Saturday, August 4, 2012

What's It All About, Alfie

    Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day was Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out to show their support to the president of the company. Why? Just what is it that made people stand in line for up to an hour to purchase a chicken sandwich? There is a lot of debate on that along with the question of whether or not Christians should have been there in the first place. I have heard three reasons given for going to the restaurant that day.

     1. We support the view of the Bible that establishes marriage in the first place. One man. One woman. It is important for our elected officials and people across America and around the world to see that there are many who hold to that view. Not everyone who is against same sex marriage is a Christian, and not all Christians are against same sex marriages. Some choose to ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality just as some choose to ignore what it says about gossip, adultery, and not honoring your parents. Believing that marriage is for a man and a woman does not mean hating anyone. "I disagree with you" should be acceptable and should not be interpreted as "I hate you". Gee, who among us agrees with anyone about everything? Does that mean we hate everyone else?

     2. We don't agree with the Biblical view of marriage, but we do support his right to say that is what he believes. We also support his right to give money to whichever organizations he chooses. Citizens of our country are granted the right to free speech and freedom of religion. If you do not like the view of a particular person, you can argue it with him, try to change his view, or ignore him. You shouldn't get to call him names, claim he is a hater or that he discriminates against you because he doesn't agree with you.

    3. We don't think government officials should get to decide which companies do business in their cities based on the religious views of the company's president. This should have had all of America turning out to Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day. Why would any official in America want to keep a growing business that supports families (both traditional and non traditional) and employs citizens? I am glad to hear that Boston is an inclusive city. I just wish that meant inclusive of everyone. I am not sure what values Chicago has as I don't believe a city can have values, although its citizens can and most likely do have values that run a full spectrum. No one should be happy that mayors of cities are saying Chik-fil-A can't open a store there. Just as no one should be happy if a conservative mayor decided that Ben and Jerry's wasn't welcome in their town because of the owners views on marriage. This is a serious issue, and we all need to be on our guard against such statements.

   Should Christians have turned out on Wednesday. Yes. We have a responsibility to support one another. A brother came under attack because he stood up for what is written in God's Word. He needs to know that his family stands behind him. Yes. We have an obligation to uphold the Constitution of our country which grants the rights of free speech and religion. Did our actions show the hate to the homosexual community? No. Did the homosexual community take our actions as hateful? Many did. Why? Most likely because they are in sin and know it. No one likes having their sin pointed out, especially publicly. Abortion doctors don't want picketers in their neighborhoods. Adulterers avoid places where they will be seen by someone they know. Gossips don't share their juicy tidbits with those they know will disapprove. Sinners hate the light that shines and reveals their sinfulness. That doesn't mean the light hates the sinners.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hooray Chik-fil-A

    The outrage over the statement made by the CEO of Chik-fil-A amazes me. In a country that values the freedom of the people and even has a Constitution that grants its citizens that right, there should be no problem with him being able to state his views. There should be no problem with Chik-fil-A or Cathay supporting whichever legal organizations they wish with the money that they have earned. Again, they should have the freedom to express themselves this way. If you don't like their views, if you don't like the organizations that they support, don't go to Chik-fil-A. Give your money elsewhere. Let that be the end of it.

     When the Hensons pulled out of their partnership with Chik-fil-A, the homosexuals cheered. Again, it is the right of the Hensons to disassociate themselves from a company that has values that they disagree with. My question is, are they such terrible businessmen that they had no idea that Chik-fil-A was a company based on Christian values? Did they not realize that their CEO and other officers truly believed these things? Did it not occur to them that this would include their views on marriage? Of course they did. The Hensons did not go into this partnership blind. Even before this news story, the majority of America knew that Chik-fil-A was founded and operates on biblical values. If the Hensons truly had a problem with these views, they should never have joined with the company. Instead, they were perfectly happy to compromise the views of their CEO in order to make more money. What integrity.

     Now I hear from liberal friends that they don't want to support Chik-fil-A because they don't want their money to go to support "hate groups". That is your choice, but I certainly have a couple of issues here. You have the option to avoid Chik-fil-A. You don't have to eat there. You can tell your friends not to eat there. You can even picket them if you wish. I don't want my money going to support killing children or providing living expenses to drug addicts and alcoholics. Unfortunately, that is what happens with my taxes. I can't choose to not pay unless I want to go to jail. If I speak out against these things, I am labeled a hater, a bigot and intolerant.

      How are the groups that Chik-fil-A supports "hate groups". These groups support and encourage biblical Christian values. Calling them hate groups is like saying the NAACP hates whites. Supporting one group of people does not mean you hate another. Neither is Chik-fil-A discriminatory against homosexuals. I have never heard of an instance where anyone was turned away from the restaurant because of their sexual orientation. The actual interview that all of this hoopla is based on never even mentions homosexuals.

     It seems that America has become a nation of tolerance, unless you hold biblical Christian views. Then you can be attacked at will by many who have no idea what the Bible actually says. I am told repeatedly that homosexuality is only prohibited in Leviticus and the OT is obsolete, that there is no mention of homosexuality in the NT. I am told that God loves everybody and that the judgemental God of the OT is gone. I think that if you are going to attack those that adhere to the Bible, you ought to make an effort to read the book.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Children, A Gift From God

     A friend of mine said something yesterday that I have been mulling over in my mind. (Don't you just love that phrase "mulling over in my mind"?) She said that children are the only blessing from God where we tell him, "No thanks, I have enough." That certainly seems to be the case. I know that the Catholic Church has gotten a lot of negative reactions over the years for their stance on birth control. But, if we really and truly believe that God works ALL things for our good, if we believe that He is all knowing and all powerful, if we believe that He is who the Bible says He is, why don't we trust Him to give us the right number of children for our family? What, in our vast years of experience, makes us think that we know better than He does?

     There are an awful lot of Christians against abortion. Most of them recognize that God is the one who allowed that child to be formed. That baby is a part of His plan. What, then, is the difference? Sex doesn't always result in a child. When it does, it is because God worked a miracle. Why do we want to stop Him? I know a lot of people argue that they couldn't afford more children. Really? Has God let you down yet? Do you think that if you had another child, He would turn his back on you and let you all starve? What if the odds of having a child with a serious birth defect were high? God knows and His grace is sufficient. While I am not ready to say that birth control is evil or that you are heading to hell for using a condom, I do think it is something that you should seriously consider. Are you choosing to be god in this situation or are you willing to trust in Him and His plan?

     The other side of that coin is trying to have a baby. Is IVF the right choice? I know a lot of Christian couples who have desperately wanted a baby and have gone that route. But, aren't they choosing to play God? If He was able to give a child to Mary, a virgin, and to Sarah and Hannah and Elizabeth, why can't we trust Him to give us children if it is the best thing for us? It is hard. I know. Especially in a church where children are looked on as a blessing. But the same questions should apply here as the ones when considering birth control. Do we as the creature have the right to take the place of the Creator? I think not. These are difficult areas for everyone, especially for Christians. Let us seek God's wisdom as we discuss these things and consider His Word our standard.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spontaneous Generation

   We were studying about spontaneous generation in our science class last week. This is the idea that life can come from non living organisms. The example that we read about was maggots forming from rotting meat. It was amazing to my kids that revered scientists actually believed in this idea for so many years. I had to point out to them that many revered scientists still believe that life can be formed from non-life. After all, isn't that what the "Big Bang" is all about? Somehow, life was formed from nothing? Something for them to consider over the weekend before we continue our study.

   As I continued to mull the thought over in my head, I thought about our life in Christ. Only in Christ can the dead be made to live. We cannot bring ourselves to life. We are DEAD in our trespasses and sins. No spontaneous generation is going to be happening here. There is nothing, nothing at all, that the dead can do on their own (except rot). That is us until God gives us life.

   Interesting how so many Christians who laugh at the thought of maggots coming from rotted meat or rats from moldy hay, have no trouble believing that they are able to do something, anything to save themselves. Get over it folks. Something doesn't come from nothing. Ever. Period. No matter what.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Proud To Be an American

    Did you hear the news yesterday about the principal in New York who decided that the kindergarten class could not sing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." at their graduation? Her reason? It might offend some cultures. Really? We have here American students living in America attending an American public school paid for by American tax dollars. Just what culture are you worried about offending, and why are you worried about offending them? I can tell you this. I don't live in NY or have kids in the public school system, but I sure am offended by this decision.

    Just as offensive to me is the choice of song to replace "God Bless the U.S.A.". Justin Bieber's "Baby"? How is it that a song about teenage love is less offensive than a song about the resiliency of the American people? When will this idiocy end? When will we stand up for ourselves? I am saddened that a public school principal has been allowed to decide that patriotism is offensive. I hope the parents at this school, in New York City, and around the country will speak out against this decision. I hope these students will learn how really great this country is and they will be proud to be an American.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hope For The Future

I had the privilege this weekend of spending time with several thousand family members. They are an awesome group of people. Friendly, helpful, outgoing, caring, full of great advice, humble and loving. I love when we get together each year and find our time together way too short. We stay up late, get up early and talk non stop. Every year we add new friends and celebrate with old friends. It is a blessed gathering that never fails to lift my spirits, infuse me with energy, remind me of my limitations and need for the Lord, and most of all instill hope in the future. Our reunion is the annual FPEA homeschooling convention in Orlando, FL

I found my greatest source of hope this year in a couple of unlikely places. All day on a beautiful sunny Thursday at a resort hotel with a cool water play area that had four slides and dump buckets, with movies and other fun activities available, there were students who chose to attend a seminar on being an entrepreneur. Kids ages 12-18 spent eight hours devouring the words of a successful businessman of 30 who had been homeschooled and offered up insights and inspiration to these eager learners. These kids learned how to start their own business, how to market, how to use ebay and paypal. They were given invaluable lessons to help them in their future, and it was obvious to all there that they were eager to put their new knowledge into practice.

The second place of hope was in a small partitioned off area at the front of the food court were about 15 tables. Each had a display of wares available. The variety of items for sale was remarkable. No two tables had the same products. Everything was well made and affordable. What gave me the greatest hope, though, was the people behind the tables. The owners of each of these businesses were kids. Students set up their wares, marketed, interacted with customers and made sales.

These students gave me hope for the future of our country and they should give you that same hope. They are not ones who are going to be sitting around in parks complaining that no one has given them a job for which they are qualified. They are the ones who are going to be rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty in order to start their own business. In spite of the difficulties that government regulations create for them, they are going to give it their all. Every one of these kids that I talked with had more than one idea for a company. I know that one failure isn't going to make them quit. These students are our future. They are ambitious, excited, and ready to work hard to make their dreams come true. And I, for one, am excited to see them take on the task. We need these kids and their example. Thank you young entrepreneurs and FPEA for the hope that you have shown me for the future of America.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Where Did Those Great Kids Come From?

I have been so blessed with some very wonderful children. There are many times that I want to take credit for how well they have turned out. After all, I have devoted my life to making a home and raising our children. Truth be told, I am most likely more responsible for their flaws than anything, and I am most grateful to a great and glorious God who takes my mistakes, ignorance, pride and selfishness and manages to use those things to produce young men and women who make me proud to be called "mom".

Princess had it rough. As our oldest, she was the test product. I chuckle when I watch the new Nokia commercial for their smart phone. That is kind of how I view our parenting. We tested out theories. We practiced parenting. We learned right along with her what it meant to discipline, be consistent, train and love. There were so many ups and downs because, to be absolutely honest, I had no idea what I was doing. The whole thing was new and different for me, and I was just beginning to learn to turn to God and the Bible when I needed answers.

Dude and Mr. Awesome didn't have it too easy either. Two at the same time always meant sharing. They didn't get one on one time. They didn't get undivided attention. Nothing was ever theirs alone. Too often they were treated to the same discipline and teaching methods even though they are very different people. Dealing with two at the same time also meant a shorter fuse for me. I snapped more often than I would ever want to admit.

Sweet Mo got the short end of the stick. She was so willing to go along with whatever was happening that I forgot to treat her like the young lady she is. She ended up with trucks and footballs as her toys instead of baby dolls and tea parties. Her desire to please her parents means that I didn't parent her at intentionally as I should have.

Squishy has had his own hurdles. It is never easy to be the baby. I am older and worn out. It is hard work to discipline consistently. I am tired of teaching the same lessons over and over. By now, I want my kids to know to obey, tell the truth, be caring, gentle and selfless without having to constantly remind them. I know that I have ignored his needs too often because I am selfish and just want a little time to myself.

I have tried. Like most of you, I want to be a great mom. I want to lead my children as they grow closer to God. I want them to display the fruits of the Spirit. I want them to succeed in this life, following the path the Lord has designed for them. I know that because I am a sinful woman, I haven't tried hard enough. I have failed to do all that I can possibly do to reflect Christ to my children. Fortunately, the God of the Bible is gracious. He takes my mistakes and my failings as a mom and uses them to mold some pretty incredible human beings. I eagerly look forward to what else He will do with them. In the meantime, I will continue to muddle along as their mom, making mistakes, loving them and doing what I can; knowing the God will use it all for good in their lives. I'd really like to take the credit for the amazing children in my family, but really it all does belong to He who is able to work good things until the day of Christ Jesus. May He continue to work in me and in them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

     As the school year comes to an end, I hear from a lot of homeschool moms who are beginning to feel the stress. This is the time of evaluations, testing and portfolio review. It is the time when so many rush to “get it all in” and not fall behind. I hate this time of year for that very reason. Women who were enjoying time with their children, learning together, and reaping the rewards of working at their child’s pace and interests suddenly begin to doubt themselves and their methods as they see the year closing and they realize that their children have not accomplished what the Jones kids did.

     I love this time of year, too, because this is when I am often able to remind these women of the things they already know about their God. The Scriptures are full of wonderful verses reminding us of His omniscience (He knows just what we and our children need) “For your Father knows what you need before you ask him”, and His omnipotence (He has the power to provide for all our needs: physical, spiritual and educational) “Great is the Lord and mighty in power”. Some of the great old hymns are filled with reminders to us that God cares about even the smallest and seemingly inconsequential things. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” I am sure the Bible and the hymns are full of these reminders because we are a forgetful people. So let me add my reminder here.

      God is a good father who loves perfectly. He wants our children to succeed, but His plan for their success may look different than that of this world. He has called you to be the teacher, to lead your children in His way. It is your primary job to focus them on reflecting the glory of the One who created them. If they need to learn Latin in third grade or advanced biology in fourth, God will provide an incredibly obvious open door to that path. I know. I have been there. I have had acquaintances offer to share knowledge with my children out of the blue. I wasn’t looking for teachers. I hadn’t even considered that the kids might want or need the information, but God knows and He provides. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the end of the school year. There is no need to worry. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Redemption by Bryan Clay

With my schedule it isn't often that I manage to read through a book in two days, but I did this time. Sadly, I had never heard the name Bryan Clay until I saw this book available from Booksneeze. I didn't know he had won the gold medal in the 2008 Olympic decathlon. That alone is an incredible achievement. He has also won many more competitions in his lifetime. What is really impressive is his life story. Bryan is not someone we would have expected to see in the Olympics. A rough childhood involving suspension from schools, illegal drug use, and a late start in running don't often lead to Olympic glory. Fortunately, God's plan for Bryan led in an unusual direction. I really appreciated hearing the truth from Bryan. He didn't sugar coat his story or soften the rough edges. He doesn't give the impression that following God made his life
a fairy tale. Bryan is still a sinner and struggles with the same temptations that all of us deal with. His story was an encouragement and a great reminder that we serve a big God who has a plan and the power to make His plan happen. I look forward to this year's Olympic games and seeing what God has in store for Bryan.
I received a free copy of this book from booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Convention Workshops: What Should I Choose?

The FPEA homeschool convention is coming soon, and I am so excited. I received my convention catalog earlier this week and have been pouring over the workshop descriptions. These workshops can be invaluable whether you are a brand new homeschooler or have been doing this for decades. I have been talking with several families that are planning to start homeschooling this fall. As you look over the workshops offered, you may wonder how in the world you go about choosing which to listen to each hour. Here are my general recommendations. Some of you don't have preschoolers, so skip those. Most hours I was able to limit it to one, but sometimes there were two that I would recommend. If you are able to attend with your husband, you can split up and attend both. If not, you are going to have a tough decision.
Session 1
Attend #10 FPEA Orientation to Homeschooling - What you need to know to get started.
Get on CD #1 Bible as Foundation for Every Subject
#4 Homeschooling Methods that Win and that Wipe Out
Session 2
Attend #17 Improve Your Skills As An Educator
Get on CD #13 Practical Guide to Making Scripture Central
#23 Proverbs: God's Character Curriculum
#24 Twenty Five Books You Can't Homeschool Without!
Session 3
Attend #28 Seven E's for Choosing Curriculum
Get on CD #35 The Creation Interpretation
Session 4
Attend #45 How to Teach Elementary Science at Home
Get on CD #37 Keys to a Strong Homeschool Curriculum
Session 5
Attend #54 Couponing Made Simple
Get on CD #50 Ministering to the Heart of a Child
#51 Attention.....CHILL OUT
Session 6
Attend #68 Cutting Your Budget Without Cutting Costs
#70 The Well Planned Day
Get on CD #64 Fun, Easy Ways to Increase Your Child's Attention
#66 Blending the Many Facets of Homeschooling
#71 Defining Your Journey= Hitting Your Target
Session 1
Attend #77 The Fun Factor: How Active Enjoyment Impacts Learning
#79 Curriculum for Hands-on, Creative and Gifted Learners
#80 Understanding Your Child's Learning Style
Session 2
Attend #90 Occupying Preschoolers While Teaching Older Children
Get on CD #87 Notebooking: Creativity With a Purpose
#88 Getting It All Done
Session 3
Attend #102 Handwriting Without Tears
Get on CD #97 Finishing Well: Life After Homeschooling
#106 Where is the Joy
#108 Why I'm Glad I Homeschooled Through High School
Session 4
Attend #114 Teaching Biblical Worldview to Ages 6-14
Get on CD #109 Cultivating a Love for Learning
#110 Teaching Precious Preschoolers and Little Learners
#120 A Homeschool Vision of Victory
Session 5
Attend #127 Making Science Fundamental
Get on CD #122 Time Management Priorities for Home Educators
#128 Joining the Generations
#129 What is Critical Thinking

As you can see, it is a busy two days, but so very worth your time investment. If you are going to be homeschooling next year, you need to consider spending this weekend in Orlando. You won't regret it, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Dinner Bell

“It’s five o’clock somewhere.” Words that strike fear in the hearts of moms across the country. “for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee “(the dinner bell that is). Yes, it is time to get dinner on the table and once again there is no plan, nothing is defrosted and everything sounds like too much work. Add to that, children who are whining because they refused an afternoon nap, a mom who is overwhelmed by the job God has given her to do, and we begin to see why husbands are not greeted at the front door by smiles and hugs from his loving family. How can we solve these problems? It has been awhile since I have had four kids 6 and under, but I still use some of the skills I learned then, and I’d love to help you out.
1. Start small. Next time you make spaghetti sauce, double the batch and freeze half. You can do the same with chili, soups, and many casseroles. It doesn’t really take much extra time and effort, and it will save you stress in the future.
2. Make a plan. Try planning for the week or two weeks. Know what ingredients you are going to need and make sure you have them on hand. I plan our dinners for a month at a time. It sounds harder than it is. Once a week is soup night. I have 8-10 soup recipes my family enjoys. This means we only get the same soup every couple of months. Once a week we have a meat free meal. There is Italian night and Mexican night in our house because those are popular cuisines here. We usually have a “clean the fridge” night and my hubby does Sunday’s (usually on
the grill) because that is my day off. All of that means I only have one night a week left that I have to plan. It might take a while for you to get a rotation you like, but once you do, meal planning for a month is a snap.
3. Pick up a copy of “Dinner’s in the Freezer” by Jill Bond. It is full of practical advice on freezing ahead. The best advice is to use heavy duty foil and top quality freezer bags so your hard work doesn’t go to waste.
4. Use your crock-pot. It doesn’t take long to assemble the ingredients needed for several crock-pot meals. Place all of the ingredients for each meal in a freezer bag. When you want to use it, dump into the pot in the morning, turn it on low and don’t worry about a thing until you are ready to eat.
I am sure that many of you have other ways to make dinner planning, shopping and preparation go smoothly. Please pass them along. I can still use some help. Think how happy our husbands
are going to be when we can greet them at the door with a smile and some yummy smells coming from the kitchen. Maybe they won’t notice the plastic toys all over the family room floor.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lessons From a War Horse

Last night our family sat down and watched a movie together. This is no small feat. It is hard enough to find an acceptable movie. It must meet parental standards and it has to appeal to both male and female teens. That leaves slim pickings these days. Then, we must find an evening when
no one is working or has practice or games for softball, baseball, soccer, or track. Last night was a minor miracle. Not only did we all watch a movie together. We enjoyed the movie. And I learned some things.

1. Even though I may be a thoroughbred, I need to be willing to move out of my comfort zone when God is trying to teach me something. He alone knows what is coming in my life and what skills I am going to need to meet future challenges.
2. Working hard builds endurance and strength. It is the best, if not only way to build
these characteristics.
3. Faithfulness has its rewards. Good friends are one of them. You never know when you are
going to need a good friend who will step in when you can’t pull the load.
4. I need to learn to listen to my master’s voice. When He calls, I need to come running. It has and will continue to save my life.

I am not sure that the makers of “War Horse” intended it to be a movie about the Christian walk, but that is the neat thing about God. He can use anything (even a donkey) to get His message across. See the movie and listen to what God might be telling you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Farm Fresh Southern Cooking

Fresh fruit and vegetables and southern cooking. What could be a better combination? That was my thought when I saw this book available for free through the booksneeze program if I would just give my honest review. Honestly? I like it. I like it a lot. I was born in the south and appreciate good southern food. I love home grown fruits and veggies and it kind of irks me when people talk about southern food as being fried foods and gravy. It is really SO much better than that. Now, thanks in part to Tammy Algood, all of you can experience some fresh, tasty goods from the south.
I really appreciated Tammy's focus on locally owned farms throughout her book. What fun to read about small farms that specialize in some great food. It made me want to load up the kids and take a road trip, pigging out on yummy berries, veggies, and dairy products available along the way.
The recipes were simple enough for the average cook to prepare without any hassle, yet unique enough to impress the guest. Ingredients were everyday staples which always makes life easier. The directions were very clear. I wish, just as I do in most cookbooks, that the author had commented on whether or not the recipe was suitable for doubling and/or freezing. This might not be a need for most folks, but with a large family and a desire to cook ahead sometimes, it would be a big help to me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hearts, Flowers, and Dumpsters

When we think of symbols of love the first things that come to mind are hearts, flowers, cupid, and rings. Pictures of that romantic, Valentine's Day kind of love. Nothing wrong with that. Romantic love is wonderful, needed, and gives us great joy. But the symbols of deep, sacrificial love are never that pretty. They are often disturbing, ugly, and painful just like the sacrifice they represent. This kind of love is what keeps us going when times get tough. When we have been loved sacrificially we feel special and worthy, not because of anything we have done, but because someone else thought we were worth sacrificing for.

Yesterday Stan added a dumpster to that list of love symbols. It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was smelly, dirty, uncomfortable and messy. It is something that I would not have done for myself, but, out of his love for me, Stan went dumpster diving. Last Thursday I left a special blanket at the park. It was another love symbol given to me by my daughter for Christmas, but with keeping track of extra kids to be picked up, gathering other people's left behinds and trying to get my kids home in time for evening activities, I forgot it. I didn't even realize that I had forgotten it until Friday night. That meant that it was going to be Monday before I could get back to see if it was still around. Stan offered to go to the park for me on Monday while he was at work.

He did. He hunted down the parks guy and asked about my blanket. He was told that it was most likely in the bottom of the dumpster. That huge dumpster in the parking lot. The one full of weekend debris from those who had enjoyed the lovely weather we have been having and the remains of softball tournament celebrations. I wouldn't have climbed in. I would just have mourned the loss of the blanket and gone on. Not my sweet, loving husband. His love for me moved him to dig in that dumpster to the very bottom. After finding another blanket, he almost gave up thinking the parks manager was mistaken, but he didn't stop until he reached the bottom. There it was. A mess that he brought home and washed and hung on the line so that I would feel blessed and loved and cherished. I am a fortunate woman.

His actions reminded me of another ugly symbol of sacrificial love. The cross. It isn't pretty. It is a symbol of a horrible, ugly, painful way to die. At the time, it was the most shameful way to be killed. In spite of this, Jesus willingly went to the cross to take the penalty for my sin. His great love led Him to sacrificial love so that I would know how deeply I am loved and that I am priceless in His eyes. That is true love beyond measure.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Do You Know This Person

I recently saw a 20 year reunion picture from my elementary school. ( Yes, I am older than that. It was an old reunion picture). It was interesting to me to see how easy it was to pick out some of the people and how difficult it was to remember others. The easiest ones were the people that I spent 12 years in school with. The ones that I saw day in and day out nine months of each year. The ones I played with on the playground and saw at the pool during the summer. Obviously those that I was most familiar with were the easiest to recognize even after 20 years.

