Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - More than a Review - A Miracle!

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

God truly does work in mysterious ways. Ways that are hard for us to figure out and understand. However, His ways are always the best ways and, when He reveals Himself it is always astonishing.

Before I explain what I am talking about, let me give you some background. I was first introduced to Todd Wilson and The Familyman ministries a few years ago when I was nominated for the Homeschool Dad Blog of the Year. Back then we were able to keep track of how many votes each nominated blog received. As time went by I found that there was another Homeschool Dad blog that had the audacity of giving me a run for my money! Yep! You guessed it! It was Todd Wilson's Familyman blog! I couldn't believe that another blogger would actually think that their blog was better than mine! As you can probably (and hopefully) tell, I am just joking. The Familyman blog is a fantastic blog and there really was no rivalry. I can't remember who won that year. I know I one a year or two and I think his blog did as well. It really doesn't matter. I've kept track of Todd Wilson throughout the years and have watched his ministry grow into a fantastic resource for Christian dad's. When I found out that we were going to get to review The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection. I was thrilled we received a CD of one of the stories and also were sent Digital Downloads of all of the stories.

Now, back to explaining my first paragraph. As many of you know, my wife and I are full time missionaries that work with low income families, children and youth. There is one area where I do a weekly Bible study with the adults. It is a run down trailer park that would rival the pictures of any run down trailer park that you could find. Every Tuesday I trek to "Grandma's" trailer, sit in her living room and study and pray with 5 or 6 other adults, usually relatives of hers that live in the park. Each week I pray that God would give me just the thing that those people need to hear that week but on one recent week I just couldn't get a grip on what I was to do with at the Bible study. God seemed to be silent. It was Tuesday afternoon and I still didn't have a thing. As I was praying God spoke clearly and told me that He didn't want me to say anything. I was to play one or two of Todd Wilson's Christmas Treasury stories for them. Of course, as often happens, I laughed and told God that He was obviously joking. This was the middle of October! You don't want me to play a Christmas story for them do you? However, my argument with God was to no avail. He gave me nothing else and the thought of playing a couple of the Christmas story's was stuck in my head.

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

As I was still pondering all of this, "Grandma" calls. She had taken the two hour trip to Nashville to a doctor's appointment and wanted to tell me the results. I asked if she still wanted me to come over that evening. Surely she was too tired. She would have none of it! Of course I was to come over! I should know better than that!. So, a little while later, I picked up my phone (on which all of the stories were downloaded) and headed over to the trailer park. When I walked into Grandma's run down trailer I was astonished! Instead of the usual five or six people there were 16 adults, children and teens crowded into her small living room! They had saved one chair for me but other than that it was standing room only. I sat down, greeted everyone, explained what I was going to do, prayed and pressed the button. I intended to play Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest but, once again, God had other plans. It was not the Harold Grubbs story that came on, although I am sure that was the link I had pressed. Instead it was Gladys Remembers Christmas.

Gladys Remembers Christmas is a story about a crotchety elderly lady who goes to clean out her even more elderly fathers house after he was put into a nursing home. Gladys hates a lot of things. She hates her name, she hates non-punctual and disorganized people, and she especially hates Christmas. She has hated Christmas ever since her mother died when she was six. After working until the evening she remembers that her father had requested that she go to the attic to find an old green box and bring it to him. Finally after much searching she finds the box, opens it, and miracles begin to happen. The house begins to smell of fresh baked cookies; the rooms are transformed back to the way that they were 60 years ago; and, Gladys hears a sweet familiar voice that she hadn't heard since she was a young girl.

