Friday, May 25, 2012

Blinking Away Yesterdays

I don't know about the other moms out there, but there is just something about the first-born.  Like a first anything monumental in life, the memory of it is so vivid and precious... all the yesterdays seem as if they were today.

As some of you know, my oldest, Zach, is the only of my children to go through public school start-to-finish.  He was in 8th grade when we made the decision to homeschool.  He loved the sports and friends and did well in academics so we listened to his requests to stay in the learning environment he knew and loved.

It was hard, for a time, to still send him off each day.  But as I watch the confident young man he was growing into it was hard not to be proud.  I may be sentimental but the years of firsts and watching my young ones grow is strengthening this soft heart of mine.  It is a good thing as we look to graduation ceremonies next week, considering old photos, perhaps a little choked now... I know my cheeks will be tear-stained come next Friday night...

First day of Kindergarten

3rd or 4th grade, Valentine Box :)

Baby Brooke never wanted to let Big Brother Zach leave for school!

5th grade, just learning to drum!

Studious in Middle school

Even middle-schoolers aren't too cool to win all the great prizes at the school fair!  Showing off the loot with little sis Ashley

Trying to look intimidating in 8th grade after trying on his football jersey before his first game

Still studious in early high school :)


Throwing shot-put in high school track

Senior year homecoming spirit-week

Senior year marching in homecoming parade (center)
Family Photo after last High School band concert in December...
... because he took early graduation and finished in January
But he continued to participate in school functions with friends and his sweet girlfriend.  Especially PROM!
Mama and her boy all decked out for Prom 3/17/12
I know it's a bit blurry... but had to share that 'baby' Brooke isn't such a baby anymore... but big brother Zach is still treasured just as much :-)

And here he is with his lovely girlfriend adding the minor details before the dance.

It is hard to imagine September was 8 months ago... just another of those "yesterdays" creeping into today.  We look at our 'little' Ashley finishing her (homeschool) middle school career and looking towards the high school (homeschool) years ahead while watching big brother experience celebrations and conclusions of all things 'childhood'.  Today as yesterday is only a blink away!

Next week, as we prepare for visiting family and celebrations of our graduate, I will be away from the blogging world.  I will return the following week (also known as birthday week here because both boys' birthdays fall in that week!) and look forward to sharing more fun pictures and God's Word then!

Be blessed... and DON'T BLINK... today will soon be yesterday as all the tomorrows flood by!

Linking up with Sue and the iHomeschoolNetwork today:

as well as Kris:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Choosing Joy

Happiness is a fleeting emotion... dependent upon circumstance and attitude.  I learned a number of years ago that it was fatal to rely on happiness to give my day purpose and joy.  Happiness-centered living was the source of roller-coaster rides of emotions, confusion, and heartache.

No.  I laid that down.

I traded "happiness" for joy in the Lord.  Life's trials may come, and I won't say I am not rocked sometimes, but center for me is no longer happiness... it is joy.  Because in all circumstances we can find the joy and peace of the Lord... knowing His presence will never 'leave nor forsake us'.  He can comfort us, give us rest in the difficult places and delights in hearing our celebrations in times of rejoicing.

I choose joy.

"One is often afraid to indulge in happiness because it is so fleeting.  But joy is something that has roots.  It isn't something that is blown about by the winds of circumstance; so perhaps this joy will always be in reach if we aren't afraid to rest in God's blessings and trust Him wholeheartedly no matter what the circumstances."  p. 200 Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola

Will you choose joy with me?

Be blessed and joy-filled,

Linking up with Michelle at Intentional.Me :

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jesus is in the Boat

 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side of the lake."  So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep.  A windstorm swept down on the lake and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger.  They went to him and woke him up, shouting, "Master, Master, we are perishing!"  And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased and there was a calm.  He said to them, "Where is your faith?"
- John 8:22-25a

My husband had been laid off from his position as A/V manager at a local home entertainment store.  Economy weakened, we became another number in the unemployment lines.  NO jobs were forthcoming. After months of prayer and searching, the right decision seemed to be 'job re-training' a/k/a college.

Unemployment was willing to work with us as my husband for-went the job application process providing he showed his full-time attendance and attention in his school work.  Which he gladly did.  However, each semester brought with it a new challenge: unemployment halted while the paperwork was shuffled from desk-top to desk-top determining eligibility for the program.  First 12 weeks then 14.  The last semester was 15 weeks before any funds came through.

Student financial aid was just as delayed and savings was always tapped well before funds re-appeared.

It was during the longest of these periods, car payments sliding far behind, gas money non-existent and stress adding just a few more gray hairs... we were at our Bible study group requesting prayer.  Simple prayers, 'Lord, please provide for and sustain us.'  But what they did not know was how our hearts cried... anguished and fretting.

Our friend and group leader shared John 8:25 in his own way.  A smile on his face, a light in his eyes.  This man who survived Vietnam as a Navy Seal and went on to answer a call into ministry.  This man who was a military Chaplin for 30 years, counseling couple after couple, G.I. after G.I.  From country to country and state to state and all the wars and disturbances in-between... this man had seen (and experienced) his fair share of hardship.

