God’s Law ~ law(s)

God's Law LAW part one

Define law. When I looked it up at Dictionary.com, here is the number one definition for the noun law:

the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and
applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies
recognized and enforced by judicial decision.

Reread that.

  • Principles and regulations – ideas, plans, thoughts, ways to be, thing to do or not do, guiding ideals and actions, customs and policies
  • established – not random but planned, thought out, and placed
  • in a community – a group of people, no definition of big or small, but a group that has something in common uniting them
  • authority – one who has a reason and ability to be over the community, in charge of them, guiding them, responsibility
  • applicable to its people – this is referring back to the principles and regulations being something that is needed by the community

The rest of the definition goes into some fine details of how we currently see law but really think on those first few words and phrases.

Do you see the Bible that God gave us this way?

In Psalm 119, we see that the writer saw it this way. There are 44 verses that refer to God’s LAW. That is in this single chapter of the Bible. God’s LAW is there to help us, to provide us those principles and regulations that were put in place to help our community, God’s church, act in ways that are in keeping with the one who is in authority over us, God. And when we act in accordance with God’s LAW, we are blessed (verse 1).

The LAW is described throughout Psalm 119 in various ways that help us to see how important it is. In verse 7, it is described as righteous. In verse 39, the laws of God are good. Again in verse 62 we see the law to be righteous. “I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous” – again righteous is used in verses 75, quoted here, and verse 106.

The LAW is long-standing. From verse 52 the law is described as ancient and they are comforting. “I remember your ancient laws, O Lord, and I find comfort in them.” Verse 91 tells us that “Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you” showing us that God indeed is the being in control of these laws. In verse 160, we see the extent of the reign of the LAW – “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” What powerful LAWS to stand and be worth obedience through time.

From the ancient days through eternity, God’s LAW will stand. And we can get so much from it. (emphasis is mine)

Verse 18 – “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
Verse 29 – “Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.”
Verse 43 – “Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.”
Verse 77 – “Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.”
Verse 92 – “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”
Verse 102 – “I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.”
Verse 149 – “Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, O Lord, according to your laws.”
Verse 156 – “Your compassion is great, O Lord; preserve my life according to your laws.”
Verse 165 – “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”
Verse 174 – “I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.”
Verse 175 – “Let me live that I may praise you and may your laws sustain me.”

Our culture kind of frowns on laws and seems to think that they are overburdening. But looks that list of benefits from follow the LAW God has set before us. Seeing wonderful things. Keeping me safe. Giving me compassion and preservation of life. Something to sustain me. Great peace! Not allowing anything to make me stumble.



Is there anything better?

I am going to call this part 1 of the word LAW because there are two more big sections that the word LAW groups into. Next week, we will look at those who disdain the LAW and how the psalmist loves the LAW. Opposites.

Blessings to you all as you ponder God’s LAW and what it can do for you.

At Home.




Bandelier National Monument ~ field trip

Bandelier giant pottery

When the girls and I went on our New Mexico trip a couple of months ago, one of the places we really wanted to visit was Bandelier National Monument. At Home Dad and I went a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Since Miss E has been interested in the National Park and National Monuments for a while, this was a good one to put on the “must visit” list. Miss L had asked to study ancient civilizations this year so we were able to add this to her hands-on experiences in learning about them. (It also gave us a chance to visit my brother in Santa Fe!)

Bandelier is where an ancient puebloan civilization lived about 1150. While living here, they built homes that they carved out of the volcanic tuff walls, creating caves or cliff dwellings. They did not plant within the steep walls of the canyons, instead planting on the flat top of the mesa. They cultivated corn, beans, and squash, supplemented with plants that grew naturally here. They hunted for meat, eating deer, rabbit, and even squirrel. There was a fresh water stream that flowed through the canyon.

circular village

After about 400 years, the land was beginning to fail and was no longer able to fully support this civilization. Once a drought appeared, the people could no longer stay. By about 1500, they had abandoned this canyon almost completely and were living along the Rio Grande River.

Bandelier is a unique place. The people who lived here built their homes along the canyon walls and in the canyon walls to take advantage of the heat and protection they offered. Using the volcanic tuff, they also built a large circular village on the canyon floor. It is estimated that the village held around 400 rooms, all stacked and layered, made from volcanic tuff blocks. They used mud to mortar the blocks.

But what makes this place really unique is that the visitors are able to walk among the ruins, the homes, the kivas, even going into some of them. The hiking path takes you along the canyon floor and then to the canyon walls, highlighting many of the important places. Some of the caves have ladders placed so you can climb up and enter. Some of the caves are so small you can barely move around and probably served as storage. Others are multi-roomed caverns that you can stand up in and walk around. We climbed into several and got a neat view of the canyon.

Alcove House

The hardest climb, though, comes at the end of the canyon. It is up to Alcove House. Alcove House is carved out of the canyon walls approximately 140 feet up. It is reached by several ladders and sets of stone steps. It is believed that people did indeed live here but it was probably ceremonial. There is a large kiva, many viga holes in the walls (the supporting beams for roofs or second stories), and remains of walls and caves in the walls. It is a hard climb but if you are in shape for it, definitely worth it!

Bandelier is a wonderful place to visit and one that our family really enjoyed. Even if you choose not to visit Alcove House, getting to set foot inside caves that once house ancestral peoples is pretty neat. If you are planning a trip to NM, add this one to your list.

At Home.

Illuminating Literature: Characters In Crisis ~ a Crew review

A variety of literature is something we want our children experience. Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis provides high school students a thorough study of a variety of genres. Writing with Sharon Watson provided us a fantastic set of materials to use in studying literature and so far, we have been pleased.

Characters In Crisis set of books

Sharon Watson created Illuminating Literature for high school students, though we are using it with our 8th grader (13 years old). Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis is a study that can be used in any year of high school and is the second in the Illuminating Literature series, though they do not have to taken in order. (We have not yet used the first of the series  Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide.) It is a full year study/two semesters and is written from a Christian worldview. The completion of the course is worth a full course credit. Featuring full selections, the course teach over 100 literary terms and devices. Visit the website to get a complete list of the selections and the terms/devices.

The course is comprised of the student textbook, a teacher’s guide, and quizzes/tests. The quizzes and tests can be taken online for free on the Illuminating Literature website.  There is also a free downloadable Novel Notebook that goes along with the study and is optional. It is found on the Writing With Sharon Watson website.

You will need the texts for the literature selections. Several are included in the textbook or available online and others you will need to borrow or purchase. It is recommended that you use a specific version of the texts so that page numbers align correctly and it is easier for the students to follow in the lessons. I highly recommend this.

We have a copy of Frankenstein and I looked at it to see if it was usable for this. One of the questions said to read a particular paragraph on page 38. I looked and looked in chapter 1, which is where that page was in our book. In fact, I looked all the way back to the beginning of the book and about 10 pages farther into the story. I could not find it! When our recommended version arrived, I looked it up. It was in chapter 5 and 20 page numbers different. I am so glad I spent the $6 to purchase the recommended version!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in CrisisStudent Textbook –

The student textbook is written to the student. The lessons are clearly marked, as is which story the lesson accompanies. It begins with an overview of the course and follows that with a lesson on character labels and forces of antagonism. These are pretty big concepts and the student applies them first to a story of their own choosing that is familiar.

learning stitches

After the introductory lessons, the student begins with “A Jury of Her Peers,” a short story. Before reading the selection, which is included in the textbook, the student is given some background on the time period and pertinent information that is helpful for reading the story. After the reading, the student is asked to rate the story for themselves, do some work in the downloadable Novel Notebook, and then apply some of the literary terms and character labels that were learned in the opening section. Students take a quiz on the story and another on the literary terms, then hold a discussion about the story using questions included in the textbook. Finally, the student selects a project to complete as a response to the story.


Frankenstein will work much the same way. There are a couple of differences. There is a section that gives the student some information to help in the reading, chapter by chapter. The questions for discussion are also listed by chapter and there are a lot of them. So many, in fact, that it is recommended the teacher pick some. At the end of the lessons on Frankenstein, there is a book list of other titles that are similar.

The textbook is where the student writes their answers and ideas, where the background information is found, and where the introductory and follow up materials are found. There is also a week by week schedule for the student to follow, if you choose to use it. It is an essential part of the course and quite well done. Downloading a sample of the textbook will be very helpful for seeing what it looks like.

student textbook

Teacher’s Guide –

The Teacher’s Guide has been terribly helpful. I struggle, as does my daughter, in applying some of the deeper thinking ideas and answering some of the questions. Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

The Teacher’s Guide gives me a place to start so that we can delve into some of the ideas and explore their value in relation to the selection. The guide is well-marked and it is easy to find what is needed. The chapters, lessons, and questions are all marked to correspond to the Student Textbook and the Novel Notebook.

The Teacher Guide includes key themes that are specific for each story. Along with the weekly schedule, the guide includes most of the information that is in the student textbook. It gives plenty to know what the focus of each lesson in the chapter is on and to help you guide the students. Each of the discussion questions and the Novel Notebook questions have answers to go along with them. At the end of each chapter, there is a rubric for that particular selection that makes it easy to assign grades.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in CrisisQuiz and Answer Manual –

One neat feature of Illuminating Literature is that the quizzes and tests are all available online. The student logs in and takes the quiz and it is graded. The grade is then sent to whatever email the student logs in with. However, that is not always the best way and so there is a Quiz and Answer Manual available for purchase. This has blank quizzes that can be copied within a single homeschool as needed. The book also has an answer key in the back that includes answers for each of the quizzes in the book.


Novel Notebook

Novel Notebook –

The Novel Notebook is available from Writing With Sharon Watson as a download from the site. It is another way to delve into the story. It includes questions that help the student explore the meaning of parts of the story and characters, as well as helping them move through the novels a bit at a time. Throughout there are questions that help the student apply an idea to their own life or to someone’s life around them. It helps the student to personalize the story and ideas. Some of these were pretty difficult to answer but it allowed for good discussions.

working in textbook

My Thoughts –

I really like having a literature program that pushes my advanced reader to think about what she is reading. I also like that this program includes some pretty challenging literature, as well as a good variety. Knowing that something different will be up next on the reading list makes it a bit easier to engage my student in the current selection if she is struggling.

Because each of the selections is so very different, this review has been difficult to write. We have really only used the opening chapter on introducing character labels and forces of antagonism and the chapter “A Jury of Her Peers.” We are just venturing into Frankenstein. With each chapter being a different genre and therefore the types of questions and the application of the ideas being so different, this doesn’t feel like a very thorough review. So far so good, though, and we will be continuing to use this program.

A Student Viewpoint –quilt block

“I still don’t like literature but this is better than the last thing I did. I like the activities that are at the end of each lesson series. I thought the bonus information was interesting. For example, the information about the play that “Jury of Her Peers” was taken from or information on the setting. I liked how we applied the terms and character labels to a book that I was familiar with before trying to use them with the stories that were new. I probably should have chosen a stand-alone book instead of a series and it would have been easier. Most of her writing is easy to understand, though I have had to reread a couple of the sentences before moving on. Overall, I like it because it is different than what I have used before.”

At Home.

See what other families from the Homeschool Review Crew thought about Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

Social Media:

Writing with Sharon Watson Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/WritingWithSharonWatson/
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Crew Disclaimer

E – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet


On to letter E. These were not too hard. We have several books that begin with the letter E on our shelves and the girls just jumped with a couple of these titles. I grabbed another one that I think is really good, too.

Endless Steppe

Endless Steppe – Esther Hautzig

Esther and her family are forced from their home in June 1941. They are removed from their homeland of Poland to live in the frozen steppe of Siberia. The hard life they are to endure is far removed from the life they are forced from, all because they are “enemies of the government.” After their arrest by the government of Russia and their move to Siberia, the family survives through sheer determination and willpower.

This book reminds us that the horrors of WWII were not just in western Europe but also in many other places around the world. In this case, we are able to read the story of a young girl from Poland and the life she has to live in hardship due to Russia.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted  – Gail Carson Levine

At her birth, Ella of Frell is given an awful gift – the gift of obedience. Perhaps the fairy was well meaning but it made life difficult for Ella. She must do whatever anyone tells her. For strong-willed Ella, this is terrible but she is determined to fight against that fate. She WILL break free from this curse/gift. Amidst the stepsisters, fairy godmothers, ogres, princes, and more, this is a fun story that is worth a read.

And, after you have read it, catch the movie with actress Anne Hatheway. It is super fun. We enjoy watching the movie as family. If you have a youngster, there is one scene where she is breaking free from the curse that could possibly be scary.

Elsie's Endless Wait

Elsie Dinsmore series – Martha Finley

In book 1, Elsie’s Endless Wait, Elsie is a young girl who is being raised by her well-off grandfather because her father is away and her mother has died. She loves her governess Miss Rose but by the others is often left out, ignored, or mistreated. Young Miss Elsie has been taught to treasure her Bible and to trust God above everything else. This is what sustains her during her wait and the trying times and questions that assault her.

The series is about Elsie’s life growing up and the faith that she has and relies on. It was instantly popular when it was first written by Martha Finley over 100 years ago.

Miss E has really enjoyed this series. There are some newer rewrites that are not as good as the originals, though they are based on them. I read the first rewrite aloud and wasn’t crazy about it. Miss E, though, has checked out as many as she can find from the library.

Enna Burning

Enna Burning (book 2 of a series) – Shannon Hale

This is not one I know but the girls have enjoyed it. I will state that they read so much that I cannot keep up with all of their reading and so we trust them to let us know if there is something we need to discuss in the books. I don’t know about this one but the girls definitely recommend it.

At Home.


Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths


God’s Law – ways

God's Law WAYS

When I went through Psalm 119, I wrote down each of the words that referenced God’s laws in some way or another on notecards and then noted the verses that went with each word. I ended up with 11 cards: 8 are words specifically about God’s law, 2 are references that I haven’t fully decided upon yet (they fit but yet they don’t in the NIV), and 1 is a note on the verses that don’t mention God’s law.

I am choosing to start with the word WAYS. In the NIV, this word only appears twice, in verses 3 and 15.

Verse 3: They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

Verse 15: I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.

Look up the definition of the word WAYS. You’ll probably find two options. 1) a method, style, or manner of doing something; and 2) a road, track, path, or street for traveling along. There were a couple of others that I found in different places by doing a search on the internet. But let’s look at these two.

Verse 3 seems to be using the 2nd of these literal definitions, but in regard to what God wants, the laws he wants followed. So, the Psalmist will walk in the WAYS that God directs him. How is he directed? That is really clear in the reading of the surrounding verses. God directs the ways to walk through his laws. When walking in his WAYS, we have a clear path marked out by which our travel is easier. When we follow that path, his WAYS, we can see where we are going and we have an easier time of it.

a method, style, or manner of doing something

When you have a way of doing something, you have a particular method which you desire to have followed. Maybe it is a set order of steps. Maybe it is specific materials. Maybe it is an expectation of being like you in how you handle something. In any regard, you have an expectation that things will be done specifically.

In verse 15, the Psalmist is saying that he is considering, thinking about, the manner or method that God desires. He is being aware of the fact that God has a plan that he wants his children to follow. The Psalmist is acknowledging that and abiding by it. How happy that must make God!

So, consider the word WAYS. How can we apply this thinking to our own life? Am I following that clearly delineated path God has made for me and learning it by reading the Bible? And I learning the method and manner of living life by God’s standards, His WAYS? Or am I leaning too much on my own sight, my own interpretation of the markings along the path?

I encourage you to read Psalm 119, to find encouragement in seeking out God’s WAYS.

At Home.


Making A Hand

moving hand

It was a strange little project but we were following her interests. That’s how it goes, right? Delight directed can lead to some interesting things and this led to making a hand.

We started with the Mystery Doug video for the week which is answering “Why do muscles bulge?” Miss J was enthralled with the information and watched the video twice. And then there was the extension project mentioned – building a paper finger.

“Get your supplies. They are listed right there.”
Off she runs.

Not much later, she is moving the finger around and comparing it to her own. Trying to make them both do the same things. And they pretty much can!

studying the hand

“I wonder if I could make a whole hand?”
“Well, look at the additional learning project – make a hand.”
“What do you need?” And off she goes to gather more of the same, plus a little more.

Not much later, she is trying it out, trying to see what she can make it do.

And asking for more videos on making fingers and hands that work. So we do some more videos.

An hour and a half later, her curiosity is satisfied and her projects are beginning to not be quite as interesting. So, on to the rest of the school day. But what a fun project and what fun learning! She will remember this one.

At Home.

Antique Rose Emporium, Independence, TX – field trip

The Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, TX, is a fantastic garden center to visit. There are tons of unique and interesting plants for sale but also the arrangement of the area is just beautiful.

waterfall and butterflies

We enjoyed walking around the butterfly garden and asking about the various plants that were drawing the butterflies this time of year. We saw some lovely blossoms and enjoyed many fragrances.

butterflies and blossoms

The shade gardens were beautiful and we enjoyed the various greens we saw.

The gravesite for the broken pottery is a fun little side plot that Miss E absolutely adored. She had been wanting to visit since she saw the pictures from this summer.

broken pot graveyard

The maze! What can I say? This was just fun. We chased each other around and around on the little brick paths and laughed and giggled and just enjoyed it. I would love one of these strange shade “trees”.

fun and mazes

The ladies who work here are more than happy to answer questions and to point out interesting plants. They enjoyed talking to the girls and even called them over to show them a plant that eats bugs. What a joy to meet people who truly love what they do.

The blossoms during our visit in October were definitely different than those that we saw back in June. What an interesting comparison to make. And what a fun place to visit.

At Home.

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