Thursday, July 24, 2014

Women's Literacy Programs in Asia

Our entire family loves to read and I know for certain we have taken for granted the access we have to an education here in our country. This is often not the case for women in Asia, since more than 30% of them do not know how to read. This means they cannot read warning labels or basic contracts and this puts their families at risk.

Gospel for Asia is trying to help women in Asia through their women's literacy programs. They teach women how to read and write using Bible materials. When the women finish the program, they not only know how to read and write, but they have also learned about Christ.

Please consider giving today to help a woman in Asia learn how to read. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Basketball Camp

Last week my girls participated in a 5-day basketball camp and had a great time.

My phone doesn't take the best action shots, but this was such a fun-filled week for my girls, I had to share a little bit about it on the blog. The camp was reasonably priced and they received a t-shirt, water bottle, and basketball. I think our fee more than paid for all the free things plus all the instruction and fun they received. This camp was an Upwards basketball camp. Upwards is a wonderful, safe, and recreational way for children to learn or continue to learn basketball skills. 

Have your children enjoyed any sports camps this year? 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer Bucket List

At the beginning of summer, I found this FREE printable and had the children take turns writing things down. Here's some proof that we didn't just make a list of things to do, but we are actually taking action and getting some fun accomplished this summer!

We enjoyed going on a picnic and fishing and visiting a local ice cream shop. We are now trying to decide on a nearby zoo to visit before our summer ends. Last summer back in PA, we were busy trying to sell our home, packing boxes, and saying "good-bye" to all our friends. There was  not much room for fun activities like this because there was so much work to be done. This summer has been full of fun trips and activities and it's not even over yet!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Millions Need Clean Water

Clean water is something I take for granted. I take a few steps to one of three sinks in my home, turn the faucet on and clean water comes out. Unfortunately, this is not true for millions in Asia. Women walk several miles from their homes to find the nearest water source, which is often stagnant ponds or dirty rivers. As a result, millions of people in Asia are plagued by waterborne illnesses.

I would like to tell you about my friend Annette. She was burdened by the plight of the millions in Asia living without clean water and she wanted to do something about it. For her 42nd birthday, she set a goal to raise $1,000 to help ONE village in Asia receive a Jesus Well. The Lord took Annette home before she could see her goal reached, but since her passing, people have given enough for 20 Jesus Wells in her memory.  I miss my encouraging friend and tears sting my eyes as I type this, but I KNOW she is with Jesus and she radiantly glorified Him in the way she loved and served. 

The Lord gives us ONE life to live for Him and His glory. When I think about the MILLIONS in Asia without clean water, it is so easy to think I cannot make a difference, but the example of my friend, Annette reminds me just how mighty my God is and how He can use ONE life if we are willing to surrender. 

Gospel for Asia is praying and believing in the Lord to provide the resources to build 5,000 Jesus Wells in 2014. Would you please consider giving? 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Visiting Missouri Family

My family is only about 8 hours away from our new home in IL and I have seen them twice since moving from PA to IL. Our drive time was cut in half after moving and we've enjoyed the more frequent visits. Tyler is holding my great nephew in this picture. We love him so much and miss him terribly. We are thankful his mama posts a lot of pics on Facebook for us to see between our visits.

Here's a picture I took of all the cousins. I love them all so much and am thankful my kids have great cousins they truly enjoy hanging out with.

After leaving southwest Missouri, the kids and I traveled to Columbia to visit more cousins. On Monday night, I enjoyed a night out with my sister-in-law while her husband watched all five of our kids. I completed my degree two years ago, but chose not to drive from PA to MO for the graduation ceremony, so we thought it would be fun to go take a picture by the columns. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lowden State Park

We enjoyed visiting a local state park this week and it was beautiful. We hiked to take a look at this local landmark dedicated to all Native Americans, but over time has become known as Blackhawk. 

After looking at the gigantic statue, we found these stairs (188 total) that led down to the Rock River, so we decided to go down the stairs to explore. We all survived the journey back up and my leg muscles today still recall these lovely steps. 

Some PA friends of ours were nearby for a family reunion and we met up and enjoyed the day together. They taught us a game called Bocce ball and we all decided this is a game we want to own. Our new home state has a lot of state parks and now we are excited and looking forward to visiting many more. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bringing Hope to a Child in India

A couple years ago, a Gospel for Asia speaker visited our church and our family learned more about their Bridge of Hope program. Through this program, children learn about Jesus, are given a quality education, medical care, and a daily meal. Without the Bridge of Hope Center, these children would not receive these basic things our family takes for granted. 

At the end of our worship service that day, our family went forward to choose a child to sponsor. We sponsor a 13-year-old young man named Brajmohan. We enjoy writing back and forth with him, and it is always exciting to find a letter in the mailbox from him. We pray for Brajmohan to live his life for Christ, to be a light in his community, for his health and safety, and for him to stay in the program so he can receive a good education. We are always impressed with his writing and are confident Gospel for Asia is providing a great spiritual and academic education. 

