Harder Family

Harder Family

Monday, August 31, 2015

A New School Year...

Psalm 121:1-2 "I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."

Isaiah 41:13 "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."

Today we embarked on another year of school. This is the start of my sixth year homeschooling...wow, that is crazy to write, it doesn't seem that long. This year we are entering a new path on our journey. We decided to try something different this year as a family. In light of all that is going on with Wayne, we decided to make some changes in our approach to our homeschool year. The first HUGE change for me this past year was not buying all of my homeschool material and preparing for this school year back in May (sounds crazy, but getting excited about the next year helps me make it through the end of the current school year). Usually I scour homeschool curriculum fairs and websites to find the best prices on the materials that I have selected for the next year. This year, I waited patiently on the Lord to see if homeschooling was even for us. 

It seemed like forever to get an answer from but, but pnce God gave me the green light, I started looking into some different options for us. We have been doing Classical Conversations (CC) as a family for four years. Although I LOVE the program, time and finances have led us a different direction this year. I normally spend at least a month of my summer prepping for the next school year (making CC binders for the kids, finding extra things to do that compliment the topic we are studying at CC). In light of life events, I needed something that was laid out for me this year. A friend of mine has been telling me about My Father's World for years. I decided to attend a curriculum exhibit for My Father's World back in May. *note: it was hard not to buy right then since I would save 10% and get free shipping!! But, I was good and waited and prayed about it*

I fell in love with My Father's World. I loved how the curriculum was laid out for the parent. I also appreciated that they provided all the books and supplies that I would need for the school year...open the box and there is your school year (not quite, but you get the picture). We decided that My Father's World would be a great curriculum to use for Grace, Naomi, and Sophia. I am able to teach the three of them Bible, history, science, and vocabulary together. I have different math and English programs for them, but everything else they can do together. Since Micaela is starting kindergarten this year, (she'll be 5 in November) I chose to do My Father's World with her as well. She is super excited about starting school. Joella will be doing things with Micaela just to keep her busy. They loved their first day of classes today. We sang some songs, started constructing our Creation book, did a craft, and learned some letters and numbers. 

I'm excited to see how this all plays out. I have laid out a general schedule for our days. Abigail agreed to help me out with the two little ones for the first 1to 1 1/2 hours of each school day. She will read books to them that go along with their school lessons, do crafts, etc. During that time, I will do Bible, history, science, and vocabulary with the three other girls (Grace, Naomi & Sophia). Once we are done, Abigail goes upstairs and starts her work (more on her next). I then work with Micaela and Joella while Grace, Naomi, and Sophia work on handwriting, math, reading, and anything they can do on their own. When Micaela and Joella are done, I then work with the girls individually on their spelling and math. After lunch, I take about 45 minutes to work with Grace and Naomi on English using the Classical Conversations Essentials and writing program. If everything goes well, we will then end the day practicing piano, learning Spanish on Rosetta stone, and typing (we didn't start those today, we have to slowly work our way back into this routine). Everyone does extra reading at night before bed. *whew* I'm exhausted just writing about it. Today was our first day and it went well. My days will fly jumping between so many different grades and subjects. Hopefully we will fall into a nice routine in the next few days.

As noted above, Abigail is doing something different from the other girls. We decided to keep her in Classical Conversations (CC) since she was entering a new stage in her education. Abigail is enrolled in Challenge A. So far I am super impressed with the program and how independent Abigail already is just two weeks into the program. Each week Abigail attends "seminar" with other students where they go over the material and information for the next week. They cover a few different areas: math, logic (clear reasoning and apologetics), Latin, biology and natural sciences, literature and persuasive writing, and geography. Some of the things that Abigail is responsible for doing during the week includes: making her own note cards and memorizing them, doing a weekly science research paper, doing her Latin homework, reading literature and writing persuasive papers on an issue, and my favorite...learning how to label and draw the world. By the end of the year, Abigail will be able to draw the world and will be responsible for labeling over 200 countries and features. I'm super excited to see how much Abigail will grow this year. 

If you think about us, pray for me during the school year. It can be hard to wear the hat of both mom and teacher. Pray that I run this race with perseverance and don't give up or waiver in my commitment. I know that God will give me the strength to complete the task He has called me to do.

Here are some pictures from our first day of school.

