Monday, March 21, 2016

While Waiting for Spring...

Russ and I had the opportunity and privilege of attending the Idaho State Prayer Breakfast with featured speaker Dr. Ravi Zacharias.  Russ received an invitation as a pastor in the Boise community, but we were also invited by a couple in our congregation.  He serves as a state representative and his daughter (who also attends our church) serves as a state senator.   

We had a fun night out with a family from church watching the Idaho Steelheads play hockey.

Seth had fun playing basketball and soccer with a buddy from church.  His mom had an unexpected meeting at work and he spent a couple hours with us one afternoon.  I think he should make it a weekly routine as the boys had lots of fun.

Caleb traveled to Guatemala for a service project with a group from Grand Rapids.  I look forward to hearing more about his trip and seeing his pictures when he is back home from college early May!

Russ and I also attended the Boise Philharmonic and Mastor Chorale which featured Mozart's Requiem.   Two of the Air Force fellows from Mountain Home treated us to dinner and the orchestra.  Having studied Revelation this year in BSF the music and words seemed to have a little more weight.  Here is a sample translated into English:

The trumpet will send its wondrous sound 
throughout earth's sepulchres
and gather all before the throne.

Death and nature will be astounded,
when all creation rises again,
to answer the judgement.

A book will be brought forth, 
in which all will be written,
by which the world will be judged.

When the judge takes his place,
what is hidden will be revealed, 
nothing will remain unavenged.

What shall a wretch like me say?
Who shall intercede for me,
when the just ones need mercy?

King of tremendous majesty,
who freely saves those worthy ones,
save me, source of mercy.

It was just a wonderful evening with great company. looks like spring is on its way as the apricot tree is in full bloom!

Artsy Asia

The last few weeks we have been studying India and China, finishing up just before spring break.  We had a lovely chicken mango curry meal when we finished up India and cheated on our Chinese meal a little bit by ordering from Panda Express last weekend.  The kids' homeschool track coach founded a non-profit organization to assist young adults phasing out of the foster system, and Panda Express was giving 20% of Saturday's profits to the organization so thought it was a win-win arrangement.

A few weeks ago I realized we had not done that much with painting/drawing, etc this year so ramped it up a little bit for this unit.  What I found is that if I initiate, buy the correct materials, find pictures to draw from, and offer a bunch of excitement they will "do" art!  

We did rangoli art last time we did India five years ago, but we enjoyed coloring rice, finding pictures to print out and creating our own masterpieces again this year.  

I gave each of the kids a small canvas and new acrylic paints and told them they had to paint something that reminded them of India.  

India's national bird--peacock, Taj Mahal, and the snow leopard:

We studied the grassland and mountain biomes during this time.  I went to Wal-mart to purchase some grass seed and found these cute little critters instead.  They were much cheaper and it was a whole lot more fun to cut the grass and give them new "hairdos".

We learned that a mountain actually contains many biomes depending on the height due to temperature and level of oxygen:  grasslands, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, alpine meadow, and snow line.

We also studied ecology and conservation and did a little acid rain experiment with two identical plants.  The kids were so distressed that the plant was dying that we had to cut the experiment short.  

China wasn't quite as artsy as India, but the kids (mostly Anna) did put together a model of the Great Wall.  

They carried their renewed interest in drawing outside one nice day and beautifully decorated our sidewalk/patio area in the back.

After spring break we will finish up in Asia with Japan and Russia and then head to Australia to finish out the year!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Some Favorite Books

I don't usually write about the books I've been reading either on my own or with the kids because I don't think that what I have to say about a book is really that important.  Also, books are personal.  What someone loves about a book, another person may not.  What speaks to someone or touches their heart may not make the same impact on another person.  But sometimes you read a book that you just want to share regardless if the individuals on the other end are even interested.  

The book Give Them Truth by Starr Meade was one of those books for me.  As a family we have pretty much read every book written by this author and have come to love the truths that they contain whether they are teaching catechism or sharing truths from stories in the Bible.  Our all time favorite is still Grandpa's Box.  

This book, however, is not for kids but for parents and teachers who instruct and train children.   The book is set up to explain why teaching our children the truths of God and his Word are important, what truths our children need to know, and then how to help our children know these truths.   Even though I appreciated all aspects of this book, the parts that have stayed with me are the two chapters on  God and His attributes and the practical illustrations and activities used throughout the book to explain to children "difficult" doctrinal truths.  

Here are a few favorite quotes:

"Christianity based on experience or emotion or good behavior will crumble in the face of life's trials."

"Learning theology is like studying for exams--when we're tested we want to be ready"

"Suffering is often the path (God) chooses for his children, wanting their holiness more than their happiness"

"The 'downside' to the sovereignty of God, from the perspective of sinful human beings, is that if God rules, we don't."

"(People of our day) want to imagine something a little more powerful than they are, as eager to serve them as they are to serve themselves, and call that God"

Starr Meade has provided us with many resources to instruct our children.  I already mentioned Grandpa's Box, but she has also written Mighty Acts of God and Wondrous Works of God which are Bible story books.  Training Hearts, Teaching Minds and Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds are devotionals to help instruct children in the truths contained in the catechisms.  She has also written smaller devotionals entitled God's Mighty Acts in Creation and God's Mighty Acts in Salvation.  

I can also recommend two other resources we have recently enjoyed or are enjoying.  We are currently reading The Ology at our evening family worship time.  I like the book because you can expand the teaching by reading all the Bible passages or keep it shorter by just reading the key verses depending on how much time you have.

Since Russ is preaching a sermon series on the book of Mark, we bought a case of Mark's Marvellous Book to give to the families in our church that have children eight and under.  Prior to a short retelling of a Bible story from the Gospel the author has a quirky short story that explains the main key word in the Bible story such as "pleased," "amazing," or "growing."  We don't have anyone under eight, but we all still enjoyed the book!