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Friday, December 20, 2019

Never Once Did We Ever Walk Alone

When I finished writing my previous post about God proving Himself faithful yet again by providing community for us here in Louisville, I mentioned that God was doing something new and exciting in our family! I'm finally back to share a little bit about this new direction that God is leading our family in! 

To recap, we moved to Louisville in the fall of 2018 during a chaotic and difficult year for our whole extended family. The move was very difficult, every edge was rubbed raw, and we had to wait and watch God heal our hearts. In the midst of this hurting and healing, we found out in March of 2019 that Joel's LifeWay store here in Louisville would be closing, along with the rest of the chain. Around this time, we were contacted by a church in New York that we had attended when we lived in the area previously, and we were asked if we knew of anyone who was looking for a pastoral position, as they were looking for a pastor. We told them no, but that we would keep them in mind, and went on our way.

A few weeks later, Joel received a call in which someone from the search committee let him know that his name had been mentioned as a possible candidate for the pastoral position. He was asked, "Would you please pray about this position, and let us know?" His response was, "I'm not going to say no to praying about it, but I can already pretty much tell you what the answer's going to be." So we prayed. For two weeks, we prayed about Panama Baptist Church and whether God wanted us to go through the application process. By the end of those two weeks, Joel and I had each individually come to the conclusion that it would be disobedient not to agree to proceed down this path of interviewing and moving forward in the process.

Over the next few weeks, Joel had some interviews, and it came to the point that the search committee had narrowed down their search to Joel and one other person who we knew personally. We thought this other person would be a perfect fit, and maybe we should just bow out and let them have the position, and maybe this isn't going to be what God has for us after all. However, unbeknownst to us, this other man was asking God to provide him with a position where he could be a part of a team of pastors rather than the solo pastor at a church. The next thing we knew, the search committee was asking Joel if he would consider working together to be co-pastors with Andy Cook! Joel and Andy had several meetings to discern whether this would be a good fit, we all did lots of praying, they met with the search committee, discussed many details, and both Joel and Andy were asked to come and candidate at Panama in August!

At this point, I should mention that, though I could see how God was working and was amazed at how He was knitting all of the details together, I had some serious hesitations and fears about moving back to New York. It snows there, y'all. It snows a lot there, and I hate driving in snow. We lived there for nine years and I have driven in snow, but during my last few months in NY, I had a couple of very scary snow-driving experiences that have caused me to be anxious about driving in snow again, especially after several years of being out of practice- and I so enjoyed the snow-free climate of Georgia! In fact, I may have been overheard saying things like, "I'll never move back to snow country again!!" (Don't ever say things like that or God might just test you on it!) New York's homeschooling laws are much more stringent than Georgia's or Kentucky's have been, so that would also take some learning and getting used to.

While waiting for our candidating Sunday to arrive, I watched the announcement that was given before the church, outlining the fact that Joel and Andy were the candidates and that God was providing two men to serve as pastors at the church. Hearing the excitement in these church leaders' voices as they talked about God working a master plan behind the scenes of a tough, pastor-less time for this church got me excited and I was awed to think that our family could be a part of God's provision for Panama Baptist Church! Another thing that really excited me was hearing story after story of church members stepping up, leading ministries, reaching their communities for Christ and serving others well, even during the months that they have been without pastoral leadership. This showed me that the members at Panama aren't just there to be consumers, but really to actively be the body of Christ!

In August, our family headed up to New York, enjoyed a couple of family days with Joel's parents (who live about an hour and a half from Panama), and then drove over to attend a fun picnic, stay overnight with friends, and attend (me and the kids)/speak (Joel) at church the next morning! It was great to see old friends, meet new friends, and see how God has been growing this church in the years since we attended there! The kids swept right up with old and new friends and all had a great weekend there!

