Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Braun Times - 2009 Newsletter

2009 is coming to a close and I think we Brauns are ready for a new year. With many challenges under our belts, we have come to realize that God truly knows what we can handle way more than we do.

The year began with the loss of Robin’s father, Harold. We are still trying to get used to the idea of not being able to just call him up and chat or stop by for a visit. His godly wisdom is something that we miss everyday, but still cherish .

While coping with the loss of Harold, we found ourselves trying to figure out how to keep his beloved home in the family. Faraway Hills, as he liked to call it, is a place that he always dreamed of passing on to his son and keeping the Braun heritage alive. Things don’t always work out like we plan, but in the end, we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we blessed Harold by keeping the property in the family.

2009 also meant we received an education in strokes since Robin’s mom, Beverly, suffered one in October. We never thought twice about how a stroke can affect the victim’s everyday life or the loved ones involved until now. We are blessed to know that God has complete control over this situation and that Bevie is a true fighter. She is making progress every day. Praise God!

Shortly after Bevie’s stroke, we learned that my mother, Judi, had passed away unexpectedly. “Devastated” is the word that first comes to mind, but relief also in knowing that she, too, like Harold, is with her Savior, Christ Jesus. There isn’t a day that goes by, where one of us doesn’t say we miss them. But we are so grateful to have had the time we had with them.

After all this loss and hardship, one might think, “did anything good happen this year?” YES! We were able to spend many wonderful and cherished days with family in Wisconsin and Washington. We are SO blessed to have the friends and family that we do have. Loosing two of them is a big reminder of how we are to make the most of each and everyday we have together.

Other highlights this year: The sale of Cascade Business Park—which means one less plate spinning in the air. Also, we made the move out of the Seattle office—and that means Robin is home with his family each and every night! ...and even some during the day when he works out of the home. Home-schooling the kids has been great for our family (going on 3 years now), and I don’t think we could imagine it any other way.

Yes, this has been quite a year, but it is bittersweet with love, blessings, and faith!

Savanna's Scoop

This year I started new curriculum in school, and it is computer based. I am in sixth grade. We live in Bellingham, Washington and Shawano, Wisconsin, and we have classrooms in each place. Everything pretty much works out fine.

I turned 12 this year, and spent my birthday in Spokane with my Granny (Bevie), who was in the hospital and came home on my birthday. It was the best birthday present ever!

Also, we spent July 4th in our motorhome. We went to Priest Lake and watched fireworks over the water. I enjoyed the kayak so much that I think I counted 13 times that I went in it. I also liked Daddy’s birthday, which was 2 days later. We made a cool cake in the shape of the American flag topped with whipped cream, blueberries, and strawberries. Daddy said it was the best cake ever...and he doesn’t even like sweets!

Lydia's Year

One of my favorite parts of this year was going to my cousin Kristen’s wedding in Wisconsin. I love to get dressed up and dance. I also liked being in Spokane to see my Granny and Ganddaddy, Grandpa Jesse, Grandma Bonnie, my cousin Keaton and Uncle Jody. My sister’s birthday was fun. She had a cupcake cake.

In school, I am learning math, reading, and even a little Spanish from my sister. I like being homeschooled because I get to see my whole family all day when I’m doing my school work.

I also like to be at our house in Wisconsin because we can go down to the lake and our dog, Blitz, can run and run. I also like being able to visit all of our family and friends there.

My brother, Robbie, is funny and cute when he’s asleep. That’s when I like him the best, not when he’s so rough and tough.

Life With Robbie

This year I turned 3, but I like to tell people I’m 4 just so my mommy can put her hands on her hips and shake her head, “no”. My favorite things are Spider Man, Thomas the Tank Engine, and riding on the ATV with my daddy, because “we’re dudes!” I like to run and jump and for some reason, every time I see a mud puddle, my shoes just seem to leap into it. I don’t mean to make a mess, I just LOVE jumping!

My sister, “Lala”, taught me how to use the computer this year. I’m learning neat things on it like ABC’s, 132’s, and music. My other sister, “Disder” (Savanna) plays cars with me a lot. We also have fun running around outside, pretending to be animals.

May God bless you all this holiday season and throughout 2010!

Robin Braun—Editor in Chief
Jamé Braun—Senior News Correspondent
Savanna Braun—Contributor
Lydia Braun—Contributor
Nathaniel “Robbie” Braun—Contributor

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Mom - Judi Alaura

Judi Alaura (Cornwell, Mask) Parker went home to her Savior, Jesus Christ, on Thursday, November 5th, 2009. She lived out her dreams of settling in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where she volunteered at several churches and taught English to children in the poor communities. She was known for always wanting to help others and her giving spirit will be greatly missed by her family and friends.

Judi was born on December 31, 1947 in Riverside, California and spent her childhood years there before moving to Sandpoint, Idaho, with her father and mother, Earl and Ruth Cornwell, as well as her sister Nancy and brother Tommy. She married Jessie Mask in 1965 and attended Sandpoint High School through 1966. Together, they raised two children in Spokane, WA. She later married Raymond Parker and in 2007 they moved to Puerto Vallarta.

Judi is survived by her husband Ray, her three children Merilynn Scharnhorst (Lewiston, ID), Jody Mask (Hauser Lake, ID), and Jamé Braun (Bellingham, WA), and two step-children, Brandi Bosserman and Nick Parker, as well as eleven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 11:00 AM at The Intersection - 905 N. McDonald Rd., Spokane Valley (formerly Open Bible Church).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm in 6th grade (again)!

I have this reoccurring nightmare. I'm in high school, only I'm 30-something years old (roughly the age I am today) and all the other students are 16 and 17. Apparently, in my dream I've been held back...a lot! Maybe I keep having this dream because I feel like I didn't finish school as strongly as I should have. After going onto college and achieving the status of "Dean's List" quarter after quarter, I learn the most important thing ever taught to me in my education...I do have the potential and if I put my mind to it, I can finish strong. But that's not why I'm doing 6th grade again, of course. Knowing this gives me a heads up on how to approach the education of my children. I'm in the business of learning how they learn. It is fun to relive my school years and relearn all that stuff again, but the real reason is because I have to know exactly what my children are learning. In order to be an effective teacher, I have to know how questions are posed and how the content of the lessons is delivered. I can quickly see where my children will soar though the lessons and where they will struggle. Plus, I think my daughter thinks it's pretty cool to ask, "Mommy, did you do your school work today?" Thankfully, my grades are much better this time around!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Whatever happened to "shop till I drop"?

The other night I was shopping for my son. He desperately needed pants that fit since all of his looked like high waters. In fact, he was beginning to look like (dare I say it) a little nerd. I was afraid that if I did not get this task done quickly I would be late to pick up the girls from church. So there I was, (at Walmart, I'm afraid - 3 year old boys could care less where there clothes come from) practically throwing clothes in the cart as fast as I could. I also knew his attention span for such tasks was quite short. He was more interested in climbing the display shelves.

After this speed-shopping job was over, I starting thinking what ever happened to the days when I liked to shop? I remember as a kid getting up on Saturdays and dressing in a really cute outfit and heading to the mall with my mom. We would make a day of it; meeting friends, going out to lunch, spending HOURS inside a dressing room. These days, I can't even fathom it. Even my girls don't seem to have the patience for it. They would rather be playing hide and seek in the racks than browsing through them. Truth be told, I can't remember the last time I truly went shopping at the mall. I think it was back in 2005. At any rate, I guess we just have a different set of priorities these days. At least I know that when my children turn 18, their primary goal will probably NOT be applying for a Nordstrom charge card.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bird Suet Cakes

This is a fun activity that any age will enjoy. It combines several subjects:
- Math (Measurements)
- Science (Nature and Wildlife)
- Bible (God's Creation)

It's definitely one for wintertime, as the cakes will melt in the sun. Birds will love them, so have fun with it!

Recipe by Alberta Morgan
15 min | 15 min prep
SERVES 8 , 8 cakes

1 lb lard (no substitutes)
2 cups chunky peanut butter (cheapest is fine)
2 cups cornmeal
2 cups flour (any kind)
2 cups oatmeal (any kind)
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups bird seed
1 cup dried fruits (optional)

Melt lard and peanut butter, in microwave oven about 3 minutes, stirring each minute; then add in all other ingredients and mix together.

Scrape into flat pan (913), cool in refrigerator until hard.

Cut to desired size and wrap in plastic wrap or foil.

Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Place in small mesh bag (old produce bags work) and hang where birds can reach. You can also purchase inexpensive suet cake cages from retail stores.

Watch that other critters cannot get to it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why we homeschool.

My husband is a self-made business man. He would never consider starting a business without first making up a business plan, and so it makes sense that we should have one for home schooling as well. After all, our children are the best "investment" we have. I decided to condense our "plan" into ten simple reasons why we made this very big decision.

Top 10 reasons to home-school (for our family):

1. We are able to teach ALL subjects from a Biblical perspective, as God expects us to. This enforces our goal of raising children to be compassionate, respectful, kind, loving, giving and confident. It also allows us to fully teach our children the love of Christ, so that they can someday share that love with others.

2. It brings us closer together as a family. We are so blessed to truly know our children. Whether it is their likes, dislikes, struggles, or gifts, we are there at every part of their day, to help them with their journey through life. Study after study has proven that families who spend quality time together are less likely to have children turn to drugs or promiscuity.

3. We can truly know each of our children's learning styles and customize their education. One-on-one instruction has more lasting results than a group setting.

4. We can get more done in 3-4 hours of personal instruction than the time it takes to teach 20 children in a classroom with 6-7 hours. This frees up the rest of our day for different ways of learning, such as physical fitness, performing chores, learning in the kitchen with Mom or in the garage with Dad. This also gives us time during the day for classes or sports outside the home that are offered specifically to home schoolers, like choir, ballet, art, or swim lessons. This prevents the crazy "running around" hours of the afternoon and evening that so many parents complain about. It gives us the chance to sit down to dinner (healthy home cooked meals) together and have free time for watching movies or playing games or reading for pleasure. It allows our children have time to just play and be children!

5. It gives us flexibility. It allows us the opportunity to travel whenever we want. We can go see family or explore the wonderful places like national or state parks and historical monuments. We can do a little school work during the summer and then take off the whole Christmas season for enjoying winter time activities or volunteer our time helping others.

6. It allows us to teach our children the proper way to socialize with regard for respecting others and having self-respect. What is a better environment for learning socialization, a parent-guided setting or the playground at recess where the recess monitor can't even see half of what goes on? I know the difference...I did plenty of recess duty! Children will push their boundaries of behavior as far as they can if their parents are not around to see it.

7. We get to decide what our children learn, how they will learn it, and when they are ready to learn it. I learned about sex on the playground from my peers and it was frightening (and inaccurate). We will sit down with each of our children and explain it as God has designed it. They will understand the beauty of reproduction, because God created life. We also want to make sure our children learn true U.S. history, not the "politically correct" version taught in public school that skips over the religious motivation behind forming our country. We want them to know that God has blessed our country because we trusted Him, and that men and women choose to serve in our military and fight in wars because they love America and know the price of our freedom.

8. We want them to decide who they want to be, not their peers. They don't need to strive for "perfection". They just need to let God's wisdom lead them to be who He has designed them to be.

9. We know that they are safe. We don't have to worry about metal detectors or see-through book bags or bullies on the school bus. When we turn on the news and hear about another school shooting, we can look over and see our precious gifts sitting safely at the kitchen table coloring away.

10. Lastly, parent-guided teaching has been around since the beginning humanity. Public education has only been around since the 1800's. Which one has a better chance of survival in the long run?

How a parent handles their child's education is a personal choice that we all have to make. Just because this is our choice and it works for us, does not mean we don't respect or appreciate the educational choices of others. We have unusual circumstances that make home-schooling work for us. I know moms that work outside the home and they are doing an EXCELLENT job with their children. I commend them! I had a great public school experience, too. But like I said...this just works for us!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Learning the hard way...

I just learned what an idiot I can be. Let me back up a little...several years ago someone gave me a figurine. It was a cute little scene with a boy and a girl, and a really sweet gesture. But a collector of knick-knacks, I am not...so, I stuffed it in a closet and forgot about it. Later that year, I was cleaning out that same closet and boxing up things to give to Goodwill. The little figurine went into the box without much thought. It wasn't until yesterday that I truly realized what a horrible mistake I had made. As I was shopping along Main Street with my girls, we strolled in and out of several gift shops. They all had something in common...those little figurines were in every store, encased in their own special glass case. I happened to glance at the price tag of one similar to mine. $265! Did I read that right? Suddenly, I could feel my stomach knot up a little. I glanced at more price tags. They ranged from $200-300 easily. A 5-piece nativity scene was over $1600!

So here is the lesson I learned (and it's not about money, necessarily)...what may not seem so precious to me doesn't mean it isn't valuable to someone else. This person obviously cared about me enough to give me something very valuable and something that had meaning to them. I carelessly threw it out, and for that, I deserve the torment of knowing I threw out over $250, just like that. Whether it is someone's dreams, fears, style, political preference, spirituality...it's special to them. I have to respect that about others. If I don't, how could expect them to care about me?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'll be shopping at Sears this Christmas.

For me, September is a bit too early to start thinking about Christmas. I know some people that know exactly how many shopping days there are left before the big day...and they are the ones who are done with it. That's crazy! But I suppose the important thing is that they are acknowledging Christmas at all. So many people have decide that it is offensive to even mention the word "Christmas". Well, I find it irritating that these people want to take advantage of the holiday (my holiday), but do not want to show the respect it deserves. When the Christmas season officially starts, I intend to acknowledge CHRIST. I will be shopping only at stores that do the same, like Sears and Kmart. I will say "Merry Christmas" and I will let the story of the King's birth be the main theme. This is pledge for the holiday season...

Busy is a four-letter word.

If you hear me utter these words, "I'm soooo busy!" You have my permission to whack me up side the head...and then you can say, "what, like you're any busier than I am?" To say those words is like saying everything I'm doing is more important than you are or what you do is not important. I don't want to be know as a busy person. It's not a compliment; it doesn't make me any more important than anyone else. If anything, it makes it appear that I don't know how to prioritize or organize my time. People are the most precious gift of God. Aside from saving time for Him, He also expects us to make time for others. We get caught up in our own lives and before we know it, kids are grown, friends have moved away, or worse, lives come to an end without the chance to say, "you are special to me." Yes, I want to be known as the person who has time for others.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some phone calls to return!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

23 Minutes In Hell

As a life-long Christian, it is so encouraging to have a passion for Christ renewed. Many times, we get stale in anything that is important to us; family, work, healthy lifestyle. When I feel like a fire has been lit under me, there is nothing more important.

The world is changing at lightning speed and I want to make sure I don't get lost in the race. This past election year has had a great impact on how I see my future clearer than ever. I have come to accept the fact that someone whom I find could be one of the biggest threats to our nation has become president. Am I afraid? Not really...in the whole scheme of things, I know that this is ultimately part of God's plan...to know that is very exciting. I know that because my hope and faith is in Christ, my future is secure. There are no promises that the immediate future will be a pleasant one, but in the reality, this time in human history is just a blink of an eye and rather insignificant. I'm more focused on my eternity.

I came across an audio clip I heard a couple of years ago. When I first heard it, I immediately had a renewed sense of how many people risk being lost for eternity. Scripture is clear that anyone who denies Christ will be sent to hell.
...but unless you repent you will likewise perish. Luke 13:3

I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. John 8:12

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through Me. John 14:6
Until I heard this clip I didn't fully understand what that meant. Now that I have a better understanding, I would not wish it on anyone. I listened to it again the other day to remind myself of how important it is to share the good news of Christ. I believe we are so close to the ultimate promise that God had describe in Revelation that I know I have a responsibility to share that good news with anyone I can.

Here is the audio clip 23 Minutes In Hell. This clip is from Bill Wiese, a real estate broker and self-described "average Christian" who shares his story of a vision God gave him late one night. This was not a dream. Bill states that he physically left his body and was placed in hell. Why? Well, I better to let him explain...

The clip is quite lengthy, about 25 minutes long and takes several minutes to get to the vivid description of hell, but it is well worth listening to. Allow yourself some time to listen...make some tea or coffee and just listen! It will make you think!