When the Fire Gets Hotter

 

Trouble and anguish have overtaken me,

yet your commandments are my delight.

Psalm 119:143

For the last six weeks a group of friends and I have been studying Psalm 119. There’s a lot of mystery to this Psalm. Who wrote it? What was the author going through? Was it a song, a poem or a prayer?

Two things ring loud and clear to me during my reading: whomever it is continually asks God to teach them, AND no matter the oppression from the “enemy” they continually delight in God’s word. Like, all the time. Day and night. It is their “meditation.” Their “delight.” Other descriptions? They are loved “more than gold, yes than fine gold,” “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” and “sweeter than honey.” The author goes so far to say that they understand more than their teachers and the ancients (elder-of those in authority), because of 2 reasons! “It is my meditation all the day” and because they “keep Your precepts.” Also, their teacher? It’s God (v 102)!! No wonder they are so wise!

And then…I think about our world today….I think about us believers today. So many distractions. So many shiny’s and pretty’s. SO many books…..but wait! They are books with God’s word in them! Now, I like a good book as much as the next person. I love to constantly try to “fix myself” as my husband puts it….oh, Lord he is such a patient man. He detests these books…and even worse when I bring an armload of them in for the kids. Why? Is he legalistic? Is he an atheist? Is he mean?!? NOOO…he simply holds up his Bible and says “This is all I need.” And he believes with his heart that even though HE doesn’t see himself as wise in the word, he believes he has a teacher in God.

So I begin to meditate on this verse from Psalm 119:143. And it takes me back…back to a time nearly 6 years ago. The anniversary is coming up. But this isn’t a happy anniversary. It’s the anniversary that my entire life fell apart…when everything I had ever been taught would be tried in a burning amber fire. When anything that COULD be shaken, WOULD be shaken. It’s the day Our Story began.

As I am meditating on those events, I remember. Holding my Bible close to me, taking it everywhere. Screaming and crying in prayer on cold dirty hospital floors. Endless “Why God?!? Why him?!?” Endless nights with zero sleep……but endless days and nights of reading my Bible. Getting comfort from God. Getting questions answered that only a merciful God would give……

And so, I flash forward to today. To my life. To the distractions. To the days I once agreed with the Psalmist’s observations. To the days when “trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet your commandments are my delight.” And then the tears start again. Only this time they are tears of regret. Wasted time. Wasted energy…..and missing who I once was in that mess. Wondering if the Psalmist felt the same if/when he was delivered from his oppression?

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Prasso Ministries Teen Prasso Teacher and Student Manuals: a TOS Crew Review

With two teenage boys, I often ask myself if I am doing enough. Am I teaching enough? Am I preparing them enough? This doesn’t just apply to your typical 3 R’s in our homeschool either. This carries over into our Faith. I want, no I pray, that my children have a firm grip on their faith, are always “ready to give an answer,” and most of all, that they “walk” their “talk.” Enter Prasso Ministries.

Over the years we have ranged from using various “Bible” curricula, to just simply reading aloud together (the latter my favorite). I was very pleased to be able to review the Teen Prasso Teacher’s Manual, as well as the Teen Prasso Homework Manual.

Prasso is a Greek word that means, “repeatedly, continually, and habitually practice.” It reminds me of the word “meditate” from Psalm 119!

What we received/what it is:

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Both the Teacher’s Manual and Student Journal (Homework Manual), come spiral bound with a sturdy back. The Student’s (187 pages) is about 2/3 the length of the Teacher’s (124 pages).

Homework Manual

Homework Manual

The Homework Manual is the “journal” part for the student. It is where they will record their responses. There is also a discussion section. This helps students be prepared for the next meeting.

Teacher Manual-the overview for the week's lesson

Teacher Manual-the overview for the week’s lesson

The teacher’s manual includes a “How To” section with chart in the front. It is broken down by weeks and includes the Homework Manual assignments. It also includes instructions for leaders which gives you lots of advice on your role, tips for asking good discussion questions, and how to deal with a diverse group.

You *could* purchase the Homework manual separately, however it is meant to be used in conjunction with the Teacher’s manual. It has a lot of great discussion, self guidance and questions to get the student to “think” and dig deeper. It is heavy on application. This isn’t a “word” study type curriculum.

From their website:

The Teen Prasso program allows students to unplug from the culture and engage truth in a format that relates to them. Teen Prasso can be used for homeschool students, small group Bible studies, youth discipleship groups, youth counseling, youth retreats and conferences, or one-on-one mentoring.

This study was intended to be used with others, as there are lots of discussion questions. The Teacher’s Manual contains the “meat” for the meetings-usually once weekly. The lessons begin with a story of two boys who set off on an adventure, which it uses to make connections and application with Biblical text as well as a student’s own experiences/opinions.

How we used it:

Our boys are currently 14 and 17. We attempted this in a similar fashion that they would be used to from youth group. We also followed the Teaching Outline for each lesson but saved the story for last. Below is a sample of how we did Lesson 1: The Beginning.

  • Day 1 Start with prayer and read key verses. Brief overview of Proverbs, asking them what they knew about Solomon and discussing his life (briefly). Read all 3 parts of the story. Discussed some of the points in the outline. Introduced them to the Homework Manual, reminding them to use their own journals (notebooks) as they were both sharing the one we had. (note to self: each student really needs their own) Let them know that they did have the right to “classify” some of the information in their journals, meaning that if it was a topic they didn’t want to discuss together or at all, they were free to do so. It was their alone time with the Lord.
  • Meet up the following week on the same day. Discussed their answers. Got feedback.

Final thoughts:

Overall my 14 year old was VERY excited about this curriculum. Both of them were enthralled with the story but for him it really “clicked.” He kept asking if it was the day to do “Prasso.” The 17 year old enjoyed it as well, just wasn’t as animated. He’s my quiet type. Overall we were very impressed with this and plan to continue using it. As a group, though, we have decided that it *might* be a better idea to meet daily to discuss. Not only does it keep the topic fresh in their minds, but it also helps us study together daily since we used it in a homeschool setting.

 

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Prasso Ministries Review

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Blog Challenge Day 2: Quotes

I have so many favorite quotes, Scriptures, songs, hymns, etc. that narrowing it down to one was just TOO hard. So-I decided to share 3!! 

I’m a very visual person so I love to have these hanging around my home whenever possible too :)

 

As quoted by Ghandi

 
I am a firm believer in ‘walking our talk.’ Our faith talk that is. And it does NOT include picket signs *grin*

 

Mark 9

 
No, not name it and claim it as in if I ‘believe’ then anything I want will come to pass. God is NOT a genie. But I do believe in miracles and if you hang out here long enough and/or visit my archives, you will know why!

  


One of my favorite hymns no matter how it is sung. I love Contemporary Christian music as much as the next person but there is just something about hymns. I don’t know-they aren’t so ‘me’ focused. And they ALL carry a story. 

I’m linking up with:

 http://www.glimpseofourlife.com/2015/07/quote-july-blogging-challenge-day-2.html?m=1 
  

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The Good, The Bad, And The Grace of God~a book review

 
We enjoy watching Duck Dynasty as a family-the laughs, their openness in sharing their faith, and well…Uncle Si. I have read nearly every book they have put out but I have to say that this one is my favorite so far. 

Very candid, holding nothing back, Jep and Jessica share “The good, the bad and the grace of God.” Written in first person, alternating chapters, I love how this book flows. It’s like sitting in on a conversation. The chapters are also short which is how I prefer it ;)

You will laugh but you most certainly will cry, when you read about these two. Their candidness, honesty and transparency is refreshing. 

There are also family pictures included in the book from their earlier days. 

My 15 year old son also read and enjoyed this book. It’s encouraging to see faith walked out day to day in a believer’s life. Word of caution: while not graphic or overly detailed there are some themes which may not be suitable for younger readers. That said I found it handled more cleanly than any other biography and I had no trouble reading it. 

May God continue to bless Jep and Jessica as they recover from October. 

This book is very difficult to put down once you start reading it!!
*i was given this book by BookLook in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely this author’s. 

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SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers~a TOS Crew Review

SmartKidz Media Review
 

Many times in our homeschool, we enjoy adding media to round out our studies. Media, whether video or audio, can offer a fun alternative to your book or text work. Sure, we can read about the Sahara Desert, but how much more is it likely to stick if we actually saw it?!? Being a media fan, I was glad to be chosen to review the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers by SmartKidz Media.

What it is:

This is a subscription-based website that offers a digital media library for homeschoolers. Topics range from things such as Ebooks, Baby Signs Program, Living Skills Program, Learning Special Needs and more. Included in those topics, areas such as international cooking, history and science are included. Study guides and some games (located in the Fun Zone) are also included! When you, or your child log in, you won’t have to worry about any pop-ups, ads or links to other websites. SmartKidz Media offers monthly or annual subscription plans.

Media can be accessed, and played, on any mult-media device such as a computer or tablet. (We used an HDMI cable and hooked the laptop up to our regular TV!)  The website states that the company is currently working on an App for the iPad/iPhone. Digital media may also be played using a Roku (disclaimer: we were not able to do this-we tried multiple times and downloaded several apps). They are also working on adding more videos.

What we received:

A one year subscription to SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. This includes everything they offer.

How we used it:

Our family includes the dad and I, and our kiddos: 17, 14, 8, and 6. All in various stages of learning. All with various interests. The children and I did the majority of the viewing. I even played some of the games!! ;) Until the youngers caught me and then they wanted to play! We watched multiple videos to add to our current learning.

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Hooked up via HDMI cable streaming from my laptop to the TV.

Our oldest is a History buff so he enjoyed watching the many videos that have available in this area, specifically those on ancient history. He is also intrigued by Roman history and how it coincides with today. We decided to watch a few of those as a family.

Right out of the gate with the first video we noted a problem, at least for our family. The video wasn’t young earth friendly (which isn’t necessarily always a problem-we aren’t sure ourselves how old the earth is), however with our youngers I try to avoid age as much as possible. Especially theories. Call me overprotective or whacky, that’s just what works for our family. Another precaution is that it isn’t particularly geared toward Creationism either. Some of the images were graphic, and at times, violent. There are also images of less than desirable clothing–again, something we as a family take issue with. I understand the rationale-the native culture-but 6 and 8 are too young to introduce that too. We stopped the video immediately.

The next stop was the food videos. We were intrigued by the International Cuisine and all of my kids LOVE to cook and watch those types of shows. It was really neat to watch all of the different ways food is prepared from all over. My youngers got very squeamish, however, especially when an eel made an appearance ;)

Probably the youngest girls favorite part was the games-particularly finding the object hidden in a picture. They did have some trouble “matching” the item to the picture perfectly-as in getting in lined up correctly, and gave up after a while.

Final thoughts:

There has been tremendous thought, time and talent put behind the creating of this amazing virtual library. And with new titles coming soon, I’m excited to see what is in store. While some of the videos didn’t work for us, the beauty of this program is that there are SO many choices!

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SmartKidz Media Review

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