We are in a season where we are surrounded by continual discussion about the importance of staying healthy. Every news story, every email, every Facebook post seems to be focused on the topic of health. It has become the ultimate goal and objective of everything we do from the minute we wake up til we go to sleep.
My question to you this month is “What are we going to do with our health?” We watch what we eat, how much we exercise, what our blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are etc. Why? Just so we can “feel good?” As most of you know, our family has been in a health crisis with my husband and health has been a primary focus of our past 4 months. As we have been resting in whatever path God has prepared for us to follow, we have spent a lot of time talking about what actually is the value of health. We know God can use our lives even when we are ill for His purposes, but He also calls us to be good stewards of our bodies so we can do His work. Our lives have meaning when we dedicate ourselves to do His work. It is not enough to just “be healthy.” We need to do something with our health.
One area of possible service to God is volunteering at our school. Coastal Academy functions as a co-op program. There is a team of parent-teachers who serve as your Board of Directors and oversee our many activities but much of our programming is done by you. There are many opportunities for you to get involved and make our school what you want. Look at the article below for a partial list of needs. Please don’t hesitate to get involved! You won’t regret it! Volunteering at school will build wonderful connections and provide opportunities for making potentially life-long friends.
Please contact me or any of your board members about how you might like to “use your health for His Kingdom” by getting more involved at Coastal. We’d love to talk to you!!
“For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them.”(Ephesians 2:10)
In His service,
We are now living under the COVID-19 reality and we all have a CHOICE. How are we going to react? Are we going to choose to live in fear or in faith? The Spirit is constantly reminding me of the story of Job. It might be a good time to reread it. As you know, everything was stripped away from his life and everyone told him to lose his faith in God, but he held onto his confidence in who God is and continued to bless His name. We are in the midst of so many of our idols being stripped away – idols of health, financial security, kid’s sports, shopping freedoms, routines, even gathering together with loved ones. All we can count on is our Heavenly Father. What a sweet time to be alone with Him and focus on His truth that He loves us. We know that He can be trusted, no matter what the outcome.
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
We have a CHOICE if we are going to respond like we really believe that Scripture or if we are going to be fearful, doubt God’s goodness, and try to keep control. Are we going to be like Job’s friends and wife who scoffed at him and told him to “Curse God and die?” (Job 2:9) Or are we going to be faithful and trust our Heavenly Father both when He gives us good things and when He allows adversity? (Job 2:10)
My prayer for you as homeschooling parents is that you rise up during this time, be leaders in your home of what faith in adversity looks like, and be an example of peace to your community during uncertain times. Nothing has changed; God is still on the throne, and nothing will enter our lives that hasn’t passed through His hands first.
I pray this newsletter finds you with a peaceful heart. If you are struggling though, please know that your Coastal brothers and sisters are here for you. We are more than a school. We are the family of Christ. Please reach out. Our Mentor Parents and Board Members would love to talk with you and pray with you. Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. Do not let the doubts of the enemy creep in and let fear grab your heart.
I pray for you every day.
In His service,
There are so many names of Christ in scripture! The one that means the most to me right now during this Advent season is The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Everywhere around me I am seeing an absence of peace. I see stressed mothers and fathers worrying about their children and frantically trying to give them the “best” experiences and education. I see stressed teenagers who are crushed by a friend’s careless and thoughtless actions. I see stressed grand parents fretting over health issues and financial insecurities. And saddest of all to me are the stressed elementary age kiddos who are trying so hard to please everyone and earn their praise.
This is not the life Christ wants for us. He came as the Prince of Peace, not a little lamb of peace or snowflake of peace, but a Prince of Peace. There is power in being a prince. His peace has the power to squelch anxiety and stress – pretty powerful anti-anxiety medication.
One of the last words of Jesus to his disciples were… “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
That is a powerful statement. Jesus came on this earth to bring this special peace - a spiritual peace, a supernatural peace that has the power to transform our thinking and our lives. It has the power to take away our fears if we claim it and learn how to rest in it. When we truly understand who God is and His nature, we can relax and have His perfect peace in the midst of the challenges of this life. When we lose a job, get a difficult medical report, enter a rocky time in our marriage – we can maintain a peaceful spirit as we rest in the knowledge that God is in control and rest in the confidence that He is our good, good father.
My prayer for you this Christmas season is that you take a firm hold of this gift of peace that the Prince of Peace is offering and you share it with your families.
Peace be with you,
That seems to be the trendy word of the day. Style and design in 2019 have definitely taken a “minimalist” turn. Simple lines, few colors, and functionality have dominated interior decorating styles. Marie Kondo’s philosophy of tossing anything that doesn’t “bring joy” has spread far and wide. Fashion and cosmetic trends are also reflecting this minimalist influence. Basic colors prevail with a distinct absence of frills and fluff.
So with this emphasis on simplicity and the elimination of anything extra and unnecessary, why is everyone still running around stressed giving the standard answer of “So busy!” when asked how they are? It seems families have packed every minute of their week with some critical activity that they just can’t possibly cancel. Dinners are eaten in the car in between events. Weekends are scheduled weeks if not months ahead and no time exists for impromptu gatherings. No one dares call a friend for fear of interrupting some special event, so brief text messages have become the common mode of communication.
Is this what God wants for us? Is this “busyness” the pattern that the Lord wants for our time? Does it leave time for us to hear His voice? Does it give our children opportunities to learn how to make decisions about time management? Or does it keep our eyes so focused on the GPS that we miss the gorgeous colors of the sunset? Does it keep our schedule so tight that the thought of taking dinner over to a sick friend, becomes a huge burden and annoyance?
My understanding from Scripture is that the Lord wants us to simplify, focus on the things that He values, and leave the rest up to Him. . As the school year starts, I would encourage you to take a good hard look at the activities you are adding into your schedule and evaluate whether they are the “best” use of your time or only a “good” use of your time. Many things which you can choose to be involved in are “good,” but have you prioritized your calendar for those activities which are the “best” use of your time? Filling your lives with so much “busyness” keeps you blind to other things God might be calling you to. Filling your lives with “busyness” keeps your eyes on worldly goals and accomplishments and takes them off of Jesus.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
If you follow the “pattern of this world,” you will be very busy and your eyes will be taken off God’s best for your lives. You are in charge of what extras you add to your lives. You are in charge of whether you plan downtime into your family’s day. You are in charge of whether you put God’s priorities first over worldly goals and aspirations.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:22
So let’s start applying that “minimalist” trend to our calendars this fall!
Christ tells us to come to him like little children (Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17, Matthew 18:4).
At this time of year when we are so focused on making plans to help our children grow and develop, I think it is interesting that Christ challenges us to become like little children. What does that mean? Does that mean it is ok for us to be irresponsible and self-focused as little children? Does that mean it is ok to not want to share or to focus on how “life isn’t fair?” I propose that there are a couple of other child-like qualities that I think Jesus is referring to, that we would do well to adopt during this new school year.
Trusting – A young child is instinctively very trusting of the adults around them. They innocently trust that Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa love them and are going to take care of them and provide them with food and shelter. We would do well to come to our Heavenly Father with the same open and innocent trust. What freedom there is in trusting that God knows best and that nothing enters our lives that hasn’t gone through His hands first! There is no need to worry and fret about the school year ahead. He is right there with you and will equip you to be the teacher your child needs!
Teachable spirit – A young child is naturally curious and wants to learn everything about their world. They ask questions non-stop. What if we let down our “know-it-all” attitude and came to our Father with a hunger and eagerness to learn new truths from Him? Humility is at the foundation of growth. Scripture tells us “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (Psalm 25:9)
As the gift of this new school year approaches, I’d like to encourage you to stop being “so grown up” for a moment and think about how transformational it might be for you to become more like a child this year. Ask the Lord to help you develop the trusting faith of a child and an open teachable spirit. I think you’ll find that it will not only have a huge impact on your relationship with Him, but also with your family and community.
Let’s be kids together this year!
In His service,
Our church is finishing up an 8 week read through of the books of Judges through 2 Kings. We have just been reading about when Solomon asked God asked for Wisdom. It got me thinking….what should I be asking God for? What should I encourage our Coastal families to ask for? I decided that we would all do well to follow Solomon’s example and ask God for wisdom on a daily basis.
What does it mean to seek wisdom? Wisdom has two basic connotations. At first thought, we think wisdom means a vast amount of knowledge. Upon deeper thought though, the word wisdom implies using that vast amount of knowledge to make well thought out decisions. We, as parents and especially as homeschool parents, need to be seeking both aspects of this widely sought after quality. We know from scripture that God put a high priority on the role of parents and we see how often children suffered at the hands of unwise and ungodly parents. If we are to take our job as parents seriously, we should be begging God for wisdom daily.
To be a life-long learner requires humility. It requires a clear understanding of our imperfect nature and limited knowledge. It requires a clear understanding of our desperate need for a savior. It demands that we run from the trap of becoming prideful . Proverbs is full of warnings against pride and its detriment to obtaining wisdom.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2)
A prideful arrogant parent will be the destruction of their family. This will result in a hardened unteachable spirit which resists godly counsel for course correction. It causes a parent to oppose seeking advice when they enter a new stage of parenting thinking they know it all already. A prideful arrogant person while not being able to see the sin in their own lives often becomes a fault finder in others. Jesus warns us about that danger with his comments about removing the plank in our own eye in Matthew 7. The children suffer from living with this kind of harsh spirit. A child of an arrogant parent grows up feeling insecure and unloved knowing they can never measure up to receive their parent’s approval. And worse yet, they aren’t taught to go to their Heavenly Father and miss the blessings of His protection and love.
My prayer for us this month is that we follow Solomon’s example and seek wisdom from the Lord and avoid this warning:
“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” (Psalm 10:4)
In His service,
Who would have thought that those chalky tasting pieces of candy would be in the news so much this year?! People seem so upset that they won’t be able to buy the Necco brand of the little Valentine Sweetheart Conversation Hearts for the first time since 1886! It got me to thinking about what makes them so special??? Why are they such a special tradition over M&M’s or even See’s candy??…… It’s the words on them!
Words. They are very powerful! God used them in the creation of the world. He chose them to be the means of communicating with mankind. And He gave them to us as a beautiful way of communicating with each other. A carefully crafted sentence with rich vocabulary can communicate in ways that non-verbal communication never can. As the mother of a non-verbal autistic son who has never uttered a word in his 24 years of life, I have learned how precious the gift of communication with words is. Don’t get me wrong, I treasure the deep eye contact he gives me where it feels like he can see straight through to my soul and his habit of leaning in with his forehead to touch mine with his and I know that is his way of saying how important I am to him. But to be honest, I long to be able to communicate with him in words – to hear him describe his thoughts and dreams. How precious that will be when we are together in eternity!
Perhaps it is my experience with Nicky that fills me with such grief when I hear spouses share harsh words of irritation with each other or a parent speak crushing criticisms to their child. Words are a beautiful gift and as so many verses in Proverbs tell us, they have amazing power to build up, and the deadly potential to destroy.
Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 18:20 “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”
Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
My intention is not to do an exhaustive Bible study about how we are to use words, but just to cause you during this Valentine month where we are focusing on how to share love with others, to stop and weigh your words carefully. Ask yourself if they will be edifying and loving or if they are rooted in a selfish desire to just “say what you want to say.” Harsh and cruel words can never be retracted. As James 3:8 tells us “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Thankfully, we as believers have the help of the Holy Spirit to get control of the things we say. We CAN have victory!
Think about those candy hearts. Think about the pain of receiving one that said “U R STUPID” instead of one that said “U R SPECIAL.” Let’s give out loving candy hearts this month to our friends and family in the form of beautiful loving words and throw the mean selfish ones away!
In His service,
“Don’t touch that!” “Wash your hands!” “Cover your mouth when you cough!” How many times have you said those things the past few months as we have been dealing with the start of the winter cold season? We are always so focused on keeping our kids from getting around any kinds of germs that are contagious!
Here’s a new thought for the New Year! How about deliberately exposing your kids (and yourselves) to contagious situations?! Sounds crazy, right? I remember when my oldest was little, we deliberately exposed him to our friend’s child who had chicken pox, so we could get it over with while he was younger and it wasn’t as dangerous (yes, I’m that old that we didn’t have chicken pox vaccines back then!) As you approach the new year, what about intentionally exposing your children to some positive contagious attitudes?
What attitude do you want your children to “catch” this year?
Want them to have a more grateful spirit? Look for potential friends for your children whom you have seen be appreciative for their blessings and not demanding and whiny.
Want to see your kids demonstrate a more compassionate heart for their siblings? Invite a family over from your church whom you have seen giving to others in need even when they are struggling themselves.
Want them to be excited about learning? Consider your attitude about learning new things. You know your kids spend more time with you than anyone else. Are you excited about learning new things and seeking out new books to read? Are you sharing with them your wonder of God’s creation when you go on a nature walk and you see some new plant or new cloud formation in the sky? Are you seeking to surround yourself with people who inspire you to learn more so that you can in turn inspire your children to learn more?
Do you want your kids to be filled with peace and an ability to conquer anxiety? Provide opportunities for your children to be stretched with responsibilities that are just a bit out of reach and don’t protect them every minute. Give them room to fail, so they can “catch” the attitude that God is still in control in their lives even in the tough times. Share with them about the struggles you are going through and how God is filling your heart with peace.
