My Inner Fish? A Big “Fish Story”


I have a confession to make. My name is Shanna and I am a “closet” foodie. Both the irony and hilarity of this is not lost on those who know me very well. You see, I am probably one of the finickiest eaters with the absolute blandest palate in the universe. (Just ask a few of them and you will know I am not exaggerating in any way) I guess you might say I live vicariously through others who LOVE all varieties of cuisine. The way I accomplish this “addiction” is by watching LOTS of cooking shows. I enjoy observing Guy, Alton, Giada, and many other food experts cook and talk about all things food related. However, I don’t just stick to the main cooking channels for my fix. From as far back as childhood, I can remember being super excited about the cooking shows on PBS. In this same vein, I still enjoy spending a portion of my Saturday watching these shows on my local public television station.


Just this past Saturday after being completely immersed in bayou fare and preparing to witness the preparation of some down home vittles, I sat through a few commercials of upcoming programming. Even though I am fully aware of some of the “anti-creation” shows for which PBS is famous such as Nova, I must admit one of the commercials caught me off guard. At first I was completely drawn in by the great camera work and catchy music. It didn’t take long however for the jaw dropping title, “Your Inner Fish”, to grab me by the throat and stifle my breathing. I really didn’t know the appropriate way to react to the absurdity of such an idea. I mean, should I laugh as if it must be a joke, or sob when the reality of what it really meant sunk in?


What does it mean? Well, at eye level it is yet another jab at creationism. Although, I must admit, this seemed to be taking it to a completely different level. The notion that we “evolved” from the Tiktaalik, the “fish with hands,” because our hands resemble the make up of its fins is not that different than the comparisons made between us and “Lucy” and many other bogus “scientific” finds. It was the APPROACH that made me pause for thought. The difference wasn’t so much what they said as how they said it. In their own words they presented this falsehood in a way that was “enlightening, accessible and told with irresistible enthusiasm”.


What does it REALLY mean, then? It means we, Daddy, Mama, Grandma, Grandpa, Elder, Preacher, and teacher, have been handed a declaration of war. We must ask ourselves a serious question.

Psalm 11:3

“If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”

The answer is abundantly clear.

1 Timothy 6:12

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

We CAN NOT turn a blind eye and hope this will go away. Not only must we prepare ourselves for this epic battle, we MUST arm our children as well. Doing so is crucial in order to “lay hold on eternal life”. All battles that are to be won are built upon forethought, planning, and strategy. One of the best tactics used on the battlefield is to “fight fire with fire”. So how do we do this? We follow the lead of our foe. The exception is we have absolute truth.


1. The word of God is ENLIGHTENING

We must have light in order to successfully navigate our way through darkness.

Psalm 119:105

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”

We wouldn’t dream of sending our children into the darkness of night without first equipping them with adequate lighting. Friends, we must not send our children out into this dark world without thoroughly equipping them with the light of God’s word.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”

It is imperative that we impress upon our children the importance of Bible study. This starts in the home through modeled behavior and diligent instruction.

In order to win this war, we must recognize His light, possess His light, and display His light.


2. We must make the word of God ACCESSIBLE 

We as soldiers of Christ must be spreading the gospel on a daily basis.

Matthew 28:19

 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”

We have been given this treasure and have been charged with sharing it with others.

Matthew 5:16 

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

It is imperative that we teach the precepts and doctrine that is able to save men’s souls starting in our homes and spilling forth into the community, the country, and the world.

In order to win this war, we must combat Satan’s lies by heartily and persistently extending to  as many as will hear the life giving, God breathed word recorded in the Holy Bible.


3. We must teach the word of God with IRRESISTIBLE ENTHUSIASM

Do you remember the early days of your courtship? You absolutely gushed with joy as you spoke about the one you loved to anyone who would listen. Now I am not suggesting using theatrics and unbiblical tactics to draw people in on pure emotion. What I am saying is if we really love something and believe in it, we will shout its praises from the rooftops for everyone to hear. If we love God and His word, we will not keep silent.

Matthew 5:15

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

How can we possibly expect others to be excited about the truth when we ourselves seem indifferent and uninterested?

In order to win this war, we must whole heartedly, unashamedly live and present God’s word with the enthusiasm it demands and deserves.

We all understand that we are the workmanship of our great Creator and almost laugh at the preposterous idea that we are the evolved form of a fish. We may even find a tad bit of comfort in the “safe” confines of our homes, congregations, and small town communities. We can not be lulled into a false sense of security. Sometimes the only wake up call we may need is something as seemingly benign as watching a cooking show on the weekend. Mark Twain once said, “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.” I believe Satan couldn’t have said it any better himself. Our motto must be the only good story is the TRUTH. Truth will not only help God’s children win each battle it will allow them to emerge victorious over the entire war.

1 John 5:4

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”




Unit Studies: Delight Directed Learning

 I am so pleased to offer all my homeschool friends the insights of one of my favorite homeschool moms, Vicky. She contributed the following article on unit studies to Life in the Cleft, and I could not be more pleased. I think you will definitely see the great things that can be gained from doing unit studies and will certainly be motivated to try a unit study in your own homeschool.

Unit Studies: Delight Directed Learning

Like many Moms in January, I was struggling to get back into the swing of things after a nice restful Christmas break.  I use an Eclectic approach in our homeschool, and enjoy a variety of philosophies and resources in our educational journey.  I was trying to think of doing something different and I began discussing the upcoming Olympics with a friend of mine, Kim, who homeschools her four children.  We brainstormed the idea of teaching our kids together for a day to get them motivated and interested in doing the Unit Study.  We divided up tasks like buying supplies, printing resources, and locating books.  It was just the push I needed to whet my appetite for planning school activities again after a long break in our routine.  What a perfect opportunity we had as homeschoolers to dive into current events and learn more about such a major historical event as the Olympics since we had the flexibility to spend more time on certain subjects.My friend Kim recommended Amanda Bennett unit studies (and I had heard other moms recommend her units as well).  As soon as I perused her site I knew I had found a goldmine and couldn’t wait to download the Olympic Unit.  It was like Amanda did all the work for me to be “that Mom” that spent hours pulling resources from a variety of places in order to integrate all subjects for one thorough Unit Study.  This wasn’t just “fluff” that you find on Pinterest where you do a few craft projects with your kids on The Olympics, read a book or two, and say “That was fun!”  This was purposeful learning that addressed different types of learners as well as gave room for challenge work.  Amanda Bennett Unit Studies are offered in one and four week units.  The Olympic Unit was a four week study.  We started a few weeks before Opening Ceremonies and planned to finish as the Olympics finished.  Due to many different circumstances, we ended up only doing three weeks of the Unit.  If I were to do another Unit Study from this resource, I would choose the one week option.  Four weeks was just a little long for us, but that’s our family’s experience. The Amanda Bennett Unit Studies are lessons organized by Week 1/Day 1, Week 1/Day 2, etc. until the end of the fourth week.   I especially admired that each day began with a Bible verse or inspirational quote to go along with the day’s theme.  This verse or quote was copy work for the kids.  Then each daily lesson plan offered child-friendly videos/sites to enhance the study (everything from videos of the beautiful geography of Russia, footage explaining the science behind the sports, athletes and their personal stories, tourist attractions, and many more).  Each day’s lesson also offered hands-on activities, vocabulary work, comprehension work, reflection opportunities, geography practice, and biographies to name a few.


Here’s a brief timeline of events in our Unit Study:
*We checked out books from the library about Russia and gathered general facts about the country.
*We read more about the origin of the Olympics as my son is obsessed with Greek Mythology and Greece in general.
*We posted new maps of the world and began looking at the various countries that would be participating in the Winter Olympics
*We made a Unit Study journal by decorating a spiral notebook with many different flag stickers ( I found these at a local party supply store, Horner Novelty ).  This would house all our copywork, free writing, questions, research, etc.
*We began our very first day of the Unit at our friends’ home so we could decorate our journals together and do the Day One activities as a group to build excitement.
*We worked on our own in our homes throughout the unit but met two more times to “do school” together and share projects.
*We watched Opening Ceremonies together and had an Olympic kick-off party


Other resources I found helpful besides the Amanda Bennett Unit Study:
*printouts from Enchanted
*free Lapbooks and pages from various sites on Ancient Greece, The Olympics and Russia
*Oil Pastels Art Olympic study from HodgePodge
*Pinterest boards on similar Unit Studies

Here are some things I learned as I went through the Unit Study adventure with my kiddos:
1.  Sometimes God whispers……”Try something different.”  

Like I said, I have been eclectic in my schooling, but right after Christmas it was such a crazy time. We were relying on the textbooks and a pretty boring routine as we came off of the family time-mania and needed some structure.  I remember shortly before starting the Olympic Unit my daughter Grace had been working in her English textbook and the skill was Dictionary guide words.  I was just expecting her to “check off the list” and complete her workbook pages in the rush of our schooling.  She hated guide words.  Then we begin our Unit Study.  Each day it had important vocabulary related to the lesson.  So our challenge was to look up those words, write their definition and discuss which meaning best fit the context of the Olympics.  Suddenly, she had a new reason for her guide word practice and it was an exciting challenge and not a workbook page.  All kids crave meaning in their school tasks and here it was…..let’s locate the page for perseverance, torch, gravity, muscle, and other words we will be using frequently as we read and write about the Olympics.  I think of this verse as I witnessed my daughter enjoying her “skill work”:  Ecclesiastes 9:10 reads

“Whatever your hand find to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.”


2.  This world is bigger than your school room.  

It’s easy to fall into your own four walls, your own co-op groups, and your own homeschool day.  However, as we took a detour from the norm and dived into the Olympic Unit, it provided us some time to look at God’s big beautiful world and appreciate different cultures, customs, languages, flags, talents, etc.  As we journeyed around the globe and located different places we read about it was nice to discuss God’s hand in nature and proof of His Creation.  Psalms 87:1 reads

“His foundation is in the holy mountains.”


3.  Feel like you’ve been slacking in a certain area in your homeschool?  Try a Unit Study!  

If you dive into a Unit Study, chances are you will be amazed at how many subject areas you cover without even trying.  I had been slacking in Geography and Science.  What an amazing thing that the very things I had been feeling low about were the very two things that really poured into my kids’ minds as we went through the Unit Study.  I really don’t think that was a coincidence!  I think it was the perfect reminder I needed that learning can be fun, resources are endless, and sometimes it’s nice to draw conclusions in new ways aside from your chosen curriculum.  Just at the time I was really feeling inadequate ( I mean every homeschool Mom has time to address EVERY subject in their homeschool but me of course ) I got an injection of joy by seeing my kids work really hard in areas I felt I had failed them…and they were doing it with excitement not dread!  Map work and health/science were easily addressed through the Unit Study.  We spent time learning about the heart, the muscles, gravity, wind, snow, and many other pertinent topics to the Winter Olympics.  So my worry turned to “Hey!  we are learning a LOT!”

 Proverbs 16:3 states

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

 Beginning each day with a prayer and a verse to focus on was key during our Unit Study.


4.  Homeschooling is a fantastic journey and even a bigger blessing when shared!

I thoroughly enjoyed teaming with my friend Kim several times during this unit.  We combined our interests and talents so our kids could share many educational moments!  We cooperated with resources, craft projects, snacks, physical activities and general lesson ideas to bring the Winter Olympics to life in our homes.  It was so nice to have another teacher around and we bounced off each other so the kids were receiving twice the help!  One day when Kim and her children came to visit us she brought Tootsie Rolls for everyone.  Why you ask?  Well Tootsie Rolls were first manufactured in 1896.  This just happens to be the same year the first Modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece.  Of course our kids made the connection and it was a pleasant surprise to have another Mom treat my kids to new facts and treats. They will never forget that!  The same day Kim brought white T-shirts so the kids could decorate Olympic Ring shirts for our Opening Ceremony party.  Another day she created a Olympic Bingo for our kids to do together and gave medals to the winners.   As Moms we sometimes feel like we have to think of everything on our own.  We don’t.  God gave us friends to support us on our homeschooling journey for a reason!  I am extremely grateful He provides me with friends who encourage, support, and pray for me in my homeschooling journey!  Kim is my sister in Christ and it’s a blessing to know God gives me who I need for this journey!

 Proverbs 19:20 states

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”  Isn’t it a comfort to know we can call upon friends to help in our motherhood?


5.  Doing a Unit Study helped us work as a team and make time for delight-directed learning.

As my children worked daily in their studies, they developed a new sense of pride in researching and writing about what they learned.  It became more than just watching a video about an ice-skater or bob-sled team.  They wanted to know more, they wanted to read more, and they were excited to write about the athletes they met.  In our own corner of the world in cold and snowy February we were motivated by men and women who shared their life aspirations and dreams with us.  Similarly we as homeschool moms needs motivation now and then and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my kids light up as they would tell Dad their new-found facts, figures, and amazing stories they had discovered that day.  One of my favorite quotes from Olympian Wilma Rudolph: “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose.  Nobody goes undefeated all the time.  If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”  I remember one day the Unit Study suggested writing an acrostic with our names about ourselves and our talents. My kids beamed with their poems.  It’s great to be able to spend time developing relationships and building confidence as we homeschool.  As we continued through the dreary February I was reminded,

“And let us not be weary in well doing,

for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.”  Galatians 6:9.

I will definitely explore future Unit Studies from Amanda Bennett as well as collaborate with other Homeschool Moms and Homeschool bloggers to bring Unit Studies into our year.  The experience was a blessed one!

vickyVicky Adkins Yocum

I am a SAHM and am in my first year of homeschooling! I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist I am a previous public school teacher. I have been married for almost thirteen years and have a daughter and a son. I love teaching Bible class, all things Disney, family get togethers, musicals and traveling.

Dear Homeschool Mom, You Deserve an A+


Dear Homeschool Mom,

Has it been “one of those days” AGAIN today? Have you decided to throw in the towel or at least planned a solid escape route to go hide in the bathroom? Have you felt isolated, alone, and completely out of control? Do you feel like every decision you have made from hand picking curriculum to choosing to homeschool in the first place has been a mistake? Do you feel ill equipped, inadequate, and like a complete failure? If you had to give yourself a report card would you be in danger of not being promoted?


Stop right there! Before you answer any of these questions, let me tell you why I believe, despite all these roadblocks, that you deserve a big A+!


1. You trust God’s plan for you as a wife and mother

Titus 2:3-5

“the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

By choosing to be a homemaker, loving your husband and children, and being a “teacher of good things”, you are fulfilling the role God desires for you to fill. In so doing, His word is not blasphemed but exalted.

Homeschool mom, how can you be failing when you are trying your best to be what the Father would have you to be?

2. You esteem the needs of children higher than your own needs

Let’s face it. Homeschooling is a very SELFLESS act. It requires much denial of self and much giving to others, namely your children.

Philippians 2:3

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Homeschool mom, how can you be failing when you are placing the physical, educational, emotional, and most of all spiritual needs of your family above any selfish desires you may have for yourself?


3. You know and can meet your children’s needs better than anyone

You carried your children in your womb, nurtured them from day one, and know everything about them. Why at age five should you all of a sudden relinquish your role of molder and care giver to someone who more than likely is a complete stranger? You have rejected this option for your child. You have chosen to continue in that role of nurturer and teacher even if it gets difficult, scary, and downright unenjoyable at times.

Isaiah 49:15

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

Homeschool mom, how can you be a failure when you have chosen to remember the needs of your children and show them compassion?


4. You are a blessing to your family

You completely understand the brevity of your time with your children.

James 4:14

“whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

It starts from the day you bring them home from the hospital. They grow so fast. They transform right before your very eyes. You have chosen not to miss a minute of that transformation: good, bad, and ugly. Because of this decision you are a blessing to your family. You are going to have the opportunity to help mold these precious gifts into what God would have them be, and in the process instill in them the most important goal in life. No, that goal is not being a genius, a musical prodigy, or getting accepted into Harvard. You are getting your family one step closer to spending eternity together with the Father and His Son. It DOES NOT go unnoticed.

Proverbs 31:28

“Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her”

Homeschool mom, how can you be a failure when your children call you blessed and your husband praises you?kids2

So there you have it homeschool mom. Even the worst days are working for good toward the most important objective of getting to heaven. You are aiming your quiver full of arrows towards the bulls eye with a prayerful heart and an iron will. Will you always be 100% accurate? No, we all have bad days. You know, the kind that make us want to lay our quiver aside; days we feel like complete failures that couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. We even have days we use that escape route to cry in the bathroom. We are not alone in this journey. We have one that lifts our heads when all we can do is bow them low.

Homeschool mom, how can you be a failure when you are leaning on the ONE that never fails?

In Him,