Saturday, February 23, 2013

Family Time Picks for January and February

A.W. Pink once said: "The Bible is not designed for lazy people.  Truth has to be bought (Prov. 23:23), but the slothful and worldly minded are not willing to pay the price required. That "price" is intimated in Proverbs 2:1-5: there must be a diligent applying of the heart, a crying after knowledge, a seeking for an apprehension of spiritual things with the ardour and determination that men employ when seeking for silver; and a searching for a deeper and fuller knowledge of the truth such as men put forth when searching for hid treasures - persevering until their quest is successful - if we would really understand the things of God.  Those who complain that these articles are "too difficult" or "too deep" for them, do but betray the sad state of their souls and reveal how little they really value the truth; otherwise they would ask God to enable them to concentrate, and reread these pages perseveringly until they made their contents their own.  People are willing to work and study hard and long to master one of the arts or sciences, but where spiritual and eternal things are concerned it is usually otherwise."

How true his words were and very much still are today. How many times have I been told: "I've gone as deep as I want to go," or "I don't have time to read the Bible," or "I have other things I have to do," or "Look at all the ministry things I do and how I serve at church... that is how I serve God", or how many people simply read the Bible without meditating on its truths or even think about what it means to apply it to their life? Today's culture has lost the love of simply being alone with God and seeking Him.

Does it take time? Yes. Does it take discipline and determination? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Is the wisdom gained worth as much as gold and silver? It is worth much more!  Sadly, convincing others of that truth is not easy. Even though (as the western church) we say we are christians, where we we prioritize our time paints a much different picture. Statistically we are spending 40+ hours a week watching TV (and that doesn't include the time spent on the web, playing video games, reading novels, sports, etc...). Jesus takes a back seat to our other priorities. Where our time and money is... there is where our hearts are.

We want our children to grow up with the mind of Christ, with a insatiable love for the Word of God, with a love FOR God which translates into habitually spending time with Him, meditating on and memorizing His word. We want them to see the world how God sees it, to love people how Christ loves people, and to humbly serve Him with their lives. We want them to know about and study the great minds and missionaries of the past (Baxter, Bunyan, Bradford, and the puritans, Edwards, Calvin, Waldo, McCheyne, Murray, Augustine, Brother Andrew, Brother Yun, Mueller, and countless more). We want to teach them to work hard, study hard, and to be men and women of virtue. We want to pass the truths of the faith on to them through a lifestyle of discipleship which is what we see illustrated in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Home schooling Discipleship allows us to pour our time into our children, molding them, training them, teaching them, and demonstrating the love of Christ to them.

Do we struggle and fail? Epically and every day. We constantly have to repent and seek forgiveness from our children and our Lord as He sheds light on our shortcomings. We constantly "examine ourselves" to make sure we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). But is that an excuse to give up? No. Is it hard? Yes. Is it exhausting? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes! Do we have it all figured out? No we do not. With much prayer we seek to know how to raise our children in this manner as we plow through this unbroken ground hoping to pave a family legacy for generations to come. We read books and follow blogs by others who had this vision. We seek other families and listen to teachings from Godly men who are leading their families, pouring into their children, and washing their wives with the water of the word. But we also thank God for the resources that are available to us. Especially, because in the eyes of this culture (and EVEN in the eyes of the typical western church) we are extremists who "take the Word too far.."  Our "friends", family members, acquaintances, and even those within the typical church see us as that family: You know, the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers who eat weird, take the Bible too seriously, have a ba-jillion kids, reject dating and encourage courtship, make-people-want-to-sin, etc... you know.... we are THAT family. So to have a community of believers who have the same vision is invaluable!

But while we are serious about God's Word and giving them a Biblical worldview, it does not mean that it is a "dry" and super-serious undertaking that bores our kids to death... quite the opposite. There is so much wonderful, biblically-founded media out there and we are always looking for more things to learn from. But finding a place to start can be overwhelming, so I wanted to share some things that have blessed our family time so far this year! We are fortunate to have resources available to help immerse our family in the truth of God's Word and the application of it to everyday life! These resources have been so fun the last several weeks, and while we don't do them ALL EVERYDAY, we have routinely used all of them the past couple of months.

Balancing the Sword - This is a 2 volume set that gives questions/answers for every chapter of the Bible. It is filled with awesome illustrations and quotations from a variety of Christ followers of old. We use it to ask the kids questions about their daily Bible readings from their chronological reading plan and their monthly Proverbs reading plan.

Trial and Triumph - This is a book with several biographies of people in church history. It has been a great family read-a-long spurring many great discussions. From Peter Waldo, Augustine, Anselm, Bunyan, St. Patrick, etc. there are 46 biographies and you are sure to learn a lot!

Dangerous Journey - This is a great retelling of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress with AWESOME illustrations! Another great read-a-long stirring great family discussions!

How A Spider Saved A Man's Life and 51 Other Spurgeon Stories - We love C. H. Spurgeon and this little, fun book of children's stories is just great! They are concise, interesting, and keep our kids wanting us to read several at a sitting. There are great lessons to be learned from each story.  There is also a 2nd volume by the same author that we will definitely be getting!

The Peleg Chronicles - This series of 3 books is set in post-Babel times where paganism abounds. But there are some who still believe in Noah's God! The Bible speaks of huge beasts and giant people... what would it have been like to live back then??? Join us in reading about dwarfs, dragons, giants, and the faithfulness of a few in this series. These novels are packed with scripture and action. My 10 year old and I are reading them now. My 7 year old will begin soon. We are loving this series!

How to Disciple Your Family - a 200 Year Plan - I got my husband this DVD series for Christmas and we are carefully working through it. It has been great in giving us a model for family discipleship, prayer points for our kids and generations to come, a family catechism, etc... Doug Phillips and Geoffry Botkin are the presenters on the DVD's. Both of them are great teachers and examples of fathers who are raising godly children. I would definitely recommend this series (and almost anything that Vision Forum sells)!

The Kingdom Series - Wow... what can I even say about this series to do it justice? This is a series of 6 books (we purchased the audiobook version) that is a medieval parallel to the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Be sure to click on the link to read more about the plot... but I highly recommend this! The audio (drama) books are SOOOOOO well done! Because our family tends to spend a lot of time on the road, we listen to it in the truck during our hour long trips between here and out west. The story has ALL of us captivated and sitting on the edge of our seats! It is really worth the money! I love how the audiobook allows us all to enjoy it together! Even our 2 year old begs us to turn it on!

Well, there you have it! These are the resources that are blessing us at the moment! What are your family's favorites????

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Gold Mine in Your Own Backyard!

I really thought that I would have a lot more time to blog when I decided to create one... however, it seems like maybe once a month I actually get the chance to sit down and type. But, several times a week I find myself blogging in my head.... those blogs just never seem to make it to my fingers! However, I have been meaning to share about this topic for a couple of months now... Your local thrift store!

Yes.... this is probably OLD news to most people. And NO, I am not a "name brand" snob who only shops at Gap, The Children's Place, Old Navy, Dillards, etc...(In fact, my favorite things are hand-me-downs!)  But I haven't until recently made it a habit to make it to our local thrift store. In fact, I have lived here for nearly 13 years and my first time frequenting it was 2 months ago.  Why? I suppose that it is because I heard some rumors about it 13 years ago and it tainted my expectations of the store and I never revisited the thought of going there.

Well, I could not have been more wrong in not shopping at the thrift store. It is a GOLD MINE! It is very well organized, they are very picky about the clothing items that they choose to sell, the volunteers are great, the prices are great, and they even have great sales!

So what kind of treasures have I found? First and foremost: kids' clothes (especially blue jeans). Just a side note here... I'm not sure how a kid is able to actually outgrow a pair of jeans without getting a hole in the knee... I don't know that I have ever had that happen... and if it ever did, the next kid to inherit the jeans would certainly "do them in"... So blue jeans are a constant need in our family. If I have to pay full price for a new pair of jeans, then the holes in the knees really don't bother me. But if I can get a pair for $1.50 or less, then SOLD!  So, my favorite thing to browse through is kids' clothes....  But that is not all!!!

I recently have been wanting a few long denim skirts (A-line and tiered), but I have been too cheap to buy any online at $25-60 each. My first trip to the thrift shop yielded me FOUR long, denim skirts all in my size... 3 were A-line and one was tiered!!!! And the price? Less than $8 for all four of them (Gap, Maurices, and Lands End were the brands).  Then, we were in the need of 2 pairs of snow pants for our growing kids.... I actually could have gotten by with one, but my 4 year old son really didn't want to wear the pink pair that was passed down to him from big sister... So, back to the thrift store I went and I found just what I needed. And even better, it was "bag" day where a bag full of clothes costs only $3. I have also gotten 2 down vests (Lands End and Cabelas), a pair of insulated work bibs for my 10 year old, a pair of Keen mary jane shoes, a bread machine for my mom ($2.50), a RED crock pot that is perfect for overnight oatmeal (my recipe eliminates the last 4 ingredients of hers... we sweeten the next morning with raw honey), a like-new pair of camo waterproof, insulated, hunting boots, gallon and 1/2 gallon jars, drinking glasses, etc... In fact, my husband has never been there and it is his new favorite store!

OK, I'll stop going on and on about my finds right now.... but in case I'm not the ONLY one who is fairly new to the thrift store shopping experience, I wanted to give a few hints on what you might need that your thrift store "probably" has... Coffee pot carafes... Haven't you ever broken one? and when you went to Walmart to replace it, the carafe was more expensive than a whole new coffee maker??? Try looking at a thrift store instead! Our local store has a whole basket full of various carafes just waiting for a new home. What about soccer shoes for your kids? Instead of buying a brand new pair for the 6 week season, you might find a whole selection of shoes that were only used for 6 weeks the year before! And what about kids' dress shoes? I can't tell you how many times I have bought new black dress shoes for my oldest's piano concert and they were only worn one time (because ALL of his other dress clothes are earth tones which doesn't necessitate a pair of black shoes). Well, judging by the selection of black dress shoes, I'm guessing other moms have done the exact same thing! Other barely worn things that tend to abundantly find their way to the thrift shop are: snow clothes, holiday items, vases, glass ware, glass tea trays, dress clothes, small appliances, special occasion shoes (snow boots, dress shoes, soccer shoes, etc), purses, wallets, duffel bags, yarn, sheets, material, etc...

I don't want to down play Goodwill stores because some of them are very nice and I have found a lot of good things there too. Our local Goodwill is also great, but honestly, their prices are higher than our local thrift store, and they aren't as picky as to what they sell. That means that I have to "dig" harder to find clothes in good condition than I do at the thrift store. But if Goodwill is all you have, by all means go treasure hunting there... but don't discount your local thrift shop just because they don't have the advertising dollars.

Well, there you have it, my two cents worth on thrift store shopping! What is your favorite thrift store find????