Monday, July 29, 2013

Dark Days

I hate the days when I wake up and something inconsequential drags me under. These are the days when I am more susceptible of being overwhelmed with depression. Although I don't suffer from it constantly, I have battled the big D most of my life.

Today is one of those days. It was a silly poster about cousins that brought it on. Something about how cousins are your first best friends, blah blah blah.

It made me think about my cousins, and the relationships I don't have with them. Instead of best friends from the start, one set of cousins posed as my first adversaries. We didn't have any influence in the decision, of course. One adult's desire to rule and manipulate stripped down any chances of a real friendship forming. Instead, we were pitted against one another, constantly compared. If my cousin was found lacking in an area, I'm not sure which one of us suffered more.

My early days with her were marred by violent fights and constant belittling.

Interestingly enough, I rarely saw my other set of cousins. It wasn't until I was an adult that I started piecing together why. My grandmother constantly manipulated my mother in insisting we only visit her side of the family. We rarely visited Dad's family. I only have a few vague memories of those cousins.


Today is just one of those days where the past has gripped me viciously. I won't let it win, though. I'm getting older, and a little bit wiser. I know I have to release the memories with forgiveness, and not dwell on what's happened.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Time4Learning - A quick review

Our homeschool was presented with the opportunity to try out Time4Learning free for a month. In return, I promised to write a review.


Sometimes short and sweet is more efficient than wordy and polished looking. I'm going with short and sweet today.

I have heard many good things about Time4Learning (T4L for short during this review). A homeschooling friend of mine uses it for her three children, and they love it. I was eager to try it out in our little homeschool! I have two children, one in 1st grade and one in 7th grade. Each child is "split level" with his or her learning (my 1st grader does 2nd grade math, my 7th grader does 8th grade literature and math). T4L's ability to move up or down a grade level sounded GREAT! It sounded like something I could easily customize for my children.

So, here are my Pros and Cons of T4L:

  1. The kids love playing games to learn. Much of the content on T4L is presented in a fun way. The kids enjoyed that.
  2. Once the kids understood a concept, working through their modules on T4L seemed less tedious than practicing the concepts on paper (a great tool for my kinesthetic learner!)
  3. It was nice to take a break from teaching the kids!

  1. I found setting up everything was not very user friendly. I searched FAQ's everywhere on that site trying to find ways to customize learning plans, and I really couldn't find much other than setting up their initial grade levels. I ended up just having the kids click on areas of their pages that would teach them a new concept (leaving other areas incomplete).
  2. Looking at reports was also difficult. Since I couldn't figure out how to delete certain lessons, I couldn't get the site to recognize the lessons the kids had completed.
  3. Some of the new concepts weren't "taught". I felt that the kids were thrown into the concept. For example, my first grader ran into subtraction with borrowing. The site didn't teach him how to do it. I walked him through the steps and concepts, and then he ran through the exercises.
All that being said, I would only use Time4Learning as a supplement to our homeschool. I think it would actually  make a great supplement to our curriculum. Unfortunately the price tag for the site is higher than I would ever pay for a supplement.

I might have had a better experience with the program if I could have navigated my area in a more efficient manner. I think a more thorough FAQ or help section would be GREATLY beneficial.

Legal stuff:

**I've been invited to try Time4Learning in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experiences. For more information, check out their online curriculum or learn how to write your own curriculum review.**

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Busy busy busy!

I have decided that I need to come up with a schedule that allows me to actually blog. I always have good intentions, then this whirlwind I like to call "life" catches me..and WEEEEE...

...I show up a month later with no posting. Egads! I'll be working on that this week.

It's spring break time around here. I wasn't going to take spring break for our homeschool, but I think I am now. We took yesterday off to go to an amusement park with a friend, and today was mainly spent playing "catch up" on the house (the kids DID get a few lessons done, though!). I think I'll take the rest of the week to reorganize everything, and get some schedules laid out.

We are in the process of wrapping up our school year. Our required testing is done (waiting on the results), our books for next year are purchased (lesson planning comes next), and we can see a light at the end of the tunnel for all of our activities. This of course means it's time to start scrambling around making plans for all the activities we are going to do next year.

Or does it?

I have realized something this spring. We are BUSY.


Way too busy!

The funny part is, we don't HAVE to be so busy. We have chosen this madness. Somewhere I decided it was vital to do a little bit of everything (big eye roll).

So I think next year is going to be SLOW. We already have one major commitment, which will be taking up two days of our week. I think that's going to be it (except for our music lessons). Both of these activities lean heavily on either Bible study or serving in the church, so I think that's okay.

But seriously. Do we have to be so busy? Does it REALLY improve our children's lives? I remember always having the free time to go fishing with my dad just about every weekend. Some of my fondest memories come from fishing with Dad. By scurrying around staying busy, we're missing memories like that.

I'm tired of missing memories. TIME TO UNBUSY! (Yes, I made that word up!)

On another note...
I'll be reviewing Time4Learning in my next post (I'll be working on that tonight). Until then...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Time4Learning Review

Legal stuff:

**I've been invited to try Time4Learning in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experiences. For more information, check out their online curriculum or learn how to write your own curriculum review.**

^^ I'm going to be reviewing Time4Learning in a month. I'll be allowing both of my kids to try it out. I will be giving my thoughts on it once we're finished.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Focus on the Kingdom

Today was a difficult day for many people at church. Many were hurting from the loss of a dear member.  Although we should all rejoice when a brother or sister in Christ goes home to be with our Lord, there is always a time of grief. This grief was etched on many hearts today. Not just because we lost a friend this week, but also because many of us have personal pains. Some of these pains are new; some have been carried for quite some time. While I sat in a pew listening to the opening song, God struck me with an important revelation. We must focus on the Kingdom – ALWAYS. 

What does it mean to focus on the Kingdom? 

It’s a simple concept, actually. Putting it into practice may take some work. It’s seeing the invisible. It’s looking toward His face, not our own reflection.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says:
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

What is the importance?

In a world filled with despair, pain, turmoil, and hate, it’s hard not to get dragged down into a pit. We must remember that we are not of the world. How can we remember this if we do not focus on Him? How can we not drown in a pit of sorrow daily if we cannot see the light of our Lord? It’s impossible. We must remember:

Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation…The Lord is the strength of my life.

What are the benefits?

The best way I can convey this is by quoting the lyrics of the worship music today. God knew so well what I needed to hear and He brought it to me in song. This is “In the Presence of Jehovah”

In and out of situations that “tug of war” at me,
All day long I struggle for answers that I need;
Then I come into His presence and all my questions become clear,
And for a sacred moment, no doubt can interfere.

In the presence of Jehovah, God Almighty, Prince of Peace;
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended, in the presence of the King.

Through His love the Lord provided a place for us to rest,
A place to find the answer in hours of distress;
There is never any reason to give up in despair,
Just look away and breathe His name, He will come and meet you there.

In the presence of Jehovah, God Almighty, Prince of Peace;
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended, in the presence of the King.
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended, in the presence of the King.

Did you read that correctly? Troubles vanish. Hearts are mended. In the presence of the King!
What better benefit can you ask for? Are you hurting today? Breathe His name, and He will come and meet you!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Encouraging words for a discouraged heart

I haven't been on here in ages. Life has just been busy, and I let too many things slide. I skimmed through my blog earlier, and I realize now that I really miss sitting here and blogging out my thoughts. I can't promise to be consistent, but I shall try going forward.

First...I must find my reading glasses (so I can actually see) and fix some coffee (it's been a rough one!)

Today has been a killer. It's one of those days where when everything is all said and done, I'm left feeling empty and defeated, guilty and failing, or in another word...discouraged.

I yelled today. A lot. If anyone has ever thought of me as a patient person with a gentle spirit...and that person just happened to stroll past my house this evening, then that person either thinks:

a) Shannon must be possessed
b) someone else must live there
c) boy howdy, was I wrong when I thought she was _____

I let my anger get the best of me today when what seems like the 10,000th disrespectful "thing" occurred tonight. Now that my children are in bed asleep, I sit here thinking, "What kind of mother am I?" 

Aren't I supposed to be the picture-perfect homeschooling mom? You know...the one who never raises her voice or loses her cool. Ha....hahahaha.

I have never convinced myself of that lie...but still. Here I sit - feeling a bit broken on the inside.

Then a piece of Scripture was handed to me from my Father.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me.

What sweet, perfect words I needed to hear! Christ's GRACE is sufficient. Period.

Yes, I have a temper problem. I always have. It's my thorn. I try hard to control my tongue, but I fail many times. I am reminded that I cannot do this alone, but

"I can do all this through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13)

I am a work in progress, and that's okay. I know my Lord is here with me eagerly waiting to walk me through the storm. I just need to be willing to give Him the steering wheel.

  Lord, I am willing!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Homeschool Kick-off

Somehow this year, God decided it was time for me to lead a homeschool support group. Our existing director was stepping down after many years of loyal (and wonderful!) service. I never thought I would be fit to be the director, but after many days of prayer, God revealed just enough to me to let me know it was time to answer a call.

So, here I am! We're kicking off our new year, and yesterday was our Open House/Kick-off Party.

Turn out was small, but it was so fun. A wonderful, dear friend arranged for us to borrow her church's bounce houses for the event, and the kids (both young and old) had a B-L-A-S-T!

I came home and quickly fell asleep on my couch! I think you can call a party a success if you are completely wiped out when it's done!

Although I'm excited about the new year, I find myself watching a cloud of doubt loom overhead. Thoughts of:
  • Should I really be doing this?
  • What's the point?
  • What if only a couple of people come? Doesn't that make me a failure?
  • No one is interested, anyway on and so forth...keep entering my mind. I know where those thoughts are coming from, and I know they are very deceptive.

Fortunately for me, I recently attending our state-wide homeschool conference (By the way, if your state hosts one of these...GO TO IT!), and there was a leader's meeting scheduled. I couldn't make the meeting, but I was able to download the seminars online. I treasure these mp3's. They are wonderful. I plan to listen to them many times.

One of the speakers made a comment that has stayed with me. He said (paraphrasing) that God will never give you enough help to allow you to accomplish something without Him.

Read that again. God will never give you enough help to allow you to accomplish something without Him. The first time I heard that idea, I was not very happy. I thought "Why would God short-change me like that?" Then I understood why.

If God gave us enough to where we didn't need Him, soon enough, we'd start ignoring Him. And then..well, you know where that leads. I can't think of a catchy phrase to describe it that doesn't use profanity...but you get the picture.

God gives us just enough to get it done with HIS help!

What did that mean to me? 

Well, when very few people volunteer for an event (or very few even show up), I need to remember that this is the EXACT number God intended for me to have. He sees a much bigger picture than I do, and I need to keep that in mind and t-r-u-s-t Him.

I don't necessarily get to know the whys about it. Maybe there is going to be a planned outing, and only a couple of families show up. One mom may be needing to talk something out, but if there was a large group of people present she may feel too intimidated to speak.

Or maybe having just a couple of people around will allow me to forge a new friendship that will prove extraordinarily wonderful in the future - a friendship that may have never come to fruition if the setting wasn't right that one day.

Who knows. I don't. God does.

And that's all I need to know.

With that being said, I look forward to all the wonderful things my Lord has planned for me this year, the good and bad. Because, frankly, I know He's there for it all with me.

Here's to an unforgettable year!