Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Holy Week

Matthew 27:50-53 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Luke 22:41-44  He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Jonathan Edwards:

This was the greatest act of obedience that Christ was to perform. He prays for strength and help, that his poor feeble human nature might be supported, that he might not fail in this great trial, that he might not sink and be swallowed up, and his strength so overcome that he should not hold out, and finish the appointed obedience.
He was afraid lest his poor feeble strength should be overcome, and that he should fail in so great a trial, that he should be swallowed up by that death that he was to die, and so should not be saved from death; and therefore he offered up strong crying and tears unto him that was able to strengthen him, and support, and save him from death, that the death he was to suffer might not overcome his love and obedience, but that he might overcome death, and so be saved from it. (“Christ’s Agony”)

John 11:25-26Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.


~ jobs
~ vehicles
~ my honey and how hard she works
~ Beth's joyousness
~ Mary's ambitious spirit
~ Paul's quietly persistent and loving nature
~ Peter's creative motivation and ambitiousness

Peter, age 12

~ my sister and how she plays hide-and-seek with me
~ my brother because he plays basketball with me
~ God rising from the tomb
~ eternal life
~ the love of my dog, Rudy
~ worms on the sidewalk after a rain

Paul, age 10

~ I'm able to get exercise in this better weather
~ Rudy is so cute
~ Jesus rose again
~ that I get to go to church
~ the fun of learning the Easter story again
~ my hot wheels cars (I treat them as a whole team)
~ the delicious chocolate cake I made

Mary, age 7

~ wonderful songs that come, like We Believe by the Newsboys, and Shake by Mercy Me (I like to memorize all the words, like the song that has this: It's a long and narrow road.)
~ I love God and he loves me
~ my loving mom who always comforts me during thunder storms
~ that Jesus died on the cross for us

Beth, age 5

~ being a princess
~ dessert
~ resurrection time
~ my dog
~ chocolate candy in my bucket


~ songs that teach, songs that bring tears, songs that bring us to His throne
~ riding in the van and hearing my children sing out their hearts to Jesus with joy and abandon (powerful, very powerful)
~ that Jesus was obedient unto death
~ two Compassion letters in one week
~ my husband taking half day off so I can make progress on the spring clothing switch
~ a book I'm reading: A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver Van DeMille

Publisher Synopsis: Is American education preparing the future leaders our nation needs, or merely struggling to teach basic literacy and job skills? Without leadership education, are we settling for an inadequate system that delivers educational, industrial, governmental and societal mediocrity?
In A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century, Oliver DeMille presents a new educational vision based on proven methods that really work! Teachers, students, parents, educators, legislators, leaders and everyone who cares about America's future must read this compelling book

~ a book I read a few days ago: The Shadow Spinner


~ that thanks to some persistence, my girls can readily explain crucifixion, Good Friday, Resurrection, and "it is finished"
~ the challenging process of discipling (it lends a strong sense of purpose to my days)
~ my loving husband
~ the comfort of scripture
~ wisdom from the Lord to help with daily struggles
~ prayers from friends; online friends

What are you thankful for this week?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Homeschool and Mother's Journal Apr. 11

Art Print Victorian Girl on Violin Howling Dog Jack Russell Terrier Kitten Cat

In my life this week:
Note: Though I tend to put a lot of links in these posts, none are affiliate. This is a personal, non-business blog.

My 12-year-old son Peter polished his flyers for his dog-walking business--$3 for a half-hour walk. Over the course of 3 non-rainy days he passed out all the flyers and each day, he's asked me if I've received any phone inquiries. He did the math and decided he would be wealthy enough to buy anything he wanted from garden nurseries to fuel his gardening hobby, if at least 10 people hired him to walk their dogs.

I cheered him on, silently wondering how husband or me could chaperone 10 different dog walks (something we would do until we trusted the dogs and their owners). Of course it seemed easier to say no, but neither of us had the heart to do that, nor did we think it was what God wanted.

I encouraged him to pray for God's blessing on his endeavor, and we asked the siblings and Daddy to pray with us. So far, no inquiries. I'm also praying that the Lord rewards my son's entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to work hard. No matter the outcome, I'm proud of him for casting a vision and following through. I told him that God would reward his work-ethic and follow-through.

I don't want our being low-income to define our children in any way, but I do feel fortunate that it requires them to use their head more since nothing comes easily.

Yesterday a Freecycle email came through about a tall plant shelf, presumably for keeping inside. I responded at my son's request, and the person who first expressed interest in it has not followed through and picked it up, so this morning we got an email asking if we're still interested. If it works out for us to pick it up before anyone else does (Freecycle is a first-come, first-served enterprise), I will know it's God's way of blessing my son's efforts.

Such shelves go for $45 or more in the stores, and we just can't buy my son all the gardening treasures his heart desires; one wouldn't think so, but gardening can be an expensive hobby if you want more than rows of vegetables.

It seems that in the homeschooled community there's a higher-than-average prevalence of entrepreneurship, and I have to wonder if it's because the kids are freer to develop into the person God created them to be, away from the peer pressures to be part of a cookie-cutter mold. Boys are pushed by the bullying types to be tough, non-serious about academics, and anything but geeky entrepreneurs. It's as though the bullies want all the boys to have average abilities/characteristics, because then the bullies won't feel threatened by classmates' talents or grades.

Girls are bullied too, of course, but when I taught first grade as a public school teacher, I didn't see this among the girls. Tough boys bullied more, at least at that age.

In our homeschool this week:

The boys, ages 10 and 12,  are learning so much about other cultures this year in Sonlight's Core F, and more about world poverty through some of the missionary books, including Teresa of Calcutta. It's so valuable for children to gain perspective regarding how 80% of the world lives (on less than $2.50 a day).

I'm so thankful that Sonlight put together this unusual Eastern Hemisphere package for homeschoolers. It would've been very time consuming for me to do such a thing myself, and would I have had a similar vision? I don't think so.

With each missionary book, 12-year-old Peter comes to me, sheepishly telling me he thinks God is calling him to be a missionary. Next, he exhibits stress and conflict because it doesn't go along with his deeply-felt desire to be a farmer. I have to wonder if it triggers some kind of OCD thoughts, because I finally have to say...let it go. The Lord is a God of order, not confusion, and he would never want us to stress about the future, which is in his mighty, gracious hands. I would love for Peter to be a missionary and/or a farmer, and I told him so. Maybe God will put together a way for him to help third-world farmers someday? That sounds like God, doesn't it?

Due to my son's condition, I have to choose my words carefully, always.

I gave the children their spring "Easter" buckets, full of candy, but no trinkets this year, because of the costs associated with our new dog. We give the buckets early to separate it from Easter Sunday and the spiritual meaning of Easter. Paul put together a graph of his candies, encouraged by me, since I knew he would enjoy doing it and the girls' math skills would benefit. I got him started by attaching candy wrappers to a large piece of paper, since the girls wouldn't know all the candy company names.

My children always conduct complicated trades whenever they're given candy. It's so amusing to watch, and 5-year-old Beth often gives much of her candy away for free. She likes plain chocolate and peanut buttery chocolate, thank you very much...not weird things likes Smarties.

All the children are spending more time outside, so no one is going ahead of schedule in their novels anymore. The pace has slowed on sunny days, which are few in Ohio.

My first grader is moving right along, doing writing, math, and reading every day, and some social studies and science weekly. The girls painted more this week, partially because of an inspiring library book I read. And with that...I'll share some trade books with you.

Trade Books to Share:

Painting the Wind, by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan

Painting the Wind

Overview: Children's Literature Review
From the author of Sarah, Plain and Tall comes a picture book that makes the reader want to pick up a paintbrush and start to paint all the things he sees around him. Through the eyes of a young island boy, we are introduced to the painters who invade his island for the summer. We see the painter of faces, landscapes, animals, and seascapes. As the little boy learns to take note of everything and everyone around him, he is finally able to do what he has been unable to do before, and that is to paint the wind. When he paints the bending trees as they lean against the strength of the wind, he captures the image that has eluded him. The illustrations here are beautifully done, as though the brush has just been laid down. This is a good story for a child who is quiet and introverted, to share with him an outlet for creativity. It will help the child who is noisy and rambunctious learn how to become an observer of life. 2003, Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins Publishers,
— Joyce Rice

After hearing me read this book, the girls were so excited about painting! They found it so inspiring and it even made me wish all the chores would go away, so I could just start painting.


Sweet Potato Pie by Kathleen D. Lindsey

Sweet Potato Pie

Overview: In the summer drought, the only thing that survives on seven-year-old Sadie's farm is the sweet potato crop. When the bank threatens to foreclose, Mama remembers the upcoming Harvest Celebration -- an ideal place to sell her sweet potato pies!At the Celebration, the kids do their part, shouting, "Pies for sale! Pies for sale! Sweet potato pies for sale!" When the General Store, the local restaurant, and the Sweet Shop place large orders, the family knows they’ve saved the farm. The book’s bold, colorful images and strong message of cooperation and family ties makes it a delight to read.
During a drought in the early 1900s, a large loving African American family finds a delicious way to earn the money they need to save their family farm.

This is a beautiful, inspiring book about the entrepreneurial spirit and family values. It features a simple sweet potato pie recipe at the end, which we will try tonight. I happen to have just the right number of sweet potatoes on hand.


