April 2007

"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." Psalm 105:4


Reminder: Easter Devotional!

If you are using Jesus: the Life Giver to prepare for Easter, don't forget to read today's section!

Update: Spain Trip/Upcoming Convention

Thank you all for your prayers for my recent trip to Spain! We arrived back in America late Wednesday evening (the 30th) without any major glitches or delays.

I hardly know where to begin describing the trip itself. There were difficulties (sickness, cold weather, etc.) and times that seemed dark and mysterious at the moment, but looking back I can see how God lovingly watched over us each step of the way and gave us just what we needed. We had a wonderful time meeting families and discussing homeschooling with them. God opened up unexpected opportunities such as a radio interview and meeting with a Spanish author. God also gave us several days to enjoy shopping and seeing the sights of Madrid. We never knew just what the next day or even hour held--God unfolded our trip one step at a time. The trip will forever stand in my mind as a testimony to God's faithfulness and ability to sustain us.

Later this month (April 22-29), we will be traveling up to the Massachusetts homeschool convention (27th-28th). We would appreciate your prayers, both for the convention itself and for the preparations we will be making over the next several weeks. And if you live in New England, we would love to see you there!

We would also appreciate your prayers for the math book and other projects we are trying to finish up. Please pray particularly that God will supply someone to help with the editing, or that He will give us the wisdom we need to do it.

We pray that you will all have a wonderful Easter celebrating Jesus' life--our only hope, now and forever!

In His hands,

Katherine Loop

Thought: The One in Charge

He is not here--He has risen!

The angel's words ring out through the centuries, reminding us that our Savior is alive! He has conquered death. He sits at the right hand of the throne of God, ruling and reigning forever and ever. Nothing, not even death itself, can stop our Lord.

Many times we go through periods in our lives that seem very dark and difficult. Others disappoint us or treat us wrongly. We feel physically or emotionally drained and discouraged. We are unsure what the future holds. Things don't turn out the way we want. We don't know what to do.

Yet no matter how dark it may seem, we can take comfort from the knowledge that Jesus is alive and on His throne. The situations of our lives have not surprised Him. He is the King of kings, and everything that touches us has gone through His hands. And because He came and conquered sin and death, He has the power to give us His life and strength with which to make it through each day.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.                                   Romans 8:11

This month, when things don't go according to your plan, stop and remember who is really in charge. Know that, no matter what human agent or situation seems to be messing up your life, God is the One really in charge. Run to Him and let Him give you His strength and life.

Story: Who Holds the Brush

Emma watched with amazement as her father dotted the canvas with various colors. "Father, what are you doing?"

Emma's father paused his artwork. "Wait and see," he smiled.

Emma tried as hard as she could to be patient, but it wasn't easy. She knew her father was a masterful artist, but she certainly couldn't see what he was doing! As she looked at the painting, all she saw were unrelated blotches of color.

But soon those apparently meaningless specks of color transformed into lifelike trees, flowers, and people. Suddenly, the canvas came alive with a vibrant landscape.

Emma gasped in wonder. "Oh, Father, it's beautiful!" she exclaimed. She'd never seen something so spectacular in her life. "You knew what you were doing all along, didn't you?"

Emma's father smiled. "Yes, child, I could see the finished piece in my mind's eye long before I even began."

"I don't think you should use so much black," Emma declared. She was watching her father paint once again, and was certain that he was doing it wrong this time. "You should try some lighter, prettier colors."

Emma's father just shook his head and kept spreading the black paint across the canvas. "Emma, I know what I'm doing. This black is necessary, I assure you."

"But you didn't use black last time!" Emma argued.

"That's because I was painting something different last time. You wouldn't want all my paintings to look the same, now would you?"

Emma supposed not, but she still could not understand the need for the black paint. Only after her father had finished the entire painting did Emma see the picture her father had had in mind from the very beginning.

Emma was beginning to learn that each one of her father's pictures were unique. And they weren't always of beautiful or spectacular things. Emma's father loved to capture the simple and everyday things as well as the extraordinary ones. His brush could transform even the most mundane object into something special.

One day Emma was playing in her father's workshop. Her father had warned her to be careful, but she had forgotten his instructions. In her carelessness, she brushed up against one of the containers of paint, spraying the canvas with brown streaks.

Emma burst into tears. Oh, how she had blown it this time! She had ruined her father's painting! She tried to fix the painting, but her efforts only made the brown streaks worse. She finally found her father and showed him what she had done. "I'm so sorry, Father!"

Her father wrapped his arms around her. "I forgive you, Emma. And I will work despite those brown streaks. Don't worry."

Then, to Emma's complete amazement, her father proceeded to finish his picture. He softened the dark streaks she had made into branches of trees or edges of paths. Emma couldn't believe it. Her father was such a good artist that he could work even in her mistakes!

Emma looked at the canvas skeptically. She sure couldn't understand what her father was doing this time! But she wasn't going to worry or try to guess like she had in the past. She'd seen enough to know that her father knew what he was doing, and since he was the one who held the brush, she didn't need to worry. He would reveal what he was painting in his good time.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Homeschool Tip: Experts?

--By Cris Loop

Have you ever felt inadequate to teach your children?  If so, join the club! We all have subjects that we don't know or feel like we can teach. 

But what do you do when faced with your inadequacy?  Do you ask the Lord to help you find a class run by an "expert" in the subject? I know that's a very common response. But instead of immediately looking for outside help, I'd like to encourage you to ask the Lord what to do with an open mind. Don't just assume you need someone else to teach the subject--God may want to use your very inability to demonstrate what a wonderful teacher He makes.

When Katherine entered high school years ago, I was more than a little concerned. God had carried us this far, but now we were getting into things that counted. How could I possibly teach her all the things she needed to know?  She desperately wanted to learn Spanish, but beyond ¿Como está usted? (how are you) and gracious (thank you), I don't speak Spanish. I could have easily rushed to enroll her in a class so an "expert" could teach her, but I didn't. Instead, I got to watch God Himself teach my daughter her Spanish. She learned it on her own using a variety of different resources. And God Himself provided opportunities for her to speak with others and get the oral practice she needed.

While Katherine was recently in Spain, people were amazed at how well she spoke Spanish.  Know that God can teach your children what they want/need to know if you will ask and depend on Him.  

I always smiled when people would find out that my children were homeschooled and exclaim, "Wow, your mom must be smart!"  I trained my children to respond with the truth--"Oh, my mom's not really smart. She just knows the smartest person in the whole world--God.  He helps her."  

God doesn't expect you to know everything that your children will learn. He expects you to trust Him to be the teacher.  As you diligently impart what you can and seek His help, God will show you and your children what you/they need to know.  Very rarely have I seen the Lord send us outside our home to meet a learning need.  

All too often we are quick to run and find others that are considered experts to teach our children subjects that we find difficult.  Sometimes it is so easy to sign them up for this class and that class. We don't realize that we're losing valuable training time in going from one thing to another and missing out on letting God teach our children through our inabilities. 

I'm not saying you should never enroll your child in a class. But don't buy into the world's lie that you need to be an expert in a field in order to teach it. Know that God can teach your children what they need to know through you if He chooses.

I would like to challenge you to look at your schedule this year as well as at your plans for next year.  Don't rely on the "experts" any more than you do on yourself. Rely on the Lord--only He can teach your children perfectly--and He is a GOOD teacher! 

Hymn/Poem: Wait, My Soul, Upon the Lord

--Author Unknown. Living Hymns for Use in the Sabbath School, Christian Endeavor Meetings, the Church and Home. Compiled by John Wanamaker. Published in Philadelphia by John J. Hood, 1890.

Wait, my soul, upon the Lord,
To his gracious promise flee,
Laying hold upon this word,
"As thy days, thy strength shall be."

If the sorrows of thy case
Seem peculiar still to thee,
God has promised needful grace,--
"As thy days, thy strength shall be."

Days of trial, days of grief,
In succession thou mayst see;
This is till my sweet relief,--
"As thy days, thy strength shall be."


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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.