Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent - Gifts

I am joining up with Trish over at A House Upon the Rock to blog regularly over Advent.

GIFTS by Elizabeth Herr

Imagine this as a possible monologue occurring in Mary’s mind after the angel Gabriel left her: 

“Mother of Jesus? Mother of the Son of God? Far out! ME?! What will Joseph say? And my mother? God, WHY did you pick me? There is so much in my life…oh, God, thank you! What an honour!...... but will they believe me? …. What do I need to get? Clothes, baby monitor…… I found favour with God…that’s what the angel said isn’t it? WOW! …. Mother of Jesus!. Me….. But what if I don’t do it right? I’m just plain me ... ” 

Mary – an ordinary girl from Galilee with an extra-ordinary call on her life. A gift from God to the world.

Mary did not instantly become a mother. It was a process and there was time for preparation. As you enter this time of preparation for Christmas think of what God has called YOU to do. Inside you is a gift…. a gift from God to the world (those around you) through you!! Take a moment and consider…. WHAT gift does God have for the world through YOU? Mary most likely felt overwhelmed (to put it mildly). Thinking of the gift inside you, you might feel overwhelmed too, but as with Mary, God will be with you. He will guide you and pour His grace into you. We serve an amazing God who fully understands human emotions because He became fully human. God has more gifts for the world – through each one of us. Not because we are great, but because He is and so that He can be glorified through us. If you think that nothing will be ‘lost’ if you don’t answer to God’s call, think again….what if Mary said “NO”??? 

Prayer: Lord, as we prepare for the celebration of Your birth we tenderly recall that You came to be God with us – Emmanual. Thank You that You understand our fears and our failings. Help us to use the many gifts you’ve given us and to say “yes” to You when you call us to step out of our comfort zone and follow You. 

The account of the angel’s visit to Mary can be found in Luke 1:26-38

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A reflection on Intercessory Prayer by John Contoveros

Chase Oaks Church hosts a free daily Bible devotional over at their site called VERTICAL which I enjoy reading and sometimes write for. 

Here is the devotional for today. 

Focus text is from: 1 Timothy 2:1-8 

Intercessory prayer is simply the act of praying for others. We have an amazing privilege to enter into God’s presence and speak with Him on behalf of Christians and non-Christians alike. Just as my children should feel free to speak with me openly and honestly, we can speak to God our Father without reservation. Just as children should feel free to ask anything of their parents, the Lord wants us to approach Him freely with all that is on our hearts, even if we don’t know what to say. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul urges Timothy to make “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for all people.” Although he refers to “all people,” it’s interesting to note he especially mentions those who are in authority. He follows by stating that God wants all people “to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” This is a good model of how we should pray for those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Of course, we can also intercede for others regarding health issues, emotional and financial needs, guidance, wisdom, etc. As we pray or intercede, it’s good to keep in mind that Christ Jesus is the mediator for us (verse 5). He stands before God the Father and presents our requests to Him. In Romans 8:26 we also read, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” We have an amazing privilege and responsibility to participate in God’s work here on earth through prayer. With the Lord as our mediator and the Spirit as our helper, we cannot fail . . . unless we don’t pray. 

About the Author : John Contoveros I became a Christian in 1972. The intercessions of many Christians have upheld me over the years. I cannot imagine what life would be like for me and my family (Debbie, Timothy, Christina and Elizabeth) without these prayers. Thank you, Lord, for the prayers and intercessions of your faithful children.


It's been officially too long since my last post. Although many things have happened (well in my mind anyway), it is a sad excuse for the absolute absence of any new words on this blog!

I've had some withdrawals due to the fact that I am taking a sabbatical from reviewing homeschool products at the moment, but it has freed me up to do some more reading.

One of the books which I have read is THINK BIG by Ben Carson M.D.

Dr. Ben Carson is the author of the highly acclaimed GIFTED HANDS.

THINK BIG is the inspiring autobiography of an amazing, God-fearing man. 

People often think that those who are successful come from successful backgrounds or money ... or both. (At least what the world considers to be successful.) It is also often thought that those from a low socio-economic class have little to no chance of becoming great and successful. Unfortunately, often people who live in these situations sadly believe this of themselves.  

This could not be further from the truth for Benjamin Carson, who in 5th grade was at the very bottom of his class. Although, at the time he might have thought that he was not going to amount to much, his mother thought differently. 

The following is an excerpt from the Johns Hopkins website that describes Benjamin Carson's current situation:

"Dr. Benjamin Carson is the Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Carson focuses on traumatic brain injuries, brain and spinal cord tumors, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, craniosynostosis, epilepsy and trigeminal neuralgia. He is also interested in maximizing the intellectual potential of every child. An internationally renowned physician, Dr. Carson has authored over 100 neurosurgical publications, along with three best-selling books, and has been awarded 38 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations."

So how did he go from 'class dummy' in 5th grade to neurosurgeon? 

It all started with reading two books a week and a single, hardworking, God-fearing  mother who never gave up on her boys. 

If you feel discouraged or lost motivation or feel that life's dealt you a bad hand, then rush to the bookshop or library and get  your hands on a copy of this! NOW! READ it, then come back here and tell me what you thought of it.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Prayer Request

Dear friends,
How quickly things change. I was just saying on Monday night that we are enjoying an incident free time with no immigration issues, so.....
We just got a letter from immigration via the lawyer stating that their medical advisor wants mum to have further, specialised investigations done. This is frustrating in one sense as it will potentially cost a lot of money and depending on their opinion can negatively affect mum's residence application. I am still trusting God (holding on for dear life) for a positive outcome because my God is bigger than all this. Mum is taking this hard as it is yet another issue in a long series of ongoing hold-ups. 
Please pray for 1) faith and peace as we walk this land between, 2) wisdom that mum will see the right people, 3) it will be free if at all possible, 4) and that the outcome of any and all tests will be favourable for mum's residence application.

