Thursday, August 24, 2017

Homegrown Catholics Giveaway 2017

There are seasons in the year and in my life where I can tell my Love Language is Giving Gifts. I've been so excited about this giveaway for months, but haven't been able to get it together until now. (I guess there will be an advantage to the procrastinators who haven't filled out their homeschool planner yet.) If you don't need it, maybe you know someone who does? I hope that with this opportunity, I'll be able to find out what my readers enjoy from my blog and Facebook posts. Hopefully you'll be inspired by something new today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Homeschool Teacher & Student Planner
 ($35 Value)
This is a Catholic Homeschool Teacher and Student Planner, complete with storage tote and pencil case. I hang this on the back of my chair at the table where we homeschool. Each planner is spiral bound with a clear cover. You can read all about the planners and see pictures here:
Relaxed Home Education Planner  {Available for Purchase as a PDF}

1st Prize: Teacher Planner PDF file ($10 value)

2nd Prize: Student Planner PDF file ($5 value)

3rd Prize: Lent Activities PDF file ($10 value)

4th Prize: Catholic Mass Seek & Find Cards and Mass Bingo PDF file ($8 Value)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 14, 2017

Autumn Approaches

As I drive through the countryside near my home, an August day looks and feels like autumn. The trees are just starting to turn colors in an upper corner branch, the tall grass is waving back and forth in the breeze, and I'm amazed at the beauty that God has put before me. I'm thinking all the way, I should be decorating my home with fall colors and looking for an electric fireplace for the basement. Are the blankets aired out? Have the mosquitoes got the message to stay away? We need more campfires. These little hints of fall make me want to snuggle up to a good book with a cup of coffee, my children around me on each side, and just FALL in love with the stories and my family all over again. To be surrounded in cozy warmth and carelessness.

But wait, that's not autumn. Autumn is when school begins, and we homeschool. Autumn is when I have no time to call my own because I'm busy with our groups and parish, noses into our academics, and every moment planned out to get it all in. We do get more time outside, but it's drenched in learning and purpose, to not waste a single moment.

So for that reason, I cling onto summer with one hand and reach out to autumn with the other. I still have that urge to go to the lake to swim or watch the kids dance at the splash pad. There's still time to have adventures like geocaching, packing picnics, taking a bike ride, taking a vacation up North, or visiting the outdoor zoo. I am born with the zeal for long nights and weakness for late mornings. I still want to get down to the sewing machine to stitch up a quilt or crochet the hat and fingerless gloves I've been working on for 3 years before they are needed. There is spring cleaning that didn't get done, wood projects that clutter the garage, things to fix, curriculum to plan, and children to send out on barefoot adventures. My summer list of frivolous and random things is long. I want to visit all my friends before they are huddled under their books with their children around them, learning about God's mysteries. Before they are tuned primarily into their home and school activities. THIS is that crazy time of year when I try to cram in everything we desired the other 9 months of the year, and feel overwhelmed when I can't, because I know that a season is coming to its end.

Autumn approaches, and I am not ready to let go of Summer.

God, Creator of the seasons,
 I ask to remain steadfast with all the things that I want to accomplish this summer. Keep my mind from the distraction of all those projects that can be put off until I'm tucked inside this winter. Give me eyes that see my children's summertime as a moment to be free from complexity. Remind me to include them in necessary tasks. Please forgive me for the times I forget to include you in my day. In all this, I hope to remember what it means to be a child of God. 

Mary, Most Holy, I ask for your prayers and guidance to be a humble wife and housekeeper, diligent in my tasks, so that when my husband comes home from work we are not riddled with a list projects and chores, rather ready for fruitful family activities.

Holy Spirit, I will continue to remember to 'Respond with Love' in every action and word, as I seek to use the gifts you so graciously bestowed upon me. God, I am amazed when I see the goodness and blessings in every aspect of my life, no matter the season. Thank you, Lord.  Amen

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Own Understanding

Psalm 3:5-6
I've spent years telling others to "Trust in God" because no matter how much I worry, it didn't make things better. But when I trusted that God had my back through the tough times, making me stronger and more knowledgeable, it was easier to bear. Even through the toughest trials, I could always see God when I looked back. That's how I get through my husband's unemployment, angry days of homeschooling, regular hormonal shifts and food sensitivities that bring on depression and anxiety, acceptance of having a large family through multiple cesarean deliveries, among other trials.
Now God is preparing me for the next part of his Word to us. "Lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him [or 'submit to him.']" I don't do this in ALL things. Somehow I keep thinking I can outwit God, by justifying what I want to do, rationalizing and putting a twist in my favor. He's been making it clearer to me lately that it isn't going to work. Resisting God pushes him further away, as well as burdening other things in my life I thought I was justifying.
Most recently I've had doubts of my efforts in parenting, homeschooling, friendships, and use of NFP. I've hit some low points, weak moments and put my knees down in the confessional more often than usual. Last weekend a homily hit me so straight in the heart, I had to take a crying room break (in the restroom stall) for myself. The more I ask God to work in my life, the more he reveals himself to me. Sometimes in ways that make my life a little harder, complicated or stressful. But I keep reminding myself, "Trust in God.... Lean not on your own understanding, Melissa. He's always been there to comfort and pick you up. His plan is so much greater than yours!"
This was true a few months ago when I had all the paperwork filled out to send my kids to public charter school. I even sent it in and they were accepted. After 11 years of homeschooling, now with 7 children, I had had it. I was so certain this is what I had to do to bring some sanity to our family life. But when it came down to filling out the final registration papers and making it all official, I couldn't do it. I was being tugged at by my heart. So I prayed, I prayed so hard and reflected on all the reasons I was doing this. I asked God to make it clear to me and He did. It turns out the only real reason I had to send them off was my own insecurities and lack of discipline, not my children's. It was myself setting too high expectations for our academics and how I thought our days should look like. So it wasn't my children that had to change, it is me. I now feel my life is certainly not about me, it's about God using my talents in this world to bring others - to bring my children closer to Him. He has expressed in my heart that a home education is part of their path. I've spent every day since trying to work out the issues in myself and our homeschool expectations. It has lead me to a deep review of homeschool styles and curriculum, making some big leaps in what will do this next school year. It's helped me make some big leaps in my faith life and personal reflection. See, God knows better. Always in hindsight.
I think every trial I make it through with God at my side, that is how I acknowledge Him. That I include Him in every decision, every moment of anxiety, every outward act and inward thought.
So today I encourage you to keep this bible verse near to your heart, and posted somewhere you'll see it each day. Right next to that Serenity Prayer. Perhaps you too will realize that submitting to God's will can make your paths straight.

****** For those who are looking ahead to planning your next homeschool year, with trust in God, I hope you'll consider taking a look at my NEW Relaxed Home Education Planner for teachers and students.

Homegrown Catholics - Homeschool Planner

and coming soon a variation - a Simple Subject Planner


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