Monday, December 30, 2013

New Beginnings

2 Corinthians 5:16-18
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation

Over the next several days, or even weeks, people everywhere will be making New Year's Resolutions.  Things like get fit, lose weight, save money, and spend more time with the family.  I read one blog where the writer gave suggestions on how to have more sex with one's spouse.  The sermon at church this week was to complain less during the new year.  Even I will be making, and hopefully keeping, some resolutions.  

But one thing I believe we need to reflect on, before singing Auld Lang Syne and kissing our sweethearts at the stroke of midnight, is that followers of Jesus Christ are already new creations.  In the eyes of the very God who created us, because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we accepted, we are no longer sinners, but saints.  That is awesome news!

Now the trick is for us to remember that we can choose oatmeal for breakfast instead of the chocolate creme doughnut that is calling our names a bit too loudly, because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Philippians 4:12-13
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

God bless

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm His Wife, Not His Mother

I sometimes hear divorced men talk about how mean or manipulative their ex-wife was whenever he did something for which she didn't approve.  My husband has said it about his ex-wife and a friend has said it about his.  I can't help but wonder if women like these think their husbands are children who need to be disciplined.  It most definitely shows a complete lack of respect for her husband.

There are a number of traffic lights in the city in which we live that have cameras set up to catch people who run red lights.  We have one right near our home.  In the mail today we received a notification with photos of our truck caught on camera.  We are currently a one vehicle home and my husband has it most of the time, so we are fairly certain he was the one driving.  (Trust me, I checked.)

I could have been hopping mad, berating him like a small child because this violation takes money away that we can't afford to part with.  But instead I chose to partner with him to determine if it would be better to dispute or pay this violation.  No conflicts, arguments, hissy-fits or temper tantrums.  He is a grown man and I am his wife, therefore I am his partner and suitable help meet and must conduct myself accordingly.

Are you trying to mother your husband or partner with him?  How successful is your approach?

Ephesians 5:32-33
32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Can Formality be a Form of Respect?

“‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

When I was growing up my mom insisted I call some adults Mr. or Mrs. with their family name.  Mr. Geek grew up calling nearly all adults outside his family Mr. or Miss with their first name.  He also was taught to say Sir or Ma'am, where I was not.  Even the family titles of Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa also carry an element of formality important to teaching respect.

I believe this was a good thing.  When children learn to address their elders formally it becomes easier for them to learn to show respect.  I believe the two go hand in hand.  I say this with the assumption that the parents are already demonstrating respect in their home.

There is a woman in my church who teaches middle school science.  During Sunday School today she was talking about how disrespectful her students are with her.  If they're disrespectful with her then they are also disrespectful with other teachers, and authority figures in general.  

When I was in high school one of my classmates insisted on calling the teacher by her first name instead of her formal name.  He rarely did as she asked and showed her little respect in her own classroom.

On the flip side, I was in the grocery store a few months ago and got to witness an exchange between the young man bagging my groceries and the cashier.  He called her Miss <name> and said 'yes ma'am' and 'no ma'am'.  I couldn't help but be impressed with how well his parents taught him to show respect.

Mr. Geek and I are trying to teach our son to show respect through elements of formality.  I hope we do as well teaching Monster as the young man above.

1 Peter 2:16-17

16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Homeschooling Conversations

I know this picture doesn't completely match the post, but I thought a picture of my son and husband doing their father & son date at Lowe's Build and Grow was too cute to pass up.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

My husband and I have an ongoing conversation about how to best school our son when he is ready to start kindergarten next year.  It's not a conversation we've had with too many people in our extended family, yet.  In some cases, it's not a conversation I particularly look forward to.  In a post from So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler she talks about being prepared to explain to our friends and families about our homeschooling decision.  So, in light of that I am going to practice what I would like to say.

Many of the public schools in the city we live has police officers walking the halls.  Mr. Geek and I agree that we don't want our son in that type of environment.  And our finances don't allow for private school, so that leaves homeschooling.  My reasons go deeper than that.  I want my son to do better than I have in a hundred different ways.  

I want him to have a close walk with the Lord from a very young age all the way through his life.  It's not to say that he can't have that same walk if he were in public schools, it's just that it would be harder.  Sometime down the road someone will fill his ears with the lies of this world.  It just should not be while he is a young, impressionable child.  My hope is that when that time does come he will have knowledge of the Bible to back up any lies he may be told.

No, I don't have a degree or teaching credentials.  But according to research homeschooled kids score at least 30% better on standardized tests than their public schooled counterparts.  I find that very reassuring considering I have a high school diploma, but no more.

My Monster is very smart.  He may not be a genius or a gifted learner, but is intelligent for his age.  I want him to not only know what is being taught in the public school systems, but my hope is for him to far surpass it.  I want him to have a love for learning to carry him throughout his whole life.  And I want him to understand what he learns.  This 8th grade exam from a century ago required the students to answer the questions in sentence form.  This ensured the students understood what they were taught.  I remember very few tests from school that weren't true/false or multiple choice.  I knew the material well enough to pass the tests but understanding the material may have been a different story.  That was evident when I took Economics in high school.  I failed all my tests that required long answers, but the tests that were multiple choice I passed.  

