December 18, 2006

Celebrating Christmas

Mom and I enjoyed a lovely Saturday Christmas brunch at her church, PVCC.



That's my mom, looking lovely in the middle (with the sign of glory and wisdom on her head -- white hair). I am the one talking -- don't I always do that? Of course, never a nice picture of me because I always have my mouth open!!

November 29, 2006

I am so excited...

We put up our Christmas lights and tree the other day, and in the process, I uncovered one of of our many "missing" boxes of books! When we moved to this house (7 years ago), we downsized (left a 2000sq. ft. house for one with under 1000sqft.). We couldn't put all our books out so some of them were packed away. Our hope was to get some more bookshelves so that we could bring them back out after we got settled in. I have been missing a few special books and know they are put away "somewhere." Well, now that DS is 13 and very capable at climbing into the smallest spaces, I recruited him to pull out all the holiday boxes. As he did all the hard work, I was able to spy two boxes that look familiar. Yippee! There they were...tucked away behind some very heavy furniture and other "immovable" things (why do we have such things in storage -- ugh!) Among my treasure finds...The Cost of Discipleship, The Normal Christian Life, several Fritz Ridenour books, one Francis Schaeffer title (though not the one I really wanted) and an assortment of quality studies on old and new testament books. It was like a trip to the bookstore -- but one that was just inside my small but crammed storage area! Hooray! I now have about half-dozen good books to add to my updated Reading List!

November 27, 2006

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...



Yes, it is true! Finally, we are getting "Christmas weather" here in sunny Arizona. The overnight low is expected to dip below freezing and tomorrow's high will only be in the 50's. We actually turned our heat on tonight! Last week, we ran the air conditioner to help cool off the late evening 90 degree weather. It is funny, huh? Somehow it just doesn't seem like Christmas unless it is chilly. Hooray!!

November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving



May the Lord richly bless you and your family this day!

*********************************************************
Proclamation of Thanksgiving
Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving. The holiday we know today as Thanksgiving was recommended to Lincoln by Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor. Her letters to Lincoln urged him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise." According to an April 1, 1864 letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President:
Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.

November 21, 2006

My Reading List

Well, now that we are settled on starting House of Education for high school, I need to get down to the business of reading books again. I just picked up a couple books to get a head start on next year's program.

On my HEO reading list:

*The Age of Revolution by Sir Winston Churchill
*The God Who Is There by Francis Schaeffer
*The English Constitution by William Bagehot
*Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington by Richard Brookhiser
*John Adams by David McCollough (Pulitzer Prize 2001)

I hope to have all read by the start of the new year (well, atleast a good way through them).

My Classical Studies List:

We are starting the Middle Ages over at Arete Classical Study Program and our first book is Virgil's The Aeneid. I haven't read this book since high school and am thoroughly enjoying it.

Other Good Books:

I just started John Piper's "Desiring God" and so far am enjoying it. I have to admit that I am partial to Pink, Tozer and Packer, but Piper's book is good. It is available online for free here: Desiring God e-Book

My wishlist for Christmas:

*Charles Hodges' 3-volume set of "Systematic Theology." I would also like a copy of Dr. Wayne Grudem's, "Systematic Theology," to use as a comparison. Dr. Grudem teaches at Phoenix Seminary and I have read reviews on his book (dispensationalist theology). I browsed through it at Borders yesterday and it looks very interesting but it is not as concrete as I want (or need) -- I think Hodges would be better to really give me a nuts and bolts understanding of the BIG PICTURE.
*English Standard Bible
*James Ussher's "Annals of the World" series
*John Calvin's "The Institutes" - in real book form so I don't have to print it off line.

Just some light reading under the Christmas tree!!

November 20, 2006

Some News

WOW! It has been over a month since my last post. I have really been neglecting my blog but I promise I will do better. I have had some changes at home and blogging has been the last thing on my mind.

Just some news:

*We are settled on using HEO for our high school home school curriculum. (11/15/2006)
*I am officially retiring from my website designer position come next spring (Amen!)
*I have taken a part-time position at my church: Grade School Director and am overjoyed by it. The Lord has richly blessed me with this opportunity! (11/1/2006)
*I am committed to losing 15lbs this year (and next).
*I promise to stick to my reading plan and get back to the business of learning!

This fall has just zoomed by and I am amazed that we are beginning to think about Christmas! Christmas is one of my most favorite seasons but I really don't want to rush into it. I love fall and I love Thanksgiving -- but all the march to get Christmas going is really getting to me. I am just not ready for Christmas music and holiday parties!!

November 16, 2006

The Big Shebang!



Yah, just another pic of my kid doing what he loves to do -- play games. This one was taking during an all-night Youth group event called "The Big Shebang!" The kids all arrive at church at 10:00 p.m. and spend the evening playing lasertag, broomball, and watching a movie. No sleeping occurs -- lots of eating and generally misbehaving.

October 5, 2006

The Attributes of God

Finshed! Hooray!! I had wanted to read this book (see previous post) but couldn't find it at our local bookstore so I printed it off the internet. What a superb book! I learned so much about our wonderful Father and came to appreciate His attributes a bit more deeply (can one ever fully appreciate His attributes? I think not!) If you are seeking a book to help you meditate upon God's goodness, His mercy, His grace...then this book is it!

I also just finished a very small book about Martin Luther. It is called a "Simple Guide to Prayer" and it teaches how to pray through the Lord's Prayer. What a humbling experience considering that Martin Luther lived nearly 500 hundred years ago and his prayer is as relevant today as it was in his time. I found a copy through my library -- definitely worth checking out.

September 21, 2006

Blogging Again

It has been over a month since I last blogged anything so I thought I had better get back into the habit again. I have been busy, very busy, and just felt like I didn't have anything valuable to say. I have been studying and have finished another wonderful book. Here is just a brief review in case you are looking for something new to mediate upon.

I just finished Arthur Wellington Pink's fascinating book entitled, "Holy Spirit." I found it used at my local Half Price bookstore and picked it up for under $5. I was looking for his book, "The Attributes of God," which is listed on the House of Education booklist as a suggested devotional/study. Well, I couldn't find AOG at the store so I purchased this other book. My, oh my, what a life changing book. If you have ever wondered about the working of the Holy Spirit and felt as though you didn't quite understand his role, his gifts, and his mercy, then this book is definitely a "must-read."

Pink's book is not a quick read, so bear that in mind. I spent about three weeks reading it, roughly a chapter or partial chapter (on the most meaty ones) a day. The chapters are deep and thoughtful and encourage serious mediation. I was actually sad when I got to the last chapter in the book -- just the thought I not having something to think upon each day was difficult to even consider.

But, the goodness of God, made the study all the worthwhile. I learned how to worship the Spirit and how to keep from grieving Him. I also learned about the Spirit's gift of grace and realized just how empowered I am as a believer in Christ. If you are unsure of your relationship with God the Father; His precious son, Jesus; and His dear sweet comforter, consider reading this book today. I can guarantee you it will change your life.

I found Pink's "Attributes of God" online and have just printed it out for my next study/devotion. You can read this book or his "Holy Spirit" only through the following website:

Pink's Archive

My encouragement to you is to consider spending as much time as possible in devotional study (and Bible study, of course). I was never one to read very many devotional books but over the past 6-7 months, I have given it more time in my day and it has radically changed my heart, my mind, and my desires.

Blessings to you!

September 1, 2006

Year 7

Yes, we are getting ready to start our Year 7. We are using Ambleside Online for our curriculum and are anxious to begin a new year. We found AO quite by accident and have been blessed beyond measure by it's thoughtfulness and dedication to excellence. This is a free curriculum for followers of Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy and teaching method. This is our second year homeschooling and our 3rd AO level. DS is flourishing beyond measure, loves school, and has become quite a voracious reader. He spends an average of 1.5 hours each day reading classical literature, history and historical fiction/biography, and natural history and science. He also does bible, math, french/latin, poetry, Shakespeare, current events, music and art appreciation, and much more. AO is a true liberal arts curriculum.

Year 7's focus is the Middle Ages and this is my favorite time period. I cannot wait to begin.

Binder Method

Last winter, I decided to change our organizational method for tracking and planning our homeschooling. I would say that as a new home schooler the most difficult aspect of the whole process is planning, organizing and then tracking each child's progress. In our case, we have only one child home schooled, so it is not quite as complicated a process as trying to coordinate several children in multiple grades.

House of Education Year 7

Prior to our change in methodology, I was using Excel and planning our year in a spreadsheet format. This actually worked really well for us and gave us a weekly chart to follow. I had each day planned out with lessons and we simply checked them off as we completed them. The main problem I ran into with this system was that if for some reason we got off the schedule, say due to illness, then I would have to update the rest of the year to reflect each change. This became a real chore and so I went searching for a more flexible method to use.

A couple of mom's on my home school list (for Ambleside) shared that they used a binder system and instead of tracking weekly assignments, they simply read or completed the task, and then checked it off. This allowed more freedom in the schedule and there was a hard and fast date that each assignment needed to be completed. I liked this idea so I printed their emails and created a binder based off of them.

Tabs for each subject

This is my binder and I use it to store everything we need for the entire year. My son had a binder too and I placed all his papers in it but after a short while, it got too full. We are using instead a plastic storage bin with hanging files. I file all his papers into tabbed hanging files after I have checked them.

This system worked so well for us that we decided to continue to use it this year for 7th grade. I am comfortable with the freedom it provides and DS really likes to be able to complete his subjects on his own time frame. He is very independent and studious so that he is able to work on his own. I am really proud of my son. He has transitioned to being home schooled so well and is an excellent student.

August 12, 2006

The Rules of Holy Living by Jeremy Taylor, D.D.

I found this little book online at http://www.ccel.org and thought it offered great support to motivate the believer to excellent living. I thought I would post a little of it each day. The very first post deals with idleness, something that I know A LOT about.

1. The first general instrument of Holy Living, Care of our Time.

He that is choice of his time will also be choice of his company, and choice of his actions; lest the first engage him in vanity and loss; and the latter, by being criminal, be a throwing his time and himself away, and a going back in the accounts of eternity.

God hath given to man a short time here upon earth, and yet upon this short time eternity depends: but so, that for every hour of our life (after we are persons capable of laws, and know good from evil) we must give account to the great Judge of men and angels. And this is it which our blessed Saviour told us, that we must account for every idle word; not meaning that every word which is not designed to edification, or is less prudent, shall be reckoned for a sin; but that the time which we spend in our idle talking and unprofitable discoursings; that time which might and ought to have been employed to spiritual and useful purposes — that is to be accounted for.

For we must remember that we have a great work to do, many enemies to conquer, many evils to prevent, much danger to run through, many difficulties to be mastered, many necessities to serve, and much good to do; many children to provide for, or many friends to support, or many poor to relieve, or many diseases to cure; besides the needs of nature and of relation, our private and our public cares, and duties of the world, which necessity and the providence of God have adopted into the family of religion.

And that we need not fear this instrument to be a snare to us, or that the duty must end in scruple, vexation, and eternal fears, we must remember, that the life of every man may be so ordered (and indeed must) that it may be a perpetual serving of God: the greatest trouble and most busy trade and worldly encumbrances, when they are necessary, or charitable, or profitable in order to any of those ends which we are bound to serve, whether public or private, being a doing of God’s work. For God provides the good things of the world to serve the needs of nature, by the labours of the ploughman the skill and pains of the artisan, and the dangers and traffic of the merchant: these men are, in their callings, the ministers of the Divine Providence, and the stewards of the creation, and servants of a great family of God, the world, in the employment of procuring necessities for food and clothing, ornament, and physic. In their proportions also, a king and a priest and a prophet, a judge and an advocate, doing the works of their employment according to their proper rules, are doing the work of God; because they serve those necessities which God hath made, and yet made no provisions for them, but by their ministry. So that no man can complain that his calling takes him off from religion; his calling itself, and his very worldly employment in honest trades and offices, is a serving of God; and, if it be moderately pursued and according to the rules of Christian prudence, will leave void spaces enough for prayers and retirements of a more spiritual religion.

God has given every man work enough to do, that there shall be no room for idleness; and yet hath so ordered the world, that there shall be s pace for devotion. He that hath the fewest businesses of the world is called upon to spend more time in the dressing of the soil; and he that hath the most affairs may so order them that they shall be a service of God; whilst at certain periods, they are blessed with prayers and actions of religion, and all day long are hallowed by a holy intention.

However, so long as idleness is quite shut out from our lives, all the sins of wantonness, softness, and effeminacy, are prevented and there is but little room left for temptation; and, therefore, to a busy man temptation is fain to climb up together with his business, and sins creep upon him only by accidents and occasions; whereas, to an idle person they come in a full body, and with open violence and the impudence of a restless importunity.

Idleness is called ‘the sin of Sodom and her daughters,’[1] and indeed is “the burial of a living man;” an idle person being so useless to any purpose of God and man, that he is like one that is dead, unconcerned in the changes and necessities of the world; and he only lives to spend his time, and to eat the fruits of the earth; like a vermin or a wolf, when their time comes they die and perish, and in the meantime do no good; they neither plough nor carry burdens; all that they do is either unprofitable or mischievous.

Idleness is the greatest prodigality in the world; it throws away that which is invaluable in respect of its present use, and irreparable when it is past, being to be recovered by no power of art or nature. But the way to secure and improve our time we may practise in the following rules.

More to come...

July 31, 2006

Setting Priorities

Since last March, I have been on my knees before the Lord asking Him to reorder my life. I made the decision to dedicate my life to holy living and to putting the Lord first in all that I do. I have been doing a lot of reading, Christian and non-Christian texts, novels, scholarship, etc., in addition to daily Bible and devotional books. I was heart-bent on filling my head with as much knowledge as possible in my efforts to gain and understand wisdom. The Lord in His kindness and mercy showed me that the only way to gain wisdom and understanding is found through His Son. This realization has changed my entire perspective and shifted my attention away from books and back to God. Hence, my lack in posting to this blog. My heart and mind have been moved and I honestly didn't have anything of value to post online.

Once my focus moved off of me and back onto the Lord, all my priorities changed. My day has been reordered and my thoughts, desires and feelings have shifted accordingly. I am now more conscious of how I spend my time and what I do and say, both online and in person. My time is no longer mine -- it is His and my plans are no longer mine -- they are His. Therefore, I must account for everything I do and the amount of time I spend doing work outside of His program for my life.

One of the areas of biggest concern is the amount of time I spend online. I work from home and home school and both require that I spend significant time online (I design web sites and our hs curriculum is online!) Normally, this wouldn't be a big issue but for me, it is. I tend to allow idleness to creep into my daily work. It is very easy to drift off and read blogs or eloops and before you know it, an hour or more has passed by. The Lord orders my day and He gives me a set amount of time to accomplish His tasks. If I spend my time doing things that are not ordained by Him, then I will never redeem those minutes or hours. Even Christian-type work, while done in the name of the Lord, can pull us off His assigned work.

My desire is to do His work, His way and according to His plan. I want to be able to say that all I know is "Christ and Him Crucified."

July 17, 2006

Knowing God

It's been a while since I last posted and I thought I should take a moment and add something new to my blog.

I have been reading...A LOT...lately. I tend to do that...you know...feast or famine...all or nothing. If it is not reading, it is working on my blog or website. It is partly my personality (I tend to be obsessive-compulsive) and partly my temperament. It is something I struggle with and work hard to overcome.

Well, one of the books I have been reading is J. I. Packer's book, "Knowing God." I picked this book up used at our local Half-Price bookstore a few weeks back. It is a suggested devotional book on the HEO Booklist (Ambleside Online-House of Education High School curriculum). I was delighted to find it for $3 and have read it (almost finished) each night since.

I know very little about J. Packer, other than he was President of Regent College in British Columbia and he was/is a well-known reformed theologian. I started reading his book and have to say, it has changed my life. Yes, hard to believe that one book could actually change my thinking, my attitude, and my understanding...but his book has done this.

I have been a Christian for nearly 35 years and considered myself to be mature and well-developed. Ha! Hardly...after reading through this book. First of all, I knew a lot about God but I really didn't know Him. Yes, I have had a personal relationship with the Lord for a long time but my understanding of His grace, His mercy, and His compassion was sadly lacking.

I have been humbled and I have been changed. J. Packer's book has taught me so much about God and about my response to Him. I now understand why we worship a Jealous God (his love for us is like that of a husband for a wife -- his zeal is perfect and our love for him is to be based in fidelity). I understand why He loves us so much and why we are to worship Him.

If you want to really know God, I would consider this book to be vital to understanding how to do that. It is considered a classic devotional book and I can now see why.

July 2, 2006

4th of July



A M E R I C A

A
is for the Attitudes
that conquer any quest
M
is for the Multitudes
who know just why they're blessed
E
pluribus unum
from sea to shining sea
R
for all the Riches found
where everyone is free
I
for Individuals
who sacrifice their all
C
because our Christian faith
will answer every call, so one more
A
for Attitudes
That live inside of us
God has blessed America
Cause God is who we trust

G O D B L E S S A M E R I C A !

© 2001 William Heffner


Wishing everyone a blessed and happy fourth of july!

June 19, 2006

Orthodoxy

A while back I posted that I was going to begin reading G.K. Chesterson's, "Orthodoxy". This was before my current study in C.S. Lewis and before my interest in theology was piqued. I had printed off the e-text of this short book (thanks to the good folks over at CCEL.org) and eagerly started it, only to find that it wasn't quite what I expected. I guess I was thinking it would be more "doctrinal" and less "philosophical."

Well, this past week, I was short on reading (ha ha) and was cleaning out my desk (the dreaded "hidden zone" where things go to die) and I found this e-book. In Jacob's biography of Lewis, he shares how this particular work impacted Jack's life during a period where he was "seeking" truth (between his atheist and conversion stages). I thought I should give it a go again and see what all the fuss was about.

So, I sat down and surprize, surprize...I read it cover to cover. In truth, it took me two days -- Chesterson is a delightful writer -- but not as easy to read as one might think from his "Father Brown" stories. I found the entire book confusing and difficult whilst being brilliant and beyond time and space. Does that make sense? Probably not, unless you too have read it. Chesterson's understanding of modernism is par excellent and his perception into the mind of modern man gave me a shiver. As I read through page after page with highlighter in hand, I kept saying to myself "yes, I know someone just like this!" His characterization of the materialist (what I would call the post-modernist man) was so right on target that one would think he was writing about our day and age and not the turn of the century (last century!)

I have to say that overall I was bowled-over by his depth and ability to analyze our society. His arguement for orthodoxy confirmed to me that indeed his is correct. There is security in a standard model and that while we may all divide on small issues, in the greater cosmos, we are as one (at least those of us in the Church).

June 16, 2006

Grace Abounds

I have recently finished R.C. Sproul's wonderful book, "Chosen by God." Subtitled, "Know God's perfect plan for His glory and His children," this small book deals completely with the subject of predestination. I read it initially because it was listed as a "secondary" read for Veritas Press' Omnibus I booklist. I never really gave much thought to the topic because I just considered it one of those "fine points" of dissension between the body of Christ.

WOW! Were my eyes opened after finishing this book. Sproul is a superb writer, masterful, yet clear in his theological explanations and understanding. I learned more about the doctrine of Grace and came to a much deeper understanding of how it operates in my life and throughout the world because of Sproul's book.

If anything, this book has encouraged me to pursue a deeper search for the truth as it is bound up with theology. I have since read Jonathon Edwards treatise "Freedom of the Will" and Martin Luther's awesome work, "On Bondage of the Will." The latter was edited by J. I. Packer and it was mind-opening to say the least.

My desire is to know the truth and I have inquired of the Lord to ask Him to show me the path to understanding and wisdom. Of course, the foundation of all wisdom lays with scripture, but IMHO there are significant doctrinal works that can help the novice reader grasp how great and wonderful our Lord truly is.

I am eager to begin my studies and will be reading through parts of the massive "Institutes on Religion" by John Calvin first and then will pick up on some other significant works by Augustine and Anselm. It is exciting for me to engage my mind in this type of reading and to challenge my understanding -- to push the envelope just a little farther in an attempt to *find* the truth as revealed through scripture and ultimately, in Jesus Christ himself.

"Your Word is Truth" ~John 17:17

June 13, 2006

Surprised by Joy

I have been on a CS Lewis junket these days. I will admit to having read 'The Screwtape Letters' and 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' years ago but never really read any of his other works. I am working through my reading list (see below) and two Lewis books are listed: 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and 'Till We Have Faces.' I have finished both books and am now reading Alan Jacob's biography, 'The Narnian.'

I think I have fallen in love with Lewis, at least with Lewis' writing. I have been overwhelmed by the profound nature of his works and the impact they have had on my life. To quote Lewis's autobiographical title, I have been "Surprised by Joy." I cannot really put my finger on it exactly but have to say that it is as if the sheer scope of the works have ignited something within me, fueled a passion to learn more, to discover and probe the depths of my own understanding, and to just en-joy the process of reading and learning.

Some recent "tiddles" include:

Discovering the idea of "resting" in the Lord - not a new concept to me but always one that I struggled against. I was very into "working" and not really willing to do much "resting." What changed? Reading 'The Chronicles of Narnia,' especially 'The Silver Chair.' The idea expressed so delightfully by Lewis and yet so profoundly, is described as soon as Eustace and Jill find themselves transported through the school yard wall and into the land of Narnia. Jill accidentally entices Eustace to stand too close to the very edge of the cliff and as a result, he falls over the edge and plunges to his apparent death. Aslan sees to it that Eustace is carried over to Narnia -- on his breath -- and is safely deposited on the otherside of the great chasam. Jill, after looking into Aslan's eyes and repenting of her sin (her pride), is carried across to Narnia. It is in Lewis' descriptive way that the idea of "resting upon the Lord" comes to light. Jill finds herself being transported in mid-air, almost by magic to the other side. It is as if she is riding on a magic carpet and she is so secure and comforted in the knowledge that Aslan is moving her across the open sky, that she relaxes and sits back and enjoys the ride.

The truth revealed to me -- that resting in the Lord is requires nothing of my work, but relies solely on the work of God's Holy Spirit. He is the "great mover" that makes and moves us from place to place and from faith to faith and glory to glory. We must sit back and relax and let Him do the work -- the ride is magical and fills us with inexpressible joy!

Prayers that go unanswered - in Lewis' deeply mythological work, "Till We Have Faces", I realized the sheer ignorance of some of my prayers. This is a difficult book and even though I enjoy ancient literature, I found the entire book somewhat disturbing. It was engaging writing but I never quite knew what to expect -- I think my CON perspective colored my review and made it difficult for me to see it as Lewis intended -- as myth. However, the very last chapter is deeply moving and there is one small part where the title of the novel comes to sharp focus. If you have never read this book and are up to reading a myth (the story of Cupid and Pysche), I would encourage you to do so, it is wonderful. The main character, Maia, finds herself standing before the gods, to give account of her complaint against them. She has spent her entire life believing in the mythical goddess, Ungit, but has loathed her and blamed her for the misery of her life. As she prepares to give her account, she is escorted to the circle of judges by her old tutor, The Fox, long-dead but now appearing as a ghost or apparition. The Fox, takes her to the judges and along the way, shows her a rock wall covered with word pictures (the story of myth). As she sees the story of her life written on the wall, she begins to understand exactly how selfish and prideful her life has been. In the end, she sees herself praying to the gods and seeing her prayers going unanswered. The Fox gently explains to her that to the gods, her words (her prayers) were nothing more than a child's babbling which made no sense. He tells her that "till we have faces" we can never know the truth, never see ourselves properly and never see the gods for who they are. It is magical and it is beyond expression. In CON, it is Aslan's face that Lucy seeks after, it is His breath that invigorates her and encourages and strengthens her. It is only when she sees Him, that she can really see herself. In the same way, Maia cannot understand how petty and cruel her life has been until she sees the faces of the gods, then and only then does it become clear to her. She sees herself for the first time and what she sees is not very nice, nor pleasant, nor good. She must confront her sin and must repent and seek forgiveness. In doing so, she is released back to her world and back to her life. It is the perfect picture of redemption, regeneration, and restoration.

I realized that in many ways, I have been utterly selfish and my prayers also have been like a child's babble. When my prayers center around myself and my needs (not my real needs but material or temporal things), how like a little child I truly am. But when you grasp the very idea of "seeking the Lord's face", an amazing thing happens. It is as if everything becomes clear and we are finally able to "see" and "know" exactly what must be confessed and what must be brought to the Lord.

The past couple weeks have been a period of inexpressible joy for me. I feel as though I have come through a very long, dark hallway and am finally out in the sun. My vision has cleared somewhat and my heart and mind are united in one desire and one desire only...that is to spend my time seeking Him and resting in His remarkable grace.

June 3, 2006

Another Ham in the Family

Just a short note: DS12 has passed his ARRL Technician's course and is now a licensed Amateur Radio Operator (HAM). He has been studying with my father for the past 12 weeks and has taken the practice test about 3 dozen times. This test is not easy - it requires a significant understanding of science and technology and it is not something to be attempted lightly. The test was given at DeVry by licensed examiners. Well, he passed it and missed only 4 questions (out of 35). We are all overjoyed as DS is the only HAM in the family beside my father (Papa is very proud of him!)

May 22, 2006

He is Exalted!



I took this photo when we were on vacation in Wyoming last year. This was shot through the Chapel of Transfiguration in Grand Teton National Park.

Somehow this picture reminds me to see the Lord exalted. Often, we focus on the death of our Lord and while this is important to remember -- because through his sacrifice -- we are saved and we are healed -- but our Lord is risen and He is indeed exalted. He is seated on the throne of heaven and his work is finished.

When we focus on the Lord exalted, our entire perspective changes. The truth of the scripture is revealed in us -- If God is for us, who can be against us? Greater is He that is in you, then he that is in the world.

God is greater and more able to handle anything that concerns me today. But only if I trust him as exalted King, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. If I give him first place in my life, everything will fall into it's proper place. And, that means that I will be in my place...in total submission to Him and sitting at his feet, worshipping Him as my King.

May 20, 2006

Awana Closing Ceremonies



Another dreadful picture of me. This was at our Awana closing ceremony -- handing out awards for a "job well done!"

May 14, 2006

A Mother's Love

There are times when only a Mother's love
Can understand our tears,
Can soothe our disappoints
And calm all of our fears.
There are times when only a Mother's love
Can share the joy we feel
When something we've dreamed about
Quite suddenly is real.

There are times when only a Mother's faith
Can help us on life's way
And inspire in us the confidence
We need from day to day.

For a Mother's heart and a Mother's faith
And a Mother's steadfast love
Were fashioned by the Angels
And sent from God above...

- Author Unknown.


Wishing all of you mom's out there a wonderful and blessed Mother's Day!

April 28, 2006

Desiring God

"Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You [progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, perceiving and recognizing and understanding more strongly and clearly] and that I may find favor in Your sight. And [Lord, do] consider that this nation is Your people." ~Exodus 33:13 AMP

Lord, how I desire to know you more each day. I want to know you personally and intimately. Help me to become deeply acquainted with you today so that I can understand your ways.

April 18, 2006

Worrying about the future...

Do you worry about tomorrow? I do. I worry about things that might never happen. Sometimes I allow myself to have thoughts about "what if this" or "what if that" happens..."what will I do?" Today, while reading my devotional, this very subject was addressed. The scripture used was:

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11 AMP

Satan desires to steal our joy by getting us to focus on the "what if's" in life. If we are constantly worrying about things that might never happen, we cannot accept the joy that was purchased for us at the cross of Calvary.

Joyce Meyer writes, "When we make Jesus Lord of our heart, we have joy in our lives." The writer of Roman's states:

"After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." - Romans 14:17

God desires for us to have a good life, a life filled with His joy and peace. If we allow Satan to steal our joy and take our peace, we will certaintly be left with confusion and despair.

It is a choice we must make each day. The power to choose is a gift of God's Grace and we can choose life!

Don't let Satan steal your joy today. Choose to accept the gift of life and the joy and peace that is yours through your relationship with the Lord.

March 30, 2006

Psalm 29

Psalm 29

A Psalm of David.

[a]ASCRIBE TO the Lord, O sons of the mighty, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Give to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon many (great) waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion (Mount Hermon) like a young, wild ox.

The voice of the Lord splits and flashes forth forked lightning.

The voice of the Lord makes the wilderness tremble; the Lord shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the hinds bring forth their young, and His voice strips bare the forests, while in His temple everyone is saying, Glory!

The Lord sat as King over the deluge; the Lord [still] sits as King [and] forever!

The Lord will give [unyielding and impenetrable] strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.

March 28, 2006

Medieval Personality Types

I will admit that when I first read through Donna Partow's book, I really thought she was way off base when it came to her descriptions of the Melancholy personality. I have been thinking about it since I read her book over the weekend (a sure sign of a Melancholy person!) and decided that I didn't agree with her assessment. I decided to GOOGLE for more information and lo, and behold, I hit the jackpot. There is quite a bit of information on the internet about personalities -- and if you are interested in reading more about personalities, I encourage you to do some research yourself.

I found a website that has a Medieval Personality Quiz on it. I took this quiz and as I expected my personality profile ended up: 71% Melancholy and 29% Phlegmatic. I think this is fairly accurate. Note: this site is a Catholic website so some of the descriptions are directly related to teaching in Catholic schools. I still found the site informative and think that my temperament is clearly Melancholic.

Among the Medieval characteristics I share: introspection, slow decision-making, fear of rejection, need for justice, perfectionist tendencies. I also have a tender-heart and long to help others. I found the interpretation as to how a Melancholic deals with correction very insightful. I have found myself in a similar situation whereby I was so consumed with choosing the "right" words, that I ended up making a total mess of things because I just "blurted out" my zeal for correction.

You might be reading right now and wondering, "So what? What does this do for me?" Well, I don't know that answer. For me, my Melancholic personality leans heavily towards introspection and because I tend to look at the "negative side of things" I relish the opportunity to look into my psyche and see what needs some adjustment. You may be a Phlegmatic and don't give a hoot about what goes on inside of your head...or you may be Choleric or Sanquine and don't want to know (because you already are right-minded) the truth. LOL!

I found this site to offer a more realistic description of the four temperaments than in Ms. Partow's book. While I thought her book was clever, in reality it is a commercial, light-weight, and cutesy look at this whole subject of personality profiles. Ms. Partrow tends to "pre-package" personalities in an attempt to help the reader better understand themselves and accept themselves for who they are. It is a good thought but anytime you take a complex subject and break it down in to predefined categories, you are bound to leave out some very the important details (and to a Melancholy like me, *it* is all in the details, dear sister!)

I guess my encouragment to those interested in understanding themselves better, would be to first consider the fact that God created you as a unique and very complex person. You are not a "pre-packaged, pre-defined" person, but rather one of His own, created expressly for His purpose. Since we are all different, we do need to take time to understand ourselves better. Without understanding our own selves and the individual aspects of our personalities, we cannot effectively minister to others in God's Kingdom. If we desire to be a blessing to those around us, we really do need to know ourselves more intimately and to learn how our temperament can affect our relationship with God and with the world around us.

March 25, 2006

Western History

In my search for next year's curriculum, I have run across a reference to this work on several home school websites. I googled for more information and OUCH!...this text is outrageously expensive. It is highly recommended and is used as a supplemental reader for Veritas Press' Omnibus (7-12th grades) as well as other classical home school curriculum. I know you can find it on eBay for less than the $100 plus price tag but wish I knew if it was really worth the high ticket price. Anyone out there using Spielvogel's text for their high school studies?

***

On another note, I think I have finally figured out my curriculum situation for next year. I have really researched the various options and feel that our best choice is to stick with House of Education through year 12. I will need to make some modifications and am toying with the idea of taking the history, literature, church history/bible, and art and rolling it into a Veritas-like Omnibus schedule. This would allow us to read all the free reading choices on the list and also read through the books faster. Hence my question about Spielvogel's as I am looking for a basal text to read as an overview before beginning each lesson.

***

Also, I think we will give Bob Jones' Algebra I a try this year. DS is ready for Algebra and has been working through Saxon Algebra 1/2. He doesn't really like Saxon but it doing well with it. I may also try Standard Deviant's Algebra 1 DVD to visually reinforce the concepts.

Personality Types

I am over at my MIL's house this morning and am trying to post to my blog over a dial-up connection. Oh...how I appreciate my highspeed cable! LOL!

Last night, while staying with my FIL (MIL was travelling), I read Donna Partow's book, "A Women's Guide to Personality Types" (Bethany House, 2002). I had studied personality types (The Four Temperaments) in a college Psych class. We used the Hippocratic terms of: Sanquine, Choleric, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic. I never really understood the different types or could figure out how this information benefitted me (as I recall I didn't really know why I was in that class, other than to fulfill a credit on my transcript.)

In her book, Donna explains these personality types and helps the reader grasp the importance of understanding your own personality type and those of your spouse and children. Her goal is to "enrich family relationships by understanding the four temperaments." To help bring Hippocrates down to a modern mother's level, Donna created more personal names for each of the temperaments. They are: Mrs. Popular, Mrs. Powerful, Mrs. Perfect, and Mrs. Peaceful.

One of the first things she has you do is take a personality profile quiz. If you are like me, you just love to fill out quizzes (I do all the magazine quizzes and surveys). I wasn't too surprized by the results of my quiz because I already new I was a Melancholy/Phlegmatic personality type. What did surprize me though was how she characterized each personality type. According to her book, I am more of a Phlegmatic/Melancholy person. I identified with some of the characteristics listed under Melancholy but not how she describes this personality type. In fact, according to her observations, I am anything but Melancholy. I may be a perfectionist but I am certainly not a "hostess" nor am I set in creating "perfect" children and keeping a "perfect home." On the contrary, the key aspect of my personality that Ms. Partow left out was the fact that most Melancholy people are highly introspective. She calls it "observant" of the world around them but this is not accurate. Yes, we do observe the minutest details in those around us, but we are most interested in ourselves. If anything, we are obsessive with our own faults and think deeply about them. Hmmmm...I really didn't quite fit into her categories at all.

Using Ms. Partow's descriptions, I am more Peaceful than Perfect. I do have some of these characteristics, that is true, but I am not lazy by any means. I work methodically and am very slow to make decisions. I do have a "whatever" attitude when it comes to inconsequential matters and I guess that I am pretty agreeable. But the reason I really don't care where we eat or what we do is because my mind is so clogged with thinking about deep things, that I really don't have time to worry about anything else. Yes, I am a worrier at heart. I am sensitive and caring and I do think about an awful lot. I often forget things and then chastise myself for being so forgetful.

I did find her book interesting but I have to say that IMHO it glossed over the deeper areas of personality profiling. There is a lot to be learned about personality and by spending time getting to know our own person, we are better able to minister to those around us.

March 24, 2006

Choosing God

"For my determined purpose is that I may know Him and that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection, which it exerts over believers." ~Philipians 3:10 (AMP)

This is my favorite scripture. The Amplified Bible clearly expresses the "action" involved in God's word upon the life of the believer. It also reinforces the believer's role in applying scriptural truth. I have come to recognize that while God's love and mercy are given freely to me (not of anything I do or have done), to experience God's power and presence does require something on my part. I must "determine" to know Him and in doing so, God will progressively reveal Himself to me. Experiencing God's power and presence is a daily *CHOICE* each and every believer must make.

So often we feel power "powerless" or defeated. We feel we have no control over circumstances or situations that come our way. We feel lost or as though God is not there. God is always consistent and His Word tells us that He will never leave us nor will He forsake us. However, we must choose to seek him. It is a matter of determination -- to purposely and with diligence to seek after Him. He has promised us that if we seek Him, we will find Him.

March 20, 2006

A Biblical Worldview

Along with my search for next year's curriculum, I have been contemplating how to teach my son to have a biblical worldview. We study the Bible every day but haven't begun any specific worldview studies yet. I have a few in mind...oh my...there are so many wonderful books out there to read on this topic.

I am trusting the Lord to show me what He wants my son to learn next year and know that whatever His will, it will be a wonderful learning experience for the both of us.

March 17, 2006

Hoyts German Cologne

I found this tucked inside an antique bible. I thought it was so pretty and reminded me of a by-gone era.




I should mention that the bible is a German bible from my mother's home county of Somerset, PA. Frederick Goeb was the first printer west of the Allegheny Mountains and he printed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. A friend found this original 1813 Frederick Goeb Martin Luther German Bible and sent it to me. It is very fragile and today while looking through it, my son and I found all sorts of little bookmarks. Some were snips of paper with old fashioned calligraphy on them. Other's were just torn pieces of parchment. This pretty cologne label was in the Book of John.

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is our memorywork for DS's Year 7 Term 3. We have been reciting it daily for weeks now! It is funny how easy it is to memorize scripture when you spend a few minutes each day reciting it out loud. I used to think that I couldn't memorize scripture. I would try and it always just seemed to be one of those things that escaped my abilities. I learned through nine plus years serving in AWANA (Bible Clubs - http://www.awana.org) that memorization of scripture is not difficult so long as you break it into small, easily digested chunks.

Psalm 51

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts [a] ;
you teach [b] me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 The sacrifices of God are [c] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

The Lord encourages us to meditate upon His word. Daily recitation of scripture is one way to do this. I have found that when I recite the same passage over and over again, I receive daily instruction from the Lord. I can learn something new each day simply by taking the time to speak His word and then sit and reflect upon it.

St. Patrick's Day

Did you wear something "green" today? No, Did you get pinched by someone who was wearing "green?"

March 17 is St. Patrick's day and I was thinking about how and why we celebrate this day. I had read about the man a long time ago and even have a biography on my shelf (CLP's "Saint Patrick") though I admit to not having read it yet.




I found this information about the saint over at the History Channel.

Who Was St. Patrick?

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.

Taken Prisoner By Irish Raiders

It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

Guided By Visions

After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God's—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.

To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission—to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)

Bonfires and Crosses

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. (Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick's life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life. )


I know that there is a little saying that "everybody has SOME Irish in them" and I don't know if this is true or not. I can tell you that I have Irish in me -- just a smattering mixed in with my Scottish, English and German ancestry. My mother's Murray's were from Ireland (McMurry) and my husband's Hepburn's hail from Northern Ireland (Londonderry).

Where have I been...

Thanks to Tootlepip for this fun thing :o)



create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

March 13, 2006

"A Mother's T.R.E.K."

"A Mother's T.R.E.K. (Totally Random Events with Kids) is dedicated to mother's who are experiencing a deep struggle or trial in their life. Through their story, we will encourage them, but also be reminded of how important our "trek" as mothers truly is.

We have been promised nothing as far as the amount of time with our children... we have no idea when will be our last day with them. Sometimes we just need a little something to help us "re-focus" our day. I pray these stories and lives of others will bless you and yours." ~Amy from http://homeschoolblogger.com/DandelionSeeds/40148/


Today has been set aside as a TREK day for us. We are still doing school but we are not going to be rigidly fixed to our schedule. Instead we are going to go where the moment takes us and enjoy our day as it comes.

If you would like to read more about TREK and how it got started, click here: Amy's Dandelion Seeds Blog.

Have a TREK day and take time to enjoy the riches and blessings the Lord has given to you!

March 11, 2006

Snow in Arizona?

Last Saturday we were blessed with snow. I know, I know...you are saying "So What? We have the white stuff for 3-4 months each year and it is just not that big of a deal!" Well, if you live in the desert, in Arizona, snow is a big deal! We love it and you would think that all the transplanted 'snowbirds' here would just 'yawn' and move on. But it is not the case. We are a state filled with transplanted people, most of whom, hail from the Great White North, the Midwest or Northest. You'd think they would all be sick of snow - hey - isn't that why they moved here?









Photos courtesy of the Arizona Republic

March 10, 2006

A Great Week for Us...

Well, it's Friday and PTL! We have had such an awesome week. We actually did all our school subjects and had extra time to enjoy being together. We took nature walks - HOO RAH! It has been a long time since we got out and walked and it felt SOOOOOO Good. I am feeling better emotionally and am working on losing that 10 pounds I have put on since this time last year. School has gotten back on track and I am tweaking our weekly schedule so that we can get everything in that we put off or have been lazy about completing.

Some changes/new things we are working on:

Shakespeare - We have not been reading Shakespeare diligently. We did read Henry V last fall and DS loved it. We started Hamlet today and DS asked again to read the original play format so I dug out my copy and we are giving it a good try.

Ourselves - we put off reading through Charlotte Mason's Character study because I found the language issue to be a stumbling block. Dear sweet and wonderful Leslie N.L. has paraphrased all of Book I into modern prose and we are using it. What a difference! It is read in companion with Jerry Bridges, "The Pursuit of Godliness!"

Plutarch - ok, I have given Anne W.'s notes a try again and we are reading Plutarch. I took Leslie's advice and we are reading from Our Young Folk's Plutarch in addition to using the Original version.

Nature Walks - as stated above. We are walking 30 minutes every day. Oh, what a good walk does for the body!

Art Study - I printed off several of Henri Matisse's paintings for us to study. I went to the trouble of printing a short bio as well as description on each work (didn't read closely enough and had to edit judiciously). Then I decided to read Miss Mason's advice on teaching art. Her idea is to let the artist convey the message of his work directly to the student. OOPS! I asked DS what he thought and he told me everything he noticed - all contrary to my learned art history education. He just refused to accept that Matisse's Blue Bowl and Lemon is not a realistic portrait (it is Impressionistic and was a forerunner to the Expressionism movement). UGH! I decided that Miss Mason knows best -- less talk-y talk from Mom and more observation. I am now putting the prints into power point for us to simply study them. No more lectures on artist and artistic movements and themes.

Math - we gave up on Saxon 8/7 and decided to work in Algebra 1/2. What a difference! DS say's he loves it and is getting 100% correct. PTL!

Scheduling - I borrowed Pam's son's Year 8 schedule and created a new weekly one for us to follow. Sometimes you just have to borrow from a good friend and "see" how they do school. As a visual learner - I need to 'see' how things work for me to be able to understand them. Seeing her schedule helped me make some decisions on what we need to be doing in our home. Thanks, Tootlepip!

It feels so good when the week just flows well. No hiccups, no crises, no upset. It was a good week and we are all thankful!

March 8, 2006

Pruning the Vine

I am being pruned and it hurts! I asked the Lord to prune back the deadwood of my life -- I want to fully submit to His will and to live my day's redeemed so I can bear good fruit. My heart wants His best -- I just didn't expect it to hurt so much!

I thought He would just prune off the dead branches in my life - you know the areas that were already dead. But He is snipping away at sucker vines and other 'green' areas to help shape and strenghten me. It is these areas that are tender and are the ones that I feel the most.

One particular area that I have been praying specifically about is my job. I work part-time from home and have felt for some time now (the past year or so) that I needed to stop working and focus on my home and family. The problem is that we have come to depend on the income I make and while it is not a lot, it carries us through each and every month. My stress level has been very high and as a result my health has deteriorated and the past year has been filled with all sorts of health-related issues.

I want to quit but have been afraid to let go - fearing that we will really suffer financially if I give up my work. I also have responsibilities - I have about 50 clients and they depend on me and my services. I have been fearful about letting them know my intentions and letting them go.

This past week, the Lord has asked me to "let go of the wall" so to speak. He has asked me to trust him and see where He wants to take me. I have said "Yes, Lord, I am ready". I want to try His way and see what plans He has for me. But it is so scary to let go.

I know He is pruning my life - today, I lost another client (attrition - they have chosen another path). This makes two in one week. In some ways, my feelings are hurt because I have done so much for them and have really provided a good service to their business. On the other hand, it is exciting to see the Lord in action and to know that He does have a plan for my life.

I am praising Him today and thanking Him for all He has done in the past and all He is doing for me today.

March 6, 2006

Eating Our Words

A man's [moral] self shall be filled with the fruit of his mouth; and with the consequence of his words he must be satisfied [whether good or evil].

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]. ~Proverbs 18:20-21


These verses were in my daily devotional reading today. I had never really thought about the fact that the words I speak are fruit - fruit that could be either good or evil. I know how I feel when a conversation turns from positive and uplifting talk to negative and critical gossip. My spirit seems to follow right along that negative and bitter path.

I am so convicted today. The Bible says that my words are to be like honey and sweet tasting to others. They are not to be a bitter root that leaves people running to rinse out their mouths!

Lord Jesus, thank you for showing me how my words really matter. Not only to the people who hear them but also to my spirit and my heart. If I want to be happy, I must speak happy words. If I want to be satisfied with my life, I must speak words affirming my life, not ones that tear it down. Help me to remember that critical and complaining words will bring about a critical and complaining spirit. I truly will eat the very words that come out of my mouth.

March 4, 2006

God is Good

God is Good, All the time,
He put a song of Praise in the heart of mine
God is Good, All the time.
Through the Darkest night, His Light will shine
God is Good, God is Good all the time

If You're walking through the valleys
And there are shadows all around
Do not fear, he will guide you
He will keep you safe and sound
He has promised to never leave you
Nor forsake you, and his word is true.

God is Good, All the time,
He put a song of Praise in the heart of mine
God is Good, All the time.
Through the Darkest night, His Light will shine
God is Good, God is Good all the time

We are Sinners and so unworthy
Still for us he chose to die
Filled us with his Holy Spirit
Now we can stand and testify
And his mercies,They will never end.
~Don Moen


God is Good! He loves you and will protect and guide you. Trust in Him and lean on Him when you feel you cannot go on. He is right next to you, waiting to help you. You have to call on Him - just ask Him and He will answer you.

Celebrate Today with Praise

Is your heart heavy and sad? Do you feel overwhelmed and frustrated today? There is nothing better for a sad heart and no better way to revive and refresh our spirits then to spend the day praising God. Put on some WORSHIP music and just Praise the Lord for He is SO Good. He loves you and wants so much to care for you. He longs to hear your Praise and to see Your face shine. Let go of your worries and fears and celebrate the Lord. You will feel so much better. Your heart will sing and you will walk in newness of life. Don't waste another moment feeling sad, depressed, frustrated or anxious. The Lord loves you and He knows all your needs. He is able to take care of any concerns you might have today - so give them to Him and lift your voice and sing Praise to Him.

I Believe in Jesus

I believe in Jesus
I believe He is the Son of God,
I believe He died and rose again,
I believe He paid for us all.
And I believe He's here now,
standing in our midst.
Here with the power to heal now,
and the grace to forgive.
-Marc Nelson


His grace is here to forgive your sins.
Confess them to the Lord and Receive His healing power Now.
Be set free and live your life in praise and to His glory.

I See the Lord...

I see the Lord seated on the throne exalted
And the train of His robe fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
With His glory

Holy holy holy holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy holy holy holy
Holy is the Lord of lords


Our God is exalted, He is seated on the throne of Heaven.
The whole earth is filled with His glory.
Holy is the Lord of Lords.

Worship the Lord today and give Him glory-
He is exalted and the earth is filled with His glory.

He Is Able

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever--forsake not the works of Your own hands. ~Psalm 138:8

He is Able

He is able, more than able
To accomplish what concerns me today
He is able, more than able
To handle anything that comes my way
He is able, more than able
To do much more than I could ever dream
He is able, more than able
To make me what He wants me to be
--Greg Ferguson and Rory Noland

Dear Lord,

You are able to accomplish what concerns me today...You are able to handle anything that comes my way. You are able to do much more than I could ever dream...You are able to make me what You want me to be.

I give myself to You today...do what You want with me!

March 2, 2006

Going Overboard

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law,

That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked. ~Psalm 94:13-14


I don't know about you but I struggle with procrastination. I often put off things I don't want to do, even though I know I should do them. The dictionary defines procrastination as:

To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.

The word comes from the latin word procrastinare - pro (forward) crastinus (tomorrow)

This past week the Holy Spirit has convicted my heart and brought to my rememberence several tasks that I said I would do and have yet to complete them. I have made excuses to put them off (I am not feeling well, I can do it tomorrow, it can wait). This type of attitude is not pleasing to the Lord and I can feel His disappointment. I feel uneasy and not at peace.

Today, as I got up I decided that I would bring this issue before the Lord and ask him to help me be delivered from it. The devil very much would like to see me lost on some rabbit-trail and deeply rooted into some project that would keep me "occupied" and unable to do what God asks of me. I often allow seemingly unimportant tasks to take over my life (scheduling our school for example). I get flustered, frustrated, and overwhelmed and wonder why this is happening to me. The reason is that I am going overboard in one small, inconsequential area, and letting more important tasks, those that really matter, sit on the back burner.

We are called to redeem our time, to not waste it. This point was brought home to me today as I was reading one of my homeschool group lists. One of the mom's on the list went home to be with the Lord suddenly yesterday afternoon. A dear sister in Christ, she was a special gift to our homeschool group. Her life was surrounded by her children and her love of homeschooling them. She took the time to help others with their homeschool journey too and through her efforts was able to help make their schooldays less hectic and frustrating.

I am reminded that no one knows the time nor the hour of our passing. No one knows how many minutes or days or years we have to be here on the Earth. The Lord's desire is to bring his people home when He chooses to do so. His word tells us to be alert and to be about the Father's business - to not put off until tomorrow, what could be done today. There may not be a tomorrow.

My heart is filled with sadness at the loss of this dear sister and I am praying for her family. My prayer this morning is to keep this memory afresh in my heart and mind -- to redeem my days -- to live in the moment and to be about the Lord's business.

February 26, 2006

Thoroughly Confused

Today is Sunday and I find myself thoroughly and utterly confused and confounded about our change in plans for next year's schooling. Just the other day I posted that I had found the 'right' path for our high school adventure, I was totally confident, and completely at peace that it was the right move, at the right time, and that we were doing the right thing. Today, I am not so sure. LOL!

I know, you are probably thinking "she is just plain nuts!" Well, I will admit it that I am always "nuts" and that it is not uncommon for me to find myself right here in this predicament. I am not really sure why I started to feel uncertain but I think it had to do with the fact that a good friend this week needed my help placing her son into a high school program.

I spent a good part of the week helping her sort through options for her 14yos schooling. He has been homeschooled for 2 years and really does love it. He is flourishing and my friend enjoys having him at home. He is my son's best friend and as such I have been praying for him, his mom and dad, to make the right choice for next year. His mom had concerns about her son and was thinking that a public high school would be the best choice for him. I understand her feelings and while we are committed to homeschooling through high school, I began to doubt our program and began to feel as though time is pressing down on us and that I was at that "make or break" point. I needed to decide the next four years this week because every change from now on would "count."

I was confident in our new choice but the more I helped them, the more I began to question what we were doing and where we were going and how fast we were moving down that road to graduation. As you may or may not know, my son is highly gifted and one of our biggest struggles is to find curriculum that is challenging enough for him. Ambleside Online has been our answer these past two and half years. Our son loves the reading selections and loves the fact that our day is very low-key, flexible, and that he reads something different everyday. Our son is 12 and he is still such a little boy. Academically, he is working at high school level and he probably will continue to do so throughout the next years. But, nonetheless, he is still such a little boy. I don't want him to go into high school, I don't want him to graduate in four years. He will not be ready for the world and I don't want to rush him out of the house.

Like I said, I am not sure what prompted my initial desire to change paths -- it may have been born out of frustration with the lack of planning and teacher support in AO. Don't get me wrong, I love this program. But I struggle with scheduling, planning, and then record-keeping. Maybe it is because I have never home schooled with any other curriculum. I have no other experience to draw from. I want so much for someone to tell me what to do -- I want a pre-packaged curriculum, with teacher books and plans. I want to have it all done for me because my life is so complicated and my time is so limited.

Maybe it is also because this past week and half I have come under criticism from family regarding our schooling choice. I normally let these types of comments roll off me, but this week it was just too much. Maybe, just maybe, I thought that if we used a purely Christian curriculum and one that was tangible (textbooks are tangible), that my family would give me their approval and finally they would stop the criticism of our home schooling.

I don't know. It is hard to know why certain things make us move and other things make us stand still. As I was thinking about everything from this past week, I happened to flip the TV channel to Joel Osteen. I like Joel, BTW, and we often listen to him during the week. Today's message was on being yourself and on accepting who you are in Christ. He talked about how we often seek approval from other people and often will change our minds based on their actions. The problem he said, is that God has annoited our calling, and our situation is unique. We may be doing things differently from our neighbors, our family, our friends, because God has called us to do it. He also encouraged us to stop comparing ourselves to other people. Oh my, did I need to hear that today.

After the message was over, DS and I drove over to my parents house to help with some outside work (it is lovely here - 81!). I asked my son about next year and asked him if he wanted to switch curriculum and use textbooks like his friend does. I asked him if he liked reading different books and doing different subjects every day. I was surprized by his answer - he said he likes what we are doing and would like to continue it. He said "textbooks - like real school?" I said "yes." He said "I would like to continue doing what we are doing this year."

It wasn't eloquent or even overly impassioned. It was sort of matter of fact but it was an honest opinion. In truth, my son is happy with his schooling. He never complains about it (well, maybe just the 'doing it' part) and he always does such a good job.

Maybe the whole problem has been me. I compare myself to others, I feel jealous of what other's are doing or have, I bend when I am criticized, and I waffle when I feel uncertain and when I lose confidence in my abilities.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Help me today to realize that you have called me to home school my son. Help me to understand that you have annointed me with wisdom to choose the path for my son to follow. Help me to stop comparing myself to other people, to stop seeking approval, and to stop allowing critical remarks to cause me to stumble. I humbly seek your will and know that you will be faithful to help me KNOW exactly what you want me to do and then will provide the tools and resources needed to be able to accomplish your plan for my life.

February 23, 2006

Worship in Spirit and Truth

Last year, we made a very difficult decision to change our church fellowship. Both DH and I were conflicted about making such a change, considering that we had been at the same church for nearly 10 years. We had good friends and family there and our entire family was active in church service.

Our primary reason for making the change was to find a much smaller youth program for our then 7th grade son. We decided to begin fellowshipping at my parent's church, which happens to be about 3 minutes from our house, a nice change from the 20 minute drive to our large Bible church.

So with some hestitation, we made the switch last summer. Our son has done very well and has made some nice friends at my parent's church. DH and I enjoy the Pastor's messages. But despite the appearances that everything seems okay, there just is a lack of peace in our hearts about worshipping there. I thought for a long time that is was simply the 'getting used to something different' process. Our large Bible church was well-known for it's outstanding Music and Worship, dynamic preaching, and extensive missions and service/enrichment opportunities. Quite a different story at the small community church where my parents attend. We have met some very nice families during the past year. I have been involved in Awana, helping with the K-2nd graders. It has been a nice experience for us all -- but again, something just wasn't sitting right with us.

Over the past couple of months, there has been a spirit of disharmony and disunity in the fellowship. It has caused a split in the church, with about 20 or so families leaving to attend elsewhere. The cause you ask? Simply put - a disagreement on how we should worship the Lord on Sunday mornings. It is quite a silly thing IMHO. I mean we all worship the Lord in our own way and I see no problem with having a variety of music styles every week (jazz, contemporary, hymns). However, the Pastoral staff has not done a very good job of handling this situation and in fact have behaved rather poorly.

I am not sure if you are familiar with the term "seeker" or with the "seeker movement." But at one time this church body was aptly labeled as such. They attempted to create two groups of fellowshippers out of one body. One reflected the traditional mindset and made up the majority of members in the church. These were a mixture of people, from all walks of life, most of whom had grown up in the church or came from a traditional church background. The other group were made up of people who had rejected traditional church and were 'seeking' something different. The church attempted to cater to each group and failed miserably. A church divided cannot stand.

Last year, the elder board and Pastoral staff decided that they needed to embrace the 'contemporary' group by hiring a new Music Director who would reflect the 'hip', be worldly so as not to offend those 'seeking' spirituality. In doing so, they alienated those 'traditionalists' who finance the church, the building, and pay the salaries of the staff.

Now, here is our problem with this whole issue. I understand and do not doubt the motivation of the Pastoral staff. I believe that in their hearts they truly want to reach the lost and provide a warm and loving community for them. I don't believe that the 'seeker' movement itself is biblical and I take issue with that on the ground that the bible tell us that as believers we are to be 'salt and light' and that we are not to be conformed to the world or it's ways, it's culture, or it's standard. It is a theological issue with me -- but more than that it is the very pettiness of this whole thing. I cannot understand how members of the body of Christ can cause such disunity. The Apostle Paul urges us all to be of "one mind, one spirit, one body." It is our duty as members of the household of God - we are not to be infighting or squabbling over such matters.

Well, to make a very long story short, we have decided to return to our home church. Our son will continue to attend Wednesday night youth group and I will help in Awana through the end of May. But after that, we will return to our first love and will settle back into a fellowship where the Lord is first always and the family behaves and lives as it should.

Plans for a new season in my life...

A friend on one of my home school groups once said that "our plans are often Plan B or C, whereas God's Plan is always A" (my paraphrase). I have been seriously considering her words and this week, have committed myself only to accepting God's Plan A for my life. Through prayer and bible study, the Lord has shown me that He desires for me to experience his "Plan A" and that it is not something unattainable or unimaginable. It is real and tangible and is readily available to every person who believes in, trusts in and relies upon the Lord Jesus Christ. I have always believed (incorrectly) that God's Plan A was not something we could participate in here on Earth, that it was reserved for Heaven only. But this is not biblically sound thinking. No, God has a Plan for my life, a plan for my dh's life, and a plan for my child's life. It is His perfect Plan A, and not something that is second best. It is His best and to receive it, we must humble ourselves daily and then steadfastly and dilgently seek after Him and be patient to wait upon Him for His peace.

The Greek word for "Patience" is Hupomone and it literally means "abiding under." W.E. Vine writes "Patience perfects Christian character, James 1:4, and fellowship in th patience of Christ is therefore condition upon which believers are to be admitted to reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12)."

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:4

if we endure, we will also reign with him. ~2 Timothy 2:12a


I know that in my life, one of the reasons I have not experienced God's Plan A is because I am impatient and not willing to wait for the Lord to show me His way. I want it now and this attitude is not scriptural at all. It is the mark of a Christian that is not grown up in the Lord and is more interested in wordly pleasures (being satisfied - a baby believer who cries and wants help NOW!)

The very act of being steadfast (secure, firm, strong) and diligent (exerting oneself, enduring, hastening to do a task), is something I don't choose to do regularly. Often, I am willing to 'give it a try' and then when I don't see results right away, I give up. This is not the type of believer the Lord calls us to be - He longs for those who will be steadfast, diligent in doing good, in seeking Him, and then who will wait upon Him (abide under His authority). It is then, and only then, that we will begin to see the results of our labors. Until that point, all we who labor, will do so in vain.

I know when I am content and abiding in His will because I have this wonderful sense of peace inside of me. The world around me is still complicated and not all my problems, my concerns, or my prayers are answered. But I have this abiding sense of peace -- that everything will be OK -- that my life is in His hand. It is when I step out of this peace, that I feel the most frustrated, the most lost, the most confused.

This past week, I realized that if I truly want the Lord's Best for me, then I am going to have to do some things everyday to show him that I am serious about receiving it:

Seek Him first each and every day

Before I rise, I am to seek Him. I need to pray for His care and comfort, to ask for His forgiveness, and to set my mind right for the day (His priorities, not my own).

Be steadfast and diligent to seek His way

I must choose to be steadfast (strong, firm, secure) and to diligently seek His best for me. This means that instead of instant gratification, I must wait for Him. I must study the scriptures, pray and meditate over them, and abide under His Authority.

Accept nothing less than His Best - make no compromises, no second best options

If I believe that God has a Plan A for my life, then I must not settle for second best. No, second best is my way, my attempt to resolve problems, issues, or difficulties. I want His best and I must wait for it.

Believe, Trust and Rely on His promises

When I feel the temptation to give in or settle, I must recall the many promises of God and affirm them in my life. God's word is clear - He is faithful to keep His promises. We can trust in, rely on, and believe in them.

Paitently wait and wait and wait. No matter how long it takes, wait for His way, His will, His best.

This is the hardest part for me but it is the most crucial part of learning how to receive the Lord's best. I must grow up in the Lord and be patient. It is like giving birth -- the Lord requires us to wait nine months for a child to be born. We look forward to that day, we anticipate it, we prepare for it, we await the coming of a new born baby. In a similar way, we must wait upon the Lord and expect His Coming, His plan, His best, for us. It takes time to prepare our hearts to receive it and if we rush and try to make it happen, we will end up with our own way, our own path, and ultimately, a less than perfect answer.

***
The Lord is faithful to keep His promises and He wants us to experience the full blessing that is ours through Christ Jesus. How often have I allowed my own wants and desires to interrupt His plan and to forstall or even in some cases, miss completely the Lord's best for my life.

February 22, 2006

Scheduling Samples

I think one of the most difficult aspects of using the Charlotte Mason method along with the Ambleside Online curriculum has been trying to get organized. I have made over a dozen forms, charts, and spreadsheets since we first started using AO in the spring of 2004. You will see that each year is different and that I have tested out a number of ways to schedule and track our school year. I still haven't found the "right" way but am OK with this as the years progress (there is no "perfect" way!) Please feel free to download these forms/schedules and modify them if you feel that they would help you get your family organized.

Note: I moderate a group called AO-Member-Schedules. This group is open to anyone using the AO curriculum and who would like to see how others do AO or who want to donate their own daily/weekly schedules.

Some Sample Schedules

Unit Study on World War II

We are currently reading through a short study on World War II (about 12-15 weeks). My son finished almost all of Y8 last December and we made the decision to hold him back and begin 9th grade this fall, 2007. Partly this is to keep him on grade with his peers and also to allow him to turn 14 at the beginning of high school. This study is reflective of my son's love of the topic and as such is very heavy on military books. Feel free to borrow or browse!

British History and Literature (Victorian Era)

We decided to put off HEO Year 9 (American History) until fall 2008. For 9th grade (2007-2008), we are instead focusing on the period of 1800-1900, British History. I plan on awarding one credit in European History for this course of study.

Missey Gray's Pre-Year Schedules

These were put together by a dear AO Mom who passed away suddenly in 2006. The idea behind these schedule was to help an older student transition to AO. The student would complete the Pre-Year schedule first and then follow it with the full-year schedule as designed on the Ambleside Website. You can see her resources here: http://www.geocities.com/justahappygrl/

How to Set a Schedule

Sample Schedules and Forms

The following are some of my schedules from previous years. These pages have links to Word, Excel and PDF samples. Please feel free to use them, modify them to fit your needs.