Monday, July 20, 2009

Cristy in Africa-Day 4 by Jason

Well, it is now 9:40 and I have finally gotten everyone calmed down and in the bed. Today was a good day. Got up early, went to store and picked up some milk and cereal for the boys. Ben got the boys up and going around 9:00. The Dinn's picked up Nathan and Luke to spend the day at there home. Becky Garner picked up Caleb and Jacob and were off to the water park. Ben came to the church for the MS Serve Day. I am so proud of that boy! He is really growing up to be a fine young man. So mature to be 14. Sure, sometimes I wonder about him, but overall the boy gets the job done and really does it well. I picked Ben up some Chick-fil-a w/ a Chocolate Milkshake to surprise him because he has been such a help since Cristy has been gone. Then, I took the van to have tires put on and oil changed and got a burger at The Collegiate "WOW, what a hamburger" All by myself I sat there and all I could think about was Cristy. I have never since we have been married been cut off from communication from her like this. It is driving me crazy!! I just wish I could hear her voice for just 1 minute. I guess it just really sank in while I was sitting there by myself. Well, I got up, got over it and walked back over to Harrison Tire and got my van and headed back to the BUSY office. Lots of work to do. 42 people gave there lives to Christ yesterday and 47 last week at the Outreach at Fairstreet. Much follow up to do and we are working hard on that. Worked on that for a while and Ben came over to my office after he was done painting in the MS room and I ran him home to meet Becky Garner w/ Jacob and Caleb around 4:00. Went back to my office and worked for about another hour and headed to p/u Luke and Nathan from the Dinn's. Got everyone home and we had a family meeting before heading over to Randy and Nikki Grizzle's for dinner. Great evening,great food, and awesome fellowship!! Talked more of Cristy with them and how much we were all just wanting to talk with her. Tonight when we got home, my precious little Luke broke down. He told me, while in tears "I am so sad and why can't mommy just come back home?" OH, that was hard on me. At that moment, I realized even more than I ever have before how much we all desperately need her. Thank God for marriage and family! What a gift from the Lord. If you read this, please pray for all of us. Cristy, when you read this, know there are 6 boys here that LOVE you and desperately need you, and are glad you are back!! Love you BABY!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nearly Time!!!

Only 10 more days and I am boarding a plane and headed to the other side of the world! I cannot even describe all of the feelings and thoughts that are running through my mind these days.
Of course, there is the excitement of going to another country with a completely different culture to share the good news of Jesus Christ...but with that comes a little apprehension. What will it be like? What can I expect? Will I get sick? Will my husband and kids survive without me? etc....
Currently, I am in the packing phase. I have pulled out all of my clothing that I have collected so far (we have to dress differently because of the culture) and the gifts I have stock-piled to take to the nationals who I will be working with each day. I am compiling a never-ending list in my mind of all of the last minute things I need to remember...intense bug repellant, malaria medication, Bibles for the leaders, finish making the bracelets to take over, and on and on it goes!
The funny thing is that I have tons of stuff to take, literally a 2-pg packing list, but I am only allowed 2 suitcases and a carry-on with weight limits! How will I ever fit it all in, package it correctly, and make it there with everything I need to bring with me? It's not like there is a Wal-Mart down the street I can run to if I forget something important! We will be in primitive villages lined with huts with Jesus and each other and that is it! But of course, that is all we need...I must keep reminding myself of this fact.
Over all, I do have a great peace about going (even if it doesn't sound like it). I am humbled to be able to take the gospel to people who have never heard the name of Jesus. To think back to when God changed my life and brought me into his family - never would I have dreamed that He would use me at all - even more so in another country! I am thankful that God chooses the foolish to become wise and the weak to be made strong for His glory and purposes! I cannot wait to see what the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the lives of those who will hear in 10 short days...I keep thinking of the souls that I will spend eternity with because of our trip to Africa! How awesome that we will take part in fulfilling Scriptures - that in Heaven some from every tribe and tongue will worship God together. It is an amazing fact that God uses ordinary people like me and you to accomplish eternal purposes! What a miracle that we are entrusted by God Himself with the greatest message ever shared!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beach Pics

