Archive for the ‘Church’ Category
We are moving. And for the first time since I was a kid and had no control over these things, it’s not just across town. We’re moving to a new town. And the whole thing is confusing and everchanging and immediate and confusing (did I say confusing?). I have lived in this town for all of my life, give or take a year or two when I was a kid. My family is here. My husband’s family is here. We have quite possibly the best library in the world. It’s so supportive of writers and provides such excellent programming for children. I love it. And I will miss it and all the wonderful people who work there that have gotten to know me and my kids (at least by face, if not by name). We have gone to the same church since before we got married. We’ve only ever gone elsewhere once or twice while traveling.
Overall, it’s scary, even if it’s also really exciting. We’re not moving ridiculously far away. Only about an hour away to the Kansas City area. Close enough that we can still come back here for a somewhat weekly tabletop game with my brother and friends. Close enough that we won’t have to miss holidays with family. Close enough that they can come visit us fairly often. But just far enough away that if the car breaks down, I’ll think twice before calling up my mom to come get me. Just far enough away to feel like another world on days when I’m lonely.
Originally, we were moving in another direction. South, to a smaller town, and we were supposed to be moving down there around this time. So I “turned in my notice” as a Sunday School teacher and prepared myself to beginning looking for a new church home. As much as our church has been home for over a decade, we barely make it on time when we live 20 minutes away. There’s no way I’d get us to church if we were driving an hour to do it. So our last Sunday came. And I decided that I could see a little bit of what was going on in Topeka before we left, to sort of get me ready for visiting new churches. So we spent a couple Sundays at other churches. But today was Thanksgiving dinner at our home church. And a special musical program. So back we went. And somewhere in the middle of the service, it dawned on me that I still had a set of keys to the church.
I was tempted to just keep them. We haven’t yet found a new church, so we’re still members there. I plan to continue sending our tithe there until we find a new home. So why not just keep the keys? But we won’t typically be going there. We won’t have responsibilities that require us to go there when others aren’t there already. So why not give them back? In the end, I gave them back, turning them in after the service was over. But it felt like such a final thing. After a couple Sundays elsewhere, I thought I was doing okay with this whole moving thing. Now, I realize I’ve still been holding onto things that make it seem unreal. And that’s no way to cope.
So I’ve turned in the keys. And now I’ll get back to work finding us a new home. And packing. And preparing us for our new life in a new city. Even if I’m a little terrified.
So I’m back, in more ways than one. I’m back writing, and I’m also back at my free WordPress site. It was an interesting foray into paying for hosting and all that, but it was too much pressure. Pressure to keep to a set schedule to try to build a following so that I could maybe make money from the site in order to pay for the hosting I couldn’t afford. Pressure to write, even when I didn’t feel like I had anything to say, because there was a bill to pay now. I greatly prefer free, where I can write when I need to speak, and not worry about it when life gets crazy or I feel like I have nothing to contribute.
I spent a few hours yesterday moving as many posts from the last two years as I could get. I didn’t get a backup saved before my hosting expired, so I had to use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to retrieve the posts from old copies. There were still a few I couldn’t get. And most of them with pictures no longer have them. But somewhere on my netbook I know I have them all, so I’ll find them and put them back eventually. Maybe. I may just call it good enough that I retrieved all that writing.
It’s been a very tough couple years. I’ve learned what it truly means to trust God to provide for your family. And what it truly means to surrender your future to Him. I’ve had moments of profound thankfulness that I homeschool, and moments where I wondered if it was the right thing when our life has been so hectic. But that same craziness that made me wonder if my daughter would fare better with the regularity of public school, would have meant changing schools enough times that it would have been even more traumatic. I pray that our life will be mostly restored soon, but I know that in some things, we still have a long way to go.
