Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Successful children

This is a good read. It grabbed my attention especially because it's not what I thought the article would be about, looking at the title. Successful children... It was a good reminder about what I really should be searching for my children to succeed in! Read on...

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

--Luke 10:27

I know you want your family to be successful. Whether you're a parent or grandparent, you want your children to be healthy, successful, and productive.

But what is true success? Jesus addressed this in Luke 10 when he was confronted by a lawyer asking, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus replied with a question, "What is written in the Law?" The answer is our verse today: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus said, "Do this, and you will live" (Luke 10:28). If you want your children to really live, a successful life comes from a strong faith.

You may be asking, "So how do I instill that faith into my children?"

It's not as hard as society likes to pretend. You see, God wants your children to know and love Him even more than you do.

That is why He has provided you with an instruction manual, His Word. If you and I simply apply the Scriptures to our lives and homes, we will raise godly children!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Seduction of Covetousness

I received these thoughts in an email today and thought that they would be appropriate to share at this time of year. If you're like most of us, you spent a little bit more than you planned on your Christmas shopping, and now you are left with an envelope full of receipts, a few memories of smiles, and well, bills to pay. Why do we do this? Why are we always after more? What are we teaching our kids about contentedness and covetousness? Here are a few thoughts from someone smarter than me on this....

One of the verses we read in our last devotional was Luke 12:15, which says,

And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

Jesus begins His teaching regarding prosperity in this passage by saying, "Beware of covetousness." In our society, even in the Church, there are a lot of people whose lives are tied up in "things." The focus of their life is their stuff, and doing whatever they can to acquire even more things.

It is what the Bible calls covetousness.

I want to ask you today, is your heart filled with covetousness? Do you find yourself thinking, "I know the missing ingredient in my life, I just need a little more. If I could just get a little more, I would be happy. If I could just build a bigger house and fill it with a little more stuff...if I could get a nicer car...if I could upgrade...then I would be happy, and then I would be successful."?

A little more, a little more, a little more.

The problem is, however, that desire for more never stops. In fact, as we will see in our next devotional, God called a man a fool because he never realized that riches are only temporary.

If you find your life driven by the need for more things, if you are consumed with stuff, if you define your success by what you have (or do not have), then you have been seduced by covetousness, and you will never find the happiness you are looking for.

Do not be a fool seeking after things. Instead, make the passion of your life seeking after God.

Visit the Answers with Bayless Conley website for more ways to Connect with God

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Real Santa

The Real St. Nicholas
This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Many families choose not to include Santa Claus as a part of their Christmas celebrations. The legend of Santa, the North Pole, flying reindeer, keeping naughty and nice lists, and coming down the chimney can seem as just too much distraction from the true meaning of Christmas for many Christian families. But, whatever your family chooses to do with Santa Claus, it may be worthwhile to consider the historical St. Nicholas.

"Nicholas lived long ago, in the third century, in a place called Asia Minor, what is now the country of Turkey. His parents died from an illness while Nicholas was a teenager and left him a large inheritance of money. Nicholas' parents taught him about Jesus. As he grew older, he followed the teachings of Jesus and sold all his possessions, secretly giving money to those in need.

"Nicholas became well-loved by the people and later became the Bishop of Myra. He died on December 6, 343 A.D. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration in his honor, called St. Nicholas Day. On this day, children would give and receive small gifts of candy, chocolate initial letters, or riddles hidden in baked goods or in elaborate packaging. Children also hung stockings by the fire or placed shoes filled with carrots and hay for the horse, eagerly awaiting gifts from St. Nicholas. Gold balls or oranges were given to represent the gifts of gold once given by St. Nicholas."[1]

Influenced by St. Nicholas' popularity in Europe, immigrants brought his story and tradition to America. Over the years, legend was wedded to historical elements and developed into our modern day Santa Claus.

While we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, we can have an appropriate appreciation for the lives He has touched. This includes those whose lives demonstrated compassion and selflessness out of their love for Jesus. St. Nicholas was such a person.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Money matters

I'm very excited about one of the classes that one of my kids will be taking through our homeschool co-op: a twelve week class called "Money Matters" aimed at teaching the kiddos a bit about managing their money responsibly. I wish I had spent a little more time learning about that kind of stuff when I was growing up. Perhaps it would have spared me some costly mistakes.

My husband and I had a nasty brush with getting over our heads in debt a few years back, and we had to do a lot of research into the options that were available to dig out from under. It is such an overwhelming spot to be in, until you realize that there are helps available. One of the things that we checked into was debt settlement, a process where you get help negotiating with lenders to reduce interest rates and even amounts of debt, to make getting out of debt a little bit easier. There are even more options out there now than there were then, thankfully.

I've come across a company recently called NetDebt. They've revolutionized the debt industry by creating the nation’s only completely online enrollment solution. Their entire process is online. They have representatives standing by if you need them, but don't require monthly counseling sessions and such, that can be tricky to fit in if you're trying to work extra hours to get out of debt! I haven't used their services personally, but it looks like it merits checking into. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

1 Corinthians 13 - Christmas Style

I came across this neat interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13. It's full of good reminders for all of us this holiday season. I think I should print this out and stick it on my fridge, or maybe on my forehead :). Have you read this before?

1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style
©By Sharon Jaynes

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family - It profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Monday, December 8, 2008

An Obesity Epidemic

I was reading some back magazine issues today and found an article in a Ladies' Home Journal Magazine that gave these statistics:
  • 16% of 6 to 19 year olds are overweight, triple the proportion in 1980
  • 43% of adolescents watch more than 2 hours of tv each day, with additional time spent on computer and video games
  • Only 31% of parents of obese children are aware that their children are very overweight
  • 71% of ninth graders take physical education , compared with 40% of 12th graders
  • Being overweight increases a teen's chance of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression

Scary stuff. I have no idea how those numbers compare to adult statistics, but I'm sure that that those are high too. In our culture it's so easy to be sedentary, and so hard to change once you're there...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Boys being boys?

As my girls get older, and interact more with other kids, I'm noticing that there are definitely differences between boys and girls. Shocking, eh? Really, I went through public schools in the 70s and 80s, and I was kind of fed a unisex ideology. Girls can do anything boys can, and boys can do anything girls can, and there really is no difference between the two. Even when I got married, I didn't fully acknowledge that we were different, just figured I was right and my husband was not quite there with me.... Nice, right? Well, with age comes a little wisdom I guess. Adding a little boy to our home through foster care has been an eye opener too. We've had this little guy since he was a year and a half, little, so we know all that he's been exposed do for a good chunk of his memorable life. We've been careful to not expose him to a lot of violence and junk, just like we were with our girls. Yet, you know what, his plastic golf club has still become a gun. He "shoots" trees with sticks and chases the dog around the house going "pow pow" with a dull pencil. He just naturally, truly on his own, has developed an interest in weapon type stuff. Obviously we're not rushing out to buy him a real gun, but it's got me thinking. Just because there are some kids who have lost it and done horrible things with weapons in recent years, does that mean that it can't be okay for boys to have beebee guns and do target practice? I certainly want to keep my kids and those around us safe, but if my child is interested at looking at Blackhawk CQC Holsters and other "guy things" in catalogs, might that just be a good opportunity to sit with him and look with him, talking about the responsibility of weapon ownership, and of the dangers of not exercising that responsibility and good judgement? I am a firm believer in teachable moments, and think that so often we miss them in being careful to do what we are "supposed" to be doing.
Anyway, that's my random rambling for the day....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Walking in the light

If you're like me, you don't always have, or take opportunities to back up and reflect too much. I mean, the kids are around you pretty much non-stop. The to-do list is ever present. You know what, though, even a few minutes can make a big difference. Sneak away for a moment and recharge with this little devotional...

Isa. 50:10: Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God (NIV).
In a world of darkness, it's easy to lose sight of our path. At times, we may feel like we are stumbling through life, trying to feel our way in the dark. But the hope for believers is that there is light, and it is found in the Lord!

Don't get discouraged living in a world of darkness. We will experience God's full glory in heaven soon enough. Until then, obey the Lord. He promises to light your way. By living in obedience to Him and following His leading, we can be an example of hope to our children as they go through life.

Try not to get discouraged by the things of this world. Rely on God as the lamp unto your feet.
Parenting by Design ( was created by Chris & Michelle Groff with Lee Long, MA, LPC to help parents understand the Biblical model for parenting their children. It is a faith-based parenting series that compares current parenting paradigms to the ageless parenting principles in the Bible.

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Vacation time?

I grew up in western New York state, and as a kiddo we vacationed in southern New Jersey quite a bit. It was far enough away to feel like a real trip, but close enough to not be crazy to drive with kids. Even though we've been near this area in recent years, and even driven pretty much through it, I've never taken my kids on a Jersey Shore beach vacation. I really think that I'd like to, to show them where I went and what I did with their aunts when I was a child. I still remember playing in the sand, diving in the waves, and visiting all of the souvenir shops. We have beaches near us now, but swimming in a lake isn't the same as swimming in the Atlantic ocean. It's definitely a different and memorable experience.

I found a neat resource online in Morey’s Piers. They are a great place for a “New Jersey Vacation” and their website is a great place to find hotels & motels in Wildwood. Morey's Piers is a staple among New Jersey attractions, with its amusement park rides and many other boardwalk attractions. They're even having an annual holiday sale right now, from December 1 through January 9. There are specials discounting nearly 40% on a Season Pass to both waterparks. Wow!! That could make a family vacation a lot more affordable.

I'll have to do a little more digging and a little more planning, but maybe I'll see you at the boardwalk before too long!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


"When you come to a roadblock, take a detour."

-Mary Kay Ash
One of the very cool things about homeschooling is the flexibility that we have to make detours when we need to. If our children are having a hard time learning in a certain way, we can change the way of teaching it. If our children are interested in a certain topic, we can detour from our planned studies and dive into it for a bit. If we need to place more emphasis on something at certain times, even non academic things like character training, we can do that. Our roadblocks don't need to be a source of frustration, but a source of guidance and an opportunity for thinking through our path...