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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Becoming Like Christ

There is not doubt that I have a long way to go to be the person and mom I want to be.
Instead of walking about with my own agenda, easily tripped up when minor or major infractions occur, I want to smile at every mistake and lovingly proclaim, “It’s okay darling, I’ve made many mistakes.” When I see others, I desire to listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading on how I can bless them, with no thought about myself. I want to pray for everyone I see or think of. I so want to be like Christ. I want the truth that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me to be evident and lived out in my reality.

Yet, as I have struggled with the person I am versus the person I want to be, I realize that God has done so much work in me already. Though I am not what I will one day be, I am so thankful that I am not what I was a few years ago.

Yet, almost all the change that has happened in me is due to the challenges, difficulties, sad situations, troubled relationships where I or someone else failed. Metamorphis came through the painful circumstances and the trials the Lord allowed, from cancer to mispoken words.
God’s faithfulness in transforming me through these trials has enabled me to say with the confidence of Paul that He who began a good work in me will, indeed, bring it to completion. And this promise gives me faith to believe that I will, with certainty, be more consistently Christ-like with each passing year. For it is His purpose and will for me. In fact, He predestined me to be conformed to the image of His Son! Now, we can’t get any more sure than that! I am predestined, marked out, to be like Jesus! Yes, I know that one day in heaven, I will be suddenly like Him. But this verse says it will be a conforming work. Peter tells us we are constantly being changed from glory to glory here on earth.

Cherishing these truths in my heart keeps me from becoming discouraged with how weak and unlike Him I am today. For, when I lose my patience, become discouraged or self focused, I know that I am yet, still, moving forward in Christ, though I failed much recently. And I can be certain that it is by faith alone that I will receive this promise.

As Paul exclaims to the Galatians 3:3, “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” I was saved by believing God; His Spirit saved me, I could not save myself. Now, I must remember that I will not be the one that makes myself more Christ-like; believing saved me, and believing will sanctify me. It will not be by “trying” and “working” or “rules” or perfectly following any believer’s checklist.

What a relief it is to my soul to be reminded that I don’t have to try to become like Jesus, I simply must maintain the faith to believe that I will. If I am focused on myself and how far I have to go, my faith waivers; and I'm left idling until I pick back up my shield of faith. Paul tells us in Hebrews 3:14, “For we are made partakers of Christ [His nature], if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” What a joy to know that I will be like Him because He is making it so. And then, I will finally smile at every mistake, loving others with the wellspring of living water that flows from within me.

Untying Homeschool Burdens

As an author of homeschool books, I want so much to interact with and bless homeschool moms. It is my heart’s cry to encourage, build up and say "YOU CAN DO THIS!" to every mom I encounter with those weary worried eyes. I seek to untie the heavy burdens they have strung up on their back, which weighs them down with guilt, shame and hopelessness, those rampant lies that say they are inadequate and must be doing this and that, and using everything they bought at the last convention, or they are failures.

I can’t count how often I have heard the question, “Am I doing enough?” seep into conversations, emails, message boards and eloops. How earnestly I want to reassure them that they are not only doing enough, they are doing more than they need to do.

The question I want to ask them is, “Can you remember anything you learned before sixth grade?” What was the learning environment of that thing which you learned? Was it a rigid school setting, reading passages to fill out worksheets? Was it under the supervision of a hurried, harried task master? Or was it in an environment where your teacher (whether it be a teacher, parent, grandparent or neighbor) showed enthusiasm for the subject and a genuine interest in you. Oh! How I wish we could grasp the fact that it isn’t the curriculum that does it. It isn’t the method of homeschooling: Classical, Charlotte Mason, delight directed, whatever. It is the relationship: the peaceful, excited, loving environment that will pull our children in and breathe life into the - sometimes sterile sounding - word “education.”

Studies show that, across the board, children in a school setting excel above and beyond their peers if they have parental involvement in their education. What are we so worried about? Why are we feeling so guilty and inadequate? Why are we beating ourselves up? Why are we listening to philosophies that only add to our feelings of inadequacies?

