What Leah is doing now

Leah graduating EMT class as salutatorian

Leah graduating EMT class as salutatorian. Ray as her instructor & proud dad giving her certificate that she earned

It’s been awhile since I updated this blog, but in my last blog post, I shared that Leah was taking an EMT class that her dad Ray was teaching at the hospital where he works. Leah didn’t think she would be able to pass the class or her clinicals, but she graduated as salutatorian–the second highest grade in the class! She only missed being the valedictorian by a couple of points. 

Below is a picture of her entire EMT graduating class with the EMT certificates they earned. Leah is on the first row, 3rd person from left. 

Leah's graduating EMT class

Leah’s graduating EMT class

Leah conquered her fears by taking this class. She thought she would fail the tests, when she actually scored among the highest grades in the class.

She really battled fear about doing her practical clinicals, thinking she would mess up, and we thought she was going to back out of them, but toward the end of the class she scheduled hers and she did great! Leah checked blood pressure, took patients’ pulses, and did anything else the doctors, nurses, and medics assigned her to do. She said she actually enjoyed it as she was learning new things. Ray made sure that she scheduled at least a few of the clinicals on the same shifts that he worked, so that he’d be there to help her.

On her last EMT call, she got a quick dose of reality of the difficulties and intense stress of Ray’s job as a paramedic. When the crew arrived at the scene, the patient was dead. While I was horrified she experienced this as a student, Ray thought it was a good thing because she saw first-hand what he deals with on a regular basis. 

Leah never took the class because she wanted to be an EMT. Ray was offering the class at his work, and he thought it’d be a good idea for Leah to take it to gain the practical skills and to add it on her resume as she looked for a job. In today’s uncertain, scary world, it’s good to know basic medical and survival skills. She was able to do this with her resume, and add that she was the salutatorian which is impressive. 

Our beautiful daughter Leah

Our beautiful daughter Leah

So what is Leah doing today? She got her first job! Leah is a very quiet, shy, introverted person. Like me, she battles fears and she was scared to do the interviews. Interviews can be quite scary, but Ray and I worked with her on practice interviewing.

I looked up YouTube videos on what to do and what not to during an interview. Some of them were funny, which helped her to just relax about it. To her surprise and our delight, she got her first job on what was only her second interview! Praise God!

Today Leah is a cashier at a grocery store in a bigger city. She did so well during her training that they said she finished her probationary period a month earlier than she was supposed to! She opened her own checking and savings account in her name, with the goal of saving for a new desktop computer. She’d also like to be able to trade in her car one day for a newer car. 

Our precious Leah

Our precious Leah

She’s considering enrolling in college in 2017, taking an introductory art class or a few basic ed classes to work toward earning her associate’s degree. If this is God’s will for her, I pray she’ll be able to do this. 

Leah often helps her sister Heather babysit her girls Annabelle and Violet, taking them to or picking them up from school, making them do their homework, feeding them supper, and ensuring they take their showers before bedtime on the nights Heather has to work late at her 2nd job.

This is such a help to Heather and is quite a responsibility; it’s preparing Leah for motherhood one day as a wife and mom. This year Leah has taken huge steps of faith to move toward adult independence.

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

Meanwhile, Leah continues working on her art on her graphic art tablet and taking weekly violin lessons. Below is a sample of art she drew by hand. One of the things Leah often draws is people’s eyes. Another artist I know said this is common for artists. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. The eye below looks so real! Leah is amazing!

Leah's art

Leah’s art

Each time I look at her art or hear her play beautiful music on her violin, tears come to my eyes. She is so gifted and talented. Ray and I are so very proud of her. I love her so much. She is precious.

I trust that God will continue guiding Leah in her purpose and calling. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”(Exodus 9:16)

Leah, 2016

Leah, 2016

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Leah’s EMT class

Our beautiful daughter Leah

Our beautiful daughter Leah

Leah has been taking my husband Ray’s EMT training class at the hospital where he works. It’s the first time she’s ever really been in a “classroom” environment, so it’s been a different experience for her. There’s certain perks with your dad being the primary instructor, like being able to ask him questions about the material in the textbook any time!

Leah doesn’t have any desire to be an EMT but since Ray was having the class, he wanted her to take it. We both thought it was a good idea for her to learn the much needed, practical skills and for the socialization with men and women of various ages, backgrounds, personalities, etc. 

There is a ton of reading with this class, so she’s stressed out right now, but she’s been doing well in the class, making A’s on the tests.

Next week she begins her clinicals where she’ll be working 12-hour shifts at the ER. Thankfully she’s working with Ray who can be a support to her and answer any questions. She’s really nervous about it so please pray for her!

I don’t know what the new year in 2016 holds for her, but believe it will be good. Please continue praying for God’s wisdom and direction for her as she seeks Him on her next step—whether that is college (art classes) and/or a job. 

Leah just turned 21 years old. It’s so hard to believe she’s now an adult. It seems only yesterday she was a baby in that pink hospital gown. Ray and I are very proud of the beautiful, wise, highly intelligent, funny, creative, spiritually gifted, loving, godly woman she has become.

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Leah is taking an EMT class

This summer our daughter Leah babysat our daughter Heather’s girls, Leah’s nieces Annabelle and Violet. Heather had assigned them daily chores, and Leah would take them to the swimming pool, the park, or for an ice cream cone. They enjoyed time with Aunt Leah!

Leah's nieces Violet & Annabelle

Leah’s nieces Violet & Annabelle

Leah's nieces, Annabelle and Violet

Leah’s nieces, Annabelle and Violet

This fall my husband Ray is teaching an EMT class at his work, and he wanted Leah to take it (he has had our whole family take it to learn the practical skills).

This past week, she took the all-day CPR training and passed the test the first time! Way to go, Leah! Ray and I were so proud of her.

Leah is continuing to take her violin lessons. She also asked for a mandolin and is teaching herself to play that, a guitar that her sister Heather gave her, and a keyboard that her friend Moriah blessed her with to learn how to play keyboard and piano. 

Leah at keyboard

Leah at keyboard

Leah continues to work on her graphic art. Below are two of her more recent pictures. She likes to draw eyes. She is amazing to me!

Leah’s art is very personal to her, so she doesn’t really want to share it with me or others. I hope one day she’ll have the courage to display (and even sell) her art. She’s drawn more that she won’t let me post here!

I’ve tried to encourage her that God has given her a gift to share with the world. Recently my friend Denise came over, who used to teach art at the Christian school for six years.

She looked at Leah’s graphic art and the watercolor painting she has been dabbling with, and Denise said to her, “You have a gift from God, Leah. Not everyone can do this.” She, her husband Clayton, and I tried to encourage Leah to sell her art on Etsy.

What is your gift(s)? Are you using your gift(s) or hiding it? Remember the parable of the man who hid his talents. (Matthew 25:14-30) Don’t hide your gifts; let them shine!

eye Copyright 2015 Leah Jones

eye Copyright 2015 Leah Jones

 

Hill Copyright 2015 Leah Jones

Hill Copyright 2015 Leah Jones

Leah had her hair trimmed last week, and it looks great. My stepdaughter Eden is getting married September 30, 2015, and Leah and her sister Heather are getting their hair styled in “Victory waves.”

I can’t wait to see what it looks like and our three beautiful daughters all dressed up for the wedding! Eden’s colors for her wedding are champagne pink and white. Heather and Leah are the bridesmaids, and Annabelle, Violet, and Eden’s baby girl Piper are the “flower girls.” I’m shopping this week for my “mother of the bride dress,” hopefully on sale! 

Leah, September 2015

Leah’s new hair trim, September 2015

Leah is also enjoying her new niece, Piper Elizabeth Raine. You can read about Eden’s labor and delivery and see the pictures here

Leah and her niece Piper

Leah and her niece Piper

Leah and Piper

Leah and Piper

Piper Elizabeth Raine Gooch

Piper Elizabeth Raine Gooch

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How is your summer going?

How is your summer going?

Leah started babysitting her nieces this week part-time, Annabelle and Violet (Heather’s daughters).

Violet & Annabelle

Violet & Annabelle

It’s a little strange with Leah being gone 3 days away from home (she spends the night to avoid using up a lot of gas in her car). But this helps save Heather, a single mom, a lot of money on expensive summer camp while she works full-time, it teaches Leah responsibility with children, and at least it’s some kind of step forward for Leah as far as working!

Recently Heather, Annabelle, Violet, Leah, and Heather’s friend Tiffany went to a Lindsey Stirling concert in Kansas City, MO.

Lindsey is the one who first inspired Leah to learn how to play the violin. Leah then inspired Annabelle to start playing. They said it was amazing! Leah really had fun.

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

You can see Lindsey’s incredible talent, playing my favorite song of hers, Crystallize, here.

