Thursday, May 30, 2013

Math, Science, Grammar, Literature, and Character (how do you teach part 3)

Do you teach math using the Bible?

No, we don't.  IF there is a math application in a story we are doing, like Noah's Ark then we will focus in on it.  But we do use a math curriculum.

Currently we use Teaching textbooks

Math 3 Teaching Textbook

We have used Math U see and do recommend it.
Alpha Instruction Manual and DVD

We have also used Rod and Staff Math. Also a good curriculum.

I like that with teaching textbooks the computer does all the teaching and grading for me, the teacher.

NOTE: I don't do any formal math until third grade. I just do life math and fun activities and worksheets until then. Usually around the age of seven my students are ready to start third grade math. My dyslexic students have gotten stumped at times with math, and have had to slow down and repeat concepts, but for the most part, once they start math we press on with it.

How do you teach Biblical Science?

We teach life application science, we also focus in on science in a Bible lesson, for example when studying Sodom and Gomorrah, we did science research to see if there was any evidence for what happened, and then we use Apologia Science.  I will admit I love Jeannie Fulbright's books best, and I don't really think a student needs to do any more science than what she offers.   I can't wait til her new books come out.

At the beginning of the school year I make assignment sheets for whatever book we are in. Each student is to complete these assignments on their own. Beginning readers are read the textbook by older students. Every other week or so, we do group activities and discuss the materials covered. We use the elementary/junior high books for our group lessons. High school students work through their textbooks completely independently, yet are expected to also participate in the group activities and teachings of the younger students materials.

How do you teach grammar and writing?

We do journals, blogging, and letter writing to teach these concepts. If I see a need for a student to learn a concept then I make up a class to teach that covers that concept. For example:

Recently, one of my students needed to be able to do a resume and application for a job. So, I made up a class and taught it to all my upper grade students as a group, and then gave them assignments to do.
I use Easy Grammar Plus as my teaching guide for the lessons I write.

How do you teach Godly Character?

Once or twice a week we read orally a chapter from either a character training book or a missionary story. We read the chapter and then discuss it. This is done in the evenings, and usually after the smaller ones are in bed.

Examples of books we have read:


Kisses from Katie

Honor book

What about literature?
When we first started homeschooling, I had a long literature list of books, and a library full of lots and lots of books.  But, in recent years, we realized that a lot of literature that we think is good and even necessary for our children's education, is actually not sound teaching when compared to the Bible.  So,  I still have a list of books and the kids are to pick books from it and are required to read them and write reports on them.  This list is smaller than it used to be, and always getting smaller.  I will try and post this list later, it needs edited.

Next week I will share about extra curricular activities and Unit studies. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How do you teach your kids?(Part 2) Confessions of a dyslexic teacher teaching dyslexic students

How do you teach your kids to read?

Over the years I have used many different methods to teach reading/phonics.  My first three students used ACE and Christi.  This is a fun and easy curriculum.  With my  next set of readers, I used Sing, Spell, Read, and Write.  This is also a fun and easy method.  I recommend it often.  The only reason I don't use these methods now, is I have changed to a Bible teaching method.  I have my little ones learn to read Bible verses and Bible stories. 
My first year of homeschooling was a bit overwhelming.  I had two students, Daniel age six and TylerAnn age 5.  I also had Rachel (4), Lydia (3), Brenden (2), and newborn baby Bekah. I was excited about that first year.  I ordered our materials, recommended by my sister.  The Paces looked fun and easy, and my students seemed eager to learn.  But soon there was a problem, my students were not getting it.  We would go over and over the letters and sounds, we would do all the activities and lessons, and it just didn't seem to be sinking in.  Oh, Rachel and Lydia seemed to be catching on to the reading thing, just by watching the lessons, but Daniel and TylerAnn just seemed to be always forgetting from one day to the next.  I was feeling like a failure as a teacher, I convinced myself it was my fault because I was dyslexic, I couldn't teach them.  My mom, an experienced homeschool teacher, encouraged me to keep at it, and to take the summer off.  I took her advice, and as we all relaxed over the summer the letters and sounds and words started coming together for Daniel and TylerAnn.  That next year we switch to Sing, Spell, Read and Write and Rod and Staff.  This was a great combination.  It wouldn't be for a couple more years that we would find out that both Daniel and TylerAnn have language based learning disabilities.  Daniel's is genetic and TylerAnn's is dyslexia.  But, what I learned those first few years will be valuable as God continues to bless our family with many different children with different learning styles.   The lessons I learned along with another experience a few years ago, have shaped our reading program.
About four years ago, I was doing a lot of research on the brain and stimulating new brain growth.  I love this kind of research (yes, I am a nerd in real life), and I was also looking into how I could best teach my kids that had severe brain injuries in utero and as infants.  I had seen parents and teachers that believed a child could learn beyond what the medical professionals believed possible do amazing things in children's lives.  I had been praying that God would show Jeremy and I the best way to teach our children, all of them.  Specifically, I was looking for answers for our son Davey.  He had suffered severe traumatic brain damage as an infant, and most of his brain was permanently damaged.  He was now almost six years old, and he had accomplished more than any doctors ever expected.  But,  did that mean he had accomplished everything he could accomplish?
  As I researched and prayed, I saw that there was  a big movement going on.  This was the teach your baby to read movement.  This movement was started as a result of brain study in infants.  It is truly a fascinating study (the creator of Monki See has some research information on her website, here.).  After reading so much on brain growth and development, I decided not only did I want to order a "teach your baby to read" program for Davey, but also for my newborn.  So, I started looking at the different programs out there, and found Monki See.  I liked the website, I liked the look of the materials, and I decided to call and see if I could get it for a discount, because I didn't have the funds for it.  The creator of this wonderful program (another Christian mommy) answered the phone, and after we visited a while she offered to send me the whole program free.  I was so excited.  I began having Davey(6), and his brothers, Jeremiah(5), Joshua(3), Zach(2), and Stephen(under 1) all working with the program.  They loved the program, videos, flash cards, and games.  (Davey had hated anything that felt or looked like school before this, and would shut down whenever  I would try and work with him on school type activities.)  They wanted to watch the videos over and over, and do the flash cards all day long.  Some of them seemed to be picking up the words quickly, and others just enjoyed the brain stimulation. 
I still use this program with my kids ten and under.  Of course, some of the boys are reading books now, but I find doing the program keeps their vocabulary growing quickly.  I find that phonics is learned naturally.  I will not say that this program on it's own has taught my kids to be fluent readers, but I can say that it has made the learning processes of reading easier and more enjoyable. 
So, how do I actually teach reading?

The materials I use.
Before I start teaching reading we use Rod and Staff preschool to learn our letters, numbers, and sitting still to learn.  We also just make up activities to learn letters and numbers.  Monki See also helps with the sitting still training.

Exploded the Code
I use Explode the code for phonics. Since I have dyslexia and so do several of my kids, I don't focus in on phonics.  I assign the kids two pages daily in Exploded the Code.  They do it on their own. My sister uses the online version of the Code and her kids love it. 

Rod and Staff readers grades 1-4  is what I use to teach sight word reading.

The Bible is our primary reader as I mentioned in last weeks post.  All my students copy from the Bible and read from the Bible daily. 
I also have them sit and follow along in their Bibles as an older student reads to them.  This builds their sight word recognition.  The better reader they become the longer they are required to sit and read orally to someone else.  For example, Jeremiah is a third grader and reads at a third grade level, I have him sit and read orally 15 minutes a day to TylerAnn.

How our learn to read program looks.
In the morning as the big kids copy and do their Bible the younger ones, use Exploded the Code and read orally from the Rod and Staff readers. I like the Rod and Staff readers, they are very Biblically sound and give the students a firm Bible foundation. They are well written and enjoyable to read. The student isn't just reading silly nonsense, but actually learning to read and comprehend from the very first book. I do not do the workbooks at this time with my students, because they do the copy work and other Bible studies with the rest of the family as their writing work. The workbooks are good and useful for training in reading comprehension and phonics. I would recommend them if you are not doing some other kind of writing assignments.
When a student can say the letters of the alphabet and can sit and focus, I start them on book A of Go For the Code.  I also start having them read unit 1 of grade one from the Rod and Staff readers.    Each of my kids have started at different ages.  To me learning and teaching reading is sort of like potty training.  Some parents are eager to have their child train to use the toilet and begin very young taking them into the bathroom and having them sit on a toilet, others wait and start them much later.  Both methods work, it is just a matter of how much time and energy you want to put into the training.  I am LAZY.  So, I wait until my children are ready to use the toilet.  This method works for me, my kid are usually completely potty trained in less than two weeks from the day we start.  This is the same method I use in teaching reading.  I wait.  Zachery just turned six last week, and he loves school and sitting and doing lessons.  So, I started him in his lessons before his fifth birthday.  All the rest of my sons, thus far, have been six before I started their lessons.  My girls have varied, Rachel and Lydia both taught themselves to read, before they were five, just by watching and listening.  Every student is different.
Once they start going through the lessons we customize the pace to the student.  Some students fly through the materials, and therefore I have them do several lessons a week.  Others need to work slower to grasp it and may only do a few pages and only one lesson a week.  The pace is set by the students ability, not their interest.  If I can tell they are just being lazy and need encouragement to move forward, we keep moving.  But, if they are truly struggling to get the concepts, we slow down. 
Each student works through the Exploded the Code books until they are fluently reading and comprehending.  Some stop at book 4, and others have gone all the way into the Beyond the Code series.  I have even had a student repeat a book if I felt they truly didn't grasp the concepts taught.
Each student reads every lesson/story in the Rod and Staff readers from grade 1 to grade 4.  If they are struggling to complete a lesson, I have them re-read that lesson for several days until it is smooth.  This builds their sight word vocabulary, and also strengthens their reading comprehension. 
You may be wondering if I work at such a slow pace with some students how do they ever get done with schooling.  It is my experience that all students come to a point where everything starts coming together quickly and smoothly.  When that happens they beginning moving through the materials very quickly and often catch up to students of the same age. 

How do you teach the severely dyslexic student?
Most of my readers have read in my past blogs about my own struggles with learning.  Here is a  post that mention my struggles.  I am grateful that God gave me good parents and many good teachers over the years.  When we finally realized that Daniel and TylerAnn both struggle with language based learning disorders, they had both already worked through their struggles and were readers.  What I learned from this was consistency pays off, and reading to my children makes a difference.  Since I truly didn't become a fluent reader until I was a teenager, I had a lot of catching up to do.  Not really, but once I began to read and understand what I was reading I couldn't stop reading.  I loved being able to read and learn knew things through the written word.  So, as a new mom I loved reading to my children.  I would read them children's stories, I would read out loud to them when I was reading the Bible to myself, or a even a book for pleasure.  They seemed to like to listen to me read, and so I would read out loud whenever I was reading something, anything.  My pleasure for reading cultivated a desire to read in them.  By reading all kinds of different materials to them I built their vocabulary.  I truly did not realize at the time what I was doing. 
Once I started teaching my kids to read, I kept at it.  This seemed to work with most of my kids.  Then Bekah came along.  Bekah is extremely dyslexic.  The whole alphabet was just a crazy bunch of shapes and squiggles to her.  I needed to find a better way for her to learn.  So, I read the book, The Gift of Dyslexia.  It was an interesting read, and I got some great ideas from it and their website. 
Here is some tricks I have learned for teaching the dyslexic student.

1.  Take it slow, but keep at it.
(there is no benefit to stopping and starting.  Find a reading program you like and use it and keep at it until you complete it, even if it takes two years to do a half years worth of lessons.  I have even repeated the same materials two years in a row, or I have used one kindergarten program for a year, then done another kindergarten program.  Take the time you need to in order to assure reading is fun and learned.) 
2.  Read to your child, have others read to your child.
 Read their science and history lessons out loud to them.  Have others read fun books to them, even chapter books.  Read the Bible to them and other character building books.  Just read and read to them.
(Read for fun, pleasure, and learning.)
3.  Don't teach in frustration, it overwhelms the student.
(If the student is stressed or overwhelmed, they can NOT read, a dyslexic student has to be able to relax and control their mind to stop the words, numbers, letters, shapes, etc.  from shifting.)
4.  Do relaxing activities before reading.  Deep breathing, Koosh  ball activities, even stretching.
5.  Make the words real to the reader.
 The Davis Program uses modeling clay to do this, but it can be done in many ways.  For each word your student needs to master, they need to create a mental image of that word.  They can do this by writing the word, drawing a picture of the word, and repeating the word and pointing to the picture.  Then they need to place that word in their mind, by placing the picture with the word in their mind. 
I do recommend the use of the Davis Program, but once you learn it, you can adapt it to work for your student.  Once you have taught your student to practice mastering a word, they can do it on their own over and over and quickly master lots and lots of words.

6.  Do NOT stress on phonics.
 Some dyslexic students do use phonics, but most master one word at a time.  As they master words, some dyslexic students will naturally grasp phonics concepts.  But as a rule phonics overwhelms them and causes them to lose focus.
7.  Take a break.
If your student is fumbling over words, especially words you thought they had already mastered, then they need a break.  For a dyslexic student to focus to read takes a lot more skill than the average reader.  So it can be very tiring.  They will get a headache and may even need a nap if they spend too much time reading.
8.  Have them write (copy). 
Have them copy letters, numbers, shapes, words, sentences, paragraphs.  As they write the words even if they don't know them they imprinting them on their minds.  After they copy the words, either have them read it to you or you read it to them , depending on their ability.  I usually use words from our Bible lessons, verses, etc.
9. Leave things around for them to read.
make lists, charts, recipes, anything and leave it for them to find and read.  Especially, if they are very curious they won't be able to not try and read it.
These are a few tips I have learned in no particular order.  I am sure there are many more.  I would encourage anyone with a child with any type of learning challenge, to research it on the web.  There is lots of good advice out there.  Then make a plan and stick to it.  Remember, if you keep positive and keep encouraging them, they will want to learn.  Learning should never be an overwhelming or frustrating experience for a beginning reader.  Relax and take it slow.

