Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Virtuous Life Day 1 Notes

   I began a new Bible study today, along with several friends.  You can find everything that you need to know about it on the Time Warp Wife blog.  I had to wait for new ink before I could print it and then I had to wait for a quiet moment to actually get started.  The day was a little rough since it rained all day and the kids were wild.  I managed to find time in the afternoon to color the color page that goes along with this week, which really helped me to calm down a little bit from the chaos.  I was excited to see that all of the printed scriptures in the study are from the King James Version.  This makes the scripture cards and color pages useful and relevant for me, since I prefer KJV.  One other note before I type up my written notes from my study tonight:  Today's study was just for me!  It reiterated a conversation that Gabe and I had last night and gave me the peace that I need for this period of my life.

From my study notes dated 4-18-16:
   Esther 4:6-5:8

What does Esther teach us about wisdom, foresight and practical judgment?
          Esther didn't just run to the king when she was asked to speak to him.  She knew that could get her killed before the king even heard what she had to say.  She prayed for the Jews safety and asked them to fast and pray while she prepared to speak to the king.

Idea yields prayer, which yields a plan, and then an action.

Mordecai presented an idea, it was prayed over, a plan was established and then Esther took action.  This pattern lead to being heard and later receiving the answer that they wanted.

The commentary in the Life Application Study Bible gave some steps for planning.
   When facing a difficult task:
          1.  Calculate the cost.
          2.  Set priorities.
          3.  Prepare.
          4.  Determine your course of action.
   Once you have done those things, move ahead boldly.  Don't dilly-dally once you have your plan, JUST DO IT!!!!

Week 1:  Prudence
   Prudence is wisdom, foresight and practical judgment.
   Prudent means showing care and thought for the future.
   Folly means foolishness.

Proverbs 14:8
          The wisdom of the "one showing care and thought for the future" is to understand his way: but the "foolishness" of fools is deceit.

Ruth also took the time to plan and then she stepped forward boldly.

Luke 14:28-32 says that no one will start building a house without knowing the cost.  No king will go to war without knowing what he is up against.

If you find yourself unsure of God's direction for your life, or you are unable to form a plan for reaching His goal for you, all you have to do is PRAY!

James 1:5
   If any of you lack wisdom (prudence), let him ask God, that giveth to all men liberally, and (upbraideth)  "doesn't put you down" and it shall be given him.

Just ask and God will give you the wisdom that you need.

2 Peter 1:5-6 paraphrased
    Work hard to become virtuous (showing high moral standards), then gain knowledge, then self-restraint, then patience, and finally godliness (conforming to the wishes of God).

   I've always thought that godliness meant being like God.  I looked it up tonight and found that it actually means conforming to God's wishes for yourself.

   I can't fulfill His wishes for me without
          1st showing high moral standards,
          2nd gaining knowledge about His plans for me, as well as gaining knowledge of His word,
          3rd showing self-restraint when things don't go my way,
          4th being patient, and
          5th conforming to His plans for me.

Patience may refer to my environment and to my response to those around me.  It may also refer to waiting on God to reveal His plans or for Him to tell you to act upon those plans.

Reflection Question:  What is God telling you and how can you apply this?

   WOW!  Right now we are in a waiting period.  We don't know where God wants us.  I'm a bit scared of this wait and all of the changes that come along with preparing ourselves to be used by Him.  I think that God has used tonight's study to tell me to straighten up my life, and "work diligently" to clean up my sin.  Only once I am living a virtuous (moral) life will God reveal His plans and further my growth in order for me to be used by Him.

   For now my wait is not because of God's timing but because I don't have my life right.

Direction for digging deeper tomorrow:  look at fasting.  What is the purpose and is it still relevant for today?


Monday, April 18, 2016

Behind the Perfection....

   Ah!  The first day of school 2014.  It's just after Labor Day, I've got a baby due a month later, and yet I still manage to get the perfect picture of my boys on their first day of school.  They were excited, they were getting along great, it was the perfect morning, or was it?

   It was misting rain, though you can't see that in the photo.  This was Malachi's second shirt of the day, it's on inside out and backwards.  The grass desperately needed to be cut.  We took our photos outside because inside was a mess.  YES!  I said it!  On our very first day of school I was not ready and our house was far from ready.  I still had 4 kids and everyone knows that the 4th is the one that pushes you over the edge to just giving up.  Thankfully the 5th throws you back up there because you realize that without organization, life will completely fall apart.  I've now learned that the 6th just takes all of those stereotypes, sticks them in a blender and serves up a nice concoction of order, organization and complete disarray all within the same day, sometimes within the same hour.



  
See what I mean, this was just a few minutes before the perfectly cute photo above.  


 This is what my office looked like as we started our school work that day.  

And the living room was a mess too.  


 
 
 
These are the photos leading up to the perfect one above.  They wouldn't cooperate with pictures at all.  

See the tall grass?  

The crazy antics continued.

 My vanilla latte was well earned!  
 Told you that shirt was inside out and backwards.
 Oh, yeah!  The rain meant Gabe was home from work that day too.  Notice my boys are "helping" read blueprints instead of doing the school work I had planned for them?
 
Notice I'm a hot mess!  My hair probably hadn't been washed in days, my shirt was snug because of my huge baby belly, and my yoga pants were covered in paint.

   So why would I share this?  To encourage you.  To remind you that there's always something behind those perfect photos.  None of us have it all together, some just know how to hide it better than others.  Some of us just don't care anymore.  We'll show our ugly to the world and remind ourselves to see this as a beautiful mess.  This mess means there is life inside the walls of our home.  Those grins on my boys' faces mean that despite the mess, there is laughter and love inside our home.  All the interruptions give us a chance to embrace challenges and disruptions and learn how to cope with them so that when these kids are adults, every little change in plans won't cause panic.  

  Homeschooling is hard work.  Raising kids is hard work.  On those days when you think you are the only one drowning in chaos, please remember that no one has it all together.  There's always something messy behind the perfection.  



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Planning for 2016-17

   Where is 2016 going?  I can't believe we are already 4 months in.  Our public school friends are getting ready for the end of the school year.  The ice cream man has already started making his rounds.  Curriculum fairs and displays are popping up everywhere.  By the time we start back to school in the fall, the year will be more than halfway over.  I'm a planner so in my head, I'm already in June and July.  This year we will be schooling into June and possibly July as well.  This is the first time we've ever gone into the summer like that with our current year.  We've schooled in the summer with the following year a few times, though the last two summers we have not.

   We are very eclectic homeschoolers by nature but we lead a very busy life so in an effort to insure we are getting everything in, last year we went to a boxed curriculum.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go over with the boys and in the beginning it was a bit shaky.  We stuck with it though and ended up loving it.  We decided on Abeka, which is very rigorous and thorough.  We continued our ShillerMath along with the Abeka math, added Beautiful Feet history and Apologia Astronomy.  The added subjects are programs that fit with our style a little better and since Abeka doesn't completely fit our style, the added programs have slid in perfectly to keep us excited about school.  This year we had a 4th grader, 1st grader, and 2 preschoolers.  We also have a toddler and a newborn.  I'm not sure how I've kept my sanity or if it really is gone and I just haven't realized that I need to be committed somewhere.  I won't say it's been easy, with moving and a new baby, as well as a crazy schedule for foster care visits and therapy.  It has been fun though.

   This time of the year also brings about many questions from friends that are considering homeschooling or that are looking at making changes to their homeschool for the following year.  I find myself getting excited as I help them to decide what may be right for them.  I love answering their questions and getting to know their teaching styles and their kids' learning styles.  I love looking at curricula that doesn't fit our style but might fit theirs.  I love learning about new hurdles others are facing and helping them to find a way to jump over those hurdles.  I love to help others have success homeschooling, just as we have.

  Each year at this time I ask my kids 2 questions.  1.  Do you want to go to public school next year or continue homeschooling?  So far each year they have wanted to continue homeschooling.  I don't know what I'm going to do when one decides he wants to go to school.  2.  Do you like how we did school this year?  For the first time in 5 years of homeschooling, they've wanted nothing to be different.  That means that finally, after 5 years we have found something that works well for us.  Well, for my oldest 2, I have 4 more coming up so we will see once they get started really well.  I take my kids' answers very seriously and I try to find curricula or programs that will better suit us the following year.  My kids thought this year was good, and it was for my oldest.  My 1st grader is my artist and he needs a little something more creative for next year.  My preschoolers also need more for next year than just a work book and Mommy finding them work throughout the morning.  So taking this information, I set out on a journey through the world wide web to find what we need.  This year I ended up digging in my closet and finding just what I need.  We will add 1 other thing that brings us back to our Montessori style and goes perfectly with what I found in the closet.

   So what are we using for everyone this year?

Elijah/Levi:  Complete grade level kits from Abeka, ShillerMath Kit I and ShillerMath Kit II,                                  Beautiful Feet Books history, Apologia Botany.  We will do several units from Hands of
                     a Child and Five in a Row as well.  These will be geared for the younger kids but using                        the FIAR Notebook Pages, we will adapt each of their level.  They enjoy reading along                        with us and participating in those activities so I plan to assign them work to go with                              those.  

Malachi/Ladybug:  Complete grade level kits from Abeka, beginnng Montessori lessons for math,                            Hands of a Child and Five in a Row units, and Brainy Kits to go along with the units                            that we are studying.

   I am looking forward to next school year.  My number one thing I want to do different is have a morning Bible time.  For some reason we just never get around to it and I want to make it a priority next year.  I also want to do a daily calendar time and use more music throughout the day.  We had planned to do calendar time this year, then life hit us hard and we went into survival mode after only a few days.  We bought an ipad last year specifically to put all of our music on for morning group, Bible study, and math.  I haven't yet made time to get the music on the ipad.  That is my main goal for the summer!

   If you have already started planning for next year, share with us your plans.

 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bountiful Blessings

From journal entry dated 3/31/16 while reading Who Are All These Children and Why Are They Calling Me Mom.

   Reflection Question:  Do I fully understand and accept God's desire to redeem my life?  If not, who can I talk to about it?

   I read this chapter a week ago.  It really spoke to me as we've just welcomed our own little surprise.  I struggled with an answer to the question though.  I don't feel that my life is a burden that needs to be redeemed.  I feel like my life is exactly as God wanted it, regardless if it's as I planned or not.

   The truth is, Gabe and I never discussed how many kids we wanted.  We talked about our dreams for our family and just always knew that those dreams included children.  Our family was built quite differently than most and even through foster care, you sometimes end up with accidental blessings.  The number of kids in our family may not have been planned by us but it was perfectly planned by God.

   We struggled with getting pregnant but wanted a baby as soon as we got married.  We didn't care that we were young.  He was just 21 and I was almost 19.  It took several years and lots of doctor visits, but in 2004 we welcomed our first son, David.  Sadly just a few days later, David passed away from SIDS.  In early 2005 we had a miscarriage and then in December 2005 we welcomed our oldest son, Elijah.

   We were the perfect 1 child family and were content like that forever.  Levi surprised us in December 2008, just a week after Elijah turned 3.  In May of 2012 we fell in love with Malachi, a foster child that had been placed with a friend.  We became foster parents and he was moved to our home in October of that year.  We hoped to adopt him and in February of 2015, he officially became Malachi McCormick.  In April of 2013, a beautiful little girl was placed with us.  We weren't sure about having a girl and with her race not matching ours, we agreed to see how it went for 6 months. That's been 3 years now and I still laugh about how scared I was over all that pink. Her adoption will be final later this year.

   In January 2014 we took a vacation to Gatlinburg, TN.  Our souvenir was born in October.  She was 8 or 9 months old when we found out that another baby was on the way despite the fact that I was nursing and we were using birth control.  We now have 6 wonderful kids and though it's tough at times, we couldn't be happier with the family that God has given us.

   I think God redeemed us long before we had kids, by never allowing us to have preconceived notions about our family size.  When we first began homeschooling, our first day at co-op, I learned who the Duggars are, and I met several moms of many.  I went home that night and cried because those people were so weird.  Fast forward 5 years and I'm one of those weird Mamas and I love it.  I'm so thankful that I never had expectations of how big or small the perfect family is, but instead I was open to God building our family to His specifications.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Disappointments?

From journal entry dated 3/22/16 while reading Who Are All These Children and Why Are They Calling Me Mom?

  The reflection question for this chapter was: What part of being a mother do I find disappointing?

   Hmmm.....  I always wanted to be a mom.  I didn't really know how many kids I wanted, and Gabe and I never really talked about it.  One kid was perfect, and two was even better because I became a stay at home mom.  We started homeschooling and I was that fun homeschool mom.  Life was wonderful.

   I fell in love with number 3 and a few months later he was moving in with us.  I got a call for number 4 and reluctantly agreed to try it out for 6 months.  It's been 3 years next month, her adoption will be final later this year.  We wanted another baby and brought one back from vacation, she was born exactly 9 months later.  She was 9 months old when I realized that number 6 was on the way.  When he was born, we had 4 kids ages 4 and under.  Life is now crazy.

   I always wanted to be the fun mom with the perfectly decorated, perfectly clean, beautiful dream home.  The last 3 years have stolen the fun mom, but I'm working on finding her again.  The perfectly decorated house may come one day but my budget doesn't have room for it right now.  The clean house?  Um, did you catch that I have 6 kids?  Ah, the dream house.  I had that, it's for sale right now.  The house we live in is nice, but it's so far from that dream house.  I don't know if we will ever have another dream house or not.  I will always long for the perfectly decorated, always clean dream house though.  Just in case you're wondering, it's a big old farm house, with a huge front porch.  It's bright yellow, has lots of windows, and is full of southern charm.  It's a house that invites you to put your feet on the furniture, curl up with a good book and an ice cold drink.  My Pinterest boards are full of them!

   My life doesn't have disappointments, it has dreams that haven't come true yet.  To me, disappointments come once you've given up.  Dreams give me hope and as long as I have something to hope for, I'm happy.