Friday, May 29, 2015

Weekly Homeschool and Life Wrap-Up 5/29

Giving Thanks
Psalm 100:1-5 A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

I'm Grateful For...

~ God's exquisite creation and its power to soothe, refocus, delight, amaze, and center us.

~ A 13-year-old son growing in grace, leadership, power, and purpose

~ The Busy Hive of Bees character training children love them and me too

~ Lessons taken to heart

~ Little sisters as best friends

~ Library books and learning enhanced

~ Children with disorders developing a testimony of His grace

~ Low-income children developing a testimony of his provision, and the power of imagination

~ Children learning to discern wants from needs 

~ Children investing in their Compassion sisters and brothers

~ The complete transformation family devotional time accomplishes

~ Kids delighted with smores and a make-shift cornhole game

~ A husband's love and understanding

~ A farmer at church agreed to have us over for a field trip, along with another homeschooling family. I told him Peter wants to be a farmer, so he was happy to oblige. Peter will arrive with many questions about the ins and outs of farming for a living. They have beef cattle, chickens, and will obtain pigs soon. This farmer also has a friend who goes to Uganda in the summers, so Peter can ask questions about that as well.

Activities This Week

Memorial Day and a field trip day made it a shorter school week.

Peter and Daddy went on two bird watching field trips, and Paul joined them for the second one. These involve rising early, which isn't the best thing for my girls. We will go with the whole family this weekend, hopefully, but without the early rising. Following are Peter's photos from the trips. He is working on the library's annual photo contest, as well, with these field trips.

It's hard to discern, but this is a Momma with her babies following.

Again, hard to see but this is a muskrat, above.

Beth continues to create all kinds of things with recycling. Last month it was dolls and stuffed animals with whatever materials she could find, and this creations, I guess I'll call them. 

A dragon, above.

Our Memorial Day feast, complete with smores for the fire.

The children, especially Peter and Mary, delighted in the tree frogs in our yard. Can you see this one on the couch? Mary prays when she goes outside and tells God exactly what she'd like to find. Sometimes, he gives her something entirely different, but just as good or even better.

Mary learning to cook.

My life is really changing as my boys grow and mature. They're a big help now, with things like taking out the trash, cleaning the yard, mowing, and putting things together, like this grill (our gas grill is broken). Peter does so much now without even being asked.

Mommas, they do grow up, they do mature, and they do internalize all those Bible and character lessons you're instilling. Your time and devotion to them will not go unnoticed or unrewarded. They will make mistakes, but far fewer thanks to your devotional time and the Lord's mercy and grace.

Paul continues on his quest to learn about every American president. This week, he read about William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. Daddy borrows the library books and reads them at night after the kids go to bed. He too, is interested in this aspect of American history.

Paul is using the Spirit of America Our Presidents series, found at the library.

We enjoyed some good books from the library and would love to share them (many published this year):

First Garden: The White House Garden and How it Grew 
by Robbin Gourley, published 2011

Synopsis: The White House kitchen garden, part of Michelle Obama’s campaign to encourage healthful eating, was established in 2009. This book tells the story of Mrs. Obama’s garden, as well as the story of the White House grounds, the other gardens (including Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden in World War II) that came before, the White House children who have played there, and the teamwork, involving local children as well as the Obama family and White House staff, that led to the garden now flourishing on the South Lawn. This is a lighthearted, entertaining, and lavishly illustrated introduction to an inspiring and much-publicized project. Includes recipes.

Toad Weather 
by Sandra Markle, published March, 2015

Synopsis: There's nothing to do on a rainy day—or so Ally thinks. But Mama says she's seen something amazing, so despite Ally's misgivings, she sets out on an adventure with her mother and grandmother. On her journey, she sees all sorts of things: dripping awnings, wet cardboard, splashing cars...but also earthworms, storm drain geysers, and oil slick patterns. And then they turn the corner, just in time to see a big crowd. What's happening?

Take Shelter: At Home Around the World
by Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton, published December, 2014

Synopsis: A roof, a door, some windows, a floor. All houses have them, but not all houses are alike. Some have wings (airplane homes), some have wheels (Romany vardoes), some float; some are made of straw, some of snow and ice. Some are enormous, some are tiny; some are permanent and some are temporary. But all are home. Take Shelter explores the way people live all over the world and beyond--from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from an underground house in Las Vegas to the International Space Station. Everywhere people live, they adapt to their surroundings and create unique environments, using innovative techniques to provide that most basic of needs: shelter.

Yard Sale 
by Eve Bunting, published April, 2015

Synopsis: Almost everything Callie’s family owns is spread out in their front yard—their furniture, their potted flowers, even Callie’s bike. They can’t stay in this house, so they’re moving to an apartment in the city. The new place is "small but nice," Mom says, and most of their things won’t fit, so today they are having a yard sale. But it’s kind of hard to watch people buy your stuff, even if you understand why it has to happen. With sensitivity and grace, Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo portray an event at once familiar and difficult, making clear that a home isn’t about what you have, but whom you hold close.

The Grasshopper and the Ants 
by Jerry Pinkney, published April, 2015

Synopsis: In this stunning companion to the Caldecott Medal-winning The Lion & the Mouse and the highly acclaimed The Tortoise & the Hare, a playful grasshopper wonders why the busy ants around him won't join in his merrymaking as the seasons pass by. But when winter arrives, he soon sees the value of his friends' hard work--just as the ants learn the value of sharing what they've worked for. Featuring a striking, surprise gatefold page, this third book in Jerry Pinkney's gorgeous trilogy of picture book fables subtly suggests a resonant moral: Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today.

My comments: The illustration are exquisite! Maybe a 2015 Caldecott winner? Great story too.

On the blog this week:

Not An Easy Week for Christians

A Word to All the Christians

Around the Web:

Reading Readiness Has to do With the Body

How was your week? Have a wonderful weekend!

gratitude photo image

Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Word to all the Christians

Rejoice in Hope in 2015, and always. That's the task and the privilege of the Christian.

We live in a society that is rapidly anti-Christian and anti-Bible. The main impetus for the hate? It's grown over time, but mainly, in this era, it's our stance on marriage equality. While the mainstream in the Church do not participate in hate speech (some fringe religious groups are reprehensible in their anti-gay demonstrations), we nevertheless refuse to reject Christ and the teachings of the Bible. Refusing to pick and choose what we like in scripture, we don't dump some precepts for our own convenience, or for political correctness. (Or do we?...see below) Our firm resolve has resulted in something unsettling, to say the least, as we're branded thus: haters, bigots, hypocrites.

As Christians we have to think deeply, rather than just regurgitate learned rhetoric. There are serious issues facing our culture and the world. We have to search scripture and our hearts to come up with a discerning stance on all sorts of issues. We are called to have a reason for our hope--all through the ages this has been true. Whatever faced Christians through the centuries, scripture called on them to have a reason for their hope.

History hints that in light of present circumstances, persecution is coming for the Christian, and not just in extremist areas like the Middle East. It's coming on the home front for all who dare open their mouths about the existence of absolute Truth.

Let's go over some serious issues of our time. We must know where we stand on these issues. They aren't someone else's problems, but issues for all humanity to grapple with.

Same-sex attraction does exist. Pedophilia, an attraction to children, does exist. Both are part of the sin curse--a part God has chosen not to eradicate or alleviate. A pedophile sometimes becomes a molester, but not always, just as a person battling same-sex attraction sometimes lives a homosexual lifestyle, but not always. The latter is a crime (and a sin), and the former is considered just sin in some camps, although most states at one time or another had laws on the books labeling sodomy a crime. In either case, the person battling the deviance is dealt a very tragic hand. As Christians standing up for the Bible, that's important for us to acknowledge.

Let me address some facts about molestation and pedophilia--which are two different things. We know that a small percentage of molestation cases are due to teenage experimentation (teenagers who are not pedophiles), and another small percentage are due to sociopaths displaying anti-social behavior (sociopaths who are not also pedophiles). An even smaller percentage are carried out by the severely mentally handicapped (who are not pedophiles). The remaining vast percentage of molestation incidents are carried out by pedophiles who choose to act on their disorder (pedophilia is a disorder listed in the diagnostic manual) in devious, manipulative, sick ways. They become highly manipulative in order to carry out their desires in ways that won't land them in prison. These people are predators, and their predatory behavior can start as soon as their sexuality kicks in at puberty.

Some argue that pedophiles are groomed by other pedophiles and wouldn't be this way if not for the crimes committed against them. Maybe, but probably only in some cases. Not everyone is corrupted by the sins committed against them. A friend from high school was molested by her father, who is a pedophile (and an alcoholic). Her life was ruined, in many respects, by the crime committed against her, but she was not corrupted, despite the number of years the perpetrator continued in his crimes against her. Now fifty, she has never married, has a number of physical and emotional problems, and despite being salutatorian in high school, has never met with any success in life (that can be measured outwardly). We have email contact only as she lives far away, but her circumstances never cease to tear me up inside, and they're part of the reason I don't trust anyone with my children.

