Homeschool or NOT! You still have to be a responsible parent.

It won’t be long now and our children will be returning back to school. For over 20 years I homeschooled all 3  of my kids and not because they were dumb and it took that long for them to graduate but more because there is a 12 yr span between our first and our last.  As you can imagine, in all those years, I have seen a lot of different things happen in the homeschooling world. But there is one comment I have often heard, from new homeschoolers, ” I am scared of failing my kids, having my child’s future in my hands is really scary.” to which I want to reply……. REALLY?

Where in any part of the universe would a parent think they are NOT responsible for child’s future? I don’t care if you send your kids to public school or you choose to keep them home.  Either way, you are still the parent and still responsible. I mean call me old fashioned, but I feel like I see a lot of lazy parenting these days, we drop our kids off at school or church and let someone else deal with them. I actually knew one parent who was having a disciple problem with their child at home and they called the school to take care of it when, the disciple problem had nothing to do with anything going on at the school. Time after time I have heard parents say ” I can’t wait till summer is over I am so tired of these kids, they are driving me crazy! I can’t wait to send them back to school”

I feel all to often, that we as parents take the easy way out and choose to allow someone else, or worst yet just allow our kids to raise themselves. Call me crazy, but I still believe what the bible says that we are to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 ESV

Deut 6:6-8 NIV says  6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts, Impress them on your children. 7 Talks about when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

You know what commandments God is talking about impressing on our children in this passage?  The answer is found in verse 5 it is,   5″Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”. Now, I am pretty sure if I asked most reading this article today “Do you love God?”  very few, if none of you would come out right and say “No! I Hate God! I don’t want anything to do with Him”. I think the opposite is true, I think most of us would say “No! I love God!” But if we say we love God, why are we not following what His word says to do? Worst yet, Why are we not teaching our children what His word says?

If you love someone you do things that please them.  If we say we love Christ and we really mean it. Why are we not in His house each week desiring to learn more of what He desires of us? Why are we not studying His word at home during the week so we are ready to engage in worship and study when we get to church?

How can we be preparing our children for their future if we are not teaching them about God’s word and how to apply it to their everyday life? If we are allowing someone else to have more influence over our child then we do, how can we guarantee their influence will be pointing our children to Christ?  See, I believe God choose you out of all the people in the universe to raise your children He placed them in your womb and His word says He knew them before they were born and He knew the plans He had for them. (Jer 29:11) Are we pointing them to that plan or just allowing our children to wander around like a blind person in a home they have never been in before, Hoping they will find the way?

I believe out of all the people in the universe, God choose you to be the parent of that child and with that decision comes responsibility on your part that is a lifetime commitment.

Yes, the roles slowly change and hopefully by the time they are adults you can be more of a friend than a parent. But that is only when they are much older and living out on their own. When they are young you have to be 100% the parent and 0% their friend. I mean lets face it. When they are infants you can’t just let them put anything they want in their mouths or when they are toddlers you can’t just let them walk around putting screwdrivers in light sockets. Why?  Because something might hurt them. You have to love them enough to keep them from harm.

Most people will tie up their dogs at night but let their children run wild. We need to remember when we embark on this parenting adventures it is a commitment of a lifetime and we answer to the Heavenly Father for what we have done; Parenting is a calling not a hobby that you get to pick and choose, what you want to do, when you want to do it. We have a responsibility by God as parents to lead children in the correct path, it is up to the kids to stay on that path but if we have done what God’s word says to do we can trust His word that, does not return void and when that child is old they will not depart from it.  So as we are preparing for this next year of school. Make sure they get the most important part of their education and that should be learning God’s word from you. Get involved in a church somewhere that supports this mission you have and I promise you, as you grow in God so will your children. God’s not looking for perfect parents, He is looking for obedient ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Miller Kids Competition!

The Ultimate Miller Kids Competition!

Mother’s Day was just a few weeks ago, and I have to say it has always
been a big deal to my kids. Well, not necessarily because they want to
honor me on Mother’s Day. But I think they actually like to torture
me. Okay, torture might be to strong of a word. Perhaps a better word
is compete. Yes, my children have turned the last several Mother’s
Days and by several I mean about 10-15yrs. into a competition. See,
this competition isn’t about who can buy me the biggest gift, or the
grandest thing they can do for me. Nope! It is about who can make me
cry first.

Yes, they try to buy or make the most heartfelt Mother’s Day card
there is, then as they give me the card, each one sits intently
staring at me, their eyes wide open refusing to blink, while their
necks are stretched out, intently focused on my eyes to see if there
is the slightest bit of liquid that might flow out from them. It is
almost to the point these days, where it makes me laugh instead of
cry.

But then I begin to read each card, and slowly but surely, one of them
will touch my heart and yes, you guessed it. I begin to cry, as soon
as the tears fill my eyes, and almost before it has left my tear
ducts. Whichever child’s card I am reading at the time, lets out a
shout of rejoicing and sometimes does a little happy dance, while the
other two sigh in disappointment because they can’t claim the victory
for the year.

This year was no different and now even though they are going to be
32, 22, and 20 this year they still find joy in it. I have often
thought I am not so sure somedays if it is actually the heartfelt
response they want or just the thrill of beating their sibling. But
never the less they each one ends up touching my heart in a special
way every year.

This got me thinking……….

I wonder if that is what God was hoping for when He made man? I wonder
if He was longing for someone that would fight over who would love Him
more? I wonder if He is as taken with us as I am with my children? I
wonder if He tears of joy run down His face, when He sees His children
in worship to Him and singing His praises?

The bible says, If we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us
the desires or our heart. (Psalms 37:4)

Now that doesn’t mean that we can use Him like a vending machine. No!
But what that does mean is that God wants us to delight ourselves in
His word. Psalms 40:8 says I delight to do your will, Your law is in
my heart and Romans tells us, “For in my inner being I delight in your
law.” If we choose to do His will and follow what He tells us to do in
His word willingly, not begrudgingly and not in a “I’ll scratch your
back of you scratch my back” sort of way. But out of the pure
gratitude we feel for all He has done for us. Then, God in His
infinite wisdom, like a parent of a child who would only give their
child good gifts. (see Matt 7:11) God only wants the best for us. Just
like myself, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my children if it was
for their good. Now, do I expect them to follow my rules (which lines
up with God’s word) Yes! God in His “I created the universe and know
everything, past present and future” kind of perspective. Then decides
if it is for our best when we bring our requests to Him.

So, Let us remember this week as we go about our day, to delight
ourselves in God’s will. In other words, when you get up in the
mornings, ask yourself what God wants you to do today. When you go to
work, ask God what He wants you to do today, then do it. Your
obedience is a form of praise and as we give that praise to Him the
bible says it is a sweet smelling fragrance to Him and I am just
betting, like when I read those cards and hear my children pour out
praises to me. It might bring a small tear of joy to His eye too.

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Happy Birthday to Me!!

We recently spent sometime with my kids in honor of Mother’s Day and My 51st Birthday since the dates are just 2 weeks apart. We went to one of those break-out/escape rooms, and then sat around a table at a local restaurant and just chatted and reminisced.  As I sat back and looked at each of my kids I see the adults they are becoming and I revel in each and everyone of their successes.

See I had many opportunities to do my life differently from what I have, but I don’t believe I would change a thing. See, I could have finished High School, before I got married, but I didn’t. I could have chosen to go to College right after High School but instead I choose to have my first son. I could of chosen to have a musical career when a famous christian artist offered to write songs and produce an album for me, But I didn’t. I choose to stay at home and be a mom. I could of been an ordained minister like my mother who was one of the first ordained woman in the Assemblies of God in the state of Oklahoma, but I didn’t, instead I choose to stay at home and minister to my kids. I could of continued in a successful career as a Assisted Living Director, but I choose to focus on living with my husband and assisting him in every way I could.

Many would say I have given up a lot. Some would even say I sacrificed myself for my family. See to me, none of my successes matter, if I don’t have a family to sit around and enjoy it with. Jeff and I made a commitment a long time ago, truth is, it is our family motto. For we committed, that “What good does it do to win the whole world for Christ, if we lose our own families soul”. Now I know some would say I could’ve had it all and perhaps I could have, but one thing I have learned in this half a century of life, is you can have it all, but something in that equation always has to sacrifice and I wasn’t willing to take a chance that it might be my family that did.

