sharing from my heart to yours
Life changes so fast.
We've learned this in SO many ways these past few years.
Sometimes that's exciting, and sometimes it's hard.
We have another change coming, and it's one we didn't really expect!
Not long ago, I shared how God has led us through life and brought us just what we needed, when we needed it. I also shared how we have continued to pray for God's direction because we just weren't sure where we were meant to be.
Only about a month after that post, we got a phone call that put us on a path that we never would have expected!
My dad called me and asked what we'd think of moving to SD.
A bit of back story for those of you who don't know my family...
I was born on the west coast, but moved to SD when I was 6. I lived there until we got married, when I was 20, when we moved back west. My parents also moved west about a year later. a few years after that, we made our move to MN, where my husband grew up. We started the farming business, and fully expected to be doing that for the rest of our lives, despite our wondering if this is really where we were meant to be. I guess God had other plans!
So back to the phone call.
My dad shared the idea (not for the first time), of us moving to SD and working at his business (a sales/service company mostly for commercial cleaning equipment) that he started back when we first moved there over 20 years ago. I laughed because it wasn't a place we ever imagined ourselves living, or a job I could picture my husband doing. Then I realized that after praying all this time for God to lead us, I probably shouldn't laugh at what could be His way of opening a door for us! I told my Dad that I would talk to my husband and we would pray about it and get back to him.
My husband laughed.
It was one of those things he would have said he'd "never do".
(Please note... never say never!)
I told him we should probably at least pray about it, and he agreed. He said we should pray about it individually for a few days, think about it, be in the Word, and then we'd chat about it together. If God had us on the same page, maybe we'd have a clearer idea of where to go with it. I didn't give it a whole lot of thought at first, because of course we weren't going!
Then one day I had some quiet time, and really starting thinking and praying (and of course... in my style.... writing lists!). I thought about some of our long term dreams, about the path our life has taken, and started to question my initial reaction. I read the Bible for a long time that night, seeing places about trusting God's plan.
The next day, we started discussing it a little further. Much to the amazement of both of us, we were thinking in the exact same way. We both had the same idea in mind as far as long term plans, and just felt like maybe God really was giving us a new direction! Both of us had fully expected (and maybe even hoped!) that the other wouldn't be feeling that way. We both have liked living in MN, and would have been fine with staying in this area. We have been blessed in so many ways here, through friendships, our church, and family. Why would we leave that?!
But God's ways are not our ways! We continued to talk, and I shared that I had read a few places in God's Word the night before that I wanted to share with him. I pulled open my Bible and flipped to the place and I was about to begin reading, when my husband commented that he felt like God had laid Psalm 145:19 on his heart. I looked down at the page I was just about to start reading.
I was just about to read that same passage to him!!
Specifically, Psalm 145:13-21
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
We got the chills.
We knew that this wasn't just a coincidence.
God had put us on the same page.
While the verses weren't specifically giving us instruction, we felt so much comfort knowing that God's hand was in it. He gave us the sign we needed, exactly what we had asked for.
We knew that if nothing else, we at least needed to look into this open door a little more and explore what it could mean. Thought I think that point, we both just knew.
We are moving.
We're moving to a place we never expected, doing work we never thought would fit.
We have begun the process of selling the farm that my husband had always dreamed of.
We will be signing final papers to purchase a house very soon.
The pieces continue to fall into place.
We don't expect life to be easy.
We know there will be challenges ahead in many ways.
We are so sad to leave this place that has become home, these people who have become our people, this lifestyle that we were growing to love.
But we are also excited.
We look forward to changes and a fresh start; as well new friends and different places to explore.
We are thankful that it is a place familiar to us; where we already have some friends, and a church family to re-connect with.
So we ask for your prayers, as we start on this new adventure.
Pray that we are given continued peace.
Pray that the transition goes smoothly for all of us.
Pray that we are willing to do whatever God calls us to do in this new place.
God is faithful.
He will never leave us or forsake us.
He will direct our paths.
May God be with you on whatever journey you are traveling right now.
It's getting to be that time again!
My majorly nerdy self gets to have all kinds of fun planning, printing, laminating, and organizing! :D
I know not all of your are interested in our homeschool journey, but because I love to share, and some of you like to read about it, I figured I'd do a quick (or not so quick) update on what we're planning for the '17-'18 school year.
Actually, we really don't follow the traditional school calendar, so might not be scheduled quite like that. We've been pretty relaxed so far... well we sure should be! Rystin is really just going into 1st grade and Vayah into Kindergarten! But at these younger ages, I'm not worried about getting school in every day, as long as they are doing well, enjoying it, and progressing. We take breaks here and there for things like vacations, holidays, or special events, but overall, we just keep doing school at least a little bit throughout the entire year. So far, we don't worry about trying to complete a book by a certain date, or start a new grade during a certain season. When we finish something, we move onto the next thing and keep going.
This will be our third year of homeschooling, just because Rystin loved to learn so we started early. Vayah has been doing 'school' for awhile now too, and Janae jumps in wherever and whenever she can! But technically we'll be doing 1st grade and kindergarten this year with them. I'll share with you what we're using for learning this year and I'll add links where I can so you can check it out if you're interested.
Rystin - Age 6.5
We are moving ahead with My Father's World (MFW) again this year. We have loved the 'God's Creation from A-Z' kindergarten program, as well as the 'Learning God's Story' 1st grade program. That is what we mainly used the past two years, adding our own things in, and leaving things out here and there. It's a teacher friendly program that is very well laid out and does an excellent job laying a foundation for those little years. I also highly recommend a program like that if you're just starting out, as it's much less overwhelming than trying to piece each subject together separately. That being said, I have learned more about our homeschool style and how things work for our family. I tend to add some extra things in or replace things with my own twist, so I'm not sure if using a box curriculum really is worth it in the long run. I'm slowly moving towards a more eclectic approach and discovering some other things I like outside of MFW.
Back to the the topic at hand... we plan to slowly work through MFW Adventures in U.S. History throughout the next year or two. I'd like to take it slowly since it's generally done with kids a little older, and I'd like Vayah to join in when she can as well. We'll mostly do the history, geography, Bible, and possibly some of the art and music. They'll be studying the 50 states, and Rystin is really excited about it!
I haven't been as impressed with the science portion of MFW. So far, they mostly just read 1-2 pages each week from an Usborne book and then can do an experiment listed. It just wasn't very engaging, and Rystin loves to dig in to that kind of thing. I realize science isn't anything necessary for these little ages, and I don't want to push concepts on them that are over their heads either. Rystin has been saying he really wants to learn about animals this year. I purchased a unit study on bugs from The Good & The Beautiful, but I think we will be putting that on hold for now and starting with something else. We all love to listen to the audio books by Thornton W. Burgess, and they are rich, living books about animals. They are fictional, but you learn a ton about each animal as you listen, plus they're entertaining. I decided to put together my own 'curriculum' using The Animal Book for Children. We'll be studying about each animal, and I'll be assigning a character quality to study along with each one (since the stories bring that into play as well). So for example, when we study about foxes, we'll also learn about honesty. I have several books and webites we'll be using to tie everything together, so let me know if you want more details on that. We'll be doing some outside nature studies and journaling as well, so that will cover science.
My Father's World doesn't cover Language Arts or Math after 1st grade (though we've used our own math from the beginning).
For Language Arts, we're starting a new path this year, and I'm really excited about it (as I've shared with many of you!). I ran across a curriculum called The Good & The Beautiful. They are a new company developing programs for language arts, history, science, handwriting, and more. They are very inexpensive and I love the way things are laid out. I got LA Level 1 for Rystin to start. It covers grammar, spelling, phonics, literature, art, punctuation, vocab, and writing. I'm looking forward to seeing how we like it!
For math, Rystin will continue through Singapore and work on finishing workbook 1B. After that we will either move into level two, or possibly look into starting Teaching Textbooks.
We also do a lot of different things for Bible. There are a few books we read out of, scripture memory, and a lot that ties in with both MFW and our science.
Those are the main things for Rystin. I have other fun things I'd like to add in here and there such as cooking, castles/chivalry, health, and so on.
Vayah - Age 5
We have been doing some PreK/K type of learning with Vayah for awhile now. She is in the last half of the MFW God's Creation A-Z program. I don't think she'll be ready to jump into Learning God's Story yet when she's done with that, so I plan to work with her more using The Good & The Beautiful PreK and K programs. That will cover mostly phonics, as well as beginning the other language arts topics.
For math, she recently started Math Lessons for a Living Education, and has really enjoyed it so far! I did this for Rystin too, but it wasn't his style. I pulled it back out for Vayah and she loves the story-type learning. She is much more into history and story type of learning, instead of the science type topics that Rystin loves. It's amazing the random things they've each learned on their own, and how different they are in that!
For science, she will join us in the animal and nature studies.
I like to cover most of our topics as a group so we can all learn together. Janae (3) will join in with us as well when we wants to, and I may do a little bit of PreK with her from TGTB, since she usually insists that she has to do school too! She's my artsy one, so anything with coloring, stickers, and painting gets her attention quickly.
So far, I've never regretted our decision to keep our kids at home to learn. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and am excited to start another year. Occasionally Rystin comments that he'd like to go to school, but only because he wants to go play on the playground at recess. Once I explain that he'd only get to do that for a VERY short time every day and that they 'do school' all day instead of just for an hour or two, he figures it wouldn't be so great after all ;) I have loved having our family together, learning and growing, teaching each other. I'm sure I've learned more than my kids have!
This year will be an interesting one since we are moving to a new state (YES!! Just a short time after this post, our lives took a sudden turn and we are now preparing for a move! I'll share more in another post soon.) Rystin finished up a lot of what he was working on during this past month, so we'll be taking a break while we pack, move, and settle in to our new home. I'm learning about the new state guidelines, since each state has different rules as far as homeschooling. There is a large homeschool group in the area, so I've been enjoying connecting with them a bit already! We may get involved in some outside classes through that group.
We just returned home from a vacation west to visit friends and family. We had an amazing trip, but it's always so good to be home. I'm wrapping up some of the loose ends of planning before I jump into packing, and thought I'd share some of our plans with those of you who are interested. If you homeschool, I'd love to hear what you use - I'm nerdy like that! If you're interested in more posts about our learning journey, let me know and I'd be glad to share (or more likely, overshare!).
Thanks for taking the time to peek into our day to day!
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and I'll be back soon to share about how God has called us on a new path.
I wrote this article for The Salty Tribe Co. Journal
awhile back, but thought I would share it with you.
It is appropriate for me even now, as once again our
season seems to be changing.
I'll share more of that later on, but here are some of my
thoughts on the journey through life and homeschool...
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1
As we walk this journey we make plans, we prepare, we dream, we grow. But it’s very rare that life plays out the way we originally pictured it. Seasons come and go, and changes happen whether we like them or not. God’s plans for us are above our understanding. His timing is perfect. And it’s all part of learning.
I say this, because I’m experiencing it. My life hasn’t gone the way I would have imagined it. Instead of dreams, one of my worst nightmares came true.
In the spring of 2014, life was good. My husband had recently purchased cattle and we had begun dairy farming. Farming wasn’t something I would have planned in my life, but we were loving country living with our three children (5, 3, and almost 2 at the time). I was expecting our fourth baby soon, and we were preparing to send our oldest son, Skyler, to kindergarten at the local public school that fall. I had always thought that I would enjoy homeschooling, but I wasn’t sure if it was the best choice for our kids. I was also overwhelmed with the thought of trying to teach and take care of three little ones at the same time. Skyler, who loved to learn, was thrilled as we toured his school, took a ride on the bus, and met his teacher. Only a couple weeks later, he was gone. There was a tragic accident at the farm and our little boy went to be with Jesus.
It was the beginning of a new season. It was the start of many changes that we would have never expected or planned. So much of that time is a blur to me now. We went through the motions of shock and grief. One thing I remember thinking very soon after Skyler was gone, is that I knew now that I would homeschool. At least to start. There was no way that I could send my kids off to spend most of their days away from me, when I didn’t know how long I’d even get to have them. In the blink of an eye, I learned how short life can be. Maybe I was reacting out of fear, maybe I was trying to hold onto control instead of trusting God. But we all start somewhere, and that is how my homeschool story began.