Next week I will share about how I teach math, and I will touch on teaching the dyslexic math. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

How do you teach your kids?(what curriculm do you use?) Part one: Teaching the Bible



People ask me about what curriculum I use, and how I teach all my kids.  To be honest, I have a hard time knowing what the right answer is to this question.  One reason is I don't use any one curriculum exclusively.  Two, I don't do school, like most people, even homeschoolers.  Three, I am not preparing students for college or even the work force.  I am teaching my children God's Word and trusting HIM to prepare them for whatever future he has for them.  So, when people ask me this question, I am not sure if I have a good answer for them.  If they are asking just out of curiosity than I am happy to share, but if they are asking for advice, I may not be the best person to ask.  If your goals are to have college bound students my method might not work for you. 
That being said, I will try and give those friends an answer who want to know about what curriculum I use or have used. 
NOTE:  Any materials, blogs, websites, etc.  recommended in this blog are written by humans.  Therefore, they are not perfect.  The only completely true, book out there is the BIBLE.  The materials recommended throughout this post are well written by God fearing people doing the best they can to share God's Truth.  Please remember to weigh everything in scripture for yourself.

I will be answering the following questions over the next several weeks:

What is Bible Copying?

What do you use for Bible/History Study?

How do you hide God's WORD in your students hearts, and how does dad get involved if he works away from home all day?

How do you teach your kids to read?

Do you teach math using the Bible?

How do you teach Biblical Science?

How do you teach grammar and writing?

How do you teach Godly Character?

What about literature?

Do you do extra curricular activities or other subjects?

Do you do unit studies?

For today I will try and tackle the Bible questions.

Let's start with BIBLE.  We teach Bible in everything we do, but we do use some curriculm and/or methods to do this.  The first method we use is Bible Copying. 
Deuteronomy 17:18-20
18 “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.
What is Bible Copying?  (EVERYONE does this, Kindergarten thru High school)

Here is a  link to information on Copying the Bible.  Basically, we follow the method presented by this family.  A student sits and copies the Bible word for word, letter for letter.  It is to be exact and done diligently.   But, we do a variation of what the Klein family does.
Here is how we do it in simplified steps:
We started copying at Genesis last year, but this year we skipped to Psalms, the older students actually copy a chapter from Psalms in the morning, and a chapter from Genesis in the afternoon.  If you think the Old Testament will be hard for your student to copy and comprehend then start in an easier book, but once they start a book have them complete that book. 

Step One: Read complete chapter to self.
Step two: Draw a picture of chapter.
  (currently I use these Notgrass Draw to Learn, but I am saving to buy Picture Smart Bible)

Step Three: Copy the chapter word for word, punctuation for punctuation.

Step Four: Have it checked by sibling or parent.

Step Five: Make any necessary corrections.

Step Six: Write journal page on chapter in same book as drawing.

NOTE: I will give assignments for grammar and writing in relation to copy work. For example: if they are copying Psalms we will do some poetry assignments or even music/lyric writing for the journal assignment.

When and how long does it take?
All students are to copy from 9 am to 10 am daily. High school students are to complete two chapters of copy work a day. A typical chapter done right takes an hour. Therefore, a high school student must make another hour in the day to copy. Junior high students need to complete a minimum of one chapter a day. Elementary students that are reading and writing independently, usually around grade 4, are to copy a minimum of one chapter a week. Younger, beginning readers participate in group reading two to three times a week, and then draw a picture and copy one verse from the chapter read during group.
How this looks with young readers:

Step One: Leader (usually mom) reads chapter to group and discusses it.

Step Two: Using divided copy books, students draw a picture as assigned for the chapter.

Step Three: Student copies assigned verse from Bible, if not yet able to copy on own then leader copies it into the book and they either copy or trace it depending on ability.

Step Four: Student reads verse to leader.

The copying of God's Word is not just an exercise of the body and mind, but it is a way for the student to really focus on God's Word and put it on their heart.

What do you use for Bible/History Study?

I am a history lover.  I have lots of different history materials in our library.  But what we use daily
is the materials written by my dear friend Anne Elliot.  She is a gifted Bible/History teacher.  I have learned so much from her. 
These are her books that I currently use, I recommend these to anyone who wants a complete curriculum and doesn't want to make their own lesson plans.  Her materials are simple, easy, and Bible solid.  You can use them with one student or a dozen students all at the same time.  They rotate and give your child a solid foundation in God's Word.
Cover - From Ancient Times
Because I tend to have to make life hard, I actually write my own lesson plans.  We currently are going through the Bible chronologically. We are moving at our own pace. We are using Anne's books as our guide. But we are doing every chapter, verse, and word. So, I either write my own guide for books or use other peoples materials. Below are some materials we have used as supplements so far. Anne's curriculum has recommended supplements, I do not use them all. But I do use Christine Miller's  I recommend these books by Christine Miller for use with elementary students.  You can read them to them or you can have them read to you.  The Bible based stories are adapted, so we read them then compare them to the Bible.  This is a good way to teach you children to recognize and seek truth.

Below are links to other resources I have used as I teach Bible and History.
 Another resource I am currently using is from Heart of Wisdom called Ancient History: Adam to Messiah.   I just got it a few months ago, and am still reading and studying it myself, but plan to use it more as I go.  I will talk more about Heart of Wisdom when I do the post on Unit Studies.
added 5/13/13

How this looks at our house:

For every book of the Bible we study. I study it first. I look for the resources I think will best benefit us in our study. I then make a study guide. Some books take as little as two weeks, and others may take us months to get through. From 10 am to 11 am students are to work independently or sometimes in a group through the study guide. Study guide includes maps, journaling, Bible reading, word research, memory verses and more. Each student is to complete these assignments on their own even if they have to work on it for more than the allotted hour each day.
Sample of Joshua study guide. 

Then once a week in the evening (from 7:30-8:30 usually on Monday night) we have group. We review their assignments and we discuss the material. We work on our memory verse for the week together. Often, we listen to a message or teaching on the chapters covered, or read a group book study on it. Currently, we are listening to the radio show by Rabbi Jeremy on the book of Joshua.

When we first started our study through the Bible I had planned to teach my students in a four year rotating curriculum style.  I was going to teach Bible, History, and Science incorporating writing, literature, and grammar into the lessons.  I liked this idea of rotating through it every four years so the students repeated the materials at different grade levels before completing their home education.  But, once I got started in studying the Bible and preparing lessons, I felt it was necessary to not rush it.  Rather than hurry through lessons just to get them done, I want to focus in on the lessons and make sure the materials I am teaching are being learned.  So, we are still in year one of my lesson plans even though the calendar has moved us into year two. 

How do you hide God's WORD in your students hearts, and how does dad get involved if he works away from home all day?
These two issues are very important to us.  First, we believe that God's Word should be memorized and readily available to use in our everyday lives.  Second, we believe that dad is the head of the home and that he should lead the home spiritually.  This second issue has not always been easy for us, since Jeremy works all day at a job away from home.  One thing that we had to give up to make this work is extra activities in the evenings.  By not running around in the evenings we have time for dad to be involved in our lives at home.  Another thing we do is put our kids to bed later.  Since we don't have to get up to catch a bus or anything, we stay up late with dad and get up later if needed. 

This link shows the method of study Jeremy uses to teach us two times a week from God's Word.

We do this study on Tuesday and Thursday  nights. Everyone even the little ones do it.

How this Bible Time looks:
Everyone grabs their Bible, there Dad Bible study notebook, and their buddy and comes to the living room.  Little, little ones get a hand held white board and expo marker (under 4). 

Dad set's up the white board in front of the living room.

Dad recites a verse from the passage he is teaching from, then we repeat the verse back.   We do this several times.  Until we all have it memorized.  We then take turns saying the verse.  Then we recite all the verse we have memorized from the passage we are studying, so far.  Once we get to the verse of the day, dad continues to read the verses one line at a time, and we repeat the lines back to him until we have all said the complete passage.

Dad then writes the verse of the day on the white board and teaches on that one verse. 

Then he draws a picture under the verse to help us remember the meaning of the verse. 

We all copy the verse and the picture into our notebooks.

A few examples of passages we have studied:  Isaiah 53, Matthew 5:1-12, and Ephesians 6:10-24.
That's basically our Bible plan.  Next week, I will share how I teach my kids to read, especially how I, a dyslexic teacher,  teach my dyslexic students.  Blessings.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Journying one day at a Time (Relying on God daily)


The following post is about the sensitive topic of mental illness, chronic physical illness, and the spiritual battles I have personally experienced in life. I want to share a few things about these types of battles in life, before you read my story.I believe that God created us all in His image (Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”).

Like God, (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) we are three dimensional, Mind, Body, and Spirit. Therefore we all have emotional, physical, and spiritual ups and downs. But what makes us different is how we live with these ups and downs of life. I also believe because of the fall of man, and the curse of the earth, man, and woman that there is sickness and disease in this world(Genesis 3 ).

  Furthermore, the more man strays from God the further depraved he is, and the degeneration of man continues(Romans1:18-32). Mental and Chronic Physical illness is real, and the battle for our souls is also real. But the children of God are given a sound mind and healthy body according to the Word(2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” ).
Often I see and hear in Christian and non-Christian circles a lack of understanding and compassion for the mentally ill and chronically ill. I think for the most part it truly is ignorance and lack of education, and maybe even fear that keep us from being compassionate. When we don't understand living with continuous pain or mental anguish we see these people as weak or lazy. Christians say things like, they must not have enough faith, or there must be sin in their life. I do believe that the Bible does talk about the weak of faith and sin causing us pain, but I also see in the Bible that not every situation were a person suffered was because of sin or a lack of faith(John 9). As you read my story below you may think I believe that through faith alone one can overcome illness. That is not the message of my post. The message of my entire blog is the same, Life is a Journey, and we also must walk the path God lays out before us. When I was going through my teen years and on into my twenties, I saw many doctors. I had many diagnosis, and most of them wrong. I heard everything from Lupus,Fibromyalgia , chronic fatigue syndrome, maniac depressive, diabetic, a rare immune disorder, and even hypochondriac, just to name a few. What I have learned in my journey is that doctors are just people trying their best to care for the sick. But, God is the great physician and designer of the human body. If we do place our trust in Him and then seek wisdom and counsel for our complete health he is faithful to provided just what we need. (John 5:1-9; Exodus 15:26

I will never judge or presume to know why someone is suffering in mind, body, or spirit. I do not think that because someone battles a mental illness and/or chronic illness that they are out of the will of God. Only God knows the heart. My job is to love Him with my whole mind, body, and soul and to love others. Loving others means praying for them, encouraging them to be all God created them to be, and supporting them in suffering and sorrow, and rejoicing with them in victory over sin, disease, and lose. So, now as you read my post of what God has done in my life,it is a story of hope and encouragement, not note a message, just a journey. 

As I shared in an earlier post, I was raised in a Christian home. My parents were radically saved when I was a tiny baby. Therefore, I had the privilege of watching them live out their faith. So, being raised in such a home, I heard and knew about Jesus very young. In this post, I hope to share the glorious ways God has been with me all my life. I hope to start at the beginning and share about faith, hope, doubt, fear, love, healing in both my spiritual, mental, and physical life. I will admit this is not an easy post for me to write. I even tried to bargain with God to not write it. But, it is what He has given me to write. So, in obedience and to give Him all the glory He deserves I will write.

As a child I was not always healthy and I had some learning disabilities. My mom took me to many doctors appointments. I was diagnosed and treated for allergies, asthma, ear infections, bronchitis, strep, and many other illnesses as a young child. When I started school it was quickly clear that I was behind the other children. So my parents diligently worked with me and paid for summer tutors, and I attended special education classes. In today’s schools, I would probably have had labels like dyslexic, ADHD, and maybe a couple more. But, I did not actual receive these labels until I was much older. To be honest, it never bothered me that I was not as academically gifted as other children. I enjoyed life, and I enjoyed playing and having friendships. As a young child, even though I could be sickly at times, I was busy and my mom said I kept her busy. Our house always had a lot of kids in it and I enjoyed playing with them, and helping them. I enjoyed helping around the house and doing chores. I also loved to hear about and learn about Jesus. I can remember as a very little girl, kindergarten age, praying with my Sunday school teacher to have Jesus in my heart. I remember she gave me a small Bible, and I thought it was wonderful. But, it wasn't for a couple more years that I really understood what it meant to ask Jesus to take away my sins, and what sin was. So, one night in my dad's bedroom I prayed and truly accepted Christ's gift of salvation and forgiveness. As I grew older I wanted to be all that God made me to be, and I wanted to live everyday for Him. But then something changed.

Life got hard. It seemed I was failing at being who God wanted me to be and who my parents wanted me to be. At the age of ten, I entered puberty and the world of womanhood. (Yes, I said ten.) I began to have health problems again, and terrible mood swings, extreme paranoia, and depression. My parents saw that there was something wrong with me, and they tried to discipline me, and guide me. They often felt at their wits end with me. I just wasn't the girl I used to be, was something my mom said to me one day. I felt like I was failing at this Christian thing. I was letting God down, I was letting my parents down. I was just not able to be the person I thought I was suppose to be. My mom realized that my health problems and my behavior problems were probably linked together. I was having difficulty sleeping, passing out, and feeling queasy often. So, my mom took me to the doctor. Tests were run. I was diagnosed with hormonal imbalance, and the doctor told my mom to put me on birth control. Being the wise woman my mother is, she did not take that advice. At that time, they also told my mom that I showed signs of hyperglycemia. So, instead of giving me birth control, my parents tried to help me manage my diet. This helped with many of the symptoms, but did not heal me.

So, as I went thru those wonderful years of adolescence and into my teenage years, I struggled with trying to find myself, just like all kids that age. I continued to be paranoid and often discouraged. Life was liKe a roller coaster. One day, I would be happy and helpful and full of life, and the next I was mean, sad, and overwhelmed with life. After a few years of struggling with this up and down life, my parents had enough. I made many bad spontaneous decisions, and often did things I wished I didn't later. My parents sat me down one evening, and asked me what they could do to help me. I asked them to send me to counseling, and they did.

At the age of sixteen, they sent me to a wonderful Christian counselor named, Laura. She did some of her own tests, and she came up with a diagnosis too. This was the first time I heard that I was dyslexic. But, not only that, she gave me a label that I did not want. She diagnosed me with Maniac Depressive disorder and hyperactive tendencies. I thought for sure she would want to start me on some sort of medication to control my mood swings and hyperness. But, instead she listened and counseled me in how to manage my diet. My mom also read a book at that time called, "Potatoes not Prozac.” Laura, gave me a chart that I was to fill in everyday. It was large. It covered everything from mood, behavior, eating habits, sleeping habits, and everything in between. She wanted me to keep track of everything, and learn to recognize my own body and metal health. This was the beginning of the journey to becoming the woman God created me to be. I desperately prayed that I could rid myself of the depression. Sometimes the despair during those times of depression was so overwhelming I just didn't want to live anymore. I can say truthfully, I never was suicidal, but there were times I wanted to give up on life. Just lay down and never get up. But, the highs could at times be just as scary. I often would swing up and find myself doing things and going places I knew I should not be. Only by the grace of God did I not do anything dangerous. So, as I tried to chart and follow the plan to better health, there still seemed to be a struggle going on within me.

But, it seemed I was gaining more and more control, or at least it seemed that way to me at the time. In reality what happened is I sort of hit a long high. This was around the time my parents moved to a new town. The summer before my senior year in high school. During this high I met Jeremy. Remember I said that during high phases I did and went places I knew better than to go. This was true as I went through this summer, and into the fall. I was in a new relationship with a guy I really liked, and who seemed to like me just the way I was. But, as the relationship developed and I was making choices I normally wouldn't make, I soon came down from the high and found myself in great despair. I felt a great deal of shame and guilt for the choices I had been making during the previous months. As often happens with the emotional downhill, I became physically ill as well. I was so sick that I was home bound for three months. During this time of physical illness and mental instability, Jeremy got to see all of who I was. He was ever faithful and never deserted me. Although, he was a new Christian, his loyalty to our relationship spoke volumes of love to me. He was a picture to me of God. I knew deep in my heart even as I struggled with all of the paranoia and insecurity that God was still with me and loved me. It was during this time of illness that many people were praying for me and I knew God was listening.

I began to slowly realize that God wanted me to be healthy, and whole. I started asking him to help me believe that I was. My physical body began to heal, and I was able to go back to school and work. I graduated from high school, and Jeremy and I got engaged. Instead of allowing my body to come to a point of complete healing, I jumped back into life with both feet. I started my first full time job the day after graduation as a habilitation instructor, I continued to work part time as a closing manager at McDonald's, and I also worked a part time respite job caring for special needs children. Jeremy and I made plans and got married in December of the same year we graduated from high school. Life was exciting and full, and then the depression and despair hit again. It hit so hard that I again became physically ill, I could no longer work or even manage life. Jeremy would leave for his full time job, and his full load of college classes. I would either remain in bed, or hide in our walk-in closet all day. I am sure this is not what he thought married life was suppose to be like. He would return at night and I would still be in bed or in the closet. Life had hit me hard, and I couldn't deal with it anymore.

During all these seasons of life, ever since I asked Jesus into my heart, and made the decision to follow him, I never forgot deep down who I was and who He was. As I went of to doctors and a counselor this time, I no longer could see things for what they really were. I had to rely on Jeremy and my parents to tell me that I needed help. I did NOT realize how lost and in despair I was. I went to the doctor and they suggest medication. So, on Prozac I went. I also went to see a counselor, she wanted to help me manage my ADHD. But, I knew deep in my heart that my physical and mental problems were something I needed God to heal. The truth was I had seen people healed before, and I guess I wanted God to just do an immediate healing. It didn't work that way though. No, God had a different way of working in my life to show me his power and healing. It was a daily reliance on Him.

Over the years, I had many pastors and elders lay hands on me and pray for healing. Each and every time, I knew God heard those prayers and was answering them. No it wasn't that radical I am completely healed instantly kind of healing. I do believe and have seen such healing, but this wasn't the kind of healing God had for me. No, instead, He had a plan to use me just the way he made me, and to teach me how to daily rely on Him.

So, back to the story. After a little over a year of being on medication, Jeremy and I both could see I was ready to step away from the medication and truly rely on God daily. We had already made a commitment to God to number our children, and we didn't want to harm any children that He might bless us with. So, against doctor's advice I went off the medication. I started a new season of life. In this season, I began each day praying that God would remind me that I have a sound mind, and to give me opportunities to be a blessing to others and to bring glory to Him. Was I healed. NO. The hormone imbalance was still there, the dyslexia was still there, the ADHD was still there. But, instead of seeing these as curses I started to see them as blessings. God could use me just the way He made me.

So, life moved forward and it was good and blessed. Yes, I had bad days like everyone else, but I seemed to have found a balance, and I knew if I lost touch with reality again my husband and family would be there to bring me back.

Jeremy and I went off to college, and then God blessed us with our first child. My mental and physical health were the best they had ever been. We had another baby, and the weight I gained with those first two pregnancy stayed on and helped me to be even more physically healthy. During those years of college and babies, it wasn't always easy, as most of you can imagine. But, God was with us and my mental health was sound and balanced. Then as my life switched from wife, school, job, and mom to full time stay at home wife and mom, the overwhelmed feelings came to attack again. Irrational fear and paranoia became my constant companion. I tried to pretend life was good and go on. We had a house full of children for me to care for, and most of the time I felt like I was completely failing them and my husband. But, I told no one. I became pregnant with Brenden and, I totally lost my mind. Seriously, I was so paranoid and crazy that I even at times thought about getting in my car and driving away from my life. I was aware that I was losing my mind, and after having Brenden I agreed to go back on medication for a while. I have chosen to tell all, so that those who need medication for any kind of illness can know that God works in many ways to bring healing and health to His children. I will admit when I am mentally unstable I think, I do not need the medication, and I don't want to take it. But, I have learned to trust my husband and my parents, and if they tell me I need help, even when my own mind is telling me I am fine, I trust them. So, for a very short time, I went on anxiety medication. Jeremy and I began to work on my anxieties together and I was able to again go back to relying on God daily.

Life began to take on a routine, which with all people, can bring peace. So, I found peace in creating order in our home. I began to have people enter my life that suffered from similar issues as myself, and I was able to be an encouragement to them. I found as I encouraged others, it also continued to keep me focused on God's work in my life. But something scary happened after I had baby Bekah. I began having massive migraines. (Migraines are common with hormonal imbalance, so I have had them since age ten.) I became paranoid again, but I didn't tell anyone how sick I am. (You can read the rest of this story in this post.) Finally, I can't keep it to myself and I ask the woman of my church to pray for me. As they prayed I felt the Lord begin to do His mighty work in me again. This time the balance doesn't happen as it did in the past. Instead, after three years of health issues, I become pregnant again, and during this pregnancy I am physically great, but mentally unstable. So much so, that Jeremy and I consider doing something to prevent anymore pregnancies. But, God had other plans and as I begin to rely on Him again, He shows Himself ever faithful. Life moves forward, and when I seek God and rely on Him daily I not only stay healthy, but I also am given opportunities again to minster to others who struggle with similar illnesses.

So, now I move forward to today. God has continued to be faithful to me even when I have become angry with Him, stopped relying on Him, and even when I tried to do things on my own. He has never left me, but there have been times when I have turned from Him. As we moved back to Michigan this past year, I became angry at God and in my anger I turned from His path for me. As I did that, I again became depressed and discouraged. I knew what the problem was and I knew I needed to confess my sin and turn back to God. This was not a one time pray and be done thing. I had to continuously release my selfish attitude and ask him to forgive me. He was of course faithful to forgive. I slowly have begun trusting in Him again. But as I went into this new pregnancy I was not fully relying on God, and I have had a great deal of paranoia and anxiety that is not of God. I knew I was not in a sound mental state, but I was struggling to get there.

That is when our new church was having a healing service. Mostly out of curiosity, but also wanting to pray for others, our family went to the service. With no plans to ask for prayer for myself, I went into the service ready to be in God's presence and pray for others. But, then it happened. Another woman went up front and asked for prayer for Bi-polar disorder. The pastor asked is there anyone else who is suffering with a similar illness. I was determined not to get out of my seat. But, I am not sure if it was God, Jeremy, or Tyler, but someone pushed me out of my seat. So the pastors laid their hands on me and prayed that God would bring healing. As they prayed my heart broke, and I knew it was time to return to full reliance on God again. I would like to tell you that I feel mentally and physically sound. But, the truth is I feel pregnant, and that sometimes involves sickness. What I can say is that I know who is LORD of my life, mind, body, and spirit. Do I think God can take my hormone imbalance away? Yes. Do I think God can keep me mentally stable? Yes. Do I think God can do whatever he pleases? Absolutely. But, you see the same hormone imbalance that causes me so much metal and physical illness at times, is the same hormone imbalance that makes me extremely fertile and able to carry my babies to a safe delivery. The same dyslexia that makes reading and writing sometimes a challenge, allows me to see life in a different way than most people. The same hyperactive mind that can cause me to be distracted at times, also allows me to handle being the mother of 12 children. You see if God takes away what man may think is a curse, then I actually lose a great deal of blessings. This doesn't even touch the fact that by learning to live day to day dependent on God allows me to grow in my faith and increases my witness of His Glory.

I praise and thank God for making me just the way He did.

If you suffer from PMS, anxiety, paranoia, hormone imbalance, etc.  this is a great article to check out.