Faith Like a Child

This has been an incredible year for my family spiritually. It started out very rough as my oldest girl struggled with friends, teenage decisions, and walking away from a faith that she had barely held onto. She just didn’t know that she could believe it anymore. Until she went to an event at our local BCM. She heard from God that day. He was real, and it was for her sin that He died. She grieved over what she was doing. She had friends that she lost, but God put new ones in her life. She had messy issues to deal with, but God put just the right people in her life to walk her through those and more. She is a different person now, one that has felt Gods grace and truths played out in her own life.

At the same time, my ten year old daughter was coming to me with a lot of big questions. “Why does God allow sin? Why are we not just made perfect? Why do we have to die?…” Then one day this summer, she came inside after sitting in the van alone and crying. She had been convicted of her sinfulness and her need for God’s grace. Over the next few days we answered some more questions and watched as she began her Christian life.

A couple weeks later, their youngest sister came to me at bedtime and proclaimed that she had been listening to all that we’d talked about with her sister, and she wanted to be a Christian too. I didn’t take her too seriously. She’s pretty rash in making decisions. But over the following months she was adamant. She was really challenging me in my faith as well.

My son has not yet come to this place, but he’s asking questions, and I have faith that he will soon.

My two little girls were water baptized this November and continue to amaze me in their child like faith. The reminders are such blessings. In my next post I’ll write about one of them that I’m loving right now. But for now, look to children. Ask yourself what they can teach you about trusting God in your everyday life. Ask what they can show you about compassion. Ask what they can show you that you have forgotten. You will be blessed by listening.

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Christmas Isn’t Found in a Store

Last week we were watching the old Grinch cartoon when  my 8 year old said to me, “Mom, Christmas isn’t found in a store. Some adults don’t get that.” I was kind of surprised that she picked that up, but she was right. It’s not found in a store, and it’s often the adults who don’t get it.

I thought surely that that idea of Christmas not being about the gifts would be lost on the kids once they were flooded with gifts from grandparents, parents, and others. But it wasn’t. Yes, the gifts were fun, and a couple of the kids are completely enamored with them at this point. But the things we talked about  yesterday, the glimpses into their hearts, they were so beautiful. One  reminded me that gifts are not what it’s about. Neither is tradition.  One realized that gifts, no matter how many or what kind, don’t really satisfy that longing in her heart. She’d rather have time with people. Relationships. Sharing life together. Where do they get such wisdom?

We had the flu this week, so not much of the traditional festivities of Christmas day happened. I was disappointed as I love routine and tradition. I grew up in a family where ceremony surrounded so much of our lives, and this doing little for Christmas was hard for me. But what else was there to do when the kids were all running fevers and finding the days away? We still opened gifts and had short visits with some family, but it was not the same.

Not the same. But I learned some new lessons this year. I learned how to embrace the imperfections of life. Not only to tolerate them, but to take them in and love them. They are part of life whether I like it or not, and they require me to trust that God’s in charge instead of me. Oh, that trusting. It’s hard, but I’m slowly finding comfort in it.  I remembered the humble day of Jesus’ birth. I’m sure everything didn’t go just as planned for Mary that day, and yet it was a beautiful time because it was just what God had planned. I learned this year to slow down, stop worrying about school and parties and shopping, and start spending my efforts or the people in my life.  This morning, the day after Christmas, I’m not feeling let down. I’m feeling refreshed actually, and it didn’t come from a store.

What about the younger kids? Well, they are 13, 11, and 9. They get to choose some, but much less. They have a basic daily screen time allowance. They have to do the assignments I give. My 13 and 11 year olds are beginning to get some freedom. When I make the week’s plans, I schedule math, science, and social studies. Then I ask them what they want to do for writing this week and, within reason, that becomes their assignments. They like to write scripts and short stories, secret code letters, and Harry Potter books right now. I think that is a fine way to practice writing. I ask them which delights they want to pursue this week. Saxophone, drums, tumbling, dance, scouts, puppet shows, wood whittling, fort building and the like make the list. I add that to their schooling. I ask them which books they are currently reading and add those to the list. The end product is a plan that they contributed to and they are excited to pursue. It is a delight directed education with the guidance appropriate for their ages.

How Unit Studies are Helping Me

This year I am using Weaver unit studies in my planning. I’m mostly using them for ideas and direction and not for the actually specific lessons. I usually like to make my own plans depending on where we as a family are at a given time, but this year, I felt like some loose direction would give me a mental break in that area. I struggled over the decision partly because I am cheap and I don’t like the idea of buying curriculum that I probably won’t use anyway, but I am ever so glad that I did. I don’t use it fully enough to justify the full cost of a new set, but definitely enough for the old used set I picked up for $60

We use natural learning here, mostly of the Charlotte Mason method. So how does a unit study fit? Loosely for sure. Charlotte Mason methods use a chronological world history basis for much of their studies, and this unit study uses a Biblical chronology and compares each Bible theme to other studies. When we studied David, a man of war, we studied the Civil War. When we studied Solomon’s wisdom, we learned about various topics in biology. When we cover the grand and glorious temple that Solomon built, we will learn about architecture, stewardship, trade, and budgeting.

While I love love love reading books with my kids, some of them don’t learn best by reading or listening, and I needed some new ideas. Unit studies have the capability of fitting a variety of learning styles, which is another reason I wanted to use this one this year. While many of the lessons are paper and pencil style, there are plenty of ideas for hands on learning as well. This current unit offers ideas like playing the game of Life, working out an actual family budget, writing checks, researching, drawing and building different styles of architecture. Of course these are my starting ideas. From them, I can add videos, living books, poetry, art, narrations, writing opportunities, etc. I’m not sure yet where the unit will take us. I only have a list of topics to cover, some starting ideas (take what you need, leave the rest), and the interests of my kids to guide where we will go. Delight directed, Charlotte Mason inspired, unit studies all in one   : )

I’m not married to my curriculum. I use what I need. We take weeks off of it to pursue our own delights, and when we need to get back to a structured track, we go back to the next unit in the book. Amazingly, it always seems to fit right when we need it. I just started planning our current unit that we will start near the end of this week.  I was undecided on which of the many topics to jump into first, and today my husband’s job hours took a cut. That’s going to make a notable change in our income, but we are prepared for it. As a bonus, since it will affect us all, I can use this as an opportunity to teach my kids stewardship and budgeting in a real life situation. That’s real learning. That’s God’s perfect timing for this given unit. That’s another confirmation that I am doing what I need to be doing school wise this year.

Captivating

A few weeks ago I read a book that is rocking my world. It has changed the way I understand my faith in Christ. It has brought freedom into my life in an area that I have struggled with for many years. Actually, the book didn’t do these things. It was just a tool. God used that tool in His best timing (when I was ready to hear it) to speak deeply into my heart, and those words that He spoke are changing me from the inside out.

The book is Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge. It is written primarily to women, but probably a good read for any adult. If you haven’t read it, I cannot say it loudly enough. Read it.

* * * *

I was frustrated with myself. I was aggravated with my kids. I was just in a slump and buried in insecurities. I was sure that I was not enough, and I managed to tell my kids the same through the ranting that I chose to carry out. I cried the ugly cry. I made one of my kids cry her own ugly cry. With shame covering me, I then had to join the family at the dinner table. I felt like scum. How could they possible want me there when I had just been so awful to them? It was awful, and it was not the first time by a long shot. Satan has been using this weakness of mine for some time now.

After dinner, I snuck away to be alone. I guess I just wanted to feel bad for myself for a while. Captivating was sitting next to me. I had checked it out at the library. Honestly, I have tried to read this book three times over the past few years. On the first two tries, I could not get past the first couple chapters. This time, the third time, I opened the book in the middle, probably 150 pages in. And God spoke to my heart right there in the middle of the book. I read from the book with every spare moment for the whole weekend. I could not stop, because I was so hungry for this good news. He knew what I needed to hear that day. He knew that that day He would heal my heart of some big misconceptions.

