A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Monday, April 7, 2014

Unquenchable - by Carol Kent






Carol Kent is a well-known author within the Christian community. She has a frank, open style that many find refreshing, and in particular her honesty regarding her son's imprisonment for first-degree murder have been a soothing balm to many women coping with their own unimaginable loss and pain. Unquenchable is not a Bible study, nor is it a memoir. It's a compilation of tragedies woven together in a way that spurs the reader on to keep trusting in the Lord, even when life is overwhelming and the flames of faith seem to be dwindling.

To be honest, Unquenchable was very different than I expected it to be. I can't exactly clarify what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I found when I opened the cover and began to read. The book is real and raw and at times hard to read. But isn't life also, at times, raw and real and hard? If we're honest, we answer "Yes...indeed it is." This book can move you forward on the path of knowing God is truly enough, no matter what is taking place in your life, even as you face guilt over what appears to be a waning faith. Unquenchable is a reminder that there are times when we mistakenly believe our faith has died out completely and we don't trust the Lord, when in reality the embers of our faith can be burning hot and bright though we can't see them.

Don't read this book if you're looking for a few easy steps to solve your current faith crisis. It's not that type of book. Read it if you're willing to hear women's heart-wrenching stories, and you're able to admit that hard times may well fall on each of us for no apparent reason. Read it if you're wondering how a loving God can allow such deeply painful hurts in the lives of His children. Read it and see that the God you love can also be the God you trust through the darkest moments of life, and your faint embers may actually be the banking of a fire that cannot ever be put out.

Job well done, Carol Kent. You tackled a difficult, touchy subject that many avoid like the plague and explored it honestly, and to the glory of God.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 5.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from BookLook Bloggers (formerly BookSneeze). All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Day 311 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Twirl by Patsy Clairmont






The new book Twirl by well-known author and speaker Patsy Clairmont is a fun little book to read. I think it's aim is to bring a breath of fresh air into the spiritual lives of Christian women living in westernized cultures, and it achieves that goal with ease.

Patsy's conversational writing style, combined with her anecdotal tales, make for a light-heated book. The short chapters can be read in any order, so readers are free to pick and choose topics that best suit their current needs. She's down-to-earth, no-nonsense. This is classic Patsy Clairmont.

I would say this book probably is better suited to women of the next generation, as I'm not at the stage of life wherein I could appreciate many of the experiences, hobbies, and problems shared in Twirl. But even with the age/interest differences, I was able to glean nuggets of truth from Patsy's book.

From facing your fears to trying new hobbies, aging gracefully and continuing to learn new things about your family, Twirl is full of ways to keep the winds of life blowing anew.  If you're looking for a fast, easy read, this just might be the next book you read.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 4.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from BookLook Bloggers (formerly BookSneeze). All opinions shared here are solely my own.


Day 310 done :)


Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Typical March Post...

I find myself sharing the same sort of weblog post at this point each year. There's something about the month of March, the warmer weather, perhaps, that draws our hearts and minds toward the outdoors and leaves us anxious for summer...and often also leaves us lacking as we finish up the last long weeks of the homeschool year.

But I want to encourage you, yet again, to press on and finish well. Open the windows and enjoy the fresh air. Take some of your books outside and study in the sunshine. Take a couple of field trips. Be blessed by the change in season, just don't neglect to be a faithful homeschooling mother.

Spring is a blessing, a gift that reminds us of God's faithfulness throughout all generations to sustain us. In literal and spiritual terms, spring carries the weight of new things. Enjoy the blessing, celebrate this season, and honor the Lord by finishing the school year well.

He has called you to the task of homeschooling; do not neglect the gift that is in you by failing to finish this year well. Your children may gripe a little bit now about they're "heavy work load" but believe me, they will thank you later.

Lord bless as you homeschool for His glory!

Day 309 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Restless - by Jennie Allen






The book Restless (by Jennie Allen) is a book written for those who want to be more of who God made them to be and who are willing to allow their past to propel them into their future. It is not just a book you read; it's a study you take part in. With easily readable chapters that aren't too lengthy (which is key for most busy women I know), Restless is a book that can draw the reader closer to the heart of the Lord.

There are a lot of things that I really love about this book. Jennie Allen's open and honest writing is refreshing and her desire to see women grow closer to their Lord through open honesty and small groups are something the modern-day church could use a lot more of. And in every chapter I found at least one "take away" ~ some nugget of truth that impacted the way I view my life and my ability to glorify God in all of it's ups and downs.

