Rejoice Always

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Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:4-7 NASB

Rejoice in the Lord

“Rejoice in the Lord always”, this is one of those commands in Scripture that can often leave us feeling a bit conflicted. We all have times that we definitely do not feel like rejoicing, and yet we are called to rejoice always. How do you rejoice when the baby kept you up all night, you wake hazily to a sink full of dishes and energetic children bursting at the seems ready to start the day? How do you rejoice when your best friend betrays you? How do you rejoice when someone you love deeply dies? How do you rejoice when you’ve been pouring your heart and soul into homemaking and homeschooling ,and then someone criticizes your efforts and says they aren’t good enough or points out all your failures? How do you rejoice when you are sick or in pain? How do you rejoice when your child is suffering?

There are many circumstances in life that we will not at all feel like rejoicing in, but the the Scripture does not say rejoice in your circumstances; instead it calls us to rejoice “in the Lord” and “always” because the Lord is always something to be rejoicing in! The goodness, majesty, and love of the Lord are constant and never-ending. There are good moments in life, but they end. There are moments when we encounter majesty in creation, music, art, or photography, but those moments end as well. There are moments when our marriage, motherhood, and friendships are flourishing and filled with love, but even those things are not constant either. Sin and death taint this world we are living in, but we can rejoice in Jesus Christ, the one who conquered sin and death and all the effects that flow from them. Perhaps in those deepest moments of longing and pain, that is where we can rejoice in Him the most; when the parts of life that bring us joy are stripped away and we find that He is the sweetest, purest, never-ending source of joy.

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A Gentle Spirit

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. (vs 5) In the ESV it says “reasonableness”. I think the two words in both translations can give us a good idea of what is meant here. I have little girls, 5 of them, and I’m a girl so maybe I’ve seen this in myself a time or two…. (ahem); it is really evident when emotions are ruling the day. When you see it in yourself or another, it is absolutely undeniable…. the person is anything but gentle or reasonable. They tend to be fretful, harsh, negative, whiny, overly sensitive. But the woman whose heart is rejoicing in Christ is not looking to her circumstances for peace and joy. She has a certain calmness of spirit about her. She is not panicked or complaining, she isn’t up late fretting over what may have happened or what might happen in the future. She’s resting in Christ and knowing that no matter what life sends her way Jesus will be hers to cherish and enjoy from now until eternity, and that is more than enough. She takes great comfort in knowing that her trials and challenges are only for her good and His glory, they were given by the sovereign hands of a loving Father. And this heart posture is so clear to all who come in contact with her: the ones who see her inside the four walls of her home and the ones who only know her in passing. There is a sweet confidence that is evident in her…. not a confidence that she has in herself, but a confidence that she has in the Lord who is in her and who is greater than the trials and evil in the world.

Be Anxious for Nothing

Be anxious for nothing. (vs 6a) Be anxious for nothing, is that a tall order or what?! How many of you worry about things? This is a battle I personally have to fight. I can allow myself to become worried about my children, or about what others think of me, or about my health, or about how I’m going to be able to “do everything I need to do”.  And that is not okay. I have to repent of those things and focus my heart back on the Lord and what is true. Our anxiousness is truly a sin that we must repent of! I know it may at times seem like something we can’t help, but that is a lie. We can take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, we have the Holy Spirit in is and we have the Word of God that says we can walk in victory. This anxiousness is actually a bigger problem than we might even see on the surface, it says something…. it says, “I don’t trust you God! I don’t trust your wisdom, I don’t trust your sovereignty, and I don’t trust your power.” This is why it is so important for us to repent of. I have many times found myself saying, “Lord, please forgive me for not trusting in Your power and plan in this situation”, and I’m so thankful that the we Jesus is our advocate with the Father when we do sin, He is so gracious to forgive us and restore us. And He will also give us victory! He will strengthen our faith when we ask Him too. Truly anxiousness is a lack of faith. We may believe that His wisdom, sovereignty, and power are trustworthy with our lips and minds; but our actions and responses say more about what we believe than our ability to affirm a truth.

Compared with our actual thoughts our credal statements are of little consequence. -A.W. Tozer

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Prayer

So what can we do when we are feeling anxious, scared, or worried? In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (vs 6b)  “In everything” tells us that God cares about all parts of our lives, big and small! There is no request that is unimportant to Him and there is nothing that is impossible for Him! He really wants for us to bring our burdens and cares to Him! This is such a comfort and joy in and of itself, that our Lord as majestic and powerful as He is would care for us on such individual levels.

And we can’t miss this, as we present our prayers and supplications to Him, there is a key component within our requests which is thanksgiving! We should be giving thanks to Him for the things He has already done, for the current trial which is shaping us to be more like Him, and for the wonderful work that we know and expect that He may do in response to our calling upon Him.

A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint… It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian. -C. H. Spurgeon

Prayer is so important. Prayer changes everything! We know that God is sovereign, but we can’t be so fixated on God’s sovereignty that we neglect His command for us to bring all things to Him in prayer! Does He know the outcome? Yes. Does He know our need before it ever leaves our lips in prayer to Him? Yes. Did the Holy Spirit through Paul say ‘in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God’? why yes, He did. God does not contradict Himself! If He said pray, then we better pray, don’t you think? I sometimes think about how Jesus knowing full well that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead for His glory wept. He was right in the moment, mourning with those who mourned. He is with us in our moments of need as a comforter and friend. Does He have a plan? Absolutely. But is He a present help in time of need? Absolutely. Prayer is so key to overcoming anxiety and to rejoicing always. There is a hymn that I absolutely love, “Dear Refuge of my Weary Soul” ,if you have never heard it, then I highly encourage giving it a listen, especially if you are walking through a difficult trial. In this song Anne Steele writes such a beautiful truth in response to the Lord’s sovereignty and pouring out our hearts before Him:

“Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourner’s prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there.”

He attends the mourner’s prayer, that is so sweet to me! This just draws my heart to pray all the more.

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The Peace of God

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(vs 7) We have an inner peace and tranquility that is based on unwavering confidence that God is able and willing to do what is best for His children. This peace will surpass understanding, it will transcend what our human minds can comprehend. This peace will guard our hearts and minds from fear and anxiety! We have Christ and He is our peace, what more could anyone ask for or need than this great treasure that we have in Him! I find for myself that if I will take my eyes off of myself and my little world around me and lift them up to Jesus, offer praises of adoration to Him, look in the Scripture to see who His Word says He is and then pray to Him and praise Him for it, and think on it all through the day (even just one verse or attribute!) it brings a peace surpasses human logic. We will still walk through difficult times filled with tears and prayers of supplication, but we will have this peace that keeps our hearts steady even in the valleys, trenches, and steep paths of life.

He that hath Christ, being a pauper, hath all things; and he that hath not Christ, possessing a thousand worlds, possesses nothing for real happiness and joy. -C.H. Spurgeon

Hope you have a great week ladies!

In Christ,

S

for your further pursuit

  • This book, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” is excellent and is free at Chapel Library. , also in that link is a booklet with a collection of writings from men such as Jonathan Edwards, RC Ryle, AW Pink, and others on the topic of contentment. At Chapel Library you can get a copy sent in the mail or get an ebook copy right away… both are free! Such a cool ministry in general so definitely check them out if you haven’t ever before.
  • This book by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth (affiliate link)
  • This sermon by Albert Martin: “Make Me to Hear Joy and Gladness: That My Broken Bones May Rejoice” 

The Nina and Pinta Tour : Field Trip Review

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We recently had the pleasure of touring two Columbus replica ships with our local Classical Conversations community. This was such a wonderful experience for us! Also, it was a great way to bring a bit more life to the age of exploration which is a part of the CC timeline and Cycle 2 memory work sentences.

The Nina and Pinta Tour

The ships are actually the most historically accurate replicas of the Columbus ships. More information about these ships and their schedule can be found here at thenina.com. They travel for about 10 months out of the year, and visit 30 to 40 locations around the U.S. You can check their schedule here to see if they will be in or close to your area. It was so cool to step on board and get a more real sense of what it must have been like to be on one of those ships sailing across the ocean.

We had a great tour guide who explained how many of the ships parts worked, how they navigated at that time, and many other interesting details. Below are some highlights of this adventure.

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We had a great time and we will be looking for these ships to come back through our area again!

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Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria Learning Activities

This is the Columbus book we have been reading and enjoying. (aff link, click pic below) It’s a paperback childrens’ chapter book with many great pictures and tid-bits of information.

And here are a few fun artistic ideas to further expand on this field trip.  One for my bigs and one for my littles. 

(These images belong to the sites linked below, they are not my own.)

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Learn to draw this May Flower Ship here at Art Projects for Kids. This website is very cool by the way, so many great art ideas!

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For the younger kiddos this hand print ship is adorable! I actually did this with my bigger girls when they were 4 and 5 and they loved it! So I’m planning to do it again with my littles. This amazing idea is from The Fryman Family blog.

nina and pinta

When Homeschooling is Hard

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Maybe it’s just me, but when the kids are asleep at night or I’m away from them for one reason or another, I begin to think about homeschooling in a very romanticized way. I start planning these wonderful times we will have together, or exciting activities that I just know we will all do so joyfully and peacefully. It will be wonderfully picturesque just like an instagram feed or a pinterest board! And then I go home or they wake up: I try said activity or plans and it turns out to be more like pulling teeth. A baby starts crying, a toddler gets into the art supplies and writes on the walls, an older child is asserting that she would much rather listen to an audio book or play outside. And I am once again reminded of our current reality, what a huge gap there is between the way things often are and the way I wish they would be. I must once again humbly submit my heart to the Lord to embrace this current season and cultivate what He is giving me right now.

