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

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. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Barnfest 2017

On Saturday, our family went to one of the BEST concerts in West Tennessee. This was the third annual Barnfest at The Barn at Snider Farms. Each year this FREE Christian music concert draws thousands from around the area. We went with a large group from our church. Although we've been to Snider Farms for other events, this was our first Barnfest experience.

It is AMAZING that this is a free event. Volunteers make certain that each part of the day is well orchestrated and loads of fun. There were people to direct us to park and people to greet us and hand out free hand fans as we went in. It was so, so, so hot in the West Tennessee sun but it was worth it to get there when the gates opened a couple of hours before the event began. We had wonderful seats. Our youth were given bracelets prior to the event so they could access the area right in front of the stage.



This was Speedy's very first concert. He had some concerns about the noise level and the size of the crowd but he ended up having a wonderful time. He stayed right up at the front of the stage for most of the performances! After the show was over, he purchased some cool drum sticks and had them signed by one of the bands.

I'm sure you wanna know who was there, right? Derek Minor was the first act and the one the boys of the youth group were most excited about. I had no idea that his wife was from West Tennessee! After Derek, we were treated to several songs by OBB. Apple and some of the others from church saw OBB in concert back at the beginning of the year during WinterJam. Speedy was able to meet 2 of the members of OBB and to get his drum sticks signed.


There was a speaker who gave his testimony, but I'm afraid I didn't catch his name. The main speaker was TJ Gilliam who gave a lovely message about God and how he has impacted his life. There were loads of decision counselors available for those who went down to the front after the message. I believe the count was over 100 who made the choice to accept Christ during the event. 

The fantastic evening ended with a set from Unspoken. By then the sun had gone down and so we were treated to a light show with the music. If you haven't heard the music of Unspoken, look them up! I love their song "The Cure". 


Aside from the amazing performers, there were food trucks, merchandise tents, medical personnel on the grounds, and plenty of portable pottys for the crowd. It really was a well planned event. It didn't seem like there were thousands there because lines were fairly short (except the lemonade stand!) and everything was so clean and organized. 

Our church group is already making plans to attend the event next year. I'd encourage you to follow The Barn at Snider Farms Facebook page if you are anywhere near West Tennessee! There are many other events there and you'll want to know all about Barnfest 2018 when the information is released.

I wasn't compensated in any way for this post. I just wanted to share about such an amazing event with y'all!

Do you attend concerts? Apple has been to several and now Speedy knows he likes them so I see more Christian concerts for our family in the future.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Romans 1:16

Romans 1:16

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

My kids have been blasting some music from the 116 Clique lately. I have to admit I like a lot of it too! I decided to look up the key verse they reference, and this is it. What a great verse to memorize and take with us! Not only does it remind us that we should always proclaim God's Word but it's a verse to share with others who are looking for salvation. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Battles, Biographies, and Bible Verses #homeschoolhistory

Last year we got to review a really awesome history curriculum from Character Concepts. They were kind enough to send us the other set in that history series to review now! America's Struggle to Become a Nation: Understanding the Foundations of Freedom by Rick and Marilyn Boyer is an American history course for students in 4th- 6th grades. Speedy really enjoyed going through the whole Fight for Freedom curriculum last year and is thrilled to have this second dose of "History for Patriots". He was even willing to take a picture (which is RARE these days!).



America's Struggle to Become a Nation is a 384 page student textbook. There are 34 weeks of lessons included. The beginning of the workbook offers suggestions for a 4 or 5 day work schedule. Speedy works on history 4 days per week. Each weekly chapter is about 10 pages. Those pages include the main text as well as loads of colorful pictures with descriptions. There are also little extra boxes of information that are pertinent to the lesson. Sometimes, there is a mini-biography or a Bible verse highlighted in those boxes. Often, historic quotes are included in a sidebar. In additon to those extras, there are special blue boxes for "Storytime with Uncle Rick". The lessons take the student from the reasons for the War of Independence through the various events and battles in the war all the way to the signing of the Constitution. This textbook will give the elementary student a firm understanding of early American history. In a time when our Patriotism is under attack, I think it's more important than ever for my kids to learn how the American government began and why. The appendix section gives the student a chance to read The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, Washington's Inaugural Address of 1796, and Washington's Farewell Address of 1796.



The student textbook alone is full of rich history and lessons. To enrich those lessons, the teacher's guide provides weekly questions and projects. The suggested weekly schedules are included in the front and are followed by a worksheet with projects for each week. The projects range from something simple like a journal entry to research projects to designing a poster or newspaper page. There are 4 quizzes in this book as well to test knowledge retention from the lessons. There's even a bonus quiz! This teacher's guide gives permission to make up to 10 copies of each page. Since I only have 1 student and we won't be reusing this curriculum, I allow him to write his answers in my teacher's guide. It includes an answer key in the back as well as its own appendix of extras like Patriotic Song Lyrics and a timeline. Speedy misses the audio files that were included with The Fight for Freedom but Uncle Rick does offer an audio club for an additional fee.



As I said, Speedy works on this 4 days a week. That means he reads a few pages and answers 3-4 questions per day. On Thursdays, he finishes up anything left for the week and works on the project(s). He has become quite the history buff and America's Struggle to Become a Nation is one of his favorite activities each school day. He's very interested in the military and learning the specifics of many of the battles of the war against England along with the biographies of many historical heroes is perfect for him.

I really like this history curriculum because it is all inclusive. Everything he needs to complete his daily work is right there for him, and he can do it independently! He reads the schedule and completes the work on his own. I just grade it once per week and make sure he's staying on track. While I received this set for free for review, the price is so reasonable! Currently the student textbook and teacher's manual can be purchased for under $50. If you sign up for the Character Concepts emails, they often have sales with a percentage off and/ or free shipping.

If you are looking for a history curriculum with a Christian approach for your older elementary student, I highly recommend America's Struggle to Become a Nation or Fight for Freedom. Be sure to check out all the other great products that Character Concepts offers!