After reading "No Longer a Slumdog" and hearing the Gospel for Asia speaker, we believed without a doubt this was something our family needed and wanted to do. 

My husband is a pastor. I am a homemaker and homeschooling mother. We live on one income. I might complain from time to time about how little we have compared to others, but I realized after traveling overseas on international mission trips, after learning more about the plight of the Dalit people in India, that I am indeed very, very rich. 

To sponsor a Bridge of Hope Child costs $35/month and our family is confident that $35/month is going to make an ETERNAL difference in the life of a child in India. I'd rather spend $35 to make an eternal impact on someone's life than take my family out to eat. 

Would you please consider praying for the Kingdom Work Gospel for Asia is doing? Take a few minutes to visit the links provided in this post to learn more, and prayerfully consider sponsoring a child today. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Our Year in Review

I struggled this school year and I think it was largely due to the fact that we moved from PA to IL on July 29th, 2013. In the midst of educating my children, I was also dealing with setting up and making our new house a home, learning a new area, building relationships, diving into a new place of ministry, and handling the fact that my kids are not little anymore. When I went to college, I chose early childhood education as my major because I like teaching younger children and I found myself teaching 3rd, 5th, and 6th grades this year. Putting this year in review post together has helped me step back and see the large picture. We did have a full and wonderful year of learning and enjoyed some wonderful enrichment experiences as well.

Field Trips:
Fine Arts:
  • Piano and drum lessons
  • Signs Choir
Co-op Classes:
  • Spanish
  • Sewing
  • LEGO Club
  • Handy Skills
  • P.E. 
  • Art
History Timeline Covered:
Topics such as the railroad adopting standard time, the World's Fair in Chicago, Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, the Panama Canal, The Wright Brothers, WWI, The Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt,  WWII, The Cold War, and the Korean War were covered this year.

Books We Read (silently or aloud to coincide with our history lessons): 
  • The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson
  • The Wright Brothers by Quentin Reynolds
  • Hero Over Here by Kathleen V. Kudlinski
  • Little Britches by Ralph Moody
  • All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  • In the Year of the Bear and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
  • A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt by C. Coco De Young
  • Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth
  • Snow Treasure by Andre LaBlanc
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

All three children also keep a reading log of all the books they choose to read on their own time and they are expanding their reading in various areas. Library day is still a highlight of our homeschool days.

Science Lessons Covered:
  • Plant Science
  • DNA and Punnet squares
  • Anatomy
  • Tyler set up an entire fish tank on his own and wrote an extensive paper on how to properly set up and care for a fresh water aquarium. 
Language Arts:
  • Writing across most subject areas, weekly spelling tests, and Easy Grammar Lessons
  • Bruchko by Bruce Olson
  • The children loved this book and it made an impact on their lives. My girls are also participating in a missions program held at our church. They are not just learning about missions, but also praying for missionaries, and helping to support missionaries. 
  • Our family has helped with services at a nearby retirement village twice this year.
  • My girls made rainbow loom bracelets for a friend to take with her to Cambodia. 
  • This weekend our family will be joining our church to serve dinner at a local rescue mission. 
I used Teaching Textbooks for the older two children and my youngest used materials from Christian Light Publications.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Finishing the School Year Strong!

This weekend, my 3rd grade daughter overheard a conversation I was having with my husband about some concerns I am having with some of her school work. I was frustrated and feeling like a failure as a mother and a teacher. Later that evening she came to me and told me I had hurt her feelings because I do not think she's doing a good job with her school work. I apologized and asked her to forgive me for hurting her feelings, but I also talked to her openly about some of my concerns.

This little girl of mine is doing well in some areas, but I am convinced if she would slow down, focus, and pay attention she could be doing much better.

Instead of focusing on what my child cannot do, I'm choosing to focus on what she can do. I'm going to praise and encourage her, build her up, not tear her down. We're going to work together and keep practicing on the things that are challenging her. We are going to work on habits like focus and attentiveness to help her do her very best.

I want her to hear positive and encouraging words from my mouth. I want her to know I love her unconditionally and I believe she is capable of tackling her school work and making progress in all subject areas.

I believe if I do these things, with God's help, I will see my daughter improve. There's some hard work ahead of us as we wrap up this school year, and I am making plans for some summertime learning as well. I want my daughter to understand it is good to be challenged and then to get motivated to buckle down, focus, work hard, and finish strong.

Are you struggling at the end of this school year? What are some things you need to do to help your child(ren) finish strong?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lauren's Fashion Birthday Party

 My baby turned 9 on Sunday, March 30th. We had a fashion-themed birthday party for her on Saturday, the 29th. We sent out simple invitations I created over at PicMonkey using their "design" feature. We found adorable plates, cups and napkins at the Dollar Tree, and I was completely surprised at the wide selection my local store had.

We set up a photo booth and used all the same props we used at our homeschool co-op's valentine party. Here's a sweet pic of the birthday girl and her dad.

