Category: homeschool life

Life and Death

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As of today we officially have 3 teenage boys in our house. Soon enough there will be 4. For their 13th Birthdays we like to take them to the local cemetery just to let the brevity of life sink in. ¬†At least that’s the tradition we started today ūüôā Our destination was actually a nearby pond where Nathan wanted to try out his new bass rod and reel. The pond happens to be adjacent to an old cemetery that we have explored numerous times but today as the boys fished and Tom read, there was a new poignancy about the place as I wandered around the 150-year-old markers.

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The stories one reads between the lines of birth and death on the stones are pioneering dramas, written with the blood, sweat, and tears of mountain life and loss. ¬†Ol’ Mr. Breckenridge who was “killed by Indians.” The 1 and 4 year-old siblings who died just 4 days apart. The Kirkland babies–one died at 11 months and 3 years later her sister was born only to die that same day. ¬†The 2 unnamed Osborne babies. ¬†And right nearby, the 3 unnamed Wooley children. ¬†The heart wrenching sorrow and pain speak on through the stoney silence.

I was using my time there today to memorize the next couple verses in the Romans 8 Memory Challenge (click here for more info on that). ¬†“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirt of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:14,15). Looking around me I realized I was standing in the middle of everyone’s very worst fears. ¬†The pervasive fear of death, of sickness, of suffering, of loss now controlling every aspect of our country can only be described as a Spirit of slavery. ¬†Fear so paralyzing it inhibits any sense of sound judgement and judicious reasoning seems to have shackled the whole world.

Romans 8 says those who are led by the Spirit of God are His children, ¬†“fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him (Rom. 8:17). ¬†Whoa. That’s a big caveat there, Pauly. “PROVIDED WE SUFFER WITH HIM.” If you have received the Spirit of adoption, if you are a child of God, ¬†you’ve been bequeathed a remarkable inheritance. The gift of suffering has been entrusted to God’s family. ¬†But it’s not the kind of suffering the world is living in so much fear of today. ¬†On the outside our suffering might look very much like Mr. Breckenridge’s, or the Kirklands’ or the Osbornes’ or the Wooleys’. ¬†It might look like Covid-19 or the extraordinary loss of freedom and financial security that has accompanied it. But suffering WITH Christ is a thing altogether different. Verse 17 continues by explaining the distinction with just these few words, “in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”

Some 2 millennia ago. Christ subjected Himself to murder by the hands of the sinful men He created. He did this to satisfy the wrath of a Holy Father against all ungodliness and to purchase by His blood a people, spiritual sons and daughters, who through His Spirit can cry “Abba! Father!” That same Christ was buried in a real tomb in a real cemetery full of the corruption and decay and stories of suffering like I was surrounded by today.

But because He was God, that same Christ, by the power of His own Spirit, did what no other corpse could do. He rose victoriously, gloriously from the grave!  Conquering, crushing, smashing sin and destroying death! The result is this stunning proclamation in Romans 8:1,

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ¬†For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

Brothers and Sisters! ¬†We are no longer slaves of sin or sickness or the kind of suffering that leads to death. Our suffering can lead only to one thing and that is the thing for which it was intended. GLORY! That glory was bought through Christ’s own suffering and secured through His resurrection and ascension. ¬†As surely as we will share with Him in His suffering, we will be glorified with Him through the resurrection of the dead. ¬†Verse 11 assures us that,

“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to many people, including 7 fisherman who had caught nothing all night. He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and when they did they hauled in 153 fish. ¬†“Come and have breakfast,” ¬†He said to them. And there on the shore around a charcoal fire they dined together on bread and fish with their risen Lord (John 21:1-14).

Tomorrow is our emancipation day. The day we celebrate being set free from sin and death and the fear that enslaves us. ¬†We will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord sure of the hope of glory that event secured for all who believe. ¬†We will face the strangeness of isolation from our extended families and church bodies at this time knowing “the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be reveled to us” (Rom. 8:18).

And we will, at least our family will, eat fish. Course with all these teenage boys now I may need 153 to fill them up.

He is risen!

“Right Now Counts Forever”

I stole that title from RC Sproul. Those words are more timely than ever. We all just learned we might be in this state of social isolation for another month. We’re now facing not just 2 weeks but possibly 6 weeks of lost wages, lost investments, lost fellowship opportunities, lost milestones like graduations and weddings and funerals, lost advances in education, in health, in orthodontic progress :). But what if we lived the next 4 weeks in the reality of Romans 8:28? “That for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

If you haven’t read the rest of Romans 8 in a while, right now is the perfect time. In that one chapter you will find no condemnation, freedom from sin and death, fulfillment of the law, life and peace, the indwelling Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ in you, the Spirit of life, Jesus Christ risen from the dead, life to our mortal bodies, life through the Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, fellow heirs with Christ through our suffering with Him, future glory revealed in us, redemption of our bodies, hope in salvation, help in our weakness, intercession of the Spirit, calling, purpose, foreknowledge, predestination, conformity to the image of His Son, justification, glorification, God for us, ALL THINGS, Christ Jesus at the right hand of God interceding for us, victory over tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, the sword, and the inseparable love of Christ Jesus our Lord…

What if we took just one hour of each day in April to set our minds on the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh (Rom. 8:5-8). You could choose any hour during which you would normally be filling other obligations outside the home. ¬†Are there lessons or practices you are now missing on Monday? Make that hour count forever. ¬†Tuesday’s playdates canceled? Make that hour count forever. ¬†Ladies Bible Study on Wednesday no longer meeting? Make that hour count forever. Thursday’s client consultation postponed indefinitely? Make that hour count forever. Friday’s date night on hold? Make that hour count forever.

Start now. Instead of spending another hour scrolling through social media and blog posts click on this link to a short 25-minute devotional called “Right Now Counts Forever” given by RC Sproul during his last year on earth. Then read Romans 8. ¬†Spend time in prayer thanking God for the bounteous gifts laid out in that one chapter. Don’t know how to pray? Whatever groanings this Corona Virus has produced inside of you, know that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom. 8:26).” Maybe use part of that hour to memorize a verse a day from that chapter. ¬†By the end of this quarantine you could have the whole thing hidden in your heart!

Below is a list of other ways your family could make an hour a day count forever during the month of April. What a triumph it would be if holy habits cultivated during the Covid quarantine resulted in life long practices among God’s people!

  1. Did you know that there are 30 books in the Bible that contain fewer than 10 chapters? That means they can be read aloud in there entirety by your family in 30 minutes or less. You can alternate daily through the month of April between Old and New Testament books.
  2. Do you have young people in the house? There’s no better time to start reading aloud the wisdom book of Proverbs than on April 1. ¬†There’s one chapter for each day of the month and the last one, Proverbs 31 can be saved for Mother’s Day on May 10.
  3. What’s the best weapon against Covid-19? God’s Word! ¬†Psalms 1, 9, 19, 91, and 119 are great reminders of how God makes Himself known through His Word and that it will stand forever as surely as He is eternally seated on His throne. If you’re not in the habit of singing Psalms try learning Psalm 19. We use the version from the “Book of Psalms for Singing” but you can click here for a link to a more familiar version that even your youngest family members will enjoy.

Since I’m a spreadsheet kind of gal, I’ve put all these options (including memorizing Romans 8) on a calendar to help make April count forever. You can choose just one of the options to redeem that extra hour or all of them and still have time for prayer! ¬†In this time of uncertainty, the promises of God are the only investment that promises guaranteed returns. Isaiah 55:10,11 says,

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Now more than ever, it’s time to keep the feast. Click the link below for a printable copy.

April 2020 Printable

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* I just listened to Allie Beth Stuckey’s podcast “10 Tips to Make Quarantine Count” and she recommends memorizing Romans 8, too! Furthermore she says John Piper just said the same thing! So if you won’t take my word for it, take theirs! And make sure you click this link to Allie’s podcast!

Screen Time and Sound Waves: Utilizing Technology During Quarantine and ALL the Links You Could Ever Want

I’m almost embarrassed to say how little this “shelter-in-place” mandate has altered our lifestyle. Other than not going down the mountain every one or two weeks for church, music lessons, shopping and appointments, the only real change has been the increased screen time. Church, lessons and shopping are now all on-line. Plus we’ve been taking advantage of some of the great on-line learning resources that have now been made temporarily available for free. ¬†We just started The Great American Story course through Hillsdale College. Next will be the World War II course taught by Victor Davis Hanson. How cool to have my own kids able to learn from one of the same instructors that I sat under while studying philosophy at Fresno State! Downside is that it’s more screen time.

Ditto for Ligonier Ministries who has just made all their on-line resources available for free through June, including their interactive group Bible studies! We’re talking about a monumental amount of sound Biblical teaching now just a click away. For example, you can take Elisabeth Elliot’s video course “Suffering Is Not for Nothing” with over 1000 other participants and invite a bunch of friends to be apart of your on-line study group. Downside is that its more screen time.

Not all of Ligonier’s resources require a screen. One of my favorite freebies is their internet radio app called RefNet. ¬†We discovered this audio resource when Tom’s Mom was sick with cancer. We even added it to her Alexa so all she had to do was say “Alexa, play RefNet” and a 24/7 line up of her favorite teachers–Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, Nancy Guthrie, and dozens of others–would play at her command. The messages are interspersed with quality traditional Christian music, Bible readings, devotional readings, and even news breaks from a Christian perspective. At a time when our elderly are now even more isolated than ever, this could be a life changing gift for someone you know. ¬†They even play the Lamplighter Theatre’s audio series in the evenings for the kiddos. My younger boys love these action packed stories and I love that they don’t need a screen to enjoy it. Last night we blasted “Escape From the Eagle’s Nest” from the front porch while they sledded and built a line of snowmen down the middle of the road (fewer than 10 and they were all at least 6 feet apart, of course).

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I’m a serious podcast junky and being home 24/7 has only fed that appetite. Growing up ¬†in a house without TV meant the height of electronic entertainment was listening to Family Radio. The voices of J. Vernon McGee and Charles Swindoll were as familiar to me as the sound of the furnace clicking on in the morning or the crunch of the gravel as my Dad’s car pulled into the driveway every evening. I love it that my boys already know by name the voices of Steve Lawson, Doug Wilson, Paul Washer, James White, Alistair Begg, the Apologia guys, the Cultish guys, the G3 guys, the Just Thinking guys, and even the gals from Sheologians, What Have You, Relatable and my favorite Mama Bear apologist, Alisa Childers.

But even the voices of the best teachers can become a distraction and like Saul, we need some music to soothe the soul. I used to be a hymns and classical-only kind of gal so Bach was my go-to method of relaxation. The whole world of classical music is available for streaming on-line. Now I get the even greater privilege of hearing Joel practicing my favorite hymns on the piano, or Nathan doing the same on his violin or cello, or Titus rearranging some Bach for his mandolin. But Titus has also broadened my musical horizons with other genres and now I’m enjoying listening to him play things like “Take Me Home West Virginia” or “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” or even his original “A Blues 65” on his Youtube channel. If you all aren’t subscribed to it yet, you should be.

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The boys have also figured out other ways to utilize the airwaves during this time of social distancing. A while back I bought a cheapo 4-pack of walky-talkies which they managed to rig discarded radio antennae onto. From the top of our ridge they’ve been in communication with their good friends who live in another town about 30 miles away. These friends also own a weekend cabin up here so they’re sheltering in place less than 1/2 mile away but no one can get together. So out come the walky-talkies. They’ve even been playing games over them by drawing out each-others’ moves. Radio Jenga anyone?

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With all these sounds and lit-up screens around me, I’m left wondering what a pandemic would have looked like before the age of wifi. ¬†For us that was just last summer. ¬†Until then our only option up here was very costly satellite internet. We had to walk down the road to a friend’s house to catch a signal or to the camp office to plug in. Then Tom signed up to get his Mdiv through the distance learning program at Master’s Seminary. That’s when we realized just how much of a pain it was going to be to get all his work done at the office and just how impossibly expensive it would be to pay for satellite ourselves. So we prayed about it. We prayed that if seminary was really God’s will for Tom that He would provide the way to get it done. THE NEXT DAY Kingsburg Media Foundation was at the camp, scouting it out to see if we were a possible candidate for their reduced-cost internet services. ¬†What a timely provision! ¬†And even more so when I think of how difficult it would have been to shelter-in-place without being able to access our church service live-stream, shopping, classes, music lessons, and more on-line.

I guess there’s never really a good time for a pandemic but it amazes me how the advent internet has changed the face of this one.