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Co-Op fun… {#barnschoolhomeschool}

Still can’t believe we are going on our 5th year of homeschooling! One of our favorite days is Mondays when our co-op friends come over! I think through the years–we have discovered is one of the best things to have with homeschool is a SMALL co-op group. It’s perfect for accountability–but smaller groups also help with flexibility AND order with peace:) I think 4 families is the MAX for a calm co-op–and having 3-4 moms to split up age group learning so you can dig deeper with different ages on similar subjects is fun to do at least once a week.

Then we all come together for things like history where all the ages can learn together:)


Looking forward to another week–and I can’t believe we’ve already been in our groove for OVER a month! I feel like summer just left us…although we are still swimming over here with it hitting 90 degrees today!

If you are on Instagram–I try to hashtag our homeschool fun at #barnschoolhomeschool so if you ever need homeschool inspiration or encouragement…or if you are in a homeschool funk–I would encourage you to find a few friends to co-op together. We post our lessons online through each week so we can stay on track together! It’s just $12 a year for 1 account–and all your peeps (moms and students alike) can look at the daily assignments with the plan book app!

Just a few things that we love…and another thing I LOOOOVE is this little dude! That chlorine face is mixed with grease from cheesy fries:) from his favorite place to play…Top Golf!


Hope you all have a sweet week!




A little peak in the farmhouse:)

Oh my. We have a work in progress on our hands that is for sure;)

I found a place for the cow:) In the living room area which is smack dab in the center of our house…


Every one says you should wait until you don’t have little ones to have a white couch. I disagree;). White is the easiest thing to keep clean–the only thing that bleaches back white;). The piano is in this room also–so when the kids have their lessons, the rest of the noisy bunch can move to the family room and we don’t get fired by our music teacher;)!

While many love clean walls and simplicity–I love filling them up with collages and memories. that goes for our staircase too.


I painted the “You’re gonna miss this” sign as a daily reminder when things are a mess, a child has forget their shoes (again!) or chaos is happening. I know one day I’m going to miss this noise of this home full of children. When people ask how many children we have, I can’t help but say “just five” because this momma’s heart will always long for more hearts to pour into. Richard assures me that we can adopt and foster again when our littles are bigger. They say a momma knows when her nest is full. I’m not sure my heart will ever feel that–or at least it hasn’t yet.

And speaking of little birds growing up–ONE of my baby birds…Frankie baby…has decided that approaching 7 means he needs to get rid of bunk beds. So I grieved taking down the bunks with the really cool bucket pulley system we made together (don’t worry–I safely tucked it away for when another little boy wants bunks!) I put the twin bed posts back on and just need to paint those to match the bed set from when I painted it last year when we made them in to bunks. Frankie baby is our little man who loves some football like his All-American UGA football player granddaddy! A peak into #3’s room…


See Frank’s laundry basket? He is Friday:) With 5 little ones–everyone’s basket has a day…making it easier to wash, fold and put away when everything goes back to the same room each day depending on who’s day it is!

The black square between the beds is for Frankie the 1st grader to work on his keeping track of SEC wins and losses using Western slash counting…


Now you football fans don’t get your britches all in a wad…we have NOT tallied wins and losses from today’s game. That’s always Sunday afternoon fun. I don’t want to hear anything about my Auburn Tigers people. Not a word;)

Hope you all are having a great weekend! Here’s a little love from the back pasture…






Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Foster and Adoption Placement

Yes. I am an adoption mom writing this. BUT. I’m an adoption mom in this world. This world that so often gets really confused really fast…about what we are called to as the hands and feet of Jesus, what it means to have a heart like Jesus and what it means to have open hands for what is best for the children we might be called to for a time be the voice for.

My husband and I are on a board for an orphan and widow organization in Zambia, Africa. Over 700 orphans (single or double–or children of widows) attend our school. I think zero of them need to be adopted by Americans, Australians, awesome Canadians or whatever other nationality may be. Our kids are not in orphanages–so they do not need to be adopted. (I do, however, think the kids in orphanages in Zambia very much need families…so if you are waiting on bringing a child home from an orphanage in Zambia…wait well and get ready for a crazy, unknown Zambian ride;) Our kids, however, are being cared for in their communities–and those who do not have parents are being fostered by other moms in our little village. They are getting to stay in their community, raised with their siblings and really–they have everything they need. And oh how they love Jesus! If you asked the kids would they like to go to America–100% of them would say yes…but to meet Taylor Swift and meet movie stars would be the number one reason why;).

They are loved. They are cared for. They are being educated and discipled. They are going to be the movers and shakers of their community as they are being empowered to create change in their worlds. I’m excited to see what God is going to do–and how He is going to use the 700 kids in our schools there to rock change in their worlds. These kids who once didn’t know how to dream are being taught how to dream and that with the Lord before and beside them–they can do anything. I’m weekly challenged by these kids and their love for Jesus and trusting in Him for daily provision and meals…while I often get my perspective out of whack here in our world of–UGH…my daughter didn’t get the part she wanted in Nutcracker. (Someone please slap me and give me a reality check.)

I can’t tell you how many adoption agencies have heard about our work in Zambia and wanted to sit down and chat to “pick my brain”. Um no. They are good. But they still need us. And oh my gracious–we still need them. So yes–let’s go to lunch and I would love to share how to get involved in our widows or sponsorship program. Together the Lord has changed me–and I believe they are being changed too–together we are changing each other. There is such beauty as we choose not to give up on the difficulties of African ministry–if you have dug deep in African ministry and chosen not to run or give up yet…you know what I’m talking about. With any ministry there is corruption when perspectives change. Power. Money. Security. Our own desires filled. Whatever the motives…I see it seep in every single ministry whether in Africa or the church up the street…and I see why people run from ministry and the church. But please don’t give up on either of those. Where Jesus is working–the enemy will be fighting. It’s our challenge, calling and battle to stay very, very, very close to Jesus and not ever, ever let our flesh or will be louder than His.

I don’t love that adoption means there’s brokenness. Adoption is not natural. (This is one things I’ve heard and said over and over–especially from the birth mom in my home grieving a loss…where has her flesh gone–her heart…oh my heart. Oh sweet girl…I know it doesn’t feel natural. But you are so brave for choosing life.) It may feel natural to some–but being a mom of both biological and adopted children…there is a different feeling in the depth of flesh of flesh. No one ever says that. But that doesn’t mean my depth of love is any different whether. It’s not. My love for all five of my children is FIERCE. It’s a miracle. My little love from China is the most like me. That is a miracle in itself…and we share a different, beautiful bond because how we read each other. Each of my children share different connections…and yes–I love adoption…for so many reasons. But the the brokenness it begins with–I cannot say I love.

I hate that it means brokenness.

I love that it means healing.

I hate as a mom I didn’t get 9 months to nurture and connect. That’s a loss neither of us can make up for…and one that is only given to the one that chose life. I can never replace that special bond…and as a mom it makes me sad that in this life my boys will miss that. Many of my adoptive mom friends who walk the road of infertility will also miss that…and I know that is a loss they will forever carry. But it is also a loss that may also connect them deeper to the hearts of their children as they bond through this loss…something I will also never share with them…a holy sweet bond that connects on deeper levels…I can only imagine.

After the brokenness…there can be healing. But oh…oh…the motives of our hearts as moms must be careful.

We do not rescue. We don’t expect. We don’t deserve.

Children–no matter how they come to us…ARE HIS.

Our children have voices.

They don’t need to be grateful.

They need to be heard…without the noise of other people telling them what they want or need. These kids need to be empowered to think and to dream and to hope and to want…for themselves.

Children are precious hearts to be fought for…for their sake–for their good in mind.

I love the people called. I hate when the people called get in the way…when their voices get louder than the most precious voices or long term well-being of the children.

I want to vomit when I see public sharing about foster/adoptive mom rights or unkind discussion of a birthmom…and I put my hands over my eyes. We are broken.

I see kids torn apart in foster care or adoption from their siblings–becoming more about what works for a family or what “our” children already in the home need or have been told…and I put my hands over my eyes. We are broken.

I hear the hearts…how will I ever deal with possible disappointment…I’ve waited longer…Does He see ME…I know what’s best…I will fight the good fight and not give up they say…we are putting our armor on and if need be…we’ll fight in court. I put my hands over my eyes. Oh are we ever broken.

Some where. Some how. The enemy deceives our hearts…and some how we sneak our hearts, our family needs, our dreams or wants into the equation of healing. And for THAT reason–I have a love/hate relationship with foster and adoption placements.

We need the healing of our own brokenness before we bring more brokenness to an unnatural broken beginning.

With our work in Zambia–when I see a widow we love tell a local friend to steal all the chairs…because we’ll just replace them she says. I want to quit…and run. But the children need us. And we need them. I see her heart. Wanting to help. Thinking she knows how to help. Wanting to be the hands and feet. Seeing she has been given some authority and voice. But. Those chairs. They were never hers. Yet some where she felt entitled to them and felt ownership over them…like she had a right to say where they should go for the good of her people–but not what was best for the children.  She’s passionate about the ministry…and yes–her hands are hands of healing and her heart–it means well…I see it and there’s beauty in it…but I put my hands over my eyes…so broken. The need or because it makes sense to one…doesn’t make it right. BUT…but she says like the man stealing from the store for bread–if you see the desperate cause the chairs will be used for…THEN–then you will understand. You might even sneak in and get the chairs too. No. No–never me we say. I wouldn’t do that. BUT. Some where–along the line…if we aren’t careful we get confused and can justify all the wrong things.

The chairs were never ours.

Nor are any of our children. We get it when we are talking about chairs. But our hearts can be so deceived when they get overly attached and involved.

We can’t stop listening.

To His voice.

To their voices.

It may mean you let go of more things you love for His glory. You might not get to see the end. You might not get to see the fruit. You might not get to have any praise here on Earth. It might be painful. Our hearts will be broken. If we live as Jesus lived…it should be a life where we feel too often we say “Take this cup from me–but if it be your will…then okay. Why Father do you turn your face from me?” Isn’t that how His only Son felt? It didn’t mean the Lord didn’t see…didn’t love…wasn’t fighting…didn’t have a plan.

I won’t give up seeing their hearts. Our family still plans to foster. We are still very much open to adopting.

But their voices must be heard.

When possible, siblings…family should all be together. What God joins together…we just can’t separate on our own will. Some times it’s out of our hands…but when it is in our hands–we must tread very, very carefully.

And for the record–I’m very nervous to hit ‘post’ because while you may be reading this as a “no-brainer”–many in the world would disagree…with most of what I have typed here. Because their own hearts got involved and I don’t understand. But if you step back…really step back…maybe–just maybe things might look a little different.

If you are listening to their hearts…don’t give up. Don’t give up fighting with them for their hearts. Don’t give up asking Jesus to help you see them as He sees them. He may ask you to do crazy, crazy things to bring healing in this broken world. Trust Him. He does have a plan. When your heart breaks–as mine has over and over for the things He has called us to for just a time–trust that You have run well and left your hands open for His glory no matter how much it hurt to let go.

For those of you fostering…and letting go to hard, hard places. Don’t give up. You are loving big and well—often when the tug-of-war makes absolutely no sense. You are filling a gap that only Jesus can…and I pray you feel His strength as you are tired and deeply want whatever is best for the child you are rocking right now. Courage dear heart. Don’t give up.

Praying with you for HIS best for all of His children. Standing with you with open hands for whatever He calls each of us.


Allen Martin - September 18, 2015 - 9:48 pm

Powerful! Thank you Andrea for speaking straight to my heart! Much love from Auburn!

Karen Twombly - September 19, 2015 - 11:01 am

…amen… Because we want RESTORATION!!! On Earth as it is in Heaven!!! In one moment some of my sweet ones wish out loud they were with their birth mom…and then later they wish they were born from my “tummy” …or that I had adopted them earlier… They struggle for restoration. One Mama or the other…but why must both be in the heart? So, we pray for restoration. If not here on Earth, then in Heaven. I tell them to pray that somewhere their birth mom and birth dad are putting their faith in Jesus. And if we have to wait until Heaven to all be together we will wait with hopeful expectation to love each other together. Oh how I will love on THAT day to say: “I love them with all that I had and and here they are”…and we can love them together in perfect unity!!!

September on the farm…

Oh my.

There is always something to do here…between taking care of 5 children under 10…homeschooling…keeping the acreage cut AND caring for the animals! This week has not disappointed in the work it takes to keep things up! Thankful that FALL is in the air–so we pulled out our old faithful yearly FALL Young bucket list!! (This was made a few years back by simply cutting strips of scrapbook paper and ModgePodge over it!! I used a jagged scissor cutter and a marker for the edges–but you could just burn and blow the edges just the same:) Each year I just use chalk to check off our list so we are sure to fit in our favorites every Fall:)


Other excitement in our week consisted of 2 sick goats. Thankfully we have the accountability of a few other families to keep us on track with school work–but some days everything has to be set aside when there is a little emergency on the farm. This week it was Sugar and Bob:)


Sugar and Bob were all out of sorts—and our vet asked us to bring in the calmest and because their behavior was the same she’d coach me in shots for the other;). Good times I tell you:) Things I NEVER imagined myself doing! They say a sick goat is a dead goat–and now…I believe it. BUT this week we had a miracle and nursed our sick goats back to health!


Some days I worry about what the children are learning, but Mother assures me that they are getting more than they would ever get in school There’s a seasoned 25 year old school teacher for you. I hope that’s true. They learned about different medicine today for animals and they assisted in giving shots to the goats when back home.


After all the crazy–I decided we needed to go out. And I bought a cow. Only the kind that doesn’t moo—and just looks pretty. Thankfully he fit in the van. If the cow fits—BUY him…especially if he comes in every color:)


And speaking of every color—that’s what our eggs look like lately! Nothing as good as free range eggs! I haven’t found a match as far as quality as eggs go compared to ours…our chickens who free range all day produce the prettiest, most orange yolks! Yolks full of nutrition are orange–not yellow. Oh my…and we are getting more than we can eat! Eggs anyone?


Some other fun daily things around here…Oreo is learning to deal with the cats. Y’all. We had a farmhouse mouse last week. We must have cats! The 1st graders are looooooving school–and oh my–I looooove teaching this age! And I adore having our preschooler interrupting with the funniest things…like watching us with his binoculars! He flips them around over and over and lets us know if we are BIG or if we are “wittle”! And last but not least–Isaac is working hard on looking “bad”. Y’all. This kid is the SWEETEST and all he does is SMILE. He is working on growing a tall flat top and looking cool and tough:)



Oh those tile floors—drive me crazy…but they sure are easy to clean and match Georgia clay:)

I dipped in an antique shop this week and found this perfect beverage crate. Leaving this on our table where we do a lot of school work. How fun is this…


Loo has the same need as I do for crafts. Thankful to have a sidekick. Today we made a banner made of strips of old fabric for her room AND then a wreath–just $9 total to make!



Can you spot the photo bomber??!!

Sooooooo thankful it’s FRIDAY and the weekend is here! Here’s a few snapshots from 7pm on the farm on a Friday evening…


Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



World Suicide Prevention Day {We’ll See You Tomorrow}

Remembering this day this week on behalf of some of the bravest I know…

Life is hard.

Even Jesus said it would be. He said in this life when you face many trials…WHEN–not if. (John 16:33)

And our brain chemistry all handles those trials differently.

For many–depression is a very real struggle–to the point of a dilapidating handicap. It’s not “put your big girl panties on and deal with it” time. It’s real. And if you have never sunken into a depression–the funk of funks–when no matter how hard you try you can’t get out…you might not ever understand…but you can certainly–listen.

I’m surrounded by several who I dearly love–who struggle with depression. It’s a daily fight–and I’m amazed at how well each of these dear friends run. It may seem on some days like just getting out of bed–but in reality–they are running. Running well. The King of Kings SEES that…and oh I wish I could be there when they meet Him and each hear Him say, “Well done. My good and faithful servant. You chose tomorrow on the hardest days. You have done well.”

I’ve fallen into funks…maybe not to that degree…but I’m not ashamed to talk about it. And I think we should. When the darkness is brought to the light–there can be no more darkness…only light.

For me–my darkest and hardest I can quickly pinpoint…and I can’t imagine living in THESE seasons…day after day. BUT…I share them just because–dark days brought to the light–are no longer dark any more…no matter how hard they were at the time…

My 8th grade year–and the year after we brought home our 5th child. I struggled…BIG TIME. And very few friends were there to walk beside me in those.

It was my 8th grade year that I contemplated wanting to be here at all. (Middle schoolers…I pray for you all the time. AND I truly miss teaching middle school for this reason…a call of my heart I look forward to returning to one day!) NOT a big deal maybe as an adult…but as an 8th grader–I thought my life was just over. Our family had moved to a new town–and when our family went out of town some of my new “friends” went in our home and destroyed it. Like holes in the walls y’all. Really good friends I tell you;). The hardest part was how mean they were to me when they were confronted and made accountable. It was a hard time in the world of an 8th grade girl…and I remember wanting it to be OVER. I made a plan–and something (the Holy Spirit) stirred my mom to check on me that night…and thankfully she walked me through the hard. THOSE DAYS…I will never forget. THOSE days are probably a significant part in my homeschooling. People…can be mean. And while I know I can’t protect my children completely–you can’t judge another’s experience or their shoes until you, too, have walked in them. I want my children to know and understand who they are–who they can hope in and to be built up and ready for this hard world. There’s no doubt in these days I needed counseling and encouragement–and I hope and pray if you are reading this…and you are a young person–that you will reach out to someone and tell them if you need this when your days seem the toughest.

My next deepest funk–and I mean funk…came after bringing home our 5th child. There is no doubt now that I was struggling with what they call post-adoption depression. It’s a very real thing–and I was in the middle of it. I was homeschooling our older 3 children while helping two new ones learn what family is…along with managing physical therapies for them and the deep, deep healing of their hearts. I’ve written before about this experience–and the ONE place I was able to articulate the struggle we were walking through was with the Christian hybrid homeschool I had the kids in so we had time for extra doctor visits. Instead of speaking words of life—read that article to see what happened—and oh my GRACIOUS…how we need to be the CHURCH…and walk together. WE NEED EACH OTHER…and when one is down…we pick another up. So if you are mom in the struggle…oh my–you are NOT CRAZY…please, please, please don’t hear that if another believer foolishly tries to say what it looks like. We are to pick each other up…encourage each other…be the body of Christ–and these folks just missed a pretty sweet God opportunity to be just that. If you are a mom struggling with the day to day–then something DOES need to change. But you are not crazy. And the only change is–really…finding real support for your family and for you.

There should be no stigma in going to counseling. For yourself…or for your marriage. When you see a child of yours struggling…you didn’t do anything wrong–it’s life. Those trails Jesus told us would happen over time. We need to work on being brave…and talking—A LOT…about what our hearts are really going through and experiencing. When we are in good places–we need to look for those who are not and pick them up…that’s Corinthians…comforting with the same comfort we have received. There should be no stigma with depression or just being vulnerable…because I’m really not convinced that anyone does NOT deal with this at some point in their lives.

I share the hard from my life simply because social media, Pinterest and the world is so good at making everyone’s lives seem like they are full of rainbows and unicorns. Lisa Frank just isn’t reality;). The more we share our hard–the easier it is for everyone…especially our friends and family who hold in the hard and we have no idea they are struggling. If we share when it’s hard–those the Lord has put in our lives who aren’t in the midst of hard will be able to pick us up and vice versa. And I want to be there to pick up those around me and stop everything to just listen and be there too.

I want to be a person speaking words of LIFE.

I want to encourage.

I want to turn my frustration from that really rude guy who just went off for no reason to LOVE…remembering that he may be in such a hard place…and he needs more encouragement and love RIGHT now than I could ever imagine. I want to realize that JUST maybe the Lord allowed that guy or gal to say that thing to me for no reason…to give me that look or that road rage of a moment…because God knew that I was His…and that I would pray…and reach out…and creatively brain storm how I might brainstorm how to love so big that they only see His grace and love and know that HE is speaking to them.

I want to invite trouble in…not to tell that mom to come back when she has it all together–but to invite her in…to invite myself into her world…and see how I might help her…and in the helping…see that really–she is the one helping me.

There will be hard, hard days—no matter your age or stage…and oh man–we need each other.


I’m so proud of the friends who have dealt with depression on a DAILY basis…who keep saying yes to another tomorrow. Recently suicide has hit the Ethiopian adoption community as children in middle school have gone. You get to know a lot of families across the country when you adopt–and we have met families who have lost their children, their spouses, and survived themselves. I love, love, love what TWLOHA is doing to raise awareness, erase the stigma and help those who need support find support.

You can buy one of their amazing tees with this design on their site.

Erase the stigma of depression. Look for someone to encourage and be there for in their hard stuff. And speak words of life–no matter what.

We’ll see YOU tomorrow beautiful,



Karen Twombly - September 11, 2015 - 10:04 am

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. ~Isaiah 58:11. I love your words of life! I pray often that God will make me a well watered garden that I might share it with others. :)
So glad you are writing, Karen Twombly