I won't spoil it and tell you what happens next, but, as we all listened to the story that was expertly told by the popular story teller Jim Hodges, I looked around the room. I looked over at one dear lady who had had a very rough life. Tears were running down her cheeks. I watched a 14 year old, rough around the edges, boy's eyes begin to soften as he sat transfixed. I saw a husband put his arm around the shoulders of his wife and squeeze. The same husband and wife that argued and fussed with each other daily. I glanced at Grandma and saw her holding her face in her hands trying to hide her tears. Miracles weren't just happening in the story, but miracles were happening in that room as well. When the story was over and I was about to pray a closing prayer, they all looked at me and practically begged to listen to another story. So I sat back down and, this time, was able to play Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest. It produced equal results as the story of Gladys.

As you can tell, I was astounded at the reaction that these stories had on my little group of Bible study folks. Why? I don't know. I shouldn't have been. From the first story that I listened to - Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster - I was hooked. It and, all of the stories that I listened to produced similar emotions in me as they did to my special friends in the trailer park. Todd Wilson is a masterful story writer who wrote these good, old-fashioned, wholesome, Christmas stories and partnered with Jim Hodges to masterfully tell the stories. I found myself in dismay with Jason as he goes in search for a Christmas that seemed to all of a sudden disappear in Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster. I cried and cheered with Cootie McKay in Cootie McKay's Nativity. All of the stories in this collection are fantastic including the stories that I haven't talked about - The Stranger and The Bishop's Dream.

I didn't tell you that at the end of the night every family asked me if I could get them copies of all of the stories to listen to so I guess Todd Wilson and The Familyman are going to be busy packing an order for me in the next month or so.

To find out more about The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection and the rest of the products that The Familyman has to offer, just click on any one of the highlighted links above or on any of the social media links below. To find what other members of The Homeschool Crew thought just click on the banner below. Happy Listening!

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Friday, October 14, 2016

The Online Christian Filmmakers Academy - A Homeschool Review Crew Review!

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}

My kids are really creative (if I must say so myself) but often I don't give them a chance to show their creativity. I know that one of the things that they have often talked about, and two have started to do, is to write a book. They often dream of turning the book that they are writing into a movie. However, we have often  wondered what it would be like to make a movie but had no idea where to begin or thought that it would be even impossible to accomplish? We even thought about making movies of just our every day crazy family life but didn't know the first thing about how to do it. 

Recently, through the Homeschool Review Crew, we were given 12 months of access to the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy from Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc. and found out that making a quality movie as a family was indeed possible!In this day and age of independently made films becoming more popular, writing and producing a film is becoming less of a dream and more of a reality. More individuals and families are now successfully producing movies regularly.

The Online Christian Filmmakers Academy teaches you everything you need to create your own movie from start to finish. Ken and Zack Lawrence have been operating the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp since 2007 and, in 2012, transferred the material taught there to this online course.

The six categories of the course include:

  • Introduction
  • Module One - The Camera
  • Module Two - Cinematography
  • Module Three - Sound
  • Module Four - Pre-Production
  • Module Five - Production
  • Bonuses
Each module contains 5-10 lessons along with a quiz that covers everything to do with the filmmaking process including writing a screenplay, cameras, lighting, putting together a team, filming and directing the movie. Everything you can think of is covered in short but information filled videos.

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}

Now, before I go any further, let me tell you that each of these modules is very detailed! John Allen is the one who is working his way through this course, but I watched some of the videos as well to get a feel for it. When they say you will learn everything about a certain topic they are correct! I watched several of the Module One - The Camera videos and they talked about every part of the camera. There were two full lessons that talked just about lenses. Now, when I tell you that you will learn a lot, I mean it, however, this isn't going to be like a university class. Ken and Zack have a way of putting a lot of information into short and succinct videos but making it easy to understand and fun to learn about. I loved the videos and John Allen did as well. Here is what John Allen thinks about the course so far:

"I thought it was really cool and informative. It teaches you about the camera and video making itself. it also gives you a bit of the background of video making. The information was easy to understand and the videos were short but had a lot of information.The instructors were really neat, Christian people. They knew a lot and knew what they were doing. They gave all of the glory to God."

He is a man of not many words and, he was half asleep since he's been working many hours! But I think you can figure out that he is really enjoying it! 

I am thinking about allowing my two youngest to go through this course as well. I can envision a lot of great homeschooling involved. Script writing, acting, speech . . . the possibilities are endless!

As you can see, we are really impressed with  the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy and we think you will as well. Find out more about the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy by clicking on one of the highlighted links above or by checking out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking on the banner below. I am also going to begin giving social media links to the products and companies that I review. You can find those below as well. Finally, the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy has generously provided a coupon for $100 off of the purchasing price for this great course. Just use the coupon code FALLCREW16 when checking out. This coupon code expires November 30. This would be a great Christmas gift for one of your aspiring filmmakers! Happy Filmmaking!

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Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}
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Friday, October 7, 2016

Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert - A Homeschool Review Crew Review

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
Every once in a while I like to reveal little known secrets about myself. Well, this review of the great resource Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert from Everyday Education, LLC actually combines two of my favorite things. One that I'm pretty sure most of my readers already know about and the other probably not.

Most of you know that I love reading the Bible and spending time with the Lord. As I read more and more of God's Word I love it even more. I will spend as much as three hours a day devoting and praying.

However, what a lot of you may not realize is that I love poetry. No, I'm not one to go to the park, sit under a tree and read poetry aloud or something like that, but I still love poetry. I think it's because of the great teaching I had in high school. I remember one class where we spent a good part of a semester reading great poets and learning how to write poetry. I loved it and still pick up books to read some of my favorite poets. 

So, when the opportunity came to review Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert I jumped at the chance. You see, I found out when doing my research, this book isn't just about his poetry, it is actually a devotional book that uses his poetry and combines it with great Biblical truths. It seemed like a great match for me and, thankfully, we were invited to use it ourselves and not just with our kids if we wanted, so I decided to do this review on my own.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

I'm not sure if I had ever heard of George Herbert or not, at least I don't recall reading his poetry, but the more I have used this devotional the more I am liking him and his work. He was a Christian poet and his poems, at least the ones in the downloaded ebook that I received, are full of great Biblical themes and meaning. The themes that are touched upon in Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert are:

Looking Back, Moving Forward
Letting Go
Depending on God

Special Blessings of the Church
and more

In each section, there are several poems that represent each theme. 

George Herbert is very deep and his poems can be sometimes difficult to understand and follow at first glance, but with the help of this great book I am beginning to learn to not only understand his work but to apply it to my Christian living as well.

I love how the author, Joseph L. Womack has organized this devotional. For each poem there are five steps:

The Big Picture
The Parts of the Picture
The Parts of the Picture Come Together
Scriptures for Further Reflection

After reading the poem, the author gives us The Big Picture. The Big Picture is just a basic overview of the poem, what it is about and how it applies to God's Word. He then breaks the poem into parts and explains each stanza in "The Parts of the Picture". After breaking it down, he puts them back together once again to talk about how it fits all together. In he Reflections section, there are questions asked for us to reflect on what the poem is saying and how it applies to our Christian walk. Finally, the author supplies several scriptures if we want to explore the topic even more. It's all one complete package and works wonderfully. It is suggested that you take about a week per poem to work through each section.

Lest you think that this is all there is to this wonderful devotional, let me explain that there is much more. Although this isn't a complete poetry course, it is designed to help students understand poetry and how to analyze poetry. The method that the author uses to break down each poem can be used to analyze and learn from other poets and their writings.

As I said above, this is all one big package and it is awesome. I plan on turning to this resource over and over again in my Christian walk. To find out more about Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert from Everyday Education, LLC just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this item plus other items from Everyday Education, LLC and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Devoting!

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Beginning to Think About Christmas? Check out this Blast from the Past!

Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas? If you are one of those people that like to shop early and get things done then think about this great item that we reviewed and loved a few years ago. This may be a blast from the past but it is still a much loved toy today!


It never ceases to amaze me how God places things in our life, right when we need them. life is never easy in a household that has one child is autistic and another child that we think is autistic. Our teenage son, John Allen, the only one of our three children that isn't on the autism spectrum, often seems to get  "the short end of the stick". Being a teenager in and of itself is difficult without having two disabled brothers. John Allen's wishes and desires often have to Be put on the back burner because of therapies, doctor's appointments, or other things that pertain to his two younger brothers.. There is often resentment and contention in the ranks. Sarah and I are always looking for things and ways that promote unity in our household.. When we received a Toydle Toy Fort to review for the TOS Homeschool Crew, we had no idea what a blessing it would be.

I gave a brief blip about the Toydle Toy Fort a few weeks ago. You can find that  informational review  by clicking here. Everything that I said there is true. Toydle Toy Forts really are:

  • Well made in America

  • Sturdily made of quality PVC piping.

  • Easy to put up.

  • Easy to take down and store away.

  • Creative.

  • Educational

  • Guaranteed

  • Just plain fun.

but for us the Toydle Toy Fort was much more. It was something that brought our three boys together. While building the Toydle Toy Fort they learned to:

  • Work together.

  • Plan together.

  • Listen to each other's ideas.

  • Cooperate with one another.

  • Be creative together.

  • Have fun together.

  • Enjoy something other than video games.

  • Get along with one another.

Sarah and I looked on in amazement as these things were occurring. While we watched, we also learned something about each of our three sons. When given the chance. John Allen can be a good leader. Joshua is a fantastic organizer.  Jacob is fearless and thinks that he can do anything that is two big brothers can do. take a look at some of the pictures that I took while the construction was going on. I think you'll see what I mean.

Now, I'm not saying that everything has been hunky-dory since we received our Toydle Toy Fort, but it has shown us that there is hope. I'm also not saying that the same reaction will occur in every family.  But I do know one thing – no matter what your kids will have fun.. The Toydle Toy Fort has been one of the best items that we have ever reviewed.  I would recommend it for any family. It's easy to use. Really, it reminds me of a giant set of Tinker Toys but much sturdier and much better. And, one of the best things is, that it is fully guaranteed. If one of the PVC  pipes happens to break they'll replace it for free. If you happen to leave when of the connector blocks out in the rain, don't worry about it, it's guaranteed as well. As I mentioned in my previous review, that Toydle company was started by a man named Robert Brownfield. After he brought a toy home for his son and it broke 5 min. after his son opened it, Robert realized that there was a need for well-built toys. According to the Toydle website, all of the things that his company makes are hand cut or hand formed by American hands. I can testify that Toydle forts really are well made. As you can see in the slideshow above, after my boys made the fort, they invited all the kids do come to the mission to play in it. Even with all of that wear and tear, not a thing was broken. When we finally needed the room in the mission, the fort was easily taken down and stored away in the convenient bag that it came in. As I said before, I would recommend Toydle forts to anyone.

Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to get to the Toydle website. The forts come in two different sizes. The regular Toydle Toy Fort sells for $149 and the Big Toydle Fort sells for $229.99. Each comes with specially cut, sturdy, tubes, hand made connector blocks, clips and a handy dandy carry bag. And don't forget, everything is unconditionally guaranteed! Check them out, you won't be disappointed. Other folks from the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed Toydle Toy Forts and you can find but they had to say by clicking here. Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a Toydle Toy Fort for free in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

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What Do You Do When You are Drowning in Science!

Help! I'm surrounded in Science!

Most of you know that I am a member of the Homeschool Review Crew and I review great schoolhouse curriculum on this blog. Well, this past year I learned once again that God has a sense of humor. I had been lamenting on how I didn't have a really good science curriculum to use with my two youngest. I really didn't think that they were ready for the curriculum that I used with John Allen, my oldest. I always tried to find literature rich curriculum for him because he loved to read. However, my two youngest each have their own reading difficulties so I didn't think that they were ready for the same books I used with him. I prayed for a good science curriculum. 

Wouldn't you know it, God sent five of them to me this past year. Each time I thought "This is the one!" I was determined that was what God wanted me to use. Then the next one would come along and I would think the same thing. This past year alone I have reviewed three great physical science books and two online programs and thought they were all fantastic. Just the other day another great curriculum was offered for us to review and I am chomping at the bit to review that one as well. Of course I think it would be the greatest thing for my boys.

Please make the choice for me. Oh, I know that you can't really make the choice without seeing them, but I'm going to show you each one anyone. It would be selfish to keep all of these great programs a secret. So here they are complete with links to my reviews. 

EdTechLens Rainforest Journey is a great online program that teaches you about the rainforest. My two boys loved it and still ask about going back and working with it. They learned so much just during our review time. Here is my complete review.

Science Shepherd was another great online program. This is a Christian based program that my kids loved as well. The lessons are short but fascinating which is just what my kids need. Click here to read my full review. 

If you are a unit study person then you would love Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers. It uses stuff from around the home or that is easily obtainable to do some great experiments. I loved using it and so did the kids. Here is my full review. 

People say that the internet can be an invaluable learning tool. However, if you don't know where to look on the internet it can be a real pain. Surfing the Net Science teaches you how to use the internet to learn in a safe way. We had a lot of fun with this. Click here for my review.

Do you remember me saying that I didn't think that Joshua and Jacob were ready for the curriculum that John Allen used when he was their age? Well, how wrong I was. The very first book we used with John Allen was Exploring Creation through Astronomy by Apologia. Well, when I had the chance to review the second edition of this great book I jumped at the chance but wondered how my two youngest would do. They loved it! Here is the link to my review of this great new edition.

So, there you have it. What is a homeschooler to do when there is so much great stuff out there for your kids to use? I can't make up my mind! Oh, and that new science review that I may be doing? Well, since I haven't even been chosen yet for it then I can't tell you a lot about it yet. But when I do, I will let you know. I'm sure I will have my hair pulled out by then trying to decide between all of these outstanding choices!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Awesome Fantastic Heirloom Audio Production of The Cat of Bubastes - A Homeschool Review Crew Review!

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

I am sitting here looking at a 20 year old son with a huge grin on his face. He's had it on his face for almost two hours. I am also looking at a 10 year old active boy who has been sitting still with rapt attention for that same amount of time. It's one of our favorite all time activities and we absolutely love it! We are listening to another fantastic edition of The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty by Heirloom Audio Productions!

We have had the great pleasure of reviewing many of these great audio adventures and the ones that we haven't received to review we have bought - yes, they are that good! The newest one, that just came out, is The Cat of Bubastes

Now usually my oldest, John Allen, loves these productions, but this one is a little more special to him. You see, he is a big G.A. Henty fan, and the very first G.A. Henty book that he read was . . . you guessed it . . . The Cat of Bubastes. I think because it was his first, it has always been his favorite. Because of homeschooling all of my kids have had the great pleasure of either reading or having read to them some absolutely fantastic books. I will often ask the kids to rate their top ten favorite books that they have read or listened to. It fluctuates often, but The Cat of Bubastes is always in John Allen's top ten. That is why he has had a huge grin on his face the entire time he has been listening. Since the very first G.A. Henty audio came out from Heirloom Audio Productions, he has excitedly wondered when they were going to do The Cat of Bubastes. He even asked me to write to encourage them to adapt it next. When I told him that we were, indeed, going to get to review The Cat of Bubastes he was as excited as I think I have ever seen him and, yes, he is 20 years old.

As I mentioned above, we have had the great pleasure of listening to every single one of The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty and, if you have read any of my reviews about them before, you will know that they are all absolutely fantastic. I remember the first one that we ever listened to on one of our frequent ministry trips. We put the disc in our van's CD player and for over two hours the van was absolutely quite! The boys (as well as Sarah and I) were transfixed. It was absolutely amazing. This was at the beginning of a three week long ministry trip and I recall being so thrilled with this particular CD that we ended up ordering the next one to be shipped to one of our stops so that we could listen to it on the way home.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

We have been thrilled with them all, and, as you can probably tell, we are absolutely thrilled with The Cat of Bubastes as well. It just as good (John Allen says it's better) than the rest. It is done so well that you can literally close your eyes and see what is going on. With these productions you don't need a movie screen. The music, the all-star cast, the sound effects - they all make it easy for you to imagine and see what is going on in your head. 

This production features such actors as Brian Blessed from Star Wars, Tarzan and Robin Hood; Anthony Daniels from Star Wars; Sylvester McCoy from Dr. Who and The Hobbit; Elizabeth Counsell from The Chronicles of Narnia; Russell Boulter from Ben Hur; and John Rhys-Davies from The Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones. The original score is by John Campbell. Let me tell you, this is no half-way done amateur production. This is professionally and wonderfully done. 

What makes it even better, is that all of G.A. Henty's novels are historical but also Christian based. They bring out how God has directed history and, the producers of this series, who are Christians, allow God to guide in the production.

The Cat of Bubastes is a tale about a young prince,Amuba and his faithful protector, Jethro, who have been captured and taken to Egypt. They were given to a kind priest who worships the gods of Egypt but has been searching for a long time for something more. Through many adventures Amuba and Jethro along with their master and other faithful friends come to know who the one true God is. It is an exciting story filled with adventure and some amazing twists and turns that could only have been put together by the hand of God Himself!

Along with the great two CD audio production, we received free downloads of several things - The MP3 Version of The Cat of Bubastus; The Soundtrack of the beautiful music written by the Emmy Award winning composer John Campbell; an e-book version of the original novel of The Cat of Bubastus written by G.A. Henty; a printable cast poster; a printable Inspirational Verse poster; a study and discussion guide; a behind the scenes video; and an unlimited subscription to the Live the Adventure Letter Website and E-Newsletter.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Most of the above is self-explanatory, but let me fill you in on the great study and question guide. Since G.A. Henty's books are very historical, we use them in our homeschool quite a bit. The guides that Heirloom Audio Productions offer with their CD's are wonderful. They give background information for each audio about the time periods and events that led up to the time of the story. They also provide Listening Well (comprehension) questions for each track of the audio as well as Discussion Questions and Vocabulary Words for each track. What I like the best are the Expand Your Learning sections which talk about such things as Dung Beetles and The Diet of Egyptians. This little PDF download is fantastic!

I think that you have figured out that we love this Heirloom Audio Production of The Cat of Bubastes and all of the other productions of The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty. To find out more about this adventure and the other adventures just click on one of the highlighted links above. To find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this product just click on the banner below. Happy Listening!

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
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Life Lessons from Thumper - Loving Your Neighbor

One of the things that my dear wife Sarah frequently prays is "Lord help me to learn the lesson in the classroom and not on the field trip." She learned this in one of the many great Beth Moore studies that she has attended. What it means is that it is a lot better to learn one of God's lessons from reading the Bible or from it being passed down by a wise Christian person than learning it from experience - especially a lesson that can be painful.

I often think about that prayer and how it applies to me personally. I think of something painful that happened in the past and wish that I had learned the lesson in the classroom and not out in life. I wish that someone had told me and warned me about things before it happened. 

Sometimes I'll read things, be talking to someone, or be thinking about my life and God will impress on me that there is a life lesson in what I am reading, hearing or thinking about. God impressed on me recently that maybe it is time for me to be that person that passes down some life experiences to those younger than me. (Ugh! Can I really be getting that old?)

