Homeschool Student Planners

One thing I implemented this year in our homeschool that has helped tremendously is the use of personal planners for each child. Originally, I had planned for only the older three to use the planners, but my Kindergartener has begged to get in on the system, as well. So he has a modified version, as well. I will absolutely continue this because it has worked so beautifully in helping my kids be more independent and responsible for their own schooling.  


I fill them out on a week by week basis. I look at my calendar and decide how heavy of a work week they are going to have. For example, my daughter does Meals on Wheels with The Pastor every other Monday. She has light work loads those days to accommodate her volunteer activities. They also volunteer once a month at a local Children’s Home, so those that are helping with that will be given a slightly lighter work load that day, as well. I find that looking at only a week at a time lets me set very reasonable expectations and they are able to achieve what is planned out for them. Planning further in advance always leads to me over planning and then they feel like they failed when they just can’t get it all done. I want them to succeed, so I make every opportunity for them to do so.


For each day of the week, I write a checklist in their planner. Several of the items are group activities, several are independent activities. I have to guide them a little more when introducing a new curriculum, but once they get the hang of something, they can really take over themselves. We do Bible, history, Science, and geography as a group. I actually have two groups running in my house right now. I have the older grammar school kids and the Kindergarteners. My Kindergarteners do Bible, Reading, and Phonics together. They have very little independent work, so I plan for that. 

I use the weekend spots to write in a weekly checklist. Now, I have been doing chores here, but if we had more computers and I didn’t have to schedule out their computer time so much, I would add much of their daily work into a weekly list. I don’t necessarily care when it is done, as long as they are doing the work. A weekly list would allow for more flexibility for them, but is really impossible with our current computer situation. (I have 4 kids sharing 1 computer.) Right now, I add their chores onto that list with the boxes for the number of times I expect them to do that chore. The chores rotate based on the week’s schedule and the season. They also rotate depending on the attitude of the kid or what they have been doing lately. (Boys that keep having “accidents” on the floor around the toilet get the chore of cleaning the bathroom floors and toilets.)


I have also been keeping their attendance in their own planners. I simply highlight the days on the monthly view that they had school. Yes, this means that I am keeping up with it in multiple places, but it has given them a sense of accomplishment and they can look and see when they had a heavy month and when they had a light month. Next year, I plan to get better planners to be able to expand this system. Right now, I just have the small, cheap, student planners from WalMart, and while they serve our purposes, they are small and there is more I think I could do with this system. (Keeping a log of books to read or books read, keeping a log of people they write letters to with addresses, habit tracking for them, etc.) A bullet journal might work well, but I think the planner format is easier for them to understand. I’m using a bullet journal style for my oldest Kindergartener right now. The simplicity is working for him, but I don’t have much to put in for him.

I’m really glad I decided to give this a try. I wasn’t too sure at first it would be something worth sticking to. Filling out 4 planners at the beginning of each week doesn’t sound like an easy task. But it really doesn’t take too much time. Just half an hour or so each Sunday looking at the week and plugging in their lists. And the time I save in their being independent is so much more. Emery (7) quickly saw how he could check off all his independent work before we even started school in the morning. He is routinely done with school before noon. Imogene (10) dawdles more and as a result, she is usually “doing school” until 4 or 5. She doesn’t complain about it, she can see what she needs to do. She just prefers a relaxed paced and is okay with it taking longer. And in the end, both of those approaches are fine. They are both learning and progressing and getting their work done. And they are happier having the freedom to do things their way in their time.

Godbold Academy Geography

We are homeschoolers, as I am sure you are aware. This is the little geography program I put together this year for my kids. I do this for pre-k through upper elementary. I think it would work well for any age, though. I plan to continue this program forever.

My goal in geography was for the kids to know generally where countries are and for them to have a broader worldview. It is hard to fathom the world that isn’t right outside your front door. I want my kids to have the knowledge of geography along with a heart for the people of the world.

map trek

I start the school year going over the 7 continents and 5 oceans. We review this every single year. The older kids know it, but it gives the younger kids a chance to learn it every year. I use the Map Trek CDs to print out maps for the kids to color and label. This book and CD set is a little on the pricey side, but I use this so much year after year. Buy it. Use it. It is great. You can print out as many maps as you need. Historical maps. World maps. It is awesome. We’ll have some contests and such to learn all the continents and oceans with the older ones helping the younger ones. We usually only spend a week or two on this review. It is just an annual refresher.

operation world

Operation World is the next piece of our geography curriculum. Each week, we choose a country and commit to praying for that country for the week. I use my Map Trek CD to print out maps. Each child keeps a master world map in their notebook where they label each country we study that year. The Operation World book lists the basic stats for each country. Things like land size, population, climate, etc. We talk about those things and compare them to what we have here. Would we have more neighbors? Less? Would it be warmer? Colder? Operation World also gives a brief summary of the economy and politics of each country. Then you have a break down of the religions of each country. You’ll also find a prayer list for each country, including things to thank God for that are answers to prayer there.

We might make some food from that country this week. Or we might try some art that is known for being associated with that country. Or we might only do the map and pray for the country. Sometimes I’ll find and print out the country’s flag for the kids to color. The details change week to week, but the bones of the program remain the same.

(1) Locate the country on a world map.

(2) Label your master world map.

(3) Write the country name on the prayer wall and commit to praying for that country this week.

(4) Read about the country. What language do they speak? How many people live there? What kind of work do these people do?  What challenges does this country face? How can we be praying for these people? Do we know any missionaries in this country?

The kids have really enjoyed this program and we’ve learned a lot about many countries. I chose countries where we knew missionaries first or we were learning about in history. I don’t think the order of countries is so important. Operation World is set up by continent, so you could go in that order and learn all the countries of one continent before moving to the next. I just choose randomly, though might go back and do the continent route at some point. As the kids get older, there is more discussion about things. What is the difference in a monarchy and a republic? What about a democracy? Why does it matter how many people are in poverty? How does history effect the current economic and political issues in a country? The little ones seem to focus on the climate and number of people. You can really delve deeper or keep it to 15 minutes reading the info in Operation World and locating the country on the World Map. It is really up to you and your child(ren).

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Explode The Code Online- A Review

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This is Emery. He is a spirited little guy. He is very persistent. He is extremely passionate. He is very driven. He is a self-started. He is also not a fan of being told what to do. He dislikes workbooks. He has some super awesome qualities, but because of his independent and quite exuberant personality, he can be a challenge to teach.

Last year, we tried the Explode the Code workbooks. They were not a great fit. Emery and I butted heads for a month or two at the beginning of the school year, and then I just decided we’d wait a year for Kindergarten. Then something awesome happened. Emery decided he’d be his own Kindergarten teacher. He taught himself all his letters and letter sounds. He taught himself to count and do basic math. By the end of the year, he was reading. All without my involvement. The kid is driven. So, this year, it was time for first grade, since he mastered Kindy all by himself. I knew I needed something different. Then I saw it- Explode the Code Online!

It covers reading and spelling all in one online program. You pay per year and they progress through at their own pace. Each lesson awards them a badge. They get bees when they don’t do so well, ladybugs when they need a little work, butterflies when they do well, and paper airplanes when they do excellent work. I can log into my parent portal and see how Emery is progressing. It tells me how much time each lesson took. It tells me what areas need improvement. He is absolutely thriving on this program. He can do it completely without me and he loves that. He is proud of his badges and is progressing through first grade quickly. He may start tackling second grade material soon!

Now, some kids, you could help them in areas they struggle. Not so with Emery. What I usually do is leave books with the tricky words for him on the top of the book piles and highly visible for him so when he runs to grab a book to read, he will hopefully grab the book that will help him with his lacking skill. (Like bl- combination words or whatever it is that week.) I really could not have asked for a better reading program for this kid.

They do say you can use it on your tablet, but I have not tried. Emery sits at the computer in our kitchen to do his reading work.

Back To School Planning

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We’re entering the fast paced beginning of the school year time. Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers, hybrid schoolers- whatever we are, we’re getting ready for the next year. The next year when we can make a difference in our kids’ lives. Will this be the year they find that thing that sparks them? Will this be the year they develop a love for reading, or writing, or math, or running marathons? The beginning of the school year always comes with such high expectations. And then wait, come April, we’ll just be hoping we didn’t mess them up too much this year.

I’m a homeschool mom. Our year here won’t start until September. In fact, we’re finishing up our last school year still. Testing has to be done this year. But the planning for next year is beginning. And I know I’ll overplan. I’ll want to do too much. There are just so many beautiful and awesome things in the world and I want to give all of them to my kids. I want them to be able to write all the wonderful thoughts that come into their heads. I want them to read ALL the books. I want them to see, love, and create art. I want them to see how the world works and watch it amaze them. I want them to hear the stories of our past as humankind and hear their take on things. I want them to learn languages to expand their horizons and not limit them to what is written or spoken in English only. I want to teach them to play ALL the instruments. I want them to understand mathematic concepts so they can create, understand, and develop the world around them. I want them to learn liturgy, theology, apologetics, and more about our Lord. And it is all so much.

But then I remember that I am still learning. They have their whole lives to explore this world. They have their whole lives to read. I’m still reading, writing, learning. I’m still creating, listening, exploring. And hopefully they will be too, when they are my age. I have to remember that I am teaching them how to do these things- how to learn, how to explore. And I’ll enjoy the wonder as they go along.

I’ll still overplan. I’ll try to be flexible. I’ll try not to be hard on myself come April when everything just didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. I’ll still want to show them the whole world all at once and tell them what a beautiful place it is- to look for light in the darkness or better yet, be the light in the darkness. The weight of the task will still be heavy. But I’ll try not to be overwhelmed. I’ll try to let the weight inspire me. I’ll slow down enough to enjoy this time in their lives when the wonder comes naturally.

40 Holy People: Week Seven

40 holy people

Day 35: Frances Ridley Havergal: All For Thee

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Frances was born in 1836 in England. She was the youngest of six children. Her father was a minister, so Frances grew up in the Church. Her mother died when she was 14 and she went to live and study at a boarding school.

Frances wrote poetry. Being a musician, she also put her poems to music. She prayed that God would guide and anoint her writing. And He did.

Frances told God that she would do anything He asked. She was always ready to share the story of Jesus with anyone she met, even if it meant stopping what she was doing to talk to them. She even gave all her jewelry to help fund missions work.

On her deathbed, Frances praised God to be meeting Him so soon. She tried to sing one last hymn to the Lord as she took her final breaths.

Watch this video and see if you recognize Frances’ most popular hymn.

Day 36: John Hyde: The Language of The Heart

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John Nelson Hyde was one of six children. His father was a minister in Carthage, Illinois. His father prayed that God would send laborers to the field (meaning people to go into the world and share Jesus). Three of the Hyde children were called into the ministry of God.

John heard God’s call on his life to go to the mission field. He talked about missions, prayed about missions, and encouraged other classmates to go to the mission field, as well. 26 of 46 of his graduating class ended up going to the mission field.

John felt God calling him to India. He served as a village missionary, traveling from village to village on foot or in a horse-drawn cart to share Jesus with the people. He spent much of that time living in a tent. He spent most of his time in India living in that tent.

john was very close to being deaf, so his sending group thought it might be best if he was not on the field. John agree to come home and turned in his resignation. The people in the villages heard that John was being pulled from the field and protested. Saying, “If he never speaks the language of our lips, he speaks the language of our hearts.”

For the first thirteen years he was in India, John saw very little results. He was robbed and threatened with violence by some. John continued to pray for India to know Christ and he continued to tell the people about Christ. He was known to pray for hours for the people he ministered to. His response to all difficulties and all problems was prayer. Though he saw little results for his prayers, He knew He would eventually see God’s harvest. He encouraged friends and family to pray for India. People all over the world starting praying with John that God would do something big in India.

In 1905, after more than a decade of work and prayer, John finally saw the answer to prayers he’d been looking for. Revival had broken out in India! (Revival is what we call it when many people turn to Jesus at once and the Holy Spirit moves people toward Christ.) For the next five years, John traveled all over India and people came to Jesus.

Two years later, John died. His dying words were, “Shout victory to Jesus!” (Only he said them in Punjab, a language used in India.)

Can you imagine God calling you to a foreign land and not even having a home to sleep in when you got there?

Could you pray for 12 years for something without seeing any answers to your prayer? Do you think that was difficult for John to do?

Coloring Page.

Day 37: William Taylor: Reaching The World

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William Taylor was born to Methodist Ministers in Virginia in 1821. He was the oldest of eleven children. He followed in his father’s steps and became a circuit preacher at the age of 21.

In 1849, William felt called to California. The Gold Rush was just beginning, and William felt God leading him to the opposite coast of his birth. He built a chapel once he arrived in California and then built a house to live in. He became the pastor to unchurched multitudes from sailors to miners, most living very sinful lives. He saw many of these people come to find salvation in Jesus. Those people, then took Jesus to those around them.

After ministering in California for about 10 years, William traveled across the country preaching to people in Philadelphia and then Indiana. Then, William went to Canada to preach the Gospel. In Canada, he heard that Australia was in need of Jesus. So, on William went to Australia. After three years of ministering in Australia, William went to South Africa. He traveled up the coast of Africa by ship, preached as they went along. In 7 months, he saw 8,000 people come to know Jesus as their Savior. From Africa, William traveled to England, preaching the Word of God to the people there. He then went to Barbados, then British Guiana, then Scotland, then to the West Indies. He preached in St. Kitts, St. Vincent, Nevis, Trinidad, Tobago, St. Thomas, and Jamaica. He then went back to Australia, then to Tasmania and Ceylon. In 1870, when he was almost 50, William went to India to preach about Jesus there and found churches. After starting revivals across India, William then went to South America, to take Jesus to the people there. At 63 years old, William went back to South Africa, which was the last place he took the word of God before his death. He set revivals ablaze in hearts on almost every continent of the world in his lifetime.

If one man could reach people in that many countries, how many people do you think could be reached by the whole Church?

Can you mark all the countries that William Taylor ministered in? (Map.)

Day 38: Peter: The Rock

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Peter was an interesting guy. He seemed to always be the first to jump out there. Sometimes, this was good for him. Other times, well, Peter must have gotten used to the rebuking. But even through his mistakes, Peter was still the guy Jesus chose to carry on the Church when He was gone.

Matthew 16:13-20 (CEB) says:

Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ.

Peter tells Jesus that he knows Jesus is the Son of God. Way to go, Peter! Jesus tells Peter he’s going to be the leader of the Church from there. And then what happens?

Matthew 16: 21-23 (CEB) says:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”

Whoa! We go from, “Dude, I’m choosing you to be the rock of my Church.” to “Get behind me Satan!” That is quite the turn around. And to Peter’s benefit, wouldn’t we all wish nothing but happiness and no pain for our friends? But that wasn’t what Jesus was trying to do. Being safe wouldn’t accomplish what the world needed. So while Peter wanted his friend and Lord to just be safe, Jesus knew the plan was different.

After this night, you have Peter putting his foot in his mouth again on the mountain with Jesus. Then you have the disciples being unable to cast the demons out of a little boy, and Jesus has to do the work for them, because they lacked faith. After this, Jesus has Peter go fishing to pay their taxes. Then we see Jesus teaching his disciples lessons about lost sheep, falling into sin, and forgiveness. And so on that last week goes until we get to the night Jesus is arrested.

In Matthew 26, Jesus tells Peter that he will betray Him three times. Of course, Peter says that won’t happen. Then he cuts off a guy’s ear who is trying to arrest Jesus, so you’re thinking, maybe Peter really won’t betray Jesus. But then we read Matthew 26: 69- 75 (CEB):

Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant woman came and said to him, “You were also with Jesus the Galilean.”

But he denied it in front of all of them, saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

When he went over to the gate, another woman saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.”

With a solemn pledge, he denied it again, saying, “I don’t know the man.”

A short time later those standing there came and said to Peter, “You must be one of them. The way you talk gives you away.”

Then he cursed and swore, “I don’t know the man!” At that very moment the rooster crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ words, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably.

And we see that Jesus was right. Peter denied him. We don’t see Peter again until after Jesus’s death, when he is at the tomb and walked in to find that Jesus’s body was gone. And then Peter is all in. No more denying. No more running. From the empty tomb until his own upside down crucifixion. From the empty tomb, Peter was bold for Christ. He became that rock that the Church was built on. He walked on water. Those moments of denial did not define the legacy of Peter. They could have if he had let them. But he didn’t. He knew Jesus. Jesus’s death was just as much for Peter as for anyone. And Peter worked for the Church Jesus loved to the end.

Do you ever feel like you’ve done something so bad that there is no hope of being good?

Do you want to confess those things to Jesus so He can forgive you and make you a holy person?

Coloring Page.

Day 39: Jesus: Our Salvation

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Luke 22:39-46 (CEB)

Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation.”

Luke 22:47-52 (CEB)

While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd appeared, and the one called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him.

Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Human One with a kiss?”

When those around him recognized what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we fight with our swords?” One of them struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear.

Jesus responded, “Stop! No more of this!” He touched the slave’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come to get him, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, as though I were a thief? Day after day I was with you in the temple, but you didn’t arrest me. But this is your time, when darkness rules.”

Luke 22:63-71 (CEB)

The men who were holding Jesus in custody taunted him while they beat him. They blindfolded him and asked him repeatedly, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” Insulting him, they said many other horrible things against him.

As morning came, the elders of the people, both chief priests and legal experts, came together, and Jesus was brought before their council.

They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us!”

He answered, “If I tell you, you won’t believe. And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. But from now on, the Human One will be seated on the right side of the power of God.”

They all said, “Are you God’s Son, then?”

He replied, “You say that I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need further testimony? We’ve heard it from his own lips.”

Luke 23:1-49 (CEB)

The whole assembly got up and led Jesus to Pilate and began to accuse him. They said, “We have found this man misleading our people, opposing the payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming that he is the Christ, a king.”

Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.”

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no legal basis for action against this man.”

But they objected strenuously, saying, “He agitates the people with his teaching throughout Judea—starting from Galilee all the way here.”

Hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was from Herod’s district, Pilate sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was very glad to see Jesus, for he had heard about Jesus and had wanted to see him for quite some time. He was hoping to see Jesus perform some sign. Herod questioned Jesus at length, but Jesus didn’t respond to him. The chief priests and the legal experts were there, fiercely accusing Jesus. Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt. Herod mocked him by dressing Jesus in elegant clothes and sent him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod became friends with each other that day. Before this, they had been enemies.

Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people. He said to them, “You brought this man before me as one who was misleading the people. I have questioned him in your presence and found nothing in this man’s conduct that provides a legal basis for the charges you have brought against him. Neither did Herod, because Herod returned him to us. He’s done nothing that deserves death. Therefore, I’ll have him whipped, then let him go.”

But with one voice they shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison because of a riot that had occurred in the city, and for murder.)

Pilate addressed them again because he wanted to release Jesus.

They kept shouting out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

For the third time, Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done? I’ve found no legal basis for the death penalty in his case. Therefore, I will have him whipped, then let him go.”

But they were adamant, shouting their demand that Jesus be crucified. Their voices won out. Pilate issued his decision to grant their request. He released the one they asked for, who had been thrown into prison because of a riot and murder. But he handed Jesus over to their will.

As they led Jesus away, they grabbed Simon, a man from Cyrene, who was coming in from the countryside. They put the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus. A huge crowd of people followed Jesus, including women, who were mourning and wailing for him. Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Rather, cry for yourselves and your children. The time will come when they will say, ‘Happy are those who are unable to become pregnant, the wombs that never gave birth, and the breasts that never nursed a child.’ Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ If they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” After he said this, he breathed for the last time.

When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.” All the crowds who had come together to see this event returned to their homes beating their chests after seeing what had happened. And everyone who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance observing these things.

Day 40: You: Your Life in Christ

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So who will you be? What will you do for God? Will you love your neighbor? Will you help the sick? Will you feed the hungry? Will your life point to the cross? Will people see you and want to know Jesus? All of these holy people made the choice to follow Jesus. (Even Jesus made the choice to do the will of the Father.) Every Saint did what they could one thing at a time. What will you do?

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40 Holy People: Week Six

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Day 29: Maggie Gobran: Being The Help Needed

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How many times do we see a problem or see a need and think, “Someone should really do something about that?” Maggie Gobran saw a need and instead of looking around to see who would do something, or praying that God would somehow intervene, did something herself. Mama Maggie, as she came to be known, grew up in the middle class in Cairo Egypt. She became a Coptic Christian. She was a marketing manager and computer science professor. In other words, she was living a middle class life and had no intentions of changing that. Then she visited the Cairo garbage slums (see picture below), where people lived among garbage heaps, many of them children and many of them Coptic Christians, just like Maggie.

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Maggie gave up her middle class life, her jobs, her security, to go help those people she saw in the slums. She started Stephen’s Children (http://www.stephenschildren.org/index.php) to help the children and young people in those slums, and now other impoverished areas of Egypt. The organization seeks to show the children love, build self esteem, and hold onto the hope found in Christ. Maggie now has 1500 workers and volunteers working with her and they’ve reached more than 30,000 children and their families.

Have you noticed a need in your community? How could you meet that need?

“You know, we don’t choose where to be born, but we do choose either to be sinners or saints. To be nobody, or the heroes. If you want to be a hero, do what God wants you to do.” – Mama Maggie

Map of Egypt to Color.

Coloring Page. (A Coptic Cross)

Day 30: Shane Claiborne: Making Peace

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Shane Claiborne grew up in Tennessee. Shane is the started of a New Monastic movement. We read about some ancient monks and monasteries. Shane is spreading the same concept, in a modern way. He has traveled all over the world promoting peace and helping the poor. He has worked in Calcutta, Chicago, Rwanda, West Bank, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He now lives in Philadelphia in a faith community that help the homeless.

“Only Jesus would be crazy enough to suggest that if you want to become the greatest, you should become the least. Only Jesus would declare God’s blessing on the poor rather than on the rich and would insist that it’s not enough to just love your friends. I just began to wonder if anybody still believed Jesus meant those things he said.”

Would you be willing to travel the world to help promote peace? What is peace?

What could you do to help the poor in your community?

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Day 31: Mary: The Annunciation of Our Lord

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Annunciation is a big word that means to announce. Today, if you’re on time, is the day known as The Annunciation of our Lord. Why? Well, a pregnancy lasts 38-42 weeks, so today would have been about the time the angel came to Mary to tell her Jesus would be born.

Luke 1:26-38 (CEB)

When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.”

Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

An angel comes to tell Mary that her entire life is about to change. At first, she is confused, but the angel tells her all things are possible with God. She doesn’t fight it, she doesn’t argue with the angel, she fully accepts the will of God for her life. She gladly accepts this life changing news.

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Day 32: John & Beth Muehleisen: Encouraging Others

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John and Beth grew up in America. They currently work on the mission field in Uganda. They have been missionaries for 28 years, raising their children on foreign soil to do the work of Jesus. The main focus of ministry for John is teaching, encouraging, and empowering the ministers God is raising up in Uganda. He is helping them plant more churches and strengthen their brothers and sisters.

The Muehleisen’s have spent their entire life answering God’s call on their life. That call took them far from home and far from their comfort zones. What will you do when God calls you?

John began using a puppet names Lazarus to minister to children in Africa early in his ministry. See a video of John and Lazarus here.

