Consider the Ravens

Photo Credit: Andreas Krappweis

Photo Credit: Andreas Krappweis

Samuel and I have been enjoying watching, identifying and generally learning about birds lately. I’ve been very interested in exploring the spiritual lessons we can learn from birds both by watching them in nature and by reading about them in the Bible. As such, I have started a topical study of birds in the Bible.  I busted out the concordance and the journey has begun.  I’m eager to share some of the things I discover along the way. I hope you’ll join me as I start with this first, famous lesson from the ravens in Luke 12.

“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow, nor reap; they have no storeroom or barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable are you than birds! But seek first His kingdom and these things will be added to you.” ~Luke 12:24, 31 emphasis mine

It is so interesting to me that all of these verses about worrying are sandwiched between a story of a greedy, rich man, and a call to sell all and give to charity.  Jesus is telling us to focus on the kingdom above from a place of wealth OR a place of poverty.  We must put our trust in Him only.  We cannot become comfortable in our wealth nor should we worry about lack. All comes from God.

As I watch our birds this week, and “consider the ravens” I want to think about what this means practically.  I guess the place to start would be to focus on cheerfully serving God (just like the birds with their beautiful morning melodies), and allow him to show me what to do with all the “stuff” weather it be plenty or scant.  What about you? What do these verses mean to you? What can you learn about the ravens? What happens when you consider their ways? What do you think about this passage in it’s greater context?

Transplanting the Withered Soul

photo by onthegogo

“The sower went out to sow his seed, and as he sowed some . . .seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” ~ Luke 8:5a, 7-8a

Today is June 15, 2014. I’m sure I won’t post this today, but the date of writing is very important. You will see why. 

Look up there ^^. What do you see? It’s my blog’s title and tagline. “At Jesus’ Feet: Learning daily from the Master Teacher.” To be honest, I haven’t been a good student.  The last four years of my life have held the greatest blessings, but have also held a great many challenges. I have struggled through many trials, and unfortunately, I have let these thorny difficulties choke me out.

I am so thankful that the Master Teacher is also the Master Gardener. He is pulling the weeds in my life – exterminating the thorns and transplanting me into good soil. In the process, some of my roots have been damaged, but he cares for me. He will continue to tend me and by his hand I will grow and “produce a crop a hundred times as great”.

Throughout this process, I have been learning about myself. One thing I know for sure is that I am a thinker, a learner, a researcher and a teacher and I care deeply for people. It is these very traits in me that make blogging so valuable. You will be seeing more of me, but things will be different.  As I write, I want to be truly candid and share with you some of the same kinds of things I have been sharing all along.  You will still find posts about gardening and homeschool. You will still read devotionals and reviews. Many things may look similar.  The difference is that I will lose the fluff.

You see, fluff is the very weed that has grown and tried to so tightly strangle me in my life. We live in a world where so much information is at our fingertips.  We can quickly time something and at it to our blogs or facebook and garner immediate feedback. We can google anything and find out best methods and practices.  We can learn anything, anywhere, anytime. So much of what we discover, however, is mental diarrhea, and sifting through and consuming it all clogs our minds, sucks or time and causes us to strive for a reality that is simply unattainable (and very often, undesirable when we really stop to consider).

It is my desire to truly share with you what I am learning from God, but in a way that adds value. I will be writing regularly to fulfill my own needs to learn, process and share, but I will set limits.  I will edit and research and take time so that the posts I add are quality – things that fertilize rather than choke.

I am excited about the ways God is working in my life. thank you for being a part of the rids as God transplants this withered flower into the good soil of His love.

Preschool Homeschool: Why I Ditched the Alphabet

If you are mom to a preschooler and are eager to homeschool you probably do it. I know I do it. I’m pretty sure we all do it. We scour the internet (mostly Pinterest), looking for cute alphabet and themed activities to get our little learners off to a jump start. We may plan a week around the letter B, going on bug hunts, putting bug stickers on a letter B and making all kinds of bug crafts. If you are like me, you even order a curriculum complete with everything you need to teach your toddler or preschooler well.

I know the research. It talks about the importance of delaying structure, of letting children learn at their own pace, of not pushing too hard. Suddenly it all clicked. I was loving this academic side of learning, but it wasn’t how Samuel learned best. His mind is not quite so systematic. He likes things in smaller chunks, and while toilet paper spiders might be cute, he would much rather develop his fine motor and creative skills not being so confined at craft time. (I still might make a spider beside him, and he might want to follow suit, but halfway through he might abandon the spider and decide his tube would make a much better excavator – and that’s OK.) Samuel is excited about learning letters, but at his own pace, not through systematically learning a new symbol and sound every week.

Everything was becoming stressful for both of us and it was clear that Samuel was academically bored . . . so I ditched the alphabet and the structure, and the amount of learning going on exploded! Don’t get me wrong. I’m still being very intentional about learning. We have one time block every day when brother is napping. It’s still our special one-on-one “homeschool” time, but he chooses what we do. Some days we play outside or cook together In the kitchen, other days we read books and find YouTube videos about topics that are particularly interesting. Still other days we play games or work on art projects, play with alphabet magnets or even do work book pages. I make sure he has all sorts of things available to stretch his mind and open his world.

I was initially having a hard time writing this blog so I talked to the camera. That seemed to work a lot better. You can watch the video to find out more and check out the links below for more info on the importance of waiting to do more structured school with your kids. If you already think this type of approach is right for you and your little one but are afraid of what others will say, try it for a month, and keep some of the great resources below handy to share so you can show them the importance of starting slow.

School starting age: the evidence (an article posted by the University of Cambridge)

Research finds no advantage in learning to read from age five (article posted by the University of Otago)

Children Teach Themselves to Read (article published in Psychology Today)

The Benefits of Delayed Primary School Enrollment (a research report published by Wellsley College)

Better Late Than Early (a book by Raymond S. Moore. – contains a lot of research)

The Dangers of Early Schooling (a paper by Raymond Moore)

What do you think? What articles and information have you found to be helpful as you choose your homeschool methods and tactics?

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The Rearview Mirror: June 2014

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Samuel took this photo of Arlen in his running gear.

June in our home has been a time of transition. While we aren’t 100% sure what all the details and outcomes will be, we are content and eager to see what God has in store.

At the beginning of the month, Arlen was building his current business, which is completely portable. We were seriously looking into moving just outside of Boise, Idaho. We really want to have a place with more land by the time Samuel is five, and for so many reasons, Idaho seems like a great fit for us. Yet, it seems God has different plans. Unexpectedly, an amazing business partnership opportunity came up for Arlen. We truly see God’s hand in this change of events and we are all eager for what is in store, but it has certainly been a mental adjustment for us as we move our property search back to the area instead of far away in Idaho.

Arlen has also joined his dad and siblings in the wonderful world of running. He is training to run a half marathon with them in October. So far, he is up to five miles at a pace of 9 min 15 second per mile. He typically takes one or both of the boys with him in the stroller when he runs.  We are all cheering him on and are eager to see how he does in October.

I was excited to finally start physical therapy this month. I’m bummed about all my current restrictions as I give my muscles a chance to heal, but I’m excited! I really feel that I’m with the right person to give me the care that I need. There is a light at the end of this tunnel! :)

Samuel has been learning more about life as a big brother. He gets frustrated when Timothy knocks down his block structures, takes his toys, or follows him around too much. What big brother wouldn’t? It has been fun to watch his patience grow as he continually sets a loving example for his little brother.They are such great friends, and I particularly enjoy watching them play together more and more as Timothy gets older.

Both boys enjoy going to the farmer’s market every week, playing in the rocks and bird baths and looking at the beautiful flowers.  This month they even got to see a goat milking demonstration.

Timothy has been working hard at popping out some teeth. Currently he has three with a bunch more on the way.  His vocabulary continues to grow with words like “tractor,” “kitty,” “truck,” and “apple sauce.” He is still all smiles and is such a laid back little boy. However, if he can’t have a toy he wants or he has to stop playing for a diaper change, we can see that he is a strong willed little tyke (certainly not a bad thing, but it will keep us on our toes). He loves to explore and seems to have a bit of the Byrd dare devil in him.

June has been good in the Byrd house and I’m eager to see the blessings God has in store for July.

Kickin’ Awesome Ouch Spray: for cuts, scrapes and bruises

I hope to be back on this blog more soon. I’m praying about direction and continuing to work on a routine that keeps my family first, but also gives me an opportunity to write. :). In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in this post for a great homemade first aid spray from one of my other blogs.

Kickin’ Awesome Ouch Spray: for cuts, scrapes and bruises

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God Cares About the Little Things

I have NEVER lost a library book. Ever. Until today. I was shocked to find a snake book missing from our return stack. We have an outing planned for today complete with a picnic, playground visit and a trip to the library. How could we possibly be missing one of the books that is due back?

We have a small house, so it’s pretty hard to lose things. We have spent all morning moving furniture and exploring every last nook and cranny. Could it really be lost? How does something dissappear? How could I be so irresponsible? Would they put me on some sort of library black list? Should I purchase the book plus another one to return to the library along with my sincere apologies?

I had to stop my quest to tend to my youngest’s nap time needs, yet my mind was still racing. Finally I admitted defeat, “Lord, I have no clue where this book is. I have looked everywhere. I can’t find it, but I know you see it. Please show us where it is.” As I continued to prayed and give my worries repeatedly to God (it’s amazing how often I never actually let go), he began working on my heart. I finally chose to believe that He would help us find it. Maybe not today, but soon.

All of a sudden it dawned on me. I looked behind Samuel’s dresser, but I didn’t look under it. I used to lose tons of things under that very dresser when I was little. Sure enough, there it was!

To think – my faith is so small that I was willing to let something as small as a lost library boom ruin our special family outing day, but that book mattered to God. It mattered to Him because it mattered to me. I must learn to trust Him first. Hopefully one day soon I will learn to trust Him first so he can take my worry from me.

March 2014

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I’m always so happy to see March. With it comes spring and tastes of warmer weather. We have been enjoying our many opportunities to be outside. Timothy especially enjoyed a wagon ride and creek splashing along the greenway. He stood up in the wagon proclaiming “Eeeee! Eeeee!” (his happy sound) all along our walk. He is beginning to communicate more in his own way. It is so fun to see him blossom!

Samuel has big news too! He is officially potty trained! He has done so well and had a quick transition. His current record is seven days with zero accidents! That is so good. He even stayed dry for our excursion to the zoo, which brings me to more fun in March.

Arlen’s aunt Phyllis was able to visit all the way from New Mexico. We enjoyed walks and chatting. The highlight of the visit was a trip to the zoo. Samuel doesn’t remember visiting the zoo when he was younger, thus he was excited when he saw all the stuffed animals in the gift shop. He thought THAT was the zoo. You can imagine his delight when I told him we were going to see real, live animals. For him the highlights of the trip were the carousel, watching the little zoo train, feeding the goats, the koi pond and the “bunny rabbits” (aka fennic foxes). Timothy enjoyed seeing all the people, crawling around when we would let him, and banging on some sitting blocks that were placed throughout the zoo.

Arlen started tilling the garden, which means the garden will soon be planted! I’m so excited! This year I’m focusing on making the garden fun for Samuel. We are going to have a bean pole teepee, a digging spot, butterfly feeder, toad house and all kinds of fun nooks and crannies. We even have a mushroom log so we can grow our own Shitakee mushrooms. Yum! One addition we will all love is the rainbow flower garden. :). This will be my first attempt at growing flowers other than pansies and merrigolds, so we’ll see what happens.

With the garden underway, we also signed up for this year’s CSA. I’m supper excited to see what fresh goodies we will have to accompany what our own little garden produces. I’m excited too as our weekly box will also contain fresh flowers and a home-baked loaf of gluten-free bread. Yum!

March has been a busy month. It’s hard to believe that April is already upon us, and along with it, Timothy’s first birthday. Where has the time gone?