The Journey

This blog began in an attempt to provide resources and encouragement for homeschoolers. However, during this homeschool adventure, I've found it's also about life. Specifically about losing my own life, that I might find it in Jesus and thus discover the joy of REAL life. (Matthew 10:39)

In March, 2012, our family stepped out in faith again as we moved out to the country. The first step of faith was trusting the Lord to sell our other home before our emergency fund ran out. He is faithful, and though I was hoping this would happen sooner, He knows what we needed.

I just know that He is going to use these 5 acres and this old house to teach me even more lessons in abiding with Him...and I look forward to the Adventure!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What is Love?...part 2...Loving the Husband with no "buts"

This might just be a new record...two posts in two consecutive days!  There is a reason for that!  Yesterday when my husband got home from work, I told him that I had made a post (spontaneously) to my blog.  I then asked him, ever so nicely, if he would read through it and tell me what he thought.  

You see, while I have lots and lots (and lots and lots) of thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head, seeing them on paper (or a screen) and then allowing others to actually read them is something entirely different than sharing them over the phone with a friend or before going to bed with my husband.  So, I like to have someone I know (and who knows me) read through it and provide feedback.

Anyway, moving on to the point of this record breaking post.  After he finished reading it, he sounded a little disappointed as he remarked that I only talked about our children.  Of course my first response was, oh no, I had done something "wrong."  He said that wasn't the case.  He did say that he had been "looking forward" to reading what I had to say regarding husbands.  After only a little more badgering of him, by me, to make sure that his feelings weren't hurt, I began to think of what I would say...about husbands.

My first comment to my own husband was that I didn't often use the word "but" when telling him "I love you."  At least not with my words.  I told him that our "buts" (because honestly, we both add them) have more to do with our thoughts and attitudes toward each other and are often communicated much more subtly.

Here is an example from my own life and marriage.  Before continuing, I have the confidence to share this because Jesus has been teaching and showing me that WE ARE ALL THE SAME AT OUR CORE.  And, therefore, those who know me will not think less of me because they likely have found themselves thinking something similar!  At least I'm praying that is so! : )

Well, it all goes back to Proverbs 19:11 again (NIV, 1984).  Here it is, to refresh our memories...
A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
   it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

It also involves 1 Corinthians 13:5 (Amplified)
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

Or in the NIV, 1984 translation:
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Imagine, you've had a hard day and the children, well let's just say you've been a referee more times than you'd like to remember.  There are 2 loads of laundry piled on your couch or maybe your bed, you have not gotten dinner started yet, and your husband should be home in less than 10 minutes.  

As he walks in the door, he mentions that he has a meeting he forgot about and will not be having dinner with you.  He apologizes, but says he'll be home by 8 pm.  He spends some time with the children, and then out the door he goes.

You fix a quick dinner.  Hot dogs aren't that bad for you, right?  A few carrot sticks to add a vegetable and dinner is served.  As you eat dinner, each of your children ask you when Daddy will be home at least a handful of times.  Clean up is quick.  You tell the children that if they put their jammy's on quick you'll play a game with them before bed.  

(See in my mind I'm thinking, okay, if I get them into bed by 7:30, then I get a half hour to myself before my husband gets home.  Because the Lord knows that I have not had a half hour to myself all day long.)

So, the children are off to bed.  It's 7:30, just like you planned, and you sit down to have some quiet time.  Perhaps to send an email.  Perhaps to call a sister or friend.  Perhaps to read your devotional because you never had time to read it since your children were up before you were and every time you sat down for quiet time something erupted in another room.  Whew, that was a long breath!

You're looking forward to those 30 minutes to unwind before your husband gets home.  You begin to get involved in whatever you have chosen to do and hear the garage door go up.  A quick look at the clock let's you know that it's only 7:45 pm.  What happens next?

(You would think that I'd be happy, right?  I mean, you haven't seen him all day and now he's home earlier than he told you.  But no.  Something inside is grumpy.  He's encroaching on my time.  Here I've finally sat down, and now I'm losing time to do what I want to do.)

He comes in and you are less than friendly.  He wonders what is wrong.  How do you tell him that you would have been much happier to see him...if he had gotten home at 8:00 like he had said?  How do you tell him it's the first quiet moment you've had all day?  How do you tell him you love him...but wish he wasn't home yet? 

I'd like to say that this type of thing is way in my past.  I can say that I'm recognizing it more often and stopping my "unfriendliness" before it leads to a misunderstanding.  My husband knows me.  He wants what is best for me.  He knows that our warrior likes to talk.   A lot.  He also knows that this constant chatter wears on me, intrudes on my thinking time, and can lead to a very grumpy wife if I go too long without some quiet and solitude.  (Our summer vacation in 2010 showed him that.  Our princess seems to have a similar "quiet thinking" personality.)

When I behave in that way, I am holding him responsible for something he has no control over.  I am keeping a "record of wrong" which has been allowed to grow and blossom in my mind and is completely unfounded!  (Sometimes, I even start "comparing" him to other husbands, real and fictional, who seem to always do the "right" thing.)  I need to remember 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV, 1984) when this happens:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Here is the TRUTH I need to remember:  My husband is a godly man.  He is seeking to live more like Christ each day.  He is learning how to love me as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25).

So, what do I do?  I remember that he is on my side.  If I explain to him, perhaps ahead of time, that it's been a really long day, and I've not gotten much quiet or time to myself, he will help me find a solution.  I know he will.  Because as the years have gone by, I realize that he has a LOT of good ideas.  And a lot of times, he can help me see the forest from the trees.  

However, I need to do a few things.  I need to actually SEEK HIS ADVICE and then LISTEN TO WHAT HE HAS TO SAY...without interrupting.  (I also need to clearly articulate the problem at hand, but that is another post.) That means I have to lay down my pride in "knowing" how to do everything around our home.  It also means that I need to keep my mouth closed and listen, without formulating a "rebuttal" in my head as he speaks. 

To close, I would like to say that I can not do these things on my own.  Often I find myself praying...

Lord, help me to really listen to what my husband is saying.  Let me have an open mind and really hear his perspective.  Jesus, please give my husband wisdom and guidance in leading our family.  And help me to stay under his authority, because you have placed him over me for my protection.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What is Love? Loving with No "Buts"

What is love?  A question to ponder, especially at this time of year, as the celebration of my Savior's birth (and hopefully your Savior too) comes nearer. 

I've been reading 1 Corinthians 13 and in some notes in one of my Bibles it points out that Paul uses the Greek word agape in the description of love found in this chapter of the Bible. 

Agape love is unconditional love.  A love that is given regardless of the worthiness of the one to whom the love is being given to.  It is the kind of love that God shows us.  It is the kind of love which is given because of a conscious choice made by the giver. 

Some would say that only God can love like this.  But I believe that we, as humans, can too...but not on our own.  We can only love like this with the help of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  And He helps us when we abide in Him.  How do we abide in Him?  I, personally, like what Psalm 119:9-16 (NIV, 1984) says:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
   By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart;
   do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O LORD;
   teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
   all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
   as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
   and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
   I will not neglect your word.

In my thinking on this topic, I had the following thought:

I want to love my husband and children...without any "buts."

A few things before I move on.  First, it might seem obvious that I want this.  Second, you might ask, what about everyone else?

To answer the second one first, it is much easier to love those you do not live with without any "buts" than those you do live with.  Especially when homeschooling means you are living with the latter ones 24/7.  I see them at their best...their worst...and everything in between.  And the reverse is true too (them seeing me!).
In response to the first, I have been noticing that I don't always emanate that type of love.  I may be heard saying something like, I love you, BUT when you (disobey, move slowly, scream, etc) it (saddens, frustrates, hurts) me.  While the latter are certainly true, and don't say outright that I don't love my child when he does those things, they do imply a conditional love when I add the "but."

When my daughter was little, a very good friend gave her a book called, "I Love You Because You're You" by Liza Baker.  It's a simple board book with pictures of a Mommy fox and Child fox.  Here are a few of the situations where the Mommy fox declares her love to her child:

I love you when you're sick and need to rest in bed.
I love you when you're frisky and standing on your head.

I love you when you're sad and need a kiss and hug.
I love you when you're playful and rolling on the rug.
(The picture in this one is great because the mom is in her rocking chair knitting and the child is on the floor at her feet all rolled up in yarn from the bottom of whatever she is knitting!  Let's just say the mom's expression has no smile while the child's is huge!)

I love you when you're angry and cross your arms and pout.
I love you when you're wild and yell and scream and shout.
(In the former the mom is putting toothpaste on the child's toothbrush while the child is crossing his arms and pouting.  In the latter the child is walking past the mom and a cat shouting while the mom covers her ears and the cat's hair is standing on end!)

Over the years, I have pulled it out and read it after breakfast to my two blessings.  Sometimes for weeks at a time!  Why did I read it to them?  It was as much, if not more so, to remind me to love them unconditionally, as it was to remind them that I love them, no matter what they do.

So then, where does that leave me?  I am, after all, only human.  Right?  The picture book is nice, but I do not always feel very loving to my children when they are yelling, "I hate you!" or "You're being mean!"  (Or when I have a headache and my son is screaming and shouting around the house...just for fun!)  No matter how hard I try, I fall down and end up yelling back (unfortunately).  But I don't want to do that anymore.  I want to love like Jesus loved.  I want to learn from Him.  

That's where 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 comes in.  As I mentioned earlier, I've been reading it lately and asking God to help me love like that.  I want my children to see a loving God through me.  Not One who is waiting for them to make mistakes.  Or always pointing out their mistakes.  Or saying, "I love you, but you've got a long way to go in this part of your life over here."  

Our Father in heaven KNOWS we have a long way to go, BUT He doesn't go around reminding us of it.  And when we are reminded, He wants to deal with us gently and lovingly.  Agape love.  He knows that when our hearts are turned to His, we won't need Him to say, "I told you so," because He knows we'll be hard enough on ourselves!  At least it seems to be that way with me.  I need to remember this as I parent my own children.  Lecture less, love more.  Or put another way, less is more (especially with my words sometimes!).

So, I'd like to share the Amplified translation of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

   Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
    5  It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
    6  It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
    7  Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
So far, these two thoughts have swirled around in my mind as I try to remember how to love when a situation gets "sticky."

Love does NOT take offense easily.
Love makes allowances.

Three passages support these statements (I'm sure there are more, these are simply the ones I have thought of now),  1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Ephesians 4:1-2, and James 1:19-20.  The first is above, and rather obvious, and the second two are ones I have been memorizing and meditating on with the Siesta Scripture Memory Team with Beth Moore and Living Proof Ministries.

I also thought of Proverbs 19:11 which says, "A man's wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense."  I referenced this verse in a previous post on wisdom. The more I think about love, though, the more I realize that this verse is also speaking to how we LOVE those around us.  Even when they offend us.

As I sat in the pew singing during the worship service on Sunday, the line of a well known Christmas Hymn struck me in it's simple, yet powerful message:

"Fit us for heaven to live with thee there."

Yes, it's from Away in the Manger.  And it's a good ending to this post on love.  

Lord, help us to love our husbands and children with no "buts," that You might, indeed, "fit us for heaven to live with thee there."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thoughts on A Day of Rest and Law vs. Grace

I am in an email group with a few other women and we have been reading the book of Nehemiah this summer.  Today's reading was Nehemiah 13:15-18.  Several in the group had already commented on our current view of having Sunday be a weekly day of rest.  I was a few paragraphs into my email regarding my thoughts on this topic when I realized I was also typing another post to this blog.  What follows is what ended up "pouring out" as I continued to type.

15 In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. 16 Men from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. 17 I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? 18 Didn’t your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath. 
Nehemiah 13:15-18, NIV (1984), emphasis added

One of the cities I lived in while growing up had "blue laws."  I'm not sure where the term came from, as I've never looked it up, but everything was closed on Sunday.  My mom spoke of "window shopping" as a Sunday afternoon outing with her family as all the stores were closed.

Here are my thoughts on a day of rest, along with where I got some of those ideas.

I read a book several years ago called, "Breathe:  Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life."  I still remember many of the things I learned/took from that book.  The author points out that the Sabbath is a gift from the Lord.  It is not to be a burden to us (that would be the legalism one woman spoke of), but rather a gift.  (Remember that Jesus said to come to Him all who were weary as His yoke was easy and His burden light, Matthew 11:28-30.)

I also read a book, at about the same time, called "Parenting in the Pew."  It's name would imply that it's all about children sitting in church while you parent them, but it's oh so much more than that!  It really made me think of why we go to church and what it means to worship the Lord.  She (the author) said something which still resonates with me:  "Sunday morning begins Saturday night."

Another book, "Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus," helped me think of what it meant for the Israelites (and practicing Jews today) to rest on the Sabbath.  It meant that they have to prepare ahead of time in order to get that rest!  That may seem like a "duh" statement, but it's not something we commonly find today.  (It was at this point in my email that I realized I would be making another post to this blog.  Two in one week, wow!)

For example, while we were on vacation, we visited some old friends.  Unsurprisingly, most asked where we had been on our vacation.  As we told one couple, the wife asked if I had made reservations at all of our "stops."  I replied in the affirmative.  She remarked on the forethought (for lack of a better way to put it) in doing that for a vacation.  She continued by saying that she decided where they were going to be going about 2 weeks before they left!

Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but I don't believe that God means for us to do that when it comes to some things.  He set the Sabbath as a day of rest after the Israelites were released from slavery in Egypt.  Imagine, they went from never having any rest, to being commanded to rest one day a week.  In addition to that, they were given mandatory festivals to worship Him where no work was to be done either. 

They were also told that they were to have a Sabbath year of rest every seven years!  Do you think they looked upon that as a burden?  No!  They looked at it as a gift from God!  These "rest times" were unchanging.  They didn't "sneak up" on you, you knew they were coming and had to plan for them!  Looking back to the time after Jesus' death on the cross, you will see how accustomed the people were to this type of preparation.

John 19:31, emphasis and notes added
Now it was the day of Preparation, This would be the day before Passover. and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. That would have been the Passover. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.

John 19:40-41, emphasis and notes added
40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation Again, this would have been the day before the Passover. and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Luke 23:55-56, emphasis and comments added
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. They prepared for burying Jesus properly before the Sabbath (that would have been the Passover) began.   But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Luke 24:1, emphasis and comments added
 1 On the first day of the week, This would be Sunday.  very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

Now, I don't know if you noticed, but in John 19:31 we are told it is a special Sabbath.  That would seem to indicate it was not the 7th day of the week, but rather the Passover.  On that year, the Passover must have fallen on Friday, which means Jesus was crucified on Thursday, the Preparation Day, as opposed to Good Friday, which is what I always believed.  (I first read about this difference in the Daily Bible, which is a chronological Bible divided up to be read in one year.  It has a lot of good "summary" information in it as well, which helped me to understand the History a lot better.) 

The women went on the first day of the week, Sunday, to the tomb.  That means they had to make sure things were all in order in their homes to have 2 days of rest.  And in Luke 23:56 we read why they rested on the Sabbath, to obey the commandment.  They had to prepare!

Now, I can not tell you that I am always as prepared as these ladies were.  I read both Breathe and Parenting in the Pew 4 years ago, in 2007.  While I am not always as prepared as I would like to be, I do have a different thought on what I want Sunday to be like in our home.  We try our best to make it a day of rest.  However, it is not always easy.  It is something I need to stay in tune to each week.  I need to prepare ahead of time so that it can be a day of rest.  I have to be on guard, watching for ways I might be tempted to say, "just this once."

One of the main ways I rest is to do no "regular" work.  Laundry is an example of that.  Does this mean I never do laundry on Sunday?  I can say I do no regular laundry.  However, if sheets or clothing get "soiled," I will wash them on Sunday.  I do not want to be legalistic about it, and there is a passage which comes to mind on days when I need to do such things.  It reminds me to steer away from legalism and get to the heart of the matter.  Here it is.

Matthew 12:1-13, emphasis added
1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

 3 He answered, Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.
 9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
 11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

The Pharisees were "looking for a way to accuse Jesus" (v 10).  They were using the laws to judge, which is not what He intended them for.  To me, legalism is when obedience becomes more about following the rules than the condition of the heart.  Does that mean we do not have to obey God's commands?  Certainly not!  I will close with some passages in Romans where Paul speaks to the tension between the Law and Grace.  (For some excellent teaching concerning these and other parts of Romans I suggest reading "The Normal Christian Life" by Watchman Nee.  It speaks in a most excellent way on living a Spirit filled life, which is what should be a normal Christian life.)

Romans 6:1-2  (see Romans 5 for more clarity)
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:15-16
 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 7:6-8
6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. 7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead.

To sum it up, the deeper my faith goes, the more I find myself in Paul's dilemma found in Romans 7:21-25.  I, like Paul, must remember that it is Jesus alone who rescues me from this catch 22.
 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!  (emphasis added)

If you read this whole post, I hope you found it encouraging in some way, or at least enlightening and thought provoking. I'm sure the small email group I'm in are not the only ones who come to questions regarding this point in our faith, especially if we are growing in Christ, growing being the key word.  Growth means change.  If you have any other thoughts or resources on this topic, please share your comments with us!

Thanks to the others in my email group for "getting me started!"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spiritual Warfare, a Dirty Diaper and Encouragement for Those Starting Out

Recently a friend was recounting an incident which occurred during her morning devotional with her children.  They were almost finished when one of the children commented that a younger sibling needed a diaper change.  The older child was told that the diaper would be changed as soon as they were finished, which would be in just a few minutes.  However, there was a stink in the air which was making it difficult to actually finish in those said "few minutes."  Another family member who was a bit older made a short remark, "Spiritual Warfare."  (At least that's the main point I got, the details may be slightly different.)

Raise your hand if you've been there (mine is waving frantically in the air with yours).  Maybe you were in the middle of something else, like a phone call, shower, or nap.  And maybe it wasn't the stink of a dirty diaper but messy hands, a sudden urge to use the bathroom, or a sudden whop from one child to another out of the blue.  Whatever the case, our children seem to often be a weapon Satan uses to break us down and tear us from our Lord and Savior's promises.

As I was showering this morning, I was thinking about my friend's story.  We laughed at it, but there was a truth in there that I needed to hear.  My children, while oftentimes wonderfully sweet, obedient and helpful, are susceptible to the same traps Satan lays out for us.  Only they are still infants in the faith, so they do not have nearly the experience and wisdom to side step those traps that we (hopefully do).  They may, in fact, not even see the traps yet! 

To continue following my "rabbit tracks" (as I termed them to my husband this morning), I thought of several people I know who are starting down the homeschool journey for the first time this year.  I look at some of them and think, wow, she will have an easy time because her children ... <fill in the blank>.  But then I think about my friend's story again.  Satan does not like it when we take control of the education of our children.  He has a more difficult time "getting to them," in my opinion.

So what happens?  He simply uses the fact that "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" (Proverbs 22:15, NKJV).  What does that translate to?  You and your child will likely come to some impasses as you embark on this journey.

They still have a lot of growing to do.  For that matter, so do I.  As I was typing a few paragraphs back, the thought of babies and milk came to mind.  I looked up the word "milk" on biblegateway and the following passage resonated with me:

1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (taken from, emphasis mine) 1 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV, 1984)

Hopefully, we have tasted that the Lord is good and are, therefore, more readily obedient to Him.  Our children, though, have yet to "grow up" in their salvation.  They are still in need of much training and guidance, no matter how "good" they can be.  And because of that, they will have breakdowns, meltdowns, and ups and downs.  (Think impasses.)

As I thought of this, I thought of how often and easily we throw in the towel when these "downs" occur.  We might even think that this is not what the Lord wants for our family, going back to the reasons we hesitated to dive in to this homeschooling "thing."
  • I won't have the patience;
  • I don't know how to teach <insert subject>;
  • I deserve time for myself;
  • My children just learn from others better than they do myself;
  • I'm not organized;
  • I don't know where to start;
  • My children will be isolated;
  • I just can't do it;
  • unfortunately the list goes on...and on...and on...
You see, we are not immune to the traps set for us either.  But thankfully, our God is so much bigger than those traps.  And He will provide what we need, when we need it, day after day, week after week, year after year, and even moment after moment.  So don't give up when those impasses or road blocks rear their ugly heads!  Think "spiritual warfare" and seek the One Who has already declared victory!

The first thing we need to do is stay in touch with the Lord.  For me, it's staying in His Word daily.  Hiding His Word in my heart (memorizing it) is also helpful to me and so is praying His Word.  We need a constant dose of His Promises so that we don't fall for the lies all around us.

The next thing we need to do is find some "horizontal" supports, in the form of like minded people.  Awhile back (several years), I prayed the following prayer for at least 6 months:
"Father, please bring strong believers into my life so that we may be mutually encouraged by one another's faith. (Romans 1:12)"  Praying God's Word, by Beth Moore, emphasis mine

For a long time I really meant, "bring strong believers into my life so that I may be encouraged by their faith."  But one day (months after I prayed it daily), I noticed the "mutually" that was in there.  Apparently, my faith might just be used to encourage someone else.  Honestly, I kind of found that truth amazing and a little unbelievable.  After all, what did I have to offer someone who's faith was so much more long lived than my own?  I, obviously, did not consider myself a "strong" believer at that point (okay, sometimes I still find it hard to fathom).  But maybe God knew something I didn't.

