Monthly Archives: March 2016

30 Memories of 1978 …

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Recently I’ve contemplated simpler times.  I must be getting old or something …or just need to

de-stress.  At any rate, that line of thinking brought me back to my childhood; so here we go:

30 Memories of 1978:

  1. My best friend was Kim and we shared every minute together that we weren’t in school.  We played kickball, softball, hide-and-seek, Barbies, paper dolls, caught lightning bugs, played Monopoly and Pay Day ’til the cows came home and watched Dukes of Hazard every Friday night.
  2. You had to get up and turn the t.v. dial to change the channel or control the volume!
  3. We had no microwave and wouldn’t for eight more years!
  4. We went to church every Sunday.
  5. Back then, we really got snow!  How thrilling it was to go sledding down a huge hill in the power lines that ran behind our houses!  Of course, it was a long way to trudge back up the hill … to do it all over again … but so worth it!  🙂
  6. I was in 3rd grade and it was my last year at a public school.  Little did I know how difficult the next school year would be when I would be immersed in a rigorous educational program at a private school!
  7. My 83 year old grandmother made us pancakes every morning before we headed down the hill to catch the school bus.  She also nudged us awake each day with her cane.  I always wanted more sleep!  🙂
  8. I remember thinking how neat it was that President Jimmy Carter had a little girl, Amy, living in the White House.
  9. We rarely got new clothes outside of beginning a new school year at our private school or Christmas.  We didn’t expect anything otherwise.
  10. Hand-me-downs and used toys were very common.
  11. I loved family trips to the beach when we visited extended family in the summer.
  12. My younger sister and I were always outdoors!
  13. Even back then, I loved to write letters. (and receive them!)
  14. Mrs. Jones was my 3rd grade teacher and I loved her.
  15. School papers were mimeographed.  I still remember that blue ink & the smell.
  16. I had a lot of friends at school.
  17. I was a Chatty Cathy!
  18. I deeply admired my neighbor’s vibrant, red tulips each spring!
  19. We had a huge, wood paneled station wagon. It was a boat!
  20. If you wanted to speak to family out of state, you better make it brief.  Long distance was expensive!
  21. When the phone rang, it was seldom for a child.  Phone calls were more for grown ups or teenagers.
  22. Phones had this crazy cord attached.  Most phones were black.
  23. No one I knew had a computer.  I don’t think I knew what one was.
  24. You didn’t talk back to grown ups.  Most had respect for their elders.
  25. We weren’t allowed to chew gum in school.
  26. We had to do our homework before we went out to play.
  27. I hated spinach, brussel sprouts & stuffed peppers.  (still do!)
  28. I helped with household chores, including laundry and cooking.
  29. Greatly admired my older sister, who wore clogs & vests.
  30. We just knew our future would be very bright!

….. I hope you enjoyed this little snippet of my world way back when!  What are your fondest memories of simpler times?

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Joy in the Storm

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A friend recently asked how I was managing with some challenges and all I could muster was that I was relying on God’s strength.  I said, “All I have is God … and He is more than enough!”  I also said that sometimes you simply keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Of course, my daily devotions spent in the Word of God and prayer are what sustain this weary heart on the difficult days.  Despite the storm clouds that surround, “My anchor holds within the vale.”  I have a deep, wellspring of joy on the inside that is not conditional on my circumstances but is a true gift from God.

It is possible to have peace and joy regardless of the dark clouds that rage.  This world is not our final destination.  During times of struggle, I especially love to listen to some praise and worship music and praise the Lord.  When we worship God, we are inviting His presence into our lives and our situation.  I firmly believe that.  And, how I need Him.

John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Life continually has its valleys and mountain tops.  We cannot prevent either from happening but we can control our responses to each.  We can determine in our hearts that no matter what happens, we will dig deep in His Word for wisdom, instruction, and comfort.  No matter what, we will pray and praise God for Who He is, not just for what He does for us.

When we focus on our blessings more than our problems, there is a shift in our attitude and perspective.  Whatever we focus on becomes bigger.  What would happen if we focused on God more than our difficulties?

