Four Things to Stop Doing in 2017

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by Angela

It’s a New Year. A new calendar. And a place to reflect and evaluate and realign a few things. God has placed 4 things on my heart to start, stop and do differently. 

#1- STOP responding with “(fill in the blank- you name it) drives me crazy”.

It just keeps me stuck. It doesn’t solve anything. It often is a rant. I see a lot of people using it to describe their day, the weather, their job, their kids, you name it, you got it it. And instead I want to START to evaluate the bothersome situation for what it is. And if its out of my control, I am going to turn my focus to Jesus and be thankful. If I can change some things, then I am going to prayerfully move forward asking for a solution and the strength and wisdom to implement it.

#2- STOP feeling bad about a lot of little things.

Do you do this too? I tell my hubby I feel bad that he has to help with a computer/ phone/ (electronics in general) issue, again! Or I tell my kids I feel bad they have to do the dishes for me if I am running out the door somewhere. Or I feel bad if I don’t respond to a friends call or msg. I feel bad if I need help, or if I feel as if I am putting someone out. The list goes on. I found myself saying that regularly last year and I have been convicted that it is a bad habit. I am going to need help at times. I don’t have to be shameful about asking others and preface it with, “I feel bad”. If I need to say that I am sorry, than I will. If I need to give understanding to my choice than it will have depth and truth than quick words of, “I feel bad”. I want to START practicing having a humble heart and attitude.

#3- STOP feeling worried about being tired or too busy.

I wake up some days and my first thoughts are I am going to be tired (especially if I didn’t sleep all that well). And my next thoughts are I will never get all I need to do that day done and just be busy all day. And it is sometimes followed with the thought that I should have gotten up earlier (and my hubby and I are early risers) to ensure I get all those things done. That THOUGHT pattern is not helpful. I haven’t even been up for 5 minutes and I already have myself placed at dinner time in a matter of seconds. And as I reflect back, I notice that I am often not as tired as I think and get more done than I maybe anticipated.  So I am going to START by praying that Jesus will gently point to me when I jump on the Too Tired/Busy Bus. And then ask Him to purpose my day. To show me what He has for me. Who He has for me. And to entrust to Him to stretch my time in all that He has called me to do. It is my “nothing more or nothing less than what You have for me prayer”.

#4- STOP Super managing plans.

Planning is good. Preparation brings productivity and thought out mtgs, days, goals. Please don’t take away my to-do list app, or my Post- It Notes on my desk or my little pad of paper in my bathroom drawer when I do my best thinking while blow drying my hair 🙂 SUPER managing planning is different. It is in a league of its own and comes with worry, rehearsing and rehashing, sleepless nights and anxiety driven irritability. THIS has been a long term work of God in my heart. And in 2017 I want to START having my days reflect Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand. It is I, who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Do you see all those I’s in that sentence. THIS is a promise. Does my day-to-day activities reflect that the GOD of the universe is holding my hand like a dad’s big, strong hand holding the little hand of his daughter? I am starting off this year holding God’s hand tightly back.

What are some things you want to Start, Stop or Differently? We want to hear!

We wish you a DELIGHTFUL 2017 friends!!!

 

 

 

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December Traditions

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by Laura

My most vivid memories of growing up center around specific holidays. My parents took the time to create traditions for each celebration day.  Perhaps this is why so many couples argue when it comes to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they want it done THEIR way because those memories are what makes it feel special and that is what makes it Christmas!  

This is so true for me.  Christmas Eve means church and driving around looking at Christmas lights and sleeping in the living room with my sisters.  Christmas morning means waking up and getting every one in the living room before we opened up stockings.  There was bacon on Christmas morning and wrapping paper everywhere and apples and oranges in the stockings.  

Deviating from these things was difficult for me early on in our marriage because there was so much association with Laura’s Memories=Christmas. When you add my husband’s completely different memories and traditions into that and merge the two, it can be stressful to make the day feel special for both people.  

Very little Eric on Christmas Morning

We had to work really hard and talk almost ad nauseous about our expectations and what each person wanted to do from December 24 until the 25th was over.  I believe there will always be a little nostalgia and sadness that our new family together doesn’t do things exactly how I did as a child, but I love the new memories and traditions we create as husband and wife, and now our children will come to know our traditions as what makes Christmas special to them.  

Our advent wreath and devotional

In our family we begin Christmas preparations early by doing a devotional every day centered around the advent wreath.  After dinner we pull out the matches and we light the appropriate numbers of candles, turn off the lights, and read a special book in the glow of the flame.  We also started doing a children’s  Jesse Tree  devotional three years ago which follows the story of how Jesus is woven into the entire Bible from beginning to birth.  Each day we have a Jesse Tree reading and put the complimentary ornament on the tree.  This year I made 25 felt ornaments for our Jesse Tree!

There are many ways to uphold your own traditions, begin your own, and create special memories with your children and I encourage you to do so!  The more traditions you have in your family the stronger their association to your family will be.  

We were just reading in a book recently that kids whose families have nightly or weekly traditions are more likely to stay at home or want to be at home so they don’t miss out.  This makes us all the more motivated to want to make our family feel fun and alive for our kids.  

New Years Eve is approaching!  What traditions do you remember from your own child hood and what do you do now as a family?   

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What I Learned Over my Month on Sabbatical

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by Angela

As we approach the end of July- our sabbatical month of June is becoming more and more of a distant memory. In some ways as we returned our feet hit the ground running and we have just briefly come up for air. My to do list of catch up was growing. Yet on the other side of the coin, I came home feeling sooo refreshed. The time-away was long enough we were really able to relax, rejuvenate and grow.  I am a list maker, so I of course, started making a list at the end of our time away of the lessons, the things God showed me both big and small. We listed the highlights and the things we were thankful for. There were too many to list really. But we tried anyway. I narrowed a few down, the highlights of the highlights. (In no particular order or importance)Family Sabbatical

Biographies:

I have always been a reader but have a renewed goal to have regular books lined up in my Kindle. The categories of books I like. Biographies, Character Building, Business Related. I know there are weeks and seasons when reading doesn’t happen very often, but it’s not a race to finish a book, so its ok to be a slow reader. My favorite book I read was the biography “Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and Overcoming Love” by Kathrine and Jay Wolf.  The Wolf’s story is incredible. Here is a quote from the end that sums it up well. “I have learned to do many things well–to wait well, suffer well, cope well, persevere well, and even to lose well. Our culture tells us to succeed, be beautiful, avoid pain, and be happy. What if everything important in our lives is actually the opposite?” I filled up several pages of notes in my journal while I read. Biographies are an inspiring testimony to God’s work in others lives and story.Sabbatical Reading In biographies, my story doesn’t have to be the same as their story. But I am inspired that God will do the same work in my life and story as I trust in Him. I highly recommend reading Hope Heals!

Dutch Bros. Coffee:

We like coffee (and Dutch Bros. smoothies) and we enjoyed being close to a Dutch Bros Coffee while on sabbatical. I am thinking it might be a good thing that there is NOT a Dutch Bros Coffee too close to my home here, as it will help with my budget, caffeine in take and sugar and calories consumed.  🙂 If you are not familiar with Dutch Bros., they are a growing coffee place that is known for their friendly service and fun atmosphere. I decided that I really liked visiting Dutch Bros. because I liked their friendly greeting/service. Their creative lids (they always have sayings on them). Their color straws. (I like drinking my coffee both hot and cold with a straw).  I liked taking selfies with our Dutch Bros. as it was soo great to go with my family, parents, friends.  I realized that I am easily amused. It’s sometimes the little treats that are nicest.Dutch Bros Cup

 

Psalm/Proverb Study:

I am in Bible Study Fellowship from September through May I have a study that comes with a daily study schedule. I really enjoy that. I like routine. I like daily. In the summertime, I enjoy choosing a study that might move at a slower pace if need be. That has been my Psalm Study that I began on sabbatical. I have been reading through the Psalm with a commentary book called Psalms by the Day. The books breaks down the Psalms, but what I have enjoyed is reading the Psalms over two or may days if I want. Or taking some days to list out God’s attributes that are listed in the Psalm I studied and read through the day before- and even flipping to a Psalm out of order. (What?? I know!!) Psalm 4 has been my favorite so far. Verse 3 in particular, to grasp that the Lord looks after His own. I have seen this theme over and over in many of the Psalms and it has brought encouragement and security. I have also read through Proverbs, I am currently on my second read through. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so you can read a chapter a day.

Lighthouses:

The Oregon coast has several old lighthouses. We could see one from our little house we rented. I enjoyed checking each night once it got dark to see if the clouds were clear enough to see the light beaming through. I did some reflecting on how those lighthouse and light would of been a help to the sailors on those ships in the dark of night. As it would shine in the darkness and give a glimpse and outline of the rocks in the shallow water.Lighthouse Tour Selfie resize We took a tour of the lighthouse and learned about the history of how the Lighthouse Keeper and his family took special care to make sure the light never went out. It struck me, that as a Pastor’s family, we too are like the Lighthouse Keepers family. We help to keep a spiritual light lit in our church, in the surrounding neighborhood and even into world. We were even doing a little bit of that “light keeping” as we were away that month to spend some extra time seeking the Lord through His Word and prayer. Not just pastors but all believers are called to be a light, Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good words and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.

A few other findings to close. I found the Oregon Coast a bit chilly. It was very green. Enjoyed the various colors of hydrangea flowers. Really liked falling asleep and waking up listening to the waves of the ocean and I could watch Sea Lions for hours.

 

 

 

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the Home School option

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by Angela

I have soo enjoyed following along with Laura and her family as they have started out their homeschooling journey. The colorful school room, centers, calendar time. I would like to go be a student for the day. As I was reading Laura’s post- I knew it was time to share our families home school journey.

Laura wasn’t sure she wanted to home school. I on the other hand always thought that I would, but then when the time came for Rachel to register for Kindergarten God led our family a different direction.  One Sunday after service we were chatting with a pastor friend at our church. He had some wise thoughts on the schooling dilemma every parent faces. He said, “Some parents love their kids SO much, they send them to public school. Other parents love their kids SO much and send their kids to private school. Some parents love their kids SO much they home school their kids”. It was wonderful insight that their are many schooling options. I had seen many parents/ families compare their choice, but it caused a lot of division and hurt feelings on all sides. Each family needs to come to a conclusion for their school options in how God is leading and moving them. John and I continued to pray and decided to send Rachel to public school. In AZ, where we lived at the time, the school we were zoned for was one of the oldest in the district. The teachers had been their for years and they were dedicated to their students. John and I knew God had directed us in the right decision immediately as we meet many new neighbor families and  got to know several families better that we went to church with too whose kids went to the same school. I quickly got involved in a Moms In Prayer Group (Formally called Moms In Touch). (Moms in Prayer International is a ministry where Mom’s of students of all ages get together once a week to pray for their children, teachers and school! What a special group of Moms I had the opportunity to pray with. I still keep in touch with a few of them today.)

Rachel Sr and Kindergarten

One of Rachel’s Senior Pics holding her Kindergarten School Picture!

Looking back I see God’s hand in directing us into public school not only was it a good school option for Rachel and our family but would be a huge support in the speech help that Josiah needed! (Read about Josiah’s Speech Story here)

FIrst day of School pic In LV 2

Every teenage sister loves first day of school hugs!

We moved out of state when Rachel was in 6th Grade and Josiah was in 2nd. Once again we were in a place where we needed to consider our school options. We decided to continue to stay in public school. We learned that not two schools are exactly alike. There were some things we liked and some things we didn’t like. 

Two years later, God was stirring us into a new direction. The influence of the other students was taking a toll on Rachel and Josiah. And Josiah was struggling with some of the academics in the classroom setting, yet excelling with a friend who was tutoring him one-on-one in a speed that Josiah could dictate. God was beginning to reveal it was time for us to try something new. So on a Monday in March of 2010, John and I went and un-enrolled our kids from public school and began to home school. We were eager to get started, yet overwhelmed with the choice of home school curriculum out there. Since we had just a few more weeks of school left at this point and a family trip to Washington DC  at the beginning of summer, we jumped into learning all about the things we would see and do there and the history behind them. We also had several home school families share some curriculum books, worksheets and such and we finished out the year. John works from home and being a natural teacher took a huge role and lead in what the kids were learning/doing.

Famliy Pic at White House 2

Field Trips take on a whole new meaning!

During our time in the Washington DC area we spent some time with my cousin and their family who had been on the home school adventure for several years with kids similar ages to ours. I said to my cousin Caroline, “There is way too much curriculum options to even know where to begin, what are you doing and how do I get some?” She was using Sonlight. We got that and it has been a good fit for our family. We also got Josiah started in Singapore Math, as I had heard if kids were struggling with Math, to try it. So we did and it was a joy to watch him grasp and understand the concepts!!

Rachel Grad

It’s a happy celebration to graduate.

