5 ways to a better homeschool year

The school year is fast approaching (if it isn’t already upon you). While you are excited about the fresh year and new possibilities, some of those old fears and frustrations from last school year can creep up on you before you know it. Here are but a few simple ways that you can make this a better year.

Pray. This is the most important key. Fresh vision and a renewed outlook are critical to change what you want to change and make this a better year.

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:24 NKJV

Schedule. After you have prayed you can move to scheduling. Make a plan to avoid disaster and to plan for fun and spontaneity. It’s not easy but you’ll be glad you did.A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Prov. 3:5,6 NKJV

Connect. Find a kindred soul to walk through your year with. If you don’t already have one, seek out a friend to pray with and to share the good, the bad and the ugly with.

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 1 Thes. 5:14 NKJV

Let go. Release unrealistic expectations. Release your death grip on life. Release those fears and frustrations from last year and wipe the slate clean. Release things into God’s hands and marvel at how He beautifully orchestrates your family’s lives.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. Jer. 17:7 NKJV

Encourage. Encourage yourself in the Lord. And find another mom to encourage. Make it a long term project to bless another mom you know. It’s hard to obsess about your own problems when you are meeting someone else’s needs.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col. 3:16 NKJV

Word Study Wednesday: REST

This week’s word I chose a definition of:

REST: Quiet; repose; a state free from motion or disturbance; a state of reconciliation to God.

Key word definitions

Repose: To lay; to rest, as the mind, in confidence or trust; as, to repose trust or confidence in a person’s veracity.

State: Condition; the circumstances of a being or thing at any given time. These circumstances may be internal, constitutional or peculiar to the being, or they may have relation to other beings.

Reconciliation: Agreement of things seemingly opposite, different or inconsistent.

Scriptures

If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Heb. 4:3 MSG

And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Rom. 5:11 NKJV

Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever. Ps.  136:23 NKJV

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. 1 Cor. 7:23, 24

Personal Application

My natural, lowly state is not rest. I cannot strive for salvation so I must continue in this rest and allow God to work on my behalf. His wisdom is much more valuable to my life’s plans than mine is. My reconciliation with God is complete in my quiet rest.

This is definitely not easy for me, this resting. Ceasing from my labors is totally foreign to my natural flesh. There’s got to be some way I can strive to obtain, work to get, labor to achieve. But as long as I do this I am frustrated and exhausted. What I need done I cannot do and that is the hardest struggle of all.

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:30 NKJV

He has completed. I can rest. All is well.

Word Study Wednesday: train

Word studies are fun (really!) and they aren’t hard. You learn so much that after you get into the habit they can be addicting and a little like a tessellation, going on to seeming infinity. I’m joining in with some other BPA bloggers for Word Study Wednesdays, doing short and sweet word studies. There are four basic steps.

1. Define the word from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Underline the key words.

Train–To train or train up, to educate; to teach; to form by instruction or practice; to bring up.

2. Define those Key words

Educate–To bring up, as a child; to instruct; to inform and enlighten the understanding; to instill into the mind principles of arts, science, morals, religion and behavior. To educate children well is one of the most important duties of parents and guardians.

Teach–To instruct; to inform; to communicate to another the knowledge of that of which he was before ignorant.

Instruction–The act of teaching or informing the understanding in that of which it was before ignorant; information.

 

3. Look up scriptures regarding the key words

Train up a child in the way he should go,and when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov.22 NIV

Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. Ps. 86:11 MSG
Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do. Ex. 18:20 MSG
Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Deut. 11:19 MSG
4. Form a Personal Application
Train: I am to diligently perform the action (not passive) of teaching my children everywhere, at all times. I am to provide an alternative to ignorance, illuminating their minds to God’s word and world. What they learn is to be both enlightening and practical, applicable to every area of life.

Patience in the waiting

I am waiting. I am in a waiting season. I don’t like it much because I’m not very good at it, which is probably one reason for the waiting. Patience is a fruit that needs to abound in my life and there’s much to be said for letting patience have its “perfect work.”

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. Is. 40:31 The Message

This waiting isn’t a sitting around kind; it’s the restaurant kind. We wait by waiting: serving, working, cleaning, doing. But if you are like me you get your eyes off what you are waiting for and onto what you are doing. Then it becomes all about works and busyness and just plain old doing. That’s not what God intended for us. That’s not His best.

A dear friend explained waiting this way:

When you take your children on a trip and they are asking “are we there yet?” over and over, they don’t understand the process. So you give then something to do while you take them where you are going. God does that with us. We are not saved in the activity. The activity doesn’t get us there faster or differently. It’s simply keeping us busy as we wait for God to get us there.

Joyce Meyer says patience is not just biding time but keeping a good attitude while you are waiting. Patience really is a virtue. It’s going to sustain me in the waiting. So I will keep busy writing and praying and growing and learning and loving. My life doesn’t stop in the waiting, but it doesn’t change the process either. It’s a bonus that He uses even the waiting time for my good.


On naming the new year

Reading Ann’s post on her yearly ritual challenged and inspired me. I never had thought of doing that before but it makes sense. Naming a year seems to make it more purposeful, more important, more intimate.


So I set out to discover my own word for 2011. Like a child in a wondrous candy store, nose pressed, heated breath fogging the glass, I searched for the perfect word to summarize the focus of 2011. Would I choose something sweet and lemony like Refreshing? Maybe sugary satisfying Joy instead. Or would I select the licorice root Righteousness? Oh what a wonderful dilemma!

So while I prayerfully considered my choices I reviewed some of the scriptures that have spoken to my heart lately. Then it jumped out at me.

POUR

And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday. Is 58:10

I am poured out to be refilled.

It’s not simply “giving ’til it hurts” or until I am depleted. God doesn’t work that way. He gently and completely pours into us so that we can pour ourselves out again.

It’s such a beautiful thing when it comes full circle. Pouring to be refilled to pour out again. I am going to seek out ways to pour out to my family, my friends, the world, so that their needs might be met. And then getting refilled becomes the sweetest treat of all.

Maundy Monday Nov 3

When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God-made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.

– Marc Chagall

Gotta love the simplicity of that statement. Nothing more I can add to that but a hearty “Amen.” I think many artists (and patrons) today should refer to this quote—often. And for the art enthusiast and art novie–this quote can take the guesswork out of what qualifies as art. Love it.

Maundy Monday Oct 27

I know, it’s up a little late. My hubbie is out of town on business and I’m surprised how much his absence throws us off. We are really a team and I miss him when he’s not here. :( That said, let’s dive into our quote this week (emphasis hers):
It seems to me that the marks of personality–love, communication, and moral sensitivity–which are meant to sharpen as we are returning to communication with God, should lead to an increased rather than decreased creativity. The Christian should have more vividly expressed creativity in his daily life, and have more creative freedom, as well as the possibility of a continuing development in creative activities.
–Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

art by Wendy Allison

I must say that I love that book, but that is another discussion. :) I totally agree that as Christians, looking more like Christ includes increased creativity. It can’t be helped. It always makes me sad to hear Christians downplay their talents and dismiss the idea that they possess any creativity. It’s dismissing a part of you when you deny your creative self. Enjoy exploring your creative side. Take some risks. Ask the Holy Spirit for some inspiration and get out there and create something!

Maundy Monday Oct 20

A sincere artist is not one who makes a faithful attempt to put on to canvas what is in front of him, but one who tries to create something which is, in itself, a living thing.

I agree whole heartedly with Mr. Dobell. Even though we use different media, the principle is the same. As a Christian I strive for life in all my work because God is alive and I want Him to be in all of it. He created life, all living things. I strive, as I become more like Him, to also create things with His life. A book, a collage canvas, a clay pot are inanimate objects but when we allow God to participate in our work then it takes on a whole new dimension of life that other artists could not duplicate, not because we are great artists but because we collaborate with the Greatest Artist.

And He is not necessarily looking for me to recreate His creation, but for me to find my own interpretation of His handiwork. I love the impressionist masters’ abilities to look out on a landscape and see a whole other world of color, texture and design. I think that sort of individual voice makes God very happy.

For me this takes the pressure off. I am free to be me, using the perspective that God gave me. Together we can create living works that glorify Him on many levels.

Artful Maundy Monday Oct. 12

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.
–Michelangelo

I hope, as Christian artists do, that my work will somehow glorify God, and not always in the obvious ways. We strive for our works to speak to His essence, to His Spirit, even if it is not a “Christian” piece. If you allow God to work with you in your studio, His will be evident in some way in the finished product. And we will be changed as well, as we listen to His voice.

As Michelangelo may well have referred to the “divine perfection” of his subject, God as Creator of all still is the light source. He still receives the glory for His creation, whether the artist knows it or not. Beauty is God and displaying beauty in your art will always please Him, even if no one else ever sees it.

This is the first of a new post series on faith and art. Please feel free to comment and start a [respectful] discussion about Protestant Christian faith and art.