I think you know the truth. We all do. As I always tell my daughter: I don’t care a thing about purses. But if I spent too much time around people who did, if they talked about which purse they were carrying, and showed everyone the great purse they just bought, then discussed the merits and benefits of this particular purse, each person expanding on all the seemingly important details of their purse, over time, I would be sucked in and start caring about purses. I would start noticing purses, then noticing my own inadequate and rundown purse. I would then feel insecure because I needed a better purse. My purse isn’t right anymore. I would fall into a slippery pit of caring about what kind of purse I carried, and always thinking that maybe my purse wasn’t measuring up. Strange how easy it is to miss the big picture.

Untying burdens. That’s my heart. I wish I could spend more time at conventions edifying the moms God places in my path. My children are yet young, and my first priority is to train their hearts to love one another – incredible training ground for real life. I think about the few times my own parents traveled, and how abandoned I felt. So silly of me to feel that way. But I was only a child, and didn’t understand they were edifying their own marriage with these getaways. However, I don’t want to make it a habit of leaving them even for the noble cause of blessing others with whom I so connect. However, when they are older I will take them to conventions with me. Presently, I often must turn down many of the wonderful opportunities to go with Apologia. But I do hope that I can have some small impact on those lives I come across through my website, emails and this little blog~ !

My last convention for this year will be at CHEA in Ontario. I hope to see some of you there!

Memory Work in the Homeschool

When I first began to homeschool, I read all about a classical and Charlotte Mason education. Soaking up every bit of teaching available, I became increasingly convinced of the merits of memory work. We launched into memory work full speed ahead, memorizing a variety of lists, from poetry to ancient Egyptian kings. My five year old performed the amazing feat of reciting all 43 presidents of the United States of America in order for our homeschool groups annual presentations. I was so proud of her and anxiously began searching for the next miracle memory task.

Providentially, a few years into this process, I read an article by a woman that was having her children memorize long passages of scripture. That was a huge turning point. I simply could not believe we had spent so much time memorizing things that would perish with this world. For what has the power to shape my children? The Word of God. What has the power to transform their lives? God's Word. What gives instruction for living? What gives direction? Hope? Life? Scripture, Scripture, Scripture. Why would I spend such precious time focusing on things that do not have the power to nourish my child the way God's Word does? The purpose of memory work is not the item memorized, it's the act of memorization. The list means nothing, but the engaging of the mind in memory work is what builds the child's intellect. However, with the time we spend on memory work we could not only build his intellect, but fill his mind with life giving manna from heaven.

When a child memorizes lists of ancient kings or modern presidents, the information may very well be valuable, it may very well be helpful in future studies. But it isn't life transforming. It doesn't have the power to give your child peace in this life, joy in this life, purpose in this life and conviction to lead them on the paths of righteousness. Kings will be forgotten, presidents will be studied later, and lists will lose their importance. But when our child hides the Living Word of God in their hearts, it will never fail them. The Holy Spirit will be able to use those very Scriptures to give them direction, understanding or conviction throughout the rest of their lives. Remember that one of the Holy Spirit's jobs is to remind us of everything Jesus has taught us, as Jesus told His disciples on the night of His crucifixion.

Memorizing Scripture will arm our children for battle, providing a light unto their path and a lamp unto their feet. Is there anything more important than that? If our children grow up to become professors of ancient history, will we be thrilled if they care not for their God? However, if our children are passionatly in love with Jesus, easily moved by the Holy Spirit and overflowing with the wisdom that can only come from God, pouring forth rivers of Living Water that well up from within, it matters not what career path they choose, for we will be delighted with the person they have become.