Take morning time for example; I have heard other homeschool moms share about their lovely and lengthy morning times with their children. I try it, and well, it’s not so lovely. I do sometimes dream of the days when our morning time is peaceful, conversational, and even worshipful as we sing hymns together and read through Scripture and chapter books and discuss deep things together. And those days will (hopefully) come when these children are older and the fruit of my efforts in these early years will (Lord willing, by His grace) come to bear…. But the reality is in this season we have three children 3 and under, a baby on the way (which equals a pretty tired mama), and a 7 and 8 year old who both still have lots of childhood energy. In all honesty morning time is one of our most difficult times of the day. We sing our hymn of the month, I ask each person a few catechism questions from the Truth and Grace children’s catechism, we recite our current Scripture memory, we recite some older Scripture memory. I sometimes read from a devotional type picture book that all ages can enjoy. I ask some CC memory work review questions. We sing through memory work songs for the current week. The littlest ones are dismissed to go play; by this time they are super antsy! I read through our First Language Lessons and sometimes a picture book or two that correlates with our CC work. We may read through an acts and facts card if we have time. I usually have to stop and discipline a child or two, sometimes a few times throughout the course of all I’ve planned to do. I have given up half way through many times and just sent everyone out to play.  Some days, morning time absolutely isn’t what they want to be doing, and honestly it isn’t always what I want to be doing either. But we do it anyway, and I believe it has much value for all of us! The fact that it’s hard doesn’t mean that I’m failing, it means we have to keep working on it.

Homeschooling can be hard.

I share all of this to say, homeschooling isn’t always the romantic thing we dream it up to be. There are certainly beautiful moments of life questions, aha moments when the light bulb turns on and it just clicks, exploring, excitement, and curiosity, but this is never constant. I believe this is true in traditional classroom settings as well as home settings, and I think this happens no matter what educational philosophy or curriculum you follow or how many children you have. We are training children how to work, how to think, it’s a discipline and it doesn’t always come easy…. in fact most of the time it’s something we have fight for. We can’t let ourselves believe we are failing or that the problem is homeschool or curriculum, too many children, or our current teaching style. We must understand that this takes day in and day out perseverance, and it is so good for all of us. It is certainly teaching and growing me as I seek to diligently teach my little ones. Don’t lose heart mamas, just keep on keeping on!

Progress is often being made even when we can’t see it. Just think back two or three years ago, how did your children act? What were their struggles? What were the daily battles then? I bet many of those problems and struggles from then are no longer even an issue, and some of them may be struggles still but there is obvious growth. From day to day in the homeschool mama world it feels like nothing is changing, but when you look back and realize everything is so different then you realize how important it is to keep pushing through the difficulties. Progress for beautiful and magnificent things take time. Beautiful paintings are made one stroke at a time. Buildings and homes are made brick by brick, day by day. Great musicians are made from days and day of diligent practice. We can expect that the careful cultivating and nourishing of a human mind and heart for God’s glory is a lengthy process, and that helps us to be patient with the early stages when that gap of where we wish they were and where they actually are is quite wide.

Whether your homeschool battle is morning time (like me), or read-aloud time, or math lessons, or handwriting, or chore time…. or all of it! Keep putting one foot in front of the other and prayerfully doing the next thing. Trust in the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding. Hold your children to a reasonable but right standard and do your best to see it through with love, patience, diligence, and authority. Let’s teach and demonstrate the beauty of doing things with diligence and perseverance even when we as mamas don’t particularly feel like doing them, even when those things are hard, even when some or many days feel like failure. Let’s be an example to our children by not giving up on homeschool because it’s hard. Little by little progress, growth, and learning are happening. Don’t give up mamas!

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. -Galatians 6:9

And now it’s time for a Giveaway

Homemakers and Homeschoolers I have something special to share, I’m joining with all the other fantastic admins at Domestically Challenged Divinely Equipped to bring you a giveaway. Domestically Challenged Divinely Equipped is a facebook group where women can find encouragement in their roles as wife, mother, homemaker, homeschool teacher, and more. It’s truly one of the best places to hang out on facebook, so if you aren’t a member there, you should be!

Enter the Homemaker’s Holiday Giveaway!

Enter to win the Homemaker's Holiday Giveaway from the Domestically Challenged, Divinely Equipped FB Group! Includes InstantPot, Rocky Mountain Oils (RMO) and more!

The Domestically Challenged, Divinely Equipped Facebook group has joined with some fantastic sponsors including InstantPot, Rocky Mountain Oils, and Blooming with Joy Tea and Gifts to bring you this amazing giveaway just for homemakers, valued at $337.78!

Instant Pot IP-DUO80 7-in-1 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker ($159.95) – We LOVE the InstantPot! This model includes a large 8-quart capacity with functions including making yogurt, rice, soup, meat, beans, sauté, and more! It’s easy to clean and use, includes extensive safety mechanisms, and with so many people who love and use the InstantPot you’ll be sure to find great tips and recipes that suit your needs!

Instant Pot Silicone Mitts (Set of 2), Mini, Red ($9.95) – A handy little accessory for your new InstantPot! These handy silicone mitts help you safely lift the insert out even while sautéing. They’re non-stick and easy to use, and made of FDA standard food-grade silicone. 

Holiday Kit from Rocky Mountain Oils ($34.95) – Lighten your holiday spirit with the 2016 holiday blends kit. Kit includes Candy Cane essential oil blend, Holiday Moments essential oil blend, Pumpkin Spice essential oil blend and RMO’s new and improved Christmas Tree essential blend.

Spring Essential Oils Diffuser from Rocky Mountain Oils ($49.95) – Soothing tree branches are illuminated by soft background lighting to help you calm your spirit and your space. The Spring can hold up to 180 ml and has a runtime of up to six hours, making it an excellent mid-size diffuser. This diffuser’s calming design is perfect to display in the living room or bedroom, and is an excellent gift for anyone who enjoys essential oils.

$50 Amazon Gift Card ($50) – What will YOU use your Amazon gift card for? Christmas gifts? New serving ware for the holidays? Some important needs? A little self-care and pampering? We want to bless you with a mini shopping spree!

NEW Proverbial Homemaker Peach Green Tea ($9.99) – This hasn’t even been released publicly yet! This tea blend is custom created by Tauna of ProverbialHomemaker.com and provided by her favorite online tea shop, Blooming with Joy Tea & Gifts! “The soup pot is boiling over, the doorbell rings, and the kids are running around like a small herd of monkeys. Take a deep breath, mama! Then take a sip of Proverbial Homemaker’s sweet peach and floral green tea blend. The balance of vitamin C and antioxidants keeps you strong all day long and the moderate caffeine kick gives you the boost you need to get back in the mothering game. Peace is restored. You’re welcome.”

Domestically Challenged Divinely Equipped Travel Mug ($22.99)– God will equip us for all we need for life and godliness! Even for our homemaking. 🙂 Enjoy these fun products that include Psalm 105:4.

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Celebrating Reformation Day

Celebrating Reformation Day

I have shared a Biblical perspective post on Halloween which I recently republished, but today I want to share something wonderful that we as Christians can celebrate on October 31st!

Reformation Day! A day worth celebrating.

I love how my friend Lindsey from Road to 31 put it:

We celebrate Reformation Day because it represents the reclaiming of the one true gospel that had been lost in the Catholic church and replaced with the traditions and teachings of men. We celebrate that there were men who were willing to face the wrath and judgment of man rather than violate conscience according to the Holy Spirit and Scripture. We celebrate the boldness to proclaim the truth of God in the face of very real and present danger. We celebrate the movement that placed the Word of God in the hands of believers, to study for themselves so they could be taught by God Himself, rather than having to take the priests word as gospel. We celebrate Reformation Day because it is yet one more testament to the faithfulness of God.

I so agree with her, there are real and true reasons for celebration here.

How our Family Celebrates:

Each year our family looks forward to attending a Reformation Celebration put on by a local ministry in our area. If you live in the East Tennessee area it’s Castle Ministry, and you can find out more information about them in the link.

The celebration could be done on a smaller scale by a family or on a larger scale by a church or ministry. The event we attend begins with Reformation Themed games and activities on the lawn. Here are a few of the games and activities my girls enjoyed.

Building a Mighty Fortress : block building for the little ones

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Coloring on the Wartberg Castle: another huge hit with my little crew.

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5 Solas Toss: basically it’s a bean bag toss with 5 chances; the children are told about and quizzed on what the 5 solas are as they toss their bean bags

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Sword fighting: Some good old fashioned foam sword fighting. My big girls loved this!

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Pin the 95 Thesis on the door: It’s similar to “pin the tale on the donkey”, blind fold and spin then send them off to the door

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Hide the Heretic: finding the Reformers (called “heretics” by the Catholic Church) in a haystack

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Here’s a little look around at the Castle. There was also facepainting and people dressed up as the Reformers telling their stories. The children could go up into the tower to meet Martin Luther and his wife and hear their story.

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There is also a pot luck meal, family dance, bonfire, smores, and hymn singing. Castle Ministry does a wonderful job putting all of this together!

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At home we teach our children about the Reformation with these books and others:

(affiliate links)

This is a great story by RC Sproul, written from the perspective of a barber who learns to pray by asking Martin Luther questions about prayer. It’s great in two ways: first it gives great historical content about Martin Luther and what he did, and secondly it gives sound Biblical teaching on prayer in a way that a child can understand.

