Say What..?

I often have said that sports or one of those things that only take away from the things that matter eternally.

However I have spent the past few months with a most amazing group of kids and parents. I have been reminded that God can use all things for His good.

My younger son plays hockey. He doesn’t just play either, he is the team’s goalie. As he has gotten older, the expectations have increased, I have to admit that I have been rather fearful and anxious about the amount of time this sport takes away from church.

I have never been a fan of sports. I admit that my opinion of them has never been very high. I have seen myself however, how wrong I have been. (At least in this instance).

In many ways I have forgotten that we are the church. We are called to go out. How can we be the salt and light to those in need if we never leave our house of worship?

I have learned as I have watched the last few months go by, that we have been truly blessed with this team our son has been placed on. I cannot imagine a more loving and supportive group of people. These are not just members of a team but they are also friends.

This weekend we were away at a winter tournament where these kids (they worked so hard, such well deserved win) took third place in their division.

There were some real ups and downs; I experienced the first real fear for our kids (they faced a team that was just so much bigger than they were – they even took out a goalie on another team I heard) and I also saw such heart and determination in every one of these kids.

Not just for the game but for each other. Their care and concern…. That matters so much.

One of the girls on my son’s team was injured in the game and had to leave with a broken wrist. Oh oh my daughter and I prayed as she left the rink with her parents.

Thank God she made it back and onto the ice to play their final game (which they won by the way). A broken wrist became just a bruised wrist. She even scored the winning goal. Thank you Jesus!

Do we see their hearts? Do we see those relationships being formed?

God is all about those relationships. That is how disciples are made. In knowing and loving them. Where they are at.

I honestly had no idea how powerful a team sport could be until these last few days. I think I got pretty teared up a few times. Praying these kids stick together for another season.

Watching all the kids and their coaches just have fun. Seeing them encourage one another, push one another, stand together. That’s powerful stuff.

Some people may never walk through the doors of a church building. Some may never truly experience power of God. If not for us going out….

I think I have a new burden on my heart. To see every one of these families knowing God for themselves. Loving him, worshipping him, praising him in spirit and in truth.

One may sow and another one reap. We must be willing. How long have I not been willing?

Lord forgive me for my stubbornness and use me, use my family, use us for your glory.

TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

For the Temple {Review}

Every year we are on the Review Crew is SUCH a blessing. But we are especially blessed, over and over again, with amazing historical, Biblically sound, audio dramas from Heirloom Audio. This time around we experienced one of the greatest adventures yet: For the Temple by G.A Henty. We received a physical copy of the discs for this review, as well as an amazing study guide (50+ pages) to accompany this tale. A great way to dig in deeper; understand more and get our hands dirty too! In fact shortly after we started this one, I found myself already getting into all the good stuff, to find some answers and help my kids better understand the background of the story being told.

This is so much than just an audio book, retelling the stories of G.A. Henty. We are big fans of all of his stories and I think we have all of them on our kindle but we all much prefer the audio version. This is definitely an experience. As you listen, you are transported to the very time the story takes place; the characters become so real – it doesn’t take long either for you to really grow attached to them. Here, is perhaps the greatest way for our children to really learn history; you cannot help but be drawn in, big or small, as you sit on the edge of your seat, waiting with such anticipation, totally and completely invested in the story and the characters who have become such dear friends. Oh, and my favorite part? The simple and sound historical lessons that are within; characters who, in my humble opinion, are like iron sharpening iron. There is just so much can you can learn, and be inspired by, in these stories!

It is said that there is much we can learn from the stories of long ago. I have always agreed myself, that we need to understand our history so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Rather we need to know them, and learn from them. As we listened, we heard so many familiar names. There were references made to Jacob and Rachel in the Old Testament. Simeon, Titus, Mary and Martha, Nicodemus … I love seeing how my children connect the dots as they listen to these stories. Beginning to really know and understand how it all goes right back to the Word of God.

In this story, we are transported to Israel; in AD 67 when Nero, the Roman emperor, occupied and had charge. In this tale, we follow John, a vintner’s son, who lives along the Sea of Galilee, he is a peaceable man, waiting to marry his long time friend, Mary. Moments into this story I found myself having to pause because my boys wanted to know more about the weather and the sky. You see John and Mary were out, when they should not have been, and a terrible storm came their way. John is virtuous and protective of Mary, (we had to emphasize this one to our boys!) and he of course, saves her but is then rebuked for not having paid attention to those signs in the sky. Certainly he should have known not to be out on the sea. However, it is also because of the storm, and John’s wit and courage, he meets General Josephus. Perhaps this is where the story, for John, really begins. Battles to be fought; there are zealots stirring things up – I think of the value of unity here – Do we stand and fight together or do we become “easy to conquer” as we fight against one another more?

So much excitement so early on in the tale! Can I say this is just one of many rabbit trails we wandered down as we enjoyed this dramatic story telling? There are just so many moments in every one of these audio dramas that really get your attention. I am often amazed at simple things that really spark curiosity in my kids. So many of the customs that Jewish people observe, even to this day, were present within this story and brought about great discussions about the symbolism and meaning, such as when Simon makes a toast “to life.” Of course my daughter (7) imagined toast being thrown all about because it is “bread of life.” I can only imagine – I love how she puts things together sometimes. Since we have been trying to keep God’s holy days too in the last few years, this was an exciting thing for the kids to hear mention of the Sabbath. Again, it is a great lesson, as we learn about the past, to find our own traditions and celebrations within; isn’t there so much more meaning to what and who we live for?

“The first duty of every Jew is to die, if need be, in defense of the temple.”

As the story progressed, we frequently went to the study guide, a wonderful tool to aid in discussion as well as to explore things a bit more thoroughly. There are three different sections with the guide: Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words. For all of you mommas who use narration with your kiddos, Listening Well is pretty much the same thing. What did you hear? What do you remember? In Thinking Further we have to do some research, maybe look up a couple of things. Find some places on a map, ponder why certain events occurred as they did. My younger son loved looking up all these places on a map (in some cases finding video and photos of “exact” locations where things took place, even specific spots mentioned). My older son spent more time pondering some of the deeper questions that were asked here; I considered many of them to be great for character building. Why did John ask his parents before he agreed to go off to fight? There were also some great opportunities for him to do some drawing – soldiers in their armour – this was quite a fun experience to explore the various attire worn by both sides and do a bit of comparison. And of course in Defining Words we make sure that the more complex words being used are understood. There are also a few Bible Studies found within this guide exploring proper worship, Christ as our temple and that true salvation comes from Christ alone. These pages are full of scripture references to search out; may every one of us see for ourselves the truth that is revealed within the Word of God. Our God is mighty to save!

Image result for sea of galilee map

There are just so many things to explore in this story! My boys were captivated and very involved in studying out the type of training soldiers would have to complete in order to fight. Since my oldest son is very visual, he spent a bit of time looking up various videos to see for himself what it may have looked like so long ago. He and his younger brother also enjoyed testing their own skill with the sword (my younger son loves woodcarving and made them both swords in our garage last summer). Of course this brought about all sorts of discussions in regards to teamwork; communication and obedience to orders given. What if just one soldier decided to act impulsively, against orders? How valuable is the ability to honor those who are in authority over us, even when we may not agree with their ways? My oldest son is a bit of a rebel, rather impulsive and determined to do things “his way” so certainly there were many opportunities for us to explore these traits and how they could at different times and situations, affect those around us.

There is certainly so much more we will be learning as we listen to this one again and again. I tell you, these never get old! No matter how many times we listen to these stories, there is always something new to learn and explore. I know I have an even greater desire to really explore more of Josephus and his writings. There is even a list of recommended reading for older readers we are looking forward to exploring. My boys are eager to continue learning lots more about all these battles that were fought for the temple. They have also been exploring the why and how of battle strategy, along with related topics like: choice weapons, armor, training. travel, edibles, etc. This tale has certainly, again and again, showed us the value of true humility and courage. There are also so many opportunities to explore what it means to be a leader; truly an excellent leader is one who can inspire and build up others in their faith. When we are able to give others hope and purpose, a belief in what we are living and fighting for, I do believe we have become a great leader. As we listen and learn of these amazing men of history, we gain such insight, and hopefully we all grow a bit stronger in our faith – a bit more courageous, compassionate and passionate, for our Lord.

Be sure to check visit our other members of the crew to see what they thought of this riveting adventure!

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Why Angry?

Make no friendship with an angry man …

Maybe it’s because I have a heart for the outcasts (being an outcast myself) but today as I read this I wondered: has anyone dared to ask why he/she is angry?

Perhaps this stood out to me because I have been feeling rather angry myself recently. Feeling used, feeling alone. It’s been a season of struggles. A time when it feels like everything is a battle.

I have been tired and feeling very alone in the many struggles our family has. So many things coming against us…

Yet it has also made.me aware…Of he young lady who is constantly gnawing at her fingernails and fidgeting. The older woman in the back pew, is she angry or does she have a heavy burden she is carrying about, those groups that are always together…they seem completely oblivious of anyone outside of their circle. The momma who is hurting, struggling to get through the day.

Then, last night, our pastor said it. Too many of us are too concerned with ourselves and our immediate friends. We do not look to those who are alone, who are full of sorrow. We don’t notice the lonely and the outcast. So many are uninvited and that is not how it is meant to be.

Perhaps I have become more sensitive to this because I am one of those. I would say that I say I don’t mind but I guess there is a part of me that does. I don’t fit in and I don’t try to.

My closest friends have always been the ones who are unlovable. I have a special place in my heart for those who are dirty, worn and unloved. (Once a social worker always a social worker?)

As I was reading I wondered though – we see people who are angry… Maybe they’re just hurting… We make assumptions because it’s easier and it’s more comfortable. Are we too busy to stop and show compassion?

I know I have been guilty of this too often.

Instead of inviting them in and trying to love them we ignore them. We label them and make a determination as to who they are. We forget they are created in His image just as we are.

I know it’s rather cliche but seriously – what would Jesus do?

We all have bad days. I think those bad days can be better if someone seems to care. In the midst of our trials, is there anyone walking alongside us?

Certainly there are some angry men that we just need to avoid. Of ourself we should, we can pray for them. How often is what we see, a silent plea.

We are so very blessed in so many ways. Do we forget that we were saved so that we could being witness to those who need saving?

It is so easy to get complacent. It is so much more comfortable to just do what we have always been doing. What is everyone of us just reached out? What if we touched one life?

There is so much power in one. Doing that one thing for the Lord. Loving that one person who feels worthless and abandoned.

We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus, getting out there and ministering. Healing the broken hearted and binding up wounds.


Let Me Love

I need more love.

I need more peace.

Lately I have been anything but loving and peaceful.

As I struggle with my oldest son and connecting our family one with another, in a God honoring way, I feel ever more anxious and restless. More irritable, less patience, quicker to shout.

I pray that God would give me more love. That he would show me and fill me with His love not only for my family but for those I meet also.

His love…it’s powerful. It changes us and moves those mountains.

Without that love it is all empty, powerless I know I need to show more love.

I asked the Lord to tell me and show me. Who to love. How to love. Not as the world loves, but as He loves.

God is good. His love endures forever. It is powerful, it can change things. It casts the darkness out. Lord fill me with that kind of love.

Let thy will be done, not mine, but thy will in all things and I will praise you!


Squares Aren’t Circles

I have come to realize (I’m almost embarrassed to say this, what with so many years of homeschooling) but I cannot make the circle fit where the square peg goes.

You should see my house right now. I have been recently excessively purging our home. Closets and shelves and cabinets are open so I can see everything that’s there.

In the process I do believe that God revealed to me how ridiculous I have been. For awhile too. For far too long.

I’m cleaning out cabinets in our learning room and I am finding so many workbooks. Textbooks and study guides.

Except for one, my children pretty much hate these things. Yet I have an abundance of them. You would think that my kids love filling out worksheets from the collection I have developed.

Why is it that I continue to try to force them to learn in a way that’s simply isn’t their own?

I am always trying to encourage other moms who are homeschooling to remember that the best part of homeschooling is the ability to do it our own way. We can see how our children best learn and then we can let them learn that exact way.

And here I am trying to make that puzzle piece fit in a spot where it doesn’t go. Here I am with my little Hammer trying to make that circle fit into the spot where a square is supposed to go.

I came out of the shower this morning to find my oldest son in the kitchen, making pancakes for everyone.

This is a big deal because he had to make them from scratch. There’s no recipe handy for him to follow. And these were really good pancakes!

Since we have begun our journey into unschooling (for real this time!) I have been devouring every book I can find that encourages and inspires. I am reading well my kids are learning their own way.

I’m cleaning out all those cabinets and saying goodbye ( for real this time!) To all those materials that I have held onto for so long. I’m letting go of the idea that I am in control of my children. I’m returning to my walk of faith believing that God has a plan and a purpose for each of them that will be fulfilled.

I was reading this morning about the lame man who was lying by the pool. It’s interesting that Jesus asked him if he wanted to be made whole. Even more interesting is the answer the man gave. He made excuses for himself; he didn’t answer the question Jesus asked. Jesus only wanted to know if the desire was there.

So it is with our children. Is the desire there? Attendees made whole we cannot force them. We must wait and encourage them to join us as we wait.

The Bible often talks about how while we are all of one body, we all have different gifts. We must use those gifts though or there’s no point to us having them.

So we ought to educate our children according to their own gifts. I think, maybe we tend to do so, more often, according to the gifts that we think our kids ought to have. Or the gifts we have ourselves.

But when we step back and admit that we are not in control, I do believe that is when the learning truly begins.

I don’t know about you, I see how I have such a strong desire to control. A desire that comes out of a fear that my children will not be enough…. They won’t be as quick with numbers, they won’t write that prize essay, they won’t speak ten languages, they want to play four different instruments….

The list could go on and on. The list needs to stop; I cannot continue to add to it every day. I cannot continue to expect thanks my children perhaps not a part of who they were made to be.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about home learning, is that we have the ability to celebrate our children for who they are. We are not trying to change them or make some into someone they are not. We are enjoying them and working together for eternal things because heaven and Earth shall pass away but His word shall not pass away.


He is Worthy

It is so easy to forget how blessed we really are.

Especially when we are feeling broken. When it feels like nothing is working the way it should.

And yet when I think of all that Christ did for me. All that he suffered.. the beatings and the persecution, the abandonment and the isolation…

How can I ever complain about my trials? How could I possibly think but my sufferings sauron’s fair or unworthy?

We are to rejoice in our trials and tribulations.

It’s not about me. It’s about eternity.

We need to keep our eyes fixed on Him alone. It is so much harder to live for him, to be steadfast in our faith, when our eyes are not fixed on him.

God is so good to us. All the time.

God is so good to me. All the time.

God loves me unconditionally. All the time.

God is with me. All the time.

Whatever the cost, it is worth it, for he is worthy.