Saturday, September 19, 2009

First 4 Weeks of School

Even though I homeschool two of my three children, I do not want anyone to think for a moment that I don't "school" my Kyle! Yes, he is well cared for at his school, but we do a lot of "schooling" at home too. This is my Kyle...the most creative little boy I know. Let him spend some time alone and he comes up with this. The picture above is Kyle's art work. A boy with interchangeable faces. (check out his foot in the flip flop!) I have to crack up! My one friend told me it looked like a picture of someone raptured. HA!

This picture below is what Shane most recently made since studying Ancient Rome: this is Ancient Roman Bread Pudding. He and Brendan are eating it just like the Romans did...on their bellies lounging and laughing with food!

Here we are doing Physical Education! Not bad huh? And we get to do it with friends! (The bowling alley was practically empty)! We had a blast!

Now this is the way to start your morning off...This is Brendan doing devotions..every morning on his own! I love it! Eight years old and after 4 weeks he really misses it when he doesn't get to do it on Saturday or Sunday (he can...but he gets distracted...sound familiar?).
Since Mike is now unemployed, he got to bring them on their second field trip this year. They went to the Orlando Science Center for Homeschool Day! So much fun!
We learned about animals for the first couple of weeks in we made a Mocha Bear (I used espresso...and mmmmm...did it smell so good!)
Another thing we are trying to implement this year is giving them the freedom to cook. Here is Brendan making Salad for dinner. He makes amazing scrambled eggs and yesterday he and Shane looked for a recipe to make cookies from scratch. They made Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies. Brendan made the list, we shopped, and then Shane measured the dry ingredients, Brendan did the liquids and the mixer. The cookies were amazing.
We are having friends over tonight and we will be eating said cookies! Yippee!! Training up little husbands-to-be someday! So the first 4 weeks of school have been great for everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Raising The Bar

A repost from my blog archives 2007...

When I was a teacher I remember that one of my big beliefs was that if I set the bar high, my students would work hard to attain that. I believed that if I motivated them, showed them their value and help them to belive in themselves, that they would desire to reach the bar. As a teacher it was more about helping these kids to reach that "love of learning" that was inside of them, as well as finding the good in themselves and culitivating that, causing it to grow. It was about helping them believe in themselves and that they ABSOLUTELY could reach higher than they had ever reached before.....and then we did a little Accounting, Business Law, Entreprenuership or Computer class.

Now, I know at least one or two of my former students keep in touch with me still. They would have to agree that that was Mrs. Engel. For the most part, it is EXACTLY what happened. So many of my students were able to find that within themselves, and many of them came back to me throughout the years (long after they graduated) just to be encouraged again. For you skeptics out there - no not every student reached for their highest potential. But in a class of 25 if 2 were able to then......

I am a Mom now. After 10 years of trying to get pregnant and losing so many little one's to Heaven, I have three boys. Back when I first gave birth I remember feeling like the Lord placed on my heart that my first and highest calling was to be a mother to these boys. It was liken to missionary work in a way. I was called to this "people group"(and they can be a wild people at times) and the Lord would supply for me what was needed along the journey I just had to be obedient to Him and surrender MY will and He would enable me to do the rest. So I'm doing my devotions today. It's a book/study guide about Lies Women Believe & The Truth that Sets them Free. I have read many of Nancy Leigh DeMoss books, heard her speak and truly her wisdom has always impacted my life in a big way. So the Lie was this: "Children need to get exposed to the real world so that they can learn to function in it." (in the book it follows Eve and her sin/repentance/restoration...) Satan convinced her that by eating the forbidden fruit, she would learn something she needed to know. "When you eat of it your eyes will be opened...knowing good and evil" (Gen 3:5). Satan was right -- when Eve ate, her eyes were opened (v.7); she did learn something she had not known before--the experience of evil. The result of this knowledge was shame, guilt, and alienation from God and her husband. God never intended that you and I should know evil by experiencing it for oursleves. His desire is that we should be "wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil" (Rom. 16:19)

The challenge of every Christian parent is to bring up children who love God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength; who have a vibrant, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus; and whose lives will be bright and shining lights, penetrating the darkness around them. We are to be seeking to raise up not just "good" children, but children who enthusiastically embrace the Truth, children who love righteousness and hate evil, children who will be used by God to change this world. I am encouraged to RAISE THE BAR. I had no issue with this when I was a High School Teacher. Now I'm a mom and the stakes are much higher - these are MY children. I've been called to raise Godly men. I am not able to do this alone - I must rely on Christ and I trust He will show me every day how I can best do this.

Is what Nancy says unrealistic? Read Psalm 101. I think not! Nonetheless, I am unable to sit and be happy with a bar that is only half way up - I need to raise it. For myself and for my kids. (Because we all know that when we raise the bar, the child may not reach the top of that bar, but becuase it was raised higher - the higher they had to jump, climb, grow...

No one would think of taking a young tender plant and planting it outside on a day when the snow was falling hard on the 8 inches of snow that had fallen the day before and have any hope of its surviving. That's what a greenhouse is for--to provide an optimum environment for plants to grow. Then, when their roots have developed and they are strong enough to withstand adversity, they can be transplanted to the outdoors!

So in closing, I am spurred on. We are not to be molded by the culture, rather, we are to be filled with the Spirit and the Word of God that our lives will penetrate and convict the culture around us. That is my challenge as a Christian parent--to raise up a young men who are not conformers but transformers. OH YEA!

Sidebar: This is why I chose to name my homeschool "GreenHouse Homeschool Academy - a place to provide an optimum enviornment for my children to grow...Learning to Love Learning!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We Fall Prostrate

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!" 1 Kings 18:36-39

I enjoy the privilege of homeschooling. I am a teacher at heart, so academics don't frighten me, actually, they stimulate me in many ways. However, that isn't really the main reason why I choose to homeschool. I homeschool mostly to be sure my children are well grounded in their Faith. It is true that in many ways we lead by example for our children. But, then there are things that we practice that sometimes our children do not get an opportunity to see. Things related to prayer for example...things that are just done in private, in our "prayer closet". In our home, we have always been very open when it comes to prayer. Our children were introduced to laying hands on one another and praying for each other at a very early age, so when they are asked to pray for is natural that they lay hands on that person and pray. It is what they have always seen their Mom and Dad do, and it is what they do too. Sometimes when they pray, they say some of the things we say as we pray over them. Very natural! My son Brendan called a friend and prayed with him over the phone...another very common thing you might find my husband and I doing.

This past week we read about Elijah on Mount Carmel when he drenched his sacrifice in water and yet the Lord appeared and caused the sacrifice to burn showing Himself to be the one true God. Then all the people fell "prostrate" and acknowledged the One True God! In my quiet time there have been times when you could find me prostrate on the floor, my face in the carpet, crying out to God or simply worshiping Him and placing Him in the proper position in my life. My children, however, most likely would never have an opportunity to see this occurring because it is done during my own private quiet time. There is something that happens when one bows. It places you in a very reverent humbling position.

So when we read this verse I explained what it meant "to fall prostrate" and then I had them try it. At first it seemed silly to them. They giggled and then I asked them to be silent for a little bit. After a few moments of no words or movement I began to say the names of Jesus. After all He is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, it is right at times to be in this position of reverence before our Lord. Yes, He is our Abba Father, and a friend that is closer than a brother, and we can laugh with Him and dance with Him, but then there are those moments when all I want to do is fall on my face before Him and honor Him in my posture, my praise and my prayers. Kneeling at the altar, falling prostrate before Him, standing with arms reaching to Heaven, whichever posture you choose...take some time just to honor Him.

Jesus, Son of God, Anointed One, Christ, my Redeemer, Righteous Judge, Only-begotten Son, Son of Man, Saviour, my Mediator, my Intercessor, my Advocate, Messiah, Yahweh, Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Lord, my Good Shepherd, Immanuel, Master, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, The Risen One, The Way, The Truth, The Life, Light of the World, Almighty, The Bread of Life, my Rescuer! Oh how I love you! Oh how I worship you! You are so worthy of my praise! May my praise be sweet to your ears and may my children learn to honor you in all that they do and say! In Your Precious Holy Name...Amen.

holy experience

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Didn't Want To Tell You...

Every once in awhile, I will tell a story about my children and people say, "You should write a book!". Funny! I am in the process of writing a book...I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by it today actually. The book really isn't about my children, but some of the examples I use are most definitely inspired by my superheros.

One of my recent conversations with my 6 year old has brought me so much joy, I really don't ever want to forget it. Isn't that why we journal in the first place? So we don't forget? Here is how the conversation happened:

Coming home from church one Sunday, two of my three boys were sitting in the back seat of the car. (The other in the store with Dad). I hear this being whispered:

Brendan whispering to Shane: "You have to tell Mom!"

Shane: "Shhh...don't tell Brendan...promise you won't tell!!"

Brendan: "We are not allowed to keep secrets from our know that!!"

I look back and say, "Hey what are you guys talking about? What is the know you can tell Mom anything!"

Brendan: "I told Shane he should just tell you...but he's afraid."

Me: "Shane, honey, there are no secrets between us baby, what are you afraid to tell me?"

Shane to Brendan: "Just go ahead and tell her Brendan." He looks in face.

Brendan: "Shane is afraid to tell you that he is married now." (Lord, may I NEVER hear those words again)

Me: "What do you mean, you are married?"

Shane: "Well, (insert girl's name here) gave me a kiss on both cheeks the other day, so now we are married because you can only kiss when your married. I was scared to tell you because I didn't want to make you cry. You said you would cry when I get married."

Me: "OH, honey...just because she kissed you on the cheek doesn't mean you are married." (Oh how I wished I could keep that up...kissing was reserved for marriage...we will work on recovering that one). I went on to explain that she was just being sweet and gave you a little peck on the cheek. It did NOT mean that they were now married. And furthermore, when I said I would probably cry like a baby at your wedding...well those would be happy tears (kind of)!

Shane: "Mom, how old were you and Daddy when you got married?" (Loaded question because I was very young)

Me: "Well, I was 21 and your Dad was 25 (Oh it will be 20 years next year)

Brendan: "That means they were 4 years different" (thanks a lot smart boy)"and I think you have to graduate college and have a house before you get married."

Shane: "Well, what if someone else picks (girl) before I am old enough, what will I do then?"

Me: "Sweet heart, that would just mean that she wasn't the one for you." (His eyes opened wide) "God would have someone else in your path that you would fall in love with maybe." (Thinking...he is only 6 Lord...why am I talking about this now!)

Shane: "But I really do love her Mom and I think she loves me!"

Brendan: " a sister!"

Shane: "No way...she kissed me on the cheeks, and she is beautiful and she is nice, she is my girlfriend Mom!"

Somehow I wound this conversation down to this: "If (girl) is the one you are to marry someday (a long long time from now) then you will both know it when the time comes. It is possible...but so much can happen between now and then."

This sparks a series of conversations that I now must have with all of my children. Suffice to say it went well with Kyle and Shane...they know they can tell me anything now and Kyle is quite happy understanding that girls that are friends are girl friends. (Shane still has love issues) Brendan, well, he is another story.

Here is how this conversation went (with my 8 year old):

Me: "Brendan can we talk?"

Brendan, pulling the covers over his head: "Sure Mom."

Me: "You know you can tell me anything...I'm here to talk about whatever...your dreams, hopes, girls, problems...whatever"

B: "Yes Mom, I know."

Me: "Do you like any girls Brendan?"

B: "No, just you!"

Me: "Well, I know you love me, but do any girls make you feel silly in your tummy, or do you think any girls are beautiful?"

B: "No, Mom, just you, you are the most beautiful girl I know Mom!"

Me: "Awe come on Brendan...that is sweet, but really? I mean, do you think you might get married someday?"

B: "Mom, don't worry about it. I'm just going to wander around life and when some girl picks me, I'll marry her, but I'm not gonna worry about it Mom, so don't you worry about it ok?!"

Such great wisdom...wander around life and let some girl pick him...he is so not about the drama of it all! THANK YOU LORD!!

Please Lord, grant me more wisdom for the next time this conversation happens and we are dealing with teenage hormones. Please Lord!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Not Laboring on Labor Day

I "labored" hard all last week so I did not have to labor at all today. No laundry to be done, no official schooling, no dusting or cleaning, not even cooking to be done! How about that!?! So instead of laboring, I had the chance to simply rest. I slept in until 7:30am (that was huge for me!), had my quiet time and have been relaxing all day! This has given me time to record in my journal things that I'm grateful for...(1000 Gifts). I have lost count at this point, so instead of trying to number them, I'm just going to continue to list them on occasion!

Laura Ingalls Wilder once said ,"It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature." The Bible says this in James 1:17: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
I am grateful for...

...a Father who greatly desires to bless His children.
...children who are learning unconditional love.
...little steps that lead to growth.
...superheros in my life to remind me of my vulnerability.
...opportunities for reconnecting.
...the feeling of a job well done!
...the smell of a shampooed head. (especially on one of my superheros)
...a husband who loves Jesus with all of his heart!
...friends who continue to sprout new fruit every day!
...a journey that never gets boring.
...the feel and smell of new books and sharpened pencils.
...the never ending encouragement from the body of Christ!
...the extra measures of Grace...noticeable every day!
...quiet moments of simple reflection.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How Many Hats Do You Wear?

In just one half hour at my home I have worn several hats. Being a Mom will allow for a plethora of hats. I happen to have this in my archive of pictures, but it is not unlike what I wear every day. Just today I have worn the following hats:

Nurse, Cook, Mechanic, Electrician, Referee, Coach, Bible Teacher, Preacher, Playmate, Mom, Shuttle Service, Maid, Wife, Teacher, Laundromat Attendant, Tutor, Therapist, Doctor (able to dispense medication), Granny Nanny, Secretary, Veterinarian, Computer Repair Service, and Bouncer!

I probably forgot to mention some. Just thinking about my day as a homeschooling Mom who helps care for her 91 year old grandfather in a house full of men and boys! Yup, that pretty much sums it up! I was due for a light hearted blog post after my more serious/teaching kind that no one dares even to leave a comment on! LOL!

So what hats did I miss? What hats do you wear on a regular everyday basis? No wonder we are tired at the end of a day!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Note Read This Today...

..."As the Lord blesses us we want to bless you!" The voice on the phone last Saturday said this, "Can you come over on Sunday after church...I want to give you a lunch and a facial and just bless you!!" And the other note (from last month) said this: "You've been a blessing to us I'm so happy to send this!" And the note from a month and a half ago said this: "So proud of you girl, be blessed with these!"

You probably recognized the hand that wrote these notes right? Or the words on the other end of my phone conversation? Well, I know you cannot see the actual penmanship or hear the voice, but the words sound familiar right? Well of course, it's my Father.

Two weeks ago, Mike was let go from his job. Times are tough everywhere. This is not the first time he has been laid off, so we know how it works. We skipped right to the part where we 100% put our trust in our Father God and believe He would see us through! None of this doubting, none of this fearing...nope...just trusting! Whew...we finally got it! Mike is going back to school part-time to become a nurse. We are very excited that he is going down this path...we all feel like it is going to be a perfect fit for him! Meanwhile...he is looking for another job (a job in a hospital or nursing home or pharmacy would be great, but at this point...he has applied for every retail position in a 20 mile radius as well). We are confident that the Lord will make a way.

Meanwhile, in the past 2 months we have received so many blessings. Specifically just "love" blessings from people that had no idea we were now unemployed (some where preemptive...he still had a job and we received gifts from God. I actually got a box of clothes from a friend with pants and shorts my new size (after losing 45 lbs. I am running out of clothes). I know the people who have blessed us know who they are, but really, I know that they are God's hand extended from Heaven. God really just want to bless his children--you and me--He really does!

Thank you Lord for meeting our every need and blessing us with special moments, not just with finances or clothing, but with love and encouragement as well! Thank you Lord, for Your hand extended!