Saturday, July 23, 2011

We interrupt this program...

Or maybe it is more like we interrupt your plans and your life...I missed the post for School Fun Friday and probably will miss the next two Fridays of posting about organization. I have put my organization project on hold for now due to several sets of circumstances and changes in the life of our family as well as some happenings in our community. Life happens, and some things are way more important than blogging. My prayer with every blog I write is to bring glory to God and to encourage others by being real about my life and our family's journey to follow hard after Jesus, wherever He leads. So, when my life takes a turn, so does the frequency and content of my posting.

We have several praise updates and prayer requests for our family, so I am just going to put them out there and ask you to pray.

Urgent Prayer for Healing and Recovery
If you are a reader who is new or not a part of our community in small town, Alabama, I ask first that you pray for a young man named Austin Childress, his wife, Camille, and their entire extended family. Austin was in a motorcycle accident in Nashville, TN last Sunday, and had life-threatening injuries. He has made some major progress, and his family is praising God for each small step of the journey to recovery.  Please pray often and fervently for Austin's complete recovery and for this precious family. They have been a light for the Lord and a blessing to so many in our community, including our family. We attended church with them several years ago, and are so thankful for their love and support of our adoption of Anderson. We are praying like crazy! God is already being glorified in and through this circumstance as Austin makes progress and his family faces this road with grace and love, praising God through it all.

Praising God for Vacation Bible School
In our faith family this past week, we were so blessed for our big kids to attend VBS. And for the first time, I actually got to hang out and even help a little during the week! We truly love our faith family and I am so grateful for our friends and teachers this week who led the kids and loved on them and taught them so much about God's love and His word. Thanks to some great photographers, there are tons of pictures of kids and happenings at VBS. Anderson got to play with his friends, too, and he had a wonderful time. Please pray for the many children who attended who do not have a church home and whose families we hope to reach out to as a result of this past week.

God is growing our family again
Jeff and I have begun attending a weekly class to prepare our family to adopt again, this time through the foster care system. We know that many people will not understand our decision to adopt again so soon, but we also know that this absolutely something that God has led our family to do. To steal the wisdom of a friend from church, when God calls you to something you have two choices--obey or choose disobedience--and we know that disobedience is never a good option. So, no matter how crazy we look to the world, we are grateful and excited about the journey to grow our family again, and we ask for your prayers for God's provision and wisdom. There are many details that I cannot share about this new journey, but I can absolutely tell you that we feel God's presence in every detail so far.

God's Presence Through It All
If I continued sharing with you the sorrows and joys of this past week, my post would be so long that you might just fall asleep reading it. Not just our family and local community, but so many people we know and friends of friends who are facing major life-changing decisions, dealing with pain and sickness, grieving a tragic loss, and suffering through the evil of this world. At the same time, many we know who are celebrating new beginnings and milestones worthy of great thanksgiving and praise.

Throughout this week of praying for those who are walking through valleys, praying for those living in the midst of grief and sorrow, rejoicing as I see my children learning to love and serve God more every day, and walking a path of complete faith and trust in God with no answers, I have cried, laughed, and prayed so much. And God has been speaking to me so clearly that HE is here. No answers, no understanding of the suffering I see around me, no explanation. And that is okay. Because He is HERE and He is the I AM and we can rest in HIM when all around us is crumbling and when all around us is blooming. And HE is much better than answers or understanding--His presence alone is the air of grace and peace and hope to our souls suffocated by the darkness and sin of this life. He is making everything new for His glory.

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” Psalm 91:1-2

Because of Jesus Christ alone, I can still dream and believe. He is my refuge and my fortress. May you rest in HIM as you believe in His sovereign and unfailing grace for each moment of each day. Thank you for your prayers for these dear ones and for our family.

Loving, Learning, and Believing,

Friday, July 15, 2011

School Fun Friday - Organization

Our home keeping system and my home organization skills are definitely works in progress, so I have been reading any and every blog I can find  I have time to read about planning, organization, household binders, family calendars, and making lists work.  I am going to attempt to put some systems into place that will give me practical help at keeping our lives and home in some semblance of order without being over the top (ahem, stressing myself out). If you are looking for methods of color coding your pantry and keeping an inventory of your spices, you are far ahead of me in this process!

I had planned for this post to contain the entire list of the methods and systems I am going to use this year, but the laundry and mopping and dishes had to be done today, so I didn't finish it! Since this is School Fun Friday, and in my time zone I am 44 minutes away from Saturday, I decided to wait until next Friday to include the list. By then I should have some wisdom to share, along with links to some great forms and sites with organization tips and printables. Until then, I would love to hear from any of you who may have ideas, tricks or or any tried and tested methods in the area of keeping home while doing school at home. Please share your wisdom by emailing me at or by leaving a comment!

Really, your ideas are greatly appreciated. If we (I) don't get a handle on doing school and housekeeping well together, in the first month of school we might lose a child under piles of clean laundry that desperately needs to be folded and put away (most likely unmatched socks--I despise sock matching), or find that we have managed to use every clean cup in the house in the span of 3 hours and have to drink from bowls!

Remembering, that even though keeping a clean house and being organized are only small parts of my ministry at home, it is important that I don't neglect them. God is honored in excellence.

"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."          Proverbs 31:27 

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."                             1 Corinthians 10:31

Loving and Learning,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Today's gifts

Today marks some milestones and brings a great deal of uncertainty. Today is not perfect, but I opened my eyes this morning and my Father reminded me that in all of it's imperfection it is a gift. Today, I have already heard God whisper to my heart through the words of a sweet sister. Here are the gifts for which I am so grateful from today and many other recent days.

21. Singing The Arms That Hold the Universe with my little one. (I must video his sweet voice and face singing this song and share it with you all some time. It will bring you to tears.)

22. Dirty footprints on floors from big kiddos who have been picking vegetables in the garden

23. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (our newest memory verse)

24. Saturday night grilled hamburgers with my Daddy and sister

25. Sunday worship with our church family

26. Sunday birthday celebration with Jeff's family--75 years of life for Jeff's Dad. Happy Birthday, Granddaddy!
Jeff's Mom and Dad

27. First fireworks, Chicago dogs, and the men and women of our nation's military, past and present

28. Taking the first step of the journey to grow our family again

29. Good results from surgery for a precious boy brought home by his forever family in May

30. God's faithful provision in times of uncertainty

Loving and Learning,

Linking up today (along with many other seekers) to the author who inspires so many of us to share our gifts and see His beauty everywhere.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In The Valley

Good words from the book The Valley of Vision  put to beautiful music. He is so gracious. May you find His grace and glory wherever you are today.

Loving and Learning,

Friday, July 8, 2011

Homeschool planning, curriculum, and helpful links

For the next few weeks leading up to the start of the 2012-2013 school year, I will be doing a series of homeschool posts on Fridays. In each one I will share my own experiences and any helpful information or links I have found while planning for the school year. Please join me for School Fun Fridays and leave in the comments any helpful information you would like to share!

Being a 2nd year homeschooling family, we (I) still have so much to learn about planning and organization as the new school year approaches. I was a classroom teacher for a few years, and have taught 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th graders, but it did not prepare me for school at home. I had no clue (until last year)  the home organizing, meal planning, schedule-juggling, pre-schooling, all-subject teaching, service project incorporating, habit building, life-skill modeling, scripture memorizing, Bible studying, nature walking, music playing, story-reading, extra-curricular participating, and just plain fun-having that need to be a part of our learning at home. Whew! It makes me tired when I read that list. But I also had no idea how amazing it would be to spend the days with my children, watching them learn a new concept, seeing their enthusiasm for a particular story, sharing their laughter over a funny character or strange fact from history, watching them bond together as a sibling unit (since bringing Anderson home), and just spending more time getting to know them.  It is not all sunshine and lollipops, and some days are difficult. But I truly love teaching my children. And the confidence I have in this endeavour is not confidence in my own abilities or knowledge--it is confidence that God is faithful to provide what we need when He guides us to a new endeavour.  I know that when I have asked God to give us wisdom to teach our children and to guide our choices for everything we learn and do, He has been faithful this far and He continues to give grace for each moment of each day.

As we approach the new school year, I am trying to be more diligent about planning and scheduling so that we can develop consistency and routine. My focus has been to put together a general planning grid for the year. From that, I will do my weekly plans based on the books, workbooks, etc., that we are using. Right now, we are doing some reading and math assessments to determine what levels to begin the year for my 2nd and 4th graders, we are finalizing curriculum choices for both of them, and I am putting together preschool activities and hands-on learning experiences for my youngest. So, I wanted share some of the scheduling tools, printables, information, and "just for fun" things I have found during this time of planning.

1. Lapbooks - I plan to use lapbooks as supplemental activities for our main curriculum rather than as the core for our school work. Because I am not super creative, I love the premade kits you can purchase and instantly download. I found some of my favorites here. If you are asking (like a was just a couple of months ago), "what in the world is a lapbook?", you can your answers and much more here. I even found a free Lego study lapbook unit for my oldest son. If you have a lego-crazy child, I highly recommend it.

2. Preschool activities - I love all of these printables and am going to use several of the alphabet printables to teach my preschooler his letters this year. I also like these ideas for letter of the week crafts. The preschool crafts listed on the same site look really fun for anyone with preschoolers, not just for homeschooling families. I have also found more awesome ideas for more toddler activity bags, (a few of which we did for Anderson with his OT last year) and for preschool activity bags, both of which are portable and super fun!

3. File Folder Games - Because we live in a small home, I like any game that can be "filed away" and take up minimal space. So, I have enjoyed seeing so many creative ideas for games created from simple file folders like the one you see here and one I plan to recreate here. There are tons of samples, freebies, and even packs you can purchase to make the games, but I am still trying to use the examples I have found to put together my own games based on the subjects we will be covering. I hope to have some pictures to post soon, once I have a couple of them made.

4. Scripture Memory  - I found this system at Simply Charlotte Mason and am so excited about using it! There are free tab printables at the bottom of the page to get you started!

5. Curriculum - I am still finalizing my curriculum choices but here are links to what we are using for most of our "core" subjects.  1)Sonlight for History, Literature/Read Alouds, and "little girl's" reading. 2)Singapore Math for both big kids . 3)R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth & Space for both big kids.  I am still undecided but leaning toward All About Spelling for my 2nd grader. My 4th grader is an advanced reader, so I am also still working to put together a reading list that will challenge him and be manageable at the same time. 4. I will also use "Drops In the Bucket: Reading Level A" workbook for my daughter, who loved the exercises and learned so much from this great tool.

Any of you who have sage advice, tips, links to great (and even better, free) curriculum or supplemental materials, please feel free to share. Hope you find some helpful tools, ideas, and information from this post.

Here are some of the verses that I pray will guide me as I prepare for school this year and as we learn together each day--because life and learning are all wrapped up together, and we are wrapped in the amazing grace of the God who created us to live, love, and learn.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14

Loving and Learning,

Friday, July 1, 2011


...Alex and Jeff left this morning for their first father-son camping trip. I love watching the two of them together. Jeff is a man of few words, but his actions speak volumes to our son.

...I looked at my "little girl" getting ready to go out for our "ladies' lunch", and realized that she is growing more than just in height. She is becoming more responsible and caring, and I see her servant's heart in the way she helps all of us.

...Anderson is laughing and asking to go eat "Mesikin" (Mexican) food.

...I thank God for love. I thank Him for my family. I thank Him for my friends. I thank Him that I get to walk through this life learning from Him what it means to love well, even though that is something I am still learning. Because honestly, when you open your heart to love, you make yourself vulnerable to hurt and pain and loss. But it is worth it. Really living means loving, even if it means hurting. Because protecting ourselves from pain means putting up walls that keep out love, too. And that leads us to be prisoners of our own sin, our own selves, our own preservation. Our Creator loves, and He made us to love.

"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one,not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God’s will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness…We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it. What I know about love and believe about love and giving ones heart began in this." C.S. Lewis from The Four Loves

 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:7-12
Loving and Learning,

About Me

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I love Jesus Christ, am a seeker of beauty, and am a grateful child of God who would be lost and hopeless were it not for His grace. I am learning to walk in love, see interruptions as divine appointments, and value people and relationships above agendas and results. I pray my life is grace-filled, and brings joy and encouragement to everyone I know and meet. We are a family of 6, built by God through love, birth, and adoption, living in the beauty and the struggle that accompanies parenting kids from hard places. Got questions? Email me at

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