And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Monday, October 16, 2017

Attention History and Audiobook Enthusiasts!

The good folks over at Character Concepts have been so good to us. After finishing my review of their history curriculum America's Struggle to Become a Nation, they gave us the opportunity to try the Uncle Rick Audio Book Club. You know we love audio books so we were all very excited to try it!


Character Concepts offers many CDs and downloads of Uncle Rick reading books of the Bible, historical books, and even holiday fiction. The Uncle Rick Audio Book Club takes that a step further. For $10 per month (as of 10/16/17), your family can enjoy 2 audio book downloads per month. Right now there are over 60 downloads to pick and new selections are being added.

We've been trying the Audio Book Club out for a few months. Around the same date each month, I received an email that a coupon code was added to my account. I could then go and browse the selections to choose our 2 audio books for the month. Once I checked out, our downloads were available to save to our computer and enjoy.

Currently, the Audio Book Club offers products in 6 categories: Adventure, Historical Fiction, History, Bible and Character Stories, Scripture, and Holiday. You can view all the selections and enjoy some free sample downloads on their webpage. The downloads vary in length. As Uncle Rick reads these books, he engages the listeners by telling little stories and adding extra information about the story or event in history.

So far, we've selected history and holiday books. We've all enjoyed listening to Squanto and the Pilgrims by A.M. Anderson , Stories of the Pilgrims for Children by Roland G. Usher, America First Volume 1 by Lawton Evans, and Revolutionary Heroes by James Parton. I just ordered America First Volume 2 by Lawton Evans and Stories of the Great Old West by Theodore Roosevelt. I'm certain they will be just as exciting as the others! While we haven't tried any of the Bible selections, I think it'd be fantastic to have my kids listen to an audio version of the book of James or the Psalms.

These audio book downloads are a great way to add more read alouds to our homeschool time. I don't always have the time or energy to do read aloud time so these make a lovely substitute. For only $10 a month, this is an excellent deal for adding extra history time for your family. It's also a wonderful alternative to screen time. Character Concepts offers gift certificates for the Uncle Rick Audio Book Club. Wouldn't that make an awesome Christmas gift?!?!

Thank you to Character Concepts for another fantastic product to review. I hope you will check out their selection of audio books, history curricula, and character curricula. We've been impressed with all of the products we have tried from Character Concepts.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Rooted & Grounded

Ephesians 3: 17-19  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

I guess I'm still stuck on "love". We hear a lot about love in our world, but unfortunately, it rarely follows the model Christ set for us. The love the Bible speaks about looks very different from the screaming, in our faces, forced "love" the world wants us to crave.

However, that worldly love won't ever satisfy us. We will always be wanting. The verses above in Ephesians tell us the answer. We must be rooted and grounded in love to comprehend and know the love of Christ and to be filled with the fullness of God.

Life gets hard. It's peoplyly out there, and people can be difficult. We can be difficult. Others can knock us out of a good mood or off-kilter with almost no effort. It's important to remember we do the same to others (hopefully unintentionally!). 

We are called to be set apart from the world. To stand out for our Christian faith. At this stage in life, in this lifetime, it feels like standing out means really loving others. Not by patting their backs or "coddling their flesh" (as I once heard a preacher put it), but by true love with kindness and pleasantness and concern and lifting hands to help and using feet to walk alongside.

Sometimes it feels as though a "like" or share on social media should be enough to let our friends know we care about them. It isn't. Personally, I've found myself in another season of drawing into our family and out of the world. There are certainly times when that is completely necessary. There are also times when that is the easy solution to avoiding messy relationships. One side effect to cutting ourselves off from others is we lose a little bit of our polish when it comes to dealing with people.

Call a friend. Plan a lunch or playdate. Join a Bible study or a book club. Volunteer in a new position at your church. Host another family for a meal. Get out there and love on people while being rooted and ground in Christ's love!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Order

I love orderliness. Having things in order and scheduled and properly placed makes me so happy. When things are in disorder in my life, I feel ill at ease, jittery, and frustrated. Even with all my attention to order, when I received the book Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald for review, I realized some things in my "private world" were not in order. This book I received free from Handlebar is a revised and updated version of this book that was first released in 1984.



I am familar with Gordon MacDonald from reviewing his book Going Deep several years ago. In fact, this review made me wish I could reread that book, but I gave it away. I will be checking my library soon to see if they have a copy.

This book is completely different from that one. Ordering Your Private World focuses on our need to our private world scheduled and ordered. MacDonald touches on disciplines like prayer, Bible reading, journaling, singing, and times of silence and solitude. He also brings ideas like "sabbathing" to the equation. As he explores all of these private world components, he introduces quotes and ideas from many other authors and Christian leaders.

From the preface pg XIII:

"But there is also a busyness (a destructive busyness, actually) that reflects a chaotic way of life- a way of doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day. The next thing! It makes no difference whether it has significance; it's just the next thing, and one does it because it's there to do."

That reflects the message I found most significant in the whole book. When our time isn't previously ordered, we fall victim to the chaos of having no direction. It's like Dave Ramsey's philosophy about money- if you don't have a plan for it then it just disappears frivolously. We are called to be stewards of the time and the money that God gives us.

This isn't a book with 10 steps to order your private world or 11 principles about ordering your world. Instead, it is a book of things to ponder, to contemplate, to consider. I've read very few books this year other than the Bible. I wanted to step away from all the books, all the written "noise", and focus on God's Word directly. I hesitated to accept this book for review but the word "order" enticed me. I'm so glad I did get it and read it. It has valuable ideas and information that are relevant in this day and time more than ever. It also includes an extensive study guide in the back making it perfect for a small group atmosphere.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Love

Yesterday, our pastor gave an excellent sermon on alignment. I won't steal his words to post here, but it did get me to thinking about the importance of aligning our lives with God's Word. It also connected to a book that I'll be reviewing for you soon. I won't go into info on that book just yet. However, when I sat down for some quiet time last night, I opened up to Ephesians chapter 5.

I've been doing a little Scripture writing and doodling on love lately. It's just been something on my mind so much recently. The world's current view of love is so vastly separated from God's words on love. As I've written verses I've been reminded of God's love for us and the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made in the name of that love.

Anyhow, back to Ephesians 5. So I sat to write some of the verses from the beginning of that chapter. It isn't an easy chapter. In fact, it was plain uncomfortable as I thought about the alignment message along with these verses!


Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.
Those are the words in NKJV which is my preference. The NIV translates "filthiness" as "obscenity". Now I don't know about you but some of those gave me a little gut-check. It is serious when there is talk of no inheritance in the kingdom and God's wrath. Paul was writing these words to the church at Ephesus in love. A love that we don't see often today. A love wrought with correction for eternal consequences. 
The world as a whole isn't a place receptive to true love, but Christians I think we need to align our lives and our definition of love with God's Word. I will be continuing my personal "love" study for awhile. 
Do you have any "love" verse suggestions for me? 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Silly Soccer

This was a post from 6 years ago:

Silly Soccer

Perhaps we should have invested in one of these Little Tikes Easy Score Soccer sets and explained soccer to Speedy a little more before he began playing.........

He seems to really believe soccer is actually football (perhaps all the international knowledge and cultural learning has been a bad thing)........ Papaw says its because we watch too much football (guilty as charged).........It's not a good thing that Speedy keeps trying to tackle other players during soccer........ It's also not uncommon to see him fall on the ball and protect it..........He was so agressive about it tonight that all the other players just stepped back and watched him.......

The first game is Saturday...... think we can deprogram him by then? Of course in 2 years he'll be old enough to swap to football..........


Funny enough, soccer never really was his sport. Even though I try to prompt him every year, I haven't talked him into football ever. Just shows we never really know where their strengths, weaknesses, and interests will be.

Apple was our first soccer player and still loves it. It's been a rough season and for the first time ever we let her/ made her quit a team. God had better plans in mind and put the right coach with the team for the remainder of the season so she was able to continue playing. It was such a blessing during a difficult time. I love that God works out even the little things for us. It was also a great lesson for Apple about praying in tough situations, following God's prompting, then seeing how He worked things out. 


Monday, August 28, 2017

The Linen Closet

We have this awkward closet in our hallway. It's narrow but deep, and it only has 2 small shelves across the back wall. There's no room for a rod. The lighting fixture is just open bulb, and it sticks out from the wall instead of hanging so it makes the storage area even smaller. I decided it was only useful as a linen closet when we first moved in.

First, I tried stacking sheets and pillowcases and comforters on those two small shelves. Well, that wasn't nearly enough room for extra bedding for 3 bedrooms and guests. Then, I invested in some plastic totes. I can get about 4 of those in there, but it's a struggle to get them through the narrow door. We can push and shove and get them in, but every time we need something we have to pull out a couple of bins to get it. Of course, plenty of extra linens get thrown in on top of the bins. We have a vacuum shoved in the front of the closet now. There's some luggage thrown in there. No matter how many times I pull everything out and straighten it up, that closet is just a mess. I keep trying to think of ways to make the storage area more useful, but it's just so awkward. I want it to be nice and tidy, but it's a perpetual disaster.

Isn't life like that too? We get the job or the house we want. We meet a goal, and we expect things to be nice and tidy. Instead a new expense or illness or injury comes along and life feels like a disaster again. We think and plan and dream how a season will look and then something spoils it.

Sometimes I want to give up on that closet. I want to take everything out and lock the door and forget it exists. That would be silly though because I don't have anywhere else to put my linens, and it would be a huge waste! While the closet isn't perfect, it serves its purpose. It holds our linens. Not in the way we'd like but in a way that works.

Life isn't going to be perfect. We can't make it exactly like we want it because the bigger plan is God's plan. He doesn't do things the way we expect Him too.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Even as I typed this, I received some wonderful news that undid a big mess from last week. When your linen closet, errr....life...., is a mess just stay in God's word and in prayer to see how it will all turn out. Some days the totes will be stacked perfectly and everything will be in its place. Some days you'll open the door and be buried by an avalanche.

Philippians 4:11b-13 For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.