I have great respect for public school teachers.  I really do.  They have to teach a classroom full of children, usually around 25 to 30, while maintaining discipline.  But one teacher, or one teacher and an aide, teaching that many children gives little or no room for going back over material that the students may not understand, deviating very much from standard teaching practices, or individual attention to students who may need it.  Add to that the additional requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Common Core standards, while both noble in their intent, make the teachers' job seem impossible and, sadly, the students would be the ones to suffer.   

And, of course, the dreaded question that every homeschool parent gets; socialization.  Which would be better: a child who learns to run with the pack and does whatever he can to fit in? or one who learns to show respect and courtesy to everyone he meets?  Yes, I know this trait can be taught to a child who is public schooled, but I see it more evident in kids who have been homeschooled.  The Homeschool Scientist has a great post on this.

Do you homeschool?  How do you handle inquiring minds?
Deuteronomy 6:6-8
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Taboo Topic

Matthew 19:1-6

King James Version (KJV)
19 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

The Lord has been prodding me to write about something that I've been avoiding.  Homosexuality.  I have been avoiding this because it is such a hot topic and because I have little or no expertise.

Many people who support gay marriages try to claim that Jesus never said homosexuality is a sin.  I will concede that most people who say this don't understand that Jesus and God the Father are one in the same, or that God wrote the Bible using the hands of willing men and women.  Although Jesus was directly addressing divorce (another sin, by the way) he also covered homosexuality by quoting Genesis 2:24.

In my post We Can Choose to Love? I said if love were not a choice then same-sex relationships would be a myth.  Let me explain this.  If love were not a choice we would always be doing love God's way and God doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.  But since it is a choice we choose who we love and how we love them.

Now I am not saying that we will not find homosexuals in heaven when we get there.  I absolutely do believe there will be some there.  Some people will overcome these temptations but most will struggle their entire lives and never fully overcome.  If a person, regardless of his or her sin, truly and sincerely accepts God's free gift of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and repents of his or her sins that person will be found in heaven.

And to the people who believe God hates gays; you're very, very wrong.  God love all of us.  It is our sins that He hates.  It is because of our sins that the sinless Son of God chose to die for us.  Everyone is capable of repentance, but everyone must choose it for him or herself.

John 3:16
King James Version (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We Can Choose to Love?

Matthew 22:35-40

King James Version (KJV)
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Not long after my husband and I got married I told him that I choose to love him.  I know, that's not very romantic.  But I had allowed myself to be led astray too many times by the feelings that come with new relationships.  By the feelings of excitement and wonder of a new romance.  I had learned not to trust those feelings so I decided that I needed to be much more analytically in choosing my mate.

My husband and I dated in high school for about a year, so I already knew his character when we finally reunited nearly 20 years later.  No, I did not have the fireworks and the swooning and all that other happy horse manure that comes with a new relationship.  I chose to love him.

Love is a verb.  It's a 'doing' word.  Love is less about what you feel and what you get out of it and more about what you do for another.  And love is a choice.  All types of love, not just romantic.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

If love weren't a choice, mothers wouldn't be able to abort their unborn babies.  If love weren't a choice, divorce rates would be almost unheard of.  If love weren't a choice, all types of violent crimes, including domestic abuse, would be nonexistent.  If love were not a choice, same-sex relationships would be a myth.  But love is a choice.

I don't claim to have this all figured out.  I am not always very loving toward my family.  I am often selfish and look out for myself.  I sometimes neglect to show love to my family.  I have been known to walk past someone homeless on the street without choosing to show love.  I'm not writing this just for the reader, but also to remind myself, that I need to choose to do love every day.

God chose to do love for us.  We need to choose to do love for others.

Matthew 25:35-40

King James Version (KJV)
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2001 Remembered

When the events on 9/11 happened I was working in a busy call center in Pennsylvania.  At the time there were over one hundred customers in the queue waiting to be helped.  Within minutes of first plane hitting the World Trade Center our customers in queue dropped down to none.  At first we had no idea what was going on.  Initially we believed our phone system went down.  It wasn't until we had a few calls trickle in from customers that we started to get a clue as to what happened.  Then someone who sat near me, who had internet connection (the majority of us didn't) looked it up to keep the rest of us in the loop.  I think most of us were dumbfounded at first.  I remember someone running from the call center floor because she knew someone who worked in the World Trade Center.

I sat across from a Muslim girl.  In the early moments of the tragedy we didn't yet know who was responsible.  She was the first to say she believed Muslims were going to be blamed for it.  I am someone who would rather believe the best about people, so I wanted to dismiss her fears.  I think initially I did.  Then the reports began to trickle as to who was behind the attacks.

When my shift was over I went to see my horse.  There, at the stable where I boarded my horse, it finally sunk in in full force as to the horrors happened that day.  That's when I broke down.  I didn't lose anyone personally that day, but my heart broke for all who did.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Humble Pie

1 Peter 5:5-6

King James Version (KJV)
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

Humility is so difficult for most people, I think.  Either we consider it a weakness or we have a warped sense of what the word means.  I don't consider myself to be prideful, but at the same time I'm not the most humble person around, either.  Beliefnet put a link on Facebook today to take a quiz on how humble we are.  I took the quiz, and the results were much of what I expected.  My results stated that I have some pride but am working on changing it.  Seems like I've been trying to change it forever.  

I was reading 'The Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis today.  For those of you who may not be familiar with this book, Lewis writes from the perspective of a demon named Screwtape, who writes letters to his nephew giving instructions on how to best derail someone's faith.  Screwtape often refers to God the Father as 'The Enemy,' so please don't let that confuse you when you read the quotes.  Here is a quote from the book that I find myself often believing:

"You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility.  Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character.......Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be."

I oftentimes have a low self-opinion.  If I were asked to name my talents I would be hard pressed to find even one.  If someone were to compliment me I would often dismiss it in favor of my own much lower self-opinion.  What I should be doing is graciously accepting their compliment for what it is without allowing it to either inflate my ego or dismissing it out of hand.

On the next page Screwtape continues to write:  "The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents--or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.  He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things."

Earlier in this post that we often think humility as a weakness.  We want to be recognized for our accomplishments or the good things we do.  This is not God's desire for us.  He wants us to put the needs of other people ahead of our desires without seeking out a pat on the back from other people.  In due time God will give us all the recognition we will ever need.

While writing this my husband kept interrupting me with what he is doing on his video game.  I had the thought that he is interrupting my train of thought and this blog is more important than his game.  Immediately following I had this verse come to my mind:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Yes, I most definitely need to work on my pride.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Contentment is a Choice

1 Timothy 6:6-12

King James Version (KJV)
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

This morning when I opened my 'Daily Bread' devotional (I have one on my computer) and I read about contentment, it got me thinking.  This is a tough one for me, I think.  With being a one income home, we have very little money to spare.  I think of all the things I want for myself and for my family, but that's exactly what they are; wants, not needs.  

I would like to have a second vehicle for our home, but the one we have works well, for the most part, and we have made due with one vehicle for nearly 4 years.  We can continue to do so.  And so I must be content in this.

I would like to go clothes shopping, but I have enough clothes that currently fit.  I have a sewing machine and am learning how to sew so that I can make my own clothes.  And so, in this, I must be content.  

We have enough food.  Although it may be tight, we have enough money.  We always have enough love.  We have enough of what we need, and where we are lacking, God will provide.  Therefore, I choose to be content.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Research into Homeschooling

Deuteronomy 6:7-9

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

I know I've said this before (like 7 months ago) that I need to make this blog much more regular.  I've been getting nudges from the Holy Spirit into my spirit.  But because of the person I am, I procrastinate horribly.  Let's see if I can do any better going forward.

My son (whom I often refer to as my Monster) is in K4 preschool this year.  This preschool is an extension of the church to which my family belongs.  Next year he will be starting kindergarten.  My husband and I have agreed that public schools are not the right choice for our son.  We calculated, to the best of our ability, that if we were to start the Monster in kindergarten next year in the school that is affiliated with our church that it would require our entire tax return check and we would still have to shell out additional money for uniforms and supplies.  And so this has led me to research homeschooling. 

I've had to look up the types of things kids learn in kindergarten.  I researched homeschooling laws in my state.  I'm researching teaching methods.  I will need to research curriculum or determine what I would need to put together my own.  So far I have come up with the following subjects that I would like to work on with him (subject to change, of course):

Reading ~ He is already reading at a 1st grade level.
Spelling/Vocabulary ~ He already knows the spelling words I found for kindergarten, so I may need to use 1st grade level words.
Handwriting ~ One can tell what he is writing most of the time, but many of the letters are backwards.
Math ~ He can count like nobody's business, and can recognize and write his numbers, but still has much to learn.
Physical Education ~ This will probably be playground play.  Nothing formal or organized yet.
Social Studies ~ Although I have a few vague ideas where to begin, I need to put some thought into this one.
Science ~ I expect this one will be a lot of nature walks and library books.
A Second Language ~  I'm thinking probably Spanish, because that would be most practical for where we live.  I may lay this one firmly on my husband's shoulders since he already speaks the language.  (Love ya, Hunny :D )
Bible ~ When I was 5 years old my parents gave me 'The Illustrated Children's Bible' for Christmas.  It has 103 stories from the Bible, all scripturally accurate.  I would probably use this as my textbook for this course and see if I can find free worksheets and coloring pages online. 
Art ~ At this age, this one should be easy.
Music ~ I wonder if blasting Country or Worship music would cover this category?  Probably not.  I'll have to put some thought and effort into this one since music is not my strength.

This is going to be as much of a learning experience for me as it is for him.  Thankfully, I have some time to get at least some of my ducks in a row.  From what I have read on some of the homeschooling blogs, it isn't necessary to plan my curriculum for the entire school year before I start teaching him, only to plan ahead a little bit at a time. I expect this next year is going to fly by entirely too quickly.

Are any of you homeschoolers?  Do you have any wisdom that can be gleaned by beginners?  I would love to hear any suggestions that you may have to offer.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.