Newsletter #354 - Archived Online.
For 32 years The Teaching Home has provided families information,
inspiration, and encouragement from a distinctively Christian perspective.
Co-Editors: Veteran Home-School Sisters, Sue Welch and Cindy Short
I Heard the Bells
on Christmas Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1864
I heard the bells on Christmas day
And wild and sweet
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And thought how, as the day had come,
Had rolled along
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Till ringing, singing on its way
A voice, a chime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head;
"For hate is strong,
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
The wrong shall fail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!"
The following free online resources (unit studies, e-books, advent calendars, and activities) can help you use this season to teach your children and build family traditions.
Also see The Teaching Home's Christmas Pinterest Page for more resources, plus art and craft projects.
New in This Issue
Figgy Pudding, Stollen and Tamales. Sign up for the free twice-monthly Knowledge Quest newsletter and receive free 31-page e-book with holiday recipes from 14 countries.
The Announcement to Mary. Free 12-page e-book with Bible lesson featuring the unique "stick figuring" though the Bible from Grapevine Studies.
Christmas Devotionals delivered to you by e-mail. Choose from Advent Devotions, Christmas Joy, Classic Christmas Hymns, The Christmas Story.
Christmas IQ Quiz. See how well you know the Christmas story.
Names of Jesus Ornaments. Printable Bible crafts. These also correlate with the free Names of Jesus unit study (below).
Gifts, decorations, crafts, recipes, cards from Martha Stewart.
Christmas Planner & Unit Studies
Christmas Planner. "Tips for Organizing & Simplifying Your Way to the Christmas You've Always Dreamed Of" includes budget, scheduling, gifts, shopping, traditions, cards, decorating, baking, charity, plus printables. 24-pages.
A Blessed Christmas Unit Study. This unit study is about the symbols of Christmas – each one pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ. The entire focus is on Christ, His character, our service to Him, and our opportunity to spread His light to others. This 24-day study has been expanded with many activities. 49-pages.
The Names of Jesus Unit Study. Each of 24 days you will study one of the Names of Jesus. Includes Bible and character study, learning activities, a Christmas Journal, and more.
Good Christian Men Rejoice! This unit is a study of 15 Christmas carols and hymns with learning activities.
Christmas Around the World. Information, activities, recipes, coloring pages, etc. Includes Japan, Australia, Egypt, England, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, and Colonial America. Not overtly Christian, but nothing objectionable. 46 pages.
Christmas Unit Studies. This index page links to many possibilities to include in your Christmas unit study, including links to resources, lapbooking units, coloring pages, learning activities, complete unit studies, and more. Not overtly Christian.
Although Advent officially begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, most Advent calendars start on December 1.
Teaching Mom's Advent Calendar. This Advent calendar was made to be used over again for as many years as you can get something out of it. So you probably won't be able to do everything in the same year. You can make this a month-long unit study of Advent and Christmas, or just get some ideas for how to create your own Advent traditions at home. Each day includes: Advent candle; Bible verses and study; Jesse Tree verses; Chrismom; articles/devotionals; discussion starters; vocabulary; book and movie suggestions; study of fine art and carols; traditions and history around the world; coloring, cooking and crafts, and activities; plus home decorations.
Thriving Family's Countdown to Christmas. This Focus on the Family publication's activity calendar is a 19-page e-book with daily scripture and activities.
About.com's Countdown to Christmas. Each day offers links to a recipe, a game, a coloring page, a craft, an activity, plus a way to show off your projects.
Homeschooled-Kids.com Advent Calendar for Families. A simpler version for younger children.
Annie's Christmas Welcome Page. On this page you will find all my different Christmas pages listed. Annie's Holiday Pages are written from a Christian Perspective! www.annieshomepage.com
The information, inspiration, and encouragement packed into each back issue never goes out of date. They are always relevant, applicable to your needs today.
"The Teaching Home has been a part of my continuing education since I started homeschooling, and I have kept every issue.
"I often go back to old issues to find creative, helpful hints or inspiration."
As our 6-year-old daughter was working out math problems with manipulative cubes, our 10-year-old daughter said to her, "I used those cubes when I was in 1st grade. I didn't use my mind until I was in 3rd or 4th grade."
Submitted by Carol H., Florida.
Send your humorous anecdote to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For it was the Father's (God) good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Jesus Christ),
And through Him to reconcile all things to Himself,
Having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19-22)
1. God loves you.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
2. Man is separated from God by sin.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23) For the wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23)
3. The death of Jesus Christ in our place is God's only provision for man's sin.
He (Jesus Christ) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)
4. We must personally receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Eph. 2:8, 9)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
See all 88 references to peace in the New Testament.
Immerse your family in God's truth through systematic reading and study of God's Word.
Listen to the Bible Online. Choose from six English versions (plus Spanish and other languages) at BibleGateway.com/Audio.
Search God's Word at BibleGateway.com. Options include Passage Lookup, Keyword Search,and Topical Index.
Listen to beautiful traditional, sacred, and inspirational conservative Christian music (commercial free!) when you tune in to these online stations:
• Abiding Radio. Choose from four stations: vocal, instrumental, kids, and seasonal (Christmas). Information for listening on many different devices.
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"Peace on Earth . . ."
Peace has been man's dream since sin shattered the peace between God and man, and between man and man.
Christmas begins the fulfillment of God's promised peace &ndash the Savior is born in order to die, paying sin's price and enabling man to make peace with God and his fellow man.
This is an opportune time to teach your family about peace (see the many scripture references in the articles below), as well as to let friends, family, and acquaintances know how they can have peace with God – the greatest gift of all!
May the Lord bless your family for His glory.
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"How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live in unity!"
I began to collect Norman Rockwell prints as a girl. At 17 my favorite Christmas gift was a giant book of Norman Rockwell paintings and Saturday Evening Post Covers. I loved the detail, the nostalgic scenes and faces, and I would spend hours poring over the pages.
Norman Rockwell's painting "Freedom from Want" from the "Four Freedoms" series depicts three generations enjoying a holiday meal. I long for loving, peaceful family moments like this.
When my mother was asked what she wanted for Christmas, she would always respond, "I just want a family that will get along together."
We did have our share of conflicts, and maybe that was the beginning of my fascination with Rockwell paintings. Warm meaningful moments are frequent themes of Rockwell's work, and I wanted moments like that in my family.
This desire for peace in my home continued on in my adulthood. Buried deep in my decision to homeschool was a desire for a conflict-free family.
My strategy for peace during the holidays when I was younger was to try to create an environment that encouraged Rockwellian moments, either through food, decorations, or working hard to make things "just right."
When conflict got the best of me, and I could deny the problem no longer, I would escape, at first to my room, and then as an adult, to my own home, where the problems were different, less intense.
Even when conflict arose in my own home, my attempts at peace were based more on avoidance because I really didn't know how to face the problems.
During the holidays, especially as the children got older, the stress and pressure of trying to make things "just right," along with homeschooling, resulted in more conflict.
My efforts to create peace weren't diffusing conflict, but were causing it!
How grateful I am that God has provided a way out of my holiday-conflict cycle.
After years of attempting to create a conflict-free environment, I have come to understand that conflict is inevitable in a fallen world.
The goal is not to eradicate conflict, (or put a Rockwellian facade on life), but to see the opportunity for God to use it for good. This opportunity begins with my responding to personal conflict in a biblical manner.
This is good news in everyday life, and even more so in the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Let me describe some peacemaking principles that will help you provide a little peace on earth in your own home this season.
The principles which allow us to experience peace during the holidays are the same ones that will allow us to enjoy positive family relationships during the New Year.
If a conflict should arise, try using personal peacemaking principles.
"A man's wisdom gives him
it is to his glory to overlook an offense."
Many disputes can be completely resolved by quietly overlooking an offense and forgiving the one who has wronged you.
What bothers us now, might actually be a small matter, and the goal is not my way, but God's way.
"If . . . your brother has
something against you
. . . go and be reconciled."
Personal wrongs that are too serious to overlook should be resolved through confession or loving confrontation.
Remember, though, that before we confront someone with what he has done, we must get the "log" out of our own eye by recognizing how we may have contributed to the conflict and confessing that wrong first (Matt. 7:5).
Having admitted that, we can graciously talk to the other person about the matter that has come between us.
"Each of you should look not
only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others."
Perhaps one of the main reasons we get involved in conflict in the first place is that we want our own way and don't see anything but our own desires.
This Christmas when you find yourself getting upset with someone, ask yourself what the other person might actually want and look for a way to meet a need for him or her.
Inquiring graciously about the other person's interests, rather than simply pushing for our own interests can help keep a conflict from causing damage.
I still enjoy Rockwell paintings. I have an entire wall in my home dedicated to my favorites.
I still strive for peace in my family, but not by recreating a perfect Norman Rockwell scene there. And I no longer routinely escape when the peace is interrupted by discord.
Instead, I seek to glorify God through my response to the conflicts.
May your relationships be more harmonious this Christmas and your best gift to others be that of peacemaking!
Annette Friesen is a Conciliation and Training Consultant for the Institute for Christian Conciliation at Peacemaker Ministries, an international ministry committed to equipping and assisting Christians and their churches to respond to conflict biblically. Rick and Annette have graduated three of their four children from homeschooling. They have been support group leaders, convention coordinators, and served on three state homeschooling boards. Rick and Annette currently work for Peacemaker Ministries and make their home in Billings, Montana.
Copyright 2005 Peacemaker Ministries, Peacemaker.net. Reprinted with permission.
Audio Books & Stories Make Great Gifts –
Whoever first said raising children is a challenge should be inducted into the Understatement Hall of Fame.
Children offer their parents continuous – and bountiful – blessing, true. They can be the picture of innocence, little independent units of humanity with bright, sparkling eyes and completely candid emotions. And when brought up to trust and love their Lord, they gladden many a parental heart.
But they, like the rest of us, were born into sin. And, as sinners, their hearts and minds are naturally inclined toward evil. This propensity toward sin plays itself out in many areas of kids' lives.
Jesus put Christian behavior in proper perspective when He was asked to identify the most important commandment. He said,
"Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind.
"This is the first and greatest commandment."
But then He added the second greatest:
"Love your neighbor as
(Matthew 22:37- 39)
We can show our love for God through public worship, daily times of prayer and Bible study, and by giving to ministries that advance His kingdom.
But He also calls us to demonstrate our love for Him by loving other people in concrete ways:
"He has given us this
Whoever loves God must also love his brother."
(1 John 4:21)
In a fallen world, such love for others does not come naturally. Nobody has to teach us to put "me" first; we do not need instruction on how to be selfish.
And, if you didn't know it before you had children, you certainly know it after: Nobody has to teach kids to fight.
Love for other human beings is a gift of God, given primarily through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, who changes our hearts and gives us a growing desire and ability to love other people (see Philippians 2:13).
But God has also chosen to involve people, especially parents, in this educational process, using us to model and teach how to love one another.
This fact has a profound effect on how we raise our children. For the truth is, we must, with God's help, teach our children to respect others, live with others, and most importantly, love others.
If our children are to live lives pleasing to God, they will need education in how to get along with their siblings and friends. And to do this, they must know how to properly resolve conflicts even amongst themselves. In short, they must be taught peacemaking.
And we, their parents, must be the teachers.
Our churches may contribute to this goal, but when it comes to instructing our children in getting along with others, in resolving conflicts amongst themselves, parents must assume the primary responsibility to model and teach how to love others as God commands (see 1 John 3:23; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Ephesians 6:4).
To fulfill this important responsibility, parents must learn to see this matter as God sees it. Through Scripture, God teaches us that relationships invariably involve conflict. He also teaches that we should be prepared to respond to these conflicts in a variety of constructive ways.
As these passages indicate, getting along with other people requires a loving heart and a wide array of conflict resolution skills. In other words, it requires peacemaking.
Adapted from Peacemaking for Families, by Ken Sande. Copyright 2002 Tyndale. Used with permission.
This year, give to the Lord while touching the outcasts and the needy – bringing to them the Good News of the Savior whose birth we celebrate.
Through the online Gospel for Asia Christmas Gift Catalog you can give a family in South Asia the chance for a better life by selecting and sending them a gift.
Your gift will make a difference in their lives – not only materially, but spiritually as well! Every gift is given in the name of Jesus, and the recipients are eager to learn of the love that generated such a caring act of kindness.
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Since all of life involves relationships and all relationships are prone to conflict, peacemaking is a key to success in life. This is as true for our children as it is for us.
Therefore, the first requirement for teaching children to be peacemakers is to show that peacemaking skills are necessary if they want to succeed in their Christian life.
Peacemaking skills are especially important for any Christian who wants to be faithful to Christ in our increasingly godless culture.
Consider Daniel and Esther, who lived in cultures that were completely hostile to their faith. Even when they faced life-or-death conflicts, they never compromised their spiritual integrity or commitment to God. They trusted in God and practiced some of the shrewdest conflict resolution found in Scripture. Amazingly, they not only survived, but they thrived as God blessed their efforts and moved them to pinnacles of influence in their societies.
If our children learn these same skills at a young age, they too may be used of God in places of ministry or for political or corporate influence beyond our imaginations.
Kids need to learn that peacemaking is essential to their Christian witness. Jesus said,
"By this all men will know
that you are my disciples,
if you love one another."
If our children are at odds with those around them, their attempts to witness will be fruitless. But if they learn how to love and be reconciled with those who wrong them, others are more likely to believe them when they talk about the love and forgiveness of God (John 17:23).
Peacemaking is also crucial for success in professional and vocational life.
I have worked as a corporate engineer, a lawyer, and a ministry executive. I have hired, promoted, and fired people. These decisions were rarely based primarily on a person's technical skills.
What I have valued most in an employee or manager is the ability to work as part of a team, to maintain strong relationships, and to build consensus so a group's gifts and energies stay focused on the project at hand.
These are the skills of a peacemaker, and they are the same skills that will help your children succeed in the vocations to which God calls them.
Peacemaking is a key ingredient in a fulfilling marriage and a happy family (and a guard against divorce).
Marriage brings two sinners into close proximity, where their selfish desires rub against each other day after day. Friction increases when God adds "little sinners" to the mix!
There is only one way to deal with this volatile mixture – the three basic tools of the biblical peacemaker:
1. Humble Confession
2. Loving Confrontation
3. Genuine Forgiveness
In short, peacemaking equips children for life.
If you want your children to glorify God, have fulfilling and enduring marriages, be fruitful in their careers, and contribute to their churches and the building of God's kingdom, teach them to be peacemakers!
Adapted from Peacemaking for Families, by Ken Sande. Copyright 2002 Tyndale. Used with permission.
Peacemaker Ministries offers many resources to help you teach your children to be peacemakers. The Peacemaking Family Pack includes both the teacher's guide and student activity booklets for the Young Peacemaker curriculum, as well as Ken Sande's book Peacemaking for Families.