December 14, 2010

Katie's Obituary

Katie died this morning.  She was killed in her house by the Wild Beast.  Apparently the Wild Beast "eated her and never spit her out.  Her wand went out of batteries" leaving her defenseless.  When questioned, Katie's mother said she "was busy talking on the phone while all of this happened."  Katie is now in heaven and there is no hope of bringing her back to life.

Katie is survived by her loyal friend, Mattison, her 12 siblings and 40 other friends.  Katie is most well known for bringing 11 of her 12 siblings back to life after this same wild beast chopped them up into little pieces several months ago.  Katie has brought much joy to Mattison's life, and her family is quite interested to see how this will all pan out!  Mattie did say she was sure to send an e-mail apology to Katie's mother.

Mattie does have a new sister, Sarah, who may fill this void.  Sarah is known to "love everybody in the whole wide world except bad guys.  She didn't like [Mattie] at first, but now she does."

For more information on Katie, feel free to read past accounts here and here.  She has been a large part of our life for two years now!  Mattie was actually crying this morning upon hearing the news, leaving her mother a bit at a loss as to how to handle this new development.

December 11, 2010

My boy is growing up.

Jacob does not have the "I can do it myself" gene. Not one ounce of it anywhere in his body.  I'm fairly certain he would be happy for me to do ev-er-y-thing for him forever.  

So following perfect Jacob form, he also had no interest in tying his shoes.  Combine this with the personality characteristic that does "not like to try if I can't do it perfectly the first time," and you don't have a very enthusiastic child about shoe tying!  But alas, he learned in just two days!

Jacob also loves colorful things.  His bedroom has colorful stripes and red walls.  He loves things that are primary colors and tie dye.  And has asked before why only girls get to wear colorful shoes and boys' have to be brown and gray and dull.

He's also been working hard at changing a lot of things lately, and I thought he could use some tangible encouragement.

So I decided it was high time the boy got some red shoes now that he can tie them himself.
And his mama is a sucker for Chuck Taylors and blue jeans on a little boy.

Love those big boy feet!

December 10, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave me a link to yours and then head over to SouleMama and leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for others to find and see. 

December 08, 2010

Bible in 90 Days

Well, I'm in.  I've made the commitment and made it publicly!  I'm going to read the Bible through in its entirety in ninety days beginning January 3, 2011.  Here is an official website that shares all about the ministry's roots.

For a while now I've wanted to read all the way through the Bible again, but when I don't have a plan I seem to just wander aimlessly.  I've prayed about joining in on one of the Bible in 90 Days groups, but wanted to be ready for the commitment so I could fulfill it. 

I'm going to be reading through with other people, having a mentor/encourager and blogging to share what I'm learning.  If you go to Mom's Toolbox you can get connected in this way too.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the Bible as a whole instead of just lots of little pieces.  I'm looking forward to this amount of time in His word.  And I'm looking forward to the change His word will have in my heart!  I can't possibly spend this much time in His word without some sort of change for the better, right?

I'd love to have you join me!  I think it's good for all of us to have encouragement when we take on a big task.  Let me know if you pray about it and want to join in! 

Our first snow!

"It snowed, Mom!!


It was minimal, but it was enough to scrape together some snow-handfuls

and sled a few times... as long as you didn't choose the same path twice!

It was certainly enough to bring joy!

December 04, 2010

The Battle

The kids have been setting up this battle in the basement for a couple of days now.  Jacob built the city walls and they both keep adding reinforcements and changing the situation.

So today was the day the battle was to occur.  Notice the two babies providing security on the East wall!  Only Mattie kept putting him off and saying she wanted to add one more thing... then another...   Then I heard Jacob getting very frustrated at her procrastination.  (Understandably, as she was definitely dragging it out.)  I asked Jacob why he was so frustrated and with a straight face and an exasperated voice he said, "We're building an ice skating rink because she says she has to train her soldiers to ice skate before we do that battle so they'll fight better.  The horses too!  ICE SKATE!!" 

Oh, my imaginative girl!  I am still laughing.  We can't help but love her.

In case anyone cares, I did set the time to begin and Jacob's mutant Bionicles obliterated the city.  I guess the East wall babies needed a few more ice skating lessons.

