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Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Day in the Life: Time-out For a Unit Study Approach

We are pretty eclectic around here. No one curriculum 'style' or 'method' defines us. We just pick and choose based upon interests, requirements and much prayer. We have been chugging right along in our home school this year, our third year. We made many mistakes in curriculum choices but as my wise oldest son says, "Hey! Anytime I get a chance to learn, it isn't wasted. I enjoy learning."

This week we were moving right along through Monday and Tuesday doing the same ol', same ol', when Wednesday rolled around. We decided that since we were heading into Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, and the Jewish people were celebrating Passover--what better time to 'slow down' and focus on Jesus, IN SCHOOL, the next three days. Amazing how He provided in that first day.

We started by reading from our Easter devotional booklet that we received from our church. We began to discuss Passover. My children are fascinated with History, particularly Christian and Jewish History. What better time to slow down than here and discuss?

What started as a research/writing assignment, turned into so much more. I asked the older boys to prepare a paper on Passover. Page one was to be notes and brainstorming, page two was their notes, page three a one page research paper on Passover using as many resources as possible (we have an almost seminary size library of tools), and finally--page 3--find Jesus in Passover. They were to use direct quotes from the Bible in all sources primarily.

As the boys began writing, many discussions sprang forth that ebbed over into every 'subject' imaginable. History-Jewish, Christian and secular. Science--unleavened bread, yeast, astronomy, and fungus. Math--calculate how many years it has been since the first Passover. Bible-praying for understanding, reading together-our 5 year old even read several verses, using study tools appropriately, and searching for Jesus in the Old Testament. Language Arts- reading and writing. Learning to cite sources and use footnotes. Life lessons- we live in an ever changing society. Rules change daily. Opinions change daily. Even the age of the earth changes almost daily. There is ONE constant and that is God and His Word. Before they 'leave the nest', I want them to be able to be like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily. I want them to know that their God never changes and even when things go haywire, He is constant. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

It was an amazing discovery in Unit Studies. We had tried this route before with some other things, but this just sprang forth out of nowhere. No curriculum. No pre-made plans. Just a discussion on the importance of Jesus and what He truly did for us. He truly lead us and guided us through this and even dad was impressed! He even read some articles on Passover last night. True blessing! Not just academics, but rooting and grounding our children in Scripture.

We enjoyed this so much that I hope to utilize this type of learning, springing from our Bible readings, more often. It is a welcome and blessed break from the routine of day to day work.

Jmes 1:5~ If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him.

(Linked up at: Raising Mighty Arrows)

Monday, March 25, 2013


Sometimes God calls to remembrance those things oft forgotten from the past. Words He spoke into our hearts during time spent with Him. Precious promises we were standing on but then life got in the way. The floodwaters came and we forgot yet another promise from the 43rd chapter of Isaiah:

Isaiah 43:1-2~ But now, this is what the LORD says-He who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (NIV 84)

The Life Application Bible notes put it this way: Going through rivers of difficulty will either cause you to drown or force you to grow stronger. If you go in your own strength, you are more likely to drown. If you invite the Lord to go with you, He will protect you.

We have faced so many tough battles over the last four years. Although not quite finished yet, portions of it are in a series starting here. The Lord has been so merciful and gracious to my family. He has been my whole life in fact. Calling me to Himself while I ran about life my own way. Running away when I should have been running towards Him. You see, I was that one lost sheep from Luke 15:4. Jesus in all His mercy was longsuffering with me.

Recently we have faced more battles. More trials. More decisions.....
I was growing weary. Wounded. Weak....tired. 
Until recently He called to my attention to return and remember. To recall the "goodness of the Lord'. 
I stumbled upon notebooks. Many notebooks. FULL of Scripture, commentary, dates, times, battles and occasions. Notebooks scattered from 2009-2011 when the battle was raging with my sons, my daughter, and my health from the Our Story series I linked above.

Hebrews 10:32~ Remember those earlier days, after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. (NIV 84)

You see, these battles began before I even hit the altar. However, you see, He was calling me before they began. I began to 'dabble' in my Bible reading some. When crisis hit, I had my grandma called into prayer for me. To me, the very presence of her signified that God's presence came with her. She was THAT close to Him.

The day I hit that altar and decided I no longer wanted religion OR the world, but I wanted a personal relationship/discipleship with Jesus Himself, was when the battle began to heat up. In just 5 short months we would be facing an immeasurable crisis. It broke my heart but it brought me to Jesus.

Today, I am reminded that it is time once again, to remember the past. To recall to mind all that the Lord has done for us. To persevere and draw close to Him yet again.

Lamentations 3:19-21~ I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. (NIV 84)

Jesus promises to never leave nor forsake us. Though we may be going through the trials of life, though the wind and the storms may rage, we have a God who never changes. Who is not shaken by life. A God who keeps His promises.
Today, let's remember the goodness of the Lord. That the shed blood and broken body of our Savior was to bring us reconciliation to God. That we all have sinned and fallen short. But we have a merciful God who wills that none should perish, but all should be saved. Reach out to Him today. Wherever you are. Call upon His name. Cry out to Him. Remember the goodness of the Lord.

Whatever it is you were standing for and believing in, no matter what it looks like right now, walk by faith and not by sight. Take your eyes off of your problems and place them on your God. Remember....Remember HIM.

Deep Roots At Home

Stop by the blog today for some great encouragement mom!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

We Choose Virtues--A Mosaic Team Review

I have heard the name We Choose Virtues praised and discussed often in Homeschooling circles. Imagine my delight to find out that the Review Team at Mosaic Reviews would get a chance to review some of their products! As believers in Jesus Christ, we want to instill Biblical values into our children. However, these products can still be used by anyone as there are not only options for versions of the Bible, but they have a secular choice as well. The main difference is that the Bible version has verses to go along with the cards.
For each virtue, there is a 'kid of VirtueVille' to help them remember it. The color and graphics are simply beautiful and so kid friendly!
I primarily used this with my 3 year old and 5 year old daughters. However, come assessment and game time, the 12 and 14 year old boys joined us! (shh--when I was teaching the girls the virtues, they were in the room and heard them as well. We have been discussing this with them through a study of Proverbs and other tools throughout the years.)

(How we introduced the card, virtue, kid, am not's, and the verse)

General Information and discussion about the products reviewed:

  • The Teacher's Handbook (PDF format)- full of wonderful ideas to use any or all of their products. It gives you, the parent, or the teacher (recommended for use in schools as well), ideas and explanations for using the products. It does not, however, go into detail about each virtue. That is on the back of the Parenting and/or Teacher's cards. (more about those later).
  • Printable Butterfly Awards- these come FREE in their kits in PDF form and are full of color! They may also be ordered separately. Award your child who shows consistent behavior in each virtue. My girls love butterflies so they were so excited when they got their award for being consistently "Gentle"
(The girls with their Gentle Butterfly Awards!)

  • Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Pages- These also come FREE in the kits, or available extra in PDF form for $3.00. Sixteen pages of fun coloring each 'kid of virtue' and a word search! My girls simply adored learning about Oboe Joe and then coloring his picture!
  • Family Character Assessment- These are FREE on their website: We Choose Virtues. Gets the whole family involved! This is a self assessment to determine where each family member's character is right now. We used this as a tool for discussion with the older boys. In many areas, I thought they were harder on themselves than need be. We discussed their strengths and weaknesses. We discussed their identity in Christ and that even though they were not a '10'- no one but Jesus is perfect. We discussed ways we could improve in this area.
(Self assessment in pencil, my assessment in ink. The older boys did this and it was a wonderful opportunity to build their confidence, discuss small weaknesses, and point them to Christ!)

  • Virtues Flash Cards (NIV version)- my absolute favorite part!! These are sturdy, full color, beautifully illustrated cards. Whatever version you choose-(NIV, KJV, secular)-will determine what all is on the back. The Bible versions include a verse, the secular ones do not. The positives and the "I am Not's" are on the back. On the front is the virtue, as well as the kid that represents that virtue. For example--I am Obedient is Oboe Joe! These cards also come with another card that has fun game ideas on it and other ways to use these. 
The 'Scoop':

We Choose Virtues has multiple products and kits to choose from for any budget. They can be used in combination with other character building products or simply alone-no need to supplement. While we only used a few of the items, I am already starting to see more understanding in my children about certain character traits. Which ones are good, why they are good, and how to model the behavior. They also know the "am not's" and why they are not so good.
For information/questions about the product, email Heather: Heather
For orders already placed, contact

They are running a promo special through the month of April. Use code HOME20 for 20% off of the Homeschool Kit! 
Another great deal is code VIRTUE15 for 15% off--I assure you that you will not be disappointed in any of their products!!

How we used these products:

(I used a comb binder to turn the coloring pages into a coloring book. This is Miss E learning our second virtue, Gentle.)

(Little A and Miss E coloring Oboe Joe!)

We also played Charades, which is one of the games listed on the Family Flash Card Games card that came with them. (I tweaked the game just a little.) The older boys even got involved with this! Each took turns acting out the appropriate virtue, then someone else acted out the opposite of that virtue. They loved this and everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves to see what they could come up with!
We absolutely enjoyed this product. My girls will commend someone, and point out which one, when an appropriate virtue is expressed. They are quick to point out when someone is not responding properly as well!
'Quiet time' has often been difficult around here. The girls have a hard time winding down and often are just as busy during this rest period as they are any other time. Today, however, I told Miss E that the TV was going off and she needed to practice Self-Control. She did it right away! I was so blessed and amazed. Little A? We are still working on those with her but she is so big hearted and often portrays kindness, helpfulness and she is a very good girl when it comes to sharing! 
The only tiny con that we encountered was some of the wording on the back of the cards due to their age. That was an EASY fix though, and I just used age appropriate words. This is one item that I see sticking around for a long time and we really enjoyed it!

Check out what the other Mosaic Review Team members are saying:

Monday, March 18, 2013

FamilyMint~a Mosaic Review Team Review

Ever wanted to teach your kids money management but wasn't sure how? Looking to teach them in a way that uses a variety of methods? Let me introduce you to FamilyMint's Money Management Certification Program. There are many options to choose from, depending upon your needs or wants. The price varies as well, however the most "expensive" package is only $29.99 at the Special Introductory Price-this option also allows you to purchase additional workbooks for 50% off the normal rate. The least expensive? FREE! Yes, free! This is the online application only and includes a 14 day trial of the Online Premium version as a bonus!
The workbook is recommended for grades 5 and up (ages 10+), but the online application can be used by anyone age 6-14.

The item that I received to review was Option #1. It comes with both the workbook AND the online component. For this product, you may choose to use 'real' money or just teach them using 'pretend' money. We opted to use their allowance and money they had already saved. Here is a picture of the workbook:

Upon opening the workbook, you will find an Introduction and Instructions. Then, it is divided into four sections: Tracking Your Money, Goal Setting, Budgeting, and Interest-Growing $. Follows is a Learning Summary, Worksheets and Forms, and Answer Key, Parent Checklist and on the back cover is a Certification of Achievement printed onto the same material as the cover of the workbook.

This is an example from inside the book on teaching how deposit slips work and having them fill one out for practice:

The second part, (or the only, depending upon the option you choose), is the Internet component. Here is where you access that. If you opt to go the Premium route, the workbook includes a code for you to access the online content.This is the image of my son's account: 

We used this program for a 6th grade, 12 year old boy and his 9th grade, 14 year old brother. The 9th grader filled out the workbook, the 6th grader primarily did everything online except the practice, (and real), deposit and check slips. They loved this program! Here is the 14 year old in action:

We always try to teach our children about Stewardship, and Biblical principals for handling money. This isn't included in this book as such, but it does mention saving for charity. My 12 year old set up an account primarily for Tithing as well. 

They were both especially excited about goal setting. Many ideas came to mind--my 12 year old actually created a long-term goal for a "college fund". He was so interested to see how his money was adding up and how long he had to go to reach his goal. They are given allowances each week and 'deposited' the money into their accounts. They then withdrew the money as per weekly expenses-example: tithing. 
They created short term goals as well. A particular video game was interesting to my 12 year old, so he set that goal. The 14 year old wanted a new hat, so he put money towards that. They had to figure how much of their money would be withdrawn into each account weekly. When their goal was met, we were more than glad to withdraw the money from their account for them, as they had learned the lesson of actually saving for something they really wanted, as opposed to just spending their money week after week on junk.

The parental control component also allows you, the 'banker', to set an interest rate for their accounts if you so desire. We chose to operate this much like a bank. The children wrote deposit slips to add money to their account, and then a check, (and a well prepared explanation), when they were ready to withdraw anything not considered and 'expense'.

Other than some user error--for example, mom 'forgetting' to withdraw/deposit the money on the parental portion (the kids did a really good job of doing it from their end), we really thought this was a well thought out, educational yet fun learning experience for them. Due to the 'bankers' error, it created problems on the bookkeeping end of the parental account. This in no way had anything to do with the product or the FamilyMint program, it was an oversight on this overextended mama. Overall, our experience was extremely positive and my children were very excited to learn about managing their money. The only cons I could see was the brevity of the workbook. However, considering the price and the online component, it is still a wise investment.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day in the Life: K and Pre-K

This week we we wrapped up Unit 18 in My Father's World Kindergarten by studying about zebras. Since this is Miss E's favorite animal, it proved to be a very interesting week! We topped it off by driving by the Buffalo Park here to see the zebras out in the field. They had been rolling around in the dust so the girls thought it funny to see 'orange' zebras!

Our reflection verse for the week was, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13)
This gave great comfort, not fear, as the trials we have faced lately grow in number and intensity. It was the perfect opportunity to remind us all of God's omnipresence. He is always present in our lives, watching over us with His love and compassion.

(Learning Geography)

Using Apologia's Zoology 3: Land Animals as a reference, we discovered many things about zebras. Above is a picture of Miss E showing where the mountain zebras are found--South Africa. We also reviewed where the kangaroos and penguins lived for Geography.
We have used Apologia Science all but one year of our homeschool journey. Needless to say, it wasn't a very interesting year. As the boys are getting older, we are switching things around a bit. My oldest prefers Abeka for most of his curriculum, so we will be primarily going that route for him. His younger brother? We are still deciding whether to use Apologia's General Science, (his older brother did their Physical Science), or to use the Science contained within another curriculum we have used in the past and LOVED-Heart of Dakota. Most of the girl's work will come from HOD next year. It is so easy to use, Christ centered, and they learned so much! (and it was fun--shh!!!)

(The girls pretending to be zebras for a day)

For Math, they worked on simple addition included in the program, plus the supplemental worksheets I have, along with beginning to learn to tell time. Miss E has that down on a digital clock, but now it is time to teach her 'old school' time telling. (wink wink)
We have also been reviewing a product for the Mosaic Review Team from We Choose Virtues, which has proven quite interesting. The one we are working on goes right along with a character trait they learned not long ago!

(Learning Math the Yahtzee way!)

All of my kids love board games, and the girls are no exception. Miss E plays a mean game of chess and now Yahtzee. Little A is learning, but she rolled a Yahtzee right out of the gate! Too bad she gave up early or she would have beat us all! Using the dice to count made for an interesting break from the repetition of the simple addition worksheets!

For reading, we continue to use Explode the Code and the many books we have laying around. Two that Miss E alternates reading from are the Circle C Series and an Angelina Ballerina series (targeted at 7 year olds and up).

Thank you for stopping by to take a 'peek' into our week! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Update: My Soul Silently Waits

The first part of this story is here
A very scary early morning issue with my daughter that culminated into an ambulance ride to the ER with severe breathing difficulties. 

When we arrived home that day after her release, I was worried to say the least. Not only am I a mama, but a nurse as well. I knew night time was coming and they had warned us that she may get worse before she got better. Croup seems to attack the worse at night. Come to think of it--many things seem to attack at night. Especially around here.

Our son's seizures, (story here), seem to hit at night-not long after he falls asleep-or early in the morning. When I struggled with post-partum panic attacks, they struck at night-while I was sleeping. The ensuing and continuing anxiety attacks seem to worsen at night and awaken me from sleep. When I have issues with my heart, it usually happens at night.
My oldest son, the one with seizures, suffered night terrors when he was a young child.
My daughters struggle with nightmares from time to time.

As an ER nurse, many a child was brought in-you guessed it-late at night with fevers, croup attacks and so on. Heart attacks, strokes, seizures and more all made their way into the ER late at night. 
Needless to say, I have not always been a fan of the night. However, over the last several years, the night has been my 'quiet time' with the Lord so I began to see it's blessings as well.

As we were preparing for bed that night-placing our daughter in the room with us with a humidifier going-my mind was uneasy. As I was about to go to bed, some verses ran through my head. Almost back to back.

Psalm 91:5 (a)~ You will not fear the terror of night....(NIV 84)

Isaiah 54:13 (b)~ ......and great will be your children's peace. (this was actually part of the verse that I had been praying over my children the night before this happened, well, several hours before it happened)

Isaiah 55:11~ so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (NIV 84)

I was completely amazed at the way the Lord was speaking comfort into my heart. I am still in awe of His compassion, mercy and grace to reach out to a weary and worried mama. That He loves each one of us so much that He reminds us of His promises and His words. That He is involved in every aspect of our lives.
To me, I am sure He knows my fear and dislike of the night. Yet, that is when He chooses to reach me. To teach me and to encourage me.
I was soothed that night. I knew that, once again, God cared so much for my children and for me. That He would protect us and watch over us. That I could "lay down and sleep in peace, for He alone makes me dwell in safety."

Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior? If not, check out this article from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Start right here and right now. Come with all of your baggage. Come with all of your sin. Come find rest for your weary soul.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Leaning on Him

Psalm 91 has always held a special place in the heart of my family. This week, over at our Online Bible study with Melissa Taylor, we have been looking at, pondering on and digging into parts of this Psalm.

The first night of my son's illness, I hand wrote all of this Psalm out for him on notebook paper. Then, I wrote a four page letter crying my heart out to the Lord in that same notebook. This handwritten note made the rounds. Hospitals in Cincinnati, Lexington, and Cleveland-he carried it with him just about everywhere. Every time I see this, I drift back to those memories and how the Lord HAS been our refuge and fortress; the One on whom I could lean and rely on.
So many things have been happening lately, almost a repeat, (but different trials), of our life four years ago. I am daily reminded of my need to rely on Him and lean on Him. Days slowly passing by wrought with battles. Constant reminders that NOTHING is in my control. Personal ministry battles, obedience issues with one of my children, battles with friends and family, reminders of illness in my family, a never ending to-do list, and just bone tired weariness. Mental, physical, and spiritual. Pushing through each day instead of calling out to Him and leaning on Him more often. How quick was I to forget our reflection verse from not long ago:

1 Thess. 5:16-18~ Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Through this study, I have had more opportunities than I care to count, to 'put into practice' the tools Karen recommends and the Sword of the Spirit, from the verses. The last four years have felt like everything is out of control. Yet, He encourages me with verses that run through my head, through some amazing friend's prayers, words of encouragement and email/messages/cards, and the assurance in His Word that He never leaves nor forsakes us. Even though we may feel like we are forsaken because of an out of control season in our life, His Word always remains true.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9~ We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed--(NKJV)

Hebrews 13:5~ Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (NKJV)
Praying that this process draws me closer to Him, as it did four years ago. That nothing is wasted. That I rely on Him to be my refuge and fortress in time of need.

One of my favorite songs: By Your Side, by Tenth Avenue North. Please hear the words.

Jennifer Newsom
OBS Executive Team

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day in the Life: K and Pre-K March 4th, 2013

The majority of the girl's curriculum comes from My Father's World K curriculum. We use a lot of Kumon workbooks that we picked up from Barnes and Noble to supplement things like handwriting, cutting and pasting, tracing, simple addition, telling time, and numbers. Although they are 4 and 5 years old, they are a little above their 'grade' level so we supplement. We also starting using Explode the Code workbooks last year with my then 4 year old daughter. Coupled with some Bob books, also picked up from Barnes and Noble, she really took off reading! We have not used the Explode the Code online curriculum, only the workbooks. It also comes with a Teacher's Manual to use if you choose to purchase it. We plan to use the Get Ready for the code series for the youngest next year.

This week, we were in Unit 17 in My Father's World and learned, among other things, about the Kangaroo. This week's memory verse was: I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8 NIV). Their 'catchphrase' to learn, or what the kangaroo reminded them of, was "I am safe in God." Talk about how true those words would be, we had a very scary incident happen overnight. (story here). That memory verse would carry us ALL week! We also learned how the mommy kangaroo carries the joey in her pouch to protect him, and that was compared to God's care for us. If we but glance, we will find many places in the Bible that talks about God's care and protection of us. 
All of Psalm 91 is a fabulous example of this. Just what we need when we need it? The Online Bible study that I am a part of, has been focusing on that exact Psalm! Amazing the way our God works!

Here is a picture of Miss E after completing her fraction worksheet. Yes, that is a tiara on her head! We don't have a formal dress code around here.

This is a picture of Miss A, the one mentioned in the story I shared, about 12 hours before the incident happened, practicing cutting and pasting skills:

We learned many things, but most of all, we learned that God is true to His word. We learned that we ARE safe in God.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Our Road to Homeschooling

I had never heard of homeschooling until watching a television show. This particular show portrayed it in a negative light, and the person was there to "rescue" the poor children.
Not long after that, I began watching a show on TLC about the Duggar family. The show is now called 19 Kids and Counting, but then, they were only around 14 or so. It portrayed homeschooling in a new light. The kids WERE socialized, got along, and loved the Lord. They had a heart to serve others.

Fast forward MANY years. I began to ponder homeschooling as an option for our family. I wasn't ready to admit it out loud yet. One day, in my shower, I asked the Lord if this was His will for our family. If so, please let me know in a way that I would totally understand. Please soften my husband's heart about it too. Please provide an opportunity to do so.

Not long after that, maybe 4 or 5 months, my son got ill. This was fall of 2009. See the series, not quite completed yet, of Our Story for details. My son was in and out of hospitals. He did 'school' with tutors at the hospital-the meds made him grouchy and a difficult student. Then, he came home and did 'school' with a homebound teacher. Still grouchy, still hard to get him to do work. Doing physical therapy, occupational therapy, surgery concerns, tweaking medicines and lots of follow-up appointments/looming hospital stays became overwhelming.

Early summer of 2010, my husband was asked by his company to temporarily relocate to Mississippi for a new factory they were opening. We knew that we would have to leave mid school year and return mid school year. That is when we began to discuss homeschooling. Suddenly, people came out of the woodwork at his job who also homeschooled and talked to him about it and suggested curriculum.We were also concerned about our oldest-school seemed to be difficult for him due to medicine peak times and sleep deprivation- and his seizures got worse with lack of sleep. As so, we decided that it would still be best for the kids to attend the first semester of the 2010 school year at their public schools, then we could homeschool when we got to Mississippi. However, circumstances would change. Again.

The first day of school, the oldest got sick. Did I mention that sickness also caused his seizures to get worse? He was on a really high dose of medicines too which made him groggy. That first day was not a good one. I had a meeting due at the school that day to discuss his care. This kiddo of mine was a straight A student most of the time, always on the honor roll, was in gifted classes and the academic team. During his elementary years, he had been bumped up a grade in certain subjects. Even during his hospital stays and seizures, he maintained excellent work when we could motivate him to do it. The meds made him either grouchy, sleepy or depressed. So--they were constantly tweaking.

 A meeting was called with the principal, the school nurse (whom was also my school nurse when I was in school), and the guidance counselor. That meeting was a nightmare. The principal wanted to put him in "special" classes and on a "special" bus to travel to the elementary school I would be picking his brother up. Or, he could sit in the office with them until I got there. It was like they were afraid of him and judging him. The school nurse tried to explain that he was an excellent student and kid, and that she had been my school nurse. The principal didn't want to listen. I was then given a "form" by the guidance counselor, who actually suggested bumping him up a grade in a class, to keep them from "discriminating" against him, is what I was told. It was a nightmare and I was enraged! His elementary school teachers and principals had even called us when we were far off, to check on him. He visited the school. We went from a lot of support (which they give to this day), to aggravation over a diagnosis. Not test scores--illness.

Right then and there, we pulled him out of school. Talked to the school board, talked to a fellow homeschooler from my husband's company, ordered curriculum and off we went. It was hard, but he was ok with it. He knew come January he would be homeschooling anyway, this was just a few months earlier. He actually liked being able to sleep in a little. He liked that his curriculum included Bible and that his Science testified about GOD's creation and not man trying to explain it away (evolution). Yes, evolution was brought up, but as a theory, not fact. I began to see holes in my own education about God and about Science (which I have a degree in). It was a learning process for me too. He still had his History text from public school and I leafed through it. That whole year was to be spent on other cultures and religion. Christianity was relegated to maybe two or three pages. What?!? The 'religion' this country was founded on gets a couple pages, but other religions fill the book and get more pages? In the years since, we have spent much time on Church History, as well as studying other cultures and religions, but in light of what his faith is. A more balanced view of them all.

His brother joined us in January of that year. We also had a 10 month old and nearly three year old in the home. I began to 'get to know' my boys better. We spent a lot of time talking and, me, just watching them. Seeing their excitement upon learning new things. Seeing their excitement learning about God as creator and that He is here, and that Science has everything to do with Him.

Here we stand, our third year of homeschool, and we have learned many lessons. Perhaps the most precious is time. Having time together. Learning and playing together. Getting to know each other. Working on having a servant's heart for ALL of God's people, not just a few. Our field trips are different beaches and museums! We get to go when not many people are there! We can tailor their education to how they learn best. Microscopes, science experiments, arts and crafts, and many other things!

This isn't an easy job. Coming from being an RN in an ER, I dare to say this is the hardest job I have ever had. But with God's grace, we get through everyday. We see lots of blessings along the way. My then four year old reading-she was writing at three, my three year old writing, and now...doing fractions-both of them! They are pretty good at Geography and Science. They love to learn with their older siblings. Sometimes, the boys even teach them parts of their school. Most important is the strong bond between the siblings and us. They don't fight or fuss as often as one would suspect. The boys will get down on the floor and play board games with their little sisters. When we go places, our kids aren't ashamed to walk with us. When they go somewhere, they have to hug their siblings goodbye (eek! even in front of their friends!). God blessed us here in Mississippi with a church that takes seriously their call to be the hands and feet of Jesus. A church that no matter how big, they still know you by name. A church that has a lot of homeschoolers in it and many activities to keep us all busy (the dreaded homeschoolers are unsocialized issue, is, in fact, a HUGE MYTH!). The kids are enjoying their time as homeschoolers and want to continue. Above all, whatever is God's plan will happen but I am so grateful for this life He has me living. RIGHT NOW.

I cannot answer if homeschooling is right for you. All I can say is what an enormous blessing it has been to my family. Especially when illness, family and otherwise, loom on the horizon. When we need to be somewhere to take care of someone. The freedom to serve, to laugh, to learn and to love as a family. The freedom to "train up" our children, as Proverbs admonishes us to. Proverbs 22:6~ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (NKJV)

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Breath of Life

Job 12:10~ In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (NIV 84)
Job 33:4~ The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (NIV 84)

Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible defines 'breath' as: "air drawn into the body to sustain life. Since breathing is the most obvious sign of life, the phrase breath of life is used frequently in the Bible to mean alive or living."

Stop and think about it. Breathing. It is natural to us; an involuntary reflex. We don't really have to pay that close of attention to breathe, yet we do. It is a precious gift. Unless you have struggled to breathe, it is often a function we take for granted. One that I, even as a nurse, took for granted until recently. We had a scare with my three year old daughter last night-see here for the story.
As a baby, I struggled with breathing problems. Many a night was spent in worry by my parents. Periods of time where I would stop breathing. Those problems plagued me through my teenage years, and then after I got married. Many a night my husband would nudge me so that I would turn over and/or take a deep breath.
Why is this important? Because after last night, I learned a valuable lesson. Rather, I learned more about the very One who gives us breath.

How many times has the Giver of Life allowed me to see that it is He who gives us the very breath we draw?

Years ago I had a dream. I was again a baby in my crib. I was having trouble breathing and turning blue. In this dream, I saw Jesus leaning over my crib  breathing the very breathe of life into my body.

Then, my son became ill in the fall of 2009-that story begins here. There was a period where one of his seizures got so bad that he couldn't breathe. His dad was at work and his three siblings were sleeping.We were in the bathroom and he was leaning against me struggling to breathe during a seizure. I cried out to Jesus, "Please breathe for Him Lord", over and over. He then took a deep breath, and everything was fine. Many times in the hospital, due to the amount of IV medicine they had him on, they threatened to intubate him. The levels were dangerous. The medicine was dangerous. The side effect was respiratory depression. However, even then, the Lord breathed for him.

Last night, it was my three year old daughter. A severe croup attack awoke her at 2:30 a.m. She was struggling so hard to breathe. Her breathing was so rapid that it was very difficult for her to even speak one word. Once again, I grabbed my child and prayed, "Jesus breathe for her like you did for Bryce. Please, breathe for her." As she was being assessed by the paramedic, she was amazed at her vital signs and assessments because she was deeply congested, had a very swollen throat, wheezing and appeared to be struggling for air. Once again, Jesus breathed the breath of life into my child.

The first glimpse we get of breathing in the Bible, comes in Genesis 2:7, speaking of Adam~ "the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (NIV 84)
God caused Adam to come alive by His very breath.

In Ezekiel 37, we see the Lord telling him to prophesy over the dead bones. It was God's breath that would bring them to life.

We see something else fascinating happen in John. After the crucifixion, Jesus appears to the disciples. It was with His breath that the disciples received the Holy Spirit. They received the gift of eternal life.
John 20:22~ And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. (NIV 84)

Many references are made to breath and breathing in the Bible. From creating, to giving life, to God's power, it is all recorded for us.

Breathing has taken on a whole new meaning for me now. Not just because of the struggles to breathe, but because of the importance of this involuntary reflex in the Bible. Because our God created and controls every breath we take.

How does this change how you see breathing? Grab a concordance or look in the back of your Bible. Look up the words: breath, breathed, breathe and breathing. You will be amazed at the number of verses you find. Share one here.

Thank God for every breath that you draw. Thank God that your very life is in His (very capable) hands. It is He who breathes the breath of life in you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Soul Silently Waits

This week, one of our blog topics at our Online Bible Study, was based upon this verse. Discussing our 'quiet time' with God. The time when our souls are silent and we wait upon Him. Through the years, my 'quiet time' has looked very different both in content and timing. Often it seems it is not enough. Not enough to sustain me.

A few years back, as my sweet family was growing, I began to find it difficult to have 'quiet time'. I had two older boys, a toddler and an infant. Late nights at work as a nurse, and one child who went through colic and now, the infant with a bowel impaction that kept me up late, caused being an 'early riser' to be out of the question. When the girls were small, I would have lots of time in the afternoon while they were napping and their dad was either sleeping or was at work. Suddenly, that time was gone. 
What did I do? Well, I prayed about it. I asked God to find me a time that I could spend with Him. Not really liking to study at night, I was hoping He would miraculously cause the girls to start napping again. Wrong. Night time became my friend and my time to 'meet' with God. So many people talk about rising early to spend time with the Lord and using several Scriptures to back it up-which left me feeling condemned more than it helped. I am just not a morning person and I believe God creates us uniquely. I believe that He meets with us in the morning, the same as He does in the night. He is the controller of the 'quiet time', not me. My comfort came in the form of this Scripture:

Psalm 16:7~ I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. (NIV)

During those times, I have been so blessed. This is the time of day when my house is quiet and when I am alert. It soothes me to sleep, too. I read, work on the current Bible study, and/or pray-either aloud or writing in a prayer journal that I have had for almost four years. I go back over it and record when/how the prayer was answered (when I remember). I have a treasury of the dialogue between God and I. I also see how "His ways" and "His thoughts" were higher than mine for that particular situation. Recently, I started a prayer journal for each child with a note from me in the front of it. Something I remember so strongly from my youth is a praying mama and a praying grandma. Praying with me and for me. I do the same with mine and hope they have those same beautiful memories that I have.

This change of plan has been an enormous blessing. My son, the one mentioned in the Our Story series, has seizures at night. While he is sleeping. It has been a blessing to have been in God's Word, some nights, for those issues. Especially in the beginning when things were so hard. We were on 'shifts' watching him through the night. I read my Bible at the kitchen table on my 'shift'. Just recently--last night actually--this was a blessing too. A 'preparation' so to speak.

This week, the girls have been studying Psalm 4:8 as their memory verse. It says, "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety." The day this happened, we were discussing this verse, and while learning of kangaroos, discussed God's protection of us. Similar to a baby kangaroo in it's mommy's pouch. We talked of how the Lord watches over and protects us. 

Last night, during my quiet time, I was reading Isaiah 52-54. I had highlighted many verses. I had prayed 54:13 over my kids as I have done so many times throughout the years. That they will be taught by the Lord and that their peace would be great. Verses in these sections talking about the Lord comforting His people, the Lord will go before them and be their rear guard, you have nothing to fear, the Lord has everlasting compassion and kindness. Wonderful things. Then, Isaiah 53, which is one that we know of as the Messianic chapter. Where he prophesies about Jesus. Verse 5 (b): by His wounds we are healed.

After reading this, I laid down to go to sleep. Around 2:30 a.m., I was awakened to a horrible sound coming from my 3 year old daughter's bedroom. It wasn't your typical 'seal barking' cough noise. She had ran a low-grade temp over the weekend, as did her sister, but we thought she was fine. She had a small cough at bedtime and we gave her medicine. As I looked in her room, I saw her motioning for me to come to her. She couldn't talk. It was like time stood still. She was coming to me as I was going to her. She was just inhaling so rapidly and making this awful noise. Then, she would cough and almost vomit. I put my arms around her and remembered our memory verse. In the room we were in, handwritten by my son on the dry erase board, was Psalm 4:8. I kept speaking that over her, "you alone, O Lord, make us dwell in safety." I screamed for her dad to call the hospital and tell them we were coming. Then, I just dialed 911 while he was holding her. The noise wouldn't stop and if she could say one word, it was very faint and hard to understand. We are currently in a locked apartment complex, so my husband went out to meet the ambulance. We have a fire department down the road and they sent them to get to us first as the ambulance was in route. The truck could BARELY fit through the gate and the gate kept trying to close on it. Meanwhile, I was so scared and wondering where they were. I was holding my child and praying, "Please Lord, have mercy on her. Please breathe for her Jesus like you did for Bryce. Please breathe for her" over and over. 

Three fireman arrived at the house while her dad was still at the gate waiting for the ambulance. They immediately put oxygen on her and began to assess her and ask me questions. I didn't notice it at the time, but I wasn't hysterical. I wasn't upset. Looking back, considering the situation, I was somewhat peaceful. The ambulance soon arrived and we were off. The Paramedic was amazed at her vitals and some of her assessment findings. She was pretty full and having such a hard time breathing yet her oxygen saturation and capillary refill was fine. They started treatment in the ambulance and we arrived to an almost empty ER, (strange for a 43 bed ER), where 4 nurses, a respiratory therapist and doctor were waiting for us. They went to work on her but she was already starting to get better when we got there. She was diagnosed with a severe croup attack.

As my baby was resting after her shot and awaiting her 3rd nebulizer treatment, I began to flip through the TV stations. Nothing is on at 4:00 in the morning. I happened to come across a station that had Joyce Meyer  on. She was preaching on the very first verses I ever memorized when I was crippled with post-partum panic attacks almost 4 years ago.

Philippians 4:6-7~ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

Oh, how I needed to hear those verses again.
They were also having a prayer and praise celebration. They were giving testimonies of healing from prayers, and eventually praise reports, that they had received at their call centers. I was watching and listening to amazing testimonies of God's provision and healing. All while my sweet little girl was sleeping on an ER stretcher way too big for her. God sent the kindest people in the form of the fireman, ambulance crew, and the ER crew. They were so compassionate and caring. Making her laugh. Talking to her.

If my quiet time wasn't at night in this particular season of my life, would I have been so soothed when this happened? I know Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us, but I had the hope of His Word surrounding me. In the form of a school memory verse, my prior prayer and reading that night, the compassionate people, and finally, a TV show. God's mercy and grace wasn't because I was 'doing' something. Instead, it was Him speaking comfort to me in what was soon to come. His mercy and kindness through my life has been amazing and I am so thankful that He called me and that He loves US that much. 
Yes, US. He doesn't love me more than you. He doesn't have more compassion on me than you. I am not more 'spiritual' than you. I just serve an awesome, amazing, compassionate God. He knew what was to come, and He was having compassion on us all. Preparing me. I am so thankful for the God that I serve, and for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jennifer Newsom
OBS Leadership Team

Monday, March 4, 2013

Learning As I Go

I spend a lot of time on the Internet. Homeschool sites and social media, especially because of my volunteer work with an amazing Online Bible Study. I cherish these people. But I was beginning to feel a tug at my soul. A stirring. An imbalance. It came after reading a chapter in the book we are currently studying, Let. It. Go. by Karen Ehman. In this particular chapter, Karen looks at the life of Esther. Mentions of a fast were brought up. I felt a stirring inside me that this was something I should pursue. My family has been in a waiting period, and currently facing turmoil in many situations. I needed quiet and I needed time with the Lord. I haven't been making much time for one on one time with the Lord lately like I should.

And so it began. Friday night at sundown with the intention to continue through Saturday at sundown. I spent "facetime' with my family and sitting out on my back porch talking to God. Seeing things in a new light. The way I did once upon a time ago. I spent time in His Word. I spent time searching my heart and what the call on my life is. I felt such peace during this evening and began writing many things down. Things that I had been missing due to my busyness. I have often been accused of being a Martha when I should be a Mary-but that is a whole other story.I began to see things that I was clinging so tightly to and trying to manipulate. (thank you Karen for writing Let. It. Go.) 

I had lost that sweet, close communion with Christ due to being 'tuned in' so much. I was comparing myself to so many people and the negative chatter (another great read--Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst) inside my head wouldn't go away. Picture perfect homeschool families. Women in ministry with families that seemed to have it 'all together'. I was only seeing a glimpse of their day-what they chose to show the world. I didn't see the dog throw up on their carpet for the tenth time that day, the teething baby that was unable to be comforted, the kids fighting over whose turn it was to watch TV, the messy floors and the half burned dinner in the oven. Isn't that the way it is? We only see what we choose to see. We never think someone could have it worse than us. We only see our faults. Our wrongs. Our should haves. Do we ever take a minute to look and see what we ARE doing right? This is not a form of pride- you are not being boastful or arrogant. Rather, you are choosing to focus on the positive instead of the negative.

I have a pastor friend (whom is a Biblical counselor as well), often remind me of these words of Jesus:

Matthew 22:37-40:

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[d] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (bible gateway)

Love our neighbor as ourself? Shouldn't we love ourselves too? Not in the way the world tells us to--it's all about me--what I want, what I need. Rather, in a sense that we slough off the guilt and condemnation that tears us down and causes us to loose the battle before it even begins? The kind of love that wants to reach out and help others receive the same grace, forgiveness and mercy that we received when we came to Christ. The kind of love that recognizes our right standing with God is in Christ alone. If He loves us enough to die for us, shouldn't we love ourselves enough to recognize that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)? That the God of all the universe knitted us in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13)? And that while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)? That it was Jesus Christ who made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6)?

After this period of reflection, I began to have joy. Real joy. As one who has struggled with depression since about the age of 15 (but won't take meds for it because all of them have either caused a reaction or a feeling that I don't like), happiness and joy are not always on my radar. Joy is different than happiness though. Joy recognizes that God is in control. Joy recognizes that no matter what, God will work all things together for good (Romans 8:28) if we just surrender to Him. As I go through life, I am reminded of one thing. God is in control. He always has been, He always will be. He knows all of our days. He has a good plan for us and has peaceful thoughts towards us (Jeremiah 29:11).