My 10 year old son is playing youth baseball this spring. The team’s regular practice day and time is Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock. After church our family heads home and eats lunch together. Then I take my son to his practice. It’s a relaxing time for me. I sit with book in hand, looking up once in awhile to watch my son field a ball or swing as the coach pitches to him. The sound of balls being hit, boys running bases, and balls popping into gloves, provide background noise for my reading.

I catch enough of the coaches lessons to reinforce them to my son on our way back home.

“When you’re playing second base, and the ball is hit to third base with no runners on, what are you to do?”

“Make sure to watch the third base coach for signs when you reach first base.”

There are other lessons, much more important, which the coach isn’t teaching my son. Reinforcing the baseball lessons is fun for me to do, and hopefully helpful for my son, but not urgent or necessary. Other lessons I teach my son are urgent and necessary. An opportunity to teach one such lesson came recently when I read an email from his coach.

The baseball league scheduled team pictures to be taken on a Sunday. The assigned time slot for our team was 10 a.m. Our church service starts at 10:15 a.m. and is on the other side of town. Besides, we attend the Sunday School hour which starts at 9 a.m. Joining the team for pictures at 10 a.m. would mean my son would miss church. He wouldn’t just be late to church, it would mean missing the church service altogether that day.

I read the email and paused for a moment, but only for a moment. That’s all it took. My decision was made. If I skipped church and took my son to have his picture taken, what lesson would I be teaching him? The lesson wouldn’t be good. I would be saying that youth sports are more important than fellowship with the saints. I’d be teaching my son to weigh sport’s pictures against listening to the preaching of God’s Word.

That wasn’t going to happen in my home.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s a sin to take a day off from church on a Sunday morning. We all need rest and Sunday afternoon is often a good time for it. But it’s not a command we need to keep under the new covenant.

So then, what’s wrong with sports activities which cause one to miss church once in awhile? Maybe nothing. Then again, maybe everything. After all, we are commanded not to neglect meeting together with the local church (Hebrews 10:25). This is a command we should not ignore.

Dads need to take the lead in teaching the importance of the local church in the life of the believer. How can we teach our sons and daughters to love the church, the bride of Christ, if any other trivial event takes precedence on our calendars?

The league actually did me a favor by scheduling pictures on a Sunday morning. They gave me an opportunity to stand on my convictions and to let my son see me do it. They gave me an opportunity to teach my son a lesson more important that anything his coach is teaching him about baseball. I was given the chance to teach the importance of the local church, the bride of Christ.

I didn’t give my son a long lecture on the importance of the church. I didn’t complain about the league scheduling pictures on Sunday morning. I kept the lesson simple, “Lincoln, church is more important the team photos. I’m sorry you won’t be able to participate but we are not going to miss church in order to take pictures. I hope you understand.”

He didn’t say much and didn’t seem disappointed. Our habit of attending church had created an expectation for him. He’s learning about the importance of the local church by our actions as a family.

Maybe thirty years from now he will be looking back at old photos. And maybe he’ll find a picture of his baseball team in a shoe box and his own son will ask, “Dad, where are you in this picture?”

That’s the day I’m looking forward to. That’s the day the lesson I’m teaching my son today about the importance of the church will be passed on to his children. That’s the day when my son will tell my grandson, “I didn’t join the team for pictures that morning. Let me tell you why?”

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Israel Wayne has been a keynote speaker for SCOPE events in the past. I reached out to him about his latest book and he was kind enough to answer my questions. His new book can be purchased here and here.

Question #1: Can you summarize your latest book in just a few sentences?

Education: Does God Have an Opinion? — A Biblical Apologetic for Christian Education & Homeschooling, is a new book that endeavors to provide an answer to what God’s view of education would be, using the Scripture as our starting point. Suppose you were on a deserted island, and all you had was a Bible, what would you determine education should look like, based on what you see contained in Scripture?
Question #2: What, Biblically, is the aim of education? Do you see Christian homeschool families hitting the mark?
The true aim of education is the same as our purpose for life: to know, love, and serve God, and love and serve others. For the most part, I believe most parents are homeschooling to prepare their children to make money and pay bills. That totally misses the big picture.
Question #3: Does the Bible speak to homeschooling methodologies? Is one better than the other?
The Bible speak extensively, in principle, to the concept of methodology. It is imperative that we teach not only WHAT God requires, but HOW as well. Both the content and form are important to God. Think about what happened when Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant, or when Aaron’s sons offered “strange fire” before the Lord. They were killed for their presumption that God didn’t care about form or method. He does.
Question #4: As a leader in the homeschooling movement, what positive trends do you see on the horizon for homeschooling?
The most positive trend is numeric growth. We are still seeing the modern-day homeschooling movement grow at about a 6-8% annual growth rate in the United States. More families result in more resources, and greater cultural acceptance, both of which are welcome trends.
Question #5: What temptations, or pitfalls, do you see for homeschooling families today?
The biggest temptation I see is for parents to seek after government money to home educate their children. It is always easier for us to teach our children at our neighbor’s expense, but we should seek to finance, and thereby control, the education of our own children.
Question #6: All subjects are under the authority of Christ and should be taught from a Biblical worldview, but do Christian parents have a Biblical obligation to teach certain subjects, even to the neglect of other subjects if necessary? If so, what are those subjects?
Every child has a different course or direction that God has planned for their life. My mother allowed me to skip certain subjects that she knew I would never use (Trigonometry and Calculus, for example). I have never missed them. However, some students may need those skills for their life, so I think it really varies based on the future of that student. The main thing is to teach students how to study, because they can go back and learn anything they missed, if a need arises later.
Question #7: How should homeschool parents prepare children to face the moral revolution which is bearing down upon us in America?
We need to teach our children what to believe, why their beliefs are true, and then help them to learn to communicate their convictions effectively to a hostile world. If they have Biblical convictions, can communicate them through sound written and verbal communication, and if they live our their convictions consistently, they will have a great opportunity for influence in this world.
Question #8: Most homeschool teaching is done by mothers. How can fathers best participate in both the academic and spiritual education of their children?
I talk extensively in my new book about the role of fathers in the homeschooling process. They are the “General Contractors,” so to speak of the building process. Even though they may not do the bulk of the everyday teaching, they are the ones who God ultimately holds accountable for the teaching and training of their children. There are more verses in the Bible commanding fathers to teach than mothers. My book helps them to discover what God teaches, and gives them the equipment they need to fulfill that call.
 
Israel Wayne is a homeschooled graduate, husband and father of nine, and the Director of Family Renewal. He is an author and conference speaker, and has written books including, Full-Time Parenting: A Guide to Family-Based Discipleship, Pitchin’ A Fit! — Overcoming Angry & Stressed Out Parenting, Questions God Asks, Questions Jesus Asks, and Education: Does God Have an Opinion? www.FamilyRenewal.org
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On March 16th, our family joined other SCOPE families for a great field trip to the Aerospace Museum of California.  The museum is located at McClellan Airbase.

The current exhibit is “Experience Genius in Motion – Leonardo da Vinci”.  Once we got in, we watched an 8-minute documentary on the man, Leonardo da Vinci.

It was so interesting! From there, we were given two options: check out the exhibit indoors or head outside and tour the planes.  We started indoors. Some of the featured exhibits were visionary inventions: flying machines, drive transmissions, parachutes, an armored tank,  a robot— and more. There were 40 machines that my kids and I were encouraged to study by turning levers and simply working the machines.  After we finished up inside, we headed outdoors to check out the planes.  We were given a tour by a wonderful docent who was a retired aeronautical engineer. Because I have aeronautical enthusiasts in my family, we were treated to a great experience with lots of great conversation!  He shared so much information with my family.  Better yet, he showed how various inventions of da Vinci’s were utilized in the planes we saw. We spent the rest of the day with him!  What a wonderful experience!  I highly recommend this field trip to families!  There’s so much to learn and this is a very “hands-on” experience!

Here’s a little bit more info for you to consider for planning your family field trip:

  • Da Vinci On Tour: February 6, 2017 – September 4, 2017
  • Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest minds of all time, and Machines in Motion brings his ideas to life!
  • The exhibit features a dramatic hands-on display of 40 full-size machine replicas made directly from Leonardo’s innovative designs and drawings.
  • https://aerospaceca.org/events/davinci-exhibit/

Happy learning,

Zivanka McRae

 

 

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Staying Connected While Homeschooling, a 3 Part Series

Everything in life has pros and cons. You just can’t avoid it. The trick is knowing what you need to shore up, so that nothing falls through the cracks. With homeschooling, one thing you need to make sure you do is stay connected. Most of our time is spent isolated at home and we rarely have free minutes to ourselves. Thus, one of our challenges is staying connected.

From my perspective, there are three main areas in which we as homeschool moms (or dads/grandparents) must remember to stay connected: God, our church/community, and homeschool support groups. I will take a look at each of these areas in depth in consecutive posts. The first one I will focus on is staying connected to God.

Abiding Leads to Fruit

I’m in the middle of a study called “Follow” in which all new members of our church go through a 6-8 week series with another member of the church. I am so grateful that I have been paired with an amazing homeschooling mom of four kids. This past week we were talking about John 15:1-11, and the purpose of remaining with Jesus. As most of you probably know, this passage describes God as the gardener, Jesus as the vine, and we, His people, as the branches.

Fruit Vines Wine Vine Grapes

In verse 5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

The Greek word for abide in this passage is hupomeno, or “to remain through or persevere.”  So, if we persevere with Jesus, staying connected with Him, we will bear fruit. And I think that is what most of us desire and need in every aspect of our lives. Staying connected to Him will make us better spouses, parents, teachers, co-workers, and friends. When we truly remain with Him, our families and friends will notice and be grateful! Be committed to making time with the Lord a priority.

He is Our Peace, Strength, Hope, and Foundation

When we remain connected with the Lord, not only will be bear fruit, but our days and lives will be transformed. The little frustrations that occur daily, won’t seem as frustrating; for we will be grounded in truth and the love and grace of the Lord. Our hearts will be at peace. We will sense His presence and strength, and we all need that to get through each day. We will have hope and joy, knowing He is a big God who loves us. And thankfully, we will be able to cast our cares on the Lord much more easily.

There are so many things that can weigh us down in this world. If we are not regularly spending time in the Word and saturating ourselves with truth, our foundations can be shaken and our cares can consume us. We desperately need Him as our foundation in life to keep us grounded in peace, strength, and hope.

We are A Model

When we stay connected to God, we model it to our kids. Of course we want our kids to have a thriving and daily walk with the Lord. When they see it modeled in us, or know we are getting up early to make our relationship with the Lord a priority, they will emulate us. We are building a legacy our kids will follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Connected is Not Easy or Natural

In the busyness of life, we all at times know how hard it is to be still and sit with the Lord, whether we homeschool or not. I know for me, sitting still does not come naturally. There are so many things that pull at our hearts and minds, and we can get so easily distracted. Family members, friendships, jobs, educating our kids, emails, phone calls, dirty houses, laundry, errands, extracurricular activities, church commitments, all compete for our time. Not to mention the distractions of social media and the tug to keep up with Joneses!

None of these in and of themselves is inherently wrong – in fact, we have to do most of them each and every day. The problem comes when we don’t prioritize our time and our relationship with the Lord gets pushed to the side. And for most of us, it usually doesn’t happen intentionally – something comes up unexpectedly, there is a change in schedule, or our kids get sick and our routine is thrown off.

What to do When We Become Disconnected

Distractions and detours will happen, so what are we to do when we find ourselves disconnected from the Lord?

  1. Know interruptions will come. They may throw you off for a few days and that’s okay. Just get back to your regular routine when you can.
  2. Be flexible. Your quiet times may not look the same as when you were single, without kids, not homeschooling, or fill in the blank to your unique situation. Give yourself grace and don’t make it legalistic. Adjust your expectations in certain seasons. For those tough seasons will Start with just 5 minutes each day.
  3. Make small changes. Get up earlier, use nap times, keep a Bible open on your kitchen counter, place note cards with Scripture throughout your house. I’ve even written Bible verses on the bathroom mirror to meditate on while brushing my teeth! Find creative ways to fit in time in the Word.
  4. Sometimes it’s just about being obedient. There will be times when you just don’t feel like getting into the Word. In those moments, just do it anyway. Not to just go through the motions or because you will lose your salvation if you don’t. But, because you WILL be blessed by it. In time, the Lord in His sweetness will meet you, reveal Himself to you, and your heart will change.
  5. Make it a part of your daily routine. Sometimes the hardest part is just starting. Like anything else that requires discipline, the hardest part can be making the initial changes in schedule, mindset, or routine. Find a time that works for you, and it will become a natural rhythm of your day just like eating, sleeping, or anything else.

I hope this has been encouraging to you! In my next article, I will discuss the importance of staying connected to the church body and community.

*Katie Landers is a SCOPE member, homeschooling mother of 2 precious kids ages 7 and 5, married to her wonderful husband for almost ten years. Katie recently started her own website to encourage others on their journey of homeschooling so that together we can raise up a godly generation who love and serve the Lord. In her free time she loves to be outdoors and active with her family. More of her writing can be found at www.basket-of-blessings.com

 

 

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SCOPE Field Trip to the Aerospace Museum of California

On March 16th, our family joined other SCOPE families for a great field trip to the Aerospace Museum of California.  It’s located at McClellan Airbase.

The current exhibit is: “Experience Genius in Motion – Leonardo da Vinci”.

Once we got in, we watched an 8-minute documentary on the man, Leonardo da Vinci.  It was so interesting! From there, we were given two options: check out the exhibit indoors or head outside and tour the planes.  We started indoors.

Some of the featured exhibits were visionary inventions: Flying machines, drive transmissions, parachutes, armored tanks, robots— and more. There were 40 machines that my kids and I were encouraged to study by turning levers and simply working the machines.  After we finished up inside, we headed outdoors to check out the planes.