Family Vacation

We recently returned from a week long family beach vacation to Panama City. It was a wonderful trip full of exciting events.
We spent the week meeting new people, interacting with wildlife, and doing all sorts of memorable things.
Among some of the "beach critters" we happened to see were dolphins, sting rays, whelks, barnacles, starfish, crabs, sea urchins, and other things we could not identify. It was fun to take our field guide along and look up all of the neat creatures we came across, trying to identify as many as we could. After dinner as we would walk along the docks near the restaurants, my boys would stretch out and lean way over the docks looking at the various things either floating in the water or clinging to the posts of the dock. I loved watching them interact with God's Creation with such fascination and as Ben stated one evening, "this is real learning you don't get in a classroom!" I agree!!
As for our outings, this year we were fortunate enough to be able to take the boys on the Pirate Ship. We have looked at it for a few years now and finally felt they were all old enough to enjoy it. We cruised along in the water for about 2 hours and had fun watching the boys shoot each other with water guns, mop the poop deck, play games, and search for treasure. It really was alot of fun and we were able to get a close up of the dolphins as we rounded the bend close to St. Andrews State Park. So much fun to be out on the water with the wind whipping around us and the salty seawater spraying upwards.
Other things we did were go-karts and putt-putt golf. Both of these were fun as well, although competition can sometimes make it challenging to keep everyone loving each other and enjoying the evening. Overall, they did really well and I am glad we took the time to do some out-of-the-water activities. Now that the boys are all getting old enough to participate, it makes things more fun for everyone.
Of course, "all good things must come to an end" (or so they say), so we are now back in Georgia doing the things that we ordinarily do as a family, continuing to enjoy the carefree pace of Summer. Our vacation was a wonderful reprieve from busyness that had great benefits to all of us. I am looking forward to our next trip already!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Gentle Reminder

Isn't it funny that you can know something as a fact, yet not realize it fully until little moments when God opens your eyes and gives you a gentle, but pointed reminder?
Tonight was one of those moments for me.
I was invited by a sweet friend to attend her Senior Banquet. She is graduating in just a couple of weeks and our church set aside an evening to celebrate together with friends and family.
During the course of the evening, a slide show was shown of each graduating Senior and pictures played across the screen beginning with their births, and on into their current lives. Many of these young people I did not know, so I was a little surprised when I felt that knot in my stomach and the increasing desire to shed a tear. I began to think, "If I am emotional now, what will I be like when my own children's lives are portrayed on that screen?"
Of course that thought did not subside and after it was over I stood in the hallway talking with a dear friend who is sending 2 of her boys off to college in the Fall and her last child is entering High School. She shared with me the tears she had shed in the last two weeks as she readied herself for this night and went through pictures for the presentation. Many of those tears are joyful because her children are maturing into true followers of Christ, but some of those tears were from the realization and sadness of how short life truly is.
It is one of those facts that you know and you even talk about it with others at family reunions and birthday parties, but there are certain times when the realization sets in and you don't only know it in your head - but your heart gets it too and you are moved by it.
Scripture declares it this way, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." (James 4:14)
Casting Crowns puts it into a tune, "I am a flower quickly fading - here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind...", and grandmothers remind us, "Enjoy them while you can - they grow up fast." We hear it so often, but are we really listening? Are we heeding these words of wisdom?
I know that I personally can get so caught up in the demands of life that sometimes I forget to enjoy the living. I take my life and my family's lives for granted and at times even have the audacity to complain over my situation or circumstance. Oh, how I wish I could have it burned into my heart to take each day as a gift and realize the fragility of life and the fleeting nature of it.
One person wisely said "when the hourglass runs out of sand, you can't flip it over and start again". How true, yet how forgotten!
I don't want to be this person who dreads for the years to pass and is so focused on the passing that I miss the daily moments, but I also don't want to take for granted that each day is precious and never to be repeated. Time truly is our most valuable commodity and the reality is that once we spend it, it is gone. There is no getting it back, trading for more, or any other clever method. We have what God has ordained for us to have and not a minute more. The same is true with time with our children. We don't always have tomorrow - we have TODAY...really, we aren't even guaranteed more than the moment we are in.
It is my sincere prayer that I will be a good steward of the time He has given me and pour my heart into the most precious gifts He has placed in my care: my husband and children. When I get to that time when my "chicks take flight" I want to be able to look back on their time in our home and know that I intentionally savored every moment of that huge chapter of my life. I hope not one page of it will have been wasted or written in a hurry, but instead that each moment was filled with love and gratitude for every breath we shared together.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Sunday

As we celebrated the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday, we were also able to have a few pictures of our boys taken. As you can see, they are growing into handsome young men.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Future Veterinarians

Today, I took four of the boys and we headed to Athens to the University of Georgia for their annual Veterinary Hospital day. Each year the college opens it's doors to the public so that people can tour the animal hospital, see exotic animals, and learn alot about animals and their medical care.
We had a GREAT time and I think we really learned least Mom did!
We started off in front of the hospital where there were several pens set up that housed animals such as a camel, a kangaroo, two llamas, dairy cows and calves, and so on. We were able to view a real cow stomach and learn how it functions. Pretty gross, but interesting.
After that we went through the exotic animals exhibit where we petted a snake, took a look at turtles, skinks, iguanas, and other types of reptiles. That was pretty interesting, though very crowded with schoolkids on a field trip.
Next we decided to take the tour of the actual hospital where surgeries and all sorts of other procedures are performed on dogs, cats, horses, and I guess any other animal. We waited in line for about 45 minutes, at which time I decided that my children are NOT ready for Disney, and then we were able to tour. There were no major operations taking place, but we saw a couple of dogs under anesthesia and a horse that was a little frustrated after it's treatment. It was a good opportunity for the boys to see real medical care and I know that Jacob really enjoyed it.
By this time, we were all starving and we had plans to meet up with some other homeschool families for lunch. We all brought a picnic and it was a good change for the boys to refuel and take some time out for tag on the lawn. We did have to keep them from climbing the trees, but other than that there were no major problems.
Finally we were ready to go to the Teddy Bear Surgery Center. This is really neat and worth the trip just for this one area. There is this huge room set up just like an emergency room, except multiple stations, with a triage, pre-op, an finally surgery tables. The children were able to bring stuffed animals from home that needed stitches and were shown how to sew them up!
In triage, they listened through the stethoscope for a heartbeat, checked temperatures and reflexes, and blood pressure. Then on to pre-op where they gave their animals some gas to put them to sleep and put in an IV. Finally on to surgery where the vet students stitched up the bears with the assistance of the children. It was really cool! As you can see in the pics, the children wore gowns and masks, and really got into it.
The last thing we did was hit the face painting booth and take a bathroom break before getting on the road to head home. Overall, it was a wonderful time and a field trip worth taking. I am already looking forward to next year!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another Glimpse of Hope

Last week was a challenging week in our house. The rain came down several days in a row and everyone was beginning to show signs of being indoors way too much! The children were snapping at one another and Mom was feeling like catching the next plane to long as no one who needed anything from me would be there!!!
But, just as I was beginning to lose all hope that my children are actually walking along the path we are laying out for them, God blessed me with a sweet reminder that they are getting it!
My oldest son, Ben, was scheduled to leave on a 2 day trip to Savannah, Ga on Monday morning. He has been studying Georgia History all year and this event was to be the culmination of all the things he has been studying. Of course this required an early morning as he had to leave our house by 6:00 a.m.. I went to his room around 5:30 to wake him but instead he was already up. He was sitting at his desk with several folded pieces of paper around him and as I entered, he declared, "I'm writing each of my brothers a note, like Daddy does when he goes on a trip."
Each note told of how he would miss them and challenged them to behave and be helpful. It also promised a gift when he returned and he shared how he would miss them and be thinking of them. It was sweet, to say the least, and it was a reminder to me that I am glad we have chosen to homeschool because it truly has strengthened the relationships of my children over the years.
Moments like these are like glimpses of hope to a weary mother. All day, every day I pour my whole life into my children in hopes that they will rise above some of the struggles I gave into when I was young and that they would choose to live differently than the culture they are surrounded by.
The culture says that little brothers and sisters are aggravating and that teenagers should surround themselves with other teenagers and hang out. But in our family, we believe that family is a gift from God and the older have the privilege of guiding and influencing the younger to grow in wisdom and maturity. We have always taught that each person in our family has a responsibility to the others to lead them and love them and encourage them on to good works. However, teaching something and seeing it embraced are two different things. There comes a point in our children's lives when they have to choose to embrace what they have been taught or not. When children are young, they don't have alot of choice...they must live by our standards. But as they grow older, they must choose to believe in our wisdom and walk the paths we have laid out for them. I think we are at a place where some of our children are entering into this phase of choosing and, to be honest, I am anxious about it more than I would like to admit.
Perhaps it is a fear of failure, perhaps I despair as I see the culture around us, or maybe it is the sinfulness I constantly see in myself and my family members, but either way there is always the nagging voice in the back if my mind wondering, "Will they choose to live for Christ or not?" It is not a one time decision, but a moment-by-moment decision and in their immaturity I often see that Self wins out.
However, God is faithful and when I am at my weakest point, He will take the veil off of my eyes for just a moment and enable me to see that we are on the right children are maturing (however slowly)...and our family unit is stronger than I see on a daily basis. I am thankful for these moments because it encourages me to look beyond what I see - to walk in faith, not by sight - and to trust what God is doing in the hearts of my sons. Though it is not evident every moment, it is still there and growing stronger every day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Soccer Boys

