Friday, July 27, 2018

3 Simple Habits to Keep you Focused during Your Quiet Time

Tell me if you recognize this scenario.

You sit down with your Bible to have your quiet time and as you begin reading the scriptures and it's just what you needed to encourage your soul and then remember you need to pick up some lettuce at the grocery store. What? Where did that come from?

You go back to reading and then it happens again, you remember that you need to return a phone call. You pick up your phone and see that you missed 3 phone calls. Stop! Focus! Seriously, why is this so hard now?

I get it. What could only take 30 minutes often turns into an hour because I cannot stay focused.

Lord, help me!

I've found a few things to do that have actually helped me to make the most of the time I spend with the Lord.

1.  Start off with prayer and deep breathing. This will quiet your mind. I love to put a drop of Frankincense essential oil in my hand, breath in deeply when I pray. It really helps to quiet my mind and help me stay focus, plus it just smells so amazing.

2.  Silent your phone.  I have my quiet time first thing in the morning with my first cup of coffee. So, typically my notifications are already turned off, but not always. This keeps me from checking my phone when someone text or calls me. I have to be very careful though because I often use an app for my devotions. I don't go anywhere on my phone except that app. If that is still too much of a temptation don't use any apps during your quiet time.

3.  Have Post-It notes close by. When those random thoughts do come, write them down. That helps to get them out of the way. Sometimes the Lord will put certain people on your mind so you want to remember to pray for them and possibly contact them later.

It takes at least 21 days to create a new habit. Commit to doing this for 30 days and see if that helps you have a more focused and meaningful time with the Lord.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2018/2019 New Homeschool Year

We are getting ready to start our new school year.  I can't believe the summer is almost over. But in truth, I'm so ready for it to be over. The record breaking temperatures here in Texas have really drained us and has limited us on what we can do outside. We do not school year round, but I think this summer would have been a great time to start.

This year I only have four that are still in school. That is crazy! It seems like just a year ago that my planning pages had 9 kids across the top. Now I only have 4 and 2 of them will be completely independent so that means really, I only have 2. I don't know if I should be sad or thrilled!

I'm really changing things up this year. We are trying several new curriculums and methods. You would think after 22 years I would know exactly what I want to do, but my kids still have different learning styles so I work to accommodate while still challenging them.

My two oldest still in school are Zach and Gracie. Zach began working with his dad so he fell behind last year as he struggled to balance working and school, so we are working to get caught up. He is 16, super smart and willing to do whatever he needs to do.
He will be doing all of his school lessons online using Power Homeschool (formally known as Acellus School) It was suggested to me by a friend and I've spent the summer looking it over. I think it will be a good fit for Zach. For $10 a month he can take 6 courses. That's perfect and we can supplement what we need to.

Gracie is 13 and will be doing 8th grade work.  She is also working from the Power Homeschool site for some of her courses, not all. I'm working to prepare her for Highschool and I think this will be a good fit for her as she is already very independent in her work.
She will be using Apologia's Physical Science for science because she really loves that. She is also doing Geography with the younger boys and I. I love that she still enjoys doing hands on projects with her younger brothers.

Gracie loves Art. She found her talent with watercolor and sketching so I found Arty Factory,  a website she will go to twice a week and follow the lessons there. She can choose various types of art and I will assign some Art history to go along with her other lessons as well.

Sam is practically 12. His birthday is the last of our September birthday marathon.
He will be doing some 5th grade work and some 6th grade work. The beauty of homeschooling, we can focus on the areas that still need more work.  I realized last year that Sam needs more of a hands on approach with his math (and I do too), so we are switching to Math U See. I was really hesitant to switch him to this, but after talking with some of my homeschool mom friends I think we will be ok.

A friend told me about a fairly new curriculum that uses a touch of the Charlotte Mason method. I've always loved this method, but am too unorganized to make the most of it. The Good and the Beautiful site is a full curriculum for the younger grades and more is coming for the older grades. Language Arts for grades 1-5 are FREE! You can print it out yourself, or you can order everything already printed (for a price of course). I printed everything out yesterday. It's a lot of printing, but it really gave me a chance to look over everything in better detail and I am really looking forward to using this. She incorporates poetry, art, geography into the language and grammar lessons. I printed out grade 5 for Sam because we really need to get a more solid foundation in writing & grammar.

For several years I have looked at using My Father's World with my kids, but I could not afford to buy the whole kit. A friend was selling an older version of the teachers manual of Countries and Cultures so I bought it and loved it! Gradually over the summer I've been collecting the books needed. Many of them I already had. We are only doing the Bible and geography/history portions. But I'm excited and think the boys will really like this. As we study different countries, we are learning of various missionaries from past and present who have served in these countries. We are getting our hands dirty (which always makes me nervous) as we are doing a lot of hands on projects and cooking foods from various countries.

We attend a local co-op and Sam will be taking the rest of his classes there. He will be taking Chess, Literature, Anatomy & Physiology (Apologia), PE and Computer Coding.

Charlie is my baby and it's so hard to type this...but he will be in 1st grade! When did this happen? We like to call him our 40 yr old 1st grader because he just acts so much older than he is. Growing up in a house full of big people will do that to you.

I basically ordered for Charlie what I ordered for Sam just in 1st grade.

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful
Math: Math U See Primer
History/Geography: Countries and Cultures
Science: Apologia Anatomy. I bought him the Junior Notebook and he & I will work through parts of that together.

Charlie is taking classes at our co-op as well. He will be doing Grammar, Spanish, Bible, Art and PE. He can't wait to take big kid classes.

The boys and I are going to read through the Narnia Series together this year. They have only seen the movies (shame on me). I loved reading through this series with my older kids, so I'm really looking forward to this.

So, here's to a new year. I've been praying and searching and comparing and praying some more over what we should do, so I'm looking forward to how our new year will be. I'm expecting great things!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Facing Life with Confidence

"How's life?" a friend asked me. I cringed inside at her question. She appeared to be doing this "mom thing" so much better than I was. I felt as though I was barely hanging on, yet there she stood all put together, her children all put together. Do I really tell her  how life was or do I give her the glossy answer.
"It's great! How's life for you?" (glossy answer it is)
I was too embarrassed to let her know I was drowning in motherhood!

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise against me, yet I will be confident.

Psalm 27:3

I love this verse. When my children were all young they were the army marching against me. At least that is what life felt like most days. I felt attacked. I couldn't do anything right. I couldn't make anyone happy. I was so mean for making them do chores. I was abusing them by making them eat their vegetables and drink water instead of Kool-Aid like "their friends" did. And Heaven forbid if I made someone take a bath!

Are you there? You could probably add to my list.

How many times have you asked God, "What have I got myself into?" This motherhood thing is harder than I thought!

Ok so, I understand that when David wrote this Psalm he was actually in a life threatening situation, but the point I want to make  is where he drew his confidence from. It's the same place for us. God is our confidence!

Whether you are facing an impossible situation or you are just trying to keep your kids alive, the mindset is the same. "I can do this because God is my strength!"

God is there. He is your strength, your life, your joy. With confidence we can face whatever it is God has us facing today and know that we will survive! In spite of what we may think at times, our children are not out to destroy us and neither is God.

Motherhood is hard, but that's ok. For the sake of sounding like your mother...doing hard things is how we grow. We know this, that doesn't mean we like it. One day I will be at a place in my relationship where I can welcome with open arms the trials God brings because I know they will draw me closer to Him. I'm not there yet. I still cringe and ask "Why?!" and then I say, "OK, I trust you." But I'm still kicking & screaming a little bit inside. God knows this and still loves me anyway.

Here are some additional scriptures I keep close as reminders that God is with me and is bigger than any trial, impossible situation or cranky kid.

Isaiah 43
Psalm 20:2-5
Psalm 27:13 & 14
1 Corinthians 1:25

I have a bit of homework for you. Write at the top of the page, "God is bigger than..." Then write out your "army encamped against you". What is it, who is it that is making you feel as though there is no hope. Now at the bottom of that page write, "God is my strength, my hope and my joy! I can do all things through Him that gives me strength!" (Phil 4:13)

Put this up where you can see it. If something new pops up add it to the list. Remind yourself daily that God is bigger. He love you! He doesn't want you to just survive, he wants you to enjoy being a mother. He wants you to find joy in it and satisfaction.