The Book and Testimony of Richard Wumberland

As part of our daily lessons, I teach my children church history. We often read about martyrs and theologians of the early church, but this past term, I decided a more modern perspective would be important as well.

So, as part of my daughter’s sixth grade study in church history, I have been reading the book: Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. It is the story of the persecution that took place in Romania during the communist regime. Richard Wurmbrand was a pastor during the 1950’s-1960’s when Romanian Christians were being persecuted by the Communist party. He writes not only bits of his years of being tortured in prison, but also of those believers he heard about or knew personally.

As the book reaches the second half, Pastor Wurmbrand discusses the lies of atheists and communists and points to various testimonies of those who have taken a public stand against those lies. Pastor Wurmbrand also speaks passionately about the need for Christian brothers and sisters in free countries to support their fellow believers who are being persecuted.

I have told several people, that even though I have read multitude of books throughout my lifetime, there are a few that change a person forever. The books, Tortured for Christ has done just that for me.

One of my favorite parts of the book is on pages 44-49 when Pastor Wurmbrand states that:

“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners, as it is in captive nations today. It was understood that whoever was caught doing received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching; they were happy beating us–so everyone was happy” (Wurmbrand, 2013 p.44).

As I read on, Pastor Wurbrand tells that often a Christian man would be interrrupetd as he was telling the prisoners about Christ, He would be severely beaten and brought back. When the damaged preacher was returned to the cell, he would adjust himself and ask his listeners, “‘Now, brethern, where did I leave off when I was interrupted?’ He continued his gospel messgae!” (Wurmbrand, 2013, p.45).

I find that ongoing event most convicting as I ask myself… how am I being persecuted for my Savior? How am I being beaten and bruised for Him? What sacrifices must I make on His behalf? The answer is a line with an empty space above it.

Yet, as I look at my comfortable recliner, with my Bible and prayer journal beside it, I am reminded that the disciplines of every-day must be my sacrifice. To be diligent to pray…pray…pray, to be faithful to God’s Word, to raise my children to also love their Savior, to sacrificially love my husband, to live at every cost to myself, to silence my prideful tongue, to discern truth and lies, to walk in grace and tenderness to others…this is my sacrifice. And though I may not be tormented by other people for my faith, I can strive to hold fast to my faith in a world where everything is created to pull me from it.

My cross, is to live out faith in a world of comfort, which is no less a challenging place to live out my faith in Christ than rotting in the basement of dirty prison cell. I may venture to add, that perhaps, crucifying myself is a far more difficult task in a free, wealthy, comfortable world than it might be if I bore the literal stripes upon my back from another’s whip.

I will muse again at another lesson I have learned from the book about how petty believers in the free-world can be. Richard Wurmbrand explains that the persecuted church makes churches in the free world seem void and meaningless. In his discussion of that topic, Wurmbrand states that:

“The Bible verses are not well known in many countries, because Bibles are not permitted. Besides, the preacher had most likely been in prison for years without a Bible…They are like Job who said that he would believe in God even if He would slay him. They are like Jesus who called God “Father,’ even when He was seemingly forsaken on the cross” (Yurmbrand, 2013, p. 89).

As an American Christian, with stacks of Bible’s on my shelves, apps on my phone bursting with biblical podcasts, and stacks of books written by believers from today back to hundreds of years ago, one would think, I have been blessed with much more opportunity to follow Christ. Yet, I find myself feeling like a very small believer in the light of a man with no Bible, no church, no Christian books or podcasts, laying on the floor of his prison cell for His beloved Savior.

I have been given so much perspective about what is and isn’t important. Believers in persecuted countries do not have the luxury to disagree with fellow Christians about worship styles, Bible versions, or whether or not a woman should hold the office of a deacon. Every cause we consider important in our Christian churches today, is something that is more of a distraction to the cause of Christ than a help to the precious gospel. I see so many believers self-promoting.

Believers agree on Christ and His grace poured out on their souls to save them. They hunger for fellowship with other believers and will meet together faithfully at the cost of imprisonment or death. Believers in the persecuted church make every American Christian look like a fake.

And truth be told, if I did not rest completely in Christ’s atonement on my behalf, despite the world of ease and sin where I live, I would seriously question the status of my own soul’s security in Christ. It is not by my work…but His, or I would be tempted to run to a country where I could suffer the most on His behalf and honor Him by my suffering.

