Monday, July 25, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Woman - Part 6

Please forgive the fact that the last post was also titled "part 6," I have fixed the error.  That one was "5" and this one is "6".

The Proverbs 31 woman is GENEROUS.

v. 19-20 says
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hands to the poor;
And she stretches our her hands to the needy.

The Proverbs 31 woman is hard-working, but she is not selfish with what she gains.  She makes sure there is enough for her family, as well as for those in need.  This is a hard one, but one we have to realize.  It is not important in life to accumulate goods.  Sometimes we think, well, I worked hard for this, I deserve it –- no matter how frivolous or useless or self-seeking the “thing” may be.  When we look around us, is there someone else who doesn’t have shoes, or food, or a place to stay?  We need to think about them more often before we go “play.”  

When my children were young, our MOPS group provided a Christmas and an Easter outreach -– a chance for us to give to those in need.  The people were easily identified and their need was evident to us.  By doing so, we taught our children that to give IS better than to receive!   Now, they give their own money in those seasons to buy chickens and blankets and gospel tracts for people in Asian countries (through Gospel for Asia).  They pray over our sponsor child in Haiti (through New Missions).  They have often gone with me to deliver meals to homeschool moms who have had babies or who are going through hard times.  They have seen me hand money to strangers standing at the side of the roads with signs in their hands.  [I know that isn't always wise, but God can use it to His glory anyway.

I am certainly not tooting my own horn here...I do not do nearly enough in this area!  I am just putting forth different ideas that we have tried at different times.  I'd love to hear what things you have done as well.  Please comment below!

[It may be important to note that the Proverbs 31 woman does take care of her family first.  Sometimes people choose to live in squalor because they can’t get away from the guilt of having something when somebody else doesn’t.  I don’t think that is quite right.  The Bible talks about giving so that others live “equally” with us, not that we should be poverty-stricken so others can be rich.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Take a Leap /leep/ for Literacy

What would happen if psychology suddenly lost its silent “p” and was spelled with an “s”? Would we lose any basic understanding of its function or importance? Instead, I think we would save many taxpayer dollars, increase teacher’s class time for content, reduce teacher training needs, and increase student success (dyslexic or otherwise).

I am not a math person, but I think I can figure out these formulae:

Teach a kindergartener to read/spell + never have to address the issue again = less time in school

Less time in school = less teachers, less classrooms, less books, etc. = less tax $

Why don’t we have a phonics-based spelling system? I don’t know. It seems to make so much sense. Every child could learn to read more easily and people from around the world would have an easier time learning our language. There would certainly be less “bad spellers” in the world!
Most kindergarteners are praised for beginning to spell phonetically, and then we spend the next six years – or more -- training them to “spell it right.” Some never get it, hence computers with spell-check.

I live with a dyslexic child who, though he conquered reading, has spent more than 7 years on this “spelling project” and is still in the starting phase, learning the patterns that have so many exceptions. Because he doesn’t have good sequential memory skills, the phrase, “I” before “e” except after “c”, is useless to him.

When your child is learning to read, what do you say? “Sound it out.” But, that doesn’t work with all words. We have a whole generation who learned to “sight read” because of the confusion over our supposedly phonics-based system. Is that a hard /g/ or a soft /g/? Is that “e” short, long or silent? Why does “ch” sometimes sound like /ch/, as in “church”, but other times sounds like /k/, as in “school”?

My son’s spelling program, Sequential Spelling, uses the following as a simple demonstration of the changing sounds in our language:


Notice the difference in the “a” sound from “ma” to “mag”? What is the change in the “g” sound from “mag” to “magic”? What happens to the “c” sound going from “magic” to “magician”? Let's not even talk about "cian" sounding like /shun/.

As a homeschooler, I can attest to the idea that if the system is easy to learn, it is easy to teach. It is obvious that a truly phonics based system of spelling would increase students’ ease of learning, thereby reducing the number of instruction hours needed by trained and re-trained professionals. The need for reading specialists and remedial teachers would diminish. And maybe, just maybe, there would be more time in the day for more art, music, history and the sciences.
I know that phasing one system in and another out can, and probably should, take many years. England’s “Great Vowel Shift” in sounds took 150 years. So, I propose a few first steps:

1. Remove initial silent sounds like that “p” in psychology and “g” in gnu.
2. Get rid of the silent “gh” in “neighbor” and “weigh”.
3. Replace “ph” with “f” in words like “pharmacy”.
4. Only use the letter “c” when needed for the /ch/ sound. Otherwise, substitute “s” and “k” as appropriate.
5. Start marking long vowels (leave short vowels alone) with a line over top – preparing the way to remove silent “e” someday.

These would be small steps for our generation, perhaps huge leaps in literacy for the generation to come. Next, we will work on implementing the metric system!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Woman - Part 5

Remember that I wrote this a few years ago, but rather than update it, I'll leave the potty-training references for those of you who are in that stage, although I am moving towards the student-driver stage. Which one is scarier? I'll let you know!

Repeated again: The Proverbs 31 woman is a WORKER.

v. 17 says
She girds herself with strength,
And makes her arms strong.

How many of you are stronger now than you were before you had kids? Toting around 30 pounds on one arm while pushing a grocery cart with the other is no longer such a big deal to me. God seems to give us a natural strength to get things done that maybe we never thought we could.

Again, the Proverbs 31 woman is a WORKER.

v. 18 says
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.

If I could leave you with only one thought today, it would come from this verse. The Proverbs 31 woman “senses that her gain is good:” She knows that what she is doing is important! What you are doing today, matters for a lifetime! It may seem at times to be monotonous: household chores mixed up with tea parties and potty training, but it is all important. You are training your child. Some things you are consciously training and some things you are unconsciously training, but everything you do will have an effect on your child.

Think about how much more like your mother you are now than when you were, say, thirteen years old. Your children will be like you too. You can help them to be hard-working, loyal, loving, friendly, and devoted to God. Your example is a HUGE influence on their life -- positive or negative.

Just understanding that gives me reason to keep going. Sometimes I really feel like I’ve had it. In fact, just last week I had this strong feeling that life as a mom was too tough for me. But, then I have to think, what example am I showing Holly and Elijah? I don’t want them to quit when the going gets tough. I don’t want them to complain and whine either, like Mommy does!

Friday, July 15, 2011

School is Coming!

Getting ready for the new school year! I remember the school supplies, the haircuts and fresh new clothes of this season when I was young. For homeschoolers, those outward statements of "school is coming soon" are faded; the true sign of the season beginning is in the curriculum. Here is the curriculum choices we've made so far for this year:

7th grader:
A Beka General Math
Apologia Astronomy
Sequential Spelling 2
Analytical Grammar - part 1 (maybe)

9th grader:
Video Text Algebra
Getting Started with Latin (almost complete) then on to Linney's Latin
Wordly Wise
Apologia Zoology
Analytical Grammar - part 2
Ballet, Tap, Jazz dance classes

Bible Covenants
Names of God by David Wilkerson
A Beka Themes in Lit/BJU Elements of Lit
Apologia Physical Science
Mystery of History (returning to Book 1)
WW2 Unit Study + The Hiding Place
Painless Poetry

Co-ops with our Homeschool Group
Physical Science
Chess Club
Cantering the Country
Book Club (classics)

Also trying out Sports Club at a local Rec Center

As I type this, I think this looks ambitious and I know that we will not get it all done, but God willing we will take the best pieces and leave the rest!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Woman - Part 4

The Proverbs 31 woman is CAREFUL.

v. 16 says
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

Have you ever looked for a house or apartment, bought a house or found one to rent? If you haven’t yet, you probably will someday. My husband and I chose our house as a “forever house.” We don’t intend on moving, ever. [Although when the weather “feels like 100” like it has the last few days, I do dream of cooler climes! And, of course, if the Lord wants us to move -- we will!]

We made our list carefully because of that goal. We needed to get this right the first time and God blessed our list. We wanted a big yard, a big bathtub, and a fireplace. We found the exact house we wanted within our budget. It was the first house we looked at! A few years later, we re-financed so that we would not spend all of our lives paying the interest on a mortgage. Our house is paid off, so there may be money someday to do other things -- like pay for our children’s education –- or other things that “grow” (like a vineyard).

In a broader sense, this Proverbs 31 woman was frugal and wise. She considered her purchases and she worked and saved for what she wanted. I don’t picture her running to Macy’s with her husband’s paycheck. She made sure there was enough; she worked and made a profit. I do picture her clipping coupons and making wise purchases, for things that will last.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where Can Casey Go?

Joshua 20:1-6

The Cities of Refuge

The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And when he flees to one of those cities, and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled.’”

In recent days, the world has watched the trial of Casey Anthony. We saw all the evidence – or lack of evidence, depending on your point of view – right before our very eyes. We were allowed seats in the courtroom and we became jury and judge within our hearts. But we did not get to push any buttons to actually choose. Only 12 truly appointed men and women got to voice their votes in a way that counted. Her fate was decided without me. The problem is, I know too much – or think I do -- and so do you, and so do literally millions of others.

I just wonder, where will Casey go? She has been acquitted and will soon be free. But will she ever be truly free? Where can she go that she won’t be recognized? Where can she go where she will be treated as completely “innocent?” Our voyeurism has stolen from her a basic right – the presumption of innocence -- that we are innocent until proven guilty.

I heard recently that in Scotland they have a third category for judgment: guilty, not guilty, and “not proven.” At first, I thought, that sounds great. We want to put a mark on those people who we think are guilty of getting away with something. But, upon further reflection, I know that is definitely NOT the American way. How would I feel if I had not been proven guilty, but everywhere I went people acted as though I was guilty?

I pray that Casey can find a city of refuge, to be free from the assumption of guilt, and move on to find the true source of refuge in Jesus Christ – the only real hope for anyone of us.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Woman - Part 3

The Proverbs 31 woman is a WORKER.

v. 13 says
She looks for wool and flax,
And works with her hands in delight.

Those of you who sew might easily see yourself here, but I think in a broader sense, this Proverbs 31 woman enjoys being creative. She is producing something for her husband or children and she delights in it. I am sure at different stages in our lives, we have all done something creative in our homes [make curtains, decorate the table, set out holiday decorations, make a nursery, rearrange the furniture]. Think of one or two creative things you have done.

The Proverbs 31 woman is a WORKER. That sounds familiar. Where have I heard that before?

v. 14 says
She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.

If this were a “Bible study,” maybe we would talk about the Hebrew culture at this point. But, this is us -- What in the world does this verse mean to us today? Grocery shopping! Could your family survive if you gave up those weekly (sometimes daily) trips to the store?

Did I say the Proverbs 31 woman is a WORKER?

v. 15 says
She rises also while it is still night,
And gives food to her household,
And portions to her maidens.

My first thought here was “Yeah, right, I don’t do that.” But, I have and so have you. When your baby cried in the middle of the night (two and three and four and five times in the middle of the night), who got up to feed him? You did. Your thoughts were not first of sleep, but of taking care of your child. Your child’s needs came first (whether you bottle-fed or breast-fed).

I think this verse is really talking about managing your household. Making sure things are running smoothly; everyone is where they are supposed to be, dressed and fed and nurtured. You do that every time you pack a diaper bag or a lunchbox, every time you prepare a meal or get your child ready for school.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Woman - Part 2

The Proverbs 31 woman is to be GOOD TO HER HUSBAND.

v. 12 says
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

That sounds so simple. Of course we want to do good for our husbands. We are not putting arsenic in his food or even swishing his toothbrush in the toilet when he isn’t looking. But, at 5:17 PM when I have a hot meal on the table and Paul isn’t home yet and I’ve got one kid screaming in my ear and the other one pulling on my leg, what ARE my intentions for him? Am I thinking, “Oh the poor dear, must be stuck in traffic again?” Or am I screaming on the inside: “Just wait until that so-and-so gets home; he can take care of the kids and I don’t care if his food IS cold? I’m going to go take a bath and see how he likes just being stuck all alone here!”

When I feel more like that, verse 12 gives me something to shoot for. Do him “good and not evil.” Sometimes I have to repeat that verse until it clicks. “Doing good” means saying uplifting and edifying words to my husband; "doing good" means washing his shirts without him asking me; "doing good" means greeting him at the door with a smile instead of shoving kids into his hands and pouring out my day like acid in his face.

In the book, The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace, she says “The goal of the Christian husband and wife in their marriage is to have a oneness that is characterized by a loving spiritual and physical bond that glorifies God and thereby enhances personal spiritual growth (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:22-33; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 13:4)” [pg. 33]. She references Luke 17:10 which says, “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'”

“Giving of yourself to your husband is not going above and beyond the call of duty. It is only doing as you ought. You ought to be kind to your husband. You ought to be open, transparent and honest with him.” [pg. 32].