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Being Me, Not Better Than You – Guest Post for Lads To Leaders Entry

Likes, dislikes, good comments, bad comments. The world has always been full of people who judge one another. Today, we have the online platforms to reach people all over the world. Because of the nature of social media, people can hide behind a screen and say whatever they want, without accountability. Unfortunately, many people use their online personality to cause more harm than good. On the receiving end, people care what others think. Some people constantly compare themselves to others, especially after receiving hateful comments. Some of those people even try to change themselves to fit in. Hebrews 6:19 talks about hope being an anchor for the soul. In today’s world, where is their hope? What do you hope for?

Matthew West wrote a song that I love to listen to. It gives me hope. It is called The Me You Made. The first verse reads:

I wish I looked like Bradley Cooper

Wish I had movie star muscles like Chris Pratt

I wish my kids thought I was cooler

Wish I wasn’t just a skinny-jean wearin’ dad

Now there’s another thing I’m wishin’

I wish I didn’t say what I just said

‘Cause now everybody’s heard

All the insecure voices in my head

The first verse is addressing how he compares himself to everyone else. But in 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul reminds us not to compare ourselves to others who use themselves as a comparison, which is conceited. The second verse of the song is where he starts talking about social media. He says:

The whole world is postin’ pictures (yeah)

Looks like everybody else has the perfect life

And we’re just watchin’ from the bleachers (yeah)

Discontent and thinkin’, “Wouldn’t it be nice?”

But comparison is the thief of joy

Trust me, I know

‘Cause for way too long, I let it steal my joy

But not anymore

On social media, everything looks perfect. Four billion people from all over the world use social media, posting pictures, videos, or memes that show off their lives. The second half of this verse quotes President Roosevelt. “Comparison is the thief of joy” means that comparing oneself to others takes away one’s own happiness. This is the part of the song where he stops comparing himself to others. Lastly, the chorus:

Hey

I don’t wanna spend my life

Wishin’ I was different

That would be a waste of time

‘Cause I know You

You love me just as I am

And I know my God don’t make mistakes

So, I’m just gonna be the me You made

Now we come to the part of the song that talks about our theme this year, Better Than. 

In Romans 3:9, it says, “Are we better than they? Not at all.” We are not any better or worse than anyone else. In this case, Paul was referring to the difference and separation between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. But the same concept applies to us today. Even though something might look perfect on social media, those people are showing themselves through a filter. Don’t put your trust and admiration into something that is being filtered. One of the reasons we can trust in God with our whole selves is because He is completely honest and open with us. Psalm 118:8 says that “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” 

We can compare everything with the phrase “better than.” We like some things better than other things. No one is better than anyone else. In Hebrews, the New Law is better than the Old. 

We should put our trust in God because He created us exactly the way we should be. There is no “better than” with people. God doesn’t make mistakes; we know because the Bible says so in Matthew 5:48, Psalm 18:30, Deuteronomy 32:4, 2 Samuel 22:31, and many other verses.

The Me You Made ends by saying “I’m just gonna be the me You made,” acknowledging that there is no way for us to be completely perfect. We are human and humans make mistakes, but God did not make a mistake when He made each and every one of us the way we are. We shouldn’t have to change ourselves to fit into the “perfect” world behind a screen.

We know that our God loves us, just the way we are, and that gives us hope.

image created by guest author

Winter Education Doesn’t Have to be Different

You know, I struggle to think of education during different times of years as different. And that is okay. I can stay the course and be pleased with that choice.

We often see others posting of all the great things they do differently for a change in season or a holiday or what-not. At that time, it is easy to let the monster of comparison creep in. But don’t, y’all! We are not all the same. I am speaking to myself here. Just this morning, I was thinking how I needed to get the girls outside more because they aren’t “active enough.” But my girls are; just in different ways than that parent was talking about. I was letting comparison slip into my thinking and my decisions. Bad choice. That seldom turns out good for me. 🙂

So, what does winter education look like? Well, it looks like regular school days for most of the time. It looks like more breaks and a few special, fun activities. We do tend to do more puzzles. We take more holiday time off. In a “normal” year, we spend some time with family and visit NM, where we get to see good snow and do some hiking and maybe visit a museum or two. But, really, those kinds of things happen other times of the year, too.

So, winter education is really no different for us here in central Texas. And that is okay. So, to the mom or dad who is looking around, get some ideas but remember you know best what works for your kiddos. Mine need routine and time in the dance studios. Time outside doesn’t rejuvenate them like others say their kiddos need. Give mine a good song and a barre for their rejuvenation. Pick and choose what is right for your students and don’t waver in your thinking just because someone else posts a fun looking idea. You know. Stay the course.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew for their monthly blogging challenges. This week is How do you homeschool in the winter? Head over to the blog to read up on lots of ideas and takes on this theme.


Lemony Chicken Stir-fry ~ recipe

We enjoy stir-fry dinners but don’t do them much because so many of the recipes require soy or corn in one way or another. I figured out a better way from looking at a few different recipes and came up with my own version that was loved.

Lemony Chicken Stir-Fry Recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 onion – chopped
3 carrots – chopped into small bits
3 large chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts – cut into small pieces
3 cups frozen broccoli
1/2 C lemon juice (I just used the bottled kind and eye balled it.)
4-6 T honey (Again, I just eye balled it and you can adjust after it is added to the stir-fry.)
2 T worchestershire sauce
1/4 C water
1 T potato starch (can use a cornstarch, instead)
garlic powder
ginger powder
salt
pepper
coconut oil

  1. Prep the veggies and the meat. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger over the uncooked chicken after it is cut. Steam the broccoli in the microwave.
  2. Mix the lemon, honey, worchestershire, water and potato starch in a small bowl.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a skillet until hot. Add the onions and carrots. Cook on medium high heat until the carrots are beginning to get tender.
  4. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until done. Depending on the size of your pieces of meat, it should only take 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Add more coconut oil if the chicken is sticking to the skillet.
  5. Add the broccoli. Stir well.
  6. Add the lemon mixture and stir well. Heat until the mixture thickens and coats everything.
  7. Adjust your flavors. We added additional lemon juice and a bit of salt at this point. Add what tastes good to you.
  8. Serve with rice.

Enjoy.
Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Snowflakes Are Beautiful – round up of posts

Snowflakes and winter go together in our minds but if you live in central Texas, they don’t often truly happen together. Today is the exception and it has been lovely! While we are in the midst of winter, I thought I would share a few ideas of books and activities with you. Here is a peek at what our yard looks like this evening.

The Homeschool Review Crew has a blogging/social media challenge this week on snowflakes. There have been a number of activities and books we have used over the years to discuss the beauty of snow. Here are a few posts to take a look at if you are looking for ideas.

Snow Experiments – why snow looks white

FIAR: Katy and The Big Snow, part 1 and part 2 – unit study

Snowflake Baby – creative writing

January Book Basket (2014) – books on snow and winter

Painting Crystals – looking at crystals form

FIAR: Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening – unit study

Singing Through December, Part 2 – has several fun activities related to snow

Don’t forget to check out Snowflake Bentley and search online for pictures of snowflakes. The biography of this photographer is interesting and there are several good titles out there, including an excellent picture book on him.

Blessings,
Lori Hooten

Winter – Online Book Club

The Online Book Club is enjoying books on Winter this month. I love the stories of winter from Laura Ingalls Wilder. We watched a documentary on her a week or so ago and it was lovely (just move on past where they read some current day issues into what was culturally correct for Laura). It made me want to pull out stories by her that reflect the idea or the time frame of winter. So, I’m going to be doing that. Obviously, The Long Winter must be read. 🙂

I also pulled out Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Family Collection to look through. I also grabbed the cookbook that Melissa Gilbert created that has some great memoirs of hers regarding playing Laura on the TV series. The other book for this that I picked up was by Rose Wilder Lane and is her Young Pioneers.

I am a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her writings, as well as writing about her. I have a good collection that I enjoy going back to once in a while so I am glad to share her writing with this theme.

Be sure to visit the other members of the Online Book Club to see what they are doing this month for the theme of Winter.

Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Tastes and Smells of Christmas

Many people think of the holidays and their mind immediately thinks of the taste and smell of peppermint.

Candy canes

Red and white

Minty tastes and smells

And I’ll admit that much of Christmas does tend to have been enveloped by peppermint. We have read books about candy canes, studied gingerbread houses that are decorated with candy cane or peppermint drops, and made nutcrackers decorated with candy canes.

We have a nutcracker that is the peppermint nutcracker, holding peppermint drops. He’s a definite favorite.

We have candy canes on our tree and as part of some of our ornaments.

When I was growing up, I had a holiday countdown that had one mini candy cane tied to each day. I know I will have it but have not come across it this year. The girls wanted me to put it up but I just haven’t found it.

But, for me, cinnamon is as much a smell and taste of Christmas and holidays as peppermint, if not more. We have made suckers in our family for much longer than I have been around. It is one of our long standing traditions.

Bizcochitos are yummy cookies that tend to have a bit of a cinnamony smell to them and since they are a staple of the holidays in New Mexico, it is a cookie that I love to smell baking. Of course, I love to eat them, too.

making bizcochitos 2016

Cinnamon sugar nuts is another favorite to make. We make them any time but that cinnamon smell just permeates the house and makes it smell like the holidays.

Cinnamon candles, cinnamon brooms, cinnamon pinecones – these are all smells that bring me right back to the holidays at my parent’s house, tucked up by the fire watching the snow come down. We don’t get to enjoy that this year but the cinnamon smell will take me back there. And my middle girl made me cinnamon sugar nuts today while I was doing the grocery shopping so I came home to that beautiful smell of the holidays.

Happy holidays. Merry Christmas!

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

This post is being linked up at the Homeschool Review Crew December Challenge. Head over to read more posts about what peppermint brought to mind for other bloggers. Merry Christmas and may you have plenty of beautiful tastes and smells this holiday season.

Christmas Time = Sucker Making Time

Holiday traditions are special. This is just another one of them because it has a long-standing history in our family, dating from my mother’s childhood. Enjoy the pictures of making cinnamon suckers.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Beauty Of Memory – Christmas Ornaments

Memory comes rushing at us in all directions sometimes and I think the holiday season is one of those times. We find memories in all sorts of places and things – a song (or a complete series of songs), an experience, a decoration, a smell, or more. Some of the things that bring back the most memories for me, and makes new memories every year that I cherish, is our ornaments.

Our tree goes up when everyone is home and can help. We get it up and check lights. Getting the lights on is always an adventure and we laugh and enjoy it. Then we bring out the ornament box. We have ornaments from when At Home Dad and I were tiny wee ones and we have ornaments that we have bought since last Christmas. Each ornament is a memory – a place visited, a time together, someone we love, a book we enjoy, and it just goes on and on. It is too hard to name a favorite ornament and we are constantly adding to them.

Every year we add an ornament for the girls and try to make it something special. We add the girls’ initials and the year to each ornament added to the collection. This makes each one special.

When At Home Dad and I got married, we were blessed with two boxes of Christmas ornaments – one from each of our parents of ornament from different times of our childhoods. Many were handmade. Some were purchased. All were special and each year the girls ask about each one and enjoy hearing the recall of the time or place. I love sharing that, too. We will be passing the girls’ ornaments onto them when they are adults and decorating their own places. A tradition too special to skip.

So, what are some of the favorites?

This post is being linked up with the Homeschool Review Crew weekly blogging/social media challenge.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

November Online Book Club Wrap-up

I read the short writings from Beth Moore in November as part of the online book club’s theme of “thankful.” I chose these two books of musings for a couple of reasons – one, I had them but had not read them; two, focusing on the gift of love from God – Jesus Christ – is cause for thankfulness to me. I found that I really enjoyed most of both of these books.

Both of the books are similar in form and format. I have them both in ebook form on my Kindle. They are both mostly poetry with some anecdotes or other background writings included. They are fairly short. They can direct your mind to consider God’s love and gift in a new or different way.

If poetry is not your thing, you probably won’t get as much enjoyment out of these two books. If, however, you find poetry interesting and bringing a fresh perspective to thoughts, concepts, and ideas, these books will be right up your alley.

I found that the writings that took a fresh, human perspective on things – though not necessarily following the biblical accounts of history – really brought some new ideas to mind. The writing on Mary and newborn Jesus really brought home just how terrifying and difficult that time must have been for Mary. The interaction between Mary and Elizabeth made me consider the trying situation they were both in and the comfort they would have been for each other.

Poetry is used to emphasize ideas and one of my favorites follows. It is from Further Still, pp 131-132.

The Poet

You are the Poet, I am the poem.
You gather my lines from sunshine and storm

Glimpses of faith, steadfast and still
To harrowing falls and stubborn self-will

Dance down Jerusalem streets
To despair beneath the weeping tree

Sometimes pleasure – sometimes pain
Sometimes they blend ’til they seem the same

Each passage of life a poignant phrase
Challenging sense in a senseless maze

Alas, and at the end of time
Rhythm will come and words will rhyme.

Paper yellowed, wrestled, and worn
Still You are my Poet … and I am Your poem.

There were several favorites in Things Pondered. These include Seasons (p 108) and My Every One (p 135-136). Heroes was a stunning look at “heroes” of the Bible but the focus was on who was their hero. Time and again I found myself considering how wonderful each of the poems were.

As I find I have to do with writing from those who are Christian and part of a denomination, I need to warn of a place to be wary. There is a part where what denominations refer to as “the sinner’s prayer” is discussed. While much of the writing about this is in line with God’s word, the Bible includes much more in the plan of salvation than just saying a prayer in your heart. Please read and study the Bible with someone who understands that the plan of salvation is not found in a single, independent verse of the Bible. It is covered in many place and includes hearing the word of God, believing that word and that Jesus is the son of God, repenting of your sins (and this includes changing your ways), confessing your belief out loud to others, and being baptized for the remission of your sins. This is how you come into contact with the blood of Jesus, which is the only thing that can save your from your sins and the consequences of that sin. I would be happy to chat with you about this if you would like to. Please contact me.

These books are both very good. They are not study tools for the Bible, which sort of surprised me since I got them at a time when Beth Moore was sharing all of her Bible studies. But, they can bring a different perspective, causing you to pull out your Bible and read what God actually says in the historical account that fueled the poetry and stories written down by Beth Moore. I did enjoy these and there is much to be gleaned from them if you “pick out the meat and ignore the bones.”

Don’t forget to visit the others who are participating in the online book club. You can find them at the following blogs:

Hopkins Homeschool
Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Names are important. Names are personal. We did not choose our girls names based on meaning but I know many people who spend a lot of time choosing their children’s names based on what they mean. Sometimes those meanings are Biblical; sometimes those meanings are cultural. Both can be influential. CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts are all about bringing that purpose and meaning to a beautiful gift. We received two of their products for the purpose of this review: the 8×10 Plaque print and the personalized AmazingName Print Activity Sheets.

Having reviewed CrossTimber in the past, I knew a bit about the quality of their name plaques and we chose to order one for our family surname. My girls all have their 5×7 plaques on their walls so we picked a beautiful print for our family room. We chose the Autumn Harvest print with our family name. The colors are vibrant and are very pretty. It includes a beautiful cursive name with an origin culture. There are three meanings included plus a Bible verse that relates to the meanings.

We thought our name was from a different culture than CrossTimber came up with but that was an interesting thing. It was fun to find out something new and different, without knowing for certain either way. (We know for a fact that our family name is hard to trace.) The meanings were fun to read and the girls got a kick out of the ideas. The Bible verse is a great life verse for anyone to choose and the fact that CrossTimber chose it to go with our name is pleasing.

The AmazingName Print Activity Sheets were a fun addition for this review. We had Miss J’s name put on these. (As we don’t use her full name on here on purpose, I have cropped pictures to show only the first letter of her name for these pictures when I need to. The sheets all actually contain the whole name.) There are plenty of activities included that range over a wide group of ages. Included are mazes, word searches, coloring pages, picture searches where the child’s name is embedded in different fonts in the picture, copywork with Bible verses, print and cursive exercises with the child’s name, and other activities.

From beginning to learn to print letters to enjoying challenging mazes and word searches, there is something there for all ages of children. I would guess these would go over well for children from ages 3 to about 11 or 12. Miss J is 11 and she found plenty to enjoy in them. There were a number of activities below her level but that was just fine. We are considering ordering some of these sets for some girls we know who might really enjoy them. They could be a fun, simple Christmas gift for these friends.

If you are looking for meaningful gifts for a birthday, holiday, or other special occasion, consider CrossTimber. Their gifts are beautiful and can be very encouraging for others.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the name meaning gifts that they ordered from CrossTimber, from 8×10 plaques to personalized bookmarks to personalized name cards.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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