Categories
Current Events Ink Slingers Michelle Spiritual Growth

Becoming Salt and Light

At the beginning of the pandemic last year, there was a beautiful transition in our world from a “me” society to a “we” society. It was amazing to watch as people began to think outside of themselves and instead worried about others. True love and concern for neighbor ran rampant throughout our families, our cities, our countries- our world. Unfortunately, as the pandemic persisted and people began to feel weary of lockdowns, food shortages, masks, and being separated from those they loved, their patience with one another became noticeably short. Where salt and light surrounded us at one point, it now seems as if we struggle to be decent to one another again. As we continue to fight our way through the lingering effects and damage the lockdown caused, we may wonder how we can recapture this spirit that once infected everyone around us.

HOW ARE WE CALLED?

In Matthew’s Gospel we read, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” (Matt 5:13-16)

SALT

Christians are called to live our faith in a way that glorifies the Lord. Everything we say and do should lead others to God. Christ tells us in Matthew’s Gospel that we are the salt of the earth. Salt is one of the most important (if not the most important!) minerals for civilization. Historically it has been used for preservation, healing, and even as currency. Our bodies not only crave it, but need it to function properly. Wars have been fought, friendships have been made, civilizations built, and religious customs have flourished all because of salt. When salt is so vital, it’s no wonder that Christ would call His followers the salt of the earth!

As the salt of the earth, we are called to “flavor” the world with Christ. What we say, what we do, and who we are should all glorify God and inspire others to seek out the Lord. Our “saltiness” is vital to making sure that God’s presence is felt by others. Of course being “salty” in today’s terms means something completely different than what Christ calls us to be. Often it is easier to be “salty” than to be the “salt of the earth” and yet God still calls us to the task.

LIGHT

With this call to be the “salt of the earth”, Christ also calls us to be the “light of the world”. He tells us that we are not to hide the light which burns within us and which reflects God’s love and life under a bushel basket. I would venture to say that in today’s world we have many “bushel baskets” under which we hide His light. Perhaps we are embarrassed to share our faith.  Maybe we worry about persecution, ridicule, or rejection. It might be that we think we are not knowledgeable enough or even faithful enough to spread our faith. Maybe the timing is never right or we simply want to keep our faith private.

Whatever our reasons for hiding Christ’s light, we must come to realize that as Christians we are not just called but are expected to shine His light brightly for all to see. Christ’s light which lives inside of us is not simply for our own benefit, but instead is meant to “shine before others” so that they have a clear path to God through us!

ANSWERING THE CALL- BECOMING SALT AND LIGHT

What does it take to become salt and light? While we know that our good deeds are not what get us to heaven, we do know that God calls us to live out our faith through doing good works. These acts of love and hope help others to see our Christian faith being fully lived out as God has asked us. Christ modeled this life for us. He was a man of action. He fed the hungry, taught the masses, healed the sick, forgave the sinner, He died upon a cross, and rose from the dead. His actions were vital to His ministry. Likewise, our actions are vital to making Christ known and felt in the world. If we are to call ourselves Christians then we must be heavily involved in doing good works.

At the beginning of the pandemic we saw that “good works” became the norm for most people. People rushed to help one another to secure food, medicine, or other needs. These good works were not just corporal (taking care of one another’s physical needs), which is sometimes the easier work to do. They also encompassed the spiritual works of mercy as well. We saw people extend kindness, mercy, forgiveness and openness despite differences in political ideology, religious practices, economic status, or any other qualifier. People were comforting others in their sorrow, counseling them in their doubt, and praying like crazy for one another. Life was no longer “us” versus “them”; it was simply “us”.

This is what God desires for His people. He wants us to be united as one and He knows that the fastest way to achieve this is through good works. When we stop fighting and start loving one another it follows that God’s love and goodness can be more readily seen and felt by others.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

It is true that the pandemic has worn many of us down. It has broken spirits and for some contributed to hatefulness and anger towards others. There are still many people doing good in the world, but the last year and a half has also hardened many hearts that were open and giving at the beginning of the lockdown. If we are to follow Christ’s call to be salt and light in the world, we can’t allow our own hearts to be hardened by the overwhelming distress the virus and the lockdown have caused us. Instead we must continue to look out for the needs of others. We must attend to both the physical and spiritual needs of our neighbors even when it is difficult.

The pandemic took so much away from all of us… but it can never take away Christ’s light shining through us. Only we can hide it away. God tells us that He desires good and holy work from us. Through these good works His light shines brightly and draws others into a relationship with Him. If we want to see a change in our world, if we want peace, we must be the salt and light that Christ has called us to be. By living out our Christian faith in love and good deeds, we can lead others to Him- the One who brings ultimate peace and healing.

Categories
Abortion Ink Slingers Michelle Pro-Life Issues Respect Life

The Sanctity of Life and Our Catholic Response

I can remember the day I found out I was pregnant with Leo as clearly as if it happened just yesterday and not 8 ½ years ago. I remember the joy, the pain, the fear, and the worry. I wrote about my journey through a high risk pregnancy here at the website and the outpouring of love and support that our readers showered on me helped to make each day a little easier and less scary to face, especially as many family and friends abandoned us in our time of need.

If you aren’t familiar with my story I will give you a short overview (unless you’d like to read it and then you can find it here, here, and here). During the birth of my 10th child we discovered my son was breech. The doctor, who had delivered more breech babies than any other doctor in our area, was confident in both my ability and his to safely deliver my son. However, try as I might, I simply could not deliver him. Worse yet, while trying I felt an incredible amount of pain (that was a different kind of pain) and my instincts jumped into overdrive. I began to plead with the doctor to take me to the OR to do a cesarean section. I couldn’t get them to understand how vital it was to get us there quickly. They wanted to simply numb my lower half, but I knew we didn’t have that much time. I begged them to put me under and to take the baby. I think they were pacifying me because I was so panicked, but I am forever thankful that they listened to my pleas.

I woke up 3 ½ hours later to find that my uterus and bladder had ruptured and that I had lost so much blood the doctor didn’t feel I would survived a hysterectomy and so he put the “puzzles pieces” of my uterus back together, tried to fix my bladder, and then closed me up. He would tell me that had we not followed my instincts both the baby and I would have died. He also told me that my uterus was so badly damaged it would never hold another pregnancy again; that if I got pregnant that both the baby and I would die.

Fast forward a mere 5 ½ months and after Herculean efforts to not get pregnant, I was sitting in my bathroom with a positive pregnancy test, tears spilling down my cheeks, fear and joy filling my heart simultaneously, and wondering how in the world I was going to tell my husband and children. Never in my thoughts, though, was what would I do about the pregnancy. I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would risk my life to give my child a chance to live.

The events that followed still hurt. We were discharged at my OB office because I refused an abortion, we lost friends as they turned their backs on us and judged us, we felt isolated and alone, and truly felt persecuted for living out our Catholic faith. My heart still reels from the injuries that friends and family inflicted on us during that time. Thankfully my story ended beautifully- a sweet, healthy little boy in my arms, doctors astounded that my uterus was perfectly and “miraculously” healed, and a new gift of life for my son, for myself, and for our family.

I write about my choice for life because today is a dark day in the history of our great United States of America. On this day in 1973 a ruling in the Roe v. Wade case legalized abortion across America. The case denied the rights of the unborn and instead gave women the “right” to decide to end a pregnancy for whatever reasons she may have. The case made it possible that today we have reached over 62.5 million abortions performed in the United States alone. It set a precedence that said a woman’s right to choose is more important than a child’s right to live. It demeaned life in the womb as unworthy in comparison to the mother and it set into motion the false ideology that one human is more important than another. It made a god out of “choice” and placed it on an unholy altar to be worshiped. It has directly affected the importance and sanctity of marriage and family life as well.

As much as I could write about the horrors of abortion and how it has torn at the fabric of our families and our faith, instead I want to touch on what our response is and what it should be towards those faced with the decision to choose life or to choose abortion.

In my own life I faced the condemnation of fellow Catholics who thought I was irresponsible for either “getting pregnant on purpose” or for allowing myself to “fall pregnant again”. Neither scenario was correct as we had done everything within our faith to avoid pregnancy, but that didn’t matter to those who condemned me. I was married, had many other children, and was a faithful church-goer and volunteer. If someone like me, who up to that point had “done it right”, was condemned in such a terrible way, I can only imagine what single young women, poor women, women who made “bad” life choices, drug addicted women, and others feel when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. It’s not hard to understand why they may choose to end a pregnancy instead of face the flames of condemnation.

A dear friend of mine chose differently than me. When faced with an unplanned pregnancy while still very young, her family encouraged her to have an abortion. It was just “what you did” she told me. There was never any thought that she would have the child; it was taken for granted that she would take care of the problem. And she did. We didn’t meet until I was in the middle of my pregnancy with Leo and as I told her my story about choosing life, she shared her story with me. My heart broke for her. The pain caused by her abortion long ago was still present. Her abortion was encouraged and supported and yet the pain she carried was heavy in her heart and on her soul. Even though we chose differently, the pain that lingers in both of us is evident.

The Catholic Response

If we want to convince others of the horrors of abortion, we have to be willing to live what we preach. I found that were many who claimed to be pro-life and yet could not understand that even though I had 10 other children to take care of, I had no other choice but to offer my life for my son so that he had a chance to live. I found that, to some, our Catholic teachings maybe meant one thing on paper and another thing in real life.

Which is it? Do we believe that life is sacred and worth protecting or do we think that there are ifs, ands, and buts that supersede the teachings of our Catholic faith? If we truly believe that every life is sacred and worth saving, how are we working to help those who find themselves in crisis or unplanned pregnancies to choose life and to endure the hardships they are facing? Are we simply quoting Catechism passages and Bible verses or are we truly living out our call to help others understand and respect the life that God has blessed them with and then support them as they bring life into the world, regardless of the circumstance?

So far, this year in the United States alone there have been nearly 50,000 abortions performed. Friends, we are only 22 days into the New Year and nearly 50,000 babies have died because abortion is considered a valuable commodity in our country. How can this be ok? More importantly, what can we do about it?

It seems as if for now, legally, we don’t have much recourse to reverse Roe v. Wade and to make abortions illegal in our country. But we do have the ability to help women choose life. We have the ability to not only teach about the sanctity of life, but to live out those teachings by supporting women who find themselves in unplanned or crisis pregnancies. In order to help others respect life, we must first respect life. Not just the life of the baby, but the life of the mother, the father, and the entire family. We can’t just talk the talk, we must walk the walk.

  • We must teach our children that all life is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. We have to begin teaching them at a young age. Our children innately know and understand the sacredness of life and are horrified at the thought of someone killing another person, especially a baby. We must encourage their understanding and foster their love of all people.
  •  When we encounter someone who is experiencing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy we should meet them with love and hope, not judgment and condemnation. We should encourage them in their choice for life and support them as they go through pregnancy, birth, and family life. It’s easy to tell someone they should choose life and then never show our faces again. It’s more difficult to be an active participant in their lives, willing to help at every turn when possible.
  • Volunteer at a pregnancy center, at your church, at a homeless shelter, at a women’s shelter, a low income day care, or a soup kitchen- anywhere that provides services that a pregnant woman may need. If we don’t have the time to volunteer, we should financially support those programs that help women and families. Don’t worry about why they are in the position they are in, but simply love them enough to help them to better the situation they are in.
  • Be vocal in your support for life. Don’t be obnoxious, but be genuinely loving and kind as you explain why life is so precious and worth saving. There will be those who want to fight you… be strong in your faith and convictions but also in your love for those who think differently from you. The love we extend wins over more hearts and souls than hate ever could.
  •  Pray. Pray for the mothers, pray for the fathers, pray for the babies, and pray for the extended families. Spiritually adopt women who are considering abortions and offer up your hardships, your worries, and your own trials for their well-being and for their choice for life.
  • Offer a healing hug for those who have experienced abortion. Listen to their story, offer prayers, and don’t judge them. Guide them to understand that they are still loved and that they can be forgiven. Point them to resources that will help them through the pain that accompanies abortion- not the just the physical pain but the mental, emotional, and spiritual pains.
  • Work within your legal system to encourage our leaders to make new laws that focus on ending abortion and the need for abortions. Abortion is big business that lines the pockets of many and so it will be difficult to eradicate. But we have to continue our work to bring about those changes.

Today, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I ask that you pray with me for all those women who are facing crisis or unplanned pregnancies, for those who are facing medical emergencies in their pregnancies, for those who feel alone and abandoned in their time of need, and for all those who are facing a decision between life and death. Let God use us as His means to provide help and hope to those who need it most. I pray that God will wrap them in His arms and help them to see their worth, their child’s worth, and the joy that comes from choosing life.

If you or someone you know is facing a crisis pregnancy, please know that we are here for you. Reach out and we will do our best to put you in contact with those who can help you.

If you are in need of post abortion healing, please consider contacting Rachel’s Vineyard. They can help you find hope, healing, and peace.

Categories
Current Events Ink Slingers Interviews Michelle Pro-Life Issues Spiritual Growth

An Interview with Dr. Alveda King: A Message of Peace and Fear

A Message of Peace and Hope in a Time of Chaos and Fear - Dr. Alveda King Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

One only has to turn on her television set, listen to the radio, peruse social media, or even step outside her front door to be witness to the winds of change sweeping through the nation. Of course, with that wind we have also seen chaos and upheaval grip much of our nation as well. Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many have taken the opportunity to speak out against the inequality faced by people of color in our nation. And while this is a wonderful thing to do, others have used this platform to preach change through any means available, including violence. As Christians, what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to react? How can we help implement change and civil discourse and yet dissuade those using violence?

A Message of Peace and Hope in a Time of Chaos and Fear - Dr. Alveda King Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I was blessed to speak with pro-life leader and civil rights activist Dr. Alveda King, niece of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In a candid interview, we discussed the state of our country as well as what we, as Christians, can do to help our nation move forward.  In the eyes of many, the two of us are vastly different- she is an African American from a well-known family, engaged in activism since she was born. She served in the Georgia House of Representatives and has written numerous books. She is well-known, often giving interviews for news stations and other media. She has faced challenges that I will never face. She has lived a life that I cannot imagine.

A Message of Peace and Hope in a Time of Chaos and Fear - Dr. Alveda King Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I, on the other hand, am a white woman who was born after the civil rights movement and grew up never truly knowing what it was like not to love everyone I met. Schools were not segregated, I had friends of every color and nationality, and I was never taught to hate those who are different from me. I am married to a police officer, who was raised the same, and together we have raised our children to also love everyone they meet. I am a homemaker and homeschooling parent. I practice what I preach and volunteer in many ways to help our community thrive and uplift those who need to be uplifted. I am currently the youth minister at my parish and I would venture to say my name is not known outside of my own little world. We have faced intense hate because of my husband’s chosen profession and for our faith, but our experiences are not the same.

In most people eyes, we are more different than alike… but as Dr. King points out, speaking sister to sister, we aren’t different, we are the same and this is the message we all need to hear but that we often fail to hear.

Beginning a Conversation of Peace

Opening our conversation, I asked Dr. King about her feelings regarding George Floyd, the police, the protests, and ultimately the riots. She began, “We are having this conversation in June of 2020. This particular year there is a new election, we will be reelecting our president I believe and some others will be elected; Covid 19 has just rocked America and the world. This is not new… elections are not new, pandemics are not new; and neither is the violence we are experiencing from the death of George Floyd- a man who was killed from a knee on his neck-of course him being African American and the officer being Caucasian.” Expanding on the public’s vastly different reactions to officer involved arrests by white officers versus black officers, she continued, “So we’re down to the argument of skin color, over and over again. That has happened throughout creation since the fall of humanity. People fight about skin color, class, who’s rich, who’s poor, who’s young, who’s old, and all types of things. The answer, the cure, of course, is always- come to the Lord and seek the Lord. And treat each other, regardless of skin color and socioeconomic conditions- treat each other as humans…”

This is where we most often fail. We only see a black man or a white officer. We fail to see that God has created us each in His image and likeness. We fail to see the inherent dignity in one another. Instead, we focus on skin color, wealth, social standing, age, and a myriad of other qualifiers that don’t necessary qualify but instead divide. And we are all guilty of this regardless of our color, status, pocketbook, etc. As humans, because we are sinful, because have experienced the fall, it is difficult for us to see each other through God’s eyes.

Dr. King quoted Acts 17:26, “He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and He fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their region” several times throughout our conversation. She lamented, “I was taught by my father, Reverend A.D. King, my mother Naomi King who is still living, my granddaddy Daddy King, Mama King his wife, and my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that Acts 17:26 “of one blood” means that we have to get along. Martin Luther King Jr said we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools. We’re not separate races.” She continued, “God created all people…. Our blood is red, our skin color- we can see it. We have to see it or we are colorblind.  It’s a sin to differentiate people by skin color or money or any of the human conditions that we have. The human race has been in the condition of being a fallen group of people in a fallen world. The answer to that is always Jesus Christ. So sin is sin. It is a sin to see our brothers and sisters as other races when we are all of one race- the human race. It is sin to say “my race needs to get along with your race” because there is one race. So, the issue of racism, socially engineered to divide us, is sinful.”

Unfortunately there are those who do not wish to see the world as one race. They hope to keep us separated. How are we to react then to those who wish to keep dividing us? Dr. King, like Martin Luther King Jr and her own father A.D. King, advocates peace. Communication is the key- truly listening to one another and then actively working with one another. But what about those who say that no one is listening and so violence is the only thing that will open the government’s and people’s eyes? When asked about the response of some justifying rioting and other violence she said that people are taking MLK Jr’s quote about “rioting is the language of the unheard” out of context. She states, “Martin Luther King Jr, in that same speech when he was speaking on riots and violence, went on to say that all violence is immoral and doesn’t make sense… we need to be heard, but not with violence. We have to quickly continue to say “we hear you” and now that we hear you, let us communicate in a peaceful, sensible manner. And so we have to NOT be violent and but to work together and learn to live together as brothers and sisters and not perish together as fools- because John 3:16 “for God so love the world…” God’s not colorblind, God’s colors are magnificent!”

Working for Peace

Peace is the key. But how do we teach peace? How do our religious communities take the lead? Dr. King emphatically states, “The leaders of all faiths who acknowledge that there is a God in heaven, need to come together to teach people not to be fearful and tearful and to not panic, but to have faith to pray… to pray instead of panic and to have faith instead of fear. And as leaders do that, (and every person is the leader of him or herself and if he’s not, he’s in serious bondage)- leaders of your homes, your churches, your communities, your work, our governments- all leaders should be encouraging and not stirring up fear.”

Don’t incite fear. Don’t encourage violence. Don’t panic. Instead, pray, have faith, work alongside one another to bring about true change. Encourage one another. Simple but powerful lessons for us all.

As a mother and a youth minister I was particularly interested in what we can do to help raise the next generation to avoid the mistakes of the past and to repair the damage that the past has inflicted. Dr. King spoke eloquently when she said, “Remind these young people of their purpose and their destiny- that they have a voice and their voice comes from God; they have breath that comes from God. And even though George Floyd’s voice had been taken from him, they still have their voices and can raise them for good and unity. We have to teach our young people about God- not to fear, not to panic, but to love and to communicate, to talk… use our breath that God gives us to speak truth.”

This, of course, is not just a message for the white community, but instead for all of us. If we are truly one human race then we must all reach out to one another speaking the words of truth in love… without fear, without panic, but instead with Christ guiding our words and actions.

Conquering Sin Together

As Dr. King and I ended our conversation, I asked her if she could relay one last message to the people reading, a message that she believes God wants all of us to hear, what would it be? She responded with so much love when she said, “The Lord has said in the book of Luke, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to set the captives free”- the little babies in the womb are captives, people in jail unjustly are captive, God wants this to be a time of repentance and to understand that we are all of one human race. We need to come back to God and God will help us solve these issues together.”  With God’s help, we can be the instruments to set the captives free.

What has happened to George Floyd is unquestionably wrong and horrifying. For any person to be treated as he was can’t be justified. It has shaken us all to our core. It has been a catalyst for change (and thankfully so!).  But as Dr. King agreed, this isn’t just a police officer problem; this isn’t just a black vs white problem; this isn’t just an American problem… this is a worldwide problem. It is a problem with sin. It is a problem with the condition of our hearts. Conquer sin and we will conquer racism and every other ailment of the heart and soul. But we cannot do this without God and we cannot do this without one another.

If you would like to visit Dr. Alveda King at her website you can find it here. Additionally, she works with Priests for Life as their Executive Director of their Civil Rights for the Unborn outreach program.

Categories
Curriculum Homeschool Ink Slingers Michelle Reviews

REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY: THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION- VOLUME II- THE MEDIEVAL WORLD

As the summer was winding down and our homeschooling year was about to start, I had been thinking a lot about what subjects the kids will take and how I will teach them. We typically sit down on our first day of school (the first Tuesday after Labor Day) and as a family discuss what everyone wants to learn about. Of course there are some things that are non-negotiable… we always have math, reading, science, and history on our list. However, we talk about what else the kids may want to learn.

As eclectic homeschoolers we don’t “school” in a typical fashion. We incorporate many ways of learning into our school year. We embrace school books but we also love to allow the kids the freedom to learn hands on through everyday life experiences as well as through discovery. This may mean they are knee-deep in videos about the ocean, reading books about the ocean, playing with seashells and starfish, or going on a field trip to the aquarium or the ocean when we are lucky enough.

Still, there are times that we love to use text books as well. Typically I have never invested much into a set curriculum. This is for many reasons but one of those reasons has always been the cost. As a large family who lives on a very set (and small) budget, some of the curriculum out there is just out of our means. We tend to accept hand-me-downs on a regular basis and fill our shelves with those textbooks. So when I was asked if I would like to review TAN’s The Story of Civilization (brand new even!) I jumped at the chance. Not only do I love TAN’s books (and I have found them to be pretty reasonably priced), but I also knew that my husband, being my help with history, would love it as well.

Imagine my surprise when my package arrived… not only did I have the textbook for the curriculum but it also included a 7 cd dramatized audio book set, an activity book, a test book, the teacher’s manual, and an amazing timeline we can put up on the wall! Seriously, this curriculum has everything I need to effectively teach about how our civilization began and was transformed through the years. With children who learn in a variety of ways, this set truly could reach each and every one of them in a unique way.

FEATURES

While the first volume, The Ancient World, was reviewed by our site already, I was blessed to review both the second and third volumes- The Medieval World (Vol. II) and The Making of the Modern World (Vol. III). The textbooks are an easy read… not that they are easy in content (they have great content!) but that they are engaging and easy to follow. This isn’t always the case for a history book. If you are like me you may remember those drab, boring history books from our childhood. These are nothing like those! Thankfully so! While they engage the reader as they teach history, they also teach our Catholic faith. Highlighting Saints and their contribution to history as well as showing how the Church has been a force to build society, these texts are an amazing lesson in both secular and Church history. The texts themselves are listed as a 5-8th grade read but they can easily be read aloud and used with younger or older ages as well.

The Teacher’s Manual is awesome as it not only gives questions for review but also includes additional information as well as activities, crafts, and snack ideas. Building on this is the Activity Book. Within the Activity Book you will find print outs of maps, prayers, coloring pages, puzzles, and drawing pages. These activities all go perfectly with the chapters within the texts. While TAN states that the Activities Book is geared more towards 1st-4th grades, I can tell you that my older kids loved helping the younger ones with some of the activities. TAN has found a way to incorporate all grade levels into their curriculum to engage and inspire our students.

The Test Book is geared towards 5-8th graders and includes multiple choice, true-false, and matching questions. There are tests for every chapter and the perforated edges in the book mean you can tear out the pages to photocopy each test so you can not only have enough tests for your children now but you can also save the book for later use if you have younger children you hope to use the book for later.

The package we received came with a video lecture series code that allows you to stream all the video lectures for the series. This gives you permanent access to the lectures! For kids who learn visually or engage better through videos this is a perfect addition to the series.

Finally, the dramatized audio books are great! They are easy to take along with you in the car, pop into a cd player with headphones so a child can listen to them on their own, or so you can listen to them together. The chapters on the audio books follow along with the text but are short and engaging lessons that don’t take much time and that just about any child can listen to without getting too antsy.

I’ll be honest and tell you that while I love history and can read up on just about anything history related, my kids have never been too wild about studying history. When they saw this curriculum arrive they were excited that I got a package but then groaned when I showed them what was inside. However, since using the curriculum (we started before our school year did!) they have since changed their attitudes towards history. They love the hands on activities and listening to the audio. They like reading aloud together from the texts and the older kids don’t mind taking the tests. We have not tried out the videos but I have no doubt that they will be amazing and engage my kids in a completely different manner as well. As TAN says, “Children should not just read about history, they should live it.” This curriculum has allowed my kids to do just that.

PRICE AT THE TIME OF REVIEW

$14.95-$39.95 for individual items

$154.70 for the complete set

DETAILS AT A GLANCE

Intended for: families, anyone using schoolhouse model
Good for grades: elementary and middle school
Parent/teacher involvement level: moderate to high, depending on needs of student
Prep time: medium when used on your own
Teacher’s manual: available for purchase and used with the activity book
Educational philosophy: schoolhouse model
Catholic: yes

You can purchase all of these amazing parts of the curriculum as stand-alone products or you can purchase them as a complete set. While the school year has already begun, we want to bless one of our readers with a complete set of The Story of Civilization: The Medieval World as well as The Story of Civilization: The Making of the Modern World. This includes the textbook, the Teacher’s Manual, the Activity Manual, the Test Book, the 7 cd Dramatized Audio Book, and access to the online streaming Video Lecture Series.

If you would like the chance to win this amazing curriculum- BOTH volumes II and III of the Story of Civilization, please leave us a comment about why you would like the opportunity to win. We will randomly pick a winner on Friday September 28th.

 

DISCLOSURE AND ACCURACY OF REVIEW

Catholic Sistas was not paid to do this review – the publisher offered free materials in exchange for an honest review of this product. All reviews are current as of the publish date. If you notice that a review contains information that is no longer accurate, please email us at Homeschool@CatholicSistas.com and we will be happy to amend this review.


THE GIVEAWAY

To enter,

1) share this contest on any social media outlet, email to friends or family, or your local homeschool groups and tell us where in the comments

AND

2) answer the following question in the comments below:

“Why do you want to win the complete set of The Story of Civilization, Volume II – The Medieval World AND
The Story of Civilization, Volume III- The Making of the Modern World?”

THE LOOT

ONE lucky winner will win an ENTIRE set of The Story of Civilization – Volume II – The Medieval World as well as the ENTIRE set of The Story of Civilization- Volume III- The Making of the Modern World, which includes the textbook, test book, activity book, teacher’s manual, audio drama {CDs}, and the streaming video lecture series, and the timeline map, making this a value of $308! Good luck!

THE CONTEST IS CLOSED.

OUR WINNER IS: SARAH STECHSCHULTE 
Congratulations Sarah Stechschulte!

 

 

 

Categories
Apologetics Bible Catechism Doctrine Domestic Church Faith Formation Homeschool Ink Slingers Mary Mass Michelle Prayer Resources Reviews Websites

Catholic Brain: Learn It. Know It. Live It.


I was recently asked if I would like to review the website Catholic Brain. Intrigued by the name, and even more intrigued by the site itself, I readily agreed. I was given a user name and password and was encouraged to dig around as much as I wanted or needed. No one needed to tell me twice!

Off I went to explore and evaluate the site. As a homeschooling mother and as a catechist, I am always looking for new ways to present our beautiful Catholic faith to my children and to my students. Today’s kids love vibrant and engaging sites. There are so many websites out there clamoring for their attention that to stand out you have to really have something special. Kids want to be entertained and at the same time adults want their children (or students) to learn. Often it’s difficult to combine the two and end up with a really winning website. When you put in the extra requirement of being Catholic and teaching the faith, well, it’s even more difficult to develop a site that can step up to the challenge.

The creators of Catholic Brain have really done a great job of making this magic happen.

When you first click on the page you see that Catholic Brain’s motto is “Learn it. Know it. Live it.” The site says it hopes to transform the way we are able to teach and learn the faith. It’s easy to see that their platform provides the tools necessary to achieve this goal.

The site is very bright and engaging. It is easy to maneuver and easy to use. On the front page you can find the Mass Readings for the day, a Saint of the day, Quiz of the day, and a Summer Catechism. I loved that these are all included before you even get to the lessons, videos, music, and quizzes!

