THIRTEEN…

Stephen,

What we have is strange. And I know it’s mainly me.

Sometimes I look at you and feel such pain. I see you laying in that hospital room. Helpless. Looking around for a familiar face.

Other days I marvel at you. That you’re here. And healthy. And minus that scar up the back of your neck, seemingly unphased.

On school days when you get frustrated at your Math, I get angry. How could someone who’s faced so much crumble at a simple multiplication problem?

When I look back at your baby pictures I feel confusion. Why can’t I remember it? How could one moment wash away so many precious memories?

During those moments when I catch you picking up trash you didn’t drop. Or taking the dogs out without being asked, I feel relief. And thankfulness.

Because we were clueless when you were born. We forced you to fit our routine. We held on too tightly till God forced open our hands.

But through it all, you somehow became you. The person God created you to be. The little boy with strength enough to face hard things.

Son, I have failed you throughout the last 13 years. I’ve ran when I should have hugged. I’ve cried when I should have laughed. And I’m sorry.

But man, what a gift you are to me. What a marvel.

Thank you for being our firstborn. For letting us mess up time and time again. For being gracious. For being patient.

One day you’ll understand how hard we tried. How much we loved you in spite of our mistakes.

Happy 13th birthday Stephen! You are grace to us.

Love,
Mom

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) 

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My 12 minutes of sanity…

12 minutes.

It takes that long. And that little.

All you runner people will cringe. Laugh maybe. But 12 minutes is my mile number.

And I try to run it EVERY DAY.

I slip out of the house at some point. Kick the boys off Spotify. And decompress with every footstep on the pavement.

No. I can’t run a marathon. No. It’ still not easy. Yes. I sweat like a mule.

But I come back better. Refreshed. Claiming something small as mine and for me.

I’m not sure how much free time you have. I’m not sure where God has put you and what you do every day. But I can bet you get overwhelmed. And frustrated. And desperate for a break.

What if you joined up a couple 12 minute moments every day? 12 minutes in the afternoon on a run? 12 minutes in the morning with Him? 12 minutes at night with a good book?

My walk with Christ is like a 12 minute moment that I keep stacking day after day. We have a relationship that’s not hit or miss. Or on one week and off the next. It’s real. And it’s predictable.

Not because I schedule it. Not because I check off the Bible reading plan taped to the wall. Or because I scribble in my flowered journal most every day.

My relationship with Christ is based on grace. And His faithfulness to me. During 12 minute runs. Or 5 minute cry-fests.

When we fail, He doesn’t. When we quit, He doesn’t.

“Jesus’ compassion never holds us to a standard of perfection, but always holds us in His arms of grace.” (Ann Voskamp)

On 12 minute runs. In 12 minute traffic. During 12 minute meetings. God’s love will be with you today.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

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Clinging not Cruising…

Last February it hit me. Like a tidal wave. Out of nowhere.

Two months before we’d decided not to “cruise” in 2018. To throw our arms up and embrace the ride God was calling us to.

Anxiety wasn’t part of that plan.

Step 1: Meet with the doctor
Step 2: Take better care of myself
Step 3: Embrace Jeremy’s comforting words “You do you”
Step 4: Memorize verses like Psalm 46:1-“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Step 5: Do hard things (especially ones that make my heart race and palms sweat)
Step 6: Believe that this doesn’t define me

It’s been almost a year. There have been bad days, good days, and great ones.

II Timothy 1:7 has been my background music for months. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

When fear takes the joy from our days, we embrace the tiny moments as grace.

And we worship.

Hard things don’t have to stop us, friends. They can cause us to pause. To fall on our faces. And to let His strength show itself perfect.

Because He faced the hardest thing, I can face hard things. You can face hard things.

Planned. Unplanned. Let’s cling. Not cruise. And find His grace totally sufficient.

“And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” Colossians 1:27b

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DR Day 4!

We are tired tonight. Maybe my bones ache. It’s a good feeling somehow.

This morning we did a kids’ program in a neighborhood. 85ish people came. Our supplies dwindled. We tweaked as best we could. God is faithful. 

Could I please bring 1 or 10 of these sweet, brown faces home with us?

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This afternoon we worked at the church. We scrubbed paint off the floor. And my thoughts were…I.Am.On.My.Hands.And.Knees.Scrubbing.

How is this worship?

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Then Stephen’s quiet voice interrupts…”Can I bring y’all some ice water?”

Yes. Scrubbing floors can be worship. And bringing ice water. And holding little hands. And Jesus, aren’t You the one Who washed feet? Am I better than that?

Foolish me.

Love gives and gives and says I’ll do whatever is needed. Because that’s what He did.

“And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)

Thoughts on Online Homeschool

Several people this school year have asked me about our experience with Liberty University Online Academy. Yes, this is a little off my blog’s focus (and long), but I thought it could be beneficial.

Some background info.:
-Stephen did the 3rd grade program with LUOA.
-He struggles with reading and has never liked school.
-I have a background in education but somehow lose resolve when teaching my own kids.
-We are very laid back around here when it comes to school. I love for the kids to learn hands-on (We lean toward Charlotte Mason ideas).

With that being said, LUOA could have set us up for failure. But it DIDN’T!

Here are some pros:
-All the lessons and quizzes are set up for you so there’s minimal planning. (It’s like reading a textbook on the computer. It’s not video school where you watch a teacher all day. Often they include links to games and videos that further explain the lesson. Stephen loved these.)
-It includes a subscription to Reading Eggs and Education City (which we loved and shared with all 3 boys).
-I don’t have to keep up with piles of papers in case we’re “homeschool audited.”
-Stephen’s teacher was awesome and remained in contact with us throughout the year (including his adviser who was precious).
-We had to be focused to get everything done by our yearly deadline-instead of floundering around and never doing school. (We ended up finishing in 9 months as opposed to 10 and took about 4 weeks off during the year).
-Stephen rarely complained about school because it was no longer me asking him but “Mrs. Taylor.”
-I quit comparing myself to other homeschool Moms and what they were doing, because I trusted LUOA would provide a solid curriculum. (This nearly makes it all worth it!)

Here are some cons:
-We used a lot of printer ink and paper.
-I often got behind scanning and sending in written assignments.
-It’s a little costly at $250 a month for 10 months (but not compared to private/Christian schools I’m told). Oh, and if your child ends up going to Liberty University, you get all your money back in a college scholarship.
-I had to read a lot of the assignments with Stephen (he has some reading delays), so we were one on one about 2-3 hours a day (this isn’t necessarily a negative thing but hard to manage with 4 other kids).
-We couldn’t take off all the days I would have liked to. We had to stay on task to finish. (This is also a pro.)

To summarize, Stephen ended the year liking school (He’s not the type that will ever love it.). His reading jumped nearly 2 grade levels. He learned a ton and read some awesome books. We are so pleased with the results that we’ve re-enrolled him and enrolled Caleb for 1st grade.

No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, there were times I thought we’d made a mistake. No, the curriculum wasn’t perfect and sometimes I wanted to spend more time on certain topics than was given.

But it worked. I kept my sanity. And we’re doing it again.

If you’re thinking homeschool (or maybe burned out), I’d say give it a shot. LUOA gives you an excellent curriculum and accountability with the perk of being home and planning your own schedule.

Hope that helps someone. Please comment or email me if you have questions! I’d love to chat more about it!

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Last day of school!

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Our end of year cake…We were all celebrating!