It is here that my heart is pointed to the center of the matter. It is all about Him. And with every sweet testimony I read from Pastor Wurmbrand’s book, I can see the worthiness of Christ. Yes, He is worthy of every sufferer’s pain and every martyr’s death. Jesus is so insurmountably precious, and dear to us who love Him, that we cannot help, but pick up our cross daily and follow Him. Whether that cross be a chain in prison, or the chain of comfort. Both seek to drive our hearts further from Him, but may they only serve as something we bear to honor Him better.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.  -Isaac Watts

Homeschooling Will Not Save Them

 

On our walk today, we chanced upon some other home-schooling friends and I had a most interesting, yet troubling conversation with one of the mothers.

As we chatted, I learned that my new friend moved into the area a few months ago. In that time, she and her husband had been looking for a church. She sweetly stated that they were not faithful at attending church, but were hoping to find a home church soon and become more faithful. I quickly encouraged her aspiration. And our conversation turned to the subject of modern health-care, then laws, then our deeply broken culture.

She commented how grateful she was to be able to home-school as health-care and culture around her crumbled. The more we talked, the more distance my heart grew from her, as I realized our purpose in life was not the same. Even though she was a believer, she did not rest in God’s sovereignty for her children’s future. She was hoping home-schooling would protect them from the evils within and without.

Growing up as a home-schooler, my new friend was not believing any new lie. It was the same old philosophy I heard from home-schoolers throughout my entire life. The flaw was in parents trusting in home-schooling (basically themselves), rather than trusting in God for the spiritual well-being of their children.

No, it is not new at all that parents rely on how their children are raised and educated to be the redeeming factor in their children’s lives. Even if it is not home-schooling, many parents enroll their children in public or Christian schools for terribly wrong reasons. When I was in Christian college, there were a lot of students there, who were forced to go their as a last resort of their parents to fix the souls of their children. Christian schools are no different today. And I would venture to say that home-schooling is equally at fault. It is the belief in something other than God, to “fix” a child.

I have had many interactions with other home-schoolers throughout my life.  And can personally attest, there are great majority of homeschool parents who home-school out of a heart of fear. In fact, my heart was once in such a place of fearful control. So I completely get the underlying fear of the secular world. Home-schooling can be seen as simply a way for parents to have complete control of their children’s lives. For some parents, that is not the purpose of home-schooling, but for others, that absolutely is. Much more could be said on that account, but a discussion on a person’s need to “control” is another subject for another time.

Homeschooling is a way parents can control input into their children’s lives. Homeschool is a way parents can limit their children’s exposure to the secular world. Homeschooling becomes a way parents can indoctrinate their children with their faith. Homeschooling becomes the way parents protect their children from sin and the influences of the world and help them be good Christians.

Is any of that wrong? We could quibble that those home-schooling parents certainly are well intentioned and not unloving in their pursuit for what is best for their children, but Scripture says that: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6.

Christ is the ONLY source of hope for our children’s souls. That goal must be our first pursuit as parents. When I say our primary pursuit, it is most important that it is our personal pursuit. We must pray for our children as we strive to walk with God ourselves. Nothing is of more value for our children than our relationship with God. We must be faithful in studying and memorizing Scripture. We must seek out a church that is also faithful to God’s Word (not one that has a bunch of home-schoolers with the same life values as us). We must be faithful to Christ who sacrificed his precious blood for us: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25.

The trouble lies, when parents put their trust in for their children’s future in home-education and do not prioritize the church (not just “like-minded” homeschoolers). My new friend, was so comforted to know her children were being home-schooled and not pressured to be in the system of the world. Yet, she forsook the biblical command of fellowshipping with other believers. I cannot reconcile that thinking with Scripture. My new friend, could not possibly attempt to lead her children to Christ, if she herself did not lean into Him herself. Other home-schoolers and home-school groups are not the church. They may be believers, but being under the biblical direction and ministry of Elders at a local church is biblical. Home-schooling (dare I say it) is not. Homeschooling is a method of education, not our faith.

Homeschooling families often find safety, security, and hope in their home-schooling. Honestly, nothing could be more dangerous in my mind. I was home-schooled. A lot of my friends were home-schooled too. The vast majority of them are no longer followers of Christ. In fact, we have seen the results of a few home-school Christian leaders such as Joshua Harris who were home-educated and then choose not to follow Christ.

I would be the first to shout out from the mountain tops that home-schooling does not a soul save!

I would rather my children attended the worst, most liberal, public school in the land and had a heart for God, than were educated at my wonderful, safe, God-centered dining room table, and neglected Christ. God is just as capable to save a soul of a child in public school as He can save a home-schooled child’s soul.

