Monday, June 15, 2020

2019-20 Homeschool Year In Review

Our 2019-20 Homeschool Year felt as if we spent the entire year, homeschooling in crisis. First, we were living with my brother, then we moved to our new home, and lived under lockdown throughout the global pandemic. Honestly, my goal was to simply get school done. Don’t get me wrong, we did what was required of us. However, I didn’t elaborate or dive deeper into various topics, because we just didn’t have the time or resources. Trust me, it’s not how I expected this year to turn out.

I’m thankful the Lord allowed my girls the opportunity to work hard and complete our main Sonlight curriculum sooner than I expected, because everything else was removed from our schedule. It wasn’t ideal, but we made the most out of what we had. For this reason, I’m so excited for our upcoming 2020-21 school year and pray we will have more time for extra projects, crafts, field trips, and more!!

Below, I’m going to share some of the curriculum we loved, some of my least favorite curriculum, and our current summer plans.

Sing, Spell, Read & Write. Hands down, one of my very favorite curriculums, is Sing, Spell, Read, & Write!! I’m going through it for my 3rd time and I enjoy teaching it so much. This year, Matilda worked through the Kindergarten program which went through the books “All Aboard” and “On Track”. There are six readers and more short books which kids get to color themselves. My daughter is so proud of the fact, she has finished reading her very first books by herself. It’s exciting to watch her love of learning and reading blossom before my eyes. I can’t wait for us to continue to use it next year as Matilda continues to learn to read on her own.

Sonlight. Honestly, working through Sonlight Core C was exactly what I needed this year. There are several reasons why this curriculum was a great fit for us this year. The curriculum is preplanned and comes with a teacher’s guide to help me know what need to be done each day. Also, I was able to order all the books we needed for the entire year. This was very helpful, because even though we moved I already had our books and just brought the with us so we could read no matter what. Finally, it’s a curriculum I have previously used and the familiarity helped me to be able to know what was expected of me and plan accordingly. What a blessing!!

From the time I started homeschooling my girls five years ago, I have always used “Math-U-See” for our Math curriculum. On the flip side, last year I heard a lot of great things about “Beast Academy” and decided to look into it for the girls as a way to work on mental math. We tried out their online program and my oldest daughter loved it. However, when we implemented the books at the beginning of our school year it didn’t go well at all. After a few frustrating weeks we finally switched back to Math-U-See. Maybe in the future we could use their online math program again, but for now we’ve put it on hold for now.

We homeschool year round, so we won’t take much time off for “summer”. Last week, we finished our main Sonlight curriculum. We will still need to finish on math, science, and other review books throughout the rest of June. Then my Mom is coming to visit, so we’re going to take ten days off to spend time with her and start our new 2020-21 school year on July 13.

Not to mention, to celebrate our new school year, I’m doing a back to school series throughout the entire month of July!! I have some fun things to share with you, including our new 2020-21 curriculum choices. I’m so excited!!

Now it’s your turn!! Please leave me a comment and let me know:
 What fun activities do you have planned this summer? 

Monday, June 8, 2020

My 2020 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets

For several years, I have been using the Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets Intentional Goal Planner. At the end of last year, with so much hope and excitement for the new year I ordered my 2020 One-Year Powersheets. I couldn’t wait to dive into the prep work and see what God had in store for me in the first year of this new decade. Back in January 2020, I had every intention to share my new Powersheets with you. Unfortunately, life got away from me and I’ve only just had a chance to write this blog post.

Maybe you’ve had a crazy year too and desperately need a refresh. If so, you can visit the Cultivate What Matters website and check out their 2020 6-Month Undated Powersheets Intentional Goal Planner. It is the perfect time to grab one of these, because it will help you live out the rest of this insane year with purpose.

Honestly, from the beginning I thought my word of the year should be LOVE, but as I thought through all my options I wanted something more significant and trendy. Why couldn’t my word of the year be something like Shine, Flourish, or Centered!? However, God has other plans for me and quickly began to reiterate His word of the year for me through songs, Bible verses, and more.

I kept praying and finally decided to embrace what God had in store for my life during 2020, as I landed on the word LOVE. Plan and simple. God wanted my focus to be on love. Loving Him and others. Being loved by Him. To love and be loved.

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 
 - 1 Corinthians 13:13

Also, in case you’re wondering, here are my goals for 2020.

1. Being loved by God and love for His Word
2. Love and cherish Jon
3. Genuinely love my girls
4. Write my book and share my story
5. Being healthy and teaching my goal weight

Lara Casey and her team at Cultivate What Matters have a lot of resources to help walk with you as you work to accomplish your goals each year. Lara has written two books (which I will list below) and she also has a podcast called, "Cultivate Your Life with Lara Casey". I've been listening to this podcast and I appreciate Lara's honesty about how life hasn't always been perfect, but God is making her mess into her message. Her passion is undeniable, so I hope you will check it out!

Finally, I have included a list of helpful, motivating books. I included Lara's books and a few others that have really encouraged me this year.

"A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living" by, Emily Ley
“Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life” by, Lara Casey
"Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy" by, Emily Ley
"Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose." by Lara Casey

Friday, May 29, 2020

10 Things I Learned This Spring

I’m so excited to take part in “What I Learned” hosted every quarter by, Emily P Freeman: an author, podcaster, and co-founder of Hope*Writers an online community for writers. I’ve been in lockdown/quarantine since mid-March. As a result, this spring 2020 I want to shift my focus slightly as I process the “10 Things I Learned during Covid-19” instead. I hope you enjoy this special twist and can relate to some of the things I’ve experienced this past quarter.

10 Things I Learned during Covid-19 

1. I love puzzles. 
It’s true, I love puzzles and I’ve always wanted my own puzzle table. At the end of last year, my dream came true! My brother-in-law, Josh, gave us back an old table of ours which I quickly decided would be the perfect puzzle table in our homeschool room. Now, we’ve been in lockdown since mid-March and we’ve put our puzzle table to good use. To date, we’ve finished 8 quarantine puzzles, which has helped us exercise our patience and perseverance with each and every puzzle. My sister-in-law, Hannah, even helped me finish a 1,000 piece puzzle in just one afternoon.  

