Oaxaca Update

This is an update we received from the field.
Hello friends and family,
I know it’s been a while since you last heard from me but it has been amazing seeing God’s work through my team. Here’s a big update to catch y’all up on my last couple weeks on the field.
June 10-18th was training week in New York and I got meet my teammates – L, E, A, B, M. Our team has been blessed with a team with strengths and weaknesses that together are united in the Gospel, and the Father will be glorified through this endeavor. We spent our mornings learning practical tools for the Gospel and then we were sent off into the city to practice and learn the culture they would be emerged into this summer!
The week in New York was spent training and equipping us with practical tools for the Gospel. It was awesome to see God’s work for the nations still being accomplished in the states!
July 18-27
The first week in Oaxaca was getting settled in our village and getting to know the people. We are currently living with a Catholic family and hoping to be the light for them.
This past week we had the opportunity to partner with a church who had a basketball camp and VBS while we have the opportunity to teach ESL in the afternoon.
We have made several relationships through the English classes and late night basketball games with some of the young women in the village. It is so amazing that we have been accepted into the village and lifestyle!
Life in the village is hard, and living in such a close corders can be very taxing on the teams unity and personal health. Please pray that our bodies will be healthy and that the team’s morale and unity withhold through the spiritual battle that we are in.
July 27-4th
This week we had the opportunity to meet up with some long term folks for encouragement and rest, it’s been a fun week filled with once in a life time adventures.
We will leave and head into the city for preparation for the rest of the summer. Please pray for safety as we travel.
Thank you for your support and prayers!
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Storytelling

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Mexican Hot Chocolate

My Health Journey (Pt 3)

In January of this year like most people I had decided to give the diet another go. I was not sure what I was going to do, or where to even start. Hubby and I talked about things and discussed what to do.  I had taken a break from the gym, and was not really doing anything. Hubby got on the internet and started looking around and found a program. I looked at it, and we decided to contact them and set up an appointment to talk.  I was a little skeptical, but I was about to the point of desperation.

We went to the clinic and met with one of the directors.  The lady we met with was very encouraging. She explained the program to us, basically told me that I had to want to do it. I had to be mentally prepared to start.  Hubby and I went home and talked more about it and decided that I would start the program. I actually started the program on a weekend that I was going to an adoption retreat out of state.

The retreat was a perfect place to start.  Despite being around all kinds of foods and snack, I stuck to the program.  I was able to have some time to think and jump in with both feet.

The program is called Optifast.  I would have five shakes a day and all the water or non-calorie beverage I could drink. That is it for the first several weeks. I had to check in with a dietician and doctor every week to make sure every thing was going well.  I also had to have blood work done to watch my blood chemistry.   Despite all that was going on around me, I had a schedule of when I was to drink and that never changed. This schedule would be my saving grace when times would get tough.

It was a rough few weeks when I started the program.  I could not handle cooking or going to the grocery store or being around food. I had to learn to change my thinking when it came to food.  It was all going back to the bad relationship I have with food.  God was working on me through it.  He was showing me that I was addicted to food – it was my idol.

Each week I was seeing success in my weight loss. That weight loss fueled me. Hubby was my biggest supporter. I would text him every week after weigh-ins, and he would cheer for me. When I hit a milestone, he even brought me roses to the clinic. All the people at the clinic supported me as well.  They never let me give up.  I loved meeting with my dieticians.

All I can say that God gave me the program as potentially my last shot to get healthy. He has been the one to get me through all these past months.  There have been some very rough times when we were dealing with some major health issues with our children.  Those shakes and eventually bars and soups were my saving grace you could say.  They were the one constant in my life when everything else would be going crazy.  In the past, I would turn to food to get me through.  When the food was not there, there was only one thing I could do – turn to God and pray. God was also changing how I acted around food in social situations. Meeting with friends didn’t always have to revolve around what or where we ate.  It was more about the relationship with the person than the food. It did make for interesting looks when hubby and I would go out on dates. He would order a nice meal, and I would ask for a cup of hot water, bowl, and a spoon.  There were so many things mentally that were changing.  I did loose my desire a little for food and especially for certain foods.

One thing did grow – my relationship with God.  He has worked on me these past 8 months to where I am now.  I desire Him more than anything.  I live to worship Him. Many of you know that our family went on sabbatical this summer.  I was trying to figure out how to handle the diet because I was not at my goal.  I took the advice of my doctor, and I did not quit – I stayed on it all through the sabbatical. I did cheat one time, but it was our 20th anniversary and how many times in your life do you get a chance to eat at the Biltmore. It was some of the best food I had ever put in my mouth. The next day I was right back on my shakes.

During our time away, God showed me so much more. Yes, there were tough days when I wanted to eat and give up. But, I had 3 girls that were depending on me. I could not give up till I met my goal.  The little one was my little policeman. She would get on to me anytime I joked about eating food.

So, here I sit 6 pounds away from my goal of losing 100 lbs.  It is something I could never do own my own. I have a much healthier relationship with food. I feel stronger and able to handle things without turning to my olds ways. I am eating 2 meals a day in addition to my shakes. I crave vegetables and healthy foods. I have started eating so many vegetables that I have never eaten before. It shocks my mother. I have gone from pinning desserts and junk food on Pinterest to pinning different ways to cook zucchini and cauliflower. I also look forward to exercising again. I love getting out in the mornings to walk and run.

Please know in no way do I deserve any of the credit for this weight loss. God is the one who gave me this plan and helped me to stick with it. The old me would have given up a long time ago. He has changed me physically, mentally, and most definitely spiritually.  I am also trying to figure out how to accept people telling me how good I look.  I have never been on that end, and it is kind of weird. I am also trying not to see myself as that fat little girl anymore who was made fun of for being overweight.

In all the time I have been losing, I was trying not to purchase a lot of clothing. This summer I had the opportunity to do some shopping for some much needed clothes since I was not too far from my goal.  I was trying on jeans at a store I had always wanted to shop in but was unable too.  I put the pair on and was not sure if they fit well or it they would stretch, so I asked the salesclerk.  She suggested I try a smaller size.  I was just shocked in that suggestion. So, I did and they FIT!! I just stood there and looked at myself in the mirror.  I was wearing clothes in sizes I had never remembered ever wearing.  I almost just sat there and cried. I am excited to go clothes shopping again (sorry, Hubby). God is so funny!

I have thought, why didn’t I do this earlier. What have I missed out on because I didn’t do this earlier. But I can’t do that.  I have a new beginning and I need to run with it.  Move on because there is no need to look back.

In no way do I have it all figured out, but I pray that God will be my focus for any problem that can come my way.  With all the weight that is gone, it truly does feel like a burden has been lifted.  When I look at pictures from just last year, I see someone who was miserable and unhappy.  Now, I have a new life and my joy has returned. I almost forgot – that blood pressure that was high – now so low that my body has not figured it out, and I have to be careful and not stand up too fast.

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This one on the left is when I started and the one on the right is about halfway thru the program.

 

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Here I am now.

Bible App

I am a big fan of the Bible app from You Version on my phone and iPad. I use it for taking sermon notes, my quiet times, and general Bible reading. I have also used some of their reading plans. It is great to always has the Word of God with me wherever I am.

One of the best features the app added is creating pics from scripture verses. I love being able make them from various verses I read in the Bible or during my quiet times.  I use verses that really speak to me, and I am able to share them on social media.

Here are a few of my favorites. You can see more on my Instagram feed.

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The love of the Father is always with us.

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First Day of Homeschool 2015-16

Wednesday was the first day of Dear’s Homeschool for Girls.  We were going to start the day before, but an expected medical issue came up and we had to delay the start.  One of the perks of homeschooling is that you don’t have to worry about what you are going to wear or rushing out the door or buying all the school supplies.  It is almost like any normal day – get up breakfast but instead of goofing around – we started school.  It was a little slow going, but we started back into the groove.  I had been working on getting rid of clutter and cleaning up the schoolroom for us to start this week.

I had not finished everyone’s lesson plans, but we were going to start – ready or not.  Not every subject was starting, but we had a nice start. I am excited about this new year.  I will have 2 in high school and 1 in elementary.  Hannah is somewhat self-motivated and get her stuff done and we just have to double check and keep her motivated.  With Emily, we have to keep her focused on task which we have had to do since she was little. Rae just wonders why she has to do all of this and why she is not doing the same thing her sisters did when they were her age.  She is a different kind of learner, and so many things have changed since they were in 4th grade.

I asked them all the same question about the new year. What subject are they looking forward to? Favorite school activity? Least favorite?

Hannah – She is looking forward to her AP English 12 class. She loves reading and writing and this was easy for her.  Favorite activity that she currently is enjoying is tennis. She is not looking to some of her college classes where she has to drive to multiple places.

Emily – Now being in high school (YIKES!!) she is looking forward to her Spanish and Writing class. As far as activities it is drama because she moves up to the high school homeschool drama group. Her least favorite, which has been the same every year, math (Algebra 1)

Rae – She is excited about learning Astronomy and starting tennis back up. She is not looking forward to history. While taking this pic she also informed me she doesn’t like school at all.

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Keeping it real for what it is like to take pictures with these 3. Life in our school.

 

My prayer for our new year is that we do everything for His Glory. We strive to always do our best even when it is hard. I also pray we will not get caught up in the busyness of the world around us, and we focus on what is important and do what God has called us to do.

Hears to a new year – may it be the best one yet!!

 

10 Years

When you saw the title, you think – celebrating marriage or birthday? No. Ten years ago our family moved to Ohio.  It is kind of strange how I remember when we moved here, but it was the same time Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana. We moved out of AL before the hurricane hit the coast.

the girls were so little when we moved here

10 years ago – the girls were so little when we moved here

Moving out of the South was a big change for us.  We had been married for 10 years and had 2 girls.  We had spent all of our lives in the South, but God chose to move us out of comfort zone.  While many may be scared of moving to a totally different area, we were not.  It was new adventure for us. The girls actually thought we were moving to Idaho or Iowa.  They had never really heard of Ohio till we came here.

We started talking with our church in the spring of that year, but we did not tell our girls because it would be hard for them to understand.  We had to be a little creative in how we told them, especially because they were getting to ride on an airplane for the first time to come to Ohio to visit with the church. They had never been part of a church move before.  In our last church move I was pregnant with Hannah.  They only knew Alabama and their friends there.

In the last 10 years we have been thru a many things – good and not so good.  Some of my favorites –

  • CFE – Finding this wonderful homeschool group has been the best thing. All of the parents and kids in the group mean a great deal to us and our girls. So many memories and experiences we have had and done.
  • Our church – They are a wonderful group of people who love us, pray for us, and miss us when we are away. It has been truly amazing to do life with the people of our church. We love you!
  • Blessings – I could write multiple posts on the blessings God has given our family, but God has really been so good to us more than we deserve.
  • Adoption – God chose to truly burden our hearts about after we moved here. It was truly one of the best blessings we have had outside giving birth to our two girls.
  • Travel – Living in almost the middle of the country, we can get to many fun locations easily.  We have been able to see some new and exciting areas we would not have been able to do if we didn’t follow God’s leadership to move here. If we didn’t drive to some of these locations, flying was often cheap and easy.

The past 10 years have been really great. We have often said that we could spend the rest of our lives here if God so chooses.  The downside of living here is that our girls have not been able to grow up around their grandparents and extended family.  That is one thing many ministers’ families have to deal with.  It comes with choosing to follow God’s leading and go where He wants you to go.

Our family has grown in so many ways over the past 10 years. We are looking forward to the next 10 or more years.

Family Sabbatical – Part 2

Summer finally arrived and school was over! We got ready for the Southern Baptist Convention and Crossover. With the convention being in Columbus, we were able to stay home and the older girls were able to participate in the Youth on Missions projects. They were excited to get to do that again. It was very cool having it so close to us and in Ohio for the first time. This was a great kick-off for hubby for his sabbatical.  I will say that my favorite part of the convention this year was the Call to Prayer.  It was great worshiping and praying with our church of other fellow Christians from all over our convention.  I pray will will ignite a fire for Jesus that does not stop.

Hubby left to head to South when the convention was over. He had a couple of stops before arriving at our final destination. I was sad to see him go, but I knew he was looking forward to getting away from all the crazy for a little while.  The girls and I didn’t leave with him because of commitments still we had.  I  had another week at the market and the big girls were heading to Super Summer at Cedarville the next week.  The girls were could not wait for Super Summer. Hannah had gone last year and was going to get to see her friends again, and Emily was going for the first time. Super Summer is a leadership camp for youth at Cedarville University that our state convention does every year for youth in our state.  They learn alot about different levels of leadership that build from one year to the next.

The little one and I have the week to ourselves after hubby left, and I got the girls off to camp.  That week we had to finished up some things around the house, and finish up our packing.  It was stacking up to be a busy week for the two of us especially with VBS going on at the church too. Rae had to have treatment that before we left, so that was scheduled and usually takes up a day.  I decided to take one day and not schedule anything and have a fun day with her at the zoo.   She was very excited to go see all the animals and feed the giraffe – that was all she talked about. We had fun with our friends at the zoo, and yes – she fed the giraffe.

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The Little One feeding the giraffe

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having fun with my girl at the zoo

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having fun with her friend at VBS

After our action packed week – the car was finally loaded, and we were headed to get the sisters at Cedarville. I was excited to see hubby again and have all the family back together again.  Once we were on the road – I was relieved and was ready to relax and de-stress!

 

Fulfill the Ministry

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

God has called us to fulfill the ministry of Christ. As Christians this is our mission. If we do not do the work of the Lord – who will? Today we do not suffer anywhere near what the Apostle Paul had to endure here today in our country (at least for now). Are you willing to take up the ministry called has called you to do? Do you know what your ministry is? Seek Him and He will show you.  It could be something simple as writing cards of encouragement or having coffee with a hurting friend.  God does call some to go on mission trips, teach a class, and do things that may be more visible, but there are many who serve in secret but God knows their heart.

I have been doing the Seamless Bible study by Angie Smith with my older girls this summer. It has been great to see how everything in the Bible points to Christ.  I am currently studying about about the life and ministry of Paul.  He was someone who was radically transformed and gave his entire life for the cause of Christ.  He went thru more than I could ever imagine.  Not only did he risk his life to tell others about Christ in prison or in freedom, he encouraged and disciplined other Christians and local churches.  He was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. He invested in the lives of others.  For him death was gain.  Am I sold out for the cause of Christ? Are you?

God may not call you to another country or to sell all you worldly goods and move to the jungles of South America, but you can make a difference where you are. I read the Kisses from Katie book this summer. I had mentioned this book earlier in the week. I admire her courage to step out on faith to do the what God called her to do as a 16 year old. She totally relied on God for her every need. She has helped so many children in Uganda because she chose to fulfill the ministry God called her to.

So, what is your ministry? That is what I have been asking myself this very thing this summer while we were on sabbatical. God used various things to help me see what God has called me to or what my next step may be. While what we may do may never be know by others, but that should never be the focus or aim.  All we do should be for the cause of Christ and for His Glory. I want to live my life to point others to Him and what He is doing in my life and the lives of my family.  I do know one thing – I do not want and ordinary life or ordinary marriage – I want to live beyond that.

Are you fulfilling the ministry of Christ?

 

What I’m Reading

I know I have been a little absent around here, but I hope to be more active in my writing and sharing what is going on in our lives.  I hope to share some of the weight loss journey that I have been on.  I also hope to have a few more readers.

My first post back will be about the books I have been reading this summer. Our family has been on sabbatical for the past 5 weeks (at least just us girls – hubby has been gone longer). I usually do not have too much time to read, but I went on our trip armed with many books (book form and Kindle) I wanted to read.  While I didn’t get all of the books I hoped to read, I did get quite a few of them checked off my list.

I thought I would share them with you. Here they are –

1. Divergent Series (Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant) – I started reading the books after I watched the first movie.  Enjoyable good summer read. I guess at some time I will get to Four.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird – With the new Harper Lee book coming out, I knew I wanted to read the original again to refresh my memory on who everyone was. Plus, it is a classic book.

3. Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis I had heard about this book, and who doesn’t love a good book about adoption and someone who chooses to commit her life to God.

3. To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite – I saw this come thru on Bookbub as a cheap book on Kindle. I have never seen the movie, but I was intrigued.  Very interesting book about race relations in England.

4. Beyond Ordinary:When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough – This book came thru on social media several months ago, and I bought it on Kindle to read.  I never got around to it till now. Reading it challenged me to want to take my marriage beyond the normal – I want an extraordinary marriage.

5. I Will Carry You by Angie Smith- I had ready Angie’s blog when she was going thru this, and I was excited to receive the book at the SBC convention.  Great book for dealing with the loss of an infant. I am also enjoying doing her Bible study – Seamless –  this summer as well

6. Fund Your Adoption – just planning ahead and thinking.

The rest of these books are books I have started, but not finished. I am hoping to get them done by the end of the month.

7. Organized Simplicity – This was a free kindle book – maybe one day I can incorporate it into our lives

8. Fringe Hours:Making Time for You by Jessica Turner – I am about half-way thru the book. It has really gotten me thinking about things and what is important to me.  All moms need to read this book!

9. Good News for Weary Women by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick – Hubby gave me this book. It is encouraging to keep going.

10. All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Hannah recommended this one. It is a little slow, but I plan to get back to it.

11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Classic if I can keep going.

I have several more that I did not get to start, but I plan to finish them by the end of the year.  Reading Fringe Hours(this book will need it’s own post) has helped me to realize that I need to make time for what I love. One of those is reading.  Enjoy my list and happy reading!

 

Our Homeschool Curriculum

Our family is entering its 10th year of homeschooling.  I can’t believe we are still doing this.  I never thought I would be a homeschool mom, but here I am and so thankful for this journey.  There are days I almost wanted to put them on the bus, but we have stayed the path God laid before us. Do we have the perfect homeschool? NO!  Are there days I want to throw in the towel? YES!  You know what – with God’s help and grace – we keep going! I have asked the girls if they wished we had put them in school, and the older two are glad they are homeschooled. The little one is happy to be learning at home too since she has to go to school for her ELL class. The school seemed to overwhelming for her.  Homeschooling is also great for families who adopt older children to allow them to work at their own speed.

Every year different moms ask what curriculum do I use? We are traditional homeschoolers meaning I am the primary teacher and choose my own curriculum. We have used so many different kinds over the years, and after trial and error we have zoned in to what works for us. Currently, I homeschool one girl in elementary, one in middle school, and one in high school. I try not to think too hard on that, or I may go a little crazy.  In the early years we used primarily Abeka. Abeka is what I actually used in elementary school, so I was familiar with it. I also liked that the language arts was phonics heavy. As the girls got older I started to branch out and see what was out there. Through the years I started pulling in Math-u-See, Bob Jones, Apologia, IEW, unit studies, and what ever worked. The girls have been in different co-ops that contributed to their learning.  I also found that being in a great homeschool group and going to homeschool conventions also helped me learn more of what was out there. I got more comfortable with my role as mom and teacher.

Several years ago we added to our family thru adoption. WOW! Did that upset the homeschooling apple cart? I was just going to use what worked for the other girls. Boy was I wrong. My new daughter was not like the other two and learned differently. I had to go out and learn about new curriculum and methods. I had to figure out how to fill in the holes that were missing from her early life. I also had to get some outside help.  We still struggle, but homeschooling has been the best option for the little one.

So, what do I use? Here is what we are currently using for each child:

  • Rae – Math-u-See, Spelling-u-See, Explode the Code, Unit Studies(she is a visual learning so we are working through different units to learn. A great resource for these – www.currclick.com.
  • Emily – Bob Jones World Studies(history), Math-U-See Pre-Algebra, Apologia Gen. Science(this is a great one to do with a co-op), Bob Jones Writing and Grammar, Bob Jones Literature, Shorter Catechism (hand writing), Wordly Wise (vocabulary). I am also sprinkling in reading books and using the Total Language Plus directed reading guides. I also hope to add in Grammar of Poetry by Roman Roads Media.
  • Hannah – AP English (thru local high school), Math-U-See Algebra 2, Apologia Biology (with co-op), History/Government is done with her dad. They usually read biographies of historical significance, but currently they are doing the Constitution 101 class from Hillsdale College online. Mandarin (online class thru BYU)

So, it is hard to pick one curriculum for us and just go with it. Early on it is trial and error, but I look at the scope and sequence of each one and how they approach learning the subject.  I do look for a more conservative curriculum that doesn’t seek to change history or ignore creation. You may see in my list that I do have favorites. Why did I choose them?

  • Math-U-See– It is sequential. My husband(the math man) approved it, and it explains math more than just memorizing facts.
  • Bob Jones History – It goes sequentially through history, and it also contains Biblical history, and it is also challenging with each year.
  • Spelling-U-See – It is the sister to MUS, and was recommended for the little by the Dr. Karen Holinga the reading doctor.
  • Apologia Science – It is based on creationism, and in the younger years we were able to do science together. I also finding it more challenging for the middle school and high school ages.
  • Wordly Wise – This is a great vocabulary builder. It has help my girls when it comes to hard words and doing well on achievement tests, and now the PSAT and ACT.

One funny thing about our school is that we have named it. Many families name their schools for different reasons. Our school is The Dear School for Girls. The girls have fun with it when telling their non-homeschool friends.