Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Music Blasts from the Past!

Music has always been a big part of my life. Both my personal and my spiritual life have been effected deeply by music. Every once in a while I'll think back over music that has made an impact in my life. Recently I went through one of those times and found these favorite music artists and songs from my college days. Enjoy these blasts from the past!


Crazy, Unexplainable, Things Are Happening! A Good News Ministries Update!

I know that at this stage of my Christian life things that God does shouldn't astonish me, but God continues to amaze me in so many ways! I can see Him move in so many wonderful, crazy, ways that He is making my head spin! Everyday I am totally flabbergasted at the way God is working. Great breakthroughs have happened in ministries that have already begun; God is miraculously working in new ministries that are just starting; and brand new ministry opportunities are opening up!

I am going to be totally transparent for a couple of minutes. A year and a half ago we had to move from the location where our ministry with low income folks began 18 years ago. For almost 15 of those 18 years we lived in the house that abutted our ministry building. A year and a half ago we were told that the house and building had sold and we had to move. However, we in no way felt that our ministry with the families in the projects and other low income areas had ended. God still had a plan for us in those areas.

We moved to a smaller 3 bedroom apartment two blocks away from where we lived before. For over a year I struggled with how we were to proceed. I actually went into a depression during that time. Even though God had graciously given us a completely converted mini-bus to use for our ministry I still struggled. I felt that our identity had been taken away from us. We struggled financially, physically, and emotionally. All during this time God kept telling me that the answer was in deep prayer and Bible study. Finally, a few months ago, God finally got through to my thick skull and forced me to my knees and back to serious devotion and Bible reading.

That is when the changes began to happen. We finally got our bus licensed and tagged and fixed for the second time (thankfully not expensive at all). Tonight was the first time I used it for an actual Bible study. Although the bus is called "The Bible Club Place" tonight's study was with adults that live in a very low end trailer park. I know these people and have worked with the kids from this area but I really felt like God was leading me to talk about salvation. I now know why. One dear lady trusted the Lord!

One of the things that I have been praying for is boldness to do God's work. God has certainly been leading me to be bold. I have done things that I thought I would never do! Things are happening that I never dreamed would happen. God is working in unexplainable, miraculous ways. Some of the things that have been happening I have already blogged about, but some of the things I haven't. I can't say a whole lot more right now, but exciting things are happening and I will let you all know when I can.

Until then, please continue to pray for our ministry. Pray for our adult ministries in the trailer park and in the projects. Pray for my weekly teen boy's Bible study. Pray for my visitation ministries. Pray for the five day clubs that I am going to be conducting this summer. Pray for the new, exciting ministries that God may be leading us into.

Thank you all for your prayers. You are a blessing!

Monday, May 30, 2016

No One Was Coming to Visit so He Went to Bed.


His page was empty.

It had been empty for weeks.

No one was coming.

He went to bed rather than listen to all of the other families having fun.

He and his brother had been taken by DCS to a boy's group home because of truancy from school and other mistakes he had made. They knew it was there fault. They knew they were stupid mistakes. What do you do however when all you know are mistakes? Their whole family is a history of mistakes. According to the town they live in their last name is synonymous with the word mistake. 

Sunday afternoon is free visitation. That's when families and friends can come and visit for a few hours as long as they had permission from DCS. I had been seeking permission for a few weeks to visit the boys. They are two of the teen boys that attended my weekly Thursday night teen boy Bible study that I have at Burger King and I wanted to keep in touch with them. First I was permitted to write letters, then, finally, Sarah's and my name were put on the list of people able to visit them on Sunday afternoon.
Sarah was sick on the first Sunday after we were given permission so I went alone. The GPS said the group home was about an hour away. It finally led me down some back country roads to a beautiful facility. The sign said to check in at the office and had an arrow pointing to a log building. However, the door was locked. After knocking a couple of times, I heard a lady calling from the top of the hill behind me.

