Gettin’ Schooled

Our homeschooling adventure continues! One of the main things I want to do when I think of teaching my kids myself is stuff their heads with as much scripture as possible. My own little brain was stuffed full of God’s words when I was a little girl and I find He uses that library in my brain to talk to me. I want my kids to have a nice-sized God-vocabulary, so a big part of our homeschooling is scripture memory.

So far this schoolyear we’ve memorized:

Romans 3:23-24 (As a kid I learned 3:23 alone, but verse 24 actually finishes the sentence. )
Acts 16:21
Ephesians 6:1
Proverbs 20:11
Psalm 34:14
Isaiah 63:1-3
1 John 4:8
Psalm 23 entire chapter

Since I’ve also been working on cursive handwriting with Levi, the scripture verses provide a good opportunity to practice handwriting and work on memorization at the same time. We do one verse each week, with a “test” on Friday. On Monday, we print out the verse and each day, Caleb helps by holding the paper for us to read aloud together. He gets a kick out of saying “GO!” and we read the verse again. We also write the verse several times to “layer the learning” by using our hand to write, seeing with eyes, and speaking the verse aloud.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a Friday morning and “tested” on all the verses we’d learned up until that time, having the kids write them out as I called out the reference or the first couple of words.

Scripture Memory Wall

Scripture Memory Wall

I’m so excited for my kids to learn the Bible, and as He always does, God is using His words to change us. For example, several weeks ago, when we were memorizing Psalm 34:14 “Depart from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it,” Dwayne and I had a really rough evening. It was one of those needless marital disagreements where both people say and do things they don’t mean and nobody wins. It wasn’t the kind of thing we could hide from the kids, even though they were in bed when it happened. We screwed up and our kids knew it. The next morning, I tearfully read over Psalm 34:14 and had to explain to my three babies how Dad and I were wrong to not do what the verse asked. We had not departed from evil and sought peace. We had done the opposite. I also shared with them how we planned to work on our disagreement, and ask God to help us too. Talk about humble pie. Talk about relevant scripture.

As He always does, God turned my stupid mistake into something good for me and my children. I had a chance to talk honestly with my kids, not hiding from them the fact that adults make mistakes. I had a chance to teach them that being an adult isn’t about not messing up, but it’s about owning your mistakes and doing what it takes to learn how to do better.

 

Vacuum Science Experiment

Vacuum Science Experiment

So far, we’ve also started a creation science unit, made “rain,” created a vacuum, and we are pairing that with a World History study, starting off at the very beginning, of course. I’ve been working with Mackenzie on poetry, and with Levi on reading comprehension. For math, I have a geometry student and one working on multiplication with several digits. For some extra curricular work, Mackenzie is taking a cake decorating class and Levi is participating in the children’s choir at NOBTS. As a family, we’ve also done a menu-planning and grocery budgeting project.

I’m finding my days are intense, with nonstop activity from 6am to 8 or 9pm by the time I complete the entire day from homeschool to work to NOCCA pick-up to putting everyone to bed. BUT I’m working on some different techniques to manage my tasks and time. I’m so thrilled with my kids’ progress and so surprised at how much MOM is learning. ūüôā Guess they aren’t the only ones gettin’ schooled!

 

 

 

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Origins: Journeying On

For three years now, I’ve been on a journey.¬† A pilgrimage, if you will, into my own heart.¬† Three years ago, we began what is now called Origins, a group of house churches who lean on one another for support and encouragement.¬† For most of the three years, my house has been the meeting place for “house church.”

By now, I’m accustomed to the double-takes and odd looks when I tell people my church meets in my home.¬† I’m confident about what we do and why.¬† I’m able to easily tell another person what a house church is and why it’s a perfect fit for our family.¬† Three years seems to be a milestone of sorts.¬† In a human life, the first three years are crucial to setting beliefs, behaviors, and “bents.”¬† After three, most kids are out of diapers, moving toward school, and asserting more and more independence.¬† Babyhood is definitely over and toddlerhood is quickly nearing its end.

So what about our house church journey?¬† It’s three years old now.¬† Infancy has passed, and I look around and think “Hey.¬† We really ARE doing this!!”

So what has house church meant to me?¬† Here’s my top three:

1)¬† House church has given me confidence in my faith.¬† When we began, there were many scary moments for me as I let go of things that were part of brick-and-mortar church.¬† Would I “stick it out” with God if no one was expecting me to play the piano, teach a class, or show up lookin’ good on Sunday morning?¬† Would I love God as much without the “game” to play that I was so accustomed to winning?¬† Could I separate myself from the things I’d always¬†used as outward proof of my love for God? ¬†The answer is:¬† YES!!!¬† Yes.¬† With 100% confidence I can now say that I am God’s daughter.¬† He is my Father.¬† I love Him more than ever.

