Monthly Archives: January 2011

Eternal Friend List

I love visiting new churches – especially if they are out of town. I love participating in homeschool events or Christian school competitions. I love meeting Christians that I’ll probably never see again. Why? Because I know that I will meet them again someday. I’m building up my friend list in preparation of eternity. It’s not that I think eternity isn’t long enough to get to know everyone. Who knows? Perhaps we will know everyone instinctively. But it’s the way that I feel at the time of introduction and in the moments that follow. It’s like meeting a long-lost brother or sister. Even better – a soul mate. We already share plenty of common ground: common beliefs, common goals, common Best Friend, and ultimately, a common destination. So if I don’t see you in the next 60 or 70 years, I’ll see you later!

Submission – what does it really mean?

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Ephesians 5:22-24

What should you do when you feel that your husband isn’t treating you right? Maybe you can sense a reoccurring streak of selfishness, or maybe it’s as bad as a complete disregard for how you feel. Worse than that, perhaps you can see that he is making poor choices or ignoring the mandates set forth in God’s Word. How can you make him understand? The short answer: you can’t. You can try to reason with him; respectfully tell him exactly how you feel. Sometimes your honesty will be enough to make him take a second look at things. But in the long run, you can’t force him to believe differently about something or to behave in a certain way.

How then, should you react? Here’s my advice, although many may not agree. The Bible commands wives to submit to their husbands. I know, I know; it also commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That means that your husband should listen to your opinions and give them a lot of weight in his decision-making, right? Well, the truth is, however your husband decides to interpret that verse, it shouldn’t have any impact on the way you interpret the preceding ones. You see, those verses aren’t set up like “if…then” statements. If the husband loves his wife, then the wife submits to her husband. What if your husband isn’t a Christian at all, and gives no thought to the Bible whatsoever? Does that automatically make you the decision-maker of the household? Because your decisions are the right ones? No. Every wife believes her opinions to be the right ones – all the time. The Bible doesn’t say, “Therefore, whosoever is wrong shall submit to whosoever is right.” God has ordained your husband to make family decisions.

The only time you can disobey your husband is if he asks you to sin against God. You cannot force him to act the way you believe God wants him to. I have found that approaching God’s command this way frees me from worry about the effects of my husband’s decisions. I obey God by obeying my husband; everything that happens in my life as a result is God’s responsibility. You see, God will never punish you for obeying him. In fact, the only way you can find His perfect will is to obey Him to the letter – even if you feel that God’s will is being hindered by others in your life. Believe me; He does have the power to perfectly order your life in spite of other humans.

Your only job is to act the way you believe God wants you to act. As a matter of fact, that is everyone’s job, and the sooner we can believe that as a church, the sooner we can begin to examine our own lives, and stop nit-picking the lives of others – either audibly by nagging them, or in our thoughts. Think about a common church service for example. Maybe the pastor is preaching about finding God’s will for your life. Maybe your husband is sitting next to you, and you just know this sermon is exactly what he needs. You speak to him after the service and discover that he thought the message was, “ok.” What? That was a life-changing message! So why isn’t he bubbling over and brainstorming areas in his life that need changing right away? Sometimes – I would venture to say all of the time – what people really need in their lives is an example of godly living. My advice is to apply every Word from God to your own life, whether you are sitting in church or having a quiet Bible study by yourself. So much time is wasted by thinking, “So-and-so really needs to hear this. I wish she were here,” or “I hope he’s paying good attention. This message is for him.” When in reality, God has you sitting under that message on that day for a reason, and I guarantee that that reason is not so you can sit there and think about who else needs to hear it. Am I making sense? Let me bring it down to one sentence:

It is not the words you speak that will change the world, but the example that you set.

Challenge: apply everything you read today to your own life.

Incidental Teaching

Jesse actually took a snow day yesterday. He’s in the habit of risking life and limb, and going to work anyway, but after some close calls last time, he decided to play it safe. In an effort to make the most of his day off, he decided to do something that has been on the back burner for a very long time. If you had walked into our living room last night, you would have found a huge mess. The computer was in eight or ten parts all over the coffee table. Our six-year-old, Ian, was fascinated and was standing around asking questions. From the kitchen, I heard bits and pieces of their conversation. Jesse: U.S.B. The letters stand for Universal Serial Bus. Ian: I know how to read “universal!” I know what that means! Jesse: Well, sometimes that word is talking about the universe, but this time it just means “everything.” I was busy doing dishes, but I couldn’t resist an opportunity to teach a little grammar. “Universal is an adjective. Adjectives tell us what something is like.” That’s all I said before returning to my household duties. I didn’t have to say more because Ian and I have already discussed three or four parts of speech in depth. I usually give very simple definitions – then we think of tons of examples together. I was tempted to stick around and differentiate between adjectives and adverbs (what something is like as opposed to how something is being done), but they were having a great time in there, and the topic wasn’t really relevant. Relevancy is one of the keys to incidental teaching. If your child is already focused or interested in something, nudge him up into the next tier of understanding.

As homeschool parents, we know that our children’s educations are ultimately our responsibility. No one is going to “fill in the gaps” for us. That’s why I make every possible moment a learning experience. When Ian was young, and I first began to teach him to count, we counted everything: eggs while cooking, cars going by, tiles on the floor of the hospital’s waiting room – everything. I didn’t want to waste a single teachable moment. You can do the same thing with letter recognition or colors. As they get older, plenty of opportunities will present themselves for reading, addition, grammar, science, etc.

Coal Car Alphabet

Here are some more train alphabet flashcards. Have fun building words/trains!

Edit: I am uploading the entire set now that I have it finished. It is all in one file. This should save you some footwork, lol. If you have any of the blank Avery Flash Cards 2-1/2″ x 4″, the Word Document file will print perfectly on them, as you see in the picture above. I’m not sure how well the PDF file works with them because I haven’t personally tried it. (I just now created the PDF for anyone who can’t download the Word file.)

Alphabet Train Flashcards – Word Document

Alphabet Train Flashcards – PDF

Escaping back to reality

I’m on a mission, but I need some help. I don’t want to watch television anymore, but it’s about all we’ve been doing as a family for the past ten years (and as single people for years before that). During the day, when my husband is at work, I have many things to keep me busy – homeschooling, playing with my son, writing, composing/arranging, preparing for the homeschool classes that I teach, reading books to improve my current skills, etc. I only step foot into our living room to feed the fish. In the evenings though, I’d really like to take a break and spend time with my husband. However, I don’t have any desire to sit in front of the television anymore. We don’t talk to each other when the TV is on, and frankly, I’d rather be knocking a few things off my to-do list. I actually enjoy my work more than I do sitting and doing nothing. My husband has been feeling neglected because of this. I’m afraid he’s starting to think that I would rather work than “spend time” with him. In an effort to keep him from feeling this way, I’ve been trying to drop everything in the evenings and focus on him, but I’ve been trying to do so without involving the television in any way. He’s game, but we just don’t know what to do as a couple to pass our time. We used to go for long drives and out for nice dinners, but with the economy the way it is, those just aren’t practical options anymore. So far, in our efforts to stop watching so much TV, we’ve spent some time playing board games, and we’ve invited a couple of families over for dinner. A friend suggested that we start working out together. She and her husband do this regularly; they enjoy the time they spend conversing, and they really encourage one another to “keep up the good work,” so to speak. In the middle of writing this (last night), I actually took a break and made some cookies with Ian and Jesse. One of the fun things that we’ve done in the past is turn out all of the lights and play hide-and-seek. The winter months are ideal for this game, because there’s plenty of time left to play after the sun goes down. It’s really great because you can hide by laying on the couch or standing behind the drum set, and as long as you can keep from giggling, you can remain hidden for several minutes. I remember my dad once hiding by sitting on the kitchen table. I think we gave up before anyone ever found him, and there were five of us looking! Anyway, over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to try some new things and hopefully build a repertoire of non-television related activities. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, feel free to post an activity that your family enjoys! Challenge: Turn off the television tonight and do something fun together!

Easy Recipes for a Dinner Party

Last week while I was typing, my six-year-old son asked me for an index card. Over the next couple of minutes, he lay in the floor of my office, writing away. I helped him spell most of the words, but I wasn’t paying attention to the content as a whole. By the time he asked me for an envelope and a stamp, I realized he had written an invitation to some of our friends. We mailed the letter, and as a result, I lay awake last night wracking my brain to come up with some nice, yet easy, dinner choices for tonight’s company.

Since I will be busy all day, I’ve decided to make two things that will be super easy, but they are still on my husband’s list of favorite things to eat. The main course is a four-ingredient lasagna. I used to hate making lasagna because it was so time consuming, and frankly, I can’t stand the sight of ricotta cheese! However, the ingredients I use are:

6 lasagna noodles, cooked

Half a block of Velveeta cheese (or something comparable), cut into quarter inch slices

1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained

1 can or jar of spaghetti sauce

After cooking the noodles and beef, I make two layers of noodles, cheese, beef, and spaghetti sauce, in that order. I always save the majority of the ingredients for the top half, since that’s the half that everyone sees.  🙂 If you don’t mind a runny river of cheesy goodness, you can serve it immediately after baking. If you’re like me, however, you will want it to look as good as it tastes – in which case, let it cool for 45 minutes or so before serving.

My main side is a four-ingredient mashed potato concoction. Thanks to my sister-in-law Mandy, for the recipe!

8-12 small potatoes (I always save the big ones for baking), cooked and mashed

Butter to taste

Milk to desired consistency

Lots of shredded cheese

After making mashed potatoes as usual and adding butter and milk, place them into a baking dish. Cover the top with shredded cheese and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese melts. I must admit that the first time I made this, I was trying to make regular mashed potatoes. I used too much milk, and figured that some time in the oven would dry the potatoes out a bit. Since Mandy had been bringing cheesy mashed potatoes to our house for special occasions, I thought I would give it a try! It’s now one of the easiest and yummiest side dishes in my repertoire!

A little bread here, another vegetable there, and dinner is done!

On a side note, my son has inspired me to try to bring some formality back into my friendships. How fun would it be to throw a dinner party and actually send out cordial invitations? Gone are the days when people ate at friends’ houses three or four nights a week, and entertained once or twice a week in their own homes. With all of the demands that we place on ourselves, we find it difficult to make time for visiting with our family and friends. If we would turn off the television once in a while, I wonder if we would get bored enough to remember the important people in our lives?

A challenge: call someone important to you and invite them for dinner!

Engine Alphabet

Here are some more train alphabet flashcards. Have fun building words/trains!

Edit: I am uploading the entire set now that I have it finished. It is all in one file. This should save you some footwork, lol. If you have any of the blank Avery Flash Cards 2-1/2″ x 4″, the Word Document file will print perfectly on them, as you see in the picture above. I’m not sure how well the PDF file works with them because I haven’t personally tried it. (I just now created the PDF for anyone who can’t download the Word file.)

Alphabet Train Flashcards – Word Document

Alphabet Train Flashcards – PDF