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December 21, 2011

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Deborah's  Picture


All of us here at The Homeschool Minute pray that your Christmas celebration with your family will be as beautiful as our Savior. He is worthy of all glory and honor and celebration. Some of our writers have taken the week off, so I wanted to share with you some things I have been learning as I've read through that great Christmas story in Luke chapters 1 and 2. Here is a devotion from my heart to yours this Christmas.


What Do I Give Someone Who Has it All?

How many times have you asked yourself that question as you've been shopping lately? What do I give them--they have everything! I have been asking myself that same question not only with people in my life, but more importantly with my relationship with the Lord. What can I offer this King? Most days I feel like I have nothing to offer. I have taught my children that we can and should give our hearts to the King. But what does that look like practically?


I found my answer in Luke chapters 1 and 2 when I looked at the hearts of a few of the players in this real-life Christmas play. The gifts I found are not conjured up from some imaginary place called "the heart," but they are real-life responses to the life God has chosen for each of us.


The Gift of Mary's Response

Mary was not royalty, but she knew what to give a King. Perhaps God chose Mary because she was willing to do what He asked - even to give up her reputation-her very life-for Him. The personal cost would be great. I think this is why she had this amazing thing going for her: She was highly favored by God. Mary was given an impossible scenario, but God revealed that He could do all things. Mary was willing to give up her comfort, her expectations of a "normal" life, for Him. She chose obedience above all. I had to ask myself: What am I willing to give up for Him-my expectations, my reputation, my idea of what my life should look like?


Mary had a humble, obedient, yielded heart. A heart that says no matter the impossible circumstances "be it unto me according to Your word." The gift of Mary's response could be my gift to the King, too. When God calls me to do something unpopular, inconvenient-something that personally costs all that I am or all that I have, then "giving Him my heart" takes on a whole lot more meaning. My gift would come in the form of being able to say as quickly as Mary did, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word."


The Gift of Elizabeth's Response

When Luke recorded the very first Christmas celebration, we will see that the celebration began before that baby was born. When the angel talked to Mary, he reminded her that all things were possible with God by telling her about her cousin Elizabeth-that she was with child, too. When Mary went to visit, some great things happened to them both.


When Mary came to her, Elizabeth knew immediately that she was in the Lord's presence and was filled with the Holy Spirit. My lesson: If I desire to know the presence of Christ in my life, I must begin with a fully yielded heart of humility. And, when my relationship with the Lord is tight, I am able to recognize His presence. We can see a lot in the gift of Elizabeth's response:


"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." (Luke 1:45 ESV)


Mary not only believes, but now she sees the fulfillment of God's promise to Elizabeth and expects and believes that God will also fulfill what He promised to her. Blessed is she who believed, and blessed are we who believe! Added to a yielded heart, we can give the gift of an expectant and believing heart.


The Gift of Mary's Prayer

A yielded, obedient heart, combined with an expectant and believing heart, produces a heart that worships. And then out of the abundance of our worshiping hearts flow the things we say and the way we live. We will see in Mary's prayer a heart of worship:

"And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation." (Luke 1:46-55 ESV)


The Gift of Simeon's Prayer

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."(Luke 2:25-32 ESV)


May my heart give the same gift as Simeon--that I would take Christ up in my own arms and press Him to my own heart and bless God as I celebrate the fact that I have seen the salvation of the Lord! I can die in peace because the birth of that little boy brought us peace with God. And I can pray that my friends and family would also, like Simeon, "not see death before (they have) seen the Lord's Christ."


The Gift of Anna's Response

"And there was a prophetess, Anna. . . . She was advanced in years . . . a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2:36-38 ESV)


I would love to live a life like Anna, who worshiped night and day so that she knew the moment she saw this child who He really was and began telling others right away. Anna waited decades to see the redemption of Israel and saw it fulfilled in one day, in one tiny person. Previous to this one special day, Anna worshiped with fasting and prayer every other ordinary day, I presume even in the midst of turmoil or weakness or emotional upheaval or trials or depression or the misunderstanding of friends and family. And because she lived a life of worship, she recognized her Savior.


