Why I choose PACES PAideia

IT’s that time of year again and homeschoolers everywhere are trying to decide which route to take. If you are any where within an hour of the North side of Houston, come check out the PACES Paideia program. http://www.pacesinfo.org

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Why I choose PACES PAideia to educate my kids.

I’ve been home educating since 1997, coming up on 20 years. We have 8 kids, and have graduated three from homeschooling with PACES, each of which have gone on to higher education. We started our PACES journey in January of 2004. Right in the middle of Year 3…the Pilgrims.

Every summer, usually right about this time, I look at my husband and say, “Why can’t we just do this at home and stop doing PACES? I’m exhausted and the thought of gearing up for another school year just leaves me wanting to hide in bed”

To which he wisely replies, “Erin, you say this every July. Whether you realize it or not, PACES is for you too.” He has taught me to see the joy is in the struggle, and that the learning is not the only end game, it’s about…

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Sowing for LIFE

mom and dad 1962

On April 17th, my parents celebrate 54 years of marriage.  Full of spunk and life, my mom is the ever-ready bunny and never stops MOVING, while my dad is her anchor and enjoys a good book snuggled up with his four-legged best friend, Molly.  Together my parents have weathered decades of joys and heartache; trials and triumphs, leaving a legacy behind for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

That legacy is FAITHFULNESS.

Even when the waters were choppy and the road seemed impassable, my folks weathered every storm and stayed together.  While loving and serving one another unconditionally, these two will make anyone laugh till your side hurts.  Our kids will randomly just start laughing as we recall comedic stories my parents have lived!  (Ask them to tell you about one early morning broken car horn and a convertible!) It will leave you in stitches.

Most importantly, my parents have modeled for me and my kids what it means to stay.

And for that I am forever grateful.

Happy Anniversary Ken and Nancy Bowen.

You are LOVED!!!

 

Sowing with Vision | Raising Sons

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Today is a very special day.  Our first born son turns 21.  There is something very significant when one reaches this milestone.  Not only is it a milestone for him, but it’s a milestone for us as well.  Our son Cameron, is one of the eight reasons why this blog was started in the first place.  His life is a testimony to God’s faithfulness when you keep sowing with vision.

You see, he was my strong-willed child.

https://sowwithvision.com/2016/02/01/the-strong-willed-child/ .

And now, at 6’4″ tall, he is a full grown man, who both loves Jesus and family with all his heart.

I can’t help but tear up….

After years of constant movement and more energy than could ever be explained, now he is pouring his life into young kids.  Mentoring and shepherding them weekly, Cameron is more than a piano instructor, he’s also a life coach.  By rewarding his students each week for their bible reading, listening skills, and practice, he understands the value of teaching the whole child ;  the tangibles and the intangibles.   The discipline and habits he has built in are an inspiration to me daily as I listen in to his lessons from my kitchen sink.  I’m constantly challenged by him, without him even knowing, to reach higher.  Now at 21, he has met the 10,000 hour rule in his field of study, piano.   In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. He continues to sow in his field of study, while also teaching others.

As a mom, watching the Lord move through him, encourages and inspires me as I pour into the younger kids, and to  keep sowing with vision. Hosea 10:12

I encourage you today…to keep pouring out your life for your family.  You won’t ever regret it.

Happy 21st birthday Cameron True!

You are Loved

 

Sowing Seeds

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“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 9:10

What seeds have you been given?

In late December of 2015 I was blessed to cross paths with the Patriot Journalist Network, where I met the founder, Mark Prasek.  As a former coach, I quickly learned that his passion is to add value to others, and whether he realizes it or not,

he is influencing the influencers.

By providing a 24/7 forum online, like-minded people who are burdened for our nation, can come together and make a difference collectively online.  During several chat room discussions with the other members, Mark set an important example.  He encouraged others to use what you have already been given.

Seeds

As I was praying for my family, church, community, and nation, the Lord pricked my heart and I thought, “What is it that I have already been given?”

The Lord has given us a home, and a large family who all love Him.

A husband who is gifted in song writing and worship leading, with a powerful life story.

Love of cooking and hosting

Years of experience planning major events from fund raisers to formal balls for our local homeschooling community.

Through a series of events and confirmations, a vision was born.  Our family began to host monthly potluck dinners followed by a sweet time of music and testimony led by my husband.

These evenings are called GATEWAY

With so many of our family members touching different circles in the community, we decided to open it up to anyone who wanted to attend and allow our kids to invite their friends.

Paul says in 2 Cor. 10:13, “But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even you.” 

You see, the Lord has given each of us an “area of influence” where we can reach out and influence others.  It may be a momma reading a bedtime story to her young children,  a college student hosting a bible study in his apartment, an educator teaching students how to write pro-life speeches,  or a data engineer creating an online forum where thousands of powerful tweets are sent out daily.

We’ve all been given something by God, and a circle of influence that He wants to use to further His kingdom.

What about you?

What are your seeds?

I encourage you today to sow YOUR seeds with VISION.

 

The Heartbeat

6:00 am.

The alarm and the toddler both wake me up.  I stumble to the coffee maker and reach for my cell phone to listen to the daily audible Bible, while loading a full dishwasher.

The morning was harried and stressful.  It was the first day back to our weekly homeschool program after a long Christmas break.  Each of my kids arise and are dressing for the day.  Still dark outside, the air was piercingly frigid.  We busily hunted for shoes, jackets, and backpacks while we frantically rushed to pack seven lunches.

7:30 am.

We arrive at our destination and start unloading the van.

As the kids make their way to chapel, I visit with other moms. So far, a normal day for us.  My reluctant toddler decides school isn’t for her today, so I’m dealing with clinging hands, trying to coax her into her room.

My class starts in a few hours, and I spend the next hours researching and going over my notes so that I can prepare to teach.

When all of a sudden, my ordinary day instantly turns extraordinary by the presence of the living God…

Through a simple text.

It is now a monumental day…

11 am

My adult daughter, pregnant with her first baby, sends me a text following her very first visit to the midwife.

“I heard the heartbeat”.

The tears began streaming down my face.

My GRANDCHILD’S heart is beating strong!

How can I put this feeling into words?

The realization that your first born child, is carrying your first born grandchild.

Pure Joy inexpressible.

By the grace of God, I’ve carried to term and delivered eight healthy children over the past 21 years.  I remember the posters on the wall of the doctor’s office where I was sitting when my husband and I heard my oldest child, Bethany’s, heartbeat for the very first time.  I remember how we celebrated and wiped away the tears because God had given us the desire of our heart.

I remember that day and I will always remember today.

This extraordinary day.

When a text told me, that new life is here.

The heartbeat means just that….a heart is alive, and beating.

My prayer is that this child’s heart beat, will inspire others to continue to beat.

…That this child will send a message on the value of human life, from their tiny home, my daughter’s womb.

“Let the little children come unto me, and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matt 19:14

I wrote this story two years ago. In the summer of 2014 Temperance Chloe  was born. She was born on the one year anniversary of the passing of a very significant Pro-Life bill that had passed the Texas Legislature HB2, which my church family and friends were deeply involved with in prayer circles and in Austin the year before.  I believe the Lord will use this beautiful young life to speak to the nation about the sanctity of human life, and the value and worth of every heartbeat.

More good news!!! Today, March 22, 2016

I got another text….

“We have a strong heartbeat!”  Yes, Grandbaby #2 arrives in October!

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Strength Made Perfect

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Cor. 12:9

“Everyone has a disability. Some are just more visible than others.” ~JPL

What happens when a mom of many loses her voice completely?

What about when a pianist begins to lose her eyesight and can’t read the music?

What happens when an athlete is injured?

Or a musician loses his hearing?

What happens?

Recently I’ve been thinking about these questions because I have been battling a hard case of laryngitis. As the master scheduler running a busy bustling household, this has become more than just an inconvenience, but a major challenge. Using a pen and paper, I have discovered that I do not write near as fast as I talk! Not to mention those cute (non-reading) preschoolers having fun trying to interpret moms hand signals and facial expressions.

This past two weeks of suffering ‘muteness’ has caused me to really reflect on God’s plan in my home and marriage and all the ways God has used weaknesses to show Himself strong. It has quieted my soul, as well as my tongue.

We learn obedience through what we suffer….

Our family is no stranger to suffering. My wonderful husband of 24 years and father to our eight children was born with Cerebral Palsy which makes simple tasks like getting out of bed, putting on shoes, and walking to the car a daily challenge.

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in Him” ~Psalm 84:5

At 2.2 pounds 51 years ago, when Joey was born, the prognosis from the doctor to his parents was grim with a slim chance for survival. The news to his parents, still very raw from the loss of Joey’s twin brothers a few years earlier at only six weeks old, was almost more than they could bear.

For literally, 40 days and nights, the tiny infant lived in an incubator, while his creator ministered to his fragile body. Day by day he gained a little more strength…

Over that first year, the doctors told his parents he would never walk, never ride a bike, never go to school, and never even play a musical instrument.

But God had other plans. Strength was being perfected in weakness.

At the tender age of 3, this miracle child experienced another hardship, which would prove even more painful in so many ways.

He became a child of divorce.

His first 5 years of life were full of doctor visits and surgeries and finally, at age five, with the help of a very strong willed step-father, He learned to walk…for the very first time.

His mother decided that her son was smart, and he deserved the same chance as other kids. So she started her personal campaign to get her handicapped child admission into the public school.

He would be the very first disabled child in the school district to attend the public school.

Strength made perfect.

Public school was both a blessing and a curse. The break from the tensions of home helped him find peace, but the social pressures and school work at times became very challenging.

At the age of 8, after major surgery, he was placed in a full body cast. After every surgery he would learn to walk all over again.

The child loved sports more than anything, he secretly wanted to play baseball and would call out a memorized batting line up as he threw a tennis ball on his garage door. Loneliness became a way of life.

His German mother, who fought so hard to get her son into public school, was now on a new mission.

She would be the founder of the first and only handicapped baseball league. Joey would finally get to play. Making headline news, and finding support from local Houston Astros, Joey, along with his assigned “buddy”, would round the bases and experience the thrill of the game.

He was 11 years old.

Strength made Perfect in weakness…

But life was lonely. There were many questions.

Questions about life and God – questions his parents weren’t able to answer.

So God sent a man to their family, who gave Joey some literature about the gospel and the seed continued to grow.

Growing up, he discovered music in his loneliness, and has since been able to teach his children to embrace the silence of life, and to not be afraid of loneliness.

Strength made perfect.

As a father, he teaches them that you don’t have to be surrounded by people to find significance. It is in that very loneliness, that God becomes more real, more near. They learned that Jesus sticks closer than a brother.

He has modeled from the very beginning unconditional love and fought vigorously against a performance based love with his kids.

His natural talent as a musician was evident. During hundreds of hours of alone time, he would play his instrument. Through the sometimes lifesaving bi-monthly visits with his father, Joey began to play music professionally.

He was 15.

College at Texas A&M was not easy. He was on his own, and did not look back. Playing music for cash to get through school meant driving in to college station from Houston at 5am to make an 8 am class.

But this overcomer never quit.

With a turbulent home life, Joey poured himself into his music and playing.

In 1987, in a dirty hotel room, after a very successful gigging night, this broken man, found Jesus.

He was 23 years old.

His exact words were, “Lord, if I can’t live solely for you, just kill me now, because I don’t want to live without you.”

Growing in his Christian faith became a passion.   He served as a summer missionary in downtown Houston, as well as in Colorado. It was in April of 1989 that my life would be changed forever.

It was the day I met Joey.

Our BSU director introduced us, he said, “Joey, here is a gal I think you need to meet”.

All I could see was JESUS. His love and His light radiated from this man.

We spent many hours together talking about our mutual love for the Lord. And two and a half years later, we married. January of 1992. 23 years and 8 amazing children later, I am overwhelmed by the spirit of this man. His fearless attitude and overcoming spirit is contagious and permeates our entire home. He never makes excuses, and by example teaches us to do the same. He knows the source of his strength. He knows why we are weak…why God allows us to suffer…

to drive us to Jesus – the source of all our strength.

I have been so blessed to live with the most amazing, steady, loving, faithful, talented, visionary, passionate, and respected man over this past quarter of a century. The gifts and calling of God on his life inspire me more today than even when we first met. It is a tremendous honor and a privilege to be called his wife, to walk by his side every day. I am thankful for his love for me through all these years, and for how he has raised our kids with conviction and integrity and for modeling what it means to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, oh man, what is good, and what the Lord doth require of you, But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

What happens when a wife and mom of many loses her voice completely? When she is unable to speak and teach, instruct, encourage, train, mentor, love, and edify the family???

…She finally writes that blog post

His Strength is Made Perfect in our Weakness

 

 

When They Leave

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It was a normal Monday.  With the flu in the house, I wasn’t sure which child I would be up with in the early morning hours, but I knew someone would need something for their fever.

Up at 3am.

I had even beat my 20 year old Starbucks-early-morning-barista-daughter up.   She would be leaving the house at 4:30am.  The two year old wasn’t going back to bed.  She was up and didn’t know what she wanted exactly, but she knew it needed to involve momma right next to her.  There was no consoling her other than rocking her and singing softly to her as the Motrin took effect.  As she began to settle down, the kitchen was now calling.  Being up early with the younger kids allowed me a chance to make an early morning breakfast for my college student who was headed out to campus for a full day of summer classes.  As the day unfolded, I knew it was a good time to get into that school room and organize all those school papers and clean out all the backpacks before something started growing in them.  While the house was a flurry, little girls were drawing pictures for their big brother who was off at camp, my 16 year old daughter getting ready to take one of her sisters on that promised trip to the pool.

2pm: I grab a quick nap, my work-from-home hubby is headed to an appointment and we kiss goodbye.

It’s now 2:45 in the afternoon and I need to meet a student I’m tutoring at the library soon.  With the dinner instructions explained to the teen in charge, and the preferred chores requested, I head out to teach.

3:30 at the library, my student has arrived late and I get a text.

Cassidy:  Mom….Abby is being horrible. Will you talk to her?  She has been rude, disobedient, and back talking. She’s told me she hates me over 8 times and counting and she keeps screaming like I’ve been hurting her, when in fact I haven’t touched her.  She’s being SO dramatic!!

Me: Send her to my room and let her lay down. I will call her

Cassidy: I tried to. She won’t listen.

Me: I’m in the library and can’t talk yet. Please call dad. Try another approach with her. Just leave her be. Tell her calmly that her sister is resting and she needs to cooperate.

Cass: I’ve tried EVERYTHING. She won’t listen, when she goes to your room, she wakes up Charis!

Me (to my student), “Will you excuse me a minute?”  I head to the stairwell and proceeded to try and mediate remotely a household that has been recovering from the flu with emotions high.  I knew everyone was on edge and I innocently thought that a two hour trip away from home would be uneventful.  Boy, was I wrong.

The offender had her say, and finally calmed down.

Time to leave the library. I’m now headed to the bank.  So far a normal day.

Then it happened.

My oldest daughter called me.  She’s the one living at home, has just graduated college, soon to be married in one month.  I hadn’t seen her in a couple of days since she had met her fiancé at the airport and spent the day before with him.  She had worked a full shift that morning and was asleep when I left the house.

Beth:  Mom, are you coming home?

Me: Not yet, I have one more student to tutor.

Beth: Mom, he got the job.

Then I knew.

It hadn’t hit me till that moment.

She was leaving.

I knew it would happen, we have been planning a wedding for six months.  But for some reason, today…I wept.  Actually, I couldn’t stop the tears. They were flowing and would not stop.  I wasn’t crying because I needed her to fill some emptiness in me,

…I wept because I will miss her.  I wept just because…

I’m a mom.

Did I hug her enough? Tell her I love her enough?  Did I listen to her when she was excited about a new book she was reading?  Did I really try to make her comfortable in the home?  Were the years she was here a blessing to her, or something else?  Did we pray together enough?  Did I take enough pictures?  Did I tell her enough stories of her childhood?  Did we spend enough time together?

I cry because I am thankful. I weep because God is good.  He allows us to love as He loves…To draw from His well, His height and depth and width and breadth of unending, never failing love.  We love because He first loved us.

It’s true, and now I get it.  God really does just “loan” our children to us for a short season.

Then they leave.

Others have felt this way, my friends all warned me it would come suddenly.

And it did.

She’s my first.  There are seven more to follow.  I am hoping it will get easier.  It is all good.  Things are as they should be.  She’s marrying the right man.  She’s strong, independent, and loves the Lord.  My head knows that everything is good.

I’m just waiting for my heart to get the message.

Suddenly, those early morning Motrin runs, non-stop dishes and laundry, and interrupting text messages don’t seem so bad.

Suddenly, in that moment, I realize that I have one chance to pour into all my children all the time and the love and grace and forgiveness and scripture reading and worship nights and family meetings and coaching and story-telling that I can possibly give them.

I have ONE chance to get it right.

Before it all becomes a memory.

I love you Bethany.  I am so happy for you.  The tears may flow this month, but they are tears of gratitude and love.   You make me want to me a better mom.

To all the mommas out there, holding their babies right now in the middle of the night, one day they will leave, and you will be so glad you loved them deeply like you are doing right now.  One day, you will thank the Lord, for these late nights.   One day, you will look back, smile, and pray over the next generation who will carry the mantle that you have passed on to them.  One day…..