A quick look at the last couple years:
September 2012 – My husband, under the leading of God, quit his job. A debt collector, attempting to collect on one of our medical debts, garnished our bank account (i.e. wiped it out), causing us to be behind on our house payment. Despite turning in over $3000 worth of past due bills to his 401(k) in an attempt to receive funds for economic hardship, they approved around $300. That didn’t even catch up the house, much less the utilities that were near being shut off. When he quit his job, we were able to cash out his 401(k) and catch everything up. We hoped this would be a short time of unemployment, since we were being obedient to God and he’d been working for 8 years there, so we figured he had established himself as reliable.
January 2013 – We ran out of 401(k) money. Thankfully, we were able to get our taxes done quickly and with our large refund, we floated a few more months.
May 2013 – Despite our best efforts, we lost our house. We moved out and into a house with my father-in-law. It’s actually a little bit painful to look back at posts from our old house. There were problems with it, but it was ours, you know? I cried as we drove away for the last time.
July 2013 – After a mass of crazy paperwork stuff, we got my husband’s pension money. Our tax refund had run out in May. We got the money just in time to pay rent on the new place we’d been living with my father-in-law (he’d covered our first month there).
August 2013 – We discovered that I was pregnant. In July 2012, we had felt God calling us to let him be in charge of our family size and He had promised us a son. I was beginning to think the promised son may be a long way off when I started being fatigued and occasionally nauseous. I ignored it for several weeks until my husband insisted that I was pregnant. I took a test. It was positive. Very few members of our family met the news with happiness.
October 2013 – The pension money was gone. We were going to lose yet another place to live. I prayed nonstop for God to keep us from being homeless. Nothing happened. Then, I owned up to my fear of homelessness. I gave God control and acknowledged that even if we became homeless, He could still care for us. The hymn, Have Thine Own Way, Lord, grew exponentially more meaningful.
November 2013 – In the midst of moving, after 13 months of unemployment, my husband finally got a new job. As a pizza delivery driver, making less than minimum wage part time. I was struggling with fatigue and morning sickness and my husband was working every hour he could get as we tried to pack and find a place to go with no income to pay for it.
December 2013 – A member of our church family took us in temporarily. Our landlord, feeling that we had taken too long to move (despite the fact that she never evicted us or gave us a deadline to get out), changed the locks on the home we were leaving. She refused to allow us to get the rest of our belongings. The value of the belongings was such that we will require a lawyer to take he to court in order to resolve this. We have yet to find a lawyer.
We also have yet to find a place to live. We applied with public housing, but have made very little progress. On April 1, 2014, we welcomed our promised son into the world. Elijah Paul is the spitting image of his big brother. Unlike his big brother, he has a working thyroid (and that is literally the second question people asked after what he weighed and such). He is a very calm and mellow baby who took to breastfeeding right away. He has brought me such immense joy.
So, we’re still technically homeless. Or maybe it’s technically not homeless. I’m not sure. And when we get a place, we will have no dishes or pots and pans. We lost a large portion of our school supplies and all of the children’s books. But we have our family, and we’re healthy, and in the last 7 months, my husband went from delivery driver to assistant manager to store manager. It’s pretty much unheard of. When I was younger, I worked as a delivery driver for 9 months and couldn’t even get a raise when a coworker commented on how hard I worked. Most of the managers I had, had been working in the industry for several years. We know that his advancement comes from God. And we are very thankful, especially since it means that we no longer need to wait on public housing. We can being to set aside money and start looking for a new place to live. I am hopeful that if we continue being faithful, we’ll be in a home of our own again by the end of August. God has seen us through times that made me weep more intensely than I ever have in my life. But in those moments, I felt Him so strongly. There were days that I literally felt Him changing me. And it was painful and beautiful and intense. But I am better now for all of it. And despite the fact that we’d hoped to be on our own again before the baby was born, I was so thankful to be somewhere that I could get help with the older two as I recovered from childbirth. On our worst days, our church family has been there for us. They are most certainly the arms of Christ wrapping around us in our need.
Something is going to be cut out. I’m not one hundred percent sure yet what it’s going to be, but I’m leaning toward the blog. I enjoy it. But I don’t always have time for it. And the only way to be a “good” blogger is to be a consistent blogger, so when I realize a week has gone by without a post, I feel shades of guilty and wonder if I should be apologizing, or if, since it’s my blog, I should just do whatever I feel like and who cares if other people decide not to read anymore because I just wasn’t feeling it for a couple weeks.
