NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

Tag: Christian kids

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts from a Homeschooled Homeschooling Mom

I sat down to write one post on homeschooling, but soon realized I have a mini-series in the making.  So… this is the first of many posts to come on how we do homeschooling at our house.

There are so many different options for school and no one-sized fits all approach!  Public schools, charter schools, private schools, and homeschools are the most common options for us to choose between in the United States.  The best fit for our family in this season is homeschool.  But like parenting, and so many other things in life, we homeschoolers all have to find the groove that fits our family.  I feel like that is a moving target, especially as my kids grow older and we add more babies to the mix, but that’s part of the fun of life.

I was actually a homeschooled kid for most of my school years.  This was a weird thing in the ’80s and ’90s. When I started public school in high school, no one knew what I meant by “homeschool”.  My peers thought it was  some type of remedial or correctional program – I am serious, they actually thought that!  I think they learned otherwise as I soon rose to the top of the class and graduated salutatorian.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Some hands-on learning at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I  love how homeschool helped mold me into the person  that I am today.  Homeschooling allowed me to learn at my own speed (which was actually very slow at first – I didn’t read until I was eight!) and pursue things that interested me – which was pretty much everything.

Homeschool instilled in me a universal love of learning that I still have today.  I learned to love every subject, mostly due to my parents’ love of learning and reading.  My mom and dad read out loud to us for years – years longer than was necessary.  I cherish these memories of family reading time, huddled together on the old family room couch, on a family road trip, or around a crackling campfire.  These books opened up so many opportunities for us.  I only hope that our own homeschool can do the same for our family.

When my husband and I had kids, he knew right away that we were going to homeschool them.  In fact, he told everyone that.  (He was never homeschooled himself, but he saw the benefit of it.) I wasn’t so sure, only because I knew how challenging it is to be a homeschool parent and that the majority of their education would fall on me.  However, as our oldest grew older, I started to look into our options.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

A field trip to the local zoo – the kids love any chance to see animals up close!

Our local schools are good schools and the teachers and administration are very good people, so I was not concerned there.  However, as I saw my young and very impressionable son interacting with other kids at the park, I noticed some things I did not like.  He learned to copy other children’s behavior, especially bigger “cool” kids, just from an hour or two at the park.  And that behavior was more “Lord of the Flies” than it was good Sunday School kid.  I didn’t like it.

My husband and I knew that we wanted to be the biggest influences of our children, not some cool kid on the playground.  We wanted to know what was going on with them everyday and to be able to pour life and love and grace into them throughout the school day.

I knew from my oldest’s personality and learning style that going to public school would be tough on him and we decided when he was only three and a half that homeschool would be the best thing for him.  We have not regretted it at all.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Making a recycling truck out of recycled boxes during a unit on recycling.

Homeschooling gives us the ability to allow our kids time to be kids.  At most schools today, kids are not allowed the time to just play that they need for their cognitive development.  Many, if not most, schools have all-day kindergarten.  Homeschooling has let my kids be kids.  Kindergarten work takes 1-2 hours of our day and the rest of the day can be spent exploring nature, running around, building with Legos, and just letting their imaginations go!

I love that my little boys are not made to feel bad or be punished for being wiggly kids.  My kids don’t come home from school with a “frowny face” for not being able to sit still or wrestling with another kid.  I can give them the time they need to wiggle and move and wrestle.  For most little boys, and many little girls, this is normal and not something to be punished or medicated.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Our first day of homeschool EVER! The boys had some fun with math and trains practicing numbers, addition, and subtraction.

Now that I have a third grader, we spend more than 2 hours a day doing school, but it is still much shorter than the time his peers spend in public school.  He is starting to be able to work independently, for a short time, and I love to see how his brain is developing.  His attention to detail with science and history just astound me.  I am so honored to be able to spend this time with him and see him grow into the man he will become.

Another reason homeschooling fits our family is because it allows my kids to have a very special and tight bond.  Although my kids all have friends their ages, they are also very best friends with each other.  And although they do fight on occasion, as all kids do, for the most part, they get along very well.

It was the same for me and my siblings growing up.  If we weren’t friends with each other, who were we going to play with during the day?  Sure, we had other friends, but not “at school” with us.  I think the sibling bond is one that should be cherished and nurtured.  Siblings just tolerating each other, fighting constantly, and making each other miserable is just not acceptable.  We work hard to maintain that bond between them.  It is worth preserving.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Becoming Jr Rangers at Lassen Volcanic National Park

The final reason we have chosen to homeschool is because we can integrate our faith into our daily studies.  We open each day with a prayer, allow the kids to take turns praying, and practice Bible verses.  And although we don’t use Christian curriculum (more on that in my curriculum post coming soon), I make sure to integrate our faith whenever I can – which is often!  The opportunities abound to share the importance of God with our kids and I try to be intentional to take these opportunities when they come up.

So, were you homeschooled or is it something that you have chosen for your children?

I’d love to hear about what works best for your family.

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Hope Unfolding: How God met me in the midst of my miscarriage

Warning: This is a story of hope, but also of loss.  If you have recently experienced loss, my prayer for you is that my story brings encouragement and light to you. These are hard days, but our Jesus never leaves us in the midst of the pain. I am sharing my story in the hope that it will touch your life at this time.                                            ~Amy

Have you ever had something happen at just the right time that you know it had to have been God? A God-incidence, if you will? Maybe it was a song coming on the radio that you needed to hear?  Maybe it was a random encounter with a person that felt like a divine appointment? Or maybe it was an encouraging word or a book or blog post at just the right moment? It is times like these that feel like divine encounters.  Like God is reaching out to hand us a special gift or lift us out of a pit when we need Him most.  This happened to me recently.  I am completely blown away by how our Savior loves us each individually knowing exactly what we need before we even know that we need it.  Let me tell you my story…

I was very excited to get an advanced copy of one of my favorite blogger’s new book in the mail.  Becky Thompson of Scissortail Silk has a heart for encouraging mothers and God has used her to do just that for millions of women around the world in the last couple years through her blog, www.beckythompson.com. As a blogger, I was able to get an advanced copy of her new book, Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart, to review before it comes out on March 15th (read on to win a free copy for yourself!)  I was excited about this unexpected perk of being a blogger (I am still quite new to this) and was very happy to read the book since Becky is a wonderful writer. But, I had no idea of the divine appointment God had just placed in my hands as I pulled the book out of the mailbox.  I had no idea that I was about to experience one of the most tragic (yet very common) events that parents go through and that God had given me this book for that moment.  

A review of Hope Unfolding and a story of peace in the midst of loss... NatureAmy.com

The reality of trying to stage blog photos at my house – Oh well, isn’t she cute?

When I got the book in the mail a couple weeks ago, I had just come back from my first midwife appointment for my fourth pregnancy.  We were very excited about having a fourth kid and I was about 8-9 weeks pregnant.  However, the first appointment was disconcerting, not exciting, as I thought it would be.  The early ultrasound showed a little baby that was measuring about 3 weeks behind schedule, although there was a nice heartbeat.  The midwife was unconcerned, she thought I must have my dates off – I was concerned, I did think my dates were pretty accurate, but I thought she must have mismeasured.  I was to come back in two weeks to see how the baby had grown and remeasure…  

I tried not to worry too much and life went on… Meanwhile, this book arrived in the mail and I started to read it.  It is an easy read, beautifully written, emotional in parts, funny in others, and very transparent about life as a mother today.  Becky’s stories bring hope to all parts of motherhood, and as I read it, I thought of so many mothers that would get so much from this book as well.  It really is a book that any mother would love – I could not recommend it enough. (And I am so excited to be giving away a free copy – I know that God has someone in mind who really needs to receive it!)  I really enjoyed reading it, and I got a lot out of it, but I still had no idea the real reason God had placed this books in my hand until Saturday morning.Lock-Screen-2

Thursday night, I had started to spot a little, just a tiny bit of bleeding.  I was definitely concerned, but I had spotted in my first pregnancy (it is very common, especially in the first trimester) and it had been nothing.  Friday was my second son’s birthday and we had a family trip to the zoo planned.  He was ecstatic, to say the least, and he had been looking forward to this day for months.  I was so worried that I would miscarry on Friday and ruin his birthday.  I am so thankful that we had a beautiful family day together celebrating my second born.  I spotted a little more throughout the day, but still nothing much.  Saturday morning, though, I knew without a doubt that God was calling this baby home. 

I have a special chair in the corner of my bedroom (I am sitting in it now) that was a gift from God. Yes, I actually asked God for a chair, and it showed up with a “FREE” sign on it along the road later that same day – exactly the type of chair I had pictured in my mind.  The chair has become my prayer corner, my own personal “War Room”, and I was sitting in it, crying, and talking to God on Saturday morning.  I decided to finish reading Hope Unfolding – I was only pages from the end and the book was a welcome distraction.  I picked it up and I read these words, written by another mother, another mother who, like so many others, had gone through what I was experiencing right then.  

“Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to imagine Jesus there in the room with you right now. Yes, right where you are sitting. I want you to invite Jesus to come and be present with you. It can be as simple as a whispered, ‘Jesus.’… He comes to bring peace and healing and wholeness. That’s what He wants to do for your achy mommy heart right now.” (Hope Unfolding, p. 194)

And although Becky Thompson had no idea that she had written those words just for me, God did.  He made sure that I had a copy of that book in my hands, before it had even reached store shelves, because He loves me…  And just like that, Jesus was right there beside me, in my room, by my chair.  He always is with us, but it isn’t often that I feel His presence so clearly.  And in that moment, as He spoke love over me through the words of a book, I lifted up our precious little fourth baby and placed him or her into His loving nail scarred hands.  And I cried (and I’m crying now as I write this) knowing that this little one was being held now by my Jesus and that I would one day meet this precious soul in Heaven.  

And do you know what happened next?  This was a gift that I was not expecting, but I am oh so happy about – I was flooded with an unexplainable peace.  Over the next few hours my body finished miscarrying my little one, but I was not scared.  I was not in much pain, and it was a quiet and peaceful process at home.  I felt God’s presence with me and was filled with God’s peace.  My three children did not know what was going on, we had not told them about the pregnancy yet, but they knew I was not feeling well.  Their sweet presence, as well as my husband’s, throughout the afternoon was such a gift.  My 21 month old daughter, who is usually too busy to snuggle, wanted to be snuggled and loved on all afternoon and into the evening, which brought me such comfort, as well.  The process was strangely peaceful and full of hope, love, and grace.IG-Square_Print3

I had no idea when I asked for an advanced copy of Hope Unfolding to review in an email weeks before that God would use it as an opportunity to usher in His presence and shower me with love on that hard Saturday.  But God knew I needed it.  For that is who our Heavenly Father is – He is Love and He is Good. He is continually speaking love over us. He is always near to us. But, so often I am too busy to hear Him or notice His presence. Is it the same for you, my friend?  Have you taken a moment today to listen to your Father’s loving voice?  To feel His presence near you? Because He wants to speak love over you today, whatever you are going through right now… He wants to bring you peace in the midst of the storm that is raging around you because He loves you! All we need to do is ask.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:7-11


Enter to win your free copy of Hope Unfolding

THE GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Finally, you have a chance to win Becky Thompson’s new book Hope Unfolding for yourself! To watch a preview video about the book and read the first couple chapters for free, click here. It will be released on March 15th and I hope to have a copy in the winner’s hands as soon as is Amazon-possible!  This giveaway will be taking place on both Facebook and Instagram (@amylovesnature).  Please click over to either one of those outlets for a chance to win!  If you do not have either of these social media accounts, you can send me an email at amylovesnature [at] gmail [dot] com and I will put you on the list!  You may enter on any or all of these places for a chance to win!  While you are there, please make sure to like, follow, or subscribe to those accounts!  This giveaway will be closing at 6 pm Pacific Time, Friday, March 11, 2016.  You may enter up to once per day on each of these outlets to increase your chances!

This contest is open to all US Residents for a good old fashioned paperback copy of the book. (I am sorry, I can’t ship internationally at this time.)  I will send you a message on Facebook or Instagram or by email if you won and will send you your copy as soon as you send me your address!

If you are a mom, or if you know a mom, this book is for you.  It would be an amazing gift for someone (think baby shower?) and will likely be passed around to all your mommy friends – I already have a wait-list for my copy – LOL! The book will be shipped to you via Amazon as soon as it is available on March 15th.  I am praying for just the right mama to receive it – I know it will make a big impact in your life, just as it has for me.  Blessings to you!  Now, let’s get this giveaway started!

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To buy a copy of Becky’s book (or pre-order her next one) simply click on my Amazon Affiliate Link:

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When you feel like you don’t have a testimony…

For years I felt like my testimony was essentially worthless – it had no amazing story of redemption from horrific circumstances.  I was not healed from disease or freed from a life of addiction.  It seemed like everyone around me had amazing testimonies of God changing their lives drastically – but me? I had nothing special…

When it seems that everyone else has an amazing story to tell of how God saved them from disaster, but you've been a Christian forever... But you DO have a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness. -- NatureAmy.com

My sister Ella (left) and me (age 6)

I was raised in a Christian family and accepted Christ as a young girl.  I felt loved by everyone in my life and knew I was valued and special.  I never rebelled; I never was abused.  I loved Jesus and chose to go to a Christian college to study environmental science.  I met my Jesus following husband in the same degree program and we married soon after we graduated.

I knew I was incredibly blessed, but I still felt somehow less of a Christian because I didn’t have a “great” testimony.  So many others could bring a room to tears by God’s amazing transformation of their lives.  What did I have compared to that?

I believed the lie that my testimony was essentially worthless for years and I let the devil keep me from sharing it.  But thankfully, I was open to hear the truth. On my 30th birthday, I was at a women’s conference and we split into small groups to pray together.  Some of the women had shared their testimony and I mentioned how amazing they were and how I didn’t have anything like that.  What one wise woman shared with me really opened my eyes – she said I had a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness.  I had deep roots planted in the fertile soil of my family’s faithfulness to Christ.

I felt like I was seeing my story with new eyes – I had never thought about it that way before. Now, as a parent, I realize that I have a beautiful testimony – one that I wish for my own children.

When it seems that everyone else has an amazing story to tell of how God saved them from disaster, but you've been a Christian forever... But you DO have a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness. -- NatureAmy.com

My parents outside the Campus Advance for Christ Apartment they lived in and kept open 24 hours a day for students at their University of California campus.

“They will not build and another occupy;
They will not plant and another eat [the fruit].
For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people,
And My chosen [people] will fully enjoy [and long make use of] the work of their hands.
“They will not labor in vain,
Or bear children for disaster;
For they are the descendants of those blessed by the Lord,
And their offspring with them.”

Isaiah 65:22-23

God has been faithful and I cannot take credit for any of it.  His faithfulness is to my parents and grandparents – their faithfulness and prayers and the way they chose to live out their faith to everyone around them was the firm foundation (or the rich soil) where my life was built. I never went through the trials of life that so many children must walk through.  There is so much grace in this and a testimony to my parents’ wise choices. My parents worked very hard to build into me and my four siblings and taught us to love God and others and to care for creation. They taught me that I was a valuable and beautiful daughter – not just to them, but also to the King of Kings!

When it seems that everyone else has an amazing story to tell of how God saved them from disaster, but you've been a Christian forever... But you DO have a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness. -- NatureAmy.com

Generations of faithfulness – my grandmother, my sister Ella, and me as a newborn.

Don’t get me wrong, I have not had a perfect life and I am far from perfect – although thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, God sees me that way! And thank you, Lord – my testimony is not worthless. I am not a boring story of “raised a Christian, always a Christian.” I am a testimony of Christ’s faithfulness which is exactly the testimony I hope for my own children.

Will this be my children’s testimony as well?  I can’t say – although as their mom I want them to make wise choices and not be scarred by the sin of the world – but that may not be God’s plan for their lives. God uses us in different ways and uses our hurts and scars and past lives to build into others and show His power. It is amazing how the Creator molds broken things into beautiful masterpieces!

No matter your testimony, remember that you have one and that it is powerful and beautiful no matter how God brought you to Himself. Don’t believe Satan’s lies that your story is not as powerful as others. It is your story and tells a unique love story of God’s pursuit of your heart, no matter if it occurred at age five or 45 or 90. You are valuable and you are loved by the one who hung the stars in the sky.  It is His desire to love you and be with you for eternity and that is something to be very excited about!

 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  1 Peter 3: 15-16

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