Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Words of Hope - Abba

It is my prayer that these words of hope will encourage you and bring you comfort. This month, I decided to take a deeper look at the word Abba. It is a intimate name for God that has become one of my favorite ways of referring to my beloved Father. This week has been a difficult week for me as I have been physically drained by my monthly IV infusions and emotionally drained by the addition of medical diagnoses to my already long list. Words like adrenal insufficiency, adrenal crisis, and Stiff Man's Disease all feel daunting. I'll be honest: at first, I felt very overwhelmed by all of this. Thankfully, my Abba Father, who is always gracious and merciful, whispered quieting words of hope and peace into my soul and heart and I felt His wondrous peace wrap around me like a healing balm exactly when I needed His reassurance the most. Furthermore, He knew I'd need reminded of His deep love for me: His beloved and chosen child at this particular moment in my life. I love watching His mighty hand work all things for my good. I feel cherished. It is my prayer that you, precious one, will come to know God this intimately and feel loved, cherished, wanted, sought, and chosen by God as well.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word Abba has Greek origins from Aramaic translating to daddy. Furthermore, it defines Abba as 1.) An intimate term for God as Father and 2.) A title of honor given to the Deity (God) in the New Testament.

The most interesting fact my word study research revealed is that "this Syriac or Chaldee word (Abba) is found (only) three times in the New Testament (not at all in the Old Testament) and in each case is always followed by its Greek equivalent which is translated 'father.' It is a term expressing warm affection and filial (loving and devoted son or daughter) confidence. It has no perfect equivalent in our language." Easton's Bible Dictionary

Knowing this intimate term expresses warm affection from loving and devoted children to our heavenly Father makes the term Abba Father that much more special to me. It makes me feel so much closer to my beloved Father.

The three verses where Abba Father are found in the New Testament are Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6.  In Mark 14:36, Jesus calls out to his Abba Father in prayer while in the garden of Gethsemane. After telling his disciples that he was overwhelmed and deeply troubled (Mark 14:34), he falls to the ground and prays to God asking for this burden to be taken from him but submitting to God's plan and will for him at the end, which was death on a cross as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Calling out intimately in prayer to his father when he was entering the most difficult time in his life but which was the purpose for which he was born gives great insight into the depth of love not only between God and His one and only created Son but also into the depth of God's and Jesus' love for each one of us.

Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament refers to Abba Father in Romans 8:15 as our "adoption into the family of God." Furthermore, Robertson's refers to Abba Father in Galatians 4:6 as our being God's children chosen with purpose and love by God himself. Wow! Did you catch the significance of that usage of Abba Father in Galatians 4:6? God chose me. God chose you. He chose us with purpose, with certainty, with desire, with a plan, with resolve, with a design, with intent. Our relationship with Him is not a mistake. He chose us with love, with affection, with devotion, with respect, with tenderness, with appreciation, with fondness, with sentiment, with regard. Our Abba Father longs to have an intimate, loving relationship with each one of us.

God's love is amazing! Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed like Jesus or daunted like me. No matter what you are going through, God is right there waiting for you to cry out "Abba Father" and to pour your heart out to Him. When we place our burdens into His hands, our Abba Father can cover us in His loving, healing balm of peace and renewed hope.

Prayer: Abba Father, we thank you for loving us unconditionally and intimately. Thank you for choosing us to be Your beloved children. We are grateful for the example Your Son, Jesus, is for us and for the sacrifice he so graciously made on our behalves. We cry out to you as he did, Abba Father, in our times of overwhelm and trouble and ask that Your love and peace cover us like a healing balm. Fill us with the hope of knowing You are gracious and Your mercies are new every day. Help us to seek Your will always. In Jesus' name, Amen!


I am hosting the Words of Hope monthly blog link-up. Please stop by and visit the blogs of my dear friends who have linked-up their posts below and be inspired by their words of hope as well. Be blessed, dear ones so that you can be a blessing to others!



Friday, February 10, 2017

How We Place Christ at the Center of Our Homeschool

Our faith is a very integral part of our lives. It is one of the reasons we homeschool my son. How do we place Christ at the Center of our homeschool? I'm glad you asked.


I'll start with the most obvious example: Bible lessons. Using various age appropriate curriculum, we work on topic based lessons that will help strengthen our faith walk and increase our knowledge of the Bible.

