A 15 Minute Family Lesson For Independence Day

Lalanne Beale Barber put together a beautiful Independence Day album and gave me permission to post it on my website. The title is “America’s Freedom.”

Before we celebrate today, this 4th of July, let us take about 15 minutes to read this post together as a family. Let us not forget!

Born of the desire for freedom, its 52 signers pledged “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” as they affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence.

 

MinutemenThe Minutemen bore the responsibility of the first charges at Concord & Lexington.

 

4th of July

The gentleman farmer left his beloved home to answer his nation’s call to command the first American army.

 

Flag

A new flag for a new nation.

 

Continental Army

 The Continental Army took on the most powerful nation in the then-known world.

 

George Washington

 General Washington cared deeply for his troops, even to the giving of his stores from Mount Vernon, and sustaining them with his personal attention.

 

Washington Praying in the snow

 The ragged, starving Continentals survived the winter of ’78 at Valley Forge, largely through their admiration of their commander and the goodness of God in answering their prayers.

 

America

The dream was born long before, on another shore, in another country, in other hearts that longed to be free to worship the God of their fathers.

Liberty

Liberty was proclaimed throughout the land in 1783.

Mount Rushmore

Our Founding Fathers and those who came after them procured the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity.

Soldiers

The Greatest Generation paid the greatest price to secure freedom for many peoples of the world.

Liberty~

“In New York Harbor, stands a Lady
With a torch raised to the sky.
And all who see her know she stands for
Liberty for you and me…”
Statue of liberty

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me—
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Holy Bible-Flag

The foundation of the laws of the new nation was built firmly upon God’s laws found in His Word.
Eagle

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
American flag

“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
Yes, for now—and may it ever be!

Pray~

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

 

Celebrate

Celebrate freedom! Celebrate liberty! Celebrate America!

American flag fireworks

Three cheers for the Red, White, and Blue!

God keep America free!

10 Foxes that Gnaw at a Marriage

When teaching us about marriage, why does God say, “Take (Seize) us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”( Song of Solomon 2:15)

Abide~Ye are the Vine

Barry and I have grapevines on our property.  We enjoy walking out to the grapevines and seeing how much larger the grapes have grown each day.  I plan to can jelly when we harvest the grapes.

Our harvest of grapes will be ruined if little foxes destroy the vines. Little foxes sneak into the vineyard when no one suspects that anything is wrong. They cannot reach the grapes, so they chew away at the vine.  The vine falls and then the little foxes eat the tender grapes. While gnawing and gnawing at the vine, suddenly, the entire grapevine is destroyed.

What are some little foxes we should seize that sneak into our marriage and gnaw away at our marriage?

  1. Critical Spirit/ fault finding/negative attitude in general ~Solution: (Eph. 4:29) Speak wholesome words; be thankful; care more about the relationship than with whose fault it is; focus on the 75% positive in husband; never back-stab husband, but lift him up to others.
  2. Unkind spirit/harsh talking, rude facial and body language~ Solution: (Eph. 4:32) Be kind and tenderhearted.
  3. Wanting your way/ being inconsiderate ~Solution: (Acts 20:35) Decide foxto out-give him. Think: It is better to give to him than to receive. Serve him, as unto God, even when inconvenienced. Enjoy putting a smile on your husband’s face.
  4. Anger/playing tape in mind over and over ~Solution: (Eph. 4:32) Forgive and think on Phil. 4:8
  5. Bad Habit(s)~ Solution: (Phil. 4:13) Seek God; replace with good habit (takes about 30 days for a new habit to replace bad habit)
  6. Sarcastic Expressions/ “Not again!” “Oh, yeah, right!” “Whatever!” ~Solution: (Prov.31) Do him good. A spouse tends to live up to your praise of him.
  7. Unteachable  ~Solution: (Phil. 3:13) Keep learning.
  8. Coldness  ~Solution: (Eph. 5:18) Talk to God and get filled with the Spirit; then gently talk to your spouse about the problem.
  9. Nagging ~Solution: Kindly request the need; make an appointment with husband to discuss need. (See Esther) “Sweetie, can I tell you what I have a need for?”
  10. Dishonesty ~Solution: (Prov. 12:22) Confess and go the extra mile to establish trust.

