Monday, August 30, 2010

Where He Leads, I Will Follow

After my last post, I was SO encouraged by your many comments spurring me on and telling me I'm not alone!  Thank you so much for blessing me with all your wisdom and encouragements as I talked about my recent doubts in my ability to home-school while I battle morning sickness and as I figure out our homeschooling "style" in general. 

The Lord used you all to bring me back to some basic Truths that He's been walking me towards for a while now, but I keep straying because of the distractions that are brought on by my fears and worries.

I am SO thankful for His faithfulness and steadfastness in reassuring me and showing me the way even when I get myself lost time after time!


What He's been speaking to me, actually started this summer while I was home alone, vacuuming the house.  The Lord brought me specific direction for this school year... to study the 9 fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 by focusing on one "fruit" each month.

At that time, I took some mental notes and thought of some ways to incorporate that into my already planned out schedule...


But a few weeks later, when we found out we were pregnant, the doubts and worries, about homeschooling at all, started.  How can I home-school with so many distractions (the little kids, the morning sickness, etc)?  Will anything get accomplished this year?


The Lord spoke to me again by encouraging me to daily do what "school" I can, but focus mainly on the fruits of His  Spirit.  I was freshly excited about having my kids with me all day so that we can discuss minute by minute how to practice and live out each fruit we learn about--even if it's being taught from the living room couch!

So I did some specicif planning and decided to make the Fruits of the Spirit our main focus...

But as my morning sickness got worse and worse, the uncertainties crept back in yet again (thus, my last post).  I could hardly keep up with anything around the house and I was loosing my vision in all my doubting.  This was just not how I pictured it...I was so disappointed in myself and in my inability to "push through" and accomplish "by the books" education each day, let alone the extra effort I wanted to put into creatively presenting the Fruits of the Spirit to my kiddos.


But this weekend, He reeled me in once more and spoke to me about centering our home on the fruits of His Spirit(I'm SO thankful He hadn't given up on my by this point!)  I have now seen more than just His desire for my days, I have seen His vision for my days!  I am still feeling sick and tired, but I'm now full of joy and thankfulness that He was faithful to teach me and re-teach me about HIS will for this school year!

It will probably be lacking cute activities and colorful handouts for a while, but it will be rich with scripture and Truth from our own experiences in our home.


So as I look again into the first fruit of the Spirit (love) I am reminded that if I'm loving my kids in the Spirit, none of my efforts will fall short. (see more HERE).

BUT if I push a curriculum on us all, even when I'm sick and even when their hearts are needing something else, and we complete my perfectly planned school year, but I do it without Sprit-filled love, I am nothing but a "clanging symbol" and we "gain nothing" (1 Cor 13).


The Lord has now added to this vision by directing me to teach the boys a hymn each month that corresponds with the fruit we're learning. (Love-"O How I Love Jesus"; Joy-"Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee"; Peace-"Peace Like a River", etc).


As I was finding each "fruit's" hymn in my "Amazing Grace" book, the Lord brought it to mind to take it beyond just the hymn, and talk about the author of the hymn, the story behind the hymn and anything else I can find!


So suddenly, my mission to teach about the fruit of the Spirit turned from "just" a spiritual lesson to now include, music and history!


Then yesterday a friend who is getting rid of some books, had set aside a stack for me to look through...and there in the midst of the books was this one:


I was so blessed by the Lord's purposeful ways to get my attention and say, "You're doing well...keep it up...and here's a little extra help..."


Now, on days I feel well, we are still following the plan to complete the original plan ("My Fathers World Kindergarten" for Trusten and "Handwriting Without Tears" for Brahm).  Thankfully though, they already know beyond what is being expected of their ages, so skipping a day here and there in our week hasn't slowed down our pace yet!


My goal right now in our homeschooling isn't my daily planner anymore (Praise God!) it's in teaching and practicing loving my boys in and by the Spirit...


And when I begin to doubt myself, I'm disciplining myself to give thanks for realizing how I was making it about me, and freshly turn my eyes to the Lord for help!


God is so faithful to quiet our storms (even the storms WE create), quiet our doubts and come to our aide...He loves to help His children!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Honest Thoughts (and Doubts) On Homeschooling and My Shortcomings...

Right about now, I'm feeling very incapable.

Not only am I struggling with morning sickness and fatigue, I'm also struggling to figure out how homeschooling looks for our family.

Just about every other day this week, I've been doubting our decision to homeschool.  I constantly feel like I am seconds away from vomiting, which makes teaching and reading pretty challenging...this means I'm usually either rushing through or skipping over stuff.

