Thursday, December 8, 2016

Learning to Rest

"Get some rest, Young Lady," my Father-in-law would always tell me at the end of every phone call.  "Yes, sir, I'll try," I would respond.  What I was thinking, however, was vastly different from the words on my lips.  My thoughts usually sounded more like this:  "Ugh! Rest? What is that?  I don't have time for rest!  I have 3 very busy children!  I have projects of every shape and size waiting for me! I have..." The voice of excuses droned on and on.  "Rest" - that elusive dream of so many people.  "Rest" - is it even a reality?  Sometimes it just seems like a far away dream...
Then the Lord directs my attention to Matthew 11:28-30.  "Oh, Lord," I moan.  "I know those verses! They're nice, but they don't apply to me...not really.  I mean....well, I'm busy...I have all these things to do, and.....I don't have time, Lord!  You understand, right?"  But as I start to skim by those verses once again, the gentle voice of the Saviour says, "Come."  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
"Come....and I will give you rest."
It is at that moment that I realize I have a choice.  Yes, that word "come" is a command.  Yet it is not a harsh, demanding command.  It is gentle, comforting, inviting.  Like being invited over to the window seat to have a chat over a good cup of coffee with a close friend.  How can I refuse?  It is a command offered because of the love and concern my Saviour has for my well-being.  Back to that choice...
I can choose to come and have rest and comfort, or I can choose to continue "doing it myself" - and the struggle continues... But as I study these verses I realize a couple of things.  First, I realized that Christ said, " shall find rest for your souls."  "Rest for your SOULS."  Salvation = rest for your soul eternally.  I also realized that when our soul is at rest, all the rest of our being tends to be at rest as well.  My youngest treasure is at the point in her life where she says, "I do it, Mommy!  I do it, Mommy!"  And she resists the help I offer.  I know it will make things easier for her, yet she insists on "doing it herself"!  Isn't that how we are with the Lord so often?
So today I choose to "Come."  I choose the rest, the peace, and the comfort that my Saviour is waiting to give me.  I choose to accept His help as I go through my day.  What choice will you make this busy holiday season?

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Thankful Christmas

A dear friend of mine mentioned once how her family celebrated Christmas at Thanksgiving time during her growing up years.  After Thanksgiving last year, our family discussed that idea of having our family Christmas on Thanksgiving Day.  The goal was to be more thankful and less "commercial" for Christmas.  We want our children to learn and practice an attitude of thankfulness in everything they say and do all year long.
Yesterday was our "1st Annual Thankful Christmas"!  Honestly, when we first started talking about Christmas at Thanksgiving, the kids were kind of opposed to the idea....but we kept talking with them about it, and eventually their mindset changed from "groan" to "glad"!
Now you are probably wondering why would we do something so radically different?  To teach our children the value of thankfulness.  To teach them the joy of giving to others.  You see, all we have really done is move our family Christmas ahead by 1 month, so we can spend the "Christmas month" giving to others.  We want our Christmas season to be focused on giving to those around us....which in turn spreads that lesson of gratefulness to others.
We had a wonderful Thankful Christmas yesterday!  I have pictures, but I still haven't figured out how to put them on here from my ipad!
So from my family to yours....."We wish you a Thankful Christmas, and a Blessed New Year!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

I am an Introvert

Did you know?  I am an introvert.  Isn't that funny?  I am an introvert, and the older I get the more of an introvert I become!  I have a routine, and I like it....I like it a lot!  Sometimes a week goes by before I realize that I haven't left the house the whole week!  But, I am comfortable with that - it is my "safety zone."  I feel secure.  I adore schedules and plans!  I don't do well with crowds or new people or new places - never have.  I blog because I can "chat" with you, but I don't have to stand in front of anyone!
I worried my roommates and friends when I first went to college.  I stayed in my room.  I worked on my requirements.  I was content.  They were worried!  They found a job for me, so I wouldn't be "lonely"!  I liked the job....I worked by myself.  During my Senior year of college, I purposely schedule nothing for Friday nights.  You see, I knew that all my roommates would be busy on Friday evenings - work, dates, shopping, etc. That meant solitude....peace and quiet.....time alone.....a valuable (and necessary) resource in my world.
Would you like to know the funniest thing about me being an introvert?  I am a missionary.  Isn't that hilarious?  God chose to take an introvert like me, and send me out as a missionary!  And you know what that means, right?  Exactly!  New people, new places, the need for flexibility, the need to leave my house!  You know what else it means?  It means I have to stand in front of people and talk/sign!  That in and of itself is amazing, because having to stand in front of people is the very reason I wouldn't take Sign Language in college! Now who says the Lord doesn't have a sense of humor?
So, here I am.....Introvert, Wife to my Beloved, Mommy to my 3 Blessings, and Missionary/Pastor's wife to the Deaf and Hearing (which means I have to stand in front of people quite often!).
Is it hard to be an introvert and a missionary at the same time?  Yes, but God gives great grace....and a sense of humor!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

