Saturday, February 28, 2015

The New BCM World Magazine is Here!

Many folks don't know this, but the mission organization that we are with, BCM International, has over 600 missionaries that serve all over the world. BCM publishes BCM World Magazine to highlight the different fields where their missionaries work. The most recent addition was just published and I thought that my readers might enjoy perusing it.
This edition features missionaries serving in Sri Lanka, Italy and Bangladesh. Just click here or on the highlighted link above to read the online version.

If you want to know a little more about what my family does as missionaries to low income folks in middle Tennessee click here to read our most recent news letter.

Don't forget to pray for all of the missionaries around the world. Missionaries are suffering persecution and hardships in many areas. All of us, whether serving at home or abroad, desire to serve and honor the Lord in the fields where he has placed us and your prayers are greatly appreciated! 

Friday, February 27, 2015

I want you to Love, Learn and Laugh

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV


As a way to improve my blog I joined a fantastic forum for Christian bloggers that has really helped me in many ways. They have given tips on writing posts, how to make your blog look better, creativity, reaching a wider audience with your message, really, anything that you can think of when it comes to blogging. They have made me think about my blog and why I write it. One of the topics recently discussed was "When a newcomer visits my blog. . ." and we were to finish the sentence.

I came upon the topic a little late and others had already posted their response. As I was reading them with interest I became very intrigued by the question and began thinking about what my response would be. What do I want my readers. . . new readers or old readers . . . to come away with in my blog? How do I want them to feel? What would I want them to do after reading one of my posts?

When I first started blogging many, many, years ago, we were going through a very rough time as a family. A friend of mine had started a blog and I really enjoyed reading it. As I thought about her blog I realized that blogging might be therapeutic for me. I began to think about what I would want a blog to say and what it's purpose would be. Did I want it to only be for me, or did I want it to reach others? If I wanted it to reach others, what would I write about? I decided that I did, indeed, want others to read it and that I wanted it to be about families, not just my family, but about their families as well. Together I wanted us to discover how to strengthen our families, how to have fun with our families and to really be Families Again. Hence the name "Families Again".

However, although they could share many of the same thoughts and ideas, the purpose of my blog is different than what I want people to come away with after reading one of my posts or how I want them to feel after spending time on my blog. After a lot of thought and writing down ideas, I decided that I want my readers to do and feel three things. I want them to Love, Learn and Laugh.

The above verse perfectly describes how I want to live my life and that includes writing my blog, so first and foremost I want my readers to click away from my blog with a deeper Love for God. It doesn't matter if they are a Christian or not. If they are a believer, then I want them to grow deeper in their belief and Love God more. If they are not a believer then I want them to leave my blog thinking about God's Love for them.

I want my readers to leave my blog with a Love of Families. I want them to Love my family. I want them to get to know us and Love us so much that, when they leave, they are drawn to pray for my kids and for me and Sarah. I especially want something that I have said lead them to have a deeper Love for their family.

I want them to Love my blog and want to come back to it again and again.


I want my readers to Learn about God. I want my posts to reflect my belief and make them think about God and salvation and Learn something about their faith.

I want my readers to Learn more about their family through learning about my family. I want them to Learn a new way to spend time with their family. Maybe Learn a new project, craft, recipe or way to handle their family situations.

If a family homeschools I want them to Learn more about homeschooling and homeschool products. My desire is that my blog can help them in some way to Learn a new way to do things or to think about the way that they do things in their homeschool.

I want my readers to Learn about ministry and missions. I want them to Learn what my family does in ministry so that they can pray for us. I want them to Learn different ways to minister in their church, but especially in their lives. I want them to Learn about missions, both home missions and missions abroad so that they can be the missionaries that God wants them to be now and in the future.


I want my readers to Laugh when they come to my blog. I want them to Laugh with us at our mistakes; Laugh at our family; Laugh at the things that we do and the things that happen to us.

I want them to Laugh so much with us that they realize that their are other families in this world that are like their family. After realizing that they are not alone in this world, I want them to be able to Laugh at their predicaments and peculiarities. I want them to feel good about themselves and about others when they leave.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, I want them to inspire me to Love,  Learn, and Laugh. I want them to leave comments that make me Love more, Learn more and Laugh more. I want us to work together to make our families better. I want us, together, to Love, Learn and Laugh.

