Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas is Just About Here!

We have had lots of busyness and more is to come over then next day or so. Our oldest will work  two separate shifts tomorrow and then much of the day on Saturday. I am proud of him. Someone took his shift so he could be at Church this week, and he wants to return the favor.  This is such a blessing. We were able to get Dear Son 2's epi-pens today!    GREAT! He was very emotional about it. I think we were, too. He takes this allergy very seriously.
We are seeing God work in so many ways in our life as a family and in our lives as individuals. He wants to work in everyone's lives. He loves us all, and wants all of us to belong to Him. 

Hubby is looking forward to next week. He always says that his favorite week of the year is the week between Christmas and New Year's.  It is his time for reflection and planning. I am looking forward to getting ready for the new semester, home schooling and otherwise. I also hope to do some stitching and crocheting. More than anything, I want some time with the family.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


This has to be my favorite yet of all the newer L.M.  Montgomery collection covers.  Lucy Maud wrote so many short stories, and various editors have collected them over the years into a nice set of books which reflect the themes of those particular stories. This volume deals with letters and letter-writing, one of my favorite things in all of the world. How different would we be today if we wrote letters and stayed off of the internet? I am old enough to remember when long-distance telephone calls were expensive and rare!  Now, many carry around in their pockets an instant means of contacting anyone anywhere ---without waiting for the "rates to go down."  But, there really is something different about taking the time to write a letter. And isn't it wonderful to receive them?

This is a stock photo of some of Lucy Maud's other works.  I have these, having collected them over the years from used book stores. We stopped at one on the way back from visiting the family at Thanksgiving. I found quite a few including Across the Miles, Magic for Marigold, and At the Altar.

Most of the ones I find are in the 50 cent - $1.50 range. That makes me very happy. I have seen these on Amazon for quite a bit more than that.  I am pleased with my collection, and am always surprised at how much she actually wrote. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

This is Great!

Last night, we were scattered, more or less, with different things. Dear daughter is visiting a former student in South Georgia with one of the music professors from the college. DS 1 was at work. He is thrilled because one of his co-workers, another TMU grad student and faculty-kid, loves The Andy Griffith Show. They spend a lot of time in the back working and talking about Andy, Barney, Aunt Bea and the gang. We have been watching a lot of that this week. As a matter of fact, when we were waiting for Dad to leave at the college yesterday, John Thomas and I sat and watched "Gomer the House Guest" on the computer. We know every word, but laugh out loud every time.
Supper time was just the three of us left at home, Dad, James Martin and me. We had hot dogs, home made macaroni and cheese and chilli for the dogs. Not nutritious, but tasty.
We then pulled out this game we have had for some time. We haven't played in a while.  It is really, really fun.  The board itself is exceptionally pretty, and the tiles are a different color than the regular edition's.  You can earn extra points by using book titles (or portions thereof), author's names (first or last--but you have to say the entire name), and even quotes. I think you could adapt this approach with ANY edition you have.  It might work well with any homeschool subject you're working on--we have used the "Banana grams" for themed games (including Bible character and place names).
Hope your evening was wonderful, too. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

An Encouraging Encounter

Last week, one of my former students came to "guest lecture' in a history class.  She graduated with an English degree and has done some exciting things with writing and editing.  I had no idea  what she would talk about--my guess was maybe something about the literature of the era being taught in the course.  But she surprised me by talking about the value of reading and how that skill is rapidly being lost. I was stunned and pleased beyond measure.  The students listened politely and I think much of what she said resonated with several of them. The best part of the day though was when my student came down to my office and talked with me and another student about reading choices.  The girls, Marla and Hannah, were both home-schooled.  Their mothers watched over them carefully with regard to what they read and watched.  As young adults, they are equipped to make the right choices. A little while after Marla left, Virginia (our daughter)  joined the conversation with Hannah and me. They all seem to speak a common language.  They all like a wide variety of reading--Austen, science-fiction, fantasy and historical fiction.  But these girls are all aware of how to be discerning--Marla and Hannah were lamenting a book they read where the heroine made the wrong moral choice at the end of the story. The girls recognized that an opportunity was lost by this conclusion.  Realistic, certainly. But what are we looking for in literature? Realism? Probably not. Inspiration? Absolutely. Our girls will be inspired one way or the other by what they read, what they listen to, and what they watch.

As mothers, we want our children to develop the skill (and gift) of discernment -- as always, Scripture lights our path:

Be encouraged, Christian mother.  Your influence is being felt. 
God bless you as you prayerfully guide them through their home education. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

We're Still in the "we'll see" Stage, but Things are Getting Better

Yesterday, we received a call from Home Depot with some encouraging news with an extremely kind gesture attached.  They want us to go ahead and allow the same agency/contractor to do the work on the installation with the proviso that there are different individuals involved (including the owner/supervisor, I think). The very nice woman from HD said to go in and pick out a stove--the stove will be installed free; the cabinet work will be free; the $69 measuring fee will be taken off, the cabinets will be fixed for free, AND we will be given a check from HD for $200 for our difficulties. All we had to do was to go in and pick out our model. When we went in to do so, the very kind man said we would have to have some measurements taken. We told him we had been through that; he could not find them on the computer. But after some patient phone calls, all was found, and we picked out a new stove. Talking to him was a blessing. The one I originally liked yesterday was a traditional electric with the old-fashioned burners; i.e., it was not a flat top. It was the least expensive of all the models, but looked really, really good. Sometimes all of the "bells and whistles" simply amount to more that can go wrong.  My eye roved a bit to the flat top.  The salesman actually said that he used the one I had first picked out, and that it was great for him and his wife. (The oven itself is a little bigger than most, but the overall measurement fits in perfectly with our slot).  He also said that he preferred the traditional over the flat top because you cannot use cast iron on the flat top!    WOW!  I love cooking with my iron skillet.  I was so happy to know that! Plus, I felt like we had an honest salesman who wasn't trying to sell us the most expensive product in the showroom.  We have a delivery date, and next we have to get an installation date. That will be the big deal day in our household. No one realized how much I cook in the oven itself until it was unavailable. We are thrilled.  I am still in the "we'll see" mindset, but what I have seen is how the Lord takes us through these little bumps in the road.  Our van has been in the shop 4 times in just about that many weeks, and the best they can do is to tell us that they don't know what is wrong. Michael gets so very upset about car issues--and yesterday, it wouldn't crank again right after we left the dealership. But we managed to get her going with some Supernatural assistance. Other little things around the house are falling into place as well. Michael said that the difficulties of the last few weeks taken individually would be easily manageable, but having them all at one time has weighed us down in mind and spirit. But again, I can see the Lord at work, and I have felt the Presence of the Holy Spirit even more strongly. I love to read Jesus' words about the Holy Spirit in the King James Bible:
And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. 
John 14;16

Whatever trials and bumps in the road you face this week, remember that the Comforter is with you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Here We Are

We arrived at our destination yesterday, and we are all very content. We will be heading out tomorrow. The apartments we used to stay in have been renovated and all of the kitchen appliances have been removed. We were able to get the same rate in some of the hotel-like facilities. I have a nice desk, and Michael has a veranda, complete with rocking chairs and a nice breeze. The rooms have a little refrigerator, so ours is loaded with carbonated beverages. I have consumed my weight in chocolate-covered peanuts, and loved every minute of it. 
There is a "fellowship room" on the floor, complete with a TV. John Boy and I watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!  
We ate breakfast in the cafeteria this morning, and it was WONDERFUL! I think Dad is hoping for gravy in the morning (they had grits this morning).
Simple pleasures are the best. 
Family is better still.
Hope your day is peaceful and restful. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

John Sloane Says It Best

Road Trip . . .  We have some dear friends who are on an adventure, and we will be as well . . . in a different part of the same lovely state.  They're on the beach side--we'll be on the apple orchard side. I think it is funny that the highlight of this particular trip is shaping up to be our visits to two orchards, one that shares our family's last name! I'd better start getting together my recipes for applesauce.
This last week has been a week of continuing challenges. Every time we think we're out of the woods, something else happens. We went to Home Depot yesterday to try to file a claim on the damage done. Dear daughter had some pictures that we had printed.  They were very nice to us, but perhaps not as solicitous as I would have liked. Hubby didn't call back the contractor--he wants to see what HD will do.  We all feel a little funny about those men being back in the house. 
I don't think I have mentioned in a post about our recent bout dealing with head lice. It is not a topic you want everyone to know about. We have pretty much traced the source of the exposure, and it is just ONE OF THOSE THINGS. I had this problem just before Dear Daughter was born, and it was out of control for weeks. This time hasn't been nearly as bad. She and I are the only two in the family who have had them, so that's the good news. She has helped one of her friends with the problem. She went to Wally world to help her pick out her "weapon" and then she helped her with the actual process of getting them out.  She has watched as another "friend" has pretty much turned her back on her, saying unkind things and moving her seat in class.   Tough times will show what people are made of. Our prayer has been that this experience will help us always to be kind and empathetic to anyone going through it. When we went to the drug store to look at treatment options, we were told that the schools were overwhelmed with the outbreaks this year. 
I can see how my previous encounter with these little monsters 18 years ago has helped on this occasion. When you're going through something difficult, never discount how it might help you in the future, or how it might help someone else.
We are so grateful for that "sanitize" cycle on the dryer!
We are also grateful that John Boy has the week off from The Chicken House so that we can go on our Road Trip. "His eye" is truly on His sparrows. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What's on the Bookshelf Today?

The White Mountain Company makes some of the most intricate and colorful of all puzzles. I have a couple (which remain in their boxes) that I would love to one day complete. Here is a shot of one of their new ones-I love it. They are good about having nostalgic images and scenes.  We have a "reading room" downstairs in the basement. I would love to have a table for puzzles in there. We have a table--we just have to move some things around to get it 'situated.'  No little kitty cats would be jumping up on the table, scattering the pieces.
Things are calming down ever so slightly here at the ranch. I am hoping that this upcoming week off from classes will help us get our thoughts collected. Michael is trying to arrange for our annual getaway to Ridgecrest. We are hoping that it will be a bit cooler than the temps are here, although this morning when we took out the dogs, there did indeed seem to be a hint of a nip in the air.
I wanted to mention that one of our newer professors in the English department is taking the marvelous step of requiring her EN 102 course students to read Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. This thrills me to my toes!  The kids today don't read, and if they do read anything of any length, it has to be a paranormal romance or Harry P. Now, this work by Dickens is not light and cheery reading, but it is a fabulous historical novel that will require them to think and to understand.  We never read it as a family, and I wish we had. John Boy and I are going to read The Pickwick Papers. We read A Christmas Carol just about every year together (all of us). I have tried to read Bleak House. I watched a portion of the Masterpiece Theater production and read (armed with the Cliffs notes to guide me through the web of characters). I did not finish, but want to do so. That would be a good Christmas break project. Anyway, I am so proud of Mrs. A for choosing this title!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

We Need That Big Bottle

One of my favorite of the oils is the Anxiety Ease and do we need a big bottle this week!!!!! There are issues that aren't really best for posting on a public forum, but some I can.  Home Depot, after much delay, put us in contact with the contractors who would measure for the stove. They came yesterday, and it was all downhill from there. They came in, pulled out my stove, tore holes in the countertop on either side of the stove (and said it was my fault because it was greasy). They initially parked behind John Thomas who needed to get out to go the chicken house. They very happily moved, and as I found out later, knocked over our neighbor's mailbox and crushed her Autumn display. I didn't know that until after they left. I looked out and saw the damage and went over to talk with her. She saw them leave and go up the road to turn around (it was a big truck). She stopped them and asked them what happened, knowing they most likely had done the deed. They proceeded to tell her that they saw "the son" do it and drive away. I think of all the things that bothered me about yesterday, that was the worst. Michael drove up to the chicken house to talk with him--there was of course, no damage to his car. And he saw it happen. He went on to work because he assumed they would tell someone. I know John Boy would have moved heaven and earth to tell me or our neighbor if he had been responsible. 
Michael called the agency that sent them out for Home Depot. They were appalled, but let's see what happens. He told them those two men were not to come back into our home. 

Today is chapel at school, and the kids are faithful to attend. It is also a good morning.  for us to stay home together. I proposed this idea to M, and he said, "yes, we need to circle the wagons."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Eden's Garden

I want to share with you something we have discovered as a family. In the homeschool community, there has been  tremendous surge in popularity of "essential oils."  I had no understanding of what they are nor was I anything but skeptical when hearing others talk about them. There are several different companies--Do Terra, Young Living, and Eden's Garden are among the most popular in this community.  I like Eden's Garden because of their Christian base, and they are modestly priced. They have recently added a line of products based for kids but that can be used by adults as well. Each of these little bottles are about $6--less if you get them in a set.  You can also purchase these oils in a roller bottle format.  There seemed to be an oil for each of our childrens' needs.  
John Thomas is always struggling with getting to sleep--he has one for helping with sound sleep.
Virginia has her migraine issues, triggered, I think by fatigue. She has one called "head-o-sore-us"  It has really helped her. She rolls it over her forehead when she starts feeling bad.  James Martin (and Mom) have the one called "Focus, Focus, Focus." It is designed to help with staying focused on whatever you're doing, particularly reading or studying. I have also purchased these in the form of the oils to out into their diffusers. 
At first, we were all skeptical, but everyone is enjoying these essential oils.  They are helping. Virginia went on an overnight trip with the college last night, and she took her rollerball. 
I am thrilled that we seem to have found a way to deal with some issues without medication. 
If you are looking for something that smells wonderful, doesn't cost much at all (free shipping) and might just lift your spirits, try them out. Here is the link Eden's Garden
p.s. I don't sell this product, nor am I promoting for any compensation--just wanted to share the blessing of these oils with my readers. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What is it they say . . .

about "a picture being worth 1,000 words"?  The picture you see above is a wonderful depiction of life in the house of Justus these days.  I have no complaints other than being so busy I don't know who is where or why. Everyone is happy in their respective orbits--John Boy is getting some good hours at work, and managing to keep up well with his school work. JM is loving the library and the fact ESPECIALLY that he is working toward a career.  Dearest daughter is having the time of her life with music, friends and school work. She has two of her favorite professors this semester, her Dad and Dr. Young.  (All of our kids will have minors in H. Walton Young). 
My concerns are not in the way of complaints. I just feel like time is more than ever getting away from us. The good side of the problem is that time together seems to be more dear rather than taken for granted.  I was hoping we would get to watch the season premier last night of Wheel of Fortune, but it wasn't to be. That's ok, though--here's what I did get to do:

1. Work on our Bible study with JM--it is one of the Rod and Staff workbook studies. 
2. Talk with John Thomas about life while we walked the dogs. We also sat at the kitchen table as he wolfed down about 10 oreos. It was GREAT! 
3. IVE sat on my lap a little while (quite a sight to see) while we looked at blogger posts. Plus, she is doing A Beka math with Dad every day. That has been a blessing ALL the way around. 
4. Have a nice meal around the table together. We had the family favorite--chicken salad sandwiches, chipolte ranch pasta salad and broccoli (well, 2 outta three ain't so bad), and I had a two-liter of Coke zero that topped it all off. 