A Gift for Mama by Linda Ravin Lodding ( New in 2014)

A Gift for Mama

Publishers Weekly Review 12/02/2013
The beauty and rich culture of historic Vienna course through this sweet, circular story from Lodding (The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister), in which a boy strives to procure the perfect birthday present for his mother. Armed with a single coin, Oskar quickly finds his purchase—a yellow rose—in the middle of the street market. But before he can bring the lovely gift home, an artist asks Oskar if he’ll trade the flower for a paintbrush (“I can paint a picture for Mama,” says an amenable Oskar, “the perfect present!”). So begins a folktale-flavored chain of exchanges that eventually leaves poor Oskar empty-handed. Luckily, one of his kind deeds is rewarded just in time, bringing the story full circle. Colorful storefronts, elegant carriages, and a stately opera house depicted in Jay’s (The Cloud Spinner) earthy palette and crackle varnish help evoke an earlier century. Her stylized forms—along with spirited background appearances by a cat, fox, and runaway dog—underscore the vibrancy of city life. An author’s note about Vienna’s role in inspiring the book is included. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: The Organisation. (Mar.)

This story is charming, exuding kindness and warmth, and the illustrations are captivating. It's a good idea to have a map available when you read these social studies-themed books to children. It helps children place each book within a cultural and geographic context, and if you have a blank map, you can mark each place you've visited through trade books, even pretending you're taking a plane flight, or a ship, to the designated area.

I always say, if you have a good library available, you don't need to purchase a social studies curriculum for lower-elementary students. Living books are better!


Easter Buds Are Springing: Poems for Easter selected by Lee Bennet Hopkins, illustrated by Tomie de Paola

Overview: Hopkins has gathered a happy collection of poems which celebrates both the religious and secular aspects of Easter. Themes range from the rebirth of the spirit to the fun of Easter rabbits and Easter eggs, to the joys of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, to the reappearance of flowers in the spring.


Easter by Gail Gibbons


School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2 --This clear, simply-written explanation of the religious aspect of Easter is suitable for young children. Jesus' life and death are treated briefly but with enough detail to provide an excellent basic introduction to the subject. The crucifixion is shown from afar to soften its cruelty, and afterward the risen Jesus happily astonishes his followers. Next the symbols of candles and spring flowers lead logically into a discussion of the other aspects of the holiday, including Easter egg decoration, hunts, and baskets; Eostre, the spring goddess who gave the day its name; and the special Easter foods and clothes. The crisp ink and watercolor pictures have a naive simplicity that gives the Bible story and Easter customs warmth and appeal. Gaily colored, each is in a green frame with its enclosure broken by a stylized flower, candle, chick, bunny, or heap of decorated eggs. A short explanation of the special holy days such as Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday is given at the end. An excellent presentation of the Biblical events, done truthfully and with consideration for young children. --Patricia Pearl, First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, Va.


I Gotta Draw by Bruce Degen (author of Jamberry)


Publishers Weekly
Charlie Muttnik is known in his Brooklyn neighborhood as "the pup with the pencil." He's always drawing pictures in his chaotic household, where he lives with his mother, father, and older sister. But when Charlie goes back to school, his strict new teacher, Miss Rich (a smartly dressed cat), doesn't approve of Charlie's doodling in class. Miss Rich has a change of attitude, however, when she realizes that Charlie learns best through his pictures. So during a spelling lesson, Charlie is allowed to draw in the back of the classroom, as long as he spells the words out loud, and for a lesson on the solar system, Charlie draws and labels the planets. Degen, illustrator of the Magic School Bus series, conveys Charlie's spirited nature through his floppy ears, tennis shoes, striped T-shirt, and exuberant concentration as he draws. Comics-style panels mimic Charlie's visual interpretation of the world around him, with his own art integrated into the scenes. Readers who don't conform to a one-size-fits-all style of learning should welcome the message about creativity, classroom flexibility, and breaking the mold. Ages 5-9.

Again, my girls were inspired by this story and promptly got out our drawing books!



Paul, age 10:

~ I am thankful that it was sunny a few days this week, even though it's been raining for over a day now.

~ I made an obstacle course outside that was fun for jumping for my sisters and me.

~ for my Easter bucket candy.

~ for playing basketball outside with my brother.

Peter, age 12

~ birds

~ trees

~ God

~ walking my dog and hugging him

~ for the book I'm reading about Saudi Arabia called Ali and the Golden Eagle by Wayne Grover

Mary, age 7

~ for God

~ for my Easter bucket candy

~ for library books and family movies from the library

~ playing sports with my brothers

~ playing with my sister

~ that our dog Rudy loves me and hugs me

Beth, age 5

~ for my Easter bucket candy

~ for my dog Rudy

~ for the library

~ for my dollies

~ for God and my family


~ I am thankful that hard days are just single days, and that every morning his mercies are new.

~ For the beautiful changes spring brings, slowly, so we're able to savor them.

~ For books read aloud, which always change the mood for the better here

~ For my husband's hard work and love

~ For a solid church family

~ For the hope of a thrift store trip tomorrow--something that relaxes me as I look for clothes for each member of the family for upcoming seasons. Hoping also to score some church shoes.

~ For Bible verses that speak directly to what I'm feeling

~ For my Life Application Bible, which helps me as I lead the children in morning devotions. We're in the book of Hebrews, which isn't always simple to explain.

Scripture to Share:

I experienced headaches and depression this week so I needed these verses, and maybe someone out there does too?

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear. I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:14)

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29)

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17)

Thank you for reading, friends. How was your week?

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?


Thursday, April 10, 2014

When Joy Won't Come

How are you, friends?

The oppressive, shivering winter has been dismissed by the grace of God, at last. There is much to celebrate; new sights, smells, delights. Sunshine, blue sky (not most days...this is still Ohio), and the promise of tulips soon.

I should feel exuberant, I've told myself, yet the last three days have been headache-infused; depression has been my unwelcome companion. Darkness attaches itself to me during on-going physical pain, or when my days are hormone-colored. Usually, these come as one package, creating an overall wretchedness (and a woman named Eve is my enemy).

For me, depression is hopelessness; a perception that the heaviness will never lighten; a sudden lack of energy and drive; an inability to look beyond the present or my own feelings.

Having to cut my mother out of my life has brought many depressing days, as I fight the guilt that inevitably plagues anyone who disowns a parent. I think I've made progress at times, but then someone will say something that brings the guilt and doubt rushing back into my psyche.

Alcoholism--any drug addiction--is the gift that just keeps on giving. Forgiveness isn't the hard thing. It's in trying to break every tie the dysfunction has to you; that is the difficult part. A dsyfunctional family past needn't define us, but neither can it be ignored as a negative force in our lives. Over and again, we have to lay it down before the Lord, asking for relief.

When I detect depression in my heart and mind, I am sure of one thing. Depression must be fought. It's a war--sometimes a spiritual war, sometimes a physical one.

In trying to find relief, I've come across some helpful Scriptures and interesting facts.

Moses, Elijah, David, and Job all dealt with some depression, as did Abraham Lincoln, who sometimes refused to carry a knife to protect himself from suicide. Glowing portraits of Abraham Lincoln usually leave out his profound melancholy. But, this formidable thorn in the flesh inspired him to greatness, as he leaned on the Lord for his strength.

Greatness is...what? What makes a person great?

I think we approach greatness when we've fought our battles with courage, whether the world is in on our story or not (there are many great unknown people with stories just as inspiring as Abe's).

When our choices have allowed God's glory to rest on us, we come to share in his glory. In human standards, that's greatness: we've forsaken our ego for God's, allowing his greatness to overshadow us. When we're willing to let it be about God, instead of about us, we become great.

Whatever our cross to bear is, we've not resorted to bitterness, but have leaned on the Counselor and surrendered our pain to God for his use. 

Some of us have monumental battles and others have smaller ones that feel no less enormous. With the Lord as our shield and our strength, we cannot be defeated. He who stands before us in glory, has already won the battle.

We fight with Scripture; it's a good time for a topical study, or many days in the Psalms. Delve in, read the verses aloud, pray them over your heart. Pray them with conviction and force, as though they're arrows destined for the enemy's Achilles heal. You may need medicine too in some cases, but that cannot replace the Scripture arsenal.

I have a few verses posted below, but this fine lady has posted many more, along with her story of panic disorder, depression, anxiety.

Psalm 43:5 – Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.

Psalm 34:18, 19 – The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (19) A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Psalm 55:22 – Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall

Psalm 62:5 – Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 126:5 – Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy

Are you sometimes gripped by depression? What has worked for you in fighting the battle for joy?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Word of Peace

The Lord is Peace. May we all lay our burdens down and feel his sufficiency today.

Psalms 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Psalms 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Transformation of Kindergarten

I found this article on Simple Homeschool's Weekend Links:

I agree with everything in this article. I left the regular public school classroom in June, 2001. Two or three years prior to this the state of California (where I taught first grade) changed the kindergarten standards. All students had to be reading before they left kindergarten, including sight words, and be capable of simple spellings. The addition and subtraction facts had to be memorized up to 5 (or was it 8?). 

Teachers had to assess students individually 3 times a year, which became very time consuming. All of us in K and 1st grade assessed individually for 9 total weeks a year (3X and it took about 3 weeks to complete everything). During the assessment periods we didn't have time to teach or practice many new concepts, so it felt like we were losing 9 weeks of instruction. No Child Left Behind was the culprit then, and now, Common Core is making the same mistakes, only worse, and with indoctrination.

Several of the countries performing better than us start students on academics later (7 or 8) and they test only every 3 or 4 years. They found no benefit in assessing more often than that.

It all makes me want to scream. And it definitely makes me very, very thankful for homeschooling.



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