Monday, August 31, 2015

'Twas the Night Before the First Day of School

'Twas the night before the first day of school,
and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even the pool.
The back packs were hung by the door with care,
in the hopes that school would soon be there...

I know, I know, it's bad, BUT here in our house the night before the first day of school is very special to us. It is an ending of summer vacation, and beginning a new school year. It is a time in which we gather together over a good meal, talk, dream and celebrate.

Here's what we do...

1. First hubby and I prepare a festive last barbecue of summer- hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, baked beans-you know, the works! Over dinner my husband and I prompt questions to the children to reminisce over the summer -what was special, fun, and memorable. Questions slowly move toward thinking ahead-what classes they will be taking, what they are looking forward to and even what they might be nervous about. We are purposefully taking time to help our children transition into school days. (If this is something you'd like to do, but feel you won't be able to think of questions on the spot, then write out questions on index cards before hand to keep the conversation focused. Thinking about what you want or need to discuss as a family will help the flow of conversation produce a good family time. You can even write out 'school week rules' if you need to change things. Talk about bedtime, video time, wake up time...a routine that will work for everyone in the family). We also review our home school mission statement.

2. After dinner we clean up and move to the den. My husband leads us into a time of worship. A time for all of us to settle down and focus on the Lord. When worship time ends we pray for each child. Seeking the Lord's wisdom, and blessing for each child. It is a wonderful time to stop, think and pray. I love praying over each child, individually. I love to think about all their God given gifts and talents, blessing them and encouraging them. (If you don't know how to have a family worship time or don't have someone in the family who can lead it, you can put in a CD or make a special CD of songs just for this night).

3. Finally, we return to the dining room where dessert is waiting...cake and ice cream! Also, the table has a present before each child's place setting. The excitement is bubbling over. The gift bags are not only filled with new school supplies, but candy, some new school clothes, and little things that are unique presents for each child.

Saying goodbye to summer is hard, but even harder is facing a new school year- why not face it with Jesus and celebration? We love it.
Blessings to you and your family for a new school year with God at the helm!  

Our Homeschool Mission Statement

It has been on my heart to actually write down all the things that are important to us as a home school family and record it as our family Home School Mission Statement. Well, we've done it, and here it is!

Home School Life Verse:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Gill Academy Mission Statement
We, as parents, believe in God the Father, God the Son-Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. We submit our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, in  humility and follow Him. We call on Holy Spirit to comfort us, guide us and give us wisdom. We give our lives to God, our Great Shepherd.

We, as parents, are called to shepherd our children, as our Father in Heaven shepherds us. We are to love, encourage, extend grace, forgive, discipline, guide, protect and teach our children. To be ever listening to God's soft voice in how to raise our children. To see how each child has been uniquely created by God and help them to find their giftings and use them as an offering to God. We are to form a rich and meaningful relationship with each child as our Heavenly Father so desires to have with each one of us.

We are dedicated to home school so that we can know Jesus deeper as a family and make Him the center of our Education. We are dedicated to providing a Christian worldview in a safe environment. In Gill Academy the children are free to make mistakes and receive grace. To give our best as unto the Lord and to grow in our independent abilities.

It is our heart to take on the heart of God for the lost. We are training our children to become responsible citizens, concerned for the needs of others. To serve as Jesus served. To pray, to heal, and to use every Spiritual blessing given to us by God to reach this world for Christ. "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Phillipines 2:1-4)

In Gill Academy we teach the fundamentals of education to prepare each student to be independent and prepared for life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ballet Mom

I am a soccer mom and a 'ballet mom.'
With three girls in ballet school and each wanting their own 
ballet bag, well, I had to be creative.

Ballet bags can run from $25 all the way up to $75 and more.
So, I went out to make my own-
Mind you, I do not sew!
I headed to Wal-Mart and found a pink canvas bag.
Then to Jo-Ann's to find the ribbon, iron-ons and 'Heat-Bond.'
(The trick for a non-seamstress is iron-ons).

This is all you need!

Within thirty minutes this cute ballet bag was created!
The hardest part was finding the time away from my girls
to make it! 
I will surprise them on the first night of dance class!
The bag is loaded with goodies...Inside includes:
ballet slippers, tap shoes, stockings and body suit!

This bag cost me less than $10 to make!
(Remember to use coupons!) 
I can't wait to present it to them!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"If God is for us..."


The full Scripture says this:
"What, then, shall we say in response to this?
 If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) 

"Who can be against us?" "Who can be against us?" I would chant over and over again as I went out to face my fears. And my response to myself was, "NO one! No one is against me for God is with me!" Then I would go about my day a little bit more brave.

Time has changed me.
Time and hurt has changed me.
And with that, now, when I read or think about that Scripture,
"If God is for us, who can be against me?"
I cower in fear and answer, "Anyone."

Many of you have read many of the different kinds of abuses I have endured in my life-mostly at the hands of my family. My family really didn't understand, nor had they been touched with the overpowering love of Jesus. It was difficult to forgive or even understand many of the things they did, but sometimes just knowing that they didn't know Jesus made the forgiving and healing process easier.

In the last few years I have been deeply hurt again, but this time, not by my family, It was by friends- Christian friends. I stupidly thought I was safe from hurt because, 'they were not like my family.' I whole-heartily trusted. Wide-eyed and bushy tailed me, hoped, trusted, loved. I never saw the hurt coming. I never saw Christians as possible threats to my heart. I was not afraid. I was not walking around in fear, protecting my heart like I did in my younger years around my family. I was free and some days I even felt myself soaring in the freedom from fear. I was happy.

Don't get me wrong, in the twenty-eight years I have walked with Jesus I have been hurt by Christians, but I chocked it up to them not knowing me or some other lame reason and moved on. But this wound came from a few different people that I thought would never hurt me. I thought loved me. I thought had my back. I thought saw my heart. And I will say, the Lord brought me through all that, but then it happened again! A Christian that I looked up to and trusted got me right in the back.

The hurt still hurts. The wound is not healed. The fear is more real than ever before. Now I look at Christians as potential people who can do more damage to my heart than even my own Godless family. "If God is for me, who can be against me?" So, after all this hurt my heart has concluded that the answer is anyone. Anyone can hurt me. Anyone can disappoint. Anyone can surprisingly turn around and punch me in the gut. Anyone, Christian or non-Christian. The fear is real because I don't want to be hurt again, at least not like that!

Psalm 27:1-3
"The Lord is my light and my salvation
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident."
My prayer:
The truth is Lord, I fear. I fear the 'wicked advancing.' I fear an army besieging me. I am not confident. I DO believe that you will be with me-again. I DO believe you will use all things for your glory. I DO believe you will use it to strengthen me to produce hope, but Lord, I don't want to see or be pierced by that kind of pain ever again. I am weak. I don't want the punishment of being scolded or receive the 'cold shoulder.' Yes, you will bring me through- but I don't want there to be a reason to 'be brought through' again- and that is what I fear. I fear the pain of it all- I trust in you for the healing, but I fear the pain. Heal this broken heart Lord, please. I want to love again. I want to be free to trust again.

The Lord says to me:
Isaiah 41: 10-13
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you
    will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
    will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
    you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
    will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
My response to God:
Psalm 27:4-5

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Jesus, do this work in me. Let me always remember that I am God's Football. Help me to know that you protect my heart. Help me to trust you. Grow my heart of love and faith for you deeper, bigger, wider until there is no more room for fear. Pour in your love for, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18) Make me perfect in your love. I know I am afraid of man. "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trust in the Lord is kept safe. " (Proverbs 29:25) You are trustworthy, Lord. You will never hurt me. In you I find safety. Forgive me for my fear- for not trusting in you. Forgive me for looking to man for safety. Fix my eyes on you, my protector, my comfort, my healer, my love. Fill my heart to love your people, all your people. I want to love freely without fear because you will protect my heart. Help me to remember that YOU are bigger than anyone and you are with me. "If God is for me, who can be against me?" NO ONE! Love your, Ellie

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mommyhood Comes Down to This...

For years, fifteen to be exact, the feeling for me that goes with mommyhood is generally-"I don't fit the mold." and I thought I was all alone, but the more I talk with other moms, I find they don't feel like they fit in either. I'm not sure what 'grade' we aren't making, and by whose 'standards,' but we aren't 'making it.'

I think the reason I haven't been fit in or been accepted is because I've been the mom who has been seen as 'too scheduled- too disciplined' and 'a mom who has it all together, all the time.' I've been called, 'amazing,' and been asked the question, more times than I wish to count, "How do you do it with all those kids?" It may sound like a compliment, but really I'm being told that I'm different. Now on the flip side of all that I have a friend who is opposite in her mommyhood than me and she doesn't fit in either. She gets told, "We all know you're not good at discipline," right to her face!

So, what's the standard? What do we have to do to 'fit in?' Have perfect kids, but not too perfect? Have happy obedient kids, but not too obedient or they look like robots. Kids who can think on their own and be creative, but not too much or they'll be seen as wild and unruly? Out going kids, but not too much because no adult really wants to talk to kids. Smart kids, but not too smart or it'll make the other kids look stupid. I've tried walking the tight rope of mommyhood and have found myself completely stressed out, and overwhelmed. I have tried to 'toe the line,' but have lost friends over it. I've also lost my own sense of direction over it. So, I've rejected societies tight rope and found something so much better.

Mommyhood comes down to this- what is God's plan for your mommyhood? He knows you best. He knows what you can handle and what you can't. He knows your heart. So, is He calling you to be more strict? Is He calling you to be less controlling? Is He calling you to homeschool? Public school? Private School? What is He calling you to? and more importantly, Why is He asking you to do it?

Those questions may seem very scary, but let me tell you that every time I have felt God asking me to do something, whether it was something I wanted to do or something that was out of my comfort zone, it has always been to draw me closer to Him. He wants a deeper relationship with me all the time. He wants me trusting Him, not trusting in the 'plan' or trusting that my friends know what they are doing so I'll just do that. He wants the best for me and my family all the time. He wants me set free from fears, He wants me to grow and change and be all that He created me to be. That is God's heart for each mommy. God made us all different and the work He will do in my heart is going to look different than the work He'll do in your heart. So, the mommyhood life style is going to look very different from others and that's a good thing.

We have to stop trusting what other people are saying is right for our mommyhood and trust God. He knows our children. He knows us. He knows what is best for us.

I had someone tell me recently that I have to stop thinking like a teacher when I homeschool and start thinking 'freedom.' I was told that homeschool isn't what I am making it to be. I stood there and yes, I was a bit shocked that after homeschooling for over ten years and walking with the Lord for over twenty years, I was basically being told I was doing it all wrong, but as she was offering, what she thought was the best advice ever, I realized that she was telling me what God has called her to do. What she failed to realize is that God hasn't called me to that. She was imposing her calling on my calling. And yes, in the past I would have left feeling like a complete failure and hate myself because I wasn't like her, but I am now confident in my walk with God. Confident that God will talk to me, reveal to me what He has for my kids in His timing.

His timing. He is so good and so gentle. I'll be honest, I have a heart that has been and still is filled with so many fears. I'm sure God hasn't wanted for me all the things I've chosen for myself- I've made many decisions based out of fear, but as I have grown with the Lord, I have let the fears go, and have welcomed His will more and more.

The bottom line or what mommyhood comes down to is what is God's plan for you? Search for God's plan. Search for it like you were looking for a treasure chest full of gold, for that is exactly what His plan for your life is - a treasure.