"Could I help you?" she called.

"I'm here to visit a couple of boys." I hollered back.

"Ugh!" was her answer. "Did you use GPS? You are the third person today. Your GPS led to the wrong place. This is the camp, the residential home is on the other side of the mountain. I'm sorry but only four wheelers can make it on the only direct path. You'll have to drive around the mountain. The directions are easy, but it will take you about 20 minutes."

She gave me the simple directions but I also found that I had the visitation times incorrect. She said that the visitation ended at three and it was already after two.

With much prayer that I would make it on time I drove away. I did, indeed, arrive on time. Again, after a drive down back, country dirt roads. The two boys were in two different houses on the same property. I visited the older brother first. The small parking lot and driveway were so full of cars I had to park almost a quarter of a mile from the house. As I walked I could see the house surrounded by families and boys laughing and having a good time of visitation.

On the porch a young man pointed the way to the check in office. After my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I walked down a small hall and turned the corner. There he was sitting on a counter talking to the check in person. He looked at me with a shocked look on his face and jumped off of the counter.

The man began to leaf through the book for my friends page. I could see pages that were filled with signatures of family and friends that had come to visit different boys, but when he finally found my friends page it was blank. He had been there for over a month and no one had come to visit him. I had to print and sign my name and then put down my relationship. When I asked what I should put down my teen friend said to put down that you're my uncle. I knew that I couldn't put that down and after some discussion with the attendant I put down that I was a pastor.

After some small talk I asked him how he was doing. At first he answered that he was okay but after a little pressing he got a tearful look in his eyes and said that he wanted to go home.

But he can't go home.

He can't go home until the judge says that he can. Or he can work his way through the program that is set up for boys who are sent there. Even after he works through the program, though, the judge still has to give permission for him to go home.

After praying with him I left to visit his brother. Before I drove away, however, he hinted to me that I was allowed to bring him something next time if I wanted.

"You know." He said. "Like McDonalds or Burger King or a meatball sub from Subway."

I smiled at the not so subtle hint and told him I would see what I could do.

The visit with his brother went much the same. Only they had to wake him up when I got there. He didn't think anyone would come. After all, no one had come any of the other Sunday's since they had been there.

He walked out groggy eyed but surprised. As with his brother we chatted for a little while then I asked him how I could pray for him throughout the week.

"What?" Was his response. "What do you mean?"

"You know. Is there anything that you want me to pray for? I answered.

After thinking for a while, he asked me to pray that he could go home soon. I prayed over him as well before I left. I never told him what his brother had hinted about but before we left he told me the same thing. Only he didn't mince words. He came right out and asked for the meatball sub from Subway!

I drove away with a heavy heart. I know that this is an age old problem with kids and families. I know that many have tried to help them before. Still, I thought, there has got to be some way to help these boys (and girls) who feel unloved and unwanted. Who have no training at home and have to wander through life aimlessly. Or perhaps their parents try but somehow things just got messed up.

These are the children that always seem to fall through the cracks in so many churches and ministries. These are the children that I feel like God has led me to work with.

Would you please pray with me as I minister to these children and families. It is a big task. There are dozens of children in our small town that are just like these two brothers that I went to visit.

I have been reading David Wilkerson's book "The Cross and the Switchblade" on how he began Teen Challenge in the worst neighborhoods of New York City. One thing that really spoke to me was when he asked one boy what he thought the worst problem that boys who joined gangs had. Immediately the boy responded that it was loneliness.

I realized then that the boys in my small town weren't that much different than the boys in 1960 that lived in New York City. They are lonely. They need the Lord. They need to know that there is someone who loves them far greater than any earthly father or mother could love them. That is Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for their sins and all they have to do is accept His free gift of eternal life. Then they will have a perfect, heavenly Father!

Pray for the lonely boys and girls not just in my town but in yours as well. And for those all around the world. Pray that someone will come into their lives to introduce them to their heavenly father.

PS. Sarah and I went to visit the boys again this past Sunday. We were a little late getting started and didn't have to time to pick up anything special for them. The younger brother had been moved into the same house as his brother so they were both waiting on the porch for us to show up. With a whoop I heard one of the boys yell "There they are!" We had a good visit and they were excited to see Sarah.

I don't know if I can go back this weekend. It's Memorial Day weekend and my anniversary. I am definitely planning on going back next weekend though. I plan on leaving early enough to stop someplace to make sure there are two hot meatball subs from Subway sitting on the seat beside me.

Some of the members of my teen boy Bible Study
out to eat at Burger King with me and my kids.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Learn Multiplication and Division A Fun Way with Sunya Publishing! A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review.

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
We love playing games around our house. Of course the boy's love their video games, but board games and card games are also a favorite pastime. We have even learned to incorporate games into our homeschool, and when we do it is always a success. Recently we had the opportunity to review a math card game from a brand new company by the name of Sunya Publishing. We found that the Sunya  - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing card game is a powerful tool for learning multiplication and dividing.
I mainly asked for this game for Joshua and I to play together. Joshua has a difficult time with math in general and especially multiplication and division. I was hoping that this card game would be something that would really help and I think it will be. Let me describe what we got and how to play.
What we got - Over 60 playing cards and 30 math and science fact/riddle cards. A wonderful spiral bound 26 page book of directions and other great math and science helps. A nifty multiplying and dividing number line. All are very sturdy and well made. 
Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
The play of the regular game is super easy. The dealer puts a number sentence out on the table for either multiplication or division. For example:
2 x 4 = 8
He then deals four cards out to each player. The next player draws a card from the pile and looks at his cards to see if he can make another number sentence either using the cards in his hand, or a combination of the cards in his hand and the number sentence on the table. For example: the next player has a 5, 6, 3, 0, and he draws a 7. He can put his 3 on top of the 4 and his 6 on top of the 8 to make:
2 x 3 = 6
It's that simple! If a player doesn't have cards that make up a new number sentence then he continues to draw until he does. When he is about to go out he has to say SUN YA and he wins the game. The winner is then instructed to pick a card up from the fact/riddle pile and read it to everyone to try to figure out the answer. That increases the learning and is a fun way to end the game. A sample of the a fact/riddle card is pictured below. The division game is the same only you are making division number sentences instead of multiplication sentences. There are various other small rules and regulations but that is the basic concept of the game. It is incredibly easy but incredibly effective!

But, that's not the only reason why I really love this game. In today's society so many things are cut throat. Always striving to be the best and it doesn't matter about the other person. Use them, crush them and throw them away after you are done with them! Not with Sunya. With their games you are encouraged to help the other person! You're even allowed to look at the other persons cards! If a player can't figure out a number sentence but has one in his hand then other players can help them find it. If a player has made a mistake then the other players are instructed to KINDLY point out the other persons mistake and help them correct it. By doing those things, it increases the learning of everyone. When helping others is part of the game, it makes the game more fun and less cut throat. I really like that.

I think that it is pretty evident that I am a fan of this game. Sunya is a brand new company, and I am sure that if all of their other games are like this then this company is going to go places. To find out more about Sunya Publishing and the Sunya  - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing card game just click on any of the highlighted links above. Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed this game and Sunya's adding and subtracting game and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling! 
Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Introductory Science from Science Shepherd - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Science Shepherd Review

I don't think that it is any secret that Science is not one of our strong subjects. You would think that it might be. After all, when I was younger I either wanted to be a forest ranger or a zoo keeper. I remember getting my brother's set of World Book Encyclopedia and looking up all that I could about trees. Also, growing up on a small farm gave me a lot of experience with farm animals. However, alas, the science interests from my youth didn't carry over to my homeschool teaching. So, I am always excited to review any science curriculum that I can. We have reviewed some good ones this year and Introductory Science form Science Shepherd is one of the best if not THE best.

