We Went to Africa – Travel Series! (Part 1)

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We. Went. To. Africa!!!

Can I let you in on a little secret?

My three kids and I have all gone to Africa this year. And not just once. We’ve gone again and again and again!

How so?

I know you may be giving me the side-eye right now, but let me explain.

Our daily homeschool life is filled with tons of reading, hands on projects and plenty of field trips to cool places in the tri-state area. We’ve also focused on learning about and enjoying our place within the story of Africa. Oh the beautiful sights, such wonderful cultures and diverse people are found in the land of our ancestors! We have fallen head over heels in love with our Motherland. That is why we couldn’t only go just once. And every time it was from the comfort of our own home!

With this series, I want to share some of our “travel” experiences and give you a first-class ticket of your own!

You’re in for an unforgettable time, get ready to take flight!

Part 1: Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia

Day #1 – Ethiopia

Travel Music:

What’s a trip without some travel music? You won’t need ear buds for this one. Feel free to blast this song to the max!

Travel Guide:

Africa Is Not a Country by Mary Burns Knight & Mark Melnicove

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We grabbed this “travel guide” from our local library and turned to page 23 to find out about our first destination, Ethiopia. It will aid you on your trip to Africa’s eastern shores.

The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela: A Tale From Africa by Christina Kessler

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We really enjoyed this story folks. So much so, we had to follow up with some honey tasting! Mmmm! Go ‘head and grab you a jar of this goldeny goodness, I promise you won’t regret it. 😉

In-flight Movie:

Did you know there’s something cool, yet still ancient about the town named after a King who legend has it, even the bees obeyed?

Be sure to catch the “in-flight movie” In Focus: The Lalibela Churches (of Ethiopia), to see the breathtaking stone-cut churches in the town of Lalibela.

Meet the locals: 

Once you land, you have to get acquainted with the people who call this country home. Teenagers, Addisu and Habtam, are excited to meet you and show you around.

Your tour guides await!

 Afterwards, feel free to continue your explorations on this site. 🙂

Day #2 – Djibouti

Travel Music:

Listen to this song to get in the mood for more travel and fun. It’s chock full of facts and is pretty catchy too. Dance and sing along with characters from the animated educational series, Arthur. You’ll find out D.W. (Arthur’s kid sister) has a lot to say about Africa and you won’t want to miss it! There’s an episode from which this song came. It covers plenty other African countries as well. Watch it here:

Catch a Flick:

The U.S. is known as a melting pot of cultures and ideas but did you know that title is not too far fetched for the country of Djibouti as well? It borders the Red Sea, is extremely close to Yemen and is surrounded by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. Not to mention and it was formerly a French colony. Though small in stature, this country is bursting with culture! See more here:

Tourist Attractions:

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Looking for something to keep the kids busy while on your trip? Check out Lake Assal, the world’s saltiest lake located right here in Djibouti.

And while you’re at it, since salt mining is common in this country, why not take it to a whole new level and “mine some salt” of your own?

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Day #3 – Somalia

Tired yet? Hope not. Get ready to see Somalia!

Travel Music:

Sing along and learn the Somali alphabet!

Travel Guide:

Refer to page 30 of your travel guide, Africa Is Not a Country, by Mary Burns Knight & Mark Melnicove for pointers on today’s trek.

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The well known children’s book, Jumbo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book, by Muriel Feelings, is a must read when trying to grasp the language so akin to numerous East Africans, including the people of Somalia.

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Good Eats:

I know you’re familiar with sun-dried tomatoes, but in Somalia, solar-cooking is taken to another level! See how it’s done in this video:

And in case you wanna try some solar cooking of your own, here’s a solar oven you can make.

Happy travels folks! 

Who knows, we may happen to bump into each other. My kids and I have been traveling these countries this week as well. 😉

Thanks for reading. Be sure to join us next week for Part 2 of the We Went to Africa series! We’ll be going to Egypt, Sudan and Libya.

See you soon and I hope you don’t get too jet-lagged from all your traveling. 😉

Blessings,

Courtney

** Please note: I must give credit where credit is do. I stumbled upon our first “trips” to Africa from a fellow homeschool mama by the name of Morah Alizah. She has tons of knowledge and great information on her own blog/website. She helped shape our initial introductions to Africa which have morphed into what they are today. So I must give her a huge shout out and cyber hug! You can see what she’s up to at www.morahsheli.com. 🙂

A Good Good Father

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I’d like to think my husband is a good father. On any fatherhood aptitude test, he’d knock it out the park!

He is a patient man! I mean, you’d have to be in order to endure the most determined of gut punches from a relentless three-year-old little boy.  And to be honest, some of those land in “parts unknown” (if ya know what I mean), which takes the utmost stamina to withstand.

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Each day he leaves for work, my hubby humors our three kids’ insistence on carrying out their tailor-made goodbye rituals, some of which last one whole minute per kid! During the slow-ticking sixty seconds, he receives repeated forehead and cheek kisses, a nose rub and in the words of our son Curt-Curt, a “pound it” (or fist bump) for good measure.

