Archive for Livin’ & Learnin’

Baby Runner on Board

A friend of mine recently ran her first marathon and blogged about it. After reading her incredible story, I saw a link called “Run Like a Mother” which had a post about a mom of 12 who was training for her first marathon. As I read about this mom with 3 biological kids and 9 adopted children, there is one thing she said that greatly inspired me.

“running is definitely my “me time.” There’s no kids, no phone, no emails, no laundry, no dishes, and no one that can need me to do anything. It’s a beautiful thing!”

Since having Nehemiah, I have found it very difficult to exercise. Sometimes, as I try to do Pilates, the kids come and try to sit on me or just ask questions. Nehemiah already gets up very early and I am not willing to get up earlier. Also, he is a light sleeper, so he would wake up. I have been doing Wii Active, but I was still frequently interrupted by the kids or had the dull roar of them in the background.

So reading this motivated me to do something I had thought about doing for a long time…start running.

I am only taking baby steps. So far I am up to running 2 blocks…pitiful, I know, but it is a start.

After all if a mom of 12 kids under 14 can do it, then a mom with 8 kids under 16 can do it too!

What about you? Is there something you’ve been thinking of doing and just wasn’t sure if you could? Start today. Take baby steps.

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Where You Lead

I was talking with someone the other day about my posts on adoption. She gave me some advice about adoption. She told me how you should never adopt a child older than your youngest child. It is detrimental to the birth order. Statistics have shown this to be damaging to children.

I kind of stared at her blankly.

While I agree that this is true, I don’t know that it pertains to our situation.

If you are trying to increase your family size and add children into your family, I agree…don’t adopt children into your family older than your youngest.

If your son’s best friend is in serious need of a loving home environment, please do not inform him, “Sorry, you are older than our youngest child, so you need to live in your harmful home or on the streets.”

If God has put a child in your life and He has told you, “Adopt this child as your own.” Do not tell that child, “Sorry your too old.”

I need to make something perfectly clear…

We are not seeking to adopt. We are only keeping our hearts open to having other people’s children in our daily lives. This may mean feeding a neighbor child pancakes for dinner.

Or cheering for a football team that we don’t have any children on. Or maybe someday, it might mean having a child into our home who doesn’t have a safe place to sleep. I really don’t know.

All I know is that we are saying to God, “Where you lead us, Lord, we will follow.”

What paths do you not follow because studies have shown, or statistics say, or your friend says that it is not wise? What ways have you followed God in spite of what society would have you do?

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Choices

The other day, I was at a football game for my oldest son, Josiah. Petra had brought a water bottle, and her older brother Elijah took a drink from it. Petra then went into a hissy fit. She stomped her foot and screamed. We were in the process of walking to the other side of the field with the game going on and me trying to keep everyone together. Although I told her to stop, she continued with her tirade. After getting all the kids settled, I had someone watch the other kids while I took Petra out to the truck.

Once in the truck, I told Petra how she had a choice. She could continue with her screaming and pouting and sit in the hot, stuffy truck with me, or she could put on a smile and go and cheer on her brother. I told her the choice was hers. After a minute, she chose to rejoin the human race and cheer on her brother.

This little incident makes me think of how God is with us. He gives us choices. When we make bad choices, there are negative consequences. When we make good choices, we have positive consequences. The problem is we, as a society, spend a lot of time taking away the negative consequences.

  • We overeat. Instead of having a stomach ache, we take some medicine or diet pills, or vomit.
  • We have sex when we aren’t ready for a family. We abort our babies.
  • We don’t spend time with our kids. Then we wonder why they don’t want to spend time with us in their teenage years. Oh, that’s right, that is what is expected from the American teen.
  • We eat crap, smoke, drink, and sit around watching TV, then expect someone else to pay for our exorbitant medical costs.

I could have scolded Elijah for taking a drink, or gone and gotten her more. I could have told her it was all going to be OK…console her. I would have if she had chosen to have a good attitude. But she made a bad choice. She put the drink above her relationship with her brother. She made everyone around her miserable because of her needs.

If we are to love others more than ourselves, then we must learn that there are consequences to our actions.

What choices have you made and tried to take away the away the consequences? For me, it is food. I overeat and then blame others for my problems. Tell me what choices you’ve made.

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It Takes Time to Learn to Read

I recently started Petra (5 1/2) on reading lessons.  I realize that she is still very young, but she has been very, very eager to learn to read.  I should have started with her a long time ago, but I have been so busy trying to teach my two boys to read that I have been delaying. 

This last Saturday, Azariah (7) came and asked me if I could start Petra on some reading lessons. She had asked him to ask me since I had kept saying “no” to her. She thought he might have better success. Well, it did the trick. I gave her her first reading lessons, and it was a smashing success.

With my boys, it has been another story. Elijah (9) has been very reluctant to learn to read. When I first introduced a reading lesson to him, it was like pulling out dandelions roots. So we stopped and waited. We did this numerous times.

With Azariah, he was a little more responsive, but has had a hard time pronouncing his “th” so this has made things more difficult. Also, it is hard to get him to focus on it for long.

So it has been a slow, long process to teach my boys to read, but finally they are starting to get it. I have kept telling myself and them, “It takes time to learn to read.”

I have been reluctant to let the younger ones “pass” the older ones when it comes to reading. I didn’t want anyone to feel threatened. But now that Elijah is only 7 lessons away from finishing “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”, I think the littlier ones should go for it.

So Petra is now full throttle on reading. She is absorbing it like a sponge and has quite an aptitude for reading. She sails through her lessons. It is such a delight to see a child getting it. And for once all three of them seem to be getting it.

This is one of my favorite things about homeschooling…that my kids can each go at their own pace. Not everyone learns to read at 5.

The above books can be purchased through JoKars General Store.

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The Lucky Penny

After attending high school for a week or two, we discovered that Michaela was in desparate need of some clothes. An RV wardrobe is not the same as a school wardrobe. So we prayed that God would bless her with some new clothes. Then a few days later, Michaela received some money in the mail from a friend. (I really shouldn’t be surprised by such answers to prayer, but Wow! God is so good.)

So after school, I took Michaela out shopping. Being that she only had $50 and she didn’t want to pay the outrageous prices of major chain stores, we headed to some bargain/consignment stores. (We had already been to the local thrift store and found they didn’t have much.) Before going into the first store, we asked God to bless our shopping.

After going to three different stores and not having much luck, our luck changed. (No, I don’t believe in luck, but it fit with the name of the store…lol.) We were directed to the Lucky Penny. At first we were a little overwhelmed at the amount of stuff they had, but with a little searching Michaela was able to find several things to add to her school wardrobe. She got 5-6 shirts and a dress for $20! How awesome is that!

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Madison Coffee House and Laundry

I have been fortunate enough to go and do laundry about once a week. This is a major time saver since I can do all our laundry in two hours. I had found a small laundromat that wasn’t too expensive, but it didn’t have any chairs or air conditioning. So it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I usually sat in the car and read a book or worked on my laptop.

This week, though, my neighbor told me of a laundromat just down our street. She said it was nice, and I should check it out.

So I headed to Madison Coffee House and Laundry. Once there, the laundry was on one side, and the coffee house on the other. So in I headed with Kira, Petra, Hanna, and Nehemiah to the laundry. The machines were cheaper than the other facility, so we stayed. Also, it had air conditioning, tables, and chairs. After starting our laundry we headed over to the coffee house side. We were given a free quarter for each load of laundry we were doing. Thank goodness, because I wasn’t sure I would have enough to dry the laundry.

On the coffee house side were couches, computers, and free WiFi. Oh, if only I had thought to bring my laptop. They had gourmet coffees, teas, food, and fresh produce.

Also, there was a long table that sat 8. Around that table were tons of books, games, and homeschool curriculum. We made ourselves at home and had a fun time playing games and reading books.

I was truly blown away and blessed by the hospitality of this little coffee shop. It made me think of the gift of generosity. Shouldn’t we as Christians put our best foot forward and be as generous as can? Giving all we can? This place definitely gave its first fruits to those in need. Those in need of laundry, rest, and a cup of joe.

So if you are ever in Madras, Oregon, please stop by the Madison Coffee House and Laundry.

In the end I was able to get the laundry dry with the help of those free quarters, my daughter Kira, and a couple of ones I had in my purse. I actually had 2 quarters to spare.

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Showers of Blessings

Most people when they think of Oregon think of rain, rain, rain. They also think of lush-ness and greenery. Well, there is another part of Oregon that most people don’t even realize exists. And it is actually larger than the more popular rainy, lush area otherwise known as “The Valley”.

This other area is Eastern and Central Oregon. Since I am more familiar with Central Oregon, I am going to share a few tidbits maybe you didn’t know. Central Oregon is a high desert. It is rugged and dry. There are flat plateaus, canyons, and rocky outcroppings.

 The annual rainfall is only around 12 inches a year. This makes for a very dry climate. Since we arrived on August 1st, it has only rained 2 times.

Instead of receiving rain of the liquid variety, we have been receiving showers of blessings. At our first visit to our church, we said a prayer. I don’t really remember all the words, but it basically was a prayer for provisions. We prayed for job opportunities, checks in the mail, rebates, inheritances, etc. While I was hopeful for some of the things listed, others, I thought, weren’t even a possibility.

Over the next 3 weeks, we received one rebate, 8 checks in the mail, and one job opportunity. All of the checks were completely unexpected like a refund for overpayment on our property taxes on our old property. The money always came when we most needed it.

With the job opportunity, Joe had an interview for a coaching position, and then had to wait a week to find out if he got the position. They called and told him that he did not get the job. We were very disappointed but held on to faith that God would provide.

Yesterday, Joe got a call that they had too many kids on the team and were forming two and asked if Joe would coach the second team. And…he would get the same pay as previously told.

I have also been worrying about clothes for this winter for the kids. So I decided that I should pray about it. We have since then received two bags of boys’ clothes and one bag of girls’ clothes. I also prayed for food. We received a ton of food that someone didn’t have need for and we also have received some surplus garden bounty. I could go on about the gifts we have been given. Daily I am amazed. It still boggles my mind as to how good God is. I don’t think I will ever grasp how great God is.

So we might not have had a lot of rain here, but we have definitely been showered with blessings.

Now, I don’t write this to boast. No, I write this to remind myself. If I had been with the Israelites on the exodus from Egypt, I am sure that I would be of the golden calf making crowd. I, all too quickly, forget of God’s provisions. I, all too quickly, become filled with worry and doubt. I, all too quickly, complain.

I wrote this to encourage you in your own life as well as to be a reminder to myself of God’s provisions and blessings. Put your trust in Him and he will provide all you need.

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September 11th

On September 11th, 2001, I was at home with my then four children. My oldest, Josiah, had just turned 7. I also had a 5-year-old, a newly turned 3-year-old and a 4 1/2 month old baby. Joe had already left that morning for some test he had to take at the hospital. I was behind schedule and trying to make breakfast for the kids when I told Josiah to go turn on the TV to PBS. He came back a few minutes later saying, “Every channel has a plane flying on it.” I thought he must have not done the right channels and told him to try again. He came back and said, “Mom, every channel has a plane and a building on fire. I can’t get any kid’s shows.” I was quite curious now what on earth he was talking about. I walked into the TV room and immediately my heart sank to the bottom of my chest. I was shocked to see one of the Twin Towers burning as a result of a plane crashing into it.

Later my husband got home after watching all this in a waiting room of the hospital. We clutched our children. All we wanted to do was keep them with us. We knew at that moment that our family was the most important thing other than our love for Jesus.

We have tried to make decisions in our life that help our family to be closer. We have turned down jobs that would require Joe to be gone 70-80 hours a week. I have chosen not to work outside the home. We have homeschooled when it was extremely difficult.

And it isn’t just about our immediate family. We also want our kids to be close to their grandparents and extended family. So we came back to Central Oregon in order for our kids to know their other grandparents.

We also wanted our kids to be able to conquer fears, live dreams, see new things.

So this September 11th, we followed our daughter’s passion, by driving 7 hours to Forks, WA in order to celebrate Bella’s birthday, a fictional character from the Twilight series.

We left at 6:30 in the morning. Joe in our truck with Michaela, Elijah, Azariah, and Petra. I drove our car with Josiah, Kira, Hanna, and Nehemiah. We had the truck loaded with all sorts of unhealthy food intended to keep us awake…not to nourish us. Joe and I in our separate cars told stories of our travels along this stretch of road to Portland…the time we ran out of gas…the time we had a flat tire. It would have been nice to share the stories together, but at least we got to share them.

From Portland, we headed into Washington and up towards Centralia and then west to Aberdeen. After traveling at a snail’s pace in Aberdeen, we headed north to Forks.

Since we moved from Oregon to Ohio when our oldest was only 5, our kids have no memory of ever seeing the ocean. We were never able to make it to the Atlantic. Michaela has watched too many shark week commercials and Jaws and such, so she had developed a phobia of the ocean. She believed that the water was just teeming with fish out to get her. Any time she even saw a picture of the ocean, she shuddered in horror. We kept telling her it would be different when she actually saw it.

As we drove up Hwy 101, I was amazed that we hadn’t had even a peek of the ocean. But as we got within 30 miles of Forks, I noticed the smell of salt in the air. I rolled down my window. I squealed, ‘It has to be just on the other side of those trees!” Within minutes, we were able to see the tiniest snippet of ocean. I was screaming with delight, “Looky, looky!” Joe, too, was screaming at his crew to look at the ocean. We couldn’t contain ourselves any longer. Joe pulled over at Beach 4.

We couldn’t see it yet though. The trees were thick, but there was a trail. Joe took all the kids except Nehemiah on the trail. Nehemiah was in desparate need of a diaper change. I was disappointed I wouldn’t get to see their expressions as they saw the ocean for the first time, but delighted that they were going.

Petra had decided to wait to go down with me. So after changing Nehemiah we headed down the steep path through the rain forest down to the ocean. I passed some people along the way and asked if some super excited kids had come through there. They said enthusiastically, “Yes.” I told them how they had never seen the ocean. They thought that was pretty cool.

Finally, I got down to the beach. Everyone had their shoes off and one of them was already wet to his waist (Elijah). Michaela stood tentatively but admiringly on the edge of the water. I walked up and put my arm around her. She said, “Mom, it is amazing!….But I am not going any further than this.”

A few moments later we saw some sea lions just off the shore about 20 feet, playing in the waves. We were in awe of how close they were to us.

Michaela soon realized that she could stand sideways and plant her feet in the sand and have the waves run over her feet. Josiah and Elijah joined her at her side. Kira had taken the little girls up to the restroom. Azariah stayed further back on the edge of the water.

Soon Joe, Josiah, Michaela and Elijah were inching further and further out. A big wave came crashing in. Joe and Josiah made a run for the beach. Michaela stayed put laughing. She and Elijah got drenched from head to foot. So much for not going in any further.

All fears of the ocean absolved that day. We had some fun getting sandy and wet…some more than others. We all were amazed at the vastness and greatness of the ocean. We all were amazed that God had brought us here together.

We went on to Forks and saw the sights…the Swans’ house, the high school, the hospital. We also drove to La Push…”it’s La Push”, which was very beautiful. In some ways Forks was disturbing, in other ways, disappointing, and in others, delightful. By 5:30, we decided we needed to head on home. By the grace of God (and with the help of sugar and caffeine), we made it home at 1:30 am.

While I would have rather we had been able to drive all together, I am so thankful that we all got to see the ocean together…building memories, building relationships. And we all got to support Michaela overcome her fear and in her interests. This was another September 11th, that I will never forget.

Additional Note: We are searching for a vehicle that can transport at least 10 people and tow our trailer. We would also like it to get more than 15 mpg. Our thought was a Suburban that we could add a fourth row rear facing seat. If it was a 9 passenger Suburban, and we added the rear facing seat, it would seat 11-12. Nine passenger Suburbans  are hard to find though. If you know of one in Oregon, or possibly Southern Washington, that is priced REALLY cheaply, could you please let us know? You can send me a message at mamak@jokars.com. Thanks.

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Our Journey Has Begun!

What a day! Yesterday, Papa Joe took a load to the dump, dropped our utility trailer off, relocated a freezer, emptied our house, and loaded our truck and camper trailer! The realtor representing the bank inspected our home and gave us $500. I cleaned and organized and ran errands. All the kids helped a tremendous bit especially the oldest ones! Josiah and Michaela went to youth group to say good-bye to some friends. Many tears were shed. Many prayers were whispered.

Thank you to all the people who have helped us on this journey. Thank you for your many, many prayers. Thank you for your generosity. You have shown us what love is. Thank you.

As we enter this next step in our adventure, we are unsure if we even have enough money to get us all the way to Oregon. We are unsure whether we have enough money for food. We don’t know whether the truck will do well on the Rocky Mountains. I am unsure of my abilities as a cross country driver. I am thankful that I have my fifteen year old son to share the driving load with me. I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I don’t know how far we will get.

Here is what I do know. God WILL take care of us. God LOVES us. God has a plan. God is a great God! And He loves you.

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Free

We are in this season of depending on God, and I find it amazing that God offers things we didn’t even ask for. (As an aside, shouldn’t we always be in a season of depending on God?)

I find great pleasure in the simplest things like…receiving 2 coupons for a free McD’s Frappe, receiving $1.30 off /gallon in gas, and a free trial offer of Muvee Reveal.

After my other post of Michaela’s video making skills using Muvee, my father-in-law went and bought Michaela a new camera on Amazon. Some of you may have seen her multitude of photos posted on Facebook. LOL. I think the girl’s got talent.

Michaela spent an afternoon with the girls while I was at the zoo with the boys and put together this great video of them being carefree. The song she put with the video fits so much with our life right now. It is our theme song…”No, we ain’t got a lot of money…All we need is love!” But unfortunately, the owner of the song pulled it. 😦 So I guess you will just have to watch without the music.

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