Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!

What's Right with Christmas?

I know. There are a LOT of things wrong with the way Christmas is celebrated in our culture. . .

  • The Christmas merchandising season now begins the day after Halloween;
  • Gift giving is increasingly more harried, hurried, and expensive; . . .to name a few.
  • Santa Claus is more prominent that the Child born in Bethlehem;

And, then there are the folks in the church who are quick to point out that, perhaps:

Christmas was just the Christianized version of the Roman winter solstice celebration;

  • Our cherished traditions—like decorating Christmas trees and festive holiday lighting—come from non-Christian sources, and, are thus, suspect.
  • The birth of Jesus was not in December;

It’s enough to remove Christmas cheer from your heart, isn’t it?

Leaving behind all the crass commercialism and religious arguments, I’d like to share with you a few things that are absolutely RIGHT with Christmas—the first, historic, Jesus-born-in-a-stable Christmas. We’ll consider the historic moment, the location, and the way-beyond-normal occurrences.

To start, Galatians 4:4 speaks of God sending Jesus “in the fulness of time.”

What does that mean? Obviously, it is not referring to December 25, so what made the timing of His birth so absolutely perfect?

It’s a question so rich and complex that one could spend a lifetime digging into the answer, but the short version would include these points:

  • The Greeks, Romans, Gauls (of western Europe), Britons, Jews, Syrians, and Egyptians were all, for the first time, combined into one peaceful and seemingly permanent Roman empire, established in 27 B.C.;
  • East and West were able to freely mingle during the Roman Empire, which meant large cities became the meeting places for different languages and people groups who lived within the boundaries of the empire.
  • This Pax Romana,” or Roman Peace, allowed a more settled, peaceful environment in the Mediterranean region than had ever before been possible—and lasted for more than 200 years;

This was an utterly unique moment in ancient history. It was now possible to take news from one end of the Roman Empire to the other in a very short time, and the metropolitan mix of languages and cultures allowed people to learn of other places and ideas in ways not unlike our current globalism.

Then, consider the geographical dimension of where the birth of Jesus took place. We know it was in Bethlehem, the city of David. But if we zoom out a bit, we discover:

  • Bethlehem was only about six miles from Jerusalem, the metropolitan city of the Roman province of Judea;
  • This province was at the strategic intersection of Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Location, location, location. This was the perfect place—considering trade routes—from which to send out good news.

An utterly unique moment in a perfect location.

And, into this historic setting, we see supernatural events suddenly taking place:

  • Angelic announcements to Zachariah, Mary, Joseph, and shepherds in the fields with their sheep;
  • A heavenly warning to this family to escape to Egypt—with the incredible provision of gold, frankincense and myrrh at just the right moment.
  • Wise men from the East, led by a star, bringing kingly gifts to an impoverished family;
  • A baby born of a virgin.

The more we ponder the events of Jesus birth, the greater our awe will be at His entrance into our world. And, friends, that is what is right with Christmas

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Teaching Tip 12 — Following the Rabbit Trail

Many years ago, we had a basset hound named Max (think sleepy dog, drooping eyes, and s-l-o-w motion). There were only two things that got Max’s attention and caused him to hustle—food and the scent of a rabbit. At that point, we lived in a somewhat rural area, with wooded acres to explore. Normally, Max stayed close to home and the food bowl, but there were times we would hear his distinctive, “Ah-woo-woo,” and the crashing sounds of a rather large dog running for all he was worth.

I don’t think he ever caught one. . .but he never got tired of following the rabbit’s trail.

Now, let’s talk about kids. Specifically, let’s talk about kids when it comes to learning math, science, literature, and history. Do you ever notice a marked decline in their enthusiasm? Do their eyes start to droop when you bring out the books? Do they drag through the day UNTIL school is done?

If so, then a rabbit trail is just what you need.

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Overcoming

Overcoming

Dear Friends,

Right now, do you feel like you are overcoming. . .or are you going under?

Whether struggling with illness, difficult relationships, lack of finances, unwanted changes, crushing disappointments, or numbing loss, many of us are in the midst of a storm.

In this place of overwhelming need, I have learned that someone else’s story of experiencing God’s faithfulness and goodness in great difficulties brings a spark of hope, a measure of courage, and an increased fervency in prayer.

My bookshelves are filled with those kinds of stories, of people like you and me who overcame through their faith in God. One of my favorites is the story of Gladys Aylward, a British serving girl who, just prior to WWII, went to China in obedience to God’s call.  As unlikely as it seems, this small woman experienced extraordinary help to do impossible things in life-and-death situations.

In the book, No Mountain Too High, the author described Gladys fleeing the Japanese army with one hundred children and with a price on her head for being a spy for the Chinese. Heading for the safety of southern China and a Christian orphanage, she and this huge group of children walked—many of them barefoot—for twelve days across the mountains, scrounging whatever food and shelter they could find along the way. They knew the Yellow River must be crossed before they would finally be free from the terrors of war raging just behind them.

But when they arrived at the river, there were no boats.

There were no people at the riverside village.

There was no food.

Gladys and the children kept waiting, praying, seeking the Lord, asking Him for deliverance. But this wasn't casual prayer. They weren’t facing a minor inconvenience. It didn't last for the few moments it takes to read in a book.

No. It was real life. The Japanese army could show up at any moment. And, since they had offered a huge price for Gladys' capture as a spy, it was a terrifying consideration. In exhaustion, hunger, and discouragement, her prayers were not lofty. They were nitty-gritty and real.

Amazingly, this group of refugees stayed right by the Yellow River, praying and waiting for deliverance for three days. Three days!! It seems almost impossible that one woman and one hundred children who were sick and hungry, helpless and tense, could hold on—when, at any moment, they could be taken. There was nothing else to be done but to wait and pray. There was no going back across the mountains and they could not cross the Yellow River without boats. There was no other path to safety. If God did not rescue them, they would die or be captured.

Her situation was as real, as fraught with difficulty and fear, as yours is today.

So, what happened? After the agonisingly long and difficult days of crossing the mountains and praying beside the river, help arrived from a totally unexpected source. Chinese soldiers, who had hidden a boat in the bushes, found these children and woman, and ferried them across the river.

Not one died, not one was captured.

Hope rises in our own heartThough Japanese aircraft patrolled the river and Japanese soldiers were watching the river, no one stopped or even challenged Gladys and her children from crossing. She was able to successfully deliver all of these precious children to the orphanage (another incredible part of her story) where they were safe and cared for.

It is easy, even exhilarating, to read about in a book, isn’t it? And, as we read, suddenly, hope rises in our own heart. We consider the character of God as seen in Gladys' story, and wonder if God might provide us with an equally impossible rescue.

I have learned in my own journey that His goodness is not limited to people in history. His compassionate love for us knows no bounds, and His power to save passes our comprehension.

Our times are in His hands.

He works all things together for our good.

He is utterly faithful.

Gladys’ story demonstrates so clearly that, though His ways are not our ways and His timing is seldom comfortable, yet, we can trust that He is in the process of answering our prayers, sending help, and providing an unexpected way to overcome.

Gratefully,

Diana

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History Online with Diana Waring

Online History Class with Diana Waring

This fall, I am premiering a world history online course, Napoleon Through MacArthur, for high school homeschool students. Capturing students’ interest so they actively engage in learning, inspiring their motivation to dig deeply, and welcoming their unique contributions to the class are my priorities. And, honestly, I can’t wait!

Working with the Software Research Center at Anderson University for technical assistance, they have helped me design my course utilizing the best technology available to universities. We are collaborating to make this course as fully interactive, curiosity-driven, and creative as the World Empires, World Missions, World Wars curriculum on which it is based.

If your homeschooled student is in high school, and if taking a course from another teacher would provide help to you and your student, then this is a good option. (All three of my kids took at least one course with another teacher during high school, and it was a great experience.) I still believe that there is no substitute for the nurture, the knowing, the interaction that is present between parent and child in homeschooling. Therefore, parents will also have opportunities to be involved in what their students are doing in this course.

Richly relational, deeply educational, broad in scopeIn September, as the author of World Empires, World Missions, World Wars, I will be your student’s “tour guide” and mentor as we venture back into the tumultuous times of the 1800s through the 1950s, giving visual presentations of specific features in the ever changing historic landscape, engaging them in discussion about what they are seeing, answering the questions that will naturally arise, and directing their assignments. We will not only study the major historic events and people (including missions, revivals, and Church history), we will also expand into the cultural elements of the time, such as literature, architecture, art, music and science. Students will have ongoing opportunities to create projects (including group projects) to share with the class—and to learn from one another’s projects. It is going to be richly relational, deeply educational, and broad in scope.

If this resonates with you, I enthusiastically welcome your students to my Napoleon through MacArthur course—where the online learning environment has been designed for them to thrive!

Read the course description, and enroll for the course if you are interested. Class is limited to the first 25 students to sign up.

If you are unfamiliar with my curriculum, here is an endorsement by Dr. David Aikman, Ph.D. historian, former Time Magazine senior correspondent, and author of several books including Jesus in Beijing:

"Diana Waring has written a careful, insightful history of the important developments in Europe and North America from the French Revolution to the beginning of the Cold War. What makes her account important from a Christian worldview is that she weaves in spiritual developments -- revivals, new Christian movements, prayer ministries -- with no false dichotomy between spiritual developments and the actual historical developments of the day. I recommend her work warmly."

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Top 5 Reasons to Use The Library Teaching Tip #11

Homeschoolers have traditionally used the library. However, so much has changed in the digital world that you may be wondering if it's worth the hassle to pack up the kids, drive to the library, and then deal with all of the books that flood into your home!

I think the answer is YES!!! To explain why, here are my top five reasons to use the library.

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