2. Laughter is the best medicine.
Laughter has truly been the best medicine throughout this global crisis. The memes have been hysterical and bring me joy when I don’t feel overwhelmed and like I can’t do this anymore. We’ve also been listening to some hilarious songs, which help me not to feel so alone. Click the links below to check out their music videos now!!

3. Where is all the toilet paper?
Honestly, I never thought this would be an issue. However, shortly after the United States lockdowns began, all the the toilet paper started to disappear. There has never been a time in my life when I could not find toilet paper. Yet, this global pandemic has everyone spooked and suddenly all the toilet paper was gone. I prayed over our toilet paper and that it would be enough for all of us until I could find some again. I’m thankful, because the Lord answered my prayers and helped me to find a new package of toilet paper before ours ran out at the house. Praising the Lord for His goodness in our life!!

4. I’ve been craving comfort foods. 
Not knowing what groceries would be available at the store, made it hard to meal plan. I tried my best to stick to some simple staples which I had on hand. Overall, I’ve just been craving comfort foods like crazy: chicken pot pie, lasagna, noodles and sauce, Chinese food, and so much more! Not the healthiest foods, but I’ve tried to make do with what I could find.

5. Our 14 days of self-imposed quarantine was the worst. 
At one point this Spring, our family need to be in a 14 day quarantine and it was so hard. It was the most challenging for the kids, because we stayed home day after day, not going to the store or for our daily walk. I tried my best to have a good attitude, but by day 10, I felt like I was going to go crazy! I was just as moody as the kids and longed for a break. God protected us from the Coronavirus and gave us strength to finish strong. I couldn’t not have done it without Him.

6. We’ve finished lots school. 
We started our 2019-2020 school year later than normal. However, as a result of almost 2 months in quarantine we’re almost done with school. I’m very thankful for my girls hard work, which has allowed us to get so much homeschool done with just 2 weeks left!! Additionally, Hannah, was home a lot and she had fun teaching art to the girls. On top of everything else, I’ve even had time to plan out our curriculum for next year. What an answer to prayer!!

7. Zoom calls with our family has been priceless. 
It took a while for me to get on the Zoom bandwagon. However, last month Jon’s family decided we should do a Zoom call, so we could all be together. At first it was hard, but once my girls went to bed it was fun to spend time with family and “be together” with one another for a little while without the global pandemic looming overhead. As a result, we enjoyed it so much, we have decided to do lots of Zoom calls over the past few weeks. They’ve been such a blessing!!

8. So many packages.... 
Haha!! I almost didn’t want to write about this one, but it’s so true. The amount of packages being delivered to our house has grown exponentially since the quarantines began. Anything you can think of...diapers, wipes, school curriculum, necessary components for science projects, and so much more!! Seriously, it’s become such a regular occurrence, my girls will get upset if we don’t have any packages delivered that day.

9. I miss church.
We’ve tried our best to participate in online church, but it’s been challenging with the kids. It’s take awhile, but recently I’ve realized just how much I miss church. The gathering of believers, worshiping God, and growing in my love of God through a Pastor’s teaching. I’ve missed this so much and I can’t wait until God’s local church can meet again once this global pandemic has ended.

10. God is here! 
I’m not alone, because God is here. He has been faithful to Be with us each and everyday. I couldn’t do this without Him. He even worked out each and every detail for Jordan and Hannah’s wedding. He blessed them with the most incredible wedding and it was truly a testimony to God and His goodness. No matter what life looks like right now, remember God is with you. You’re not alone, because we’re all struggling to navigate this “new” normal right now.

Now it’s your turn, what have you learned this Spring?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Remembering Grandma Vivian

“The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” 
- Isaiah 40:7-8

This month, my Grandma would have been 92 years old. Honestly, it was hard to celebrate Mother’s Day and remember Grandma’s birthday all in the same week. It doesn’t seem like she’s already been gone for two whole months.

I miss my Grandma so much.

Back on March 10, 2020, my Grandma Vivian Bartholomew passed away at age 91. It was such an emotional week, because I had to say goodbye to my Grandma, Covid-19 lockdowns began in the United States, and it was my birthday. What a whirlwind. Thankfully, my Mom called on Sunday night asking if we wanted to say, “Goodbye” to my Grandma and give her my love. I went first and through tears gave my love to my Grandma. It was hard to see her struggling to breathe, but I knew she needed me to show my love to her in her final hours on Earth. Then I brought my phone into the family room, so all of my girls could tell their Great Grandma they loved her and say goodbye too.

I’m so thankful I was able to see Grandma one last time.

As a result, of the current Coronavirus pandemic my family hasn’t even had the opportunity to have a funeral service for Grandma. My Mom and her sister, Estelle, are waiting for the current crisis to end before celebrating Grandma’s life.

One of my favorite memories of my Grandma, happened back when I was in high school. My family traveled to visit my Mom’s Mom (Grandma Vivian Bartholomew) who lived in Springfield, Oregon. While we were in town, we also had the opportunity to spend time with my Mom’s sister and her family.

One day, I had been at my Aunt Estelle’s house and we were all getting ready to go somewhere together. Maybe the mall? I can’t remember. As we opened the doors to my Grandma’s car, my Aunt Estelle’s dog jumped inside the backseat of Grandma car.


My Grandma doesn’t like dogs and was mad he was in her car. She swore and insisted we get the dog out of her car. I was in shock!! I had never heard my Grandma say a bad word. Unfortunately, I was too shocked and dumbfounded to be of much help getting dog out of Grandma’s car.

Sorry Grandma. 

Even as Alzheimer’s Disease wrecked havoc on her mind, Grandma remained sweet, kind, strong, loving, gentle, and always reading a book. I’m so thankful to Grandma and her love of books. It’s truly a lasting legacy, which is being passed down generation to generation and won’t be easily forgotten. Just like their Great-Grandma, my girls are always reading books. I have so many precious pictures where my Grandma is reading a book or the newspaper to one of my girls.

Thank you Grandma for loving me and my girls so well. I love you so much and miss you terribly!!

Click here to read my Grandma’s obituary.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

God’s Faithfulness in Isolation

“ The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” - Psalm 34:18

For the past 14 days, we’ve been in a self imposed quarantine.

That’s right.

There was a possibility my family was exposed to Covid-19, so we decided it would be wise to quarantine ourselves for 14 days. Which included staying in our house and not going to the store or anywhere else where we could possibly pass this on to more vulnerable people. The days were so long and began to run together unlike anything else since the social distancing and initial lockdown began in mid-March.

We’re praising God, because none of got sick and we’re all healthy!! What an answer to prayer!!

For months, I’ve been nervous and worrying about this global pandemic. However, knowing this threat had reached my house was almost more than I could bare. It was hard for me to sleep, just waiting for the inevitable to take place. Even when I was overwhelmed, God was with us. I’m here to testify to His goodness as He gave me strength for each and every day.

My poor girls have been stir crazy. For the first ten days, we didn’t do anything except homeschool and other activities inside our home. In the finals days of our self-quarantine, we let the kids ride bikes and play in the driveway while we watched to make sure they stayed at our house. Yesterday, my girls couldn’t wait to ride their bikes all over the neighborhood and burn off all of their pent up energy over the past two weeks!!

As a result of our isolation, we’ve already finished 7 puzzles in just 6 weeks. Don’t judge us, but some 1,000 piece puzzles we finished in just one day. It’s a nice distraction when there isn’t much else to do.

This extra time also gave me a chance to plan out upcoming 2020-21 Homeschool Year. Jon even ordered all of our curriculum for next year, which was a huge thing off my To-Do List! Additionally, I’ve been organizing like crazy and trying to make room for all of our new books. I’m so excited about our new school year!!

As a result, we’ve received tons of packages.

One day we got excited for the boxes to arrive, we left goodies for the delivery man who has been working hard during this time of crisis. We all yelled, “Thank you” through the screen door. Truly any amount of human interaction was life giving to our weary souls.

In the final days, I had to go to the store, so I put on my mask and gloves to run to the store. Honestly, I felt silly wearing everything, but I didn’t want to spread germs to anyone else if I could help it. I felt ridiculous in my white mask and black gloves trying my best to not touch my face until I got back in the car and could sanitize my hands first. Life is so strange right now.

Off and on throughout our self-quarantine, I’ve been scared. However, God was with us. The Bible says, the Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. It was our theme verse over these long days at home. I’m thankful God will continue to be with us until all the worldwide lockdowns come to an end. Life might be crazy right now, but He is still God. He has not changed.

Praying this encourages you while we all continue to wait for this crisis to pass.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Launching My Monthly Newsletter

For weeks, I have been working on something new for all of you!! I am thrilled to finally share this news publicly. At the end of this month, I'll be sending out my very first Monthly Newsletter!!

Like I said above, my newsletter will be sent out at the end of each month. It will be an email filled with encouragement for your soul, delicious recipes, and other fun things I won't share anywhere else. Trust me, you don't want to miss this!!

As a result of social distancing, many of us are feeling isolated and alone. I want to offer you some extra encouragement during this time and a chance to have a break from the daily grind of life. I'm so thankful, God has given me the opportunity to pour into your lives in this way.

To Sign Up...

To sign up, visit my “Living a Changed Life” blog. Scroll down to the white "subscribe" box on the right. Enter your email and you will be added to my list of subscribers. Then at the end of each my you will receive my monthly email newsletter!! Sign up now, so you don't miss out!!

I'm so excited to stay connected with you in this way.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Homeschooling Q & A...Part 1

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, life has changed drastically. This must be so hard for those of you who are at home “crisis schooling” right now. The homeschool community is here to help you in anyway we can during this time. Last week, my sisters told me their children's’ schools have been canceled until September when the new school year will hopefully start again. I was devastated for my niece and nephews. On top of everything else, my sisters had lots of questions about homeschooling. I answered their questions and told them I would support them anyway I could as they navigate school at home. As a result, I decided to share all of these incredible homeschooling tips with you too. I hope it is helpful as you try to figure out your new normal with your kids being home all the time.

In case you don’t know, I’m Jen Newsham a homeschooling Mom of 5 girls!! I have been homeschooling now for almost 5 years. My oldest Olivia is in 2nd grade, Sophie is in 1st grade, Matilda is in PreK, and my twins Evelyn and Zoey are almost 2 years old. Long before I had children, God called me to homeschooling. Click here to read more about our Homeschool Testimony now.  I'm excited to connect with you!!

Finally, if you have additional homeschooling questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will try to get back to you as soon as I can. If I get a lot of questions, I will share them as well in a Question & Answer...Part 2.

Homeschooling Q & A...Part 1 

What time do you work on homeschool each day? 
We do Bible time and Reading with the twins, but then during nap time from 1-3pm, I do book work with the big girls. So Math, Language Arts, Science, and Handwriting. It’s too hard to try and help the big girls when the twins need my attention too. It’s what works best for us at the moment

How many hours a day, do you work on school? 
For the most part, I do school for roughly 3-4 hours per day, but it’s broken up into different periods of time. Bible time in the morning for 20 minutes. Book work from 1pm-3pm while the twins nap, such as math, language arts, science, and handwriting. Reading school books and the girls Read-Alouds from 7pm-8pm right before bedtime. Also, once or twice a week my sister-in-law teaches the girls Art for an hour or two. This is what works for us right now, while the twins are still so little.

