Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Mothering Truth

Mothering guilt.

All mothers have felt it.... at one time or another.

But if you are on social media, you probably don't see it from others...

I mean, we all have seen the wonderful Pinterest-inspired birthday parties, the beautiful family portraits, the happy children working on their schoolwork...

We all have done it. At least I have.

And to a certain degree, I think that's appropriate. Social media is NOT a place to air the dirty laundry of our family.

But we're missing something big here.

The truth.

The mothering truth....

I have been to the dentist 7 times in the past two months. The first two visits were dental checkups for the four children. The other 5 visits were dental work for these four children. Talk about guilt.... For different reasons, my children hadn't been to see a dentist in YEARS. I grew up going to the dentist every 6 months, so I KNOW what they're SUPPOSE to do. And it definitely wasn't that our children and their teeth lacked importance to us. It was just.... crazy. We moved. A lot. Things were always up in the air. And we just didn't get around to it. So fast-forward to a couple months ago and suddenly I had one child who had four cavities (and three teeth needing to be pulled unrelated to cavities), one child with two cavities, one child with one cavity, and one child who we almost missed our opportunity to fix some teeth (ortho) before they did damage to others! Yep, guilt.

But this post isn't just about dental visits- or the lack thereof... I'm happy to say that now my kids are all caught up- cavities have been filled and we are proceeding on the ortho work.

However, there's other truth that needs to be uncovered.

I don't usually read to my children each evening. I KNOW, I KNOW.... reading to your child is GOOD and you're SUPPOSE to do that. But.... I don't. Sure, if they bring me a book I'll read it, and we do some read alouds for school, but nope. We don't sit down and read together each evening.

We don't always have Bible time. Yep. Pastor's wife here.... Total honesty. Do we do it more often than not? YES!!! But some days.... despite my best laid plans.... the day just flies by and then everyone is in bed and I'm kicking myself for missing it.

My three oldest children are behind in math.... by quite a bit.

I sometimes lose my temper.... and find myself having to apologize.... yet again.

My house is never clean. Not really. And more often than not, my "style" of housekeeping is frustrating to my husband. Thankfully, he helps keep things in line, order, and uncluttered or the house would probably overtake everyone! What can I say? Keeping things neat and tidy has never been a strength of mine. Ask my parents!!!

Look.... I could go on and on, but the thing is... people sometimes look at me and think I have it all together. But I don't. Far, far from it!

Keep that in mind the next time you see a "perfectly" put together mama or read about a great homeschooling day! Changes are.... they are a lot like mine. Good days, but never perfect.

Here's to the truth!!! I may not have it all together, but God is gracious and loves me anyway. I count my blessings daily and pray for strength to conquer the rest of life!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Settling Into A Routine

August has been a month of getting settled.... We began our new school year on August 3rd and have (surprisingly) been enjoying it! It's shocking because for soooooo long we seemed to really struggle. Partly because I think I was expecting too much. The Lord has REALLY been working on me in the past year and I truly believe that has carried over into other areas of life- such as homeschooling.

 
Our 7th year of homeschooling has been like a breath of fresh air. I can't quite pinpoint the exact difference, maybe because the kids are older.... or maybe because we've found curriculum we REALLY like.... or maybe MY heart is different. Either way, I just can't get over how blessed I am.
 
Blessed.... to stay home with these beautiful masterpieces.
 
Blessed.... to be able to find curriculum we really, REALLY love....
 
Blessed.... to do MORE than just teach math, reading, or spelling, but to actually be able to build relationships with them, show them Christ all day every day....
 
I'm just..... blessed.
 
I don't care what school choice YOU have decided for YOUR family.... For me, though, being with my children daily is a blessing.
 
And honestly, it's pretty humbling.
 
It really isn't about them being able to read smoothly, do arithmetic, or memorizing Presidents. It isn't even the fact that I'm with them non-stop. Goodness, I don't even do that good of a job "sheltering" them or "protecting" them. Their feelings are still hurt by others.... and they still stumble (intentionally or not) upon things that the Devil uses to try to pull them to him. But to know that each day I GET to wake up to my 4 beautiful children.... to see God's masterpieces in action.... is sometimes more than I can handle. I don't deserve this beautiful life I have found myself living, but you can better believe I'm not taking it for granted.
 
Look at your children, give them hugs, pray for them, and most importantly, be there for them so they can see Jesus when they look at you.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Homeschool Year!

It's hard to believe that summer is winding down. We've stayed busy by attending three Vacation Bible Schools (one being our own that we were all heavily involved in and one being in a town two hours away!), swimming at the pool, mini vacay to the beach, hanging out with friends, late night movies, and more!
 
But I am SO ready for the consistency that fall/winter/spring brings and I'm ready to get back to teaching my kiddos! 
 
Hard to believe.... Faith is going into 6th, Isaiah is going into 2nd, Mistic is going into 7th, and Aspen is going into 5th! Where have my babies gone?
Homeschooling isn't always as glamorous as one portrays on social media or on a blog. We have had a LOT of stress over the years- a lot of moving- financial problems- and it seemed like our homeschool suffered too. No, my children are not where I would like them to be, BUT.... and here is a big BUT.... they do love the Lord, they know the Lord loves them, they know their daddy and I love them, and they love us. They know how to serve others, how to love others, and how to share that God loves them. At the end of the day, this is more important than memorizing any math fact.
 
BUT.... yes, another but, that is no excuse to just sit back and not be diligent. My kiddos are no longer in the early years of their formal education, so it is time to become more dedicated to our studies.
 
Our official first day is August 3th and here is what we plan on covering for the month of August!
 
We strive to have daily Bible time as a family. A time where we read from a devotional book (currently Jesus Calling) or verses from the Bible and then we typically join in a circle, hold hands, and pray. And yes, they are involved at church and attends Sunday School and the worship services. But my husband and I desire more Bible learning for them. This year we are adding a formal Bible lesson on Mondays that may be dragged out through the week if needed.
I am SO excited about this! It looks like it will be a great fit for us, but we happen to really like everything we've ever seen from Answers in Genesis. For the month of August, we will learn about Creation and Corruption (part of the 7 Cs of History). What grabbed my attention was the solid biblical approach, the printables for kids, and colored student handouts!
 
Character studies are CRUCIAL for my family! It is much easier to teach and direct when you have something to fall back on. Like teaching obedience- listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit the first time- and being instantly obedient to your parents. This month we will cover the characters boldness, gratitude, preparedness, and security! I am SO thankful for Rachael Carmen and her character quality lessons. They are FREE!!! We print them, color them, and hang them in our hallway to refer back.
 
For Math, we will be trying out Christian Light Education for the first time! There are 10 Light Units to a grade and from what I can tell each LU takes approx. 3 weeks to finish (at least what I'm seeing with math). The feeling of accomplishment will be wonderful when you are flying through a new LU. The lessons aren't overly long and the spiral approach will be a benefit to my kids. We struggle in math and some need to get caught up.
 
Handwriting comes in the form of copy work. Using quotes, Scripture, and more the kids can practice their penmanship while being fed mentally! I will be adding weekly journaling to the kid's schedule and will find writing prompts and copy work ideas from my Pinterest board!
 
I struggled a little bit pinpointing the exact Science we would use. I knew I wanted an anatomy focus, but just wasn't sure from where!
 
We've enjoyed two other Exploring Creation books (Astronomy and Zoology 2), so I decided to stick with Apologia. Between it and my Pinterest board I can guarantee the kids and I will have fun learning!!!
 
And now for my favorite, Reading. We don't use a reading curriculum beyond the learning to read stage. Isaiah and I will continue to work through our Pathway reader curriculum!
 
Learning through Sounds contains the perfect length of lessons for my boy! We will enjoy learning to read some of the Pathway readers and yes, even BOB Books! I keep it simple with him since he has only recently started showing interest in learning to read.
 
 
For the girls, I will try to keep them rotating between biographies, history (or even historical fiction), science/nature, classic literature, and fun books!

For August, Mistic (who has expressed an interest in learning more about WW1) will read A Cup of Cold Water: The Compassion of Nurse Edith Cavell  by Christine Farenhorst. Faith will read Who was Helen Keller? by Gare Thompson and Aspen will read Who is Jane Goodall? by Roberta Edwards.
 
I plan on doing family read alouds as well.
 
 
 Short stories that can be read one or more at a time seems to be the perfect way to get some History in. We will do a heavier concentration on History, though, when we get through Science.
 

And that's where we are starting at! What about Grammar/Language Arts and Spelling? Well, some of that comes through every day life, reading, and even copywork. A more formal approach will be added in the future though, after we get a good rhythm going and am more caught up in Math. Beauty of homeschooling. 100% customizable!
 
What are you using this year?
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Clean Your Bathrooms Naturally


This is all I use to clean my bathrooms. 

Baking soda. 
White vinegar. 
Homemade cleaning spray. 

No harmful chemicals.
No toxic fumes. 

Safe.
Natural.

I sprinkle baking soda in my tubs and toilets, then I use my brush to scrub. The baking soda is a natural abrasive. I rinse with the vinegar before rinsing with water or flushing. The kids are always impressed with the baking soda/vinegar reaction. 

My homemade cleaning spray is amazing. I do clean my mirrors with it, though you don't have to. It disinfects and cleans thanks to my essential oils. It's an easy recipe to make and works in the bathroom as well as the kitchen!

You'll need a spray bottle with 1 teaspoon borax, 1/2 teaspoon washing soda (NOT baking soda), 1 teaspoon liquid castille soap, 2 cups warm water, and essential oils of choice. This last batch I did with DoTerra's On Guard. But you could use lavender, peppermint, clove, lemon, or more! I just mix it all together and get to cleaning!

And just like that... My bathrooms are clean and I can resume other, more fun things!

What do you use to clean your bathrooms?




Friday, July 10, 2015

Ladies, How Intimate Are You?

I'm not talking about being intimate with a guy.... a boyfriend or husband. I'm talking about how intimate are you with the One who created you as His masterpiece.
I'll be the first to admit. I haven't always done so well with having an intimate, two way relationship with my Creator. And it has shown. It shows up in the way I handle situations, react to my family, and even in my physical appearance.
Lately, though, the conviction has been deep and I have been listening. I am in the midst of fighting for my family (against spiritual attacks from the Devil), but I had no idea what all areas that would apply. Apparently, my spiritual walk was one area I needed to fight harder for.
God has heard my cries, though, and He is revealing Himself to me like never before. It is exciting! And scary! Mind blowing! And daunting! Exciting and mind blowing because I'm seeing Him in a different light, scary and daunting because of some of the things He is laying on my heart to do. Stepping up and stepping out of my comfort zone big time! Willing to do things that nobody else seems to be.
Part of that burden is for women and their walk with God. I'm burdened because I have been there. Often. A Christian. A pastor's wife. A homeschooling mama. A woman. I would pray. I would read a verse or two out of Scriptures- if I had time. I would lay in bed each night and vow to do better tomorrow. I would start a devotional book- with good intentions- but seldom finished them. I was a very content Christian. To do the bare basics. To just get by. Nobody would know.
But I knew....
I knew my walk with God wasn't what it was suppose to be. It lacked a deep intimacy, one that would allow me to go beyond survival and into thriving in my Maker!
Ladies, I have some questions for you. How intimate are you with God? Do you do the bare minimum? Are you content to just pray, if that? How much time goes by before you open His Word and spend serious time in prayer with Him? Do you find yourself praying the same thing over and over again- out of habit? When was the last time you felt like something new had been revealed to you during your quiet time with Him? When was the last time you had one on one time with the Lord? How close are you to Him?
This isn't meant to make you feel bad if your walk with God is less than desirable... but instead to let you know that you aren't alone and that it isn't too late to fight for your spiritual intimacy! God isn't through with you! This is worth fighting for! Don't let the devil win... pick up that devotional book and commit to your daily study, prayer daily- but not just out of memory- pray like you are talking to your Best Friend- because you are. Dive deep... and deeper... don't be afraid of what He might reveal.
And if you are struggling, find an accountability partner. Ask your pastor's wife or other godly Christian woman to help hold you accountable to your daily (yes, daily!) time! Ask your pastor to point you in the direction of a good accountability partner- or ask on Facebook. There are women looking to help encourage other women- I am one of them.
Are you working on an intimate relationship with God? What does your current daily study time look like? Are you struggling? Leave me a comment and I will pray for you!

Linked up with Raising Homemakers, Arabah Joy, The Life Of This MotherLife Of FaithThe Modest Mom BlogRaising Samuels Homeschool

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mothering Masterpieces

I changed the name of my blog.
 
Not for the first time.
 
When I began this blog waaaaaaay back in 2008, my focus was just to be able to keep friends and family up to date on what was happening. I think my name was something like HomeschoolingMamax4 or something similar.
 
Then, I changed it to Slowly Natural and it stayed that way for a very long time. While I do like a heavier emphasis on natural than some around me, that isn't the focal point anymore. And at times, I'm anything BUT natural! (Hey! I'm a work in progress!)
 
My Facebook page is Journey To Thrive because I've realized that most people JUST survive... but that isn't what we were created for. No! We were created to thrive in Jesus Christ! So on my page I post things about me. A homeschooling, fitness minded pastor's wife who is on a journey to live life at it's fullest while homemaking, being used by God, and growing in Him.
 
But the blog still had Slowly Natural in the web address and I desired something that reflected my heart now. Not then.
 
Insert Mothering Masterpieces....
I, personally, love it! And since it's my blog that's really all that matters! HA! But seriously.... Stop and think about it... We are God's masterpiece. Right? He created us new in Christ Jesus... so we can do the good things He planned for us. Right? RIGHT!!! And if we have children then we are ALL parenting masterpieces!
 
MAN! Totally changes the outlook, doesn't it? I am mom to 4 amazing created in Christ Jesus' image. I am mom to 4 beautiful masterpieces...
 
So I can keep my blog- and all it's history... and my blog lines up with my Facebook page.
 
But now I have an appropriate name.
 
Mothering Masterpieces. What an honor it is, too!
 
 


Stepping Up.... and Stepping Out

Ever feel like God is just really working on you? To the point where you can actually feel it? The gentle pressing of the Holy Spirit as you grow and change... as you open your eyes and heart like never before?
 
Looking back over the last 5 years I can see God's hand at work. In the last 6 months or so, however, I am seeing that God is (and has been) building up something huge in me... and my family. It's scary! And exciting! The gentle pressure to do more... to be more... to serve more is becoming heavier.
 
God doesn't want me content, He wants me to step up and step out.... and that's what I'm working on doing. Daily Bible time and daily workouts must become non-negotiable. My spiritual fitness as well as my personal fitness must grow so that I can be used to my full potential. I must be spiritually as well as physically fit so God can use me.
 
I must lead others. My children. My children are depending on me. To set the example that they need. It involves spending time with them. One on one. Daily. Even if it's just a simple hug. Sometimes it may be a chat on their bed before sleep! I try to take a couple of my kiddos out- one on one- a month. Just because. Just to be available to them.
 
I must lead others. Starting a ladies' Bible study this fall because it is time. It doesn't matter if there is just one other lady or fifty. It's time and I must heed the call.
 
I must lead others through being an example daily. The way I live my life, the choices I make, and the things I do are being watched. By people I know and people I don't. It is time to step it up and step it out in how I live. It doesn't have to be extreme, but it may be.... especially in this day and age.
 
Family and marriages are suffering- big time. Everywhere I look I see couples divorcing, both church goers and non-church goers. I see families hurting. Broken. Torn. God is leading the hubby and I to step up and do something about it.  
 
No..... Now isn't about living in our comfy bubble, but stepping out into the unknown and getting totally uncomfortable with life. God wants us to spend... and be spent. My husband said it best when he was preaching last Sunday. He was talking about tithing, but it is applicable to all of life. He said that the question shouldn't be how much do we need to give God but rather how much do we dare spend on us and our comforts? Think about it.... I was taught that we should give 10% and like many if I gave that 10% I felt like I had done what I was suppose to. What I didn't realize is that the 90% I kept was selfish. There are starving people, lost souls dying and going to hell, orphans, sex trafficking, and more going on all around us..... and we (Christians) are (usually) content to JUST give our tithe and expect the rest to just work itself out.....
 
But that's a LIE! I cannot do what God wants, if I am content to lead a comfy life. I cannot do what God commands, if all I want to do is the bare basics.
 
I'm so excited (and very nervous) about what God has in store.... I am ready to be used... to be broken... to be spent....
 
How is God using you?
 
 

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