What is it they say?

There's no place like home . . . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Busy Week

This is VBS week, a time of year Michael has always called "the most important week of the year." We are working in partnership with another Church who has people, children and resources that we do not.  They are between pastors and were not having Bible school this summer, so they are at our Church doing a major work with us. We had 101 last night--the highest attendance since I have been a member here. The Lord is at work.
The Justus children have helped so much, especially Virginia. She mapped out the routes for the buses (yes, 3 and 4 each night); she rides in one of the buses, trying to help keep calm. She has led the singing in the opening assembly; she created the powerpoints with the verses to the HYMNS (yes, HYMNS) and she is teaching, with her sweet brother James Martin, the 2-k age group. On top of that, she is trying to get an online class completed. Some of the youth in the group were very rude to her the first night, but she came back like a trooper.  
John Boy has had a very heavy work schedule this week at the Chicken House, and I am glad. He needs those hours, and is feeling more confident in the work. The Lord is with him, and I am so very grateful.  James Martin is feeling like a man with a purpose working in Bible school with his sister. 
I couldn't  be more proud. 
JT is part of another wedding this weekend, and Sunday is another full day at Church. I am hoping for a night soon when we can all again be around the table together. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Landmark Baptist

I'll give a full report later on, but I wanted to take just a minute to talk about the Homeschool Fair we attended this weekend. This was such a wonderful event, and I met the nicest people in the world. I once again had the brief, fleeting feeling of belonging somewhere beyond the walls of our home. We saw old "friends' from Lamplighter Books and Virginia Soaps and Scents, and Michael saw the dear people with whom he spent quite a lot of time last year at Rod and Staff. They remembered him. I saw the family at Miller Pads and Paper--I have seen them every year since we started this about 11 years ago. 
We made some new friends, and I want dear daughter to blog about one in particular. But, let me tell you about the folks from Landmark Freedom Baptist Curriculum. This press and ministry is based in my home county in Florida, but this couple was actually from Michigan. They were retired school teachers, and they have seen so many changes in education, families and children. They were not the least bit pushy, but very kind and helpful. Their booth caught my eye, and the more I looked, the more I liked what and whom I saw. The curriculum is very inexpensive ($40 per course with all materials included).  It is very  sound academically and most importantly, with regard to its Christian content. They are independent Baptists and King James based. They don't seem to be anti-anyone with regard to our other Christian brothers and sisters. They are just very positively Biblical. 
Dear daughter is doing lots of English work at Truett with her favorite professor, but I wanted her to have more in the way of grammar, vocab, and British literature. We had thought about using ABeka British lit, but we can't really afford much from them beyond the math (which we will do). Looking at the Landmark Baptist, I was pleased to see that they read The Pilgrim's Progress, In His Steps, and Pride and Prejudice.  I think that is a fabulous combination. We have read In His Steps as a family, and Michael uses is in his American History courses, but I am pleased as punch that she will read it again.  We will be doing Creation Science, English, Bible and a special study for young ladies with this curriculum. I couldn't be more pleased. 
I bought a Bible study from Rod and Staff for James Martin and I to do together.  It is workbook formatted, and more importantly, the theology is sound and unworldly. 
John Boy had to stay home and work at the chicken house. I sure missed him. 
Otherwise, we had such a great time. I will post more about our "finds" and adventures very soon. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What Can You Give Them That Really Matters? Some Serious Thoughts About Young People Today

This has been an unusual year for me as a college instructor.  I thank the Lord for His endless mercies and for the kind life He has bestowed upon our family.  Once in a while, the world creeps into our lives.  Students today say and do unspeakable things--I don't know why. They want higher grades given to them; humor isn't valuable unless it is at someone's expense; cheating isn't wrong . . . the list goes on and on. Being in a Christian college doesn't seem to deter them from this behavior.  I hear all the time that these students are "hurting" and that we need to be patient and forbearing. The Lord certainly was and is with me, and I must work harder to follow His example.
My question is "why are these students 'hurting'"?  Some have terrible stories and family situations. Others are just not taught better; they are not raised.
What can we give our children that really matters? What can we give them that will overcome the world?  Firstly, we must introduce them to Him who has overcome the world.  Teach them what is expected of them as Believers. Teach them about Jesus and how precious He is and what He did for them. 
Secondly, give them your time. They think they want things, but what they really want is you. Play, read, laugh and discipline them. Believe me when I tell you, they need it as they grow older, too. They need for you to listen to them, not as a friend, but as a parent. Age doesn't change that relationship. Give them your attention when you can; when you can't don't feel guilty. Don't feel guilty when you need a break, some time to yourself.  Take time to recharge--this will bless the whole family.  A truth revealed to me over these years is that the more time you spend with them, the MORE you want to spend with them. 
Tell them when they do something right.
Tell them when they do something wrong. Correct without belittling. Don't make excuses for them; hold them accountable but be as forgiving as our Heavenly Father is of us.
Stand up for them, but teach them that the Lord wants us to turn the other cheek. This one is really a challenge for me. 
Teach them that when someone is unkind to them, it is far better to be the one hurt than the one doing the hurting. 
Do whatever you can to stand between them and the values of the world.  Don't fall for the lie that they have to learn what's really out there. I know a rattle snake is poisonous without standing next to it or  trying to pick it up. Watch what they watch and listen to what they listen to. Guard their hearts, eyes and ears as they are growing up, and they will follow suite as they move into adulthood. 
Pray over everything. I should pray more than I do. 
Don't feel like you have to keep up with anyone other than the Lord. 
Don't feel bad when they don't have the latest phone, computer or I-thing. 
Focus on what is eternal. Paul tells us that what is eternal is not seen; what is seen is temporal. 
Give them what matters . . .
II Corinthians 4:18

Please don't think we have had no troubles or worries in our home. I look back on so many mistakes I have made, but I can see clearly the good things the Lord has shown us as well.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Counting Down the Days . . . .

I am sorry to post again on a topic so recently discussed:  But I am SO excited about the upcoming homeschool fair.  Among my favorite booths are the Lamplighter Books friends.  These books are life-changing. You can't read them and not be moved.  These stories won't make it into the YA section at Barnes and Nobles, but that in itself says a lot.
I am also looking forward to seeing my friends at Virginia Scents and Soaps  and the precious Brothers and Sisters from Rod and Staff Books. They are all like members of my family . . . well, I guess they are. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Thinking About the Fall Term

This year, we are returning to the homeschool fair in another state. We went last year with fabulous results. The entrance fee for the entire family is about $12, and the vendors are the same as in the fair here in our state.  There are other advantages to attending this particular venue.  The atmosphere is much friendlier (even thought the vendors are the same). The people who run this event are Christians, and they seem to be truly invested in the homeschooling movement and rationale--not just the profits. I wish we had attended there in previous years.
In any case, there is much to think about and pray about for the coming year for dear daughter. She can take a full load at Truett as a dual-enrollment student, but is that what I really want her to do? More importantly, is that really what is best for her? She can do it academically, and it would be good for her to be ahead. But, I also would like to try to pursue at least 2 homeschool subjects together. 
Her dad is going to do math with her. She needs to do heavy music theory with Mrs. Ann before she hits the college courses. I have always wanted to do more than we have in the study of Composers, National Parks and British literature.  And then there are the Lamplighter Books. All of these possibilities have to be done on a shoestring budget, and we can make that work. 
Janice, if you are reading this, I would love your input. Reading is where we need to be, don't you think? 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Back to School . . . .

After a couple of weeks "off" from school, we are back today with online and my two "live" classes.  I think this will be fun. My 8:00 is an LT 201--this is actually the third semester of the 4-semester series.  I will have 4 or 5 students, and they are wonderful students (our daughter) will be in the class-she certainly qualifies as "wonderful."  I also have a summer LT 101 course--there is only 1 student in that course. I have send her an email telling her the time and place, but I have not heard back from her. It will be interesting to see if she remains in the course. I have taught like this before--one-on-one.  It's not easy, but it does work well, particularly for a student who needs the help.
The boys are at work at their various tasks for the summer;  James Martin is learning the ropes of library work at the college (it's hard to say "at the university") and John boy is still doing just fine at "the Chicken house." We spent Thursday and Friday in hot pursuit of fine-tuning the online courses. That was discouraging on a lot of fronts, largely because we won't be teaching them again after the summer term.  But that's the point--we ARE teaching them over the summer term. 
I will report back soon, dear readers, with an update one everyone's reading and school work. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Summer School

I am not always the best at finishing things, but I might win an award one day for going back to things that work: Fly Lady, Rod and Staff books, and the BBN Bible Institute. Summer classes at the college haven't started yet, and I have TONS of stuff to get done.  But, what better time to get back to the BBN BI?  I won't earn a degree, but I always learn so much in these sermons.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What Are Our Expectations?

I apologize at the outset because I am about to revisit a topic you have seen too many times on this blog--the reading choices our children are making--or perhaps better put, those choices made for them by people who are old enough to know better:
A particularly sore point between our immediate family and my in-laws has been Harry Potter. When we were together this weekend, one member of the family noted that the oldest grandson who was just turning 10 had read the first in the Potter series.  They are so proud of that.  I think this is an abomination in the making.   Am I that judgmental and narrow-minded? 
Scripture is clear about the issues of witchcraft and sorcery in both the Old and New Testaments. These sins are everywhere in children's literature today.  What will we reap as a society from these choices?  We should expect what we are getting:  a society that is racing away from Biblical truth at an alarming speed.  Even Believers. 

When our boys were still in public school, James Martin read some of The Magic Tree House books, and I was very uncomfortable with those as well.  They use seemingly  innocuous adventures of children as they magically travel through history.  The children learn to practice their own magic as the series progresses.  I discouraged him from reading those, and was relieved when we left public school that they were no longer at his disposal.

Our kids have honored my feelings (which are their Dad's as well) about Harry Potter, but I am sensing that they have their doubts about the seriousness of the issue. Having said that, John Thomas and I were talking last night about a scene from Dante's Divine Comedy. Virgil covers Dante's eyes as the evil Medusa comes near--Dante is not able to withstand looking upon her without turning to stone. In one of his literature classes in the fall, the class discussed the implications of this dramatic scene--in our own strength, we can't stare down evil.  We will be transformed. We must turn away from it. The Book of 1st Thessalonians brings so much of this home: 
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:  20-22. 

There are so many wonderful things out there for our children and young adults to read.  
Sometimes I feel truly alone on this issue--and I can't believe how the Christian community has treated it as a non-issue.  Many years ago, I had an email conversation about this with my Library friend, Miss Janice.  She supported my decisions, and I am grateful. We are a minority of two.
There is so much at stake.  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lamplighter Books

One of the best things we encountered as we started homeschooling was the Lamplighter publishing company. They carefully select older stories, stories that are character building and inspiring from a Biblical perspective.  They rebind them in the most beautiful of colors.  The Lamplighter table is always among my favorites at the homeschool fairs. I would attend one just to visit their table! 
We have collected a few over the years--our first was Elizabeth Prentiss' Stepping Heavenward  which was first published in 1869.  It tells the story of a young girl as she grows into a mature young woman with her own family. The treasure of the story is how Mrs. Prentiss describes the spiritual growth of her young heroine. 

Pictured above are a few of our Lamplighter titles. I am currently reading one by E.D.E.N. Southworth entitled Ishmael.  It was first published in 1876.  In almost any blurb you can find about Mrs. Southworth, she is described as the most popular American novelist of her day (1819-1899), but we don't see much about her Christian life.  
In any case, I encourage you to look into the Lamplighter titles. I can't help but think that if today's presses put out these kinds of stories, the world would be so very different. 

Ye Olde Summer Reading List

We had a great time with Robinson Crusoe this past  year. Virginia has also learned SO MUCH from Dr. H. Walton Young, one of the English professors at Truett. She has enjoyed having him in a series of composition and literature courses, and she has fallen in love with the pantheon of American writers, particularly those from the 20th century.  She has had some exposure to the poets, authors and historians of Classical Antiquity through her Latin. But she is lacking a bit on the British contributions--beyond our favorite Jane Austen movies, of course. When the boys were finishing up their A Beka courses, one of the last ones they took was British Literature. We have all read A Christmas Carol by Dickens together for many years, but there is so much more to learn!  The A Beka editions of the English Literature materials have changed, so I can't use the tests and things with the boys' old books, but the Lord has once again provided--
Friday, I participated in grading a test for the college, and one of the items of compensation was a $50 visa gift card.  A Beka is running a "free shipping " promotion, so the gift card will just about cover it, and I can get her started. It is amazing to see how He works. I think she will enjoy this course very much.  She needs to pack in some good instruction time for the summer, as well as piano practice!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Thoughts from the Woman in Pink

I was speaking with someone the other day, and erudite, godly and kind-natured man.  We were talking about homeschooling, and he commented that one particular group wanted to "cocoon" their children. Now, not for one minute did I take offense--his children are in a private Christian school, and he is contemplating homeschooling his oldest child soon. But he has not reached the point where I have been for YEARS!  The world is a place from which our children should be sheltered.  Michael and I are always seeing these disturbing statistics about the number of children raised in Christian homes who leave their faith by the way after leaving home.  The world's influences are powerful and insidious--they are the tools of their master, "the prince of the power of the air"--see Ephesians 2:2.
Our daughter has recently come face to face, in at least two situations, with Christians whose actions are  no different from those who belong to the world.  She and her true friend Sarah have dealt with it accordingly--through prayer. Virginia's heart is heavy, but she has learned some important lessons in discernment. So have I.

Our Sweet Boy

This week has already started off with some rocky moments, but the Lord sent us an unexpected blessing yesterday.  Every year, one of the professors at the College presents a list of graduating seniors who have achieved a certain GPA.  I think it is 3.75 or 3.8.  From that list, the faculty are asked to select those students they feel should represent the College in the year's "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities."  John Boy was on the list.  We had no idea whether he would be chosen--the list is made up of the top vote-getters. It is more than a popularity contest--it is more than an academic one--it comes back to character and conduct as well as grades. 
John Thomas was selected. 
This accolade means more to me than many others because it demonstrates that dependability, honesty, kindness and integrity are recognized and prized.
The Lord has been with us this year in so many ways--in every way. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Updates on the Gang

We have all been busy surviving the semester--I wish I had posted more frequently on this blog, but here's a little bit of detail about what the kids have been doing. 
The boys are finishing up the semester, and John Thomas is concluding his undergraduate career. They are both doing so well. I am proud of James Martin because he is getting where he needs to be on the amount of work, concentration and thoroughness he needs for college. This is hard to explain with words--he has always worked hard, but now he seems to understand what is needed in terms of using his effort most effectively.  I think I "got it" in my 3rd year of college as well. In any case, we are proud of him. He is looking forward to doing a class with his Dad this summer.

John Thomas is thoroughly enjoying school, as always.  He participates in an informal seminar with other students from the grad program who meet at Dr. Whitlock's house on Thursday nights. He really, really likes that, and they enjoy having him. Michael and I are thrilled that the Whitlocks open their home in this way and that John boy is included. Today, he is doing a presentation for Dr. Young's lit class on Robert Penn Warren. He is excited to have this forum. He took the class some time ago and really came to love the author's works. This is a great venue and experience for him. The professors here are largely very good to encourage learning as well as a love for learning. 

Virginia also has Dr. Young. She is in her 3rd class with him as a dual-enrollment student, and she loves the literature and writing. She loves Dr. Young--all the Justus children do. He teaches them writing, literature and an appreciation for classic works. 

Unfortunately, we live in a society that is unabashedly and almost proudly turning its back on the Humanities. There is now a proposal to grant STEM classes in the high schools an extra grade point for completion; that is, on a 4.0 grade scale, a science, technology or math course would earn 4 points for a B rather than for an A, and 5 points for an A. The Humanities have already been watered down and polluted by revisionist historians and "gender studies." Now, they will be pushed aside entirely. 
The Humanities, art, music, literature and history, color our world beautifully. I am grateful that the children are able to appreciate them through the efforts of the faculty here at Truett.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Board Games

One of the many things I appreciate about our sweet James Martin is that he prefers board games to computer games. He received this special edition of Monopoly, and we finally broke it out to play a game (me, Dad and JM). It really was a lot of fun, and the design was quite interesting. 
He of course, whipped us both . . . but we all had a great time!
In our hallway, we have a nice little linen closet that we have used for a game closet since we first moved here in 2003.  I think it is on the list for reorganization, and James Martin would be the one to help with that as far as what to keep and what to donate. 

We have an edition of Candyland that looks exactly like this, and the boys sat down and played with me the other night. They are such good sports. We had such a good time.  We have a similar version of Chutes and Ladders--we'll have to get that one out next!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Please Forgive Me, But I Have to Talk About This Again . . .

At the College (actually we are now a University--it's official!) where I teach, we have an increasing number of students who are "dual-enrollment." That means they are taking college courses as part of their high school program. Some are home schooled; others are from public and private schools. I have a couple from the local public school in my Latin class, and I must say they are lovely, polite and very dedicated. One in particular seems to enjoy the class, and she and I have talked about her other coursework at the high school. I was of course interested in hearing about her AP literature course.  I was appalled by the books that she had to read--and I actually said something when she mentioned William Golding's 1954 atrocity, Lord of the Flies.  Really?????  I said to this young lady that were she my daughter, I would have something to say about that.  I try not to speak badly about the schools and their godless choices when I am talking to someone still involved, but I couldn't keep my mouth shut in this instance. But I did tone it down a little, saying that there are so many great literary works out there that have a better view of human character--these works inspire the best in us rather than magnify and almost champion the very basest of behavior.

What about Robinson Crusoe, Captains Courageous, Ivanhoe, Treasure Island, . . .
The list goes on and on.  These books are full of action, adventure, character and yes, great literary merit.  But that's the whole point, isn't it? Literary merit is not the issue--worldview is.
As I have probably said before, after the death of Constantine and his immediate successors, a young man rose to the rank of Emperor in Rome. His name was Julian and he has since been labled "Julian the Apostate."  He had been raised as a Christian, but rejected the Lord  Like  the serpent in the Garden, he was more subtle.  Rather than outlaw Christianity in the Empire, he simply made it illegal for Christians to teach!  He knew the power of education in shaping the next generation.
Thankfully, Julian was in power just about 3 years, and his changes were reversed. 
I don't have the same hope for the schools today--but the homeschool movement is making a change in the culture.  How long will it be before the government tries to force its own curriculum on those educated by their parents? 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Classics? I am Not Sure if These Are the Ones She Has in Mind . . . .

I snagged this lovely picture from Pinterest--I actually have a couple of these. They are lovely, to be sure.  (I like anything from the Whitman company). 
Virginia and I are about to choose another book to read together. She wants one we can listen along to on Audible--one that might be challenging to understand on our own. I appreciate that. I think she is leaning toward a Jane Austen novel or maybe a Dickens. Her favorite thing to do is to get out whatever she is knitting and listen as she knits.  She sits on the bed, and I in our green chair.  I think it might be fun to go through all of the Alcott novels.  We'll see. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!!!!

I know all two of you who read this blog are tired in the extreme of me talking about this novel by Daniel Defoe. I am sorry.  I have to tell you this:  beware at all costs the movie featuring Pierce Brosnan.  It is a travesty!  The story begins with "Robin" having to leave on a voyage because he has been involved in a dual. He is shipwrecked and then very shortly rescues a native about to be eaten by other cannibals.  Their relationship is very harsh and antagonistic, differing primarily on their view of God.  Robin eventually comes to the realization that there are different faiths that are valid. I have turned it  off. 
1. In the novel, Robinson Crusoe is a youngest son who craves adventure and wealth--much like the parable of the prodigal. He leaves in spite of his family's warnings and fears.
2. When he rescues Friday, it is after he (Robinson) has been on the island for 25 years.  Their relationship is warm and loving, and Robinson teaches Friday about the Bible and about the Lord. 
The entire novel is meant to reteach the parable of the prodigal son--sadly, this "son" is not reunited with his earthly father, but is welcomed with open arms by his Heavenly Father.  I wondered what they would do with this movie, but I in no way expected this terrible interpretation. How sad. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reason I Appreciate Our Boys #200,001

When the boys were growing up (they are currently 20 and 21), Michael and I were careful about what they watched and listened to. We kept them from all the Star Wars movies until they were older, as well as programs with "bathroom humor" aimed at young children. They watched what we called "gentle programs"--not feminine as such, but quiet, gentle and kind:  Fred Rogers was their favorite. They also loved Little Bear,  Franklin, and Richard Scarry. As they grew older, we allowed more of the action and adventure programming.  They love Star Wars now, and I think they are actually enjoying it more now than they would have at age 5 and 6. 
They have both commented on these choices--I am so grateful that they can see what we were trying to do, and they seem to be grateful.  I don't know why I am making this post--if there are any young moms out there reading, remember that you are not obscuring gender lines by teaching your boys to be gentle and kind.  They will pick up SO MUCH from what they see--the images on television today are harsh, sexual and often quite vulgar.  Those qualities don't make a man more masculine or a girl more feminine.
Our sweet boys are not perfect, but they have grown into such kind and loving young gentlemen, well-mannered and thoughtful.  Beware the programming, as we did, that contains the smart-mouthed and disrespectful tween or teen.  Parents are ridiculed and undermined by the more intelligent and savvy child.  These programs have had a terrible impact on our young people.
Don't worry about what people will say about you--YOU are raising your children--those who criticize you are NOT.  Take advice when YOU feel it is sound, but don't make decisions about what your children read, watch and listen to because of external pressure.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Back in the Routine

We are back in the routine, trying to finish up some big projects.  We are listening to Robinson Crusoe beautifully read on audible--it makes the King James English a little easier to understand and appreciate. We have heard it so much by now that we are starting to really anticipate both the phrasing  of the language.  We hear a lot of KJV terminology-- words like "peradventure" and others like it.  We are almost finished. I don't know what is next--listening with the reading has been a great help in some of the more difficult and lengthy works.  I keep telling dear daughter (and my dear students at the college) that if you read good books, books that are well written, your writing and vocabulary will be so much stronger. She is interested in Jane Austen, as always, and this might be a good way to approach those beautiful stories.
We are also continuing in our "Picture Smart" Bible study. This takes us through each Book of the Bible with lessons augmented by drawing, labeling and coloring.  Virginia uses her many Sharpies and other markers she has collected over the years.  We are enjoying the book of Ephesians.  I wish we had coordinated this with our Bible reading in the Church this past year.
We are also taking a different approach to Dr. Harold Rawlings' wonderful book, Trial By Fire.  This book is a history of the English Bible.  Virginia is taking notes as I read.  That is a help to her in her quest to become a great note taker (she is very good even now!). 
It was a sweet part of a long day.
Hope your days have heaping helpings of sweetness . . . .
We are also 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Christmas Afterthoughts . . . .

After all the Christmas shopping was done, I found one last gift for our daughter. This lovely collection of Puffin classics popped up on Amazon at a nice price. I ordered it knowing that the set wouldn't arrive until a couple of days after Christmas, but I think the timing was perfect. Virginia loved these!  I have always been a sucker for a pretty cover (that's how I got into the Mitford books!), and these are something else. The stock photos don't do them justice. Hope you had a lovely Christmas and that the New Year brings you some time to read your favorite books.