Little Lights books are great for young children and bigger children. I love that they have small bold sentences on one side for new readers to try, and then a paragraph for an adult to read to them. We have all of the Little Lights books except the CS Lewis book because we didn’t care for their spin on him, but they are all wonderful! 

Biographies for Young Readers books are probably my favorite! We are still working on our collection because they are a little pricey (about $18 a book, but so worth it!). They are beginner chapter picture books; perfect for about second grade and up. We have 5 of them and love each one, I have the rest of them on our family library wish list. They are very thorough and encouraging even to my own heart.

Luther3DWe’ve also greatly enjoyed this Martin Luther DVD (it’s free to watch for amazon prime members!) You can purchase them on amazon (aff. link) or through Torchlighters (They also have coloring and activity sheets to go with the dvds on their site). We love all of their DVDs in this series. They are a breath a fresh air for our family because finding edifying children’s shows is quite the challenge, but these definitely make the cut. They say for older children, but my children enjoy them from about 3 years old and up. I do recommend watching with your child and explaining what is happening the first time through. They make for wonderful discussions!

I may come back to this post and add to this list because I have more to share, but I’m short on time.

Happy Reformation Day! 

A Biblical View of Halloween

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 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them. -Ephesians 5:11

This post will be long because I want to be thorough. I don’t follow many “good blogging” rules anyway. This post is not meant as a judgement on anyone who celebrates Halloween, but instead I simply desire to present the facts about the day and the Scriptures which address those facts. I pray that they are received in love as I assure you they have prayerfully been written in love. Love for Christ and love for His Church.

I know there are many views and thoughts on Halloween, some are seeking God’s perspective and use Scriptures, while others use the logic of man and try to discern what God is like without the use of Scripture. A quick word of warning, there are many blog posts that begin to surface this time of year from Christians claiming to have the correct perspective on the day; the heart of a true Christ follower should be to find teaching that is rooted in the truth of God’s Word. If the writer does not support their ideas and thoughts with Scripture I would quickly disregard what they are saying. Those posts circulate like wildfire because the flesh likes to hear things like “give out the king size candy bars and don’t give out gospel tracts” and “dressing up kids and trick or treating is a way to love your neighbors”, but you won’t find real Scriptural support for those ideas so just beware. Use discernment,  that is, compare to the Scripture.

You don’t have to agree with me, but I hope you will at least consider the Scriptures and facts about the day that I place forth and consider that God penned these Scriptures by His Spirit through the men He chose, and He has not changed His mind based on our culture. He is the same forever.  If you have an objection to the truths I put forth in this series, please object kindly and with the use of Scripture in its correct context, as we don’t really view the wisdom of the world to be of any value in our decisions concerning anything including holidays.

Facts about Halloween origins:

Halloween origins begin with the Celtic festival of “Samhain”, which comes from the Old Irish for “summer’s end”, it marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. This time was believed to be when the spirits or fairies  could more easily come into our world and were particularly active. The fairies were both respected and feared (in other words “worshiped”), there were offerings of food and drink, or portions of the crops which were left for them. The souls of the dead were also said to revisit their homes on this day. Places were set at the dinner table or by the fire to welcome them. At the household festivities, there were many rituals and games intended to divine the future of those gathered, especially with regard to death and marriage. Special bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, and were also used for divination. It is suggested that the fires were a kind of imitative magic which mimicked the Sun, helping the “powers of growth” and holding back the decay and darkness of winter. Scholars also believe that the bonfires were used to scare witches of “their awaiting punishment in hell”. “Christian” influence (I will use quotes as this is not in any way shape or form in line with the Bible, but this is what these people who called themselves “Christians” at the time came up with which is just as pagan and false as the Celtic celebration) The Catholic church in 609 established a day known as “All Hallows Eve” or “All Saints Day”, they believed that the souls were passing from purgatory to heaven. This created a superstition and fear that the souls would use this time to take vengeance on their enemies, so many would dress in costume so as to not be recognized by them. They prayed to the dead saints, and prayed for the souls that were still trying to reach heaven. They also lit fires which they believed would guide these souls to heaven. It should be noted that this does not make Halloween a Christian Holiday, it has nothing to do with Hallowing God and everything to do with Hallowing Souls which is completely unBiblical. This was thankfully cleared up in the Reformation as false teaching, that there was no such thing as purgatory, this was simply a made up place in which the Catholic church would collect money from the loved ones of the dead based upon the pope’s false teachings that they could buy their loved ones’ souls out of purgatory and get them to heaven. (it was a money making scheme that had no Biblical basis) Later these two holidays meshed and were celebrated in many countries for centuries. The superstitions and celebrations grew. One addition to the holiday which came later was the story of the Jack O’ Lantern:

On route home after a night’s drinking, Jack encounters the Devil who tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest. (Wikipedia)

As this folk story grew in popularity, people would carve demonic faces in pumpkins for protection over their household from evil spirits. I used the Britannica Online Encyclopedia and Wikipedia to gain this information.

Some people have tried to tell me that the Church had a hand in the origins of Halloween and therefore it must be permissible for Christians, but the truth is that the Roman Catholic Church (not THE Church, the body of Christ) decided to adopt and merge with the Samhain religion. They have always been and still are very ecumenical, it’s dangerous and unChristian.

You are welcome to do your own research, but this is basically what you will find. I have tried to simplify it as much as possible.

Facts about Halloween as it is celebrated today:

I don’t need an encyclopedia for this, and neither do you. Simply look around the stores and see what kinds of things are sold for the celebration of Halloween. Walk through the neighborhoods and see the decorations in front lawns portraying what this celebration is about. You will likely find a wide range of things from friendly looking ghosts with white wispy sheets and smiling faces alongside friendly looking witches with green faces, pointed hats, and smiling faces all the way to dead looking skeletons, demonic looking masks, devil horns, and tombstones. Whether these things look cute and friendly or horrific they still have one common thread. They are evil things. They are a glorification of spirits, demons, the dead, and those who conjure up demons and the dead. There’s nothing cute about that really. God’s Word certainly would not define those things as cute or innocent and fun traditions. 

Still a holiday for witches today:

Another thing to consider is that Halloween is still an active holiday for witches and Satan worshipers. It is also still a day that many from the Roman-Catholic Church pray to and worship the dead, which is against the Scripture.

From an article you may find here written by a practicing witch:

For your Samhain, try one or more of these rituals:

  • Think of the candy you give to young trick-or-treaters as offerings to the ancestors, who return as the children of a new generation. Imagine that with each treat, you also give a blessing.
  • Gather your friends and family and set out pictures of your beloved dead. Light a candle (perhaps in a jack-o-lantern), then tell their stories and give thanks for what they’ve given you. Gaze into the candle flame, envisioning the renewal you want to support in your own life, community, and the world. Share your visions, write or draw them, or set out objects on your altar that represent the rebirth you hope for.
  • Share food and leave a bit of each dish on the altar (or outside, near the compost) as an offering for the ancestors.Halloween is a time when powerful forces converge. Our most sacred holiday is also, unfortunately, the time when anti-witch propaganda may abound.I believe the way to respond to fear and misinformation is to tell the truth about what we do. Halloween gives us a great opportunity to educate the public by speaking at your child’s school or giving an interview to the local press. In 25 years of public life as a witch, what amazes me is not the prejudice I’ve encountered, but how many open and supportive people I’ve met.

 

Time for an honest evaluation of what Halloween is actually about (then and now):

Here is a look at a conversation I had with my daughter when she was 5 years old concerning the ghosts and witches on display in the yards as we went on our regular afternoon stroll. I try to be very honest with my children about things and to make sure that my answers to their questions line up with Scripture (I don’t always do this perfectly, but it is what I strive for):

daughter- What are those suppose to be? (pointing to the friendly smiling faced, not at all scary Halloween decorations in one of the yards)

me- The white one is representing a ghost and the green one with the pointed hat is representing a witch.

daughter- Are they real?

me- These are just made to look like things that are real. They are ghost and witch decorations, not the real thing. The Bible tells us about the Holy Ghost, which is God who is with us right now and convicts us of our sin and helps us to understand the Gospel of Jesus, and who helps us overcome sin and be a witness to the world. The Bible also tells us about other Spirits, remember Jesus and the apostles casting out evil spirits? (these are stories we’ve read together many times) Satan and the other angels that fell with him from heaven are those other spirits, and they are also called demons in the Bible. (we have talked about Satan and where he came from before, so this is a bit of review for her). But you know that we don’t need to be afraid of them because Jesus has power over them and has overcome them. And witches we have talked about before, they call on those spirits or demons and worship them in order to get power from them. But again, we don’t need to fear them either because Jesus has all power over the demons and those that worship them.

daughter- Why do these people have these in their yard? Do they worship Satan? (seriously friends, I did not coax this question, we haven’t yet talked a lot about Halloween, and this was completely her own speculations based on the honest answer I gave her to the questions she asked.)

me- I don’t think that these people mean to worship Satan by putting these things out in their yard, but these are the things that represent him. So in a way, unknowingly,  sadly, yes, they are.

If my 5 year old can see that these things are evil when presented with the Biblical facts about what these things represent, then anyone can, right? Anyone can see what the holiday of Halloween is about today, as well as what it was about years ago. It’s about the dead, ghost, divination, witchcraft, sorcery, demons, vampires, etc….  Are these things to be celebrated by a follower of Christ??? Are these things that Jesus would celebrate??? Many people will say “we do Halloween” or “we participate in the traditions like costumes and trick or treat”, but let’s call this what it is…. you are celebrating this holiday in the same actions and dress as many of the pagans who originally started the holiday, and you are celebrating just like the rest of the world does today. So I ask again, Should Christians be celebrating these things?

Ask yourself, what am I celebrating on that day?

What the Bible says about the things Halloween celebrates:

“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so. -Deuteronomy 18:9-14

This is the only Old Testament verse I will use as there are plenty to be found in the New Testament, but I do feel it is important to see God’s opinion on the very things that Halloween is about. This may be the Old Testament is a wonderful place to learn the things the Lord detests: some of those are witchcraft, divination, and sorcery. He did not allow His people to participate in those things. God is the same today, if He had changed His opinion on magic arts, sorcery, and divination then we would not have seen the people in the New Testament burning their magic books when they were converted. (Acts 19:19)

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? -1 Corinthians 10:21-22

Here we see in the New Testament that nothing has changed, it is still evil in the sight of the Lord to partake of things of demons. If you have knowledge that something is evil (and with Halloween you do!) then you should not participate in it in the way that the pagans and witches do.

 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. -Ephesians 5:6-12

Let’s not be deceived by “church culture” which doesn’t address Halloween with Scripture! We were once in darkness, but not anymore! We should not be participating in unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead exposing them. And while I realize many are sick of Halloween posts, for me personally, if the post is Biblical and true then I view it as a good thing! We as Christians should be exposing the darkness and calling Christians to act like people of light even as it pertains to Halloween!

 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. -1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

God has called us all to examine things carefully in light of God’s Word, and abstain from every form of evil. Since we know that Halloween has evil origins and is celebrated in evil ways today, why would we believe it to be acceptable in the sight of the Lord to take part in? He has said abstain.

 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. -2 Corinthians 6: 14-18

We are not to be yoked with the world in the ways they partake in this day! We are not to be yoked with witches and those who practice Wicca on this day.  We are to be set apart! Christ does not have harmony with evil, and we know that full well.

 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. -Galatians 5:16-23

Shortly after that well-known verse on freedom that I use to quote out of context years ago as my ticket to do whatever I wanted, we find an explanation that we do have freedom from the burden of the law which we cannot keep, but that freedom is given so we can now live by the Spirit and to put to death the deeds of our flesh. Take a look at that list of deeds of the flesh, some of them definitely pertain to Halloween: idolatry, sorcery, sensuality (which is seeking pleasure for your senses). We see that those who practice those things will not enter the Kingdom. Now I know we will struggle against our flesh, but it is a far different thing to “practice” the deeds of the flesh. Choosing to celebrate a holiday year after year that is evil definitely falls into the category of “practicing”, this is a planned thing that you do. And whether you know the truth about the day and what God’s Word says or not, sin is still sin. We have been given His Word and all the more will be held accountable to live by it. Walking by the Spirit doesn’t mean that you get to decide what is good and evil in your own eyes, it means that you walk in accordance with what the Spirit has given us through His Word.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night. -Psalm 1:1-2

It is a blessing to not do as the wicked do, to not even be standing in their path. It is a blessing when our delight is in the law of the Lord, when we would much rather know and live by what is in God’s Word than by the wisdom of the world or by our own thoughts and opinions. It is a blessing and it leads to life to follow that narrow path, but we must also be aware that there is a broad way which leads to destruction. We should not try to see how close to the broad way we can walk without actually stepping fully off of the narrow path. We are clearly called to avoid the path of the wicked: don’t sit, stand, or walk there. It’s not a place to hang out, even for one night.

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” -Revelation 21:8

When we look at the holiday we see clearly that the practice of our current culture is celebrating sorcery, mimicking idolatrous worship of the dead and of demons, and is largely about provoking fear and causing people to be cowards-to be afraid of things which God has full dominion over. Does it look like He is celebrating those things in this passage in Revelation? If this is His response to these things, what would He want His followers response to be on this day that celebrates these things? ‘Celebrate with the pagans’…. You know that’s not the right answer. He has a much more excellent plan for us! Let’s go on and look at that now. And how very unloving to embrace these things and lead the lost to believe that God embraces them as well. We are called to be set apart, and it is not unloving to be set apart.

A Christian Response to Halloween:

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. -Romans 12:21

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. -Romans 12:9

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. -3 John 1:11

If you have read all things previous in this series, then you are now able to fully identified what is evil about October 31st, so now how can we respond with what is good? We see this pattern in Scripture, not to just avoid evil, but to do good!!!

What should we do on October 31st?

1. Proclaim His excellencies because He has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. -1 Peter 2:9

How can we honor Christ on this day? We should seek to honor Him every day, and this day is not an exception! We do not get a free pass to be unconcerned with the glory of Christ and honoring Him as Lord simply because it is a holiday. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,  a people for his own possession…. this is amazing! He called us out of darkness (even the darkness that we use to participate in on this particular day) and into his marvelous light, and why? That we may proclaim the excellencies of Him!

2. Be alert and aware that Spiritual warfare is real, and that Satan desires our destruction and the destruction of our children.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. -1 Peter 5:8

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:12

We do not need to stick our heads in the sand or pretend like this isn’t happening around the world on this night. Wiccans are doing rituals in worship to demons. People are delighting in darkness and evil. People are looking for and searching out spirits (and if they find any it can only be one thing, demonic). People are imitating demonic spirits to insight fear in others, and other people are paying to experience those things at haunted houses and watching haunted films. People are unknowingly partaking in these acts of worship to Satan that have been handed down to us from those who worshiped and feared the spirits all the way back in the early Celtic days of this celebration.  Among these are Christians who are greatly deceived by a church culture that falsely preaches theories of relativism (“whatever is right for you is right for you, whatever is right for me is right for me”), instead of the fact that there is only ONE TRUTH and that is defined by God Himself in His Word. Think of the laugh that Satan and the powers of darkness must get at God’s followers on this day who are unknowingly participating in things that are acts of worship to Him both in the past and now. Praise the Lord, He may think He is winning something, but the Lord is mighty in battle and has already defeated Him, and there is an appointed day for Satan’s certain doom. Do not be too discouraged by this, rest assured that God Almighty will have the last laugh.

3. Do not be fearful, but instead walk in love and self-control on this day.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. -2 Timothy 1:7

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. -1 John 4:18

This may seem contradictory to the previous point, but it isn’t. Having knowledge of Satan and His schemes should not invoke fear in us. As I stated previously, God has overcome all evil! He is sovereign over all things! I think this needs to be said because there are people with fears of the powers of darkness, and friends you should not fear them! Did you know that fear is a form of worship? We are to fear the Lord, and Him alone because He has all power and authority and everything is under His feet.

However concerning “fearfulness and Christians”, I’m not going to make a generalization like I’ve heard far too many other bloggers on the topic of Halloween do. So many bloggers and people who discuss Christians who abstain from the pagan traditions of Halloween do so as if we are fearful people, like we are locked up in our houses hiding out from the devil and all his little “evil trick-or-treaters”. Can I just be frank here? I have never met a believer who is faithful to God’s Word, and abiding in Christ that is fearful of these things! And I know plenty of people including my own family who do not celebrate Halloween as the world does. You are welcome to leave all of your preconceptions about Christians who don’t celebrate Halloween right here! We’re not fearful of Satan or demons, and definitely not fearful of trick-or-treaters and shivering mothers….. We are however walking in a very healthy fear of the Lord who has given us His Word to guide us in this day, and that is why we have chosen to respond to this day the way that we do. Do not wrongly assume that Christians choosing to honor the Lord on this day are fearful when, if anyone ever actually talked to us about it instead of casting judgement and making assumptions, they would see we clearly are not! (and yes I am addressing posts that have circulated the internet for years, and many of you know which ones I am addressing, some of these even come from reputable and fabulous Gospel preaching sites, but unfortunately those particular writers made some wrong assumptions about Christians being fearful, and my blog is a no-name blog compared to them, but I still feel it is right to set that straight among my tiny sphere of influence.)

4. Love God and Love people.

 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. -Matthew 22:37-39

Loving God:

We love God with all of our hearts and all of our souls and with all of our minds when we seek to understand what this day is about, find out what God’s Word says about it, obey, and walk in the Spirit, abiding in Him, worshiping and delighting in Him, and being fully satisfied in Him…. He is more than enough, and we can count the things of this world loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him! Even fun little things, like cute costumes or the more difficult things like our kids feeling a little left out or like our being persecuted for our decision not to partake in the deeds of darkness as commanded in Scripture, those things are just rubbish compared to Him! Furthermore, about that persecution, Jesus says:

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.-Matthew 5:11-12

Loving people:

Now many get confused about what love is, especially when they start thinking of loving their neighbor, and they assume without looking at the Scriptures that the most loving thing we can do is to say trite and shallow things and never share any truth. They assume that doing what they do to make them feel comfortable is right. I mentioned this above. It’s actually very unloving to act like God is at peace with these evil things and that we are permitted to do them. Some of those same bloggers that I addressed above will suggest: hand out the big candy, tell all the kids they look so cute! Offer the moms some water. Don’t give out tracts!” And then what, hope someone happens to discover that you have the most valuable truth that is known to man. This is a lie from Satan, that is not love, that is hate! The most loving thing you can do for people is to tell them about the most wonderful news that there ever was or ever will be, and that is the Gospel! That Jesus died for their sins, bore their wrath, died on the cross and rose from the dead, breaking the curse the law had on them, if they will repent of their sins, believe in Him, and serve Him as Lord, they will be saved! There is no better news. There is not a more loving thing you can say to anyone. Now on the flip side, don’t be trite with the Gospel, giving out tracts like you don’t care whether they are read or not.  NO, these are people! These are souls that will exist for eternity in heaven or in hell, and they should be valued as such. Love them well! Tell them about the way, the truth, and the life!

