Breaking Tradition (in a Nontraditional Way)

As most of the northern hemisphere is under a blanket of cold, white snow, the rest of us celebrate this time of year in the warmth of the sun. I wish a Merry Christmas to everyone reading this, no matter what part of the world you are in. This time of year, many of our homeschooling families are visiting with relatives and friends, whether that involves traveling or staying near home.

I dread writing articles around holidays, because they always seem so cliché to me. Today, I’m going to break tradition and write about something completely off-topic with Christmas.

Fun Fact: Jesus was not born this day, but did you know the renowned mathematician and scientist, Isaac Newton, was born this day in 1642?

Can you imagine science or math without Isaac Newton? He is recognized for his works, such as Newton’s laws of motion, universal gravitation, and his description of gravity. He changed how scientists view the solar system and the shape of the earth, developed the theory of color, and built the first telescope!

Just look at the amazing telescopes we have now, such as the Hubble Space telescope, launched into space by NASA in 1990. This telescope is the size of a large school bus, weighs as much as two adult elephants, and travels around Earth approximately five miles per second! This telescope has found hundreds of galaxies, discovered moons around planets, watched stars being born and die, and much more. (If you would like to view the Hubble, follow this link.) My favorite star pattern, or constellation, is Orion. This is because the constellation is mentioned a few times in the Bible, it has a unique and easily recognizable pattern, and has quite a powerful significance in the coming of Jesus! First, a few scriptures to share regarding Orion:

Job 9:9 – Who makes the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south?
Job 38:31 – Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion?
Amos 5:8 – He who made the Pleiades and Orion and changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens the day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is His name.
Isaiah 13:10 – For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light.

It’s amazing that even in scripture, the constellations and solar system remind us of God’s glory and incredible creative power! Not only that, but through Ellen G. White we have an incredible picture of just how special this constellation is: “Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. The clouds parted and rolled back; then we could look up through the open space in Orion, where God’s voice came from. Heaven will come down through that ‘open space,” adapted from Early Writings, p. 42. I encourage you to visit this link to read more of this vision she writes of — Orion.

Also, if you have children of Pathfinder ages (10-16), I really suggest earning the Stars honor! It’s super fun and a great thing to include in their studies of science.

God is amazing. He chose to share His wonderful creation with us, His beautiful, created children. I am honestly overwhelmed in the splendor we get to witness as a result of people He has given the gift of discovery to, such as Isaac Newton. Through these beautiful, scientific solar discoveries, and with the message from His messengers, we can truly be looking for His coming in a nontraditional way!

My prayer is that, through science, we gain a deeper insight to the wonder that is our God. Thank you for reading along. Whatever your plans are for the day, enjoy!

p.s. For a fun family activity, try making a solar scene with paints, poster board, and various sized lids/bowls/cups. Just click on these YouTube links: Galaxy, Planets. (Don’t forget to use safety gear where needed, especially if you are going to use spray paint!) I seriously had so much fun with this project during a Pathfinder leader convention! 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton

https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-the-hubble-space-telecope-k4.html

http://www.whiteestate.org/vez/jul08/did%20you%20know.htm

http://www.pathfindersonline.org/honors/nature/186-stars

Holidays

People who read this blog come from many countries, and have different backgrounds. Some are new Adventists, and some have been for many years or all their lives. Because there are a lot of different beliefs regarding how holidays are celebrated, I thought I’d share some quotes from Adventist Home, by Ellen White, that have helped our family and others understand how she thought they should be kept.

“I saw that our holidays should not be spent in patterning after the world, yet they should not be passed by unnoticed, for this will bring dissatisfaction to our children. On these days when there is danger that our children will be exposed to evil influences and become corrupted by the pleasures and excitement of the world, let the parents study to get up something to take the place of more dangerous amusements. Give your children to understand that you have their good and happiness in view,” (AH pg.472 & 1T pg.514,515).

We should not just let the days pass by, but provide something good for them. Specifically about Christmas she says, “As the twenty-fifth of December is observed to commemorate the birth of Christ, as the children have been instructed by precept and example that this was indeed a day of gladness and rejoicing, you will find it a difficult matter to pass over this period without giving it some attention. It can be made to serve a very good purpose… The desire for amusement, instead of being quenched and arbitrarily ruled down, should be controlled and directed by painstaking effort upon the part of the parents. Their desire to make gifts may be turned into pure and holy channels and made to result in good to our fellow men by supplying the treasury in the great, grand work for which Christ came into our world. Self-denial and self-sacrifice marked His course of action. Let it mark ours who profess to love Jesus because in Him is centered our hope of eternal life,” (AH pg 478 & RH Dec.9, 1884).

Let us take these days, especially holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and teach our children that these events in the life of Jesus (birth & death) are for our salvation, and we should share this with others.

In the U.S. we celebrate Independence Day, July 4, with parades and fireworks, and our harvest festival is called Thanksgiving because the pilgrims were thankful to have made it here that first year. What important days are recognized in your country? What are some holidays, Christmas and others, that you celebrate, and how do you celebrate them?

I invite you to share ways that you are teaching your children to give to others.

Surefooted After the Holidays

dreamstime_xl_35184731 Sure-foot’ed, adjective

  1. unlikely to stumble or slip
  2. confident and competent

I don’t know about you, but I feel lacking in confidence after the holidays when it comes to our home school. We’ve spent much of the last two months absorbed in holiday cooking, do-it-yourself gift making, weekly church musical practices, etc. AND…I did count those as learning opportunities of course! But, at this point in time, I am eager to get my feet back on the ground and into routine with a new focus.

I do love the holidays and the warm early evenings indoors with a good book and my little people gathered around to listen. That being said, I also will admit that holidays stress me out a tad because I get anxious we may lose sight of the true meaning of these events while getting caught up in the pace the world tries to set for us. And so every year, I plan ways we might make these events a blessing to those around us, and an opportunity to be blessed in return. But, this post is about how to gain a strong footing again if we’ve found ourselves losing balance post holiday flurry.

cozyfeet

Count Your Blessings

After you’ve cleaned up and put away the holiday decor, serving ware, etc., have a family date night where you make cookies again (to enjoy for yourselves) and reminisccookiedatenitee over the holiday season and what you’ve enjoyed most so far, and the looks on the faces of those you saw open gifts, or experiences you were happy to share with others. Talk about what you’d like to do again the following year and what it meant to each family member.

Make New Goals

Yes, I do make new years resolutions! I’m saying pick three things you want to do before winter’s over, like go sledding or snowshoeing or make ice cream out of snow — some fun activities that don’t cost money that you can do as a family to continue to enjoy this time of year that you may not have had time or snow to do so before the holidays. This year I’m hoping to try ice skating, which I haven’t done for ages. I also love to pick some personal goals in our home school for each family member, and this year I have some fun ideas which I plan on posting in January as we embark to pursue them.

Declutter and Organize

No matter how much I commit to having a simpler Christmas every year, we always are blessed beyond my imagination, and after the holidays I take the opportunity to find a place for each thoughtful item gifted. The children and I evaluate where we will keep our newly acquired treasures, and often they use this time also to donate items they are replacing or no longer want/need. This sort of coincides with the for-every-item-in-one-goes-out thinking. We do a scan of gently used items we can donate to local charity before the holidays so those things can be a blessing to others in need. But, we often can do it again post gift-giving season. When everyone in the home has received new items, I tend to get overwhelmed if we do not do this final step in closing out the year. “A place for everything and everything in its place!”

I pray these three simple steps help you find a sure footing in your homeschool journey as you prepare for another year of adventure learning beside your precious pupils. May the love we shared over the holidays, as we took comfort in the birth of our Savior and gave thanks over the many things He has done for us, shine forth afresh from our homes and the hearts of each member residing therein!

Blessings,

Allison

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The Why of Jesus’ Birth

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6.

In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, do we take the time to really think about what the birth of Jesus is all about? There’s also the confusion with the fact that the day we celebrate His birth has its roots in a pagan day.  While we know that Christmas is not the true day of Christ’s birth, we need to understand why He was born at all. Why didn’t Jesus just come down from heaven and live a week or so, then be killed and rise a day or so later? Wouldn’t that have saved us?

With all the controversy over Christmas — from the view that it is totally pagan and should never be celebrated, to the view that it’s roots are insignificant and it should be fully celebrated — maybe we should change our focus to why Jesus would come as baby at all.

As I have pondered why Jesus would come to this earth and be born as a baby, I have seen an importance that we usually miss or pass over lightly. We often look at the cross as being the only thing for our salvation. The cross gives us the forgiveness we need, but His birth gives us the reason and strength to learn how to live godly lives. The why of Jesus’ birth is to give us the desire and strength to live our lives with the connection to Heaven that Jesus had, and to give us the victory over our sinful ways. To have this connection with God in our daily life, as Jesus did, will give us the strength to overcome. This should be something we do every day, so we should celebrate Jesus birth and death every day. Both are vital to our salvation in our lives day by day.

As we enjoy this Christmas season, after all the celebrations and dinners are over, let us not lose the importance of what Jesus came for, and remember His birth every day.

Christmas Peace for the Homeschool Mom

As Christmas approaches, our house becomes alive with excitement. It’s as if even the logs in our little cabin vibrate with delight. Our little family is one that celebrates Christmas. We open presents, read books about Santa, and bake brownies for the police and fire departments, among other things, but we also have friends who don’t celebrate Christmas. We have friends that just use the holiday season to spend time with family, and we think that is also a fantastic use of holiday time.

Despite someone’s holiday traditions, Christmas beliefs, plans, or none at all, it seems that it still ends up being a stressful time for a lot of families. This can be especially true of homeschool families.

While school teachers are busying themselves meeting goals and completing tasks before the end of the semester, homeschool parents are busy trying to squeeze units in before the holidays, or trying to make them stretch until the holidays. The holidays bring other stressors for our little homesteading family—weather changes, food prep, winterizing the house, preparing shelters for the animals, maintenancing the cars, planning for spring, extra costs for travel, and more. At a time when things should be calm and enjoyable, time seems to speed up, and this homesteading, homeschool mama starts to lose the race before it even begins.

Christmas Peace

This November I began reading a book written by a local friend called Christmas Peace for Busy Moms, and it has been a wonderful experience. It’s a five-week study that brings God into our daily life, to offer the peace we long for during the holidays: a peaceful heart, a peaceful day, peaceful relationships, peaceful surroundings, and a peaceful holiday. This is important stuff!

I spoke at church this week on the topic of prayer, and during the course of the sermon, I realized myself that prayer is the means by which I can find peace. It’s not just by reading a book, doing a Bible study, or even fellowshipping with other Christians. Prayer.

Prayer is how we bring God to us. He wants to be with us, and we often do a lot of things to stand in the way. During this holiday season I’m going to try my best to bring God into our homeschool experience through prayer. Yes, we do other things. We try to participate in the Adventurers program, and we go to Sabbath School and church. We also try to read the Bible at home (which ends up being Bible stories from books), and we like to learn memory verses.

To be completely honest, though, a lot of these things add to my stress. Planning adds to my stress. Driving 50+ miles to church three times a week adds to my stress, even finding time to sit down with a book every day adds to my stress, and I want peace.

Christmas Prayer

Because I want the peace that only Jesus can offer, I am prepared to begin a new holiday tradition this year. I’ve tried advent calendars and other fun traditions like unwrapping and reading a Christmas book every night for 25 days. These things are fun, but again, they add to my stress. This year I’ll try something different, something with less work, and abundant rewards.

Since we pray as a family each evening already, I’m going to start a Christmas tradition that will take little planning. It’ll be focused directly on Jesus and only on Jesus, and it’ll bring Him closer to us. Since I’m sure you’re dying to hear it, here is the plan:

  1. Prepare 25 prayer cards surrounding a topic of your choice (emergency services, our country, our church, our pets, our mailman, sick friends, the sky is the limit).
  2. Connect the 25 prayer topics in some way with the Christmas story (compare public servants with shepherds, pets=animals in the stable, mailman=angel/messenger, the church=the stable, etc.).
  3. Connect the 25 prayer topics with Jesus! (Finding a verse is a good idea. For instance, portions of Psalm 91 would connect with emergency services/protection, and various verses in Genesis would connect with pets. You can also decide to just use verses from the Christmas story here).
  4. Write down your children’s prayer requests and place them into a request basket (or homemade manger). Read them each night and celebrate and thank God when they are answered.
  5. Print a coloring sheet off for each day. Make 25 sheets times the number of kids you have. Easy peasy. I’m starting with a simple coloring sheet this year, and may do a craft next year. Time will tell!
  6. Make notes and put into your envelopes at the end of the day to remind yourself what worked and what didn’t! Adjust next year, or scrap it altogether.

Do you have to have special traditions to make Christmas special? No.

Just like Jesus makes Sabbath special, He makes Christmas special. He makes every day special. Let’s invite Him back into the festivities. After all, He’s the Reason for the Season!