Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When Homeschool is all over the home

I was ready to give up. I began thinking maybe I should just expect to eat at a table covered in math manipulatives and maps. Over a period of time and in a variety of ways, God lead us to homeschool our boys years ago. I've come to adore homeschooling my kids (most days), but we've never been able to make a "homeschool room" work for us. We somehow wind up on the living room couch or at the kitchen table. Every day.
Learning about atoms and molecules
Reviewing Latin
Oh how the math manipulatives take over the table. 
Are you getting the point that we use this room a lot?
I remember reading that God has made everything beautiful in his time and thinking that I LOVE that HE's made beautiful things and places and people. It's a cool reflection of Him. I really enjoy pretty spaces in people's homes. It feels welcoming to me. I'm fine with toys everywhere, but I also love welcoming others to a peaceful, homey space. So I began wondering if it's ok to want a pretty space even in this season of life with lots of little boys.

One helpful decision maker was that we like to house people who need a temporary home from time to time. We've lived with mostly singles, but one family of four (It was chaotic, but I so miss them)! I decided there must be a way to embrace the school room invasion, but attempt to "hide" the primary color themed preschool/ white board look. So our living room and kitchen are now a fully functioning schoolhouse yet (hopefully) welcoming to anyone who comes to our house. I don't have before pictures, but here's a glimpse at it now:

Our living room 
In the living room, we hung maps for geography. I saw something similar on the mychildiloveyou blog. They are $6 at Barnes and Noble and Andy made frames from some left over trim we had in the garage.  Don't they look great?

I love that it's pretty, but still very functional
 On the mantle is a small clock to help my preschooler learn to tell time. Sneaky Mommy;)

All our memory work is from the Classical Conversations Foundations Guide
Next to our US map, we put in these cute Ikea picture frame shelves with cheap picture frames. I got the idea from something that blogger did and a pin I saw on pinterest. I used scrapbook paper so it will look pretty, but our main use is to write the weekly memory work with dry erase marker and use it in various ways to help with retention.

How did I just learn that you can use dry erase markers on picture frames?
Right above our kitchen table is our new "preschool board" to help learn days of the week, months of the year, seasons, and weather. I could not find anything I liked online, so I repurposed a pretty picture frame collage. It came with the flip calendar. I just added day of the week stickers and cut out some of the kid's worksheets for weather and seasons.
The boys LOVE flipping the calendar
Close up of the whole collage
We live in Florida, so it's exciting when we circle anything besides "sunny"

I just put clip art on key chains to hook on the board

Days of the week stickers and a dry erase marker
This is the not-so-pretty part: I have to store our stuff out of eye sight. So I sacrificed a few kitchen cabinets to shove put our stuff away after the school day ends:

It's not pretty, but we can easily find what we need and it's hidden from sight
All the kids books, pencil boxes, school games, and manipulatives fill this space quickly

When we have art work or science or anything that is large, I've found that my kids would prefer to hang it/display it in their room. The only danger for them is if they hang it too low and their little brothers get ahold of it.
One leg on this project lost to our surprisingly strong one year old.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating Valentine's Day with Boys

Today my family is on a hunt. Feel free to join us. We're asking God to open our eyes, as we go about our day, to see how He is patient and kind towards us. 

We're remembering His pure love that never envies or boast and is not arrogant or rude insisting on His own way. 

We're thanking Him that even though we are irritable and resentful, He never is towards us. 

We're talking about how we've seen His love through others who do not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoice with the truth.

We're asking Him to help us live out this great love and, like Him, bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things by His power with our hearts resting in Him.

And we believe He'll do it because His great love NEVER ends.

Thankful for this great love. Praying you catch glimpses of it, too.

As one of my favorite people likes to say, "Happy Sappy Day"!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rejoicing for Others

I can't express how meaningful it has been to me that others have cried with me, pursued me, and encouraged me in the midst of my pain and loss. It's one way I sensed God's nearness and love in painful trial. And now God has done a funny thing, He's asked me to be that for others. But not just in weeping- in rejoicing! Just as I have been encouraged by others who wept with me now I want to rejoice with them.

For some I've been praying and weeping as they experience their own painful loss/trial. But others I love have great reason to rejoice. It's hard to tell a woman mourning a miscarriage that you are rejoicing because you're pregnant. I'm thankful that my family and friends took the risk and shared with me. It's giving me an opportunity to step away from myself and rejoice for people I love.

I want to encourage you, especially if you are in the midst of a trial, ask God who you can rejoice with. It is NOT easy, but there's something so beautiful about putting yourself aside and entering into someone else's joy. It is healing to care for others.

Warning: It may be awkward at first. I was silent when my sweet sister in law took the risk of my awkward response and shared that she is pregnant with their first child. Nothing came out of my mouth. I was genuinely happy for her, but it was a week after my loss and if I spoke, I knew I'd sob and my sadness would misrepresent how I felt. So Andy and the boys cheered and later I texted the joy I had for them. It was awkward, but God gave me SUCH genuine joy and excitement for them. Sorrow and joy co-existed and it felt right. By the time a good friend shared her first pregnancy news this month, I was ready for my classic "squee!" response and already had a gift to give her (I knew her pregnancy was coming before she did)!

This week a friend is going through a sad loss and I have wept and prayed for her daily. I ache for her and admire her love for God as she walks through an intense loss. Maybe my loss has softened my heart towards others in trial a bit. I want to walk through this with her in prayer and I'm praying she'll experience the God of all Comforts as I have.

Our own trial doesn't have to be over before we can share life with others. Weeping and rejoicing for others has been a sweet part of my trial. It's a place where I've seen God in new ways and grown closer to others. And I believe it's a key role for us in each others lives.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." -Romans 12:15

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In The Midst, Final: Empty Beginnings

I'm blogging about one of the most painful trials I've faced, miscarriage. You can read my previous posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4. Here's the AMAZING truth God showed me after my last ultrasound:

"January 5

I had my last ultrasound this week. I didn't tell anyone i was going because i just couldn't get myself to. Once there, the technician checked me while I stared at the large tv on the wall with a live view of my empty womb and God met me there beautifully.

My first response afterwards was overwhelming sadness. I wept a lot and told God i wanted to be staring at a baby but i also struggled feeling faithless that i want what He doesn't seem to want for me.

He reminded me that He's able and He gives generously. It was tangible God-speak, too. Through me flashing to romans 8:32 immediately-"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" And then through two crazy timely texts from friends who had no clue where I was - 1 telling me she was praying for God to sustain and strengthen me and 1 telling me how pleased God is and how faithful He is in our faithlessness. They didn't know why they wrote but He and i knew:)

So i felt loved and met by God and confident even in my grief that i'd rather have Him and only what He wants for me than whatever good thing i thought was best. I still wept, but His quick response was so comforting that the weeping felt healing, not hopeless.

But then this crazy thought hit me- empty is not God's ending. Biblically, empty is always where He began. I

It's January and we're in Genesis 1-2 watching the Holy Spirit hover over the empty void to bring light, life, and fruitfulness. Christmas just passed, so we read for an entire month about God giving a barren woman a prophet and the Holy Spirit hovering over a virgin's empty womb to bring us our Savior!

This week i'm doing a project on Jesus' resurrection and I laughed at how empty tomb sounds so similar to empty womb. I wonder if i'm feeling the way the disciples felt. After a great rush of joy, i feel overwhelming sadness that it's over and kinda confused at what it all means. But empty is never the end. It's just not God's way. His best work that's shown His glory always came out of empty.
From nothing, He created everything. From barren woman, he created Jesus, our salvation. From a destroyed earth, He'll someday bring a perfect New Earth, gilled with His presence. Empty is NOT the end for God. It's the beginning.

So here i am- grieving still. Carrying an empty womb. And despite how crazy it feels to say,  I believe God's telling me "Gin, trust me. Empty is just the beginning of my work. Wait on me, keep your eyes heavenward, and hope steadfast in me. And watch expectantly, because your empty is really My beginning."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In the Midst, Part 4- The Day We Lost the Baby

I've been sharing some texts I wrote as I sensed God's nearness in the midst of my miscarriage. You can read the first 3 here: 1, 2, 3

"Dec. 20

We lost the baby today.
"in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Sweet baby knows a sweeter joy, not mixed with salty sorrow, but in God's presence with full joy.

