Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Freebie

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3

Finding our greatest joy in Him. Whether cooking, washing dishes, or scrubbing bathrooms, how can a busy Mom practice the presence of God in all things? How can we make finding the love of God the end of all things? Brother Lawrence offers insight into finding our satisfaction and joy in God during the "dailies."

From Learn Out Loud:

With this weekend being Easter and today being Good Friday we're happy to bring you a free full-length audiobook entitled The Practice of the Presence of God. Written by Brother Lawrence in the 17th century, this book is a description of his constant reflection and attention to God throughout all of his daily activities. This title is made available for free courtesy of We encourage you to visit their website for more thoughtful Christian audio titles.

The Practice of the Presence of God

Have a blessed Good Friday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Radical Effects of the Resurrection

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. . . . Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:19, 30-32, 20)

Paul ponders how he would assess his lifestyle if there were no resurrection from the dead. He says it would be ridiculous-pitiable. The resurrection guided and empowered him to do things which would be ludicrous without the hope of resurrection.

For example, Paul looks at all the dangers he willingly faces. He says they come "every hour." On frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers. (2 Corinthians 11:26)

Then he considers the extent of his self-denial and says, "I die every day." This is Paul's experience of what Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." I take this to mean that there was something pleasant that Paul had to put to death every day. No day was without the death of some desire.

. . . with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea . . . 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:22-28)
Then he recalls that he "fought with beasts at Ephesus." We don't know what he is referring to. A certain kind of opponent to the gospel is called a beast in 2 Peter 1:10 and Jude 10. In any case, it was utterly disheartening.

We do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (2 Corinthians 1:8)

So Paul concludes from his hourly danger and his daily dying and his fighting with beasts that the life he has chosen in following Jesus is foolish and pitiable if he will not be raised from the dead. "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." In other words, only the resurrection with Christ and the joys of eternity can make sense out of this suffering.

If death were the end of the matter, he says, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." This doesn't mean: Let's all become gluttons and drunkards. They are pitiable too-with or without the resurrection. He means: If there is no resurrection, what makes sense is middle-class moderation to maximize earthly pleasures.

But that is not what Paul chooses. He chooses suffering, because he chooses obedience. When Ananias came to him at his conversion with the words from the Lord Jesus, "I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name" ( Acts 9:16), Paul accepted this as part of his calling. Suffer he must.

How could Paul do it? What was the source of this radical obedience? The answer is given in 1 Corinthians 15:20: "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." In other words, Christ was raised, and I will be raised with him. Therefore, nothing suffered for Jesus is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

The hope of the resurrection radically changed the way Paul lived. It freed him from materialism and consumerism. It gave him the power to go without things that many people feel they must have in this life. For example, though he had the right to marry (1 Corinthians 9:5), he renounced that pleasure because he was called to bear so much suffering. This he did because of the resurrection.

This is the way Jesus said the hope of the resurrection is supposed to change our behavior. For example, he told us to invite to our homes people who cannot pay us back in this life. How are we to be motivated to do this? "You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:14).

This is a radical call for us to look hard at out present lives to see if they are shaped by the hope of the resurrection. Do we make decisions on the basis of gain in this world or gain in the next? Do we take risks for love's sake that can only be explained as wise if there is a resurrection?

Do we lose heart when our bodies give way to the aging process, and we have to admit that we will never do certain things again. Or do we look to the resurrection and take heart?

We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

I pray that we will rededicate ourselves during this Easter season to a lifetime of letting the resurrection have its radical effects.

Pastor John

© Desiring God

Weekly Update

Our year is flying by! Here is a peek into our homeschool and what we are currently studying. I uploaded a few pictures our week.

Memory Work
Southern African Countries and Capitals
Romans 12

Acts (Studying God's Word series)

Social Studies
Kenya - Culture and Geography (Enchantment of the World series)
Readings from "World Book" on Africa
finishing up making Africa thematic maps using ideas from Trail Guide to World Geography
IMAX Film: "Kilamanjaro"
History Chanel Film: "The Sahara"


Physics: Understanding and Measuring Matter (CyberEd Physical Science)

Drawing with Angles, Making Line Graphs, Square Roots (CLE Mathematics)

Read an African proverb each day and explained the meaning.

Language Arts
Scrapbook page on "Niger"
Italic Cursive Handwriting (copied a selection from Enchantment of the World: Niger)
Literature: Winnie: The Horse Gentler # 3
Typing software - current speed is 15 wpm
Vocabulary book: Swahili/English translation of "Jambo!" song of Kenya

Read about and made a "Galimoto Wire Toy." These wheeled toys made out of simple wire are common throughout Africa.

Jambo! from Kenya

Family Read Aloud: Plain Girl

Family Movie: 'Hotel Rwanda'

WE also took a field trip with our co-op to a local amusement park, but it was more fun than educational. I suppose I could count it as a cardio workout, with all the running around and carrying on the kids did. : )

Have a great week in the Lord!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Handicraft Idea - Paper Quilling

We were recently introduced at KEEPERS to this engrossing, antique handicraft. I had never heard of it before! Perhaps this will be new for you, too, although it has been around since at least Renaissance times. It's a great creative outlet, and also very inexpensive! All you need is a Paper Quilling tool (under $5 at Michael's), colored typing paper or recycled colored paper, and a paper trimmer to make 1/8" strips of paper.

The girls were taught the basic shapes, and then put them together with their own uniqe designs. We had some pattern ideas out, and they could use these for ideas or come up with their own. Each young lady made four cards.

This is a wonderful way to embellish cards and scrapbooks. It is fun and easy! Miss M has been having a ball with this handicraft, and made some beautiful cards along the way. You can Google "Paper Quilling," for more info, and here are some of the sites I found. Have fun crafting!

What is Quilling?

Basic Shapes

Easy Crafts

Directory of Quilling sites

Card Inspirations:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fall Earth Science Plans Revealed!

This fall we plan to cover Earth Science and some Astronomy, in addition to our general science meanderings. Currently I teach science at a co-op, so these plans are set up for multiple ages, grades 1-8. There are only enough lessons to cover a semester of course work. In addition to these plans, I will include topics of personal interest to my dd and topics related to history/geography. Another route to go would be to teach a second semester on weather, environmental concerns, and oceans.

I like to coordinate resources, and then pull from here and there to come up with "my own thing" that suits my teaching style. Science is one of my favorite subjects, so it is important to keep the love of the subject alive in my students, rather than dwelling on how many minute facts per minute I can cram in.

A balance of vocabulary (I think of science as having it's own language), scientific literacy, and hands-on inquiry works best for me. To fall into a ditch of either
reading only or hands-on only is not best practice. The kids need a framework to 'hang' their inquiries on. We can balance both, while keeping the students' natural curiosity intact. Too much drilling and testing too early can kill that.

An excellent source of science assistance can also come in the form of a good software program, such as Plato Science by CyberEd. You can see a demonstration at the FAQ page at Homeschool Buyer's. This program does instruction, virtual experiments, application questions, and testing on each topic. If your middle school-age child likes to work on the computer, this product is great! I would supplement with an experiment book that can be enjoyed by the whole family, such as an appropriate VanCleave or TOPS.

I'm sure this won't be a surprise, but I am not a fan of workbook science. If direct instruction is absolutely not an option, I would consider signing up for a science/nature study class or buying some good software to balance science reading. Making time for hands-on inquiries is essential -- I don't consider it an "extra" from about 5th grade and up. Hands-on science doesn't have to be done every week - but so much of the *joy* of science is in the "doing." Make time for it somewhere in your schedule. Keep your family together in science so that you can question, experience, discuss and read together! A schedule like mine would be one resource toward that end. Science products designed to facilitate families with a range of ages learning together include the Christian Kids Explore series, Apologia Elementary, and Great Science Adventures.

Consider blocking off one day a week, or a few weeks in your semester to devote to hands-on science. Spend the money and buy kits so everything is handy. If science is lacking at your house, consider starting a short term (6 weeks or so) science co-op with a friend so you can encourage one another and share the work!

Science for me is about asking questions, attempting to answer them through experimentation and demonstration, while teaching "the language" of science. A little imagination sure helps, too.
I would rather cover fewer science topics and cover them WELL. It is so rewarding to see those eyes light up! All it takes is a little planning ahead and a bit of room in my schedule. Science is a real joy - and worth the extra effort.

Exploring Earth & Space 2008-9


What are the Physical Features of the Earth?
What is the lithosphere

What are faults in the lithosphere?
What are Earthquakes

How are Mountains Formed?

What is a Volcano

What are Igneous and Sedimentary Rocks

What are Metamorphic Rocks?

What is Soil

What are Earth's mineral resourc

What is weathering and erosion?
How do glaciers affect the land

How do rivers shape the land?
What special features do rivers form? (Younger: What are the special features of a Forest?)
What are caves? (Younger: What do we know about the African savannah?)
What are tsunamis, hurricanes & the Ring of Fire?
How does ocean movement alter coastlines? (Younger: What do we know about polar regions?)
What are the features of the ocean floor?
What do we know about deserts?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Newest Lunch Menu

This new menu is what my husband came up with when I asked for help planning something new and different (but healthy!) for lunch. I think he did a great job, and I can't wait to try these recipes! One helpful thing about is that most of the recipes have reviews with modification suggestions. Plus, the nutrition info is included.


Spicy Turkey Wraps with Strawberry Salsa

Black Bean and Couscous Salad

Soup and Sandwich - kid's choice

Mediterranean Turkey Pita Fold

Blackberry Spinach Salad

Planning for meals makes eating healthy a snap! It's amazing how much better we eat when I plan ahead a bit.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Africa Unit Study

If you read my blog, you already know that our family is currently studying Africa in our homeschool. I thought I would compile some of the resources we are using in a more organized fashion, and add to them as our study progresses.

Suggested Length of Study
North Africa - 2 weeks
West Africa - 2 weeks
East Africa - 2 weeks
South Africa - 2 weeks

Culture and History
World Book Encyclopedia CD or Book - "Africa"
Enchantment of the World series- choose a minimum of 4 countries to learn about from various regions (North, East, West, South)
A Glorious Age in Africa by Chu and Skinner
Eyewitness Africa
Create scrapbook pages, timelines, copywork, mini-books, or oral reports.

Star of Light
Journey to Jo'burg
by Beverly Naidoo
The Rat-Catcher's Son
by Carolyn London
African Folk Tales by Hugh Vernon-Jackson (Dover Thrift)
Beat the Story Drum, Pum-Pum by Ashley Bryan

Trial by Poison: Mary Slessor (Trailblazer Books)
Escape from the Slave Traders: David Livingston (Trailblazer Books)

Sand on the Move: The Story of Dunes
other books about deserts
Zoobooks about various African Animals:
Elephant, Giraffe, Rhinos, Hyenas, Lions, Zebras, Cheetahs, Gorillas, etc.
Keep vocabulary book, draw diagrams, create mini-reports.

Copywork and/or Dictation from Africa-related books. Cross-curricular activities such as writing for scrapbook pages and reports.

African music such as African Playground, which features fun, upbeat songs from various countries of Africa or Geo Deo Journey Into Africa Songs

African proverbs

Hands-On Africa: Art Activities for All Ages or Global Art (Africa portions) by Kohl
Journey Into Africa Coloring and Fun Pages
Journey Into Africa How To Draw and Color (African Animals)

Color thematic maps using a World Atlas and blackline maps of Africa - "Countries," "Capitals," "Physical," and "Climate." Color 1 region at a time (North, East, West, South) and add to each of your thematic maps weekly. Or, use suggestions/schedule for "Africa" weeks in Trail Guide to World Geography by Geography Matters.

Videos (preview, use with caution, some are PG-13)
Hotel Rwanda
Africa: The Serengeti: IMAX
National Geographic: Africa: Disc 1
National Geographic: Relentless Enemies
National Geographic: Eye of the Leopard
National Geographic: Wildlife
The History Channel Presents: Sahara
Gorillas in the Mist
Lion of the Desert

Sample Schedule for upper elementary

Poetry - Read and explain the meaning of an African proverb
Memory - Work on memorizing African countries from one region at a time (North, East, West, or South)
History/Culture - World Book, Enchantment of the World, or Biography reading (non-fiction) - 30 minutes
Writing - Copywork, Dictation, mini-report, notebook page or mini-book related to non-fiction reading
Music - Listen to and try to learn one African song for the week
Literature - Fiction Reading - 30 minutes
Other activities as desired

Poetry - Read and explain the meaning of an African proverb
Memory - Work on memorizing African countries from one region at a time (North, East, West, or South)
Science - Science Reading (Deserts or African Animals) - 30 minutes. Define 5 vocabulary words and draw one diagram from Science reading
Music - Listen to and try to learn one African song for the week
Literature - Fiction Reading - 30 minutes
Other activities as desired

Friday (Hands-on Day!)
Art - have child choose a more involved craft project from Hands On Africa, Global Art, have her draw African animals as directed in
Journey Into Africa How To Draw and Color or choose a project from another activity book - 60 minutes +
Geography - color thematic maps, work on
Trail Guide to World Geography "Africa" if available, or create other Africa-related geography project - 60 minutes +
Finish or begin a notebook page on something learned this week. Consider adding images from the internet and building it into a scrapbook or 3-D page - 60 minutes +
Practical Life - cook an African food
Play African games
Talk about what you learned this week, and share questions you may be curious about
Watch a VIDEO
Other activities as desired