Raising the next generation to shine for HIM!

Raising the next generation to shine for HIM!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why We Chose To Homeschool

When my oldest turned 3, my husband and I quickly started researching preschools.  We wanted the best school to send him to.  We wanted a loving teacher, small class size, parent involved school and a school that had some type of character building curriculum.  We found the perfect preschool and the following fall, with backpack and supplies in hand, Braden began school.

I spent a lot of time at the school.  With my youngest still a baby, I made sure to have sitters lined up so that I could spend a lot of time in Braden's classroom.  When a parent that was scheduled to work in the room had other responsibilities, the teacher's would have my name and number a the top of the list to fill in.  I loved being a part of his schooling.  I loved singing songs about his numbers and ABC's, learning right beside him.  As the school year was coming to a close, I was nominated to be on the preschool board.  I was so excited because I knew that this would be the next step to being more involved in his education and I knew his little brother would be coming up to begin preschool soon and I could then have a huge part in his education as well.

That summer as I was preparing to accept the nomination that I was given, God was pulling me in a new direction.  All of a sudden the word "homeschooling" was popping up in my head.  I would quickly disregard this tugging on my heart and continue to be excited and prepare for the upcoming preschool board meeting.  Now let me stop for a moment and tell you honestly what I thought of homeschooling at that time ;) I thought it was THE craziest idea that any parent could possibly have for their child.  I definitely thought that a parent could never be fully equipped to teach academics to their children without a teaching degree.  In my mind, all homeschool children wore white keds and long skirts and didn't know how to socialize.  Basically, homeschooling was far from normal and far from what I wanted to do.  God then began to show me "normal" homeschool families.  The crazy thing is that one of the "normal" homeschool families I knew were in my family as my Aunt and Uncle homeschooled my cousins.  I kind of just thought it was a weird phase they were in and I just overlooked it.  I then began to think back when I babysat for a homeschool family.  I really enjoyed this family and loved how close they were.  At this point I began to talk to my hubby about it.  Let's just say, our first talk didn't go the greatest.  I have a tendency to come up with some "crazy" ideas that I share with my husband and he will laugh or think, "here she goes again."  That is basically the same reaction I got from him when I brought up homeschooling.  God didn't give up on us though and he continuously laid it on my heart and I continuously brought it up in my conversations with Matt (my hubby).  He started to truly listen to me and we began to research shortly after me saying no to the preschool board nomination.  The first person I called was my Aunt and she gave me information on a homeschool convention where I could go and just see what homeschooling was all about and what opportunities were out there.  I had also just recently met a seasoned homeschool mom at my church and she suggested a curriculum to check out.  We went to the convention, bought a curriculum and the "idea" of homeschooling was quickly becoming a reality.

We began our homeschooling journey in September of 2008.  I am now homeschooling a very energetic 2nd grade boy, an eager kindergartner and busy toddler.  I am amazed by all of the blessings that homeschooling has given our family.  We have grown so close through this time as we build one another up and encourage one another daily through school and life.  One of my favorite character building themes we have studied lately is this:  I show love to everyone, especially my family.  Our love for another has matured and we are able to share that love with others around us, being a light for God as we go about our day.  There are many stories that I could share with you ofI would like to end with a verse that many of you know but I believe describes what my husband and I strive for as a family as we homeschool and as we live our lives.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

New International Version (NIV)
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fresh Recipe: Granola Bars

  • rolled oats_DxO1.jpg
  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini M & M's
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, honey and brown sugar. Stir in the m & m's and raisins.

  • Press mixture firmly into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

Fresh Recipe: Crockpot Chili


1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 lbs. kidney beans
2 lbs. canned crushed tomatoes
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin

Mix all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Fresh Recipe: Stuffed Shells


1 8 oz. package of large shells (you will use approximately 25 shells)
2 15 oz. packages of small curd cottage cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
2 eggs
1 cup cooked chopped spinach
1 jar spaghetti sauce or about 3 cups

Boil noodles according to package directions, adding oil to water so they won't stick together.  Meanwhile, mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan, salt, pepper, parsley, spinach and eggs.

Drain noodles;  run cold water over it.  Stuff each shell with cheese mixture.  Place them in a 9x13 greased baking dish, and pour sauce around the stuffed shells. Sprinkle desired amount of mozzarella cheese and shredded fresh parmesan over sauce. Cover dish with foil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake dish covered for 45 min. and uncovered for 15 minutes more.

Fresh Recipe: Hummus and Pita Bread


Hummus Recipe
1 can garbanzo beans/chick peas (or 1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (I used a full 1/2 cup, we like our hummus creamy)

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor (I use my Magic Bullet). Add olive oil until the hummus is the consistency you like, and season to taste. It’s that easy! You can also add Tahini if you would like.

Pita Bread Recipe
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water and let rest 10 minutes. Mix salt and 1 cup warm water. Put flour in a mixing bowl and make a well. Add the yeast water and mix. Add the salt water and mix thoroughly. Knead in the oil for 10 minutes. Cover and rise until double (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
Knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into balls the size of golf balls. Shape into balls, and roll to 3/8 inch thick. Prick each piece of rolled dough with a fork.
Cook on a dry or lightly-oiled griddle for 3 minutes each side. Keep cooked pitas covered with a towel so they don’t dry out.

Frugal Recipe: Fabric Softener


1 Container of Name Brand Fabric Softener
                                4 Inexpensive sponges, cut in half

Pour entire container of softener into an empty container. Fill empty softener container with water twice. (2 parts water to 1 part softener) Add sponges to softener/water mixture. When ready to use wring out extra mixture from one sponge and add to the dryer as you would a dryer sheet.

If you would like to use a liquid fabric softener, I would suggest putting about a 1/4 cup white vinegar in your wash cycle.

Frugal Recipe: Dusting Spray

1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon essential oil
1 3/4 cups water

Pour all three ingredients into an empty spray bottle. Shake well and spritz on furniture. Wipe with an old cotton t-shirt. Done!

Frugal Recipe: Fabric freshener (febreeze)

3 Cups Water
3 Tablespoons Liquid Fabric Softener
3 Tablespoons Rubbing Alcohol

Mix all three ingredients in a spray bottle.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fresh Recipe: Organic Banana Bread and Banana Bread French Toast

Here is a great recipe for banana bread using organic and all natural ingredients and after, a recipe for all banana bread french toast using your leftover bread.

4 ripe organic bananas, mashed
1/3 cup melted organic butter
1 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic baking soda (I use Bob's red mill brand)
pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cups organic hard white wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla.  Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over mixture and mix in.  Add the flour last and mix in.  Pour mixture in a buttered 4x8 inch bread loaf pan.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Cool on a cooling rack.  Remove from pan and slice to serve.

*Makes one loaf

Banana Bread French Toast

Raw milk
Organic eggs
Organic vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon sugar

1.)  lightly toast your sliced banana bread
2.)  mix 3 eggs and one cup of milk in a bowl
3.)  add a teaspoon of vanilla 
4.)  mix well with a whisk
5.)  melt a Tablespoon of butter on your griddle
6.)  dip both sides of your bread into your batter
7.)  fry in butter until both sides are golden brown
8.)  mix together cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl.
9.)  place on your plate and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture, top with slices of banana and warmed organic syrup.

*this will make about 4 slices of french toast

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fresh Recipe: Organic White Wheat Bread (Breadmaker recipe)

I have been thinking about making my own bread for awhile now and to stop buying the processed bread at the store but I was worried it was going to be too difficult so I kept putting it off.  The first thing I needed to do was find a good place to purchase my organic white wheat flour from and a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a lady that sells her goods at the Lansing City Market.  She was fabulous.  She explained to me the many reasons why it's so important to make your own bread and be aware of what you are using to make it with.  She explained to me that not even a cockroach would touch the white flour we purchase from the grocery store but yet we are all still filling our bodies with it.  Anyway, she has helped me on my road to breadmaking and the first thing I told her was, "I know that the best way to make bread is to use the breadmaking hands God has given me but that with 3 young kids and a house to keep up and homeschooling, I really need to use my breadmaker." She assured me that this was not cheating and that she would often use a breadmaker as well, phew! that made me feel a whole lot better :)  So I started playing around and just recently I got the perfect and yummiest bread and so I wanted to share my recipe here.  I have also included a link below for The Grain Market, which is where I purchase my organic flour from, $5.50 for 5 lbs.

This recipe is for a 2lb loaf

1 and 3/8 cups water
2 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons raw milk
1 and 3/4 teaspoons salt
4 cups organic whole hard white wheat flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1.) Measure and add liquid ingredients to the bread pan
2.) Measure and add dry ingredients except yeast to the bread pan
3.) use your finger to make a well in the flour where you will pour the yeast.  Yeast must NEVER come into contact with a liquid when you are adding ingredients.  Measure the yeast and carefully pour it into the well.
4.) snap the baking pan into the breadmaker and close the lid
5.) choose the basic bread setting on your breadmaker
6.) choose the crust you prefer ( I used the light crust setting)
7.) press the start button


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fresh Recipe: Salsa

I recently took a trip to the farmers market and there was a booth that was selling "salsa in a bag."  In the bag had every ingredient you need to make fresh salsa and it turned out FABULOUS so I wanted to share the recipe here :)

2 Roma tomatoes
1 yellow banana pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 small white onion
2 green onions
2 T. chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves
1 small green pepper

Chop up all ingredients to your liking.  I actually put the roma tomatoes in a blender to start and then chopped up the large pieces that were left unblended.  And that's it :)  Yummy easy, fresh salsa at a cost of around $5.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Frugal Recipes: Window Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup ammonia
  • 2 cups rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon dishwashing soap
  • 1 gallon water
  • Directions:
  1. Mix all ingredients together, adding just enough water to reach the 1 gallon mark, and divide up into spray bottles for all bathrooms.
  2. Can also be used to clean exterior windows. (haven't tried it outside but look forward to in the Spring) If doing a big job like that, make sure the water is hot. That will help to dissolve the dirt
*I poured the mixture in an old gallon milk jug and then poured what I needed into spray bottles.
* This averages .50 cents for a 32 oz. bottle.  Meijer brand glass cleaner is 1.99 so you are saving 1.50 :)

Frugal Recipes: Laundry Soap

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)
*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

*Just a reminder-  This is a non sudsing soap so don't be alarmed if you don't see suds, it's still working :)

The cost per load is less than a penny :)

On The Road To A Healthy/frugal Life: Raw Milk

What is raw milk?
     It is a natural, unaltered milk from cows, goats and sheep.  

I had been hearing a lot of people talking about raw milk lately and so I began to research the benefits to see if this would be a good change for our family.  I was amazed by all the benefits that are in it.  There are higher levels of nutrients in raw milk like calcium, iron and zinc. Did you know that it was used to cure chronic diseases at one point in our past history?  There are a ton of natural antibodies in raw milk as well as a fatty acid that can help fight cancer. I always thought that raw milk would make you sick and that's why everything is pasteurized.  Nope, not true.  There are many other things that you have a higher chance to get a foodborne illness from such as tacos, cheeseburgers, pizza, chicken and produce. The only reason it's pasteurized is to have a longer shelf life for the convenience of grocery stores.  The pasteurization process kills the beneficial bacteria, healthy enzymes and proteins. Two of my children have severe allergies and asthma and I have read in recent studies that raw milk is actually the better choice milk for those with these health concerns and that they will most likely suffer less if drinking it.  A lot of us are so stuck on the low fat milk kick because we think it's healthier and less fattening but we lose all of the great benefits that milk has like, growth, health and development. I also read recently that low fat milk actually makes you gain weight and can also cause fertility problems.  The vitamins A and D that is in the raw milk verses low fat milk is very important in the absorption of calcium and also contains a lot of the fatty acids that help us fight disease.  Some people think they are lactose intolerant but they are actually reacting because the milk is pasteurized.  Another benefit to raw milk as far as saving money goes is that it will never go bad like pasteurized milk.  It will turn sour but when it does this you can still use it in baking where as pasteurized milk would need to be tossed.  And as a side note, it just tastes better :)

A few of the scary things I found out about the milk we buy in the grocery store is that some actually have bleach added in to make it look more white.  A lot of the "grocery store milk" cows need to be fed antibiotics because they are being held in small pens and just being fed a lot of grain.  Ultimately the milk you find in your grocery store can be more harmful than what people think of raw milk because of all the antibiotics and hormones that are given to these factory line cows and then consumed by you and I.

If you begin to search for a place to purchase raw milk, make sure it is grass fed so that you can benefit from more of the nutrients.  You may have a hard time finding a farm to buy raw milk because it is actually illegal in Michigan.  The only way that this is legal is by purchasing a herd share which ranges from $50-$75 that is paid per year.  You will then need to pay boarding fees which is around $20-$40 a month which will get you one gallon of milk per week. One gallon of raw milk, as long as it is stored properly in a cold refrigerator should last up to 2 weeks. I have added a link to help you in your search for raw milk :)

We have decided to make the switch and have really enjoyed it.  I can only hope and pray that some day our government will see the benefits of raw milk and allow it to be legal to sell, but until then we will continue to go "underground" to purchase our milk and will never go back and I believe that if you begin to research like I did you will be doing the same thing.  Raw milk is THE way that God intended us to drink milk :)


All I Need

Last week was the deadline to sign my boys up for soccer in the Fall.  I had put a reminder in my planner so that I would make sure to sign them up and pay for the season.  I kept seeing it creep up closer and closer and started to get nervous as I watched the amount drop in our checking account.  There was no way we would be able to sign them up this season, the money just wasn't there.  I had even contemplated letting the account go negative just so that they would be able to play.  I was having nightmares, the "You are a horrible Mom because you can't even afford soccer for your kids," kind.  As Wednesday came and went I felt so sick.  I would think to myself, "this is horrible, how could I let this happen?"  I dreaded having to tell the boys that they weren't going to be able to play.

This scenario has happened more than once in our household.  With a family of five on one income there is a lot that we just can't add to the pocket book.  I honestly can't remember a time where we haven't struggled financially and it was really starting to get to me.  Why wasn't God letting me sign my kids up for soccer?  Why wasn't God letting us take a family vacation?  Why wasn't God letting us get new windows for the house so that our electric bill would just go down?  Every day my prayer was a cry  out to God basically saying, "It's not enough! YOUR not enough!

Contentment.  This is the word that was constantly being thrown into my brain.  I would hear it as I was washing dishes on only one side of the sink because we hadn't had the money to fix the other side and I sat there grumbling, "if only I could use the other side, dishes would go so much faster."  I would hear it as I watched my younger son riding a bike that is two times too small because I would sit on the porch thinking about spending money on a credit card so that he could at least ride a bike that fit.  I would hear it as sweat throughout my day because we ONLY have a window air conditioner.  All of these things, that's what they are, THINGS!  It's wanting and having and lusting over and desiring.  It's not being content with what God HAS given you, but constantly asking and WANTING more.  This word, contentment had been haunting me for days.  At first I didn't want to listen.  I wanted to have my pity party and whine and complain and pout.  It wasn't fair.  Other people had central air.  Other people can take vacations.  Other people can buy proper fitting riding equipment for their kids.  God didn't stop reminding me.  He kept finding ways to show me ways I could be content and after tugging and pulling, as I usually do when He tries to teach me things, I finally began to give in.

I looked up the word content in the dictionary.  Those of you who have read my blog in the past know how much I LOVE the meanings of words :)  The meaning for content is satisfied.  I definitely was not satisfied.  God then showed me a few verses:
     Proverbs 17:1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
     Proverbs 30:8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;  give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me        only my daily bread.
     Ecclesiastes 3:13  That everyone might eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil-This is the gift of God.
There are many other verses but these were my favorite.  My house was definitely not peaceful and quiet when it came to the complaints on what I wanted.  My satisfaction level was way below zero.  These verses were actually telling me that contentment and satisfaction were a gift from God.  God had been trying to give me this gift and instead I was screaming and yelling and demanding what he wasn't giving to me.  I finally sat down, sat, not standing up and screaming and threw my hands up and said, "God, YOU are all I need.  YOU are the one that satisfies me.  YOU are the one that can give me peace and contentment in life.  Lord, I no longer want for THINGS but want YOU"

So my boys won't be playing soccer on a team in the fall but we will be basking in God's glory and running around in the beautiful green grass of our own backyard kicking a ball around with the people we love.  God has given us a gift if we are willing to take it.  He WILL give us all we need and if we focus on Him and be satisfied with the life and things He has given us than our lives will feel blessed.  YOU God are my everything!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why We Chose Natural Family Planning

Here's my birth controlled background:  I first started taking some form of prescribed birth control when I was 19 years old.  My husband and I were engaged and I remember looking at a list I had created on what I needed to do before the big day and on that list was, start birth control.  I honestly just thought, that is what you do.  You get engaged, you start birth control.  Everyone would tell me how important it was to start the pill before the wedding day so that we wouldn't have to worry about the chance of ever getting pregnant.  I would hear things like, "make sure you wait a few years to have fun together before kids," or "kids change everything so make sure your bank account is ready."  As a young 19 year old, I listened and made the decision that the pill was the "only" option.  I never was myself after that day.  I had this little pill that controlled my menstrual cycle, my emotions, body type and my level of intimacy with my husband.  After each one of my children I was put back on some form of birth control at my six week check up because I was told, this is what you do.  Many selfish reasons make us turn to the use of birth controls and I urge you to look into your own lives, as I have, to make the choice that God has designed for us and our families.

I have always hated any prescribed birth control, which is why I have changed my mind on what type I would use so many times.  I am tired of having this "thing" control my body for the last 11 years.  I honestly remember the first time I heard the phrase "Natural Family Planning."  I remember the chuckle that my husband and I had in the car.  "That sounds nuts," we would say to each other.  I mean God created sex and he created babies.  What comes with sex with no protection is babies.  We told each other as we have often said this phrase to each other, "we will never do that."  It's amazing how God never lets things go.  He has been nudging me about this for the past 11 years and so I finally decided to listen.  I began to research 2 months ago because I had scheduled my yearly appointment with my OB doctor and as always I wanted to speak with him about my birth control method.  I was horrified by what I found when I began to dig into the lies of birth control methods.  The first group of articles I found were about how many prescribed birth control methods would allow the egg and sperm to meet but it would not be able to find a place to fertilize and so in turn, I would miscarry.  I would go about my every day life and maybe just have a heavier period but really it was because I had miscarried.  I was actually aborting babies.  Ending a pregnancy before I would ever know I was pregnant.  I was ruining the creation that God has intended.  I was also reading more into the side effects of my specific birth control, an IUD.  Side effects were things like, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic pain, sepsis, migrains, acne, depression and the list goes on and on.  Why do we as women need to be on birth control? because we listen to the media biases? because our doctor said we should?  I then started researching biblically.  I wanted to dig into God's word to see what He wants as I always do when I make decisions like this.  There is no verse that specifically says, birth control is bad but as I read verses that discussed faith, babies and our responsibility as Christians, I was amazed by what God revealed to me.

I think the most important thing that God revealed to me was that ultimately, I am not in control.  He has also revealed to me that we should be good stewards and be responsible parents.  In 1 Corinthians 6 it starts out with this: "I am allowed to do all things, but not all things are good for me to do.  I am allowed to do all things but I will not let anything make me it's slave."  God "allows" us to choose (free will) but He reminds us that all things are not good for me.  After reading the side effects of prescribed birth control, I can't see what is good for me in that.  He also wants us to not be a slave to anything.  Are we not a slave to our prescribed birth control? Does it not tell us when we will have our period, when we will ovulate, etc. etc.?  Paul then continues on in 1 Corinthians 6 to tell us in the beginning of verse 15, "surely you know that your bodies are parts of Christ himself."  Would Christ want me to be putting something in my body that takes that control away from Him? Definitely not.

I then started to read verses that talk about the beginning of life.  I was drawn to Psalm 139 that we all know so well and in verses 13-16 it says this, "You made my whole being;  you formed me in my mother's body.  I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.  What you have done is wonderful.  I know that full well.  You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother's body.  When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed.  All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old."  As I read that verse I was reminded of some of the research I found that sometimes, chemical abortions are taking place in our bodies when on birth control.  I believe in life the minute that sperm and egg meet.  I could be ruining God's plan as he begins to knit together and form a new life and as He writes the blueprint for this new child, I am standing behind Him erasing it all.  There are times that women become pregnant while on a prescribed birth control and later have no choice but to end the pregnancy because it has turned into an ectopic pregnancy.  By using Natural Family planning, if by chance, I become pregnant, we can embrace the pregnancy and know that this is God's child, a gift He has begun to form in my womb, a blessing to be loved and cared for.

When I began to ask God to show me if Natural Family Planning was the right choice for us, to be honest, I was a little scared.  I was afraid that He would reveal to me that I should never delay pregnancy and that everyone is called to have a quiver full (in reference to psalm 127).  Amazingly I felt that God was showing me more, the truth about Natural Family Planning.  The key word in NFP is PLANNING.  I found throughout my research that if done correctly and consistently, there is an 85-99% effectiveness.  The same percentage as any chemical birth control.  I found that there is no reason to pump my body with a chemical because God created my body perfect.  He has given us as women a "work like a clock" type of body.  I was actually feeling more empowered as a woman knowing how special my body is.  I also was sad to think that I have never really learned how my body has actually ticked for the past 11 years.  I now know when I am fertile and when to abstain from sex and use harmless forms of contraception such as condoms.  I also am able to enjoy the complete intimacy with my husband without a chemical controlling my emotions and ruining our intimate bond that God describes so well in Genesis 2:25 that says, "so a man will leave his mother and father and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body."  God then led me to 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 which says, "We are allowed to do all things, but not all things are good for us to do.  We are allowed to do all things, but not all things help others grow stronger.  Do not look out only for yourselves.  Look out for the good of others as well."  I read this verse reminded that God has given us free will.  He allows us to make choices in life.  My husband and I may decide that now is not the right time to bring another child into the world because it would not be good for our other children or spouse in our family.  We don't just make this decision on our own, we bring our requests to God and He is the one who will ultimately decide. I feel at peace with the fact that after praying and pondering on the idea of another child, we truly feel like God is saying, "not now!"  With NFP we can safely and biblically delay a pregnancy.  We also know that ultimately God is in control and we are completely open to His plan for us.  If he surprises us with a blessing that we may think, "We are not ready for this," we know that He has already written a blueprint for this child and knit them together in my womb and we will embrace the blessing that he gives us.

I would like to end with a verse from the book of psalms.  I often hear this verse associated with Natural Family Planning all the time.  I read this verse knowing that ultimately my heavenly Father is the one who creates life and when that happens we should rejoice in the blessing and not look at our children as a "mistake" or an "oops" but to look at this child as a child of God, a child that we have the privilege to raise as great warriors for Christ and to be the next generation of Christ followers and leaders.

Psalm 127:3-5
Children are a gift from the Lord;  babies are a reward.  Children who are born to a young man are like arrows in the hand of a warrior.  Happy is the man who has his bag full of arrows.  They will not be defeated when they fight their enemies at the city gate.

For more information on Natural Family Planning, visit these sites below

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My First Homeschool Graduation

I was so excited to hear that my cousin was going to be graduating high school from homeschooling this year and I have looked forward to seeing the graduation ever since the news.  I was truly inspired by both the parents and students as I sat there practically in tears for the full two hour graduation this past Saturday. I left feeling a sense of happiness that one day that will be me and my child/children on the podium.  I could not have been more proud of my Aunt, the teacher and of my cousin, the student for taking on the journey of homeschooling and succeeding.

The night began with the child being walked down the aisle with their parents.  I thought this was such a beautiful symbol of accomplishment for not only the child but for their parent as well.  I was so proud of these parents for going the distance and finishing the race of schooling their children, some for all 13-14 years of school.  I know how difficult the day in the life of homeschooling can be and I think this graduation helped me feel like I could do it.  These parents were able to express there love to these kids through a short speech and a lot of the speeches started with, "it was not always easy," and I wanted to yell out an "AMEN" or start clapping.  But every speech ended with things like. "I wouldn't have had it any other way," or "I am so proud of the man or woman you have become today because of our journey of homeschooling." You could see the tight relationships these kids had with their parents.  You could see the look of respect in their eyes and you could see how thankful they were for their parents being there through every step of their life.

The next part of the graduation was a mixture of small speeches or poems being spoken by each student. There were only 17 kids graduating.  I was blown away by each speech that each student had to say.  I could not believe how strongly grounded in Christ each one was.  How each child mentioned that they are living the life God wants for them and that that is what they are striving for.  They continuously talked about how life isn't all about the college you are going to attend after school or the career that your are going to pursue but that they would follow God's lead and that their main focus was to be a light to the world and others around them no matter what their future holds.  Each one seemed way more mature in their faith than I am even as a 30 yr. old woman.  Each one showed confidence in what they believed in.  Just amazing!

The last part of the ceremony was the parents being able to present the diploma to their child.  Of course, this was when the tears just came streaming down my face.  I wanted to jump up and give each parent a huge hug and say, "you did it!"  They may have struggled at times and wanted to quit, they may have gone to bed and said to themselves. "I just can't continue this anymore," they may have had a melt down in the middle of a teaching session and felt like a failure. But today they were not a failure, and today showed that they had achieved a great accomplishment and that with God they trained their child up to be the godly adult that is equipped to go out in the world and change lives.

One of the verses that was mentioned a couple times was Hebrews 12:1-3
     Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it's shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I find that verse encouraging to me as a homeschool mom as well as my children.  I feel that this verse gives me comfort that yes, we are running a race which is long and has hardships but that if we fix our eyes on our creator that he will get us to the finish line.

If you are considering homeschooling or have just begun homeschooling I would encourage you to attend a homeschool graduation.  I cannot imagine anyone leaving and feeling that homeschooling is not the right choice for their family.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pondering A Proverb - Week 1

Each week our family memorizes a proverb together.  We started in the fall as a suggestion from the homeschool curriculum we use (My Father's World) and it has made a huge impact on us all.

This weeks proverb:
" A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."
           Proverbs 22:9

The first time you read a bible verse you take it more literal so the first thing that came to mind was to give food and money to those in need.  After reading it over and letting it sink in I began to think of other ways that I could interpret it.  I started to google some of the words in the verse, I absolutely love finding meaning to words.  The first word I looked up was, generous and the definition that I found, that I liked was this:  open handed or free to give.  I started to think that there are other ways to be generous in life, besides the obvious of food, shelter and water.  I started to also think of how there are so many needs that people have that are not just physical but emotional as well.  There are days when I sit down and start thinking about all the things I can do to help people and ways to volunteer but then I look at my young children and think, there is no way I will be able to do all these things with them in tow.  So I started thinking about ways I could be generous and help my kids be generous in ways that were realistic to our stage in life.  We started brainstorming how we could freely give to others and this is what we came up with:  making cards for others, being available to have a playdate to fellowship with a mom in need or to give a mom a break :)  praying daily for needs of others, calling up our special friends and family to give an "I love you," bringing a meal to a family in need and our list began to grow.  So if you are like me and want to help the world in every way you can but feel like you can't, you CAN! Just sit back and think of those little things that may NOT be so little to those in need.

Okay, so now to the next part I pondered.  I googled the word poor and this was the definition I found, lacking in a specified resource or quality.  Right away when you hear the word "poor,"  you think, they have no money.  What about those who are poor in spirit?  What about those who lack Christ in their lives?  I began to think that there are so many that lack that quality.  That lack the riches of Christ in their lives.  Then the brainstorming began :)  How can we share our riches of having Christ with others?  Why is it that we always want to just give money and things to people but never sit down and give them the biggest blessing of all;  sharing the gift that God has given us.  The gift of eternal life.  We started to talk about how we shouldn't keep these riches all to ourselves but be "generous" with this gift that God has given us and share it with ANYONE around us.

Then the last part was being blessed when we are generous.  Here is the definition for blessing:  God's favor and protection.  What could be better than that?  When we freely give to others in every way then God gives freely to us.  By being generous to others God shows his generosity to us by freely giving his favor and protection.

So this week I encourage you to be generous to others.  To be FULLY blessed by God!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wow! I am starting to blog

I have thought about starting a blog for some time now but I have waited to take the plunge until now.  I am excited to share with all of you about the every day things that go on in this crazy thing called "my life."  I have read and followed so many blogs written by other people but never thought mine could possibly live up to the inspiring stories of people I have read about. I hope that if you are reading and following mine, that I don't disappoint you and that when you come to my blog you will leave encouraged and uplifted and maybe a little challenged.  This blog will consist of daily ramblings, quotes I LOVE, articles I am inspired by and lots of other odds and ends.  So.......Happy Reading :)