Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ministry of Presence

This past weekend Brian and I flew to California to attend a funeral for a friend of his that became a friend of mine, Debbie. It was an unexpected death and brought shock to most. In order to travel there are many things that have to be done. You have to have someone to watch the kids to start with then plan a flight, car rental, hotel (or folks to stay with), food, and make sure work allows the time off. Once all this is set up, you pack, have someone take you to the airport then you're off. It's not easy.
As we were preparing our trip, I wanted to make sure I knew what the Bible said about hope, after all, that's what her husband would need to hear, hope in the Lord, to trust Him, to be confident in the God of the world that He had a plan, a good plan even when we couldn't see it. Yes, I had mentally noted the scriptures and words that would be used to minister to Al. I was ready.
Per usual, the Lord taught me something. Something I'm not really good at. Being quiet. You see, when I saw Al, I said nothing. I cried and hugged him. That's all I could do. He said thanks for being there. And later when we would talk, he would talk of Debbie and tell us about her and tell stories. And it was wonderful. He just needed to talk about her. He needed my presence, not my words. He knows we have three kids and live in Texas and traveling to California isn't the easiest and it meant the world to be there for him. That's it, to be there. Present.
I learned that there is a time to talk and minister and sometimes there is just a time to hug someone, cry with them, and tell them they are loved. And that goes far deeper than words ever could.

Friday, January 17, 2014

2 Months and Still Going

If you remember we pulled the girls out of public education to homeschool them back in November. Currently as I write this the two older are running around in the backyard playing with the dogs and jumping on the trampoline as the littlest naps, all during "school" times. Yes, we should be doing science right now but it'll be there when I'm done, right?
As a Type A person, being flexible has been one of the hardest things for me. Learning that it's OK to stop a lesson because it's going south instead of feeling that it needs to be done right now or you'll get behind (OK, so I haven't done this in practice, but there have been times I have thought we need to shelve this for the day. Still beating the public school teacher out of me).
Prior to Christmas our curriculum was very rote, mostly out of fear of deviation. Then it dawned on me, I never taught this way so why am I doing this with the girls? Homeschool is a blessing to be able to have fun and learn. I have began to look at our curriculum to see what we're going to learn for the week and then look on Pinterest to add in games or different ways of teaching. I have really enjoyed this aspect because as a public school teacher I mourned not being able to do the fun creative stuff, the way I'm wired.
This semester we have added science and history and I love it. We do each one 2 days a week. We also enrolled them in art lessons and love that so far. These things are done with the older two together and I really like that.
There have been days that I am thinking, "What have we done? Are you kidding me? Can we be done for the day?" But I wouldn't change that for the world. I enjoy being home with the girls during the day and being their teacher. I enjoy hearing them play outside on a school day or going to Chick Fil A for lunch with fewer kids running around. I like that.
I also have to remind myself of my calling because it is easy to fall into pity and think, "If the girls were in school my days would be quieter and on days Brynlie was in school I'd have alone time and could do what I want." Those days aren't often, but they do rear their ugly head. It is a sacrifice of self to homeschool. I feel you really have to give up your free time. To me, it's a sacrificial love for the good of the family to invest into their education. It's not always easy. But it's sanctifying to say the least.
Two months in and so far, we're all surviving. Abbie is doing fantastic at cursive handwriting and can do elapsed time better than any of my third graders that I taught. Ellie's reading has improved greatly and her math skills are superb. Bryn, well, she tends to come in and make a mess with the math tiles, dump toys in the middle of the lesson, or turn up the TV very loudly. But it's greatness.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A Heart Breaking Verse

This morning as I reading through Luke (I will finish this month, it's only taken a year!), I stumbled across a verse that just breaks my heart. Let me set the scene first. 
In Luke 22 we have the Lord's Supper where this sweet moment is celebrated with Christ that turns into a dispute about who is the greatest. This leads into Jesus approaching Simon (Peter) and tell him that Satan demanded to have him, why? To sift him like wheat. Here's the thing, Jesus lets Satan! I would have been like, "What the what Jesus? You said no, right?!" Then I'd walk around wondering what was lurking around the corner and when this sifting would happen. But Christ knew. And Peter could take comfort because Jesus prayed that his faith may not fail. And listen to this, "And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Catch that, when you have turned again! Sounds like something dramatic is coming. 
Peter has grand intentions and tells Jesus he is ready to go to prison and death with Christ. He's all in. Ready. Committed. Sold. But see, his intentions would ultimately lead him to denying Christ as Christ had told him he would. 
Keep following the story in Luke and we see that Jesus is taken and what does Peter, this man who was all in do? He trails behind. We see him following at a distance, not wanting to be part but not wanting to be left out. How many of us, me included, do that with Jesus today? Kinda in, kinda out. Close enough to know but not close enough to be associated. And what does Jesus say about that? Rev 3:16: So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 
Keep going and three different people say that Peter was part of this group that Jesus belonged to and of course, fulfilling Christ's prophecy, denied Christ three times. And here is the heart wrenching verse during that third denial:
But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  And he went out and wept bitterly.
The Lord turned and looked at Peter in the midst of his sin, his denial, the one who would go to prison and death with him. I wonder what Jesus's face was like. Was it a face of condemnation? I told you so? Or filled with compassion, grace, and mercy? Peter then remembers what Jesus had said and went out and wept. Bitterly. 
It seems in this moment that Peter's faith had failed. Ever felt that way? I say, "Lord, I will..." or "Lord, I will never..." only to find out faith has failed and I do that very thing I said I would or would never do. And I go out to weep bitterly because it has broken the heart of God. 
I also see Christ's face in a different way. When I replace Christ with idols of the heart, I will deny Christ his rightful place and when those idol's eyes meet mine, I will be left empty and weep bitterly. With Christ in his rightful place, I can remember that Christ has prayed that my faith may not fail. Though I deny and build idols, he prays for my faith to not fail. John 17 Christ asks God to allow us to be where he is, in glory. 
Whether we are in a season of being sifted by Satan or denying Christ (whether by words or actions), we have a hope and confidence, that once we turn again, we should strengthen our brothers. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I'm a Better Mom

We have now completed two weeks of homeschooling and something I never thought I would say, I love it. The girls seem to be thriving and my favorite thing is that we start our day in the word, studying what God has to say to us and asking questions and praying then we start our day. There is no formula for a well ran day, but I truly believe the Lord is blessing our time because we honor him with ours.
Here is what else I feel, I'm a better mom. I don't feel anxious all the time with all the have-to's. We have to be home to get homework done, we have to get in the shower, we have to get dinner started, we have to read now...we have to, we have to. It's now, we get to. We get to go outside and play. We get to read a book together, we get to sleep in and have a leisurely morning. We get to start our day in the word. We have time.
Matt, our pastor, was talking this past weekend about a tired that we feel when we go to bed because we honored and worked hard for the Lord doing what he has asked. I must admit, there were many nights before I home schooled that I went to bed tired, exhausted, and dreading the next day and all that had to be done and joy was sucked right out of me. And in hindsight, perhaps all this stuff I was doing, wasn't unto the Lord because he hadn't asked me to do it! I was working on my plan doing my thing.

But when I surrendered to his call to home school (reluctantly at first), I came under his umbrella of obedience. And I go to bed a good kind of tired. I don't dread my day ahead and all the have-to's, I look forward to going to the park to play with the girls, and for all this, I'm a better mom.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Thanks for Thanksgiving

Thanks for Thanksgiving is one of my favorite books. I read it so much each year that it's falling apart. I used that book and some ideas I found on Pinterest and this is what we did today.
I read the book to them then we made thankful-pies (Pumpkin pies, cool whip and all!). We took a paper plate and turned it upside down to trace a brown circle, cut it out, and glued that on the plate. Then we cut a smaller orange circle and cut a piece out and marked out the slices on the brown paper where they put their thanks. We stuck a brad through the center and added a cottonball for the whip cream. They're pretty cute if you ask me.

One day, this won't be sideways. Till I figure it out, sorry!

Abbie wrote what she was thankful for. 

Ellie drew what she was thankful for. 

And ta-da! Our thankful pies are done, whip cream and all!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Day 1 in the Books

Today was our first day of homeschooling. After careful thought I put on my gray comfy pants, house shoes, threw my hair up in bun, and went to work. One great thing was we started our time studying the bible. This week we are studying Pentecost and using the book Old Story New, which are 10-minute devotionals.
Part of our reading curriculum is FIAR and all three girls sat down with me on the floor and we read and did our lesson together. We got all our work done, reading, math, grammar, and handwriting. It worked like a well-oiled machine and I couldn't have asked for today to have gone any better. It was nice to work one on one with each girl in a relaxed environment. To top it off, we finished everything in 2 hours.
We went to Chick-fil-A for lunch, headed to the library to load up on books, and enjoyed having fun after working diligently.
I know every day won't be this seamless (and awesome), we will be adding Explode the Code for both of the older two girls and the oldest will start her writing program twice a week using Writing Strands. But I feel good about this decision and fear I might become one of those, "You have to do this!" kind of person. Oh Lord have mercy!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Don't Say the "S" Word

Many people, even myself, think about homeschooled children as these weird, awkard little people who don't know how to interact with others. I have looked upon my own kiddos and have Abbie, who is very active, loves people, loves to chat, and is overall, the social butterfly and in her very humble opinion, is famous at Vista since everyone knows her.
Ellie is the quiet kiddo who can sit around the house all day in pj's and be completely happy for hours...days...weeks?
Bryn is still evolving but I think she will fall somewhere in the middle of these two.
I do worry about socializing them. How will they make friends? Who will their friends be since they'll be at home while everyone else in school?
There are a few things we do have in our favor.
1. They will be involved in a homeschool gymnastics class and I have asked for them to be in a class where there are ages close to where they are.
2. They are at church on Sunday and Wednesdays.
3. My future plan is to find a coop for us to join to hang out with other kiddos who are homeschooled.
4. I know many moms who homeschool so for me, it will be having to be diligent to pursue these relationships, even if it means me stepping out of my comfort zone.

One article I read said that kiddos who have awkard parents, whether they are in public school or homeschool, will be awkard. Here's hoping I'm not awkward. Feel free to check back in year to see how we fair.
"What most people  mean by "socialization" is simply socializing. And they regard children are not in school as being deprived of this opportunity. However, studies show that homeschooled children participate in more activities than the average child." (Free Range Learning)
"A homeschooler who interacts with parents and siblings more than with peers displays self-confidence, self-respect, and self-worth. She knows she's part of a family unit that needs, wants, and depends on her. The result is an independent thinker who isn't influenced by peers and is self-directed in her actions and thoughts." (Social Skills and Homeschooling: Myths and Facts)

The Home School Mom had a great article about homeschooling and socialization, highly recommend you take a couple minutes to read over it.

Please hear, I am not against public school. I am not pulling my kiddos out of public school (charter) because I am against it. I do, however, don't want misconceptions formed that my kids won't be socialized because I have made a personal choice to teach them.

Each family follows the path that God gives them. He has chosen homeschooling and whether it be for the rest of their education or for a season, either way, I will be faithful. He knitted these littles together in my womb, he knows them full well. He knew their bent, their design, their personality, and he determined that it would be best for all of us to be home. And so, I walk in faith that he will socialize them as he sees fit and I am to be faithful to the good works he has prepared in advance.