Category Archives: Pregnancy

“What you do for the Least of These, You do for Me.”

Standard

Motherhoodcalling

As I have been watching events unfold in Texas regarding the 20 week abortion ban, I am yet again convicted about my role in the abortion debate. My own story has led me to a passionate response to this atrocity our nation allows day in and day out. While I rejoice in the thousands of babies who may be saved by the legislation just passed in Texas, our work is far from over. There are many more babies heading to be killed, and many more Mothers who are in a moment of desperation, and fear.

I have spoken with my husband at length about my burning desire to be of use, to do more than post my testimony on my blog. To be a tangible blessing to another Mom. Even if it is just one. I want to HELP. I want to do more than talk about abolishing human abortion. I want to be an active part in living my life in such a way that my actions are a direct result of scripture. Of Christ’s work. So I talked to my husband about the options, and he had some valuable insights and suggestions. After speaking with him, and a few other trusted advisors in my life, I found some practical ways in which I can serve, and I ask you to help me.

Titus Family Outreach

Some time ago, unable to fathom the idea of *only* serving in my home, I jumped at the chance to try and found the Titus Family Outreach in my church. I meant it to be a homeschoolers group that encouraged Mamas to homeschool, and not to be scared off by pressure from friends, family members, and anyone else who thought homeschooling was one giant crock. Due to lack of interest, the group lost steam, and I was left with a plane that barely left the ground. Oh yeah, and an empty FB page with 4 likes. Fail. So much for my plans. God had other ideas. I still don’t know what they are… but I do know what I’ve got in hand.

So, tonight, as I purposed to follow my husband’s advice, and set up a *new* facebook page to suit these purposes, I was reminded by facebook about my abandoned page. Whoops. Wait a minute…. this is empty anyway! And I am looking to help families… Ok. USING!

So it has a new purpose.

What is the plan?

Those in the Pro Life community know about the concept of sidewalk counseling. You stand outside of a clinic, pray with those who enter, and then pray that they are convicted of the value of the life they carry. You hope against hope that they do not abort. You may direct them to a nearby Crisis Pregnancy Center, which may or may not be an option for them at that very moment, or ever.
I recently read about this ministry I found to be inspiring, and a direct response to Christ’s command to care for “The Least of these.” It is called Save The Storks. In this ministry they park a van that is equipped with the tools needed to do a sonogram, and to deliver the gospel to hurting women. They park this bus near abortion clinics and bring help TO these women, as opposed to directing them to help that may or may not be nearby, or immediately available. This ministry makes themselves available at the place of greatest need. I am not a sonogram technician, I am just a Mama of 4 who wants to help, but doesn’t have the talent or the ability to go it alone. I was inspired though by another Mom who wrote a beautiful post (which I can’t find, sadly!) about how she and her children handed out flowers the week of Mother’s day, with scripture and encouragement, all near an abortion clinic. Her courage, and her conviction was a balm to my soul.

I would like to invite you to join me. I would like to ask you to join a community of women, who are able, and willing, to offer help to those who may consider an abortion, but who have needs that must be met. I want to live out what I know is true. Speaking is not enough, we have to be doers of the word. (James 1)
Christ spoke during his ministry about the importance of serving others.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40

James 1:27 says:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

How will we do this?
By creating a community of able women and families, we can work together to provide tangible help to women in need. I will do the legwork in my city, visiting the local Planned Parenthood on the days they perform abortions, and offering women help. I will ask them what their needs are, and share their testimonies, and needs on the Titus Family Outreach page on facebook. This will be a Pro life craigslist, if you will. We will be a physical resource to women in our community, offering our talents, our abilities, and also importantly, our blessings to share with those in need. We have so much to share, to give, and so many ways to serve.
For example, if I had met 18 year old pregnant me at an abortion clinic, I would find that I needed items for the baby, help meeting baby’s specific needs (nutritional needs, and housing needs.) and emotional and spiritual support. I will be the hands and feet, and you will be the source. I will publish the needs, and as a community, we will try to meet them. I know I have the resources and abilities to be of assistance, I have no shortage of baby clothing, baby items, and a willing heart, and ear, ready to listen, and ready to comfort. What do you have that you can contribute? Will you join me in being that tangible help outside the clinic doors? Will you join me in praying for these women before we meet them? And in being ready, and willing, to help meet their needs as they arise? So many people accuse those who are pro life of not caring for these babies once they are born, let us not be hearers of the word, but let us be doers, caring for the fatherless in their moment of need, and let us be his hands and feet, living out the gospel to those in need.

Advertisements

With God, ALL Things Are Possible

Standard

Isaiahpost4I considered a long time ago whether or not to write this story on the blog, but there were a few impediments. Mostly my pride. I thought if this story was public, folks might think less of our decision to allow God to determine our family size. They might think we were foolish, and that in choosing to leave our future up to God, we’d asked for trouble. But after speaking to a friend today, that last vestige of pride was strongly assaulted. If we are to give glory to God, sometimes that means allowing others to see that despite our own shortcomings, he works, incredibly, and as Paul says in Ephesians 3:20, he works abundantly more than we ask, or think, and the glory is his.