Evolution - Micro vs. Macro

Our children have heard us say that evolution isn't true, but often we aren't sure how to explain in what way or why it isn't true. The simple concept of microevolution versus macroevolution is a great to place to begin with young, or even older children. If you aren't sure what the difference is yourself, read on. As the author of creation science curriculum published by Apologia, I believe it is so important that we are able to explain the truths and untruths of evolution to our children.
Evolution is not an evil word in itself. The word simply means to change from something simple to something more complex. Businesses evolve when they begin selling more products, people evolve from learning their ABC's to becoming a college student, learning much more complex things. Your relationship with God evolves from a simple understanding that Jesus took away your sin, to discerning God's will for your every day and entire life. Scientists have borrowed the word evolution to explain processes that they believe happen in the world. One thing scientists have discovered is a process called microevolution, where little changes take place over time. These changes have actually been seen and recorded. Another kind of evolution that some scientists believe occurs is called macroevolution. Macroevolution is a belief that things can change from one thing into another thing. This kind of evolution has never been seen, has never been recorded, has never been proved in any way. This kind of evolution, macroevolution, is what most Christians do not believe .
Let’s take a look at microevolution. Microevolution happens when a part of an animal, like its beak or its feet, change over time. Now, they don’t really change on an animal. But the animals in an area seem to look different than they used to look. The animal’s body part doesn’t become something else – a mouth doesn’t change into a beak or a paw doesn’t become a bird’s foot. Let me explain this. Pretend there are birds living in Hawaii that have long bills and enjoy eating nectar from flowers. Every bird is born with a long bill, but some just naturally have a bill that is a few centimeters longer than another, just like there are always variations in people. Two sisters might be born with curly hair, but one has hair that is just a little more curly than the other. That’s a natural variation. If the curlier haired sister married a curly haired man, their children would have even more curly hair. Animals have natural variations as well. Now, let’s say that there are more flowers in Hawaii with long tubes that only those birds with bills a little longer could reach. Now, it is a fact that the more an animal eats, the more babies they will have. If they don’t eat as much, they don’t produce as many babies. So, the birds with longer bills will get more food. And the birds with longer bills will have more young. So, over time, there are more birds with longer bills. Then, the birds with longer bills will begin to mate with other birds that have longer bills. And if there happens to be a little variation in the size of the bill in their offspring, those with even longer bills will get the most food, have the most young and begin to populate the area even more. Slowly, the birds with shorter bills will not be as abundant. And when they mate with longer billed birds, their young that develop the longer bills will have more young than the ones that didn’t get a longer bill.
So, over many years, birds with longer bills begin to have young with longer bills, and eventually it seems that the only birds you see around have extremely long bills. Did the bills change? No. The birds with longer bills simply reproduced more than birds with shorter bills. We say they evolved longer bills. This is microevolution. The bills didn’t change into anything, they didn’t even grow. But the birds in the area eventually “evolved” to have longer bills. Does that make sense to you? Microevolution is valid. You can believe in microevolution. We can find evidence for microevolution. If we find old bones from these Hawaiian birds, the older bones, buried deep within the earth will show shorter beaks. Then, as we find newer bones, they show longer and longer beaks. We find bones that show the transition from shorter beaks to longer beaks. These are called transitional creatures, they showed a change or transition between shorter and longer beaks. We can actually see, observe and prove the change occurred. However, the beak remained a beak. It didn’t become something, or grow from something other than a beak into a beak. It was always a beak. And the bird had within its cells the ability to produce birds with longer beaks, but it couldn’t produce a mouth with teeth, because the genes inside the bird only allow it to produce bird parts.
However, some scientists make a giant leap, and say that because a bird beak size can change over time (and we know it didn’t really change on any one bird), that a fish can change into a man, or a lizard can change into a bird. This is like saying that because we see a small mound that has ants living inside it called an anthill, giant mountains must have been made by similar creatures. Macroevolution is the name given to this giant leap from truth to a lie. Macro means big, and evolution means change. Macroevolution is an impossibly big change for which there is no evidence.

Often in school textbooks, in public and private schools, microevolution is explained, and all the evidence is given to the students. Then, after the kids come to understand how microevolution works, the textbook then tells the kids that this is how evolution works, and how we evolved from monkeys and monkeys evolved from fish. And because the kids understand how the small changes occur, they just assume they must be right about the big changes. And many, many people, without thinking just believe it.
One thing that is amazing about the fact that some scientists believe evolution is that there have never ever been any transitional creatures found between man and apes or dinosaurs and birds or fish and mammals. Though millions of fossils have been unearthed, none show a halfway or changing body from one creature into another creature. Yet, for two hundred years, some people have believed in evolution anyway.
You are probably wondering why some people believe this when the evidence does not confirm their beliefs. Well, if you didn’t believe in God, and you were a scientist, you would need some explanation for why we are here - this is called origins - from where did we originate? What are the origins of man? Scientists who don't believe in God want to believe in evolution. And when someone wants to believe something, it’s really hard to change their minds. And once they have fully accepted it, it’s hard to convince them otherwise. Adolf Hitler said "If you tell a lie often enough and loud enough, the people will believe it. And the greater the lie, the more they will believe it." That's a strange thing to say, but I'm beginning to think it's true.

Once the belief system, drilled into student's heads at an early age, is firmly in place, it's difficult to change. If someone today told you that the color green is really not green but a shade of blue, you would have a hard time believing it. When you see green, you will always want to call it green. Let’s say everyone begins calling it blue. That would be a difficult transition in beliefs for you to make. All people have a hard time changing their beliefs once they really believe something. So, even sometimes when someone becomes a Christian, they have a hard time believing the Bible's explanation of origins since they have, since childhood, been taught macroevolution is the way we originated.

The fact is that most people have not even heard of the difference between microevolution versus macroevolution. They think evolution is a scientific word for origins. But I believe all this is changing now that the word has gotten out. Winston Churchill said "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." Now the truth is fully dressed, and though the lie has gotten all the way around the world, the truth is becoming known and is exposing and correcting the lie so that real science can happen, and people can turn to God, Who created it all.

Character Training

One Easter, as I watched my oldest child hiding resurrection eggs for the three younger children, then sitting them in their fort to tell the story of Christ, I was struck by the preciousness of the lives they live. The relationships they are forming will be a source of support and comfort to them their entire lives. We have seen many friends come and go, with moving and other circumstances taking them from us. But the family God has given us remains a constant. The joy they derive from one another is in direct proportion to how much we train them to love and sacrifice for one another. As a homeschooling mother, I am blessed with time to spend with my children. However, making time for character training is a choice that involves daily self-sacrifice. It must be a priority in my day, or I will find myself missing perfect opportunities to point them to Christ. For, it is much easier to reprimand and move on in academic pursuits than it is to stop and faithfully disciple their hearts. For me to teach faithfulness in my little ones, requires that I mature in my faithfulness with the time I have been given.

I must continually remind myself that it is not about academics or how prosperous in math my children become. What will constitute success when they are adults will not be whether they can identify a direct object, write a persuasive paragraph or rattle off the answer to 8x7 before their coworkers can produce a calculator. Though those things are good to know, they will not enable them to be healthy, happy adults in the sight of God and man. What will? Is it not learning how to sacrifice their desires for the good of others? Knowing how to love and care for the hurting or weak? Loving those who are unlovable (as their siblings and all people can be at times). Knowing how to be thoughtful, gracious people who accept their circumstances without complaint; people who have watched their parents model a life devoted to God? These things are not learned in institutional schools, nor can they be. A teacher can not address every mean spirit exhibited, or every hateful word and deed children commit against one another. No, these events are left unchecked, teaching the children that power and force are king while humility and kindness are weaknesses. And day after day, God is not elevated in their experiences. Even the things which form healthy academic habits, such as working with diligence, are best learned under the watchful eye of a mother who knows the child well and can identify sloth. Few else would earnestly pray for and train my child to overcome poor habits. Yet, as I seek to train my children in the ways of God, I see that God is training me as well.
When I was teaching one of our children to read, the frustration level I experienced was unbelievable. I would get so irritated when he could not remember the letter I had just spent 30 minutes teaching him. I’m ashamed of how distressed I got with the poor little man. I would throw a miniature fit, exactly the sort of which we do not allow him to have. Why, I had a rotten attitude about the whole thing. One day, the Lord convicted my heart that I was teaching him that it is acceptable to become angry when things don’t go our way, something that didn't need anymore reinforcement in our home. I was modeling impatience and irritation with those who are younger and weaker, which does not bode well for his younger siblings. I was modeling an ungrateful, discouraging, and selfish heart. I was discipling him to believe academics are more important than character. I was walking out an attitude that was unholy and unrighteous. I had to repent to God and to him. And the Lord began to change my focus. I became aware that how I teach is much more important than what I teach. I realized that all wisdom and understanding comes from the Lord. If my child doesn’t understand, prayer is more effective than raising my voice. If my child still doesn’t understand, I trust that the Lord will open his or her eyes when the time is ripe. It is imperative that I believe with all my heart that God is sovereign over my children; that He will accomplish in them all His purposes and plans. He wants me in a place of rest, not of striving.
God is always economical in his purposes, killing the proverbial two birds with one stone, if you will. You see, as we seek to shape the character of our children, we too, are being sanctified. As the Lord kills the flesh in my children, he is also slaying the same in me. I believe that as a homeschooling mother, we have more of an opportunity to be challenged to walk out our faith. Daily, yea, hourly, we are forced to look at our true character and die to that which is wrong. There is little else that brings about the opportunity to follow the examples in Scripture in the face of unrelenting odds than homeschooling our own dear children. We must be transformed by the Spirit of God in order that on any given day we Christ-like to our sometimes whiny, demanding, opposing, and moody youth. Our children are given all the advantages in life as they witness, first hand, a child of God, their Mom, be shaped into the image of Christ. They watch and listen as we seek to glorify God in our attitudes and actions, repenting, praying and releasing ourselves to be transformed by the only One who can do it. This is, indeed, true discipleship. As I survey the last five years of homeschooling, I know I am changed. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m so thankful to be a bit more like Christ than I was in the beginning. When my eyes are on Jesus, where they always return when the emptiness of a worldly focus catches up with me, He exposes Truth and He produces the changes in me. All my efforts can not produce one single godly attitude or thought. It is by ceasing to strive that I release myself to the transforming work of God.

I believe homeschooling is a genuine example to our children of what surrender to God truly is. They will one day know the sacrifices we made for them; and it will minister to their spirits. It will challenge them to choose to do the best thing, even when it is the hardest thing. What a joy it will be one day as we see that, though we sometimes wondered if we were ruining them, our lives and choices actually imparted wisdom and gave them the tools to live a joyful, abundant life for The Lord. They will one day rise up and call us blessed. And in the mean time, I will simply enjoy seeing the fruit of our lives played out as they open little plastic eggs with one another.

Choosing Curriculum

For today's homeschooler, the curriculum options for every subject are overwhelming. There is so much out there -- so many good things. How do you decide what to use? I believe it boils down to your ultimate goals for your children. What do you want more than anything for your children? Is it to be academic scholars or devoted Christians? Ideally it is both, but one will take precedence over the other in each family. When I first began homeschooling, I would have vehemently answered that it was the latter - to be devoted Christians. But if you looked at my curriculum choices, you would have believed that it was the former. Let's just say that I could talk the talk, but I wasn't walking the walk.
Over time, the Lord impressed upon my heart some profound truths about His call for me to homeschool. First, that homeschooling was not my idea, nor my own personal choice for my family. It was His calling on my life as His own personal choice for my (His) children. Second, that these were, indeed, His children and I am accountable to Him for what I put in front of them, including which worldview I teach them. Is history the study of man and all that man has done over time? That's a secular worldview - humanism. Or is history the study of God's workings in mankind? If I teach history from a "neutral" text, then I'm teaching history as though it were separate from God; again, humanism. If I teach science as though science was a series of data and facts separate from God, then I am teaching my children science with a humanistic flare. And the old adage, more is caught than taught, becomes true. Consequently, our children come to understand history and science, and thus life in general, as separate from God.

The third thing God impressed upon me was that my choice to homeschool was not about me or my children, but about His greater plans and purposes for all of mankind. I know that seems a little dramatic, but I feel strongly that this is a truth from God. He began the homeschooling movement, not because the public school system wasn't working anymore. He began the movement for a greater, more holy purpose. Just as the Hebrews, when forced to dwell in a strange culture, lived separate and different lives than those around them, I believe that God is using the homeschooling movement to separate His people unto Himself to be people who are not polluted by the culture, people who are as wise as wolves, but as innocent as doves. People who have the law written on their hearts. People who will be used by Him in a mighty and powerful way for whatever His plan is on earth.

Should we not choose to fill their minds with books and curriculum choices that continually point their hearts to their Creator, to Him who controls every event and thing in the whole world?

Making Disciples - A Homeschool Mom's Great Commission

Like many of you, I spent years in women's Bible studies, growing in my knowledge and understanding of the Lord and His Word. I'm so thankful for that time in my life of spiritual growth, and was loath to give it up for the homeschooling years.

One day, during my quiet time, God impressed a profound truth upon my heart. The Lord had grown me during that time, not just for my own personal development, but to pass on these truths to my disciples. And disciples are what God has given me in my children and through homeschooling! What a responsibility! Sounds just like the Great Commission. Wow. Is that what homeschooling is really all about? Making disciples? As I became aware of this incredible responsibility, I was instantly aware of how I had failed. With all my disciple training time, I had spent most of it teaching direct objects, how to spell "their, they're and there," and how to carry and borrow. All important things, of course. But not nearly as important as nourishing their souls with spiritual truths and conveying to them the teaching that was passed on to me.

But could a six year old really grasp the profound implications of our covenant relationship with Jesus? Yes, I soon learned. My six year old has accepted Christ, and has the Spirit of the Living God within, and the ability to discern Spiritual truths. Yes, he can only respond to the light which he has been given, and only on the level with which his personality and maturity allow; but isn't that true of all of us?

Worship time with my children has become the highlight of each morning. Rather soon after breakfast and chores, we gather around on the couch for a delightful time of fellowship, prayer and learning. As with all the things we do consistently, our morning worship is not a big complicated affair. It's easy for me, and thus always gets done. We read, talk, share our thoughts and pray.
I utilize devotionals from trusted Bible teachers to fuel our discussions. If you have already read Leading Little Ones to God,, or if most of your students are middle schoolers, choose an adult devotional. Sadly, devotionals for kids are often too elementary or concern issues found in public schools - such as popular kids and bullies. Most homeschooled kids are capable of understanding the deep spiritual truths found in adult level devotionals. I recommend looking for something from someone you trust. When you run across concepts and vocabulary that are too difficult for your kids to understand, stop and explain it in words they can understand. This will foster such spiritual closeness, and make the Word of God come alive in their lives. In addition, it will bless you as you remember and discuss the glorious nature of God, our relationship to Him, and the many wonderful truths you have learned throughout your walk with Him.

Yes, our time of being taught has come to a temporary closure, and now we bear the responsibility to train our disciples - living out the Great Commission in our homes, remembering the words of Paul, "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as the unwise but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil."

Notebooking - Creativity with a Purpose

I would have to say that using notebooks in our homeschool is themost rewarding and fulfilling thing we do. It honestly keeps meafloat and from feeling discouraged or ineffective. In fact,notebooks even give me a sense of accomplishment, a much neededsentiment in this ongoing journey.We usually use notebooks in place of worksheets, even when thecurriculum provides worksheets. Fill in the blank worksheets withword searches, matching games and the like are unable to engage mychildren the way creating pages for their notebook does. Writingand illustrating for their notebook employs all of the child, hismemory, his creativity and the things that interested him the mostabout what we learned. The child remembers his work far better whenall of his mind is involved in recording his learning than he doeswhen simply has to fill in the blank with the right word.And besides these benefits, notebooks are just so much more fun,creating a social and energetic atmosphere for the entire family. Isimply love the sight of my children gathered around the table,sharing a large bucket of colored pencils, chatting about what theyare drawing, discussing the subject, and complimenting one another'swork. They are all doing the same thing, each on his or her ownlevel. It is the closest we have gotten to the idyllic homeschool Ihad pictured in my mind before I began this adventure.The way it works is like this; after each story we read, or everytime we teach history or science, the children sit down toillustrate a picture, or write down what they learned, usually both.The younger children sometimes dictate to me as I type out theirnarratives. This exercise serves as a written account of what thechild remembered from the lesson or story. The child is required toreally contemplate and ponder on what was studied, and enjoysputting his musings in words. After that, they place their work in apage protector inside their literature, history or science three-ring binder. As we look back at all that we have done throughout theyear, the children review and revel in their past learning. Andthere we have a complete record of the wonderful books we've read,the science and experiments we did, and the history we studied. Itis all recorded and preserved; an unmistakable testimony of ourlearning.As an instrument for the parent, notebooks offer a delightful recordof what we taught and what our children learned; providing tangibleevidence that, "Yes! I actually did teach them some interestingthings this year!" When our children keep a personal notebook filledwith collected artifacts, information they read about andillustrated, it rewards us to remember all that was accomplished.The contents of our notebooks span the range. Our botany notebookis filled with, among other things, illustrations from nature walks,preserved leaves and records of all our experiments. Each historynotebook is replete with illustrations from field trips, books weread and artists they studied. Our literature notebook has anillustration from each chapter of whatever book we are reading and anarration of the events therein.Children of all learning styles are rewarded from the usenotebooks. The verbal child can write long narratives, poems andstories about each subject. The artistic child can illustrate anassortment of pictures or make collages to help him remember thesubject. The tactile child can collect artifacts and items thatrelate to the subject. And the preschooler feels they are "doingschool" too as they color their little pictures and put them intheir own notebook, just like the big kids. The notebook gives thechild freedom of expression, while giving organization and order tothe learning process.We use plastic sleeve page protectors for every page placed in thenotebook. It keeps each page nice as the children peruse their workagain and again. Each time the children look through their notebookthey are reminded of what they learned, unknowingly reviewing theirschool work. Each time they show it to a friend or family member;they subsequently lock the information into their brain forever.This lays a solid foundation for future studies.As learning progresses and deeper analysis of subjects are needed,the previously compiled notebook can serve as a springboard for morethoughtful study. For example, a child can open his American historynotebook, and look over his simplified version of the settling ofJamestown. This will enable him to recall enough information to moveinto deeper study of the subject. Notebooking can make advancedstudies less laborious.Notebooks have been so gratifying for our family. The notebooks showelements of the child's learning, character, creativity and naturalbent. It is a blessing to look over their past work. I love that Ican say with confidence that "Yes! We have learned a lot these pastyears!" Without the use of notebooks, all the rich books we readand the incredible things we have learned would likely not beremembered. I can only imagine that when the children are grown andgone, I will spend countless hours pouring over their old notebooks,laughing and crying at the rich memories they hold.

Introduction

As a new initiate in the world of blogging, I would like to send a formal introduction. My name is Jeannie Fulbright. I'm the author of Apologia's elementary science curriculum, Exploring Creation with Botany, Exploring Creation with Astronomy and Exploring Creation with Zoology I - all creation based, easy-to-use, living books for science. I homeschool my four little darlings, ages 11, 9, 7 and 4. I am currently working on the fourth book in the series, the second in the zoology series - aquatic animals. My degree is from the University of Texas where my science background weighs heavily in the chemistry department, but I do enjoy all sciences.

My heart is to encourage the homeschool mom, giving them the tools to make homeschooling easier and edifying them along the way. My website is full of practical advice and encouragment for the homeschool mom: www.jeanniefulbright.com . It is a great joy to my heart to hear from homeschool moms. You are the cream of the crop: Women totally dedicated to following God's plan and doing the right thing, no matter how hard, for your children. I also know that you are human and need to be infused with hope and courage now and then. I hope I can contribute to that need in my own small way. I also write a periodic email newsletter focused on one academic subject per newsletter, with curriculum reviews, practical tips, articles and spiritual encouragement. The next newsletter will be focused on history; I already have a lot of reviews (from several reviewers) of different curriculum in there. You can sign up at my website if you are interested in receiving it. (If you publish curriculum and would like me to review it for my newsletter which has more than 1200 subscribers - email me.)

We started school - a new year - in June. I have to school through the summer as my writing gets extremely intensive from January through March, and school gets, well, pushed aside for the younger ones. My older child continues on independently for the most part. So, June through November are big school seasons for us - of course it's always nice when we finish school in the summer and head off to the pool with a feeling of accomplishment - it's a nice carrot for them as well! So, I'm off! The books are calling me - and the kids are covered in mud in the backyard. Alas! A typical homeschool day.

Treasures in the Snow

I'm always looking for good books to read aloud to my crew that are well written, interesting, captivating and teach godly character and incredible lessons for life. We began Treasures of the Snow by Patricial St. John the other day, and all I can say is "WOW!" This book is incredible. We have to stop every now and then to discuss the implications of what just occurred in each chapter. It is an amazing book. The author sets out to teach the Biblical lesson of forgiveness, and does an amazing job of weaving a tale where forgiveness would be very difficult. She also teaches little lessons in the book that are beautiful little snippets of a truth not often told. For example, there is a naughty little boy in the book. Later we learn that his sister was not very fond of him. Then the author says something to the effect that his sister's treatment of the lad was a contributing factor in his subsequent bad behavior - those who are not well loved, do not know how to love others well. It was a wonderful moment where we, the kids and I, discussed how much influence an older sibling has upon the younger siblings, how the younger sibling's self concept and attitudes are often derived from how they are treated by the older sibling. And we went around the room reminding each child to treat the younger ones well, with honor and respect.

There are so many, many lessons in this book. It's a rich treasure of spiritual discussions and life lessons. I can't wait to find out what happens in the end! I snuck a peak, but didn't read it. I find that I can't read the whole book before my kids or I will lose my excitement over our read aloud time. I need to be excited to get to the next chapter too.

I'm going to be getting all of Patricia St. John's books. She was a missionary who wrote these books about 50 years ago, I believe. Well, that's my blog for the day!