Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicago Mission Trip: Prologue

It has been well over a year since Austin and I joined youth from our community on a mission trip to inner city Chicago. I originally had very good intentions to blog about it right away. I, obviously, have not. I have not written about it anywhere; except in my devotional journals while I was actually in Chicago. I have tried and tried to write about it, but for some reason, the timing was never right. What I actually believe is that I was not ready to write about it until now and Satan has really been oppressing me and discouraging me from putting my thoughts and words down.

It is really hard to explain, but even now, thinking about the trip and actually writing it all out -for everyone to see (whoever might want to read) is causing me a lot of anxiety. I want to share about our trip. I want to share about the absolutely amazing ways God ripped me out of my comfort zone and changed the entire course of my life in a few short days in a city not so far away. I desire others to know how God can work through us and in us and the amazing ways God will use your life if only you will let him. I believed that long before Chicago, but it wasn't until I was actually there that I could see crystal clear what He would do in me and through me, if only I was completely open to Him. I believe the anxiety comes from Satan, because he very much wants me to continue my silence in the ways God used that trip for His good and His purpose. I also know that many of the things I experienced are not easy to write out and talk about; not at all. I have not shared much with everyone in general because it would mean completely processing everything, and in a very real sense, reliving it all.

There are some things that came about as a direct result of that trip that I have prayed would be taken away from Austin. And it is hard to admit that I would pray against something that God chose to bless Austin with; but as a mom, I also see the spiritual battle it has thrown Austin into. I can pinpoint the exact moment God gifted Austin, and I can also pinpoint ways it changed him. I prayed that God would take it away; that Austin was far too young to have the gift he has; that Austin would not be able to "handle" it. Satan really attacked Austin from that trip and still is. In some ways, Austin recognizes it. In many ways, he does not. It's a daily, sometimes minute-by-minute spiritual battle for him, and also for a mom, as his parents, as his family. It makes it harder that many people do not believe the power Satan has. Many people underestimate him. I  may or may not share the specific spiritual gift that Austin was blessed with. And yes, today I do view it as a gift and a blessing. I always have, it's just been hard to see my child have to go through what he has had to go through in the last year. But it is a blessing. Austin now knows exactly how real God is. I always thought he did prior to the trip, but that trip changed him and also brought him into a much deeper relationship with God. And I can only imagine the things that God must have planned for him, if Austin continues to seek Him and His will over his life, witnessing how very threatened Satan is by Austin. 

I was changed. Life changing things happened on that trip. There were a lot of amazing things that happened. I can't wait to share about them all.....yet, I also hesitate, only because I know it is going to be hard. 

This was a very powerful experience for me. You may think that things like this really can't happen; but they do. I plan on sharing exactly what happened during the trip and the ways in which we were all changed.  And I will never, ever apologize for sharing God's power and God's love with everyone. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

don't worry. i'll always take care of you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dancing Fool

(it may look like he is playing hopscotch, but he was actually dancing a little jig down the hopscotch drawing)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Wow.....have I been neglectful! I didn't realize how far behind I have become, but we are still here and I do plan to keep updating when I get a few minutes! I just realized the other day I still have never blogged about our mission trip - LAST summer! Oops! I do plan on doing that soon. As I prayed about it, I believe that it was so overwhelming that I actually needed a year to give some distance and make it more comprehensible. It is a trip I pray I never forgot - God moved in so many ways and has changed my life so much since that trip!

It's been busy for us this summer and isn't going to slow down any time soon. We've gone to Adventureland with the youth group; had VBS - we did GoFish Guys "Backstage with the Bible" (so fun!!); lots of swimming, fishing, and baseball; Aidan's 8th birthday; 2 surgeries - tubes for Hannah/tubes, adenoids, and tonsillectomy for Aidan; Fourth of July in Dubuque; Hannah was a flower girl in a wedding (more on that later!); and my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary. Praise God for such a tangible, concrete example of what marriage should look like - we are incredibly blessed! We've also survived the longest part of year end (huge accomplishment for me this year!!). I'll update soon on all that - each hopefully with their own post!

Now Austin is at church camp (I so wish we could all go, but due to year end for Steve, it never works for us in July). Then we start the rush to hurry up and finish up 4H projects before Austin and Aidan go to Grandpa Rick's for a few days in the end of July. When they come home, they have one day to finish up their projects and then starts our fair. After that, Steve and I are going on a "second honeymoon" of sorts. I am so excited!!! I have wanted to go away for our anniversary, but we both really need it now! We have not gone anywhere alone for even one night (other than to have a baby) since long before the triplets were born - and I really think the last time we did was when I was pregnant with Aidan. EIGHT years ago! In fact, I know that's the last time we went away alone. I am so looking forward to the time reconnecting without our children - every marriage needs it! We had thought about going back to where we went for our honeymoon, but decided instead that we have never been to the state fair alone, sans children, so that is what we are doing. And there is so much more to do; we already have quite the list! I honestly could care less where we go or what we do - I get five days alone with my husband! It doesn't get much better than that!!

