Friday, July 13, 2012

Surfing for Knowledge

Perhaps it is an occupational hazard of being a homeschooling mom. When I face a problem in my life, I immediately begin researching. I hop on the Internet, looking for reputable websites that might have solutions, spending hours trolling through reams of electronic data. By the time I’m done, I’ve followed too many bunny trails than I care to admit, and I am often more confused than when I began my search. My head is filled with conflicting information, and I am no closer to a solution than when I began. Let’s not even mention the hours of wasted time which I could have spent with my children, instead of sending them off on their own because, “Mommy is busy right now.”

Sadly, too many times, the hours spent in study and research include very little time in prayer and God’s word. Proverbs 19:27 says, Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. When my first reaction is to turn to sources other than the Lord, then I have ceased listening to instruction. I have strayed away from the instructions of the Source of knowledge and traded it for the clamoring voices of the multitude that often only seek to push their own agendas.

I’m not saying there is no place for gathering information or seeking the counsel of others. What I know is this – when I turn to the Lord first and seek instruction in His Word, I often find the answers I need. If I need to look to other sources, my time spent with Him gives me clarity of mind, making it easier to filter through the abundance of available information, so that I can quickly find the answers I need and get back to the more important job of serving my family.

Turning from a mom into a research associate is only one of many hazards we face as homeschooling moms. What are some things you struggle with? A few of mine include trying to control people in my life, needing to be “the best” at what I do, taking on too many outside responsibilities, and having unrealistic expectations. (Hmm…I am beginning to see a pattern here.) I hope to write about some of these in upcoming blog posts. Please let me know if there are particular topics you would like to see addressed.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Grasshoppers in My Life

While warm weather, garden vegetables, and vacations all herald the onset of summer, the surest sign summer is here to stay is the annual invasion of grasshoppers. These harbingers of vegetative destruction gnaw on grass, strip bushes of their leaves and bark, and decimate young trees. I can’t sit on the porch swing without one jumping at my head or crawling on my leg or neck. These insects are annoying and destructive, and I despise them.  

Another unwelcome summer visitor is the tendency to second-guess our decisions about teaching our children at home. In the less hectic days of summer, I have time to look through stacks of homeschooling catalogs that have accumulated over the past months. With all of the new, flashy programs, my low-tech techniques suddenly appear less effective. “Should I try this new science program?” “Look at all of the great materials that come with this history program. Surely the kids will learn more from this than our current practice of reading and discussing good books.” “This next year I think I will do more unit studies or lapbooks or notebooking or…"
These negative thoughts are like grasshoppers in my life. They often arrive a few at a time, but left unchecked, they have the power to cripple and destroy our family. This year, instead of spending the summer months planning a “better” way to homeschool, I am determined to take time to relax, enjoy my children, observe their interests and passions, and build relationships with them. We will work on projects, try out new recipes, craft together, visit friends and family, and spend time laughing and having fun.  I will put my Sharpies, schedules, and endless lists on the shelf, and if I feel compelled to re-evaluate my home education plans, I will remember that while academics have their place, life skills and relationships are what really count in life.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Coming Up For Air

That foster care assignment I wrote about in September -- it took us for the ride of our lives! It was exciting, fulfilling, challenging, frustrating, exhausting, demanding, faith-building and S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G. It took every bit of my time, and while I should be apologizing for not posting during the past 6 months, I absolutely did not have a spare minute.

We had 4 foster children -- a group of three siblings, ages 2, 3, and 5 and a 9-month old baby who joined our family 9 days after the three little guys arrived. You might ask, "What were they thinking?" That would be a reasonable question, and one which I asked myself several times. In January, the baby went to an adoptive home, and the other three children went home to their biological mom in March. 

We are now back our core household of eight. Rachel and Nathan are still at HSU, although Rachel graduates in May, and is currently looking for a job utilizing her degree in Math with a Biology minor. (Any job leads would be welcome!)  Nate is selling boots and all that other cowboy stuff at Cavenders in Abilene, while pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. David and Miriam are 17 -- how did that happen? David has his license and a part-time job. Josiah turns 14 next week, and Leah will be 16 in June. I really only have two little guys left - Gideon, 10, and Essie, 9 - and they are growing up way too fast.

We are taking a break from foster care at least until June. We have Rachel's graduation, and then she and I will be taking a trip to Nebraska at the end of May. As always, life is full, and I never seem to accomplish all the things I hope to. The journey continues -- and hopefully it includes more blog posts along the way...

Friday, September 16, 2011

First Foster Care Assignment

In my last post, I made reference to a crazy, roller coaster spring and summer. Much of that was due to the effort we were expending to be licensed as foster parents. The training, home improvements, baby-proofing, and inspections culminated in our being licensed in August. We went on the placement list the first of September. Since then, every time the phone rings, I wonder if it is "the call."

Well, "the call" finally came. We are scheduled to have a respite care placement the last weekend of September -- two sisters ages 1 and 5. They are with another foster family and we will be giving those foster parents a well-deserved weekend break. The next week we are probably going to have our first long term placement -- a 2 year old boy, 4 year old girl, and 5 year old boy. They will probably be with us for a couple of months. 

As we prepare to welcome these children into our hearts and home, I am burdened to pray for them. These months might be the only ones in their lives where they can experience the love of Christ in action. I am praying for our own children -- that they will be welcoming, generous, "on board" with us in this ministry.This is a huge undertaking that we would never take on unless we felt the call of God on our lives. 

Even with the Lord's calling and blessing, I know there will be tough times and lots of adjustments. Satan has already begun throwing his fiery darts, and we need to be walking in love and grace like never before.

I will chronicle this journey, no matter how messy it may be. In order to protect the privacy of our foster children, I cannot post identifying details or photos, so any images I use will be generic ones and not children in our care.

Faten your seat belts and come along for the ride!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quick update

I am just making a quick update in case anyone wonders if I fell of the face of the earth!

This spring and summer were beyond crazy, and I had to make difficult choices on how to spend my time and efforts. The more I let the blog go, the easier it became to ignore it. The tougher life got, the harder it was to write posts that were honest and transparent. Now I am at the point where I need to either overcome my embarrassment and post something, or abandon my blog altogether. I am choosing to persevere and hopefully to be more consistent.

The big news is that we are now licensed as a foster family. We can have up to 4 foster children, ages 0-7. We haven't had a placement yet, but we got a call about a potential placement last week, so at least we know we are in the loop!

Basketball practice begins in full swing tomorrow. Syd is coaching our JV boys' team, which Josiah and Gideon will be participating in, Leah will play on the JV girls' team, and David is back on the varsity boys' team. Three different practices, three days a week, plus games beginning the end of October and going through February. YIKES!

We are back in school, trying to get settled in a routine. As I've said before, "Routine is the oil that keep this machine running." Working on schedules, menus, and academic plans has been keeping me busy.

I am reading some good books lately. For daily devotions/Bible reading I am using the My Utmost Devotional Bible. I really love this. The bible is divided into 365 daily readings, one OT passage, a Psalm, Proverbs, and a NT passage. There is also an Oswald Chambers devotional reading for each day that relates to one of the Bible passages. I am always challenged to deeper faith by Chambers' writings, and they have been very timely as we have traveled this foster care journey.I am also reading Radical by David Platt. Talk about something that will make you examine the very core of your faith and walk with the Lord! This book is convicting, challenging, enlightening, and tough -- really tough. I hope to post more on my reactions to it at a later date.

I am turning over a new leaf and am determined to get more sleep. I am 90 minutes behind schedule already, so I best close for now. I am praying for renewed hope, comittment, and vision for this blog.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

God is in the details

This week I spent 5 hours sitting in the orthodontist’s office with Leah. For this pleasure, I plunked down $4725.00, and we still have $1600 remaining to pay over the next 9 months. Lovely.

 Here is Leah, just hours after the braces were applied.

I think it is pretty neat that the money I earned from writing over the past several months was $4700 – just $25 shy of what we needed to get Leah’s braces started. It reminds me of a day almost 15 years ago when the caseworker from our adoption agency called and asked us if we would consider adopting Leah. We had NO money since we had just paid adoption fees for David and Miriam in the previous year. We said “yes” anyway, confident the Lord would provide the money we needed. 

The week before she was born, my publisher sent me a royalty check for the exact amount we needed for her fees, plus an extra $40 for us to go out to dinner and celebrate. What was even neater was that the books had gone to the printer nine months prior to the payment – at the same time Leah was conceived. And to think, some people don’t believe that God really cares about the details of our lives. Posh! I know He is all about the details.
Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.  
Luke 12:6-8 (New American Standard Bible)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Catching a Vision

"What happened to your blogging," asked my dear friend.

The answer to this question is that I got caught up in the business of living life and failed to record it. I truly regret this because while the past few months have been incredibly difficult and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g, they have also been a time of sweet fellowship with God, of closeness to my husband that only comes through enduring pain together, and of realizing how God has blessed me with incredible friends who love and encourage me, rather than judge and condemn me. I have learned some tremendous lessons about unconditional love, trust, abiding faith, and doing the right thing when it would be so much easier to look the other way. I hope to post more on these lessons in the coming weeks.

Today I made a vision board for 2011. Basically, I wrote down 12 "visions" I have for my life in the coming year. Then I divided a sheet of paper into four columns and three rows. Next, I found pictures that illustrated my visions and pasted them in each block. It was pretty neat the way the visions fell into categories. The first row focused on my relationships -- with the Lord, my dear husband, my family, and my friends. The next row dealt with my health -- eating healthy foods, exercising, losing weight, and getting enough sleep. (Those of you who know me know I am terrible about getting by on too little sleep!) On the last row, I listed ways I hope to develop my creative side by blogging more regularly, writing letters and journaling, cooking creatively, and sewing. My next step is to print and laminate a copy to post at my desk or in my bathroom, the only two places I sit long enough to ponder great thoughts!

I hope my vision board will be a constant reminder of the person the Lord wants me to become in the coming year. I encourage you to envision what the Lord has for you in 2011. I'm sure it will have a relationships component. I highly recommend you embrace your creativity and let go of toxic relationships or activities. Look ahead to God's provision and promises in 2011.