Welcome

I’m glad you stopped by my blog.  Make yourself at home.  Start meandering by scrolling down…and you can peek into all my cupboards and closets by clicking the side bar.  I know you’ll find some strengthening articles, encouraging resources, fabulous-but-forgotten hymn texts, and perhaps a heartening smile or two.  Most importantly, I hope you’ll be strengthened in your walk with the Lord for the time you spend here with me.  If you do not yet know Him, please click here for a beautiful invitation.  To learn about how He changed my life, click here, and by clicking here you can find out a few more fun and forgettable snippets about me. 🙂

If I can do anything to be a further blessing to you, in prayer, or by improving my site, please let me know…or just write to say “Hi”!  Please click here for an email form.

Blessings ~Diane

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We Need Your Support–And It’s Easy!

nomorefingerpricksYesterday was the kick-off for Diabetes Awareness Month. I post lots of informative things each day to help inform on Facebook. THIS (below) IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ONES. Here’s why.

This is legit. It comes straight from the Dexcom office. Katie got a big package yesterday with #dexcomWarriors in big print on the front. This was inside. Here’s the deal…for every photo or video that is posted on Facebook with “@Dexcom” and the hashtag #nomorefingerpricks, Dexcom will donate $1 to Beyond Type 1! If all my friends on Facebook did this, that would be $714 donated! Imagine the possibilities if the readership of this blog fully engaged! This group has been amazingly supportive of us since the very beginning of our journey in 2016. I’m the parent advocate for Wyoming in their DKA Awareness Campaign.

So, this is effortless. Nearly everyone in my friends list knows how to take a selfie. Know how to write the letter “x”? Then you’re all set! Post a photo or video of yourself with an x on your index finger, tag Dexcom by putting the @ sign before the word Dexcom (with no space between) and include the hashtag #nomorefingerpricks in your post. That’s all. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! Oh, and I’ve made the privacy setting on this post Public so you can share. Make the privacy setting on your post Public as well so it can be viewed by Dexcom and count toward their totals.

I’d like to ask one more thing. Would you tag me in your post also? On Facebook, I am Diane Cannon Heeney. I’d love for Katie to see all those who are supporting this effort. Please?? 💙💙💙 Here’s to no more poking– #weneedacure

A simple hinge.

I love old architecture. There was a pride in craftsmanship years and centuries ago that has been sacrificed in a desire to have economical structures, built fast.

hinges

Something I have often marveled at is the attention to detail in such things as hinges.  The filigree on this painstaking 18th century work of art will only be seen when the door is ajar…and that may not be often.  Why spend such time on a seemingly inconsequential piece of hardware? Perhaps it was only that it was commissioned. I remember in my reading over the years, coming across an account of a carpenter who said it didn’t matter if any other human being saw the meticulous work he had secreted off in obscure corners…because God saw.

The secluded beauty of this hinge reminds me of this:

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Indeed, the work of select ancient craftsmen could be identified by such signature designs, peculiar elements for which they alone would be known. When our heart’s door is flung wide open, what is revealed? How has the Master Craftsman been attempting to beautify those hidden parts inside you? Give Him the glory as you “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.”

 

Acellus Academy/Power Homeschool Review– School at Home for Varied Needs

powerhomeschoolscreenshotI wanted to put this review on the blog (since we homeschool, it is part of our life journey…so periodically I’ll post reviews and other items) before my role on the Advisory Board for Power Homeschool becomes official. I didn’t want it at all to seem as if I had been paid to say what I want to share. We’ve been using the program for about a semester…I just realized I’d never written a review!

First, be aware that Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool are both secular in nature. So you will encounter some things like evolution in the courses. You will also, surprisingly enough, see biblical events and quotations alluded to from time to time; but it’s not part of any sort of religious slant. We plug in our own biblical world view in the form of Bible class, devotional reading, scripture copywork, and discussion.

I will say that I can’t offer much in the way of first-hand insight regarding Acellus Academy, since we’ve never used that option. It is an accredited program with certified teacher guidance, conducted online.  It is much the same as K12 Virtual Academy, although I’m not sure all the same stipulations are in place such as required vaccinations, adhering to a specific school calendar, etc.  For high school, two tracks are available…Standard, and Graduation with Honors. You can find out more here.

Also before I move on, for those wanting free education, Acellus Academy is being presented to various states across the US to be provided at no cost to the user via state approval and funding. It’s my understanding that our home state of Wyoming was the first to come on board for that option.  For those states not yet a part of that program, tuition per student is $249/month. If accreditation is important to you, then this is the option you’ll want to pursue.

Power Homeschool (recently renamed to distinguish it from the Academy) is available for the subscription cost of $25 per month (beginning August 1), per child. There are some savings if you enroll for a 12-month period at the price of $250 per child. Your membership can be paused at any time, and resumed at the click of a button with all your progress saved intact. In theory, the money you pay contributes toward covering the expenses of maintaining the site of course, and also serves to keep from requiring government funding for this portion of the company (which many subscribers felt strongly against), therefore preventing the public school system from dictating content and practice. This subscription provides you with your choice of 6 courses (core subjects plus electives–and they are currently asking for ideas for more courses to add!) per student. Included in the price are such parent-friendly tools as automatic grading (there are brief assessments after each “step” or lesson, plus tests), attendance records, printable progress reports and transcripts, and real time monitoring of your child’s progress. There’s a lot of bang for the buck.

Shows which class is being worked on

There are options in each grade level (from Pre-K through 12th) for Special Education classes. I’ve read testimonials of numerous parents experiencing great success with their children, dealing with everything from autism to dyslexia.  The AP courses which were previously available for the Homeschool option are now available only through the Academy.

The reason for this program’s success, apart from being extremely easy for parents to use, as well as very cost-effective, is how flexible the program is for nearly any homeschooling situation. You can choose a full load of classes, or just use the program for one if you wish. Another perk is that each subject has placement tests, and you can have flexibility in choosing which grade level each subject enrolled…so you may have your child enrolled in 5th grade Math or Science, but 6th grade Language Arts, to customize the content to your child’s current levels. You make your own schedule with Power Homeschool, and you decide how rigorous your calendar will be. Each “step” or video lesson (the classes are all in video format, taught by certified teachers–this aspect is important to some) is fairly brief, so if attention span is an issue, this is very helpful. I’ve personally started with two “steps” per day, per subject and then gradually increased the work load for our daughter.  Learning to take notes is a valuable skill and one that is vital to succeed well in any homeschool program, especially if a student plans to attend college.  We use LOTS of spiral notebooks and then the information is already there and has been reinforced when it comes time for tests and exams.

Speaking of assessments, you can opt out of these if you wish. For those unschoolers who want structure but are not keenly interested in GPA or regular evaluations, you can always opt for “tutor mode” for your class which enables you to skip lessons for content already covered/mastered as well as tests if preferred. The intuitive program will only include “steps” passed and the correlating assessment grades when averaging for GPA in tutor mode.  And you can indeed just use Power Homeschool for tutoring purposes, as has been the case in many public high school systems nationwide.  If it is important to you personally, or necessary legally, for you to have verification that an entire class has been completed with every jot and tittle checked off, you can print certificates once your student is finished with each course and that course will show as officially completed on the progress tab of the dashboard.  You can see your child’s progress at any time.

acellusscore

To enhance the Language Arts class (because I prefer some actual writing to be taking place in addition to what is done via screen time), I choose to supplement Power Homeschool with some additional spelling and grammar resources and printables via other online offerings like Schoolhouse Teachers, No Red Ink, Spelling City, and WordBuild.  I also periodically plug in some more interactive options for electives like art projects and music. I’ve used a few extras like Hoffman Academy for music and Everyday Easels for art. All of these items are free, with the exception of Schoolhouse Teachers (which you can try for only $5 for your first month here). These are just things I prefer to add for variety so that the entirety of our school day is not in one venue only. Power Homeschool can definitely be used as a stand-alone curriculum in its own right.

So, whether you want to tutor a hard subject, get an accredited (and possibly free) education, take a few courses to beef up your lesson plans, complete an entire grade level of documented curriculum, or choose classes to complete at your child’s pace and without the pressure of assessments, there is a “level of engagement” with Acellus Academy or Power Homeschool that is just right for you!

This program has helped our rising 7th grader to own her schooling, learn to self-educate, and thrive. Does it work? Here’s a Facebook post I made a few months in:

I smiled to myself the other day while driving to town with Katie. They were talking about moon phases on NPR, and how there had just been a “Waxing Gibbous” moon.

Katie: “Oh, that means we’ll have a full moon next.”
Me: “How did you know that??” (I didn’t know that!)

Apparently this was from her recent Acellus 6th grade science lesson. She’s learning something! She’s actually doing very well this semester, with a 3.52 GPA. Grateful to have her home when she has physically challenging days like today…she can still thrive in spite of it. 

Questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!

 

Redemptive Parenting (aka Sinners Teaching Sinners)–Guest Post by Stephen Dechert

mombiblekids

I think this is the perfect read for Christian parents at the dawn of a new school year. It will bring everything into alignment in answering the question, “Why am I doing this??”  If you’re questioning yourself (yet again) about homeschooling…or if you are a Christian non-homeschooler needing to renew your focus for those teachable moments at home, read on.

At the recent Homeschoolers of Wyoming Road Show in Lander, I had the privilege to hear Stephen Dechert deliver this encouraging message to the parents. It resonated with me deeply. I asked him if I could have the written transcript and he’s given me permission to post it here on the blog. I could call this my mission statement (the long version 😉 ). It helped to distill again for me why I’m doing what I’m doing as a Christian parent, and as a homeschooler (let’s face it, we are all home educators if we are doing this parenting thing biblically).

Here is the text in its entirety…I promise you won’t be sorry for the few minutes it takes to read it, and I guarantee the truths will echo in your heart.

Why do you homeschool?  What is it that you want your children to learn?  If our children graduate into this world and are asked by a reporter what is the single most important thing that they learned at home, what do you want their answer to be?  Have you thought about it?  As a parental team, are you in agreement about it? 

Whatever your personal or family goals, the reality is that in undertaking to homeschool our children we are taking upon ourselves the burden of imparting knowledge from a variety of fields in a way that is understandable and, hopefully, useable in one form or another.  Additionally, when we think about it, we want to pass on wisdom as well – that is, the ability to use the knowledge they have in ways that will benefit them and those around them in some fashion.

But what should undergird these things?  It should be said here that I am assuming the people reading this are Christians, those who have heard and believed the gospel of God through his Son Jesus Christ and have fled to him for repentance and reconciliation and found in him peace and eternal comfort.  Working from that assumption, then, we can freely admit as Christian homeschoolers, we often have another layer of knowledge and wisdom that we desire our children to apprehend, and that is a working understanding of the Scriptures and what they teach.  

From that basis, then, that we as Christians who homeschool have the desire to impart knowledge and wisdom to our children, of both secular and sacred things, using the Scriptures as a foundation, I would posit that there are two things we must understand and accept before we can move forward with homeschooling in a biblical and gospel-oriented manner.  For that is the point of this discussion – to promote a deeper understanding of what it means to orient ourselves according to the gospel as we seek to instruct our children in the way they should go.  In this there are two fundamental truths that we must accept before we can move forward.

The first thing that we as homeschooling parents need to recognize, and accept, is that we are teaching sinners.  Our children, wonderful as we may think them to be, are sinners.  We might write the glowing Christmas newsletters extolling their virtues, but we know, most of that is just fluff.  We may hold them up as paragons of virtue as we laud their diligent labors to master the lessons set before them when speaking with our neighbors, but we know, deep down, that they can be frustrating and difficult and sometimes they drive us crazy.

When we talk amongst ourselves, away from the watching world, we can admit that our children are often lazy and hard to motivate.  They struggle with disobedience.  Let’s be bluntly honest for a moment:  though we love our children and desire the best for them, we, of all people, see their sin most clearly.  They lie, they cheat, and they grumble, and they cut corners, and they complain, and they get angry, and they . . . fill in the blank.  After all, as Jeremiah points out, the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  We could go on and on, but there’s no need to, for the crux of the matter is this:  the reality we need to face in homeschooling is that we are trying to instruct sinful human beings with an inherent sin nature and a flesh that wars with the spirit, as the apostle Paul says in Romans.

But as we consider that reality, we must also come to grips with the second fundamental, and that is we as homeschooling parents need to recognize, and accept, that we are sinners ourselves.  The indictment of Scripture against our children is the indictment against us as well.  ALL have sinned.  ALL have fallen short.  ALL have earned death as the wages for their sin.  We may be a bit wiser, one would hope, but we are still sinners.  We may have more knowledge and experience, but we still transgress the commands of God.  We may be able to impart wisdom and understanding, but there is still, and always will be, this side of glory, that taint of sin that Paul speaks of in Romans 7, that continual struggle between spirit and flesh. 

And so we need to accept that, just that our children will not always pay attention, neither will we always instruct perfectly; where our children will not always obey, we will not always discipline correctly; they will fail and we will fail; they will be angry and we will be angry; and everyone will, at times, say and do things we wish we didn’t.  But this is life as a sinner.  This is the struggle of the apostle in Romans 7.  And while the answer to that struggle is given in chapter 8, that is, the gospel of Jesus Christ that can save us from this wretched body, the truth is that even as those who have been saved, this side of glory we will still and always struggle with sin.

Now I point these two things out this morning, not to bring everyone down or to spend our time focused on our sin – not at all.  I point these two things out so that we can admit the truth of who we are, and then move on to embrace the greater truth that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the key.  It is the key to our sin, it is the key to the sin of our children, and the key to our homeschooling, it is, truly, the key to all of life.  So many believers look to the gospel as a one-time thing – believe and you’re in.  Then they spend the rest of their lives trying to please God and live according to his precepts thinking the gospel opened the door and now it’s up to them.

But that is not the way of the Scriptures.  The gospel is the well that never runs dry from which we must drink deeply and often; the gospel is that which proclaims forgiveness to us every time we sin; the gospel is that which gives strength to resist temptation; the gospel is that which brings comfort in the midst of intense struggle; the gospel is that which offers hope when all hope seems lost; the gospel is that which imparts to us the glorious truth that Christ himself has begun a good work in us and Christ himself will see it through to the very end, he is the author AND the finisher of our faith.

This truth should then inform, indeed, it should be the bedrock of all that we do, all that we say, all that we are, all that we teach.  For when we look to the power of God offered to us in and through the gospel, then we find the confidence and freedom necessary to homeschool our children in a way that shapes mind AND heart as we prepare them to live in this sinful world.

And it is a sinful world.  Part of why this is crucial is that we need to understand that we are not protecting our children from the evil or wicked influences of the world, but are training them to live in a sinful world biblically.  For evil and wickedness already lie within their hearts.  James 1:13–15 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  The world cannot and will not corrupt our children any more than they already are.  And so we need to reframe our model of homeschool – not as a place that keeps them isolated from our perception of sin, but as a place that teaches them how to deal with their own sin, by fleeing to the cross of Christ and looking to him in faith; and as a place that teaches them to find their strength and hope in that same gospel message as they go out to live amongst an evil generation.

But it also allows us the freedom to teach them and train them imperfectly.  By that I mean that we will never get it exactly right, but that’s OK!  We need not worry about picking the exact right curriculum, because there isn’t one.  What’s right this year might not be next year.  And that’s OK.  We need not fret over college entrance tests, or agonize that they may not choose college, or despair that we didn’t teach this or that as fully as we should have, or worry that our children don’t have enough social interaction.  These things are, truly, peripheral to the heart of the matter.  We cannot do better on our own, or try harder, or pick the right curriculum, or even, at the end of the day, protect our children from the influence of the world in a way that will make an actual difference apart from the gospel.

But it is precisely here, as we understand the gospel, that we will find peace and comfort in this: that if our children understand the things that matter, if they have been given the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection for their sin, if they have seen the gospel modeled in their parents – in forgiveness and reconciliation – if they have been taught the things of the Lord, then they will be well equipped to face the world, for they will have been given all things, as Peter says, pertaining to life and godliness in the gospel of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For we must not let our success, and that of our children, be defined by the world, but by the Word of God.  And if they know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified, then they know everything.  The Apostle Paul said that very thing in 1 Corinthians 2:2–7 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  Then, as he goes on to say in vv. 6-7, among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

In pursuit of this goal, to impart that hidden wisdom of God revealed in the gospel of his Son, to ensure that our children have heard the glorious news of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ, many Christians have rediscovered the value of creeds, confessions, and catechisms.  As someone who has utilized the Three Forms of Unity, that is, the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort, I would like to offer the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism, written in 1563, as a possible way to codify our homeschool goals as Christians.

The question asked is this: What is your only comfort in life and in death? And the answer is this: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.

I would posit that if we can answer this question in such a manner with the full assurance of faith, then no matter our choice of curricula, no matter our failings in instruction, no matter our struggles with discipline, we will, by the grace of God, succeed in our role as parents and teachers, for we will have imparted to them that which truly matters. 

I would posit that if our children can answer this question in such a manner with the full assurance of faith, then no matter their lot in life, no matter what path they may take, wherever they may live, and whatever they may choose to do, then they, by the grace of God, will succeed in life, for they will know that which truly matters.

May the Lord richly bless you as you seek to serve him as sinners teaching sinners in and through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, strengthened by his Holy Spirit, to the eternal glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Stephen Dechert is the Pastor of Providence Reformed Community Church in Riverton. He is also serving as chaplain at the Wyoming Honor Farm.

Beating First World Syndrome

entitledDo your kids ever manifest symptoms of First World Syndrome? Recent generations of young people have been groomed to have a certain sense of entitlement about them. That something is owed them.  That they deserve more. An expectation of accolades, convenience, and ease. It is grievous and unkind to cultivate this. Suspect there are some kids in your circle of influence who have this condition? Here are some practical questions to help you decide:

  • Do they have SO much, and still want more?
  • They have more, but they wanted a different more?
  • Do their expectations indicate little realistic comprehension of the cost of living?
  • Are they unable to find satisfaction in small gestures?
  • Challenging for them to survive without electronics without withdrawal?
  • Clueless as to how to constructively occupy themselves when there is “nothing to do”?
  • Are they unhappy with generic brands?
  • Do they sit in the car when you go to yard sales or consignment shops?
  • Not adept at mastering the art of waiting (in line anywhere, for a package in the mail, for a Hot Pocket to finish cooking, by saving money over a long period for something special, for their meal to arrive at a restaurant)?
  • Speaking of restaurants…have they lost the sense of novelty in going out to eat?
  • Manifesting a grousing attitude when they don’t have what so and so has, or the newest/best/fastest thing available?
  • Those old enough to hold a job…complaining about duties they don’t particularly enjoy?
  • Exceedingly talented at letting the water run, taking hour-long showers, and wasting resources?
  • Hiking up the electric bill with the loaded fridge door open, proclaiming there is “nothing to eat”?
  • Grumbling attitude about chipping in and sharing the load with household chores?

I could go on, but you get the idea.  We live in a country that is comparatively very wealthy and full of privilege for its citizens. A country where, at any given grocery store there is an entire aisle of breakfast cereals, and another full of pet food. Think of that.

cereals

It’s time parents stepped up and behaved as parental beings. “No” is not a dirty word. Having our kids earn things is important, not only for establishing a good work ethic, but to learn the value of things and amp up the sense of gratitude and stewardship for what they have.

We are all prone to complain from time to time, but we don’t need to feed that attitude of discontentment. We need to combat it. It was hard wired into the human heart with the Fall. The apple’s always redder on the other side of the Garden, you know.

How do we suit up as parents against this First World Syndrome? Some ideas (and I’d love to hear yours below):

  • Fasting from electronics. It’s amazing the creativity that can surface (it might make clean ups more frequent…just a heads up).  Here’s a free “I’m Bored Jar” post to help!
  • Taking a trip to a 3rd World country. #immenserealitycheck
  • If the above is not possible, take them to an impoverished location for a long, hard look. When I took a trip to Atlanta with our youngest, she saw folks living on the street, living in boxes. This was no longer fictional part of some TV show…they are real people. Now there is a point of reference for being grateful simply for a warm, safe place to live.
  • Teach them to repair things, not just toss and buy new. This will carry over into their relationships as well.
  • Serving the unfortunate (soup kitchens, food banks, etc.)…and not just as a token guest appearance.
  • Have them write a list of things…specific things….that they are grateful for on a regular basis.  Here is a free gratitude journal for kids!
  • Teach them to budget early (I do this in our schooling when they start middle school), so they have an awareness of the cost of living. This sheds new light on the blessing of yard sales and second hand stores…suddenly “more bang for the buck” is an appealing concept. Here’s a free budgeting game if you want to try it with your kids.
  • Make them do chores to earn money for extras like computer games. Don’t settle for half-done chores…you are training them for their future employer. If you need help with chore charts, here’s a great free resource.
  • Teach clever ways to repurpose/upcycle everything from cast off clothes to leftovers in the fridge.
  • Have them thoughtfully make a list of their wants vs. needs.
  • When they have a car, let them fill the tank.
  • Don’t pile on accolades for generally expected behavior. That future employer won’t give trophies and ribbons for being on time, cleaning up after themselves, or not cutting corners. We shouldn’t teach them to expect it. Teach them to glorify God in all things. In the end, they’ll give account to Him.

There is so much more I could say on this. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Without sounding all doom and gloom, harder times are coming. We want our kids to have survival skills, to remain grounded, so that basic daily needs are attainable and they are not caught like that deer in the headlights. Because when things get tougher, the biggest needs will be heart needs. The true condition of the soul is revealed in technicolor when the body is denied.  We want our kids to be equipped to face all of this with confidence. To learn to work hard even when no one is looking, just like that industrious ant in Proverbs.

Speaking of Proverbs, I’ll end on this note. Moms, that lady in Proverbs 31 was said to be industrious, strong, honorable…she showed her kids what it looked like to work hard and work well (Prov. 31:24,25) and therefore she was well prepared for the future and not intimidated by it (v. 26). Let’s show our kids what this looks like too…so much more is “caught than taught”.

So what’s your first step in modeling the right example for the children in your home today? Cultivating a thankful spirit (1 Thess 5:18) in all circumstances is something I’m working on. You too? Here is a cute, free printable gratitude journal for you!