Family Vacation!!

Hello Everyone!!!

Soooo, I’ve been absent for two weeks. My family and I took our annual Caribbean cruise. This time we cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas; which is the largest ship in the world.

IMG_3281

We all enjoyed it! We saw shows, ate at the best restaurants aboard the ship, listened to live music, danced, toured the islands and so much more.

IMG_3168 IMG_3199 IMG_3221 IMG_3262

IMG_3344  IMG_3339IMG_3114 IMG_3120

My children only attended Adventure Ocean (the kids’ program) for one hour on the third day. They enjoyed it; but they obviously preferred hanging out with their cool and fun parents.

IMG_3240

IMG_3248

The ship docked in St. Marteen, Puerto Rico and Cococay (Royal Caribbean’s Island) in the Bahamas. I always enjoy touring the islands, because I love learning about the history of each place. My other favorite thing to do is going to the fitness center. I peeped in on a few of the classes; but they didn’t look very interesting, so I opted to do my own workouts. I met a nice lady, who became my fitness partner while on the ship. We discovered that we were both from Miami, enjoy fitness and locked our hair; because we don’t like coming it. How cool is that?!!! We also discovered that she knew my uncle. This woman was more than just my workout partner, she was a Godsend. I usually travel with ginger, because it soothes the stomach. This time, I failed to bring some. I needed it because my stomach wasn’t feeling so hot after eating too many different types of foods. My son also needed it, because his stomach wasn’t feeling so well one night. After only our second day meeting to workout, my workout partner gifted me with a bottle of ginger and an array of health foods and supplements (without even knowing about my upset stomach that one night and that I’d left my ginger at home).  Only God knew; and He provided! I am thoroughly convinced that God does and will ALWAYS take care of me, no matter what! The highlight of my trip were the rainbows that I saw on two different islands. They always represent a wink from God  for me; and how faithful He is to His word.

IMG_3226 IMG_3173

As I stated earlier, my family and I enjoyed our cruise.

IMG_3149 IMG_3210 IMG_3309

The only thing that we didn’t love, was the departing procedure. If you have a stroller or more than one bag, you have to take the elevator. Most people had more than one bag; and there was a long line of people waiting to take the elevator. I could have only imagined that it would’ve taken hours to get the 7000 people off of the ship, doing it that way. It’s a good thing that we have God’s favor and are early birds! One of the employees help carry our bags down the escalator; so we were able to avoid the long wait for the elevator. Thank God!

We were grateful to have missed the snowstorm that hit our area while we were away; but really began thinking strongly about becoming snowbirds this season. It’s pretty miraculous how we change. When my husband and I first met, he said that he would never go on a cruise; while I said that I would never move back to FL. Fast forward to now, he loves going on cruises and I am actively searching for a winter residence in FL.  God really knows how to bring people into agreement. When we returned form the trip, my children kept saying that they want to go to FL for the whole winter; while my husband said to me that warm weather is only three hours away. My business coach would say that winter is a choice. This year I’m in agreement with all of them. I love mountains and lakes…..cross-country skiing and snowboarding; but I’m very partial to the ocean and warm weather.

My children want to go to Disney and NYC; while I want to go to Spain. We will be visiting these places in the not-so-distant future. Where are some places that you have gone; and would recommend to others? As always, have an EXCELLENT week and I’ll see you around the blog!

 

 

 

By the Grace of God (YHWH)

IMG_2938

I often get asked how do I do it (homeschooling) with four kids. It is only by THE grace of YHWH/God. I actually really enjoy it…frustrations and all. Prior to this past week, I was frustrated with my second son because it was taking him longer to read his books. It wasn’t because he was struggling or couldn’t do it; rather, it was because he did NOT want to read those books. I told my husband of my frustration. He responded: “He’s just not interested in those books. Let him read what he wants to read.” I said, he only likes to checkout cookbooks from the library. He encouraged me to just let him read them.  He said that kids are eager learners and demonstrators. They only resist when they are uninterested. So, that Sunday evening as I planned the lessons for the week, I had the idea to make index cards with facts about him and the things that he enjoyed. Last Monday when I handed him his work folder and told him that he would be reading the cards instead of the books, he was so delighted! He read and read those cars all week long….forward and backwards; and created new sentences with them, as well as asked for more cards. Wow! What a difference a little God idea makes.

In addition to the reading switch for my six year old, they made their own little creations out of the air drying molding clay; as well as put together a robotic spider. Boy was that a hit! I’m going back to Walmart and buying the other five robotic creatures that they had. Our school is run somewhat like a Montessori School.

IMG_2921

They are free to select whatever they want to work on or play with; and I just rotate between the four of them to teach or explain new concepts or help when there’s a need for it. I work one-on-one with my two year old with her shapes, colors, numbers and abc…..only because she wants to. I’m sure her older siblings serve as an inspiration for this desire. I’m all about letting little kids learn through play and observation. My favorite part of being my kids’ principle educator is the discussions, dialogues and teachable moments that happen all throughout the day. I just love it!

IMG_2936

There are moments when I’ve had about enough of my little people. That’s when it’s time for quiet time. They go into their rooms and have the option of napping or doing a quiet activity for an hour. There have also been moments when I have left my house as soon as my husband stepped foot in the door. There’s no need for an explanation of any kind. My husband just says: “Mommy needs a moment.” So between God’s grace, my husband’s wisdom and my knowing when to take breaks, this homeschooling thing works well for our family. Also, teaching my children how to pray the word of God, biblical principles for marriage, and finances; as well as who God says that they are, is work that I am truly honored to do.

If you are a full-time homeschooling parent, what do you love about teaching your children? If you are a part-time homeschooling parent (your child(ren)) attends private or public school), what do you love about teaching your children?

As always, have an EXCELLENT week and I’ll see you on the blog!

Halloween

Hello All!!

I hope you’re having an excellent week!! Since this is October, and Halloween is just around the corner, I thought I would share my thought on it. I am flabbergasted by the number of Christians who celebrate Halloween or some form of it. It’s an oxymoron to me. Dressing up in bible character costumes does not change what the holiday is about. Everything that we observe or do in this world, has a spiritual root. If I removed all of the apples from an apple tree; and tied oranges around the branches of the tree, would it change the fact that it’s an apple tree? The seed of a tree determines the type of tree it is; as well as the fruit that it will bear; and the season that it will bear the fruit in. If you think that celebrating Halloween is harmless and “just a fun time for the kids,” please check out the following interview with Pastor John Ramirez, a former satanist. He also has a series of books that explain his experience as a satanist, more about Halloween, his testimony; as well as various tactics of the enemy.

I’m all about having fun, especially with and for my kids. I also think that God loves for us to have fun….but this pagan holiday is not what He had in mind. Have an excellent rest of your week and weekend; and please feel free to comment!

Homeschooling…..a call

IMG_2870

NEVER in a million years did I EVER think I’d be homeschooling my children. It was just wasn’t anything that I had ever considered. Apparently, God had other plans. As ALWAYS, He knows best! I must say, that I do so enjoy being with my kids nearly all day every day. People always say: “Boy, you’ve got your hands full.” AND you homeschool them too?” I simply reply, my heart is full; and I do homeschool all four of them. Many of them are just looking at four children; but what they don’t see at first glance is the God who guides me and leads me in the instruction of my children. Isaiah 54:17 (MSG) says: All your children will have God for their teacher – what a mentor for your children!  I believe this with all my heart.

IMG_2804 IMG_2818

We begin our mornings with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. We also read scripture and right now, the kids are learning Psalm 91. They have four more verses to learn, in order to memorize the whole chapter. I love this time; because they are SO inquisitive about God and ask SO many questions. A lady asked my oldest son (7) what he liked most about homeschool; to which he replied: “quiet time.” She then asked him, what’s your favorite thing about quiet time. He said: ” Talking to and listening to my God.” Her mouth dropped open.

IMG_2806IMG_2783

Monday through Friday, the kids work on Reading, Language Arts and Math; with Monday, Wednesday & Friday, being heavier Language Arts days; while Tuesday and Thursdays are heavier Math days. They do History and Science at least once a week. The kids also take art class, swim lessons, piano lessons, drum lessons, gymnastics, ninjanastics, Preschool Storytime, and are part of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math (STEAM) club. Besides the academic subjects, the kids are learning how to contribute to the household, to be good stewards of money utilizing the biblical money system, their part in taking care of our community; as well as widows and orphans, hearing and obeying God’s voice, how spouses work together in their different roles, how to honor God, parents, each other and others; and so much more.

IMG_2856  IMG_2793

I thank God for this opportunity to minister to my children; as well as a front row seat to watch; as they grow and develop in each of their gifts and callings.  Yesterday, while working with my oldest son on his spelling words, I gave him hi-fives; because he got them all right; after only having them for a day! I was so excited and so was he; and he exclaimed: “Mom, I’m so proud of myself!” I said: I am too son! He says he loves working with me on his school work. That is certainly the grace of God! I love discovering ways to engage them in their learning. As a group fitness instructor, I  always had a plan for class; but sometimes, I could see other choreography and exercise in my head as I taught the class. Those were some of my BEST classes. I knew that the grace of God flowed through me as I taught classes; because of the effect on the people. One day, a lady came up to me after class crying; and telling me how taking my classes just lifted the depression off of her. That’s when I knew it was a God thing. It’s the same way with my children. I have lesson plans in place; but I can often see another way to get a concept across to engage them; and we have the best time! I thank God that He is leading my children’s education.

   IMG_2798  IMG_2810

IMG_2868   IMG_2823

 

Week before last, my children opened their B3 Lemonade & More stand. It has been a great experience! They have utilized many skills, including: planning, math, budgeting, money value, customer service, research and so much more. It was an absolute pleasure watching this experience unfold. My husband gave each of the boys $1 and challenged them to increase that money. He explained borrowing, interest and profit to them. The boys brainstormed different business ideas and researched by watching various YouTube videos; as well as searching our home for things they already had. This process took two days. We prayed for an idea; and the Lemonade & More business was the money-making idea that came. They then brainstormed names for the business and decided on B3 (Blessed, Brilliant & Beckem); which is also the name of our homeschool.

 

JB & boys

They decided to make strawberry lemonade; since we already had the ingredients at home; and most other lemonade stands sell regular lemonade. They knew that they had to make enough to pay their father back, plus ten percent interest. They thought about additional items that they would need like a tablecloth and cups: which would be $2.14 from the Dollar Store. They also needed money to be able to give their customers change; so they decided on collecting plastic bottles to recycle. They gathered the bottles from home; and then we went to the local high school, where they picked up bottles from underneath the bleachers. We took the bottles to Price Chopper and recycled them. They took the ticket to the Customer Service desk; where they were given cash. We then went to the Dollar Store and purchased the cups and tablecloth.

The night before, we made the strawberry lemonade and put it in the refrigerator. Upon our return home from the Dollar Store, they gathered all the things that they would need in addition to the lemonade: table, chairs, dry erase board, markers, and poster board. They set up outside of our home, and we prayed. Before saying amen, their first customer came. The plan was to be out there from 12 – 1pm; since they had a class at 1:30 pm. They sold out of their strawberry lemonade on their first day! They then made plans to be out for 2 hours the next day; as well as add brownies to the menu.

The entrepreneurs

The next day, they set up, prayed and sold out of both the strawberry lemonade and brownies. My husband stopped by to patronize them. He also helped them sell and get more customers. They’ve done extremely well over the past couple of weeks. It’s a privilege to watch these budding entrepreneurs in action.  Even their little sister has proven to be quite the salesperson! I’ve enjoyed watching them stop cars and direct them to their lemonade stand. They have received very positive feedback about their strawberry lemonade and brownies. Many people are surprised that it’s real lemonade and not that store mixed kind. One of our neighbors even requested a pitcher of strawberry lemonade.

The kids have had much success with their lemonade stand; and have paid their tithes, because they know that that portion of their income belongs to God. They were taught the biblical financial system a couple years ago; and really grasp the importance of giving God what belongs to Him; as well as supporting ministries, widows, children and the poor. It’s evident to them that they can not out give God. They are walking money magnets. Ever since they were very little; and received money from their grandparents or others, they would always give. So many times they would receive much more than they gave within a day or so. It’s the most amazing thing to watch!

JB & Kids Lemonade 2

If you have children, teach them the biblical financial system. It’s the way that my husband and I have prospered. If you don’t know it, I’d gladly share it with you. As always, have an excellent week!

This Thing Called Love

post pic 2

Mark 12:30 & 31 (NIV) says: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” As I thought on these verses, my mind rested on a vision that I recently had during my morning prayer time. I found myself at the feet of God as He sat on His throne. I then was cradled in His arms. I remember feeling the love radiating throughout my being. After being loved on by God, for what seemed like a little while, I found myself standing before His throne. He placed what seemed like a force-field around me. I immediately thought of my eldest son; and he suddenly appeared cradled in God’s loving arms. My son had bumped his head hard the day before. In this vision, I saw God gently rub my son’s head and a golden substance flowed from His hand to my son’s head. God then kissed him, and placed him within my force-field. One-by-one, each of my children appeared cradled in God’s arms; and he hugged and kissed them; and placed them each within my force-field. Lastly, my husband appeared in God’s arms. He did the same; and then placed my husband and his force-field around all of us. 

My reason for sharing this part of the vision, is to illustrate the Mark 12:30 & 31 principle. We can only love God, because of His first loving us. His love fills us and overflows to our neighbors. We can only love God by His strength alone (Philippians 4:13); and only with His love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). We can’t love ourselves or others without His love. Love begins with Him. It’s His love that gives us our identity and that makes us loveable. He sees us as the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8, Proverbs 7:2, Psalm 17:8); and His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, 26:18, Psalm 135:4). When we think about ourselves the way that God does, we automatically love ourselves and bring healing an order to our thoughts, body and circumstances. We automatically love our neighbors because of God’s love.

Neighbors refer to anyone who is not you (at least that’s the way that I define it for my children). In this particular post, I’m referring to spouses as our neighbors. Sometimes, marriage can be challenging when spouses are not on the same page; or if either spouse is distracted. Please take comfort in knowing that God has our backs; and is with us every step of the way. We must renew our minds to know that marriage is honorable, esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear – in all things (Hebrews 13:4). The “high thought” of our culture about marriage is to just get out of it; if it’s not working to your satisfaction. Here’s the thing, people seem to understand that businesses, education and success in general, take years to obtain. It’s accepted and expected that there will be highs and lows, good times and not-so-great times; but you don’t give up. Marriage, just like new businesses, is like birthing a baby. You’ll often hear entrepreneurs refer to their businesses as their babies. Marriage is the same. If something’s not working, you evaluate and strategically plan to improve that area. You set goals, put standard operating procedures in place. You do all that you can to ensure the success of the marriage. It amazes me that people go to training and workshops, work long hours and such for the success of their careers; but somehow think that marriage is just going to just be successful. If no has told you before, things don’t work that way. You are supposed to have a successful marriage; but it’s probably going to require you to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).

Psalm 34:19 (KJV) says: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. We are guaranteed victory! The scriptures are filled with encouragement for victory; as well as God’s love and faithfulness. We see it with Joseph in the prison, Daniel in the lion’s den, and the 3 Hebrew boys in the fire pit (just to name a few). They all endured some HARD circumstances, but they all overcame and were elevated.

Marriage was instituted by God, so I’m quite confident that yours will workout when you follow His lead. 1 Peter 3:8-9 (AMP) is a good guideline: Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each the others] as brethren (of one household), compassionate and courteous—tenderhearted and humble-minded. Never return evil for evil or insult for insult—scolding, tongue-lashing, berating; but on the contrary blessing—praying for their welfare, happiness and protection, and truly pitying and loving them. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God]—obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection. Invest in yourself and your spouse by spending time with God. You will begin to think like God, concerning your marriage. God is THE  ultimate mastermind; and He knows how to turn around your marriage….. in 24 hours. With Him, EVERYTHING is possible. Do you believe it?!