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Homeschool: How to Get Started

October 18, 2019

The homeschool movement started just after I married, and the idea fascinated me. I wanted to do it myself, but I gave birth to my third child about the time my oldest would have started kindergarten. Homeschooling with an infant seemed impossible, so I put my daughter in our church school. 

What a big mistake! My daughter was very sensitive and too young to put into a classroom situation. She disobeyed and became hard to handle, and we all missed the sweet girl she had been. Now I realize that’s how she handled stress. We decided to homeschool and took her out of kindergarten. 

But I was terrified. The moment I started, I felt a huge weight descend on me. I had dreams of ruining my children. However, i adjusted to the new routine and school went well. I kept going when I realized my children thrived and had good manners. I ended up teaching all five through high school. 

My guest yesterday was Jennifer Henn. She also taught her three children through high school and wrote the book, Take the Mystery Out of Homeschool. Her ideas can help the newbie or the seasoned teacher.


Check out this episode!

Blog, Commitment to Christ, Emotions, Family, Forgiveness, Goals, Grief, Guilt, Hope, Praise, Technology, Walking by Faith

Kindle Fried

April 29, 2015

While turning off lights for the night, my husband frowned as he stepped in the kitchen. “What’s that odd smell?”

I glanced toward the microwave and gasped. My kindle was going round and round on the turntable. With two seconds left on the timer, I had no hope of rescue.

Crazy! What was I thinking? Last winter I started a new bed-time ritual.  I climbed in bed with my heating pad and kindle. The heating pad made me comfy and reading ensured I’d get drowsy. That night, however, I’d fallen asleep in the basement.  Quite groggy, I’d staggered toward the kitchen and cooked the wrong item.

Using a pot holder, I lifted my sizzling kindle out of the microwave and gazed at the smoky mess. The screen was smoldering and black. The ‘on’ button didn’t respond, but then it was searing. While the leather case looked okay, the keyboard tossed a letter across the room, as if to protest.

I felt like protesting too. When Amazon first announced the kindle, I thought it was an odd idea. I loved everything about books, the cover, the pages, and the smell. Why use digital device? I wanted to hold the entire book in my hand.  After my husband gave me one, however, I found lots of ways to use it. It’s much lighter than a laptop and great for taking notes. Plus, I plugged it into my car stereo and had it read to me when I drove.  I downloaded a writing app and used it for a personal prayer journal too. But a cooked kindle no longer does any of that.

At this point, I was pretty disgusted with myself, but a bad mood would keep me awake.   My body doesn’t function well without sleep, so I had to do something. I recalled how positive my mother was, and I chose good thoughts. In the midst of my foolish mistake, I allowed my mess up to remind me of God’s perfections. He never falls asleep and never fumbles anything.  Once I started listing his goodness to me, the negative emotions lifted.  Besides, a kindle won’t last forever, and he does.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40

 

Blog, Praise, Prayer, Walking by Faith

Fickle Desires

February 5, 2015
Ragdoll cat

Colonel Brandon

My cat gazed at me with his big blue eyes and gave another pitiful meow. He turned his head toward the door to the back porch, as if I would grasp his meaning. Colonel Brandon lived inside, but that day the outdoors appeared fascinating.

“Silly kitty.” I stroked his back. “It’s too cold out there. You won’t like the snow.”

He managed to look down at me, even though I towered over him, and he repeated his desperate wail.

“Okay, fine. You want ice, and I’ll let you try it.” I opened the back door onto the porch where the snow mounded three inches deep.

Without the flick of an eyelid, he pranced onto the porch, but he sank into the white stuff and froze. He sniffed all around him and took a tentative step. A grimace crossed his kitty face, and he held up his front paw, as if disgusted.

“Well, kitty?” I chuckled. “Does it meet with your approval?”

He looked off into the distance and got that wild look in his eyes, as if he spotted something to chase. A few steps later, the Colonel stopped and looked about the icy porch with narrowed eyes. He picked up his back feet, one at a time, and shook. Right away he turned his attention to his front legs and repeated the exercise.

My husband and I stood inside the door laughing.

He picked up his front foot, as if ready to run, but he glared at the snow. His gaze took in the snow all around him. Every step he took would mean plunging into that white stuff. He wiggled each of his feet again and glanced at us with pleading in his eyes.

