Give-a-Way

There is a book give-a-way going on Scroll down to the bottom of the latest blog article to see details.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Adventures Treasured and the Moments We Remember


When my children were small there was always an 'adventure'.  Growing up, I called it 'pretend' but what I encouraged in my children was more than just fleeting ideas of play... it was experience and exploration fueled by vivid imagination.

Often times they took stuffed animal friends with them.  If I could turn their adventures and imagination into a story book... oh what a colorful collage it would be!  And in all the rough-ness and 'traveling' to-and-fro, sometimes their friends became 'injured'.  We had what we called the stuffed animal hospital.  When one had a rip or a tear, they came in while his/her friends waited outside with baited breath for a report from Doctor Mom who would bring them news of surgery results.

One particularly adventurous day there were three desperate patients... a penguin, a dog, and a frog.  I still can't remember if they were scaling Mt. Everest or bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge or swinging from vines in a rain forest, but all three entered my 'office' with serious fractures.... and by the time each successful surgery was completed, a poem was born.  One which I stumbled across today, like a piece of time waiting to be remembered.  I share it with you here (perhaps not my best work, but most certainly a fun piece) hoping you might remember these fleeting moments when all needs seem to pool into one hopeless point... one day those points of 'too much at once' will be what you look back on and treasure the most.



A Penguin, a dog and a frog
By Amanda Jones

A Penguin, a dog, and a frog
Oh how can it be?
That these unlikely three
Could end up in such a bog

A Penguin, a dog, and a frog
Were playing just fine today
When, “rip” there was a tear
And another one over there
And now they need help right away

A Penguin, dog, and a frog
With a little bit of string
I need a needle too
With one stitch here
And another stitch there
Look!  They are as good as new.

A Penguin, a dog, and a frog
Are headed back out to play
They are all stitched
I bet you didn’t guess
That they would be fine today.

A Penguin, a dog, and a frog
Our story is now all told
Mom fixed them all up
But…
oops…
Where is the button for my coat?


Blessings,




 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Faith Like Hannah



He is going to be 20 in a few short weeks.  Twenty.  This picture is a snapshot in my heart: his first day of Kindergarten (before I began homeschooling my kiddos).  I remember that red nylon jacket and how his little warm body felt pressed close as he wrapped his arms tightly around my neck and I wrapped mine around his solid form for big squeezes when bear hugging mama was 'cool'.  Oh how I had longed for a tender-hearted boy back when children were but a twinkle in my eye.  And there he stood, just as warm-hearted as ever, a crayon colored paper in hand to show his affection to his new teacher.

Then the angsty days of 'teen' hit, bear hugging mama wasn't cool anymore and to this social-lite public-schooler... neither was the idea of mom and dad giving up all... even our home of most his formidable years... to go into full-time missions work.  Oh how he rebelled.  Thankfully, he did it in a healthy way (no drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity) but he rebelled in his own way none-the-less.  My mama heart cried for this man-child, wanting to give him the home he desired but wanting, more, to obey God's call. 

One sunny afternoon I took a searching walk, children and path ahead in my heart, I called out to God and He answered: He is mineAs I called Abraham to give up his first, I call you to trust me with yours.

It was profound and moving.  Though, like Abe building a pyre, it was a bitter-sweet labor of love and trust that God had Big plans... He would care for His own... my children were never really mine to begin with. I walked forward, heart given over, I trusted my first born into God's hands...

I guess that is one reason I understand Hannah so well in 1 Samuel 1-2.  Barren and tormented by the barbs of Peninnah, Elkanah's other more fertile wife (but Hannah was his favored one).  Yet she doesn't seem to retaliate or give up... she goes to the temple to pray.  No spiking Peninnah's soup or putting snakes in her bed.  Nope, she gives herself over to the Lord, weeping and broken.  She is so distressed that Eli accuses her of drunkenness!  But she isn't drunk...

Hannah took her grief to the Lord and sought His comfort and council for her depressed situation.  I see meekness in the presence of her adversaries.  She commits NOT to bicker or return contempt - rather - seeking peace and council from the Lord.  The outcome?  She found peace.... and then came  Samuel.  Is it any surprise he was such an amazing prophet? 

She kept her word and gave him over to the Lord's service when he was old enough.  Oh how hard it had to be to leave him at the temple with Eli.  To walk away and just Trust... God had him in the palm of his hand.  Oh, she visited and brought clothes and no doubt hugged and kissed him as long as hugs were cool!  But the biggest point - she trusted God with her troubles and she trusted God with her children.

As a result of her faith, God blessed her with FIVE more children!!!  Such a testimony for a once barren woman.

Oh to live life with the faith of Hannah... giving all to God and not giving in to the torments of the world.  Even if it meant a promise of her first-born.

As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
1 Samuel 3:19

I pray you have faith like Hannah... instead of running to address the world in its unjust barbs... run to bow at the alter of the Lord and search Him for the answers and peace you need.

Consequently, my almost 20 year old has seen God move in his life as a result of our obedience.  His faith was made stronger and I found such a great blessing in seeing his path grow closer... not farther... when I followed God and gave Him my first-born.



Blessings,








Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Lord of My Time

I use to be one of those frantic moms... you know, the one trying to hold it together as the world falls apart.  Trying to get done the 50 things that will make me look like I am really on the ball when I barely have time (or energy) for the 10 things which would at least make me look like I had some measure of control.

It was always at the height of setting order (which was really always just out of reach) when the children or a friend or a family member would call on me... an interruption.  With others I would grin and comply but with my children... well, that was another story.

I wasn't a mean, nasty, ogre... but I would put them off, respond through gritted teeth, or (in the most frantic situations) I would snap just give me a minute.

Bless those poor little hearts.

How did it change exactly?  I can't say for sure.  But somewhere in the midst of the chaos and the pitter patter God reached into my life and drew me close to hear the steadiness of His heart beat.  He opened my eyes to the fleeting moments with my loved ones which became lost behind my pile of to-do and the stress which often ensued.  He reminded me of what.really.mattered.  And He called me to just let go and let Him take control.

I realized... it was never my time to begin with... it was always His and when I stopped trying to stuff my agenda into His plans... somehow things got easier!  I slowed.way.down.  I am still reminded from time-to-time to simply breathe in and out.  To recall where I was and what the changes were which delivered me from there:

1. Recognize the flow of time God has designed around me.  It may seem like chaos, but the truth is, if we stop pushing our agenda, we can often see the natural flow of the day.  WE may want to clean after lunch while kids have free time but baby wants cuddles and a rock for nap.  WE may desire some book time in the evenings but the neighbor kids are knocking on the door or Betty Sue stops by to chat.  Welcome all these and more!

2. Pray over and re-define my need-tos vs. want-tos.  It is amazing how much, we as moms, will heap onto our pile of to-do.  All good intentions but much of it is often details which don't make-or-break the peace of the day.  I use to fret over how much baking I got done while schooling the kids AND dusting the living room....and all my husband wanted to know was why I hadn't cleaned the toilet in recent history!!  I felt affronted at all he didn't notice but the truth was, God was showing me what truly mattered... even if it was just a clean commode! Which brings me to...

3. Truly listen to my family.  It is amazing how simple a joy can be when we stop complicating the process!  Whether it was my husband and clean toilets or my kids and just taking time to play a game or read a book... most often my family wasn't concerned with the same things I was when I presumed what was needed to make a happy and peaceful home.  Why focus on what is not fruitful!

4. Give up the glamor and the glory.  Magazines lie... so do many designing t.v. shows.  Real houses really are NOT immaculate and don't let the vloggers fool you... I am even guilty of cleaning the area my camera will pick up and leaving the rest a mess!!!  Life.happens.period.  Kids walk through with messy hands or crackers spill on the carpet.  Last night's Uno game was forgotten in the shuffle to get ready for bed and cards fell under the table next to last week's marbles.  Accept the mess.  It is a fact of life.  My rule: I want people to come in, be able to sit down on a [clean] couch, use the toilet and kitchen without fearing disease and... on a good day... not stick to the floor!  It is amazing how much peace this alone will bring!

5. Accept help.  Children are never to young to help with chores.  Even the toddlers can feel purpose and learn responsibility if you give them a dust rag and show them how to swipe a low shelf or have them help clean up stray toys and run trinkets to other corners of the house.  You are not alone and you are no-less a 'super mom' if you have help.  After all, even Batman had a side-kick!

These are just some of my nuggets of peace God revealed to me... some through my husband's encouragement and others simply through the whispers in my heart.  Accept His plan for your day and revel in the grace and peace which will result (once you get use to letting go of YOUR way!!)

Blessings,





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

He Is My Praise


I've been convicted for some time now... convicted of that mediocre prayer where I say, "Thank you for all you do in my life... thank you for all you bless me with."  So what is wrong with that?  Nothing, exactly, if you mean it.  So what is the conviction?  It is that need to praise him not just for what God does... but simply for who He is.

It is like our spouse or children or parents... we don't appreciate them in our lives because of what they have done/or do/or give... we love them because they are.  And while God does desire our gratitude, what he wants most is our praise simply because He is.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.
- Deuteronomy 10:17, 20-21

Tucked right there in Deuteronomy 10, my heart grabs in my chest... He is my praise.  Plain.and.simple.  

God of gods...
Lord of lords
great
mighty 
awesome
He is our God
 
And it isn't even because he did anything that he is awesome.... He is awesome and all that he does is a mere and incomparable reflection of that.

He ... is... my... praise.

What if, for today, I just.praised because He is.

When Moses asked the burning bush, God revealed himself as "I AM" Nothing else was needed.  When the guards appeared to arrest Jesus, Jesus declared the same, "I AM". 

He is, and so He is my praise. 

This song today is a fun but oh-so-true reminder of just what God should be.  The praise that courses through our veins and creates our most favorite song we want to praise and sing again and again.


Lord... thank you... just.thank.you.

I pray you hear His melody in your heart, each minute, of every day... praising him in the good, the bad, and everywhere in-between.Simply because he.is.

Blessings,






Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rocking Chair Trips


Mother's Day has took on new meaning when my mom passed away 12 years ago.  My step-mom and I aren't close (she didn't raise me) and my mother-in-law is a blessing, however, she didn't raise me either.  I feel sort of orphaned....

I have shared with many how the loss of a mother is one of the deepest losses because she is (as I call it) the keeper of memories.  Dads are amazing, and not to be short-changed, but when dads slept in, or left for work, or watched football.... moms woke early, toiled over our spills and messes, and noticed every detail of our little lives.  Moms are right.there from the moment we enter the world and they remember all.

When a mom is gone, a treasure trove of wisdom and all things 'past' is lost with her.  Her love and memory is irreplaceable.  No one else can share the trinkets of 'what was' as a mother can.

So, as Mother's Day approaches I gladly honor my mother-in-law and I also enjoy the time to tuck away certain treasures into my own chest of memories I hope to share again when my children are grown.

This poem is one of my most treasured memories.  I wrote it when my children were much smaller... when 2 (and on a good day 3) could climb up on my lap as I rocked babies and toddlers through many moments...



Rocking Chair Trips
By Amanda Jones

I rocked 10 miles
In my rocking chair today
Through laughter and smiles
And kissing tears away

I must have read the same book
A million times
To a curly head toddler
Who seems to never tier

I sang sweet songs
Into bright little eyes
While pudgy little hands
Held my fingers so tight

I worried then sighed
And happily reminisced
Of adventures going by
On my rocking chair trips

Yesterdays, todays, tomorrows
Will rock by
My baby, my toddler and
My growing little guy

We all ride together
Sharing our dreams and our love
Sitting and rocking and thinking of my little family
I thank the Lord up above

My rocking chair trips
Are nowhere near end
We still come and go each day
As naps and stories require the gentle swaying again

But when my children have all grown
And my grand-kids come about
I will take them upon my knee
In my rocking chair we will head out

10 miles and then back
Sharing stories and our love
And I will smile and again
Be thankful for what God has given me from above.

I pray your treasure chest is brimming full of beautiful moments as you revel in this Mother's Day weekend!

Blessings,
 




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May-schooling*


About this time of year, the question looms among homeschool moms (and even strangers who simply wonder) When do you plan to be done with schooling for the year? Depending on what you consider "homeschooling", ours has until the end of this month before summer break (we are counting down the weeks!).

Just what is homeschooling to us?  Well, it doesn't look exactly like I dreamed it would in September.  It has transformed to....

- up early (6:45a.m.) because I believe it is good for children to learn to discipline themselves in purposefully rising to meet the day.  It will be required of them as adults (in one form or another) so it is a discipline best developed as kids.

- Bible study first thing because we believe feasting on the Word of God is the best appetizer to a hearty breakfast and productive day.

- Chores because community and work are a part of life and everyone doing their part teaches order and the value of a job consistently and well done.




- Schooling Essentials, usually by 9a.m., where the basics are taken care of first.  We school Eclectically so this may look different on different days but each day involves Writing, Math and Spelling in some form.  Extra time is often spent reading or working on other projects.

- Lunch Break, typically eating lunch together then taking a small amount of time to rest their brain through other activities like playing outside, bike rides, or playing inside.

- Oral Reading begins after break.  We read together (even in high school) because I want them to have confidence reading to others and I want us all to be exposed to various stories.  They each read from a book of their choice and I read as well, typically a book related to subjects we may be studying in history or a missionary.

- History or Science.  We may watch relevant movies, do crafts, read books, do experiments or take a walk or field trip somewhere relevant.  My children keep science journals and history notebooks.  We diagram, map and timeline often.




Our day ends by 2 or 3 in the afternoon then they are free to their own devices.  Sometimes they choose a continuation of whatever we were studying in the afternoon (recently it was converting large boxes into gladiator armor and having gladiatory games!).  Neighborhood kids will join in the fun and, before we know it, everyone is living history!

We do not watch t.v. or play video games during the week except for special situations or achievements such as reading a book which has been made into a movie.  I like this schedule and, what's more, my children like it and miss it when our days end up upside-down.

So how is Summer different? no 'book work' (work books or writing assignments), more reading, only math-facts review (to keep them sharp) and adventure with some nature journaling.  Screen time restrictions continue because I want them to use their imaginations to the fullest extent possible.  I want them to keep thinking.  Some families who UNschool would probably call our summer-time activity 'homeschool'.  But, for us, it is a break from the hub-bub and it is what works for us.



Don't be fooled though... not every day is perfect.  Some days we blow off our afternoon and take a bike ride or run behind in the morning and find ourselves content with just being able to complete one math assignment and peruse spelling words.  But ALL days they are learning... whether it is book knowledge or life knowledge... they are learning and I feel blessed to be their teacher.

Each year teaching gets easier... though none are perfect (and some days can still be hard)... overall you find a groove and a flow, an undercurrent which can carry you through other changes like maturity level, grade expectations, and life situations.  And when the water looks too rough, you design your anchor, weight it down with the Truth of the Lord, and you throw it out there and trust it will hold you tight... you won't drift away but you will flow and move and always come back to center: learning what matters most...

... they are always learning.  And while we, the teachers, provide them with active stimulants to the learning process, they are learning even when a book doesn't sit open in front of them or a pen isn't in their hand.  Once we let go of what other homeschools look like or what we think ours should look like and just hold onto what God has given us to work with... our homeschool starts to look quite grand and the learning, both in and out of the books, becomes evident everywhere we turn. Summer vacation (and regular school days that just don't go as planned) are a reminder of this.


Maybe you are planning to school through the summer.  Maybe you are holding onto these last weeks like a fist full of sand, contemplating just being done early.  Perhaps you are planning to just slowly flitter out for the year.  Whatever your plans... be encouraged today to keep stepping forward.  You can... you will make it!  Even if this week's homeschool schedule looks nothing like the one you ambitiously wrote and planned out at the beginning of the year.

I pray your MAY-schooling feels as grand as your September-schooling did... even if it doesn't look like it!

Blessings,





Friday, May 2, 2014

Sprouting Change


Big... HUGE changes are coming to Faithful Homeschool.  So HUGE I am almost reluctant to blog here... and yes, that is a hint!  And, yes, I'm trying to build hype!  Hype, because I have been laying low for a while.  Many may think I have left the blogging sphere... but I didn't.  That whole bloomy thing last year... well it pruned me bare... and bare is how I had to stay for a while for the next blooms to sprout and begin to open.

My husband even reflected to that end, when I shared with breathless excitement over the amazing things God has always done... about the HUGE things He is doing right now and all I had to walk through to get here first.  Hubby replied... maybe it is that blooming thing!  Yup, he does listen after all!

And so, in truth, it feels good to be blogging regularly again... to be finding that groove... even if big...HUGE changes are coming!  It is all, simply, Obedience.  Monday's sort-of quick.and.to.the.point entry explored the essence of this time for me... as I imagine many women out there experience.

Struggling to fit it all in.
Struggling to get it right.
"It" being anything from relationships - to things - to activity... anything that defines "it" at a given moment in a given life.  And then there is...

Struggling to find time for that illusive to-do list...others... self... God.
Struggling to simply hear God and do what He calls.

Yes, that has been me.  As He bloomed me and grew me he first, and gradually throughout, pruned me.  I felt bare and uncertain what was next.  I laid everything on the alter and sought His guidance in what to do... what He might give back. And when His time was right... He began to give things back.

What hard but wonderful times.

And so, the big changes ahead fill me with joy as I see all of His work that went into making me for this moment. I hope, through the changes ahead, to create an environment where I can draw YOU in closer, share with YOU better and get to know YOU through what I hope will become a truly relational blog... a reflection of a truly relational God.

Blessings to you, friends, and keep your eyes pealed here and on facebook as our HUGE changes will be announced soon!