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Review: Take My Hand Again

take my hand again

Not only are our children growing older, but so are our parents.  And, while the children are becoming more independent, the parents may be becoming more dependent.  That is the way life works in our broken world.

It’s not easy, this business of our parents growing older.  It is difficult emotionally, of course.  But there is more:  so much to learn, so much to plan, so much to do, and the worst of it is that we have no idea what we should be doing and planning and where to get reliable information.  And through it all, we want to honor our parents and respect them for who they are, what they have done, and the role God has given them in our lives.

Take My Hand Again:  A Faith-Based Guide for Helping Aging Parents by Nancy Parker Brummett aims to help.  It gives information, suggests things to consider, presents possible plans, and provides both experience and comfort, all from a Christian point of view.

I found myself overwhelmed by all the things I had never thought of but thankful for all the information that is available.

Take My Hand Again also reminds us that old age has many golden moments.  Aging is not all negative, especially when the older person knows the Lord and is confident of a heavenly future with him as well as an earthly call to live for him in the last decades, years, or days of life.

There were some sections of the book that left me scratching my head, though, like a Christian caregiving child needing to ask her Christian parents if they loved the Lord.  But perhaps not all parents are as open as mine.

Others left me nodding, like the discussion of prolonging life artificially and the unnecessary suffering it can cause, and the relation of this issue to the obvious evil of euthanasia.   This is a very difficult topic that must be discussed ahead of time, along with other difficult issues.

Since Take My Hand Again is the first book I have read about aging parents, I do not know how it compares with other ones, but I found it very helpful.  Nancy mentions many useful books, organizations, and links, both throughout the book and in her recommended resources section.

We live far from both sets of parents and are so grateful for the siblings who live closer.  Yet we also want to be involved and supportive of our parents and the siblings who live near them.  This book helps us in that.

If you have elderly parents, Take My Hand Again may help you care for them and understand the issues they face and that you must face with them.  If you have not read anything about this topic, it is a good place to begin.

take my hand again

This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, R&R Wednesdays.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel publications for the purpose of this review.  All my opinions are my own, and I am not compensated for sharing them.

A Missionary’s Prescription for Contentment

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When we are in the midst of disturbing circumstances, contentment can be so difficult to find.

During a lifetime of hard missionary work to pygmies in Africa, one woman wrote out her prescription for this virtue.  These priceless notes were found by her daughter after her death, and were quoted in Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow.

  • Never allow yourself to complain about anything—not even the weather.
  • Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else.
  • Never compare your lot with another’s.
  • Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
  • Never dwell on tomorrow—remember that is God’s, not ours.

Linda Dillow continues:  “…because all her tomorrows were nestled in God’s strong arms, she was free to live today. One day at a time she could make the right choices and grow to possess the holy habit of contentment.”

Yes, the list of ‘nevers’ is inspiring, but it is their basis—trust in God’s good providence—that counts.  Otherwise the list could lead to legalism rather than contentment and wisdom.

May God bless us all as we learn to find contentment in him rather than our circumstances.

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 TuesdayR&R Wednesdays.

Review: Sylvan Learning Center Assessment

Sylvan Learning Assessments

With almost two decades of homeschooling under our belts, our family has experienced a variety of learning issues.  Most of them we have been able to diagnose and resolve ourselves.

When I marked a recent French test, though, I realized I needed expert help.  Occasionally we all find ourselves in situations where our love, patience, and efforts are not enough, and then we usually don’t know where to turn.

However, long ago the 12-year-old daughter of a dear friend learned to read at a Sylvan Learning Center, and when I put down that French test, I picked up the phone and called Sylvan.

Of course, it wasn’t only the French.  It was also the math.  The reading.  The spelling.  The extreme creativity and extreme distractibility.  In fact, it was everything.

Did this child of mine need academic help?  Did she have dyslexia or was she just too global a thinker to notice the individual letters in a word?  Was it something like ADD or ADHD?  Or was it just a childish and lazy attitude?  I suspected it was a bit of each, but I knew I needed help to be able to sort it all out and give her the education she needs.

You can read my complete review over at the Curriculum Choice.

Ascension Day

Jesus will return on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Jesus will return on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Today Christians throughout the world remember our Lord’s ascension into heaven.

Even though Jesus Christ has ascended to heaven, we are not alone.  He sent his Holy Spirit to be with us, and he gives us his peace as he promised, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

And someday he will return.  As the angels told the disciples, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Yes, he will return to this pain-filled world and then, finally, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.  He will make all things new and once again all will be good, as it was in the beginning.

Until then let us remember that Jesus is always with us, through his Holy Spirit and through his people.

May God bless you this Ascension Day.  To him alone be the glory.  Amen.

Aside:  Bach put all these emotions into his beautiful Ascension Day Oratorio.  (This performance has some English subtitles; an English translation of the lyrics is also available.)

This is part of a series of occasional meditations about daily life, Bible readings, and our pastor’s  sermons based, in this case, on Luke 24:50-53.  See also Matthew 24:30, Acts 1:6-11, John 14:27, and Revelation 21:4,5. 

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 TuesdayR&R Wednesdays

Review: Discovering the 5 Love Languages at School

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You have probably heard about Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages and how they can transform relationships.  This simple concept suggests that people give and feel love in 5 main ways or ‘languages’:

  • words of affirmation,
  • quality time,
  • acts of service,
  • gifts,
  • touch.

Once people understand the concept that some of these ‘languages’ will make an individual person feel deeply loved and others will not, they have learned a vital fact about relationships.  Even better, once they know exactly which of these make a particular person feel loved, they have the key to that relationship. They will realize that some loving actions will just not be understood as love because the person does not really appreciate those ‘languages’.

Or, as it has been explained to children, “Sometimes we try to love people in a language that they don’t understand, and it doesn’t make them feel loved at all….Once you figure out what makes people feel loved, you can really be a better friend [and family member] to them.”

Teacher and guidance counsellor D. M. Freed was inspired by the thought of what this knowledge could do for elementary school kids so he developed a curriculum for them, Discovering the 5 Love Languages at School Grades 1-6:  Lessons that Promote Academic Excellence and Connections for LifeAlthough this curriculum was developed for schools, its concepts and presentation can be adapted for use in families and homeschool co-ops including adults and teens.

Freed begins the 7-lesson curriculum with a discussion of connectedness research and the Love Languages.  Then he explains how the curriculum is put together, with objectives, introductions, concepts explained on worksheets, closure, and independent practice or homework.

Of course, teaching about love means you have to define what it means in the context of the curriculum:  ‘love’ is an action word and is about doing something for somebody.  Each of the Love Languages and its opposite is also defined throughout the course of a lesson.  Presenting the opposites not only helps clarify the love language but also helps address issues such as bullying, harassment, flattery, bribery, and unsafe touch.

Each lesson is presented in a fully scripted fashion as well as in an abbreviated outline, showing how to use the worksheets during the lesson.  For each lesson, work sheets are available for grades 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6, and there are also sheets to help students take notes and reflect on what they have learned.  Each lesson involves practical work to do at home and at school to improve relationships and is sensitive to the fact that for some children this will not be straightforward.  Unlimited copying of the worksheets is allowed for classroom use, and these pages are perforated to allow that.

As an aside, being a homeschooler I was struck by the amount of information that can be collected about students and sent on from teacher to teacher.  Each teacher then meets a new class through the opinions and biases of the previous teacher(s), which is a bit of a scary thought.  However it can be a good thing when children are at risk, and this curriculum works hard to equip teachers to notice and support such children.  I just hope that parents would also be informed.

One of the goals of the curriculum is to improve the connections among students, between staff and students, and in students’ families.  Apparently children really respond to the idea that loving others involves skills that can be learned and practiced.   They are also encouraged and empowered by learning their own Love Languages as well as those of their family and friends.

After having taught this curriculum 360 times in schools, author D. M. Freed says, “I have never taught a more rewarding curriculum during my entire teaching career.  Many of us observed big changes in the attitudes of the students.  They hungered for more lessons.  The compliments from parents came pouring in weekly.”

From the results of applying small bits of the 5 love Languages over the years in our family, I can well understand that.  That’s why I’m interested in adapting this curriculum for our homeschooling family–so that we can study the languages more systematically.

We have not yet had a chance to use this curriculum in our home but it is one of the things I plan to do over the next few months.  We have discussed the 5 Love Languages before and have taken the online quizzes, but they did not work for us very well.  As I read through this curriculum I understood the Love Languages a whole lot better and came closer to identifying the way I understand love.  I’m hoping our family members will be able to determine our own Love Languages as well as learn how to show love more effectively.

Of course this whole curriculum assumes that the idea of the 5 Love Languages is valid.  Undoubtedly it is not the final answer to relationships; people are much more complicated and changeable than is presented here. On the other hand, the 5 Love Languages can give us helpful insight into our loved ones and ourselves as well as some valuable tools to enhance relationships.

If you are looking for a way to help your children show love or a proactive, positive way to deal with negative issues, this curriculum will benefit your homeschool.  It could also be helpful in a co-op or Sunday school setting and, of course, in elementary schools.  If you are uncertain, I recommend exploring the idea of the 5 Love Languages and then contemplating what a deep understanding of the languages could do for your children.

This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, R&R Wednesdays,.

Disclosure: This curriculum has been provided courtesy of Side Door Communications and I am not compensated in any way for expressing my own honest opinions.

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