Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Reflection on God's Faithfulness...


Southern Psalms - location of the Calling All Women's Conference


"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen."  Ephesians 3:20-21

This time last week, I was battling Satan.  I was scheduled to be one of the speaker's at a Women's Conference and Satan was telling me it was impossible.  He has ways of keeping us quiet and at first he was doing pretty good with me.  Telling me I was too quiet and shy to speak in front of people.  Which is partly true - I am more of a quiet person.  Even my own husband said he'd never heard me speak a solid 15-20 minutes!  Yet, the part he was leaving out was that while I couldn't- God could!  I knew it was something God wanted me to do.  At first, I tried to be like Moses and pray for an Aaron but that didn't work either!  God said I had to do it. 

So, the way I saw it, I could either believe Satan's lies and live defeated or I could step out on faith and trust God to use me as a willing vessel for Him. 

So, I had spent the last few weeks - months really- in a spiritual war with Satan.  I had been trying to guard my mind and come back at him with scriptures such as Philippians 4:6-8, 13; 2 Timothy 1:7; and James 4:6-8.  And there I was at the moment of truth, I was the next speaker and I literally felt nauseated.  My legs were shaking, I even wondered if I'd make it up to that podium without falling.  But I did!  And when I did, a peace
that passeth all understanding took over.  God was faithful once again!  There was no way to explain it, except it was a God thing!



I was able to share a little about the importance of being a wife and mom and what God has done for our family, including providing a way for me to be a stay at home mom.  Also, what He has revealed to me during this time on living out my priorities and being more intentional with my time.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to be a part of this Women's Conference.  No doubt, throughout the process, it was me that grew the most.  First of all, in just reflecting and seeing how real He had been over the past seven years.  I could now look back and see that even in my times of uncertainty how He was working all things out for the good of me and my family.   Secondly, as God continued to stretch me and make me step outside my comfort zone, He drew me closer to Him and revealed once again that when I need Him the most - He's always there and will never fail me. 

The conference was on Saturday, then on Sunday we wrapped up another year of Classical Conversations with our end of the year celebration.  Once more, I just sat back and reflected on God's goodness.  So many questions I had when we began this homeschooling journey- to be honest, so many questions I still have- but as I looked over the last two years, I could once again see God's presence woven throughout! 

First of all, I can see His presence in our Classical Conversations group.  I was probably one of the biggest skeptics of all as I went to my first CC info meeting.  I, who had been working with preschoolers for several years, thought it was absolutely ludicrous to try and teach my preschooler a song that lasted almost 20 minutes and covered the entire history of the world-and that was just scratching the surface of their memory work!  However, they sucked me in with their motto "To Know God and to Make Him Known" and the idea of community as I wanted my children to still be involved with other kids.  As I looked around Sunday and saw the community God had given us to help raise our children, I was so thankful for the wonderful families that truly lived out His will for their lives.  

Not only were we teaching our children facts, but  more importantly, we were teaching them what a community truly should look like. On a weekly basis my children were seeing families, that truly valued children and others over material things-which to be quiet honest is so rare in today's society. 
We look so very different within each family:  some with foster children, some with adopted children, some with children from other countries, some with many children, some with one, some seriously struggling with health issues within their families, some with financial issues, and I could go on and on. 
Yet, here we all were encouraging each other, lending a helping hand and trying to teach our children more than anything else - to know God and to make Him known! 
Because really, is there any other reason we should be educating our children? And you know what else - I love that timeline song!  




Secondly, God's presence has been evident through our time at home together "schooling".  In case you didn't know school comes from the Greek word "schole" which means "leisure".   The Greeks considered it a pleasure to be done working and to sit around and read and discuss ideas.  That's how some of the greatest philosophers  and ideas came.  Looking back, it's been in those moments we've slowed down that we've learned the most about each other, the world around us and most importantly, God.  While the future still holds many uncertainties, I'm so thankful for these years at home to give my children a God centered worldview and a strong foundation to build upon. 

I know this has probably been one of my most scattered post ever written; however, after last weekend, it's where my mind has been this week:  Rejoicing over God's goodness and faithfulness throughout our journey so far! 


