Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our School Year Schedule

After much consideration I have worked out our home school schedule for the next year. We did a little school here and there the last few months but I have decided that for the deep south spring time is better for a long school break than summer. At least while the boys are young. Some days during the last 6 weeks the boys would spend an entire day outside playing and exploring. Now that it is getting hot they are not enjoying it as much. We will still spend time outside but it will be in the mornings and evenings. I have also decided to do 6 weeks stints for the most part with a week break in between. The week off will give me time to do specific planning for next 6 weeks stint but it will give us time to plan outings and such. Remember we live in the sticks now so we can't just go spend a few hours at the zoo or mcwayne center.:) It also gives the boys a break in routine for some extra hard playing time which they really need at this age. I DO NOT want school to take away from freedom and exploration. I want their hearts to remain captivated by nature. So here is our schedule:
May 4-June 12 (1st 6 weeks)
June 15-19 - off (VBS at church)
June 22-July 31 (2nd 6 weeks)
Aug 3-7 off (annual beach trip for John's bday)
Aug 10-Sept 18 (3rd 6 weeks)
Sept 21-25 off (John and I are hoping to have an anniversary trip here if we have babysitters)
Sept 28-Nov 6 (4th 6 weeks)
Nov 9-20 (2 week fun unit on Thanksgiving)
Nov 23-Dec 4 off (thanksgiving and a week for xmas decorating and fun)
Dec 7-18 (2 week fun unit on Christmas)
Dec 21-Jan 8 off for Christmas
Jan 11-Feb 19 (5th 6 weeks)
Feb 22-26 off
March 1 - 12 (2 week fun Easter unit)
March 15- April 30 - Off for spring break!!!!

The breaks feel perfectly for our normal things in life. I love the freedom that homeschooling brings. Maybe this will inspire you to think outside the box :):)


It has been a while since I wrote. I have lots to write about. God is peeling back more layers of my heart exposing some hard things. I have never been a person who has a hard time being transparent. If my sin struggles can in any way encourage another in their walk with the Lord then Praise God!!! I want to share more of this as I wrap my head around it all but for now just a little update on life.
We are the busiest that we have been in years and it is the good kind of busy. Investing in people. More and more we feel that God has strengthened our calling to this area. However, the first of the month, John's contract work slowed drastically. As a result he has been sending out resumes and interviewing for more work. There is a chance that we may have to leave this area for a while. This has really bummed us out. We both have had the conversation with God asking WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? Seeing that John was getting more discouraged by the weeks I called in backup. As a wife, there is only so much I can do to not exasperate the situation. He is a man who is struggling with so many things - and one of them is providing for us. He needed another man to step in and encourage. (Ladies I learned this from Love and Respect - great book). So I called JK and he came for the weekend. Most of you know JK - he lead both me and John to the Lord and discipled John for several years. Having him here was wonderful. He helped both of us with perspective which was huge. One of the biggest concepts we got this weekend regarding ministry here is that often in the Bible God calls someone or reveals his will to someone and it does not come to pass for some time. There is Abraham having Issac, Jospeh's dream about his brothers bowing to him, David becoming King. So this potential short term move (basically until the recession picks up) is not so much us hearing God wrong as it is timing. This was huge for us!!!! Please join us in prayer that God would provide John with more work quickly. Pray specifically that it would be a remote job that he could travel to rather than us having to move.
Back to the good stuff. This weekend while JK was here we had a cookout at our house with a few of the couples that we are investing in. It was great. It never ceases to amaze me how my worlds collide. One of the girls went to high school with one of my best friends Nikki Parmer in Athens Alabama. She and her husband went to Calhoun Community College with Brian Steadman and the husband played baseball with him. It was so fun and created even more common ground. I must say that for me specifically finding common ground is really really hard.
We are HEAVY into baseball these days. I must admit I have struggled with a good attitude toward this. Baseball is what people live for in this town. But John coaching has opened tons of doors for relationships here. Last night The Storm (Jake's team) won their first game. It was so fun. It was also the first night at the park that I felt a small sense of belonging. People stuck around and we hung out. I met several other women and was just able to chat. This has been hard for me because John knows everyone. Small town people are tight knit and once you get in it is good but until then it is hard breaking though the weave that is their community.
My cousin's wife ask me about a month ago if I would be willing to lead a Bible Study with her and a few girls. So we met for the first time last week and it was great. These girls are sooo hungry to know God. This is really fun for me and it gives me a chance to opereate in my giftings. I love to teach and discuss the things of God but I would rather you shoot a nail in my foot than chit chat and build relationships starting at the surface level.
The boys are thriving here. I send them out to play for about 1 hour at a time. They love being able to run free, to climb and explore. I am not sure if we will ever be able to "citify" Brady again. We have been potty training and at home he just drops his pants outside to pee whereever he is. Well he seems to think that is ok to do everywhere else. So several times we have had to run and cover him - in a restuarant parking lot, home plate on the baseball field, church parking lot and so on.
So that is a bit of an update. We have never felt that we were doing God's will for our lives so strongly as we do right now. It is not comfortable but it is wonderful. Back in the fall as God begin to show me what he was doing he gave me Ps 16:11. At any time I struggle with being here or wanting to be somewhere else he reminds me that He makes known to me the path of life and that in his presences is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. It does not matter where I am. My joy will come from whose I am - this is where my identity and belonging must rest for me to ever find true contentment.
Again please pray for John to find a job. More soon!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009


John and I are reading Wild Things - the art of nurturing boys. This is a GREAT resource for parents with boys. It is not a parenting technique so much as an insight to the mind and heart of a boy in order to help you parent them better. Love it!!! Anyway one of the things that they talk about is bedtime with boys is PRIME time for vulnerability. Something about being tired and being in the dark (side to side rather than face to face) makes a great catylyst for boys to open up. Once John read this he decided that he wanted to start spending extra time at night lying down with each boy. This posed a problem since we have bunk beds and he didn't feel comfortable climbing up in the top bunk with Jake. So after a few nights of trying to switch them out - Jake in top bunk one night, Brady the next - didn't fly with the boys because they want to be in their own beds with their endless animals, John decided to debunk the beds for a while. Now remember this is small quarters we live in so I was a little worried about space. The very first night's conversation with Jake made all the work worth it. John has had a bedtime routine with the boys already - singing, reading, and praying together so he just added laying down with them. When he got in the bed and laid down with Jake the following conversation took place after they prayed together:
Jake: Daddy sometimes when I pray to God I don't know the words to say to tell God what I want him to know. I wish I could pray like you and mommy pray.

John: Bud that is ok because God knows what you are thinking before you ever speak a word out loud. Our praying to God is for us not for Him because He already knows what we are thinking.

Jake: (with great excitment) you mean that God knows what I am thinking before I say it - that He knows what everyone is thinking before they say it???

John: That is right so it's ok if you don't know the words just tell God you don't know the words.


That 5 extra minutes was such a great blessing to us and Jake - His view of our Great God expanded drastically!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lessons from the Fifth Year

If you have not followed this series of reflections on parenting through my first 5 years you may want to start by reading this post . There are also my post on the first year , second year, third year and fourth year if you are interested.
This was a HUGE turning point in my parenting journey. Up till now, I have read tons of books and spent many sleepless nights wondering how to do it better. Little by little God began to show me some key things in my thinking that all come together last summer in a conversation with a very dear friend/mentor who interestingly doesn't have any children (except the countless women that call her their spiritual mother - me included!!!) Below is what I learned this year:

When faced with an opportunity to practice a virtue, he (Brother Lawerence) prayed, “Lord I cannot do this unless Thou enablest me.”
And when he failed, he was quick to acknowledge, “I shall never do otherwise if You leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling and mend what is amist.”
After doing that, Brother Lawrence “gave himself no further uneasiness about it.”

I read this quote in the book "Having a Mary Spirit" and it absolutely nailed me to the wall. Even as I read it again today I feel this inward tug in opposite directions. How could he be so confident in his standing before God to give himself no further uneasiness about his falling? On one hand there is complete freedom in this idea - that apart from God we do no good things. I believe it 100% and give God the glory for all that I am and all that my kids are that is good. On the other hand, however, I can't help but think about all the Scriptures that tell me to train up a child, that no discipline is pleasant at the time but produces a harvest of peace for those who are trained by it, that folly is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod of discipline drives it away, fathers teach your children when you sit and lie down, when you walk along the get the picture. We have a responsibility before God to teach and train our children in the way of the Lord. We can not let them go to themselves. So for such a long time I battled this inward struggle (if I am truly honest the battle is still ongoing) of I am not doing enough, I am not being consistent enough, if I slip up the they fail. Last summer a very dear mentor listened as I poured my heart out to her about these very struggles. The boys are good sometimes and terror others. If I could just do this or that better. She stopped me in mid sentence and said "Amy it seems to me that you need to remember that Jesus said "come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." As we talked more she challenged me that I was caring a yoke that was not mine to carry - the burden of making my children holy. I know it sounds prideful but I did not trust God to make my children holy and I felt that if I didn't do enough then they would not love Jesus. So as I continue for months wrestling through this hard pill I had just swallowed, through time in the word and time with godly women I found a balance. I am to pursue holiness both in my own life and in the lives of my children (by teaching them the Word of God and how to apply it to their lives) 100% simply because God tells me to. I do this knowing that God brings holiness to fruition 100%. There is no 50/50. And yes, God can make my children holy without my help (I am living proof of that), but if I don't choose to simply obey Him and pursue holiness then I miss out on the joy of laboring alongside the creator of the world who does not need me, yet chooses to use me in my childrens life. So now when the kids are struggling in a particular area I don't just write it off with an "oh God will make them holy." Instead, I do spend extra time on this area - teaching and training and disciplining but I try hard to spend more time in prayer regarding this area because I know that God is going to make it "click". And when I find myself getting anxious about a struggle in their life or mine I know that I need to come to Jesus because I am weary and burdened and I need to give him my yoke because it is not mine to carry.

“You see, it’s not our job to accomplish God’s will. That responsibility belongs to Him alone. Our job is simply to say yes to whatever specific tasks he puts before us. Then to follow through, one request at a time, with our lives as well as with our mouths: ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Obeying then simply believing that God will do what He says He will do. Even when it doesn’t make sense.” ~Joanna Weaver (Having a Mary Spirit)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wild At Heart

“Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wildness, is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of a man.”
This tree in New Orleans Zoo came face to face with 3 fierce warriors and a brave little girl who were determined to win this battles regardless of how many tears they had to shed in the process. It is meant to be climbed and conquered (there is a sign in it that tells you not to climb any farther). So I ask them if they were up for the challenge and up the branch they went. Most of them came down a time of two but just HAD to beat this beast. All of them but Brady shed tears on the way up but would not give up. It is amazing how that sense of adventure runs so deep even in the most cautious child.
I wish you could see that tongue sticking out. He is determined to do it. The youngest of the 4 and scaled it like it was nobody's business. He knows little fear and I LOVE that about him. I pray that God gives me the wisdom and nerves to not squash this in him!!!!

When he accomplishes something Big he gets this very specific smirky grin that is so soul satisfying that sometimes I push him just to see that grin. Today I got it when he finally pooped in the potty (and not in the yard but that is for another post :))

As you see Brady is just chilling waiting on the others. Anna and Jake made it and Eric, bless his heart, just could not bring himself to stop until he finished. He did it and he grinned from ear to ear at his accomplishment.

This was a glimpse at what took place on the way up. Isn't it amazing that they can be this scared but want to keep going? This event was by far my favorite point of the trip to the zoo. These boys walked away feeling like they accomplished a big feet and well I think they did!!!!!

Lessons from the Fourth Year

If you have not followed this series of reflections on parenting through my first 5 years you may want to start by reading this post . There are also my post on the first year and the second year and third year if you are interested.
I have spent time thinking about this year in Jake's life. This was a hard year for me both with my health and with parenting Brady. You can click on the second year link above to see what God taught me this year. Even as I write this my heart is full of joy and sorrow all at the same time. Jake is such a blessing to me in very specific ways that often get overlooked by his very strong brother. He has such a tenderness about him but yet longs to be so strong and manly. His personality very much is a combo of a lion and lamb and I so often take it for granted. He has a few specific struggles that I so often get wrapped up in "fixing" that I often don't take time to see the strength and good in this precious child. Sometimes I feel like I am so hard on him and that I expect to much from him. I am learning as I go with him and I pray that God allows him to just remember the good and not the bad. I am so grateful that the burden of him loving Jesus is not on my shoulders. You will read more about this in my next year post but as I look back on this year of his life I am so thankful for a sweet precious boy who is becoming a tender warrior mostly not because of my doings but because he has a FATHER who is thankfully more committed to Jake than his momma could ever be.