Language Arts:

Language Arts provides a great opportunity to offer a Christian worldview through various books. For example, the Chronicles of Narnia not only take us on a fun voyage to a different time and a new land all while implementing imagery and themes that point to Christian values. My son loves reading The Prince Warrior series by Priscilla Shirer and The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Not only do I enjoy reading these series with him but I also appreciate knowing that what I'm reading is wholesome.


This year we are studying American History. One of the tools we have utilized is Drive Through History: American History. Host Dave Stotts not only indicates accurate historical facts about our nation's history but he also identifies key Christian points as well. We've also been using the Civil Rights Movement curriculum from as well. Again, I appreciate knowing that what we're reading and watching is wholesome and comes from a Christian worldview.


For Science, we are studying biology/animal science. Science is one educational area where it is extremely important to ensure our lessons come from a creationist viewpoint. This is why we chose Exploring Creation with Biology from Apologia.

When we strive to be in Christ and have Him live in and shine through us, we need to make a conscious effort to place Him at the center of all we do. By placing Christ at the center of our homeschool, my son not only receives an excellent education in a safe environment but he also gets a strong Biblical foundation, good morals, and manners which are sadly lacking in our world today.

To read about how other homeschooling families make Christ the center of their homeschools, stop by the Home School Review Crew Blog.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Blogging Through the Alphabet - Letter D

Blogging Through the Alphabet - Letter D Is for Discipline

Today, I will be looking at the word Discipline as we continue our Blogging Through the Alphabet series. Discipline can have either positive or negative connotations. How we Discipline can make all of the difference.

Merriam-Webster  defines Discipline as 1. punishment 2. instruction 3. a field of study 4. training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character 5. control gained by enforcing obedience or order; orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior 6. a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity.

When we look at the definitions and synonyms of Discipline we see that some are positive like teach, encourage, instruct, nurture, and refine while others are negative like criticize, punish, chasten, berate, and chide. While there are times we may need to punish our children for negative behaviors and dangerous choices they've made, we need to couple that with instruction on making wise choices and positive behaviors so that such situations can be avoided in the future.

In the Bible, Discipline in the Old Testament is seen more as a punishment from God. Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology states that, "God is portrayed as a father who guides his child to do right by the experience of physical suffering." In contrast, Discipline in the New Testament is seen more as the will power and dedication to train for and run the "good race" of Christian faith. According to  Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Discipline in the New Testament is the belief that "the recurrent promise that instruction, submission to others, and experiences of pain will prepare  the believer for greater righteousness and heavenly reward."

Galatians 6:1-5 provides insight for how the church should handle Discipline. The wrong-doer should be approached in private and the reproach should be gentle and edifying. The one doing the disciplining should be willing to readily forgive the wrong doer. Gentleness, edification, and forgiveness are all traits exhibited by Jesus who we as Christians are to exemplify. (Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology).

We have the power to build people up through instruction, teaching, gentle edification, nurturing, and refinement or we can tear people down with harsh chastisement, berating, public reprimand, and cruel punishment. When we exemplify Christ with gentle, patient instruction and nurturing, we make a lasting and life-changing impact with our children and those around us.

This post is linked-up with my Homeschooling friends A Net in Time and Hopkins Homeschool as part of Blogging Through the Alphabet.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew Review: Times Tables the Fun Way

My son and I recently had the opportunity to review Times Alive by Times Tables the Fun Way a City Creek Press creation for the Homeschool Review Crew. Times Alive are online lessons with animated songs and stories to help students learn times tables the fun way.

Math has always been a real problem for my son, who has diagnoses of Dyscalculia and Aspergers. Dyscalculia is a math learning disability. How Dyscalculia effects the learner varies from child to child. Aspergers is high-functioning Autism. Because math isn't a desired activity, my son places math concepts in his short-term memory. Once we are done with a certain math concept, he "dumps" it from his memory bank to make room for more preferred activities. Therefore, it takes him longer to retain math facts. To keep the facts fresh in his mind, we have to repeat them over and over and over again. This frustrates my son and can cause meltdowns, which doesn't make math fun for either of us.  

Times Alive with its animated stories and silly rhymes and the stress of learning math suddenly disappears. I no longer have to listen to any whining or refusals to work on math lessons. Furthermore, my son is actually recalling his math facts thanks to the little "ditties" that help him remember. For example, the lesson above focuses upon the fact 6x6=36. If I gave my son this fact alone, he would have difficulty recalling it. Using the Times Alive "ditty" above: when it's 6x6, they are very thirsty sixes, my son can remember that 6x6=36.

Watch a lesson in progress in this video below and see how these songs make learning fun students.

After completing lessons, students are rewarded with pages to color, which provides them with a short break and helps prevent mental fatigue.

We reviewed the online version, which was great because there was nothing to download. We just had to go to the website and log-in each time. This kept our computer space free and didn't tie up any of our bytes. Furthermore, each time we log-in my child is able to see what lessons he needs to work on, which allows him to work independently. Independent learning is a goal we all strive to have our students reach.

If he would become frustrated with a certain math fact, he could move forward to a lesson and then come back to work on the lesson at another time. Thankfully, he hasn't been frustrated by any of the lessons. Even the tests aren't frustrating for him.

As the parent, I appreciate the student progress report page. It not only tells me which lessons my son has completed but it also informs me how well he has done on tests.

Another positive about Times Alive is that you can reset the program so that your child can restart from the beginning. Multiple children can also access the program as well and each child's progress will be saved under his or her name.

Times Alive truly is a fun educational tool to help children learn multiplication facts in a stress free way. I recommend it not only for those just beginning to learn multiplication facts but also for those, like my son, who struggle with learning math. Not only will Times Alive help them build their math skills but also their confidence in their abilities.

Read additional review at the Home School Review Crew website to see what others have to say about Times Alive.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Litfuse Review: The Dog Who Was There

Book Review:

When I received the email asking if I wanted to review a book about a dog who encounters the Messiah, I was intrigued by the premise of a story about Jesus told from a dog's perspective. I wanted to see how the author would manage to write an entire book with a dog as his main character. Author Ron Marasco is a master storyteller who weaves an incredible, believable story about a dog named Barley who learns about forgiveness, loyalty, and unconditional love along life's journey in The Dog Who Was There. As I read The Dog Who Was There, I felt as though I was standing right beside Barley: my heart pounding as he faced fearful situations, my heart saddened as he dealt with heart-wrenching tragedies, and my heart cheered with joy as he triumphed. Ron Marasco not only has written a remarkable book that will keep you riveted until the end but also tells the crucifixion from a unique view that makes it more touching and personal than ever before. The Dog Who Was There is a must read for teens and adults alike.

Blurb from The Dog Who Was There:

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

Author Biography:

Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an Outstanding Book of 2008. His second book, About Grief, has been translated into multiple languages, and he is currently completing a book on Shakespeare’s sonnets. He has acted extensively on TV—from Lost to West Wing to Entourage to originating the role of Mr. Casper on Freaks and Geeks—and appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie Illusion, for which he also wrote the screenplay.  Most recently, he has played the recurring role of Judge Grove on Major Crimes. He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA.

The Dog Who Was There is available at CBD, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Our Week in Review - January 30 thru February 4

Another week of homeschooling is behind us. Some days, I feel like we've been very productive and accomplished much. Other days, I wonder where all of the time is flying quickly off to. Can you relate?

This week, we finished the Drive Thru History: American History series. My son was sad to see it come to an end as he loves learning with host Dave Stotts. He appreciates Dave's historical accuracy, Christian relevance, and downright silliness. A great combination for a fun learning experience. We also watched two episodes on Greece from the Drive Through History: Ancient History series in conjunction with a special unit we are doing on Greece utilizing Home School in the Woods. (Special note: A review of Home School in the Woods will be posted February 21st.)

For math, we continued our venture in Times Alive which helps reinforce multiplication facts in a fun way. Because my son has dyscalculia, he has had difficulty retaining math facts. Times Alive has helped. (Special note: A review of Times Alive will be posted on February 8th.)

In science, we have continued our study of animal science/biology. Yesterday, we watched the Imax film Born Wild and learned how human beings have been good stewards of animals who were in danger. Today, we are going to Oakes Museum of Natural History for a Curator Club 2 class on Raptors. We always enjoy our visits to the museums and learn many new things from Miss Beth and Miss Helena.

In drama, we will be returning to Messiah College tonight to watch their production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. One of the books from the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, this is one of our favorite series.

We're linking up with Homeschool Highlights:

We're also linking up to Blog and Tell:

Lastly, we're also linking up to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers: