Monday, December 12, 2016

My Missing Puzzle Piece

Every child has a story and every child longs to hear their special story over and over.  Her story is different.  I wasn't there for the first 4 years.  I don't know what it was like to carry her in my tummy or if she kicked hard like my oldest.  I don't know what her first words were or when she learned to walk.  I wasn't there to see if she sucked her thumb and to hear her soft coos.  I missed all that.  So when she looks at me with those big brown eyes and wants to hear how she too belongs this is what I say: "You are my little missing puzzle piece.  I used to count my kids, 1, 2, 3, 4...where is 4.  I only have 3.  Someone is missing I would think and it was YOU.  YOU are my missing puzzle piece." And with a grin and squeal of delight she agrees.  God knew I would count, God knew I would feel like someone was missing and God placed a little birthmark on her that looks just like a little puzzle piece. It's her special story.  She was lost, and incomplete but now she's found and part of a bigger picture.  A picture of love and hope, healing and redemption. Thank you God that my little puzzle piece is found!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Requirements

Nearly 8 months have passed since the day I met her.  Eight roller coaster months. We entered a world with lawyers and interviews, social workers and home visits, court rooms and police stations. It's not the world I would have imagined 8 months ago.  Yet it's exactly where God put me.

Ten months ago I was a mother of 3, with dreams of adopting. Of course I told God it would be a boy and he would be under 2 and would have no abuse in his history.

Oh how God must have shook his head at my requirements.  How he must have laughed....perhaps that's why nine months ago while putting my children to bed we began talking of all the children going to bed without a mommy to sing to them.  Perhaps that's why that night my youngest prayed if there was any little girl or boy that didn't have a good home that God would provide them with a family. Perhaps that's why my prayers began to change and I thought of the many hurting, lost, abandoned and abused children that desperately need love. My heart was touched to the point that I wrote in my prayer journal to God, "If my child has already been born Lord protect him or her, and surround them with love and the Holy Spirit so that they  feel safe and are able to sleep tonight." My heart yearned for them.  I knew in that moment that my child was somewhere without me and I prayed not knowing who the child was. But God saw. 

He looked down and saw my little girl, alone and scared and he put the ball in motion.  Who knew an egg hunt would be the means to join me with my child. The start of a rescue mission. Here I am 8 months after that egg hunt waiting for papers to be finalized, but now a mother of 4. My requirements were not met...but my destiny was.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Safe with Me

The journey has been hard.  Oh the things I didn't know.  When those dark eyes pierced my heart I knew not what the future held. And now I see God was sparing. For had I seen it all perhaps I wouldn't have stepped out in faith. Perhaps I would have said, "This is too big for me."

 I took a snap shot at the egg hunt.  One snap shot, and I starred at it. The child in the photo was not my biological child, yet every time I looked at it I saw my daughter. I memorized her face, her grin, the short dark curls around her face. I prayed and asked God, "Is this really my daughter. Do you really want me to step out and move forward?" Was I to just be a friend, help out the caretaker, give play dates and opportunities. I could do that. But that was not all I was to do. I knew in my heart. I knew she was mine.  I kept saying this is bigger than I know. God's doing something bigger than I know.  My head thought perhaps he was going to bring salvation to her lost family, or perhaps bring companionship to her caregiver.  Something sweet and smooth and glorious.

I didn't know that it would be ugly and dark.  People were not what they seemed.  Reality is so much messier than you imagine. But oh yes, God was doing something bigger than I knew.  When I faltered, when I stumbled and lost my way.  He would repeat to me. "She is your daughter.  I will make the mountains into plains.  I will do it. Not by your power, or might, but by my Spirit." When I rested in that I saw God move huge mountains and in the process uncover such darkness, such pain.  Yet he is doing something amazing and beautiful and glorious.

It was bigger than I knew. It was a rescue mission.  He saw her, he knew. He saw the hurt and the wounds and he knew.  Though man failed to recognize, God saw.  He heard her desperate cries and he plucked her out of the darkness and filth and set her into a family. And that is something beautiful and glorious.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

And the curve ball was....