Do you stager the kids work so you aren’t trying to help everyone at once? 
Olivia, Sophie, and Matilda work together on our group subjects like Bible, Read-Alouds, and Science. During nap time, we work on individual subjects and their “book work”. We do math first, because Olivia and Sophie can work independently while I help Matilda. Overall Matilda’s curriculum is the easiest, so I try to get her done first so then I can focus on helping the big girls with language arts. I have educational games and activities set aside as “school toys”, which Matilda can play with quietly when she’s done with school. Finally, Olivia and Sophie take turns waiting as I help them work through their spelling and everything else.

Do you do every subject everyday?  
No. On Monday through Friday, we work on Bible time, Language Arts, and Reading. Then we break everything else up, so Monday, Wednesday, Friday is Math. Tuesday and Thursday we work on Science and Handwriting. Once or twice a week, my sister in law teaches Art. Do you follow a lesson plan for Bible time or just read out of the Bible to them? I read the Bible or listen to it on my phone on the Bible App. Then we practice our memory verse and sing fun kids worship songs on my YouTube playlist. Then we pray. We keep it simple, because the twins are with us. Right now we’re reading through Matthew and do one chapter at a time and then talk about it together. I also created YouTube playlists with Kids Worship Songs, so we can sing our Bible verses and dance to Vacation Bible School songs. I've listed them below and you guys are welcome to use my playlists with all kinds of songs..Educational, VBS, and Disney Dance music.

**Jen's YouTube Playlists** 

What do you do with your twin girls when the big girls are learning? 
It can be a struggle, because my twins want to do whatever the big girls are doing. As we work together, I let the twins use colored pencils to draw. I also have puzzles, Lincoln logs, and board books they play with during school time. The Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Activity Pads are great too. Honestly, if the twins wake up early I have them watch Cocomelon on YouTube or another show which holds their attention for a little while until I can finish. I understand it's not ideal, but sometimes necessary under certain circumstances.

Additional Resources 
A few weeks ago, I compiled a list of “Free Homeschooling Resources”, which I hope will help you as you teach your children at home. There are fun story times from Space, art tutorials, exercise, lego stuff, worship, and more. If you have other online resources which you’re using right now, please leave me a comment so other parents can use it as well.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Our Thankful Jar

Three weeks ago, our lives changed in some very drastic ways. I lost my Grandma, a global pandemic was issued for Covid-19, I celebrated my birthday at home while social distancing, our vacation was cancelled, we lost power, we missed our friends wedding, church was cancelled, and so much more. I understand it could have been worse and I kept telling myself it wasn’t that bad.

However, I was devestated!

In reality, I was sad and grieving over all the losses I experienced in just a matter of days. I felt overwhelmed with anxiety and despair, not knowing how to properly cope with everything going on in the world around me.

On top of everything else, I started to worry about my husband (who is a commercial pilot) like never have before. Each day, I looked online to check the number of Coronavirus cases are in the states he was scheduled to be in. Long ago, the Lord taught me to trust Him with Jon's life as he works as a pilot. Unfortunately, I had a momentary relapse as I tried to regain control of my life in any way possible.

I continued to read my Bible and found comfort in God’s word and a willingness to pour out everything before the Lord. On Beth Moore’s twitter account on March 24, 2020, she said,

“Something I’ve done when my mind is bombarded with unknowns in a specific crisis. I make 2 columns with these headings: What I don’t know / What I do know. And I start listing. Though the list of what I don’t may get long, it shrinks beside the sheer divine power of what I DO.” 
 - Beth Moore 

I loved this idea!!

Quickly, I opened my journal and started writing two lists, “What I don’t know” and “What I do know”. It was hard to write down all my worries and questions. However, as I listed out what I know about God, it far out weighed my worries and concerns. This practice also helped to comfort my grieving soul. If you’re struggling with overwhelming circumstances right now, I encourage you to try this, because remembering who God is will give you the strength You need for each and every day in this new normal.

Honestly, when I am moody, my family’s mood shifts as well. In an effort to get us all back on track, I wanted my family to practice thankfulness again. So, I created a Thankful Jar. It’s nothing fancy!! I found an extra clear vase in the garage, then wrote “thankful on a piece of printer paper, and taped it inside the vase. Then I cut up pieces of white printer paper and put them in a snack bag labeled, “I’m thankful for…”. Our thankful jar lives on our kitchen counter. We’re using this jar, until we’re out of lockdown as a way to show our love and appreciation for those around us. The girls immediately jumped onboard and starting writing things they are thankful for on different pieces of paper. I had to ration out their paper, because I was afraid they would use it all in one fell swoop. I’ve been trying to do the same and write down things I’m grateful for each week.

As you all know, life hasn’t been anything like we planned this year. However, I can’t wait until this pandemic is over and we have a chance to remember everything God has been doing in our lives throughout these long and isolated months in quarantine practicing social distancing. Don't forget, God is always with you!!

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" 
- Psalm 118:29

Monday, March 30, 2020

Waiting Is Not Easy

As the Coronavirus rages around the world, I’m in lockdown waiting for the outbreak to become more manageable and allow us to move around without restrictions upon myself or my family. Honestly, everything reminded me of another season in my life when I spent a lot of time waiting. Can you guess what event I’m talking about?

My twin pregnancy!!

That’s right, back in Spring 2018 my midwife put me on “modified” bedrest for more than 10 weeks, as I waited for my body to go into labor, so Evelyn and Zoey could be born. If you want to take a minute and go read my twin birth story, I’ll wait until you get back. Just click here to read, "Evelyn & Zoey’s Home Birth Story". I just love birth stories and it’s awesome to remember how God was involved in each and every step along the way.

During my twin pregnancy, once I reached 30 weeks my contractions started to come more and more frequently. My desire was to have my twin girls at home, but if I wanted to do that I needed to reach 37 weeks and not go into labor early. As a result, my midwife place me on “modified” bed rest, which meant I would have to get off my feet every 1-2 hours for at least a half an hour or more. I could not believe what Lincey was saying!! Didn’t she know that I had three other kids to take care of and a husband who is gone for many days at a time as he worked in Dallas or Houston!? How on Earth was I supposed to do this?