This story begins long before it begins, after Ava was born, my husband and I felt that we should take God’s Word seriously in raising our children. We felt that the practical side of that was quitting my job, and staying home to homeschool them. But we didn’t know that we could financially swing that. My husband doesn’t have a job that is impressive, or earns a lot of money. He is a “laborer” of sorts, doing hard work in a warehouse. He isn’t a manager, or even a supervisor. He just works, and works hard. We were well off with both of us working, and had saved up some money. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor either. We were comfortable. But we knew, that we were living life on our own power, and that despite our convictions about how we felt God was leading our family, we just couldn’t see God providing for us so radically. But, with the encouragement of a friend, and constant reminders of how we were ignoring our convictions, we took the plunge. We had no clue God would provide, but we knew he would. Our mantra was: If we were in obedience to him, he would take care of meeting our needs. Little did we know how very much he would test our faith in that regard.

First day of school

First day of school.

Once I had quit my job, I went to my daughter’s school, where we had enrolled her for her kindergarten year, to pull her from enrollment. There was no way we could afford private school, even a Christian one. But amazingly, God had provided for us to transition to homeschooling as gently as possible. I walked in that office to pull her, and walked out with a ministry position. The Principal of the school needed a teacher, and I needed to be able to pay tuition. That year was wonderful. I ended up in the perfect job for our family, in the kindergarten room, teaching little ones. I could bring all three of my little girls, and earn enough money to keep our finances even. During that year God provided an opportunity for us to use our modest savings to purchase a house to rent, and earn income from, thinking it would help us to maintain our finances once I became a homeschooling Mom.

At the end of our wonderful year at the school, we choose to move forward with homeschooling. We had been further provided for, by a series of little jobs for me, helping out ladies who needed housecleaning.  Then, by the end of that summer, we found out I was pregnant! We were excited about this new chapter of our lives, and the excitement was doubled in finding out our newest family member, Isaiah, was a boy. This pregnancy, however, was a bit harder than the previous three. I was exhausted, and my body couldn’t keep up with all that I needed to accomplish. Going from three children to 4 was daunting, and the home we had bought to rent, ended up being a loss for the first 8 months. Between that, and my eventual inability to keep up with the house and cleaning jobs, it was a tough time financially. We had no clue how we would be able to get all of the things for our new baby, and our first boy. God provided the little stuff, a new car seat, many Moms who passed on boy’s clothing, and a few faithful friends who threw me a “sprinkle” (instead of a full blown baby shower) to help prep us for Isaiah’s needs. The one big purchase  that had us worried was a minivan.

Jetta

Ye Olde Jetta in the background. Ye olde stick and popped tire in the front!

For the past 5 years we had been carting our little family around in my ’87 Volkswagon Jetta. A faithful car that serves its purpose well, we had grown from 1, to 2, then 3 children! All squeezed into that backseat! But 4 really wouldn’t work, and with our rental property being a loss, and our baby due in March, we planned to use any tax refunds to pay for the van. But when we went van shopping we found that everything was out of our price range, and that prices were due to shoot up in January. A grim prospect knowing how tight our budget was, and how much loss we had suffered over the winter with the rental property. We prayed for months. We cried over it, and eventually we found a cheap minivan at a local used car dealership. We prayed for the price to drop within our price range. But it never did. We honestly were at a loss. How could God provide for such a big need, when everything looked impossible?

Allenoverwhelmed

God is Good.

When I was (6 months) pregnant, we went to my a party for my Father In Law (Our rescuer when the tire popped on the Jetta after a particularly wild storm left some nasty branches in the road. The intrepid explorers and subsequent rescue pictured here–>) During this time my husband reconnected with some old friends. He had a wonderful time talking with them, and I spent most of the party taking care of our three children who were having a blast eating, socializing, coloring, and whatever else little girls do! I was present for some of the conversation, but not all of it. During a part of the conversation where Allen was explaining to them some of our recent preparations for Baby Isaiah, the subject of a van came up. Allen spoke about our wish to buy a minivan, and some of our struggles to do so. Somewhere during this conversation it came up that they had a minivan they currently had no use for. Then, later in the conversation, they indicated a leading from the Lord to GIVE the van to us! I was in shock, and assumed I heard them wrong. We parted with them with many typical goodbyes, and on the way home as we discussed what they had said, I was still in denial. I told my husband there was NO way anyone would just GIVE us a van! We dropped the subject, and went about our business. Church the next day, and on  Monday, business as usual.

Sarahdress

Sarah’s Dress

But on Monday, my Mother In Law called. She told me they really, REALLY wanted to GIVE us the van! I couldn’t believe it. I just burst into tears. Here we had been praying and praying, and I just couldn’t believe God would provide so completely, so amazingly. Over the next few weeks we sorted out the details, and before long, the beautiful minivan was ours.

Emmadress

Emma’s Dress

And This family had selflessly given this van to us, and to make things even more amazing, when we went to pick it up, inside of the van were beautiful new shoes and Christmas dresses, one for each of our daughters! We cried for joy at God’s amazing provision, and the girls happily wore those dresses at Christmas. I still can’t believe how God met our needs, and am thankful for this family, and their generous spirit, and willingness to be a part of that.
To make things even more amazing, not 2 weeks after we had been given this new van, Allen totalled his car, our Volkswagen Rabbit. Because we had the van, and we still had the Jetta, he did not even have to miss a day of work, and our tight finances did not have to stretch to buy him a new car. Now the Jetta is his car, and the van is for family outings.

