Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday (Kids' Edition)

Counting Blessings:

Beth, age 5

~ Mary, my sister
~ Paul, my brother
~ Peter, my buddy (also her brother)
~ Daddy
~ Mommy
~ God
~ myself

Mary, age 7

~ My sister
~ Webkinz World for my computer time (24 minutes - a number I can easily cut in half for a behavior consequence)
~ Paul, my brother
~ Peter, my brother
~ Mom
~ Dad
~ Good food (she complains about most dinners; go figure)
~ A house that protects us from snow and rain
~ Nice chairs to sit on
~ An indoor stove to cook with (they've seen the 3rd-world stoves of the impoverished, which are like going camping to an American)
~ Washer/dryer to give us clean clothes
~ healthy food
~ My library card

Paul, age 10

~ Knowledge and understanding (I credit AWANA verse memorization and Sonlight curriculum for this entry)
~ That math is easy for me
~ That I can be helpful and kind
~ Homeschooling
~ Big family
~ Plenty to eat
~ Warm clothes

Peter, age 12

~ Indoor toilets (Amen - it's in the teens outside)
~ House
~ Bed
~ Shoes

~ Pet snake (Actually, numerous times a day, he says he should have gotten a mouse because snakes don't move enough. Too many pets are noctural, I'm afraid. While the mice seem active and interesting in the pet store, in a home they would probably sleep all day. He's back to begging for a dog. Maybe this gratitude list is a reminder that he should be thankful for his pet, which he has to live with until his next birthday - 11 months away?)

~ Library card
~ Books
~ Everything

Do You Have a Good Story?

What's your life story? Is it a tidy, neatly-packaged one? Has it been characterized by everyday ups and downs, everyday sins and redemptions--a little too much pride here, a little too much anger there?

Was it somewhat or wholly tragic? Was it downright ugly and shameful?

I don't like my growing-up story, but things could have been worse. They could have been tragic, instead of just sad. Compared to vulnerable girls in third-world countries and what they have to endure, I had a blessed life.

But I've always felt less than, when I compare myself to people with a good story. Jesus and His grace help me fight this feeling, but it never entirely goes away, except during times of deep, at-His-feet worship.

A good story is when Mom and Dad love each other and stay together, and there are no shameful secrets in the nuclear family.

A better story is when Mom and Dad love each other, are Christian and stay together, have no shameful secrets, and raise up a crop of good Christian kids.

The best story is when Mom and Dad love each other, are Christian and stay together, raise up a crop of good Christian kids, and altogether, the family makes an impact on the world for Jesus.

The bestest story ever is when a legacy is built that honors God and passes godliness to many generations, through intentional God-clinging practices.

Many of the people at my church have a good story; it's your typical middle-class church of 150-170 people, with one very rich couple in attendance. While I like most everyone, I often feel like I can only relate to about 3 families. These three families? We understand each other. We don't waddle in sorrow or keep our heads down. We don't count our curses, but our blessings. We aren't marked with a scarlet letter, so no one knows our stories. In fact, we only stumbled upon each other's story by chance, not design.

People with good stories don't know what to think about sorry-storied people. Should they pity us? Should they stay away from us? Should they act nonchalant, as though nothing shocks them? My impression is they don't know what to think or feel. They've never been through such territory, and it's easy to assume their own intelligence and level-headedness kept them straight. A default reaction might be to place blame somewhere as quickly as possible, or to look down upon the story and it characters.

Some people struggle with pride over their good story, and others struggle with shame over their sad one.

When the shame of an ugly story grips me, do you know what the Lord speaks into my soul?

You are my daughter and I love you. Cling to Me and I'll write a beautiful ending.

Jeremiah 32:27 I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

Whatever your story, cling to Him. Let Him work through you to write the best ending imaginable.

Because every story needs editing...and the Editor never gives up on us.

If you're like me and you really want the legacy story?

Cling. Cling. Cling.

Notice I didn't say obey? Or serve? Or go to a third-world country and adopt 20 orphans (though that would be grand)?

No. Just cling to the Lord. Don't let go. Let him mold and shape and write.  Live this Psalm:

Psalm 96:2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

With Love From Sheila (My "Adopted" Daughter)

Last month, on January 28, we sponsored Sheila from Uganda. I wrote the first letter online that day, since Compassion added her to my account within hours. However, I didn't expect to hear from her for at least a couple months.

It turns out, mail is fast from Uganda! (Not so when we write to India, Burkina Faso, and El Salvador.) We received an introductory letter from Sheila on February 22, written in her hand, in English (which is the official language in Uganda). The letter was a joy for all of us!

Sheila lives with just her grandmother, who is 61. The life expectancy for people in Uganda is not long, so I will be definitely be praying that Sheila has her grandmother in her life for many more years.

Here is the text of Sheila's letter, which she wrote before receiving my letter.

Dear My Friend,

Praise God for the gift of Life. Thank God for you and for loving me and choosing me to be your friend. I will always pray for you to be blessed and may God's love and mercy be upon you. I am now in senior three and pray for me to succeed in my studies for in future would like to be a teacher.

I go to worship God at St. James church of Uganda. I have learnt that at church they tell us encouraging words, and the good news of Jesus Christ. Have you ever heard of Jesus Christ?

May the Almighty God keep loving and blessing you as you serve him.


She also filled in some pre-made boxes on the Compassion stationary, telling us a little more about her.

Her favorite things:

In school - English
Food - rice
Color - orange
Game - playing netball
Bible Story - Daniel
Song - Jesus Loves Me

"If I could visit anywhere...I would go to Kampala because it is a big city."

She also drew beautiful pictures under the heading: I know how to, house, hen, hut, cup, ball, an egg, tree

Sheila is the only Compassion child we have who doesn't have a mother. I read from her profile that her parents were married, until the death of her mother. Her father is still alive, but not in her life.

My heart soars in a different way for this child, for if my husband would allow it and if we were younger, I would definitely adopt a child. I have always loved children, from an early age asking to hold everyone's baby, later becoming a first-grade teacher, and working in the nursery as soon as I became a Christian. My own children delight me daily with their giggles, their clever ideas, the way they dance to Jesus songs with abandon, the way they fall in live with certain picture books, and the way they so often get inspired by their learning materials. Children are a delight...a joy...a blessing from the Lord. There's no other way to put it. Watching them grow and learn is a privilege.

My role in our other Compassion children's lives is encourager, teacher, and spiritual friend. However, with Sheila I can possibly be a mother figure and no one would be offended (or at least I hope not). I plan to pray that God gives me the words to gently enter her life as a surrogate mother, while not treading on her grandmother's heart. A young lady needs to know that she is loved, that she is beautiful, inside and out. That she is bright and capable and that God has a plan for her life, and that in following it, she will know joy and peace and pass them on to her own children. A young lady needs to know that her life will matter far after she's gone, for generations, if she allows God to fully lead.

It is my privilege to speak these things into her life in these, her vulnerable teen years (she'll be 15 in May).

Please, sponsor a child. Since the older children get chosen far less, I encourage you to consider sponsoring a tween or teen. To say it would brighten your days in an understatement! You don't have to love children exceedingly to do this. It is an act of obedience and God will give you the words, the prayers, the funds. I promise you that.

If you already sponsor, what ages are your children, and from what countries? How have the letters blessed you and your family?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dealing With Abusive Parents or Spouses

I wrote a couple weeks ago that I had to cut ties with my mother. As I continue to process the whole experience, I will occasionally write what I hope are helpful tips for those dealing with abusive situations.

