2 years today

I have a terrible memory.  If you ask me what I did last weekend, I would probably stare at you with blank eyes and you would wonder if I was alright or if I was hiding some dark secret.  Honestly, the reason I have a blank stare is because I am in shock at myself; my mind is completely blank.  "Last weekend, Open this feed in your default podcast application

Note: If your podcast application does not automatically open the feed after clicking the link above, you can manually add the feed by copying and pasting the following address into the "New Feed" area of the software:

pcast://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcasts/family_radio.aspxlast weekend, what did we do last weekend?"  And I will rack brain trying to remember something to share.

However, if you ask me what I was doing the week before, on and the week after April 26th, 2009 I could give you tons of information of what I was thinking about, who I was talking to, what I was feeling, what I was singing and what God was saying to my heart.  Around 11:55am on Sunday, April 26, 2009 my precious niece Nevaeh Rae Wallace died in an ER while those closest to her stood around in absolute shock.  My life has been forever changed by getting the opportunity to love and be a part of this precious little girl's life.

I have learned from Nevaeh, that every life is significant and precious.  Time is short, so live life well and full of love especially for those closest to you.

Here is a video in memory of Nevaeh:


In Christ,

The Holy Spirit - Our Teacher

Philippians 2:1a
Does your life in Christ give you strength?
Does his love comfort you?
I ran across this Scripture a couple years ago when I was going through a very difficult season.  As I read the questions above, I had to answer no to both questions.  I realized at that moment, that there was a problem and that the way I was operating in that time period wasn't lining up with what God was offering to me.  Even though my answers were no, God's offer was, "it can be, yes!"  Our life in Christ can give us strength and His love can comfort us.

This scenario is a small example of how the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to speak to my heart.  I have had time after time when God will cause His Word to register deep in my heart. 

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active.
 Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even
 to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Word of God is living and active and does apply to our lives today!  The only way to be effected by it, however, is to take time to be in it.

When I have a scenario, like I described above, I like to write down the Scripture(s) in my journal and/or on a notecard.  I often look back over the Scripture throughout the upcoming days, weeks, and sometimes months.  Those verses become a prayer point for me and I pray the Scripture through.  "Lord, please show me where I am relying on myself and not on you.  Teach me how to receive comfort from your love."  As I do this, the Lord begins to speak to my heart in a variety of ways, He begins to strip away the lies that I am hiding beneath and begins to replace them with His Truth.  I ran across these verses again several months after I had written them down and  I was so thankful that when I read them again that I was able to answer the questions with a resounding, "YES."  The Holy Spirit had done a work in me and brought about the changes that were necessary for my answers to change from a definite no to a definite YES!

I share my journey with these verses not because it is the "only" way to go but rather because my prayer is that it will quicken something in your heart to go after God.  He so desires to bring freedom to His children and one way He does it is through His Word (remember Hebrews 4:12).  If you desire God to minister to your heart right where you are at then begin to approach His Word with eager expectation.  When something catches your heart, no matter how small, begin to run with it.  It is good to take His Word and spend time in prayer over it.  Always take your contrary truth and lay it next to His Truth and He will begin to bring transformation to your life.  Sometimes it happens in a matter of minutes, other times a matter of weeks, or months...  He is not intimidated by time, so neither should you be.  Allow the Holy Spirit to be your teacher.

In Christ,

Homeschool Curriculum Review

It is spring!!!!!!!!!!!!  One of my favorite things about spring is that it is time to pick new curriculum for school (yes, I know I am weird).  Now I know most of you probably don't homeschool so you don't have to read this, BUT (DON"T STOP YET), if you know of someone who does homeschool you can pass this along to them.  I write this annual post because I love curriculum, I also love giving credit to the people who help make my homeschooling life a reality and  I also write it because occasionally I do have people who ask me about what I use and I can save myself time and just send them this. 
This past year's curriculum:

I consider Sonlight to be my core curriculum.  I love Sonlight because it is literature based, which means real books are the primary source of learning.  I also love it because it can be used to teach multi-aged children.  We used Grade 2 this year and we were able to do Bible, History, Read-alouds and Science together with my 5 year old and 7 year old.  Sonlight does a beautiful job of correlating the time periods so what you are studying in History, correlates with what you are reading in Bible and your read-alouds.  This bring a richness and depth to your understanding of History. You also study geography right alongside with what you are learning.  I think Sonlight also has an excellent way of dealing with History in a way that acknowledges both the sad and terrible things that have happened in History but also keeps a positive perspective to the reality of the good things that have happened in it.

Here is a little story from our read-aloud time this year.  I personally think the story is cute and shows how much our kids are processing what we are saying, even though we don't always realize it:

We were reading The Apprentice Core 2 and Arduino says "the sons of tailors want to be painters and the sons of painters chefs. I wonder what the sons of chefs would want to be?" My five year old interrupts me and says, "I know. They want to be horseman. Because Hans was a baker (in White Stallions of Lipizza) but wanted to be a horseman."  My daughter had used a book we had previously read, to answer a question in a book we were currently reading.

Sonlight for me means cuddling up on the couch with my kids in my arms reading, learning, crying and laughing together (and yes, I'm learning a ton, too).  It also, as the story above shows, includes lots of interruptions.  I literally can read only about 5 sentences without my kids stopping me to ask a question.  Sometimes it is frustrating, but often it reminds me that this is preciously why I homeschool, to allow my kids to process what they are learning, and process they do.  Finally, Sonlight has a 4-day schedule which allows us to homeschool with flexibility, which I love.

James uses the Sonlight readers for his reading.  Reading finally kicked in for him in high gear and he doesn't want to stop at the recommended stopping points.  We had to start going to the library to supplement his reading need and 5 chapter books lasted one week.  So, I am glad that next year, we went with the advanced readers which added about 9 thick books to his reading list.  Hopefully, this will keep him partially satisfied:)

Math:  Mercea started with Abeka math this year.  While she did learn with it, it was a struggle and very disappointing.  Abeka uses a circular learning method, which means a concept will be introduced and then they get back to it about a week later.  The concepts would totally escape her and by the time the math tests came along, it was often a total disaster!  Fortunately, we made it through the book early and moved on to Christian Light Publications math, which James has used the past two years.  We absolutely LOVE it and Mercea LOVES it and is doing fantastic with it.  Christian Light Math uses a mastery approach, which means only one new concept is introduced a day and the rest of the math time is spent reinforcing the concepts already learned.  They do an amazing job showing the variety of ways you can look at a number and they build upon their concepts in a very logical and orderly manner.  They are also very affordable.  I am 100% satisfied with this math program!!!!!!!!!!

Phonics:  For James, I continued to use Abeka's phonics book to reinforce what he had already learned.  He was able to do the workbook all by himself.  Mercea, is my artistic, creative, dramatic child and reading has been a struggle all year long.  She has great desire which often goes beyond her abilities and unfortunately a lot of reading periods ended in tears.  She also has an amazing ability to write things in mirror image (which means it is completely backwards and reversed, so if you hold it up to a mirror it would be written correctly).  I am college-trained to be a teacher by trade but my daughter was throwing me for some major loops!  Thankfully, the Lord intersected me with the book The Gift of Dyslexia: Why some of the smartest people can't learn to read and how to help them and this book gave me some keys to help Mercea.  While, I don't think she has full-fledged dyslexia she is a very visual learner and the book helped show me where gaps could be taking place and how to help her with the gaps.  It also helped give me more grace and patience while working with her.  She was too young to do the visual reorientation, recommended in the book, so we didn't try those methods.  We have stopped the Abeka phonics method with her and we  moved on to the Sonlight reading program.  Sonlight correlates writing and spelling with what the children are reading in their readers and she just LOVED this.  She loves to write, write, write, so this has allowed her to write what she is reading which in turn is helping her reading ability to improve.

English: We used Susan Wise Bauer's First Language Lessons for a Well-trained Mind for James' English class.  This is a classical learning method which includes directed lessons and verbal responses.  It worked really well for James (and I) in learning about the English language.  Mercea has been listening in and she is starting to chime in with answers so I think it will go well for her too.  As a result of using this program, I did take time to read A Well-Trained Mind.  While I don't feel the need to create a program for myself, I do think Sonlight, infuses the philosophies shared in this book and it helped give me an understanding to the whys behind what I am doing.

We purchased God's World magazine this year.  The kids enjoy it, especially the puzzles and games and it is a great way to keep up with current events from a godly perspective.

Finally, we ran across Homeschool Buyer's Co-op this year.  Homeschool Buyer's Co-op is a free homeschooling organization for both new and veteran homeschoolers. Co-op membership is free and confidential, and entitles homeschooling families to discounts from over a hundred educational suppliers. They also sponsor "Group Buys" for curriculum packages that save homerschooling families lots of money. On the site you'll find lots of free information, such as databases of free curriculum, field trips, and educational contests and scholarships. I recommend this as a way to receive curriculum at a discounted price. We purchased our God's World magazine subscription this year through them.  We also purchased Mark Kistler's 3-d Online drawing program through them.  This is a great drawing program which allows the kids to do art since their mom has no artistic ability.

Are you still with me?  As you can tell, I love homeschooling.  I thank God, usually daily, for the opportunity to be with my kids like this and I thank my wonderful husband for allowing me to be home to teach my kids.  If you ever have any questions about homeschooling feel free to contact me: forhisgloryalone@ymail.com.

Thanks for reading,

PS This post was written because I love homeschooling.  None of the companies I discussed in the post asked me to do a review.  All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. I am entered into a drawing for an i-pad 2 though for my review of Homeschool Buying Co-op but I really do like them!

What are you feeding your kids?

This morning I woke up thinking about Daniel 1:8

But Daniel purposed in his heart
that he would not defile himself with the portion
of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank.
Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs
that he might not defile himself.

In case you do not know the story, Daniel had been taken captive to Babylon.  He has been selected by the kingdom to be trained in the Babylonian ways.  One of the ways of training was for them to eat the food of the kingdom, but the foods presented went against Daniel's principles.  So Daniel purposed in his heart to do things differently; to do things God's way.  Here was the result:

Daniel 1:19-20
And the king communed with them, and among them all was found none
like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore stood they before the king. 
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding
that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better
than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.

This story has always been inspirational to me.  Daniel was given a huge opportunity to be influential in the kingdom of Babylon.  I have no doubts that the food was delicious and very tempting and he could have easily blended in and probably did just fine, but he said "No, I am doing it God's way" and the result made him head and shoulders above the rest.  My challenge from this post will be for us to ask ourselves if we are raising our kid's God's way?  Are our kids standing head and shoulders above their unsaved peers?

Babylon was one of the most influential kingdoms of the time and to be given the opportunity to eat the food  that the king provided had to be huge.  There was probably a choice of a WIDE variety of the very best foods.  But Daniel chose not to look at the opportunities being presented to him, but rather to look at the principles of God and to filter his choices through God's way.

In America, we are incredibly blessed with a wide varieties of opportunities.  Around every corner are things that appear to be very beneficial.  Like Daniel, our kids have the opportunity to "eat" from the very best that this world has to offer right now, but are we as parents willing to step back and choose to do things according to God's principles and not the world's?  Are our expectations in line with His expectations or are they in line with what society says is normal?

I am often amazed when I talk to Christian parents who state the norm in their house is for their children to fight. Our society teaches that there is such a thing called "sibling rivalry" and that this is normal.  As a result, many people tolerate this sort of behavior between their children.  The Bible also taught (first) that yes, we have a sinful nature BUT we have to learn to overcome it with God.   I am also amazed by the common thread in our society that our "kids will outgrow these negative behaviors" and we call these negative behaviors "stages."  While I totally understand that our children do go through stages of negative behavior, the Bible does not call us to laugh it off, wait until the stage passes and/or look the other way.  Instead, as parents, we ARE called to train and discipline our children, and this training can and should produce a DIFFERENCE.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.

I am not saying that the proof you are doing this will be that your children are perfect little angels and never do anything wrong, but rather I am asking the question: are we training them?  The word "training" implies work.  If you have ever exercised and lifted weights you know that it is tiring and not easy, but WHEN you do it there is positive results. Our children should be known for their character. 

Proverbs 20:11
Even a child is known by his doings,
whether his work be pure and whether it be right.

Is that a goal you have for your children in their youth?  That people would know them for the good and the right things that they do?

God challenges us to some pretty big things are Christians: 

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

We are to love our brother and sisters in Christ, serve one another and live at peace with everyone.  What better place for our kids to practice and learn to live this out then in our homes?  As Christian parents, we have been given the opportunity to give our kids a HUGE head start in life and train them on HOW to love, how to live at peace and how to be kind starting right in our own families.

Psalm 127:3b-5
Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.
 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.

Our kids should be a blessing to us, their brothers and sisters and then to the world.  We shouldn't be holding our breath until they grow up to see if they become people of character.  Instead, we should be able to shoot them out of our homes into the world, like a warrior shoots an arrow!  When they leave our homes they should be ready to cause DAMAGE to the kingdom of darkness.
Psalm 127:1
 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

Deuteronomy 6:6-8
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads

Beloved, we truly need the Lord to build our houses for us. In His Word He has clearly told us how.  What we say we believe on Sunday with our hands up in the air, needs to be walked out on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday....  It needs to be a part of our lives from sun up and sun down.  And guess what, applying the Truth of God's Word into our lives, including how we raise our children should, can and will make them different.  So as the title of the post says, "What are you feeding your children?"  Are you feeding them the principles and expectations that this world has to offer or are you feeding them God's way?   As Christians, our families should be DIFFERENT, our children should be DIFFERENT.  The difference should be good, it should be noticeable and when people begin to ask why, we can say with confidence that it is because we are feeding them God's way.

For all my thoughts on parenting click here or for specific issues see the following titles:
Training Children: more of my thoughts on what it means to train our children.
The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness: Is gentleness one of the attributes you possess in your parenting style?
Be Referees: If you are having trouble working with your spouse when it comes to parenting.
Lessons from my Children 1: Valuing Relationships & Lessons from My Children 2: Why we have relationship: Sibling Rivalry?  Here are some thoughts about it.

In Christ,

Treasures in the Dark Places

I went to get my wedding ring cleaned at the jewelers the other day.  As I was waiting, the lady pulled out a ginormous ring for me to try on.  My kids were with me and she asked them how much they thought it was worth. 
My kids, "A hundred?"
The lady, "Try 100,000."

As I'm sure most of you know, most natural diamonds are formed at high-pressure high-temperature conditions existing at depths of 140 to 190 kilometers (87 to 120 mi) in the earth mantle (Wikipedia: diamonds).

One of my favorite Bible verses is from Isaiah 45:3
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the LORD,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.

This verse has been a verse for me to pray and hold on to whenever I am going through a dark place.  There are many different responses that we can take when we are faced with the darkness in our life (whether it comes from within us, or outside of us).  Some responses include running away, avoiding it, denial and despair.  I've tried all those at times.  My most favorite response now is to look to Him.

Here is what the Bible says about darkness:
Psalm 139:12
 But even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night is as light as the day;
darkness and light are the same to you.

Our darkness and the darkness we see around us is NOT more powerful nor is it intimidating to our God.  Dark and light are the same to Him; He has got it all under control.  It's not like God says, "Oh my, look at that dark spot. I didn't see that one coming; I don't know what to do about that."  He knows exactly what to do so we need to take time to listen to Him and trust Him.

So instead of running away from the darkness, I am learning to sit in my darkness and to wait on Him.  In the process, I often cling to Isaiah 45:3 knowing that I can emerge with treasures from those dark places.  When I have done this, I have always left those dark times with a deeper understanding of Him, His character and love; true treasures that reside deep within my heart and can never be stolen.

Let God meet you in those dark places and TRUST in Him through it all.  He is the only one that can lead you through and the treasures you'll receive make it worth enduring the darkness.

In Christ,

The Body of Christ

I have a passion for the body of Christ and a passion to see each member of the body of Christ released and operating in who and what God created them to be and do.  I believe if we get an understanding of what the Bible actually has to say about the body of Christ and learn to walk in it we will continue to see the body of Christ rise up and become a healthier entity.

I have been reflecting on the body of Christ for quite sometime.  This past week I was reading in The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and it articulated many of my thoughts in a clear manner.  The following post will contain several points which I have been reflecting on about the church and it will be led by thoughts from the book.

1.Sunday services are not the body of Christ but rather a vital TOOL and ministry OF the body of Christ. 

What is the body of Christ?  Every single believer, at ALL times, wherever you ARE, carries the body of Christ within you.  Again, as I said in How to be Strong, we often get this wrong because we view Sunday service as our time to meet with God and then WE leave to our regular lives, where we "try" to be Christians FOR God.

Here is a quote from The Cost of Discipleship on pg 258 "This is how the Church invades the life of the world and conquers territory for Christ.  For whatever is "in Christ" has ceased to be subject to the world of sin and law.  No law of the world can interfere with this fellowship.  The realm of Christian love is subject to Christ, not to the world."  When you enter the world in your everyday life and do it "in Christ" (Ephesians 2:10) you carry with you the authority of the kingdom of God.  You have power and authority over the world of sin and death and you carry within you the power of love of Christ into those dark places!  This is how we bring the kingdom of God into this world!

2.  Sunday services have a place in the ministry to the body of Christ but we must not confuse its purpose.  Cost of Discipleship pg 250 "The Word of God seeks a Church to take unto itself.  It has its being in the Church.  It enters the Church by its own self-initiated movement.  It is wrong to suppose that there is so to speak a Word on the one hand and a Church on the other, and that it is the task of the preacher to take that Word into his hands and move it so as to bring it into the Church and apply it to the Church's needs.  On the contrary, the Word moves of its own accord, and all the preacher has to do is to assist that movement and try to put no obstacles in its path.  The Word comes forth to take men to itself; the apostles knew that... It is this same Word which now makes its entry into the Church."  It is God that desires to speak to us through His Word and He has a message for us through our preachers.  This is one method by which God still speaks and ministers to His body.

3.  God has established specific ministries TO the body of Christ.
There can be no denying that there are specific ministries appointed to minister, uplift, serve and encourage the body of Christ.  Cost of Discipleship pg 253, "Apostles, prophets, teachers, overseers, deacons, elders, presidents, and helpers (1 Cor 12:28, Eph 2:20, 4:11) are ministers OF the Church, the Body of Christ... Thus, although the Church is at liberty to adapt the form of its order according to contemporary needs, any attack on that order from without means an attack on the visible form of the Body of Christ itself."  I believe it is important to recognize the order of the church and to appreciate that which God has appointed to take care of and minister to the body.  In American society today, I think there is an attack against established authority and I see it quietly and slowly leaking into the church.  If God has not given you a ministry to the body of Christ in one of these forms it does NOT mean you are inferior or not needed, instead we should  appreciate, support and honor these other parts of the body without jealously or feelings of inferiority.  God has appointed these specific roles and to try and function without them I believe is dangerous.

4. Every part of the body is important and needed.
I Corinthians 12 discusses how the body of Christ is like the body.  How each person in the body is a different part and that we can't all be the same part and that we need each other.  The truth seems so simple and obvious but I think that the body of Christ does not "get it" and as a result the body of Christ is paralyzed in many ways.  As I have walked through Christianity I have met many people who feel "insufficient" in Christ.  They are not doing enough because they are comparing themselves to other Christians.  They see people who can evangelize with ease and they know they could never do that and as a result the go to church and they sit in the pews feeling inadequate and ashamed.  I think this is sad and it is currently a very effective strategy of the enemy to paralyze the body of Christ.

Let's read I Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.   Now to who?  EACH ONE.  Every person in the body of Christ has a role to play and it will look and act and feel as different as an eye is to a hand to ear to a foot.  Each of those body parts act differently because they serve a different role. 

Last year in our Sonlight curriculum, I read the biography of George Muller with my kids.  He took care of thousands of orphans in Britain in the 1800's.  The amazing thing about him is he didn't ever ask for a penny.  He believed and trusted God to provide and guess what God always provided.  But do you know what the other amazing thing was.  Money and food and shelter did not appear out of thin air, not once.  Every single need during this man's ministry came through real people.  And George recorded every donation even if it was only a half-pence, because it mattered.  Yes, George Muller had an amazing faith and God used him to do amazing things but the body of Christ was amazing too at that time.  Thousands of people responded to the voice and prompting of God and brought food, milk, money at just the right time and just the right moment.

Which leads me back to the point.  We are not all going to be George Muellers.  We are not all going to be written down in human history to be remembered.  But you know what is true, we are ALL significant and we are each needed to allow the body of Christ to function healthily.

5. You carry the body of Christ within you everyday, everywhere you go so recognize it.
The Cost of Discipleship pg 254-255 "The Church needs space not only for her liturgy and order, but also for the daily life of her members in the world. The fellowship between Jesus and his disciples covered EVERY aspect of their daily life. In the Christian life the individual disciple and the body of Jesus belong inseparably together. The first disciples learnt the truth of the saying that where their Lord is, there they must also be, and where they are, there also will their Lord be until the world comes to the end.  That is why the law, which governs the life of the Body of Christ, is that where one member is, there the whole body is also."

I Corinthians 7:20-24
Each one of you should stay the way you were when God called you.
 If you were a slave when God called you, do not let that bother you.
But if you can be free, then make good use of your freedom.
Those who were slaves when the Lord called them are free persons who belong to the Lord.
In the same way, those who were free when they were called are now Christ's slaves.
You all were bought at a great price, so do not become slaves of people.
Brothers and sisters, each of you should stay as you were when you were called,
and stay there with God.

Page 259  of the Cost of Discipleship "The first disciples had to leave everything to follow Jesus.  Now we are told to remain where we were called.  How are we to reconcile this contradiction?  Only by recognizing the underlying motive both of the call of Jesus and of the exhortation of the apostle.  In both cases it is the same - to bring their hearers into the Body of Christ.  The only way the first disciples could enter that fellowship was by going with Jesus.  But now through Word and Sacrament the body of Christ is no longer confined to a single place."

In conclusion, my prayer for this post is that it would encourage and inspire you to be the body of Christ in whatever manner and place the Lord has called you to be.  I pray that you understand that if you are an everyday worker in the world, you have just as much need and importance to the body of Christ as the minster on Sunday.  But that you would also recognize that the minister on Sunday has a role in encouraging and uplifting you to be who you are in the body of Christ.  We all need each other to operate in a healthy manner.  We carry the power of Christ in us and His desire and plan IS to invade the world through every one of His children.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

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