Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One Hard Day- Guest post by Amanda

Blessings come and blessings go
Of that you can be sure. 
Often, though, I stop and ask
"What is the struggling for?"
I grow so tired of trials.
Where is the silver lining?
How are my days cloudy and damp,
When the Son is still shining?
I could question things forever,
But what difference does that make?
For The Lord, our God, did not promise
Life would be a piece of cake. 
Yes, I will grow weary
And I will question why
Life must be full of sorrows,
Tears, and one endless sigh. 
If my heart is full of worry
How can faith continue to grow?
But if I keep my heart full of faith
All that weary will have to go. 


Amanda

-This is a Guest post by my beautiful friend, +Amanda Cantrell  :)


Amanda has been married to her husband Shawn for 12 years and together they have four beautiful boys.  She is currently in school working on her Bachelors Degree so that she can teach Middle School History.  She has always had a beautiful singing voice, that's what all of those who knew her as a child know best about her.  Singing and music have always been her passion, and she loves to use this passion to serve her God.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Finding Comfort- Guest Post by Amanda

     Hardships are abundant. You don't have to look far to find something to get you depressed and out of heart. However, we should always search for the silver lining. Three things help me to make it through each day, despite hardships. Music, prayer, and the Word of God.
     There are millions of songs about everything under the sun in the world today. You can find songs about Heaven, Hell, depression, and comfort. When things begin to go bad in life, the best thing for me to do is find songs of comfort. He Knows My Name by The McRaes is one of my favorite go to songs. It talks about how God is in control of everything in the world and how amazing it is that God cares about someone as insignificant as me. One part of the song says "When I'm overwhelmed by the pain, can't see the light of day, I know I'll be just fine, cause He knows my name". Those words are extremely comforting to me. Another song that I turn to when I struggle is His Eye Is On The Sparrow. The birds never have to think about how they will survive, because God takes care of the birds of the field. He knows everything that happens in my life and it all happens for a reason. Even when I don't understand. 
     We all need someone to talk to when things turn sour in our life. Family and friends may not always be available. However, God is always available for us to talk to. He wants us to bring Him our troubles so that He can comfort us. There is a reason He says "come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden". He knows life will be difficult for us at times, and He is the one that will take care of all our problems. All we have to do is ask. 
     The most important source of comfort is the Bible. His word is our roadmap in this world. I can't even begin to list the verses available about comfort. Don't believe me, check it out for yourself. That is what He wants us to do. He wants us to seek His word for His help. It is always available. 