1. First, don't let the guilt kill you. You are allowed to feel rotten about your cutting-all-ties decision for one or two days, and then you must let it go. Consider this: You weren't actually the one who decided to cut ties. Your parent (or spouse) made the decision when they continually chose to treat you abusively. Your only decision was to stop enabling their poisonous behavior. Tolerating it is enabling it.

If you begin to feel intense guilt and are constantly second-guessing your decision, you must fight through that. Those feelings are part of codependence; they are unhealthy. Never feel guilty for distancing yourself from abuse. Growing up, I was always afraid that if I told my mother the truth about her poisonous behavior (or her drinking) she'd get so depressed that she'd commit suicide. If you can relate to that, you used to be (or are) codependent. It is not your job to prevent someone from committing suicide. It is not your job to make someone else happy. (This even applies to your children.)

2.  People who have not been emotionally abused, or who are enablers, will hint that your decision is unforgiving and mean-hearted. Don't believe it. Forgiving an emotionally or physically abusive person doesn't stop their abuse. Yes, forgive them, for your own sake. It releases you spiritually and emotionally when you forgive them--just don't mistakenly assume that forgiving means you have to tolerate abuse. You can forgive a person from afar. You can even forgive someone who is already dead. Forgiveness is a spiritual decision and God is our partner in it. Tell God you want to forgive, and then let him work it out in your heart.

3. Family members still stuck in codependence might break off ties with you, or call you and beg you to apologize to the abuser. Don't apologize. Every time we apologize to an abuser, it lets them off the hook for their behavior. Any act that cushions them or somehow prevents them from taking full responsiblity for their behavior, is enabling.  If substance abuse is involved, you can tell the family member not to contact you until they've been sober for 6 months (as an alternative to completely cutting off ties).

4. Your decision and the isolation it causes will be very hard. If you don't know anyone who can understand, pray for support. Several days after I made my decision (and I was in a living hell emotionally), I learned that my 56-year-old friend from church had to cut ties with her abusive mother that same week (even while the mother was in the midst of a cancer diagnosis). My friend didn't know anything about my situation--she just happened to email, asking me for prayer support.  It was divine intervention for me to have someone who understood abuse, and the need to get away from it at all costs.

5. You do not have a cold heart, my friend. You have a healthy heart that desires healthy interaction. Did you hear that? You do not have a cold heart. Love is not about rescuing someone. Rescuing someone is about codependence. Rescuers are not compassionate; they are unhealthy. The Bible asks us to love sacrificially, yes, but that command doesn't refer to codependence. A healthy, biblical love comes from a heart that is full of God's love.  We love because He first loved us.

Conversely, the love of a codependent is a needy, make-me-feel-worthy-by-needing-me love. You don't want someone to need you--unless you have a newborn in your arms and your heart is overflowing with a maternal love. We nurture our children with abandon and joy, but when they can do something themselves, we let them. Letting them begin to take care of themselves, little by little, is part of healthy love. Your worth and usefulness come from God, not from people.

6. Accept that you are not loved by the abuser. Yes, it is painful. Heartwrenching even. But accept it. If the abuser loved you, they wouldn't abuse. They love themselves. Tell God you need love, and let him fill you with it, to overflowing.

Leave a comment if you need prayer. Comments are on delay now--blog owner approval has to come first, before a comment is published. I don't publish comments asking for prayer unless you give me permission.

 Frugal Ideas {Welcome Home Wednesday Homemaking Link Up on Raising Arrows}

Saturday, February 22, 2014

For The Worrier: A Walk Down Sovereignty Lane

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matt. 6:34).

How are you, friend? What's on your mind?

I'm completely overwhelmed with countless details and problems, and this is not of God. Just in case you're feeling similarly, I thought we'd take a walk down Sovereignty Lane.

When the details and problems of life brim over and steal our peace, it could be that we're not in the Word enough. But sometimes we can read our Bibles regularly, and still miss an important piece of Truth.

I believe it's the truth of sovereignty that's missing at these times. We live in God's kingdom, not our own. We exist to fill God's purposes, not our own. We belong to God, not to ourselves.

In light of these truths, does it make sense to feel overwhelmed? Certainly not. It's self-centeredness, not God-centeredness.

I have 5 verses to share about the folly of worry, and even more to share about God's sovereignty. Read, pray, know, and feel them. Bless you, my friend!

Worry Verses

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow . . ." (Matt. 5:33).

"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life" (Matt. 6:27)?

 "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17).

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible' (Matthew 19:26).

“'I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?'" (Jeremiah 32:27).

Sovereignty Verses

"Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God" (Psalm 90:2).

"LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens" (Psalm 8:1)

"For you, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods" (Psalm 97:9).

"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit" (Psalm 147:5).

"I make known the end from the beginning..." (Isaiah 46:10).

 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13).

"Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all" (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).


Friday, February 21, 2014

Homeschool and Mother's Journal Feb 21

In my life this week:

Miss Beth, age 5, had a rheumatology check-up for Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, resulting in no change in her medication. They agree that her knees and left ankle are more swollen than we'd like, but because her range of motion is still good and she doesn't get stiff after periods of inactivity, all is well for now.

A new garbage disposal was installed this week, as well as a clothes dryer and dishwasher, so my life has gotten easier. Praise God. Women of the past couldn't formally homeschool their children because daily life tasks - plucking chickens and doing laundry with a washboard and making butter and cream and mending and ironing - took all day long and probably into the night.

They taught their children plenty that was central to their moral and spiritual make-up. Everyone worked hard. Girls could cook, clean, grow food, quilt, mend and sew. Boys could hunt, mend fences, trap animals, plow land, sow seed, and sell at the market.

I don't know that we're better off now than folks were during the 1800's - there's something to be said for hard labor - but I am grateful for conveniences. Since the dishwasher was installed, I've found more time to do lessons with my first grader, and finally, I don't have to worry about showers and laundry taking all the hot water away at dishwashing time. Handwashing the dishes - something I've done since last April - meant that the germs just weren't getting killed.

And the crazy weather? One day this week we had so much snow that the local schools were out. Two days later we had rain and thunder. Yes, thunder. In Ohio. In February.

In Our Homeschool This Week:

I am just so pleased and blessed that we use Sonlight curriculum. The boys are learning so many facinating things, and I see their enthusiasm and love for learning really growing.

In The History of Medicine, they learned that women died in childbirth in large numbers because the doctors refused to wash their hands before delivery. Women developed infections and fevers and died. In one particular hospital the death rate was 4 out of 5. Washing their hands was undignified, in the doctors' minds. Midwives commonly washed their hands, so women fared much better under their care.


The boys couldn't understand the callousness of the doctors, after a smart new doctor discovered the benefit of handwashing and shared it with his collegues. They hated this guy, especially after he discovered that washing hands with soap and water, and then dipping them in a chlorine solution, saved even more womens' lives. The promising doctor was eventually ousted (other doctors cheered when he left).

William Carey: Obliged to Go, about a famous missionary to India, is another fascinating read. Carey, an Englishman, lived from 1761 to 1834.


Known as the father of modern missions, he was one of four founders of The Baptist Missionary Society, and had a gift for languages and translation. He had a bright, focused mind, and God gifted him in specific ways.

In England at that time - and other places around the world - winning souls was considered God's job, not a believer's job. William had to pen a well-researched book about winning souls - the first of its kind -before receiving any support from churches in his work. Even then, his support revolved around 3 like-minded English men, whom his book profoundly influenced.

While Carey is the star of this book, his wife gave me the most pause as I read.

It was April, 1793, when Carey (32 years old) left England for India, after many setbacks and struggles. He was accompanied by his wife and four sons (one of whom was a newborn), and his sister-in-law, and another family.

Sadly, not long after arriving in India, his wife suffered a setback of horrible depression and had a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered (after losing her 5-year-old son; she previously lost two daughters). Dorothy Carey wasn't equipped emotionally, spiritually, or mentally to be a missionary. She was illiterate when William married her, and intellectually, she was never close to his equal. (His second wife was his intellectual equal, though she was an invalid when he married her, her legs having been maimed in a fire whe she was a child, and her lungs damaged. Charlotte only lived for 14 years after their marriage, but they were happy years for the couple).

William loved his first wife, Dorothy, but he had no idea how to help her. In that era, of course, there were no meds for depression. Dorothy ended up deranged and had fits of rage, frightening her boys and her husband; they confined her to her room, but her husband refused to ever put her in an asylum (which, later, other missionaries advised him to do).

Roughly six or seven years after Carey and his family begin the groundbreaking work in India, new missionaries were sent from England to help. For Carey's family, the most helpful addition was Joshua Marshman, a former school teacher. Joshua and Mrs. Marshman were appalled at the uneducated, undisciplined state of Carey's boys, who had been neglected by their depressed mother and overly busy father. Mrs. Marshman took the boys under her wing and cared for Mrs. Carey in her final few years as well - while at the same time helping her husband, Joshua, in his missionary work.

While God provided for William Carey, I have to wonder what the Lord was thinking in having him marry Dorothy. She didn't want to go to India, or even be a missionary family, for that matter. She was pregnant at the time the call and support came, and couldn't fathom how she would manage a long ocean journey. She was angry William even suggested it, after she'd already lost two daughters (her only daughters out of seven birthed children; only four children survived to adulthood).

Carey left once, bound for India, leaving Dorothy to live with her sister, supported by the church he pastored before being commissioned (though the church was too poor, really, to support Carey's wife and sons).

Quite reluctantly, then, Carey said goodbye and took his oldest son with him, but a series of setbacks in their monetary support brought the father/son pair back home before sailing to Calcutta (immediately following the new baby's birth). Carey and a missionary society founder were able to convince Dorothy to come, but only because her sister agreed to come and help with the children.

The sister fell in love in India and married, and Dorothy felt alone. What a tragedy her life was! All the sorrow over the death of her children, and feeling alone in a foreign land, with a husband fully focused on learning languages, writing Bibles and working for the Lord. As I read, it occured to me that the Lord sacrificed this woman's life for the good of the Gospel. Surely God could have had Carey marry a woman born to be a missionary? For example, Joshua Marshman's wife was as much a missionary as her husband.

William's early beginnings: William Carey was raised in the Church of England (his father had a low, poorly-paid position in the church). Later, William became a "dissenter", which I believe was the word used for evangelical at that time.

Dorothy and William married very young, when William was an apprentice to a cobbler, making little to nothing. He took his bride into an inadequate, damp, cold cottage, and they barely had enough to eat. As a result, they lost their first child, a daughter, to illness when she was 18 months old, which began Dorothy's depressive cycle.

William read a lot and learned he had a gift for languages, though he never had more than an elementary education. The cobbler he worked for decided to support Carey so he could study more - William's cobbler skills being poor, compared to his intellectual and spiritual potential. Soon after, William began pastoring small, poor churches. No matter how much help the Lord brought, the family was always poor (Carey also taught in a local school on the side, briefly, and rather unsuccessfully).

So many questions came to me as I read this book. How young and how poor is too young to marry, in God's eyes? Can a boy of 18 or 20, who can't really support a wife, much less a first baby, marry with God's blessing? Marrying young and poor in the working classes was commonplace at one time, but we strongly discourage it now. Usually children are told to finish college before marrying, and marrying young is (almost) universally discouraged. Are we wrong in this, or was Carey's way wrong? Does God even care what age we marry, or with what resources we enter the covenant? Certainly delaying marriage means more young people engage in sexual sin before their weddings (the vast majority, in fact). Is it best to struggle together in the early years, rather than delaying marriage?

Soon after the death of the first child, in the wake of Dorothy's depression, Carey's mother visited the young couple, while William was still an apprentice. Learning of the appalling conditions her son and daughter-in-law lived in, she went back home (a day's walk away) and solicited donations from neighbors to acquire a better cottage for the young couple.

Why didn't William seek help sooner from someone, so that his daughter could be saved and his wife could be less hungry? His parents didn't have much money either, but they could have gotten him help.

Every hero has his flaws - for isn't Jesus the only true hero? - and as I read, it appeared William's neglect of his family was definitely his major flaw. It wasn't that God didn't provide, but the providing seemed too little and often too late for Dorothy and the children (or was their struggling just part of God's story here?).

William did great things for the faith, and for God, but the Lord never made it easy. From day one William's work was a terrible struggle (outside of his giftedness for it), with more set-backs than I can count. His incredible focus and forward-thinking were more than commendable.

I have to say, the struggling and setbacks were similar for each missionary we've learned about, although William Carey's was the most desperate family situation.

I suspect Dorothy was not an evangelical, and that William was too young in his faith to recognize that, or to care. Women were not involved in their husband's work in that era; their roles were entirely domestic, so I guess William didn't realize the care with which he should choose a wife?

Or was it all to prove that with God, great things can happen, no matter our flaws, shortcomings, or poor decisions? Was it all to show that personal happiness and comfort (Dorothy's and her children's) mean little to God? Or did Dorothy reject God at some point, worsening her condition and ultimate happiness?

William is indeed one of the great heros of the faith, and his extreme hyper-focus on learning languages, translating Scripture, and winning souls, brought about many great beginnings. His missionary society was credited at the end with the saving of 700 souls through their India outreach, and though that may not sound impressive for over forty years of work, having a Bible in their own language would later save many more Indian souls, no doubt. William was also instrumental in outlawing two barbaric human sacrifice practices towards women and children in India.

Convicing people to break caste in India was the major obstacle to winning souls there. The first conversion of a native came years after the work in India began - this delay being the major work-related discouragement for Carey at the time.The caste system is deeply entrenched and oppressive in India (and it still is today).

As you can tell by the lengthy writing here, the William Carey reading fascinated all of us these last couple weeks. You can learn more about Willliam Carey here.

Other school news:

I am loving the Saxon First Grade Math program for my Mary. It's very well organized and engaging, and builds upon itself wonderfully. The only drawback is the cheapness of the paper, which is thin newsprint. It was an expensive package (for me, anyway), but worth it. We had to buy it late in the year, due to lack of funds, but I had other materials to use while waiting.

Notable Library trade books to share (featuring Caldecott Medal Winners this week):

The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen

The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot
Overview : "This book...recounts the persistence of a Frenchman, Louis Bleriot, to build a flying machine to cross the English Channel.... The text is succinct, caption-like in its directness and brevity....The paintings...add the necessary testure and tone to this marriage. This is vintage Provensen" – School Library Journal
A biography of the man whose fascination with flying machines produced the Bleriot XI, which in 1909 became the first heavier-than-air machine to fly the English Channel.


They Were Strong And Good by Robert Lawson

They Were Strong and Good

Overview: Awarded the Caldecott medal in 1941, They Were Strong and Good is a classic book that follows the path of one family's journey through American history. Robert Lawson introduces us to his forefathers and with them we brave Caribbean storms, travel to the wharf markets of New York, and fight in the civil war. Amidst these adventures Lawson's grandparents meet, marry and raise a family, and later his parents follow the same cycle of life. But this book is more than just a story of one family, it's a social history of our country. It reminds us to be proud of our ancestors -who they were, what they did, and the effect they had on the nation we live in today.