We opened the door and he dashed in, wiggling his feet fast. WE could not contain our mirth. He hurried past us with his head elevated, as if he knew we had fun at his expense.

Just like my cat, I’ve begged God for things and lost my cool when he didn’t do what I asked. Perhaps he knew I wouldn’t like what I asked for or that what I wanted wouldn’t be good for me. I’m thankful our heavenly father isn’t a vending machine, which pops out whatever we request. Instead he cares so much that he refuses our thoughtless demands and grants us what we do need.

Praise our wonderful Abba Father.

 

Blog, Emotions, Forgiveness, Guilt, Walking by Faith, Worry

Faith and Forgiveness

December 31, 2014
Author and Speaker

Cynthia L Simmons

Luke 1:6 “And they (Elizabeth and Zacharias) were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” (ESV)

Elizabeth and Zacharias, the two people proclaimed godly in this verse, gave birth to John the Baptist. If you continue reading the first chapter of Luke, you discover their story. While Zacharias performed his priestly duties, an angel appeared to him to announce his wife would bear a son. Up until that time, he and his wife had no children, so this was great news. Frankly, I expected the man to jump up and down or shout praises. Instead this priest—whom God declared righteous—asked for a sign.

Hmm? So where was his faith? This holy man doubted? How could that be after God applauded his sterling character? Throughout Scripture God made it clear that “the just shall live by faith.” (Hab. 2:4)  Later, Jesus complained about his reception at the hands of Jewish people because “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign…” So how could the Lord label Zacharias blameless when he did the same thing?

I believe the answer can be found in 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (ESV) Yes, Zacharias blew it when he failed to believe. However, I’m sure he repented when he found out he wouldn’t be able to speak again until after his son’s birth. After his wife delivered, his speech returned, and he overflowed with praise. The Lord knew how his priest would respond. Zacharias’s heart sought God, so Christ’s sacrifice covered his sin.

I often fail too, and my tendency is to berate myself, even after I confess. This passage encourages me because it teaches the Lord still regards me as holy, even when I fall. He knows my heart, and my weaknesses. I’m made of dust. Even though I strive never to trip up, I still do. When I stumble, I run back to his arms and seek forgiveness. He sees me as righteous because I’m under the blood. “There is therefore no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1.

 

 

Blog, Finding Meaning, Philosophy, Praise, Responsiblity, Walking by Faith

What About Praise?

November 1, 2013

 

 

Church in England

Bath, England

Every Sunday, organ music boomed throughout the sanctuary and adults around me sang.  Choir members wore gold robes and serious looks while they added their voices to the congregation. At five, praise made no sense to me. In church, people sang the doxology (whatever that was) while wearing good clothes. (The ones I wore itched.) I wasn’t really sure what ‘pavilioned in splendor’ meant or what ‘girded with praise’ had to do with life.

For me, life meant I had to do with a series of chores. Finding my shoes in time for school made me worry. Writing my name— especially the ‘y’—created anxiety. Learning to add and subtract created the worst crisis I could imagine.  Praise didn’t fit in anywhere. Yet I went to church and tried to sing those songs every week.

As I grew older, I recall looking forward to finding out what my internal organs did. For some reason, I thought they did wonderful things for the world. When I learned that my stomach, intestines and liver only kept me alive, I got upset.  And then I sensed the routine of life could become a rut. Chores never stayed completed, and life presented obstacles to accomplish what you had to do.  You woke, dressed, had breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then repeated it all the next day. Life offered inherent meaning. (I didn’t know Philosopher John Paul Sartre already said that years before my birth.)

Then, one day it clicked. “Man shall not live by bread alone…” doesn’t mean we need to eat vegetables. It means we need God.  The rest of the verse said “But by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  These words lead us to transcendence—something bigger than life.  We have to live for something. That something is our Creator, the one who calls himself ‘existence’ or Jahweh.

In light of my discovery, praise has great value. I can forget daily frustrations while lifting my voice in praise of the one who holds all things together, forgives my sins,and gives me eternal life.

 

“You make me glad by your deeds, O LORD (Jahweh)

I sing for joy at the works of your hands.

How great are your works, O LORD (Jahweh)

How profound your thoughts!” Psalm 92:4 – 5

Blog, Communication, Emotions, Family, Love, Marriage

Just A Name

October 3, 2013

 

Mr. Alvin Cofer

Mr. Cofer with Cynthia and her brother

My gaze wandered over the ruddy man Mother and Granny chatted with. Who was he? Could I trust him? Only a few weeks ago he invaded our family when he married my grandmother, but I didn’t open up to just anyone. Even at age five, they had to earn my confidence. This burly man hadn’t.

“Welcome, Cindy.” Alvin Cofer grabbed me and hugged hard.

One strike against the man. I prefered to keep my distance for awhile, check things out. Could it be that this man was really safe? Mother smiled, as if it was normal to be snatched and squeezed with so much energy. He let me go, and I stepped away.

“I’m going to leave now, Cindy.” Mama opened her arms. “May I have a hug?”

I threw myself at her and relaxed in her embrace.  Granny stood by grinning and gave me a special wink. We’d have fun with her. My brother and I could depend on eating lots of our favorite foods when I visited, like cake and cookies. This new husband, Mr. Cofer, bothered me.

My brother hugged Mom, and the two of us waved as she pulled her car onto the man road.

“Come along, Cindy.” Mr. Cofer held out his hand. “Let’s go on up to the house.”

I hung back while my insides cringed. The name ‘Cindy’ sounded uncomfortable, even bad. It reminded me of ashes Cinderella had to clean up. Mother often commented that she named me Cynthia in order to call me Cindy, but I never liked it. On the other hand, Cynthia brought magical thoughts to mind. A queen would call herself Queen Cynthia, and everyone would have to bow. Enchanting.

Mr. Cofer squatted down. He smelled of cigarettes. Ugh! The evening sun brought out the red highlights in his hair. We had brown and blonde hair in our family. The red felt hot and uncomfortable. But his warm blue eyes gazed into mine.They didn’t seem scary.

I knew I’d best reply, or else take his hand. Words popped into my mind, but I swallowed. I’d made a promise to call him grandfather, but my tongue didn’t want to say it. “Granddad…could you call me Cynthia?”

His face lit up. “Sure, Cynthia.”

I took his hand.

He gave me a broad smile and picked me up. “This hill is pretty steep if you aren’t used to climbing it.” He walked toward the white house. “What treat would you like after dinner? I have a store full of goodies. What’s your favorite candy bar?”

I shrugged. Mom allowed us a little candy, but not enough to know what to ask for. Alvin Cofer owned a country grocery store and he had myriads of things my brother and I never dreamed of.

Over the course of several days, my new grandfather called me Cynthia without failing once. I’d think about my name and the beauty of the syllables as they slid from your mouth. At times I practiced with different inflections. After awhile I settled on a new way to say it with emphasis on the last syllable. The unusual pronunciation pleased me.

One afternoon I approached Mr. Cofer with a  request. Even after all his kindness, I worried. Would he think me silly? Momma would. I could imagine asking her and see her face grow tight. Granddad  gave lots of hugs during the week. Maybe, just maybe he’d indulge me.  “Could you call me CynthiAHHH?”

“Of course, CynthiAHHHHH.” His blue eyes twinkled.

It sounded like heaven to my ears, and I danced away grinning.

A year passed. I thought more about Cynthia, and the proper way to say it. At the mature age of six I realized that the music could be found in the first syllables, rather than the last one. Besides every time Granddad used my pronunciation, Mom rolled her eyes. I asked him to use the accepted pronunciation, and he agreed. That made me happy.

Even though time brings changes, I still love the name Cynthia. Now I enjoy its history in addition to the sound. My new grandfather died when I was nine. He won my heart, and his passing made me sad. I lost my mother a few years ago and my father soon afterward. The death of my parents left a huge void in my life. Their love served as an anchor. In their absence, however, I felt free to make a choice. Now I spell my nickname Cyndi. It looks more like my real name—the one on my birth certificate.

Despite the change, I’m the same person, who is growing, reaching out, seeking Christ.

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Blog, Church, Commitment to Christ, Emotions, Family, Prayer, Walking by Faith

Needing Rebirth

April 13, 2013
Cynthia and Ray Simmons

Cynthia and her husband, Ray

I’m sick of cold weather. This time of year trees should sprout and roses develop buds. But more than anything, I’m weary of the spiritual darkness that’s enveloping this nation. We desperately need a spiritual spring time. Just as surely as God makes the sap rise in the trees and the grass start to grow, he’s at work in his church. 

For example, in the late 1600s a minister named Samuel preached, taught and prayed with diligence. Every ounce of his soul longed for revival and he brought that desire before the Lord each day. The people of his parish at Epworth, England made their living from farming and had little education. They despised his politics and failed to understand his preaching.  His growing family stayed in debt, and his parishioners found ways to persecute him. At one point they burned his home to the ground, forcing the family to move in with neighbors. How discouraging!

The Lord did answer his prayer, but not the way he expected. His wife, Susanna, educated their children and occasionally the congregation. She taught and advocated order and method. When her son, John, went to Oxford, she wrote him long letters reminding him of his spiritual duties.  Encouraged by her example, he and other students banded together. They committed to regular prayer, Bible study, and righteous living.  He called the group The Holy Club.  Fellow students ridiculed the young men and labeled them ‘Methodists.’ John adopted the name as a mark of respect.  The Methodists emphasized the gospel and holy living, filling a void in the Anglican Church.  Revival swept the nation as many English citizens came to Christ through the movement.

But that’s not all. Christianity started in the Roman Empire, but didn’t disappear when the empire dissolved. That’s because God softens hearts. Throughout history we see men he used like John Hus and the Moravians, Zwingli and the Anabaptists, John Knox and the Presbyterians.  You might say these men lived in the past, and that’s correct. But in our time God raised up James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Greg Kokul of Stand to Reason, William Lane Craig of Reasonable Faith. Think for a moment, and you can probably call to mind more.

Just as the irises poke new leaves out of the dirt, God moves in every generation.  Like Sam Wesley we may not see it, but he brings new life. Trust him and pray.

 

 

 

Blog, Christian History, Forgiveness, Walking by Faith

A Response to Injustice

August 1, 2012
Writer and Speaker

Cynthia L Simmons

Recently my son had a business trip. Rather than navigate an unknown city with maps, he borrowed my GPS. He placed it in his checked luggage on his return trip. The morning after his arrival, he went through his suitcase to return it, but found the GPS unit and the car charger missing. Since he didn’t report it within four hours, the airline said they had no liability.

 

How frustrating! We must leave our suitcases unlocked so that they can be examined for explosives. Any airport employee or dishonest TSA agent can snatch whatever they please.

I was particularly annoyed since this is the second unit I’ve had stolen in the past year. Someone took the first unit out of my car when I left it for repairs over Thanksgiving. I notified the company and asked if the devices could be disabled, but that’s not possible. If I could do something I wouldn’t feel quite so irritated, but helplessness aggravates me even more.

 

At times like this, the decadence of our society sickens me, and I’d like to poke God to make sure he’s aware of what’s going on. Things are pretty nasty here, but I didn’t suffer half as much as those people in the Colorado movie theater. I feel like Habakkuk who cried out to God, “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” (Hab. 1:3-4)

 

Yeah! God knew how we’d respond to injustice and wickedness, so the Bible contains God’s response to Habakkuk. “Look among the nations, be astonished! Wonder! Because I’m doing something in your days. You would not believe it if you were told.” The Lord goes on to say he was preparing the Chaldeans to invade and punish Israel.

 

Since God doesn’t change, I’m certain he’s working now, even though I can’t see it. There’s a phrase in the Revelation that throws some light on the dilemma. A false prophetess led the church at Thyatira astray. The Lord said, “…I gave her time to repent and she does not want to repent of her immorality.” (Rev. 2:21) God’s mercy allows the sinner time to turn, and he judges when man’s heart becomes so depraved that it won’t respond.

 

But I can forgive and let go of my anger when I remember that thief will stand before God in the final judgment. Every hidden deed will be exposed in that moment, and God will administer justice. He’s got tons of experience at that job, and he’ll do better than I ever could. On the other hand, I can look forward to an inheritance in his presence that goes beyond my imagination. That missing GPS unit will seem petty in the light of heaven’s glory.

 

Thank you, God for the hope I have in Christ. I’m forgiven and blessed to have your grace. Help me to keep my eyes on eternity.

Blog, Emotions, Family, Grief, Leaving a legacy, Living through heartache, Love, Prayer, Walking by Faith

I Love You, Dad

July 15, 2012

 

Cynthia's Dad

C.L. “Buddy” Thomas

 

Daddy, I can’t stop thinking of you. Today you would’ve turned 88. We won’t celebrate, but I will remember. Momma used to say I could convince you to do anything. The year I went to first grade, she found you putting me to bed instead of driving me to school. You told her I didn’t feel well, but Mother refused to believe I was sick. When she told the story, she’d roll her eyes and say, “I told him there wasn’t a thing wrong with her. Cindy just wanted to stay home. That child has her daddy around her finger.”

You had infinite patience. How I hated long division. You dried my tears and showed me how to do it over and over. When I declared it impossible, you reassured me with a quiet smile. And you could listen to my childish chatter for hours. Paying attention that long can be hard, but you didn’t mind at all.

The moment you got home from work, the fun began. You chased my brother and me through the house. When you caught one of us, you’d tickle until we couldn’t catch our breath. I loved those times. Everyone talked about your ‘Buddyisms’—a word twisted into a joke. No one could resist laughing. I can still see the satisfied look on your face when you got the entire room roaring.

I’m so grateful for your contagious faith. You made spiritual things a priority and taught me to listen for the message, even in entertainment. I knew I could trust you to pray for me. When I cleaned your house, I found my prayer requests hanging on the office walls. That discovery touched my soul. You brought me before the Lord even when your memory began to fail. Now that you’re with the Lord, that leaves a gaping hole in my life.

The thing I miss the most is your love. It flowed throughout our home and engulfed all of us. How many times I saw you embrace Mother and whisper, “You’re my sweetheart.” That committed love lasted until Mother slipped into heaven—almost 56 years of marriage. What a legacy! You praised and encouraged me in every endeavor, and told me you believed in me. How many times I saw tears in your eyes after you gave me a hug. Even when I married and moved out of town, your warmth followed and surrounded me.

I’m so glad we threw a party for your fiftieth wedding anniversary. The numerous pictures show the glow on your faces. The year Mom died, I bought you a banana split for your birthday. That last birthday I took a cake to your assisted living, and that weekend brought you home to celebrate. This year I can’t show you my love, but I couldn’t outdo the glories of heaven anyway. However, special memories will wash over me all day. I love you, and I can’t wait to see you again.

Cynthia

Blog, Commitment to Christ, Emotions, Family, Living through heartache, Love, Marriage

Who Can You Trust?

July 5, 2012
Orchids

Cymbidium Orchids

“They should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for him, and find him, though he [God] is not far from all of us. For in him we live and move and exist…” Acts 17:27-28

Sometimes life spins out of control. That’s how I felt four years ago when my husband lay in an intermediate intensive care unit. After a sudden seizure, I rushed him to the hospital where doctors diagnosed encephalitis and pneumonia. His level of consciousness continued to sink and his temperature kept going up. A chill crept over me as I realized the doctors couldn’t control the infections. I could lose him.

For days I sat by his bed watching and nursing. I was still homeschooling, so I had my teacher’s manuals and my Bible. When he didn’t need me, I studied. The room was silent except for the beep of machines, and loneliness engulfed me.

I came across the passage in Acts where Paul addressed the citizens of Athens. The men of the city worshiped various deities. Fearful of leaving out someone important, they erected a statue to the unknown god. Paul took the opportunity to tell them about Yahweh, the true and living God. After meditating on that truth, I chose to believe God was nearby. Warmth crept into my soul as if someone draped a wool blanket over my shoulders.

Later, the phone rang. The person who called represented a firm that my husband worked with. She expressed her concern and asked if she could send a gift. I thanked her for remembering us but made no requests. As I put down the phone, I wished for a dish garden. The plants would last longer than cut flowers and brighten the room, but I didn’t tell anyone. The next day, that firm sent a huge dish garden, which included blooming plants. It was breathtaking and larger than the picture I’d imagined.  If someone asked what I would’ve wanted, that’s what I would’ve chosen. The words of that verse came to mind. “…he is not far from all of us.” That particular day, he was close enough to know what I wanted. God heard my thoughts, and he chose to delight me.

I learned something that afternoon I’ve never forgotten. Prior to that time, I leaned on my husband during tough times, but during this illness he could offer nothing. The doctors battled the disease, but they couldn’t make promises. In that dark moment, God allowed me to see his gracious presence. He had the situation in hand, and let me know he loved me.

When I’m tempted to place all my hopes in someone who appears wise or strong, I think of that day. Psalm 146: 3 says “Do not trust in princes, in mortal men in whom there is no salvation.” Instead I remind myself “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Psalm 146:5.

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