Saturday, October 31, 2009

Verse(s) of the week - The power of words

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
~Proverbs 16:24

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
~Proverbs 10:20

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
~Proverbs 25:11

Not much beauty in the tongue in and of itself. But, the power held in that unattractive body part is limitless. It has destroyed kingdoms, raised rulers, praised the King of Kings, and brought low people who have felt its sting.

Like a rudder steers a huge ship, like a spark starts a forest fire, so a small word planted in fertile ears has potential to produce a catastrophe or great blessing.


In particular, my thoughts have turned toward my words with my children. I want my words to bring health, beauty, wisdom and learning, value, and growth to their lives.

Too often a flippant comment can hurt, giving them fuel for discouragement or humiliation.

This weekend I heard Mark Gregston talk about parenting teens, and the power of the tongue again surfaced in my thoughts. In times of discipline, Mark said there is nothing wrong in allowing kids to feel the pain of their consequences, and guilt for wrong actions. But, our words should not push them to shame. Shame is when they feel bad about who they are, and not what they have done. I need to keep my words focused on the action and heart attitude that needs addressing, not diminishing the amazing person that God created.


Words are often difficult to control, and this area requires daily surrender to God's control. In return, a well controlled tongue produces great beauty and brings intense glory to God.


Lord, please help my speech to build up and not tear down. You have spoken so much encouragement into my life, and I want to do the same for my family. Please help me words to be Your words, full of life, blessing, and healing. ~Amen

Thursday, October 29, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- Virginia Soap and Scents

As homeschool moms we care for our children and families on so many levels. We teach them academically, nurture them spiritually, cultivate their curiosity, protect their purity, and feed and clothe them. While this review falls outside the realm of homeschooling directly, it falls well within our role as homeschool parents.


Photobucket

You have to appreciate the story behind the starting of this wonderful family based company. While exploring a unit on colonial history, they attempted a project in soapmaking. We all know how hands on learning brings a subject to life.


Well, they ended up not stopping after that one unit.It didn't take long for this project to take on a life of its own and become a family business. They offer shampoo bars, bath bars, laundry soap, pet care products, lip balm and more. Each product they handcraft personally and wrap in packaging of their designing. We received a wonderful little sampler of their products for our review.


Product: Shampoo bar
Details: A sample size of their regular shampoo bar (5.5 oz) that takes the place of regular shampoo
Price: $5.50 each or 2/$10

Product: Soaps
Details: I received the following three scents: Coconut Lemongrass, Fresh Orange, and Oatmeal, Milk and Honey. Their regular size bars are 4.5 oz and available in a variety of other scents as well. All products are available fragrance free as well.
Price: $4.50 each, 3/$12, or 10/$35

Product: Homemade laundry soap Kit
Details: A sample product which requires some preparation for use (dissolving together on the stove). Their full size kit makes two gallons which should wash 64-72 loads at roughly seven cents a load.
Price: $4.95 for the kit or $3.95 for just the bar


I have not read up on it thoroughly, but know that many ingredients found in our everyday hygiene products carry side effects with them. Most shampoos contain alcohol based and petroleum based ingredients, which should really be avoided if possible. These products have brought this to mind once again, and prompted me to explore more natural alternatives.


In comparing other products out there, I was pleasantly surprised that Virginia Soaps and Scents have some of the best prices out there on similar products. So, from a price point, I gladly promote this product.

Secondly, I compared their cost to buying the ingredients and trying to figure out how to make it on my own. Let me just say, the cost involved in starting that, not to mention the time it would take to figure it all out and the care required in handling some potentially hazardous materials in the process, and my poor skill at creating something . . . It is definitely better for me to leave this to the experts.

Now, let's talk performance. At times I have tried natural hygiene products and have realized that part of the reason people don't use them is because they don't work as well. I did not find that to be the case this time around. The shampoo bar took some adjusting, and results may vary based on your hair type and maybe even your water, but I am sold! My hair is clean without all the chemicals I used to use. A quick lather with the shampoo bar and a rinse with vinegar water and my hair is soft, clean, and comb-able.

The bar soaps are wonderful. Moisturizing, but cleansing. My absolute over-the-top favorite is the Oatmeal, Milk and Honey scent. It even has the little bits of oatmeal and I am so sad that I am down to my last crumbs of the bar already.

And, the laundry soap . . . I had heard mixed reveiws about homemade soap, so I wasn't sure if I could swing it. But, it was really easy to make. I put on an extra pot while I made my family's oatmeal one morning, and mixed it up while breakfast cooked. It cools into a very thick gel, almost like slightly runny jello. We scoop in a half cup with each load and have wonderfully clean clothes without all the fragrance and chemicals I usually dump in. And, at around seven cents a load, this is WAY cheaper than any other detergent out there.

So,
What we loved . . .
  • EVERYTHING!
  • Pure, natural ingredients (they do use animal products
  • Quality products
  • Reasonable prices
  • Great gift ideas, check out their Christmas scents, too.
  • Beautiful soaps. Even if you aren't interested, go look at their website, their soap is beautiful on top of everything else. Almost looks edible!
  • They are a wonderful company to work with and enthusiastically share their passion for what they do.
Challenges . . .
  • I did procrastinate about making the laundry soap at first, but once I got it on the stove it was really no trouble at all.
  • Some of the soap seemed to have a strong smell at first (think about walking down the detergent aisle in the grocery store), but once out of the package for a day, each bar had a pleasant fragrance.
  • There was an adjustment phase with the shampoo bar. Sometimes my hair seemed greasy, or dirty. It always looked fine, but felt a little funny. I found the vinegar rinse (1/4 cup vinegar mixed with a few cups of water) resolved this and I have no more problems.


Some products that I have had the opportunity to review I hesitate to support, but these soaps I can definitely encourage you to enjoy. They would be great additions or alterations to almost any household cleaning and hygiene routine, and produced by a fellow homeschool family! What more could you ask for?

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.


Disclaimer: These products were provided to me free of charge from Virginia Soap and Scents as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- Amazing Bible Timeline

Timelines offer an amazing learning tool. They work for every kind of learning style because they require interaction, hands-on involvement, and a great visual. Being a bit of a timeline fan (we have two going -- one that stretches 15 feet long and another "Century Book" that has a page for each 50-100 years), I was excited about reviewing this product from Bible Charts and Maps.

Bible Timeline

Product: Amazing Bible Timeline
Details:6000 years of history in one 37" by 45" chart. Also comes with free downloads and interactive maps
Price: $29.97 and two for $49.97

What we liked . . .
  • Concise format
  • Durable construction (heavy card stock material)
  • Easy for everyone to gather around and take in a bit of history
  • Being able to put together events from various countries in one time period
  • An index with key names and events and their dates so you could then look them up on the timeline more easily
  • Young earth theology

Challenges we faced . . .
  • As with any pre-packaged time line, you are stuck with what the author sees as the most important people and events since they could never possibly include EVERY event and person from history. And, unforunately, of the explorers we are currently studying, only Christopher Columbus made the cut.
  • In an attempt to fit everything onto one compact chart, some parts are rather small print and require close examination to gather the information. The early history (Adam, Seth, etc.) have lots of room, but the 1900's are congested with lots of small print.
  • The most current event is from 1991. So, while it may have a good chunk of ancient history, this is not a record of current events.
  • The biggest challenge, and the reason that I cannot promote this product, is their various sources of information. Some (the Bible) are quite sound and trustworthy. However, some of the other sources (like the Book of Mormon and the Apocrypha) I don't think deserve a place on a reputable time line.

They offer some explanation of these references (you can read their full explanation about their religious background if you are interested):

We began working with the Amazing Bible Timeline in 1975, forty-four years after its first printing in 1931. 1975 was a time when Christians were committed to building greater unity or cooperation among Christian faiths . . .

To answer the question, we were asked to provide an LDS version. We did it and we still provide it today. None of the original Timeline dates were changed. No LDS dates were added to the original Amazing Bible Timeline. A separate version was made. The two timelines have separate copyrights and ISBNs.

When the North and South American history dates were added (Olmecs through Mayans and more) they were taken from archaelogists working in those areas. After that was done, not before, Book of Mormon dates were added to the LDS version.

Unfortunately after the printing in 2000, Fedex destroyed our original film. We recreated it using the LDS version by removing all of the dates we had added. Unfortunately we either missed one or on the last reprinting (2009) the opaquing film fell off that one date. We apologize and are working with the printer to remove it. Anyway thanks for calling it to our attention.

Does the Timeline have an LDS slant? We don't know how it could. We work to make sure it has no slant. The original Timeline on which ours is based does not have an LDS background. We added dates from 1931 to 2000 so unless there's an LDS slant to dates associated with WWII or the first astronauts on the moon there isn't one.

Bill and Margaret both come from varied religious background. . .

Our commitment is to keep doctrine off of the Timeline and out of our website.

While I think this product makes a great attempt at putting history in a compact format, I don't think it was easy enough for us to use, and it included information that I didn't necessarily want my children dwelling on. I'm sure it is a great resource for some families and each one will need to make that decision independently.


For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.


Disclaimer: This timeline was provided to me free of charge from Bible Charts and Maps as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Really?

As God continues to challenge me to remain consciously aware of the Spiritual warfare around me, and the reality of what we cannot see, I came across a wonderful illustration of this in Max Lucado's Fearless. What would you think if you came across someone who put all their effort into collecting Monopoly assets and came to you for help investing it in the "real" world . . .

You are, after all, a financial planner. You speak the language of stocks and annuities, have ample experience . . . But all your experience didn't prepare you for this request. Yet here he sits in your office, encircled by bags of pink cash and little plastic buildings. Invest Monopoly earnings?

. . .

Is this guy for real? You do your best to be polite. "Seems you've amassed quite a Monopoly fortune."

He crosses his arms and smiles. "Indeed I have. And I'm ready for you to put it to work. It's time for me to sit back and take it easy. Let someone else monopolize Monopoly for a while."

You take another look at his stacks of funny money and toy real estate and abandon all tact. "Sir, you're crazy. Your currency has no value. Your cash has no clout. Outside of your game, it's worthless. I'm sorry to tell you this, but you've made a foolish mistake. In fact, you are a fool."


He goes on to reference the parable of the foolish rich man in Luke 12:16-21.

I remember this parable from when we did our lapbook study of parables a while back. It prompted quite an interesting discussion about storing up treasure in heaven and what that really meant.


This Monopoly money illustration makes the picture even sharper. Play money has great value . . . in the game. But, once the game is over it makes absolutely no difference how much money or property we held.


Same with true wealth. If we waste our life hoarding the "play money" of this world -- cars, retirement funds, vacation homes, etc. and don't add to our real bank account, we will end this life penniless.


Where am I putting my treasure today? How about you?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

TOS Review -- Educaching



We attempted geocaching once. Well, twice, because my memory got fuzzy after about six months and I again found myself swept away with the notion of search and discovery. Both times we spent a lot of time walking, a lot of time hunting, and the ride home wondering what we did wrong.


Well, my memory got fuzzy again, because now a couple years have lapsed, so when I had an opportunity to review a product that combined geocaching with education, I couldn’t resist. And, as Kate Zieglar says in the forward, “We all know that U.S. children have become more sedentary. Educaching gets students out of their seats building, exploring, and cooperatively learning.” How could I argue with that?


As I started to read the manual my excitement began to build. The uses for this method of teaching are endless! I couldn’t wait to begin.


Product: Educaching GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers
Details: 128 pages that take you from a novice GPS user to an informed teacher able to incorporate a geocaching type activity into an engaging lesson plan
Cost:$32.00 plus $6.95 S&H (ebook version is same cost, but with no shipping)

In a nutshell, you hide various activity centers in containers around the "school grounds" (aka, your yard -- but feel free to do this at a park or other location as well). The students then seek them out and perform or discuss the items in the containers. At the end you discuss the activity and what you learned or complete a project building on what you learned together.


Many of the topics cover multiple subject areas – math, history, art, science, and English all in one lesson! These lessons create the perfect learning environment for every learning style. This is not intended to be used every day, probably not even every week, but as an occasional activity to help draw the students into a topic of study in a unique format.

What we loved . . .
- It takes you out of doors!
- Requires kids to work together
- Puts learning in an unconventional format
- Everyone got involved
- We learned about so much through this study -- how GPS systems work, how to use a GPS to get where you want to go, and how much fun geocaching can be
- I didn't have to figure out what to hide on my own. The book provides you with 20 ready made lesson plans on a wide variety of topics and I easily found one that was age appropriate and sounded interesting to learn about. This book makes it VERY easy.

What we tweaked . . .
  • This manual and methodology is geared more toward a traditional classroom setting with a larger group of children. Some tweaking in the execution is necessary to make it work in a homeschool setting.
  • The mention of an hour of prep per lesson turned me off a bit. If I spent an hour prepping every lesson I had to teach everyday, I would not be able to sleep, or cook, or clean, or eat. This is obviously not a realistic part of the regular school day. I don’t think I even have an extra hour some weeks! But, for a once in a while, change of pace, it is well worth the extra effort.
  • With all the work going in to it, I wanted more than just my few kids to benefit from it. So, we planned this for a homeschooling activity with a group of about 25 people (including adults). It worked quite well both for those that had experience geocaching and those that had never heard of it before.
All in all, a fun and purposeful product. If you continue to seek out ways to teach your kinesthetic learner, or want to explore a teaching method that thinks outside the box, you will enjoy browsing the Educaching website and considering their product.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.


Disclaimer: This ebook was provided to me free of charge from Educaching as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fearless by Max Lucado

A while back I came upon a book review that caught my interest, and a giveaway that I had just missed. {sigh} But, that's okay, because that's what my library is for.


So, I jumped over to my site and put the book on hold. Well, apparently so had quite a few other people, because I just got this book two days ago.



It's worth the wait. I'll probably be sharing thoughts here and there as I read, but had to share a couple gems from today . . .

Did you ever think that birds don't need antacids? (loose paraphrase of Matthew 6:25ff)

Of the 125 commands that Christ gives, 21 of them pertain to taking courage and "fear not." Clearly something many of us struggle with, and God knows.

God knows. I love that.

Monday, October 19, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- Sarah Books

Photobucket

Throughout history in times marked by deception and evil, we also often hear stories of amazing faith and expressions of God's love.

In the Sarah Books, author Jim Baumgardner, weaves such a tale. With characters based on real people, ancestors of his, the story quickly plunges the reader into the world of early America when slaves sought freedom and slave catchers did as they pleased.

Many brave individuals risked personal safety to put their fellow man's basic rights first. With joy and sorrow, bravery and fear, discouragement and success, we race alongside Sarah as she seeks fulfillment to her wish and learns ultimately to leave it in God's hands.

Product: Sarah's Wish, the first in a series
Description: Historical fiction book, 123 pages long. About a 12 year old girl living in 1858 and working on the underground railroad.
Cost: $9.99 (free S&H)
(other books in the series are available as well, for a bit more as they are longer books)

What we loved . . .
  • This book sketches characters with depth and clarity.
  • Jim Baumgardner portrays the evil of slavery side by side with the choice by many to show God's love in the face of such a challenge.
  • Like any quality piece of historical fiction, it leaves you pondering the line between truth and fiction in its pages and brings to life a bygone time.
  • Sarah's Wish gives glimpses into life in 1858 and defines terms that a modern reader may not be familiar with.
  • The book comes autographed (as long as you order through his site and not through Amazon), and ours had a code for a free download of an audio book as well.

Cautions . . .

  • You will probably get hooked. This one is hard to put down, especially in some places. The end of a chapter just gives you time to catch your breath before you're driven on to find out what happens next.
  • If you start reading it on your own, or out loud together, you might not be able to take advantage of the audio book. It is well done, but once they were used to "my" voices, they couldn't switch readers. :-)
  • Two people die in this book. Don't worry, that's not some big plot buster that I just threw in there, but I did pre-read the first chapter and decided to paraphrase it for my varied aged children. It isn't an overly gory description, but I didn't feel my kids needed to know too much beyond, "She died." The butterflies are significant to the story, so I read about that, but skipped some of the narration of her mother's passing that I thought might be too much for young ears.
  • The slave business wasn't pretty, and although the book doesn't go into great detail, you can't talk about slavery and write a book for very small children to enjoy at the same time. We had some weighty conversations through the book and reminders of this awful practice.


I would definitely recommend these books, (well at least the first one, but I would expect the others bring more of the same) just not for a very young or sensitive audience. And, the author is quite a gentleman to work with. He works to stay connected to his past and even volunteers at a living history museum. He hand autographs each book ordered through his site and his grandfatherliness comes through in his writing. The only downside, now we have to wait for the next book to find out how the story continues.


For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge from Sarah Books as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Verse of the week -- Isaiah 42:13

How would you define real?

What is "reality"?

Clearly, "reality" TV strays pretty far from real.

Sometimes I get so blinded by the physical world, that I forget about the true reality. Can anything be more real than God?

Yet, how truly real is God in your life? God is again sharpening my vision. My nearsightedness often ignores the real battle, the real world, going on each day around me.


The intense combat between the eternal, holy God and the vile, evil Satan. He prowls about, waiting for me to stumble. I must remember that, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

As He often does, God has whispered this topic throughout church services, small group studies, family read alouds, and personal quiet times.

Some excerpts from Tozer:
- To most people God is an inference, not a reality

- He remains personally unknown to the individual

- To many others, God is but an ideal

- What do I mean by reality? I meant hat which has existence apart from any idea any mind may have of it

- God is real in the absolute and final sense that nothing else is.

- All other reality is contingent upon His.

It is as nonsensical to say God does not exist as to say my house does not exist. He is my foundation, my filter to the world, my shelter from the storms, the stronghold of my family.


And, also real is the opposing side. Spiritual war takes place all around me, my children, my family, my friends. This reality drives me constantly to pray, and increasingly so. Praying for protection and growth, and a focus on what is truly real.

Scripture reminds us often of this battle. Isaiah 42:13 says,"The LORD will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies."

We know the final score, too. But, in the meantime, I fight on my knees to do my part and help to prevent unnecessary fatalities.

The LORD will go forth like a warrior,
He will arouse His zeal like a man of war.
He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry.
He will prevail against His enemies.
~Isaiah 42:13~

Sunday, October 11, 2009

TOS Crew review --Guardian Angel Publishing

Homeschoolers can never get enough books -- curriculum, e-books, classics, library books, used books, new books -- most homeschoolers struggle with balance in this area, and our kids reap the benefits of our lack of moderation.


Guardian Angel Publishing works to put into print books that they consider safe for children. Their collection continues to grow and they even have a few free downloads available, and some Spanish titles.

Product: Ebooks from Guardian Angel Publishing (see various titles below)
Details: Various topics and content. All geared toward children including picture books, early readers, and more independent readers. Topics include religious, fiction, and educational.
Cost
: $5 for most ebook downloads or PRINT Book $10.95+$6.95 S&H

We had the opportunity to review five of their ebooks. A brief summary and our thoughts on each:

No Bones About It shares a lighthearted look at our bony frame. Throughout the illustrations they show each bone and discuss its placement in the body structure. If you want a handy rhyme for your children to memorize to learn the locations of various bones, this book provides that as well. The book doesn't get bogged down in details, but walks you quickly through each bone in the body, offering some interesting facts along the way.

My kids enjoyed this book, and it gave us lots to talk and think about. My younger kids got a little spooked by some of the pictures, but my 8-12 year olds did not have a problem with all the bones. We still have a long way to go to actually know the names of all the bones, but at least now we have a tool to help in the process.

In Gifts from God, Cynthia Reeg pairs Scripture verses with real life pictures to help children see the gifts of God in the world around them. She tries to reveal the emotions of God in the blessings He pours out on us -- the warm light is like His smile, the cooing doves like a song,

While I recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from God, at times I felt like the books was stretching to put God in the tangible surroundings. Saying "God flows beneath me" with a picture of a person boating in a river didn't sound right to me. I appreciated the reminder to recognize God's gifts all around me, but didn't always like the length that the author went to stress that.



Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair is part of a series of books that build on the friendship between a boy in a wheelchair and an albino horse named Spirit. While the illustrations were a bit stiff, my horse loving kids were drawn in to the story. The story is simple and straightforward, but shares encouragement for anyone who has felt a little different at times. I'm sure we would enjoy the other stories in the series as well.

















Rainbow Sheep offers a cute story with unique illustrations made of various fiber crafts.

At the end of the book the creator offers some background information on felting as well as instructions to complete a couple felting projects at home if you are interested. I always enjoy books that give you a hands on way to bring the book into the school day. We have made felted soaps in the past, so my children were already familiar with this process, and had a greater appreciation for the pictures in the book as a result. Of all the books we received, Rainbow Sheep was my favorite.

Earthquake provides lots of information at a child's level on this incredible natural disaster. The book is written in a conversational tone, and at times oversimplified (classifying earthquakes as smaller, medium and bigger, for example, although still with an explanation of the Richter scale). The book does offer some interesting information on earthquake preparedness, which it encourages everyone to take advantage of because almost every state has had an earthquake at some time or another.

Overall, while I didn't feel the book was well organized or a very challenging read, it does contain a lot of information, interesting trivia, and colorful graphics that most kids would enjoy reading along with. And, especially boys seem to have a fascination with disastrous events.


In general, the quality of the illustrations in most of the books did not impress me, but their content generally had a lot to offer. They would be a bit pricey if ordering the print editions, taking shipping into consideration, but the downloadable ebooks would be perfect for a variety of unit studies. Especially if you have limited access to a library, Guardian Angel Publishing could help provide you with more information in a concise, visual format to supplement your study.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.


Disclaimer: These ebooks were provided to me free of charge from Guardian Angel Publishing as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and thoughts.

Verse of the week - Matthew 5:16

Spending some extra quiet time with the family this weekend, so this is a rerun of an old favorite of mine:

Apparently, some improv people got together and pulled a little prank on the city of New York. This video shows a unique stunt played by some 200 people who stood frozen in time for 5 minutes in the middle of the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station.



This video clip has floated around the web a bit and it got me to thinking.


The following passage in Matthew 5:13-16 came to mind, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

If 200 Christians went into the Main Concourse determined to live out their faith for 5 minutes would it make the world stop and wonder? What would it look like? Would people notice the difference between us and others? Would our light shine non-ignorably? Two hundred people in that vast concourse wasn’t really too many, but they had a profound impact on the environment and no one could pass through without noticing that something unusual was taking place.

If Christians truly lived out their faith, even as a small minority of the population, it should make those around us stop and wonder. They should see our good deeds and praise God, bring glory to Him.

How often do I hide my faith, blend in with the crowd, go with the flow?

What if I were frozen in time and only God moved in and through me?

In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven
~Matthew 5:16~

Monday, October 5, 2009

Amy Carmichael -- Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God

Loved this poem by Amy Carmichael and had to share:


From prayer that asks that I may be

Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,

From fearing when I should aspire,

From faltering when I should climb higher,

From silken self, O Captain, Free

Thy soldier who would follow Thee.


From subtle love of softening things,

From easy choices, weakenings,

(Not thus are spirits fortified,

Not this way went the Crucified,)

From all that dims Thy Calvary,

O Lamb of God, deliver me.


Give me the love that leads the way,

The faith that nothing can dismay

The hope no disappointments tire

The passion that will burn like fire,

Let me not sink to be a clod:

Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.


Amy had faced an unbelievable year of loss and challenge. We could not even relate to the number of significant mentors and sources of human strength that disappeared from her life at that time. Yet, her faith remained her rock solid source of direction.

Others questioned, "How could this be for the best?"

Amy's determined response, "We are not asked to SEE. Why need we when we KNOW?"

They would sigh and harbor bitterness.

Amy said, "There is only one way of victory over the bitterness and rage that come naturally to us -- To will what God wills brings peace."


She offers so much depth of insight and understanding, or at least acceptance of the ache and loss that we will continue to know on this sinful, fallen earth.


At least we know how the story ends.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- Nature Friend

Our home contains at least two serious animal lovers, and many others with a slightly more passive interest in nature and God's creation. When Nature Friend magazine arrived at our door it found a quick, captive audience.

Nature Friend

Product: Nature Friend Magazine
Details: Monthly magazine (12 times a year) that focuses on helping children, and adults, appreciate God's creation through dramatic photography, informative articles, and fun activities.
Cost: $36 a year and you can add a study guide tailor made for each issue for $2 per issue.

What we loved . . .

Biblically founded study of creation

Amazing pictures!

Activities to correspond to the learning

Cross-curriculum activities (science, art, English, photography, cooking, and others)

Multi-age interest (all my kids enjoyed the stories and articles to varying degrees, from pre-school to middle school)

Hidden pictures, and hunting for objects throughout the magazine

The Study Guide adds a greater dimension of intentional learning to the reading of the magazine. This really turns it from a cute, nature magazine into a homeschool resource. The study guide contains word games, writing prompts, behind the scenes insights, and various other activities on top of what the magazine already offers.

What we tweaked . . .

If used a couple times a week, you could pretty easily stretch the content of this magazine for a month until the next one arrives, integrating with or using it as your science studies.

Every activity and article did not capture our interest, so some we moved through more quickly than others, but we easily filled more than a few afternoons with the information and pictures contained within.

Every month they have a picture to learn to draw, and send in your finished product for publishing in a few months. It was fun to attempt these together and learn through a more formal drawing lesson than we have had in the past. We still have a lot to learn in the drawing arena, but it was a great start.


My younger kids (through third grade) did enjoy this magazine a bit more than the older kids, so I did spend more time on it with them.


If you have a nature lover, or are looking for something fresh for your science discoveries, Nature Friend Magazine may provide that. Of course, you can check out a few more reviews if you are interested as well, at the TOS Crew blog.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Verse of the week -- Revelation 2:2

When I attend church on Sunday I try to come with an attitude of giving and servant hood. But, sometime I arrive seeking encouragement and comfort. Other times God meets me where I sit and overwhelms me with His love regardless of my state of mind as I entered His sanctuary.


A verse from the sermon this past week has clung to me, and strengthened my at times weak hands. Revelation 2:2 says, "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false."


As soon as the pastor read those words, God tumbled me gently through them, washing away my discouragement and self-disappointment. As moms we work so hard without an audience to recognize our labors. Oh wait. We do have an audience. God watches each day, each moment and sees all that we pour out of ourselves. He knows when we struggle, He knows when we give every drop we have to our families. He knows when we disappoint our harshest critic -- ourselves.


God sees. He knows my works. He knows how patiently I toil through the daily life of a homeschool mom. He sees my tenacity for truth in my household, my impatience with evil.

And, of course, He sees my imperfections, and knowing them from before the foundation of the world made a plan to save me.


I pray that you find comfort in these verses as well. God sees all that you do each day. He sees your labors and your unwavering work in the home. Keep it up, because if God acknowledges it, nothing else much matters.


I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance,
and how you cannot bear with those who are evil,
but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not,
and found them to be false.

~Revelation 2:2~