It’s About Time: Tips for Homeschool Schedules

IMG_20180626_100040268Schedules. Organization. For some people it comes naturally, others not so much. When it comes to scheduling your homeschool day and year I’ve found some organization is necessary to keep things running smoothly. This can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re new to homeschooling. Even those who’ve done it for years need to change things up from time to time. Today I’m going to give a few ideas to help in the area of homeschool schedules.

After eleven years of homeschooling I’ve tried several different approaches. Of course, in the last eleven years our family has gone through different seasons of life. I think that makes a big difference. Your schedule will be as individualized as your family. What’s right for your friend may not be right for you.

1. Come up with family values, goals and vision.

Before even thinking about a schedule it’s a good idea to come up with why your family is homeschooling. What do you want you and your children to get out of this? What is important to your family? What kind of values do you want your family to have? Ask yourself what kind of a family you want to be then spend your time doing that. When you lay the ground work ahead of time, by coming up with your values, goals and vision as a family, it will be easier to know what to say yes to and what to say no to. Also, remember that as your family grows your schedule will change too. Be sure to revisit your family values, goals and vision and see if that still fits your family. Every semester I look at the schedule to see what, if any, changes need to be made.

2. The yearly schedule

When I first started homeschooling I went with the schedule the public schools have. Each year, as our family grew and changed, I customized it a little more. It was so freeing to realize I didn’t have to have the same schedule as the public schools. Feel free with your homeschool to do whatever works best for your family. Japanese children start their school year in April, take off six weeks from mid-July through August then go back to school in September to begin their second semester. Their school year ends in March. Talk about out-of-the-box from the American way of thinking. My only advice is check with your state laws to see if there are boundaries already set in the law. Otherwise make it your own.

Every year I pray over our school year. I believe the Lord helps me figure out IMG_20180626_111040516_HDRwhat works best for us. Two years ago I had an idea to have a six week-one week schedule. I school for six weeks then take a week off. School for six more than take one off. At summer break we take six weeks off.

Last year I found out that some families do the six week-one week schedule because God created the world in six days and for one day He rested. By schooling this way we are following the same pattern of work six, rest one. I thought that was super cool because we are a family that observes the Sabbath. (For more on how we observe the Sabbath see my post from Dec. 2013 called A Day Off https://shiningtheloveofjesus.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/a-day-off/) This falls right in line with our values. I didn’t realize this when we started it. I totally believe the Lord was guiding me in this. How cool!

3. Summer and Winter breaks

IMG_20180626_095820050Many parents see their children forgetting what they learned in school over summer and Christmas breaks. Because of that homeschool families vary widely on how long they take for breaks, if they take one at all. I also noticed this forgetful trend in my kids, especially in summer. Then I spent several weeks reviewing everything at the beginning of the school year. That was not working for me. So I tried year-round school for awhile with only a couple of weeks for a break. That didn’t work for me either. I found I needed more of a break. So now we have a six week summer break.

If you read my last post you know two of my kids are dyslexic. I really struggled with taking six weeks off. It seemed so long and the kids have worked so hard to get where they are. I’d hate for them to go backwards in their learning. Two things put my mind at ease. First, when I did this last year I actually found that my son, who has more severe dyslexia, did awesome when we got back to school. That first week back it’s like his mind was so well rested it jumped into action. He did better on his timed drills than usual and he was ready to get back to learning. I believe all minds need to rest. Not to mention mama needs the break. We are not robots. God set up rest for a reason. He believes in it so much He made it as one of the commandments and He modeled it for us in the seventh day of creation, although He didn’t need to rest. Second, I pray about how to set up the school year and if this is the way the Lord is leading me I’m going to trust Him. He knows our needs.

I will say during the summer I have the kids read a story to me, not every day but for sure every week. They also do some math. I try to make it fun during the summer. Also we do a little review at the beginning of the school year but it’s much less with only six weeks off than it was with three months off.

When we start school again I work the kids in slowly. Whichever child needsIMG_20180626_105226051 the most attention I start with first and just with the basic subjects: Math, Reading and whatever subject he or she is weakest in or would like to spend more time on. The next week I add another child with the same idea on subjects and so on until all the children are back in the books. I do it that way for my sake just as much as for theirs. I used to have all of them start on the same day but I found I was getting very anxious about it. So much so that for at least a week before, my heart would beat weird and I’d feel dizzy. It was ridiculous. Since I’ve worked them in slowly it has also helped me relax. It helps me to remember God has equipped me to do this. We are going to be fine.

For Christmas break we have done different things as well. We’ve taken off just Christmas through New Years but I found I wasn’t enjoying the holiday like I wanted to with my kids. We’ve also gone to light schooling, just basic subjects and half days with the text books. Then Christmas crafts, baking or other Christmas stuff the other half of the day. That was nice because I got to enjoy the preparations for Christmas. A couple years ago we started making gifts for each other. These were nice homemade gifts. You can catch a glimpse of them from my post Homemade Christmas https://shiningtheloveofjesus.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/homemade-christmas/ After Thanksgiving we focused on the projects. I think they played some math games on the computer to keep their skills fresh and read me short stories otherwise it was just the projects. That year the kids learned to sew, use the saw, use the hot glue gun and think of others. It really surprised me how much we all liked it and how much they learned. It wasn’t text-book learning but they still learned.

4. The daily schedule

Our daily homeschool schedule varies every year. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way of doing it but there are some tips I’ve found helpful. The first class we have is Bible class. This remains the same every year. All the kids do this class together. While it can be challenging to do such a wide age range at once it’s been good. (My oldest and youngest are eight years apart.) I enjoy the challenge (most of the time) and the younger ones pick up more than you think they would.

IMG_20180626_110609986Next, if I have a younger child, say preschool through 1st grade, I noticed it was best for me to start the school day with them. They kept interrupting to get my attention if I made them wait. When I start with them first they get one-on-one time with mom and the rest of the day they obeyed me better.

When I had children that napped, I would wait until that child napped to do the schooling with my older children that required more of my time or attention. You know, one of those subjects that’s more difficult for them to understand. Once my kids outgrew naps I’d take note when my patience is the strongest and tackle those difficult subjects then. I put the easy stuff at the end of the day when I’m tapped out.

A few years ago I took the summer to notice the natural patterns of the kids. Who slept in? Who was up and ready to go first? I schooled the early birds first and give the others time to wake up and get moving. Otherwise the schedule gets slowed down for everyone when they have to wait for a sibling. Is there one child who gets crabbier before lunch than the others? Wait to school them until after lunch, at least with subjects that take more time and brain power. Our kitchen is right next to our schoolroom so if the kids just have a review page in Math I have them do their Math review sheet at the same time while I make lunch. That way I can pop in on them and help them when needed. That was a time saver for me. If you can clump a few of your kids together to do school that’s a good idea too. Just make sure they are getting the individualized attention they need from you.

A few last thoughts.

My last and most important tip is to pray about your schedule. Whether it’s the daily or yearly schedule. God knows what peeks and valleys your family will go through this year. He knows what you should hunker down on and what you should not include. Remember there are seasons to all things. Maybe it will work for you to go to a co-op for a few years but there may come a time when that season is over. If the Lord’s points you in a direction be faithful to follow it.

A schedule is a tool used to help achieve your homeschool goals. It helps you stay focused and shows you your next task. It is not a chain to bind you or a law you must follow. Stay dedicated to schooling your kids but stay flexible. We all know life doesn’t always go as planned. Have realistic expectations. When I do my daily schedule I never put times. Just which student gets which subject. The clock does not rule the schedule, you do.

God bless you on your homeschool journey.

Advertisements

Our Journey with Dyslexia

When I began my homeschooling journey I had no idea all that it would entail. I had no idea how hard it would be. I had no idea how beautiful it would be. There was no way to prepare me for how it would grow me, for how it would shape me. I figured it would shape my children, but me… I’m blown away by how it has formed us closer as a family. How it has revealed gifts in me I didn’t even know were there. The challenges we’ve faced have made this journey even sweeter. It’s through disappointments and set backs that you enjoy the progress even more. Life becomes more about celebrating each step forward rather than darting to the destination.

One of the challenges we’ve faced in our homeschooling journey is dyslexia. This is a topic I’ve become passionate about although I haven’t talked about it much. I want to encourage the parents who have children who are dealing with dyslexia. It doesn’t matter whether your kids are in public, private, or home school. I think all parents would agree they want the best for their kids. Watching a child struggle in school is hard. You want to help but may not always know how. Let me just encourage you that there is help out there. Don’t be afraid to use it. You don’t have to be on this journey alone. There are organizations, websites, and Facebook pages set up to help parents and children. I’m still trying to figure some of this out myself. Before I get much further let me tell you a little about my journey.

I have four children. I started homeschooling my oldest daughter when she was in kindergarten. By second grade I could tell she was struggling some with her reading. Skipping the small sight words was one of the biggest clues for me. Yet somehow she managed to work it out. Grammar was an awful subject for us. She REALLY didn’t like grammar. I tried many approaches of teaching it to her. Still she struggled with this subject. Spelling was also not a strong subject. It wasn’t horrible mind you. Like I said, she managed, but I knew in that mama part of me that something was a little off. I suspected dyslexia but had no idea what to do about it. So I did nothing. After all, she did okay.

Then came time to start schooling my second child. We were still in abc tileskindergarten when I noticed the struggle with him. Letter recognition and knowing the sound for each letter was much more difficult for him. I tried a couple reading programs. Again I suspected dyslexia. So here I was facing the same obstacle I faced with my daughter but with a more aggressive presence with him. This time I had to do something.

By this time I was feeling like a horrible teacher and mom. Talk about your double dose of guilt. Thankfully I’m also a praying woman. I pray for my kids but I especially douse them in prayer around the time we begin a new school year. I lean in closely to listen to the Holy Spirit as He teaches me about each of my children and how I can parent them and teach them better. There is no one better than the Holy Spirit to have on your parenting and educational team. He designed each one of these children and knows their future, as well as their past and present. I believe it was the Lord’s guidance that lead me to an event I found on Facebook.

It was October, which is Dyslexia awareness month. A woman named Susan Barton came to my area to talk about Dyslexia. My husband and I were very interested. We couldn’t find a babysitter but we were still determined to get there. So all six of us slipped into the back row of this filled room, armed with busy bags. The woman began sharing about how she got involved in helping people with dyslexia. She shared symptoms and showed what reading was like for dyslexics. As I listened I had a wide range of emotions. Relief, I was so glad I was not alone. Inspiration, I felt like we would be okay. Aha moments as I realized I’ve struggled with a mild case of dyslexia myself, especially as a child, but as an adult I’ve learned how to deal with it. It was also interesting to hear dyslexia runs in families. My husband also realized he has had dyslexia but never knew it. His has been on the more severe side. It was all making sense.

But now what…Now I had the information but what do I do with it. I really, really hoped this talk wasn’t just a gimmick to get us to buy her curriculum. At the same time I was desperate for a reading and spelling program that worked. I was pleased to see she gave several curriculum options, not just hers. She didn’t even talk much about her curriculum at all. After praying and researching we decided to buy the Barton Reading and Spelling and I’m so glad I did. It has made a world of difference in both my kids with dyslexia. I love their approach so much I decided to teach my other kids with it too. (I know my third child doesn’t have dyslexia but the verdict is still out on the fourth.) The way they teach spelling just makes sense. She explains why Noah Webster made the rules to spell American words the way he did. It’s been great. If there’s one gripe I have about it it’s that some of the content is to wordy and adult like. I prefer more family oriented (and Christ centered) content in my curriculum but I just ended up writing many of my own sentences and stories that follow the rules my kids have learned.

I am so, SO glad now that I decided to homeschool my children. God knew the way my kids are wired. He knew this learning challenge would come up. Yet, He has helped us (and is still helping us) work through it. I have to admit that teaching dyslexic children has been time consuming and at times draining. I make accommodations for them like doing much of their schoolwork orally. While this has taken a lot of time and energy it has also created a tight bond with my kids. They know I’m on their side. I’m here for them and cheering them on. It has been well worth the time and energy to see my kids progressing.

I know not everyone has the option to homeschool, but if it can work for your family it could be a great plan. Most of the time moms and dads know their kids better than anyone. I’ve heard All About Reading is a good program too. Be sure whatever curriculum you use is Orton-Gillingham based. If homeschooling isn’t an option for you I would suggest getting an Orton-Gillingham curriculum and working with your child on weekends, evening and school breaks. There are also tutors that could help. I believe each state has some sort of Dyslexia Association that could point you to the tutors in your area. Susan Barton has a lot of resources on her website at https://bartonreading.com and at http://www.dys-add.com/. I highly recommend checking it out.

Whatever you do please, please do NOT tell your child they are lazy, stupid, or not working hard enough. People with dyslexia have to work five times harder than their peers to get the same grade. Please take the time to understand how their brains are functioning. Also know that things are not as bad as they may seem. I remember when I realized we were facing dyslexia I wanted to cry for my kids. Now I realize the gifts that come with this as well. As often as I can I show my kids successful people that have dyslexia. There are A LOT of them. Henry Winkler (who has a great series of books made just for kids with dyslexia called Here’s Hank) and Steven Spielberg have videos on line were they talk about their dyslexia. Many comedians and sports players as well. Also several of the cast of Shark Tank. Look it up, you may be amazed what you find.

Dyslexia is not a disease or an excuse to give up. It’s helpful to understand your child. You just need to learn how to work with how your child learns. Once you do you will find some amazing and beautiful gifts that are part of the package. Don’t give up on them and don’t give up on yourself.

My last tip is the most important. Pray for your kids and their education. Pray for doors to open and for the Lord to guide you on this journey. He will be faithful. Remember, He loves your kids more than you do. He wants them to succeed too. If you’re not a praying person you could still give it a try. It couldn’t hurt.

I know many of you have your own story about learning challenges. I see you on social media and my heart goes out to you. I hope my story has made you feel a little less alone and that you find some encouragement. I hope you’ve found some of my tips helpful. This is really only the tip of the iceberg for me on this subject but we’ll save that for another day. Until then, thanks for reading.

Wrestling with God

8a4fb264534d6d33387c6d8b5ea7dbd9

I’ve come across some situations in the last few months where my heart was unsettled. I wasn’t sure why…I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was a check in my spirit that I couldn’t deny. I would think and ponder, usually in the quiet hours of the night when the rest of my house was sleeping. During the day my mind would wander as I mulled over my situation. Who was right? Who was wrong? What do I do? I had few answers. Only the same questions circling around like a revolving door in my mind.

Finally one day I felt the Lord speak to my heart that He wanted me to wrestle with Him. All my questions and ponderings, bring it before Him and work it out with Him. He wasn’t upset that I was searching and stirring, He just wanted to be a part of it. He doesn’t want me to leave Him sitting on the sidelines while I stress out over how to handle something. He’s a loving Father and wants to guide me, as any loving Father would. Then I remembered a patriarch in the Bible.

In Genesis 32:22-32 we see Jacob wrestling with God. The scene opens with Jacob afraid for his life and the lives of his family because his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him many years ago, is coming to meet him with 400 men. I love that the scene opens this way. It showed me that I don’t have to run or hide my circumstances from God. Even when I’m in a mess…even if it’s a mess I made, the Lord will be there to help. So Jacob is afraid and has just prayed for help. (Coming to the Lord when you’re afraid is always a good plan.) Jacob then gets this great idea to shower his brother with gifts in hopes they will appease Esau. Then, when Jacob is alone, God shows up and God and Jacob wrestle all through the night.

Wrestling with God all through the night seems a bit odd but think of it this way. In the nighttime hours, when all the world is blanketed with quiet in rest, that is the time many of us wrestle with problems, worries and fears. During the day we are often busy and have noise around us. It’s not until the stillness of night that we finally stop and really pay attention to what needs to addressed. Our anxious thoughts go around and around in our head until finally we ask the Lord for help and begin to dialogue with Him. Laying out our heart and getting the Lord’s perspective. This is the modern day wrestling with God.

As Jacob wrestled he continued to ask the Lord to bless Him and he got what He asked for. It may be hard to see the blessing because what most of us see is that Jacob got a limp. Where’s the blessing in that? Let’s look a little closer. The Lord gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which means he struggles with God. Not only a new name but a new identity. No longer was he known as deceiver (which is what Jacob means) but now he is one who struggles with God and men and has overcome. Now that’s a new identity that gives you some confidence.

As for me, I have continued to bring my questions before the Lord along with the heartache and offenses that have weighed me down. I have done my struggling in front of the Lord and He has been faithful to show me scriptures I need, speak through others and give me peace. My questions aren’t all answered yet but I’m so glad I’m not wrestling through these situations alone.

 

e088d212e15d86a424b7a808c828c3a5

 

d117c1cfaef715eda59e06c1c0937491

The Graduation Speech You’ve Never Heard – But Should

All the graduations I’ve been to are highlighting the same group of people. Those on honorable mention, those who’ve received a scholarship, those who’ve been given some other type of award. While those people I’m sure are deserving of their recognition that’s not what this speech is for.

No, I want to put the spotlight on a few other groups of people because walking across this stage to receive your diploma is no small feat. The journey it took to get here is different for everybody. Ideally you had support of a parent or family member, a teacher and friends too. Some have not had the support they needed yet pushed through.

You may have had a difficult family situation that seemed to push against your goals, dreams and future plans. Going through life with little to no support is tough but you did it. Kudos to you. Along with your diploma you have gained the ability to persevere in difficult circumstances.

Perhaps somewhere along this journey you’ve had some health obstacle that stood in your way of being here today. But you’re here and the strength you’ve gained is far more than any gym can offer. Not to mention the appreciation you now have for your health.

You may have had a learning disability that has made learning more of a challenge. As a mother of dyslexic children, I have seen the struggles daily. I have seen how much harder my children with dyslexia have had to work than those who learning comes much easier for. I’ve also seen amazing things come out of those same children who have struggled. They earned every inch of the IMG_20180601_210541842milestones they’ve made. They persevered in the face of struggles. Instead of backing down because things didn’t come easy, they dug their feet in and continued to gain ground. No matter what grade they received on that lesson they learned that tackling your obstacle face on is of great value. If you are in that category, hats off to you. You’ve earned your right to be here.

Some simply hate school. Just showing up to school was victory in itself. You didn’t give into the temptation to stay home. You fought the battle over and over. You showed up and you won. Nicely done!

The unseen rewards of unmentioned accomplishments are often greater than the awards we do mention. I want to recognize those of you who had struggles and tough challenges to get here. In some way that’s all of us. There are some that have had to fight harder than others. It’s to those I’d like to honor by mentioning you by name…but you probably wouldn’t want me to, so I won’t. But you know who you are. So as you walk across this stage to receive your diploma, do so with pride. The treasure of jewels in you has only begun. Keep digging. Keep pushing past the struggles. You can do greater things than you ever knew.

God Will Not Give Up On You

God will not give up on you.

 

Maybe you’ve had a marriage that’s failed.

God will not give up on you.

 

Maybe you’ve had a parent say you’re hopeless or worthless

God will not give up on you

 

Maybe you feel abandoned by friends

God will not give up on you

 

Maybe a pastor or church leader has left you feeling hurt, broken, or alone

God will not give up on you

 

Maybe you’ve given up on yourself

God will not give up on you

 

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will go ahead of you. He will be with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Deuteronomy 31:8

The Four Million Dollar House

My Facebook friend posted a link to a house that was for sale. I normally don’t pay much attention to those since I’m not in the market for a house, but the four million plus price tag peeked my curiosity. I began scrolling through the pictures admiring this beautiful home that seemed to have jumped out of my unspoken dreams into the computer in front of me. An open stairway to greet you as you walk in the front doors, large windows opened up the front of the house as sunlight poured in, a gorgeous spacious kitchen, a home movie theater, a pool and pool house, a study – how I wold love my own study to write in- and a beautiful view of the rolling fields all around you. Everything about the house was beautiful to me.

Soon my kids were gathered around me oohing and awing at this house. We figured out it’s tucked away back off one of the roads I take to church. It’s far enough off the road you have to look for it. It was cool to know this place is not only real but visible in our normal routine – like a hidden gem on a beaten path.

It’s been months now since we discovered the house existed and we don’t say much about it, but we know it’s there. One day recently on the way home from church my daughter asked, “Mom, did I miss the four million dollar house.” After getting my bearings on where we were compared to where it was I said, “Yes honey, we passed it already.” Then I smiled because I realized it’s still special to her. Within seconds after answering my daughter, the Lord firmly dropped into my heart, “You mean more to me than the four million dollar house.” Then my spirit began recalling scripture that says how we are the temple of the Lord (II Cor. 6:16). He has made us His home, His dwelling place (Eph. 2:22).

He knows every nook and cranny about us. He knows our most stunning features, He knows where we are broken and need repair. He knows where our foundations lie. Yet through all this He loves us so much. We are precious ca08cce2805329563d16ea1f7f51b716to Him. He treasures us (Deut. 14:2). He doesn’t care that we may not be covered in the finest of materials like this four million dollar house. We are perfect and beautiful to Him just as we are.

As I pondered this in my heart it cemented in the truth He just told me. I am loved by the King of Kings. The King who could live in a palace or a castle or a four million dollar home. Yet he choose to live in me because I mean more to Him than any of those places. Wow!!! As that revelation sank in I could feel love sweeping over me.

My prayer is that we all come to this wonderful revelation of how much He loves us. “Oh, how He loves us” is more than a cliche or a song. When we let the truth of this sink in it can change the trajectory of our lives.

Unanswered Questions

Kids ask a lot of questions. “Can I have a drink of water?” “Can I have that toy?” “Can we play outside?” “Why?” There’s the ever popular “What’s for dinner.” and the ever dreaded, “Where do babies come from?” Then they enter school and there’s questions about homework and about the world around us. As they get older the questions get harder.

Some days I get very annoyed with all the questions. A mom just needs a little peace and quiet from time to time. But when it comes down to it, I want my kids to ask questions. I want them to wonder about things and learn. I want them to be thinking. I want them to continue communicating with me. I want them to ask other people questions to learn how to get to know and interact with others. I want them to ask God questions believing He will answer.

For Bible class we are going through the Gospel of Luke. My kids are at different levels in reading and I want them to hear the Word straight from the Bible. Not a children’s storybook version but straight from the Word of God. We stop at each section and talk about it before reading more. Recently we came across some questions I didn’t have answers for. I tried different versions of the Bible and we even asked our “school principal”, a.k.a. my husband, if he had any further knowledge but we were stumped. This happened two days in a row.

I began to feel incapable of teaching them the Bible. I was afraid I’d run into more questions I couldn’t answer. Truth is it was good for my kids to see that I don’t know everything and that I struggle with some of the same things they do.

Having faith in Jesus doesn’t mean you’ll always understand. It’s in the unanswered questions that our faith will grow. After all, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Even though I don’t understand why some people are healed and some are not, I still have faith that God heals. Even though I don’t understand why certain things happen in this world, I still believe God is in control. Even though I can’t answer all my kids’ questions I still know God has called me to be their mom and teach them of His ways. I will do this imperfectly but the Lord knew that and He’s not shaken. It’s through our imperfections that we can teach volumes more than we can when we have a tidy answer for everything. Answering with “I don’t know” takes humility and honesty. Being at peace with all your I don’t know’s takes faith in a loving God who has everything in His hands.

So my kids can bring on their questions. Together we’ll learn and grow. And if my answer is “I don’t know” I’m at peace with that.

b745485fad748d8cbc8ef2bdcfd348f8

Champions of Faith

beauty for ashes

For three years I’ve been involved in the women’s ministry at my church that meets on Tuesday mornings. As much as I have enjoyed the speakers there’s one thing I’ve enjoyed more than anything. That’s getting to know the ladies.

One day as I was in my quiet time I was thinking of the ladies at Tuesday mornings when the Lord gave me a revelation. It’s not the speakers or leaders that are the heroes of the church. “Instead”, the Lord said, “look among the peoples faces. The woman who is battling breast cancer, the mom who’s elementary-aged son just finished up chemo, the wife who lost her husband, the woman committed to her marriage and family on the tails of her husband committing an affair…those are the heroes. Those who look hard circumstances in the face and fall to their knees asking the Lord to walk with them through amazingly difficult circumstances – those are the real heroes. Champions of the faith.

Each of those situations I just mentioned are real women. To those and the many who I couldn’t mention, I give them honor. God has not forgotten them. He’s eye is ever watchful on them. He is so proud of them and I am honored to have sat among them. Learning their stories. Walking with them as they press through. Watching the beautiful transformation of women as they journey in faith. Some just beginning, others digging in for the long haul. It has been my honor to get to know some and a privilege to walk side-by-side with a small handful.

 

Fire Lanes

It was dinnertime. Our tummies were empty but we were full of excitement. After a day of traveling, my family and I had finally reached our vacation destination. As we pulled into the restaurant parking lot we couldn’t help but notice the bright red lines painted on the pavement. These fire lanes were marked so well it called you to attention. The boundaries were very clearly set. In case the bright painted lines weren’t enough there were signs warning you to stay out of the fire lanes.

Where I’m from there may be a sign about keeping a spot clear but nothing that grabs your attention like this. As we explored this area the next week we noticed it wasn’t just the restaurant that did this but everywhere we went. I actually liked that they were so definitive about it.

We should be as fierce on protecting our space with the Lord. Clearly defining when we will have time set aside to listen, talk to and learn about the Lord. Then boldly protecting and honoring that time. But instead of putting out fires, we’ll be using that space to continuously fan our fire with the Lord.

1d03a0b9b50cb5507ac1bdd3ba78296b

Restored

I awoke one morning in early spring 2016 sitting up in bed in a coughing fit from a lingering cold I had. There was terrible pain from my lower back shooting down my leg and into my foot. It was a challenge to get ready that morning. My left leg felt like it was drawing up. By the afternoon I laid on my bed where I stayed for several days. I moved slowly because the pain was intense.

For the next eight weeks between rest, chiropractor visits, and pain management I was slowly able to resume my daily routine. I wasn’t 100% though. My left calf, top of my foot and some of my toes were left numb. I could feel my back wasn’t stable, like something could pop if I wasn’t careful. So I was careful when sitting and moving. I found a new normal and babied my back.

For the next two years I struggled with lower back problems. There was a handful of times I’d pull it out bad enough to lay me flat on my back on the couch for a few weeks. I became compassionate to those who have to live with ongoing illness. The fear of getting hurt was almost as bad as the back pain. I prayed for two years for God to heal me completely, including regaining the feeling in my leg and foot. I also became more aware of what a gift it is to walk and move without pain, to scurry through the grocery store and take care of my kids. All those things we often take for granted, I am now very thankful for.

In spring 2018 my husband, kids and I were taking a family vacation to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We were all very excited but I was also nervous. I was told it was a ten hour drive and sitting is what seemed to bother my lower back the most. I decided I just needed to trust God. It was going to be okay. Still, I was nervous. The Lord told me before we left that He was going to heal me in Texas. At the time I wasn’t sure what He was going to heal, but I was willing to take whatever healing He wanted to give me.

We were all so excited for our trip that when the day finally arrived to leave we all jumped out of bed a couple hours earlier than normal, full of energy and smiles. Our van was packed in record time and we were ready to roll. About two hours into the drive my back was aching. I shifted a lot in my chair to find the most comfortable spot. As we continued so did the ache which shifted to pain. When I stood and walked around I was fine, but sitting really irritated my lower back. By Oklahoma I was really hurting. I had been praying the whole time, asking the Lord to heal me. I texted a friend to pray also. All the while I tried to not let my family know what pain I was in. I knew once I got to our hotel I could lay down awhile and I’d be okay. I wasn’t going to ruin this trip for them.

It was dinnertime and we were all getting hungry. Our trip had gone past the ten hours we were told it would take and we were still not in Texas yet. I was eagerly waiting for the Texas border while looking up on our phones to see where we could stop for dinner. Suddenly I realized my back wasn’t hurting anymore. “Yay! I’m going to enjoy this moment of relief.” I wasn’t sure if this was only a moment or if it would last longer. I did recall the Lord telling me He was going to heal me. Is this it?

Shortly after crossing Texas border I announced to my family, “I just want to give a shout out to God right now because my lower back has been hurting on this drive but it doesn’t hurt anymore!” It didn’t hurt the rest of the day. It didn’t hurt the whole time we were in Texas. It didn’t even hurt the twelve b64478ed3961651ae79597f9b31867edhour drive back home! Praise God!!! Not only was it not hurting but it felt stable in a way I haven’t felt for years.

A couple weeks after we got back I went to the chiropractor for my neck. She knows to always check my lower back because it’s usually off. This time she checked it and said, “I haven’t seen your back look this good in a long time. I’m not touching it.” I didn’t need anymore confirmation that I was healed but that was super cool to hear. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I noticed I could feel in my leg and foot. So one morning I was testing my calf and top of my foot by touching it. The feeling has been restored. That’s something the chiropractor thought would never come back. She expected me to live that way the rest of my life. But NOPE!!! I’m so excited to say the Lord has restored my back, leg and foot!!

I’m hoping that by hearing the testimony that God healed me will give hope to others who have been praying for a miracle. God is still in the miracle business and He still heals today. I can testify to that. If you’re praying for a miracle, don’t give up. Don’t give up on God. Don’t give up on faith. He restores bodies. He restores relationships. He restores finances. He is a good God.

Thank you Jesus!

b854eb6db5b0b49e3801dd989c7c7a09