Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

When God Writes a Check

The Washington Post recently ran an article called Stimulus to help retool education, Duncan says.  The author quoted Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the potential effects of the stimulus bill. Duncan's point was that money doesn't automatically fix a broken system, but here's what he said:
"'D.C. has had more money than God for a long time, but the outcomes are still disastrous,' Duncan said in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters."
More money than God. 

Huh. I imagine it's been a while since God stopped by the bank to check on His savings account. 

Then, although the statement made me laugh, it also got me thinking. 

How often does a similar assumption underly our thinking? --that somehow God's work in our lives is limited by slips of paper printed with the faces of dead presidents. That He gets a little worried about His plan when He looks at the latest stock market figures. "Hey, I might have to make some cutbacks in My outreach this year, at least until this recession slides over..."

It is very hard not to think about money these days. We're always called to make hard choices, and the insecurity of financial worries makes those decisions even harder. Like most of us, I need to be reminded that our God is much bigger and more powerful than the economy.

Consider this quote from C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity:
"One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give and so fail to realise your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God." 
He is still on His throne. We might not be, but then again, were we ever?

Maybe instead of relegating God to an office on Wall Street, we should be asking what kind of capital He deals in, and how we can contribute our labors to His fund: I've heard the stability is great, and the return on investment is out of this world...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 3-25-09

In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 3/25/09, "Leigh for Lunch with Mike Smith." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now). 

  • Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (April 1) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Pam Lopes. Pam is a Challenge A director and program manager in Classical Conversations, and she will be sharing the way the Lord has worked in her life through her recent fight against breast cancer

  • If you have a legal concern or want to know more about HSLDA, visit their website. Join online today to take advantage of a 3-month free trial membership offer!
  • Read and share your thoughts on President Obama's Zero to Five Plan.
  • High school students thinking about college? Take a look at Patrick Henry College in VA. PHC is one of very few colleges that do not accept federal funding.
  • Are you concerned about parental rights in the U.S.? Visit for more information. For more about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, or to read the text of the convention, click here. Curious why the UNCRC would affect U.S. law so strongly? See Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Read more about pioneers of the home schooling movement John Holt and Dr. Raymond Moore.

  • Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Don't Forget! Leigh and Mike Smith of HSLDA

    Don't forget to listen to Blog Talk Radio tomorrow (Wed, March 25) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Mike Smith, president of HSLDA. Click here to go directly to the show.

    Register as a "friend" to be eligible for prizes!

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Mike Smith of HSLDA on Leigh! for Lunch

    This Wednesday (March 25, noon EST) on Leigh! for Lunch, I'll be talking to attourney Mike Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), about some of the legal questions facing home schoolers today. 

    I'm just one person, and so is Mike, but these questions affect thousands of people. Since many of you are "home schoolers today," I need your help! 
    • How do you think home schoolers should handle legal issues? 
    • How should we relate to the government? 
    • How far should parents push to safeguard their rights
    • How do you search for intelligent life when government gets in the way?
    Share your thoughts, concerns, and questions on Leigh! for Lunch. Tune in Wednesday at 12 EST to chat or call in with your questions for Mike. If you can't listen live, submit your questions as a comment here, or email them directly to me. (Click here to link to the show.)

    Tell your friends!!!

    To get the questions flowing, check out a few of Mike's latest articles in the Washington Times:

    # # #

    HSLDA (founded in 1983) is "a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed."

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    Don't miss Leigh! for Lunch next Wednesday, March 25 at 12 noon EST. Leigh will be talking to Mike Smith, president of HSLDA, about the legal issues facing home schoolers today. Tell your friends! 

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Whaddya mean, "Smart"?

    As I mentioned yesterday on Blog Talk Radio, I was thinking the other day about why I use the phrase "1 smart ____" so much, and that led me to remember where the phrase first came from. 

    When I moved to the South, I didn't use the word "smart" all that often. In the North, the word "smart" is not an adjective you use unless you're describing intelligence or something academic. 

    One day, when Robert and John were 10 and 12 years old, they were outside with hatchets cutting down a 40-foot tall magnolia tree. As I was watching, I saw my neighbor coming over. She was a very southern lady in her eighties, had always lived here. I was thinking she was going to call Social Services on me for making my boys climb a tree and cut it down!

    Well, she came over and talked to the boys, and then she looked at me and said, "Your boys are so smart!" 

    I thought, "How does cutting down a tree make my boys smart?" I just could not connect the meaning of "smart" to what my Southern neighbor was saying. Eventually I realized that she was using the word "smart" as an adjective to mean "good!" The neighbor was complimenting the boys on being good to their mother!!!! 

    I found in the South people would say "smart" to mean anything positive, a job well done, most of the time with nothing academic attached to it. 

    Now, I'm settling in as a Southern lady, and I tell everyone they are "SMART"!

    When I say people are smart, I really do mean they can do all things, whether it's chopping down a tree, or studying Latin, or teaching yourself logic and then teaching it to your children the next day. 

    And so when I say, "Have one smart day" and that we're searching for intelligent life, I'm just trying to encourage folks and let them know that you too can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. 

    You're probably just as brain-damaged as I am and have as many problems and issues as I do, and yet we just can't give up, we have to keep encouraging each other in everything we do, not just academics.

    So I really hope you have "one smart day" as you keep on with the hard work of capturing every thought and deed to Christ! You can do it!


    FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 3-18-09

    In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 3/18/09, "Leigh for Lunch with Kate Deddens." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now).

    • Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (March 25) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Mike Smith. Mike is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Leigh will be talking with him about the legal issues facing families who choose to home school.

    • Ligonier Ministries' Tabletalk magazine, which was this week's prize to two registered listeners, is available for purchase here.
    • To register for academic testing, parent practicums and academic camps, or student intensives, visit Classical Conversations Books
    • To find out more about Ted Deddens' miniatures business, visit
    • St. John's College is a classical college that focuses on the Great Conversations. Other colleges that approach classical learning from a Christian standpoint include New Saint Andrews College, St. Olaf College, and Wheaton College.
    • For information about Governor's School in your state (availability and access to homeschoolers), visit the national website.
    • To find out more about the International Baccalaureate program, visit their website.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Don't Forget! Leigh and Kate Deddens

    Don't forget to listen to Blog Talk Radio tomorrow (Wed, March 18) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Kate Deddens. Click here to go directly to the show.

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    1 Smart Mama and Kate Deddens

    Home schooling parents don't want to miss Leigh! for Lunch this Wednesday (March 18 @ 12 noon EST). Leigh will be talking with Kate Deddens, an outstanding mom and wife. Go to to listen.

    Kate has been 'officially teaching' in her family's Classical Christian Homeschool for a decade, but she knows that all homeschooling truly begins at birth (and all parents homeschool in some fashion whether they recognize it or not).

    She homeschools at the rhetoric level with her high school junior daughter, at the grammar-going-on-logic stage with her fifth grade daughter, and at the grammar stage with her second grade son and one year old son.

    Kate has been enormously blessed during this academic year as Director of a Classical Conversations' Foundations program in Owensboro, Kentucky. In addition to her husband and children, Kate helps care for her 84 year old mother-in-law (diagnosed with dementia and bedridden) who lives in the home with Kate's family.

    Kate is active in her Missouri Synod Lutheran Church congregation, and has a passion for her faith, Classical Christian education, homeschooling, good literature, music, and fellowship, writing, traveling, and being a Mom.

    Kate and her husband Ted celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary last summer. Ted designs, sculpts and manufactures his own handmade line of military miniatures ( They also operate a military miniatures, toys, and books shop in downtown Owensboro, Kentucky.

    Ted and Kate relocated to Kentucky fifteen years ago from Annapolis, Maryland, where they had both graduated with BAs from the St. John's College Great Books Program.

    Before committing to homeschooling her children when her eldest was six, Kate worked in a variety of fields (a librarian, a freelance writer and editor, in financial consulting, in management for an international building products corporation, and in counseling) and earned an MA in Mental Health Counseling from Western Kentucky University.

    Kate was born in Tehran, Iran, the sixth child in an American Presbyterian missionary family.

    To join the conversation, log in to chat or call in with your questions for Kate. Don't forget to register as a friend on Blog Talk Radio to be eligible for prizes!

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 3-11-09

    In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 3/11/09, "Leigh for Lunch with Focus on the Family's Dr. George Wiedmaier." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now).

    • Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (March 18) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Kate Dedden. Kate is a CC Director in Kentucky, and she'll be sharing what her day-to-day journey as a home school mom looks like. Be sure to tune in!
    • Register now for a CC *free* summer Parent Practicum!
    • For more information about Parenting Outreach at Focus on the Family, visit
    • Here are 52 *free* "mealtime moments" devotions for families, as mentioned on the show.
    • For Christian parenting resources through the Focus on the Family bookstore, click here.
    • CitizenLink article: Focus CEO hails MTV poll that finds families matter
    • More information about Jeff Myers' book Handoff: The Only Way to Win the Race of Life or his ministry, Passing the Baton International, is available here.

    Today! Leigh & Dr. George Wiedmaier

    Don't miss Leigh! for Lunch TODAY (Wed, March 11) at 12 noon EST, when I'll be talking to Dr. George Wiedmaier of Focus on the Family

    Click here to go directly to the show, or go to and click on the episode title.

    Dr. George Wiedmaier is the new Parenting Outreach Director for Focus on the Family. In addition to bringing a passion for the centrality and importance of parenting in our culture, he brings a unique, rich and intimate knowledge of parenting.

    He and his wife served as surrogate parents to 42 children and youth of poverty from urban NYC, Philadelphia, rural Pennsylvania, California, Washington and other regions of the U.S.

    Some of the daily activities included teaching academic enrichment programs, social skills curriculums, character education modules, daily devotions and personal health programs while modeling and living with school age youth as their surrogate parents.

    Dr. Wiedmaier received his master’s in Counseling from Alfred University and received his doctoral degree from the NOVA Southeastern University. His dissertation and research interest have surrounded parental education programs. 

    His doctoral work delivered an extensive qualitative description of parents increasing personal awareness of their parenting style’s efficacy in motivating individual youth. As the work concentrated on surrogate parents, an emphasis and passion of his work resides in the topic of breaking the cycle of poverty and disadvantage through the medium of surrogate parenting.

    Dr. Wiedmaier lives in Colorado Springs with his wife Allysia and two daughters. This is an episode of BlogTalkRadio with 1SmartMama that you WILL NOT WANT TO MISS!

    Call or log into the chatroom to share your questions and join the conversation! Don't forget to register as a friend on Blog Talk Radio to be eligible for prizes. (Click here to find out how).

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Response to "What Should Johnny Learn"

    (See this article from USA Today)
    Dear USA TODAY,

    Per the USA Today article by Greg Toppo on “What Should Johnny Learn”, I know both the “skills” and the “core” advocates should consider the success of classical educators. We expect young students to master core content by emphasizing the skills of reading words, writing words, and ciphering words. Then we teach our middle school students how to parse languages, debate current events, and mind their “Ps and Qs” in formal logic studies. These critical thinking skills are taught to 13-year-olds who already read well, are eager to spar over big ideas, and have the vocabulary to do so.

    In high school, we focus on memorizing even larger amounts of vocabulary, expand our studies into the realms of philosophy and science, and learn to defend universal truths through copious amounts of writing and public speaking. We give our youth lots of content to master from the great classical conversations of history, demand proficiency in algebra and formal logic to develop clear reasoning skills, and expect students to prove they can synthesize a broad range of seemingly unrelated topics into a coherent essay or speech.

    Even though half of American 12th graders are illiterate, educational leaders are unwilling to admit the failure of post-modern schools that cater to students’ interests rather than demand the hard work that inspires a love of learning. Since social ‘nitwitting’ has replaced reading as our youths’ primary leisure activity, schools are only funding more illiteracy by encouraging time on computers. Replacing technology with a pen and paper saves money and requires students to develop ‘skills’ using ‘core’ content.


    Leigh Bortins

    CEO, Classical Conversations, Inc.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Being Classically Excellent

    Sporting a Christian bumper sticker takes a lot of courage, I think, especially if, like me, you have a tendency to be impatient. That's one reason I've never bought one. 

    But being a Christian writer, filmmaker, doctor, teacher, employee, or parent takes courage too. Like it or not, our work reflects on our declaration of faith. Dorothy Sayers said, "God is not served by technical incompetence; and incompetence and untruth always result when the secular vocation is treated as a thing alien to religion..."(1)

    We're not called to be perfect (thank goodness!), but we are called to give Him our best (Matt. 25:14-30). We're called to excellence in all things. 

    The classical model gives us the tools. We learn the language and skills of our trade; we engage with ideas and people smarter than we are; and then we have to decide how to use our expertise.

    Because what can also happen is something more dangerous than neglecting excellence. We forget the great purpose we have been given. We have the missing piece, the answer to the question "why?". Our work can glorify God and invite other people to know Him. It is not empty, void, or meaningless. It is done "coram deo," before the face of God. 

    It's a responsibility, to be sure, but it's also an amazing opportunity. 

    Who knows? Maybe I'll even buy a Christian bumper sticker one of these days, just to remind me that the call to excellence isn't limited to the classroom. 

    What about you? How does faith affect your pursuit of excellence?

    Because everyday events can be classical opportunities too... 

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 3-4-09

    In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 3/4/09, "Leigh for Lunch! with Rea Berg of Beautiful Feet Books." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now).

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Don't Forget! Leigh and Rea Berg

    Don't forget to listen to Blog Talk Radio tomorrow (Wed, March 4) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Rea Berg of Beautiful Feet Books. Click here to go directly to the show.

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    Leigh and Rea Berg of Beautiful Feet Books

    Just announced!

    This week on Leigh! for Lunch, tune in to BlogTalkRadio to join the conversation with Leigh and Rea Berg of Beautiful Feet Books.

    Rea Berg and her husband, Russ, have been serving the homeschool community since 1984 when they formed Beautiful Feet Books. In addition to providing “living books” to homeschool families, Rea has authored many of the best-selling Beautiful Feet Study Guides. A homeschool mom of six, she is completing her master’s degree in children’s literature.

    To join the conversation with Rea, listen to Leigh! at Lunch on Wednesday, March 4 at 12 noon EST. Go to and register as a friend to be eligible for the weekly giveaway.

    Call or chat in during the show, or email in your questions beforehand. You can also listen to the archived show about 15 minutes after it goes off the air.

    Click here for the direct link to the show.