Friday, February 24, 2012

Check Points

I have used it for the last 4 years to keep track of ALL of our lesson plans.  It use to just be a Unit Planner because that was how we schooled.  But now it is a "Lesson Planner" and I keep forgetting to change the label!

It functions well for our family, everything in one place.  Especially since I have found lesson plans in list form, vs. the ones written in each day, to be more conducive to our family and learning styles (more wiggle room).

It looks like a mess from here, and the key to the "code" I use for materials is at the bottom of the page.  But, really, this way is soooo great for keeping track of how far we are, what we have left, and so on.

Recently I pulled the History and Science tabs out and tucked them into my folder to take to the library and review while the kids worked (I didn't want to cart the binder because we were walking and I was cutting down on weight to carry).  However, I ended up busy going through other paperwork while we were there and the tabs stayed in my folder for a few weeks as our family endured sickness and business of various kinds.

I go to such lengths to explain all this because something remarkable happened as I pulled them out of my folder and clipped them back into their place this week...

I tallied up weeks left (we aim to be done before the boys' birthdays in the first week of June... long story for another day).  It didn't look good.  We seemed hopelessly off course.  18 weeks worth of work and only 13-14 weeks left of school. 

What to do.

Straightening the papers that still remained in the folder I came across what I thought were some notes for homeschool focus and goals.  I really began reflecting on if we were reaching our stated agenda for the year:

  1. Are we doing what God has called us to do?
  2. Is God's work noticeable in my life?
  3. Are we on fire for God's work?

Then I looked at the sub notes under the questions.  I remembered it being a list of check points I had noted from somewhere else.  I was planning on using them for some other work I am doing... and forgot!  I also realized the core of a faithful homeschool should be reflecting these values. 

So I made my own list of how to achieve the check points:

  • Bible Study is Priority - FIRST every morning (First works best for us)
  • Remember that we are working for the Lord not for man
  • It isn't about knowledge for man, rather, knowledge so GOD's brilliance can shine through
  • We don't need to be geniuses (God can and does use  even the foolish things of this world...) but we need to grow the abilities God has given us.  Faith + knowledge = impressive!

As the list grew I sought the Spirit for understanding and application.  I thought of questions I could pose to the kids...
  1. God's Word gives life... is it at the center of every day?  Not just a.m. study... but in understanding all aspects of each day.
  2. Do I turn to him when I struggle with my school work?  
  3. Are my words and actions measured with love... where can I improve?
  4. Do we take opportunities to do for others and share during our day?
  5. Are we sharing about Jesus with others?

As I looked back at my lists I realized God was reminding me of the value of HIM at the center of our homeschool.

So we are off schedule a bit... it will all work out.  Reading those extra few books, taking un-lesson related field trips, doing fun and messy un-time restricted projects... that can still be done through the summer (and boy, I can't wait for summer now!). 

For now, we still have a lot of fun, interactive and exciting things left to do this school year.  But the most exciting part of all is remembering WHO we are schooling for and why the forward motion (not necessarily the speed) is what progresses us to that final Destination... and isn't that Destination grand!?!

I pray you have peace no matter where you are in your lesson plans... to know Who you travel with makes the progress towards your destination that much more fun!

Have a most blessed weekend,

Linking up with Sue today at:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Revelations of Old... and New

It was an OLD study Bible.  The kind where all the numbers were in Roman Numerals.  The edges of the pages reflected years of use and the leather binding was warn and frayed on the edges.

In its vintage, it was remarkably well taken care of and there it sat on a shelf with two younger siblings in a room meant for various meetings.  This meeting had us opening pages to Ephesians 2.

The old Indian woman sitting beside me, barely younger than this particular Bible, had either mis-read or wasn't paying attention... I couldn't say which, but I glanced over to see "Ephesians V" at the top of the faded white page.

We had flipped through that Bible together, other than its wear, I saw that it was flawless.  But here, in Ephesians 5, something was remarkably different.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  
- Ephesians 5:22

RED ink underlined this passage, drew a line to the top margin and scribbled in small, barely legible cursive:

 "Many Christians today are not on fire for the Lord."
I was moved as I realized, as wives (and even husbands) if we wholly, completely and truly submitted to the Lord... ON FIRE for Him... we would not have a problem "submitting" to our husbands.  We wouldn't have trouble with honor, respect, and a slew of other mutually beneficial attributes in marriage.... even when we don't agree.

I may be crazy... but it is a thought.

Be on fire... be blessed,

Linking up with Somegirl today:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Radical Christianity

I don't consider myself a religious person.  I know, that may sound weird coming from a missionary mama with a Faithful homeschooling website.  But seriously, I despise that term.  Religion is man-made and while I do believe in being part of a church... simply following a religion is flawed.

I am a Christian and I will correct people who call me religious.  I don't follow man, I follow Christ... I am Christian.

I make that distinction because it is Ash Wednesday.  I love Ash Wednesday but not for the religious aspect.  I love Ash Wednesday for the Jesus aspect.  When I am part of a church which has a service and places ashes on the forehead... I will gladly step forward and do so. 

Not for religion... but for God.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
- Luke 4:1

Jesus stepped forward into the wilderness for 40 days.  He prayed, he fasted, he was tempted, and most importantly, he prepared for his ministry.  A ministry that would alter the course of humanity and give hope to the world.

Yes, I love Ash Wednesday.  I love how at the end of 40 days a hope, HIS ministry culminated, is played out over Easter weekend.  Our lives are nothing without Easter weekend.

But back to Ash and religion vs. Christianity.

When I was a child I had a friend who took part in Ash Wednesday services and shared with our circle of friends what she was "giving up" for lent.  No chocolate, no red meat, no this, not that... all items of a material nature and, while they are commendable, I look back on those vows made by many (even myself at times) and realize how God is calling us to do so much more.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
- Joel 2:12

We may not need to "weep" or "mourn" for our savior has come.  But we can deeply and truly seek Him "with all our heart".  Jesus didn't just lay aside a craving or indulgence... no, he set himself apart for 40 days from anything and everything so he might focus more on His Father and his mission ahead.  He offered up himself for purification and testing of that purification.

Shouldn't we attempt to do the same?  On KOG today I wrote about a fasting of our Spirit, a step away from the things of this World for the things of His Kingdom.  This is the fast I choose in a world of religious hum-drum; to take a stand reflecting a life of radical Christian living. 

Churches are great, but we should never get into a religious hum-drum, forgetting the heart of our faith and Who is living in us and through us and our responsibility to respond first to God and then to man.

I do respect everyone's own way of honoring our King and this time of year... However you enter this Lenten season, I pray your heart grows closer to Christ in all you do.

May, to you, many blessings pour out,

Monday, February 20, 2012

When Angry Bug Bites

I was 21 and it was Spanish.  Attempting to get some high school years neglected college pre-reqs out of the way so I could enroll at the university.  Married to the military, baby-in-tow, I was hoping to memorize as many terms as possible so I could kick-butt on my final exam. 

I didn't talk to God at that time.  I did my own thing.

A young military wife and neighbor arrived at my door.  She was collecting phone-numbers and basic contact information to put together a neighborhood phone book of sorts so if anyone had a need we would just be 7 number pushes away.

But she was interrupting me. 

No thank you wasn't enough... she persisted... she was pushy... I SNAPPED.  It wasn't pretty.

I can't tell you how many times in the last 20 years I have regretted that moment.  Maybe she was pushy, but she was trying to do something nice: create community among a disassembled mass of bodies all placed far from home.

But I couldn't' see that.

I was too busy, honed in on my own agenda.  The two minutes of hospitality I could have taken would have saved the years of disappointment in myself that resulted.

I have been "reborn" for many years now, yet even in a state of re-birth, tempers can still flare.  I like to think that my faith walk and age has progressed me past the hot-headed impulsive state I once was.  But anger is an ugliness that touches every Christians life, no matter how righteous they seek to live.

It is so ugly, in fact, saying the word "anger" is often treated like half the 4-lettered-words out there we try to avoid to keep from looking ugly. 

A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back  
- Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)

No one wants to consider themselves a "fool".  But like it or not, that is how we look when we give way (especially quickly and easily) to the bite of the angry bug.

  • Often you are not blowing up over the thing that is really at the root of your frustration
  • "My response is my responsibility"
  • Arguments often happen when reality and expectations collide
  • The battle starts in your mind

The pastor ran a gamut on anger this Sunday but he more specifically centered it around relationships.  Today I feel compelled, however, to consider anger from the perspective of our thoughts and reactions.  These, after all, effect our relationships.

When the angry bug bites me I find myself asking:
  • Am I snapping at others because they are interrupting me....
  • ...if so, is what I am doing so important that it can't be set aside for a moment of someone else's time
  • Am I hurt or upset because I am falling short and someone else is noticing
  • ... does it really matter that I am falling short?  Should I allow someone else's words or expectations to hurt me
  • Am I remembering God's timing and God's expectations are the two most important measuring points in my life?

It is in our perspective and understanding that we find both hurt and healing.

Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others.  Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.  ' 
Philippians 4:8 (TLB)

I am, by no means, perfect.  But in the years of many hurts and opportunities (and giving-in-tos) of allowing the hurt to get to me God revealed the above truth from Philippians as one of the most powerful central points to healing and moving forward.

We shouldn't be one of those hurt people that hurt people.  We can CHOOSE to break the chains of bondage that push us to respond unkind and begin responding in-kind.

Does the recipient deserve it?  Maybe not.  But did we deserve God's ultimate grace as Jesus hung on the cross?  No... but we received it anyway.

Go in grace this week.  May the peace and love of Christ push out any hurt and anger that might dwell in the corners of your life.

Be most blessed,

Joining Michelle today at:

Friday, February 17, 2012

When Writing Seems Hard

This week I was blessed with the opportunity to submit an article to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's digital newsletter, The Homeschool Minute.  As I prepared an answer to the idea, "When Writing Seems Hard" God put today's blogging on my heart and felt compelled to share...

When writing seems too hard, are we talking structure or form? We have struggled in our homeschool with both-from getting my hyperactive child to focus on one idea and relaying it comprehensively to watching my son with dysgraphia squeeze his pencil tightly, as if willing the letters to look right to his own dyslexic eyes. Writing has not been an easy art for us.
When first homeschooling, I thought my children HAD to do it by-the-book. Just like public school: Teach a lesson, see results.
Not exactly.
Submitting the matter in prayer, I found a way to claim peace. The hard part would be letting go of what I thought they HAD to do and remembering all God requires of them . . . and me.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 
-Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 
 -Colossians 3:14 (ESV)

God showed me where I was caring more about what others thought (especially my critics) instead of giving my children the tools they needed to succeed (which for a time were more like crutches). I had been exasperating them with expectations they just couldn't meet. I was complicating the process of learning and ignoring the fact that all things, through the Lord and love, would work together to produce results.
If God gave grace . . . surely I could too.
We began using copywork. I read articles from seasoned homeschoolers who recommended this form of writing for training children in good grammar and structure. Through using good literature excerpts, the children's structure and spelling has improved far more than when I simply taught a lesson and expected understanding and results. They have grown in their ability to contain thoughts and focus main ideas as well. Their own writing projects are seeing far fewer red marks and much more praise!
A wonderful bonus: Some copywork comes from Scripture. It has helped them learn new verses and planted a desire to copy more! I often see them copying their latest favorite verse to save! God is winning their hearts and growing their abilities!
As for my dysgraphic child, I submitted to letting him trace and accepted dictation on big projects and rough days. His handwriting actually improved, and his frustration declined! His writing will always be wild and messy when he's not trying, but he can finally contain his letters and space when needed, something he could never do before.
I praise God for His guidance through the times when the very idea of contained writing seemed hopeless.
The simple answer to when teaching writing is hard: Let go of your inhibitions, ease up on your expectations, and see your children as God does; individually and with love. Learn how you can grow their skills using their strengths and trusting the Lord with each step. Learning gaps and naysayers will quickly be closed and quieted--the results will speak for themselves.
No two weeks are the same in our homeschool.  Brenden, with his Dysgraphia and Dyslexia, will always struggle but he tries hard and makes steady progress.  He no longer groans or protests writing and reading.  Ashley, my 13 year old ADHD (and stubborn) child, still puts up a fight sometimes. Just this week she was protesting writing up interview questions because she just [didn't] want to

But any week and every week of homeschool I would rather take the blunt then not have that precious (even in the rough spots, precious) time.

That is just one mom's week and experience in homeschooling!

Have a wonderfully blessed weekend!

Copyright, 2012. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Homeschool Minute, February 14, 2012. Visit The Old Schoolhouse® at  to view a full-length sample copy of the magazine especially for homeschoolers. Sign up for The Homeschool Minute here.