Saturday, November 10, 2012

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I mentioned in a previous post that I received a "Liebster Award" from a fellow blogger the other day.  Liebster is a German word that means favorite, according to those who came up with the award somewhere in blog land.  (I think it also means dearest or boyfriend, if Google is right, but whatever.)   Anyway, I am flattered to be on anyone's "favorite" list, so thank you to Jan!  As part of the Liebster Award, I am supposed to share with you 11 facts about myself and answer 11 questions from Jan, as well as share my 11 favorite blogs with you.  (Sounds a little like a blog chain letter, right?  Well, I'm totally willing to comply, since I am a "favorite" of someone.)   I am altering the format just a little bit.  As a part of my blog reboot, I updated my "About Me" page to reflect a little bit more info about me, so you can find that at this link.  I have also added a Favorites tab to share all my favorite gospel centered websites and blogs.  Check out the new stuff and you will learn a lot more about me (probably than you wanted to know!)
 
On to Jan's questions...

Can you share your favorite Bible verse?
My favorite changes based on the season I'm in and what I'm learning from the Lord at the time.  Those favorites stay with me as hooks that I hang rememberances of how God was working in my life at different stages.  The book of Romans has been big for me in recent years. 
My current favorite is Romans 5: 1-5...
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

What is your all-time favorite book?
I love to read, but having an all time favorite is like trying to pick your favorite child.  I have read several Jane Austen books multiple times, because they are just pleasant reads and make me feel happy.  I recently read Uncle Tom's Cabin for the first time and was greatly affected by it, but it's not the kind of book you call a "favorite", right?  I love reading the Chronicles of Narnia with my kids, they are a delight.  Two of the books that have changed me in a very deep way are by John Piper- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ and Finally Alive

How many siblings do you have?
I have one younger sister, two brothers-in-law and one sister-in-law.  I also have a very large family of adopted brothers and sisters in Christ who are very dear to me!

What is your favorite comfort food?
Country Fried Steak like Grandma used to make it with mashed potatos and cream gravy.  But no one makes it like she does - (even me) so I don't eat it much anymore.

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
My husband and I had the most wonderful vacation to Hawaii a couple of years ago.  (Who wouldn't like Hawaii!?)  But every vacation we have taken together has been wonderful.  I think I just like to go places with him, because he is fun.  I love our family vacations too, but my special getaways with my husband are so refreshing.

What sports do your kids participate in?
We do a lot of mountain biking as a family.  Even the six year old keeps up!  (Actually, I have to keep up with him.)  We camp and hike and just like to be in the outdoors.

What's the last book you read?
The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung.  Very insightful - I'll be reading it again.  Maybe I'll blog about it.

Ice-cream or frozen yogurt?
Bluebell Ice Cream!

What's your favorite restaurant?
Fast food?  Tokyo Joe's
Date Night food?  Hacienda Colorado

Do you park in the garage or in the driveway?
I get to park the swagger-wagon in the garage so I don't have to scrape the ice off my windows.  (Thanks honey!)

When is the last time you went to the drive-in movie theater?
1977.  I had to look it up.  That's when Pete's Dragon came out.

Now it is my turn....

I'm supposed to nominate MY favorite blogs for a "Liebster Award".  They are supposed to be new blogs (under 100 followers), but since this summer, I haven't had much time to check out new blogs.  So here are my favorites - they aren't all homeschoolers and they aren't all new, but they may be new to you.  They are also excellent examples of gospel centered blogs - their content consistently models what it means to look to Christ for our righteousness, and not to our own performance. 

Christina at To Show Them Jesus
Desire at When You Rise
Jessalyn at Desiring Virtue
Luma at Gospel Grace

Many of these ladies have blogs that are much more regular than mine and they are all excellent writers with a much larger audience than mine.  I don't expect that they will have time to answer my questions, but if I were to ask them questions, they would be....

Where did you learn your Gospel Centered-ness from?  (That is, have you always understood your faith this way, or have you rediscovered it?)
When you fail as a mom, what verse do you use to remind yourself of your standing with Christ?
What is your biggest fear and how do you fight for faith in that?

Thank you, ladies for your faithful testimony to God's grace and for pointing others to the sufficiency of Christ!

Jennifer



Monday, November 5, 2012

Blog Reboot

I just want to say a quick hello to the new followers of Gospel Centered Homeschooling!  I've taken a couple of months break from blogging, and yet God has seen fit to add to the readers of the blog without any efforts of my own.  I'm glad to welcome both new followers and those who have followed since the first post.  Thanks especially to Jan over at Encouraging Moms Who Homeschool for recommending me on her site by giving me a "Liebster Award".  (More about that in a later post.)

I started this blog in the summer, when we were not schooling, just as an experiment to see if I could get a blog up and running and if I had enough subjects to write about.  It actually took a whole lot of my summer, but I enjoyed the time I spent - it was a fun obsession during a time when I had more free time.  Once the school year started up, I discovered that all our other obligations really needed to take precedence over the blog and so that is why it has been over two months since I've posted anything new.
 
If you were following the Gospel Powered Parenting book club, you will notice there hasn't been any more posts for the last few chapters of the book.  As much as I would love to finish off that book, I think I will have to cut my losses and move on.  I hope that if you were reading along with me, that you enjoyed the rest of the book and have maybe even moved on to some of the other books that I recommended in my last book club post.

So what's next for Gospel Centered Homeschooling?
I would like to continue posting, although it won't be as regularly as it was during the summer.  I have a few series that I would like to post about including a series on Christ-centered holiday traditions.  (We will see how much of that comes together with the rush of the holidays!)

I am going to keep the book club idea, but change the format.  Rather than post weekly on a book that we are reading together, I would like to announce a book of the month, post meaningful quotes for reflection throughout the month and post a review/reflection at the end of the month.

I will probably be most active in regularly posting to the Gospel Centered Homeschooling Facebook page, so if you are not already a follower through Facebook, you can "like" it on my sidebar, or by clicking this link.  I like to share interesting articles from around the web on that site, and perhaps introduce you to some other Gospel Centered bloggers.  I'm wondering whether to expand that to Twitter also, but the dangers of being a slave to social media are keeping me away for now.

I will be slowly revising some of my pages and the look of my blog, so if anyone knows a good designer or at least someone who could help with a little graphic design, let me know!!

More to come soon!  (Kind of soon.)  (No specific promises.)

Jennifer


Friday, August 24, 2012

Gospel Powered Parenting {Chapter 9}

Discipline That Preaches

The chapter this week has probably been the most practical yet, in that it has some specific steps and instructions for disciplining kids.  Farley lays out a suggested model for discipline, based on eight steps for how to connect discipline to the gospel.  His most important point, I thought, was to "use the discipline event to rehearse the gospel."  (pg. 169)  Unfortunately, he didn't give very much as to what this looks like or sounds like in a real life situation.  I have found this to be very important in my own parenting, so I have had to learn how to do this in a discipline situation.  I haven't done it perfectly - especially in the beginning.  I would say that because my previous understanding of the gospel has really been to hear  revival-type preaching, followed by an altar call where I would "re-dedicate" my life (again) to Jesus, I had a lot to overcome in learning what this meant, so that my poor kids didn't get THAT everytime they were disciplined.  In order to avoid this in your home,  I would suggest that you really dig into some resources regarding what the gospel really is about- make sure you understand it!   Explain it to your kids over and over again in non-discipline settings, so when the emotion of discipline comes about, you don't sound like a hell-fire preacher who is bent on converting their sinful souls.

Last chapter I recommended Tedd Tripp's book, Shepherding a Child's Heart, because it is so careful and thorough about presenting practical steps to follow when disciplining your child.  After reading the chapter this week, I feel even more strongly that you need to read Tripp's book to get a good handle on what Farley is saying about discipline.  I sort of felt like in this chapter that Farley had read Tripp's book, but he breifly summarized (some) of Tripp's method and moved on.  The how-to of discipline, especially the use of corporal discipline can be a very difficult subject and I don't think that Farley does it justice just to claim that it is necessary and biblical.  In this day and age, he really needs to do a more thorough job of explaining his reasoning, answering objections and helping parents to understand this in the right light.  Tripp's book does that.  Not only that, but he emphasizes other very important elements that need to be a part of discipline besides just the corporal discipline.  Tripp discusses child development, authority, biblical and unbiblical goals, unbiblical discipline methods, and then several chapters on biblical methods - three on communication, one on appeal to the conscience and one on "the rod".  This is the kind of thorough coverage of the subject of discipline methods that I appreciated as I was considering how discipline should look in our family. 

In addition to Tedd Tripp's book, I would also highly recommend Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick's book, Give Them Grace.  This book is also very specific in what a conversation with your child sounds like that "rehearses the gospel" - from everyday corrections, to specific discipline events.  Where Gospel-Powered Parenting opened my eyes to the importance of using the gospel and not just the law in my parenting, Give Them Grace and Shepherding a Child's Heart gave me specifics and practical help. 

Here are some links to the books recommended today.  I didn't use any affiliate links, because I don't want you to think I have promoted these books for my own gain.  I won't receive any compensation from your purchasing any of these books.  And you really should get them!


Give Them Grace by Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick
$7.99 for Kindle at Amazon
$9.99 for Paperback at CBD

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
$4.99 for Kindle at Amazon
$8.99 for Paperback at CBD

And this is a good (free!) video from Jessica and Elyse on the content of their book... if you want a little bit more information and insight into what it is about. 
Parenting Issues: A Mother and Daughter Perspective (Elyse Fitzgerald and Jessica Thompson)

Other book club posts can be found on the Book Club Page.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School Traditions

Last week was our first week of school for the new year.  It is our sixth year homeschooling, and our first with all three boys in grade school.  We have a 1st, 3rd and 5th grader this year!  Six years ago, when it was time to send the oldest to kindergarten, I knew I was excited about homeschooling, but still unsure about what he might be "missing".  All those first day traditions, riding the school bus for the first time, carrying a lunch box, meeting his sweet kindergarten teacher who would read "The Kissing Hand" or one of those other "back to school" first books.  I began to search for some back to school traditions for homeschoolers - I found lots of ideas, but I'm not real crafty, so our traditions became what was realistic for me and seemed the most like "us".   I also wanted it to be something pretty simple - no need to be elaborate, because it is harder to sustain elaborate.  I wanted whatever we chose to be something we could do every year.

Breakfast!
We always have a fun breakfast, usually a special request from the boys or a "treat" like waffles with whipped cream and strawberries.  This year it was french toast and bacon, by request.




Music!
We are a music loving family, so I usually have a song picked out to play to start our school day and call everyone to the couch to start our day with the Bible.  This year our first week song was "Put on Love" from Seeds Family Worship.  You can hear it here.  It is a fun setting of Colossians 3:12,14a. 
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience... and above all these put on Love!" 

Here are the two youngest, "puttin' it on"...



School Supplies!
It's always fun to get new "stuff"... so I save the fun school supplies for a surprise.


Oh, and a little treat, too.  (Pop Rocks, with an silly note!)



First Day Pictures!
Every year we take pictures by the same tree in the backyard, so we can see how the kids grow.  This year, since they were going on the blog, we used some "disguises" because I decided I don't really like to post individual pics of the boys on the blog for just anyone to download.




These are all pretty simple traditions, but it is fun to at least give the school year a little bit of specialness to start off.  Of course, each year has it's unique traditions too - sometimes we have a field trip the first week, sometimes a special outing or activity.  This year, we ended our "first week" with a pizza party, ice cream and movie night - celebrating our accomplishment!  (No one was very excited about starting up this year, so we needed to celebrate that it was a good week and not as bad as everyone expected.  Some years are like that.)




Your turn.... 
What traditions do you have to celebrate back-to-school?


I'm linking up today with iHomeschooling Network's "Not-Back-To-School" Blog Hop.
 

Monday, August 20, 2012

All I Have is Christ

I'm singing the gospel this morning with this song from Sovereign Grace running through my head...


I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still




But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace




Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You


Hallelujah! All I have is Christ -
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life!



(Song by Jordan Kauflin, copyright Sovereign Grace Music)
Hear it, buy it, get free lead sheet downloads here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Schoolroom Panic Attack

Last week I spent the week cleaning and purging our school room, moving furniture and re-stacking bookshelves with new books and school supplies.  Somewhere in the middle of all the clutter, I had a minor panic attack.  You see, like many of you who may be visiting from the "Not-Back-to-School-Blog-Hop", I have seen lots of blogs with really cute ideas of how to organize a school room - some complete with matching furniture, cute posters, tons of craft supplies and creative learning space.


I sat looking at all my mismatched desks and bookshelves, faded couches, plastic bins and dust bunnies and desperately tried to figure out how to make it look "cute" or "functional" ....or maybe just "clean".  I was suddenly overcome with discouragement.


No matter how many times I rearranged the desks, I couldn't get one corner to accomodate what I had in mind for my desk and not only did I feel my lack of appropriately sized furniture, I felt my lack of ability at working with 3-D space.  (I'm not much of an interior designer.)  I called my husband at work and much to his surprise, started sobbing... not over our lack of space or our lack of stylish furniture, but MY lack... of talent, creativity, spacial awareness, housekeeping, and decorating skills.  Have you ever had one of those snow-ball days?  Well, it didn't end there, the blizzard of self-doubt and self-pity had just begun.  (As usual when I unload my burdens on my husband, he listened empathetically and said he would help me out however he could when he got home.  Poor guy, it's hard to deal with an avalanche of feminine emotion when you are at work!)


In the past when I have had emotional meltdowns over all of my imperfections, unmet expectations and self-critical evaluations, I have eventually tried "talking to myself" using various strategies to try and crawl out of the pit.  It usually sounds something like this...

"You should be thankful for the things that you do have, think of all the people you know who don't even have a school room and wish they did."
 
"You should be proud that you aren't like all those other people who have to have 'fancy' things to do their school - you are thrifty, a good steward of your resources."

"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself, you should just go take a bath, or eat some chocolate, or splurge at IKEA - you deserve it!"

"You should remember that it isn't about the stuff you have but the stuff you learn that makes a good homeschool."

All of these answers have a little bit of truth to them, and some of them are definitely more "spiritual sounding" than others.  The problem is, none of them do anything to fix my wandering heart.  I may be thankful today, but my heart is prone to wander again.  Is my measure of thankfulness really the solution to the problem?  Being thrifty may be a valuable quality, but don't you think I sound a little prideful about my frugality?  Then there is the self-gratifying indulgence of my chocolate or buying binges - probably not a good long term solution.  And how long is the last argument going to last when it comes to the end of the year and I start assessing what we have learned?  I sense a whole new panic attack coming along... I'll need to get some new coping strategies... 

So where is the hope for me?  What do I really need?  I need power to change my idolatrous heart, not just more "shoulds"... laws that I can't ever live up to.  I don't need more "thankfulness", I need a Savior!  It is not the measure of my thankfulness for my "stuff"  that makes me acceptable to God, or that will make me more content.  It is the measure of Christ's sacrifice that makes me acceptable to God and it is the power of the Holy Spirit that opens my eyes to seeing CHRIST as more beautiful and more valuable than all this world and all the best school rooms have to offer.

So, I WILL be thankful, but not in my relative abundance, or in my humble lack....
I will be thankful for the gospel...  the GOOD news... will you rejoice with me?

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Romans 5:1-11)
Thanks be to God!

As for the school room...


It's still hodgepodge, a little less dusty, a little more organized...



...and brightened by some beautiful flowers that my husband brought home for me that day. 


Not a rebuke, a lecture, a quick fix, a to-do list.
 
Just flowers.
 
Undeserved love and grace -
just like Jesus.
 
That's what they remind me of.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Praying for You and Your School Year

This is my prayer for my family as well as yours as you begin (or continue) your school year this year...


"...we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

(Colossians 1:9-14, ESV)