Immediately after we get home, school begins for the triplets and Aidan. I am going to start Hannah in some very simple, unstructured preschool stuff this fall and Austin will begin his 2nd year homeschooling as a sophomore after Labor Day. I can't wait for the day when I am able to homeschool all of them, but for now, Austin still needs one-on-one and the Lord is guiding us to continue this way.

We're still here - I'm still planning on updating here - I'm just so far behind right now. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back in a regular rhythm in the fall!

Happy July, everyone!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Guest Post by Aidan: planets

i will tell you eight planets.
and an asteroid,
and a big star.
they are mercury, venus, earth, mars, jupiter, saturn, uranus,
and dont forget two planets,
neptune, and pluto.
so i told you eight planets
and an asteroid
and the biggest star.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

General Ramblings

So much has been going on in our home lately! I started a class called "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement" that has been amazing, but also very time consuming. A few people in our church took the class last year and then this year, worked very hard to organize it for the class to come to our town. It is an international college class. I always wondered if I could go back to college and now I can say with almost certain confidence that I don't really think I could right now for sure! I am learning a lot and really enjoying it, but it is a lot of work! There were three levels to take: audit, certificate, and credit. I figured I'd take it for certificate - I had no idea what I was signing up for! The timing is definitely not the best with starting homeschooling, having lots of little people at home, etc. - but I am enjoying it. I'm trying not to stress to much and I am learning I am far more of a perfectionist than I ever realized. It is absolutely heartbreaking when I turn in an assignment and "only" get 18 or 19 correct out of 20. I need to get over that - and quick! It brings about a huge amount of stress - both while I am doing the work and again when I get it back.

The triplets turned four!! (I still haven't done their birthday post - I'm getting to it!) They have their family birthday party this weekend and are very excited to see everyone. 

We began homeschooling earlier than we had anticipated. We had planned on beginning at the end of the second trimester so that Austin could get two trimesters at school finished. Originally, I wanted to pull him after Christmas break, but we decided not to. If I was ever unsure of God's plan in all of this - and I think in any huge life decision we always question whether God really told us to do this or not - I no longer do. Through a terrible situation at school, God made it perfectly clear when his perfect time was to pull Austin. We began a few weeks ago. The first week went awesome - albeit a little frustrating for me to see where he really was at. The last two weeks have been rougher. I think the change has been difficult (as all changes are for Austin) and it is, no matter how much we all wanted it, a major life change. We are adjusting and making our way and I have finally come to the point where if it takes him a little longer to graduate, then that is OK.

I have been upset with the lack of knowledge of Austin and the massive amounts of indoctrination he has gotten in his time in public schools. Austin has always been a "strong" student, intelligent, honor roll, high IQ, etc. I am now questioning the standards by which a school grades and passes students. I would understand a subject with "gray areas" being different in my grading criteria vs theirs, but not a solid, fact-based class. Austin has always struggled with Algebra and I knew he would at home. What is so extremely frustrating to me is that he passed algebra - with a C average. As a parent, that tells me that he had an average understanding of algebra and it would be reasonable to expect him to move on to Algebra 2. Thankfully, they have placement tests, so I had him do that over Christmas break. He got 3/20. WOW. I still thought maybe it mostly focused on things he hadn't quite gotten to yet. When he began at home, we started in chapter one and I was going to test him out until we got to a chapter he couldn't understand. Turns out that was chapter one. In his pre-test he got 4/20. After going over it with him, watching the DVD, doing the practice questions and finally the assignment, he took the same test again and got 78%. Seems like a huge improvement. I still don't understand why he passed in the first place. All of his classes have been the same - this was the most concrete example.

Physical science has been a struggle because he's been so indoctrinated by evolutionism and has never spent any time on creationism. As Christian parents, we always said our children would be "different" and it was OK they were in public schools because they had a strong foundation at home and knew the beliefs and were taught those beliefs. We discussed the things they talk about in school - evolution, among other things - and why that conflicted with our beliefs. I really thought he understood it. And he does, to a point. But one glaringly obvious example was the question "It is not biased for a scientist to not study a theory they do not agree with." He said true!

I could go on with example after example of ways I feel he was failed by them in the last nine years in just the few weeks we have done this, but ultimately it isn't even about that. It is more clearly about God using this entire situation to bring clarity to our decision to homeschool everyone - not just Austin. I had read a book lately and thought that maybe it was radical (I loved it) but after just a few weeks, I now realize just exactly how true it is and that it wasn't radical at all. And even if it is, am I not called to a life of radical obedience to God?? Are not all Christians called to such radical obedience?? We are!! Part of that radical obedience is my responsibility to raise and educate my children - and not leave it up to government run schools to do so. If it seems radical to homeschool - it may be because it is! If I am honest with myself, of course my children are getting a secular worldview in the public school system. They are there 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, year after year. How could they not? I even used the excuse that we are in a "Christian" district with "Christian" teachers but none of that matters. What matters is that I have, for far too long, abdicated my responsibility to raise my children the way the Lord has called me to. 

Now I know. And, like in Perspectives, once you know something, you must do something about it. The sin is to do nothing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A New Creation

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new!" ~2 Corinthians 5:17

As we embark on our homeschooling journey, which began a little sooner than I had planned, I am reminded of the awesome transforming power of God. I had planned on beginning in the end of February, but God took a terrible event and made it His and perfect and within His plan for our lives. I love when He does that!

As I look back over my life, I can see where God has transformed me and I stand in awe of His greatness. When I get anxious about the decision to homeschool or start to doubt whether I can truly take on something so huge, I need to stop and praise the One whom it is all for; who knew long before I was knitted in my mother's womb, exactly what He wanted for me and my family; reminding myself to be anxious for no thing. Because without Him, I will fail. And it is a huge undertaking, but I have been God to do this for my children. Awesome.

Twelve years ago, I tearily sent Austin off to preschool, completely oblivious to what would happen in his life and, frankly, wouldn't have even cared at that time what he would be taught. I knew that everyone sends their children to school and had never even heard of "homeschooling." He went off to preschool, I cried, but I considered it a right of passage. Kindergarten came and it was a little harder to send him, but I still didn't even begin to question anything about what he would be taught or that it may conflict with our beliefs. At the time, I was a Christian, firmly rooted in my faith. I believed that a part of my responsibilities were gone. I was no longer the one with the greatest influence over him - his teachers and his peers were. I was no longer the one who spent the most time with him - they had seven and a half hours a day, 5 days a week with him. Even when difficulties started to surface, I never questioned taking him out and certainly never thought of homeschooling.

God had begun to nudge me about homeschooling by the time Austin was in sixth grade. Austin was begging to be, I knew all the reasons we should and could argue in favor of homeschool with the best of them, but I was still buying into the lie that I couldn't do it. By eighth grade, I knew I needed to be homeschooling not just Austin, but all of our children, but Steve was still not convinced. My prayer began that God would soften Steve's heart towards being a homeschooling family ourselves - he already agreed with all the reasons we should do it. I needed God to show me through Steve that this is what we, as a family, are called to do.

God transformed Steve's heart far quicker than He did mine. By December, Steve agreed that we needed to homeschool Austin and began looking into curriculum. We met with the school and AEA to discuss whether dual-enrolling Austin was an option or if we would have no involvement. Steve went into that meeting waivering still whether it was a good idea to revoke our consent to Austin's IEP that we had fought long and hard for. I prayed over the meeting and throughout the meeting, and halfway through, Steve told me to hand over the papers to completely revoke our consent to special education services. I watched my husband fight for his children - all of them - in that meeting in amazing ways. God can truly move people and it brings tears to my eyes to watch the power He gives each of us and the words only He can give us, at exactly the time when we need them.

I stand in awe of watching God's perfect timing in homeschooling for our family and the ways he has continued to work through and in our lives - in all areas of our life. I am amazed at what can happen when we step aside and relinquish all control of our lives over to God and stand in complete submission to His will. God will work in mighty ways if you let him. He will direct your path, if you allow it. And He will make His every plan for your life totally and completely clear - in His timing.

If you had asked me twelve years ago if I thought I would ever be homeschooling, have six children, live in a small town, I would have thought you were insane. Today, I am so excited to look over the last twelve years and the amazing ways in which God has transformed me for His purpose, and how he has prepared me for the journey ahead.

How has God worked in your life? Are you willing to give it all to him?

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." ~Philipians 1:6

Monday, January 31, 2011

{As a side note: I have been informed by some that they are having a lot of difficulties viewing our blog in Internet Explorer. I have followed all suggestions by Blogger and tried to make it better; but when I check it in IE, it is still looking weird. I use Firefox and I find that that has no issues. If you are having issues and wish to continue using explorer, you can view just the current post and won't have issues then. Sorry for the difficulties - I'll keep working on it!}

Well, I'm a little frustrated with myself. It appears that I am having difficulties keeping up with the blog, but I need and desire to continue because this is our "life" journal. I'm not any good at keeping a journal, so this has to be it. I have thought of printing out posts for our children as they get older. Just for me, it is also fun and insightful to sometimes read back to something and remember the feelings that post may invoke. After six children, my memory just isn't the greatest anymore! So I will keep plugging away and I will keep posting, they just may seem far in between. Please understand that I do not intend for intentions are, and always have been, to keep this up to date and current. Sometimes it doesn't happen that way!

Later this week, look for a post on the triplets fourth birthday! Eek! How in the world are they four already?!? We have been blessed in so many ways with them and I am so thankful!

In the meantime, here is a picture of all six at happens to be one of my favorite pictures of them of all time! Such little personalities and they really shine through here!