Thursday, July 21, 2016

Help Me Pray

Wilson is three years old now and very much into "I can do it myself". He doesn't want to have to hold my hand or have me spotting him on playground apparatus. But there is one thing he always asks for help. "Mommy, help me pray?"
It's almost as if he's aware of the sovereign act we are engaging in. He isn't scared or helpless but he understands the need to approach the throne of God with respect and an attitude of a teachable spirit. His wild and crazy self calms to a still as he folds his hands and squinches his eyes shut. 
"Dear God..., Mommy, help me pray?" Those words squeeze my heart as I take my son's hand and together we go before our Father, telling Him about our day, praising Him for the blessings it held, asking for forgiveness and wisdom, and always ending with Wils' precious little voice, "I love you God!" 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Happy Birthday Jefferson, M.D.

 Jefferson has been gifted with a very gentle, calming, and discerning character. 
This comes through with the way he interacts with siblings and friends by being the one to sacrifice a favorite toy, give up the last special treat, or let everyone go ahead of him. 
 He is also quick to rush in whenever he perceives someone is upset or not feeling well. 
 His baby sister can't get out more than a few tearful sobs before he is by her side trouble shooting the situation. 
 His natural bent to listen, care, and protect has been coming through in his desire to be a doctor one day. 
 He has decided he wants to be "a doctor that takes care of kids." And there's no doubt in this world that he will be incredible at it if that is indeed the path God has planned for him. 
 So in light of his career passion, he requested a doctor themed birthday party months ago and sent us whirling into a creative frenzy to come up with doctor themed party ideas. 
 My sister once again pulled from her own creativity and with the help of our nurse Mamaw and other great ideas from family we created Jefferson the doctor party he had envisioned. 
 He had his own clinic with bandages and gauze, a stethoscope and tongue depressors. Not sure all he diagnosed that day, but every one of his patients ended up wrapped in some kind of bandage. 
His talented aunt made him his dream doctor cake complete with "medicine" and a syringe. 
 He was surrounded by incredible family and friends who have watched him grow these past five years into the little man he is as he opened presents and blew out candles. 
 We had a blast celebrating this incredible guy and his doctor themed party! We can't wait to see how God uses the personality we are seeing in our Jeff. It's been a rich five years and we can't wait for all that's ahead as we watch him grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men! 

Friday, July 8, 2016

My Country Tis of Thee

Our July 4th started cloudy, gloomy, cold, and rainy. 
Not sure if "bombs bursting in air" was going to be on the agenda so we did the next best thing and went to Chick-Fil-A. 
Once we got the two younger kiddos in bed the rain let up enough to give Matt the idea to run and grab some last minute fireworks from a parking lot vendor. 
Even though it was misting the entire time, it wasn't enough to dampen fuses or excitement. 
The big boys stayed up hours past their bedtime with Matt making all kinds of explosions and flames. It was better than Christmas morning. 
They both agreed America's birthday is one of the best and they wished we could celebrate it more often. 
In light of all the darkness in our country it's hard to celebrate watching the direction we are headed as a nation. It's hard to know what kind of country these sparkler wielding boys will be growing up in. 
But I do know this, I know this country's birthday is celebrated because remarkable men and women of God took an incredibly bold stand and some even lost their lives. They persevered to provided their children's children one nation under God, and so will we. 
America needs more warriors on their knees willing to take incredibly bold stands for Christ. And that's what we celebrate, even in this dark and heavy time, the strength we find on our knees before the throne of God in a country we are free to do so. 
God Bless America.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Whole Hand Birthday Interview

Jefferson's official birthday interview!
What's your favorite color: Blue!
What's your favorite toy: My Captain America shield and mask
What's your favorite movie: Baymax!
What's your favorite food: Well, I do like those peas, and oh yeah, donuts! Those are special treats I like!
What is your favorite game: uh, how about tag!
What is your favorite snack? goldfish! 
What's your favorite song: You know what that is, Jesus is my Superhero! 
What's your favorite book: Star Wars ones, all of them!
Who's your best friend: My brothers, my whole family!
What's your favorite thing to play outside: Shoot my rocket up!
What do you want to be when you grow up: A doctor, a doctor that takes care of kids.
What's your favorite holiday: Christmas, because we get to celebrate God!
What's your favorite thing to sleep with: My blue!
What's your birthday meal: It's going to be Chick-a-Fway or the chip place (Chipotle). 
What's your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?: Bagel with honey
What's your favorite thing to watch on TV: The Lego Avengers one on Netflix!
What's your favorite fruit: Blueberries! All the blueberries!
What's your favorite animal: It's in the ocean, it's a shark, a whale shark. They're nice. 
What's your favorite thing to drink: Root beer in the glass bottles (IBC), it's my favorite. But I really like coffee and lattes too! 
What's your favorite Bible verse: The Sword sword! (Hebrews 4:12) I love that one! 
Jefferson, where do I start? You leave me speechless, truly. You are such a consistently caring, detailed, protector that I just catch my breath sometimes watching you hardly able to believe God chose me to be your Momma. You make us so proud as we watch the decisions you make to serve and honor God and your family. You are such a patient and gentle teacher to your younger siblings.
You have the best, deepest grin that makes the whole room brighter and a laugh that's contagious. You're brave and love working on your muscles. I call you my Cap because you are a Captain America. Your heart is huge towards others and you give selflessly. You love pistachios by the pound and climbing to the highest point of the playground. We love your whole being with all of ours Jefferson! We are so proud of you and the man you are becoming! Happy 5th Birthday to you our Jefferson! We love you! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

End of the School Year

 Well, the '15/'16 school year is in the books. We wrapped up first grade, pre-k, and "he thinks he's in kindergarten but we don't tell him otherwise."
 We've gained some new milestones this school year. 
 Madison added a whole new course of home economics as the boys learned how to make baby food, burp a baby, and "babysit" by playing with her for a few minutes while I vacuumed or made bread. 
 Wilson has learned his ABC's and can count to ten forwards and backwards though he routinely jumps around and creates whole new numerical patters. He loves singing the ABC song and makes sure to repeat "W, X, Y, and Z" at least five times before ending the song by dramatically holding out the word "me" until he turns purple. 
 Jefferson took off over the past three months. At first he wasn't too interested. He liked the idea of "school" but we stuck to learning through games and hands on play and kept text books out of it for awhile. By the winter he was hungry for learning and has soaked up pre-k type work. But math is his ball game. This kid is already on a first grade level. A few weeks ago he announced, "I know how to make 5 mom. You add 2+4-1=5!" He came up with that all on his own. For fun he'll sit and learn addition and subtraction facts. I know he didn't inherit that from me!
 Harrison cruised through first grade at a pretty steady pace, though senioritis set in somewhere in January. It was pulling teeth to get the guy's head in the game but I can't let his resistance fool him or me. The guy knows his stuff. He is reading so well, aced his spelling tests, and finished up math this year by learning multiplication. We are switching up some curriculum for 2nd grade to help engage his learning style a little more and hopefully we can make it past January before begging for summer break. 
 As far as the teacher, I learned a lot too this year. I learned to take some steps back and let them learn by struggling a bit more so they could experience the feeling of success by figuring it out on their own. I learned to step in sometimes and walk tired minds through something even when I know they know it and that's ok too. I learned when to tell which is needed. 
 I learned it's ok to sit and hold a baby while reading the science lesson or playing a math game. I learned red pen correction marks work really well for incentive to apply themselves to not receive anymore. I learned stickers by good work make the world go 'round. I learned it's ok to take a day off, away from books, and go study the animals at a farm, or learn about unit prices at a grocery store, or hike a few miles to a waterfall. 
 I learned comparing our school to any other is as wrong as comparing lives in general. Our school looks like us. I'm not pushing my kids to be prodigy students. They may show incredible skills in certain areas and I cheer that and aid in providing them with new challenges to grow in that area, but I'm not burning them out. I'm also not stressing them to improve their weak areas. We're working on those calmly and stress free because our learning doesn't have to happen just like someone else's. We aren't in this for a race to win or I've missed the point of homeschooling in the first place. 
 I'm providing these awesome people a safe place to grow. They are building on the minds God created in them. I think we've all learned to be content and enjoy "school" for what it is. Because our "school" doesn't just last September through May. We are constantly staying open to all that's around us to learn through the day to day. And maybe the few months we put away the text books are when we learn the most. 
When we sit calmly counting wave sets and learning how to observe for riptides. When we research what causes sun burn and how to prevent it. When we attempt to count grains of sand and get blown away by the mind of God. When we listen to thunderstorms, make homemade ice-cream, research sharks, and grow a garden. So here's to a great new "school year", summertime :) 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Is My Kid Too Young To Talk About Sex?

Post 4 in Discipleship in Safety
We start talking about sexual purity at a pretty young age. Before you completely think we've lost it, let me explain. 
Parents in general start talking to their baby the second he's place in their ams. They soon begin reading books and explaining the world around him/her well before the baby can repeat back anything they are saying. Why? Because that's how we learn to talk. Parents build a foundation with one word identifying nouns and verbs and then add adjectives and pronouns as their baby starts using the language on their own and learns more and more all the while building on those first few "mama", "dada", "dog", "ball", words. 
Why would we wait until age 2 or 3 when verbal skills are present to start even talking to our babies? It would be a detriment to their development and growth. It would fail them in ways of a strong foundation for learning and building on. 
In the same way, why would we wait until puberty to start teaching about sexual purity? It's not like discussing anatomical words and natural urges for the first time with a hormonal pre-teen will leave everyone feeling not awkward at all. 
But awkwardness aside, how can we expect our children to identify, react to, restrain, and defeat the enemy and his desire to steal, kill, and destroy their purity? Because one thing is for certain, he isn't waiting until puberty to start robbing them of innocence. And we aren't waiting to start discipling these young men and women in the safety of their bodies and sexual purity. 
Because our children are young, we aren't asking them to carry the heavy load of all the evil tactics Satan and this world will use against them. But just like learning to talk, we have started with the basics and we will add to it as they grow and become strong enough to carry more. 
In another post I will talk more about how we have begun training in sexual purity, but for today I'm focusing on sexual predators. 
The first foundational step is to use real anatomical terms. Statics clearly show that children who can correctly identify their body parts actually deter predators who are looking for victims that won't be able to describe an assault. It may not seem natural at first but establishing correct terminology at a young age will also aid in future discussions since parents and kids are already used to saying them.
The second step is to help them develop a fierce protectiveness of the bodies God designed and made just for them. Around the time we started potty training we really increased our instructing about how their bodies aren't for others to look at or touch. Our kids know only mommy and daddy, and the doctor with mommy or daddy present can see them naked. Knowing that childcare workers, Sunday school teachers, family members, or friends may be taking our kids to use the restroom or change clothes, etc. we increased their safety training by being specific about the areas of their bodies that need the most protection from Satan's attacks. 
Using correct terminology our kids know if anyone tries to touch, asks to touch, tries to show, or even talks about it to them, they are to "yell and tell" - yell 'no' and run to a parent, and tell on the individual in detail. Telling on a predator denies him of his perceived power and exposes his filthiness before he can prey again. It is very important during this safety training that your kids know they would never be in trouble for yelling and telling, no matter what lies a would-be predator may spew. They are heroes for exposing evil and they would be defended and protected as such. 
We have also trained our kids in "it's better to be safer than sorry." Even if they aren't sure, they just felt uncomfortable, we've told them not hesitate to run away from that situation and to a parent for help. 
In the same vein, instruction on false accusations is just as important and we have talked about how lying is also an evil tactic of the enemy and not one we will entertain. 
Trust must be established between you and your children. In this world our enemy has no shortage of tactics. He will most commonly employ predators our children know and trust. Which is why trust between parent and child must be stronger. 
Child molestation is not immune to Christian families and church groups. Heartbreakingly, assaults are common inside church walls, close friend's houses, and among family members. We can never allow our children to assume they are safe enough to let their guards down. That is foolishness and leaves them vulnerable. Remember Ephesians 6 when discipling in this area. It doesn't say to put on the full armor once battle is taking place, but to be in full armor so when that day comes you're ready. Be ready, at all times, period.
Discipling is crucial when it comes to discussing predators. We always review Ephesians and remind our kids how our battle isn't against flesh and blood. They cannot live in fear of every person being a potential enemy. We live boldly, with our faith in Christ, that suiting up in the armor of God will provide us the wisdom, courage, weapons, and endurance to defeat the schemes of the devil. 
Fear gives way to failure. 
So when discipling in sexual safety remind kids of the joy in this life and the incredible way God designed their bodies. It's an awesome opportunity to talk about the limitless mind of God and be in awe of His creation!
Safety training about our bodies is an easy laid-back conversation during our safety school talks with the boys. Becoming a natural topic has only made it easier to add to as our world declines and our kids grow older. Public bathrooms, dressing rooms, pools and beaches, sports teams locker rooms, going over to friend's houses, babysitters, staying overnight somewhere, are all scenarios it's important to prepare for and have a battle plan for. Our kids need to know it's ok to call, run for help, say 'no', protect, defend, fight back, yell, and tell, without any fear of being in trouble or further hurt by the attacker. They need to know fear is not of God. They are mighty soldiers in His army, trained for battle, and not about to be taken captive by any scheme of Satan. 
Each of our boys has this "sword" memorized and I couldn't imagine discipleship in safety without it in our arsenal;
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a sound mind. 
II Timothy 1:7