Not wishful thinking- how and why we should have hope

Hope is anything but wishful thinking. It is expectation based on experience.

I read that in an article years ago and wish I knew whom to credit. I forgot the source long ago, but remembered the words. They mean a lot to me.

The way I interpret it, I can and should and will have hope because God has absolutely been good to me in the past. I have truly been blessed. Because of that past experience, I have expectation that his goodness and blessings will continue. I have hope. I have hope in and through and because of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

The way may be dark and difficult at times, and I may (OK, I do!) wait longer than I’d like for the blessings to come, but I know they will. Somehow. Someday. In His will. His way. His time.

Of course, it’s not just waiting. It’s active working and praying along with hoping. It’s working hard to reach my goals and fulfill my dreams, to serve and love and obey. It’s praying hard to align my will with His.

At church on Sunday, we sang a beautiful hymn that is shared across denominations: Be Still My Soul. It spoke powerfully to me, reminding me that God is at the helm and I can and should be at peace, filled with hope.

Graphic Jesus on the Sea
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
-words written by Katharina von Schlegel in Germany in the 18th century
Even though I may not see the blessings I currently seek, I hope (expect!) they will come… or that other blessings the Lord intends will come instead. He is in control and someday I will understand. He may not always give me what I want, but He does give me what I need.
And so I hope on.
We are- and try to be- House Upon a Rock.
How do you find hope and peace? We’d love your comments!

Remember the Alamo!

Remember the Alamo!

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We will. We absolutely will. It was a solemn, almost sacred experience, made more so by our study that helped us feel personally connected to real characters who fought and died… and to a mother and baby who lived.

“I can’t believe we’re on an airplane!”

We will also always remember this first airplane ride for Ryan & Rebecca (at least the first one they remember). She earned beaming smiles from all the passengers with a delighted squeal as the plane took off: “We’re flying!!!”

There were also the very cool geology and history lessons at Longhorn Cavern. And fun memIMG_20160108_094948671ories with our Camelbak water bottle and a new dog friend at Barton Creek. Then we were awed by the magnificence and history of the Texas Capitol Building. Plus delectable dining and our first food truck experience in Austin. We are really missing Torchy’s Tacos. (I’m drooling thinking about it… seriously.)

 

NASA was the place to be to aid Rebecca in her longtime quest to go to the moon. (She considered being the first person on Mars, but decided that six months of travel just to get there, and a total mission time of three years, was too long to be away from family. Good call, my dear.) Wow, there is so much to learn there. Talk about STEM education! The only problem is that I may need to adjust my planned curriculum for the next several weeks to incorporate more time for the study of space!

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We stayed busy with more fun and outdoor education in The Woodlands and George Mitchell Nature Preserve outside of Houston. Did you know a bayou is a creek?!? Unfortunately, the alligators didn’t want to show themselves in this weather, so we’ll have to go back for another visit. Darn. 😉

Then of course, time with two of our siblings and their families was so delightful. When they come to visit out west, all of the family is together and we don’t really connect directly. So this was absolutely wonderful to spend one-on-one time with them.

This trip was chock-full of good things. I posted many of them on Instagram, so follow along for lots of pictures.

What an amazing time we had in Texas, with hands-on, personalized learning experiences we could never get in a classroom or at home. We made wonderful memories, learned a ton, and had priceless time with far-away family. This trip absolutely reinforced my love of this entrepreneurial family lifestyle. Work anywhere. School everywhere. Play and learn and live life together! Hooray for Texas!

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I think traveling suits me. I feel energized and refreshed and ready to plan the next trip. Here’s to entrepreneurial family life!

We are- and try to be- House Upon a Rock.

The Ginger Story


IMG_20150320_195239151The Ginger Story

Once upon a time there was a dog (puppy). She had a mother who was a gingery-colored cat and her father was a very scruffy dog, who was white. She may have been wild; she may have had brothers and/or sisters; nobody knows! But, whether she was wild or not, somebody must have not been taking good care of her, because one day she showed up at someone’s house. AND THAT HOUSE JUST HAPPENED TO BE MY HOUSE!!

But she showed up at just the right house, because this family loved dogs. Me and my brother were homeschooled. We were just coming out for the Pledge of Allegiance. When we came out, a little, scruffy, happy-to-have-someone-around, ginger-striped on the back dog came right to us.

My Mom told Ryan to lift her up to see if she was a boy or a girl. She was a girl. After the Pledge we went inside, and we heard the little puppy crying out there. And we cried ourselves.

My Mom said we could give her some food and water. It was hard to leave the pup again. That  night when my dad came home from work, we talked about this dog and searched for the owner. We looked for a few days.

The rest of the week, me and Ryan did almost all of our schoolIMG_20150324_120550029work outside so we could be by the pup. Three days after, we took the dog to the vet to see if they knew the owner or if she was chipped. They didn’t and she wasn’t.

Guess what that meant!? It meant we got to keep her! We named her Ginger.

 

Based on a truIMG_20150322_122525307e story.

By Rebecca Robison (age 7)

2015 December 26-27    

THANKS (acrostic poem)

To the

High king on high,

A Lord who is better than I.

No, no, much better than all; the

King of all kings

Sits up on high, helping all humans such as you and I.

By: Ryan Robison (age 10)

December 14, 2015

2016- and Texas- here we come!

I just finished the syllabus for January 2016- whew!! It’s always such a relief to get that ready for our next session of school. I plan one month at a time, doing a separate syllabus for my 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. When I first started almost a year ago, the hours it took me were counted in the dozens.

I take this teaching job very seriously, by the way… 🙂

This time, I spent less than 10 hours- woohoo!! I am getting faster! And I’m building systems and processes that work, thank goodness.

It might have helped, too, that this coming month includes a week of hands-on-learning in… Texas! Yep, we get to learn about U.S. and Texas history, Davy Crockett, and visit the Alamo in person. And we get one step closer to Rebecca’s longtime dream of going to the moon with lots of amazing education experiences at NASA’s Houston Space Center. Plus we’re having lunch and doing science with the alligators. Not to mention that we will be with family in Houston and Austin. History, culture, science, technology, engineering, and quality family time all wrapped together… sounds good to me.

One of the things we’re doing to prepare is reading this awesome book. I love reading aloud to my children! And thankfully, even though they are both fantastic readers who devour books on their own, they still love cuddling up with me and a good book. Historical fiction may just be my favorite. Life is good.

We are – and try to be- House Upon a Rock!

I never knew we were THAT couple. Tips and hope for overcoming challenges in marriage.

Seriously. I never knew we were that couple… or that we ever could be. That couple that could work at home together… and spend every minute together… complement each others’ abilities… and actually enjoy each other.

For many years, we were the couple barely hanging on. We were the “why do they even stay married?” couple. We struggled. That’s an understatement. I describe those days as very dark. Life felt dark and heavy. It was hard. Really hard.

But we stuck with it.

And then, miraculously, we became the couple that found great joy in our children together. We were happy watching our babies and toddlers learn and grow, we found fulfillment doing everything with and for our children.

But I always wondered what would happen when the kids were gone. All of our happiness and togetherness was tied up in our roles as parents. I feared we really only were happy together because our amazing, beloved children united us.

And then, miraculously again, we somehow, one day, had a great time together without our children. We wanted more of that time together. We actually began to love and appreciate each other again… outside our roles as mom and dad. I don’t know exactly how it happened. But I’m sure glad it did. meme-families-improve-relationships-1390582-gallery

I’m truly humbled and amazed that now we can spend all day, every day together and appreciate and support and strengthen each other. That doesn’t mean it’s always hunky dory; we definitely still disagree often and have very different perspectives. We have trouble communicating. Our short-term priorities don’t always match and sometimes we can be selfish. But we truly value one another and are unified in our love and purpose. So, amazingly, finally, we are that couple.

It’s been almost twenty years since we  made eternal covenants as husband and wife. We take those covenants very seriously, and are so grateful that we have figured out we can have great joy together… more than I ever thought possible. Seriously. This is better than I ever imagined!!

So we’ve reflected about how and why our relationship has transformed for good over the years, and offer the following reasons. Maybe they will be of help to you. The work that is marriage, is worth it.

Hilarie:

  • We kept having prayer together all those years, even when we didn’t feel like it and it was just “going through the motions.”
  • I still pray every day to be humble and have charity in my marriage.
  • Even when I felt I was the only one trying, I never gave up. The Lord blessed me with the gift of faith.
  • Though the burdens were very heavy at times, I tried to not talk negatively about him.
  • My dear, divorced Jewish friend taught me that even difficult marriages are better than the pain of divorce. [I realize that is not a universally true statement.]
  • I relied on the motto: “If a man is worth loving at all, he is worth loving generously, even recklessly.”
  • I relied even more on the Lord.
  • I try hard to apologize even when I don’t want to. It’s better to be happy than right.Hilarie and Ben, married almost 20 years
  • Managing expectations is helpful; I try to be grateful for whatever he can do or be or give at various times. I remind myself how often he overlooks my weaknesses.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions; it really helps when I give him the benefit of the doubt and am extra patient as we try to communicate.
  • Remember that love is a choice. And it is an action verb. Choose every day to love him.

Ben:

  • Prayer, every day.  As a family, couple and individually.  Sometimes we forget, sometimes it’s rushed, but we and I strive to consistently pray.
  • I try to have those prayers focus more on gratitude than needs.  Granted, I need a lot, but looking to be consciously grateful – while challenging – helps get and keep the correct mindset.
  • Author Aldous Huxley said, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”  To that, I would add, “and seeing the negative.”  I think this mindset comes quite naturally for both men and women.  Consciously decide to NOT take things (or people) for granted; to look for and recognize the positive.  Sometimes that is hard, and often I fall short on this.  That segues to my next point.
  • When you or your spouse make a mistake, or don’t do something as well as you’d like, don’t dwell on it, move on.  By all means, give some thought as to how you can do better next time.  Societal norms teach that failure is a bad thing, but great people see failure as a learning opportunity.  Resolve to be great, as an individual and a couple.  Understand that takes time.  I love this well-known quote about failure:

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed.  I have failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that’s precisely why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

  • Tell her she’s beautiful.  Mean it.
  • Use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change and become better, bit by bit, day by day.
  • Faithfully take action.  There will be many times when you don’t know what the right thing to do or say is.  Exercise faith in God, make a decision that He would approve of, and do it.  If it turns out to be wrong, refer to the Michael Jordan quote above.
  • Say “I’m Sorry” and “Thank you.”  This has been shared who knows how many times.  It may seem cliche, but it’s not.  Be quick to forgive, quick to ask forgiveness, and always look for reasons to be grateful.

 

How do you strengthen your marriage? We’d love to hear what works for you!

Letting go…

I do love the Frozen song, “Let It Go,” and by the way, Rebecca does a pretty amazing version. But no, that’s not what this is about. At least, not directly.

I am learning to let go. It’s hard. When we made the decision to educate our children at home, it became- and still is- pretty all-consuming. With 8-10 hours on most days directly or indirectly tied to school, I have had to let some things go.

One of those is dinner.

I used to pride myself on daily making from-scratch, balanced, wholesome dinners for my family. But I simply don’t have the hours required for that every day anymore. Don’t worry, we haven’t resorted to convenience foods (I’m too budget- and health-conscious for that 🙂 .) We still sit down and eat together every evening, but often it’s leftovers, or a simpler version of dinner. Ben can make some amazing dishes and is super-helpful to take over at dinnertime now, but he’s an on-the-fly cook, making it up as he goes along and not planning ahead or worrying about a well-rounded meal.

