Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Prayer & Taking a Break

I am going to be taking a little break from the blog for about a week or so to take care of some other things. Don't worry, I will be back sometime next week with lots of new things to share!

Before my break, I do want to leave you with a quick thought from my Bible study yesterday.



After the disciples had showed great amazement at how quickly a fig tree withered after Jesus cursed it:

Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

(Matthew 21:21-22)

I am very thankful for how the Lord answered a prayer for our family this past week. He provided for us in an unexpected way. The Lord always answers prayers right on time! Sometimes He moves in mysterious ways, but His ways and His blessings are so good!

Let us believe God's precious promises and be bold in our faith and in prayer! Remember: Even the smallest faith in God can move biggest mountains!

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Tiny Bear's Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones



This little Bible story book recommended for ages 6 & under is 100% HUGGABLE! The cover features the cute face of Tiny Bear, and it is SO amazingly soft!

The book has sturdy board pages, so it can be safely enjoyed by the littlest "readers." My 11 month old son absolutely loves to pet Tiny Bear on the front, turn the pages, and look at the beautifully illustrated pictures.

The 11 Bible stories included in this book all point to God's special love and care for His children. The stories are written in rhyme, and they are just long enough for little attention spans.

I love how the author and illustrator use the character of Tiny Bear to gently help little children relate to the Bible stories and apply the lessons to their daily lives. In the story titled "Jesus Stops a Scary Storm" (from Mark 4), one of the illustrations shows Tiny Bear with his Dad hugging him on his bed during a storm in the night. The last lines of text for the story say, The storm was big, but God was there. Just like He's with us, Tiny Bear. So sweet!

This book would be perfect for bedtime. Read your child a story of God's love and care, then let him or her snuggle with Tiny Bear as they doze off to sleep!

I also plan to make this a take-along-to-church book. Let Tiny Bear turn little one's thoughts toward the Lord while keeping them quietly content during worship time!

If you have a baby or preschooler (or if you're looking for a great baby shower gift), I highly recommend Tiny Bear's Bible!

I recieved a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Click here to purchase Tiny Bear's Bible from Amazon!


Click here to purchase Tiny Bear's Bible from CBD!


Click here to purchase Tiny Bear's Bible from Faith Gateway!

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Jesus and the Children



Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.


(Matthew 19:13-15)

As I read this account during my Bible study this morning, I thought of Jesus' example to us in His attitude toward children.

His disciples thought of the children as unimportant. They veiwed them as a nuisance and a hinderance. They rebuked the parents for bringing the children to Jesus. Surely their Master was much too busy and imoportant to be bothered with mere children!

Have you ever known someone who viewed children this way? Perhaps we ourselves have been like the disciples at times, too busy and caught up in our own grown up lives to care about a child's needs or join in their activities.

But Jesus was not too busy for the children at all. He did not just tolerate them, He wanted them to come! He wanted to have them near Him where they too could hear His teaching. He did not belittle the children or make light of them in any way. He cared about their needs enough that He prayed for them. He showed His tender love for them by physically placing His hands on them. He took time to aknowledge the children and to hail them as shining examples of the kingdom of God.

I want to have the same attitude of love and care toward children that Jesus displayed in this passage. Instead of being annoyed at a child's silliness or their mistakes, I should enjoy the sweetness of their innocence and take time to show them genuine care and understanding.

If I am too busy to enjoy a silly game, too caught up in my own problems to kiss a hurt elbow, or too self-absorbed to answer curious questions, then I am not following the Lord's example.

To be loved by a child is absolutely one of the most amazing blessings a person can ever experience in this life. May we take time to learn from these little ones and never take our precious children for granted!

What is your attitude toward children? Do you genuinely love them like Jesus? Or are you more of a "Scrooge" like the disciples?


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Does My Child Need Music Lessons?

Does my child need music lessons? What if he or she is not talented? What instrument should they learn? What age should lessons start? All these are questions parents may ask when it comes to music lessons for their child.



Music is a gift from God. As I type this post, my 10 month old is deriving great joy from making twinkly sounds on the old upright piano that sits in our living room. Everyone, regardless of age or talent, can enjoy the gift of music in one capacity or another. For some, this might just be listening to other people sing or play songs and finding simple joy in this. Others might be able to attain a certain level of skill in singing or playing an instrument. Some might develop a special God-given talent to compose or to play in a way that is outstanding. But everyone can learn about music and enjoy it in some form or another.

Before I had Little Brother, I owned my own business teaching music lessons for about 8 years. I taught private piano, guitar, & bass lessons as well as toddler, preschool, & elementary general music classes. In that time I helped hundreds of students from 6 months old to 70 years old discover the joy of music.

Music contains predictable patterns that point to our orderly Creator. Music can both produce and convey a whole range of emotions, pointing us to the very heart of God. Music, songs, lyrics, and rhythms have great influential power over our moods, our thoughts, and our attitudes. Thus it must be used wisely!

So to answer the questions posed at the beginning of this post, children need good musical exposure whether they have any “special” musical talent or not. Introduce them to the sounds of a variety of instruments. Even babies can enjoy bells, hand drums, egg shakers, and such!

Listen to good quality uplifting Gospel music and hymns. Sing with your children…a lot! Southern Gospel quartet-style music and Bluegrass Gospel are the favorites at our house! (I know this sounds old fashioned, but we do NOT listen to anything normally classed as “worldly” such as rock, rap, pop, country, etc. And we also do not listen to what is usually called “contemporary” Christian music. I will tackle these sticky issues in another post, so be watching for that!)

Usually if you are going to start formal music lessons, those should ideally start around the same time the child is learning to read; but I have had elderly grandmothers come to me for beginner piano lessons, so it is never to late to start! There are also things like color-coded piano music and handbells available that can be played by preschoolers who are not reading yet but can distinguish their colors. Big Brother enjoyed these at is now doing great with piano and recorder lessons. From my experience, the best instrument to begin with is piano. Recorder is also a good first instrument choice as they are inexpensive and small. Stringed instruments are better left until the age of 10 or until there is sufficient strength in the fingers to press down the strings tightly. I passed down my mandolin to Big Brother last year for his 6th birthday, and while he knows the basic chords, he just doesn’t have the proper amount of finger strength just yet.

I personally believe every child will benefit from some type of music lessons. Private teachers can get expensive, but there are other options out there!

I am so excited to announce that I am in the process right now of developing my own music courses, starting with a very unique Christian piano course for beginners! This is something I have always dreamed of creating, and I just desire your prayers now as I am working on it. Lord willing, this course will be complete with detailed lessons, worksheets, and videos that will get students started toward their dream of playing piano for the glory of God!

My course will be ideal for Middle and High School age students to work through independently. Younger students will also enjoy this course perhaps moving more slowly and with a little adult guidance. It would also make a really fun co-op class! I already have several lessons finished, and I will be working on more lessons along with the videos over the coming months. My goal is to have the piano course ready to market by the end of the summer! Make sure you Subscribe to Shield of Faith Homeschool by Email so you will get all my posts and updates!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3 Must-Read Books for Parents Considering Homeschooling

The decision to homeschool is often made after much careful thought, consideration, and prayer. For some, like me, the decision is an easy and natural one. I was homeschooled and was used to this lifestyle. I understood and embraced the convictions that caused my parents to make the choice to homeschool nearly 20 years ago, and anything else would just not be right for us. But for many others, homeschooling may seem daunting, mysterious, and totally out of their "comfort zone".



If you are a Christian parent who is struggling with decisions regarding your child's education, here are 3 books that you must read!

1.) Homeschooling: The Right Choice by Christopher J. Klicka This book is a classic. Many a family has made the plunge and decided to homeschool after reading this book. The author, who passed away a few years ago, was an HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) attorney and committed homeschool dad. This book gives the background of education in America a serious look and presents solid reasons why homeschooling is the right choice!

2.) Warning! Public Schools Aren't for Christians: A Biblical Perspective by Richard "Little Bear" Wheeler The title of this book may offend some people, but then so does the very name of Jesus. In this book, the author presents sound Biblical wisdom that Christian parents of today desperately need to hear! If you are teetering on the fence because you want your children to go to public school so they can "witness to others," you MUST read this book!!!

3.) The Well Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole I happened to come across this book a year or so ago, and I highly recommend it! Finally there is a book that tackles the "What About Socialization?" question head on and refutes the skeptics once and for all! This book shows that not only do homeschoolers get plenty socialization, but they are better socialized than their public schooled counterparts! Afraid homeschooling your children will somehow isolate them or make them "weird"? Read this book and think again!!

If you are a homeschooler, what books would you recommend to someone considering home education? What caused you to make the choice to homeschool?

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

10 FUN Report Alternatives for Reluctant Writers!



Let me start this post off by saying that I am a writer. I love the whole writing process. I have never been a very outgoing or talkative person, but give me a blank sheet of paper or a word processor and I can fill page after page with my thoughts while enjoying every minute of it! I always did just fine learning with traditional workbooks, essay questions, book reports, and research papers.

BUT I have discovered that writing does not come so easy for everyone. Boys especially seem to have a more difficult time getting their thoughts put into words on paper. They have better things to do!

I have a brother 8 years younger than me who did not like writing! He is a hyper, creative, imaginative, talented, extremely smart young man; but writing reports or even filling in blanks in workbooks just was never his "thing." He would NOT have thrived in the public school system at all! But homeschooling allowed him to explore his interests in his own special way, and he is now a successful adult soon to graduate from college!

God, in His infinite wisdom, has blessed me with at least one son (Big Brother) who is so much like his uncle it is SCARY!

So in trying to find ways to make learning more meaningful and engaging for Big Brother, I have compiled a list of 10 Fun Report Alternatives for Reluctant Writers! Many of these were things my own brother used to do when we were growing up as homeschoolers.

These can be adapted and used for all ages and grade levels!

1. Give an Oral Report or Speech

Is your reluctant writer a big talker? Let them speak! Instead having them struggle to write their book reports, field trip reports, or research reports down on paper, give them the opportunity to present their report orally.

This can be as simple or as elaborate as you and your student wish! Sometimes I will just ask Big Brother to tell me what he's learned about a topic, and he will just sit beside me and tell me what he knows in a very casual, conversational manner. This is a very simple way for me to evaluate his comprehension.

My own brother would actually set up something like a pretend press conference where he would put on his church clothes, set up a podium and microphone in our living room, and give a speech on a topic for all the family to hear. After his speeches he would answer questions from the "audience." Other times we would have mock debates with one another. This made for some fun family memories while giving him a way to show what he knew without having to be bogged down with the work of writing.

2. Put on a Play

I cannot tell you how many times Daniel Boone (my brother) rescued his daughter (me) from the Indians who kidnapped her and her friends in our living room growing up! All children learn through play, so why not make the most of it?!

Let them have fun acting out what they have learned for you! This can be complete with costumes, props, backdrops, songs, sound effects, etc. Puppets are fun to make and do shows with, too!

3. Make a Video

We videoed many of my brother's speeches and plays so there would be record of them. He has also always had a passion for making his own movies. He filmed everything from battles to moon landings growing up, just depending on what he was reading about or interested in at any given time.

Give your reluctant writer access to a video camera and let them create a movie, documentary, or commercial about their book or research topic. Then pop some popcorn and enjoy the results!

4. Record an Audio Drama or Radio Show

My brother had his own FM radio transmittor he had built in his bedroom. His station broadcast around the block. He also had a tape recorder and was kept supplied with blank cassette tapes (this was in the 90's...he records digitally now!).

Your student who would not write you a paragraph to read may just surprise you with what they can record for you to listen to! They can tell stories from history, create a radio drama of their favorite book, or host a talk show and discuss current events. Allow them time to go all out with theme music, sound effects, and fun voices.

5. LEGO!

Once again we find an educational use for everybody's favorite building toys! Big Brother has built the Alamo numerous times with LEGO bricks then acted out the famous battle with his mini-figures! This fun playtime letsme know he is learning from things we read, hear, and see.

After a reading or other learning assignment, challenge your student to recreate some aspect of the lesson using LEGO! (I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to LEGO Learning. You will want to be sure to follow!

6. Create a Diorama or Model

This can be as simple as using a shoe box and some toy soldiers or getting models from a hobby store. Encourage your student to create a scene from a book, replicate a historical event, or build a model of something they have studied for science. Lincoln logs can build a cabin or fort. Popcicle sticks can build boats or people. Encourage their imagination and creativity!

7. Art

Does your student like to draw, color, paint, sculpt, sew, etc.? Have them illustrate something they have learned about instead of asking for a written paper!

8. Create a Powerpoint Presentation

This can be really fun, especially if your student is into technology! In several college classes I have taken, I was required to make Powerpoint presentations on various topics I was studying. So this would be an especially good assignment idea for high schoolers!

9. Character Dress Up

Allow your student to "become" a character from a book or historical figure for a while! Let them dress up, use props, play, and perhaps give a presentation. This is so fun! Big Brother has put pots on his head to be Johnny Appleseed, dressed in red and worn a badge to pretend he was a Canadian Mounty, put on gray pants and shirt to be a Confederate soldier, and dawned his coonskin cap to lead the pioneers through the Cumberland Gap as Daniel Boone! Be sure to take pictures and videos of these special "homeschool moments!"

10. Create a display

Three-panel display boards are available at Walmart or any hobby store. We used to create displays with these every year to show things we had learned, trips we had taken, etc. and displayed them at our homeschool group's end of year program. Big Brother is going to be starting on his end of year display soon. These are also often used for science and history fair projects. Give one of these boards to your child and ask them to display things they have learned with pictures, writing, art, stickers, etc. Then take pride together in all they have learned!!

Many of these activities are even fun and beneficial for students who actually do like to write, and they could be completed in addition to a writing or workbook assignment if you like.

Have you found this post inspiring? What fun things do your students do to let you know that they are learning?

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

New Prices! Homeschool Lesson Planner!



Check out these new prices on my unique, simple homeschool lesson planning and record keeping system! Ready for the 2015-2016 homeschool year!!

Downloadable .pdf files -

Click here to download my Weekly Lesson Plan sheet for $0.50!

Click here to download 12 monthly calendars dated August 2015 through July 2016 for $0.25!

Click here to download my Attendance Record sheet for $0.10!

Click here to download my Blue Student Assignment Sheet for $0.10!

Click here to download my Pink Student Assignment Sheet for $0.10!

Click here to download my Homeschool Mom's Checklist for FREE!!

Click here to see a description of these pages! You will notice they have been greatly discounted here!!

Printed 2015-2016 Homeschool Binder also available!!

If you would like to order printed copies already hole-punched and placed in a nice 3-ring binder, I would be glad to do that for you! Just email me at shieldoffaithhomeschool@gmail.com. I will send you a PayPal invoice when your homeschool binder is ready!

Basic Binder - $15

Includes:

- 1" 3-Ring Binder (assorted colors)
- 12 Monthly Calendars
- 36 Weekly Lesson Plan pages
- 1 Attendance Record Master Copy
- 1 Blue Student Assignment Sheet Master Copy
- 1 Pink Student Assignment Sheet Master Copy
- 1 Homeschool Mom's Checklist
- Price includes shipping!

The Basic Binder gives you enough lesson planning pages to plan lessons, log attendance, and record grades for one student for the whole school year. You are welcome to copy as many pages as you need for your family.

Add 36 more Weekly Lesson Plan Pages and another Attendance Log to your binder for just $3 more!

Need to plan for more than 2 children?? Contact me at shieldoffaithhomeschool@gmail.com to discuss your needs and pricing!

Student Assignment Binders $12 each

Includes:

-1 3-Ring Binder (assorted colors)
- 90 pages (180 days worth) your choice of Pink or Blue Student Assignment Sheets
- Price includes shipping!

Now is the time to start getting ready for the 2015-2016 homeschool year!

These are the lesson planning and record keeping pages I personally use in my own homeschool. I pray you will also find them useful!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Motivate Your Child by Scott Turansky & Joann Miller



I was drawn to this book because of its tagline: "A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told."

Motivate Your Child is absolutely full of inspiring, practical, and Biblical parenting advice. The authors encourge a heart-based parenting approach as opposed to simple behavior modification that relies on external rewards and punishments.

Before reading this book, I had never realized just how important it is to train a child's conscience. It is very needful that a child learn to be internally motivated to do what is right rather than having to rely on external reminders. Children can learn to go beyond thinking only of themselves to thinking about others and about God. This requires a much deeper, more involved kind of parenting than many parents are giving their children.

There are many real life stories and examples shared by the book authors to help readers see how the principles taught in the book work in application. I LOVE the way the authors encourage parenting with Scripture, passing on faith, developing strong family, relationships, and making spiritual training a #1 priority in our homes.

I was challenged by Motivating Your Child to view my home as a discipleship center and my role as a parent as a ministry.

You will want to take your time reading this book as there is a LOT of information presented! I will definitely be reading this one again slowly as I work on ways to implement these heart-based parenting strategies in our home.

You can get a copy of Motivate Your Child here!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.__

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fun Ideas for Learning the 50 States!