Avadress

Ava’s Dress

This past winter was hard for many many reasons, but the bright spot, the moment that reminded us how much God can provide for ANY need was that Van. When we were in the bleakest moments, finding a new tenant, repairing the rental property, wondering how God would provide for our needs, financial and physical, that van was a HUGE reminder that God does provide.There were times when I wondered if we had done right, and if this season of want would last forever (it didn’t!) or if we had made the wrong choice to take a leap of faith (we know now, we hadn’t) There were times when I felt hopeless, and incapable of doing what we needed. Each of those times of weakness, and failure, God stepped in. There were families bringing meals, folks (in some cases, we don’t even know who) who dropped boxes of food at our door. When things seemed the darkest, and hope seemed impossible, God provided again. From food, to clothing, to a VAN, this past winter, he provided. Isaiah is born now, and I am back to finding ways to supplement our income, and there too, God has provided. Our new tenants are wonderful, and we are finally earning money from the rental property to help our family.

Without getting too heavy handed, I want to encourage other families like us, it may be scary, and at some times you may lie in bed at night, next to your spouse, not only wondering if you’ve done something crazy, and stupid, and even cried together about it, and yet, humilitypostmomandemmasnuggling humilitypostsarahemmaGod doesn’t allow his children to go hungry. He will provide. This testimony, as embarrassing as it seemed at the time. As much as to me, it screamed: I am a FAILURE!  It really doesn’t say that. What it says is, God will provide for his children. He will make a way. Don’t be discouraged if you see that it is impossible to do God’s will. It isn’t. It is never impossible for God, though it may seem impossible to us.

Our new Van!

Our new Van!

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Proverbs 10:3

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

 

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

In Response- A Baby Story

Standard

I thought longBABYFEET ISAIAH and hard about this particular post, and was quite inspired by Life In A Shoe’s Q & A post today, and the digging I did through her linked posts, particularly her Quiverfull, and Quiverfull follow up posts. I thought she handled a controversial subject with class, and honesty. And since I have a similar subject on my heart and mind, I shall forge on, and attempt to write with a sensitive heart, to the thoughts and feelings of others, while expressing my own.

So, Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook:
empowerment

There is a story behind why this photo is so important to me, and why I felt the need to share it on my facebook page.

I have felt a renewed passion for the Pro Life Cause since the Gosnell Trial.  In this high stakes case, I was reminded of my past, and what it very easily could have been.
I was a teen pregnancy. My husband and I got pregnant, after our engagement. I will never forget the anxiety of anticipating the responses of my family and friends. I was 18 at the time. I was staring at a future with no job, no health insurance (My Dad’s had discontinued me, and I had the choice to buy a VERY expensive COBRA plan.) and single motherhood.I did go to a pregnancy center, because I was scared. What made things more difficult was the fact that I knew the woman who was counseling there, and she knew my Mother. I was terrified she would tell her. But, I had a negative pregnancy test, and after a stern talking to, and a reassurance that she would stick with their confidentiality rules, I left.
A week later, I had a positive home test at a friend’s house. We prepared to tell my parents the news. I was terrified. I will never forget their faces. My Dad’s jaw dropped. My Mother’s face went white. They couldn’t speak. I could see the anger brewing in my Dad, bubbling silently. We left as quickly as we could, knowing that my Dad had to leave for a weekend camping trip. Unbeknownst to all of us, God had a pretty awesome plan for all of us in this timing. My Father ended up meeting a friend of a friend who came along. And when he shared what had happened prior to leaving, this man shared about his past as an unexpected and inconvenient baby. He encouraged my Father to support me, and my then boyfriend, to do the right thing. He reminded my Dad of the blessing that was already present in the life of this child. He told my Dad that good CAN come of such a situation.
All of us knew at this point, from the very beginning, that abortion just wasn’t an option. All of the anxiety, the fear, the uncertainty, it didn’t matter, this baby had a right to life.

And thus began the journey of 2 years, where my husband and I fought for a blessing. My parents, my friends, my family, all fought for one too. People in my Parent’s church barred my Dad from leadership because of my sin.

Wedding

Sarah, Allen, and I at our wedding.

I will never forget the hurt in my best friend’s voice when I called her. But she stood beside me through it all, despite the loss of a future we’d dreamed of. All of the normal dreams of college age girls with their lives before them. She lost that to the reality of my early Motherhood. I lost that normal young adult beginning, and jumped right into tough adulthood. So did my husband.

Initially I fought for a job that could provide something more than the COBRA I managed to get initially, and at a lower cost. My husband was in college, and to finish his degree we delayed our wedding, and lived with our parents for 2 more years. I will be ever grateful for their sacrifice on our behalf, and for our daughter. Without their support, we would have been homeless. It wasn’t easy for anyone.
2 years after we told our parents we were pregnant, we were able to get married, and to secure an apartment. Then we dealt with the baggage of having began our relationship as husband and wife with all of this past trailing behind.

The point I’m making is that in no way was it ever easy. But we knew that because of the choices we made, we had to give this precious little girl a chance at life. However hard the beginning was. And yes, we STILL have baggage from all of this. This kind of sin DOES cause lifelong changes. Even for our daughter. I still don’t know how we will handle the day when she asks us, as a teenager, why we didn’t wait.

Was it hard? Yep. Do I regret one moment of our journey onward? Absolutely not. I know that we made the right choice, difficult as it was. Does it define me?weddingbandw To a point. What defines me more is the fact that we chose what we did because of Christ’s influence on our lives, however faint it was then, in our estimation. He was working in ways we did not know. But I do know this. I COULD have had an abortion. There, but for the Grace of God, go I. The only reason I didn’t? God’s divine mercy and grace. The only thing that kept me from that was him. Not me. God. By his sovereign will, it did not occur. I do know women who have had abortions, and I do know that they have told me of the forgiveness and mercy they receive despite their choices. God hasn’t rejected them entirely. After all, didn’t he use Moses after he murdered the Egyptian? Or Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, the biggest apologist of the New Testament, and missionary who spread the gospel to Europe? Paul knew that it wasn’t him, but Christ in him, who accomplished those things. God can redeem us from our past, and use us for his Glory, and he can forgive us in the process. His Word speaks so awesomely of how he forgives, and I know he has forgiven me of my past.

Ava and Mommy

Ava and Mommy, roughly 2 years ago.

So why all of this? And why the title: In Response? Because after I posted that picture, I think that a relative of mine was hurt, and angry, by what I had said. To her I say, I love you, and I am sorry if I hurt you.
This story is why I posted that photo. And do not think I think less of you for disagreeing with what I put on my facebook wall. I love you anyway.
I post what I do on there, and on here, because it is part of who I am. It is part of my journey of sanctification. God has done amazing things in my life, and how CAN I stand silent? I just can’t. I don’t wish to hurt people, but sometimes, when we speak out loud about what we feel most passionate about, it can strike a chord in someone’s heart, and yes, it can hurt.

I post what I do to encourage, not to hurt. To say, No matter what your choices past, God has a future. I resisted that future for years. I ran away from it. Told him to buzz off. And the more I ran away from it, the more discontent, angry, hurt, and awful I felt.

Saraheemaawards

Sarah and Emma with their AWANA awards

Especially when someone told me God’s Word. Boy did it rub me the wrong way! I can’t convince anyone of his power, his grace, his mercy, and for all I know, this will anger some folks even further. But it isn’t my job to change the transparency of what God is doing here in my heart, my home. It is my job to keep living, aligning every area of life with his Word. The rest is up to him. How he uses it. As a result of our past, my husband and I felt convicted by God’s Word. EVERY child is a blessing, and we will take each one given to us, and we will love them, and nurture them, and teach them his word. And we know this will, and has, offended some. Pictures on facebook notwithstanding. Our lives have, by their very nature, become a declaration of God’s work in them.

twodudesISAIAH

The two Dudes, Allen and Isaiah.

Now, that does NOT mean we are perfect, or that we speak for God in any way. We still sin, we still make wrong choices, and have not arrived in any way. Not until we go to Heaven will we have “arrived” And even then, that will be by God’s Grace. I am sorry if my sin has hurt you.

I also have come to realize that the more God works, the more others will respond to what he does. Some with wonder, with anger, with hate, with love, or with a searching heart. I can’t control their response. I can point them one way. To God. Read his word, see what he says, and discuss your heart with him, anger, searching, whatever is on it.

With Love,
Liz

Confessions of a “SuperMom”

Standard

Since Isaiah has been born, I have struggled more than I thought with adding child no. 4. In fact, I have struggled so much, that I momentarily wondered if there might not be *some* kind of out for our procreational commitment to allow God to determine the size of our family, and the number of our blessings. Not that I didn’t think every child was a blessing, but that it became increasingly harder to smile sincerely and respond kindly when folks at the grocery store smirked and said “Boy, your hands are FULL!” while I walked past with my 4 children, Isaiah (6 weeks) screeching that newborn wail, Emma (4) whining for a drink, Sarah (6) making silly faces at Ava, and Ava (2) having a full on tantrum on the grocery store floor. Somehow, human nature allows these failures to leave a more lasting mark than the 5 successful trips for every 1 failure. During these moments, my policy has always been to leave immediately, but unfortunately, this does not curtail the smirking strangers.

OurNewNormalwithIsaiah

Our new normal

One example of a recent “failure moment” happened just yesterday. While taking Sarah to her tooth extraction at the Oral surgeon, my Mother graciously agreed to take my two middle children (6am not being a friendly time of day to leave the house with 4 kids under 6 AND retain my sanity.) and I went there with Isaiah strapped to my front snugly, and waited impatiently in the waiting room for my oldest to complete her first “surgery” and wake up from anesthesia.
Upon finding out I had four children total, during my nervous blatherings., one of the receptionists shook her head at me, smiling, and said “You must be SuperMom.” Here, I had a potential ego boost that I had to put in perspective. Just a few short months ago, with three impeccably behaved children, I would have responded to this situating with feigned humility while patting myself on the back privately. Funny how your pride becomes all too apparent after you’ve fallen on your rear enough times.
This time, I felt immediately inadequate to answer her, a little ashamed, in fact. Mostly, because, this “SuperMom” didn’t even change her 6 year old out of her Pjs for the surgery, OR her newborn baby out of his (Don’t worry I DID change his diaper! Haha!)  In fact, I barely slapped on some sweatpants, a t-shirt, sneakers, and stuffed my Lilla Rose Flexi Clip and Lipgloss  in my pocket for easy elegance that could be completed in the space of one stoplight.  Isaiah had also, in fact, had a blow out in his diaper while Sarah was being medicated, and I forgot to bring a change of shirt. So I was also covered in baby poo. I felt like anything BUT a SuperMom. I even felt a momentary twinge of sadness that the only thing needed for “Super Mom” status in this case, was the number of children I have.  I wanted to feel justified in being called “Super Mom, ” and as proud of that title as I had felt when I had three children, but considering the past 6 weeks, and how very hard it has been to get back to being just a Mom and a Wife, I had nothing good to reply with. So I lamely mumbled that I didn’t feel like SuperMom, and then gratefully rushed off when the nurse called out “Is Sarah’s Mom in here? She is awake!”

Thinking on that moment later, I felt like it was a missed opportunity. I feel this burden on my shoulders, one that grows with each child God adds to our family. A burden to not only appear to be perfect, but in so doing, to prove the value in large family living. So many people in our lives, strangers, friends, some family, think we are certifiably NUTS not to take Birth Control. In fact, I recently had an exchange with my OB that went like this:
Dr: “So, what are you doing for birth control now.”
Me: “I don’t do birth control.”
Dr: “Yes, I know, you just had a baby, so what will you do now?”
Me: “I don’t believe in birth control.”
Dr. (incredulous.) “So what will you DO for birth control?!”
Me: Nothing.
Dr.: “Well what will you DO?!”
Me: “Be the next Duggars?”

The student observer standing behind me snickered at that moment, giving some much needed levity to the situation. But the point is clear. We must be CRAZY. These kinds of moments have led to putting this burden on me, and admittedly, my children every time we go into public. I feel like we must “represent” for large families. Be a shining example of how great they are. My own daughter challenged that thought just before her surgery when she said to me, “But why must WE convince everyone it is nice to be in a large family?” Ouch. Ok, I really don’t know the answer to that one. And, I had a sudden epiphany that perhaps in trying to be our “best” in public, I’m breeding a sort of nasty hypocrisy. We don’t need to be our “best” and always present only one side of large family life. We don’t need to be ashamed either when we don’t measure up to a “perfect” ideal on our own steam. With one approach, we alienate others by our artificial perfection and obvious pride in our own work. With the other, we publicly negate God’s work in our lives, by an exaggerated sense of humility, or shame.
We need to be real. We struggle. At least, I do. It is HARD work being a large family, and I don’t even think we qualify yet! I think that officially is reached at 5 or 6 kids… technically, anyway. Maybe rather than teaching my kids we need to be a walking commercial, I need to teach my children that we need to be a walking example of God’s grace. Tantrums do happen. And they happen in stores. They aren’t ok, and they aren’t good, and they are VERY annoying to other customers, but maybe the example of handling it Biblically, and gracefully, even under pressure, is far more powerful than being “perfect.”

So here is my “Super Mom” confession. I struggle too, and by God’s grace, THAT is how I am a Mom of a “large” family. I am not super, Christ works despite my failure to BE “Super Mom.”

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20, ESV)

Curriculum hunting

Standard

Image

Emma (4) and Sarah (6) at the kids Creation Seminar run by Answers in Genesis.

Homeschooling appeals to me for many reasons, but one of my favorite things about homeschooling is that it is FLEXIBLE! I love that one day we can do back to back doctor appointments, and another we can stay home and learn there. My children’s learning doesn’t suffer from this, in fact, it often benefits! They have the benefits of multiple social situations and master teachers. (Who better to teach my children about the structure of the eye than our Optometrist?) But they also have the benefit of relaxed days, and a comfortable classroom. I want my children to think that although we must be diligent in completing our tasks, we can be creative in completing them too! Who says I have to wash the dishes grimfaced and snarling? I can sing and dance instead! Who says we have to do school uncomfortable and forced? We can have fun and explore instead!
One of the first places to start in this, something I am still tweaking as we go, is the area of curriculum! Some parents thrive on routine and predictability, and if that is the case, I would recommend a boxed curriculum with a teacher’s manual and lesson plans. I am the opposite. A seat of the pants kinda gal. I cobble together curriculum until I get everything just right. I am not a fan of across the board choices. So I find what curriculum I like in one subject, and supplement it with something fun. I prefer basic and thorough curriculum that uses a mastery concept. This way I can apply it in real time using real life situations and experiences to reinforce what they are already learning in their books. I’d rather be done with book work by lunch, and then spending the rest of the day learning incognito, than spending all day with our noses in books, tears pouring out in frustration!

So if you don’t want to go the boxed curriculum way, and you’re a seat of the pants kinda Mom or Dad, how can you cobble together a curriculum? Simply stated, do your research. Find out how your child learns, take your schedule into consideration. Do you need a mobile curriculum? Do you have a LOT of outside opportunities set up for your kids that can supplement something basic and simple? Or do you need a curriculum that covers everything in one book? After you’ve determined what kind you need, go for it! Ebay has a lot of books for good prices if you can snag them. We gambled on McGuffy’s Readers and bought a WHOLE set on there for a steal of $30ish dollars! But, now we have chosen that as our reading curriculum for several years now. At least for 6 years, maybe longer! Understand that if you choose this route, you may or may not have access to teacher’s manuals, you may have to plan lessons to fill in areas you feel are scanty, or in areas that your child needs extra instruction and reinforcement. Also know that you may have to tweak things year by year until you find things you like. We may have McGuffy’s for reading, but we will be adding Easy Grams, and perhaps English From The Roots Up. As the children grow older, so will our curriculum. We will add and adjust with them. It can grow in books, or experiences, or in any way that it works! That is the beauty of customizing!
Here is how our curriculum looked this year, and may look next year, with a few adjustments:

For reading, we use McGuffy’s Readers for formal instruction and supplement it with books or phonics programs (Dr. Suess, Little Bear, Peter Rabbit, Starfall website for phonics support.)

The girls making dough ornaments.

For Math, we are currently using an online website called IXL, but I am not satisfied, so next year we may just do Horizons. After 3rd grade, we are considering The Life of Fred. For now we’ve been supplementing IXL by applying the concepts we’ve learned online with in home situations. Measuring fractions for cooking, using an abacus to add, subtract, or make calculations for home needs, like how many grapes each child should get, etc. Also, paying for and calculating the price of objects when shopping.`

We are really liking “History for Little Pilgrims” for our history this year. We supplement this with social studies situations,

Image

Tea Party!

such as watching Rand Paul Filibuster in real time, or taking part in a community service project etc. We also do a geography element to this, learning about our state, our country, and using real life experiences to educate the children about other cultures and languages. This multi-cultural experience is organic and natural.

For science we are members of the Da Vinci Science Center, we can go there any time for hands on fun, we also use the book “The World God Made” by E.J. Shewan. We also supplement by going to any seminar we can find that includes our children’s grade levels.

Image

Emma, climbing a tree.

Another way to apply science year round is our plethora of pets to care for (rabbits, cat, and fish) and our organic vegetable garden, and mini fruit orchard in our backyard.

For health and wellness, we use doctor’s well checks as unit studies. We pick body parts and study how they function and what they do. We’ve enjoyed opportunities to do so in depth with Da Vinci Center’s Bodies Revealed exhibit. One of the girls also received a really cool body toy that one can remove the internal organs and replace them. It came with a booklet that describes the functions of each organ. Of course, a lot of outside play is involved, and this year, since I was pregnant, we did a constant study on how Mommy’s body works to bring life into the world. We studied how the baby grew each month, watched videos of what was happening in the womb, and learned all about the miracle of birth. (Age appropriately of course!) This will have a more formal curriculum as they grow, but now while they are young, visiting our doctor, and talking about how our bodies work, spending time daily to discuss nutrition and healthy practices, in hygiene (brushing teeth) or in diet, or in activities, we make this a part of everyday life.

Image

Emma (4) at the Lyons Fiddle Festival listening to some prime fiddlers!

For music and art we do a variety of projects, crafts, (all by the seat of our pants!) Lots of play doh play, We have a series of CD’s on the classical masters, each has examples of their most famous music, and a narrated biography fit in throughout the CD. We also do field trips like the Lyons Fiddle Festival, and Band or Orchestra concerts. None of this is from a formal curriculum, it is just LIFE! I love that.

We do not use a formal Bible program. This is something we do on our own too. Sola Scriptura is a great way to go! We take times to memorize scripture together for AWANA, and every day we review the Proverb of the day. (We use this website, and often listen to the devotional of the day, but I don’t like how they cherry pick scripture for the devotional, so we don’t use that every day.) The goal is that within a year of doing this, each child will know the Proverbs well, or perhaps even by heart. This is an excellent character building program, as throughout the day we apply the Proverb we read! Next year we may do something else, like a daily reading of the gospels, or a jaunt through Genesis. The point is to have them reading scripture. We are strongly considering a program of reading the Bible in a year, to expose them to the whole work of God. I have yet to find a program that suits my idea of doing so chronologically, but that is not overwhelming for little ones to sit through. (All of ours are 6, 4, 2, 1 month, presently)

It is very easy to cobble together your own curriculum if you choose. It can be cheaper, and more eclectic! This way you can customize it to meet your child’s needs, and to educate children of multiple ages at once. We LOVE field trips, because each child, no matter their age, takes away an age appropriate experience. Same thing with Bible programs, or Home Economics.

The best part is when the whole family participates side by side,the older ones helping the younger, and the younger’s questions challenging the older. Homeschooling just naturally provides a multi faceted approach to learning.

This time of year is perfect for considering curriculum options. Better to prayerfully consider now, than to have to change mid year, or have to buy things last minute during the summer. Once we buy programs we like, we will probably use them for child after child, handing them down as each child reaches the next level. Buying new books for our oldest at this juncture is also handy, in case she finishes her current book, and still needs to continue on.

Image

Our Kempton train ride field trip! Looking out the window of the caboose!

Happy Curriculum hunting!

Conviction: Where do I go now?

Standard

Gosnell5545033_n
I do not usually post things of an overtly political or social nature on this blog. Generally I stick to introspective thoughts, how tos, and recipes. But something has greatly shaken up my world lately, and it is heartbreak over a very preventable tragedy. As I hold my newborn son, and go through the beauties, the struggles, and the blessings of daily life with a newborn, I am completely aghast and heartbroken over the trial of Kermit Gosnell (please do not click on the link if you would prefer to avoid graphic images and descriptions. Viewer discretion is advised. The short story is that Dr. Gosnell is accused, and on trial, for gruesome partial birth abortions, and unsanitary and dangerous abortion procedures.) I have been following it for some time, and had heard about it as the trial date was approaching, and as my due date was approaching. Since the trial began, soon after my son’s birth, I read, in horror, of the atrocities this man committed. And I thought to myself; What does this mean to me? How should I, as a Christian, respond to something like this?

I spoke to my mother, knowing that when one feels strongly affected by something, indeed, convicted to act upon it, there are a few places we should go:

  • To scripture: Read God’s Word and find out what God says about what is bothering you.
  • To wise counsel: If God’s Word is unclear, or even if it is clear, seek counsel from those you look up to as spiritual advisers, on how to apply God’s Word to your life, or to clarify, and how to further study God’s Word to get to the heart of a principle or concept.
  • To prayer. Take time to unload your thoughts, burdens, and if need be, confessions, to God. Allow him to take the burdens you carry, and trust in his Sovereign Will, and his Infallible Word.
  • To application. Take what you have learned, toss out your own impulses, and apply God’s Word to your own life.

I know what God’s Word has to say on the subject of unborn children:

formed2 Foryouformedmyinwardparts56979_n

 

Behold, Children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb a reward.

Psalm 127:3

He values them. He made them. He loves them. They are blessings. I know this.
So what did my Mother have to say when I called her? She told me something like this: “Liz, do not become so mired in this horror that you can do nothing about, that you forget your own responsibilities as a Wife, and as a Mother.”

Good advice. My first responsibility is to the children God has entrusted to me. He is clear in his Word what he wants from me on that score. (Duet. 6, Psalm 1, Eph. 6) So am I meeting the challenges God has given me in my own children? I must admit to falling short on that. It is a constant learning curve, and one that contributes to my sanctification daily, and theirs as well, I’m sure. The Holy Spirit is not done with me in this area of life, and I must admit that this case has had me feeling firmly convicted that my first place to look is here, in my own home, to see, how do I respond to the great blessings God has entrusted to me?

Secondly. Although I am vocal about the rights of the unborn, what do I really do about it? Not much, not really. I don’t talk to my elected officials on this one (and so I should, I’ve called them up enough on things like, personal liberty, gun rights, homeschooling laws etc.)  And do I offer help, compassion, support to any women I know? Not really. Do I offer a witness to others about the blessing of children? Sometimes I even complain about mine. Not that they are perfect, (they aren’t) but do I dwell on the blessings of children before others, or do I snarkily joke about the burdens? Ouch. Guilty as charged.
My husband and I feel firmly that the Bible teaches that each child is a blessing, and as a result, we’ve done something kind of scary, we’ve left our reproductive future in God’s hands. And just as I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with 4 children, and doubt this conviction, two things burst on my sight. Kermit Gosnell, and this book: Does Birth Control Cause Abortion?  I cannot simply read these things with a horrified look on my face, and feel sad. I have to act, and I cannot relent. I have been convicted, and it is time to apply God’s Word to my own life. I can’t stop the Kermit Gosnell’s of the world singlehandedly, nor can I stop the legality of the abortion in the U.S. alone. I CAN stick to what my husband and I have felt compelled to act on, and make our family a priority, and I most certainly can teach my daughters and sons God’s Word concerning marriage, family, and children.

I can also tell them my own story about the heartbreak of sin when we walk away from God’s law, and the ways I am still paying for my teenage pregnancy, even today. I know the heartbreak of those mothers in that clinic. I know the overwhelming feeling of “How will I ever ever EVER be capable of mothering this child?” and I know the emotional terror one faces when we realize our own inadequacy in the looming cliff of parenthood, when we are barely children ourselves. But I also know the redemption in Christ, the blessings of obedience, and the beauty in every single life. I know that I would not trade one moment of that terrifying and overwhelming experience of that first pregnancy for a different life. The beautiful little girl that God gave me is well worth every moment of it. I know God already has a plan for her, and is using her in many lives, including my own, to see the beauty in the work of God’s hands.
When we are faced with conviction, what can we do, but turn to God, and seek his face to remedy our own failures? We cannot stop or solve the failures of others, but we can certainly seek God to govern our own lives, and our own hearts, by his regenerating power.

Kuyper

Being a Proverbs 31 Woman- A Challenge

Standard

Lately, I’ve learned more about the Proverbs 31 woman, and how much more I have to go to match up to those standards! First, lets look at who she is:

The Woman Who Fears the Lord: Proverbs 31:10-31

An excellent wife who can find?Proverbs-31-30-1024x680

She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

She is like the ships of the merchant;

she brings her food from afar.

She rises while it is yet night

and provides food for her household

and portions for her maidens.

She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

She dresses herself with strength

and makes her arms strong.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

She opens her hand to the poor

and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,

for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

She makes bed coverings for herself;

her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates

when he sits among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them;

she delivers sashes to the merchant.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

She looks well to the ways of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the gates.

 

You know what sticks out to me the most in this whole passage? This lady is NOT lazy! This is something I deal with daily, especially when I struggle physically. I do not want to work hard. I want to wait til I feel like it. But when I feel at my worst, I don’t feel like it! Well, God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes, whether we feel like it or not, he nudges us into a season of sanctification. A little trial by fire, if you will. We’ve been in one. Just recently. One that has given me an appreciation for the Proverbs 31 woman, and a taste of success in this particular arena. Not total success, mind you. Just a taste, but enough to have me wanting more. Just when we lose our guts and determination to hold fast to a set of ideals, God reminds us of where he had us heading to begin with, and gives us encouragement and strength to keep it going.

So what is our “trial by fire”? A rental property. One might not refer to it as that on average, but it is a growing experience of the most telling kind. In becoming a Landlord you learn skills like: Working hard, discernment, wisdom, how to read people, frugality, and realistic expectations. Just as I was nearing the (difficult, and physically demanding) 9 month of pregnancy, our current tenant gives us his notice to leave. This tenant’s leaving is a joyful thing, not because he was awful, but because it signals a positive change in his life, and a chance for us to finish the updates we put on hold to allow him emergency tenancy in a difficult situation. The unfortunate trial by fire began with the timing. I was NOT willing to get up on a daily basis, and traipse, 3 children in tow, a half hour drive to paint, hammer, clean and work all day, 9 months pregnant. No Siree. That doesn’t even cover my husband’s list of things to do, all things I was incapable of doing. Things like grouting a tub, installing a new bathroom sink, installing new flooring, carpentry, that kind of stuff.

But desperation, and financial needs have an effect on you that normal life doesn’t. The work HAD to be done in ONE month. Otherwise, we would be stretched too thin, paying two mortgages with no direct rental income. We had enough saved to make it 1 month. But not enough to make it 2. And so, I painted, I cleaned, I hammered. A friend, and my parents stepped forward to lighten the load, but boy did we ALL work. My thanks go out to them for their support. Mothers all around knowing that I was struggling to begin with, and now was saddled with this urgent responsibility, stepped forward to provide meals (Thank you to everyone who did that! Bless you!) At the end of a day that I had sat on a stool painting a door frame, or polishing a banister, etc. I was too exhausted to even bother cooking, those meals kept us going.

So what does this have to do with my Proverbs 31 journey? I learned: In womanhood, there are NO excuses. Sometimes you just have to woman up, support your husband, and do what is necessary to free him up for the work he must do. He did a lot more than I have, putting in late nights, and then rolling out of bed at 5am the next morning for work. I feel like I haven’t seen him in weeks. Meanwhile, to free him up for his work I had to manage to get my list done, plus manage a tenant search. And let me tell you, THAT is a fun Proverbs 31 woman business opportunity. Instead of considering a field to buy, I was considering a tenant to rent! Despite the discomfort, the (several) labor scares, the frustration, and the silent sense of accomplishment that accompanied my hard work this month, there is also an understanding of WHY the Proverbs 31 woman is so valuable, and why her husband is known in the gates. It has been my driving force this whole month:
Proverbs 14:23
“All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
Simple, huh? Now I know there is more to the Proverbs 31 woman than THAT. But, at this point, it is the lesson I needed to learn. Even if I did have to figure out how to paint, hammer, and clean while sitting, and NOT inducing labor! 🙂 Laziness is not something that can, or should be justified by physical limitations. Ladies, as hard as pregnancy, health problems, or anything else is that pushes us down, it cannot keep us there. Hard work returns a profit, and it is hard work whether you do it sitting or not. When you are struggling through an illness, a difficult time in your life, don’t allow the excuse of “I can’t” stop you from being a Proverbs 31 woman. Be creative, because if she is anything other than hard working, it is creative. A Proverbs 31 woman creatively supports her husband.

I do hope this is an encouragement to other Moms struggling through personal difficulties. Desperation does breed some kind of ingenuity, but don’t let it stop there, learn a lesson from the hardest times, and carry it into the good times, because hard work DOES return a profit. Don’t get caught talking about being a Proverbs 31 woman, BE one.

Just a Season

Standard

imagesLately, as I’m struggling through a few things at a time, I’ve had to say to myself often: This is just a season. A short time in my life, that while it is overwhelming now, will eventually pass, and become a memory of a moment. I wish I had known this before, as it has been helpful in enduring things that are difficult, and with patience I’ve never experienced before.  But then, God hadn’t matured me that far yet.  This is just a season. We are facing so much right now, things that seem insurmountable, impossible to live through, but if being married for 5 years, parenting children for 6, and seeing God work through all of that has taught me anything, it is that a brief moment of suffering, discomfort, and difficulty does not define who I am. God does. He created me, he has a purpose, a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and this moment of sanctification will work as he intends, for good (Romans 8:28.)

Today, during my personal devotions, I found comfort in Psalm 139:
”    O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
(Psalm 139:1-11 ESV)

No matter what my husband and I face, however hard it is, and however I may wish to change these circumstances, there is a peace, and a patience that comes with the “Just a season” concept. Sanctification isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile, as day by day, we become more like Christ.  I hope this thought is encouraging to someone, anyone, because I know it is comforting to me. I wish I had known it years ago… 🙂 But then, it was what happened years ago, that has matured me to what I am today. Regrets? There are none, just thankfulness in the Almighty hand of God in my life. His ways are not my ways, and I do not know what he is doing (Ecc 3:11) but I do know it will be good.