Introductory Scienceis a video based program for ages 6-11 and also has a workbook component that is to be used along with the watching the videos. There are two workbooks to choose from. Level A is for 6-8 year olds and Level B is for 9-11 year olds. I would recommend looking at the samples on the Science Shepherd website to decide which workbook to choose. We chose Level B and my very reading challenged 10 year old is doing fine with it so really the level depends on the child and not necessarily the age.

Let me discuss the two main components:

Introductory Science Videos - My kids love the videos because they are short, but there is a lot of information packed into that short timeframe. Each video is usually less than five minutes long. Dr. Scott Hardin, the developer of Homeschool Shepherd is the teacher. The set looks very much like a nightly news setting. As Dr. Hardin teaches in a very pleasant and clear way, pictures and demonstrations of what he is talking about are shown on the screens behind him. And, let me tell you, the lessons are interesting! I often will want to view the next lessons, but only one lesson a day is recommended. There are enough lessons to be used five days a week for 35 weeks but they can be viewed at any pace.

I like this series because it is completely Christian based and homeschool friendly. If you are looking for a secular science program that teaches evolution this is probably not the program for you. The whole study begins with the six days of creation and goes from there. In the 35 week time, the study covers everything from Meteorology to Geology to Oceanography, Plants, Astronomy, Flying  Creatures, Land Creatures, Human Beings and more! It is truly a complete Introductory Science program. It is also homeschool friendly. The creators are homeschoolers so they know what homeschoolers like and how much they can do. I really like that.

Science Shepherd Review

Introductory Science Workbook - My kids love the workbook as well because it is not full of a bunch of worksheet stuff that just wastes time. There is usually a page or two of questions that cover the material learned in each video along with a puzzle that further reviews the day. Sometimes there is an activity such as a science experiment that usually involves things found around the home or a small research project. At the end of each week there is a fun crossword review. There is an answer key that gives the answers to all of the questions and solutions to the puzzles. It is all super easy to use. Although I have not allowed them to do it yet, I'm sure my kids could use this program independently if I wanted them to.

I am thrilled that we were chosen for this review. It is definitely a keeper for us and we will continue to use it even though the review period is over. To find out more about Introductory Science from Science Shepherd just click on any of the highlighted links above. Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed other programs from Science Shepherd and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Science Shepherd Review
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, May 20, 2016

D'Aulares' Greek Myths - Wow! Was This A New Experience! - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

I have talked several times about our families approach to homeschooling. We are super eclectic not only in the things that we use, but also in our style. In a lot of ways we are very delight directed and kind of "unschoolish" but in other ways I kind of "introduce" things to my kids that they may never choose to learn about but I think are important. For example, when John Allen, our oldest, first started homeschooling in fourth grade, we studied Latin. I felt that it would be a good thing to learn not only to help him with his own English language but also, since Latin is the basis for a lot of languages, it would be a good start in learning a foreign language. One thing that I never thought that I would introduce to my children was Greek mythology. It was never something that I learned and I really didn't have much of an interest in it. Well, as God often does, he put Greek mythology right smack dab in the middle of our homeschooling through the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We were chosen to review D'Aulaires' Greek Myths using the curriculum developed by Memoria Press.

We were familiar with Memoria Press because that is what we used when John Allen studied Latin, and we also reviewed a great Geography curriculum by Memoria that Joshua absolutely loves. And, of course, the excellent reading guides that we reviewed earlier this year. So, I knew that it would be great material, I just wasn't convinced that the Greek Myth part of it would be something that the boys would actually enjoy. However, to my great surprise, they are actually enjoying it. When I mentioned to Joshua that I was writing the review he quickly asked "We aren't done with the book are we?" No, we are far from done, but we did get through a good portion of it during the review period and both boys give it two thumbs up.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

Here's what we received and reviewed:

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths - I had no idea how complicated and intertwining the stories of the Greek god's could be, however, D'Aulaires did a good job in trying to explain everything in a way that my boys, and even I, could understand. This huge, colorful, 192 page book begins with a couple of short stories on how the earth began and then is divided into three sections - ZEUS and his family; MINOR GODS, Nymphs, Satyrs and Centaurs; and MORTAL DESCENDENTS OF ZEUS. Each story is short - basically only 2-4 pages long - and is divided by pictures. In fact, probably half of the book is colorful pictures that depict what is going on in the story. Pictures really help a lot in this because sometimes the gods and other creatures are so unusually that it is hard to picture what they look like by just reading the description. Really, you could learn a lot about Greek myths just by reading this book, but the Student Guide and Teacher Guide really help to make things clear and make the stories applicable to everyday life.

D'Aulaires' Greek Myths Student Guide by Cheryl Lowe and Leigh Lowe - As I mentioned above, this book and the accompanying Teacher Guide really pulls everything together. They divide D'Aulares' Book of Greek Myths into 25 bite sized lessons. After reading the short section from the book, there are four sections to be completed in the student book.

  • Facts to Know - This section contains several facts, usually around 10 or 11 that are very important that the student remember from the story. Important people, places, or things are briefly defined and are to be reviewed throughout the year. These are things that the authors suggest should be drilled so much that the student can recite them with ease at the end of the year.
  • Vocabulary - As with any classical work, there are bound to be words and phrases that a student finds difficult. Especially 3-6 grade students, for whom this book is written, might find a few words challenging. Each word is used in a short phrase and the student is to look the word up and give a brief definition.
  • Comprehension Questions - The comprehension questions are easy short answer questions that come straight from the story. The students answer them to make sure that they understand what they are reading.
  • Activities - I probably liked this section the most. This is where we got into some interesting discussions. Remember me mentioning that the book was probably at least half pictures? Well, part of the activity section has us going back to look at the pictures to identify certain key things and characters from the story. They also ask some great discussion questions about the story and often ask the student to further define things found in the story. Finally, there are several lists at the end of the book such as "heroes hidden in youth" or "sisters" that the student is asked to add too as they are mentioned in the reading selections.
  • Review Lessons - After every five lesson there is a review lesson where the student reviews the things learned in each lesson through "fill in the blank from a word bank" questions, multiple choice, and other easy methods.

D'Aulaires' Greek Myths Teachers Guide by Cheryl Lowe - Never fear! This book has good advice on how to use all of the material and has the answers to all of the questions in the student book. It also has questions for an exam to be given after every five lessons and also a final exam.

Flash Cards - Do you remember those important facts that were supposed to be reviewed each year? Well, the Greek Myths set includes handy-dandy flash cards that can use to review them!

We are super excited that we were chosen to review D'Aulaires' Greek Myths from Memoria Press. Because I was using it with both Joshua, who is an above level reader but has some problems with comprehension, and Jacob, who has a difficult time with reading but has excellent comprehension, I chose to use this book as a read aloud and we did the questions from the student book together. It worked out well for us and the boys (and I) have learned a lot.

To find out more about D'Aulaires' Greek Myths and Memoria Press just click on any of the highlighted links above. To find what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about this product and other products from Memoria Press just click on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

His Funeral is Tomorrow

I remember Russell coming up to Good News Mission when he was a preteen and young teen. He lived down the street in a big white house on the corner. He always had a smile on his face and was always interested in the lesson. He and his friend Matthew would often stop by to visit and just talk. They were both good kids. Russell moved away when he was in his teens. Every once in a while I would hear something about him or ask about him. His grandparents moved into the projects a few months ago and I was hoping that I might be able to see Russell again but it never happened. Russell was killed in a traffic accident last Friday. His dad was seriously injured. Russell was only 22 years old. His funeral is tomorrow.

Recently, it seems time and time again, I have been reminded of the brevity of life. The brevity of time itself. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 says: 
For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
We don't know when the Lord will return. We don't know when our last chance to reach someone might be. We have to be ready in season and out of season to give the gospel to someone. That person may not be there tomorrow. The day the Lord returns is not getting further away but closer every day. We could be gone tomorrow. Just think of Russell.
I know that Russell heard the gospel. I know that after he moved away he was baptized. Although only God knows the heart I believe that Russell was saved. I am praising the Lord for that.
What about the next person, though? What about the next person who comes into your life? What about the new neighbor across the street? What about that old friend that you always meant to catch up on but never seem to have the time? When will it be the last chance to reach them?
Time is short. I am praying that God will give me the courage, power and urgency to tell people while I can because tomorrow they may be gone.

This is how I remember Russell.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What's More Fun Than A Barrel of Monkeys? - The Kwik Stix 12 pk of Course! - A Homeschool Review Crew Review

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review
Since we have two kids on the autism spectrum, we tend not to do things that are messy. One of our children in particular is very sensory and can't stand things that are icky and gooey. So, we tend not to do homeschool projects that require him to get touch yucky feeling stuff, finger painting, paper mache, and that type of thing. Well, when I found out that we were going to get to review the Kwik Stix 12 pk from The Pencil Grip, Inc. I was skeptical but excited. By the way they looked in the pictures that I saw I wondered if they were going to be messy. I was pleasantly surprised!

Kwik Stix are ingenious! It is simply solid tempera paint in a tube. There is no water needed and it dries in 90 seconds. When I first saw it I thought it was gong to be one of those paint tubes with a roller on the end. Those can be very messy. However, this is nothing like that at all. It actually really is solid. When you use it, it almost feels like coloring with a crayon. It is not slick so that it slips and kids can make mistakes but it makes contact with the paper so that the kids can feel what they are doing. Does that make sense? All the kids have to do is uncap the top, twist the bottom so that the solid tempera paint comes to the top, and create!

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review

One of the projects that we decided to do was make Mother's Day cards with them for Sarah this weekend. Jacob had a blast. He was the one that I worried about using them the most. Since they are bigger around than a crayon, he had no problem gripping them even though he has small motor problems. As I mentioned before, because of the solid consistency of the paint, he could actually feel what he was doing and that made it easier. The solid consistency and the fact that it dries so quickly means that it doesn't bleed through the paper so we could actually use them to make cards and not worry about what the inside was going to look like. We received the Kwik Stix 12 pk and the colors are vibrant. The cards are going to be beautiful and I will add pictures to this post when they are completely done.

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review

I think that it is really neat that these paints can be used on different materials. The Pencil Grip, Inc. folks have been very helpful and they even sent us some suggestions for Mother's Day crafts. They suggested that we buy white mylar balloons to decorate as well. I didn't find those but the suggestion got me to thinking of all of the neat things we could do with Kwik Stix. You can decorate wood, paper, mylar and all sorts of things with this. This is a keeper for us!

Okay, you may have noticed that the name of the company is The Pencil Grip, Inc. That is because one of their top products is, indeed, a pencil grip. They sent us a sample to use and I love it. Some of you may know that I was an educational therapist for eleven years when I lived in Florida. I worked with special needs children that had learning disabilities. One of the things that we were very particular about was the way kids held their pencil. It would take much to long to explain everything, but it really is important that children (and adults) hold their pencil in the old tried and true way. The sample we received helps (almost forces) a child to hold their pencil correctly. This is going to be something we use time and time again.

Well, as you can probably tell, we are super thrilled with the Kwik Stix 12 pk that we reviewed. It has really opened up a new world for my kids. No more just using crayons, markers, or colored pencils for their art work. They can actually use tempera paint! To find out more about this product or any of the other products from The Pencil Grip, Inc. just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have to say just click on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review
Crew Disclaimer