Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Balanced Challenge: Day 4

What have you been called by God to do? Take a few minutes away from work and family to sit with your Bible and talk to God. Believe that God placed your dreams and passions in your heart. Find a verse that speaks to you about this, and post it today on your blog.

This one was tough for me. For the longest time I think I was misguided as to what I was called by God to do. Instead of really listening, I pushed what I 'thought' I wanted...or what the world told me I wanted.
I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Focusing my time and energy on my child(ren). But that really isn't my only job. Yes, that is certainly part of my calling. But God has bigger plans for me than that.
"A person may think up plans. But the Lord decides what he will do." Proverbs 16:9
If you are new to my blog you don't know I have infertility. Despite divine intervention, I will never conceive or carry biological children. During my struggle with infertility, decision to adopt, and long wait for a match I wrote my feelings and the process here on my blog.
To date, my most influential and widely read post was written the day my sister told me she was pregnant. I had replies from people I had never heard of. People were copying the text of my message and sending it to their family and friends to try to explain how it feels to struggle with infertility and hear someone close to you has (seemingly) effortlessly conceived and concealed the entire process. I have talked to many people who have struggled with infertility and many more who are seeking adoption to build their families. In many ways I feel that God is going to use this part of my life so I can help other people in this same trench. However, now is not that time. I feel like he is going to use me for that later. I don't know how and I am not sure when, but I think that part of my story is still developing.
I will continue to help people as they come along and I love talking about infertility and adoption. But I also know God will use this later.
"There is a right time for everything. Everything on earth has its special season." Ecclesiastes 3:1
Right now I believe God wants me to be in a kindergarten classroom. I joke that I got the grade kindergarten ...and infertility...and chose adoption...because I made the mistake of asking God to teach me patience. Ha! Well I certainly have an abundance of patience now!!!
Be very careful what you pray for!
As I was reading to Wyatt tonight I came across this verse:
"Remember this: The person who plants a little will have a small harvest. But the person who plants a lot will have a big harvest." 2 Corinthians 9:6
This really hits on my current calling. I want to impact little lives. I want to teach children to live lives like Jesus. By teaching in a public school I am able to reach people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear about God, other than the casual cultural references to things such as the santa-ized version of Christmas and the easter-bunny version of Easter. I can encourage my students to attend Good News Club. I am actually given a lot more freedom to talk about God and Jesus than many people think I am, given I teach in a public school.
As long as I don't put down any other religion, or tell students what they have to believe, I am allowed to share the good news of Jesus. Of course I also have to share about other religions, but so far I haven't had any children interested in them. They have questions, and I feel that I am really good at answering in a non-judgmental, purely factual way. Instead I have students bringing in their Bibles to read with their friends.

 What is interesting to me is when I was in college I didn't even start my major in education. I started in Interior Design. I was talking about how impersonal and lonely the job was proving to be and my dad pointed out a picture of me with a family friend. He mentioned how when I was with children my eyes just lit up. It was very clear to him all along that I needed to be doing something with children. :o)

This post is part of the Balanced challenge with Tricia Goyer—and you can join, too!
Get Balanced!
Tricia Goyer Balanced

Balanced Challenge: Day 3

Yes, I am posting more than one day today. I confess, I already read most of the book before deciding to join the challenge so really...who cares.
Today's challenge is Get the Kids Involved
How can you get your kids involved in what you’re working on? How can they experience what your job is like and contribute to it? For me, that meant allowing my kids to come with me on research trips or to meet people I was interviewing. Write a blog post about different ways you can involve your kids in your job, then stop by others’ blogs to see if you can use their ideas with this task!

Well. That is actually quite easy. Wyatt helps me with teaching every day. I experiment on him a lot. ;o) When I see a good way to have the kids in my class work on the alphabet I try it out on Wyatt first. If he can do it (at two years of age) then certainly the kids in my class will be able to. One would hope.

I also love going to the book store to check out great books to use in my classroom. Of course I try them out with Wyatt first. As well as nearly every other book in the book store. And a stop at the train table.

Wyatt also comes to school with me for after school functions. He comes to family game night, craft night, science night. Our school is really good at creating activities for all ages to participate in. We recognize the little brothers and sisters at the events will be future students and we want them to be involved, too! Wyatt benefits from me working at the school and being able to be involved with these activities.

I also find a ton of great ides while searching for teaching ideas that just wouldn't be feasible with 25 five and six year olds, but are perfect to do with one!

Teaching kindergarten has also helped me see how durable kids are. I know Wyatt won't break if he goes down the slide by himself. I know he will want to jump off of tall things. I know nearly everything washes off and can be cleaned up later. I know he needs to get messy and explore the world and play is much more important than keeping his white shirts looking good.
Although Wyatt is technically my first child, it is more like he is a second or third because I have been around children so much. I don't have many of the first child fears. I think this will be beneficial to him in the long run.
Also, one of the huge benefits Wyatt will receive from me being a teacher was actually pointed out to me by my school's fabulous (and godly) music teacher. The students our children will interact with in school are the same people they will be interacting with in the real world. By being there with them when they are young to see how they are interacting with and treating people of various socioeconomic and culturally diverse backgrounds I will actually be able to have conversations with Wyatt about his actions and how to treat people as a Christian. The music teacher at my school has already had several opportunities to correct and shape her daughter's actions and behaviors. Seeing this firsthand has really opened my eyes to the importance of taking an active role in my child(ren)'s social interactions.
My school also has our state's largest Good News Club each week. Nearly half of the students in my school attend this Christian organization once a week. Students bring their Bibles to school and see their teachers teaching lessons from the Bible.
Every teacher in my building is a Christian. I have yet to meet a student who is not a Christian (at my current school). By seeing who goes to Good News Club I know who I can talk to in class about Jesus. It is pretty much as close to a Christian School as we can get in a public school setting. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Balanced Challenge: Day 2

Today is day two (for me) of the Balanced Challenge by Tricia Goyer. Today's questions are:
What can you do or change to make working from home actually work for you? Creating an office space? Cleaning up that office space? Looking into finding a babysitter for a few hours a day? Take the first steps in making the change, then take a photo of your progress and post it on your blog.
Well, this is a little awkward. I don't actually work from home. I decided to read the book and participate in the challenge anyway because I feel nearly everything still applies to me as a mom who works outside the home. After all, I still have work that I do at home. I teach full day kindergarten in a public school. I plan lessons and research more effective ways to teach and impact the little lives I am in charge of teaching. 
I have an office space, but it is currently more like a dumping ground. It is so bad that I actually put a baby gate up so Wyatt cannot get in there and knock all my piles over. ::blush::
I currently have my laptop set up in the living room so I can research teaching methods in between playing with and taking care of Wyatt. 
My eventual plan is to move my office space to a nook off of our kitchen. To do that I need to move the furniture out of that room to the basement. But before I can move the furniture to the basement I need to clean up the basement and paint the basement floor (or at least throw down some carpet scraps). 
I feel a little bit like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." 
I am currently in Florida and not remotely close to my office so I cannot add any photos today. I will have to come back and update later!

The biggest challenge I have is finding enough energy at the end of the long school day to play with Wyatt, clean the house, cook dinner, etc. before I fall asleep! 
I have been trying to use the FlyLady system for years, but never seem to do all of her little jobs each day. I also got the Clean Enough ebook in a book bundle a while ago. And yesterday checking everyone else's answers to today's challenge I found Amy at Gospel Homemaking and her To-Do lists. 
I had tried in the past to take FlyLady's ideas and put them into a daily or weekly rotating to-do list, but I got bogged down with the list changing every week and month.  Amy has basically done this for me! All I have to do is go to her website and print off the weekly to-do list and I am ready to go. I am going to try this when I get home to see if it is more effective for me. 

To keep up with dinner I subscribe to eMeals. They email me a menu each week along with the shopping list for feeding four people 7 dinners. There are always leftovers for me to take to school for lunch the following day so basically I just need to add breakfast and snack items to the list emailed to me weekly and my shopping is done! Unfortunately, we have fallen a bit off the wagon and have just been eating out lately because it is easier. But really, this isn't difficult. I just need to go to the store and do it. 

Get Balanced!
Tricia Goyer Balanced
This post is part of the Balanced challenge with Tricia Goyer—and you can join, too!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Balanced Challenge: Day 1

Is anyone still out there? I am probably the worse blogger known to mankind, but I think I am okay with that. I can only do what I can do. I would rather spend time with Wyatt during the day and sleep at night than spend my time on the computer while Wyatt plays alone or waste by precious sleeping time by staying up late to type a blog post. Sorry. ;o) 
I have decided that it was worth breaking my 9 month hiatus by joining the Balanced Challenge with Tricia Goyer. 
Pinterest is pretty much the only thing I do on the computer anymore because I can do it with one hand and half an eye-ball. I can open links and read them later or change my mind and close the window. It doesn't take much thought or concentration and I am able to get valuable information to help my life, parenting skills, teaching ideas, decorating ideas, etc... 
I kept clicking on these pictures on pinterest that really seemed to apply to me. I opened all the windows and they all linked to the same challenge! The same thing happened the next day, and the next! I can take a hint. So I coughed up the $2.00 or so for the ebook to be sent to the kindle app on my ipad. 
I started reading the book yesterday and thought I would just read the book without formally participating in the challenge online. After all, I hadn't posted on my blog in over 9 months. That hardly qualifies me as a blogger. 
But then I started reading. 
And I NEEDED to write down my answers to the questions at the end of each chapter. I also NEEDED to read the responses of other people reading this book and transforming their lives little by little each day. I clicked through everyone else's responses for the first three day's worth of challenges. I wrote my responses on paper in a spiral bound notebook. 
Then it struck me how silly it was to do all the work and not keep the answers in any permanent way for anyone else to glean from. Not that I think I have too much to offer... but I figured I might want to remember my answers someday. 
So here I go! I am officially joining the Balanced Challenge. I think I am something like 8 or 9 days late. Oh well! Better late than never, right? 
Get Balanced!
Tricia Goyer Balanced

This post is part of the Balancedchallenge with Tricia Goyer—and you can join, too!

March 11: Family Priorities (Chapter One)
Determine what your priorities as a family are. Ask yourself a few questions: What do we want to achieve as a family? What will matter five years from now—ten years from now? What will mold our children into God-serving adults? What will bring peace—not stress—to our home?

After reading everyone else's responses I created a list for my family. I haven't checked with Sparky yet, but I cannot imagine him having trouble with any of it. (No! I don't want to eat dinner with you and Wyatt in the evenings!)
I decided to create a list in an outline format because it appealed to be best. I stole copied from Kelly Stoner. Maybe if I link to her she won't mind too much that I took her idea. ;o)

Background info: Sparky (not his real name) and I have adopted one child, Wyatt. He turned 2 on January 2nd. Wyatt wants a "baby sister" but we are not currently working for that. We would love to adopt another baby, but Sparky needs to get an increase in salary first so we can afford daycare for two! Sparky is currently taking a class to earn master's degree salary, he only has two more classes to go after this one!!! WA-HOO!!!!
Since I have no idea if our second child will be a boy or a girl, I will be include the female pronouns just in case. Also, as my mom points out, no one may want to give us another baby so I will try to include the singular and plural when referring to one child or two chidlren...although that is proving to be hard to do without sounding ridiculous. In which case, I will assume my mom is crazy and people will be knocking down our door wanting to bless us with another baby and we will have two children. ;o)

1. Raise child(ren) to be Godly wo/men by:
       A. reading the Bible in front of them and with them (Child Training Bible, Jesus Storybook Bible, etc.)
       B. attending and being involved with a community of believers (ie Church- we need to find one Sparky and I both like)
       C. praying together (breakfast, before school, dinner, before bed, etc.)
2. Raise healthy, educated, responsible child(ren) by:
       A. teaching them/him about good nutrition
       B. teaching them/him HOW to learn
       C. intentionally teaching character and values (Joy School)
       D. limiting extra-curricular activities to one at a time per person
       E. limiting small groups to one at a time (Awana, Bible Study Fellowship, Good News Club, etc.)
3. Build our family bond by:
       A. having dinner together as much as possible
       B. spending quality time together
       C. Having weekly family meetings to discuss what is working well and what isn't, as well as discuss the upcoming weekly calendar (include the "Joys" as child(ren) get older)
       D. being aware that we are each part of a family unit and each have responsibilities in it
4. Seek God's direction for our lives individually and as a family, and follow him

This exercise was actually quite nice just so I could pull all of my resources together. I can see where I still need to fill in some spaces and where I have already fleshed out some great plans. I think having all of this typed up will help me follow through in areas where I currently just have good intentions.