That was a cold, dark time for us. We were on a stormy road that we didn’t want to be on, feeling like we had lost our way. Despite the fact that it was really spring at the time, we could feel the icy wind whistling through us, chilling us to our bones.
It felt like we’d never again feel the warmth of the sun.
There are seasons in life that are hard. We want to snuggle in and stay close to each other, because anything more than that feels like too much. There are no colors outside our windows and the ground is frozen and cold. Those are times of survival. We only do what we have to and we often feel empty and lonely. It’s ok. We do what we can and it is enough.
The most amazing thing is that even when we can’t feel the sun (or the Son), we know it (or He) is there still. During that time of deep grief, the love of our Lord was poured out onto our family in amazing ways. He was still there. He still loved us and was hurting as we hurt. He hadn’t forgotten. His promises were true. He would see us through and walk this season with us.
“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
We begin to see glimpses of hope. Through our pain, the sun slowly penetrates and we feel moments of warmth again. Outside, the fields are becoming green and the flowers are peeking out of the ground. On the farm, there is new life and calves beller for milk. We are needed and life keeps going. The seasons change, even if we’re not always ready.
We also welcomed new life into our family. Six weeks after saying goodbye to Skyler, we said hello to a baby girl, Janae Hope. We later learned that her name meant ‘God is gracious’. What a time of deep grief mixed with deep joy. A rainbow in midst of the intense storm. A blessing and a reminder of God’s promise. Life went on, even when we felt like it stopped.
We began to slowly bring learning into our days. I love to research, and I started to spend a crazy amount of hours looking to curriculum, homeschool methods, and reviews. I went to a convention; it was a whole new world, and I was getting excited about it. My list of reasons to homeschool lengthened as I learned more about it. I wanted to grow and learn with my family. I wanted to instill in my children a desire to learn, to give them a foundation to grow in, and teach them about the love of God. Just as we planted the seeds in the fields on the farm, I wanted to plant seeds into my kids and nurture them as they grew.
“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted” Ecclesiastes 3:2
We think of relaxation and rest in the summer, though very often it is more filled with busy days and extra plans. Time passes quickly as we try to soak up every moment. A season filled with joy and laughter. Days at the beach and evenings around a campfire. We feel the warmth and we see the colorful blossoms. Even though there is always a child missing when you’re counting heads at the lake, you find joy as your other children find joy. This is a good season with good memories.
It’s easier to be thankful as we watch our children play.
As homeschool moms, we often spend time planning and preparing. We look forward to new books and fun projects. We are full of energy and excitement, and even the kids look forward to the changes. There is likely to be hard days of burnout and frustration ahead; we know because we’ve been there. Things won’t always go as we had hoped. But still we prepare and plan. One thing that Skyler prayed before he died was, “Lord, keep us safe from the battle”. We say that often now and it reminds us to prepare for the battle that may be ahead. These times of peace and rest are good for the soul. It is a time to arm ourselves for whatever season may be ahead. We work the ground as we tend to growing plants.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
The crisp, cool air of autumn give us the energy for the changes this season. As we open new books and fall back into routine, our children dive into new ideas and experiences. Things have transformed again. Everyone is older and has grown. There is still the empty chair at the school table. I will always imagine what our biggest boy would be learning and enjoying each year. I reflect and remember. The hole will never be filled, but the pain isn’t so sharp. The ache has eased a bit and life has gone on.
Sometimes that is a comfort, sometimes it is hard.
On the farm, the combines drive up and down the fields as they harvest the year’s crops. It is stored for winter to be used as feed for the animals. God reminds us of His blessings. Life comes from Him, and only through Him are we able to walk the journey.
We may plant, others will water, but God gives the increase.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
SEASONS OF LIFE
It has been nearly three years since Skyler’s life ended. As I write, our fifth sweet blessing is snuggled on my lap. She again reminds me of hope and how the seasons of life are always changing. We are halfway through our second ‘official’ year of teaching our kids at home. Still just beginners, we are truly enjoying this season. As I experience the seasons of grief, the seasons on the farm, and the seasons of life in general, I have realized there are seasons in everything. Some of them are very difficult and some are wonderful. But in every season, God is there. He is always reminding us of His promise.
Sometimes in the heat of summer, there is a dark thunderstorm. Between the cool days of fall, we feel the warmth of Indian summer. The rainbow shines through the clouds as the sun peeks through. The mix of feelings and emotions. Hard times and joy-filled times. God’s plan is perfect, even when it’s hard to see. But I know that life is short. If we can live in each moment, treasuring our children and making the most of the season we are in, we will be able to recognize God’s loving hand in the little things. It’s not about how many books we get through or the number of field trips we schedule, it’s about growing together as a family through each season of life.
As I was reading this morning, I began to think about some of the times when God has truly shown His presence in our family.
I know there are more than I can count, but there is one area that really sticks out to me that I was thinking of today.
Nearly 9 years ago, I walked down the aisle to commit to walking my life with the man who I loved (and still do!).
We had no idea what was ahead of us.
Not that anyone does.
We didn't know about the moves.
The many job changes.
The many children.
The loss of our oldest child.
The ups and downs of two people merging their lives together.
But today I am thinking specifically of the moves.
When we first married, we lived in the house that my husband and his cousin owned together in the Northwest.
It was a beautiful home, but it was for sale.
It was hard to truly make it 'home' since I knew we would likely be moving soon.
I got pregnant with our first child, and when I was approaching my due date, the house sold. My husband was working stay away jobs a few hours away each week at the time. I ended up being mostly responsible for finding a new place to live. We looked at apartments (shudder) and rentals in the area.
Everything was very expensive and not in great locations.
We had to be out of our house soon, out baby was coming, and I was the only one around to do anything about it!
I was pretty stressed to say the least!
Then we got a random call from an older lady in our church.
She had heard we were looking for a place to live, and had a perfect rental place out in the country, for the perfect price!
What a gift from God!!
I packed most of our stuff up myself (though had a few friends help out too at times), and over the weekend when my hubby was home, we got some friends to load the last of our furniture to our new house.
Three days before Skyler was born, we were 'settled'!
God clearly had His hand in this.
I knew ever since I had started getting to know my husband ('Fro') that he wanted to someday move to MN and be a farmer.
It was what he knew.
He had grown up on a dairy farm, and his roots were deep.
We really thought it would be kind of a 'long term' plan and we'd be out west for quite awhile first.
We started feeling a bit unsettled, and began looking at some houses that we could possible purchase (still in the NW).
Nothing was really falling into place, and around that same time, Jethro heard about a farmer in Minnesota who was looking for some full time help, with some future long term potential.
We had planned a trip there over Christmas, so decided to check it out.
By that time we had been blessed with another son and were expecting our first daughter, and Fro was really starting to feel the pull to move back to his home.
Everything fell into place with the job, and suddenly we were scheduled to move in just a few months.
I began to look all over for houses online.
Places to rent, places to buy, anything!
I would be just a few months away from having another baby when we moved, so I was feeling pretty stressed again about finding a place to live!
Not long before we were going to leave, another kind couple from our church approached us. They had a summer home there in MN, and it wasn't being used at the time. They said we were welcome to stay there for a month or so until we found a place to rent, or until they needed it again themselves.
Thank you, Lord!
We packed up and headed East!
We moved into this temporary place to stay,
and began our search again for a place to live.
We looked into rentals, and places to buy near the farm Fro would be working.
About a month later, we found a cozy little rental right on the edge of town.
It was close enough to the farm, but not somewhere we'd stay forever.
It was a tiny little house, but it was just perfect for that time.
Our little girl joined our family about 6 weeks after we moved in.
Little did we know, it was a perfect little haven for our family to nest together before our Skyler left us.
We were there a little over a year before that unsettled feeling started coming again. It became clear that the job my husband had was not going to work out long-term as we had first thought.
We began to wonder what God's plan was for our life.
We explored some different ideas, but doors weren't opening.
Then the opportunity came up for Fro to begin farming on his own with his brother, close to where he grew up.
He began to build up his own herd of cattle, and put in his notice at the farm where he worked.
we began looking for a place to live again!
There was an old farm house just down the road from where the guys were renting their farm. The house was being rented, but not lived in at the time.
We contacted the renters to see if they would be interested in letting us move in. At first they said no.
I should also mention that I was now expecting baby #4!
It seemed to be a trend to move every time I was pregnant.
I was again feeling a bit stressed about where we would live, since some of the options in the area weren't very appealing to me!
Suddenly we got a call from the couple and they had decided to let us have the place! We would move in TWO days!!
God had provided again, at just the right time, with just the right place.
Why do we even doubt?
He has it all planned out anyways!
We were only in this place for a month before God called our Skyler Home.
We were, of course, heart broken.
We wondered if we had made the wrong decision.
Maybe if we had gone elsewhere, this wouldn't have happened.
Of course those were just lies and doubts creeping in.
God's hand was still there, each day, showing us His plan.
Showing us His love.
We are again in a place of wondering what God's plan is for us.
What is next in our lives?
We have been in this rental for 3 years now, the longest we have lived anywhere so far.
If you had told me 10 years ago that we would be living in a place like this, I wouldn't have been thrilled! ;)
We've been in temporary homes for all 9 years of our marriage.
For most of those years, I was frustrated with it.
I wanted to own our own place.
I wanted a place we could really call 'home' that we loved.
I have come to realize that everywhere on this earth is 'temporary'.
Our home is Heaven, and we will never be fully content until we're there.
Our goal doesn't need to be 'bigger and better'.
The point in this life isn't to have the ideal retirement plan or to continue climbing the corporate ladder.
Though there is nothing wrong with those things, they are blessings too, that shouldn't be our purpose.
God has a bigger plan, and sees the bigger picture.
While I still have some dreams, I am learning to be content.
In this area at least!
God has shown us over and over that He will provide.
He guides us each step of the way.
We worry and stress about where we will go, or what we will do, while He's got the whole plan figured out ahead of time.
We don't know what our next step will be, but we can rest in the assurance that He does!
I pray that we can all have open hands and loosely hold the things of this world.
And that we can have open hearts to whatever God calls us to.
May we be willing to listen and walk on the journey He has for us.
It's been awhile since I've posted.
We've had some golden sparkles since then.
Treasures and valuable gifts that shine and reflect the light in a beautiful way.
Our first gold sparkle of the year is our sweet new little person!
This mama was so ready for her to come by the time her due date arrived (and passed!). She made things a bit difficult for me as far as delivery, but she's safe and sound and as perfect and sweet as every new baby is.
Of course, in my eyes, she's even MORE perfect and sweet! ;)
She's nearly 3 months old now and seriously has been an angel baby.
She is so happy and smiley and just content with life.
Rystin likes to say that she's so happy to be a part of our family,
but really, we're just all thrilled with her!
Another area we've had some gold sparkles is in our homeschool.
We have truly been enjoying learning together this year. It's been a lot of fun as the kids have grown a bit older to do more projects, read 'bigger books', and just explore our interests. God's creation is so amazing, and we are seeing His beauty in every area!
Another Gold Sparkle:
Rystin turned 6!
This boy continues to amaze me as her learns and grows.
God has been so good and I love to see this smile!
And one more Gold Sparkle:
We celebrated Skyler on what would have been his golden birthday on the 8th.
Skyler's birthday is always very bittersweet.
We dread it as it comes, knowing how impossible it is to truly celebrate the birthday of a child who is no longer with us.
But so far, each birthday that has passed has been a blessing.
We feel so much love from those around us, and God's arms feel extra close.
We are able to remember and be thankful for the time with had with Skyler.
I was thinking the other day about loss, and this came to mind...
A mother knows what it means to love someone so much that it hurts. But it's not until we lose that someone, that we realize how deep that love truly was.
The hurt is still deep, but time has eased the pain.
That is also bittersweet, as part of me wants to hold onto that pain, knowing that my love for Skyler is so closely woven into that hurt.
And while that deep pain comes and goes, I think an even bigger struggle for me is fear.
Fear for the day that the pain may come again.
I want to hold on so tightly to my family and just hide away.
But I know that there is nothing I can do to protect us.
This world is an imperfect place, and we are not promised an easy life.
In fact, we are told we WILL suffer.
But may our suffering be for His glory.
May all of the hard stuff work together for His good.
It will! He promised.
So I hold on to that, praying for strength for whatever lies ahead, thankful for the hope we have for the day that truly we will have
forever and ever, with no end!
Thanks so much for stopping in to listen to my rambling thoughts.
I know I don't always post very regularly, but I pray that you are encouraged as I share my heart.
As we are in the midst of our 3rd Christmas season as an incomplete family, there is much to look back on. I was thinking about the 4 weeks of advent and what each week represents as we look to the birth of Christ. These same words have reflected a lot of what I have experience these last years, as the empty placed that Skyler used to fill remains. I thought I’d share some of my heart.
This was the word I clung to. In those beginning months of grief, ‘hope’ came back to us over and over. It was the only anchor that kept us firm. We held onto the promises that Christ gave us in that. I had hope that things had to get better. I had hope that God would hold us close in that time. Most of all, I had hope that I truly would see my sweet boy again someday. And while this didn’t take the pain away, it did give us a reason to keep going. When my baby girl was born 6 weeks after Skyler went Home, we named her Janae Hope, later learning that ‘Janae’ meant ‘God is gracious’. He truly was gracious to us. As I knelt there next to my firstborn, holding his still hand where he had breathed his last breath, I thought that there is NO way I can bring forth new life from my body so soon. I felt like there was NO way I could love another baby, after losing the first baby I loved so dearly. Now, as I’m about just as far along in pregnancy with #5 as I was then, I know that only by God’s grace was I able to have that strength. We later realized that she was what we needed. She kept me living, and truly showed me what ‘hope’ meant. Looking back now, so much of that time was a blur. I remember how some of my senses were so dulled with shock. Some things had no taste when I ate, sometimes it felt like an elephant was sitting on me. I remember once sitting in my chair with living room full of people, wondering if I should have someone bring me to the hospital because I couldn’t lift my arms. I realized it was just part of it all. Then some details I can remember SO clearly, the exact thoughts running through my head, the tears of people I loved as they cried on my shoulder, even when I had no tears of my own. The many many people that showed us love. Which brings us into the next area…
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 5:13
I thought I knew. I thought I understood what love was before. Now I’ve realized it’s a life-long journey of learning. When I was in 8th or 9th grade, I remember being at a place of understanding. I believed with all my heart in the God who created and loved me. I was on fire for Him, with big plans to go on mission trips and so on as soon as I could. That faded a bit as I got older, though I never walked away from my faith. When I got married, and after Skyler was born, I got a taste of a new kind of love. The love I had for my husband was something I had ‘chosen’ in a way, and had happened gradually. But the love that I had for our son completely blew me away. That heart explosion of holding him for the first time, and watching him grow into a little boy was enough to make you stop and think what God had really done when He sent His Son to this earth. And to imagine the love that He has for us that is SO much bigger than what I was feeling. With the birth of Rystin, and seeing the amazing relationship that Skyler developed with him, with the birth of Vayah and seeing how she just adored her oldest brother. Those are the things that make every day worth living. But when that first little boy was taken away from me, I thought my heart had shattered. How could someone I loved SO much just be gone in an instant?! There HAD to be something I could do. But there was nothing. I had never wanted anything in my life as bad as I wanted him back. And I couldn’t have that, no matter what I did. And I realized that I loved him even more that I had thought. That phrase ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ is so true. But in those days and weeks and months that followed, I realized I hadn’t lost my love for him. It didn’t die with him. I still love him as much now as I did then. While it’s hard to watch time pass, memories get fuzzy, and even pain start to fade, I can still feel that love that was always there for him. And during that time, I also felt the powerful love of Christ in a way that I never had before. It’s something that’s impossible to explain. There were times that I literally felt like His arms were around me. I’d open my Bible and He would speak to me. My home was filled with people coming and going, all being the hands and feet of Christ to me during that time (and they still do). I have never felt as close to God as I did during those first weeks. There were times when things got quiet, and I would begin to feel far away from God. But He was always there, and He showed me His love in small quiet ways, over and over again. I realized how He is truly faithful. Those promises of hope that He gives us really are sure. I had never ‘needed’ God like I did then, and He was right there all along, pouring out that love onto us so generously. And that is enough to slowly bring the joy back again.
1 John 4:19
We love him, because he first loved us.
It was so hard to imagine ever feeling joy again. How could we be joyful when we had lost so much? We were all so broken in such different ways. Our needs were so varied, and our grief so personal. How would we survive the complete mess that grief brought into our lives?! It was ugly and frustrating. And Satan immediately tries to sneak in when we are weak and pull us apart from each other and from our God. He accuses us of doing it ‘wrong’. He makes us feel selfish. He plants seeds of doubt in our minds and points fingers in all directions. He tries to convince us that there’s nothing left to live for. But our God is so much more powerful than Satan. He brings us out of the pit and plants our feet on a firm foundation. But it is a long slow journey. We fall down and slide backwards. But He is always there to help us up again. We see peaks of the mountain tops from a distance. Occasionally we get to a place high enough to feel that spark of joy again. And so goes the journey of life. We have valleys and mountains, but our God is the same through it all, never leaving us. Joy doesn’t always mean happiness. Joy isn’t always something outward. But the joy that God places in our hearts is Eternal. The joy in my heart is the same joy that is in Skyler’s right now. His is fully alive and reality. Mine is just a glimpse as I walk the journey. But praise God for the joy He gives, because it also leads us to a place of peace.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11
One of the things I am most thankful for these past (going on) 3 years in the sense of peace. Somehow, even in those first days, I was able to feel some small amount of peace. As time has passed, that peace has grown, as far as facing loss anyways. There have been seasons that are harder, and probably always will be. The holidays can be especially difficult when there’s such an empty place always there. But this season I have mostly felt peace. Sadness crept in as I watched the 2nd grade class recite their verses and sing in the Christmas program at church today, but mostly I felt peace. I think I feel more peace with Skyler being Home, than I do in day to day life here with my other kids sometimes. My mind runs 1000 mph in all directions, imagining what could happen to one of them. If I leave them with someone else, I am constantly wondering if they are ok, and thinking of all the what-ifs. Fear sneaks its way in again and I struggle. It is so hard to give up the control that I seem to think I have, and trust in God’s plan, even though I’ve seen the beauty in the ashes before. He’s brought us through my worst nightmare, and I’m still here. Why would I doubt His plan for the future? Someone recently shared with me that it’s ok to allow myself to struggle. I set pretty high standards for myself, and feel like I fail if I have a hard time with something. Going to the farm with the kids is still difficult for me. But that’s ok! That’s normal and part of it, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for allowing myself to grieve. It’s ok to step back from life and heal. That was a bit of a revelation to me, since I just try to push through it and make it go away. So I have felt so much blessing of peace in the loss and the process, but still hold onto fear in the life we have ahead. But when I remind myself that God alone is in control, and that His promises are firm, I am reassured with the peace that only comes from Him.
Isaiah 12:2 - Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid:
for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
And as in the season of Advent, this hope, love, joy, and peace all point to our Savior. That sweet babe, God’s only Son, truly brought all of these things to us. And while this life is hard, and these struggles face us daily, we can be assured that these are Eternal. Because of God’s gift to us on that first Christmas night, and what that baby grew up to do, we can face each day. That baby boy, Jesus, grew up to teach us His ways. He showed us what hope, love, joy, and peace really meant. And His death and blood that washes us clean give us a Forever promise. It is only in Him that we can be confident that this world is not our home, but our True Home is waiting for us as we journey here. That place of eternal joy, where the pain is gone, where there are no more goodbyes. May each of us remember this Christmas, of what we are living for. Let us remember that we were worth dying for. And let us focus on what it means to feel hope, love, joy, and peace in all season of this road of life.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Praying you all have a blessed Christmas!
Hello to all!
It's been awhile since I've blogged, so I thought I'd do just a general life update post for anyone who is interested.
I feel like we've had a laid-back, event-filled season.
If that makes any sense!
Starting more recently, I decided to sign up to be an Usborne consultant.
Feel free to skip this part if you don't care ;)
Because I LOVE and have collected many titles from this book company, and I needed them often for homeschool, I decided it would make more sense to just sell them and get a discount!
I didn't get into it to have a big business, but more to get a better deal on books for myself to grow our home library, and to be available for those who may want to do a party, but don't know anyone who sells.
Next week will be busy, as I kick off with a home show on Tuesday (the 15th) evening. If any locals are interested in coming, please let me know!
Then I'll be doing a Facebook party on Thursday (the 17th) for everyone else who can't make it there in person. You don't have to be there live, or even have a FB account to participate. There will be several fun giveaways, so let me know if you'd like to be added to that! I'm also doing a local vendor fair on the 19th, so it will be a busy week. They are estimating about another month of ordering for product to be shipped by Christmas. Also, since I'm a new consultant, I get to give out DOUBLE free stuff to all those who host a party. That's HUGE... and it's how I got hundreds of dollars worth of books at the party I hosted last year on FB. Let me know if you'd like to give it a try... it's no expense to you, just free stuff :)
My FB business page is:
and my site link to purchase books is:
In other news...
I'm into my 3rd trimester of pregnancy with little #5!
It really has gone quickly and I have been blessed with a pretty easy pregnancy so far. I had some fear in the beginning, since my emotions are sometimes difficult to manage when pregnant, and I didn't know how that would mesh with grief. It's never an 'easy' journey, but thankfully it has been better than I expected so far. Keep us in your prayers these next months as we prepare to meet another family member who won't know their biggest brother.
We have still been really enjoying homeschooling!
We have been much more scheduled and in a regular routine this year than last year, but it seems to help a lot!
We started our new curriculum about 6 weeks ago, and have been enjoying it so far. The kids seem to want to just keep learning, and I have finally tell them that's enough school some days! It's a blessing for sure, but it also makes it challenging at times. Janae (2.5) is my biggest challenge since she HAS to be in the middle of everything too.
Here's a few snapshots from some of our more recent activities, as well as the details of what we are using for curriculum this year...
Our core curriculum is still My Father's World.
Rystin finished 'God's Creation from A-Z' (K) and started
'Learning God's Story' (1st).
Vayah is doing parts of K now that she didn't do with us last year, mostly the phonics, math, and handwriting.
MFW includes most subjects, but we do add a lot in too, since the kids want to keep going!
Phonics, handwriting, history, Bible, science, art, music, and math.
I'll break down each subject a little further and tell you what we add, or what we do typically for these subjects.
Rystin LOVES to read. When doing K, he was itching to go more quickly, so we started doing Hooked On Phonics as a supplement. He has flown through it, but I'm thankful that now in MFW 1st he'll be covering the rules again.
Vayah wants to read really badly, so it's been a struggle trying to work with her at the level she's at now, when she wants to be so much further. MFW K is definitely a good speed for her at this age. She does try to do Hooked on Phonics often, but it just moves a bit too fast for her right now.
Both kids have copy work and they also enjoy writing letters to family and friends, so they are getting plenty of that in. They have both enjoyed an iPhone app called Letter School that teaches them letter formation by tracing.
MFW 1st focuses on Bible history, by going over most of the key stories out of the Bible. We made scrolls, set up a timeline on the wall, and have been learning about Thanksgiving lately. The K program doesn't do much with history, but Vayah likes to follow along with Rystin when he does projects.
MFW heavily focuses on Bible for every grade. Bible is the main thing for 1st especially, where they learn Bible history, study/memorize a weekly Proverb, and do daily devotional studies. We do a lot with memory work, and the system we use has worked well with the kids. It's so amazing how quickly they pick things up at this age! Memory work isn't always their favorite thing, but it's neat to see them recite and learn. We do a few other randoms to add to it, but those are the main things.
MFW K focuses a lot on 'science' type topics such as learning about the sun, specific animals, plants, etc. We had a lot of fun with it last year, but Vayah went through all of it with us, so I'm not doing it again this year with her.
MFW 1st doesn't have a lot for science. They have a key topic each week, but it doesn't have much to go with it other than a page or two of reading and a few suggested projects. We started to add in notebooking, and I'll do printables and cut and paste activities, or drawing things related to the topics. We do a lot of reading from library books about each topic too.
MFW for both K and 1st covers a little bit of these topics in them. I'm funny when it comes to 'art' projects though. I don't enjoy the ones that don't also teach them something, and will just end up in the garbage, like the cut and glue type projects. They do lots of that in Sunday School and Mom's Group for me to need any more :) Not to say they don't learn from those too. We've started working through the art book that is part of MFW (Drawing with Children). Rystin hated to draw and went into it with resistance, but the few things we've done so far has really made him more interested and open to drawing/coloring. Vayah likes art a little more, but Janae seems to be my biggest artist so far.
We don't officially do a lot with music, other than occasionally listening to the suggested classical music songs. I have done a few piano lessons with them, which we may pursue more in the future. They love to sing, and play with our keyboard and the recorded songs on there often.
This was another subject that Rystin really seemed to grasp onto easily in K. We started Singapore 1A partway through last year, and have just continued it this year. I haven't done any of the suggested math in MFW 1st for him other than occasional activities. He still enjoys the Singapore program and we just do it a few times a week. We also have the first book of the Life of Fred series. We started that last year too, but he resisted. He's enjoyed it a bit more this year, but we've only read a few chapters. It's more of a 'story book' than a math book, but teaches all the concepts.
Vayah does the math pages that are in the MFW K program, and we also have the Singapore K books for her. I got most of them used at a sale, so we decided to try them. I don't like the 'Earlybird' version we got for her, so I think if we ever get the K books again, I'll try the 'Essentials' instead.
Janae is learning her colors and counting.
She talks a ton and loves to sing and pretend.
She mostly just pretends to be studious while she's really just getting in the way while we do school. The struggle is real!
But she is a charmer and keeps us all laughing either way :)
We typically like to travel in the summer, but this year we stuck close to home.
We made several trips last winter/spring, so decided we'd wait until next summer to do another vacation.
I took the kids on a weekend trip to SD, but otherwise we spent the summer swimming at the local lakes, meeting up with friends, and just relaxing! I felt a little rough for about 6 weeks early in the pregnancy, so it was a
good time to just chill.
We did school about once a week through the summer, which was good to keep up on what they had learned, then started in on a more daily schedule in early September.
Life on the farm continues on.
We are praying for God's guidance as we look ahead for His plan.
We don't know what direction we will be going, so it's truly a day by day way to live. I still feel a lot of anxiety when the kids are at the farm.
Rystin got a pretty bad burn on his back when we were at a Labor Day campout and he fell into the fire. That affected me more than I thought it would as far as fear and worry. It's a continuous struggle to remember that God is in control. Same with the election. So many things we have to just let go of and give to God. But that's easier said than done!
I was thrilled to get my scrapbook of Skyler's life completed not long ago.
In it is basically every picture we have of him, as well as many stories and memories, as well as links to videos.
It was a process to complete, but felt like a weight was lifted when I got it finished. The journey of grief never really ends, it just changes.
Sometimes it can be a total disconnect, wondering if it really happened.
Other times it's deep in the trenches, reliving the trauma, and feeling the loss.
But God has given us strength, and will continue to do so.
We always appreciate your prayers as we each face different battles.
So, as we begin the busy holiday season, I pray you keep your focus on the things that matter. Remember to treasure each moment and memory with the people you love. Stop and take the time to let them know you care.
Go out of your way to put a smile on their faces.
Go to God with each and every doubt and fear.
And thank Him for every blessing he has placed in your life, especially His own Son, who He allowed to die so that we can live.
Spread that message to the world, because that is why we're here!
The blend of emotions never ends.
The mix of joy and pain.
The combination of new life and old grief.
Excitement and hesitation.
Remembering and looking ahead.
I guess the key is looking up, into His face.
We are thrilled to share that God has again blessed us with new life.
Another little person has already snuck into our hearts, even as God forms and grows each little part inside of me.
February seems like so far away to meet this sweet baby!
I do share this with some hesitation though.
After losing a child, I have come to see that new life can be painful.
This can include hearing the news of others.
I have thought a lot about how each person we come across in life walks a different path than ourselves.
Each of us faces tough stuff, and life isn't just 'easy' for any of us.
Some of us have had obvious tragedies happen, or things that people on the outside can see.
Others have secret hurts, or hidden pain in their lives.
We always refer to a coming baby as a 'blessing'.
And, don't get me wrong, it TOTALLY is!
Children truly are amazing gifts from God.
But does that mean that those who don't have them haven't been blessed?
Or that God has removed blessing from those of us who have lost?
Of course not.
Every life is precious and valuable and perfect.
God creates each one beautifully and wonderfully in His own image.
But each of us is different and unique too.
God has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives, from the very moment we were conceived.
We often have dreams and wishes for our futures.
And when these hard trials come we forget that God's plan is greater than ours.
The things that we look at as blessings, may not be how God chooses to bless us.
I surely wouldn't have ever had losing a child in my life plans.
And now the thought of adding another life into our family brings with it some fear and even a little sadness (mixed with the joy), knowing that this baby will have no connections to his/her oldest brother.
I fear the what-ifs of having another piece of my heart out there in this world.
But the gift of life cannot be denied.
So for those who haven't had children, who have struggled with miscarriages, or have lost children, I think of you.
I hurt for you as you see over and over the news of others and wonder why.
I wonder why.
I question why God would continue to place these children into my life.
But I am thankful.
I pray for peace for each situation.
May we always remember that God's plan is perfect.
Let us rest in Him as we walk daily in His grace.
His love cannot be measured, and His blessings are not limited.
So I've been thinking a lot about life recently.
Ha. What else is new?!
But more specifically, what is our purpose?
Why are we here?
Who are we living for?
I think we can all give those answers somewhat easily.
In a nutshell, we are here to spread the love of Christ to the World.
I think sometimes, though, in the mundane of life, we forget.
I was visiting with some friends recently and we were discussing the topic of living for others, versus living for God.
Are we people-pleasers or God-pleasers?
Do we make choices based on what others will think of us?
Do we allow God to work in our lives in all circumstances?
Personally, I know this is a struggle for me.
Even here on the blog, I sometimes doubt about sharing my heart.
Will people think I'm trying just to get attention?
Will the like it or think it's dumb?
If they say they like it will I take the credit and be prideful?
If I am criticized, will I quit?
What if a lot of people read it?!
What if nobody reads it?!
I don't write often here, but it is one of the many areas in my life that this type of questioning comes about.
But we can ask these kinds of questions about anything...
Am I too focused on my job?
Do people think it's a waste of time?
Should I be wearing this style of clothes?
What if people think it's strange?
I wonder if I'm too hard on my kids.
Or maybe I'm too soft.
People might not think I'm doing it right.
I have something I want to give.
But they might think it's dumb.
What if I'm spending too much money on this?
Maybe I shouldn't go there, people might think I'm high class.
I don't want to go there, someone might think I can't do better.
I wonder what that person will think if they see this.
I'll just stay home, then people can't look down on me.
I can't stay home, people might think I'm stuck up!
You get the point.
Every single thing in life can become a point of doubting ourselves.
How sad that is.
We are so quick to hide who we really are.
We hide our hearts.
We hide behind excuses or make choices based on the people around us.
Some of these questions maybe SHOULD be asked.
But in a different way.
WHO are we living our lives for?
So the answer to all of those questions should be directed towards Him.
Would God think this decision is worth my time?
Am I following His leading by making this choice?
Does this thing in my life glorify Him?
We can so quickly forget that.
We worry and wonder about others will think of us,
without even considering what God will think.
People's opinions really don't matter.
It is hard to go against the grain and be different.
It's not easy to make choices that people around you might not like.
Going out of our comfort zone to do something we feel that God is leading us to can be a challenge.
Making changes in our lives because of God's calling isn't a simple thing.
We can live for others (or even ourselves), or we can live for God.
There is only one way.
It's not the easiest way.
Our God doesn't promise a smooth journey.
In fact, He tells us that the whole world may be against us.
But I come back to my title questions...
What's the point?
'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Let us ask God to guide us.
May He help us to live for Him,
without being concerned about the opinions of others.
I pray we can be real with each other.
Lets share our hearts, the joys and the struggles.
May we be confident in the person He created us to be.
And may we be sure in the faith He has given us.
...We can't stop it.
Or slow it down.
Or speed it up.
No matter what we are experiencing in life,
time continues to pass at the same rate, day after day.
I think this is a blessing, even though we are rarely content in it.
But time creates memories.
It gives us things to look forward to.
It assures us that things will change when we're feeling stuck.
It teaches us when we look back at the past.
It heals hurts.
7 years back in time (as of yesterday), my Skyler was born.
Nearly two years ago, he closed his eyes, only to open them again in Heaven.
82 years ago, my Papa was born.
Just over a week ago, he opened his eyes to see his Creator.
Time is funny like that.
It doesn't always make sense to us.
I believe there is no time in Heaven.
They are just there, and it's forever.
For Skyler and Papa, they are Home.
We're still stuck in this land of time, so we look ahead.
We wonder when our turn will come.
There is no way to know.
But we can be ready.
Both my son and my grandpa blessed my life in big ways.
With the passing of time, and the ability to look back, I am seeing how God has taught me in different ways, using His people as tools to do it.
Papa has an amazing legacy.
He lived his life serving his Lord.
He wasn't perfect, but he carried the torch of his faith.
He left behind many who can continue.
He was one of the people who taught me about Jesus.
Especially in my preteen and early teenage years.
I remember him telling me stories,
inspiring me with his mission,
and teaching me what having a personal faith really meant.
Those are (almost) all of my cousins from my mom's side of the family,
as well as about 1/3 of the great grandchildren.
It was a privilege to get reacquainted with them,
as we gathered to remember and say goodbye to our dear grandpa.
It was a bittersweet time, as death often is.
That woman in the center of the photo...
that's my grandma.
She is one of the strongest people I know.
I can't imagine the things that time has brought to her,
and the ways that God has taught her through it.
Looking back into the more recent past...
this little boy.
He is the little boy who made me a mother.
The feeling of holding your first child in your arms is completely mind blowing.
There is truly know way to describe it.
But I think the things that happen in our hearts in the days and months and years that follow is even more amazing.
I had no idea what God would teach me through this sweet little life.
For me, becoming a mom showed me so many things.
How truly selfish I was.
How big my heart could grow without actually exploding.
How much control I gave to fear.
How easily priorities in life could get mixed up.
How much God truly sacrificed for His children.
That I really didn't have as much patience as I once thought.
And that I didn't have child raising figured out after all.
How tightly we can hold on.
And how hard it is to let go.
On and on the list goes.
I am starting to see how little we actually know in this life.
God is shaping us and molding us through every experience.
He puts people in our life that teach us and challenge us.
Some of those things have been very hard.
Yet even through those things, I have seen His faithfulness.
Despite who I am.
Despite all of my mess ups.
Despite my stubbornness.
He is the patient Father.
His arms are always open.
His ears are always listening.
His LIFE has been given for ME.
I am thankful.
And because of all of this,
the little boy, who we celebrated yesterday...
the one who we miss with aching hearts...
who had a grin that would light up a room...
who has taught me so much...
I will see him again.
But how long?
How many more days do I have to wait?
It doesn't matter.
Because He is faithful.
His promise is sure.
And there is no time when we are talking about Forever.
Hold onto His promise.
Believe it and KNOW.
Hello and Welcome!