Dear Brother, by Frank Asch and Vladimir Vagin


Overview: Two brothers discover dusty old letters written by their great-great-grand uncles to one another. Each letter paints a fascinating visual and verbal portrait as the brothers struggle to understand each other's lifestyle, and to realize that they are not so different after all. By the author-illustrator team of Here Comes the Cat!. Full-color illustrations.


Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McClosky

Make Way for Ducklings

Overview: The busy Boston streets are too dangerous for eight little ducklings! But with a little help from a friendly policeman Mrs. Mallard and her family arrive safely at their new home. The public garden was no place for ducklings when they were first born, but now they are old enough to brave the raucous crowds and swim with the giant swan boats. Available for the first time in a full-size paperback edition, this Caldecott winning classic continues to delight generations of children.


Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

Time of Wonder

Overview: The spell of rain, gulls, a foggy morning, the excitement of sailing, the quiet of the night, the sudden terror of a hurricane, and the peace of a Maine island as a family packs up to leave are shown in poetic language and vibrant, evocative pictures.
Follows the activities of two children spending their summer vacation on an island off the coast of Maine.

Children's Favorite Things This Week:

~ Making snow forts

~ Crafting a snowhill in the yard for sledding

~ Going sledding with Daddy last weekend

~ Making homemade pudding (Peter)

~ Making oatmeal chocolate-chip bars (Paul)

~ Having new appliances installed and having a Christian man (by chance) come to install them, who was enchanted by the idea of homeschooling as he observed us shortly for two days.

~ The giant appliance box they've been playing house in.

~ Working with a large, world map puzzle

My Blessing (gratitude) List:

~ Homeschooling with Sonlight history, language arts, and science

~ Added convenience in my housekeeping.

~ Kids who understand the importance of missionary work, and are beginning to comprehend the great personal sacrifice involved, and that God doesn't guarantee our happiness as we dedicate our lives to Him.

~ Library books to delight us

~ Siblings to delight each other

~ Behavior and problem-solving strategies to use with my ADHD/OCD son

~ Some emotional healing and affirming of a difficult choice

~ A good report from the rheumatologist

~ Our Compassion children to love, pray for, and write to

~ A plane ticket booked for my husband to visit his 91-year-old father, finally

~ Comfort Bible verses

Scripture to Share:

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

After reflecting on William Carey and his family, this verse has been on my mind a lot lately.
How was your week, friend? 

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Organized Prayer

Developing a prayer life is so hard. After we come to know the Lord, by whom are we taught to pray? Hopefully by our parents, but that isn't the reality for many of us. More often in churches and in Christian circles, it's just assumed that we all do this, and we all know how.
It's not unusual, though, for even a seasoned Christian to fail in this area. There are starts, stops, excuses, and finally, giving up for a while.

The good news is that the more we pray, the more we want to pray. Whatever your previous prayer history, start now with a concrete goal, but not too lofty the first week, lest you get discouraged. True change comes after we plan for it. So decide on a goal, or start with this one below, and then add days or minutes to it after one successful week.

First Goal: 20 minutes, 3 times this week
Jump in, get started, and pray for God to light a fire in your heart for prayer.
The Holy Spirit will speak to you about what to pray, but a simple structure to help you get started is the ACTS acronym.
A = Adoration (start by praising God)
C = Confession of sins
T = Thanking God
S = Supplication (prayer requests)
There will always be urgent prayer requests to cover each day, and in addition to those, here are more supplication ideas, organized by day. You can cover all these in one day, or once a week, depending on how long your prayer time is.
I think mothers of young children have the most difficulty setting aside devotional time every day, but with God's help, it can be done.
Monday - Your Children (Future & Present Issues)
~ their Christian walks
~ their future marriages
~ their physical health
~ their future spouses and in-laws
~ your future grandchildren
~ humility for all
~ strong relationships with you
~ your daily discipleship efforts
~ any heart issues that stand out
~ their schools and teachers and peers, if applicable
 Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work. -- Oswald Chambers
Tuesday - Your Marriage
~ communication skills
~ humility
~ physical health
~ purity
~ selflessness
~ the heart to submit to your husband; your husband's heart to lead
~ biblical view of finances
 There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. -- Brother Lawrence

Wednesday - Your Relatives
~ salvation and/or disciplined Christian walk
~ physical health
~ relationships
~ biblical view of finances
We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray; I question it. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God within him, which is nourished not by food but by prayer...Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. -- Oswald Chambers
Thursday - Neighborhood & Workplace & Country
~ salvation
~ relationships
~ physical health
~ evangelical opportunities
~ for political leaders to know and follow God
~ for whole-country revival; for hearts to be convicted about abortion
~ that Christians will vote
Friday - Church & Missionaries & Personal Ministries
~ salvation of fellow churchgoers
~ church children & teens & singles
~ pastor & his family
~ disciplined Christian walk for congregation
~ evangelical opportunities
~ strength & courage
~ biblical view of finances
~ ministry health & effectiveness
 "I would rather train twenty men to pray, than a thousand to preach; A minister's highest mission ought to be to teach his people to pray." -- MacGregor
Saturday - The struggling; the least of God's people
~ global orphan crisis (and how can I personally help)
~ widows
~ end to human trafficking (and how can I personally help)
~ end to governmental corruption in 3rd world
~ that more Christians will sponsor and write to 3rd world children through Christian sponsorship organizations
~ for the end of abject poverty in the world (Much progress has been made in this in the last 50 years. There will always be poverty, but not necessary abject poverty.)
When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy. -- Corrie Ten Boom
Sunday - Your Friendships and Your Own Christian Walk
~ salvation and good health for friends & their families
~ disciplined Christian walks for friends
~ deal with any unconfessed personal sin
~ your prayer life
~ your Bible reading discipline
~ your own health issues

Bless you in this endeavor, and let me know how it goes this week?

Sharing with Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family

Babies {Welcome Home Wednesday Homemaking Link Up on Raising Arrows}

Reworked post from 2013.

My Blessing List

There are links and products in this post, but they aren't affiliate. This is a personal, non-business blog.

Emotionally right now, I'm about as disabled as I was thirteen years ago, after losing a baby. Sleep is elusive, aggravating everything. Everyday tasks feel overwhelming at times, and all of life's problems seem insurmountable. Intellectually, I know it 'aint so, but convincing my heart or mind of that is difficult.

The grace of God has keep this from affecting my children very much, but I see that no matter what the reason, a broken heart is a tragedy to walk through. There are no short cuts.

I thought that disengaging myself from an extended-family dysfunction would help reduce stress, but it turns out that disengaging oneself from the only family ever known, leads to a terrible sense of isolation. I didn't make a mistake; I just made a very costly decision. Morally and intellectually, it was the right thing, but with dysfunction there are no winners. Everyone hurts, just for different reasons.

Such events in our lives help us understand more fully that we live for eternity. There is pain here and our task is not to run away from pain, or even prevent it from happening (outside of following God's precepts so things go as well as possible for us).

Rather, our task is to make sure that every day of our lives resembles a gratitude toward Christ - that we live for Him and His purposes, not for our own. To live is Christ, to die is gain. Making His will our own is our daily task, which is why we must cling to His Word and commune with The Comforter in prayer.

Tuesday is list day and since that may be all I'm capable of, I'm participating today.

A few of my blessings:

1. The books I previously wrote about are helping my family a great deal. I purchased four of them, and I already see the problem-solving steps being implemented by my boys, especially.

What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Ocd

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety

What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger

What to Do When You Grumble Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Negativity

2. I also purchased The Total Transformation program, which you may have heard about on the radio. It promises to end obnoxious behavior in your problem children - back-talking, arguing, abuse, disrespect. Designed for children who have poor problem-solving skills, it addresses the behavior difficulties children with ADHD or ADD or autism would have, or problems exhibited by children who have been in orphanages, or abusive situations, or multiple foster homes.

In some cases children are so wounded, they develop faulty thinking that inhibits their ability to take responsibility for their behavior. The program helps these kids identify their faulty thinking patterns, and begin to take responsibility for their actions, though it is written to the parent, not to the child. The parent learns, and then teaches the child.

In cases of AD/HD  or autism - often accompanied by learning disabilities - it helps the parent deliver systematic instruction these kids can understand, while at the same time addressing the kids' faulty thinking patterns.

Additionally, it helps parents identify their ineffective parenting styles, correct them, and effectively help their children. I have always been an assertive parent, but the stress caused by my son's disorders makes it easy for me to sink into ineffective patterns.

Problem behavior is a cover for these kids' poor problem-solving skills, and if the underlying issues are not addressed, behavior becomes more dangerous over time, especially for kids entering adolescence.

The program cost me $19 up front (called shipping and processing costs). Then, once a month for three months, $100 will be charged to me, but that $300 is all refunded if I answer every question in a survey that comes with the program (within 180 days of purchase). It comes with a stamped receipt and two employee signatures, so the date of purchase is well documented. I will send back the survey far sooner than 180 days, so I expect not to pay the whole $300.

The survey is extensive, but not too extensive. It is fair, and truly designed to help the therapists improve and develop new products.

The two married therapists who developed it - James and Janet Lehman - appear in two DVD's that come with it, and there are also 7 or 8 audio teaching CD's, in which James explains the principles in a conversational style. A workbook also explains everything involved.

James was a former problem child who ended up in and out of prison for 7 years. After he was ordered to take an accountability workshop, his life turned around, and he went to college to become a therapist, which he did successfully for 30 years before producing this program. As far as I know, he is still a private-practice therapist.

3. Audio books continue to be a blessing here. When the kids ask for a library DVD, I am putting in audio books instead, which help keep the sanity around here as I prepare dinner (husband is gone 7AM to 7PM). Often I have Peter's help, other times he helps make the surroundings pretty stressful and hyper, so a DVD or audio book help me think clearly and measure accurately as I cook. I feel guilt for the DVD's, even though we choose them carefully, but the audio books come with no guilt at all, and they keep the children calm and engaged - either drawing, coloring, playing trains or Legos or blocks, or just listening.

4. God's Word is a blessing to me always, but especially in times of trouble. We ( and I) are also listening to more audio Bible. Reading 1 and 2 Kings during morning devotions exhausted me because of the difficult names of the kings. The names are so similar, I was getting confused and the pronunciation effort robbed me of some comprehension. Now, lately, we gather in the family room (playroom) with the desktop computer, open our Bibles, and read along as the audio runs. Then I read the commentary aloud, we discuss it, and finally, we end in round-robin prayer and dedicate the day and our work to the Lord.

What is blessing you, my friend?


Friday, February 14, 2014

Comfort Bible Verses

Need comfort today? I sure do. Let's take a walk through the comfort verses.

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

Psalms 9:9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble

Psalms 27:4-5 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Psalms 56:8 You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
Psalms 116:1-2 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
John 14:16-18 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…”

John 14:26-27 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 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.

May you receive His comfort in abundance today!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Homeschool and Mother's Journal Feb 8

In my life this week - buying curricula for next year:

Mid-February is the time of year I spend researching and purchasing curriculum for the next year, and obtaining what we need to finish the current year (a tax refund having arrived).

This week I purchased a used, 2010 set of Sonlight Core G World History Part 1 for the boys' 2014-15 school year. A new 2014 set retails for $495, and I got my 2010 set for $300, plus the separate cost of The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (added by Sonlight since 2010). You super-experienced bargain shoppers will have to tell me if that is a good deal?

The Core G set comes with 20 novels (usually historical fiction and biographies), 15 historical fiction read-alouds (my husband does the boys' read-alouds), timeline figures, a daily Bible reading schedule, supplemental Bible selections, and 4 non-fiction history spine selections. I may have Peter read some of the read-alouds as readers, because he usually runs out of novels before school ends. Or I may just find more novels for him, related to the year's topic if possible, like I've done the previous two years.

We've got everything we need, but I may decide to supplement with Mystery Of History, which as I understand it, is Biblical history with secular history thrown in. Sonlight's Core G set uses Story of the World books 1 & 2 by Susan Wise Bauer, which is secular history told in engaging story form, but with a Christian worldview and biblical history included. Some reviewers assert that Story of the World gets some of the biblical history incorrect, but my husband can spot errors and correct them for us, so that's not a concern.




The previous owner hadn't purchased the Usborne Encyclopedia component, presumably because the first 100 pages are evolution-related. I didn't buy that either, but settled on The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, which contains far less on evolution. I plan to put a rubberband around that part of the book because it presents evolution as fact, not theory. (Next year in Sonlight Science the boys will learn about evolution theory and analyze the holes in the theory, from both a scientific and Christian perspective. I want them to know about evolution so they can form and defend their own beliefs, but I want it presented as theory only.)

Here is an excerpt of Sonlight's synopsis on Core G World History Part 1:

Witness the rise and fall of ancient empires.
Discover how people lived around the world from Creation through the Reformation.
Meet Augustus Caesar, samurai warriors, Incan emperors, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther and more!
Bring the ancient world to life with vivid biographies, historical fiction and award-winning literature.

Having the books this early gives me a head start on prereading them. Although, I still have some to preread from this year!

I purchased Sonlight Science B (Animals, Astronomy, and Physics) for Mary and Beth, and Sonlight Science G (Geology, Physics, and Origins) for the boys. These I obtained new from Sonlight, due to a bad experience last year buying a used science package. (Don't ask.)

Well...I don't want to make it sound worse than it was, so here's the story. A woman sold me a complete Sonlight science package for my boys, but she put it all in a large manila envelope for shipping. Of course, due to the weight, the envelope fell apart and part of the contents got lost at a post office. Instead of asking her for a full refund and shipping the remaining contents back to her (I'm too nice), I asked for just $40 back, and decided to make due and buy the several inexpensive books that got lost. The heavier books survived the trip. That didn't solve the problem, however, of missing many pages of the Instructor's Guide. We made it work this year, but I don't have time for inconveniences like this now that I'm schooling four kids.

Mary will be a second grader next year and I have an ample supply of trade books spanning four grade levels. Thus, I won't be buying her a language arts program, but I am purchasing used copies of Bob Jones University Press 2nd grade readers. While I abhor textbooks usually, I remember that Bob Jones packs their readers with wonderful, heartwarming Christian stories that teach biblical principles, like serving others. The two 2nd grade textbook readers will supplement what we have here, and what Mary checks out at the library. They'll give her a sense of ownership over school materials that belong solely to her. Kids love that feeling and they're proud of their books!

I think 3rd grade is a wonderful year to start using Sonlight Cores. At that age they can do all their required reading independently, with the exception of the read-alouds. I have Sonlight Core D (Intro to Amer. History Part 1) waiting on a tidy shelf here for Mary to reach 3rd grade.

In Our Homeschool This Week:

Miss Beth, age 5, wants to be an artist. We watched an American Girl library movie last weekend about Sage, a young artist who worked hard to raise money to keep an art program going in her elementary school. That movie so inspired my Beth, that she just couldn't stop drawing and painting this week, all the while telling me she will be an artist when she grows up.

It was all I could do to keep from squeezing the stuffing out of her, she was so cute! I love it when children get inspired!

I graded all Mary's Explode the Code pages, and since she earned a 100% on every page, she declared that she just loves spelling! She, too, was so cute I wanted to squeeze the stuffing out of her. And yes, I got the message that it's important to grade their work immediately, instead of getting several weeks behind. I check it daily, but don't add grades daily. She loves looking at those 100%!

The boys were supposed to start The Incredible Journey soon (Sonlight throws some just-for-fun books into their packages as well), but I didn't buy it last year, thinking we had it on the shelf. Well, it wasn't here, so I had to order a used copy off Amazon. In the meantime, I did find The Fledgling on our shelf, which I assigned to start late this week (since it was another outdoors, boyish-type book). The Incredible Journey will arrive next week, and it's an 8th grade book, while The Fledgling is a 5.8 grade book. Oh, well. They're not equivalent, but both are excellent stories with honors. Peter giggled quite a bit at The Fledgling. He's further along in the book than I am, which is never good because he loves to talk about the books exceedingly. We have to constantly remind him not to spoil the plots and endings for his brother.

The Fledgling
Georgie Hall lives near a place called Walden Pond, where life seems perfect. But all Georgie can think about is flying high above the clouds, and seeing the world as no one she knows has seen it. She spends her days thinking and daydreaming, and people seem to think that she's just a girl who just doesn't pay attention. One day, her life changes when a goose befriends her and makes her wish come true: Suddenly, Georgie is flying! But not everyone thinks that her ability to fly is a good thing.
How can Georgie make people understand that what she's doing is just different, and not foolish?
This Newbery Honor book offers readers an introduction to the genre of fantasy, and also to the works of Henry David Thoreau, who lived on Walden Pond, and whose writings, like this book, convey a strong message about the importance of nature in our lives. Finally, little Georgie Hall teaches all of us about the intense joy and satisfaction involved in seeing the world in a variety of ways.

Peter is a talker and there's no stopping him. He often follows me around the house, talking about bird feeders or snakes or why we should breed mice, or about this or that topic in a Sonlight book. I love his enthusiasm and his love for books (which I share), but his schemes can drive a mother crazy. "You can breed mice (snakes, hamsters, etc.) when you get your own apartment."

He hates my standard answer, and really, I do too. It's a boring answer, but I know my limitations. The new baby corn snake requires frozen pinky mice and every time I open my freezer, I'm so not thrilled.

In Sonlight Science F the boys are still reading The History of Medicine, which they both find fascinating. It follows the progression of medical knowledge, and they giggle at certain things, like the use of leeches, not believing that scientists/doctors could have been so dumb. John Hudson Tiner is a Christian author, and we are enjoying his Exploring Planet Earth this year as well.


I haven't read The History of Medicine word for word, but I've perused it and also find it fascinating. I love Sonlight Science! Next year we do another year of fascinating science trade books in Sonlight Science G, but then Sonlight switches to using all Apologia textbooks from 7th grade through 12th grade. I know they're easier in terms of earning high school credits, and I'm glad they are Christian books, but I fear they will be dull compared to the very fascinating books we've enjoyed with Sonlight science so far. Still, I don't want to be scrambling, making up my own programs to meet college entrance requirements/high school graduation requirements. While I love science, it's not my area of expertise at all.

The boys have finished Russia and have moved on to Central Asia and India.

The boys and I are still enjoying Writing With Ease Level 4, and will ease our way into Writing With Skill  Level 1 as soon as the shipment arrives. Writing With Skill Level 1 is for grades 5-8 and is written directly to the student.

Peter, age 12, still struggles with dysgraphia, so writing time isn't pain free around here, unless it's quick write journal time, which allows him to pick the topics. When asked to respond to a topic or passage we've read, he panics, not because he's a poor writer, but because deciding how to organize his work is overwhelming to him, even after orally narrating what he wants to say.

Susan Bauer's writing books are the best thing for him, because they systematically move children along the continuum of organizing their thoughts and arguments well. I am so pleased with her materials, and believe she was spot on in assessing what was wrong with freshman college students' writing samples. She teaches at William and Mary college, and wrote her series of writing books after being appalled at the college freshman writing samples. Kids need more rigorous and frequent writing assignments leading up to college, starting slowly in the lower grades with narrations and dictations.

The Complete Writer: Writing With Skill Level 1 Student Workbook

Publisher Synopsis for Writing With Skill, Level 1:
This book gives every student the necessary tools to write with clarity and confidence.

For students in the middle grades and above, Writing With Skill provides essential training in organization, composition structure, and research methods.

Written directly to the student, this series encourages the student to take the initiative in developing basic writing skills. It gives straightforward, detailed explanations of how to construct and organize compositions and provides careful, clear analysis of models from great writers.

The text teaches students how to write about topics in history, science, literature and poetry. All source material for assignments is provided--no other books are needed.

Kids' Favorite Things This Week:

Peter cut up some gallon milk jugs and put a bread, oatmeal, apple, and peanut butter mixture in them for the birds. What happened, instead, is that our tree squirrels came down and showed us a good time as they figured out how to get to the hanging treats. Hilarious! Those squirrels were so happy when they finally triumphed.

The children also enjoyed the excessive snow, and played "winter game" sled races on the driveway - when I finally let them out. It was too frigid most of the week. They love competition, but as I've said before, I don't enjoy the petty arguments about who won and who cheated. Sigh. They'd tell you they had the funnest time ever, so the arguing apparently means little to them.

Praying For:

One of our Bible study members fell on the ice and broke three bones (at age 73) and he will be in the hospital for 12 weeks, potentially. We are helping his wife get to the hospital to visit him, and praying for healing. They have a steep driveway and she can't get out of it safely when the snow and ice accumulate.

The hospitals here are full of people with broken bones, after falls on the ice. Our other Bible study member, age 56, fell on the ice but nothing is broken, thank goodness.

The Compassion International Ugandan Blogging Trip was a big success, with 395 children sponsored! The goal was 400 children. Almost there. Want to help?


My husband is having trouble with heartburn so I have to find more recipes that use spices sparingly. I tend to make spicey meals, and let me tell you, I will miss them!


I'm reading Radical by David Platt and enjoying it immensely, and nodding my head at every page. I agree with every word. Also trying to keep up with the boys' school pre-reading.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream   -     By: David Platt

We finished Farmer Boy on audiobook and I miss it so. We started Return to the Hundred Acre Woods, which is an approved sequel, not written by the original author. It's very funny and has us in big belly laughs.


My husband reads to the boys at night from our curriculum read-alouds, and right now they're enjoying The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, which all three of them find exciting and adventurous.

Synopsis: Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie's parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease.

With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?
Gratitude List:

~ The Holy Word and its wisdom for handling life's bumps and bruises

~ The joy of serving family and friends

~ My sweet, sick, congested little girl sleeping on my chest - reminding me that they're only young and they only fit in your lap for so long...and it's never long enough.

~ Cooking together

~ Strong, loving husband

~ My girls'  made-up Christian songs. So sweet they make me cry.

~ Little Beth's inspired paintings and pictures.

~ Sisters giggling together

~ Children who keep me in the present, clinging to Him.

~ The garbage disposal, now defunct completely, will soon be replaced.