One Tract


I am but a piece of paper,
Not very sturdy, and really rather small.
Yet I have a message - 
"Jesus died for all!"

The missionary had me printed
And stamped with his address.
He gave me out so willingly,
Trusting God to do the rest.

Alas, the one who received me
Tossed me down without a care.
I fluttered to the ground - 
In the mud, I stayed there.

But God had heard that missionary's prayer - 
He saw exactly where I fell.
He allowed a Deaf man to find me - 
"Deaf and Hearing" was the message I did tell.

That Deaf man picked me up so gently,
Cleaned me up, and tried to read me.
But all the grime had blurred the words,
Yet the man saved me carefully.

In his backpack all alone
I waited patiently.
Then again he found me
And tried once more to read my map.

All the time God was working.
The missionary kept on giving many of my friends away.
He and his family gave to a lady
Another tract like me.

Then one day, to the Deaf man's surprise...
He arrived home - what a scene before his eyes!
There sat his mother, reading something that looked like me - 
It was my twin, you see!

God started fitting the pieces together
For this Deaf man who had kept me.
God brought to this Deaf man
Different people talking about the missionary!

The day finally came when God
Brought my story back to home.
The missionary and his family
Stopped by to visit this Deaf man in his home.

As his computer conversation ended
With a friend from another place -
There stood the missionary
With joy on his face!

Oh!  How they all rejoiced!
What happiness filled each heart!
As the Deaf man and the missionary
Marveled at my part!

I am but a piece of paper, you see.
Not very sturdy, and really rather small
But God chose to use me,
When the missionary obeyed God's call.

Some folks despise and reject me - 
They say I'm of no use.
And though sometimes I suffer abuse,
My message is the same -
"Jesus died for all!"

So always remember, my friend,
I am a tool that God can use 
To bring a soul to Him.
Ask for God's blessings,
And send me on my way - 

One day in Heaven you will be amazed
At how God used me - 
One tract -
To bring many souls to Him!

- Sarah McKendree

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Filling Suitcases

One of my Beloved's favorite phrases - especially when teaching people sign language is "Put that in your suitcase.  Then you'll have it when you need it!"  I believe he learned that phrase from Mrs. Crabtree, his sign language teacher in college.  I got to thinking about that phrase recently, and God showed me something....something profound.  Are you ready?  Here it is....
Every person has a suitcase waiting to be filled.  I have the opportunity to add something to the suitcase of every person God brings into my life.  Mostly I spend my days filling the suitcases of my children, but God gives me other people, too.  People like Elizabeth and Elsa - two Deaf ladies who have a thirst to learn the Bible.  People like Mary Luz and Nestor, who just need someone to come alongside and say, "I care."  People like the children on our street who call me "Tía"!
I am a perfectionist.  You wouldn't always know it if you were to see my house, but I am. I like things done a certain way. And I can't really tell you WHY I like it that certain way...I just do.  Did you know that it is hard to be a perfectionist and have children?  They deal my perfectionist ways blow after blow. Ouch! But I can give up my perfectionism.  I can't give up my Treasures!
At this point in their lives, they are learning to fold and put away their laundry. They are learning to set and clear the table.  They are even learning to wash dishes and sweep the floor! Do they do it exactly like I would? No. Does it bother me? Yes. But God helps me "turn a blind eye" to the WAY they do their tasks, and remember that I am filling their suitcases with a valuable treasure - the ability to work!  I have a piece of paper on my bulletin board by my desk that is a list of chores that children are capable of doing at certain ages.  While I might not be in 100% agreement with the source from which it came, I do recommend that list! It is called "Age-Appropriate Chores for Children". It helps me set goals for my children and not be unreasonable when my perfectionism starts trying to take over!  My children each have their own strengths and failures.  In some areas they are ahead, and in some they are behind....that's okay.  They are a work in progress.  Let me give you an example...
Phebe LOVES to help...with laundry, with setting the table, with sweeping, etc. I find myself sighing over her idea of "help" sometimes, and one of her siblings gets frustrated sometimes - especially when it comes to folding laundry. But the point is she is learning and doing what she can. And it is a blessing to see what she CAN do - even as small as she is!
Right now we have been avidly studying about the different Native American Tribes of North America.  We have deviated from my lesson plans some, but does it really matter?  They are still learning. They are learning history and culture. They are learning about other people and their need for a Saviour.  We have been making all kinds of things - baskets, tepees, back rests?.... They are learning to make things with their hands! Yesterday, I made Saffron Buns in honor of we are also studying the countries - with land completely or partially - within the Arctic Circle.
Adding to their suitcases...and I love it! I also love how their suitcases just seem to expand! They never run out of space, and you never have to have the whole family sit on it just to close it! What a special joy it is to be part of God's plan.....adding to your own suitcase, as well as helping others to fill theirs.  The question is...what are we putting in those suitcases?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shabbat Shalom

