Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dear Christine (from Divya)

Dearest Auntie Christine,

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I've received your letters. Very glad to read your letters and it was so peaceful as you sent the word of God in all the letters. It was so blessings to me and to our family. 

Thank you for sending me all your pictures and also for your love and prayers. Here the weather is cool and raining. I like rainy season. Sometimes I like to play in the rain. 

I felt happy to hear about your children's school holiday and also to hear about homeschooling. Homeschool is a nice system. Here we have to go to school everyday and we will be tired sometimes. In India we do not have homeschooling.

Happy summer holidays to all your children. I love the bird picture along with the family picture and was inspired by all the drawing colours.

To Peter: I love you too. You are my inspiration for my gardening.

To Beth: I love you too. Thank you for the lovely pictures.

To Paul: You too are so sweet, cute, I love you too. Thank you for the cute picture. God will bless you to be a teacher as per your dream and your heart's desire.

To Mary: I love your name. Your name is so cute. Uncle your father is happy and also lucky as you and Peter help in the garden. 

So happy to hear about all your vegetables growing. I'll start growing vegetables in the pots. Here near our school and our home there are colorful butterflies. 

I hope all your children will enjoy their vacation and in VBS this year.

Beth: Once again thank you for all your colourful drawings of rainbow and I enjoyed the cute small house. It is so beautiful.

Ending this letter with much thanks and love for all the Bible verses for the Word of God, as this Word of God are so blessings to my life and also for the family. Please send me more of the Bible verses. Waiting for your next letter.

Your Loving,

Would you like your own Compassion child to love and exchange letters with? The love it will bring to your heart, the sunshine it will bring to your life, are indescribable. God makes sure these relationships are very special. You and Compassion work together to rescue children and families from the hopelessness of poverty, by giving them Life Abundant in Jesus Christ. Please, give your family the best Christmas present ever this year: The gift of a child to love.

Click here to begin. It's only $38 per month.

May I send gifts to my child? (answer from
Yes. Compassion encourages sponsors to give additional monetary gifts to their sponsored children for special occasions, to address specific needs, or simply as an act of love. These gifts are another effective way for you to reinforce your care and commitment to your child.
One hundred percent of all individual child gift amounts go to that child. Local child development center workers purchase gifts on behalf of our sponsors and make certain that these funds are used appropriately. As a guideline, we ask that sponsors keep these contributions between $10 and $100 for each child and limit their gift giving to twice a year.
You may also send a gift to your sponsored child's family. With your monetary gift of $25 to $1,000 (with a $1,000 maximum per year), the child development center staff will buy items your child's family needs, such as new beds, livestock and food supplies. We will work closely with the family to determine the greatest need and then purchase items accordingly. One hundred percent of all family gift amounts go to that child's family.

Read more here at the child sponsorship fact page.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fruitful Fridays: Part 3, Acts of the Flesh

We continue our series on the Fruits of the Spirit today. Read part 1 here. Part 2 here. Our main text for Fruitful Fridays will be Galatians 5:13-26. Today we will get to a small section only, 5:19-21. And God willing, this Friday we will study love, the first characteristic in Paul's list of spiritual fruit. 

I've learned to say God-willing, because sometimes the Spirit leads me to focus only on my family, and sometimes on neighborhood needs, and sometimes on writing. Maybe that has something to do with why my Monday post showed up on a Saturday, and my Friday post showed up on Monday?

Galatians 5:19-21
 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Galatian churches, as we learned, were a mess. Warring factions (primarily the Law teachers) were trying to convince believers to follow the Law. As church members attempted to follow the Law, they ended up participating in sinful acts of the flesh. Primarily but not exclusively, Paul's concern related to their spiritual sins:  hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. 

It wouldn't do for Paul to impress upon the Galatian churches the need to live by the Spirit, and then proceed to give them a list of sinful acts based on the Law. So he gives us a general list of sinful acts recognized as immoral by all people, including the pagan philosophers of the day.

The first set of sinful acts refer to sexual sins, including immoral sexual relations (sexual immorality) and sexual perversions (impurity, debauchery). In this time period the Roman Empire reveled in sexual perversion and immorality. If one could argue that the fall of the empire partially related to their allowing immorality to progress as it did, what does that say about our society? Sadly, our own culture resembles this period. 

Some in the Galatian churches were participating in these sexual sins, but that wasn't Paul's primary concern in this letter. He listed it first because it's the first sin people think of when acts of the flesh are discussed.

