NaNoWriMo

For those of you who have no idea what the title means, here you are: National Novel Writing Month, which happens to start today, the 1st of November. As I have decided to participate this year, I am uncertain how many blog posts I will also be writing.

Count this as a warning that I might not post much this month. We’ll see what happens, eh?

Happy November and Blessings!
Sarah

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How Quickly We Fall Prey to the Spirit of Contention…

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Hi there,

My heart is heavy today. I have fallen prey to the spirit of contention. This article is a personal spiritual chastisement for allowing my self to get upset over something so trivial.

I have a dear sister in volunteer work that, unintentionally, has made it very inconvenient for myself and a couple dozen other volunteers to complete our latest project. My reaction initially grew into outrage and contention. I was so angry at her for making it so difficult for us to do our job, and for slowing down the service we were trying to do. Grrrr!

And then a small voice whispered that perhaps she was doing the best she knew how. Which, of course, is the truth. And then I started thinking of ways that I could help her to eliminate the inconvenience for the other volunteers. And though I’m still working past the emotional flooding that comes from all that anger, I’m working in the right direction now. This scripture runs through my head:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. 3 Ne. 11:29

And I realize that if the father of contention can stir me up, it means I have the power to overcome it and reach for the Prince of Peace. I am grateful for the power I have to turn away from our adversary, and I am grateful for the whisperings of the Spirit that remind me of that power.

Repent means to turn towards Christ, which also means turning away from sin. I can turn towards Christ and humbly ask for his help to reject contention and seek after peace. I know that this is a small matter, but we know that through “small and simple means” can hearts be changed and nations be saved.

One of the vices that comes with building a public following is that I spend more time on social media than I had previously. I am trying reach out to and get to know people of all walks. Sadly, digging through the media sites, I run across terrible happenings, wildly biased reportings of current events, and attacks on anybody and everybody who doesn’t agree. I am brought down in sorrow reading all the contention in these public forums.

My hope and prayer is that each of us, individually, can be strengthened to forgive, repent, turn from contention, and seek diligently after peace. As we do so, I know that our nation and our world can be healed.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

Facing New-to-Homeschooling Fears With a Plan

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Hi there,

Today I’ve decided to go back in time to when I was first considering homeschooling. I’ll be honest, it was a scary idea.

First of all, I did not think I had the patience to put up with all of my kids, all day, every day. And I wasn’t surprised the first couple years when I lost my temper, a lot. In fact, the first semester of First grade was the worst. I was feeling a lot of pressure to do school in a traditional way. Ironically I had researched different methods and decided I didn’t want to do traditional, but I was still teaching the way I knew.

But I think I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start with the basics:

  1. Why are you considering homeschooling?
    • We all have different reasons for this, for some it’s faith-based, for some it’s academics, for some it’s politics, for many it’s the realization that public school and your kid just don’t mix well.
    • My reasons are like a recipe of the above, a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of “my kid is too crazy for anyone else!” Heheh!
    • One thing a lot of old-school homeschoolers recommend is to write a mission statement for your homeschool. I don’t have one formally spelled out, but it’s given me the foundation I need. Here are a couple great articles on reasons and mission statements:
  2. What are your concerns about homeschooling?
  3. If you ARE still interested in homeschooling, then you need to overcome your fears.
    • We all inherently have a fear of the unknown, it is a survival instinct that we are pre-programed with. The trick is conquering it.
    • So my method of conquering fear is two-fold;
      1. Learn everything I can
      2. Make a plan
    • So first, I’ve referred you to Pinterest, and I will add some links throughout, and at the bottom of this article to help you out with research. Such as:
    • Second is what this post is mostly about, making a plan. So on to…
  4. Figure out which method suits you best.
    • If you are really new to this, you’ll be asking yourself, “What in the world is a homeschool method?”
    • A homeschool method is the style and set of guiding principles you will use to help you teach and select curriculum. Understanding how you want to teach (and how you actually teach) are important to overcome fears and get a handle on what can be an overwhelming selection of resources.
    • Basically, you will learn about at least 5 different methods:
      1. Traditional – often called school at home
      2. Classical – modern version of teaching style from ancient Rome & Greece
      3. Charlotte Mason – focuses on teaching out of real books and nature study
      4. Unit Studies – uses 5 or 6 week units for teaching subjects
      5. Unschooling – learning from living life
    • Here’s one of many articles detailing these, and other methods: The Ultimate Guide to Homeschool Methods – Teaching Methods 101
    • Sometimes, the best way to research different methods is to focus on them one at a time. This way you hear from individual homeschoolers the reasons why they like what they use.
  5. Once you start to get an idea of the method you want to try, then you can start figuring out what kind of learning styles will work best with your kid(s). You want to make sure you have a good idea of how your child learns best.
    • Fortunately there are a number of resources for assessing your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Feel free to search for Learning Style Assessments, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t need to pay for one.
    • I couldn’t find the one I used years ago, but here is a fun way to get some ideas: The Learning Style Quiz
    • Keep in mind that assessments are meant as guidelines. Don’t prohibit your kids from learning any way they can. I was surprised to find out that my little fireball of a girl, the one who NEVER stops moving, actually enjoys worksheets. Granted, she does them while sitting on top of the school table, but, hey, she’s learning.
  6. So you’ve figured out your reasons, your method, and your child(ren)’s learning style, now can we get to curriculum?
    • Yes,  now you are armed and prepared to venture into the curriculum market.
    • My first step to choosing curriculum was reading reviews of other moms and the choices they made for their kids, especially if they are using the same method (or variant thereof).
    • Actually, I can’t think of any of my curriculum that I wasn’t referred to by another homeschool mom, either online or in person (except Scripture Study).
    • Of course, you’re welcome to see what I’m using: My 2017-2018 Curriculum Plan
    • I also like this article, it’s short and simple, but it gets you thinking: Where to Buy Used Homeschool Books
  7. After you have your choices in your hot little hands, it’s time to plan out your year of lessons. Don’t rush yourself unless you have to, my first year it took me at least 4 weeks to put together my lesson plan. It took less than a week the next year.
    • Your first step is to go through the chapter titles and read through the first lesson. Do this the night you get your books (if you can) to get a feel for what you’ve signed up for. If you realize you don’t like it, don’t feel guilty about returning it and trying something else.
    • Some curriculum is easy to plan, 1 lesson per day. Others are not as easy, especially if your kid is a third of the way through the year already. If you are in that situation, where your kid has part of a year’s work done, but is clearly not ready for the next year, then you will need to go through the curriculum more carefully during your planning period.
    • I went through and combined or skipped several lessons that my son was past. From some lessons, I would only use one point in order to serve as a review. In that way, he didn’t get bored dragging his feet through something he had already mastered.
    • Don’t forget that YOU are the teacher now, you control what you want your kids to learn, not a school district, state, or nation. Though there are homeschool laws you need to be mindful of, they don’t decide the day-to-day learning needs of your kid. That’s all you!
    • If you are spreadsheet person, I have an example of how I planned my first year for you here (there’s a lot of real life in here, because this is the version at the end of the year, I updated it every week with our progress): Lesson Plan_First Grade
  8. By now you should be ready to get started.
    • Be sure to hit the back-to-school sales at Walmart and stock up on pencils, paper, and crayons.
    • Here is one of many school supply lists: Back to Homeschool Shopping List
    • Start day one with some pictures and celebrating, get excited and your kids will be too.
    • You can also use a First Day of School worksheet like this one (feel free to shorten it, my kids never get through the whole thing): First Day of School Interview
    • Have fun! And don’t try to do too much too fast!
  9. Finally, forgive yourself and your kid(s) for bad days. You and they will have them.
    • You may even end up with a lot of them when you start. If that’s the case, you’re probably trying to do too much in a day.
    • Part of my trouble my first year, was that I tried to do every subject every day. I gave myself a LOT of work in preparation each day, and I couldn’t keep up. I was also putting a lot of pressure on my oldest to get his assignments done because we needed to get on to the next assignment. It did NOT work well for us.
    • Fortunately I had a some more experienced friends in church that helped me see I was doing too much. It really is ok to do one lesson per subject per week. You don’t have to get through a book in a year. If you still want to finish one book per year, you can skip lessons or combine them so you have a block of each subject each week.
    • I have some core subjects that my kids have to do independently, and then I teach 1 or 2 lessons per school day. That way we still get done what we need to, and I don’t go insane. Heheh!
    • Here are a couple of articles on overcoming bad days:

However you do it, make sure it works for your family. Have fun and enjoy the journey!

As I was driving around last week, I was reflecting on what it would be like if my kids went to public school. What I could do with all that time! And then I realized that I would probably mope and feel lonely without them. My kids give me so much love and encouragement throughout the day, even when they don’t mean to, that I realized I would miss them. I know now that even if I could afford pay a tutor to teach them all the things that I think they would need, I would miss them too much to get anything done. I am grateful to be homeschooling and I hope you can be too!

I hope this has given you some ideas that help. Here are some other resources you may enjoy:

Blessings!
Sarah

Divided We Fall

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Hi there!

I’m going to try to keep this as neutral politically as I can, since, really, this article is more about division within self. But I would be remiss if I didn’t use as an example the political division happening within our country (United States) right now.

So enough disclaimer let’s jump right in. Our country is falling apart around our eyes. Every “side” knows it, though the reasons quoted are different. But I think it’s safe to say to you that it’s a conspiracy from all sides. The over-arching, supreme leader of this conspiracy is the Adversary himself. He is exploiting our weaknesses and egging us on in anger and hatred of those who believe differently than us. We have all fallen prey, at one moment or another, to thinking cruel things about those on the “other side” of the conflict; I know I have.

And we know where this is leading, for Christ taught us in Matthew 12:25: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand”

The thing is, this is not just happening on the global and national and local scales, but this is also happening in our own hearts. He is stirring us up to anger against our parents, siblings, spouses, and even ourselves.

Be honest now, how much do you beat yourself up?

I know I could beat myself up over how often I beat myself up! Heheh. But this is not Christ’s way. Did he lecture and destroy the confidence of the woman accused of adultery? No, of course not. He knew she was repentant, she didn’t need a lecture. He simply told her: “Neither do I condemn thee.” Then he followed with the best part, “Go, and sin no more.”

That’s all. As they say in Meet the Robinsons, “Keep Moving Forward.”

Christ wants us to Forgive as we have been Forgiven. That means ourselves, our spouses, our parents, our siblings, our Mayors, our Judges, our Police Officers, our Governors, and our President. Also we must forgive our church leaders, and all those who basically drive us nuts. But this isn’t an admonishment, this is to let you remind you that you are allowed to move forward.

You are allowed a second chance. You can restart, renew, refresh your growth and discipleship. You can be forgiven when you stumble, and you can learn to let go when someone else stumbles.

You are loved dearly by Our Father in Heaven, and, perhaps annoyingly, so are they. They are human, and so are you. Maybe they should know better, and maybe they’ve forgotten, and maybe they are just being swept up in the tide of discontent. Don’t follow.

Let the world go by, because you are blessed.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

What My Peers Want

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Hi there,

I was teaching my children a lesson on the difference between peer pressure and positive influence, and it got me thinking.

Do you remember the story of Rehoboam? He was the grandson of King David. He became King of Israel only to drive Israel away and lose 10 of the 12 tribes. Just in case it’s been awhile since you’ve studied 1 Kings chapters 11 & 12, I’ll give you a quick summary;

  1. King Solomon, started out good and wise, but was led astray by his later “wives” into worshiping false gods. As he did so, his ego grew bigger than his budget and he placed heavy taxes on the people.
  2. After Solomon’s death, his son, Rehoboam, became king. The people’s spokesman, Jeroboam, asked him to lighten his father’s tax burden.
  3. Rehoboam asked for advice on the matter from 2 different groups of advisors:
    1. The older wise men, or Elders, who told him that the people will serve him more faithfully if he listens to their request.
    2. His “college buddies” (younger peers), who told him to “show the people who’s the boss” with whips and heavier taxes.
  4. Rehoboam showed that he’s easily swayed by his peers, and ignored the sage advice of his Elders. He increased the taxes and added harsh penalties for non-payment. (Brilliant, right?)
  5. Not surprisingly, the Israelites thought this was a boneheaded move. They rebelled and created their own kingdom with Jeroboam as King.
  6. Rehoboam lost 5/6ths of his kingdom, and the blessing of God for his inability to follow the wisest counsel.

So, my question is, in what way or ways am I listening to my peers instead of my Elders? Unfortunately, my parents have strayed from the gospel path, so their advice doesn’t really qualify as wise counsel. So first, who are my Elders? Then, what are they trying to teach me.

In my case, I can safely say my Elders are the older and experienced leaders of my church. I can look at their life critically and see if they have set an example of Christ. Are they living modestly? Are they managing the church’s tithes responsibly? Are they caring for the poor and needy? Are they living like Christ? Since they are doing all these things, I can safely heed their advice.

So, what are they trying to teach me? Well, from the front page of the church’s website, I can find these articles:

  1. Weaving Christ Into Our Souls
  2. The 3 P’s that Changed My Perspective on Talking to God
  3. How to Be a Strong Link in Your Family Chain
  4. Saved After My Daughter’s Suicide
  5. People Can’t Live Without Hope

What I don’t see is anything on protests becoming riots, gossip, or famous peoples’ wardrobes. There’s nothing on who is more fascist, how to decorate my living room, or what one world leader thinks about another.

I am trying to focus my daily thoughts and worries on how to draw closer to my Savior by following the advice of my church leaders. I am also trying to ignore the opinions of my peers. Truly, no-one needs to be offended by everything, and faith in God IS more important than fear of the world.

Here’s hoping you are finding peace in the chaos!

Blessings,
Sarah

 

Photo by Bruce Dixon on Unsplash

Who Am I Without Him

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I remember as a young adult there was a lot of talk about “finding oneself,” and I was encouraged to go out into the world and discover who I was. The trouble was that the more I searched for myself, the less I found, and the less I understood about myself.

I didn’t know that my true identity was a Child of God, a Princess in His Kingdom. I didn’t know who I was until I started to learn who Christ was. Once I turned to Him and studied Him, my identity became clear. My purpose, talents, strengths and weaknesses, all that I had been seeking diligently for, suddenly became evident; once I stopped seeking for myself, and started seeking Him.

I searched through the world and found nothing. I searched through Heaven and found everything. The selfish focus of the world we live in gives us tunnel-vision. It blinds us to who we truly are. It prohibits us from finding peace, joy, and purpose.

It saddens me to see friends and family who are blinded to His Love, blinded to the object of their search. My repeated prayer is that Our Father in Heaven help us open our eyes to His Son, that we may become a better people, a better nation, and a better species.

Blessings,
Sarah

 

Depicting Christ in Fiction

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Hi there!

So I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not I should create a depiction of Christ for my children’s book series. The characters are not human, so I’m not sure if I should create a non-human version of Him or not. I originally wanted to place artwork of Him on their walls, but was told it would be irreverent to use a non-human version, and it wouldn’t make sense to use a human since there are none in their world.

As I have been pondering this the past few weeks, my 7 year-old has discovered The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which Christ is depicted as a Lion named Aslan.

I wonder if C. S. Lewis’s success in this depiction is that he used a different name, in addition to the different form. In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he writes,

But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought into Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you might know me better there.

So he is the same, but changed for a different world. Perhaps it is a good way to teach about Christ to children.

Apparently Lewis did not originally intend to have Aslan appear in the books, but the lion came to him in a dream. What really made it work, I believe, was the deal of reverence Lewis used when writing about Him. He never took it lightly, and thus he created a powerful figure. His readers knew in their hearts who Aslan was to them, when they were transported into Narnia. I suppose that’s what I should strive towards.

I know that my writing is nowhere near C.S. Lewis, but I can learn from him and aspire to be an author like him. I guess it’s a good thing my first book is years from being published, it gives me time to grow.

Have you any thoughts on how Christ should be depicted in fiction? Any other non-human examples that I can learn from?

Thanks for reading, as always, and Blessings to you!
Sarah