And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Monday, May 15, 2017

Finding Peace

We went tent camping for a few days. If I talk about tent camping again, remind me it's crazy! Back in the day, we went camping with a group every year. Then when the kids were really young, we went on a really epic trip with a different group. One other time we took a short trip. We decided this year we would go for a few days with my parents.






I forgot how much work camping is. It rained the first 2 days. It was really cold the other 2 nights. It was a LOT of work. I remembered all the planning and shopping. I remembered setting up the tent. I did not remember some of the other aspects. Like all the stuff we had to take for 4 people. Like all the work to dig everything out of the cooler. Like someone complaining we forgot something every few minutes. Like never getting a minute to sit down because I had to trek to the bathrooms or fix food or get more ice or clean up the tent or dry everything from the rain. Dude.

So not the most fun we've ever had. We did have really great weather 1 day. That day the campground was FULL of campers and pop ups. There were only about 4 tents in the whole place. The campers were impressive too. Decks, full kitchens, bathrooms, big TVs....they had it all. And most of the families seemed just as cranky as we were! They were all constantly working too. Working to drain their plumbing (I thought of Robin Williams and RV several times). Working on decks and grills and fire pits. Parenting. It's work whether you are in a 15 year old tent or a recreational "home" that costs more than most yearly salaries.

Why do we do these things? Why work all week or all year to go on a vacation that's even more work?

I think we are usually seeking a break. As a mom of two, few things are actually ever a break. By the time I make plans, feed everyone, pack, do laundry, etc, there is never much rest involved. I do get to perform my daily duties in a different environment though.

We want to have fun. It's hard to make fun happen sometimes though. We always get in a few laughs but sometimes the stress of weathering a thunderstorm in a tent takes away one's sense of humor. While this trip didn't involve a lot of laughter, I'm sure we will laugh at the memories in the future. In many, many, many years.

Aren't we really just seeking peace? A little slice of calm away from all the daily responsibilities? As I looked around at the high end campers and shiny trucks to tow them, I realized once again that we'd pay almost anything for some peace. I wondered how many people in that campground knew where to find the real peace. We are in the Bible belt so most have probably heard of the Prince of Peace, but I don't know how many are actively seeking Him.

We had a little devotional time there at the lake yesterday morning since we were missing church. It was a bit strained (everything was during that trip!), but we ended up dwelling on Philippians 4:6-8 for awhile. It seemed appropriate.

6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The World

The world is so big yet so small. I've only seen a limited portion of God's great creation, but we now have connections in so many unique places. Years ago we met a lovely young lady who grabbed a little piece of our hearts.

She's been off on adventures for the last few years so we've only stayed connected via social media. She's decided to share some of her adventures with the world on a fun website called Run with the Unicorn. I hope you'll check it out.

She's being brave and doing something most people only dream about! I can't imagine traveling around Europe alone even at my age!

Are you a world traveler or do you stay close to home?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Write it Down

As the days tick away, I find that my memory isn't as stellar as it once was. I remember the days that I could remember phone numbers, addresses, and grocery lists without keeping them written down. Not so much anymore!

Now this post isn't about anything innovative or extraordinary. It's just something I had to start doing to help myself. I went to a local store and bought a little, inexpensive lined notebook. I brought it home and wrote "Prayer Journal" on it. I started writing down prayer requests in it. I know millions of people have done this, but it's new for me.



I've found that even if I don't have my little journal in front of me, I can remember the prayer requests better just because I wrote them down! I'm a firm believer in praying immediately when someone asks for prayer, but I also like to continually pray for those requests. This cheap little notebook is helping me do a better job of that.

I know some people use full size notebooks or larger journals. After buying this I purchased an actual prayer journal through a fundraiser. I think this little portable book may work best for me in the long run though. We had a friend/ Sunday School teacher who treasured his mother's prayer journals after her passing. What a legacy!

Do you write in a prayer journal or notebook?



Matthew 21:21-22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.  And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

Home Ec: Meal Planning & Prep

Back a few years ago, I did a summer of cooking with Apple. We worked on at least one meal a week together. Since it was summer, the time it took to teach her and clean up afterwards wasn't as stressful. I'm so glad we did that! Since then she has been able to jump in and help with meals as needed. The older she gets, the more she can cook! She enjoys being in the kitchen, and I enjoy the extra help.



I recently realized that Speedy has never spent much time in the kitchen. He jumps in and lends a hand occasionally, but I haven't done any meal preparation lessons with him. When we decided to take a full summer off from homeschool, I realized it would be a great time to hide some home ec lessons into our days! I know from experience that hot Tennessee summers can equal crabby, bored kids so I like to have some planned activities ready.

So we'd make sure to get in our cooking times this summer, I estimated the number of weeks we were taking off and told the kids they would each be cooking one supper per week. We went ahead and made a list for each one of meals they'd like to try. Apple's list includes meals that take a little more experience, and she will be planning sides to go with the main dishes as well. Speedy's list is a little easier but includes a variety so he can try different cooking methods.

While one can't wait and the other is hesitant, I am excited that we have a lot of meals already planned for the summer months! I'm also looking forward to working with them on budgeting money and time for the meals. After loudly declaring I would meal plan for all of 2017, I'm sad to report those plans fell to the wayside around February! I hope this summer of cooking will reinvigorate my efforts to get us through the year!

Do the kids help out in the kitchen at your house? Do you have any big plans for the summer?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fruits of the Spirit

When I start teaching a new group of kids, I always tend to default to the Fruits of the Spirit for the initial lesson or lessons. Galatians 5:22-23 is one of my favorite passages, and I love to share it with little people. My Elementary Wednesday night students have been working on one fruit per week.

Each week I peruse Pinterest for ideas to plan my lesson. I like to include several verses about the characteristic and a story from the Bible. We discuss the fruit and usually I read some scenarios to get them thinking about how the fruit translates to real life. I've used a variety of coloring pages, visuals, and fun to keep the lessons memorable.



For love, I found a cool way to "spread" red marker ink from one heart to other hearts. For joy,we made smiley face emojis, and I showed a piece of paper with 1 dot on it to show how we look for the fault instead of the good qualities. For peace, we colored thank you pages for our local police department. For patience, I took 3 sizes of rubber bands to demonstrate our patience stretching. For kindness, we squeezed out tubes of toothpaste to remind us we can't take back our words. For goodness, I used 2 pitchers of lemonade and added mud and rocks to one to demonstrate what happens when we let things that aren't good into our lives. For faithfulness, I took a bowl of water, a rock, and a sponge to demonstrate a faithful heart vs a hardened heart. We only have gentlesness and self-control left to learn. I plan to use some sand paper and cotton balls to talk about gentleness this week. I haven't quite decided about next week's visual, but I think it will involve candy!

You can see all the links I've saved for my Wednesday night class on this Pinterest board.

Our class is an hour to an hour and a half long so we've been working on learning 2 songs. The first is a Fruits of the Spirit song, and the second song is helping us memorize the Books of the OT. We've discussed the divisions of the OT books. We've also been playing lots of games to help us memorize them. The kids love playing a hot potato style game with a rubber ball. As they pass the ball around, they say the next book of the Bible. We've done some relay races with cards to put in order as well. I took an old Jenga set and wrote the names of the books on it. They like to build structures by putting the books in order. Last week, I made a big memory game with some cardstock. Once we've finished the Fruits of the Spirit lessons and learned our books of the Old Testament, we'll be singing our 2 songs on a Sunday morning.

Next we will work on the books of the New Testament and start another series of lessons. I'm leaning towards the Days of Creation.

Do you teach a children's class in your church? If so, what lessons are you working on right now?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Leadership

That word has been all over my heart this week. Leadership. What does it mean? How do we lead in a Godly manner? Why are we called to lead? As my husband and I dive into a local ministry, I find us already in positions of leadership. My husband is a natural leader. He amazes me with his ability to take charge in a firm but reasonable way. We shied away from this particular church because we knew we would be called to lead in some form or fashion very quickly.

I wanted to take a break (and we did for a few months). I was hesitant to jump in and take on responsibilities. Couldn't we just chill out in a church for awhile? As I felt my heart being drawn to our friend's church, I thought back over our church experiences over the years. Each place we've been trained us in some way. We never got much training by sitting back and absorbing what was being given in the church.

In our first church we joined together, Hubby was an integral part of a missions team. I ended up on a prayer team. I was so nervous! I had not spend much time praying aloud in front of other people. As that season stretched on, I learned so much about prayer and praying from the heart without worrying about who was listening. We also both had opportunities within that church to work with kids and youth. It felt so awkward and unnatural at the time. I wasn't ever sure I was doing it "right". We still have relationships with some of our "kids" from that church. They are all grown up now and married with children. It is a joy to see their lives unfold even if we only get a peek on social media now and then.

Our next church experience involved a "home church", and there we learned what it really took to have a church. We learned more about God's Word. We learned more about the Holy Spirit. We learned about church organization and leadership. Our time there was short but I look back on it with fondness. It was an experience that gave us lots of worship time with family and friends.

When we moved on, it was to find a place for our kids. They were getting out of the baby stage, and we understood they needed a basis for their own relationship with the Lord. We went to a wonderful church. It was one of the sweetest seasons of our lives. I get emotional just recalling all the amazing things that happened in that church setting. Godly men and women poured into our children's lives and our lives there. Hubby took his first missions trip with a team there. We made the decision to homeschool during that time. It was also a time of great sadness as we suffered the loss of several loved ones during that season. In that time of sadness, God had provided a spiritual support team like none other we've ever had. We learned so much there. Again we were involved with youth and children's ministry. I took on a leadership role in that church that provided me with experience in working with children. That experience helped me teach my own kids as well as making a foundation for the future ministry work we would do. Those friendships we made in that setting linger. Those memories give me strength on some of the lonely days (and when you are homeschooling there can be many lonely days!).

At our last place of worship, we again found a group of friends that we would grow to cherish. We found ourselves teaching adult Sunday School. I learned all about VBS and how to execute one each year. Hubby preached a few times there and at other congregations. He learned about committees and leading committees. Again we learned more about church leadership, organization, and people.

