How My Small yes Changed My Family in a BIG Way

How My Small yes Changed My Family in a BIG Way - jenniferajanes.com

Note: I received a free copy of Rhinestone Jesus as part of the book’s launch team. Anything I say about the book is my honest opinion. I was not required to write anything positive about the book. (I was not even required to write a traditional review!) This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site!

How My Small yes Changed My Family in a BIG Way

Reading Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch has wrecked me. I have spent the past two weeks reading it and wondering how I can say YES to what God is asking from me, from my family. But the more I prayed as I finished up the last couple of chapters, the more I realized I have already said YES in small ways that God has used to change my family—and me—in BIG ways.

*     *     *

I’m watching my younger daughter attempt to crochet a purse of her own design. She is smart, funny, and creative, and I can’t imagine our lives without her. As she once told us, “I’m glad God gave me to this family. Y’all wouldn’t laugh very much without me!” She’s right.

It’s startling to think that it could have all ended much differently. Both of my girls had choroid plexus cysts (CPCs) during my 19-week ultrasounds. This led to general freaking out on the part of our OB and to level 2 ultrasounds in a bigger city where they had all the fancy equipment. And we went through that both times. The difference was that, with my second daughter, there were several CPCs, and they were the largest my OB had ever seen. Before we ever left the office, he was talking termination and was spouting off the timeline we had to get everything done by. I stopped him before he finished telling me all the legalities and told him my yes:

“I did not give this baby life, and I can’t take it away. I will go and have the level 2 scan done, but nothing it shows will change my mind about this. I will not terminate this pregnancy.”

Four days later we were in another city, getting the level 2 scan done. The specialists doing and reading the ultrasound agreed. The CPCs were BIG.

The interesting thing was that, as in our older daughter’s scan, they didn’t find any other markers. We met with the genetic counselor to find out our risk factors and declined an amniocentesis. With no other markers, our chances of our second baby having Trisomy 18, which was the big scare, were not that great. Our older daughter was fine, and I had a peace that our younger daughter would be okay too.

But even if the scan had shown something different, I would have stayed firm in my resolve to give this child whatever life God had planned for her.

By my 30th week, the CPCs were no longer visible on the ultrasound in my OB’s office, so another level 2 ultrasound was unnecessary. Again, there were no other markers visible, so we anticipated nothing unusual.

In a plot twist only God could have foreseen, my younger daughter was born with special needs. Would they have shown up in the amnio testing? Maybe, but I doubt it. Genetics specialists are still trying to develop the tests necessary to test her!

I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. But knowing everything I know now—everything we would go through, everything we might go through, the uncertainty of the future—would I change anything?

No. I would still say yes. God has a plan for my daughter’s life just like He does for everyone else’s. She will fulfill her purpose, and I’m excited to see just how God works in and through her!

And, if I hadn’t said yes, I would miss out on moments like the one that occurred in my kitchen one morning this week:

DD: What are y’all talking about?

Me: Abraham Lincoln.

DD: Oh. Isn’t he the guy who died in that war?

Me: No, he’s the President who was assassinated in a theater.

DD: Oh, right. And he’s the same one who wore the invisible clothes, right?

Me: Are you talking about the emperor’s new clothes?

DD: Yeah, that guy!

Me: Uh, no. The emperor wasn’t a real man. That story is fiction. It’s not real.

DD: Really?! It was a made up story?!

Why would I ever want to miss out on awesomeness like that?

(You can read about another one of my yes moments at Comfort in the Midst of Chaos in Gas, Giggles, and a God-sized YES!)

Rhinestone Jesus Giveaway

Tyndale Momentum has provided me with TWO copies of Rhinestone Jesus to give away!

Here are the rules:

  • You must be a resident of the United States and 18 years old or older to enter.
  • You enter by leaving a comment telling me one YES you’ve said to God.
  • You may only leave one comment, and you must leave it before Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at 9:00 pm CDT. (Duplicate entries and comments left after this time will be deleted.)
  • Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the giveaway ends and must respond with their full names and a valid mailing address within 24 hours—or another winner will be chosen.

