Unwholesome Talk and Our Need for Filters

We watched God’s Not Dead last night. Part way through the movie a boyfriend (Schmuck, as Don called him) and girlfriend are dressed up and eating at a fancy restaurant. The man tells the woman he got a promotion at work. The woman looks at the man with fear in her eyes and says, “I have cancer.” There is a slight pause before the man says, “You couldn’t have waited until tomorrow to tell me this?” (Schmuck!)

It was at this point in the movie Kenneth spoke up, “You know how we all have a filter from our brains to our mouths? You know, something that stops you from saying things out loud? Well I think this guy has a giant hole in his filter.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

I picture this brain-to-mouth filter as a screen. A properly functioning screen looks like this:

screen

 

 

 

Some of us have a screen in need of repair.

screen with tear

Just like the screen in my illustration allows unwanted wasps or bees into our home, the broken filter in our brains may allow inappropriate thoughts out of our mouths.

I think our uncaring boyfriend (who obviously has a hole in his heart as big as the hole in his filter) has a screen that looks like this:

screen with big hole

Only bigger animals and objects are going to be stopped by that thing. A rock could sail right through without slowing down. And those hurt! Almost as much as unfiltered thoughts sailing past our lips.

What does your filter look like?

Is it in need of repair?

Does it need a gigantic patch?

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Eph 4:29

An Orphan Boy, A Pregnant Girl, and Teenage Rebellion: What’s the Connection?

Today my children and I finished a book about a boy who is orphaned twice, once as an infant and again when his family dies in the plague that hit London in 1665. As DCFS was non-existent at the time, this eleven-and-a-half-year-old boy is left to fend for himself. He is dejected and downtrodden, believing his life is worthless. The boy meets up with a man willing to help him out “temporarily.” This man is a wanderer who doesn’t necessarily care if he makes enough money today in order to eat tomorrow. And while he is a huge asset to the boy, the boy’s picture of himself remains one of bleakness.

Last week, I read a non-fiction book in which the author, a girl, fakes a pregnancy for her senior year project. This girl’s mom became pregnant at the age of fourteen, had seven children, and, later, birthed the book’s author out of wedlock. Most, if not all, of the author’s seven older siblings had children before their senior years in high school. The author’s project centered on the thoughts and feelings of teen moms as well as stereotypes and expectations. She believes a person’s image of him/herself and subsequent behavior is highly affected by others’ expectations and actions toward him/her. Even though the author had vowed to stay celibate through high school and was in the top 5% of her class, she heard comments like, “I knew it. It runs in the family,” when she announced her (fake) pregnancy.[1]

During Don’s sermon on Sunday, he held a Styrofoam cup in one hand and a crystal wine glass in the other.[2]  One is disposable, the other precious. Some people see themselves as the throw-away cup—useless, unnecessary. God sees them as the crystal wine glass—valuable, beneficial . . . priceless.

Yesterday I began reading a book called Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion against Low Expectations. The authors believe teenagers have underperformed for years because that is what society expects. They are calling for teens to rise above these expectations and excel—to push themselves beyond what comes easy, to take responsibility, come out of their comfort zones, and rise to their potential.[3]

How we see ourselves is paramount in determining the choices we make. Too many times we allow others’ beliefs about us to affect our choices. We tend to rise or sink to the level of expectations of those around us, forgetting that the truest things about us are what God says.[4]

And what about that eleven-and-a-half-year-old boy? He stumbles upon a mapmaker willing to teach him. In the process, the mapmaker sees in the boy the qualities and artistic skills necessary for making maps. At the end of the book this Master gives the boy a home and tells him, “To me you are of great consequence—an heir for my treasure. Not sacks of gold. I speak of the treasure in my head, my eye, my fingers. . . . You are the gift of God, an empty cup sent to me to pour my treasure into . . .”[5]

And so, you are of great consequence—you are the gift of God, an empty cup (crystal wine glass) sent for His treasure to be poured into. Do hard things—things that can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit backed by the belief that you are valuable. Along the road, encourage others to rise above the status quo and display God’s wondrous power.

Ephesians 2.10


[1] The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez with Jenna Glatzer

[2] For a link to Don Winters’ sermon Physical & Spiritual Blindness, click here.

[3] Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris

[4] See Ephesians 1

[5] Master Cornhill by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Leave a Legacy of God’s Love to a Thousand Generations

B D L and Mom May 1992.1My mom blessed me with a box of old pictures. Some date all the way back to 1968 . . . the beginning.

In the span of 15 inches (of stacked pictures) I age 40+ years. My life literally flashes before my eyes (especially if I fan them quickly, like one of those old-time flipbooks in which the little character drawn on the bottom of each page looks like he’s walking or eating).

But it’s not the pictures of me that I am enamored with; it’s those of my family, some of whom have since passed on. I see a picture of my grandmother holding me as a baby and wish I could ask her what she was thinking.

Barb as little girl1

I see a picture of my three-year-old self kissing my little sister and want to reach through the 243-mile gap and plant one on her in the here and now. I see a picture of my nineteen year old son as a toddler and can hear the sounds he was making when I snapped the picture.

I laugh. I cry. I long.

I long for a simpler time. I long to stop the clock so my children won’t grow up. I also long to create an environment in which they look back and smile.

Barb Donna Dad Grandma Grandpap1

It’s the time of year when the value of family prevails. “Family” (children, parents, grandparents, in-laws, adopted families, church families, etc.) is found at the top of most Thanksgiving lists.

This leads me to ask: How do I preserve these precious moments, these delicate relationships? How do I capture and retain something that is ever-changing and contains so many dynamics?  How do I hold on and let go? How do I protect those who follow behind me?

I realize I cannot pause time and hold fast to my dear babies; however, I can (and will) influence the next generation and, probably, the one after that. The memories will impact their lives. So I want to be purposeful in my teachings and behaviors. I desire to model Godly wisdom . . . and Godly love. If I keep my eyes on the Creator, they will too.

Exodus 20

Homeschool Co-ops 101 by Karen Lange, Book Tour & $25 Amazon GC Giveaway

homeschool co-ops 101

Read to the end for Book Review and Giveaway Information 

Essential co-op tools, tips, and options for today’s homeschool families.

Thinking about joining or starting a homeschool co-op? Not sure if a co-op is a good fit? Homeschool Co-ops 101 weighs the pros, cons, and creative options available for today’s homeschool family.

  • Section 1 includes essential, digestible info on co-op ingredients such as planning and organization, schedules, teaching, finances, and addressing conflict and burnout.
  • Section 2 shares a sampling of co-op games and activities, and
  • Section 3 contains five hands-on unit studies. These ready to use studies include lessons on Leonardo da Vinci, Birds of Prey, Public Speaking, Tall Tales, and Creative Writing, and are suitable for co-op or home use. This section also includes unit study guidelines that are easily customized to suit any topic.
  • Section 4 offers suggested books, curriculum, and other resources.

Karen Lange has gathered insight from years of co-oping and now shares her own and others’ experiences in this valuable and encouraging handbook.

Homeschool Co-ops 101 is available at:

~~~Amazon~~~

~~~Barnes and Noble~~~

~~~Kobo~~~

karen langeAbout the Author

Karen Lange, her husband, and three children were active in co-ops during their sixteen-year homeschool journey. Her experience includes serving as a local homeschool support group coordinator and consultant for a state homeschool network in New Jersey. Karen’s children have since graduated, and she is now a freelance writer and online writing instructor for homeschooled teens.

You can connect with Karen at her Blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.

homeschool co-ops 101

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review

I am a homeschool mom of fifteen years and have helped lead three different homeschool groups. Therefore I have a vested interest in this topic and am happy to offer this book review.

This short, straight-forward book contains practical advice and useful steps on organizing, teaching, and scheduling co-ops, along with other helpful hints and numerous resources. I particularly like that Karen considers different family goals in her suggestions. She also recommends that families be flexible while searching for the right co-op fit. Lange states:

It may take a while to find the right organizational setup for your co-op. This is to be expected when working with new situations, unexpected circumstances, and varied personalities. The co-op experience mirrors the homeschool journey; there are ups and downs, trial and error and resulting adjustments. Do not be discouraged; count it as a good and necessary part of the process.

I recommend this inexpensive book for anyone considering joining or starting a homeschool co-op.

The Giveaway

Open to US addresses only. One person will receive a $25 Amazon GC and a copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101. Please use the Rafflecopter below to be entered:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be chosen from those entries and announced December 5, 2013. Good luck!

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as e-mailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Diane at That’s What I’m Here For… and sponsored by the author, Karen Lange. The author provided me with a free copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101 to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a giveaway in return for the free book.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Today Counts

clock

When making food choices, I sometimes pretend that today doesn’t count. I’m out of town or I’m celebrating or I’m with friends, etc. So I tell myself that today’s choices are somehow null and void and I’ll pick up my “right choice thinking” tomorrow. (Click here to read another post on this.)

What I am realizing is I periodically have this “today doesn’t count” attitude in other areas. Not all, though. For example, I always choose to brush my teeth and take a shower. (Aren’t you glad?) And in homeschooling, I know every day counts and organize each school year accordingly. I allow for 180 days of schooling and use an accommodating curriculum. That’s not to say we are rigid. This year we started two weeks early so we could take a two-week vacation in September. I planned for it because I know the choices I make today (every day) will affect tomorrow’s outcomes.

However I am not as disciplined in all areas of life. Therefore I must pause to consider if I give the most important areas proper attention on a daily basis. Or do I take this “today doesn’t count” attitude more often than I should? The choices I make today, whether deliberate and prayer-filled or impulsive and whimsical, will affect tomorrow and the next day and the next. There is a cumulative effect. The person I am next week, month, and year is a direct result of the minor decisions I make today. And, to further complicate matters, there is a trickledown effect. I, in fact, do not live in a bubble—my attitude, knowledge, and disposition rub off on those around me. The most effective way to teach my children self-discipline is to model it.

So which areas require daily cultivation in an intentional manner? I suggest you ask God to show you. For me, the list includes (but is not limited to): Bible reading, prayer, physical well-being, and relationships—with God, my husband, my children, my church family, and friends.

In which areas of life do you sometimes take a “today doesn’t count” attitude?

Will you prayerfully consider making a change today?

Of Course I Have an Agenda

1 Peter 3:15

Of course I have an agenda.

Don’t we all?

And . . . really . . . shouldn’t we all?

I recently heard a teacher chuckle while she told of someone accusing her of brainwashing the children in her classroom. She wouldn’t, or couldn’t, entertain the thought in the least. And while I don’t believe she is actually brainwashing her students, she probably has an agenda. I’m guessing she would have adamantly denied that possibility also.

Depending on the setting, having an agenda may be interpreted positively or negatively. At meetings, most desire an agenda (outline, schedule, etc.), preferably written. The meeting flows more efficiently. However, typically, referring to someone as “having an agenda” has a negative connotation. We’ve expanded the definition of having an agenda to mean:  this person wants to change others’ way of thinking. He or she wants to persuade his/her audience into believing his/her way.

I’d like to challenge our thoughts about “having an agenda;” because whether we like it or not, most of us have one. For example, when I ask my children to pick up their clothes, my agenda (or plan) is to have a clean floor.

I find it interesting when someone points to a religious group other than his/her own and says, “They have an agenda.” Well, duh! We each should be so sold out in our belief system we have an agenda—to convince others our belief set is the right one.

Do I have an agenda when I am homeschooling? Absolutely! To educate my children in academics and life skills. To teach my children how to interact with others in a loving, respectful, godly manner. To teach my children to work hard and diligently and to be proud of their endeavors. And to raise my children as God-fearing, God-loving Christians who understand the Bible and have an intimate relationship with the Lord.

Do I have an agenda when I speak to others about church and Christ? Definitely! To point them to Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Do I have an agenda on this blog? Certainly! To glorify God and helps others find hope in Christ in the midst of everyday life.

Do you have an agenda? If not, maybe you should.

Character Building

Washington Monument under construction

Washington Monument Under Construction

Upward Bound Home School classes begin today. I spent a lot of time praying and preparing for this day. As a parent and teacher of my children, I have an interest in their lives as a whole, not just their academics. I want my children to be well-rounded, so to speak. After all, the goal is responsible, mature, godly adults.

I contemplate their character and how to nurture it—how to incorporate character-building lessons and activities into our home school curriculum and day-to-day tasks.

The definition of character per dictionary.com is “the aggregate of features or traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.” Aggregate means “a sum mass, or assemblage of particulars; a total or gross amount.” Character integrates honesty, courage, and other moral, ethical, and biblical qualities.

I analyze and work on the each child’s individual traits as well as his/her overall makeup. In this way, I can adapt my teaching style, lessons, and training tools as we progress.

Just as I educate my children, I want the Lord to instruct me, to refine me. It is my deepest desire to reflect the image of Christ. I consistently work on my own character, the totality of who I am. I want to be more like Jesus today than I was yesterday. To that end, I read the Bible and other biblical material, attend church, participate in biblical discussions, and pray. I ask God to show me areas that need perfected and rely on Him to help me improve.

How about you?

What strategies are you implementing to improve your character?

What strategies are you implementing to build your children’s character?