Glorious in Splendour

It was a sunny, cool, spring day. Perfect weather to visit Sydney’s Taronga zoo by the harbour. My friend, Lisa,  and I are both animal lovers and we were very keen to go and enjoy the variety of animals at this world class zoo. My favourite animals are giraffes and meerkats. Lisa’s favourite animal is the lion. As we studied the map of the zoo we worked towards a plan of winding our way around the zoo heading early on past the giraffes, stopping at the seal show, the bird show, heading past the meerkats until we were finally in the Big Cats section of the zoo. With the cool weather we were hoping the animals would be playful and easily seen. With much pleasure we toured slowly past koalas,  chimpanzees, elephants, penguins and a variety of other animals. The day was warming up slightly when we finally made it to the Big Cats section. Here we could view tigers, snow leopards and the lions. Lisa was so excited. We left the main walkway and followed the pathway into the Big Cats area. Gazing into the lion yard we could clearly see through the glass, several tawny toned lionesses sunning themselves sleepily. We took photos and spent some time enjoying them. We wondered where the lion was and we looked hopefully through the foliage to catch a glimpse of him, but to no avail. We decided to move on and come back again later. As we continued around the zoo we were getting tired and worn out. We had a walked a long way. It was now getting closer to the time when we would leave, so we decided to head back to the lions. I left Lisa on the main pathway and told her I would follow the footpath into the Big Cats area and if I saw the lion I would come back and get her. That way Lisa could rest a few minutes and not have to walk excessively. As I came to the lion cage I was very excited. There just several metres away was a magnificent lion sleeping in the sun. Tiredness was all forgotten. I started running and calling out, “Lisa!!!!” Suddenly her tiredness was erased from her mind and body and together we hurried in anticipation back to the lion cage. There sprawling in splendour was the lion. We were struck with awe at his beauty and as we watched he started to move. He slowly sat up. In his full regal magnificence he looked fully at Lisa. He was spectacular to behold. He was resplendent in his noble and kingly bearing. His colouring was a rich golden brown and his impressive mane held a variety of hues from flaxen to black. The joy of that moment in time has been imprinted on our souls.

The lion is a glorious animal, a symbol throughout history and folklore of power, courage and nobility. The Bible uses this symbol of the lion to represent Jesus.

  • Rev 5:4,5 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
  • The Bible says that Jesus is King of Kings in Revelation 19:16 “… He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
  • As a king Christ will one day end this world of suffering and sin and set up an eternal kingdom of peace and righteousness.
  • As I ponder the kingship and authority of Jesus I am called to question my own heart. Is Jesus King of my life? Does He have sole authority to which I surrender myself in love and adoration to His reigning goodness? Is *self* still on the throne of my heart?Am I trying to co-reign with Jesus? Am I fully surrendered in all areas of my life to my Lord and My King?
  • “Lord, thank you that You created me and gave me life. You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well. I praise You that I was created for good things. Help me to be renewed in the image of You, my creator. I know You made me to be so much more than I am now and that You will help me become all You created me to be. Thank you Jesus, that You are the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.Lord, You are King and Lord over all my life. I surrender everything I have to You because I recognize that every good thing I have has been given to me by You as a sign of your goodness, mercy, and love. Thank you that You are my provider and You provide everything I need.”  A Book of Prayer p153 by Stormie Omartian

Creating Sabbath Boxes


A popular post this week on the SDA Homeschool Families Facebook group has been Sabbath Boxes. Sabbath Boxes are very easy to create.

  • Take inventory of your children’s Bible books, Bible story books, and Sabbath School quarterlies.
  • Pick a story and then look through their toys. Playmobil, Lego, Duplo, Toobs, Schleich, building blocks, etc all make excellent props. Think outside the box, don’t feel boxed in just because they look modern.
  • Find backdrops: felt, maps, paper, fabric, Lego bases.
  • Find a container to hold your props. I always have an assortment on containers on hand for creating story boxes, workboxes, etc. You can use baskets, bags, whatever you have.
  • Find props that will allow your child to act out the story. Gather them into your container, read the story to your child, and let him act it out with the props.

