No Stress Homeschooling – Thoughts On What I Have Learned & Free Resources

11107369_1411576342504043_7942726883185188231_nThis past year was insanely crazy. I mean with all the health issues going on, my fulltime job and 3 kids to educate, it was a busy year to say the least.
So this time around, I’m working on a no fuss homeschooling schedule. No fancy curriculums and no stressful books.
In spending about 10 hours researching, I’m amazed at everything available outside of expensive curriculums that can help kids learn. Last night after I finished researching and reading tons of articles online, I grabbed some mini dinosaurs I bought at a thrift store and in just 15 minutes I taught our preschooler some basic math skills. I had him write his answer on paper and that was it. That’s math class for him and it works great with his learning style and sensory needs.

He starts Kindergarten this year and we’ll be using a relaxed homeschooling approach with him since I noticed that he really dislikes doing worksheets for more than 5 minutes a day. So with him we’ll read books on each subject for 15 minutes a day and use thrift shop finds as visual aids in learning math, logic and science.
His entire homeschooling day will only take about an hour and a half and it’s something I can do on my lunch hour and in the evening after work, so that’s awesome.

When we started homeschooling last year we were sold into the idea that our kids had to follow an expensive, complicated and stressful curriculum. But it was not necessary and now I know that allowing them to grow in the areas they enjoy most makes more sense then forcing them to sit at a desk doing seatwork for 6 hours a day.  Although seatwork is important it should not be the only form of learning and it definitely should not be forced on small children as we were doing erroneously.

Biblically as I look at how Jesus taught his disciples and those around him I am convinced that traditional public school education is completely wrong and leaves many kids thinking they are dumb without maximizing their potential. When I look at Jesus I see a man who taught outdoors, who without having much had everything he needed even though he had no secure place to lay his head each night. When I think of who I want my kids to be like, I envision Jesus and his humility. His love for others, his simplicity and his amazing teaching style. I don’t want my kids to be like Steve Jobs or their favorite sports figure, I want them to be like Christ. To grow up and use their talents and strengths to impact the world for Gods glory.
Sadly, education today is seen and managed in a cookie cutter method. But unfortunately this method does not allow a child to grow, to question and to logically work through life’s ups and downs.

So for us, homeschooling this year will take on a whole new approach. It will be parent and student lead, relaxed yet enriched, full yet not stifling.
I am so blessed that the light bulb finally went off in my head and my “ah ha” arrived before we continued to damage our children’s educational process.

If you are on a home-schooling journey and you are wondering how it can be done, I invite you to check out these links below for some great articles on homeschooling methods, free curriculum, free worksheets and more.
May you be encouraged and inspired to make the best decision for your family.
God bless you!

(Pictured: our smallest child, happy to receive a beanie baby my aunt rewarded him with for sounding out new words.)
Below are some awesome links, I highly recommend you visit if you are wanting to homeschool or homeschooling already:

Teaching our children to write, read and spell

Links to educational sites, free homeschooling resources, fun interactive learning activities, information about homeschooling, and lots of other “homeschooling freebies!”

The best advice of seasoned homeschoolers and other educators

Considering Methods & Styles of Homeschooling

Free Complete Online Homeschool Curriculum List

Homeschooling High school

Preparing to Homeschool: Homeschooling Styles

Online Homeschooling via SchoolhouseTeachers.com

50 States Coloring Pages

KidZone Geography United States Printables

500 Free Printable Lunchbox Notes to use at the kitchen table or for a picnic in the park

Free Homeschool Geography Resources

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Silence is the Secret

We all long to be closer to God. But that requires something simple and often overlooked—the willingness to be still.

by Drew Dyck, In Touch Ministries 

I recently attended a large conference for church and business leaders, featuring big names like Colin Powell, Jimmy Carter, Jack Welch, Tony Dungy, and Rick Warren. But one speaker listed on the program seemed out of place. She wasn’t a prominent politician, business tycoon, or megachurch pastor. Rather than a suit, she wore a simple white robe and headscarf. Known as “Mama Maggie,” she is a diminutive woman who works in the slums of Cairo, Egypt.

When she walked onstage, the crowd erupted. Visibly moved by the reception, she stopped midway to the podium, pressed her hands together and mouthed words that were lost amid the thunderous applause. Then she lowered her body to the floor and prayed for a moment before rising to speak.

Silence is the Secret

She was worth the attention. Mama Maggie has dedicated her life to serving homeless, starving children in Manshiyat Naser (or “Garbage City” as it’s known in Egypt). She founded an organization called Stephen’s Children to help the countless boys and girls who roam the trash heaps looking for scraps of food. Today, the organization has thousands of volunteers, scores of whom were helped by the charity as children.

Of the many things she shared with us that day, one has stuck with me. “Silence is the secret,” she said to the crowd. “Silence your heart to listen to your spirit. Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit. In silence, you leave the many to be with the One.”

That evening, I had the opportunity to interview her, and I was struck by the palpable humility and incredible gentleness of spirit she exuded. It was plain to see that everything about her grew out of a deep intimacy with God.

Quietness, both of mind and spirit, is essential for communing with the Almighty. “Be still,” the psalmist writes, “and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 NIV). I think it’s important to note that the stillness precedes the knowing—not the other way around. Without first quieting our hearts (and minds and mouths), we’ll never realize the deep intimacy with God we so desperately crave.

Unfortunately, however, we are rarely silent. After a few seconds of quietness, we get fidgety. We start reaching for our gadgets or talking to avoid awkwardness and boredom. We can blame our technological devices or hectic work schedules or busy family lives, but the truth is, we avoid silence at all costs.

Silence is the Secret

A recent study conducted at the University of Virginia testifies to this sad truth. Researchers found that people preferred pain to being alone with their thoughts, even for a few minutes. Asked to sit in a room with no distractions for 15 minutes, participants were offered the option of giving themselves electric shocks. Around half of the people—all of whom had felt the painful jolt beforehand—chose to zap themselves just to break the monotony. (One participant opted for the shock 190 times.)

As Christians, we should find this aversion alarming, because being silent is essential for spiritual maturity. Quietness is to our souls what sleep is to our bodies: It helps us heal and gives us time to grow. Silence—that essential pause from the torrent of noise and busyness—enables us to hear our Creator and move closer to Christ. But finding this silence amid the cacophony of life can be difficult when a thousand things compete for our attention. Even when we get alone with God and try to quiet the buzz in our brains, the mental clutter of worries, fears, and unfinished tasks surges to the surface. It takes concerted effort to cultivate silence, especially in today’s world. But it’s a challenge we must accept. Our spiritual vitality is at stake.

And there’s more. Silence is something even greater than a tool to deepen our spiritual life; it’s the natural reaction of mortals to the presence of a holy God. In Scripture, when people encountered Him, they fell silent or spoke in hushed tones, fearful their sinful lips would incur divine judgment.

Take Isaiah, for instance. When he saw the Lord “high and exalted,” the only words he could manage were ones of despair: “Woe to me!” he cried, “I am ruined!” (Isa. 6:5 NIV). Ezekiel, too, was overwhelmed by his vision of God. After seeing Him in His glory, the prophet said nothing; he could only fall face-first to the ground (Ezek. 1-3).

Another example is Daniel, who could stare down lions, but when the heavens opened before him, he “bowed with [his] face toward the ground and was speechless” (Dan. 10:15 NIV). Likewise, the revelations of heaven the apostle John received left him lying on the ground “as though dead” (Rev. 1:17 NIV). And though there is no shortage of dialogue in the book of Job, silence reigns when God shows up. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?” Job says. “I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4 NIV).

Silence is the Secret

But their reactions are radically different from ours. Drop in on an average church service, and you’ll hear loud celebratory music sung by cheerful, upbeat worship teams. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. We need to be joyful. But there is little time spent standing in awe of God. Can we be shocked into silence by God’s unbridled majesty? Is it possible for us to stand in perfect stillness before His holiness? The answer to these questions is most definitely yes. Yes, we can.

But believe it or not, this isn’t a new issue. In the 17th century, a man named Isaac Watts complained about lackadaisical worship. He objected to “the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces of a whole assembly.” His father challenged him to create hymns that would inspire more fervent worship. Watts did just that—and ended up writing some of the best-known songs of the English language, including “Joy to the World.” But it is the final stanza of “Eternal Power” that perfectly describes the worship that can come only with silence:

God is in heaven, and men below;
Be short our tunes, our words be few;
A solemn reverence checks our songs,
And praise sits silent on our tongues.

Watts understood something we would be wise to embrace—that worship sometimes demands wordlessness and that the purest praise often arises from hushed lips. Silence is an acknowledgment that we stand in the presence of a holy and remarkable God. It signals that we’re ready to listen, to receive, and to simply stand in awe of our Creator. It is when we intentionally close our mouths that we can experience a fuller measure of God’s greatness and grandeur.

 

Illustrations by Jeff Gregory

A Prayer for Weakness – Upon the Waters -& Amidst the Desert

Today I wanted to share a prayer I wrote and one of my favorite songs for when I cannot see nor know what God is doing in my life. May you be blessed and your spirit made strong.
Mariana

You called me out upon the waters…..to the great unknown.
You called me apart to the desert…….to experience the arid climate of the human soul.

You called me to set my feet firm on sinking grounds.
To look up to you,
to keep my eyes fixed on you
regardless of the ground beneath me.

My heart yearns for you so
and is so heavy that I cannot sing my worship to you
only pray silently, that your spirit would govern over all the unrest,
weakness, fear and uncertainty that has woven webs around your servant.

Hear your servant oh Lord, Let your glory shine down from heaven.
That this broken vessel would be filled with your power and made whole in your sight.

“And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

You called me out upon the waters…..to the great unknown
Yes, you called me to wander in the desert,
to witness your great hand at work.

And although the heat may wither a thousand flowers
and there may be no water to drink
I know that I am safe
under the shadow of your wings.

Although I cannot sing, your praises are in my heart
although I cannot see what you are doing
I know your spirit goes before me

Hear your servant oh Lord,
let your glory shine down from heaven.

Amen
(©)

I Am Who I Am

He whispers this to us, time and time again.
His gentle spirit reminding us of who he is and who we are.

“I Am Who I Am”, says the lord of the universe because he is confident in his plans for us, for a broken humanity.

He is confident of his plans for the woman who cannot bear her burden after years of bleeding and no remedy. (Mark 5)
He is confident of his plans for the woman who with a bowed head approaches the well to hear all that she ever was or did. (John 4)
He is confident of his plans for his humble servants who endure trial after trial and are broken into pieces like a loaf of bread.

“I Am Who I Am” he says to us because he is absolutely sure of who he is and who we are in his sight.
In our sinful humanity we are feeble, weak, dirty and blemished.
In his holiness he is pure, just, loving and merciful.

We need to encounter him,
to be cleansed by him,
to be made strong in his presence so that we may endure the many trials that confront us daily.

I may never be able to rest in my daily circumstances or find peace in them but I can certainly rest in “I Am That I Am”.
Although a thousand may fall at my side, (Psalm 91)
although rumors of war may fill the air. (Matthew 24)
although financial crisis may strike,
although laughter may turn to mourning;

I can find solace and peace in “I Am That I Am”.

———————————-

Friends, let us rejoice in our present trials as the apostle Paul reminds us. Let us find comfort in knowing that those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death are not alone and once they leave the valley they are made stronger.
I believe that God uses greatly those who have been thrown into a fiery furnace and have endured countless tests and trials.
No gold is made pure without fire. Let us then be persistent and keep holding on to the Word of God and to our salvation with fear and trembling.

To him be the glory, honor and praise now and forevermore.
Mariana
“In spite of sorrow, loss, and pain, Our course be onward still”
Adoniram Judson

Because you have made the Lord your safe place Psalm 91:9

A reminder during difficult times:

I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.  C. H. Spurgeon

When all hell breaks loose and everything around me seems like it is going wrong,
I need to remind myself that the Lord is my safe place.
My job may stress me, my friends may abandon me, my health may fail me
but in spite of it all I can dwell quietly in his perfect peace.
I don’t have it all figured out and I have no clue what tomorrow is going to bring
but I know that my redeemer holds tomorrow in his hands.
So during stressful and difficult times like these I must remember that although my strength may fail me his strength carries me.
Although my energy is lacking his spirit is ever present.
Although tomorrow may cause me to doubt I can trust that His word is true.

I must remember that nothing is impossible for God and although I don’t understand my circumstances I can renew my strength each morning and night when I pray.
I must remember that he goes before me in my battles and leads me to quite waters when my soul is weary.
I must remember that although I am imperfect, his ways are perfect and I can trust them.

Mariana

What is Pure, True and Good


It is the begging of a new week, new endeavors, new accomplishments, new struggles and new ideas. My prayer for my friends and family is that we will be aware of those things that keep us away from what is pure, true and good. Today is a big day for millions of sports fans and there will no doubt be many parties, drunken stupors and bets all the while little eyes watch and record what is seen, heard and felt.  At the same time in various parts of the world both women and young girls are being sold into sexual slavery.  Thousands of these poor souls will be exhibited and sold today while many drink their beers and cheer for their team.  My prayer? That we will see the evil and expose it. That we will protect our children from sick ideals brought to us by the local media, the popular clothing lines and Hollywood.
You see people just don’t wake up and decide they are going to work in prostitution or become sex traders, criminals and drug abusers.  There is a slow ripping away of what is pure, true and good, the degradation of the human soul who pushes away God’s love and truth.. And before they know it, the enemy of our souls envelops the innocent and the willing and pushes them into some of the most heinous and sick crimes known to humanity.Going back in history we can read that Hitler was not born a wicked man. He was made into one.  He was actually baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith as a child in Austria. But through a series of events he grew up with a twisted view of what was pure, true and good. He sought to eliminate the God of the Christian and Jewish faith. To create his own ideals, to impose them on others with abuse, tyranny and consequence.  When I look at mainstream media and at many people in power I scratch my head and see their distortion of what is pure, true and good and their laws on how we should educate and raise our families.  Next to these outfits, the Political puppets, AKA the media continues to offer and embrace marketability of sex appeal by which they seek to indoctrinate our young children into liberal lifestyles and distorted sexuality.
Artists such as Jay Z teach our youth to adore money, crave for sex and mistreat women.  Don’t even get me started on Eminem, Madonna and Katy Perry. There are to many to name but you get the point.

Now I ask you, what are you allowing the world to teach the precious minds of your young ones?  Are they being robed of their innocence by video games, music and mainstream media? It saddens me to see all the young teenage girls completely engulfed in the fashion industries idea of fashionable.  Showing but cheeks and cleavage because they want to be noticed and because they are hurting inside.  And what the heck are we doing about it?  Not a darn thing.  My prayer? That we would wake the heck up before it is to late for those we know and love. That we would seek to protect the minds and hearts of our family. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 That when we sit down and watch TV or movies we would be selective and diligent on what sounds and images we allow to come into our brains and be embedded into our hearts forever. Yes, my prayer is kind of long but a needed one.

So today as you come back from church, the park, the store or get ready to go to a Super Bowl Party be mindful of what you do and what you are teaching your family by your actions.  Standup for what is pure, true and good. For me that means holding fast to my faith because it is the only thing I have proven in my life and the world to be true.  It is what guides me and shapes me day by day.  And although this vessel is lacking and imperfect I know that the redeemer of our souls is with me.  He waits patiently for his beloved people to turn their eyes away from evil and run towards the truth.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13