Day 33: William & Catherine Booth: Taking Jesus to The World

William and Catherine

William and Catherine Booth are the founders of something called The Salvation Army. William was a Methodist minister in England in the mid 1800s. The Salvation Army was created as a group of Christians taking the call of God’s salvation out to the world, relieving poverty, and other charitable causes. Not only does the Salvation Army take the word of God to people, they actually help them. The Salvation Army is now in 126 countries.

“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight. While little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight. While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight. While there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight. I’ll fight to the very end!”- William Booth

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Day 34: James Hudson Taylor: Setting Self Aside

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As a young man, Taylor rebelled against the faith of his parents, who were Christians. But at the age of 17, his eyes were opened, and he accepted Jesus as his Savior. Shortly after, he felt God calling him to China.

James Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant missionary to China. He spent 51 years of his life living in China. He began China Inland Mission (now OFM International). The organization brought over 800 missionaries to China, began 125 schools, and led to 18,000 people deciding to follow Jesus.

While ministering in China, Taylor dressed and groomed himself like the Chinese. He realized his appearance was causing many of the Chinese people not to listen to what he had to say, so he dressed like them so they would hear his words.

His life and stories of his life inspired many people to pursue missions work full time, including Amy Carmichael and Jim Elliot, who we read about earlier in Lent.

Map of China to Color.

40 Holy People: Week Five

40 holy people

Day 23: John: Sharing The Story of Jesus

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John was a disciple of Jesus. We read in Matthew 4 of Jesus calling John and his brother James to follow him while they were repairing fishing nets with their father.  He wrote several New Testament books (John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation). He referred to himself as the Beloved Disciple, the one Jesus loved. He and his brother James are often called the “Sons of Thunder”. (If you and your siblings had a nickname, what would it be?)

John followed Jesus. He learned directly from Jesus. He saw the miracles Jesus performed. He even went out and performed miracles himself in Jesus’s name. John knew that just learning the good news for himself, seeing the miracles with his own eyes, that wasn’t enough. He had to share Jesus with others. He had to tell other what he saw and heard. So he shared. He wrote what he saw, what he heard, and you can read that today. After Jesus’s death, he traveled around, telling people about Jesus. It wasn’t enough that he knew the One True God- he had to tell others!

In Matthew 18:19-20a, Jesus says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you.” And that is just what John did. You know about the life of Jesus today thanks to those first disciple writing down what they saw and heard. You know the good news because John did what Jesus commanded and shared it. Now it is your job to go out and do the same. Who will come to know the Good News because of you? Who will be introduced to Jesus through your life and your words?

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Where in the world are you going to tell people about Jesus?

Day 24: Saint Patrick: Slave to Missionary

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If you’re doing these on time, today is Saint Patrick’s Day! Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t about luck, green eggs and ham, leprechauns, or green clothes. So why do we have a day to celebrate this man called Saint Patrick?

Born in England, Patrick (whose name wasn’t Patrick in those days) was brought up in church. He came from a Christian family that taught him about God. When he was still just a boy, he was captured and taken to Ireland to a life of slavery. During his slavery, he grew close to God through prayer as he worked as a shepherd. After six year in slavery, he heard a voice telling him it was soon time to go home. The voice came again and told him his ship was ready. Patrick ran to the sea, 200 miles away, where he found a ship with a captain willing to take him home.

Once back in Britain, Patrick studied Christianity. He had a vision about the Irish people asking him to return. So Patrick went to Ireland as a Missionary. Patrick shared God with the people of Ireland. As a result of his ministry, Ireland came to know God. (They previously knew nothing of Christianity.)

So, why the green? And why the shamrock? Well, Ireland is a very green country. (See the picture below.) So, on St. Patrick’s Day, we wear green, the color of Ireland. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Druids about God. Remember learning about the Trinity in earlier weeks? Patrick used the shamrock as an example to teach people the Triune Nature of God. God is 3 persons, 1 God. Just as a shamrock has 3 leaves, but is one shamrock.

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Patrick is recognized as a Saint by many Christian traditions.

Do you think it was easy for Patrick to go back to where he had been a slave?