Do you know that it is like that with God? The more time we spend with Him, the better we know Him, the easier He is to recognize. The longer you know the Lord, the easier it is to see Him in everything around you. He has revealed Himself in all of nature so that no one has excuse. Do you know Him well enough to see Him all around you everywhere and every day? I hope so. If not, it isn't too late. Start spending time with Him everyday getting to know Him better and enjoying who He is. You don't want to miss out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

About the Clay

“Have thine own way, Lord. Have thine own way. Thou art the potter. I am the clay” I was thinking on this hymn the other day. Meditating on being the clay. Just what does that mean? Clay is not really that remarkable. It is mud. Dirt. The stuff your mom yells at you about when you walk through the house with it on your shoes. It isn’t valuable just sitting there in the ground. It is only after the potter has done his work that the clay becomes desirable at all.
Clay is soft and squishy. It can be molded into any shape and stamped with any impression at all. All kinds of outside forces affect what the clay becomes. The potter uses all kinds of tools to make the clay into the vessel he can use best. Until it is fired, that clay is still pliable. It can be changed into something else. It can be molded by another to use for a different purpose.
The firing changes the clay. It makes the clay hard, permanent, unchanging. We certainly don’t enjoy the heat and discomfort that comes with the fire, but it is necessary so that our maker’s stamp is permanently upon us. Until we experience the fire, we don’t realize how permanent his love is. When he walks through those tough times with us, we know that we bear his mark forever.
It isn’t a perfect analogy. None is. But it does make me think about God and how he is making me into the woman He wants me to be. Every time I feel the heat, I want to remember that God is making His eternalimpression on my life.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Homeschool Education

Homeschooling is a great way to educate. I am not talking about your children here; I am talking about you. When I started this job 21 years ago, I thought I was doing it because it was the best thing for our children. I wanted them to have an education that fit their needs and developed
a desire to learn more. What I didn’t realize then was that God was going to use this process to teach me so much.
1. I learned about my kids. I have five children and each of them is a very interesting individual with their own gifts and talents. Having them at home everyday has given me time to really get to know (and enjoy) them. I have been able to spend time with them as they discover the wonder of nature, how radio parts (and later car parts) go back together, the joy of different art mediums,
and so many more experiences. It has been such a pleasure to see the expressions on their faces as they learn new things for themselves.
2. I have learned about myself. Like most homeschool moms, I have realized how little I retained from my education. I have learned right alongside my children and have enjoyed it. I have learned that I am more resilient than I realized. My brain cells have not all died off, and I can still learn new things even after my kids are grown and gone.
3. I have learned about God. I think that God must chuckle when another new family decides to homeschool. We all start with the greatest of expectations and quickly see that nothing goes according to plan. God teaches us patience, compassion, mercy, perseverance, and grace. Most of all, God has taught me to turn to Him daily. I make mistakes with my kids each and every day, but God is good and faithful to cover those mistakes and use them to accomplish His purposes. Homeschooling has strengthened my relationship with my Lord and Savior. There is so much more that I have learned. I know that no one will die if the bathrooms aren’t spotless, true friends ignore the clutter in the living room, everyone has their own gifts (so find a friend who enjoys dissection and invite your kids to her science lesson), dinners can be made in advance and frozen, living on a budget builds character, people are a greater investment than anything else, and I REALLY LIKE MY KIDS (especially as teens). Homeschooling has blessed me in
countless ways. I know the experience will bless the rest of you too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Why is it that in America, a country that guarantees free speech, we seem to have a problem with Christians who exercise that right? I was reading an article a couple of days ago about Kirk Cameron. Evidently, he stated on a television show that he believed that homosexuality was wrong, a sin. Horrors! The author was livid that anyone would say such a thing. According to him, Mr. Cameron was supposedly out of step with mainstream American Christianity. So what? Kirk was expressing his belief. He didn’t say everyone had to believe that way. He didn’t call Americans to arms to protest homosexuality. He didn't say anyone should hate homosexuals.He just stated that he believed it was a sin because the Bible says it is a sin. Why are we not okay with that? Why must we jump down his throat because he believes the Bible and is willing to say in public that he believes it?
A few of my high school friends were complaining recently about a Catholic priest. They want him fired. Why? This priest had the audacity to deny communion to a practicing lesbian at her mother’s funeral. The Catholic church has long been vocal in its opposition to homosexuality. Catholics and non Catholics alike understand that the church teaches this is sinful. Here is a church leader who is practicing what the church says it believes. The Bible condemns homosexuality, the Catholic church teaches it is wrong, and the priest followed this teaching
to deny communion to this woman. She grew up in a Catholic home. It was no surprise to her that she shouldn’t take communion in that church, but she is angry that the priest actually followed the teachings of the church. Isn’t that ironic? We complain about the hypocrites in
the churches these days, but we want the church leaders to be hypocrites. It seems like these days we are all for letting people say and do what they want as long as it isn’t based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
What kind of twisted, warped society are we? I want Americans to continue to have the right of free speech. The media never condemns actors who speak about supporting homosexuality. I want to belong to a church where the leaders support the teachings of their church. If I don't agree with those teachings, I need to find a different church, not complain because the leadership does agree.Is there something wrong with that?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Do You Do...

