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Thursday, June 7, 2007

What if My Child Hates to Write?

It can be rather discouraging when a child simply dislikes writing. There could be one of many factors at work here. Let's explore some of the reasons a child may dislike writing and some solutions to address each of these factors.

The first factor is that perhaps your child doesn't like the physical mechanics of writing. Does he hold his pencil with an uncomfortable grip? Does he grip his pencil too hard and push too hard on the paper? Does he have improper letter formation that requires a lot more writing to form each letter? These things usually correct themselves, but not always. The best way to develop a love for writing is to require typing as a subject. My favorite typing programs are Mavis Beacon JUNIOR and Typing Instructor. My children were required to do their typing program every single day for a few months, and then only once in a while after that. They got even more practice after this as they wrote stories on the computer.

Some children don't dislike writing as much as they dislike having to pull creative thoughts out of their brains. I like what classical educators have to say about this: children need ideas put in their minds before they should be required to create new ideas. They should be filled with knowledge, ideas, concepts, truths, stories, literature, facts and information. Then, they should be asked to write about what they know, not come up with new ideas or required to develop an opinion. When they are older and have been exposed to great literature and a wealth of ideas, they will have a stronger knowledge base from which to pull creative ideas and thoughts. They will also have the critical thinking skills, the ability to conceptualize abstract thoughts. At that point, they can create a great composition, story, persuasive essay or whatever it is the writing assignment requires.

Another reason your child might dislike writing is because you, being the very thorough and wonderful teacher that you are, used their writing assignments as the examples of what they needed to work on in spelling and grammar. Every writing assignment became a poster of their weaknesses and failings. I have heard many homeschool moms say that they use their child's writing assignments to pick out spelling words, and teach proper grammar. This may be an economical use of their writing, but it is also a good way to discourage their love for writing. I often take my children's notebooks to conventions to show others. I had one mom tell me how pleased she was to see all the misspelled words in my daughter's notebook pages. My daughter was nine when she wrote those pages. She is now twelve and has developed a love and passion for writing -- and now spells better than I do! I never used her writing for spelling practice. She learned to spell using a spelling program.

Perhaps the most common reason a child doesn't like writing is because God did not design him to be a creative writer. This child prefers to solve problems (especially math problems). This child doesn't see the benefit of writing. It seems purposeless. Frankly, creative writing - writing to entertain - isn't necessary for every child. The only writing that is absolutely necessary for every child is academic writing. If the problems are not one of the above-mentioned issues, I would not force a child that has not been given a bent towards writing to do a lot of creative writing assignments. For younger students that dislike writing, I would require them to narrate constantly. Have them retell back in their own words whatever they read or have had read to them. This will go a long way towards good narrative writing. A child who can relate information clearly will find it easy to put those spoken words on paper. As he grows older, have him do just that. Put his short (or long) narratives on paper. In late middle school or high school require him to learn academic writing.

Creative writing is simply not for everyone. A child who dislikes writing can still make A's on writing assignments if he is taught how to organize his thoughts, and write a well thought out and organized sentence, paragraph and essay. This begins and ends with oral narrations, for even if your child becomes a mathematician, he will be required to explain his knowledge orally. Thus, in the early years, don't worry so much about writing - focus on his oration of thoughts.

If we had time, I would tell you the story of my husband - who didn't care for writing growing up, but learned to write a good essay and now makes a living by writing perfectly constructed legal briefs and other legal documents. But since we don't have time, just know - your nonwriter isn't failing at writing - he's simply expressing his unique God-given talents, preferences, gifts and abilities, which will all work together to usher him or her into God's special plan and purpose prepared in advance.

Charlotte Mason on the Spiritual Life

Says Charlotte Mason, "Few grown-up people, alas! have so keen and vivid a sense of sin as a little trangressor say of six or seven. Many a naughty, passionate, or sulky and generally hardened little offender is so, simply because he does not know, with any personal knowledge, that there is a Saviour of the world, who has for him instant forgiveness and waiting love."

I remember the moment I came to the Lord. It was as if the years of a well-protected hardened heart simply vanished from existence. The fearful striving and worried years spent in the amoral pursuit of an unknown goal in the hopes of finding peace were realized in an instant. I became an altogether different person because of this incredible gift of forgiveness. I was free. The burden of my years and years of sin was lifted and joy flooded my heart. My life had new purpose. I know that forgiveness does indeed lighten a burdened heart.

This comment from Charlotte Mason reminds me of the book Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. In this book, we are shown how to use every transgression our children make as an opportunity to point out their desperate need for a Savior. With each argument, each deceit, each and every sullen look, we are to take the child in hand and shepherd their heart, showing them the condition of their heart. This act of shepherding is what leads them to the knowledge of both their inability to keep from sinning, their depravity and the only solution to their futile condition: The Blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for them on Calvary.



"The habit of regularity in children's devotions [prayer] is very important...it is worth while to remark that the evening prayers of children and of school girls and boys should not be left until the children are tired and drop asleep over their evening exercises. After tea [the afternoon] is a good set time for prayers when it can be managed."

Here, Charlotte Mason is expressing that children should develop a habit of a personal prayer time. I can see the value of developing this as an afternoon habit rather than a bedtime activity.

I consider prayer the most profoundly affecting exercise. Prayer is such a privelege. The child of God that does not pray is like a hungry dog unaware that he has a large steak in his bowl. God desires so much to bless us, to give to His children whom He adores, if only we would ask, and believe in His love and desire to bless us abundantly. However, the problem is often not that we don't believe that prayer is profitable, but rather, that we haven't formed the habit of prayer.

Our family prays every morning as a group during our devotional time. However, it's more of a corporate prayer time. I would love to have the kids develop the habit of spending solitary devotional time right after we complete school. A personal prayer and quiet time would be good for all of us after we have done our work.

When the children were young and napped regularly, I often spent the afternoon hours reading and writing in my prayer journal. I could relate much more to Mary over Martha during that period in my life. I just couldn't figure out what Martha was thinking. Now, Martha and I are kindred spirits. I could write a book on her perspective.

I believe we will begin today with an afternoon time of personal devotion and prayer. I know I need it. I can't wait to see how it changes the dynamics of their afternoon play after they have spent time with the LORD. Perhaps my afternoons and evenings will be a much more peaceful affair as well.


"The importance of reverent attitudes is a little apt to be overlooked in these days. We are, before all things, sincere, and are afraid to insist upon 'mere forms,' feeling it best to leave the child to the natural expression of his own emotions. Here perhaps we are wrong, as it is just as true to say that the form gives birth to the feeling as that the feeling should give birth to the form. Children should be taught to take time, to be reverent at grace before meals, at family prayers, at their own prayers, in church, when they are old enough to attend....'Because of the angels' should be a thought to repress unbecoming behavior in children."

I was touched by Charlotte Mason's summary of reverence in children. This is only a portion of that summary. To have our children be reverent, even considering the truth that angels are watching them at all times, is a precious concept. We seem so often to live in the natural, and forget the very genuine reality of the supernatural.

I worry in this modern culture that we have forsaken reverence. It seems amazing to me that, even in the late 1800's, there was the issue of overlooking reverence. Because I grew up Catholic, I was taught to revere God. Unfortunantely, I wasn't also taught about relationship. Yet, the reverence I felt in church was precious and nourishing to my soul - however lost it was at the time.

I wonder how we can go about instilling a sense of reverence in our children's lives, and perhaps in our own lives.

FACTS

Have you ever heard the acronym ACTS regarding prayer. The acronym is a great way to remember how we should pray.

A is adoration (Praise God)
C is confession
T is thankgiving
S is supplication (Requests)

This is an especially useful tool for corporate prayer.

