Let This Be Written

A few years ago our family had the privilege of seeing an amazing exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls at our local science museum. How incredible to see those ancient words of God – words that He miraculously preserved in jars inside of caves for two thousand years! What a mighty act of God! Preserving words on paper for two thousand years would be impossible for man, but it was possible with God.

Seeing those scrolls reminded me of Psalm 102:18, which says, “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD.” I am indeed thankful for those men of long ago who obediently and diligently wrote those precious words down on scrolls so that my generation and my children could see them and praise God.

The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit also reminded me of Psalm 145:4. “One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” What a great verse this is for homeschool moms – and all parents and grandparents for that matter. If we could only teach one subject as homeschoolers this year, I think this should be it.

In her story book Bible The Mighty Acts of God, author Starr Meade explains that the purpose of telling stories of God’s mighty acts isn’t for entertainment value or good moral examples. The purpose is to make known the wonder of God’s great character.

Likewise, John Piper of Desiring God says we want the next generation to have not just heads full of right facts about the works of God, but also “hearts that burn with the fire of love for the God of those facts – hearts that will sell everything to follow Jesus into the hardest places of the world.”

That’s quite a vision for our students! And as this new school year begins, Psalm 102:18 and Psalm 145 are great encouragements to pass on to my children not just what I know about the one true God from reading the Bible, but also to pass on – heart to heart – what I personally love about God and how I have witnessed Him at work in my life. He has revealed specific attributes of His character – like His faithfulness, compassion, and unfailing love – in specific moments and seasons throughout my life. Knowing by heart those personal faith stories and marveling at God’s great character will fuel my children’s love for Him and better equip them to pass the faith on to their own children someday.

When I take time to recall how God has acted mightily in my own personal history, God is magnified and I am encouraged and comforted. But in order to recall these little faith stories and declare them to my children, I must first record them somehow. That involves watching for God’s grace in daily life, taking lots of pictures, making lists of specific things I am thankful for, writing down prayer requests, keeping a blog, and scrapbooking when I can. These practices take time and no, I don’t keep up with all of them regularly. But these practices are quite meaningful to me because together they build the history book of our lives.

Puritan Pastor John Flavel says, “There is not such a pleasant history for you to read in all the world as the history of your own lives, if you would sit down and record from the beginning hitherto what God has been to you, and done for you; what evidences and outbreakings of his mercy, faithfulness, and love there have been in all the conditions you have passed through.”

So what does praising God and declaring His greatness in the bits and pieces of my personal history look like? Some days it’s telling a story about my childhood as we eat lunch or reading aloud a passage from an old blog post or an old baby journal. Other days it’s looking at photos in a family scrapbook, reading an old letter from a grandparent, or clicking through a digital photo album of last week’s field trip.

In looking back at these records through the lens of God’s goodness, I see things I did not see before. I see ways He has cared for us, provided for us, comforted us, strengthened us, encouraged us, healed us and equipped us. I see how He has brought us through trials and sorrows. I remember joyous moments I would forget otherwise. And as I share all those insights with my children, I praise God.

Jonathan Parnell at Desiring God says the most essential detail to look for in our personal history is God’s mercy to us through Jesus.

“Every detail of God’s goodness to you has come through the blood of Jesus,” he says. “Look back on these providences and remember that you’ve earned none of them. They come by Jesus, or they don’t come at all. His cross is the most vivid demonstration of God’s love for us, and every little good we’ve seen has flowed from that glorious fountain. It did yesterday, and it will tomorrow.”

Parnell also suggests several other details to look for, such as God’s care for you, wisdom for you, grace for you and humility for you, as well as His goal in all your provisions and His goodness in comfortable stuff like socks. He explains each of these ideas thoroughly in an article online entitled “Seven Details to See in Your Past.”

This school year, I pray that teaching the next generation about God’s mighty acts and sharing stories of His goodness and mercy will be a higher priority each day. I pray that we keep pre-algebra and science lessons in the right perspective. I thank God for the fresh encouragement given by Asaph in Psalm 78, a passage which the ESV Bible titles “Tell the Coming Generation.” And I pray that we may arise and tell our children truths about God so that they set their hope in God, keep His commandments, and never ever forget the works of God.

 

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A Prayer for Your Children

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

-Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your Word. Your Word is truth; it sets me free and keeps me free. According to Your Word, I thank You for teaching my children to fear You, for surrounding my children with divine favor, and for sending to my children godly friends. I consider it done in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

This prayer by Joe McGee is based on Psalm 34:11, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 3:16; Psalm 5:12 and Proverbs 27:17. He encourages parents to pray it daily for their children.

Joe McGee Ministries in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has many resources for families right here.

May we all be diligent this summer in passing on a strong faith in Jesus to our children, teaching them about Him when we are at home and on the road, morning and evening!

5 Star Links for Friday

June is my favorite month, and not just because my birthday happens to be in June.

I love June because of the peonies that bloom.

And I love June because of the fresh fruit that gets more affordable, the daylight that seems endless, and the general glow that accompanies nearly everything about early summer.

All that said, the first Friday in June seems the perfect day for another 5-Star Friday!

This time around, these links are especially for moms — because I am one, because I love many dear friends who are moms, and because motherhood matters to God — and not just in the month of May!

Below are links to some great reading (and listening) that truly encouraged me in recent weeks, and I pray these encourage you as well.

1. When You Feel Like You Just Keep Blowing It by Ann Voskamp

2. Why Motherhood Should Be Graded on a Curve by The Gypsy Mama

3. The Danger of Moralistic Parenting by Elyse Fitzpatrick

4. The Sons of Thunder (Mother’s Day 2011) sermon at Church on the Move by guest speaker Joe McGee (5/8/11)

5. “Hidden in My Heart” CD from scripture-lullabies.com is so sweet and peaceful and fitting for all ages. I ordered three copies — one for myself and two to give to moms with newborns. You can preview the songs online.

May God richly bless all you mom-readers!

10 People Who Inspired Me in 2010

 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24 NIV

About a year ago, I shared in this post how friends of ours had spurred me on toward love and good deeds. As I reflect on 2010 and continue to thank God for their friendship and encouragement, I thought it’d be fun to share some other sources of encouragement and inspiration that might just inspire and encourage you, too.

1. My husband, Michael, always inspires me, and for so many reasons. In August I blogged about 15 reasons why I love Michael. I should also note that in the first three months of 2010 Michael lost 65 lbs., and he has kept them off! Yay! But of more significance than his weight loss are his spiritual gains in 2010. He has clearly grown closer to the Lord  — through prayer, Bible study, and Scripture memory — and that truly inspires me! What a blessing to have a strong spiritual leader in our household.

2. Our pastor, Steve Anderson, is a wonderful, encouraging pastor, as well as leader of the small group in which my husband and I participate. In November while he was serving as a short-term missionary in Nicaragua, I blogged here about how thankful I am for Pastor Steve and his lovely wife Sharon. They are truly wonderful people who bless us each week. When he returned from Nicaragua, Pastor Steve told us an amazing story about handing out baseballs and Beanie Babies to the children there. God performed a miracle that day! You can listen to him tell the story if you click here. It starts at 19 minutes into his sermon “Whose Stuff is All This Anyway?” By the way, you can find out more about short-term missions and adopt-a-pastor opportunities in Nicaragua by visiting Repairers of Broken Walls.

3. Andreas Custer is the Student Ministries Director at our church. He’s a great guy, and while our family doesn’t yet have any students in his ministry, his contagious passion for the Lord and inspiring manner spills over and touches our family regularly. After visiting Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields this fall, Pastor Andi preached this really dynamite sermon about fixing our eyes on Jesus in the same way soldiers fix their eyes on their battle flag. The key Scripture passage he used was Philippians 3:7-21, and he explains that those who have their eyes set on earthly things, in contrast, are enemies of the cross.

4. Karen Wistrom at Family from Afar is a working mom with four children, two biological and two adopted, and is a child sponsorship coordinator for Children’s HopeChest. Besides raising money for all sorts of orphan-care projects, she traveled to Ethiopia this fall — for the third year in a row — to minister to orphans at Kind Hearts, where our sweet Dawit is. Thanks to Karen, we were able to put together this little care package for Dawit in August, and then a couple of months later Karen sent us pictures of Dawit receiving it. Yay, Karen! 

