March 31, 2014

Salt and Green Beans

Heads bowed, a prayer said, and time to eat. . .salt.

To continue reading head on over to our ministry blog: Una Vida Para Cristo

February 28, 2014


What does comfort mean to you? How does it display itself in your life? How do you "get comfortable?"

Comfort to me is always something known. It can be tangible, a favorite pair of pants, or it can be emotional, a conversation with my husband. It can be visible, our home, and invisible, love. It doesn't take effort to live in comfort. It just is. Something that has always been around or maybe something that has grown comfortable.

As we made the decision to move to South America I knew I would be leaving my "comfort zone." I knew life would be different but I didn't really know how it would affect me physically, spiritually or emotionally.

As I grew up I often heard the phrase, "you need to get out of your comfort zone." Right. I do. But why? And what's that mean?

Well, ultimately, my understanding was this: if I'm in my comfort zone I can "do it all" on my own. It's usually routine, maybe a few changes throughout, but overall everything is well known physically, spiritually and emotionally. If I'm out of my comfort zone something is new, maybe a lot of things are new (like moving to a foreign country), and that means I need to trust God to get me through because I'm going to be taxed to the end of my abilities, the end of my strength and the end of my knowledge.

It has been interesting living here. I've realized recently how much longer it takes me to do new things. Inside my home I'm now comfortable. Things move at the right pace and I'm not stressed if I spend a day at home, in the house. But if I need to do something on campus (which requires me to use my Spanish) I have to put forth much more effort...and I'm out of my comfort zone. If we need to go shopping at the store...I'm out of my comfort zone. If we need to go to the market to buy fruits and veggies. . .I'm out of my comfort zone. If I get invited to go somewhere with someone...I'm out of my comfort zone.

Again, what's that mean? Well, for me, that means I am more fatigued mentally and physically. I'm crying out to God a lot more because I need help. I tend to say no a lot more to new things. I tend to be more introverted and hesitant. And things that wouldn't be too hard to do if I was in my comfort zone become much harder to do.

For example, we're planting a garden as a family. I don't have much experience. If we were in the US it would be a new thing but a rare new thing. Here it's added to an already lengthy list of things that are still not comfortable. So the garden plot has sat there. Someone pre-weeded it for us and it still sat there. Guess what? The weeds grew in. Finally, today, I pushed myself mentally, told my husband and girls what I was doing and thankfully they joined me. And it's ready. But there's another hurdle. Now I need to get it planted before the weeds grow in again. That's new. That takes effort. And you think, but it's just a garden. Yeah. Just a garden. Just one more thing out of my comfort zone. One more thing I have to put a lot of thought into.

So as you go about your work today. Think about all you are able to do without thinking. What are you facing that might be new? Anything? Is it easy to be in the day-to-day rhythm? Do you find yourself becoming passe in your interaction with God?

If I've learned nothing else since moving to Bolivia, I've learned that when I'm out of my comfort zone I need God. 

February 26, 2014

A Typical School Day

Normally I post photos of the girls doing something exciting, like painting or making cookies, but I definitely don't want you to get the impression I'm "super mom" and we do those kinds of things all the time. . .most definitely not! Those are the "exciting" times when I usually think to grab the camera. :) Today I thought of it as I was sitting there with all three girls busy with "normal" work. This is our typical school day.

A friend recently shared this post on Facebook: Why I'm No Homeschool Superstar. It made me smile because I am not a fan of glitter and painting happens only once every three or four months in this house. We're a sewing kind of family because the mess is minimal! 

February 23, 2014

A Tip for List Users

I love lists. I thrive on lists. They keep me going in the right direction, especially when I get so easily distracted. I have also learned that a list is just that, a list. So with my lists there is also a lot of grace and a lot of flexibility.

Last year I created a Daily To Do list and I was faithfully printing it out and filling it in. It was wonderful but I was going through a ton of paper. I am not a fan of digital lists. There's just something to seeing a list on paper on my desk. So this year I decided to tweak my list a bit (an update really) and then laminate it. I decided if I didn't like it in the end I would go back to printing but it wouldn't hurt to try.

So I am faithfully using my laminated To Do list with a set of trusty fine-point wet erase markers and it's going great. I find myself jotting the notes I need more long term on other pieces of paper but that too works great because it tends to condense the paper load (and my jotted notes are easier to find). I am not as faithful to fill out the bottom line "I am thankful for. . ." but I also have a Gratitude journal I fill out during my quiet time so I don't feel it's too big of a loss. Overall, I'm happy with my laminated list and some colorful wet erase markers.

February 07, 2014

2013-2014 Homeschooling Curriculum

The girls in our classroom: today's craft
Without further ado, I'm going to share our current curriculum. The easiest way for me to do that is to share a day in the classroom with you. This year I am teaching a first grader (7 year old), an official preschooler (5 year old) and an "unofficial" preschooler (3 year old). This is what a typical "perfect" day looks like in our classroom (with the focus on 1st grade):

The girls are so good to hold me accountable to our opening prayer and song time. The school day hasn't officially started without those!

Our prayer time varies throughout the week. Some days I pray to get the ball rolling (especially on our groggy days). Other days the girls think of things and/or people they would like to pray for and so they start. We also use a "prayer cube" that came free with our Sonlight read alouds (from Scripture Goods). On each side it has an idea for prayer: Shepherds, Leaders, Hurting, Unsaved, Family and Free Prayer. The girls like rolling it and it gives us a bit of direction some mornings.

During our song time we sing three songs each day. Every week I try to increase the girls' repertoire by adding a new hymn, praise song or familiar children's song. They love this time and it's a good time to get the energy flowing.

Bible time is next and I am using Sonlight's direction this year with "Leading Little Ones to God" and some of Catherine Vos's "The Child's Story Bible" mixed in. This time also includes our verse memorization. We are memorizing from the English Standard Version.

A gifted "Abeka" planner that I have made work for me. I've designed my own for next year.
Reading aloud comes next with Sonlight's Core B: found here. The girls are expected to pay attention with the picture books but when I begin reading the chapter books they can find a puzzle, game or something to draw on while I read. So far I'm happy with Sonlight's choices. I've skipped a couple of the stories in "Missionary Stories with the Millers" for personal reasons but other than that the girls have enjoyed their book choices and so have I.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday we do Math. We are continuing with Math U See this year so our oldest is doing Alpha. She does great with most of the concepts and enjoys math because it goes quickly for her. She definitely does better with practice over theory.

On Tuesday and Thursday we do Science. We are enjoying Apologia's Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. God has provided a few "in home" experiences with two different birds' nests falling down our chimney. It has been a good lesson in life and death as well because neither time have the baby birds lived. We did what we could but Mama Bird obviously didn't find them either time. :( (My husband hopes to find a fix for the chimney so we won't have that happening again.) For the benefit of the younger two I just started reading a few pages of our Animal Encyclopedia before we start our Zoology lesson.

A fledgling that fell down our chimney.
Our next subject of the day is reading and writing with Spell to Write and Read and Cursive First. I am very pleased with how this is going this year (last year was the first year and it was tough). I'm definitely seeing improvement and so much more understanding in Anne this year and I'm so thankful. I know I've improved in my teaching as I'm grasping more of the teaching style required for the program as well (it's very hands on for the teacher). She's not taken off on her reading like I thought she might but she's doing well for her age and is getting spelling with hardly any mistakes. I'm proud of her! We follow this up each day with reading from First Readers we have in our home library.

Some days, many days, our school day ends there. Usually our Science days, Tuesday and Thursday take a bit longer so it will be time to finish up. On our shorter days I will usually try to get in some Spanish or a craft of some kind.

For Spanish I'm using my own knowledge and a website, Duolingo, as a jumping board. I wouldn't recommend Duolingo for your typical 1st grader but as a bilingual speaker it helps me get our study started and then I use my knowledge of the Total Physical Response (TPR) method to language learning to go from there. We also have a Spanish verb of the week. The flash cards I am using for that are great from a TPR perspective but not so great if you don't have a basic understanding of Spanish (there are no English translations on the cards).

So that's our curriculum for the year. We are usually done with our day in the morning which works great for our family right now. I know that as the other two get older and more involved we'll be breaking into the afternoon hours but right now I'm thankful to be done by lunchtime. Of course, after lunch we get in the classes of "real life": laundry, cleaning, food prep, setting the table, sewing, reading library books, etc.

January 15, 2014

A Book for Missionary Women

During the past year, as I was struggling, a friend in the Philippines recommended an excellent book, Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission by Sue Eenigenburg and Robynn Bliss. It was exactly what I needed to read at just the right time. It shed light on some of the issues I was dealing with, encouraged me in other areas and, overall, gave me a sense of great peace and grace in our work as missionaries. Of course it didn't fix me or my problems but it really helped me think through many of the issues at hand.

I was most encouraged by the following quote:
Remember your personal value to your Heavenly Father. If you left your missionary journey right now, if you threw in the towel, if you checked out, hung up your apron and walked away--He would embrace you and love you. He would gather you up and wipe the tears from your face. He would whisper reassurances to your soul. He would say it doesn't matter. He loves you deeply and that love is connected to what you do. It's who you are. You are His precious little girl, His beloved child. He is so completely committed to you--just because He is! He loves you. 
I had placed myself in a box that didn't allow for much room to move or much grace. It required that I move forward because there was NO other option. I HAD to do this and, really, I was failing miserably. These words spoke grace to my heart. They opened up the possibility that God doesn't really care what my job is but how I live and it gave me freedom. 

This review has been shared purely because I want to share it. I was truly encouraged by this book. :) 

December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From our cozy home (93*) to yours, we wish you a very, merry Christmas!

May you be richly blessed during this time of reflection on our Savior's birth.
All glory to God! 

December 17, 2013

Life's Changes

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. ~Proverbs 19:21

We had plans. For several years, we've had plans. We continued to take each step forward in faith, with determination. There were highs and lows along the way but we continued. Until now. 

In the past month and a half God has drastically changed our plan. It's been a tough road. We have sought God's will and know now that our family is not moving into the village. 

You can read my husband's post on our ministry blog here for more information: 40 Days in the Wilderness

October 22, 2013

A Spark

Our home
So my husband is currently in the village getting our "new" home ready to live in and I have to admit it kind of makes me excited. Just a little. But, shhh, don't tell anyone.

So my pride is biting a little.

I kind of don't want to give in to this fight.

Don't you ever feel that way? Like you just don't want to give in, not yet.

On the other hand I'm praying on a very consistent basis that God will give me the desires of His heart. And maybe living in the village really is God's desire for us. He hasn't changed my husband's heart yet (to return to the US, that is). And things seem to look just right out there. Like, maybe, yeah, we're doing the right thing.

My prayer continues to be:
O Lord, help me. Humble me. Give me peace. Use me. 
Give me Your heart for these people.

And help me to understand that the best teacher is a servant. Help me to serve. 

My future kitchen: Every woman's dream, right?