Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sweet Moment


We had a backwards day this week. Rylee, my barely two year old, played in her crib for an hour and a half never falling asleep. Just as I had given up and got her out so we could run some errands Trevor, who never naps, had fallen asleep on the couch.

Rylee walked out and said "Oh Trevor's Sleeping" in her cute high pitch Rylee voice and leaned over and gave him a big kiss on his check. It was precious.

Sailing Ships


Well we are finishing up week two of school. So far things have gone really well. We finish usually before lunch time to which Taylor replies- "Can we do more?". I'm still playing around with schedules. Today we cleaned and did errands in the morning and schooled while Rylee napped all afternoon. That worked out nicely.

One of the things that has terrified me about homeschooling is crafts. I'm not a crafty person and struggle with envy towards those who are :-) Taylor's curriculum has a lot of neat hands on activities. Making teepee's, wigwam's, poster's and don't even get me started on how complicated I made her timeline last week. I was finally like, forget it we are waiting till your dad gets home! I'm pathetic I know. However yesterday the day's activities called for making three ships out of foil. Just reading the activity made me want to cry. But I faced my fears head on an at the end of the day Taylor and I made three nice looking ships we named- The Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria. Great names huh? We've been studying Christopher Columbus all week.

So we took our ships to my parents pool and let them set sail! Notice the one in the middle that flipped over from Trevor knocking it with a noodle. I had to get in quickly to fix that.
Taylor learned that back in Columbus' days they relied on wind to move the boats not motors. Let's just say we had a pretty wind free night so we had to try to supply some of our own.

But eventually they made themselves all the way to the end. Rylee was happily waiting on the step for the first boat.

I should've known better than to let her go out to the pool, her favorite place, in her clothes. After soaking herself completely she had enough and took all her clothes off got back in.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Much For Christ


My friend Lory has been reading a book entitled Lives of the Three Mrs. Judsons by Arabella W. Stuart. After hearing her talk enough about it I knew this was the book I should take with me on vacation. How thankful I am for her recommendation and her lending me her copy. I finished this 250 page book in one week but the effects of it on my soul is still lasting. The Lord had already begun a work in me before this week of processing through how short this life is, how fruitless pursuit of wordly things are and my growing desire to see the lost around me become saved. This book not only capitalized on what God has been doing in my life but gave me a real picture of three women who literally left all earthly comforts for the sake of the Gospel. And did so with faith, joy & a deep walk with the Lord.

A look inside the book:

"Still, were it not for the support we derive from the gospel of Jesus, we should be ready to sink down in despondency in view of the dark and gloomy scenes around us. But when we recollect that Jesus has commanded his disciples to carry the gospel to the heathen and promised to be with them to the end of the world; that God has promised to give the heathen to his Son for an inheritance, we are encouraged to make a beginning, though in the midst of discouragement and leave it to Him to grant success in his own time and way."

There was this constant faith in their call. No matter the trials that came their way, and trust me there were more trials than I think I could bear under, I never once read- "We should've never come, this is too hard- where's the fruit?" No it was a steady constant- this is what God has called us to and He has given us his promises and He will bring about success.

" Oh Lord, here I am, thou has brought me to this heathen land, and given me desires to labor for thee. Do with me what pleaseth thee. Make me useful or not as seemeth good in they sight. But oh, let my soul live before thee, let me serve none but thee; let me have no object in life but the promotion of thy glory."

Only the promotion of His glory, not mine- that is what I long to be about.

Their passion to see lost burmah souls be saved from the wrath of God is evident throughout their mission.

"... and the conversion of this people, lie with weight on my mind and draw forth my heart in constant intercession. And I do confidently believe that God will visit this land with Gospel light that these idol temples will be demolished and temples for the worship of the living God be erected in their stead."

Finally their longing for Heaven is one that I too pray God would concrete in me. A place where all will be made right again, perfect communion with the Lord and precious loved ones that have gone before. I cried when the first wife passed away. To which my husband who was obviously not as entrenched in my book as I said to me "Well honey you knew she would die eventually, they had to get to the second wife." That was great for the tears. Anyway you feel their loss but also equally experience their hope.

When Mr. Judson lost his first wife, his son a few months earlier and his daughter six months after the loss of his wife he writes:

"No, she has her little ones around her, I trust, and has taught them to praise the source whence their deliverance flowed. Her little son, his soul enlarged to angel's size, was perhaps first to meet her at heaven's portals and welcome his mother to his own abode- and her daughter followed her in six short months"..."And when we all meet in Heaven- when all have arrived and we find all safe, forever safe and our Saviour ever safe and glorious, and in him all his beloved- oh shall we not be happy and ever praise him who has endured the cross to wear and confer such a crown."

So no, I'm not moving to Burmah or some other foreign country at the moment. But I am asking how I can live less like the world and more for Christ. In what ways can I deepen my walk with the Lord so I'm adequately prepared for any trials that come my way? I am asking the Lord to grow my love for the lost and give me opportunities to share the good news- may the Gospel light fall upon America in new and fresh ways! May idols of our country fall wayside so that "temples for the worship of the living God be erected in their stead"! And Lord may I always be willing to respond with faith to any call you place upon Chris & I. To say I recommend this book to you would be an understatement.

"A little while and we are in eternity before we find ourselves there let us do much for Christ!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why In The World Would You Homeschool?

"Why In The World Would You Homeschool?"

That's a question a neighbor asked me not that long ago upon telling him that Taylor will be homeschooled in the fall. He was wondering 'who on earth would do such a thing to themselves'. I had to laugh and told him I only get one chance to live life and raise my children up, so I don't mind sacrificing "time to myself" as was his concern. I also told him there's thousand of others like me who've chosen this path (To which he stared at me in disbelief).

There are many reasons why a family can chose to homeschool. And there were definitely some for us that came into play when decision time was upon us. Here are some things that we DIDN'T want to drive our decision:

1. Homeschooling is the "Christian, better, righteous way"

Nothing in my mind could be farther from the truth. There is no clear cut way for Christians and it's a decision I believe shouldn't be weighed lightly but there is no one right way versus all the others. I have just as much respect for my friends who've weighed the decision and decided to place their kids in a school than I do for the others who choose to homeschool.

2. Homeschooling will guarantee that our children will turn out to be God fearing, obedient, respectful, smart children.

Oh how I wish that were true but my hope cannot be in any method Chris and I choose. Our hope is in Christ alone. It it only He that can save my children and bring about fruit in their lives and not a method. I pray daily that God would save my children, not because of me, more in spite of me. Homeschooling guarantees nothing :-)

3. We're trying to protect our kids from sin, particularly the world.

Well if that was the case, we couldn't allow them to stay at home either! In seriousness, we don't desire for our children to learn the ways and values of the world. It is a parental responsibility to guard the hearts of our children as we instruct them in the gospel of Christ, regardless of how we school them. They will see sin at public school, they will see sin at charter school, they will see sin at home. They will be the cause of sin in all of these places! So though we are choosing to deal with the sinful problems that come with homeschooling, we recognize that the goal is not primarily sheltering, but shepherding.

So how do we relate to the world with our family? Chris and I desire to be lights in the world and want to teach and train our children in how to go about doing that. The world is all around us, neighbors, stores, gym, ballet class and the last thing I want to do is to be salt and light only in our home. To help balance our homeschool days I have been volunteering all summer at a local nursing home. I bring the kids in and we serve them ice cream for an hour and visit. The kids love it and I have been so proud of watching Taylor grow in interacting with the elderly and seeing their delight in all the kids. This week I will be bringing some sermons to a man that I have been chatting with about God. It's been a wonderful opportunity to build in service to my children as well as being "in the world". I am eager for Taylor to learn to interact not with just one age group but all sorts. Homeschooling gives me that option. Chris and I also take seriously our neighborhood and seek to build relationships with our neighbors and their children. Another ministry we like to serve at as a family is our Life 101 evangelism ministry. We tell Taylor each week before putting her in the child care area that their will be new kids in her class who may not know Jesus and it would please the Lord if she sought them ought and made them feel welcome.

So that leads me into why we chose to homeschool Taylor this year. The biggest factor was... that I wanted to! Take that out and we might not be here today :-) Over the course of her Kindergarten year my fears of homeschooling began to fade and I grew more and more in my faith and desire to bring her home for first grade. One of the things that originally drew us to this charter school was their half day option for K-6. But in talking with her teacher over the year, who was a Christian, she advised us not to chose the half day program. Taylor is meticulous and takes her time to complete each activity carefully and neatly. Her teacher said that over time she could see Taylor growing frustrated with the pace and stop caring as much as she does due to the fast pace in the half day program. Chris and I absolutely love her love for learning and the last thing we want to do is to put her in a situation where that may wane. I want her to have time during the day to spend an hour on reading her favorite book or learning about the 50 states or taking some extra time on a science project and I think by allowing her to do this will increase not only her love of learning but her intellect as well.

The hardest part for homeschooling was my desire to be in the community, not out of it, and school is a natural way to build relationships. I confess I was really excited to evangelize to other moms in her class and to be in the community this past year. But what I came to find at this charter school was that the majority of the families were Christians. Which is a great thing! But it didn't provide opportunities for evangelism like I would have hoped. Interestingly enough, over her school year God gave us some incredible opportunities to share with our neighbors and attend Life 101 with them. One neighbor would stay late into the night asking us question after question. And guess what made it hard to stay up late with her at church and talk? Taylor's school. I remember each Weds, after a late night at life 101, she'd wake up so crabby and tired and I'd feel bad for having to get her up early and I would think to myself- if we homeschooled we could just start school a half hour later on ministry nights.

Then came the whole question of what community do we first want to build Taylor into - a school community or our local church community? After answering that question we thought we could, for our family, build her into the church better if she was homeschooled. So, my friends, I know many of you have asked us for our reason behind bringing Taylor home this year. I hope this sheds some light and we are praying for the many of you that have upcoming decisions to make. We are all really excited for this year and our education plan is to take it a year at a time and one child at a time!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of School


Today we started school. This year we will be homeschooling Taylor for 1st grade and I will be doing some preschool with Trevor. This has been a much anticipated day in our house. Actually so anticipated that I moved our start date up a week. I won't get into all the reasons as to why we are homeschooling this year maybe some other post.

After much discussion with those that have gone before us, each other and reading books on education we settled on Adventures in My Father's World. It's a christian based curriculum that follows a Classical/Charlotte Mason approach. And being I couldn't decide which way to go, classical or mason, I feel like I've got the best of both worlds! I was able to order pretty much everything (math, science, history, etc) from them and it comes with a schedule/teacher's manual. The more Chris and I talked about this year it became evident that it would best serve our family if we found something that would minimize the amount of planning I needed to do. I've taken the past month to look over the curriculum and I'm excited for all that this year holds.

So our school morning began with happy face pancakes, chocolate milk and applesauce oatmeal.

Our first day of school pictures! Trevor cracked me up with his.

Trevor did quite well with his eye hand coordination exercises and letter coloring. He actually couldn't get enough of his letter coloring and ended up printing off five or more "A's" for him to color. He should have that letter down by the end of the day :-)

Of course we can't forget Rylee. She hung with us most of the morning pretty well! Her new favorite thing is puzzles.

Knowing we would be studying the geography of the 50 states my parents bought Taylor a Melisa and Doug 50 state puzzle. She's pretty much worked on that daily for the past month and today I tested her to see how many of the states she knew. Once again, she amazed me!The only states she struggled with were the tiny ones up in the top. Give it a week and I'm sure she'll have that down as well! As she's naming off states I realized that not only did I not know how to spell the majority of them but had to get a map when we were done to confirm she was right! So I guess I'll be the one in school this year.

We finished day one around 1:30 (which included art & piano lessons) to which my daughter replies, "We're done?"" in a sad voice. "Isn't there more we can do!" To which I replied, "Get to work on those states you don't know slacker!" LOL- just kidding I didn't say that... she's off reading some of her new library books :-)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Rylee Grace


Today my sweet baby turned two! Oh how I love this little girl. She brings so much life, energy, smiles and laughter to our home. And it's not like our home was all that quiet before she came either :-) She'll often be compared to a female version of Trevor, except she sleeps!

Last night as I was getting things ready for her party Taylor asked me if we were going to do the birthday tradition for Rylee in the morning. Fully expecting her to ask about the balloon tradition I asked her what she had in mind. She said, ya know make waffles and put a candle in it and then sing to her? I guess I have done that once or twice before but was unaware it was a tradition. I was SOOO glad she asked! I did a late night run to the store so I would be prepared for the morning.

So Rylee woke up to balloons in her room, a long standing tradition for the Jones' and we ate waffles and sang Happy Birthday to Rylee.

Tonight we had a family birthday party for her at my parents house. Thanks so much Dad & Mom for opening up your home. Our house is a little challenging with the way our families are expanding! Rylee's favorite thing to do this summer has been to swim. She LOVES to swim. So of course it was only appropriate we did a swim party. She's completely fearless to- scares me half to death. Jumping off the edge, swimming to the side, climbing out and doing it all over again.

Best Buddies- Cousin Madi & Rylee

I was trying to go simple for this party and made flower cupcakes. Rylee loves flowers... she's always bringing me her doodle pad and saying "please mama, flower?"

As with most parties these days I hardly feel like I hardly get to talk to anyone. So thanks to all my uncles/aunts and cousins, grandparents who came! Rylee had such a great time- thanks for being apart of her life!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The newest member of our house


While we were out with our friends last week we had a special delivery. A parlor grand piano! It's beautiful. Back when we were planning on moving into the Dublin house we had arranged for our friend Luz to come and live with us. During that time she asked if she could have her piano, which was housed at her parents house, moved in too. I of course said yes! I've been dreaming and scheming for some time as to how I could get a piano back into my life as a keyboard is just not the same. So when Dublin fell apart Luz asked if we would still take her piano. As crazy as it seemed, being we are already busting at the seams in our house, my heart was set on having a piano again. I'm so glad we said yes and moved some things around. I have been so blessed by it's presence over the past week.

Almost immediately I began lessons with Taylor. Per her constant begging. She's done quite well thus far!

Thanks Luz for trusting us with your piano! And for what it's worth I'd rather have had you live with us than your piano... but your piano will do for now :-)

Saying Goodbye

This week we have been busy saying goodbye to our dear friends the Hansen's. We go back a long ways with this couple and have been truly blessed by their friendship. As I write Jason and Chris are in a very packed car, headed for Gaithersburg MA, in preparation for the Pastor's College. As sad as we are to be without them for a year, we are so excited for them to receive the rich care and training we received from the PC four years ago. Also, four years ago Jason was driving back with Chris from Maryland dreaming of a day where Lord willing Chris could drive out with Jason. From the sounds of it the boys are having a great time!

I have been spending some time with Tiffany, attempting to be helpful but more just getting a few last moments in with her before she leaves.

Last Sunday we went out with a group of our close friends to say goodbye. We are all so thankful for the sacrifices they've made to go!

Here's a picture of the guys before they hit road!

So please pray for continued safety and if you are in the Gaithersburg area take some time to get to know our friends- you'll be glad you did! Also you can read about her PC experience on her blog. I know she'll resume blogging once they arrive and get settled. We'll all be bugging her to:-)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Sand, Sand, Everywhere Sand


Ok so I'm about done bombarding you with all these vacation posts :-) I've saved these last two posts for no reason other than my husband was going to use some of the things I wanted to write as illustrations for his message tonight at the singles meeting. And out of the kindness of my heart I didn't want them sitting there thinking, oh yeah I read that on Tara's blog. Not like that's happened before or anything...

Well what trip to California would be complete without some time at the beach? I only brought my camera down one day so I'm kind of stuck with the pictures I got. But I did bring it down on the day the best ever sand castle was built! Leave it to men to like a little competition. Chris and I made some friends who were sitting next to us on the beach one day. It went a little like this-

us "Hey can we borrow your shovel to dig a hole real quick? Our tiny plastic one isn't doing the trick."
them "sure, no problem, here ya go"
us- start to dig and instantly break their shovel.... "uh sorry nice new people on the beach... we owe you a shovel"

Well they were kind and let us know it was conveniently about to break before they gave it to us. We talked for awhile, found out they live within ten minutes of us back in AZ, found out they don't attend church, talked to them about the Lord and invited them to church. Gosh I love Chris' evangelistic heart! Ok so back to the competition. It's now a different day and Chris noticed our new friends building a sand castle with some people. That got Chris up and he decided that he too needed to be building a castle, which got up our long time, reigning champ in sand castle building, family friend, Tom up. It was awesome. Chris ended up taking Rylee up to the room for a nap and Tom completely took over and created a masterpiece. Stairs, Tunnels with "T"'s on them, trenches to collect water etc. The kids, and Tom, were so proud!

nice clean trevor before it all began

not so happy rylee:

happy rylee:

The kids enjoyed playing in the water. The first day Rylee would cry anytime she went near the ocean and Taylor kind of steered clear. Even Trevor was unsure. But by the end of the week they were loving the water. Trevor couldn't get enough. He rode a boogie board with my dad pulling it through the surf as the wave crashed. Taylor & Trevor created this game where they'd take fists of sand and run out into the ocean and through it at a crashing wave then run back. Almost as if to taunt the waves. They've yet to experience God's power through the ocean :-)

A Wedding


The last day of our trip we had the privilege of seeing my cousin Corbin and her finance K.C. get married. They were kind enough to plan their wedding during this week's vacation knowing most of my mom's side of the family would already be out there. My cousin is not only beautiful but has an amazing decorative touch. Her wedding was no exception- it was stunning!
We had fun seeing our family and enjoyed our last night in the beautiful California weather!

A few quick shots I got of the decorations:

There was a moment in the cermony where they remembered the saints that have gone before us. Corbin's dad and K.C.'s mom. Also not in attendance was my Aunt Wendy, Corbin's step-mom. We miss you Uncle Bobby & Aunt Wendy!

Some couple portraits:

My parents

Chris & I

Ryan, Danae and soon to be born, baby owen

My cousin Amy & Kyle and their adorable little girl:

cool dude trevor

And of course Rylee's favorite person on this trip, her cousin Madi.

This is sadly the best I got of the three kids together. Too bad cause they looked precious all dressed up :-)

The kids definitely enjoyed themselves at this party. They had a special picnic table set up for them, which I think only Rylee and Madi frequented. Taylor was given a camera by our long time family friend Tom and told to go get as many pictures as possible. She was quite the paparazzi getting some great shots of Corbin! The next morning Tom paid her $5 for her work. She was so excited and wanted to use the money to buy a gift for her bff lauren. Trevor was in an out of one of the two bathrooms they had with Chris pretty much the entire night. Apparently he had to much fruit that day. It was pretty funny, considering I wasn't the one taking him. He'd get to cut in front of the line each time, who can say no to a little kid doing the potty dance. But hey no accidents! The kids were some of the first on the dance floor showing everyone all there moves. I wish I had it on video to share because it was quite the scene. I kept wondering where they learned there moves from... then Taylor told someone when asked that she watches me dance in the kitchen. They had set up a photo booth for guests to take pictures and leave in the guests book throughout the evening. Before you went in there were masks and other accessories to choose from. Rylee took one of the masks there and insisted on dancing with it on. She looked like a mini phantom of the opera girl!

and it was with that last look we knew it was time to go home :-)