In closing, I encourage you to not let Satan fill your mind and life with his lies.  Don't live defeated.  Instead, guard your mind and life by knowing and trusting in God's word.  Speaking at the women's conference and homeschooling are only two instances where I've stepped out on faith and witnessed His faithfulness.  Had I of believed Satan's lies or just went with what today's society said I would've missed these two HUGE blessings!   It doesn't always make sense to us, but that's because we only see a few of the pieces of the puzzle at a time.  God has a plan for your life that is "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" - step out on faith and live it!  Then you too will be reflecting on His faithfulness...



 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Look Inside Our Homeschool Week

One of the questions I often get asked is "What does a homeschool day look like?"  That's really a tough question to answer because it's different for everyone and even our days often look different from each other; that's one of the beauties of homeschooling!  However, as we wind down this year-I wanted a reminder of what some of our weeks looked like so here's what last week looked like for us:

Monday
was an actual "class" day - as in we were in the "classroom" in our basement.  We start earlier on Monday mornings (8:00 am) to be done by 10:30 and head to piano. We begin our mornings with our CC memory work, followed by "carpet time" (calendar, pledge, weather, etc). Then I do reading/language with Miss Priss (Abeka) while the other two do seatwork and tray time (Confessions of a Homeschooler, 1+1+1=1).  Then I swap and Miss Priss does her seat work while I work with the other two. Then I swap back and do math with Miss Priss while the other two do more seatwork and puzzles or another center. One last swap and I do math with the other two (Math U See) while
Miss Priss does her math seat work.  Totally confused yet?   
 
We then head to piano and run errands!  When we get back after lunch, we usually have read aloud time.  This week we read James and the Giant Peach in preparation for our field trip to see the play on Thursday. 
 
 

Tuesday is our Classical Conversations community day. We meet and the children learn their new memory work, do art/music, science and a presentation.  This week we spent some time reviewing and preparing for our end of the year celebration.  Then we tested straw bridges and egg crates that we had built in previous weeks.  It was so fun watching the kids' faces as we tested their projects!
 

This week for presentation it was just a show and tell. Miss Priss wanted to take her Bible for her presentation.  Ladybug took a new purse she had bought while we were on vacation.

 


Wednesday was a "traveling school day" as I've come to call them. Since the weather has been sooo nice lately, we've been putting our school work, some snacks and a blanket into a wagon and taking school on the go!  We walk until we find a comfy place to sit - usually by the creek or a pond.   This day it was by the pond!

 
On our walk back, I had a few extra "students"!
 
 
 
 
Thursday was a field trip to see James and the Giant Peach with our CC group.  It's always fun seeing a play or watching a movie after reading the book!
 
 
 
Friday was supposed to be back in the classroom.  However, my Mom called and decided she wanted to go to Vintage Market Days and wanted to know if we wanted to go with her.  Had it of been the beginning of the school year, I wouldn't have.  I would have totally stuck to my schedule. However, what teacher doesn't get a little lax toward the end of the school year?  So, we loaded all of our worksheets onto clipboards for the car and went along with her!
 
 
We were glad we did because other than scoring an awesome bread bowl centerpiece for my kitchen table, we also met an author's husband and discovered a new set of books.  It was interesting listening to him tell about how his wife had taken her childhood experiences on a farm and written a series.  Each book includes original recipes, songs, and a character lesson.  Miss Priss chose the first two in the series and I can't wait to read them!
 


Down on Friendly Farm



We made it back home a little after lunch and managed to get in some classroom time finishing up James and the Giant Peach and doing a few assignments on it. 
 
We wrapped up our school week with a family movie night.  Any guesses what we watched?  You bet!  James and the Giant Peach.  We had gummy worms, peach rings, and peach soda with popcorn.  Not surprisingly, out of the movie, play and book - the book was my favorite :)
So there you have it - a crazy week of homeschooling! 
 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Valentine's Day/100 Day of School


This week we celebrated both Valentine's Day and 100 Days of School!  We kicked off the week with Valentine's Day.  We'd actually did a few activities and trays last week. 



Ladybug and Taz did a tray where they sorted candy hearts by colors and then counted them.  We discussed which color had the least, most, etc.  With Miss Priss we worked on poetry and she wrote her first little poem.  She also graphed candy hearts.  I have to admit Valentine's Day seems to fall a little short when it comes to great books but we read several, including my favorite:  The Biggest Valentine Ever

So come Tuesday, Valentine's Day, we just kept it pretty simple.  (Of course!)  As I've mentioned before, we like to create a special meal on Valentine's Day.   We started the day by making a Valentine Trifle for our Valentine meal.  It's easy, basically just layering so great to do with kids.
Taz adding in a layer of whipped cream.


Look Mom, we're pretending like it's snow!
That is unless you leave the cool whip container out and they decide to play in the "snow".  (Side Note: We were studying snow the week before and had a sensory bin of shaving cream and baking soda which looked very similar to cool whip and I had been allowing them to play in it.)

It wouldn't be Valentine's Day without cards, so we made those next.  I found this
Polka Dot heart card from A Thrifty Mom.  The first couple went well but then they decided to venture off and just do their own thing and that was alright too! 


About half way through making our cards, Taz started to say he wanted me because his head was hurting.  He proceeded to just lay it down on the table and sit very still which is SO not him!  Sure enough, he had a fever.  When he's sick he just wants to be held.  (Is it terrible, that I sometimes like it when he's a little sick, so I get extra cuddle time and less cleaning up messes????) 

That kind of put a damper on anything else I had planned.  Instead, I went upstairs and watched Paw Patrol with him while the girls finished up their cards.  He fell asleep after about 30 minutes and I knew we just had a little time to finish preparing for our Valentine Day!   The day before after piano lesson, I had let the girls go in Dollar Tree and pick up a few decorations.  So for a grand total of $7 we were ready to decorate!  They decided they wanted the meal to be in their playhouse.  Since we hadn't been out there much this winter, it first had to be cleaned up a little.  So the girls started cleaning while I started pulling out the decorations we were going to use.  Then we all set the table together, added some candles in the windows, an electric fireplace, and we finished just a few minutes to spare before Taz woke back up! 

About an hour before Daddy got home, the girls started getting ready as they wanted to wear their princess dresses and make up.  I had planned on dressing up a little too, a shower at least would have been awesome!  But with Taz not feeling well - that didn't happen!  That's ok though!  Dinner was just as good in a t-shirt with juice spilled down it!


Fortunately by Friday everyone felt well for our 100th Day of School celebration and we even invited GiGi over for the fun.  She was a little offended and wondering if the kids thought she was 100, but joined right in with us!  Here's a few pictures from the day:

100th Day Breakfast







 


 




      

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Redeemed: HIStory for my Life Wrap-Up



Here we are at the end of another study!  I hope you find yourself with a deeper meaning of being redeemed and a clearer vision for your part in God's story of redemption.  As a wrap up, I wanted to go back to some of the questions I asked in the first blog post and answer them.



What does it mean to be redeemed?

It means we belong to Christ.  He has bought us with His precious blood.  In doing so, we have been freed from sin.  Christ is constantly working on us, perfecting us until that final day of redemption. 

Why is redemption necessary?

Adam and Eve sold us out to sin.  (Genesis 3) We were condemned to a life of sin and death.  It's easy to blame them, but truth be told, if not them, then it would have been us.  We are all sinful by nature.  (Rom. 3:23)   Sin separated us from God.  Sacrifices of goats and calves were made but they only put the sin off temporarily.  Eternal redemption could only be obtained by the perfect blood of Christ.  (Hebrews 9:12)   

What does a redeemed life look like?

It looks like the children of Israel standing at the Red Sea with Pharaoh's army behind them and dry ground ahead, choosing to move forward in faith rather than return to a life of complacency. 

It looks like a young boy without fear, slaying a giant with just a slingshot.  Then a man who had an affair with another man's wife, but then came to sorrowful repentance.   

It looks like a child being afraid to sleep at night for fear of dying, and God saving her soul and giving her sweet sleep.  It looks like a teenager questioning God and God showing her without a doubt He's real.  It looks like a young married couple leaving everything behind and trusting their jobs, home and future to God and God providing.  It looks like a Mom with a messy bun, pajama pants, and a cup of coffee pouring her soul out once more so God can fill her up with what she needs for the day.   


The children of Israel were never without, even in the wilderness.  David had some heartache over his sin, but ended as being known as one of Israel's greatest kings, part of Christ's bloodline and a man after God's own heart.  And that child, young girl, wife, and mom - I can personally tell you out of those instances came some of her biggest blessings!  A redeemed life looks like a surrendered life.  

What is hindering us from being free to live the life God has called us to live?   

I think perhaps the more accurate question is as Paul phrased it to the church:  "...who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" (Galatians 5:7)

The who is ourselves; the what is anything we are putting between us and God.  Christ has already freed us from all sin, so if we are holding onto it; it's not because Christ is wanting us to; it's because we are choosing to.  It may seem like the safe thing to do; but in reality it is the crippling thing to do.  It's stealing our joy, our peace, our freedom and the wonderful life God has for us. 

What is God's plan for the redeemed now and in the future?

His plan for the redeemed is to keep molding and perfecting us until the final day of redemption when He will return and we shall live with Him forever.  I think Paul does a great job in Titus 2 summing up God's plan of redemption:  past, present and future.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort and rebuke with all authority.  Let no man despise thee.

Friend, I hope you've seen throughout this study the redeemed life is a good life, the best life!  It's not about being perfect.  It's about understanding that He has already conquered and freed us from sin.  It's not anything about our goodness, but it's about His.  God has a plan for us, but we have to get ourselves out of the way.  We have to realize that apart from Him we are nothing; with Him we have everything.  Being redeemed, is about being His.  Allowing Him to use our good, bad and ugly for His glory.  For one day our lives will be nothing but history.  Then once we do, we will experience the incredible journey He has for us - HIStory for our life!

I would love to hear what God has shown you through this study!

“There are cracks in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

P is for Penguins

We wrapped up our unit on penguins.  I've been teaching for ten years now and I don't know why this was my first time to do a unit on penguins.  They are so much fun!  We kicked off our unit by watching March of the Penguins.  I admit I didn't make it all the way through the movie, but then I rarely do now a days.  One thing I did realize though is that compared to penguins, parenting my little humans is a breeze! 

We spent the next week researching penguins - especially emperor penguins.  We labeled a penguin and recorded what we learned on these sheets.  We also explored the National Geographic Kids website for penguin information and some fun videos!
 
 


For our reading, we read a few non-fiction books we had checked out from the library.  Our two favorite fiction books were One Cool Friend and Mr. Popper's Penguins.  After reading Mr. Popper's Penguins we discussed what it would be like to have a pet penguin of our own.  Using the writing process, "Miss Priss" also wrote an opinion piece


We combined fine motor skills, colors, shapes and art together to create these awesome penguin pictures.  I loved how unique these all turned out!
 
 
 
We wrapped up our penguin unit with a family fun night!  We watched Mr. Popper's Penguins (which the kids and I were disappointed to learn that it was nothing like the book other than there is a Mr. Popper and he has penguins).  We also made some penguin cupcakes and had a relay race.  For the relay race we had to balance a ball between our feet and pass it off to our partner, much like the mom and dad penguins do.  We couldn't let it "hit the ice" or it would break and we lost! 
 
 
 

 
 
During our two week penguin study, we also did the letter "M" with my two youngest.  The highlight being playing in the mud and making mudpies!  We also made monkey puppets and had muffins and milk with Mom one morning! 
 
 
 
 


Fun times!  Now on to our snow unit!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Best is Yet to Come: Keeping a Vision for the Future



"Where there is no vision, the people perish:  but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." Proverbs 29:18

I can't believe we are already on our next to last week of this study!  We've looked at the past and our present now this week we will be looking at what's to come.  It's easy to look around us today and the future looks rather bleak but (to steal a line from one of my favorite former pastors:)  "I have good news - I've read the back of the book and we win!" 

As a mom I worry about what the future holds for my children. However, the Bible tells me not to worry or be anxious about anything. So as the redeemed, how do we keep from being discouraged as we see what's happening all around us today? 

Helen Keller said, "The only one thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision."  I often find myself with sight but no vision.  Seeing all that's wrong, but not focusing on my Redeemer - the only one that can fix it.  When I look at my children and other children, I should realize more than ever there is still a cause.  My desire for them, more than anything, is to follow Christ.  What I'm doing today is affecting an eternity - and not just mine but theirs too. 

I absolutely love hymns and love hearing the stories that lie behind them.  One of my favorites here lately is "Be Thou My Vision."  If you aren't familiar with it, here's the first verse:


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

 

It was a hymn originally derived from lyrics from an Irish poet, Dallan Forgail.   Dallan was a blind man, yet he had vision!  In a world where all around him was dark, He had God as his light.  He is now known as the best Irish poet of the 6th Century and the words he penned are still comforting and bringing peace to us 1500 years later.  His desire was to see things through the eyes of God.  Can you only imagine what this life would be like if that was everyone's sincere desire?   

As we go throughout our study this week, we will be looking at some truths about our future as one of the redeemed:

  1. We are sealed until the day of redemption.  God's plan of redemption is perfect.  As evil as Satan is and as evil as this world may become - nothing can pluck us from His hand.  We are His - focus on that!
  2. We are a spiritual work in progress.  God is refining us and will continue to do so until the end of time.  Through the waiting, through the trials, through repentance we are growing closer to perfection through Him-focus on that!   
  3. We will go through some trials here - Christ did and we certainly aren't above Him - yet hang in there it's all going to be worth it in the end!   The sufferings we go through down here will not begin to compare to eternal glory - focus on that! 
  4. While it's great to think about the end - there's some good times ahead of us here too!  God didn't leave us alone.  We have the Holy Spirit with us to guide us and comfort us -focus on that!     
  5. We should be looking for the day when He shall return.  A day when we no longer have to worry about distractions, worry or separations - but our eyes will forever be on Him - focus on that!

Our challenge this week is to spend some extra time studying and meditating on what is to come.  I think in this era of information and technology we are living, perhaps Satan's biggest weapon is distraction.  We get so wrapped up in the frivolous things of this world, we forget eternity!  We spend our time focused on things that won't matter tomorrow.  Don't let Satan distract you from keeping the end in sight.  Let this be a week of refocusing our vision.  When we have a strong vision of our final goal, then we will be able to prioritize and accomplish what needs to be done today. 






Sunday, January 22, 2017

Let the Redeemed Say So!






Have you ever been pouring a drink but you aren't really paying attention and the next thing you know that cup has overflowed and the drink is everywhere?  Then you have a big mess to clean up.
 
That's kind of how we are with our own mouths sometimes.  We aren't really paying as close attention as we should be to what we are putting into our heads and into our hearts.  Before we know it, it's been filled up with negative statements, worldly issues, and tangible things.  So guess what spills out of our mouths?  Either offensive words or frivolous comments.
 
 
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil:  for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."  Luke 6:45
 
 
I'm writing this on Sunday afternoon and I imagine a good bit of us have spoken of Christ at some point today.  By the time you are actually reading this, it'll be at least Monday morning, if not later...what has our conversation been about now? 
 
We come in contact with our friends, colleagues and strangers everyday and we'd rather talk about our kids, their accomplishments, the latest sports scores, the weather, facebook statuses, any and everything but what really matters - Christ!
 
We look around and we wonder why there is so much hate and so little hope.  I believe it's not because Trump is our president; it's not because Obama was our president; I believe it's because we, as Christians, aren't showing Christ.   The redeemed of the Lord - aren't saying so!  Instead we sit quietly by-maybe out of shame, maybe out of being "politically correct", maybe because we don't want to hurt our friends' feelings.
 
This week our Bible study is entitled, "Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So!"  We will be looking at how we can share God with others, the attitude in which we should do so, and ways we can share Him even more with those right around us.
 
So as we go through this week, I pray that we all will slow down and turn our hearts and conversations toward Him.  May our lives reflect the hope we have found as one of the redeemed.   Let the redeemed say so!