|As always, the most "cooperative" photo subjects around. Ha.|
I have done a dozen or more of these kind of "general update" posts in the past and I'm afraid that's what you're going to get from me this time. I have such writer's block lately! So for those of you who like to know basically what's going on with our family currently, this is a post for you.
During this season of Lent, I decided to take a break from Instagram. I love the IG community (the one I'm part of anyway) and have found many women in similar circumstances as me out there. We post about our day-to-day stuff, we post about issues of motherhood, adoption, homeschooling and faith and we support and pray for one another through the connections we've made on Instagram.
All that sounds pretty nice, yeah? Nothing there really conflicting with my values and my faith, right?
However, I started to realize that my Instagram friends were becoming more and more, my representation of who Christ is. So when I'd have a tough day, I'd take it to Instagram. When I had a good day, I'd take it to Instagram.
All the while, I continued seeking the Lord and praising Him (even on Instagram), but what I realized is that when something good or bad happened, I wasn't taking it to Him FIRST. My prayers to Him were often in the same moments I was posting stuff online. I wasn't often giving Him my undivided attention and I wasn't really listening for His answers. The voices of other humans -- even in the form of text and photos -- was so fulfilling that I started noticing that I was using Instagram as my main faith-building tool, instead of just a tool provided so that I might connect with others of similar faith. What I mean is that my path to God is through Christ Jesus and not through IG.
I was putting too much focus on Instagram and putting less focus on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Having all these new connections with people were (and still is) great! But not if they squeeze out the main point of my life.
I do intend to return to Instagramming after Lent because I enjoy connecting with others around the globe in Christ's Name and I appreciate the regularity of photo-journaling our lives, but I think it was important to have this set time of focusing solely on my faith through other means -- the Bible, other readings, writing, journaling, praying, serving others and church services. It's not only a time to regain perspective on my true priorities, but also a time to prepare my heart and mind for Easter. To really dwell on God's mercy and goodness and the sacrifice He made on the cross for me.
I'm not telling you that Instagram is bad, more or less than other forms of social media. I'm saying that in my case, it was starting to become a central focus more than something off to the side that the Lord has blessed me with to connect with and inspire others. My central focus is and should be God and Instagram is not any kind of substitute for Him.
So for once, I'm not going to tell you to go click that square camera icon on the right because there is nothing current being posted. If you want to look at some older stuff, have at it! But for realsies, this post is the most current thing being said about the goings on.
All that aside, this Lenten season has been very fulfilling. I have seen blessings upon blessings come to our family in ways that can only point to God. He is amazing.
We are preparing ourselves for a scouting trip to the Houston area of Texas in early April where we have felt the Spirit nudging us to move. We aren't yet aware of any timeline, nor do we know how the move and life thereafter will be financed, but we are doing what we can to be obedient to His leading and otherwise, waiting upon Him to push open the doors (or shut them tight) so that we may proceed.
Today, I bought the kids flip-flops to wear when we visit the Gulf of Mexico while we're close by it. Of course, the rest of the time, our hotel has a swimming pool, so those will come in handy on multiple days. It seems funny since our high-temperatures have been wavering around the 50s still. But in a few weeks and down Houston way, it's likely to be a lot warmer, so we're going prepared to vacation a bit while we're exploring the area.
We are still unschooling and home schooling and learning as part of our daily lives and I see the kids really starting to gravitate to a place where they take more individual responsibility for their brains and filling them with good knowledge. H and Z start their days now by writing a list of projects or assignments they are going to work on and checking things off as they go. Before, I had to beg them to write down the assignments I was giving them and they'd barely know what they wrote because they abbreviated everything I told them. Now, they are creating their own lists. This is much better for all of us.
While I spent years trying to figure out how to divide the kids into separate groups because none of them seemed to accomplish much when we were altogether, the kids now voluntarily partner up for different subjects or projects. Just Friday, Z was doing a math worksheet and O decided to do a math worksheet, too, and sat down beside him. Meanwhile, H felt like painting, so he got it all set up at the kitchen table and J joined him to paint, too. Later, J and O spent time reading a book together. It's great! More natural or "organic" learning going on as some might say.
Recently, I put out a 1000 piece puzzle of the Periodic Table of the Elements and every kid spent a little or a lot of time putting this together and I would sit there sometimes and we would talk about this chart we were building. It's finished (see photo above) and they all felt a sense of accomplishment. We've always had little kids around and this was not possible before. But now that they've had a taste for it, when I came across a historical castle puzzle the other day, they were begging me to put it out for them to work on for the next week. I just may.
I'm also incorporating new-to-us books onto our shelves and learning DVDs into the collection. Z has fallen in love with the Popular Mechanics for Kids, Season 1 DVD I got for cheap on Amazon (on sale) a couple weeks ago. He watches each episode and writes down dozens of scientific and interesting facts from them. I hear him telling the others about stuff he's learned. Pretty soon, I'll need to start tracking down other seasons for him!
J started writing a story on the computer. She doesn't know how to type and is still not a strong speller, but she is learning both as she tediously pecks out each word in her story. Meanwhile, she's learning computer skills like how to use a Word Processor and how to save files and reopen them later. It's also the kind of creating that causes less of a mess, which for her is really saying something!
O is really starting to get into using apps on my iPad to work on his reading (and other) skills. It's nice to get him to sit still for a bit to "play games," and meanwhile he's just eating up books that are being read to him on the Reading Rainbow app or pretending to be a ninja chopping certain planets in two or whatever. He's also learning how to make the most of technology available to us.
H has been walking to and from our local library several times a week. He volunteers there and attends just about every class or learning opportunity being held there. Meanwhile, I noticed today how droopy his pants are getting around his waist. I think he's burning some extra calories on that uphill hike! Big time P.E. points. He has started reading classic novels to enrich his mind and he's working on Dracula right now and has shared his struggles and victories in reading the old language it's written in. Friends from the library are encouraging him to try some Shakespeare and even though I've talked about it for years, he's finally thinking he might give Shakespeare a try.
I'm really amazed by our kids and even better, there is so much less argument about schoolwork around here. I see them challenging themselves regularly and asking tougher questions. I love our new format so far.
We are doing a USA project with families we've met on Instagram. We are receiving packages from different states and then replying with information about New Mexico to them. I have had no problem convincing the kids to write back to these strangers. In the meantime, Z has decided he likes writing letters for the moment, so I have a couple sitting here for family members that I need to mail out this week. It's great! We are practicing map skills, writing skills and learning U.S. geography all through this USA project.
C has had a lot going on with work lately and he's still cooking. He and I have been eating mostly grain-free, sugar-free (not substituting artificial sweeteners) and processed-free for a bit now and we're seeing some pounds dropping off again and we feel a lot better. He's got some corned beef pastrami smoking right now in time for our St. Patrick's Day dinner tomorrow night. We'll have sweet potatoes and cabbage with that and he might splurge and make a gluten-free bread from scratch (he got a new cook book).
He also sold our pop-up tent trailer last weekend and has gotten the big van ready to be listed. This is all part of our preparations for moving. Though he's busy with work, he's still an important part of the home-prep team.
I've had a few photography opportunities this month so far. I did a family shoot and part of a senior portrait shoot. I'm meeting with the senior again tomorrow morning and have another senior portrait shoot set for the end of the month. I will be doing engagement pictures for my youngest sister and my soon-to-be brother-in-law some time this month, too. It's exciting to see these things taking off primarily by word of mouth advertising. I haven't committed to starting a business yet (even though I have the most encouraging husband in that regard), but I don't mind these random opportunities to build my portfolio.
Currently, I'm reading the book, Prodigals, by Ruth Bell Graham and I'm working my way into other books as time permits. I've been reading the Word every morning. I'm trying to journal, even though I'm not very good at that. I'm working on household reduction and organization in preparation for the move.
Next weekend, we are going to a concert as a family! It's The Bible: Son of God tour. Should be a good time filled with praises for our Lord. Now that the kids are a bit older, we are finding it easier to take them to concerts (and since we homeschool, it doesn't matter that they run super late). Winter Jam and Hillsong United were great. Looking forward to more events like these with the kids.
We have also seen some good movies together like Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Loved it! Still have yet to see Frozen, but it'll be in the dollar theater soon enough.
Have you been to any good movies or concerts lately? Please feel free to comment about them.
Thank you for reading.