I wouldn’t give up, being up all hours of the night with my babies,  dinners around the family table, family nights, friday field-trip days, or piles of dirty laundry for any of it! (okay, maybe the laundry haha!)

See because as I looked around the table and saw each one of my children and the amazing adults they have and are becoming. That is my successes.

My oldest who is an amazing father, who married a wonderful young lady, and has a Master’s Degree in Family and Marriage Therapy.  He is a Psychologist making a difference in young boys lives in a boys home everyday. He is beginning to make his way in the political world as well as serving as the online campus pastor at his church and he will forever be the future forward thinking farmer. That is my success, with each success he has, it is my reward as well.

My daughter the up and coming Graphic Designer, on the Dean’s list the last 2 yrs of school, member of Phi-Thetta-Kappa, she has been an Intern and Personal Assistant to the Senator, Amazing Nanny to 8 kids under the age of 11 that she has helped homeschool. Assistant to the online campus pastor at her church, where she led people 2 and 3 times her age. That is my success.

And my youngest son, Who is growing into an amazing adult. Passing all his classes last semester, the hardest working teenager I know.  The kid with a heart as big as he is, who will always be my protector, I know God is going to use him in a mighty way, more then just behind the pulpit, he will use him to share His love with others in so many ways. His life is already a testimony and the way he has chosen to live his life.  That is my success.

Then there is the up and coming grands, oh what will the future hold for them? I do not know. But, with each of their success it is my success. Because I am confident that because I

Have poured myself into my children, therefore when they pour themselves into their children it is part of me pouring into the grands. Whether my kids choose to teach them similar values and traditions or they choose to go in a totally different way, either of those choices reflect what I have taught them.

Has our lives been perfect, No. Do we fight and argue, Yes. But I am thrilled to know when I look in the eyes of each of my family members, I get to see a love for Christ and a desire to serve Him with so much passion that I know it runs to the core of who they are and for that, I am very thankful. Because what good would it of been for us to win the whole world for Jesus and lose our own children’s souls?

Do I think we are home free and I don’t have to worry about my children any longer? Not for one minute! I pray for them regularly, the older they get the more prayers they need and the more I worry about them. And if somewhere along the way any of them find that they have made a turn forgetting what they learned, on their journey in this relationship with God. I know that He is forever standing there with His arms outstretched, waiting for them to come home. Because they know, that all I expect of them is to be there! (Heaven) Because none of their successes matter if they aren’t.

But I do trust in the one that gave them to me and I have chosen to believe that He will honor the choices I have made in raising them and because I thoroughly believe, I did what He asked me to do,  to the best of my ability and so I have no regrets as I tip over the half a century mark, and I am thankful, that I still only feel like I am 29 on most days!

I am Here, Keep Walking!

I am Here, Keep Walking!

Chad about 4 yrs old.

I am Here, Keep Walking!

Have you ever wondered, “Where did the time go!”? That is what I was wondering, the morning my youngest started his first year of college. Oh, I was good. I wasn’t going to cry! I was prepared, and, actually, kinda happy that I was so close to the empty-nest season of my life.

 

In the weeks prior to this day, I had kept warding off all my son’s questions because they made me realize he was not alone in being scared about this new adventure. I had discounted his comments, indicating hesitation about the subjects he has struggled with. However, down deep inside there was fear and anxiety concerning what the future would hold for my struggling learner with severe dyslexia, who is also somewhere on the autism spectrum.  How would he handle a full day of classes, then head to work for four hours, and still try to get everything else done?
But I was good. I kept reminding myself, “It’s going to be OK. God’s got this!” But deep, deep, deep down under, somewhere by my gizzard, I still felt that little flicker of fear for him; and his constant hesitation was not helping me build my faith! Still, I was determined to put on a brave face, even though the unknown was still so unclear.
And now, it was the morning he was heading out. I opened up my Facebook page as his breakfast cooked and he finished getting dressed for his first day of classes. Then, Then, It Happened; and I just had to ask, “How did Facebook know that he starts his freshman year of college today? Why was this picture (see picture above) the first picture I saw in my memory box? Why did every post in my memories box today talk about how we are to be looking ahead, forgetting the past, trusting God? Why did today’s devotional talk about the fact that we don’t always know where we are going, or what we are going to do, until we get our feet where they need to be? Were these accidents? Or appointments with God?