When you don’t want to do what you do anymore?
The excitement of starting a new school year is over. The holidays have passed. And now a long stretch of the same old, same olds looms before you. That does it. The whining, complaining,
griping and grumbling begin in earnest, and that is just you. The kids are no better. You can hardly drag yourself out of bed in the morning and begin to wonder if it is too late to enroll your precious charges in the local school. Buck up. Now is the time to introduce the unexpected and finish strong. You can do it.
When I plan my school year, I will often plan to change things up in the second semester. I
switch curriculum, not because the first one wasn’t working, but because I know that we can become complacent. I might switch up the method. We may go from hands on to online learning, or to a literature based program.
If you are suffering from the second semester doldrums, maybe you could try a few tricks
to shake things up a bit. Try schooling four days a week and taking an extra day a week for fun family times. You can have class a few extra weeks to make up for time lost if you wish. Take a few days to concentrate on all those messy science experiments that you have skipped all year. Go to the zoo, the beach, the museum, or the science center. Take some time to start a new hobby. Pick one country and study all about it. Make a flag, maps, and travel brochures. Plan a traditional meal and invite your neighbors. I bet they’ll be impressed by your homeschoolers. Check out geocacheing or letterboxing. It will get you out of the house with a purpose. Spend a morning drawing pictures and deliver them to the local nursing home in the afternoon.
Pretty soon you will have a whole list of fun activities to look forward
to. Those days of boredom will soon disappear as you plan and prepare for a new
adventure each week. I bet the second half of your school year becomes the best

A Day In The Life

I have struggled to write to you about what a day in the life of our homeschool family
looks like. That is because so much varies from day to day and from year to
year. I am also concerned that there are those of you who will read about our
family, decide that this is the way homeschooling should be, and adopt our
lifestyle for your own when that is not what would work best for you. I
understand the desire to find the “right” way to do this so you don’t mess up
your kids’ lives, I’ve been there, but with homeschooling the only right way is
the way that works best for your family at this time.
When we started homeschooling, my husband and I talked about what we wanted to
accomplish. We were pulling our child out of public school for two reasons. She
was ahead of much of the class in reading and math and the schools had just
implemented a sex ed program that would start in Kindergarten and not include
abstinence. Our goals for the year were to meet her needs in providing a more
difficult reading and math curriculum and to teach her what the Bible says
about being a godly woman. This was accomplished easily with traditional
Christian textbooks and daily family devotionals. I would sit down on Saturday
and assign her work for the week that she was free to finish early if she
desired. Most weeks she did so that she could have a friend over to play and
spend the night. We joined a support group that met weekly and things worked
out well this way for many years.
Princess is now grown and gone, but four more have taken her place in our homeschool.
What worked well for her wasn’t right for Dude and Sir. They rebelled when it
came to learning to read and Dude couldn’t seem to sit still for a full 10
minutes. Changes had to be made in our schedule. We spent more time doing hands
on activities. We built things, observed, experimented. We went to every story
time that I could find and I read to them faithfully hoping to spark that
desire to read. Little time was spent pouring over textbooks and worksheets.
Now Mo and Squishy have joined our ranks and they are all middle school and above. We
are back to incorporating traditional textbooks, but also use online classes
and dual enrollment to round out our school day. This means that we are more
structured because Dude and Sir must be at the college at certain times. Most
of our academic school day happens in the mornings. Three of them are up early
for track practice anyway so it is easier for them to start right after showers
and breakfast. The other has baseball practice in the afternoons, so he needs
to be done by then. Dude and Sir also have outside jobs that they need to work
around. They are all pretty independent learners at this point so my job is
more to be available for guidance, answer questions, and review papers before
they are submitted to college professors.
Every family, every child is different. That means that every homeschool is
different. You may be very structured or you may be a go with the flow kind of
teacher. You might be the kind of person who wonders what God was thinking when
he created 8AM or you might be one who loses steam by 3PM. The most important
thing to remember is that God gave these children to you, not to anyone else.
He did that because you were the one who was best equipped to help them become
the people He intends for them to be. I can’t tell you what your day should
look like only that you should find what works best for you right now, but be
willing to change it when it doesn’t fit later. Happy Homeschooling

Free Birth Control for All

I've been listening to the controversy over President Obama's health care plan that requires employers to provide free birth control for their employees. It seems that Catholics and some other religious groups are unhappy with this mandate. I fully support providing free birth control for employees. I think that all employers whether public or private, religious or secular ought to insist on free birth control for all employees, male or female. I think that free birth control ought to be given out in every school in our country. In fact, it is my feeling that not insisting on free birth control is one of the serious problems we face in America today.
Of course, my idea of free birth control and that of our President differ. I think that birth control should be free. I don't think the people should have to pay for it, nor should insurance companies, or our government. After all, how much does it cost to say "no"? Abstinence is the lowest cost, most effective birth control that we have ever come across and it is readily available to all. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, young or old, male of female. Abstinence works for all. In fact, there is only one reported case where abstinence has failed to keep an unwanted pregnancy from happening.
So, what is all the hoopla about? We already have free birth control, and it is truly free. Maybe instead of our government worrying about how to help Americans as they continue to wallow in their sinful lifestyles, it should focus on the job of government. If we had to live with the consequences of our sin, we might begin to think twice about some things. The results of our sinfulness are there to remind us of our desperate need of a Savior, and that Savior is certainly not the American government.