That, dear readers, is what I want you, whether you are a new friend or an old friend, to do.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

We're Going to a Carnival! A Blog Carnival that is!


To be specific it's "The Homeschool Showcase" over at the blog The Heart of Michelle. Michelle blogs about many things but one of the things that happens on her blog every other week is "The Homeschool Showcase" blog carnival. This blog carnival is her 149th and is subtitled "A Plethora of Tips and Advice".

What is a "Blog Carnival"? A Blog Carnival is where a specific topic is given and different bloggers submit their blog posts to be included in the carnival. The host then writes one big post that features and provides links to the submitted posts. I submitted two of my posts and both of them are featured in this edition of the carnival!

I'm sure that you have read both of my posts already, but you probably haven't read any of the other great posts that are featured. Why don't you head over to Michelle's blog by clicking here or on one of the links above and check some of them out. That's where I'm going right now! Have fun reading and tell them that Tim sent you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Tinkel Time's - Our Winter 2015 Missionary Newsletter

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

 Dear friends and family,

So many changes have taken place in the past few months that, although Sarah and I have used Jeremiah 29:11 before, God laid it on my heart to use it again.

At the beginning of December, we held our first annual Cando Bazaar. All things were either made or donated by the people of the public housing are to help them earn extra money for Christmas. The bazaar was a great success. Then, as most of you know, in mid-December we got word that, after graciously allowing us to live and minister at the property on Hi Tech Dr. for 16 years, the owner received an offer and decided to sell. We received the news on the same day that we were having our annual ladies Christmas dinner for the ladies of Good News Mission. So with heavy but expectant hearts we hosted over 30 ladies, the largest group that we had ever had, realizing that this would probably be the last event that we would have in our beloved mission building.
The first task was to find a place to relocate our family. After much prayer and soul searching, we really felt that God wanted us to continue ministering to the same folks that to we have been ministering to all of these years. Therefore, we desired to stay in Livingston. I called a friend of ours that has rental properties to see if anything was available. Praise be to God that He had already prepared a place for us. Someone had just notified our friends that they would be leaving at the end of the month so a three bedroom apartment would be available to us the first of January! However, that wasn’t all. The apartment was in the same neighborhood that we lived in only three blocks away. It was on a street that we had ministered to in a limited manner over the years so the Lord not only allowed us to stay close to those we had been ministering to but also expanded our ministry.

Now that the matter of family housing had been taken care of, we then focused on the mission building and how we were going to minister. All of these years God had provided a building and property where we could hold our weekly Bible studies and Bible clubs but also our summer day camps and other year round special activities. Without the building how would we hold our events? We could do some things in our apartment, but it certainly wasn’t big enough for all of the things that we were accustomed to doing. Our thoughts ranged from looking for property close to the public housing area to perhaps even buying and renovating a bus. All of those things required money that we didn’t have at the time. As God often chooses to do, He didn’t fill us in on all of His plans right away so our next step was finding a place to store all of our ministry things. We really didn’t want but were willing to use some of the donations to our ministry to pay for a storage facility but, again thanks be to God, a local church graciously offered to let us use a huge building that they own for the time being free of charge.
So, the moving began. Sarah’s mom lives with and takes care of Sarah’s elderly grandmother. Sarah had already committed to giving Mom a much needed break by watching “Granny” over the holidays. However, we only had a limited time to move. So, John Allen and I traveled back and forth between grandma’s house, an hour and a half away, and Livingston to begin the task of moving. We would spend a few days in Livingston, then go back to spend a few days over Christmas and then a few days again over New Years with the family. Finally with the holidays completed, all of us returned home to continue moving only for things to be complicated more by two deaths in the family. Toward the middle of January Mom’s longtime friend and grandfather-figure to our boys passed away. Sarah again went with her mom to help during this time. Then, just a couple of week later, “Granny” had a major stroke and passed away a week later. Again, God called Sarah to go and assist. By God’s grace and with the assistance of many friends, almost everything from both the mission and our home got moved. The recent snow storms and ice storms that we have had the past couple of weeks have prevented us from moving the last three or four heavy items but that task should be completed next week.

