Friday, September 6, 2019

Today I'm Thankful for the Toilets I Get to Clean

I can honestly say I've never, ever been in the position to express gratitude towards toilet cleaning. But today, while I cleaned our toilets I found myself thinking about the people in the Bahamas, people I came to know through my sister and her husband when we visited them waaaaay back in 2014. All of the places pictured in that post are destroyed and the people we met lost everything. Thankfully all of my sister's friends and in-laws are alive, some left injured - but they're alive - and I prayed with her through the excruciating waiting process. My heart is broken for the victims left behind to pick up the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and especially for the families who lost loved ones. 

So while I cleaned my toilet I found myself thankful for the toilet and the four walls of privacy the bathroom offered, and especially for the people who make the cleaning necessary. I don't know what the Bahamians are experiencing at the moment (living in public, crowded places, cleaning up the disaster, overwhelmed with the tasks ahead, wondering what to do now, coping with the epic loss) but as I reflect on the horrors of their life right now I'm finding myself thankful for EVERYTHING: the roof on our house, the electricity needed to turn on our oven, clean, running water, my closet full of clothes, the toys my girls are playing with, everything, even the toilets I had to clean

I doubt anyone from the Bahamas has the ability or the time or the desire to read this post, but there are people all over the world praying and wondering how they can help (even from Kearney, NE). Join me in that prayer and in that pursuit. 

And then, be super thankful for your toilet - clean or not.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Hello From Kearney!

I have spent the last year debating on what to do with this blog, that exists to simply share our life as BecKyle and our efforts to know who God is, who He has called us to be and to glorify Him in all we do. I have been in this place multiple times with this blog, unsure of how to approach it, but I decided that when inspiration hits I can't ignore it and IF I have the time, I'll write. If not, I have to let it go.

Why I've been debating...
My husband was a pre-med graduate over ten years ago, with the dream to enter the medical field at some point. With all the options out there he had a really hard time decided which field to enter, but when we paid off all my student loans he really focused on which field would best serve others and honor God. He has always enjoyed anything to do with how the body moves and functions as its best and found that becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy would be the best route to take. We found out in February of 2019 that he was accepted and it's been a rollercoaster ride ever since! When God answers prayers, we found that it is difficult to keep up! This journey began in 2018, remember my post titled "Changes"? Well, once those changes began happening it was a whirlwind. We had our home on the market for two weeks before we had an offer. We worked our tail off to make sure that all our ducks were in a row so the loan would go through and in the last week of doing that, my grandfather passed away. When we returned from his funeral, we closed on our home, moved into my sisters home for a month where she and her husband generously allowed us to store all of our things in their garage. And that is only a small description of all that happened. 

On that note, I thought I attained a minimalist mindset on our things until we moved. The reality of my sin of accumulation hit really hard. I was embarrassed and exhausted by the amount of stuff I still had, which forced me - once again - to reconsider why I was keeping what I was keeping. That is a story in and of itself.

But the real reason I debated on what to do with this blog was that I decided to take my tutoring business I had established in Kimball and put it online. There was so much work to do to create a website, market online, etc. etc. I'm STILL working on that. The question I was asking myself was this: how am I going to fulfill my job as a wife, mom, homeschool teacher, disciple of Jesus Christ, curriculum writer, and reading and writing tutor while keeping the house clean, making dinner, and keeping God as my central focus every day with His Word as my highest priority? I'm not sure I've conquered that question just yet, but I cannot ignore the ideas that come to mind here. Writing is as much a part of me as the hair on my head! So here's how I decided to deal with those ideas: focus on my priorities and if there is time to write, write. I don't need any fancy graphics (which are time-consuming). I don't need to read and reread, edit and revise a million times a day before hitting publish. I don't need to schedule posts and feel the need to stay with that schedule. That is not the reason for this blog. The reason is to share our life as BecKyle and our efforts to know who God is, who He has called us to be and to glorify Him in all we do. 

So that's what you'll hear here as long as the priorities in my life are where they need to be. With that, my husband just finished some homework (classes begin on MONDAY) and he needs some lunch. So while we are in Kearney for the purpose of him becoming a DOCTOR, my job is to serve him as he fulfills that dream. 

Pray for us as this new journey begins. That we trust God's plan for our life, find a new church family, and work hard to accomplish the tasks set before us.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Study Tools to Give a First Grader

When I left the classroom six years ago, I decided to share some of the resources and lesson plans I created on Teachers Pay Teachers to bring in a little income. In order for this to be successful, I knew I needed multiple places where I could share those resources with other educators in the English/Language Arts world. I decided to start a teacher blog, a Pinterest account dedicated just for the ELA classroom, and I recently joined the "teachers of Instagram" world. You can find all of that (if you want) by following this link.

The reason I'm sharing all of this is because there is so much I want to write here that is unrelated to the world of teaching, but also about our personal life. I'm still not sure how to schedule my time to make that a possibility (ha, or even if that is possible). Today's topic that I shared on my teacher blog is one I felt might benefit many of you homeschool teacher-moms and moms who desire to teach your children how to read God's Word, so I decided to share it in two places. Goodness, that sounds ridiculous, but I'm just not sure how to accomplish this just yet... so bear with me... in the meantime, today's topic is this:

Follow this link to read those tools:
Check it out because it is the precursor to sharing my Psalm Fluency Notebook that helps my first grader, who has mastered phonics, move from phonics to fluency, and then from fluency to analysis, and analysis to critical writing. One step builds upon another for one outcome: a life-long learner who lives and works wisely in God's kingdom - seeing the world from their Creator's lens, not a self-centered one.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tuesday's Top Ten [Top Books of 2018]

I was quite a few books shy of my reading goal this year. Despite that disappointment, I can't say that overall the books I did read were disappointing! Minus a few here and there, I enjoyed them all. (Visit my Goodreads Year in Books to see more of what I read.) In the mean time, here are my top ten reads of 2018... (in no particular order)

1. Footprints of a Pilgrim by Ruth Bell Graham is a book of poetry by Ruth that her daughter encouraged her to publish and a few stories interspersed throughout of Ruth and her life with friends, children, and as a wife. Read it! You'll be inspired, convicted, and encouraged. You'll laugh, cry, and oooo and awww.

2. Katharina and Martin Luther by Michelle DeRusha is like reading a very interesting text book. It is so packed full of information, but it is so good. I appreciated DeRusha's efforts to remain as factual as possible, while giving a new understanding and perspective of this famous couple in history. It was one I checked out from my local library and one I want to make part of my personal library.

3. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot is a must read for every Christian. This story is powerful and will change the way you think about evangelism, life, and death. To see my entire review, go here.

4. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul I believe that if you call yourself a Christian, you have to understand who God is according to what HE said about Himself. Sproul was a master theologian who studied this well and I am so incredibly thankful he took the time to write about what he learned about the holiness of God - the central aspect of God's character. I am eternally changed as a result. Sproul once said that the number one problem people face is that they have no idea who God is according to His word therefore they have no idea who God created them to be. This book helps establish a foundational and mind blowing understanding of who God is, helping you understand who you are because of your Creator!

5. J.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring is a book that we read as we travel. Since we grocery shop once a month in a city forty-five minutes away, this was one we savored slowly. Since Tolkien is a literary and linguistic expert, it is impressive. More than that, Tolkien is a master story teller and I thoroughly enjoyed reading and discussing it alongside my hubby.

6. What Really Matters for Struggling Readers by Richard Allington is a must read for every teacher in any subject, in any grade level. Reading is a foundational subject where many students struggle, causing issues for education for the rest of their learning lives. We cannot make life long learners without first teaching students how to read well. This book is incredibly helpful for teachers as we sift through the plethora of curriculum available, the so called research that goes along with this curriculum, and the researched strategies that are proven to work. I highly, highly recommend adding it to your professional library.

7. Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix by J.K. Rowling was the first book in the Harry Potter Series that I actually enjoyed from beginning to end. I seriously dragged through the first books, trusting a few of my literary expert friends that they were worth reading over and over and over again. It wasn't until reading this book that I began to understand that statement. (Also, I know, I know, don't judge. I'm 34 and reading them for the first time! Haha! Better late than never can apply to books too.) With that out of the way, I will admit that the next two were equally as enjoyable...

8. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

10. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict was actually an infuriating book if what Benedict researched and wrote had an ounce of truth. While it's historical fiction, I imagine that there is some truth to the life of Mitza - Albert's wife. Einstein may have been a brilliant scientist, but his marriage failed. Why didn't he work as hard on that relationship as he did in his learning science? He may have been a genius there, but it's obviously lacking in other areas and this book brought that to light by revealing the spider webs in the darkest corners of the Einstein home. Every home has its secrets, but my goodness, my respect for Albert dropped significantly if he did what was claimed. If you want to be anything like Albert, do not mimic his "husbandry".

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tuesday's Top Ten [Fun Writing Tools]

If you read my last post about change, you'll get a glimpse into my thoughts as of late. It's been a long time since a top ten popped into my brain. Usually I have a growing list, however, my mind has been occupied with many other things. I'm not surprised by today's list because it has to do with my 1st graders school and the successes we've had just by implementing different tools for the betterment of her writing. Writing helps with memory, plus it is important to establish the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing at an early age. Anything to make the learning process more enjoyable for my student, makes the teaching process more enjoyable for the teacher. I love how her desire for writing her spelling words, or practicing her handwriting, or learning how to write a basic sentence increases with these simple tools and then varying them up...

1. A personal white board, 

2. chalkboard, 

3. and/or a magnetic write and wipe board. Giving your student something new and different to write on works wonders, plus saves a tree (which teachers are notorious for killing many in one day).

4. Invisible Ink Pens (with a uv light). The moment Brielle received these was the moment she wanted to begin writing her spelling words! Win, win. 

5. This roll-a-dice, Write-the-Word game where two dice are rolled and the result of the two numbers is what box the student is to follow. For example, if the sum is 9, then the student is to write the word with rainbow letters.

6. Window Markers. We have these crystallizing markers that Brielle really likes. I'll admit that the effect is pretty neat to watch. It was a gift from my mother for the win!

7. Stamps. We have a plethora of letter stamps that Brielle enjoys stamping and then coloring.

8. Window Steam. This one only works if it's cold outside, and then you may already have a steamy window, but to do this, just breath on a cold window and then write the word in the steam. For some reason this is super fun.

9. Write words in sand, salt, shaving cream or whatever item they could easily use their finger to write out their word, smooth out, and do another, and another, and another...

10, 11, 12, +.  A "Say It, Write It, Make It" Mat (like this one). You can make the word using blocks, LEGO's, play doh, beans, sticks, Twizzler pull candy, &etc. your options here are limitless because you do not necessarily need the mat to have a variety of items with which to make a word.

This list is great for teachers, home school parents, or homework practice! However you use it, I hope the variety of fun options helps your student to enjoy the process of practicing.

Friday, January 4, 2019

My Weakness

I believe in confessing weaknesses and sins in your discipleship relationships, with your spouse, in close friendships, and at times, publicly. Doing so, exposes these weaknesses and sins to the light, allowing you to more fully see the God of the universe and conquer the issues that keep you from drawing closer to Him. Also, keeping them in the dark clouds your thinking, making you stuck in them. It is through the accountability that comes with these relationships and their journeying alongside you - continually pointing you back to Christ - that helps you in weakness.

God did not design the Christian walk as a solo journey. We are called to fellowship with other believers who also struggle with weakness and sin, to be unified in Christ as we journey together in this life. God gave us a forever family and that is a tremendous blessing.

But more than that God gave us Christ! His grace is sufficient. That is what Jesus told Paul when he asked to be released of his weakness, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) Paul's response was that he would boast all the more of his weakness because Christ was glorified. I don't know what Paul's weakness was except that he said it was a "thorn in the flesh" (12:7), but I can share with you what I plan to do with mine: bring it to the light by sharing it here, thank Him for His grace and His blessings, trust in God's will for my life, and the plan I have to conquer it.

Bringing it to light.
The woman of Samaria encountered Jesus at a well (John 4:7-30) where He asked her for a drink. When she was puzzled by this (because Jews hated Samaritans) the conversation that followed amazed me. He kept telling her that in Him was life and she did not see it until Jesus brought her sin to light. Jesus strips open her inner life, pours light on her deepest secret, because keeping sin in the dark will never lift the blindness, "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works be exposed." (John 3:20) By revealing her sin, she was finally able to see THE Light and recognize Him for what He was: LIFE.

By sharing this, I hope that you take the opportunity this time of year brings: the reminder to reflect. Although I believe this should be a daily endeavor and not just at the beginning of the year, I do like to jump at the opportunity to begin afresh, to dig deep and make changes where changes need to be made. And the place that needs growth in my life is my personal prayer life. It is weak.

Giving thanks!
Do you know how incredibly thankful I am that my weakness reveals God's blessings? That because He has blessed me, I do not take the time every day to approach Him in thoughtful prayer. I'm often careless and unprepared. I am so unlike Daniel who prayed at the same time, in the same place every day. I do not pray unceasingly. I am not like Corrie Ten Boom's sister, Betsie who's prayer life was indistinguishable from her conversations. But I am not in exile or experiencing the Holocaust first hand. I have a roof over my head, food, clothing, and like most Americans I have everything I could ever need or want at my disposal. God has blessed me, and so I should unceasingly thank Him.

I am also incredibly thankful that He made me a sovereigntist - and I don't mean a person who supports self government. I mean that I am someone who understands that God is in control, that God is sovereign over all things, including what He gives and takes away, because everything in the "heavens and the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all." (1 Chronicles 29:11-12) Since He has given me all these things, my prayer should reflect David's and often it does, but I lack consistency. Plus, I find it difficult to approach God when I know that what Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:8 is true, "your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." I am often guilty of praying, well God, you already know what I need sooooooo I guess I don't really need to ask.... No! He told us to ask, so ask! And then praise Him for it.

And with that, I am also incredibly thankful for His grace poured into my life by the work of Christ when He died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and rose again. Because of His gift of grace, giving me the righteousness that I don't deserve, I do not have to worry about my weaknesses. Because of Jesus' work, I am able to rely on God as He works in me to draw me closer to Himself. That is an incredible place to rest.

I trust that by bringing this weakness to light, and knowing that God desires this communion, that He will answer this desire to have a purposeful and consistent prayer life! I will not doubt in my asking (James 1:5-6), but rather trust that if the Bible says to pray unceasingly, and that by bringing this weakness to light, God will put this on my heart.

A plan.
Another reason to praise Him! Recognizing this weakness to a friend produced a prayer book that I cannot wait to dive into (and has also been on my wish list for quite some time), The Heart of God by Kenneth Boa. I believe that her giving it to me was also God giving me the push I needed.

Each day is planned with scripture references followed by specific prayer directions, this daily guidance is the purpose and consistency that I desperately need. And so this journey begins....

Thank you reader for finishing this post. I sincerely hope and pray that you are encouraged, inspired, and thoughtful after completing it.

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Full 2018

This year has been wonderful and full. Full of change. Full of growth. Full of blessings. It's just been full.

Full of growth.
This year my husband and I began teaching the FORM class on Wednesday nights to 5th and 6th graders, where they learn who God is, and who He created them to be. These lessons in identity have significantly impacted my walk with Christ, my confidence in Him, and given me something solid upon which to stand. I am the beloved of God, created in His image, for His glory, and the more I learn about who He is according to His word, the more solidified I become in who He created me to be as well. It's been an amazing journey to complete alongside my husband and these kids that I've come to adore.

As I learn about who God created me to be, I've also become more focused in my purpose. My priorities are pretty simple:
1. God
2. Wife
3. Mother
4. Discipleship
5. Teacher
These are the things I make time for in my day. If God is truly my #1 priority, it is amazing to me how the rest falls into its rightful place. This year has been full of prioritizing!

Next, I made a list of five more things that are my hobbies - the things I most enjoy doing (not in any particular order):

This is my "if I have time" list. Haha, so this post is a result of "having time." In all honesty, do mothers and teachers really ever have time? 

On a serious note, I realized that by writing down my purpose, my priorities, and even my hobbies, forced me to become more focused. I knew had to simplify my life. Otherwise I'd have too much, and through this process I've realized that too much is overwhelming. The minimalist journey began in April of 2017, which began with my things, and after reading The Joy of Less by Francine Jay I realized I also needed to change my mindset. It is amazing to me how God times things in my life. Since beginning this "simplify" journey I've simplified our things significantly (though I still have a ways to go), the things I do in my day (though I don't always accomplish it perfectly), and cleared a lot of junk in my mind (which I realize will be a life-long pursuit).

Full of changes.
One of the biggest changes this year has brought about is my role as a teacher. I teach my own little people every day, I tutor struggling readers, and I'm taking classes so the paperwork for Reading Specialist is complete. Story behind that: I compared my transcript from my Curriculum and Instruction Masters degree from Doane to the requirements for my Reading Specialist degree and I took all but one class: Diagnosing and Correcting the Struggling Reader (which I just completed this fall). So technically I am already a reading specialist, but do not have the paperwork (aka paying the money). I can only transfer two of my classes, so I'm 9 credits in to my 36 credit degree. Sigh. Oh well, my initial Master of Education degree was completed 8 years ago so there is a lot of value in refreshing my rusty brain. I am just going to need some patience!

There are more possible, ginormous changes coming our way that we won't know for sure whether or not they'll actually occur until February, but this process of waiting on God has been trying and full of  an enormous amount of growth and trust in His sovereign hand. More on that later...

Full of blessings.
Goodness my little people fill my day full of challenges and joy. Being a homeschool mom these last 2 years have been so full of blessings. I feel blessed to have been able to teach Brielle to read. Blessed to be a mom-teacher. Blessed to be working from home. Blessed to have a supportive husband. Just blessed. This year has been one where I've recognized, more than ever, how much God has blessed me.

He blessed us with 5 short years with our Quigley: Saying Good-bye to Quigley
He blessed Kyle and I with two growing, changing girls full of love, life and laughter.
He has bless me with an amazing, patient, loving husband who leads our home well.
He blessed my family with 3 new additions with the birth of 2 nieces and 1 nephew! Only one of whom I've had the privilege of meeting. Hopefully that's what is in store for 2019!
He blessed us with memories galore, here are a few of my favorite pictures to prove it...

We've spent the year cheering on our long time friend Chris Bombardier and all his amazing accomplishments! He set the world record for being the first hemophiliac to summit the highest peaks on all 7 Continents! 

We were gifted Disney on Ice tickets for Christmas, by a wonderful neighbor. The following picture pretty much sums up Brielle's face:

I've spent the year laughing at all the outfits my little Eleanna concocted.
We've spent the year with many, many wonderful friends and had the privilege of watching their children grow alongside our own.

I've spent the year in realization that my Briella Bean is growing up into a beautiful, smart, thoughtful young lady.
For the first time in years me and my siblings were all together, what a time of remembering and laughter!

We spent the school year watching my friend Erin Aerni's children, who passed away in an accident on July 8, 2017.  There were many blessed moments such as this...
This year has also been one of reflection: In one year's time...

It's been a year mixed with tears and giggles, probably an equal mixture of both.

Crazy dreams...
Dates with my love..

Quote of the year from Kyle, "I feel like that guy on Jurassic Park that gets attacked by all the little dinosaurs."


Summer Princess Dance Camp

Moana Summer Princess Dance camp

Pirates on a hunt for treasure!

Once Brielle learned to read, the evening story time changed a bit... 
Ear piercing!
Museum exploration

A scary trip to the ER when a crash to the couch resulted in puking a few hours later. Thankfully the cat scan revealed nothing major. 

Bat night at a local wildlife center! My bat lover was SO excited!
And then on our way home we totaled our van. I joked we had a one eyed, black eyed, black and purple deer eater.
Girls day! 


The result of smelly markers...


First tooth gone!

We wrote a book together after finding allllll kinds of facts on bats, we called it Alphabat! The best part? Bean created her book from scratch.

Shared birthdays


Halloween costumes!

My husband built a stone porch off our porch. It was a wonderful addition!

Ballet and tumbling classes, weddings, swim classes, princess dance camp, museums, library dress up as your favorite character day,  a family reunion, pumpkin patches, dinners with friends and loved ones, church activities, coffee and crafting, a bunch of little things that all add up to great big blessings. And I could be here all day filling this post with all the ways that God has blessed me this year.