Saturday, April 30, 2011

Selling Through Currclick

A few days ago, I announced that my first ever unit study offering, Ecuador, was ready to be sold to YOU! I am so excited, because today, I set up my account through Currclick to sell my new Ecuador unit! Through Currclick, I will be able to offer my unit study, as well as any future studies I write, to a much bigger audience than through my blog alone.

So from this point out, any future unit studies that I write will be announced here on my blog, and I will provide the link to the Currclick page where you can download the unit immediately after paying.

I have always loved buying through Currclick, because they have such a wide variety of products to choose from, and you can quickly and easily download your material. There is no waiting on the mailman to bring a book to your house, and there is no need to find a place to store said book once you are finished. You just download your material to your computer and print off what you will need to work with your kids. And besides just stuff for your homeschool, they also offer great e-books for mom to give help and encouragement in the areas of teaching your kids and staying sane while doing it! You can also sign up for lots of LIVE classes that they offer. My kids have taken several LIVE classes, and they have loved them. Britches' first live class was based on the American Girl book, Happy Birthday Felicity. She had printouts that I stuck in a folder for her to do, she read the chapters in the book, there were crafts she put together herself, and there was even an online chat community that she took part in. It was GREAT! And when you go to the Currclick site, you can find a page full of FREE products to download, as well as a free product each week. Click on my link to the right to see everything they offer.

And if you'd like to go see MY listing for my Ecuador unit, check it out here! 

Hopefully, I will have some time soon to start writing more units. If you have a unit that you would like to see offered, leave me a comment telling me what you have in mind. I would LOVE to hear your suggestions!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Schoolhouse Expo

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting in on the Schoolhouse Expo pre-show! I was FANTASTIC! I was particularly excited about the pre-show, because Tricia Goyer was up first and was planning to talk about how to improve your writing skills and earn money from home with your writing. Well, that was right up my alley! And it was SO worth listening to!

The other speaker I particularly enjoyed was Dianne Craft. I had never heard her speak, so I didn't know what to expect. But soon after she began, I could tell I was really going to enjoy listening to her. For starters, she was HILARIOUS! But the more I listened, the more I realized that this was actually something I needed to hear. She was speaking about teaching the right brained child. Well, I had never really thought about my kids as being left brained or right brained. Didn't really know what that meant. But the more she talked, the more I realized that my son is a right brained kid, and that is why I sometimes have difficulty teaching him certain things. He needs to visualize things, instead of just being told something. Truth be told, I am COMPLETELY a right brained person, so you would think I should click perfectly with my son. But there are times that, even though I know I don't learn best by looking at a white page, I just don't know any other way to communicate a concept to him than the way I was taught. (I fully believe that most public school teachers are teaching to left brain kids!)

Dianne spent nearly an hour talking about ways to help a right brained child understand and retain information you present to them by making things more visual. You can check out her web site to get more information and to see her book, Teaching the Right Brained Child. By the time she was finished with her hour of talk, I was armed with all sorts of great ideas to help teach my son in a better way that he could understand. I am especially excited about her suggestions for learning vocabulary words!

The Schoolhouse Expo is coming up in just a few weeks, and I am THRILLED that Dianne Craft will be speaking again! There are several speakers I look forward to hearing, but I am especially looking forward to hearing her! And she announced during the pre-show that she will be speaking at the Expo about teaching MATH to the right brained child! YAY HOORAY! Math is a KILLER for me to teach Little Man, and it's equally hard for him to grasp. So I just cannot wait to hear her suggestions that I am sure will help us enjoy learning that subject a little more.

The other topics I am so excited to hear are the ones regarding working from home. I am always looking for some good, legitimate advice on making money from home. And I don't mean by selling something or making phone calls. But there are several speakers who will be talking about home-based entrepreneurship, using social media to grow your home business, and micro-businesses for teens. I can't wait to hear what these speakers have to share!

If you haven't gotten your ticket to the Schoolhouse Expo yet, well, you're too late!! All the tickets for the live conference have been sold. But worry not! You still have a chance to hear Dianne, along with many, MANY other amazing speakers and amazing topics. You can still purchase the Expo to Go, and it is only $19.95!! You get all of the conference in an MP3 format, and with that, you can listen to it at your convenience and even go back and listen again if you like!! Be sure to look in the Vendor Hall, too, when you go to purchase your Expo to Go. You will find some amazing resources that you may be interested in for your homeschool. And if you purchase from any of the vendors, please be sure to tell them "Thanks" for sponsoring the Schoolhouse Expo!

The Schoolhouse Expo is only a few weeks away, and I can hardly wait! Will I see you there??

Ecuador Unit Study On Sale Now!!

When my oldest two children were 3 and 4, we did our first unit study. For about a month, we followed a missionary, Ms. Karen, as she traveled to China. The kids and I prayed for Ms. Karen, marked on a map all the places she traveled while she was there, cooked Chinese meals, learned all about pandas, made colored rice art - there was so much that we did, I can't even tell you all of it! My son prayed for Ms. Karen for YEARS after that experience. I have never forgotten what an impact that study had on my children. And ever since that time, I have hoped that God would bring another missionary along that we may follow again.

There are some missionaries that attend the church we now go to. They are Mr. Karvin and Ms. Sandy Adams. When I read in our bulletin a few months ago that they would be traveling to Ecuador this summer on a mission trip, I was very excited! I asked the kids if they would like to adopt the Adams' as "our missionaries", and pray for them while they are on their trip and follow their journey. The kids were just as excited as I was.

The plan is that, while we are praying for them and following their journey on a map, we will also learn everything we can about the country of Ecuador. So I began pulling all my information together so I would be ready to teach my kids. As I was gathering all my information, I had a thought. There are several people who have told me they would love to just be able to teach their kids the way I do. (Truthfully, I think that's kind of funny!) So I decided that, while I was putting everything together for my kids, I would write down everything, so I could offer OUR unit study to YOU!

If you would be interested in learning about the AMAZING country of Ecuador, think about going there with us - through some great books and other resources, of course! Follow along with our missionaries when they head to Ecuador later this summer.

The price for this unit study is $9.95. After I receive your payment, I will send you instructions on how to download the unit. Through this study, you will learn, with your children, about the rich culture of Ecuador, along with lessons about the food, customs, government, and people of the country. Also, your children will learn about the Adams', their work in Ecuador, the churches they have helped to build, and past mission work in this country. Your children will learn what it means to be a missionary and the importance of mission work. This unit study can be used for multiple age levels, and you will find craft options for younger children, research options for older children, and much, much more! This unit study is meant to cover approximately two weeks worth of learning, but it could be easily cut down to one week for your younger children, or extended beyond two weeks for your older children.

Payment Options: I can accept payment through Paypal. My Paypal email is Simply send your payment with a note saying you are purchasing the Ecuador unit study. Shoot me an e-mail to receive your download information upon sending your payment. Paypal does, however, charge a fee for all transactions made. So, if you would prefer to pay with a personal check, e-mail me and I will send you my physical address. After I receive your check, I will send you the download information.

So for all of you who think you would like to homeschool your children like I do, here is your chance. My children and I will be studying through this same unit study as we follow our missionaries' journey to reach the people of Ecuador for Christ. We would love to have you travel with us!

Check out what some other homeschool moms had to say about "Ecuador":

"I was in desperate need of something to excite my 13 year old son about school again, so when asked to review this unit study, I couldn't have been more excited.  It was so easy, because all of the resources are listed for you. We enjoyed watching the video links and trying some of the Ecuadorian recipes.  This unit study has plenty of activities no matter your child's age, and it was also a great jumping off place for us to go deeper into the culture and history of this wonderful place. Thanks so much, Nicole, for letting us try it. In Matthew's words, it was way more interesting than he thought it would be." ~Terri L.

"My thoughts on the Ecuador unit are that it is fantastic! Michael is doing 6th grade work, and Annalee is doing 4th grade work, and they both really enjoyed learning about Ecuador. They both loved the videos. Bella (3) even loved the videos. We thought they were appropriate and entertaining. All of the links and videos worked great. It was challenging to both of the kids. It kept both of their attention. 

My overall opinion is that the unit study was great. We would purchase this unit study and more. Annalee stated that it was much more fun than using her workbooks! She said she would love to visit Ecuador after watching the videos. I learned a lot going through the unit study with them. I had no idea children in Ecuador usually only went to school for 9 years. We really enjoyed it! I cannot think of anything that should be added or taken away. We really enjoyed everything about the unit." ~Jessie T.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Egg Dying - The Old Fashioned Way

So, is there anyone else out there, besides me, who still likes to boil eggs to dye at Easter? I know that, if you go to an Easter egg hunt, it really isn't practical to boil several hundred eggs to go hide in the grass. Besides the fact that kids don't really want an actual EGG to eat as their prize, but would much rather have CANDY, if you miss any of the eggs, there will be a TERRIBLE stench within just a few days, and you are guaranteed to find any that were left. But at home, my kids and I still LOVE to sit around the table and color our eggs whatever beautiful colors we can imagine.

This year, Baby Girl was old enough to join in on the fun. She is two now, so I knew it would still be a crazy MESS, but I also knew there was no way we could leave her out. She already thinks she's as big as the other three, and if she saw them having fun and she wasn't allowed to participate - well, let's just say it wouldn't have been a pretty sight. So I made sure NOT to let the other kids do the eggs until after Baby Girl's nap.

We all gathered around the table with our three dozen boiled eggs, vinegar, and food coloring. YES, I boiled three dozen eggs! I would have boiled four dozen, but the man that I buy from didn't have that many white eggs. So we had to settle with only nine eggs per kid. Trust me, if you ever try to dye eggs with four kids and have to explain to them why they can only have THREE eggs each, you'll won't be laughing at me anymore. You'll understand then!

All three of the older kids knew what to do, and Britches and Little Man went to work dying their eggs just perfectly - well, sort of. I was trying to help Little Sister, but I was too busy trying to make sure Baby Girl didn't drink the colored vinegar water or dump the cups everywhere, so I was glad Little Sister caught on pretty well and was able to handle hers alone. Baby Girl LOVED putting her egg in the spoon, dropping it (with a splash) into the dye, and immediately pulling it back out to see the new color. She squealed with delight over each egg. It was the greatest sound in the world. And even Britches and Little Man quit with their eggs for awhile just to watch her excitement and listen to her squeals and laughter! They both told me this year's egg dying was the best time they had ever had.

My sweet Baby Girl had so much fun dying her eggs, and everything else!

Two sweet sisters, aka partners in crime!

Baby Girl was just too excited to worry with pulling the eggs out with the spoon. She would pull some of them up with the spoon and then grab them with her hands, and then for the rest, she just reached her hand down into the cup to get her egg.

 Little Sister is hugging her egg. Yeah, that was a mess.

She was very proud of her eggs!

Little Man was actually PATIENT this year, and left his eggs in the dye longer. So they actually came out really great colors! 

And when Britches finished, she said, "Look mama. It's Roy G. Biv. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet." (That would be the colors of the rainbow, in case you didn't know.) She amazes me with the things she comes up with!

We had the best time together dying eggs! I was so glad I set aside time to do that with them. This is a tradition in our house each year. I would encourage you, if you don't already, go beyond the plastic candy-filled eggs, and make some memories of your own with your kids over a few mugs of egg dye. And if you did dye eggs with your kids this year, I would LOVE to hear about it! Leave me a comment and share all the fun your family had!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Will Follow

God has given me a great desire this year simply to follow Him. I know that, as Christians, we are following Him, but that's not exactly what I mean. I have been a Christian nearly all my life, and I have always tried to serve Christ and obey what He asks of me. But lately, it's different.

At the beginning of January, I began praying fervently that God would take me to a place with Him that I have never been. I prayed that God would show me His face clearer than I have ever seen. And I prayed that God would allow me to be used by Him more than He has ever used me. I have prayed for those things for four months now, and let me tell you, I can SEE Him working! And I praise Him for it!

The biggest desire of my heart right now is to simply go wherever my Savior is going and join in the work he is doing. I don't care about recognition from others. I simply want to be used by the Master.

I love this song, and it describes very well my heart. My prayer is that you, too, will seek the face of God Almighty, and that He will place in your heart, just as he has in mine, a deep burning desire to follow Him wherever He goes.

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow...

All your ways are good
All your ways are sure
I will trust in you alone
Higher than my side
High above my life
I will trust in you alone

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow you
Who you love, I'll love
How you serve I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you

Light unto the world
Light unto my life
I will live for you alone
You're the one I seek
Knowing I will find
All I need in you alone, in you alone

In you there's life everlasting
In you there's freedom for my soul
In you there joy, unending joy
and I will follow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Too Much Free Time?

One of the greatest things about homeschooling is the fact that it doesn't take all day to do it. And if some homeschooler tells you that they take a full day to complete their work all day, they are either lying to you or doing WAY more than is necessary. There are several reasons you can figure on getting finished early. One is the fact that you don't have to check roll in the mornings. There are no potty breaks for 30 kids that you have to wait on. There is no hour long bus ride in the morning and afternoon taking your time. The list can go on and on. 

In our day, we generally get up, eat a nice, slow breakfast, spend awhile getting dressed and doing morning chores, and then we all end up at the table (or outside, depending on what we are doing for school that day). We spend a little time doing whatever school I have lined up for them, and then we are free. We spend the rest of the day taking care of chores around the house or yard, and the kids are allowed large chunks of free time to use most any way they like. 

During their free time, I do limit TV and video games, so they aren't just spending their time mindlessly. I give them plenty of options that, besides being fun, are very educational. They are allowed time to read, paint, watch educational shows like PBS Kids, play educational games on the computer, play outside, build forts, plant in the garden, ride their bikes, and all sorts of other fun free-time activities.

During Britches' free time for the last few months, she has been creating miniatures. Miniatures are like doll houses - furniture, house, dishes, whatever. Neither of my older kids have ever liked having something handed to them already made, but would prefer to create their own play things. So she has been in her room in much of her spare time working on her doll clothes and furniture. I just had to show you a little of what she has done. 

This is a bed she made for one of her girls out of craft sticks. The mattress she is laying on is made from her potholder loom. 

This girl got a real doll pillow, but Britches made her bed out of an old sock I was about to throw away. You would not believe how thrilled she was when I told her she could have the sock. 

She made a bench with a padded footstool for her girls to sit on.

A friend of hers from church gave her the bathtub and potty, but she made the sink out of cardboard and the towel and rug out of an old towel. 

This is the dressing room, complete with posters on the door. 

And coming out of the dressing room, the girl gets to show off the blouse, skirt, and scarf that Britches made for her. (The hair needs a little work.)

The girls have their own bookshelf with books waiting to be read.

Two chairs for them to sit on while reading their books.

And there is even a place for her puppies to play.

Britches did not make this all at one time, and I did not tell her to put this together. She has come up with it on her own over the last few months during her free time. 

Little Man is very likely going to be a engineer someday. He sees a problem and goes to work finding a solution. Yesterday, I told them to help me by picking up all the toys in the living room. Britches said it would sure be nice if we had a robot or something to do it for us. And Little Man came up with the great idea to put a dozer feature on the front of his motorized car. Then his car could do all the clean-up for him. Too bad I made him help pick up the toys BEFORE he was allowed to go build his addition to his car. 

After designing and building the attachment, he spread a few toys on the floor and tested the dozer feature to see if it would work. He decided that it would work on small items, but nothing too big. But he figured it worked well enough to get him out of toy pick-up next time.

He decided to modify it and make car armor. Not really sure why he thinks it needs armor around our house. Hmmm...

And then he built a shovel attachment, so that, after all the toys were pushed into a pile by the dozer, he could pick them up and let the car carry them back to where they belonged.

I have to say, he took longer designing the parts to his car to help him cut down on his work than he did on actually picking up toys. But that's not the point. The point here is that he used his IMAGINATION and some pretty good building skills to design something on his own. This is not a project I told him to do, and I didn't take over and show him how he needed to design his car. This was in his free time where he was allowed to be creative.

In your home, are your children allowed plenty of free, unstructured time where they are allowed to be creative and use their imaginations? Are they allowed plenty of time outside to run and use their muscles and just be kids? Some of the best learning is done when, after your kid sees something they think is cool, they use their own brains to come up with something great to play and do. Try cutting out of school early one day to allow a large chunk of free time, and just see where it leads your child. And then leave me a comment telling me all about it!

Time Alone with God

For years now, I have struggled with finding time to read my Bible and pray. It would be one thing if my kids weren't with me all day. Then, I might could make some time at lunch or some other quiet time of the day. But since we choose to homeschool our four kiddos, that means there is precious little quiet time in any day.

In January of this year, though, I decided to begin getting up early, before the craziness of the day began, so I could have some time alone with God. I have been doing this every morning since. This has done two things. First, it allows me some time that should be quiet, so I can concentrate on my Bible reading and some good prayer time alone with God. The other thing I am doing by having my quiet time in the morning is giving God the first of each of my days. Before I check my computer, before I start working on breakfast, before the chores and schooling of the day begin, I give God the very first of my day. It is my offering to Him. And by doing so, it sets the course for my entire day so that it runs more smoothly and is more centered on God.

Well, even good intentions have their problems. Most mornings have gone exactly as I planned, and I have been thrilled to spend some alone time with God. But there have been a few mornings that I just cannot get my eyes to focus on the words I'm reading, and I can't get my brain to wake up enough to comprehend those words. And then, there have been a few mornings that, no matter how early I wake, shortly after I start reading, I hear the pitter patter of little feet coming down the hall, and I'll have a two or five year old snuggled up with me. So I close my Bible and hope for another time during the day to sit down and finish my reading. Rarely does another time present itself.

Yesterday, I was reading about how Jesus got up early to talk to his Father. In Mark 1:35-37, it says:

"Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later, Simon and the others went out to find Him. When they found Him, they said, 'Everyone is looking for You.'"

If you read the few verses before that, it talks about what Jesus was doing the night before. He didn't hit the sack early so He could be ready to go in the morning. No, He was up late teaching people and healing them. And then the next morning, He got up before anyone else so He could sneak out and have a few quiet moments with God the Father.

When I read these verses, I was very encouraged to know that, truly, Jesus DID experience everything we experience, so He is able to understand our troubles. I am sure, being fully human, that Jesus probably had to rub His eyes a few times to make them see clearly in the early morning light. I'm pretty certain He was tired from the long night of ministry the night before. I am sure He was tempted to just go "rest" by a tree for just a few more minutes instead of praying, especially since it may be the only quiet time He had all day. And to make things more difficult, He, too, had people hunting Him down and cutting His quiet time short. Simon and the others were looking for Him. I can imagine them saying, "What are you doing? Everyone is looking for you. They need to be fed (spiritually). Aren't you coming?" Sounds just like my mornings when the little ones come in - "I'm hungry mama. Aren't you coming to fix me breakfast?"

So though it may be hard to get up before everyone else, and even though I occasionally have little distractions even in those early hours of the morning, I am so thankful to know I am not alone in this. Jesus Christ experienced the same struggles I face in trying to find time with the Father - and He overcame.

Be sure to set aside some time with God each day. Your time doesn't have to be the same time as mine. Whatever moments of the day that work best for you is when you should set aside to seek Him. There will be distractions, and there will be days when it just doesn't get done. But it WILL be worth the effort you put into it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nothing More Than You Can Handle

I don't know if this is a saying everywhere, or just here in the Deep South. But often, you will hear people say, "Don't worry about it. God said He'd never give you more than you can bear." In truth, I used to believe that saying myself. And quite frankly, it made me completely mad.

If God said He would never give me more than I could bear, then why did He keep putting more and more on me? More struggle? More heartache? More pain? Less and less and less sleep? I knew what everyone had told me, but my thought was that God either didn't really know how much I could handle (because I was quite near my breaking point), or He just didn't care. I had that mindset for years.

But recently, I was reading my morning devotions and I came across the ACTUAL verse in my bible where it talks about not having more than we can bear. And do you know what it said? First, let me tell you what it did NOT say. It did not say that God would never give us more than we could bear. Period. You can find the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says:

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

The bible says that God will not put on us more TEMPTATION than we can bear, but that, when we are tempted, He will ALWAYS provide a way out. To me, that doesn't sound a thing like the old saying I've always heard. I just LOVE the way people take the Bible and change it around to fit what their itching ears want to hear!

All our lives, we are taught that God loves us and won't give us more than we can handle. But that, my friends, is a load of CRAP! God ALWAYS allows us to have more than we could bear. Otherwise, why would we need Him? If we could handle this life on our own, what use would He be to us? And more importantly, if we could do the work of salvation (which is WAY more than we can bear), why would we ever need a Savior?

God will always allow you to have more on your plate than you can handle. God will always allow you to be stretched and pulled and prodded beyond what you think you are capable of. But it is not without reason. God gives us more than we can humanly handle, because, through those times, He shows us how strong we really can be. But more importantly, through those times, He shows US just how strong HE really IS!!

We serve a God who is Mighty beyond what you or I can imagine. If we could do everything in this life in our own strength, we would never have the chance to see with our own eyes just how MIGHTY and AWESOME God really is!

If only I had realized the TRUE meaning of that verse a LONG time ago. Instead of feeling like God just didn't care about me and had abandoned me with all that He was putting on me, I would have turned to Him and looked for His strength. But I just kept thinking, "Any day now, He's going to stop adding to my load." I wish, how I SO wish, I could go back and do those years over.

So the next time you find yourself overwhelmed, overextended, pressed from all sides, and burdened beyond what you can carry, remember that God WANTS to show off for you! He WANTS to come to your rescue and show you just how strong He really is. He wants to throw open the doors of Heaven and bless you. You just need to look to Him and trust Him to do all that He is capable and ready to do.

And the next time you hear somebody tell you, "God will never give you more than you can handle," go tell them to re-read their bible before trying to quote it. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nicole's First Flight!

There comes a time in everyone's life when you must stop running from your fears and just face them head on. For quite some time now, God has been gently pushing me to step out in faith and face a great fear I have had all my life.

I have never in my life stepped foot on an airplane, and I never have had any desire to do so. But recently, while working through the Beth Moore bible study, Believing God, God showed me an area of my life that needed a little attention. This particular bible study is about having faith, real and active faith, in God. You know, the kind of faith that puts on hands and feet and gets moving. As I was studying and trying to understand the direction God wanted me to go, I realized there was something standing in the way. FEAR! Not fear of God's direction, but a fear that I wouldn't be able to accept the calling He may ask of me because of other fears that held a tight grip on my life.

There is a reason I have never flown. Actually, there is a LONG list of reasons. They are (in no particular order):
1. fear of heights
2. fear of wide open spaces
3. fear of closed in spaces
4. fear of a pilot I've never met who may or may not really be all that qualified to fly a large aircraft, and there's really no knowing if he's awake or asleep in there or if he's DRIVING DRUNK! (Yes, I have seen that on the news!)
5. fear of the germs that everyone on the plane near me will be breathing on me which is destined to land me some terrible illness
6. fear of crashing into the mountain up ahead (or a building)

That's all I can think of right now, but you get the idea. The list is LONG and BIG!! But the fact is, with all these fears gripping my core being, there is no way I can fully be used of God to do anything He asks of me.

One terrible thought I had was that God may someday ask me to go to another country (or even to the other side of our country), where I would need to fly, and I would simply have to tell Him, "I'm sorry God. I can't do that job. I don't fly." That sounds easy enough to do. But let me tell you, I have had enough experience arguing with God that I KNOW He will ALWAYS WIN! Which means, He would very politely tell me, "I really don't care if you don't fly. Go." So I decided that I really needed to overcome this fear before He really DID ask me to do something big, so at least I would be prepared.

Something that God gave me through this bible study is that living in fear is the OPPOSITE of living in faith! I cannot say I am living in complete faith when I am allowing the devil to convince me that there are things I have to fear.


I decided I was just going to have to face those fears and get up in a plane. Thankfully, I have a dear, dear friend, Linda, who's husband, Bob, happens to be a pilot. He owns 2 small planes, so I asked Linda if he would be willing to take me up for a quick flight. All plans were made, and all we had to wait for was a good day - and a day that he wasn't working his regular job. That took nearly a month. But let me tell you, through this last month, I have prayed through this fear of flying like you would not believe. I have used verses to guide my prayers. Some of the ones I prayed were:

~"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

~"You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head." Psalm 139:5

~"This is My command - BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! DO NOT BE AFRAID or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

~"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

You better know I prayed through all of those verses! God showed me that I was NOT to live in fear, but to TRUST Him. He showed me that, no matter where I am, He goes before me and behind me and had His hand right on top of my head. I can't get away from Him. I am commanded to be strong and courageous, because He is always with me. And I prayed that God would uphold that plane (and me) with His right hand! (Yes, I know there are scientific reasons that a plane stays in the air, but scientific reasons can go wrong. I prayed for GOD to hold me up!)

When Bob called me and said that it looked like a good time to fly, I was all prayed up and wasn't even nervous! OK, maybe slightly. But only nervous, and NOT fearful! I was actually excited! Little Man and Brient wanted to fly with me, but the girls opted to stay on the ground and play with Linda's kids.

We got out to the plane, and, well, here are all the pictures of my fun ride!!

The very cool red plane we flew in.

My side-kick and I.

My fearless pilot and co-pilot. I think I was more worried about the two of them sitting up front together than the plane ride!

Truly it was a beautiful view from 2500ft. in the air! 

And after we landed, my side-kick wanted to take more pictures. So here are some for my scrapbook!

It was really an amazing morning. I was so very thankful to Bob for taking this fraidy cat up for a ride in his plane. I was thankful that he took time out of his day to help me overcome a lifelong fear. And I was so thankful to my sweet friend, Linda who watched my girls while I was up in the air. My girls had a blast with Linda's kids. 

Here are our beautiful girls.

So now I am ready. I have tackled my fears of flying, and now I am set if God ever asks me to fly somewhere to do His work. I know there will be other things that will come up in my life that will need to be met head on, and I am ready. If I can overcome this, I can overcome anything! 

"Everywhere You go, I wanna go. Will you take me with You?
Everywhere You lead, I wanna be by Your side.
Everyone You love, I wanna love just like You love me.
Everywhere you go, I wanna go there with You."
~Third Day

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's All About ME!!

It's not very often that I just get really selfish and decide everything is going to be about me. It's not really that easy to do when you have four kids anyway. Even when I do want to be selfish, my two year old is more! But today, it was ALL ABOUT ME!

For the last several MONTHS now, we have been going non-stop, run-run-run, go-go-go, and I have barely been able to catch my breath. Everything we have done has been LOADS of fun, and most of it has been with and for the kids and is in some way homeschool related. Also, I have been alternating between homeschooling and church duties at a rate of speed that would make your head swirl!

When I woke up this morning, I was immediately tired just thinking about the non-stop pace of the week ahead of me. Because we do children's church on Sunday mornings, and yesterday was Little Sister's birthday, we barely slowed down long enough to grab a bite to eat. So I never got my day of rest for the week. Which meant, this morning only brought about a tired mama who was dreading the days to come.

I made an executive decision (since I AM the chief executive officer of my homeschool!), and told the kids that we were skipping out on the last 4H meeting of the year. No one was really devastated, which really kind of shocked me. Britches was feeling a bit poorly due to all the lovely pollen we have this time of year in the Deep South, and she really didn't want to go. And Little Man said he didn't really care one way or the other. FABULOUS! So for at least today, the plan was to stay home and REST!

Well, it didn't turn out to be exactly a "rest" day, but it did turn out to be a "relaxing" day. We spent most of the morning outside enjoying the overcast day and the gusty breezes coming through the yard. I sat in my swing with my cup of hot tea in hand, which turned into a second cup of hot tea, and I watched the kids playing on their new hand-me-down trampoline. The weather was so nice.

That started my itch to get out into my garden. So I grabbed the nearest shovel, and I went to work. We stopped for lunch, and it was just in the nick of time, too. The bottom fell right out of the sky, and we had a great downpour. But I already had it in my mind that I was going to get my okra seeds in the ground! Who cares about a little thunderstorm anyway, right? I headed right back out the door as soon as I had finished lunch, prayed that God would hold back the rain for just five minutes, and started putting my seeds in the ground. God must have been looking down at me laughing, because He sent the rains even harder than before! But by golly, my okra is PLANTED!

After lunch, and after the rain had slowed down a bit, Little Sister decided she would like to go outside to try out her new umbrella that she got for her birthday yesterday. She found her pink and black water boots, grabbed her umbrella, and headed out. I figured, I was already wet, so I went out with her to keep working in my garden. All together today, I got all of my tomato seedlings planted, okra seeds and popcorn seeds in the ground, and my basil out of the greenhouse and transplanted into the garden. Also, as I was turning under some of my raised beds with my shovel, I noticed about twenty or so tomato seedlings that had sprouted on their own. I just LOVE it when God shows me up with gardening. He IS, after all, the Master Gardener! So I carefully dug them up and moved them to my tomato bed.

When I was too tired to do any more outside, I brought Little Sister in for a bath, and I headed to clean up as well. After a bit of housework (a VERY LITTLE bit!), I got antsy to go back out to my greenhouse and start some more seeds. A bug destroyed about half of my seedlings a few weeks ago, and I had needed to get out there and replant. So I had some quiet time in my greenhouse doing one of my favorite things - starting seeds.

And then, after supper, all the kids were watching PBS Kids and playing in the school room, so I decided to take advantage of the few moments to myself and jump on my treadmill. I walked and jogged only a mile, but that mile felt GREAT!

All of these things are things I have wanted to do for myself lately. I have longed to be out in my garden, to sneak away to my greenhouse, to sit back with several cups of hot tea, and to start walking on my treadmill again. But because of our terribly hectic schedule these days, I have just put my wants on the back-burner. But not today. Today was ALL ABOUT ME! I did some things that I enjoy doing, but haven't had time to do lately. I did some things that are relaxing to me! I just enjoyed my quiet day at home with my kids. Sometimes, you just really need to recharge, and today did that for me. It was bliss!

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Favorite Homeschooling Help!

What is the one thing you would consider your most valuable asset when you are facing the challenge of homeschooling your children? Is there something you just don't think you could live without in your homeschool?

I often have people ask me similar questions. They want to know what it is that I have that makes my homeschool run so well. They want to know what I have, so they can go out and get it. My answer is very simple. Go get a library card.

When my oldest two were 1 and 2 years old, we started visiting our library. Every Thursday, we went to story time with Ms. Betty B., and each week they learned how to sit, listen, and learn from a book. Ms. Betty B. made it so fun for them, and they just couldn't wait to go again the next week. This WAS their school when they were young. She read a story, dressed up and played pretend with them, did a flannel graph story, taught them their numbers and letters, and just had some FUN with them! She is one of the most energetic and fun people I know! We kept that story time schedule until they were 5 and 6 years old. And I can honestly say, some of the best memories I have with my kids include story time with Ms. Betty.

But when they got to the age that I was ready to start doing some schooling with them, and about the time Little Sister was born, we had a shift in our routine. We weren't able to go to story time anymore like we used to. But that didn't mean we didn't regularly visit the library. We headed up there about once every other week to pick up the books we needed for our unit study that we were presently working on, and each time, we'd be sure to spend some time visiting Ms. Betty. And she was always there with a smile and ready to help me find anything I needed!

What I have learned is this. If you are a homeschooler, there is no more valuable thing to you than a great librarian! Ms. Betty has been there to teach my kids in story time (the younger two go now), and when they were too old for that, Ms. Betty has been there to help me find any resources I needed to help us in our homeschooling. This lady is always smiling and cheerful, and she makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world at that moment. All of my children adore her. And each of them know that, if you have trouble finding anything, you can go straight to Ms. Betty and she will find whatever you need. She has even helped me to find books from out-of-town libraries and has had them sent in for me just for one special lesson we were doing. Little Sister, my 5 year old, used to head straight in and start playing with the puzzles, and she always wanted Ms. Betty to put them together with her. And Ms. Betty always did.

I cannot imagine being able to homeschool the way I do if I did not have the support and the help of a great librarian. And what is more, we have spent so much time at the library with Ms. Betty that she is no longer just our librarian, but she is our dear friend. We all love her very much! In fact, when Little Man and I ran The Race for the Cure last September, he was thrilled to know she would be there, because he wanted to give her a hug and show her his new running shoes! My kids wish she lived next door to us, because they would just love to see her every day. She is now part of our family.

So if you want to know my advice on how to make your homeschool work well, here it is. Get a library card, and make friends with your librarian. I have no idea where we would be today without the help of our wonderful friend and librarian, Ms. Betty!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Back to the Drawing Board

As most of you know, my son is a Type 1 diabetic. We found out three years ago, and we have made it a part of life and are dealing with it. This is a completely manageable disease, and I am thankful that none of my kids have anything worse. All I need is some good counting skills, a little sense in what we eat, and a good doctor to write the prescriptions I need for Little Man. Sounds easy enough, right? You would think!

All of those things have been fairly easy to come by, except the part about the doctor. When Little Man was first diagnosed, we were referred to a doctor who practices about two hours away from us. "Ummm, can't we get anything closer?" I asked our pediatrician. "Nope. He's it." WHAT?? What do you mean, "He's it."? That made no sense to me. There are doctors on every street of our town - OK, practically every street. Why did I have to drive two hours to see this guy.

Apparently, pediatric endocrinologists are hard to come by. They are few and far between in my state. The doctor we saw was the nearest one to us. So we began making the drive, and we did so every three months for two years. BUT, yay hooray, a new lady doctor came to a town that was a little closer to us, so we switched to her to save a little time in driving and money in eating out.

We LOVED this new doctor, because, not only was she about thirty minutes closer, she had nice office staff and her practice was in a small building with the parking lot right in front of the door. Yeah, I know, that doesn't really sound too thrilling to all of you. But, with our last doctor who had his office inside of a hospital, we had to park several blocks away and make the trek inside through rain, shine, heat, cold, and traffic to see him. So a parking lot right in front of the small building was certainly on my list of things I liked about this new doctor.

We have seen her for a year now, and we really like her. She has been very helpful, and she is always very nice. But go figure, she's moving! When I found out last week that she would be moving to another state, I was very disappointed. Her reason for going? You can't make a profit in pediatric endocrinology in this state. Figures.

So now, I am looking to make the drive back to our old doctor again who is two hours away, if he hasn't got so many patients now that he can't take us. If that is the case, We're looking at a minimum of two and a half hours for a drive every three months to go see a completely new doctor.  Now, I know most of you are probably thinking, "So just make a day of it. It's only every three months." But if you have never made that drive over and over and over and over again, and if you have never paid for the gas to go four times a year, and if you've never accounted for the meal that you will be eating out every trip (because an appointment that far away always means you will be there around a meal time), and if you've not thought about the full day that it takes you away from a job or, in my case, my other kids and homeschooling, you really can't understand what a burden this is. At first, it didn't seem like a big deal. We'd just make a day of it and make it fun. But after you have made that trip so many times, and you realize there is no end anywhere in sight (because an adult doctor won't take him until he's at least 13), it becomes a great burden. I was not looking forward to jumping back in that boat again.

What really gets me is this. Why is it that, in every other field of medicine, there seem to be so many doctors that you can take your pick from the ones available? Why is it that colleges are filled to the brim with upcoming doctors and nurses of every kind ready to tackle heart disease, cancer, brain tumors, back pain, general practices, and everything else in between? Why is it that I can find a doctor for any other problem I or my kids or husband may have, including pediatric issues, except when it comes to a pediatric endocrinologist? Why is everyone lined up to be every other kind of doctor except a pediatric endocrinologist?

I know my son is not the only Type 1 diabetic around. And the endocrine system is made up of WAY more than just the pancreas, the problems of which cause diabetes. I just do not understand what it is about this field of medicine that makes upcoming doctors steer clear of this field. I cannot understand why, in my state, we have only a hand full of these doctors, and most are more than five hours from me.

So now, I am back to the drawing board. I will be calling tomorrow to try to get an appointment with our previous doctor, and I am just praying that he will take us back again.

So the lesson to learn here is this: If any of your kids are interested in going into medicine, you should really encourage them to become a pediatric endocrinologist. They would be guaranteed to have a full patient load immediately. There is a great, great need for more of these doctors.

Made to Worship

For the past ten weeks, I have been engrossed in a Beth Moore Bible study, Believing God. It has been amazing. I cannot even begin to tell you all the things God has shown me through this study. I wish I had kept a journal from the very beginning to remember all the lessons I learned, the miracles He has done and shown me, the blessings He has poured out - everything.

In one of the lessons, she talked about how, even though God has forgiven us of the sins in our past, we still wear our shame so that everyone can see. Sometimes we even cover it up, but we are still wearing the shame. In order for us not to still feel the weight of that past sin, we must allow God to circumcise our hearts. In doing that, He will cut away the guilt and shame, and He will leave the mark of His cutting. It will hurt, but it will be a remembrance of what He has done for us and we can walk out in faith knowing that we are whole and we are His. Very thought provoking.

She made a comment about how, often times, we sing our worship songs in church or wherever, and they are slow and drawn out, and they tend to make us feel as though we are "swaying back and forth wallowing in our own self loathing." When she said that, I got a very vivid picture of most Christian's today. We sing all these slow songs that seem so depressing, and, even though we are thanking God for salvation, we seem to still be worshiping in a "poor, terrible me" attitude.

In my opinion, if we are bearing the mark of the circumcision of the heart, we should be jumping up and down praising God for delivering us from the pit that we were in! We should be rejoicing publicly over all He has saved us from. And we should be excited about where He will bring us next! The time for "woe is me" songs has passed! I am a child of the Living God, forgiven, bearing the marks of the circumcision of the heart, and expectantly waiting to see where my God will use me next. I have great reason to REJOICE!

When I think of the worship I want to offer my Savior, I think of something more like this.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Expedition Israel

One of the many, many reasons I homeschool is because I want the freedom to openly and actively teach my kids God's Word whenever and however I may choose. But often I find that I get so focused on whatever it is we are studying, I tend to forget to incorporate our most important school book - The Bible. I have a friend who has told me that she seems to focus mainly on the Bible, and she feels she is probably not devoting enough time to other key subjects. Well, I am the complete opposite! I have gotten much better lately with including Bible in each of our units, especially since we have started using Download N Go pre-made units. Each of these units, written by Amanda Bennett (Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett), is packed FULL of scriptures, God truths, and so much more. I LOVE that about these units!!

But, I wanted to do a little more in depth Bible study with my kids by way of our schooling. Seems that if I want to get anything done with them, I'd better do it under the cover of "school work", because once we put the lapbooks away, the learning part of their brains checks out! So I really thought that the best way to learn the Bible was simply to do a unit study about the Bible.

About that time, Download N Go had just released one of their new unit studies called Expedition Israel. PERFECT! And what great timing, too!! I downloaded the unit to my computer, printed out only the pages we were going to use, and we were set. It was that easy!

Expedition Israel takes you on a virtual tour of the Holy Lands. Oh my! I have always wondered about the Promised Land and what made it so special. When we started on our journey, we began making our way through the different cities and places where my Savior lived and walked and taught.

We visited places like the Jordan River, the place where Naaman was healed of leprosy and where John the Baptist baptized Jesus and many others. We took a close look at the Dead Sea and learned that, even though nothing can live in it, it is still useful. And we visited many of the major cities of Israel, learning the history of each place.

We saw animals in that country that I never realized were there. The unit had, already included, videos that we could watch to see the types of monkeys that Solomon received as a gift every 3 years, the type of bear and lion that David fought with his bare hands, and many others!

The kids and I took a close look at the terrain in that land, and we decided that, when Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem to register, they crossed some hard land. It was not the nice, happy little donkey ride that most children's books portray. It was hard. It was rugged. It was LONG! And we learned, too, that they made this trip EVERY YEAR after that to celebrate the Passover in Jeruselam. I imagine that was an even longer trip with kids! ("Are we there yet?")

Here are some of the pages you can look for in this unit, but there are so many, many more!

Each day has a particular focus. They are:

Day 1: Where on Earth Is Israel?
Day 2: Some of the Special Places in Israel
Day 3: A Bit of History
Day 4: Cool Things to Know About Israel
Day 5: Fun and Games in Israel

To be perfectly honest, this unit is so packed full of information, videos, experiments, and other activities, we aren't completely finished yet. I wanted to take our time and fully experience this land, so we are not rushing through any of it. This lesson could easily turn into a 3-4 week project!

The thing I have enjoyed most about this unit is the fact that my kids are getting excited about looking up stories in their OWN BIBLES!

**Let me just interject a little something here. Parents, if your kids do not have a Bible, GET THEM ONE! Your child needs their OWN Bible, and in a translation that is easily understood. I don't care if you think the King James Version is the only good version out there. If your child can't read it and UNDERSTAND IT, it is useless to them. OK, I'm off my soap box now.

Back to the Bibles. I didn't just read or tell my kids each of the stories in our lessons. I asked them to go get their Bibles and look it up for themselves. I don't want them to ever take my word for it that it's in the Bible. They need to know how to go look it up for themselves, and then let God speak to them through His Word. So I really, really enjoyed watching them find the verses and then read the stories out loud for all of us to hear.

One of my other favorite things, and this is pretty much with all our units that we do, is when we had our Jewish meal night! One afternoon, we all sat around the computer trying to decide which recipes we wanted to try. After we made out our grocery list, we went to pick up what we needed. We found our food ideas all on this one great web site! It's always so much fun to bring a different culture's foods into our home and on our table. I LOVE showing the kids how differently people of other countries eat! And I love the excitement that comes along with trying out those recipes. Most of these foods we had never even heard of, but it was so much fun trying them out and tasting what the people of Israel enjoy regularly. When you do your lessons with your kids, be sure not to miss this really exciting part. Don't skip out on "food night" just because you don't want to take the time or because you're afraid of trying something new. Besides, this is a great way to get prepared for different foods should God ever call you or your kids to a foreign mission field!

And I also loved the experiments we did to get an idea of the saltiness of the Dead Sea.

We learned that the egg and apple take less salt to make them float due to their shape. But it took MUCH more salt to float the marble and rock. We talked all about how the sun evaporates the water from the Dead Sea leaving behind so much salt. And we decided that, if it took THAT much salt for a marble and a rock, the Dead Sea must have a TON of salt to hold up a person!

This lesson has been fantastic so far, and we still have several more days that we will be enjoying this study! I don't want to rush through the Promised Land, but I want to go slowly and savor all the stories of old, the places in which Jesus walked, and everything else that this land has to offer.

If you have ever thought to take your kids on a trip through God's Word, I would highly recommend starting with Expedition Israel! It is a GREAT place to start growing in your kids a love of God's people, His Promised Land, His Word, and so much more. And let me tell you, for the price of $7.95, that sure beats the price of a plane ticket! I always love taking my kids all over the world through books and Internet resources. I would have neither time nor money to physically go to all these places, but with a book or my laptop, the world is just waiting to be explored!

Be sure to hop on over to some of the other great blogs and read all about what other homeschoolers think of Expedition Israel. And then, hop on over to Amanda Bennett's website and pick up a copy for yourself. Then pack your virtual bags and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

~I was given a copy of Expedition Israel in exchange for my honest review of this product. I received no other compensation.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess