Behind the Scenes of My Homeschooling

What School Does Your Son Go To?

I have been answering this questions since David was 1 year old here in Lebanon. He is tall for his age even in America, so he seems like he is far older than he is in actuality. So, school has been on our minds from the beginning of our missionary work. I always thought I would have years with David before I even had to think about it.

It was far too complicated with our limited Arabic to explain that he was too young for school, so we just started saying he does school in the home. Because I also wanted to do activities with him that my own mother did with me, I searched for a homeschool curriculum for him. I found abcjesuslovesme.com and love the program. I love sharing websites I love on here because they are free. So often we just don’t know what we don’t know. We think it is going to be too hard to teach our kids. The reality is that we are the best teachers for our own kids. We know them and can provide the kind of attention and understanding that teachers cannot provide. We know when they need to be challenged, and we know where they are struggling.

I am Not a Great Teacher

I must admit to you teaching is not my skill set either. I know those of you who know me will try to argue this point. But I do not enjoy teaching, nor do I have the patience for it. This is why the curriculum on abcjesuslovesme is so amazing! It helps me to know exactly what to do. I cannot come up with these activities by myself. In fact, teachable moments are prone to fly right by me if it weren’t for having a focus for the week.

I believe teaching is something that can be learned, and over time I am improving, but there are so many people far better suited for teaching than I am. So, when we had gone through a year of the homeschool curriculum and prayer we decided to enroll David for school when he was 3.

You Enrolled David in School?

When we enrolled Davy I was praying about what to do this year, and we decided that God was supporting us continuing homeschool as well. This has many benefits. The biggest being that in our crazy chaotic transitional lives, this homeschool curriculum is a constant. We have a book of the week, several songs of the week, verses of the week, themes of the week, and that never changes. This year we began the brand new 1 year old curriculum for Kyrie, and she loves it. She loves being involved, and her favorite part is when we pray for her with her verse of the week. This week she even learned her verse “God loves a cheerful giver.”

No matter what else is happening this anchors my super emotional children, and focuses them on Christ. This is the goal of our parenting, so we will continue with the homeschooling.

Traveling Homeschool

Another benefit is that if God calls us to another country, or if for some reason there is an interruption in the school year, I still will be homeschooling, so my kids will not be dealing with gaps. Even on our visa trips I am able to continue the homeschool curriculum by adapting activities to travel based. It is easy to adapt because we have been doing it for three years now.

A huge benefit of continuing the homeschooling curriculum is that it keeps me focused and helps me take every visa trip with a mind toward learning opportunities for my children. They are getting to see parts of the world that other people only dream of. They are getting to walk where Paul and Peter and Barnabbas walked. They are touching history, and we want them to know the history they are a part of.

Please Join Me!

If you are a grandparent or parent or babysitter, Sunday School teacher, abcjesuslovesme has great resources for Biblical activities. Of course, if you are not using it for your own personal child you will need to purchase a license, but it is reasonably priced. I don’t get any money from recommending this, I just want you to be able to raise your kids in the way of Jesus Christ!

Finally, this coming Fall I am planning on stepping into an active role of working with our local church, so if you are interested in helping me to prepare to teach this curriculum to the children at our church and in our refugee outreach programs, please CLICK HERE to sign up to meet with me this summer. We can meet together to discuss ways to help me stock up on materials for the activities, and funding for the licenses I will need to purchase, and most importantly to pray over the ministry God is calling me into.

Goals for the Week of May 21, 2017

Successes from Last Week

HOMESCHOOL

We signed Davy up for a summer course of hockey while we are in the States!

The kids are loving homeschool this year, and it is great for giving them activities and focus in the afternoons.

EXERCISE

See my Post How Are You Taking Care of Your Body? This week about my continued success in working toward a healthy body.

ARABIC

In our Arabic lessons we have been doing conversation for the duration of the lesson for a few weeks now, so less than 10% of our time is English, and then only to get the word in Arabic and confirm the connotation is correct. It feels good to be almost conversational. Louis is doing so well!

BLOGGING

I have started blogging again:

Mommy Book Blog—New Total for the Year: 11 Posts

Where Am I Going?

Goals for 2017

Making My Goals A Reality

Set Yourself Up For Success

How Are You Taking Care of Your Body?

Lisses To Lebanon – New Total for the Year: 4 Posts

Dates Posted

May Financial Update

My goal with blogging is to gain consistency, so I know that this burst is not the point, but the continuation of writing, editing, and publishing. My goal is to post 52 blog posts this year, which is at least one per week. I have gotten rather behind, but weeks with multiple postings do really help with that.

I am at 29% progress with my blog post goal.

RESEARCH

Partnership Development Planning has begun. We have a few people signed up for appointments with me while I am in the States to hear about what Louis and I are doing in Lebanon and how to join in our ministry.

Goals for this Coming Week

READING

Finish Speaking the Truth in Love and When Helping Hurts

Put Desiring God, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, and A Confident Heart back on hold from the library.

BLOGGING

Continue to Write Every Day even if not everything I write is “post-worthy”

RESEARCH

Continue to put together a Partnership Development Plan I can follow in America. Research in order to set SMART goals for my time in America. Break up the big ideas into baby steps that can be accomplished on a timeline. Meet with Louis about the Plan.

How Are You Taking Care of Your Body?

This year my focus is to Belong in my own skin.

One of the ways that I am working toward that is by setting a goal to lose 50 lbs in 2017. I am by no means a health guru, but I have had some major success in the last year losing weight, gaining endurance, and increasing strength, which I want to share in order to encourage you. The few times I have mentioned my exercise routine or goals have received a big response, so I want to keep sharing about this part of my life.

 

In 2016 I lost 63 pounds!

 

 

It was such a good feeling. I lost weight so fast, which has everything to do with making it a lifestyle and not just something on my calendar. In a time of post-baby depression, dealing with a daughter in constant pain, flashbacks of my own childhood trauma, and life in a third world country, it was essential to reduce the number of decisions I had to make each day. I decided to just work a plan for exercise and nutrition and do whatever it took to make that plan a habit in my daily life.

January 2016

December 2016

I followed the Bikini Body Mommy meal plan and exercises six days a week as much as possible. It was amazing! I wrote a post about my experience following the meal plan HERE. The majority of the meals are loved by everyone in our family, and I have a good handle on substitutions my family would prefer when there is an ingredient they don’t like.

I am over 1/3 of the way through Challenge 6.0 now (I took a break for March and April after our move) and I am feeling great. I am getting stronger, looking better, and I am so excited to keep it going.

Every morning I wake up at 5am now, and I start my day by working out. This has been an amazing time of solitude and renewal while also taking care of my body. Briana Christine has the participants in the challenges send a #SweatySelfie each day, but I don’t use social media currently so I Whatsapp my Sweaty Selfie to Louis each day. Here’s one. Yes, I am glistening with real sweat. It’s hard work, and sometimes not as lonely as other times.

* I do not receive any money from Bikini Body Mommy, I just really love this program, so I have included all the links to find what I am talking about. *

Couch to 5K

I had a few people ask about my Couch to 5K progress, which I wrote about in my post about Making Room for Abundance. Somehow in the move I lost my running shoes, and with our budget at below 50% coming in I have not had the money to go buy new shoes. Therefore, I am sticking to the free Bikini Body Mommy videos online because the shoes I do have do not provide the support I need to run. I am planning on buying a pair when I get to America.

The 5K I was thinking about running in is held in September, but we decided to return to Lebanon in the middle of August so that the kids can get back in a routine before September. I still plan on doing the program this year and running a 5K even if just on my own streets. The Couch to 5K plan is 10 weeks long, so as long as I start it by September I can still complete it this year. I am so excited to hear from those of you who also started running after I shared. Great job!

Many of you have been sharing with me your own exercise plans, and I am so thrilled to be sharing this journey with you. Let me know in the comments or by email what you are doing to take care of your body this year.

When Did People Become A Bad Word?

PEOPLE

It seems that people love animals more and more as time goes on. This belief permeates the world that animals are innocent, and people aren’t. Except that Sneaky Snake, but I guess we try to forget about him. We get to blame whatever animals do on instinct, but with each other we know better.

We thought growing up that there were good guys and bad guys, but it turns out that we are all just people. Flesh, bone, marrow, and spirit.

Without a purpose, our lives can take a quick turn down into that dark, cold spiral.

I strongly believe, and know that God has called me. I also believe just as strongly that God has called you. If you answer God’s Call you will gain purpose and get to join a journey far more epic than that of Samwise and Frodo.

Once grace takes hold, it rips through boulders that seemed to block the path, and it rips through you and pours out all over the place. Like a dripping loufa scrubber in your shower, grace gets all over the place. And that’s good!

I have shared previously about the main focus of a Call from God as the Paragon, Focus, or Ideal of a person’s life. I feel very passionately that we are a part of an epic tale, but also that God has our very own book being written. And in my book I have responsibilities that do not come from other people, but from God. And those responsibilities tie in perfectly with the jobs He has given others around me, which links us together!

I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together!

Being the church means being People, together. Sharing with each other this grace, this God. It is messy because we are still human throughout the process. We have a perfect model in Jesus Christ, but we ourselves will not be perfect until we all dance together in Heaven.

“I could never do what you are doing.”

As a missionary in the Middle East the thing I hear more than anything else is. I know that what they mean is that they think I am strong, gifted, called, and inspiring. I am honored and blessed that people think that about us. There is something else to that comment, however, it seems that it also means that I have some super power. I have no super powers.

I am a human being! Just like you.

And I could not do what you do. God called you to your life, which could easily include a great many things I am not equipped for. I spent some time this year tutoring Evan, pictured here with Kyrie, in math, but also Louis and I have been spending time pouring into his family before they move to Argentina where they have a church sponsoring them. This family has inspired me to take the call even farther, and to look outside of the routines we have formed the past few years. I want to see what new things God has in store. There are things God is calling me to do that even I am saying, “I can’t do that.” Now I am adding one important word…

YET

I can’t help churches sponsor refugees YET. But hopefully I will be able to help in new ways soon.

God’s Assignment

I am taking the assignment from God for my life and doing my best, but I fail. I go months without posting. I scream and shout when things don’t go my way. My house gets really messy. And I don’t always want to love others and care.

What keeps me going is knowing I am not alone. I have God in my tummy, and people all over the world are a part of my family. We are all working toward the same goals, God’s goals, and that makes it easier to work out differences, and get motivated to keep on keeping on.

The church is not a building, the church is everywhere. We are everywhere. Someone near you is feeling alone and outside of the church, the family, the love, and it might just be your responsibility to find that person and invite them in. This isn’t a closed group. This is a family that loves to have one more potato salad at the picnic.

Can you find some more potato salad? Do you hear the call? Do you feel the pushing of God to step out and share His love with others?

If anything I am saying relates to you, let me know in the comments. How do you take the responsibility of God’s calling and share your gifts, talents, and passions with those around you?

Set Yourself Up For Success


Set Me Up For Success, Mom.

This has become a common phrase in our house. The kids will come to us and say, “Can you set me up for success?”

We are building a foundation of trust in our family with this phrase.

Our kids know that we will be doing what is best for them when we use this phrase. We use it with ourselves as well to remind ourselves that we need to make sure we aren’t setting ourselves up to fail. The feeling of failure is debilitating. It makes life so much harder, and sometimes those failures are entirely preventable.

In my year of learning to Belong in my skin, one of the first things I realized is that I need to learn to trust myself.

To begin the process of learning to trust myself, I said no to something every day for one month.

Just Say No

Saying no to something each day meant that I gave myself freedom from myself. Every single day I was putting too many items on my to do list for the day. Putting myself in the habit of looking for something to cut out gave me the ability to prioritize and most importantly to breathe during the day. This simple task helped me find the parts to my day that were not working out and to adjust. After a month of saying no I felt that my load was lighter, and I also now have the permission to say no to myself whenever I need to.

Stick To My Decisions

I spend time planning each week, but often I second guess my plans, or try to rearrange them continuously. So much time goes into the planning, that sometimes nothing actually gets accomplished. Even simple tasks like getting dressed for the day, what to make Davy for his lunch, and whether or not I was going to boil water for coffee became mind consuming. I recognized the need to change this, so I added Stick to My Decisions to the habit tracker taped to the top of my desk. Each day I made it through the day without getting paralyzed by a small decision I could check off a day. It took me longer than 21 days to make it through, but now I have set up little routines for myself.

The best thing I solved was getting dressed. I recognized that the reason it was so hard was that at 5am in the morning when I wake up I cannot really think through the plan for the day well enough to know what kind of clothes I need for the day. Now I set my clothes out every evening because in the evening I have enough mental power to think about the kind of day I will be having the following day.

This little routine makes it so much easier to get out of bed instead of hitting snooze every morning.

Can you identify a habitual failure in your own life? How could you take some time right now to set yourself up for success? Please share in the comments some of the ways that you are setting yourself up for success.

Making my Goals a Reality

I finally shared my Goals for 2017 now that we are halfway through the year.

For some of you this is a relief to see someone else who doesn’t have it all together just in January. Let’s be honest, we need to Spring Clean our brains sometimes just as much as our houses. For me, May has been a real relief on my brain as I have gotten the shelves in there a bit more organized, and it shows up in my house as well. I am able to decide so quickly what needs to happen in my house when my brain is less cluttered.

If you are like me and have had trouble sticking to the goals you made back in December and January, maybe you need to adjust them. I shared some of the reasons for needing to take the first part of the year to truly set my goals. My daughter’s healing has transformed her, and I want to make the most of that time, to take her in, and to just enjoy this new joyful little girl I have. It meant putting off things like blogging for a while, but it was worth it.

Now I have this happy girl with a routine with me and we are learning to thrive in Lebanon together as a family. David is loving school, loving the bus, loving his friends, and our new house. We are all loving our new house. The move happened quite quickly and was a few months of adjusting as well.

Give Yourself Grace When Legitimate Disruptions Happen

Everyone has big things, or just a lot of little things that are legitimate and happen in life. When these things disrupt our goals it isn’t always a failure on our part. I have not been lazy this year, or depressed as in the past. Life happened, and I had to scrap the goal list I made in November in favor of a better life.

My better life is still going to happen with the aid of tracking goals, but in a way that nurtures life rather than restricts my life. I am thriving because I am using a routine. But if I was trying to stick to an old routine I would not be thriving. Our new house means a new bus schedule, which means new wake up times and afternoon drop off times, and I have finally created a routine that works for all of us around that schedule. We have a larger grocery store near us, so now we shop less often, but it takes a great deal more planning to organize getting all of the groceries home without a car. All of these small changes have had huge effects on our weekly schedules as well.

Return of the Weekly Goals Posting

My Big Goals of the Year I now need to break down into weekly goals again. Being able to have daily tracking for habits has helped me establish good habits as I wrote about a few days ago in this post on Where Am I Going?. It takes them to the simplest form and allows me to accomplish them. The Big Goals are daunting and as our lives are in flex they feel impossible.

I like to use my monthly calendar with an eye toward my big goals to make sure I am still working toward them. I started writing down the books I need to finish in order to accomplish my book a week goal, and that has been so helpful. I also am tracking hours I spend in Arabic immersion situations and studying formally.

The kids have specific days for homeschool, and they are great accountability because Davy wants to do homeschool every single day when he gets home from school.

The blog has been tough with one computer now between all of us, but we are figuring it out.

And I am back to working out every day.

As you can see, some of my goals have been firmly built into my routine.

The foundational building I have been doing over the past few months is so essential. To really look at the desires of my heart and be able to start living that out has been amazingly transformational. I am so happy with this progress!

Goals for 2017


Goals for 2017

1: Read 52 Books. Aka Read 1 Book Each Week

2: Read the entire Bible.

3: Consistency in Blogging, Homeschool, Arabic, and Home Life

4: Lose 50 lbs and be able to do 10 Real Pushups

These ended up being my 4 big goals. They were really under construction through March.

As I shared in my post about my ongoing habit progress, I am just getting to the point of being able to verbalize what has been going on over the first half of 2017. I wanted to share my goals even though it is “late” by regular seasonal standards because I know there are many of you out there who never got around to setting goals for the year or for reasons only you know have given up on your goals.

I did give up on my first run of goals. In December when Kyrie was healed and had a complete transformation into a joyful, energetic little girl, I knew that my goals were obsolete. And 2017 hadn’t even started! I have taken the first 5 months of this year to get to know this new little girl, and to see what life has to offer now that we are out from under the pressure of waiting on surgery.

RESEARCH

I ended up realizing that there were projects and events which were going to make up a large part of my year. I could not determine measurable goals for these categories, so instead I just decided to spend some time this year on vague ideas.

To make goals that would be achievable if I lived in the same place and could maintain a routine is ideal, but not reality. Instead I needed to be realistic about there being projects I needed to research, which couldn’t really count toward a book goal, even if I may read some books, other pieces would be articles, documentaries I could watch, discussion, experience, etc. So I did not raise my book goal. I also just couldn’t come up with a way to make a generic research goal, so I wrote down the topics I knew I want to research and know I will be adding to this list.

EVENTS

There are also many huge events that have made up the first half of the year and which are coming up. So, I took about half of my Goals for 2017 page to list big events.

Already completed:

Davy’s 4th Birthday Party (was extended into our America trip from November.)

Trip to America (January)

Move to Sin el Fil (a different city closer to Louis’ work)

Horizons Eastern Staff Summit

Kyrie’s 2nd Birthday / Healing Celebration

Louis Job Promotion

Visa Trip to Greece

Engaging Islam Institute Beirut (Currently Going On)

Adding an extra Weekly Session of Arabic

Coming Up:

Garden Show

America Partnership Development Trip June—August (CLICK HERE if you are in or around Arizona and want to meet with me personally to hear about Lebanon)

Davy’s 5th Birthday

Davy starting KG2

Kyrie starting daycare

Starting my Master’s program through Rutgers

Our Last Visa Trip of 2017 sometime in October

Adding an extra Weekly Session of Arabic