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Where Is God In Our Mess?

I’ve hesitated for over a month to utter this question. It sounds so cliche and I know I will not receive an answer — or will I?

One word. The question of the ages. The unanswered cry of the hurting. Why?

During the month since Beau was born sleeping, I have often seen the dawn rise before falling asleep. Questions mull over and over in my mind. I replay every instant, every moment, every decision to recheck. But in the end, I’m always left with the same thing… nothing.

But God, I miss him. I wake up each morning with this ache in my gut that makes it almost hard to breathe. The morning Beau was born I felt God so near. My entire labor was beautiful and worship ushered my baby into the world. I knew though that his spirit was already experiencing worship on a plain I can only imagine.

Beau was born at 3:25 am one Sunday morning. After he was delivered I remember sitting on the edge of my bed — the bed that was so neatly made — to capture pictures of his appearing. In shock, all of my emotions were eclipsed by this knowing that Heaven was closer than it had ever been before in my lifetime. In those fleeting moments I heard Beau — in a tone almost giddy with hope — whisper to me and only me, “Mommy, I’m not alone!”

Those words hit me like a rock in my spirit — all I wanted to yell back was, “But I am!”

I knew that in this instant, my baby didn’t need me. I need him.

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Girl’s Ballet Class!

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How to Prep Your Mother Goose Time Curriculum: Lesson Planning for the Homeschooling Mom

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When I first started the journey of homeschooling my littles, I was frustrated and overwhelmed. There were so many options out there and quite honestly, I had no idea where to start! My mother-in-law is a retired kindergarten teacher. It was great getting advice from her and from other veteran homeschooling moms I knew, but I also needed my own process — you know? I needed to be able to work out my own road in teaching my children, and that meant learning some of those lessons with experience rather than information.

One day I stumbled across a blog about Mother Goose Time Curriculum online. It was from a preschool teacher who used their resources for her classroom. I fell in love with the aesthetics. Their learning materials were adorable. I had not come across a preschool curriculum like it anywhere! I knew instantly that it was the fit I was looking for. And just like that, my homeschooling journey began…

One of the greatest qualities of Mother Goose Time Curriculum is their all-in-one focus for homeschooling curriculum. (And for all of your homeschooling moms with preschoolers who are moving on, I will let you in on a little secret: I’m planning on using Mother Goose Time Curriculum for my children in Kindergarten and First Grade as well!) I will post more of that later, but first, I wanted to take a moment and break down the process of prepping our Mother Goose Time Curriculum to prepare for your month.

Each month, our curriculum comes in a box like this…

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My kids love seeing their “school bus” box come in the mail.

Here is how I prep our curriculum each month: 

 

The box begins with a Teacher’s Guide and Planning Journal along with a CD for the songs for the month — all of these things are streamlined to fit the theme and goals for our monthly needs. I love these materials because I can write my own lessons in the planning journal. Mother Goose Time leaves us blank lesson plans inside where we can make each day our own if we desire to. I love this because often times I supplement other materials if my children need challenged in a certain area. We also receive two manipulatives each month. These are by far the greatest gift we receive from MGT. I have been able to use these in so many ways — and because of this even my 3 year old has passed his kindergarten assessment! He will be going into Kindergarten two months before his 4th birthday. These manipulatives are like gold to me. We will be able to use them for years to come. Take a look at my stash 🙂

Each day is packed individually. I save time by simply putting mine in a basket and each day, all I have to do it unwrap the day and dive in.

 

We also receive circle time materials and display materials. This includes our monthly letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and character bees. I love all of these so much that I laminate all of them. I place them on rings and keep them. You can use most of them in kindergarten and first grade too so these are handy to keep on to.

I also receive an add-on from Mother Goose Time Curriculum, The Experiencing God preschool edition. Each month we receive a memory verse, pre-prepped craft activities, and a separate lesson planning book. I laminate our memory verses so we can also keep these for years to come.

We also receive display board items. Since we just moved back into our home, our bulletin board is small, so we are making due. I love MGT’s focus on circle time materials. Circle time (The beginning of our day which consists of the calendar, the weather, the day of the week, our letter, our shape and color and our numbers, is the benchmark of our day. It provides repetition and stability in which our little ones thrive.)

Here is my kitchen nook. I use this for what I need for the week in teaching. The rest of our materials are in an overflow shelf above. This helps me feel organized without missing out on the supplies we do have.

Lastly, each month, we receive a new book from MGT. We love these! I also spend time getting additional books to teach our kids and drive home our monthly theme. This month, we are doing bees and butterflies. I usually also do a LARGE book — my mother-in-law had heaps leftover from her years teaching kindergarten, so we use these often. This month, we are reading, Tumble Bumble.

 

As I have gotten in my groove for teaching this year, I have been able to better utilize everything I have received from Mother Goose Time. And I have been able to add additional resources that make our journey in learning unique to us. This month, we are raising caterpillars and watching them transform into butterflies! We are having a butterfly release at the beach where we held our two son’s memorial services and scattered their ashes.

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New Life for the Homeschooling Mom

New Life for the homeschooling mom.jpgIt’s Easter Sunday — it’s supposed to feel like resurrection, right?

The truth is, sometimes days are hard and those hardships can trick us into forgetting. Forgetting the truth about who God is — and who He sees us as.

I still remember that day. The wind was cold — there wasn’t any sign of life around me — but I still managed to find a few fresh flowers from the local grocery store. I despise fake flowers in cemeteries. I grew up taking silk flowers to my Father’s grave with my mom. She would always make sure that my dad’s stone had plenty of flowers. But I hated them. To me, they were reminders of how no matter how hard we tried to bring beauty to our ashes, there was still no life in our ruins.

But there I was in the same cemetery I had visited as a child —this time with a few white roses in my hands — but today I wasn’t visiting my dad. I looked down and at my feet lay two small headstones — each marked with my dreams. Under each name read, “Infant son of Josh & Jess Davis”. I laid a few roses at the feet of each stone — knowing they would just blow away in the wind when I left. But I didn’t care. I needed to see life in our ruins again.

For a long time after we buried both boys, I was numb. Life suddenly looked so different than it used to – than I dreamed it would. And we felt so alone. When we were traveling throughout the world preaching God’s presence, many rallied around us. When a blind man saw for the first time in front of us, so many people were encouraged. When our first born daughter was born at only 1 pound and defied every odd thrown her way, so many people made sure to send us messages and grace our social media pages with “God is good”. But when the miracles ended, those same accolades grew strangely silent.

When people left us, it was easy to believe the lie that God had left us too. Then one day, I received a message from an old college friend of mine. She too had lost a son after he was born. And her message changed my life.

She wrote,

No mother should ever endure this once, much less twice. I just can not imagine this, Jess. I do know this truth.
He was good when He led Josh into your life. He was good when He empowered you to birth and raise Jolie and Tuck.
He was good when He led you beside still waters as you grieved Beau.
He has not changed. He is still good.

Being present in our ruins can be a tricky place. Our eyes can tell us lies that seem right, but our hearts can show us the true way. Finding God in our ruins is possible. We don’t have to look far. It all lies in the power of remembrance.

On the night Jesus was about to be betrayed, He had dinner with His friends. He broke bread and passed around wine and gave the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

And there was power in that remembrance. It meant that even in the disaster that would soon happen, He was still King in the ruins. When the enemy comes in to steal the life from within you — and please know the enemy brings death, not God. He brings life — because He is Life itself! There is power in remembering who He is in our darkest days. That same power conquered the grave. And it can raise the dead in us too!

That day when I read Kristin’s message, a part of me remembered.

I remembered His love.

The love that caused me to leave my home and run to the ends of the earth to share.

The love that was so powerful that even death couldn’t change it. That is who He is.

The Love that became flesh and left glory for the dirt — Love Himself that joined me in my ruins and showed me an upside-down kingdom.

Love that knows the same loss of a son — Heaven’s Son — and still used the death of one to bring Life to many.

If you find yourself in ruins tonight, I want to remind you of the same message that changed my life after we buried our boys.

He is STILL Good. He never changes.

 

He is for you. He has gone before you. And He will never leave you.

Sometimes the miracle of motherhood can be overwhelming. Our fatigue can trick us into forgetting the joy in this life we have been given. Tomorrow as you open your books and sit next to your babies, remember you aren’t just teaching them their letters. You are teaching them with your presence. Your presence is the most powerful force in their little lives. So if you’ve been struggling with the weight of the world to the point where you’ve forgotten the why’s or the beauty in the world around you, I encourage you to ask God to bring new life to you again. To bring new life to your marriage and your family once more. And to remind you of His presence– God with us, is the most powerful force on earth.

Are you a homeschooling mom who needs to find new life? Join us at The Davis Tribe on Facebook!

Take a look at our adventures with our homeschool curriculum team, Mother Goose Time!

 

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Finding God in Your Ruins: The Power of Remembrance

Finding God in Your Ruins.pngI still remember that day. The wind was cold — there wasn’t any sign of life around me — but I still managed to find a few fresh flowers from the local grocery store. I despise fake flowers in cemeteries. I grew up taking silk flowers to my Father’s grave with my mom. She would always make sure that my dad’s stone had plenty of flowers. But I hated them. To me, they were reminders of how no matter how hard we tried to bring beauty to our ashes, there was still no life in our ruins.

But here I was in the same cemetery I had visited as a child —this time with a few white roses in my handsbut today I wasn’t visiting my dad. I looked down and at my feet lay two small headstones — each marked with my dreams. Under each name read, “Infant son of Josh & Jess Davis”. I laid a few roses at the feet of each stone — knowing they would just blow away in the wind when I left. But I didn’t care. I needed to see life in our ruins again. I had traveled nearly a thousand miles to get here — to my place of remembrance.

For a long time after we buried both boys, I was numb. Life suddenly looked so different than it used to – than I dreamed it would. And we felt so alone. When we were traveling throughout the world preaching God’s presence, many rallied around us. When a blind man saw for the first time in front of us, so many people were encouraged. When our first born daughter was born at only  1 pound and defied every odd thrown her way, so many people made sure to send us messages and grace our social media pages with “God is good”. But when the miracles ended, those same accolades grew strangely silent. 

When people left us, it was easy to believe the lie that God had left us too. Then one day, I received a message from an old college friend of mine. She too had lost a son after he was born. And her message changed my life.

She wrote,

“No mother should ever endure this once, much less twice. I just cannot imagine this, Jess. I do know this truth.
He was good when He led Josh into your life. He was good when He empowered you to birth and raise Jolie and Tuck.
He was good when He led you beside still waters as you grieved Beau.
He has not changed. He is still good. 

Being present in our ruins can be a tricky place. Our eyes can tell us lies that seem right, but our hearts can show us the true way.  Finding God in our ruins is possible. We don’t have to look far. It all lies in the power of remembrance. 

On the night Jesus was about to be betrayed, He had dinner with His friends. He broke bread and passed around wine and gave the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 

And there was power in that remembrance. It meant that even in the disaster that would soon happen, He was still King in the ruins. When the enemy comes in to steal the life from within you — and please know the enemy brings death, not God. He brings life — because He is Life itself! There is power in remembering who He is in our darkest days. That same power conquered the grave. And it can raise the dead in us too!

That day when I read Kristin’s message, a part of me remembered.

I remembered His love.

The love that caused me to leave my home and run to the ends of the earth to share. 

The love that was so powerful that even death couldn’t change it. That is who He is.

The Love that became flesh and left glory for the dirt — Love Himself that joined me in my ruins and showed me an upside-down kingdom. 

Love that knows the same loss of a son — Heaven’s Son — and still used the death of one to bring Life to many.

If you find yourself in ruins tonight, I want to remind you of the same message that changed my life after we buried our boys.

He is STILL Good. He never changes. 

Don’t let what you see around you trick you into believing the lie that God isn’t with you. If you’ve suffered, if you’ve lost, and if you can’t see beyond the ashes around you, remember His love for YOU and His promise to never leave you.

Forget the misrepresentations of God in others you’ve encountered. Forget the bad theology that many have attributed to Him. Forget the lies your ruins have tricked you into believing. Ask God to make Himself real to you. Ask Him to visit you. Even now.

He is for you. He has gone before you. And He will never leave you. 

Are you struggling to find God in your ruins? How can I pray for you?

 

 

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A Look into Our Homeschool Curriculum

MGT Blog AmbassadorTruth be told, we never actually decided to become a homeschooling family. It was something that organically developed for our family. Deep inside we knew this was a piece of the puzzle that could equip our family to better live out God’s dreams for our marriage, our business, my writing career, and of course, our children.

But as organic as it was, it didn’t feel easy most of the time starting out. I would spend hours upon hours researching options for “how to homeschool”. Each mom that I would interview would have different opinions, but none of them seemed to fit. And I was lost.

Finally the summer before my oldest was going to begin preschool, I took the advice of an older homeschooling mom I knew, and printed off 100’s of dollars of “curriculum”. It was one of the most costly mistakes I’ve made in teaching my kids.

A month before school was supposed to begin, we lost another son at birth. Our world as a family was shattered again for the second time in two years, and in the attempt to survive, I stumbled across a mom’s blog about Mother Goose Time Curriculum.

And, my entire perspective on teaching my children changed forever.

I became consistently frustrated when veteran homeschool moms would make comments that you do not need curriculum to teach your children. It was the same bad advice that a seasoned teacher could give to one just starting out. And it wasn’t relevant. I needed a road map, and more than a map. I needed a homeschooling resource team!

I found that team in Mother Goose Time.

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Each month, our family receives a box in the mail that includes pre-cut supplies, amazing manipulatives that we can use for years to come, and lesson plans that equip us to live our learning journey with not just excellence, but joy and fun. This is the greatest lesson I wish to give to those moms who are braving the world of homeschooling. Sure, you could develop curriculum for your kids, search for supplies, make sure that each subject is thematically relevant, prep your supplies, and wear yourself out. Or, you can stop recreating the wheel and find those that have an awesome one.

Homeschooling can bring your family much joy. It is not meant to send you into a tailspin of burnout before your children are in middle school. MGT has been such a gift to our family not just because of their excellence in curriculum framework, but also because of their updated design and creative packages. I’m so thankful to be a part of their team.

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My kids love when their monthly school bus box arrives in the mail. Let me walk you through a typical monthly box.

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Each box contains a Teacher’s Guide and Lesson Journal for you to prepare and personalize your daily and weekly lesson plans. Monthly items for circle time are included which include large letter flags, number cutouts, the monthly shape and color, and if you add-on the Experiencing God addition, a monthly memory verse too! Each month a new book comes with the box and manipulatives that you can use for counting and other math activities. One of the greatest things that is included in our monthly boxes are pre-cut supplies for each activity that we will do. That means that instead of spending countless hours searching for supplies and prepping them, I get to enjoy my kids.

Are you new to homeschooling or thinking about taking the leap? Follow us at The Davis Tribe

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Discovering Your Child’s Learning Style

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I didn’t start out intending to become a teacher. In fact, if I can be honest with you, I spent my school days longing for freedom from those walls. I literally prayed my life away as a teenager and as a young adult in college. Sure, my grades were great, but my learning environment didn’t fit my learning style. And because of that, I loathed the idea of teaching my children one day. It brought out anxiety in me and I wondered if I would ever enjoy teaching — much less if my kids would ever enjoy learning from me.

Fast forward to a few nights ago. My husband was reading the kids several books before bed (they are little negotiators like their business leader dad and always negotiate their way each night from three books to thirty). I took five minutes to hide away in my room to decompress and I heard my husband reading a book about school. When the book talked about a teacher, my kids would excitedly yell, “Just like Mommy is our teacher!” My perspective completely changed that night. Often my kids will beg to “do” school on the weekends and even late at night just because they have so much fun and they have found ownership in it even at their young ages. I realized that school can be fun. And, dare I say it, I could be a great teacher that made learning a freeing and adventurous experience with my children. Mind blown.

We were at a store a few weeks ago, and the kid’s Great-Grandfather in Ohio wanted to get them a gift because we don’t see him as often as we would like. He told me to take them to the store and let my son pick out a lefty baseball glove and my daughter a barbie doll (She’s kind of obsessed). My husband and I usually team up with one of our kids when we go to the store. He took our son and I took our daughter.

As we went through the aisle looking at all the barbies, she would point out each one. I’m a bit of a traditionalist in some ways and didn’t want her to pick out a mini skirt barbie with an obscene amount of makeup. I was praying she would pick a nice ballet barbie. But she didn’t. She went right for the fashion doll with high heels and makeup. I quickly tried to talk her “off the cliff” and sell a conservative doll on the shelf. But she wouldn’t have it. I said, “We don’t like those dolls.” And that’s when she taught me another lesson. She said, “You don’t like them Mommy, but I do.” And she was right. They older they are getting, the more I am realizing that my kids are not going to be miniature versions of me. They will be their own persons and if I don’t learn to steward that now and facilitate an environment of freedom in our family – I will run the risk of stifling their gifts, their dreams, and everything God has for them. 

In homeschooling your children, those same lessons apply. If we can take the time to discover the learning styles of our children, we will possess a key to unlock their potential. In doing so, we bring freedom into our learning and it becomes a lifestyle instead of something else to check off our list for the day.

So how do you discover your child’s learning style? 

There are four main learning styles: kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and tactile. Just like personalities, we are rarely 100% in one area and often have parts of a few areas. Naturally, though, we are bent towards one area — and that area is what our individualized learning should focus on.

  1. Kinesthetic Learner: Kinesthetic learners are usually very active. They learn best with motion, movement, and action. We often call that learning type, hands-on. Children who are primarily  kinesthetic learners are often good at sports, dance, or theater. Sometimes they have a hard time sitting still for certain tasks. Allowing them the freedom of being active can improve their learning including their ability to memorize.

    1. APPLY IT: If your child is a kinesthetic learner, it might be a good idea to do some tasks combined with activity. For example, you can practice number or alphabet recognition while jumping rope. Or if your child is old, you can practice spelling words while swimming or jumping on the trampoline.
  2. Visual Learner: Visual learners retain information best by experiencing it in visual forms — things they can see. (Photos, images, drawings, videos, dramas, movies, maps, etc). Kids who learn best this way should be encouraged to take notes, make lists, or draw out what they learn to cement their learning process. Reading is not a visual learning format — but rather, an auditory learning format.
    1. APPLY IT: If your child is a visual learner, try integrating flash cards, dvd’s, and photos into your learning experiences.
  3. Auditory Learner: Auditory learners learn best through sound. This includes reading aloud, and lectures – or oral story telling and lessons. These type of learners often love music and are good communicators.
    1. APPLY IT: If your child is an auditory learner, try putting lessons to music for memorization purposes. If you have a younger child, try using songs for ABC recognition, number recognition, etc. There are songs for everything! And most young children love to sing. So get singing!
  4. Tactile Learner: Tactile learners are also hands on. However, they learn best through experiencing learning through the sense of touch– and exploring their senses through learning. Tactile learners are the kids you find building blocks, working with math manipulatives for hours, or models and puzzles.
    1. APPLY IT: For younger kids, this should be a priority for fine motor skill development. Use manipulatives for math, color, shape and pattern exercises. You can find these everywhere. Our curriculum company, Mother Goose Time sends us new manipulatives each month to aid our learning experiences. We love them.

Once you have an idea of these four learning styles, you probably will be able to investigate and observe your child to discover which category they fit most into. If you are still wondering which category best fits your child, I would encourage you to read The Way They Learn.

It is also important to note that when your children are young, it is best to explore and integrate all four learning styles into your learning experiences. It helps our learning to be experienced fully. Also, note that being equipped with a good curriculum team is very important to your success in teaching and your children’s learning success.

We use Mother Goose Time Curriculum for our family and I have been amazed at how fulfilling my teaching experience has been — and the learning adventures my kids have made. Each month, MGT sends us a complete thematic curriculum to teach my children. It saves me so much time and has brought fun to my teaching experience.

On another note, as you grow alongside your children, remember to focus on them and not just your learning goals. When you do that, you will be amazed at what will happen. My three-year-old is going to go into kindergarten next year because he has already mastered the kindergarten entrance checklist.

Have you discovered your child’s learning style? Follow us on Facebook at The Davis Tribe

 

 

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When We Bury Our Dreams

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Our house was full of noise and laughter and life today. Except it wasn’t as loud as it could have been. It’s been nearly two years since our son, Beau was born sleeping, and nearly 8 months since we buried our son Montgomery.

You know, I thought that the hardest days would be the funeral, or the day writing their obituary —  definitely their birthdays when I would long to bake a cake and put hours into elaborate birthday parties because I’m just addicted to Pinterest. But lately those “hardest” days have hit me square in the face. I’m 28 years old and I have twice buried my dreams.

I remember those early days. Josh and I walking barefoot in the dirt of Africa, newly married, and dreaming about babies. We believed in babies as much as we believed in life. We had no idea what was ahead of us. And we wonder, what will come from all of this?

After Montgomery died, our friends, the Joyner’s invited us to spend some time at their beach house to get away and try to heal. I was praying God would meet me there. But I had no idea that he would meet me in the face of an older man named Gene.

From the first day we arrived, he was around –working, watching the water, cleaning the boats. And as usual, Josh found a friend in him. Gene invited us to go out on the water in his boat one day. He would drive us around and help us see life when all we could feel was death. He wouldn’t ask us questions. He didn’t have an agenda — he didn’t even talk about himself. In fact, by the end of our trip, all I knew about him was that he was kind and a man of few words, and that he loved eating mullet — a type of fish that feeds on the bottom of the Gulf.

But when I was around Gene, I knew I was around Jesus.B I didn’t know why, I just knew that God was showing me His face in Gene. He had a look in his eyes that looked like he had walked a hard road. And even though his heart was gentle, you could tell he still carried some of that pain. When we left to go home, Gene walked us out and I knew he wanted to tell us something. In that short time, we had grown to love Gene. He hugged us and told us that he could see how much we loved each other, and to remember to never forget that. And just like that, we left.

A few days later, I messaged Gene’s sister-in-law to tell them thank you for the hospitality. I told her how thankful we were to have met Gene. That’s when she told me that Gene’s son had died when he was young. He had walked through a similar road as we were. I wondered if I would still have that same look of pain in my eyes when I grew old one day.

We’ve been following Joey and Rory Feek and their journey in battling cancer. They’ve been such an integral part of our journey in grieving our sons, because of their music.

Today, for some odd reason, I woke up and the first thought in my head was to pray for them and that today, she was going home. So our home has been filled with laughter and noise and life today. Their music has been blaring through the halls, and this song stopped me in my tracks.

To Say Goodbye

He said I’ll call you Hon when I get there,
Ten minutes later he was in the air,
She dropped the kids at school and headed home,
Walked in and turned the front room TV on
She could tell that there was something wrong,
Every channel had the same thing on,
Now seven years have come and gone away,
But she’s still hurting like its yesterday,

‘Cuz she wants to put her arms around his neck,
and look in his eyes so blue,
and say Honey I don’t regret,
A single day I spent with you,
She wants to tell him that she loves him so,
and will until the day she dies,
It ain’t that she can’t let him go,
She just wants to say goodbye

He sits beside her in the nursing home,
Through her silver hair he runs a comb,
He hangs their wedding picture on the wall,
She don’t remember who he is at all,
He tells her stories about the life they’ve lived,
From their first kiss to their last grandkids,
For seven months now she just sits and stares,
But if she wakes up he’s gonna be right there,

‘Cuz he wants to put his arms around her neck,
and look in her eyes so blue,
and say Honey I won’t forget,
a single day I spent with you,
He wants to tell her that he loves her so,
and will until the day he dies,
it ain’t that he can’t let her go,
He just wants to say goodbye

No it ain’t let that we can’t let them go,
We just want to say goodbye

One thing I’ve learned from Joey’s journey is the power of being present with those you do have, right now. I’ve had many things change me since our boys died, some for the good and some that trapped me in my grief.

For a long time, I wrestled with the fear of losing more of my kids. Or of this place that feels so much better than Heaven to me — Home, with my husband and living kids, being taken away from me. That fear crippled me.

When I heard that Joey had died today, I remembered the legacy that she left and the look that their lives gave in how to say goodbye by living fully with those you love. And that, along with their songs, changed my perspective.

Take it from me that you don’t want to wait until you’ve buried your dreams to figure out the value of what is right in front of you. Love those that are in front of you. Life isn’t something to be sheltered because of fear of losing it all — or losing it all again. For all of us, our dreams will one day come to an end. But it’s really not an end. It’s an invitation into something much bigger than what we can see.

Don’t let fear keep you from enjoying the gift of life that you’ve been given. Don’t let busyness and ambition, and strife keep you from finding the joy in a simple life. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the joy that is right there at your fingertips. And don’t waste time because whether we like it or not, we all are running out of that.

Above all else, I’ve learned from their story that you really don’t need to say goodbye. But you can live in a way that makes saying goodbye irrelevant.

I’ve twice buried my dreams. But I wouldn’t trade my story for anything. Having to say goodbye to someone we love, means that we have had the gift of living life with those we can’t live without.

Enjoy Heaven, Joey. Your life lives on.

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Does Jesus Walk Around Your Home?

Does jesus walk around your home-

I was thirteen years old the night Jesus met me in an attic room of our old farmhouse. That’s the day my life changed forever. A decade later, I had watched Him come running to the broken in 20 countries. I watched cataracts fall from a blind man’s eyes under the light of an African moon. And I married the love of my life who shared a heart for God and the world under that same African sky. But the greatest miracle I have ever witnessed was when my first baby — born much too soon weighing only a pound — came crashing into my world. We watched as God proved Himself strong through her and she is now a thriving four year old with no deficits.

My story used to end there — with a miraculous telling of a baby who shouldn’t have lived and did. People lit up my social media pages with “God is good” and rightly so. He is. He always is. But my story — our story– changed again one rainy morning in August when our third baby, Beau was born sleeping. I’ll never forget the sound of the rain that morning on the window, or the fear and shame I had of letting the world know that God did not answer our prayers. And even in the midst of daring hope, we learned that lightening can strike twice, and we left the hospital again with empty arms and faced with writing another obituary and funeral for a son we would never be able to hold again in this life.

“But my story — our story– changed again one rainy morning in August when our third baby, Beau was born sleeping. I’ll never forget the sound of the rain that morning on the window, or the fear and shame I had of letting the world know that God did not answer our prayers.”

I couldn’t write it — but my spirit ached with the awareness that He still was good. He still was there — HERE. He had never left. He hadn’t lost or somehow chosen to turn his head away from our suffering. The miracle in this deep, dark place was that Heaven had still won. And my boys were in a place that possessed a reality I had only hoped for in days past.

“I couldn’t write it — but my spirit ached with the awareness that He still was good. He still was there — HERE. He had never left.”

For a long time I couldn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time. The sting of shock crippled me. Eventually I realized that my husband and living children were grieving too. And our kids needed us to guide them in walking through the pain and bewilderment of a loss that their little minds couldn’t understand.

We started asking Jesus to walk around our home. Whether we felt Him or not, each day we invited Him near. Our family is still walking through the ashes of the loss we have encountered. There are highs and lows, but His presence never waivers. And our kids know Jesus is here.

Raising our kids in God’s presence is more than attempting a glorified Sunday school. It is the very essence of the calling we have as parents –to help them cultivate a personal history with Jesus. And what we teach them will determine how soon they begin to walk in their destinies — and the fullness in which they walk it out.

“Helping our kids cultivate a personal history with God starts with simply asking Jesus to walk around our home.”

So how do we go about this task of connecting the Creator with our little ones? Truth is, we can’t. When I left for Africa the morning after high school graduation, I expected to bring Jesus to the world. What I soon realized was that He was already there when my plane landed!

The same lesson is one we often learn as parents — we cannot do what only God can do. We can’t make our children be anything or become what we envision. But we can make sure to put them in front of His presence. We can become examples of lives laid down for Him alone.

In grieving the loss of our sons, we realized that the greatest thing we could model to our children about suffering was to be transparent in our ashes and show them each day by living out the reality of depending on God for everything.

So how do we help our kids cultivate their own history with God?

  1. Stop comparing Jesus to the Easter Bunny. One of my biggest fears early on was that my kids would equate Jesus to Santa, the Easter Bunny, or other cultural stories we pass down to our children. I didn’t want them to know Him because of my story. I wanted them to learn about Him from hearing His voice. If you want your kids to cultivate a personal history with God, it’s time to talk about Him like He is real and present with us.

  2. Ask God about His dreams for your kids. What is His heart for your child? Have you asked Him? When we begin to hear His voice for our children, we can partner with God for the destiny He has for them. 

  3. Daily speak destiny over them. Our words have power. I’ve been in public and cringed over words I have heard spoken from parents over their children. What are you speaking over your kids? Being intentional about our charge over them means we can partner with God’s heart for our kids by speaking destiny –what He sees in them–each day.

  4. Call out the gold. It is easy to find fault in your children. Especially on days where you are over-stressed, over-stretched, and over-tired. Make an effort to be intentional about calling out the gold in your kids — those things that God has placed in them that can impact the world around them. What gifts do you see God has placed in them? When you see flaws, speak the opposite over them. It sounds like a silly and simple task, but this even applies to toddlers. When my kids were potty training, if one of them had an accident, the other would call them a “baby” because they didn’t have it all together. One day, when this was happening, I told my oldest that we were not going to use negative words towards each other. I told them when we make mistakes, it doesn’t mean that is who we are – it doesn’t change our identity. I asked her to call her brother a name that would encourage him – and she did. Now when our kids make mistakes (which we all do everyday), my kids will respond by cheering each other on. If my little boy had an accident, my daughter would say, “Come on Tuck, you are a big boy. You can do it. We will try again next time.” Even at a young age, my kids are learning to call out the gold in each other.

  5. Live as a family on a mission. Do you know God’s purpose for your family? I know in our culture, we have been gorged with the idea of finding our individual purposes. But we can’t forget we have been made for each other! Spend time asking God about His dreams for your family. And then be intentional about living those adventures together as a family. Your greatest way to make sure that your kids cultivate a deep history with God is to cultivate your family’s history with God with them.

“Your greatest way to make sure that your kids cultivate a deep history with God is to cultivate your family’s history with God with them.”

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Experiencing God in Homeschooling

experiencing God.jpg

I was thirteen years old the night Jesus met me in an attic room of our old farmhouse. That’s the day my life changed forever. A decade later, I had watched Him come running to the broken in 20 countries. I watched cataracts fall from a blind man’s eyes under the light of an African moon. And I married the love of my life who shared a heart for God and the world under that same African sky. But the greatest miracle I have ever witnessed was when my first baby — born much too soon weighing only a pound — came crashing into my world. We watched as God proved Himself strong through her and she is now a thriving four year old with no deficits.

My story used to end there — with a miraculous telling of a baby who shouldn’t have lived and did. People lit up my social media pages with “God is good” and rightly so. He is. He always is. But my story — our story– changed again one rainy morning in August when our third baby, Beau was born sleeping. I’ll never forget the sound of the rain that morning on the window, or the fear and shame I had of letting the world know that God did not answer our prayers. And even in the midst of daring hope, we learned that lightening can strike twice, and we left the hospital again with empty arms and faced with writing another obituary and funeral for a son we would never be able to hold again in this life.

“But my story — our story– changed again one rainy morning in August when our third baby, Beau was born sleeping. I’ll never forget the sound of the rain that morning on the window, or the fear and shame I had of letting the world know that God did not answer our prayers.”

I couldn’t write it — but my spirit ached with the awareness that He still was good. He still was there — HERE. He had never left. He hadn’t lost or somehow chosen to turn his head away from our suffering. The miracle in this deep, dark place was that Heaven had still won. And my boys were in a place that possessed a reality I had only hoped for in days past.

“I couldn’t write it — but my spirit ached with the awareness that He still was good. He still was there — HERE. He had never left.”

For a long time I couldn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time. The sting of shock crippled me. Eventually I realized that my husband and living children were grieving too. And our kids needed us to guide them in walking through the pain and bewilderment of a loss that their little minds couldn’t understand.

We started asking Jesus to walk around our home. Whether we felt Him or not, each day we invited Him near. Our family is still walking through the ashes of the loss we have encountered. There are highs and lows, but His presence never waivers. And our kids know Jesus is here.

Raising our kids in God’s presence is more than attempting a glorified Sunday school. It is the very essence of the calling we have as parents –to help them cultivate a personal history with Jesus. And what we teach them will determine how soon they begin to walk in their destinies.

“Helping our kids cultivate a personal history with God starts with simply asking Jesus to walk around our home.”

This week, we have been working with Mother Goose Time’s Experiencing God Add-on in addition to our weekly homeschooling curriculum. As a missionary, I had noticed that we had “dropped the ball” in teaching our kids the Bible in a way where they own it.

Children learn with all of their senses. Simple things like hearing stories, reading books, making crafts, and feeling out all of their senses can solidify their learning to more than memorization. We have been learning about the story of Moses and God rescuing His people through a man who said yes to God’s dreams for him. It has been such a joy getting a front row seat to watching God encounter each of my kids.

Our journey through grief is still unfolding. But Jesus is walking around our house. 

Take a look at a day in our life Experiencing God together:

 

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