One-of-a-Kind

This is something I posted on facebook more than four years ago, and it just came back to my attention. I don’t think it ever made it onto the blog, and I thought it would encourage you.

While this is an important lesson for those just starting out homeschooling, it’s also a great reminder to all of us: each child is different and each family is different. I like to say that homeschooling is an extension of parenting. Each family does things their own way and that should be reflected in your homeschool. What that means is that your homeschool shouldn’t be a reflection of the school you just pulled your child from.

Do you like to sit on the couch and read together? Then by all means homeschool on the couch not at a desk. If you like to be outside, get the readers and take your books outside. Do you like order and schedules? Then get your work done on the clock. Like to go with the flow? Then follow an interest in history and do several days at once and come back for the science topic another time.

Skip this, add that…I have made the Easy Peasy curriculum to be complete and to not waste a lot of time, BUT you can twist and turn it to fit the shape of your family.

We don’t test because we don’t grade. We don’t grade because we’re not sending home report cards. We know everyday what our children are getting and not getting. We have the freedom to pause and to work on something if need be. There’s no behind in homeschool. You just keep taking a step forward. As long as there is a step forward, you are heading in the right direction, no need to worry about levels and grades.

I hope you have fun having your kids home with you. I hope you can find your family’s homeschool groove and your unique one-of-a-kind education.

Miracle Healings

My husband and I didn’t grow up in any Christian tradition that believed you could expect miraculous healings. We prayed for the sick, but it was just a hope that the medicine, the surgeries, etc. would make them better. It wasn’t with any thought that we might open our eyes and they would be healed.

The Lord first introduced us to the idea when we had been overseas for about a year. We were newly moved into Shutka, the Roma village my husband and daughter visited with the angels. 🙂 My daughter had recently given her life to Christ (very precocious for her preschool age) and her little brother was sick. He had a fever and was just a lump on the couch. My husband called our daughter over, saying that we were going to pray for her brother. She came running over but didn’t wait for us to pray together. She just came over and said, “God, please help Joshua feel better.” My husband and I thought it was the sweetest thing we had ever seen in our whole lives. Then we realized our son had slipped off the couch and was down on the floor playing. In an instant his fever was gone and he was playing. Within another year or two, we became leaders of a house church in Shutka where miraculous healings were a regular thing and it grew more into our lives.

Our family has gone years without stomach bugs at all, but we’ve also seen stomach bugs, colds, etc. healed within hours, even moments. But things didn’t always happen so easily. Our one son was born in Istanbul 7 weeks early after I prayed that he would come early (because of a hard time with the pregnancy) if he could be healthy. We left the hospital after 24 hours. They couldn’t find a reason to keep him. The next child was born on time and at home in my bedroom in America.

The next was born 11 weeks early by C-section in Gaziantep. The doctors told me the day after he was born that he would die. I repeated to myself, “You will live and not die,” over and over holding onto Life and keeping my mind on things above. He is seven now, but that’s not the end of the story. They said he had a hole in his heart and would need surgery. It disappeared. They noticed his body reacting as if he was having a brain bleed. Since they had no equipment to scan his brain (we were in a city in Turkey), they moved him to the government children’s hospital. They saw he had bleeding in his brain. He needed immediate surgery. They didn’t have the part they wanted, but we later learned it was never needed. They postponed the surgery three days in order to get the part from Istanbul. I can trust God’s sovereignty over all that and it doesn’t get me upset and frustrated.

He has what’s described as “severe” brain damage due to this brain bleed. After two months in the hospital, I noticed one day that he wasn’t hooked up to any machines. I asked if we could take him home and was told no because he had lost his sucking reflex. The doctor said they had tried a pacifier and a bottle and to prove his point put his pinky finger in my son’s mouth and he didn’t suck on it, which would be the natural reflex. Now, I knew that I had defied orders and had snuck him out of his incubator a few weeks earlier, with my husband standing guard (we weren’t even supposed to touch him), and I had nursed him that day. If I hadn’t done that, I don’t know that I would have had the faith to argue with the doctor to let me try and nurse him. I made myself a pest until he relented and let me try. He nursed for half an hour and we signed release forms to get him out of the hospital against doctor’s orders, since he refused to believe me that he really nursed. We agreed to bring him back the next day to show he wasn’t losing weight and I brought him back with a nursing blister (which is a good thing)!

Fast forward more than a year and he wasn’t eating anything, only nursing. He gagged on water. I couldn’t get him to eat even really thinned out rice cereal. This also meant he wasn’t talking yet. The lips, tongue, etc. are involved in both and he had lots of motor issues caused by the brain damage. But when he was around eighteen months old, one day he just reached for my chocolate milk like he wanted it, so I let him try it, and he drank it. And that was that. He could eat and drink normally from that day. He never did have rice cereal or baby food. He just went straight to regular food from not being able to even swallow water. That also means he started talking and has never needed therapy for speaking – he has always been able to speak clearly.

