January 30, 2014

leading children to Jesus

I wrote this for another blog I've been writing for, and wanted to share it here also. :)

I grew up not knowing who Jesus was.
In my home, “Jesus Christ” was a term for when you were upset or angry. It was a step down from swearing, but gave the same message.
In my home, there was frequent mention of God. Not in a reverent, prayerful, calling out to Jesus kind of way. “Oh my God,” was something we said about everything. I never even thought about what it meant until I met God for the first time.
I was still a child at 18. Immature, lost, and fully in the world in every way an 18-year old could be. I looked to fill the hole in my heart with alcohol, sex, and worldly experiences. It was then, when the world would have said I was the most lost, that I was found.
Jesus picked me up gently out of the mess I called my life and set me down on the Rock.
Today, I am a Christian missionary serving in South America with my husband and two children. I strive daily to give my son and daughter opportunities to know Jesus. Having no idea what that really looks like in childhood, I can assure you we’re a work in progress. And that’s OK.
If you, like me, didn’t grow up in a Christian family and lack an example, or if you just need some ideas on how you can help your child cultivate their own relationship with Jesus, here are seven ideas for you. Every family is different. Whether you’re able to use one idea or all seven, remember to do what works for you and don’t be afraid to try new things.

7 Ways to Lead Your Child to Jesus:

Be their example. Model behavior you want to see in them. Easy enough, right? Try your hardest, get what resources you need, and pray, pray, pray. Chose your battles wisely. It’s not always important to be right, it’s important to be like Jesus. Involve the whole family by having morning – and if possible, evening – worship. It’s OK to keep it simple, especially if you have young children.
Need ideas for family worship?
My Bible First
Kids of Integrity
Encourage personal devotion time everyday. Make sure they have their own age appropriate Bible. Until they can read on their own, try to read to them from their Bible once or twice a day. Teach them to have Jesus time. Make it special by sitting in a special chair, make a Jesus time spot, or try to incorporate something meaningful to them. Once they can read, let them. And talk to them about what they read as often as you’re able to. If they are old enough, encourage them to journal about what they read, what it means to them, and what they think Jesus might be saying to them through His Word. Try to have Jesus time routinely and consistently as best you can.
Need ideas on what kids can do on their own?
Beginner’s Bible
Sabbath Kids
Be on the lookout for object lessons. Look for ways to make Jesus real and relevant to them. Pray for Jesus to show you object lessons. Read Christ’s Object Lessons for ideas of where to look for Jesus around you. Let these lessons come up in conversation naturally. Let your child make the connections to Jesus through your gentle leading.
Need more ideas?
Print out this list of things to on Sabbath
Get Christ’s Object Lessons here or get it free on your Android or iPhone
Reach out. Teach your child that Jesus is at work all around them. Take them on mission trips. Feed the homeless. Serve at the soup kitchen. Let them see the hard things in life and let them ask questions. Let them see the results of sin, and the triumphs of Jesus.
Need more ideas?
Google opportunities in your area
Get real. Be real and honest with your child in all areas of life. Of course this will look different for different ages, but let your child see that you struggle too. That you need forgiveness too. Share your testimony with them. Ask them for pray for you in certain areas. Don’t hide your problems – don’t burden your child by just telling them all your problems and not offering more – teach them that our struggles are our offerings to Jesus.
Keep track of Jesus. Write down prayer requests and leave room to write down the answers as they are given. Make this part of your family worship. Teach them both to rely on God for their needs, and to be reminded when He does. This is a great way to help your child through a tough situation, “Remember that time when we prayed about ___ and Jesus answered by ___?”
Need more ideas?
See how to make a prayer journal here
Pray, pray, pray. Don’t stop praying. Jesus is with you, Mama. Stay connected to Him. If you do your part, He’ll do His. Keep in mind that you can’t make the decision for your children to live for Jesus or not. They will have to do that one on their own. And even if they chose another path, keep hope, Mama. Pray all the more. It’s not over till it’s over.

What are things your family does to help your children cultivate a relationship with Jesus?
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January 29, 2014

I feel like I have my life together...

I feel like I have my life together when my first teeth brushing is before noon.

I feel like I have my life together when my clothes come off a hanger rather than from the pile of needs-to-be-folded-and-put-away in the basket.

I feel like I have my life together when my kitchen counters and sink are clean.

I feel like I have my life together when I make it to the supermarket with both my money and my shopping list.

I feel like I have my life together when the house is picked up and the floors are swept.

I feel like I have my life together when it seems like my children are actually listening to what I tell them.

I feel like I have my life together when I manage to get all the laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away before the next load is ready to start.

What makes you feel like you have your life together? Sometimes, it's the small things that make a big difference. :)
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January 28, 2014

postcard tuesday

It's Postcard Tuesday again!

Something I'm doing just for fun and to keep me accountable for writing to the outside world. :)

Here's how it works:
1. I ask a question
2. You answer the question (leave your answer in a comment)
3. I randomly select 3 commenters and write you a postcard!

It's as easy as that! Because who doesn't love getting fun mail? :)

I'm wondering if I should say who the 3 postcard recipients are each week, or is it more fun to be surprised???
Last weeks postcards went to:
Cindy B.
Tammy A.
Patti I.
Be watching your mailbox, friends!

Question of the week:
What are your top 3 go-to meals to make at home?
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January 24, 2014

what life is like

What is it like, you ask, to live in a 3rd world country with 2 small children? 

It's nice, sometimes.

It's hard, often.

It's worth it, always.

Our home is a typical local-style house. It's a second-story home on stilts with an open bottom. The stilts are concrete and the rest is made from wood. All the windows and the sliding glass door have metal grates on them for security. There is one larger room, the front room with a kitchen on one end. Off the front room are 3 small bedrooms. Amelia and Samuel each sleep in separate rooms unless we have company, then they sleep in one room together. Off the kitchen is a bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower. The washing machine is in the kitchen and doubles as counter space most of the time. 

We sleep on a queen bed with a foam (which we have upgraded to a thicker, more comfortable 6" foam - yay!) and a bug net. Amelia and Samuel both have little zip-up tents they sleep in. 

We have a nice faux-leather sofa set and a kitchen table with 4 chairs - just the right size for our family. Our home is simple but comfortable and most days clean. 

Our food here is simple, nearly everything is made from scratch. With few exceptions, all of what we buy are ingredients rather than ready-made, instant food (I'm not above keeping mac and cheese in the cupboard for emergencies!). 

One difference from life in the US is how we travel. Todd often takes the bus to travel around. The bus is $80 per trip - about 40 cents US. Since I have the children with me, I call a taxi for rides, which are $400-500 per trip, US $2-2.50. If we end up in town long term we would like to get a car of our own. 

The things we miss the most are probably stable electricity, our own car, and our favorite comfort foods. Of course all that is second to missing friends and family. 

And that's a little more about life as missionaries in Guyana. 
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January 23, 2014

all the things I never knew

1. I never knew I could sweat like a man.

2. Before moving to Guyana, I never knew I could make bread, tortillas, and a plethora of other items I had depended on my local Safeway for in the US.

3. Before moving to Guyana, I never knew I could be as organized as I am in such a small space.

4. It's surprising, things that I thought would be horrible don't even phase me. Bat flying in the house? Eh, he'll leave soon enough. Frogs in the cupboard? Annoying, but whatever. Unidentified insects the size of a small bird? Hey, cool.

5. I'll be honest though, I still scream and jump on the nearest object/person/animal if a cockroach runs at me.

6. Living for months without electricity, internet, and phone? No problem, I just hope my friends and family haven't forgot about me.

Some of the things I thought would be easy aren't easy at all though.

7. Getting into a good, daily homeschool routine, adding a puppy to our family, and spending time outside were all things I thought would be easy and natural. As it turns out, those are all areas I struggle with.

8. I never knew how much I would love and appreciate getting little notes, in my email, on my Facebook, and especially in my actual mailbox. I will never take these bits of love and encouragement for granted. Even if I don't respond to each of them (which I should and I'm working on), each bit means so much to me.

It's certainly been a journey and I'm learning so much about myself, the world, and God.

Would you like to visit Guyana? Why or why not?
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January 22, 2014

there's no sleep in guyana

You guys. Oh my goodness.

I went to bed early last night. Early as in, with Amelia at 7:30. I was SO tired my body hurt. 

But I couldn't sleep. 

The dogs. Oh, the dogs. We've got a heard of about 8 dogs that live on our street. Sickly, unwanted, mangy stray mutts. They're the worst dogs too. They snap at bikers and pedestrians. They case cars. They bark. Sometimes ALL NIGHT LONG. And it's not distant barking either, they congregate at the house directly across the street from mine. And the stray dogs sit and bark at the gated dogs. And so the gated dogs bark at the stray dogs. 

I can't tell you how much sleep I've lost because of these mangy mutts.

Last night, they really had a lot to bark about, apparently. 

They barked until 2 am. 

And I'm a super light sleeper. I always have been, and I don't know how not to be a light sleeper. 

So finally all if quiet. For about an hour. 

And then, I bet you can't guess what I heard at THREE AM. 

My drunk/high/wasted next door neighbor got on some sort of loudspeaker (they've had a karaoke machine in the past, perhaps that's what it was) and imparted his drunken wisdom to the neighborhood. 

I caught random words such as, "journey," "ok, man," and "yes, yes, yes." With this monotone ha-ha-ha laughter interspersed though out. 

It went on for an hour.  He turned on music too. 

Neighbors from the closest houses came out and yelled at the man. You could hear a choir of, "SHUT UP!" ringing out.

They gave up after about 45 minutes of yelling. 

After an hour he put the microphone down and continued his ranting/monologue/diatribe/whatever on the porch. When he had an especially important point, he'd pick up the microphone and yell what sounded like gibberish into it. 

I finally fell asleep around 5 am. 

My dear, sweet children work up an hour later. It was all I could do to reach over and whack my husband and grunt at him. He had been awakened by the neighbor and I knew he lost sleep last night too. 

But bless his heart. That man got up and quieted the children and let me sleep. 

I don't know what I would have done without those blessed 3 1/2 hours of sleep. Or my chai tea. 

So this morning I want to know:
What are your sure-fire ways to get to sleep on nights you struggle to fall asleep?

PS: It would be wrong of me to hook my classical music up to our speakers and point them at this house, right? Yeah, I probably shouldn't do that...
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next five

The next five on my never-ending to-do list:

  1. Meal plan, make a shopping list, and shop.
  2. Empty and organize the barrels. Try to get rid of stuff.
  3. Try to organize and figure out storage solutions for the bedroom.
  4. Plan out goals for homeschool.
  5. Work on summer schedule/housing. 
Someday I'll feel like I'm on top of everything, won't I? :D Just another day in the life. 

What ideas do you have for storage when Ikea/Target are a long ways away and shelving is slow in coming? 
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January 21, 2014

the first postcard tuesday!

I'm so excited about this! It's Postcard Tuesday!

From now on, every Tuesday 3 people who comment on the Postcard Tuesday post will get a postcard from Guyana! Who doesn't love getting mail? :)

 It's as easy as this:
1. I ask a question
2. You answer it! (Leave your answer in the comments)

Recipients will be chosen at random. This is the perfect match for anyone who loves getting mail - I love to send mail! 

So, the question of the week: 
What are three things you would never leave behind when packing for a trip? 

I can't wait to hear the answers! 

PS: Only answers submitted on Tuesday by midnight will be entered for Postcards. :)
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January 20, 2014

an announcement


At Home With Millie and Sam now has its very own Facebook page! Isn't that exciting? :)

When you "like" our page you will have front-line access to all the excitement here in Guyana and be able to enter my newest weekly thing - Postcard Tuesday! Every Tuesday 5 people will be chosen to receive  a postcard from Guyana. Because getting mail is fun! :)

Come over and "like" us now!

At Home With Millie and Sam Facebook Page
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January 19, 2014

journey 2014: mid-January update

After spending most of the day in bed, I'm feeling restless. 

Look on Pinterest: [check]
Up-to-date with Facebook [check]
Find new stuff for school this week [check]
Watch a movie on Nefflix [che- note to self, cancel Netflix. Internet too slow.]
Drank husband's "mystery tea": [   ]
Do today's doodle journal: [check]

The only thing left to do is to get some work done. 

I've been blogging over here for almost 2 months now. I'm enjoying it, but find myself wracking my brain for clever ideas. Note to self - be more clever.

We over in no-man's land are sick. Some are more sick than others. The worst our family can complain about are nasty head cold/sinus gunk. The other missionary family here is down with what has been diagnosed as typhoid but isn't acting like typhoid. 

Things here (other than being sick) have been going well. 

I've been thinking a lot about my goal feelings for this year (content, loving, healthy, joyful alive), but I haven't made any real proactive choices to actually get there. I'm going to start setting specific monthly goals to help me reach my ultimate goal of being happy with life again. 

If you missed my first post about this goal, you can read about it here

So later this week when I'm feeling better, I'll be writing about ways to help me meet my goals. 

For now, here is our belated Christmas card with you all:

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January 6, 2014

a day in the life

What is it like, you ask, to live in a 3rd world country with 2 small children? 

It's nice, sometimes.

It's hard, often.

It's worth it, always.

Our days begin with little birds chirping or little children chirping. Whichever wakes up first. We get up, change out of diapers (oh how happy we will be when the children are night trained) and put on undies. Except for those of us already in undies. 

Breakfast is usually simple. Anything from homemade granola, pancakes, oatmeal or sometimes eggs and potatoes or biscuits and gravy. Everything is from scratch except for the mornings Cheerios are on the table. Bless those Cheerios. After breakfast, it's dishes (when I'm on top of things, otherwise this item happens after lunch), laundry (we are blessed with a washing machine and hang our clothes under the house), filling our 450-gallon water barrel, clean up toys, do the morning house sweep, shower and dress, and start bread. 

About this time, Todd gets ready to sojourn out to the airport to continue the maintenance and inspection he's doing on the plane, or goes into town for any business that needs to be done. 

I spend some time getting ready for preschool, planning out any crafts, table work, games, etc. that we might want to do that day that's not already planned. Around 9:00 Joy, the other pilot's wife comes, with her 2 girls and we start school. 

I thought I would homeschool because I'm a missionary wife and by golly that's what missionary wives are supposed to do. But it's kinda neat, it's almost a ministry in itself. I like that. 

We start with floor time, we sing, pray, look at the calendar and weather, and have a Bible story. Then we might do something special like play ABC bingo, or some other activity. Then we divide and conquer. Joy works with the older ones (her oldest and Amelia) on their lessons and I take the younger two. 

When lessons are done, we eat lunch together and then say goodbye to the girls. Then it's nap time for Samuel and Amelia and quiet time for Mama. I have my devotion time, do the dishes, the afternoon sweep and any other cleaning that needs to be done, prepare for school the next day, and begin supper. 

After the kids are up, we have play time and reading time. The kids play outside when it's not raining too hard (it's rainy season right now). 

Todd gets home around 6 most days and we eat supper shortly after. Anything from burritos on homemade tortillas, pumpkin curry on rice, to homemade pizza.

After supper is family time, bath time, worship time, and finally, bedtime for the small people. After they're down, Todd and I finish work we're doing, clean up, play games or simply sit and talk together. 

Our days don't seem too different from days in the US, only here we loose power for a few minutes to a few hours most days. Sometimes it's brief and other days it's off all day from morning until into the night.

And that's a day in the life of missionaries in Guyana. 
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January 3, 2014

journey2014: week one

Sometimes I feel like an empty shell.

That's a lie.

Often I feel like an empty shell.

I do what is required of me. I do it well, most of the time.

I wash the necessary 1 or 2 loads of laundry per day. Hang them on the line. Get them off the line the same day if I'm on top of my game. I try to keep the dishes washed, the floors cleaned up, and the toys in their proper bins. My family eats the mostly healthy food I cook, from scratch, and my children are usually clean and dressed (when they're not naked and dirty).

I'm a shell on auto pilot.

Wake up. Make breakfast. Take a shower. Prepare for school. Teach the children. Blah blah blah. Make sure to look really happy doing it all.

Look happy...

But really, it feels like its gone. I had it at one point, but now I can't seem to find it.

Where's my joy?

Where is my glad heart and my content spirit and my rested soul?

Well, I'm not sure where it went, but I'll tell you this - I aim to find it.

I've really been impressed that the Lord is trying to speak to me in 2 area of my life. The first, and the one I tend to focus on more, is my parenting. My yelling. My impatience. In fact, sometimes I can almost hear Jesus whispering in my ear, gently admonishing me, "Gentle, Mama. These are my children you're talking to like that. Be kind to them." And I realize if I ever heard anyone talk to my children the way I was talking to them I would likely take them out.

Yet the harshness is coming from me. This is a really hard confession.

Gentle, Mama. Gentle.

So, I'm going to take ME out. Well, at least that part of me. With support from my friends and awesome blogs like the Orange RhinoParenting Beyond Punishment, Aha! Parenting, and this amazing book I'm reading. I'm finding support, inspiration, and tools to achieve my goal. It's not perfection. No, if I aimed for perfection I would only fail and feel worse. My goal is to be kind and gentle as a mama. I want to be kind and loving and patient with my children. If I'm successful, I hope to see this love pour over into other areas of my life also. But my children must be the first to see change.

The second area I feel the Lord speaking to me about is to fill this empty shell I've become. He wants me to fill it with joy and happiness. My friend shared this article with me, and I just went on one of my favorite blogs and found this little gem. The theme of feeling words keeps popping up.


Feeling words.

Content. Loving. Healthy. Joyful. Alive.

I've never been a "New Year's resolution" kind of girl, but maybe I can be a theme-for-my-life kind of gal. I won't know unless I try.

Content. Loving. Healthy. Joyful. Alive.

These are my words, my themes, for 2014. These are the feelings I want to have. This is what I want I'm choosing to fill me up.

Over the next 362 days I want to figure out why I'm not feeling these things, what I can do to change whatever is preventing them, and to feel them in abundance. If my mission is successful, the words to describe me this time next year will be content, loving, healthy, joyful, and alive.

Heaven help me.
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teach preschool for free

Some of my friends have commented on my photos asking where I got something really cool we were working on.

I have a HUGE file on my computer of stuff I've gleaned online for free. People are often so impressed with what we're able to do with very limited resources, but honestly, it's only because there are so many awesome people out there willing to share their great things for free.

So to my friends asking where I get my awesome stuff and ideas, here is a list of my favorite 25 blogs and websites in no particular order:

1. Plan Ahead Parent
2. The Measured Mom
3. Living Montessori Now
4. Teach Preschool 
5. 3 Dinosaurs
6. 1+1+1=1
7. Happy and Blessed Home
8. Over the Big Moon
9. 2 Teaching Mommies
10. Homeschool Creations
11. In Lieu of Preschool
12. The Wise Owl Factory
13. Made by Joel
14. Easy Peasy All-in-One Homechool
15. Teachers pay Teachers
16. Trillium Montessori Blog
17. Beginner's Bible
18. Kids Activities
19. Free Homeschool Deals
20. This Reading Mama
21. Kids of Integrity
22. Music 4 Little Learners
23. Ministry to Children
24. TLS Books
25. I Can Teach my Child

Of course Pinterest is also an excellent place to find virtually anything!

So there you have it. Endless resources. This is a list of only 25, there are hundreds more out there! As a missionary I don't have any extra money to spend on school materials, and I've found that with a little time, planning, and organizing, it's super easy to put together a learning program for my kids for free. :)

Enjoy the list, friends!

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