What We've Been Up To- In Homeschool and In Life. Still Keeping It Simple

This isn't one of those "deep thoughts posts"- just a little bit about what we've been up to lately in homeschool and in life...

We are still enjoying our new home immensely. It serves daily to remind me of waiting patiently on the Lord to reveal His plan, in His time. It was like this house was built for us, and it is where we are truly meant to be. I feel so at home. I am anticipating all we will do here...for His glory.

For years, I dreamed of seeing beautiful sunrises and sunsets from my windows- and now this. This is my view each night as I prepare dinner. He truly has been faithful and given me more than I ever deserve.

We have been having a good few weeks of school. With some upcoming trips planned this Spring for my speaking engagements, I have made sure to buckle down now. We are persevering through Algebra, and daily the Lord is teaching me so much about myself through those school lessons.

We are studying Romans in our family Bible study. We don't do anything too fancy. As always, simple for us works best. We read through the book together, a little bit each day, and discuss. We read commentaries and try to dig in to understand who wrote the book, when, and why. We learn what was going on in the world when it was written. I love our studies together.

Together, we are also studying history with The Mystery of History. We are on Volume II. Sometimes we add in the extra activities if time allows, especially for the younger ones. We also incorporate geography in together. Each child also has various reading assignments, writing assignments, copywork, etc. for language lessons.

The youngest is learning to read, and I truly feel such joy in my heart when I see him "getting it." He is writing words, and today made some sentences on his own. We use many, many real life lessons and lots of play to teach him.

Today, he even made his own "letter book." Future writer? ;)

My younger boys are working through Apologia science, using Exploring Creation with Physics and Chemistry. We are almost finished with the book. My daughter uses a middle school course on her own. We also daily learn science through nature outdoors, robotics, Lego building, house projects, lots of documentaries, and just everyday life. We love watching birds, and this week enjoyed two pileated woodpeckers. We also have two red-tailed hawks that visit our property daily.

Real life learning is house construction projects, photography, graphic design, art, sewing, cooking,music, fixing things, budgeting, and lots and lots of outdoors. 

We are preparing my eigth grader to learn how to start her own business. We have decided part of high school learning will be entrepreneurship and real life skills. What a perfect time to start a business in her life- she has nothing to lose! She lives at home and is not relying on the income to support herself. At the end she may decide this is the path she will take, or God will lead her elsewhere. But for now, we are starting to prepare for teaching her all the ins and outs and to actually have her start a business. Right now she practices and learns photography daily. Next, she will learn the business aspects-from marketing to bookkeeping. She even has some clients lined up! My husband has "added her" to his staff and I even use her quite a bit for blog photos.

We firmly believe the best way to prepare for life these days is not some standardized test, but to get out in the real world and learn how to live in it. This is an exciting venture for her (and us!)

One of her photos:

So, as you can see we are keeping things simple.  Simple can be just as fruitful as all the bells and whistles, in fact maybe even moreso. We are trying not to be distracted by all the fluff and focus on bearing fruit. Preparing for life. We have weeded out so many things that were not necessary, and are learning to enjoy the everyday things.


The Big Giveaway at Bible Based Homeschooling!

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(1) K-12 Science Curriculum of CHOICE from Apologia
(1) Paperback Edition of Simply Homeschool 2nd Edition
(1) Paperback Edition of Called Home
(1) Trades of Hope Haiti Bracelet
(5) Copies of So Much More Than The Bunny
There is also a FREE eBook for all ($9.99 value)
Head over to the Bible Based Homeschooling blog NOW to enter!


Don't Lose Your Life to Worry

I'm going to be 40 years old this summer, and today it dawned on me...I am probably only about 30 years old...Not by some miracle anti-aging remedy...but just being real here...I have lost so much time to worry...And believe me, those are ten years I wish I had lived.

I used to be an intense worrier, and while I have improved, it can still grip me like no other. Fear often strikes during the night, or a trigger if someone is not feeling well, or maybe an unforeseen bill in the mail, or a seemingly innocent word from my husband about work being slow that week. Sometimes the culprit is even unknown....I just start to spiral down with my thoughts, into a pit of worry.

Lately though, I have had a good grip on those thoughts, quickly turing them away and giving them to Jesus. Sometimes, I literally have to repeat in my mind, "JESUS.JESUS.JESUS," over and over again just to drown out the other thoughts. He has given me the peace that surpasses all understanding though, because for so long my only understanding was to think ahead and worry about "what if."

I guess in some ways, I needed my worry though...because without it, I wouldn't have realized that even when the worst seems to happen, it is always for our good. I needed to learn that worrying didn't change anything. We always learned and grew closer to God in the hard times. He never left us. How many times I stressed about my husband's work and finances, and then he DID lose his job- THREE times! Yet, here we are today, with a thriving family business, living our dream- because of the last job loss.  My worry didn't stop it from happening, and my worry didn't change things. Yet, the outcome was for our good.

So much of the things I worried about never even came to fruition, and that is where the time in my life was lost. I would sit with my thoughts, letting them consume me, even unable to play with my kids or enjoy the family. Fear had gripped me. Even when I was in college, before kids, I can remember worrying about the future...what if I got sick, or didn't ever get married, or have children. What if I died before living my dreams? Not one of those things came true, and I worried for so many days, nights, and weeks.

Yet, had they come true...would the worrying had stopped it? NO. God would have had me exactly where He wanted me. So there is nothing to worry about, because He controls the future and He knows it already and He has planned it all for good.

There is nothing to worry abut because I do know that my life and those I love WILL end someday, and I know WHERE I am going...and there is no fear. Holding onto things here is futile, because my will to hold onto them, is not what keeps them here.

"Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:27

It has taken me so long to make even baby steps in this area, and many times it was one step forward and two steps back. Yet since we moved into our home, and things have been going so well, I even started to worry...when will it end? When will the rug be pulled out from us? When will we sink into the valley from this mountaintop? And you know what...I am missing out on the beauty of the moment HERE when I do that- I have SO much to enjoy right now, that is preposterous to sit here and worry when it will end. Otherwise I am missing out on the beautiful gift of each moment.

"Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. 
What is your life? 
For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 
Instead you ought to say, 
“If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4:14-15

All I know is today God has given me a mission. Right Here. Right now. Because if I were to meet Him face to face tonight, would I want my last moments to have been spent worrying about a nonexistent future.  The last moments be spent in lack of faith? The beauty is, HE has every day numbered already and our job is to walk in faith waiting for it all to unfold, without trying to control the wrinkles in the unfolding. We are just to pursue each day in faith.

So, here I sit knowing that even my wasted time of worrying was not fully wasted because it did teach me, but oh, that I had LOVED those days instead of spending them in needless worry. So, all I can do now, is muster up every ounce of faith, and know that this moment has already been planned by Him, even my typing of these words has been planned by Him...and walk each step of the day in His will trusting Him with all. I will live each moment knowing that whatever the future holds, hard times or bliss...He has made every step for a purpose.


Fighting the Doubts

I sit and watch my daughter, now a young lady, and remember all too quickly her little five year old laugh…that very first day of schooling…me, with much trepidation, yet excitement..bringing her outside for our very first lesson. We were learning about hearing, and I had her close her eyes and listen to her surroundings for five minutes. After time was up, she squealed, “I like this!” I laughed in delight too! We were so excited. Such a simple moment.

It was a delightful day, yet with an unknown future, completely relying on God for what would lie ahead. How quickly though we lost that laughter…before the weight of the world seemed to take over. We “have to do” so many things, we "have to" check off our list, we "have to" get involved…we "have to" get this right.

The simple laughter that came partly from nervousness and partly from great anticipation of what was to come, was gone
. It was replaced by all too often a nagging voice, or shamefully…a snapping one.

"You must do this. You must do that." Deep in my mind, I woulds see endless visions of what I had seen online, or in a book, or sometimes probably just those that my own mind surmised as ideal.

Am I doing enough? Am I keeping up? Will I ruin the children? Why aren't they behaving? Why aren’t they doing chores cheerfully? What am I doing wrong?

Yes, these question really did run through my mind as I would lie awake many nights, tossing and turning, feeling the weight of night and darkness, hoping we were doing the right things. Usually though, by the time morning came many of the fears would ease, and we would press forward with the day.

How quickly, when I started to take my eyes off of the calling and off of Him, did I worry. That worry came from the distractions. No longer were we walking forth in simple joy knowing He was holding us up; we were walking ahead of Him and trying to see the end of the path, with reassurances from others that we were doing it "right."

Looking back, the joy of that first day came from knowing we were fulfilling a calling. We knew that we were answering God's call for us to homeschool. We didn't have a long term plan, but we knew that was where we belonged.

And we laughed. We laughed at the unknown future, because we knew it belonged to God.
I have learned His way is the only right way. It may not be comfortable. It may not be accepted. But I only answer to Him. His way is the only way, and His way doesn't keep me up at night restless. It keeps me in peace because He gives me peace. I can trust an unknown future to a known God. I can trust Him in this, because He gave me these children to raise knowing I could never do it alone. I could only do it with His grace, mercy, and leading every step of the way.

These cold dark months can get weary. They can allow thoughts to creep in that are not from Him. We must keep our eyes ahead, trusting blindly at times. He keeps His promises. If He calls us to a mission, it our job to complete it without knowing the outcome, but knowing He already has determined the outcome. It is an all-surrendering posture on our knees daily. We must rid our minds of our doubts and fears, because He is in control. True surrender takes place only when we loosen the grip on our life, and give it all up to Him.

And as long as this journey feels, it really is so short. That spirited five year old, turned a young lady overnight. I don't want to waste this journey worrying...but doing. I want to be completely trusting in His will for us, enjoying every step of the way. Head bent low in surrender, and eyes fixed on Him, saying each day, "Lead me, Lord. Where you take me, I go, willingly."


What God is Teaching Me Through Algebra

Oh, Algebra. How I loathed you. Yet, I am slowly learning to like you...

You see, this year my daughter started Algebra. We have always used Math-U-See and for the most part, it has been a breeze. Sure, as she got older there were some sticky parts, but we always got through mostly unscathed. Until Algebra came along...

Tears. Lots of tears. Sometimes even from Mommy ;)

I realized that math was really getting nitty gritty now. No longer could my daughter watch the DVD, do the lesson, and then have me correct where she went wrong. Because this time when she went wrong, I didn't know how to fix it. I didn't understand this stuff myself!

So, I started watching the DVDs with her...and learning the lessons alongside her. That helped tremendously because I relearned it, and now could now explain it...

I would think to myself, "Wasn't it enough that I had to learn this once in high school, but now I have to learn it over again?"

And then it hit me. God is always, always teaching me through homeschool...and so much more than Algebra....

God teaches us hard lessons so often in life. Then time passes, and we don't need those lessons anymore, and we forget. (like Algebra...I mean, who needs it? ;)

And then, one day we are back in that place where life gets hard. And He needs to reteach us lessons from the past. We no longer can just get through it with what we think we know...we need to go back and relearn the lessons. Like Algebra.

So, maybe relearning Algebra isn't really about Algebra for me. It is about recognizing God in so many things. He teaches us the hard lessons, and sometimes we need to go through them again so we can get close to the teacher again and really listen in. We need to relearn hard lessons to grow.

So today, I am grateful for Algebra. I am grateful that I am relearning something from the past, and have recognized the simple lesson He is teaching me. Sometimes, the second time around is the time that matters.


Simple Truths...Perspective Matters

Let me introduce you to Heather. Heather recently contacted me with this note:

"Nine years ago, right before my new baby's first Christmas, I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. 
I am writing to you because this winter, I am using my borrowed time to share my story, in hopes to keep others safe. It would mean the world to me if you'd be willing to lend your voice by writing a post on your blog to help me in the fight against this terrible disease. "
I watched, and was brokenhearted. I can't imagine. Yet, I was also inspired.

Sometimes it is the simple truths that we need to really stare us in the face. Life is short. Life is unpredictable. Life is not guaranteed.

Perspective matters. We can keep an eternal perspective knowing that life is a gift, and the number of our days are known only to Him.

"We operate from a place of hope, and a place of living in the moment... I've been accused my whole life of wearing in rose-colored glasses and living life optimistically...and I have no intention of taking them off."
Heather Von St. James

Heather's story is powerful. Please watch and learn more. It is Heather's desire to spread the word to others, so that they may join in the fight!

Visit Heather at http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/#.VK1kSoobCUQ
Or on her facebook page, twitter page, or Google+ 


Living Simply In a Bigger House...What I Am Filling My House With These Days

Sometimes I look around and I feel guilty. The simple girl who longed for nothing more than a tiny house, simple at most, with lots of land...has ended up in more square footage than she dreamed. I had always said I'd be happy with just my family, wherever the Lord took us. A bigger house meant more to clean and more to take care of. I just needed enough.

"Maybe a better layout..." I would think. In our old house, we loved to have families over. We host a family Bible study night regularly with about 20 people and since many of our friends have large families, just one family over means a big group! Often when we had those family nights, eating took place in shifts because there just wasn't room in the kitchen for all of us. We always had a great time, but it was crowded!

When God led us to this house, just about a month and half ago, I felt like I was dreaming. The land is picture perfect. We have the property we have always dreamed of. And then there's the house...it is more than I ever asked for...yet God gave it to us. Now, it is not a mansion by any means, but it is more room for us than we ever looked for.

And here, I feel guilty. 

"I'm the simple girl. 
The one who wants to have less and do more...."

And as I sat this past weekend watching my house fill up for my husband's 40th birthday party...it truly hit home. We had about 50 people in the house, and it was comfortable. There was a nice flow, and we weren't huddled in the kitchen..and I realized God gave me more...so I can DO more. 

I can only imagine the family nights to come...the teenagers that will pass through this place many a Friday nights...the summers that will fill our property with people....because we are all about relationships. And God gave us more, so we can pursue more. Having more isn't necessarily a greed thing or a bad thing...He knows my heart...and I would have been content in a tiny home. Yet, He gave me more...

So the question I ask now, is not... "Is this too much?" 
"What will I do, with what He has given..."

And I know the answer. A full home for me is a full heart. I will use it to fill it with people, pursuing relationships and real things. Not to fill it with needless trinkets or treasures that fade...but with memories, and people, and love, and HIM.

The kids and I talked about storing up treasures in heaven today in school. We also talked about fixing our eyes on the unseen and how the temporal will pass away.

Yes, this house is temporal I told them...but what we do with it, will be eternal.

Even Mama is zip lining...and having fun! Looking forward to lots more memories here!