We were given a tour by a wonderful docent who was a retired aeronautical engineer. Because I have aeronautical enthusiasts in my family, we were treated to a great experience with lots of great conversation!  He shared so much information with my family.  Better yet, he showed how various inventions of da Vinci’s were utilized in the planes we saw. We spent the rest of the day with him!

What a wonderful experience!  I highly recommend this fieldtrip to families!  There’s so much to learn and this is a very “hands-on” experience!  Here’s a little bit more info for you to consider for planning your family field trip:

  • Da Vinci On Tour: February 6, 2017 – September 4, 2017
  • Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest minds of all time, and Machines in Motion brings his ideas to life!
  • Dramatic hands-on display of 40 full-size machine replicas made directly from Leonardo’s innovative designs and drawings.

https://aerospaceca.org/events/davinci-exhibit/

Happy learning!

Zivanka McRae

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If you’ve ever traveled by airplane you have heard this announcement:

“In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Please pull the mask down toward your face and place the mask over your mouth and nose. If you are traveling with a child, please attend to yourself first, then the child.”

At first, this advice seems backward. A child in the midst of an emergency is vulnerable. A child in an emergency would be scared and disoriented and would need attention. A concerned parent would need to fight their natural inclinations in order to follow this emergency protocol.

But tending to the child’s needs first could be disastrous.

Why? Why would our natural instincts be wrong in a case like this? Why would taking care of the child first do harm to the child?

The answer is this: if the adult becomes disoriented, or loses consciousness, the child is left to tend to themselves. The adult must be alert, breathing, thinking, and acting, in order to properly tend to the child through the duration of the emergency. If the mask is given to the child first, all might seem well for a short time. But all’s not well. The responsible person in the child’s life is left gasping for air like a fish on dry land. If no oxygen is given to the adult, in the end both the adult and the child will suffer the consequences.

How does this apply to our homeschooling?

Parents must tend to ourselves in order to best serve and care for our children. Unlike the airplane announcement, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. It’s better to implement this protocol before an emergency rather than during one of life’s emergencies. There are things we need to do in order to care for ourselves that will ultimately benefit our children.

What things? What do I mean when I speak of caring for ourselves so that we can better care for our children? What air must we breath before we can put the oxygen mask on our children?

I’m not speaking about healthy eating or habits of exercise (although healthy parents are certainly a benefit to their children). And I’m not thinking of caring for our intellect by means of academia (although this can benefit our children also).

When I speak of caring for ourselves first I mean to say that we need to care for our souls. The oxygen we need, before we are able to care for our children, is the life giving power of God’s Word.

As Christian homeschool parents we desire to give our children a Biblical worldview. But do we have one ourselves? If not, what are we doing to grow in this area? How can we raise the next generation to think Biblically if we aren’t continually breathing in the air of Biblical thinking ourselves? Have we created the habits in our own lives that we desire to see in our children’s lives?

  • Are we reading God’s Word daily?
  • Are we meditating on God’s Word constantly?
  • Are we in fellowship with other believers who encourage and exhort us?
  • Are we sitting under godly leadership, Biblical teaching, and faithful preaching?

We need to be filled with the Spirit, filled with the Word, and filled with the knowledge of Christ. It will be difficult to put our children in a place to receive these things if we aren’t filled with them first.

Just as the child and the adult in an airplane both need oxygen, so the parent and the student both need the same life giving Spirit. Both are desperate for God; both are like fish on dry land. And both need to gasp for more of God’s Word, drinking it in like it was life itself. The wise parent will recognize the situation and make certain they tend to their own souls as the best means of also tending to the souls of the next generation.

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My wife follows the blog of a Christian school teacher from which she gets curriculum help and tips. This teacher published a post about an average day in the classroom. My wife took journal notes for one day to show what an average homeschool day was like in our home. She sent it to the teacher who then posted it on his blog. My wife gave me permission to lightly edit her journal entry and share with SCOPE. Just for fun, here it is.

-David West

 

8:30 am

I remind L10 (first initial and age) to get started on school work while I finish getting myself ready and dressing J3.

9:00 am

I find L10 still in his room. I remind him to go NOW to the school room and get started. He says, “Dad told me to put away my baseball cards.” I clarify, “Dad said to put them away, not to sort them right now. Dad wouldn’t want you to not to do your school work. You can finish putting them away on your break.”

9:15 am

Eat my oatmeal while listening to L10 read the first page in 4 subjects. It’s the 1st week of the 3rd quarter so we had tested on several workbooks on Thursday and Friday and started new ones today.

Help J3 put her shoes on.

