Saturday, August 20, 2016

Philippians 4:7

When we read our Bibles today, we see Chapter and Verse listings that were not there in the original text. While those markers help us find a specific area of the text faster, like during a Sunday morning service, we need to be reading the whole book to give us the best opportunity to listen to what God wants us to hear from Him at this particular time in our lives.

Sometimes a whole chapter, or even a book, gains significant meaning as the Holy Spirit is teaching us and refining us. At other times, it is just a phrase or a single sentence that God uses  to point us in the direction He wants us to go today. Each day on this journey is different.

With both of those thoughts in mind,  I am going to  share some of the portions of Scripture that God has been using in my life recently. They are just snapshots out of my Bible notebook, but I think you may find one that encourages or challenges you too! You can look for them on Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday, at least through this Fall, and maybe further.

Read the Word of God. It changes you!

Philippians 4:7

Monday, August 15, 2016

Road Trip ~ Destination: The Great Indiana State Fair

Road Trip, Indiana State Fair, 4-H projectsAre you looking for an adventure? Time for a Road Trip? It's not too late to visit the Great Indiana State Fair! This year's fair continues through Sunday, August 21, 2016. If you've never been to a big State Fair, you are in for a treat! You'll need at least one whole day to visit the Indiana State Fair, but a two days visit is even better. There are always so many things to do at our State Fair. See the animals, ride the midway rides, view the 4-H projects, visit the DNR building, and then grab a lunch of fair food! If you're on a budget, pack a picnic lunch and just get fair food for dessert! For the BEST dessert, visit the Dairy Barn!

The 2016 Indiana State Fair is a two week long celebration of Indiana's Bicentennial year. There have already been hundreds of events going on, with more fun happening every day. The Indiana State Fair has a website, as well as a free app so you can plan your day, and double check to make sure you won't miss your favorite shows!

The beginning of the Fair is probably Emily's favorite time, as it encompasses the 4-H Fashion Revue,  4-H Animal shows, and the opening of all the exhibits. This second week of the fair might be Arlene's favorite time because it is the week of the Draft Horse shows. We've visited the Fair as a family ever since Emily was a baby. Sometimes once, but usually two or three days throughout the fair.  This year, you don't even want to know how many times we're going-LOL!

When the girls were little, their favorite place to visit was Little Hands on the Farm on the East side of the fairgrounds. If you have young children, this is a great place to go in the morning when they're fresh and ready to explore. They also always want to go through the Pioneer Village and visit the penny candy store ~ imagine that! They still go to Pioneer Village, even though they've grown too big for Little Hands on the Farm.

Road Trip, Indiana State Fair, 4-H projects

As a family, we like watching the animal shows in the Coliseum, as well as visiting the Pathway to Water Quality. If you're looking for a spot to take a rest and relax, visit the DNR building and watch the fish, find out about Indiana's natural resources, or just watch the butterflies in the outdoor garden!

Do you like seeing artwork, rockets, or photography? The 4-H exhibit halls at the fair are packed full of all sorts of great projects: woodworking, cake decorating, sewing, flowers and more! Come see the Bicentennial Bison, the giant cheese sculpture, or visit the Bicentennial Train! Whatever your choice for fun, you should be able to find it at the Great Indiana State Fair! 

Road Trip, Indiana State Fair, 4-H projects

If you're going this week ~ Admission to the 2016 Indiana State Fair is $12/person (ages five and under are free.) and parking is $5/ vehicle. Because there are so many great sponsors of the State Fair, there are several discounted admission days each year. This remaining for this year are: Tuesday 8/16 ~ Teacher Appreciation Day when admission for everyone is only $2, Thursday 8/18 ~ AAA Day when you can get free admission by showing your AAA card, Friday 8/19 ~ Fifth Third Bank Stand up to Cancer Day with $5 admission for everyone, and Sunday 8/21 ~ Mountain Dew day where you can save $2 off of admission by bringing any Pepsi Brand can. 

Take your hats and water bottles , wear comfortable shoes and sunblock, and be prepared to use your camera! 

Have great time on your Road Trip to the Great Indiana State Fair! You just might see us there, as we'll be going again before the fair ends!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Homeschool 101 ~ Encouragement . . . Part 2

Today I am going to break all the rules of the traditional 5 day long blog hop and post a sixth time. Yesterday's topic was encouragement. There was so much more that needed said than I had time for yesterday, but I didn't want you to think I had forgotten to write a post. Encouragement is the thing we need most as homeschooling parents, especially homeschooling Mamas! 

Homeschool 101, Encouragement, Mama encouragement

So today ~ Part 2:

Yesterday's post was a short shout out to those Mamas who are struggling. Whether you are struggling with children that don't want to do their math lesson, a new puppy that is making messes all over the floor, a teenager who cops an attitude every day, or just your own state of perpetual weariness, know this ~ you are not alone! If you feel like you're barely hanging on to the end of your rope, let go. I know this seems counter productive on the surface, but it is the only way to let go of your own plans and start listening to what God wants for your life.

We often schedule out our days, but fail to ask God about His plans. His plans are what give us purpose and meaning. We often get so wrapped up in how we think our day should go that we balk if something strays off course.

Here is a little synopsis that I hope explains my point.

Yesterday was Friday. It was a day with only one two-hour time slot blocked out in our family calendar that the girls and I should need to attend to. I was planning to have the whole afternoon to write and the girls were going to have several hours to clean the house and do laundry. 

Hah! Like that was going to happen. First a text from Kurt ~ a gentle reminder that the weather  forecast was changing -again- and the girls and I needed to make up our minds if we wanted to go to the outdoor concert or not . . . because it would likely get rained out on Saturday. Then, a small snafu in the morning appointment (dyeing yarn) that required more time to accomplish the task - a task that could not wait until Saturday because the yarn needed to be dry for Saturday's steps in the process. Thus our "free" afternoon turned into a race against the clock to get to the bank, get home, pack for the concert, get the laundry switched out and the dishes done...oh yeah, and write an inspiring post... all in three hours. Did I mention there is construction work on the highway (both ways) and we would only be home for 45 minutes? 

See where I'm going here?

If we had panicked, ok, if I had panicked, because God changed our course for the day, everything would have come unglued and the evening would not have been spent enjoying an outdoor concert. I used to come unglued a lot. Just ask any member of my family. I'm trying to remain focused on what God is teaching me and staying put-together through His power and grace. Two passages of Scripture kept coming to mind yesterday... even before the craziness started!

The first is from Proverbs 19:20-21

Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom for the future.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

The second is from Isaiah 48:17-18

This is what the LORD says-
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your well-being like the waves of the sea."

God was directing us in the way we should go. So we went!

Today the next step in the yarn process went well. Today the girls are doing laundry and sweeping the house ~ hooray! Today this Mama is rejoicing that she is finally learning to follow God's plans instead of her own schedule. 

Some days are easy, some days are really stinking hard. But no matter what your day is like, know this: GOD IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS FAITHFUL!  This homeschooling journey has brought me so many trials, but it has also brought more joy than I though possible! I have been refined. You will be refined if you choose to accept God's invitation to educate your children at home. 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 states:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Educating your children is important, but talking with them about our Great God is paramount. Your conversations about God need to be your first priority, whether they happen over breakfast, or at bedtime, these are the things your children will remember after they graduate.

Why is it that teenagers always want to have deep discussions  after bedtime? I don't know. What I do know is that it is important to take those opportunities to listen, to talk, and to pray with them. You can sleep tomorrow, or next week, but that conversation needs to happen tonight.

You are going to need to be encouraged over and over again on this journey. Here are some great places to find encouragement: 

Your Bible - when you are weary and burdened, read about Jesus and His grace (Matthew 11 &12.) When you are discouraged, read about Joshua and how God fought for the Israelites (Joshua 1-6.) When you are tired, read about not giving up (Galatians 6, 2 Thessalonians 3, Hebrews 12.) When you are longing for a rekindling of joy, read about The early church (Acts 2-4,) how they endured, how they worshipped, and how they loved one another.

Your friends - when you need to feel the loving arms of Jesus through an actual person, spend time with your Christian friends. Friends that pray for you, and with you are a treasure beyond price. Friends that can manage a few extra kids thrown into the mix to give you even an hour or two of quiet once in a while are a great gift. If you are fortunate enough to have a friend who will occasionally invite you over for dinner, be sure to thank them! They can be a lifesaver in the vast ocean of life!

Online homeschooling groups - there are dozens, if not hundreds, of really encouraging online groups as well as blogs to read that can encourage you along your journey. I would suggest you look around, and ask your friends for suggestions. If you subscribe to too many feeds, you'll never actually get around to homeschooling your own children, so be selective. I have about 5 or 6 that I enjoy getting emails from each week, and a few more that I visit from time to time to look up a specific topic. I have greatly benefitted from belonging to our statewide and local homeschool support groups. They keep us up to date on local events as well as what is happening on a state-wide level that can affect us as homeschoolers.

Your spouse. Ok Mamas, let's get real here for a minute. If you're not being encouraged by your spouse, it is way past time to take stock of what is going on in your marriage. Your husband is probably trying to encourage you in this journey, but maybe you're not listening very well. Or maybe, you've become so engrossed in your own little world that you've forgotten that He is supposed to come before the children. Go to God for direction, then go to your spouse and have a talk about how you two can get back to being each others' biggest cheerleaders. Sometimes you just need his big strong arms to give you a hug. Tell him so. Honest communication is the key here ~ speaking the truth in love. Sometimes, he might tell you that you need to cut back on something. Listen to him. He can tell before anyone else when you're stressing yourself out. He is also usually the financier of your homeschool, so ask for his help in making any big decisions. If you call him your "Principal" then trust him to make those decisions.

Your journal. Remember that notebook you scribble things in? Go back and read it. You'll probably find answered prayers, small victories, and a reminder of your WHY for homeschooling. It's treasure just waiting for you.

5 Days of Homeschool 101

I hope you haven't minded a sixth day in the Homeschool 101 Blog Hop. I think I'm of a mind to go read some of my friends' posts from yesterday for myself! We all need some encouragement!

Know that you are loved!

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Homeschool 101 - Encouragement

For the Mama who is struggling:

God has this! 
He is in control! 
He will carry you through this adventure called homeschooling.

I have more to say tomorrow, but for today, know this: YOU ARE LOVED!

Get more encouragement here in today's other posts

5 Days of Homeschool 101
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Homeschool 101 ~ Traditions

Today's topic for the Homeschool 101 Blog Hop is Traditions.

Homeschool 101, Traditions, homeschooling

For most families, that means they might talk about first day of school pictures, or special breakfasts they have every year. For us, it'll be about what we do when everyone else starts back to school and we wait until September. 

As I've been thinking about this topic all week, I can only think of three school year related traditions we have kept over our 14 years of educating the girls at home. 1- visit the State Fair during August, 2- start our school year the Tuesday after Labor Day, and 3- finish our school year in Mid-May with a Field Trip!

If you were looking for great inspiration for how to create some family traditions of your own, you might want to click over and read the other posts for today. I'm simply going to share how these three traditions got started in our home and why we continue them today.

Visit the Great Indiana State Fair

Our State Fair is in August each year, and ever since Emily was a baby, we have made at least one trip to the fair as a family each year. Some years we go a lot, others just once or twice. Many times Kurt has only been able to go with us for one day, and the girls and I go back on another day to see more of the fair. Here is a picture from 2013. We were in the cattle barn, and the photo-op area for the participants wasn't being we borrowed it.

Homeschool 101, Traditions, Indiana State Fair

Start the School Year the Tuesday after Labor Day

This will be our 14th year of educating the girls at home. We have started the Tuesday after Labor Day all but two of those years. One time we started a week early because I knew we were going on vacation the week of Labor Day and wanted the girls to at least get started on their math books before we left. The other year we tried starting around the 20th of August (like the public schools used to) but it felt like our summer was cut short, so we went back to the Tuesday after Labor Day the following year and have stuck with it.

Life with your children is short. I know that can be hard to believe, especially when you're trying to help them learn to read, going through potty-training, or your oldest struggles with long division. Trust me on this, it goes by in a blink. You will teach your children a lot over 12 or 13 years, but they will teach you even more! The most important thing you can teach them is about the saving grace offered to them by Jesus Christ. Bookwork can only help them for this life, Christ changes their eternity. Don't get so focused on your curriculum and checking off the needed boxes that you forget to tie heart strings with them. Summer is a great opportunity to learn and have fun together, without needing to record it all in a planner. Go have fun! Schoolwork can wait, Summer will not!

Finish the School Year in Mid-May with a Field Trip

We love field trips! Experiential learning is our favorite way to learn as a family. It is nice to have an end date for your children to look forward to each Spring. If you can end your school year with a field trip, everyone can make cool memories to share over and over again. It uplifts both you and the children when you talk with friends and family about "that cool place we went" instead of summing up your year like this: "we FINALLY got to the end of our math books!" See what I mean? Much cooler to share about how you caught a salamander newt in the swamp, or met Mario Andretti at the racetrack!

Whatever you decide you want to do for your family traditions, keep these two things in mind:1- If everyone loves them, continue them, if not, change them up. 2- choose loose traditions that don't cost much money so you can always look forward to them, without the dread of not being able to afford to do them again next year.

Come back by tomorrow for a little encouragement about finding the strength and patience to homeschool your children! Know you are loved!

5 Days of Homeschool 101
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