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Ethel Barrett CD #2 of Stories for Children: Stop in your tracks! Bible stories Ethel Barrett CD #2 of Stories for Children: Stop in your tracks! Bible stories: Memorably told stories to build the faith of young children. Enjoy listening to the telling of these. . . more >>





Parenting agonies may be more important than we know

Friday, 21. July 2017 by Renee Ellison

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When pondering Christ’s statement on the cross—”Father, why have You abandoned me?”—apparently God had not told Christ ahead of time that such a moment would be INCLUDED in His Son’s cosmic comprehensive work of redemption. Perhaps, at least from our limited human perspective, it may have frightened Christ to experience it, having never been separated from His Father from eternity past—not for one moment.

Note that Christ didn’t say, “I HURT; I am in physical agony.” Apparently this moment of emotional abandonment was so searing it trumped His physical pain, which was considerable. Yet his next sentence was: “Into THY hands I commend My spirit.” This was like Job, who declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” The Lord didn’t go in search of a different god, a different answer. Thus He further proved, in His final moment there, His own unwavering faith—a final perfection of the expression of His infinitely holy character. ‘Tis an amazing juxtaposition of two sentences. ‘Tis an amazing appendage to an already huge work.

We can deduce from this that our personal emotional agonies are of great importance to God. Parental churnings are no exception. When we suffer the outer edges of parental agony in prayer over attempting to establish the kingdom of God in our children, we do, in microcosm, what God Himself does. “God, do you even hear my prayers?” may be THE very treasure that He is garnering from our adult lives. Note that we ask such a question at the foot of HIS throne, not somewhere else.

Parent, your agonies are heavenly luggage—heavy for now, but, do not be surprised if they are resplendent upon your arrival.

Book of Teaching Tips!

Wednesday, 21. June 2017 by Renee Ellison

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If you, as an adult, were being taught something brand new to you (think Latin or calculus), would you want a skilled tutor or a clueless upstart to be teaching you? No doubt the clueless upstart would routinely waste your time, complicating and confusing something that could be made simple by a far more able teacher.

The hallmark of an outstanding tutor is his or her ability to deliver academic clarity in all cases.

Learning is often needlessly difficult, not because of a student’s supposed limited capacity but because of the teacher’s/tutor’s incompetency. Gaining a few well-targeted teaching/ tutoring principles, strategic organizations and eye-opening tips can bring blue sky to an otherwise muddled pedagogy.

Skillful tutoring can now be yours! It is delivered to you in large pictures and the simplest of print. Get your copy of Razor Sharp Teaching Tips and you’ll soon be teaching with skill you never dreamed you could have.

By reading this “get-it-right-the first-time” road map to home school excellence, you’ll have those razor-sharp effective tools at your fingertips in no time. You’ll know what you are doing—and why you are doing it—from the get-go.

This book collects Renee Ellison’s exceptional educational strategies, which she has taught for decades at homeschool conventions, into an easily understood parental primer. These are mature, seasoned principles, procedures and practices, honed in the trenches of actually being there in schools, with hundreds of children, as well as gathered from her work with scores of families throughout the homeschooling process.

This “big-picture-overview” quick training will eliminate parental brain fog for you, netting you remarkable results. Grab this easy book and you’ll find it the friend you’ve been looking for: a take-home TEACHER of your very own, to TEACH you how to TEACH.

Children’s Bible book list

Monday, 12. June 2017 by Renee Ellison

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Enticing your children to love the Bible is done by giving them irresistible first impressions. The following is a list of splendid renderings of the scriptural narrative to do just that. Each of the books listed was selected for its beautiful artwork as well as for its narrative.

When picking Bibles for children it is important to avoid artwork that is too scary or artwork that gives the impression that the Bible is fantasy. You would be safe with any of the following choices. You are likely to be able to find these at used prices online (Abebooks.com or Amazon.com or others).

  • The Children’s Discovery Bible: Discovering God’s Word for the First Time, by Charlene Heibert and Drew Rose (Chariot Victor Publishing, 1996). This book is two-thirds pictures, one-third text. Use this if you have very limited time to get the Bible into someone ELSE’s child—a child in the neighborhood or a relative’s child who is visiting your for a week or two in the summer, etc. The shorter time you have with a child, the shorter the Bible must be.

  • The Bible-Time Nursery Rhyme Book, by Emily Hunter (1998). To replace pagan nursery rhymes that teach nothing of value.

  • My Bible Friends, by Etta Degering, 5 volumes (1977). Gorgeous pictures.

  • The Bible Story, by Arthur S. Maxwell, 10 volumes (Pacific Press, 1953).

  • Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, by Arthur S. Maxwell, 5 volumes (1929-1976). True stories by a master story teller, teaching noble character.

  • The New Panorama Bible Study Course, by Alfred Thompson Eade, 4 volumes (OakKnollPublishing.com—phone 1-541-846-6534). A pictorial overview.

  • The Child’s Story Bible, by Catherine F. Vos. Used in schools from 1935 on.

  • My Very First Golden Bible, by Dana Forrest Kennedy (1991). Large print. Simple, first good independent reader of the Bible.

  • The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible, by Janice Emmerson (Harvest House Publishers, 2014, ISBN 10: 0736962131 ISBN 13: 9780736962131). Two-page full spread pictures with a story narrative of the Bible, all contained in one volume.

  • The Picture Bible by Iva Hoth (Chariot Books, 1978-1998). Great for 6th graders on up; it uses cartoons of realistic-looking people.

  • The Catechism for Young Children with Cartoons, by Vic Lockman, Books I and II (1994).
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The best schooling is local and the better schooling is in the home

Friday, 10. February 2017 by Renee Ellison

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If you have felt that something is DRASTICALLY the matter with the public schools in America, you are right.

To know WHY you are right, check out these two insightful, enraging books: Crimes of the Educators by Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld and The Cult of Common Core (an insider’s view) by Steve McQueen.

The upshot of both books is that we need to return EVERYTHING pertaining to education back to the local level. There is no NEED for a federal department of education at ALL. It began under President Carter, against the wishes of Republicans.

Washington, D.C. now has three buildings filled with education administrators. Maybe you saw a collection of them the other day during the first speech of Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of Education. I thought, how could they POSSIBLY understand, let alone solve LOCAL problems of curriculum choices, violence issues, dispensation of money, etc. You need feet on the ground to wisely and effective respond to such challenges. These self-appointed individuals gladly rushed in to fill the vacuum left by ousting God, setting themselves up in effect as the new gods over the minds of other people’s children. They knew better about everything.

The subtle reason they WANT such bureaucracy is to usurp parental preferences with a BETTER agenda, held in the hands of a few elites, to steer the country in the directions THEY dictate for THEIR purposes. We have no control over the ideologies of who the THEY are. But one thing is certain: they are after rearranging social issues, not cognitive ones. Sex education, drug education, multiculturalism, gender issues are all marks of it. Sensitivity training, group think, values clarification are all substitutes for the values that once came from the Bible, but now must be redefined without God.

CONTROL over curriculum (i.e., shaping the minds of the population) from one central place leads straight to socialist/collectivist ends. In China those in control “persuaded” the people that the collective mind is better than the independent mind. That ALWAYS leads straight to the use of FORCE, and oppression to accomplish it. A quarter of a million people were slaughtered during the last century to bring in such utopias, all over the world, unfettered. WHO controls our children is everything. And yes—the best schooling is local and the bettER schooling occurs inside the local HOME.

Some thoughts on the care of our elderly loved ones

Thursday, 09. February 2017 by Renee Ellison

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Our care of the elderly is really three-pronged:

One: Protection
from the cold, cruel world. The physical shelter alone and the food one provides, at far less expense than any commercial solution anywhere, gives their life a SURE context/structure/dependable fortress.

Two: Psychological stability

You are there to diffuse many and relentless anxieties right at the “letting out of waters.” You embody comfortable, familiar sameness from their past. Also, you and your family’s presence provides variety by the rush of life that swishes past them, rather than abandon them to gaping, no-ending loneliness, of absolutely nothing happening, long day after long night.

Three: Nursing

Since the very condition of old age is that the body starts falling apart in little ways and in big. You are constantly mitigating that pain/discomfort by immediate alternative solutions as much as possible. When left alone, they let maladies of all sorts go until they reach crisis/hospital stageEVERY time.

The one driving thought that should give us tender endurance along the “care-taking” way, is that someday we, too, are likely to be in the same conditionwanting any and all kindnesses. It is hard work, but God never said it would be easy. There are secret silver linings behind all of his just dispensations, if we look for them. Our lot in life is hand-picked FOR us. Even if we COULD design our own lives, would we even WANT the job? Surely, with limited sight we would craft for ourselves bigger messeswith less noble outcomes.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Lifeless amusements

Sunday, 25. December 2016 by Renee Ellison

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An alarm: At a time of year when daylight is shorter and outdoor recreation opportunities are more restrictive, understanding some key principles could affect how much time you’ll let your little ones sit down in front of any type of visual media (TV, DVDs, movie theaters, YouTube videos, video games, etc). Get these insights under your belt and you’ll be less apt to be duped into passivity over this vital mental (and spiritual) issue.

Muse means “to think,” but “a-muse” means NOT “to think;” our families are dangerously swimming in long hours of such mindlessness. The alarm is that we think this is normal. This blog post is an attempt at tossing some life preservers into this tidal wave. When viewed historically, it becomes obvious that our modern proclivity for amusement is not normal—it has an insidious undertow. Consider these thoughts drawn from Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death.

The problem:
  • Too often, entertainment does not lead to any meaningful action. Instead, it provides pointless quantity, and its audiences are overtaken by irrelevance and novelty.
  • We have almost an infinite appetite for distraction. We’re after applause, not reflection.
  • Standards have become a slippery slope of objective truth. One person’s PG-13 rating is another person’s R.
  • TV courtrooms are filled with—? Reading, on the other hand, trains us in delaying arriving at a verdict until the entire argument has been presented, from multiple sides. To be true, justice needs to abhor contradiction, be deductive, and have a tolerance for delayed responses. In other words: justice is the good fruit of jurors who are detached, analytical, and devoted to logic.
  • We are afflicted with pleasure (and with pleasure-seeking). We soothe the deep regions of our discontent with entertainment. Books, on the other hand, require quiet scrutiny; they even require something of our physical bodies. We have to sit long enough to read an argument through.
  • Pictures can never get at the larger abstractions of truth, honor, love, and falsehood.
  • Seeing, not reading (much less, thinking), has become the basis for believing.

Thinking:

  • “You press a button; we do the rest.” Such a phrase would have been unthinkable in our past history. What does this mean, really? Has media data, delivered in such a manner, actually told or taught us anything?
  • TV-disseminated information often is so random and disparate in scale and value as to be incoherent, even psychotic.
  • Entertainment offers fascination and triviality in place of complexity and coherence.
  • TV raised the image and instancy to a dangerous perfection, superseding rational thought.
  • The public has adjusted to incoherence and has been amused into indifference.
  • Information about celebrities and entertainers has become serious cultural content. Even politics and policy making has become entertainment. Too often, the populace has voted based on style, looks, and great one-liners, rather than judgment, justice, wisdom, discretion, rationality, deduction, inference, character, and a habit of being prudent. A mindless democracy could release an undisciplined individualism.

News:

  • We hear news without consequences. The “and NOW this” tells us that what we have JUST heard and seen has no relevance with what we are ABOUT to see and hear.
  • From media we get clues about how we are supposed to respond to the world around us. What sort of clues?
  • Endless pictures and imagery short-circuit introspection.
  • News commentators are overrun with ingratiating enthusiasms as they report on earthquakes and mass killings.
  • The viewer is not permitted to pay attention to a concept, a person, or problem for more than a few minutes (with the exception of politics, perhaps—and then it is an overdose, from one slant or another).

Media church:

  • The high praises of God are sandwiched between commercials. Huh?
  • People will eat, go to the bathroom and do push-ups during media church.
  • Alluring visual imagery replaces the Ten Commandments. Nothing is required of you; there are no demands.
  • A preacher’s close-up televised face makes idolatry a continual hazard. Despite the references to the great HE, the focus is on the “he” in front of you.
  • We have grown accustomed to receiving our politics, our news and our church all in the same way.
  • Edwards, Finney, Whitefield, on the other hand, spent long hours in their studies. Their sermons were so profound, they went past reason into regions of conscience. The modern tel-evangelist requires nothing of the watcher, no demands of the soul; no adherence to the Ten Commandments—only alluring visual imagery and modern sounds.

Merchandising:

  • For the sale of products, too often emotions rule over reason.
  • With the exception of store items online, decisions about advertised products tend to be made from images rather than from specs/facts/claims (tests of truth).
  • Capitalism used to be a rational market of mutual self-interest, but now we have shifted from product research to market research.

TV education:

  • Does away with sequence and continuity. Thou shalt have no prerequisites to your thinking.
  • Depends upon brevity of expression and instancy; it disdains exposition.
  • Reading and writing are exchanged for t-shirts and cookie-jars.
  • Media is all about the present, with no access to the past except when it is perverted to serve an agenda.
  • The modern mind has grown indifferent to history. We are distracted by trivia.
  • Education was always supposed to free the student from the tyranny of the present. Shows like Sesame Street, on the other hand, do not encourage children to love school, they encourage them to love TV.

Problem solving:

  • Uncertainty is intolerable in a culture that is dictated by the mass media.
  • All problems are solvable, they are solvable fast, and technology and chemistry are the only means of solving them. No reference is made to patience, prayer, delay, etc. as agents of problem solving. There are no photos of Abe Lincoln smiling. Perplexity and complexity are avoided, because they have become a superhighway to low ratings.
  • We believe that being sold solutions is better than being confronted with questions.

Intimacy:

  • The fiber-optic cable has replaced co-presence.
  • People don’t get to know their neighbors when they stop interacting face to face.
  • Social media has replaced large amounts of real sociability— particularly in our own families.


What’s the conclusion?
We have a problem. We’re sinking away from reality in our homes via this long hobnobbing with popular mass media. Think: as a result of the influence of the world’s media in our homes, is eternity a lesser reality or a greater reality for us? Where IS eternity in the media? Who is shaping the mental diet of our children? To what ends?


Suggested solutions:

Awake and see that our exposure to popular mass media is a problem. Most of our culture sees NO problem. For us, more time spent in the printed word and, especially, in HIS Word can insulate us from being totally taken underwater on this point. TV doesn’t ban books, it just displaces them. It encourages us to watch continually, rather than to evaluate, analyze, cogitate, pray…

Keep in mind that when you take away vast quantities of media you must fill the void with something better. Reading good missionary biographies and other histories is a good start. Indoor exercise bikes and little rebounders are also great productive uses of time, and promote health. Family cooking projects can be great sport and can provide togetherness. Entrepreneurial advances marshal stray hours into good purposes. Visiting the elderly —offering joy to someone else via your attentive listening—is a wonderful use of time. Playing a musical instrument (practicing stimulates the brain in meaningful ways) and family singing in parts is another positive avenue. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not have access to the media, and they did not die from its absence. They lived meaningfully and progressively under God’s good guidance. Enlarge your perspective and keep it enlarged; you’ll not regret it.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Don’t train an escape artist

Monday, 05. December 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Psychologists talk about how all humans are involved in endless two-choice dilemmas. Life is full of either/or decisions, and all normal maturing adults (and children in godly homes who are being shaped for adulthood) work through picking one or the other, all through life, as they go—with big decisions and little. Each of us makes hundreds of choices every day. Now here is the profound thing: as we choose, we actualize who we are. That is where we must be involved, as homeschool parents, because the patterns are being formed in childhood. The choices are the warp and woof of how the fabric of life is set up, and we live within it. It cannot ultimately be escaped; it can only temporarily be escaped.

Thus, when one encounters a person (often, a member of one’s immediate family) who refuses to decide a two-choice dilemma concerning himself/herself, regarding a given matter, but instead chooses a third way (one that is not a valid option), one is then dealing with a person who is involved in an escape of some sort. This escapism can manifest as an addiction, rebellion, or a behavioral defect of some sort. Any opting out of reality (kicking the can down the road, ignoring it, constantly switching horses, running, serial relationships, drinking, drugs, misdemeanors, crimes, etc.) is an untenable attempt to solve life’s problems by avoiding the two-choice dilemma.

Given such facts about how life works, one should be aware if one is involved in dealing with a person with a dysfunctional response pattern. Seeing this, one can respond rationally, saying things like: “You may either do this or you may do that.”

The disoriented person is only entertaining third options. He or she wants “all /and” choices, which don’t really exist. Therefore, he can’t resolve his issues or himself. In that case, coasting may look like a good option, and/or appearing to obey while not really obeying the household rules and the family values. For such a one, irresponsibility starts looking better and better. What they are really deciding is to ditch any relational responsibilities, ignore the family legacy, disdain the upholding of family honor, disregard any implications of making poor choices, just ditch. It takes root when the troubled individual digs in his heels and avoids two-choice dilemmas like the plague.

So, what can you a homeschooling parent do if you have a child who seems to be veering in this direction? There are responses we can make that can have great affect in shaping the child’s behavior for life. One is to recognize the two-choice dilemma, to require the child to choose one of the two allowed options—don’t allow third choice escapes. Creative third choices that you both agree upon are fine, and to make sure that the child fully experiences the fall-out of his/her choice.

Teach reading faster

Sunday, 27. November 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Some who are teaching young children how to read find it tedious—or, even, a nightmare. As I continue to cogitate on this problem, it strikes me that although the child who is about to learn how to read arrives there with five years of massive auditory phonemic imprinting, we spend the bulk of our formal teaching of beginning-reading-time going over that same territory.

Conversely, the pre-reading child reaches that stage with virtually no tactile/visual discrimination of letter symbols when they are separated from hearing them. If this is true, then, it would seem that we would do well to focus our teaching efforts on catching up the “touching and eye-balling” part, rather than majoring on the auditory part (which the child already has confidently tackled).

The parent who voices the same trigger word and isolated sound over and over again while the child traces huge letter symbols, gets the job done. This method builds confidence, as the parent is basically showing the child that “this letter does not say several things, it says the same thing every time I see it.” The successful parent/teacher is not drawing the child’s attention to multiple examples of the sound in different settings (mother, munchies, Monday, moon, etc.)—which the child already knows in spades.

The child who is just learning to read needs the visual keys, not more hearing. This shift in emphasis builds confidence, because the child learns that this letter does not say several things, it says the same thing every time. This approach allows the vast auditory part to then assist the newly acquired tactile part, steadied by only one auditory example, far more subtly—something that happens even subconsciously.

Therefore, perhaps we as instructors of beginning readers need to switch gears and think that we are teaching drawing classes instead of reading classes!

This deliberate shift in our thinking could make a huge difference in our outcomes. It seems we might need to park here for a while, at the outset. The objective? to get the child to know those symbols in his or her hand, via copious tracing of very large letters, calling them only by their phonetic sound, not by the alphabet letter’s name, before ever embarking upon the second step of putting letters together to make words.

Then—amazingly—the two already acquired sub-skills come together in a beautiful synergism and the child finds reading a dream. The subsequent step is only a small hop, to glue letters together in a line to make words. Far too many children do not learn to read in this way, and as a result they trip and stumble over the reading process for far too many years. Perhaps we have had the emPHAsis on the wrong syLAble!

Note: this system is not applicable to learning a foreign language, nor is it suitable for the child who is already steeped in Spanish or Hebrew as a second language, for example, where the auditory part has to be built up from scratch, too! It would only apply to a child who is learning to read in his own native tongue.

For more information and to order, see the product page for the new Fast Phonics course.

What fasting IS—and why we might want to employ it now

Monday, 07. November 2016 by Renee Ellison

Prayer is a mystery. Why it is that offering prayer from weak humanoids is necessary to move an invincible God, who can do everything withOUT it, is THE mystery. But given God’s earnest command to do it, we can infer some things about it. What if God, for some very high reason, has limited Himself for a “season” to certain LEGAL restrictions upon himself in a wager with the devil—which He plays out in front of principalities and powers? If so, that would explain much.

The wager could have gone something like this: “If My believers don’t pray, you can mess with them, but if they do pray, I get to overrule you and get total access to them to act on their behalf.” Aha. So God may be looking for “legal access” to us via our fledgling prayers, regardless of our efforts at flowery language? He pleads with us, “Just PRAY! Please, just DO IT,” almost frantic to get through to us that it is NECESSARY to possibly release Him from His own contractual restrictions, to act? Prayer just may be part of an unbinding ceremony, on a stage: the more prayer, the more the celestial ropes fly off.

Kneeling in prayer raises the bar a bit more. Look at what we say when we bow. We are saying that we believe God even exists, otherwise we would be praying to…nothing? And that we are coming HERE, not to the local nightclub to get our needs met. All this is said by our body, before words ever cross our lips.

And then let us consider the possibility that fasting affects even more in the heavenlies, because now every cell in our body prays. Yes, assuredly, it does. Fasting lassos all the groans and sighs that words cannot express—embedding them also into our prayers, PLUS it gathers from the metaphysical world the unknown spiritual capacity of even our cells and DNA. For now, we present ourselves before the Almighty in our weakest possible state, humbled by hunger, our most powerful posture. In doing so, one finds that fasting is a further school of prayer. Once engaged in it, the Spirit leads us out into “praying-regions” we didn’t know existed. Fasting is the ultimate plea of the supplicant to the Redeemer.

Righteous physical self-denial results in concrete spiritual transactions. We see it even with Christ, the Redeemer. It was not enough for Him to THINK redemptive thoughts toward us; He had to come down and lay His physical body on the line to accomplish it definitively.

When we fast, each time our body insists “that it wants to eat NOW” it raises a question. Our “digestive anguish” clarifies issues for us. In Esther’s fast, the Jewish believers had to decide: “Do I really want to allow our nation/race to be exterminated, if by foregoing a bowl of rice, I can “stay” such an atrocity?” This was Esau’s question, too. “Trade my inheritance for a bowl of lentils? Sure.” Where AM I, morally, in desperate choices? Fasting asks this question not once, but 1,000 times a day. Am I merely a hopeless “indulge-a-thon,” willing to go down, veritably sink, in order to please myself temporarily? Or are righteous appetites somewhere on my plate?

Fasting shows that we are “all in” with a desperate request. Might now be such a time in history to employ it?

Regardless of the personalities involved, look at the wide difference in the platforms before us as a nation. Am I hoping that babies will be safe in all wombs, or am I willing to stand by and allow them to be ripped apart anytime, even 9 months into the game, via the edict of liberal Supreme Court judges? How important is it that I be able to educate my own children at home vs. sacrificing them to the high church of secular humanism required for 12 long years. Might now be such a time to employ fasting, NOW, while all religious liberties are at stake on the one hand and the reign of tyranny looms over the believer, on the other?

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Do you suffer, relationally?

Wednesday, 28. September 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Relational suffering is truly vicarious suffering—suffering due to someone else’s choices or behaviors. Why are the saints of the Lord not exempt from this kind of suffering; didn’t He already bear it?

There is a mystery here:

“I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body” (Colossians 1: 24).

Huh? What? His colossal work on the Cross did not complete the suffering needed in the universe? It wasn’t enough?


Yes, it was enough—for Him. But, no, apparently it wasn’t enough for us. The thing couldn’t be fully understood until those who are called by His name taste of it, too.

The Lord did the lion’s share of it, but He left his saints still to experience some personal, specific, additional suffering around the edges. He left some wheat to be garnered, after His own cosmic plowing and harvest. The purpose? That we might understand at a more visceral depth what it is He did for us. He purposed that we should share the experience of suffering in order to be ever more one with Him for eternity. It has been said that “love is what we’ve been through together.” Rest assured that in all of His perplexing dispensations, the Lord is ever only after increased camaraderie with us—camaraderie in all its fullness. He is the consummate lover. He knows how to do this thing called love.

Vicarious suffering also extends the Savior’s suffering through His saints to the world—even after He returned to heaven. There is bleeding still. We bear in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus. So, homeschool mother, wife, let us be patient and let us trust. Let us yield to His sure hand. His work is ever deep and infinite, both upon us and through us.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips