“Why are there people here?” Amy asked Mr. Trigger.

“I’m not sure,” Mr. Trigger said.  “But I think they had no place to stay.”

“That sounds awful,” said Maria.

“Will they go to church with us?” asked Peter.

“I hope so,” said Mr. Trigger.

“So do I!” said Mrs. Trigger, walking into the room.

“Are they even Christians?” asked Robert.

“I don’t know,” exclaimed Mrs. Trigger “But we can tell them about God and how he came down to earth as a little baby.”

“Us?” said all the children.

“Yes, us,” said Mr. Trigger.

“Oooo!” cried Mousa, “I can’t wait.”

So they all went downstairs and asked the strangers if they wanted to go to church.

“Church?” said the little girl whose name was Lucy, “What is church?”

“You don’t know what church is?” cried Fred in amazement.

The strangers looked puzzled.  “Church is a place that we worship God, the one who God made us.  He made the whole world.  He even made you!” Maria said.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Trigger, “and today is a very special day.  It is when God sent his only son, named Jesus, down to earth.  Jesus died on the cross for our sins.”

“Wow!” said the little girl and the man.

“And if you repent and believe,” exclaimed Robert, “you can go to heaven. But if you don’t you go to hell.”

Then all of the sudden, God opened the little girl’s and the man’s eyes.  They started repenting and believing.  They went to church with Triggers and lived with the Triggers.  They learned more and more about God.  That Christmas was the best anyone could have.

The End

Thanksgiving Poems

Say Thank You to the Lord
By Emily Spencer (age 8, apparently going on 80)
We are living on Thanksgiving. 
Say Thank you to the Lord.
It is impossible to be bored tonight.
We are all singing in the fire’s light. 
It is cold out there, but warm in here,
I’m having a good time. 
We feast on turkey to our delight. 
And that’s just some of the reasons
I love Thanksgiving night.
Thanksgiving to the Lord
by Maggie Spencer (age 7)

 On Thanksgiving I am thankful for,

Fun games, crafts, and more.

There’s turkey and stuffing and ice cream too;

Also pie which is for me and for you.

We don’t want to forget, our Thanksgiving story,

Is always for the Lord’s glory.

A Salla Story

A Salla Story
by Beppie Spencer (age 3)

Once upon a time there lived 3 little penguins.  Then there was a shark floating in the water and tried to eat them, but a fish  cameand fighted with the shark and tried to eat the penguins, but they got away.

Then a nice polar bear helped them cross the sticky river.  He likes sticky.  An alligator ate their boat.  So they couldn’t live on the boat anymore and they had to build another one.  But first they had to go across a bubble gum river.  There were some sticky fishes in it and sticky sharks in it and sticky alligators in it.

They heard a little girl say “Help! Help!”  Then there was a princess named, Me.  The princess saved the little girl with a rope and then went across the sticky sticks.  And then the sticky bubble gum.   And then my story’s over.

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