Can I Get a Yes?

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I have four children. With each pregnancy, I experienced a myriad of emotions both good and bad. I remember all so well that in a typical preggo day I could leap from the top of ecstasy mountain to the bottom of the pit of utter despair at the speed of light. Those who know me well would have zero qualms about classifying me as the poster child for helicopter moms with severe OCD tendencies. Each and every day of my pregnancies were filled with one main concern, the well being of my CHILD. You will notice I did not use the term fetus when referring to my baby in utero. I, like so many of you, understand that life begins at conception.

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“For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:13-15

I have no problem at all bringing to mind the birth of each one of my precious babies. I can so easily recall the sheer joy I felt when they were laid upon my chest for the first time. I can still taste the tears of happiness that rolled down my cheeks when I heard their first cries. I can well remember the pride that filled my love swelled heart when dear ones cooed words of praise over my wee ones. The one emotion that I can not recall no matter how hard I try is REGRET. The reason being is there was not a single regret on the day of their births and twenty-one years later not a single regret exists in my mind and heart.

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Unfortunately, in just the past week, I have read the testament of two mothers who publicly announced to the world that they regretted not aborting their children. You may need to read that last sentence again and let it sink in a little. These mothers wish their grown children were never born and in fact wish they themselves would have taken the initiative to end their lives. Both of these mothers indicated they loved these children but didn’t love the complications that their disabilities had brought into their lives. They would rather not have the child that inconvenienced them in so many ways. Yet both ask that they not be judged. I will readily admit that I have not had to deal with the complications and hardships that come with caring for a child with disabilities. I can not say that I have walked in their shoes. I can not judge, but there is One that both can and will. God’s word is truth and will judge us all in the last day. According to his word, murder is a sin.

“You shall not murder Exodus 20:13

You see, murder is exactly what abortion is. It is the taking of an innocent life at the hand of his or her own mother. We like to wrap up ugly things in pretty packages so that they are easier to look at, but when we look at the center of that package the ugliness remains. ABORTION IS MURDER.

You may say, “I am on board with you, Shanna.” or “you are absolutely right.” Others may say, ” I would never consider aborting my child” or “I have never had an abortion.” You may think, ” I am finished having children so this issue doesn’t affect me in any way.” If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, it does affect you.

1) Do you believe God created man in His own image?

2) Do you believe in the sanctity of life?

3) Do you believe that murder is a sin?

4) Are you breathing air at this very minute?

If you answered yes, This is a very important issue to you. Here are a couple more questions:

1) Are you a Christian?

2) Are you a registered voter in the state of Tennessee?

If you answered yes to these two questions, you can do something EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. You can speak, no SHOUT, for those who do not have a voice. You, my friend, can uphold the sanctity of newborn life by voting YES on amendment 1 on November 4, 2014. Do it for me, for you, for your children, for their children, and for the children who may never see the light of day unless we ACT. We CAN do something! Our hands are not tied. Let’s not allow them to be stained with innocent blood. We may even experience regret over our inaction. If we do not say YES, in essence we are saying No.  The question I now ask you is, “Can I get a YES?”

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

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In Him,

Shanna

Dear Graduate, Advice From Someone Who Cares

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Dear Graduate,

Congratulations! You have reached a very important milestone in your life, and you should be very proud of your accomplishment. Your parents could not be more ecstatic, your grandparents think you are awesome, and even your siblings can not keep from shedding a tear of joy. You, my friend, are a bona fied rock star! And then, you wake up and find yourself on the other side of graduation day with a big ole “welcome to the real world” staring you right in the face. What are you going to do now? You could not wait to get here, and now you are not so sure you are ready to enter into the unknown.

grad1Do not fear. First of all, start by remembering that graduation is a commencement. Commencement means a beginning, a start. There is something beautiful about a new beginning such as spring or a new born babe. Likewise, this commencement of your adult life is also beautiful and fresh. Embrace it! Welcome the many possibilities with open arms, an open heart, and an open Bible. Let the Word of God be the lens through which you view every situation, and the filter through which you wisely discern each decision.

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Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”

Always remember, you are not alone. You have family and friends that want nothing more than to help you succeed. But even more than that, your Father in heaven wants to help you succeed.

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Philippians 4:6

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

So, with all these people who have your back, the question that begs to be asked is, “what constitutes success?” After all, you didn’t work this hard and come this far to settle for mediocrity, right?

1. Is success getting into the best university?

2. Is success keeping a 4.0?

3. Is success earning a college degree?

4. Is success obtaining a prestigious career?

5. Is success becoming famous?

6. Is success amassing a fortune?

The answer is yes and no. I know, I know. This letter is supposed to be helpful and not confuse you even more than you already are. Just hear me out. Most of these things, in and of themselves, are admirable goals to set for yourself. There is nothing wrong with furthering your education, becoming a productive member of society, and planning your financial future. In fact hard work definitely has its reward.

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
    while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Being richly supplied is a great reason to work hard, but let me encourage you to concentrate your effort on treasure that is incorruptible.

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John 6:27

“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

You see true success really has nothing at all to do with numbers 1-6. True success is a home in heaven. True success is eternal life.

Matthew 16:26

 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

You are at the beginning of the rest of your life. Your future requires you to make many choices. Some will be failures and some will be successes. My hope for you is that you will accept nothing less than TRUE SUCCESS, graduate. Why reach for the stars when you can reach so much higher?

capsIn Him,

Shanna

 

My Inner Fish? A Big “Fish Story”

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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.

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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?

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Shanna

 

Unit Studies: Delight Directed Learning

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 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.
Shanna

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.

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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

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Other resources I found helpful besides the Amanda Bennett Unit Study:
*printouts from Enchanted Learning.com
*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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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?

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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+

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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?

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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+!

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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?

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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?

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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,

Shanna

 

 

Studying God’s Word at Home: Growing Up in God’s Word

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(Disclaimer: I received this curriculum free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Whether you homeschool or not, as parents, the MOST important task with which we are charged is to instill the word of God into our children’s hearts. It is not an option. It is not something we can hand off to someone else. It is a command, and should be treated as such.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

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Many times it can be extremely difficult to find non-denominational Bible study material that is age appropriate or unfilled with doctrinal fallacies. So, when I was given the opportunity to review a new curriculum written and published by members of the Lord’s church, I JUMPED at the chance! To say I was excited would be a huge understatement. Pryor Convictions Media’s Growing Up in God’s Word is a breath of fresh air. It is written by Heather Pryor who has been a Sunday school teacher for over twenty years and a homeschool mom for eighteen. Experience is a great teacher, and it is evident throughout this curriculum that Mrs. Pryor has learned a very effective way to teach the scriptures to children.

I was given the choice of several titles:

Genesis

Exodus

Life of Christ, Part 1

Life of Christ, Part 2

Acts, Part 1

Although they all sounded fabulous, it was an easy choice. My son just put on Christ in baptism a few months ago and became a New Testament Christian. I decided that a study of the early church would be timely, and what better way to study this than to delve into the first part of Acts?

Acts_part_1_coverI was not disappointed when I received the curriculum and saw just how thorough it was. In fact, I knew I had “struck Bible study gold” after reading the introduction page. Heather encourages teachers to be excited about studying God’s word, to not be afraid if you don’t have all the answers, and my favorite advise by far, to NOT “dumb down” the Bible for your children. This was music to my ears, and I immediately knew this was going to be a fantastic study with my son that was well worth our time.

As a homeschool mom of the past thirteen years, I have gone through my fair share of curriculums. What makes or breaks a curriculum in my mind is it’s ease of use. Acts Part 1 is VERY user friendly. It is laid out in way that would be very difficult to misunderstand. There is even a suggested schedule. The beauty of it all is this. It is a suggestion, and this curriculum can be easily adjusted to meet your needs.

If I had to choose my favorite thing about Growing Up in God’s Word, and I have many, it would have to be the fact that it goes straight to the source, the Bible. While this may seem like a huge or difficult task for younger children, Heather takes the “eat an elephant one bite at a time” approach and it really works. After reading several verses, you take to time to make sure the student understands the text, ask questions, and allow the student to expound on what they have read. This method is extremely effective and sets the stage for your child to become a true student of the Word. It actually teaches them HOW to study which in my opinion is something that even many adults struggle with.

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The enrichment work in Growing Up in God’s Word is just the cherry on top.

Putting Down Roots: Memory Work

Farther Afield: Map work

Harvest Fun: Games and Activities

Food For Thought: Puzzles

Fruits of Our Labor: Crafts

All of these just further plant the word of God deeply into your child’s heart and develop stabilizing roots so they shall “not be moved”. My child, and I’m sure yours will, too, especially LOVES the Fruit of Our Labor. It is an excellent way to put that positive connotation on Bible study. We really enjoyed making “tongues of fire” cupcakes.

PicMonkey Collage4I highly recommend to all my homeschooling and non-homeschooling friends to check out Growing up in God’s Word and all the other resources available at Pryor Convictions Media. It a great resource for the church and a great blessing to parents hoping to help their children grow up in God’s Word.

Shanna

 

5 Things I Gave Up to be a Wife and Mother

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I recently came across an article with a title that immediately captured my attention. It was one of those blog posts that, once published, goes viral immediately. Unfortunately, unlike other current web successes such as open letters to daddies who are kind and understanding to other people’s children on flights, concerned mothers of sons advising teenage girls against immodest pics on social media, and husbands spreading the word that marriage is about more than “me”, this post had a decidedly more acrid tone. It was a scathing diatribe against a woman’s decision to be a wife and mother. The title, “I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry”, pretty much sets the hateful tone for this short but sad article. Despite my immediate guttural reaction (and against my better judgement), I continued reading said article. I would liken this decision to passing by a horrible accident that you KNOW will be gruesome but having to look anyway. Believe me; this post was WORSE than a train wreck.

After my mommy senses went into overdrive, steam flooded from every orifice of my body, and I screamed aloud, “Oh no, she didn’t!” (well, maybe those last two are an exaggeration), I calmed down and really reflected on my role as a wife and a mother of four. The more I considered what the author said, the more I realized that she was right about one thing. To be a wife and/or mother, you must give up a number of things. Over the past twenty three and one half years as a wife, and twenty years as a mother, I have given up more than a few.

I have given up

1.Selfishness–  Anyone who has said “I do” understands that marriage requires an immediate forfeiture of self.

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Mark 10:7-8
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

On August 10,1990 the days of doing it my way and meeting only my needs became a bygone memory. The day I became John’s wife, I gave up pleasing myself, and learned to be pleasing to him.

 Anyone who has ventured into parenthood understands that with the arrival of each new bundle of joy comes the realization that even more of self has to be abandoned. As a mother, you have the responsibility of meeting every single need of a new, helpless babe. Let’s face it, midnight feedings, messy diapers, and projectile vomiting DO NOT fall into the category of things I do just for me. The day I became Titus, Elijah, Norah, and Levi’s mama, I gave up focusing on me, and learned to focus on them.

All this sounds traumatic, huh? You might even ask, “Why would you do this?”

Phil 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
And the apostle Paul said in Acts 2:35 ,
“remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
There is definitely a flip side to this coin. By decreasing myself, I am exponentially increasing my joy! My family is much bigger, warmer, lovelier, and happier than singular me.
When I became a wife and mother, I gave up selfishness to become selflessly overjoyed.

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2.Poverty I am almost positive I can hear all of you with families laughing out loud at this one.  After all, according to research the average cost to raise a child to the age of eighteen is between $200,000 and $250,000. Now in my case, multiply that by four. Math has never been my strong suit, but even I know that is a boat load of money! Well, forget the dollar signs, I agree with the John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Money cannot buy me love or happiness.

Psalm 127:3-5
Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.” Psalm 127:3-5

My quiver is full, and therefore, I am rich! The bank account of my heart is bountifully filled with deposits of smiles, laughter, achieved milestones, pulled heartstrings, and “I love yous”.

When I became a wife and mother, I gave up poverty to become richly blessed.

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3. Loneliness-   Admittedly, I fall into the category of loner. I relish my alone time which affords me opportunities to meditate, study, write, read, and pray. However, no one wants to be ALONE. The Creator knew His creation needed companionship.

Genesis 2:18
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  

There is a certain lonely void that can only be filled by the intimate husband/wife relationship. Even yet, a house has a certain amount of loneliness that can only be vanquished by the pitter patter of little feet, or at this point in my life, the stomping of at least a couple pairs of size 12 and 13 feet. Whether my children and I are in the same room or miles apart, I never feel alone. They are always with me.

When I became a wife and mother, I gave up loneliness to become connected for life.

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4. Dissatisfaction-  I readily admit that satisfaction can be derived in a multiplicity of ways. However, I know that I could never have reached the level of satisfaction I have attained had I remained as a  single, childless woman. (clearly, my opinion) I can’t help but go to

Ecclesiastes 4:9.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

My husband makes me better. He lifts me up when I fall. And let’s not forget that threefold cord. In my mind, the three strands of that cord are Daddy, Mama, and children. There is a sweet contentment found in being a strand in that cord.

When I became a wife and a mother, I gave up dissatisfaction to become completely satisfied.

5. Emptiness-  Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived, apart from our Lord. In the book of Ecclesiastes, he proclaimed that all is vanity. In other words, all is emptiness. However, when all had been said and done, this was his conclusion.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” 

Can I be obedient to God without being a wife and mother? Absolutely. Does having a mate that loves God as much as I do, and having children I want to go to heaven make this task easier? Absolutely. I am filled with the responsibility to ensure my entire family lives in a way that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

When I became a wife and mother, I gave up emptiness to become filled to overflowing.

Yes, I gave up many things to become a wife and mother. Those things will NEVER compare to what I have gained. I agree with Goerge Bernard Shaw who said, “A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” When I became a wife and a mother, I became everything I ever wanted to be, and in the process have been blessed to experience a little bit of heaven here on earth.

Shanna

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