Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Focus on the Truth

I was recently talking with a woman at church, and she was commenting about how she hadn't heard from a friend of hers in a while. "She's been ignoring my calls and texts... I wonder if I've done something to upset her," she said. She was very upset. This is a good friend of hers and they usually talk almost every day. But it'd been over a week without a word. What had she done to make her friend so angry at her? Had she said something? Done something?
I asked her if she knew for a fact that her friend was angry with her. "She hasn't talked to me in days!" was her response.
How many days, weeks, even months have we worried about things of which we have no proof? Philippians 4:8  tells us Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
This gentle soul at church was becoming unraveled because she was afraid her good friend was upset with her. Based on what? Lack of communication. That doesn't always mean anger. There are a number of reasons for silence on her friend's part.
She was worrying about something she didn't know to be true. She was assuming. She was wasting a lot of hours obsessing. She was letting this situation steal her joy.
I gently reminded her of these facts. She looked at me as if I invented sliced bread and hugged me. She knew I was right. She would wait on communication from her friend.
It turns out that her friend had lost a relative and was not ready to talk to anyone. She was grieving. The lady I spoke to did nothing wrong.
It's hard, sometimes, not to jump to conclusions. We are presented with a situation and obsess about several scenarios about how the situation started, how it might end, or the reasoning behind it.
A friend of mine was at work, and her boss told her that he was going out, but wanted to see her in his office when he returned. (Why in the world he would say that, I have no idea. lol!) My friend spent two hours obsessing about the impending meeting. Was she about to get fired? Why? What had she done? She tried to work hard and be as productive as possible. She ended up getting promoted. But she wasted two hours of her life she'll never get back. Worrying.
So, my dear friends, let us try not to worry about the "what if's." Focus on what you know, and go about your day. God is with you. He has your best interests at heart. Whatever happens, He has something wonderful in mind for you. :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Whit's End Mealtime Devotions

We, as parents, try to incorporate God and the bible into every aspect of our children's lives. But reading the bible at mealtimes just wasn't happening. Devotions? Forget about it!

 Then I received this book.

 And my boys (ages 8, 5 and 3) loved it!

 It's written on a level they can understand and relate to. It not only includes fun stories, but thought provoking, discussion stimulating questions. They each took turns praying about what they learned. That was pretty cute. :)

I recommend this book to anyone with young children. It's a fun way to talk about God and His love for His children at dinnertime.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Homeschool vs School at Home

I came across this cartoon last week:

Homeschool curriculum companies make the big bucks selling their curriculum. Why? Because we are terrified of our kids "falling behind." Or, because we're not sure "how" to homeschool (so thank goodness for the prepackaged curriculum, otherwise I'd have no idea what to do!). This is the "school at home" mentality.

But homeschooling is NOT "school at home." The purpose of homeschooling is not to bring the classroom into our homes, it's to educate our children.

One of the many reasons we homeschool is because state standards are so rigorous and strict that the main goal is to get students to score so high on tests. So the teachers' main job is to get the students to pass the tests. This is not education.

The biggest advantage of homeschooling is freedom! Freedom from tests, freedom from the state breathing down your kid's neck, freedom from "come on, class, we have to get through this to stay on schedule!" (I heard this a lot in school.)

But many homeschool families to not take advantage of this freedom. They spend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on curriculum kits, sit their kids down, and instruct them all day. (I'm not 100% down on this. If this is the best way for your child to learn, do it. Some kids require this kind of structure. And that's ok.)

This is what I do when homeschooling my oldest son:
1. I make out a schedule for the week. This is what I plan to teach him in each subject. For example, in math I might prepare some games to help him learn his times tables. Memorization is hard for him, so in school he'd just be left in the dust. At home, we can take as much time as he needs... and we can make it FUN!
2. We explore. We experience new things. This brings up questions from him, and we research the answers. Then we discuss what he's learned.
3. We do not freak out if, by the end of the week, the schedule I made at the beginning of the week is less than half completed. Why? Because he learned. He learned what he was interested in, therefore it had meaning, therefore he'll retain it longer.

We, as a homeschool community must back away from the scope-and-sequence method of teaching and learn what our children are interested in. Think of ways to work the other subjects into what they want to learn. If your child is interested in animal science, create math games using animals. Have them read books about those animals and discuss with you what they learned. Make a spelling/vocabulary list using different animal groups. The possibilities are endless! If we teach what our children are interested in, everything else finds a way to fall into place. :)