It’s time to pray, but what do you say?

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Every get tired of hearing the same prayers over and over again? All too often I am haunted by the lyrics of a Keith Green song:

Bless me Lord, Bless me Lord, you know it’s all I ever hear,
No one aches, no one hurts no one even sheds one tear
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds and He cares for your needs
And you just lay back and keep soaking it in

We know we need to pray, and we sometimes even sit down to pray, but can’t find the words. We see faces of those hurting around us, or those willfully walking in sin.
We pray, “God help them,” or “God change them,” but what else can we say?

If you have been in church for very long you can probably name someone you consider a prayer warrior. Maybe you have listened with a feeling of joy mixed with a bit of envy as their prayers made heaven come down.

This week we are remembering the sacrifice that our Lord and Savior made for us. We are celebrating and meditating on the event in history that changed everything. The resurrection. We are prayerfully seeking the face of God and begging him to move, to change, to deliver, to redeem.

So as we turn our hearts towards God I wanted to share with you a gift straight from the number one prayer warrior in my life. My mom.

As a child, when I would have a hard time sleeping I would creep out of my room and petition her for some warm milk. Without fail I would find her knitting on the couch either listening to scripture on her Sony Walkman, or praying, or both.

Both?

Determined to fill her heart with scripture, my mother had taken verses, inserted our names in them, written them out, and recorded herself reading them. We would regularly listen to these tapes as we fell asleep at night. She was always praying scripture over our lives.

Recently her passion for praying through scripture was re-ignited. Having witnessed the power of this tool in her own life, she was determined to share this gift with others. So she scoured the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and pulled out verses that one could pray.

Here is an excerpt of her hard work:

JEREMIAH, NAHUM & MALACHI

Before God formed _______ in the womb, He knew her/him, before _______ was born, God set

           her/him apart; God appointed _______ as a prophet to the nations.  (Jer.1:5)

Now, God has put his words in _______’s mouth.  Today, God has made _______ a fortified city, and

          iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land. (Jer.1:9,10)

_______ obeys God’s voice.  _______ walks in all the ways that God has commanded her/him that it

          may be well with her/him.  (Jer.7:23)

Surely God will deliver _______ for a good purpose; surely God will make _______ ‘s enemies plead

          with her/him in times of disaster, in times of distress.  (Jer.15:11)

When God’s words came, _______ ate them; they were her/his joy and her/his heart’s delight, for

_______ bears your name, O LORD God Almighty.  (Jer.15:16)

_______ is blessed because she/he trusts in the LORD.  _______ is like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.  _______ never fails to bear fruit.  (Jer.17:7,8)

Heal _______ , O LORD,  and _______ will be healed for you are the one she/he praises. (Jer.17:14)

_______ sings to the LORD!  _______ gives praise to the LORD! (Jer.20:13)

God is _______’s stronghold in time of trouble.  (Nah.1:7)
She has invested hours of prayer and love into this project, and it is available to you for free!
If you would like a pdf of this amazing document to pray over your loved ones and even yourself, enter your email address into the “follow” box, and I will email you a copy to print out. This will also mean you are will get an email whenever there is a new post on my blog also, but you can easily “unfollow” after downloading if you choose.

Let’s start praying with a purpose and see God move.
How have you practiced the discipline of prayer? Share any testimonies or suggestions in the comment section as we spur each other on towards love and good works!
Amen!

The Tough Decision That Changed My Life

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I was that girl.

The one that had more friends of the opposite sex than of my own.

Even as a twenty something, some of my closest friends were guys, and honestly I didn’t see this as a problem…..until one night at a single’s retreat. The teacher spoke of unhealthy relationships between men and women, and he wasn’t talking physical. It went something like this:

If you are in a “friendship” relationship with someone of the opposite sex where you share your hopes, dreams, details of your day, etc. a “best friend” per se….and this friendship isn’t leading towards marriage, then it is not a good idea.  You see male/female “friendships” that are this close only last for one reason. One person is more invested in the other. So either you are leading someone else along, or you are being led on. Neither of which is a good situation.

Ouch. Immediately I thought of a few names. Well, we are in different states, I thought. It doesn’t matter. Surely this pastor isn’t talking about me.

But he was.

When I got home I made a few phone calls. One was easy. He agreed.

The second phone call wasn’t so easy. He didn’t agree. Thought it was silly. So I caved and left things as they were. He was still on my speed dial, and I was on his. And I let things drag on.

A few months later an old roommate from college and I decided to approach the dreaded Valentines Day with a spiritual focus.  With me in Florida and her in New York, we both had that urge to fast and pray for two weeks!   I decided to pray about marriage, ministry, and missions. I was very single, but these were three desires of my heart on which I hoped to hear God speak.

As Valentines Day and the end of our fast drew near, I kind of hoped for some grand display from God, some reward. But it didn’t come. Just like every other Valentines Day, this one passed by without a single declaration from an admirer.

What I didn’t realize was that this time with God, in prayer and intense Bible study, gave me the strength to be obedient. Strength that I didn’t have 5 months before.

The next month that aforementioned guy friend came down for a visit. And this time I swallowed my pride and shared my heart. This relationship wasn’t healthy. It was confusing. And I knew there needed to be a big change. This time, seeing my face, he understood. And it was over.

Losing a friend is never easy. And this situation was no different. I was sad, but trusted that God knew best.

And boy did he ever. There is so much more to the story, but the cliff notes version is this:

God put a different man in my life who was more than I could have asked for, thought of, or imagined. We fell in love, got married and had lots of babies.

But here’s the clincher.  You see, ten years or so into our marriage I was looking over past journals and found something that completely blew my mind. And even typing this gives me chills. As I thumbed through the pages I couldn’t help but notice the dates.

The first one that jumped out to me was the day I heard from the pulpit that I needed to end that relationship

9/9/99

But that’s not even the best part. The day that I finally obeyed the Lord and gave up– letting go of what I thought I needed was:

March 22, 2001.

Exactly one year to the day before I would say  “I do” to the man He had for me on March 22, 2002

Here’s the thing. My God knows that I love numbers (especially the number 22) 🙂 And He was trying to write a story in my life that would glorify His name. But I was holding on to less than His best for me. It wasn’t until I let go and stepped out in faith, after seeking Him more intensely than I ever had, that I received that miracle.

This is not a formula for a miracle. But it is a reminder that there is no greater plan, no greater decision, and sometimes no scarier step than saying yes to God.

Because what He has for you, it is so good.

Today, as I celebrate my anniversary with the man of my dreams, I am so thankful that I said yes to God and I pray that you would too!!

When Your Enemy Falls- 2 Samuel 1

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2 Samuel 1-

Almost a year ago I read about the prophet Samuel’s death and the Lord reminded me of the need to mourn. Samuel was a faithful prophet. He was a righteous man. His life was worthy of mourning. He had done so much to further the kingdom. Mourning seemed right.

After the death of Samuel, I have watched David struggle, fighting for his life, fighting for his crown, all throughout the next 6 chapters of 1 Samuel and many Psalms. And now in the first chapter of 2 Samuel another great man in David’s life dies.

His name was King Saul.

But Saul was different. Yes, he started out following the Lord, leading a mighty nation, walking in obedience to the law, but something evil got a hold of his heart. Pride. And pride certainly proceeded his fall. Saul turned into his own worst enemy and definitely David’s. As long as Saul was alive David had much to fear. Now that Saul was dead, how did David react?

He mourned the death of a man that sought to destroy him.

He tour His clothes and wept. He wrote a song lamenting the loss of a mighty leader.
And I am trying to soak in this lesson, but my heart doesn’t understand.

David, Saul tried to kill you. He betrayed you on every occasion. Finally, now that he is dead, your calling can be fulfilled! Why do you mourn? Why don’t you rejoice?

Except Saul wasn’t just an angry king, he was David’s father-in-law. He was his best friend’s dad. He was the first earthly king of Israel that David had admired for so long. And now he was gone. There was no hope for reconciliation. No hope for a happy ending. It was over. Such a tragedy. And David’s heart broke. Yes he had lost Jonathon, his kindred friend, his soul brother, his great defender, and he was mourning him too. But the reality that David mourned the loss of his enemy should not be quickly passed over.

The complexity of their relationship makes David’s behavior even more profound. He took some time to work through the pain. Writing music was David’s gift, given by the creator, in which he felt God’s pleasure, a way that He processed, recorded, and reviewed the story of his life unfolding. David took time to tend to his soul. He did what he was designed to do in order to work through the pain that we were not designed to experience. This was not the ending he dreamed of perhaps, but it was here, and he needed to figure it out.

When I first read this story, I admit, I related with David. I know a Saul. I have been hurt, let down, and betrayed., and the emotions are raw.

But as I meditate on this passage something occurs to me.

I am not David.
I am Saul.
You see, I too have impatiently disobeyed when I wanted things my way. I have been jealous of those succeeding where I fail. I have hurt those closest to me.
I have deserved censure, but instead received praise.
The truth is that when God the Father looks at me, He doesn’t recount my failings. In fact in Zephaniah 3:17 says that He sings over me!
He sings over me, like David sang over Saul. God looks at me and sees the righteousness of Christ and He loves me. Despite every mistake, every shortcoming, and every sinful choice. He sings over me.
And knowing this gives me the grace to forgive and to pray for healing in the lives of those that have hurt me. Amen!

The hilarious result of not “Avoiding Strife” in Totally Christian Karate!

It’s almost Friday, but not quite. So I thought I would provide you with some laughter to help you get you through!

We love Mr. Mitch’s Totally Christian Karate, a class where they learn Bible verses and principles to build their spirit AND their muscles! And this is a hysterical picture of what happens in real life when you don’t avoid strife!

Also enjoy Paul laughing hysterically at his son 🙂

Your welcome.

Thank you Suzi for accidentally capturing this timeless moment and sharing the funny with us!

Challenge Accepted!

challenge accepted

Over the past 9 years our homeschooling journey has shaped our family in countless ways. But to be honest, those first few years were about survival. Although I was a teacher by trade, I had no idea what I was doing when we started homeschooling. Thankfully our first child was Miss Independent and learning came easily to her. With a small budget and a background in education, we were able to get by with an eclectic mix of curriculum, yet I knew something was missing.
Enter Classical Conversations.

Many families that I knew and respected were involved in CC, so with nothing to lose, and some thoughtful prayer, we jumped right in. At that time we started with two children in the Foundations program, two in the nursery, and one in my belly! What a year!

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Giving birth two weeks after we started made that first year a bit of a blur, but I knew we were home. CC has answers for so many concerns I had as a parent and an educator which I talked about in my blog here, “The Top Ten Reasons Our Family Loves Classical Conversations.”

Year TWO we added another child to the Foundations program (which made 3) and now had two toddlers in the nursery.

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 With one year under our belt  we settled in a bit more and even had our first memory master! I had no idea what our children were capable of.

Our THIRD year we now had four children in Foundations,one in Essentials, and I also began tutoring Foundations. (Teachers are called tutors because the parent is the primary teacher.)

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This was the biggest game changer for me! Classical Conversations is built around the philosophy that we are learning with our children, yet it wasn’t till I began tutoring that I fully embraced this concept. Having to study and prepare the material for my class, enabled me to fully engage with my children at home which produced enormous benefits. And this year we  had TWO memory masters! To become a memory master, at the end of the year your tutor asks you these questions:

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And you give her these answers:

a4598-ccmemory2In addition, you have to point out about 140 places/features on the map. It’s really amazing!!

Year FOUR we added our fourth child into Foundations,

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We now had two in Essentials, and I continued tutoring Foundations. This year we also had two memory masters.

Lastly we come to this year, our most exciting thus far. All five kids are in foundations, (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is 5 weekly presentations) and two are in Essentials. And in addition to tutoring Foundations, I was given the privilege to tutor Essentials.

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And just like tutoring foundations enhanced my homeschooling in immeasurable ways, tutoring Essentials has done that even more so! Previously, I was not a great Essentials parent-learner. And although parents are required to learn alongside their student in the classroom, paying attention is not my strong suit. You see, I really thought I knew English grammar enough to get by without investing much time. It wasn’t until I started tutoring the class that I realized how much I had been missing by not studying along side my children. After all, I was their primary teacher, but I had missed out on equipping myself to do just that. And not only did tutoring essentials equip me to be a better teacher to my children, it also made me a better writer and communicator in my own life.

   With this year drawing to a close, and our oldest about to enter the Challenge program, I was given another amazing opportunity to become a Challenge A Director. This would mean that I would be leading the Challenge A program our oldest daughter was about to jump into. After much discussion and prayer, my husband and I knew this was a great fit for our family.

CC’s Challenge program provides everything we have ever wanted for our children’s education.

And it starts next year in Challenge A.

  • A strong foundation in Apologetics and reasoning (my favorite!!)
  • A working knowledge of Latin
  • Total mastery of a world Map
  • Developing scientific research skills to make their knowledge of science meaningful
  • Thorough literature program with persuasive writing and discussion
  • Learning the language of math

While being a part of CC has enriched our lives immensely, it is true that there have been times I have felt overwhelmed…many times! And it is in those moments that I am reminded of a verse shared in a training webcast this past summer. Knowing I was going to be tutoring Essentials for the first time,  I was so anxious about the upcoming year, yet as I began to put the time in  to prepare I felt my anxiety lessening day by day. Then a trainer through the webcast shared this verse and man, could I attest to this truth!

Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Parenting is challenging. Directing your children’s education is challenging. Following Christ is challenging. All of these endeavors require diligence and vision led by God. Our family is taking this challenge head on with the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the equipping of a brilliantly designed educational program, and the encouragement and support from an incredible Classical Conversations Community, both local and worldwide. Yes discipline can be difficult, but harvesting the fruit from these last five years has brought such peace and joy, we happily push on with perseverance the race marked out for us!

As Christians we are entering unprecedented times in which we and our children will be required to know God on a deeper level than ever before. We will also have more and more opportunities to make Him known. Our family praises God for a program that equips us to fulfill that calling to the best of our ability.  As I look back on these last five years I am blown away with what God can do when we step out in faith. God knew where we needed to be each step of the way, and we boast in His goodness and faithfulness every day! Amen!

If you would like more information about any of our Classical Conversation programs, including Foundations, Essentials, Challenge A, Challenge B, and Challenge I , please email me at laurenchastain22@gmail.com and/or check out classicalconversations.com

When will you ever use algebra? 

As a math person, there is a question that I get asked incessantly.
And it’s this:

When will you ever use Algebra???
Ah, thank you Mr. Dewey!
If you are old like me, then when I say Dewey, you think of an antiquated card filing system from the library.
Different Dewey.
The one of whom I speak is the one that ruined education and is the reason you ask me this question. No one would have asked this question back when Benjamin Franklin was writing the constitution.
What is the point of learning something? Really? Ugh.
Typically I give them a brilliant, well thought out, perfectly configured explanation and then I get this response……
So I hesitate to even write this blog. But in the spirit of education…..I must.
So back to Dewey.
John Dewey single-handedly destroyed the idea that becoming an educated contributing member of society was enough of a reason to learn something. I am pretty sure he was the first person to ask, “Is this going to be on the test??” (major simplification, but seriously pretty close)
Fine. So you want to be all utilitarian on me? I’ll humor you.
Why study Algebra?
1. It pays! The top 15 (yes FIFTEEN) highest-earning college degrees all have one thing in common — math skills. That’s according to a 2009 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which tracks college graduates’ job offers.
Check out how math compares with those other majors!!
MAJOR-SALARY DIFFERENTIAL
Mathematics + 37.5%
Economics +33.5%
Chemistry +22.8%
Foreign Langs +5.1%
Poli. Sci. +4.9%
History +0.9%
Biology +0.8%
English +0%
Psychology -4.40%
And then there is this handy “job satisfaction” chart…..but who wants to be satisfied with their job? Clearly not surgeons (#156, yikes)
JOB SATISFACTION RANKING
Mathematician 1
Actuary 2
Statistician 3
Biologist 4
Software Engineer 5
Economist 11
Physicist 13
Computer Programmer 18
Aerospace Engineer 33
Nuclear Engineer 41
Chemist 57
Electrical Engineer 62
Federal Judge 69
Civil Engineer 71
Mechanical Engineer 74
Attorney 82
Stockbroker 84
Senior Corporate Executive 88
Dentist 101
Surgeon 156

 

Why are we learning this?” you ask. How about so you can provide for your family? How about so you have a better chance at actually liking your job? Good enough reasons? Great! Are there other ways to provide for your family? Obviously yes. But when do we decide that? Second grade? Ok, you will be a realtor. No algebra for you. No. Of course not. Why limit yourself? Put in the hard work. Study like you mean it. And leave your options open. There are countless jobs that will look at your math success and be pretty impressed. Why? Because succeeding in math means that either you are pretty smart or you work really hard, or somewhere in between. Employers seem to like those qualities. There, algebra helped you.
2. Your brain needs algebra. While I will concede that you may not use “algebra” (insert Chris Farley air quotes here) in the sense that you are taking out a piece of paper and solving for x, every day, you are (hopefully) at the very least using algebra skills to make logical connections and solve problems daily. And just like any muscle….that part of your brain needs to be worked out. Would you ask a trainer at a gym “When am I ever going to need to do 50 lunges in my life?” 
No, that’s ridiculous. Of course you won’t be doing those exact movements. The point isn’t to be able to do lunges, the point is to work that muscle and get in optimum shape so that you can further your fitness goals and operate at peak physical capacity.
3. To know God and make Him known! If you are a Christian, then this alone is a reason to study math. God invented it, uses it, reveals Himself through it and on and on! Discoveries in math are so divinely designed that people once worshiped the creature rather than the creator and started worshiping numbers. On the other hand, I remember the first time I heard Chuck Missler, (mathematician/pastor) speak, it was as if I had heard the Bible in a way I never imagined possible. The marriage of mathematics and theology is nothing short of miraculous and beautiful! If you run from math, you will be missing out on knowing a part of God you can only learn about through studying that realm of His design. He is a math God people. Face it. 😉 When you study anything that He created and designed you will learn more about His principles and character and literally just be in awe! Oh yes, when you see how beautiful a proof comes together, you can’t deny the power of God! GP are you with me?
I can hear you now….
“Oh, so you think you are smarter/better/more logical than I am because you are good at math?”
Actually. Yes. That is exactly what I think.
What I mean is I just may be smarter than you in math.
And some of you are smarter/better/more knowledgeable in art/history/science/ or music. 
The reality is that learning is good for you. It makes you better. Period. Learn about something. Turn off the T.V. And pick up a book. Any book. Enrich your mind. Learn algebra. You will be better for it. Learn history. Lord knows someone needs to! Find out why the Crusades started for instance!  Learn about science. Real science. Not fake “It’s a baby if you want it to be” flat earther science. 
But for heaven’s sake, don’t ask a physical trainer, “When will I ever do lunges in real life?”
 And don’t ask a math teacher, “When will you ever use Algebra in real life.”
Because when you ask “Why did I need to learn algebra?” I would say, “Why not?” And for that matter why is no one asking “Why did I need to learn kickball?” or “Why did I need to memorize elements on the periodic table?” How many adults are using either of those skills on a daily basis?
Let’s get to the real issue.
Algebra can require a lot of practice, hard work, and firm foundation with facts.
So the real question is, “Why do I have to work hard when I don’t want to?” And this is what so many seem to struggle with these days. Why do I have to sacrifice my needs when I don’t want to? Why do I have to be kind when I don’t want to? Why do I have to humble myself when I don’t want to? Life is full of opportunities to work hard and show diligence in a challenging situation.
How will you respond?
Algebra teaches you to follow laws and absolute truths, even if you don’t fully understand them. Learning Algebra increases your ability to think logically and solve problems. This is proven. (see what I did there? Proof? Oh math humor!)
When people say, “I never use Algebra” what they are saying is:
I never find missing information.”
I never work through a problem logically”
I never follow rules and directions to complete a task.”
I never apply known information to find an unknown answer.”
Those are all skills sharpened and taught in algebra. For some people these skills come more naturally than others, but regardless of whether they are learned or not you are still using principles of algebra.
I know what else you are going to say:
“I am logical and smart, and I stink at algebra.”
 Ok. Let’s say that is true. 
I could say, “I am fit and in shape and I never do lunges.” Well, first of all, the premise may be debatable. Second of all, regardless of how smart or in shape I am, when you don’t exercise (brain or body) you will be less than what you could be.
This is just like when people say, “I don’t follow God, but I am a kind and loving person.”
The reality is that you are following the principles God has established whether you acknowledge Him or not. Similarly, you are applying the principles found in Algebra whether you acknowledge it or not.
So for this momentous occasion, this once in a life time “Pi Day” (3/14/15) that we are all celebrating……it is my one wish that people all over the world would stop asking the question…..at least for one day 🙂