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Prophecy Boxes

I am hoping this will be just the beginning of sharing the various ways

we prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas….

Prophecy Boxes

Each night the box is under the Tree
with something new inside…
Along with the scripture,
I also include a little treat of sorts for each night
As we start out with the birth of Jesus,
move on to his ministry, and end Christmas Day with…
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Please share (or link to) some of your treasured traditions!
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I didn’t even realize I did it until after I did it.

I hollered.

Just belted out this screamy-gurgly-holler.

All I did was pick up a stick outside and a darn wasp stung me! It hurt. Then I hollered and did that thing where you grab the boo-boo inflicted area and don’t want anyone to look at it or breathe on it. After a minute the pain became more dull. The kids asked if I was ok. My forearm got red and puffed up a little. And I walked inside thinking…

I thought, “you know….sometimes in life you just get ‘stung’…and sometimes your reflex is just to holler.” It’s true. And it’s ok. I thought of how people often seem to think they need to look like they have it all “together”…even when we get ‘stung’…like we should just quietly get stung, tough it out, and barely appear to have even bitten our lip.

No. no. no.

It hurts. Big stings, little stings, wasp stings, bee stings…’life’ stings.

Sometimes you get stung. And sometimes you just need to holler!

For me, it has become personal.

It is often on my mind, gripping my heart, and most recently, resulting in moments where I have to stop.

Stop and take a deep breath.

Cry.

Or choke back tears and move on.

Let me just say that I never had what one might call ‘aspirations’ to adopt. I’m not sure that I do now. I do know that something is going on in my heart and the heart of my family regarding “the fatherless”. I also know that orphans have become something very personal to us. I won’t go into the long, laborious details of it all….but, rather, on a lighter, more practical note, I will share this:

This past Sunday was Orphan Sunday.
November is National Adoption Awareness month.

It is a subject that can never be confined to a day or even a month. However, like many things, special events and what-not bring things to our attention that might otherwise fall by the wayside.

I have come across several useful resources already this month that focus on orphans, orphan care, and adoption. Hopefororphans.org states “While adoption is vital and desperately needed, it isn’t the only aspect of orphan ministry.” As my family and I pray for God to give us clearer direction in regard to our role in caring for orphans, this statement got me thinking….

I believe that many people are often concerned, compassionate, and a have desire to do something to “defend the fatherless”. With all the aspects of caring for orphans all over the world, there is certainly room for everyone who wants to help.

With that in mind, I’m sharing a few resources that have encouraged me and given me insight (while there are hundreds out there and so so so many more that I’d love to share) …

I Care About Orphans – ” Whichever (aspect of involvement) you decide, we’ll provide guidance and support as you walk down this incredibly rewarding path. Our hope is that you begin to see the face of Christ in these children.”

W.R.A.P. – FREE resource – “Not every family is called to adopt.  But helping support adoptive families is nearly as important as welcoming a child into your home.  Unfortunately, many families don’t receive the support from friends and family they desperately need.  The good news is that help is as easy as cooking, cleaning, childcare and prayer. At Focus on the Family, we recognize that adoptive families need the support of those around them.  That’s why we created “Wrapping around Adoptive Families,” a simple resource that provides practical tips for helping families.”

Hope for Orphans – A ministry of Family Life – with a heart for orphans…mobilizing, equipping, and connecting. Here is a multitude of resources for personal, group, and/or church involvement.

Heart Gallery of America – “created to find forever families for children in foster care…”

Orphan Sunday and Beyond Orphan Sunday  – “On Orphan Sunday, Christians stand for the orphan. We are a people called to defend the fatherless…to care for the child that has no family…to visit orphans in their distress.”

Successful Adoption: A Guide for Christian Families
I have had this book by my bedside for months

so that I can read it in bits and pieces.

(It has a great section in it on how to support families who are adopting.)

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Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

I first came across Katie via blog.

Then I read about Amazima Ministries.

Now, I have this book in my Amazon cart to read next!

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As you walk through the fields of the fatherless
Your light will break forth like the morning!

~C. Thomas Davis (Fields of the Fatherless)

Guest Post

Book Review: My Wilder Life

by Wendy McClure

from Marcia of I wonder why
**********
I’m not much different than other Midwestern girls.  I read the “Laura” books as a child.  I’ve read them at least once to my oldest daughters, and now they are reading them to the little girl in the family.  We’ve done the butter churning (ahem heavy cream shaking) experiments and the corn cob doll making and the pigs blatter balloon.  eww.  We did not do that, even though my kids wanted to….We’ve done the unit studies like other homeschoolers. We’ve visited the site where the books were written and done unit studies in our homeschool around the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

When I came across this book chronicling a Midwest woman’s look (and trips) into her childhood memories with the Laura books, I put in my request with the local library.

So what did I think?
Wendy finds a worn set of Laura books and begins her memory trips into her childhood.   She (married after the book comes out I believe) drags her boyfriend on many trips and experiments to find the truthfulness in her memories about the real life events of Laura, Mary and Ma and Pa Ingalls.  I enjoyed her fact finding, mostly. She follows footsteps (or rather wagon ruts) of Laura all across the Midwest and journals it along the way.  She (even though she lives in the Windy City) forgets that we can have some pretty dozy winters around here.

I appreciated her candid images of what she did and did not like about each site visited.  Her boyfriend kindly reads the books so that he can understand her journey.  I think he must really care about her!

For myself I think that reading this chronicle of sorts was lengthy…and perhaps I could have enjoyed listening to her give a speech or talk about her book instead.  At times, I’m sorry to say, I skimmed.  My eyes were not as focused as when I read the real Laura books.  Perhaps because I don’t experience all the books the way Wendy did.

What I did like of the book is that she didn’t give up when she had obstacles in her way.  I laughed when she decided she needed to own a butter churn of her own.  (did I say that she lives in Chicago?)  I agreed with her that living in the country would be a fun thing to try.  I wouldn’t pay to spend the night on someone else’s farm like she did.   But then again there are farms that are owned in my family and I have spent the night on them before.

I think she misses the joy of reading as a child.  I think the most fun I have had with the Laura books is sharing them with my girls.  I’d like her to write a sequel in x years when she’s had her own child to read with!  Perhaps that is when she will come full circle with her memories.  For a daughter and a mother have things that only the two of them (or in my case the four of them) can share.

I just grabbed an empty, plastic butter bowl-thingy from the pantry. Some much needed and long awaited heavy showers have revealed not one, not two, but THREE leaks at the kitchen window. Sure, that is only one on a very, very long list of needed repairs around here. Some days that one leak would lead to me sighing deeply and looking around at all that needs to be fixed and seeing it all quite magnified (my closest friends know this to be very true!). 🙂

However, today, I think I will take the alternate…shall we say, wiser…approach. I will let those three leaks remind me that this is just a dwelling. A temporary one. John reminds me that “in My Father’s house are many dwelling places”. Jesus even adds a touch of certainty and assurance for believers: “if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you.” And I am betting that it is nothing like this old thing, even in peak condition 😉

But I won’t stop there. Today, instead of the letting the leaks turn my eyes toward other needed repairs (like the place where the counter by the sink is beginning to detach from the wall…seriously, my girlfriends have been in my kitchen!), I will turn my eyes a bit more heaven-ward. Yes, this is all temporary. A better place is being praperd for me. But while I’m thinking heavenly, why not go on and think eternally? Why not set my mind on what is above, not on what is on the earth (Colossian 3:2)!?!?! For instance…why not think (and pray) for those in other parts of the world who have never even heard His name…or pour out my heart in gratitude to Him…or consider how I might extend the grace He’s given me to others…and really, that is just the beginning of an infiinte list, isn’t it?

Yes, that settles it.

With every noisy, leaky drop into the plastic butter bowl-thingy, I will remember to set my mind on what is above…

The genius of CHAT!

My precious homeschool group moms and I are doing

Conversation Peace: The Power of Transformed Speech together!

We, like all moms, are super busy for a variety of reasons. We homeschool our kiddos, have special needs children, cook, go to art class, help out with extended family, clean, go to piano lessons, plan, travel to therapies, and so on and so on and so on! We get together as a homeschool group twice a month: once for an outing (a hike or a play or something), and once to meet at the library where we take turns teaching a Social Skills group for our children. Getting together for one more thing just really didn’t seem feasible, especially when you consider how spread out we all are as far as location. However, the beauty and genius of the Gmail Chat has made it possible for us to spend an hour together each week, chatting about Conversation Peace (*we opted to not use the video sessions)! We are getting to share our hearts (our struggles, our positive experiences, our questions, our insight) all because of the ease the “chat” provides us! We have a set time to log-on, then we dive right into discussing what we have read the previous week. I grab my snack, my book, and sit with my laptop in my pjs and am encouraged and challenged via the world wide web and my precious sisters! I love it!

Hidden Even To Ourselves

Thoughts as a Guest Post

from Naomi

of Living Charlotte Mason in California

(who, by the way, also has another fantastic post up from Monday

titled: Design, Not Defualt)

I resolved in my future conduct to redeem the past; and I can say with honesty that my resolve was fruitful of some good. You know how earnestly, in the last months of the last year, I labored to relieve suffering; you know that much was done for others…[But as] I smiled, comparing myself with other men, comparing my active goodwill with the lazy cruelty of their neglect…at the very moment of that vain-glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering…

I looked down…I was once more Edward Hyde.

~Robert Louis Stevenson,

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

 Robert Louis Stevenson, John Singer Sargent

Timothy Keller quotes this excerpt in Chapter 11 of his book The Reason For God. And I find it one worth pondering.

Charlotte Mason homeschooling has such high ideals; ideals I embrace so passionately that I blog about it, read about it, meet monthly to talk about it, etc. The words she wrote over one hundred years ago have set our feet in a very large and beautiful place indeed.

And then sometimes… when I come across others, I find I smile, comparing my curriculum with theirs, comparing my active care in educating my children with their lack of care…

and then I get up on my pedestal and I feel oh so good about myself…

…and then all of a sudden, I see the truth and feel utterly disgusted, ashamed.

Keller writes:

Edward Hyde is so named not just because he is hideous but because he is hidden. He thinks solely of his own desires; he doesn’t care in the slightest who he hurts in order to gratify himself. He kills if someone gets in his way. Stevenson is saying that even the best of people hide from themselves what is within – an enormous capacity for egotism, self-absorption, and regard for your own interests over those of all others.

Hideous and hidden – even to himself.

 Sin and evil are self-centeredness and pride that lead to oppression against others, but there are two forms of this. One form is being very bad and breaking all the rules, and the other form is being very good and keeping all the rules and becoming self-righteous.

If we do it all so amazingly well and our children turn out so wonderfully fantastic, then we will be so very, very good.

This is a deadly turn of events. For the first time Jekyll becomes Hyde involuntarily, without the potion, and this is the beginning of the end. Unable to control his transformations any longer, Jekyll kills himself. … Why would Jekyll become Hyde without the potion? Like so many people, Jekyll knows he is a sinner, so he tries desperately to cover his sin with great piles of good works. Yet his efforts do not actually shrivel his pride and self-centeredness, they only aggravate it. They lead him to superiority, self-righteousness, pride and suddenly – look! Jekyll becomes Hyde, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness.

The loveliness we think we see is often ugliness of the worst sort. I wonder how many may have seen the ugliness of Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers?

Women who have to work and cannot stay home with their children. Women who submit to pressure from family to send their kids to school. Women who lack the confidence to homeschool. Women who are unable to manage it all. Women who go through a secular Charter School. Women who blend Charlotte Mason with other methods. Women with special needs children.

What is ugliest of all is that it is only by the grace of God that any of us have come to know about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methods, and yet it is His very goodness we set aside and forget, in order that we can step up to glory.

Hideous and hidden. Charlotte herself, said this about ‘her’ methods:

One discovers a thing because it is there, and no sane person takes credit to himself for such discovery. On the contrary, he recognizes with King Arthur,––”These jewels, whereupon I chanced Divinely, are for public use.” And I believe this sound view of hers came from her clarity on the gospel truth. Keller goes on in his chapter to describe this truth for us: The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.

There is beauty in truth and it is here that we will find it.