I quickly put together this Tower of Babel box using these methods. I wanted to take more pictures for you, but I have a sick child and the wind was blowing my props across the table. I will put together more boxes in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back here for more ideas.


Breaking Free of the World’s Standards

This marks my 22nd year of homeschooling. It is also my last as my youngest son is in the process of finishing. It has been quite a journey. Part of me is sad to see it end. Part of me is ready to say goodbye to this phase of life. It’s been a life changing experience over the last 22 years.


When I first began, I had just finished my teaching degree. My oldest daughter was suffering psycho-somatic symptoms due to the change in schools from elementary to intermediate school. She was in 4th grade. Up to this point, my daughter had been allowed to do extra activities to keep from becoming bored. The year before, at the beginning of the school year, she had tested at 10th grade for math and everything else was higher. They wanted to advance her several grades. At that time I refused because I was concerned about the social aspect. I remember being the youngest freshman in a class of juniors and seniors and making the highest grades. I was teased and bullied unmercifully.


After six weeks of this torture of being told to just put her head down, I pulled her from the school to teach her at home. Thus begun my journey. I started with ‘school at home.’ I had a desk and text books for every subject. She did okay with that, but a few months later I pulled my sons out when we moved. They were not going to sit and do ‘school at home.’


I began reading homeschool books and attending support groups/conferences. Slowly I changed to a unit style of teaching. I would simply sit down with the kids and ask them what they wanted to study. This was fun. I learned things I never learned myself. I still had them do text books for math and science, but God was still working with me.


Then my youngest was born. He was different from the beginning. I still had in mind that we needed to follow ‘public school’ guidelines and time schedules. This belief created a lot of really bad days of frustration with screaming and crying. Later, this special blessing of mine was given a long list of labels. I was told he would never be able to function as a normal adult. I was told I would probably have to put him in a group home when I was tired of taking care of him. These professionals didn’t know his mama or his God.


From there, we embarked on a journey of a lifetime. After trying a couple of packaged ‘hands-on’ curriculums, I decided to toss things aside and go with my gut. We sat and made a list of topics he wanted to learn about. From there, I would download some lapbook unit studies to use as a loose guide. He hated doing the writing part, but was okay with some of the activities.


As he got older, I kept being asked about what grade he was at. I had no idea how to answer that since he had some serious learning challenges. I knew I needed some type of guide as to what I wanted him to know before he left my home. That’s what I did. I created a list of skills I wanted him to know; skills that I felt were important for him to function as an adult in society. I didn’t worry about whether he studied a certain subject by a certain age/grade. I simply went by what I wanted him to know before graduating.


For him to learn these skills, I used various venues such as the Pathfinder program and honors, 4-H, and Scouts. In my opinion, these programs gave basic information in all the fields that a child needed to know in order to be successful in life. They are basically hands-on also. Other things I used were educational videos and reading out loud to him. He loved watching documentaries. For history, he listed to CDs and watched hours of videos. He loves history. He can talk at great length on ancient history on up to today. He can tell about all the presidential terms and what the strengths/weaknesses were of each president. For science and math, we used resources such as Khan Academy and Netflix and Discovery Channel shows. There are an increasing number of free video resources covering basic topics.


As he reached high school age, I decided to create credit sheets based loosely on Barb Sheldon’s program. He would read or watch assigned videos covering the topics I assigned. Then we would discuss what he studied. Because of some of his challenges, I do not require that much report writing. For English, I do require some basic reports, but not all that many. I asked myself, ‘What does he really need to be able to do to fulfill his career goals?’