 

I choose to believe it was God. I choose to believe that He loves me enough to remind me that this little guy is in the palm of His hand and as much as I love Him, God loves him more.

See, this isn’t the first time God has showed up – for us, or for others. One of my favorite parts of the Bible includes the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus and the early years of His life. Maybe it’s the fact that I am a mom, and I am always looking for direction from God so that I am in His will when it comes to guiding my children, that I relate so well to these stories.
Think about it.  An angel shows up to tell a virgin girl that she is going to be pregnant. And just when she is thinking there is a strong possibility that she will be killed for her “sin” of being pregnant out of wedlock, the angel shows up on the other side of town to confirm to Joseph the truth that she is still a virgin, and this is a God-thing!
Now fast forward. When Mary goes to her cousin’s home for shelter from the gossip, the first time these ladies are together there, Elizabeth’s baby leaps within her. Neither Mary nor Elizabeth had any idea, at the time, how their two sons would be joined together in the future, but God did! And He was reminding these ladies that He had a plan, and they were to just keep walking in it.
Then came Jesus’ birth, after a long, tiring ride on a donkey, who knows how many hours of labor, and in a barn no less!  Perhaps Mary and Joseph were questioning even more, “How did this happen? Is this really the Son of God? What are we going to do next?” Out of the blue, some angels show up, along with some shepherds to worship Jesus! Then, when Jesus was about two years old, three kings appear with gifts, to worship Him as their King! Somehow, I have a feeling Mary wasn’t feeling like the mother of a King that day! Sometime later, Joseph and Mary are told to run away with Jesus in the middle of the night to save his life. And every mother of a two year old will tell you that, at one time or another, she needed some confirmation that God is in control.
There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that tells me for sure they were thinking these things, but if these people were human, just like you and me (and they were), I have to believe that if I sometimes have doubts and fears, they could have them as well! If I needed that song on the radio at just the right time to encourage me, couldn’t God provide an angel to show up for them? Or, if I need a financial miracle in my life, or just a reminder when life gets hard and I begin to question, “did I really hear God?” (like when He told me to pick up my family and move for Him!) If God can show up with a unexpected check in my mailbox, or a post on my Facebook, can’t God show up at His Son’s house with a few kings and some treasures?
See, God doesn’t change. He is still working in all of our lives. His methods may have changed a little with the inventions of electronics, but God still hears every cry, knows every fear, and is watching over His children.
My point is that He loves and cares about us enough to show up! He shows up every day if we are only looking for Him. That is why, no matter the fear or anxiety that comes (to either of us), there will be NO dancing with the devil on this first day of college! We speak LIFE and are excited about what God has planned for this man! We will not look back, but we look forward to the things that God has in store! Today we choose to TRUST instead of FEAR. Even though we do not know what the future holds, we know who holds the future!
Ask God to show up for you today! Perhaps, you are like me and can look back over the years and see where God was faithful even with the little things. If you ask, I promise you will see. Just open up your spirit eyes and look for those ever so small, but ever so special, reassuring gestures, when we hear God whisper in our ears, “I am here, keep walking!”

Reasons your daughter should not move out of the house!!!

I am a firm believer in helping others in this walk of life. I believe we are all on this journey together and as I walk my path of faith, I need to look back and hold out my hand to encourage someone who may be behind me. In the same way, I believe there are others further along on this journey who reach back to me and pull (and, let’s face it, sometimes they DRAG) me along!

Because of that I am compelled today to write about this whole empty-nest thing that my husband and I are experiencing. Granted, we still have our 17-year-old (gulp – can’t believe he is that old!) son at home. But, for this week we have been empty-nesters. You see, our son has been at camp for two weeks and during that time we moved our daughter back to Kansas City to attend college. So, for the past week we have been practicing empty-nesting.

I have to say, it is quite different than what I expected. My overall view of it is that, while I have gained an almost-perfectly-clean house for the first time in 29 years, it is WAY too quiet! I have to honestly say, as much as I ranted and raved about keeping the house clean when the kids were at home. I would give it all up to hear them laughing in the other room or break out in song while driving down the road.

There have been some specific disadvantages to our daughter’s absence, that I didn’t feel the effect of when our oldest son moved out over 10 years ago. (Yes, there is 10 years difference between our first 2 children) While lamenting to my husband over the fact that our daughter was leaving, he responded to me, “What am I, chopped liver? I will still be here.” To which I replied, “Are you going to go shopping with me, paint my nails, and dye my hair for me?” To which he promptly retorted, “Nope, not me!”

There have been some other disadvantages of her leaving as well:
1. She took HER clothes out of MY closet!  How rude! I thought possession was 9/10 of the law!
2. She took the good fingernail polish with her! The fact that it was HER fingernail polish to begin with is beside the point!  Couldn’t she have left me a parting gift? (Smile!) 
3. She is/was my right hand in almost everything I did. And now that she is an adult, I can say with full confidence, we are “BFF’s – BEST FRIENDS FOREVER! Therefore, I miss her terribly!

Amy's Empty Closet

Amy’s closet looks awful empty

Yet, with all the changes – and  my selfish reasons for missing my daughter – I am so thankful to hear the joy in her voice when she calls; to know the excitement she feels when returning to the comfort of what she calls home. I draw peace from the fact that she has a huge support system with our church family back in KC and I am confident that, as much as I love her, there is a Heavenly Father who loves her more than I do, and He is watching over her.

Oh, I know the next few years will hold many changes for me and for our family but there is one thing that will remain the same: the steadfast love of God. He is faithful, and He will never leave us. I know that I can call on Him whenever I have a problem and He will always be there.

And in those times when I feel alone and afraid, unsure of what the future holds, I rest in the confidence that I know who holds the future! When I have that desire to be in control and try to figure it all out on my own, it is in those times I must learn to sit back and lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus because He is my rock, my fortress, and the only one on whom I can depend

A friend posted these words on Facebook this week and they are absolutely true. “I know that God always supplies our every need according to his riches in glory. I’m starting to understand that walking with God is just one leap of faith after another. I don’t think it ever gets easier, I just think we learn to trust God more.”

 ” I’m starting to understand that walking with God is just one leap of faith after another. I don’t think it ever gets easier, I just think we learn to trust God more.”                                                                                                                                                   January Lare                                                                                                                    

”Isn’t that the very basis of our foundation in Christ – “Trust”? We have to trust or there is no foundation for our faith walk. And that is what this life is, whether you are a new mom, empty-nesting mom, or unsure if you will ever be a mom. It all comes down to trust. If we have truly surrendered our heart to Him, it is just one trusting leap of faith after another.

My daughter states there is one phrase that has helped her keep it together through this time of transition for her and it is this: “If your dreams do not scare you, then they are not big enough”

 ” If your dreams do not scare you then they are not big enough ” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

I hope today, that whatever dream God has put in your heart, it is so big it scares you to death! Because, I know there is a God who is right there beside you, ready to hold your hand and walk with you.  He cares for you and wants to see you succeed in everything you do.  Sometimes it can get scary, getting to the place where He wants us to be, but we can rest on the fact that He is working “all things for our good !”……..

Won’t you trust Him today?

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB

 

 

Change – Oh! What a difference 9 months can make!

1150610_10153099280955487_1585285912_o Oh what a difference 9 months can make!  As we come to the close of our only daughters first year of college, it has been exciting to see the joy on her face; to witness her eagerness to get back to the college after a weekend at home; to hear her tell about the fun times she is experiencing at the college, hanging out with her friends, and talk about her favorite teacher and how awesome he is! It makes a momma’s heart feel good to know her baby is happy and enjoying her life. In fact this last few days of school, all I have heard from her is ” I wish I could go to school all summer!”

But if we could hit the rewind button to just 9 months ago, we would see a scared young teenage girl on her parents couch, crying her eyes out because she wanted to stay at home. She stomped and snorted and even called her big brother, all to try to convince us that college was NOT the right place for her!  As hard as it was for us to see her miserable for that time, we as her parents knew it WAS the right place for her to be. Did we want to tell her to come on home and stay in her bedroom and never leave again? You bet we did! But we knew that was not the best thing for her. We knew that she couldn’t live the rest of her life shut up in her bedroom; that she couldn’t be at home with mom and dad forever. As much as we would love to keep her at the age she is now and have nothing ever change, we know that isn’t reality or what God wants.

Reality is – things change. Reality is – God expects us to grow up! Reality is – if we never change we never grow! Reality is – change is sometimes hard!

We know that a piece of coal becomes a diamond under pressure. A pearl is made by the irritation of rubbing up against a piece of sand.

What makes us think we can grow without some kind of pressure or irritation in our life? But we have to choose. We can choose to stay the course, and walk through the pressure that is placed before us, or we can choose to walk away from the pressure, go back to our bedroom, pull the covers over our heads and let the world go by us while we sit in the pit we have always been in. It is our choice!

This year as we have watched Amy grow and mature, it has been a joy to see her take on more responsibilities and excel in her studies. Has it all been easy? Absolutely NOT!! But is she now a stronger more mature person because of it? You bet she is!! Is she better for it? ABSOLUTELY!! Are we glad we forced her to stay and finish the course? Yes we are, even though we now see her taking the next steps that will eventually lead her out of our home for good. It brings us mixed emotions, but in our hearts we know that this is the best thing for her. So, we choose to give up our desire to see her be our baby for the rest of her life, and encourage her to grow and be all that God wants her to be.

If you are facing something that makes you feel like going back home and pulling the covers over your head, just remember: growth doesn’t happen inside your comfort zone. Some of God’s most expensive jewels are created under pressure.

God’s Word promises that if we will not get weary in well doing, we WILL reap a harvest! Before we know it, 9 short months later, we will be looking back and everything will be totally different! We will know that without us keeping on, with God, we would not have made it, and we will be able to say “Oh, what a difference 9 months makes!”  Praise Be To God!!

Stop and Smell the Roses

10296602_10154136976820487_2185893690752535391_n                                                                                                                                         Originally published on The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Facebook page on Monday, November 15, 2010 at 7:19am

 STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES …

 One day as I was giving my oldest (who was about 2, maybe 3, years old at the time) hugs and kisses, I told him, “Momma doesn’t want you to ever grow up, OK? You cannot grow up!” He sweetly agreed and crawled off my lap and went on to play. It was about 5 minutes later when he returned and asked, “Momma can I please grow up, can I please?!?!” with great anticipation in his voice, as if I had any control over whether or not he could ever grow up … but I wished I did …

When my youngest was little and we would sit and read together it was often hard to get him to focus on the words of the page, because he enjoyed looking at the pictures so much! I often tried to hurry him along so we could “check another thing off our to-do list” that day.

Years later, I regret that … Oh, I regretted it then, but convinced myself it was “OK” because I was getting things done. I was homeschooling three kids, being a minister’s wife, along with wearing various other hats. There was laundry to do and dishes to wash! “I did not have time to look at pictures!”

Realizing now that I will never get those moments back brings a tear to my eye. When our children are young, we secretly hope in our hearts they will never grow up and think if we just don’t think about it they won’t! But they do! Hours slip to days, and days slip to weeks, and weeks to years. Before you know it, it is Christmas already – and then, they are moving out the door!

There was a lady in the Bible who had the same problem. Her name was Martha. (If you’re not familiar with the story I suggest you read it.)

Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha”, the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Oh! I know the scripture is talking about putting God first, but I think right after our faith comes our family.

So, I encourage you this week, take some time with the kids! Just go lay out in the yard, look up at the sky, and watch the clouds roll by. Stop and smell the roses, because the roses are only here for a season, just like our kids are only kids for a little while.

Take the time to invest in your kids, share with them your values and beliefs. When it comes down to it, there are only two things we can take to heaven with us: our family and our friends.

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow…For babies grow up,we’ve learned to our sorrow…So quiet down cobwebs…dust go to sleep…I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep!!—-Ruth Hulbert Hamilton.