As we enter into the season of thanksgiving, have you begun thinking about the things for which you are thankful? I have had a strong desire for the past several years to try different ways to express my thankfulness while encouraging others to show theirs. I know a couple of years I found myself posting on social media thirty days of gratefulness. It was a chore remembering to post every day, but served as a good reflection on God’s blessings and the things for which I was grateful. One year I wrote out the “Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful”. To be honest, it was a hard list; when you have so many things to be thankful for, picking the “Top 10” was hard. Yet again, it was a great blessing reflecting on the abundance of blessings in my life.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” Colossians 3:17
Why do I encourage others to focus on being thankful? Because we truly have so much for which to be thankful! By sharing things that you are thankful for, you are not bragging, but rather publicly giving God the credit. He is such a good Father! As a parent, I try to be a good mother, but many times I fall short. I am thankful that my Heavenly Father NEVER falls short.
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” Matthew 7:11
Even in this, the year of the pandemic, we have had some pretty amazing things happen. What you ask? Here are some things I am choosing to focus on:
- Stop focusing on the negative, find the positive; Homeschooling gained awareness, and many new families are choosing that journey because the schools were not operating as usual.
- Keep looking for the silver lining; It was a time of reconnecting with our children and grandchildren because we were
- Make sure you are enjoying the gifts that come to you each day; We found ourselves enjoying meals together at home, as the restaurants were
Everything we do and all the decisions we are making goes back to us, choosing to be thankful.
“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 1:7
May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday!
This might come as a surprise to you, but I really do not enjoy writing. Doesn’t that seem odd since I write a letter to you each month?
It all began years ago, when my husband Dwayne and I went to a THSC Convention. We began going to their conventions as a retreat; we could go and be encouraged by the speakers, and no one required my assistance.
During these years, we met John Erickson, author of the Hank the Cowdog series. This particular year, he had a writer’s curriculum at his booth that he had written. During lunch, our conversation was around the curriculum and writing. He told us, “you know what makes a good writer?” I leaned forward, expecting some profound requirements or skill list, but to my surprise, his answer was, “somebody who’s got something to say.” These words spoke to me, kept me awake at night, and haunted my thoughts during the day. Why? Because I knew that I had “something to say.”
I am a believer of using your life experiences to help others. How can I share my experiences? Well, I could have coffee and conversation with people which I love to do! However, in order to share with a bigger audience, it would require writing things down and sharing with more than one or two at a time. Please know that I am not saying I have all of the answers; I don’t even know all of the questions! But I believe that the Lord has brought me through many trials, valleys and was always faithful to me. A friend once shared that you can only use the words “always” or “never” if you are referring to God. I remember that wisdom every time I use either one of those words.
I guess you are wondering why I am sharing this with you today? It is because sometimes, in the haste of our busy lives, we tend to sell ourselves short, believing that we are not capable of doing certain things. I am here to tell you that you are correct. I could never share these truths with you if it were up to me. Praise the Lord; it is up to Him! Find joy in every victory.
“He hath made everything beautiful in His time;…” Ecclesiastes 3:11a
I challenge you, next time you feel overwhelmed, or gaze upon a project you don’t believe you can accomplish, step out in faith, even if that something is Algebra with your child.
“I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
Be encouraged, mask or no mask, stay home, or go out, God is still in control!
If we don’t have order, we have chaos. I always had a hard time with order. It was not until my children were older that I figured out that time spent on structuring my homeschool was time well spent. It sure beat the time I had lost as I drifted without a plan.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” I Corinthians 14:33
Along the same lines, I needed structure in my faith and my walk with the Lord. For many years I attended church and took for granted that I was ok because I attended church regularly. Boy, was I wrong! It was not until I began to study God’s word on my own that the Lord revealed to me His ways, grace, and peace.
“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.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Recently I was studying I Thessalonians 5-22. I hope you will take time to read the passage. I felt so enlightened after I examined these verses. It is one of those things where you have read it a hundred times… and suddenly, as if you are reading it for the first time, it takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of just reading the verses, I saw it as a list of the things I needed to do:
- Don’t render evil for evil
- Follow that which is good
- Rejoice evermore
- Pray without ceasing
- In everything give thanks (This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you)
- Quench not the spirit
- Despise not prophesying
- Prove all things
- Hold fast to that which is good
- Abstain from all appearance of evil
I realized that I had taken some of these items as suggestions! That was never what God intended. Another thing I realized was that in His Word, God mentions one thing twice: “follow or hold fast to that which is good. I believe the reason it is mentioned twice is for emphasis.
This has become my list to work on, making them a habit, one at a time. I challenge you to find the order, not just in your homeschooling, but in your faith and walk with the Lord. It sure has made my days seem brighter and less stressful. The fact is that it has affected every aspect of my life.
Maybe you will find that order, is in order!