I can still hear his strong voice and laughing tone as he said, "Folks, JESUS IS IN THE BOAT!"  He wasn't speaking directly to us... but God was.  I don't remember what we were studying that night but I will never forget those words.

We went home and we looked at each other, first smiling, then laughing, "Jesus is in the Boat!"  How could we continue to worry?  So what if we lost everything.  Sure, it wouldn't be ideal, BUT, Jesus is in the boat.  He knows where we are going, he won't let us capsize.  If he can calm the storms at sea... surely he can calm the storms in our hearts.

It isn't always easy sailing the sea of faith.  But every time I am tempted to be fearful and fretful of the raging wind and choppy waters, I remember our friend's tone as he declared in that military groomed booming voice: "JESUS IS IN THE BOAT" and I know we won't capsize... we will be O.K.

I pray you feel His presence in the boat with you today.  He will calm the storms, You will not capsize and even if you are brought to shore in land you do not recognize... Jesus is with you.

Be blessed,

Linking up today with

Friday, May 18, 2012

Radical Adventures

Still studying up on the Charlotte Mason method.  Soaking in each book the library shelves issue forth on the subject.  I am onto "A Charlotte Mason Companion" by Karen Andreola.

It is interesting how God led me to really consider this method of teaching and how I have been already using pieces of it without realizing.  I say 'God lead' because starting next fall our homeschool will be taking on a whole different look... and God's leading into this method will be key in our successful functioning as a homeschool on-the-go.

This is just one area where I am so animate about submitting our school plans to the Lord.  At the start of this year I prayed through lesson plans, daily schedules, design, and goals for the year.  I didn't always understand the purpose and direction He gave me but the key, other than simply praying through the preparation, was submitting to God's plans and praying through those difficult spots where we were all worn out and wanting to forgo the direction God laid.  It has been in this direction that God has prepared both myself and and the children for what lies ahead... without that submission I don't think our homeschool or hearts would be ready for the next phase...

We took the children to the park for a picnic dinner last Wednesday evening.  We wanted some private family time to discuss the BIG changes coming up.  Privacy is something we are not accustomed to as house guests but we respect and appreciate where we are... making accommodations when needed!

As we shared the vision God has given us and discussed logistics, the excitement built in all but Ashley.  She loves her home, she knows Montana, and our BIG change entails God calling us out of the valley (and out of the state) we all know and love.

It isn't easy to respond to radical requests from the Lord, but it is necessary if we are to stay within His blessings for our lives.  And as parents, it is our responsibility to reflect this to our children.  How else will they learn to be more than pew warmers?

So we pick up those 'living books', we explore maps and we begin to talk about our destination and all the places in-between.  I begin to dream of nature journals filled from state-to-state with all sorts of new and exotic observations.  I look forward to the geology of the trip as much as I look forward to the destination and training we are heading out to receive.  I believe the children share this anticipation for the sheer wonder... even Ashley buds as we consider all the possibilities together!

Many details will come in the months ahead.  We have a great deal of preparation including a large yard sale to raise funds for our trip.... and all the work that will go into digging through storage to be prepared for that endeavor!  I look forward to summer reading programs with the children, summer camps, and family training to be prepared for all that our adventures may hold.

Mid-end September we will be on our way, I90 to I80 to some other "I's" and, ultimately, to Birmingham, Alabama!  We will be taking Faithful Homeschool on those adventures with us... be sure to let us know if we can look you up along the way!

What a week... what a God... what an adventure is in store.  It may be radical, but we serve a radical God and should expect nothing less!

Be blessed in your adventures!  Don't be afraid to live radically for our Lord.

If you would like to sign up for our missions newsletter where we share about our family, how God is working and the adventures to come, please email me at and I will add you to our mailing list for the once-a-month update.

Linking up with Sue and the iHomeschoolNetwork today:

as well as Kris:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life as a Testimony

A friend of mine blessed me with a belated birthday gift... a business card holder full of scripture truths addressed to me.  I was humbled and touched when I saw my name at the top of each card.  Yesterday I pulled the next one out to see what Word awaited me...

Oh, Amanda, what a wonderful God we have.  The father of our Lord Christ, source of every mercy, the one who wonder-fully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.  Why?  So that when others need sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.  

It was such a blessing to be reminded: all I experience here and now... all I have ever experienced... and all to come... it serves a purpose.  The good, the bad, and everything in between.  Without life's experiences, how do we relate to others... how can we provide sympathy, encouragement, or HOPE? 

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord
- 1 Corinthians 1:4-9  (NRSV)

I took liberty in extending the verse reference the card recommended (1 Corinthians 1:3-4) because it was such great encouragement.  Our Lord Jesus strengthens us through hardships and trials.  And as we fellowship with the Son, we transfer that fellowship to others.  We may overcome and enlist that God-given strength to inspire others.  We are called to live life as a testimony.

Walking from strength-to-strength seeking to live as a testimony to Him,

Linking up with Michelle at Intentional.Me :