Official release day for Rhinestone Jesus  is May 1, 2014. If you’re interested in ordering now, you can get some extra goodies with your pre-order through midnight on April 30, 2014.

Of course, you could always order now for the extras—and enter to win. If you win a copy, you can always give one away to a friend! What are you waiting for?

Posted in Be Fully Persuaded, Book Reviews, Encouragement, Faith, Giveaway, Parenting, Review, Special Needs | 12 Comments

How I Juggle Special Needs Parenting and Homeschooling

How I Juggle Special Needs Parenting and Homeschooling - jenniferajanes.com

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How I Juggle Special Needs Parenting and Homeschooling

Unlike the woman in the graphic above, I have no tiara, never wear heels, and definitely can’t balance the whole world in my hands. I am pretty good at juggling, though. Being the mom of a child with special needs, and a homeschooling mom at that, has taught me a few things over the past nine years.

I realize that time management is an issue for every mom, but when you add a child with special needs into the mix, things quickly get out of control. There’s homeschooling, extracurricular activities, field trips and sessions with your local homeschool group or co-op, church, and family—and then you add therapy sessions, doctor appointments, trips to various specialists (many requiring out-of-town travel), and medication to dispense multiple times a day. In my case, there are also weekly infusions to give and regular conferences with the immunologist and specialty pharmacy about those treatments, their effectiveness, and the number of infections she’s having. And then there’s the need to nourish a marriage, support a sibling, and sleep in the very brief 24 hours a day granted to me.

It’s a lot. In fact, it’s overwhelming. Do you constantly feel like you’re not getting everything done? Do you feel like you’re not doing enough—in your homeschool, in your housework, in your personal life?

What’s a mom to do? It’s definitely a juggling act.

Here are some ways to juggle it all (and stay sane):

  1. Realize you can’t do it all. That’s right. If you feel like you can’t get everything done, you’re going to have to learn to embrace that feeling and find ways to live with it. It is physically impossible to do everything we feel like we must get done every day. We expect too much of ourselves. We only have twenty-four hours in a day, and we really need to sleep seven to eight of those hours if we’re going to be at our best for our families. But all is not lost. We can learn to manage the time we have better.
  2. Focus. Forget multi-tasking. Most people aren’t more productive when they multi-task, and some studies are coming out now that show that multi-tasking actually makes us less productive and can actually be bad for our brain function. We don’t have time for that! Instead, focus on one activity at a time. When you finish one, move to the next one. If you’re like me, trying to multi-task just leaves you with a lot of undone tasks because you flit from one to the other, never actually finishing anything.
  3. Accept help. As much as I would like to be able to do everything myself, I have had to accept that I need help. I give my children age- and ability-appropriate tasks to help me with around the house. My husband helps me when he’s not traveling for work. My mom comes in once a week and pitches in when she visits. (Although I don’t expect it, I don’t turn it down when she does!) I have some friends who will step in and help out. I used to be humiliated by the idea of someone stepping into my mess, but I’ve come to realize that I need the help, and I can get along better by accepting it.
  4. Say no. You cannot do everything everyone asks you to do. It’s not humanly possible. Prayerfully set goals for yourself and your family and say no to everything that doesn’t fit those goals. I heard Tricia Goyer speak at a conference last fall, and she said she and her husband wrote down everything that was on their schedule and categorized each item as 1 (things you MUST do), 2 (things you SHOULD do), 3 (things you enjoy and want to do), or 4 (things you do because you’re afraid to say no or because you wanted to look good or have the kids look good). Cut out everything on the 4 list and some of the things on the 3 list. Later, items on the 3 list can be added back in occasionally as you get a better handle on your schedule. I am still working on doing this, and it is difficult, but freeing!
  5. Build margin. As you whittle your schedule down as much as possible using Tricia Goyer’s method, you’ll find a little more breathing room. This will motivate you to continue looking for ways to build more margin in your life so that you and your kids have some time to rest and participate in activities you enjoy—at home.
  6. Rotate subjects. You don’t have to do every subject every day. We start with Bible, reading, language arts, and math every day. Then we work in and rotate the other subjects throughout the week. This makes the load much more bearable. Find what works for your family, and stick with that.
  7. Schedule time for your spouse and other children. It sounds funny to talk about making appointments to do this, but that’s the only way I’ve found to make sure it happens on a regular basis. My husband and I have a monthly date night (free childcare is provided by our church once a month at a Parents’ Night Out), and my older daughter and I get to have “dates” sometimes when my mom is in town to spend time with my younger daughter so we can slip away.
  8. Use your time wisely. Like to read? Take a book to therapy sessions and doctor appointments. Waiting rooms are notoriously, as my daughter says, “wait-long” rooms. Have you been longing to learn to knit or crochet? Take it with you when you leave the house. Waiting for the kids to finish at an extracurricular activity gives you time to experiment. Want more time to write? Grab a tablet or netbook that will work offline. You can put all that time waiting to good use! Of course, there are times that there will be another parent who needs a listening ear and some encouragement, but many times, there will be time for you to do something you enjoy. (Another option is to get up earlier than your family does, but that’s very difficult for me to do as a born night owl. When I manage it, I do seem to get a lot more done during the day!)

What are your best tips for juggling special needs parenting and homeschooling? Please leave them in the comments!

For more great articles about how homeschool moms juggle the situations they find themselves and their families in, check out this great list by the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

How Homeschool Moms Juggle with iHomeschool Network - jenniferajanes.com

Posted in Homeschool, Parenting, Special Needs | 6 Comments

When the Seemingly Bad is Good

When the Seemingly Bad is Good - jenniferajanes.com

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site!

When the Seemingly Bad is Good

Last week I had to take Princess Roo to the endocrinologist for a check-up. (She’s doing well and has grown enough that she’s been discharged from that clinic. It’s always good to cross one specialist off the list. Thanks for asking! :) ) About a week before we had to go, I looked at my tires and was shocked to see how worn they were. I began praying that they would be okay for the trip to Children’s and back. It’s almost 300 miles round-trip, so I was concerned with good reason.

The day before the appointment, I was out running errands, trying to get everything done before we left. My mom had stopped by and offered to keep the kids for a little while, so I was alone in the van, which was unusual. When I approached the first stop sign, I heard a noise that sounded like something was stuck in my tire. (If the kids had been in the van with me, chattering and singing, I never would have heard it.)

I nervously drove to the first stop on my to do list, and I went around to the passenger side of the van. The front tire looked okay, but I found a metal spike of some sort stuck in the rear tire. I called my husband, and he had me drive carefully to meet him at a tire shop to get the spike removed and the tire repaired.

After I arrived at the tire shop and he examined my tires, my husband came to the same conclusion I had reached the week before. My tires were shot. There was no way that the shop would repair the damaged tire. It was too far gone. We were forced to make the very difficult (and costly) decision to buy a full set of tires for the van.

Finally, after a week of praying for protection on this trip to Children’s, of believing for God to watch over my daughter and me as we traveled on worn out tires, of being more concerned about the safety of my tires than the oil leak we’re praying about getting repaired, I had peace about the tires.

The cost of the new tires pinched us financially in a way we could barely stand to be pinched. The decision was difficult even though it was the right one. But before I went to bed that evening, I was able to thank God for the nail in the tire. I was able to see that in allowing something bad to happen (the nail in the tire), God potentially protected us from something worse (a blowout on interstate, an accident, etc.).

The feelings I had about that silly nail were perfectly summarized in a quote I read in Anything by Jennie Allen. Her friend Rachel said,

“You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don’t know the difference.”

That’s it. We don’t know the difference. But God, in His infinite wisdom, does. I’m learning to trust Him and His goodness—even in the seemingly bad.

For more from the Be Fully Persuaded series, click the graphic below:

Be Fully Persuaded - jenniferajanes.comI’m speaking at Teach Them Diligently Convention in Dallas this summer. Will you join me there, or will you attend another location?

Teach Them Diligently Convention Banner

 

Posted in Be Fully Persuaded, Encouragement, Faith, Growth, Special Needs | Leave a comment

Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior? Workshop Re-Cap

Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior Workshop Re-Cap - jenniferajanes.com

Note: This workshop was offered in my community as part of Autism Awareness Month. I paid to attend the workshop and am sharing some of what I learned because of the value of the information for parents and others who work with children with SPD. I received no compensation for writing this post, and it contains no affiliate links.

Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior? Workshop Re-Cap

On Saturday, I had the honor of hearing Carolyn Murray-Slutsky and Betty Paris present the Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior? Workshop based on their book with the same title. I was very impressed that they were able to discuss the concepts in their presentation in a way that was easy to understand for the parents, childcare workers, and teachers present. (The continuing education workshop for therapists had been the day before.)

This is a brief re-cap of the information presented in the workshop.

Sensory Integrative Dysfunction (also known as Sensory Processing Disorder) is a neurological disorder that the child can’t control. It can affect a child’s learning and behavior.

The first question to ask yourself when you’re looking at a child’s behavior is: Is the behavior being used to obtain something or avoid something?

Next, ask yourself if the behavior serves a social/communication purpose (to avoid or obtain something) or if it’s sensory in nature?

The workshop focused on Sensory Modulation Disorder. Modulation is regulating or adjusting to stay at a certain level—the optimal level for functioning.

The three subtypes of Sensory Modulation Disorder are over-responsive, under-responsive (passive), and sensory seekers. (A child may fall into more than one subtype.)

Over-responsive kids are sensory avoiding. They tend to have emotionally charged reactions; avoid and escape activities and environments; avoid people and situations; have difficulty with transitions, changes of plans, and activities; and are overly sensitive to noise, movement, touch, or sounds.

These children need help coming down into the optimal level for functioning. They tend to live in fear/flight/fight mode. Some modifications we can make for them at home and in class are:

  • Limit environmental stimuli.
  • Provide preferential seating and placement in lines.
  • Use a low, calm voice. Avoid being enthusiastic and animated.
  • Structure environment, tasks, and activities.
  • Give choices.
  • Provide heavy work throughout the day to decrease arousal levels.
  • Foresee emotional crisis. Teach coping strategies and to advocate for themselves.

Under-responsive (passive) kids have nervous systems that aren’t set to respond to stimuli at normal levels. They seem uninterested and withdrawn; overly tired and apathetic; are difficult to engage; won’t answer when called; stay to themselves; wander aimlessly; are compliant but don’t seem to be learning; and do not engage in tasks that aren’t stimulating (like writing).

These children need us to make all experiences more concentrated with sensory information so that their threshold for sensory input will be met so they can respond and answer cues in the environment.

Home and class modifications for under-responsive kids include:

  • Increase sensory threshold to get the child to engage.
  • Use movement – circle time, music with faster tempos, jumping, exercises.
  • Be animated, enthusiastic, use gestures, generate high energy.
  • Use resistive mediums for fine motor tasks (finger paint, sandpaper under writing paper).

Under-responsive kids are kinesthetic learners. It is critical that we incorporate movement into their days.

Sensory seekers are under-responsive to sensory stimuli, so they’re always moving and doing things trying to reach the optimal level for functioning. The problem is that they don’t know when or where to stop when they get to optimal levels. They tend to be disorganized, may take safety risks, don’t notice if they’re dirty or hurt, turn in messy work, often tear the paper when writing, and have a difficult time organizing self, desk, and assignments. They are also active and fidgety, excitable, can’t sit still, run instead of walking, impulsive, active without appearing purposeful, and need to be physically active to attend and participate.

We can help sensory seekers with home and class modifications like:

  • Provide sensory motor breaks throughout the day.
  • Alternate between sit down tasks and activities with more energy.
  • Allow the child to move within limits.
  • Give the child heavy work – stack chairs, carry books.
  • Provide resistance to fine motor tasks – work on incline boards, put sandpaper under the writing paper.
  • Use weights or weighted vests.
  • Reduce feelings of inadequacy.

Things to remember when dealing with a child with Sensory Modulation Disorder:

  • They have no problem with their behaviors. You have the problem. Catch them coping well and praise them!
  • If the way a child communicates works for them, they will continue to do it. Don’t reinforce negative communication methods!

This is a very brief re-cap of a workshop that was over three hours long. There was much more information presented. I encourage you to check out the books and other resources available from Carolyn Murray-Slutsky and Betty Paris at their website http://STARservices.TV.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Google +!

Posted in Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs | Leave a comment

Back from the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo!

Back from the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo - jenniferajanes.com

Back from the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo!

Since I returned home from the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo, life has been a whirlwind of getting caught up on my sleep, appointments and more appointments, a death in the family, a funeral, doing tax preparation (yep, we waited until the last minute), and still more appointments. That’s why this post is long overdue, although I’ve been bubbling over with things to tell you since I got off the plane!

First of all, the Expo board has done a wonderful job of making a huge event seem small and cozy feeling. The locale is a large church that does not have the usual “vendor hall” feel. We were spread out all over the building, which made the whole shopping experience seem less overwhelming, and people stopped and talked more—just chatting with vendors and other participants as they walked through the hallways. The way the church is laid out also spreads out the 2000+ people who are on-site, so I never got the panicky feeling that I sometimes get in very large crowds of people. In short, it’s a good-sized conference with a small conference feel.

The speakers and vendors were amazing. There were many speakers and vendors whose names and products I recognized. I felt very blessed to be included in their number. So much great information was shared in the sessions that I saw many moms and dads walking around with glazed looks on their faces, trying to process it all. I have been there!

The Expo board members and volunteers are a talented and hard-working bunch of folks! They communicated with me from the time they asked me to speak until I got back on the plane, and I’ve emailed or texted with a few of them since I got home. They treated me like royalty during all of our interactions, and I’m so blessed to have met them all! My only regret is that we were all so busy during the Expo that we didn’t really have time to sit down and visit!

The people from the Greater St. Louis Area are very warm and friendly. They admitted to enjoying hearing my accent (which is nonexistent ;) ), but other than some good-natured teasing about the way I talk—and the fact that we all got a lot of mileage out of a misprint in the Expo’s program that changed my children’s ages and declared my husband’s name is Andrew (it’s actually Jeremy)—I felt just as comfortable as I do in my own community. What a blessing!

I also enjoyed the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo because I got to spend the weekend with Bill and Kristen Eckenwiler and their sons. They’re the family behind The Struggling Reader. They were my sponsors to Teach Them Diligently Convention in Nashville last year, and I enjoyed the time I spent with them there. It was great to reconnect and to get to know one another better at the Expo, even though Bill and Isaiah kept pulling pranks on me when I had to leave my booth to speak! We had a lot of fun together.

Bill and Isaiah Eckenwiler of The Struggling Reader

And Kristen and I got to do a session together!

Kristen Eckenwiler of The Struggling Reader and Jennifer A. Janes

On Friday night, I had supper with Melanie Wilson. I’m always looking for online friends to turn into IRL friends when I travel, and this time Melanie was the only taker! We had a great meal, and she even took me shopping for souvenirs for my family. It was nice to be able to talk through some of the homeschooling/blogging issues we’ve both been dealing with and how God is ministering to us and teaching us in those areas. Melanie is both authentic and transparent. I hope we can connect again soon!

Melanie Wilson and Jennifer A. Janes

I guess I wrote all of this to say: I had a great time at the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo. If you get a chance to go next year, GO!

Photo credits: Jennifer A. Janes

Posted in Be Fully Persuaded, Homeschool, Special Needs | Leave a comment

Why I’m a Special Needs Blogger

Why I'm a Special Needs Blogger - jenniferajanes.com

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site!

Why I’m a Special Needs Blogger

When I attended the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo at the end of March (more on that trip later this week!), I expected a lot of questions about homeschooling and parenting a child with special needs. What I didn’t expect was a lot of questions about blogging, how I became a blogger, how to become a blogger, etc. But I got them anyway, and I answered each one.

I didn’t aspire to be a blogger. For years, although I had a blog my brother had given me for Christmas one year (a free one set up on wordpress.com—a statement of his belief in me and my dreams), I didn’t know what to do with it. For years, I posted one or two sentences about something funny the kids had done or some random thought that popped into my head. I posted no graphics, didn’t use formatting, didn’t share on social media (didn’t use much social media!), nothing. I was trying to go the traditional print route. So I would write some pieces, submit them for publication, wait nine months, get accepted or rejected, and, if accepted, receive about $20 and a free copy of the magazine. It was a long, slow process, and I hated it.

During one of the periods when we were short on funds, I prayed again, begging God to show me how I could help my family from home. One day I very clearly felt Him speak into my spirit, “You can write.” I argued, “Yeah, I’ve already tried that, and you see how well that’s working out for me.” That’s when He dropped it on me, “You can blog. You’ve already got one set up that’s just sitting there.”

Ouch.

So I started blogging. I wrote longer posts (still with no pictures). I wrote weekly devotional posts to inspire and encourage others in their faith. I wrote about everything except what was consuming my thoughts on a daily basis—my younger daughter’s special needs, which were becoming more and more evident. As a result, writer’s block got worse and worse until I couldn’t write anything because I was ignoring the elephant in the room.

Finally, in April 2010, I wrote a confession post in which I shared about my struggles raising a child with special needs (still no graphics ;) ). Suddenly, I was unblocked. I could write again, and I did. The more I shared about life with my daughter—the surgeries, medical appointments, concerns, and later, the learning challenges and neurodevelopmental issues, the more I became known as a special needs blogger. I wasn’t writing nearly as many faith-based or devotional posts. I was angry. I argued with God again, telling Him I didn’t want to be a special needs blogger. He asked me if I wanted to have a writing ministry. I answered, “Of course!” Then He told me that I had to share what people needed to hear. If I wrote what *I* wanted to write, I wouldn’t be reaching very many people. So, I wrote special needs, and He has blessed me with a writing and speaking ministry beyond what I ever imagined.

The funny thing is, after walking this path for a while, it became obvious to others that I wasn’t just a special needs blogger. I was a Christian special needs blogger. And guess what? I was invited to write posts for some devotional sites that cater to parents of kids with special needs. I’ve come full circle, with a special needs twist.

I guess I said all that to say this: I’m a special needs blogger because that’s what God told me to be. He has a plan and a purpose for me, and I’m going along for the ride!

If you want to take a look at my most popular posts, you can see them listed here.

Want to see some articles I’ve written on other sites? Here are some of my most recent:

How to Blog

I’ve finally learned how to add pictures to my posts. *grin* I also use formatting and headings now too. A lot of bloggers have helped me learn along the way (although the old, embarrassing posts are still up for the world to see, and I haven’t gone back to make them “pretty” yet), including the bloggers of iHomeschool Network. Not only have I learned from them, but they think I have a thing or two to share myself! I have several chapters featured in the owner’s manuals written by bloggers for bloggers (or those who want to blog). They’re called iBlog and iBlog Pro, and from April 7-20, 2014, you can get both books for just $11.99, which is a savings of 25% over the regular price of $7.99 each! If you’ve ever thought about blogging, here’s your chance to learn everything you ever wanted to know! Get the iBlog Bundle today!

iBlog-Bundle-Sale

Posted in Blogging, Special Needs, Writing | 2 Comments

Autism Awareness 2014

Autism Awareness 2014 - jenniferajanes.com

Autism Awareness 2014

It’s April. It’s Princess Roo’s birthday month, and it’s Autism Awareness Month. I’m aware of the irony of having a child on the autism spectrum whose birthday is during Autism Awareness Month. We’re making plans to celebrate and, as always, I’m doing what I can to educate others and make them aware of what people with autism face.

I’m headed out to a local Autism Awareness rally now, and I’m decked out for the occasion.

Autism Awareness 2014 - jenniferajanes.com

The girls have chosen to wear blue today too, and we’re excited to see what support there is locally for the autism community.

I would also like to remind you of some resources you might want to read and share:

I participate in Autism Awareness Month because I believe it’s important. But I also have a very personal reason:

Girl with flower - jenniferajanes.com

Photo credits: Jennifer A. Janes

Posted in Autism, Special Needs | Leave a comment

The Best of . . . and What’s New

The Best of Jennifer A. Janes - and What's New - jenniferajanes.com

The Best of Jennifer A. Janes

Welcome! Whether you’re a regular visitor or a new friend from the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo (where I’m speaking this week), I want you to make yourself at home and help you find your way around a little better.

In case you missed some of my best-ever articles, here’s a list of my ten most popular posts of all time:

  1. Ultimate Guide to Sensory Integration Activities
  2. Ultimate Guide to Keeping CHRIST in Christmas
  3. Multisensory Homeschooling for Children with Special Needs
  4. 10 Reasons I Love My Well Planned Day Planner {Review}
  5. I Can’t Homeschool Because My Child Has Special Needs
  6. Planning Homeschool for the Struggling Learner
  7. Aslan’s Academy – Homeschool Curriculum 2012-13
  8. Aslan’s Academy Curriculum Choices for 2013-14
  9. Training in Righteousness: Using Child Training Bible
  10. Free and Frugal Gifts for Parents of Kids with Special Needs

If you’re interested in more of my homeschool, special needs, or review posts, please click through and have fun exploring the site! If you’re interested in testimonies of God’s faithfulness and answered prayer, have fun browsing the Be Fully Persuaded series.

What’s New

Even if you’ve already seen the best the blog has to offer, there are a few new things you may have missed!

  • My shop. Visit the shop page of my blog to find out how to purchase books I’ve co-authored and to get information about two books you can get absolutely FREE! There’s also a link to my Etsy shop, where you can find handmade items to purchase. (At least 10% of every sale goes to charity!)
  • Giveaway of Kirk Cameron’s latest DVD. If you love Kirk Cameron’s work as much as we do, check out my review of Mercy Rule, and be sure to leave a comment. I’m giving away two copies of the DVD!
  • A friend in need. A very dear friend of mine needs surgery. Please pray for Lena, and if you feel led to do something else, check out this post. (For those who are at the Expo, 20% of all crochet orders I take at the Expo will be donated to help pay for Lena’s medical expenses, and every Expo attendee gets 10% off the price listed in my Etsy shop!)

If you’re at the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo this week, please stop by and see me. I would love to meet you!

If you’re not at the Expo but are interested in what’s happening there, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to get live updates!

Posted in Be Fully Persuaded, Homeschool, Review, Special Needs | Leave a comment

Mercy Rule with Kirk Cameron {DVD Review}

Mercy Rule with Kirk Cameron {Review} - jenniferajanes.com

*I received a free Mercy Rule DVD from DeMoss (PR firm) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Mercy Rule with Kirk Cameron

I wasn’t a fan of Kirk Cameron when he was a Growing Pains star. (Sorry, Kirk!) I am, however, a huge fan and supporter of Kirk’s recent efforts to inform people about our nation’s Christian roots (Monumental), tackle tough questions from a faith-based perspective (Unstoppable) , and create movies that support marriage and family (Fireproof). For those reasons, I was excited about the opportunity to review Mercy Rule.

When I received Mercy Rule, my first thought was to check the rating to make sure the themes weren’t going to be too mature for my kids. (My mature 10-year-old watched Unstoppable with me, but I will wait several years before allowing my younger daughter to watch it.) I chuckled to myself when I read the rating: “KC – Kirk Cameron Approved. This film contains material that will inspire your family.” What more did I need to know? We all settled in to watch.

From the beginning, it was obvious that this was a Kirk Cameron production. If you’ve seen many of his films, you will understand what I mean when I say it was characteristic of his work. (If you don’t understand, you’re not watching enough Kirk Cameron productions! ;) ) What I wasn’t expecting was to feel a little lost in the beginning of the movie. Fortunately, that didn’t last long. I figured out what was going on and was completely engrossed.

Mercy Rule is about a family dealing with some issues surrounding the family business and the son’s baseball team. It is funny, heart-wrenching, suspenseful, and inspiring. We laughed and cried with the son and railed against the injustice of the dad’s situation at work. In the end, we were cheering them both on, anxiously awaiting the outcomes of both situations.

The slogan of Mercy Rule is “There’s no quit in family.” That’s what the entire movie is about—family staying together through the good times and bad, waiting for outcomes together, believing in God’s work in their circumstances.

How to Get Your Copy of Mercy Rule

Currently, Mercy Rule is only sold in Family Christian Stores or at familychristian.com, so you can definitely purchase them there.

You can also enter to win one of two DVDs provided for me to give away by DeMoss! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents ages 18 or older. The giveaway will end at 9:00 pm CDT on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random using the plug-in And The Winner Is. The winners will be notified by email within 24 hours of the end of the giveaway and will have 24 hours to respond by email with a valid mailing address so the DVD can be shipped. If I don’t hear back within 24 hours, I will choose a new winner(s). Entries will be closed at the end of the giveaway, and any entries added after that time or duplicate entries will be deleted.

Only one entry per household, please.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what recent Kirk Cameron productions you’ve seen, if any, and why you’re looking forward to seeing Mercy Rule.

 

Posted in DVD Reviews, Giveaway, Review | 11 Comments

The Blessing of Friendship

The Blessing of Friendship - jenniferajanes.com

The Blessing of Friendship

God has blessed me with many wonderful friends. Some of the most surprising friendships have come about through online interactions that have turned into real-life friendships. Many of my closest friendships that have come about in this way began online, continued through a face-to-face weekend at 2:1 Conference in April 2012, and have blossomed into beautiful friendships that drop me to my knees in gratitude.

One friendship that took this course actually began through a silly hashtag on Twitter. #embracethecrazy drew Lena Herrington and me into some fun conversations that eventually went offline to texts and phone calls, and I was thrilled to finally hug her neck when she picked me up at the airport when I traveled to 2:1! We spent a wonderful weekend together, and we were both sad to part when I had to leave for the airport again. (Truthfully, Lena bawled like a baby, but that’s another story. ;) )

Jennifer and Lena at 2 to 1 Conference

Fortunately, our friendship continued. The texts and phone calls fly back and forth almost daily. We laugh together, cry together, pray together, share successes and failures. We are believing to see one another in person again this side of heaven.

In the meantime, my friend is in pain. She is physically suffering and desperately needs to have surgery. She won’t have insurance for another couple of months, and even then, the hospital has told her that she’ll have to jump through a lot of hoops with insurance before they’ll schedule the surgery. She needs surgery now. 

Will you please pray for God to make a way for Lena to have her surgery—or to heal her completely?

To follow Lena’s progress, please check out her Caring Bridge site, and if you feel led to help with some of her medical expenses, please check out the fundraiser set up for her at GoFundMe.com.

Thank you so much for supporting Lena in prayer and in whatever ways you feel God leading you to help. You are a blessing to me, all of you.

Photo credit: Jennifer A. Janes
Posted in Be Fully Persuaded, Blogging for Good, Friends | 2 Comments