I’m so happy that Leah got to see her!

Ray and I are still encouraging Leah to enroll in at least one art class at the local community college in August 2015. I’m trying to motivate her each day to study for the placement test.

She’s an amazing artist. Here’s three of her most recent graphic art pictures.

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Isn’t Leah incredible? She’s completely self-taught.

My prayer is that she will enroll in art classes soon, so that she can learn even more and reach her greatest potential.

What about you? Are you using your gifts for God and doing what you love?

Leave your comments below.

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Leah’s new car

Leah

Leah

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged here ~ just the dailiness of life. 🙂

Leah is 20 years old now and will turn 21 years old this year ~ a legal adult. So hard to believe! It seems yesterday that she was a little baby in that pink nightgown at the hospital.

She’s still drawing every day on her graphic art tablet. She made a goal in January 2015 to “draw 365,” drawing something new every day. This year she began experimenting with watercolor paints and charcoal pencils to draw by hand.  

Here’s a sample of her work below. She likes to draw eyes for some reason. When I asked her about this, she replied, “The eyes are the windows to the soul. A lot of artists focus on drawing or painting one body part.”

Drawing one body part helps the artist to refine his or her skill. Because Leah is so prophetic, I thought that her drawing eyes was also symbolic of her spiritual gifting~ a seer. My husband Ray said his mom and his sister used to draw eyes a lot, too. Interesting. I am AMAZED at how realistic the eye looks!

blue eye Copyright 2015 Leah Jones

blue eye
Copyright 2015 Leah Jones

She also likes to draw things from nature: trees, flowers, mountains, clouds.

watercolors Copyright 2015 Leah Jones

watercolors
Copyright 2015 Leah Jones

Leah is continuing to take Suzuki method violin lessons from her instructor, Emily. She practices everyday. She now plays classical music, hymns, Christmas music, Irish jigs, and has even written a few songs of her own. Leah is so doing so well and I’m very proud of her! 

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

One of the new things that happened this year is that Leah’s older sister, Heather, gave her a car!

It is a royal blue Ford Escape, automatic drive, good radio system with CD player, black leather interior, and a sunroof. Heather bought new tires for it last year. She had it detailed (cleaned) for Leah.  What a blessing!

Leah in her "new" car

Leah in her “new” car

Heather bought an almost-new, chocolate-covered Kia SUV and is very happy with her new wheels, too! It is nice! I’m so happy for these blessings for our daughters!

Heather & her new Kia SUV with the salesman

Heather & her new Kia SUV with the salesman

Leah graduated two years ago from our homeschool. She still “doesn’t know” what she wants to do now, whether to go to college or to work.

Ray and I have been encouraging her to take some type of first step. I’m like a racehorse, rarin’ to go out of the starting gate to run, so this is difficult for me to have an indecisive child who always says, “I don’t know.” (“It drives me up the wall!” is a more accurate way to say it!)

It would also help us financially if Leah would work, at least part-time, to contribute to the household, such as for her gas, car insurance, and violin lessons. I think working would also teach her more responsibility and help prepare her for the “real world” and to have more independence, eventually being on her own. (I’m not in a hurry for her to move out, being our last child, but some day she will have to fly the nest! She can’t live with us until she’s 30 or 40!)

I am so very thankful that she doesn’t give us any trouble as some teens and young adults do living at home, and that she helps with household chores, practices the violin without us asking her to (and draws/paints on her own initiative as it’s her passion), and that she enjoys spending time with Ray and me and our family.

Art and music are the language of Leah’s soul. She’s a very creative person, so a 9 to 5 job probably would bore her to tears. I believe whatever God has for her, it isn’t the status quo. 

She’s also extremely shy, like Ray and I both used to be (we grew out of it), so interviews and new experiences like college are intimidating for her. (She has had an interview, but didn’t get the job yet.)

I know without a doubt that God’s hand is upon her and I’m praying for Him to give her wisdom, clarity, and direction for her life this year.  But I believe she really needs to take some kind of action step THIS year! Please keep her in prayer.

Do you have any children (almost grown) who didn’t know what they wanted to do after graduation? What was their experience? Do you have any tips for helping to guide them? Leave your comments below.

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When your child doesn’t know

Leah (right) with her sister Heather (left) and me (middle) at my Cinderella women's conference on September 20

Leah (right) with her sister Heather (left) and me (middle) at my Cinderella women’s conference on September 20

Our daughter Leah has always homeschooled and in 2012, she graduated from our homeschool, Shekinah Christian Academy. Since then, Leah has not enrolled in college classes nor does she have a job. When Ray and I, her sisters, her grandparents, and friends ask her what she wants to do, she always gives the same response: “I don’t know.”

I have always been like a racehorse, rarin’ to go out of the starting gate to RUN. I know what I want in life and I make snap decisions, relying on hearing God’s still, small voice and paying attention to my gut instincts.

My husband Ray is much more slow in decision-making and in action, like a turtle. One time I bought a ceramic turtle as a gift for Ray, telling him that it was a symbol of his and God’s pace. He laughed.

ceramic turtle I bought as a gift for Ray

a ceramic turtle I bought as a gift for Ray

While I don’t want Leah to move out yet (I don’t believe she is ready), I DO want her to take some kind of step of action and set goals for her future. She can’t live forever with Ray and me.

One day she will need to be a self-supporting adult. 

For me to have a child who seems to have no sense of direction and to make decisions even more slowly than God or Ray drives me UP THE WALL! 

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

What do you do when your (almost grown) child doesn’t know what to do after graduation?

 Dr. James Lehman, MSW, writes in his article Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part III: Is It Ever Too Late To Set Up A Living Arrangement?

“Independence is a decision you can make as a family. If a young adult child is doing well, living at home and meeting the family’s expectations, then there’s no problem. But someday he will want to be independent. The way you get there is to sit down and have the child set some goals. Where do you plan to live? When do you plan to move out? How much does the child need to pay for rent or room and board while living at home? Measure progress toward the goal by the objectives...The greatest gift you can give your child is knowing how to be independent and take responsibility.”

Leah's iPhone

Leah’s iPhone

Leah is constantly on her iPhone and on Facebook. The Huffington Post writes that Leah’s Generation Y are handicapped for their preference for living online, and are losing touch with what it’s really like to do things people have always done: make friends, date, and even work

I’ve been encouraging Leah to set goals and write down her dreams. She still says, “I don’t know.” Do you have a child or children like this? What do you do? Please share your comments below.

fork in road

fork in road

Here’s what Leah IS doing these days:

  • Continuing to take violin lessons using the Suzuki method. She’s doing really well, learning classical music, hymns, Irish jigs, and more. I like to tease her by dancing in the hallway when she plays the Irish jigs. (She just rolls her eyes!) The songs she’s working on playing now are becoming much harder. I love listening to her play…beautiful!
  • Attending small group (a house church) each Sunday, where she hangs out with her teen/young adult friends. We go to small group each week for Bible study, worship, prayer, fellowship, and sometimes potluck dinners. Two of the boys in this group (one graduated, one is still in high school) already have jobs, working with their dad in his window-cleaning business. One of the teen girls homeschools, but enrolled in a dual-credit college writing class this August. I’ve tried to use these young adults/teens’ choices as an incentive for Leah to take action, but nothing doing. Two of my friends gave me a word that they believe Leah is like a late-blooming flower. These flowers bloom much later in the year, but when they do, they seem to shoot up overnight. One article reads that when late bloomers finally get it, they are the driving forces in the world. I believe Leah will be, too. She’s highly intelligent, is an amazing artist, is doing wonderful playing the violin, is funny, creative, and spiritually gifted. God has a great plan for her life…but I still get frustrated when she says, “I don’t know!”
  • Helping me a lot as my personal assistant with creating videos and at my live events, such as The Cinderella Story: The Power of Shoes women’s conference I just hosted and spoke at in Overland Park, KS, on September 20. I couldn’t have done it without Leah’s and others’ help!
  • Doing chores. I am not a maid. I am a speaker, author, and coach, working primarily on my laptop at home when I’m not speaking at a women’s conference or event. I can’t do everything, and sometimes need Leah’s or Ray’s help with cleaning and organizing the house. Recently Ray advised me to make a schedule for Leah to help me with certain chores. Livestrong.com advises parents to have rules such as doing chores to ensure young adults don’t become lazy or take advantage of their parents’ generosity. Once Leah is moved out, she will have to do this on her own.
  • Reading. Ray has challenged all of our daughters to read the Les Miserables book, which (in paperback) has 1,488 pages. Heather and Eden did not finish it. Leah is still working on it. She also reads science fiction and other fiction books.
  • Watching Star Trek and other sci-fi movies with Ray. When Leah moves out, poor Ray won’t have a movie buddy…at least not with his sci-fi movies, because I don’t like them at all! I do invite Ray to watch movies with me sometimes, which he usually says are “okay” and are “Beth movies.” (chic flics, dramas, etc.) 
  • Walking the track. We have a track by the hospital in town, which is almost brand new and has a smooth surface, that Leah and I sometimes walk. We both need to be more disciplined about this, especially before Missouri snow and ice hit.
  • Texas trip. Leah took another trip to Texas with Ray this summer to pick up her sister Eden, who was moving back to Missouri after 6 months’ time with her mom Karla and a friend in Texas. These long road trips with Ray are good dad-daughter time and they’ve made special memories. 
  • Babysitting. Leah has helped out her sister Heather this summer with babysitting her daughters (our precious grandchildren Annabelle and Violet) on special occasions, when Heather had to work and they weren’t at summer camp. Annabelle admired Leah’s violin playing so much that she decided she wanted to learn. She’s doing great, too!
  • Working on her tablet art. Several years ago, Ray bought Leah a graphic art tablet. She is a completely self-taught artist and is incredible. At the beginning of this year, she set a goal to draw something on her tablet or by hand every day. She continues to improve.
  • Learning to cook. This is something I need to be more diligent about with her. Sometimes it seems easier and faster to do things myself, but Leah needs to know how to cook for when she does move out on her own or marries one day. Cooking is one of my LEAST liked activities (it’s akin to water torture, in my opinion), but I am trying to get better about it. We are going to attend one of our daughter Heather’s Wild Tree parties next week, to learn how to cook healthier meals using organic products that don’t have all the chemicals, preservatives, additives, food coloring, GMO’s, and other unhealthy things in them.

