Monday, March 10, 2014

Wisdom and Peace

James 3:16-18

16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

This jumped right off the page at me this morning. I got to "disorder and every vile practice" and thought, "What did that verse just say leads to disorder and vile practices?" When I saw selfish ambition was part of the cause it made sense. I can get selfish in my ambitions during the day with my children and that often leads to disorder!

But the last two verses gave me something to shoot for. I want that wisdom from above. The kind that is...

pure
peaceable
gentle
open to reason
full of mercy and good fruits
impartial
sincere

And James 1:5 says that if I lack wisdom and ask God to give it to me, He will do it!

Let's make peace by sowing a harvest of righteousness in peace.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rebuttal

A few friends sent me a link to Enjoying God's (Sometimes Gluten-Free) Bounty.  This article brings some needed balance to the posts by Toby Sumpter here and here.  Thanks for sending me the rebuttal ladies!  There are some helpful thoughts here!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bible Time

Someone recently asked me what we do for our evening Bible time and I typed up a reply. I thought there might be other people looking for some ideas so I tidied my e-mail up a bit and here it is. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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We have tried lots of things for Bible time through the years and we are always changing and moving things around. But, I'll be happy to share some of the things we have done. First of all, we always try to keep the our children engaged and having a good time. We don't look at it primarily as a training time. There is a bit of training that goes on (sit in your seat, don't bother your brother, you need to be singing, etc), but most of the actual training for these things should happen at other times. Bible time should never be the hardest part of their day if you know what I mean! The basic format that we have used for quite some time is this:

Singing (1-4 songs usually depending on how much time we have)
Reading the Bible
Praying
More singing (usually one more song).

I'll take each element and expound a bit.

Singing We have used:

*Chanted Psalms. My husband spent some time learning how to do this and it has really helped the boys memorize the passages easily

*Fun Sunday School type songs. Zacchaeus, Jesus Loves Me, Only a Boy Named David, Father Abraham

*Hymns. We sometimes work on ones that we sing often in church and other times use some that are simply easy for the kids to pick up and have meaty lyrics.

*Psalms (mostly word for word from the ESV) set to fun lively music. We LOVE Jamie Soles and Sons of Korah for this.

*Children's Scripture memory songs The Harrow Family and Steve Green are great options.

*General Christian kids songs. Again Jamie Soles is amazing. He is our favorite. Judy Rogers is also great.

*Contemporary Christian music. We are pretty selective about the feel of the music, but we like some of Matt Maher and Keith Green among others.

We basically mix it up, take requests, and try to create an atmosphere where they are actively participating and not embarrassed to worship God with their voices. Sometimes we will get up and dance with the kids during part of the singing time. Sometimes we all raise our hands together. When the kids are all little and are not reading yet, it can help to play some of the songs during the day. It is amazing how they pick up the words without trying!

Reading the Bible

Earlier this year we were reading the New Testament portion of everyone's daily Bible reading. We would all read it separately (along with a bit of the Old Testament) in the morning and then when we had evening Bible time Jeremy would read it again and we could talk about it. This also helped the non-readers to feel a part and hear that passage too. However, about half way through the year we realized that our younger boys were missing some of the basic Bible stories that our older boys knew. We changed things up and brought out the children's Bibles again. We like the Big Picture Story Bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible. We read a passage and talk about it a lot (especially if the storybook Bible says something that is not in the actual Bible). Sometimes we like to cover large chunks of Scripture and other times we take it slow. We don't want to dumb it down, but we also want to engage them at their own level. We have used the DVD's of Acts and Matthew. They are word for word from the text and are so helpful and bringing it to life! We just watch a chapter or two at a time and talk about them. We have also used the Picture Smart Bible. The kids enjoyed that a lot. It guides you in tracing (or coloring for younger kids) a picture that summarizes each book of the Bible. In the past we have used this time for Memory work and a few catechism questions, but we have moved those things into my homeschooling time during the day. The Bible reading part changes a lot based on the ages of your kids. But, I encourage people to just jump in a do something. You can always change things or tweak your plan along the way.

A VERY important aspect to this time is that we follow rabbit trails. If the kids have a question about anything at all, we usually talk about it at length and everyone ends up involved. Sometimes it comes from the text and other times it does not. But our kids know that there is no topic that is off limits. They can ask us anything and we will do our best to answer them in a thorough (and generally age appropriate) way. We have talked about work, sex, marriage, stealing, why some people don't go to church, homosexuality, whether we can trust the Bible, how we know God is real, and many other topics. Their honest questions are welcome. It is amazing what they come up with! And, as we handle all these questions we try to come across in a very gracious and loving way toward those that we might disagree with. For instance, if they ask why some people don't have communion every week, we explain why they don't, why we do, and that they are still our brothers and sisters in Christ and we are all one in Him. We don't want these conversations to raise self righteous, nit picky Christians.

Praying

This is something that we are still working on. We always keep a short list in our minds of the people that specifically need prayer right then. We focus on thanking God for many things, We sometimes use the Psalm that we sang as a springboard for our prayer. We often end with the Lord's prayer. Sometimes only Jeremy prays and other times we all take turns, or just let whoever wants to pray. Sometimes we kneel at the couch. Other times we raise our hands and look up to the sky. We have tried to teach them to close their eyes and fold their hands when appropriate, but we also don't want them to think that is is required by the Bible (since it isn't :0). We also sometimes intercede for specific areas where the church is persecuted. We have talked about having a plan for when we pray for what or keeping some kind of journal to keep track of how God has seen fit to answer our prayers, but right now we are just praying, I did begin a book called Prayer Saturated Kids and I look forward to the ideas that they will give in that book.

Singing

More of the songs I mentioned above.

For a while we were doing a short Bible time in the morning as well. That has not worked with our schedules here as well and so we have just been having everyone do their individual daily reading first thing in the morning. But, I LOVE singing about the Lord with my family in the morning. What a great way to start the day! Actually, maybe I will work that in before breakfast tomorrow!

We have done our Bible time in a variety of locations. We did it around the table for a while. Sometimes if it is late then we will do it in the boy's bedroom. But, we usually do it in the living room.

We do it nearly every night, but if we get home at 11:00 then we just tuck the kids in say a quick prayer with them or just kiss them goodnight. We want them to know that it is a normal and regular part of our life, but that it is not a sin to skip it if we get in late. Also, when we have church on Sunday nights we don't do it after we get home from that because we look at that time with the whole church as our Bible time.

Now our older kids lead it sometimes if Jeremy is gone. We tell them they are the man of the house and they enjoy getting to pick the songs, read the Bible, and lead the prayer time. They have even done it when we were both gone and they were here with a baby sitter. This is a great time to encourage them to lead in a humble servant like way. We are careful to notice if they are lording it over their brothers and nip that in the bud. We also encourage the other brothers to accept the leadership of the boy leading and not make it hard for him to lead. So far they have responded very well.

Sometimes one or two of ours have had trouble focusing and singing loud and strong or paying attention to the Bible reading. This is a time when we really do pick our battles. As I mentioned before, we don't want it to feel like a time when they can't do anything right. We cover over a little extra during this time. But occasionally we do have to call someone out about not participating or being silly. We try not to belittle them, but we are firm in letting them know how we expect them to act and that they don't need to be hamming in up when we are reading God's word. Sometimes we have worked with them one on one to make them feel comfortable singing out or to help them develop the skill of listening and looking at someone who is reading/speaking to them.

One of the things that I think they get out of this time is watching us enjoy God's Word, singing to Him and praying to Him. We show them how to do it and they follow us. And that reminds me…the Devil will try to thwart your plans! Make it a priority to work with your husband in this area and encourage each other's efforts.

As I said above, don't worry about it being perfect. Start out simple and just open God's Word with your kids. You will never regret spending time that way :0).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Spoon

 I read Virtue Begins with a Spoon long ago and have remembered it's wise words.  Here is a snippet:

"Let me state my thesis outright: The quest of Wisdom commences with learning how to eat. The most basic steps towards virtue are mastered at the family table. Character begins with etiquette. Teach a child how to dine like a human being, and you have gone wonderfully far in his education."

What things does a child learn at the table? More than I thought.  Please check out his post here and see what he has to say.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

My Creed

My Creed
by Edgar Guest

To live as gently as I can;
To be, no matter where, a man;
To take what comes of good or ill
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best, and let that stand
The record of my brain and hand;
And, then should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.

To have no secret place wherein
I stoop unseen to shame or sin;
To be the same when I'm alone
As when my every deed is known;
To live undaunted, unafraid
Of any step that I have made;
To be without pretense of sham
Exactly what men think I am.

To leave some simple mark behind
To keep my having lived in mind;
If enmity to aught I show,
To be an honest, generous foe,
To play my little part, nor whine
That greater honors are not mine.
This, I believe, is all I need
For my philosophy and creed.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Scripture Songs

There is no easier way to get the Word of God into your head that to set it to music.  We love to have music like this playing around our house and in the car.  It's amazing how much you can memorize just by singing along.  Here are some that we enjoy.  The albums that I mention are word for word scripture and most of these links have samples to the music.

Jamie Soles Ascending, Pure Words, and Songs From the 40s, 50s, and 60s 
The Sterlings 
Sons of Korah
Steve Green and here
The Harrow Family
Judy Rogers Never Be Shaken
Kelly Crawford The download is half off right now!

Jame Soles, and Judy Rogers also have WONDERFUL children's CDs that are full of meaty lyrics that help your whole family understand the Bible better.  Jeremy and I love them as much as the kids do.  Both are highly recommended!


Monday, July 29, 2013

School Curriculum 2013-2014

First, I would like to say that I post this because I REALLY enjoy reading what others have posted on this topic.  It has helped me a great deal to look at what others have used year after year.  Each family has such different needs that there is no one-size-fits-all plan.  But, this is our plan for this year.  *Check out the Art/Music/History section for something I am really excited about.*  I have Aiden in 5th grade, Alex in 4th, Riley in 2nd, Remy in Kindergarten and Oliver (14 months) getting into things, climbing on top of stuff, and being adorable :0).

Second, I need to briefly summarize how things work around here.  I keep my kids moving at their own grade/learning level in the skill areas: reading, writing, grammar, spelling, handwriting, math, and Greek.  Those are things that kids have to learn how to do incrementally. They are also the things that teach them how to teach themselves.  We lump the rest together and do it as a family as much as we can (see Circle Time).  Science, history, Bible, poetry, art, music, etc. are content areas.  They are things that the kids are going to learn about again and again.  You can never teach them ALL of it, but it's my goal to give them access to a ton of different things from lots of different categories in a fun way.

So, to sum up, we focus on nailing the three R's (Reading wRiting, and aRithmetic) and then just have fun with the rest.  Here is our plan for this year.

Aiden (5th Grade)
Reading: Assigned fiction books from me and lots of other "just for fun" books
Writing: Writing with Skill level 1
Spelling: All About Spelling
Grammar: Rod and Staff Grammar level 5
Vocabulary: Vocabulary from Classical Roots
Math: Saxon level 6/5
Greek: Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek level 3
Piano lessons

Alex (4th Grade)
Reading:Assigned fiction books from me and lots of other "just for fun" books
Writing: Writing with Ease level 4
Spelling: All About Spelling and Explode the Code book 3 1/2
Grammar: First Language Lessons level 4
Handwriting: Italic book D
Math: Saxon level 5/4
Greek: Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek level 3

Riley (2nd Grade)
Reading: Assigned fiction books from me and lots of other "just for fun" books
Writing: Writing with Ease level 2
Spelling: All About Spelling and Explode the Code book 3
Grammar: First Language Lessons level 2
Handwriting: Italic book C
Math: Saxon level 2
Greek: Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek level 2

Remy (Kindergarten)
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading LOVE this book.  I've used it with all my boys.
Get Ready For the Code
Learn Your Letters Learn to Serve  This is my first year using this and I LOVE it!  It is a fun crafty program that is extremely low key and user friendly.  My favorite part is that each week you are thinking of people who's name begins with the letter of the week.  You pray for them and make something for them and deliver it (or you could serve them in some way).  This has been GREAT for Remy.  He looks them in the eye and says, "I made this for you." We made little notes to hand to them explaining what he is doing.
Mathematical Reasoning level A
Lots of picture books that begin with the letter of the week.
All About Spelling We are easing into this and using it mainly to teach the phonograms.  Nothing too heavy, but it helps with his phonics skills.

**The Things We Do All Together**

Bible- Our most important subject.  The first part of this post has some good things to say on the subject.  We try to get them used to reading it as a discipline while also making it something they truly enjoy and something our family enjoys talking about together.

Aiden and Alex are reading through the Bible in a year with the same schedule that Jeremy and I are using.  Riley is reading the New Testament part of our schedule.  At 7:30 we are all in the living room reading our own selections for that day (one of the kids goes outside to read...he says it's more quiet :0).  Remy looks at a picture Bible if he is up at this time.  Then in the evening when we do our family Bible time Jeremy reads the New Testament reading for the day and we chat about it.  That way the readers are hearing for the second time and usually have something to say about it and Remy gets to hear it even though he can't read it himself yet.  We also pray and sing songs during this evening time.

Aiden, Alex, and Riley copy a portion of the Bible each day.  Right now they are working through Psalm 119.  We read one chapter from Proverbs at lunch (the chapter that matches the day of the month).  I can't say enough about reading Proverbs to your kids.  It helps them and me as we work through discipline issues throughout the day.

Prayer is another focus of the year.  We want to help the kids learn how to pray and for it to be a natural part of their life.  I'm reading Prayer Saturated Kids for some practical ideas.

I also want to start using this plan for scripture memory again.

Aiden and Alex are reading Who is God together as often as they can comfortably fit it in.

Art/Music/History- This is my first year to really get creative and have fun with things in my own way.  A friend of mine from church told me about a popular co-op that teaches history to the upper grades in a unique way.  They teach about scientists (their lives and inventions) and how they impacted history (or were affected by the period of history they were in).  I thought I could do the same thing with artists and composers!  So I picked out some of the most popular artists and composers and organized them in order of date.  I'm going to try to cover artists and composers from the same time period at the same time.  I am keeping it low key.  I'm just reading books about them, looking at pictures, listening to music, and doing art projects that I never used to make time for.  Here are some of the resources I am using:

Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists
What Makes A Monet a Monet (and others in the series)
Books by Diane Stanley
Books by Laurence Anholt 
Activity book by Laurence Anholt that goes with his picture books
Smart About Art series
Who Was Pablo Picasso (and others in the series)
Professor Noggins History of Art
Usborne Art Flash Cards and these
Usborne Book of Famous Paintings
The Life of Leonardo DaVinci
The Story of Painting
The Story of Art Sticker Book
Steve Augarde's Leonardo DaVinci
Discovering Great Artists
Artistic Pursuits

Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers
Opal Wheeler Biographies of composers
The Gift of Music
Classical Music for Dummies
Beethovan Lives Upstairs and other Classical Kids CDs
Nest Entertainment History Videos
Children's Music Masters CDs
Masters of the Renaissance by Jim Weiss
Any other great biographies I found.

Poetry- I don't know much about poetry, but we are jumping in anyway.  I am simply reading a poem every day by the same author for a week or more.  That is it.  We are just getting our feet wet one poet at a time.  One of the ones we are starting with is here.

 Science-We took the plunge and signed up for a Supercharged Science Mastery Program.  Aiden LOVES science and wants to do projects all the time.  I spent about a month researching and did not find any negative reviews for this program and tons of really impressed moms.  So far...we love it too!  It looks like just what we have been wanting.  It is a bit confusing to figure out what is available so contact me if you want some more info.

Read Alouds-I am just picking great books to read aloud to the kids.  I sometimes use this time for chapter books about artists or composers, but I also take breaks from that and read a classic book or extra picture books.

Last, but not least, we make sure the boys fit in exercise, playing outside, and enjoying nature.  And we encourage them to think of ways to serve people on a regular basis.

Well, that about sums it up!  Thanks for stopping by.








Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dressed for Success

How do you look most mornings at 10:00 a.m.?  How do your children see you each day?  Are you ready for the job that you have to do?  Are you dressed for it? 

Here are two articles that I read long ago and I remember them both often.

Dressing to the Shoes by Flylady
I have been doing this for years and it makes a big difference in feeling ready to go.

The View from Childhood by Charlotte Siems
I would also say that you can look cute and put together in a cute pair of sweats, a t-shirt, and some tennis shoes.  The point I got from her article is to fix your hair, put some make-up and earrings on, and look nice.  Don't wear stained, dingy looking clothes just because you might get spit up on.  I do have a cute apron and use it daily.

One more thing.  You are never fully dressed without a smile.  It might sound cheesy, but it is true!  A smile is always the most wonderful accessory to make you look and feel your best.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lullabies

Michael Card says in the case of  Sleep Sound in Jesus:

"Lullabies come around three times in the course of a lifetime. When we are babies, if we are fortunate, we hear them sung to us by our parents.  When we are parents, if we are wise, we sing them to our babies.  Then when we are grandparents, if we are especially blessed, we have that last wonderful chance to sing them again as we gaze into a little face, bits and pieces of which remind us of all our loved ones.

Beyond their covert purpose of coercing an infant to sleep, lullabies are songs we sing to show the love we have for our children, to show them our concern and to simply let them know we are there with them in this dark and fallen situation.  Lullabies can be simple didactic songs wherein we teach our infants with the rhythms and sounds of Scripture.  They can also be blessings wherein we plant the seeds of dreams, dreams which never completely leave them.

Lullabies are also songs we sing to ourselves.  They help reinforce the love which abides sometimes too deep within our hearts.  They are tools to bring it to the surface.  They remind us of our protective and comforting roles as parents.  They are artful ways of loving our children.

Finally, lullabies are songs we sing to God.  They can be prayers of thanksgiving, petitions for angelic protection or simple prayers of adoration for the gift of God we are trying to sing to sleep.

At the heart of it all, what lullabies are basically about is loving~loving our children and loving God and maybe even loving ourselves a little as in one of those rarest of moments we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are doing exactly the right thing~loving our children and God and singing simple, sleepy songs to both of them"
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I just loved this when I read it.  I will also add the idea that it is a time to instill bravery and courage into our boys.  What better way to combat scary things at night than to sing to my boys about brave men and women who have gone before them.  With all of this in mind I'll share the lyrics to Oliver's favorite bedtime hymn.

Rise Again Ye Lionhearted

1 Rise again, ye lion-hearted
Saints of early Christendom.
Whither is your strength departed,
Whither gone your martyrdom?
Lo, love's light is on them,
Glory's flame upon them,
And their will to die doth quell
E'en the lord and prince of hell.


2 These the saints by fear unshaken
Facing danger dauntlessly;
These no witching lust hath taken,
Lust that lures to vanity.
Mid the roar and rattle
Of tumultuous battle
In desire they soar above
All that earth would have them love.


3 Great of heart, they know no turning,
Honor, gold, they laugh to scorn,
Quench desires within them burning,
By no earthly passion torn.
Mid the lions' roaring,
Songs of praise outpouring,
Joyously they take their stand
On th'arena's bloody sand.


4 Would to God that I might even
As the martyred saints of old,
With the helping hand of Heaven,
Steadfast stand in battle bold!
O my God, I pray Thee,
In the combat stay me.
Grant that I may ever be
Loyal, staunch, and true to Thee.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Bedtime

Clay Trumbull wrote a wonderful little book entitled Hints on Child Training over 100 years ago.  It has been a while since I read it, but the last chapter has really stuck with me.  It was about bedtime. 

Bedtime is one of the most important times of the day with your children.  The words that you speak to them at that hour ring in their ears while they lie there drifting off to sleep.  They are more vulnerable and receptive at that time than any other time of day.  If you take time to listen they will often tell you things that you would otherwise miss.  Even a teenage boy does not quickly outgrown a goodnight kiss from his mom.

And yet, bedtime can be one of the most stress-full time of day for parents.  We are ready to be "off duty."  We grow weary of the requests that stall turning off the light.

Realizing how important bedtime is in the lives of our children should make us take a step back and send them off to bed with a blessing from us.  Leave them with a snuggle, a smile, or a back scratch.  Ask them how their day was and let them know that you feel blessed to be their mom.  Read them one more story.  Say "I'd be happy to" when they ask you to bring them a drink.  Tell each one of them that you look forward to seeing them in the morning.  Pray a blessing over them.

Let those things bounce around in their head while they drift off to sleep.