He is still in a wheelchair, but we do believe any day he could rise up and walk. But we still see God’s miracles in his body. In December 2018 we saw a miracle after his doctor told us he needed surgery on his hips. The one hip had deteriorated to the point of needing surgery and the other one was close, so he told us to come back in a few months so that surgery could be done on both hips at once. He told us the condition only worsens. He said it was “impossible” to improve at all. I knew that wasn’t true because I knew My Father. When we came back, both hips had reversed. He agreed it seemed like too huge a change to be accounted for by a mistake in the x-ray or reading it.

I stand by my conviction that all we need to do is know God. If we really knew who He was, we’d love and obey Him, we’d love others, we’d live loved – at rest, knowing He’s good and for us and is unchanging and will never fail us. Holding firm in knowing who He is I call abiding. I sometimes think of it as being rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:17). You can picture a tree with deep roots. Sometimes it’s a peaceful idyllic scene with sun and cool breeze. Sometimes there’s a storm that’s snapping branches, but either way, you, the tree, stand firm in your place, roots secure in your knowledge of God’s love for you.

Short-Story Contest

Sharpen those pencils! The EP Short-Story Writing Contest starts in one week!

Pencil, Sharpener, Notebook, Paper, Education, Supplies

April 15th marks the opening of our short-story contest. This will be our second annual contest! A few things have changed in the rules, so make sure to check the Short Story Contest page. Entries must be shorter (500-1500 words) and they all must be submitted on Google Docs to keep them looking uniform.

Your story can be fiction or non-fiction, but if you are writing non-fiction, remember that it’s a story contest. Tell a story; don’t just tell about something.

On the contest page you can read last year’s winning stories. One of the first place winners was actually the first to turn in her story, so no need to hold out till the end. Our judges would appreciate not getting half the stories on the last day!

Submissions will be accepted from April 15th to May 15th. The registration link will appear on the contest page during that time. You’ll register once you have your story ready. I can’t wait to see your entries. Our stories last year got thousands of readers!

Have fun and get writing!

Short Story Contest Rules

More Miracle Stories

This week I told more provision stories. They were stories of how God answered prayer, moved in people, and moved in circumstances, all the while showing us He is our good Father, always seeing us, always for us.

There was a time we were going to be spending three months in Macedonia, and my husband and I each regretted not bringing something with us. We were talking about it and then I went into our bedroom, and those two things were sitting there next to each other alone in the middle of our bedroom floor. One was a mug my husband had regretted not packing, not something important, not something God cared about, but He cares a whole lot about people.

We learned that day to pray whenever we packed that the Lord would just put in our bags anything we forgot. We forget too much how He can and does take care of us. He must do so many miracles like that that we never notice. I told a few other stories about learning to pray first. We called a washing machine repair man who wasn’t going to be able to come for a few days. We realized we hadn’t prayed and the washing machine was fixed instantly. Another time computer fix-it people spent ten hours working on my computer and couldn’t fix the problem. I realized I hadn’t prayed and did, and it was fixed. I got on those stories because just two hours before I did my recording I was looking for something in the kitchen and kept looking where it belonged and my husband looked and one of our sons looked, and I gave up and moved on with dinner without it and then realized I hadn’t prayed. I apologized to the Lord and started praying. Walking back over to that same drawer I prayed, “Lord, please help me find…” I pulled open the drawer and it was just right there. I didn’t even have time to finish my sentence.

Once the Lord sent the miracle on the way before we even knew we needed help. Our phone stopped working, which was also our internet connection at the time. We were living in Istanbul. My husband didn’t want to take the day standing in line at a government office trying to report it and went out to go about his day and figured he’d tackle it another time. He left and there was a knock at the door. It was the phone repair man. He thought I was a lunatic as I asked him over and over again why he was there. He was like, “Is your phone not working? Well…” He had no idea why I was so crazy. God must have put us on his work order for the day before we even knew our phone wasn’t working.

Back when my husband left his work in Istanbul and we decided to work for Jesus and live without an income, the Lord sent us an encouragement, showing us a little glimpse about how He could provide for us. We didn’t need food or anything at the time; it was just an encouragement that He was in the decision and would be taking care of us. A man showed up at our apartment; he had never been there before. We don’t even know how he found us, but he brought us all the fruits and vegetables he hadn’t sold that day from his food cart that he used to sell in the streets. On his way over, he had stopped and bought treats for the kids, cookies and a whole cake. We ate that for dinner that night and our family gained an expression, “God provides cake too.” He doesn’t just make you eat your vegetables. God gives good gifts. He is a good Father. We have abundant life in Christ!

