Friday, February 24, 2012

When Learning Comes Alive

Every year around this time, I find myself getting the homeschool blahs.  Stuck in a rut, bored, and oh, so tired.  Whether or not you too are on a homeschooling endeavor, I'm certain you can relate.  Wintertime (even one as mild as this one has been!!), can do that to you. 

And, every year around this time, I start reevaluating my goals and methods, trying to determine what must stay and what must GO.  After all, change can be good, right?  It's one of God's most wonderful blessings to us.  The freedom to problem solve and to infuse change into our routines every so often. 

As an educator, I absolutely thrill to the idea that learning can come alive to my children.  History stories that leap off the pages of stale textbooks, science experiments that make us stand in wonder of our Creator God, and even Latin lessons that cause us to better understand and appreciate our mother tongue.  The backbone of the education that we have strived to give our children is inherently classical, yet with a flare of an eclectic mixture of fun thrown in.

Here is a look at some of the ways we've attempted to make learning come alive to our kids the past few weeks, despite the wintertime blahs.....

A sick day doesn't necessarily equal no school!  Here the kids are creating their own inventions after reading about famous inventors of the 1800 and 1900's.

Jackson, busy working on his "invention" also. :)


The finished product - a robotic dog for kids who are allergic to dogs.  Can you tell what they are hoping for??

Jackson, fishing for ABC's.

Breaking out the shaving cream to work on our memory work.  So fun!

Practicing skip counting....

And letters...for little ones. :)

And this is what happens when you turn your back for a minute to unload the dishawasher while the kids are happily oocupied finger painting with shaving cream. :)

Took a little break to play in the snow.  Not much of it this year.....have to take advantage while we can!

Edible fractions....

Sophia wants to be just like the big kids!

History comes to are my kids wrangling up some cattle and building a fort out of sticks in our backyard.  Can't believe this February weather!!

Laura Ingalls Wilder

And a random cowboy. :)

Taking a little break for some reading.  Currently, a couple titles we're reading are, The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder and a biography of Gladys Aylward.

Here we are at the Valley Forge Visitors Center on President's Day.

Yeah, it sounded great in theory, but in reality it was super-crowded and the kids were more interested in stick-fighting. Oh well. :)

In CC this year, the kids are learning about the periodic table. Here are the first twelve elements.  Red jimmies = protons, blue jimmies = electrons, and the chocolate chips = neutrons.  Super fun...and yummy. :)

Some of us helped more than others. :)

So, there you have it!  A handful of things to balance out the monotony of a normal school day.  This week?  We're heading to the city to see the Philadelphia orchestra!!  Love learning right alongside of my kids!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Take a Listen!

Anna's husband, Brian, was back in the pulpit for the first time yesterday since before Anna went into the hospital at the end of the year to give birth to Micah.  His sermon?  "Come and see what God has done."

If you get a chance, pop on over to take a listen to what God has taught him over the past several weeks.  You will be blessed to hear his account of the faithfulness of our God.

Have a great day!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

One Year Ago Today....

One year ago today, on February 16th, 2011, we went FB "out" for the world to see.  We were adopting. 

Shortly after, you may remember our pickle jar??  Haha, have I gotten your attention yet?  Yes, a pickle jar.  For those who are new to our story, let me catch you up to speed.....

Post from 2/21/11:

Last night after dinner, our family gathered around the table and we read the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  A crowd had assembled on the hilltop to hear Jesus' teachings, but the day had grown long, and the people, hungry.  I was struck by the fact that when  it came time for Jesus to feed the crowd, he did not miraculously just make food appear from the heavens (although he could have!).  Instead, he first required something on the part of his disciples.  As always, God, in His mysterious nature, CHOOSES to use earthly creatures to carry out His heavenly plans. 

"By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him.  'This is a remote place,' they said, 'and it's already getting late.  Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.'
But [Jesus] answered, 'You give them something to eat.'
The disciples said to him, 'That would take eight months of a man's wages!  Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?'
'How many loaves do you have?' Jesus asked, 'Go and see.'"
-Mark 6: 35-38

Before Jesus ever even performed any miracles that afternoon, He first required his followers to step out in faith.  They needed to take the first step!  We see this pattern over and over throughout scripture.  Peter, walking on water....the friends who lowered the paralyzed man down through a roof and at the feet of Jesus....Abraham leaving his homeland to follow God. 

As we talked with our children about the application of this story to our lives, my daughter spoke up and said,  "Mommy, this reminds me of our adoption.  Just like God took what little food the disciples were able to find and turned it into enough to feed 5,000 people, God can take our little money jar, and multiply it to overflowing."  Wow.

"From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise!" 
~Psalm 8:2

Enter, our pickle jar:

When we first began our journey towards adoption, we emptied out a huge pickle jar and stuck it on our counter.  We thought it would be a fun way to get the kids involved in collecting money for our adoption.  They have had a blast finding spare change throughout the house and adding it to our jar.  

Well, last night, we took that big ole' pickle jar, and stuck it on the middle of our table.  And as a family, we prayed that God would multiply our "5 small loaves of bread - and 2 fish".  We prayed Malachi 3:10 over our pickle jar:

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  'Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it.'"

Won't you please join us in praying that God would do just that!  That He would multiply our pickle jar. That He would take our "loaves of bread" and multiply it to feed 5,000.  Or, in our case, just one orphan. :)

Fast-forward one year and take a look at the thermometer to the right of our page.  God is good. :)

Certainly, I believed God was capable (didn't I???) when we prayed that little prayer together around our dining room table.  But NEVER in my wildest dreams, did I imagine we would be where we are today.  $22,000 raised in exactly one year. 


And still, I find myself daily trying to muster up the faith to believe.  Oh, not in the raising of funds anymore.  I trust that when the time comes, we will have what we need.  That's the easy part.  God already proved himself MORE than capable there.  No, I'm speaking more of the bureaucracy and red tape that is involved in an international adoption.  Any adoption, really.  The uneasiness that comes from the unknown. 

And so, as always, when doubts come, I find myself clinging to His promises and reminding myself over and over again of His past provisions.  How He knit my husband and my hearts together towards the common goal of adopting.  How He has provided the necessary funds.  How He has overcome obstacle after obstacle. 

Even in slow seasons, where He doesn't seem to be moving, I am choosing to trust.  When we look around and wonder, 'Is this too big for even God?'  I'm choosing to have faith.   

And so, again, I lift my five little loaves and two fish up to Him.  My mustard seed-size of faith.  And pray that even now, as we creep.....literally.....down the list towards bringing our child home, we would sense His presence.  His blessing.  His favor.  That we would know HE is the provider God.  That He alone can move mountains.  We know that no government can stand in His way.  That in fact, "the government [is] upon his shoulders (Isaiah 9:6)."  We trust His timing, knowing that it is absolutely perfect.  Praying all the while for a heart of faith.  

Can't WAIT to see where we are one year from today!  Won't you pray along with us?


Monday, February 13, 2012

Update on Anna

I haven't forgotten about all you faithful prayer warriors out there!!  Here is the latest update on Anna from my mother-in-law:

Thank you for your continued prayers. Here are some praises and prayer requests.

Praise: Anna's coumadin levels are at the appropriate levels.
Pray that they continue to be so.

Praise: She continues to get stronger and even did some school with the children this week.
Pray that her physical therapy continues to go well.

She got a letter from the DMV stating that because she had a "lapse of consciousness" she will have to appear at a hearing to see if they will allow her to keep her driver's license.
Her appointment is scheduled for the same time as her lab appointment, so please pray that the DMV appt can be postponed without any hassle and that they will not revoke her license. She is not driving and has no intention of driving until her physical therapist says she can but obviously she doesn't want her license revoked.

The baby is doing great.

Thank you for continuing to pray with us. And thanks for remembering to praise God for His work in Anna's body and his work in our family as well. Anna is beginning to receive notes and letters from people all over the country sharing with her how this has impacted their relationship with God. How exciting to hear their stories of how their own faith has grown because of their involvement with us through prayer.

Thanks to so many of you who have continued to ask for updates. We are so blessed to have you standing and kneeling with us.

I pray that this is as encouraging to you as it is to us!  Thanks again for all your continued prayers.  The journey to full restoration is a long one, but we are "confident that He who began a good work in [Anna] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Got Coffee??

A day in the life of....well, me. :)

6:00am - Alarm goes off.  Another day.  Morning came way too quickly....again.  Hit the snooze button.

6:07am - Hit snooze again.

6:14am - Hit snooze again.

6:21am - You get the idea.

7:00am - Finally up.  NEED.  COFFEE.

7:05am - Slippers.  Check.  Bible.  Check.  COFFEE.  Check.   Cozy couch with warm, fuzzy blanket.  Check.  Check.

8:00am - Kids start to trickle downstairs.

8:05am - Wait!  What's that I hear?  Laughter?  No, yelling.  Trudge back up the stairs.

8:10am - "He's in my room!!!!"  More yelling.  Some tears.  A couple of foot stomps.  One wet bed.  Start the laundry.

8:15am - Get the kids dressed, teeth brushed and hair brushed.  We're doing good.

8:30am - Oldest daughter starts breakfast for everyone.  Stick coffee in the microwave to heat up.  Still 2/3rd's full.  Walk away.

8:45am -French Toast is served!  Bible time around the breakfast table.  A stray elbow knocks over a cup of milk.  Milk spills all over work.  *Sigh*

9:15am - Spill is cleaned up.  Breakfast is finished and bible stuff is all put away.  Out comes the school work.  While my back is turned loading up the dishwasher, the Lego bin is dumped out all over the kitchen floor, the boys start a sword-fighting duel, and a small tornado whips through my house at lightning speed.  Someone is yelling for me from the bathroom.  Give some quick instructions and then head down the hall.  Just a little poop on the floor.  No biggie.

9:30am - Mess is cleaned up.  Crisis averted.  WHERE IS MY COFFEE??  Check microwave.  Cold.  Set for another minute.  Ahhh...perfect.  Nice and hot.  Move onto memory work.  Math.  Reading.

10:30am - Quick!  Run upstairs and switch over the laundry.  Handwriting (a few tears).  Science experiment (a couple CHEERS!). 

--Temporary interruption due to two small children who shall remain nameless; creating a little science experiment of their own. ;) --

11:15am - Spelling test.  Check.  Vocabulary review.  Check.  History lesson.  Check.

12:15pm - BREATHE.....The kids scatter.  It's free time.  Time to think about lunch.  Pick up a couple random things off the floor.  One sock.  A handful of rogue Legos.  Some play food.  Not sure what the point is.  There's a lot more where these came from.  Collapse into a chair.  Finally I remember.  "Hey! My coffee!  Where DID it get to??"

I should have known. :)

All in all, I count that as a GREAT morning!!!  I think I may just about have the best job ever. :)


Friday, February 3, 2012

The Waiting Game

I never really thought the wait would get to me.  I didn't.  We're certainly excited to adopt, and every month we anxiously await our updates from our social worker.  That being said though, life is full right now, and I honestly thought we'd be able to keep ourselves so busy that it would take our minds off the fact that we are

And waiting.

And   W.....A......I......T........I........N.........G

This week, however, I have started to feel the strain of the wait.  The other day we received our monthly update. looks like we'll be waiting some more. :)  In the past month, we have gone down ONE spot.  We are now officially, #85.  So sad when you consider that there are literally MILLIONS of orphaned children throughout the world.  5 million alone in Ethiopia.  :(

I'm starting to feel like we are on the slow-track to a perfectly healthy baby boy or girl.  This was never our intention though.  Now, we're trying to pray through our parameters to make sure that they accurately portray our hearts and the direction we feel God is leading us.  Certainly we trust God's timing and know that when our new child joins our family, it will not be a day sooner or later than He ordains it.  Still, we can't help but to feel some discouragement by the wait and the lack of movement we have seen thus far.  Trying to remind myself that we've only officially been "waiting" for a few where near the 18 months that was originally projected.

Praying specifically for wisdom and favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).  Praying also for patience and a faith that doesn't waver with uncertainty.  As always, we covet your prayers for us!  Trusting that as we press into Him, He will be faithful to guide our steps.

Thanks friends!  We feel blessed to be on this journey with you!