However, a few years ago, I realized that one VERY important element was missing from this acronym. This very important element should actually come before all the other things. Here is a verse that describes it:

Mark 11:25
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Ah ha! All of our prayers really should begin with Forgiveness…Transforming our ACTS into FACTS. Even before we confess our own sins to God, we should ask Him to reveal to us anyone that we have not forgiven. In the act of obedience we should choose to forgive that person (and in submission, ask God to make that forgiveness complete in our hearts).

Sometimes we may spend more time on this step than any other, depending on how many people have sinned against us (either by commission or ommission) that week.

I know that sometimes I may find myself offended for small things. Even these need cleansing before God. For example: when my husband doesn't show interest or compassion for my latest problem, I feel a tad slighted or hurt. These are things that can send me to bed feeling a little sorry for myself, and a smidgen cold towards him. This is a hindrance to both a great marriage and my prayers being heard by God.

So, before we ask of God, before we present our needs to Him, before we even begin to praise and adore Him, we should forgive all the transgressions of others. Then, we can, with a sincere heart, pray "Forgive us AS we have forgiven others." You see, the act of forgiving others will have already been completed.

F - Forgiveness
A - Adoration
C - Confession
T - ThanksgivingS - Supplication

Distractions

I read a great quote that said, "If Satan can't tempt us with distruction, he'll tempt us with distraction."

Satan tempts us to get off God's perfect path by distracting us with a plethora of "good" things: things that seem beneficial, that seem profitable, that may even have the appearance of holiness and godliness.

We have all been given a specific course, a path to pursue in both walking with God, and in accomplishing His will for us. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

Like Paul, we need a singleminded focus to pursue the upward call of Christ Jesus. Let us throw off everything that hinders us from running with perseverence the course marked out for us.
What are the distractions in your life? What things are stealing the precious hours of your days? This week, I intend to spend some time in prayer, asking God to reveal to me the things that are distracting me from His purposes, His perfect path for me.

Suffering

What is your biggest area of concern today? What worries you? What is the thing that has the potential to make you feel doomed, in despair, overwhelmed or full of sorrow?

I want so much to remind you right now that - if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ - this area of suffering is the place where God intends to show His glory. God is either using this to hem you in or to develop a special area of ministry for you, so that you may encourage the brethren - your fellow sisters or brothers that may be suffering in the same way.

God will use this to draw you closer to Him, so that He can show you His power, His ability, His faithfulness, that He can and will handle it (once you get your hands off, and allow Him to work it all out, trusting in Him, laying it at His feet and trusting that His way of working it out is perfect). When we give it to the Lord, we must settle in our hearts that whatever God does with it, after you have handed it over, is His will - and you must believe that God will take care of it. Believe, believe, believe. Never lose confidence, because the minute you do - you'll be back there trying to manipulate all the circumstances just right, trying to work it out in your human strength.

This place of suffering may also be an area where God intends to grow a ministry to others through you. I'm sure Joseph would have liked to have not spent 14 years in prison in preparation for the ministry that God had for him. But he learned things there that were necessary for his future work. I can assure you that no area of suffering in your life will be wasted. It will all be used for the Kingdom. Satan will never have the victory in the life of a believer who surrenders her suffering to God. God will always, always turn every situation and circumstance around with Him as the winner, getting the glory. What Satan means for evil, God allows and intends to use for perfection, good, glory, awesome blessings. Every area of suffering, whether great or small, has the potential to be the most outrageous testimony, the most amazing story, the most God honoring, glory-giving circumstance - if the believer will perservere in faith, submitted in joyful hope and faith to God - believing even when it looks hopeless that God is working it out in the way that gives Him the most glory, and ushers us into the most victorious joyous peace.

Many years ago, when I was suffering in a tumultous marriage, I finally gave it over to God and actually thanked him for my terrible marriage - finally trusting that this was part of His big plan for my life. It had to be His plan, for nothing I could do would repair this broken thing. Now, I look back and see that, indeed, it was His plan. For, now I speak to women on marriage. It's one of the ministries that God developed. But I had to go through years of suffering, and years of mending, healing and restoration before I was spiritually prepared for this ministry. Now, I wouldn't trade those horrid years of suffering for anything - even though I felt that God had surely abandoned me during that time. It wasn't until I just gave it over to God, and said "Whatever is Your will, I accept - even if I will never have a restored marriage - I give it over to you. I've tried everything. I quit. I give up. It's yours now. I'll just trust in You and find my satisfaction, my peace and my husband in You.I choose contentment in my life, inspite of this circumstance." With that act of submission, God did a miracle. Now, my husband and I teach marriage classes and enjoy a wonderful marriage - better than I had ever dreamed it would be.

Who would have guessed that God was preparing me for a ministry in this area? I believe God is preparing each of us for ministries in many different areas. He intends to use believers to minister unto believers. Every believer has hope and comfort to offer another because of the suffering, the issues they have faced. We suffer because God is drawing us near, teaching us to quit depending on our own strength to make everything work out, or God intends to help His people through the wisdom He plans to impart to you through this turmoil.

Trust in Him. Give it to Him. Thank Him for this trial.

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thes 5:18 (Thank Him because you believe this circumstance is part of His wonderful plan. It is going to be used for glory and good and peace in your life.)

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world." 1 Peter 5: 8-9

Don't let the enemy devour you while you are suffering. Let God use this for His glory.

"You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed and grieved by various trials and temptations so that the genuineness of your faith--more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1: 6-7
Praise the Lord - Your suffering is not for naught - it will result in an amazing victory; and we are promised that it is for a short time. There will be an end to it. Go to the Lord, and lay it all at His feet. He's got it all handled, if you would simply let go of it, and let Him show His stuff.

Jericho

Today our Bible study focused on Joshua. During the study I was compelled to consider, "What is my Jericho and who are the Canaanites I must overcome in order to win Jericho?" It was only seconds later that I knew in my heart that my Jericho, my promised land, the journey I’m on and the place I hope to reach is a home surrounded by godly adult children.

I desire that all my children become adults that are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, earnest in their relationship with God, passionate about the things of God, fulfilling their God-given calling – the work they were created to do – married to godly people that have the same love and sensitivity to the Lord, loving, wise spouses and parents. That is my promised land. That is the family which I pray surrounds me on my death bed.

So, who are the Canaanites that would like to lay claim to my land? Who are the usurpers, that want to steal this land from my family? The culture. The morals. The enemies of God. Satan, of course. He would do this through music, through movies, through friends, through other adults and authorities that I thought I could trust (Satan is crafty and deceitful), through my lack of diligence or prayerlessness. These Canaanites would take every opportunity I allowed them: every time I allowed my child too much freedom and independence, or too much unsupervised time.

But I know that, like Joshua, I must first believe. Believe that God does intend for us to reach our promised land. He desires it, as I do. Believe, then pray. Pray in faith that God will fight this battle. Pray for God to win this battle. Seek His directions concerning every detail of this battle. Then obey. And sometimes that obedience requires me to do some unpopular things. Marching around a huge wall with a tooting trumpet probably looked pretty weird to those who would not have them win the city. Some of the things I feel God is telling us to do probably look absurd to others as well. But only through obedience will the victory be won. We must seek God, and then follow Him. Oh PRAISE the LORD that we serve a God that will lead us if we trust Him to do it. He will show us the path to take.

“And whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: "This is the way. Walk in it."

Isaiah 30:21

Healing

Today, April 6th, is a landmark day for me. I was just given the definitive answer about whether or not I have been completely healed of thyroid cancer.

It all began about 8 years ago in San Diego when I became pregnant with my third child. I was referred to a specialist because of my history with miscarriages. The specialist had a particular understanding of thyroid disorders that caused pregnancy problems. Well, in checking my thyroid, he felt a small bump: A teeny tiny nodule.

I went to my family practice doctor, who spent 30 minutes trying to find it. He couldn't, but reluctantly referred me to the endocrinologists anyway. My endocrinologist was astonished that any doctor, besides an endocrinologists, could feel this tiny nodule. It was God's hand upon my life that brought me to this OB that could feel this miniscule tumor. I believe I would not have found it for years and years and years if I had not had high risk pregnancies.

Because I was pregnant, they decided to wait until I had the baby to remove it.

A month after I had my son, I went back and it had definitely grown. Not a good sign. The doctor was extremely concerned and wanted to schedule me for surgery right away. Unfortunately, I was moving to Georgia and couldn't do surgery in San Diego.

When I moved to Georgia, I found a family doctor, who scheduled me for surgery. I went in and had my thyroid removed. The odds were that it was not cancer. Only 5% of the time is a nodule on your thyroid cancer. Yet, it was cancerous; a rare highly malignant form of thyroid cancer called Tall Cell Variant as well as a more common form of Papillary Carcinoma were discovered. I had radiation after the surgery. (Iodine 131 - the same stuff that leaked in Chernobyl). I had to quit nursing and stay away from my family for a week afterwards because I was so radioactive. I was like a walking chest x-ray machine. Anyone within six feet of me received the equivalent of a chest x-ray the moment they got near me.

Unfortunately, I didn't have an endocrinologist to regulate my thyroid following the radiation. So whatever thyroid cells that were left in my body began to increase in size over the next few months. Upon finding an excellent endocrinologists, I was informed that these cells were likely cancer because they didn't die when radiated. Within my neck formed a large tumor (about the size of a nickel). I had just found a wonderful Conservative Southern Baptist Church. The director of the women's ministries scheduled a prayer meeting for me in the prayer room. She invited a missionary who believed God still heals (I wasn't sure that I believed this), the pastor, her husband and mine to pray for me. They prayed over me for hours.

I also had people around the world praying because I was put on an international prayer chain started and led by the president of the company where my husband works. We went on a company cruise and when people learned my name, they would say "I've been praying for you EVERY DAY!" In fact, often I would be out somewhere and someone I didn't even know at all would come up and say that God had been waking them up at night to pray for me. It was unbelievable the number of people that were faithful to pray for me.

Nevertheless, I went back to the doctor and had a scan only to find out that the tumor was still there. They wanted to reschedule me for more radiation and possibly more surgery. I was willing to go. However, my husband was in intense prayer and felt God was leading him in another direction. He felt I was not to get radiation. I'm thinking, "Oh dear." Now, I had never met anyone who was healed of anything. I had never watched any healing stuff on T.V. because that all looked contrived to me. The man who prayed for me that believed in healing had seen many healings. But that just didn't happen in my world.

As a side note, my husband was extremely interested in keeping me around, he was in love with me, and enjoyed the fact that I could raise our three children. He wasn't super interested in being a widow, raising three kids - two being toddlers; yet, he was suggesting that I not get radiation (the only way one can destroy thyroid tissue). Further, my husband is very pragmatic and logical, and extremely unemotional even about spiritual things. For him to be saying this was definitely out of the ordinary. I, being the subservient wife that I am, said, "Are you crazy???" Nevertheless, I decided to pray and ask that the Lord would give me the same leading if it were really His will. It's a long story filled with miracles how God did this, but He gave me the same leading. Now, I wasn't sure if it was because God wanted to take me to heaven to be with Him or if He was going to heal me. Whichever was fine with me. For my life verse had become, Philippians 1:21-26

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me."

I realized that if I were to live, my life would not be my own anymore (not that it ever was my own once I was saved, but now I felt that my entire life was even less mine, and only on loan from God). I realized that every day of my life should be lived for Him and His purposes. I gave myself to Him for His work to be done in my life, for however many years I had left. (Incidentally, these science books are the result of that offering unto Him.)

The doctor was livid and quite frightened that I refused radiation. He begged, implored and warned me continually. It was hard to resist. But we had to obey God. I went back to the doctor every few months to measure the tumor; I always felt a little embarrassed about our decision in the face of this very strong willed doctor. Prayer was still forthcoming from all those around me. People were telling me they felt sure I was going to be fine. I was sure I was as well, especially since whether I live or die, I will be fine.

The Lord, however, taught me to pray with confidence against the cancer. To proclaim my body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and to take authority over the cancer - much like Jesus rebuked the fever in Peter's mother, Dorcas. I asked the Lord for faith; He gave it little by little. He is the author and finisher of our faith, after all. I learned also that often cancer is associated with bitterness and unforgiveness. I wasn't sure if this was true, but I realized that there were some people in my past that I had not forgiven. I went through a time of repentance and absolutely forgave everyone the Lord brought to my mind. If this cancer had anything to do with that, then I wanted that door closed. This is one reason I blog so much on forgiveness. It was an amazing thing for me to be free after that walk through forgiveness. I want everyone to experience that freedom. The Lord took me through some tremendous moments of communion with Him and gave me such a heart for His people. I was so thankful for the cancer and all that it had done for my walk with God. It really made me long for heaven even more, where I can be with Him forever and ever.

After months of this precious journey with God, on one particular visit to the nuclear medicine department at the hospital, the nurses could not locate the tumor. They sent immediately for the chief radiologist. He confirmed that there was no tumor. It had disappeared. My husband and I walked out of there in awe. It was quite a different experience than every other time we had gone into the cancer center. If you've ever had to go to the cancer unit at the hospital, you know what I mean.

Nevertheless, since this is impossible, my endocrinologist was not satisfied, even when my blood showed complete remission. Further, even though the tumor was gone (a medical miracle) there was still a tiny needle sized piece of tissue in my neck. Scar tissue, perhaps? There was no way to be certain. So, for years, I've been going in every few months and having scans and other test and procedures. In the scans there is some sign of thyroid tissue in my neck. For five years, there has been this small tissue. In my heart, I've believed it’s not cancer. Why would God miraculously remove a tumor and leave cancer still in my body? Nevertheless, I've been trotting to downtown Atlanta twice a year for all kinds of tests, MRI, thyrogen scans, multiple blood tests, always with the doctor wanting me to do more radiation, just in case.

Finally, Atlanta got a PET scan machine. The PET scan can detect cancer cells, even at their earliest stages. A PET scan can detect thyroid cancer cells easily. However, the machine costs 2 million dollars. The hospitals don't own the machine, but a mobile unit comes by and will do the procedure for a mere $6,000. Most insurance companies will not approve a PET scan. My doctor wanted a PET/CT scan for me. So, after a FNA biopsy (YOWCH!) last month, they scheduled me. I had many praying that the insurance company would allow it. They did! Monday and Tuesday I went down for prep work. On Wednesday, I got the scan. Today, the doctor called me....and... there are no cancer cells in my body! None. Nada! There are no cancer cells of any sort. Praise the Lord!

"I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done."
Psalm 118:17

I felt that with this miracle, it is my duty before God to proclaim what the LORD has done. I have never been extremely vocal about it because I had no scientific evidence that I was indeed healed. I just wanted to be careful about proclaiming something that I just didn't fully understand.

I still don't understand healing. I've been sporadically reading a book called The Power to Heal. It's not written by someone in the protestant charismatic movement; it's actually written by a believing Catholic priest - of all people. It's very good and discusses some of the abuses done in the name of healing in the church, as well as how most healing God does is progressive like mine was. Jesus had an experience of progressive healing when he put the mud on the eyes of the man who could see men walking around like trees. He continued the procedure and the man was subsequently healed completely.

I truly believe that the prayers and, very likely, my walking through the repentance of bitterness were effective in the healing I received from God. From this book I've been reading, I am inclined to believe that the number of people praying for me must have been a powerful force in this.

God still heals today. I wish I could say I understand it all, why He sometimes doesn't heal, why some are healed, others are not. How much faith, prayer, collective prayer, repentance of sin has to do with it. I just don't know the answers to these questions. I suppose healing cannot be assigned to some formula, every person and circumstance is different. The Bible gives so many accounts of healing, and some accounts of those who were not healed. It's hard to understand. I think the main thing is that we should be completely submitted to His will. Whatever is His will, we want that the most - more, even, than our own lives. For, all but one of the apostles loved not their own lives even to death. They were all martyred.

With healing, I'm reminded of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who replied, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

Thus, we shall proclaim in all things, "God is able to do it, but if He does not, I will trust and worship Him still."

I really don't believe that I would have written these science books if I had not gotten cancer. For, though I lived for God, I was not so completely submitted to Him until after I went through the entire process. I didn't realize my own desperate need, my own lack of ability to do anything without Him. I learned how to totally give up myself and let Him be my all in all. I learned to follow His leading, even when it didn't seem the practical thing to do.

I believe the Lord wants me to proclaim to you that He does still heal. With the advent of modern medicine, we often don't need to seek Him for healing. Often, in our fear of being associated with con artists and flamboyant, doctrinally unsound preachers, we tend to push aside this part of God's work in the life of His children.
But it is my heart and desire to tell you all that God is able and - not only is He able - He does still heal, even conservative Christians like me!

Commit Thy Works Unto the Lord

"Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established." Proverbs 16:3

I read this today and we deeply moved. It often seems the Christian life is a battle waged in our thought life. At least mine is. Perhaps normal people don't think as much or as tediously as I do. "Is my heart right? What are my motives in this activity? Am I in God's will? Are we on the right track? Is this God's plan for us? What does God want for my child? Am I where I'm supposed to be spiritually?" On and on the thoughts go, each and every day: Fighting against fear, discouragement and seeking God's perfect will for me and my children.

I love how the Amplified Bible renders the verse above:

"Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thougths to become agreeable to His will, and]so shall your plans be established and succeed." Proverbs 16:3

What a wonderful answer to all that grappling of mind! Instead of sitting around thinking, thinking, thinking, if I simply commit my works, my plans, my children, my day, my moments, every choice completely unto God, HE will establish my thoughts - He will guide, lead and conform my thoughts to His will. Then, all shall work out according to His perfect will. I can turn off the continual stream of questioning thoughts and worries, by making a decision, each moment - but especially those moments that I'm in doubt - to give it all over to Him.

Sometimes I want to make the Christian life so much more complicated. God says - just commit your works to me - an act of your will - then I'll do the rest.

LORD, I commit all these things unto you. I place them in Your hands. I will not fear, or struggle or be anxious. I choose to simply, right now, trust it all to YOU. I give it to you and believe that You are going to establish my thoughts and my plans - and they will succeed by Your standards of success.

What's My Worldview?

People kick around the word worldview a lot. I remember when I first began hearing about it, I wondered, "What does that mean?" After a bit, I could give you a definition based on context. Yet, I really couldn't give you a strong meaning. Since then, the Lord has revealed a lot more about this thing called worldview. I'm so thankful because the more I ponder what I've learned, the more excited I get about it. I would like to share with you a little bit about worldview.

The foundation for one's worldview has to do with the meaning of life. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Why am I here? It all really comes down to that. What is my purpose?

If you believe you are a big accident that happened as a result of some odd explosion billions of years ago, and your grandmother is that fish with flippers they recently found (which by the way is not that unusual since seals and turtles have similar fin structures), the meaning of your life is quite...well, meaningless. You have no meaning in life. You're an accident. You have no purpose. You can make up a purpose, but it's ultimately meaningless. When you die. That's it. You're dead. Whatever you did was meaningless, really - especially when all the humans evolve into flying space people.

However, if you believe, like I do, that you were created by God, and not only that, but that He designed you in a very special and unique way to fulfill a very special and unique roll on this earth - then your life has meaning.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Not only are you unique and have a special purpose, but God even thought of you and planned for that purpose before He even made the earth.

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." Ephesians 1:4

Not only were you created by God, but every single day of your life matters to God.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

God also has a very great plan for you. What you do with your time, your days, your life matters to Him. You are extremely rare, and special. Very special. You don't make up your own destiny. You don't determine your purpose. If you did, you would live in mediocrity. Yet, if you seek God with all your heart, He will reveal and lead you into His purpose for your life. It will be a purpose that will prosper you. You will be prosperous in the ways that really count -what is prosperous in the sight of God.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord" Jeremiah 29:11-13

A Christian worldview offers us meaning in life. It gives us hope. Our lives have purpose. We are here for a specific reason. OUR CHILDREN ARE HERE FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE! Our highest calling is to make that truth known to their sweet and dear hearts - they are special, they have a special purpose for their lives. We must tell them that every single day. When they leave our home, it is so important that they know that they know that they are valuable, significant and important because God has designed in His image and for a specific purpose. It is so important that they learn how to seek God's plan - His perfect will for them. We should pray Colossians 1:9 over them with consistency.

How sad for the athiest who believes they are nothing of signficance unless they achieve something that some arbitrary system deems valuable. How sad that they think they are as important as the trillions of earthworms in the park. How heartbreaking that they think this life is all there is to their existence. There is no peace for a person that believes these things. We know, as Christians, the only peace available to mankind comes through the Lord. We know from experience. We know because we all sought after the things of the world, always looking for that next accomplishment or conquest that would finally bring satisfaction - and we all found the satisfaction shortlived. When we finally sought God and for the first time found true, lasting peace. That bottomless pit that resided in our hearts - that emptiness, that desperate lonliness - could only be filled with God.

Ultimately, the foundation for your worldview is what you believe about origins. What you believe about where you came from, where you are going and Who decides that. We have a reason for our existence. A reason to be. A reason to keep on going. A reason to pray. A reason to seek God. Yes, a reason for living.

Fear vs. Faith

I went to a seminar last night on fear and learned some really amazing things. I would like to share one thing I learned, because I really think so many of us homeschool moms make choices out of fear.

Here is what I learned:

1. Fear is the opposit of faith, but it is actually similar to faith. You "believe" the fear, much the same way that you should rather believe God. Therefore, fear is an expression of faith. You have faith in the thing you fear, rather than in the Truth.

An example of this is fear in homeschooling (if your fear something else, just replace your fear with what I've written below):

You fear that you aren't able to do a good job homeschooling your kids. You allow this particular fear to speak lies to your mind - lies you are listening to, pondering. You begin to have "imaginations" of the future - all the horrid things that the fear tells you is going to happen. You entertain and give your attention to this fear/lie. You believe this fear. You have embraced this fear. You have begun to place your faith in this fear - rather than the Word of God, which tells you many things opposit to this fear, such as, "You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you" and "For I know the plans I have for you (applies to your children as well), plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future." So basically, you are not believing God, but rather believing fear. Not good.

Now, you know that God has called you to homeschool, and you really don't feel good about not homeschooling, but you have opened the door and made a guest bedroom in your heart to this particular lie. It's become a regular part of your day, your thoughts, your actions, your feelings, how you respond and possibly has robbed you of all joy, peace and kindness to your kids. You are controlled to a certain extent by fear. However, you continue to homeschool, but with total fear and unbelief in your ability to do it. If the fear gets totally in control, you will give up homeschooling - then you will have lost control to fear.

How could you have avoided this scenario, and how do you get out of it once you are in the fear?

Well, first thing is - remember that fear is a lie. God tells us throughout His Word that we should not fear. He knows that fear is a controlling horrid thing, and he wants us to have faith rather than fear. When fear begins to whisper its dirty lie to you, think WDJD - What Did Jesus Do! How did Jesus rebuke the enemy? Through the Word of God. What Word does God give us about fear? Many. Here are some for you when you are being tempted with fear:

"I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind." 2 Tim 1:7
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me." Psalm 23:4

"But whoever listens to me shall dwell in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm." Proverbs 1:33

The entire chapter of Psalm 91 is a great chapter to memorize in your fight against fear.

The important thing is that you believe the Word, not fear. Put more faith in the Truth that you read in the Scripture than you do the lie that is projecting a terrible, hurtful, painful, ruined future for you. Do not put your faith in fear. Put your faith in God's Word. God loves and adores you, He wants to bless you - and He promises to do so. His only requirement is faith. We must believe God. We must believe the good things He has for us. Remember that Hebrews says the children of Israel that God so wanted to bless did not enter in to the promised land because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3). What was it that they did not believe? They did not believe that God wanted to, and would bless them, protect them, fight their battles for them, give them good things and peace. They just didn't believe it - they listened to fear - "We're going to perish here in the desert!"

Paul scolded the Galations with these very words:

"I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?...Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard [faith]?"

Let's be filled with faith!

So what do you do if you have already believed fear? What do you do once fear is controlling your life?

Well, the first thing is REPENT! Yes, if you realize that fear is the opposite of faith - and you have embraced fear over faith in the God who saved you, then you must ask God to forgive you.

Remember that God tells us that if you repent, not only will He forgive us, He will cleanse us of all unrighteousness. So once you have repented, you must believe that you are also cleansed. Sometimes Jesus rebuked the enemy and told him to be gone. We can do the same to fear.

Then, I would spend time memorizing Scriptures that oppose the fear you entertained. If you aren't sure of any that oppose the particular fear that has gripped you, go to www.crosswalk.com and do a word search in their Bible Study Tools area. For example, if you fear disease - do a word search on "disease" and it will bring up Scriptures that you can memorize about protection from disease - such as Psalm 91.
Next, stand firm in the Truth. Whenever a fearful thought tries to take you captive, you take your thoughts captive to the Word of God instead. Speak outloud those Scriptures and stand firm against fear. Do not give ear to fear. Give ear only to the Word of God. Put your faith in God, not in fear. Believe God; don't believe the fear. God has good things for you. God has fully equipped you for every good work. You can do all things through Him. He has great plans for you and your children.

Notebooking

I would have to say that using notebooks in our homeschool
is the most rewarding and fulfilling thing we do. It honestly keeps
me afloat and from feeling discouraged or ineffective. In fact, notebooks even give me a sense of accomplishment, a much needed sentiment in this ongoing journey.

We usually use notebooks in place of worksheets, even when the curriculum provides worksheets. Fill in the blank worksheets with word searches, matching games and the like are unable to engage my children the way creating pages for their notebook does. Writing and illustrating for their notebook employs all of the child, his memory, his creativity and the things that interested him the most about what we learned. The child remembers his work far better when all of his mind is involved in recording his learning than he does when 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. I simply love the sight of my children gathered around the table, sharing a large bucket of colored pencils, chatting about what they are drawing, discussing the subject, and complimenting one another's work. They are all doing the same thing, each on his or her own level. It is the closest we have gotten to the idyllic homeschool I had pictured in my mind before I began this adventure.

How Does Notebooking Work

The way it works is like this; after each story we read, or everytime we teach history or science, the children sit down to illustrate a picture, or write down what they learned, usually both. The younger children sometimes dictate to me as I type out their narratives. This exercise serves as a written account of what the child remembered from the
lesson or story. The child is required to really contemplate and ponder on what was studied, and enjoys putting his musings in words. After that, they place their work in a page protector inside their literature, history or science three-ring binder. As we look back at all that we have done throughout the year, the children review and revel in their past learning. And there we have a complete record of the wonderful books we've read, the science and experiments we did, and the history we studied. It is all recorded and preserved; an unmistakable testimony of our learning.

As an instrument for the parent, notebooks offer a delightful record of what we taught and what our children learned; providing tangible evidence that, "Yes! I actually did teach them some interesting things this year!" When our children keep a personal notebook filled with collected artifacts, information they read about and illustrated, it rewards us to remember all that was accomplished.

The contents of our notebooks span the range. Our botany notebook is filled with, among other things, illustrations from nature walks, preserved leaves and records of all our experiments. Each history notebook is replete with illustrations from field trips, books we read and artists they studied. Our literature notebook has an illustration from each chapter of whatever book we are reading and a narration of the events therein.

Children of all learning styles are rewarded from the use notebooks. The verbal child can write long narratives, poems and stories about each subject. The artistic child can illustrate an assortment of pictures or make collages to help him remember the subject. The tactile child can collect artifacts and items that relate to the subject. And the preschooler feels they are "doing school" too as they color their little pictures and put them in their own notebook, just like the big kids. The notebook gives the child freedom of expression, while giving organization and order to the learning process.

We use plastic sleeve page protectors for every page placed in the notebook. It keeps each page nice as the children peruse their work again and again. Each time the children look through their notebook they are reminded of what they learned, unknowingly reviewing their school 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 more thoughtful study. For example, a child can open his American history notebook, and look over his simplified version of the settling of Jamestown. This will enable him to recall enough information to move into deeper study of the subject. Notebooking can make advanced studies less laborious.

Notebooks have been so gratifying for our family. The notebooks show elements of the child's learning, character, creativity and natural bent. It is a blessing to look over their past work. I love that I can say with confidence that "Yes! We have learned a lot these past years!" Without the use of notebooks, all the rich books we read and the incredible things we have learned would likely not be remembered. I can only imagine that when the children are grown and gone, I will spend countless hours pouring over their old notebooks, laughing and crying at the rich memories they hold.

Explaining Evolution

Our children have heard us say that evolution isn't true, but often we aren't sure how to explain how 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. From this article, I hope you will be able to explain the truths and untruths of evolution to your children. Better yet, copy and paste this article onto a document and print it up to read to them!

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. 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. Well, green really is a shade blue. But that’s hard to believe. 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.

Praying His Word

Someone once said that when you pray Scripture, it may sound like you praying to you, but it sounds like God to the devil. For the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than a double edged sword; God's Word will never return void but will accomplish that which God pleases for it to accomplish. (Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 55:11)

Because of this, I have made some special Scripture cards that I am praying over my family. Below are the Scriptures I am praying this month. I have replaced pronouns with parenthesis to insert my children's names.


Let not mercy and truth forsake ( ), bind them around ( )'s neck, write them on the tablet of ( )’s heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Prov 3:4

For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround ( ) with favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:12

( ) He also justified; and whom He justified, ( ) He also glorified. Rom 8:28-30

Teach ( ) Your way, O LORD; ( ) will walk in Your truth; Unite ( )’s heart to fear Your name. Psalm 86:11

( ) will make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man ( ) will not go, lest ( ) learn his ways and set a snare for ( )'s soul. I pray that ( ) will walk with the wise and become wise, and that ( ) will never keep the companionship of fools and be destroyed. Prov 22, Prov 13

I pray that ( ) will never be unequally yoked. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness. And what accord has Christ with Belial. And What part has a believer with an unbeliever? 2 Cor 6:14

I pray that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ( my children ) will all speak the same thing, and that there be no division among (them), but that ( my children's names ) will be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Cor 1:10

Behold how good and pleasant it is for ( names of my children) to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1

Blessed are the peacemakers, for (my children) shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

I pray that ( ) will have the wisdom that comes from above that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by ( ) who makes peace. James 3:17 - 18

Botany in Cold Climates

Botany in Cold Climates
I have often been queried about the practicality of doing Exploring Creation with Botany in the cold climates where winter hits hard and overstays its welcome. In an effort to make this book enjoyable and effective for all homeschoolers, from Alaska to New Zealand, I have come up with a solution and an explanation for this solution.

Though Exploring Creation with Botany was designed with primarily indoor activities, there are a few lessons that are best done when the outdoor world is green. For most people, this does not require a change in the sequence of the book. For some, the cold weather hits early and plant life seems to disappear for months. Because you will create an indoor greenhouse structure, you will be able to grow and experience plant life all year long. However, there are a couple of chapters that are more enjoyable when the student can encounter the flora in nature. Because of this, I have created a altered schedule for doing Botany in extremely cold climates. Some of the chapters are cumulative and must be doing following another chapters. Others are not as cumulative and could be done out of order.

You will find a one-year schedule and a half-year schedule below (both halves represented). Ideally, doing the book in one year allows for the least amount of juggling the chapters and the greatest retention. However, I have provided this for those wishing or needing to complete the study in half year.

Before choosing a schedule, allow me to briefly explain the lessons and any relevant information about each.

Lesson 1 must be done first. It explains the study of botany, classification and the different plant groups that will be covered in the course. Lesson 2 covers seeds. This should be done before doing Lesson 3 or 4, the flower section. It is wonderful to do the flower section before the first freeze, as studying flowers up-close adds to their learning. Lesson 5 is about the fruits that flowers produce. This is great to study in the fall, as that is when they are present, though some plants will produce fruits in the spring and summer as well. The fruits are usually littered upon the ground in the winter. Unless the world is under a thick covering of snow, you could do Lesson 5 anytime. Lesson 6 is about leaves and must be done when leaves are present. This Lesson should be scheduled as the second lesson you will do, before seeds and flowers. Lessons 7 - 10 are roots, stems, trees and gymnosperm. These lessons work quite well in any season; roots and trees are best done in winter. Lesson 11 and 12 are best done in the spring, summer or fall as sporangia are usually not prevalent in the winter. Lesson 13 is about nature journaling and can be completed any time during the year.



One Year Schedule
Completing One/Two Lessons per Month
August - May


August: Lessons 1, 6
September: Lessons 2, 3
October: Lesson 4, 5
November: Lesson 7
December: Lesson 8
January: Lessons 9
February: Lesson 10
March: Lesson 13 (This could be inserted anywhere between November and March)
April: Lesson 11
May: Lesson 12

One Semester/Half Year Schedule
Completing Two/Three Lessons per Month
August - December

August: Lessons 1, 6, 11
September: Lessons 12, 2, 3
October: Lessons 4, 5, 7
November: Lessons 8, 9
December: Lessons 10, 13



One Semester/Half Year Schedule
Completing Two/Three Lessons per Month
January - May

January: Lessons 1, 2, 13
February: Lessons 3, 4, 5
March: Lessons 7, 8
April: Lessons 9, 10
May: Lessons 6, 11, 12

This information is also on my website on the Botany page.

Prayer I

Who hasn't heard Jesus' Words in Mark 11:24 "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." We also know He tells us that with the faith of a mustard seed, we can move mountains and whatever we ask for in His Name, will be ours.
Why, then, does this not fit our own reality? Is it because it's not true? Is it because Jesus wasn't talking to us? Did God lie to us?

No. This can not be.

Our reality confirms the existence of God: our changed hearts, our changed lives, the many miracles we've seen. We know God, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible is nothing but Truth. He is incapable of lying. All Scripture was written for our reproof, and the Word of God stands forever. This Scripture was for our teaching. In fact, Jesus commanded his disciples to teach others everything Jesus had told them.

So, why then do we not always see answers to prayers. Well, we would have to dig in deeper into the Word for an answer to this question. In exegisical studies of the Word, we find that most of the promises of God are conditional. "Believe on me - THEN, you will be saved." "Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness and THEN all these will be added to you." "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." So many, many conditions. No, it's not a works based faith I'm professing - for we hear in Romans 4:5 that FAITH is not a work. "To him who does not work, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

No, our faith is not about works. To whosoever believeth, He gives eternal life. It's not by works, but by faith - so that no one can boast. Our salvation is not about works, but occasionally the promises for our lives are. The abundant life of peace and joy are available to all who call upon Jesus - but there are certain requirements. This is probably why part of the Great Commission is not only to bring others to the faith, but it's to teach them everything Jesus taught the disciples - we must pass along the baton of Truth to one another.

In searching the teachings of Jesus, and the Scriptures, I have come across five possible reasons why prayer might not be answered. Most people are quick to jump to the conclusion that when God does not answer, it's because it is not His perfect will. This could definitely be the case - and probably is most often the case. However, I believe the Word gives us some other reasons, some clues that might reveal why sometimes are prayers are not answered.
Let's take a look:

Remember that first Scripture I quoted from Mark 11:24: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Well, it's followed by an AND - in Greek is this word "kaiv" is also translated BUT. I think placing a but here is a better rendition of the verse. Let's see how it reads:

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. But when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

That gives a lot more meaning to that verse, doesn't it? It appears that one reason we may not be seeing answers is because we treasure some unforgiveness in our heart.

Do we have unforgiveness towards

...a relative

...a spouse

...a child

...a neighbor

...or even a whole community of people?

Do we hold unforgiveness towards ourselves? It's not uncommon. We've all acted so stupidly when we should have known better. Part of being human.

However, no matter who it is, we must forgive. It's hard I know. Very hard sometimes. Be encouraged, though, because it's a choice - not a feeling. We choose to forgive even before we feel forgiving.

It's time to allow God to cleanse you of the sin of unforgiveness. It only adds to your burden. Honestly, it doesn't benefit us one single bit to hold onto our sadness at another's treachery.

Unforgiveness is the poison you drink expecting someone else to die.

Whenever I have sat quietly before God and asked Him to reveal any unforgiveness I have towards anyone, He has ALWAYS been faithful to show me. I have an entire blog on forgiveness - mostly as it relates to marriage, but forgiveness in general is also discussed.

Forgiveness Blog.

Forgiveness is vital if we want to see our prayers answered. Cleanse your hearts before God and allow His healing to flow into the wounds of your past. Then, you can say with confidence "Forgive me my sins, Lord, just exactly in the same way as I have forgiven those who have sinned against me."

There are four other reasons I will share over the next few days. Tune in tomorrow!

Prayer II

I shared yesterday that I believe unforgiveness is one thing that can hinder our prayers, and I promised a second reason today.

Though the Lord promises that whatever we ask for in prayer will be given us, this doesn't always fit our reality. Why is that? Well, apart from what I shared yesterday, another reason I have found for unanswered prayer is failure to confess. Confession. It's actually an important element in the answering of prayers. It's not a matter of being perfect before God in our flesh, it's a matter of confessing our imperfection, our sin, our heart before Him, and trusting in His cleansing.

Once we believed in the LORD, all our sins were forgiven. Yet, God asks us to continually cleanse our lives from sin through confession. We've all heard, "if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That means that we are only one moment away from being totally clean before God - confession. That's what He calls us to do when we sin in word, thought and deed.

Long ago I was reading the story of how Jesus' washed the feet of the disciples and was suddenly struck by something Jesus said during a conversation with Peter. Here is the conversation in John 13:

Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean."


When I read this I pondered this last sentence spoken by Our Lord. What I believe Jesus meant was that because Peter believed in Him, he already had the cleansing that came with salvation. But if we want to walk with Jesus, and take part in all that He has procured for us on this earth and in this life - if we want to take part in what Jesus is doing and be a part of His work on earth - we must get the dirt off our feet.

Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

We walk in a world that is continually drawing us away, off we trapse, onto dirty paths that cover our feet in filth. The feet of the righteous - that's what we have. Why allow dirt to hinder our walk? Why allow it when we are only a few steps away from being clean again?

Even after the amazing cleansing that comes with salvation, we must allow the Lord to cleanse the dirt from our feet as we walk through this dusty world. If we don't let Him do this cleansing, then we miss out. I believe part of that missing out includes hindered prayers.

James tells us "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

Who is righteous? The one who has been cleansed of all unrighteousness. Who has been cleansed of all unrighteousness...he who has confessed his sins to God - the One who is faithful and just to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Yes, He is faithful and just to wash off our feet, to wash off the dirt we tracked in this day...this week...this month...this year...this decade.

Once we are cleansed of unrighteousness...we stand before Him as righteous; and we are promised that our prayers will be powerful and effective.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--
Jude 1:24

Prayer III

The third reason we may not see our prayers answered is probably the least popular, but might actually be the most common. I think the reason it has been given such a bad rap as a reason for unanswered prayer is because of the abuse and wrong doctrine that some have preached concerning this one requirement for answered prayers.

Let me drop a few hints about what it is - straight from the mouth of The Lord:

Will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?"

Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

"Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you."

Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you";

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted."

"Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.

"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you.

And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel."

"Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.

However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

I'm sure you figured out the third reason we sometimes don't see prayers answered. Faith. Now let me state from the outset that I have known people who have taken this faith issue to an unbiblical extreme, wherein they believe they must "pretend" they have faith - afraid to "say" anything to the contrary. They believe expressing any kind of doubt is a lack of faith. The truth is, expressing your doubts is honesty, and not admittint your doubts is not genuine. We are to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. There is no place for pretense. God knows the truth. He's only asking that we, like the man with the epileptic son say, "I believe! Help me with my unbelief."

What many people don't understand about faith, is that we can't conjure up faith. We can't convince ourselves to have faith. We can't drum up a measure of faith. We can't speak faithfilled words and hope it will wipe out the doubts we truly harbor. The truth is...we really can't have faith. We're too weak and wicked. But God! God can. God will. God delights in pouring out faith into our open, honest and humble hearts.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith"

Hebrews 12:2

We have not faith, only because we ask not for it. We either don't see its value or we don't know that we only need to fall on our faces before God and confess in truth that we have so little faith and want more.

If we don't see faith's value in the Christian life. Think on this: Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

If it's impossible to please God without faith - then it would seem that have faith, more and more faith would be of great value. For we see how amazed and pleased Jesus was when He ran across someone with great faith. All the things we do to walk closer with God, and yet He is pleased only if we have faith.

If, when you pray, you don't believe God will grant your request, you lack faith. If, when you pray, you don't think God wants to grant your request for whatever reason, you lack faith. If, when you pray, you beg and plead like a beggar outside the castle, hoping for a crumb from an unwilling King, you lack faith. We are CHILDREN of the King. Members of His household. Does your child beg and plead for breakfast? No. Your child simply asks in faith, believing that you will provide food for him or her. That's the kind of faith we should have when we ask of God. We are His children. Everything belongs to Him. Everything is under His control. Whatever you ask for, believing, it will be granted to you. Don't fear that it might not be His will. Simply pray, "If it's your will...." and then ask Him to fill you with the faith to believe that it will be done if it's His will. Very few things a devoted child of God desires are really and truly against His will - if we are walking with Him, our hearts are usually sanctified enough to desire those things which are within His will. We'll discuss this in the next unanswered prayer blog. In the meantime, ask for faith. Ask the Lord to grow you in your faith in His love for you. Your faith in His desire to bless you. Your faith in how much He longs to see you joyful and at peace. Your faith in a God who wants to give good gifts to His children. Ask the Author of your faith to perfect it, as that is what He longs to do.

Prayer IV

Jesus says that whatever we ask for in prayer, we should have. Yet, often that's not our personal experience. We've discussed that sometimes prayers are not answered because we need to forgive, or we harbor unconfessed sin, or even that we lack faith in a good God that would want to bless us with the desires of our hearts. Today, I want to address the last two things that I personally know of that can hinder our prayers. I know there are probably other reasons, but these are the last two I will discuss in this blog series.

The first is lack of support. Sometimes, we just need more than one person praying. We need a few more voices raised in agreement with us. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:19
"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."

For some reason, there is more power in the prayer of two. If this is so, how much more power would three have?

Though I've got some ideas about why this is so, I'm really not sure. I only know that I've seen this principle at work in my own life. For years I prayed for my dad to get saved. Individually. Then, one day, my sister in law and I are talking on the phone and she says, "Let's pray together every week for him to get saved." So, she called me once a week and we prayed for him to get saved. He got saved that very year.

I've heard stories of people whose children were on their death bed and the family earnestly praying over them to no avail. Yet, when they enlisted the prayers of other prayer warriors - people who are truly committed to and believe in the efficacy of prayer - within hours the child was well.

Perhaps you aren't seeing answers to your deepest needs because you need to confide in someone else. Confide in someone who is a true prayer warrior, someone who knows God answers prayers and knows it well. Someone who loves the Lord and wants to see you succeed. Even Moses needed support of Aaron and Hur, who held up his arms so that the battle would be won and God's people would have the victory. If Moses needed the support of others, how much more do we?

Prayer V

The last reason we may not see answers to prayers is the reason most people give for all unanswered prayers. That reason is that what you are praying is not God's best for you.

There was a time when I suffered horribly in my marriage - some of it was due to my selfishness, some due to his. At the time, I thought it was ALL due to his selfishness and if he would shape up then I would be the most godly woman on earth - or pretty close.

I prayed and prayed for God to restore my marriage. I can tell you right now that if God had reached down and touched my marriage, it would not have been God's best for me. I needed to learn how to get my needs met from the Lord. I needed to forgive, confess, have faith and enlist the prayers of others (the last four things we discussed in this series), but it was also NOT God's best for me to have a great marriage until I learned how to be joyful and at peace when things were not as I wanted them.

At the time, I would have told you that I was certain it was God's will for my husband to be a godly man, spiritual leader and an affectionate loving husband - living with me in an understanding way. I was sure that it was God's will for me to have a great marriage. Yet, the truth is...if I had never learned to have joy, peace, laughter and be full of love towards my husband in spite of the fact that he wasn't even close to what I wanted in a husband, I would NEVER have learned those things otherwise. I would never have learned to find my peace from the Lord. A great marriage offers a woman so much peace that she can easily forget the source of all joy and comfort. I would never have grown in spiritual maturity if I had the husband then that I have now.

His will is for good, to bless us with good things. However, sometimes we must wait until we learn how to receive those good things. I wouldn't have known how to have that great marriage in my immature neediness. I needed my husband to be godly. I was sooooo needy.

After learning my place as a helper to my husband, not groping for him to bless me, God gave me what I really needed: a heart is to minister to him as my husband with no conditions. Today, he's godly because he has chosen to walk with God in that way, not because I needed him to be. I learned that what I really need is God - the only thing I really need is a close walk with God. I can have total and complete peace and joy in the presence of the Lord. I can get it no other way. But I would never have learned that if God had given me what I wanted when I wanted it. Yes, sometimes what we want for ourselves is really not God's best. It's not God's will.

But how do we know what God's will is? How do we know if what we are asking is not His will?

The answer is to have a vital, life giving, genuine walk with Him. If we draw near to God, truly draw in close and seek Him alone - forgetting all the other things that seem so important and just seek Him - many of the things we think we need or want will change, and those things which we really do need (like bills paid) will fall into place.

Seek ye first His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all these WILL be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

That simply means, seek God alone, and He'll take care of the rest.

You see, once I finally learned to get my needs met, my need for affection and affirmation, by the Only One who can truly make my heart whole - then and only then would God grant me the desires of my heart.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Interestingly, once my heart was knit to God, I felt a tugging on my heart to pray for certain things, and I knew that God intended to answer those prayers. It was like I became a vessel that God prompted to pray, and He worked through those prayers. God has, for some reason, ordained man's prayer as the means by which He will accomplish His purposes.

John Wesley said "God does nothing but in answer to prayer."

Now, that may be a bit extreme. But I do know that when my heart was yielded, I could feel His Spirit prompt me to pray for this or that. Sometimes He would awaken me at night to pray for specific people that perhaps I hadn't thought of in years. God works through prayer. We can know and believe that He does.

I found that when I was truly walking with Him in a vital relationship, whatever I asked for in prayer was done. Interestingly, I seemed to know what to ask and what not to ask. It was as if I was led by His Spirit in all that I would and would not pray about. And my heart's desires seemed to be aligned to desire only those things which I felt Him give me the desire to desire. Does that make sense? It's a bit strange when I try to explain it. I'm not saying that I only desired "holy" things. For example, if I was late going somewhere, I would feel a prompting to pray that I would not hit a single red light. And I wouldn't. I knew that if I prayed for it, I wouldn't hit the red lights. However, on another occasion, I would hope not to hit any red lights, but I would feel sort of a check in my spirit about praying for that. I seemed to know in my heart that God wouldn't have me pray for that - and so I didn't. And I would feel at peace about the fact that it wasn't going to be His will for me to sail down the street without stopping. I was keeping in step with the Spirit. Oh! to be there always. How wonderful that would be, huh? It only requires that we spend a great deal of time worshipping and praising and praying. Something we should make time to do even in the midst of homeschooling our babies. God's desire is to embrace us in His loving arms - no matter how neglectful we've been lately. We seem to always be wandering off like the prodigal, forgetting our place as an important and valued child of the Father. And He always waits, willing to, over and over again, run and embrace us, gather us into His forgiving arms, placing the royal robes around us, putting the signet ring back on our finger - proclaiming our place in the family of God - and celebrating our return from the land far away from our Father's embrace.

As prodigals, we aren't wasting our inheritance on wild living, only groping in the dark for peace and joy outside of our Father's embrace. Again and again we find out that there is no peace and joy outside of Him. I can't count how many times in my Christian walk I've played the prodigal.

Like the prodigal, we think that we've been away so long, living our own lives on our own terms so long that we're certainly not worthy to go home to our Father's house and be an honored daughter of the King. In our desperation and loneliness we think "But maybe He'll receive me back and drop a few morsels of His grace from the table to me." Yet, again and again, when we finally do turn back towards home - He picks up His robes and runs full speed out to meet us, embracing us and ushering us back in, forgiving us for our long absence of living in self will - and pouring out all His blessings upon us - renewing His perfect plan and vision for our lives.

Trusting in His Promises

Faith comes by hearing (and reading) the Word of God.

The other day I was struggling with some negative emotions: fears and worries about this and that. I am of the strong belief that fear and worry are a sign of a lack of faith. If I'm worried, then I'm not trusting in God. Well, I prayed and earnestly repented of my fears. Yet, I still felt that lack-luster feeling we have when we aren't experiencing the joy of being a child of God.

I spoke to a close friend about it and she reminded me that it's not just turning away from our fears, but it's turning to God's Word and believing Him, believing what He tells us is ours in Christ.

We all have heard and read the Scripture "all things work for the good," but there are SO many Scriptures that are even better and more hopeful than this promise. Yet, as always, God's only requirement is faith. Of course, faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Often, we want to make all God's wonderful promises to us conditioned upon works, while Paul exhorts the Galatians that we receive through faith:

"So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" Galatians 3:5

So, I wanted to share some of the promises that have blessed me this week, I pray you will know they are for you as well - believe it, because it's true:

Psalm 91: 14 - 16

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Romans 3: 22

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

(We are RIGHTEOUS through Christ
and all the promises for those who are RIGHTEOUS
are ours when we believe them!)

Psalm 5:12

For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Psalm 34:17

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

Psalm 34:19

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;

Psalm 121: 7

The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.

After reading those verses and combining them with faith - don't you feel so safe in the Lord? Don't you feel like you can just go and do God's will without fear? Don't you feel strengthened? I sure do!

Now I can once again experience the blessed peace of just being a child of God!

Teaching them to Speak!

Statistics show that most people would rather jump from an airplane than speak in public. Even more astronishing, the fear of speaking is greater than the fear of death. Most Americans, most people in the world, prefer death over speaking to a crowd! Only five percent are capable and willing to take the platform. Only five percent have the confidence to speak to an audience. So, the question is: who are those five percent? Why are those five percent ready, willing and able to take the platform? Who also, will those five percent be when our children reach adulthood? Will they be made up of dynamic men and women who taking up the liberal agenda? Will it be eloquent “free-thinkers” stirring up the crowds to believe their unsupported gibberish? Or will it be those who have a message? A true message. The Message. Will the five percent be people offering hope and light to a world that is desperately looking for answers? If faith comes by hearing the Word of God, shouldn’t those who have the Word of God be trained to speak to those who are listening? Remember, no matter what your children do when they become adults, they will be required to communicate. Almost every one of them will be asked, at one time or another, to stand in front of an audience and speak. Frankly, no matter how much education a person has, the best communicators are the ones that lead the pack. My husband reported an interesting story to me last night. He plays in an adult church softball league. At the end of the final game, the umpire gathered the players together for a talk he was required to give - an invitation to accept Christ. The umpire told the two teams to meet him on the pitcher’s mound. He walked over to the gathering of men, and with shoulders hunched and eyes downcast, he nervously kicked the dirt. Then, sputtering out an apologetic, hesitant explanation, he gave the gospel message. His message was the most important one in the world, yet he made it seem like something to be embarrassed about. Although the message came through and was valuable, he lacked confidence and conviction. His fear of speaking overshadowed any certainty he may have felt about his walk with God. In the end, it’s the Holy Spirit that does the work in us. Yet those who can boldly and confidently proclaim the message reap rewards, such as those seen when Peter, Paul, and even Apollos proclaimed God’s Word to the crowds. Fear of public speaking. It is truly a handicap for Christians. Our children are bearing the image of Christ, and these little image bearers have a Message to give the world. Let us not fail to give them the tools they need to communicate this Message with confidence. Does it sound like speech might be a necessary subject to integrate into your homeschool? It’s true that speaking comes naturally for some, but confidence and eloquence comes through practice. Great speaking skills are rarely due to talent; great speaking skills are taught. An effective speaker will have a far greater influence on the world than a stammering bundle of nerves. So in the end, I believe the answer to the above question is: Yes. As a Christian with the Message of Life, teaching speech is necessary and even imperative in the homeschool classroom. We can and should train our children to be part of the five percent. If we all rise to the challenge, perhaps homeschooled Christians students will be that five percent. If we train them to be orators, we will find that these skills will advance them in their vocation and in their calling more than any amount of history, math, or Latin ever could. Let’s give them the Word of God first and foremost, and then train them to speak it with confidence.

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I have created a manual for people who want to teach speech in their co-op or begin a speech class with a group of homeschoolers. You can read about it here: http://www.jeanniefulbright.com/Speak_UP.html

Short Lessons

Charlotte Mason found amazing success with the tool of short lessons. Lessons that spanned ten to fifteen minutes for elementary students. I have found this same tool to be extremely helpful in aiding my children's in retention. Here is why I believe this works:

Studies show that we remember only the very first part and the very last part of what we read or hear. Therefore, our children are not retaining much in the middle of the reading or listening session. However, with sort lessons, the beginning and end are much closer together. Thus, the amount of material in the middle is reduced.

The interesting thing is that those studies were done on adults. Why should we limit short lessons to little children with even shorter attention spans than adults? I believe older kids will also benefit from this technique. Perhaps we should break up a subject into two sessions. For example, read science for fifteen minutes. Do math for fifteen. Read literature for fifteen. Then repeat. The retention would be substantially increased. Or, we could have our older students implement five minute breaks in their longer subjects, breaking up the material for increased retention. Perhaps they could wash the dishes during the break!

Shorter lessons are so important for our children's ability to learn. Not only do children who are forced to sit at the table doing math for an hour begin to hate math and school, they also learn far less than the child who is given a short math lesson of ten to fifteen minutes.

I can say that after years of begging, pleading and falling into frustrated despair over my children's inattentiveness, I've stumbled upon the answer. Oh, how I wish I had believed in short lessons before I did so much damage.