The final story of the week is of the time God gave us a glimpse into how He protects us. We had just arrived in Macedonia. Our now twenty-year-old daughter was only two then. She was very verbal, could speak in paragraphs. She and my husband were waiting alone at the bus stop to head into the Roma (Gypsy) village where his language teacher lived, where we would be living in the next year. It is called Shutka. My daughter asked him why those two men always came with them when they went there. My husband looked around and saw no one. “What two men?” She pointed to them. “Those two men. They always get on the bus and come with us when we go into Shutka.” They always did. This was just a time when He gave us a big reminder of the fact that we were always guarded.

Psalm 91:9-11 “If you make the Most High your dwelling– even the LORD, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

Money Miracles

This week I shared some more money miracles. Some were just “little” miracles. Three times strangers just handed money to one of my sons, each time the same son. One of the times was his birthday and it paid for the whole celebration. During this time we were living without income. We had left our agency and regular support. You can read that story here.

Another time on the way to buy bread for breakfast, we found a coin on the street which was going to enable us to buy as much as usual. Then the seller threw in extra for the kids. We thought we were lacking, but God turned our lack into an abundance.

Twice we received checks in the mail unexpectedly when we had a big expense. Most recently, just a couple of years ago, we had a big dental bill and over a thousand dollars came in a check from a German bank saying that we had overpaid our heating bill. We hadn’t been in Germany for more than a year and a half.

Once, while we were living in Turkey, we needed $40,000 to renew our visas because of a change in the laws there. (It was supposed to prove we could afford to live there. We didn’t need to have that much in order to live there because we had money coming in from my husband teaching languages online to homeschoolers.) We didn’t have the money. If God wanted us there, He was going to have to figure it out.

At the time we were living in the middle of a school for Syrian refugees, literally. The apartments above and below us had emptied out at the same time and we scooped up out. Within a day or two we got a phone call. It was a friend who had been kicked out of the country. We asked where she was; she said outside. She had gotten back in, bravely showing up at the airport and getting detained and questioned, but they ended up letting her back in. She was with a Syria pastor who was heading a little school for Syrian refugee children. The landlord where they had been kicked them out and they were looking for a new place. We had one. They grew into both apartments and eventually into ours when we left.

While in the middle of all this work for Syrian refugees, we one day met Joseph who was helping getting money to a town in Syria that had been cut off because of the war. One of the Syrians was going to take the money over the border. The problem was that they needed to transfer the money from his organization’s European bank to Turkey to get the money. The Syrians couldn’t have bank accounts, so he asked us if we had one. We did. He asked if he could send $40,000 to us. (I wasn’t sure telling the story online if it had been dollars. My husband says it was dollars and it was the exact amount like that.) We told him how we needed $40,000 and asked if we could use his money to prove we had money in the bank. He was happy it was going to work out so well! We got the money, got a bank statement, took it all out and gave it to the Syrian christian to go help his home town.

Another story I shared was how a Turkish official at the government hospital worked to get us Turkish insurance to pay for our son’s entire two-month stay in the NICU. We never paid anything that whole time. His heart was moved to help us. We certainly didn’t ask if that could happen. He said no foreigner had ever received Turkish insurance before. And he got it started retroactively to cover from the day before he was born. No one knew how to do it, but he called in favors, pulled strings, and had the grace of God on him.

The final story I told this week was of the time my husband’s ATM card got eaten by an ATM machine. The bank who owned the machine said they wouldn’t help. That card was our only access to our money in America. We called the bank in America and the man said they would overnight a card to us. That was that. Simple. The next day it didn’t arrive. We figured it was because it was a Turkish holiday and they weren’t working, but it was really important to us, so my husband called our American bank and asked about the card being sent. He was told that they couldn’t have sent a card. They were not allowed to. We got transferred to the manager. We tried to explain. He explained that they couldn’t send a card. It was impossible. We would have to physically come in to get it. We explained that we weren’t asking for a card to be sent. We thought it already was. We were just wanting to check on it. He looked at our account and there was a note that it had been sent DHL overnight express. He was angry. He asked who we spoke to. It was Dale the best my husband could remember. There was no one who worked there by that name. He was mad, and my husband just excused himself from the conversation. The card arrived the next day. If it hadn’t happened to be the day before a holiday, we never would have known a miracle had occurred. It would have just seemed normal. God gave us a little glimpse of what He does for us, when we might have never even realized it.

Look for the miracles in every day. God is always working for your good. God is always loving you, so you never need to worry about what He’s up to. Rejoice, give thanks in all circumstances. God is a loving Father who takes care of His children. The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous, but the house of the one who builds his house on the Rock stands. Matthew 7:24-27