What if we recall the countless times in the past that God has delivered us and answered prayer?  What if we praised Him in advance for all that He has planned for our lives?

What if, even through our storm, others could witness God’s strength and power demonstrated in our lives?

Joy is possible in the darkest of nights.

Peace is available too.

Faith is the seed that makes these a reality in our hearts.

…Instead of searching for the nearest exit during your storm, why not praise God for what He will teach you through the challenging circumstances?  Why not ask Him to shine through your darkness to be a blessing to others around you that they may glorify God?

When we are able to change our perspective, we are able to change our reality.

Trust God.  Pray.  Praise.  Watch Him work in your life as only He can.

Rinse.  Repeat.

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Jesus is Risen!

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“He is not here; He has risen, just like He said.”  ~  Matthew 28:6

The resurrection of Jesus was prophesied by the prophets of old, but for those alive at the time of its fulfillment, it seemingly took everyone by surprise.

First of all, Jesus didn’t exactly meet their expectations of how he would enter into humanity’s realm.  Following this pattern, his death certainly did not come as they imagined it might unfold.  But it occurred nonetheless…  On God’s terms and meeting heaven’s demands that the sinless Lamb of God would take on the sin of mankind, taking our place on that cruel Cross so that you and I could spend eternity with Him.  Jesus bridged the gap that sin created and that you and I could never repay.  He paid for our ransom!

I am so grateful that God had a plan of redemption!  What love the Father has for us!

Isn’t it wonderful that God’s plan didn’t end on the Cross of Calvary?!

No, death would not have its final say.  Not this time.  For despite the humanity Jesus bore, residing on the inside of Him was Resurrection Power this world had never known!!

“Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes!  He arose!  Hallelujah, Christ arose!”

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, death was defeated and sin’s curse was broken.  Now, we are free to choose to accept this precious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

“I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father but by me.”  ~ John 14:6

Happy Resurrection Day!  Jesus is alive!

 

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Abeka Video Program Review

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I often am asked by other homeschoolers about what curriculum we use, which leads to inquiries about the Abeka Video Program.  Abeka is based out of Pensacola, Florida and has been around for many decades, designed originally for Christian school use.  It has evolved over the years as a popular homeschooler’s choice as it is pre-packaged and fairly user friendly.

{A side note:  I actually used the Abeka curriculum from 4th-12th grades when I attended a Christian school.  So, I’ve been familiar with Abeka since 1979!}

If you’re familiar with our homeschool journey, you already know that we’ve been at this for nearly twenty years with two graduates and one in the not-so-distant future, by God’s amazing grace.  We have primarily used the Abeka curriculum for most of our journey and relied on the Video Program for the last five years.  I especially recommend it for the high school years!  We did use the Video Program for Algebra I for our oldest back in 2003.  So, my kids have had a variety of teachers in a myriad of subjects, some we love almost like family.

Hands down, Mr. Mike Smith, who has taught History and Bible is the funniest and most thoroughly engaging teacher they’ve ever had!  I’ve even enjoyed listening to him.  A close second, in terms of a wealth of information that he brings to the table, is Mr. Denis McBride.  My kids loved both of these teachers dearly and learned so much from them.  They were almost sad when a course was over!  Incidentally, you can view snippets of these gifted teachers on YouTube to get a glimpse of their teaching style and expertise.

Interestingly enough, Mrs. Judy Howe, who wrote the math curriculum, is the video teacher for Algebra.  My daughter absolutely loved her teaching.  I remember one year, my daughter was immersed in poetry and really developed a passion for it because of the way it was introduced to her via her Abeka Video Teacher.

My children have certainly learned a lot from me, or at least I’d like to think that, however, exposing them to so many experts in their respective fields has broadened their horizons in ways that would’ve been impossible otherwise.  So, I am forever grateful for the Abeka Video experience!

One year we did the video streaming online, which is not a live experience, but pre-recorded.  It is slightly cheaper and foregoes having the actual DVD’s mailed out.  You simply access it via Abeka’s website.  However, we found that selecting the DVD option worked better for us.  (less temptation to view other websites…)

The format of the Video Program is a classroom setting at the Pensacola Christian Academy and seeks to engage the student at home.  The teacher often asks questions of those in the classroom as well as directing questions to the “student at home watching”.  They play games that test their working knowledge of the subject that break up the pace of simply lecturing.

Included in the cost of the Video Program are all of the necessary student workbooks, teacher keys and tests.  So it is a complete program.  It is a little expensive, however, you are really getting a quality education that is priceless.

While the textbooks offer a very thorough education through a Christian perspective, adding the Video teacher’s expertise, further enhances the learning experience.

One can opt to only purchase one subject or a complete grade level.  At present, my son is completing 10th grade.

The way it works is … At the beginning of the school year, Abeka mails out the first set of DVD’s and a few months later, they ship the second batch of DVD’s.  However, they will not ship the third (and final) batch until you have returned the first set.  You are only permitted to have two sets out at any given time.  The DVD’s remain the intellectual property of Abeka and are never to be duplicated or retained in any way by the student.  The consumer is simply “leasing” the DVD’s for the school year.  You have to return all DVD’s within 12 months of your school start date.  When you place your order, you submit whatever “start date” you desire and this is what they go by.

You simply print a return shipping label from their website using your account and drop off at the Post Office.  They are very prompt about sending out the next set.  Their customer service is excellent in all regards.  We’ve had times where we’ve had to call about things and they are quick to resolve any issue, no questions.  As a parent, I’ve been ordering from Abeka since 1997 and am a completely satisfied customer.

I hope this answers some questions you may have had about the Abeka Video Program.  Please feel free to leave a question or comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.

{Little trivia:  Abeka was established by Arlin & Rebeka Horton in 1954.}

 

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POTS UPDATE ON SARAH

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A great deal of progress has been made since I last posted two months ago about Sarah’s POTS’ saga.  The purpose of sharing our journey is to get the word out about POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) and dysautonomia.  We also want to share any treatments that have worked for Sarah in hopes they may help others on this journey.

First of all, we’re very happy to have found an Electrophysiologist (which is a subspeciality of cardiology) who treats POTS.  This new doctor is only about an hour from our house so we’re very glad to have found him.  We met with him for the first time in February with subdued hope that he would be able to treat Sarah.  So far, after seeing him only twice and following his recommendations, Sarah is so much better!  Let me explain…

During our first appointment, this doctor informed us that she was drinking way too much water.  Whoa!  Wait a minute!  Everything we read and have been told up to this point (for the last six months) has instructed POTS patients to increase water intake!  Of course, she has been increasing her salt intake also during this time, but apparently by drinking so much water, she was simply flushing it right out of her system.  He also told her to begin drinking Gatorade because she needs the electrolytes.  This was revolutionary for Sarah!

We immediately stocked up on Gatorade but also found an organic sports drink on Amazon that is on order, along with the salt tablets that the doctor suggested.  Now, the Gatorade and decrease in water alone have not been miracle cures; however, they have single handedly aided more in her recovery than anything else aside from the Florinef!

She has had far less fatigue and her stamina has increased incredibly so.  She is still experiencing heart palpitations and the doctor has ordered a 24 hour heart monitor for her to wear for two weeks.  We should receive that any day now.  I think that will tell the doctor in greater detail exactly what she is experiencing.

Her former cardiologist ordered a post-event heart monitor but it only captured tiny snippets of cardiac information, so I feel this will be far more telling.  Sarah is off the Atenolol, which was disastrous.

Also, another disastrous drug for Sarah was Corlanor, which the new doctor prescribed.  She only took one dose, but its effects almost sent her to the ER.  We had a very scary few days.  As with any drug, some work for some patients and not for others.

We met with the doctor a few days after the bad episode and were apprehensive that he would simply write out a new script for another potentially disastrous drug. We prayed he would have wisdom to know how to treat our Sarah and I believe he did.  That was when he ordered the heart monitor.  I am thankful that he is digging deeper to seek to understand rather than gloss over her symptoms.

Before meeting with the Electrophysiologist, I prepared a cover letter to the doctor along with Sarah’s medical history and recent lab work results.  In the letter, I stressed the importance of obtaining treatment for our daughter and if he felt that he could not treat POTS, to please let us know prior to her appointment.  I stated that we did not wish to waste his time, nor ours.  We’ve seen enough doctors in the last six months and cannot afford to run in any more circles than absolutely necessary.  Included in her medical history was a chart with all of her diagnostic testing she’s had done (CT scans, etc.) so that he could clearly see the larger picture.  I believe the more information any doctor has (especially a specialist), he is in a better position to accurately treat the patient.  (not to mention, this prevents redundancy)  Yes, we have requested medical records from previous doctors, however, we have become keenly aware that often times, things fall through the cracks.  So, we take it upon ourselves, in the interest of trying to obtain effective and thorough treatment, to deliver as much information as possible.

So, I said all of that to say … After the doctor read through our little package that preceded our visit, I’m certain he understood the importance of attempting to find treatment.  I do believe Sarah is finally in competent hands…finally!  Her last cardiologist flat out told her that he could not treat her for POTS, which is why we had to find another doctor.  So many doctors, even specialists, know very little, if anything about POTS.  Since our family has never encountered a situation like this, it has been very frustrating.  I don’t think one could truly understand unless you walked through it.

POTS is not necessarily a common illness, however it is estimated that between one million and three million people in the U.S. have it!  Wow.  Sadly, it is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. It has been called the “Invisible illness”.  If you looked at my daughter, you would see a beautiful young lady, inside and out.  She’s lovely.  Sarah is our only daughter and she’s so very special to her mom and dad!  A priceless gift!  We always tell her she’s so beautiful!  (because she is, even if she rolls her eyes, understanding that her parents are naturally biased!)  But, to look at her, you would think she is just fine.  However, POTS is a dysfunction of the autonomic (things that function on their own) nervous system.  So, all these functions are happening on the inside of the neurons and axons … all invisible to the eye.

In reality and every day life for Sarah, there are lots of things happening!  When she gets up, she feels dizzy sometimes.  She’s often nauseated because the digestive system is also impacted by POTS.  She eats gluten and dairy free and is very particular about what she eats, but problems still persist.

The fatigue has improved with the advent of Gatorade but she still has limitations.  Sleep is a big problem.  Perhaps the greatest problem at the moment is the heart palpitations and sometimes heart racing.  Those are scary symptoms for anyone, let alone an 18 year old.

Lately her joints and muscles have really been bothering her and per the new doctor’s advice, she will see a rheumatologist in May.  Often she will use essential oils on her joints to ease the pain.

I’ve only outlined the most prominent symptoms at the moment, there are seemingly countless others.  There is virtually no part of the body that POTS does not affect.  It’s all very mysterious in a way, like a maddening puzzle to solve.

We are, however, very encouraged these days to be on a good path after so many dark days!

I just want to encourage you to never give up hope if you or someone you know is sick.  Keep knocking on doctor’s doors until you find someone who knows something!  I used to think doctors were experts in all things.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Often through this ordeal, I have felt like they must be handing out medical degrees these days!  There are excellent doctors out there … it just may require a great deal of work and patience to connect with them!  But don’t give up!

My belief is that God is healing our Sarah bit by bit every day and that one day, she will walk out of this phase – completely healed!  Some days are dark.  Some days give us such hope.  But no matter what we see, our faith encourages our hearts to keep putting one foot in front of the other and press on!  Our miracle is just around the corner!

 

 

{Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor.  Nor do I play one on t.v.  Any medical advice is for informational purposes only.  Do research and seek out professional help for your particular situation.}

 

 

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Homeschooling Forever?

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Has our homeschooling journey been that long?  No, not really, but it sure has seemed that way some days.  Way back in 1997 when our daughter was a baby, we decided to homeschool our oldest.  We really didn’t know much about the process aside from what I’d read in a handful of library books.  There were two homeschooling families at our church and I picked their brains for what worked for them.  It still was a walk in the dark and every step was preceded by much prayer, thought and hard work.

We have had many days it truly felt like we were stumbling around in the dark, stubbing our toes on the furniture.  Other days were filled with euphoric moments of triumph when new concepts were mastered!  I think most homeschoolers would agree that their experiences has been a combined mixture of both.