And last night (gasp!), I was on a long blogging streak so Ben took charge of “dinner” and served us all fresh cookies, warm from the oven. Nice. Well, it is Christmas break. I guess we can call that the excuse.

I haven’t given up making whole-grain breads from scratch. That’s important to me, and I can squeeze it in a few times a week. And I still make dinner some nights.

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In fact, one night I helped Ryan multi-task making dinner AND Christmas cookies!

But, at least for now, daily, complicated cooking from scratch isn’t the top priority. If that’s the hardest thing I have to let go, I’m pretty sure I’ll be just fine.

We are- and try to be- House Upon a Rock.

 

Sunnybrook Farm produces (Summer and Fall 2015)

From those beautiful February days of planting, we did have some production at Sunnybrook Farm.

Ryan was a terrific steward over his precious pepper plants and harIMG_20151125_202333528vested a horde of jalapenosIMG_20151107_112929302!

We turned them into jalapeno poppers, dip, soup, and froze them to use all year.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Moapa squash seeds, a local cultivar that I use like pumpkin, also gave us an abundant harvest.

Rebecca won a “carving” contest at Halloween with her Mr. Moapa.

Mr. Moapa squash

 

 

At Thanksgiving, Ryan was a trooper cleaning out all the seeds and goop so I could turn Moapa squash into pumpkin streusel squares (yum!) and a side dish.

 

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And, of course, not pictured here is the often-overwhelming zucchini harvest. I think we had so much that it wasn’t fun anymore, so no pictures. 🙂 We also enjoyed some delectable tomatoes, but they never last long enough.

It’s always a joy- and a bit surprising- when we have gardening success!! We’d like to think we are somewhat self-reliant, though we still have a long way to go…

We are- and try to be- House Upon a Rock.

Missing the Reindeer Run (December 2015)

So I saw the article in our local paper about our elementary school’s annual Reindeer Run. And I got teary-eyed. Silly, I know.

Ryan won the Reindeer Run last year. He took 2nd place the year before. It’s just a fun foot race held at Christmastime. And I wished my kids Reindeer Run champion 2013 and 2014could have participated.

Yes, I miss the Reindeer Run. Yes, I miss class parties and fun traditions at school. And, yes, sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision to educate my children at home.

And then I remember all the amazing spiritual and academic growth I see in them. And I remember that they were too tired and worn out after all the school-required to dos, for us to have quality experiences together daily. And I remember that the work we are doing at House Upon a Rock is of eternal consequence and value.

Those experiences at school are fun. But they aren’t of greatest import. So I remember good, better, best, wipe my tears and soldier on.

We are- and try to be- House Upon a Rock.

I am an entomologist (June 2015)

I am an entomologist and this is what I do.

I study bugs and insects, and you can do it, too.

I am an entomologist and this is what I know.

If you catch a spider, you have to let it go!Photographing Insects | Close-up Photography Tips

 

 

 

It’s an insect, not a spider!

It has six legs instead of eight…

Three on this side, three on that side,

And it’s crawling on my plate.

(to the tune of “Oh my darlin’ Clementine”)

 

Rebecca memorized these two poems when she was in kindergarten… we had lots of fun times and experiences in public school! And these were especially fun because entoI am an entomologistmologists have a special place in our family.

I am not an entomologist. But my Dad is. In fact, at one time he was the only Board-certified entomologist west of the Mississippi. Perhaps he still is, not sure…

Anyway, that resulted in lots of adventures and learning opportunities growing up, and
I may write about them another time. But now it’s a blessing to my kids.

When we started homeschooling, my parents were serving a mission in Germany. But within a month of their return home, I had Grandpa on science duty, teaching and supplementing my lessons with his expertise. And what a great teacher he is!! He plans and prepares and teaches and takes them on amazing field trips. I am grateful and humbled at the time and effort he puts into making their educational experiences meaningful. I sure couldn’t do what he does!

Thanks, Dad! You are the entomologist.

We are- and try to be- House Upon a Rock.