I would do well to give a gift such as Anna did and have a heart of continuing worship, a faithful-to-the-end, daily walk with God. I don't want to miss Him by being too busy with lesser things.


The passage ends stating that Anna "spoke of Him to all who were waiting for redemption." May this also be our gift to the King this Christmas! 


The Gift of Our Heart

So, what exactly do we give that Someone Who has it all?


A yielded heart; an expectant heart; a believing heart; a heart of worship.


These are the things that will make any day a holy day, and one worth celebrating. Whether it happens to be a difficult day, a joyful day, or especially a holiday, we have the perfect gift to give: our heart. 


TOS Senior Editor

ALEKS is an online math program that provides personalized learning and assessment in courses ranging from elementary school math to pre-calculus. ALEKS offers unlimited online access and can be used for a variety of instructional needs, including gifted, remediation, college readiness, and more. Learn more at 


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12 Days of Christmas Celebration from the InstituteReading for Excellence in Writing (IEW). Join us December 26 through January 6 for 12 days of gift giving! For details, see Visit us each day for a new surprise. With warm wishes of peace and hope this holiday season, from your friends at IEW.  

The FamilymanTodd Wilson
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries  



Todd is away this week celebrating Christmas with his family. He will be back next week.

It's Just Common Sense 

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant  


It was one of the best gifts I ever received! There were four or five Christmas cookie cutters, tied together with a ribbon and a cookie recipe, though the giver of the gift shared with me her special uses for those cookie cutters: sandwiches! She said her children loved using the cookie cutters to make shaped sandwiches, bringing a special touch to lunchtime. What a great idea, I thought. There is only so much you can do with peanut butter and jelly, and this sounded like just the ticket to make special lunches without breaking the bank. What a wonderful answer to prayer! I had been inspired by Edith Schaeffer's book The Hidden Art of Homemaking to ask the Lord to open my eyes to the beauty and joy at my fingertips that I could offer my family, and He did!

The first time I served the children star and snowman peanut butter sandwiches, they were delighted! Such a simple change, yet such great fun! They eagerly looked forward to helping me make sandwiches and choose their shape for the day. When my children were small, it was just such simple touches that spoke of my love for our daily life together. I was always on the lookout for little ways to show them the joys of life, and they responded by adopting my point of view.

Another wonderful find during the holiday season was holiday paper plates. I could often find them on sale, and they also brought a specialness to the season that seemed quite disproportionate to the amount I had spent. Store-bought Christmas cookies were also a big hit as they were carefully counted and doled out. We devoted at least one night a week to driving around and looking at Christmas lights. This was a great opportunity to sing Christmas carols with Daddy and maybe even get a small treat. Daddy would also take them for walks around the neighborhood to see the nearby lights while I took a few minutes at home to get a few packages wrapped or homemade presents completed.

Whatever your budget or schedule, there are many ways to add simple touches that speak volumes to your family. Hot chocolate with those cute little marshmallows and a Christmas video can work just as well as more expensive outings. The key is for it to be special to you. Then it will be special for them. The Lord does truly want to show us how to celebrate this special season. It is with a hug, a smile, time for appreciation and the joy of fellowship, grateful for His blessings. May this Christmas season be your richest ever.

~ Debbie     

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Contest Central   

For the month of December, 2011   



Illustory is a kit for creating one's own book. The kit contains instructions, a story web planner, two cover pages, 18 book pages, an order form, 10 washable markers, a postage-paid envelope, and information about completing the book online. The kit price of $21.95 includes one finished book with no return shipping fee. The finished book is a 7- by 9-inch hardcover. There are options for ordering additional copies of your book, making additions to your book, etc. (. . .)


You can make your pictures right on the pages provided, or you can make them on your choice of papers, scan them and insert them into the online pages, and then type your words in at the same time. That is what we opted to do. You can even pick the color of your book cover. This has been an experience I would not have missed for the world. (. . .)

Read the rest of the review here.

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Email Deb with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line "Illustory" for a chance to win* this great resource! 

2011-12 Schoolhouse Planners  

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