Today marked the start of the official Nave soccer season! Two of our boys, our youngest two actually, desired to play soccer this year through the Upward Soccer League at our church. It has been so sweet to see their seriousness in making sure that they are at their practices and today's game on time and in order! Jason and I have been chuckling as they express with great animation everything their coaches tell them.
This morning's games began at 9:00 cold...and man was it cold!!! The winds were whipping on that open field and Nathan's 5 year old team was having difficulty playing because they were all freezing at first! Once they got to running, they forgot the cold and had alot of fun trying to kick the ball into the goals.
By Luke's game at 11:00 the winds had died down a little and the sun was warming things up a bit so it wasn't quite as cold, but it never did get overly warm. Luke had a blast running up and down the field, and especially in his most dramatic way of kicking the ball and falling down! We all laughed as over and over he fell with the only reason being that he truly enjoys falling down! I think it gives him the feeling of really giving it his all.
Both teams did a great job and had so much fun and I must say that the viewers did as well. It appears to be the beginning of a great season and I know for sure there are at least 2 little players who are really proud to be out there!

A Weekend Away...

"Opposites attract" the saying goes. That has never been truer than in our family. Jason and I are complete opposites and while it drives me crazy at times, often I am so thankful. You see, I am not a spontaneous person in the least. I like to wake up already knowing my plans for the day and stick to them until I say goodnight. However, I can always count on my husband to burst into my plans with plans of his own...and usually because his plans are more fun, he wins over!
This is sort of what happened on a recent weekend. It all started on a Friday around lunch. We were sitting at the table eating and talking about the beautiful weather when all of a sudden one of the boys spoke up, "I wish we could go to the mountains today." That was it!!! The wheels quickly began to turn and by 2:00 we were picking our oldest son up from school early and had the car packed to head to Blue Ridge. Whew...a whirlwind!
It took about 2 hours to get there, but it was like an entrance into another world as we stepped out of our van (more like tumbled out)and instantly breathed in the cool, crisp mountain air. The boys, of course, were excited and quickly began lugging our things into the cabin.
Upon entering we all took our own quick tours through the house claiming rooms and ooohhhhing and aaahhhhing over the things we each liked best. The view, the pool table, hot tub, huge jacuzzi tub, and on and on we went. (Thankfully the place belongs to a friend and we were able to use it for the small price of the cleaning fee!)
We spent the rest of the evening being lazy, enjoying much needed rest and refreshment and drinking hot cocoa and coffee together while we played Apples to Apples. It was alot of fun.
When morning came we knew we had to go hiking...that is my favorite thing to do in the mountains, so we ate a large breakfast and packed up our things since we would have to be heading home afterwards. We set out into the town to ask about and find the best trails for the day. We were directed to the Ocoee River area where the Olympic kayaking took place years ago. The hiking itself was fun...we didn't see a whole lot of amazing things, but we did enjoy the exercise and the fresh air. I think the only natural thing that captured my attention was the various types of mosses and lichens. I always love to take pictures of the soft, fuzzy mosses that cover large areas of the woods, and this day was no different. However, the mosses I came across were so different and very beautiful! Not only did we see the lush green, but so many other colors as well. It was like little "forests" of green and pink or green and white tips...absolutely interesting and I could not stop taking pictures and admiring their beauty. It was a great opportunity to discuss the amazing creativity of our God and how He takes pleasure in creating even the tiniest things into something beautiful! No matter where we go or what we do, if our eyes are open we can find all sorts of beautiful, often intricate, things that He has made and we have the privilege to enjoy. That always gets me excited and so we had some great conversations and truly an enjoyable time!
Next, we drove over to the Ocoee River and had a really fun time exploring and climbing on the rocks and so forth. There is nothing better for our family than time together outdoors. It is a guarantee that when we go hiking together, our children get along better, they are kinder and more helpful, and everyone feels closer to one another and to our Creator.
It is through experiences like these that I learn to appreciate the spontaneity of my husband and I feel very contented in my soul that we are a family heading in the right direction. Although problems and issues come and go and there are times when we feel very overwhelmed and inadequate at this parent/marriage is on days like these that I say to myself, "slow and steady...keep on going...God is faithful" and so forth. I am always so humbled and encouraged at the same time. So, the next time my husband has some great idea, I have learned to say, "maybe..."!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Caleb!!!

