Friday, February 19, 2016

Gingey visits Home School

 Gingey makes his appearance once again!  He climbed in the crayon box yesterday and lil' fireball handed him two big pencils.
Yesterday we sat down at the table to “do school.”  I had prepared everything in advance for them (my younger children).  “What could possibly go wrong today,” I remember thinking to my prideful self…. Strife….. over the NEW….PINK……PENCIL SHARPENER....not two seconds into our school time…. 
I don’t remember accomplishing much at all yesterday in the way of academics….but in the way of teaching my children how to value one another, work at getting along and sharing:  leaps and bounds.  You see, a humble little gingerbread came to visit our table.  He stood in the crayon box quietly looking on….
 There are entire lessons we've learned from this humble little guy...even discussions on human see, he is neither male nor female, really, he is gingerbread!  You can only imagine that he is a wonderful teaching tool in this day and age that we live...
 Our eldest daughter practicing on her big brother's accordion in the ole Schoolhouse.
 Our eldest, scientist and inventor, fixing the family waffle iron which was left lovingly by his dear Mother beside the trash can just so he'd find it, knowing all the while, for him it would be like finding gold.  (Quite possibly a run-on sentence....sorry)  AND, yes, it works again.  He explained it to me but alas, I lack the electrical knowledge it requires to fully appreciate and understand exactly what he did.  I encouraged him to start up a small repair business on the side....
 The gym, fondly known by the locals as "The Coliseum."
Our daughter sweeping up box elder beetles in preparation for volleyball night tonight.  What fun on a pair of rollerblades!  The ladder like thing simply protects the duct work from flying balls and the like.  Except that it has also been a great temptation for little adventurous boys to climb as well....

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why we Survive Homeschooling

We're studying maps.  Why?  Because it is something my fireball is interested in and will sit still for a very long time.  Praise the Lord, Halleluiah, and so on and so forth!  I don't say this sarcastically, I really mean it. 

No it was not picture perfect today.  Some people cut their maps into little tiny itty bitty bits, hardly recognizable.  Some took a long long long long time to color.  One of us tried to glue the light switch down to the wall because yesterday they had tried to tape it with no avail.  Aside from the point, yet somehow relevant in someone's mind. 

Did I mention we survived this morning with enough happiness left to take some pictures?  It was great... all the while trying to switch loads of laundry, put a turkey in the oven to roast, and lay the baby down for his nap. 

This is so much fun when I can laugh, love and enjoy the busyness of the moment.  When I choose to worry, fret, and be negative; I stress out. 

When you begin to notice interests forming in your children; strike while the iron is hot!  It's not so much the material that you use when they are young (although important), it is giving them a love, joy, and desire for learning that will go the distance.  Why would you NOT homeschool?  It's such a strong bond that you're making and memories that last for along time. 

Does fear hold us back?  We have a lot of that simply because we're human, but does it have to be? 

I think not.  Fears are usually generated by the sparks of misguided opinions.  Study the facts.  They're out there.  Look at the outcome of the way of people's lives (experience) the Bible tells us.  It's a great way to know whether or not you want to walk down that same road.  Home schooling looks different in everyone's life depending on what you put into it or the excuses you make for yourselves or your children.  It's like anything else you choose in life.

Talk with your children.  Walk with your children.  Share what you are learning and listen to what they are learning.  Read the Bible and pray together.  Relate what is happening in real life to the Lord Jesus Christ's teachings.

Lest you think I'm sharing amiss, I now have 3 teenagers in my home that are all different personalities, all love to learn, embrace reading, actually enjoy math and rarely display bad attitudes. Can you tell we're having a triumphant day? 

What if you're reading this and are having a lousy day of disappointments, strife, and despair....such as I quit, I can't do this anymore?  That could've been me yesterday or last week, I don't remember that was a long time ago. BUT......

Welcome to the ranks!  It's the exact place that God likes to have you arrive.... but not for long.  Call out to Him for strength and place your hope in His goodness.  He's got you covered.  Covered in His grace and His mercy for the moments that do contain tears and frustration, but this is life.... it will be there regardless of what you choose.

Yes, it's a joy to home school and an adventure in familyhood.  Yes I'm tooting my own horn.  How can I help it?  The music is loud and wonderful and clear and worth celebrating.  Yes, you can homeschool amidst great difficulty.  You'll make it through with lots of prayer, laughter, smiles, tears, hard work, and learning from others mistakes and triumphs.  Just read some of my old blog posts... we've gone through too many moves to count, remodeling homes, new babies, sickness, surgeries and the like but education doesn't stop. 

For those of you wanting a 10-step plan on how to survive homeschooling, sorry, it doesn't exist.  What does exist is a tool box of sorts, found in God's word.  Some tools work better than others at different seasons and different times. 

I'm an encourager, not a teacher.  It took me a long time to figure that out.  I don't even really like teaching, but I find myself doing it out of necessity.  Good thing, since we educate our children at home. 

What I really enjoy doing is inspiring my children to:   team work, good attitudes, being creative, to serve one another in love, read good books, learn new things, practice worthy academic pursuits... if you want to call that teaching, fine, but I call it provoking to good works. 

I'm excited when I see them wanting to learn because THEY want to, not because someone told them they had to.  Do you teach your babies to walk and talk or do you simply encourage and clap when they discover it?  DON"T STOP doing this for your kids no matter what the age.  So the clapping might not fit.... but you get the idea.

All this, from a map coloring, cutting and pasting activity... WOW.... and you thought we were simply learning the names of our 50 states..... God had other plans.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Beautiful is Unity in the Body of Christ

There are 3 ice cream cones on my wall.  They were hung there by my three littlest school age children: aged 8, 6, and 3.  As I watched them place their individual pieces of artwork up I observed some interesting behavior that could be applied to what we sometimes see happening amongst those who profess to be Christians.

 The oldest of the three stood on the floor and reached as high as she could before placing her paper ice cream cone.  It was well drawn; proportionately correct as well as beautifully colored: one scoop of peppermint chocolate a top a triangular cone. 

 Then my six year old placed his extra long and very thinly shaped, but beautifully colored paper ice cream cone next to hers.  It was twice as long and 1/10th of the width of his sisters and had too many flavored scoops to count all stacked up on top of one another.   The size of the cone could never have held up all that ice cream!  BUT, it was his interpretation and it was perfect for Him in His own way. 
Now about this time, my 8 year old had scooted a chair over, stood on it, and reached yet higher up the wall to reattach hers, almost within a foot of the ceiling!  Then my son stood and placed his even higher, placing it upside down in his eagerness to be yet higher.  Then his big sister began “helping him” to attain the height at which she had attained thereby removing him from the experience of being able to display his handiwork at all, but not quite as high as her own. 
I stepped in and told my son the artwork belonged to him and he had the right to hang it.  Then I gently corrected my 8 year old about not helping unless someone had asked her to do so.
My 6 year old is used to his older siblings “helping” which isn’t always helping, you see.  Sometimes the helping causes fights because it takes away from someone learning to take ownership and the responsibility of behavior, actions, and choices.  I’m learning too! 
Finally, my 3 year old, having originally stood on the chair and had attached what looked to be a lone scoop of ice cream drawn on paper, proceeded to pay no attention to her high flying siblings and with great care and patience attached 3 more separate pieces of paper to the wall that were all part of her “ice cream cone.”   She was much more interested in talking about her work, such as telling me all the flavors and what they stood for, even though no one but her could really see it to appreciate it. 
I then chuckled to myself as I began to see yet another analogy….  I then asked why they were trying to attach them so high;   “so everyone could see what I drew” was the response.   The new interpretation was the higher, the better, the more value, etc.  My 6 year old even suggested he could hang his on the ceiling!  My three year old didn’t seem to care… she was just so happy to use scissors and blue sticky tac and have what she made acknowledged as an ice cream cone, although barely recognizable.
The original analogy is this:  mature believers can try to help yet really be hindering, all though done with good motivation and in love.  There are mature Christian believers who have a great witness and good works to display yet struggle tremendously with pride. 
There are also a multitude of believers who love Jesus out there, trying to do their best for Him in their own way but wouldn't necessarily win a great Christian of the year award or perhaps their theology is a bit off or they interpret something, gasp, differently then we do.  It's OK, God will make known to them the truth, just as He has made it know to you.  Be patient.
Then, there's the new believer who often doesn't seem to care what people think and sometimes look anything but Christian.  All though their hearts quite possibly are closer to God's because they care more about what He thinks.

We Christians are no different than these little children!  Why do we want our work or ministry to be the best or the right way?  What was the original assignment given to us by God?  None of my children were able to do the assignment the way that I’d asked them.  Originally it was supposed to have been a math assignment with numbers and separate cone scoops.  Ironically, the 3 year old came the closest to having done it correctly, although she just didn’t have the motor skills to make it look very real.  It wasn’t her fault, she’d listened the closest and done her best and was happy.  I was amazed.

Have any of us Christians actually even come close to doing God’s assignment right or completed it in any shape or form?  He has many… love your neighbor as yourself, love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, be ready in season and out of season to share the Word, train up your children, respect your husbands, love your wives, obey your parents, on and on it goes. 

How well have you completed your assignments?  You’ve been given gifts to help build up the church, have you used them selfishly or for the good of others?  We are all trying and are all in different stages.  Perhaps we should quit trying to help one another display our art and let God do the directing. 
Paul's prayer was that our love would, "abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (discernment); that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."  (Phil. 1:9-11)
God is the master artist, building in us, through us and for us a beautiful eternal home.  He applauds everyone’s efforts no matter what they look.  He acknowledges us as His own not because we deserve it but because He’s promised us salvation through Jesus Christ alone.  What a wonderful loving God we have!
Today, my little ice cream cone drawers have gone on to bigger things....easel painting in the bright sun... let's go out and see what they're up to now...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Our Alaskantonian Christmas

I just finished reading, “Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe,” by Todd Wilson.  Every homeschooling family has got to have a copy of this!  The purpose of this short, easy to read book is to help mom’s understand that there are no perfect families out there.  He encourages us to BE REAL.  We don’t have to do it all, be it all and look good all the same time.  No heavy burdens here, just a lot of great laughs.  Truly a fresh perspective on our day to day lives as we continue in our decision to educate our children at home.  I looked for a good quote to share but it’s all so good, how could I choose?  You'll have to read it yourself. 
Until then, enjoy some real photos and some real people doing real things...
I know its Feb. 4, but how could I resist sharing our Christmas with you?  After all we moved a week before (Christmas, that is) and we all know how a move throws everything off for a while.  Now, it's catch up time, including home school.  Yes, it's possible, don't worry if you've just moved, had a baby, undergone a remodeling project, or any other number of life changing events or possibly all 3 of the above...
Can we be done posing already?

I probably shouldn't be running with this hand saw....

And THIS is why!
 Lil' fireball almost wipes out with saw in hand; had it not been for his nimble toes doing the nimble dance!
When all else fails, use a chainsaw!

And hook up your Alaskan sled dog...

Unscripted, un posed and being real
We hope to continue sharing our REAL days with you all and we hope you'll enjoy following our strange mix of Alaska and Oregon life as it unfolds from day to day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Key to Life is not a Key

Look at all these uniquely shaped keys...
We bought the cutest piece of wall d├ęcor the other day….and useful too.  Someone glued various sizes and shapes of keys on the front of a wooden plaque.  Down along the edge, there were wooden pegs to hold your own sets of keys.  We hung it on our wall.  A few days went by, maybe even a week.  I glanced up from my position, sitting on the living room floor, and noticed the key plaque.  It clearly spelled the word KEYS.  What!!!  I thought they were just randomly placed objects.  They held a message with purpose!

In different light the word was clearly seen...
What is surrounding you and just under your own nose?  Each of us is like those keys.  God has placed people in our lives on purpose.  We all experience victories and failures.  Some of us wander what we believe to be aimlessly.  Some of us settle for a lifetime and never move.  Some head to the mission field.  Some stay at home, supporting.  Perhaps our lives look like lots of random choices, full of fortune and chance. 

Aspiring young chemist experimenting with silicone...
However, God is designing something beyond comprehension that includes all of us human beings from past to present.   My oldest son, who aspires to be a chemist, recently learned and created a few different polymers in the lab at George Fox University.  He came home and told me that human DNA is basically a polymer at the molecular level…..created and moldable.  If only our hearts and spirits could be the same…More info on DNA polymer

Teaching his siblings a mini science lesson at home...

Every time I see that plaque I think to myself, “How could I have not seen the word KEYS?”  Now I only see the word and not the randomness.  Some day the Bible tells us that “Every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”    The events taking place in our world today are not random and given to chance.  Nor are the people surrounding you day to day. 

God is creating and molding each one of us into something unique.  The Bible says He is preparing a place for us as well, for an eternity.  We don’t have to cram it all in this life.  A lot of our hopes, dreams, and desires can wait.  If there’s a lot of striving going on in your life, maybe you’re doing too much.  Perhaps you’ve lost your joy and gladness in the simple things.

 If there’s a lot of twiddling of thumbs in your life, maybe you’re not doing enough.  Ask God, He’ll direct you and knows best.  The more you love, the more love you have, the more you give, the more you can give, the more you serve, the easier it is to serve more.  I just read somewhere that you should ask a busy person to do a task because they will always find the time to do one more thing, while the person who has little to do may never find the time.  Ironic isn’t it?

Take a step back from your circumstances and look at them from a distance.  Be patient, something I struggle with immensely!  Perhaps you’ll find encouragement as you realize that God is using them to spell something beautiful in your life.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  Psalm 34:8 Trust Him, He alone is worthy.
I am in the process of sending out into the world, should the Lord tarry, a chemist, an artist, a writer, an editor, a home manager, maybe a politician or lawyer, a care giver, a nurse, a nutritionist, a metal worker, a librarian, and one happy lumber truck driver!  There may be more, who knows what they will become, but God does. 
For those of you Mom's and Dad's at home and in the workplace, this verse is for you: "The Lord gave the word:  great was the company of those that published it.  Kings of armies did flee apace:  and she that tarried at home divided the spoil."  (Psalm 68:11,12) Let's spread the news, there's glorious freedom in the Lord Jesus Christ and you can't have it any other way.
We don't have to do great things for the Lord, we just need to open our eyes to the things He's already doing.  We can stand back amazed and watch Him do His work, His way!