As Christians trying to stand up for truth and mercy, it's important for us to come to terms with the ugliness of the sin curse, especially when we comment on the sins of others. This is emotionally- and mentally-wrenching work, this coming to terms. We are not all dealt an equal hand, when it comes to the sin curse. We all have a choice in how we live our lives, but not in the extent to which the sin curse affects us. God's grace has fallen on humanity unequally, in terms of the sin curse.

He chooses us; we don't choose him. Nevertheless, he probably chooses us by knowing ahead of time who will choose him. I don't pretend to understand this, but like you, I have to accept his sovereignty and be grateful for his grace in my life...and be merciful to others.

Some have the grace of coming from intact, healthy Christian families and becoming Christians early, while others have the grace of coming from unhealthy families, but later being a part of the small percentage of people who come to Christ after age 18. The extent of grace in our lives as a whole varies, but we are called to be grateful for every ounce of grace, not comparing with a bitter heart, wondering why others have it better.

And now, having come to terms a little with the different hands humanity is dealt, I've another angle to present in the whole case against Christians as bigots and hypocrites. In some ways, we are hypocritical.

For example, the marriage and remarriage "laws" in the Bible are strict, and yet we all know Christians who live in circumstances outside the scriptural model. Despite the fact that most pastors will not marry a couple who present with unscriptural circumstances, these couples, though Christian, marry anyway, often in civil ceremonies.

There are many Christian couples who divorce for reasons not cited in scripture. Some live alone and celibate for the rest of their lives, and others, not. Called to live in circumstances we don't like, we choose our own way, rationalizing it.

And yet, we tell same-sex attraction people that they mustn't act on their desires, even though we are guilty of acting on our own non-biblical desires. And similarly, their desire, like ours, is to be happy.

The stark reality? God doesn't call human beings to happiness. This is something we don't like to preach. He calls us to obedience. He calls us to a life of faith. He calls us to self-denial, for the sake of our fellow man. He calls us to walk the path he walked, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

If you talk about modesty in this era, people accuse you of victim-blaming, as though you're saying if someone dresses immodestly, they deserve what they got ( in terms of a sexual crime committed against them). No, modesty is about submitting to one another in love. A crime is a crime, regardless of how someone dressed.

Modesty is about denying the insecure desire to look as attractive as possible. As women, our real attractiveness comes from our heart for God. Skin-deep attractiveness is a grace given to some--but not one to be flaunted.

The Bible calls us to give, and yet many of us don't give even close to 10%, much less giving offerings on top of that.

We are called to forgive, but not all of us do.

We are called to all sorts of things in the Bible, but we fall short.


Three reasons. First, we have a sin nature. Secondly, we don't have enough faith to make the right decisions at the right times. And thirdly, we don't have the teachable heart necessary to take advantage of biblical wisdom. In all three cases, full surrender to God is lacking.

The few of us who follow biblical precepts pretty well, have another glaring problem. Pride.

We all fall short. Because we don't like, and don't choose to walk in, the path scripture lays out for us. Instead, we want to pursue happiness when it appears available.

Later, as God works in our lives and as we submit to a greater extent, we repent of past decisions and paths. Our sanctification is a process; some have a longer way to go. Some are stagnant for a time because of a unteachable heart, but even these people will be pulled along by their faithful Father, albeit at a slower pace, and with more consequences to deal with.

Some people find themselves in strange circumstances, biblically speaking. They may have divorced and remarried as young Christians still needing milk, but later, they find themselves capable of following scripture with more surrender. No longer baby Christians, they have more power in their lives--power in the form of greater faith, better self-control, better obedience, greater gratitude and generosity.

They repent of past mistakes, but they find themselves in a marriage they weren't supposed to have chosen, biblically speaking. Should they divorce now? Of course not. But they can certainly work to counsel others through their testimony. There were certainly consequences to their wrong decision, and they can speak to those for the sake of others facing the same cross roads: God was merciful to me, but you don't want to walk my path. Walk a better one. A more obedient one. A more legacy-producing one.

As to the matter of tithing: Generosity comes from gratitude, and tithes and offerings come from faith mixed with gratitude and obedience. Not all are in place at the same time. Sanctification is a process.

Despite the reality of this process, we still have to preach Truth. Sanctification being a process doesn't negate the importance of absolute truth, proclaimed. We still have to uphold the Bible as our standard. In our churches, we have to exhort obedience and surrender every Sunday, and everyday as parents with children. In the privacy of our own hearts, we must exhort ourselves to be teachable, to be obedient. To surrender all.

And as to the accusation that we are hypocrites, we best own up to it. We are. Our lives reflect that. We want everyone else to do as the Bible says, even though we don't thoroughly do it ourselves. We are all at his mercy.

The sin curse is horrible. Just horrible. For some people, it's more horrible than it is for us. When we proclaim Absolute Truth, we must also acknowledge that the sin curse is not equally distributed across humanity. We must deliver absolute Truth with authority, and with mercy. Always with mercy.

And we must preach this: The Cross is the answer to every dilemma, to every circumstance, to every horrible manifestation of the sin curse.

The Cross is the reason for our hope. The Cross is the promise of something perfect--in stark contrast to this tear-soaked, wrenching, sin-cursed world. The promise is that this is not our home. It is just a place we're rapidly passing through. Our place is secure for us in our real home...Heaven.

We must urge ourselves, and every Christian, to live, and to make decisions based not on this place, but on Heaven. There are all sorts of discomforts we can handle now, for the sake of Heaven.

We must bathe ourselves in the Word, as a reminder of our Hope, which gives us strength. We must commune with the Holy Spirit, who is our comfort and our teacher.

Whatever happens in the coming years in terms of our persecution, remember the reason for your hope. Remember the rewards waiting in eternity for those who surrender fully now...even unto death. Be willing to proclaim Christ, through all, for the glory of God--the glory of God being our joy and our job.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Not An Easy Week For Christians

Not An Easy Week for Christians (Duggars, Culture, Child Protection)

I've never watched a reality show, partially because we haven't had cable in over six years. The whole concept of a reality show seems strange; no one is entirely themselves when on camera, so why the word reality

I don't know much about the Duggars, but I've noticed that headlines regarding them are usually snarky, not respectful. Their show may have its fans or lurkers, but mostly they're hated, much like the overly-covered Kardashians, but for different reasons.

The large family, the patriarchy, the culture of purity and the worship of it, are all big drawbacks for Americans, regarding the Duggars and their Quiver-full movement. Not to mention, the name of Jesus is sure to bring out the haters.

While I want my children to remain pure, I do agree that the worship of purity is dangerous, and while I'd love for my children to enjoy large families, I don't think God is less pleased with smaller families--he's pleased with our heartfelt, sincere worship, period.

Parenting is so very hard; adhering to the best standards while not exasperating our children is a delicate balance. Few things fill our hearts more, nor break them, like parenting.

We may never know if Josh Duggar has a normal sexuality or not; in fact, we rarely know this about anyone unless they're caught doing something deviant. Human sexuality is both a blessing and curse--something which all of history reflects. Not everyone is born with an inherently normal bent, which is a reflection of the sin curse as much as cancer is, unfortunately. I don't know why God allows this, but I know he wouldn't want us to hate, but just to uphold his standards in all things.

Because the world is this way, I don't trust anyone with my children's innocence--not at church, in my own home, or anywhere. As soon as I heard the shocking statistic years ago regarding the percentage of people who've been molested, I took very seriously my responsibility to protect.

Not In My Family (source here
What if you are certain there has never been a child molester or a molested child in your family? You are probably wrong.
Unfortunately, most of today's children will never tell. They feel ashamed that this has happened to them. They are protecting their abuser because he or she is part of their family. They are protecting other members of their family - saving them from the pain of knowing.

In spite of the millions of victims in our families, many people stick to their mistaken belief that child molestation has nothing to do with them.
An estimated one in 20 teenage boys and adult men sexually abuse children, and an estimated one teenage girl or adult woman in every 3,300 females molests children. Although that's well over five million people, most families mistakenly believe that as far as molesters go, there has never been one in their family, and what's more, there never will be. Add together the child victims, the adult survivors, and the abusers, and that's 15 out of every 100 Americans who have been either a molested child or a molester.
Children seldom tell. Those millions of children are a secret. They are the secret in family after family after family. Even adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse seldom tell....We do know that if we use the conservative estimate that two in every ten little girls and one in every ten little boys are victims (based on the population reported in the 1999 U.S. Census statistical abstract) well over three million children are victims. 
Table below and statistics from Child Molestation
The table below shows that child molesters look and seem like the average American man. They are the average American man, so don't hold preconceived notions about who may or may not be capable of this. Read this story on child molestation about a wife who thought her husband would be the last one to do such a thing.

Contrasts: Admitted Molesters vs. All American Men
Admitted Child Molesters
American Men
Married or formerly married
Some College
High School only

Ethnic Groups: Admitted Molesters vs. All American Men

Admitted Child Molesters
American Men
Native American

Which Children Do Child Molesters Target?

Biological Child19%
Stepchild, Adopted or Foster Child30%
Brothers & Sisters12%
Nieces & Nephews18%
Child Left in My Care5%
Child of Friend or Neighbor40%
Child Strangers10%

As much as I love my own much as I respect them and think they're normal, they won't ever be alone with my girls longer than it takes me to go to, and return from, the dollar store (15 minutes). This hasn't happened yet because my oldest son is still only 13--too young for holding down the fort.

In protecting, we need to be just as vigilant about Internet access--also a potential corrupter, as we all know. When neighbor kids bring their smart phones here, I tell them they're welcome to play and exercise here, but they need to leave their smart phones in their pockets or at home, as we don't believe in unsupervised Internet access. 

It's just prudent to never assume it won't happen to our family, and to always be vigilant. No girl or boy should have to carry memories of abuse, and no parent should have to regret not doing more to ensure protection.

The police report being published and indicating sisters as victims devastated those Duggar girls all over again. It was a horrible, inexcusable decision on the part of the magazine or outlet that released it. My heart aches for these women and for the stained Christian witness--for which the Church collectively takes the punch. 

If you caught any stories about the Duggars this week, you saw comments like the following, which I'm sure made your Christian spirit groan:

Religion is a poison. They can do any terrible thing they want and then simply say their gawd forgives them.

    • Avatar

      Well, maybe instead of the "cross" it should be marked with the symbol for poison
      and peeps should be able to call the poison control center for an antidote...

    It's a tough time to be a Christian. It's a tough time to be a human being, what with all the child abuse the world over. 

    We need to hold onto Hope, pray for the lost, and pray Jesus comes soon.

    Friday, May 22, 2015

    Weekly Homeschool and Life Wrap-Up 5/22

    Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

    Giving Thanks
    ~ We serve a glorious God
    ~ Our glorious God groans with us over sin and sickness
    ~ We have love, abundant; mercy, abundant; grace, abundant
    ~ Filled to overflowing, we can love with his power and mercy
    ~ He knows our heart and we know His; Oh, to be loved in spite of ourselves!
    ~ He trains us up in the way we should go
    ~ He gives us power, wisdom, and grace as we parent
    ~ He is our strength and our song
    ~ He is mighty to save

    Activities This Week

    Mary worked on y as the long e sound. (Those are syllable tags)

    She read her beginner's reader Bible everyday and enjoyed it.

    The boys are really enjoying Stowaway, featured last week. Peter, especially, enjoys all the naturalist content (a naturalist and his team are busy on this voyage). We began using The Young Naturalist--part of Core G Sonlight Science, and Peter began a science journal.

    All About Reading Level 3 story

    Some of Beth's "sculptures" using recycling materials.

     More of Beth's creations

    She prayed and prayed and this week, finally...a toad! 

    She looked at him through the magnifying glass. 

    And generally thought of him as a best friend.

      Some summer fun (though winter kind of returned again)--sidewalk chalk, two hoolahoops, bubbles. Beth and Paul enjoyed several games of hopscotch.

     I'm still in whole wheat/flax bread mode 5 to 6 days a week.

     Dancing to the beat of our Christian station.

    A great library book find from Paul. Kept him busy this week.

     Ah, fractions. Least common denominator, greatest common factor..just yuck. Math now takes two hours for Peter, what with ADHD, OCD, and fractions all coming together to derail him. He doesn't focus, doesn't sit still long enough. At least for this unit, which includes long, drawn-out problems, I decided to have him do half a lesson a day (13 problems plus the lecture).

     We were cheered by Compassion International letters this week.

    On my blog this week:

    Becoming a Romans 12 Christian, Part 1
    Becoming a Romans 12 Christian, Part 2
    Preach It, Son
    Messy Glory

    Around the Web

    How to talk to your child about being dyslexic

    Why I don't worry about my homeschoolers' socialization

    Ann Voskamp was instrumental in raising a half-million dollars to help women and children displaced and traumatized by ISIS, through an organization called Preemptive Love Coalition.

    Scientists say child's play helps builds a better brain

    How was your week, friends? Thank you for reading here and have a wonderful Memorial Day!

    Weekly Wrap-Up