Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote for MOPS.
Mary, the mother of Jesus is one of the most well-known women of all time. She was also a teen mom facing an unplanned pregnancy. This Christmas we will see evidence of Mary’s story all around us. And as you hear it through Christmas songs and Christmas shows think of three things:
Mary was signed up for a big task she wasn’t prepared for. Mary no doubt faced criticism from people around her.
Mary found someone to turn to – a friend who could help Mary to succeed in her new role. It was Mary’s older cousin Elizabeth.
Elizabeth played an important part in Mary’s life. We know this because the book of Luke begins by telling us Elizabeth’s story first. Elizabeth was the wife of a priest. She was very old and had no children, but God blessed her in her old age by allowing her to get pregnant. After Elizabeth’s story comes Mary’s story ... another surprise pregnancy. Can you imagine what a shock that was to everyone who knew both women? (Yes! I’m sure you can!) Read the rest here!
The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.
So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.
And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?
What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?
Welcome to Advent Conspiracy.
What are some ways you are spending less and giving more this year?
To enter the contest, go to my contact page and leave me a note telling me one way motherhood has shaped YOU!
You'll be entered to win... ~Generation NeXt Parenting ~Generation NeXt Marriage ~The entire set of the Shaunti Feldhahn books For Women Only For Men OnlyFor Parent's Only For Young Women Only For Young Men Only ~Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (gift edition) and With This Ring by Joanna Weaver ~My Mother's Wish by Jerry Camery-Hoggart ~Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd ~Me, Myself, & I Am ~Also included in the basket will be some AWESOME body products by J.R. Watkins and a little something for your sweet tooth!
I was in the bank yesterday when I heard a conversation between a woman and the teller next to me.
"It's amazing what we'll do for our kids," the woman said. "My daughter was flying to California today and she was slow getting ready. I told her to hurry, but she didn't listen. She said she only needed to be at the airport 15 minutes ahead of time, even though I told her she needed to get there an hour ahead. It turns out they barely let her on the plane, but her bags didn't make it. I had to ship them two-day and it cost almost $200."
I couldn't believe the story this woman was telling. She actually shipped her teenager daughter's bags down to her after the daughter's poor choices led her to miss getting them on the plane. What about consequences?
Essentially, that mother suffered her daughter's consequences. Is it possible we try to help our kids too much? Is it possible that many of the reasons our kids continue to mess up is that we continue to bail them out.
I remember one day when my kids were toddlers. I was sitting outside our apartment complex and I saw another mom stride over to the dumpster and dump in a brand new pair of roller skates. I looked at the woman questioningly.
"I told my daughter for two days to put them away or I was going to throw them away," the mother said. "I have to follow through."
Wow. At first I thought the consequences were a bit harsh, but I soon realized that a parent has to follow what he or she says. Do you think our kids will learn anything if we tell them, "I'm going to ground you." or "I'm going to put you in time out" and then we continually let their actions slide? The thing is that when we don't deal with the lying, stealing, and cheating when our kids are 2, 3, and 4 ... then we're going to be dealing with them in bigger ways when they're 12, 13, and 14!
So, in the end, what's a parent to do? My advice is that we give kids consequences for their disobedience and then follow through. We are the parents. It is our job to teach them, to train them. It is our job to give them a moral foundation and show the reasons why it's important to follow God's directives.
If we don't today, what will our children's tomorrows look like?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawai’i.
She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.
As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.
Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.
But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.
And yet...maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.
Christmas Day is just weeks away and Guideposts is busy helping Santa...Santa Cliff, that is, a remarkable man in North Carolina who makes over 50 jolly appearances each November and December. Santa Cliff's gift to the children who visit him, though, goes beyond just listening to what they want for Christmas. He hears their hopes and dreams, too, writes their names in his Little Red Book and says a prayer for each one. Guideposts is helping by setting up a way for people to send prayer requests for the special children in their lives directly to Santa Cliff here Santa Cliff will pray for each and every one this holiday season.
Guideposts knows many Americans, including our readers, love to share the Christmas spirit with others. The stories and features highlight our shared sense of community, provide holiday inspiration, and help strengthen the values Americans hold dear.
Your journey begins in the queue where you can test your knowledge of the Narnia stories. Next, either head into the soundstage or introduce yourself to Prince Caspian himself! Then experience a unique look at the epic story in Soundstage 4, where you can watch special behind-the-scenes footage featuring the film's director, Andrew Adamson.
Your next step takes you deeper... Pass through a rockwork archway, and you enter Aslan's Stone Table Chamber, the underground vault where Aslan sacrificed himself in the first movie. You stand amidst gorgeous stone carvings in one of the most awe-inspiring sets in the series, which is also a pivotal location in the film, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
The adventure will surround you... Multiple screens, dimensional sound and in-theater effects help you live the story of Narnia firsthand, as you explore this walk-through chamber in depth, guided through the tale of Prince Caspian's courageous battle against the evil King Miraz to win back his rightful place on the throne.
See how it was conceived... Finally, conclude the journey with a close up look at the authentic concept art and storyboards that contributed to bringing the motion picture to life, as well as the actual props and costumes used by the film cast.
This experience will be unforgettable... Take home with you the living memory of Journey into Narnia: Prince Caspian Attraction now forever etched in your own adventurous mind!
Beneath those white crosses, which as sentinels stand, Majestically protecting them like the Almighty hand, In a slumbering sleep beneath that blanket of stone, Rest the heroes we've known who never came home. ~~Michael Hanko, In Memoriam, 1962
An article I read the other day stated that there is only ONE remaining WWI veteran alive today. One. Frank Buckles. He's even got his own website: http://www.frankbuckles.org/ That got me thinking...
When I wrote The Liberator Series books, I collected stories from Veterans across the country. I interviewed them at Veteran Reunions, over the phone, and via email. They were all too happy to share their stories with me and anytime I had a question about some minute detail of the war or a random piece of equipment they were johnny-on-the-spot with an answer. It was great.
As the novels were published, my mail box became inundated with stories from other Veterans. I have boxes of their stories and photographs. I started a website, www.triciagoyer.com/ww2stories as a place to collect those stories and share them with the public.
I've interviewed MANY veterans who have passed away, and I'm so thankful I've gotten their stories. So in their honor, and vets everywhere, I'm launching the "INTERVIEW A VET" campaign! (Participation gets you a FREE book!)
Here's how it works!
1. Send me an interview with a WWII veteran, typed-up, or videotaped, or autotaped and you will receive a free copy of one of my WWII novels. (Your submission must be original and cannot be something downloaded off the Internet, previously done by someone else: such as a newspaper article or unit history.) If the veteran is already deceased, you can send a personally written story (1,000-2,000 words) of the veteran's experience, written in the same style as those on www.triciagoyer.com/ww2stories
2. Send and audio/video interview AND a transcript of the recorded interview you will receive two of myWWII novels. DO NOT SEND THE ORIGINAL OF ANYTHING. IT WILL NOT BE SENT BACK. PLEASE KEEP A COPY FOR YOUR OWN RECORDS.
3. The campaign will run from Dec. 7, 2008 - March 31, 2009.
4. You're welcome to send copies of additional materials, such as copies of photos, newspaper clippings, etc. I would love to have them for my archives! Stories from those on the Home Front (factory workers, etc) will also be accepted.
5. Submissions can be mailed to Tricia Goyer, P.O. Box 5720, Kalispell, MT 59903. Email my assistant Amy (email@example.com) prior to mailing your submission. She will send you a release form that needs to be signed and returned with your submission. The form gives me permission to use part of the story on my blog, the WWII website, or a future book. Oh, and also let Amy know which on of my WWII novels you'd like!
My goals for this campaign are three-fold!
1. To collect stories. WWII vets are passing away and we don't want to lose their experiences.
2. To encourage family members and friends to record an interview. To connect generations and let veterans know we still care.
3. For research, who knows which story might be the inspiration for a novel some day!
Not sure how to get started? I recommend these resources!
When summer ends my three kids and I prepare for our school year. While most kids are out buying new school clothes and supplies, we’re scouring our bookshelves, installing programs on the computer, and looking forward to another year of learning together.
