Home Education~Ministry Moments~Hearth and Home

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Nativity Dilemma

I hope all my blog peeps had a:
My youngest had a great time making this before our Thanksgiving meal.  We put it on the easel at the buffet.
We had a great week last week out of our normal homeschooling routine.  This week I've been busy decorating for Christmas and getting back into the swing of home education before more holiday celebrating.
  The other day, I had a bit of a dilemma with my nativity.  Last year this is what it looked like:

The Nativity sat on my TV with our new Advent wreath.  I liked that the two were side-by-side.  I liked how my wise men were traveling to see Jesus.  What I didn't like is that I did not use any "hay" around the nativity set, because I was afraid of having it that close to the fireplace and candles.  It just looked plain. 
So, after a few different tries, I decided on this:
I was so pleased with how it turned out.  I love that this is the first thing that you see when you walk through our front door.  Before, I had put a few Santa/elves things here.  (We don't have many.)  But, I think this is so much better.  My whole family agreed.  AND...I have hay!  (or I think it's Spanish Moss.)  My kids really liked the idea of the Wise Men being somewhere else in the house, traveling to see Jesus.  I explained to them that the Wise Men are still traveling, but their nearby presence is just symbolic.  (They bought it.)
Now....what to put next to my Advent Wreath???
Next post!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful Garland

 Yesterday I took a little time in between cleaning the house and raking leaves to make our "Thankful Garland".  I used materials I already had in my craft closet, so this was a "freebie"!  All that's left to do now is to write what we're thankful for on the leaves.

Give thanks with a grateful heart...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Planning Ahead for Advent

       Advent officially begins Sunday, December 2nd this year.  Last year our family started the tradition of reading an Advent story series written by Arnold Ytreeide.  I only purchased the first book (Jotham's Journey), because I wasn't sure our family would like it.  Well...we LOVED the book. It became one of our favorite parts of Christmastime.  Since we enjoyed the book so much last year, I went ahead and ordered the next two in the series from HERE.  To our delight, they arrived yesterday. 
     I look forward to sitting by candlelight each evening with my boys as my husband reads a chapter from Bartholomew's Passage.  There are  12 days until Advent begins.  How will your family celebrate Advent this year? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday Morning with my 4's and 5's

Bible Story: David Thanked God  (1 Chronicles 15-16)

Bible Phrase: Say thank you to God.  Psalm 136:1

We made Thanksgiving chains. 
Boys and Girls wrote on each strip what they wanted to thank God for.

Group Time
So excited to have a room full!  I think here I'm talking to the children about playing instruments.  I warned them that there may be some naughty instruments in my bag, and that it was up to them to make them be quiet until the music started.  :)

We enjoyed making a joyful noise to the Lord.  One little girl even shouted, "Praise the Lord!"

I shared with them how King David had some people play instruments as they went into the new Tabernacle (church).
They were thanking and praising God for their new tent church!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My New Bread Hook

Isn't she beautiful!?  So bright and shiny and industrial looking.  I ordered it just the other week, and was sooo excited when my bread hook came in the mail.  It is replacing my white one, which was beginning to chip. (I can't have that, since we have a tiny bread baking cottage industry.) 
Here are two white loaves I made today.  They are for our church bake sale tomorrow.  I plan to make more bread this week for Thanksgiving and beyond.  I think I'll have warm bread or rolls for Thanksgiving Day.  I'll make extra for grilled cheese sandwiches while family is here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Whatever Wednesday #6

Whatever Wednesday
  "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God's glory." 1 Corinthians 10:31
What's my latest (fun) purchase:
So excited over this lamp to match my still-in-the-making-redo of our bedroom.  I was so glad I was patient and waited for just the right lamp.  I just love the texture and how it "matches" my new curtains.  (But not so much it looks like it matches too much!) My mom told me decorating always looks better if you collect things over time...and not buy everything all at once.  That way it won't looks store-bought-matchy-matchy!  (And this way is better on the budget!)
What's going on at church this week:
Tonight we had "Parent Share Night" for Bible Drill.  I had the best time watching parents hang out with their kids as they played games and did activities that reinforced Bible Verses, Books of the Bible, etc.  We had a fun time! 
Tonight was also our church-wide Thanksgiving meal.  We had a fantastic turn out and a delicious, traditional meal...my family especially loved the smoked turkey...yummo!!  I love having this time with my church family...they are such a big part of our lives!  :)
What I'm looking forward to:
Exercising my right as a homeschool mom to schedule Thanksgiving Break as I see fit.  We begin Friday afternoon--and it will last for at LEAST a week!  (Maybe more--because this mama wants to get her house decorated for Christmas before getting back to our studies!)
What I've been listening to:
My youngest son singing throughout the day.  He'll be singing with my preacher husband in a few weeks in church.  Nothing sweeter than hearing them practice in the evenings as my husband plays his guitar.  As we were headed to piano practice today, the song they'll be singing, "His Love Never Fails",  came on the radio, We cranked it up and all sang out!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Latest Read: Do Hard Things

     This has happened to me more than once--- more like 50 times.  It started back when my boys were still in preschool.  Often parents of teenagers would say to me, "Just wait.  Enjoy them now, because when they're teenagers they'll hate you." OR....When people ask how old my kids are, and then say (as they roll they're eyes), "Oh, you're in for it now, with a teenager in the house.  We all have to go through it." 
     I decided years ago that I would never say to myself: Okay, my boys are teenagers.  They are going to be rebellious, impossible and think I'm dumb.  These things could happen---hormones and growing up are a fact of life--but I just wasn't going to EXPECT it to happen.  What I wanted to expect was the opposite.  I anticipated a growing relationship with my boys and a time when they matured and deepened their lives by serving others and growing closer to the Lord. 
     In fact, on the day our oldest turned 13, my husband and I put our hands on his shoulders, looked him in the eyes and told him that today, he was a teenager. We explained that to much of the world this meant a time of being carefree, rebellious and irresponsible. (We also told him "teenager"was a term that has existed less than 100 years, but that's a rabbit I'll not chase here.)  We told him that what we saw ahead for him in his teen years was a time of maturity, responsibility and having a Christian testimony.  That was a year and a half ago.  We know we still have a long way before the "dreaded" teen years are over...but so far, we are loving having a teenager in the house!   (And plan to keep on loving this stage!)
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations  -     
        By: Alex Harris, Brett Harris

     I say all this to lead up to what I really want to share.  I just finished reading Do Hard Things  by Alex and Brett Harris.  I was soooo excited when my oldest son won this book a while back for answering a question in youth group. (He read the first part of the book, then he told me I'd love it...I'm just now getting it back to him!) I had seen it advertised and had really been interested in the premise of the book---rebellion against low expectations for teenagers.  I HIGHLY recommend this book for all teenagers and their parents.  (It inspired me as an adult to "do hard things" as well!)  The Harris brothers say: "The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility...they are the training ground of future leaders who dare to be responsible now."  Can I get an AMEN
     My oldest son and I have a bit of an inside joke when it comes to "Do Hard Things".  Just the other night at church, when the youth were helping clean up after a meal, he came to me and said, "Mom, give me something easy to do." 
     I said, "Oh, no, son.  Remember, we 'Do Hard Things'."  We have fun joking around, but he gets it.  :)
Check out The Rebelution Blog by the Harris brothers for more information and inspiration on how you and your teenager can "Do Hard Things".

Friday, November 9, 2012

Harvest/Thanksgiving Decor Switch-out

I shared with you in my "Autumnal" Nesting" post some of my harvest decorations.  With just a few switch-outs I'm now ready for Thanksgiving.  (I also took down my "Harvest Blessings" flag outside and replaced it with my "Happy Thanksgiving" flag.)
If you squint your eyes, the Viking ships look like the Mayflower!  HA!  (This is our school corner...so the ships stay!)

I purchased these pilgrims last year at major clearance.  I don't even think I paid a dollar for them.  My little pumpkin plate was a Bingo prize from a Fall Festival.  :)

I re-purposed the fall leaves from my Trunk-A-Treat.  They are kinda cheapy, but look much better when bunched together a bit. 

I changed my Bible Verse...and that's all I did to my mantle.

There's more I'd like to do, like add a "Thankful" tree or maybe a "Thankful" garland.

  I found this on Pinterest today....nice and simple so I can remove it when we build a fire...
Maybe I'll give it a go...

Pinned Image

Monday, November 5, 2012

My New VBS Adventure

     Vacation Bible School is always an adventure...but this year it will be a different kind of excitement for me.  This year I will be part of the 2013 VBS Team for my state.  I just spent a great weekend in training with lots of great folks from all around my state who love VBS!  I have one more weekend of training later in the year before going on tour a few months before VBS begins.  I'll be leading conferences all around my state for associational conference leaders who will then train local churches in VBS.  (I'll be leading the Kindergarten conference...yeah!)
     I just had to share my excitement--so thrilled to be part of something that grows the Kingdom!  Did you know there were 7,000 professions of faith during VBS in 2012?  Did you know there is a direct correlation in the number of people that are trained and the number of children that attend VBS?  (and this almost always leads to more children making decisions to follow Christ!)  I didn't--but it makes sense.  If churches are better prepared because they attended training, they will not be so caught up in trying to figure out how to teach, etc.  They will be more free to participate in outreach and developing relationships with families. 
 "We have a gift called Vacation Bible School." 
---my favorite quote from one of our leaders this weekend

Love this photoshop!  That's me in the front left of the rollercoater....the only one you'll ever find me in!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Courtship and Dating: So What's the Difference? (A TOS Review)

     A few years back, my husband and I decided that we did not want our sons to "date" in the traditional sense.  There had to be a better way.  The trick was, we weren't sure what that "better" way was.  Over time, I began to hear the word "courtship" mentioned, especially in homeschooling circles.  Maybe this was the answer we had been looking for.  But then we asked, "Now how does that work?"  We began to talk to other friends of ours who wanted to do the same--but none of us had ever really seen it lived out in front of us.  We were just going to have to make it up as we went along.
Then this came in the mail:

Ahhh...NOW maybe I could get some answers!
     I was excited for the chance to read and review Courtship & Dating: So What's the Difference?, by Dennis Gunderson.  It is one of many books published by Grace & Truth Books.   

     At only 90 pages, Courtship and Dating: So What's the Difference? is a very easy read.  Chapters and Sections are broken down into bite size pieces so you don't feel overwhelmed or lost in tons of information.  I spent a lot of my time underlining, circling and starring all the "Oh, this is GOOD!"  and "I can't forget this" parts.

There are actually 6 authors that contributed to this book. (And two that don't even know they contributed, since they've been dead for 500 years!) The main section is followed by several supplemental chapters.  Listed below, you will find a description of each section:
Courtship or Dating: So What's the Difference? (by Dennis Gundersen) 
     This portion is obviously the heart of the book.  Dennis shares with his readers upfront that this book is not about exactly how to "do" courtship.  He gives principles instead--since all families and all situations are different.  He works through several contrasts when it comes to courtship or dating.  (i.e. Accountability vs. Independence) 
     I found what he had to say VERY helpful to me as a parent.  I'll be honest, I was hoping for some straight-up rules to follow. I wanted someone to tell me exactly how to do this courtship thing.  After reading what Gundersen wrote, I'm convinced of the priciple approach and not the "You-have-to-do-it-just-like-I-say-or-you-can't-call-it-courtship-method".  Two of my favorite quotes from this section: "...and the question will not be 'Do they have fun together?'  Rather, the question will be, 'Do they help each other serve others?'" and "You musn't begin the conversation about what type of person makes a good husband or wife when your son or daughter is right on the verge of selecting that person."
Marriage Without the Consent of Parents (by Martin Bucer)
     The words in this section were penned back in the day by a 16th Century Swiss Reformer.  (It seems you have to go back pretty far to find out the heart of courtship!)  This is a very short section...and I'll give you two guesses if Martin is for or against the idea of "marriage without the consent of parents".  How intriguing to read these words from centuries ago!
Observations on Courtship (by Kim Shay)
     Homeschool mom, Kim Shay, was the author of my favorite "supplemental" section.  I felt as if she was an old friend who stopped by for some coffee to give me some advice.  I could really relate to her and what she said.  One of my favorite quotes from Kim: "Set high standards and be flexible."
On Parents and Their Children's Marriage (by Martin Luther)
     This was the slowest section of the book for me to read.  I did not glean much from it--but it was interesting to see the struggles with marriage that families were going through back in the 1500's. (Martin Luther was addressing the issue of some parents forcing their children to marry someone they did not love, or keeping them from marriage altogether.) The juxtaposition of the modern day authors with the much older authors was well-placed. 
Modeling Modesty (by Mary Mohler)
Modesty, the Best Policy  (by Tamika Burns)
     These last two chapters went hand-in-hand.  Although they did not speak directly about courtship or dating, I thought adding them at the end of the book was very appropriate.  (These chapters were  primarily written to women and girls.) 
A few personal thoughts...
     Most of my adult life I have almost always read a book on a subject before pursuing something new (like getting married, having children, homeschooling, etc.).  This, along with prayer and seeking advice from wise people had always been a help to me.  This book was no exception.  After reading it, I felt so much more at peace about our decision.  I certainly don't know all there is to know, but that's okay--because tomorrow is not here yet.  The book helped me to understand that everything about how we will "do" courtship in our family does not need to be decided this week.  Our standards and principles will need to be in place, but all the other details can be flexible and decided as we move along. 
Want to read this book?
 There is also an audio cd of the book available for $4.75.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.
LOTS more Titles from Grace and Truth Books were reviewed by fellow bloggers on the TOS Crew.  Check them out HERE.


Friday, November 2, 2012

November Issue: The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

The November issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is now available!  It looks to be full of many interesting and helpful articles.  Lots of things about poetry and the Amish. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trunk-A-Treat: You'll have to Use Your Imagination

     I think I was a little too sleepy this morning...I accidentally deleted about 1,000 photos on my sd card.  SOOOOOOOO.....all those cute pictures I took of my trunk last night at our church's Trunk-A-Treat are GONE.  :(   Here's what's left as of this morning in the back of my trunk....I hope you can still get some ideas from it.  
These were the candy packs I made for my trick-or-treaters. 
Candy is SO expensive...so instead I purchase 100 mini bags ($2 w/coupon) filled with candy,
then stapled a folded-over label.  My kids had a fun time folding them all for me.
I created these using Word and clipart.
This is sort of what my trunk looked like last night....we added lots of branches we cut around our yard/road.
I used burlap to cover the back seat.  The owls were lit from the inside and hanging up.  (I had 2 large, 2 small)

I made the owl from a paper bag and scrap paper.


I wore the apron...made a quick owl costume (on sale: $2.50!)

This is still intact from yesterday's fun memories.  I had such a good time collecting fall
branches with my boys...and my youngest one collected these leaves for me and put them in
a vase for me.  (The "vase" is actually a maple syrup jar from Cracker Barrell. Perfect for all
those little flowers he has picked for me.  I've had it for years!)