As we know, our role as parents is very influential! God gave us a very important job. The question shouldn’t be “Am I contagious?” but “Am I spreading germs that I want my child to catch?” In the New Year, take a look in the mirror and make sure that you are showing attitudes that you want your children to “catch.” If you are aren’t exhibiting a positive contagious spirit, take to heart the words of Paul to the Corinthians:
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.”
(1 Corinthians 11:1-2)
Let’s spread a “Christ-like Flu” in 2019!
In His service,
Christmas! That word brings so many beautiful happy thoughts!! Sparkling lights! Beautiful gifts! Happy family gatherings! Fireplaces! Delicious food! Surprise gifts! Music that touches the heart! Love!!
What would be the impact on this precious holiday if we put “Give Grace” at the top of our Gift List? That is my prayer for you this month. We always want other people to show us grace, give us the benefit of the doubt, and forgive us when we are selfish or careless. What if we led the way by following Christ’s example and made a conscious effort to extend grace to others this season? Wouldn’t our world be a more peaceful and loving place? Think about it! Instead of jumping to the conclusion that someone meant to be rude to us, or someone meant to take us for granted, or someone was deliberately trying to hurt our feelings – what if we stopped ourselves from assuming the worst? What if we stopped thinking about ourselves and our hurt feelings and instead asked the other person who we think has done us some wrong how they are and what they are struggling with? What if we extended them the same grace that we always want others to show to us? Christ calls us to love everyone and show them grace and forgiveness.
"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:15
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13
How beautiful it is to see children who have been brought up with a spirit of grace and I get to witness them showing grace and forgiveness to others instead of being self-focused and getting their feelings hurt at the drop of a hat. My heart is so warmed and encouraged when I am able to observe a child reduce their focus on "fairness" and "justice" and put a higher focus on love and forgiveness! We, as parents have a huge responsibility to teach our children about God's grace, the beautiful free gift the Lord gives us that we don't deserve!
When we fully grasp our fallen nature and God’s amazing love and mercy for us, how can we possibly withhold grace and be critical of others? That is the true beauty of Christmas! God loves us so very much that He sent Jesus at Christmas to save us from our sinful selves. How can we hold onto that and claim it for ourselves and not pass it on to others around us?
I am praying that you wrap up a big dose of “Grace” and give it to everyone on your list this year!
In His service,
The holidays!! Like it or not, they are almost here. We are moving into a time of Thanksgiving, where we will all be preparing for the annual conversation around the Thanksgiving dining table about what we are each thankful for. I would like to propose to you that a big part of developing a thankful spirit in our children comes from making serving others a priority for them.
A heart for service can be seen in a 4 year old’s life and a 44 year old’s life. It can be seen in a busy person’s life or a retired person’s life. In other words, we are all called to have hearts of service.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
This is not in our nature, nor is it encouraged by our society. Our nature is to seek to satisfy our own desires and to put them before the needs of others. Society tells us that we are to “watch out for #1” and to “love yourself.” It is not an automatic thing for us to put our desires aside and sacrificially do something for someone else.
Our children need to be taught the character trait of serving. You have to be intentional about this. Be looking for opportunities to serve others either as individuals or as a family. Here is one of those very important times as a parent to lead by example. If you are regularly coming a few minutes early to events and offering to help set up or staying late to help clean up, your children will grow up to think that is normal. If you are frequently making a double serving of dinner and taking the extra to a shut-in neighbor, it will be normal for your children to make up a batch of cookies to take over to them also.
By sacrificially doing things for others and spending time with other people who are less fortunate than themselves, children are more likely to develop a thankful spirit or have an “Attitude of Gratitude.” And when we obey our Heavenly Father’s command to “serve one another humbly in love,” we will be blessed. Let’s not undermine our children’s potential of receiving God’s blessings by not teaching them about service.
At Coastal, we feel pretty passionate about this and that is why a few years ago we adopted our Community Service Hours program. Our high school students are required to complete a minimum of 25 hours/year of community service and students of all ages are encouraged to participate in the Presidential Service Awards program and receive recognition at Graduation. It is a tool for you to use to help you in teaching your children the principle of Galatians 5:13.
This year, may your Thanksgiving celebration be all the richer because everyone around your table has a heart of service as well as of gratitude.
Giving thanks for you,
This is a collection of the reflections our principal, Susan Truman submits to our monthly newsletters. She is married to her college sweetheart and is a mother of three. She graduated two of her children from Coastal with her third child attending a special needs school.