There are also things that I did not love about this book. I'm a type-A lady through and through. I don't do well with time lines and vague instructions, and the last portion of Restless has a lot of that. Now I also realize that I'm 41, of a different generation than the author's primary audience. That has a lot to do with the things I did not love about Restless. Jennie Allen is a great writer, and I can see from this book that she has a wonderful ministry. I'm probably just too old and too type-A to be able to grab hold of all she has to offer.  I encourage you to read several reviews and see what others have to say rather than taking this one paragraph from one book review and decide not to read the book. My opinion is just that - and I'm willing to admit I may be the odd man out here :)

If you do read the book and have something to share with me about it, I'd love to read your comments. Especially if they aren't in agreement with my opinion ~ that's one way I "grow up", so to speak.

Thanks for reading my review of Restless, and Lord bless you today!

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 3.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from BookSneeze. All opinions shared here are solely my own.


Day 308 done :)


Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study


Friday, March 14, 2014

Embracing my Irish

It's almost St. Patrick's Day. And I am, eh-hem, decidedly Irish. Ask my husband. Ask my kids. They will tell you I am, indeed, undoubtedly, very Irish.

I fight against it. It's my bane in so many ways. Being a "typical" Irish woman (if there is such a thing) and being a submissive, godly Christian woman seem to war against each other. They don't jibe well, if you know what I mean. That whole idea of taming the tongue? Well if it weren't for the Holy Spirit, I think my tongue would run non-stop and demolish everyone and everything in it's path. I'm not making light of the situation here - I am very serious. Thank God for His Spirit, and the rescue He has provided time and time again from the snares of my Irish bent!

My husband will tell you I am Irish - but he also tells me I need to embrace the aspects of my personality that are there for God's purposes and His glory.  Don't-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bath-water sort of advice. That's hard! Which parts of my Irish self do I embrace and which ones do I cast aside?

I cannot answer that question. But the Lord can, and the more I yield my life fully to Him, the more I see Him "pick and choose" which parts of my temperament to use on any give day. Does it vary from one situation to the next? Yea, surprisingly, it often does. But I'm learning that He is trustworthy and faithful to show me when I'm doing His will His way and when I'm doing His will my way. He's good like that. If He will teach me how to live in His grace and follow His leading moment by moment, He will most certainly teach you, too. Ask Him, see for yourself.

So this St. Patrick's Day I am, in many ways less Irish than I've ever been, and also more myself than ever before. One of God's amazing dichotomies. One more way He is truly awesome and hands-on involved in my life. One more way for me to be newly amazed by Him.

Be blessed as you embrace the you He wants you to be!

Day 307 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Monday, February 24, 2014

About Knowing God's Will (for my life...)

Every believer desires to know God's will for their life. His exact will. And, hopefully, His will is very good, filled-to-the-brim with blessings. That's pretty normal. I'd be willing to gamble that most Christians would admit they want His will for them to be good will, and they would like to know what His is for them.

Here's my question: Is it enough to want God's will, even if that means I don't have an exact picture of His will for me personally?

It's a tough question, and it's okay to think about it for a while and see if it actually makes sense. (I never claimed to be the most sensible person on the planet, after all!)

What I'm getting at here, the point I really want to make is that there is a profound difference in the two "wills". It takes time and maturity to fully embrace God's will while laying aside the desire to know God's will for my life. It takes a heart fully yielded to Jesus to fully know and accept that God's will is enough for us...and that God's personal plan for each of us is an aside, something extra, a non-essential.

I've found that once I ceased seeking Him for His will for me, trading it instead for simply seeking Him, that my worries faded away. My fretting dissipated. My intercessory prayer for others expanded and became more fruitful. My self-focus changed to something better - as if I was no longer near-sighted spiritually, but far-and-wide sighted.

Here is my challenge to you - this week, just for the next seven days, try asking God to make His will enough for you. Beseech Him to work His will out through you in ways that remove your need to know what your future holds. Trust Him to make you far-and-wide sighted. And at the end of the week, examine your heart and see if you don't feel a whole lot lighter, and much closer to Jesus.

Lord bless you today!

Day 306 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Monday, February 17, 2014

Satisfied - Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption (by Jeff Manion)






The book Satisfied by Jeff Manion is now on my "Favorite Book List".  It's subtitle, Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption, does give you an idea of what the book is about; but Satisfied is much more than just another Christian book on finances, tithing, generosity, the effects of greed, budgeting, and so on. It's not like any other book I've read on the topic of what followers of Christ do with their money. The chord it struck within me was unique, and this book is not only one of my new favorites, it is also now required reading for my children during their high school years in our homeschool.

So, why do I think Satisfied is such a great book? It's not confrontational, it's simply the truth. The truth is, we in America are much more prosperous than most of the rest of the world will ever dream of being...and yet we don't live as if we have enough. The truth is that many followers of Jesus do not know how to live a contented, satisfied life - we chase after more, more, more and end up looking exactly like the rest of the world. Which means we end up offering nothing of value to those in our circles of influence who need a Savior. And we do all this gathering of stuff, stuff, stuff so that our children and grandchildren can sort through all of the stuff, stuff, stuff when we've moved on to heaven (where, BTW, we will walk on streets paved with something more valuable than the stuff, stuff, stuff we spend our lives chasing...think about that for a moment).

How many of us dreamed big dreams when we were young? Dreams of adventure and a thrill-filled life. Then as adults we fall into the rut of work to buy, stress to pay the bills, drool over the neighbor's latest toys, battle health issues that are a direct result of the stress... This is not God's will for our lives. I think He gave us hearts that dream big dreams and long for adventure. And one sure-fire way to live a life full of adventure is to become radically generous toward God and man. This isn't in the book Satisfied, it's my own personal opinion, but I think many of the same ideas can be found in the book. Who doesn't want to live the dream? I know I don't want to miss out on one single thing the Lord has for me, and I'll gladly go on an adventure with Him because there's no where safer for me to be.

In Chapter 1, Jeff Manion says, "The amount of junk we surround ourselves with is insane." Do you agree with him? If you do, even a little bit, then you should read this book. In Chapter 3 he says, "If our goal is more, then whatever we have is never enough. It's like running a race where a finish line doesn't exist." From Chapter 6 - "The heart that believes God has ripped it off can justify anything." & "Trust is the glue that holds any relationship together, and if you fundamentally distrust God's goodness, it is highly unlikely that you will follow His leadership in your life." And my last quote is from Chapter 15 - "Though greed can stifle generosity, the more frequent culprit is fear."

I really hope you pick up a copy of this book and read it - share it with others, lead a small group, read it once more yourself. It's really that good.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 5.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from BookSneeze. All opinions shared here are solely my own.



Day 305 done :)


Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Plan Now to Finish Well

Now that it is February, the dreaded Winter Doldrums have fully set in for most homeschool families. It happens to the best of us, and there's no shame in admitting it. But a little thoughtful planning now can ensure an excellent end to the school year in spite of the winter blahs. Here's what you do to make May/June a time of blessed relief instead of dreaded bookwork.

Look over your children's remaining work in each subject. How many math lessons are left in the book? And when, ideally, would you like to be finished with the school year? Say you have 4 months until your family vacation ~ that's about 16 weeks of study time. Divide 16 weeks by the number of lessons remaining the the math curriculum and you'll know exactly how much you need to do each and every week in order to reach your goal. Simply do the same for every subject, write down what you discover (or this entire exercise will be pointless because you won't remember how much to do each week in each subject!) and get cracking!

The interesting thing I have discovered is that we're almost always much closer to our end-of-year goals than I thought. It's refreshing and gives me a renewed sense of energy as I decide to finish the homeschool year well.

Not to mention the fact that it provides a concrete way to "get it all done" in a timely manner, in manageable chunks - and as an added bonus, if illness strikes the family, I can easily make an adjustment to the lesson plans to still finish on time.

Keep on keeping on, fellow homeschooling mothers! The Lord will bless your efforts, the snow will melt, and spring will be here soon!

Day 304 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study (& head baker for Dessert to Your Door)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Strange Fire ~ by John MacArthur






Most American Christians have heard the name John MacArthur, and many have perused his resources, including his multiple Bible study guides. He certainly knows the Bible, and can quote chapter and verse on most any subject. I was interested to see what Mr. MacArthur might have to say about the Holy Spirit. What I found in the book Strange Fire wasn't what I expected or hoped to find; much of what he has written here disturbs me. And not in the way he intended his readers to be disturbed.

The introduction covers a long, complicated history of the charismatic movement. As always, MacArthur is straight-forward and even, at times, downright blunt in sharing his opinions (which are not stated as opinions...he seems to feel his opinions are cold, hard facts). I prefer to be a little more delicate when approaching subject matter with which I do not agree...and out of respect for the ministry the author has built over many years, I will try to keep this review less "blunt" than this book!

While I agree with much of MacArthur's stance about the charismatic movement on the whole (and Benny Hinn's ministry specifically) I must say that I don't fall into the camp of his beliefs about the Holy Spirit. For example, on p. xvii of the Introduction, he says, "All who are faithful to the Scriptures must rise up and condemn everything that assaults the glory of God." I'm not faithful solely to Scripture; I'm faithful to Jesus, my Savior and my King. A person can be faithful to Scripture and not to Jesus (just look at the modern-day cults permeating our society) but I doubt very much a person can be faithful the Lord Jesus and not also to His Word.