I’ve been enjoying doing the book reviews. Though I’ve slowed down considerably in my reading. I had a couple weeks in there where I was just devouring anything I could get my hands on. And while I’m still reading, it’s not as much, or as quickly, and the couple things I still need to review just haven’t grabbed me like past items. The urge to share them with everyone right now so they can get their own copy just isn’t there. So the reviews haven’t been written.
Then there’s the computer issue. For various reasons that make me want to spank every single person that lives with me and then go find the electrician who wired our house and spank them too, my netbook battery is fried. So it will only work when plugged in. Which is, unfortunately, more difficult than it sounds. The plug-in that’s hidden enough to actually keep the thing plugged in, is part of a group of things that like to randomly have power outages that leave the rest of our house unaffected. Plugging in to an outlet not affected by this random wiring issue that I hope doesn’t burn our house down before we have a chance to move out of it, means using an extension cord that my children then step on because if there’s an empty room with one small item on the floor, they will find a reason to step on that small item. Please tell me this is not restricted to my children.
The result of all that is that I haven’t been spending much time on my computer. And when I’m on there, I usually have a bazillion emails that need to be dealt with because I can’t do a lot of things on my phone so any email that requires an action gets left for me to deal with “Later, when I can get on the computer.” And then there’s the fact that I’m the education director for my church now and I have this grand plan for our front bulletin board. But it requires me to spend some time making the various elements to put up. And then, through God’s crazy workings, I’m the Sunday School teacher for kindergarten through 3rd grade, and that is definitely a class that requires preparation. They are so easily distracted, if I don’t know what we’re doing, they’ll have us dancing around listening to music for the whole hour.
Plus, we’re getting ready to move. Sometime. We have to wait for someone else to move out before we can move in, so right now we’re just waiting and hoping we don’t lose our house before we can move.
And while all of this is perfect fodder for blogging, and I seriously have moments when I’m out and think “I need to write this down so I can blog it,” the reality is that I’m too busy living it, to blog it. Maybe if I had an easy way to get things from my Kindle to my computer, I could do it. But I don’t currently have an app that would allow me to create a document on the Kindle and get it to my computer. And I hate handwriting stuff that I want to blog because I just don’t have time to do the retyping later. When you barely have time to write, you don’t want to cut that in half by making yourself repeat work.
So. All that to say that I don’t know how long I’ll be trying this. And really, my hosting runs out at the end of November, and unless life takes a drastic turn for the prosperous, I can’t afford to renew it. Which means going back to wordpress.com. Not a completely unhappy thought, since I actually rather liked all the things they took care of for me (like having an email list where people could get updated when I post or keeping really awesome statistics regarding visitors and such). But in the blogging world, it seems you’re not a “real” blog if there’s a “wordpress” or “blogger” in your blog’s address. But maybe I can upgrade from wordpress.com and get my own domain name without paying an arm and a leg for it. If I decide to keep going. I still haven’t decided that.
For now, I’m going to keep giving it a go. Next week, hopefully I’ll get around to talking about what we’ve been doing in school. And how in the world I ended up teaching the age group that frustrates me most. And I still have a couple reviews to write.
Should be good times if I can get myself to the computer to write it all out.
For the last year (at least), I have read every review I came across for We Choose Virtues. I entered every giveaway. I tried hard to find a little extra in the budget so I could buy some of their stuff. And I would spend hours on their website, reading product descriptions to try to figure out which item I should buy first. So, as you can imagine, I was over the moon when I was given the chance to receive some of the products to review.
They sent me the Virtues poster andVirtues flashcards. Then I went ahead and got the Virtues teaching cards. I’d already snagged the coloring book when it was offered free, and I made sure to get theiron-on t-shirt transfer files while those were free as well. Armed with these items, I began incorporating We Choose Virtues into our day with my daughter, and into my Sunday School class at church.
Elisebeth is only 4, so there were a few activities with the flashcards that we just couldn’t do, since she can’t read. The same went for the poster. It wasn’t a good reference material for her because she couldn’t read it. However, she quickly learned the stories that went with the virtues and we had a lot of good discussions. We talked about not just the scriptures listed on the teaching cards, but I also have a Child Training Bible and we were able to use that to quickly look up other scriptures on the same topic. While we still have issues with certain areas, she’s learning the vocabulary of virtues. And that’s the first step to learning how to live them out.
Things were a little different in my Sunday School class. I teach 3rd and 4th graders. We have an interesting situation though. My class consists of 3 children. One of them has divorced parents, so at most, he’s there every other week. One is adopted and doesn’t always get a ride to church because of the living situation there. And the third one just doesn’t always make it for Sunday School. So, in order to make sure that they all got to participate as much as possible, I decided to discuss each virtue for two weeks. The first week, we talked about the virtue, read the story, and colored that page out of the coloring book. Then the second week, we’d do an activity from the teaching card, discuss it a little more, and then play a flash card game.
It took a while for the kids to realize that the Virtues poster had all of the virtues on there with the catchphrases. When we played games, they didn’t realize they could use it as a reference until we’d done it a couple times. So the poster was an item I probably wouldn’t have bought (remember, my daughter is only 4), but was happy to have once the kids figured out how much information was really on there. The flashcards were awesome. Because we’re only doing one Virtue every two weeks, it means we’re getting through them very slowly. But I wanted a way to start to get the kids familiar with the virtues we hadn’t covered yet, too. The flashcards are perfect at this. First, we played a game where the cards were all laid out with the Virtue side up. I read catchphrases and they figured out which virtue went with it. The next time, we flipped them the other way and did it opposite. By the second game (even though only one of the kids was the same), they were guessing a lot less and actually figuring them out (not to mention using the poster to help them). A few more weeks of that and I think they’ll at least have an inkling of what all the virtues are, even if we haven’t gotten to them yet.
Other things that I found/made: Somewhere on Pinterest or Facebook I found someone with instructions for making your own scratch-off cards. I made a few different versions of a card that contained butterflies, magnifying glasses, and caterpillars (these are icons that We Choose Virtues uses) and turned them into scratch-offs. Whenever I “catch” the kids practicing the virtues we’ve studied, they get to scratch off a square and when they reveal 10 butterflies, I’ll make them a Virtue kid t-shirt using the iron-on pictures. Even the kid who is normally very apathetic about everything seemed interested in getting a t-shirt.
We Choose Virtues is letting me give away a Kids Virtues Poster. As I said above, I probably wouldn’t have bought one of these, because my daughter can’t read. But I am so glad they sent me one. So if you think you won’t use it, think again. Now that my kids have figured out how to use it, I’m coming up with new games that I could play with it to make it even more useful. Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below (which, by the way, how handy is Rafflecopter?!)
If you can’t wait to win one, or you want to get some of the other items, there are a few promo codes you can use right now (only one promo code per order).
START25 gives you 25% off kits valued at $99.00 and up. This is designed to be used by teachers who are bringing We Choose Virtues into their classrooms.
SHIPFREE for free shipping
VIRTUE15 for 15% off your cart
FLASH35 for 35% off a set of Virtue Flash Cards (I love these things so I totally recommend you use this one while it lasts).
Disclosure: I received items for free in exhange for my honest review. All of the opinions are my real opinions and were not affected by the free product. Also, I do have an affiliate account with We Choose Virtues, however, I’m not sure if the links within my post will trigger it. In order for me to make money off of orders made through this post, you would need to use the ad in my sidebar. I appreciate anyone who does that, but I’m not reviewing this item in an attempt to make money, so feel free to use the other links or to go directly to their page without using any of my links.
I met all my blog-related goals in January. I got my blog ported over to my own domain. I got a basic site up on the other site pages. I even posted a few times. And then February happened. I’d been kinda sorta sick through most of January, so by the end of the month, I was exhausted. I feel like I slept through most of February, trying to kick the sickness that had invaded my home and didn’t want to leave. It seemed like every time we kicked it, we’d go to church and get it all over again.
Then enter March. I volunteered to be our church’s VBS Director this year. Unlike other churches, we don’t do our VBS during the summer. We host kids all day over Spring Break, providing a safe place for children who might not otherwise have childcare that week. It’s a lot of work, and I sometimes felt like most of my brainpower was used up, but last week was finally VBS time.
We hosted 37 children last week. And one young boy committed his life to Christ. There were no major emergencies and our Family Night went off without a hitch. Unless you count my daughter trying to attach herself to my leg a hitch. We also gave out at least 30 pocket Bibles. My husband gave out one and then that kid showed his friend and that kid wanted one too and then after that, it was a steady stream of kids into the church office for Bibles. Which was really awesome for me to watch while I was in there doing paperwork. And this week, we’re working on setting up appointments to visit all the VBS families with bags of goodies.
All that to say that yes, I am alive. And yes, I do intend to get back into the habit of posting. And hopefully, that’ll include some cool stuff. To start off with, I’m going to be reviewing a homeschooling product. School time with my daughter has slacked off a bit in the last couple months too. I don’t worry about it too much, since she’s only a preschooler and she really just needs to be learning her alphabet, and that happens almost on accident around here. But I want to develop a habit of making her schoolwork happen at least 4 days a week (since my hubby works 4 days a week so the other 3 are usually random and busy). So, before I get started with the trying out, there’s a disclaimer I need to post.
Over the next 30 days, I will be reviewing Time4Learning’s online education program. It can be used as a homeschool curriculum, an afterschool tutorial or for summer learning. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. You can write your own curriculum review, too!
So, the blog is moved. And I’ve fixed the background (well enough, for now). So now, all I have to do is move the other pages from my webs.com website, over to the new domain. I’m hoping that I can work on that and still get some posts going up here. My goal next week is at least one post. I’d like to get three of them up. I’ve been writing like crazy, so I probably have six of them that I just need to type up, find a picture for and get set up. So we’ll see how productive my weekend is.
Other things I’ve been working on:
*One of my goals for the new year is to start getting up at 7am and writing before the kids get up. So far, out of 12 days in the year, I’ve gotten up I think three of them. 25% success rate. I’m working on it.
*I’m the VBS Director at my church! This is super-exciting to me because I love VBS and it’s one of our biggest outreaches at the church. We host our VBS during Spring Break when most parents have to scramble for child care or leave their kids home alone. We have people at the church from 6 or 7 am until 6 or so in the evening so parents don’t have to worry about what their kids are doing during the break. This year, Spring Break is March 19-23, so I’m getting started recruiting volunteers and working on promotion stuff. This is the part I really love (I’m a little wishy-washy when it comes to enjoying other people’s kids).
*This Sunday, I start a new Sunday School class at our church. I’m going to be teaching 3rd and 4th graders, which will be super nice. Before now, we had K-3 and 4-6 as our split, but the gap in learning levels is pretty big there. So I’m popping into the middle to help out with that. And I”m super excited about the curriculum. It’s one that I’ve wished I could afford to buy for my home because their materials are just awesome. www.biblestudyguide.com (This is not an affiliate link.)
*Memorization! One of the blogs that I follow (and I’ll try to figure out which one, but they all come to my email so I sort of read them without taking the time to separate them mentally) is participating, with her church, in an attempt at memorizing the book of Colossians. They have materials that you can download and print out if you want to try it too. If you’re interested, drop a line in the comments and I’ll track down the link for you.
*Getting back on the FlyLady bandwagon. I’m going back through the Baby Steps (and not allowing myself to skip any this time) while also going slowly through 31 Days to Clean. There’s a group on Facebook that is stretching 31 Days to Clean over 3 months. So I’m hoping that’ll make it so I can keep up. (Also not an affiliate link.)