5. Samantha at Little Goody 2 Shoes is an 11-year-old who is selling bottle cap necklaces to raise money to buy shoes for orphans in Ethiopia. We bought a few of them that say Kind Hearts, and they are so adorable! To date, Samantha sold 314 necklaces and raised enough money to buy 103 pairs of new, custom-made shoes for orphans at Kind Hearts and two other orphanages in Ethiopia. Way to go, Samantha!

6. My own daughter, Linnea, at the ripe old age of 7, decided to donate 11 inches of her hair to Locks of Love in February. She was so brave and so passionate about giving to a little girl in need. That was a lot of hair!  

7. Author Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience is a farmer’s wife, homeschool mother of six, and an amazingly gifted writer. She faithfully uses her gift for God’s glory. I am so eager to read her latest book, 1,000 Gifts, which will be released Jan. 25.

8. Writer Holley Gerth at Heart to Heart with Holley is another writer whose words transcend into the spiritually inspiring realm. She also faithfully uses this gift to point others toward God.

9. My beautiful and sunshiny friend Alice, who recently moved to our little town, totally inspires me to be a better mom and to more intentionally play with my kids, especially while they are still willing to play with me! Alice is outgoing, full of life, and truly a fantastic cook and baker. All those traits come in handy as a stay-at-home mom to three handsome and energetic boys, all under the age of 5! While the girls and I were over for a visit last week, Alice gave us all flashlights, turned off the lights, and asked us to hunt for stuffed animals that had been hidden around her kitchen and living room. This “jungle-safari” version of hide-and-seek was great fun! Thanks for being so wonderful, Alice!

10. And last, but certainly not least, is Jodi, another beautiful friend of mine who inspires me to be a better mom and not neglect my creative side.  Jodi is a tea-drinking homeschool mom of five children, ranging in age from 1 to 13. She also teaches art, jazz, and tap dance lessons. My daughter is in one of Jodi’s art classes and adores every moment of it. If I were to write a biography about Jodi, I’d entitle it Everybody Loves Jodi. She is creative, encouraging, sweeter than pie, and everybody loves her! Last I checked she wasn’t sporting a red cape, but she is truly a super woman, empowered by God. 

Now I’m shutting my laptop and heading off to play Little People with my 5-year-old, so it’s your turn to share.

Who has inspired you in 2010? Do tell!

21 Entertaining Things Said (or Done) in 2010

I just reviewed my Facebook status collection for 2010 and compiled this list of entertaining things said (or done) by my children in 2010. Hope it makes you chuckle, too!

1. Laurel, age 4, laments that it is just “too deep to play outside.” Never mind that the windchill is 4 degrees.

2. Laurel got up from her afternoon nap sniffling and said, “Mommy, my nose is all stuck up.”

3. Setting the table at dinner time, Laurel carefully covers each fork with a napkin. Then she announces, “Ssssh! The forks are sleeping.”

4. Laurel at the Arboretum: “Stop, Mommy, I think I have a piece of nature in my shoe.”

5. Here’s a new, summery way to mop the kitchen floor: Shut only the screen door while your 7-year-old waters the flowers on the patio. She’s never been a wild child, but give her a garden hose with a spray nozzle and WATCH OUT!

6. Linnea, age 7, was folding laundry and saw me set up the ironing board. Looking utterly shocked, she said: “Mommy, there are CLOTHES you have to iron?” I guess she thought we only had an ironing board to accommodate her fuse bead craft projects!

7. While we were babysitting 5-month-old John at our house yesterday evening, Laurel asked, “Do we have to give him back?”

8. Shortly after I put gel in my hair this morning, Laurel comes in and exclaims: “Mommy! You smell good. You smell like Benadryl!” Yep, that was so the fragrance I was going for today.

9. Laurel’s table manners must have drowned in the pool this afternoon. At supper after swimming lessons, she kept wiping the jelly on her fingers on her clothes, in her hair, and seemingly everywhere else but her napkin. Ick! “Don’t wipe it on your dress!” Michael yelled. Big sister Linnea chimes in, on Laurel’s behalf, “It’s actually a skirt, Daddy.”

10. I tried to be discreet when I tossed the decapitated potty-training baby doll into the trash can. But as the garbage man drove off this morning, Laurel came running inside, sobbing uncontrollably. “The broken baby doll is going to get all burned up at the dump!” Thank you, Toy Story 3. Sigh.

11. Laurel, while eating goldfish crackers for an afternoon snack, says: “Mommy! I need some water to drink so my fishes can go swimming!” So the chocolate shake and the iced tea I had already given her didn’t do the trick?

12. Michael just came home with half a dozen ears of fresh sweet corn, and now the girls are begging to help him “shuffle” it.

13. After quiet time yesterday afternoon I found Laurel in her bed, obviously just waking up, and I asked how her nap was. She replied: “I didn’t take a nap. I was too busy resting.”

14. Praying at lunchtime, Laurel says: “…And thank You, God, for creating the animals so that we can have animal crackers to eat…”

15. Laurel read her first sentence today: “See me eat.” She was so proud of herself she sprung off the couch and bolted into the next room to tell Linnea the exciting news.

16. How clever is Laurel? At the drug store this morning, she stops in the candy aisle and says very seriously, “Oh! We HAVE to get some raspberry chocolate candy for Sassy.” Sassy is her teddy bear.

17. Our breakfast conversation this morning — Laurel: “I just don’t like cannonballs.” Me: “Huh? What do you mean? Jawbreakers?” Laurel: “No, you know, cannonballs — people who eat other people. Why DO they do that?”

18. This morning as Michael was scrambling eggs and pulling the tortillas out of the refrigerator, Linnea asks, “Daddy, are you fixing a breakfast pinata?”

19. While I was helping Linnea fix her hair this morning, she sniffed and said, “Mommy, you smell good. Like jellybeans!” I guess that’s an improvement over Laurel’s thinking I smelled like Benadryl a few months ago…

20. Thinking about Advent at the dinner table this evening, Linnea says, “So, tomorrow is…” And Laurel quickly chimes in, “the last day of not getting any presents!”

21. In the middle of a Costco shopping trip this afternoon, Linnea wonders, “Mommy, what is ‘scratch?'” After I reply with a bewildered, “Huh?” she clarifies, “You know, scratch. You always say that you make pies and things from scratch. What is it?”

Pass It On!

God keeps bringing Psalm 145 to my attention lately — a timely reminder to pass on to my children all that I know about the one true God. 

First, as part of our homeschool curriculum this year, I purchased a fabulous new family Bible story book by Starr Meade called The Mighty Acts of God. The author’s note for parents explains that the book gets its name from Psalm 145:4. “One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”  

Meade goes on to explain that the purpose of telling stories of God’s mighty acts isn’t for entertainment value or good moral examples. The purpose is to make known the wonder of God’s great character. What a great verse Psalm 145:4 is for parents and grandparents! 

One way of declaring God’s mighty acts is by talking about them, and another is by writing about them. Psalm 102:18 says – “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD.” 

Over Labor Day weekend, our family had the privilege of seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls at our local science museum. How amazing to see those ancient words of God that He miraculously preserved in jars inside of caves for two thousand years. What a mighty act of God! And how thankful I am for those men of long ago who obediently and diligently wrote those precious words down on scrolls so that my generation could see them and praise God! 

My daughters also were quite inspired by seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls, and they were eager to create their own scrolls at home. (We just glued parchment paper to wooden dowels to create them.) 

Laurel writes in her scroll.
Linnea uses hieroglyph stamps on her scroll.
We wrap each scroll in felt to help preserve it.
our jar of scrolls

Another way to pass along truths about God is through song. And that’s actually another way God brought Psalm 145 to my attention. While my husband was leading worship music at church a few weeks ago, he found this fantastic song for a Sunday morning offertory. Our very talented friend Mia sang “The Lord is Gracious and Compassionate” beautifully. It’s one of those songs that you can’t help but sing along to, and the words are right from Scripture. Many are right from Psalm 145. Listen to this version from Vineyard Church and you’ll see what I mean: 

Putting Scripture to music usually helps greatly in attempts to memorize it. So when the fall Sunday School classes kicked off at church this week, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that my oldest daughter’s weekly memory verse comes from Psalm 145. It’s verse 9: “The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” She came home from class with it already memorized, thanks to that song she’d heard over and over!

What’s more, my youngest daughter and I have been studying the seven days of creation in Genesis this past week, so “all He has made” has been at the forefront of my mind. Her memory verse isn’t from Psalm 145, but it dovetails nicely into this message of God’s mighty acts. Luke 18:27 says, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Preserving words on paper for two thousand years would be impossible for man, but it was possible with God! 

So, as we dive deep into a busy new school year — teaching the next generation about God — I am thankful for the fresh encouragement in these ancient words of Psalm 145. When I am tempted to be angered by my children’s attitudes or behaviors, I cling to those words “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in love.” Lord, help me respond to my children the way You respond to Yours! 

I am so thankful that God is good to all and compassionate on all He has made. I am thankful that He provides for my needs and watches over me. He is worthy of praise for ever and ever! 

Psalm 145

A psalm of praise. Of David.

 1 [a] I will exalt you, my God the King;
       I will praise your name for ever and ever. 

 2 Every day I will praise you
       and extol your name for ever and ever. 

 3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
       his greatness no one can fathom. 

 4 One generation will commend your works to another;
       they will tell of your mighty acts. 

 5 They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
       and I will meditate on your wonderful works. [b] 

 6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
       and I will proclaim your great deeds. 

 7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness
       and joyfully sing of your righteousness. 

 8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
       slow to anger and rich in love. 

 9 The LORD is good to all;
       he has compassion on all he has made. 

 10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD;
       your saints will extol you. 

 11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom
       and speak of your might, 

 12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts
       and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 

 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
       and your dominion endures through all generations.
       The LORD is faithful to all his promises
       and loving toward all he has made. [c] 

 14 The LORD upholds all those who fall
       and lifts up all who are bowed down. 

 15 The eyes of all look to you,
       and you give them their food at the proper time. 

 16 You open your hand
       and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 

 17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
       and loving toward all he has made. 

 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
       to all who call on him in truth. 

 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
       he hears their cry and saves them. 

 20 The LORD watches over all who love him,
       but all the wicked he will destroy. 

 21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
       Let every creature praise his holy name
       for ever and ever. 

By the way, the girls and I have been reading The Mighty Acts of God aloud, and it’s really well done. I highly recommend it.

Not Back-to-School: Part 4

This week “A Day in the Life” is the focus of the Not Back-to-School blog hop going on at Heart of the Matter. So, I thought I’d share a sample schedule, which sort of reflects our daily routine when school is in session. The book Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell was quite helpful in putting this together.

7:30 a.m. – dress, make beds, do other morning chores

We use the chores system from Accountable Kids, which is really helpful.

8:30 a.m. – breakfast and clean up kitchen, review memory verses

9 a.m. – prayers, sing a hymn, Bible lesson, calendar

We use traditional hymnals as well as Hymns for a Kid’s Heart (vol. 1 and 2) and Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart, which all come with music CDs, hymn stories and prayers. 

9:30 a.m. – oldest works on spelling and handwriting lessons while Mom works with youngest (craft project, abcs, reading a book, or doing dot-to-dot)

10 a.m. – oldest does math lesson with Mom while youngest listens to a book on CD and then plays with puzzle or blocks or Lincoln logs or dress up

10:30 a.m. – snack/recess break

11 a.m. – history lesson (mom reads aloud to both) and/or science lesson

11:30 a.m. – oldest does language lesson with Mom while youngest is free to play or look at books

noon – lunch break and clean up

1 p.m. – oldest practices piano while youngest reads with Mom

1:30 p.m. – quiet time for Mom, oldest reads in her room while youngest rests/naps in her room

3 p.m. – oldest briefly narrates/summarizes her reading to Mom; all enjoy a light snack

3:15 p.m. – errands, chores, various extracurricular activities and dinner prep

5:30 p.m. – dinner and clean up

6:15 p.m. – girls play while Mom and Dad talk

7:15 p.m. – read-aloud chapter book (read by either Mom or Dad)

7:45 p.m. – bedtime chores

8 p.m. – prayers and kids tucked into bed

Whew! It makes me tired just when I type it all out! And since we don’t start this school year until Sept. 1, this is basically last year’s routine, which will need to be adjusted to make room for new stuff, like a reading lesson for my youngest. Every year and every day is different, and I strive to be flexible and welcome God to interupt our day. After all, He knows exactly the number of days planned for us and He is the ultimate homeschool planner, as I blogged about here

God bless your school year and happy blog-hopping!

Not Back to School Blog Hop