Everything offered on the site has its own button at the top of the page so that you can easily access any part of the site at any time. I think this is a great asset as sometimes kids get bored and want to move on to something else. With these easy access buttons always at the top there is no having to backpedal through tons of pages simply to get back to the beginning.

The tabs at the top consist of links to the Bible where you can find each and every book, chapter, and verse laid out in a no-fuss manner. You simply scroll to fin the book and the chapter you want, click on it and you are there knee-deep in God’s Word.

There is as Books tab that allows you to access curriculum (coming soon), parables, saint stories, and the bible. Each book can be flipped through on your own and read or you can allow the site to read it to you. I found this to be really valuable for my non-readers. Additionally, the follow along with the site is a great way to reinforce beginning readers’ skills.

The site uses the Baltimore Catechism as their basis for catechesis. On the Catechism tab you will find videos broken down by three parts- The Creed, The Commandments, and Sacraments and Prayer. There are 34 videos in this section each highlighting a teaching found in the Catechism.

There is a tab for a Dictionary that includes a plethora of Catholic terminology. The definitions are easy to understand.

The Games tab gives you access to five different kinds of games- a name match, memory match, bible order, fill in the blanks, and a word search. I found that most of these games were best for younger kids but a few would challenge kids maybe up to early middle school. Regardless, my kids had fun on them and I thought they were a great asset to the site. I have hopes that perhaps they will include games for a slightly older crowd in the future.

The Lessons tab was one of my favorites. Here as you clicked on the tab you are taken 31 different categories to choose from. Each category then includes several lessons. The categories range from the Bible, the 10 Commandments, the Four Marks of the Church and other church teachings, to how to make a good confession and then to saints and relics. Just about anything you have questions about, Catholic Brain touches on. Additionally it is here that you can download lesson plans, watch relevant videos, play games, access printables, and take quizzes.  What’s more is that you can choose the level you wish to teach at- grades 3-5 or 6-8. For each lesson, everything you need to effectively teach is included on the page. It’s great to have everything you need together in one place.

 


The Music tab is next and this was probably one of my kids’ favorite tabs to use. Here there is music from a few different sources including Brother Francis whom my kids love. Additionally there are songs for Lent, Advent, Christmas, songs about Jesus, the rosary, and particular prayers. The songs are geared towards littler children and kept my boys especially entertained.

The Printables tab has worksheets and fun activities that you can print off to supplement your work or to keep little minds and hands busy. There is anything from coloring sheets to worksheets to crossword puzzles.

The Quiz section allows you to select quizzes for your kids to take on any of the 31 different categories from the Lessons tab. They are an invaluable tool that helps you to see how well your children/students are doing with the lessons. You can choose the level that you want to quiz- either grades 3-6 or 6-8.

The Saints tab has an alphabetical listing of saints so that you can easily find the saint you are looking for. As you click on the saint you are given a life story and a chance to watch a video regarding the saint. I really liked this as some of my kids are more visual learners and respond better to videos than to just reading.

Finally, the Videos tab contains over 200 lessons from throughout the entire website. Broken down into categories it is easy to find a video on your desired topic.

The way the site is interwoven is amazing. Not only can you find specific topics by clicking on the tabs, but within each tab you find related resources to help you teach/learn more thoroughly. The creators of Catholic Brain did a fantastic job of insuring that you don’t have to go far to supplement what you are teaching or learning.

I found that the cost of the site is well worth the investment. They have three different pricing plans: Homeschoolers/Families are able to enroll up to 5 students for the cost of $12.99/month or $129/year; Classrooms can enroll up to 25 students for $29.99/month or $299/year; and Parishes or Schools can enroll an unlimited amount of students for the cost of $149/month or $1499/year.

Catholic Brain is working to provide parents and teachers with the tools necessary to pass on a solid Catholic education in a way that is engaging, interactive, and that will stick with the student. While we want to teach the faith, we also want the faith to be meaningful for our kids. I think Catholic Brain has done a great job of using technology in a way that will help the students learn and engage the faith in a fun and captivating way.

If you’d like to learn more about Catholic Brain, please visit their website. Tell them that Catholic Sistas sent you!