A little girl. With her dark curls and goofy grin she stole my heart. We were told she needed a family and boom my life changed. She looked up at me with deep brown eyes and called me Momma with a question. She was asking, searching, "Will you be my mommy?" "Will you take care of me?" My heart said yes. God moved mountains of obstacles and provided every step of the way. Though I knew nothing that I know now, I knew she was mine. She had adopted me. Now it was my job to follow through and let her know, "Yes, I will take care of you, you are safe with me."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Life Throws Curve Balls

Life is constantly in the business of throwing curve balls my way. 

Like I think I'm throwing an egg hunt, but instead God plans for me to meet people there that will forever change my life.

I plan to do one thing and something totally different happens. 

I'm learned that this is a part of life.  I just have to go with it and hold on to God. 

The thing I know is constant is our Father in heaven.  He never changes and He is always there for me.  I'm thankful for that!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Awana

Wednesday is Awana day for my household.  During the summer we had Five Day Club, from Child Evangelism Fellowship, in our backyard.  The kids that came to that have continued to come over every Wednesday for Awana.  One little girl actually buses over after school.  The kids play, sometimes we do a craft, or practice their Awana verses, we eat dinner together and then I take them to Awana.

The year has had it's ups and downs.  There are days when things go perfectly and days when there is massive girl drama and I'm the referee.  But it's an example of influence I talked about yesterday.  My family and I can influence these kids through little things like them sitting at the dinner table with us praying, and talking.  I know when I grew up with a single mom some days we ate together at the table but I remember more often then not we sat in front of the t.v.  I remember a couple meals we had regularly rice with pork chops and gravy and tuna casserole.  Other than that I remember eating lots of cereal, or ice cream or ramen noodles.  The sad thing is that many kids today never sit down at a table with their family to pray, to eat and talk together.  Either they are on the run all the time and getting fast food or they're all on their own electronic devices too busy to talk with each other, or their parents simply are not home.  The simple act of breaking bread together can greatly influence the lives of others.

How can you use your influence today?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Our Call

God has commanded us all the same thing.  Love him with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.  He has given us all the same commission, "Go forth into all the world and make disciples of all nations." Yet he has called us all in uniquely different ways.

He called Moses as he tended sheep, on the run from murdering someone.  He called Giddeon as he was threshing wheat secretively in a wine press.  He called David as a young boy, the smallest in his household.  Jesus called his followers as they were fishing, collecting taxes, or doing their odd jobs.  He calls us too.  Calling has multiple meanings, but we are going to focus on two.  One is a vocation, a job, what you do.  The other meaning is to be summoned, as in God calling you to do something.

We all have different jobs.  I was a teacher.  Now I'm a homemaker, who still teaches my children and blogs.  Perhaps you are a homemaker too, or maybe you're a teacher, or a nurse or secretary, or a store clerk or retired.  Whatever you do, where ever you are Jesus has called you to fulfill the commands he has given you.  When he gives you a summons like that, he will equip you.

God equipped Moses with the words and the power to lead the Israelities out of slavery.  He equipped Joshua with the battle plans to defeat Jerrico.  He equipped Ester with the position and favor to save an entire nation from ethnic cleansing.  God equips us all.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." God equips us through his word and through the Holy Spirit.  I didn't know the first thing about being a godly wife.  I was raised by a single mother and I did not have a role model in that. I didn't learn how a godly wife handles conflicts or treats her husband.  I was clueless.  Honestly I started out my marriage being very demanding.  I would yell and pout and throw fits, in grown up form.  Yet I knew I wanted a godly marriage.  I knew I believed in Jesus and he had something better for me and my husband.  So I went to his word, the Holy Bible, and I listened to sermons, and read every Christian book I could get my hands on about being a wife.  I wanted our marriage to last, to break the cycles of divorce and unwed mothers.  I knew I didn't have the tools to do that alone, but God did.  The wife I am today is completely dicfferent than the wife I started out as, and it is all because God equipped me.  When he calls you to a task, whether it's being a wife, being a mother, homeschooling or the career you have he will equip you for it!

The next thing he does is give you influence.  He gives you influence in the lives of others, in order to fulfill the great commission. I see two types of influence God uses.  The first is lasting influence.  These are relationships that we won't easily forget about.  Our family, co-workers, students, people we see day after day, year after year.  These people watch you, they see how you act when you are frustrated.  Because of these relationships you have the influence to speak into these people's lives.  You can lead by your example.  You can address their needs, pray with them, and for them.  You are there as an example of a Christian to answer questions they might have about Christ.  It's here that you can bear the most fruit.  

The obvious is with our own children.  In this arena we have full reign to speak into their lives and they watch our example.  What about your co-worker, friend, other relatives that don't know Jesus? They still see you and watch.  The Bible says, "They will know you by your love." They being the world, or non believer, will recognize you are a follower of Christ Jesus by your love.  So show them love.  Listen to their hardships.  Let them see how you act in the face of trials.  Don't be afraid to share the things that God is doing in your life with them.  God loves us all so very much that he took on all our sins and died on the cross for us.  You and I are no better than the unbeliever.  Christ did not die for us alone.  He died for all.  All have sinned.  So don't sit in judgement of your relative or coworker, instead be an example of Christ's great great sacrificial love. Point the way to him in your actions and reactions. 

 This is hard.  Believe me I know.  I have plenty of family members who do not trust in the Lord as the one true God. Yet I do not shun them or shame them.  I do not throw the Bible at them every time I see them.  I ask God to help me patiently and lovingly lead by example.  I take opportunities that God gives to share his truth.  And I pray for them.  God has given me this awesome influence into their lives.  I get to know what's going on with them and bring it before the God of the universe in prayer.  That is pretty amazing.  

When I was a teacher my student's knew I was a Christian.  I talked about what I did on the weekends.  I took some of my students to a church camp.  I spoke into their lives as much as I could.  I haven't seen them for 6 years.  Yet I still have influence, through prayer.  Which brings me to our second type of influence.  Fleeting or passing encounters.  A patient or client you had once, a neighbor you rarely see, a customer or clerk at the local store are all examples of passing encounters. Yet God has allowed you to meet them.  You may not get the chance to really speak into their lives, but perhavps you can pray for them or be a flicker of light for a moment.  There have been times when I've felt nudged or called by God to give a gift card or food or things to perfect strangers.  I know it's not my own thoughts, as I don't really like talking to strangers.  When God has lead me to do that and I've obeyed it's been such a blessing to my heart.  I get to see how God cares so much for the hurting.  One particular time after giving a lady a gift card, she turned to me and said, "Are you serious? I just had a break in and I needed this, thank you!"  I had no clue- but God did!  Even times of passing influence God can use to bring someone to himself.  

The whole point is that the world would know him as Lord and call upon his name.  Isn't that the point.  So he calls us, he equips us and he gives us influence in order to fulfill his great command bring Glory to his name!  Use your influence. Walk in your calling and be blessed today!
  
 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Corduroy Bear's Overall Directions

It was a pretty easy to sew overalls for her bear.  I had extra fabric laying around.  So I found some green fabric to look similar to Corduroy Bear.  If you want to match perfectly then get green corduroy fabric, and get a honey colored bear.  We just went with a bear she already had.  You can do this in 10 easy steps, with no pattern.  All you need is your bear, some material, matching thread, a sewing machine, scissors and two matching buttons.  You could do the whole thing by hand if you really wanted to. When you're done you'll have your own special Corduroy Bear.


Step 1: Fold your fabric in half.  With the right sides, or the sides you want showing in the end, facing each other, to the inside.

Step 2: Lay your bear on the fabric, with the fold chest level of the bear.

Step3: Cut out the fabric giving extra room on each side of the legs.  It will look like a big pair of pants.

Step 4: Sew the pieces together, still with right sides together. Sew on wrong side.

Step 5: Roll up leg bottoms and sew them to make a little hem.

Step 6: Roll down top to make a hem across the top.



Step7: Turn right side out and put your bear into them.  It should be baggy.

Step 8: Take left over fabric and cut out pieces that will fit over your bears shoulders. Should be snug enough to hold pants up, but loose enough to take the bear out.

Step 9: Sew the straps to the front and back of the pants.

Step 10: Where the strap meets the pants in front sew on a bottom by hand. If they are still a little big you and gather the pants up in back and sew the gather together.



Now enjoy your Bear looking like Corduroy! As soon as I can add photos of the steps I will.  Life keeps me hoping!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Fabulous Friday with Corduroy Bear

All of my kids have loved the book Corduroy!  As a part of my curriculum for my littles I use Five in A Row.  One of the classics they use is Corduroy.  It was a pleasure to re-visit our family favorite.

I wanted to make it extra special for my darling little kindergartner, so we made a lap book to go with it.  I love lap books!  Not only do they help you keep a record of what you are learning. They are so fun, and just making them is memorable.  So I found a few lapbook pieces online and pieced it together.  My favorite part though was at the beginning of the week I told my daughter to pick out bear to read with, that could be her very own Corduroy bear.  Midway through the week we worked on sewing Corduroy some lovely little overalls.  I will include instructions for making Corduroy Overalls on tomorrow's post.  She helped sew on buttons for Corduroy.  Then at the end of the week we drove into the city to a BIG furniture store.  Corduroy got to ride the escalator, and jump on rows of beds.  He even got to hide with just his ears peeking out from under the covers!  AND  I got the "Night Watch Man" to take a picture with Corduroy.  The security guard who remains nameless was very accommodating to have his picture taken.  He even tucked Corduroy under his arm, like in the book!

So here's a picture of our new bear with the lapbook, and the night guard with Corduroy. Use the links to find the pieces for your lapbook. Hope you have as much fun as I did!  If you do please tell me about it!







Thursday, March 3, 2016

Gluten Free Maple Syrup "Sugar" Cookies

What a thrilling Thursday.  I love baking and today I decided to make cookies and a cake using maple syrup in place of the sugar.  The gluten free cookies were delicious.  I thought I'd be a little more thrilling and frost them using essential oils!  So what you see before you is a wonderful sugar cookie, with a crispy outside and a melt in your mouth core, covered in buttercream frosting with lemon essential oil added.  It's so good! So I already had a gluten free sugar cookie recipe but I wanted to see if I could make sugar cookies without the sugar.  Sounds insane I know.  So I converted my old recipe and used maple syrup.  It turned out wonderful.  So without further ado here are your gluten free sugar free cookies!!

 So I'm sure you'd like to know the recipe now and stop hearing about how terrific it tastes.  

Ingredients:
1 1/4 c. maple syrup 
1 c. organic butter
3 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla extract (or almond) I LOVE almond!
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 c. gluten free oat flour
1 c. rice flour
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1 t. zanthan gum

Directions: 
 Cream butter and syrup.  It will look odd, not creamy.  More like little butter balls with syrup.  Don't worry, keep going.  Then beat in egg yolks and extract of choice. Then add all the dry ingredients.  It will mix into a smooth cookie dough.  Spoon on to cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for 1 minute to cool.  Then frost or don't and enjoy.

You can make regular butter frosting with 6 TB butter, 1 cup powdered sugar and a teaspoon of milk.  However you make the frosting add some drops of your favorite essential oil like peppermint or lemon and enjoy the distinct flavor!
 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Daily Struggles

Yesterday I focused on all we have accomplished this year, but what about the struggles.
I like you am not perfect, and my children, like all children struggle.

There are days that everything feels like a fight.  Just trying to get all three children opening up their books and putting down their toys can seem like a struggle.  When I've stayed up late planing what I think is an amazing lesson and the first words out of my child's mouth is, "I hate this", I want to throw in the towel.  I have not had one day that all three children have been excited about each task of the day.  If you read my other blogs and imagine these little angels absorbed in their reading and math, a clean house and me spilling over creativity with a shining smile....you've been mislead!

I'm just like many of you.  It is hard to balance everything. There are days that I feel we accomplish nothing.  Days when laundry is spewing out of every crevice of my home. Toys booby trap my walking path, kids throw fits about math or throw pencils out of frustration.  There are days that I think the school down the street looks pretty inviting.  On a daily baisis my children take turns as to which one will have sudden hearing loss. There are days when I literally have to scrap all my lesson plans and hope and pray the next day will be better.  Lets face it, we don't have lunch ladies, or prep times, or special pull outs in homeschooling.  We are expected to teach all the subjects, do recess duty and make lunch, while keeping our house clean and keeping up with other areas of life.  If some things seem to be falling through the cracks in your schedule, it's normal.  It's okay. 

I constantly feel the pressure, mostly from myself, to be super mom.  I want to be the best teacher and engage my children in every lesson.  I want them to love it all.  Let's face it that's not going to happen.  In the midst of it, let's not get discouraged!

Here are some ideas to keep you on track and keep the homeschooling blues at bay.

  • Start the day with prayer.  Ask God to order your steps and to help your children be diligent, and to help you not allow your expectations get in the way of what HE has in store. Ask for help in dealing with kids behavior, that you would see their hearts and not just deal with the behavior.
  • Don't compare!  Don't look at me, or your neighbor and think you need to do it the same way. God made you the parent to your kids.  It's gonna look different than my homeschool, or anyone elses.  Also don't compare your children to each other.  That's a hard one, but they are all different and what worked with one, may not work with the other. 
  • Constantly remind yourself of what you have accomplished!
  • Surround yourself with people who will speak into your life, not tear you down. 
  • Throw out what you don't use or isn't wo rking.  Changing things up can seem like a bad thing to do in the middle of the year, but it may be the switch that brings it all together. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

School's in Session

Despite the warmer weather it is not spring or summer yet! School is still in session.

 Most of our curricula for this school year is coming to an end. What a sense of accomplishment it is to see the end of each book coming nearer! So how has our year gone? Pretty good I'd say.

 My 2nd grade son finished Abeka Science months ago and began Apologia Astronomy. We have done this as a whole family. I love Apologia, and cannot say enough good about it. We have loved each lesson and experiment. I am in awe daily at the magnificent universe we live in and the even more magnificent creator who made it all. We only have two short chapters left of Apologia, and I'm truly sad that it's coming to an end.  I don't think we'll squeeze in a third science curriculum this school year, even though my son LOVES science. Instead I plan to finish up the year by just doing random science experiments from his many chemistry books. My fourth grader has been able to shadow a veterinarian a couple times a month. Talk about hands on science! Last time she went she looked at an ear infection swab under the microscope and got to see the bacteria and learn their names. She also got to do a poop sample on a dog and see that it did not have parasites. Thankfully for the dog and owner.  Her previous experience she was able to assist an ear surgery and help hold the dog's ear as the veterinarian sewed it back together. Another reason I love homeschooling...being able to allow my children to pursue their interests.

History is not as loved in our home as science, but we're still trucking along.  My son finished his history book and is now working on a president report and memorizing the states locations and capitols.  He loves doing this and enjoys playing Stack the States on our I-Pad for review.  At 7, I'm pretty impressed by what he already knows.  My kinder girl just listens to what we are going over and gets to play state games and is memorizing the presidents through song, right along with us.  My 4th grader, who loves art as much as animals, made a beautiful time line as she's gone through history.  She made it on roller paper, we laminated it, and it stretches across our basement.  She included all the early explorers and drew detailed maps of where they came from and what they discovered.  She's working her way through history and is currently covering the Louisiana Purchase. I see her text book will be drawing to a close soon too.  Which I'm sure she is all to excited about!

Math we do all year, so I don't see it coming to an end, but I do see the progress and the excitement as they finish each unit.  We do Light Units from Christian Light for math.  They get to feel accomplished each month as they finish a book and start another.  I love that it's spiral learning and keeps coming back to concepts learned so that they don't forget the past concepts.

We do spelling and writer's workshop.  Writing is another favorite for my 4th grader, who continues to fill book after book with stories.  She won a national writing contest last year and has been published.  So I no longer give her prompts.  I just let her go be creative and we work on editing together.  My son loves coming up with stories and can fill pages with his thoughts and silly illustrations, but he has yet to master writing neatly and legibly.  It's a work in progress.  Considering I know plenty of doctors and geniuses that have horrible handwriting I won't worry too much.

And my favorite, reading.  This year my fourth and second grader have spent the year reading good literature.  I've made lap books for many of them to further their understanding and remembrance of the books.  We've done an every other schedule.  One book they do with lap books, the next they read with either a literature guide or just reading and orally tell me about it, and then return to doing a reading with a lap book.  They've been getting through about 2 longer chapter books a month, including ones like The Borrowers or Susan Marlow books like Thick as Thieves.  Then they have free reading books that they read during their free time or before bed, that I log but don't count as their "reading" for school.

My youngest did All About Reading level 1.  She loved the activities just like my son did when he was that age.  Unlike my son she took a lot longer to get through lessons and had many reversals.  I love AAR still.  They have so many helpful links.  I recently used their resources on b-d reversals.  I love their blog, it has many fun games to play to help review words and create fluency.  I'm including a link below.  I hope you will find it helpful too if you have a struggling reader like my youngest.

All in all I think we've accomplished a lot so far this year.  On a daily basis it's easy to get frustrated and see all that needs to be done, but when I step back and take account of all that has been learned it's refreshing.  I know that I'm fostering a love for learning, and that's what really matters, not how many books we squeeze in now!

How is your school year going?  Are you winding down and ready for summer or are you dreading all that is left un-done?  Let me encourage you.  You can do it, keep on working, it's a hard job, but it's filled with great rewards!



Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year

We had a great 2015. We got through my 2nd graders science and history text books, so we moved on to his favorite things like space in science. My 4th grader has been enjoying using some of her science time to shadow a local veterinarian. And we've spent a lot of time reading. Shared reading, independent reading and reading with companion study guides or lap books to further the learning. I've been finding some lap books on homeschool share, but I have also added to them or made my own. I've gotten some components on line and some I made from scratch. I'll attach some for you to enjoy here for free.

This year's reading so far... my 4th grader has read The Courage of Sarah Nobel with lap book from homeschool share. Then she read the Badge of Honor by Susan Marlow with the free study guide downloaded from her website. She then read Mr. Popper's Penguins with her 2nd grade brother and did a lap book again from Homeschool Share. At the end of reading we watched the movie as a family and it made a great venn diagram, as very little was similar between the book and the movie. She then read Tunnel of Gold by Susan Marlow with study guide. After that she read Owl in the Family with her brother and did a lap book I made. She then began Heartbreak Trail by Susan Marlow. During that time she was reading other books about horses or dogs on her own.

My second grader read Mr. Popper's Penguins, Owl in the Family, The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (homeschool share lap book along with tracks and other printables from filefolderfun) and in between he read Stink and Imagination Station books.

My kindergartener has been working through All About Reading Level 1 and is nearly finished.

For "Read Aloud" this year we did Betsy and Tacy, Farmer Boy, On the Banks of Plum Creek, On the Shores of Silver Lake, The Best/Worst Christmas Pageant Ever and we are currently half way into The Long Winter in the Laura Ingalls-Wilder series.

When I look at all we did accomplish with reading this past fall I feel accomplished, as we started in Sept and we had lots of visitors coming and holiday breaks. When I think about my little 5 year old sounding words and really learning to read, instead of comparing her to others, I feel pride in her hard work. If I don't write it out or think about what we did accomplish this past year, then my thoughts go to all we haven't gotten to yet. Isn't that the way we are as humans constantly thinking about what we haven't done or don't have and forgetting to look at all that we do have or have done. Have you written out your accomplishments from the fall?

I'm resolving this year that I want to spend more time focusing on my blessing and on what has been done. I want to make my days count, not just to check off that we did school but to know that I've reached the hearts and minds of my kiddos. I want to make a difference to instill in them a love for God and a love for learning and growing in all that is good. If we just check off the boxes of lesson plans done but neglect the hearts of our kids we've missed the mark. Lets encourage them and enjoy learning with them as we begin 2016.

Happy New Year.

Owl in the Family Lap Book Directions.pdf
Owl in the Family Lap Book Pieces.pdf
I used some pieces from here: Lapbook Lessons.com - Owl Lapbook