• God's Smuggler: the true story of Brother Andrew

    Passing on Values through Homeschool Literature: Review of God's Smuggler

    14 May 2014 / High School, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing, News, Reviews / 0 Comment

    We've been discussing passing on our values to our kids through their homeschool literature courses. One value that we've emphasized is faith. My youngest son wrote about his favorite book about a hero of the faith: Brother Andrew, God's Smuggler. 

    Passing on Values through Homeschool Literature Part 4: Teen Reviews God's Smuggler

    Youngest son having an adventure at the Renaissance Fair

    Here is the classic post:

    Ever have one of those homeschool moments when you found out you were doing something right?

    I asked my homeschooler (then 15-year-old Seth), "What is your favorite book so far this year?"

    He answered, "that's easy: God's Smuggler!"

    Funny how that worked out. 7 Sister Sabrina just finished a study guide on that very book. (Oh, maybe that's because she's the one teaching Seth's homeschool Great Christian Writers group class:)

    SO, I asked Sabrina to publish the study guide and I asked Seth to write a very short review of the book.

    Seth's review of God's Smuggler:

    God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

    God’s Smuggler is an inspiring true story filled with adventure, suspense and faith. It is the autobiography of Brother Andrew. During the Cold War, Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles into countries behind the Iron Curtain.

    The book is also the story of his conversion to Christianity. Brother Andrew went from rebellious boy, to reckless young man, to great man of God.

    Passing on Values through Homeschool Literature Part 4: Teen Reviews God's SmugglerGod's Smuggler really showed me how much God cares for His children. He kept Andrew safe through many dangers. Every time he  passed through a border he would pray what he called “the Prayer of God’s Smuggler”:

    “Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture that I want to take to Your children across the border. When You were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see.”

    Because of Brother Andrew, many people behind the Iron Curtain received Bibles and were shown that God cared about them. You will not want to put God’s Smuggler down.

    --------

    Sabrina's 16-page Study Guide for God's Smuggler helps inspire your homeschooler as well as helps him understand the culture and context of the Cold War. The study guide includes vocabulary and terms to know. While it helps solidify student comprehension, it does not deflate his enjoyment of this powerful book.

    Give your teen a chance to study Seth's favorite book of the year.  Download God's Smuggler Study Guide today $3.99.

     

     

    Open Doors

    Brother Andrew founded Open Doors in 1955 by smuggling his first group of Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. It has been a powerful and effective ministry since that early trip.

    Mission Statement of Open Doors

    Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide; We are an organization aimed at strengthening persecuted believers worldwide through community development, Bible & literature distribution, leadership training & education and ministries of prayer and advocacy.

    You can download the story of Brother Andrew's conversion from the book God's Smuggler at http://www.opendoorsusa.org

    Here's Sabrina's talk on character building curriculum options:

    Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

  • For homeschoolers with Aspergers Syndrome: Encouraging book from Luke Jackson

    For Homeschoolers with Aspergers Syndrome: Freaks, Geeks & Aspergers Syndrome by Luke Jackson

    28 February 2014 / Reviews / 0 Comment

    Have you ever thought “If I could just figure out what was going on in that person’s mind...”. Well, this is a book that gives you insight into the workings of the mind of a teenage boy with Asperger Syndrome.

    Luke Jackson does a marvelous job of relating how he perceives the world - and how he sees the world reacting to him. He includes topics such as when to tell people you have Asperger Syndrome, sleep & dietary differences, how he reacts to various sensations, interests that have helped him cope, friends and dating, and morals and principles.

    Luke even includes an appendix about idioms and their meanings. The reader begins to understand how confusing some of our language and “rules” are to those who take everything very literally.

    Luke has a very upbeat attitude towards life. He refers to his disability as a “gift”. If you know someone with Asperger Syndrome this book will help you understand some of their unique challenges and gifts.

     

  • Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential

    Review: Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential by Zan Tyler

    03 January 2014 / News, Reviews / 0 Comment

    This is not a sponsored post. We occasionally share books that really impress us. This one certainly impressed me!

    Just a little background: I began homeschooling in the 1980s- back in the days when HSLDA wisely coached parents to train our children with fire drills and truant-officer-at-the-door drills. It was a time when it was barely legal (and in some states, NOT legal) to homeschool.

    I remember the reigning question of those days: "Can you DO that?"

    Yes, we COULD do that! Homeschooling was a way to truly invest in the development of our children- spirit, soul, body. We could help them discover and develop the gifts that God had given them. We could role model being culture- and family-environment creators. We could value each child as significant.

    Over the years, praise God, homeschooling has become (relatively) easy and legal. But sometimes I've fretted that in our comfortable environment, we might lose our way. I fear we might become solely obsessed with our children's academic successes rather than help them learn to cultivate their potentials and become culture creators themselves.

    Thus, I was overjoyed when I heard Zan Tyler speak at 2:1 Conference last spring. Here was a woman who served the homeschool community in its formative years: she was one of those parents who spent hours and hours lobbying legislators and running state homeschool organizations. She believed that homeschooling was about helping children become the men and women God created them to be.

    Her kids are grown now so she wrote Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential to pass on the wisdom she gained from years and years of experience. Her ideas are powerful and timeless. Here are some:  Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential

    -Establishing a family identity

    -Cultivating intimacy

    -Discovering purpose

    -Developing a Biblical worldview

    -Building character through discipleship

    -Providing stimulating academics

    -Fostering leadership and communication skills

    (I tell you, she hits the areas that make homeschooling our children such a magnificent option! It was true for homeschoolers in the 1980s and it is true for them today.)

    As we invest in each of the above areas, we intentionally begin to cultivate our children's potentials. Excellent stewardship! Zan quotes Chuck Swindoll's version of Proverbs 22:6:

    "Adapt the training of your children so that it is in keeping with their individual gifts or bents- the God-given characteristics built into them at birth. When maturity comes, they will not leave they training they have received." (Growing Wise in Family Life: Bible Study Guide)

     

     

     

  • Review: 5 Money Personalities by Scott and Bethany Palmer

    12 December 2013 / News, Reviews / 0 Comment

    5 Money PersonalitiesThere are some subjects that simply should not be "one and done".  Consumer Math (Financial Literacy) is one of those- even after we're adults, we should continue to learn.

    (If my generation had spent a bit more time learning intentionality (and seeking God) in the area of finances, perhaps our nation wouldn't have such economic woes.)

    I was given a book for review that is a great for homeschooling parents. The 5 Money Personalities by Scott and Bethany Palmer (The Money Couple) is written by a couple who understands our personalities affect how we handle our finances.

    What an amazing thought. Different personalities view saving and spending in different ways. The Money Couple give tips for handling those money conflicts. They say, "There's a reson we take vows to stick together for richer or poorer. Money ripples into every part of our lives as couples... money can test a relationship."

    They give tips on creating a useful Money Relationship with each other. They say, "It isn't the differences between you and your spouse that create tension in your Money Relationship. It's the nitpicking, the controlling, and the assuming that cause problems. The good news is that you can change that."

    Then they give the tools to make it happen. Besides the wealth of information in the book, they have a website with resources and a FREE quiz. Money Personality Quiz

    ********************

    Speaking of FREE, have you checked out our freebies? We have whitepaper how-to on

    Marvelous Middle School freebie!

    Marvelous Middle School freebie!

    homeschool co-ops and support groups, Bible study guides, how to help a friend in difficult times, how-to homeschool middle school and how-to's on drama!

  • Why I Am Glad That My Homeschool Graduate is NOT Going to College

    22 September 2013 / Electives, High School, Homeschool Information, Reviews / 14 Comments

    Homeschoolers tend to feel that they have to prove something to the world...or perhaps to themselves...when it comes to THE NEXT STEP after graduation.  The challenge of sending our homeschool graduates to college looms over us all during high school.  We want our kids to be equipped and ready to conquer when they graduate from our homeschools.

    One of my kids did NOT go to college after he graduated, and I am happy about it.

    Yup, I am happy about it.  Here's why.

    It seems to me that in our society college has become a sort of idol.  We are tempted to think that if a young adult goes to college and earns a four-year degree, we can feel confident that he or she is now set, secure, and guaranteed opportunities for independence, productivity and respectability in life.

    The truth is this (in my humble opinion):

    * College is not necessary for many solid career choices (trade schools are an awesome and often-overlooked resource.

    * College is not a good fit for some people, especially not immediately after high school.

    Music is an important part of his life

    Music is an important part of his life

    * College can be a wasted experience if the fit is not right between the student and the course of study.

    * College costs a lot of money, and for a student who is not awarded significant scholarship money, the debt incurred can be crippling.

    Before you brand me a heretic and bring out the tar and feathers, give it some thought.  I am certainly a big fan of higher education (I have two kids in undergraduate school right now, and one in dental school).  But college is NOT a guarantee that my child will have a successful adult life.

    What provides a guarantee of success in adulthood?  A commitment to the Lord and a willingness to obey His perfect plans for each day He gives us is the only place of security.

    My son graduated from our homeschool with a number of goals before him, and none of them seemed best served by an immediate application to college.  Instead, he pursued a trade with which he can earn money while he explores various avenues for the use of the gifts and abilities God has given him.  I believe that, for him, going directly from high school to college would have been a waste of time and money, and a frustrating detour from the path God was revealing to him for the next steps in his life.

    The future's looking bright for Jake...he has to wear shades!

    If the time comes that my son needs a college degree to continue on God's path for him, I have no doubt that he will apply to schools, take placement tests, gain acceptance in a good school and earn that degree.  But in the meantime, it would be a fear-reaction on my part to insist that college is the next step for right now.

    Are we trusting God with our kids as they head into adulthood, or are we tempted to bow down before the false security that a college degree appears to offer?  What do you think?

    Some things that help a non-college bound homeschooler prepare for life is good thinking/creativity/communication skills. These can be developed in a good, but not killer, literature and writing curriculum. Here are some suggestions that we used (all are no fuss, no busywork, fun, but real study guides- affordable, too): Introduction to High School Writing

    Introductory Guide to High School Writing (also Intermediate and Advanced Guides), 7 Sisters British Literature, 7 Sisters World Literature.

    British Literature Without the OverloadAnother important life-prep subject for non-college bound homeschoolers is Human Development (understanding how people grow and change over the lifespan). This is another accessible, no busy-work curriculum written from a Christian worldview.

     

     

     

     

  • Review: God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew

    30 August 2013 / Curricula, News, Reviews, Social Studies & More / 2 Comments

    Ever have one of those homeschool moments when you found out you were doing something right?

    When I asked 14-year-old Seth, "What is your favorite book in 9th grade?"

    He answered, "That's easy: God's Smuggler!"                           

    7 Sister Sabrina had just finished a study guide on that very book and she was leading Seth's homeschool Great Christian Writers group class.

    SO, I asked Sabrina to publish the study guide and I asked Seth to write a very short review of the book. (It ended up that she did an entire year of Great Christian Writers with the local homeschoolers. It was life-impacting for them. Check the study guides here for The Hiding Place, The Practice of the Presence of God, Pilgrim's Progress, Something Beautiful for God, Joni, and Born Again.)

    Seth's review of God's Smuggler:

    God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

    Seth, on right, with sister, brother, brother-in-law. (All homeschooled, btw.)

    Seth, on right, with sister, brother, brother-in-law. (All homeschooled, btw.)

    God’s Smuggler is an inspiring true story filled with adventure, suspense and faith. It is the autobiography of Brother Andrew. During the Cold War, Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles into countries behind the Iron Curtain.

    The book is also the story of his conversion to Christianity. Brother Andrew went from rebellious boy, to reckless young man, to great man of God.

    God's Smuggler really showed me how much God cares for His children. He kept Andrew safe through many dangers. Every time he  passed through a border he would pray what he called “the Prayer of God’s Smuggler”:

    “Lord, in my luggage I have Scripture that I want to take to Your children across the border. When You were on earth, You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see.”

    Because of Brother Andrew, many people behind the Iron Curtain received Bibles and were shown that God cared about them. You will not want to put God’s Smuggler down.

    God's Smuggler Study Guide is a 16-page etext that helps inspire your homeschooler as well as helps him understand the culture and context of the Cold War. The study guide includes vocabulary and terms to know. While it helps solidify student comprehension, it does not deflate his enjoyment of this powerful book

     

    Open Doors

    Brother Andrew founded Open Doors in 1955 by smuggling his first group of Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. It has been a powerful and effective ministry since that early trip.

    Mission Statement of Open Doors

    Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide; We are an organization aimed at strengthening persecuted believers worldwide through community development, Bible & literature distribution, leadership training & education and ministries of prayer and advocacy.

    You can download the story of Brother Andrew's conversion from the book God's Smuggler at http://www.opendoorsusa.org

  • Apologetics for the Whole Family! What's in the Bible by Phil Visher

    19 July 2013 / Reviews, Social Studies & More / 0 Comment

    What's in the Bible?The best (and maybe ONLY) apologetics videos for the entire family: What's in the Bible? by Phil Vischer.

    How do I know it is the best? It came recommended by my 32 year-old son, who loved it. Then my 16-year-old, my husband, and I watched 2 episodes non-stop and unanimously decided that it wins for any Bible video series. And that it is not just Bible stories- it is apologetics! AND it was FUN!!

    This is the way it happened:

    My oldest son took his kid brother to Creation Festival in June. Phil Vischer was there one night showing episodes of What's in the Bible?. My sons watched, of course, because they remembered that Phil Vischer was creator of Veggie Tales- the most important video series of my kids' childhood. (How many Silly Songs can you still sing?)

    Afterwards, Micah chatted with Phil about how impressed he was that What's in the Bible had assumed an intelligent audience (even in little kids) AND was taking on apologetics-type topics! Then he dashed home and told his mom. Now, I am a lover of apologetics, so I wrote Phil and asked if I could do a review. And here you are:

    Dr. Tillman recommended What's in the Bible to me.

    Dr. Tillman recommended What's in the Bible to me.

    1.  What's in the Bible is SOLID biblically.

    That, of course, is what really matters.

    2. What's in the Bible is FUN!

    Remember the zany essence of Veggie Tales? Well, What's in the Bible is fast-paced and loaded with goofy characters like: Buck Denver- a narcisstic news anchor, British safari-ers Ian and Clyde, the Sunday School Lady, Chuck Waggin and more.

    My 16-year old (here at Creation Festival) loves What's in the Bible

    My 16-year old (here at Creation Festival) loves What's in the Bible

    3. What's in the Bible appeals to all ages.

    Even my 16 year-old loved it. In fact, Seth is the one excitedly that pointed out that one of the songs was presented by a couple of his You Tube favorite hip-guys: Rhett and Link(see their song from Volume 1 below).

    4. What's in the Bible assumes an intelligent audience.

    Smack dab in the middle of goofy songs and skits with cartoons and puppets, there are solid Bible and apologetics lessons with topics like the inspiration of Scripture and why the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Bibles all have a different number of books.

    5. What's in the Bible has great production value.

    What's in the Bible even has a homeschool/church version with 52 weekly lessons and materials

    What's in the Bible even has a homeschool/church version with 52 weekly lessons and materials

    Phil Vischer is the only person I know who could pull off something like this with such spectacular production value. There are cartoons, goofy puppets, interviews, even unabashedly  cheesy popsicle-stick puppets,  and a flannel graph (that belong to the Sunday School lady and is usually blank)- and it is ALL fun, interesting, full of great information, and WELL-DONE.

    6. What's in the Bible has great support material.

    Visit their website for flashcards, activities, newsletters, lesson plans and more!

    I'd love to work on making this a homeschool co-op subject for my community. Really. It is awesome. Go watch an episode and you'll see....

    Here are the You Tube celebrities, Link and Brett from What's in the Bible Vol. 1:

  • Review: Chemistry 101 from Westfield Studios

    28 May 2013 / News, Reviews, Science, Psych, & Health / 3 Comments

    13162978549521319643021_mediumWhen I began to watch the dvds in Chemistry 101 by Westfield Studios, I wanted to cry.

    That's because my son and I had just suffered through a year of chemistry using a supposedly good text for non-science-minded students. It was torture. If ONLY we had had access to Chemistry 101.

    I got the opportunity to review Chemistry 101 while I was at the 2:1 Conference in the spring- we were just finishing our year. Oh, well. But let me tell YOU about it:

    Chemistry 101 was developed by Wes Olson, a filmmaker and homeschooling father, for his own kids. Now, he is making the curriculum available to homeschoolers beyond his own family.

    The curriculum is designed for high schoolers who aren't going to be science majors in college- those who just need a good, Godly foundation in this wonderful subject. If you have a student who is an average high school chemist (versus a college-prep or honors level chemist), you will know first hand how torturous the subject can be.

    But not with Chemistry 101. There are 19 "chapters" on the DVDs with syllabus/lesson plans that explain how to use the course (150 hours worth of lessons, activities, and assessments, with lab ideas). If you're like me and download the accompanying guidebook incorrectly, you can pick it up as a pdf online.

    The production value is marvelous- well-filmed and presented. The teaching is excellent- not at all dry and boring. It

    Wes Olson and his homeschooling family

    Wes Olson and his homeschooling family

    covers the barebones scope and sequence for chemistry without burdening non-science majors with extra math or useless material.  One of the things I like best is that it begins with a historical perspective- a sort of story-telling format, which is good for our family's type learners. It also has some great light-hearted humor (which is good for attention and retention).

    In my job as an academic advisor to homeschool high schoolers, I intend to start recommending this course to my average (level 2) high schoolers (those not needing college prep). I will also advise them that they will need to log 30 hours of lab in addition to the dvd course. (No problem, they can just google: Easy Chemistry Labs at Home.)

    I think I will have some happier students (and moms).

    Wes Olson has also produced Biology 101 and is working on Physics 101.

    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    *****************************

    Don't forget to visit our FREEBIE page. Pick up a study on how to truly help a friend in hard times, drama material, a Bible study guide, and more!

  • Review: Economics by R. C. Sproul Jr.

    23 May 2013 / Electives, High School, Homeschool Information, Math & Economics, Reviews / 3 Comments

    This is Economics year for my homeschooler so I was excited that I was given the chance at 2:1 Conference to review R.C. Sproul Jr's new DVD series: Economics for Everybody: Applying Biblical Principals to Work, Wealth, and the World.

    Review: R.C. Sproul Jr's EconomicsAs a homeschool mom who has already graduated 4 of my kids, I remember the weeping and gnashing of teeth that occurred each time economics rolled around. As far as my high schoolers were concerned, economics was the best cure they could find for insomnia. So, I'm tickled that homeschooler #5 will have the chance to work with Sproul's Economics for Everybody.

    The cool thing about these DVD's, actually, is their production value. Each of the lessons is wedged in tweet-sized bites between old movie black-and-white movie clips and lots of old-timey music.They are cute and fun- and professionally presented.

    While the lessons may be fun, it is amazing how much meaty information Sproul could pack into the little bites, though. The lessons are rich with useful and thought-provoking information from a very biblical worldview. Good data is presented, scripture, and solid economics is served up in a delightful format.

    There are 12 lessons with this course (which comes with a study guide). Lessons 1 to 5 introduce key economic principles; Lessons 6 and 7 explain the relationships between theology, philosophy, and economics; Lessons 9 to 12 examine the application of economics in real-life systems.

    Please note that this course was not designed as a stand-alone. Many homeschooling high schoolers need 1/2 credit in Economics. Economics for Everyone is designed to be part of that credit. Here is the explanation from Compass Classroom (Sproul's publisher) on how it works:

    Economics for Everybody is designed to be the base of a one-semester economics class for homeschool high school students. If this Scope and Sequence is followed, it will good for one-half credit in economics.
    The course can be used in two ways: by itself as a lighter study to introduce basic economics concepts (9th/10th graders), or used together with another economics textbook as a more in-depth study for students with worldview training (10th/11th/12th graders). If you choose to do the latter, we recommend Basic Economics, Third Edition by Carson and Cleveland. It is available at CompassClassroom.com
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    A personal note: If one of the homeschooling high schoolers that I advise for my local umbrella school asked me about the Economics for Everyone + Basic Economics, Third Edition, I would suggest to them that this appears to be a Level 4 (Advanced Credit) course. Very good for a high-powered or very-interested student.
    My son, while he is plenty smart and could slug through the Basic Economics text, would be miserable. Since he does not need his Economics to be a high-level course, we will use Economics for Everyone along with AGS Economics  (a very basic economics curriculum from a secular company that covers the need-to-know information in a light format). The 2 curricula together will make his course College Prep level, good enough for him. I think he may actually enjoy the semester!
    **********
    Penny with my son (left) and hers (right)

    Penny with my son (left) and hers (right)

    My friend, Penny, is teaching Economics for our local homeschoolers. I had her watch the lessons with me and she loved them. She said they were "well done" and that it was important to her that her students understand a biblical basis for their economics experiences. She is very excited about Economics for Everyone.
    Here's a delightful trailer for Economics for Everybody.

    @nbst

    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a portion of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

  • Review: My Favorite Art Curricula for Homeschoolers

    14 March 2013 / Curricula, Fine Arts, Reviews / 0 Comment

    Comment on the blog anytime today through Sunday for a chance to win a copy of

    See the Light Art Class DVD #1.

     

    Some things are hard for a homeschool mom like me to teach- like fine arts. I love them in every form (drawing, music, drama) but the gift passed me by.

    Fortunately there are some usuable-for-non-artist-homeschool-mom curricula out there. Here are some I recommend. (BTW- this is not a sponsored post.)

    Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

    I love this one! Using simple drawing activities, it teaches kids to think from the creative side of their brain. It is not a theory book- it is a let's-get-creative book.

    My daughter, who got her BA in Photography and Art liked this book so well that she has incorporated it into the work she does now as an art instructor.

    Learning how to think creatively is a very important life skill- it is useful in writing, inventing, and problem-solving.

     

    God and the History of Art by Barry Stebbing

    This is another curriculum I love. We used it in co-op as part of our world history lessons. Barry Stebbing takes homeschoolers through art history and gives them hands-on lessons so that they can experience the types of art and ideas from each time period. I loved the projects he assigned.

    The program came with cards that had good pictures of the type of art being studied.

    I really appreciated being able to key in art with history.

     

    Alpha Omega LifePacs Art

    I felt my artistic kids needed some art theory when they hit high school. Not knowing any theory, I wanted someone to teach that for me.

    Lifepacs does that.

    Not that my kids enjoyed this. They didn't like the lessons, they felt they were uncreative, technical, and boring.

    However, they got theory in. (And it didn't kill their love of art, just got them irritated with me.)

    I am glad there is good homeschool curricula out there for our kids to get some experience in the world of art.

    What do you use to teach your kids art?

    While we're on the subject of fine arts, don't forget to download the FREE Christmas Play script from Sabrina (and watch for the launching of our drama department in January)!

    Whether we homeschool moms feel creative or not,

    Whether we are artistically gifted or not,

    We can teach our kids to be creative-

    And to have fun. With drama, Sabrina Justison's  Introduction to Directingis a great start and it is free!

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