When Counting Your Blessings is Hard

by Dawn Oaks on June 26, 2016 · 4 comments

Counting BlessingsI was sitting in church this morning and was hit with a memory as if it was something that happened just yesterday.  In actuality, it was really 10 1/2 years ago.

Our youngest had been involved in a accident that caused part of one of his fingers to be amputated.  It was a surreal moment riding in an ambulance with my then 17 month old on my lap. His hand was bleeding profusely and the end of his finger was literally in a cup of ice on the other side of the rig near the paramedic.  How could this be happening I remember thinking?  We were transported to the local hospital which quickly determined that we would need to be transferred to Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.

Once in the ER at Children’s, the plastic surgeons arrived to begin developing a strategy for reattaching my son’s finger.  I imagined that they would whisk him away to the operating room, but instead they decided to not wait for an OR to open up and would do the necessary work right there in the ER.  We were in a relatively large private room.  Up to this point, Josh was amazingly calm. There was no question that God’s presence was there.

However, that calmness was fleeting when they began to prep him.  They would need his arm restrained to a straight board while he was also placed in a papoose restraint to minimize any movements while the surgeon worked.  The nurses tried to calm Josh.  The recreation therapist with all of her tricks and tips was also unsuccessful.  The restraints threw him into a cycle of fear and anger.  The surgeon finally looked at me with all seriousness and commanded me to start singing his favorite song.

I found myself frozen.  Of all the things in the midst of my son screaming and holding him in his blood drenched clothes, the surgeon wanted me to sing.  Wanted me to sing his favorite song.

I couldn’t!

Before we had children, there was an older couple in our church that had counseled with us.  When we first became pregnant, one of their nuggets of wisdom was to sing hymns over our children instead of regular children’s lullabies.  They encouraged us to flood our children with Biblical truth in all aspects of their lives from the very beginning.  Can you see where this is going?

We had taken Wayne and Ginnie’s advice.  And fast forward to that ER at Children’s hospital, I find myself frozen as the surgeon tells me to start singing my son’s favorite song.  How could I?  Could I really in the midst of watching my son undergo surgery, covered in his blood, and scared begin to sing Count Your Blessings. 

Are you getting the picture? Do you see the irony?  There in the middle of that chaos, hurt, and scared feelings, God was using the surgeon and my screaming son to remind me more than anyone that even in the most difficult times, we need to pause to Count Our Blessings naming them one by one. I began to sing.  As the very first strains of that hymn were heard being sung in that room in the ER, my son was overcome with complete peace.  I watched in astonishment with tears rolling down my face as my son became completely calm and surrendered in the moment.  I was convicted as I humbly continued singing realizing that the words were growing louder as some of the nurses joined in.

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But the story doesn’t end there…

Upon returning to the plastic surgery clinic a week later, it was determined that the grafting of our son’s finger did not take.  The prognosis by the doctors was 100% confidence that our son would still lose the end of his finger.  We turned to churches and friends for prayer.  The doctors offered nothing else for us to do, but to return in 6 weeks to assess the condition of his finger as the graft died away and fell from his hand. As a determined mom, I returned home to apply natural health strategies that I thought may offer some hope and lifted each treatment before the Lord.  It was now completely in His hands.

After the six weeks, we did return to the plastic surgery clinic as scheduled.  The doctors and nurses were in astonishment.  God had allowed a miracle against all odds and restored our son’s finger.

In some ways, I wish the story ended there, but God had a bigger plan.  In our humanness we want to tell God thank you ever so much for that miracle.  We can now use that for quite some time in sharing your greatness and power so there is no need for additional trials.  But His plan is greater and sometimes that requires a journey that requires a greater uphill climb and battle.

Just 10 days after that follow up appointment in the plastic surgery clinic, our family would face one of the most horrific and surreal experiences of our life.  Yes, more horrific and surreal than your child having his finger amputated.  In the days to come, I remember people asking me in disbelief how I could be still standing in the face of the adversity that we were facing. I shared countless times in those days how I served a God that grows back fingers and performs miracles.  I shared with them the important lesson I had learned in Counting My Blessings and Naming them One by One.

The days were not easy.  Many challenges would come to us especially over the course of that year.  However, I could still stand because I knew the author of the miracle and the one worthy of my praise for each blessing.  The key was in keeping my eyes on God and not just our circumstances, because God is always more powerful than the circumstances around us.  Sometimes He allows us to endure those days to show forth a miracle of healing and sometimes it is because we need the blessings of initial challenges to carry us through those that are yet to come.  And yes, there are those times that through sharing these experiences, we can also encourage one another.


Keep counting your blessings.  Say them out loud. Record them in a journal.  Share them with a friend.  Utter them as worship and praise to our Savior. Give them as a gift and legacy to your children so that as they grow they may too know where to focus there eyes and place their hope.


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Our Homeschool Year in Review 2015 – 2016

by Dawn Oaks on June 24, 2016 · 5 comments

2016 Review


The 2015-2016 school year has certainly been one of transitions and accomplishments from start to finish.  We have seen firsts and lasts.  We have cheered and cried.  And yes, we have learned some things along the way.

Our school year actually kicked off with moving Rucia into her new life at college.

Once we got Rucia all settled in, our school year got underway at home.  It soon became apparent that time management and doing what it took to adjust were going to be key elements to our new year.  I made the transition to being employed once again.  It was wonderful that my new job allowed me to work from home, but it did mean that I was not always accessible.  The boys especially felt this change as they learned to work more independently and to schedule their school day to some degree around my meeting schedule and work commitments.  Mom was not always available to do Math when they got around to it.  They learned some critical time management skills in planning their day just as I did in juggling home, work, and school.

During our studies, Josh and I traveled to ancient civilizations using great literary works as well as a combination of textbook and unit studies for history.  We also spent time getting acquainted with the principles and foundations in Chemistry and Physics.  Meanwhile, Zechariah and I walked step by step through the events leading up to and through World War II.  He too combined his literature studies with history to really get differing perspectives during this critical period in World History.  A highlight of our year was an opportunity to tour a U.S. Landing Ship that was docked for a short time in Cincinnati on the Ohio River.

Life on a LST

Michaela’s studies were focussed on finishing up some high school requirements as well as preparing her for what would come after high school.  She focussed on personal finance, which is an all too important subject to leave out before preparing for life on one’s own.  Anatomy and Physiology were also a heavy focus in preparing for her college studies in nursing.  Time management was a critical skill used time and time again during the year as Michaela found herself too juggling responsibilities in completing her studies, playing her final year of competitive volleyball, and working part-time at a local restaurant.

Outside the Classroom

Outside the classroom, we also some firsts and lasts.  The boys started shooting archery this year with our local homeschool group.  They are fortunate to be developing their skills while also competing in the National Archery in Schools Program.  They both enjoy it incredibly.  It has also shown us just how competitive they are, especially between one another.


As the boys began their training in archery, Michaela was bringing to a close her 8 year journey in playing competitive volleyball.  She was team captain this year, which helped her to really develop some additional leadership skills.  With lots of hard work, discipline, and dedication, the BCA Lions found themselves moving up to the most competitive bracket in their league and earning a 4th place ranking in the entire state.  Definitely a wonderful way to end a high school career!


The Culmination of Our Year

In some ways the time has sped by and in other ways it is hard to believe that it has only been a year.  Just last year at this time, we were in the midst of Rucia’s high school graduation and then adjusting to her living away from home while attending Northern Kentucky University.  We find ourselves with yet another wonderful graduation celebration and the upcoming transition of helping Michaela get settled into her new life as a college freshman.  I think I could truly have 15 children and never get used to this growing up and transitioning into adulthood.  I guess we all get growing pains of one sort or another.  We are incredibly proud of both of our girls, but also grateful to have our boys home for a bit longer.

Congratulations, Michaela, on a job well done!

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Check out Math – the LearnBop Way

June 22, 2016

We recently had an opportunity to review a new Math supplement and found ourselves questioning whether it couldn’t really be a full math curriculum.  When this opportunity first arose, I really was convinced that there are small variations, but most math programs are the same. I now stand corrected. We reviewed the LearnBop for Families […]

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Traditional Logic from Memoria Press ~ A Product Review

May 23, 2016

Those of you that have been following our homeschool journey over the years know that our family does not stick to one strict method of homeschooling.  In being more eclectic in our approach, I love to get to know what companies can be depended upon as we reach into Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, and other […]

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Saturday Happenings on the Farm

May 7, 2016

So many times friends are intrigued about life on the farm.  Today’s happenings include trimming and weeding our little blackberry and raspberry orchard.  Phase 2 of this project is bringing in materials to start building raised beds around them.  This will eventually be filled with wonderful organic black platinum mulch supplied by the wonderful ladies […]

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Kwik Stix – A New Flare in Painting {A Review}

May 4, 2016

We were pleased to receive the Kwik Stix 12 pk from The Pencil Grip, Inc to review.  It is always a lot of fun when you can get creative with a review and creative is exactly what we got. I have to say that I am one of “Those” parents.  I listen to friends chat about […]

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Spring Brings New Life on the Farm

April 29, 2016

The signs of Spring on the farm just have a way of reminding me of new life.  New life can mean so many things.  Hope.  A Promise of the Future. Growth.  And Life Itself. It is a reminder that there are cycles to life.  A season for all things.  I am not sure what season […]

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A Pivotal Moment in Our Homeschool Journey

April 13, 2016

There are certain moments in our lives that should really be pivotal.  High school graduation is one of those moments and I am happy to incorporate our most recent review of graduation supplies from HomeschoolDiploma.com.  Central to this will be our daughter’s diploma which was custom designed using the many options afforded when purchasing their […]

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Tips for Homeschool Parents – #1 Flexibility

March 30, 2016

As a member of the Review Crew from the Old Schoolhouse, I am participating this week in a series on 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents.  This first tip has been prompted by none other than life itself. Life has a way of throwing a curve into any well laid out plan.  And that […]

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Homeschooling High School with a Vocational Focus

March 17, 2016

When our family first began homeschooling, our thought was that each of our children would attend a four year college after their high school graduation to further their education. Struggles with some learning disabilities in one of our children brought us to further consider this initial assumption. The fundamental question is not what we want, […]

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