Where are we now?

Our older son was in fifth grade when we began this journey and he graduated in 2006.  Ten years ago?  How can that be?  Time truly flies, folks!

Our daughter wanted to do school like her big brother so she began kindergarten at age four. She’s always been very curious and precocious and we felt she was ready.  She graduated in May 2015.

Our younger son is currently finishing up 10th grade and will begin 11th grade in the fall.  He’s almost 6′ tall and we have a lot of fun learning together.  We use the Abeka video program, which I absolutely love!  All of the video teachers have a wealth of knowledge and experience, which make it worth every penny.  We use a separate curriculum for math, though.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling – you can tailor it to your child’s needs depending on their strengths and weaknesses.

I always say, “One of these days I’m going to graduate!”  🙂  The truth is, I’ve been in nearly every grade four times (once myself way back when and then once for each of the 3 kids).

We’ve had many bumps in the road along the way.  We’ve moved quite a bit over the years, which always throws a wrench into schooling preparation and plans.  Also, I just had surgery.  It’s times like these I’m very thankful for the Abeka video program and the fact that my son is older and can work independently for the most part.  We do work pretty closely with math, however.

Life is always full of interruptions and that is why we have always appreciated the immense flexibility of homeschooling.  For instance, we are not bound by school schedules that prevent us from taking a family vacation if desired.  There are so many opportunities my children would never have had if it weren’t for a home based education.

Has it been easy?  A resounding NO!  But then, nothing worthwhile in life ever is.

Has it been fun?  Yes.  We’ve had many laughs … mixed with tears sometimes.  Mixed with worry that our children aren’t learning enough…or fast enough…or on par with their public school peers… It’s times like these, our kids do something really amazing or we have lengthy conversations that allay all my fears that they will, in fact, turn out just fine.

Has it been worth it?  Every minute.  Every ounce of energy.  Only eternity will tell, but I know that in my heart of hearts, I’ve given it my all.

{Side note:  My 18 year old daughter & I had a conversation about the stresses of raising kids, family size, etc.  I shared how important extended family can be, especially relieving strain when the children are small.  Our conversation went on and she said, “Mom, I have many fond memories of you doing crafts with us and always making things fun.  You’ve done a great job.”}

Well, I guess I should frame this, not that she hasn’t said similar things before, because she has.  She’s always so sweet and affirming.  But, because sometimes those “Mommy fears” rear their ugly head and needle away at any confidence I may have had.

Moms have such a full and far reaching job on their hands, raising a family, taking care of the house, their husband, and whatever involvement they may have in church or the community!  Goodness, we need to give ourselves a break!

You’re doing GREAT, Moms!!

Frame this!  “You’re doing GREAT!”  You really are.

If your hearts’ desire is to be the best Mom possible, I’m confident that you are, in fact, doing just that.  We need to give ourselves grace.  And don’t worry so much!  We worry because we love deeply but really we should transfer that worry into a prayer and leave it there.  I’m preaching to the choir now.

It’s hard to imagine life beyond homeschooling but in May 2018, our youngest will graduate.  And then a new chapter of my life will begin.  But this one has been an exceptional run and one that has been rich, meaningful and a real time of planting seeds into our children.  For that, I am ever grateful.

And to those who are just starting out on this homeschooling journey or are midway through – Hang in there!  Enjoy every step of the way.  Do those crazy art projects and science experiments.  Go on those educational field trips and family vacations.  Find beauty and learning opportunities everywhere!  Enjoy your kids, moms.  Those formative years only last so long and then they’ll be taller than you (like all my kids are now!).

I saw this quote many years ago:

“A parent’s true role is to work themselves out of a job.”

Our job is to raise the next generation to be moral, independent, critical thinkers.  If we have done that, our work is done.

Of course, as a Christian Mom, I have prayed for my children since they were in my womb and I will always intercede for them until I draw my last breath.  I love them so.  So, even when our children are out on their own making their way in this world, our role as intercessors never ends.

Do you homeschool?  How would you sum up your journey so far?  Have any of yours graduated?

 

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