5. Make disciples.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”-Matthew 28:17-20

October 31st is a great day to fulfill this very commandment! Every day is, but this day particularly has everyone out of their houses and doing something. Not to mention, their minds are already on spiritual things because this really is what the holiday is about, what an opportunity to easily take the conversation over from the dark spiritual focus, to the light of Christ Jesus! This is a great opportunity for many.

6. Train your children in the way they should go.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6

Bear in mind that you are training your child, especially on holidays. These will be the lasting memories for children. They may not remember much from the day to day, but they remember what they did on holidays. These are lasting memories you will leave with your child. Therefore, this is a fantastic opportunity to sew some really good seed! It is very likely that your child will remember what you do on this day simply because the day is different than all the others. Make it special for them; create your own traditions, you are not called to be like the world, you are called to something more excellent, so be that! Make your time together meaningful, and most importantly, disciple them in the truth of God’s Word.

When your children are old enough and mature enough to understand, teach them the facts about Halloween, about it’s origins and about the ways it is celebrated by those who practice Wicca today. Share with them how many Christians are deceived. Encourage your children to have grace for these people, but also to share the truth with them in love. Teach them the Scriptures that speak to this day, many are listed here in this post, and there are many others.

Parents, be aware of the atmosphere you place your child in on this night. You will need to use discernment to decide what you should do on this night as far as the Great Commission is concerned. There are many places that my husband and I could serve and witness that we would not bring our young children to. If your child is a fruit bearing, born again believer in Christ that fully understands what this day is and what will be going on, then that child may be ready to join you on this day in fulfilling the Great Commission. You will need to prayerfully discern, and be ready to leave any given situation at any time if you feel it is at all spiritually dangerous for your child. If it is causing them to have doubts, if it is causing them to be fearful, or if it is causing them to be persuaded to join in with the partakers of the darkness then it. is. time. to. go! Talk about it at home, flee from evil! I’ve left many things before, and will do it again. I was given to my children by God to be their protector and to train them up in Him, and I take that job very seriously. You should too. In my current season of life I have found that my best work is by being home with them and teaching, training, and discipling them like I do on other days. We like to celebrate Reformation Day as a family or with friends. I share more about that here.

7. Flip this holiday on its head!

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. -Genesis 50:20

In Joesph’s response to the evil that his brothers meant for him, we see something miraculous! That what humans meant for evil, God meant it for good in order to bring about the saving of many people from the famine. In the same way, let us join together in praying that God will take this day that is meant for evil, and use it for His good purposes to save many from perishing! Be fervent in prayer for the Lord to move, be purposeful in how you will spend your time on this day of opportunity to reach so many, and be a diligent worker. Don’t use this day as day to fulfill your selfish desires, be a servant of the Lord, be about His Kingdom on this day!

hal·low
ˈhalō/
verb
  1. honor as holy.

Hallowing God above all because He is the one to be honored as holy! Not the dead, not saints, not spirits, not our children, not our trick-or-treaters, not our perceived freedoms, not our right to our own opinion, not self-righteousness, not what people think of us, not anything else except:

Hallowing the one and only who deserves to be Hallowed! 

Blessings to you and your family on October 31st as you seek to honor and serve our great King and Master, Jesus Christ!

PS happy Reformation Day!

 

Simple Homemaking Routines

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I need routine, otherwise things fall apart. And I need simple, otherwise my plans will completely fail. I finally feel like I have found that sweet spot of homemaking routines that work for me. I have tried many versions of this type of thing, but my current version is actually functional for us. I thought I would share as inspiration. It is highly likely that my exact routine will not be the best fit for you, because mine fits my life and family. However, I do believe it can inspire you with some fresh ideas to revamp your own routines if they aren’t currently working for you

Three tips for putting together simple homemaking routines that work.

  1. Create simple routines that you do each morning, afternoon, and evening.
  2. Assign yourself certain areas of focus for each day of the week.
  3. Make it something you can actually do. It’s always better to under-plan that to over-plan.

Using those three tips, here is how our homemaking routines break down.

Daily Homemaking Routine

{Mornings}
-my personal Scripture meditation and prayer
-get dressed
-breakfast and Bible with kids
-breakfast cleanup (everyone helps)
-make my bed & tidy bedroom
-get everyone dressed
-a quick tidy around the house
-oversee kid morning chores
-set out my daughters’ laundry baskets to fold (except for CC days)
-homeschool (Wednesdays we deep clean then start school)
-lunch and lunch cleanup (everyone helps)

{Afternoons}
-rest time (kids) / my Bible loop
-finish homeschool
-assign chores for girls that correlate with our daily focus or other jobs that need to be done
-focus on my daily task in 15 to 20 minute increments at the least
-dinner prep/cook
-tidy living areas (all the children help)
-put all folded laundry away

{Evenings}
-dinner (goal time is 5:30 or 6)
-dinner cleanup (everyone helps)
-quick house tidy
-prep for the next day

My Daily Focus Areas

MONDAY- mop

I try to do a deep scrub mop once a week and the other days I swiffer or wipe up messes with a rag as I see them. I do this at different times on Monday, basically whenever I can work it in. If the kids are outside playing, then I will mop or sometimes I wait and do it in the evening after they are laid down. As long as it gets done on Monday I try not to stress about when. I’ve learned that too much detail in a schedule sets me up for failure, but that’s just my personality and possibly my current season of life with many littles.

TUESDAY- tidy and organize

I have a running list of areas I’d like to focus on. I usually do the most bothersome and noticeable things first, then move to cabinets and closets and places people don’t see. I don’t organize everything on my list, just usually an area or two; and I pick up where I left off the next week. I also try to enlist the help of my oldest three children for some of these projects. They can do simple jobs like: pull all of the cleaners and scrub brushes out from the kitchen sink so I can see them, get rid of what we don’t need, and organize them properly. I also have them pull all the items that may have collected under the couches and beds out to the middle of the floor and to put the items away in their place. Sometimes I assign an organization project to my 8 or 7 year old if it is something that I can’t get to, but it needs attention. I know it will look better than it will with noone organizing it, even if it isn’t quite the way I would have done it. Plus I think it is good practice for them to learn how to categorize and organize various areas of a home. Their afternoon chores are not a routine, they are assigned tasks given by me that change each day based on our family’s needs. Typically I assign their afternoon chores to correlate with my daily focus.

WEDNESDAY- home blessing day

This is our house cleaning day. I dust, clean mirrors and windows, and focus on trouble areas. My older girls each clean a bathroom; they are responsible for changing the trash bag, washing the toilets, tub/shower walls and shelves, and sinks. We run a robot vacuum while we do these things all over our house. When the vacuum is done they each get a swiffer and clean the floors in the living room, bathrooms, and bedrooms. We don’t take food outside of the dining room or kitchen so these aren’t usually too messy, a swiffer does just fine with it. We try to do this in about an hour to an hour and a half. With all of us working together we usually get it. We currently do this set of tasks in the mornings because we have help with the little ones on Wednesday mornings which makes our cleaning go a lot faster. It feels worth it to me to knock out the house cleaning at once instead of breaking up small tasks to each day. We play worship music and try to make it enjoyable, and my girls usually love this time.

THURSDAY- clean out the car and tidy outside

Thursdays are currently our Classical Conversations days, so this works well for us. When we get home I have my girls get all the stuff out of the van and I oversee it to make sure they are being thorough. Some weeks we stop at a car wash with vacuums and get it nice and cleaned up on our way hone from CC. That usually happens about once a month. Outside I just go around picking up toys or any trash, and of course I have the kids help. Then I or someone (as an afternoon assigned chore) will sweep the decks if they need it.

FRIDAY- laundry focus

We aim to do about 2 loads of laundry every day except Sunday and CC days which are currently Thursdays for us. Also days with doctor appointments or play dates throw us off from time to time. Typically I have my two oldest daughters fold a full basket each morning as part of their morning chores, this is the folding of the two loads washed the day prior. (I will post their chores below). I usually have the baskets separated into either adult clothes, big girl clothes, or todder and baby clothes. I try to wash them in those categories as well, and everything is on cold (I don’t worry about colors). I put their folded clothes away and handle all the family hang ups. This usually keeps our laundry at a manageable level. On Fridays my focus is washing any extras that need it: towels, rags, sheets, catching up if I’m behind, and so on. I also aim to get as caught up as possible so that our weekend can be more relaxed. (Laundry piles tend to stress me and they happen oh so quickly around here.) On Fridays the older girls do their laundry as usual and I do the extra, but sometimes giving out a laundry pertaining job here or there as an afternoon chore, such as asking them to fold and put away towels, watching/ playing with littles while I work laundry, or to help me put sheets on a bunk bed (because that is always a challenge when pregnant!) If something needs mending or ironed then this is the day for that as well.

SATURDAY- meal plan and grocery shop

I know, I know, Saturdays are probably the worst day to be at the grocery store, but they are truly the day that works best for our schedule. I use to do errand day with my four girls on a week day, but I’ve seen how much I lose momentum in my homeschooling and homemaking when we have another week-day out of the house (we already have our CC community day), so I decided to move errand day to Saturday. The added bonus to this is that my husband is usually home on Saturdays so either we all go together or he watches some or all of the kids for me. I currently alternate each week between Kroger and Aldi. I buy what I need for two weeks from each of the places since Aldi has better prices, but Kroger carries things I need that Aldi doesn’t currently carry. My Kroger weeks are usually much smaller since I try to get almost everything from Aldi.

SUNDAY- I do not plan a daily focus. I like to set aside this day to rest and seek the Lord and to fellowship with other believers.

My Girls’ Daily Chores

(They are 8 and 6)

{Morning Chores}
-Get fully dressed.
-Make your bunk bed (top and bottom, they make their little sisters’ for them)
-Tidy your bedroom, bathroom, and closet.
-Look around the house for your things- put them away.
-Feed and water the goats and pig.
-Fold your basket of laundry.

{Afternoon Chores}
-Ask mom- daily task focus.

{Evening Chores}
-Tidy living areas
-Shower, pjs, bedtime routine.

They are expected to help with clean up after every single meal. One girl clears and wipes tables and high chairs, the other sweeps the floor, and sometimes I have one of them empty the dishwasher during that time. Preschool and toddler age either play or get a rag and wipe something down to “help”.

I can honestly say my two oldest girls are a HUGE HELP to me. I believe they should have these responsibilities and that they are learning valuable life-skills and self-discipline; and truthfully I could not manage this house well without delegating some of the work to them. It simply wouldn’t be possible. I do try to keep it to only this and their school though because I desire for them to get time to play, explore our farm, and pursue their interests.

So that’s it.

So that is what my current simple homemaking routine looks like. I love having the routine to keep me focused on the right thing at the right time. Without this I have a tendency to try to do everything at once and to get so overwhelmed. This frees me up to accomplish what needs to be accomplished and then to be present with more important things in my life without feeling like I should be doing something else. There is a peace of mind in knowing, I’ll get to that then (at the time set aside in the routine) so I can focus completely on doing this (whatever that happens to be) now.

This probably seems like a lot, and maybe it doesn’t seem so simple to some, but for me this is as simplified as I can make it to meet the standards I desire for our household and the demands of caring for a growing family. I feel like working in and managing the home is a part of the work the Lord has given to me (Titus 2:5 Proverbs 31:27), and so I want to pursue doing it well.

I hope this is helpful in some way.

Happy Homemaking ladies!

Part of a Beautiful Picture : Christ and the Church

 

Part of a Beautiful Picture: Christ and the Church

These things have been on my mind and heart, and I as a married woman I believe it’s such a helpful thing to meditate on as I walk out my role as a wife. I am excited to share a few of the things the Lord has taught my heart through His Word in regards to this subject.

Let’s look at Ephesians 5 together:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

 

I put the parts of this Scripture that directly speak to wives and their part in this beautiful picture in bold so they would stand out to us.

Wives, we are to be subject to our husbands, submitting to them as unto the Lord (vs 22), why because we are part of a bigger picture…. a picture of what the Church looks like. Unfortunately in our American culture, many marriages and many churches don’t look like this, so it can be difficult for people to wrap their minds around. Many people call themselves Christians, but do not submit themselves to the Lord Jesus with their lives. Unfortunately for these people they have bought into a lie, they think that saving faith is merely giving a mental acknowledgement to the truth of Jesus’s death on the cross and being raised from the dead, followed by simply confessing it with their mouths whether or not the truths or words impact their lives. The truth is in Scripture we see other descriptions of a true believer that don’t line up with this idea. Take this one for example:

Romans 6: 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

 

Being under grace means that we no longer let sin reign in us; we are now instruments of righteousness.

The Picture: Christ and the Church

It is the same in many marriages today, people don’t see the value in serving their husbands and submitting to them as unto the Lord. Now truly, you are in a marriage commitment whether you submit or not (the analogy does break down at this point), but try to follow me here on the topic of this bigger picture.

We are a part of a picture that we see here in Ephesians represents Christ and His Bride- the Church. For this reason our submission is very important so that we can be an accurate representation of this beautiful picture.

The S word

“Did she just say submit?” To some women this may be almost repulsive. Our culture has taught us to fight for our rights to be equal with our husbands, and to have equal say in everything….. or perhaps even fight to run the show. Many television shows today portray the father is the dumbo who doesn’t know anything and messes up everything; and mom is portrayed as the completely competent hero. That is a message that is being sent in almost every teen Disney or family sitcom out there. It’s sad.

Truth is, that is a total mockery of what Christian marriage is designed to represent. As the Church, we are not equal in authority with the Lord Jesus, He is our master! He does love us, He has called us friend, and He even gave up His life for us and bore the wrath that was meant for us because of our sins, but He is still our Lord. If we are in Christ, we do not run our own show, we are not in charge, we don’t even have equal say in what we are going to do…. we are to submit to His Word and commands.

Submission in marriage is a part of God’s perfect ordained order, and it has a greater purpose because of this profound mystery of us imperfect people being able to reflect the beauty of Christ and His Church.

Many women fear this submission thing…. they are afraid of becoming “door-mats”, or being taken advantage of. The believe that their husbands will make a bad decision that will affect them negatively, but this is where we have to trust that God’s wisdom is much wiser than our wisdom. This would not be in His Word if it were not true. We need to trust the Lord in this! And we can not do this without His Spirit indwelling us!

I believe that this looks a little different from marriage to marriage, some husbands desire more input from their wives, and others desire more respect without many questions being raised against what they are leading them to do. Sometimes this varies from situation to situation and we need to learn our husbands and learn to be discerning in each of situation. We should honor our husbands by communicating and asking them how and when they want our input and help in decision making. Within my own marriage there are many decisions that we make together and my husband desires my input and wants my help with discerning what we should do, and there are other instances that he makes a decision for us and even if it may not have been the decision I would’ve made, I agree and commit to it with him with my whole heart. This is a picture of how submission works in our marriage. I have to admit, this isn’t always easy. But the Lord continues to work in me and make my heart more submissive and less self-seeking. We must be honest with ourselves, and repent to the Lord and apologize to our husbands when we push our own will against theirs. We are not perfect, neither are our husbands; thankfully we can confess our sin to the Lord and He will forgive us. The more we walk in the Spirit, the easier submission becomes. We must be abiding in Christ in order to have the humility it takes to serve our husbands and think of them more highly than ourselves. We all know this truth, and it applies to this aspect of marriage as well: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

And we really can!  And when we are walking in this way, what a beautiful part of a picture we get to represent! To be a part of that glorious picture of Christ and the Church is a great honor!

I hope you continue to be encouraged by this, I know that this is not often talked about in certain churches, and for many of you this really upsets you because of the things you have been taught by our culture, and maybe even things you have been falsely taught from churches. Many pastors tip-toe around these Scriptures and change the meanings of them to fit with the ideas of the culture. I pray that you will be receptive to God’s truth. If this is not something you’ve ever heard before, or even if this is something that upsets or offends you, I beg you to seek the Lord in prayer and search the Scriptures for yourself to see what they say on this subject. The above verses are not the only ones that you will find if you look, there are many others.

Blessings to all of you as you serve your husbands this week!

For your further pursuit:

She Wears Purple : Modern Modesty

“…her clothing is fine linen and purple.” -Proverbs 31:22

How do we promote modesty within our own spheres of influence? I think the answer is two-fold.

First things first: we should talk more about who God is than about how we should dress. Good Biblical teaching that exalts Christ must come first before any discussion about modesty. These larger Biblical truths are to be the catalyst for teaching on modesty because a desire for true God honoring modesty is not born out of rule following or even some external reward, but instead out of exalting Christ with our bodies. Our hearts are only drawn to exalt Christ when we see Him high and lifted up as the Scripture displays Him to us. When we see His work of love on the cross that cleanses us from all sin in our past, present, and future. When we see His empty tomb as confirmation that we are also raised up with Him: raised out of a pit of sin and death, and enabled by that same power that brought Him from the dead to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel. This must come first.

Secondly, I believe that we should demonstrate that beauty is a good thing! A lovely dress, a tasteful pop of color, your favorite shade of pink lipgloss…. these things are not evil, and in fact these things can be pointers to the one who created colors, the one who is Himself described as beautiful. Modesty does not mean dressing frumpy, ugly, and with no personality. I think there’s a reason why we get this little detail about the color that the Proverbs 31 woman is wearing. Be who you are, let that distinct personality and passion that God put in you come out in the things you wear. This is not wrong, and in fact I think the more we do this while dressing modestly, the more we will be able to promote modesty to those around us in a winsome and loving way.

Just a few thoughts I wanted to share.

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This is one of my favorite dresses, and has been for years now. It’s just a simple purple maxi dress from Target. It was definitely $30 well spent because I’ve have been wearing it like crazy for almost 4 years now. it has held up so well! These pics weren’t taken for an official outfit post, but they work. And I obviously like them which is why they are currently being used as my profile picture. Really I just wanted to share some of these thoughts, and since I love this dress and it made me think of the Proverbs 31 woman, I thought I’d share here too as  Modern Modesty post.

Want to learn more about modesty? Check out a few of my posts.

 Modesty an Act of Love

Modern Modesty

My Journey to Modesty

Hope everyone is having a happy Friday!

,Stacey

linked up with The Modest Mom

Our Classical Homeschool

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Quite a few things have changed since I shared our homeschool journey a little over a year ago. It’s amazing how a year of trying something new can change your mind. I mentioned in that post a love I had for Classical Education and Charlotte Mason, and to put it in a nutshell, I sorta fell in love with the classical model in a new and fresh way, and discovered in the process that it is the best fit for our family. If you are unsure what classical education is then read this for a general overview it is written by Classical Conversations, there are many other articles and books out there as well. I originally thought classical education would be too much work for me to implement with our ever-growing family, but actually we joined Classical Conversations this past year and it really served our needs and gave me some clear direction. My children learned so much and grew as students through the Classical Conversations materials and community. As we moved along in the year I began trying out classical approaches to various subjects and I just liked it a lot, and so did my kids! I have also been doing some reading and research on Classical education, and I’ve been able to catch a more long-term vision.  At this point, I’m totally sold! The more we do, the more fruit I see, the more I believe in the model and what it can do for the minds of my children (and me for that matter since I’m learning many things along with them). As I experience classical education first hand I honestly begin to wish I had been taught this way. I feel like I am learning more than I ever knew before, and I have my masters in education so that’s saying something! I genuinely enjoy our material, and of course if mama likes it that encourages my children to view it as exciting and interesting as well. I once also thought classical education would be boring and intense, but as it turns out we have never enjoyed our school more than we do now that we are on this classical education path. It’s interesting, challenging, and fun! And surprisingly, it’s restful and relational. I find that we spend more time having conversations about our subjects. Impromptu research projects come up all the time. Memory work songs can be sung while folding laundry or jumping on the trampoline. Everyone is having fun with it! Even my child who previously disliked school enjoys most of our subjects now. My children actually enjoy the work more because it is more suited for the way that the child’s brain works and for their capability levels. It feels like a breath of fresh air from some of the more traditional things we were using. I could go on and on, but I think you get where I am coming from. I love that I know where we are headed.

Now, what I really want to do with this post is share our curriculum for this year, and in future posts I plan to break apart exactly how we are approaching each subject with these materials. I want to do this because classical education can be done in so many different ways. It’s fun to get to peek into another family’s homeschool from time to time and see how they are accomplishing their educational goals. I know posts like this by other bloggers have really helped me shape our homeschool; they’ve also introduced me to curriculum that fit our family well. Overall, I’ve learned that there are SO many ways to do this homeschool thing. I love how many of us who may even carry the same education philosophies and Christian vision for our families can do it so differently. We are not in a competition! We are raising up arrows side by side, it’s hard work, and we should be helping and encouraging and praying for one-another. We can share our curriculum choices and at the same time be excited about the curriculum choices of others. A curriculum or philosophy or method that is a great fit for one family, may not fit another at all,;and that’s okay! I just want you to know that I’m not putting this out here to say, “look how great our curriculum choices are” or anything like that. I am still learning and growing with each year that I homeschool. I am excited about the year ahead; and we’ve already started many things I list below and have found them to be wonderful for us. Maybe this can give you an idea or two, or maybe not and that’s okay too because you will find the curriculum and style that works for you and your kids. So without further ado, here it is.

Our Classical Curriculum for the 2016-2017 School Year for a 2nd and a 3rd grader

Bible: Polished Cornerstones by Doorposts for our Biblical Womanhood character training, Truth and Grace Memory Book (This is what we use for a Children’s Catechism), daily Bible reading alone and out loud.

Language Arts: Classical Conversations, First Language Lessons, and Writing with Ease

Reading: Both of my girls are reading well so no formal reading curriculum is needed anymore. Woohoo! We used “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons“, and loved it for both! One of my children had to go through it a few times, but it did the job! For reading, we will practice reading aloud, reading alone, and narration from living books, classics, and biographies for children. I also have them participate in reading the Scripture out loud. My 3rd grader will be reading through the New Testament for the second time independently. I may start my 2nd grader reading through the New Testament the second half of the year depending on her progress, we will just play it by ear and see if she is ready then.

Spelling: All About Spelling and Spelling Power

Handwriting: Classical Conversations prescripts cursive workbooks, Writing with Ease. We currently write in print, but will hopefully move to cursive this year with my third grader for notebooking and Writing With Ease. We are wrapping up Simply Charlotte Mason Print to Cursive Write the Proverbs with my 3rd grader; she has worked on it all summer, and it was great!

History: Classical Conversations, Story of the World, and other biographies and books on our CC topics (here’s one of my favorites, actually all from this series are great!) We do CC related reading from the Story of the World books as well as listen through the audio books straight through.

Science: Classical Conversations, reference books, nature journaling and classification guides (like this one). We will also be drawing a labeling drawings from the beautiful book Nature Anatomy. (go look inside, it’s gorgeous!) Eventually we will add in a formal science, I’m leaning toward apologia, but that will be 5th or 6th grade and it will be done independently.

Latin: Classical Conversations and Sing Song Latin DVDs and Text with CD

Math: Classical Conversations and Teaching Textbooks (for my 3rd grader), Splash Math, and math practice worksheets (from workbooks like this one), math fact flash cards, and working with manipulatives (this is the set we have by Saxon and we love it).

Geography: Classical Conversations and we will use the method described in the geography chapter in The Core.

Art: Classical Conversations, Drawing with Children, and See the Light. We will also play around on Art Hub a little bit for fun.

Music: Classical Conversations, hymn singing/memorization, they are both learning to play the ukulele, and we may add piano lessons (not sure yet though). I also use Faber Music flash cards to teach music symbols, note names, rhythms, and basic theory.

Some things that are shaping my year:

This is my homeschool planner, it may be a little pricey, but it literally has everything I need to plan and track the homeschool and the home in one place. It includes meal planning, budgeting, lesson planning, grade keeping, attendance tracking (for up to 4 children), and more. Also, there is a printable insert on CC connect where you can place all the memory work in a spot in the planner on your CC day to be able to quickly access and plan accordingly.

I’m on CC connected (I mentioned it above) which is a great resource! If you participate in Classical Conversations it is really affordable and worth it to me (currently $6 a month for foundations), this is a great place to ask questions on the forums and to find CC related printables and add-ons. These add-ons aren’t necessary at all, but they can be fun! There are history coloring pages that correlate with the history sentences which my girls loved last year. There are many practice worksheets and things that expound on the core information. There are presentation planning sheets. There are songs and mp3s to help with memory work. The list goes on, but a quick word of warning….don’t get too ambitious over there. With so many ideas and printables it can be easy to over-plan and create busy work instead of productive work which usually leads to burnout for the kiddos. Unless you have one who loves busy work, then hey, go for it!

These are the two books I read over the summer which sharpened my vision for the coming year: The Core by Leigh Bortins and Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. Both very different books, but super helpful!

If you are looking for a book to help you understand the Classical Education model as a whole as well as in each phase of education then I recommend The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer.  I often pull that out and give it a good look-over because it’s almost a “how-to” guide. I don’t do everything the way she says it, but it definitely gives me good ideas to draw from.

My Heart on this Journey

The Lord has been so good to me this year, in many many ways. I feel like I have grown and matured in the skill of homeschooling, which I believe is a grace and help from the Lord. It probably has much to do with gaining a greater vision for the path we are on. I am also growing in my understanding of who He is and loving Him in deeper ways. Knowing Him on a deeper level through His Word has been the thing that has encouraged my heart to press on in homeschooling and in the vision He has given us for our family when things were hard this past year. The reality is my strength and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my life and my portion. He will sustain me through the hard days, through the times I have doubts, through the days when it feels like there is no way to get everything done that we need to get done, through sick days or weeks or months, through welcoming another sweet baby, through another postpartum period. He will lift my head and keep me putting one foot in front of the other, seeking to do His will by diligently teaching and training these little ones which He has entrusted to me.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
-Psalm 73:26

Happy homeschooling to all you homeschool mamas out there!

,Stacey

Homeschooling with Little Ones Underfoot

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I have lots of little ones, currently we have three little ones: 3 years, 2 years, and 10 months old with another little blessing on the way. We also have a second and third grader, and that requires a good bit of teaching and interaction with me since they are still in very formative years. So inevitably, one question people often ask me is “how do you homeschool with all these little ones around?” The general answer is that it’s not easy, but it is doable. And I have found some methods for getting it done, but it is often less than picturesque. The thing we homeschool moms of many eventually come to understand (otherwise we’d lose our sanity) is that we are running a HOME-school…. major emphasis on the home. We are a family in a home environment, and we happen to do school here, among many other things. It will not, and should not (if our priorities are in check) look like a traditional classroom.

Now mamas these are just methods, but we are talking about real-living, active, and energetic babies, toddlers,  and preschoolers….. so you know what that’s like right? There are interruptions, and often times those interruptions are put there for a very important reason. How we view those interruptions and respond to them is often times more important than what we need to accomplish with school that day. So with that little bit of encouragement, here are some methods for occupying little ones that do work for us most of the time so that we can get our schooling done.

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Methods for Occupying Little Ones:

big sister time/ one on one time : Often times I will have one of my older girls play with the little girls in the next room (babysitter style) while I have one-on-one lesson time with the other. This is usually in 15 to 30 minute increments, it works great for working in a quick reading or language arts lesson. Sometimes a snack time is needed to break up the switching of sisters, and sometimes if things are going well the switch can be made pretty easily.

play-pen, high chair,  gated independent bedroom play: This has worked for almost all of my babies, toddlers, and preschool age. I will say this is my primary go-to method that I use all throughout my day. It may take the child a few days in a row to get use to it, but they usually catch on and will learn how to play in the contained place with the assigned toy(s) that they are given. I put babies in a play pen with a few toys. Toddlers and preschoolers I put them alone in a gated child-safe bedroom (the gate is more of a reminder because they can get out if they want, but they are trained not to unless they need to go “potty”). I don’t give them full access to all their toys (this keeps the mess down), they usually only have one or two sets; sometimes I choose the toys for them and sometimes I let them choose. I don’t let my 2 and 3 year old play together in the room alone, that is a recipe for a melt down or for mischief. They do much better separated! High chair play is usually with things like coloring, puzzles, water painting, or play-doh. All of these can usually work for 30 minutes, and sometimes up to an hour unless it is at nap or meal time.

a learning dvd in a high chair: I’m not a big fan of media for kids, but one way that I do use media to my advantage is this. I put my preschool/ toddler children into their high chairs, buckle them up, and show them a carefully selected learning or Bible memory DVD. I use a small portable DVD player at our kitchen table for this since we do not have an actual TV. I like this method for many reasons: First because it forces them to actually watch the show instead of playing and having it as background noise to glance up at every now and then. I also like that it limits their time to that one 30 minute long DVD,  and when it is over it is over, and that is our “show” for the day. I like that I have full control of it, I’m very picky about what my kids watch and with the portable DVD player there is no opportunity to switch channels or click on another option.

My thoughts on “blanket time”: Some people swear by “blanket time”, but honestly I’ve never been able to have tons of success with that. “Blanket time” for those who don’t know is training your child to stay on a blanket and play with a specific set of toys. You train them to do it, and increase the time. I have trained my 2 and 3 year old girls to do it, and they can for a time, but it’s more trouble to me than it is worth, and it’s definitely not my ‘go to’ during the homeschool day. It works great at the park or at someone’s house if I’m talking with another mom and want my child to stay close, but it doesn’t buy me as much time as these above mentioned options, and it requires pretty close supervision and pausing to discipline when they eventually get distracted and climb off the blanket. I could possibly invest more training time in this and see more success, but for now I definitely prefer the other methods because for me they bring about less interruptions.

“Together time” (also referred to as “morning time”, “basket time”, and other names) : This is also a popular method that many of my friends and mentors love to do with their homeschool. I do this for a short time in the mornings for Bible, hymns, and memory work. This time also doubles as church training time for my younger ones. I require them to sit still and quiet just as they will be expected to do in church. This training time for the littles is so valuable! We use this time in the morning and our family devotions in the evening as our set aside time to “church train” the smaller ones, but it also gives us time to teach. I dream of one day adding read aloud books to this, but the variety of age range and abilities to sit still make adding anything extra too much for us. I like to do Bible, hymns, and catechism because I want all of my children biggest to the smallest to hear these things each day. Memory work is also great because those little ones sing along with history sentences and Latin songs so easily. They are learning even if they have no clue what they are memorizing!

outside or inside free play : On nice days we will all go outside, I bring a few lesson books so the big girls and I can sit on the deck and work through lessons while the little ones play in the yard. Other days when it’s not as nice out, I let the littles have free play time in the living room while I do lessons with the big girls. Sure it brings a few extra distractions, but sometimes I think that’s good training for my older girls since real-life is not typically “library quiet” every time you need to use your brain.

nap time/rest time : This is definitely some prime time for homeschooling, but it’s also prime time for other restful and refreshing activities which is why I really try to do our schooling with the little ones awake. Sometimes we use naps for special lessons, crafts, science experiments, or read aloud time, but for the most part I have all of my children have a quiet hour right after lunch (even the older ones, they color and draw and listen to an audio book). This is when I get a chance to really dig into the Word, journal, and pray. Morning devotions are much more rushed and groggy for me and often times include morning snuggles with a baby or toddler which is lovely, but can be a bit distracting. I really enjoy having this scheduled time with the Lord in the middle of the day when I’m alert and when I really need a refresh the most. My kiddos do often sleep longer than an hour in the day, so after my set aside time in the Word, I often use that extra time for schooling or for chore training (teaching my big girls how to do a new chore, always time well spent!) And sometimes I use it that last half of naptime to get my own nap or a shower when it’s needed.

baby sitter/ mother’s helper : This is something we are pursuing this year for the first time (Lord willing! But we are still praying about who to hire for this.) Disclaimer: I haven’t tried it yet, so I’m only imagining how I think it will work, but I can’t wait to find out first hand. After discussing it and praying about it with my husband, we really feel like it will be a good investment for us to have a Christian young lady come to be a mother’s helper two mornings a week. I’m planning for her to watch my three younger children in my home while I teach my older two in the homeschool room. Really this is such a win for everyone! This girl will get valuable experience learning about caring for children, homemaking, and homeschooling, as well as an opportunity to make money in a safe work environment.  And I will have a very needed extra set of hands to help with the little ones so that I can focus more time on teaching the older two, because like I said above, schooling with lots of little ones is not easy. There are ways to do it, but it requires a lot of intentionality, focus, and energy…. and let’s face it, some days we mamas just don’t have that in us and school has to take the back seat. It will be so nice to know that two days out of the week are truly set aside for teaching my older children. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but it’s certainly worth praying about and considering. I mean, isn’t this kind of help all year long way better than a vacation? It is for me! One thing that helped us decide to pursue this was weighing out other potentially helpful options: I looked up some information on a few local co-ops where homeschool students would be taught core subjects in a classroom setting two days a week and have home school assignments for the others. We decided this was not a good fit for our family for three reasons: They cost WAY more than hiring a mother’s helper for those two days. And I would not be able to choose the curriculum I want. I also could not choose the teachers or the kind of students that would be influencing my children for those two days each week. We already have Classical Conversations one day a week and our church community at least two days a week, and I feel like that is all of the peer time that I want my children to have at this stage of life. That will likely change as they get older, but for now I see good fruit by keeping that time with peers and other influences limited.

***(((updating)))***

I wanted to update this to share how the mother’s helper thing is going. In three words: I LOVE IT. We were able to hire a sweet 16 year old young lady who is also homeschooled. She is on the older end of a very large family, so she works well with little ones and is very capable of handling all the various situations that come up with three children who are 3 and under. To be honest, I’m learning a thing or two from her as I watch her interact with my littles through the glass doors of our school room. She comes from 9am to 1pm. I use the morning hours up until 11:30 to homeschool the big girls. I try to get through all my “with mom” lesson loops for each of my girls. (I’ll share more about this in the next section because it has also helped tremendously with juggling homeschool and littles). At 11:30 I send my bigs outside because they need to get some energy out, and that’s when I make lunch for all the crew. We all eat lunch together. I like this because I get to chat with my mother’s helper about how the kids are doing and about things in her life; I like getting to know her. After lunch my bigs get some time with her because they love older girls, they usually play a board or card game together or go outside and play tag or do tricks on the trampoline for about thirty minutes before she heads out; while they do that I lay the smaller ones down for afternoon naps. It is a perfect fit for us. We get so much done on those mornings, and I love that she is such a good example and someone my bigger girls can get to know and look up to. So I will say this, choose your mother’s helper wisely. This was something we prayed about quite a bit, and the Lord has really answered by giving us a great one who has been raised and trained well in a Christian family with very similar convictions and ideas to our family. I’m so thankful!

Independent Work list and “With Mom” Lesson Loops:

I’m adding this in as well because this was actually something I tweaked and added in a week or two into our school year; and it has worked extremely well! I’ll do a detailed post on this soon, but the short version is this. My girls have a list of things they can and are expected to accomplish on their own each day. Things like Bible reading alone for 30 minutes (or Bible listening for they younger who is not quite ready to read it on her own), Scripture copy work, cursive practice, memory work practice, geography practice, Teaching Textbooks, math review worksheets, and music practice. They are expected to get through this list every single day without me having to help direct very much. I might sound like a mean old mama, but I discipline if they are off task; they can play when they are done. I interrupt them when I get little ones settled into something for a few minutes giving me a chance to do a “with mom” lesson. The littles might be playing contently or watching a learning DVD and I make good use of that time by grabbing up one of the bigs to do a 15 to 20 minute lesson. With Mom lessons are exactly what they sound like: they are one on one lessons with me and my child. I have created a loop list of lessons I do with my girls. On my loop I have: First Language lessons, Writing with Ease, reading/narration with history/science/biographies (CC matchups or -whatever I choose- They read out loud to me to work on reading skills, I read to them a bit, they narrate and sometimes do some notebooking), math lessons (with my younger), All About Spelling, and Polished Cornerstones (our Bible character study). On the mother’s helper days we do lots of “with mom” lessons, but on the other days I have my bigs work through their independent work and we usually only get to two with mom lessons a day with each child. I just work through a loop, when I get them all done then I start back at the top. The loop helps so much because I found that if I started with Language Arts every day then we never got around to history or science reading or Polished Cornerstones. The loop ensures we get to everything I want to get to. I also have a rest time loop for my girls each day they do a different thing during the quiet hours so that I can get some quiet time alone with the Lord each day to study, pray, and journal. Their loop is currently: Story of the World audio books and map tracing, audio book and free art or coloring, and Sing Song Latin DVDs. They just do one a day for an hour to an hour and half.  This whole system has been working extremely well for us. Balancing our homeschool and little ones finally doesn’t feel so impossible for me. There’s definitely a learning curve to all of this so my best advice is to dive in and tweak as needed. The thing that is working for me now is working only after much tweaking and many rough days where I thought, “this isn’t working!” So if that is you, don’t lose heart…. you WILL find what works for you. Pray and ask for wisdom and start trying different methods. Give yourself lots of grace!!! You can do this mama!

Hopefully you got an idea or two for homeschooling with little ones. Feel free to share some of your own methods in the comments. I’m still learning too and I love to hear what works for you!

Happy Homeschooling!

-S