Tuesday, June 9, 2015


"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

I have had this blog post stirring in my head for awhile now. I don't blog that much anymore. Life is full of lots of kids, lots of activities, and lots of chaos. This topic, though, is one that needs a voice. It's a misunderstood topic by many.  Homeschooling.

I want to start out by saying Homeschooling is a privilege. It is by far one of the most important decisions you can make as a parent. It is not to be taken lightly. It is a blessing.

I will be entering into my eleventh year as a homeschooling mama in the fall. I need also to say that homeschooling is hard. It is demanding. It is time consuming and can be frustrating. It can bring out the worst in us, and divide relationships. As I said, it is not to be taken lightly. It is a commitment like no other. 

Over the years, I have heard many questions. Questions like, "Why would you want to homeschool" "What does homeschooling look like?" "Do your kids have friends" "What about socialization?" My oldest daughter now hears questions and comments like: "What do you do all day?" "Do you stare at the walls, and watch t.v?" "I would love to be homeschooled so I don't have to do homework" "Do you have friends?" "Do you ever get out into the real world?" We answer these questions as simply and as honestly as we can with every person who inquires.

I must say there is one comment that sticks out in my mind more than any other though...when someone finds out that I homeschool my six children, the most common response is "I could never do that...you must be a really special person with a lot of patience!" To this, I haven't really come up with a great response yet, so I wanted to address that common misconception here...as it has been on my mind for months.

A few months ago I was at a spa having my hair done and a massage...as I was lying on the bed getting the massage, the young girl started to ask questions and the topic of homeschooling my children came up again. And...once again, she said "Wow, I could never do that, you must be very patient and good at it!" This time, however,  I responded differently. I blurted out, "No, I'm not. I'm not even good at it, and I am a VERY impatient person." She listened more intently and had more questions about the ins and outs, and rules and regulations of homeschooling.  I shared even more that I really was being honest. I don't homeschool because I am exceedingly patient and sweet and filled with joy at the thought of teaching and being with my children every second of the day. I homeschool because I believe it is the right thing to do. I homeschool because as a Christian I want to lead my children back to the heart of Jesus every chance I get. I homeschool because I wanted it to be a lifestyle lived out, and I didn't want my children joining the masses staring at 4 walls in an institution. That just wasn't my vision for them, although I know many find it to be a positive experience. I homeschool also because my views do not line up with some of the liberal and secular teaching that goes on in public schools today. I homeschool because the opportunities homeschoolers have these days are off the charts. I homeschool because homeschooling can look any way you want it to and you can cultivate a love of learning within your child at a very, very young age, that I believe will last a lifetime. I homeschool because I really get to know my children and their giftings and talents and interests and I can build upon that and give them lots of ways to develop these areas. I homeschool because there is time to focus on those areas of interests and talents and develop them when you homeschool. I homeschool because our life is a lifestyle of learning, and my kids are learning just as much when they are helping me in the kitchen and helping Dad in the garden as they are doing assignments we give them. I could go on and on and on with a hundred more reasons why we homeschool...but just wanted to share some off the top of my head. I believe in this life, this way of living that just happens to involve home educating our children. Sometimes I even scratch my head these days and think, "why do so many people just think when their child turns 5 off to Kindergarten they go?" People don't even question that, or look at other options. They miss the opportunity by not looking into what home education could look like for them, or their child.

There are so many more benefits that are flooding my mind as I type. My kids get to play outside all the time. They run and jump, climb trees, swim, make mud pies, pick berries in the garden and run their own little fruit stand out of their play house. They ride horses, gather eggs, bike ride and more. They get fresh air, they get dirty, play with bugs and worms in the dirt and they explore to their hearts content. They are happy.

Reading begins very young in our family. If they are ready, they are reading at age 4. If not, at age 5. I have noticed that after they learn to read, they have a huge appetite for books...and they never stop. When my nearly 14 yr. old was around 7 or 8, I would have her write me stories, and she would bring me novels...I knew there was something there that needed nurturing and development. So at the age of 12, we helped her to take a class, write and publish her first novel. She is currently gearing up to write her second one.

Mostly, though, I am so thankful that I can keep my kids home so that I can always point them to their savior. They learn and know who He is at a young age. He is their father, their healer, their savior, their friend. We take a lot of time to focus on this. We start our day with Bible time. We sing praise songs, we pray, read devotions they intently listen as the word of God is read to them. Kids are ready for this, they want to hear and know His word! They are hungry and thirsty for it!  My job is to fill them up with it, and allow them to read, learn and grow in their relationship with him. I am so thankful that they don't have to deal with peer pressure, and bullying, school bus issues, and more. Not that their life is sheltered or deprived or that they are not learning to handle conflict. No, they have their share of battles and learning opportunities with each other and friends, so it's not that much different.

Oh, did I just mention friends? Yes, my home educated children do have friends! Wonderful, amazing, great friends! They are well socialized with all ages! We are so blessed with the relationships we have cultivated in our lives and the people the Lord has put in our paths. My kids go to birthday parties, skating parties, picnics, play dates, outings, field trips, co-ops,  Awana, sports camps, summer camps, vbs, horsemanship camps, 4-H, gymnastics, dance, music lessons, and sports of all kinds. We also have time to have friends over, go on camping trips, have BBQ's and more. Our family is just a typical family who's children happen to not attend the local public school.  That's all. But, because we home educate, I feel my children have had (so far) an amazing and abundantly blessed experience. It's not all fun, they complain about having to do math, they sometimes argue, they sometimes whine, but they also jump up and down like it's Christmas when a new school book arrives in the mail! Home educated children really do love to learn, and that is one reason I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had for so many years.

There is a Biblical basis for homeschooling, and there are many verses to back it up. Here are a few: Listen, my son, to your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22: 6

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

There are many many more verses you can use to help guide you in your current homeschooling adventure or your decision to home educate in the future. I especially like the one from Matthew above. We are in a fight for the minds and souls of our children. There is a battle raging out there whether you homeschool or not. I want my children to know that this path they are on, is Jesus's road. It's narrow, not wide and veering off in many directions. No, it is narrow and straight and if we stay on it, it leads to an abundant life. I don't know about you but my life has not been boring by staying on this path. It has taken me places I never thought I would go, and places I never dreamed of myself. It has been a wild, adventurous and blessed ride staying on the narrow path, walking with the Lord, and I desperately want that for my children. :) 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mason Jar Madness! Meals in a Jar...

I shared a bit about what I have been up to with Thrive Life foods in my last blog post...wanted to share another one. Here is my breakfast and lunch today! For breakfast I had quick oats in a mason jar with Thrive freeze dried strawberries and blackberries, with some coconut added on top. Just add hot water and eat right out of the jar! For lunch it was Lasagna Soup Meal in a jar. Just add contents to 8 cups of boiling water. It's that simple, and that easy...I am loving the quick convenience of Thrive foods and making jar meals for my family. I know I am serving them healthy, amazing food because the quality of Thrive foods is excellent. It's pure food with locked in nutrients. It's the next best thing to harvesting straight from your own garden. (which we are doing a lot of this year...and saving that for another post). Tonight we had homemade Borscht, with freshly picked beets from the garden, and added Thrive ingredients-carrots, onions, and potato dices! This cut my time in the kitchen down quite well! If you are interested in stocking up your pantry with some Thrive ingredients, just click here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/We-were-made-to-Thrive/1584424598488742

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

So much easier than making freezer meals!

Last fall a friend of mine brought over some foods she thought our family might enjoy. Thrive Life freeze dried foods. They are pure foods, freeze dried, with no added preservatives, sugars or salt. I thought they were nice, but wasn't sure if we needed them. I then went to a jar meal class where I watched a woman put together a Taco soup Meal in a jar made with all Thrive foods. It was delicious! Then...something clicked. I realized that if I could put together these various jar meals to stock up on, that take minutes in comparison to making freezer meals, this could literally change my life! Dinner time can be stressful for me, always trying to put a hearty, healthy meal on the table. I'm not always prepared every day, and I hate that feeling of , "oh, no...it's 5pm, what am I gonna make for dinner??" So...I went on Pinterest, found tons of Thrive jar meal recipes that I liked, and placed my first Thrive Life order, and started making Jar meals, and stocking my pantry with them. So simple, so quick, no more last minute fast food trips, and my family is fed healthy wholesome meals!! I can't tell you how much Thrive really has helped our family and changed our lives! I also love that I no longer feel guilty if I am gone one evening and I don't have dinner prepared, leaving my husband to cook. He just grabs a jar meal out of the cupboard, adds water, and cooks it up! He also told me that he has been using Thrive veggies to add to his breakfast wraps he makes in the morning for himself before work. He loves Thrive too! And...the kids...you would think these foods are candy...and now I have healthy snacks all my kids enjoy from corn to peas, to yogurt bites and green beans...so far they love it all!  I buy so much of it that I am now a consultant, because I thought, since I am going to be doing this long term, I might as well get a percentage back on my purchases! Also...for a later post, these foods last 25 years unopened, so I am finally able to start the long term food storage I have been wanting to do for years. Yay! This stuff is amazing. If you want some of this too...just get in touch, or click on my website below. You will love Thrive foods, I can guarantee it!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Blessings

So blessed this Christmas!!! We had three different family gatherings, went to the Nutcracker, the Journey to Bethlehem, and a Christmas play. We spent time with many friends and family. There was much laughter and lots of memories made. We also spent time at home with just family. We added a new puppy to the family for Christmas. It was a beautiful time for all of us. The only thing missing was snow. The photo above is that of our recent photo shoot near the orchard in the backyard in November. Two of my sweet daughters. I am so blessed. My miracles. My joy.  Being their Mother is something I am thankful for daily.  Lately I am obsessed with advocating for orphans. How can I stop? How can I not do my part to help them find families? This passion of mine just won't go away, so I spend time each evening on numerous facebook groups advocating for China's special needs orphans. Good news! Two of the ones I had advocated for are now matched with families! The way the system works for China now is that you can actually see lists of children on many agency lists, and you can ask to be approved to adopt them. It is so exciting to see so many being chosen, but heartbreaking to also see so many more for months on end that never end up with a family. I am determined to keep advocating...speaking for those that can't speak for themselves. Also...I just might turn this blog into an advocacy blog. Many exciting things are happening!
I LOVE this week every year! The week between Christmas and New Year. We sleep in, we don't do school. We play with all our new toys. We play with our animals. We go out. We catch a movie. We generally take the time to just be. And I wish we did this more often. If we had snow----like we should by now, we would also be out in it..sledding, building snowmen and then coming in for hot cocoa with marshmallows. The kids are dying for some snow to finally come our way. Since we don't have any yet, but do have cold temps, we have been snuggling up by the wood stove and the Christmas tree reading books and being cozy. That's what winter is to me, and I love it!
More updates soon!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Check this out...

I was contacted by this website to share our story, so they featured it a few weeks ago. I love how this site shares positive, uplifting, and encouraging stories every week. You should check it out! If you haven't heard the story behind our family, why we adopt, and why I am so passionate about orphan care, Read here, for the whole story!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Orphan care and prayer...

Deep thoughts tonight as I remember this girl...and now, seven years later, see the beautiful, sweet, loving, amazing person she is. My daughter. It's hard to believe that is her in that crib. I see God's hand on her life and all He is doing in her, and it is not because of me, it is Him. She is thirsty for His word. She is an incredible gift. She is advancing God's kingdom already. She has dreams and passions. For the Lord. For the orphan. For the unsaved, and for the lost. So much wisdom and deep understanding at such a young age. I have seen this all come up out of her little soul so early on, I thought it was a phase years back, but her passions and her purpose just grow stronger. She is a radiant light for Jesus. She is mission minded. She has so much love to give, and if you just spend one day out with her...she gives that love to those around her in the most admirable ways. It is a gift, and something I do not possess, but I learn so much from her, and admire the person she is. I love her so much. She has dreams and aspirations, and none of them are for her gain, but for God and those she wants to bless. Incredible. I am not here to brag, just here to describe what can be uncovered in the life of an orphan turned daughter.  The love she has to give, she shares freely with everyone. I can't wait to see all the Lord will make of her life, as she lives for Him. I am so excited to see it all unfold.

Today I saw something that brings me profound sadness. I visited a website of an adoption agency and clicked on a video of a little girl who is currently available for adoption in China. What I saw brought back memories of my first few days with my sweet Lilyann, pictured above. You see, neglect and institutionalization changes a child. It changes the brain. Connections are not made when they need to be. When nurturing doesn't come as it should, a baby goes through the normal cries from it's crib, no one shows up to help, and the baby actually goes through a rage cycle and then literally gives up when time and time again their cries bring nobody to their side...to feed them..to hold them...to cherish them. Neglect and attachment disorders set in. The metal cribs in the picture are the typical ones you see in many Chinese orphanages. They are bare. There are no toys. There is nothing soft to cuddle up to. The children begin visually zoning in on their hands as they move their fingers around in an attempt to find some sort of stimulation. It becomes their only means to stimulate, and occupy themselves in an environment of neglect. Then when someone comes along, and actually holds them, and attempts to play with them, there is no smile, and their hands go back up in front of their face...as they don't understand what someone giving them attention even means and their brain doesn't process it as it should. I saw this with my daughter those first weeks in China. I gulped down my fears each day as I heard the thoughts in my head saying "she may never snap out of this, then what??" Uncertainty. Unknowns. Yet, I knew in my heart the Lord brought us together. We brought her home. She still did not register our facial expressions at 16 months of age. Flat affect, hands in front of her eyes, tuned out to the world. Little by little, as we nurtured her, fed her, cared for her and played with her, she began to smile. Connections were being made in her brain. Healing was taking place. Caring for the orphan has been the most incredible experience ever.

Back to what I saw today. The little girl is close to four years old, I believe. She is more than precious, but appears fragile in every way. She is sad.  It appears to be an extreme case of neglect. Hands trying to move in front of her face when others want to talk to her. Her own little world seems more comfortable to her, yet she tries to comply with what is asked of her. I so wanted to do anything I could to reach into that video, scoop up that little girl and hold her, love her, care for her, with the nurturing, affection, and attention she so desperately needs. She seems so lost and alone, and so sad. I hope and pray a mommy and daddy come for her soon.  Please join me in praying for this little one who is on my heart tonight, and for the millions of other orphans out there who also need a mommy and daddy to come for them.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Never underestimate

I am sitting here today in total amazement, and gratitude. I have been home educating for approximately 10 years now! It has gone so fast, and for the most part, I still feel like a beginner. I only have a quick moment to write this today, but I wanted to talk about two things that are going on in our homeschool right now that completely have me floored!

I am in the process of proof reading a novel that my 12 year old wrote this year and she is about to publish it! About three years ago I knew she was given a gift for writing when I gave her a simple story assignment and she brought me a novel! So this year we delved deep into the writing process and also had the opportunity to take a writing class with a few other students. As I sat here this morning proof reading her book, I not only smiled, and laughed during certain parts, but I cried too! This story drew me in! It had me on edge, and it really touched me. It is a combination of her life up to this point, her loves, and her struggles. It is very nicely written, and was so much fun to read! She is in the process of designing her cover, and I can't wait to hold the finished product in my hands! If she can write and publish a novel at the age of 12, I will never underestimate her ability to do anything again! The sky is the limit...and that is the beauty homeschooling has been, with the freedom to develop the gifts God has given my children.

As a homeschooling momma, I have come to realize the enormous responsibility I have to train up my children in the ways of the Lord. Many times I know I fall short. I want our home, and our homeschool to be an environment of love, and growth, and nurture, and learning,  and I want them to see Jesus in it all. We have our times of prayer, and I read them children's Bible books, and we sing praise songs, and we talk about the Lord. But, what really, sort of surprised me this week, is that one of my four year old daughters brought me the new Bible I recently gave to her. Somehow she opened it to the beginning of the book of Esther and asked me to start reading it. I do read straight from the Bible to them at times, but usually only bits and pieces, a scripture here, or a scripture there. This time I just started reading from the beginning of Esther. I was on the second page and I realized I now had three little girls gathered around me. I stopped...and asked them if they were ready for me to stop and read more tomorrow. They said no! They were engaged and interested, and wanted to know what would happen next...so I continued on. This has been going on every day this week. We are almost done with that book. They don't want me to stop, but I am usually the one that stops, and tells them we will read more tomorrow. They are soaking up God's word like sponges. I will never again underestimate them and their ability to learn, and understand, and take God's word into their little hearts. I have learned a lot this week. I will continue to feed them from the word of God in large portions and I will not deprive them again. I will listen to the holy spirit, and pray for them whenever possible. I will never again underestimate them!