December 02, 2010

Do you like it?

So I know there's really no point in having a cute blog if one never posts on it, but just humor me!  I have several things to post about, but they will be big, long posts that require a lot of focus and energy, and I haven't had the time to put into them.  But there are great things happening in our house, and I can't wait to share them!  They are affording me a lot more free time and emotional energy!  But I digress... So in June I got this Scrapbooking software with high hopes, but have only done two small projects for a friend so far.  I realized I could make my own perfectly unique collage for our Christmas card this year!  So like a terribly irresponsible parent, I stayed up until almost 3:00 last night playing with it and ended up with this really cute card, but couldn't find any place that would print it for less than 80 cents per print.  (I thought all of the sites that had 4x8 cards would print it with no problem, but that's not the case, apparently.)  So that's just more than I'm going to spend on Christmas cards.  I found a different site where I could upload my own creation, re-did it and then realized this one is the perfect size for a happy header!  So here it is!  (If you're on a feed reader you've got to come see it.)  I've so enjoyed playing with this software and making this.  Almost as much as I've enjoyed decorating my house this week for Christmas! 

I love going through my boxes of familiar things.  Christmas decorations have always been a favorite of mine, I think because with all of our moving, they were consistent.  The red eyelet tree skirt has always been the same, the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas cassette, the angel at the top of the tree (and a really funny had-to-be-there story about the year her lights died and we rigged her up to work), our stockings that our grandmother made, the ceramic nativity set, the cardboard my grandpa used to wrap the Christmas lights around...  I don't even use it anymore but it's in the bottom of my box because it has his handwriting on it, and I can't bear to pitch it.  All of those things remind me that tradition offers us security and identity. I love that my kids already have these things that they look forward to.  We are keeping some of the traditions I want to savor, shaping them into a good fit for our family, and beginning some new traditions of our own.  And I hope I'm building a solid foundation of love and security in my children that they will want to relish each December.

I'm thankful for the changes around here.  They have come none too soon and have enabled us to slow down and enjoy this season of waiting.  For school each day we're doing math, language arts, piano practice, a creative activity and then just reading together on the couch.  We have so needed this time!   Some intentional reconnection opportunities and moments for the kids and I to like each other again after a hard season, and God is giving us those in abundance.  I'm so thankful.

November 12, 2010

It wasn't about me / It really will

Robert took me to "A Night with the Chapmans" last night.  He knows I have loved Steven Curtis' latest CD, Beauty Will Rise, and offered to take me.  (He doesn't really like concerts, so this was totally for my sake.  He's a good man!)  It was quite a thoughtful evening for me.  Beauty Will Rise is a project that was written in the midst of their family's journey of healing after the tragic loss of their four year old daughter.

It wasn't about me ~
As I sat there listening the songs about pain, heartache, trust, and faith I wept.  I know these songs well, and they almost always bring tears.  I was singing along, weeping at the truths of goodness woven in.  I was weeping for a sweet young friend hurting desperately as she is just in the beginning of the heartwrenching pain of infertility.  And I was weeping for a couple I know well who is still in the ashes of marital unfaithfulness, but knowing there is hope. 

Then I had a very odd thought.  I realized I wasn't weeping for me.  I was crying as I thought of the pain I know the pain of infertility well, but I wasn't crying for me.  And frankly, I was just kind of thankful, because I wasn't sure it would ever really hurt any less.

It really will  ~
A little over two years ago the Lord led me to study the different names and attributes of God with Jacob.  I felt in particular I was supposed to study that He is our Healer.  I learned quickly the study wasn't for Jacob at all... it was for me.  He was preparing me to be steadfast in my conviction that He is Jehovah-Rapha... He is our healer.

Within a month of studying this, I was all too close (though not in my own marriage) to the horrific pain and heartache caused by marital unfaithfulness.  The study wasn't for Jacob at all. It was for his mama.

I bought the Beauty will Rise CD for this woman, as I'd loved it and cried through it a lot of times!  It has such a message of hope I wanted to share.  I don't even know if she has ever to listened to it, but I pray this hope over the situation regularly.  It's been a long time, and it seemed like healing was nowhere close, like it was stalled, like it was just stuffed deep in a bag that no one would look hard enough for.  I want the healing for them so badly, but I can't make it happen.  All I can do is pray.

