Category Archives: Trials

Our Best and Worst

Homeschooling is a journey.  We have homeschooled for five years now and along the way made discoveries that pave our path.  Certain curriculum, certain schedules, certain processes….all these have brought us to the place we are now.  Constantly on the look out for ways to improve our boys’ education, I’m not afraid to make changes that would increase their learning potential and the effectiveness of our day.

One thing that stands without a doubt as a most effective, convenient, and frugal educational tool is use of the internet and technology.  Many times we are able to enhance our studies at the computer.  The wealth of information available far exceeds what one book might provide.  Our basic studies are dictated by the book’s outline,but more in-depth and relative information is gained through use of the internet.

That said, our worst enemy is also technology.  As soon as they rise in the morning, the first place our boys want to gravitate to is the computer, or the Wii, or the DS, or even the Kindle.  To start school each morning, I often have to pry them off of the laptop.  Sometimes, they try to wake up early and sneak to be the first to get it.  I’ve even resorted to asking Dad to hide his laptop so that they won’t know where it is!  (and I’ve hidden the Wii controllers too!)

This goes on for a while but then we seem to go back to the lackadaisical ways of leaving it all out and accessible again. 

It’s a constant battle to patrol and protect.  Safety and protection remains a top priority when it comes to children using the computer so we have to stay diligent in overseeing the sites they visit and the things they see.

Having these things available makes it hard to start our school day and also makes it less likely they will want to play with their toys or outside. 

Having these things available, however, brings our lessons to life, adds excitement and activities, and provides resources to supplement and challenge both of them.  

“It’s as easy as restricted use”, you say? 

“Give them so many minutes of use a day”, you say?

I wish it were that easy!  At their age, and because we are always here around the technology, they seem to be able to boot it up and get a game going faster than I can notice!  Sometimes, while I am taking a moment to put in a load of laundry or take a shower, they summon the Wii forces before I can get back into the room.  Once the controllers are  in their hand, it can get U.G.L.Y. just to get them off and refocused!  If only I could rig something that would electrically zap their hand if they touch it when they shouldn’t! 😉

We will likely never take drastic steps to remove it all, but acknowledge a growing need to achieve a balance with the technological resources in our household.  More time outside and more time building Legos rather than them even wanting to be playing video games.  Is there such a thing in America today?!

Technology…it’s our best friend and our worst enemy.

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Filed under Children, Family, God, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Life, Obedience, Parenting, Trials

A Distressing Spirit

Book, Chapter & Verse

1 Samuel 16:14 says “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.”  v 23 also speaks of this distressing spirit and says, again, that it was “from the Lord”.  Several times in 1 Samuel we see that this spirit was distressing and also “from the Lord”.

It makes me wonder more about depression.  Obviously Saul had issues that led to his falling out of the Lord’s favor.  It’s interesting to me, however, to think about depression coming to someone specifically from the Lord.

How can we understand why the Lord would purposefully make someone depressed?

Depression is a horrible way of living.  I can only say this because I recognize that in recent years, there have been times in my own life where depression was obviously present.

Not wanting to get out of bed, the inability to…

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Filed under Friends, God, Grace, Health, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Joy, Life, Sin, Stress, Trials

Tornado Clean Up, Day #2

Today, we went back to the Diamond Creek Subdivision.  What was a gorgeous neighborhood filled with nice brick homes, a new elementary school, and beautiful lake now has parts that are trash-laden and literally covered with debris.

Our newest friends, also homeschoolers, joined us for some hours of work.  It was amazing to see just how much had been done in one day.  The community of Forney should be extremely proud of its’ people, volunteers, firemen, policemen, church congregations, businesses, etc.  I am amazed to see how many came from outside of the city.  They pick up trash, rake fields, deliver water and food, encourage each other, and all the while fighting the scorching sun, fire ants, nails, glass, and weeds.

Amidst burning skin, cuts, and sore legs the people still come and work.  And work.  And work.

It’s no easy chore.  Even picking up trash is exponentially difficult due to the small size and type of each item.  It is seriously like a war zone in places.  Fields are littered with debris — roof shingles and plywood that have been reduced to sizes averaging around three or four inches in diameter.

We worked with one crew to fill trash bags for a while, but when the bags were gone, we began scouring the field for larger items to place in one big pile.  Our thinking was that the crews would be able to more easily scoop up the debris if it were in a pile.

There has been so much work done, but there is SO much more to do!  Help is still seriously needed.

Even with clean up being done, I made the comment today that it would be a while before any children could play in the beautiful fields surrounding this neighborhood.  There is so much glass and nails it would be extremely risky.

The elementary school sustained roof, window, and air conditioning damage, but I hear it will be reopened next week.  Still, the children will surely have limited play time as there is no playground equipment anymore.  Even most all the fences that surround the schoolyard have been destroyed.  Again, I can only imagine what may still be in the grass next to the school.

Our little group of six worked until our bodies wouldn’t keep up with our will.  We passed out bottled waters, filled three or four bags of trash, and then made what we thought was a pretty big pile of materials in the field.

Unfortunately, the pile is in a big messy field.  It’s hard to see in these pictures because the grass is tall, but from a distance, the field looks relatively clean.  However, when you begin walking through it, there are huge boards, car pieces, metal pieces, housing materials, fence posts,….more than you can imagine just laying everywhere within that tall grass.  Add to that the millions of smaller roof shingles, insulation, paper, etc and it will be a while before it is all picked up.

All this mess from a very powerful EF-3 tornado, and yet I am still absolutely humbled by the fact that there was not one loss of life.

 A stop at the local ice cream parlor rejuvenated us.  There’s nothing like ice cream to keep a group of silly boys going!

(And going, and going, and going….lol!)

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Church, Family, Friends, God, Grace, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Life, Missions, Parenting, Thankful Thursday, Thanks, Trials, Weather

Not Quite 14

“We can only use those 14 years and up.”

This is what we were told when we showed up at the local church where tornado clean up efforts were being coordinated.

I understand why they made that rule…….sort of.

Yes, I know there are dangers of glass, nails, debris and other safety issues that kids aren’t necessarily ready to face, however, we decided to head out to the field on our own and 5 hours later, this is what we learned.

8 and 10 year olds know how to…

pray,

pick up trash,

pick up someone’s garage door,

 

pick up insulation,

work hard,

and care.

 They may not be fourteen yet, but they now understand more about the force of an EF3 tornado.

They see why it’s a big deal to stay informed and have a safety plan during bad weather.  They now know better why we don’t stay in cars during a tornado.
They understand how trash and debris can affect our waters and wildlife.

They can especially appreciate God’s protection knowing there were no fatalities and very few injuries.

Hopefully the next time we hear sirens and enter our “safe room”, they will remember that God is bigger than any bad thing that could possibly come our way.

 They have a better understanding of how people can help one another…

by passing out bottled water,

receiving free food from community businesses,

and the discovery, saving, and return of somebody’s cherished friends.

No, they aren’t yet fourteen.  They aren’t adults.  They are eight and ten, and they were very valuable volunteers today.  They worked just as hard as any of the 500+ volunteers on site today and I believe they will teach their future children how important it is to help when help is needed.

8 and 10 going on 14, going on 41, going on 81“, as I see it.  One generation teaching another generation to care about people.  Learning to be kind, compassionate, and caring toward one another.

This is Christian Homeschooling 101, and we don’t even care that we didn’t get our book work done today!

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Church, Family, Friends, Gifts, God, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Life, Missions, Parenting, Trials, Weather

I would rather pull my teeth out

I would rather pull my teeth out, one by one, with a set of rusty pliers on a snowy day in the middle of the desert than….

teach my children to write!

There!  Somehow that made this homeschooling day a little bit better 🙂

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Filed under Attitude, Children, Confession, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Humor, Life, Stress, Trials

Life Altering Events and the Resulting Resolutions

Life has a way of molding and shaping both the good and the bad in a person.  For me, as I now am in the middle years of life, I look back and remember certain events, people, or things that have shaped Julie.  Each “lesson learned” listed below is the result of a specific battle or circumstance in my life thus far.  Now, I just have to figure out a way to convey them to my children in such a way that they will understand withOUT experiencing the events that led to the lessons…

…for as some say “Wisdom is best learned by heeding warnings from others, rather than learning from experience.

1.  Stay committed to my marriage, even when it is hardest.

2.  Never let a man hit me more than once.

3.  Never let my children be hit by a man….even once.

4.  Never leave my kids when they need me most.

5.  Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t do drugs.

6.  Say “I love you” as often as possible.

7.  Let my family know that I have a relationship with the Lord so that they don’t have to worry where I went when I go.

8.  Follow the speed limits — it’s not worth the risk.

9.  Don’t always believe everything I hear.

10.  Success is not measured in riches, big houses, titles or degrees.

11.  God is the Provider….It’s all His anyway.

12.  “Stuff” is just “stuff”.

13.  Sometimes I have to remove myself to gain perspective.

14.  The older I get, the less I know.

15.  The older I get, the more I realize I depend on God.

16.  The older I get, the more I realize how much God knows.

17.  A Christian eventually begins to view life through God’s eyes.  Priorities change dramatically when that happens.

18.  Kids need Grandparents.

19.  Kids need love.

20.  Kids need to play and be kids as long as possible.

21. Trust and honesty is really, really, really, really, really important.

22.  Sometimes I think too much.  It helps to just. not. think.

23.  Depression is best handled by laying it all in God’s hands.

24.  Plan a little, but live alot.

25.  Sometimes the “t’s” don’t have to be crossed, and the “i’s” don’t have to be dotted.  It’s ok to missspell a word occasionally too.

26.  Friends can be family.

27.  I love to be loved too.

28.  Some things are for me NOT to know.

29.  Don’t have high expectations of others.  Sometimes it’s best not to have any expectations at all.

30.  To be continued as life goes on….

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Once upon a time…

Once upon a time, long long ago…(ok, well not TOO long ago), there was a fair maiden named Juliet.  She married a handsome prince and had four wonderful children.  Two of her children grew up and married handsome princes of their own.  These two men were valiant and brave members of the knighthood, serving a country who stood on the premise of freedom for all.  All peoples in the kingdom of this wonderful land lived together in peace and harmony…

…until one day their castles fell. 

Two beautiful castles as high as the sky it seemed came crashing to the ground, bringing all those inside to certain death.  Down came the Mommies and Daddies.  Down came the children.  Down came 3,000 + people who lived in the kingdom of the free and the brave.

How could this be?  How could anyone disturb this serene land?  Who would ever think of devising such a plan as to bring down the beautiful castles and break the hearts of the kingdom?

A very wicked bad man…yes, an unconscionable evil character who proclaimed that the free and the brave should not be free any longer.  His awful scheme to control the world for his “god” became the battle cry as he declared this a “holy” war against all those who are from this great land.  He was out to wage war against all the good and fair peoples of the world…

…and wage war he did.

“Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God . . . . I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America.”  Osama bin Laden to Time Magazine

Bringing down the two castles killed the 3,000.  Brick by falling brick, their families were suddenly faced with insurmountable futures.  Dust by particle of dust falling from the sky, the people in the great land began to realize that they were not safe and happy any longer.

Doubts, fears, mistrust, among other perilous plights surfaced daily, weekly, monthly, and during the next decade.  No longer did the people feel safe.  No longer did they roam freely upon the great land.

‎”We will not tire.  We will not falter.  We will not fail.” George W. Bush, 10/26/01

Efforts were made by the land’s government to find the wicked man and his ranks.  Search parties were sent out among the world, seeking the hide-out of this evil leader.  Vast wealth and riches from the governmental storehouses were spent to fund this effort, but to no avail…

…until 10 years later…

“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden…”  President Barak Obama, May 1, 2011

…when a group of soldiers like the valiant princes in Juliet’s family boarded four helicopters and landed upon the evil fortress taking down the wicked mastermind of the castle destruction.

Oh the people rejoiced!  Oh how happy they were! With raised hands, dancing and clapping, they shouted the name of the great land into the night as word spread of the evil man’s fall!

“The wicked end has come!”, they shouted.  “Our battle is won!”  “Praises to the One and True God of the land who has promised peace and tranquility to all who follow Him!”, they thought.

Now the valiant princes can come home!  Now the princesses will spend their “happily ever after” with the man they love!  Now there will be love, such love, and happiness among all the world!

No fear.  No tears.  No mistrust.  No inappropriate pat-downs at the royal airport.

All is well again in the great and free land!

…but then the fair maiden began to stir.  Tossing her covers aside, and waking from her deep sleep, she faced a harsh reality…

…the reality that all is NOT well.  The great land is still NOT safe, and the evil conqueror may be dead, but has many loyal followers who would just as soon kill again.

The people rejoice too vibrantly.  They appear across news stations smiling and jumping up and down not even fully understanding the true war that continues to rage.

The valiant princes remain military soldiers in an even more dangerous battle now that the “pot has been stirred”.  They will not be coming home today.  Peace will not come.  Not now…..maybe not ever.

Evilness continues to reign freely in the ranks of the fallen dictator.  Many more tyrants and terrorists will most likely commit their life to dying for the wicked cause.

Peace will not come this day because it has been foretold and proven to be a world of unrest until the one day when our true and glorious rescue will come.

” Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  Revelation 19: 11-16

Upon a white stallion, amidst abundant light, THE Light, Jesus Christ, will return to end the battle!  He will strike evil between the eyes, crushing the darkness with His very fingertip.  

Juliet knows that this “dream” of the wicked ruler and his fall was only a dream….a fairytale.

Reality sets in when she stops to contemplate that the battles of this world are only because of man’s depravity and sinful nature.  The enemy is satan and ourself.  We pretend to be “kings” and “queens” who deserve a life of happiness and comfort, when in actuality, our pride and selfishness lead to others falling into jealousy, rage, contempt, and war….a holy war.  Maybe even to be described as our “holier than thou” war for that is the way it is perceived to those outside of the Lord’s wisdom.

No, the princes will not come home today.  The war is not over.  They will continue to fight for freedom, putting their lives on the line daily.

No, peace will not reign today. 

No, the people of the great land, who misunderstand the will of God, continue to jubilantly rejoice totally unaware of what is to come.

God never promised us a “rose garden”.  He never said we will reign in peace without despair and tribulation.  On the contrary, He made very clear that the enemy of this world will fight unto death to destroy the works created by the Creator.

Fortunately for those who believe, we can rest on a happy ending.  As we continue to face these trials and chaos, we can know that God is still God.  There’s not a day’s event that surprises Him.  He knows already.

 So, if there must be jubilant rejoicing, let it be for Him! 

If there must be smiles upon the death of a raging tyrant, let it be proclaimed as a victory for the Lord!

If there must be more fighting, more security, more risk, let it be because we as Americans have founded our nation upon godly principles and understand that freedom and liberty is worth fighting for!

Osama bin Laden is dead.  Hussein is dead.  Hitler is dead.  So many evil dictators are dead, their works destroyed and their life worthless because they are D.E.A.D.

On the contrary, Jesus is ALIVE! 

I can only think of one death that brought the world peace and we celebrated His resurrection a week ago!” as posted on FB by Mike, who borrowed from J. Riddle, who apparently borrowed from her sister 🙂

Our God is greater!  Our God is stronger!

God, You are higher than any other!

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