Here is a video of our August candidating service. Joel preached that morning on Daniel chapter 3. He spoke about things he has learned over these last years of watching God work in ways that are sometimes very hard and painful, but God IS still good, through it all. In talking about how God chose to miraculously rescue Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Joel says, "What if there is no verse 24? Some of you have been through things where you didn't have a verse 24 in your story. If we had the time, you could come down here. We could put a microphone right down front, and you could share the trials that you had been through, and there would be times that you would say, "I knew that God would rescue me, and He did." There would be others of you that would stand down here and say, "I thought God would rescue me. I knew that He could, but He didn't," not in the earthly sense ... Could you say, "Even if God doesn't rescue me, He is still good?"" Joel goes on to Hebrews 6:13-20 to talk about the Cross being our anchor of HOPE in this broken world.

To hear my husband stand in front of that church and share the words that had been laid on his heart, the lessons that that have not just been intellectually stamped into our minds, but painfully seared onto our hearts through months of struggle, and to hear God using those words to teach and encourage others was very powerful to me. As soon as he finished and stepped down into the pew in front of me, the closing song began. The song was "Never Once Did We Ever Walk Alone" by Matt Redman.

"Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say,
Never once did we ever walk alone.
Carried by Your constant grace,
Held within Your perfect peace,
Never once, no, we never walked alone.

Never once did we ever walk alone.
Never once did You leave us on our own.
You are faithful. God, You are faithful.

Every step, we are breathing in Your grace.
Evermore, we'll be breathing out Your praise.
You are faithful. God, You are faithful." 

I began sobbing, internalizing the deep truth of the words that my husband had spoken, the HOPE in Christ that is our only anchor through the painful, sorrowful times of grief and loss and also our anchor through times of chaos and confusion, when we are wondering what God is doing. Wondering why He would tear us away from our incredible Georgia community to bring us to Louisville just to lead us away again. Yet through each of these circumstances, never once did we ever walk alone, and He is faithful. 

After the service, we enjoyed a wonderful church dinner, the guys answered questions (and Mara and I answered a couple, too), and ultimately the church asked both Joel and Andy to come and be the pastors at Panama Baptist Church in Panama, NY! We are planning to move to New York in the end of December (awesome timing to move to snow country, I know!) and Joel will start in January! God has provided a house for our family in Jamestown, NY, and He has worked through each of those details in His perfect timing so far! 

Through the last weeks of co-op and church and packing up and having last playdates with friends in Louisville, there have been sad, hard moments. We will all miss the friends that God has given us here, even in just this one year! We have reminded the kids of this truth often- that God is still faithful, and He will provide friends for us in New York, just as He provided them here. Though we are sad to leave this beautiful city that has brought us so much joy and so many fun opportunities, we know God is also bringing us TO a wonderful community in Panama and this is another exciting opportunity to lead our kids in trusting Him to provide for all of our needs as we follow Him!

What stage of the ebb and flow of life are you in right now, friend? Are you on a mountaintop, looking back and so clearly able to see each spot where God has provided, then looking forward to the future with joy and HOPE that comes easily, rooted in Christ, ready for whatever He may send your way? Or are you in an uncertain, difficult place where it's hard to understand why God is allowing you to experience this time of grief, loss, and heartbreak- is it hard to see any clear path forward? Is just putting one foot in front of the other each day difficult, let alone any deep feeling of joy or hope? I can't promise you that life will be easy, but what God does promise us is that we will NEVER walk alone. We have this HOPE- Jesus Christ sacrificing Himself in our place- as an anchor for our souls in the storms of our lives, and I would love to have the privilege to pray for you each as you cling desperately onto that HOPE in the midst of your storm. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Do It Again

"Walking around these walls, I thought by now they'd fall, but You have never failed me yet. Waiting for change to come, knowing the battle's won, for You have never failed me yet. Your promise still stands. Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness. I'm still in Your hands. This is my confidence, You've never failed me yet. I know the night won't last. Your Word will come to pass. My heart will sing Your praise again. Jesus, You're still enough. Keep me within Your love. My heart will sing Your praise again."

Over a year ago, my mother-in-law lay in a coma in a hospital bed in Buffalo, New York. The day before Mother's Day 2018, my husband and his brothers flew to be with her for Mother's Day. I spent the weekend with my kids and my New City Macon church family, bawling my eyes out, being held and prayed with, supported and loved on as I grieved and waited on God. The rest of May brought more waiting on God, more trusting, more grieving and more suffering for our Hart family as my sister-in-law was rushed to the hospital and had to have emergency surgery after her second loss of a child in 16 months. June 2018 was a frenzied month, with Joel traveling back and forth to see his mom and help his dad as often as he could, packing all our belongings in boxes to move one neighborhood over in an effort to reach some financial goals, and a trip to Baltimore to stay with sister-in-law Emily while she recovered and experienced still another setback with an injury that had happened during her surgery.

With many of our things still yet unpacked in our new little house, we began to receive an inkling that God, through a LifeWay opportunity, could be moving us away from Macon in the future. My immediate reaction, as usual, was "Nope. No way. Let's not even bring this up right now. I can't even think about it." Throughout July, I unpacked in a hurry, enjoyed summer fun with the kids, we vacationed with friends, and we ended the month with a trip to NY to see Joel's parents. While we were there, Joel's mom had to go into the hospital in Olean, and we were able to spend the week supporting her and Joel's dad while the older two kids went to Bethany Camp.

August 2018 brought a diagnosis that we were all hoping we would not hear. Joel's mom was finally able to be transferred to Cleveland Clinic, where we learned that she had ALS. Although it was heart-crushing to find out this news, the diagnosis enabled her to finally receive the support and home medical equipment she needed in order to leave the hospital. I started another year of homeschool with the kids, and signed up for a fall semester of co-op. Just a couple of weeks later, Joel was promoted to manage the Louisville, KY LifeWay store, starting on September 1st. We made a quick trip to Louisville to find a house to rent (God provided such a perfect one on the first day of hunting!) Joel packed up a few things and drove to Louisville on September 4th, the day after my birthday, to start at his new store.

During this tumultuous summer, I spent a lot of time crying out to God. For those of you who are moms, you know how hard it is to find time and space to be alone, needing time to grieve and pray and process without scaring or upsetting the kids. Don't get me wrong, it's okay to cry in front of your kids and they have seen me cry many, many times over these months, but sometimes, you just need to lose it all by yourself. The master bathroom of that little house that we lived in for only three months was my place to lose it. The day we heard of Mom Hart's diagnosis, I sobbed on the edge of the bathtub. When I took my morning shower, I would listen to music, and my favorite song that God gave me during this time was Do It Again, by Elevation Worship. So many days, I said to God, "God, if You want to move us to Louisville, You're going to have to do it. I don't want this. I have not one ounce of excitement or joy to give to this move, so if You want us there, if You truly want us to do this again, You will have to change me and make me willing."

"I've seen You move, You move the mountains And I believe, I'll see You do it again You made a way, where there was no way And I believe, I'll see You do it again."

Through the month of September, the boys and I (and Joel!) battled through a week-long bout with food poisoning, then a difficult month of separation, with the kids and I finishing out our responsibilities at church and enjoying a few weeks of our Georgia co-op, and Joel getting settled into his role in the Louisville store. October brought a few days away as a family and then our move, with the craziness of unpacking and learning the area, finding new doctors and dentists, changing our address on everything, and beginning to visit churches in the area.

Finding a church here in Louisville was an extremely emotional and difficult process for me. Our New City Church in Macon had been such a place of growth and support for us, learning what the Gospel really means and what it looks like in practical application in community. I wanted my old church (or one exactly like it) here. One Saturday night, I cried until I finally fell asleep, filled with anxiety and sadness that centered around visiting a new church. When that next morning came, I cried for hours, and I could not stop. I had to stay home and cry. Joel took the kids to church, and I spent time crying and praying and searching God's Word that day, and God helped me.

In January, we started attending a homeschool co-op in the area and also attending some homeschooling/unschooling meetups with a very supportive and welcoming group of people. God began to give us community through these groups. We found a 'Bible Fellowship Group' at Ninth and O Baptist Church and we began to have a community surrounding us there. We are really enjoying this city that has so much to offer, and we are thankful for the friends that God has already given us here.

Slowly, God began to heal my heart. During the months of February and March, there were days here and there that I didn't cry. I began to feel real joy and to laugh more with my family. I began to realize that God is doing it! He is doing it again! He is opening my heart to love Louisville. Joel's mom was able to write an update and a powerful testimony to God's faithfulness to her in the last year as well, and you can read it here. My sister-in-law has a blog where she shares deeply and personally what God is doing in her life and heart, and you can read it here.

In March of this year, we found out that LifeWay will be closing all of their stores by the end of 2019. Joel's time with the company will be coming to an end. So many of our friends checked on us as soon as they heard the news. We are so thankful for all of the support and love and help that all have shown us, especially in the middle of what has been an extremely tough year for our family. Of course we have all wondered, "God, why would You do this? Why now? Why allow us to move to Louisville just to take away the job we moved here for?" We might never know the answer to that question, but of course we trust that God knows, better than we do, what we really need. Maybe we just needed to know, one more time, that He is able, and He really will be faithful to do it again (again).

Is there an area in your life where you are waiting on God to show up and faithfully 'do it again'? Please leave a comment or send me a message - I would love to know how to pray for you!

"Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." -Isaiah 43:19 CSB

****This post has been in the works for months, and I am just now finally posting it. God is, in fact, doing something new, exciting, and scary in our family! Stay tuned for my next post, detailing what God is doing now!****

Monday, February 26, 2018

Homeschool Day in the Life: Carrie's Day with a 10, 8, and 6 year old!

It's that time of year again - time for the Homeschool Day in the Life Series over at Simple Homeschool! I LOVE hearing about how other homeschooling families do life and learning! So today, I'll link up and share what we do on a 'typical' day of homeschool! We school five days a week, taking off whatever day of the week my husband is off of work, which is often Thursday or Friday instead of Saturday. In the 18 weeks of the year when our homeschool co-op (which all four of us LOVE and look forward to) meets on Tuesday, we also set aside our curriculum on that day. Instead, our 3 hours of co-op classes and one hour for a library trip are our school that day.

On a typical day of homeschool, the kids usually wake up between 6:00 and 6:45 and play upstairs until 7:00. I get up and take a shower between 6:30 and 6:50, and read or listen to my daily Bible reading through CBR, which is an app our church uses to read and discuss the Word together!

At 7:00, the kids come downstairs and we gather on my bed to do our morning Bible study together. Natalie and David are working on their Word of Life Quiet Time Diaries, and Zachary reads his Sports Devotional. Then we pray together, using the PrayerMate app for our regular prayer lists (family, friends, neighbors, etc) and the Echo Prayer app for recent needs from family and church friends. A friend of mine recently suggested using the ACTS method of prayer, and this has really connected with Zachary (10).

At 7:30, it's cleaning time! We listen to some music on YouTube on the TV (like TobyMac, Aaron Cole, Vexento, The Fat Rat, or Parry Gripp songs) while the kids clean up the toys, books, shoes and laundry that's been left around the house over the last 24 hours. I start the day's laundry, pick up downstairs and start breakfast while the kids clean.

By 8:15 or so, Zachary's usually ready to start his computer school. He uses the 5th grade Easy Peasy curriculum, except for the Reading/Literature portion. For that, I just make sure he's reading quality chapter books on a regular basis - he is a voracious reader and always aces any vocab, comprehension, or spelling I throw at him, so I don't worry too much about that part of his schoolwork. He is using the M (middle school) level of history and science (Year 3) on EP this year, so he is also doing most of those activities independently. Sometimes he likes help with his math (which is mostly through Khan Academy), if it's a difficult or new concept, so I sit with him and help him through those questions, but otherwise, he is very independent with his work.

He is learning Japanese and Russian, using the Duolingo website, also. He is using a new website called Habitica to keep track of his daily to-do's - it has some improvements over Wunderlist, which we were previously using (for example, there is a whole section of daily to-do's that you don't have to remember to re-add every day), but it can also be distracting to him, since it has some pretty fun features as well. When he finishes his work (usually later in the morning), he enjoys making animation projects on Scratch as well.

Zachary working on his Japanese Duolingo

Doing schoolwork in a Ninja Turtle mask - why not? 
Breakfast is around 8:45 or 9:00, usually. We eat at the table together, and go over our Charlotte Mason memory verse box. Here are the verses we are working on memorizing right now!

After breakfast, we do chores. Here is our current chore chart, which we rarely stick to, depending what else we have going on, but it does help me out to have some more things assigned to the kids.

David rinsing the dishes

After our breakfast chores, David (1st grade) and I sit down on the couch to read together. He reads to me first - he has finished this set of A Beka readers this year, and is now working through an A Beka Aesop's Fables book. Sometimes we take a break from these to have him read some kind of leveled Easy Reader from the library or our own collection. Then he picks out two or three books for me to read to him. This is such a special, cozy time together. Sometimes Natalie (2nd grade) still joins us, too!

Next, I typically teach David his 1st grade Easy Peasy online work (again, minus the reading, which is too advanced for his current reading level). He is also using 1st grade level Handwriting Without Tears to master printing. He loves to play math or strategy games on ABCya when he has finished his work. Usually everyone takes an outside break after this, and I finish up cleaning the kitchen.

David doing computer work

David doing his handwriting
Playing an online game with Zachary's help

Later in the morning, David and Natalie and I gather on the couch to snuggle and study our EP Year 3 Level L Bible, social studies, science and specials work! We read the day's Bible passage together. We're studying geography this year, so we've been playing a lot of geography games (Seterra and Sheppard's Software are my favorites) to learn where the countries of the world are located! We studied Europe, Africa, Oceania, the Middle East, and now we're in Asia! For science, we are studying earth science, weather, and space this year! We just finished up weather. The best website we have used this year for earth science is this one from Illinois Extension - it reads the info aloud so the kids can hear a different voice than mine (for once, lol!) and has interactive videos on almost every page. Here is another excellent site done by the Illinois Extension about weather.

A recent craft of the Taj Mahal

We have done art projects that coincide with the parts of the world we're learning about - here's Natalie's indigenous Australian playing a flute, which she painted during our Australia unit! Side note: studying geography this year has given me lots of opportunities to talk about the beautiful diversity that God planned for our world. It has been really important to me to share with them about the indigenous people groups on each continent, and their cultures and history before (and after) white colonization.

The kids have also been LOVING this Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra game they've been playing throughout the year for music - they ask every school day, "Do we have music today??" :)

The kids usually play outside while I make lunch, and we eat around 1:00. After lunch, we finish up chores and schoolwork. Natalie is using A Beka for her 2nd grade math and phonics, so she works on those pages (mostly independently) during quiet time. I monitor her reading in a similar way to Zachary's, and she reads several short chapter books per week. She is really loving Junie B. Jones books and A to Z Mysteries lately! I also have her do some kind of journaling or creative writing twice a week. Here she is doing her book work outside on a nice day recently.

When Natalie finishes her work, she likes to do crafts or play with her Calico Critters or Shopkins. David loves to play with cars or 'guys' or Legos, or just swing on the swingset - here he is in a blanket on a cold morning on our new swing!

The kids have some independent play/rest time while I transcribe from home on until 4:00, which has lately come to be known as Neighbor Kid Time! :) All the neighbor kids get out of school and come to play on our trampoline, ride bikes/scooters/hover boards, play with Beyblades and Nerf guns and hang out! I supervise while making dinner, cleaning up, or finishing up my Rev job.

David is Ironman, playing superheroes with two neighbors!

Beyblade battle!

My husband gets home around 5:30, and we chat while I cook, and then call the kids in around 6:00 for dinner. We finish up the day with jammies and these family devotions around 7:00 and then the kids are usually off bed by 8:00, so we can get up and do it again the next morning! :) After they are in bed, I finish up any Rev work I have left, hang out with my husband, fold laundry. Before I go to bed, I just click to open up the tabs for the next day's schoolwork and populate Zachary's Habitica list! So that's a day in my life!! Here is the link to my last year's Day in the Life post- so fun to look back and see what has changed

2017: My Day With a 9-, 7-, and 5-year-old. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

When Is a Statue a Gospel Problem?