Then the Lord made a big connection in my mind... I've been encouraging them to dig in, keep fighting through it, don't let it go stuffed away.  I've been sad as I watch the pain rob days of joy, energy and hope and rob relationships of depth and growth.  Sad for their sake and for mine.  But it wasn't lost on me that last night, at the same time I arrived at the concert that would speak to issues of hurt, loss, hope and healing, they were attending their first counseling appointment at a new counselor in over a year... one I've pushed for and prayed for a very long time.  And I don't know if they needed the reminder at all, but I did.  God saw my need, my discouragement and sadness and was thoughtful enough to put both events at the same time.  He just loves me that way.


October 08, 2010

Rockin' Robots!

We've had a great couple of weeks learning about robots with our Download n Go.  All of use have enjoyed all the robots videos we've seen, and more than once I've seen Jacob getting books out of the library bag to learn more!

Here's what you'll study when you do Rockin' Robots:
Day 1: What Is a Robot?
Day 2: The History of Robots
Day 3: People and Places of Robots
Day 4: Science Secrets of Robots
Day 5: Goodies and Gadgets of Robots

My kids thoroughly enjoyed developing their own tooth brushing robot, though Mattie decided hers would actually stand on the tips of her toes and be a dancing ballerina robot - that did all of her chores!

There is a lot offered in this unit that we didn't even get to.  I'm finding if we watch all of the videos and links on each page, there is really no way we can do an entire day's offerings in one day (not if we're doing any other school anyway).  And if we do too much with the videos and links we've definitely run out of focusing energy to do lapbooking components.  

The best part is that DownloadnGos are all about fitting into our  family school routine!  So we can keep tweaking until we find the way it best works for us: stretching the unit to two weeks, choosing certain topics to study and other topics to skip, delving into some concepts with discussion only and not doing anything written, etc.  There are endless options, really!

October 05, 2010

Happy Birthday DNG!

DNG is having a birthday!  And in order to celebrate, there are contests and specials offered all week on their blog.

Click HERE to register for a chance to win a pound of fudge!!

Click HERE to check out the daily specials.  Remember to check out the specials each day so you don't miss any! Today's special includes Birthday Bonanza - not available for individual purchase - for FREE!

All contests and specials end Saturday, October 9th.

September 21, 2010

Our Re-vamping Week

Jacob and I have had a terrible few weeks of school lately. He is off his ADHD medicine (which helps him tremendously), because it was setting off psoriasis. This is so discouraging to me! He has so much more trouble with everything when he's not getting the help of his medicine, yet the medicine causes him more trouble so he can't have it.

But we had a little meeting late last week so I could get his perspective on things and change what I needed to change in order for us to survive our school day. We started off with "I just don't like anything about it" and ended up with "I guess it's just grammar (Rod and Staff) I really don't like. Let's just keep doing the rest of it the way we've been doing it." Hmmm... I guess grammar pretty bad!! Basically, he hates having to put pencil to paper in busywork. All the rest is perfectly acceptable to him.

So I've ordered a different curriculum that will require much less writing but still allow him to learn some grammar skills. We'll pick this book up again later. But another thing that came out of our conversation was that he'd like to write on a blog! Who knew?

So we sat down a day or two later and set it all up. He chose everything about it. I'll make it private later if I see the need, but thought I'd leave it open at first for you guys to look at it. He's asked to write on it every day and seems to really enjoy it! And because it doesn't involve erasing, he's correcting his own stuff! I do have him read it out loud to see if it reads like he'd like it to (because he's very good at noticing punctuation in the written word and reading it appropriately - he corrects me when I read and don't acknowledge the comma appropriately), and we talk about how he can change things. But I'm not standing over his shoulder pointing things out.

The fun part is that he enjoys it and he's writing! He wrote one post yesterday that was a classic "narration" activity (restating what he read in order to demonstrate understanding about it - a Charlotte Mason staple) and I didn't even tell him too. He's asking to do it as opposed to the other way around.

So without further ado, "Moving at the Speed of Light."

And yes, I did laugh at the title he chose! It could not be more appropriate!

If you look at it and like it, he'd love it if you'd take a minute to leave him a comment. Quite frankly, I like that too!

September 19, 2010

Florida 2010

We once again thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Florida.  This is a trip we've done every year with my parents and sister for 6 years now, but Robert joined us for the first time this year!  We had a great time, and it was fun to have him along to experience all we've talked about for so long.

We intended to go home by way of Pensacola to visit Robert's grandparents for the weekend, but a few days into the trip, his grandfather passed away after a long illness.  We were sad to see him go, but did enjoy all the family we got to see (I was meeting some for the first time!) for the funeral. We also had to stay in a beach condo (instead of at his grandparents' house like we were planning) so we got a couple of extra days on the beach we weren't expecting!  Pensacola Beach is so beautiful! 

The kids thoroughly enjoyed the water this year, pool and gulf!  They swam like champs, and Mattie took a beating in the waves, getting up and heading right back out every time. Guess that's why she ended up with a bad case of Swimmer's Ear.  Jacob was not so adventurous, but was fine as long as he had his goggles on.  Lol!

Here are some photos of our trip.  When you get to the alien house, check out the little guy at the door!

I am. and He is.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega,"
says the Lord God, 
"the One who is,
who was,
and who is coming,
the Almighty."
Revelation 1:8

"They said with a loud voice: 
The Lamb who was slaughtered 
is worthy to receive  
power and  
riches and  
wisdom and  
strength and  
honor and  
glory and  
Revelation 5:12

September 18, 2010

Autumn Treasures!

Fall is coming!  It's coming slowly here, but I believe it's coming. :)  And in anticipation of it, we did the  Autumn Treasures Download and Go for our schooling this week.

What is a Download and Go (DNG)?  In short, it is an e-book series that blends unit studies and lapbooking all in one printable product!  You choose which activities are right for your family and you're ready to go!  They've included videos, lapbooking activities, copywork opportunities, vocabulary/spelling words, a suggested book list for additional reading, family fun activities, and more!  This is our fourth DNG (I think) and we've enjoyed them all for different reasons.

Here's what you'll explore when you jump in with Autumn Treasures:
Day 1: What is Autumn?
Day 2: Science Secrets of Autumn
Day 3: People and Places of Autumn
Day 4: Time for Tips and Treasures of Autumn
Day 5: Goodies and Gadgets of Autumn

I have to say, this was a different sort of school week for us, so it was good to have this unit to fit in without any preparation as we were revamping a few things, but we did a bare bones sort of week, so I didn't have anything to photograph.  And because Autumn is something we've studied seasonally for several years now, I wasn't sure if this would be anything new for us.  But I was not disappointed!  

We enjoyed:
- talking about the Earth's tilt and rotation and the connection to our seasons.
- reviewing hibernation and migration in context of the correct season.
- the science behind how and why leaves change color.

And because fall is just creeping in by way of cooler nights, we weren't able to get out and enjoy the nature walk and perfect journaling pages offered, but certainly would have if it were the right time for us!

One other great feature of these units is that there are printables/activites at Mattie's level (pre-k) and Jacob's level (4th grade), so we can enjoy it together!  Mattie loves getting to do "school" and I love having her included without any more work on my part!  (I would say the average "perfect" age for these studies is K-2nd grade.)

See how other families explored Autumn Treasures here!  And purchase it here before September 24 to enjoy the Autumn Equinox special price of 20% off!

Disclosure: I have been provided a copy of Autumn Treasure DNG free of charge in exchange for my honest review. 

September 14, 2010

Salamander Room

We finally  rowed Salamander Room!  This is a book I've wanted to do for three years, but each time it is planned the week before I go to the beach and has never actually happened.  This year I finally learned the lesson about my poor planning and was determined to get it done.  I knew Jacob would be too old for it next year.   It also fit in perfectly with our camping weekend in the Smokies!

We started the week with our field trip: salamander hunting!  Did you know the the Great Smoky Mountains are the salamander capital of the world?  Thankfully, we had Robert with us to help us catch the little slimy buggars.  I will say, I did catch one and I was quite proud of it.

