Saturday, January 26, 2013

Commit to a Healthy Lifestyle

Commit to a Healthy Lifestyle

When a physician says it’s just minor surgery, you can take it to the bank that it’s major.  What the surgeon told me would only take a few days of recovery time, took more like three weeks! Two of which were spent rolling in agony on my bed, praying to Jesus to either heal me NOW or take me home!

Then a friend showed up on my doorstep. The bearer of good gifts and healing remedies. At the time I wasn’t so sure. Now, after 18 years, I know these healthy concoctions actually do work, if you stick at it. With a big grin on her face, she proudly explained, “I’ve whipped up some fresh carrot juice with pear for you. I’ll bring you some every day and we’ll see if you recover faster.” She then instructed me to drink the pint of juice within 48 hours, since it would turn rancid after that. I did as she said, and discovered that carrot juice wasn’t that bad. By the end of the week, I was feeling better and actually craving the stuff! I was hooked.

I still am. If I go for more than two or three days without juice, I can tell a difference in my energy level and overall wellbeing. My body thrives on the raw, natural juice. I usually drink 16 ounces a day, one glass in the morning and one in the afternoon. If I am treating an ailment, I drink more. Along with the juicing, I eat raw salads, fruit, and nuts. In the evening, I eat some cooked foods along with salad. Raw foods make up about 80% of my diet. I also drink distilled water throughout the day and try to walk or use the rebounder at least three to four times a week.

Here are some tips I have learned over the years concerning healthy living. Perhaps, they will help you, too.

Healthy living comes as a total package.  

While juicing and eating primarily raw foods is commendable, it cannot replace other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, such as a consistent exercise program, social interaction with like-minded friends, immersion in God’s Word and prayer, and emotional wellbeing. Take one of those factors away and the entire house of cards can come tumbling down. God created us a total package: body, soul, and spirit. One hinges on the other. It is vital to keep that in mind when addressing your health.

For example, if you refuse to forgive another person, you may eventually experience physical symptoms. That may very well be part of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 18:34 when he refers to the unforgiving man being delivered over to the torturers. In this day and age, the torturers can be poor health, guilt, bitterness, and anger. The way of peace is the way of forgiveness. Every day. Proverbs 3:7-8 encourages us to “fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” In another Proverb, Solomon reminds us that a merry heart does us good like medicine.

Set yourself up for success.  

It all starts with a plan. Take a sheet of paper and make four columns across the top, one for each area: physical, spiritual, emotional, and social. Under each category write down one or two goals you would like to work on. For instance, under physical, you may decide to set aside 30 minutes four times a week for a brisk walk. You may also write that you will research juicing and raw foods. I have listed some good resources for you at the end of this article to get you started. Under spiritual, you may write that you will spend at least 20 minutes six times a week meeting with God through His Word and prayer. You get the idea. Keep the goal within your reach. Better to start out slow and build, then aim too high and miss the mark.

Assess your progress routinely.  

An accountability partner is good here, someone who can help keep you on track. It may even be someone who has committed to doing a particular program with you. For instance, a friend who walks and does Pilates with you twice a week. Decide what isn’t working and what is working and make adjustments as needed. Don’t be discouraged if you fall off the horse once in awhile. Just get back up in the saddle and start riding again.

It all starts with commitment. In this New Year, commit to a healthy lifestyle by researching, setting goals, and monitoring progress.

Resources to get you started:

Hallelujah Acres Back to the Garden (800) 915-9355
God’s Way to Ultimate Health, A common sense guide for eliminating sickness through nutrition by Dr. George H. Malkmus
Recipes for Life from God’s Garden by Rhonda J. Malkmus
Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices, What’s Missing in Your Body? By N.W. Walker D. Sc.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Letter to My Daughter About Homeschooling

Today while browsing my Word documents I uncovered a letter I'd written several years ago to my daughter. As a new mother she asked me to jot down some things about homeschooling. Below was my response. As you can see, the few things turned into many, for I am still as passionate about home schooling as the day I began. Perhaps more so.


Hi Rachel,

Rebekah is a baby of many faces! She looks a little different in every picture. Glad you had a fun day yesterday.

Ah, yes, homeschooling.......well, here goes.....

1.  What it is, man! 

Homeschooling is the God-given right and privilege of every parent to design a particular type of education for his child. For the Christian parent, it involves under-girding every discipline of study with a biblical worldview so that the child is not only academically sound, but spiritually equipped to impact his world for Christ. Our scriptural basis for this conviction flows from Deuteronomy 6:1-9 where God instructs Jewish parents to teach and train their children to love the Lord their God with all their heart and with their soul and with all their might as they go about their daily affairs. The principle applies to the Christian parent in general, and thus the homeschooling community latched onto this scripture as strong support for home education, with the practical outworking taking place as you you you lie down. In other words, education is not limited to a classroom; it can take place anywhere, which makes the old adage, "the world is my classroom!" ring true. Although the apostle John is referring to spiritual "children" in 3 John 1:4, I also like to think of the verse for my own children and grandchildren, as what greater joy can there be when you have had the privilege of leading your own offspring to the truth and then seeing them run with it and walk in it. 

2.  Why it's done

I can't speak for your part of the world, although some factors may be similar, but I can speak for America. Generally speaking, most homeschool in America for the following reasons:

*   Why not? Since even the secular community recognizes parents as a child's first teachers
*   To be able to instill family values more easily (you have more hours together to reinforce what's important in your family life) 
*   To present a biblically-based education
*   To maintain control over what the child is learning
*   To allow the child to progress at his own pace
*   To shield him while he is impressionable from too much peer contact (when else in life does a person spend eight hours a day with only his age group?)
*   To allow creativity to flow (more flexible hours)
*   To train him to respect authority which begins with submission to parents (you have more time to fail, but also more time to recover and discover what does and what does not work)

3.  How to go about it (ah, so much can be said here; I am writing off the top of my head. I know you will have much to contribute on this point with your experience and teaching credential, a plus for many. I say many, because some have more trouble because they DO have a license, simply because they tend to expect more organization and such).

Again, the standards where you live may be different, or there may be no requirements in place. Here in America, there are basically three options:  Report yearly under the home education statute which requires either testing or a portfolio evaluation, apply for religious exemption, or just don't report at all. Requirements vary from state to state, and even from school district to school district, and much of what goes on is not even in accordance with the freedom presented in the Constitution. That's why it's good to be a member of a legal organization like Home School Legal Defense, at least here in America.

*   Pray about it as a couple. Read the scriptures about a parent's responsibility toward his child. Proverbs is a practical book to consider.

*   Read books on and about those who have home schooled. The Home School Legal Defense is a good organization to consult. With internet accessibility mushrooming in the last few years, everyone can research any topic they choose. Just type in "home education" and you will bring up a plethora of resources. Raymond and Dorothy Moore were the pioneers behind the modern homeschool movement back in the 70's. They wrote such books as Better Late Than Early, Home-stye Teaching, and Home School Burnout.

*   Together, take a sheet of paper and list the pros and cons of homeschooling. Pray over the list. If you sense a strong conviction that God is leading you to homeschool, you are ready to begin the adventure!

*   Again, do some research on skills that are learned in the early years (K-5, 1st, etc). The internet can help here again. You can then investigate ready-made curriculums (there are a host! ABeka and Bob Jones, Saxon Math being the most popular) or you can tailor make the curriculum for your child's personality, present skill level, and interests. This is what the Moores encourage in the early years, up to third grade. Too many workbooks and worksheets can discourage, as I had the misfortune to discover, but the happy circumstance to correct early on from consult with veteran home educators. As an aside, I believe second generation home schoolers will be much more effective in home education because they do not have the trappings of "traditional" school to fall back on. They only know what they experienced in their home, for better or worse. I believe most of them will be better equipped to take what they saw and experienced and feel free to adapt, throwing out what works and what doesn't without guilt!

*  After you've done some homework, sit down together again and list the areas of your child's development: spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, and social. Then begin to brainstorm under each category. What skills are typically learned at this age level? Is my child ready for this skill? (i.e. letters, reading, writing, etc.). What do I want to see my child learn or achieve in the physical area? (stop sucking his thumb, ride a bike, etc.). In the spiritual area? (embrace the gospel, personal devotions, pray out loud with the family). In the social area? (choosing godly friends, ministering in group settings). This requires becoming a student of your child. Who better to do that than a parent who loves his child better than anyone else? Hilary Clinton maintained that the whole "community" is responsible for the child, pulling more and more authority away from the parent. Hogwash! God instructed parents to teach and train their children. They may draw from other resources as they deem necessary and appropriate, but the reins are in their hands to steer their ponies as God has granted them authority to do.

*  After you have a good handle on what you want your child to learn (and for the young child this assessment may take place every couple months or so), you are ready to move forward with actual teaching. You can follow the ready-made curriculum of resources or you can take a more laid-back approach. The laid-back approach is encouraged for young children. Unit studies are great for this! Pick one topic (frogs, the solar system, rocks, Laura Ingles Wilder, etc.) and exhaust every angle you can from that topic: go to the library and look up books on the subject, search the internet, draw pictures, bake recipes related (early math skills), write papers on the topic, present a talk on the subject, build a replica of Walnut Grove, you get the idea!

Some of the best studies are the ones that the kids themselves generate through some interest they specifically have. Steph's was Adam and Eve, rocks, space, robots, Japan, ships and later, Pearl Harbor/WW II; Michelle was enamored by Christopher Columbus, porcelain dolls, baking, the childhood history books, and later the Titanic. And of course, you loved the mysteries of the solar system, the ocean, geography (now we know where that was going, don't we?), animals, and the childhood history series, also. Unit studies can be challenging, but if approached with the mindset of allowing the young child to set the course, it will be less frustrating. Actually, early childhood only requires that you read to your child at least 20 minutes a day, let her bake with you, and perform other household duties, and she WILL learn. About all kinds of things! Reading cereal boxes, recipes, directions of all sorts. Learning to count apples, or mangoes, or whatever fruit is available to you, and learning the colors of these objects. All things loving, attentive parents are going to do anyway. Worksheets can wait. When presented, they should be done in moderation and approached as "FUN SHEET.” And then, of course, as you and I know quite well, games can be such great tools for learning. I don't see how Rebekah will escape a love for games with both your and Nathan's fondness for them.

*  Evaluate again at the end of every "school year,” if you choose to identify a school year. Some don't and prefer it that way, since when does learning ever stop? 

4.  Benefits

Most have been mentioned previously, but the greatest benefit I see to home schooling, even over the academic consideration, is the family cohesiveness that is generated, and the spiritual life that is nurtured in an environment that allows the freedom of God's Spirit to work. Even if a family didn't do very much at all to facilitate active learning, just by virtue of the lack of exposure to certain negative elements, the child would be better off, except in cases of severe neglect and child abuse. MOST parents are loving and caring and want to provide their children with everything possible to grow them into mature, responsible adults. (As an aside, a good book I just did a review on for a mag is Raising Kids for Greatness. I'll try to remember to bring it when we come).

5.  Pitfalls

Besides the fact that home education can be just plain ole' hard work, challenging, and frustrating, I see little that is negative. Certainly, not every home schooler turns out to love God or walk responsibly, just as not every public/private school child turns out "right,” but for the most part, home schooling is not just a worthy pursuit but one which every Christian parent should at least consider and pray about. Those who say, "I could never teach my own child" are vastly deluded: They already are, just by virtue of their position! Besides, what child in America doesn't bring home a mountain of homework which the parent then has to navigate through with him, even after the child has spent eight hours in a classroom. In home schooling the parent and child learn TOGETHER, and in many instances, the child's understanding exceeds the parent's, especially if the child has a natural inclination towards a particular subject.

Others say, "I can't teach MY child; he would never listen to ME!" Again, a tragic, deluded statement. If the child does not learn to listen to his primary authority, it is suspect that he will ever truly learn to listen and appreciate other authority figures. Home education provides mega-doses of "field experience" in this area of authority, which will under-gird everything else in life.

A typical question is "What about my child's socialization if he is alone with me all day?"  I reply, "Would you rather have your impressionable child penned up with 25 other six-year-olds who breed contempt for parents, share their bad habits, and foul language?" Again, at no other time in life is a person surrounded by that many peers for that number of hours in the day. Healthy socialization is when a child can relate to many different age groups and feel at ease. Opportunities abound for that to occur: nursing home trips, summer camp, recreational departments, home school support groups (don't have one, start one), community volunteering, church activities, etc. etc. etc.

Pitfalls? If both parents are committed to the progress, it will work. While one parent may do more active teaching, both parents need to be on the same page, because home schooling does take commitment! There will be tears, frustration, times when you feel alone, uncertain how to teach, what to do, how to love, how to discipline. But it is a godly struggle you do together with much prayer and holy trepidation! 

Home schooling is the greatest pursuit a mom and dad can undertake! If God took me home right now, I'd be completely satisfied that I had completed all He had given me to do (of course, if He did that, I WOULD have completed all His work for me). That's how passionately I feel about the call to homeschool my three most precious treasures on this earth. I believe the greatest impact I will ever make for the Kingdom will come through them and through their children and their children. I'm forever grateful that I am already beginning to see just how extensive that impact is!

Well, I've gone on and on. I'm sure you could add, delete, modify, expand, whatever. It's great you have the opportunity to help others understand home education.


Monday, January 14, 2013

A Divine Appointment

A man wearing brown pants with beige dress shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, stocked the cracker shelves as I swerved around the corner with my grocery cart headed for the saltines.

“Hi, how are you today?” I said, sweeping past him.

“Good, how ‘bout you?” he countered with southern drawl while shoving a box of Ritz into an available spot. An overhead light beamed off the baseball-sized bald spot on the top of his head.

“Oh, fine, just fine.” I said, torn between scanning the shelves for my selection and exchanging cordialities.

Chattering on as if he hadn’t talked to anyone all day, he spoke of everything from the weather to his first grandchild due the end of October.

A bell sounded in my head. This was a topic near and dear to my heart, for my husband and I now had five grandchildren, the latest born in our home only weeks earlier, and the sixth on his way the beginning of October.

The man’s glasses slid down his nose as he reached to unpack another box. His wiry, sandy-colored hair stuck out over his forehead like a visor. Somewhat stocky, his belly loped over his belt when he squatted to straighten the cracker boxes on the bottom shelf. His daughter, only nineteen, would give birth to a son, he told me, lining up a row of Ritz like new army recruits.

“I was just getting used to the empty nest, and now this—I can hardly believe I’m going to be a grandfather.”

I had been where he was four years ago. With two weddings in one year and two babies the next, I was still gulping for air.

“I know what you mean,” I assured, lamely glancing at him one second and squinting at the saltines the next.

“But you have to let them go. You do the best you can raising them, then you just have to let them go,” he said, forcibly brushing his hands together to illustrate his words.

I inched my cart down the aisle, but paused out of politeness when he continued talking.

“I wonder, though, young people today probably won’t discipline their kids the way I was brought up. It was a trip to the woodshed for me. Yep, I learned a thing or two with the strap.”

Nodding, I assessed whether to stick around and humor this stock boy—well, man—with more of my presence or make my getaway.

Was this a divine appointment the Lord had placed in my way on this sunny September morn?

As we conversed more about the need for discipline in our culture, a story popped into my head.

“You know, you’re right, discipline is so important for children. I remember a speaker I listened to once share how he decided to teach his children a significant lesson after they had misbehaved one day.”

The man’s eyes flitted to my face as he reached for yet another large cardboard box full of crackers.

“The father told his two children to come into the bedroom. Once there, he pulled his shirt off, handed them each a leather belt, leaned over the mattress, and told them to whip his back with the belts.”

A whisper of a frown passed over the man’s face as he cocked his head to listen.

“Well, as you might expect, the children were totally confused. ‘Daddy,’ they said in unison, ‘why do you want us to spank you? We’re the ones who did wrong.’”

“‘Yes, you did wrong,’ the father stated, “’but I want you to whip me. I will take your punishment.’”

“’No, Daddy, we can’t let you do that!’”

“By now big crocodile tears were inching their way down the children’s cheeks.

“’Please, Daddy, we can’t do this!’

“The father insisted, and the children struck him with the belts, over and over again at his command. His back, layered with red stripes, pulsed with pain. His children dropped to the floor weeping uncontrollably.

“The father turned, stooped and stretched his arms around his broken children. ‘That, my children, is what Jesus did for us. He took the punishment that we deserve when He died on the cross.’

“The children never forgot their father’s lesson, nor did they ever require a spanking again.”

With eyebrows arched like Howdy-Dowdy, the man stood frozen for a second, “Yep, that’s a powerful lesson, all right.” Shaking his head, he retrieved more cracker boxes and resumed shelving.

“Well, you have a good day now; nice talking with you,” I said, gripping the cart handle.

“Yeah, you too. Have a good one.” He waved a hand, signaling the end of the conversation. Yet, something in his eyes indicated he would be thinking on our visit for some time to come.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Experience More of India!

After 28 hours we're finally home! After listening to yapping dogs, horns blowing, varied voices, water sloshing, the early morning Muslim call to prayer and military drills, it's pretty quiet on the homefront this morning. God awakened me with a gorgeous sunrise! 
There truly is no place like home. 

Below is a shot I captured from our plane while waiting in Frankfurt.

I also took a pic out the window at 36K feet as we flew over the English Channel, Wales, and Ireland. Ah, to visit those places! 

To continue your experience with India, pick up my Born for India trilogy at the following locations:

Thanks so much for hanging in there with me over the last three weeks in India!

I have an exciting slate of authors joining me to discuss their current or upcoming releases! So stay tuned for more!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Teaching Indian Teens How to Write

Today I had the incredible privilege of sharing my writing journey and insights with a few Indian students.

The students were so polite. When I entered the classroom, they all stood as a sign of respect for their teacher whom they called, "Madam." I told them to sit. Then I had each one share their name and age. One by one they stood to speak, then sat. At the conclusion of the class, they all stood again and in unison said, "Thank you, Madam, for your kind instruction." Such respect would not even be imagined in America. 

I asked one of the boys to capture a few moments of our class. In this pose, I'm showing the students how to create a list of possible topics for writing based on their interests, hobbies, experiences, and jobs. 

I also asked the students to write two paragraphs about themselves as keepsakes for me of our time together.

We discussed how to set up an effective writing environment, how to use the five senses to enhance our writing, and how various disciplines such as art, science, and theology might compare to writing (observe, interpret, apply).

Later I met with the teachers to discuss with them how to use various learning styles, individual student interests and personalities, to create a better teacher/student experience. They shared concerns about student discipline, so we brainstormed some possibilities.

All in all the day was one of my best here yet! 

The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...