Thursday, September 29, 2011

Out of Egypt

I have said this before, so please forgive me for saying it again...but one of the things that I love the most about homeschooling is how my kids take what they learn and go DO something with it!

The Students - this will have to be the beginning of year pic, since I forgot to take one!

Take the last three weeks. We just finished studying Egypt. Pyramids and pharaohs and sphinxes, oh my! They became totally immersed in studying this long dead culture. They have built pyramids out of Legos, ziggurats out of left over cinder blocks and even included a sarcophagus with a 'mummified' pharaoh in the Lego pyramid.

The Lego Pyramid complete with sarcophagus and mummy.

Working on his ziggurat - pen and paper in hand

They were especially fascinated with the "fact" that the slaves used dolerite stone balls to hammer out tunnels in the pyramids, and to help smooth the sides. Now don't go slamming the kids! There are about as many theories for how the pyramids were built as there are archaeologists! But several of the movies we watched and books that we read had pics of these dolerite and so the kids have taken it to heart.

Dolerite in action

Today finds them out in the yard, meshing many of the things that we have learned over the last few weeks: sand, dolerites, working hard...enjoy the pics!

The Yard Boss - At least he THINKS he is in charge!

The REAL Yard Boss - oh so subtle she is!

Does not care who is in charge, as long as he can build!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Change His Life - Change Her Life - Change YOUR Life!

This is a loooong post! Might want to grab a cup of tea!

For the last year, as some of you know, my life has been kind of "ups-by-down", as my son used to say. Before that time, I was involved in MOPS, had started a homeschool co-op and had taken over leadership of a homeschool support group. I also watched different friends kids every week, giving them a chance for a breath of quiet air, or the ability to go to a doctors appointment without raising their blood pressure. Life was busy, but good, as I fed into my passions by ministering to moms and their kids.

Then it all started to change. I graduated from MOPS, had a year long bout of back pain and then back surgery, then we decided to move and along came all the chaos of getting the house showing ready. Because we were leaving, I passed on the homeschool group into capable hands, and our co-op decided to disband, as the kids were all getting older and getting school done with everyone was getting tougher.

This left me in a weird place. I was still doing the core thing that I believe God made me to do. Be the mom to these three delight(-fully crazy) kiddos, and the wife to my amazing hubby. I am still right where I want to be, schooling them at home, cooking, ironing...all the things that make up the life of a stay-at-home mom.

And yet, I still have this passion for children 'not my own' that will not go away. I found it again, or maybe just uncovered it from the midst of all the day-to-day junk that gets piled on it, when we were in Guatemala this summer on our sponsor tour with Compassion International.

I had known for years that Compassion had an advocacy program, but at the time it was not a good fit for me. However I learned on the trip to Guatemala that the parameters of the program had changed. Now the program is more fluid and an advocate is asked to use their time, talents and influence to make a greater impact for needy children.

From an online dictionary:
Noun: A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

From our 1950 Webster's Dictionary
ad'vo-cate, n. from the latin advocatus, one called to another.
one who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause by argument; one who is friendly to; an upholder; a defender.

I can do that!! I can talk to people about the children I met on our trip, how their lives have been changed by the child development programs that Compassion offers. I can tell them about the smiling faces, the singing voices and the happy hearts that I personally experienced. I can tell people about the homes I visited and the abject poverty that the children live in - but also about the overwhelming love of Christ that I experienced in these homes.

And so, I became an Advocate. I love this "job" because I can do it anywhere! At the grocery store standing in line. At a park on a play date. At a 5K race where we are raising money to help girls leave the sex loosely quote the great Dr Seuss..."I can do it here. I can do it there. I can do it anywhere!"

So today I want to tell you about two children who need sponsors. They need a one-on-one connection with someone who will believe in them and encourage them to be all that God created them to be. They need a listening ear and a heart that will lift them up in prayer for their safety in the tough places where they live. They need you.

First, meet Britney. This kid has spunk - just look at her picture!

Britney lives in the Dominican Republic with her Mom and Dad. She makes beds and runs errands for her Mom. She has two siblings and her Dad is sometimes employed as a laborer. Most of the adults in her neighborhood are unemployed, but some work as domestics and earn about $88 per month. Britney loves to play dolls and play house - sound like any little girls you might know?

Britney needs a sponsor. Would you be that blessing in her life?

Now meet Julio.

Julio lives in Peru where the typical houses in his area are constructed of dirt floors, cement walls and tin roofs. He lives with his Mom and Dad and and helps out around the house by running errands. He has two siblings and his Dad is sometimes employed. He is in Kindergarten and loves to play cars, play ball and create art. Julio needs a sponsor. He is praying that he will get the letter that tells him "Julio! You have SPONSOR!" How do I know that? Because our new sponsor child was praying the same prayers as Julio, over her breakfast, the very same morning we met her!

Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post. These kids pictures are on my kitchen table, so I see them all day long, and I have been praying that God will bring forward a sponsor for each of them. Let me tell you, once you have sponsored a child, YOUR life will never be the same!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Educating the Right-Brain Child

I have been thinking a lot lately about my kid's education. I have not only been thinking about the "book" part of learning, but also about the heart part. The part which seems bigger to me than all the book part, which is this: What did God create my children to do? How has he gifted them and how am I furthering their learning so that they are equipped to step into His calling when the time comes?

These are pretty weighty thoughts. If my only goal was to make sure they all passed calculus and could write well, that they had a certain number of community service hours and knew how to manage money, then I think it would be pretty easy. After all, there are workbooks for most of that!

But we are talking about hearts here. Hearts and souls and lives that need to be shaped and molded for a higher purpose. This is VERY heavy!

It seems to me that with my boys, it has been a little easier to see their giftings and the ways their brains work. Maybe because they live life out loud - all the time!

Jalapeno at seven is an inventor all the way. He is always coming up with new ways to do things. New ways to make things work better or faster or just be more fun! He has a true heart of compassion for people. How they are feeling, what is going on with them, if they need anything. He is joy personified and feels everything so deeply, both joy and sorrow.

Pineapple has a math brain that scares me. He is six and without much tutoring on my part, he has a natural grasp of times tables, does double digit addition and subtraction in his head with out missing a beat and mastered the digital clock more than a year ago. He is a passionate leader, and thinks that everyone should follow him, because after all, he has worked out all the details and knows exactly how things should be done, and in what order!

Then there is my Sweet Girl, nine. I don't know why she is so tough for me to figure out, but I really struggle with knowing how I should educate her in all areas. Every task she has to do for school is followed by the words..."I hate_____". Not with a lot of emotion (most of the time), but I hate to hear those words when I have worked so hard to find the right fit for her in her curriculum.

Today, I asked her to write two lists for me. One list was all the things she "loves", the other, things she "likes". Here is her list, in her own words:

What I Love to do

1) I love to read.
2) I love to craft.
3) I love to use my tool box.
4) I love to listen to music
5) I love to write stories
6) I love to draw
7) I love to ride my bike
8) I love to ride my scooter
9) I love to run
10) I love to watch movies, Narnia

What I like to do

1) I like to swim
2) I like to swing
3) I like to build with blocks
4) I like to play with my Littlest Pet Shop
5) I like to draw with chalk
6) I like to go on nature walks
7) I like to play games and card games
8) I like to do
9) I like to play volleyball with my brothers
10) I like to play frisbee with the boys

Basic kid stuff here, no real surprises! If she could play and do crafts all day, her life would be "perfect"!

So for now, I continue to pray for her and about her. Asking the One who created her to give me guidance in how to raise her up in the way she should go...I would appreciate your prayers as well!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Whatcha Up To Lord?

We have had our house on the market for, oh, about six months. Over 80 showings, new sod, new carpet and multiple price reductions...and still not a single offer!

We have firmly believed (well pretty firmly) that everything was going to happen in God's timing. But getting and keeping a totally lived in house ready for strangers to see over 80 times has been exhausting!

We found out last night that we had finally received an offer (albeit a low one) can bet that my heart skipped a few beats and that my stomach felt like I was on the Scream Machine. My husband says: "We need to pray about this." I said: "I don't want to pray about this, I want to know what is going to happen!" And I meant it!

Then yesterday morning as I was praying and begging God for peace, I was reminded of a daily note I receive from Chuck Swindoll. He was talking about remembering the "pillars" we have put up in our lives. Times when God has met us and done amazing things in or through us. So I started to go through the extensive list of pillars in our life. When He met us in that tiny ultrasound room and we did not see the heart beat that had been there just days before. When I cried out to him while on a jury with a corrupt jury boss. When we bought this house. When Steve was out of work after 9/11 and we had $20 to our name. And as I remembered these monumental pillars and the many small ones that are scattered through our life, I was filled with such peace - you know the passes all understanding!

Fast forward to today. Even after receiving our offer, we had two showings yesterday. And today I received TWO showing requests. Both from people who have been here before. Both from realtors/buyers who know that we have a solid offer on the table. Both know they have a deadline of 5 tonight if they want our home to become theirs...

...will we have a bidding war, after so many months of uncertainty and wondering? I don't have any idea. But what I do know is that HE holds us gently in His hands, and that wherever we are tomorrow, it will be just where He wants us to be.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Very Interesting!

My church, Mile High Calvary, is doing a 90 Day Challenge, where we are reading through the whole Bible in 90 is a demanding regimen, but also doable, if you rearrange your priorities. I have decided to give up Facebook for the duration of the Challenge...and so far, it has been AWESOME!!!

Today is day Four, but I was reading ahead on Day 5 in Exodus. I was captivated by the midwives and what it says about them in the Bible...not many women are mentioned by name, so I am always curious as to why their names have passed through centuries.

Here is what Exodus says:

'Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”
Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.
' 1:15-21 NKJV

The first thing I found interesting is the meaning of their names. Shiphrah is Hebrew and means 'fair, brightness or beauty'. Puah means "splendid". Wonderful names, don't you think? To be remembered for generations as 'fair' and 'splendid'? And it would seem that we know their names and a little about their character because they feared God and did not do as the Egyptians demanded, and for this God blessed them and provided households for them.

I also love that they had a sense of humor, even with the feared Egyptian king. “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.” Wow! They were standing before Pharaoh - who, with a nod of his regal head, could have ended their lives...yet there they stood with a clever response, and because they feared God more than the man in front of them, their lives were changed forever!

I pray that if I am ever in a situation like that, one where 'fear of what could come' would overwhelm 'fear of He who created me', that I will remember this story and lean into the One who knew me before I was in my mother's womb.

What about you? Have you ever been in a situation where the wrong kind of fear threatened to change the course of YOUR life? What did you do?

P.S. You can get involved by signing up for youversion, a Bible site (also available as an app) that has the 90 program. I recommend signing up online, then downloading the app...seems to have worked better that way!