Of course, Mattie was all over this.  She loves to dig in the dirt, play in the water and carry around live things some of us don't care to touch.

All of the ones we caught were Dusky Salamanders.

They must have all been at the same part in their life cycle, because they were all about 3 inches long.

It's always more fun with Daddy!

(Um, how did he get so big?)

Mattie has always tagged along for our reading time, but she's been joining us with some work lately in school. She loves to copy words, cut, color and of course, glue (things her brother would prefer to avoid at all costs).   

Jacob preferred to record his salamander info this way.  It was a report of sorts, and he did a great job on it! (Thanks for both of those printables!)

There is another FIAR blogging mom who has her kids copy the illustrations sometimes.  I've never done this before, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Jacob complained and thought his was horrible, but I think he did a great job!

I was pretty shocked at Mattie's!  I know she's no Monet or anything, but I thought she did a good job noticing the details in the illustration and making an attempt.

We finished by creating and painting clay salamanders!

August 24, 2010

There are no words.

We have so. much.

Lord, come quickly!

There's nothing else to say.

August 08, 2010

Joni and Friends Camp 2010

Well, I had another fantastic year at camp!  This whole post is just 5 days worth of  my "moments of joy."
This time was very different, as you know.  I was teaching in the children's program, so I did not have one person as a buddy.  This made it different of course.  I spent a lot of time in leadership meetings and doing planning and decorating where I would have otherwise been out involved with a family.  So I kind of felt like I missed a lot.  But there were two plusses: 1) not having a buddy enabled me to take Jacob along so I could fix his food at each meal, and 2) I was able to sit wherever I chose at most meals, so I could visit with all the families from our church (there were about 40 people all together this year!) and build some relationships that I'd take home with me.  They already asked me if I'd do it again next year, and I have in mind to take Mattie as well, so I guess I'm "stuck" teaching.  :)  (I do love the actual teaching part.)  

Here are a whole bunch of random photos that will help you have the feel of camp.  But you know, you really ought to just be there with me!!  Just for some background, we were "traveling" in a hot air balloon around the world, with the theme being basically that God could do more than we ever can imagine in our lives.
This is our hilarious entertainment, JJ...J and Heinrich von Hindenburg, a balloonist in training and a professional balloonist now educating.  At this moment they are singing a song designed to teach us the parts of a hot air balloon (to the tune of head, shoulders, knees and toes), sung with a bad German accent:
Baaasket, burner, envelope, envelope.  
Baaasket, burner, envelope, envelope.
When you land you tie off with a rope,
Baaasket, burner, envelope, envelope!
(Now I'm not the only one with that song stuck in my head.)
Heinrich was also the guy who did children's music and recreation, so we had more than a few good laughs through the weekend!

Here I am teaching something about China, though I haven't a clue what it is!  (Isn't that background beautiful?)

Jacob LOVED camp!  It was fun to see him come out of his shell in this environment.  I know some of you didn't realize he had a shell, but he really does in large group settings, especially if he's in a group where there is a lot of noise and chaos or where he doesn't feel "safe" to make mistakes.

But here he had a great group of little boys to hang out with, and he did really well with it!

Here is the only five minutes Jacob and I spent just the two of us at camp.  :)

This little guy is Matthew.  Matthew goes to our church, and his mom is a great friend of mine, so I know him well.  I had to show you this pic so you can see the look of utter joy on his face at taking off during this dress-up relay!  Matthew has only had this power chair for several months now, but he is a pro at driving it and loves the independence it gives him!

Matthew's mom is also great about letting him do whatever he wants to, while providing however little or much assistance he needs.  Of course, he chose 3:00 on a ninety-five degree afternoon to want to climb on the jungle gym!

This was one of my favorite moments of camp, and honestly, what it's all about.
Matthew talks very slowly and is very difficult to understand.  Kids in large group setting often get restless when Matthew is trying to say something, but he is so involved, he often has things to share.  One of the things we did is gave rewards to kids who could tell us what the colors of their gospel bracelets meant (hoping they'll tell a friend one day!) and we had most of them do this in front of the entire children's group.  For a whole lot of reasons, Matthew's turn kept getting pushed off, but I didn't want him to be the only kid who didn't get a turn.  (Matthew is very smart and knows he often gets pushed aside because of his speech.)  So while we were on the playground, I asked the kids I had to gather around Matthew and let him share his gospel bracelet colors.  Ethan was wearing his bracelet, so I asked if he would hold it out so Matthew could see it.  But not only did he hold it out, he waited patiently while he talked and gave him clues (not the answer!) when Matthew needed them so Matthew could share all of the answers all by himself.  His patience and tenderness was so sweet to watch.  

As an aside, Ethan is one of 34 children adopted by his family.  Yes, thirty-four.  He has more than 15 siblings with significant special needs (whose stories are nothing short of amazing), a mother and father who love them all individually and fiercely, and a tender heart because of what the Lord has done for him.  (And just because it's cool to share, he has a sibling group of 6 boys on their way to their home from Liberia!  This will be the last adoption for this 61 year old dad and his wife.)

Though a really odd face, Jacob was very excited about his crazy hair!  

Jacob has a need for things to be "just so" and if he gets an idea in his head that does not come to pass, it can be a very long time, or never, before he forgets it.  He's legitimately disappointed, not just being a baby.  So on crazy hair day, my color-loving child was very excited to get his done for the first time!  But one of the older boys did not listen to Jacob's desires and sprayed black, blue and gold on his hair, and way too much of all of them!  It wasn't at all what Jacob wanted, and he was very disappointed.  Because I know how hard it is for him to let things go, and how disappointed he was, I tried to find some red to spray his hair, but all of the spray was gone.  My mama's heart was sad for him.  (I share a little bit of this personality trait, so I understand how disappointing it can be when something unexpected happens.)

So the next day we were set up to do an art project the next day, and someone had brought the colored hair spray with the face painting supplies so the kids could do art on themselves!  I was so relieved for him!  I made sure to spray his hair myself and listen very carefully to his color requests.  He was so happy at how it turned out.  And I was thankful God gave Him another opportunity to do it.

Here I am doing a "volcano or not" quiz on Hawaii day.
Thank you for praying for me.  The lessons I planned fit well with out theme, the kids seemed interested and responsive, and I apparently did a power point that was much more than expected.  Go figure!  But God did what He wanted to and taught me quite a bit through it.

Here's our children's group performing our song for the talent show.  They did a great job! and I was quite impressed, as Jacob did motions in public for the very first time ever.

I do not even know this young lady's name, but she was the happiest of all the campers, I believe.  She loved every minute of any large group program we had, and she knew the words - every. one - to hymns I'd never even heard of! and sang them loudly.  She was a delight!

Jacob and I got to go on a tethered hot air balloon ride!  

It was a sweet memory to make with him.  :)

Of course he had to call Daddy right away to tell him all about it!

All in all, camp was fantastic. Again.  It is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  And I believe it is just a little bit of what heaven will be like.  The love and acceptance, I mean.  People are hurting, and life is hard.  But for just a few days camp is safe, it provides rest, and it offers much laughter.  Most importantly, we get to participate in the body of Christ worshiping with a purity unseen just about anywhere else.  You've just got to be there.

August 05, 2010

Mattie's Exciting Decision!

Mattie prayed to ask Jesus to be her savior today!  

We were talking about it all at breakfast and she said, "I already believe all those things.  I know I do wrong things - that's called sins - and need someone to save me so I can spend forever in Heaven with Jesus.  How do I do that?"  So we talked about that and then prayed together.  She doesn't understand the magnitude of her decision, but I'm not sure I even understand the magnitude of it all.

When Jacob prayed "for a new heart," he was five.  I didn't celebrate it or make a big deal about it because I wanted to wait and see if he really got it, if it was real.  I have been sad since that day that I handled it that way.  Because I was waiting it out, I didn't write down the specific date.  I didn't make it a big deal.  I didn't have a special dinner or write it in his baby book.  I have tried to figure out the date as best I could, but all I know is that it was during the Spring when he was five.  And I was determined I would not do that with Mattie.  I think she has believed to her greatest ability, and that's all Jesus asks for.

So today I get to rejoice that both of our children will be praising Jesus in Heaven with us!

July 18, 2010

Will You Pray This Week?

I know I haven't been on here much lately, and to be honest, I miss it!  Blogging provides and outlet for me, and it helps me to empty my brain of all of these things floating around in it!  I have photos to share also, but those will have to wait too.

In the past few weeks we've been out of town, Robert's been out of town, and we're still schooling through the summer, though Jacob is now off his ADHD medicine.  Enough said there, I'm guessing!  I'm also spending any free computer time planning what I'm about to ask you to be praying for...

I'm getting ready to go to Joni and Friends camp for the third year.  I LOVE this time!  I am totally in my element when I'm there, so while it is an exhausting week, I come home feeling very refreshed.

Like I said, I'm totally in my element there.  I am very "at home" among the disability community.  But each year I have ended up with an assignment outside my realm of experience.  I have had adults both years (where I'd prefer children, especially those in my own church so I can build relationships with those families), and one year had a non-verbal buddy.  This year I said I'd help with the childrens' program however I could (thinking I'd be supporting one of my best friends in her responsibilities).  Then I said I'd teach.  (I can handle that.  I've taught for years and don't mind it at all.)  Then I found out that teaching meant I had to write my lessons!  (I think the Lord has determined I will be out of my comfort zone!)

I can see how the Lord had His hand in this as the other two leaders had other major things come up during this planning time (emergency eye surgery for one, and a child's wedding for the other) and would have had a terrible time getting everything done, but I'm feeling completely overwhelmed with nervousness.  I'm having to write lessons combining two unrelated themes, using a power point (never done that before), for a group of children ages 4-12 (cognitive levels 12 months to twelve years and including 21 boys!), and be fun, entertaining and challenging while I present the lessons.

I have the lessons written, though I'm not sure they're really beefy enough to challenge the twelve year olds.  I've never taught anyone with a cognitive ability over 8.  I'm just really nervous about it all.  I'm nervous that the kids will be bored, unchallenged and that my lessons will take too little time to deliver.  Plus I'm really intimidated by our recreation guy - he's a childrens' pastor!

I have to say if I get there and it's "not good enough," there really is nothing more I could have done.  I have prayed over our theme verse for two months.  I have studied the context, prayed it for our children, begged God to give me my lessons, and spent a lot of time writing them.  So any lack is not because I have not given my best.  And I must say, the Lord has given me some pretty cool illustrations as I've studied this verse and put all of the themes together!

So will you pray for me this week?  Pray that I get the power point made and that it's easy to use without being a distraction to me while I'm trying to teach.  Pray that I stay nervous enough to remember that I need God to work through me.  Pray that I choose to cast my anxiety on the Lord instead of allowing Satan to rob me of much needed prep-time this week.  Pray that the lessons will be "enough" for even the seven rowdy 12 year old boys.  And pray the I will bring HIM glory in my weakness, according to the power that is at work within me, and believe the lessons I'm teaching!!!  (He-llo!  Our theme is "God can do MORE than I can even imagine!")

Now to HIM who is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within me, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! 
Ephesians 3:20,21

One praise too... I get to take Jacob to camp with me this week!  I'm really excited about him getting to come, and he's pretty excited too.  When I asked if he wanted to go to camp he asked if we were going to have bacon for breakfast.  Hmmmm...guess that's really important to him!

June 27, 2010

Last week: VBS! (Busy! cont'd)

Continued from previous post...

Last week: VBS.  Enough said, right?

Okay, I'll tell you about it...  This was another 5 days of being out of the house early all week.  I had four other kids that I took this year, two of whom I had to stop and collect, so I really needed to be on time each day (plus I had a job to do!).

I did not teach a Special Friends class this year.  We did it all as inclusion (which had its strengths and weaknesses) so I just coordinated the thirteen children who needed shadows.  Inclusion takes a lot of manpower!  At the last minute we had eight practicum students from a local college join us, so we had more than enough help.  They were great help (though not very experienced), plus there are now eight people who belong to eight different churches who have now seen the need for and blessing of disability ministry in the church!  I do have to say though, it ended up a bit of a bummer for me as I had to administrate instead of be a shadow myself.  I just like being hands on with these kids.  It is life-giving to me.  The last day I thought I was going to get to be a buddy and I had just told my good friend how glad I was that we had just the right number.  Well, I got to enjoy it for twenty minutes. One more helper arrived.  Bummer!!

Aside from the great helpers, we saw other areas in which we've grown this year: the children all over VBS were very accepting of our unique crowd!  We made lots of noise, had spit and slobber, spewing food tubes, stinky diapers on third graders, and spilled drinks.  But the kids just took us right in stride!  The best part?  So did the adults!  We were blessed to be included with a great teacher who did not only tolerate us, but loved us and included us.  God is doing big things...

Back to the schedule:
I know it sounds silly to remark up on being out of the house early, but this is not our strength!  I was so thankful the Lord blessed us with TEN days of being up, ready and out ON TIME!  The best part?  We were cheerful every day!!!  Not once did we have to rush out the door while nagging or arguing and rushing.  I have also really enjoyed being up early and while it will take a lot of work and discipline, I'd like to keep it this way.  I have worked really hard at maintaining bedtime for the summer, and so far we're doing great.  (We totally lost ground last year and it took us until October to recover our bedtime schedule. I am bound and determined to stick with a routine this year!)  Today we were up and done with breakfast by 8:45, whereas we usually start around 9:00.  I know we will reap benefits if we can keep it up.

So that's been our last three weeks!  Good times...

June 26, 2010

Busy! Three and two weeks ago...

Oh my goodness!  Life has been busy around here lately!

Three weeks ago: We've been trying to catch up on playdates, so there were three or four in that week, plus a surprise visit from my aunt, Marcy, et al on their way to the Wild West!.  At the end of that week I went on a retreat with our Women's Council.  I had such a great time!  We had planning meetings, shopped, did makeovers, laughed our heads off, got treated to The Melting Pot (a de-licious fondue restaurant), laughed some more, shopped some more and had sweet fellowship while building deeper relationships with some sisters in Christ.  Did I mention I had a great time?

Two weeks ago: Last week Jacob had Upward basketball camp at church, which had us out the door by 8:10 every morning.  Mattie and I stayed near church and ran errands, had meetings (while she had playdates), and helped prepare for VBS.

Jacob seemed to really make some improvement during camp!  We had a misunderstanding, so he didn't really mean to say he wanted to go to basketball camp, rather he wanted to play basketball during the season.  But by the time I realized it, he already had a spot.  And honestly, I felt like he needed the experience, and not because I think he's going to be a star basketball player.  Settings like basketball camp are hard for Jacob for several reasons: anxiety about what to expect, lots of visual and auditory stimulation (especially in a gym!), significant fear of failure in front of peers, being told what to do by a lot of authority figures other than myself, Robert, or other familiar people, and having a different snack than everyone else five days in a row.  Unfortunately in his protected little world of home schooling, he has few opportunities to grow in a lot of these areas, except of course, the food one.  Not to mention the fact that he was pretty overwhelmed with the fast paced basketball games this winter, so he really needs the focused skill building time if he wants to play again!

I was really proud of him!  He hung in there against his desire.  By the third day he had something positive to report (to say he's a glass half empty kind of kid would be the understatement of the year) and by the end of the week he was pleased with his performance.  The coach said skill-wise, Jacob did well and definitely made progress!  Success!

And last week was VBS... I'll do that in another post as this is getting really long!

June 20, 2010

We love you, Daddy!

Happy Father's Day to Robert!

The kids were really excited to celebrate Father's Day this year, and I was proud of myself for actually completing two creative projects!  Robert is a great father and worthy of celebration.  :)
Superheroes are a part of every day life here right now, so I used this idea for a Superhero Survival Kit.  The kids were so excited about this one and loved helping with it.  I was pretty impressed both of them kept a secret!

Here are some pics we took dressed up in all things Daddy.  I've wanted to do this in years past, and knew that Jacob's almost old enough that it wouldn't be cute anymore.  I made a framed collage for him to put on his dresser, and the kids had photo frames they made at Lowe's to fill.

Silliness in Robert's big white undershirts.

White button ups.

Robert's hobby gear.
Trying really hard not to smile in the hats he wears every day.
We love you, Daddy!  You're the best!