Monday, January 30, 2012

If I Could Do It Over Again

I was talking with a sweet lady that I have been homeschooling with for over 15 years the other day, and we discussed the advice that we would give to new homeschoolers. Our
number one? Take those early elementary years to do all the fun things that homeschooling is all about. Need some examples?
1. Make puppets and let your kids perform a skit or fairy tale at the family Thanksgiving dinner.
2. Head to the park once a week to learn or practice some new skills (skipping, throwing a football, jump rope, kicking a soccer ball, hitting a baseball)
3. Science experiments. Any and all. There are so many books around with good, easy science experiments. I like Jan VanCleave and Backyard Science
4. Write books. Let your child dictate the story to you, then let him illustrate it. Then, let him practice reading it to a little brother or grandparent.
5. Plant a vegetable garden. Even if you don't get much food, you will learn a lot and it will be worth the time and effort.
6. Try geocacheing or letterboxing.
7. Play Yahtzee to practice adding.
8. Learn to sew, knit, woodwork, or any other hands on craft
9. Cook together.
10.Make and use homemade play dough, paints, glitter and other art items.
11. Visit historical reenactments.
12. Take field trips to anyplace and everyplace that will let you in.
13. Visit nursing homes to share your homemade cards and pictures.
14. Read aloud every day. ( The Chronicles of Narnia, Children’s Pilgrim Progress, and the Kingdom series by Chuck Black are our favorites)

Now is the time to do all of these things. Let up a bit on the bookwork. You will be giving your children an invaluable gift that will last their whole life. They will realize that learning can be fun, and they can learn from everything they do. You will also get to know your kids. This is going to help you as you move into more structured teaching. You will know their gifts and how they learn best. Take the time now to do these things. You will be so glad you did. If I could go back and do it all again, this is what I would do.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Real Marriage is For Real

Mark and Grace Driscoll have graciously stepped into the ring and turned the spotlight on their own marriage in order to minister to the untold number of couples who are currently need in of some straight talk about real marriage. I have been married for thirty years and have read quite a few marriage books in that time. I have never read a book that has been as open and honest as this one. Mark and Grace don't have a perfect marriage, but it is better than it was, and they willingly discuss the biblical principles that have helped them.
I found this book to be great biblically based marriage advice. Others may feel it is a little "TMI"(too much information) concerning the sexual aspect of marriage. I would urge those who feel that way to remember that God created sex for marriage and our society does just about everything possible to ruin this beautiful gift. The only way that Christians can reclaim this beautiful gift is by understanding what the Bible teaches.
This is a good book for those considering marriage or for those who have been married for a while. I think that many marriages would take a turn for the better if couples would seriously consider the advice in this book.
I received this book for free as part of a book review program in exchange for giving my honest opinion.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Blessing of Children

I recently read an article about the unintended consequences of China's infamous "one child" policy. It seems that the first wave of these only children are now grown, married and starting their own families. Since the husband and wife are both only children, these families are eligible to have two children. The problem is that many of them are choosing to remain childless, and a majority of them are opting for only one child. The reason they give? Children consume time, money and energy that they would rather spend on themselves.

In contrast I was thinking of an American family that was in the news quite a bit recently. The Duggars lost their 20th child not too long ago. This is a family that understands the cost of children in time, money and energy, but sees that they are worth the sacrifice. From their point of view, giving yourself to others is a privilege.

I have to wonder about the fate of these two societies in years to come. Which will be the more empathetic, caring people? I wish I could say that it would be the Americans, but I am not totally convinced that most Americans see the opportunity to serve others as a blessing like the Duggar family. I hope it is us. I hope we continue to decide that children are worth it because we will miss out on tremendous blessings otherwise.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lefoland: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I took the kids to Legoland this last week. We had a field trip scheduled with our homeschool group. It was a beautiful day out, and we enjoyed spending time together. Legoland had its pros and cons.

Legoland bills itself as being geared to the 2-12 year olds. That seems to be pretty accurate. The had plenty of rides for kids that would be ideal for that age range. There were four roller coasters, but none went upside down, did crazy twists or were in the dark. There were plenty of other rides that would greatly appeal to those ages. There were also several shows in multiple venues offered throughout the day. These all looked to be aimed at entertaining the target audience; although, we were impressed with the atheletes who were water skiing while wearing the big Lego heads. Our favorite area was Miniland where several US cities are represented in miniature in Legos. Food in Legoland was abundant and varied. Yes, there are burgers and fries, but you can also opt for asian fusion, paninis, all-you-can-eat pizza, and more. Kids meals run about $5.50 and adult combos seemed to be in the $10 range. The pizza buffet ran a little higher.

The day we went the park was only open from 10-5. If we had paid the full price for our tickets ($75 for adults and $65 for kids), we would have felt cheated. With all of the shows and lines for rides the two day ticket may be an option for some ($90 for adults). Even though we went on a lot of the rides, there really wasn't much that appealed to my thrill junkies. We did take a walk through Cypress Gardens, but that disappointed. Almost nothing was in bloom, but being winter we expected there wouldn't be much. The creek was bright green with algae and there were two large areas where grass had been dug up in one open area. Signs gave the names of various plants but no other information, and there were no workers or guides around to answer questions.

The cost, target age, and two hour drive all combine to make this a one time trip for our family. If you have children that are 2-12 or are die hard Lego fans, you might want to plan a trip to the newest of the Florida theme parks. If I had younger children and lived closer, I would look in to the cost of an annual pass.