I don’t know how it makes you feel, but every time I hear the word “priority,” it makes me feel like I am about to get in trouble: Either for something I did wrong or did not do at all. I think my biggest hang-up is that sometimes I don’t feel like my priorities are the same as other people’s priorities…
Looking to turn that around, I began to investigate the subject. I started by looking at the definition of the word priority:
|1.||a.||1. the quality or state of being prior|
|2. precedence in date or position of publication —used of tax|
|b.||1. superiority in rank, position, or privilege|
|2. legal precedence in the exercise of rights over the same subject matter|
a preferential rating especially: one that allocates rights to goods and services usually in limited supply that project has top priority
|3.||something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives|
By the mere definition, a priority would be something determined by me or me and my husband
(unless it pertains to a legal matter). So no need to fret over what others think about my priorities.
Moving along, as we plan to launch the school year, keep the important things at the top of the list! Now my important things may not match your important things. This only means we have different priorities. So as you read this, if one of my priorities does not apply to you, substitute your own.
Top Three Priorities:
1. Relationships – It is imperative that I nurture and manage my relationships. They are like gardens; if they are left unattended, they will become overgrown with weeds, which will choke out the good plants. So for me, it starts with my relationship with: God, husband, children, mother, extended and church family, friends, and neighbors.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38
2. Home Management – As homeschool moms, we not only manage our home but our homeschool as well. They can both run like a well-tuned machine if we have a plan and then work our plan. If you need help with a plan, we have just the help you need in the Resource Center. We don’t have to know everything, just know where to go for help. Like our relationships, if our homes are neglected, they will not flourish; rather, they will wither.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:5-6
3. Self Care – With all of these things on our plates, it is important for us to stay strong and healthy. This is one I struggled with for years. I categorized “self-care” as something I should not do; it was selfish of me to put myself ahead of others. Boy, was I wrong; and it came with a price. I went through cancer, four surgeries, and years of medication. That would be the pound of cure, sure wish I would have implemented the ounce of prevention. Take care of yourself, make sure you listen to your body; it will communicate with you.
“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” I Corinthians 6:19-20
When it comes to priorities, the key is balance. If you find yourself unable to keep up with everything, it is ok to ask for help. Reach out to a friend, neighbor, family member, or me! We have many resources here at FEAST, so if there is something you need help with- if you need a sounding board, or a listening ear, feel free Resting in Him, to reach out to us! We are here for you! (210) 342-4674 .
“Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.” Deuteronomy 12:8
For just a moment, let’s do a little time travel. Come along with me, and we will go all the way back to…my childhood. I remember a day when people were courteous to one another. If people disagreed, they would come together and discuss things while displaying respect for the other person’s viewpoint. They would not always come to an agreement, but if they could not agree, they would agree to disagree without bitterness and hatred.
“Now, the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another
according to Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:5
Now, back to reality, as homeschool families, we are our own group. Yet within this great group, we have smaller groups. I would like to encourage all of us to focus on our commonalities and not our differences. We have a great common denominator as Christians and as homeschoolers.
“And all that believed were together and had all things common;” Acts 2:44
As we stand together on the spectrum, be courteous to those around you, and yes, even those who might be at the other end. Look for me, I will be there too, looking for you. United, we can accomplish more, be stronger and most importantly give all glory and praise to the Lord.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity!”Psalm 133:1
When I was growing up, I would go with my mom to the grocery store. While we were in line, when the cashier would count out the change, sometimes the customer would say, “keep the change.” I always felt like the cashier was so lucky, it was free money! No one would ever turn it down, and they would always say thank you. The unexpected bonus seemed to make them very happy, so I learned that “change” made people happy.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
As an adult, I came to understand that change is part of life. Once single, I found myself courting, falling in love, and then marrying my sweetheart. Now a wife, the next phase, was becoming a mother, which I did twice. Soon the boys became old enough; we needed to decide about their education, and the change was to go against the norm and home educate our children. Each season of my life was filled with one transformation after another. Many of the changes were good, but not all, as I had originally thought.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” I Corinthians 15:51
Recently, changes have been sanctioned on us all: stay home-work safe, where and when we have permission to go, how many can go with us, what we can do when we get there, how far apart we must be from others, and we must wear a mask. There were businesses closed, schools closed, even churches; however, I noticed, during the chaos, there was a group of people who were not as affected by the changes. This group called homeschoolers were able to continue educating their children, and life seemed to function at a high percentage of normalcy. This showed me that change had different effects on different categories of individuals.
Realizing we could not go to restaurants, the movies or play sports seemed hard at first, but that was when homeschoolers found the real change. The easier lifestyle, with a slower pace, they never expected. Time to spend together, time to do family projects, time to spend together as a family, time to work through issues with your struggling learner, or work ahead with your gifted child, and time to spend with the Savior.
With all these changes, what have you learned? Where did your comfort and peace come from? What is your takeaway? When they press the fast-forward button again, will you go back, or will you “keep the change”?
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
As we are all settling into the new normal, I wonder if anyone else has spent time wondering why this is happening. One day everything seemed normal, and then it all began to change as word of the coronavirus made the news. The numbers began to grow of the sick and fatal cases; at first, it all seemed so far away. Then it came to America, Texas, and finally, San Antonio, our home.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
The orders started coming to us via President Trump, Governor Abbott, and local authorities. Stay home – Work safe, and only essential business shall be open. We can’t eat out, go shopping, get a haircut or mani-pedis, or even go to church until further notice. Then we all seemed to retreat to our homes.
Yet while we were stuck in our homes, we found out we had time for so many things: homeschool and cleaning, exercise and cooking, projects we never seem to have time to do, time to garden and trim the trees, and time to read our Bible and spend time on our knees.
As I found myself enjoying more time to spend with my family, my devotions, and my Savior, things seemed to change gears. I stopped thinking about all the things I could not do and focusing instead on all the things I could do. Although I still miss everyone I normally see on a regular basis, I no longer feel heavy-hearted. I feel happy and hopeful.
What “silver lining” have you discovered during this time? Maybe your child learned to read, or finally understood Algebra or mastered Physics. Maybe your victory was a spiritual one. Please know that this journey we are on is full of ups and downs and turns. Through all the uncertainty, there is one constant truth in life, and that is Jesus Christ.
When you ask why the pandemic, I would have to say that, in my opinion, it is something the Lord has allowed to get us all to look at our situation. First, we need to reset ourselves and our families, then reach out to those we meet and offer the hope that is within us. No reason anyone should be without hope!
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13
Praying that today, pandemic or not, you will have the peace that only comes from our Lord.
April: What is Keeping You?
In the face of COVID-19, travel bans, school/university closings, ban of groups over 10, how are you coping with the added stress? Do you take all these in stride? Or does it seem to make you uneasy, maybe even trigger your anxiety? Well, I do realize that it is a very different time for us all, and that is why I feel led to share. I am pretty sure there will be more ebbs and flows in the journey.
Last Sunday, my Pastor brought a message on the passage in Philippians 4:4-7. If you will allow me, I would love to break this down as I see it pertains to homeschoolers.
It begins with “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Even when we are told to stay home and can’t do co-op, sports, or play date? Even when we feel cut off from our friends and family? Even when the churches are closing? Yes, what is it that brings you joy in these activities? If it is the connection you feel, then talk to them on the phone, face- time or Skype with them, or send them emails/messages. Keep those connections strong.
These relationships will help to keep both parties encouraged, and feeling invigorated and enlightened!
“Let your moderation be known unto all men.” I almost feel like this needs no explanation. I am sure that we have all seen the empty shelves in the stores. Do you feel everyone only took what they needed? This is also true when we are not in the midst of pandemic times.
“The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing;” As we run our homes and school, we strive to not be stressed or full of care. According to W. H Davies in his poem Leisure, he states, A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.” Specifically, full of care means devoting all your time and energy to that which one perceives as necessary or as duty, without enjoying that which is beautiful. Did you see the beauty of your family, at home, learning, bonding and expressing themselves? How about the beauty of spring?
Maybe something as simple as the beauty of their favorite story time? Make sure you take the time to share the beautiful things with your children.
“but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” We have a hotline that goes straight to God. All we need to do is pray and ask Him. He is a loving God and wants to bless us!
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” For me to know that this peace shall keep my heart and mind through Christ, Jesus makes me feel as if I have superpowers. No strength required. No extreme speed. No higher level of intelligence. All that is required, is that I allow myself to be under His care, in the palm of His hand. That is what is keeping me…what is keeping you? If you need some help with this, please feel free to reach out to me personally, I would love to share His peace with you today!
Every spring, I ponder planting a garden, even though I have not done so in years. It is such a therapeutic undertaking to do the work to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water, and enjoy the fruit of your labor.
Life is like a garden; if you work with those who are in your circle of influence, you can have an impact on their life:
- Family – We have people we call “family,” either by birth or choice. These are the people that are very important to us. We take time to nurture our family as you would the soil in a garden by tilling, fertilizing and removing rocks, etc. Without proper attention, your soil will not yield succulent crops. Ezekiel 17:8 “It was planted in a good soil by great waters…that It might bear ”
- Children – They come to us like a new plant. Small, vulnerable, and needing a lot of attention. We have to keep the “weeds” away from them. We have to feed and water them and make sure they get plenty of sunlight. All these things will help them to grow to their full potential. Matthew 13:32 “…is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among all herbs…”
- Friends – These are the special additions to our life that the Lord sends our way, giving us the opportunity to have a life more abundant. We decide the amount of time we spend with some while avoiding others. This is like selecting the seeds that you will plant in a garden. You plant things that you like to eat, yet you don’t purchase the packages of the foods you don’t like. Mark 5:19 “…Go home to thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord had done for thee…”
So, I ask again, what’s in your garden? A bountiful harvest does not just happen. You need to be intentional, consistent, and loving in each situation, with each group of individuals. The Lord puts people in our lives, look for opportunities to help, encourage, and bless them. This IS your garden!