I felt so discouraged.

For the next 7 weeks, my mission was to make sure my baby girls stayed put and let myself relax enough to ensure I wouldn’t go into pre-term labor.

Honestly, I was terrified my body would go into labor early while my husband was out of town. On top of that, waiting to see if my body would go into labor was hard. Every twinge, ache, and pain, which happens all the time during a twin pregnancy, I thought could be my body going into labor. Throughout those seven weeks, every time my husband was gone, I was often overcome with anxiety, fear, and worry. To me, the unknown is torture and waiting around for my inevitably labor was overwhelming.

During these days, I clung to God’s word. I wrote Bible verses on notecards and did my best to claim the promises in God’s word. One of my favorite verses is from Lamentations...

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."” - Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To God’s glory, I reached 37 weeks!! What a relief. As long as I continued to stay healthy, I could finally have my baby girls at home. I wish I could say they came right away and the wait was over. However, that just wasn't the case for me. I continued to wait another 3 weeks and 3 days until my body finally went into labor. To my delight, both of my girls were born at my house just as I dreaming about for months. What an answer to prayer!!

I’m wanted to share this story with you and testify to God’s faithfulness, because we’re all struggling right now in lockdowns and waiting for life to return to “normal”. The days are long and life is challenging as we try to find our new normal.

In my own life, it helps me to look back and remember what God has done in the past, because it gives me courage to walk forward in my current situation. Times are tough and I pray you would turn to God as you wait for this crisis to pass. Sit down and write out what you remember about who God is and what He has done in your life. As you remember God's faithfulness in your life, He will fill you with courage to help you be brave on the hardest days. I hope and pray, even though life is overwhelming, you will look for God in the hardships. Only then can the Lord begin to transform your sorrow into joy, which will be your strength in the coming days.

Don’t forget, waiting is not easy, but worth it.

Evelyn Rose & Zoey Faith

Monday, March 23, 2020

Free Homeschooling Resources

For the past four years, I’ve had the privilege to be a Homeschool Mom to my girls. You see back in 2010, the Lord called me to lay down my own ideas about traditional school for my future children and be willing to embrace homeschooling. Click here to read more about our Homeschool Testimony.

Honestly, it’s taken some trial and error for me to get my bearings, but after sometime we’ve finally settled into a good homeschool routine. We’ve had hiccups along the way, but I’m learning to be a better teacher everyday. In just a matter of days, COVID-19 has changed our lives in so many ways. Closing schools, restaurants, movie theaters, parks, and launching us into a season of Social Distancing. I can’t even imagine how most of you feel, as your own children are now home with you full-time for an undisclosed amount of time leaving you responsible to ensure they continue to receive an education.

Is anyone feeling overwhelmed yet?

All that to say, I’m praying for you. For God to give you patience and grace as you try to find a new normal for your family during this time. You are not alone. Don’t forget to keep things simple. You’re not required to do fancy Pinterest projects each day, especially if it doesn’t bring you joy and overwhelms you. Try to focus on the essentials and anything else you can work on with your kids is incredible.

Below I have complied a list of free homeschooling resources, which I hope will help as you teach your children at home. There are fun story times from Space, art tutorials, exercise, legos, worship, and more. If you have other online resources which you’re using right now, please leave me a comment so other parents can use it as well.


1. Art Hub for Kids This link will take you to Rob's website, full of video art lessons. He also has a YouTube channel full of art tutorial videos which we does with his kids.

2. Directed Drawing Videos This link takes you to a collection of Directed Drawing Videos where they teach you how to draw a variety of things such as butterflies, Santa Claus, polar bears, flowers, and more.

3. Free Disney Coloring Pages This link takes you directly to a list of "Classic Disney Coloring Pages". If you want Minnie Mouse coloring pages, just click the link and scroll until you find your favorite picture.

4. Lunch Doodles with Mo Williems When you click the link, it will take you to Episode 1 of “Lunch Doodles with Mo Williems” on YouTube. We are huge fans of the "Elephant & Piggie" books written by Mo Willems and our girls can't wait to learn how to draw different pictures from Mo himself.

1. 10 Online Exercise Classes for Kids This link includes 10 online exercise and yoga classes for kids as a way to move their body while they're home.

2. Kids Workout This link takes you to a 25 minute exercise routine program for kids and parents. It's a great option to help burn off some of your kids energy each day.

1. Free Audible Books This link takes you to an article with links which will allow you to listen to some of the free stories for kids, which Audible is offering as a Coronavirus has closed schools.

2. Josh Gad Reading Kids Books Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, is reading books to kids online every night of the Cornoavirus quarentine.

3. Read Aloud Revival Sarah Mackenzie's website has so many free book lists to help you determine the best books to read aloud to your family. She also has a Read Aloud Revival podcast with special guests and tips about making read alouds a priority in your home.

4. Storyline Online This is a free children's literacy resource featuring the world's best storytellers reading books aloud. Each video includes an activity guide with lessons for K-5 students to do at home.

5. Story Time from Space This is an awesome resource where astronauts read bedtime stories to kids from the Space Station.

1. COVID-19 Break Packets This link takes you to a Google drive full of packets for grades from Pre-K to 8th grade, which are full of math, reading comprehension, and more.

2. The Good and The Beautiful Nature Notebook. This is a free nature journal you can download and print off. It might be fun!

3. Keep Learning at Home Free Online Resources This link takes you to a collection of ten links for at home learning resources such as, PBS, ABC mouse, and more.

4. Legos This link take you to the Lego 30 Days of Play Challenge for kids. There is a different Lego challenge for kids to complete each day. I can't wait to use this with my girls.

5. Seeds Family Worship This resources is amazing, especially for families who are trying to do church at home. They have worship songs for kids, which you can use as memory verses throughout the week. My family uses a lot of Seeds Family Worship during our Bible time.

6. Scholastic This link take you to Scholastic's website to help parents teach their kids at home. Day by day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.

7. Sonlight This link takes you to all kinds of free resources for families whose children are home as a result of Covid-19. They have book lists, games, and physical activity ideas.

8. Virtual Field Trips When you click the link, you will discover links to 10 virtual field trips which your children can participate in from the safety of your own home. The San Diego Zoo, the moon, and the Great Wall of China to name a few.

1. The Good and The Beautiful This homeschool curriculum has a lot of free resources. Their Marine Biology science unit is free for you to download and print out at your convenience.

Monday, March 16, 2020

10 Self Care Ideas

Recently, I've been overwhelmed by the Coronavirus chaos taking place all around the world. Can anyone else relate? While so many of us are practicing social distancing, I thought it would be a great time to share with you how you can take care of yourself during this difficult time.

During times of stress and suffering, I put myself on the back burner in order to care for my immediate family. I wear so many different hats throughout the day, it's hard to make time to take care of myself, because it feels selfish and Christians aren't supposed to be selfish. Isn't it more loving, if I just focus on my family?

Thankfully, over the years God has shown me, the only real way I can love my family is to take care of myself. Sometimes I do this better than others! I hope these ideas will encourage you to begin to take care of yourself.

10 Self Care Ideas 

1. Reading my Bible 
Each and everyday, I make an effort to come into God's presence, because it is essential in my effort to daily take care of myself. I read my Bible, pray, worship, and memorize scripture. I'm a Mom of five little girls, so I never do this "perfectly". Most of the time, I'm squeezing in my Bible reading before breakfast while my twins watch Cocomelon on YouTube. I step away for a few minutes to be strengthened by God for the day ahead. Then, I listen to  The Bible Recap Bible Reading plan and podcast, while I work on unloading the dishwasher and making breakfast. The Bible Recap has been such an encouragement to me as I work to read/listen to the whole Bible this year.

2. Journaling 
I am a writer, who loves journaling. I've enjoyed journaling since I was a little girl. There are two ways I journal. First, I journal my prayers to the Lord starting with "Dear Jesus" and then pouring out my heart. Next, I journal what happened throughout the day and how I'm feeling. Trying to give myself space to process my feelings on paper. It helps me to be able to process my feelings when I see them on paper. It also helps me to unload my worries and fears before the Lord and physically leaving them with Him in my journal.

3. Listening to Podcasts 
I didn't grow up listening to a lot of audiobooks. Honestly, it took me awhile to be able to really like podcasts. However, now I have found some of my favorite podcasts, I just love them. They've become part of my daily routine. It's nice to be able to listen to podcasts as I walk around the house doing laundry, cooking, or cleaning. It helps me to be able to take a break from my kids and join in on some adult conversation about anything and everything!! Some of my favorite podcasts are...The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, The Next Right Thing, Business Wars, American Elections: Wicked Game, The Bible Binge, The Bible Recap, and so many more!!

4. Date Night with Jon 
For a season, going on dates with my husband was rare, because my twins were young and we were living in Hong Kong. We went back to our roots, when we were newly married without any extra money and focused on some at home dates. Now we've settled into our new home, we've been trying to have a date night at least once a month and it's been wonderful! So nice to get out and have a break with my favorite person on the planet. It won't always look the same, but it's important to make date night a priority!

5. Eating Healthy 
If I'm not making healthy food choices, how will I ever have the energy to care for my family? Eating healthy feels selfish. However, during times of crisis, quarantine, and social distancing, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. With food shortages throughout the country, you may not be able to only eat healthy foods depending on what’s available at your store, but try your best!!

6. Going for Walks/Moving Your Body
It’s important for me to get out of the house and let me kids walk around the neighborhood for at least 30 minutes each day. It’s critical for my sanity and theirs. Maybe you don’t have a neighborhood
to walk around, if so try to make time to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day. There are tons of free workout videos on YouTube, so there’s no excuse for not getting up and moving your body.

7. Drinking Water 
This is also a struggle for me. I live up at altitude and need more water than the average person. So, I have a water bottle, which is just mine and I refill it throughout the day to make sure I’m drinking as much water as I can. I also have an app on my phone, which lets me log how much water I have consumed throughout the day. This is so helpful, because I can easily forget how much water I’ve had it I don’t write it down or keep track of it.

8. Reading or Listening to Books 
I love books. However, being a busy Mom of 5, I don’t always have time to sit down and read books like I want to each day. On top of that, I wasn’t very good art listening to books either. Over the past few years, I’ve learned to listen to books from the library. I’ve listened to all kinds of audiobooks and I love it, because I can work on dishes or cleaning while I listen to a good book. It took time to get used to listening to books, but it’s so worth it now! You should give it a try.

9. Watching shows on Netflix 
Honestly, not many of us can be out and about right now. As a result, I'm so thankful for Netflix and other streaming services which let me relax and watch good shows or movies after my girls have gone to sleep. I try not to do this all day long, but it helps to relax and unwind at the end of each day by watching a good show. What are some of your favorite shows or movies right now?

10. Choose a Fun Hobby
My final self care idea is to choose a fun hobby such as coloring, building puzzles, knitting, cooking, sewing, scrapbooking, baking,  or anything else which you find fulfilling. In our family, I we work on puzzles together. I also have a bunch of adult coloring books, which I enjoy coloring in when I'm feeling stressed or anxious.

Now it's your turn. What self care ideas work best for you?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Remembering Eden Grace

Last week, I started a new Write the Word journal called, “The Garden: Nourish Your Soul” by, Cultivate What Matters. On the second day, the passage was Genesis 2:8-9 which says,

“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” 
- Genesis 2:8-9 ESV

These verses reminded me of my sweet baby, Eden Grace, whom I miscarried back in 2013. I can’t believe it’s already been 7 years. In honor of my precious little one, I would like to share Eden’s story with you. I wrote this story several years ago, but I hope it brings you encouragement and glorifies God who is always with us.

On February 27th, 2013, the week after Feminar, our local women's conference in East Texas, I had a miscarriage.

The Lord was gracious to me. At Feminar, He gave me a word of encouragement, which strengthened me throughout this hard time. During Feminar and even on the day that I lost our baby, the Lord asked me over and over again, "Do you trust me?" I'm thankful, I was able to put my trust in the Lord and to see Him take care of me on one of our darkest days. To our delight, exactly 10 months after my miscarriage, we welcomed our second daughter Sophie Joye into the world!!

She’s truly my rainbow baby!!

For years after my miscarriage, I felt like we should name the baby, we lost. In 2015, we finally settled on a name for our sweet baby, Eden Grace. Eden means place of pleasure or delight and Grace means grace. I love this name, because it reminds me even though we never got to meet our baby on Earth, he/she is waiting for us in Heaven! I can’t wait for the day that we can be reunited with our sweet Eden Grace.

In February 2017, I experienced a time of sorrow and really missing our baby, Eden Grace. As always, Feminar rolled around, right when I was missing Eden Grace the most!! To my surprise, on Friday evening, the Lord used Kasey Van Norman to speak right to my heart. It was amazing and only a God-thing when Kasey started talking about the Garden of EDEN and how God put eternity in man's hearts from Ecclesiastes 3:11. Then, Kasey said that our mission in life is to get back to paradise and that Eden is written into our hearts. I couldn't believe what I was hearing!!

Let me try to put the pieces together for you. I miscarried a baby that we named, Eden Grace. Now when I was missing my baby most, God was using the speaker at Feminar to remind me that God has given me Eden, not to make me sad. However, He gave us this baby so that our hearts will always long to be in Heaven with God and our baby!! God has literally put Eden in our hearts!!


I'm so thankful that the Lord met me in the middle of my time of sorrow and gave me a word of hope that will encourage me for many years to come!! God is in the business of taking our sorrow and transforming it into joy!! For my birthday in 2017, Jon got me this beautiful necklace as a way to always remember our sweet baby. I'm so thankful for this necklace it will always remind me of how God has used Eden Grace to teach me about His great love for me.

Praying for all of you who have lost a baby, may God wrap His arms around you and meet you in your sorrow.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” 
- Ecclesiastes‬ ‭‪3:11‬‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Friday, February 28, 2020

6 Things I Learned This Winter

I’m so excited to take part in “What I Learned” hosted every quarter by, Emily P Freeman: an author, podcaster, and co-founder of Hope*Writers an online community for writers. Honestly, winter was crazy for me and my family, because we just moved into our new home in Colorado. Thankfully, we were able to get our stuff unpacked quickly. However, it takes time to settle in after a big move. Ever since the New Year began, we've been honing in on a good routine for our family, which has given us time to work on homeschool while my twins are napping.

6 Things I Learned This Winter

1. Photoshoots in the snow with small children aren’t ideal. 
For Christmas, my brother-in-law, Josh, and his girlfriend, Katya, came to visit for for holidays. We were so excited, because Josh’s plan was to propose while he was in town!! Josh told Katya the plan was to take family photos, which was just a cover for the surprise engagement. The morning of the proposal it was really snowing outside, so we all got bundled up and headed to do our photoshoot. Honestly, it was freezing cold and in most of our family pictures my poor girls aren’t very crying and upset. We were happy to be there for Josh and Katya, but I won’t be doing another winter photoshoot anytime soon.

2. I can’t listen to true crime podcasts when I’m home alone. 
Every week, I listen to The Popcast with Knox McCoy and Jamie B Golden. Back in January, they released an episode called, “True Crime in Pop Culture”. They recommended lots of different true crime podcasts, books, and tv shows. I started listening to true crime podcasts before when we lived in Hong Kong, so I was excited to have some new true crime recommendations from Knox and Jamie. So, I downloaded some new episodes and starting listening. It’s safe to say, I listened to way too many true crime episodes, because by the end of the night I was scared and couldn’t go to sleep. From then on, I’ll decided to limit my true crime podcasts to when my husband’s home, so I’m not scared to death!!

3. “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” by, Gail Caldwell is a MUST READ. 
During one of my Hope*Writers Tuesday Teachings, Marion Roach Smith taught us about writing memoirs. She also recommended some of her favorite memoirs one of them being, “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” by, Gail Caldwell. I was so thrilled to find this book on Hoopla and started listening right away. I couldn’t put it down and listened to the whole book in just one day!! The way Gail shares about her friendship with Caroline Knapp is incredible. I gave it five stars on my Goodreads and can’t wait to read Caroline’s known memoir called, “Drinking: A Love Story”.

4. Taking care of myself, by making my writing a priority again. 
Last year, I joined Hope*Writers to gain support from a writing community as I write my very first book. It’s an exciting time and my girls can’t wait for my book to be finished, so they can buy it. They’re so funny. I’m thankful to be able to make my writing a priority again as I write on my blog, email my girls, and write in my book. I am a writer and I’m thankful to God for helping me to remember who I am.

5. Don’t question Colorado’s ability to produce snow. 
Recently, my family moved to Colorado. In the first week, we snowed for four days straight. I love snow! Honestly, I was excited to have so much snow which welcomed us to our new home. Then, things seemed to taper off and we didn’t have as much snow as I thought we would in the coming months. We didn’t even have a white Christmas. What’s the deal? So I started thinking to myself, “Come on Colorado can’t you do better than that?” In just a matter of weeks, I’ve learned I should never mock Colorado, because in February we have had record snow fall and for over two weeks. My bad!! I will do my best to not question you again. #snowfordays

6. The stomach bug sucks. 
We’ve had an unwanted visitor the past week, the stomach bug. I did not invite him into our home, but he came to visit and wreak havoc upon our lives anyway. Everyone was sick, no one was spared. Each time I thought it was over, I cleaned and sanitized everything praying this would be it for us. Only to be woken up at 1 am to find, someone else was throwing up again. So many sleepless nights and caring for my girls allowed them to “share” the stomach bug with me, my husband, and my sister-in-law. I tried my best not to get mad, but there comes a point when you’re just over it. Praying for healing for my sister-in-law Hannah and that this stomach bug would leave our home, never to return again.

Now it’s your turn, what did you learn this Winter?

Monday, February 17, 2020

My Love for Hong Kong and China

My precious family in Hong Kong (Februrary 2019)

Back in August 2018, my family of seven sold all of our belongings and followed God’s call on our life to live in Hong Kong, while my husband flew for Hong Kong Airlines. Jon and I have always had a deep love for Asia, specifically China, as we have had many family and friends who lived in Hong Kong and China over the years. To this day, many of them are still living in these countries. Even though, we're already back in the states, my heart in heavy for our loved ones in Hong Kong and China during the current Coronavirus outbreak. We get updates from them daily and try our best to encourage them, even when life feels overwhelming for them.

They told us, China was going to implement a revised method to track people infected by the Coronavirus. On February 12, the day the new method started, China reported 14,840 new coronavirus cases, which was a massive jump from previous reports. In total, there are currently 60,390 confirmed cases worldwide, including 1,370 fatalities. Thankfully, this new tracking method has allowed China to have a better picture of how many people are infected. Click the link to continue to track the Coronavirus.

Last week, I read these “Final words from Dr. Li Wen Liang” and I think it's important to share his story in his own words with you. Honestly, I’m so thankful for Dr. Li Wen Liang!! Praising God for his goodness in Dr. Li Wen Liang’s life even as he faced death, leaving Wuhan, and his family. After you finish reading it, I’ll remind you of a few ways to continue to pray for the people around the world begin impacted by the Coronavirus. It's going to be a long road for them. They will need our support and encouragement over the weeks and months as they ride out the aftermath of this outbreak. They need us now more than ever.


All across China, people are talking about Dr Li Wen Liang. He was the doctor who discovered the novel coronavirus and in the early morning of 7 Feb, 2.58am, he was promoted into glory and went home to be with our Father in heaven. 

Back in December last year, he was arrested for being a whistle blower 'spreading rumors' about a mysterious pneumonia like virus. This morning we found out he was infact a fellow brother in Christ. Our hearts are deeply moved by his sacrificial choice to spread awareness about the virus despite the risks he faced, especially to his reputation and to his own health. 
He continued to care for patients up until he was infected himself. What a legacy to leave behind of what it means to be like Jesus to those hurting in a time of crisis. 
He chose to be an example of Immanuel, 'God with us' to the people of Wuhan. 
Can you imagine the joy he must have felt as he entered into eternity and heard the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant"? 

So today, please pray for his family, especially his wife who is also infected and 8 months pregnant with their second child. May God heal them supernaturally n give them grace, peace, strength and comfort during this time.

Dr Li Wen Liang penned a deeply touching Chinese poem below of how he would miss his family, his beloved Wuhan n quoted 2 Tim 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

"The Hero Who Told The Truth"

Here is a captivating, heart-touching Chinese poem I've tried to translate into English. It was written in memory of Mr Li Wen Liang, a Christian doctor and whistleblower who died from the coronavirus himself after being punished for issuing the first warning about the deadly coronavirus outbreak. 

"I don't want to be a hero.
I still have my parents,
And my children,
And my pregnant wife who's about to give birth,
And many of my patients in the ward.
Though my integrity cannot be exchanged for the goodness of others,
Despite my loss and confusion,
I should proceed anyway.
Who let me choose this country and this family?
How many grievances do I have?
When this battle is over,
I will look up to the sky,
With tears like rain."

"I don't want to be a hero.
But as a doctor,
I cannot just see this unknown virus
Hurting my peers
And so many innocent people.
Though they are dying,
They are always looking at me in their eyes,
With their hope of life."

“Who would have ever realised that I was going to die?
My soul is in heaven,
Looking at the white bed,
On which lies my own body,
With the same familiar face.
Where are my parents?
And my dear wife,
The lady I once had a hard time chasing?"

"There is a light in the sky!
At the end of that light is the heaven that people often talk about.
But I'd rather not go there.
I'd rather go back to my hometown in Wuhan.
I have my new house there,
For which I still have to pay off the loan every month.
How can I give up?
How can I give up?
For my parents without their son,
How sad must it be?
For my sweetheart without her husband, 
How can she face the vicissitudes in her future?"

"I am already gone.
I see them taking my body,
Putting it into a bag,
With which lie many compatriots
Gone like me,
Being pushed into the fire in the hearth
At dawn."

"Goodbye, my dear ones.
Farewell, Wuhan, my hometown.
Hopefully, after the disaster,
You'll remember someone once
Tried to let you know the truth as soon as possible.
Hopefully, after the disaster,
You'll learn what it means to be righteous.
No more good people
Should suffer from endless fear,
And helpless sadness."

"I have fought the good fight. 
I have finished the race.
I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness."

2 Timothy 4:7, Holy Bible


Please join me in prayer.

1. Pray for Dr. Li Wen Liang’s wife who is 8 months pregnant and also infected with the Coronavirus. May God heal them supernaturally and give them grace, peace, strength and comfort during this time.

2. Pray for believers in Hong Kong and China, who are there during this tumultuous time. Ask God to help them be a light to the Hong Kong and Chinese people, even on days when they’re overwhelmed and discouraged.

3. Pray for doctors, nurses, and all medical professionals to have divine wisdom to know how to care for their patients.

4. Pray this virus passes quickly and lets the Chinese people get back to life as usual.

5. Pray, God would be glorified in all of this, because He loves the Hong Kong and Chinese people and have not forgotten them.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." - 2 Timothy 4:7


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