Abigail: 7th grade

Grace: 6th grade

Naomi: 5th Grade

Sophia: 2nd Grade

Micaela: Kindergarten 

Joella: Preschool (really it is a way to keep her busy and our of her sister's way). I have tons of just fun things for her to do. We believe in letting kids be kids as long as possible. 

Working with the three older girls this morning

Art today was learning what it would be like to be an artist like Joni Erickson Tada. We used our mouths to try to draw a butterfly.

Abigail working with the two little ones while I taught the three older girls. She did a great job. She says she wants to be a teacher, so I am just preparing her early.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grace...God's Gift

Psalm 127:3 "Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord."

Eleven years ago our lives were forever changed by the birth of our second child, our daughter Grace. Throughout the years Grace has been such a blessing to our family. She has a tender heart for things of God, she loves taking care of her little sisters, enjoys art and writing songs, is a reluctant math student and reader (unless she finds a series she really enjoys), enjoys playing with friends but also enjoys her own quiet time alone, she loves plain color shirts, and you never know what is going to come out of Grace's mouth. We had a bumpy start with Grace in the hospital. She started turning blue a few hours after being born. After a few days in the hospital and many drops in her oxygen levels, the doctors finally determined that she had really bad acid reflux. She would hold her breath the pain hit. The doctor said that she was a little "lazy" which we find funny now looking back because we see "lazy" pop it's head when it comes to math and cleaning her room. We are so thankful to God for blessing our family with Grace. As she says, her name is an important one from the Bible (she's also super humble! Ha!). We are thankful for the reminder of God's great grace for us when we see Grace's name.

One week old (2004)








Minnie Mouse pancake for her date breakfast (since Wayne can't drive, Grace graciously said we all could go on her special date breakfast before church)

Yep, she had a brownie after her huge pancake...enough sugar? Nope, she is now finishing up a piece of her ice cream birthday cake from last night. See pictures below for her party pictures.

She wanted a basketball theme this year.

The girls celebrating Grace's birthday

"All for me!"

Happy birthday Grace! You are a joy to have in our family.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Psalm 128:1-4 "Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord."

Peaches...that word sums up my life for the past four days and why I have been MIA. Saturday morning Wayne and I woke up early before our prayer meeting at church and went out to pick peaches. Our neighbor's peach tree was overflowing and no one was going to eat them. So, we took our buckets over to their house and picked peaches...too many peaches we later realized. Here is a picture of the peaches drying on sheets in our garage. The picture is a little deceptive. It doesn't look like that many peaches...until you are the one blanching and cutting them up...for four days!! 

I knew that this would be a big project, I just didn't realize how big. I told Wayne it would be worth it get peach products. I just had to buy some sugar and give of my time/labor (I had jars, water and peaches). The end result of all my labor is the follwoing: 33 quarts of peaches, 5 quarts of peach puree (for smoothies), 2 quarts of peach jam, 5 pints of peach jam, and 8 1/2 pints of peach jam. My pantry is overflowing with the fruit of my labor. It's a good thing we decided to start school after Grace's birthday. Monday is going to be a huge adjustment for all of us (I'll post about that another day). 

Some of my peaches (made in a super light syrup so they are more healthy). *side note in picture: I love my Young Living diffuser and oils!*

The fruit of my labor this summer...peaches, peach jam, peach puree, and strawberry jam. Notice the huge bag of hot cereal that we still need to eat from our month of eating like an orphan (back in February) that we never got to finish. Maybe this next year we can try that again...


Tomorrow I'll write and update on Wayne. He and a friend are going to Pontiac Prison to work with Angel Tree. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Take Me Deeper

Psalm 62:5-8 "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."

Have you ever sat in a church and felt that the service was just for you? Have you ever sat there and felt the Holy Spirit prodding you? Maybe it was to forgive someone, or maybe it was to change something in your life that you know was wrong...it could be anything that God is wanting to teach you. That was my experience yesterday morning at church. The songs, the prayers, the scripture reading, and then the message were exactly what I needed to hear. On Friday I was telling my sister Sarah about a fear that I was struggling with in my prayer life. To understand my "fear", let me walk you back a few months (almost a year now). There is a very special person in my life who I have been fervently praying for God to reach. Last year I started praying that God would use any means necessary to reach her. After praying that prayer, the girls and I were in a car accident (you can read more details here). This stirred a little reaction in the individual, but I guess God wasn't done reaching her. I kept fervently praying and fasting for her. I told God whatever it takes, whatever means were necessary, it would be worth it for this person's eternal soul. Not long after praying that, we found out Wayne had brain cancer. These could be two totally unrelated events, but I honestly believe that God was answering my earnest prayer to reach this individual. Of course when I prayed that prayer I was thinking He would use other means to reach this person...maybe losing their job, a break up, losing a pet, etc. It never crossed my mind that God might use our family to reach this person. 

Now that you have that background, maybe you can understand the fear I've been battling. I have been feeling God calling me to pray the same prayer again for this person (whatever it takes Lord, use it). I have been terrified to pray that way though because I'm afraid God will take Wayne in response to that prayer. My fear is probably totally unwarranted, but I have been struggling with this for a few weeks. Do I respond in obedience and pray, not knowing what the "whatever it takes" entails? Or do I run like Jonah believing that "Nineveh" (aka this special person) isn't worth it? I hadn't vocalized this fear until I talked to my sister Sarah on Friday. Life went as normal on Saturday and then Sunday came along. God used the service on Sunday to speak very clearly to me. He spoke so clearly to my heart it was hard to miss the message. 

The first time I heard His still small voice was during the song "Oceans". Here are the lyrics that spoke so deeply to me. Really the whole song spoke to me...

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I felt God reminding me of how He has never failed me...why would He start now? Do I want to go deeper? Do I want my faith to be made stronger? If so, I need to step out of the boat (where I feel secure and safe) and step out on the water and trust God. I have to keep my eyes fixed on Him and not allow the waves to distract me from what God is calling me to do. He was telling me gently, "Rebecca, you know what I want you to do. Trust me and pray."

If that song wasn't providing a clear enough message, the next song completed the message. We sang "It Is Well" by Todd Fields. "It Is Well" is one of my favorite hymns of all times. Here are the lyrics to this version:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, You have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well, it is well; 
through the storm I am held;
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul

It is well, it is well; 
through the storm I am held;
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, it is well; 
God has won, Christ prevailed;
It is well, it is well with my soul

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
Even so, it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul It is well, 

it is well with my soul

God used this song to gently remind my heart that even if He were to answer my prayer in the way that I fear, He would be with me every step of the way. He will provide me what I need and I will proclaim that "it is well with my soul". He is faithful and will be with me regardless of what I face in life. God is so gentle and patient with us! Okay Lord, one leg out of the boat...

God wasn't giving me a break on Sunday. The scripture reading for the morning was Psalm 62:5-8 (see above). This is a portion of scripture that God has been using in my life throughout this difficult journey. God was reminding me that He is my rock and I can trust in Him at all times, regardless of the situation. He has been so faithful throughout this whole process, why would He change that now? Okay Lord, lifting my other leg up...

The final reminder came through the sermon. Part of the sermon was on the message from Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Jesus is telling us to come to Him. We are weak and when we yield to Him, He helps carry our burden. His yoke is easy because He is carrying all the weight for us. It really is a beautiful picture. Imagine two oxen. One ox is weak and can hardly carry the load (that would be us), another ox gets added to the mix (Jesus). That ox helps carry the heavy burden. He does all the work. As we are walking along, we can look to the side and see this ox by our side the whole way. Jesus does this for us. As we yield to Him and take up His yoke, we find that He is right there along side of us every step of the journey. He carries us and our burdens. 

Okay God...I got and I get the message. You want me to yield all my fears to You!! You have this and You'll be by my side carrying me. I just have to trust You and step out of the boat. I want my faith to grow stronger, go deeper, and I want to follow whatever God calls me to do, regardless of how difficult it is. I remember having a dream back in January where I was told that I only had two days to live. I remember looking at Wayne and telling him that I had so many people to tell about that Lord. When I woke up from the dream, I recall telling Wayne that I really need to live like that every day. None of us know what tomorrow holds for us. Unlike the Hollywood version of heaven, we can't get up to there and tell God we need more time to get our life straight or tell more people about Him. We only have a set number of days, which none of us know. How are we going to live our lives? I want to be ready for my bridegroom when He comes and want to be found a faithful servant who was doing the work of my master. So, the first thing I am going to do is pray fervently for this special person in my life. I am going to pray that God uses whatever means are necessary to reach her heart for Him. May God receive all the glory and honor in this prayer!