"Shabbat Shalom!"
"Shabbat Shalom!"
After hearing the words a few times, I was able to return the greeting with a measure of confidence.  "Shabbat Shalom!"  "Sabbath Peace!"
Tears filled my eyes as I looked around the room.  I was standing in the presence of God's people - the Jews.  I, a Gentile by birth, along with my Beloved and my 3 Treasures, had the honor and privilege of breaking Sabbath bread with the Jewish Congregation of Iquitos, Peru.  What joy filled my heart to know that while I am not Jewish by physical birth, I am Jewish by Spiritual birth!  My Saviour lived and walked among these precious people.  He was a Jew.  Most of the early Christians were Jews.  What a rich heritage I have as a Christian!
One of the reasons I love homeschooling is what my children learn in the classroom, we learn as a family!  So, as a family, we are studying World Geography this year - continuing from last year.  We typically spend 1 week (sometimes 2 - depending on how hectic our schedule is that week) studying a country.  We take time to learn about the culture of the countries we are studying, and even try to cook a traditional meal from that country.  I love seeing how much the kids are learning and remembering.
Last year, we started a new family tradition.  We started celebrating Passover.  We want our children to understand that as Christians we are the spiritual seed of Abraham.  We want them to know that without the Passover, we wouldn't have salvation - for CHRIST is our Passover!  Even though I grew up in church, I never realized what a beautiful, precious picture the Passover is of Salvation - every part of the Passover points to Christ!  How exceedingly precious that should be to those of us who are saved!  How extremely heart-breaking it is to see how the Jews miss it completely!
This year, I planned our geography lessons so that we could study the country of Israel during the time of Passover.  We knew when we moved to Iquitos that there had been a Jewish community here. We weren't sure if there was still Jews here or not.  I started searching the Internet (a great tool when used properly), and found that there is still a Jewish community here.  We used one of our Family Days to see if we could meet the President of the Jewish Community.  God graciously allowed us to meet Señor Jorge.  He showed us the Synagogue and the Torah.  He even showed the kids the pointer that is used when the Torah is read.  They use the pointer to keep their place while reading, as they are not allowed to touch the Torah.  And speaking of the Torah, only the Rabbi is allowed to read it.  Aren't you thankful that we can read our Bible whenever we please?  We don't have to wait for the Rabbi or the Preacher to read it to us!  He was so kind and gracious to answer all our questions.  We learned that most of the Jews here are descendants of Moroccan Jews who emigrated here to Iquitos during the Rubber Boom.  There are about 80 Jews here in Iquitos.  Señor Jorge has 3 children, who are all in Israel, serving in the military.  The Congregation here doesn't have their own Rabbi (sometimes the Rabbi from Lima comes to visit), but they still gather for a Sabbath service on Fridays.  We asked if we could join them for a Sabbath service sometime after Passover.  He agreed.  That same day, we also went to the main cemetery here in Iquitos and found the section that is the Jewish Cemetery.
On Friday, May 6, we went to the Synagogue and joined the Jewish community for their "Shabbat" (Sabbath) service.  Can I be perfectly frank?  I don't think I have ever been to a more peaceful service in my entire life.  The fact that they love God was so evident!  They sang in Hebrew - and we tried!  We kept getting lost in their song book - you know their books are "backwards" from ours - they go from back to front - so we kept turning our pages the wrong way!  At the end of the service, all the chairs were pushed against the wall and everyone stood in a big circle, each person's hand resting on the shoulder or arm of the person next to them.  They included us...can you realize how incredibly special that was - to be included?  They sang another beautiful song, then had a blessing for the sons, followed by a blessing for the daughters, which was followed by a blessing for everyone there.  Then they sang once more.  I couldn't help but think about Heaven and how wonderful it will be to join Christians from all over the world and sing praises to our Heavenly Father and our Saviour Jesus Christ!
At the end, everyone greeted each other with "Shabbat Shalom!"  Once again we were included.  Maybe they thought it was strange that a white, Gentile family had joined them for that service, but they didn't show it.  They included us as though we had grown up with them!  Everyone shared bread, and orange soda - some of the Jews had wine instead of the orange soda.
As people left to go home, they went around the room and bid each person "Shabbat Shalom!" "Sabbath Peace!"  Peace.  Peace in knowing I am saved.  Peace in having the privilege to be a friend to God's chosen people.  It was an experience I will remember and treasure all my life, and in the stillness of my mind and heart the words still echo....  
"Shabbat Shalom!"  

Monday, May 9, 2016

What Works for Us

Recently I shared with you how the Lord has changed my way of thinking when it comes to educating my children.  Today I would like to share exactly what our homeschooling day looks like, along with what materials we use.  No, this is not an "infomercial". Yes, I realize each family is different.  What works for us may not work for everyone - and that is okay! We homeschooling moms are unique, our children and their needs are unique, and our family situations are unique.  Some of us live in the U.S., some of us live on foreign soil, but we all have one unifying factor (besides the fact that we homeschool), and that is we have the same Heavenly Father who gives us the strength and courage to live this journey we call "Homeschooling."
Homeschooling, quite honestly, is a subject very dear to my heart.  I was homeschooled from 7th grade all the way through to graduation from high school.  My parents sacrificed a lot for me to be homeschooled, and I have always looked at being homeschooled as a privilege!  I never felt inferior to my peers, and now that I am a homeschooling mom, I look back and truly understand how much my mom sacrificed for my sake - and I am grateful.  I am also grateful that I have the privilege of passing that heritage on to my own children!  There weren't many homeschool curriculums around when I was in school - not like today.  My parents chose to use the ABeka videos with me.  I learned a lot and I can still remember some of the teachers I had.  I had my favorites the same as if I had really been sitting in their classes!
Before the Lord blessed us with our 3 treasures, my Beloved and I made the decision to homeschool our children.  There were so many choices of homeschool curriculum, and it was overwhelming to me when I started looking into all the options.  God has always graciously provided what we have needed for homeschooling.  It was while we were visiting my cousin and his family (who have homeschooled their children), that Matt and I were first introduced to Christian Light Education (CLE).  My cousin's wife had one of their readers, and as we looked through the book, we were struck by the fact that godly character was the emphasis in each story.  We were decided - and that was before we had children!
So what do we use now?  Well, we use a mixture of different things.  Some families choose to use one curriculum all the way through.  I started Martha and Ian both with the "ABC Readiness Books" from Christian Light...they loved those workbooks and learned so much!  It really was great for their K-4/K-5 year.  Since we had already settled on the Christian Light Reading, we decided to use their Language Arts as well.  This has worked well because the Language Arts reinforced what they were learning in "Learning to Read."  The plan right now is to continue with CLE Reading and Language Arts until 8th grade.  For High School, I am planning (unless God changes the plan!) to use ABeka for English and continue with CLE for Reading.
We started having some bumps in the road last year in phonics and reading.  One of my treasures started struggling and I began to consider the possibility of having a dyslexic child.  I started doing some research, and I started asking a dear sister some questions.  I just didn't know which way to turn, and Matt kept encouraging me to try a more "hands-on" approach.  We had just switched to Math-U-See, and my treasures were loving it!  It is hands-on math, taught outside of the traditional methods, and it is just what my children need and love!  The CLE Language Arts has spelling included, but I knew it was only a matter of time before the bumps in the road turned into mountains. A dear sister friend recommended trying All About Spelling.  It is also "hands-on" and once again we had found something that the kids loved!  Now my treasures not only can spell words, but they understand WHY they are spelled that way - it isn't just a bunch of word lists.
For Science we use AIG (Answers In Genesis).  My Beloved is the Bible and Science Professor for our school.  I love that the kids get to have that time with Daddy, that he gets to be involved in their schooling, and that it gives me some "wiggle room" in my schedule.  Some of that "wiggle room" is spent with Phebe, and some in keeping up with daily duties!  I like AIG - it is a multi-level curriculum, with application activities for each level - it keeps Science fun!  We also have the History Curriculum from AIG.  We haven't started that yet.  We spent last year on U.S. Geography and World Geography.  We are continuing with World Geography this year, then we will dive into History.
We have an Art Curriculum from CLE that we really like - "Art With a Purpose."  It is more than just coloring, cutting, and pasting.  It teaches different techniques like drawing, shading, outlining, etc.  
Towards the end of last year, I decided to try something is called "Lapbooking".  Lapbooks are 2 file folders glued together with all kinds of information on a certain topic inside.  The kids make little booklets or fold-outs to put in their lapbook to go with  the topic.  Since I added music class to our schedule for this year, we have a Lapbook just for Music Class.  More fun and hands-on learning!  This year, we are "testing the waters" in the area of Notebooking.  I have been using this method for Geography and the kids love it! So we are going to apply Notebooking to Science this year and at the end of the day (or school year) they will each have their own book to look back at and enjoy for years to come.  It is kind of like scrapbooking for children!  We love it!  
There are all kinds of online resources that I use as many of them have free printable pages.  One of my favorite homeschooling websites is  In fact that is where I got my geography curriculum from!  Erica (the lady who has that blog) also has an e-book called "Homeschooling 101" - it has been a great resource and encouragement to me!  I also recently subscribed (free) to The Old Schoolhouse ( - another source of encouragement to me!  Of course I don't necessarily agree with everything from these websites, but I use what I can and skip the rest!
So that is what our homeschooling life looks like right now.  It could change in the future, but God will show us what we need when we need it!  In the meantime, we are learning to keep learning fun....and that's what works for us!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

When Our Lives Touch

On April 14, 2016, I starting reading/studying my way through Joshua.  The words "Be strong and of good courage" struck me full force.  I read how God Himself spoke those words to  Joshua, and then at the end of the chapter the people themselves were telling Joshua to "be strong and of good courage."  Wow! "Was Joshua that fearful?  Did the great 'Captain Joshua' (spoken in great announcer super hero tones....) really need that much encouragement?" I wondered....then I did what I always do...I started trying to figure out WHY the Lord was showing me those words SO emphatically.  I even received a message from a dear sister friend with those same words!  Hmm....but God was silent.  Every day, I kept waiting and wondering, "Why those words?  What is it that I am going to need to "be strong and of good courage" about in my life? Some great tragedy? Some dire emergency? (My mind often runs to the extreme!) Still God was silent....until yesterday.
Sunday afternoon a couple of our Deaf men came by the house.  Nestor had come to ask if Matt would go visit his girlfriend, Mary Luz.  She has been sick, and she was asking for Pastor to come visit. While Matt was there, he called and asked if I would be willing to interpret for Mary Luz for her doctor's appointment the next day...he said it was serious.  I agreed.
We got to the hospital before they did, and while we were waiting for them, two ladies came bursting through the front door! The younger woman fell sobbing uncontrollably to the ground in front of some seats by the door.  Those with her tried to comfort her, but they too were crying.  People walked by and stared.  One lady even came and asked me what had happened.  I had no answer.  Matt went over and talked to the older lady, gave them a tract, and found out that a family member had just passed away.  What do you do? What do you say? How can you help? You can't. You feel helpless.  As we got up to meet Nestor and Mary Luz, I went over and gave this woman - a perfect stranger - a hug and told her I am praying for her and her family.  What do you do - when your life touches another - even for just a moment in time?
Mary Luz's appointment was at 1 pm.  Her sister turned in Mary Luz's paperwork and we waited....and waited....and waited.  Matt called about 3pm to see if we were done, to see how things were going...we hadn't even seen the doctor yet.  By 5pm I started wondering if we would see the doctor or have to come back the next day.  I felt SO impatient, but poor Mary Luz - having to sit there all afternoon in such pain, wondering, waiting for answers.
Finally it was our turn.  We went in and I stepped from my role as friend and Pastor's wife to Interpreter.  I prayed hard for wisdom, and I know others were praying as well.  The doctor was curious about who I was and why I, an American, was here in I explained.  He graciously complemented my Spanish. Then we got to the business at hand....
He asked if Mary Luz fully understood the gravity of the situation.  She didn't. Not really.  How do you look someone in the eyes and tell them "You have cancer - a malignant tumor - and without an operation, you will die."  How do you explain that "you have until Christmas to live."  As interpreter you are blunt - direct - to the point.  As friend and Pastor's wife, the tears spring into your eyes and you choke on a sob.
That's when God shows you why you should "be strong and of good courage."  That's when you realize it isn't just for your own sake, but for the sake of others - whose lives you touch - that you must "be strong and of good courage."  While we were waiting to see the doctor, the Lord opened the door for me to share the Gospel with her and Nestor once again.
Please pray for them both.  They have so much that they are facing right now - things I can't even explain, but God knows.  God knows and loves Mary Luz and Nestor so much.  As I explained to them yesterday, He is waiting, longing for them to be able to enter His house (Heaven), and live with Him forever, but they must have permission - they must ask Jesus to save them. He died to save them, not only so they can live in Heaven one day, but that while God gives them life here on earth, they too, can "be strong and of good courage."

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Changing My Point of View

I don't normally write posts like this, but perhaps it will be a help and a blessing to someone out there!  I thought perhaps today I would share with you how God has changed my point of view when it comes to educating my 3 Treasures.
When we got married, we had already determined that we would homeschool the children God gave us.  With the exception of part of Martha's kindergarten year, and by God's grace, we are about to start our third year of homeschooling our children...I am living the dream!  I will be honest - there are days when the dream looks more nightmarish than fairy tale, but God always gives wisdom, strength, and guidance.
I had all sorts of ideas and theories when we started this journey.  I had it all figured out - I thought!  I had plans laid out from K-5 and beyond! (I love schedules and being organized!) The Lord quickly showed me that my plans are meaningless without Him!  And some of my well-thought out plans and schedules turned into dust and ashes when I tried to put them into practice!  It never entered into my thinking that there might be a different way to get the results I was seeking after!  A lot of my planning and thinking stemmed from how it was when I was in school - how could THAT fail?!?
The Lord saw fit to send challenges my way...little bumps in the road at first...then the challenges got bigger, and soon it looked like mountains looming ahead in the distance.  My Beloved encouraged me to keep going, keep trying, keep pressing forward, but he also encouraged me to try to look at education from a different angle.  Honestly, it scared me!  It scared me to try to think "outside the box" when it came to education.  It frightened me to try to see and plan and act outside of what I looked at as "the norm."  Fears of every shape and size peered at me from every angle, and loomed in front of me, fears as big as Goliath himself!  The "what ifs" crowded around me...
Then we hit a brick wall.  We came to a difficulty that seemed to have no answer, no solution...there was unhappiness and wasn't fun anymore.  I didn't know what to do...I asked the Lord for answers, and He graciously gave them to me.  I started doing some reading and researching. I spent hours messaging with a sister-friend who is further down the road on this education journey.
Slowly, even before I hardly realized it, my thinking started to change! I started trying different things here and there, and the mountains started getting smaller.  Next, we did something that surprised me, but it has been the biggest blessing in educating our children.  We changed a couple of curriculums!  Nothing earth-shattering - people do it all the time, but for me it was a giant leap of faith! I was leaving my "comfort zone" behind!
It started with Math.  We tried a different Math curriculum - one that was more "hands-on." My Treasures flourished!  Math was no longer a dull, dreaded, obscure subject - it was alive, fun, vibrant - and best of all...they were learning and loving it!  Wait a minute....did I just use the word "fun" in connection with Math?!?!?  Yep!  And we loved it so much that we were doing a lesson every day, and we only needed to do one lesson a week!
Now I was starting to warm up to the idea of homeschooling in an "unconventional" way.  The next change was in Spelling.  This curriculum, too, was more "hands-on." (Are you starting to see a trend here?). History repeated itself...we started understanding and flourishing, and now I have 2 Math whizzes and 2 Spelling geniuses running around my house!  Seriously, one of their favorite pastimes is to rapidly throw out impossible math facts and see how fast Mommy can solve the conundrum!  And how many times a day do I hear, "Mommy, listen to this.....I can spell........"  Just wait until my 3rd Treasure catches up to her brother and sister - oh boy!
So here I am...standing on the brink of a new school year, sharing our story with you.  We have thrown out the traditional Monday-Friday, August/September to May/June school schedule.  No, we haven't lost our minds (yet), yes,  we still have a schedule (did you forget that I adore schedules - I can't live without one....) - but our schedule works for us.  I know it wouldn't work for everyone, and that's okay.  God didn't intend for us to be everyone else.  He wants us to!  So we have school Tuesday-Friday ideally 9am to 1pm.  Sometimes we start late.  But we are learning, and Mommy/Teacher is doing her best to remember that learning IS fun, should be fun, and can be fun!
I take heart in the fact that I must be learning as well, because this year I am reading up on a new method (okay, new to me method) of learning called "Notebooking."  We have already been using this method in Geography (it takes a while for the dots to connect sometimes in this brain of mine), and I have been amazed at how much the kids are remembering!  I heard one of my Treasures reading Spanish, then later that day in English.  It was a blessing and joy to my heart to hear this Treasure reading smoothly and comprehending what was being read - in 2 different languages!
We haven't "arrived" by any stretch of the imagination! We don't have all the answers, and we know there will be more difficult days in the future.  There will be more questions which seem to have no answers.  But for now?  For now it is enough to know that what we are doing right now works for us. God has changed my point of view, and that is always a good thing!

Friday, February 26, 2016

I Love Her, I Love Her Not!

Standing at my kitchen sink yesterday, I thought about her.  I thought about her life, her legacy.  It drove me crazy!  I started washing each dish furiously.  "I can't stand her!" I thought.  I plunked another dish into the drainer.  "How did she do it?  Oh, I would love to have that testimony!  Wasn't she ever grouchy and tired?  What an inspiration she is to me!  I can't stand her!!!!"  The thoughts see-sawed back in forth in my mind as I continued washing the dishes, feeling grouchier by the minute....yet convicted (Does conviction ever make you grouchy? Sometimes it makes me feel grouchy.). I want to learn from her, but how? How can I learn from one who makes me want to punch her in the nose every once in a while?!
I read her life story, and many times I am inspired and encouraged to keep up the good fight.  Other times I sneer at her....her with her impossible perfect life!  I grumble when I hear her life being exalted as a paragon of virtue.  Then I humbly ask my Saviour to help me follow the Godly example she has set for me.
Who is this woman?  She is the lady known as "The Proverbs 31 Woman."  Her list of accomplishments is long.  I wonder when she found time to sleep!  Did she need sleep?  My head tells me she had the same 24 hours in a day that I have.  My heart shows me how wisely she used her time.  I see how organized her life was, and that inspires me to be even more organized!  I love schedules and plans, but I really don't love it when my schedule gets "out of whack" and my plans go out the window!  It seems that she faced all her interruptions and schedule changes with ease and graciousness.  Did she EVER have a bad day?  Did she EVER burn the special Valentine cake she was trying to surprise her husband with?  Did her hubby EVER walk into the kitchen to find her in tears over that surprise gone wrong?  Did her children EVER act wild and crazy?  Did she EVER wonder if her children would "get it"?
Here is the answer I got from the Lord.  I didn't necessarily like the answer, but if I get it down in my heart to stay, I will be at peace with the "Proverbs 31 Woman" and on my way to being more like her. She knew how to be "invisible."  She knew how to be behind the scenes, helping the house and home run smoothly.  She had learned to be content in being "invisible."  I don't always like the status of "invisible."  I want to be noticed and appreciated.  But then I am reminded that God notices - even when no one else sees - God sees.  My son just read a story in his Reading class that reminded us both to be content - happy where God has put us, happy with the things God has given us, happy with the task God has asked us to do FOR HIM! I am thinking of some ladies that God has placed in my life.  They are Godly examples of being "Invisible."  They may never know how their "invisible" lives encourage and inspire me, but God knows; and He uses their lives to spur me on to a closer walk with my Lord!
Do I still want to punch that "Proverbs 31 Woman" in the nose?  Sometimes....But then I remember the testimony she left behind...."Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." (Prov. 31:28) And then God shows me HIS evaluation of this woman - "...but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." (Prov. 31:30).  There are great rewards for the lady who practices the art of "Invisibility"!  And so I keep trying.....

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Finding What Works For You

Happy New Year!  Can you believe that in just a few hours (from the time I am writing this) it will already be January 3rd?!?  Two days of a brand new year gone. Zoom. In the blink of an eye.  Wow!
Now I will start the New Year off with a confession....the reason why you haven't heard from me since the middle of October (some say time sprouts wings and flies - my time is strapped onto rockets and jettisoned into outer space!) So here it reason for taking SO long to write the next post...drumroll, please....I've been busy arguing with the Lord about the content of this post and I was afraid - okay...that was two reasons. "Afraid?" you may ask.  Yes.  "Arguing with the Lord?"  Yes.  Shameful, isn't it?  But when the Lord keeps bringing a certain topic to your doorstep, it is time to obey and stop arguing.  So to start off the New Year I would like to tell you a story.  It is a true story.  It may even bring you to tears.  It may speak to your heart.  It may give you hope.  I don't know what the Lord will do with this story, but I know what this story has done in my life....because it is my story....
Growing up in a Christian home, I often saw my Mother have her daily devotions. I would see her read her Bible, and I knew she prayed.  But somehow, I never really learned how to have my own Quiet Time with the Lord.  I was saved when I was 11.  God called me to be a missionary when I was 13 years old.  Just after my 18th birthday, I started Bible College.  It was there that I learned more about having my own Quiet Time.  I will admit, however, that I was befuddled.  How was I supposed to have a Quiet Time?  Where should I start reading my Bible?  Of course, I read my Bible...and I read it even more for some of my know....required reading!  Then someone gave me a Bible Reading Schedule.
(This is the part where I must add my disclaimer, lest any of my readers try to sue me!  I am NOT against Bible Reading Schedules.  I repeat:  I am NOT against Bible Reading Schedules!) There I was with my 1st Bible Reading Schedule.  I dived in.  I was going great guns! Then, I missed a chapter.  Then 2 chapters.  Before I knew it, I was WAY behind that schedule - far enough behind that I would have had to read all of Psalms and part of Proverbs in one day - just to catch up!  Okay, I am exaggerating!  But you get the point.  I was behind schedule and frustrated and floundering and I gave up.  I read here and there, but nothing organized or planned - just kind of haphazardly.  After a while, I tried again.  The same thing happened.  By now, not only was I feeling frustrated, but I was also feeling very guilty.  You see, at this point in my life, I had graduated from Bible college and was serving the Lord on the mission field.  Yep. That's right....on the mission field, looked up to as a spiritual giant of some sort, a teacher....yet I still hadn't gotten my Quiet Time figured out.  I was reading every day, but it was still haphazard reading.  I heard the missionary encourage the people, "If you get behind in your Bible reading schedule, don't try to catch up.  Start where you left off, but start again."  Woo hoo!  That was what I needed to hear!  I eagerly did that very thing....I got out the schedule, dusted it off, and dived in yet again.  Yet once again, I started floundering...I was sad.  I knew now that even though I was a missionary, I was a bad Christian!  What kind of good Christian can't keep up with a schedule?  I started looking around me...and comparing.  And everything I saw confirmed what I had suspected....I was a bad Christian.  These were the lies the enemy spent countless hours whispering into my heart and mind.
Then one day, the light of God's truth shone through - it wasn't the quantity I was supposed to be focusing on, but the quality of my time spent with the Lord!  What good was it doing me to read 5 chapters if I wasn't remembering it?  Wouldn't it be better to read a smaller amount, and grow from it?  I felt like God had given me a bold challenge - make my own Bible reading schedule - something that worked for me.  Something that I could handle and grow in the Lord with....I accepted the challenge, and I have never been the same since.  To me, it seemed like an enormous leap of faith! So what did I do?  What changes did I make?
I started reading different books of the Bible according to the days in a month.  For example, January has 31 days.  I would read through a book that had 31 chapters, or I would read a couple of smaller books - that would add up to 31 days.  It was only a chapter a day, but I started growing so much!  For the first time in my Christian life, I was excited about my Quiet Time - I looked forward to it every morning - me and Jesus, a cup of coffee, my Bible, my notebook, and a pen.
Through this new adventure, I started allowing God to show me where to read next.  One month, I read the books of Joshua and Acts together - that was exciting!  I saw the physical conquest of Canaan in light of the early Christians' spiritual conquest of the Gentile world.  One month I read Isaiah with Romans - I found so many references to Isaiah all through Romans!  I recently spent the entire month of November studying Romans 8 - what a blessing!
And now, here I am....standing on the edge of 2016.  I have found a Bible reading plan that works for me - however unconventional it may be - and it is so exciting!  I have learned to stop comparing myself to those around me.  I am learning and growing in the Lord!  And when the enemy comes sneaking around with his lies, I remind him that Christ is the only measuring stick I should be using!