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Day 25: Cyril of Jerusalem: Feeding the Hungry

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Cyril was a theologian in the early Church. (around 313-386 AD) (Theology is the study of or how we think of God.) In 351, Cyril saw a cross of light in the sky over Golgotha. (Golgotha was the hill where Jesus was crucified.) The entire city of Jerusalem saw the cross in the sky.

When the city of Jerusalem went through a food shortage, Cyril started secretly selling some of the items from the church to pay for food to keep the people from starving. This wasn’t allowed. But Cyril did it anyway, choosing to break the rules rather than see his people suffer. He was charged and lost his job in the church because of this, but was later reinstated. Though he was exiled twice by Emperors.

Cyril also wrote many things about the nature of God and of forgiveness. “The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden for God is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as the Spirit approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen and to console.”

Are there hungry people where you live? What could you do to help feed them?

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cross in the sky

Day 26: Joseph: Doing The Difficult Thing

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Matthew 1:18-24 introduces us to Joseph.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:

Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,

And they will call him, Emmanuel.

(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

 When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary

as his wife.

This was definitely not the easiest path for Joseph to choose. He knew people would talk about he and Mary. He knew people wouldn’t understand what had happened. (After all, even he didn’t really believe it until an angel came and told him it was true!) But he chose to marry Mary and become Jesus’s earthly father. Joseph was the man who taught Jesus the things he needed to know to be a man. Joseph taught Jesus scriptures and how to work with wood. Joseph cared for Jesus and protected him, as a father should. He didn’t have to, but he chose to.

Sometimes the things God asks us to do are not easy. Sometimes they make people think we’re weird, strange, or just unlikable. But God calls us to do it anyway. Joseph listened to God through the angel in his dream and ended up a part of the greatest story ever told. What will happen when you listen to God?

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Day 27: Francis of Assissi: Caring for God’s Creation

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If you are doing these on time, then today is the first day of Spring! It is only appropriate that we talk about Francis of Assissi on such a day.

Francis of Assissi was born in 1181. He was the son of a wealthy merchant, and spent much of his youth living a very materialistic (putting importance on having things, buying things, and spending money) life. He did not think of others and lived only for himself and his own fun.

In 1204, Francis went off to war as a soldier for Assissi. He had a vision there, and lost his desire for worldly things. When he returned home, he gave up his wealth and treasures, began preaching in the streets, and developed a following. He founded an order of monks, who lived with no worldly pleasures. He cared for the poor, but also for animals and the world God had created. He saw the animals and plants as something good that God had created, and that we should take care of because it is from God. He often preached to animals.

When Francis died, it is said that birds came to be with him on his deathbed. Francis lived a simple life, but found that in the end, he was not alone. Many Christian traditions recognize Francis of Assissi as a Saint.

Activity: It is the first day of Spring! God for a walk in nature and look at the things God created. You can also plant some seeds in honor of St. Francis today.

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Day 28: Elijah: Miracles, Even to The End

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Elijah was a prophet during the 9th century BC. Elijah lived a life of miracles. God gave him messages for the people, which he delivered. During famine and drought, God fed Elijah by having ravens bring him food. (1 Kings 17.) Elijah raised a boy from the dead. (1 Kings 17.) Elijah challenged the followers of a false God and showed the nation that there was One True God. (1 Kings 18.) God fed him yet again in the wilderness. (1 Kings 19.) Elijah heard the still, small voice of God in the wilderness. (1 Kings 19.) Elijah pointed out the wickedness people tried to hide. (1 Kings 21.) He called down fire from heaven. (2 Kings 1.) When it came time for Elijah to die, well, he didn’t. A fiery chariot with horses came and took Elijah to heaven in a windstorm. (1 Kings 2.)

So, what made Elijah so special? Why was he at the center of all these stories? The truth is, that Elijah wasn’t at the center of the stories. Elijah wasn’t the main character in his own life. God was. Elijah did what God said and went where God told him to go. God was at the center, and that is what made Elijah’s life such a whirlwind.

Who is at the center of your story?

When God tells you to go, will you go?

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