God took me to Psalm 27:
"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. "

And then here in Psalm 73:
"I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. "

I sense Him near. That grief is good. The sadness is ok. And that in it, HE is my portion. this longing and aching for our baby is pointing to the "one thing" that my heart really wants and needs:Jesus. There's nothing i desire more than Him. Nothing. HE alone is my strengh and portion forever.

Dec. 24

Sorrow comes in waves. In it I feel comfort from God and His sustaining peace. I think the sorrow being there is bringing a depth to Christmas I hadn't experienced before and i'm thankful for. The gift of Immanuel, God Himself with us, brings tears this year. Because in my grief, I realize how incredible it is that God is with us. Sorrow and joy are all mixed together.

Dec. 25

I was reading about Simeon and Anna in Luke 2 today and felt so excited to watch God reward them for waiting expectantly and believing Him that salvation and redemption were coming for those who were His when so few seemed to be waiting and expecting. Their steadfast faith was rewarded with Jesus, God Himself!

I have the same call- to wait expectantly (Rev. 22). Salvation and redemption came to His own when Jesus came- but He is coming back to reign forever. And then we will dwell with Him in full redemption experiencing no more sin or the effects of sin, but instead peace for all New Earth forever.

Christmas is mixed with painful loss and a  desire to celebrate to remind me to wait with faith for what is promised to come: the day when God's full glory will be with us (21:22-24; 22:5). Immanuel, God with us, individually for now, but in fullness soon!  And there will be no more pain, sickness, mourning, crying (21:4)

Today, we'll look at cool decorations while looking forward to a city of pure gold like glass and walls of jasper and jewels, and gates of a single pearl (21:18-22)

Today, we read how a star brought them to see the Christ and know that soon the Bright Morning Star is coming again to reign forever(22:6,7,12,16,20)!!!!!

Today, we read the multitude of hosts sing Glory to God and know that peace to His people has come to us in our hearts, and someday multitudes will sing "Hallelujah! For the Lord God almighty reigns." (Rev. 19:6) He is coming again to reign in full in everything!

Isn't that incredible!?! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Jan. 1
This loss is hard, but it hasn't leave me completely hopeless. I'm seeing how little I know and understand God's ways and coming through with much deeper awe of Him.

Our children are precious and amazing gifts- but only HE is the treasure. When He gives, by His grace, I want to care for and steward those gifts as long as He gives me. And by His grace, when He takes, I want to grieve with a thankful heart for how deeply He loves and how faithful He always is. I'm so thankful He saved me and He's near. So thankful."

Thanks for sticking with me through these posts. My final post will share the amazing way God met me in my final ultrasound...

Friday, March 1, 2013

In the Midst, Part 3: Afflicted, but Not Crushed

I've been sharing about my miscarriage, mainly through texts written in the midst. You may want to go back and read posts 1 and 2 for the full story. God met me in some crazy ways (just wait for my ultrasound "empty" aha!). This post is mainly a revived perspective on suffering learned as I endured suffering.


I'm seeing 2 corinthians 4 with new eyes right now. This chunk just matches up so perfectly with the emotions i'm experiencing and truth i know in the midst as we walk through this pregnancy God joyfully surprised us with yet seems anything but normal and healthy.

We're waiting and not entirely sure what for, other than God Himself. but we trust Him fully in it.

So we wait, feeling just like Paul described: "We are afflicted... but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair"

It's perplexing and confusing. The sense we had from God and what we're experiencing don't match. Yet suffering feels absolutely right and expected and we know it is a gift from God only for His children and given in love to His own.

So we're afflicted and yet not crushed and confused and yet have great hope still. Paul's words make SO much more sense to me today as i wait on God while i continue to bleed.

Reading Paul's conclusion brought me tears of joy tonight as i see fresh what is coming and will come to us through it:

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Amen. He spoke so clearly and sweetly to me tonight through this passage. What a blessing this trial is to remind me of what really matters and how glorious it is.He is so good to us:)


Today's been hard. We might have to wait until friday to hear the blood test results. I'm still bleeding...

I realize in it, that i need to stop constantly analyzing my body. Do i still feel pregnant? Are there clots? Does not seeing "tissue" come out of me mean i'm still pregnant? It's an exhausting cycle that leads only to more confusion and sorrow.

I'm realizing that last night, when God opened my eyes to 2 corinthians 4, He graciously gave me the wisdom to know how to fight.

I sense Him saying: Stop, Gin! don't look at the temporal (my symptoms [or lack of] or the internet information). There's no hope there.

Instead, look at the unseen- our real hope and future- in Christ alone.

So today i'm singing and watching "In Christ Alone" as i fight for joy.

And it's staying my heart again to remember my strength is in Christ Alone.
Christ alone became a helpless baby and then took on our wrath.

"From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."

Here's a link to the Getty's singing it:

Thankful He's so near and gracious in it."

So far I've been sharing vision God gave me as I waited and prayed for our baby to live. In my next few posts (linked here: 4 and 5) I'll share once we knew I miscarried and how God walked me through it...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In the Midst, Part 2: Pregnant and Bleeding

I'm sharing about how God met me in the midst of my miscarriage in this series. You may want to read my first post and then head back to this. Here is a series of text messages I sent updating when bleeding started and as we waited, not knowing whether I'd heal or we'd lose the baby:

"Dec. 14th
In hospital for an ultrasound. Listening to praise music as we wait to stay our hearts on Christ. Scary situation, but faithful God.

... Just left hospital. Definitely still pregnant. Glimpse of underdeveloped baby shows that I could be "pre-miscarriage" or we miscalculated my due date. On bedrest now. Will get more bloodwork monday to ensure the baby's # rises and then prob. another ultrasound in a week or so. Not super hopeful news, but thankful the Lord does know and trusting Him in the emotional roller coaster of it all.

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning."

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!"

Waiting and wondering (while still bleeding) is really emotionally hard, but we know God has been saying it's HIM we're really waiting on and seeking. So that's a comfort. We aren't waiting for blood numbers, we wait for Him. And He WILL act. So thankful for that truth.

"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"

Dec 16
Today's update: bleeding is still bad- tablespoon sizes clots. No pain. I am weak physically. I slept ALL morning while andy took the kids to church.

I shared with Andy that if these are our last few days parenting this little gift, I don't want to spend that time worrying, but want to parent this child as we always have with our children by praying, praising God, and doing church- however that is possible while still physically on bedrest.

Soooo... we invited friends over this afternoon as the boys napped to pray with us, fellowship, and share all God's doing worldwide. it was real and beautiful with tears and laughter and worship and excitement at how God is moving. It was a a sweet gift during an emotionally and physically exhausting weekend.

December 18

This song came to mind and I can't stop saying YES! We just sang along in family worship time as we prayed:

God is able
He will never fail
He is almighty God
Greater than all we seek
Greater than all we ask
He has done great things

Lifted up
He defeated the grave
Raised to life
Our God is able
In His name
We overcome
For the Lord
Our God is able

God is with us
God is on our side
He will make a way
Far above all we know
Far above all we hope
He has done great things

God is with us
He will go before
He will never leave us
He will never leave us
God is for us
He has open arms
He will never fail us
He will never fail us

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."

Dec. 19
I've been reminded that all our science is just us trying to figure God out and give terms... But He does whatever He wills. And it's amazing! Makes no sense:)
We still don't actually know how I am or how the baby is doing.

This waiting has made me appreciate David's crazy talk in the Psalms much more (you know- how he'll praise God who never leaves and then in the next psalm ask how long He'll forsake him) i feel like a crazy woman emotionally and spiritually. Yet He is steady and His Word a constant comfort.

We're tired today. Hopeful. Nervous. And tired. This is a comfort:
"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."

I'll share more texts in the next few posts. I'm hoping reading them will show my struggle in real suffering and how God met me in it...

[Quick links to the rest of the series: 3, 4, 5 ]