Running out of the Wilderness

I’ve been in the wilderness for the past few months. Not literally, but in my heart and mind.  I was spiritually hungry, thirsty and tired.  I felt physically weak.  At first, it was not such a great place to be, but in the end, it has been a blessing.

It started right after I got home from the 2:1 Conference.   I was high with excitement and encouraged.  I was ready to take on the social media and blogging world.  Then I settled into my normal life and started questioning myself.  I felt completely inadequate as a wife, mother, homeschooler, blogger, friend and Christian.  Had I been wrong about feeling God’s calling to blog? Essentially, I gave up.  Of course, this was not the objective of the conference!  It was Satan attacking me with lies in every area of my life.  He was trying to drive me into my weakness, which is the depression that I’ve struggled with since I was a teen.  I’m not sure why it happened at this time, but I do believe I needed to go to this barren wilderness to find my purpose.  I was driven to desire God more and that is a good thing!!!

A few weeks ago, my pastor, Brady Boyd, hit the nail on the head during his message on the Sermon on the Mount.  He had a great quote, “God loves you to much to give you a platform before He privately confirms our identity.”  That was it!  I was meant to go to 2:1.  God wanted me there, but He was equipping me.  He never meant for me to come home and be a superstar blogger the Monday after the conference.  He put very specific people in my life that weekend to nurture my journey, not to discourage it.  I have spent much time in prayer, meditation on His Word and counsel from other godly women.  I was able to really reflect on my purpose during a Christian family camp earlier this summer and even through the children I have been working with at church.  It’s been a difficult, but amazing time of growth for me.

I am running out of this barren wilderness into the lush, vibrant life that I know He has for me. I feel that God has prepared me to send me out to be a voice and an influence.  I hope that you will join me on this journey and be blessed.

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2:1 Conference

I’ve been a little slow in writing my follow up post.  I have had so much to think about and a lot going on in my personal life the past few weeks.

Titus 2:1 Conference

I attended  2:1  for encouragement and that is exactly what I got.  It was a necessary experience for me.  I did leave with a few more questions than answers, but that was a good thing.  The questions have really helped me to reflect on and pray about who I want to be as a homeschool mom and a blogger.

As a homeschooler, I want to completely trust the Lord to help me with His kids that He has given me for a short time.

As a blogger, I want to encourage and reach out.  I want my blogging to be a ministry to other women who are walking where I have walked or am currently walking in both my homeschooling and personal faith journey.

Highlight quotes from the conference:

“We are called to actually die, not faint for His glory.”  Rachel Carman

“Don’t leave home without God’s Word.  Show your kids what you value.” Rachel Carman

“We’re not playing Monopoly, we all have our own game.”  Stef Layton

“God, You are enough!  Always.”  Stef Layton

“No “to do” list will fix everything.”  Rebecca Keliher

“Relationships with God and people is the only importance.”  Rebecca Keliher

“Who am I trying to reach?  My ideal reader is ME.”  Amy Roberts

“God is perfect and can make up for your imperfections.”  Deb Chitwood

“Be a blogger of your word.”  Toni Anderson

“God calls us, then He equips us.”  Zan Tyler

There were so many more nuggets of wisdom.  I am praying that I will be able to attend next year in Chicago!!!  I hope you are able to go too!  You will laugh, you will cry, you will leave encouraged.  You will also leave with new friends like GiGi, Alyce, Wendy, Jenny, Jeanette, Jimmie, Connie, Rebecca, Jamie and Stacey.

You will also make connections with wonderful sponsors like HEDUA, Teach Them Diligently, Samaritan’s Purse, Bright Ideas Press, Apologia, Grapevine Studies, Shatterpoint Entertainment,  Your Story Hour, Heidi St. JohnHSLDA, Lexercise, Classical Conversations and Compass Classroom  

 Watch the video below to see what you’ll be blessed with if you attend.

Posted in 2:1 conference, blog sponsorship, blogging, homeschool encouragement, homeschooling | Leave a comment

F is for Fidgets

I have kids that can’t sit still during read aloud time.   They insist on doing somersaults across the room, jumping on the couch, touching each other and being distracted in general.  I know that some kids are just wired this way and can still absorb information.  I’m okay with that.  I am the one with a problem focusing when they are doing all these things while I try to read.  My solution has become fidgets.  My kids are now better able to sit in one location and still be “busy” while I read.  I check for listening and comprehension often through narration and questions so I know that they aren’t distracted.

Here are a few of the items that we keep in our fidget basket.

Relaxing items–scalp massager, body brush(leftover from brush therapy), bendy wire and who can resist Troll hair!

Zoomorph connecting animals

Zome Tools

Squishy Toys–we love the mice in the cheese!

Keeping hands busy with Unifix cubes, tangle toy, marbles, magic worm, hacky sack, wire puzzle

Etch a Sketch, Mars Mud and Thinking Putty

Posted in add, adhd, autism, blog through the alphabet, fidgets, homeschool, tactile | Leave a comment

C is for Compassion International

I began sponsoring a child with Compassion when I was in high school.  His name was Jose and he was from the Dominican Republic.  I enjoyed getting letters from him and I kept his picture on my dresser.  Now, my family sponsors two children from Guatemala.  We chose Guatemala because that is Buddy’s birth country.  We sponsor a girl named Maria and a boy named Nelson.  We have really cherished our letters from both children and we pray for them often.  They are an extension of our family and we are glad that we can bless them and pray that our sponsorship is able to pull them from poverty and bring them into a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

We recently had an opportunity to tour the Compassion headquarters here in Colorado Springs.  There are 900 people that work there!  They work with 26 countries around the world, making life better for families in poverty and more importantly, introducing them to Christ.  It was a great learning experience.  Our tour guides were super informative and kind.  We walked through areas that depicted a typical home in Africa, the children hauled their water containers and ended up at the trash dump.  We learned that many families(usually the children) dig through the dump to obtain items to make everyday household items we take for granted–pillows, blankets, window coverings, toys, dishes, etc.  Next we moved back to the home with the water containers to show how a family that has a sponsor, can now have a water filter so that they can have fresh water.  Next we entered a model of a typical Child Development Center.  The children are able to go to this safe place to learn God’s word, sing, play with friends, learn personal care, create and be educated.  Pickles and Buddy were able to make some cards for kids that do not yet have sponsors so that they too can receive something at Christmas.  Letters are so important to these kids!

                                       Toys made of trash

Another opportunity we had was to learn about about a young man named Ben.  He gave a short talk about being a sponsored child at our church’s presentation of The Thorn.  Ben lived in a village in Kenya, that was literally a trash dump.  The people there have little hope and think of themselves as no more than trash.  He was able to go to school and become a Christian due being sponsored by someone in Austin, TX when he was a boy.  He is now living in Colorado and going to college!  What a great testimony to the work of Compassion.  As Ben said, he was once a “packet”.  These kids are real and our sponsorship makes a real impact on the rest of their lives!  You can see Ben’s story here.

Please consider becoming a sponsor to make the difference in a child’s life and to further the kingdom of God. 

Do you run?  Consider joining Team Compassion

USA Today article–how Compassion’s mission is working

Did you know that Compassion has a homeschool curriculum on their website?  Awesome stuff!  Go check it out! 
Homeschool curriculum

If you are currently a sponsor, and don’t know what to do for your child check out these letter writing ideas:
Letter Writing FAQS
Pinterest Board

For your kids
Play Quest for Compassion online game to learn about poverty

Explorer magazine –read online
Pickle’s friend Elise is featured as the Compassionate kid this month! Please check out her partnership with Compassion here–Kids Like John  Pickles has been able to participate in fundraising for this amazing cause!

Follow Compassion on Facebook and Twitter!  Read their blog

Posted in child sponsorship, Compassion International, homeschool, poverty | Leave a comment

B is for Blocks

I think that blocks are a valuable investment for all families. Simple, safe blocks can be purchased for babies and more complicated can be purchased for the child in all of us! Pickles and Buddy love to play with blocks.  They are 9 and 10 years old and they still love to build.  We make towers, bridges, walls, buildings, etc.  They can exercise their engineering, math and science skills with the variety of blocks that we provide for them.  Beware, if your children are like mine, there may be block creations up in your living areas for days!

What are some of the brain benefits of playing with blocks?

Higher thinking math skills
Spatial skills
Problem solving
Cooperative play

What are some possible areas of benefit for a child with autism?

Social skills
Tactile stimulation
Visual stimulation
Cooperative play
Check out this Lego Therapy site

A few of our favorite blocks

good old fashioned wooden blocks, my mother in law found us a large set on Craigslist
Wooden Blocks

Legos  I prefer an assortment of Legos for more imaginative building, but my kids also like the modular sets like Lego City and Lego Friends

Bristle blocks–great tactile blocks

Blik blok–higher thinking skills, problem solving, natural material

Magna tiles not quite blocks, but they are a building toy and kids can experiment with magnetism

Water blocks–great for littler ones, but my kids still like to stick them in their creations

Cardboard blocks  We love this set.  They have become many things–restaurant, car, plane, stuffed animal house, cabin, Great Wall of China, etc.

Haba blocks sets–We have had the Little Amsterdam set for many years, the box is falling apart, but the blocks are holding up!

Wedgits  fun building toy, thinking skills, spatial skills

Kapla plank blocks  These blocks are wonderful!  We first played with them in a children’s science museum and I had to add them to our collection.  The possibilities are really endless with these blocks.  Practice with gravity and balance. Natural pine material.

Posted in blocks, imaginative play, tactile learning | Leave a comment

A is for Acting

A is for Acting

Acting has become a huge part of our lives.  My once very shy, Pickles, has become a budding actress.     She became interested through taking a co-op class a few years ago.  She was still bashful back then.  Last summer, she and Buddy did an acting camp at a local children’s acting academy.  She caught the bug!  She has since enjoyed being a part of two semester long classes with plays performed at the end.  She also had a main part and solo in The Secret of Snowflake County, our church’s Christmas musical.  This has also led to her taking tap dancing lessons and joining our church youth worship team and choir.  My laptop crashed, so I lost all pics, but found this tiny bow on Major Dad’s computer.

We have obviously seen the benefits of acting when it comes to shyness.  It may not happen for every child, but Pickles has really blossomed.  Buddy was even able to perform the play for camp last summer.  He has high social anxiety and usually shuts down when it comes to speaking to anyone other than family.  I was so proud to see him up there on stage, delivering all of his lines on cue.  There are many other benefits to acting.  It can increase confidence, self esteem, reading skills, focus and attention.  It provides children with opportunity for socializing and teamwork.  Acting is valuable for teaching kids to problem solve and communicate effectively.

Perhaps you aren’t interested in signing up for acting classes or doing a community play.  You can still enjoy acting in your own home!  My kids sometimes spend hours making up plays for us to watch.  They are exercising their imaginations and using up some of their extra energy.  Pickles and Buddy also enjoy putting on puppet shows.  If they are really into pretend play on a school day, I don’t feel guilty about letting them go.  My couch cushions rarely stay in place!  I prefer letting them make up their own plays, using their imaginations or something we have studied.  It really helps get their creative writing juices flowing.  They are also big into improvisation.  You can also purchase/borrow books with plays written for you.  Reader’s Theater books are great for squeezing in some school subjects like science or history!  The possibilities are endless.

We have also been able to enjoy Broadway shows and local productions of plays like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Thorn.  I believe that quality theater productions and movies are enriching to children’s(and adults’) lives.  

Christian Crafters  Christian plays, skits and puppetry
Puppet Resources  Christian puppet plays
Evan Moor Reader’s Theater
Reading Lady free Reader’s Theater scripts
On Stage

Posted in acting, blog through the alphabet, homeschool | Leave a comment

Enjoying the Warmer Weather

We had a few warmer days here in Colorado last week.  We had a picnic in the backyard and did a little reading aloud of The Sign of the Beaver.  Even the hamsters joined in!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment