June 08, 2008

Daily seeking God

Since late March, God has been leading me to view my relationship with Him in this way - He is there to walk with me through every moment throughout my day to guide my choices, my attitudes, and my goals.

I feel a lot is at stake each day as I strive to raise our three girls in a way that pleases God, and points them to their own lives that I trust will serve Him as well. Parenting is such a daunting task. Homeschooling is a monumental task, one I am committing to one year at a time. My goal in homeschooling is to equip each child to make an impact for God's Kingdom as God leads them in their adult life. Also intimidating, is the fact that my daily witness to the people around me may make or break a chance for me to point them to Christ for salvation. With all these larger-than-human tasks in my life, I must have God's daily guidance. Only He can see the big picture, and order my life to be used exactly as He needs to fulfill these purposes I believe He has given me.

So, I am inspired by this need for daily direction from God, and I need to seek Him. As much of a morning person I am not, I decided that in order to give God my best, I need to find a time when the children won't interrupt me, and when my mind is ready to absorb what God shows me. That time was early morning, before the girls wake up. So since I have been keeping this habit of Bible reading and prayer, it has both rewarded and challenged me. I see God leading me daily, and also challenging me to change, and I see the enemy trying to inhibit that relationship and growth. (Note to enemy - game on! God and I win. You lose.)

There is a need for all believers to seek God daily. Without that, who is guiding your goals? Who directs the choices you make in how you spend your time, money and energy? It seems so basic, and I believe that it is supposed to be. We simply need to let God show us His way, and how to walk in it, day after day, so that He can use us for His glory.

God has made it simple for us to not only have a relationship with Him, but also to understand Him better through His Word. Don't settle for 5-10 minute devotions as your only time spent in personal Bible Study. Don't settle for merely Sunday morning worship services, sermons, Christian TV, Christian radio, Christian books to feed your soul. Rather, let the Holy Spirit, this awesome gift that we have upon receiving Christ as our Savior, reveal to you God's character and His proddings toward spiritual growth, tailored just for you through His intimate understanding of who you are and what you need. Through the simple reading of Scripture and prayer, God can give you all the direction you need, and He will not steer you wrong.

Recently, my husband wrote the following, which I believe says something important about the need for each Christian to seek God daily:

"[I want to help people] understand Biblical theology as opposed to canned theology, which I see as accepting pat, predefined, easy answers someone else has already worked out, as opposed to struggling with the Scriptures and wrestling with the difficult questions of faith that challenge our security and preconceptions about God.

"Canned theology robs us of the shaping struggle of coming to grips with the challenges of faith in real life. It stumps our growth. . . having doubts and questions for God is a healthy thing. It's not that they question the essentials, but since they don't have a quick answer or a forceful system of thought on a certain finer point of theology they feel intimidated and the Accuser is using that to make them feel less than they are. . . it has already created some very in-depth theological discussions that are challenging us to grow." -- Derek Pottinger

I agree that this danger of being led to believe something about God or His ways that may or may not be Scriptural is real. Without each Christian searching for the Truth in God's Word, there are bound to be a lot of incorrect beliefs. We need to take our questions to God and ask Him to show us His answers. He may not answer everything, but He will give us all that we need.

June 04, 2008

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

This is a book that I have used successfully with my oldest, and am now beginning with my middle child. Using the introduction of sounds, rather than beginning with the names of the letters, this approach gradually teaches the child to sound out the words by putting together the sounds he/she has learned. There are verbal games that teach rhyming, saying the words slowly (as in sounding things out) and then repeating them fast. Each lesson then concludes with handwriting practice. I discovered printable worksheets for these handwriting lessons at Donna Young's homeschool resource website. Her website is a valuable tool in itself for many areas of homeschooling, by the way.

I started using the "100 Lessons" book with my oldest when she was almost 4 years old, and sporadically picked it up and put it away, due to my lack of consistency in homeschooling preschool, and finally finished it when she was a couple months past 5 years old. Now, eager to begin with my 3-year-old, we're just testing the waters with the first few lessons, and I'm not sure how far we'll go before we table it until she's older. You may be able to find this book at your public library to try or preview before buying it. The resource's website is http://www.startreading.com/.

Signing Time

From the time our firstborn was 7 months old, we began working with her to teach her a little sign language. You've probably heard the wisdom in this - that babies can learn simple hand signals before their verbal development allows them to form words. Therefore, if they can communicate with signs, it reduces the fussing and screaming that results from their frustration on not being understood. We have not only found this to be true, but also found that it's enhanced the progress in our girls learning speech and the meaning of words, AND, sign language for them is as much fun as singing songs.

Our sign language journey began with a resource called "Sign With Your Baby" by Joseph Garcia. I recommend the kit, which includes the book, a laminated reference chart of signs, and a DVD. From this, and our persistence, our first child learned to sign "more", "help", "milk", and a few others I can't remember right now.

When she was about two, I discovered Signing Time videos at our local library, and fell in love with them. These are fun videos for children and parents, because they include wonderful original songs that teach and reinforce the signs being taught. The first series has grown into 13 DVDs, each with a set of different signs. If you want something geared specifically towards babies, check out the two volumes of "Baby Signing Time". Last year, PBS began showing Signing Time on Saturday mornings. Now I see the company has recently released series two, which includes 13 new DVDs. Pardon me while I go update my Amazon.com wish list. Never mind. Amazon doesn't carry it yet.

Well, you can go to www.signingtime.com and see all about what they offer, and get a preview of what I'm talking about. My three girls all love the videos we currently own at their ages of 5 1/2, 3, and 1 1/2. So I hope you can find these at your library too, or put them on your wish list and enjoy!

June 03, 2008

Twin Sisters Productions

My favorite resource from this publishing company, started by sisters who were teachers and found that music was a great tool for teaching children, is their Scripture memory song CDs. Titled "Scripture Memory Songs" and "Growing in God's Word", both contain great songs that are kid-friendly, fun to learn, and not the annoying style of music most children's music tends to be. These CDs make great gifts.

I also own their Spanish songs CD and workbook, that together teach some basic Spanish vocabulary.

In addition to that, one day I discovered they were having a huge sale on their cassette tapes, and I filled up my online shopping cart with one of each 50 cent tape containing topics everywhere from physics to silly songs. I'm fortunate I have a cassette player from when I was in Jr. High that still works. The girls listen to those in their playroom while they play, and they've picked up quite a bit of info from them.

They offer so much more than what I've mentioned, but these are the things I have personally used. You can check out more by them at their website, http://twinsisters.com/

June 01, 2008

The Power of a Praying Wife

In this post, I again take the risk of boring many who may have heard of this resource years ago. However, I still find it a valuable resource, and know that it continues to make an impact in the marriages of people around me.

In The Power of a Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian has written 30 chapters, each covering a topic for prayer that a wife can pray for concerning her husband. There are a few pages giving examples and explanations on the topic, followed by a pre-written sample prayer, then followed by related Scriptures. Since there are 30, it's the perfect format for praying one topic per day of the month. I would never come up with these specific matters for prayer on my own: his finances, his purpose, his trials, his priorities, his walk, his talk, his faith, his future, etc. Nor would I be able to come up with the specific prayers that Mrs. Omartian writes. Yet, when I read them, I can agree that they are valuable for bringing to God's throne, and pray them for my husband.

This is a great book for any wife, newlywed or otherwise. For me, God used this book to make a huge impact on my marriage. Instead of being critical of my husband and trying to change him like I did in the first couple years of marriage, I began to change my attitude to being less selfish, and to letting God do the changing that He deemed necessary.

Stormie Omartian has also written other books in this series, including "The Power of a Praying Husband", "The Power of a Praying Parent", "The Power of a Praying Woman", "The Power of Praying", and others. For the last month, I've been utilizing the prayers in the "Wife", "Parent" and "Woman" books for my guide in prayer time. Now it's June 1st and time to start back at the beginning again. So enhance your marriage, your parenting, or your life by using these resources to inspire you to pray and let God work in your life and the lives of others. Here is Stormie Omartian's website: http://www.stormieomartian.com/