9:30 am

Look for C13. I find him sick in bed. No school for him today. Make N5’s oatmeal. She eats while watching a Winnie the Pooh with J3.

L17 and A16 are working at their desks.

9:45 am

S2 (the little boy I babysit) arrives. I give him a snack and he joins in watching Winnie the Pooh.

I sit with L10 as he works a page of nouns and pronouns.  He goes to correct his work at the kitchen table then brings me four answer keys that he’s finished with.  I get the test keys out of my binder and go to the garage to my file cabinet.  I file the old answer keys and pull his new ones. Brrr it’s cold out there. I give him his new answer keys and put the new test keys in my binder.

I clear and wipe the counters and table from breakfast while L10 is working on Science and calling out facts about Benjamin Franklin and electricity. “How does a lightning rod work?” “It says to NEVER try the kite and key experiment.”

Check on C13. He’s reading Swiss Family Robison in bed.

Made myself some hot tea and created today’s school plan for N5.

A16 is humming a choir song at her desk.

S2 comes in wanting a drink. I discover the refrigerator water is frozen up again. I’ll have to defrost it later.

L10 is checking his Science workbook. He’s done with that and is back to work on English. The dog is sleeping between the desks.

Fold the laundry in the dryer and start a new load. On my way back to the kitchen I met L10 who needs help with adjectives. Before I answer J3 needs help folding her baby blanket. She is obsessed with folding right now. I help L10 with his question then J3 needs help going potty. While there I check on C13 who has moved on to a bird watching book.

Back to the kitchen/school room and L10 is finishing English and pulling out his Literature.

Where is A16? I find her in her room working on a writing project.

Wipe up water on the floor from S2’s spilled sippy cup.

Sit by L10 and answer text from Sister-in-law and check email on phone.

L10 scores and finishes Literature and takes a bathroom break.

10:43 am

L17 working on Civics Self Test.

C5, J3, and S2 are still watching Winnie the Pooh.

L10 pulls out Reading and I encourage him to do a Math page first.

10:47 am

N5 wanders in and I snag her to start her school work. She chooses Social Studies first. I move over by her desk to listen to her read.

J3 brings me a dog leash. Ok?

S2 is crawling under A16’s desk with a crochet hook. Then he crawls along under N5, C13, and L10’s desks.

L10 is fussing with S2 who runs to me and pushes the binder off my lap so I can hold him. He cuddles for a minute while I listen to N5 read. She thinks “Baba” is a good name for a little sheep. She is still in her jammies.

L17 is correcting schoolwork at the kitchen counter.

L10 needs help on his Math crossword puzzle.

S2 grabs the leash and runs off.

N5 tries to leave but I call her back.

L17 checks on J3 since Winnie the Pooh is over and starts a new show for her. She plays with S2 and his leash for a minute. L10 tries to join in and I send him back to work.

I leave N5 to answer questions and see what L10 is working on.

11:03 am

Answer a text from my husband.

L17 asks a question about her Civics.

S2 crawls by with a Minnie Mouse car attached to the dog leash.

L10 is still working on his Math crossword puzzle while humming a choir song.

I remind A16 to start fixing lunch soon.

When I come back N5 has left her desk and joined the toddlers in the living room who are watching Super Why. I call her back to finish last question in Social Studies. She picks up her English and is excited to see the cover matches the English L10 is in.  She decides to do Math instead.

L10 is answering a question related to character building and asks, “When was I observant?”  I offer the suggestion of noticing when the dog’s water needed to be refilled.

A16 puts water on to make butter noodles and stands over it reading her library book.

L10 runs out onto the back porch and feeds and waters the dog.  Hmmmmm?

N5 “Five take away ‘Free’ is two.”

L10 finished his 15th page for the day and gets a break.

J3 walks in kitchen with the dog leash.  N5, J3 & I start singing our “I Will Obey My Mama” song.  

J3 crawls up onto my lap.

I remind N5 to start on her next page.

S2 walks in with a play shopping cart. J3 jumps off my lap to claim her property. J2 abandons it and runs to claim my lap.

Redirect N5.

Check on L10 sorting his baseball cards.

C13 has finished Swiss Family Robinson and says he will come out for lunch.

Super Why is playing in the living room with no one in there watching it.

L17 reminds A16 to make a veggie to go with the butter noodles. A16 asks “Broccoli or corn?”

S2 is hovering in the kitchen anxious for his lunch.

N5 finishes her math goal. I check it and she has to correct a couple where she subtracted instead of adding. She’s finished with Math and starts on English.

I shut off the TV.

J3 is playing with a Noah’s Ark toy in the hallway.

N5 reads me words in her English with the “a” sound.

S2 is dragging the high chair to the table. I think he’s hungry. J3 hears the noise and comes to sit in her booster seat.

A16 is slicing bread to have with lunch.

N5 reads another page of words.

A16 sets the table and places my book at my place. For the past six years I read a chapter while the children eat. We call it “Lunchtime Books”.

N5 reads a page of silly sentences to me and is done with her English for today.

A16 calls everyone to lunch.

We pray and the children eat while I read. We finished our book today. I instruct the children where to put the sticker on their schoolwork tracking chart.

Everyone goes to take a break while I eat my lunch and read my own book.

I take S2 to take a nap. I have to lay down with him until he falls asleep.

1:15 pm

I get up and take J3 potty then return a call to my mom.

My husband comes home unexpectedly. He heats up some lunch then sits at the table to work from home.

N5 reads a Science page to him while I clean the kitchen. It would normally be C13’s job.

L10 is getting back to work. He wanted to work in his room but I asked him to come out and work at his desk.

A16 is studying her Physical Science in the living room.

C13 has moved to the couch.

L17 folds a load of laundry and starts a new one.

N5 finishes her Science and is done for the day. She gets her 20 merits (rewards used to purchase items I supply) out of the “school drawer”.

L17 takes N5 and J3 to her room to make a letter to sent to their cousins.

S2 wakes up WAY too early.  He’s sitting on my lap.

A16 catches J3 writing on the wall.

L10 finishes Math and only has two pages of dictionary work in Word Building left.

I’m sitting near L10 and he tells me about some crazy natural/weather stories he saw on a nature show then gets back to the dictionary.

Meanwhile, S2 is bringing me a beanbag. He wants me to put it on his head then he walks away until it falls off. Repeat several times while reading a couple pages in my book.

I remember to take chicken out of the freezer for dinner.

L10 “Mom, one of the definitions in here for the word ‘grub’ is ‘a type of food.”

S2 now has the bean bag in the toy grocery cart and is running around the kitchen with it.

3:00 pm

J3 knows it is snack time and asks for a yogurt.

C13 comes out and makes himself a banana-berry smoothie.

L10 is done and school wrapped up for the day.

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The 2017 SCOPE Lego Night on Saturday, January 28th was a great night for SCOPE families. Nineteen families participated, with 39 Exhibit entries, 26 Competitive creations, and 25 hoping for a chance to Build-It-On-The-Spot. Much creativity and fellowship filled the night.

Pathways Fellowship graciously allowed us the use of their church at Madison and Kenneth in Fair Oaks. And Five Star Bricks in Orangevale on Main Street generously donated over $330 of Lego sets, making many eyes wide with the possibility of bringing one of those big, new sets home!

This was a true SCOPE event, in that every family which participated also contributed in some way to make the night a great time for all. We had cheerful people help with the set up, snack time, judging, and clean up and everyone donated either a snack, their help or a new Lego item.

Many parents and kids expressed their gratitude for the event, which made it a double blessing for those of us who coordinated it. And we all enjoyed a relaxed, sweet fellowship before, during, and after the event. Many families stayed to visit when all the events were finished, and we could see a cohesive community enjoying each other’s company. God is good!

On evaluation forms, several families expressed that their favorite part was looking at all the Lego exhibits and competition pieces. Others appreciated the judged event itself, while others loved the Build-It-On-The-Spot or door prizes.

Build-It-On-The-Spot is a fun, timed competition. From those who wish to participate, two names are drawn in four age categories. Those chosen are given identical boxes of random Lego pieces, a theme, and 10 minutes to build something on the spot. The theme for 2017 was Nature: Something God Made and the winners were chosen based on their creation’s appearance, level of difficulty, and creativity.

The 2017 Build-It-On-The-Spot winners are:

6 Year Olds and Under: Joseph Gere

7 to 9 Year Olds: Elijah Dietrich

10 to 12 Year Olds: Jacob Stadel

13 Year Olds and Up: David Henkel

The 2017 Lego Competition relied on 17 judges to evaluate submissions that were built with this year’s theme: Nature.  There were small entries, huge entries, and entries that incorporated water features. Our wonderful, hard-working judges were led by our Judging Coordinator Rydell Asbenson and included Clint Anderson, Easton Boggs, Everett Boggs, Hutson Boggs, Christopher Carlson, Helen Demas, Bob Herguth, Joey Herguth, Josh Herguth, Cody Kimminau, Jeremy Kimminau, Kaleigh Kimminau, Todd Lavering, Levi McRae, Logan McRae, Daniel Wolff, and Justin Wolff.

The 2017 Lego Night Competitive Results are:

5 Year Olds and Under:

1st Place               Ian Wolff (Mountain Lion)

2nd Place              Anna Paduraru (Giraffe)

 

6 to 7 Year Olds:

1st Place               Jeffy Nicholson (Hiking the Amazon)

2nd Place              Joseph Gere (Shark Attack)

3rd  Place              Nathan Wolff (Nature)

 

8 to 10 Year Olds:

1st Place               Dana Anderson (Andros Barrier Reef, Bahamas)

2nd Place              Emily Nicholson (Pismo Beach, CA)

3rd Place               Nathan Carlson (Arctic Snow Camp)

 

11 to 12 Year Olds:

1st Place               Ronan Nicholson (Birds of California)

2nd Place              Logan McRae (Garden of Eden)

3rd Place               Daniel Gere (Mountain Stream Relief)

 

13 to 14 Year Olds:

1st Place               Daniel Wolff (Day at the Lake)

2nd Place              David Henkel (Ocean)

3rd Place               Stephen Gere (Arizona Desert)

 

15 Year Olds and Up:

1st Place               Justin Wolff (Mythical Island)

2nd Place              Daniel Henkel (Lone Wolf)

Our wonderful SCOPE Lego Night emcee was student Melanie McRae, who did a marvelous job guiding the evening, keeping all the events on track, making announcements, calling the door prize Lego combinations, revealing the prize winners, and blessing us with her kind demeanor and prayers. Melanie was articulate and a natural at this job, so much so that it is hard to believe that this was her first time in such a position. Homeschooled students are awesome!

Make plans to join us next year! Many students think about this event all year, as they build and create with their Legos.

Thanks to the Lord for His making this event and all its fruit possible, and thanks to the families who contribute so much every year!

Rhonda Asbenson and Zivanka McRae, SCOPE Lego Night Coordinators

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Boys and girls are different. They are not different in the way one child is shy and another outgoing, and not like one child has mom’s eyes and the other has dad’s eyes. Boys and girls are different like a table is different from a chair. They share some common attributes but they serve different functions. Men and women are both created in God’s image, they both have equal worth, but God designed them to be different. The distinctions between male and female are grounded in God’s act of creation recorded for us in Genesis chapter one.

We have a responsibility as Christian parents to train our children according to God’s good design for men and women. We need to teach our boys what it means to be male and not female. And we need to teach our girls what it means to be female and not male. Our efforts to do this will be in direct opposition to the ruling philosophy of the age.

Over eighteen years ago my wife was pregnant with our first baby. I told a coworker she was pregnant and he surprised me with his response.

“You’re not going to genderize your kids are you?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, honestly not understanding.

“You know; are you going to let your girls play with trucks and your boys play with dolls?”

I don’t recall my answer; I’m sure it was gracious but probably not what he wanted to hear.

That was almost two decades ago. It struck me as odd at the time. But today I would not be surprised if someone said this to me. In fact people are saying it to me all the time. They are saying it to you as well. It may not be said directly to your face, but the world around you is sending a clear message – gender should not defined biologically and children should be free to make their own choices related to gender.

We can’t keep our children protected from these ideas forever. If they haven’t already encountered these strange ideas regarding gender – the time is coming when they will. You may have family, friends, or neighbors that are confused about gender. In fact, you might even run into this confusion among homeschoolers. Confusion about God’s good design doesn’t have boundaries, it crosses all ethnic, social, economic, political, and philosophical lines. People are people and the devil is at work wherever people exist.

Mom and dad, you have a tough job ahead as you help your children navigate these things. Let me suggest three lines of defense as you seek to train your children Biblically about gender.

First, study the topic deeply yourself. Read the relevant Bible passages related to manhood and womanhood in Scripture. Seek knowledge of the subject from your pastors. Read books on the topic and let your study transform you. Our homes should be the training ground for a Biblically informed view of manhood and womanhood. We should joyfully embrace and display God given roles in our homes. Our children will learn more from watching us than from anything else.

Second, teach your children. Don’t let your children leave your home without a Biblical understanding of male and female roles. The stakes are high, the battle lines have been drawn. Prepare your children for the world they will face when they are grown and leave your house.

Wisdom will be needed as you do this. You will need to teach these things at appropriate ages and in appropriate ways. Ask God to help you. But however you do it don’t neglect to teach these things.

Third, teach compassion for the gender confused. In I Corinthians 6 the Apostle Paul gives a list of sins people commit who will not inherit the kingdom of God. The church in Corinth had some people among them who were once in this excluded group. But they were washed, they were sanctified, they were justified. God’s grace extends to places where our love, at first, may not. God’s grace can take a gender confused person and turn them into a man or woman totally changed and in love with the Savior. Teach your children God’ truth about gender but also teach them God’s mercy for sinners.

Gender distinctions are being blurred by the world – but Christians must not have fuzzy thinking about these issues. The lines of gender must not be blurry in our homes.  We must be willing to stand on the truth of Scripture even when others don’t. And we must be willing to be different from those who don’t think Biblically about these issues. But we already are different. We’re used to being different- we’re homeschoolers.

*The inset picture is my two boys and their cousins acting silly at a family event
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And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my  infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  — 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

The apostle Paul wrote those words just after he was caught up into the heavenly realm and heard things that cannot be told. I’m struck by two things as I read this passage.

  1. God is sovereign over our trials.
  2.  God’s grace is sufficient during our trials.

Paul was given ‘a thorn in the flesh’. We don’t know what this was, but we do know it wasn’t beyond God’s control. The text says it was a messenger of Satan to harass Paul. Immediately I think of the story of Job. God allowed Satan to attack Job, his family, and his property, but all within the scope of God’s rule and dominion. Satan was permitted to go so far when dealing with Job.

Paul’s thorn may have come by means of Satan, but it wasn’t outside of God’s control. The text doesn’t tell us God gave Satan permission the same way we are told about what happened to Job, but we do know God allowed it for His purposes because Paul tell us the thorn was given to keep him from being too conceited. Satan isn’t concerned with Paul NOT being conceited, so this must be the work of God, or, at least, allowed by God for His purposes.

Although we don’t know what the ‘thorn’ was, Paul goes on to highlight other trials he had suffered. In verse 10 he speaks of infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses. If you study the life of Paul, you find this list is short. He suffered many things.

By citing these in the same passage as the thorn, Paul is saying these things also serve the sovereign purpose of God. In fact, he tells the reader that he suffers these things ‘for the sake of Christ.’ So, God has a purpose in Paul’s suffering. In Philippians 1 Paul says it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard that his imprisonment was for Christ. All of Paul’s sufferings serve a purpose – some advance the Gospel, some teach him humility, some teach him to find satisfaction in God alone no matter his circumstances.

What do you think the purpose of your current trials are? What is God doing in your life? Is he showing forth His power in your weakness? Do you believe your trials are under His control?

Be assured, trials are as much ordained for you as those of Job and Paul.

Paul knows his trials are ordained for him because he pleaded three times with the Lord about the thorn. God gave an answer in verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for thee…” We may not hear directly from God as Paul did, but we can have just as much certainty that our trials serve God’s purposes. God’s grace is sufficient for you and me and the trials we face today.

Do you see what God is telling you from Paul’s letter. In this text, the living Word of God, the Holy Spirit is saying, “God is sovereign over your life, He hasn’t abandoned you, He hasn’t given up on you, in fact, your trials are evidence that he is working in and through you – for your good and His exaltation.”

Some things can only be learned, truly learned and understood, by being there and going through the situation. We all know the phrase, “You had to be there.” The sufficiency of God’s grace through trials functions this way – you have to experience it to really understand. We can read it in the text, we can even teach it, but until we have pleaded with God and wrestled with our own hearts we can’t know God’s sustaining grace.

This may be one reason God allows our suffering – it is a means of allowing us to know Him intimately as Sustainer, Provider, Comforter. The only way we can know God’s comforting grace is to first be uncomfortable. The only way we can appreciate God’s provision is to find ourselves in need and then see God provide.

But God’s grace doesn’t always come in the form of physical, tangible help. This is part of the lesson Paul learned. To the person who has learned God’s grace, it provides more security than a  full pantry, a large bank account, or a perfectly healthy body.

God’s sufficient grace sustains weak people, not by giving them power or strength, but by highlighting the power of God and directing us to rely on Him. God told Paul, “my strength (God’s strength) is made perfect in weakness.” Paul says, therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses. Paul doesn’t say God would strengthen him and therefore Paul would have reason to boast. No, Paul will boast, even when remaining weak, because in his weakness the power of Christ rest upon him (verse 9).

True suffering is to suffer a soul which doubts the sovereignty of God, or a heart which doesn’t trust Christ in the midst of trials. True suffering is to suffer in this world and not learn or understand God’s all-sufficient grace. Paul pleaded three times and then heard from God and yielded to God’s will. We mentally know God’s grace is sufficient, but until we yield to the sovereign purposes of God, we will struggle to understand God’s grace.

The ultimate example of yielding to God’s purposes is found in the story of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26). Christ, like Paul, pleaded with the Father three times. Christ yielded to the Father’s will; the cross was the result. The suffering of Christ served the pinnacle of God’s purposes.

God was sovereign over Paul’s trials and over Christ crucifixion; God is sovereign over our trials as well. God’s grace was enough for Paul and you can trust that God’s grace is sufficient for the trials you are enduring today.

 

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