The Homeschool Minute ~ Thanksgiving?! What’s There to Celebrate?

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Welcome New Columnist, Dr. James Dobson!

Thanksgiving?! What’s There to Celebrate?

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Mercy Every Minute   
The Wuehler Family

The news is horrifying. Global and local chaos: persecution, death, wars and rumors of wars, homosexuality, and abortion on the rise, marital commitment and education on the decline, families torn apart … humanity is suffering on a global level. What is there to celebrate?
Here’s where it helps to look at Thanksgiving through the eyes of the first pilgrims. They suffered great loss, great persecution, and great want. Tragedy upon tragedy befell them. What gave rise to their deep gratitude? Could it have been their deep suffering? Through every persecution and grief, they understood their God on a deeper level. They knew Him unreservedly to be their God of Mercy, their Deliverer, Rescuer, and Provider. They were filled with Thanksgiving that this God would even acknowledge mortal men.
He still pours out His love upon us in all our misery and wretchedness. This should make the hardest of us thankful. And this kind of thankfulness should give us the unction to rise and face another day knowing He is the Supreme Ruler of the universe and every kingdom under it. When we are actively full of this kind of gratitude, we have no room for a spirit of heaviness.
“I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:4).
When we recognize the very greatness of our God and humble ourselves before it, we come into a relationship with God Himself. And that same God promises peace for our harried, confused, and anxious minds through Jesus Christ. Unintelligible, incomprehensible Peace. The kind of peace that sustains us through the seeming quietness of God on some issues in our lives. A peace that passes the temporal relief of anxiety, a peace that reminds us the greatness of God can handle the miniscule concerns of simple men, and the tragic concerns of the hour. A deep, sustaining, life giving peace based on a trust in the God Who hears and delivers.
The first pilgrims read the same Psalm 136 that we read today. They knew what we know, “His mercy endures forever.” I encourage you to read Psalm 136 with your family and discover who He is and why we give thanks:
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever: To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever … To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His mercy endures forever; To Him who struck down great kings, For His mercy endures forever … Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever; And rescued us from our enemies, For His mercy endures forever; Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136: 1-4, 16-17, 23-26).
We are so humbled and blessed to welcome Dr. James Dobson to The Homeschool Minute!
Dr. Dobson is the reason that many pilgrim homeschool families began this incredible, unbelievable, faith-filled journey called home education that millions are now pursuing. We are extremely grateful to have Dr. Dobson here with us. He is a man of God who lends such wisdom and honor to the conversation of life and family as you will see in his entries here. Please help us welcome Dr. Dobson today and in future editions of The Homeschool Minute.

Dr. James Dobson    

Dr. James Dobson

What Are Your Favorite Family Traditions?
By Dr. James C. Dobson

Make a concerted effort to create special traditions in your home. By traditions I’m referring to those recurring events and behaviors that are anticipated, especially by children, as times of closeness and fellowship between loved ones.
For example, one of the most important holiday traditions in our family centers around food. A great favorite is a fruit dish called ambrosia, containing sectioned oranges and peeled grapes. The family peels the grapes together the night before Thanksgiving.
Immediately prior to the Thanksgiving dinner, after the food is on the table and family members are seated, I read a passage of Scripture and Shirley tells the story of the Pilgrims who thanked God for helping them survive the ravages of winter. Then each person is given two kernels of Indian corn to symbolize the blessings he or she is most thankful for that year. A basket is passed and every member drops in the corn while sharing their two richest blessings from God during that year. Our expressions of thankfulness inevitably involve people: children and grandparents and other loved ones. As the basket moves around the table, tears of appreciation and love are evident on many faces. It is one of the most beautiful moments of the year.
The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are wonderful experiences for all of us. There’s laughter and warm family interaction through the day. We look forward to that festive season, not just for the food, but for what happens between loved ones who convene.
We not only serve traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, but we try to have specific foods on each holiday throughout the year. On New Year’s Day, for reasons which I cannot explain, we enjoy a southern meal of pinto beans cooked at least eight hours with large chunks of lean ham, served with cornbread and little onions. It’s so good! On July 4th we invite thirty or more friends and serve barbecued hamburgers and baked beans in the backyard.
The great value of traditions is that they give a sense of identity and belonging. We are not just a busy cluster of people living together in a house, but a family.
For over 30 years, Dr. James Dobson has been America’s trusted source for psychologically sound, biblically based advice to help strengthen marriages, parents, and families. For more practical help and encouragement, go to:
Homeschooling families are afforded many teachable moments beyond schoolwork. Often what your children will learn from you will not be found within the chapters of books. Here is such a life lesson straight from the heart of Dr. Dobson…


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Raising Real Men    

This week marks one of our favorite holidays. We love the feasting and football traditions as much as anyone, but our thoughts should always return to God’s grace and faithfulness to us.
Holidays are times to remember.  The word comes from “holy day,” and the holidays in the Bible were times to remember God’s actions and celebrate His mercy and provision. Read in Exodus when God established the Passover celebration, and notice how He built symbolic food and a detailed retelling of the story into the ceremony.
Thanksgiving involves two stories–we need to tell both. The first is historical–Our children need to hear (and we need to remember) about the original celebration by the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors. The Pilgrims were Christians of deep conviction, willing to risk everything to gain religious freedom–and many died in the process! But Plymouth settlement was also the country’s first example of a self-governing society under a written constitution, and the Pilgrims established the importance of civil government by the people, not princes. We can be thankful both that God preserved their colony and that He used them to lay crucial foundations for our nation’s freedom!
We need to really think about God’s mercy toward us today. Beside the historical account, though, we need to remember the personal blessings our family receives today. It’s very easy to start with thanks for Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters, a house to live in, and so forth. It takes a little more work to remember significant blessings of the previous year–special events like a graduation, a job change, an unexpected mercy, answered prayers.
The hard part is thinking of things which are so comfortable and reliable we don’t recognize God’s hand in them. For example, America is one of the only nations that has not had significant hunger or starvation in the last century. We don’t have to hide from gunmen in the streets when our government holds elections. Power outages are rare events, not a daily occurrence, and we seldom have to think about the safety of the water we drink. Even the poorest people in our county have access to information and technology that was science fiction in our parents’ lifetimes. It’s an undeserved blessing of God to be able to live in this place and time–even with the challenges we do face!
We hope you all take time to reflect and speak to one another about the goodness of our heavenly Father this week! And don’t worry about a single day of feasting–you can diet again on Friday, after you enjoy the blessing of God’s provision!
And …  if you are desperately seeking that recipe you need for Thursday, or a short history of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, or the words to the most common Thanksgiving hymns–we have that all collected for you in our eBook, Christ Centered Thanksgiving–which we’re offering for free to our newsletter readers this week only! Visit to get your downloadable copy today!
In Christ,

Hal & Melanie Young


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Thanksgiving is Not a Duty

by Adam Andrews

Do you ever feel guilty at Thanksgiving because you are not thankful enough?  Do you ever evaluate your degree of thankfulness and find yourself wanting?  Does it sometimes seem like thankfulness is a duty, just one more thing that is expected of you that you are failing to perform adequately?

Me, too, all the time.

To be perfectly honest, I often respond to this feeling of inadequacy with an irritable mental retort: “If the blessings in my life were really overwhelming, I wouldn’t have to try so hard to be thankful for them.” It’s kind of mercenary, but let’s admit it: a mind-boggling, over-the-top gift is easy to be thankful for – because a) you didn’t deserve it in the first place, and b) despite not deserving it, you need it badly.
Maybe my problem is not that I’m a failure at thankfulness; maybe I just don’t know a mind-boggling, over-the-top gift when I see one.
In Matthew Chapter 17, Jesus was asked whether he paid the temple tax–that is, whether he observed all the moral and ethical requirements of his religion in order to stay right with God. He responded by pointing out that the sons of the king are exempt from the duties owed by foreigners, and he included all of his disciples in this “sonship” exemption. Then, instructing one of his disciples to go and catch a random fish, Jesus made a coin appear in the fish’s mouth, exactly enough for the temple tax.  Having already been exempted, the disciple could now pay the tax anyway from Jesus’ miraculous gift.
The implications of this story, and of the Gospel it explains, are staggering–especially for those of us who realize how desperately we need what Jesus is giving away:  approval, self-worth, reputation, identity, and peace with God.
The good news is that the obligations under which we labor–whether self-imposed or laid upon us by the tenets of our faith–are null and void.  The King may require them of foreigners, but His own sons are exempt forever. As His sons by the work of Jesus, we have permanent peace with God, whether or not we ever perform another act of Christian charity, or selfless generosity, or faithful homeschooling.
Beyond that, God is pleased to meet the moral, ethical, and religious obligations of our faith in us and for us, even though they are not required!  By the miraculous, mysterious ways that only He commands, He will make us complete in his own time. As a result, all of our striving and self-evaluation is beside the point. The work has already been done in our behalf, and it is a work of God–a gift from God–from first to last.
Can this be true?  Has everything you need for peace, joy, and fulfillment really been given to you absolutely free, with no strings attached?  If it were true, and you could grasp it, thankfulness would not be a duty; I think it would pour out of you like water, and music, and joyful noise, and you would be too busy thanking God to wonder whether you were doing it well enough.
Here’s praying that this year, we can see God’s mind-boggling, over-the-top gift for what it really is!



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