Rachel continued homeschooling completing her Junior year of high school. She finished her Senior year at a charter school where her last high school credits were taken in college classes. Rachel was ready for the college level and this was a great option for her. She is now about to start her last year of college. Josiah is about to start his Senior year of high school as a home schooler. We have been very happy at our choice to home school. Because we never knew any different, we just jumped in with where are kids were at. My kids could read, and write and spell and do many of those fundamental things on their own. I don’t even know what it is like to teach littles how to read. I know in some ways we have a different home school story. We have learned so many things. Too many to share. But I am going to attempt to narrow them down to the most hopeful for you.

 

Thoughts/ Things that Surprised Us about Home Schooling

  • We were surprised at how much we liked organizing our school day schedule. We really liked not having to be involved in the daily school and drop off and pick up activities. We liked not having the rush of getting out the door each morning. It worked best for our family to use a Monday- Thursday School week schedule. It meant the kids days were a bit longer, but we liked having Fridays off.  We liked to decide when to start school for the year, take what weeks off and end at what time. We found it best to work ahead in our schedule when we needed to take a day or week off.  We liked taking our summers off. But we worked through some of the national holidays that the school district takes off. And sick days didn’t always mean you had to miss out on reading or working on some math.
  • The home school option does allow you to help your child learn best according to their personality. It’s harder in a classroom setting with one teacher and 20 students.  Rachel and Josiah learn differently. We adjusted to ways they learned best. Rachel worked better with a more flexible schedule. Josiah needed more structure and regular daily routine. Both Rachel and Josiah added in jobs to their day and we liked how home schooling gave them more flexible time schedules than just after school.
  • We used tutors! We have always had a math tutor. Especially for high school math. And we have used them some in science. Don’t be afraid to get help from others and be creative to how it can work with your child and tutor.
Homeschool Space

Josiah’s home schooling space. My kids often used their desks, beds and floors in their room too. So this central place in the landing in our upstairs area works well.

  • In our school district home schoolers are allowed to join in the extra curricular activities offered at the high school we are zoned for. Rachel was in the marching and concert band and Josiah has been in Cross Country and Track. It has been great for us. Some schools allow home schoolers to join in on certain classes too. I would consider it for a foreign language or upper level math or science. 
  • We had to add a line into our budget for home schooling. It had costs that we had to figure out. From curriculum mainly. To help with our initial costs, we got the bare bones of our curriculum and then checked out books from the library. Ordered used books on Amazon. Borrowed books from other families who had them. It helped a lot. But did take some extra finagling.
  • When we started home schooling, we were surprised at how many current home school families responded like we finally saw the light. We didn’t see home schooling like that. We were not in the wrong during our kids years in public school. Over the years our kids had many good teachers, friends, and experiences. We are thankful for those. Even the harder things taught them to persevere, make good choices and learn to get along with all sorts of personalities.  We know many wonderful teachers who teach in a public school and families whose kids go to public, charter or private school. Just like our pastor friend said years ago, I know many parents who love their kids so much they choose their schooling options.
  • I have also had several people ask me, “If I am a better Mom, since I home school?”. Oh, if it was only that easy! Every Mom would run to sign up to home school. I am the best Mom when I am in prayer for myself and my kids. When I am humbly learning the things God has to personally show me daily in His Word. And when I am overflowing with His grace so that it sloshes over to my kids. Those things are the same no matter what ages, stages, and schooling my kids have been in.

I hope our story will help some families who might be considering making a change in their school option. Either in home schooling if that is how God is leading you. Or in what is best for your child/children or family. Don’t be afraid to follow how God is leading. Give it a try. You won’t ruin your kids if you make a change and don’t like it. I know God will guide you in just where He is leading. You might be surprised and you will be blessed for being obedient.

 

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The Homeschooling 180

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by Laura

A few years ago Eric approached me with a question.  He said, “What would you think about homeschooling?”  Eva was a few years old, and I wondered what made him think of that subject. He told me that he had been reading some books in which the consensus was that parents have the most influence on their children up until age 8-9, so he was hopeful that we might have the maximum influence on Eva and wondered if I would consider homeschooling until 2nd grade.  

My throat lumped up, and I managed to say, “we can talk about that”, knowing full well that in my heart and mind I was pretty dead set against it.  

Homeschooling seemed daunting even though we had done some toddler school at home.

Homeschooling seemed daunting even though we had done some toddler school at home.