I used to think of the Gospel as saying something like, “It’s okay if you don’t measure up. Nobody does. I still love (I’ll accept) you.” It was a gospel of grace, but I missed the Beloved part.

Now I am hearing God say, “ You are genuinely beautiful. Life has hurt you, but I’m here to redeem you. You are so special to me. Let me heal your heart. Let me have you completely as my own.”

God pursues me like a bride. He not only cares for me, but He wants me. All I’ve every really wanted was to be wanted. He pursues me. And he want me to pursue Him in freedom of spirit, not bogged down with the baggage of self worth lies.

The gospel message is not just about forgiveness. That is big, but there is so much more. It is deep relationship. Fellowship restored. RedeemedBeloved. Bride of Christ. Valuable. Made for a purpose. My sin cast far away and remembered no more. Loved. Really, really loved.

He wants me to have a spirit at rest, at peace. He wants me to be beautiful inside and out. He wants me to be a woman that invites others to be near and to hear the same redemption story. This is the good news. This freedom is worth sharing.

* * * * *

I did go back and read the rest of the book. The first third was about how we all endure hurts and build up walls and insecurities. The last part was about how God wants to use us, how our experiences, passions, and abilities lend themselves to ministering to others, and how we are indeed valuable, even needed. Those parts were good too, but it was the middle that really allowed me to see God’s heart for me, for you.

Do you want to know how it is changing me? I feel confident. I have never felt truly confident. I could put on a face for a short time, but this is different. It is not from me. It is instead confidence in who Christ says that I am. Beautiful. Valuable. Wanted. I’m finding a new identity. I’m finding the beauty in me, both physically and spiritually. I’m not afraid to speak truth and love into others’ lives. I’m excited to see scripture and songs in new and fresh ways. The trees are more beautiful. Life feels more lovely. I sense that relationship with God growing and influencing me.

There is freedom from the bondage of self worth lies. Your self worth is found in God and who He made you to be. You are loved, wanted, beautiful. You are needed. Rest in that truth. Rest in the gospel message. God LOVES you. He wants a restored relationship with you. Jesus will forgive your sins and remember them no more. He finds you beautiful. Lovely. Worthy. And He wants you. Knowing and believing this will rock your life too!


Rest and Life Giving Activities

For the past few weeks I have been thinking and asking people about life giving things. We live in a world that most of the time is very draining. What is it that brings life back to you? What brings you joy? What truly refreshes you? 

The answers people have shared included being outside in nature, running, dancing, gymnastics, horseback riding, singing, playing music, sewing, knitting, scrapbooking, crafts, washing cars, reading books, being with people, looking for little blessings.

Look at those answers. Nowhere do I see cleaning house all day (though I love the results), making lots of money, staying busy. But that seems to be where most of us reside.

I know, there are things that need to be done. I am not disputing that at all. Jobs matter, money matters, general cleanliness matters. Taking care of people matters. All of that makes us busy.

But are we so in the habit of being busy that we force ourselves to be busy even when we don’t need to be? 

God commands us to rest. He calls it Sabbath, and it is for our benefit. With rest, we refresh our bodies and our spirits. Without rest, we wear down and become far less effective.

I am driven to busyness. It is an area I need to work on. From the minute I wake till the minute I go to sleep, I am either physically or mentally working. When I get a break from physical jobs, I sit down to fill my mind with new information. Some of it is important, and some of it is just obsessive because I just. can. not. stop. myself. I do this for weeks at a time until my body says no more. And once that happens, I drag myself around trying to do what I can while being totally aware of the fact that I can’t even put together an intelligent sentence. I can’t listen to that small voice in my heart. I can’t really love on the people around me.

I feel bad for not working. I feel like I am wasting time. I’m kind of okay with this for part of a day, but once this exhaustion hits me, it takes me *days* to come back.  And that feels like such a huge waste of time to me.

I need to take more regular Sabbath days. Maybe you do too. My rest days work better on Mondays or Fridays than on the weekend. Our weekends are so busy. Much of our learning happens on the weekend while Dad is home. I don’t think the day matters as long as we do indeed rest.