The first step of ridding our marriage of gnawing foxes is to identify the fox(es) that we are allowing to eat up the good fruit of oneness and unity in our marriage. Humbly seek to solve the attitude or problem.

1. We need to expect the Lord, not our husband to meet our deep needs.  Only the Lord can give us abundant joy and inner peace.

2. We cannot fix our husband.

3. We can only fix ourselves.

4. The way I treat my Litttle foxes spoil vineshusband will affect my marriage for either good or bad.

To have oneness in our marriage, let us get rid of foxes in our lives.  There is one fox I am seizing right now! That little fox is a goner! Seize your fox today! You can do it! I want to be an irresistible wife. I know you want to be an irresistible wife to your husband too.

“Lord, I am in need of a humble heart.”

Marriage
The look of love~ Have you given your husband the look of love today?

A humble heart diffuses arguments, does not rehash hurts, learns from criticism, submits to God and husband, is grateful, is forgiving, seeks peace, asks for forgiveness and prays. As we pray, God gives us grace; the desire and power to be an overcomer.

Feel in the blank: “Right now I seize the fox of _________________ that is gnawing away at my marriage and I will meditate on the corresponding Scripture. I will take the proper steps to develop new habits and Godly character in order to seize the fox of _______________ and have a fruitful marriage. I will put off fleshly thinking and put on the mind of Christ.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25

Have you given hubby the look of love today that is reserved for his eyes only? Why not? The “look” is a great way to start the day. Seize the gnawing fox today and become a new and irresistible you.

Homeschool: God’s Best For Our Family (Part 5)

To the right is one of my favorite family pictures.  I do wish we had taken more professional family pictures.  I will pass that wish on to you, young mothers, so you will do better than me in that area.

This is part five, and the final unedited copy of our magazine article, published as a result of a pastor writing a negative article in a Christian magazine stereotyping homeschool parents and homeschool children. This pastor falsely believed that all homeschool families going to his church and other churches should put their children in their local church school.

The pastor wrote, “Homeschooling breeds an isolationist attitude. Some parents refuse to send their child to a Christian school for fear that their child may have to face some mistreatment by either the students or the teacher. Your child needs mistreatment by both peers and authority, or how will they learn to deal with relationships and be responsible in a real world outside your home? When homeschool children become older, their weaknesses (which are their parent’s weaknesses) and lack of people skills become more obvious… ”

My thoughts on this article:

1. I encourage homeschool families to be in a local church that is biblically sound and homeschool friendly. Prayer is the key to finding just the right church God has for your family. The father, not the pastor, will give an account before God for his family. God will reveal to the parents, His perfect will for his family through prayer, Scriptures and by His peace. With homeschooling, God revealed His will to me first; I immediately shared with my husband what the Lord had shown me. Barry instantly had peace from God and knew we were to homeschool.

school
Typical classroom with same age peers

2. The devil blinds people. The devil is called, “the accuser of the brethren” and is behind this type of thinking. Why else would people think a classroom of 25 same-age peers sitting in lined-up desks is the real world? How many times do we encounter that situation again after we graduate from college? The pastor of the article said that children need mistreatment, so they need to be sent to school. What? Some people live their entire lives trying to get over unnecessary abuse from peers and teachers. He falsely stated “Homeschooling breeds an isolationist attitude, and homeschoolers lack people skills,” when the truth is: Homeschooled children are known for their incredible people skills.  Most homeschooled children communicate well with all ages, including adults, because they interact with all ages and are not isolated into peer group settings.

Because our pastor was concerned about this negative article stereotyping homeschool families, he encouraged us to contact the editor, which we did. After talking to my husband, the editor had a better understanding of homeschool families and apologized for the negative article, saying, “I am sorry. I did not know.”

Part 5

The good ole days~our children have always been a joy!
The good ole days~our children have always been a joy!

The following Scriptures spoke to my heart about homeschooling:

Titus 2:3-5 states that a wife, who is a mother, is to be a keeper (guard) at home.  What is a mother to be guarding at home if her children are away at school?  I Timothy 5:14 says a wife is to “bear children, guide the house…”  Who is the mother guiding in the home, if no one is there?

Our homeschool day began with a disciplined schedule.

Barry reading his Bible with Melinda in his lap~so precious!
Barry reading his Bible with Melinda on his lap~so precious!

6:00-7:00 The children got dressed and had their personal Quiet Times. We asked them what the Lord showed them in their Quiet Times, because it is important for children to personally experience God. Proverbs 8:17 “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”

7:00-7:30 Barry consistently led the family in Bible reading and prayer every day before he left for work.  This consistency in reading God’s Word and praying as a family within the home was the reason Melinda gave as to why she never rebelled.

7:30-8:00 The children had a daily checklist which included household duties.  We all live in the home, so we all worked to keep it organized, clean and uncluttered.

8:00- After I (mother) shared something special about the Lord with the children, each child had an academic checklist for the school year, tailored to their age.

We teamed up with other like-minded families to co-op once a week as we learned history, Science and Spanish together in an exciting way. One year, our family, along with several other families helped our children produce an elaborate play on the life of Christ as an out-reach to the community. Each year of homeschooling was an exciting adventure for our family.

By 1:30 or 2:00 p.m., our school day was usually completed.

Melinda, our daughterWe were part of a homeschool program called Advanced Training Institute (ATI),and in the evenings we planned family time around the Wisdom Booklets which focused on a Godly character quality each month.  Our family also enjoyed gathering around the living room to read a biography together of someone whose life had exemplified the Godly character quality we had been studying. One day, Melinda was asked this question, “If you could give one reason as to why you never rebelled, what reason would you give?”  Without hesitation, Melinda said, “My Dad daily led the family each morning in Bible reading and prayer.”  Families need consistency in doing what counts for eternity. We credit ATI for encouraging my husband to take this leadership role in our family.

siblings singing

An advantage to homeschooling our children was the time element involved; more time was available to pursue personal interests such as music, art, computer or minister together in the community. There was no homework and we did not watch much television, so evenings were free to spend with Dad. The highlight of the afternoon was when our household looked forward to “Daddy” returning home from work. I made sure we were home at that time of the day.  At 5:00 p.m., “Daddy’s home!” excitedly rang out all over the house.  The race was on to see who would welcome Daddy home first.  Our dog usually won the race.

Because of homeschooling, our children’s hearts were toward us, and they cared about what we cared about.  Kristen, Brandon and Melinda each trusted the Lord at a young age and they were each saved at home.

When asked why they never rebelled:

1. Melinda: #1 reason~ “My Dad daily led our family in Bible reading and prayer within our home.”

2nd reason: After a little extra thought, Melinda added, “My parents were real and not hypocrites. I watched them walk with the Lord both within the home and outside the home.”

Our family2. Brandon said, “The number one reason I did not rebel was because my parents encouraged me to hang out with nice friends.

3. Kristen said that having a good and close relationship with her parents kept her from rebelling. See Special Time With Mom~

roseWe were in God’s perfect will for our family when we homeschooled. Our children not only desired to please us, they desired to please the Lord.  We cannot thank the Lord enough for what He has done!

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  3 John 1:4

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole (without soup)

Andra Bond, a homeschool mom, kindly shared her delicious version of Chicken Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole. I just cooked it for my family. It is yummy! Great for church pot luck dinners too!

Andra said, “I had some leftover veggies and cheese from Alex’s graduation, as well as some rice from a recent meal. I had no idea what to fix for supper that night, and I googled those ingredients on a whim. I found a recipe that I adapted to come up with the final creation. It was very good, and Ricky even asked me to keep the recipe. That’s always a good thing.”

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups cooked rice (1 cup uncooked)
2 cups broccoli florets, cooked, drained (fresh or frozen)
1 chicken bouillon cube*
1 small can mushroom stems & pieces, liquid included* (or fresh mushrooms microwaved with 1 cup water)
Cream Sauce* (recipe below)**
3 ounces cheddar cheese, grated or chopped into small chunks
3 ounces deli American cheese (NOT plastic-wrapped American), grated or chopped into small chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease 9×13 pan.
3. Saute onions in olive oil until transparent.
3. Prepare cream sauce, then add onions and cheese pieces. Stir over low-medium heat to melt thoroughly.
4. Spread cooked rice evenly on bottom of baking dish.
5. Spread cooked broccoli over rice.
6. Pour 1/3 of the cheese sauce mixture over the broccoli rice and spread evenly.
7. Spread out chicken on top of cheese sauce and top with remaining sauce.
8. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Sauce~photo taken after onions and cheese added-I then stirred it until melted.
Sauce~photo taken after onions and cheese added-I then stirred it until melted.

**Cream sauce: Melt 1/2 cup butter or margarine or combination of the two in a large skillet. Stir in 6 Tbsp. flour. When blended, slowly add 2 cups milk. Add bouillon cube and mushrooms with liquid. Stir until thickened and bouillon cube is completely dissolved. (In this step, heavenbound homemaker added pepper to taste.)

Homeschool: God’s Best for Our Family (Part 4)

The photo is of our family many years ago…time has flown~

After reading the negative magazine article written by a pastor that stereotyped homeschool parents and children, I felt compassion for the homeschool families who attend churches where the pastor is not “on board” with their God-given walk plankdecision. The family is made to feel like they are “walking the plank” to destruction. The pastor who authored the article said, “The family that rejects the local church school ministry will be destroyed.” This statement makes me so sad for families who are taught this lie. For this reason, my husband and I spoke to the editor and wrote our story.

Homeschool families need encouragement in their God-given decision. Churches should encourage families to be strong in the Lord and to be “father led” families. The father must give an account before the Lord for his family, not the pastor.

Getting counsel is wise, but praying about that counsel to see if it lines up with the will of God for one’s family is extremely wise. We got advice from our Pastor on several issues. He helped us in so many decisions, but he did not fault us when we did not take his advice. It is alright to politely say “Thank you for your counsel, but after prayer, God is leading our family in another direction.” I always tell people that I counsel, to pray about my advice, and throw it out, if they don’t have peace about the advice. Counsel should be given to help people, not to control them. I have found that one key to failure is trying to please everyone. Being controlled by the opinions of others is a guarantee to miss God’s plan for one’s life.

With our decision to homeschool, some well-meaning people sat Barry and I down at a table to try to talk us out of homeschooling. They said, “Don’t homeschool! You will ruin your children!” We finally said, “Talk to God about it, and if He changes our minds, then we won’t homeschool.”  God never changed our minds.  Many years later, one of those at the “round table,” regretfully told me that they should have homeschooled and maybe things would have turned out differently for their family.

Here is Part 4 of the unedited copy of the article that Barry and I wrote for the Christian magazine.

I cannot imagine the journey of my life without Jesus! I think my life would have been a mess. I would not have met my wonderful husband at a Bible Study. I would not have homeschooled, because I would not have sought God’s wisdom and direction.

Because of the Lord, our homeschool years turned out to be extremely fulfilling years.  It meant everything to me to keep our children from rebelling and going down a destructive path.  We live in desperate times, so our family needed to take drastic measures. Homeschooling was that drastic measure.

The magazine article stereotyping all homeschool families falsely stated, “Homeschooling hinders the maturing process of the child.”

In response, I wrote about how our Pastor was encouraged by the maturity level of our children. He asked Melinda, our youngest daughter to teach fourth grade Melinda~church pianistSunday school children when she was only fourteen. Our Pastor said that he normally would not allow someone as young as Melinda to teach Sunday school, but because of her spiritual maturity, he made an exception. Melinda, became the church pianist at age seventeen after the former church pianist, her sister, married and moved.

Because of visiting the bus kid’s homes, Melinda told us how grateful she was to have us as parents.  Some of the bus kids came from homes where the Dad was in jail, the mom was a prostitute, the parents were drug addicts and so on. From serving these children, Melinda came to appreciate the home God put her in. Her investment in these children’s lives was fruitful as many of these bus kids trusted Jesus (and some are doing very well today as adults).

The Lord has blessed Melinda with the gift of teaching. She teaches piano and art

Melinda~I joke about how I allowed Melinda to write on our walls as a child. She painted beautiful murals in our home.
Melinda~I joke about how I allowed Melinda to write on our walls as a child. She painted beautiful murals in our home.

in the home and enjoys serving others with hospitality. One of our favorite qualities of Melinda is her consideration and thoughtfulness of us and others.

We went to a church that encouraged our family to serve together and allowed us to worship, sitting together as a family in the service. Many times a teen or two, who rode the bus to church sat with our family during the service. They needed to feel like they were part of a family, since their parents did not come to church.

We taught our son and daughters the principle: investing in people is important

to God according to 1 Corinthians 3:6-9.

We wanted them to develop a heart for the lost and missions.We took many

Melinda, passing out necessities and Gospel tracts while the people were looking through a garbage dump in Mexico.
Melinda, passing out necessities and Gospel tracts while the people were looking through a garbage dump in Mexico.

family mission trips to foreign countries. Do we have exciting stories to tell about these mission trips! Many people were saved, praise God!

Our family conducted Bible Clubs in neighborhoods, nursing homes

Melinda, teaching the Bible in the daycare which was run by an atheist... God is awesome!
Melinda, teaching the Bible in the daycare which was run by an atheist… God is awesome!

and daycares.

One daycare owner said, “I really don’t know why I allow you to come every summer to teach the Bible, because I am an atheist.” I can remember feeling shocked and in awe as I thought, “Thank you, Lord!” Many got saved and the atheist sat in while we taught God’s Word.

The negative article that stereotyped homeschool families was written by a pastor who had homeschooled a short time for the reason of convenience. He then started a Christian school at his church, and thought all the homeschool families going to his church should put their children in the church Christian school. This pastor stated, “The acid test for every parent in determining God’s will concerning your child’s education is found by answering one question. Have you counseled with your pastor?…I oppose any institution (homeschool) which pits itself against the church….”

This pastor then misquoted Hebrews 13:17 as meaning he was supposed to rule in the lives of his congregation and they were to obey his counsel, (like puppets). A pastor, who correctly interprets Hebrews 13:17, will compare Scripture with Scripture, (as our Pastor did) and teach Hebrews 13:17 means we are to obey the Word of God that pastors preach. (See Titus 1:3)  We obey the Word of God, not the Pastor’s opinion.

Of course, homeschoolers are not against the church because they do not send their children to a church school! Homeschooling families need the encouragement of their pastor; they are not institutions pitting themselves against the church. God may lead a family to put their children in a Christian church school or to homeschool.  Through much prayer, the parents will get direction. I am grateful to have had a pastor who taught that God gives direction to a family through the father. Our pastor states that God does not send him a parent’s mail.

According to God’s Word, the responsibility for educating one’s children was given by God to the parents.  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 gives the parent the command to teach God’s words diligently to his children. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

Spurgeon said, “To teach our children is a personal duty; we cannot delegate it to Sunday School teachers or other friendly aids.”

I am glad we did not follow the advice of those who sat us around the table trying to talk us out of God’s will for our family. It was hard to listen to, “Don’t homeschool! You will ruin your children!” That was a difficult time for me. I have a deep desire for approval from others, and the feeling of being looked down upon is awful. I am not only referring to the decision to homeschool; I am referring to any God-led decision. Have you ever made a decision where you knew deep down in your heart that you were in the center of God’s will, but you also felt hurt, because others misunderstood or disapproved?

roseI write this next statement for myself and for those who know they are doing God’s will, but feel hurt from the disapproval and misunderstanding of others: Let us never allow our desire of approval to override God’s will for our family. Amen?