But what floors me the most, is how he handles times of pressure. I would say he takes the cake every time by remaining cool-headed in these trying situations. That’s actually what I admire the most about his parenting style. I learn a lot just by watching him manage overly worked tears, emotional breakdowns and in many times complete madness.

Wait, that’s from me! 😉

But seriously, he really impresses me when we face a crisis of some sort with our kids. This is why when midnight drama ensues from one of them, I usually follow his lead. 

I know I’ve written about our kids’ twilight escapades before. I’m writing about them now in this post and I’m pretty sure I’ll write about them again. It just happens that way when you have young children. 

For the last day or so, we’ve been dealing with a developing situation in which one of our kids has been struggling with fear. This isn’t foreign to us. And quite honestly, I can’t complain because for years, my poor parents dealt with the same antics from me.

The running joke that I can’t live down at any family dinner is how I laid claim to a spot right on the edge of my sister’s bed. This happened more nights than I’d like to admit up until I was thirteen! 

So, you’d think what I’m going through with my own kid would be a cake walk. But it’s funny how now that I’m on the other side of things as a parent, my child’s fear seems completely unreasonable! 

Last night, against our typical rule of thumb when it comes to sleeping arrangements, it was evident we needed to budge a little and allow this child a space in our bed. All signs were pointing to a meltdown if we didn’t. And let’s face it, who really wants to deal with that at 1 A.M.?! 

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Once we turned on a light, closed the door to our dark closet and the child in question was safely cradled in daddy’s arms you would’ve thought that would’ve been the end of it. 

Well, not this time. Their little body quivered even more. The tears continued to flow and that tiny face was buried deeper under the blankets. 

Remember how I said I’m not typically as long suffering when it comes to these sorts of things? Well, just as I began to wonder how this set up didn’t resolve things, I then knew our coaxing was falling on deaf ears. Despite the obvious fact, Mommy and Daddy were right there. 

Next, we tried a different approach. We sang worship songs to try and soothe this troubled heart. Our hope was that singing about the enduring truths of who God is would calm them. 

Wrong again! It turns out my 1 A.M. “husky register” is not for the faint of heart! 

Even playing the worship song, “Good Good Father”, popularized by contemporary Christian artist Chris Tomlin, on our iPhone couldn’t solve our dilemma.

With nothing else to lose, we decided to turn in prayer to the one to whom we sang.

It was then the good, Good Father stepped in. 

Before we could utter an amen, all shaking had subsided. Hyperventilation ceased and the soft rising and falling of our young one’s chest indicated sleep had found its rightful place with this child. 

I was blown away how as soon as we entrusted the ultimate care of our child to their Heavenly Father, he did the rest. 

This doesn’t mean my husband isn’t a good dad or that I’m a subpar mom. No, we aren’t too shabby as parents if I say so myself (lol).

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But it was in this moment I was reminded of Psalm 139:13, 15-18. It’s a clear picture of how the Good Father cares for His children.

It says:   

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb…

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
They cannot be numbered!

I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!”

Hands down, the Good Father is a much better father than the most deserving recipient of that oversized hand-shaped foam glove scrawled with the words “#1 Dad”!

He. Just. Is. 

Period. 

The way I saw God the Father intervene and take care of our child right before our eyes was breathtaking. Once he stepped in, our warm-hearted calming attempts couldn’t compare. He showed us right then and there that he truly is not only a good father, but THE good, good Father!!

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Thanks for reading! If this encouraged you, feel free to share it and if you haven’t done so already, feel free to hit the “follow me” button so you can get more posts like this!

Blessings,

Courtney

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is how my 1 A.M. solo was supposed to go!  

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When Jesus Says Yes

When Jesus say, “Yes,” nobody can say, “No.”
When Jesus say, “Yes,” nobody can say, “No.”

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This hypnotic melody sung by Michelle Williams definitely speaks truth! If you’re a bit unfamiliar with her, she is 1/3 of the hip shaking, hit making, chart breaking early 2000’s girl group Destiny’s Child.

Though she once passionately implored us, “ladies leave your man at home!”

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On her 2014 cross-over Gospel hit, Say Yes, my girl Shelley hit the nail on the head!

The underlying tone and mood of the music video speaks volumes. In it, you see Michelle with her famous friends grooving to the beat while celebrating life, laughter and friendship.

The lyrics themselves set the stage for the message she hoped to communicate:

“I’m not worried ’bout a thing

‘Cause I know You are guiding me

Where You lead me, Lord, I will go

I have no fear ’cause I know who’s in control”

Powerful!

In my house there’s two little girls who love to dance and sing so this song is on continual repeat. If I’m honest, I like it too. There’s just something about singing about our God!

However, there’s another side to this song that we may overlook. It’s true, when Jesus says, “Yes!”, nobody can so no. But what about the times when his “yes” comes in a form we least expect? Or what if it’s (gasp) a “yes” we don’t like?

In June 2012, I found myself staring down this reality. My husband and I had just discovered we were going to have a ‘destiny’s child’ of our own. See what I did there? 😉

With most of the early memories of this pregnancy pretty hazy, one thing is for sure, I’ll never forget the reaction I had once the pregnancy test gave me a “yes” of its own.

You see, we were in the throngs of a very trying season. We already were the parents to two amazing little girls, who were only one and three years old at the time. Then, at some point in the equation (we didn’t plan on it), but we found ourselves apart of the tax-payer funded food stamp program. Debt collectors knew ALL of my numbers and shut off notices were the norm! To top it off, the Master’s degree I once found pride in, offered no relief in the midst of all this struggle.

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Upon learning another baby was on the way, I was none too thrilled! In my shock, anger and extremely visible disappointment, I was becoming bitter with God. One day, I declared to my husband that I had decided we wouldn’t be announcing the coming arrival of this baby until my belly could tell no more lies. However, if you knew me at the time, you’d find this pretty hilarious since I was skin and bones despite already being a mother of two!

Nevertheless, I made up my mind to want no parts of Jesus’ “yes” for my life. The only yes I wanted to hear would relieve our present circumstances.

It’s interesting how so many of us can hear a song like Michelle Williams and get carried away with rocking to the beat and miss the heart of the lyrics.

I can’t knock any of you if that’s your story because it was obviously mine. Shoot, I was so caught up with singing the ad libs to even notice Jesus runs everything!

This is why it’s crucial for those of us who are Christians to not only read the Word but to also be students of the Word. God in His mercy, will reveal so much more to us if we would turn down the music and give him a listen instead.

I think Michelle would agree that our old friend Job knows a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ about when Jesus says, “yes”. Oh and that’s pronounced [J-O-E-B]. You know with the hard “o” sound not the soft “o” that we typically hear in the actual word ‘job’. As in the job we need to clock into every day to get paid! Lol Okay, let me get out of my homeschooling phonics bag. I’m sure I’m going to catch major side-eye from my husband due to all this corniness! 🙂

Job (from the Bible), not who you may have seen depicted on a South Park episode, faced some pretty peculiar challenges.

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He found himself experiencing the symptoms of God saying, “yes”to a rather shifty character!

Job 1:6 sets the scene. There was a day when the angels came to present themselves before the Lord and who would show up but Satan himself!

I know, the nerve right?

Well, this creature of old, that sly serpent and OUR adversary, decided he too would go and have a few words with the Almighty.

When God asks where he has been, Satan replies, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Ugh, doesn’t he just make your skin crawl?!

Anyway, as the exchange continues, we learn Satan doesn’t balk at the opportunity to do exactly what scripture tells us he’s a pro at, seeking someone to devour. He proceeds to wreak havoc on Job’s life.

And with God’s permission no less! Maaaaan, that’s a blog post for another time!

Soon, the negative side effects of Job’s unsuspecting involvement in a heavenly wager start to take their toll.

He loses his children, his wealth and ultimately his health, just shy of losing his very life. Can you imagine the salt in Job’s fresh wounds when his unhelpful friends come for a visit? Not only do they question Job’s character, they actually may have won the award for “Worst Human Beings to Ever Live” when they suggest he chuck something other than deuces at God and commit suicide.

This unwanted sick and shut-in ministry may seem disturbing but there’s a glimmer of hope…

God’s MIGHTY hand in all this was big enough to hold Job together despite all his problems!!

By the close of this drama, we find a much happier ending. Job does not curse God. And Job does not die. In fact, quite the opposite happens. May I suggest you read the rest of the story so you can marvel at the awesomeness of God?

Well, you may be wondering how this relates to the start of my post.

You see, the underlying assertion in Michelle’s song implies that the yeses of Jesus are about happy, go-lucky sorts of things.

This is correct.

But…

 I would go one step further and add when Jesus says “yes” we have to also accept the fact that His yes transcends the boundaries of our preferred yes.

My “yes” and/or the “yes” I want to hear from Jesus is often a self-centered yes. I mostly want his yes to lead to my happiness, my peace, my blessing, and ultimately my comfort.

I must never neglect the reality that he actually is Lord over all and can say yes whenever, wherever and however he likes! To sum this up in a word…he is Sovereign.

Its my job as his follower to accept this and Him as such.

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Though, right now, I’m not suffering from the heart ache of child-loss or the physical pain of boils like Job did, I still face some pretty hard yeses from Jesus at times.

If we read the receipts of countless others in Scripture we might realize our need to open our ears a little bit more to what a “yes” on Jesus’ lips sounds like.

Ask Abraham. Ask Samuel. Ask David. Ask the three Hebrew boys. Ask the disciples. Ask Paul. And then ultimately, ask Jesus himself!

I’m sure they all experienced many joys from a Divine “yes”. But let’s not be too hasty to forget they were also well acquainted with some equally painful yeses.

The next time we find ourselves humming along to our soul’s rendition of Say Yes, we may benefit from not only mouthing the words but by also prudently heeding them.

It’s for sure that on this one, Michelle definitely got it right.

And so can we!

We merely have to tune our heart’s radio to Jesus’ heavenly chorus in order to experience the fulness of life that he brings.

Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next time!

Until then, I’ll fade you out with this: