Sunday, May 31, 2009

Verse of the week - Proverbs 16:18

Funny how the simplest of interpretations somehow go unheeded.

The oft quoted, "Pride goes before destruction," has often left me both challenged and comforted in the thought that prideful people will get their due.

Like the time we went downhill skiing with an exchange student from Costa Rica. An arrogant skier came flying past laughing at her first struggling attempts to make it down the hill in one piece. Less than five seconds later he wiped out at a fairly non-dramatic turn. "Yep," I thought, "Pride goes before a fall."

I mentioned this to my husband and he queried, "Like Karma?" Okay, I guess I preferred thinking of it as God's righteous retribution, but, yeah, I guess like Karma . . . Probably not the best interpretation of Proverbs.

Kit Kittridge (how's that for a theological source?) opened my eyes to what is perhaps the more natural reading of this proverb. We are currently listening to the audio book of her adventures and her fictional experience during the Great Depression.

She walked along with her best friend past yet another pile of belongings at the curb from an evicted family. Ruthie questioned the necessity of hitting bottom in such a manner. "If they only asked for help from their friends and family." Kit responded saying maybe they were too proud. And Ruthie wisely answered, "And look where their pride got them."

Interesting. Built into the very essence of pride is destruction. When we haughtily declare "I can do this on my own" we take those steps away from the very ones that can prevent our downfall. When we put our shoulders back and refuse to admit defeat, we absorb another blow.

To earn respect you much stand up for yourself. After all, who else will? Put on a good show. Don't let them see you sweat. Tears show weakness. How many other mantras of our society promote this thinking? And, while we as Christians know the truth about Pride, it still poisons our thinking.

Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling." In other verses Proverbs equates humility and honor. We so often reverse the two.

This also brought to mind a post along similar lines . . . avoiding the Supermom mendset. The body of Christ is made to work together. It would be silly for the hands to pridefully refuse the cooperation of the eyes. It would be self destructive for the feet to rush on without heeding the warnings ringing in the ears. God didn't design us to rely on ourselves, to function independently.

Lord, help me to recognize my needs and shortcomings as Your protection on my life. I want You to use me to my fullest potential, which includes knowing my role, and knowing when I need others to come alongside me. Please keep me from the harmful tainting of Pride. ~Amen

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

~Proverbs 16:18~

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Report Cards

As we head into our more relaxed summer schedule, I like to take some time to look over our school year and make a more permanent record of the academic days gone by.

A few times each school year I like to sit down and go over the books. Look at test scores, homework accuracy, areas of growth and challenge. Although it isn't required in our state, and doesn't go anywhere except the file in the closet, I also use this information to compile a report card for each of my school age kids.

I searched around for ideas, and eventually used Publisher to put together my own report card personalized just for our school.

The back has our school name, year, verse and grading standards.

The front has the student name, grade, subjects with marks for each quarter, and a well used comment section. The comment section is the most important to me. I want to make sure I record their strengths, weaknesses, improvements, and even goals as appropriate.

It makes me laugh when teachers have their list of sample comments to pull from so the report cards don't all look pre-printed. My problem was finding a card format that gave me enough room to say all I wanted to. This card gave me adequate room, but kept me from being wordy or superficial.

Compiling report cards has been a great way for me to consolidate the learning picture for each year and give me a record of the academic progress. And, you can use them at places like Chuck E Cheese, Krispy Kreme, and other stores that offer incentives for good grades.

Other resources you might find helpful in formulating report cards:

Homeschool report cards have definitely worked for us.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Found a great site in preparing for our final Keepers Club of the year. . .

I wanted to make certificates for the kids to give out with their awards and at 123Certificates you can print individualized certificates very easily. Donna Young had some, but not quite what I was looking for. 123 Certificates has a wide variety of styles and they are adaptable even further.

Choose from a plethora of artistic styles; fill in names, award or recognition, date, and other pertinent data; and then print it onto some nice card stock.

Very easy and they look great. As the program mentions, if headers or other page text are printing on your certificate, click on file and page properties. You can then turn off headers and footers.

Nice looking finished product for a cost of next to nothing! (and no running to the store for something I forgot to look for the last time I was out . . .)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tossing ideas

I know, I know, three posts in an hour, when I haven't posted three posts in a week recently! You wouldn't believe all that I'm resisting posting about right now.

Anyway, I have thoughts, and would appreciate yours. I was thinking about starting a weekly posting of craft ideas a la Mr. Linky.

What do you think? There are lots of great craft resources on the web, and sometimes I love the ideas I find and sometimes I don't. I would love to have a place to compile ideas that we have enjoyed with our kids and share our successes.

Would you participate? Would you spread the word? Is this a resource you would appreciate? I was thinking about waiting until fall, but I'm always looking for fun stuff to fill our summer days, too, so why wait?

Please share your thoughts and comments. I would really appreciate it!

Frugal Friday -- basketweaving

Last month, we enjoyed a special Keeper's Club meeting led by a local artist that employs recycled objects into her creations.

The results are beautiful, and resourceful.

With her help we created baskets made from old strips of cloth.

Here is how it is done:

First, cut strips of cloth about 1- 1 1/2 inches wide and about a yard or more length.

(Cut lots of strips of cloth -- at least 15 for each basket maker)

You can choose all different colors, coordinating colors, ribbon, old t-shirts, sheets, etc. If you don't have these around look at garage sales or thrift stores. Light weight material works best.

Next, braid the fabric three strips at a time. Begin by tying a knot at the top of the strips and then braid till you get to the end of the shortest piece. Fasten the end with a rubber band, twist tie, or another knot. Trim any excess material close to both knots.

After you have made about 4-5 braids you can begin assembling the basket. Begin with a tight coil and use a glue gun to attach as you go. You can also sew the rows together, but this is more time consuming and more difficult for little fingers.

As you continue to glue on additional braids, slant the sides up, begin gluing them on a diagonal on each other rather than just next to each other. The bowl is somewhat moldable when finished so you can flatten or curve it a little more if you desire.

My girls liked to make a taller container that they could hold pencils or other items in as well.

My son turned his into a chew toy for the dog. Simply take three of the braids and braid them all together and save yourself the $5-$15 on a chew toy at the store!

This is also the beginning steps for making rag rugs. Obviously, for those you keep a flat spiral and continue adding on. I don't think I'm that ambitious. :-)

Frugal, fun, and my kids over the age of 6 could even do it on their own (with a low temp glue gun, of course!)

Health info

I know I have lost followers. I know my blogging has been horribly disjointed and sporadic, at best. But, hopefully we are through that little slump.

If you are interested in a bit of explanation, I'll fill you in, if not . . . you can skip to the next blog post, which will be along shortly as my life somehow gets back to normal.

On Mother's Day I woke up in serious pain in my right shoulder area and went to urgent care instead of church. Doctor said I slept funny and strained a muscle.

By Thursday, after four days of trying to sleep on the recliner after taking a muscle relaxant I went back in because it was getting slightly worse, not better. My arm was numb and weak and the pain lingered if I moved, or breathed.

Ordered an MRI, no scheduled openings until the following Thursday. Muddled through a week relying on my kids quite a bit and my husband when he was home in the evenings. They have been amazing. I would never have made it without them. A prescription did bring some improvement.

The MRI showed a sizable herniated disc in the cervical region of my back (right at the bottom of my neck). That explains why I haven't been able to type for more than 15 minutes at a time, why I can't carry a gallon of water with my right hand, and why I wince just carrying out my daily hygiene. It doesn't explain how it got there. I have no idea.

I look forward to continued improvement and getting back to sharing all that God is teaching me and leading me through as I am able. I've missed being on here, but everything has its season.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Can't resist

Okay, I can't help it. Some things my kids do, I just can't keep to myself.

As my kids age and enter various stages I enjoy the genuine relationships that we build, the conversations we share, and even the struggles we wrestle through together. But, if I had to pick a favorite age, I think it would be the preschool years. The laughter, the discovery, the down right honesty that comes from their lips.

Nathan had a couple moments I just had to capture . . .

At the ball game last week, he tried a peanut. After a quick bite he handed it to me and said he didn't like it. I glanced at it and smiled. He liked it better after I took the shell off.

Tonight he asked for a piece of candy before dinner and I told him 'no.' A few minutes later he emerged from his room and announced that I would no longer be in charge of him because he had prayed and asked God to not have me be in charge of him any more.

I explained to this budding theologian that God's Word already says parents are in charge of their kids and He wouldn't answer a prayer that went against His written will.

He looked at me sympathetically and said, "But, I said 'please'."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Next year

You know you're a homeschool mom when you get excited about the school year ending because it means you get to start planning next year! :-)

I know I'm not alone in this, so don't act like you don't know what I mean. Although we have a couple real weeks left in our school year (and those may stretch a little further into June as these last couple weeks have been less productive than I had anticipated), I have begun eagerly making plans for next school year.

In fact, I'm having so much fun doing all this planning and dreaming that I hope to write a series here on prepping for the upcoming year. Budgeting, curriculum planning, scheduling, list making . . . Ah, I'm in dreamland! The more I spend on this step, the more successful our school year, especially on those "come what may" days.

In putting together my plans for Exploring Creation With General Science I once again came across and was so impressed I had to grab her button and stick it on my site. I've been to her site before, but had not spent nearly enough time to fully appreciate all she has available.

If you are looking for a fantastic FREE resource for schedules, handwriting, lab sheets, nature notebooks, certificates, calendars, reports, etc., etc. you need to check out her site. She has over ten years of compiled material available for you to tap into. I almost wasted my own time putting these things together, and went there and found so much of my work already done for me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Exciting Giveaway!

Apologia has become synonomous with engaging, high quality science in the homeschool community. Now, a new product is available in conjunction with these great books (Read on, post your own blurb, and have a chance to win one! Taken from Jeannie Fulbright's blog):

Apologia is now producing notebooking journals that accompany each of the elementary science books. Both Botany and Astronomy are now available.

These journals are beautiful, spiral bound notebooks that will save you time and money. You won't have to print and keep up with your child's notebook pages, buy and maintain page protectors, or purchase and compile binders...everything that makes notebooking time-consuming and labor intensive for mom. Also, your child will adore having their own notebooking journal.

Each of the notebooking journals includes:
  • A daily schedule for those who like to have a plan or would like their children to complete the book on their own
  • Templates for written narrations, the notebooking activities and experiments
  • Review Questions
  • Scripture Copywork, with both print and cursive practice
  • Reading lists and additional activities, projects, experiments for each lesson
  • An appendix with beautiful, full-color, lapbook-style Miniature Books
  • Field Trip Sheets to keep a record field trips
  • A Final Review with fifty questions the students can answer either orally or in writing to show off all they remember and know at the end of the course.
See the sample pages here:


and . . .

Jeannie is giving away four Astronomy Notebooking Journals and four Botany Notebooking Journals to bloggers who post about this on their site. Visit her blog to learn more about this contest.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Verse of the week - James 1:19,20

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Consider this a prequel to last week's verse of the week.

As I looked at the constant need for greater selflessness, my cross references sent me back to this verse earlier in James 1:19,20, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

I know in my own life, human anger generally finds a stronghold in selfishness. When I get defensive, feel offended, or think I "deserve" something, that anger can begin to surface.

Like just a minute ago. When my son wanted to pull a pile of books off his book shelf when he should be in bed, and I feel the right to enjoy some quiet time at my computer. And just then, I have effectively shut down the factory of God's righteousness in my home.

Conviction -- the Holy Spirit is constantly at work. One of the great challenges in blogging so often about my faith is the fact that I so often fail. These words each week are what God is speaking to me through His Word and where that Word hits my life experiences each day. These overflow from the teaching of God in my own life, the flashlight shined on the areas of weakness, the school teacher drilling my lessons I still need to master, the comforter speaking gentle words of encouragement.

These simple verses carry a great challenge. Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. I won't accomplish anything good on my own -- hearing slowing, speaking quickly, and not attempting to check my anger. On the other hand, if I step back and let God produce His Righteousness in the situation my anger won't get in the way any longer.

Tough calling. Great promise. Worth every effort I can put toward it.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

~James 1:19,20~

Thursday, May 14, 2009


As we celebrated Mother's Day this past week I ended up with quite a bit of time to think and realized that while I do not receive pay for my job as mom, and expressions of gratitude do not always present themselves, I could never put a price tag on the benefits poured out on me.

I heard the oft quoted job description of mother with the excessive demands on our time, energy, emotions, and talents, and the pay as additional demands or money, or occasional thank-yous. They don't even acknowledge the half of it.

The pay I receive each day is unable to be squandered, can't be stolen, is limitless, and not subject to identity fraud. On the one hand, they couldn't ever pay enough for the job that motherhood requires, on the other hand, we couldn't do enough for the "pay" we receive.

I just need to remember to keep my eyes open for it:

-Little fingers curled around mine

-Sleepy "I wuv you" whispered in my ear

-Unblinking eyes looking closely into mine

-Knock-down hugs

-Sharing belly laughs and secret giggles

-Notes on pillows

-One of a kind artwork, designed with me in mind

-Imitation, the sincerest form of flattery

-"Fighting" for the seat closest to me

-Begging for more good-night time

-Excited chatter at the dinner table

-Cook's helpers

-Light bulb moments

-Standing up for their faith

-Sibling love

-Milestone celebrations -- steps and loose teeth, words and waves, bicycles and baseballs

-A millions kisses from butterflies to Eskimos

And the list goes on and on . . .

What items do you have jingling around in your coin purse of motherhood? I bet each child has made a hefty deposit into your IRA memory account this week and I would love to hear about it. Please share, as when we hear others' "moments" it often jogs our own memories as well.

So often we focus on how much we give as moms, but I quickly become overwhelmed when I realize all the priceless treasure that I receive in return. I'm definitely getting the better deal.

No cost to me, and immeasurable riches in return.

Check out more Frugal Friday thoughts.
And, more Finer Things.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting it all done, well, enough of it anyway

Funny, that after writing about selflessness and giving all, I found myself in a position of inability to give anything! At 4:30 Sunday morning I woke up with a bizarre, extreme pain that left me shaky and nauseated.

After I walked around a bit it settled to slightly manageable and I waited for the local urgent care center to open. Apparently, a fairly common strained muscle either from overuse or sleeping weird had interrupted my restful night so abruptly. I spent Mother's Day (after returning from the doctor) resting and being waited on hand and foot, but in too much pain to truly appreciate it.

Monday, while only slightly better in the pain department, saw me off to jury duty. I actually got selected for the jury and spent a long day weighing someone's guilt or innocence.

Today that pain has persisted at a fairly moderate level, but I don't want to lose any more of the week, so we attempt to jump into homeschooling. And, I was reminded of some of the lessons that I learned while homeschooling with bouts of morning sickness, pregnancy, and newborns. And, made up some new rules along the way.

Thought these might help others on one of those days you want or need a break:

- Determine what MUST be done. My kids are all months to years ahead in math, so we skipped that today. We skipped some of the oral reading that I know we can pick up again next week. And, we just stuck with essentials along with some extended outdoor work and exploring.

- Spread your day out, or pack it in and finish early, depending on your preference. When not feeling well I prefer to work for an hour, rest an hour, work, rest. We finish later, but can still get quite a bit of high quality school time in our day.

- Get the kids working. My kids generally have quite a few chores and responsibilities, but these couple days they have done even more, and willingly! It is very sweet to see them clamber over each other getting ice water for the little ones in order to help me out.

- Pull out the educational DVDs. I just happened to have gotten Drive Through History: Rome at the library. I had heard of this series, but never watched one. My kids all enjoyed it although I had intended it mainly for my 6th grader who is studying Ancient Rome currently. Entertaining, informative, and fairly quick moving, this gave us all something to talk about and helped teach the kids when my physical strength struggled to get it all done.

- Choose the low stress activities you will all enjoy. I love reading outloud, even when I don't feel well. We just picked up God's Smuggler from the library, so we jumped into the first chapter of that and had some great conversations already. Especially interesting, since Brother Andrew is Dutch, and my two older girls just came back from the Tulip Festival with Grandma and Grandpa.

- Relax and talk or just be together. With so much to share from jury duty yesterday, we spent some time just talking about our judicial system, my experience, the physical court building, and all that I learned and participated in. They couldn't be there with me, but they could still benefit from all that I had seen and heard.

While it was not our typical school day, it got enough done, and we will gradually pick up where we left off and gain our momentum once again.

I need to remember that life is mostly about life, not about basic math facts.

It is more about character than fourth grade spelling.

More about caring for others than science experiments.

We can make up those other things next week, or in June if necessary, but this day (along with all the life lessons it contained) is already gone and I might have missed it otherwise.

That is what worked for us!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Verse of the week - James 3:16,17

You can spend your money on that, but I won't spend mine on it.

We took your vacation last year, so now it's my turn.

I have worked hard all week taking care of the kids. I deserve a night off.

You bought that new fishing pole, and now I get a new outfit.

I had to stay home last Friday while you went out, so remember not to make plans this Friday.

Selfishness can weave the fabric of even the most amiable compromise, but a marriage will often struggle rather than thrive in this 50-50 mentality.

We assume as long as we feel we give at least half the energy required to keep our household running, we have done enough. Settle in around the perceived 75% mark and we can pat ourselves on the back and claim dibs for the recliner when anything extra comes up.

James 3:16,17 address just this point saying, "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

A few problems that I have recognized when this ugly monster of selfishness and envy rears its head in my thinking:

- I can never fairly judge what another person is giving or giving up

- If Jesus had settled for the 50-50 plan I would never be heaven-bound

- No matter how far past "halfway" I tread, I could never earn or deserve my husband's love.

- I'm pretty good at remembering every little detail that I feel I poured into our marriage and family, but am embarrassingly forgetful of (or blind to) some of the great sacrifices my husband has made.

Selflessness is not about what we deserve, or comparing what others have done or not done, or even about keeping life fair. Selflessness comes from a pure heart that desires the best for others. Complete service, expecting nothing in return.

Verse 18 gives the sweet promise if we surrender our rights and seek only to give all. It assures us that if we seek peace (God's peace, not our man-fabricated, "fair" peace) we will plant the seed of God's righteousness in our marriage, in our house, in our relationships.

Rather than stopping when I think I surpassed fifty percent, what would happen if I gave ALL this week?

For where envying and strife is,
there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

~James 3:16,17~

Another article with more thoughts along the lines of selflessness in marriage

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The preschool Gospel version

Yesterday and today I had some treasured conversations with my 3 year old son.

As he climbed around on my lap and feet during his sister's gymnastics class, he suddenly looked at me and said, "Can we pray for God to safe me?"

"What do you mean, Kiddo? You want to ask Him to keep you safe?"

"No, to safe me."

"To save you?"

"Yeah, so He'll pull me up to the sky when I die."

Wow, that came out of no where. We talked a bit, and then he wandered off to some other topic.

Today, again, he spontaneously asked me, "Mom, I want to pray now so that God will pull me up to the sky." I had too quickly forgotten the previous day's conversation and thought he wanted God to make him fly. After a little clarification I realized that his heart had a much more serious goal in mind.

We talked about his naughtiness and God's love and sacrifice. Obviously words like substitutionary atonement and justification did not enter the conversation, but those deep topics wove in and out of our questions and answers.

I asked if he had ever been naughty. He said, "Yes, when I pinched Faith." Yeah, he nailed that one, no explanation needed there. I explained that God was never naughty, and He can't let naughty people into heaven to live with Him forever.

He knew what I meant. He said he wanted to go though. And I let him in on a precious secret. He could go, God wants him there! God still had to punish someone though for his sins.

Nathan pipes up, "So, He decided to punish Himself for my naughties?"

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, Jesus died on the cross for my sins." A phrase that rolls so quickly off a Sunday Schooled tongue even at the tender age of three, but this time he savored the words as he fit them into our present conversation.

"So, what should you do now?"

"I think you should pray for me."

"Sorry, sweetheart, this is a prayer that you must say for yourself."

We talked about what he needed to understand and express to God in prayer, and boiled it down to three things:

- Tell God you know you are naughty
- Tell God you know He punished Jesus in your place when He died and rose again (he said, "turned back into a normal person.")
- Tell God you want Him to be in charge of your life now.

He prayed. In his own sweet, innocent words, He prayed. He acknowledged in that precious way that only a child can that he needed forgiveness. He prayed longer than he ever has for a meal or bedtime. He thanked God for all He had done for him, and thanked Him for promising to pull him up to the sky. After 'Amen' he gave me a big hug and said he was glad that he would be in heaven with me and Daddy forever, and get to see God and talk to Him for real.

That wasn't the end. It is only the beginning. Less than two hours later he argued with his sister, and I pulled him aside and reminded him that he said God was in charge now. He knew. He kept his hands to himself, for now.

I know many more conversations will follow, many questions, much growth. But, for now, I revel in the experience, and the tiny heart seeking real truth.

Looking for resources to help your little ones understand the gospel message?

Child Evangelism Fellowship has a Wordless Book online.

The online version of 1-800-Need Him has some pages especially geared toward children.

One of my biggest tips is don't ask yes-no questions. Kids tend to be either argumentative or people-pleasers so you often won't get genuine answers. Make them think and express things in their own words.

Any other stories to share of precious talks with kids about topics that seem too big for them? Any further advice for sharing deep Biblical truths with young children? I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Works for me Wednesday - finding grocery budget busters

We have reduced our grocery budget by over 25 percent in the last year and a half, even in the face of rising costs. From $800 to less than $600 a month, and often now I spend closer to $500 (for our family of 7)! That's a lot more money for the offering and college funds.

A lot of little changes have made the difference, but one key principle was identifying and changing our budget busters.

I'll demonstrate with a few areas that made a good chunk of that difference (obviously, individual results may vary):

- Snacks -- My meals generally fit our budget goals, but all the nuts, pretzels, cheese, crackers, and fruit consumed between meals really added up. We made three changes in the snacking department:

  1. We started eating a lot of popcorn (made on the stove, not in the microwave). Even eating it a few times a week we only go through about $1.50 worth of popcorn each month. I used to spend close to that each day on snacks. That one change has saved us over $15 each month.
  2. Leftovers. I almost consider this free food. When I serve leftovers for a meal it meets with a less than enthusiastic response, but somehow half a cheeseburger for a snack is really cool.
  3. Reduce the more costly snacks to once every week or two. Nuts and cheese and healthy crackers are not cheap, so we don't have them as often any more. Plain and simple.

- Bread -- Garlic Bread, pizza crust, waffles, cinnamon rolls, sandwich bread all took a huge dent out of our grocery budget. I now make garlic bread less frequently, and make our bread from scratch as much as possible. And, we only have sandwiches about once a week. Healthier, and it has saved us over $30 each month.

- Stocking up -- I always thought I stocked up. When something I used went on sale, I bought a couple. Now I stock pile. When an item we use regularly appears on sale for that magic price, I buy enough to last me a couple months (more or less depending on how perishable the item). This has made an especially big different in the meat department, and my freezer is rarely lacking something for dinner. Just on meat this has saved me about $30 a month.

Other little changes helped as well (coupons, shopping sales, avoiding waste, etc.), and I keep my focus on saving a little bit more as time goes by. The continual progress is exciting.

More Kitchen Tips.
More WFMW, the frugal edition.
More Frugal Friday.

Check out more of my all time favorite frugal tips.

And, some of my adventures in baking from scratch (cinnamon rolls, pancakes, bread).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Homeschool carnival

Not to be missed, the latest edition of the Homeschool Showcase is up for meandering at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Lots of great links that I look forward to taking my time to enjoy later today.

Check it out!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Verse of the week - Matthew 16:24

Amy Carmichael faced any number of inconveniences and discomforts in her adjustment to life in Japan. The food, the transportation, the dress, the schedule, all introduced to her experiences quite foreign to her upbringing. In Elizabeth Elliot's biography of Amy she says that Amy saw these not as culture shock, but as "the expected terms of her chosen discipleship, the first condition of which is, according to the Master's words, 'he must give up all right to himself.'"

The full context of that verse, Matthew 16:24, says, "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." The depth of "denying" plunged me into the Greek.

Denying comes from the Greek word ἀπαρνησάσθω. The definition speaks of utterly denying, disowning, abstain. We need to leave ourselves entirely behind. Give up our rights to the fullest, that is our first job if we desire to walk in His footsteps. Not just setting myself in the backseat driver position, not holding more loosely to our rights or preferences, but completely, utterly denying ourselves.

In reading this I also hadn't noticed before that it says, "his cross," referring to the follower's cross. Reading it as one removed from the context by 2000 years I immediately thought of Christ's cross, but the listener didn't have the richness of Calvary in their thinking. The cross did still represent a loss of rights, a loss of life itself. as verse 25 goes on to say, "whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

In dying we truly live, in losing we find, in surrendering we claim victory, in selling our everything we gain the greatest treasure. We cannot even comprehend how great the reward that awaits us after death as we stand in awe of the One, the Great I AM and throw it all at His feet knowing it still pales in comparison to His great love and sacrifice on our behalf.

I think about this in context of marriage as well, but that will lead into another verse, so it will wait until next week. For now, I have enough to think and act on. Giving up myself, taking up the cross (the perfect picture of self-denial and love for others over self), and following, carefully following.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples,
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow me.

~Matthew 16:24~

Can I pray for you?
If you would like me (and other readers) to pray for you, please leave a comment. Be as specific or vague as you would like in asking prayer for yourself or a loved one. I will come back to this post each day and pray over the requests left here and would encourage you to pray for each other as well. This is an incredible privilege we have to raise up the weary hands and challenged emotions of those around us, and have others lift us up as well. If you have praises or updates I welcome those as well! ~Thank you for this privilege

New website

A few weeks ago I sat in an encouraging, information filled support group meeting and reveled in the benefits of a strong group of fellow homeschool moms with varying interests, experiences, and knowledge.

I recalled my first homeschool years that went well academically, but I lacked a certainty in my planning and execution. Support groups can provide encouragement and opportunities that might be difficult for the individual homeschool mom to come across on her own.

This type of support should be readily available to everyone looking for it. So, I shared my vision with my husband and now we have a new website to do just that.

Living in the Chicago area, provides an incredible number of resources, but just as elsewhere, many of these first grow by word of mouth or emails to existing homeschoolers. We are building a site to help link Chicagoland homeschoolers to resources right in their own backyard that they might not know about otherwise.

I know my readers here have a far more diverse geography, so this won't interest all of you, but for those of you homeschooling in the Chicagoland area, I would love to help you connect and find more local resources to help you in your homeschool journey. For those with friends or family in the Chicagoland area I would appreciate it if you spread the word. And, if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, you will find links to car loads of field trip ideas to make the most of your time.

This is still a work in progress, definitely a labor of love to compile and format all of the information. My husband has been an incredible support and put so much of his own time and energy into making this a reality.

Please stop in for a visit to the Chicagoland Homeschool Network, and spread the word!

When you can't find just the right resource or tool, make your own. That's what I've done. And, it has definitely worked for me!