Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Touch of Light *Photo Challenge*

I have been building up the courage to enter a contest on I heart faces for a while. So here it is. Rachel. With a *Touch of Light* in her hair and a smudge of dirt on her face, acquired from playing hard. I thought about removing the dirt, but then thought better, for it paints a much more honest tale of childhood. Rachel. Taking a rest from playing hard.

Go and visit I HEART FACES for more wonderful entries, tutorials and tip!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pain in the offering.

Friendship. We are under the illusion at times that friends should be people whom are easy for us to get along, our minds work the same way, we laugh at the same things, we cry over the same movies, we parent our children the same way, we enjoy the activities and generally, it comes with ease, other than the small tiffs that are quickly made up.

I am here to tell you different though. The friendships that challenge you, are the ones that bless you more, make you a better person and change lives.

I have amazing friends. Not everyone of them is a person I personally would have chosen to be close friends with. However, God told me to pursue a friendship with them anyway.

We came from different walks of lives, our temperaments are at odds with each other, according to many experts and often with have little in common.

What we do have to common is this: We are created, human beings made by a loving God, whom knows each of our names, whom knows the number of hairs on our heads, who knows our innermost beings and loves each of us, more passionately than a mother loves her child.

This draws me to one conclusion. That every person we encounter, each made in God's image, can teach us more about God, and that every person is worth spending time with and getting to know. No matter how hard it is, how much it hurts and how confusing it can be at times.

Being true, life - long friend requires brutal honesty, sharing our hearts, our lives and becoming vulnerable. Which inevitably means, a friend, has the tools, to bring you much pain. Someone you do not care about, who you have closed out from your heart, whom you have put walls up to stop them getting too close, cannot hurt you the way someone can who you let it.

It also means, that when you are close to that person, you will suffer their pain also. When two minds and hearts, are tuned it, the level of empathy and compassion runs so deep.

It takes YEARS to cultivate friendships, a lot of trials and tears.

When you first meet a new friend, it's like the first year of marriage, in some ways. You are filled with excitement, it's warm and fuzzy, it's exciting, you delight in having a new companion to share with and to tell stories, you connect with.

Pretty soon, one of you fails the other, and you FALL. Fall hard from the pedestals you put each other from.

It hurts. Your dreamy, wonderful friendship is in ruins.

I entreaty you though. Don't give up. Don't walk away. No matter how much it hurts to work through it. Because when you get through this first hurdle and all the ones to come, your friendship will become richer and more vibrant than before.

When you embrace the things that are challenging about a person, their weaknesses, their failures as well as their talents, gifts and strengths. This is where beauty is found.

Beauty that in how Christ loves us, we love our friends. God died for the very people who despised and crucified Him.

Beauty in walking with someone as they battle the darkness in their lives, speaking love and truth into their lives even when they have nothing to give you in return.

The beauty when you, feel weak and unlovable, and a friend comes and sacrifices time and tears to serve you.

Lately I have experienced some topsy turvy friendships, where it is somewhat harder in the beginning, because the way we communicate, think and feel is at such different ends of the spectrum, that even understanding each other in the beginning is hard, and somewhat painful. You kinda wanna give up and invest yourself in a friendship that has an easier and quicker feel good factor.

Don't give up on these relationships. Don't litmus test people and decide whether or not they are worth your time. These are the friendships that often, transcend all reason and understanding, and bring true glory to God.

The people whom are your polar opposites are the people that challenge you to challenge yourself.

The people whom at first it seems like you always misunderstand each other and accidentally hurt each others feelings - when as lovers of Christ - we battle through the pain - there is joy to be found.

I entreaty you... let Jesus sanctify you through friendships. Even when they hurt. For there is pain in the offering, but the joy my friends, that is found, is worth every single tear.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Homeschooling in the Brown home, for the first year!

I have had so many questions about how we are adjusting to homeschooling Esther through Kindergarten and what curriculum we are using. So what better to do than blog about it!

We've laughed, we've cried. I have succeeded wonderfully and I have wondered if it's too late to enroll in public school, but overall, it has been a blessing so far.

It deed, it has been quite a natural transition, not especially traumatic, in that we have always nurtured a learning environment in our home and lives, and the children have adjusted well to increased pace.

When do you find time?

I am very blessed in the my husband works a slightly later shift. I do miss him very much at the dinner table and when doing bedtimes, but in the mornings he puts himself at our disposal to help make sure our home school goals are achieved.

However, the way it plays out, due to having one car, often one of us has to go and do something, like grocery shop, go to a meeting in the morning. On days like this, I wait until Joel's nap time, which is somewhat unpredictable in time and length.

I also try to keep things simple on days I know before hand will be like this, and just do our Five in a Row curriculum, which really requires being done 5 consecutive days. All the other curriculum is pretty flexible.

Plus, the nature of teaching one child, one on one, means that lessons go by really quick, and even with doing all the different subjects, it's rarely more than 2 1/2 hours total throughout the day.

How does your daughter handle learning from you?

So far, we have had no problem, as long as I am patient, and read her ques well - tiredness, frustration, overwhelmed etc and respond accordingly with compassion and empathy, and find a way to work through it with her, we have had little to no conflict. She is eager to do her lessons and is learning well.

I know my child well, and have had 5 years of learning her strengths, weaknesses, passions and learning style and I am loving this opportunity to get to know her more.

What curriculum are you using?

Right now we use several. At our core we use Five in a Row, which is a literature based curriculum.

Each week your studies are focused on one book which you read at the beginning of each lesson. Each lesson from history, geography to math, science and language arts stem from this.

Math - we are supplementing with 'Saxon Math'. So far I love this, it is 100% scripted and Esther does really well with it. It requires little to no planning on my part, other than a quick overview of the lesson before hand.

Phonics - We are using 'Explode the Code', this is not scripted, but gives lots of suggestions, workbooks, activities. It is a perfect pace for Esther and really easy to use.

Handwriting - We are using Handwriting without Tears. It is wonderfully genius! Esther's handwriting already impresses me after just a few lessons, it is very easy for the child to understand, and really is handwriting without tears, with lots of fun ideas, songs etc.

What do you do for PE and social interaction?

Esther is attending soccer twice a week, also at home the girls have quite a love for learning ballet, so we have been using a book that introduces basic positions and famous ballets.

Socially, we are heading to the Girl Scout rally this weekend for her to join a troop. In addition we are at church frequently, out and about often at parks and museums which pose the opportunity for her to play with other children.

I had hoped to find a home school group to join, but so far I have had no luck!


It is easy to fall into the trap of viewing homeschooling as a burden, another thing to accomplish in a long list of never ending 'things' a mum has to do. It requires discipline, routine and patience, not of which are my forte.

On the other hand, it makes our home life so dynamic and rich, it is helping me get to know myself more, to understand my children more and gain more rapport and connection with them.

It is teaching me to pray more and rely more and more on God's strength and provision.

It is truly a sanctifying experience.

I love that at the end of the day, I have something to show in my little folder where I have been storing Esther's work, that I can already, look back and review progress.

I delight in partaking in their learning experience, seeing the wonder and excitement of their discoveries of the world around them or when they achieve something new.

In summary, I think I can say that so more, I feel like homeschooling is giving our family a more full and vibrant life, one more in tune with each other, our world and God.

To finish - I really could NOT achieve what we have already without God, He is my constant source of strength, patience and encouragement.