What qualifies as rest? Sometimes it just means sleep. Sleep refreshes physically. Once the need for sleep has been met, it is time for life giving activities. Choose activities that bring YOU life. I tend to jump into a book, but I have realized that reading doesn’t really refresh my soul. Yes, it is good for me. Yes, I like stories and new information. No, reading does not refresh my soul. For me, that renewing comes from  sports. I just love physical movement.  Doing gymnastics, throwing a football, even digging a garden.  That is where I need to go for refreshing. These are the desires that God put in my soul to renew me.

 What life giving activities are you incorporating into your days? What are you doing to recreate? Are you doing it enough? Are you making it a priority?

Life is busy.  Work is important. Rest is important. Life giving activities are important.

What Exactly Is Delight Directed Learning?

So what exactly is delight directed learning? I’m sure it looks different in each of its applications, but a good definition helps to make sure that we are on target.

In its simplest form, It is learning about that which is interesting to you. Does this mean you (the student) are doing whatever you want to do all day? No. There is still a discipline to it. After all, it is called delight directed learning. There should be forward progress toward a new skill or further knowledge attained from a topic of research most days.

Are there days when just resting is sufficient? Occasionally, Yes. Think about this. As an adult learner, I pour deeply into my topic of interest for several days or weeks. When I surface I am usually mentally exhausted, and a day or two of brain break is in order. Some people call this the weekend. I don’t because our delights don’t often care what day it is. My children and I follow said delights when we find them on a Monday just as equally as a Saturday. When we have had enough and need to come up for air, we take a day or more off. Are these lost or wasted days? No.  Well, okay, sometimes they can be. But for the most part, those days are for two very good things: refreshing the mind and body and digesting the information consumed in order to create new questions, new directions, new challenges, even new delights that will move us forward in the next phase.

Are delight directed learning topics chosen exclusively by the student? Not always. I see myself as a learning guide. It is my job to encourage my kids to pursue new things, to find their passions and abilities, to draw out of them what is hidden from even themselves at the time, and to challenge themselves at a higher level than they might feel brave enough to try. I am finding though, that the older the kids get, the more self directed they are in pursuing difficult tasks and new knowledge. This is the fruit of delight directed learning.

Is delight directed learning a hands off approach to homeschooling? Not even close. In fact, I think I have my hands in their work more so this way. I spend hours a day talking to kids about the project they are working on, helping them check their math or spelling before completing a project, showing them how to look up information, watching them demonstrate what they have learned or created. I’m learning along side them this way. I’m learning about writing and dancing, sewing and music, mythology and physics. It is a family affair.

Does delight directed learning include learning reading, writing, and math? I can only answer that for my family. I do require language lessons until each child can read and write well. These are most important skills in becoming a self educator. I also require math in seasons for the older children where we plow through several chapters over a period of six weeks, and a few times a week consistently for my youngest.  We also have six week sessions as a family where we focus on an area of history or science. There are lots of ways to coordinate the necessary skills with delight directed learning. This is just how we do ours.  🙂

Delight Directed Resources

I did not become a delight directed “teacher” over night. I am a trained school teacher. But after teaching my first daughter informally through puzzles, games, library trips, and the like and then sending her to public kindergarten, the difference in learning methods became hugely apparent to me. When I brought her home mid year from kindergarten, we still did some standard workbook stuff mixed in with a lot more play. It took a few years to work through my fears and move our family from traditional schooling to delight directed learning. Here are a few resources I have used over those years and still today.

https://simplycharlottemason.com/ is the site that I used for direction and basic curriculum when we first dropped textbooks.  It introduced me to the natural learning styles that Charlotte Mason so strongly believed in. Back then, SCM didn’t have a book store and its own curriculum like it does now. It was mostly a list of books that I took with me to my library. I learned to trust living books and gentle ways as I followed their suggestions. I am ever so thankful that I found this site.

http://www.walkingbytheway.com/blog/delight-directed-learning/  is a direct link to a 10 part series geared toward younger (less than high school) kids about delight directed learning. Ami has written great articles and posted great resources that she has used for her kids for years, but I especially like her definition of learning in this series.

http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/ is all about Christians and unschooling. It was an encouragement to me in learning what each of my kids was made to be. There is some really good food for thought here.

http://www.ignitethefire.com/ is the site that introduced me to delight directed schooling. Terri Camp calls it unschooling, but I would call what she describes more of a delight directed learning. She advocates whole child education and notebooking. I actually love this site. A lot.

There you have it. I hope some of these resources encourage you!

Finding Delight When Days Don’t Go As Planned

Planning our days is important, but sometimes things happen that mess up our plans. Someone gets sick. You have a long weekend and you are all exhausted. You are burned out and need a break. The house is out of control and you just need to clean up before you can focus. These are all real reasons for our days getting off track.

Days that don’t go as planned are not wasted days. I want to talk about some ways to resurrect those days and also about some good things that may be happening in those times that you may not recognize. My hope is that you would not be totally discouraged on these days, and that you would find joy and progress even without your pre-planned lessons.

Ideas to resurrect your day:

  • Write and post a list on a chalkboard or paper with several activity options. Have each child choose activities and then report at the end of the day. Sometimes I just watch, but most of the time I have them record what they do for me. I like to list things like board games, building or art projects, music practice, sewing, gardening,  reading books, make-believe games, puzzles, documentaries, nature studies, and exercise. I do not allow video games and television unless they can justify to me what educational benefit there is to that activity (And they have gotten very good at finding value in activities that they enjoy). But I do allow slow and enjoyably paced activities as these are typically days needed to refresh.
  • Take a field trip. Sometimes we just need to get out of the house for matters that are not business. We like to go to the pet store to look at all of the animals, McDonald’s to eat and visit with each other without all of the distractions of home, the library for fun books and movies (not the ones I pick for school).
  • Read quality books and watch movies together. I always have a book or two that we are working through, and on a tired day, we very much enjoy listening to read alouds. We also keep a list of good movies in our Netflix queue to watch together. These are good for days when I need to clean or get some other work done or when we are all completely toast.
  • Go outside for some fresh air and a break from the constant bombardment of technology.

There is definitely value in these days.  In fact, these are often my favorite days. It is in these days that I see my kids’ delights come out the clearest. I make mental notes and encourage them to keep pursuing those things. It is also in these days that sweet conversations between two siblings or between parent and child take place. The relaxed pace allows time to listen to each other and for me to learn more about their heart needs. Better relationships make for better teaching opportunities, and I’m learning that especially in the teen years, relationships take much work!

Occasionally these days are completely child led, and when that happens, I am free to work on a project of my own. As a life learner myself, I need this time to pursue things that I delight in.  In addition to delight driven projects, I will take time to evaluate what we are doing in our formal school time and decide what is and is not working. This, too, is a valuable use of my time.

Sometimes you start lessons and quickly realize that they are going nowhere fast, and other days you decide the night before that you just need a day. I did that today. I knew last night that I might call today a rest day. Once I got up and assessed the situation, I decided it was a wise decision. We cleaned all morning and played games afterward. We are refreshed and ready for tomorrow, and it was not at all a wasted day.

Married to My Job

Homeschooling moms, I’m burdened for healthy marriages, and it seems on the surface that a homeschooling family should have a great marital success rate. After all, we are family oriented, right?

But still I see marriages failing in homeschooling families all the same. I think I’ve realized something.  There is a lot of talk encouraging husbands and fathers not to be so married to their jobs  that they neglect their wives and children, but perhaps we homeschooling moms need to consider the same warning.

I know I’m guilty. My kids take my attention and all that I can give every hour of the day.  I keep trying to get around to time with my husband, but my “job” keeps demanding more. And after a while I look back only to realize that I have not tended my marriage for a while. I was busy being married to my job.

Now, I consider my marriage to be one of the better ones. I’m married to my best friend. But when life is busy and I again act as though I were married to my job, there is a clear difference in our unity.

I’m being brief here, but hear my heart, homeschooling mom. Our kids are wonderful. They are worth our time. But at some point, preferably a predetermined one, our marriages need regular, positive attention. Find balance. Set priorities toward an ongoing healthy marriage, and be intentional. Our kids will even thank us for it later.

Teaching my Passions

This morning I was thinking about the fact that I don’t really like to teach… Unless it is a subject area that I love.

Like math. Oh, I love math, and it delights my soul on the days we do math. Spending 2+ hours in a row teaching new math concepts to individual kids? Yes please.

Tumbling and gymnastics? Again, Yes please. I love sharing my passion for gymnastics with kids and could do it all day every day.

But social studies and science? Blah. I do my best to facilitate these lessons instead of teaching them. I’m not passionate about them, so I find resources that can meet that need. People we know, living books, videos, articles, ideas to consider, and permission to pursue experiments and the like.

Why do I say this? It’s because I was reminded that Charlotte Mason’s ideal books were living books that were interesting, conversational, and written by an author that was passionate about that subject area. Putting in our children’s hands the passionate voice of a subject ought to make it come to life (at least some). If it is your passion, run with it. Teach and share your passion. It is often contagious. If it is not your passion, find someone or some resource to help. To watch my older kids develop their own passions and share them with those around them…

Oh sweet success. A life of learning and sharing that came from living books and living ideas around them. Teach and facilitate. Share your passions today. Look for your kids passions. Love learning.

2014-2015 Plans for Andrew, Emily, and Lily

Here we are again at the beginning of a school year. We are all the time learning through so many different experiences. For the sake of making a formal list, here is a peek into what we expect to be doing this year.

While we don’t focus on grade levels in our schooling, Andrew is approximately at 8th grade, Emily is at 6th, and Lily is at 3rd.

Bible— Daily reading through the Old Testament following Weaver Volume 4 plans

Science and Social Studies— Weaver Unit Studies Volume 4 and corresponding library books, nature studies, hands on projects, Netflix documentaries, and opportunities to learn through everyday experiences

Reading— Library books of their choosing, Phonics Plus Five reading lessons for Lily
Writing— Weekly free writes, cursive handwriting practice, daily writing opportunities

Math— Zeta math and possibly some of Algebra 1 for Andrew

Epsilon math for Emily

Spectrum 3 math for Lily with plenty hands on practice

In addition to these academics, each child will participate in at least one 6 week co-op session.

Delight directed studies will include:

Andrew will participate in boy scouts, play strategy games, and pursue his own passions.

Emily will pursue saxophone and piano, tumbling, tap and ballet, art, and any other passions that she discovers.

Lily will learn much through play and hands on activities.

Plans for Bethany in 2014-2015

Here we are again at the beginning of a school year. We are all the time learning through so many different experiences. For the sake of making a formal list, here is a peek into what we expect to be doing this year.

Bethany, 16, is officially in 11th grade. She has quite a busy year planned.  She has three major goals:

1. Take the ACT and score well enough to be able to get into college if she so chooses. 

To accomplish this, she will study extra math from Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 and practice her essay writing skills. From taking the practice ACT test, we know she is already prepared to score well on the reading comprehension, language skills, and science reasoning parts. While she will still pursue greater proficiency in those areas, we will focus primarily on math and essay writing. She will use various texts including Math U See, Apologia Science, Weaver Unit Studies Volume 4, and many self chosen books from the library.

2.  Continue progressing in dance and also work as an intern / student helper at her dance studio. 

She will participate in tap, ballet, jazz, pre-point, tumbling, contemporary dance, and dance company. She will also assist and learn to teach steps in classes for younger dancers.  By then end of the year, she should have a much better idea as to all that is involved in working in the dance studio area and whether it is something that she would like to pursue long term.

She will also pursue more sewing projects, practice her music and art, cook more meals, and learn to handle more money and responsibility.

 

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Let’s break this down in how it fits a lifestyle of homeschooling.

Fear. That’s where I’ve lately been residing. Driven by fear like a dear in headlights. Afraid to move forward. Afraid to try. What if the kids don’t listen? What if they don’t respond? What if they think my hard planned lessons are stupid? What if they still don’t learn it? What if I’m failing them? What if other moms think I’m too relaxed and not teaching enough? What if I don’t fit in to the group?

Timidity. Yep. That too. Blinded by fear and unwilling to step up and share what I know What if my words are all jumbled when I speak? What if I’m doing this all wrong? Blinded by fear and unwilling to step up and share what I know.

This is not what God wants. For God has not given me a spirit of fear and timidity.
Instead, power, love, and self control.

Power. God empowers me to do what he called me to.

Love. God’s love shows in my actions when I keep my eyes on Him. This love should drive my interactions with my children and other moms.

Self control. It is a fruit of the spirit that enables me to be about the business that God has set before me. That business is primarily raising, educating, mentoring, and loving my children. It is also to mentor younger moms who are now walking the path I’ve walked for the past 11 years.

This is where I need to live daily. I’ll admit I struggle with it. I’m so incredibly glad God’s mercies are new every morning. So today, I get up and try again.

I encourage you to do the same.

The End of the Ninety Day Challenge

It was like a great vacation. Fast paced, exciting, exhausting, emotionally challenging. It was totally worth the effort. As the time neared the end, I felt like my trip was coming to a stop. I dragged out the last couple paragraphs, realizing that it was ending. Happy and sad at the same time.

It started out as a challenge to myself in a time of desperation when I could not put solid legs down on my faith. I had developed doubts. I had realized that I could not answer my kids’ questions with any more than Sunday school answers. I knew I had to get serious about studying God’s word.

I didn’t know what would come of it. I hoped that I’d have a few more answers. Honestly, I just hoped I could get through the whole thing. I’ve never been able to commit long enough to get through even half of the Bible at a few chapters a day. This time I decided to try a 90 day challenge that required some 16 chapters a day. Was I crazy? Probably. Did I expect to complete it in time? I hoped for 180 days.

If you want to read about the beginning of this challenge, you can do so here

Yesterday I read the last words of the last book. It took about 70 days. Cover to cover. Once I got reading, I realized how hungry I was for God’s word. By the time I was a week in, I could not put it down. I read full books most days. I learned new things and made new connections that no amount of Sunday school classes and sermons could cover.

Most days were exciting as I rejoiced over familiar and new information about Gods provisions and plan for his people, but some were draining. Reading the four gospels over four days was difficult. Jesus offered some tough teachings in those books, and then on top of that he was beaten, mocked, brutally killed. For me. Reading about that four times in a row was really mentally exhausting.

About halfway through my reading, I felt God challenging me in a couple of areas of my life. Reading the Word was a good thing, but it wasn’t enough. There were things I needed to deal with. Little cobwebs in my heart that I didn’t want to let go of. How could I say no when I was so in love with spending time learning more about my God? I’m so glad I didn’t. My heart is lighter, filled with more peace and joy, and it isn’t because I’m working hard at it. God healed my heart of a sinful attitude when I cried out to Him.

The Word of God really is so fascinating. It is simple and complicated at the same time. The message of God’s jealous love for his people resounds throughout. I really enjoyed my whirlwind tour through the Bible. Every word of every chapter.

I might have neglected a few things for those days. I spent less time on Facebook, Words With Friends, and watching movies with the family. I cleaned a little less. I probably talked a little less. I read while I cooked, while I sorted laundry, while I waited for kids to get out of dance class, before kids got up in the morning and after they went to bed.

The kids learned to see that I was reading my Bible and waited more patiently for my attention. We talked about interesting parts, and they saw that it was important to me. My husband, who is also doing the 90 day challenge, was very patient too. Our evening conversations are often related to what we have read that day. We are digging into scripture together, a blessing of its own.

I really enjoyed the “vacation”, and didn’t really want it to end. At the same time I’m glad it is over. It was tiring…and yet refreshing.

Today I took a day off. It was actually difficult to stop, but I promised myself that I would write about the experience before moving on. This is where I am. I’m going back to reading tomorrow. I’m going to reread the New Testament over the next three weeks with my husband. It was such a quick read through, and there is so much depth in the teaching in the New Testament. I need to read it again. I’m not sure where I will go after that, but I do know that I will be reading. I must. I’m hungry.