As you start your own homeschool journey, I hope that you'll pray for God to surround you with those who will lift you up and encourage you to continue on the path He has laid before you.  There will be days that you'll need that encouragement, and who knows, there may be days someone else will need YOUR encouragement!  I'm praying for those I know to be surrounded by strong believers.

 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:11-13, NIV (1984)

Look for a way out...not of homeschooling (Satan provides plenty of those)...but of giving in to the temptation to give up (the Lord will help you there).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Where do I start?" (For those looking for guidance)

(originally posted on May 10, 2011, minor editing on August 14, 2011)

It's always an exciting time of year for me, the old year is ending and the homeschool convention is on the horizon...contented sigh.  I always find great excitement in looking ahead to the next school year, planning, researching, and, of course, buying!!!

I have learned a lot since the first home school convention I attended.  I remember feeling that I needed to buy it ALL then, because who knew when I might have another opportunity!  Maybe they wouldn't have it next year.  Maybe I wouldn't remember what it was.

Now, I'm not nearly as "seasoned" as some convention go-ers, and I'm sure I have a lot more to learn.  This year will be the 4th one I've attended and boy am I excited.  I usually start looking forward to it in January (maybe that's sad, but it is true).  It's great now, because my husband and children also begin looking forward to it several months ahead of time.

I've been talking lately with several other moms who are homeschooling, one for the first time and others whose children are beginning to get into "books."  So, as I looked up some information on what we use, and what we've learned, I thought I would share some of those ideas and research here as well.

First of all, if you're new to homeschooling and your child is in early elementary school (I'd say 3rd grade or younger, just my opinion), focus on finding a good phonics/reading and math program that will work for you and your child.  A friend shared with me the comment that a seasoned home school mom had told her:  focus on the 3 R's in the beginning...reading, writing and 'rithmetic.  So, I guess you could say, In the beginning, there are the 3 r's (sorry, I couldn't help myself).

I'd like to share one more thing before moving on.  When I look for curriculum, especially for those basics, I am looking for something that my two blessings will be able to do independently.  Let me clarify that further by saying that it doesn't mean I don't want to teach them, I definitely enjoy teaching them!

However, life has a way of moving in directions you don't expect.  So, if I need to do something before going to our classroom to get started in the morning, I want my princess (and eventually my warrior) to be able to get started without me.  So, I look for programs that are consistent in the type of material presented and the way it is presented.

For us, usually it's on Tuesday that we dive into a new math and phonics lesson, so I make sure I am there to get her started.  By Thursday, though, I expect her to understand enough to begin on her own.  I'm also in the process of teaching her to skip questions she needs help on until I'm able to be there.  I believe this will help her in the future as well, not to get bogged down when she runs into difficulty, but to move on and come back to it.

So, here are what we use for those basics.  They have worked well for us.  

For math, we use Math U See, the website is  If you check on ebay or craigs list, you may be able to find a set of starter blocks for less expensive.  You may also check at the used curriculum sale next week.  They are hard to come by used, so it may be worth buying the whole set new if you will be using them on multiple children.

Rainbow Resource is a great place to get curriculum for less. I also like that fact that this company was started by a homeschooling family.  It is still family owned and operated.  And the reviews are written by people who have experience in using the curriculum.  Here is the link to it:  This site has a search engine, so if you type in a title, you will be able to find it if they have it. 

Phonics:  These are 3 "primer" books which teach the consonant sounds.  There is a teacher's book which goes with them. It gives ideas on different activities to use in teaching your child and also provides directions for the "following directions" page.
Get Ready for the Code
Get Set for the Code
Go For the Code

Phonics: This series is for when they know their consonant sounds.  Book 1 focuses on short vowel sounds, they'll learn each vowel throughout the lessons in the book.  The teacher's manuals that come with this provide ideas for teaching (don't feel you have to follow it exactly) and also have the answers for the post tests.
Explode the Code  books 1-8
Beyond the Code books 1-4 is a reading comprehension series published by the same company as Explode the Code.

Other places to look for preparing for reading and such (pre-school) are Rod and Staff ( and Pathway (go to Rainbow Resource). 

Pathway is a reading program for Amish parochial schools, the early workbooks may be worth looking at.  This past year is the first I have used it.  I got grade one for my princess and have really liked it.  I used Before We Read with my warrior this year, which is mostly an activity book that starts to teach them some color words, yes/no, etc. 

There are also workbooks called Learning Through Sounds (from Pathway) which I have not used, but look to be good.   They are phonics workbooks.  Here is a link to where they are in Rainbow Resource:

This past year, I began using First Languages for the Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise.  It's a grammar lesson that takes no preparation and only 10 to 15 minutes a day.  We do grammar after our devotional, which we do after breakfast.

For history and science, I have enjoyed the Lets Read and Find Out science books by Scholastic and the "If You..." books, also by Scholastic.  There are a wide variety of topics and are a fairly painless (and definitely plan-less) way to incorporate History and Science into your school day.

I would usually read these after meals.  (It helps that my children are slower eaters.)  So, after breakfast, I would read our devotional and then either history or science.  The "If You" books are fairly long (for a paper back), so it would take us a month or two to get through one.  The "Lets Read and Find Out" books are easily read in one sitting.

Here are two links to a search in Rainbow Resource:

This search is for History, it's in alphabetical order.  All the books start, "If You..."  For example, "If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon," "If You Lived During Colonial Times," etc.

This search is for Lets Read and Find Out

As for character books, here are a few that both myself and my children have really enjoyed:
The Shady Lawn Twins

Wisdom and the Millers

Crossroads of Character (other books by the Boyer's are good too)

Little Blessings Devotional for Pre-Schoolers

Bible Stories to Read (and Bible Stories to Color is the coloring book to go along with it)

Well, I think that's about it for now.  If you are a more seasoned homeschooler and have other suggestions, please send me a comment and I would be happy to pass them along!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Schedule: Will it trap me or free me?

I have been reading a devotional titled "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  It's been quite good.  My husband got it for me for Christmas and it's the version with space to journal.  As the space is not big enough for what happens normally when I begin to write things, I decided to use that space to write down the Scripture references given for each day. 

A friend asked me to join a "Good Morning Girls" group where we share what we've been reading in God's Word via email.  I share those Scripture references I've written down and sometimes a part of my devotional reading if it has struck a chord with me.  

I often have several blog posts "swirling" around in my head, but usually wait until I have time to do so.  There have been occasions when, regardless of time, I have to sit down and write something so that God will "release me" from thinking about it any more.  Yesterday I had jotted down the "titles" to about a half dozen of these "phantom posts."  Apparently the one about schedules needed to be written NOW, because what follows is what came out when I was typing my "Good Morning Girls" email tonight.  I hope you enjoy reading it!

Here are some of the highlights of my devotional reading:
"It is easy to make an idol of routine, finding security within the boundaries you build around your life."
"Don't try to force-fit today into yesterday's mold. Instead,ask Me to open your eyes, so you can find all I have prepared for you in this precious day of Life."

These two provide an interesting dilemma or challenge to me. My "default" is to have no routine, except that which is necessary or when planning for a particular event. In other words, I lean more toward being spontaneous in what we do. Usually I will have some thoughts rolling around in my head and then when the mood strikes, I'll announce my idea and assume everyone else will happily agree!

Homeschooling has forced me out of this mindset in order to be more efficient with the time allotted to each day. I began sketching out a "schedule" back in 2007 or 2008 when we first embarked on this adventure. It was a very general one, which often went more by the order in which we did certain things, rather than assigning a time to said things or tasks.

As time has gone on, our schedules have progressed to actually include times. In fact, my current schedule has something assigned to almost every half hour from 7:30 in the morning to 8 in the evening. To be honest, this is very difficult for me. Some days it makes me feel trapped, but other days it sets me free.  On days where I feel unmotivated, my schedule helps to keep us relatively productive, even when my brain feels like mush.

I have now printed out a schedule for my two children. I began to notice that when they knew what the day would bring, they did better. As I thought about that aspect of having a schedule, I realized that to my children, they may have never really knew what would happen next.

I realized that they were getting ideas about what they wanted to do at various times throughout the day (particularly my daughter who has similar leanings as myself) and when I told them it was time to do something, it would often lead to controversy (and sometimes worse). It didn't matter that we did the same thing every day, possibly at the same time. To them, their "plays" were being interrupted with no rhyme or reason.

So, while I sometimes feel "trapped" by a schedule, my children know what to expect and that makes things go more smoothly. I also have the authority to make changes to our schedule in case something comes up. I value flexibility and our schedule reflects that. I want to be available in case a friend needs help, my husband comes home early from work, or we just need to go to the zoo (or sometimes meet friends at the "play" McDonald's for lunch).

I have also "built" in cushions for those times of the day that I know (from experience) could take longer than I've planned. Some of these times include our morning routine (from waking up to starting our core studies) and our lunch and quiet time break. This helps me to remain a little less stressed or frustrated if we wake up late or if there's more "daydreaming" and less school work being done.

Once again, know that you are not alone on this journey.  We must join together in what God has called us to do.  As Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  I can honestly say that it has only been with Jesus that I have been able to come this far in my ability to stay on task.  He has shown me how "freeing" a schedule can be.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

On Being a Wife...

I have joined Beth Moore and the rest of the Siesta Scripture Memory Team to memorize 24 Scripture passages in 2011.  See the Living Proof Ministries blog if you're interested:

In late December I was thinking of at least a handful of verses to start off the year.  Most had to do with becoming a new creation and putting the old behind.  I had thought of one or two which spoke to what it meant to be a wife, but it was more of a passing thought.

With only a few days left to decide (our verses are posted on the 1st and 15th of each month), I used to look up 1 Peter 3:5-6 in several different translations.  When I read the Amplified one, it really "amplified" in my head.  Though I resisted a bit, I knew this would be the first one for me to memorize in 2011.  

I had recently been visiting with a friend about what the Lord had been doing in my life and she pointed out that He had been teaching me about obedience.  I've been getting the distinct feeling that He's taking me to a new level regarding obedience in 2011...

Here is 1 Peter 3:5-6 Amplified (I'm typing from memory, so feel free to check me!):
"For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were [accustomed] to beautify themselves and were submissive to their husbands [adapting themselves to them as themselves secondary and dependent upon them].
It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [followed his guidance and acknowledged his headship over by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority).
And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you]."

When I first copied this down, I underlined the part which says "to them."  As I kept reading it over, I eventually wrote myself above each "themselves" and him above each "them."  It would read "adapting myself to him as myself secondary and dependent upon him."  Sometimes I'll even use my husband's name instead of "him" when saying it. Then one day I read it and thought, "This is just the opposite way many women approach marriage."  

How often do we hear men say, "She liked me just the way I was before we married and now she just wants to change me."?  
How often have (or do) our own husbands felt (or feel) that way?  Ouch, that question hurts.

In this verse, however, we are told that the pious women of old did the opposite.  In fact, when they wanted to make themselves beautiful, they changed according to their husbands ways!  That means WE are the ones to do the changing, NOT them.

Please let me clarify something.  This does not mean we should do something our husband is doing if it is ungodly.  In the verses preceding the ones above we read:

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." 1 Peter 3:1-4 NIV

To me this implies we should live according to God's Word, whether our husbands believe the Word or not.  We should, however, be careful not to be the "nagging" wife husband's are warned about in Proverbs.  There are too many to list, but if you type in "wife" in and then scroll down to those which are in Proverbs, you'll see what I mean.  Men are warned that it's better to live on the corner of a roof and in the desert than to live with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.  

You would think that was enough learning for my first memory verse of the year, but the last part spoke volumes to me as well:  "not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you."  I don't know about you, but I often "rebel" against my husband the most when I feel as if I know a situation better than he does.  When it comes down to it, my mind begins racing ahead with "what if" scenarios, most of which do not have good endings.  I must also admit that most often these situations have to do with our children, as I'm convinced I know them better than anyone else, including my husband.  

Maybe you can see it now.  I trust him with the "safe" things, but if things get out of that "safe zone" I begin taking over.  Why?  Usually it's because I'm giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties (what if...) unnerve me!

So, if you have had any thoughts like mine, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  If you have not, then please pray for me to be the kind of wife my husband needs and my God wants me to be.  Actually, you can pray that for me either way.  I just said a quick prayer for all of you reading this, that you would be the wife your husband needs and that God wants you to be.  Blessings!