Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Operation Christmas Child: Pray. Think. Pack. Pray.

Bosnia, 2000

The very first event of the Jeffcoat Christmas season is nearly upon us:  Operation Christmas Child.  You can click on the link for more details about this unique, hands-on ministry that takes the love of God and hope for the future around the world.  

OCC is near and dear to my heart.  Our family has packed shoeboxes for at least 15 years, and in 2000 we were on the distribution end of this amazing project.  In case you are new to this I want to offer some helpful hints about how to pack a quality box.

1.  Pray.  Ask God to help you decide what to put in it.  Pray for the child who will receive it and all the hands that will carry it across the globe.

2.  Think quality.  That box you are packing may be the only gift of any kind that child will receive.  Since the goal is to share God's love, make sure that is what your box says to the child who opens it.  What I mean is this:  
  • Don't put junk in it.  Maybe kids in America can go buy a new Barbie doll if the head comes off theirs, but the recipient of your box probably can't. Buy a quality doll. 
  • Do your own children only use Crayola Crayons?  Then put Crayola in the box. 
  • Are there certain pencils or pens you hate to use?  Don't send them! (And send a pencil sharpener.)
  • A jump rope is a fun item, but make sure it isn't a piece of junk.  (Some aren't worth the thread they are made of.)
  • Pack new items.  (Save your old things for the neighborhood garage sale.  Most kids can tell the difference between new and used.  Don't make these children who have so little and been through so much feel sub-par.) 
  • Including the $7.00 fee to help with shipping I think it takes around $30 to create a quality box.  (Here's the fine line: Though I believe in packing quality boxes, I also think it is better to send two boxes costing $30 each to build than one for $60.  Send Crayola Crayons but not the Vera Bradley purse.)  

3.  Think appropriateness. Samaritan's Purse asks that we don't put liquids, chocolate, breakables, or military related items in our boxes for obvious reasons.  But here are some other things to consider: 
  • Girls of every age love jewelry, but remember: not every girl has pierced ears.  
  • There is a good chance your box will end up in a Muslim area:  Don't put anything in there that has to do with pigs or pork.  You want to bless, not offend.  
  • The same goes with that Barbie doll (that didn't come from Dollar Tree):  Maybe a bikini clad doll would be great for your grand-daughter, but it is not appropriate for most of the world. 
  • What about gory, creepy, scary things?  Since many children around the world face real "monsters" let's leave them out of the box. 
  • Make sure your items are age appropriate for the box you are making. If a tag says for ages 5 and up, don't put it in a 2 - 4 year old box. (Be careful with candy too.  A choking hazard is a choking hazard anywhere in the world.)
  • Picture books are always fun, but avoid non-picture books.  Remember:  Not everyone in the world speaks English.

4.  Think quantity. What I mean is:  FILL THE BOX!  If you are unable to fill the box you have either get a smaller box or pool your resources.  When my family and I handed out boxes over seas I noticed that many of them were half empty.  What does that say to a child?  Yes, they are happy to have a gift, but shouldn't we bless them with a gift that is "pressed down, shaken together and running over"?

5.  Think ahead.  Don't wait until October of 2014 to begin on next year's boxes.  Shop year round.  Stock up on school supplies in August when they are on mega sale.  Look for sale items throughout the year. (That way you can get quality for cheap.) 

6.  Now pack.  Here is a list of great shoebox items: (I love the idea of using a $1 plastic shoebox.  They are sturdy and can be used for so many things.) 

Nearly every box we pack contains the following items:
  • Crayons
  • coloring book
  • soap
  • candy 
  • toothbrush/paste
  • comb or brush
  • pencils and sharpener
  • pens
  • gender appropriate bandana
Then we add from there.  Other ideas: 
  • stuffed animal or doll
  • colored pencils
  • markers
  • notebook
  • ball
  • jump rope
  • toy cars
  • plastic cup
  • marbles
  • Barrel of Monkeys
  • glow in the dark stars
  • yo-yo
  • small puzzle
  • small drawstring back pack
  • small purse
  • hand/finger puppets
  • rubber duckie
  • stickers
  • slinky
  • small calendar for the coming year with pretty/cool pictures
  • small frisbee
  • jacks
  • blow-up beach ball or punch ball
  • t-shirt
  • socks
  • mittens
  • cap
  • hat
  • scarf
  • hair-bows/ribbons/clips
  • play jewelry
  • Solar calculator (for older kids)
  • flashlight with extra batteries
This is not an exhaustive list, just one to get you started.

6.  Pray again. 

And that's all there is to it.  
Pray. Think. Pack. Pray.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Find Your Wings

This Immersion Trip Journey my 18-year-old daughter Candace is on has seemed real to her from the beginning.  Sometime in January SHE heard God say, "Go!" SHE has met her team.  HER thoughts have been consumed with raising money, what to take, and writing blog posts and support letters.  

I've been in denial.

Yes, I helped extensively with raising money, placing Amazon orders, and proof-reading texts.  But the money was for that trip she'd be going on….later.  I've placed hundreds of Amazon orders…what's one or two or three more?  And all those heart-felt letters and blogs?  Well, I've been her homeschool teacher for 18 years; what's one more essay to proof?  Honestly, those myriads of details to work out BEFORE her trip have been a mental buffer between me and saying, "Good-bye".  


Yesterday we held our last fund-raiser: a rummage sale at the 5-way in Magee.  God has miraculously provided all her money PLUS extra for all those supplies and expenses she'll have over the next 9 months.  Yesterday, as we packed up all the left over items and donated them to a charity, it hit me:  It's over.  ALL the hard work - making and auctioning items, two garage sales, selling T-shirts, craft fairs to sell bracelets, the Gala, the support letters - done.  The summit of an unscalable mountain has been reached.  The $11,900 has been raised!  And while there are a few odds and ends to accomplish before her September 7th launch date, the buffer is eroding quickly.  I am face to face with the reality that my baby, my last fledgling, my constant companion for 18 years, is about to fly the nest.  I know she will return…for a while…but once those birds fly it's never the same.  

I am excited for her.  What an amazing, life-changing opportunity!  She and God are going off on their own adventure.  And through my falling tears and choking voice I sing to her Mark Harris' song:

Find Your Wings

It's only for a moment you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I'll pray
For all that you might do
But most of all I'll want to know
You're walking in the truth

And if I never told you, I want you to know
As I watch you grow

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things

I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way

May there be many moments
That make your life so sweet
Oh, but more than memories

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things

I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

It's not living if you don't reach for the sky
I'll have tears as you take off
But I'll cheer as you fly

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

Her "wings" look a lot like a backpack.

(I love you, Candace!) 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dealing with Depression

Dealing with Depression
(Encouragement from Psalms)

Author’s note: The following article was birthed from my own experiences with depression.  It is not meant to take the place of professional counseling or medical attention.  If depression is preventing you from undertaking and enjoying normal daily activities, or if you are experiencing self-destructive thoughts, then you should seek professional help immediately.  Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to get it. (Are we ashamed to go to a medical doctor when we have the flu or a broken bone?) Just make sure the help you receive comes from someone who will offer solid, Biblical answers.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~ Jesus Christ
(Matthew 11: 28 & 29)

My Story

The circumstances surrounding my own bout with depression aren’t really important.  Suffice it to say that I had experienced one too many life changes that left me feeling overwhelmed and disoriented. Some days were better than others, and though I was able to continue with my daily activities, my vision and joy were gone. Tears continually lingered just below the surface.  I was snappy and negative. Everything seemed dark and hopeless. There were actually some days I thought, “If this is all there is to life, then what’s the use in going on?”  For nearly two years this cloud of darkness hovered close to me. Too close.  I was a Christian.  I read my Bible nearly daily and spent a lot of time crying out to God in prayer, yet no answers seemed to come.  Every now and then I caught a glimpse of His light - just enough to keep me going and praying.  I was in survival mode when I wanted to soar like the eagles.

During this time my husband gave me a new Bible for Christmas.  I decided to start at Genesis and read straight through, something I hadn’t done in years.  When I finally arrived in Psalms I found all my feelings, darkness, and concerns poured out in its pages, as if it were written just for me. I read each one eagerly, careful not to miss a thing.  I was falling in love with Psalms; hope was sparked once again in my heart.  I began memorizing promises and claiming them as my own.  When I felt like life was crushing in I would say those verses over and over.  Slowly, yet miraculously, I began feeling better. I gained new perspective and life, the world seemed brighter, and I was rediscovering joy.

It wasn’t merely the power of positive thinking.  It was the power of omnipotent God and His mighty Word.  Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Most of the Psalms were written by King David - the greatest king of Israel - a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14) Yet many times David suffered with depression and seemingly hopeless situations.  In despair he cried out to God for relief, and God gave it.

Help from Psalms

If you are suffering from depression and/or deep discouragement, if the circumstances of your life weigh you down, if all seems dark and hopeless, if you want to pray but just don’t know how, let me direct you to the book of Psalms where you will find prayers, praises, and promises to claim as your own.  God will use them to illuminate your path. (Psalm 119:105)  

Here are some things to consider and verses to hold on to:

1.    Relief from enemies.  Psalms contains numerous references to enemies of which David had many.  He often cried to God for intervention.  You may think, “I don’t have any enemies; these verses really don’t apply to me.”  Don’t be fooled, we all have a very real and powerful enemy named Satan.  (Ephesians 6:12)  As you claim those verses referring to deliverance from enemies, know that you are speaking with power against Satan and all his demons. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8) “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

Here are some “enemy” Psalms to get you started: Psalm 6: 9 & 10, Psalm 18: 16 – 19, Psalm 25:19 & 20, Psalm 30:1, Psalm 31:15, Psalm 59:1, Psalm 69:18, Psalm 138:7 & 8*, Psalm 143:9 & 12.

2.    Power of praise. You can never underestimate the power praise has. Satan hates it when we praise the Lord and claim the name of Jesus. Read these passages and claim the power of praise:  2 Chronicles 20:21-22, Psalm 8:2, Psalm 18:1 – 3*, Psalm 32:7 and Psalm 44:5.  Even when you don’t feel like it (especially when you don’t feel like it) quote a Psalm of Praise, listen to worshipful music, and begin a “Blessings Journal” (see Psalm 78:3 & 4) where you record the good things God has done for you and prayers He has answered.  Review it often.

Here are some Psalms of Praise to get you started: Psalm 8, Psalm 19*, Psalm 33, Psalm 36:5 – 11, Psalm 63:1, Psalm 67, Psalm 71:14 -19, Psalm 84*, Psalm 89:1 – 9, Psalm 93, Psalm 95 – 97, Psalm 100*, Psalm 103: 1-5, Psalm 104, Psalm 112 & 113, Psalm 145 & 146, and Psalm 148 & 150.

3.    Pray the Psalms.  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14 & 15)  What better way to pray His will than to pray His Word?!?!

Here are some Psalms to pray: Psalm 25:4 – 7 (for guidance), Psalm 27 (in times of trouble), Psalm 31: 3 – 5 (for help), Psalm 51* (of repentance), 55:1-3; 16-18 (for help against dark forces), Psalm 61:1-4 (for help), Psalm 69:13 – 18 (for help), Psalm 69:29 (for protection), Psalm 86 (for help), and Psalm 143:8 – 12* (for guidance and help).

4.    Claim God’s promises.  God never lies, what He says He will do (1 Corinthians 1:9). “As for God, his way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” (Psalm 18:30 New Living Translation)

Here are some promises to claim:  Psalm 9:10, Psalm 16: 7, 8 & 11, Psalm 23*, Psalm 34: 4 – 7, Psalm 40: 1-3 *, Psalm 46:1 – 3, Psalm 55:16 – 18 & 22, Psalm 56: 3 & 4*, Psalm 62: 1 & 2, Psalm 68:19, Psalm 73: 23 – 26*, Psalm 91* Psalm 94:18 & 19, Psalm 103:10 – 13, Psalm 108:12 – 13, Psalm 118: 5 – 7, Psalm 119:105, Psalm 121, Psalm 139 *, Psalm 141 * 8 & 9, and Psalm 147:3

Concluding Thoughts

1. This extensive, but not exhaustive, list of Psalms was not meant to overwhelm you, but to guide you through them if you’ve never been there before, or if you, like me, tend to become mentally “scattered” when you are under stress.  Don’t try to read them all in one sitting or one day or even one week.  Start with one or two.  Read them, think on them, and memorize the ones that particularly speak to you, and then go on to more verses.  In essence, camp out in the Psalms and stay a while. (You may even want to start at the beginning and read straight through.)

2.    The enemy doesn’t always attack when our Bible is handy. Memorizing Scripture is the only way to hide them in your heart where they are always available and yours forever.  Even Jesus quoted Scripture when faced with temptation.  (See Matthew 4:4, 7, & 10)

3.    In an attempt to simplify using Psalms I’ve put them into the above categories.  Many of them belong in several places.  For example: Psalm 40 is listed under “Promise”, but it can easily be used for prayer and praise.

4.    While I recommend beginning in the Psalms, the entire Bible is filled with prayers, promises, and praises.  Use a concordance or go to and search for other verses that will minister to your heart.

5.    Perhaps you read this article because someone you love is suffering from depression or deep discouragement. You still have the power of prayer, praise, and promises on your side.  Stand in the gap for your loved one (see Ezekiel 22:30).  Pray, claim, and praise on their behalf.

6.    Those marked * are some of my particularly favorite Psalms.

7.    An entire article could be written on the role diet, exercise, and rest play in maintaining good mental health, but I will save that for someone else.

In closing, let me leave you with this prayer from Ephesians 3:16 -19 (NIV):

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

© Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat 2005

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Imperfect Children

“Your baby may be at risk for having Down’s Syndrome,” my doctor said.  “I’m not sure though, so I will check with a geneticist and get back with you.”  When you are a certified worrier like myself, those words are ominous and heavy.   They nearly pushed me to “Basket Case” status.

I couldn’t quit thinking about Lonnie.

Lonnie is my dad’s brother born with Down’s Syndrome in 1953.  The doctor’s said he wouldn’t live to be 20.  (Too bad they weren’t around to celebrate his 60th birthday this year.) Lonnie can clothe and feed himself and do simple chores.   He’s not very verbal, but he’s aware of what’s going on and was a real joy to my grandmother until the day she died.  Because of him I have a soft spot for children with DS.  I just couldn’t fathom being the mother of one. 

Waiting for the geneticists’ opinion seemed like an eternity.  Several of my co-workers wanted to know what I would do if my chances were higher.  (What would I do?!?!?! What do you mean?)   I guess they figured I would have an amniocentesis to determine the chromosomal state of my unborn baby.  But I knew that no matter what:  this child was mine – imperfections and all. (Killing our first child just wasn’t an option for his dad and me.) After two-weeks of what-iffing, the verdict came back that I was not at any greater risk than the next woman my age.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

That was 25 years ago, and I now have three grown children with the “correct” number of chromosomes.  Even so, I think about that “what if” a lot, especially yesterday when a friend found out her newborn baby was born with that extra-chromosome, and she will forever be the mother of a child with Down’s Syndrome.    My “What if” is now her reality.

Experience has changed my perspective in those 25 years, and I have some things I would like to say to that young mother:

Your baby is just like any other with his own undiscovered gifts and potentials.  No baby comes with guarantees.  Enjoy the unfolding process.

I’m sure you are experiencing some grief as preconceived dreams for this child die.  The reality is that very few children fulfill their parents’ dreams for them.  They all have their own plans and tend to go their own way. All children would be better off if we parents quit trying to create little “me’s” out of them. Truthfully, your child may spend his life living in the moment.  Well, what’s wrong with that? None of us are promised tomorrow.  Let him teach you. Carpe diem!

Might this baby face special health problems?  Absolutely!  But so may any number of non-Down’s babies.  Life is uncertain for everyone.  He will learn and develop and grow at his own pace…but so does every other child.

Be warned.  Society may disregard him; his monetary contributions may not meet cultural standards.  But who can measure the value of unconditional love and acceptance?  How can you calculate the worth of inspiration?  Many with full bank accounts and bulging pockets have left the world a much poorer place.

Maybe he won’t grow up to be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon.  But maybe (and most likely) he will shine light in dark places, soften harden hearts, bring smiles to joyless faces, and encourage those without hope to keep on trying.

I don’t pretend to know how it feels to raise a special needs child.  But I do know quite a bit about raising imperfect children.  And it is quite likely that your little one with the extra chromosome and those like him are more perfect than the rest of us.  You see, he will always have the faith of a child – the most valuable thing of all.

(Update--- I shared this with the mother this morning.  This was her response:
These are some exact thoughts I've had in the last week. We have really known since he was born he for sure had it but they still have to do the test to make sure it is downs and that is all that is wrong. So luckily yesterday we knew what was coming. It really does change things from day one of knowing your blessing will have complications in life. You worry more about how society is going to treat them and what kind of life they will have and if you will be able to provide for their special needs. And you worry how it will effect the life of your other child(ren). You definitely have different worries than with a non-downs child.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Simple Question (Ha!): What curriculum did you use?

Though I would never consider myself a homeschooling expert, eighteen years of experience has taught me a thing or two. I am passionate about HS and love encouraging people who feel led to walk (sometimes crawl) this road less traveled. 

One of the first questions I am asked is, “What curriculum did you use?”  It is a simple question with a not so simple answer. I have used MANY different things in my efforts to teach my three children in ways that fit their learning styles.  (Sometimes I was more successful than others. :-))  So here you go:

I began my HS journey with Abeka simply because their unsolicited catalog mysteriously appeared in my mailbox the exact day I wanted to pull my First-grader out of school. I used it for several years mainly because I doubted myself and HS resources were minimal.  Abeka is designed for those who like the structure of public school curriculum but want a Christian perspective.  You can get teachers’ guides and handbooks - all the bells and whistles a traditional schoolteacher would have.  (For a price.)  A child who completes twelve years of Abeka is more than ready for a college experience. I will say that I REALLY like the beginning Abeka reading program and their emphasis on phonics.  (I kept the flash cards for my grandchildren or for tutoring because I liked them so well.) I also enjoyed their history for the early grades.  However, I began feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material to cover and the expense of the curriculum so I explored other possibilities.

Math:  Eventually I changed to Saxon Math and used it for my two oldest throughout their homeschooling experiences.  (Kyle through 8th grade and Cassie through 12th.) Saxon Math moves very quickly from one concept to another, but some students, like my youngest, need more reinforcement and practice than it offers. When Candace was in junior high I used the “Keys to…” collection of booklets. (Keys to Algebra, Keys to Geometry, Keys to Fractions, and Keys to decimals.) This is excellent material for a child struggling in these areas. When Candace was ready to move on to actual Algebra and Geometry I found the Video Text series. ( I LOVED IT!  This is pricey, but VERY worth it in my opinion.  You watch an instructor on a video then do the work.  Everything is broken down into very simple steps and there are a lot of practice problems.  This is great for the student who can self-learn and also for the teacher who needs a refresher. I wish I had found this sooner.  (It isn’t a high-tech video, but simple and more than adequate.)

Language Arts:  I used Learning Language Arts Through Literature for several years until I felt my children needed a bit more grammar instruction. I picked up Easy Grammar Plus by Wanda Phillips.  It is simple to use and gives a lot of opportunity for practice.  I also picked up Spelling Power and used it for a while.  It is basically a spelling program for all grade levels.  My only “problem” with it is that it doesn’t have all the fun spelling activities a lot of curriculums have.  That is easily overcome with Internet sources that allow you to create your own worksheets and provide other creative ideas.  I liked Spelling Power because it has comprehensive lists for every grade.  A fantastic method for teaching language arts is note-booking and copy-work.  I want to address those in a separate paragraph.

History: I’ve used Abeka, unit studies, Life Pacs and living books for this.  My favorite (one I wish had been written sooner in my HS career) is Mystery of History.  This could definitely be started in Jr. High.  It is very straightforward and interesting.  They use a note booking approach to learning.  Much different from the Lifepacs, so it all depends on your child’s learning style.

Science:  I’ve used Abeka, my own material, note-booking and Apologia (   I really like that last one.  They have material from upper elementary through high school. Like Mystery of History they use a note-booking approach.  The material is easy to read and interesting. Great supplements to any science curriculum are the Lyrical Science CDs and books.  (Cassie, my middle child, really took to the songs.  During her 1.5 year stint in public high school she aced several quizzes because she remembered the information set to music. :-) )

Note-booking and copy-work:  It is incredibly wonderful for any teacher when her students learn the way she (or he) does.  For example:  I am a very visual learner and I need to see the information on the page.  I like charts and diagrams and pictures. I teach the way I learn. However, some people are auditory learners and others, like my Candace, learn by moving (kinesthetically).  What worked with my other two didn’t work with her.  Fourth grade found us both frustrated and struggling.   We seemed to hit an educational brick wall.  I cried out to God for help, and He answered by directing me to Cindy Rushton and note-booking/copy-work.  (For much more information Google “Charlotte Mason”, “Note-booking”, and “Copy-work”.) 
The whole idea seemed too good to be true, but I was desperate.  I grabbed a three-ring binder and a box of protector sheets.  I let Candace choose a topic that interested her and took it from there.  I think our first topic was cats.  I did a little research on cats ranging from lions, tigers, cheetahs, lepers, etc., down to the house cat.  I printed out simple paragraphs and info on each cat and had her read it and copy it word for word with correct punctuation.  We’d then find and print a picture of that particular feline, glue it to her copied page, and put it in a protective sheet in the notebook.  We’d include poems we found or wrote and any other pertinent material.  Compiling this notebook (along with a little math and reading aloud) was our entire curriculum for a year.  Spelling improved.  Reading improved.  Composition improved.  Grammar Improved.  Punctuation improved.  I became a believer in this process!  This is a great tool especially in the early years.  Just make sure that the material to copy is age appropriate in length and language and is well written.  Amazing!  This process could be used for any subject.

Reading:  Read. Let your children see you reading. Read aloud.  Have your child read aloud.  Their age doesn’t matter.  Cassie was reading aloud to me when she was a senior just because we loved it so much!  Do an Internet search for living books, those are the best kind!  Honestly, Cassie was such an avid reader we hardly had to do history.  Historical fiction was one of her favorite genres and she learned much more than she did from stuffy history books! 

Several people have asked me about pre-school:
For pre-school and even K-2 I would spend a lot of time reading aloud and doing lots of hands-on activities. Take lots of pictures of what you do and have your child narrate back to you what happened while you write it down. Add pictures to the narration and make lots of notebooks.  Putting your child’s work in protective sheets and notebooks lets him or her know the work is important.  No one likes to work hard at something only to have it thrown away.  Begin copy-work as soon as they can form letters.  Forming letters can be the copy-work!  But I wouldn’t push too hard in these early years.  Make learning so much fun that they don’t realize they are learning.  Make an alphabet book with pictures and drawings and items.  (For example:  The “C” page could have cotton balls glued on it.)

You are fortunate to be homeschooling now. There are a ton of free resources available for you online. We didn't have Internet when we started, and when we finally joined the World Wide Web it was nothing like we have now.

If I were starting over knowing what I know now, I would have taken a much more relaxed approach than I did. And I would have explored Charlotte Mason's ideas about education.

Recommended Resources: This group is led by Ruthie Shepherd the leader of the Florence-Richland Homeschool group. She posts TONS of free and cheap resources/links/etc. You should also follow her on Pinterest. ALMOST makes me wish I had a young one to homeschool again. LOL! Jimmie uses the Charlotte Mason approach and shares a lot of good information and ideas.

My previous HS posts: - They have a lot of worksheet and activities!  You can use some of the resources for free.  Membership is $20 for a year.  (At least the last time I looked.)  I actually joined the site twice and found it well worth my money.

I’ve said recently that if I were starting over again in 2013 knowing what I know now, I’d buy an Ipad if possible and utilize all the incredible educational apps they have.  (I bought Candace a Kindle Paperwhite during her senior year.  You can get hundreds of classics free for it without having to bother with the library.  It also gives you word definitions and Wikipedia entries.)

There is so much information out there it can be overwhelming.  YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL!  So don’t try! Just like you go to the grocery store, browse the shelves, and buy only what your family needs, check out all the resources and see what works for your family.  Every family is unique and so is every homeschool.  That is the beauty of this mode of learning/teaching.  Customize and ENJOY!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

If I Could Give You Anything

Dear Candace,

It’s graduation time.  You know what that means:  family gatherings, mushy cards, caps and gowns, hugs and kisses… and presents!  (Who doesn’t like presents!)  A few weeks ago I sat thinking about graduation gifts and what I would truly like to give you.

After much pondering this is what I came up with:  

If I could give you anything…

I would give you eyes to see yourself as God sees you:  Fully known, dearly loved, treasured possession, unconditionally accepted, Divinely equipped, especially chosen, wonderfully made, destined for victory.

I would give you confidence that is not shaken by popular opinion, criticism, the latest fad, test scores, beauty pageants, failures (or successes) bank accounts, number of friends, or fear of the unknown.

I would give you strength to choose the eternal over the temporary, right over wrong, endurance over quitting, substance over popularity, compassion over judgment, forgiveness over retaliation, and love over hate.

I would give you wisdom to always know what to do in any and every given situation.  Wisdom that sees the big picture – that sees everything in it’s true light.  I’d give you the mind of Christ.

I would give you love – a love so powerful and overwhelming that it more than satisfies your deepest emotional needs with such abundance that it spills over all those around you.  A love that is patient and kind, that always seeks the best and never fails.  I’d fill you with the love of Jesus.

Since these things are beyond my ability to give I am asking our God (out of His glorious riches) “to strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Be on the lookout for them.

I love you!

P.S.  The mushy letter is coming. :-)