2)¬† For the first time in my spiritual life, I have experienced unconditional acceptance for who I am as a person, not for how well I play, sing, speak, look, or what I know about the Bible.¬† That is not to say I haven’t HAD this type of acceptance.¬† There are many beloved friends, teachers, pastors, fellow believers who have extended this acceptance to me in the past.¬† I simply could not let myself¬†experience it while still attempting to earn it by playing well, lookin’ good, and being the poster child.¬† There have been moments in my living room when fellow believers have prayed for me, and I for them, we’ve struggled and celebrated, and kept on being there for each other, all without the trappings I was used to.¬† I NEEDED to know, deep down, that not only would I still¬†love God if stripped of my church “position” but that other believers would still love ME.¬† And they do.

3)¬† It’s OK to let God take care of me.¬† In the past three years, people have come along who’ve needed what house church offers… the healing, the acceptance, the rest.¬† But for the group that meets in my home, there hasn’t been an explosion of numbers.¬† No one’s beating down the door to get in.¬† Not that I expected or was shooting for a group that is bursting at its seams.¬† We do not have a goal of building a church building to house our meetings.¬† In all seriousness, I… we have needed the past three years to let God work in us, care for us, and knit us together with Him.¬† I’ve learned that it’s ok to let God teach me and lead me, even if the steps are miniscule.¬† I’ve learned that big crowds, microphones, offering plates and the latest tunes are not necessarily evidence of God’s presence or His blessing, or His work in my life.¬†

I’m so grateful for the simplicity, the straightforwardness, the purity of BEING the church.¬† I in Him and He in me.¬† In us.

Our hands in His, we journey on.

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Memory Magic

Recently I attended a solo opera “Paul to the Church At Philippi” performed by Dr. Ed Steele.¬† It was actually my second time to see the performance (my first was a birthday present to myself!) since Dr. Steele came to perform the opera for our Origins network of house churches.¬† The¬†music, written by Dr. Steele, is the perfect accompaniment.¬† He had no need of a lyricist, since the text is word for word the entire book of Philippians.

My¬†tears started flowing as the first few verses were sung and recited.¬† When I heard the words “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” God reminded me that He was talking to me, and that He is far from finished with the good work He started in me personally.

I glanced around the room and noticed something else that moved me nearly beyond what I can express.  A few guests had joined us for the performance.  One was an older gentleman, a good friend of mine, a minister, and a leader in our state among other ministers and missionaries.  I happen to be aware (most others in the room were not) that this awesome man is struggling with memory problems.  In my career in assisted living, I deal daily with the effects of dementia and short term memory loss, and they are heartbreaking, frustrating, and debilitating to say the least.  I glanced over at my friend and saw that as the words of Philippians were recited and sung, his lips moved along, not missing a beat.  His grin was ear to ear, and he nodded in affirmation at words that held deep meaning for him.  The words flowed freely from his memory with absolutely no hesitation.

I was already in a puddle, but melted further still as I saw played out in the flesh the truth I already know:¬† God’s word stands forever.¬† Even this moment, the words come to mind that I memorized as a child:¬† “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isa. 40:8) There’s something LIVING about the words of scripture.¬† They come back at the Holy Spirit’s bidding, they appear at just the right time, they apply centuries after they were written, and in every different situation.¬† I loved seeing and knowing that God’s Word and His Spirit are not limited by our minds or our ability to remember, think clearly, or express ourselves.¬† In my own times of deepest despair I know I’ve been able to cry to God, (not necessarily able to say anything intelligible) read and remember His Word.¬† He’s always been there, and always will be.

This, I love knowing.¬† I love knowing that my friend who struggles to remember some day-to-day things has God’s Word planted deep in the recesses of his brain.¬† I love knowing that if and when those words do fade from his memory, they will be no less true, and God’s Holy Spirit will remain, bringing comfort where there may be no words.¬† I love knowing that God is able to permeate every layer of our conscious and subconscious and is not subject to our limited abilities, not sickened by our illnesses, not destroyed by our mistakes.¬†

This comforts me beyond measure and inspires me to memorize even more, to stuff every possible word into my own gray matter so that it’s there for God’s use and at His disposal.¬† I’m reminded of more words from Deuteronomy that Jesus Himself used in his own battle with Satan: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”¬† Those words are alive.¬† They are real, and they are good.¬† Give them a try!

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