Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Resolution

As I prepare my children for this upcoming school year, I've chosen a way to prepare my own heart for homeschooling.  This is my Homeschool Resolution, a prayer full of reminders, that has found it's place on the wall of our schoolroom.

I will start our days with peace.  Through prayer and example, our days and our home will not be filled with chaos.

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

I will teach you, first of God’s love.  His words and promises will be the foundation of our hearts.

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the ways, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of the house, and on the gates.  Deuteronomy 6:7-9

      I will be intentionally patient.    

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.  Proverbs 3:3

I will remember that letting the Holy Spirit correct me is the only way I’ll be able to properly correct you.

My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction.  For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.  Proverbs 3:11-12

When discouraged, I will turn that into trust.

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

I will daily give your life to the Lord, knowing His love and plans for you are perfect.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Jeremiah 29:11

If you act out, I will draw you closer.  I will openly love and encourage you in your struggles.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.  1 John 1:5

I will keep learning beside you, growing, and letting His strength be made perfect in my weakness.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Leading you by example, I will apologize, seek forgiveness, and change when I do something wrong.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

I will praise and thank Him daily for letting me spend my days teaching and loving YOU!

Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

Feel free to copy and bring this Resolution into your own homes!

I must take a minute to share with you what a great surprise my Grandma, the kids' Great Grandma, sent our way!  Not only did this shower us with her love and affection, but it gave me a boost of confidence from her.  One of the women I look up to the most is behind us in our new journey! She found a perfect, fun way to show us all that she'll be one of biggest cheerleaders!  We received a package full of school supplies!  Thank you Grandma for stocking our school room!

What a great gift this was to get, as it said so much more than just the wonderful items themselves!  This would be a great way to lift up that homeschooling Mom close to you if you're looking for gift ideas!  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Life Change

It started a couple of years ago.  That small whisper in my heart, the right people in our lives, and an idea that our home and family life could be so much more complete than it was.  And like those trusted women I spoke too, I began a journey to this place.

They all told me that it hadn't originally been in their plans.  Homeschooling that is.  And time again I heard stories of how defenses went up, their ideas fought with God's plan for their life, and in the end...how they surrendered to this calling. 

I didn't fight it plainly by saying no.  I never said that this wouldn't be for us.  As a desire to teach my children grew, each and every reason NOT to browsed through our family's ideas.  I reasoned through each one of them.

"Maybe when they're older."
"Maybe after she learns to read."
"We'll let the baby go to Pre-School first."
"I'll get our schedule more organized and us on a better routine before we go there"

And the one that ALWAYS, each and every time, stayed in the center of these other thoughts?

" I have a heart for this.  One day, just not now, we will homeschool."

And there it was and there it stayed.  I continued to learn and research, my desire growing.  I prayed.  I studied scripture.  I journaled my thoughts.  And I decided that yes, I want to homeschool my children.  So I specifically asked God to show me.  Is this what I'm supposed to do?

I'll never forget the way He moved after that prayer.  In the way only He can, so clearly and so real.  I was in church later that week and I heard a scripture that about knocked me out of my pew.  It was one of those moments where if you had been watching, you could have seen the shake of my head, the widening of my eyes, and the expression of just being spiritually 'slapped in the face' if you will!  I heard the scripture loud and clear. 

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.   Deuteronomy 6:7-9

There it was.  God's answer rang perfectly with every thought, feeling, and idea that had been weighing on my heart.  This was exactly what He was telling me to do.  And then....another unnamed influence brought this once again to a screeching halt.  It wasn't bad, it wasn't wrong, it was just another part of our journey towards coming home.  It was okay, just a reminder that we still weren't quite there yet.  And I surrendered.  I clearly told God 'ok', that I was on board with His decision, and surrendered myself to the place in my life where He had me. 

What came next changed everything.  That final, undeniable change that stepped us into this new part of our lives.  Every comfort and security of our current situation had vanished.  I can't say that it was a surprise.  Because once again, our good Lord had prepared me for it.  Through uncomfortable, seemingly silly events that led up to this....things were made very clear.  When the bomb dropped, I was grateful to have the past few months of 'lessons learned' and people's true hearts shown.  Though they had been challenging, it was these things that had prepared me for what was happening next.  These things, these 'interactions' and realization about people and things that made the truth crystal clear.  I DID NOT have to doubt what was wrong and what was right.  I only had to close my eyes and thank Him, once again, for preparing me and making things perfectly align with scripture and His guidance, before the 'changes' ever even took place.

I clung close to Him, I lost myself in His perfect word, I prayed harder than I've prayed in a long time, and.... I listened.  He laid the groundwork, he paved the path, and he prepared our hearts long before the storm of change came our way.  So it was with great peace in my heart that the decision was made.  Everything that has happened since this time has only been a reassurance, small reminders, and boosts of confidence, that we are exactly where we are supposed to be! 

 After every storm comes new growth.  When days get hectic, as I'm sure they will, I will cling to His promises.  And I will remember, just how faithful and good He has been to our family!  He has brought us here, and He will guide our way.  In the meantime, my heart is full of joy and excitement!  I can't wait to see what is in store in our home, and I look forward to sharing all of the true lessons of the heart that He sends our way!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Moving Along

Less than 3 weeks from now our oldest boy will be having surgery.  As nerves begin to rattle a bit and more questions come from his heart, I prepare him as best we can.  Summer.  I help focus him on summer and enjoying these long, hot days before school begins.  Jesus.  It all comes back to Him, how grateful I am to have our family foundation of faith to help my little boy stand upon.  See, those questions fade and he knows, even in his young heart, that we have Him greater than us to guide our way.  So the nerves settle, and summer carries on.  Please keep Aiden in your prayers as this is a big thing for an 8 year old boy to face.  I am proud of him already and will post updates when that time comes. 

In the meantime, we continue to prepare ourselves for school.  I love watching this come together.  With every piece of organization, resource discovered, and lesson plan, I find something even greater.  Confidence.  With a deeper understanding that this is exactly where God wants us to be, comes that  sweet peace of watching the heartbeat of our home fall into its perfect place.  Even with ideal routines not yet completely established, I find glimpses of a wonderful year ahead.

Assurance of being in God's will.  Peace in knowing we've followed Him into what's right for our family.  Understanding that He's had life under control through everything sweet and everything bitter.  Confidence through seeing how prepared He's made us.  Living grace through how He's guided and provided through following His direction.  Growth through standing for Him, His word, and what He's whispered in my heart as being true and right.  THAT is what I thank Him for today.

I was reminded this weekend of how roots must be strong in order for a tree to bear much fruit.  Reminded again and again in only that amazing way that He can-by bringing the same truths into our lives repeatedly.  In only ways and circumstances that He can.  And today I stand on His reminder and promises.  I can hardly wait to watch this next year unfold!

And the remnant that is escaped the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.  2 Kings 19:30

                 And for a peak into our schoolroom in the making...

Probably my favorite part of our schoolroom is these chairs!  A little background will help you understand!  My Grandpa passed in January of this year.  This man will always be such a huge part of our lives and hearts!  I grew up so close to him, learning more from him than I could ever tell you.  He was a part of my daily life, my school life, and as I said above...my heart!  Him and my Grandma gave me these old folding chairs when I first moved out on my own.  I've hung onto them as they're so sturdy and have come in handy time and time again.  He put his initials on the bottom, so that's another small but priceless thing he left behind!  And come to find out, these chairs were actually given to him by HIS father.  So, the kids' school chairs actually belonged to their Great, Great Grandpa Oscar. 

I first took the chairs apart, which will vary with the type of chair you are refurbishing.  For us it was as simple as 4 screws, then popping the cushion part of the seat out of a second part of the frame.

I spray painted the frame-both pieces (the seat isn't pictured).  It took 4 coats, a little less than one can of paint per chair.

Then I covered the cushion with duct fabric from Hobby Lobby.  This proved to be thicker and therefore will be more durable for everyday use.  I've seen in other tutorials that crafters use staple guns for this step.  As our seat was metal, I opted for a high temp hot glue gun.  The trick is to pull the fabric tight at each step and to cut off as much excess fabric as possible, as this cushion was afterward popped back into the seat frame.

Piece it all back together and we have the final result!  LOVE THEM!

 Now for a bit of resources/organization to share with you....
I refuse to raise couch potatoes.  I not only want my children to stay active, fit, and healthy-but I also want their days to be filled with fresh air and the boost we get from physical activity!  Our curriculum encourages this as something we should add-and I completely agree.  So our school days will include P.E. 

I made a set of 'P.E. Pick A Card's.  The kids (or Mama, depending on the day) will choose a card filled with various activities.  If we have leftover time, they can choose a game to play.  I'll continue to add to this deck of cards as we see what works best.  They also include cards for 'Indoor Days' when good old Louisiana weather will get the best of us!

Master Lesson Plans-COMPLETE!  I've found a wonderful, and free online home school planner.  It's loaded with resources for planning and record keeping.  Click here to visit Mardel's A Simple Plan Online.  And, it's all printable, which will serve well for my record keeping!  I spent a few days making both kids' master lesson plans for the entire year.  I put the master pages into page protectors and have them in my binder with their course instructions!  So week by week, I'll be able to look and see where we need to be!  This will also help tremendously with their weekly lesson plans.  It was a lot of work, but will serve to keep us on track and let me focus weekly on teaching and their learning!

And YES, we are upside down-just work with me here :).  I've finished the kids' weekly lesson plans for the first 2 weeks of school.  It's helped me get acquainted with their specific subjects and texts, along with feeling out how our weeks will flow.  Using the same online program, I was able to print a list of their weekly assignments.  This will serve as a guide, but will also be great for my grading system.  I can enter grades for graded work and reprint the list at the end of the week to include these grades!  Their completed work and grades will be filed by the week!  The handwritten lesson plans include the actual 'guts' of what needs to be covered-these pages came from the CLASS Lesson Planner and include space for notes on what will still need review, etc.  And lastly, their worksheets for that week are pulled and attached!  I feel really good about this system and think it will serve us well!

 School in the Whitten home will begin August 19th!  The countdown is on!

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