After the horrific violence and hatred that was displayed in Charlottesville, Virginia last week, I was originally encouraged to see many of my Facebook friends denouncing white supremacy, as all of us should, especially those of us who hold to a Christian worldview. However, with their next breath, many of these same people began to post rhetoric about how Confederate statues should continue to stand in public spaces in the interest of 'preserving history'. This viewpoint is problematic and hurtful to many in our country, especially many people of color. To begin, I want to share some words from a wise Christian woman that articulate perfectly my thoughts on keeping Confederate statues in public places:

T. R. writes: "It is extremely important to remember our collective past. But let's be honest. We erect statues as a form of veneration. There are certain historical figures, events and epochs that should not be venerated or celebrated though they SHOULD be remembered so that we never repeat them. We should remember through discussing, informing and educating. But we should not maintain statues to them. We give honor when we erect statues. That is their purpose.

Saying that Robert E. Lee had many good, redeeming qualities such as being a solid Christian (which, honestly, should have been enough to encourage him to resist, not violently uphold the institution of slavery) is not reason enough to maintain a statue in his honor. In Emancipation Square no less. Do we not see the horrible irony in this? I can never hold this man up as an example to my children of a great Christian. He behaved in a patently unChristian manner through his fight to maintain a system that enforced the brutal subjugation of others. When my Christian peers advocate so strongly for this it hurts my heart."

Keeping this viewpoint and the reminder of my friends' and neighbors' pain at the forefront of my mind, I have been thinking and praying about what my response should be to this subject. As I prayed, my mind was drawn to the thought, "What is my purpose in this life? Why was I created by God? Why was I called by Him and gifted this incredible grace for salvation? What is my purpose as it relates to statues, politics, and racial reconciliation?" Jesus answered this question in Matthew 28:19, when he tells Christ-followers that our purpose is to "Go and make disciples of all nations." It's all about helping human beings see that they have a need to be reconciled to God, and He desires to draw us all to Himself. Sharing the Gospel with my words and with my actions, THAT is my purpose. THAT is the reason for my existence. 

In light of that purpose and calling in Christ, how should I feel about a Confederate statue? As Tanya stated, her heart (and many other hearts in our country today) are being broken over and over while Christians choose to place more value on statues than on the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. How would this represent Christ to my unsaved neighbor of color if I were to advocate for a statue of a Confederate leader who wanted their ancestors to remain enslaved? Would my neighbor then be willing to listen to me, in the next breath, tell them how much Jesus loves and values them? Could this be a stumbling block to my neighbor coming to salvation? If a statue is standing in the way of my neighbor hearing the Gospel that I'm speaking about Jesus, there is no other option than to tear the statue down! 

One more thought - If a statue, which is not eternal, has become more important to me than the eternal lives of the human beings around me, if I am finding myself more passionate about advocating for a statue than I am in advocating for human lives, then that statue has become an idol in my life. Lord, let me be willing to tear down every idol in my heart, to be willing to tear down a thousand statues in order to reach my neighbors, who are made in Your image, with the Good News that Your Son died for them because their lives matter infinitely to You! 

--1 Corinthians 9:19-23--

Monday, March 6, 2017

Homeschool Day In the Life: Carrie's Day with a 9, 7, and 5-year-old!

These Day in the Life posts from Jamie over at Simple Homeschool have been my FAVORITE thing since I discovered them!! A few years ago, I had just a couple of friends who homeschooled. They were amazing and so on top of everything with their kids! When I couldn't keep up or didn't feel like what they were doing was working for my family, I felt like I was failing or falling behind. After meeting many more homeschooling families in the last few years, I am learning that every family's unique situation, homeschooling goals, every parent/teacher, every student/child, their ages and personalities, are SO different and require different scheduling, focus, curriculum and instructional approaches to lead to meaningful learning! These posts have been so encouraging along that vein - every family homeschools SO differently and that's okay!

So I decided to write my own post about how we do homeschool! This is patterned after an imaginary 'normal' day, in which my husband works a normal (opening) shift and we do not have to run any errands or be anywhere at any certain time. Guess how many days a week this routine actually happens in this way? :) Well, Monday is grocery shopping and library day. Tuesday we have a really great co-op that we all love in the afternoon, so we just try to get phonics and math in before we leave for that. Wednesday, we have church small group in the evening but usually nothing in the day. Thursday and Friday, my husband usually has one day off (which we use as our Saturday/family day with no school, no matter what day of the week it is) and the other day, he usually closes, which means he's home in the morning and gone in the evening. Saturday, we do school, but there's often something going on that we work around!