The second set of acts include 20 idolatry and witchcraft;. Idolatry includes worshiping the image of other Gods, participating in pagan temple feasts (1 Corinthians 10: 7, 14), and hungering for possessions. Witchcraft (related to the English word pharmacy) referred to making potions used in sorcery and witchcraft, to poison people.

When we analyze the hunger for possessions, we have to consider that this drive is not only about wanting abundant comforts. It's about looking to the world to define us, instead of to God. The world tells us we are what we drive, where we live, what perks we can afford. How many of us want to drive around in a run-down, 25-year-old car without a paint job? What does it say about us if we do? If you listen to the world, it says we're a failure. If you listen to the Word, it says that the last shall be first and that God is especially close to the poor. 

Right Christian living is an upside-down phenomena. Rarely do the world and the Word agree on anything, and perhaps that's never been truer than today, where evil is disguised as good, and good as evil. If you're moral, you are intolerant and that is "bad". If almost anything is acceptable to you, you're tolerant and that is "good".

We must ask ourselves as we seek both comforts and needs: Am I choosing this car because it's safe, economical, practical, thereby making me a good steward of what God has given? Or am I choosing it because it has status written all over it, despite it being insanely impractical? 

Am I choosing these shoes, boots, coat, jeans, fake nails, because of practicality--will hide spots, will last a long time, will fit my unusual feet, will match many things, will allow me to move comfortably, etc.--or because they'll look hot with my curves or with that one outfit? As women especially, we can think of hair and clothes and accessories as defining us, instead of relying on God and his Word to define us. The world wants us skinny and wearing designer clothes and shoes, complete with designer nails and toes and hair. God wants our beauty to come from within, from a gentle and quiet spirit. On the outside he merely wants us to be clean and healthy and pleasing to our husbands.

I'm torn between hiding my white hairs--at least for the sake of my children, who are young enough to be my grandchildren--and growing old gracefully. I'm still looking at the directions on those store-bought color kits to decide if I can possibly manage to do it without completely embarrassing myself.

And I must confess, I hate driving around in my husband's car, which is as run down as cars come. The van, which is my usual vehicle, is old and very unimpressive with its missing door handles and hubcaps, but it's a step up from my husband's car. Being in my husband's car, I'm reminded of my vanity. I'm also thankful that a few minutes into my drive, the Holy Spirit always speaks to me, telling me that I'm precious to him, no matter my vehicle. 

The next set of sinful acts has to do with relating to others. hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; These are spiritual sins, not immediately evident because they're inward at first, beginning in the heart. 

What drives all of them? Loving the self. Obsession with self. Wanting to be the first, the perceived best, the brightest. Wanting power and position and the admiration of man.

The law is fulfilled by the Spirit within us, and the Spirit drives us to love one another. We can't love if we're driven by a perverted self-focus. We can't love the poor well if we're unwilling to part with possessions and perks. We can't love our husband well if we're too focused on our needs and feelings. We can't love our children well if we're unwilling to up time and personal pursuit. We can't love our women friends well if we're too busy envying them.

The Spirit will speak to us about each of these things and if we listen, we will love well.

Paul says: I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

This sounds as though he's saying we're saved by our works, not by grace, but everything else Paul wrote counters this erroneous view. He defends justification by faith in Christ, not by works of the law (Galatians 2:16). He taught that the evidence of true faith in Christ will be the work of the indwelling Spirit. 

If you have the Spirit, if you are truly born again, you will be convicted of all sin, though not in one full swoop. He strategically works with us, starting where we're at. Where we're the weakest. It may not be a good idea to tell a brand-new Christian to throw away all her skirts that fall above the knee, for example. God may have other things he cares more about in that person's heart at present. You may heap a burden on her she simply doesn't understand. Pray first.

As the Holy Spirit leads you away from sin and self-focus, Satan will pull you toward sin, toward yourself, at the same time. We don't choose God in the sense that we're incapable before our spiritual renewal, of choosing righteousness. God awakens our spirit, gives it life, and then our choice comes into play. We can choose to walk with the Spirit, to fight the daily battle with Satan, or we can choose to give up and continue in our sin. 

We can choose to read our Bibles, pray, worship God, or we can choose to open our Bible only on Sunday and be a "pretend" Christian. We can choose to bow in prayer only when we're desperate. Our walk with Christ begins not when we say a salvation prayer, but when we first hear the Spirit and begin walking with Him. He won't make you godly in a day, but on the first day, you can bet you'll start hearing Him. 

His voice alone, without Bible reading and study, without prayer, without fellowship with other believers, without worship, will yield a slow renewal of your heart. The word "walk" implies action on our part. The Christian walk with the Spirit requires some effort.

If you don't feel a strong pull from the Spirit, ask God to come into your heart and change you. Ask him to forgive you. His pull on your heart, the change in your life, is your evidence of salvation. If there is no evidence, start your true walk with God today and exchange your slavery to sin, for a slavery to love. Exchange turmoil and strife, with a holy peace and joy. Exchange a self-focus with an others-focus.

Friends, we'll leave it there today, but God willing, we'll come together again and study love this Friday.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Receiving Compliments Graciously...and More

How are you at receiving compliments about your home, your children, your hair? About anything, really? Do you find compliments embarrassing? I don't receive a lot of them, but they never fail to render me crimson and flustered.

I went to an event recently that completely changed my perspective on how we might receive compliments in a more God-honoring way.

Someone I know hosted an event in her home. I gave her a couple compliments and heard others giving them as well.

"What a beautiful staircase! I love the architectural detail."

"Oh, but it squeaks terribly."

"What a beautiful bay window!"

"Oh, but it's cold and drafty there."

"I love your house."

"Oh, thank you, but I'm still waiting on wallpaper and other updates."

Maybe we say such things to diminish ourselves in others' eyes? We don't like looking favored? We find the attention hard to handle?

I realized how inappropriate this is for us Christians. Who gave us our home? Who gave us the encouraging parents, education, talents, stability, determination, discipline, and worldly success, to be able to purchase it? Who gave us our hair, our children, our legs? From whom do all good things flow? And who redeems brokenness for his glory and for our benefit?

All that we have? It's a gift from our Father. Even brokenness can be gift.

God doesn't make mistakes. Your house needs paint? That doesn't diminish it as a gift to you. When we say such things, we're complaining and displaying ingratitude.

Instead, let's be thankful and give God the glory. 

"Thank you. The detail in that staircase is a gift from God. I give thanks for the talent that created it."

"Thank you. If there's anything good about my legs (my children, my hair), may God get the glory."

"Thank you. That bay window does bless me. I thank God for it, especially during my quiet time."

If you really do see everything as a gift from God, receiving compliments this way is genuine, not phony. And it accomplishes what you wanted in the first place. To take the attention off of you.

Not only can we give God the glory, but we can use our gifts for His glory, too. Think of it as thanks-living. Don't just say thanks....actually live your thankfulness.

Have a big house, or even a small one with lots of sitting space? Host Bible Studies and missionaries and church potlucks. Have your neighbors over for fellowship so you can learn their stories and needs and pray for them and love them accordingly.

Have a large vehicle? Ask your church who needs rides on Sunday morning.

Have a large library? Loan out books to neighborhood children, or have them over for a weekly story time.

Have a cabin in the woods? Use it for spiritual retreats and for gifts away for married couples.

If you have a skill or a talent, can you put a line or two in your church bulletin, offering 5 hours of dental work for free, or carpentry work, or plumbing work, or painting work, or for fixing computers? If you only have your bodily health to offer, can you do yard work for the elderly, with the help of your family?

With whatever we are given, we have a choice. Use it for Him or keep it for ourselves. Hold it up as an offering to Him, or let it feed our greed and self-centeredness.

What God meant for good, we sometimes use for evil. What we meant for evil, God uses for good. He's brilliant and powerful that way. 

With everything we have--mind, body, spirit, possessions--Let us resolve to work with Him and for Him, not against Him.

Matthew 12:30
“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”

Matthew 6:24 
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

John 12:26
“If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

Psalm 119:133
“Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.”

Psalm 25:4
“Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation …”

Giving thanks today:

~ A beautiful piano donated to my Paul, which we plan to offer up and use for His glory.

~ Three beautiful Compassion children to love and nurture with our words and our resources.

~ A playroom for hosting children.

~ A dining room for hosting dinners.

~ A living room for reading and quiet reflection.

~ Everyone has a bed here with ample warmth.

~ We have warm clothes for the coming winter.

~ Our two vehicles run. More children want to come to AWANA with us but they are all too young for the front seat. I've begun to pray for a full-sized van, after seeing sorrow and jealousy in a child's eyes because we had no room in the van for him. Suddenly, this week, I've learned to pray Big. If it is for his glory, it is usually his will. 

I am praying for funds to send as family gifts to our Compassion children for Christmas. The deadline is October 31st, if we want the money to arrive in time. Please pray with me, for our Compassion children and for yours? Family gifts do much to change their circumstances. Sometimes a gift of $300 can mean a whole new life. A life of daily meals and clean water and the means to support themselves. Or a roof that doesn't leak, which is what happened for our Raphael earlier this year.

If you don't have your own Compassion children to love yet, click here and sponsor a child for $38 a month?

~  That with God, all things are possible.   

Prayer time: Dear Father, thank you for all you've given, both on the cross and in our daily lives. May we never be stingy with our gifts and possessions. Help us to let them go, offering them up for your glory and your Kingdom work. Work in us the gift of hospitality, no matter our ability to keep a perfect house. Instill in us graciousness and a spirit of thanks-living. Help us all to develop the discipline of writing a gratitude list, to keep our hearts and heads thankful and focused on You and your power and faithfulness.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Walk With Him Wednesday: Joy, Part 3

I'm participating again this week in Ann Voskamp's Walk With Him Wednesday

For today: The Practice of Joy…. What does it mean to choose Crazy Joy? How do we authentically walk through hard times? How do practice the “gigantic secret” of Christians?  We look forward to your Scripture study, stories, encouragement….

Catch up on my Joy study here?  week one , week two

On this, our third week of studying joy, I want to start with a review. 

First, we learned how to access joy. It's in the Lord's presence that we find joy. Out of deep and abiding love for our Savior, we pursue God with a hunger and thirst, through reading and studying the Bible, through the discipline of prayer, and through praise and worship (songs, psalms, words of admiration). 

Next, we learned that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, meaning that we cannot will it unto ourselves. God bestows it through the indwelling of the Spirit.

At the same time, joy is a command. Even though we can't will it, we still must chase it. God doesn't want us succumbing to fretting and despairing when hardship comes. So he makes joy a duty.

Lastly, we learned that when our joy is absent, it is because of sin. Sin is a roadblock to joy. We have taken our eyes off the Father, and put them on ourselves. And what follows is an absence of joy. 

To return to joy we must ask the Father for truth and light (see notes on Psalm 43), so that we may see things as they really are. So that we may see them from His eyes, and not our own. If we then repent of our self-centeredness and run back to our Father, he will receive us and in His presence once again, joy will be restored

Today, before we explore some some final thoughts on joy, I want to mention that under certain circumstances, the road back to joy is particularly hard. I think of grief, primarily. Grief is a process and the steps can't be shortened. We grieve over the death of loved ones, over broken relationships, over children who have become prodigals. 

In the midst of grief, we find comfort in the presence of God. In the fullness of time, God's perfect comfort brings us back to joy. Always, we trust Him. We hope in Him. Hope and joy are closely tied. We experience joy that as Christians, we have hope. Our hope is in Him, through Him. Hope brings a peace regarding our circumstances, whatever they may be. And that peace, that stillness of spirit, paves the way for joy.

Today, I want us to think of joy as a continuum. A new Christian has a rather immature grasp on joy--it may come and go more readily than the joy of a seasoned Christ follower. Remember Paul's joy while in prison? His view of life is summed up here: For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain Philippians 1:21 Paul considered it a joy to be persecuted for righteousness (for Christ's) sake.

Paul's joy is an all-encompassing, self-denying joy. It is the highest form of joy. To completely give up one's right to life for the sake of Christ...and love every minute of it. That is pure joy.

Our text for today is the Beatitudes because in them, I find a continuum of self-denial that ends with being persecuted for righteousness' sake. As we slowly grow in Christ and give up more and more of our life, we inherit more and more joy. 

Matthew 5:1-10

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
The Beatitudes

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

To be poor in spirit means to realize you're bankrupt without God. You've come to the end of yourself, understanding that there's no good in you. 

The 1st step on the ladder to pure joy, is to know you need God.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

A person who is poor in spirit, is also mournful. A mournful person is acquainted with his own sin, and the sin grieves him, as it grieves God. Mourning over our sin paves the way to repentance, and in our repentance, we turn to God. He is gracious to forgive us and comfort us, taking us into the fold of his arms.

The 2nd step on the ladder to pure joy, is to receive forgiveness.

5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

A person who is poor in spirit, and who through his mourning, repented and received forgiveness, is also submissive before God. Meekness is not weakness, but humility. It is knowing our place before God. That without Him, we are nothing. We are low to his High. Humble people will inherit the earth--that is to say, they will live well on this earth. It will be for them here, as well as it can be, outside of heaven. 

The 3rd step on the ladder to pure joy, is to be humble. 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Once a person walks humbly and submits to God in his everyday life, the next thing he desires is to be continually filled by God. Hunger and thirst happen every few hours. This person chases after God, never getting enough and always wanting more. God promises to fill this person to overflowing.

The 4th step on the ladder to pure joy, is to chase after God.

7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

A person who chases after God and is filled by God, behaves like God. Since God loves mercy, all those who dare to be filled by God, will also love mercy and be merciful. And in turn, God will show this person an everyday mercy, and an eternal mercy--the promise of heaven rather than hell.

The 5th step on the ladder to pure joy, is to behave like God toward others.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

A person who chases after God, and is filled by God, and shows mercy toward others, is a person who seeks not his own gain, has not his own motives, but cares only about God's gain. This is not a Pharisee we are talking about now. He is genuine in his affection for God and for the things of God. The pure in heart want what God wants, in everything. They are not perfect, but they seek the things of God and walk away from the world. These people will experience God (really see Him), now and throughout eternity.

The 6th step on the ladder to pure joy, is to be genuine in your devotion to God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

A person purely devoted to Christ walks with God's peace in his own life. And what's more, this person entreats others toward peace by example. He seeks to change hearts from the inside out by directing them to Christ, to Peace the Person. The peacemaker works for Christ to bring home the harvest, by being recognized as a child of God. 

The 7th step on the ladder to pure joy, is to walk in the Peace of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What happens when you walk in God's peace and you're recognized as a genuine child of God? The world persecutes you, treats you cruelly, and you count it all joy. You're at the top of the ladder.

You loved Christ, clung to Him, yielded everything to Him. You even look like Him, to everyone in the room. And when they throw stones at you and beat you, you rejoice that you get to do this for God. God, your exceeding joy. 

And God? What does he do for you now? He bestows on you an unsurpassed joy, a bursting-from-the-seams joy. To live is Christ, to die is gain. 

Don't we all want unsurpassed joy? Friends, it is available for all true disciples. 

Remember when Peter was asked three times if he loved the Lord? 

John 21:15-19 scripture source

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 
18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
If we love the Lord, even unto death, we are truly his disciple. And joy? Exceeding joy? It is our reward.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Using Songs and Poems With Preschoolers and K Students

Millers School built in 1835, Washington County, PA This photo was taken in 1974
One room school house, Washington County, PA, 1865

Occasionally I will put together a Tuesday Teaching Tips post. Today I want to discuss using poems and songs with preschoolers and kindergartners. 

Children ages 2 through 6 don't have long attention spans, but when you teach from their passions, like music and movement, you instill a love of learning and make the most of your teaching time. I've never met a young child who didn't love to sing and do finger rhymes; they're all giggles and smiles and they never want these experiences to end.


When teaching a new song or rhyme, there's a desired sequence to follow: think oral first, then written, then hands-on.

Find a seasonal song or rhyme that is simple and repetitive. I found this poem in The Mailbox, a popular teaching magazine. You can sign up to receive their resources for free.

Use material from your own poetry books, or from songs and rhymes you learned as a child. If your memory doesn't help, do an Internet search for preschool and kindergarten songs and rhymes. I've been able to find song lyrics online by just typing in the words I do remember.

We've enjoyed leaves raining down everywhere in beautiful storms these past two weeks, so instead of bats, I rewrote this poem for red, orange, brown and yellow leaves. 

First, sing the song or recite the poem many times with your children, preferably over a couple days, until they have it well memorized.

Next, write it on chart paper or on a large piece of construction paper. I have a hanging chart and a pocket chart I use with my four students, but these aren't necessary. 

Obtain a fun pointer, like a wand or a sword. Point and read or sing through the poem together many times over a couple days. Have your child take over with the pointer as well, pretending to be the teacher.

Children these ages need to learn how speech turns into print. Talk about directionality--that we write from left to right, top to bottom. Talk about capitals and periods, question marks, exclamation marks, and spacing between words. Pack in as much as you can over several lessons. 

For example, older children can benefit from a quick mini-lesson about the word leaf. What other words have this same vowel digraph? Which letter makes the sound and is it a long or a short vowel sound?

You don't go through all this prep work for just one or two days. Use this lesson to squeeze out a little more learning every day, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes a day, depending on attention spans. 

Even if your child can write simple, phonetically-spelled sentences with proper spacing, you are still teaching relevant, multiple concepts with these lessons. Multi-level teaching is a homeschooling parent's dream. We manage one-room school houses, right?  So it's in our best interest to incorporate everyone's needs, instead of teaching fifteen different lessons a day. 

Once the poem or song is memorized, and you've worked with the whole text on chart paper, you are ready to break down the poem into individual words.

Write the words on index cards and put a small part of the poem in your pocket chart (or the whole thing for older children). Use your table or floor if you'd like. After going through it together again with your pointer, take the cards and scramble them, putting them back in the pockets, out of order.

Recite it from memory with your child, and have her look for the next word and rebuild it in the pocket chart. Remind your student that capitals go at the beginning, and that periods, exclamation points, or question marks go at the end. Remind her also that we need spaces between the words.

Have your older children help make props for the songs or rhymes, like pumpkins or leaves. 

When it's time to move on to a new song or rhyme, put the index cards in a labeled baggie so your child can use them for fun in his spare time, either on the floor or on your table. When Daddy gets home from work, have your child rebuild the poem or song for him.

Here are some other Fall songs and rhymes, which I found here:

Five little jack-o’lanterns glowing by the door
Father took one and that left four.

Four little jack-o’lanterns, a sight to see
Mother took one and that left three.

Three little jack-o’lanterns lit through and through
Brother took one and that left two.

Two little jack-o’lanterns greeting everyone,
Sister took one and that left one.One little jack-o’lantern, with a great big grin
I picked him up and took him in.

Jean Warren

Tune: "Bingo"

Was a farmer had a tree.
With apples big and red.
A-P-P-L-E, A-P-P-L-E, A-P-P-L-E
With apples on his tree!

Jean Warren


Two red apple, high in the tree.
One for you and one for me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could.
Down fell the apples, mmmm they were good.
Adapted Traditional

Tune: “London Bridges Falling Down”

All the leaves are falling down, falling down, falling down. (Imitate leaves falling down)
All the leaves are falling down, it is Fall.

Take the rake and rake them up, rake them up, rake them up. (Imitate raking up leaves)
Take the rake and rake them up, it is Fall.

Make a pile and jump right in, jump right in, jump right in. (Children jump forward)
Make a pile and jump right in, it is Fall.
Sent in by Diane Chancey

Tune:  “Mulberry Bush”
This is the way we grind our corn,  
Grind our corn, grind our corn.
This is the way we grind our corn,
For Thanksgiving Day.

This is the way we hunt for food,
Hunt for food, hunt for food.
This is the way we hunt for food,
For Thanksgiving Day.

This is the way we catch some fish,
Catch some fish, catch some fish.
This is the way we catch some fish,
For Thanksgiving Day.

This is the way we kneed our bread
Kneed our bread, kneed our bread.
This is the way we kneed our bread,
For Thanksgiving Day.

(Children sit and pretend to grind corn.)

(Children walk around looking for berries or hunting for deer.)

(Children show how they like to fish)

(Children pretend to kneed bread.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Multitude Monday: What I Want for Christmas

My local Walmart already has two complete aisles of Christmas ornaments stocked. Before Halloween even.

And this leads me to a terrible, taboo confession. 

I hate Christmas.

No, I haven't always felt this way. I used to love Christmas. I found it the most exciting time of year, even when I lived in sunny San Diego. My mom and step-dad, non-Christians, always made a big deal about this holiday in a secular sense. I grew up loving the presents and the festivities and the token church visit, though they gave up on that once-a-year church service well before my teens. 

When I learned to drive, I went to Christmas service by myself or with a friend's family.

My parents probably used credit cards for most of Christmas and struggled to pay it back before the next Christmas arrived. 

I'm over 10 years into my parenting experience and at first I mimicked my upbringing regarding Christmas, at least until I quit my part-time job.

After that, Christmas became more challenging. The first year I think we used a credit card for very modest gifts, both for our two boys and for our families. That year, Christmas felt like nothing but an obligation. It didn't seem acceptable to stop getting gifts for my family because Christmas was a big deal to them. And I knew they would send us gifts. 

So we went through the motions, but there was no joy in it. Just worry.

After I quit working we happened to move to a state experiencing economic downturn several years earlier than most of the nation. Wages are low here still, seven years later, and jobs are plentiful only in large cities. 

In 2009 things got worse for us when my husband lost his full-time job. Christmas became something we could no longer participate in. Just holiday food overwhelmed our budget. 

One year a church adopted us and bought our children gifts. We were very grateful because the thought of having nothing for them to open on Christmas morning made us sick to our stomachs. 

They did also receive gifts from my mom and step-dad, but they always opened those early, upon arrival.

For two years a generous friend sent a surprise monetary gift, so my children had several things to share on Christmas morning. 

Because of others' generosity, my children still don't know what a barren Christmas feels like.

Every year all we could thing of was....will they have anything to open on Christmas morning? At the same time, I knew they had enough toys. They didn't need anything. They had a mom and dad who loved each other, who were committed to one another for life, they had Jesus and a Christian upbringing, a decent home and enough to do. They were far more blessed than most of the kids in the world. 

80% of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day. So what did my kids have to worry about?

The things under the tree? They broke easily or they were quickly forgotten. Not four weeks after Christmas, it became clear that everything but the books we bought from Goodwill and the craft paint, was money down the drain. 

All so our kids wouldn't cry quiet tears on Christmas morning. That was our biggest fear.

I began to contemplate the whole thing heavily last Christmas. We had money to make baked good for our relatives, but we didn't have money for postage for out-of-state family, which was most of our family, save for two aunts who reside here. 

So we gave next to nothing and our kids got gifts I bought with money sent by Grandma. Not because they needed them, but because I felt she would get upset if I didn't spend at least $100 on the kids. The rest of her Christmas money went to overdue utility bills.

Last year was the first year I was brave enough to admit it. I hate Christmas and everything our culture does with it. We live so much richer than the rest of the world, and our only thought at Christmas is to buy new things for people who already have too much. And fifty percent of the time, it's out of obligation.

Let me digress a little here.

Once we were the recipients of a Thanksgiving basket. Do you know what it contained, besides a turkey (for which we were very grateful)? Outdated canned and boxed food, donated by the church body.

I was very grateful for that turkey, but I thought long and hard about those outdated cans and boxes. 

Have you ever gone through your cupboard for food-pantry drives? Is your first instinct to give what you don't use? Or to give the best things in your cupboard?

I will never forget those outdated offerings, and now, when my church does food drives, I always give the best, most-needed things from my cupboard, knowing God will replace them. First fruits. 

My husband works at a church that sponsors a large rummage sale every year. For a whole month prior to the sale, merchandise comes in, for which he's responsible for receiving and storing. 80% of what comes in is junk people just want to dump.

However, about 20% of the items are good used items, and every year the church makes several thousand dollars for local charities. Thank God for the 20% who understand the first fruits concept!

One more digression about giving, and then I'll get back to Christmas.

One year ago, we sponsored Nelson from El Salvador for $38 a month, on faith. You could say it wasn't wise, given our situation. We write to two other children who are sponsored by someone else and we love them dearly, but we really wanted another child to love and write to, sponsored by our family.

In honor of our one-year sponsorship anniversary, and to demonstrate God's faithfulness, let me tell you how we were blessed this past year, as we gave $38 to Nelson each month.

  • My husband and my boys were given free basketball and free football tickets, five times. 

  • My aunt and uncle, who inherited some money, gave us a Christmas gift of $1000 worth of repairs on our two old vehicles. 

  • When our vacuum cleaner broke, an acquaintance gave us her spare. 

  • Several times this year there were banquets at my husband's work church and he was given the left-over food for our family.

  • This same church is having its used piano delivered to our home this Wednesday for our son, Paul, who is self-teaching on the piano and doing very well. His cheap lap piano broke for good two days before the church called. He cried when it broke and I was heartbroken, knowing there was no way to replace it. Now, he will have a real piano! 
  • The children's hospital Beth goes to for arthritis care sent our family to the zoo and to a Thomas the Train exhibit.

And these are only the blessings I can think of off the top of my head! I'm sure there are more. Giving no longer feels like a brave thing to do. It feels like the perfect thing to do.

Now, back to those Christmas ornaments I passed at Walmart last week.

When I saw them, my heart sank. Christmas is for the rich and the middle class, I told myself, and I'm neither of those.

As I drove home, I prayed. I don't want to hate Christmas, God. Show me another way to get through this season. Show me how it can be a joyous occasion. Show me how it can honor You, despite what our culture's done with it.

I want my life to be fashioned after Biblical precepts, not after the world. So the next day, I prayed about Christmas again. I live in a Christmas culture and it's not going away. I can't hibernate for the season.

What does the Bible say about it? The first and only Christmas in the Bible. That was my next thought. 

Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Wise Men, the shepherds, the animals, the manger...I thought about all of it. 

Jesus received three gifts. Is that what I should do...give Jesus three gifts? Is it that simple? 

The Sheep and the Goats (source)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Soon, I had a clear picture of what I wanted to do for Christmas. I honestly believe the Holy Spirit put these thoughts in my head. 

I want to give a generous family gift to our Compassion sponsor child, Nelson, and also to our correspondent children, Divya and Raphael. I also want to give every child in my neighborhood The Jesus Storybook Bible. And I want to invite them to bring it with them once a week, for an after-school Bible Study at my house, complete with snack time and prayer.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name   -     
        By: Sally Lloyd-Jones

I don't have a penny to do any of this. But God does and this is what he wants for Christmas. My job is to pray for the funds to come in. For the first time in years, I am excited about Christmas! 

Only God knows what to do about my own children. They don't need anything but underwear and socks, but if He wants them to have something to unwrap on Christmas morning, I trust him to provide it. And if not, I trust Him to give them joy of an eternal kind.

The kind of joy that doesn't break or get stuck in the vacuum.

I urge you, pray about Christmas. What would God have you do to make it honor Him, instead of capitalism. Ask him what He wants this year, and give of your best. Your very best for Jesus. Money is not an object...because God? He owns the earth and everything in it.

For some giving inspiration, I'd though you'd enjoy a couple more stories:

The following are true stories in a series of radio spots by Brian Kluth of

When I was in my 20s, I moved to another city to take a new job. After I was told my salary, I sat down and wrote up a budget. First, I decided I would give 10% of my gross income to the LORD. I then discovered I could only afford $100 a month for rent and $55 a month for groceries. That wasn’t much money, but I prayed and asked God to lead me. That same day, someone invited me to their house for dinner. It was a large home where 6 single Christian guys lived. After dinner, they invited me to move in with them. I told them I couldn’t afford it. They then told me the rent was $100 a month and the shared grocery bill was $55 a month. I was blown away. I had decided to honor the LORD with 10% of my new salary and then God gave me a great place to live for exactly what I could afford. You, too, can learn to honor God and see Him provide.

A friend e-mailed about his 89-year-old mother. She had called him on the phone to confess she hadn't been tithing because she was on a fixed income--but she'd decided that she was going to start faithfully tithing again. Within a few days, she got a call from her pastor asking her to go on a church prayer retreat with all the expenses paid by the church. The next day, she went to her bank to get some money and the bank teller told her, “Don’t withdraw any money, since your 90th birthday is coming up, our bank is going to give you a present of $100 in cash!" The following day, she got a letter from a community group to let her know she had been chosen to receive a $500 grant to help pay her utility bills. After she began tithing again, she was amazed at the unexpected provisions she received from the LORD.

 Giving thanks today:

~ My Paul marveling at God's gift of a real piano.

~ My children having a wonderful time at the fall homeschooling party.

~ Meeting a very nice lady there (the hostess).

~ Hugs from Beth in the middle of the night.

~ Husband playing basketball with our boys and all the neighborhood boys.

~ Lexi coming over today to braid my girls' hair and bake muffins with my Paul and rake leaves with Peter, for his compost. She hadn't been here for over a week because she was getting very involved with two teenage girls, which worried me. They are too old for her. I prayed for a second chance to disciple her and re-spark her interest in the Lord...and today...she came and had a wonderful time! She missed AWANA last week and we knew a spiritual battle had begun. We are praying for victory and for her to give her life to the Lord.

~ spiritual fruit coming from my Mary

~ Psalms

~ Old Testament stories

~ The wonderful presentation of the Gospel in The Jesus Storybook Bible

~ Husband put up rain gutters in the playroom for me to display books on.

~ Beth will not need surgery for her wandering eyes (strasbismus). Her glasses are correcting it well enough. And there was no arthritis-related eye inflammation seen at her last appointment. What a huge relief both pieces of news are to us! She gets checked again in three months.

Giving thanks with Ann today, and other thankful ladies.