God did that just the other day. There was something that happened on social media that had a life lesson that God told me to tell a specific group of people about. After praying and thinking about it God impressed on me that it should be through this blog. So, I am starting a new series. It won't be weekly but I am praying that it will be regular.

Okay, before I give you the name of this new series I need to tell you the background. For the past few years my family has been blessed to help out at a camp in Canada for one week in the summer. We have grown to love the senior staff, cabin leaders, and support staff. Way back when we first went up we were told that we had to come up with a camp name. It couldn't be our real name, it had to be something else and it usually was something crazy. Some of the camp names other staff had chosen are Mushroom, Samwidge (yes that is spelled correctly) Curly Fry, Cheeko, Squirb, Maximus . . . you get the picture. So, after not much thought, I chose Thumper. I am a very jittery person and never can sit still, so that seemed to fit. So, since this life lesson is for the staff from that camp - a staff that we love dearly - the name of this series is "Life Lessons from Thumper".

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.

Now for the actual life lesson.

A facebook friend of mine posted something the other day. This friend is a strong Christian and I'm sure didn't mean anything by this post. At any other time of life I might have mentioned the same thing. I can be very good at judging people and I'm not talking about judging in a good way. If I don't watch myself and remember to check my spirit, I can be very good at seeing a something and coming to all sorts of conclusions. So, this particular post could have easily something that I wrote. I am going to paraphrase what was said just in case he or someone else that saw the post reads this. So here's the paraphrased post:

  • You won't believe what I just saw! Some lady just rode her scooter into the restaurant where I'm eating. She had a carton of cigarettes in her front basket and a case of beer in her back basket. She rolled up to the bar and ordered a margarita! 
I read some of the comments. They (again paraphrased) ranged from "I wonder if they arrest drivers of scooters for driving under the influence" to "I'll bet she's already spent time in jail" to "It's people like that who give a bad name to humanity." And of course the post and many "likes" as did some of the comments.

Like I said, my Facebook friend really isn't a bad person. He was just making a comment on humanity around him. What he didn't know is that lady is my next door neighbor. No, I'm not talking figuratively here. I'm talking literally. I know the exact lady that he is talking about because she actually is my neighbor. Day in and day out as I am sitting on the porch doing devotions. I watch her as she stumbles out of the house and gets on her scooter to run errands. I watch her as she rolls down our street and when she rolls back to her house and I pray for her each time.

Sarah and I have been witnessing to she and her mother since before we even moved into our apartment. We have visited and prayed with them over difficulties, hospital stays, nursing home rehabs and more. We have known what was going on for a long time and they have confided in us. Although we don't agree with how they are handling their life problems, we somewhat know why they do what they do.

We have learned to love our neighbors and the people that we minister to where they are. We learned a long time ago (and still are) that you can never tell on the outside what a person is really going through. 

In Mark 12:31 the Bible tells us that the second greatest commandment is to "Love your neighbor as yourself." Your neighbor isn't just the people that live beside you or across the street, it is all people. The folks you work with, the folks you go to school with, the folks you go to church with, the folks that you see and pass on the street every day - all of them are your neighbors. If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we need to look past their problems and frailties. We need to remember that life is hard. It's hard for we Christians as well. The only difference is that we have God to help us and the Holy Spirit to guide us. 

Instead of looking at the mistakes in people, we need to be looking at them like Christ. Christ sees them - he sees even us - as frail, weak, individuals that he wants to redeem, and make strong with His strength. Unfortunately I am guilty many times of looking at people through eyes of rejection and judgement. I probably would have looked at this lady with those eyes if I wouldn't have known her. I am just as guilty.


Help me to see people through your eyes. Help me not to judge others that I see on the street or that I come into contact with. Help me to love people with your love and remember that everyone is your creature and everyone needs a chance. Maybe that person that I am judging is the exact person that you want me to be a witness to but because of my prejudices I am rejecting. Please help me to love and not judge. Please shine your light through me every day to everyone.