So, on this 'typical' day, I usually get up between 6:15 and 6:30...worst case, 6:45 to get a shower in before the kids are allowed to come downstairs at 7:00. They usually wake up around 6:30, and they're allowed to go to the 'Kid Zone' they created in the bonus (toy) room upstairs and hang out together at 6:40.

At 7:00, we gather in my room or on the couch for Bible time - Natalie and David are doing Quiet Time Diaries from Word of Life, and Zachary reads a daily devotional in his Sports Devotional. Then we pray together - we've recently started using the PrayerMate app - any time we hear of a prayer request, we enter it into the list to be prayed for, along with all of our family, friends, neighbors, church, government, etc. The app divides it up into a manageable amount per day for us, and it's been a good tool to help us in our prayer time!

We finish prayer around 7:30, and now it's cleaning time! We turn on some fun music (VeggieTales channel on Pandora has been making our mornings lately, or possibly Lecrae or TobyMac), and the kids go to work cleaning the area they spent the afternoon quiet time in the day before. I work on laundry or other cleaning around the house until 8:00, when I start to get breakfast together, and Zachary (9) starts working independently on his Easy Peasy math and reading at the laptop at the kitchen table.

When Natalie and David finish their cleaning, they play inside or outside or help me get breakfast together. Today, Natalie wants to read a book, so David 'helps' me in the kitchen, which means we have to clean up some spilled cereal, but he's so proud that he poured it into the bowls all by himself...

We eat breakfast together around 8:30 and during breakfast, I review my Beth Moore SSMT verses (Natalie especially has been loving helping me with these this year!)

Then the kids and I review our Charlotte Mason verse box - any time we memorize verses, we stick them in this box and then review them by day of the week and month! Pictured are the two we're working on now!

When we finish, Zachary goes back to his computer work. One thing he has been loving in his curriculum this year is the Scratch website where he learns to code and animate projects and interacts with other kids who are also coding or learning to code! Here are a couple of cool projects he has made lately: Peanut Butter Jelly Time and Save Pico Game.

Natalie and David start their chores for the day, and I clean the kitchen and help them/encourage them to start their chores.

When they finish, they decide to play a card game in the living room. You can tell they also have some kind of play food store or lunch counter set up on the couch behind them. 

Around 9:30, Zachary gets up to do his chores and Natalie (7) sits down at the computer to start her online first grade Easy Peasy math and reading work. She is reading well now, but she still often likes to have me look over her shoulder for math, spelling, and grammar and to help with game instructions. David usually plays outside or upstairs during this time. The weather is nice today, so he heads out to swing in the back yard. We do pretty well sticking to our schedule up until this point in the day, but after this is where what comes next is anybody's guess!

Sometime between 10:00 and 11:00, David (5) does his online Easy Peasy kindergarten with my help.

He's also doing Handwriting Without Tears and a dollar store '1st grade' math workbook.

We also read library books aloud, and there is an online logic game at called Wheely that David loooooves to play when he's finished all his work!

If I can, I like to finish cleaning the kitchen during this hour, too, and I try to give them a short outside recess before we come together at 11:00 for Bible, social studies, science, and other special subjects like art and music.

At 11:00, the kids grab a snack and I grab my coffee and we all sit down at the table together. We read our Bible passage from from Easy Peasy (we're on Year 2 this year) and discuss the questions. Then we read our social studies lesson - right now, we're studying Lewis and Clark, so I read the chapter to them, and we peruse a map of their expedition together. There is an optional map activity, which Zachary wants to do, so we watch him work on that. Many days, we have lapbook pieces to complete for science (we're studying animals this year), but today, we have a fun 3D Bingo game to play about what animals live in which zones of the ocean!

By noon, we're done with today's formal stuff, so the kids go out to jump on the trampoline and play in the yard while I finish some cleaning and make lunch, and we eat around 1:00. (On an errand day, I would fit our errands somewhere into this section of the day here - sometimes before lunch, sometimes taking a picnic/car lunch with us).

After lunch, the kids play till 2:00 or we read library books together if we haven't gotten around to that yet. 2:00 is quiet time, so the kids each find their own area to be quiet in, and I settle down to work on the computer (I transcribe from home part time for with hopefully minimal interruptions until 4:00. Zachary finishes up any writing assignments, worksheets and his Spanish lesson with Duolingo on the iPad during this time. He's also recently started studying Italian and German! Natalie also finishes up any handwriting assignments she has, so I do see each of them when they finish or need help. Zachary also LOVES to bake cookies during quiet time! We limit his cookie ingredient usage to once a week, but he would bake every day if he could - and his cookies are increeeeedibly delicious!!

At 4:00, we eat a quick snack and either finish up any of our Year 2 work if we didn't get to it before, or go outside for a walk or to play with neighbors until I need to start supper! My husband usually gets home between 5:00 and 5:30, and we eat dinner together around 6:00. Then the kids get ready for bed at 7:00. I clean up from dinner, finish up any Rev work I might have to do, and then get to sit and hang out with my hubby for a little while before bed! Sometimes I use this time to fold laundry or mix up something quick for tomorrow's breakfast, but mostly we just hang out, chat and watch TV.

Before I head for bed, I click open each of the kids' tabs for tomorrow's schoolwork and look it over, print any worksheets that need to be printed (I usually print the week's work all at one time, but always check just in case I missed something), and input all of Zachary's assignments into his Wunderlist account - this helps him to be accountable and aware of what I specifically want to see from each of his assignments without me nagging him during the morning. I also like to do my daily Bible reading and read my daily Ann Voskamp email before I head for bed! And that's a whole day in our family's homeschool life!

Does our day sound familiar or unusual compared to how your family does homeschool? Feel free to share in the comments, and don't forget to check out all the other Day in the Life posts at today's linkup over at Simple Homeschool!!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: The Year In Smiles

As I reflect back on the last year, as always, God has done so much for our family and in our family! 2016 brought *another* move, just an hour down the road, but to a whole new community, which we are falling in love with more every week! So here are some smiles and memories from our family in 2016!

January: I'm so thankful that Georgia 'winters' allow for exploring outside pretty much all year long! But we did have a couple days of snowflakes, too!

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February: In February, we found out we would be moving to Macon. The kids and I took a trip to Greenville to see Emily, Silas & Judah!

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March: March was a BIG month!! Family vacation to Myrtle Beach, getting our Hampton house ready to sell, trip to Iowa to see the Harriss family and Grandma Cheatum for Easter, ETC!!

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April: In April, we moved to Byron, GA and said goodbye to our Hampton friends.

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May: In May, we started getting settled in Byron, and enjoyed some first field trips in the Macon area!

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June: In June, we finished up our school and did a lot of fun stuff at the library and $1 movies, and water fun!

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July: In July, we took the whole month off of school to do LOTS of fun things!! Zachary passed his swimming lessons! The kids and I even got to take a trip to NY for Zachary to go to youth camp, and David celebrated his 5th birthday while we were there, staying with his grandparents Hart!

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August: We came back from NY in August, and then got to take a family trip to see the Harts in New Jersey!

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September: In September, we went back to school full-force, did some field trips and joined a homeschool co-op in our area which we have LOVED!! We also really started to get involved in New City Church and our MC group, who have meant so much to our family, especially while getting settled here!

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October: October brought more school and I got to take a trip by myself to see my niece Ava and the Harriss family in Iowa!! We celebrated Halloween with a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Harriss!

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November: In November, we had a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Hart, then we settled in, doing school, and celebrated Thanksgiving!

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December: December is a busy month with TWO birthdays and Christmas!! Zachary turned 9 and Natalie turned 7! We enjoyed some holiday fun with friends and a short break from co-op classes! We finished up by celebrating Jesus' birth with our New City family!

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Happy 2017 to all!! Praying for another year of smiles, different than the last!