We took pictures of the girls as a group and then gave them an opportunity to pair up any way they chose or individually. While I got the girls started on their craft, my sister-in-law used my laptop to send the pictures to be developed at a nearby CVS so they could be picked up before the end of the party. So when each girl went home they took their decoupaged frame and 2-3 photos home with them as a party favor. We purchased wooden frames at Michaels for $1 each and a pack of animal print scrap booking paper and let the girls use mod podge to decoupage their frames with foam paint brushes.

Once the frames were done, I divided the girls up into two teams and chose a model for each team. Each team was given tape, tissue and toilet paper and asked to design and create a dress and put it on their model. Once the girls were done, their model walked the "runway" and was judged for best design. Both teams were incredibly creative and all the girls seemed to really enjoy this activity.

The two models wearing their beautiful fashions. 

Lauren asked for plain glazed donuts instead of birthday cake again this year. So, we stacked them up on a pretty cake plate, stuck in some candles and she was pretty stinkin' happy. The refreshments were very simple. We had a bowl of M&M candies, donuts, pretzels and punch.

Since our parsonage is quite small, we were very blessed to be able to reserve and use an area of our church called "Children's World" for the party. It worked perfectly for all we wanted to do.

2014 is the year of friend birthday parties (we do them every other year) and I would say we got off to a fun start with Lauren's party. Tyler's birthday is in August and Kaitlyn's birthday is in November. So I have some time to recoup and plan the parties they want to have.

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Tuesday Morning with Jesus

We spent the weekend out of town for a niece's birthday party, came home Saturday night to no water because the water pipes leading to our home froze. I spent Sunday at home instead of going to church so I could wait on a call from the water district to come fix the situation. Monday was a holiday, so my husband got to stay home and we decided to not do any school so we could have a family day and catch up on laundry and things around the house. So, when Tuesday morning came I felt behind. Very, very behind.

Tuesday is our co-op day and I have certain goals I want to reach before we head over to church around 10:45 a.m. This Tuesday morning was quite simply chaotic and stressful. I had to discipline a child, I couldn't find a school book, I needed to finish packing lunches for the day, and my sink was full of dirty dishes. The missing school book was what caused me to fall apart. I began speaking out loud for both of my girls to hear things like...

"If I could get the house organized better. I wouldn't lose school books. I am a terrible homemaker."

"If I would have gotten up earlier this morning I'd have these dishes done and the lunches packed. I am a terrible homemaker."

"If I had more self-control and patience, I wouldn't get angry so quickly at my children. I am a terrible mother."

I probably spewed off 2-3 more negative labels about myself in the course of this meltdown, but I stopped when I saw Lauren and the tears streaming down her face. I sat down in a chair, reached out my arms, and she came and sat on my lap. My negative self- talk, my self-focused pity party had hurt my daughter's heart. She said, "Mommy, you are a good mommy and you take good care of us. I don't like it when you talk like that." My heart broke for so many reasons at that moment. Instead of crying out to God to calm me and strengthen me, I chose to explode in a self-focused tirade and it did not help me and it hurt my daughter's heart in the process.

We went to co-op and the 2nd period I have free. I sat in a classroom all alone and ate my lunch, pulled out my Kindle to read the 3rd chapter of Lysa TerKeursts' book, "Unglued." Some ladies at my church are reading this book right now and meeting to discuss a few chapters at a time. The 3rd chapter of the book literally brought me to tears because it basically described my morning and how us women tend to speak to ourselves in a way we would never dare to speak to someone else. We beat ourselves up and let our messes define us and how that enslaves us and makes us "prisoners" as the chapter is appropriately titled.

My mind is constantly in a battle. Focused on the Lord one moment and focused on myself the next. Letting God reign one moment and the in the next moment self rears its ugly head again.

Do I need to work on some organization projects in my home? Absolutely! But does that make me a failure in life? Nope.

Do I need to sometimes get up earlier in the morning? Yes. But that does not make me a failure on those days.

Do I need more self-control and patience? Oh yes. But thank the Lord His mercies are new everyday and He is faithful to prune me so I can grow the fruit of patience and self-control in my life. Not in my own power, but in His power (Lamentations 3:22-23 and Galatians 5:22-23).

So, I am going to break free from these labels I put on myself and exchange them for the labels Christ has given me. I am His child, He has a plan for me, He is the author and finisher of my faith, and He has given me everything I need to live a godly life for His glory.  Grace, grace, grace, how thankful I am for grace.

I am thankful for my Tuesday morning with Jesus -- mess and all. I am thankful He met me in my mess, cleaned me up, put me back on my feet so I can walk away from my sin and forward with him. I'm thankful for TerKeursts' reminder in the first chapter of her book that "There is a beautiful reality called imperfect progress ... progress wrapped in grace ... imperfect progress."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

AWANA Silver and Golds

Kaitlyn has finished her AWANA book and has begun working on her silver and golds (reviews and fun interactive activities). One of the things she chose to do for a gold section, was to make a recipe from Bible times. She chose to make unleavened bread and then she took it to her class to share with them. We also looked at information about unleavened bread in the Bible. 

Do your children participate in AWANA or any sort of Bible memory verse program or challenge?