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My latest book, "Snapshots" is back up, please feel free to download and read (see right side bar to access your e-copy)! However, other Documents are still temporarily off-line as we continue recovery after the major hacking of our secondary site. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, in-article free download documents will be back up soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

In-Box Full


I spent the last few weeks trying to get my elusive schedule down.  I guess that's how it is though, especially in a season of change; there is not enough time for each part of each day to fit correctly. 

As I mourned the loss of sanity and direction, God spoke to me and reminded me: it isn't about what I can do to put my family and life's list of to-dos in order.  It is about HIM first and everything else trickling in afterwards.  It is about finding my way to my knees in every corner, every speck of my day.  He cares about the details more than we do and when we stress and worry only on ourselves, our things, our family and don't give that stress and worry up to HIM, we are not truly putting Him first.

Easier said then done, I know. 

I am regularly reminded of this... of my need to rest only in Him.  Like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, "One more time around because you seem to have forgotten what I taught you the first 39 years", every time I trust God with my day I have such peace and joy.  Yet, one speed bump, one mishap and then another and another... the enemy piles it on because he knows that if the stack is high enough, God's face is harder to see and the more we scramble to take care of it so we can get back to Him again.

So what if we, when the pile starts to grow, slide it across the desk of life and say, "Here, God, I don't know how I got these, they belong in Your in-box, let me know if I can help with any of it."

After all, we are meant to be used by Him, working through us... right?  Not the opposite where we work through Him (that is impossible!)

Life is so much better with a clean 'desk', knowing the BOSS has the job covered!

May all your in-boxes be empty.  May God manage each task in your busy day so life can be that much more peaceful and full of joy.

Blessings!



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Full-Proof Mediator


Do you need a mediator?  Someone to come between you and someone else or a problem and justify, explain or simply help see you through. 

God doesn't need a mediator, Paul tells us so.  When speaking to the Galatians and explaining the gravity of God's promises (especially the one about a redeemer and no more law... only grace and faith... weird, I know!) he tells them specifically:


Now a mediator involves more than one party, but God is one.  
- Galatians 3:20


I read that and I asked myself, "Why did Paul say something so contradictory?"  As I dug I learned that his point was not to be contradictory but, rather, to be profound and poignant.  God doesn't need a mediator!!  What He says goes.  No debate.  No lee-way.  With God... it just is.  So when He makes a promise, His Word stands.

Does our word stand?  Do we find ourselves making excuses or stepping back or unsure of what to speak up for?  I know I do at times.  Reading Galatians 3:20 (and all that preceded it) reassured me this week that God has my back! 

Actually... that is wrong... He has my heart and my whole being too.  With His Spirit inside me, who can stand against me?  Do I really need a mediator to stand on and up for Truth?  To defend my faith, my call, my existence in Christ and all the principles that stem there-of? 

No.

I have the ONE Mediator that settles it all and in Him (not man) I will put my trust and hope... even if it seems like walls might tremble and fall!

May the Lord be your ROCK, your voice peace to resistance both within... and without.

Blessings,







 

Every life has testimonies of how God intercedes to show His power and glory.  To read the first installment in a brand new series of books about God's divine work in one person's life, click below
 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TTOT: A Planner Review


Staying organized, I have learned, is crucial to a successful homeschool.  Not that the house can't be a mess and the dishes undone or that your schedule can be off (You have been meaning to do that science project for 2 months now!).

Organizing, in homeschool terms, is basically having a plan of attack.  Drawing out that plan can be helpful because it becomes real and tangible and you develop a tendency to keep it tucked in your mind (or on the wall if you hang it up!!)

To this end, I like to sketch out our plans for the school year.  Lesson plans, daily plans and so on.  It may take some adjusting at times (as we are currently doing!) and it may not always be adhered to, but it helps us to stay focused whenever possible.  It shows us what our day can be and gives us goals.

I have often drawn up my own daily schedules, from color coded to hand written.  I am rather computer savvy with Microsoft Word and capable of designing my own forms.  But as this summer bared down and time drew close to start my lesson plans, an email inspired me to let someone else do the work for a change.

Approached by Heather Bixler about sampling and reviewing her Printable Homeschool Planner I was intrigued to lighten my load and give it a try.
 Some points about The Printable Homeschool Planner:
  • Planner includes a lifetime unlimited access to a special members area where we
    continue to add new forms on a weekly – sometimes daily – basis.
  • The forms included with initial purchase are: Cover page, Art Project Planner, Attendance
    Record Keeper, Book Report Worksheet, Field Trip Planner, Project Planner, Science
    Experiment Planner, Scripture Verse Planner, Student Project Notes Worksheet, Thematic
    Unit Planner, and Lesson Planner.
  • Customers can pick and choose what to print, how much to print, etc.
  • Minimal items are needed to put the planner together. Items needed: 3 ring binder,
    the forms provided with The Printable Homeschool Planner, a printer with ink, a three ring
    hole punch, and dividers (optional.)
 I took my pages to Office Max's print shop and had copies made for less then the cost of ink in my printer (and less then the cost of a good store bought planner!)

Heather's planner has clean, easy to read, easy to re-produce pages.  I must admit I am not using all the elements she provides but I am using many of them in my own way:
 This should be updated to say "Organizer", it has operated as my lesson planner for the last four years.
 I use it to set up my schedule and the tabs contain my lesson plans.  I plan somewhat unconventionally (more on that another day!).  I like to color-code the segments of our day (because it is so pretty and easier to read!):

I am using the attendance record (because it too is prettier then our state-issued one!)  I have modified it to keep track of all kids on one page.  In Montana we are required to keep track of hours spent schooling and over the years I have learned it is tedious to have to flip between three pages when all of them (typically) spend the same amount of time schooling.  Minor adjustments when one logs more hours is easy and all in one place:

I have also decided to keep some copies of the book report form in our reading response binder.
 
 I like how she has laid out the information to draw kids' focus on the main ideas and topics necessary to formulate a good book report:

It was nice, as I sat down to plan out our year, having all this work done for me!  My use-to-be favorite planner has increased to $30 and contained pages I didn't need or used sometimes in places I didn't like.  This planner only cost me pennies for printing and provided only the pages I needed and placed exactly where I wanted them.  This is one happy well-organized momma!

Visit The Printable Homeschool Planner to check it out for yourself!

May God bless your homeschool organizing and planning!  



Blessings,






I was provided The Printable Homeschool Planner free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion and review of the product.





Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Updates

I have been busy with The Faithful Homeschool this weekend!  I went from NO time to do anything to a little bit of time to add more to my list! 

If you click on the tab at the top of this page, "Time To Organize" you will see what I am talking about.  This is a mission that has been on my heart for a while now.  This coming Tuesday will be a review/article to sort of kick-off this new meme.  I hope and pray to be able to maintain the schedule... please pray with me in this endevour.

I also took some time this weekend to update the "Our Homeschool" tab with this year's curriculum information for those of you who like to peak into other homeschooler's 'desks' ;-)

With all that, I pray you have a lovely new week!

Blessings,

Blasting Through Math!

I have had 2 reviews long-past-due.  Ok, they didn't have a 'due date' but in my mind they did: August.  And August has come and gone.  My time feels scrunched and jammed and lost because I have not obeyed the call to share opinions on products generously blessed to me.  Today, I want to take time to share some wonderful information... thoughts crammed within more than ready to get out!

This past MAY I was invited to review Math Blaster.  I felt it would be a wonderful opportunity to use my (free for review) subscription and help the kids keep up with math facts through the summer without the boring rote-memorizing.

I was not disappointed (and neither were my kids!).




Each child receives a personalize-able alien recruit.  Recruits then go through training on game play.  My kids' favorite was the Hyper Blast training.  They learn great hand-eye-coordination as they move through the tunnels avoiding obstacles.  They reach a math bot that, in order to pass, they must correctly answer the various math problems.

We found the problems challenging but not overwhelming with an equal balance of engaging game-play and math skill activity.  Many online math games fall short by not adequately teaching the kids how to use their site, boring game play, and/or math problems that are above the ready-level for the child and therefore discouraging and overwhelming.  Math Blaster does NOT have these problems!

All summer I heard my kids say, "Mom, PLEASE can we do our math facts on Math Blaster today" and all summer I gladly replied, "Yes".  The greatest problem became getting them to relinquish their turn to their siblings!!

A bonus to Math Blaster is the Jump Start free-play area.


When they completed their math-fact game play, my kids were allowed some free-play time and they always chose the Jump Start's Mythie area where they incubated eggs and raise "Mythies" such as dragons and Pegasus.  They were responsible for feeding and training them and, ultimately, releasing them to the wild and having adventures with them.  Mythie news reports from my kids were common place this summer!

Math Blaster and Jump Start do have an online interactive option where kids can talk with other players.  One more element I have enjoyed about these programs are the parent-control options.  I was able to block them from this interactivity and, if that wasn't good enough, when my 13 year old wanted to contact another player she was required to send me a request and Math Blast/Jump Start then contacted me to ask permission.  All of my children were able to stay safe and secure on our own computer and I was comfortable knowing they could not get around the barriers put up for their protection.

We do limit screen time in our household.  Now that the school year has resumed, the kids are only allowed screen time on the weekends and for a max of 2 hours.  Their attention span decreases when we allow the screen time during the week.  I will only rarely allow math games and typing games as a reward during the week, but often in limited 15-20 minute increments of time.  Math Blaster is still one of their top picks!

We have used Jump Start products since my kids were tiny tots and I am pleased to see that their quality and educational abilities for reaching children have only gotten better.  Do I recommend this?  Yes!  To visit their sites and see for yourself you can go to:

Come back next week to hear how I am keeping organized in homeschool this year with the help of  Heather Bixler's Printable Homeschool Planner

Have a blessed learning experience!






Disclosure: I was provided with a membership good for Math Blaster and Knowledge Adventure at no cost by Knowledge Adventure in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Mother's Homeschool Journal #20




In my life this week…
Meetings, back pain laying me up for a day and a half, and my favorite... first day of fall!  Still trying to maneuver our schedule to accommodate the bloggy tendencies  of this mama... I feel like a part of me isn't working right when I am not on her tapping away words for you to read :-)

In our homeschool this week…
We tried something new and unusual:  schoolwork Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  On account of back-to-back meetings hubby and I had on Wednesday.  A review of this schedule today produced three strong "yay"s in favor of continuing a similar schedule!  Other then missing three days in a row off, I like the idea too!  They even did better on their spelling with that extra day to study!

I’m grateful for…
God's amazing grace... that when I say and think and do crazy things, God forgives me and teaches me how to grow through it!

I’m praying for…
The illusive T-I-M-E  I don't understand how our regular school week tends to steal ALL my free time when our schedule should grant me regular free time this year!  I am praying for God to show me where (and how) he wants me to have time for blogging, ministry focus and reading.

My favorite thing this week was…
First day of Autumn :-)
 
What's working/not working for us...
I made those adjustments previously mentioned; setting time segments for math and language arts, and it has worked wonderfully.  The kids got all their work done every day that they didn't spend half their time messing around!  (which did happen 1 1/2 days this week!)

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…



Have a blessed week!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Season of Hope

I'm thinking on fall today.  The official Autumn Equinox begins Friday and thus my favorite season commences.

Some have thought me crazy to favor a season most consider "death" but that isn't what I see. 

I see color; a palette of fresh new perspective and an opportunity to see the lush green re-bloom into spectacular oranges, golds and reds.  Everywhere a rainbow, a splash of hope before branches are bare and darkness sets in.

What if we saw Autumn not as death but as hope?  The prelude to a dormant season, like Palm Sunday parades before the vibrant, heart-racing events of Crucifixion Friday.  The darkness that sets in before resurrection comes then Spring bursting forth with life and the promise that Autumn, two seasons before, prepared us for.

Yes, Autumn to me is hope and today I feel a need for that hope.  A wilting and withering inside where I know life will spring back.  My hope spreads, colors in my heart and I am certain winter will be skipped because the Price has already been paid so we might enjoy seasons of peace no matter our circumstances!

Blessings,

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Mother's Homeschool Journal #19

 

In my life this week…
 
I rounded the corner to soon be done with my study in Galatians :-)  Although, in e-SBS world, "soon" could be one week or it could be two!

I must confess to being a bit overwhelmed this week and somewhat missing blogging on both sites more often (like I use to).

In our homeschool this week…
I am just going to be honest.  After all, that is what this meme is for; real homeschool experiences (both the good days/weeks and the bad!)...

I had to have a parent-teacher conference! 

Yes, I was talking to myself again!  The first two weeks of school went GREAT, but this week... not so much.  We didn't seem to have enough time for everything where we had plenty of time before.  We ran late and forgot things and all was just crazy.  Ashley was so overwhelmed at one point that she just shut down and I walked out to have my parent-teacher conference!

I couldn't understand, our work load had not changed.  But our ability to manage it all somehow had.  I felt bad and, thankfully, I was able to pause and pray.  God heard and sent my husband in to ask me how 'things' were going.  Not so well.  After some discussion we were able to produce some alternatives and ideas that might help school go a little more smoothly and a little less stressful. 


Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Meeting and then another meeting and then... oh yeah, another meeting!  Busy week ahead ;-)

My favorite thing this week was…
Going to the library :-)  I'm simple, really, and getting out of the bed/classroom for an afternoon was soooooooo nice and the kids did GREAT getting their work done there!
 
What's working/not working for us...
Well, I am not sure!  How we went from a workable schedule to an un-workable schedule of the same is beyond me!  BUT...
 
Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
... the plan is to break up the morning and draw the kids in to focus on one particular subject at a time.  I think that is where I lost them this week.  I give them all their work at once and they jump back-and-forth between subjects and can't seem to regulate themselves.  Next thing we know they get distracted and before much longer they are 'gone'.  I think, if I was honest with myself, this same system didn't work as well last year as it could have.  Perhaps it just takes some training wheels to get them in the right direction :-)

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
I came across this one on the net this week and it really spoke to my heart and all we are doing in our missions work at this time:
 
Never concede to doing something so small that it could be accomplished entirely in your lifetime.
Dr Ralph Winter (Founder, US Center for World Mission)

Have a blessed weekend!





Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What are you thinking on?


It was a rough day... full of all the worky types of things that most homeschool mommy days are full of.  Add to that the drama of lives outside this house that tend to leak into mine and affect the function and peace of our household.  I was primed and ready for a good mull-it over session.

Instead, by some miracle of God, I stood at the bathroom sink brushing my teeth for bedtime recapping the day a bit differently then usual.  The drama thoughts entered and were quickly dismissed.  Concerns that needed prayer entered... and were immediately prayed over. 

With deep satisfaction and peacefulness in my heart I rinsed and finished readying for bed.  Then God spoke to my heart pure and simple, "What are you usually thinking about?"

The question was simple and meant as a reminder that all to often I use those quiet moments, the moments in between like brushing teeth and washing dishes, to mull and chew and round up presumptions and assumptions and bias and consensus.... all the things we aught not do as Christians.  I don't do it always but I do it often enough to realize the need for change, real change.



Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  - Philippians 4:8


Two springs ago the kids and I were studying slavery.  We read the book, "Courage to Run" by Wendy Lawton.  It is a fictional rendering of the true life of Harriet Tubman as a child growing up.  One thing that struck us all (and we will still discuss to this day) is Harriet's heart for Christ ever since she was small and the way she drew strength from the Great Giver of life more than anyone I have read of so far, from so young...

Courage To Run by Wendy Lawton p. 136
Born a slave, lived as a slave; rented, traded, pushed around, beaten, lied about and every other heart-retching thing a soul can go through in such a position yet she did not hold bitterness and anger and resentment in her heart.  She knew who her Rock was and she did not dwell on all things that might cause her to slip from that steady foundation.  She knew her strength came from Jesus and she used every small opportunity to not only acknowledge that but also to submit to it.
 
Oh how I desire to be as submissive as she.  How much more can the Holy Spirit live if I would just get out of the way!

I desire more teeth brushing-praying-in-the-spirit moments in my life.  I desire more of Him and less of me.  I am going to be praying for just that!

May your prayers and quiet times be filled with HIM and less with hum.  May you know the peace of a truly, submissively, always Spirit led life!









Monday, September 12, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays #338-350


I'm not superficial.  Far from it actually.  *There is just something to be said for a nicely set table and food that is spread out on display, ready to be dished up and taken in.  *The nourishment that makes us complete.




 I especially enjoy a simply set table with healthy choices carefully (even quickly) prepared for my darlings to devour.  *I get a certain satisfaction when I have mixed and cooked and sliced and poured and they come, sit down, bow their heads to give thanks then sweetly say, "Thanks Mama" and they really mean it.   *Getting their fill and growing each inch because of the bounty and ability God provides.

Just as much as I love to nourish them physically, I feel blessed to nourish their intellect.  *To see them studiously plugging along at math problems our intently soaking up the words in a book... I feel blessed to be part of this development in their lives.

 And it is that much cuter with kittens!  They always wanted kittens.  And even though these cuties... I mean kitties aren't ours, we get to share them for a time while we are here!*

*With all the nourishing, God grows in their hearts and when their hearts are overflowing they tend to share all that love.  I probably should have picked a better back-drop then a sun drenched window!  But the best point of all is easily seen:  *their joy in collecting stuffed animals for children rescued from abusive homes. 

*My own heart swells each time I think of the donations and the happy pickings from their own collection and the saving of quarters to buy more... *all for children they will never see but always know could be blessed and comforted by a little bit of cuddly softness.

Jesus is the bread of life.  *His provision never fails or falls short... even when we do.  *What a joy it is to know this, to live it and find peace in it... in Him.  *To be provided for, mind, body and spirit, by the One who gives us all the perfect and most healthy portions!

May you be filled with God's great provision this week.










*I am counting my blessings, you can too....