Old Memories; New Adventures

Yesterday was a gamut of emotions for our family...sadness and joy.

Sadness: The day began with the loud sound of small trees and brush crunching under the spinning blade of a large bush-hogging machine. To the dismay of my children (although they had a week to prepare themselves for this moment), "their" play area housing many a forts and re-enactments was being cleared in the name of 'fire safety'. Zach snapped a few shots of the moment - a moment marking change - a moment marking fond memories of paintball and airsoft games - memories of Revolutionary & Civil War re-enactments - memories of games like "bear" with friends - memories of tree climbing and fort building...all lending way to a new season of barrenness (until the growth of scrub and vines return). "The Lord," I said, "has been so very good to us to allow this extended play area for 15 years!" On now to other adventures, whatever they may be...

Joy: The day ended with an afternoon of blessed memories of what the Lord has done in the marriage of Mark and I - 20 years! How He, before we knew Him, had His hand on us preserving our union during difficult times and now how blessed we are to see His presence and purpose even then. We enjoyed sweet conversation and shared our hopes, prayers and desires for what He will do in our future. The anticipation of another child - to think how far He has grown us (literally as well) in even that area of marriage. When we married, "one was enough". Then, when we built our home 15 years ago, "well maybe one more". Then a continued softening of my heart to "I'm done by age 30". Now, here we are with soon to be seven, seen as foolishness to the world, but embraced by us as blessing.

Holding on to the His equipping and wisdom as we raise this next generation to glory in Him.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

Prayer, Planning & Preparation - Part 4 (Preparation)

Prayers are continual for this coming year and the new season we will be entering into. Planning is finished: schedules (the most challenging yet), chore charts and meal planning for the start of our school year are complete - next will be the trial run in a few weeks to see where they will need to be tweaked. Preparations have been underway for the changes that we are expecting and have planned for (of course, the Lord knows how He will direct each day...we can only plan for them ;P).

This post will complete the 3 part topic of Prayer, Planning & Preparations, of which I will cover the last part. What does it mean to prepare? According to Noah Websters 1828 Dictionary, prepare means: to make all things ready; to put things in suitable order; to make one's self ready. Just like with planning we can look to the Bible for examples of what it means to prepare. The Proverbs 31 woman did not wait until there was a 'need' to begin preparing, but instead looked well to the ways of her household and gives us an example of putting to 'action' what she had been called to do as a wife, mother and manager of her home. (Proverbs 31:10-31) Being a wife, mother and manager of the home are a good work, which the Lord has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10) As we go about preparing, remember that we are to be doing so as unto the Lord. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

There are many areas that need to be prepared: 1) spiritually. I need to gird up with His word so that I do not fall prey to the enemy - this world puts forth images DAILY of what it deems to be good, what women should be seeking after and what focus a woman should have. If I am not actively combating that with TRUTH (His word), then I can become susceptible to desiring the wrong things or believing that the work I do is not important. I have had days of doubt and discouragement...we all do. But this is why girding up against the daily bombardment of the worlds values is so important. What women are called to do in the Bible is one of the most important works that can be done - training the next generation...sending forth arrows that fly straight...ready to stand against the schemes of the devil.

I have also had to assess each year what changes to expect (this year: the added blessing of another child, children growing physically and what their educational needs will be, the added responsibilities of daily home management as our family increases in size, continuing to help my husband with the Lord's provision of entrepreneurship - going on 8 years, etc.). Some of this requires preparing our 2) home for those changes.
Each year, a list is made of projects that we will do to help our home stay maintained, run more efficiently and serve our family based on the needs of that year. Additionally, this year we have looked at ways to make our home more energy efficient, space efficient and inviting to our guests. Over the summer we "planned"/scheduled a few family work days to complete items on that list, with hopes to have a majority of it completed before we start school back next month and before the baby comes soon after that.

We always marvel at God's perfect wisdom. When we built our home 15 years ago, it was for a family of 3, with no intent of increasing that number. This very home (with the addition of 2 rooms in 2006) continues to serve our family - soon to be family of 9 - very well. It is not large in comparison to most homes today, however it continues to be a place filled with family, friends and ministry to this day...the Lord's faithful provision.

Another area of preparation, was for assessing 3) education. Curriculum was evaluated, learning needs assessed and items were purchased to help facilitate learning. Over the past month, I have had the blessing of a mother's helper one day a week which has allowed me to prepare for the upcoming year. What a tremendous blessing it has been to have the help of a young lady caring and playing with the younger children, so that I could plan the lessons for each child for the year, review materials that we plan to cover and gather together the learning materials (making copies, setting up notebooks to help keep things moving, etc.) which we will use throughout the year. Preparing in this area will help keep things running smoothly, help us not waste valuable time and having our schedules in place lets everyone know what they should be working toward each day.

Now - does this mean that everything is perfect? Does this mean that things will always go smoothly and according to the 'plan'? NO! We must remember that the Lord directs our steps. We may deviate from the plan, however it will be there when we need to come back to it and allow us to pick right back up. By girding up each day and putting our plan into action, will give many opportunities throughout the year for blessings that come with being prepared. Blessings to minister to others, to serve and extend hospitality and a more peaceful home are just a few.

May your time in prayer, planning and the preparations you undertake bring you peace, joy and blessings this year - even on difficult days. :-)

"The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon
you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon
you and give you peace."
Numbers 6:24-26

Logs, Schedules, Charts & More

All the charts and logs were created as tables and may not show their borders/lines when you open the link. I hope they will at least provide you an idea of the information contained in them, of which you can easily use to create your own logs. May the list below be an encouragement and help to you in your homes and give you ideas that can be adapted to your own families.

Blessings and Peace ~ Jarnette

Daily Chore Chart for 2006-2007 (a schedule I created for using in conjunction with our Family Schedule...chores allow children to contribute to the family and teach them responsibility)

Family Schedule for 2006-2007 (this is the schedule we used in 2006, as it related to what needed to be accomplished each day - a guide to return to on the days the Lord redirected our steps - this will also give you an idea of how the Manager's of Their Homes method of scheduling works)

Breakfast/Lunch Rotating Menu from a few years ago (having one helps to budget, saves time and allows the kids to 'know' "what's for ...?")

Letter of Intent (usable sample for the state of Florida, compliant as of 2009)

Annual Home Education Evaluation Form (what we have used for the state of Florida with regards to portfolio method of evaluation, compliant as of 2009)

Reading Log by Title (one we have used in the past as part of the Florida portfolio requirements)

Reading Log by Title - another example that is more streamlined to Florida requirements

Notice of Termination for Home Education Form (when we graduated our son from the Home Education program, I created & used this form to notify our county that our program was complete...as in accordance with Florida Statutes)

Curriculum Planner (a form I use to help plan our school each for each child...I bring it with me to any Homeschool Conventions, book sales or when I am searching for used curriculum online.)

Prayer, Planning & Preparations - Part 3 (Planning)

Planning is something I believe is part of being a Keeper of the Home and has many benefits. Planning could be the difference between blessing and chaos. There are several scriptures which I have found helpful in staying focused and encouraged on the importance to plan:
  • Psalm 20:4 "May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans."
  • Proverbs 20:18 "Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war."
  • Proverbs 11:14 "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety."
  • Proverbs 21:5 "The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty."
  • Proverbs 31:27 "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."

What is the purpose of planning? Is it really necessary? Are there any benefits? I believe and have experienced the fruit of planning. Without planning, my days can quickly escape me with the many distractions and time wasters this world throws my way. If I have been diligent to plan, I have a 'guide' to help keep me focused and ultimately have a more fruitful day.

