Memorize More Scripture!

In our home we are resurrecting our memorizing muscles! They have atrophied with disuse lately, I am ashamed to say. Life goes that way. Important things get squeezed into the background by other duties that scream louder for our attention.

But, quietly, the Holy Spirit keeps whispering, “You need to hide God’s word in your heart. You need to teach your children to do this too.” And, I am determined to listen and work little by little on fortifying the fortresses of our minds with Bible verses.

Why bother, in this age of instant apps, smartphones that hold the entire Bible in our pockets, and every imaginable tool to study the Bible? The only answer is BY FAITH. We are so lazy. We would rather click our phones than unzip our Bible cover and find a page. We’d rather search any app than search for a topic in the Word. And, our minds are shrinking with all this instant access to everything. I think that it makes us lazy spiritually. We just shrink from any hard work. But, by faith we have to override all of this ease, and remember that one day we are quite likely to have our Bibles taken away from us. What about when we lose power permanently for standing strong for God’s law? If we have only made the habit of clicking on the EGW app or the Bible app and not downloaded them into our permanent memory banks, we will be empty in many ways. We need the Bible to help us fight against temptation, so that we can meet Satan with “It is written,” and not just our own strength.

So, we must make the habit of memorizing the Bible. One verse at a time. We are told that our minds will strengthen as we put forth our efforts.

In light of all of this, I thought I would share a few resources that have been helpful to our family as we have worked on Scripture memorization. Currently, we are working together on Matthew 4:1-11, or how Jesus met temptation. I chose this one because we want to know how we can follow His example and succeed in our areas of weakness.

Listen to this talk first! 

The talk above is by Chad Kruezer, and it has been a real inspiration to me. I’d also recommend reading the chapter in Great Controversy about the Waldenses if you want to get inspired. Check out how many chapters Fanny Crosby had memorized — five chapters per WEEK!! She could recite the entire Pentateuch, all four Gospels, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and many Psalms chapter and verse. All this being blind! Makes me wonder what’s wrong with my memory! Disuse is the only excuse.

Another resource we have found inspiring is the book, Ten Peas in a Pod, by Arnold Pent. It tells the amazing story of a family who homeschooled before it was called that, and who made Bible reading and memorization such a part of their everyday life that several of the children memorized many whole chapters and books of the Bible. It is a great read-aloud for your family and it will entertain as well as inspire!

If you need another inspiring account of a family who got their children into memorizing, here is one. The author/mom shows how she helped her children to successfully memorize the book of James.

This is a good book about scripture memorization that will give you tips, reasons, and stories to inspire you. The book is on sale for only $3. I paid more several years ago, but I think they just want to get them out to people!

If you have a Kindle, or any device where you can install the Kindle app, then there is a book that we have found to be quite helpful. You can find it in the Kindle Store. The reason this particular book is helpful is because it contains the entire Bible, divided by book, which is not so rare; many online Bibles offer this, I know. But, this book has the advantage for memorizes of offering an option where, once you have your verses on the screen, you can may either read the typed out verses, or click on the number of the verse to change the text into first letter only (see the photo below). This way you can jog your memory of the verse or passage without seeing the whole words, which gives your mind a chance to remember what’s coming next.

Here is the option of first letter only verses.

It works similarly to the way I memorize without the book. I write my verses on one side of an index card, and on the other side I just write the first letters. Then when I review them, I have cues, but not answers.

Scripturetyper.com This app is such a wonderful resource!  You can use the website online or download the app. You can add verses/chapters and join groups if you want. It saves your verses and gives you a reminder to review them at intervals. This is good for everyone! Our boys like to practice their verses often when we get into memorizing! You have several options for how to memorize and review your verses. You can just type the whole verse out, you can type using just the first letters, or you can have certain words blanked out on your screen so that you have to remember those words, while the words typed in will help you as you go along. It remembers your speed, and you can challenge yourself to keep improving your speed and accuracy. PSST…don’t tell your kids, but this also sneaks in a little typing along with the Bible memorization! We have the Scripture Typer Pro, which allows us to install it on five devices, so we can all be using it at the same time, wherever we are! It is well worth the price.

Thy Word Creations produces nice books that help you to memorize whole portions of scripture or whole chapters. They have well-known chapters set to music with a CD. These have been invaluable in our home. Every song that we have learned in this way we still have memorized years later! I am including the product webpage, and an amazon.com link, since it looks like many are not in stock on the webpage.

Thy Word Creations website—children’s projects

Teen and adult products

Amazon link

The following website offers a phone number to obtain Bible memory verse songs that go along with the My Bible First Kindergarten and Primary lessons.

My Bible First

This link is a resource for memorizing the entire chapter of Psalm 119. I do not have it yet, but have listened to the samples and they are very nice! This is my next project! Our son started memorizing Psalm 119 and almost had it down, with no ”help” like this CD, until he got sick. With a little brushing up, I know he will have it mastered. You can download the album or purchase the audio CD. I am always amazed at the talent that some people have to be able to set these passages to nice music.

There is an app that last I knew was free, and used to be available for both iOS and Android. Now I am not seeing it updated on the App Store, which makes me sad. I am including it here, on the chance that they will decide to update it, since it is a wonderful app. This app is put out by Fountainview Academy, and has hundreds of songs from the KVJ Bible put to music. Lovely music. The app is Scripture Singer. I really enjoy it and still have it downloaded onto my old phone.

There are probably hundreds of resources and tips for memorizing the Bible. I have just listed ones we have used with success from time to time. One of the best ways to have success is to join with friends who also want to memorize, because then you have accountability. Our best times memorizing have been when we had a little group who met weekly and memorized together. So much easier than when you feel like no one will know whether you succeed or not!

Feel free to share any ideas you have as well, because we are all here to help each other!

Three Steps to Organize Your Homeschool

Hanging File Folders

Organization is of utmost importance when homeschooling. In fact, getting organized for the school year will help both the child and the parent stay on task better. If you find yourself or your child getting frustrated, it may be because you need to organize a little better. As a mom, caregiver, wife, and entrepreneur, I have to stay ahead in order to make sure that schooling is prioritized in our home. Here are three tips that help me and my family stay on track the most.

Weekly Folders

Before the school year started I planned out the first semester. Early on, I realized that I didn’t want my business to affect information and lessons my children were taught. I also knew that I would have a lot on my plate that could change at any moment. Therefore, I went through my lesson plans and printed everything that I could, related to the subjects I planned to teach during the entire semester. I separated each folder by week. For instance our first semester is weeks 1-18. The hanging file folder system gives my kids an opportunity to go to their folder and then choose which assignments they will complete first.

Weekly folders for homeschool organization

Daily Folders

After my daughter’s choose their assignments, they put them in daily folders. The daily folders help provide more autonomy. Monday through Thursday they can choose their morning work, and then on Thursday I look at what has or has not been completed yet.

The beauty of this method is that my kids feel like they have a choice regarding what they study. It also helps prevent them from having to wait for me to explain everything daily. In the mornings after we have devotion, they can get started on their folder work on their own. Then, after an hour or so, I teach a new lesson or help explain information that they need help with. In addition, the folder work is a great addition for our portfolio and helps reinforce different lessons.

An Area for Completed Work

Having a completed work area is hugely important in my home, mainly because our state requires us to keep a school portfolio for our children/students. The completed work area helps my kids know exactly where to put their work so I can grade it in a timely manner. It also helps them be more responsible with their own papers, and keeps papers from getting lost around the house.

After four years of homeschooling, this is the system that has worked best for me and my two daughters. 1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” When you’re homeschooling life can be overwhelming at times, so finding a way to stay organized can help keep the entire family in a better mood. While all three may not work for your family, the cool thing about homeschooling is that you have the freedom to tweak and use the tips that work for you, and ignore those that don’t.

My Rationale for Homeschooling

I have sometimes been asked out of curiosity, sometimes out of frustration, “How long do you intend to homeschool?” My children are 11 and 7, and we have been homeschooling since they were 4 years old and 11 months old.

Homeschooling is not always the most attractive option or the most financially viable; however, it is the only option for our family.

I never forget the evening I picked the children up from nursery, and my son said, “Mom, why did you take so long?” Traffic was especially heavy that day, and I was the last parent to arrive.

I decided to homeschool before I knew who I would marry or if I would be able to have children. Therefore, my son’s question hit a painful place. That night I prayed for a way, and the next day it was provided. I could work freelance in social work education while homeschooling. It has not been easy, but we have never regretted our decision.

To answer the question “how long will you homeschool,” I have many reasons. I will share some of my rationale for homeschooling here.

  1. I get to spend all day with my children every day — not the usual hour in the morning and hour before bedtime. I value this time. We grow together and learn to understand each other.
  2. I get to offer one-to-one support to the ones that need focused attention in particular areas.
  3. I get to foster my children’s interest and provide an environment where they can excel at the things they are naturally good at.
  4. We get to explore gifts and talents, and negotiate ways to develop them.
  5. My values that are important get taught. A strong sense of values grounds them in the sense of identity and helps them understand and appreciate who they are.
  6. Character is important, and we focus on helping the children develop Christ-like characters that will be beneficial here and in the world to come.
  7. I get to listen unhurriedly to their joys and sorrows, and help teach them problem-solving skills in a safe environment.
  8. My children learn life skills at an early age. I have seen the importance of this in adults, and have worked with hundreds who lack necessary skills with which to navigate life.
  9. I love seeing the confidence with which my children approach life. Research shows that healthy attachment is needed as it gives children a secure place from which to explore the world. Homeschooling lends itself well to developing a stable relationship with the children.
  10. We learn to grow and have fun together.

Perhaps some of these things could be accomplished while working full time, but I prefer the opportunity to give them the chance to learn and grow at their pace while developing their gifts and talents.

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

Homeschool Seasons and Why We Sometimes Need to Fake It ’til We Make It!

As a blog writer for this group, and for my personal blog, I have never before experienced the writer’s block that I am currently going through.

I am a week late on my deadline, and not for unconcern. I do not take my commitment to this group lightly. Through the past month, I have frequently had ideas for blog articles buzzing around in my mind, but when the time came for me to harness them, they just didn’t seem to fit. So, I am going to write from my heart, and pray that what I share will connect with someone out there.

Sometimes on a homeschool page like this one, we present information, and it seems like we are some sort of experts on the homeschooling process. Just forget about that portrayal. I can assure you that when we share anything, it is because we have tried many ideas and finally found one that has worked, or that we hope will work out. We might not share the umpteen flops, failures, and moments of sheer desperation that led us to our “instant successes.”

This school year I prayed for opportunities for our boys to learn practical skills. I meant that prayer. But, I had no idea how that would play out. Even that is an understatement. My husband and I made plans for apprenticeship opportunities, in controlled settings, at predictable times, in mind for learning skills. I would drop off our eldest for a couple of hours with a mechanic, and go pick him up, or something like that. The details hadn’t materialized, but we had plans. Beware of plans. Of course, we have to make plans, but just be careful about holding too tightly to them.

You see, we had other plans too, plans which involved property, dabbling in homesteading, and clearing land. We had plans to ease into a “build-as-you-can” project, and slowly work our way into our off-grid Home-Sweet-Home. Through some unanticipated life turns, we suddenly realized that we would need to crank up the schedule of land preparation, and that “easing into it” would change to “get it in gear!”

The high-gear stage began when we needed to rent a piece of heavy machinery to help with the clearing. When you’re paying for a big machine, everything begins to revolve around efficiency so that you don’t waste rental hours. That’s sort of when homeschool began also to revolve around whatever we needed to do to “get ‘er done!”  Early hours, late nights, and a picnic every day became the norm, since the property is about an hour away from our home. We all got a sudden immersion into the ins and outs of putting in septic lines, rock characteristics, soil types, and so on.

This process has been exciting in many ways. After all, we prayed that God would lead us to a piece of country property, and He did. When we chose this property, we knew full well that to make it work, we would have to put in lots of work, and even that seemed like part of the romantic charm of carving out our own homestead, like in the olden days. We were all on board, eager, and gung-ho! Every day was a new challenge, but we knew that we would figure it out. Our boys suddenly had the chance to jump in and learn some practical skills as the oldest two ran the transit for the leveling of the septic lines, and everyone got to help install the field line components. Progress was clicking along pretty well, considering all of the rock we encountered. We got our garden and greenhouse site prepared, and holes dug for our orchard — 3x3x3 so we can plant them the Ellen White Method, that the angel showed her in a dream.  I remember standing up at the top of our property in the future garden, and thrilling as I looked over the wooded hills, just feeling blessed. It was my mountaintop time, when faith was easy.

Life is not all mountaintops, though, and as my husband had to go out of town for work, the full responsibility suddenly rested on me. This was fine, with what we initially had planned to accomplish. Then, additional projects popped up that needed immediate decisions.  Every day another challenge came that eventually left my head spinning, as I tried to make important decisions on the fly, figure out yet another DIY project, purchase supplies, and just keep life running. Let me say that I totally get the fast food concept now. I’m afraid Taco Bell became a more regular part of our lives, and home-cooked meals have become more a rarity than our regular fare.

This season has honestly been the most stressful season of homeschool that we have gone through, and are currently involved in. When I have more projects on my plate than I know how to deal with, I short circuit, and then we certainly experience the trickle-down effect through the ranks. As challenge after challenge has hit, I have seen myself at close to my worst. I have analyzed what we should and could be doing differently, but just keep coming back to the fact that life right now is not our ideal situation, but we have to keep plugging away. I have cried many times, overwhelmed with what new thing we must handle. And, I am finding that it is not always the biggest challenges that I crumble under, but the little annoyances — the loud noises when my mind screams for some silence, and the mental load of trying to understand multiple projects simultaneously.

In the last months, we have stacked up the projects, leaving little time for quiet reflection. As the mental pressures pile up, I found myself unable to process much more mentally, so I have been so grateful that my boys know how to cook. When I hear, “Mom, what’s for breakfast?” before I even have a chance to get the cobwebs out of my head, I am thankful when they just make it happen so that I don’t have to make another decision. My mind has been stuffed with septic line assembly, dump truck rental, fruit tree placement, hole size, distance and diameter, house site clearing, basement excavation, footer dimensions, root cellar placement and size, finances, sick child, phone that quit making calls, floor plans, mud and rain, driveway excavation, packing, and employee coordination. Then our sink and countertop failed us, and we found out just how poor we are at “figuring out” DIY.  Did I mention school? Allll this without Dad! Literally, when our month of focused excavation was completed, our eldest asked me what we were going to do the next day. I replied, “School.” “Only school?” he asked. “Yes.” He let out an audible sigh of relief at “only school,” and I realized that we all were just completely exhausted, physically and mentally.

The more overwhelmed I felt, the more time I noticed myself turning to Facebook. I realized it was/is an escape for me, and a natural way to “interact” while my husband and I have had decreased communication because of distance. I enjoy catching up, but I realized that my already overwhelmed mind didn’t need more material to think about. I have consciously been watching my time on FB this last week or more, and I see that it helps me. My mind can only take on so much before it reaches saturation. And then, when things are already challenging, the temptation to compare your life to the lives portrayed by others is quite high. This can compound feelings of inadequacy and frustration. But, what we need to realize is that on any journey, there are shadows and rainbows. Facebook posts tend to showcase the rainbows, and maybe it’s because we all need to cling to those moments where something actually does happen right. We as homeschoolers especially need to keep this in mind.

During this time, I have admittedly fallen behind in reading other blogs in our group. The other day, I randomly (I thought), while weary, feeling knocked down and dragged under the bus, stumbled upon this post on our blog. It’s the only blog post I have read in over a month. I don’t even know how I got through it, I was that tired, but somehow, some bells started to go off in my head. I particularly appreciated the links that were shared to Dr. Caroline Leaf’s materials. I began to listen to some of the messages, and I saw so clearly how, even though I legitimately have real challenges in our situation right now, I don’t have to drown under them. Jesus offers help, and it is with my cooperation, especially in my thought life. Wow. There is abundant material about the brain and how our thoughts form connections that contribute to our health, both mentally and physically. Truly, we are what we think. I haven’t read part two of the blog about our thoughts, but I will soon be doing so.

I feel like that reminder about choosing my thoughts has helped me. It has made me more aware of what I say since it reacts on me and others, like my children, reinforcing the positive or negative. And, I have seen how much the Lord really wants to help me to have a victory, not a defeat.

I will say that old habits are those that surface without our effort, and so much so in this area of what we say. I am literally praying often that God will give me a kind word, because when I feel overwhelmed, my natural reaction is negativity. Barbara O’Neill, a favorite speaker of mine, says that we must “fake it ’til we make it,” and that this indeed is a spiritual principle. This is a very helpful talk about the laws that govern our minds. I highly recommend it, and I need to go back and re-listen to it too!

Don’t misunderstand the Fake It ‘Til You Make It outlook. This does not mean to pretend your worries away, expecting that they will just vanish. Instead, it means choosing what we tell ourselves about what we are going through, and choosing to turn to beneficial sources like Bible promises to get our mental dialogue pointed in a positive direction. The Bible says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in Thee,” Isaiah 26:3. This strongly suggests a partnership between us and the Lord. He promises us peace, but first we choose to train our minds on Him, His power, His ability, His goodness towards us. He is able to help us in every emergency.

Cheezburger Image 6084583680

Another talk that I appreciated is this talk by Maria Neblett, called The Language of Encouragement. She speaks so honestly about her struggles, and I really can relate to what she shared. But, she also shows us how to strive for victory and change the course of our homes. This talk I have listened to a couple of times, but really need to go back over it until I can truly make it my experience.

I hope that my ramblings have not been too random. God is good. He is real, and He is here for us. Satan wants to weigh us down and defeat us in any way that he can. We do have a part to play to cooperate with our Saviour, even if we have to “Fake it ’til we make it!”