Big Brother is enjoying learning all about the 50 states this year! Here are some fun ideas for learning about the 50 states:



1.) The Fifty States That Rhyme song - This song is a fun way to learn the names of all the states in alphabetical order to the familiar tune of "Turkey in the Straw!" We sing this everyday to start off Geography time in our homeschool, and it is a great way to review the states we have covered so far. We are studying the states in ABC order. Some people I know teach them in more of a geographical order or in the order they were admitted to the Union. This is totally up to you. But the song is fun no matter what order you are teaching! Beware: This song will become permanently stuck in your (and your children's) brain(s)!

2.) Puzzles - We have several good U.S. map puzzles that Big Brother enjoys putting together over and over. This is a great way to learn where all the states are located and discuss direction words like North, South, East, and West.

3.) U.S. Map on the Wall - We have a small U.S. map hanging on the wall for quick, easy reference anytime throughout the day. Anytime we get mail from, read about, or hear about a different state, Big Brother likes to go to the map and find it. Just having it there on the wall all the time makes learning about the states more natural. We also use the map to review during Geography time each day.

4.) U.S. Flash Cards - The set we use has the all kinds of information about each state. Big Brother is learning to recognize the states by shape, location, and by their flags. I also drill him on their capitals and important facts. Numerous games could also be played with a good set of state flashcards.

5.) Blank U.S. Map - On a blank map, have your child color or label your state, states they have visited, states where family membera live, and/or states they are studying about. I will often pull out a blank map and just quiz Big Brother orally on the names and lovations of states we have learned so far.

6.) Create a States Notebook - We may do this another year . My brother made one when he was younger and learned alot. My mom requested travel brochures from every state for him to cut out pictures from to glue into his notebook. It turned out really nice!
I have a friend who is currently having the children at her house create a states notebook using resources from Enchanted Learning. Their notebooks look really neat! They are coloring states, putting star stickers on the capitals, and filling in fun facts about each state.

7.) Play the License Plate Game - We have always done this on trips! Bring a list of the 50 states and/or blank U.S. map with you. When you spot a license plate from a state, mark it down! You could do it together as a family to see how many states you can mark off during the trip, make it a competition, or turn it into a Bingo type of game! Then of course when you get home or using a travel atlas in the car, look up each state and learn more about each one!

8.) Follow my Geography board on Pinterest! - I am constantly on the lookout for new and fun ways to teach Geography, so follow me on Pinterest for more great ideas!!

Do you have a great idea, activity, or resource you love for learning about the 50 states? I would LOVE to hear about them!! Leave a comment below!!!

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Monday, March 16, 2015

I Will Give You Rest

Do you ever feel like you just have way too many irons in the fire? Do you ever get worn down from all the things you have to keep up with and take care of day in and day out? Do you ever find yourself feeling anxious, restless, or just plain tired?

I can answer yes to all of the above, and I have no doubt many of you can, too!



As a wife, full time mom (as if there was another kind of mom?), homeschool teacher, and blogger extroidinaire (just kidding!), I come to the point often where I feel like I am spent...like I just have nothing at all left to give. I have days when I do not feel well, I have days when I have been up with the baby all night and just want to sleep, I have days when those lovely little things called "hormones" just get the best of me and every little thing brings me to tears! I have days where nothing works right, days where I forget things and just really do not have it all together. Some days I feel creative, energetic, and capable; and some days...not even close!

I have several things on my plate right now including homeschooling an easily distracted 2nd grader, doing endless housework, nursing and chasing a very mobile 10 month old, planning both boys' birthday parties, keeping up with my online Bible study group, dealing with my husband working lots of overtime, planning our homeschool group field trips and activities, teaching a co-op class, reading several books I have to review, and maintaining this blog! I know many of you probably do a lot more, and you also have more children than I do!! (And you are probably even more tired than I am, too...wow!)

We all see moms out there with their Pinterest perfect homes and their seemingly endless creativity and energy. Sometimes I wonder if these moms ever have days like some of mine!

I said all of that to say I think the Lord probably had people like me (and you!) in mind when He said in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


Rest...such a beautiful word that is to me! Jesus wants us to come to Him and learn how to bare our burdens with meekness and to learn how to find rest in Him.

Sometimes in all the busyness, the daily grind, the endless "to-do's," it really helps to slow down, step back, and just simply rest in the Lord! We need regular physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual rest in order to continue on in the tasks the Lord has called us to do.

Taking time out each day to read some Scripture (just a few verses or a chapter read slowly and meditated upon can bring often more strength than rushing through several chapters at a time just to mark it off your list!).

Naps are not just for babies! Mommy's sometimes work better after a nice quiet afternoon naptime, too! When Mommy is rested and happy, everyone benefits! Even when a full nap is not possible, at least take little opportunities throughout the day to just sit or lie down and rest. Breastfeeding has really been a blessing to me in this way as it really forces you to take time out to relax several times throughout the day.

Try to make some alone time for just you and your husband. Often just spending just a few precious moments with the man I love really brings back my smile, my joy, and my energy!

Spend as much time as you can in prayer daily casting all your cares on the One who cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7) There is great rest, peace, strength, and power to be found in just a simple whispered prayer from a weary heart! This is where we can really learn from the Lord and receive His blessing of rest.

So with the Lord's help, we can carry on doing what He has called us to do with joy. We can look at those not-so-good days as opportunities to draw closer to Him and learn of Him more. I am so thankful for the rest the Lord promises to His people!

Are you busy? Maybe too busy? How do you find ways to take time out to rest? What are the consequences when you don't?



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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Christian Persecution is a Reality!

When I was young, my family and I actively supported the ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that raises awareness about and lends aid to persecuted Christians around the world. I used to have a VOM T-shirt that read "It didn't end at the Roman Collaseum: Christians Still Die!" I memorized Hebrews 13:3 which commands us to "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."



We are so amazingly blessed in the United States to be able to meet freely with other believers to worship, to be able to choose to attend the church of our choosing, to be able to own and read the Bible in our native language, and all without fear. Yes there are issues in our time in the USA that are oppressive (those who want no prayer in Jesus' name at public gatherings, threats to criminalize preaching against certain sinful lifestyles, etc.), all these are quite mild compared to what countless Christian believers have had to face down through time and are yet still facing in many other lands today.

For many the decision to follow Christ comes with a signed death warrant. Meeting together with other believers is rare and must be done with the most strategic secrecy. Baptism is very risky and must often take place at night. If a copy of the Bible is to be had at all, it is kept carefully hidden and guarded with a believer's very life. It may sound like something from a fictional story or an action movie, but persecution is reality for many of our brothers and sisters. And we are not ever promised exemption. If trends continue as they have in this country for the past few decades, this could be reality for our children and grandchildren some day, should the Lord tarry.

In Matthew 10, Jesus warned His disciples as He was sending them out to ministry that just as He would be misunderstood and mistreated, so would they.

He warns them of the possibility of arrest, scourgings, ridicule, and death all for being one of His followers. He does not promise a life of ease and peace for believers. In Matthew 10:34 He says, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I am not come to send peace, but a sword."

He warns that there will be many who will not accept the disciples and their preaching because they do not accept Jesus either.

In v. 28, He tells His disciples, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

But He does promise in v. 31 that He cares deeply for us, and in v. 39 "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Many brave Christian believers down through time have bravely believed these promises, courageously followed Christ regardless of the cost, and faced persecution with amazing boldness and unshakeable faith.

May we look for ways to stand with our persecuted family around the world. Let's follow their examples of bravery and faith, lift them up in prayer, and come to their aid whenever possible.



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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Learning with LEGO: Helpful Resources for Using LEGO in Your Homeschool!



As you probably know by now if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, my 2nd grader is a huge LEGO lover! So I am always on the look out for ways to incorporate the use of LEGO into our homeschool activities.

I am also currently teaching a “Learning with LEGO” co-op class for our local homeschool group! I am typing up my detailed LEGO class plans for each week, and will be posting them here on this post for FREE download, so be sure to pin and/or bookmark this post and check back often for new updates!


Click here to download Week 1 Learning with LEGO Co-op Class Plans

Click here to download Week 2 LEGO Co-Op Class Plans

(Note: These pdf downloads are being offered free of charge. You will be taken to Oronjo to complete the download. You will be given the option of making a small donation if you like, but this is totally optional and not at all required to receive the download. Thanks!)

If you missed my post Learning with LEGO: History & Geography you will definitely want to check that out! Also see the post How to Teach Your Child the 10 Commandments to see how we use LEGO for Bible memory work!

If you have not yet, be sure to follow my LEGO Learning board on Pinterest to find TONS of great LEGO learning resources covering many school subjects! I keep finding all kinds of amazing ways to use these little bricks! I add new pins to this board daily, so check it out!

Here are a couple of LEGO books that Big Brother received as gifts last Christmas that we have found particularly fun and useful:

The LEGO Ideas Book - Big Brother could literally spend days reading and looking through the pictures in this book! Great for giving inspiration and sparking creativity! (Also a sneaky way to encourage some independant reading!)

Building Faith Brick by Brick - This is basically a teacher’s manual for teaching a Bible class using LEGO! This could definitely be used by a homeschool family, co-op, Bible club, Sunday School, or youth group. There are stories, LEGO build suggestions, snack ideas, and much more. Just a very neat book! I plan to use it over the summer here.

Here are a few particular blogs I have found to be extremely helpful with LEGO learning:

Walking by the Way - We have done the LEGO lapbooks on this site, and they are awesome!! You will also find more LEGO co-op ideas.

Proverbial Homemaker - We used the LEGO Jesse Tree study offered on this site to do an Advent Bible study with LEGO during the month of December for Bible class. Loved it! I also saw an Easter LEGO challenge is being offered as well!

Homegrown Learners - This site offers lots of LEGO learning ideas and free LEGO printables!

Need some LEGO bricks or want to add to your collection? Both Amazon and CBD offer LEGO sets at good prices!!

Again, make sure you follow my LEGO Learning Pinterest board to get all the best LEGO resources, ideas, and activities out there for homeschoolers! And be sure you pin and/or bookmark this post and remember to check back often for updates!!

Have some tips for using LEGO for learning? Share them with us in the comments!!!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Manner of Man?

Today my Good Morning Girls Bible study chapter was Matthew 8. This one chapter included narratives of 6 amazing miracles performed by Jesus!

Jesus has just finished His "Sermon on the Mount" during which He amazed the people with His teachings which were so different from that of the religious leaders of the time. Now He continues to prove that He is no ordinary man!

Just in one chapter here Jesus cleanses a leper, heals a centurian's servant long distance, heals Peter's mother in law, heals and delivers many other afflicted people, calms a storm with His words, and delivers two men from demon possession.

The one narrative that touches me the most in this chapter is the calming of the storm:



And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!


What manner of man indeed!

When the storm was raging, Jesus was asleep! He was perfectly at peace knowing that everything was under control. How sweet to know that even in what looks like turmoil and chaos in our lives, we can have peace if we are in God's hands.

The disciples awoke Him with their cries. I am so thankful that He pays attention to our desperate cries for help as well. Many times I have felt, just like these disciples, that if the Lord did not do something fast I would surely perish! But He always comes through right in time, and always there is a lesson He wants me to learn through the storm!

The wind and sea obeyed His voice. No storm, trial, difficulty, or problem is so big that it does not have to bow in obedience to the Master!

There was a great calm. After the Lord moved in the situation, things changed completely. The terrible storm gave way to the most amazing peace. God has worked this in my life time and again. The peace and calm that follows after the storm is greater in magnitude than the storm itself!

The disciples, though they had already witnessed several miracles, were totally blown away by this one! Just Who was this Man they had given up everything to follow? They are beginning to realize Jesus is so much more than just a preacher or a prophet, but He is indeed the divine Son of God! There is no limit to His power! Praise the Lord!

I agree with the lines from the classic Southern Gospel song by Squire Parsons, "I'm so glad He sails with me, He's the Master of the Sea!"

How about you? What matter of man is Jesus in your life today? Has He ever calmed any storms for you?

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Our Newport Aquarium Homeschool Field Trip Adventure!



As I type this post I am sitting here thoroughly exhausted from a very long, very whacky, very interesting, very tiring day!

We decided to take advantage of discounted tickets for Homeschool Days at Newport Aquarium in Newport, KY. With Big Brother's recent fascination with all things ocean, it was sure to be a hit. :)

So here's how our day went down:

6:30 a.m. Big Brother's alarm clock goes off...and he turns it off and immediately falls back to sleep. Daddy's alarm goes off and Little Brother and I sleep through it. Daddy gets up and gets ready. He's feeling like he's slept in since he's usually up for work by 4.

6:45 a.m. Everybody except Little Brother is up getting ready, eating breakfast, etc. We are supposed to meet another homeschooling family in town at 7:30 and plan to get to the aquarium around 10:00.

7:15 a.m. I finally get Little Brother awake, changed, and dressed. He just nursed at 5:30 so isn't interested in food yet. So I throw him some breakfast in the diaper bag to take with us in the car. We do our last minute scrambling around that must always accompany such trips, and we make it out the door...slightly after 7:30. :)

7:40 a.m. We meet up with our friends and start on our way. So far so good. :)

8:30 a.m. We end up sitting stopped in traffic. (Apparently there must have been an accident up ahead, but we never did see.) It is pouring the rain, the road has no shoulder, and there is mud everywhere.

9:15 a.m. We finally manage to figure out an alternate route and get turned around. Our friends needed to make a pit stop then we were finally back on our way!

10:30 a.m. Our GPS decides to play an early April Fool's prank on us!! It leads us within sight of the aquarium...but we are somehow at the exit for the parking garage rather than the entrance to it! Then as we are trying to figure this out, it sends us down a one way street...going the wrong way!! Long story short, we end up driving around aimlessly into Cincinnatti then back to Newport before finally finding a way to get into the aquarium parking garage. Our nerves are a mess by now!!

Sometime after 11 a.m. We are officially over an hour off schedule for the day! We finally make our way into the aquarium. Big Brother is immediately excited to see a huge replica of a humpback whale (his favorite!) at the entrance.

The aquarium exhibits both familiar fish native to KY waters along with more exotic creatures like sharks, jellyfish, rays, and fish native to the Amazon.

There are two different stations where we stop and actually pet some creatures. Big Brother and I pet some starfish and a ray at one station, and he pet a shark at another (he's braver than his mamma!). I think this was the highlight of the day for him. He is such an animal lover and really enjoys being up close with them!

Daddy pushes Little Brother in his stroller and lets him take it all in, too. He coos and giggles at all the fish!

We also get to see a special penguin show. Pretty neat! :)

Another neat thing is a 15 ft. alligator named Mighty Mike. That dude is huge!

One thing I am not enjoying though throughout the aquarium are many references to evolution & "millions of years ago" being presented as fact. One staff member mentions how certain of the "simpler" sea creatures have "actually not changed in millions of years! They are the same as ones you find in the fossil record!" I had to laugh. So basically evidence against evolutionary theories saying animals change into different kinds of animals over time! (We discussed this a little on the way home. Do you have questions about this issue? You will find many helpful resources here from Answers in Genesis.)

We get through the aquarium, pet the sharks just one more time, then head into the gift shop where everything is very...overpriced. :) Big Brother had brought his own funds with him, however, and chooses a neat little collection of toy sharks of various species (shhh...don't tell him that science next week will be identifying and learning about these sharks!).

1:30 p.m. We have to head outside into a heavy downpour to get back to the parking garage. We get loaded up and finally manage to go the right way down one way streets until we get back to the interstate!

2:15 p.m. We finally find a McDonald's as we are more than ready for lunch! We plan to dine in...until we realize Little Brother is snoozing soundly (Rule #1 at my house: Never awaken a sleeping baby unnecessarily!), so we did the drive thru. (I know, not exactly the healthiest choice, oh well!).

4:00 p.m. Rain and fog have made travel yucky! It is difficult to see, and we get turned around again and wind up making a wrong turn and having to take a much longer route...again. :) Big Brother, lovingly clutching his sharks, is now knocked out in the backseat as well.

Sometime after 5:00 p.m. We finally make it back home from our grand adventure! Big Brother is eager to play sharks, Little Brother is eager to be free to wiggle and play in the floor awhile, and Daddy and I are exhausted!

I jokingly told my husband our next homeschool field trip should be a drive to New York City...and for some reason he disagreed....?! ;)

All in all it was a good trip, though, seriously. We got there and back safely, saw some amazing creatures, and learned some neat facts. Do you have a homeschool field trip story to share? I would love to hear about it in the comments!! Need some ideas for homeschool field trips? Be sure you check out this post!

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Helpful Hints for Raising a Reader!

March is National Reading Month. Here are some helpful hints for raising children who love reading!


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at Free Digital Photos.

1.) Shoot the T.V.

OK, don't actually shoot it, but you get my meaning! Too much screen time kills the attention span and stifles imagination and creativity. Seriously limitting or even ommitting screen time in your children's schedule frees them to spend more time reading. Books seem so much more interesting when T.V. is not even an option!

2.) Read aloud!

It is never too early or too late to begin reading aloud to your children! It is recommended that parents spend at least 20 minutes reading aloud to their children each day. We read much longer most days simply because we enjoy it so much!

Once when I was growing up, our family decided to read
The Swiss Family Robinson together in the evenings. Each of us took turns reading a few pages, and we covered about a chapter per night until it was finished. This is a great way to enjoy a story, teach important lessons, discuss new vocabulary, have family time, and build memories! This also helps children form positive feelings toward books and reading in general.

3.) Find a good book series!

Introduce your children to some good book series. Once the child has enjoyed one or two books in the series and gotten to know the characters, they are very likely to want to read more stories about them.

This worked for me as a girl! I received a book from the popular Mandie mystery series as an award at Bible camp one year, and I enjoyed it so much I had to read every Mandie book I could get my hands on after that! Here are just a few more favorites to get you started:

Concord Cunningham Scripture Sleuth

The Little House series

The Sugar Creek Gang

The Farm Mystery Series

The Boxcar Children series

Encyclopedia Brown series

The Adventures of Nathan T. Riggins

4.) Treat reading like it is something special!

Give your child the message that reading is enjoyable by giving books as gifts or as awards for their accomplishments! Some children might enjoy setting reading goals and being rewarded when they meet them.

Let your children see
you__ reading! They will want to immitate you!

5.) Offer books on subjects that interest them!

If your child has special hobbies or interests, be sure to offer them plenty of reading material related to that topic. Are they enjoying learning about a certain topic in history or science? Help them find books to read and learn more!

Does your child have a hero? Find a good biography! We have recently learned through studying our family tree that we are distantly related to several important individuals in American history, so Big Brother has been extra eager to read books to learn more about his "cousins!"

If you have little ones, be sure to also check out tips in my post Preparing My Baby to Love Learning

How do you encourage your children to read? What are your children's favorite books or series of books?

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Friday, March 6, 2015

The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett



What can I really make happen in half an hour? It is just 30 short minutes, so can it possibly count for much? Absolutely!!

As a busy mom, I seldom have large amounts of time to devote to any one thing. But this book, The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett helped me to see that God can use brief moments of time to do amazing things with my life!

The author draws from personal experience in a lifetime of ministry to share practical ways that just half an hour of time can change our relationship with God and other people, build our character, make our life goals and dreams become a reality, and help us change the world for God!!

The chapters of the book are short and can easily be read in 30 minutes of time. Each chapter contains practical wisdom for using the time we are given by God. The book is full of real life stories and examples the author uses to illustrate the principles he is teaching. I found these stories to be most interesting and helpful. I was really amazed and challenged to think of all the times that important events happen and life changing decisions are made in the short time of just a half hour!

At the end of this book there is a 30 Day Personal Action Plan. This will be extremely helpful in helping me to form new habits and really start thinking about how I can best use my time.

There is also a Small-Group Study Guide in the back that is full of great, thought-provoking discussion questions for each chapter. I found this section to be very helpful to me going through the book on my own to really see how the author's Half-Hour Power Principles would apply in my own life.

If you are looking for a book to encourage your faith while giving you practical tips for making wise use of your time, I highly recommend The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett!

Get more info about this book!

Read a bio of Tommy Barnett!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Our Homeschool Week in Review 3-2-15 to 3-6-15



This has been a busy week in our homeschool! We took our early Spring Break last week and rearranged our livingroom to make a nicer homeschool area! We are enjoying it! I now have a desk/office area and Big Brother has one too. Little Brother also has more room and freedom to explore.

We started our Spring co-op classes this week. Big Brother especially enjoyed the LEGO class I am teaching! The other classes are Handbell Choir and Recorder Band. This is his first time learning recorder, so he has been practicing quite a bit this week. His band is working on "America the Beautiful" to be played at our End of Year Program. So far he has the first line down...with only a few squeaks here and there!

In Bible this week his verse has been Psalm 119:89 "Forever O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." He's learning all about the Bible this week. He is also continuing to learn Psalm 23. He can quote it now with just a couple prompts!

This week's spelling words all began with either "w" or "wh". He has done well remembering the difference.

He REALLY got into his Reading assignments this week from his Rod & Staff reader! He has been reading all about David, and he was so exciting to read about when David killed Goliath! It is his favorite Bible story.

In English he has been reading and writing paragraphs and determining the subject. Love our Rod & Staff English!

I have really tried to keep our math class time fun this week. We have used LEGO bricks to find all the different ways to make the number 15. He has also enjoyed doing what he calls "fact puzzles" where I write numbers, +, -, and = on blocks in dry erase markers and he has to make correct facts with them! Today he begins learning his 2x multiplication facts! He will be writing the facts and playing a game I made with popcicle sticks in a jar to review them.

We had fun learning about solids, liquids, and gases this week in science. I have already posted pictures of our little ice-water-steam experiment.

In Geography we have covered New Mexico, New York, and North Carolina this week.

He is finishing his report on Henry Clay today. Check my Printables page to download the sheet we are using!

In piano he is now practiciing the hymn "Faith of our Fathers."

We are spending most of our afternoons with me reading to him. This is his favirite time of the whole day! We began Little Pilgrim's Progress this week. (I will be reviewing it soon.) He had already listened to the classic original Pilgrim's Progress on CD, and he has a cartoon movie version on DVD so he already knows the story very well, but he is begging to hear "Just one more chapter!" everyday!!

In other news, we had another snow storm in KY this week. I am putting in my order for SPRING folks! Big Brother has not been able to go horse riding because of the cold and bad weather in over a month, and he misses that so much!

Next week we have a fun field trip planned! I will be telling about that next week!

Little Brother has been getting more and more adventurous. At 10 months old now he is a champion speed-crawler and cruiser! I expect him to take off running just any day now! Nothing is safe from his curious little chubby hands, so life is never dull here!! :)

I hope you have enjoyed this quick glimpse into our week!

What has life been like in your neck of the woods this week? Any special plans for next?

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thoughts from Matthew 4



Slowly reading through the Bible one chapter a day gives me a lot more time to carefully consider what I am reading. Today in my Good Morning Girls Bible Study we read Matthew 4.

Jesus has just been baptized by John in the Jordan River in the previous chapter. God the Father has displayed His approval of His Son and sent His Spirit down upon Him.

But before Jesus starts His earthly ministry, He makes a visit to the wilderness. After 40 days and nights of fasting and prayer, Jesus' fleshly body is extremely weak and hungry.

At this time of weakness is when Satan comes to Him. Using twisted distortions of the Word of God, he tries to get Jesus to sin. But Jesus answers Satan wisely.

It may seem strange for us to think that Satan also knows and uses tge Word of God! He will often twist it, distort it, take it out of context, and try to make it seem to fit his evil agenda. If we are not well studied with much prayer, we could easily fall for this tactic and end up in deep trouble. We must, as Jesus did, "rightly divide the Word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

After emerging victorious from His temptations in the wilderness, Jesus begins His earthly ministry. He starts calling His disciples.

I was challenged when I read about Peter, Andrew, James, & John. As soon as they received Jesus' call they immediately dropped what they were doing and followed Him. No questions, no bargains, just quick obedience.

Let's talk about it!

1.) How can you resist temptation?

2.) Do you immediately drop everything and go when God calls you to a task?


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Why We Love Rod & Staff Math!!



I have mentioned several times here that we are using Rod & Staff for our main math curriculum this year. With many people making decisions for next school year at this time, I wanted to share with you why we will continue to use this math curriculum! (Be sure you also check out my post 5 Ways to Make Math FUN!)

1.) Plain & Simple

Coming from a Mennonite publisher, there is nothing flashy, bright, or colorful in the Rod & Staff curriculum. I actually consider this a major plus for us! Big Brother has some pretty noticeable issues with attention and focus, and he is very easily distracted. The plain black & white pages without a lot of unnecessary "fluff" actually help him to stay calmer and better able to just focus on his work.

2.) Christ-Centered

Yes I know that math is math, but I love being able to incorporate Scriptures and lessons about the Lord in our math program. God is a God of order, and this is clearly shown in this curriculum. Big Brother mentioned just yesterday that he likes the short verses and Christian poems that are sprinkled throughout the workbook. He says they make him happy. :) You just can't beat that folks!!

Another big thing here is that the word problems are practical and many have good Christian themes. This is important to me. When I was in 8th grade, my mom had me try Saxon's Algebra 1/2 for the first quarter or so of the year. Not only did I despise the spiral method of instruction (more on that later!), but I also noticed the word problems were just...weird!?! We sat down and started looking up some of the names and words used and found many subtle references to Hinduism and other stuff that was just...weird. 'Nuff said. (So I switched and finished 8th grade and high school with ACE math. Also a good math program!)

3.) Predictable Lessons & Easy to Teach

Big Brother feels so confident when doing his math lessons because each lesson is set up according to the same basic pattern and he knows exactly what to expect when he gets to his workbook. He has 1 minute speed drills every other day. This really helps build a predictable routine which is so helpful for him.

The Teacher's Manuals (though written for a classroom teacher) are amazing! I am given detailed activities to do each day for our math class time. Prep time is extremely minimal. I do add a few extra hands on things here and there such as LEGO learning, games, etc, but the Teacher Manuals are full of great teaching ideas! I would venture to say if all you did with your child was do the "Class Time" activities found in the Teacher's Manuals for each lesson without even using the actual workbooks, your child would still get a complete math class. It is just that good!

4.) Mastery based

Ok, I know I will catch some flack here, but I firmly believe that mastery based math instruction is best! Call me what you want. I do not think teaching multiple concepts at the same time without the child having time to master any of them is a good approach. I mentioned my own struggles with Saxon (a spiral based program) as a homeschooled 8th grader. The concepts presented seemed random, and I felt like I was drowning in a whirlpool of unrelated concepts with nothing to really grasp. That is the best way I can describe how it feels to try to learn with the spiral method. Saxon, ABeka, and several other popular programs out there teach using this method. No. Not for us!

Rod & Staff (along with A.C.E. and a few others) teach based on the concept of mastery. One concept, fact, or skill is taught at a time; and it is taught to the point that the child master's it before going on to the next. Learning builds naturally and gradually. This is actually based on a Biblical principle found in Isaiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Big Brother is amazing in his ability to quickly recall his basic math facts without the need of his fingers or other props. He is also able to apply these facts in real time in real life situations. So I know it is working and he is internalizing the concepts while mastering these math skills. I know learning facts might not be popular these days, but it is still helpful for the child later on as the concepts become more difficult! My mother as a Christian school administrator and tutor has encountered numerous teens who could NOT do even simple algebra because they had never mastered their basic math facts. Sad but true.

I might throw in here that some of the top scoring private schools in the nation use Rod & Staff as their math curriculum! Impressed yet?!

For what it is worth, let me say that my beloved husband went through the same Saxon book I hated in the church school he attended and is great at math...but he also works out number problems in his head for fun because he finds it relaxing (serously!)...so I think he just has a natural inclination toward math and would have thrived with any curriculum. He did master his basic facts with mastery-based ACE for the first few years of his education before beginning Saxon, so no doubt that helped him more than he realizes!

5.) Inexpensive

The final reason we will be sticking with Rod & Staff math is more of a practical/economical reason. The materials are pretty inexpensive compared to other mainstream math curricula out there! Being a Mennonite company they do not have a website, but you can order Rod & Staff curricula online from one of their dealers such as Milestone Books.

From 3rd grade up the student books are nonconsummable so you can save them for the next child in line! Great for bigger families!!

What is your favorite math curriculum? Why? Have you tried Rod & Staff? I would love to hear your take!!

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