Your Sister in Sorrow,
Amanda

This is a Guest post by my beautiful friend, Amanda


Something amazing


  A few months ago in childrens church Sister told me that she had asked Jesus into her heart.  Ever since then she's been so inquisitive.  I wasn't sure if she had really gotten it then, and was just learning, or if she was just taking the steps to understanding.  Shellie told me that day that she had lots of questions, so we've had several heart to hearts about it.  She just wasn't sure, and I wasn't sure if she really understood.  I never told her whether or not she was saved, I celebrated with her and told her how proud I was of her.  When she told me she wasn't sure of it, I told her that only God knew if she was or not, and that he would let her know if she wasn't one day.  I told her that faith was the key to salvation, and if she believed in her heart she was saved, then that's what the Bible said, that she was saved, but only she knew that.  I know that confused her, but I'm not one who would wish to tell her one way or another...  its confusing when its with a child because you aren't truly sure what they understand, and what they don't.
  Last night, Sister, Stephen and I watched Gods not Dead. She watched it so intently.  It was such a great movie.  We were all really into it, but I was surprised at how intense it was for Sister.  Stephen ended up singing along with the Newsboys at the end and praying throughout their song.  It was a very moving time for us in our living room.  I was near tears of joy, just listening to the music and allowing my heart to praise my God.  It was awesome.
  After the movie Stephen went to shave. Sister asked if I would talk to her.  The second I said yes, she burst into tears.  She was crying so hard she was literally sobbing.  It took me awhile to realize what she was saying, but she was saying that she knew God was dealing with her, and that it was her chance to get saved and she had to do it.  I asked her if she knew what it meant..  and she said that she had sinned so much.  I burst into tears.   I grew so nervous.  I had never done this before.  This was when my husband was supposed to come in the room, this is where the preacher steps in..  I kept saying.  I heard the shower running, and I panicked.  A preachers wife is not supposed to do this..  this was my little girl, and I knew that she was under conviction..  and I didn't know what to do.  I held my breath and told God he would have to take it from here, because I didn't know what to do..  I allowed tears to stream down my face as I explained to her what sin was, and that sins cost was death.  She knew, she repeated to me what she had learned in children's church and Sunday school, and she was right.  I explained to her that God loved us so much, that he wanted all of us to be in heaven with us.  I explained it over and over again, making certain that she got it.  Through tears she repeated it to me, with full understanding in her sweet little heart.  I told her about Jesus, how Jesus stepped up and said he would take her sin and pay for it, so she didn't have too, and again she sobbed, hard...  she said she loved God, she yelled she loved him SO SO SO much and that she wanted to be with him in Heaven.  I told her to tell God she had sinned, that she was sorry, and that she understood that someone had to pay for that..  and she did, and she understood, I know she did. I told her that she had to pray from this point on, that I could not help her..  she prayed the sweetest, most repentive prayer I have ever heard, I never thought a child was capable of such a prayer.  She asked God if he would save her, and that he would come live in her heart so she could live for him and be with him in Heaven.  Then she smiled at me.  A smile that lit up the dark room.  She beamed with happiness.
   I pressed my hand against her chest and asked her if she believed in her heart that Jesus died for her sins.  She smiled so brightly as she said Yes.  I put my finger on her sweet little lips, and asked if she would confess it with her mouth, and she told me that she believed Jesus died for her sins..  and that she was saved.
   Guys..  my little girl got saved last night.  :)  I'm not sure if she got saved back then and reaffirmed it last night, but from her prayers, I really believe she did.  She believes she did, and she has all the faith in the world that she asked her Heavenly father to save her and that he did!  The time doesn't matter, just that she confesses that she is..  and I'm so, so blessed!
   We went to tell Dad.  He smiled as he stepped out of the bathroom.  He said that God had told him before he left the room that his little girl was going to get saved, but he also told him that he wasn't the one who was supposed to lead her..  and that's why he turned the shower on.  I couldn't contain how happy i was..  how amazing it was to see someone step into the light, to see someone change as they accept Jesus, to see their hearts go from repentance, to see the weight of sin press down on their lives, and to see them light up the minute God lifts that burden from them, takes it away, and holds them..
  I've never really seen it in that light before.
   Its amazing...

   This morning the first thing she said it, "I am so happy Mommy.  I get to go to Heaven!"
   Its the most amazing moment of my life.
   A few months ago, the same thing happened to Bella.  So the good thing about this house, is that right there on that old couch, both of my girls asked Jesus into their hearts.  Now, its just time for their Daddy to baptize them.  :)  Soon, I'm praying.

  I'm so thankful for this little girl.  She has such a big heart, and she will make an amazing addition to those who serve God, because Sister never does anything with half of her heart.  Pray for her, pray that she will cease this and that she will never lose that joy in her salvation.  I'm so greatful that God gave her to me.







Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Other Proverbs Woman- Guest Post by Michelle

  We all know about the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31, right?  She is a woman of reverence, and faithfulness. She is honorable, wise and kind. She is fearful of the Lord. She is charitable and fruit bearing. She is trustworthy and strong. She is indeed a rare woman.

 However, in the day we live in, it is hard to find a woman such as this. Virtuous women are few and far between these days, and it's truly a shame. We have let her fall to the wayside. We have listened to society for far too long and ignored what God's word says that we should be.

Instead we have become the "Other Proverbs Woman". It is easy become her, it is also easy to fall into her trap. In Proverbs 5-7, we find a father, a teacher, warning his son to stay away from this woman. He describes her as she truly is, he doesn't sugar coat things at all. He warns his son that this woman is trouble. He warns him that yes, she will seem to have what he wants or thinks he may need, but she is indeed an evil woman.

 She is shallow as well as evil. Her conscience is seared, her dress seductive, and her heart is crafty. She is deceptive and a "smooth operator". She is an adulteress, an unfaithful wife whose restless unstable feet do not stay at home. She is defiant against God's law and uses tactics of surprise and flattery to get her way. Her evil character and lifestyle result from not pondering the path of life. Instead, she leads her victims down an path of destruction. She seeks and offers quick yet unsatisfying pleasures. She is unstable and has no anchor in godly character. She not only destroys her own family, but can bring ruins to yours as well.

 Proverbs 7:27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

She is not a woman we would want to be associated with. So then why is it that so many of us are becoming this very woman? Why are we letting our children look up to her?

 We are easily influenced to become such a woman by todays' TV, adult romance novels, social media, society and especially the company we keep. What we feed our mind, will consume our hearts.

 Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: 

How can we keep from becoming this woman?

 We must first turn to Christ, wholly and completely. This is not something we can halfway commit to. God didn't send his Son to die for us so that we could live for Him only on the days that we feel like it.

 We must guard our hearts, our minds and our homes from the proversions of TV, social media, books we read and the company we keep. Are you really paying close attention to what is going on in your own life, in your own home? What kind of people are you surrounding yourself and your family with? What kind of example are you setting for your children? Grandchildren? Neighbors?

 Proverbs 2:10-22 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths: To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it. 

Have we forgotten the covenant we made to God?

 By understanding who the adulteress of Proverbs is, our eyes are fully opened as to what we shouldn't want to become. Instead of being shallow, we should be unselfish. Instead of being seductive, we should be modest. (Oh I could spend days on that one.) Instead of being deceptive, we should be open, honest and caring. We should be faithful instead of unfaithful, wise instead of foolish, kind instead of hard-hearted. We should be fearful of the Lord and not defiant of God's law. Stable and well grounded in godly character and faith instead of unstable and without anchor.

 Proverbs 31: 10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 

Which woman of Proverbs are you? Which woman do you reflect? Which woman should you be? I know that I don't speak for everyone, but I certainly speak for myself when I say that I have failed. Not only my husband, my children, my neighbors and anyone else looking at me, but most importantly, God. I feel that God meant this as much for me as for the women at the conference last week. I know I'm not perfect, far from it. But today is a new day. Today we get another shot. Today is our day to be the virtuous woman. Who are you going to be today?

 With Love,
 Michelle

This is a guest post by my beautiful friend, +Michelle Franklin


Michelle has been married to her husband Chris for 9 years.  Together they have two beautiful children. After spending several years home schooling her children, she accepted a job at a local Christian school as an elementary school teacher and she begins her first year of teaching this fall.  She is very active in church and loves to jump in feet first in whatever ministry she is needed in at the time.Michelle has a passion for children, and loves teaching.  She also has a passion for women's ministry.  Michelle also shares her ministry as well as family life on her
 personal blog over at Life on the Creek


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Our 2014-2015 Home School Curriculum

   As I placed together this curriculum, I went through pages upon pages of home school Mommy blogs, finding something that I thought would best fit my children's needs.
  This year is a bit different than any other year we have home schooled.  This is the first year I'm home schooling more than one child, and now I'm home schooling three!  I have Bella, who is in 7th grade, Sister, who is in 2nd, as well as Brother , who is my kindergartner.  Mix that up with a wild one year old running around and you have a lot going on in the daily goings of the Duncan household!  It will be a busy year indeed!
   This year is also different because I tossed out my whole idea of one curriculum for all children.  My kids aren't a package deal.. so its difficult to choose one curriculum that fits each of them.  They are stronger in some areas and weaker in others.  They certainly aren't cookie cutters...  so I have went through several curriculum choices and chosen what I believe best fits their current needs.  Since I got all of these through different home schooling bloggers, I wanted to share with the home schooling world, and perhaps even encourage another home school Mommy!
  I wrote a blog entry on my former blog about our curriculum choice this year at the beginning of the year, but since then we have changed a few things!  So I decided to post another blog about this to update my new readers, as well as to let you guys know what was working best for us!  We've been in school for about four months now, so we are pretty well into these, and even in the second books in some of them!  So here you go!

Bella- 7th Grade

 English/Grammar


I personally LOVE this book.  It may seem a little repetitive, but its been amazing.  Its easy to follow, and I purchased this book on the home school classifieds site..  this book is all in one, it comes with tests and worksheets.  Its not really a self-working type of book, or at least it isn't for her.  Its easy to go by though, it gives through instructions for mastery before you move on to the next level.  
The first part of the book that requires mastery before you move along to other levels is all about prepositions.  We have drilled that.  I've also found lots of helpful worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Also, This youtube video song was the only reason we could ever remember them.  LOL. 



I've always been a fan of Abeka. I used it to preschool Sister way back when we began home schooling.  I really enjoy this literature program.  Bella seems to enjoy it as well.  A lot of the short stories inside are faith based stories.  We are also reading a LOT of novels during this year, most of them are historical novels based on the time periods we are studying, but this works great as a daily reading with comprehension questions.  





I can't even begin to say enough good about this program!  I love these books, they really do mirror well the type of questions found on the SAT.  The vocabulary used is practical and not outlandish, its words that would be found in everyday vocabulary but she has learned so much from this.  Its also far from easy, but not overbearing.  I really enjoy this as a daily work lesson, its something good that she can do on her own well.  It also has a booklet that comes with tests for each chapter, a midterm and a final exam, so that I really like!  

Math

  So far this year Bella has been working through Life of Fred: Fractions  I wasn't certain if that was enough, so I supplemented with Mastering Essential Math Skills: Fractions by Richard Fisher  I'm a little torn.  Bella likes Fred a lot, but I'm not sure its working.  I think it may be more confusing than working for her..  so we may give Teaching Textbooks a try.  It was my first choice for curriculum when I began.  Fred is entertaining and easy to get hooked on, and we do have the Decimals version ready for her when she finishes...  but I'm just not entirely sure its working for her, and its difficult for me to help her when working through Fred because my math skills are.... eh....  well.  You get it.  LOL.  I can't say enough wonderful things about Richard Fishers book however.  I do intend to purchase more after Fractions.  It works GREAT for daily use, and its repetitive, and I LOVE that.  Its daily drills, basically, which my kids don't mind, and I really enjoy.  We're working on Math, its our soft spot at the moment...

Computer time:
Bella enjoys spending her computer time on Pinterest mainly lol..  but when she does want to play a game, she enjoys Mission US Thirteen and its fabulous.  I think our fun history lessons have created a history buff out of her, so she enjoys learning about history a LOT.  Which excites me, because that's my favorite subject!

Sister- 2nd Grade

Handwriting



I can't say enough wonderful things about this handwriting program!  It is copywork using scripture!  I absolutely loved it and she did wonderful with it!  We just finished her last page today and she will be working on the next one as soon as we begin school back after Christmas!  Today's page was a Christmas scripture also..  how perfect is that!  Its beautifully made.  I didn't want to overwhelm the kids when we began school so I didn't have a spelling curriculum for Sister, but they are getting faster at their work as the year goes by, so I am probably going to purchase the A Reason for Spelling book for our next year.  I really love this series!  

Phonics/Writing
  Sister has some great reading skills, so I didn't really want to go with a reading curriculum this year.  I believe that was a good decision.  We settled on Explode the Code.




 I absolutely think it was a great decision!  We did purchase the teacher books, as well as the 3, 3.5 and 4 books.  I think it will probably take us the entire year to get through all of these, we may make it to 5.  I don't believe it would be a complete stand alone curriculum with just the books, I highly recommend getting the teachers guide as well if you decide to do this program, just to get the entire phonics program.  Sister formerly did My Father's World as a reading program as well as letterland when she was in school for a few months, so there is some repetitive things, but for the most part its really good, and she really enjoys the workbook.  The pictures are funny (I cracked up at the Tiger..  Not a tiger...  the entire series has this dry sense of humor..  and that's SO our sense of humor...) and doesn't get bored with it.  She loves it, its a wonderful series...  and the price??  Haha..  I'm a BIG fan of the Rainbow Resource Center and these are listed between $5 and $7 on there.  WELL worth the price!
  Also from the same series, we purchased Beyond the Code for our literature/reading comprehension work.  We LOVE this as well!  Its short, cute stories, with easy to understand questions following.  Its been great, and Sister really looks forward to it everyday!  We are on book 2 now, and she was honestly sad when book 1 was over (Its mostly about a dog named Red!  Haha that fueled her inner Once Upon a time Fanatic lol!)  we have really enjoyed doing this together!



Math





Now I mentioned we were thinking of canning Life of Fred for Bella..  but I have to say that its PERFECT for Sister.  She loves reading about Fred, and she's learning about so much more than basic math skills. She's mastered sets, learned about Archimedes, knows how to tell time on a clock (will that come in handy in the days of smartphones?  Who knows...) but she's absolutely loving it and booking through it.  We are almost finished with the second book in the elementary series and we aren't even halfway through the school year.  Which is good because I intended for her to go fast, We should be finishing up Butterflies shortly after Christmas.  We have had so much fun with this, so many smiles and giggles.  For now, this is the right math choice for Sister!  I've also printed out several worksheets almost daily from one of my new favorite sites, Worksheet Works.  I am loving this site!  You can put in the stats that you hope for..  like numbers up to 10, up to 15... etc..  and it generates a printable worksheet!  So far we've only used time, fractions (for Bella) and basic math, but there are tons and tons of worksheets.  I told you we were fond of drills, so this works perfect for us!  She's doing great in math, which makes me proud..  she's quicker at addition than me lol.


Brother Bear- Kindergarten

  I had not intended to begin Brother in kindergarten this year when the children were attending private school.  I just did not believe he was ready for structured schooling yet.  I still believe that he isn't, so we are kind of just going with the flow with him.  I intend to make him a kinder again next year, and to purchase a curriculum for him.  This year, we are just learning and having fun while doing it, but I wanted to share some of the wonderful things we have found to those who have a prek/early k student like I consider Brother!

Phonics/reading/writing



We are beginning this after Christmas and I am super excited!  I told you how much I enjoyed Explode the Code with Sister.  I decided to purchase the 3.5 book halfway through last semester because I wanted to strengthen the skills she learned in book 3, so when I did I ordered this for Brother!  Its the beginner series of the books, and for the low price..  (It was $7.00!) I grabbed this up as well.  Just looking through it it looks awesome, and I'll do a better review once we work our way through it!
We have also just bought some inexpensive dollar store workbooks for him to learn to write letters.  When I order Sister's new handwriting book through A Reason for Home I intend to order him one as well, as he is getting really good at his handwriting, I think he's ready for some more constructed practice.  I'm excited about teaching him, and he's super excited about learning!  He has a love for books that seems rare in the little boy world, and I love feeding that love!  He doesn't know it yet, but he's getting a box full of Bernstein bears books from me for Christmas, as well as some Pete the Cat books from family members!  He's going to be so excited!!!

Brother also learns well online!  We were given a free trail of Time 4 Learning which I will be writing a review for!  He really enjoyed that, and we may go through the kindergarten curriculum with it after Christmas...  I don't enjoy doing all of their work online, but its an excellent tool, and may give him the jump start that he needs to begin his Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book that I bought for him to use next year.  I've also thought about Letterland..  Sister LOVED that part of school, it was her favorite..  I'll keep you updated, and write a formal review on Time4Learning..  stay tuned :)  

Our other favorite websites for Brother's computer time are... (These are free!)

We also enjoyed 
Reading Eggs - which you begin with a free trial..  we are still deciding between this and Time4Learning..  both are around $15-$20 per month
ABC Mouse -much cheaper at $7 a month, but doesn't seem as effective as the other two

And ALL of the kiddos love playing around on
Its' free and a place where kids can create their own books!  They all three enjoy this a LOT!

Math




He has been working his way through this workbook for his numbers, and I am absolutely loving it!  It surprises me how quickly he learned to write all of his numbers, and how he's slowly picking up on addition, even though its not an addition intensive book.  Its a lot of copywork, counting, and color by numbers which he REALLY likes a lot.  Its been working great! 


 I LOVE the "Complete Book of..." series.  You can find most of these on Amazon and I've bought a ton of them over the years.  This is the one Brother is currently using alongside his Abeka book.  He enjoys it a LOT!

Then there are the subjects we are all enjoying doing together...

Science


It took me awhile to decide on a science curriculum.  It was a toss up between Answers in Genesis and Apolgia...  and AIG won.  So we went with Gods Design for Heaven and Earth.  This was one of the sets that works well with older students with younger siblings in the class.  This series as well as Gods design for Life works well with both.  I believe that if we did this together for the first two years, and then branch off and Sister and Bella do their own independent Science classes afterward that would work out well, since AIG is an elementary curriculum.  I'll be honest, we haven't done great keeping up with this, we get really caught up in our history lessons that we LOVE, and sometimes Science gets swept under the rug...  but we do LOVE this series.  It comes with a CD that has printable worksheets which I love..  it keeps us on task.  Hopefully we can make our way through this faster at the second half of the school year, since we are in a better home schooling groove than we were at the beginning, and we are getting our basic work done faster, hopefully we can fit in history and science both in one day, because the kids don't like missing out on their history lessons at all!  It's their favorite part!

Geography

  Since our history curriculum this year will focus on United States history, naturally, we decided on United States Geography.  I remember when I was younger my grandfather bought me a US puzzle, and I still think about the little puzzle and how it fit together when I think of a map in my mind!  I picked this up from the Rainbow Resource Center and the kiddos LOVE it


We also have this game, which the kiddos have yet to play... but it seems like a lot of fun!  I thought this would be interesting when we have a few states studying under our belts!


Something I have recently discovered and am SUPER excited about checking out is Little Passports !  This looks SO much fun!  I think the kiddos will really enjoy getting this in the mail, and we are starting this as soon as Christmas is over!

We also enjoy using the free State coloring pages at Crayola and making lap books for each state!  The kids really enjoy this.  They enjoy learning about different places.  At the end of the year it is my intention for them to do a project about one state, pretending that it is the state they are moving too, and tell us why they are moving there.  I'm pretty excited to see what they come up with!  So far Sister really likes Texas!  I'm not sure what Bella's favorite is yet!

Lastly, we do history together..  and this is a BIG one.  I'm going to make another blog post about our United States History lessons, and hopefully chronicle the studies that we make throughout our trip through US History.  We are using American girl, as well as several other books and resources, far too many to name here!  So check back and I'll link up to it here, and follow along with our journey!  I'm super excited!  The girls are also taking music lessons, Bella is learning guitar with someone in her family, and Sister is taking piano lessons once a week.  They love this extracurricular, and are pretty good at it if I do say so myself!  There's lots of other things I would love to explore, such as foreign languages, I've found lots of resources on this!  Art is a big thing we would like to learn more about, we have joined an art class taught in a local town by a homeschool group in the next county, and the girls LOVED it.  Hopefully I can find more opportunities as our home school year moves along.
  For now, I wanted to share my curriculum and how it was going, for those who are looking for something that fits their kids.  Thanks for reading!  I'll keep you updated!