There were SO many reservations swirling around.  

  • How would I ever be self-disciplined enough to manage her schooling? I fight daily against lazy tendencies to be a good time manager, so that seemed like an extra war to fight each day. 
  • I wasn’t qualified to teach!  I haven’t spent years learning and practicing teaching styles and compiling resources.  
  • Would my relationship with Eva suffer?  Up to this point our similar personalities often sent both of us into extreme bad moods, and I worried that I would exasperate her so that she wouldn’t respect me.  
  • I wanted her to experience the JOY I had in the public school system.  I loved school dearly and remember vividly my early elementary years.  
  • Would her introverted-ness and anti-social tendencies only increase by staying at home?  I did not want an awkward child who couldn’t relate or interact with her peers.  
  • Selfishly too, I thought, “I’ve poured these years into her life, maybe when she goes to school I can work part time or pursue an advanced degree.”

So, those few years ago I brought these concerns to Eric, and we came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t home school!  Whew! Our decision had a great reason behind it. We gave Eva the name “Evangeline” because we wanted her to be a light in this world, and if we kept that light at home, not interacting with the world around her she might not ever feel comfortable talking to people who are different than her.  She might prefer to remain in the safety or her home/homeschool/Christian bubble.  Done and done. So, onward we went, had Malachi, and moved to the Midwest. 

Eva setting up her play dough balls for her letter of the day work.

Eva setting up her play dough balls for her letter of the day work.

Then we got the Kindergarten Registration packet in the mail.

I thought our Homeschooling conversation was done, and that we had come to a great conclusion about sending her to public school.  Eric was still wrestling though.  

So again, he asked me what I thought about it.  I came back with the same reasons, perhaps more emphatically because now it would be real, not just “what if.”  I spoke to my close friends and told them I couldn’t imagine homeschooling and really did not want to at all.  

I knew Eric and I were divided on this and I knew there were a few potential outcomes.  1.  One of us would do what they didn’t want.  2.  One of us would agree with the other. or 3. We would come to a compromise.  I was definitely holding out for Eric agreeing with me or some sort of compromise.  And to be honest, I was worried–worried that if this was what Eric really wanted, and I agreed to it, I would be bitter about homeschooling. I didn’t WANT to feel that way.

The first time Eva wrote an E to try to write her name. She was 2.

The first time Eva wrote an E to try to write her name. She was 2.

So I devised this plan.  I would get all the Kindergarten materials and homeschool Eva through the summer so that Eric could see that I was horrible at it, that it hurt our Mother-Daughter relationship, and that it wasn’t good for her.  Then, at the end of the summer, I would know what it was really like, Eric would see it, and then we could just keep going with her public Kindergarten plan without any loss.  I felt relieved that I would have given it a shot, and that Eric would see what a silly idea it was.  

It was time to go to Kindergarten Round-Up.  

I read the giant packet that said Eva would begin school at 8:30 and be done at 3:30.  7 hours.  She would be gone for 7 hours, not just one day a week, but every single day.  My heart started to sink thinking of being away from her for that long.  Even though we irritate each other, and stomp, I still couldn’t imagine missing 35 hours of her life every week.  

Now, this is me.  Not your story.  I feel this way. You don’t have to feel like a bad parent if you don’t feel this way, or disagree, or are counting down the days or years until your kids go to school.  My story, my family.  

Back to it.  So, to decrease her time away, we looked into half-day kindergarten.  Not really optional.  

I went to Kindergarten Round-Up and you guys, I walked out of that building knowing that I was going to Homeschool, at least for Kindergarten.  I felt physically sick during the entire Round-Up counting up the hours away from her, and then I remembered I could keep her, and I felt absolute peace about it.  That long list of reservations was not gone, and even our great reason for putting her in public school was not lost, but I was ready to change those from excuses and desires, to concerns and goals to legitimately face.  

You're a keeper Eva.

You’re a keeper Eva.

I can’t even believe the path that my mind and heart have taken this year with Homeschooling.  From being so callous about it, to now being excited.  So, remember when I laid out the options of ways Eric and I would move forward?  Well, I CHANGED!  

Our Homeschool room is almost ready, our curriculum is picked, I’ve interviewed some wonderful parents, and I can’t wait to show it to you. If you are curious, if you are intrigued, or if you might take the Homeschool journey, stop back and see what we’re doing at our home.  These are new faith steps for me, for her, for us.  

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