The following are just a few areas and blessings reaped from planning:

  • Meal planning - money savings, time savings, husband and children will know what to expect versus asking an unlimited amount of times "What's for dinner?"
  • Chore planning - home can be more easily maintained, there is a sense of order, everyone knows their role and has a responsibility of how they contribute to the "family"
  • School planning - children know what is expected each day and it provides opportunity for special projects that may not otherwise happen, you can enter each day "ready" therefore, avoiding wasting time (be it "rabbit trails", looking for materials), knowing what needs to be accomplished and what activities can be feasible to complete in a specified period of time (ie with lessons planned you have a better idea of how long it will take to complete your studies and how much time can be afforded to out-of-the-home learning opportunities...with a plan, you can participate in opportunities, because learning will be guided and you'll know each day what should be accomplished), saving money (purchases can be made for what you "need"; you can avoid duplicating material purchases if you are organized; you will not purchase something that doesn't fit into your plan)
  • Project planning - this can be home projects, field trips or special school activities, vacations, etc. Typically in our home, if we have a plan (select a dedicated time to complete the project and have made a list of what that project entails, making any necessary purchases ahead of time) it usually gets done. This allows our family time to "play" and enjoy "spontaneous" opportunities of fellowship or learning.
  • Planning allows you to extend hospitality, participate in 'unplanned' activities when they arise, minister to those in need, take time when needed for illnesses or refreshment all because each day you have a guide to follow and can easily return it to when God has redirected your path.

There are numerous tools and resources available on the market today to help aide with planning. Simple tools from list making to day planners or more technical tools such as computer programs or online resources which help you plan. I have used them all in one form or another depending on the type of planning that needs to be done. The following is a list of materials you may find beneficial to help you "plan" this year based on your season of life.

Microsoft Office, Works or Word (calendars, spreadsheets, tables, etc. can be created or templates can be used to suit your needs)

Donna Young provides free printable logs, calendars and lessons

Managers of Their Homes is a wonderful book I have used over the years to create schedules for schooling and chores

Edu-Track or Homeschool Tracker are computer programs which can be purchased to use for lesson planning, transcripts, etc.

I will attempt to post some of our old homeschool schedules and chore charts in the next few days - I hope this will be an encouragement and provide a sense of hope to you for a more fruitful and peaceful year.

Prayer, Planning, and Preparations - Part 2 (Practical Applications)

For time sake, I am going to write three separate posts allowing focus to be on each topic. The best place to begin is with prayer, an area I continually desire to improve in. Prayer is praising God, giving thanks for all His blessings and asking Him for the things He has promised in His Word. God has given us prayer as a means to communicate with Him, through Christ. Prayer is our time of fellowship with our Creator.

In this 'season' of motherhood, the daily demands of educating, nurturing and training seem to be all consuming (and that is the season I am to be in ). Our family seems to go through several 'seasons' at the same time due to our children's ages (ranging right now with expecting #7 through 19 years old). There are many days that are filled to the brim with basic responsibilities of being a wife... helpmeet... mother... keeper of the home... sister in Christ... and the list goes on and on. It can be very easy to become overwhelmed - especially when I have not girded up in His Word and prayer. BUT it is all the more important to do so. I find that when I don't, I am trying to accomplish things in my own strength - instead of being dependant on Him to extend the mercy and grace to do what He has presented before me to do that day. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

John MacArthur wrote in his book Lord, Teach Me to Prayer that the Bible details at least five reasons we ought to pray:
  1. Prayer is commanded
  2. It is a sin not to pray
  3. Prayer gives glory to God
  4. Prayer aligns us with God's purposes
  5. Prayer results in answers

He says, "God has ordained the means as well as the end, and it is His design that the prayers of His people should be the means by which He is frequently moved to act." James wrote, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much". (James 5:16) How often have I turned to Him in prayer, after I shared with mortal man? He should be the first place we turn...a reminder to myself, as well as an encouragement to you.

What are the components of prayer? His word give us many examples of how to pray...Christ, himself gave us instructions on how to pray and the model prayer (The Lord's Prayer) in Matthew 6:5-15.

Praising Him: A friend shared a prayer idea with me that a friend of hers had shared one day. Her friend would go through the alphabet and pray to the Lord an adoration back to him that began with each letter of the alphabet. When things seem 'really bad', what a change in attitude doing that can bring! Praying back to the Father who He is: Almighty, Bountiful, the Creator, our Deliverer...it really puts it into perspective who He is and humbles me.

Confession: What a comforting Scripture He has given us about confessing our sins..."If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) After meditating on who God is and how sinful I am, it is not difficult to confess my sins. To confess our sins to one another, keeps us humble and brings us healing. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." (James 5:16)

Thanking Him: We all really do have so much to thank our Lord and Savior for...once again, even when things seem 'really bad', I have recalled an old hymn "Count Your Blessings" as a reminder . The hymn begins, "When up-on life's billows you are tempest - tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings - name them ONE by ONE, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."

Supplication: To make a request to the Lord we should do so with acceptance of what the Lord's will is - not what we desire it to be. For His word says, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10 - emphasis added) There is an acronym which helps me to remember how to pray (and serve)...JOY. Jesus first, then other and finally yourself. I can remember to pray for the Lord's will regarding the needs of others and then for help with myself...be it my sinfulness, weaknesses, needs, etc.

A prayer journal may be a good way to write out requests and then write in how the Lord has answered those specific prayers. It can be a means to show the Lord's faithfulness and to help 'see' what the Lord has done. Another idea is to keep a list or prayer guide in your Bible as a reminder to pray for those needs during your personal reading time. Some churches type out the requests/praises submitted by their congregations that week so that you can conveniently use that as a guide during the week to pray for those needs. Yet another idea is to keep a dry erase board on your refrigerator, write prayer requests and praises down so you can pray together as a family for those needs/praises.

Something we have done for several years now at Christmastime is to take all the cards/letters we receive, put them in a basket on our kitchen table and before dinner each evening each person selects one from the basket. We then go around the table and specifically pray for that family. It has been a blessing and become a sweet tradition for our family.

We all need to lift one another up in prayer...of which we can never do enough!

Dr. Mohler's Blog

Dr. Mohler's Blog

Three recent posts from Dr. Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, titled "Evangelicalism's Terminal Generation?", "A Christian Vision of Marriage and Family", and "A Governor, a King and the Tragedy of Adultery".

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Prayer, Planning, and Preparations - Part 1 (Scripture's Exhortation)

Summer is a time to rest and relax from 'normal' routines. Traveling takes place, beach days, fellowship gatherings, VBS, etc...

Summer is also a great time to regroup from the prior school year, review accomplishments and reassess the prior year's goals. How was last year? Did you have many rabbit trails that took you away from what the Lord had laid on your heart to do? Maybe you referred to your goals throughout the year and were able to maintain focus and perspective. Maybe His direction was down a difficult road. No matter what last year held, know that He was not surprised by any of it and that as a believer we can be confident that "all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

So, where do we go from here? I would say the first thing should be to seek the Lord through PRAYER. Adore Him for being the One we can turn to for direction and instruction. Confess your weakness and need for Him to lead you. Thank Him for hope, His wisdom and the gift of His word (our primary resource for knowing who He is and what He calls us to do). And finally Seek Him for direction for this coming year.

As the Lord gives you insight through His word, begin PLANNING. Remember to "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6 (emphasis added) Also, "commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." Proverbs 16:3

Finally, begin to PREPARE. We can "go to the ant" in Proverbs 6. "She prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." Proverbs 6:8 And the woman of Proverbs 31, "looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27 Preparing means to put into action what has been planned; to be ready. The Lord tells us in Ephesians 2:10, "for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." What a GOOD WORK it is to love and teach our children - therefore, PRAY, PLAN and PREPARE so that we may do what He has called us to do.

May this post encourage you to begin with joy, put aside lies of the Master Deceiver and press on, being confident that He has equipped you to do so. In the upcoming days, I plan to post some practical applications of planning and preparing for next year, along with some resources that may be an encouraging "resources" to you.