During this time, God graciously chose to reveal a little more of his grand plan for our ministry. Good friends and fellow BCM missionaries from Kentucky contacted us and asked if we would be interested in their completely renovated ministry bus. It is a converted airport shuttle bus that has been beautifully redone on the inside as a type of mobile Bible club classroom. They had recently relocated to a more urban area where the bus was not needed and knew that we had been praying for something such as this. We excitedly prayed and then called our advisory committee and, with their blessing, said “Yes”! The bus was delivered to us a little over a week ago. Unfortunately it broke down right outside of Livingston, but the repairs don’t look as if they are going to be very expensive at all. After checking with the local licensing place, the cost of tags and transferring the title aren’t going to be expensive either. Now we can take our ministry on the road and reach even more people! God has provided a home for us and a place to minister! Praise the Lord!

Where does that leave us? Well, we are settled into our new place and love it. It is a bit smaller than the mission home but not by much. We were worried about how the kids would take being uprooted from the only home in which they could ever remember living but it has not fazed them a bit and they love it as well. We also have a wonderful bus in which to minister when it gets repaired.
All of these things don’t come without a price, however. As with most missionaries, we have been under supported and this past year our personal support has gone down even more. Now we have the added expense of rent which we didn’t have at the mission house. That makes things even more difficult. We desperately need to raise more support and are looking for opportunities to share our ministry. Since we homeschool, we are able and willing to travel and take speaking trips but would like to group speaking engagements together as much as possible. If you would be willing to host us at your church or would just like us to come and share with you personally please contact us at the address or phone number listed below. If God is leading you to support us now, there are several ways in which to do it. You can send a check made out to BCM International with our name and missionary number #0642 on the memo line to the BCM International address listed below or you can go directly to BCM’s website at and click on the “Donate Now” tab at the top of the page. On the new page click on the “Designation” box and then on “Other” and put our information “Tinkel #642” in the box provided. Thank you so much ahead of time.

Our ministry, Good News Mission, has a small account that helps with some of our local ministry expenses. Since we don’t have a mission building at the present time, we are planning on changing our name to “Good News Ministries” but for now, if you would like to send a check to that account, please make it out to Good News Mission and send it to that address below. Again, thank you ahead of time.
Finally, nothing that we do could be accomplished without your prayers. Please praise God with us for all that He has accomplished. Also, continue to pray for our ministry and for all of the changes. We still desire to have our summer day camps and other events throughout the year but at present have no place to hold them. Please pray for God to provide in those areas. Also be in prayer as to our family perhaps someday owning our own home.

Thank you again for all that you do for us. We love you and are praying for you as well.
Tim and Sarah and the boys

Tim and Sarah Tinkel                                  BCM International                                     Good News Mission
904 Lee Drive                                               201 Granite Run Drive, Suite 260            % Don Maxson
Livingston, TN 38570                                  Lancaster, PA, 17601                                608 Big Springs Road
Tim – 931-319-2551                                   Toll-free (USA): 1-888-226-4685             Monroe, TN 38573
Sarah – 931-319-3113                                                                                                      931-403-2888
Blog -


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hmph! See if I Ever Chomp Down on One of Their Chicken Legs Again!

...Or for that matter one of their popcorn nuggets!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to whisk my princess away for lunch and decided to go to a popular chicken restaurant. I won't mention any names. Let's just say that it's founder was a Colonel from Kentucky.

Anyway, we asked what the special was and they said that on Monday the buffet was $6 and that included your drink. I ordered two and the total came to a little over $11.50. I didn't think anything of it until we filled our plates and sat down to eat and both realized that our total with tax should be well over $12. Being the conscientious person that I am, I quickly pulled out the receipt to check where the error was. I, of course, intended to go back and pay the extra. Well, what to my surprise should I find?

They gave us a senior discount!

"I don't understand!" I exclaimed to my princess. "You don't look like a senior at all!"

To which she rolled her eyes and softly took my hand to explain, "Dear, they are talking about YOU!"

Me! Why I never...! I'm only in my lower 50s! Perhaps closer to 55 than 50 but still in my lower 50s! I'm not even close to being a senior!

And I don't look like a senior either. Just compare the picture above with this picture from when I was a bit younger. I haven't changed a bit!

I'm as youthful as ever. I mean, I may have a little gray hair but it's not that noticeable. This cold weather has made my joints ache and I may have been limping a little yesterday but a lot of people walk funny. Surely no one can tell that my glasses are bifocals. My hair has thinned slightly but I had thick hair anyway so you can't tell. I just don't understand it!

Surely there must have been a mistake. Maybe the cashier pressed the wrong button. Perhaps she saw an elderly costumer coming through the door and thought to herself that that person deserved a senior discount only to accidentally give it to me instead. That must be it. The gentleman behind us was older I'm sure.

Just to reinforce to myself that no cosmetic changes needed to be made I asked my princess if I still looked the same to her. She mumbled something (she must have had food in her mouth) but I'm sure I heard her say,

"You're still my handsome prince."

Ahhhh. That is all I needed to hear. All is right with my world once again. No need to worry. I'm still as youthful as ever.

Just a fair warning. Beware if you go to that particular fast food place in my beloved adopted home town. Despite how young you look, they may not view you as the "spring chicken" that I'm sure you are and as I still am.

Senior discount indeed!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wow! What a Week! I am Stoked!

Now "stoked" isn't a word that I usually use, so you know I must be excited!

Leave it to God to open doors!

I can't believe that it has only been a little over a week ago that I actively began blogging again. So much has happened in that one week. Not only for this blog, but also for our homeschool. Allow me to fill you in on what God is doing,

For several years I had the great privilege to work with Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewing and blogging about great homeschool products. Unfortunately, I had to drop out because of some family health problems. While with "the crew" I was able to sample many of the other products that their parent company, The Old Schoolhouse, offered including their curriculum site Well, the reasons that required me to stop blogging for "the crew" also took up much of my time. Suddenly, looking for excellent curriculum to use with my kids took a backseat to health problems and other life changing events. Homeschooling was put on cruise control and we just made due with what we had. Until recently.
These past few weeks I have felt God telling me that it was time. Time to get back to doing some of the things that I loved to do. Naturally my relationship with God, family and ministry are my top priorities, but blogging and watching my boy's faces light up with new and exciting curriculum are also loves of mine. Along with restarting my blog up this past week, I also began thinking about what direction we should go in our homeschool. That thinking (and God of course) made me open up an email that was in my inbox. I get a lot of emails from a lot of companies that I have reviewed products for and...shhhh...I don't always have the time to open and read each one. This time, I did open the email and, lo and behold, what would one of the first things be that I saw?
A few months ago, my youngest, who is super smart but developmentally delayed, came to me and informed me that he wanted to learn Hebrew. When I asked him why, He matter of factly told me that it was because Hebrew was a Biblical language and he wanted to learn a Biblical language. Well, as you know from my posts on unschooling, Oh No! Could We Actually Be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers?!?You know that we like to strike while the iron is hot and work with things that are of interest to our children. I tried and tried to find a Hebrew course that was right for Jacob but couldn't find anything. Wouldn't you know it, one of the first things that I saw in the email was a Hands-On Hebrew course that was right on Jacob's level?

And that's not all! I clicked over to their webpage and found a great middle school/high school course on Imperial Russia for Joshua. There are so many courses and other items that I am still finding things for the kids. Lapbooking, geography, name it and they have it. I am super excited! Some of the courses actually have teachers that record videos, but, since the things are recorded, you can pretty much start a course at any time.

Now, I will tell you that I was so excited about this site that I became a member and then promptly became an affiliate so, if you click on of the links above and then choose to become a member, I will receive a commission. I'll also tell you, though, that there is a free section that is worth exploring even if you didn't want to become a member. Membership is $12.95 a month or $139 a year and new things are added every month. Once you become a member there is no extra charge for any of the courses or anything else.

But, that's not all that God is doing when it comes to homeschooling and my blog. There are other things in the works that I can't tell you about right now but will be able to fill you in on real soon!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Scripture Sunday

Ha! You thought that you would get away without hearing from me today didn't you? Well, I actually thought about taking Sundays off, but thought of a better idea. I am still going to post on Sundays, but it is going to usually be very simple. I'm going to call it Scripture Sunday. Every week there might be an inspirational picture, quote, story...something, but it will always contain at least one thing. At least one verse from God's Word. Some weeks it may just simply be that verse. There usually will be very little commentary, so, with that said, I've probably talked too much already. Here's this weeks Scripture Sunday.

A very hard to see snow angel done by my youngest...but it's there!
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1:18

I would be remiss if I didn't let you know how your sins can be white as snow. Here is a very short done by a good friend of mine and fellow missionary, Brian Hampshire.

If this video made an impact on you or if you have any other questions please leave a comment below or contact me at .

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Night To Shine Prom - What Life Should Be All About!

My wife, Sarah, had a premonition, long ago, that we would someday have a special needs child. Little did we realize back then that we would not have just one, but two, special needs sons, a third son who had a rare form of childhood cancer, and a forth son that was still-born. Along the way we have been blessed to know and minister to many other special needs children. And, it has been a blessing. Words cannot express how honored we are that God chose us to be special needs parents and put so many special needs kids into our path. Yes, it has been difficult. There are some days that I just want to throw in the towel and cry. And there have been some days that I have done just that. There is not a day that goes by, though, that God doesn't reveal something special about my children or one of the other special needs children that we know.

Recently Sarah had the great privilege of escorting a friend of ours and her disabled daughter to the "A Night To Shine" prom for disabled youth and adults. It was hosted by Rising Above Ministries and sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. She called me several times during the evening to tell me through tears how special it was.

The special needs participants were made to feel like kings and queens at their prom. It was truly their night to shine. Before they even arrived at the prom, the girls were given free makeovers and had their hair done. There was even a company that allowed the girls to pick out and wear a special prom dress and matching jewelry for free that night. Each attendee walked down the red carpet with paparazzi flashing pictures of them. They were each given a special helper that assisted them for the night so that the parents could relax and enjoy themselves. The girls received corsages and the boys got a special shoe shine. They were taken a few at a time for a special ride in a stretch limousine. They danced! They ate! They had a blast!

The Tim Tebow Foundation sponsored over forty "Night to Shine" proms in 26 states and three countries. Below are three videos of either the prom itself or the aftermath. It never fails that when I watch them tears come to my eyes. The first video is of the local prom hosted by Rising Above Ministries. Our friend Patricia is the one walking down the red carpet while waving her "Miss America" wave.

The second video is the video made by the Tim Tebow Foundation. Say what you will about Tim Tebow. He has been ridiculed for his Christian stance and been put down because of the way he played in the NFL. Let the naysayers say what they will. Patricia doesn't care. She was the queen of the prom!

The third video is of Patricia demonstrating how she danced "The Chicken Dance". She has great memories and still talks about it. What a special night! Thank you Rising Above Ministries and thank you Tim Tebow. You are showing people what really matters in life. You are both class acts!

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Special Friend Died Yesterday


We found out this morning that a very dear friend of ours passed away.

Mary Lou was the type of friend that even if you only saw or talked to her a couple of times a year you just picked up where you left off in your friendship. I had no idea that her cancer had come back. When I last saw her about a year ago she was as vibrant as ever. I was thinking a little while ago how she and her family have been friends of mine for over half of my life. I watched her kids grow up and she was a friend through thick and thin. From the first time I ever counseled at Cedar Lake Camp way back in June of 1983 she was a friend and mentor. Through dating, engagements, broken engagements, marriage, kids diagnosed with cancer and autism, ministry problems, name it, she was always willing to listen, pray and give Godly wisdom to me and Sarah. I know that she is dancing with Jesus right now and that we will see her again someday but until then we will miss her terribly.

It makes me wonder why we waste our energy on fighting, holding grudges, and just living the every day rat race. Life is too short to waste our time and energy on things that don't really matter. I wish I would have spent more time with Mary Lou. Now I don't have the chance.

I'm making a list of all of the friends that I keep thinking that I'll call someday, get together with, write a letter to or go and visit.

I'm going to call one of them up and tell them I care.

I'm going to block off a few hours in my schedule to go out to eat and laugh with someone I haven't seen in a while.

I'm going to turn off my computer to write an honest to goodness handwritten letter to someone to let them know how much they have meant to me and still mean to me.

I'm going to set my busywork aside and go and visit an old friend.

I'm going to reach out to a friend that I had a falling out with and tell them I'm sorry.

I'm going to sit and play a game with my kids.

I'm going to stop and cuddle with my honey to talk...or just watch a movie together.

The paperwork can wait until later. That one more blog post that needs to be written can be written another time. The bed can stay unmade for a day. The dishes will be there in the morning. We can put off the homeschool for a little while longer.

All of those all so important things don't seem so important anymore.

Today I'm going to spend some time with my family and my AND old. I'm going to cherish the time I have with them.

There is one thing that I'm going to do first, though. I'm going to contact Wardy, Marshall, Jessica, and Luke - Mary Lou's kids. I'm going to let them know what a great mom they had. I'm going to tell them how much she meant to me and how much they mean to me. I'm going to reconnect with some old friends before I don't have the chance again. I'm going to get my priorities straight and live and love again.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Have Some Compassion in the Dominican Republic!
If you have been following my blog, or if you know me personally, you know that our family is a big supporter of Compassion International. It started a few years ago when a friend of a friend posted on Facebook that he was looking for a sponsor for a boy from Bolivia. I contacted him and after a lengthy Facebook chat and prayer, we decided to take the plunge and begin sponsoring Marcelo.
It has been a joy. We have been sponsoring Marcelo (pictured below) for nearly seven years now. He is now a handsome 18 year old ready to begin college. Since then, we have become correspondence sponsors for seven other children - two of which have graduated from the program. Writing is a huge part of sponsoring a child with Compassion International. Some businesses will donate money to support a large number of children but then there will be no one to write to them. Compassion has a wonderful correspondence sponsor program where folks who already financially sponsor children can volunteer to be the correspondence sponsor and write to other children as well. We try to write to each of our children at least four times a year and hopefully more.
Every year Compassion International sponsors a trip where they select several bloggers to travel to a country for a week to blog about Compassion projects and children in that country. This years trip is to the Dominican Republic and is going on right now. Just click on the banner at the top of this post to get to the main page for this years trip. There you can find links to all of the blog posts from the bloggers that are participating.
I must warn you, though. While reading about what Compassion International is doing in different countries can be exciting, you will also meet children that will tug at your heart and encounter situations that will make you cry. Don't let that stop you though! Go ahead and click on the link above.
Sometimes we sit at home, read the newspaper, listen to the news, and wonder if there really is something we can do that will make a difference in the world. There isn't much we can do, but reading these stories, praying for the bloggers, the children, and the Compassion workers is something that we CAN do. Click on the banner above to read about the 2015 Compassion Blogger's Dominican Republic trip or just click here to get to the Compassion International website to learn how you can sponsor a child starting today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oh No! Could We Actually Be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers?!? (Part Two)


If you missed Part One of Oh No! Could We Actually Be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers?!? where I talked about how we arrived at the conclusion that we might be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers...then click on the link above.


You might be wondering, after making all of those observations about how we homeschool, did we, indeed, decide that we are unschoolers? I decided to do a little research before I actually came to that horrifying *insert smiley* conclusion. Here is what I found when I researched the definition:

This is what Wikipedia says:

Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child. ( does this apply to the Tinkel family?

Well, as mentioned before, our kids definitely learn better when the learning includes their "personal interests and curiosity".

We travel a lot and learn a lot through our travels. In fact, here are a few links to some of our travel blog posts:

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!

Our Crazy, Mixed Up, Fantastic, Wonderful Trip to Kansas City, MO

And my "5 Days of Traveling With Kids" series (click on the banner below):

We read all of the time (I really do need to update that Amazon book widget in my blog column. It's way outdated.).

We make use of internships and work experiences and mentors. In fact, Joshua is about to start an apprentice/mentorship at the sporting goods business of a friend of ours.

We do a lot of things as a family but social interaction...well, let's just say that social interaction can be challenging for an autistic kid, but they do learn a lot from it!

The kids even learn a lot from play and household responsibilities. That is, when we can get them to actually do their household responsibilities.

Another Unschooling website that I looked at also emphasized helping your children set goals and then helping them to reach those goals. As I was writing this our friend, Kendra, reminded me that we did that recently with our oldest, John Allen, when he recently set a goal to read the Bible through in a six week time period.

While I was reading and doing my research I realized that we were doing most of the things that Unschooling embraces to one extent or another. I also realized that there are a lot of kids that could benefit and learn more with this type of learning. Don't get me wrong. I am a product of public education and, for the most part, loved it and learned a lot. I also worked as an educational therapist at a private, Christian school for 11 years that produced outstanding graduates. I'm not knocking traditional schools or traditional methods of learning. I do, however, think that if kids aren't all "cookie cutter" kids then why should all education be "cookie cutter" education? That's why I like homeschooling so much. You can pick and choose how to teach your children and what to teach your children with. John Allen did fantastically well using traditional homeschool curriculum. Joshua and Jacob, however, haven't done as well using those same methods.

So, is the Tinkel family, indeed, an Unschooling family? Well, yes and no. While we do embrace many Unschooling methods, we do often use standard curricula and conventional grading. However, as I mentioned in part one of this series, when I originally began to research curricula for John Allen, I did try to choose curricula that taught the way that he liked to learn. That is what we try to do with all of our kids. Since Joshua is interested in geography, countries, and languages, we choose curricula that embraces those subjects. Right now Jacob's interest is in animals so that is what the books reflect that we chose for him. We don't always stick to the syllabus and suggested lesson plans, but we do use them. The state of Tennessee requires all homeschoolers to be registered with an "umbrella organization" and most of those organizations require you to list what curriculum you are going to use with each child and then have you send in grades for each child, so we can't abandon traditional texts or grades altogether anyway.

I would say that, instead of being Unschoolers. the Tinkel family is more of an "eclectic" family when it comes to homeschooling. We pick and choose the books and texts that we feel are right with each child. We kind of go with the flow, are very flexible, and relaxed but don't abandon structure all together. My feeling is that all children are different. For example, John Allen thrived using structured curriculum. Joshua is more (but not totally) an unschooler, and Jacob is someplace in between. My opinion is that's the way it should be in all homeschools. Teach to your child's strengths. God made each child an individual. To try to force a child to be something he isn't and to learn in a way that doesn't suit him is being very counter productive.

So there you have the answer to the age old question of whether the Tinkel family is an unschooling family or not. Well, maybe it isn't an age old question, but it has made me wonder for quite some time *insert another smiley*.

How about you? What do you think? Are you an Unschooler? Do you agree with or disagree with something I said? Leave me a comment. I love comments! See you soon!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oh No! Could We Actually Be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers?!? (Part One)

Say it isn't so! Have we really succumbed to that dreaded method of homeschooling known as...oh, I just can't bring myself to say it, but you know what I mean!

God really has a sense humor. As I grow older that is becoming more and more apparent to me. When we first began homeschooling John Allen, I researched and researched homeschool curriculum and styles. I was determined to think outside of the box. I did not want some cookie cutter curriculum but wanted things that would enrich him but also taught to his strengths. Thanks to some wonderful teachers that he had in the public school from grades k-3, he loved to read, so that was what I looked for first - curriculum that was based on reading good, wholesome books. I remember that we chose Sonlight history, and Learning Language Arts through Literature as our main curriculum, then supplemented with Apologia science and Applied math. I also wanted him to learn a language beginning at a young age so we added Latina Christiana to the mix. We did wonderfully! There were a few bumps, but basically our homeschooling started off with a bang. I thought we had it made. This was what we would do with all of our kids.

Ha ha! That's what I thought! God had another plan. He gave us two wonderful children named Joshua and Jacob. One being on the autism spectrum and the other being developmentally delayed. Unfortunately...or maybe fortunately...all of my previous thoughts on homeschooling were thrown out the window.

Let's talk about Joshua first. Joshua has a form of high functioning autism known as Aspergers Syndrome. Kids that have Aspergers may have some learning delays, but their main disability is that they are socially disabled. Just as someone who has a mental disability may be delayed academically, someone with aspergers is socially hindered. Joshua, for example, does not always know how to socially act around others. He has problems reading body language and he doesn't understand idioms and nuances. He is very literal. "Aspies" are also sometimes known as "little geniuses" because they often become hooked on a particular thing and want to know everything they can about that topic. When Joshua was younger he loved Thomas the Train. Everything had to be Thomas. He memorized every character, had all of the movies and books, and collected the toys. Soon his interests became trains in general and then helicopters. To this day, he can look at a helicopter and I.D. what type it is. Other interests have been bowling, football and WWE wrestling. You may think that the WWE wrestling phase was one that we would rather forget, but it was actually a blessing because it led to the interests he has had for the past three of four years - geography and languages.

Joshua excels at geography. He knows every flag from even the remotest countries of the world. He discusses the religions, politics, locations, history, and landmarks of places around the world. He has become interested in Russia especially and is even beginning to learn the Russian language.

Jacob, although different than Joshua in many ways, is also the same in many ways.  Even though the specialist said that Jacob was "someplace" on the autism spectrum, being developmentally delayed and very sensory seem to be his major challenges. His schedule of learning was totally different than a typical child. From potty training to learning his ABC's, things have been different. Some things are ahead of schedule and some things are behind schedule.

Then, this past year, we began going to the library again after having to take some time off due to Joshua's medication allergy scare. We asked Jacob what kind of books he was interested in and he began naming off all of these animals. So, we carted several books about deer, goats, and antelopes home. Then, after reading those books, he expanded to other animals. He devoured the books and we were amazed at what he was learning.

We realized that both of them had something in common. They both learned better, no, they excelled, when something that they were interested in was involved.

A couple of years ago Sarah was lamenting to a friend of ours about Joshua's math learning difficulties. He suggested incorporating the things in which Joshua was interested into his math lesson. So she started teaching using math word problems.

"If Peyton Manning threw a pass for 6 yards then, on the next play, ran for 5 yards, how many total yards did his team gain?"

Again, he excelled.

Could we be on to something? Should we really scrap the traditional curriculum that John Allen loved? Is this really a good way to teach a child? Is it even a way to teach? We have struggled with that for a couple of years.

Then, a blogging (and personal) friend of mine blogged about how she has taught her son for years. I know her son. He is incredibly intelligent. I had no idea that she was an...okay, I've got to say it...gulp...unschooler. I had always read disparaging things about unschooling, but what she was describing was wonderful. And, many of the things she talked about was exactly what we were trying.

Oh no! Could we actually be..."Gasp"...UNSCHOOLERS?!?

I decided to do a little research my self and tomorrow we'll talk about what unschooling is and I'll, hopefully, answer that incredulous question.

Click here to get to Oh No! Could We Actually Be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers?!? (Part Two)

Monday, February 16, 2015

We've Moved AND We're on the Move!

First of all, let me let you know why, once again, you haven't seen me of late. I have a very simple explanation. My computer broke! It really wouldn't have made much difference, though, because, as you will soon read, we have been a little busy the past few months. Here's what's been happening.

After graciously allowing us to use the Good News Mission  ministry building for 17 years the owner decided to liquidate some of his assets and sold the property. So, for the past two months we have been packing and cleaning and moving both our home and our ministry into a three bedroom apartment and two storage facilities. Needless to say, that in and of itself was an adventure. Unfortunately, the adventure was magnified by Sarah being gone for five of those weeks taking care of her dear grandmother during her last days and then dealing with her death and, on top of that, helping her mom deal with the death of her longtime boyfriend, Tom, who had become like family to us as well. Finally we got moved into our new home two blocks away and said goodbye to our old home and ministry building.

However, while the building may be gone, Good News Ministries continues. We knew that God wanted us to continue ministering to the low income families in Livingston and the surrounding areas but weren't sure how we were going to do it with no building. During the process of praying and seeking God's guidance, good friends of ours and fellow missionaries serving with BCM International in Kentucky called and asked if we would like their converted bus to use in our ministry. They had recently moved to minister in a new area and didn't need it anymore. It is an airport shuttle bus that had been redone into a mobile Bible Club classroom. After taking not long at all to pray about it, we joyfully  and thankfully said "Yes" to their offer.

It was delivered last weekend! Unfortunately it broke down right outside of Livingston, but it doesn't appear that it will take much to fix it. Below and above are some pictures. We are praising God and can't wait to put it into use!

And now, dear blog readers that have stuck with me through thick and thin, I also have a new laptop on which I can begin blogging again. I have been longing to return to my blog for quite some time now and am really excited about getting back into the swing of things. I'm praying that God will give me a lot of blogging ideas and opportunities that can be used for His glory. See you again real soon!