Sunday, April 10, 2016

USA Roadtrip - New York

I love this homeschooling thing. Yep, I do.

Here's some of what we did for our study of...

New York

1. Color pages are very common around these parts. We use the pages from the Confessions of a Homeschooler Roadtrip curriculum. You can also find some from a quick google search, but the ones we use are the best I've come across! 

2. We enjoyed looking at pictures of Niagra Falls and New York City. I get all sorts of books from the library but I still don't understand how people ever homeschooled without the internet! We also read some books about the Statue of Liberty but I already returned those books to the library so you're just gonna have to find your own! Sorry!

3. We did a craft! Since New York City is called "The Big Apple," we did some apple painting! Cut the apple in half, paint it red, and dab it onto the apple print. Just be careful that your almost-2-year-old doesn't eat the painted apple...

4. We found a couple of fun living picture books:

In New York by Marc Brown
All the Way to America by Dan Yaccarino

I recommend both! But I loved the simple, cool story in All the Way to America that is about "a big Italian family and a little shovel." I think my attachment to it stems from that fact that I felt like I finally understood the concept of "living books" when I read it. It was like an introduction to a whole new, wonderful world of reading to my kids!

Next up- Pennsylvania!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

7 of the Simplest Ways to Make Time for Jesus.

I am totally NOT qualified to write this post. But when has God ever called the "qualified"? So here I am on a day that I chose to watch Netflix during my free time rather than dig deep in my War Room, writing a post about practical ways to spend quality time with the Lord.

Fear not, prayer always precedes a post.

As promised in THIS post, I have 7 practical ways to nurture your relationship with Christ.

1. Get up early.

I know it. I hate this one, too. Especially with Littles who may sleep through the night most of the time, but are somehow instantly wide awake the moment you wake up no matter what dark hour it may be.

The truth is, this isn't always possible depending on your current life chapter. But I believe it is important to give God your day before your feet hit the ground. Daniel did it. David did it. Jesus did it. I'm gonna do it. You might not be able to give Him an hour, but you most definitely can give Him 5 minutes.

My current favorite app (for women) that makes this perfectly doable every single morning is the First Five app by Proverbs 31 Ministries. 5 minutes of meaty goodness, including a challenge and a prayer. There's plenty of other app options with short, simple devotionals. Even the Bible App will send you the verse of the day so the first thing you see on your phone in the morning is a word of encouragement from the Living Word.

2. Stay up late.

Ideally, these first two are either/or but you do what you gotta do! Each phase in life is going to present different difficulties so figure out what you can commit to now and do it. If it means spending 20, 30, 60 extra minutes awake so I can soak up quality time with my sweet Savior, I'm in.

3. Choose a Scripture-heavy devotional.

Don't depend on books. God gave us His Word to train us in righteousness and equip us for His work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). His Word is all we need. But sometimes having a book or bible study or devotional helps us navigate His Word. Keep several on hand in various places. I know I'm not the only mom who hides away every once in awhile. Keep a book in that hiding spot and use that couple of minutes of time to read rather than scroll Facebook. (I am literally talking to myself right now...)

One of my favorites has been considered controversial but I've read it through twice and have yet to find any reason whatsoever to be concerned: Jesus Calling. It is a daily one page devotional, written as if Jesus is speaking. There are verses/passages included that can be the springboard to deeper study.

4. Read and pray with the kids over breakfast.

This has been a habit around here for over a year now. I love it. It's teaching my kids the habit of spending time with the Lord every morning, and I get some extra Jesus time, too. My favorite is reading the Jesus Storybook Bible. I can't tell you how many times I've choked up reading this to my babes. We are currently reading Jesus Calling Bible Storybook which we are thoroughly enjoying. We've also read a Proverb a day and through most of the Psalms at different times. You only have to share their attention with their bowl of cereal, which works wonders in my house!

5. Listen to sermons/podcasts/worship music.

I'll be honest, I don't do this well. Okay, I don't really do any of these well! But I really believe God is prodding me in this direction. Many churches have previous sermons posted on their websites. (Check out ours!) I've recently gotten into "The Busy Mom" podcast. A friend recommended "The Gospel Coalition."

This is key: be careful what you listen to. Take a few minutes to research and be sure the speaker/preacher is a Bible-toting Jesus freak, and nothing less. Avoid, no RUN from the prosperity-gospel-types, and don't waste your valuable time with the light-on-truth, heavy-on-entertainment types.

6. Display Scripture throughout your home.

Whether it's a sticky note on the bathroom mirror or a gorgeous wood disk your husband made for you, find a way to display the Words of God. Fill your home with the name of Jesus.

7. Open your Bible.

These tips are by no means profound. In fact, while they aren't necessarily easy, they are ridiculously simple. The bottom line, you have to make the time. Every chapter in life has its own difficulties and obstacles. Don't make the mistake of saying you'll be more committed to the Lord when the kids are older or the job slows down or you're done watching that series on Netflix. The time is now.
Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you. Colossians 3:16

Tell me: How do you make time for Jesus? Please share your wisdom in the comments!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

USA Roadtrip - New Jersey

We lived very near New Jersey for many years. To me, it was what we drove through to get to NYC or our access to the beach. I was surprised to find so many interesting things about our 3rd official state.

New Jersey

1. We have been very pleased with this atlas: National Geographic United States Atlas for Young Explorers. It's a little over the heads of my little babes sometimes but I still read it to them and we enjoy the beautiful pictures. The overview of each state gives me a great jumpstart for planning the rest of our study!

2. We've discussed boardwalks before as we've studied the northeast. We learned that New Jersey has the first ever boardwalk. I came across THIS color page that is actually an incredible drawing of a New Jersey boardwalk that the kids colored while I read to them. We found the perfect book that really brings the boardwalk to life with excitement and mystery: The Boxcar Children, The Boardwalk Mystery.

3. The original game of Monopoly was actually based off of New Jersey streets and places. Enjoying a game of Monopoly is a great way to celebrate this state! We didn't because honestly I don't like the game ha! But I did show them the board and a map of the streets in New Jersey found HERE. There's some interesting tidbits found on that page, too. Probably more interesting for the grownups but hey, isn't that one of the reasons we homeschool? To learn and relearn things we never would have otherwise?

4. Abbot and Costello!  Costello was proud of his New Jersey heritage. So we of course enjoyed their classic: Who's on First?

I also enjoyed learning more about who they were, what they were like, how they came to be the most famous comedians in the US. Do some of your own research and bring these hilarious guys to life.

5. This book was an excellent find- Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team. It's based on a true story of 16 kids, 12 of whom were baseball playing brothers! One page shows all 12 brothers. When the oldest brother was my age (30-something-er-other), the youngest was Marie's (7)! Marie could not believe such a thing was possible! ha. I definitely recommend this book for your New Jersey study, or just because!

Last weekend we went to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, OH. We still have a month of school left this year but I'm already excited for next year! We will be adding in science, grammar/writing, and a more in depth Bible curriculum. I'll share exactly what we plan to do when I've got it all worked out and you all care. I realize most people don't at this point in the school year, ha! I highly recommend the Great Homeschool Convention! Derek loved getting to be a part of the homeschool planning and learning along side of me. Solidified our decision to homeschool once again!

Anyway, next up- New York!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

What gardening has to do with knowing Jesus.

It’s gardening time! Don’t let the random late winter fool you. 

I don’t know if I’ve said this before but I’m sure to say it again: Gardening is a spiritual experience! 

Once the nasty white stuff melted away today, I enjoyed some quiet time managing the wild raspberry bushes and ridiculous mint. (A couple of “oops”es that we are still paying for!) As I raked smooth the soil, I was struck by the beauty of the blackness, the richness of it. It is a stark contrast to what it was 5 years ago. But it did not go from a light brown, dry soil to a deep, dark soil that’s hard to keep my hands out of all on its own. It took effort. Lots of effort. Lots of studying. Lots of worrying (okay, only I did that part). LOTS of patience.

3 years ago we decided to forgo the tilling route and attempt the wood chip route. We made mistakes- the biggest one being putting way to much wood chips on. The following year we weren’t sure anything was going to survive, and many things didn’t. Other things didn’t flourish the way we would have liked. But there was still harvest, and we kept plugging away. 

Last year we were abundantly blessed with much harvest! There were sections that still hadn’t composted down well enough yet but there was a significant improvement. Our patience was paying off.

Today, our soil looks like this:

Black gold.
Some kale and spinach has sprouted up from last year and the snow from last night didn’t even phase it. Must be some delicious soil for these beautiful greens to not only survive the winter in dormancy, but survive the freak snow storm in April.

So let’s head on back to the actual point of this post: Gardening is a spiritual experience! 
While I raked this black soil back into place, it struck me how much it is like our spiritual lives. 
"Read your bible, pray every day and you'll grow, grow, grow!"

Spending time in prayer and in the Word are not just good, Christian things to do, they are essential to your growth. How can we even know Jesus if we aren't spending time with Him? 

Yes, this is "Sunday School" stuff, so it's sad to feel the need to urge my brothers and sisters (specifically fellow mommas!) to live that Sunday School song out.

Our soil did not reach this beauty on its own. It took back-breaking effort, and tear-inducing patience. But oh the harvest!! What a beautiful harvest we look forward to and already are seeing, not only in our garden but in our very lives.

In the 3 years since we laid these wood chips-
-Marie surrendered to our Savior.
-Two of Derek's students surrendered their lives to the Lord.
-I've been a part of leading 2 people from our church to the Lord.
-Marie and I were baptized together.

All things that put callouses on my knees from prayer. All miracles I had doubted possible. All as a result of doing our best to spend time in prayer and in His Word

Next year we will probably need to add more wood chips. We'll have to continue to be patient. We'll have to continue to put in the effort.

But oh the harvest!!
"As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold..." Matthew 13:23

((Later this week I'll share practical ways for a momma to make time for the Lord))

Related Posts with Thumbnails