Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. Psalm 125:1-2

I just want to encourage you today.

Don’t give up. Be steadfast like the mountains.

Continue to persevere in doing good, serving The Lord, and following His ways.

I know there are times when the world or even friends and family will persecute you for your stance or actions in the name of The Lord, but let it discourage you.

Don’t be shaken.

Continue to trust in The Lord.

Our Father will surround you with His strength, presence, protection, and blessings. He is all you need.

The Supplier of our Needs

Good ole Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “need” as “a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism”. The KJV Dictionary states the Bible defines “need” as “to compel To want; to lack; to require, as supply or relief.” There is such a sense of urgency in the KJV definition, don’t you think? I can totally relate to the Biblical definition of “need”.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with needing a lot of relief. I’ve been trying to balance all of my duties as a wife, mom of 4, homeschooler, church volunteer, all while trying to help my family financially through this blog and our family business, Treasured Sparrow Designs. It’s much more than one can bear, and there are days when I am simply exhausted. In fact, I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about not posting more on this blog…

However, I have a Father who knows my need and is the Provider of my needs or relief just as He provides for the birds of the air, lilies of the field, and bees of the garden. If He carries them, how much more will He carry me. In fact, He has lifted me today through His Word and I’m forever grateful for this relief:

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Matthew 6:32-33 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 40:17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

Psalm 23:1 A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Proverbs 10:3 he Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Growing up, my sweet grandmama had a pressure cooker. She cooked quite a bit of meals in it, but my favorite was her fried chicken. My mouth is watering just thinking about that chicken–juice on the inside, crispy on the outside… Sorry, I’m getting a little distracted by the memory.

Unfortunately, today’s pressure cookers don’t fry chicken like the old ones, but they are much safer. We recently acquired a Cuisinart Pressure Cooker. I know lots of folks who have an Instant Pot. I think the Instant Pot is the more popular brand, but I from what I understand they are about the same.

We’ve made several recipes like cubed steak, whole frozen chickens (cooked in about half the time it takes to roast a fresh one), dried beans, brown rice, chicken and rice, and more. I think my favorite recipe right now is this spaghetti squash recipe I’m sharing below.

I love that pressure cooking shaves so very much time off of my cooking tasks. I’m always looking for ways to lighten my load and give more time to my family. Pressure cooking has been such a lifesaver for us. In fact, my husband is so intrigued by it that there have been many times when we’ve both had something on our evening schedule, and he has come home, thrown ingredients into the pressure cooker, and prepared dinner for us. I think it’s a bit of a Tim Taylor–MORE POWER grunting mentality, but that’s okay…whatever gets it done!

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Squash

 

  • Spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup water

Place rack and 1 cup of water in pressure cooker. Cut spaghetti squash in half and remove seeds. (You can remove seeds after cooking, but it’s much easier before. I forgot on to do it beforehand on this particular day.) Place it in pressure cooker. Using high pressure, cook for 8 minutes on high pressure and use quick pressure release.

Using a fork, scoop out squash, which fluffs out into strands like spaghetti noodles. Serve with your favorite meats and sauces.

Don’t Fall Into the Trap!

This is an interesting looking trap isn’t it? It’s brightly colored, ginormous, and even though is clearly a trap, it looks almost like a huge toy on a playground. No matter how interesting it looks, it is still a trap. If something sets it off, it is going to get crushed.

The enemy is constantly trying to tempt us with fun and intriguing things. Lately, he’s been trying to lure me into his trap. He’s been trying to get me to give up and give in. There are days, when I’m so weary of doing what is good and right that I am almost willing to fall face first into that trap.

I am tired, exhausted, burned out, weary of being fighting for what is right…of being peculiar. It seems like the influence of the world is constantly pulling at my family and friends. The enemy is using the pull of popular culture and society to try to pull me and my loved ones down into the trap.

As a parent, I set rules and boundaries for my family to keep them grounded in God’s word and family values. However, there is the constant pull from television, radio, magazines, books, and other people who contradict those values. There is even the pull from within to be complacent or lazy by spending more time watching tv than reading the Bible. Electronic devices are addictive and have more temptations than we can possibly count.

Televisions and devices can be turned off, unplugged, or even taken away to prevent temptations. Relationships are another story. Well meaning friends and family just don’t understand why I don’t want my television on 24/7. They think we are being too conservative or sticks-in-the-mud for not allowing our children to watch popular television shows. They say everyone watches it. It’s just things they see every day on the street. What’s the difference? They don’t understand why we set time limits and curfews on devices.

First of all, just because things happen in our world every day does not mean we should inundate our children with those activities. We shouldn’t desensitize them to them, making them believe that the immoral and reprehensible are the norm. Think about it–murders happen out on the street every day, but we don’t sit our children down on the street corner in front of criminal activity with a bag of popcorn and a soda and call it family entertainment. That’s essentially what we are doing every single time we turn on the boob tube.

We are called to be a peculiar people. We are NOT called to be like everyone else, to fit in, to become the social norm. This is, however, what the world will tell you. If you are like me, you struggle for so long pulling toward God in this tug of war against the enemy. He pulls so hard and for so long and he even sends those closest to you to roll their eyes, argue, and entice you to give up the fight and fall into the trap.

I have to be honest with you. I am soooo tired of pulling on the rope trying to keep my loved ones on God’s side, and I am sure you are too. BUT as The Lord has reminded me lately a little hard work and dirt from digging in my heels is a small price to pay compared to falling into the trap, especially when I think about the fact that my loved ones will fall into the trap with me.

We have got to stay diligent and consistent. The cost of giving up is too great. I just want to encourage you today to remain godly “peculiar”. Don’t let the enemy make you feel like you are alone in the fight. You aren’t alone. There are so many of us out there who are freakishly conservative as the world may call us.

We are called by God to be a peculiar people–peculiar in how we are entertained, peculiar in how we treat and respect others, peculiar in our speech, thoughts, and actions, peculiar in how we wisely we spend our time. The enemy wants us to believe being peculiar is strange, weird, and complicated. Guess what? It is all of those things, but at stake is the eternal destination of ourselves and our loved ones. There should be no question as to where we stand. Hang in there. Do not fall into the fight. You are not alone. Keep moving closer to God.

Titus 2:14 “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”

Deuteronomy 12:6 “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth”

1 John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world”

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

The Task of Pruning our Beloved Tree

We have a massive River Birch tree in our front yard. It is gorgeous, provides much needed shade, and has been home to many precious families of birds over the years. Unfortunately, it grows so rapidly and wildly that it is taking over our yard and our home. It was planted too close to our home by the builders when they built our home 15 years ago. It has grown so quickly that it is taller than our two story home and almost half as wide as our home and attached garage. It is taking over our yard and home, and we aren’t sure what to do about it. 

Continue reading at our contributor post on Raising Homemakers here.

What is Homeschooling? Understanding and Dispelling the Myths

Most of society views homeschooling as a relatively new and peculiar practice. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling is not new. It has been around almost since the beginning of time. As long as we have had homes, homeschooling has been in existence. As far as the idea that it is unusual, that is probably true. These days we conform to society in so very many ways. Homeschooling is definitely unconventional by today’s worldly standards.

I have been hearing an overabundance of homeschooling myths being spoken or expressed lately. I thought I’d address those in this post today with the hopes of informing those who don’t understand homeschooling as well as those who have some unenlightened theories about the homeschooling movement.

Myth: Homeschoolers are kept at home all day with no exposure to the outside world.
TRUTH: Homeschoolers have many outlets outside of the home. We have just as many activities, if not more, than public school students. Depending on their situation and need, homeschoolers go to the library, bank, stores, church, hair salon, concerts, sporting events, plays, music classes, and more. Homechoolers choose not to attend public school, ONE PLACE, and for some reason folks believe they don’t go anywhere at all. How do they think we worship, get our food, books, clothes, etc.? Contrary to popular belief, we do live and function in society. We just choose to teach our children differently. Unfortunately, the myth that we don’t leave our home perpetuates another myth, and probably the most popular falsehood about homeschooling…

Myth: Homeschoolers are unsocialized.
TRUTH: Homeschoolers are some of the most “socialized” and respectftul people on the planet.  You have to know the true definition of “socialize”. Many people believe socialization is conformity and fitting in, popularity, being like everyone else. That is not what socialization is, thank goodness! The definition of socialize is: to make fit for life in companionship with others. In other words to learn manners, respect, and skills to be a productive and beneficial member of society. Children were never meant to learn true social skills through the public school setting. Think about it. How can a group of children all the same age teach each other social skills that they have not come of age to learn? I don’t necessarily want my children learning their manners from strangers because I don’t know what their social skills are, and they probably aren’t any more than what my children might know because they are the same age. They are all generally on the same level.

The first and main place children learn social skills is their parents and home. Then they are to practice those skills in public settings, but public school is only one of a million settings wherein they can practice. In fact, the thought that public school is a “social setting” is actually a distraction from the academics that are supposed to be taught there.

Unfortunately, most parents these days don’t teach their kids respect and manners. I know many public school teachers who are fed up with the lack of respect in the classroom and the fact that they are expected to now not only cover academics, but also deal with social and behavioral issues. Teachers were never meant to parent or baby sit their public school students. They were meant to teach academics. That’s not to say they weren’t meant to support and care for children, but they weren’t meant to raise our children and that’s how most parents treat school these days. 

I have one child who is very talkative and outgoing, always has been. I have one who is talkative once she warms up to you. I have one child who was deathly shy, and now she is one of the most talkative and outgoing of the bunch. I have one who is quiet and reserved, who likes to sit back and take everything in, and it is a struggle sometimes to get them to share or express anything. None of these behaviors are a result of homeschooling. They are a result of the personality with which they were created. I know many folks who believe my shy, reserved child is this way because we homeschool, but that’s just not true. One of my other children was the same way until she became a certain age and all of the ways we allowed and encouraged her to express herself began to blossom. Now she is very different, not better because there was nothign “wrong” with her to begin with), but she is different than she was before. God used her gentle, shy ways then, and He’s using her outspoken ways now. Don’t assume because a homeschooler is shy or reserved that they are not “socialized”. My children are respectful. They know when to be loud and boisterous, and when to sit still and listen respectfully when someone is talking. Society thinks they are like “robots” or that they are peculiar because they don’t speak out of turn or talk when a speaker is talking, or they don’t run around tables at a restaurant or up and down the aisles at the movie theater. No it’s the polar opposite. They are socialized and have been taught to be respectful of others before themselves.

As a homeschooler I can attest to the fact that we have way too many opportunities to practice social skills. In fact sometimes it is hard to balance all of the social activities with academics. We are members of a homeschool support group. We have lego clubs, debate, yearbook, community volunteer service, robotics, chess, book clubs, language clubs, Bible studies, field trips, archery clubs, public speaking, sports, band, and the list goes on and on… And our social activities are in multiple settings with multiple types of people, not just staring at the same 4 walls in a classroom with the same 30 kids day in and day out. They are exposed to different manners and ideas. Some align with those in our home, some do not, and that gives us opportunity for lots of discussions and life lessons on what is acceptable and Christ-like. However, my children are not surrounded and inundated with teachings contrary to our home. I would never put my child in that situation, because children are sponges. They absorb behavior and influences. I am their parent and I have a right to decide what influences my child. I don’t want to put them in an environment that competes with what we are teaching at home from a spiritual/biblical perspective. They spend a lot more time in a classroom than they do their waking hours at home. It makes absolutely no sense to believe that a few hours at home will change what they have absorbed all day long in a different setting. God warns us about this: 

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

I John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires will pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Myth: Homeschoolers have no friends.
TRUTH: I can’t believe I am even going to address this one, but here goes: YES WE HAVE FRIENDS! In fact, most traditional homeschoolers don’t get caught up in the drama and the social clique types of behaviors in society, although some do when thrown into those types of environments on a regular basis. That tends to be human nature, but most don’t. Since we are exposed to so many different settings, and since homeschoolers are a diverse group of people, we tend to have all sorts of friends. However, having lots of friends is not the goal in life. Lifelong, tight, close, true friends are the ones we look for. God places those in our lives and they are the ones who care about us, help and support us on our homeschooling journey, and have similar values. We hold each other accountable, pray for one another, and they are the first ones there to help in the time of need. Public school is a place to make friends, but it is not the place to spend time hanging out with your friends all day. School is for education. So we get together with our friends outside of our school day just like everyone else. I have to admit that we are just like everyone else in that we don’t feel like we spend enough time with our friends, but it’s not because we homeschool. It’s because we live life.

Myth: Homeschooling is school textbook work at home.
TRUTH: WRONG! Homeschooling is you as a parent being able to exercise your right to choose what your child is taught, how it’s taught, when it is taught. It is your right and responsibility to decide how they are influenced and who is shaping their character. We use a faith-based curriculum that shows God’s influence in every subject. God shouldn’t be compartmentalized, but should be integrated in all aspects of our lives. We teach a Biblical worldview. We also teach about other cultures and religions, but in the proper perspective so our children know what they believe, why they believe it, they receive education in apologetics.

It’s about tailoring your child’s education to their learning style. It is not a one-size-fits-all education. I have four children and all four of them have different learning styles. They would not thrive or learn if I tried to push them into a box in which they do not fit. Textbook work is done in our home, but for most of us it is our least favorite, so we get to engage in lots of object lessons and hands-on activities wherein the children can actually experience what they are learning and not just read about it. This helps them understand and retain what they are learning.

Virtual schools have a purpose, but you have to be careful what you choose. Free programs are typically run by the public school system. They are controlled by the govt and therefore are not considered to be “homeschools”, but are “public school at home”. That means that you do not get to choose what is being taught. However there are some virtual schools that are run by homeschool curriculum publishers that allow you to choose the scope of education, those would be considered online homeschool programs.

There are homeschool co-ops you can join where parents join based on the scope of education. Parents volunteer to teach each other’s children and they meet varying amounts during the week. We are pretty traditional so we haven’t joined a co-op but it works for many families. However, all of my children have taken Sunday School classes, creative writing classes, and science classes in a group classroom setting. They have also taken standardized testing in a group setting. There are pros like a classroom setting, accountability from a teacher rather than a parent, and if a parent isn’t strong in a subject they may feel better having someone else teach it.
There are also cons, such as losing some of the parental rights/control of your child’s education, cost, social issues. I think some of the social issues come into play because many times children are then placed in a situation much like a public school setting where they join cliques, become absorbed in popularity, pop culture, dress, etc. They aren’t necessarily learning the same academic skills as public school, but it can lead to some of the derogatory social skills you don’t want them to learn.

Myth: Homeschoolers get to take it easy and do whatever they want all day.
TRUTH: I roll over laughing at this one. Homeschooling is hard work. Many people think it’s a chance to be lazy, but it’s just the opposite. Now, for most states it is very flexible schedule-wise to homeschool if you don’t use the public school at home options because you can set your daily and yearly schedule to your own needs as long as you teach for the required amount of days. However, it’s not a time to be undisciplined or you’ll spend time catching up or get behind. It’s also more strenuous on a homeschooler. For instance, in our state a homeschool honors course is more rigorous and requires more work than a public school honors course. As homeschoolers we are required to do more. It’s not really fair, but that’s ok because in the long run we benefit.

Myth: Homeschooling is a one-sided, biased education.
TRUTH: As I mentioned before, we inform our children of other cultures, religions, and lifestyles within society. However, we believe in an absolute truth. We know that there is right and wrong, good and evil in this world. We teach our children the truth about what to believe, why we don’t believe certain things, and how to respect and tolerate, but not absorb and accept the lies and wrongs of society. In my experience being a public school graduate, I received a one-sided, biased education. I am giving my children a much more well-rounded and informed education.

Myth: Homeschoolers are restricted when it comes to opportunities offered to them after graduation.
TRUTH: Colleges are vigorously recruiting homeschoolers these days, and we know tons of businesses that are seeking homeschoolers for employment. Businesses and colleges have seen that homeschoolers overcome odds and hold values that society doesn’t believe in or afford any more. We have good work ethics, respectful social skills, know how to beat the odds, endure and overcome much scrutinity from society, which makes us strong and independent. 

I hope this helps bring some understanding to the purposes behind homeschooling and dispels some of the myths that surround it. Homeschooling is truly a way of life and a path our family is grateful for every single day. We thank God that He honors us every day with the blessing of homeschooling!