With that question in mind, I developed the requirements I wanted him to be able to know before graduating. Since he wants to be an outdoor guide, I knew what math he would need; what science he would need; and what health info he would need (for emergencies, etc). He is also learning about edible wild plants and emergency rescue. I capitalize on his interests. He can sit and watch hours of camping/survival type of movies. I simply turn these into topics to study for school. We talk about what he learned and how it can be applied in real life.


Since math is his biggest challenge, I cut everything out that did not deal with math in the real world. He needed to know how to balance a checkbook and develop a budget. I used a business math type of curriculum with supplemental materials to help him learn how to figure mathematical problems in camping (distance and height). What really helped in math life skills is when he became treasurer for his 4-H club for two years. He went from someone who could not save a penny to someone who is very careful with money.


Another example: I had trouble teaching cause and effect. He took robotics in 4-H. From there, he learned how to think about his actions and what the possible outcome could be. This is still a challenge in some areas but not like when he was younger. Raising goats taught responsibility and animal care, and even diet/anatomy. I could go on to list many examples of how these various youth programs helped him to develop to the young man he is today.


In my college training, I learned to use whatever works in communicating with Deaf kids. This is the philosophy I learned to take when teaching my very special son. I learned to stop looking at the world’s guidelines but to look at what God had for him to do/learn. Over the years, he has done hundreds of hours of community service. He has learned to help those in need without even a second thought. He has learned to think about his beliefs and why he believes that, and to stand up for those beliefs.


Now, as he nears his 18th birthday, he is finishing his Eagle project (collecting items for homeless vets); he is president of his 4-H club; he is actively involved in district level 4-H leadership; and he is a junior counselor in our local Pathfinder club. He is no longer the little boy I was told would have to be placed in a home and never be able to function normally as an adult. Are all the challenges gone? No. However, he has learned the skills needed to be a success on the path that God has set for him. He has learned to love God and his fellow man.


Could this have happened if I had followed the ‘school at home’ technique? No. Even when following canned ‘unit’ study curriculums, there was so much frustration that school was a battle. I had to break free from what others thought I should do. I spent hours praying and researching before I allowed myself to just go with what I thought would work.


I hope that if you are blessed with a very special child who does not fit the world’s definition of ‘normal,’ that you will allow yourself the same freedom to educate your child in a way that will allow him/her to fulfill their God-given potential.


The Shut Door

We were on a long drive of several hours from Sydney International Airport back to our home. We had picked up my friend who had flown in from a long fourteen hour flight from San Francisco. After driving for several hours we really needed to stop and use the rest rooms. We located a small petrol station that had restrooms. My friend, Lisa, and I went to the one and only female rest room and stopped at the door. It was shut and the vacant/ engaged dial was slightly turned. We waited and waited. No one came out. Lisa stepped closer to the door. She listened carefully. She was sure she could hear running water. I was sure I could hear it too. “Oh good,” we said, “ She is washing her hands.” We waited and we waited. Lisa kept announcing the running water and we kept waiting. Then we started to doubt. Maybe it was just a leaking toilet we could hear. Maybe we were  mistaken. Lisa tried to turn the door knob but it wouldn’t turn. It appeared to be locked. So we waited and waited some more.  By now we were really looking longingly at the rest room door and starting our own little dance. Then I finally looked at the door and discovered a sign on it. It read “Please ask staff for the key to the public rest room”. We discussed the issue of the key. There was no lock on the door in which one could insert a key. So we waited and waited some more. Eventually it dawned on me that maybe asking the staff for the key even when it appeared illogical was a good idea. Off to the counter I went and asked. The friendly staff quickly explained that the door was not locked and all one had to do was push on the door. I went back to Lisa, who was pacing beside the rest room door, and with a great flourish I stood beside the door and with one push of my hand the door was open revealing an empty rest room. We laughed so much about that incident.

That funny experience made me stop and consider God’s word. How often do I have a problem and then try and think of the many different ways to solve it, but all to no avail? Do I come to God’s Word and stop to read the “Instructions” that will enable me to know how to solve the problem? Do I read the “Instructions” and then to my finite mind they appear to not agree with my own reasoning? Why not read the “Instructions” and go straight to the One who wrote the “Instructions” and receive His wise counsel?

God calls to me to come and talk things over with Him. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD…”

Isa 30:21 “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.”

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, and reproaches not; and it shall be given him.

It’s Curriculum Fair Time Again!


Musings of a Retired Home School Mom

When I first started homeschooling I could only shop for curriculum by mail. I started planning my next school year as soon as the new curriculum catalogs would arrive. I would get out a notebook and decide what subjects I would be covering, then go through the catalogs picking out what I wanted to order.

While I wanted to be that Unit Study Homeschooler, I simply didn’t have the resources to do it. Our local library had a very limited selection of books, with no inter-library loan available. The internet didn’t exist yet, so there was no access to the multitude of online resources that are out there now. I came up with the idea of using textbooks as a guideline of what to study, then supplementing them with whatever videos and books I could find at the library that went along with our studies. I also tried to implement craft projects and field trips to make what we were studying more interesting and fun.

Picking out textbooks from a catalog, sight unseen, can be a tricky experience. I have been known to start using one textbook, decide it wasn’t the direction we wanted to go, and then switch to a totally different one. (And no, it didn’t ruin my children, though at first I wondered if I was doing the right thing.)

I first learned about curriculum fairs through my state homeschooling organization’s newsletter. I was so excited! As I read further I discovered that I wouldn’t be able to attend because it started on Friday evening and ran through the Sabbath, ending early on Saturday evening. The next year it started a little earlier on Friday. If I got there as soon as the doors opened I would have two hours to shop!

You might think that doesn’t sound like much time, and it wasn’t; but back then it was a very small event. There weren’t very many vendors, but it was wonderful to be able to open the books and thumb through them before making any purchasing decisions. Every year the events grew bigger and bigger, and started earlier and earlier on Fridays, until I was finally able to make a whole day of it.

I can’t imagine how overwhelming it would have been to be a new homeschooler and walk into a large curriculum fair for the first time. Even as an experienced homeschooler the multitude of choices can still be a lot to take in at one time. Here are a few things that I found over the years that helped me to focus and make my day at the curriculum fair a productive one:

  • Make a list of books you are considering using for each subject ahead of time. Research them before you go. Read online reviews by other homeschoolers to get an idea of the pros and cons. Make note of the lowest prices, taking into consideration shipping charges.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Take a fanny pack or something to carry your basic essentials (money, credit card, driver’s license, etc.) in order to keep your hands free for flipping through pages, jotting down notes, and crossing items off your list.
  • Take something, such as a rolling suitcase, to cart your purchases around. I bought a rolling homeschool cart that folded up small for storage at home when I wasn’t using it.
  • When you get to the fair, take care of the things on your list first, but don’t buy anything yet. Make note of the prices on your list. Once you have checked out all of the items on your list you will be free to browse the other booths to see what’s out there. I have gone to fairs thinking I wanted one thing, only to discover something new and exciting that I bought instead.
  • Once you are ready to buy, compare the curriculum fair prices to the research you did at home. If you can get a deal go ahead and buy. If not, go home and order.
  • Don’t take your children unless you have someone to help with them so you can focus on the business at hand. Often my husband would go along to help with the kids and we would make it a family day. The kids would get to buy something fun for themselves and we’d eat out afterward as a special treat.
  • Don’t forget to take advantage of the workshops while you are there. If there are workshops that overlap and you want to take in both, look into buying recordings of the sessions you can’t attend. There is so much to learn from other homeschoolers at these fairs. Don’t pass up the opportunity while you are there.

My curriculum fair days are over, for the time being. Not too far in the future I hope I will have the opportunity to go again with my daughter when she starts the homeschooling journey with my granddaughter. Once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler!