Saturday, May 30, 2009

Buckle Your Seatbelt!

I dropped Sarah off at the airport this afternoon to begin her African adventure! She will be spending the next 4 weeks volunteering at a small school called Kechene School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The 80 students at this school are between the ages of 5 and 11, and are destitute, many of them orphans. She will be living at Cherokee House with several other volunteers, all working in various capacities in the city - education, orphan care, health care, community development, etc.

I have been a little bit nervous about her traveling to Africa alone, and traveling around a strange city in an impoverished 4th world country.

But God has shown himself to us in the details....

First of all, Sarah raised all the funds she needed, plus some, just by sending out letters to family and friends. Didn't the economy just tank these past 6-8 months? I did not believe that she would be able to raise over $3000 in only 4 months this way - but she did.

Second, there was the fact that Sarah still needed to EARN some money this summer to help pay for her senior year of college! Being out of the country for the month of June made approaching potential employers a bit difficult. But then friends who have their own business offered to hire her to help sort and organize files in their office this summer - with a flexible schedule that would accomodate time off whenever she needed it!

So she has been shopping and organizing and packing this past week or so, getting ready to leave on May 31st. She was given some money to buy things for the school, so she was saving that for last, once she could see how much space she had left, since the airline only allows her to check two bags, up to 50 lbs each. Yesterday afternoon she was sitting here in the kitchen with her friend Bekah, getting ready to go to WalMart, when my friend, Sabrina called. Sabrina is the travel agent who booked Sarah's tickets for her ( and got her a GREAT price, by the way!) Sabrina said she was just checking on something Sarah needed for her flight " tomorrow".
Tomorrow? Sarah and I looked at each other, Sarah ran to her room and grabbed her ticket - - - and lo and behold, her departure date was not the 31st, but the 30th!!!! How in the world we got that wrong, I don't know! But I do know that if Sabrina hadn't called, we would have been at the airport a day late!

So I dropped her off this afternoon and watched her make her way through the security maze at the airport. Her checked baggage squeaked in under the weight limit... whew! The first leg of her journey took her to Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, where she had a layover of several hours. Sarah is excited, but was a little nervous about traveling alone and arriving in Addis Ababa, just praying that the promised person from Cherokee House will be there to meet her. I told her to strike up some conversations with other travelers at the gate - couples going to adopt, other young people heading over to do humanitarian work.
Then she could at least ask these new friends for help if she ended up stranded at the other end. Well, by another great "coincidence", Sarah got to the departure gate at Dulles and found out that two girls she had been facebooking who were also going to be living at Cherokee House were booked on the same flight. These two were supposed to leave for Africa last Wednesday, but got bumped from their flight and rescheduled for Monday. Well, they decided to just go to the airport this morning and see if they could get on an earlier flight, and they happened to get seats on Sarah's flight!!! So now she has traveling companions!

Do you see a coincidence here... or DO YOU SEE GOD? One thing I have learned from hanging around my friend Eileen is to see God in the details.
I see God showing my daughter that He has indeed called her to this journey. I am so amazed that He would even reassure a nervous mother, letting me know that He has everything under control.

I'll be posting updates on Sarah's blog as she sends them to me.

Another thing I've learned from Eileen is that
not only does God continually show himself all around us, but He wants us to TELL OTHERS, that they might believe. So I am telling you.

Buckle up your seatbelt, folks. We are in for a wild ride!!!!

I'll be updating her blog as she sends me info, so follow along at

Alex Update

We hear from Alex every couple of weeks. He is very busy every day, and nights too.... he is a transportation officer and runs convoys of equipment and supplies to various posts in the area each night. Then it is back to base for a couple of hours sleep, then back to work again. He has expressed gratitude for the various cards, letters, and packages he has received, calling them a highlight of his day. Keep praying for his safety and health, for strength, for good friendships, and for his walk with the Lord. And of course, pray for peace.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day at the NC Zoo

Yesterday we went to the zoo with some friends. The NC Zoological Park is in Asheboro, about 2 hours from home. Well, it is 2 hours if you take the right road. When you and the driver are talking the whole way and don't notice that you are on the wrong road, it takes about 3 1/2 hours.

The forecast was for scattered showers and thunderstorms, but we risked it and were glad - there were a couple of brief showers, but mostly the day was partly sunny, warm, and rather muggy. There were 10 of us - Amanda, Jason, and me, and then my friend Eileen and her 6 kids - 15-y-o Ellie, 6 y-o twin boys, 4 y-o boy, and 2 y-o twin girls. We were quite a crew! The kids really enjoyed themselves - and did great with all the walking! The NC Zoo is HUGE, and we walked for miles, I'm sure. The animals are in natural habitats, but are easily viewed. There are also several "play spaces" scattered throughout the zoo, which made for a nice break for the kids from time to time.

Since we are homeschoolers, we got to visit for FREE. During the school year, you can call the zoo 2 weeks ahead and make a reservation as a homeschool, and one parent and all school-age children get free admission. Eileen did have to pay for her 3 pre-schoolers, but the other 4 of them got in for free, so it was a great deal!

There were a few school groups there on field trips. They were the wildest animals in the park, I think. The younger kids were fine - excited, but generally polite and friendly - and there were adults WITH them. But the middle school age kids were obnoxious! They were roaming the zoo in packs, without any adult supervision, which meant they were loud, silly, and sometimes downright rude. You know they wouldn't have behaved that way if their parents or teachers had been with them to hold them accountable. Grrr.

Snake Wrestling!
(don't worry ! it's not real



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Annual Homeschool Conference Weekend

This past weekend was the NCHE Homeschool Conference and Book Fair in Winston-Salem. Amanda and I went this year for the whole thing, Thurs. thru Sat., sharing a hotel room at the Marriott with another homeschool mom. It was more expensive for me to stay there than at the Days Inn where I had originally booked rooms, but the convenience of staying in the hotel attached to the convention center meant I didn't have to drive across town late at night, deal with parking, etc.
This was my 16th year attending the Conference ~ we started going the year before we started homeschooling, and it was one of the things that convinced my husband that this wasn't some weird, wacky, fringe-element thing I had dreamed up! Some years our whole family goes, some years just Mark & I go, and some years I go solo (or with one child). I love attending the workshops, always gleaning some encouragement or nugget of wisdom from the speakers. Over the years, I have enjoyed hearing people like Sally Clarkson, Gayle Graham, Debra Bell, Chris Davis, Voddie Baucham, Chris Klicka, Reb Bradley, Ken Ham, Mike Farris, Diana Waring, Marcia Somerville, Mark Hamby, and a host of others. This year I especially enjoyed John Stonestreet, of Summit Ministries, who gave a series of talks on Biblical Worldview. Also, there were a couple of workshops this year directed specifically towards support group leaders, so I made those a priority as well.

A friend asked me yesterday why I would go to a homeschool conference since I've been homeschooling for 15 years now. I view the Conference as part of my "professional training & development". A homeschool parent has an important "job", and should be a learner right along with her students! There is a lot of information out there that will help parents identify how their child learns best and also how they can improve their teaching. For the same reason we study history, we can see the workings of God and avoid the mistakes of others through the recounting of their experiences. And sometimes it just helps to be surrounded by hundreds - thousands - of people who think what you are doing is important and share a similar vision for family and education.

Proverbs 15:22 "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed."

The Book Fair seemed a little less crowded this year - I haven't seen the attendance figures yet, but I wonder if the economy kept some people home. It was kind of nice to have elbow room when walking through the vendor hall - but I doubt the vendors were as pleased.

Amanda found a couple of friends and spent the weekend going to the "Teen Track" workshops ( the Worldview speaker that I liked so much!) and also browsing the book fair. NCHE started last year hosting teen activities on Thursday and Friday nights, and those have been a HUGE success. Amanda went to the Cotillion dance class on Thurs. night, held in the HUGE Pavillion Ballroom, and it was packed! Last year the organizers were hoping they'd get 20-30 teens to come, and they got about 150. They probably doubled that this year. Friday night was the Talent Show followed by a Game Night, also in the Pavillion. Amanda skipped those to go to the East v. West All-Star Basketball Games, played at Piedmont College, just down the road. Mark coached the East All-Star Boys team, and our Lighthouse V.Girls coach, Denise, coached the East All-Star Girls. The games were exciting and the boys game came right down to final seconds, with the West winning by just 3 points.

All in all, it was a fun and informative weekend - and I didn't make much of a dent in my pocketbook at the Book Fair.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Homeschool Prom

I am not a big fan of the "we must do everything public schools do" mentality, but some things are just plain fun! For my girls, going to a prom is a chance to dress up and go to a fancy event with their friends! Amanda went to a Homeschool Prom with 3 of her friends on Friday night. The prom was organized by a group of parents and held at the Wendell Community Center. Everyone brought an appetizer and a bottle of soda for refreshments - kind of cheesy but kept the price down. There was a DJ and disco lights and a photographer and door prizes. The organizers had set forth rules about appropriate and modest dress, and also about appropriate dancing, and the music was clean. There were about 60 kids in attendance.

The girls went to Emily's house right after Co-op and spent the afternoon getting ready, doing each other's hair and makeup and getting dressed. Parents came over at 6:00 for photos, and then Eileen and I drove them to Wendell. We hung out at Applebees, eating and talking for 4 hours while we waited for the time to go back and pick them up. So that was good "girl time" for us too!

Now we are talking about planning a prom for next year that is a little more elegant/ extravagant! The girls want something at a ballroom with a catered meal, chocolate fountain, dancing.... so we are going to start checking into options and may be taking on another "project"....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

TOG Co-op Field Day

Our last TOG Co-op meeting of the school year was on Friday, and we had a Colonial Field Day to finish Year 2 Unit 4. The kids enjoyed games such as lawn bowling, croquet, bean bag toss, washers, and horseshoes, with the teens serving as helpers for the little ones. We had a room in the church set up with displays for the kids' work from this unit - poetry, display boards, reports, learning folders, etc. Everyone brought a lunch, as we do every Friday and one mom provided a delicious cake to celebrate the completion of a fun-filled year of Co-op! I think we are all happy for a summer break, but we are looking forward to the fall when we launch into the 1800s with TOG Year 3, and we add 4 more families to bring us up to 18 families.

Bean bag toss

horse shoes

nine pins


lawn bowling


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Homeschool Diploma

I don't know about other states, but here in NC, homeschools are considered "private schools" and therefore can issue their own diplomas. I have created a diploma that I have presented to my own three graduates, and have also provided for numerous other homeschool graduates in our support group. It is printed on 8 1/2" x 11", 32 lb ivory granite paper.
Send an email to if you would like information on obtaining one for your homeschool graduate.

Happy Mothers Day

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Truth Project

Mark & I attended the Regional Training event for The Truth Project this weekend, held at a church here in Raleigh. The Truth Project, produced by Focus on the Family, is a set of DVDs that takes the viewer on a comprehensive and systematic tour through the areas of philosophy, ethics, sociology, history, science - looking at life from a biblical perspective. I have done a lot of reading on biblical worldview over the past 10-12 years, but Mark hadn't read nearly as much. So this was a chance for the two of us to learn together, and be equipped to lead a small group through this DVD curriculum. Dr. Del Tackett led the training, and for someone who claimed to be a teacher and NOT a speaker... he was a tremendous speaker!

The word "worldview" refers to the set of beliefs or presuppositions by which a person understands or makes decisions about the world.
According to a recent Barna study, only 4% of Americans have a biblical worldview; worse than that, only 9% of professing born-again Christians look at the world with a biblical perspective. Barna's definition of a biblical worldview includes a belief that absolutes exist and a belief that the Bible defines them. Additionally, a biblical worldview includes the belief that Christ lived a sinless life; God is the "all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today"; salvation is by grace and not by works; Satan is a real being; Christians have a responsibility to witness; and the Bible is "accurate in all of its teachings."

Sadly, many Christians in our culture think and live just like non-Christians. It is hard to tell them apart, except for Sunday mornings when the Christian parks his car in the church parking lot and participates in a worship service. Then he gets back in the car and drives home, and lives just like everyone else until the next Sunday morning, when the unbelieving neighbor gets to sleep late and read the paper, feeling sorry for those poor folks who drag themselves to church every week.

Even those who have a real and personal relationship with Jesus find themselves struggling with various aspects of Biblical truth. We live in a post-modern world in which Christian beliefs are viewed as ignorant, narrow-minded, and even shameful. ( ask Carrie Prejean)

If Christians truly believed the Bible as truth, and understood the character of God and the reality of what Jesus Christ did for us, then their lives would be radically transformed, and the world would take notice.

That is the reason for The Truth Project. It is not an evangelical tool, but is designed for believers, to dig into the truths of God's Word and see how it applies to EVERY area of life, every day of the week - not just on Sunday mornings! It is designed for use in small groups meeting in homes, because life is about relationships, and life-to-life is the way that Jesus lived and taught. And as Christians, we all want to be more like Jesus.

So look for a Truth Project small group near you. I'll be hosting a college group this summer, and hope to start a high school group in the fall.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Testing Week

We are doing Iowa Testing this week, as part of our state homeschooling requirements here in North Carolina. The state requires that all homeschoolers ages 7-15 take an annual achievement test. Students age 16 and older must still be tested if they have a drivers license.
FAQs about NC Achievement Test requirement

This is Jason's first year with Iowa, having done the Woodcock-Johnson test up until this year. So far, he is surviving just fine. We are testing this year with 5 other families, with the younger kids at one home and the high schoolers at my house. With the Iowa Test, 3rd- 8th graders can test together - they have the same set of instructions - and 9th - 12th can test together. We are testing the younger kids over 3 mornings, and the high schoolers are pushing a little harder and getting it done in 2 afternoons. There are sections on Language Usage, Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling, Math Concepts & Problem Solving, Math Computation, Science, Maps & Diagrams and Social Studies. whew! Although the state only requires testing in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling, and mathematics, we choose to do the Complete Battery.... just because. :-)

The kids really don't mind the testing. They almost enjoy it, I think, because it is a challenge... and because I generally don't require additional school work on testing days.