Life Updates & Homeschooling… Again

I have many posts in draft, including one that has been asked several times here or via emails on what I think about women in ministry… it is coming, it’s just so complicated and long I’ve been trying to pare it down to a more easy-to-read post.

We’ve going through lots of things this past school year!  Homeschool has been amazing, even though sometimes it can be harder some days than others.  For the most part, it has been wonderful getting to really focus on teaching our older son (and to some degree our younger son) things that we feel the school system was deliberately leaving out or twisting to be seen from a false narrative.  And we’re able to focus so much more on Christian ethics and morals in our lessons, and involve the Christian aspects behind historical stories and even in science.

And going through Pilgrim’s Progress has just been AMAZING for our son.  Again, I cannot reccommend this book enough to families with children!  It is a MUST read for the strengthening of their faith (and for yours!).  Just read it, and honor it in your house.  I’m sure the sweet author John Bunyan may have gotten some things wrong, but overall it is very on point and a good tool for building a child’s faith.

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In other news, some of you may remember we’ve been trying to have another child.

It’s just been taking longer than we expected, which isn’t really “bad,” but every month when I find out I’m not pregnant, I feel this emptiness and longing… and tell my husband how I just simply want to have another of his babies.  It’s a very strange and sad kind of emptiness.  And I’m so so sorry to sound so selfish to any women out there who have dealt with never having a child.  I’m not in any way trying to minimize your pain – I’m sure I should be happy that we have 3 already (and I am!), but it IS just a strange kind of thing that I’m going through each month that I’m not able to conceive.  I knew it would probably take longer… I’m far older than I was when we had our first (almost a decade!) and I’m accepting that maybe it’s not possible.

I definitely am not trying to make it a big deal, and some people in our circle think I’m ridiculous for even wanting more children 😦 , but to be honest, it has just been a little depressing and hard.  And I never thought I’d feel those feelings when needing to wait or having to accept that … maybe 3 kids is “it?”  It’s ok, and I still love and trust God so much, but I’ve been surprised at these feelings inside.

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That and we’ve been through an intense few months of my husband studying for a work thing… something that took him away almost every second of him being off, but thankfully that season is over and we’re more into a, “let’s finish school strong,” mode 🙂 .

We’ve actually become busier as I’ve started to teach another sweet little boy (5 yr old) who is the grandson of our neighbor.  His father and mother had him out of wedlock in high school (she was only 16), and have both abandoned him to other life choices (her drugs and he’s off at college very far away).  He’s practically an orphan and it is just so hard to see up close and personal what that does to a child.

We’ve watched ALL of this play out over the years we’ve lived next to his grandmother.  And now she’s called upon me to kind of repair what they’ve broken and neglected.  He can’t even read or write well, and I’ve been gently teaching him just the basics, and thankfully it’s been working and hopefully in a small way, it will help him.  It’s so tragic.  He is so sweet, and my husband even wants to adopt him.  He’s basically become almost a part of our family as he’s over every day, and just kind of folded into the fabric of our life.

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Something that’s been such a blessing in this busy season has been the mom’s group I’ve talked about before.  It’s a group that’s mostly made up of very large, home-schooling families… think 4+ kids per mom who attends!  It is incredible the stuff I’m learning in this group ❤ and SO fulfilling to be around other like-minded women and children it’s hard to describe how nice it is.

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So with all that above, we’ve just been so. incredibly. busy.  And I’m exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted. 🙂

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How to Survive in the Desert

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Our boys watched this as part of the homeschooling science experience when learning about the different biomes, specifically, the rainforest, desert, and tundra.  The oldest had to pick one to do a mini project on, and he hands-down picked the desert!

Oh what fun!!!!  So we’ve been diving into the adventure of EVERYTHING to know about the desert, and one thing he thought would be interesting was to learn how one would survive if they were ever stuck out in the desert for a period of time.

Thought this video might be something others would like 😀 there is a part 2, however we haven’t watched that one yet.

I have to say though, both boys were glued to the screen the entire 36 minutes long, even though a lot of it is just talking and explaining, they LOVED watching this man teach them that much!

If anyone who happens to be reading this post has ever had experience living or camping (or surviving!!) in a desert, I’d very much appreciate your take on this video (and your personal experience in general)!

 

Happy Baby Girl

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All of us were sick a week ago, and we were just getting better this week.  I’ve actually never had all three children get THIS sick with a stomach bug all at the same time.  I had to set up the living room so they were all sleeping in easily accessible places so I could get to them in time.  Every 20 minutes one of them would start vomiting, and this went on for about 5 hours, so I just stayed out there with them, trying to sleep in between those 20 minutes.  Just seeing little ones throwing up and their whole little bodies being so sick and in so much pain was horrible.  Thank goodness it only lasted that one night, and then it was easy to care for them the next few days as they were so weak and exhausted.

It was crazy hard, and yet very sweet and bonding in unexpected ways. ❤

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We’ve been finding out that homeschooling is not a very glamorous production 😀 , teaching and school work and projects get done, learning gets done thankfully, but at least for us at this time, it’s priority number one.  This is a nice way of saying the rest of the house gets tentatively put on hold at times, until I can get to it, which is very frustrating for me.  Laundry is clean, but needs to be folded and put away.  Or dishes need to be done, those kind of things are looking to go a little by the wayside at times these days.

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Hopefully I can find more balance to teaching and getting housework done, soon.  But oh how the garden is calling 😀 and Spring is coming!!!!  We are definitely going to be doing mostly outdoor classes once the weather gets warmer.  The days already look just like Spring sometimes 🙂 and our kids love being outside.

 

So… while the kids were over their sickness (and we were getting it and getting over it) right about the time the lunar eclipse happened earlier this week, and with homeschooling, something like this is a MUST, nevermind me still being a little sick… it was totally worth it!

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We didn’t let our oldest stay up for all of it of course, but we let him stay up to see the beginning of the eclipse and to try to get some pictures.  I showed him how to take moon pictures, which can be tricky 🙂

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You can really see the eclipse starting… when we first went outside, we could see the entire full moon!  This was just so much fun to do with our son!

We’re all feeling better now, and so excited for sunnier weather 😀

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Thanks for reading ❤

Stephanie

Letters from Mentors: Will the Light in My Eyes Go Out from Not ‘Achieving All I Could Be?’

A few months ago, I had a discussion with RichardP at another blog about going back to school to get a simple training degree (2 years or shorter!) eventually when the kids were older.

RP said:

“I’d hate to see the light go out of your eyes because you one day conclude that you never got the chance to be all that you could be.”

I really don’t think he meant ill-will toward me at all, but something about his comment sounded odd to me, as if the only way the light in my eyes wouldn’t go out, would be pursuing more education and getting back into the working world (which realistically, this may not happen now that we’re homeschooling).  When something bothers me, I tend to ask women I consider friends and mentors what they think.  So I asked a few women who were older (decades older) to see what they thought of his comment, especially in light of our family situation of me needing to be home with our kids right now.

Stingray gave me just an incredible reply with lots of wisdom and encouragement; it gave me much to think about.

The whole point of having these “Letters from Mentors,” is to help other women out there who may feel the way I do, have the same questions or are looking for answers that aren’t readily available anymore in our sinful culture.  I hope her words blesses any women out there who come across this same sentiment like her words blessed me.

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From Stingray:

Hey Stephanie,

I’ve  been thinking about your email a lot over the past months and I can tell you, this man’s statement is incredibly irritating to me, as well.  I have to say, you need to go with your gut on this one.  The light in your eyes is there because of the joy in your life.  You get to decide what brings you joy.  Not some random man who only knows you from the internet.  It sounds to me like your family brings you joy.
What kind of light would you really have in your eyes if you went back to school, presumably went into a good amount of debt, and missed all of that time with your family?  And while much of the world these days tends to equate the piece of paper you would get for your degree as an education, is that really what it constitutes?
Many would say that since I’m a homeschooling stay at home mom I am wasting my life, but I can certainly tell you that I am FAR more educated now than I was when I got my degree (which was useful in finding me a husband and that was the very best thing that came from it).
Education is not a piece of paper.  It is a compilation of what you have learned.  What better age to live in than the internet age to get a true education. If it is knowledge you desire, you have it nearly free at your finger tips.  If it is status you desire, which is what most women want when the speak of career, then yes, school is the way to go.  But as you said, at what price and will it bring you joy?
You asked if I have run into this.  Not personally, no.  I mean, I’ve seen people who really resent stay at home mom’s and whatnot, but it’s never been said to my face.  (Well, when I was pregnant with my first a woman asked me what I was going to do after the baby came and I told her I was going to be a SAHM and homeschool.  The look she gave me suggested I had a foul stench, but I just thought that was funny).
But being a SAHM has always been my dream since I was a little girl.  I never had any career aspirations. I did go to college, because that is what you did at 18 those days.  I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t enjoy working for the 5 years I did. 
I get that some women are happy working, but I do not believe that it is true of most of the women who make that claim.  I think they say it because they think they have to.  They believe it, because the alternative is unthinkable.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not unthinkable.

The alternative can really be what maintains that light.

Yeah,  I know that in the midst of diapers and sleepless nights that it might not seem like it, but really envision that dream you mentioned.

Having those Godly children and watching their effect on the world.  In 50 years, in 100 years, what do you think will have a bigger impact in this world?

This is all to say, that man doesn’t know what he is talking about.  He’s mimicking back to you the standard knowledge so many of us were taught growing up.  But were most of us ever taught an alternative choice to this?  Were we ever taught that something else that might bring us great happiness is out there?  Why were we never given a choice to make on our own?  The very fact that you believe you do have a choice says a whole lot.  Don’t let him doubt yourself.  This is your choice to make and you have given it way more thought and have more experience to make the decision than vast numbers of people out there.  It is yours to make.  You know what brings you joy.
Block the rest of the world out and listen only to that still small voice and your husband in this matter.  You will figure it out that way.  The world is not in your home.  Your home is where this decision needs to come from.
All my best to you, Stephanie.  Make this choice in a place of confidence.  Follow your gut.  You know far more about this than most.  Trust that.
Stingray

Books for Young Minds

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One of the gifts we thought to give our oldest (8) this year for Christmas, was the gift of some really good classic books.  We both have an intense love of books and reading, one of our favorite pastimes before we had children was to take turns reading to each other at night after the work day from our favorite books.

We want our children to hopefully share this love of books, and we think the best way to help them achieve that, is to read to them, and to read to them often.

Starting our homeschooling journey recently, I’d been trying to figure out what kinds of books to read that were fitting for him.  The coursework I’d chosen was great in all other categories, except the literature suggestions unfortunately.  I mean… this boy has been reading Harry Potter since age 5 in kindergarten.  He went through all the books of Narnia with my husband two years ago – so suggestions like Winnie the Pooh or Pippi Longstocking, although we read through them and laughed… they’re more in line with what I’m reading to our 4 year old.  I could tell he really needed more.

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The first one he was super excited to dive into was The Pilgrim’s Progress.  I told him about this book as it was one I remember reading when I was about his age at the Christian school I went to.  This book was so good, and so helpful in one’s Christian journey, that even 20-something years later, I still think about it and remember parts that reflect what I’m going through in my journey as a Christian.  Even now as we’ve started reading it together (he was so excited he couldn’t wait for the break to be over 😀 ), I’m given the chance to find new treasures and meanings in it that I of course missed at such a young age.  I told him this, too, that this would be a book he’d probably love to reread over the course of his life, just to understand the journey better as he gains more life experience.  I still think it’s good for children this young to read it.  I remember reading it and of course realizing I didn’t have those kinds of life experiences yet, but still understanding the wisdom it imparted and instruction on how to navigate different things like despair and discouragement, the hills of difficulty, etc.  And I can see that even though he’s only 8, he already comprehends those things, too.

Plus it is wonderful to read it with him, stop and then explain things about life and faith.  The characters in Pilgrim’s Progess are just so necessary for children to understand!  People who are “Obstinate,” or “Pliable,” or the “Wordly Wiseman,” or the man named, “Legality.”  Each one proposes an amazing discussion we then have about who these people are, why they are the way they are, and how they derail one’s life or miss what Christianity is about.

Rereading this book also prompted us to look into the life of the author, John Bunyan, who was such an admirable man in his own right.  Learning together about his own life journey, and that he wrote this book while in prison (!) was a huge lesson in and of itself for us to talk about.  We even read through Bunyan’s “Apology,” for his book, or rather struggled through it LOL…  Because of his use of old English and speaking in riddles, every line I had to stop and explain what he was talking about.  It provided new ideas our son has never thought about deeply enough, but also great humor as every sentence rhymed and sounded so strange!  Overall it was a great lesson in not only the history behind him being imprisoned for just preaching and living out his faith, but also his steadfastness in the face of persecution (writing a book he knew would probably not be accepted – hence the lonnng apology and defense of it).  It was also interesting to learn that some of Bunyan’s harshest critics and naysayers, were of course the fellow Christians themselves.  It’s always been that way, from the Prophets of old, to the Wesley’s, to Spurgeon, etc. and that itself is another great lesson.

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The other books we got him are as in the first picture, Gulliver’s Travels, The Swiss Family Robinson, and Treasure Island.  He already knows of The Swiss Family Robinson, as it’s one of the my husband’s favorite stories, and it has A LOT of strong Christian lessons in it, more than what the popular movies would make it seem like.  We love it because it portrays the almost insurmountable trials of a very traditional Christian family, and shows them constantly looking to their faith and the Bible, and guidance from God to understand how to overcome their barrage of struggles.  Just a wonderful book for growing and influencing a young person’s faith, in our opinion.

And of course Gulliver’s Travels and Treasure Island are more just for pure boyish fun!  Not that girls can’t enjoy these books, too, although I admit I was never interested in reading these two.  Apparently, when men read these as boys they tend to stay with them long into adulthood, which to me is a mark of a very good book worth reading!

 

More books I can’t wait to read with him:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Oliver Twist

 

If any readers have suggestions for what else would be good for children his age, please let know!  I don’t think you can ever have too many good books 😀

Stephanie

Life Updates & Homeschooling!

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We’ve had a lot going on since school started!  We decided to start homeschooling with our oldest, to give him more freedom and a better environment to learn through adventure and doing.  His grades were excellent, all A’s and one 89 this last 9 weeks, but only getting to have 20 minutes for recess (which was sometimes not even outside if it was a little wet or cold), 25 for lunch, and sitting there for hours and hours just wasn’t working, he was starting to strongly dislike school – even though he was good at it!

I spent some time looking online to find if there were other boy moms who had solved this issue of their boys needing more time to play and learn through movement (and less teacher criticism), and found this woman’s amazing blog Building Boys!

Having 3 boys herself, Jennifer Fink intimately understands that being in the typical school environment, with all-female staff who sometimes don’t understand themselves how hard it is for boys and label them “problem children,” can break a boy’s spirit and make him not even want to try at academics in the later years.

Perhaps needless to say, spending seven hours in a day an environment that squelches his natural instincts and disrespects his interests has not exactly engendered a love of education in my lad.

Two years ago, his re-entry after winter break was so tough for him – and so heart-breaking for me – that I wrote a Washington Post essay worrying about the effects of school on his spirit. I wrote:

Re-entry after winter break has not been easy for him. The rules and restrictions of school – Sit Still. Be Quiet. Do What You Are Told, Nothing More, Nothing Less. – have been grating on him, and it shows. His teacher recently emailed me; she’d noticed a change in his behavior (more belligerent, less likely to cooperate) and wanted to know if there was anything going on at home.

My guess, I said, was that he was upset about having to be back in school after break. I was right.

The lack of movement and rigid restrictions associated with modern schooling are killing my son’s soul. (Read More Here)

On that note, switching to homeschooling has been AMAZING.  It’s like a night and day difference, too, with his attitude and emotions at night (he was starting to cry a lot, not wanting to go back the next day – just heartbreaking for us as parents not knowing what to do)!

But now his classes only last until lunch!  He gets to do a woodworking class that’s part of the curriculum I chose in which his OWN DAD is his teacher (he’s so stoked)!  He gets to actually learn an instrument in music class, instead of having to stand there for 45 minutes listening to a lecture and singing what he called “baby songs” (they really were nursery rhymes).  We even went on our first field trip this week as a family to the planetarium since we were studying about the earth, sun, and moon in our sciences classes this week!

And the best part???  Absolutely NO HOMEWORK!!!!!  No more having to do an hour of homework after he’s already been in school for 7 hours.  That hour, having to help him and sometimes re-teach him what they learned during the day so he could do it, was sooooo hard for our family.  The baby would often be screaming and wanting to be picked up or play with her oldest bubba, and our 2nd son would also be trying to play and distract him.  They love him so much, and just wanted to play with him a little before dinner.  Now, they get to play with him so much more, and it’s beautiful to see the creative games they’re coming up with that incorporates all of them together.

It’s also solved our problems with my husband’s schedule in that he was only getting to see our oldest for 1 hour in the mornings (he works afternoons through evenings and comes home after their bedtimes).  NOW our son gets to see him for 6-7 hours a day, and have him as a teacher!  The flexible and relaxed feel of teaching my own son is just incredible, how different from feeling pressured and anxious in having to force 20+ students to understand math concepts and move all at the same pace – I’m not sure how teachers handle that.

If anyone reading this has experience with homeschooling, please let me know!  I’m currently reading a couple of good books that are teaching me how to make it the best experience I’m able to, but I’d LOVE to hear from other families how it’s been (or even not) worked for them.  The good and the bad issues, what to expect in the future, etc.

Thank you for reading!

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaf-ing a Legacy

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This start to the new school year has been so nice and calm, and very welcomed!  Even though I have moments of missing the relaxing summer days – and moments where I can’t believe it went so fast!! – it’s still nice to be able to get back into a stricter routine and learning and everything that comes with Fall ❤  I love all the seasons, but each year I still feel like this one is my favorite.

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Baby in a Cupboard

I love all the school supplies, too 😀  The new pencils, the erasers, the notebooks, the binders – it all actually gets me excited… as nerdy as that sounds!

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She thinks this is her “house!”

I also love this time of year, because it means I organize the early school preparation for our kids, and our second boy is old enough now to really get into practicing letters, numbers, counting, hand-writing, and learning about the world – for 3 years olds 😛  I have no idea why this makes me so happy – I didn’t train to be a teacher or anything, but somehow helping him learn and do his “classwork” is SO fulfilling and fun for me.  It was the same with our oldest, too.

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I like starting early with our kids, at age 3, which I know sounds super early, but I found it really helped our oldest be prepared for the scholastic environment of sitting for certain periods of time, doing work at a desk, and focusing for that long.  Especially for boys, it’s important they’re able to handle the environment to do well in school and beyond.  It was good that he was able to go into kindergarten already knowing how to write, spell some words, read 3-letter words, and do basic addition and subtraction.

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Our second son does his work while listening to classical piano music.  We’re musical eclectics in this house 😉 and depending on the time and mood, we listen to many different kinds of music 😀 .  With the timeless music flowing through the house, it feels so peaceful and just transcendental.  Both my parents played piano ❤ so there’s probably that element that makes me feel at home with it on as well.

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Homeschooling for toddlers is pretty easy.  I usually copy pages from 3-4 different books for kindergartners on writing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, matching exercises, and sometimes easy word “problems.”  I copy them so that our other children will be able to use those same books 🙂 .  Saves money, and allows for each child to have their own personal “notebook” of the work they did from 3-5 years old ❤ .

 

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Hopefully he’ll learn all his numbers and be able to write or recognize them by Christmas, that’s the plan for Fall.  And then in the Spring semester he’ll probably start on sounding out 3-letter words, copying short sentences for his writing class, and adding and subtracting as a primer for mathematics.

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We do art classes sometimes, too, nothing too big, but today we made things out of molding clay that my parents brought this past weekend.  He made a bowl with a textured design inside.  I’m actually really excited to see how it turns out once it dries and he can paint it!!  And our little one made a beautiful hand impression ❤  Love doing things like this!

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He’s using a real bowl lined with plastic to allow his pottery to dry in the bowl-like shape.

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Sometimes it feels like the days are endless streams of Groundhog Day 😀 but I try to trust the process that the little things we’re doing now will hopefully sink into their hearts forever.  They’re my legacy ❤ and I hope they’ll know they’re treasured.

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I’m in a book club this year for moms and we’re going through “The Mission of Motherhood,” by Sally Clarkson.  The book’s focus is on how to make our children feel cherished and loved, with a call to go back to biblical and traditional motherhood.  I haven’t read past the first chapter, but it sounds good so far, and encourages women to stay home to raise their children, at least when they’re young.

Seeing how fast our oldest has grown (**major tears**) makes me treasure the baby stages even more so!  I cannot believe how fast time flies by – it’s almost not fair in way, but of course they have to grow up and grow into adults.  I want them to know that home is ALWAYS here, and that they can always come back and feel loved and cherished and encouraged in their futures.

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It’s harder to find time to read online or write these days, but I love how the days are filled with SO much to do, and maybe the school year makes me feel more productive in that way.

Hope all you readers are having a wonderful start to the fall season!  Eat lots of seasonal foods and drink some delicious fall drinks, please!

Stephanie

 

Feed The Birds – Kid Friendly Bird Feeders

This past week has been very interesting, with literally one strange catastrophe after another for our family.  But we’ve made it through (!!!!)… and have persevered to Easter weekend (somewhat) unscathed.  I’m so glad we’ll be able to celebrate Purim tonight and Easter.  I love Purim… and how wonderful is it that Queen Esther’s faithfulness in spite of her fear and intimidation will be celebrated the same weekend as the Hope of Easter!

Holy Holidays are so special to our family.  I wish you the best this weekend as well, whether you celebrate them or not.

 

If you’re looking for a fun and sweet project to do with your kids to celebrate Spring, making bird feeders is a fun option – and there are a variety of ways depending on what you have around your house to use or what you save.

We listened to this Mary Poppins song, and sang along with it, replayed it.  Corny, yes, but really touching at the same time.  Apparently this song was Walt Disney’s favorite song, he’d have the man who composed it, play it for him on Friday evenings when no one was there in the office.  The man kept playing it even after Disney passed away.

My older son LOVED it, and the baby liked it too 😉

 

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The were easy to place over thin branches or on the fence posts with a simple rubber band.  In hindsight, pinecones would have been perfect for this because you can easily tie a string around their stem or even the end part of their body, and hang them so that they dangle down!

But these worked just as well, and the birds were happy, so all was well!

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One of our beautiful resident doves.  My grandfather loves hearing doves whenever I go to see him and we take him outside.  His health and alzheimer’s is continuing to decline, but even on his “bad” days, taking him outside and letting him feel the warm from the sun and hear the birds cooing, changes his entire mood.

Birds and nature are just beautiful.

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So it took a day or so for our birds to find the feeders, but eventually, even our resident red bird couple found it together.  They are so sweet to watch, always with each other, wherever he is, she is not too far.  And the male sings so beautifully, you can actually sing back to them, and they just might answer you back!

We were ELATED to see them eating off of the feeders…

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Where she feeds him some of the birdseed.  Seriously… they are so romantic!

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And these pictures below were taken probably around 20-25 years ago, by my father… who also was a bird lover, and an amateur photographer 😉

I miss him taking pictures.  He was so good.

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Teaching Our Children to Care for Others

One of the things we successfully did as a family in 2015, and that I’d like to see us do more of in 2016, is spend time showing our kids (really our oldest) how important it is to reach out to others.

It’s not enough for us to just live our lives in our relatively safe, convenient homes and neighborhoods, and think we’re good people because we love God and go to church on Sundays.  If we love God, we will obey His word and proclamations of what we are to do with our time here.

God’s word announces in several places the importance of giving and caring for others, we are called to live outside ourselves constantly in His word,

If anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless.

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

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I honestly haven’t been the best about this in the past couple of years.  Early in our marriage, and even when our oldest was very little, I would make it a point to take care of the material needs of those God put in our path.  We had SO little, sometimes barely even enough to afford food!  But somehow, even during those extremely hard financial times in our marriage, we still had surplus of material items we didn’t actually need, and God would mysteriously bring people into our lives that we could give them to… even though we were barely making it financially, we were STILL able to give out of the things we DID have.

God is mysterious, that is hands down obvious to all who know Him.  How we had the specific items that people needed when we met them during our financial poverty, I have no idea, but it was a blessing to me to be able to still give what I did have to give, and be able to meet REAL needs of the people God brought into our life.

The funny thing about being a good steward over what God’s given you, it doesn’t matter if you have very little, He can STILL use that little you DO have to bless others.  When we’re faithful with the little He’s given us, He often gives us more to take charge over – but with this, comes a greater responsibility, because He’s trusting us to use it wisely.

So in 2015, I made it a very conscious effort to do more, I wanted God to open my eyes so that I could see the people that might need help, and give our money, time, and material items to meet their needs.

We were able to help meet the physical needs of the officer I wrote about in Malicious Joy, the one who was hit by a drunk driver.  It’s one thing to hear about what happened to him, but it’s quite another to get my boys out the door, drive across town and physically meet his material needs.  Going to see him, taking him goodies and food items my son helped me pick out for him, almost every week, was such a blessing – particularly for my son!  The young man was alone, not married, and his family lived hours away… so offering to get things for him, helping by bringing him big meals, were things that he really needed.

It also took the form of visiting elderly people at a nursing home, talking to them, singing them Christmas carols, making them hot chocolate or tea, letting them enjoy my children – having the joy of holding our baby boy.  Many of them don’t get visitors, feel forgotten, and are some of the most interesting people with the most interesting things to say.  This may have blessed them, but I honestly think that me and our boys received an even greater blessing of getting to meet these people, listen to them, and even laugh with them.  We will do more of this visiting elderly people in 2016.

Giving from what we had also took the form of financially meeting people’s needs that God would place on our heart or in our path.  A young blind woman who had been abused in every way, was taken into the wing of an older woman at our church.  She had grown up in foster care homes, and many people that were supposed to have cared and looked out for her, had taken advantage of her and ultimately, left her alone in the world.  Her most pressing need was that she needed money to be able to obtain a seeing-eye dog, and my husband gave me the okay to give a significant amount for us, to meet her need.  Talking with her, showing her that people saw her and cared about her well-being and future, explaining to my oldest son the importance of what we were doing for her, was a huge blessing to get to participate in.  It was an honor for us… and she’s now gone on to decide to give back in her own way.  She decided to start a ministry in our church for people like her, so that she can give out of what she’s been blessed with!!

Giving this past year also took the form of lending our time and emotions to visit families who have lost their police officers, and bring them Christmas cheer… for me, this is something I wanted to run away from, the pain of these wives, the pain of their young children.  As a police family, we live in a kind of constant denial of the reality of what could happen, visiting these families, seeing them in pain, bursts that blissful bubble of denial.  This is NOT something I was particularly excited about, but it was SO needed, and blessing them, loving on them, hugging them, in return, gave us a sober blessing of treasuring our life together, and not taking any day, any moment for granted.

Come Thanksgiving time, we were going to serve a meal to young women and girls who live in a safe house in our city.  Police regularly deal with sex abuse, and reaching out to these young girls and young women, from the standpoint of being a police wife, is showing them that we care about them from a humanity standpoint.  These are girls usually around teen age, who are usually pregnant or with small children, and many times this is from sex slavery or by their own fathers.  Many of them came from Latin American countries.  Their children also live there with them, and so our team of wives decided to target loving on them this year.  Because of the nature of their circumstances, this was something I was not going to bring our children to so that I could serve more easily… but my childcare ended up falling through, and we missed this opportunity to serve.  I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to reaching out to these girls and women and their children!  But God showed me another way to bless them, I put small boxes together with little gifts and trinkets inside to drop off for them for Christmas.  This was maybe even better for us, because my oldest son was actually able to participate in helping me pack the boxes and drop them off for the girls!

So overall, we did pretty good, but 2015 care opportunities seemed to just happen for us, it wasn’t something that I deliberately thought about much or planned and acted on.

For 2016, I want it to be a deliberate thing.  I want to see the lost, the broken in the way that I used to when we had so little.

 

So excited about the New Year and the blessings to come, may this inspire you to think about how YOU and your family can bless others with what God’s given you!

Cleaning with Little Ones Around the House

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As a mom of two, it doesn’t surprise me that I often hear moms complain that it’s too difficult to keep a house clean with young children… I understand 😀  especially when you have little ones who delight in pulling all their clothes out of the drawers and playing with the clean laundry!

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But I discovered a post by a Grandmother, author and blogger, Mrs. Sharon White, titled Cleaning House with Baby, and fell in love with the wonderful way she embraces keeping her home, even with little ones to entertain!  I thought you might be encouraged in hearing her words as much as I was!

From Sharon:

It is certainly a challenge to keep house, when there are babies and small children around. But these are the loveliest times of all for the homemaker.

Babies often look on curiously at all the work we do in the home.  They are shocked by the noise from the blender, the vacuum, and the washing machine. 

One day last week, I was making a cake.  I had baby in the carriage.  He watched as I brought down the large mixing bowl (to his level), and used my electric hand-mixer to stir the cake batter. He loved it!

I have put him in the walker while vacuuming the carpet.  It is easy to play fun games with baby, when one is cleaning.  He enjoys seeing all the action going on at Grandmother’s house.

We garden together, hang clothes on the line, wash dishes, sing hymns, sweep floors, and wash the high-chair tray!  Well, I do all those things while baby watches.  (Much like when I am helping Mister with his stuff, He does all the work, while I stand nearby.)  It’s really the being together that is wonderful.

Part of playing with babies and children most certainly happens while we are living our normal, daily life.  We just bring the children along in our activities, making our work and our days delightful.

Blessings
Mrs. White

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Since we want to have more children, it’d be nuts for me to wait until they’re older to figure out how to keep the house cleaned and organized… here are some ideas that help us in our household to enjoy cleaning, but also enjoy playing together:

  • Use their messes they make in their playtime as an opportunity to teach them the proper way to clean up.  If they get all the clothes out, help them learn that it’s nice to put them back in the drawers.
  • Help them to remember to put away toys they have gotten out that they are no longer playing with.
  • One of the best things I’ve learned to do, is to spend about 15-30 minutes every evening just tidying up the entire living room area and game room.  Our oldest boy joins in with me and takes this time before dinner to put back all his toys he’s gotten out.  It’s great to get to relax in a calm, quiet living room after I’ve tucked them both in bed, instead of having to run around putting his toys back myself, or tripping over action figures and blocks.
  • One of my favorite things to do, and something my husband teases me about, is that I love to put on music when I clean, especially with the boys doing their own thing.  Our oldest smiles and dances with me, the baby smiles at us in the most delighted way, and claps his baby hands.  Music is the great mood-changer, and if you don’t necessarily like cleaning and organizing, at least you can do it with a great song in the background!