May we all long to have God take us deeper in our walk with Him!! Pardon me as I jump off this boat and start walking...


Wayne went to the doctor this morning for his monthly appointment. We are scheduled to begin cycle 4 of chemo next Thursday. So far Wayne is doing amazing. God has been so good to us! In light of reading some bad news on the Facebook GBM page, I'm even more amazed at how God is working in Wayne's life. All the glory and honor goes to Him!! There is nothing we are doing that is bringing about the results Wayne is experiencing. It can only be the hand of God working in His life. Still, in light of all the bad news, I plan on not taking any moment with Wayne for granted. Everyone should go love on their spouse and family members. Life is too short to hold on to expectations and arguments that divide us. God reminded me of that this morning as we drove to Wayne's appointment, instead of taking the train as we had planned. We would have missed the train if we tried to catch it and traffic was phenomenal going downtown. I had worked up in my mind this peaceful train ride and amazing walk (4 miles round trip). What could be better then getting time with Wayne and exercise? When my plans got messed up, I became slightly upset. It took almost the whole ride to Northwestern for me to let go of my expectations and enjoy the change of plans. We ended up having a great morning together and even got a good laugh at my expense. Go love on your family and don't waste a minute of your life here on earth!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Life's Not Fair

Isaiah 55:8-11 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways', declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."

I have been pondering some things lately. I recently learned of a few "friends" on my GBM Facebook page who have died (or their loved one has died) from their cancer. Some people also announced that their brain cancer (or loved one's cancer) has returned with a vengeance. I saw one announcement yesterday regarding a young man in his 20's who was diagnosed two months before Wayne who died yesterday. I read this right after I excitedly announced on Facebook that Wayne was feeling so good that he took a ten mile bike ride with me. Seeing these two different outcomes has made me stop and think. I have been pondering how life at times appears unfair. Why would one person do so well and another one succumb to their disease? It's not something I have an answer for at this time, and may never have one. 

The only thing that I can rest in is knowing who God is and knowing that He is sovereign and in control. Ultimately, I believe that all of your prayers for Wayne has made a tremendous difference in our lives. God is using your prayers to bring Himself glory through our trial. 

While watching the "Behold Your God" series, I was introduced to a Scottish preacher from the 1800s named Robert M'Cheyne. I love this quote from him: "You will never find Jesus so precious as when the world is one vast howling wilderness. Then He is like a rose blooming in the midst of the desolation, a rock rising above the storm." I have found this to be so true during our storm. In the midst of the dark valley, God has been that rock to us. One could say that life wasn't fair to M'Cheyne as well. God was using him mightily in Scotland and yet he died at the young age of 29 from a fever. As you study the life of M'Cheyne, you find a man who was devoted to God. He spent his short time on earth pursuing God with a passion. In his journal they found an entry that said, "Rose early to seek God, and found Him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company?" Good question...one I started asking myself. Studying his life has made me stop and ponder my life and choices that I make each day. What do I do when I first wake up in the morning...check Facebook, email, texts. Is that really important in life? God has been working in my life challenging me in this area.

M'Cheyne was known for not only loving God, but how he loved people. It is said that when M'Cheyne would walk down the street, people would take their hats off to him. There once was a visitor who was a little confused when this happened and a town drunk told him, "There goes a man who loves your soul." His Bible was actually tear stained from caring for people and praying for them. He said once, "A man who loves you the most is the man who tells you the most truth about yourself." How true is that? Sometimes we can't see things in our lives and we need loving people to point us back to Christ. Someone who truly loves you will speak truth into your life, not just what you want to hear that makes you feel good. Sometimes pain is good. It may not feel like it at the time, but in the long run it is good for us. I have seen that in my own life. God has allowed others to point things out that I didn't see (or want to see). Although it was painful, it was so rewarding at the end!

M'Cheyne was also a man who sought out holiness. "A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more." Wow...that one struck a chord with me. How much time do I spend on my knees before God? Not enough... He also said, "Live nearer to God, and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities." I have seen this in my life. The more I learn about God, the more the world loses its appeal. It is said of M'Cheyne that "His main anxiety was to know the mind of Christ". Okay...this totally hit home with me as God is at constant work in my life about things I get anxious about that are silly. (There is a reason I have Matthew 6:25-34 and Phil. 4:6-7). 

It was out of this love for Jesus that motivated him to love others. He is quoted saying, "The Christian is a person who makes it easy for others to believe in God." After reading that I asked myself. Am I a person who makes it easy for others to believe in God or do I give God a bad name? I so long to be someone who points people to Jesus in not only what I say, but in how I live and how I love. I want my life to glorify God and for them to know that I love them the way M'Cheyne loved those around him. 

Although M'Cheyne only lived 29 years on this earth, I believe that he lived those years to the fullest for Christ. That is my desire...to live every moment I have on this earth to the fullest for Christ. 

"Live for eternity. A few days more and our journey is done." Robert M'Cheyne

James 4:14 "Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."

Psalm 144:4 "Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow."

Psalm 102:11 "My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass."

May we all strive to become more like Christ so that the world around us says, "There goes a man/woman who loves your soul." May we point people to Christ with our short lives here on earth and may we live for eternity!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Family Fun #2

Psalm 8:1-9 
"O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
You have set Your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
You have established strength because of Your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,
what is man that You are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands;
    You have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is Your name in all the earth!"

Wednesday: August 12th

On Wednesday we took the kids to the pool for the afternoon. The pool not only had a kiddie pool, but it also had a splash pad for the little ones. If you want to wear your kids out, take them to the pool for five hours...water and sun is perfect combination to wear them out.

If any of our local friends want to join us, we plan on visiting this same splash pad a few times this next week (the pool is now closed but the splash pad will be open and it is now FREE!!)

Thursday: August 13th

On Thursday we took the crew to the zoo. We attended the dolphin show and the Flight of Feathers show. It was a beautiful, but very warm day for the zoo. We still managed to visit a lot of animals and we all had fun. Spending time at the zoo is always fun...visiting the zoo with family is even better!

The girls told me to raise my hand when they asked for an adult participant...and I was selected. I was asked to sit on a bench and take pictures of this bird flying right toward us. It landed on a piece of wood behind our head.

We sat in the front row hoping to get wet and we hardly got a splash. Everyone was hoping to get cooled down since it was so hot outside.


Friday: August 14th

Friday was a fabulous day. Wayne was feeling well enough to go to the beach with us. Karen's family has never been to Chicago and the kids were hoping to see some extra states while they were here. We decided to take them up to Michigan to go to the beach. We chose Warren Dunes since we had never been there but had heard wonderful things about the beach. When we arrived, red flags were out warning people not to enter the water. In order to redeem the time, we ate an early lunch and then decided to hike up the huge dune. That was a workout! It was extra hard since I ended up having to carry, or drag, Joella up the dune. The kids had a blast, once they were at the top. By the time we were done hiking, the flag was changed to yellow and we had fun playing in the lake.

The cousins at Lake Michigan

Chloe and Naomi

Grace riding the waves

Looking for rocks...by the end of the day I think she had a collection in her swimsuit

Watching the kids from the comfort of our chairs

Cousins at the top of the dune (Shane and Grace disappeared for the picture)


Micaela burying herself in the sand

Enjoying the view after their hard work reaching the top

Look at the height of the dune!

Saturday: August 15th

Saturday was a relaxing day. We needed a day to relax after a busy week of fun. We took a family walk to Lake Katherine. While we were there, we took some pictures of the family. On the way home, we stopped at 7-11 for some slurpees, which were super refreshing on such a hot day. We had a wonderful time with Karen and her family!

Cousins in age order

Finally a shot of all of us (but the random person we asked to take the picture wasn't very good at centering the picture...Wayne's head was almost cut off)

Hansen Family

Wayne and his sister Karen


Psalm 31:19 "How abundant are the good things that You have stored up for those who fear You, that You bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You"

Thank you for all of the prayers for Wayne during his third cycle of chemo. This cycle was so much easier on Wayne. He had a ton of energy and felt really good the whole time. He rebounded this time from his treatment quickly. This was evident in the fact that he was able to make it to the dunes on Friday. On Saturday, Wayne was feeling so well that we rode our bikes to get his weekly blood draw. God is so good! Thank you again for all of the prayers!!