Ok, Time-Out: I love home-schooling. I love being a part of my children’s education. I love watching them learn. I love answering their questions about God, life, and why the sky is blue. I love seeing them develop and grow. I love the flexibility we have as we learn. I love being able to talk about our wonderful Creator, our precious Savior and great God as we walk through our subjects in school or pound a loaf of bread. I love guiding my children into acts of kindness and hospitality. It is truly a great gift and privilege that I have to be able to home-school.

But I do choose a church because there are a lot of home-school families in it. I choose a church because it is founded on the truth of God’s Word. I fellowship with others because they are believers, not because they home-school. I want my children to be around a variety of believers…not just home-schoolers. As believers, we all need each others differences. We will not grow, and think well if we only surround ourselves with people who are just like us. My world is not about home-schooling. It is about Christ.

The church is a biblical institution….home-schooling is not. The church is whom we are called to fellowship with. Some of the church will home-school their children like me, and others will not. We are called to live a life of self-sacrifice. That means even building relationships with people who are very different from us. It is the easy thing to limit our children’s exposure and control their input and friendships. And I will be the first to say, that I am the guardian of what and who comes in to the lives of my children. That is wise parenting. However, I choose to walk with my children and help them think through how to get along with children who are unsaved or raised differently than themselves. It is a good teaching tool. I do not send them to public school to let them deal with it on their own. The day they enter the world will come soon enough, but until then, I have the privilege of walking with them as they are exposed and learn about different thoughts and life philosophies.

For instance, our walk with my new home-school friend a few weeks ago, was an incredibly interesting conversation with my older girls who were present to hear it. We could talk about how too many home-schoolers do not value the church, want to submit to its leadership, are critical of any believer who has different values than their own, or control fellowship to only those who are the same. My children and I were able to have a meaningful and vibrant conversation as a result of talking with someone who home-schooled like us, but for very different reasons than us. We have had so many conversations about thing our unsaved neighbor children have said or done, friends in youth group, or even comments from family members that are on a different page.

My goal, is not to point my children to MY standards or beliefs, but always point them to Scripture for their source of truth. I say over and over….”what does Scripture say about this?” Sometimes, I Scripture has no straightforward answer, and I must leave the choice open. and say, it is a matter of personal conviction.

Like how we choose too or not too celebrate Halloween. I let them know that when they grow up, they will have to pray about it and decide for themselves how and what to do about such things that are not doctrinal issues. But preference and areas of personal conviction; someday, that may even include whether or not they will home-school their children.

3 Ways I used Chat GPT this Week for Homeschool

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I recently began using Chat GPT to help in my homeschooling journey with my children. I am still discovering ways technology can be useful to me as a Charlotte Mason Home Educator, but as the new year begins, the tool of Chat GPT has already proven itself a wonderful tool.

One of the benefits of home-education is the ability to tailor methods and materials to each students’  ability and need. I have two students with learning challenges. One of my Daughters is on the Spectrum and has several learning struggles, including what we currently know as auditory and visual processing disorders. My other daughter is dyslexic.

Never has education ever had the ability to be so adaptive. I can create a spelling lesson for my autistic child and ask Chat GPT to make it for a child with auditory and visual processing disorders, as well as dyslexia with a focus on memory retention. Chat GPT can do it…and not just one…many different ones!

  1. So one of the things I did this week was I create my girls’ spelling lessons on Chat GPT. I asked Chat GPT to create Spelling Games, Lessons, Evaluations using the Orton-Gillingham Method, taking into account my daughter’s specific learning needs. I use the standard list from Spelling Plus by Susan C. Anthony. That is the book we have been going through, so I am just keeping on course with it. Originally, I had to come up with all the spelling lessons and aids. Now, I as use those word lists, I can ask Chat GPT to create games for the girls to play together to learn their spelling words! It is such a time-saver.
  2. Generate booklists and ideas to inspire reading. I really emphasize reading in our home. We have a large home-library and go to the library weekly to exchange books. I can ask Chat GPT to find books similar to the ones my children already love. I can ask it to level up or level down the list. I even asked it to give me a list of 200 living books for a dyslexic child in sixth grade. Or I have asked it to recommend heavily illustrated chapter books to inspire my budding readers.
  3. Chat GPT has also served to educate me as an educator. I have asked it to give me the best methods to help a dyslexic child learn to love reading. I have asked it how to help an autistic child, with auditory processing, learn to narrate what has been read to her. I just ask what I want to know and get basic info in a simple summary from Chat GPT.

I am looking forward to incorporating this marvelous tool in our home-schooling process. Yes, technology changes things, and I am sure it will have its detriments in the future of some educational journeys. I am praying how to use it wisely, and look forward to how it can benefit me and my children as we learn together.

 

Book Reflections from The Modern Miss Mason

I read a LOT of books. I usually have several going at a time. Since we are getting back into the rhythm of our lessons and books next week, I have been letting my soul be inspired by reading Leah Boden’s book, The Modern Miss Mason.

Leah Boden is an inspiring author, and most certainly a kindred spirit to me. I found myself underlining, line after line in her book.

Charlotte Mason can be a daunting educational method for a lot of home-schooling mothers. I think a lot of home-teachers would agree with Charlotte Mason on many accounts, but the six volume set is a plateful of educational methods and philosophies.

I do believe a mother, whether she home-schools or not, should be educating herself on how to best inspire her children to learn, cultivate good habits, and create a home-environment that cultivates godliness and good discipline. Charlotte Mason’s books are extremally pertinent for any parent in my opinion. But it is understandable that time is a huge deterrent for many a mother with good intentions. The other deterrent from reading Miss Mason’s books is simply that they are written in small print with an older style of writing than we use today. Some of the terms or methods are simply not applicable for our time. The last reason I have found is that women often have difficulty understanding the language of the books written by Charlotte Mason. It can be overwhelming and is not light reading at all.

What Leah Boden has done, is a great service to all who are interested in living education. I love that Leah Boden, takes all of Miss Mason’s educational philosophies and methods, and breaks them down simply. Leah shows the reader what the Charlotte Mason Method looks like in a typical home-schooling household.

One of my take-away quotes from Leah Boden’s book is in her chapter on Living Books, p. 92 when Leah writes that: “Charlotte often stressed that these texts have one dedicated writer, as opposed to a group of editors assembling facts alongside appealing photography.” I love that statement because it summarizes the flaw of textbooks with inferring that textbooks are dead books. Textbooks do not have inspired, passionate authors. Textbooks have limits, borders, and fit into the box of what a child ought to know, instead of laying out a feast of beautiful worded stories of information for a child to taste everything the author lays out.

That is just one example of the many that Leah discusses in her book about the Charlotte Mason Method. In one book, a mother can get the general idea of what Charlotte Mason is about.

The book also is a wonderful source of inspiration for the steadfast believers in the Charlotte Mason Method. Now, I don’t believe it is a book that takes the place of the six volume set, but it certainly is a great start for a general overview, or a quick pep talk as to why someone like me is doing what she is doing.

 

 

 

 

The Joy of the Daily Walk

I set my foot down firmly onto the paved trail. Eight smaller feet rushed on ahead of me in my steady pace. This was a new trail, and therefore a new adventure laid ahead.

It was a balmy December afternoon, just after a couple days of rain, and the clouds still had not figured out how to clear the sky above us.

The four little children I had with me were my own. Each had on a set of rubber boots, hoping to splash in puddles and in the creek beside the trail as we went along the trail.

As we walked there was much splashing, much giggling. The children rushed about the trail, sometimes walking, sometimes running up to the bend in the path and waiting for me and my oldest daughter to catch up.

My son found a vine, hanging from a tree and made a swing of it, which was amazing fun for some time. The sediment of the creek was like soft beech sand, and the children loved to feel their rubber boots get sucked into the sand as they sloshed along in the creek. We came to a brick wall, and instead of walking beside it, it provided opportunity for going up, balancing across, and coming down again…much more fun than the ordinary walking trail.

We call our daily outings, “adventures.” Every time we get out we discover new places, new sights in nature, and even meet some people.

When my children were very small, their endurance on such walks was limited, but now, that my youngest is past five, we find the average three mile walk or hike is very easy to accomplish.

I have chosen to incorporate daily walking into our lives for an insurmountable number of reasons. The most important reason is relationship.

Relationship building is a paramount theme in my life. It is so deeply biblical and is key in growing in love for God and for others. My relationships with God and with others is the only thing that carries on from this world to eternity, and it is vital that I focus efforts and discipline myself in ways that will help me improve all those relationships, as well as help others, such as my children, deepen their relationship with God, my husband and I, and each other.

So, one might ask how a walk cultivates relationship with God. There are many ways that our hearts can be drawn closer to God. Reading Scripture, praying, and spending time with fellow believers are important and very biblical ways to develop a closeness with God. Nature is one of the best sources of deepening our amazement and worship of our Creator.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

Nature keeps us humble as we are reminded how small and how out-of-control we are in life. 

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.” Ps. 104:24-25
Nature puts our hearts in worship as we stand in awe of what God made.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:10
Nature teaches us about our God.
I also find walks are an excellent way to spend time with people. I am able to have conversations with my children as we go along the trail. My younger ones often leap and skip about, but my older girls like to hang onto mom and talk about stuff.
Walking improves attitudes, aids in brain activity and development, and helps build the natural habit of connecting with others that is so easily neglected in the materialistic, artificial relationships one might find themselves connected with.
I began daily walks for the enrichment of my soul and the building of relationships, but have found that more times than I can count, my daily walks have brought my heart to worship my great Creator, loving Father, and sustainer of my heart and soul.
Psalm 146: Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

What is in my Freezer?

My freezer is a life-saver for food storage. I have the freezer attached to my kitchen fridge and a large outdoor freezer for bulk items.

In my large freezer, I keep things that I do not use on a daily basis.

Today, I have:

4 turkeys: I can get turkeys for less than a dollar a pound during the holidays. They have so much meat and can be thawed to grill in the summer or cooked for soups and casseroles throughout the year. Sometimes, I will pull one out July 25, for a Christmas in July dinner.

10# Brown Jasmine Rice: I buy brown rice in bulk from Azure Standard (not a sponsor). Brown rice is a wonderful whole grain and a great source of fiber. We usually eat rice at least two times a week. It is great, healthy side and works well with a lot of different dishes. I store the rice is quart or gallon Ziplock bags. Rice does not need to be frozen, but I buy it in 30-50# bags and like to know it is in a place where bugs cannot get into it or rodents will not bite through bags.

20# Gluten Free Oats: We do not eat gluten free, but we have people in our home every week who cannot eat it, so to keep things simple, I just buy 30-50# in bulk from Azure Standard. It keeps things simple if when I bake items, such as apple crisp, oat bars, or oatmeal cookies. I freeze oats to keep them from going rancid and to keep out unwanted critters.

10 gallons of bags full of frozen chicken stock. I make my own chicken stock. I like to can it, so it is easy to use, so on occasion I will gather up all my stock into one big pot and can it. But I also find it easy to freeze stock in flat in quart or gallon freezer bags and just melt it to use.

My indoor freezer is where I keep items I use frequently. Like some people, there are items that I buy on occasion like frozen juice pop-cycles for the children in the summer, or that my husband will buy, such as ice cream or toaster strudels.

On a regular basis, the staples I keep in my freezer part of the refrigerator are:

Frozen bananas: I skin and put browning bananas in a freezer bag. I use them later for banana bread or smoothies.

Frozen Berries: I keep bulk bags of strawberries and blueberries. They are usually used for smoothies, but occasionally, I will have a bowl of frozen fruit as a healthy sweet or mix them in plain yogurt with a little stevia for a quick frozen yogurt,

Frozen Vegetables: I buy most of our produce fresh, but I do keep frozen peas and frozen corn regularly. Fresh corn on the cob is hard work  and not always in season. And my children love to eat frozen peas as a vegetable at dinner. That is right! I don’t even cook them. I put them frozen from a bag into a bowl and the children really like them that way. I do buy frozen broccoli and carrots on occasion, but fresh is usually so close in price it is not a money saver. Peas and corn are usually a dollar or less per bag and easy to serve when my fresh produce is running low.

Frozen Ground Beef: I buy organic, grass-fed ground beef in three packs on sale. I choose organic, mainly because I know it doesn’t have added hormones. Since there are four females in our home, I consider hormone health a priority. I settled on organic beef for that reason.

Frozen Ground Turkey: Poultry does not have added hormones whether it is organic or not, so I do not seek out the organic poultry. Ground turkey can be bought in a 1lb. roll at Aldi for a little less than 3$ a pound. It is lean, cheap, and an easy meat to use. I like it for tacos and chili.

Frozen Fish: If our budget allows, I will buy frozen wild caught salmon. Right now, I have frozen cod in the freezer, but in general I like to keep salmon due to its high omega. Sockeye salmon is my first choice because of its supreme health benefits, but I will often settle for less expensive options, rather than have no fish at all.

Frozen Chicken: I buy whole chickens, rarely pre-cut chicken parts. Whole chickens can be stewed, grilled, or roasted easily. A whole chicken can work for a couple meals for our family. I use the bones to make stock once the meat has been eaten.

Frozen Meals: The meals I have in our freezer are usually home-made, but I do buy fish sticks or chicken nuggets on occasion. I like try to get the healthiest options I can find, but they are not a staple, so I don’t feel bad having a quick meal for those days when I need an emergency plan. My children are big enough to heat the oven and warm up breaded fish or chicken. Usually, when I make a casserole or chili or something. I will double the recipe and freeze half. Or serve it one time, (like chili) and put the rest in the freezer for another day. Those meals are nice to pull out to give to someone in need, or use ourselves when I don’t have ingredients or a good meal plan.

Bacon: Bacon is a great meat to have on hand. I usually buy it in bulk. I can serve it up with pancakes, or use it in cooking. It makes the ordinary seem special just by its presence. I try to get brands that have little to no sugar and as few ingredients as possible too. I do not worry about nitrites and nitrates. As long as the bacon isn’t blackened, those are not necessarily carcinogen.

Nuts: I keep a lot of nuts on hand for snacking mostly, but I do use them for baking and salads as well. I usually have walnuts, slivered almonds, and pecans. I pour bulk bags of nuts into jars and freeze the nuts to keep the nut oils fresh until I need to refill my pantry nut jars.

Yeast and Xanthium Gum: I keep these two items in the freezer to preserve their freshness. It is simply where they must be stored. I do not use xanthium gum much, but for gluten-free recipes it comes in handy on occasion.

That wraps it up! My freezer is certainly a very important part of our kitchen. It saves us money as well as allows me to have items on hand for a quick meal.

 

 

 

Our Two Parenting Principles

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.

And the second is like itYou shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40

 

Before my husband and I had our first child, we narrowed our child-training to 2 basic goals: To strive to raise children who 1. Love God and 2. Love Others.

Both of those goals have been the guidelines for all our our child-training choices.

We home-school, because that gives us the greatest opportunity to pour Christ into our children…especially on a very small budget.

We memorize Scripture as a family and for school, we teach our children hymns, we point them to God’s grace when we need to discipline them.

I buy books that will help them fall in love with Jesus more and more. Books by C.S. Lewis are particularly amazing in that way.

We encourage our children to have older friends to help mentor them and encourage them in their faith.

We talk about God, we read Scripture.

My oldest child just started youth group. And we have told her, that we are allowing her to attend because we believe it will help her grow in her love for God by hearing more about Him and developing relationships with other people who love Him. But we also told her that if we find it is becoming just a social event and that we are not seeing good fruit coming from her time at youth group. We will pull her out, at least for a season. Even youth-group, which many parents don’t give much thought about, must serve the purpose of helping our children learn love God and others.

I do not like the word “indoctrinate” because that connotates the idea of forceful education. I want my children to grab onto the amazement of God on their own. I only provide a feast of opportunity for them to learn about Him and be amazed.

 

Teaching my children to love others is a bit more practical and incorporates a lot of habit training.

When my children were very little, I worked with them to be quiet and still in church. I know a lot of parents would not bother, but I would tell them things like: “Do not talk to mommy. Mommy is trying to listen and that is unkind.” or “Do not be so loud. You will bother the people around you.”

I think a lot of folks would say that they are just little and such strictness is not necessary. But I do not expect people to accommodate my children. I expected my children to accommodate other people. 

If we go for a play-date with friends, I insists my children put away what they have gotten out. I might tell them on the way over. “After you play, I want you to pick up. You would not like it if someone came to our house and left their mess for you to pick up. So don’t leave your mess for others.” That is something my children understand well, because they have had to pick up often after their friends leave.

I expect good behavior when we visit other people. If my children are naughty. I do not give excuses for them. I never tell others, “He is just tired.” or “This is the result of too much sugar.” or even, “I think she isn’t feeling well.” I believe that giving excuses for my children’s bad behavior is not only a lack of respect to those I am with, but terribly wrong teaching for my child who will learn that it is “ok” not be unkind or grumpy if I don’t feel good.

I hold high expectations of my children because I am not raising children. I am raising adults. If a behavior such as crawling over the arm of a sofa, or picking one’s nose, or not answering when being spoken too, is NOT acceptable behavior for a thirty-year-old, it is not acceptable behavior for at three-year-old.

Teaching children to love others is hard work, and takes forethought. I find I do a lot of pre-event or pre-visit talks, like: “Be sure to say ‘thank you.’ Mrs. Boo has spent a lot of time getting ready for our visit today. I know you might not like everything she is having for dinner, but do not say a word about it. Be grateful for her hard work and eat a bite of everything she serves.” or “We have never been to the Doo’s House before. Please notice or ask if you should take off your shoes indoors.”

In any case, there is scenario after scenario we could walk through together, but everyone has different situations and I cannot predict what other people might need to prepare their children for. I do know it really helps make visits easier for me, for our host, and for my children if we talk about things before we go.

So, opening my children’s eyes to love them with a heart of compassion and understanding is an ongoing journey. In fact, it is something I still mess-up at doing myself.

In any case, teaching children to love God and Others will not happen on its own. It takes fore-thought, purpose, and planning to cultivate the children I pray will  someday be God-loving, kind adults.

 

Welcoming My Children’s Play

Yesterday, my girls pulled out Legos and were spread out on the dining room table all afternoon. I heard them making up stories, integrating with each other’s surprising plot lines with ease, and letting their imaginations run wild. I heard happy chatter as they came up with ideas for their Legoland and cultivated a comradeship, teamwork skills and communication skills with each other.

As my children played, they were learning and practicing how to communicate, created ideas, roll with changes, create solutions to problems, keep peace with each other, compromise, build long-term attention, and work with their hands to build and create what their minds imagined.

We had spent the morning doing our school lessons, but could not teach any of that in a classroom setting. And if I had organized their play, I would have been in the way of their mental development. What my girls practiced and learned all afternoon was invaluable to their life…arguably more important that whether that list of spelling words we will have to re-visit next week.

Yes, The dining room was a mess all day, and still is today as they want to continue developing their world. But I embrace nearly any reasonable mess as for my children’s play.

My children have built doll-houses with cardboard boxes that can be an unsightly mess in any room as they pull out their dolls and accessories to use in cardboard boxes.

The other day I came in to my son’s room to see books nearly covering the floor as he was using them for paths for his cars.

Blankets and sheets drape from wall to wall at times as my children make tents and houses for their play.

Our sofa cushions are frequently pulled off to use for walls for these imaginative houses.

We embrace play-doh, finger paint, kinetic sand, and all sorts of messy substances. We have found a lot of these messier toys at Goodwill…unopened…I know some mother did not want to deal with the mess and had moved the gift on.

My children delight themselves outside in the dirt, mud, and leaves. I love seeing them good and dirty, knowing that they have played well as children should.

There is no mess that cannot be cleaned up (Well almost no mess…we have had some haunt us for years…like glitter) But no matter the pick-up, the education my children get out of extravagant, messy play is so invaluable, I count our clean-up time an investment.

Now at this point, readers will probably feel my children run wild. But we do have boundaries to play that make it reasonable.

One of those guidelines is that before another activity happens, whatever has been going on get picked up. For instance, if my children are playing with sofa cushions and blankets in the living room and the neighbor’s drop over to play. There is no going out to play until the living room has been cleaned up. How many times we have had neighbors cheerfully chip in the clean-up so the children can play together.

Another guideline is that if you don’t want to pick it up, don’t get it out. My children need to pick up whatever they get out, but they also need to think about how long they have to play and if the word to prepare for play is worth the work to clean-up.

I do not help clean-up, but I do manage the process when needed. In our home, those who mess up are the ones who clean up. I feel this is an important life-skill. So no matter how tempted I am to quickly pick up something and put it away, I will walk by and call the child who got it out to put it away. When my children were really little I did help them, but I did not do it myself, they had to do their share. My child with autism would be unable to clean up a big mess, so I would teach her to pick up things by color. Find all the red things and put them away. Then find all the yellow things. She is now my fastest cleaner. It doesn’t faze her a bit, but she needed coaching to get there.

Healthy Ramen Soup

I was introduced to Ramen noodles in college and although, I no longer crave them, my children occasionally enjoy a bowl on occasion. Most Ramen noodles are not know to be healthy. They contain wheat in the noodles, which is a common sensitivity and allergen. Packs of Ramen, also are high in sodium, non-food ingredients, and even can have MSG, which is safest to avoid.

I recently began purchasing Lotus Foods Organic Rice Ramen Noodles. I use the Forbidden, Millet and Rice, and Jade Pearl noodles. I cook them in my own chicken stock and add a variety of proteins or veggies.

Here is a basic recipe that I might throw together for lunch:

Ingredients

soup:

1 Ramen Noodle Cake

1 &1/2 cup finely chopped veggies (carrots, celery, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower…really whatever you have in the fridge-though I personally would not use beets or potatoes). I like color, so choose veggies of different colors if I can.

1 T. chopped red onion or scallion

2 cups chicken broth/stock (home-made or store bought)

1 c. protein: chopped cooked chicken, pork, or fish are best with chicken broth (if using beef, I like to use beef broth instead of chicken stock)

seasoning:

1/2 cup sesame seed oil

1/4 cup soy sauce (I like to use gluten free kinds)

2 t. garlic powder

1 T. ground ginger

Instructions:

  1. Cook broth with noodles and vegetables and meat until noodles are tender (about 5 minutes boiling)
  2. Mix sauce ingredients together and mix into soup once cooked
  3. Serve hot-can sprinkle with sesame seeds or fresh chopped cilantro

The Journey of Cultivating Good Readers

boy in gray jacket reading book
Photo by Maël BALLAND on Pexels.com

My source of truth is the Scripture. The Bible, is a book. If I am not a good reader, if I don’t enjoying the process of reading, or if my comprehension skills or poor, reading the Bible could be a difficult or confusing task.

I have come across many a person who struggles with loving reading the Bible, because he or she does struggles through the process of reading.

Learning to love reading comes naturally to a lot of children, but there are some children and I have two in my home, who have wrestled developing a love for reading. One of my daughters was just diagnosed with dyslexia and the other has autism. So, learning has come at a struggle for both of them. Some children just never develop a love for reading because of the home culture or school culture they were given as children.

If reading is not valued at home, one cannot expect children to learn to love it. If reading is only relegated to the formal learning environment it can often be only seen as schoolwork, and not a lifestyle.

I was one of those mothers who read to my children before they were born. I read to them before they knew what a book was. I read to them at breakfast, lunch, and bedtime. I am not saying that these reading times were without fail, but reading to my children has been a habit that has sometimes been paused due to various life circumstance such as new baby or moving, but picked back up with ease when time availed me again. Before we had a school budget, I had no money for our own books. I made regular trips to the library with my children. We made good use of library story times and librarians when my children were really young.

Although we still make regular trips to the library, I have taken time in the past five to six years to add to our home library.

I also chose a method of education, Charlotte Mason, that relies heavily on good literature, rather than textbooks for education. We have read so many good books for school, that even my love of books has grown through teaching my children with the backbone of good literature.

There are so many mothers who are book enthusiasts and have written books on books. There are you-tube channels and blogs that value reading at home and have tips and methods of developing good readers. So, my thoughts on the subject are nothing new, but I am going to mention what I have done to building a love for reading in our home. I will note, that this is certainly an ongoing process in our home, since we have a couple readers that struggle and although they readily agree to be read too, they will not generally chose to sit and read a book.

Here are some basic thoughts I had about what we did.

Our Example. My husband is dyslexic, and never received help in that area, so he really wrestles with reading a book, but throughout the past eight years, he has gone back to college for two degrees. And that has provided our children plenty of opportunity to see him with a book. I have books I am reading all over the house and am aways reading.

Reading Aloud. As mentioned earlier, both my husband and I have read to our children, even before birth. We still read to them, but this is usually done by me since I am our children’s primary teacher and am with them all day. I read to them constantly for school. Since my children are of different ages and interests, I started taking turns with each child and reading for thirty-forty minutes each day after lunch. That way, the child gets snuggling time alone with mommy, as well as a book I have carefully chosen for him or her.

Availability of books. We have not always had the income for adding books to our library, but we did spend time at the library at least once a week and always brought piles of books home. As I build our home library, I am careful to keep a lot of variety as well as titles and series that are created by the best illustrators and authors. Generally we find old books and classics on our shelves, but I do have some newer books as I discover them as well. I consider good books a great investment for my children and for future generations.

Learning about books. I read books about reading and books about books. My mother-in-law gifted me Gladys Hunt’s book: Honey for a Child’s Heart shortly after our first child was born. Since then I have added Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson, Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson, Steeped in Stories by Mitali Perkins, and Honey for a Teens Heart also by Gladys Hunt. I read blogs about books and try to find some of the best versions of books so my children will experience books being beautiful and rich in color and text.

Enthusiasm is contagious. Both my husband and I get excited about books. When my children read a book, we let them know our interests to hear about the story they are reading. I talk with other mothers about books and my children see those conversations are full of interest and excitement. I am greatly encouraged when my children join in those conversations and pull out some of their favorite books…even school books…and talk about them with enthusiasm too. When we get books in the mail, I get excited and all the children gather around to see what new adventures await.

Reading is a way of life. Reading is woven into our lives. There is not a day that passes that my children have not read or been read too. It is not associated only with school, but with life. We just read. Because books are laying around in our house, it is easy for me to grab something close and read it to the children while they eat lunch. Sometimes, I have a book we are working through, like our current lunch reading Never Give In, the Story of Winston Churchill. While we are on vacation from school, I just pick up whatever we have around. Often a picture book from the library or a light children’s story. My children listen to audio books while playing a game on a tablet or computer. (Listening to audio-books is a great way to instill a love for books, for those who struggle with reading).

Associate reading wonderful things. We snuggle and read. We read while we eat. We read by the fire. We read snuggled in bed. We read outdoors on a sunny day. We read at the park. We read while having tea and cookies. Now we don’t just read while enjoying the comforts of life, but I do make appoint to create a pleasant experience based around our reading times.