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Birdsong on the Bad Days (+ Printable)

So far, our family have been enjoying our lockdown life. I am surprised how happy the children are and that they don’t seem to be missing their friends. Of course, they have their moments, but there has been a settled spirit in them. I think our daily routine of lessons have helped this immensely, as well as having a general routine for each day. Oh, how precious routines are! I realise now the importance of them, more than ever before. And it is something I am pondering during this time, hoping to have a plan for when lockdown lifts, how to keep this precious routine going.

Yet, we had one particularly rough day this week. It was one of those days when one or two of the family just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and it was a challenge to say the least. I spend much of the day in prayer, asking the Lord for help because I myself, was feeling particularly weak. I am so grateful that His power is made perfect in my weakness, and that I am free to give of myself, not counting the cost.

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One of the many steep streets we walked down (then up!)

It has been our routine to go for an hour’s walk from about 3pm each day. This day, however, I decided to take Josiah for a walk just on his own, knowing that he needed that special on-on-one time with Mama.

It was a glorious Autumn afternoon. The sun was warm, there was no wind, and the birds were out in their song. We were delighted to hear and see a native Tui which, usually, is found only in forests and bush. The new city we live in, Dunedin, has quite a lot of native bush within it, and so it is actually quite common for Tui to be seen. It was the first time in my life.

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Autumn colours everywhere.

As we walked down hill, through streets and bush, we chatted and discovered and listened. Both of us felt the peace of birdsong: these beautiful creatures that do what God made them to do – to be birds and sing for His glory. Their precious trust and simplicity always speak to me, and as we walked, I was just thankful for their audible praise.

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We saw the beautiful dark Tui with the white tuft.

The walk and birdsong restored our boy and he was much more settled afterward. Nature has always been, in particular, a balm to his soul. And on this day, it was the exact medicine he needed – as well as that special attention from his Mama.

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How hard and precious Motherhood is. It is crushing and stripping, but soul lifting and rich in joy. And there is something about the relationship between a mother and son that is unique and fragile. There is such a balance between closeness and space. I am so grateful this is all in His hands.

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A historic house of Dunedin.

The love of nature that my son has always reminds me of Wendell Berry’s poem which resonates with all who feel called into the wild. I have designed two printable pages for you of his poem ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ . I hope his words echo to you in this season as they have for many.

Click on the image to downloadwildthingsprintable1-page-001

wildthingsprintable2-page-001

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Monthly Unschooling Highlights: January

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I receive a small profit. Thank you!
We have had an amazing start to the year, albeit a bit rocky with some of the building work going on around here. Living in a construction zone definitely adds layers to our days with noise, contractors, Mummy heading outside to help Dad etc. But, it is a blessing in the long run for the children, and we believe that God is using this to shape their character (as well as ours, obviously!).

So in between all the renovation work, here are some wonderful highlights from this month in January from a Christian unschooling family!

 

+ Family Visiting: Both my brother and Father visited over Christmas and into the New Year. Some friend’s let them stay at their house on their farm to look after the house while they were away, so we were at the farm daily. Around this time the Australian bush fires were at their worst, and strange yellow clouds hung heavy in the sky all the way here in New Zealand. This created some good conversations and lots of prayer for Australia. There was also a lot of Pokémon card playing with their Uncle!
Later in January, my Mother visited also. Rosalie went with her to see Frozen 2 (the second time!) and we enjoyed visiting thrift stores and the beach. It was wonderful to spend time with her as we had not really been able to have a proper goodbye when we left Christchurch.
+ Otago Settlers Museum: The children had been wanting to visit this place since we arrived. Josiah has been so interested in the age of all the amazing historic buildings around the city, memorising which ones were the oldest. We were so impressed with this museum and I think our favourite room was the Gallery Room which held paintings and pictures of many of the early settlers. Josiah was fascinated with them.
+ Warm weather finally arrived and we have been to lots of beaches and enjoying our new natural home. Sometimes we have met up with other families, or we have just gone by ourselves. We’ve spotted creatures we’ve never seen before (shrimp!) and just enjoyed God’s amazing world.
+ Homeschool Group: After Christmas break, our group is starting up again. We mostly meet on Fridays for sport and play, but this year I hope to start a nature/outdoors group from mid-February.
+ Meeting the Otago Highlanders: Rugby has been such a massive part of Josiah’s unschooling over the last six months, so when we came across the 2020 Highlanders squad signing autographs we jumped straight into line! It was a dream come true! My Mama-heart was very thankful to the Lord for providing such a surprise for us and for filling Josiah’s boy-heart with happiness. It makes learning come even more alive.
+ Big Cats: Anything to do with lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards – anything Big Cats! I can’t remember how this began, but he has been reading many books about them and absorbing lots of facts and new ideas. We’ve watched a couple of BBC documentaries about cheetahs and jaguars, as well as some Wild Kratt videos. Josiah has read quite a few National Geographic Kids books and magazines, too.
+ Rosalie has been doing lots of art. This is not unusual but I have intentionally sought out art and craft books from the library, and we have had fun trying out new ways of doing art. I think our favourite has been using pastel and watercolour together. And we have enjoyed doing some craft activities, too.
+ Magic Treehouse Books: We have read about six MTH books this month. The kids have devoured them! And the adventures have often tied in with interests we have been looking into (eg. Sunset of the Sabertooth) and sparked new interests (eg. Afternoon on the Amazon). We love how short they are so our read aloud feels really attainable.

 

Of course, there have been so many other things that we have done, read, talked about, and seen. Much of life is not “documentable” and yet, is very much meaningful and all part of education. I love seeing all that we have lived in only one month and makes me thankful that our children are living such a full and joyous life!

What did you and your children enjoy this month?

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Our 100-Year-Old Villa + Our New Life

In October 2019, we sold our house in Christchurch and moved five hours down south to Dunedin. Caught up in the whirlwind of when God (seems to) finally act on all your prayers and petitions, we hardly tapped on doors and they flew open. It shocked everyone, not just ourselves, how quickly everything happened. Even three months before we moved, I would have laughed if someone had told me we would be living in a very run-down house on a hill in Dunedin. I would have laughed hysterically. Perhaps we should name our house ‘Isaac’, from Sarah’s surprised laughter.
The first weekend our brick home was on the market, we had five offers on it. Within in a month it was sold to one of those buyers. In fact, it was sold exactly ten years, to the month, of when we had originally bought it. Suddenly we had to find a house to live in, quick smart. So we drove down to Dunedin one weekend to see what was on the market. Unfortunately, not much and what was for sale was way overpriced. Tim was going to be studying for three years – how could we afford such places? And then, we discovered the green house.

The green house is over one-hundred-years-old. The floors slope downwards, the roof leaked, the foundations had sunk, the front right-hand corner drooped. The title of the real estate ad was ‘DETONATE OR RENOVATE’. We found out later, once we bought the place, that we were the only ones at auction that were not destroying the house.

Tim has had to put 21 new piles into the foundation of the house because it had sunk so badly.

 

When Tim wanted to look at the house one more time before we left that weekend, I thought he was joking. It smelled horrible, there was graffiti on the walls, it felt like it was going to fall in. But, that second time through, I cannot explain it…We had prayed and prayed for the Lord to guide us and help us find the right house for us. The only other house we thought was possibly good was a 1.5 bedroom home, on a busy street, and pushing our financial limit even without the necessary renovations that would be needed.
As we walked around, though we saw how bad it was (though I really don’t think we knew how bad), it is as if we both saw the house in the future. We saw it revitalised, restored, redeemed. We saw love in it again and family life.

Honestly, as I thought about it afterward, it felt as if this house was a Gospel-picture of every sinner and what happens when Christ saves him. The sinner’s rotten brokenness is forgiven, wiped clean and, not just that, but every aspect of him, from his very core, is given new life. I believe God gave us that vision for this house.

The kitchen is usable but needed a good clean before we felt safe using it. The floor slopes toward the window.

 

Fast forward three months, with two-and-a-half months of living in it, as beautiful a picture as that Gospel-vision is – the reality is still very broken. The days have been long and hard. In fact, quite easily, this has been one of the hardest external things Tim and I have been through together.
We have had some dark moments, literally lying in the dark, wondering what possibly could have God been thinking of when He led us here. My darling husband, who bears the brunt of restoring this house, has been going through the Refiner’s Fire and it has been a joy and a heartache to see him through it. I, too, have struggled deeply with living in mess and dirt and cold and, well, discomfort.
But, this life is so good. Eight weeks with no hot water – God was good and provided. Ten weeks without a shower in our own home – God was good and provided. No carpet, wonky floors, draughty windows, rats in the roof, bad weather, and anxiety and fear and vulnerability. BUT, I could list the blessings and joys threefold more than the struggles. 

 

When a Christian follows the Lord and genuinely walks in obedience where He wants him to go, this does not mean that it will be easy. But it does mean it will be incredible. Your sins and weaknesses will be exposed, and the lies you believe about comfort and rights and needs are laid bare before you. Something as little as how the weather affects your mood will be from the Lord and is an opportunity to submit to Him. Yet, there is so much grace in Him and I have found so much deep JOY and REST in Him, even as I eat ice cream and mint biscuits every night.

We cannot see into the future, of course, but something in our spirits tells us that we will be here much longer than the three years of Tim’s theological study. This house, as it becomes restored, will be an enormous part of our family story – especially the children’s childhood. How they see their parents tackle hard things and awkward living and plain rough days will echo into their adulthood. Our school mornings around a table that leans with the front of the house. Playing on plywood floors that constantly have a layer of dirt on them. Watching their father sweat and battle and accomplish. Seeing their mother help, support, and make do with what they have…

 

Though this house and our living in it and making it new is now, I can see that this has eternal significance for our family. Eventually, all this work will pass away when Jesus returns to call us to our True Home, the sweat and tears and frustrations will be investments in something bigger, better, and more beautiful – in Tim and I, and our children. But that is something to rejoice in as we persevere and endure and believe in hope.
For now though, we battle on daily in grace. Each day, we make a little progress and genuinely rejoice, however small it may seem in the grand scheme of things. But one thing we are learning very clearly from the Lord in this time is this: we only have today, let us be faithful with the little things.

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You Can Always Start Fresh: On Purpose, Daily Life, and Moving House

This past Thursday, we moved out of the house we have lived in the past ten years. Even though I have spent weeks slowly packing, decluttering, and cleaning, the day was ginormous and exhausting – but we did it. Tim, my lovely husband, drove the truck down south to the new city we are moving to – Dunedin – and our new house, the derelict 100-year-old villa on a hill. The children and I have come out to my father’s, a beautiful bay in a harbour. Very few people live here. It’s just the sea, the native birds, and clear and clean time.
I grew up here from about nine. Though born in the city, I quickly adjusted to quiet and slow country life and it has been in my blood ever since. I remember days at home, reading or writing, walking the hills or throwing rocks into the sea. I remember days at the beach doing nothing but play. I remember fishing, and exploring farms, riding horses, and just spending a lot of time in real life. By real life, I mean that which God has created and which has been life for people for thousands of years: slow, day-by-day living, anchored by the rising and setting of the sun and the meals eaten.
I have longed for country life ever since I moved back to the city. But, as yet, it is not what God has for me or our family. That is something I have to often lay down at His feet, trusting that He knows the yearnings of my heart. Though our new home and our new life is still in the city, Dunedin itself is a beautiful harbour city, situated over bushy hills. It isn’t a large city, and it has the old-New Zealand feel still. Our home on the hill overlooks a valley. And it feels as if God has given all of the family a piece of their dream altogether: convenience of city living, the beauty of hills and valleys and views, the relaxed way of Southern New Zealand, and a home with history. Honestly, we are just blown away by God’s kindness to us.
But here I am, still in Wainui for a few weeks, enjoying time in my childhood home with the children enjoying all the nature and stunning surroundings that I did. I am thankful for this time and I see it already as a time apart, ordained by God for us to rest, refresh, and restart our home life together. There is literally almost nothing modern to do here. It is only time outside, or books, or conversations, or walks, or helping Poppa garden, or kicking the ball around, and a little television.
For me, I am relishing time focused on the Lord. I have had a difficult year in my faith, and only in the last few weeks do I see Him easing me out of several valley’s. Hunger for His Word is coming back and I am seeing clear answers to my pleas in the passages I read, thrilling my heart and lighting that flame more fiercely. I also see God helping me to step back from all the busyness that has been these last few months and enable us to reset our purpose in homeschooling together and our daily life.
I’m asking myself,
What do I believe about our home learning?
What do I want for the children?
What do I need for me as a homeschooling mother?
What do I want to anchor our days together?
What am I failing in?
What am I strong in?
Where do I need to speak Truth to doubts?
What do I continue on in?
It is easy to get stuck in a rut, or to feel like you cannot get a hold over your days. It is easy to feel like we can’t do anything different because the term is half way through and we’ve hardly done anything we wanted to or we need to complete the workbook. But, actually, none of these things really need to determine how we spend our days. We can never kid ourselves into thinking we are in control of our lives, yet, God’s Word exhorts us to make the most of each day – to “number” them – so we are responsible for our purpose and our daily life. And we can always start again.
And, even though moving house – and city! – is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate daily life, I am reminded that each and every day is a fresh start. We can always re-evaluate, or start anew, or be refreshed. We are not bound by anything – not even the philosophy or curriculum we love. We are bound by the Saviour of our souls and every new morning is fresh with His mercies (Lamentations 3:21-25).

“Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” ~ Psalm 9:10

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A Homeschool Day: Stepping Back In Time (+ Life Update)

Today the children and I went to our local heritage centre with some of our homeschooling community to see what it was like when the English first started settling in Canterbury. I love, love New Zealand history. And, being a European descendent, settler history is a deep passion of mine. So I felt like this field trip was just as much for me as it was for the children!
It was a lovely morning, even when the weather turned a bit cold. Though we had gone to Ferrymead as a family a year or so ago, this time as an education group, we had classes and interesting activities to do. The first thing the children did was get dressed into their colonial outfits. And, honestly, they looked adorable! All us mothers were gushing over the children and dreaming of Avonlea days!

We learned what it was like to live as a settler. Before the first cottages were made in Christchurch, many settlers lived in tents or V-huts. They were the real deal of modern-day tiny homes. Around the V-hut we practiced cleaning, washing clothes,roof thatching, ironing, gardening, and sawing wood. My children loved the cleaning (?!) though they are allergic to it at home.

We saw what kind of toys children played with. We baked biscuits. And we looked around the quaint little cottages. As the children were playing, I walked around, taking in the simple goodness. Though I dream of living in such days, I am not unaware of the hard work it was. Yet, that life still appeals to me. Not just because of the slow and simplicity of life, but because of the goodness that was commonplace. From the way they raised their children to the way they made their clothes – quality was the backbone of their ethic. 

It was a fun, interesting, and exhausting day! I can see that both the children absorbed and took away different ideas and learned new things about the past. And I am positive they made connections of what they saw to their present day.

Life Update

As I mentioned a week or so ago, a new adventure is awaiting us. This past week, we made an offer on a house and it was accepted! Our potential home is an old gold miner’s cottage. Built in 1903, it is very similar to the houses we saw today, which made it more real and thrilling for me.
If this cottage comes through, God will be giving me a delight of my heart. I have always longed to live in a cottage. I cannot wait to bring all that I love – history, quaintness, simplicity, homemaking, gardening, quiet living, and thankfulness – to fruition in this new season in our lives. Hopefully I can share some pictures of our new home soon.

How has God been blessing your heart lately?

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An Honest Homeschool Post About Comparing and Feeling a Bit Crazy

I am just so, so, so thankful for the homeschooling community on the internet. In so many ways, we are homeschooling because of all the blogs and mamas I followed when our two were itsy-bitsy. Seeing them online and reading their words planted the idea in my heart, and the Spirit fed it over time. Now, on hard days, taking to Instagram and connecting with like-minded mothers makes all the difference for me. Honestly, God uses this whole new world for mothers for so much good.
Can I share with you my biggest struggle, though?
Comparison. 
For me, the comparison isn’t Oh, dear, I am such a failure kind of comparison. Rather, it’s a Oh my, I love what they’re doing, maybe we should do that? kind of comparison. Seriously, it must be a fear of missing out or something (which is apparently shortened to FOMO, something I didn’t know until recently). 
Like I shared in my last post (which, by the way, resonated with so many which is so encouraging), I have had Charlotte Mason dreams since the beginning. I love to follow CM-style mamas out there because the little Instagram-squares they post are so beautiful and so inspiring. I think I would have loved to be homeschooled under a Charlotte Mason philosophy, and dreamed one for our own home.
In the last few weeks, I have tried to do it again. Those beautiful squares were making me get giddy and longing to have my ideal realised. So I made a quick plan for the rest of the term and we got to it. And, you know what, it went really well. Much better than I thought it would, making me pleasantly surprised and happy. And the reason why it hadn’t worked before – my darling boy – actually did super well. 
And yet, I just don’t know

That’s been my stumbling block right from the beginning of this journey: I just don’t know what I want for us. All the families doing all the homeschool styles look amazing and inspiring and would be wonderful for us, too. So I have frog-jumped onto almost all of them. For a few weeks or months, we’ll be ticking a long doing unschooling/Charlotte Mason/unit study etc. but then, I’ll be inspired by others and change it all.

Is anyone else like me out there?
Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who can’t stick to something. I have heard this is common for curriculum – a mother always wondering if that other curriculum would be the missing puzzle piece to the ‘perfect’ homeschool. So far, that hasn’t been too hard (living in a far away country probably helps with that). But our homeschool style? I just can’t stick!
So, in the last two months, we have Five in a Row-ed, unschooled, Charlotte Mason-ed, and back to Five in a Row. I feel like I’m a little crazy.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a particularly inspiring ending to share, rather, I’m just sharing – what I feel is – a failure of mine so far as a homeschooling mother. Perhaps there is another mother out there who is the same, or a further-along mother can share some advice or encouragement to help me. I think I need it!

And for your information, this week we have been doing Five in a Row in the mornings and Interest-Led Learning for all the rest of the time 😂

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Five in a Row: The Blessings of Togetherness + Learning

In this post, I would love to share with you our experience so far with the homeschooling curriculum, Five in a Row. Released in 1994, it has been a blessing to families for many, many years. It may not look as exciting or nostalgic as other homeschooling curriculum/styles, but I promise you, it is well worth looking into for your family.

3 Reasons Five in a Row Will Bless Your Homeschool

Snuggles on the Couch with Good Books

Sitting down together with my children and reading good books is my number one favourite thing to do with them – and I think it is their favourite thing to do also! The closeness, the pouring over pictures, the words creating worlds in our minds, the giggles we have, the conversations that are sparked – books bring families together. And Five in a Row is based upon digging deep into books.
The books suggested by the makers of FIAR are excellent and picked for their beauty, depth, and perspective on the world. Of course, there will be some books that your children don’t love as much as others, but as a mother, it’s a blessing to be able to sit down with trustworthy and beautiful books.

Natural, Well-Rounded Learning

Five in a Row is essentially a literature-based unit study curriculum. This means that the book of the week, say Lentil by Robert McCloskey, is the basis of all activities of the week. When we read Lentil, because of the content of the story, music and the harmonica were something we looked into. The children had never heard the harmonica before, so watching some videos on You Tube was a great activity. For science, we studied a little about the tongue – the four main tastes we have – because Old Sneep sucked a lemon and made everyone pucker their lips!
There is nothing forced about the activities for each book. From art and culture to science and history, there are a broad range of beautiful and meaningful learning opportunities that are drawn from the story. And this is what makes the learning meaningful and lasting – the children can see how learning is, as Charlotte Mason said, a “science of relations”.

The Freedom of Flexibility

I learned fairly quickly that I am not a super structured homeschooling mother. Though I like freedom, I am not so relaxed that I don’t want some routine or intentional learning with the children. This is one of the reasons why I think Five in a Row has suited us – and me, the mother! – so well. 
Within each unit, there are around twenty activities to choose from. You can do as many or as little as you think will suit your children. Some people just use the manual and others supplement with Pinterest or lapbooks found at Homeschool Share. Some weeks you may be able to do a vigorous week of learning, other weeks only minimal. Sometimes we have gone a few weeks between books, and many times, we ‘row’ a book over two weeks and not just one. The flexibility of Five and a Row is one of it’s best assets.
As you can see, we just love Five in a Row. My children are 6 and almost 5, and I can foresee that we will be doing it for the next few years. There are more volumes for older children also, which we may very well go on to. 
My favourite thing about our journey so far with Five in a Row are the memories we have been cultivating together, with the books themselves and the things we learn and do from them. Nine months since rowing Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel (our first book we rowed), we still talked about it. I loved hearing my kids giggle through Cranberry Thanksgiving and hearing them repeat fill sentences after reading The Story of Ping.

If you’re looking into a gentle, literature-based curriculum that builds togetherness and organic learning, Five in a Row could definitely be the one you are looking for.

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Quieting My Spirit in Jesus (So I Can Love My Husband)

Here is a story about God leading me to trust Him so I can love my husband.

There has been a possibility of us going to England for a number of years now. Tim, my husband, has a passion and gifting for apologetics, and there is an excellent school there. When we first applied in 2017 (for the 2018 year), everything was so hopeful – people were encouraging, provisions came from left-field, and we were easily accepted into one of the college’s required. But then, the other university (Oxford, to be truthful) couldn’t accept us for that year, but would hold a place for us for 2019.
Fast forward to this year, we reapplied for both schools. After months waiting, we found out that we were declined at the main apologetics school because of things out of our hands. So we had to turn away Oxford’s place for Tim and, after two years of many up-and-down’s, we were back to square one. It was so confusing and disheartening…What seemed clearly something the Lord wanted us to do for ministry, apparently was not.
And then, things got more confusing.

A friend, with connection within the apologetics school, communicated to us that there had been a mistake and we were actually supposed to be accepted. We just needed to reapply again (for the third time). This, we found out in early March.
By this time, everything seemed so unclear that we had decided not to pursue this door, even with this new encouragement. There seemed to be no strong direction from the Lord. Furthermore, in the up-and-down’s of the previous year, both of us felt drained and thankful for a home to be rooted in.
I have an anxiety disorder and, for me, with all the uncertainties, my anxiety had flared up and I was struggling to even be open to going. Even though I had been the one to encourage Tim to do this, anything to do with leaving home (safe) and pursuing England (bad) caused me to shut down.
Overtime, I had built up in my mind all the negatives and, because stability enables me to function well, I began to see all the things that could cause me to find England very difficult. There was a source of tension between us as I could not even have a discussion with my lovely husband, who was so disappointed, because – in all truthfulness – all I could think about was me.

Turning to the Lord the other night as I went to bed early in a low mood, I opened my Valley of Vision, hoping for a prayer that would turn my heart toward Him and give me wisdom. I sensed that my resistance to England was only partly rooted in my genuine anxiety, there was sin lurking in my heart, and I didn’t know how to find it out. It can get dark in there.
Turning to the page ‘Shortcomings’, the following lines lit up the lurking darkness,

“My sin is to fear what never will be; I forget to submit to Thy will, and fail to be quiet there. But Scripture teaches me that Thy active will reveals a steadfast purpose on my behalf, and this quietens my soul, and makes me love Thee.”

My sin was not being anxious, but to fear what may never be. There are things that my brain does that I cannot control. But when I actively fear and train my thoughts upon what could happen, I sin. I forget to be quiet in the safety of God’s will where there is peace, even with chaos without.
I forgot that God’s will for my life as my husband’s wife is to be his helper. In so many ways, I seek to be a pillar of strength for him, even in my weakness. Going to England causes parts of my brain to trigger off my anxiety, but my will shut down my heart to the possibility. God’s steadfast purpose for me is to love my husband and “do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourself” (Philippians 2:3).
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So, we have reapplied. A few weeks ago, neither of us would have believed we would. But our friend asked us again…and again…So, we are listening. It all may turn out, again, that this isn’t God’s will for us as a family. And that would be perfectly good (we are homebodies, after all). But, if it is His will, I don’t ever want to not listen and follow it, despite my anxieties and fears. 
And that is what drives me, even with an anxiety disorder. I love my God, and I want to follow Him, wherever He may lead – even if it is a quiet life at home or flying to the other side of the world with challenges unknown. Sitting and submitting and trusting Him will always keep us quiet under the rest of His care, in those pleasant places.

friend, have you experienced something similar?

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See a Little of New Zealand With Me: Our Family Trip to Queenstown and Paradise

This past weekend we took a 7-hour drive down south from Christchurch to Queenstown. We had a wedding to go to which would span three days, so we were down south for five days.
We arrived in Queenstown – an alpine/lake tourist destination – in the late afternoon and were thankful for some good rest at a motel. The next morning we took an hour-and-a-half journey further south of Queenstown around the lake to Glenorchy, and then another half hour drive up a long gravel road.
I found a few photos that do better justice to this stunning place than I ever could (though I will be putting some personal ones up on Instagram over the next few days with some more thoughts about our holiday).

 Queenstown

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Glenorchy

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My husband’s longest friend was getting married in a very out-of-the-way off-grid farm where some of The Lord of the Rings and Narnia movies were made. It was absolutely stunning to say the least. We stayed in a one-room cabin that had no electricity, only a coal-range for heating, and a long-drop toilet out in a shed. It was eye-opening for the children to say the least!

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The cabin on the left is the one we stayed in. If you click on the ‘source’ link above, it will take you to the site of the place where we were. I so recommend it if you are ever that way down south in New Zealand. The people who run the Trust are friendly, caring, and don’t mind a four-year-old girl following them as they feed their animals.
It was great living like this even just for a few days as it added real-life understanding to so many things we have learned in all our homeschooling so far: how people lived long ago, how much we depend on electricity each day, and how much we love warm heaters! It is quite cold down south, even this early in Autumn, and the cabin overnight got very chilly! We wore many layers until about lunch, when the sun got too warm, and we were back to summer clothes.

After the wedding was finished, we left back for Queenstown for one more night and then drove the seven hours back home today. It is a long drive, but so beautiful. My heart was filled with thankfulness to God many times – not just for His creative beauty and artistic work, but also His goodness to our family.

Mt Cook

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I also wanted to add how incredibly grateful I am that we are homeschooling. I love the freedom it gives us to not only go somewhere, but that in becoming a homeschool mother and learning all about how children grow and learn, I see them soaking up all the things we have seen, done, and experienced. I see all the connections that are linking up in their mind to things we have talked about. I see their minds awake and thriving. I see the impact these two little ones have on other people and their perception of homeschooling. And I love, love, love that we can do this life together and that there is no separation between our family life and their educational life. It is so beautiful.