God continues to work patience in me as Leah takes time to decide what it is she wants for her life. Ray has told me not to push her, but to instead encourage and motivate her.

I am so thankful she doesn’t give Ray and me heartaching problems many parents face such as sexual promiscuity, alcohol or drug use, curfew violations, and other serious rebellion. She keeps her room clean most of the time, does her own laundry, enjoys spending time with us as a family, and attends small group (our church) with her friends weekly. 

I pray each day for God to speak to her about His plan and purpose for her life, and that He will give her the courage to step out in faith for the next step of her life. 

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel


leah-hairtrim

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When your graduate doesn’t know the next step

 

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

Leah with acoustic, German-made violin

Yesterday our granddaughter Violet asked our youngest daughter Leah if she has homework.

Leah said no (never one to expound on things!), and I explained that she had graduated and doesn’t have homework any more.

Violet said, “You’re lucky!”

She then asked if Leah was going to college and Leah said she didn’t know yet. 

Leah has been saying, “I don’t know,” since she graduated in 2013.

I am  like a racehorse rarin’ to go, running out of the starting gate. I’m very much a fast action taker (married to Ray who is like a turtle). I have big dreams and definite goals. So for me to have a child who seems, for lack of a better word, aimless, drives me up the wall!

What are parents to do when their child doesn’t know the next step after graduation?

Ray doesn’t think we should push Leah hard about making a decision about college, vocational school, or even working a part-time or full-time job! Leah is intelligent, spiritually gifted, and as our youngest and only child at home now, I don’t think he’s in any hurry to have her move out of our house any time soon (neither am I!). 

IMG_1168[1]

Leah at The Nutcracker Ballet
with our friends

But I want her to take some kind of step and make a decision to do something!

Here’s some tips for you that I’m using on myself:

  • Pray. This is the best thing you can do. For control freaks like me, you really have to just surrender the situation to God. I can’t physically make Leah enroll in online college classes or fill out job applications. I can’t force her to make some kind of decision for her life, barring kicking her out of the house, which I won’t do. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:18 NLV, “You must pray at all times as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray. Pray for the things that are needed. You must watch and keep on praying. Remember to pray for all Christians.” God hears your prayers as a parent. He loves and knows your child more than you do. He will lead and guide her/him. He has a good plan for your child’s life. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • Encourage. Let’s face it, criticism, nagging, and threatening don’t work very well with teens or young adults (or anyone!). Encourage your graduate about her/his spiritual gifts, talents, skills, and strengths. Call them to attention. Let your not-in-a-hurry-to-decide graduate know that you believe in her/him. Say, “You have so much to offer the world. You’re such a great artist.” (singer, musician, writer, or whatever he or she is good at). That she (or he) can do anything and nothing is impossible with God. Share about interesting looking college or community classes or job opportunities.
  • Motivate. Leah takes Suzuki method violin lessons from her wonderful instructor, Emily. She was inspired to learn how to play the violin by Lindsey Sterling playing Crystallize. Lindsey is just flat out anointed by God playing this song. For Christmas, we bought Leah a beautiful, acoustic violin (expensive!) that was made in Germany. She practices playing her violin every day and is self-motivated to go to her lessons each week. You may need to use whatever is important to your graduate to light a fire under him/her. If she wants to go to violin or piano lessons, she can get a part-time job to help pay for them. If she/he wants to use the car, she/he can work to put gas in the tank or help pay for the car insurance. If she/he wants to eat….just kidding. Find something that matters to your graduate to motivate her/him to work or to pursue further education or training. What really matters to her/him the most? What’s important? 

    Leah with her violin instructor Emily

    Leah with her violin instructor Emily

  • Educate. Leah was always homeschooled, and is now graduated, but I see no reason for the learning to stop. No matter if your child was homeschooled, went to public school or private school, and how long it’s been since graduation, you can still cultivate a learning atmosphere in your home. Buy your graduate her or his favorite fiction books and other books they can read to continue learning. Go to art museums. Travel new places. Do fun things together that are also educational. I always have a stack of books in our front entry room that I’m reading, I regularly attend webinars, telecalls, and other trainings, and I enjoy traveling to learn new things, try new foods, and meet new people. I believe that learning should be life-long; every day affords an opportunity to learn and expand your mind. Encourage your graduate to continue learning new things every day. 
  • Influence. Hang around successful people who can impress and influence your graduate, and perhaps even speak into her/his life. Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who is your graduate friends with? Who does she/he hang around? What does he/she read, what music does he/she listen to, what YouTube videos does he/she watch, where is he/she surfing online, what are his/her hobbies, interests, and activities? I study successful women entrepreneurs (speakers, writers, coaches, women with online businesses) because that is my career now, and I desire to be extremely successful. Your big dreams and achievements and others’ can impact and inspire your graduate. At the very least, your career may show your graduate that is what she/he does NOT want to do! (Leah, being very shy, has no desire whatsoever to be a women’s conference speaker like me…and she dislikes writing as well, so we’ve ruled that out for her life!) I encourage her to hone her skills on the violin and in art on her graphic art tablet (she’s an amazing artist). For Christmas, we bought her a mandolin, which she is now teaching herself to play. She also plays around on the guitar. Music is Leah’s “language.” I encourage her to listen to good musicians and study great artists, as these are the areas she may pursue later as her career/ministry.

Applying these tips may help your graduate to take at least one small step. Leah finally applied for a couple of jobs and had her first job interview. She was really nervous about this, and she didn’t get the job, but she did it. It was a major milestone for her since she is so shy. One step leads to another.

Heather, me & Leah, 2014

Heather, me & Leah
2014

You can read 10 Powerful and Inspiring Graduate Speeches at Personal Excellence (Be Your Best Self, Live Your Best Life) by clicking here. I liked what Bono said in his 2004 graduate speech:

“For four years you’ve been buying, trading, and selling everything you’ve got in this marketplace of ideas. The intellectual hustle. Your pockets are full, even if your parents’ are empty, and — and now you’ve got to figure out what to spend it on. … So my question I suppose is: What’s the big idea? What’s your big idea? What are you willing to spend your moral capital, your intellectual capital, your cash, your sweat equity in pursuing outside […]?” – Bono

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Prayers for your children

Praying woman

Praying woman

We are finished homeschooling Leah, but she still lives at home – and still needs my prayers daily! Even when your kids “fly the nest,” it’s vital to keep them covered in prayer (and generations to come!).

Recently I came across an article by Nancy Campbell in the Above Rubies homeschooling magazine (I occasionally still read this!), and thought I’d share it with you. (Copyright 2013 Nancy Campbell, Above Rubies magazine)

These are prayers that Nancy and her husband pray for her children, their spouses, their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and generations to come. They pray personally by name for each one. They don’t pray for every one of these requests every day, but as the Holy Spirit leads them.

Nancy said you might like to copy and print the prayers out to have as a guide for praying for your children. You can look up the scriptures and pray them out loud before God as a powerful way to pray for your children.

“O God, hear our cry for our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the children who are yet to be born. We pray…

  • That they will have a real born again experience and come to know God personally (1 John 1:12-13; 2 Tim. 3:15, Rev. 3:20).
  • That they will have soft and tender hearts to hear and obey the voice of the Lord (1 Sam. 3:10; Isaiah 57:15 & 66:2).
  • That they will walk humbly before the Lord (Micah 6:8 & 1 Peter 5:5-6).
  • That they will love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).
  • That they will love to read and meditate on God’s Word and will receive revelation and insight as they read (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:9, 11, 18, 97, 105, 130; Ephesians 1:17-18; Colossians 3:6 & 1 Peter 2:2).
  • That they will love to pray and be committed to prayer (2 Chron. 7:14; Psalm 55:17; Luke 18:1 & 1 Thess. 5:17).
  • That they will be committed to the regular gathering together of God’s people (Heb. 10:25).
  • That they will love righteousness and hate evil (Psalm 97:10; 101:3; Amos 5:15 & Romans 12:9).
  • That they will stand strong against the wiles of the devil and never compromise (Eph. 5:11; 6:13-14 & 1 Peter 5:8-9).
  • That they will hate the spirit of this world and not give in to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:2 & James 4:4).
  • That they will hate lies and deception and seek after truth (Psalm 51:6; 119:30, 163; Proverbs 12:22; 13:5 & 19:9).
  • That they will shine as lights in this dark and deceived world (Isaiah 60:1-2; Matt. 5:16; John 17:18 & Phil. 2:15).
  • That they will understand true justice and have discernment regarding good and evil, the holy and the profane (Lev. 10:10; Isaiah 59:14-15; Jer. 15:19 & Ezekiel 22:26).
  • That they will seek God with all their hearts (Psalm 27:8; 105:4; 119:2; Proverbs 28:5 & Zephaniah 2:3).
  • That they will keep their whole spirit, soul, and body pure and blameless for the Lord (1 Thess. 5:23).
  • That they will keep themselves from evil (1 Chron. 4:10; John 17:15-16).
  • That their faith will not fail (Luke 22:32).
  • That God will pour out His Holy Spirit on them mightily (Isaiah 44:3-4 & Acts 2:16-18).
  • That they will keep themselves pure and holy (body, soul, and spirit) for the man/woman that God has chosen for them (Rom. 6:12-13; 1 Cor. 6:15-20 & 1 Thess. 4:3-4).
  • That God will even now prepare them for a godly wife/husband who will be committed and faithful to the marriage to the end of their lives (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
  • That they will love and embrace children and establish a godly home (Gen. 1:28; Deut. 7:13; Psalm 127 and 128 & Malachi 2:15).
  • That God will keep them from accident, harm, sickness, danger, and all enemy attack – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually (Psalm 91).

Amen.”

 

 

 

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A beautiful heart

Leah and her electric violin

Leah and her electric violin

We’re getting into the hot summer months now here in Missouri. Some of our summer plans include the zoo (an annual excursion) and hopefully a family vacation. I’d LOVE to be able to go to the beach! What are your summer plans?

Our family moved to a beautiful new home recently, and we have been busy unpacking and organizing. We’ve been praying for a year now for a new rental home. I love our new place! God is so good.

Leah is staying busy drawing with her graphic art tablet, hanging out with her teen friends at small group on Sundays, and taking violin lessons.

She really enjoys playing the violin. Her wonderful instructor, Emily, says that she’s doing well and lessons are a blur now. Listening to Leah practice blesses me so much.

Emily is about to order a new book that comes with a CD, which teaches students using the Suzuki method.

Emily is very excited about this. I’d heard of it before when reading another homeschool parent’s blog.

The method was begun by Japanese violinist Shin’ichi Suzuki,  who wished to bring beauty to the lives of children in his country after the devastation of World War I.

The central belief in the Suzuki method is that all people are capable of learning from their environment. The essential components of his method spring from the desire to create “the right environment” for learning music. Suzuki also believed that this positive environment would help to foster character in students.  (Resource: Wikipedia)

“I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.” ~Shin’ichi Suzuki

Spiritually, Jesus is the one who gives us a beautiful heart when we receive Him as Lord and Savior. He forgives us of all our sins, and makes us brand new.

“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13, ESV

Do you have a beautiful heart? Do you know Him?

 

 

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Life After Homeschooling

:Leah and her sister Eden's cat

Leah and her sister Eden’s cat

You may be wondering what Leah has been up to since she graduated from our homeschool.

She’d probably tell you, “Blissfully nothing!” with a big smile on her face.

She has done the following:

  • gone to bed way too late most nights (despite my reminders to go to bed earlier)
  • slept in the next morning
  • draws daily with her graphic art tablet that Ray bought her several years ago
  • plays video games
  • helps her friend David with a video game that he’s creating and programming, by drawing people and objects for it
  • chats with her friends Nicholas, Nicole, Morgan, and David on Gmail
  • watches Star Trek or other sci-fi movies with Ray when he is home from work.

In other words, she’s living a completely carefree, irresponsible life!

To be fair, Leah has to help me with household chores each day. She has to help with her own laundry, keep her room clean, and occasional dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and washing dishes.

One of her “perks” for getting her driver’s license is running errands in town for Ray and me. Ahhh, this is what children are born for! (Just kidding. But it does help us out immensely!)

Every Sunday we attend a small group Bible study, where we worship God together with contemporary songs and hymns on YouTube videos, have a Biblical teaching on using the spiritual gifts and other topics for spiritual growth, talk and pray with our friends, and occasionally have potluck dinners or other activities together. The teen group has become solid friends, and Leah loves going there to hang out with them.

As you can see in the picture below, they like to have fun. Aaron is the one with the sock on his head. Next to him is his brother, David. Second row are Annabelle (Leah’s niece), Alex, Rachel, and Mariah. Third row, Violet (Leah’s niece) and Abi.

Leah and her friends at small group

Leah and her friends at small group

For Bible reading, she and I have been reading through Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence*** devotional each day.

Leah with her pretty roses on Valentine's Day

Leah with her pretty roses on Valentine’s Day

Ray has also challenged her, as he has each of our daughters, to read Les Miserables. If Leah accomplishes this, she’ll be the first to do it because Heather and Eden dislike reading. (It’s a 1,260-page book!) She has started reading it, but I’m not sure how far she’s gotten.

But Leah does often read books on her own, even though she’s not homeschooling any more. This makes Ray and me happy because we are voracious readers, and believe reading is important. She prefers fiction such as Into the Wild (Warriors, Book 1) ***, but reads other genres of books, too.

Art is her passion. On January 1, 2013, she set a goal to do a “365 art challenge,” drawing art of some kind every day for the entire year. Primarily she uses her graphic art tablet.

Leah doing a special art project for me

Leah doing a special art project for me

Leah also is my personal assistant in my Speaking, Writing and Coaching Business at BethJones.net. She’s often the unseen videographer for my videos on YouTube and helps me with other administrative tasks. Pictured above, she’s working on a special art project for me for our RELEASED Women’s Conference.

She went on a family vacation with Ray, me, Heather, and Heather’s girls Annabelle and Violet to St. Louis, MO, to see the arch.

My dad bought Leah some brand new luggage for a graduation present, a tradition that he started when I graduated. Then he bought Heather some, and now Leah. Looking back now, I realize it was a prophetic gift, because my desire and my anointing and calling is to go to the nations for God’s glory. Heather has a missions calling as well.

Leah doesn’t want to travel to as many places as we do, but she does want to go to Ireland and Australia. She was able to quickly use the new luggage when she went on a road trip with Ray for his pastor’s ordination ceremony in Texas under River’s Edge Church’s covering and to visit her mimi, Judy (Ray’s mom), and Ray’s stepdad Leonard for a couple of days.

Leah's graduation luggage

Leah’s graduation luggage

But the biggest thing Leah has been doing since graduating is learning how to play the violin!

Here’s how it started

You probably think it was my or Ray’s idea. Nope. It was Leah’s.

Actually, I believe it was God’s. I believe He put this desire into her heart to learn to play an instrument.

I believe Leah has dormant gifts that she hasn’t even begun to tap into yet, and God is beginning to draw them out Himself.

To my surprise, for Christmas Leah asked for either an electrical violin or keyboard for her gift.

She said she wanted to learn to play the violin and the piano.  Like Mary, I treasured and pondered these things in my heart. (Luke 2:9)

Leah researched violins and pianos, read all the reviews on Amazon and YouTube, and sent me links for the top 3 she wanted the most.

She was inspired to play the electric violin by the incredibly gifted Lindsey Stirling, who plays classical music with a modern hip-hop/pop twist. I LOVE Lindsey’s video Crystallize! She is flat out anointed to play the violin. I get chill bumps every time I watch it.

We ordered Leah a violin for Christmas, but she didn’t know if we’d bought her the keyboard or the violin. She thought it was the keyboard, from the shape of her polka-dot-wrapping-paper box, so it was a surprise. She had the biggest smile on her face when she opened it.

Leah opening her Christmas 2012 gift from Ray and me

Leah opening her Christmas 2012 gift from Ray and me

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear

As soon as Leah told me she wanted a violin, I immediately began praying for the right instructor. We had never covered music in homeschooling, other than a general overview study of the classical musicians like Beethoven and Mozart. I don’t know how to play any instrument or read music, and I knew we’d need to find someone – and I wanted someone GOOD.

I also asked God if it were possible, to help us find a Christian instructor.

I was having Mexican lunch with my friend Diane Bishop one day, and at the end of the conversation, I asked Diane if she happened to know of anyone who taught violin lessons.  She did! Years ago, her stepdaughter Hannah had taken lessons from a public school teacher, Emily.

I messaged Hannah on Facebook to ask her if she knew Emily’s number, then called Emily and she called back promptly. Emily has been teaching students for 15 years. (She doesn’t look old enough to have done that! She’s beautiful and so sweet, and she looks like a young adult herself!) She not only teaches lessons, but plays very well herself. Leah began her lessons right away.

Leah's violin instructor Emily and Leah

Leah’s violin instructor Emily and Leah

She’s been taking the lessons for about a month and really likes it. Emily is teaching her music theory as well (how to read notes). Leah has to practice every day. It sounds like beautiful music to me!

Leah and her electric violin

Leah still isn’t sure what she wants to do career- or ministry-wise with her life. Ray says we shouldn’t push her, but has exhorted her that she needs to start setting other goals for her life. She will either have to go to college, vocational training school, or work eventually. I’m also encouraging her to create a bucket list – making a list of all the things she’d love to do throughout her life.

We are talking to her about signing up for at least one art class at a community college. She is an amazingly gifted artist.

But I’m so proud of her for beginning violin lessons and so excited she’s learning to play!

What is something you or your child has always wanted to do? Don’t wait! God wants you to use the gifts that are inside of you for His glory.

***These are affiliate links. I only share about products or services I’ve used myself or highly recommend. You can purchase the item without my affiliate link, but I’d appreciate it so much if you would use my affiliate link! Thank you!

 

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Brave movie: My last homeschool field trip with Leah

Merida with bow and arrow, Brave movie

“If you had a chance to change your fate, would you?” – Merida, Brave movie

Yesterday I was wracking my brain, trying to think of something FUN that Leah and I could do for a field trip for her last homeschool day before she graduates tonight. I had googled Missouri, Kansas, homeschool field trips, events, you name it. We’ve been to so many places in Kansas City NUMEROUS times, such as the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, the Kansas City Zoo, Science City, Union Station, Powell Gardens, etc.

What could we do that was different and which would make Leah smile big and have a sweet good memory of our last day homeschooling? I wanted to end homeschooling on a great note. Then the idea came to me: go to the animated Brave movie and then eat lunch out afterward!

It was God-inspired.

Excellent movie! I highly recommend it. And Leah really liked it. The story is of a girl with flowing red hair on the thresh of womanhood named Merida, who is a Scottish princess and an aspiring, skilled archer. She protests against the expectations of royalty’s tradition (marrying a suitable lord after a sports competition for her hand),

Merida makes a reckless, foolish choice to try to change her mother the queen (who has been training and preparing her for years to be a “proper” princess and for marriage), and her rash decision results in chaos and near destruction of the kingdom.

I loved red-haired, high-spirited Merida, her big black horse, the beautiful scenery in Scotland, the Scottish music, the spiritual symbollism of archery (prayer, intercession, prophecy), the humor, and the realistic story of a relationship between a girl and her mother. The movie is about the importance of family and of a young woman creating her own destiny, which I felt was an appropriate theme for Leah’s graduation tonight.

Leah is a lot like Merida – strong-willed, independent, passionate. I laughed at the frown on Merida’s face when her mother would say things like, “A lady does not place her weapon on the table” and “Princesses don’t bite into their apples.” Despite my attempts at “training” Leah, she often insists on her way about doing things, choosing a new path.

When the queen helped Merida to dress for the special occasion of the suitors’ games, Merida felt restricted in her tight dress and headdress and she gasped, “I can’t breathe!”  “You look perfect!” the queen said. Seeing her daughter’s discomfort and misery in the dress, she admonished as she left the room, ‘Just remember to smile.”

Tears sprang to my eyes several times during the movie as I recognized Leah and myself in the daughter and the mother characters, as Merida ran her black horse (reminding me of Leah’s horseback riding and horse show winner days), and as she used her gift – her bow and arrow against an enraged black bear (the ancient prince Mor’du).

As I watched Leah smiling at times through the movie, I prayed a prayer of thanks to God for leading us to this movie to close out her homeschool years. I also felt it was prophetic for her life – the bow and arrows, the horse, the blazing of her own trail.

Ride like the wind, Leah. Touch the sky. And remember to smile.

Some say our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one’s destiny intertwines with many others. It’s the one thing we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it. But there are some who are led. – Brave movie (Pixar)

Video of Touch the Sky (Julie Fowlis)

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Leah’s graduating tonight

Leah by fountains at Crown Center, KC

Tonight is our youngest daughter Leah’s high school (homeschool) graduation. I haven’t been blogging lately because I’ve been too busy living life. The last two weeks I’ve been running around like crazy, getting things ready for Leah’s homeschool graduation, which I am so dreading! Everything is almost done now. I’ve missed you, though!

I’m still crying a lot. Yes, STILL. Every time I see school supplies. Yesterday Leah and I went on our last homeschooling week‘s field trip (do you feel my agony from writing that?)  to eat at Fritz’s Restaurant where they deliver your cheeseburgers and fries by a little whistling train and to explore Crown Center in Kansas City.

Leah’s less-than-enthusiastic response to Fritz’s was typical teen disdain: “This is for BABIES, mom!” I wanted to say, ‘You ARE my baby!” but I knew that would go over like a lead balloon and I’d get the rolled eyes, which she has down to an art.  Besides, I liked the little train!

After we ate, we left (without the train engineer paper hat) to walk around Crown Center. When I saw the Crayola Store, I became teary-eyed again. I know, grow up, right?

That’s the problem. Growing up happens way too fast. Why don’t we ever notice while it’s happening?

For so long I’ve had the identity of “homeschool mom”…homeschooling for over 15 years now. How do I suddenly let it go? Or at least it seems sudden.

Yes, I have done other things in life. For the  last 1 1/2 years. I started an online business for my Speaking and Book Writing. (I’ve also been an editor and personal assistant to the CEO of a national organization, a pizza maker making an average of 30 to 60 pizzas on Friday and Saturday nights, a flight attendant, an executive secretary doing transcription/word processing for 7 executives, a waitress many times, a newspaper featured news/police beat reporter, and a J.C. Penny catalog clerk.)

It’s not like I’m an empty-shell person, a non-person, that I’ve stopped existing just because I had children or started homeschooling our kids. I am my own worst enemy my own person, not just wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend.

God wants us to use our gifts for His glory. He doesn’t want us wives and moms to have totally child-centered homes, for our identities to be completely wrapped up in our kids until they leave home. It’s not healthy for our children, our marriages, or ourselves as women.

BUT I LOVE HOMESCHOOLING!

When I shared my feelings with some friends this week, they joked that I could find other children to homeschool. Yes, just go to the mall and ask some random child and her mother if they mind if I take her home and can begin to homeschool her.

One friend of mine admitted she had struggled a lot, too, when homeschooling ended: “Yes, I grieved over leaving homeschooling. I STILL miss it and it’s been several years!! God started planting the seed of leaving it a couple years earlier cause He knew I would have trouble leaving it, too.”

Another friend, who’s been homeschooling for 14 years and still has a 3-year-old whom she intends to homeschool until high school graduation, had a different view about the final homeschool year: “Let’s see, I’ll be 60 years old when I’m done. YEP, I will DEFINITELY be ready to stop by then!”

Seriously, this ache inside me is BIG. What’s a girl to do when she can’t homeschool any more? I LOVE homeschooling. What am I gonna’ do now?

Here’s just a few things I have on my homeschooling-is-forever-over list:

  • Rise up and not regret. Remember and cherish the happy, fun times. Be thankful for the privilege of homeschooling.
  • Keep dreaming big for me, Ray, our kids, and grandkids. Good things are around the corner!
  • Have fun and laugh a lot.
  • Strive to please God (not man) in all I do, say, and think!
  •  Start letting go and watch Leah learn to soar on her own.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Try to make myself believe this list.

As my sister Maria and our daughter Heather told me, it’s not like Leah will stop learning new things just because she’s graduating or we can’t still do fun things. We can still go on fun field trips.

Maybe this is even a brand-new, even funner chapter in our lives.

Just putting the books down and going on a road trip (letting Leah drive, now that she has her driver’s license!)….until the day she drives away, all on her own.

Now I’ve got tears again…  :)

“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” ~ Coco Chanel

Do you have children whom you have homeschooled who graduated or will you be facing it soon? Was/is it hard?

Have you ever gone through a transition time like this where your identity was changing? Please leave your comments below.

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What is success?

high school graduationGraduation is around the corner for many public school and private school students. Originally I was planning to graduate Leah in May or June this year, but after praying and thinking about things lately and talking with Ray, we are postponing her graduation until later this summer.

Of course, Leah isn’t exactly thrilled about this – she doesn’t want to graduate “later” than her public school and private school friends – but I can’t in good conscience graduate her from high school if Ray and I believe she isn’t ready yet. There are some subjects/topics/skills we want her to truly master first before letting her spread her wings to fly and soar. This means college will be postponed, if she decides to attend (she doesn’t know yet if she wants to go. We are praying for God to show her what to do.)

Just a few of the “must master” requirements before Leah graduates are:

  • Passing her drivers’ test and getting her driver’s license (I am hoping this will happen within the next 2 weeks! We have been practicing more this week on parallel parking and right turns!)
  • Reading more classics in literature, such as Dickens, Jane Austen, and Alexandre Dumos
  • More knowledge and understanding of major wars in U.S. History
  • More proficiency in math skills to prepare for the SAT
  • More cooking/baking skills
  • Memorizing Psalm 23, Psalm 91, and the Love chapter
  • Knowing the names of the apostles and women who followed Jesus
  • Knowing some of Jesus’ parables
  • Having a “life verse” and memorizing it
  • Knowing how to fill out a job application and interview well
  • Knowing how to change the oil in the car
  • Knowing how to change a tire on the car
  • Wilderness/Survival Skills.

I made a master checklist, and am checking these off as she demonstrates mastery of them. (Some she already has mastered.) These are a few of the ones that we believe are the most important (other than her relationship with God and improved social skills. Forbes says that outstanding social skills can help with climbing the corporate ladder with great speed.

We want to make sure she is properly prepared to be on her own once she leaves home. Above all, we want her to have a passionate, sincere faith in Jesus Christ, obeying God and doing what He has called her to do and to be. We also want her to be healthy, happy, and successful in whatever she chooses to do.

“Success” is interpreted in different ways by people. From the blog The Life Without School Community, which I just found tonight by my sometimes-friend Google, here’s a list of questions for you and me to ponder as homeschooling parents:

  • What is success?
  • What do children need in order to feel successful?
  • What do children need in order to be successful?
  • Is success a product or a journey? or both?
  • How does one measure success?
  • Can one measure success for another?
  • What does one need to be successful in our society and how does one attain that success?
  • How does one define a successful education and a successful “student?”
  • Is a “good education” necessary for one to be successful?

What would you consider to be “success” for your homeschooled child after she or he reaches adulthood? What would that look like? Please share your comments below.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:2, NASB

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Ducks, The Hunger Games, & Mediterranean Food

baby ducks

Recently I resigned from a work-at-home position as a Blog Editor (editing articles, posting blogs on a WordPress site) and personal assistant, that I had been doing for 9 months, to focus more on Leah’s homeschooling. This is her last year of homeschooling; she will graduate later this summer. I want us to go on fun field trips and short road trips to make sweet good memories this last year.

So this past Friday, Ray, Leah and I had a whole day of fun together. 🙂

I want a duck!

First, we went to the Tractor Supply store to look at the baby ducks and chicks. Our daughter Heather had been there first with her kids and told me about them. I LOVE ducks and have always wanted one as a pet.

Ray teases me that I just want to be Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of the wonderful book Cross Creek, who had ducks on her farm.

Maybe that’s part of it (she was a successful writer, even winning the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Yearling, so emulating her is a good thing), but I also just like ducks. They are SO cute! I love to watch them swim, walk, and hear them quack.

Here are Ray and Leah looking at the baby chicks. Leah and I both thought that the ducks were cuter.

Leah and Ray looking at baby chicks

Ray looked at my smiling, animated face as I took pictures and asked, “Beth, do you want a duck?” They were only $4.99 and if I had said yes, he would have bought me one ~ even several. We live in a rental house and our landlord won’t allow us to have pets, so I had to say no.

“Where would we keep it anyway?” I asked. “We could keep it in the tub right now, but eventually it’s going to get big and outgrow the tub. It would need a pond or a lake to be happy.”

Yet it was tempting…one day I hope to have some ducks!

Next we went to Meadowmere Park in Grandview, MO, that has almost 53 acres and includes an “Enchanted Forest” theme play land for children.

The park was nothing specatcular, but it had a nice walking trail which leads to Longview Lake. The area was scenic and peaceful with tall oak trees, cherry blossom trees, and a winding river.

Ray and Leah walked ahead of me as I snapped pictures. I loved this picture of them walking together on the trail:

Leah and Ray on walking trail

And may the odds be ever in your favor! The Hunger Games

We then drove to Town Center Theatre in Leawood, Kansas, to watch The Hunger Games movie. The Hunger Games is a  young adult novel written by Suzanne Collins, published in September 2008. It is written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in  a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem, where the countries of North American once existed. (Resource: Wikipedia)

The Capitol, which is a highly advanced metropolis, holds absolute power over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl, ages 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol, are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive. (Resource: Wikipedia)

Ray has read all three of the books in the Trilogy (the other books being Catching Fire and Mockingjay), but Leah and I had not. He couldn’t wait to see the movie. I surprised him by buying tickets online, and then when Heather was at our house telling him she was going to see it, he said, “Yeah, I really want to see it!”

Heather, who knew I’d bought the tickets, smiled at me and I looked at Ray, grinning, and said, ‘You are!”  He then raised an eyebrow and asked, “I am? What do you mean?” Then I told him I’d purchased three tickets for him, me and Leah for Friday afternoon ~ which made him happy. 🙂

The movie is awesome, but does have some scenes of violence (children being killed), which should be considered for younger children or preteens or teens who are sensitive to violent scenes. Ray and Leah both asked me why I wanted to see this movie, since I don’t normally watch anything violent.

Why I loved The Hunger Games movie

The reason why I wanted to see it is because I believe it is symbollic of warriors ~ which we are as believers in Christ. (I wrote a book on women and spiritual warfare which you can buy here.) The main character Katniss, or Kat as she is nicknamed, is skilled with a bow and an arrow, from being forced to hunt for food in the forest for herself and her family to be able to eat.

In Medieval times, when bows and arrows were necessary for warfare, the training required by an archer to use bows and arrows was extremely time consuming. It was necessary for them to become expert marksmen. In Kat’s case, she would need and use these excellent skills to be able to survive. Kat also showed great courage, volunteering as tribute, to replace her younger sister Primrose, who was chosen for the annual Hunger Games.

I felt that Kat represented what God has called me to do – to have courage and to war on my knees in prayer, and to teach my children and grandchildren to do the same. I want prayer to be my legacy.

Oh, the food!

We all loved the movie. Afterward, we went to Mr. Gyros restaurant, where we ate delicious Mediterranean food: chicken kabobs, tzatkiki sauce, pita bread and hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, and baklava – a heavenly dessert.

Chicken kabobs, stuffed grape leaves, tzatkiki sauce

 

baklava

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was delicious and the perfect way to end our day! What a fun, relaxing time.

What do you and your family do for fun? Please share in the comments section below.

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Are you content in all things?

Leah at Harmony Mission (MO), a mission to help Osage Indians

When Leah and I went  on a field trip to the Kemper Contemporary Art Museum in Kansas City, we stopped by the little gift shop before we left to browse. They had pottery, art books, carved statues, and other beautiful things.

Leah and I were looking at the jewelry, when she noticed one with blue stones on top that she admired. I offered to buy it for her and she said no (it was $25, one of the lower priced items).

The clerk raised her eyebrow, and brought out similar rings in different stone colors to see if she liked those better, but Leah liked the first one best. She still said no, though, when I asked if she wanted it again. I asked her several times before we left, just to make sure.

“How did you get one who turned out like that?” the clerk asked me, impressed. “Usually, it’s the other way around, with the teen begging for something and the parent saying no.” I just smiled in response, pondering these things like Mary pondered things in her heart.

Ever since she was a little girl, Leah has never wanted to buy a lot of things. Sometimes I’ve wondered why – is it a self-esteem issue? Does she feel like somehow she doesn’t “deserve” something new, pretty, or that she really wants? But when I’ve prayed about it, I’ve felt like God has shown me that Leah is set apart, and is not a “worldly,” materialistic person like so many people are today- and that He purposely created her that way.

Leah lives simply.  She doesn’t require a lot of material things to be happy. She just wants the love of her parents, family and friends; basic shelter, clothing and food; and a few favorite tech gadgets – her Ipod with her music,  her computer, and her cell phone when she leaves the house.

For entertainment, she loves drawing on her graphic art tablet. She enjoys nature walks and loves animals. Her personality is phlegmatic-melancholy, usually even-keeled and well-balanced.

Leah is not a person of extremes. She doesn’t feel driven to become President of the U.S., conquer the world hunger problem – or to urgently spend her birthday money all in one hour when she hits the jackpot with checks from relatives each year. Instead she saves the money until she sees something she needs or wants.

Unlike most girls her age, she doesn’t live for going shopping for new clothes, shoes, and purses all the time. She’d rather pop some popcorn and sit down to watch a sci-fi movie with Ray.

When she does shop, she doesn’t want to go for hours. She just wants to buy the essentials – no name brand clothing, no bold logos, no bright colors, no shiny pictures on them. Just practical, comfortable clothing that gets the job done – to stay warm or cool!

You won’t find her wearing a bright red Angry Bird or a Gap tshirt…no Kohl’s Candied Ruched Party Dress. Maybe her dress resistance is because when she was a baby, I had her closet full of beautiful, frilly dresses on baby hangers, that I would take great delight in choosing from to dress her in each day – and now she is protesting! 🙂

Seriously, when the clerk asked me this question, I realized I can’t take credit for this wonderful trait in Leah – a child who doesn’t want us to constantly spend money on her (unlike her older sisters, who were that way as teens!).  It’s just a God thing, the way God made Leah.

I’ve seen teens in other families who continually drain their parents’ bank account, acting like spoiled rotten brats, whose parents “owe” them the latest cell phone, Ipad, Jessica Simpson shoes, or new cars.

Sure, Leah enjoys it when we buy her things, and she is thankful for them, but she doesn’t demand them, whine for them, or gripe when we don’t.

Leah - field trip with Ray

Because she is content. What a beautiful place to be.

What about you? Are you content?

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4: 11-13, NLT

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Making room for FUN in your homeschool: Resources

This year has been so busy that I haven’t posted much here, and I apologize. Too busy. I’ve had to slow down and pull back, praying and asking God what to do.

I just resigned this week from a position as blog editor that I’ve had since June of last year, editing articles and blogs and posting them on a WordPress website, because my schedule is too full and I wanted to spend more time with Leah in the next several months before she graduates from our homeschool.

I don’t want to live with the regret that I was “too busy” during Leah’s last year of homeschooling! For too many years, I was just too busy and I’ve had to repent to God for that.

Now I’m planning fun field trips and short road trips with Leah to make good, sweet memories this final year. The thought of her graduation brings tears to my eyes. I want to encourage and exhort you again to make sure that you are spending sufficient time with your child. Live a life of no regrets.

One website I recommend to you which focuses on interest-led learning, and includes great ideas for field trips and traveling, is my friend Christina Pilkington. While our homeschool method hasn’t been “unschooling” like hers, I believe Christina has some wonderful, creative ideas to implement in your homeschool.

Another homeschooling mom I love and who is one of my dearest friends is Kimberly Ehlers. Kimberly’s website is not about homeschooling per se, but she does share some tips if you homeschool and your child has serious or chronic illness. Kim also encourages you to have that close relationship with your child, putting God and family above anything else. (While there, be sure to check out Kimberly’s wonderful products! You will love them!)

You will also love my friend Susan Evan’s blog about hands-on learning in your homeschool.

Be sure to make room for FUN in your homeschool day.

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Our field trip to Kemper Contemporary Art Museum

This week has been fun with a couple of field trips with Leah to the Arabia Steamboat Museum and the Kemper Contemporary Art Museum, both located in Kansas City.

The Arabia was a steamboat which hit an oak tree snag in the Missouri River on September 5, 1856, and sank into the mud. Years later, it was rediscovered by a team of researchers and thousands of items were recovered intact and are now displayed in the museum. The colored glass bottles were the most beautiful items, and I loved the ink wells and writing pens!

At the Kemper Museum, we saw several exhibits which made you wonder: “Why do they call this art?”

For example, I told Leah, who is an incredible artist (all mother’s prejudice aside), that she could EASILY paint this and make loads of money like the artist who painted this one probably did.

A red dot – can you BELIEVE it?

There was also this one, a painting of a man’s head, a butterfly, and a chicken inside of an aquarium filled with water.

I teased Leah that she could also try cutting out colored construction paper shapes and throwing them on a wall, like in this exhibit below. It is called Young Girl Dreaming. I took a pic of it to remind Leah to always keep dreaming – God wants to make her dreams – and yours! – come true!

Leah could also attempt something a little more challenging, such as painting a foreign language and numbers all over the body of a woman, like this one below. Interesting.

The woman’s feet were also intriguing. It looked as if they were covered in mud and blood:

Another painting which was incredible was this oil painting of a woman, which looked more like a photograph. I was amazed at the details to the woman’s mouth, teeth, nose, eyes, eyebrows, ears, and fingers. She looks as if she is made of water. I have the utmost respect for an artist with this kind of talent.

This oil painting of an African American man looked SO real, especially his eyes. A little disconcerting, it felt like he was staring straight at you. Notice the details of his hair, facial features, the clouds in the sky behind him.

Leah’s favorite was of a tree with intense blue colors. The picture doesn’t do it justice – the blue color was SO vibrant. It was beautiful, heavenly.

Of course, my favorite was of a writer. The picture also has my favorite type of dog in it, a white husky, and in the forefront you can see pottery – a blue and white ceramic vase.

Notice how intently the woman is writing, despite everything around her! Love it!

Here Leah is staring at an art exhibit across the room. I think it was the picture of the dog (she loves animals).

The dog picture is just a photograph of a labrador in a dark room. It looks like he’s balancing a blue object on his nose, but it’s just the perspective. This one was called “Parallelogram.” I wonder how much this one brought in for the artist? :O

Really, I am so intrigued by art, because the best I can do drawing is stick figures. I often send long letters to my sister Maria in Georgia, with cartoons of stick figures. (We are both easily entertained.) I’m also fascinated by photography, especially black and white pictures like this one below, of a woman in a hat and coat on the street by a jalopy:

This black and white picture below was also well-done, with a picture of the spray of water in slow motion, hiding the woman’s face. This piece was entitled, “Spit.”

One of the places on my bucket list to visit is New York. A friend of mine who lived in New York laughed when I told her I wanted to go to New York just to see the tall skyscrapers, shop, and buy a hot dog and big pretzel from one of those street vendor carts. Just sayin’! (I also have a HUGE, ridiculous desire to ride a street car in San Francisco!) Here is a beautiful pic of the streets of New York, the city lit up at night in the rain.

For those who desire more color, here’s something very PINK for you:

You can see a man and some cows in this pink picture. The man is on the lower, left-hand side right by the blue water and the cows are in the upper, right-hand corner.

Maybe you are more into birds. This exhibit by Petah Coyne, which is Untitled, uses taxidermy peacocks and taxidermy pheasants. The black “balls” you see on the floor are made of ropes. Other ingredients were: black sand from pig iron casting, Acrylex 234, black paint, cement, chicken wire fencing, wood, gravel, sisal, staging rope, cotton rope, insulated foam sealant, pipe, epoxy, threaded rod, wire, screws, jaw-to-jaw swivels. Sounds like a lot of work for an exhibit!

Our daughter Eden has her own cupcake business, so I thought she’d enjoy this cute, creative painting:

I took this picture below for my mother-in-law, Judy, who loves Elvis.

After we finished touring the museum, we went into the cafe where there was an exhibit of a horse, made from driftwood or tree branches…unique!

One thing I loved about this museum was the word paintings on the walls with creative slogans. This one was my favorite, and the one I want to leave you with today.

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Leah’s senior pictures

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I apologize – just the busyness of homeschooling, cleaning the house, groceries, a new job over the summer editing articles and posting them on the website for the CEO of an organization – an opportunity which fell into my lap, unsolicited by me, in June this year (and for which I’m thankful!).

But this is Leah’s last year of homeschooling (unless we decide to teach her college-level courses, too, which is a possibility), and I want to be sure to keep her homeschooling as my priority and not miss out on any part of her life. She has grown up so fast. In fact, when Heather took her senior pictures recently and emailed them to me, I cried. How could she already be a senior? Where have the years gone? Don’t let them pass you by!

Our daughter Heather did so good taking Leah’s senior pics (she had a beautiful model to work with!) that it’s hard choosing just one. Here are just a few samples of the pics. Which is your favorite? Please leave your comments below.

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill

Leah - Louisburg cider mill - by barn

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community by the "L"

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill - by pumpkins

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community - on rock

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community - by roses

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill - by tree

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community - smelling roses

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill - leaves

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill - trees

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community - rock

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill- closeup

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When things are hectic homeschooling this year – Selah. Take a pause.

Some homeschoolers “school” all year round, some parents closely follow the public school’s schedule and take a break during the summer months, and other homeschoolers take a break every few months – whenever they want.

We usually begin our homeschool in August or September, and then take breaks during holidays or whenever we’d like as a family. If we feel like going on a field trip somewhere fun, like Savanahland or Union Station in Kansas City like Leah and I did earlier this year, we do!

We will start homeschooling again next week – this time for her senior year of high school! Thinking about that really freaks me out! How did she get this age so fast?

School supplies

Tonight we bought school supplies. There is something about buying school supplies that still excites ME…the promise of a brand new beginning and a learning adventure!

I love the brightly-colored, polka-dot binders, the smell of new crayons, no. 2 pencils freshly sharpened, new black Sharpie pens that write so crisply across a clean, white page, and especially new books to read! I’m not so sure that Leah shares my excitement about school supplies; she was more interested tonight in buying a new purse, wallet, or sunglasses.

Today I received a homeschooling ezine and one of the articles it contained was so amusing,The Homeschooler’s Back to School List. You can read it by clicking here.

In this article, I especially loved these ideas: the bags of chocolate M & M’s just for mom on those days when using M & M’s as motivators don’t work, a copy of the latest homeschool convention on audio including the workshop, Getting It All Accomplished and Keeping Your Sanity, and the spa gift certificates for mom for those hectic days when mom is ready to pull out her hair and scream, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!”

Yes, we do have those long, you’re-getting-on-my-last nerve days as homeschool moms. Days when we say to our husband or sister,”Ok, tell me again, why exactly am I doing this? I could be at Starbucks with a friend!” or “Have I completely ruined my child’s life by homeschooling her (him)?”

But dear friend, it passes so quickly…oh, so quickly! Be sure to slow down this year. Take a pause – Selah, which is an expression in the Bible that occurs 71 times in the Psalms and 3 times in the book of Habakkuk. Its meaning and purpose was obscure, but it might have been a musical notation signifying the end of a phrase, or meant a dramatic pause.

When things are becoming hectic or overwhelming this year, think Selah. Slow down. Breathe. Remember this too shall pass – in the blink of an eye. Savor the moment, yes even those moments when your child is balking at math problems or at having to write an essay, or YOU as the teacher are balking at the math.

Hold the moments so close in your heart, because this moment won’t pass your way again. Your child will grow up and you’ll face an empty nest; homeschooling will come to an end one day. Enjoy your child this year; have lots of fun!

Family Pic of our 3 beautiful daughters and 2 of our grandkids

From left to right: our middle daughter Eden (now living on her own – her son Jacob isn’t in this pic), Kyle’s and our oldest daughter Heather’s girls Annabelle & Violet, our oldest daughter Heather (married, on her own, with the 2 girls), and our youngest daughter Leah, who’s still living at home, homeschooling her senior year this year.

 

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Slow down and enjoy your children and homeschooling!

Leah and her stuffed wolf from the zoo

It’s back to school time for most public and private school children, and many homeschoolers as well.

Last year we took off some extra days for holidays and other events, so Leah’s homeschooling went through some of this summer. Right now she is still on “summer break.”

We will start her homeschooling about the second week of September – her senior year this September 2011. Senior. I can hardly believe it. Where did all those years go?

Blink of an eye doesn’t even describe it. When I now walk through Walmart, CVS, and other stores that sell those brightly colored school supplies, I feel sadness. Leah is our youngest child, and we have always homeschooled her. I can’t imagine NOT homeschooling!

We began homeschooling our oldest daughter Heather when she was in 10th grade and she graduated from our homeschool in 2000, then went on to Youth With A  Mission (YWAM), graduating from missionary training after going on two international missions trips.  She then met and married her husband Kyle and had two beautiful little girls (Annabelle and Violet), and is now a full-time teacher at a preschool.

Our middle daughter Eden is also grown and on her own, and she has an adorable little boy, Jacob. Heather and Eden  have “flown the nest,”  and it won’t be long until Leah does, too.  The thought that, after this year, I will never again buy school supplies makes my heart ache.

Yes, it’s our goal as parents to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and ready them for adulthood, so they will be able to leave. We don’t want 30 and 40 year old children living at home, still depending on dad and mom!  Of course, Leah is only 16 years old, so it’s not like she’s moving out of our house tomorrow.

But the years have been too short and she will leave soon enough…then no more Bible reading, copywork, reading Anne of Green Gables and Tom Sawyer. No more messy finger painting or learning ABC’s by drawing the letters in rice or flour since Leah was a hands-on learner (those were the days of fun!).

No more field trips to the zoo, the art museum, or – the worse in our kids’ minds, history museums, where we would often hear them whine, ‘This is boring!” and “Can we go get something to eat? I’m hungry and thirsty!”

Did I ever stop long enough to just praise God for this privilege of home education and to enjoy our children’s presence? Or was I too busy “doing school at home,” telling them to “finish your math problems,” and on some days assigning them to read out of dull textbooks when I was tired or stressed out and should have been implementing instead Charlotte Mason‘s life-producing style of learning?

In the office closet, I have plastic tubs of sample book after sample book of their school work through the years. Is this all I have left now  of their homeschooling – albums with copywork, math sheets, painted horses and flowers?

Didn’t I realize one day I would not be able to do this ever again, that it would come to an end one day? Did I truly appreciate being able to homeschool?

Homeschooling hasn’t been perfect. It’s had many challenges. There were days I would feel exhausted, frustrated, inadequate, and just wanted to quit and send our kids to Christian school. But there were also other days – those making a memory days.

Days where we would admire together a rainbow in the sky, a red male cardinal in the tree outside our kitchen window, a bunny rabbit hopping on the lawn, the first sign of a spring flower or the first winter snowflake.

Days when we would make home-made hot chocolate or chocolate chip cookies, and curl up on the couch to watch a funny movie or read a good book aloud. The time when we went on a nature walk at Powell Garden and came home with a  praying mantis for the kids to keep as their new pet.

The time when Leah began reading smoothly after I had been working with her on phonics from Teach Your Children to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

The days when we would decide to just take off in the car, go shopping, and stop for lunch and an ice cream cone just because we could. We felt sorry for the kids at school who couldn’t do this!

Days when we would discover a nugget of gold in God’s word, and the kids would ask me, their “teacher,” questions – learning about their God and their Maker in a way they probably never would have been able to, had they not been homeschooled.

Days when we would read a good book together and laugh at the characters together, or hear the beauty of Mozart on a CD. The time Heather and I read Elisabeth Elliott’s book Through Gates Of Splendor about her husband Jim’s and his friends being speared to death when they were trying to minister Christ’s love to the Auca Indians in Ecuador, and us both bawling hard…and yet through that book, God spoke to Heather’s heart to be a missionary.

The years have been lightning fast and I can’t get them back ever again to do anything different, to appreciate our kids being kids and just enjoying their beautiful faces, their smiles, their play….even if that play meant mud on the carpet or fingerprints on the wall.

Today as I reflect back over the years, despite the challenges and frustrating moments, I am so thankful for being able to homeschool. This year, as we set out to complete Leah’s final senior year, I pray that I will remember the years are so fast and to just slow down and enjoy being and learning with her.

To smile and laugh together, to bake delicious goodies, to admire the beauty of a sunset and the moon and stars that display God’s glory, to go to the zoo and enjoy God’s magnificent creations, to enjoy science experiments and nature walks, to read and learn from good living books.

My prayer: “Lord God, remind me on those days this year when I am “too busy” working on the computer for my home business to really pay close attention to what my child is saying or even to her school lessons, when I would be quick to sigh and feel frustrated over something trivial, when I would think this day will never be over….because it will all too soon and I’ll never have these wonderful days again. “

This too shall pass. Remember your children  – and homeschooling – are precious gifts from God. Thank and praise Him today.

***Did you enjoy this post? You can read more about our homeschool experience in my free ebook, The Call Of Wisdom: Teaching Our Children At Home. Just sign up for my ezine with your name and email address at the top of the page on the right hand side to immediately download it.

You will also receive occasional, short ezines from me with encouraging homeschool tips, articles, audios and more! (Be sure to add my email address elizabethdjones@gmail.com to your contacts list, so it won’t go into your spam folder.)

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