Back to (Home)School

Back to (Home)School.png

In about a month all of the local kids will be heading back to school. For my kids that means back to the kitchen table. Yes, we homeschool. This will be our first year with two kids doing schoolwork together since our oldest is twelve and our youngest is going to be five in October. I could wait another year with her, but she’s been wanting to start school for a year already (she definitely was not ready at three!).

We started homeschooling when our oldest was five because we strongly felt that was what God wanted. We don’t feel that calling has changed. If anything it is stronger now.

If you are interested in homeschooling I recommend reading as many books, blogs, articles, etc. as you can. That’s how I discovered Unschooling and Charlotte Mason. We use Charlotte Mason’s lessons a lot because we feel that it’s a great balance of reading, practical lessons where applicable, and outdoor time. It also focuses on the Bible heavily, which is the important part for us. Also, even if you don’t join Homeschool Legal Defense (HSLDA), bookmark it so you can easily look up your state’s homeschool laws. In Alabama, we are required to join a cover school and report to them.

Our daughter isn’t old enough to start Charlotte Mason’s lessons so we bought a workbook for preschoolers. I’ll work with her while my oldest completes his own lessons. He’s twelve so he doesn’t require much supervision or assistance anymore.

I keep our homeschool organized on my iPhone using the Calendar and Numbers. I use the Calendar for important dates (re-enroll in cover school, our start date, end date, breaks, etc). I use Numbers for lesson planning, attendance, and grades. It’s great because I can access everything on my phone or on my PC.

This year we’re going to start on August 4th at Dollywood. What? How do you start teaching at Dollywood? It’s easy! Dollywood has museums, shows, and other learning opportunities. For instance, our oldest can find out how fast each rollercoaster is and from there determine which one is the fastest. The museums also require some reading so he can work on that while we’re there. We’re planning to visit Smoky Mountain National Park, too, so the kids can observe nature. All of us are super excited!

We Have to Be Foolish

We Have to Be Foolish

You may be wondering what I’m going to talk about today. Well, I was reading my Bible this morning and when I came to 1 Chronicles 15:29, I remembered a praise and worship song I dearly loved when I was a teenager. It says, “And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating and she despised him in her heart.” The song is called “Undignified (I Will Sing)” and it’s performed by many different Christian artists, but I love Matt Redman’s rendition. This is it with lyrics.

When we read God’s Word and obey it, we appear foolish to the world. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Verse 27 goes on to say, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;”.

If we truly want to be Christ-like then we must be willing to be to look foolish to nonChristians. They thought Jesus was crazy! Why should they think different of us if our goal is to be like Him? Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I encourage you to study the life of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to see how we are supposed to be. We are to love others, even those who hate us. We are to worship Him with our brothers and sisters, without fear of what others will think of us. We are called to fellowship together (attend church), but we are to worship Him without ceasing. My favorite place is when I’m in the car or my home with my three children. I want to raise them to be foolish to the world, too.

How to Set Goals (And Accomplish Them)

How to Set Goals

Setting goals is super easy, but keeping them can be challenging. I know this from personal experience! So, today I thought I would talk about how to make it easy to actually accomplish your goals.

First, you need to name your goal, be specific, and make it measurable. For instance, if you just say you want to read your Bible more, exercise more, etc. you’re probably not going to stick with it. Not because it’s not a good goal, but because you can’t track it. A few examples of measurable goals are:

  • I will read my Bible every morning
  • I will exercise five minutes a day/3x a week
  • I will save $20/week for 52 weeks (That’s $1,040 not including interest in case you were wondering)

Create a graph on paper or on your phone/tablet/computer so that you can see if you are making progress. Keep it somewhere that you will actually look at it. By the way, I don’t believe the Bible should be a checklist item, but it’s better than not reading the Bible. If that’s a goal of yours then check out How to Read the Bible (it will open in a new window).

My exercise goal is a little different. Since we will be living in town soon, my plan is to ride my bike for quick trips to the store instead of driving (unless it’s raining). This will save me some gas money and I will hopefully lose a few pounds. I’ll let you know once I’ve been at it for a few months.

What are some of your goals and how are you keeping track? You can let me know in comments or on our Facebook page!

Why I Use the English Standard Version Bible

ESV

There are a lot of Bible versions out there including the King James Verson (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the New Internation Version (NIV), the English Standard Version (ESV), and lots more. If you have followed my blog you have likely noticed that I only use the ESV. Or seem to.

I used to be a KJV-only type because that’s what I grew up with and what we use at church. The problem was that I struggled to understand it and I was missing the meaning because of that. For my birthday this year, I was given an ESV Bible so I started reading it.

The first thing I noticed was that it was saying the same thing as my KJV, but in modern English. This makes it super simple to follow along in church. I also don’t get distracted by the lingo so I retain more of what I’m reading. This makes me want to read more and I can spend more time doing so.

It does have the same issue as most modern translations, verses are missing. I did my own research and agree that they were likely added after the original manuscripts. I do have a journaling Bible so it’s simple enough for me to write them in. I did that when I realized my Bible was missing four verses in 1 Thessalonians.

I’m definitely not saying that you should choose a translation and just use it, I certainly do not. I use the NIV, NLT, KJV, and ESV personally. Occasionally I’ll use the CSB (Christian Standard Bible) on my Kindle. To make things simpler on this blog I stick to ESV unless I make a note otherwise.

Just Participate, Don’t Anticipate

DontAnticipate

“Just participate, don’t anticipate” was the mantra on my Walk to Emmaus. It made us slow down and not overthink our weekend, just enjoy the surprises that popped up along the way. I find that doing this now is almost therapeutic. I thought I was crazy, until today.

Every afternoon I start my Bible study with Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young. Today it says, “Concentrate on keeping step with Me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you”. It references Proverbs 16:9 which says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”. This means that it’s okay to make plans as long as you allow God to guide your steps.

That’s what we have done with Berry Cottage. We asked God to show us where He wanted us and He showed us Berry Cottage. Then He blessed us financially to be able to move there. We serve a loving, merciful God who wants to bless us, but in His time and in His way. That’s what He’s teaching me.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, I still have my struggles. I’m still praying to be content in our current circumstances, but I’m learning that contentment is really a choice. Some days I have to ask Him to show me the way, but it’s getting easier.

When Are You Moving?

25ee1-berry2bcottage

I get this question a lot. I have been praying that God would open a door so that we can move. Yesterday I told my husband that I want a move-in date. He said, “Show me the money”. I prayed and asked God to please help us. An hour later my mom called with a surprise for us. We are moving in July of this year!

To say that I’m excited is an understatement. The house won’t be perfect, but I don’t even care. That will come in time. I’m ecstatic because I know where God wants us. All we have to do is take what we need, which really isn’t much.

I will post pictures as we complete projects and start decorating. That’s my favourite part of this. Decorating and making our house a home. It’s going to be simple, but comfortable. Like the house itself.

If you are looking for an answer or you are struggling, go to Jesus. I can tell you with certainty that He loves you and He’s waiting for you to talk to Him. He still talks to us just like He talked to people in the Bible. We just have to take time to listen. We’re too often too busy for Him. He’s never too busy for us.

The Walk to Emmaus

WalkToEmmaus

If you have never heard of The Walk to Emmaus I encourage you to ask at your church and see if anyone has been. I went in April and I sent my mom on the very next one. It isn’t a secret society nor is it a cult. It is an incredible experience where you will see Jesus.

The Walk to Emmaus is based on Luke 24:13-35. It’s just after Jesus was resurrected and he appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus. They walked and talked with Him, but did not know that He was Jesus. It wasn’t until He broke the bread and blessed it that they recognized Him. Then He vanished.

The Walk to Emmaus ministry is clouded in mystery because if you know what is going to happen you will miss a blessing. The purpose is for you to focus on Jesus all weekend. To truly seek Him. If it’s like my weekend and my Mom’s, you will encounter Him. It may not be the first day, it may be the last, but He will meet you there. You only have to be receptive.

It is not a replacement for going to church. It is a place to go and get re-charged. Then you return to your church and your community ready to serve. While I was there I realized that I wasn’t serving because I had allowed my anxiety to overwhelm me. The devil still tries to use my anxiety, but I’m wise to his tricks and I rebuke him. Right now, this blog is how I serve until God shows me what He wants me to do.

The Walk to Emmaus is life-changing, just like it was for the two men on the road to Emmaus. I pray that if you haven’t been that you will pray about going. If you have been I would love for you to share your experience without revealing any of the secrets.

Fighting a Spiritual Battle

SpiritualWarfare

For over a month now my family and I have been struggling financially. I have made cuts that were somewhat painful, but I have also prepared to lose things that so far we have arrangements made. We have food, electricity, internet, both homes, and our vehicle. All of this time God has given me verses on not being afraid. I thought this was a physical fight in the sense that we’re struggling to keep things.

Last night God got my attention through a dream. My husband and I had just bought a house that was way more than we needed, but it was an old house. I’m talking two stories with a basement and a full attic. Everything was fine until it got dark. Then things started moving, I heard voices, and I was being attacked with our youngest child beside me. When I went to rebuke the dark spirit I was too weak, it laughed at me.

I ran to where my husband was sleeping with our other two kids and the spirit was after them, too. My husband and I stood there and pondered what to do at three in the morning in the middle of a spiritual battle. I called my dad, who I lost in February. In true Dad fashion, his response was, “You aren’t bringing that $%^& here!” So we loaded up and went to Berry Cottage.

When I woke up I realized that even though this feels like we’re dealing on the physical level, we’re actually dealing on a spiritual level. This fight is about Who we are going to listen to and where our trust lies. Do we trust God? Or are we going to let the devil take away our joy and our faith?

I haven’t been praying for strength, I have been praying for answers. I haven’t felt like reading the Bible so I have neglected it. So I’m not prepared for this spiritual battle at all and I’m not doing anything about it! I’m too focused on myself.

This realization was more terrifying than the nightmare I had woken up from. I stayed up a few hours praying and reading my Bible. God had my undivided attention and I was shaking too bad to fall asleep.

I realized that my husband and I need to come together to face the devil, he’s already fighting us and we’re letting him win. Every time I look at our budget in fear and panic, the enemy is winning because I’m not trusting Jesus. He’s got this. All I have to do is let go and remind the devil that he has no place here. Jesus always wins. Always. He already conquered hell and death, there’s no power in either one.

So, how do you fight a spiritual fight? Start with Ephesians 6 and put on the whole armour of God. Pray, preferably out loud, without ceasing. Get in His word and stay there. Go to church and ask your church family to pray for you and your family, too. The enemy comes to see who he can devour, don’t let it be you. Fight back! Remind him what God’s Word says.

On another note, I think seeing Berry Cottage as our sanctuary and refuge was a pretty clear sign, too. When we’re there you can feel the presence of God. It’s beautiful! Anyone who has been there has felt His peace, even in the yard! We haven’t heard from the mortgage company there yet, but I know that God’s got this. No matter what happens.

 

Organizing for the Unorganized

OrganizingTheUnorganized

Today I want to talk to you about organizing and I feel like I am qualified to tell you about this because I am not organized. I am a long time member of the procrastination support group and I’m supposed to be president, but the meetings are perpetually postponed. So, this is more about how to organize a disorganized person. If you are type-A personality or OCD you can maybe leave some tips for the rest of us in comments.

My biggest struggle is making myself do the things I despise. Especially when I’m in “one of my moods”. I am getting better at this, but when I’m not in a mood I notice the horrible job I did and I fix it. Which takes longer.

I have an iPhone so I am starting to use Reminders quite a bit. I actually had to put my blood pressure medicine in there or else I forget about it. Not very smart. I also list everything I want to do the night before I’m going to get started. It tends to be shorter if I write up the list when I first get up.

So, I highly recommend an app that allows you to input tasks and has check marks so you can see how much (or little) you have accomplished. I like setting time restraints so that I know how much free time I can enjoy once I’m done. I don’t allow myself breaks before or while I’m cleaning because I will shrug off the rest of my list. It can be done tomorrow. Until you do this perpetually and your house is still a disaster six months later.

What do I list in Reminders?

  • Take medications
  • Eat/Feed kids breakfast (Not that forget, but I like lots of checkmarks)
  • Morning with God – this is not His time slot. I talk and sing to Him while I’m doing my chores. This is when I do my Bible study and devotional time.
  • Help 4 year old clean her room
  • Clean bathroom
  • Remind 12 year old to clean his bedroom and bathroom
  • Eat/feed kids lunch
  • Put away clothes or wash clothes
  • Clean kitchen/dining room
  • Clean living room
  • Work on blog (Monday – Friday)
  • Meal plan (Every Friday)
  • Budget (End of month)
  • Pay bills (First of every month)
  • Free time!

Of course I may have to add or remove things as time goes on. That’s fine as long as it’s not doing the laundry. Right now I have, what I think is, a valid excuse. Two of our dressers are at the former Berry Cottage and I really need them because my kid’s dressers are in disrepair. Well, they could be repaired, but I don’t want to when there are two good ones we can bring home. I also feel like we don’t have a good place to store towels. Our bathrooms have zero storage except under the sinks and I hate storing stuff there in case of a leak. I guess I need to realize that if there is a leak that’s where my towels are going anyway.

I’m going to try my ideas out over the next week and next Friday I will let y’all know how it’s going. If it goes really well I may even share pictures of the inside of my home.

About Prayer

Prayer

Today I want to talk to you about prayer. I know this can be a pretty broad topic, but I’m going to try and simplify it. For the record, I am a Christian so I’m talking about praying to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As always, I will be using the ESV because I feel it is the easiest to read and understand. Feel free to use your favorite translation.

When should we pray? In Luke 18:1, Jesus was speaking to His disciples. “And He them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” We are to pray constantly, without ceasing. Praying is not just bringing our needs to Jesus, but it’s a conversation with Him. How would you feel if a close friend only spoke to you when they needed something? Pretty bad, right?

How should we pray? I encourage you to read Matthew 6:5-15, but I’m going to focus on verses 9-13. “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

That’s all that is required because He already knows our needs and the desires of our hearts. He also knows how we have sinned better than we do. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

I also like the ACTS format.

Adoration worship God for who He is, not what He has done.

Confession confess your sins to God

Thanksgiving thank God for all of your blessings

Supplication bring any needs or desires to Him

Psalm 77:11-15 goes along with adoring God and it says, “I will remember the deeds of the LORDyes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.”

You can always come to Jesus and talk with Him, especially when you are hurting and feel broken. Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. Never feel like you can’t talk to God, He loves you.

I highly recommend keeping a prayer journal listing prayer requests with the dates when you first started praying and when God answered them. I have had to wait years for God to answer many of my prayers, but when He did I was more grateful to Him. It is always in His time and not our own, but seeing His faithfulness on paper is incredible!