I mentioned that I did agree with certain aspects of Strange Fire. One example is from p. 16 of Chapter One. The exact quote reads, "Pentecostals and charismatics elevate religious experience over Biblical truth." I have found this to be true of most charismatics I know. The danger I see in adhering solely to this form of Christianity is the constant need for something "new". Add to this the "showiness" of the messages and the worship, and you have an unhealthy balance that often leaves believers disillusioned, empty and confused. Speaking in tongues is the most commonly objected to trait of the charismatic movement - and I find the most simple way to address this is to remind those on either side of the issue that speaking in tongues is AN evidence of the Holy Spirit, not THE evidence. (Look up verses about the Holy Spirit and you'll find plenty of Biblical evidence that there are many gifts of the Spirit.)

Some extremes of this movement make for an unhealthy Christianity ~ as do many aspects of John MacArthur's personal beliefs as taught in this book. John MacArthur mentions in Chapters 3 & 4 the need to test the spirits (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). That's what I am aiming to do with this book review.

I truly hoped this book would teach more about living life, daily life, by being more yielded to the Lord, or Spirit-led to put it another way. But I'm afraid MacArthur's strong distaste for anything even vaguely charismatic has clamped off the Spirit's flow in his teaching and ministry.  What does he think our Lord meant when He said in John 16:7, "But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." ? Living life without direct, constant and immediate access to the Holy Spirit is like living the Christian life without Christ's power and strength. Frustrated is the word I'll use to describe a life lived in such manner.

As a student of Francis Schaeffer and David Mullholland, I feel John MacArthur's intentions are good,  but he has a certain measure of humanism that plays into this book. And he seems to have failed to grasp the hard truth that we do not in any way control our relationship with God; it is His relationship to control. I suspect Americanized, humanistic Christianity lends itself readily to the false notion that we are in control of our relationship with the Lord, so it isn't a surprise to see it in Strange Fire. I would reckon the author would strongly disagree with me, and would likely use humanistic arguments to exert his control! But the Word of God can stand on it's own without MacArthur's control and commentary; it also stands alone to disprove aspects of the charismatic movement.

MacArthur does not seem to adhere to the belief that the Holy Spirit speaks to people as individuals. There is grave danger in his reasoning, and aligns more with the Mormon view of the Holy Spirit than the Biblical New Testament view. Who speaks to John MacArthur when he's writing a book or preparing a sermon? Other studious theologians? And what to do with men like A.W. Tozer, C.H. Spurgeon, and E.M. Bounds? What to make of J. Hudson Taylor, an entire life and ministry spent seeking, listening for, and actually hearing the Holy Spirit's daily will for him and the hundreds of orphans in his care? What does he do with Paul's writings? If the time in which the Spirit had free and open range in the individual has passed, then what on earth do we do with New Testament teaching? I fear he not only marginalizes the Holy Spirit, and does not know how to have a personal, intimate dependence upon the Lord...upon the Holy Spirit, who is fully God. (I strongly dislike MacArthur's reference to the Spirit as being the third member of the Trinity for a reason...) I would liken him to something of an intellectual bully - he will make you pay if you disagree with him.

One last example of the extreme attitude displayed in Strange Fire comes from p. 115 of Chapter 16. Comparing any type of modern prophecy with a Magic 8 Ball, Tarot cards, or a Ouija board is an example of his intellectual bullying. Why, then, do 1 Corinthians 14:1, Romans 12:6-8,  and Ephesians 4:11-16 list prophecy as a spiritual gift? The Holy Spirit's work in my life is nothing like the devil's work through the supernatural, dark forces listed above. In fact, I feel very sorry for Mr. MacArthur. Living the Christian life without the Spirit must be exhausting and nearly impossible to maintain. No wonder his book has such a negative, caustic feel. He has attempted to write a book on the Holy Spirit without the Holy Spirit's input!

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 1.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from BookSneeze. All opinions shared here are solely my own.



Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study



Psalm 19:14

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.  (Prayer based on Psalm 19:14)

When I pray this, I am always instantly convicted and filled with a need to please my Lord. When I pray this for others, I am heavily burdened with a desire for them to know Him more and more, in such ever-increasing measure that their heart's meditation is refocused on Him and Him alone.

When you're in the middle of a difficult homeschool day, this is the perfect prayer. If you're late getting dinner started, this is the perfect prayer. On those days when your entire family is down and out with the flu, this is the perfect prayer to pray. It will center your heart and mind on glorifying the Lord with your words and in your heart, and it opens the door for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you moment by moment.

Why not join me in making Psalm 19:14 a verse that you pray back to Him on a regular basis? I promise you won't remain the same if you pray this way! He is true to His Word, it always accomplishes what He wills, and it never returns to Him void.

My prayer for you today is that the words of your mouth and the meditation of your heart would be acceptable in the sight of your strength and your Redeemer, the Lord who loves you so.

Lord bless you today as you homeschool for His glory!

Day 302 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study