"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faithin me." Acts 26:18

Sunday, August 30, 2015


This sleeping child of mine...

Fights her naps princess-style, sweetly asking for "just six more minutes"...

But still needs this precious time in the middle of her busy, learning-filled days...

To drift off while the fan blows in her room to keep her "from getting lonely"...

These moments are passing all too quickly...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Hard Part of School

I love teaching my kids.  A few days ago, I got into a conversation with a Ugandan man about teaching my kids.  He kept wanting to know if I thought my kids would eventually "catch up" to their peers when I moved back to America and put them back into government school.  *smile*  In a country where home schooling is virtually unheard of, I wasn't surprised (or offended) by his questions at all.  In the back of my head though, I kept thinking to myself...

The academics are the easy part...

It's my constant attempts to soften their hearts and bring their hearts into submission to the Lord that's hard!

You see, I really believe that no effective academic learning can happen, until my kids' hearts are in cheerful submission to me.  This means that ultimately they have to be submitting to the Lord in order to learn well.

So during their first few years of school especially, I have to make a patient and prayerful pursuit of their hearts...not just their math facts or letters.  If their hearts are with me and willing to cheerfully obey, the learning will happen.  If not, what is difficult in and of its self, becomes almost impossible.

There are three things that come to my mind tonight that help in this heart training. First, it is so important for me to remember that heart training isn't an extra that happens on the side on bad days when my kids went to bed too late the night before.  Heart training is a goal of our school.  It is something to work towards every day.  If I can remember this continually, I won't get so frustrated when I see a bad attitude creep up.  Instead of seeing the bad attitude as merely an interruption to the "important business," I can see it as an opportunity to pursue something that I have set out as a goal of our time together.

Second, working to instill academic confidence into my children, helps them to trust me with their hearts.  It is easy, as a home school mom, to set the bar too high, too soon.  It's easy to get into a difficult concept and not back off, despite the child's obvious frustration with it.  It's easy to exasperate them while trying to do a good thing.  It takes so much wisdom to know how hard to push a child through difficult work.  Most kids are naturally lazy at things they don't necessarily care to learn and will often put up a fuss just because they don't want to put the effort into it.  But some things are genuinely too difficult for them and the fuss is legit!  I find, that it's so important to give praise and encouragement for things they are doing well and assurance when they genuinely need to back off for a time on things they struggle with and a good firm hand to push them through the laziness!  Wowsas....it's tough!  And I don't always succeed.  But over the years of patiently pursing this balancing act, they grow to trust me more as their teacher and I become less of a stumbling block towards sinful attitudes.

Third, I must remember that God is refining my heart just as much as my children's in all of this.  Sanctification is for us all.  No discipline is ever pleasant, but it does yield an abundant harvest of righteousness.  It is a kindness of God to use our little home school to pull the dross off of my heart and replace it with joy found only in the person of Christ.  Through this process he is forming me into a mother whom my children will call blessed...not because I was a great mom or I taught them every thing they needed to know for college, not because I never exasperated them or I always pushed them just the right amount when they were being lazy, (I fail all the time and my children know it!) but because God is working in my heart and is replacing my flesh with Himself and when they see Him in me, they will be able to say, "She is blessed."

Yes, today's post comes at the end of a long day of school that had tears involved for many of the above reasons.  But God is always faithful to us and his mercies (including that cup of morning coffee!) are new every morning.

What about you?  What do you find that helps to get your kids hearts ready to learn?  Anyone else find the balancing act difficult?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Birthday Blessings!

Yesterday, I celebrated 39 years of life.  Sadly, I was also wrapping up a session with Mr. Malaria.  Feeling under the weather on a birthday isn't much fun, but my family sure did make the best of it!  The girls made two cakes after church...one gluten free one for me and one regular one for everyone else.  (I know, sometimes I suffer so much being the only gluten free person in the family...an entire chocolate cake just for me....haha!)  And our new team mate, Connie, was so sweet to get everything ready for lunch for all of us, so I could just sit and rest.  My family blessed me with many gifts...I think they have my affection for coffee and tea all figured out because I got a travel mug from Cafe' Java, another coffee mug, and a pretty nifty drinking jar that sits a plastic holder thing.  And Benaiah, my emerging reader, blessed me with a note that said, "Hape Brsdae" that he wrote "all by myself, mama!"  :D  I also had a lovely chat with my parents back home and lots of sweet emails and facebook notes from dear friends.  And Denise found a huge confetti gun in town that she exploded into the air after I blew out the 24 candles on my cake.  (I guess when you get to the end of your American candle supply, you only have to turn 24 on your birthday!  Who knew that was the secret to staying young?!) 

Feeling loved and blessed today!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Toddler Art

I took a moment to check out some art that my two youngest have been producing these days.

Have you ever thought about how scary toddler art can be?

Benaiah loves to draw epic battle scenes... sword fights, dragon breathing fire on some poor guys head, a man falling off the castle wall with an arrow stuck right through him, men being crushed with rocks, men hanging on for dear life as their wagon flies down the hill straight for the castle wall... wowsas!  That's intense!

And then there are Talitha's "babies."

These are obviously babies that only a mother could love...

But we are at least thankful that she has reached the developmental milestone where her babies now have bodies...but those teeth!  Gotta work on that a little!  That's just plain scary!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bullet Post Update

It seems as if, when life gets busy, the blog goes by the wayside for a time and a bullet post update is needed to catch  up.  So here it goes....

:: We started school almost two weeks ago.  We started with half days for the first week... ease our way into our busier schedule.  This week, we have fully picked up steam and are marching forward through new curriculum.  The day before school started, we had a back to school swim party.

::The Lord has provided us with new teammates!  What a huge blessing to have Charles and Connie Jackson and their son Noah on the field with us.  Charles will be working with Eric at Knox Theological College and in the village churches.  Connie is looking towards helping our little village schools with teacher training and other help and support as needed.

:: We were able to go to court and gain full fostering custody of Denise last week.  Previously, we had been keeping her under a temporary custody ruling.  Now we have the full three year fostering custody.  Praise the Lord!  Please pray with us that the Lord would see fit to grant us legal guardianship before we would like to take furlough sometime next year.  She is not allowed to leave the country until we have legal guardianship.  By this time next year, it will have been a full four years since we have seen our families and we would like to be able to travel with her while we visit home and do the work of furlough.  She's doing really well these days!  Every week we see improvements on understanding family, English language, reading, etc...  So thankful for God's good gift to us!

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers!  We are grateful to God for all he has done to take care of us!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Whose smiling face is this?

Who has such a precious and beautiful smile?

Why, it's Florence!!  She was discharged from the hospital last week, so today we went into the village to find her!  We knew approximately where she lived, but it just took stopping to ask a few times, "Do you know where the little girl that got hit by the boda lives?" And we found her there eating her breakfast and smiling and laughing!  What a JOY to see!!!  God is so good!

She is struggling to use the crutches still and doesn't want to put any weight on her leg yet, so she still has a ways to go.

We also gave her a football that has the gospel message on it.  These footballs were donated to our mission by some friends.  They've been really fun to use!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Getting Ready for School to Start

It's that time of the year for this homeschooling mama!  I've been working like crazy to try to get ready to start school with all these kiddos God has blessed me with.  I've cleaned out the old books, shelved the new books, gotten notebooks ready, printed and laminated their new checklists, and worked at adding a few new things too.

What's new for the 2015-2016 school year?

First off, we have a new student!  Yay!  Denise is a joy to teach and we are really looking forward to what this year will bring.  Maybe some day I should do a post on the Ugandan schools, but suffice to say she has been trapped for years in a broken system.  While she has some wonderful strengths, particularly in the math and science areas, she has quite a bit of catching up to do in the area of reading.  We are using the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.  I love this phonics book.  I've used it with many of my other kids and a few Ugandan kids, always with great success.  In this context, I particularly love the fact that other than a few references to hot dogs, it isn't saturated with American culture.  ;-)

Secondly, Timothy is now in high school!  How in the world did that happen?  Yikes!  Keeping a transcript, assigning credits, and making sure he is taking all that he needs to be taking is all new territory for this mama!  He will be taking the Tree of Life Great Ideas course this year.  He took their "What's the Big Idea?" courses for grade 7 and 8, so we are excited to start this new phase.  He is very interested in going into engineering, so the elective he's most excited about taking is a robotics course based on the Lego Mindstorm kit.

Next, I changed a few organizational things in an attempt to streamline the kids a little more.  We've done Shurley English for years.  I really like it.  But the problem is when you have 5 students and they aren't necessarily at the same place due to varying levels of vocabulary.  It takes a lot of my time to teach all the different levels, even though all the concepts are the same.  My huge summer project has been to combine the levels into one program that can be taught to all ages at the same time.  It's using all the Shurley material, but hopefully will save me a LOT of teaching time!  I'm also combining many more kids in their IEW writing this year.  I have 4 that will be going through their Narnia theme based writing book.

I also switched my literature program from Teaching the Classics to Veritas Press Curriculum Guides.  While I really like the idea of Teaching the Classics and in an ideal world would still be doing it, I just don't have the teacher time available.  The Veritas Press can be done fairly independently.  So, we made the switch.

I also added a Weekly Progress Report that each child will fill out at the end of each week telling me exactly what they did for each subject that week.  One of my challenges has always been keeping good tabs on where each child is in each subject (8 school age children times 4-6 subjects??  Ack!  Too much for my mommy brain!).  It's such a hassle to look in all their books, find the pages, etc... So, I'm hoping that this will help.  I also copied ALL our tests that we need and got the answer forms ready.  It always drives me nuts when I'm in the middle of teaching and a child comes to me and using their Ugandan English says, "mommy, I need my math test copied now, now." (When you say "now" it refers to an African time table.  "Now, now" is what an American would consider to be "now" haha!)  So, I photocopied them all now, now.  Yay for planning ahead!  I also got some really fun hanging folders from Amazon to use to store their papers in.  I used to always store them in my lesson planner binder, but by the end of the year it becomes way too full.  So, on the wall they went.  

What is still the same?  We are still doing Story of the World History.  My kids really enjoy the curriculum.  We are still doing Apologia Science.  This year we are doing Botany.  I figured it would be fun to do Botany this year before we, Lord willing, will be on furlough next year.   We have flowers blooming year round on our compound!  Most of the kids are still doing Saxon Math with great success.  We especially love the DIVE cds to help.  Timothy got about 2/3 of the way through Algebra 1 last year completely on his own.  Towards the end, he needed a little bit of help.  Whew...that College Algebra class I hated, but studied my brains out for during my freshman year at Covenant sure was a blessing!  haha!  And we are still drawing and tracing maps for geography.  This year we are working our way through North, Central and South Americas again.

What are you doing this year?  Are you making changes or sticking to the same thing?  What curriculum is really exciting you?  If you're a mom to many what kinds of things help you get it all done?