On a positive note; this does indicate to us that immigration is in fact processing mum's application while we still wait for the birth certificate to arrive.

Thanks heaps!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TOS Review - WRITE SHOP Junior Book D - with a discount!


DISCLAIMER: The following is a review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free, downloadable copy of the WriteShop Junior Book D program, to use with my kids in exchange for my personal opinion of this product. I did not receive any other compensation.

As with any review, my opinion is one of many. Please visit the Crew's Blog to read more reviews of this and other products of WriteShop.

I was very excited to be able to review this Incremental Writing Program and it did not disappoint.

As part of the Crew, I received the WriteShop Junior Book D for my children. I received the downloadable product, which I received in a ZIP file. It was easy to download, without any technical difficulties.

Amanda Pelser’s wrote a tutorial on using WriteShop e-books on an iPad. 

This product is aimed at Grades 3-5 and even reluctant 6 Graders. Other Crew Members reviewed WriteShop Primary Books A, B and C, aimed at Grades K-3.

The aim of WriteShop is: 
'WriteShop Junior is designed for parents to work closely with their grade 3-6 children, guiding them toward writing independence. Through activities and exercises, you teach the creative process of writing so your child has the skills and confidence to successfully complete each writing assignment. WriteShop Junior equips children with specific tools they need to develop the ability to write effectively. Whether you have a more advanced child or one who is a slower learner, this program is flexible so students can work at their own level.'

When I looked at the Teacher's Guide (42 page .pdf), I was impressed. It provides you as parent / teacher with several different Lesson Plan options to fit your specific situation. Detailed descriptions of all the materials you'll need for each lesson are clearly set out. It gives ideas for a writing centre, and explains all the different activity sets for each lesson in detail. 

In addition to the Teacher’s Guide, I received:

Book D Teacher's Manual - This manual contains .pdf files for each lesson (10 all up) as well as extra resources.
Book D Activity pack (144 page .pdf), which includes the Fold-N-Go Grammar Pack and Student Worksheet Pack. 
Time-Saver Pack (24 page .pdf)

Here is a list of what is being taught in WriteShop Junior.

The Manual

The manual included .pdf files for each lesson. Each lesson is laid out in detail so that you as parent don't have to reinvent the wheel. Just follow the ideas and prompts in the lesson plan and teaching writing would not only be easier, but fun for you and the kids.

The Lessons

Each lesson takes 2 - 3 weeks to complete, depending on the plan you follow. The lessons are divided into 8 sections. The lessons also have a sample script you can follow in explaining and guiding your child through each lesson.

As I was given the eBook version of this product, I printed the lessons, activity sheets needed and the relevant pages from the Time-Saver Pack before we started. 

Each lessons starts with a 'Fold-N-Go' Grammar activity. This is a fantastic tool that is made for each child during each lesson (or that they make themselves). At the end, your kids will sit with 10 folders which will serve as grammar tools to aid in their writing, helping with punctuation, self-editing, rules for writing Titles, and more. The Fold-N-Go activity for Lesson 2 has some interesting tips in how to make editing fun, like wearing a special hat. The kids had a fun time with that. When editing, they would wear their 'editors hat' and read their work in a funny voice. 


One of the pre-writing activities in Lesson 1 was to play a game where 3 very different invitations are cut up into different sections (date, salutations, body, closing and signature). Each person chose a 'body' and the rest of the sections were turned upside down and all mixed up. Everyone then took turns in picking up one section to complete the invitation. The kids enjoyed this activity very much, and we've played it more than once, twice, three .... well, a lot.

Each lesson has a writing project to complete, edit and publish. The project for lesson 1 was writing an 'invitation' and lesson 2 was writing 'fiction with humor'. For lesson 2, the kids came up with a funny story about my mum and cleaning. We typed it up, made props and then performed it for her. Lots of laughs in-between reading the script made it all the more funny. Mum thoroughly enjoyed it!

It was easy to follow the two-week lesson plan to get through the lessons we've done so far. 

The Time-Saver Pack 

I found this a great extra resource as it is filled with pre-made printouts of what you need for the different activities. If you like to make your own resources, you have the option of doing so, otherwise, just click and print! 

We are enjoying this program immensely. The team at WriteShop (read more about them HERE), did an outstanding job of putting together all the resources needed to teach this program, which is fun and of high quality. I can recommend this to anyone who is looking for a writing program that you will enjoy teaching and the children will enjoy learning. Thumbs up all around!

If you are keen to have a further look at the lessons, please visit this lesson page for a free download and an option to receive a monthly e-newsletter

The 'bottom line'

WriteShop has various excellent writing programs available for kids Grades K through to High School. 

WriteShop Junior Book D would cost you:

Teacher's Guide 
  • eBook - US$34.95
  • Print Edition - US$39.95

Activity Pack
  • eBook - US$29.95
  • Print - US$39.95

Time-Saver Pack
  • eBook - US$13.95
  • Print - US$13.95

Visit their product page to see prices for all their products. 

On top of the amazing product, the fabulous team at WriteShop is offering readers of my blog a special discount:

15% off any WriteShop Primary and Junior products in the WriteShop store (including e-books) 

Just use coupon code CREW15 at checkout. 

Offer valid through June 15, 2012.

Do yourself and your kids a favor, and have a look at this fantastic product!