Life After Rehab: Step 7…

Well, we have finally made it to step 7 of our seven-step Life After Rehab series. ¬†Thanks for stickin’ through it. ūüôā


 

Step 7: Stay Alert for Signs of Relapse.

“According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic illness, and as a result, 40 to 60 percent of people who have an addiction relapse at least once. This doesn‚Äôt mean that addiction treatment isn‚Äôt effective, but it does mean that people with addictions will need to amend their lives and be on alert if they‚Äôd like to keep the problem from coming back full force. For starters, they might need to know where a relapse, for them, begins. For some, it‚Äôs a feeling of sadness or loss. For others, it‚Äôs a sensation of happiness or invincibility. These thoughts swirl and swirl, growing stronger and stronger, until a relapse takes place. Capturing and identifying the thought is the key to stopping the relapse. When those thoughts are in place, the person can go back to therapy, visit a sober friend, catch a meeting, or otherwise deal with the issue and stop the cycle. Friends and family members might also be helpful here, as they might also know what a relapse looks like and how it typically starts. They can‚Äôt be expected to step in and stop a relapse from taking place, but they can speak up and speak out when they sense trouble, and this might be the prompt that pushes the person to find more intensive treatment” (http://www.michaelshouse.com).

 


 

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor‚ÄĚ (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of our sin. Our chronic condition has been completely healed on the cross. We have that freedom at our fingertips but we so often, like the addict, don’t amend our lives to the entirety of His teachings and His grace, nor faithfully remain on alert for attacks on our freedom. The enemy wants us to think we are still enslaved to sin‚Äďthat what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t enough or didn’t take. We, like the addict, often don’t catch the little things that lead us to a relapse of the flesh‚Äďthose things that lead us to strap ourselves back to the chains of bondage.

Feelings of sadness, loss, and invincibility can lead even the most “put-together” Christians down a path of destruction. “Capturing and identifying” as mentioned above for the addict are also key to resisting sin and it’s hold on us. ¬†In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul instructs fellow believers in Jesus that the battle we fight is not of the flesh but of a divine nature. He tells us to “hold captive every thought.” This means that with every feeling and thought we have, we need to take hold of it, identify it, and then use Christ’s standards to evaluate it. Without this process, our emotions and thoughts can become a swirling river of untamed beliefs and assumptions that guide our behavior and decisions in a destructive way. It’s Satan’s last ditch effort to pull us away from the freedom we have in Christ. Again, this is where a community of Christ-followers¬†and sober-minded friends and mentors is key to survival. There will be times when we are so far gone down the river of frustration, guilt, fear, self-righteousness, doubt, and selfishness that we need others to recognize and identify for us what’s going on. We will need others to pull us out, dry us off, and call us out on our erroneous thinking or behaving. We will need others to speak gentle truths to us in love, reminding us of our freedom and security in Christ.

When we started this “Family Rehab” journey last year, we committed to a year of homeschool in an effort to slow our pace of living down and to reestablish our home during that time. ¬†While during the past year¬†we have seen remarkable change in our relationships with our children and have seen them blossom in certain areas, it has not gone as expected. With our relocation, we lost at least half the school year to the mayhem of boxes and house projects. ¬†However, we have seen during a less than perfect attempt at homeschooling, positive and fruitful growth in our family, which only shows God’s faithfulness and mercy.

I have wrestled with what lies ahead for us and school. ¬†I see the great benefits of homeschool and being with my kids every moment of the day, learning with them along the way. ¬†The flexibility of setting our own schedule has been a healing balm for ¬†our souls and our home life. ¬†There are many reasons to do homeschool again next year. ¬†However, I realize that most Americans feel that they cannot afford homeschool or that it isn’t a realistic option for them. ¬†So because¬†the majority of the culture around me is¬†facing the realties of parenting in the midst of our crazy fast-paced American goal-setting and success-getting culture, I find myself searching for the answers to some questions:

With the early hours, the days apart from each other, the homework, our own job-stress and expectations, and the bulging schedule, how do we still remain intentionally engaged with the hearts of our children and each other?

How do we live in our American culture, yet¬†not submit to it‚Äďwithout completely pulling out of its systems? ¬†

How do we resist finding our value and worth in our success and performance when the culture around us measures us (and everything else‚Äďeven our churches) by those same weighted standards? ¬†

How do we gospel-thrive in a gospel-deficiant culture?

I feel that our year of rehab helped us to rest and hit the reset button. ¬†While nowhere near completion, I believe that I have grown in my¬†trust of Jesus and am merely starting to learn what it means to unabashedly move to the gentle whispers of His Spirit, even if He leads me to do something a little bit crazy. ¬†¬†I hope that my family is also learning this kind of discernment. ¬†I think our freshly rested souls and our post-rehab perspectives encourage us to engage in these kinds of cultural questions. ¬†Because of this, (along with some other reasons I can discuss later), we are looking at putting the kids in school next year. ¬†Having said that, we are waiting for clear direction from the Lord as to where and if this is truly what is best for our family in this season. ¬†There might be a chance that God says we are not ready and need another year of rehab. ¬†We might see that we need to “go back to therapy” because we are closer to relapse than we realize. ¬†There is a chance that we enter the school system only to pull out again in a year or two. ¬†As counter-culture and as counter-Angie as it is, I am trying not to set a 5-year plan and outline the future. ¬†We have seen God work in ways that go beyond our plans and, in fact, frustrate our plans. ¬†So, we are intentionally not setting any or forming strong biases in the area of education. ¬†So many benefits lie in all forms of education, and I believe those differing benefits can be taken advantage of for different seasons.

No matter where our children’s education takes place, this next year will look different. Instead of focusing on a year of rehabilitation, we will focus on applying the things we have learned to our new and crazy fast-paced life. I am sure we will struggle to stay grounded and will have to resist getting swept up in the things of this world. But we will use these helpful steps and trust in Jesus to be sovereign and carry us through. ¬†We will rely on those sober-minded friends and family members to pull us from paths or cycles leading to relapse.

We will continue to share our story with you (see blog posts on steps 5 and 6) as we enter Life After Rehab. I invite you to share your stories with me. My prayer is that we will remind each other over the next year that we have all been rehabilitated, restored, renewed and revived in Jesus. His work is complete in us. Let us hold fast to His word and cling to His promises‚Äďwho He is and who we are in Him. When things start to look more like the world and less like Jesus, let’s hold each other up to the truths found in His deep relentless love. Our performance doesn’t change the work He did on the cross. Our falling off the wagon doesn’t change or take away His victory over sin and eternal death. We get to continue in the joy and freedom found in what He has rehabilitated‚Äďwhat He has restored. We all have new health and life in Him. ¬†We all are in life after rehab‚Ķlet’s support one another and live it together.


We are working on a better format for the sharing of your stories. ¬†In the meantime, please share in the comment section. ¬†We’d love to be encouraged by what God is doing in your life and support you where you are struggling to see His presence.

 

Life After Rehab‚ĶStep 1

“IT’S SUMMER?!?!? WHAT? WHO? WHERE? WHEN?!?”

So it hit me the other day that summer is here. ¬†Oh, don’t misunderstand‚ĶI know that it is summer! ¬†We have been looking¬†forward to the days when there’s no¬†school and there are more¬†hours to play. ¬†(Although, with our recent relocation, we’ve really been acting like it’s summer since Christmas.) ¬†So it wasn’t really the fact that summer has arrived that caught me off guard. ¬†What was¬†profoundly shocking about my realization was that our year of “Family Rehab” is over. ¬†When we started this crazy adventure, we committed to taking one¬†school year at home to rehabilitate our family and our hearts. ¬†Wow. ¬†The school year is over. ¬†Those 9 months¬†went by incredibly fast. ¬†This surprising conclusion¬†has raised many questions concerning Family Rehab:

“Was it worth it?”

“Did we succeed and change?”

“Did we learn anything?”

“Are we better for it, or worse?”

“If we’ve learned anything during this year, how do we keep from reverting to old habits and behaviors?”

When a person enters a formal drug treatment program, they don’t stay there forever. ¬†They go through months of overpowering¬†therapy and work, learning how to live in a world that entices them back to¬†their addictions. ¬†It’s an intense¬†time created with the purpose of preparing the person to one day leave the facility in better physical, mental, and emotional health. ¬†When a person is leaving a treatment facility for drug or alcohol abuse, there can be a lot of similar questions to my Family Rehab questions:

“Was is worth it?”

“Did I succeed and change?”

“Did I learn anything?”

“Am I better for it, or worse?”

“How am I going to survive out there?”

“How can I keep from falling off the wagon?”

I did a little research and found 7 helpful steps from a rehab website (http://www.michaelshouse.com) for those re-entering life after rehab.  I think these steps are helpful for our family also as we consider life after Family Rehab.  In the posts to come, I will cover these steps and how they relate to all of us in our every day walk.

First of all, it’s wise to note that going to rehab of any kind, whether for substance abuse or for Family Rehab, doesn’t fix a person and take away their struggles. ¬†Rehab is designed to concentrate on the tools needed to face the struggle head-on and to lead a life of sobriety. ¬†1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ¬†Our struggles with sin, with parenting, with relationships, and with coping in this world rely soley on the saving grace of Jesus. ¬†Our hope lies in Him‚Äďnot in improving our performance or trying harder. ¬†So these helpful tips for diving back into the real world after a season of intentional learning and healing are not the saving secret codes to life. ¬†They are merely help in maintaining that sober-mindedness. ¬†They are merely a way to keep the mind prepared for the action that life throws our way. ¬†These 7 steps I will share over the next week can help make the transition from a slower pace of intentional living back into regular life a little less stressful.


 

Step 1:  Find Sober Friends

“Addictions often form through the influence of other people. Studies on teens, such one published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, clearly demonstrate that peer pressure is a powerful motivator for drug use, as those teens who spend time with pro-drug friends are more likely to use when compared to teens who spend time with sober friends. The same could be said for adults. Those who have friendships built on drugs may find it hard to go to parties, share meals, or otherwise interact and stay sober, as the temptation to use might grow and spread. Sober friends can be vital, as they may be willing to engage in fun activities that don‚Äôt involve substance abuse. Temptation levels might fade when people are surrounded by others who are sober” (http://www.michaelshouse.com).


Using this logic from¬†a drug rehabilitation program as a guide, step 1 for Family Rehab is also to find sober friends‚Äďthat is, sober-minded friends. ¬†1Timothy 3 speaks directly to sober-minded influences or leaders and overseers in the church:

“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:2-7).

It doesn’t take much thought to see the wisdom in seeking out sober-minded friends. ¬†When surrounded by people who demonstrate the qualities listed above, peer pressure alone makes us better people. ¬†But, in the book of Titus, Paul explains the the relationship with sober-minded people is not just one that consists of merely being surrounded my these people. ¬†They have been called to be teachers and we are to allow ourselves to be taught by them. ¬†He writes to these teachers:

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:1-10).

Wow…I want to be around someone who has been charged with all that and is willing to take on the challenge.  I want to learn from them, study them, and become like them.

In the next phase of our “sobriety”, I think it is important that each member of our family find sober-minded friends. ¬†Not just friends, but mentors‚Äďpeople from whom we can learn. ¬†For Paul and I we have various mentors already in place for different areas of life. ¬†But I think we need to look forward with the goal of really seeking mentorship in the area of parenting specifically. ¬†There are couples God has placed in our lives whose families we admire. ¬†Their children are respectful and follow Jesus with a passion. ¬†Their marriage seems strong and steady. ¬†They speak of their spouses with the upmost grace and care, never slandering or damaging them. ¬†They deal with stressful situations with calm and peaceful ease demonstrating a firm belief and trust in the Lord’s plan. ¬†I want to encourage my children to seek out mentors in older children as well. ¬†(Of course, we have to approve their choice.) ¬†But we want them to start now looking to older and more seasoned believers for guidance and wisdom. ¬†We are naive if we think our children will come to us for advice on all areas of life. ¬†We are also naive if we think we can go through life as parents without mentors. ¬†I want us all to learn¬†how to recognize and make relationships with sober-minded friends. ¬†(Us ladies, find ladies. ¬†The guys, find guys.) ¬†This, however, doesn’t mean that we circle the wagons and cut-off relationships with those who are outside our circles of faith¬†or condone the particular sins others¬†struggle with. ¬†It does mean that those relationship look a little different. ¬†If a women is¬†struggling to respect her husband and is filled with frustration, she probably shouldn’t go vent to her girlfriend who is constantly husband bashing. ¬†That won’t bear any good fruit or set her up to battle her temptation to sin. ¬†Likewise, the man who is struggling with lust probably would not do well to go hang out with a group of guys from work whose relationship is built around frequenting the local strip club. ¬†It also will not bear good fruit, nor set him on a path away from temptation.

Who we spend time with, learn from, and let influence our decisions is important. ¬†In our American culture we tend to think our opinions and convictions are invincible. ¬†But in reality we are so easily impacted by popular trendy beliefs, voices of “intellect” and status, and by merely unconsciously¬†observing the lives of others. ¬†Just like the addict, spending the weekend¬†with a best friend doesn’t seem like a potentially dangerous plan in which safety has to be questioned‚Äďand maybe it’s not. ¬†But the purpose of rehab is to train ourselves to at least be willing to ask questions about the people we let speak into our lives‚Ķwhether the person is¬†as close a relative or spouse, or as distant as Oprah.

Not only do we need to ask questions about current relationships, but we need to seek out sober-minded friends and mentors.  This is a hard process…especially when in a new area like our family currently is.  But, the hard and awkward work of getting to know people and learning about them is all worth the effort if the result is having relationships with people who are courageously marking a path of sobriety before you, and setting up boundaries in relationships that might discourage positive headway on the journey.

My prayer is that God leads us to these good relationships and gives all of us, but especially our children, the discernment and wisdom to identify sober-mindedness and the courage to engage and learn from those who possess it. ¬†I also pray that we cling to those relationships that are already established and have been proven to bear good fruit. ¬†Through all of our life after rehab I pray that we don’t forget our most valuable lesson from the past year‚ÄĒthat our greatest friend and influence is Jesus. ¬†His faithfulness is unmatched. ¬†His sobriety amidst trial and temptation is above that of anyone else. ¬†His relationship‚ÄĒa priceless treasure. ¬†His forgiveness‚ÄĒunending. ¬†His love‚ÄĒrelentless.

Psalm 25:14 says, “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” ¬†¬†He makes known to us His faithfulness to His great promises. ¬†Whatever “Life After Rehab” will look like, we can trust that in His friendship He will let us know the “what, who, where, and when” of each moment. ¬†He has promised to love us, to never forsake us, and to guide us. ¬†And we can trust that He will open our eyes to see the fulfilling of those promises.


Keep an eye out for Step 2 of Life After Rehab…

“And how do you spell… creepy?”

I really have some catching up to do. ¬†The whole reason I began this Family Rehab blog was to hold myself accountable to actually following through with “family rehab!” ¬†I knew that I needed to have a public audience that was expecting to hear what we were doing and how it was going. ¬†I have come to grips with my personality enough to know that without peer pressure we’d spend all our time in pajamas eating Cheetos. ¬†(Well, at least that’s what I fear when not trusting Jesus with the plan.) ¬†However, I’ve kind of been slacking in recording our special moments and little triumphs. ¬†I have been pretty consumed with my own drama, as I previously mentioned in the past couple of posts. ¬†Also, with the Olympics in full swing, we’ve been so busy following our favorite athletes, forcing math and science lessons in during the commercials, learning how to spell crazy Russian words and names, and watching Gideon tug at the skin under his eyes as he practices his newest ‘creepy’ face. ¬†And so, in all that kind of excitement and our big move to Katy, I forgot to share a wonderful experience that we had in late January, that would never have been possible if it weren’t for Family Rehab.

Paul was asked to speak at the Texas Lutheran Early Educator’s Conference the last week of January. ¬†Due to the amazing generosity of others, we were able to join him and spend some time together learning from the conference, relaxing in Horseshoe Bay, and celebrating Judah’s first birthday. ¬†As details of the conference came in, we were so excited to find out that one of our favorite authors, Sally Lloyd-Jones,¬†was also going to be speaking. ¬†Helen had just finished reading¬†The Jesus Storybook Bible¬†as her selected chapter book and loved it. ¬†(Check it out here: the-jesus-storybook-bible)

We discussed how exciting it would be to meet her and ask a real author some questions. ¬†I decided to find her on Facebook and sent a message explaining why in the world I was bringing my kids to a conference and if we could meet her. ¬†She was so kind to reply and accept our invitation. ¬†The girls couldn’t believe they were going to meet someone famous.

About a week before leaving for the conference, I asked the kids if they had thought of any questions to ask Ms. Lloyd-Jones. ¬†Helen said, “I’ll be too nervous to say anything. ¬†I will just look at her.” ¬†I thought, “Oh, great‚Ķshe will think we’re simple.” ¬†Then Ava said, “Maybe I could practice my British accent on her.” (In a British accent, none the less.) ¬†After a pause of disbelief, I said, “Well, Ava, sometimes it isn’t very flattering to have someone try to talk with an accent like yours. ¬†I don’t know if that would be appropriate to do for her.” ¬†And I thought, “Oh, great‚Ķshe will think we’re rude.” ¬†Then Gideon piped up, “Should I make a creepy face at her?”

Well, we headed to Horseshoe Bay with no questions in our pocket.  We at least had our copy of her book to get autographed.  We started our time there by exploring the grounds of the awesome resort and spending some good quality time together.

photo-3

We celebrated Judah’s first birthday by decorating our hotel room with streamers and balloons, and singing Happy Birthday¬†to him at one of the hotel restaurants. ¬†We joked how the fourth child is always spoiled and next year we will have to top the resort and fancy-restaurant chocolate cake for birthday #2.

Unsaved Preview Document

Finally, on the last day of the our trip, it was time to hear Sally Lloyd-Jones speak and then get a chance to meet her. ¬†The three oldest kids squeezed up to a front table to sit with Daddy and have a prime seat. ¬†She spoke with such eloquence that pointed to the evidence of the Spirit in her. ¬†She challenged my heart as a parent and my new role as a teacher. ¬†It was wonderful. ¬†She shared more of her work, which the kids were so delighted to see and hear. ¬†After she finished, the kids rushed out to buy her newest book, Things to Make Your Heart Sing, and then stood in the long line to meet her. ¬†I could tell they were nervous and excited. ¬†As we waited in line, I yet again asked if they had any questions for her. ¬†Helen said, “She answered all of my questions in her talk.” ¬†I thought, “Lucky you, smartie‚Ķ” ¬†Ava said, “Nope.” ¬†I inwardly heard the Marge Simpson sigh. ¬†I looked down at Gideon practicing his creepy face.

When we reached our turn in line, Helen placed her book on the table and sheepishly said, “hi.” ¬†Ms. Lloyd-Jones said, “Oh, is this the family I’ve been waiting to meet? ¬†You all were so sweet sitting there right in the front row. ¬†Shall I sign your book for you?” ¬†They all just nodded in disbelief. ¬†I interjected, “Thanks for meeting with us, they really are so excited.” ¬†She opened the book and said, “Okay, tell me your names and how to spell them. ¬†I’m not a very good speller.” ¬†(Hey! Neither are we!) ¬†Down the line they went as they watched her pen write their names‚Ķ

“Ava.”

“And how do you spell that?”

” A-V-A.”

“Helen. ¬†H-E-L-E-N”…

All eyes on Gideon: “HA! I don’t know how to spell my name!” ¬†We and the line of early education teachers behind us all broke into laughter. ¬†And I thought, “well that was a lot cuter than creepy face!”

After she finished getting all four names plus her own in the book, we left the line and the girls giggled to each other that they couldn’t believe that they had an “actual autographed book” and immediately started listing which friends they were going to show it to. ¬†Gideon was just happy to be there and Judah only had his mind on lunch and a nap. ¬†I thought about the words of wisdom that Sally Lloyd-Jones shared in her session about speaking to the hearts of children in a respectable and honorable way. ¬†We shouldn’t just communicate with them in a way that seems to say, “I don’t have to try hard, these are just kids,” but rather, that we should try harder‚Äďwith more intent. ¬†If that doesn’t apply to Family Rehab, I don’t know what does! ¬†She said good books are not sermons to answer questions, but are stories of truth that invite inquisitive minds to ask more questions and wonder. ¬†I wanted so desperately for my children to have intellectual and deep questions for her. ¬†I wanted them to dig deeper and want more than second-hand fame handed down in an autographed book. ¬†But had I really inspired them to those kinds of questions? ¬†Had I directed them to the Truth of Jesus, as seen through the life of Sally Lloyd-Jones, or just pointed them to a nice author and her accomplishments? ¬†Had I listened to the questions that they did have with respect and honor? ¬†Seriously, I could have honored and respected even creepy face. ¬†His desire was to be funny and his heart was to bring a smile to her face. ¬†I could have encouraged the heart behind the creepy face and let Gideon know how making others happy is evidence that Jesus lives in his heart and is working through Him.

She also shared her personal story of writing in a dictionary margin as  a young child that God had told her she would build a church in Africa.  She had completely forgotten about it until she came across it much later in life.  She shared how recently she was asked if The Jesus Storybook Bible could be used to teach the Christ-centered nature of the Old Testament to a country in Africa.  Little did she know she would be building a church not with bricks, but with books.  What I  took away from her story was that God is speaking to our children.  We should be listening!  What things has He told my little ones?  Are they whispers into His plan?  Do they speak wisdom into my parenting and how to encourage my children down the path He has set before them?

All of this to say, it was a wonderfully challenging experience that we couldn’t have done if it weren’t for the space created in Family Rehab and for the generosity of others. ¬†We were so blessed to have the time and the space and the gentle reminder of how to love our children in the light of His love.

OH..lympics!!

Olympic-Rings

In the midst of our crazy transition the 2 constants remain: ¬†Jesus and the OH-lympics! ¬†We LOVE the Olympics and have spent the past month or so in school preparing for the games. ¬†We’ve incorporated Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science into our unit and it has been so much fun. ¬†The kids are learning and they don’t even realize it‚ÄĒwhich I love. ūüôā ¬†I thought I’d share some of our unit with those who are interested in doing some extra learning with your kids. ¬†It doesn’t matter that the Olympics have already started. ¬†They will be here for a whole 2 weeks!

We started with a spiral notebook for each of them.  They decorated it, of course, which needed no encouragement or instruction.   We slowly started filling in the notebook by devoting a page to each of the sports in the winter games.    We found and read articles explaining the rules and guidelines for each of the events.  We used the website nbclearn.com to watch videos on each of the sports that include the math and science behind each sport.  Once there was an understanding on the event, they drew a picture to help them remember what it was and what some of the important characteristics were for each.

photo photo

We also read biographies online from the TEAM USA website and articles on the latest news from that sport.  They picked the athlete that they wanted to cheer for and wrote it in their notebooks.

photo photo

For each of the sports, it was really great to see them searching out their own learning. ¬†They didn’t know it, but they were doing their own research project that involved reading, writing, science, and math.

The first week of our unit just happened to be National Letter Week, so we learned/reviewed how to write a letter and they both chose to write a letter of encouragement to Lindsey Vonn, who at that time had just announced she would not be competing in the upcoming games.  We hope to get a response!  It was great to see them put forth the initiative to find the correct address for her fan mail.  I think they envisioned seeing her opening and reading their letters on TV.  They were a little misguided, but very motivated!

We talked about how hard it must be to train for four years and then not be able to compete. ¬†We talked about how it would be a struggle for an Olympian or any athlete to put all their value and worth into their performance and success. ¬†We talked about good sportsmanship and humility and how that applies to all of us, even if we are not athletes. ¬†We discussed how so many athletes train and never make it to the games. ¬†So what happens to those people? ¬†We talked about how through Jesus we know we are more than athletes or artists or writers. ¬†We are children of God. ¬†We are His sons and daughters and that gives us more satisfaction and value than a gold medal at the Olympics. ¬†We discussed how sometimes God blesses people with medals and how that can be used for His glory, and how on the other hand, it can be a stumbling block and turn into an idol. ¬†Sweet Gideon suggested during more than one of these conversations that we pray for the athletes. ¬†So, Lindsey Vonn‚ÄĒyou’ve been covered in prayer, thanks to Gideon.

For a few of the sports we dove in a little deeper. ¬†They built a luge track down the stairs out of Zhu-zhu pet tracks and used Hot Wheels cars to test it out. ¬†They learned about friction and how it’s important to reduce it to have the fastest time. ¬†They learned about force and how the luger has one chance to apply force at the beginning of the track. ¬†They also learned how changing the grade of steepness of the track can accelerate or decelerate the athlete down the course and how that can result in a more or less challenging course.

photo

 

We also attended a Texas Stars hockey game. ¬†It was awesome. ¬†I didn’t know how they would react to all the body checks and if they would be able to stay engaged in the action, but they loved it and now our whole family loves hockey. ¬†It’s the hockey games they want to watch for the Olympics! ¬†Totally didn’t expect that!

We also had a little history fun with some good movies. ¬†We watched Cool Runnings which is a comedy based on Jamaica’s first bobsled team and their journey to making it to the games. ¬†The kids loved it for it’s humor. ¬†I was encouraged when they again wanted to research the “real-life” Jamaican bobsled team. ¬†We read articles on the current team and how they were only able to make it to the 2014 Olympics in Russia due to monetary donations by fans. ¬†We discussed generosity and how one person’s sacrifice of money was able to contribute to a complete stranger reaching a goal. ¬†We also found youtube video of the first Jamaican team and their accident on the track. ¬†It really is moving to see the actual footage of the team walking down the track after the bobsled flipped in order to make it to the finish. ¬†Sometimes winning is not the goal, but completing a project. ¬†We also watched¬†Miracle¬†which tells the true story of Herb Brooks, the player-turned-coach, who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Russian squad. ¬†There is a lot of good political history in the movie, which went a little over their heads. ¬†But, we learned from the movie about how being on a team means putting selfish¬†ambition¬†aside. ¬†¬†

We found Russia on the globe and talked about the unique balmy climate of Sochi. ¬†We discussed the threats of terrorism on the games and some of the world politics behind that. ¬†We talked about Russia’s desire to show their ability to host the games and some of the nation’s political and industrial history. ¬†We watched the Opening Ceremonies and recorded in their notebooks the countries that had only 1 athlete and made some hypotheses as to why that is: climate, finances, or government rule? ¬†They also kept track of which country had the most athletes. ¬†(Russia beat out the US by only 2 athletes!)

photo

The girls researched the schedule of the games and made a chart in their notebooks of when the events will be televised so they could not miss a thing.

photo

It really has been the perfect unit for this crazy season in our lives.  The notebooks make our unit very mobile which is great in the midst of packing and moving.  It will be nice to spend the next two weeks watching the games and knowing that the kids are putting their research and new knowledge to work.  They are so excited about following their favorite athletes and seeing if they can catch Vladimir Putin cracking a smile.  (Try it…my bet is that he never will!)  They will be keeping track of the medal count and the fastest speeds recorded on the skeleton, meanwhile learning how to fill in charts and graphs and plot lines.  We will follow all the hockey games and create a chart that makes sense of the path and games needed to win to win a medal.  Following the Olympics we will use all of the data they collected to do some math problems and to do some writing.

I hope that for those of you who love the Olympics as much as the Goeke’s, you have a fun family time around the games. ¬†¬†I hope that you find yourself chanting “U-S-A” in your living rooms. ¬†I hope that it inspires conversations about value and worth and who we are in Jesus. ¬† I hope that your family and mine will get a bigger global view of the world and all the different people in it. ¬†I pray that we see God’s creativity in His creation and even more so a glimpse of the depth of His love for all of us. ¬†Woo-hoo! ¬†It’s the OH-lympics!

Overpasses, loose teeth, anteaters, and logistics…

Okay, now that we’ve switched back to regular coffee, it looks like we might actually make it to the end of week one! ¬†I am so thankful for all the resources I found this summer to prepare for the journey ahead. ¬†I don’t know how I would do any of this if it weren’t for organized people who blog and post to help people like me! ¬†The blog, confessionsofahomeschooler, has been a life saver! ¬†If you homeschool, or are thinking about it, or are just curious, you should check out her blog. ¬†It’s absolutely amazing. ¬†

She has provided me with ideas of how to keep 3 kids and a baby busy and working and motivated, all while teaching them about Jesus, making sure dinner will be served, and the laundry will be washed. ¬†I think it really takes intentionality and resolve to keep to a schedule. ¬†The more structured I am, the more free I feel to engage in my children and the more time I have to listen to their hearts. ¬†If I know that dinner is taken care of, I’m not functioning at a hurried and worried pace. ¬†If I know there is a system in place for laundry, I know there is time set aside for it and I don’t have to sit in my own judgement all day until it gets done. ¬†I’m free to not worry about my own performance and I can listen to my kids and notice how they are feeling.

So before you read on, this post is all about the logistics of our day. ¬†How we are organized, structured, and scheduled. ¬†Some people out there totally groove to this stuff. ¬†Me, not so much, although I do appreciate it! ¬†So if the mere reading of the word “logistics” makes you feel like I feel when I hear, “overpasses”, “loose teeth” and “anteaters”, ABORT!! ¬†Stop reading now!¬†

If you are brave enough…read on:

Here’s how a typical day this week has gone:

7:00 wake up- The kids are responsible for getting dressed, brushing teeth, and hair. ¬†Then they¬†should¬†make their beds and pick up their rooms a little. ¬†This makes cleaning up for me a little easier and less stressful! ¬†Having the bed made, or at least seeing that there has been an attempt at making the bed, makes me have a better attitude about all¬†my¬†chores. ¬†After their room chores, they are responsible for one of the following “A Helpful Family” chores:

  • take the laundry basket to the laundry room
  • wipe down the bathroom counter
  • set the table for breakfast

Image

I’ve got magnets with each of the kids’ names on it so they don’t have to ask me what they are to do each morning. ¬†

7:30 breakfast- confessionsofahomeschooler even has monthly menus to follow or inspire with recipes attached. ¬†It’s been so helpful having breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and dinners planned out. ¬†That means no time wasted searching for what we have. ¬†Just like the school cafeteria, you only have one or two options and “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

While the kids get started eating, I load the washing machine with the laundry that was carried down by one of the kids. ¬†If I do this every morning, I should only have one load of laundry to do a day…unless something messy and tragic happens. ūüôā ¬†I also at this point start something in the crockpot for dinner. ¬†I have found tons of great crockpot recipes that can be prepared over the weekend and stored in the freezer in freezer bags. ¬†That way in the morning all I do is literally dump the contents of the bag into the crockpot and turn it on. ¬†I try to stay on top of the dishes too at this point. ¬†When the kids run upstairs to start school, I quickly rinse off the dishes and have them ready to go in the dishwasher later. ¬†(sometimes, I can load them, but realistically it usually hasn’t been unloaded yet.) ¬†All this usually amounts to me taking my breakfast and cup of coffee upstairs to be gradually eaten when I get a chance. ¬†I could wake up earlier to resolve this problem, but let’s face it, I’d rather sleep.

8:00 (or close to it) We start school!  First we do our bible study. 

8:45-ish Calendar Time

The kids have their Calendar time workbooks they work through independently.  Again, this is all from confessionsofahomeschooler 

9:00-ish Work-folders

This concept is amazing! ¬†I mentioned in an earlier post that it is supposed to be work boxes, but we just don’t have the space for all of that. ¬†So here was my solution. ¬†First, from an organizational stand point it starts with my unit filing system. ¬†I have a file box next to my desk. ¬†Each hanging file folder is labeled with the date of each week of school. ¬†(Through December, because I wanted to see how it worked first and give myself the freedom to try something completely new after the winter break). ¬†In each hanging folder is a file folder for each subject, each grade. ¬†I started by labeling units. ¬†For example poetry is a unit covered by both girls. ¬†As I gathered info about each TEK or unit to be covered, I simply wrote the info on an index card and dropped it in the file folder. ¬†After that step, I saw how concepts for each of the girls could be paired and studied at the same time. ¬†Then I put all the related index cards into a file folder and designated a week for us to cover it. ¬†Sometimes, if the unit looked like it would take longer than a week to cover, I just skipped that subject in the next hanging folder, knowing the previous week would carry over. ¬†I did all this until every week until Christmas break was planned. ¬†Over the summer I researched different lesson plans for the units and put those ideas in the folders as well.

Image

Before the beginning of each week, I simply pull out the dated hanging folder and look through each folder with its index cards.  The index card tells me what materials I need to have on hand, what materials I need to print out etc.  I like it because it gives me a snapshot of the week and then I have the freedom to be creative at this point and shift focus depending on where the girls are struggling.  I fill the subject folders with printouts and needed materials so that everything I need for that week is in the hanging folder.  If, for example,  I find a video online about science safety, I write on an index card where and how to find it and stick it in the science folder.

I also have a Lesson Plan Book I bought for a $1 in the Target bargain bin.  This helps me to divide the stuff in each folder into days of the week and I just write it in the box for each day so I know how to pack the info into the week.

Image

Okay, onto the work-folders. ¬†Each girl has a 3-ring binder that contains plastic 2-pocket folders. ¬†On the front of each folder are 2 ¬†velcro squares. ¬†One square holds a little laminated number, starting with number 1. ¬†I fill that folder with an activity or worksheet. ¬†If directions are too complex and can’t be explained on a printed out sheet, then the second velcro square on the front of the folder has a “Work With Mom!” square attached. ¬†

Image

The girls then know that they need to ask me for help, or that the activity requires my instruction or a video or something.  The girls then work through their folders the rest of the day!  When they complete a folder, they remove the number and stick it to their blank chart, showing they can move on. This chart also helps me have a visual way to see how much progress they have made.

Here’s an example of their chart: (this one is Helen’s and it’s taped to the loft railing…the pic looks a little like a scary overpass!)

Image

You will see that I put snack time and lunch and recess in between where their numbers go. ¬†This motivates them to finish folder 1 because then it’s snack time! ¬†I love it, because each day looks a little different and without being unstructured, I have flexibility to do what fits their workload and our schedule the best. ¬†Maybe tomorrow, they will work through 3 folders before snack, or maybe just one! ¬†The girls also don’t ask when snack or lunch is, because it’s on their chart at their desks. ¬†And, they know that how hard they work makes a difference in when they get those things. ¬†I also have little squares for group activities, like Art or Music or Science Lab. ¬†So when they see Art on the schedule, they know that special is happening today. ¬†I also have a “Mom loves you!” square. ¬†When they get to that square on the chart, they know they are done for the day. ¬†I just move the square from day to day depending on how many folders and activities we need to get through.

So far, we have finished each day around 2 or 2:30.

When we have lunch, I switch out the laundry.

When they are working on their folders, I am planning the next day, or writing, or studying my own bible study.  

This week during recess, the kids have been riding bikes while I walk with the stroller. ¬†We go to the park and they play while I keep walking in circles to get my exercise in. ¬†We time ourselves and put it on our “Move-it Minutes” chart.

Image

After school is out, the kids are happy to finally play or watch tv. ¬†I go through their folders at this time and grade all their daily work and fill in the folders for the next day. ¬†I adjust the charts and put it all back on their desks. Done! ¬†As we have progressed through this week, the process has been a little easier. ¬†It’s nice to see all those printouts disappear as the week goes on. ¬†I can visually see that we are learning and making progress and reaching our goals.

The idea is that on Friday we review and test what we have learned. Last night, I wrote tests for each subject, and Friday we will just spend a little bit of the morning reviewing our bible studies and taking our tests. ¬†Hopefully, the tests will be a good and simple way for me to track their progress and also keep a record of what we have learned. ¬†If ever I need to prove to someone when we enter back into the school system that we indeed did learn something, I’ve got something to hand them.¬†

Whew- that was a lot of explanation on the logistics of how we get through the day! ¬†Hopefully, it will be beneficial the next time I mention “binder work” or something. ¬†Y’all will have a clue as to what in the world I am talking about! ¬†Perhaps if organization gives you the tingles like chocolate or a pedicure gives me, than maybe I’ve made your day!

Now, dare I say, I have even more to share about how we get through the day? ¬†My next post: The Great Motivators: M&Ms and the Holy Spirit…