Our homeschooling journey began twelve years ago when my oldest son, Cory was of kindergarten age. My husband and I had close friends who homeschooled their children, and we liked what we saw. Their kids seemed to enjoy being with their parents and each other. They were smart, intelligent, and fun to be around. We decided we wanted kids like that and began looking into homeschooling in earnest.
My biggest reservation was, “Can I do it?” In addition to my son who I would homeschool, I had two younger kids, a budding writing career, and I volunteered in local organizations. Yet as I began looking at curriculum, I grew excited about spending quality time with my kids and building a lifetime of learning together. (“Together” being the key word!) Growing up, the only times my brother and I were together was after school—when we didn’t have anyone else to play with. We rarely interacted, and when we did it wasn’t a pretty sight.
I wanted something better for my own children, and I know other homeschoolers feel the same.
“One of the main reasons my husband Tim and I decided to homeschool was because of our daughters’ relationships,” says Jeanette Nostrum, mother of four girls, ages 5-12, who has been homeschooling for three years. “We noticed when they were at school all day, they spent little time together. They also put more emphasis on their relationship with their peers rather than with each other. Bringing them home for schooling has provided the time and opportunity for them to become best friends.”
Faith Walk Another main reason my husband and I decided to homeschool was because of our faith. John and I felt that learning to love God was even more important than academic success. So this became a one of our main focuses—spending time reading faith stories together, memorizing verses, and including a faith-based Curriculum as a core subject.
Of course, this is only one reason to homeschool. According to the National Home Education Research institute, teaching specific philosophical or religious values, controlling social interactions, developing close families, and high level academics are the most common reasons for home schooling.
Where to Start When I first started homeschooling, one thing that helped the most was talking to veteran homeschoolers. I asked dozens of questions, including what they’ve tried, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and why. It also helped to know that normal people were schooling at home and finding success. “I have a great support system and find I can always turn to my sister and friends for advice,” says Jeanette. “I’ve frequently gone to the local bookstore, and they always have good information. They point me to curriculums that meet my needs and even provide resources for field trips.”
Unique Learning for Unique Kids Another aspect I enjoy about homeschooling is the ability to tailor my children’s education to their unique needs. There have been times in our educational journey that it was necessary to take learning slow with one of my kids. Other times, I had trouble keeping up with them as they raced through the books as fast as I can find them.
Now that they are older, two of my children enjoy doing their homework on the computer, having interactive lessons and getting immediate feedback. Then there’s my other child who would rather read out-loud to me from a good book.
I’ve purchased numerous curriculums over the years, trying everything from classical literature, traditional workbooks, and unit studies (instructor-designed thematic studies). There’s always something new to try, which keeps our routine fresh and fun. I also utilize our local library system, checking out both fiction and non-fiction books to keep up with inquisitive minds.
One of best places to learn about curriculum choices is by attending a curriculum fair or visiting local bookstores that carry curriculum. Some areas also have resources through the local Superintendent of Schools.
A Lifestyle of Learning Of course, parents can attempt to plan the perfect schedule and pick the best curriculum, but what it all comes down to is how the children learn. In our homeschool we’ve adopted a natural style of learning, which involves learning with and without books. Our “official” school day begins around 9:00 a.m. and ends around 2:00 p.m., but throughout the day we also enjoy cooking together, playing board games, reading in the evenings, and attending each others sporting events.
One wonderful thing about the growth of homeschooling is that there are numerous activities for my kids to get involved in. They’ve been a part of homeschool choir, swimming lessons, and basketball. They’ve also taken private classes such as dance, voice lessons, piano, and guitar. In addition, there are numerous classes offered through local schools, including art, acting, writing, science labs, and much more.
“My two oldest daughters have been part of homeschool basketball, and my husband and I had the opportunity to coach,” says Jeanette. “Through homeschool sports my kids learn teamwork and sportsmanship. Plus they get exercise. Not only that, we’ve gotten to know some great families through the program as we spend time together traveling for games.” And let’s not forget field trips and volunteering. My family has enjoyed nature hikes, chocolate making, and tours of local historical sites. My kids have also gotten involved in volunteering through local non-profit organizations.
After Graduation One of the most common questions asked to homeschoolers is, “What about graduation?” As my oldest son nears graduation age, I’ve begun looking into this more. Amazingly, I’ve found that most colleges accept transcripts designed by parents, as long as a “student portfolio” is provide which includes a student’s work.
Personally, my husband and I choose to have our children take standardized testing every year to insure we haven’t missed any vital subjects. This is not only a helpful reference, but it’s also a boost when our kids see how well they’re doing.
“Homeschool graduates closely parallel their public school counterparts—about two-thirds go on to post-secondary education, and one-third directly into the job market,” says Brian Ray, in Strengths of Their Own—Home Schoolers Across America, NHERI, 1997.
Obviously the end of formal homeschooling is not the end of the educational road. Also according to Ray, over 74% of home-educated adults ages 18–24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46% of the general United States population. Homeschool graduates are active and involved in their communities. Seventy-one percent participate in an ongoing community service activity (e.g., coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association), compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages. Eighty-eight percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed were members of an organization (e.g., such as a community group, church or synagogue, union, homeschool group, or professional organization), compared to 50% of U.S. adults.
The Heart It’s hard to believe, but with my oldest has graduated and my youngest son is in 8th grade this year, my homeschool journey is more than half over.
Yet when I look at my kids, I see young men and women who have strong character and the family connectedness I longed for. They love their family, have a strong faith, and seem to be excelling in their education.
Of course, I can’t say that the years have been without frustration and tears. There were days when I seriously questioned if I was crazy for taking on this task. I lost my temper (more than once!) and questioned if I was doing enough to insure my children would lead productive lives.
Yet in the end, I look back with joy and appreciation of our time spent learning together. I have fond memories of teaching three children to read, of attempting science projects on the kitchen counter, and discovering each child’s unique personalities and God-give talents.
Now that my son will soon be graduating and moving on to higher education, I’m especially thankful for the chance to truly know him and the chance for him to get to know me—spending 24/7 with anyone will insure that!
And as looking back, I can say without a doubt I’d do it all again. Through the years, we’ve learning home’s a cool place to be. To laugh, to love, and to learn.
Resources to Check Out: Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling By Mary Pride, Harvest House
The Way They Learn By Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, Tyndale House
100 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing The Right Curriculum And Approach For Your Child's Learning Style by Cathy Duffy
Unit Studies Made Easy by Valerie Bendt
Homeschool Stats Provided by The US Department of Education, released 2001
• Homeschool profile—Median amount spent on home schooling per child in the US - $450 • Household incomes—18% of home school families earn less than $25,000, 44% of households between $25,000 and $49,000. • Religion—Over 75% attend religious services • Testing—The average SAT score for homeschoolers in 2000 was 1100, compared with 1019 for the general population. And a large study by University of Maryland education researcher Lawrence Rudner showed that the average homeschooler scored in the 75th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills; the 50th percentile marked the national average.
In the 1980s only about 15,000 families homeschooled. Now, the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) puts the number at between 1.5 million and 1.9 million students - close to 3 percent of the school-age population. Yet the reasons parents choose to homeschool are as diverse as the methods they use. Some parents homeschool after seeing their children struggle in school. Others feel it gives their children more time to pursue other interests, such as champion surfer Bethany Hamilton. Another reason for growth may include a rise in credibility—from colleges and the media, as well as family and friends.
Goyer gives practical tips on how to lay a firm foundation while raising up the next generation. Knowing that marriages today also face challenges that no other generation has experienced, she wrote “Generation NeXt Marriage: The Couple’s Guide to Keeping it Together,” in which she offers insightful truths for Generation X marriages and those who minister to them. She also talks about marriage role models, and what “Gen X” is doing right. She will chat about both “Generation NeXt” books on Dec. 3. For more information, go here.
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Abunga.com, the family-friendly online bookstore, continues its weekly “Authors at Abunga” chats in December with award-winning authors offering a Christian perspective on Godly parenting and strong marriages and engaging stories with themes of love and redemption.
The one-hour chats, held at 2 p.m. EST on the first three Wednesdays next month at Abunga.com, will feature family and parenting writer Tricia Goyer, New York Times best-selling novelist Beverly Lewis and Christian fiction author Robin Jones Gunn, respectively.
Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.