Caleb is nine - Wow! It seems like just yesterday we were bringing this chubby little baby home from the hospital and transitioning into having three children. Now we have five and he is no longer a baby, but instead a maturing young man with beautiful blue eyes and a smile that you can't help but enjoy!
He truly is such a blessing to our family and a natural encourager. Before I had Caleb, I still had some of the shyness of my youth, but not now! He is the official spokesperson for our family and has introduced me to hundreds of people, literally! I remember when we first moved to Georgia and Jason began serving on staff at our rather large church...I felt so overwhelmed by all of the new faces and people I thought I would never get to know! But one by one, I would meet, women, didn't matter, they would come up to me and say something like this, "I met one of your sons the other day...the blond one..." Yes, it was Caleb - and now 4 years later, I feel like I know the whole church! Thanks, Caleb!
Not only is Caleb our little socialite, he also happens to be a very good worker and will do any job with a good attitude. Many times I have heard my husband bragging to others about how quickly Caleb can have our garage in perfect order and all the while with a spring in his step! Any time I have a job that needs to be done that my other children would hate, I can always call on Caleb and hear, "sure...anything else?" You gotta love a kid who says that!
I think one of my favorite things about Caleb is his compassion for others and sensitivity to the Lord and His Word. Often times I will see Caleb with a little child right beside him and Caleb will have his arm around him/her or even be carrying them around. All of the little kids we know love Caleb and look up to him because he makes them feel special and takes time to play with them even when friends his age are waiting on him. He is willing to give up his seat or run an errand or anything else because he loves people and he knows Jesus wants others to be first. How sweet he can be!
Of course, Caleb is not perfect and with all of his abundant energy there are times when I feel a little overwhelmed trying to keep up with him, but I have to admit that his life has changed mine so much for the better! He is a source of encouragement, laughter, and all sorts of exciting adventures for our family and I give God all the praise for His workmanship in creating Caleb and placing him in our family. Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Our Latest Adventures

It sure seems like our family has been on the go lately! I am looking forward to spending the weekend at home catching up on some housecleaning and organizizing.
Anyways, we spent most of the day Thursday at Stone Mountain. We attended the Big Apple Circus at 11:00 and then headed over to the playground afterwards to hang out with friends and let the kids burn off a little energy before driving home.
We really enjoyed our family day. The circus was alot of fun, especially for Nathan, who had not been to a circus before. I enjoyed watching his reaction to the different acts and seeing how mesmerized he was by everything. Of course, we took lots of pictures, so I thought I would share a few here:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!!!

Sadly, in years past we have not celebrated Valentines Day as an entire family. Though Jason would usually buy me a gift and I would get him a card, we did not make it family-wide. This year, however, we decided to change that and make a new tradition.
We started off by planning a treasure hunt, in which the boys were given 10 clues to solve, before finding their Valentines "treasure":

1.Valentines is a day of love, clue #2 is behind our love spot - the "cuddle place". (our big chair where we cuddle each day with our children.)

2. After a kiss for Mom and Dad, you will find clue #3 in a place where your clothes get warm. (the dryer)

3. Give each other a high-five! Clue #4 will be found in a place that rhymes with lovin - a hot place! (the oven)

4. Now it's time to get it going! Clue #5 will be in the "upper deck" right on top of the world books. (upstairs in our "library" on the World Book Encyclopedia set.)

5. Mom & Dad like to snuggle, too. Every night we snuggle here - find clue #6 in a comfy place. (our bed)

6. Sometimes, love gets does this place and it keeps our veggies nice & crisp. (veggie drawer - refrigerator)

7. Hug a brother that is standing close to you! Because you're getting close as well...Clue #8 will be found where we find our daily bills. (mailbox)

8. Are we having fun yet? If not, let's go for a drive! Clue #9 will be found in the family "go-mobile". (our van)

9. Good job so far - only one more clue to go! Give out a big "yee-haw"! Clue #10 will be found where we keep our "living bread" - the words of life! (Bible basket)

10. You found clue #10 - Now you've got to think! You'll find your treasures on the path to yesterdays study spot - or was it just a fun place to be? Think hard! (in the attic on the way to the roof - the thinking spot our children like to go to.)

Oh how fun to watch the boys run around and read each new clue as if it was the most exciting thing they had ever done! Also to see them follow the directions and give high-fives or was priceless. All of their efforts paid off with each of them finding a valentine bag filled with candy and a toy and a personal note from Mom & Dad...I may have spent $10.00 on all of it, but it was worth thousands!

After the treasure hunt, we had breakfast. I decided to make heart-shaped pancakes and sausage. I cooked the pancakes from a new recipe and then Caleb & Ben took cookie cutters and cut them into hearts. We set the table with crystal goblets, our best dishes, and lit candles to make it the special occasion it was. As we ate, each person shared what their favorite thing about our family is. We heard, "family vacations", "we have fun together", and "cuddling" as some of the answers. It was a sweet time - literally as I looked at all of the syrup on their plates! Oh well, it's valentines day, right?
We finished off the afternoon with cuddling and playing...we really just hung out together and had fun as a family. I think we all agreed with Nathan's sentiments:
"This is the greatest Valentin's Day I ever did before!" Amen!!!

1920's Mystery Dinner

Last night Jason and I attended a 25th wedding celebration for our friends, Dave & Karen Channell. Instead of the same old party, they chose instead to do a 1920's mystery dinner. Everyone was assigned a character and given certain secret information for the evening and were to come dressed for their part. At first we weren't sure about this! Both Jason and I were a little nervous about being "out of character" per se, but it was nice to know that we were not the only ones!
As we got to the party, it was fun to see many of our friends dressed in their costumes and then to begin playing the parts we were assigned. Although we are not natural "actors", we did our best to accomplish the goals we were given. (Two of which were ackward: 1. confronting my husband's possible mistress and 2. confronting my husband - who was really not my husband at all - about the situation.)
Some of the characters really got into it, like Sandy a.k.a Carrie Crooner - the singer for the evening who ran around calling for her "Pookie!", her new husband of a week, who was actually "killed" during the event.
Once the evening came to an end and we headed home, me in my feathered headband and Jason in his felt hat, we came to the conclusion that it was a really fun night and we enjoyed it immensely! Just goes to show that we should never pre-judge an occasion and it is good to step out of our comfort zone once in awhile.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Natural Beauty

Oh, how wonderful to see the beautiful sun shining and feel it's warmth on our faces today! After all of the cold weather we have had, I could not have asked for anything better than an afternoon outside with my boys looking at all of the interesting things God has placed before us to admire, study, & enjoy!
Although I do not have alot of land of my own, I am blessed to know others who do and who are gracious enough to share it! So after placing a call to our friends, we all headed out to "go exploring".
We started out at the small pond where we took deep breaths of fresh air and forgot all about the cold weather. We noticed the water levels had dropped since we last visited and we toyed with the idea of kayaking, but we decided against it since we wanted to stay dry. Instead we all agreed to take a hike and see how many signs we could find that would prove to us there had been mammals of some sort around the area. I told the boys to look for clues, such as tufts of hair, half-eaten nuts or pinecones, tracks, or "droppings". Of course they were humored by the last clue and were ready to set off!
Our oldest son, who has camped (and worked) on this land before, wanted to take us on a trail he was familiar with, so we all allowed him to be our guide and followed happily behind him. We spotted alot of natural beauty, such as green moss and wild ferns. We did not initially see any wildlife, but we still enjoyed our trek up to the big pond. There we sat and admired the water and the boys made little "boats" out of tree bark and had fun seeing which ones would float. We did see some geese on the water and found a really neat hollow tree that some animal was probably using for shelter. Nathan was the only one who ended up in the water and he only to his knees. As he was trying to get a stick out of the water, it "pulled him in" (as he says) and he had a short scare. Boy, did he jump out of that water quickly! It was hard not to laugh, but thankfully he did not allow it to ruin his day. I think it helped that Ben offered him his jacket to wrap up in until he was a little drier.
We decided to head back to the smaller pond and as we rounded the corner to it we were greeted by three beautiful horses who had wandered over to munch on the greener grass around the pond. We were so excited to be able to go over and pet them and feed them some grass from our hands. I was a little unnerved at times with all of the children around the horses, but they did a good job of following the instructions I gave them so that noone would get kicked or stepped on.
We spent alot of our time with the horses because they were so gentle and beautiful and we could not pull ourselves away to go on. However, we did notice that the sun was lowering and we knew our time was getting short. Lately, I have been taking some time to admire the silouettes of the trees in the sunrise/sunset, so I took a couple of pictures and pointed this out to the boys. I'm not sure that they caught my enthusiasm, but one day they may.
Finally, it was time to go home, but much to our delight we were given one more gift of beauty as we headed down the driveway...deer in the pastures peacefully grazing. We could not have asked for anything more! How refreshed we were when we got back home and how much more we admire the Creation around us!

A Living Education

Our family is doing a unit study approach this year so that all of the children are studying the same thing and our attention is less divided. While this has not been a "perfect" homeschool year, we have had an exciting time learning about a variety of countries and cultures. At this point, we are finishing up 3 weeks of studying Africa, so we thought it would be alot of fun to get together with some other families to celebrate and strengthen what we have learned.
Whatever we are studying becomes so much more interesting and alive to us if we have the opportunity to hear from someone who has a passion for what we are studying. So, we asked our friend, Susan, to come over and share with our families her love and knowledge of Africa. I am so glad that we did!
She shared so many interesting things with us along with pictures and stories of her travels to Africa in the last 7 years. She also brought pieces of art and jewelry and traditional African clothing. We learned of the customs of the beautiful people there and amazing stories of God's grace in their lives.
Afterwards, we all delved into the various foods that each family had prepared - different recipes from Africa! We tasted fried plaintains, banana fritters, Peanut Toffee, Traditional African rice, and so much more. Oh, and how could I forget the Malta drink? Noone could forget a sip of that!
Although at times I may grow weary in our homeschooling, days like today remind me how thankful I am to have the great priviledge of educating our children at home, learning along with them, and strengthening our family relationships.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Renewed Vision & Lessons Learned

Each January, I always feel compelled to assess our home school and begin to dream up what we will do next year. This year is no exception and so I have found myself increasingly restless and desirous of some alone-time to plan and process. Hence, I am up at 1:00 a.m. writing down thoughts and reading over websites that offer helps to the idealistic home school mother.
There are so many things I want to see take place in our home school, yet each year we begin with a "bang" and slowly fade into the routine of "checking off the list". Then in January, I recognize this tiresome tradition and make plans to change and enhance. I guess that is the journey for many...a cycle of dream, implement, slide into "easy", old ways, awake to the drifting, and get the ship on course again!
I know that I see this same pattern in the spiritual life of myself and others as well, and so instead of despair, I try to ask myself the hard question: "Why do I do this?" And the answer is "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!" It really comes down to a combination of laziness and busyness! As our lives slowly get busier & busier, we also get lazier & lazier and before we know it, we are way off track!
I am thankful for the Januaries in my life, although unpleasant at first, for they offer me the opportunity to be honest with myself and take a good look at where I am headed -vs- where I want to be going and make the necessary changes to reach the goal. Although I would rather stay perfectly on track and be much wiser and disciplined than I am, the truth is this is real life and weaknesses abound! I am sorry for the opportunities I have missed this last year or the times education was reduced to a list, but I am also thankful that a new year is before me and young minds are still awakened to the music of true education! May the goal be reached eventually...may vision never cease!