~ The excitement of new books coming in the mail.

Scriptures to Share:

1 Samuel 12:24 But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

Luke 22:26-27 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

What blessed you this week?

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Helping Your Child With Anxieties & Disorders

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we decided it was time to obtain therapy for my son Peter's OCD. Psychiatrists categorize patients who have certain common OCD behaviors as "counters," "cleaners," "checkers," and "hoarders."

My Peter is a "checker" and a "cleaner" (washing his hands), and both components were getting worse, increasing his stress, my stress, and our family stress. OCD commonly occurs with ADHD and Tourette's Syndrome (Tourette's Syndrome is a verbal and motor tic disorder). Peter has both of these comorbid conditions, all related neurologically.

He is on the lowest dose of Prozac, which is a standard first-line OCD drug, but his weight is now 95 pounds, so the 10 mg dose is not as effective. However, there are no side-effects with this low dose, so before increasing it, we thought therapy was warranted.

It looks like we're moving on to plan B, though, which I'll get to in a minute. They gave Peter an intern, most likely because of our inferior insurance. OCD can worsen if a patient receives poor therapy, and though I was aware of this, I decided to try the intern out for a brief time and see what happened.

At the first formal, non-paperwork visit, she conducted a get-to-know-you session in which she revealed without shame that she's living with her fiance. I don't expect non-Christians to act like Christians, and I totally understand why she didn't think her lifestyle was cause for shame.

OCD has a religious distortion component for some people. This means that if they encounter an immoral situation or immoral person, they panic and feel they're going to be corrupted. In his case, he has to keep checking with me, "Am I in sin? Am I in sin?" If I don't answer quickly that he's fine, he comes unglued.

A "checking" behavior is also repeatedly checking to see if the stove burners are off, or if the front door is locked. Peter's checking behaviors all revolve around asking me for assurance. If I don't answer, as I said, he comes unglued. But the more I play a part in his compulsive checking, the worse the condition becomes in his brain. The more he "checks" the more he has to check. The less he checks, the less his brain pressures him to check.

So, OCD therapy must help a child boss back his brain, so he can get the upper hand over it. The voice in the head will still be there telling him to check, but he won't be as bothered  - it will lose power over him, without exactly disappearing.

As soon as Peter understood that the therapist was living with her fiance, he shut down and wanted out of there ASAP. Going back will be futile.

Besides, I was not invited into the session (I have my three other children in tow). This made me extremely uncomfortable, and Peter uncomfortable as well, since she was a complete stranger to us. And OCD or not, I don't want him with a worldly counselor.

As soon as he said..."I never want to go back there again."...and told me why, I completely agreed with him.

So, plan B.

Enter Dawn Huebner, Ph.D. The link on her name will take you to her author page.

I did quite a bit of research before deciding to recommend her books here. They're well received all over the world and translated into many different languages. Countless children and families have been helped by her work. Kids love these books! And parents, too.

She's written several that might help your family, so I'm including all of them here. I'll be ordering a few more myself. Paul has anxiety and milder OCD, and Mary has anxiety and possibly the beginning of OCD - all inherited, unfortunately. These issues start surfacing at 6 to 7 years old - prior to age 7, anxiety is thought to be benign and just a part of childhood.

What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Ocd

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety

What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger

What to Do When You Grumble Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Negativity

What to Do When Bad Habits Take Hold: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Nail Biting and More

What to Do When you Dread Your Bed: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems with Sleep

I hope something here can help you with whatever your child and family may be facing. Blessings to you, and remember, none of this is your fault.

Sharing also with Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

Spring Tips {Welcome Home Wednesday Homemaking Link Up on Raising Arrows}

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Homeschool and Mother's Journal Feb 2

In my life this week:

We decided on some Bible study materials for our new adult Bible Study. We'll use Fruit of the Spirit 48 Bible Studies. We'll also read one missionary book about every 4 to 6 weeks, starting with David Platt's Radical. Radical is not your typical missionary book, but it's a nice start. I've wanted to read it for a couple years now. Thankfully, I found three good used copies to keep our costs down.

In a sign that God is with us on this, the books arrived on Friday, a day ahead of our first planned Bible study. Our first study went very well and I'm so pleased with our new community.

Fruit of the Spirit: 48 Bible Studies for Individuals or Groups  -     By: Phyllis J. LePeau, Jack Kuhatschek & Jacalyn Eyre

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream   -     By: David Platt

Peter's stomach virus lasted only 24 hours - another sign God is with us on the new Bible study. We didn't have to cancel and no one else got sick.

As I wrote last week, I've begun working out to the Weight Watchers Get Moving Mix DVD, recently found at a thrift store. I still love it! (And little Beth does too! :) I did it Mon-Wed-Fri this week, which is probably not enough to get totally fit, but on Saturday I do a major strenuous house cleaning, compared to my normal weekday maintenance cleaning. On weeks we don't have any doctor's appointments, I can hopefully work out five days a week.

This has been a busy blogging week, as I've helped spread the word about Compassion International's Ugandan Blogging trip. The bloggers are now are their way back home, and so far 243 children have been sponsored as a result of the trip, which is short of the 400-children goal. The number could still go up as people continue to spread the word. Please help? Use this link to encourage your readers to check out the trip and its posts and photos? Thank you!

We sponsored 14-year-old Sheila from Uganda this week! She showed up on my Compassion account just a couple hours later, enabling me to write my first online letter to her, which thrilled me. I wrote through tears. I tell you, when you click "sponsor me" next to a child's name, God puts a powerful love in your heart for your new "adopted" child. It's this God-given love, and the prayers and letters that arise from it, that change your sponsored child's heart and life. Even the founder of Compassion International, Wess Stafford, tells people, if you won't write a child, don't bother sponsoring at all. The letters are that crucial. Poverty tells a child he or she doesn't matter, and our letters counter that. Letters speak love, hope, encouragement into a child's heart.

And the letters? They change you, too. Sponsorship is a two-way blessing, and in fact, reaching one child can change a whole neighborhood, because with your sponsorship comes Jesus. Compassion does everything in Jesus' name - they always have and always will. Praise God! Even if you don't have the extra $38 a month, I encourage you to sponsor, and watch how fast God provides that $38 and more.

You can't afford not to sponsor, is my philosophy.

In our homeschool this week:

The boys are finishing up their Russia studies in Sonlight's Core F Eastern Hemisphere, and next week we move on to Central Asia and then India. They will read Genghis Khan and the Mongol Horde, and Whatever Happened to Penny Candy (an Uncle Eric Economics book). Peter is done with Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, and Paul started it Friday. 100 Gateway Cities is a book about the 10/40 missionary window, which the boys read a page of 3 times a week. They're reading The History of Medicine in Sonlight Science (a fascinating book), as well as continuing in Food and Nutrition for Every Kid. Late next week they'll start reading William Carey, Obliged to Go (missionary to India).



Genghis Khan and the Mongol Horde (World Landmark Books): Harold Lamb


Just So Stories

Rudyard Kipling, author of Just So Stories and The Jungle Book, has lost favor with some academics and the politically correct. Like The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, Kipling's work has some culturally upsetting stereotypes that were indicative of the time (Just So Stories penned in 1902). I read some pretty angry reviews about his work, in addition to many glowing ones. Let me just defend him for a minute?

The British Empire was not always respectful of the natives it colonized - of this, there's no doubt. I admit to feeling irritated myself as I've read more about how the Eastern Hemisphere was affected by the British invasion (my irritation mostly related to the sale of opium to the colonized natives). The British Empire wanted profits, most of all. Did they harbor a superiority complex towards natives? Probably.