Now we find ourselves at this new congregation. It is a small ministry that has built up slowly over the last few years. They are in a time of growth, and our friend had been praying for us to join them. He put us right to work. It isn't easy. It won't be easy. There are challenges that I haven't faced before. I feel confident though that the Lord has walked with me and planned my steps to prepare me for this time and place.

I listened to a great 5 minute video on RightNow Media of Cheryl Bachelder titled "Leader First vs. Servant First". It's one of those videos I just happened to come across while searching for something totally different. She's speaking on leadership in a business, but she did a great job of explaining how the most effective leaders are those coming from the standpoint of serving. If you search "servant leadership", you can find many speakers and posts on the idea. I've never thought of it in those specific terms but the truth is as Christians in any sort of leadership, we should follow the example of Christ in serving those around us.

Then I began to think about serving as a leader in our homes and homeschool settings. Am I leading to get my goals met or am I leading to serve my family? Am I leading to meet my quota for the day or am I leading to serve my children by teaching them more about Christ and His Words?

I've been grappling with a few issues recently. It's almost summer, and our plans are slim. As other parents plan big vacations and kids prepare for long summer camps, I'm looking for a frugal camping option for my family. As other families host lavish birthday parties, I'm working to treat my children to a special day with a low budget. When I really start to examine my motivations though, I wasn't worried about my kids and serving them. They are happy with whatever we provide them because they are secure. They don't dwell on earthly things nearly as much as I did at their ages (and still do!). They won't fuss or complain because they don't get the big lavish parties and trips. I'm the one with envy. I'm the one worrying about what other people are doing. I've been trying to lead with me in mind. Just like I was doing when I shied away from our new church.

I've rambled around a bit here (and I'm posting a day later than I intended!). Maybe one of you needs to consider servant leadership. Perhaps one of you needs to consider the ministry journey that you've taken. Perhaps you just need motivation to jump in where God is leading you. Most likely I just needed to get my own journey in writing to see where I've been so I have a clear path for where I'm headed. Whichever it is, thanks for taking the time to read.

Monday, March 13, 2017

How We Homeschool

So I shared with you what I'd go back and change about our homeschool journey. Now I'd like to share the things that have worked really well for us. They may not work well for anyone else but these are the things that have been a consistent plus for our family.




*Routine- I've shared with you recently about our scheduling and our schoolroom so I won't repeat those things here. However, a routine makes all the difference for us. Knowing that we will focus on school early in the day on certain days makes our lives calmer. Some families we know thrive on spontaneity and change. We aren't one of those families. Our lives have plenty of chaos so a school routine keeps us balanced. The kids wake up, have breakfast, and get ready for the day before our homeschool time begins. Then we work steadily until the work is completed each day. We know which days we will be doing school ahead of time. We only adjust if it's really necessary. Working hard on scheduled days means we have more freedom on our "off" days.

*Christian Education- We have included the Bible and devotionals and studies each year. We've focused on science and history from a Christian perspective. We use Christian resources for many of our educational choices. I LOVE that we have the freedom to teach from our hearts and beliefs. As a family our faith is a huge part of our lives and homeschool time is not an exception.

*Goals- While I don't always sit and make a list of specific goals for each child each school year, I do have some ideas floating around in my head. Typically, their academic goals go along with their curriculum for the year (Algebra I curriculum= learn Algebra). I also set goals based on their weaker areas (ie handwriting or spelling or whatever). I like to set life goals lessons for them as well. For example, I have some specific ideas for each of them about cooking lessons this summer. Kids live up to our expectations so we should set them high not low. These goals give us direction and aim our focus.

*Friends- It is SO important to have a homeschool support group. Whether it's a formal group that meets monthly or just 1 friend you can call or text in a crisis, you NEED friends that specifically homeschool. It's great to have older friends that can mentor you along the way because they've already done that season of life. It's imperative that you have friends who are in the trenches with you because they will get it. They will get you. They will understand when you are LOSING YOUR MIND BECAUSE THAT ONE KID WON'T EVER FINISH XYZ or when you are crying because you ran out of coffee. God has blessed me with a couple of those friends, and they are worth more than gold y'all. I need them. I am so thankful for them. Once you've been a homeschool mom for awhile, make it a point to reach out to a newbie so you can share your experience with them. Your kids also need other friends that homeschool. It helps them too. Otherwise they don't have anyone to text until after 3:00! HA!

*Laughter- I'd love to put "fun" here but fun isn't my specialty. Now laughter....I LOVE to laugh. My kids love to laugh. Even on the worst days one of us can usually get a giggle out of the others. Laugh y'all. Even if you aren't the fun mom (I totally get ya!). Crack a joke. Have an impromptu dance party. Play with Snapchat filters for a few minutes. Help make homeschool memories that prompt a smile in the future. Every day isn't awesome. Every day can include some laughter.

I could add other things to this list of things that have worked for us. These are just the first 5 things that stick out to me right now. They're the 5 things I'd probably recommend first to someone considering or starting to homeschool their children. What would be your #1 thing that has worked for your family?