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When the Write Door Opens -Matthew 7:7

God's lessons to a writer, teacher, wife, and mom

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The Classroom Door

Is Your Full Armor On?

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, and it’s nice to be back! We’ve had quite an interesting couple of months. After almost 10 years in the same place, we now have new jobs, new dwellings, a new church hunt, are in new states…and my “new” list could keep going on and on. Thankfully, there is one part of our lives that has stayed the same–home schooling.

We are getting to that point, though, of having “spring fever.” The point where the weather is was just starting to get warm, the days are getting longer, and the days of school are easier to count down, then count up. Yipee!!  Summer is coming, but it’s not here yet. I think I’m having to tell myself this even more than my son. I felt like we needed something to break our routine. We needed something interesting, but also something to refocus our hearts and minds so that we could keep ourselves from growing frustrated with each other, and complacent with our spiritual walk.

My son is memorizing Ephesians 6 for school. In this chapter, Paul speaks of putting on the whole armor of God. Since my son is very interested in the military, I thought it would be fun to study the armor of God from a soldier’s perspective.

I searched the Internet and found a curriculum a church used for VBS, but it wasn’t exactly what we needed, so I altered the idea and made our own “Soldier in the Army of God” field guide and study.

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Click here to download the guide book: Armor of God

This is a short two week study. I’m going to touch on some of the highlights for each day, but you can click on the link below and have all of the instructions and information to help with the daily lessons.

Click here to download the lesson guide: Guide for Armor of God lessons

Although this video is based on ancient warriors and battle armor, it is so inspiring that I had to include it. Please watch and be inspired to put your armor on!

 

Here is just an overview of what we did in our 2 week lessons:

Belt of Truth

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Background: In ancient times, the belt was the most important part of the armor, because all of the other pieces of the armor were attached or fitted to the belt. If the soldier didn’t have his belt, he wasn’t going to make it in the battle. Soldiers today also have a belt. They have their guns attached to their belts, as well as some forms of protective vests.

Application: We know the Bible is true. The belt of truth is the Word of God, and it is the only true foundation we have. If we don’t have it, then we will never win the battle. Without it, none of the other parts of the armor even matter.

Breastplate/Chestplate of Righteousness

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We chose to do “Chestplate,” because of my “manly” son

Background on Kevlar vests (bullet proof vests):

It was accidently invented by Stephanie Kwolek, a chemist who was trying to invent a light-weight fiber to use in tires, to help a car have better gas mileage. What she invented was a fiber that is 5 times stronger than steel. It is used in many things, but for what we’re studying, it’s interesting to note that Kevlar is used in bullet-proof vests, army helmets, and even gloves, boots, and other body “armor.”

Interesting facts about a bullet proof vest:

-If a soldier is shot wearing a vest, it still hurts. Some explain it as getting hit by a hammer (In our Christian lives, the Devil’s darts can hurt our feelings and “wound” our spirits, but if we are God’s child, the Devil can’t get the ultimate victory.)

-Soldiers have to inspect their vests daily (just as we have to maintain our righteousness each and every day)

-Vests can wear out and need to be replaced. Sometimes we get tired and weary of the Devil’s tactics. We can’t give up though. We may only need to refresh our vests and start clean again.

Boots of Preparation and the Gospel of Peace

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We, as Christians, are to be prepared to always give an answer of “the Hope that is within us.” Christians have the opportunity to go and spread peace in this “war zone” that we call the world.

Shield of Faith

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We cut the edges and taped them, so they wouldn’t be sharp. Remember, Carson “designed” this, so it’s very unique😉
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We used Velcro and stuck the sticky side to the shield. He wanted to use a glove, because he said the Velcro poked him.
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He loved the hammering part, of course.

Soldiers/ police officers, etc. use shields even today. They are sometimes nearly as tall as the person holding them. In ancient times, they were made out of many different types of metal, depending upon what they had available in that time period. Some were even made like tightly woven baskets. The soldiers would put the shields all together to create a type of wall to hopefully keep the “fiery darts of the wicked” from piercing through the shields. The shield was vital to the soldier. Without it, they had no hope of survival.

Application: This is true for our Christian life today. We must have faith that Jesus has risen from the dead and that he is victorious over death and hell. To keep us from being discouraged by the Devil, we need to take on the shield of faith each day.

Helmet of Salvation

Helmet Info: In ancient days, the helmet was personally created for each soldier. The soldier couldn’t just pick a helmet off a shelf and use it for battle. Every detail had to be tailored to the unique person, or the soldier would be unfit to fight in the battle.

The blacksmith would take many different measurements to ensure that the helmet would be comfortable and functional for each soldier, allowing the soldier to see through the eye slits, to have his cheekbones, nose and neck protected by the intricately molded metal.

This can be compared to our salvation. We have to make the personal decision for ourselves. We can’t rely on the “helmets of salvation” of our friends or family and just slip those one, expecting to be protected. Like a soldier, we are only protected by our own helmets of salvation. We have to make a personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, in order to survive the spiritual warfare of our land.

Sword of the Lord

Note: This, of course, was my son’s favorite day. He loved using the dagger. I felt alright with it, as long as we stressed that we were “cutting” out evil and not just stabbing everything we saw!

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We used our “swords” to destroy the lies of the enemy.

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Praying Always

We can pray sincerely anywhere and everywhere. We need to pray in the Spirit of the Lord and not just have a memorized prayer that is meaningless.

ID Tags (IDentify with Christ) – See the attached page of the Field Guide for the information about the ID tags.

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The Bible says that when we are saved we become a new creature. We “die” to ourselves and we start living for Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

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If you write your info backwards, when you turn it over, it’s raised up. It was easier for me to write what Carson wanted on a piece of paper, and then he copied it on the foil.

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You can use the pictures of ID tags in the Filed Guide instead and have your child write on them, if you don’t want to fool with actually making them, but my son LOVED making them with the aluminum foil. When you write on them, they look raised up like it’s actually stamped on the metal. Pretty cool.

I hope this is as meaningful to you and your child as it ended up being to us. I learned a lot in the research, and Carson loved relating it all to a soldier. We have referred back to these truths many times, in dealing with his attitude and Christian walk and how he should be “suiting up” in the armor each day.

So, get your armor on and enlist in the army of the Lord!

 

 

 

Table Talk Tuesday-Fun with the Moon

This was a simple idea I used when I taught 3rd grade at Cornerstone Academy.

Carson and I are studying the moon in Science, using Apologia Science, which I am falling in love with. They tie the Bible in with science so flawlessly, and they explain it on Carson’s level, even giving ways to refute Evolution and prove Creationism. Love it.

So, we have done various activities with the moon–modeling a lunar eclipse, finding our weight on the moon, charting the phases of the moon, and even measured how high Carson could jump on the moon (the formula is: 6xs however high you can jump). But I decided we needed something edible! So, we created the Edible phases of the moon😊.

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All you need: 4 Oreos, a butter knife, a picture of the phases, and a plate (and apparently, a whole bunch of other junk on the counter…excuse my mess.)

You will end up with 8 cookie circles (obvious, I guess). The neat thing is that as you cut one phase, the opposite phase is formed from what’s left. For example: When you cut the Waxing Crescent, what’s left is the Waxing Gibbous. When you cut the First Quarter moon, what’s left is the Third Quarter, etc (see chart below).

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The only thing you have to do is be careful when transferring the part you cut to the other half of the cookie. We ripped one of the moons, but were able to just smoosh it back together and form it again.

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Of course they aren’t perfect, but they were cut by Carson, molded by Carson, arranged by Carson, and will be remembered by Carson. As I mentioned in another post, he is a very kinesthetic and visual learner. He remembers by doing and seeing.

Now, let me end with a question…

What do you think? Is the best part about this project getting to eat the Oreos, or…

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…watching Cole give use his own phase of the ‘moon?’ (So sorry, I just couldn’t resist!!! This just cracked me up…no pun intended.)

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Hope you all have a wonderful Toosh-day, I mean Tuesday. (Please don’t be offended. It’s too cute, not to laugh).

 

A Slight Detour In this Pilgrim’s Progress

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Third graders, a hill, a cross, and some…rocks. Yep, it all sounded pretty innocent until I got to the “rocks” part, right?  At any other time and in any other place, I, the teacher would have been adamantly against putting those two together.  Who, willingly, hands a 9 year old a rock and says, “Throw this down the hill.”  Hmm…me, I guess.

It all started a few weeks ago, well, if we go back to the beginning, I’ve been doing this with my 3rd grade classes for 3 years now.  Every year we study the book Pilgrim’s Progress.  Each year, after we’ve read the book, we go on our own journey.  We have a type of cross-country path around our school.  It’s pretty strenuous in places–cutting over large hills, through high grass, etc.  It’s a great representation of the journey that Christian, the Pilgrim in the story, went on.  My class had clues to figure out, team challenges to master, and my favorite part–climbing the hill to the cross to release their burdens (their heavy backpacks), letting them roll down the hill and into the “tomb.”

I love this stop the most, because of how seriously the students take it.  Previously, my husband had placed a large wooden cross on top of the hill on the path, and the kids and I gather around the cross.  I had them choose a small rock from the path and use their markers to write a fear or a sin they struggle with on their rock.  We discuss how the Bible says that Jesus died for these sins and fears and when we give them to him, he will take them from us forever and help us overcome them.  We don’t share these with each other.  This is just a private time between each child and the Lord.  This year, though, it was a little different.  As I was talking about the fears and concerns we may have, it hit me.  I remembered the worry I had written on my own rock last year.  I’d written one word “miscarriage.”  I’d silently thrown it into the woods with the rest of my students’ rocks, praying that the Lord would take the hurt and the worry and the fear away, and that He would see fit to bless us with another child one day.  As I stood on that hill, surrounded by the little upturned faces of my third graders, I realized the Lord had granted my wish.  There I stood, 8 months pregnant, the child I prayed for growing and living within me.  Of course I got all choked up and my students looked at me like I was crazy.

After I got myself straightened up, we prayed over our rocks and then one by one we tossed them down the hill and into the woods.  For some reason, the new worry I’d just written on my rock seemed insignificant.  Again, my faith had been strengthened.  God was going to take care of me and all of my worries.  We then let our heavy backpacks we’d been carrying roll down the hill, representing Christ lifting our burdens.  We talked about salvation and how Christ lifts our burdens of sin.

All in all, it was a wonderful Spiritual journey–one I hoped my little pilgrims would always remember.  Little did I know, this journey was about to become even more memorable…and sadly, a lot less spiritual.

About a week after our journey, our principal came to me.  She asked me nonchalantly, “I know this is a silly question, but I’m asking each teacher if they know anything about rocks being thrown in the woods by the Warpath (the path we were on).”

I looked at her with wide-eyed, as a cold, clammy feeling started washing over my body–you know the feeling you get when you know you’re completely and utterly “got.”  Even though I didn’t know where this was heading, I figured it could not be good.  I grimaced, “Well….”

After I told her what I had done, she said, “Well, the farmer who owns the property adjacent to the school uses a path that cuts through the woods to his cow pasture (I’m sure you see where this is headed…).  He called the office today and said, ‘Every year in March these rocks just appear. They have  strange words written on them; not bad words (praise the Lord!), ‘ he said, just…disturbing words. I’ve never said anything about it for two years, but this year, it happened again!'”

So, you guessed it!  For three years, my class and I had been pelting this farmer’s property with mysterious rocks with sins, worries and concerns written on them.  The worries we thought were lost in the woods, never to be found again (like Jesus casting our sins in the deep blue sea) were not lost–instead, they were just causing someone else to worry–the poor farmer!

The moral of this story is clear.  Never disregard your mother’s warning to you  as a child.  She was far wiser, than I ever thought–don’t throw rocks.

Charlotte’s Web Newspapers–inspired by E.B. White, written by Cornerstone Academy 3rd graders

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 I had to share what a wonderful job my little 3rd graders did on their newspaper projects.  As we read Charlotte’s Web this year, we created a newspaper from the farm animals’ points of view.  The students voted to title it The Zuckerman Farm News.  After reading each chapter, we wrote an article based on what was going on in the chapter.  For example, in chapter 1, Wilbur is born.  My students wrote a birth announcement for Wilbur, giving his description, weight, color, etc.

Over the course of reading all 22 chapters, we wrote classified ads, announcements, letters to the editor, poems, drew comics, and sadly, wrote Charlotte’s obituary.

Here’s a peek at some of the articles they wrote.

Wilbur’s Birth Announcement
Classified ad, selling Wilbur's old house at the Arable farm.
Classified ad selling Wilbur’s old house at the Arable farm.
Sport's Article
Sports Article
Classified Ad
Classified Ad
Announcement -  Farm Animal Meeting
Announcement –
Farm Animal Meeting
Letter to the Editor- from Wilbur
Letter to the Editor
from Wilbur
Charlotte's Obituary
Charlotte’s Obituary
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The finished product!

After each student finished adding his or her article, I copied them and we gave them out in our school—just in time for our annual school-wide County Fair (celebrating the completion of our novel).

I couldn’t have been more proud of my students and the way they worked so hard to create exemplary work.  My 3rd graders truly are “T-double E-double R-double R-double I…”–well, you get the idea!  (For those of you who are non-Charlotte’s Web readers, that’s the way to spell Terrific, in Goose terms.)

Trial By Fire…(literally)

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It doesn’t take much to put my whole life back into perspective–just a blacksmith, an alarm, and 150 little fear-filled faces.  Well, maybe it was much.

The Firestorm of Life

The past few months have been a firestorm.  Life is hectic.  Teaching is demanding.  Editing is all-consuming.  And meaningful parenting moments have been reduced to reviewing Bible verses as we zoom down the highway, headed to school.  As we wives, mothers, teachers, writers, and women are so prone to do, we become goal oriented and detail driven.  Driven by details and goals that are no more than wood, hay, and stubble.  Unaware that all around us, slowly the heat is rising.   We have no idea that our world is about to burn.

But sometimes, sometimes…God has mercy.  Instead of a fire, He sends the smoke to warn us–the smoke to surround those we love, to imprint the pungent odor into our senses, to permeate the fibers in our clothes, so that we don’t forget…we don’t forget what could have happened, and we don’t forget what really matters in life.  We never forget.

The Calm Before the Storm

The Calm Before the Storm

Yesterday was that day of mercy.  We were in a chapel service at the Christian school where I teach, where my son attends Kindergarten, and where my dad is on the administrative staff.  I was enjoying watching my son sing “How Great is our God” along with about 100 other Grammar school children.  The parents who had come for chapel were standing behind their children.  The teachers were standing and singing with their classes.  It was a peaceful moment, giving praise to the Lord.

Now, the song means so much more.

The Fire

We hadn’t finished the first chorus when the fire alarm sounded.  Of course we first thought it was a drill, but the realization quickly hit that the administration would never drill during chapel.  The sinking feeling set in that this was real.  We began an orderly exit, but the teachers realized it would be faster to divide the classes and send them out 3 separate doors.  My third grade class was split with another teacher and my son was separated from his kindergarten class and from me.  As soon as we got outside, we smelled smoke and saw it filling the air.  I can’t explain the feeling I had in my heart.  The thought that fire was actually burning our building was nearly too much to think about.  But as I mentioned, sometimes God has mercy.

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David Burress–Blacksmith

The Smoke

On this day, we were having a blacksmith present his trade to our classes.  He was going to share examples of a blacksmith’s work from different periods of History, and he had set up his forge at a safe distance from the school.  As we neared the front of the building, we realized that the smoke billowing around the building and the heavy smell in the air were just that–smoke.  It had been drawn in to the vents in the building, setting off the alarm.  It was only the blacksmith firing up, readying for the activities of the day.  It was smoke.  Only smoke.

DSC06523The Reality of God’s Faithfulness

But the feelings of helplessness, of little children relying on me, of responsibility for the students in my care, and ultimately the sheer joy that those I love were safe– was real, too real to remain dry-eyed when I reflect upon it all.  Too real, when my son shared his view of it all–telling me that the principal had grabbed him and another kindergartener and rushed them out another door, telling them to go to “their line” and stand.  He told me that he was standing on his line crying that Papaw and other kids might get burned up in the fire.  He said that “…When Mrs. Brown told me to run, I pulled my hand free and ran as fast as you would write a dot on a piece of paper, Mom.”  It made my heart still, for at least a nano-second–thinking of what might have been.  But praise the Lord, what might have been had not come to pass.

In Awe of God’s Mercy

It’s amazing how instantly the sky becomes a deeper shade of blue, how my weary body is suddenly rejuvenated, and the little faces looking back at me from across their desks, as well as the face of my own child in the rear-view mirror as I drive home from school for the day, become the sweetest sights I’ve seen in a long, long, time.  And somehow the little worries and concerns have disappeared in that smoky haze of the blacksmith’s forge.

He could have used the fire to burn away and purge the cares of this world, but praise the Lord, this time, the smoke was enough.

Remember the Hands…

Remembering the hands...
Great Grandpa (Ol’ Gramps) holding my son’s hand.

I have a teacher/caregiver-secret, one that I hope will change your mindset and possibly soften your attitude toward the  boogers you call students or patients.  Maybe you have lost sight of the person within the student or patient for whom you are caring.  At times, we all reach a point where we forget the person inside and find ourselves focusing on the problems they have, or the problems they are causing us.  If you have kids, work with kids, or take care of someone–young or old, this will help you.  I’m sure of it.

The secret is: Look at their hands.  I know that just rocked your world, right?  It sounds strange, but stick with me.  So many times in my classroom, I have been helping a student, trying so hard to help them understand a concept they should have grasped twelve explanations ago.  They don’t get it.  I’ve run out of ideas.  The breaking point is close.  That’s when I look down.  There in front of me, curled around a #2 pencil, with an eraser that has been rubbed away in the effort to fix  mistakes they have made  over and over, are  fingers, little fingers and a chubby hand.

At first glance, I may just see  nails, a little too dirty, and awkward knuckles and fingers.

But looking closer, I am taken back to the tiny form of a hand–5 perfect  fingers, almost waving to me on an ultrasound screen–the first glimpse of my little boy’s hand.  These are my baby’s hands.  These are hands of hope.

Then, a year blurs by and I see fingernails lined green and orange, crystals of salt clinging to chubby fingers, and tiny fingerprints outlined with the colors of the  homemade play-dough pressed into the kitchen table.  These are my toddler’s hands.  These are hands of creativity.

Years roll on and these hands are scraped by rocks and “special sticks,” pried out of treasure troves (our back yard dirt pile).  They are boo-booed, and band aided, and kissed to be made better.  These are my preschooler’s hands.  These are hands of exploring.

And at 5 years, I see more slender hands pulling on a school shirt, zipping up a backpack, and writing first letters and first words.  These are my kindergartener’s hands.  These are hands of  learning.

Hands of hope, creativity, exploration, and learning–these are the hands of my little one.

But, these are also the hands of my students.  “In loco parentis” (in place of parents) means a great deal more to me when I focus on these little hands.  My responsibility becomes more than just perfecting how they are holding their pencils as they write their cursive letters.  These hands are holding far more.  They are holding hope, creativity, exploration, and learning from the past, but also for the future.

No matter how young or how old the hands that you are working with every day, they were formed by a Creator, held by a mother, strengthened by experience, and now…

Well, now it’s up to us.

Remember the hope, the creativity, the exploration, the learning.  Remember the child.  Remember the person.

Remember the hands.

A Planting Tip for Teachers

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When the Write Door Opens -Matthew 7:7

God's lessons to a writer, teacher, wife, and mom

Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss

God's lessons to a writer, teacher, wife, and mom