Rudyard Kipling, who wrote Just So Stories for a daughter ailing with pneumonia (tragically, she died), was a man of his time and a genius with words. These charming stories, which beg to be read aloud, still delight thousands of children and adults, and I believe they deserve an honored place in children's literature. I'm afraid I can't fault a man for being a product of his time, unless he is a Christian. Kipling wasn't. With God as one's spiritual compass, it's possible to amount to more than one's time. Thomas Jefferson had a 150 slaves, which I think makes him a man of his time (like Kipling, he was also a non-Christian). Should I despise him because of that and disregard all his contributions, including the Declaration of Independence? I don't think so.

As parents, we can't really let our kids loose with any book and expect the best possible results. We have to guide them through novels, understanding that authors have substantial influence over our children's minds.

There are versions of Just So Stories available without the offensive racial stereotypes, but when we choose those, we lose potentially good discussions about how to develop a moral compass that stands the test of time - something only possible through the Holy Spirit and Scripture. Whether we live in the 15th Century or in the 21st, God's Word guides us towards a righteousness that transcends our time.

Preschool and First Grade News: My girls are moving right along, making steady progress and mostly enjoying learning. Beth (5) has become quite the artist, as she uses our drawing books during audiobook time after lunch. Peter has a fine-motor delay and at five years old he was scribbling. When I look at Beth's work (she just turned five) I'm amazed, and it reminds me to pray continually for Peter. He's very bright, but he does resent how his siblings grasp some things easier than he does, like cursive, drawing, and typing. My husband, who also has a fine-motor issue, never learned to type, despite many attempts. Peter gets very angry during typing practice and I don't know what to do about that.

All the children still enjoy 10-minute quick write time, right after breakfast and morning devotions. The boys this week began asking me to set the clock for 20 minutes instead. "Mommy, ten minutes is just not long enough." That comment thrilled me to the core, but ten minutes is long enough for my 5- and 7-year-old girls, so the boys just keep writing after the bell rings these days. Both are writing fictional stories.

I will quickly post about my favorite library books this week:

Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman (Fun, fun, fun!)

Tea Party Rules
Publisher Synopsis: When he follows his nose through the woods, Cub discovers a backyard tea party…with cookies! He is just about to dig in when the hostess of the tea party shows up. And she has several strong opinions on how Tea Party must be played. Cub tries to follow her rules . . . but just how much can one bear take, even for cookies?

A laugh-out-loud funny look at the required give-and-take of playtime, Tea Party Rules is an eventual friendship story that will delight grubby cubs, fancy girls, and cookie lovers everywhere.


Redwoods by Jason Chin
A very educational science trade book for all ages. So much more exciting than a textbook.


Publisher Synopsis:
An ordinary train ride becomes an extraordinary trip to the great ancient forests.

A subway trip is transformed when a young boy happens upon a book about redwood forests. As he reads, the information unfolds, and with each new bit of knowledge, he travels—all the way to California to climb into the Redwood canopy. Crammed with interesting and accurate information about these great natural wonders, Jason Chin's first book is innovative nonfiction set within a strong and beautiful picture storybook.


Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy by Phil Bildner (This is superb storytelling!)

Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy

Publisher Synopsis:
No one knew better than Shoeless Joe Jackson what was needed to become the best baseball player ever: a good bat. And no one knew more about bats than Ol' Charlie Ferguson of South Carolina, a good friend of Joe's. With love, nurture, and a lot of hard work, the two friends created Black Betsy — the finest bat in all the land. And with a bat the likes of her by his side, you can bet Joe went all the way to the major leagues!
Shoeless Joe Jackson, said by some to be the greatest baseball player ever, goes into a hitting slump just before he is to start his minor league career, so he asks his friend to make him a special bat to help him hit.


Emily by Michael Bedard


Publisher Synopsis: A young girl who lives across the street from the reclusive Emily Dickinson gets her chance to meet the poet when her mother is invited to play the piano for Emily. The girl sneaks up to Emily's room and exchanges a small gift for an authentic poem, which is included in the book.

When a mother and child pay a visit to their reclusive neighbor Emily, who stays in her house writing poems, there is an exchange of special gifts.

I had no idea that Emily Dickinson never left her house the last 25 years of her life. The author did a lot of research and apparently found this claim valid. How tragic!

Barbara Cooney is one of my favorite illustrators and she doesn't disappoint in this charming book.


The Long Red Scarf by Nette Hilton

The Long Red Scarf

School Library Journal's Synopsis: PreS-Gr 2-- A fresh story that vibrates with positive energy and that has a sweet, satisfying resolution. Grandpa loves the long, woolly blue scarf that his friend Jake wears on their fishing trips. He asks Great Aunt Maude to make him one, but she doesn't know how to knit. He asks pregnant Cousin Isabel, but she's too busy. In return for a dish of his homemade cookies, Izzy provides him with needles and yarn, and he knits the scarf himself. Now he and Jake can be found knitting an outfit for the new baby to wear when she'll come fishing with them. The story is quietly told with a rhythm that's calm and calming. There's repetition and a refrain to welcome and snare young readers.


Thomas Jefferson: Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

Publisher Synopsis:
Renowned artist Maira Kalman sheds light on the fascinating life and interests of the Renaissance man who was our third president.

Thomas Jefferson is perhaps best known for writing the Declaration of Independence—but there’s so much more to discover. This energetic man was interested in everything. He played violin, spoke seven languages and was a scientist, naturalist, botanist, mathematician and architect. He designed his magnificent home, Monticello, which is full of objects he collected from around the world. Our first foodie, he grew over fifteen kinds of peas and advocated a mostly vegetarian diet. And oh yes, as our third president, he doubled the size of the United States and sent Lewis and Clark to explore it. He also started the Library of Congress and said, “I cannot live without books.” But monumental figures can have monumental flaws, and Jefferson was no exception. Although he called slavery an “abomination,” he owned about 150 slaves.

This is a fascinating book!

My Children's Favorite Things This Week:

~ Having our church friends over for a Bible study; the kids enjoyed the grandparent-like attention. They're really starved for that. We had dinner and fellowship first.

~ The kids also managed to play thrilling baseball in our playroom (family room) all week. It was frigid outside so they've been housebound. They manage to stay active, believe me. Gets on my nerves but I know it's necessary. They do make up the funniest games.

~ Peter is planning our garden and that always enthralls him. The siblings have been busy picking the flowers they want, too. So far their total is up to $50 at Don't know if Daddy will approve, but we'll see.

Gratitude List:

~ Community at our house in the form of Bible Study.

~ Our new "adopted" daughter Sheila and the thrill of writing that first letter.

~ My kids enjoying some surrogate grandparents.

~ My Mary reading two books to my friend Cheryl.

~ Miss Beth dancing for the Bible Study members and singing about Jesus all the while. It is true that the youngest children are the biggest hams. Statistically, they tend to go into entertainment fields or other fields where they can garner attention, whereas middle-borns usually go into service-oriented fields, like teaching, social work, or nursing, and the oldest pick responsible, but conservative leadership positions.

~ A happy home

~ God's comfort as experienced through the Word and through community.

~ Our weekly library visits

~ Two additional children at our neighborhood Children's Bible study

~ Stimulating, solid homeschool curriculum

~ Keeping up with the folding of clothes as we all enjoy an audiobook together.

~ Paul's brownies

~ Learning along with my children

~ A warm and loving husband

~ The privilege of discipling my children

Quote to Share:

Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

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

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?