The doubts come from fear.  I know those aren't from the Lord...He has made clear to us His desire for us is schooling at home...even though someday that may change.

But I think my biggest struggle right now is just figuring out our homeschooling style...and not having the energy I need to apply some creativity to figure it out!

In a lot of ways, I think the whole whopping year I was an "education major" at my Christian college did me more harm than good.  Even though my college education was Christian-based, there was NO shortage of worldly indoctrination about "why kids learn so well and thrive in a classroom".

I know that's not true...I do~ESPECIALLY with boys. 

Still, I let their indoctrination seep into my thinking and now I can't let go of the guilty feelings that my kids need to be sitting still at a desk, learning from "the books" and having a classroom setting replicated in my home.

But I am NOT homeschooling to create a classroom atmosphere at home!  I am homeschooling so that each of my kids can thrive in their own, unique, God-given learning styles where they are NOT hindered, held back or confined by a classroom.

Trusten and I doing school on the front porch late in the evening...
Talk about "unconventional"! 


 I've been loving reading these two posts lately (and looking forward for the other ones to come)...they really inspire and comfort me...

So why can't I let go of this "picture" I had of a traditional school setting in my home???

Why can't I stop thinking their learning has to be from 9am-noon???

Why am I trying SO hard to fit a mold that simply does NOT fit our family???

I am learning...

I am growing...

I am opening my mind to the Lord's plan for our homeschooling...

I am falling freshly on the homeschool vision that the Lord gave us at the beginning of this year, and crying out for more understanding!

I am trying to let go of my ideas and indoctrination of what "education" should look like...and I am excited to find out what the result looks like for our family!

Proverbs has so much wisdom for me...I think I'll start there!

And then maybe re-read this, and this

And before it's all said and done, I'll just trust His path and find rest in the this Truth...

Isaiah 54:13 
"All your children shall be taught by the Lord,

And great shall be the peace of your children."

Friday, August 27, 2010

While Mommy Is Down And Out...

I always struggle with morning sickness in my first trimester.  This time around, though, it seems to be worse than my last few pregnancies (however, my pregnancy with Trusten is still the worst, hands down)!

But don't worry about me too much, 
I've been well-entertained...

I've been serenaded by a Jedi Knight~

video

I've been amused by a novice gymnast~
video


I've been captivated by a backstage pass to watch Toby Mac's newest back-up dancers~
video


And the kids are having fun too!

They've been...
Lounging in their jammies...

Making new forts...

Snacking on Mommys saltines...

And bypassing potty-training...

Can it GET any better folks?!   :)

So right now in this season of morning sickness, we're doing our best to survive enjoy the laid-back pace of our life!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Loving My Children In the Spirit

Lately I've been convicted about how pron I am to love my children in the flesh--not in the Spirit.

Don't get me wrong, my fleshly love is abundant and rich, but it is also full of flaws and selfishness.

Since I've decided to go through the fruits of the Spirit with my kids this year...we are looking at LOVE this month.  I have personally been SO challenged by 1 Corinthians 13, as it takes on a whole new light as I apply it to my mothering.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When loving from the flesh, I often rejoice when my kids do things in my perfect timing and by my most ideal standards.  But when they fall short of this,  Patience is greatly lacking.

I'm also loving them in the flesh when I flaunt their academic successes because it makes me look better to those watching from the outside.  It is not true, Spirit-filled love when  Pride and Boastfulness motivate me to brag on their accomplishments.

I love them in the flesh when I look with Envy upon what other moms are doing and attempt to replicate that in my home not for their well-being, but just in hopes that I will be a "better mom" like so-and-so.  

I am often Easily Angered and Rude when I have an agenda and my kids slow me down.  I usually scold them saying how "momma loves you, but..." and then gripe about how long they are taking and how late this is going to make momma.  But Spirit-filled love is always Kind.

I am loving them in the flesh when I want to get away from it all and use the excuse that "I need a break so I can be a better mommy".  Love is never Self-Seeking.

Loving them in the flesh happens when I am trying to teach them a lesson, and though I have forgiven a wrong of theirs, I bring it up by saying "You always..." because Spirit-filled love Keeps No Record Of Wrongs.

Because I know that Christ-like love does Not Delight in Evil, when they do something "cute" yet sinful (like the first dramatic display of passion~ also known as a tantrum), I am loving them in the flesh when I giggle or simply do not address it.

Or when I let them be entertained by worldly things that blatantly contradict the Truth found in scripture, I am not loving them in the Spirit because love Rejoices with the Truth.

Thankfully, when it comes to loving my children in the Spirit, the rest does come a little more naturally to me although there is some fleshly, "momma bear" tendencies that tend to take over from time to time...

"Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails."
(1 Corinthians 13)

Lord, help me to love these kids, YOUR kids, 
















in the Spirit...not in my weak, self-centered flesh because by your Spirit, I am a better momma and a better steward.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Purging of STUFF

Our house has been undergoing a serious "purging" over the last 2 weeks. We just have so much, STUFF, you know? Just stuff...it's everywhere, I look!  Stuff, Stuff, STUFF.


We live in smaller home (for our family size) and we often talk about how we wished we had more room.  But, the simple truth is, we do have room...it's just that STUFF is taking up all our room!

Finally, after a late night talk, Ryan and I got serious.  The next day, we went into "purge" mode and decided to "half our stuff".

This wasn't just casual "Spring cleaning", this was serious, no emotions, "just let it go" cleaning like we'd never done before.

My first spark of inspiration came from my friend Amy, at Raising Arrows, who has been blogging every Saturday as she "halves her stuff" room by room.  Well, we caught onto her vision about 3 months late, but caught up in two weeks!

~~So what'd we do?

Well, first of all, we decided to "practice what we preach".

You see, one of my boys is always saying, "But I need..." 
To which I always say (and now he quotes...), "No, that's what you want.  What you need is air, shelter, sleep, clothing, food, water and Jesus."

So, we simply stopped riding the fence on certain toys, clothes that we've hung onto that get worn too infrequently, books we'll never read again, etc.  And we even took it a step further...

We took a spin on the Amish saying for clothing:
"One for wash, One for wear,
One for play and One to spare"

We have tubs full of cute outfits and matching accessories.  But being a practical momma, I usually gravitate for clothes that can be mixed and matched.  Simple, solid, practical

So, we accumulated 15 trash sacks of clothes as we took each age's "tub" and simplified to 7 play outfits, 5 dress outfits and 4 pajamas for both winter and summer.

Yes, those 15 trash sacks sat on our front porch for a few days...
I'm sure our poor, sweet neighbors were less than thrilled!

And let me tell ya...

It felt SO good to condense all our STUFF we had in storage, down to half of what it was before!

Around the house, we literally went room by room and just started throwing stuff into boxes.  We don't use it?... we don't need it.  Can't remember the last time we touched it?...we don't need it.  Etc.

~~The hard part
We had to resolve to not let our my emotions get too involved.  My love language is gifts, so I remember almost every item, who gave it to us, if it's clothes~when a certain kid wore it...and on and on.

Plus, I kept struggling with the thought that we were being ungrateful for all the blessings we had recieved.  But the Lord kept reminding me that people gave us these things to bless us, and if they are no longer a blessing (but a burden, taking up space we need) then it was time to let them go.

So I had to "put on my brave face" and just think practically...which is not an easy endeavor for me!

~~The fun part
Some people don't think of garage sales as very much fun...but I do!!!  We had a one-day yard sale.  I put an ad in the paper and 2 simple, paper signs up on busier streets and set our stuff out.

I went for SIMPLE pricing.  All clothes, all shoes $.50We weren't out to make money, so I priced low in hopes that more would get purchased!  And it WORKED!!!

Almost all the toys/decor were $.50-$1.00

Books, VHS tapes, DVD's and CD's were $.25 (I told you I wasn't in it for the money...I wanted to get RID of this stuff!)

We had four "big" items (a TV, an old laptop, a DVD player and a camera) but everything else was small "piddley" stuff.

And guess what?  We made almost $800 dollars in those 6 hours!!!

Pricing low was worth it (pun intended!) and now we are a lighter, happier home with more room to run, play and prepare to GROW even more!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thank you, but NO "Thank You"

I used to keep a box with all the old cards I would receive from friends.  In college, that box turned into 2 boxes.  Then in our early married life, it turned into a medium-sized tub...


I had a lot of cards!  Most of them were "thank-you's".


During the season of friends having weddings every weekend and then friends having babies every month...


I acquired a lot of "thank you" cards!


I decided in our first move as a married couple to throw away most of my "thank you" cards I had received.


That was a hard decision for me.  I knew people had spent precious time on those cards, spent money on the postage and were truly grateful for the gift I sent, or the food I delivered.


But I had to do it.  I had to get rid of the cards I would probably never look through.  I had to simplify the "clutter"!  And, after all, I knew they were thankful, I didn't need a card to remind myself of that!


What do you do with your "thank you" cards?


Well, I get very few "thank you's" anymore, because of my new policy...my new "shower gift".


In fact, I'm kinda known for it now...


Along with any gift I give or any meal I deliver is a verbal warning (or a note) saying,


"and please, NO THANK YOU CARDInstead, use the time you would spend writing me a card, to cuddle your new baby a little longer or fix a special dessert for your new husband or...(the list goes on)."


I don't need thank-yous.  I know people are thankful...I've been there--I know how thankful you are to get a new sleeper for a new baby or to get a meal after a long, hard day, etc.


Trust me, I know what a blessing those things can be...I've had 4 kids within 6 years.  I know how treasured those acts of kindness ares...but I also know the TIME it takes to write thank you notes!


So... don't spend time sending me a thank you...use that time to enjoy your family and I won't have to feel bad about throwing away your card :)


(Don't worry, I still keep some though!  I know "cards" are some peoples love languages...I know who those friends of mine are, so I keep those because they are full of memories and love for me!)

Linked to:works for me wednesday at we are that family

Monday, August 16, 2010

I know, I know...

I haven't been blogging much lately...it's a mixture between us being super busy, school starting and me being exhausted from it all!

I thought in lieu of a new post, I'd just send you to two really good posts I've read recently at my friend Amy's blog...

Her two latest entries have been too good NOT to share!

So I hope you take some time to head over and enjoy both of these:



Good stuff!!!  Enjoy and if you want, leave your thoughts over here and over at Amy's!

Happy blogging!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Let the Little Children Come To Me...

"We were holding back our son's child-like faith, because of our adult-like doubt"

Just over a year ago, our oldest son asked Jesus into his life to be Lord of all. 

It was such an exciting day!  We rejoiced at this new work the Lord was doing in our son's heart and we knew that this was just the beginning of our son growing in knowledge and understanding of sanctification and justification.

At that time we talked to him about the importance of baptism once you make that commitment because baptism is a way to say to the Lord, the enemy and the church that, "I belong to Jesus!  He is my Lord and Savior!"

However, to be honest, Ryan and I's desire was that Trusten wait until he was older and had a fuller understanding of the cross and the gospel (even baptism) before he took that next step.

Well, this week at our church, there was to be a baptism service and Trusten caught wind of it.

One night during family worship he said, "maybe I should be baptized".

We said something along the lines of "sure, someday buddy, when you're a little older..."

But over the next few days he just wouldn't let it go. He wanted to be baptized.  He knew it was the next step of obeidence and he wanted to obey.

Ryan and I were hesitant, but then the Lord spoke to both of us the night of the service and said, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Mark 10:14).We realized we were holding back our son's child-like faith because of our adult-like doubt.

So that very night, Wednesday, August 4th, Trusten was baptized with water and took a step of faith into being a disciple of the Lord Jesus!


Getting ready to be "dunked", Ryan said, "I baptize you, my son and my brother, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit"
Right after he came out of the water he said, "I DID IT!"
He knew he had been obedient to the Lord's calling!

There is no explaining the sheer joy Trusten had after service...
It wasn't hyperness, it wasn't a sugar-rush, it was the work of the Spirit!

Thankful for our Trusten...and that in the end, we didn't get in the way of his response to the Lord's call to come to Him and be baptized.
We fell asleep that night asking ourselves,
"Why is it that we tell adults all the time to have child-like faith, but when a child has child-like faith, we try to 'reason' them out of it?"

This post is linked to Wednesday's Walk at my friend, Jenilee's blog!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our School Room! (and a fellow homeschoolers giveaway!)

Our "school room" is in a rectangle area in our dining room.  Thankfully, it's a fairly large room, so there is plenty of space to have not only our dining room table, but also our school table and accessories...

(I took these pictures well before we started school, I have much more up now)

Our dining room (it continues over to the left with my desk and bookshelf,
 but it wouldn't fit in the picture!)

A closer look at the left side of the school rectangle area...
(My dry-erase board, our calendar, their dry-erase board and their table)

Our school drawers and globe

The bookshelf (but now the top shelf looks like this...)
And this is my desk to the right of the bookshelf and doorway (this is an OLD picture, but it'll do!)
Photobucket


This post is linked to Heart of the Matter's NOT Back To School Blog Hop!

Also, be sure to head over to Amy at Raising Arrows...an amazing homeschooling momma...she's having a great giveaway for natural lotions and a lip balm!  See HERE for more info!

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Pride Of Super" and Heading Home! (Vacation Part 7)

Coming and going, Liberty did SO good in the car...

Ryan said you can tell she's my daughter, because she always has her legs in some "Gumby" postion!

Most of the time, she relaxed just like this...

And slept like that too!

So, we drove from Kentucky to St Louis where we planned on finding a hotel. (Sound familiar?)

Obviously, we didn't learn our lesson from the first day of our trip and just figured we'd find a hotel on the road.

After all, what were the chances that American Idol would be in the same town as us the very next weekend?

But the hotels in St Louis were full.  ALL FULL.

Only this time, it wasn't American Idol, instead it was some mid-states baseball tournament along with about a dozen different conferences.

"No big deal" we thought.  "Let's just drive onto the outskirt cities and we'll find a place in one of those towns."

Then it began POURING rain.  We were having to drive about 20mph because the rain was coming down so heavy and there was VERY little visability.

All the hotels on the out-skirt towns were filling up fast because weary travelers were trying to escape the rain and wait it out while they slept.

We ended up driving around looking for a hotel for about 3 hours!  We were all EXHAUSTED, especially our hubbys-the drivers!

This is around 1am, driving from hotel to hotel.

Which eventually turned into this:

We finally found a hotel with vacancy at 3:30am (notice the car clock in the next picture)

Normally, someone couldn't have paid me to stay in a hotel like this, but we were all half-asleep as it was and just thankful for shelter!

I was so releaved to see Ryan walk out of hotel with a thumbs up! 

3:35am
It was the type of hotel where...

~~you couldn't really understand the front desk workers (also the owners) but they seemed okay with the fact we had one family with 7 people to a room and another family with 6 people to a room.
~~the comforters in the room didn't match
~~you wanted to wear your shoes at ALL times
~~and you want to cover as much of your skin as possible while sleeping so as little of your skin as possible touched the bed.

BUT it was a bed.  And we were honestly thankful!  Especially since Ryan and Chad were having trouble staying awake there towards the end!

We woke up the next morning and noticed the hotel sign out front:
"Super-Super Clean.  Pride of Super"

Dear RodeWay Inn, I'll admit that I'm not really sure what "Pride of Super" means, yet even so, I think I have to disagree with that claim.

Breakfast at Hardee's before hitting the road...

Our sweet little crew...

We had not a single "hiccup" the whole way until we were about 20 miles away from home.

Ryan pulled up close to a horse trailer and started talking like "Mr. Ed" to the horse inside.

He was entertaining the boys (and me!) with his voices when BAM!  Something flew up from the trailer and hit the windsheild.

I was laughing too hard at Ryan's "Mr Ed" impression to even care...but Ryan was frustrated that just 20 miles from home we had our first tradgedy!

So no, that's not a bird or an airplane you see in the picture, it's a crack...

Thankfully, this was probably the worst thing that happened the whole trip. 

Over this week and a half, we made some wonderful memories and had such great family time!  I'll remember this vacation forever...I hope the boys will at least remember bits and pieces!  I'm so thankful for pictures to remind them of our adventures!!!

Thanks for joining me for these looks back on our awesome vacation!!!

I'm sure we have more adventures ahead of us...just around the corner!!!

So be sure to stay tuned!  There is rarely a dull moment where the Wheelers are concerned!!!
 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Making Sweet Cereal A Little Healthier

My husband and I love sweet cereal!  As a result, so do our kids!

Over the years, we've spoiled ourselves (and our kids) with a pantry full of delicious, sweet cereal choices for the morning (and for late-night snacking)!

Well, Since Ryan and I have started eating healthier (remember my posts of losing 30 lbs?) we've learned to enjoy some new breakfast choices (like Mini-Wheats!) but, still, we have a weakness for the sweet, kids cereals.

So here's what we've done to make them a little healthier as we wean the kids (and ourselves) off of them!

Mixing Trix and Kix
We bought a couple of these plastic cereal boxes at WalMart ($5)
We mix a full box of Trix with a full box of Kix (both are off-brand)
This is just a small portion of the finished product, but as you can see,
it's still colorful enough to trick please the kiddos!

The Key: Each time you mix the cereal,
add less and less of the "sweet" cereal...
next thing you know, your family is weaned!!!  :)

We have also mixed Cocoa Puffs with Kix...it's pretty tasty, actually!


We do the same with Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes

We also have two of these smaller boxes (WalMart $2.50) for mixing...
1) Honey Nut Cheerios and plain Cheerios
2) Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and plain Cheerios

(Since Cheerios are pretty healthy, all-in-all, we've kept this mixture even and don't plan to "wean" off of the sweeter cereal here...instead, it just makes them even healthier!)
It works for us!

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday and Real Clean Wednesday!

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