Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Plans


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Oh my, I probably could not be more excited about this upcoming CC cycle!

This will be our 6fth year using Classical Conversations materials, and our 4th year participating in a CC community. We’ve done a little of everything. We’ve done CC memory work on our own at home, and we’ve been a part of 3 different local communities. I love my CC community that I’m currently in and can not imagine doing this homeschooling gig without them!

Every year I feel like our homeschool journey becomes brighter and more beautiful than the year before. This past year things really began to click for us from about November on. I began to not just find what works for us, but also what I love! I’ve finally discovered the things that make me excited to do another homeschool day.

I’ve always loved Classical education and Charlotte Mason. However they definitely have their differences with each-other which in some ways makes them seem like opposing views. But what has happened as of this past year is that I’ve finally found how to merge the things that I love most about each philosophy. Those places where there are differences have offered me the opportunity to balance things well. For example, CM doesn’t promote rote memory and Classical does. Funny thing is, I believe in the power of the young mind to memorize, even if it makes no sense to them (classical), but I also know the power of laying a feast of interesting stories and experiences before my children and watching them fall in love with their material in a way that keeps them begging for more.  Enter the balancing act: as we learn our memory work (which my children greatly enjoy because it’s singing songs while dancing and twirling around the living room in their sock feet or working through an adult coloring book!) it offers us launching off points to dig into beautiful living books, narrations, nature studies, and hands on experiences that will cause my children to not just “know” the information, but to also experience it and fall in love with it. There’s an old quote that I love, “Education is not the filling of a basket, but the lighting of a fire.” (I’m not sure who said it, and I may have misquoted slightly, but it really is what I desire for our homeschool.)

I want to preface this by saying that you do not have to approach CC as I do. There are actually many ways to approach it. Some use a more straight forward “stick in the sand” method. “Stick in the sand” is just a fancy way of saying keep it really simple! You could do CC with a pen and paper, and some extra stuff as the guide explains. Read the guide! It truly helps the teacher know how the curriculum is meant to function. From there you can tweak it with your own homeschooling preferences. Since I love the Charlotte Mason approach, I’ve opted to expound upon the CC curriculum with a great deal of CM flavor.

With that little explanation of the way our little Classical / Charlotte Mason / CC homeschool flows,

I give you my plans for this upcoming CC Cycle 3 school year!

(All of these plans I make are always Lord willing. I trust that He will direct our path.)

Geography

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My girls will use the Geo app on our kindle fire for 15 minutes a day to practice (Seterra is another good one for android or iphone). We will also be using the CC songs that our community supplies with the CDs they give us (They have geography, science, and English grammar songs so that all of our memory work can be set to music. I love that!) My pre-k child will simply learn the songs and we will work on the app together a few times a week. We will read the books above together and listen to the audiobook “Paddle to the Sea”, we’ve listened before, but will do again and trace out the journey on a map. Each day as an independent assignment for my big girls they will work step by step through the “Draw the USA” book. It looks so neat that I’m going to try to learn how along with them. “The 50 States” book is such a big beautiful book that we will work through as our memory work introduces us to the various states. It has a lovely US map in the front with an index, then it goes through each state telling little interesting tid-bits that will make each one memorable.

Science

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The first 12 weeks we will be working through the Apologia Anatomy book. I do not plan to do the whole curriculum as is, but instead to pick and choose the portions I want to focus on. I will have my bigs do narrations and notebooking using the charts and pictures, and we will do some of the suggested hands on activities. I got the audio CD to it as well so that we could listen to it if we wanted to. I love to read to my girls, but sometimes it’s nice to sit back and have someone else read to us. The See Inside Your Body Usborne book. This book I will work through with my pre k child and my bigs will explore it on their own. In fact they already have been digging in and loving it!  I actually bought it from amazon, that’s how I buy all of my Usborne books. Cheaper prices and free shipping! For weeks 13-18 we will use The Elements and our Usborne Encyclopedia of Science using our same notebooking and narration approach. I’m planning on some friendly games of periodic table battle ship and messing around with this interactive periodic table. We will likely visit a local Science Museum to learn a bit more about these things first hand as well. Weeks 19-24 we will dig into What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs, Jonathon Park auido books, and portions of “It Couldn’t Just Happen”. That last part will likely go through the summer because we homeschool year round. Those last 3 are all great resources to support creation science and to demonstrate the fallacies of evolutionary scientific thought. I’m also hoping for a family trip to the Creation Museum as a hands on learning experience for this portion of our science.

U.S. History

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This may be the part I am most excited about!!! I purchased this set from Beautiful Feet Books when it was on sale, and let me just say, these books are exquisite! I also will be going through American Pioneers and Patriots (another really fabulous book!) and Stories of the Pilgrims which I really appreciate for it’s approach to the faith of many of the Puritan pilgrims that settled in America. I plan to read these to my girls and have them give me oral narrations as well as do one weekly written narration for their notebooks. And we will keep on with Story of the World. We are just now wrapping up Book 3 (perfect timing, we are learning about the early explorers to America) and will continue on listening/reading and discussing these books together. Story of the World is written in such a way that it really needs discussion and parent oversight to wrap Biblical worldview around the things presented. I use it not only as a history curriculum, but also as a launching off point for important Gospel and/or ethical discussions. There is a lot in human history, and humans are evil and wicked apart from Christ, and it’s in child language, but she doesn’t leave much out and she doesn’t do the discerning for you. (so there’s your warning) It will be a full year! And I’m hoping to venture on some US history field trips as well. I still need to do a little research on that front.

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So look out CC cycle 3 cause here we come!

Adoration Bible Journal

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A little over a year ago, I received a journaling Bible as a gift. I already had one that I was working through, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with a second. I put it on the shelf for a while, contemplated giving it as a gift, but then I randomly had an idea….

What if I read and journaled through this Bible specifically with the purpose of learning who the Lord was and worshiping Him for those things?

I decided it seemed like a good endeavor and this extra became my “Adoration Bible”. My daughters actually know which one I’m asking for if they are fetching it for me by that name. (I find that kinda sweet.)

So I set out on this journey over a year ago adoring the Lord as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures using this little black journaling Bible. I had no idea at the time what a great impact it would have on my heart and spiritual life.

Fast forward a year later, and I can’t imagine life without this practice. It gives my heart a solid anchor to cling to moment by moment.

3 things Adoration Bible journaling does for the believer

 1. It stirs up enjoyment and delight in God.

The Westminster catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I tend to be a “what do I need to do” kinda girl when I read the Bible, which is not a bad thing. In many ways, we should read the Scriptures with a submissive heart that says, “not my will, but Yours be done” and realizing that the Scripture is where the Lord has revealed His law and will to us. It’s an important piece, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” What we do (our obedience) is important, but that is only one piece of the puzzle. To enjoy God, how do we do that? Well we have to meditate on who He is and let those truths permeate our hearts, then they will flow from our lips and thoughts. Nothing quite sustains our hearts on the darker days like meditating on who God is and praising Him for it.  We should be praising the Lord often in our hearts and with our mouths, or our little typing fingers… however it is we are communicating, we should be communicating how wonderful the Lord is because that should be flowing from our hearts. But those things will not be the meditations of our hearts if we aren’t intentionally seeking them out.

Now one quick thing about obedience, I dare say that the two things, obedience and adoration (loving and enjoying God) go hand in hand. You really can’t have one without the other. You may find people who are filled up with obedience ideas and that is their heart focus. They talk about how they live this way and that and they have the Scripture to back it up, but they have no love and delight in God Himself. That’s a huge red flag! Often times that means they love those laws because of the way their obedience is self-exalting above those who don’t obey. And then on the other side of this cliff, there are those who get extremely excited to talk about the things of the Lord, they lift hands high, dance, jump, leap, and shout about how great and wonderful God is, but do not seek to know and obey His commandments. That is not true love for God, because again remember that Jesus said if we love Him we will keep His commandments. True love for Him seeks to say, “what are the commandments, and oh Lord help me to keep them!, with all my heart I want to!”  We definitely need both sides of the coin. We should love and delight in the Lord, and if that love and delight is genuine then it will be lived out in our obedience to the Lord.

2. It helps us to guard our hearts against lies about who God is or isn’t.

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. -Romans 10:2

This Scripture often jumps off the page to me when I read it. In the context Paul is talking about the Jews, how they worship God by trying to keep the law in order to be made right before the Lord. They are zealous for the Scripture and the Law without the knowledge of Jesus Christ and how He is our righteousness and fulfillment of the law.

In a similar but different way I see this same problem of zealousness without knowledge in our own culture. Modern America has a different problem than the Jews. Here we have so many brands of Christianity, some of those sadly are nothing close to the Bible and what it says. They alter their lives, they live with zeal, but sadly it is zeal without knowledge. I find myself often puzzled by certain “christian” bloggers who will say God is like this, Jesus is like that, the Lord approves of this action or that one, and they have absolutely no Biblical basis for the claims they are making. Not a Scripture one is mentioned. Just making up a god of their own ideas and liking, an idol to put it more accurately, and they are calling it, “Jesus”. This is so dangerous. And it is everywhere. Too often because of the popularity of these types of unscriptural claims there are even Christians who will believe these and begin sharing them with their brothers and sisters.  People tend to like their ears tickled. The feel good messages with “Jesus” stamped on it tend to make rounds quite quickly. Oh how easily we can be deceived when we are not guarding our hearts and holding fast to what the Lord has revealed in the Scripture. That is another reason adoration Bible journaling is such a valuable practice. It not only stirs up our hearts to love and enjoy God by seeing clearly who He is, but it also teaches us what is true about Him so that when deceptions come we will be able to fight against the schemes and lies of the evil one and those who are under his influence.

3. It gives a solid place to fix our hearts, hope, and joy no matter what happens in our lives.

Awhile back I wrote a post on rejoicing in the Lord. This has been instrumental in enabling me to do that in the throws of motherhood. Children are a blessing, but there are also many challenges that come with serving, teaching, and training these sweet children day in and day out. When the house-work piles up, the kids act up, and I feel utterly exhausted, I still have a steady place to fix my heart. Although my situations change moment by moment, there is no shadow of turning with the Lord. He remains the same beautiful and magnificent Lord.

 

It took me a little while to get a method, but now here is what I do:

  • I choose a book of the Bible to go straight through. (Usually it’s something we are going through at church or in family devotions) In between books or for a change of pace, I will go through a Psalm.

I think it’s important even while focusing on adoration to go straight through books of the Bible, also it’s just as important to pick books you wouldn’t necessarily think of such as Deuteronomy, and remembering that God is the same today as He was then, but now the covenant has been fulfilled through Jesus Christ. You can look for the promises of the Savior to come, but also pay close attention to the holiness and righteousness of God. The reason I believe it is important to do this is to keep us from picking and choosing certain attributes to focus on to the neglect others. God has many attributes, and we should seek to worship Him for all of them, not just the ones that make us feel warm fuzzies. All of His attributes are good.  Also this method keeps us understanding the Scripture in context. It is important that we know what God is really saying about Himself, and not just an idea we get from a sentence or two pulled out of context.

  • I pray that the Lord would reveal Himself to me and cause my heart to delight more in Him.
  • I read through the passage a bit; analyze what it is saying in general, and specifically what it is saying about God. Then  I go back through a second time with a highlighter (colored pencils tend to make the best in my opinion because they do not bleed through). I highlight the sentences that tell me something about the character of God.
  • I then read those over and over, meditate on many different aspects of those truths and begin praising the Lord for those things. At this point I also start journaling prayers and praises of who He is in the journaling space.
  • Throughout the day or next few days I try to keep focusing on these things. Often times I will find a place to keep my adoration Bible opened to that page so that I can come back to it and bring my mind back to those truths in the chaos of kids and homeschooling and house cleaning. This is why the journaling and highlighting is so helpful. I can simply take a quick glance at the page and remember what I learned.

An Example of Adoration Bible Journaling with Psalm 16

Psalm 16 is one of my favorites. I recently went through it in my adoration Bible and although I’ve had it memorized for over a year and have meditated on it many times, this brought new things to light for me that I had not seen before. Here is a look at the page.

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Now I don’t do this every single day, although it would be a fabulous thing to do every day! …..but many days I just read and pray through my Bible reading plan using the Bible app on my phone, and I try to work this in whenever I can. I always find the 10 to 30 minutes I spend on it to be time very well spent. It’s the perfect pick-me-up when it’s been a crazy day- when my hubby gets home, I often ask if I can have 30 minutes of quiet in the bedroom before we all move into dinner. Adoration Bible Journaling is one the best actives to fill that time with for me. Another time I love to do it is when my children are playing outside in the evenings after dinner. If everyone is playing nicely then I can sneak this in and it’s so refreshing. I share this tid-bit to say that even busy moms can do it! And it doesn’t have to be this all or nothing thing. Just do a few verses at a time.

I hope this concept of Adoration Bible Journaling is helpful!

Blessings to you as you grow in knowing and adoring the one true living God!

Family Albums Made Simple

My big spring cleaning project is a bit different this year. I have an area of clutter that I have put off and put off for quite some time. I finally decided to take the plunge and get it done. What is this project? Photos! Literally, thousands of digital photos on my computer. I have years worth of unprinted pictures. In fact I had almost no printed photos of my youngest four children until just recently. I had SO MUCH digital clutter, and not a single real family album to show for it.

Once I dove into this project, I can not tell you how happy I was to have these precious memories in albums where we as a family can delight in them and (Lord willing) treasure them for many many years. It was way easier than I ever imagined it would be. So for those of you super busy mamas with a mountain of digital photos just waiting to be printed and enjoyed, this post is for you.

You all know me, I need simple or it just will not happen.

Once upon a time, a long long time ago I use to be a scrapbooker. To be honest, my scrapbooking side was a part of the reason I never tackled my photo printing. I had a vision of one day scrapbooking all of these precious memories on gorgeous spreads, but the more children I had and the more photos I took, the more I began to see that “one day” may never come. I contemplated what I actually had the time and energy to accomplish, and this is what I did.

Family Albums Made Simple

  1. I uploaded ALL OF MY PHOTOS into Amazon Prime Photos. Did you know Amazon has unlimited photo storage for prime members? I love it! It was mind-blowingly simple. Amazon literally does all the organizing work for you, they sync everything and put it in order by the date it was taken. They even sync phone photos if you download the app. That’s the kind of simple this mama needed!Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  2. I decided this album would be our yearly family albums. It holds 400 4×6 pictures. I figure I can dwindle it down to 400 favorites that really capture the highlights of our year. I take a lot of pictures of our daily life, so 400 is a top best kind-of thing. But really, in the end isn’t that what we want, our all time favorites in the album? Now on trips or vacations I probably take about 400 photos (easily), for that reason I decided to do something different to print and keep those special trip details, Chatbooks! I’m going to share a bit more about that below. For the yearly family albums I may select 5-10 of group photos of really special moments on the trip, and save all the others for the Chatbook.Processed with VSCO with a4 preset
  3. Now are you ready for this? I printed the pictures from amazon photo printing. Let me say that again, I printed the pictures. This is a big deal for me ya’ll! I can’t believe how long I put this off waiting for the right time to perfectly edit, crop, and scrapbook them. So glad I got over that! Here’s what I did: I started with the most recent year; no filters, no edits, no cropping, just printing. I clicked the little check boxes of about 400 favorites  from 2016 and hit order. They came to my doorstep two days later. I told you I needed simple. It got done! I just thought, “simple pictures in an album are better than digital pictures just waiting to become the casualty of a computer crash”… way better! Right? Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  4. I was able to put them all in the 2016 family album in one Sunday afternoon. This process was so fun and non-stressful! I was able to look at and delight in the little memories as I simply placed them in the album. I left a few spaces empty to place 4×6 cardstock with handwritten journaling about the little details I want us to remember for years to come. I haven’t done the journaling step yet, (I’ll add photos and update here once I do.) but these or something similar are the 4X6 lined journaling cards I plan to use. I will write on them and slide them in, and that satisfies the scrapbook side of me just fine. One neat idea for people who can’t quite fill up 400 spaces, order some cute project life cards and slide them in to give the spread a little extra something.Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Easy Peasy. Now time to start on the 2015 album and keep working my way back.

Here’s a little look into the album. After seeing it come together, I may actually like the simplicity of this better than my scrapbook spreads that I worked hours on. The focus here is the memories, pure and simple, just as they were in real life. It’s beautiful to me.

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Trip, Vacation, and Specialty Albums

Now about those trip and vacation albums. I used Chatbooks.

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The reason I went with Chatbooks is because they are so simple to put together (because ya know, I need simple), and very inexpensive to order.

In fact you can use this code to get a book for free (I believe it’s the soft cover 60 page book) : UP2QX4T2

Which reminds me, Chatbooks is amazing with instagram and facebook photos. It will pull them right from your account and put the book together for you, dated and captioned. All of your photos and captions can be easily printed in lovely $8 books or upgrade to a hardcover for $5 more. You can even change captions, or choose to not add certain photos that were on your insta or fb that you don’t need or want in your family album. I am currently working on using my Abiding Woman instagram photos as a personal journal where I keep little thoughts, reflections, favorite Scriptures or hymns, and encouragements alongside my instagram photos. I just linked Chatbooks to my instagram and I’m working through the journaling in my free time. But you don’t have to do it through instagram or facebook, you can just get on the site and upload from your computer. That’s what I did with my trip albums. It’s so so simple! They have adorable cover options also, so be sure to click the little lightbulb and check them out.

I recently created a book filled with our Banff, Glacier, and Mount Rushmore photos. Here’s a little look at it.

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This is how I plan to do all of our family trips. And one day soon, when all my current projects are caught up, I plan to make Chatbook baby books for each of my girls and gift books for family. It’s so simple and affordable, and you can do so much with it. The books are a great size, not at all bulky. They make great keepsakes to display on a coffee table or to slide on a shelf. I love it!

Time to get started.

So if printing and documenting your family memories is long overdue, then do what this busy mama did. It was easy peasy, and I LOVE my albums! It’s time to clean out all those beautiful photos and put them where they belong, in your hands. Make it your spring cleaning project.

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Family albums made simple.

Casting Down the Idol of a Clean Home

clean home

In the midst of spring cleaning season this may seem like an odd post. So let me start out by saying with honesty and enthusiasm that I believe in having a clean home. A clean house is a good thing! It is a good thing to work for and it is good to desire to have. I absolutely love when my house is all clean! That may seem like a bit of a strange intro to a post entitled “Casting Down the Idol of a Clean Home”, but I think it’s an important starting point. As women we are called by God to be sensible and pure workers at home. (Titus 2:5) One of our primary roles given to us by the Lord is to work within our homes serving our husbands and children. This means we are the ones who do (or delegate and oversee) the dusting, the laundry, the toilet scrubbing, dishes, and the list goes on. That is good and right, and we should do that with joy! We should desire to do it well, and work diligently to improve in areas that we struggle in. We should do this job heartily as unto the Lord, and not to please men.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Colossians 3:23-24)

I believe whole-heartedly that the idolizing of a clean house comes when we are no longer doing our work of homemaking as unto the Lord, but instead we are doing it to please ourselves and the eyes of men. All idolatry is sin against the Lord that must be confessed and repented of. A Christian lady will not walk in this once she sees it, she will turn from it and call upon the help of the Holy Spirit to do so. She will give herself to meditating on God’s Word and to spiritual disciplines, and she will fight this sin. I say that so plainly because it’s easy to read a post like this and think, “Oh, I do that too, glad I’m not the only one”, and then never actually repent of it. It is one thing to read a post like this and recognize a sin problem, but that won’t really accomplish anything. Our response when we see idolatry in our hearts is to turn from it: that will likely begin as turning from it moment by moment, bringing all of your thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ, confessing our sins and failures to the Lord and knowing He will forgive us. In time by the help of the Spirit you will grow stronger, and your heart will learn to look more faithfully to the Lord as you work, and these temptations to idolatry will be less and less. Sanctification is such an amazing and freeing thing! It brings such joy! But sanctification does take willingness and work on our behalf, and it is worth pursuing. This is what it looks like to submit to Jesus as Lord.

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Clean House Idolatry Hearthcheck

Here are a few things we can ask ourselves to identify the idol of a clean home.

  • Do I lose my joy, am I consumed with anxiety when we have a life event (sickness, pregnancy, or a similar event) that prevents me from tending to the house and it seems as if everything falls behind and out of order? Or will I accept that this is exactly what the Lord has for us right now? It was in His sovereign plan for this event to occur, and He intends to use it for our good and for His glory. 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. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9) Will I think on this truth when the going gets tough and find my joy in Him or will I let the mess in my house cause me to sin against the Lord with my anxiety and despair? We must learn to rejoice even in the midst of chaos, weakness, and messes.
  • Do I put my to do list and cleaning schedule before my kids? Do I value productivity more than people? Do I feel like I have more important things to do in the area of cleaning and homemaking that I neglect the hearts of my children? Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4) Honestly ladies, I struggle with this, that’s why I’m writing about it…. I’ve been thinking about this. I have a vision of being a nurturing relational mother, and yet at the end of some days I regret that while I did get a lot done on my list; laundry is caught up, floors are mopped, closets are organized, some freezer meals were put together, but I didn’t really interact with my children in meaningful ways. That is not how I want to live, and I don’t think that is right. God has given these children to me as one of my first priorities. The messes clean up and get messy again, but teachable moments and sweet little opportunities to really deepen relationship with my children don’t always come back around.
  • Do I get quick tempered with my children, lose my patience and gentleness, yell at them because they are making a mess or making it impossible for me to get anything done around the house? Do I act out of my flesh or am I walking in the Spirit when these things happen? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24) Do I sigh, moan, and grumble at my little interruptions that hinder productivity? Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world. (Phillipians 2:14-15) I too have to take these thoughts captive and turn from this behavior; I don’t have this all together, but I’m identifying it and I’m choosing to see these little people as God sees them. Children are called a “heritage” or “gift” and a “reward” in the Bible. Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psalm 127:3) God views them as way more important than a clean home. I think this is something we would do well to think on often in regards to the children He has given us, do we treat them as more important than a clean home?

If you see yourself in any of this, then join me in casting down this idol.

Casting down the idol

We must begin to turn our hearts more and more fully to the Lord for all things.

  • He has given grace upon grace to cover this sin struggle of idolizing our clean house by sending Jesus to die for our sins; He took the wrath this idolatry deserves upon Himself. That is such a joyful and freeing thing. We do not have to walk in defeat or despair. We can walk in victory in our pursuit of holiness.
  • He has given His Word to shape our thoughts and renew our minds so that we will know what is true and right.We must be willing to do the hard work of renewing our minds. It may help you to write some of the Scriptures above down and put them up on the fridge so that you can pray through them and meditate on them when the house is getting messy and you’re starting to lose your cool.
  • He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us put this sin to death and to turn from it when temptation comes. When you feel those anxious thoughts about the messes in the house creeping in, pray and ask for the help of the Spirit. We have a good Father who loves to care for His children and give them what they need to overcome sin.

He has given us everything we need to cast down this idol of a clean home and to worship the Lord in and through our homemaking, child raising, and all the many productivity interruptions that the Lord has planned for us.

Let us run to Him today.

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idol of a clean home

Spring Cleaning Challenge Giveaway!

Now for all of you who are trying to do a bit of spring cleaning, I have something fun! How can it be? Another instant pot giveaway? And a $50 amazon gift card? I know, awesome, right? All the details are below!

SWEET! The InstantPot pressure cooker has been on my wish list, and Amazon gift cards are my love langue. :) Awesome spring homemaking giveaway!

I’m joining with some fantastic homemakers to host a 6-week spring clean and declutter challenge starting March 6! Click here to download the planner and find out more about the challenge. THEN enter below to win the Spring Homemaking Giveaway to bless your home and family! The winner will receive an Instant Pot Duo 6-quart 7-in-1 pressure cooker! ($234.95 value) AND a $50 Amazon gift card!

Giveaway runs until 11:59pm PST on 4/23/17. Winner will be notified via email and has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

(because my comments are disabled, leave a comment on this post for your first entry)

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Our Classical Homeschool 2016-2017 Curriculum Review and Improvements

full curriculum review

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Choosing curriculum is really just making a good guess at what *will* work. We read reviews, we look at samples, but there’s no way to actually know if it is “for us” until we try it. I don’t want to get discouraged when we have to make changes mid-year. When I find that something isn’t for us I either try to sell it, find a creative way to use parts of it that will work for us, or I just chalk it up as a loss (donate it) and move on to something better. This year I’ve done a little bit of all the above.

I shared our curriculum choices for 2016-2017 school year back in September. We used all of the materials listed there; some we loved and some we didn’t really care for. I’m going to give a full review of each of them, and share a few improvements we have made since then.

Curriculum Review

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.

Review: I have enjoyed this choice. We just now found our rhythm with Polished Cornerstones, and are working through one to two projects a month. This book is the type of thing that we will still be working through in high school. It has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Biblical womanhood, so much that it can seem a bit overwhelming, but the author suggests not trying to complete everything there, but simply selecting something and doing it well. That’s what we are doing. The Truth and Grace book is still a favorite. We use it daily and my older girls almost have the whole children’s catechism memorized, my younger girls (ages 3 and 2) have a third of it memorized. It’s a wonderful tool for parents to teach Scripture and truth to their children and give them a solid foundation; I highly recommend it. We have continued to read the Bible out loud and I have them read alone. As far as their reading the Scriptures alone, it is very student led, but I help them set goals and ask them what they are reading on their own and what they are learning from the Word. This often prompts amazing discussions. I love just randomly asking my girls at breakfast, “What have you been reading in God’s Word lately? What is He teaching you through it?” And other questions like that. I have added in some Scripture copy work (I have them write whatever we are currently memorizing and paint or draw a picture to go along with it) and Children’s Catechism copy work from Classical Copy work. (aff. link) I’m really liking the Children’s Catechism addition because it is independent and reinforces what we are already learning, not to mention that copywork has many benefits from a Language Arts perspective. It helps them learn proper sentence structure, spelling, and works their handwriting skills. You can take time to ask questions such as: “Can you point to the nouns?”, “Can you point to the pronouns?”, the verbs, adverbs, etc…Which really helps solidify all that Grammar memory work we are doing in Classical Conversations. It only take a few minutes to have a quick impromptu LA lesson with copywork.

All About Spelling, Writing with Ease, First Language Lessons curriculum review

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

Review: Hold on to your hats ladies, this could get long. I’ll try not to be too wordy, but I have quite a few thoughts because First Language Lessons and Writing with Ease were just not for us, and I want to share why. In general they are a solid LA curriculum. They teach from a classical style (which I liked and enjoyed) and they are very simple to use.

However here were some of my qualms with these picks.

First Language Lessons is a curriculum that builds upon itself and you pretty much have to start at the beginning, but starting at the beginning was below the level of learning and capability of my 7 and 8 year old. We did most of book one and then just gave it up because it was too easy and therefore getting boring and redundant. I think that if we had started in kindergarten or first grade (at the latest) then First Language Lessons would have been a better fit.

Also, Classical Conversations covers what is taught from a classical grammar stand-point in FLL. My girls are already memorizing the parts of speech, the full list of prepositions, definitions of pronouns and adverbs, etc… We have a more Charlotte Mason approach to narrations and poetry, we just enjoy them together and read books that we like or that correlate with our Classical Conversations. So this made the book a bit redundant as well. We were already doing all of those things. Even in book 3 it starts sentence diagramming; well my oldest will be starting that in our CLE workbooks this year, and digging in more in Classical Conversations Essentials class next year. I just don’t feel like we need to double-dip. I don’t have time for that.

Another issue I had with FLL is that it can only be done with me. It is not something I can assign as independent work, and that simply doesn’t work for me. In “Large Family Logistics” (one of my favorite homemaking books ever), it suggests that large family mamas choose main subjects that can be done as independent work (for the most part). I didn’t really heed that advice until lately, and it makes a huge difference in what we can accomplish in a day! If you are having a hard time “getting it all done”, then I suggest finding curriculum that can be done independently. For kinder through second you will still need to be a good bit hands on in lessons, but by third grade they should be able to do a lot by themselves.

I am keeping my FLL set (I have levels 1-3), and I may use them when my younger crew starts working through kindergarten. If I do end up using them, I will alter the memory work portions to match CC memory work so as to not confuse them, but I will just cross that bridge when I get there. I also may use parts of them to teach certain concepts such as sentence diagramming or the poems or narration practice alone. They are a good tool in general. I always have to remind myself that I’m the one in charge of the curriculum and I don’t have to use it as the author suggests, I can use it in a way that best suits our trajectory and vision. (add that to the long list of reasons why I love homeschooling! )

Writing with Ease: I did not care for this curriculum at all! It is classical and would teach the child well from an academic stand-point, but from a spiritual stand-point I was not okay with what was being presented to my children in the material. Many of the authors and stories selected will only be things I will place before my children in later years, not for the purpose of enjoyment, but instead to search the Scriptures and discern through the writings. Another issue I had even with the selections I would approve of is that they were only bits and pieces of them. I want my children to be exposed to the whole story if I’m going to read them something. The only good thing I can say about the curriculum is that it taught me a good system for reading a passage, having my student narrate by using questions to draw out what is important, and helping them write narrations correctly. I like the concept of scribing for younger students so they can copy it until they learn to write for themselves. This allows even the youngest little readers (or listeners) to write narrations. I am now using this concept to do narrations on our own in the Charlotte Mason style mentioned above. I hope to share my narration system in a future blog post because my children practically beg to do it, and it’s a really wonderful addition to our homeschool. Below is a photo of them working on some narrations from “Black Beauty”, “The Courage of Sarah Noble”, and “The Green Ember”. We loved all of those books by the way if you’re looking for some good reads for your kiddos. The things I love most about our new method are: I get to pick the material, we read the material from beginning to end, we enjoy the benefits of the WWE method, and we add art which always makes school work fun for us!

Narrations and art.

Classical Conversations:  Still love it! It’s such a good system, and I am continuing to press into the grammar memory work for CC because I know it will be of vital importance in essentials class, much of what they memorize in CC will be memorized even more in chart form later. (Mama’s been looking ahead, prepping for next year.) They truly learn so much through this program. I use the science and history memory work to guide our science and history lessons at home. I hope to share my simple system for doing this in a later post.

Improvements/ Changes: I purchased Christian Light Education Language Arts. It is a workbook format that can be done independently (for the most part). It is classical in format because it teaches from phonograms, spelling rules, grammar rules, etc… and then it has the student work through the concepts dealing with those rules. Each lesson has a grammar, spelling, and handwriting section. Some of that is a bit redundant because we do copywork, CC, and All About Spelling, but I find it to be good reinforcement in those areas that overlap because of the independent nature of it and the way it expands on it and brings it down to the age appropriate level. As a whole, I love it!!!! I may even need to do a whole separate blog post on CLE because this curriculum has won my heart. LA was our first switch, and then I started changing our other subjects to it as well. Their format really jives with me and my girls. It’s simple to use, independent, yet rigorous. Every homeschool mom knows that is a winning combination!

We love Christian Light Education!

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.

Review: I changed my mind on this, for now. I still have them read the above mentioned things, but I decided to add in a formal reading curriculum, and I chose to go with Christian Light Education for this as well. The Reading is a workbook format and comes with a hard back reader..The stories are all Gospel and  Biblical character centered, they include a Scripture that each one is based on, and they are written on the grade level of the child. The stories are not twaddle, they use good age appropriate language and sentence structure. The lessons have vocabulary and dictionary practice as well as reading and answering questions about the stories. I love them! All of the stories in the reader have been so good, one even made me cry. (or perhaps that was end of pregnancy hormones, but either way, the stories are good.) I love that they inspire children to share the Gospel and demonstrate many different ways that children can serve in their homes and churches and be kind to one another. The workbooks also have the students memorize the verse for each story; the Scriptures are all in King James version and while we tend to use NASB or ESV as a family I really appreciate how this curriculum works through the vocabulary in the King James and helps students understand what it is saying. I think this is very valuable since many of the best Christian authors from the past use and quote King James Scriptures. So although we aren’t a KJV preferred family, I do really like that this is a part of the curriculum because in a few years I hope my girls are able to pick up John Bunyan, Richard Baxter, and John Owen and soak them up.

Spelling: All About Spelling and Spelling Power (aff links)

Review: I love All About Spelling even though it is teacher led and can’t be done independently. I have All About Spelling levels 1 and 2 which in my estimation would work best as a first and second grade curriculum (although level 1 could definitely be kindergarten as well). My oldest daughter flew through level 1, but she is a third grader. This is another building type curriculum that you pretty much have to start at the beginning. Since the phonograms and spelling rules memorization were all new to her this wasn’t redundant or boring. The words were all small and she already knew how to spell them without “knowing the rules”, but it still helped solidify everything and allowed us to move on to the next level. I want to do a more full review on AAS one day, but for now just know we love it and we’re keeping it. Spelling Power I have looked through and watched youtube tutorials on how to use it, but have not started yet. I plan to move from AAS level 2 to Spelling Power. It was recommended by Classical Conversations and is designed to be used from third grade through high school. It’s a pretty huge book and definitely not cheap, but it’s a one time purchase you can use with all your children. I’m looking forward to digging into that soon.  I don’t do spelling with my girls every day which is why I love that Spelling practice and testing is included every day in their CLE Language Arts. I aim to do spelling lessons in All About Spelling once or twice a week.

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!

Review:  The CC prescripts was a good purchase, we are still working through those. I have my girls practice the cursive and color the pictures while listening to Story of the World. I already shared thoughts on WWE. In it’s place I’ve added the catechism copywork (aff link) mentioned above in Bible, as well as our narrations writing, and CLE handwriting portions.

History: Classical Conversations, Story of the World (aff link), 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.

Review: I am loving everything about these choices! They are a wonderful fit for us! Some people may object to exposing their children to all of the dirty parts of history and legends of false gods that SOTW does, and since I’m very picky about these types of things it may come as a surprise that I like these books so much, but my perspective is that history is very different than fantasy. Humans are evil apart from the saving work of the Holy Spirit; they set up false gods and start wars that kill thousands and thousands of people. It is a sad truth, but I don’t think our children need to be shielded from this. I believe we as parents/ educators must guide them through it and help them understand it. And it isn’t for entertainment purposes that I expose them to these things, it’s to educate them. That to me makes all the difference in the world.

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.

Review: Still loving this approach as well. I purchased the CLE science thinking I might use something more formal, but it was too much on top of all we are already doing. I may use the CLE science in the summer when we aren’t working through our CC science.

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

Review: I really like this curriculum for a beginner Latin. The DVDs are great, even my 3 year old likes to watch them. The text is a workbook and is more appropriate for my third grader. I plan to use the DVDs for grades K-2 and have my 3rd graders and up use the workbooks. I will likely start a more rigorous Latin program in 5th grade. I’m not sure our family will be doing the Challenge program at CC so I’m not concerned with meeting a certain deadline with Latin; we will go at our own pace with it. I also want to teach my children Spanish and Greek, but we haven’t started those endeavors yet. Feel free to message me some good curriculum picks for those if you know of any.

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).

Review: I worked through many workbooks and taught some basic concepts to my second grader, and I knew I wanted to find her a formal curriculum eventually. I really enjoyed Teaching Textbooks and so did my daughter. We are still using it actually. However, it wasn’t as rigorous a math as I would like. Also, I want them to work math on paper; I feel like that is a very valuable skill set. It will probably be no surprise (after all my CLE praise) that I purchased CLE as our math. I absolutely LOVE it! The format is similar to Saxon, but it is WAY better for me because it is much more independent than Saxon, and the layout is much more clear and user friendly in my opinion. I still have my daughter working through the Teaching Textbooks 3rd grade since she was almost finished. Some days I have her do a TT lesson in the morning and her CLE lesson in the afternoon. I definitely think there may be value in both approaches. We also really love Khan Academy! When CLE introduces a new concept, I often find the videos on Khan and have my children watch them. It just helps to reinforce.

Classical Conversations Geography

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

Review: This has worked great for us thus far! :) A whole blog posts could be spent on geography, but basically we do map tracing, labeling of the weekly memory work, and singing memory songs using hand motions and trying to visualize it in our heads. (I say “we” because I am very much learning geography for the first time along with my girls, it has never been a strong subject for me.)

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

Review: I love that CC does little art things with the children because honestly, we haven’t used the other choices from above as much as I had planned. I am planning to do See the Light over the summer when CC ends. We do have a lot of art in our lives though because my children are naturally drawn to it, and I just let them paint or create on their own initiative. We also use art in our narratives, Scripture copywork, map tracing, and nature journals so although it’s quite informal right now, they are getting a lot of it.

Working on a "Black Beauty" narration.

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.

Review: CC has some basic music theory during the six weeks of tin whistle and they also spend six weeks learning about the orchestra and classical composers. I really like this as a basic elementary age introduction. I ended up giving my girls piano lessons myself once a week. Eventually I will put them in lessons because there is value in learning from someone besides mom. I think the accountability serves them well when learning music. The ukulele is still a fun addition. I don’t give them formal lessons, just teach them chords and print them tabs and chords to songs and hymns that we know. They love to sit around and pluck on them learning to play and sing along to their favorite songs. I think this is the best way to learn an instrument like ukulele or guitar. They will mostly teach themselves because of the thrill of being able to play and enjoy it. That’s how I learned, so I believe in the method.

All in All a Good Year So Far. 

I have really enjoyed the year so far. The changes and improvements haven’t even felt like bumps in the road really. I know they were learning even when using the materials that didn’t work for us, and it feels good to be in the thick of working through our new selections. Each year at Classical Conversations causes me to love it more and to catch more and more of the vision. It definitely helps to shape our homeschool and to give me direction in my teaching.

So that pretty much wraps up this review, except that I ditched the planner as well and have now started bullet journaling for all of my planning, and I love it!!! That is also a blog post to come another day.

I hope you enjoyed the review and, if you found this helpful I would love for you to pin the photo below to save and share with your friends. Thanks.

Classical Homeschool Review : First Language Lessons, Writing with Ease, All About Spelling, Story of the World, Classical Conversations, and more.

Nature Pal Exchange

Nature Pal Exchange - abidingwoman.com

I have always loved being out in nature. Even as a child I have such fond memories of camping trips with my family, climbing a particularly wonderful climbing tree in my yard, and exploring the woods that bordered our neighorhood. I’m thankful that I have an outdoorsy hubby who is totally on board with camping and hiking and all the fun stuff. It’s truly just a part of our family culture. I knew that I also wanted it to be a fundamental part of our homeschool because God’s creation truly teaches us so much. Even Psalm 19 tells us how nature/creation itself teaches us about God. I love that! Nature also teaches us how to recognize true beauty. Screens and the chase for the latest and greatest thing can too often crowd out appetites for what is good and lovely; I feel like exposure to nature helps to teach our minds to appreciate life in a more authentic way. Not to mention there are tremendous health benefits to being outdoors. Because of this I decided that it would be a huge part of our study of science in our homeschool. There’s something that imprints the mind so well when something is experienced and not just read or taught about.

Nature Pal Exchange - abidingwoman.com

Because of this we have a very eclectic mix for our science this year. We have been using a variety of living books and field guides, we have observed and been immersed in the great outdoors on nature walks and camping trips, and observed and participated in Classical Conversations science experiments on our community day. We’ve memorized and learned about a variety of science facts through Classical Conversations, and we’ve been working through the Christian Light Education science workbooks. The variety certainly makes science a favorite around here.

Nature Pal Exchange

One of our science activities that we have particularly enjoyed this year was participating in Nature Pal Exchange. I discovered this organization through instagram. Last spring when I noticed many homeschool mamas that I follow posting what they sent and received. I knew we had to jump on board the next time around! When fall sign ups finally came, we didn’t hesitate.

Nature Pal Exchange - abidingwoman.com

How it works.

Nature Pal Exchange collects a small donation to support a specially chosen charity for each exchange. You submit your donation along with your address and some general information about your children and their ages. Then Nature Pal Exchange pairs you with a family from a different area than you, and they also try to match families with similar age ranges of children. These are only families in the U.S. and Canada for now. They send an email with your trading family’s information, give a send off date, and some general guidelines for mailing nature items.

Then the fun begins.
You take nature walks to collect nature goodies, label if you can, wrap and send off. You can also include nature related gifts, books, and brochures or print outs about your state or area. Coloring sheets or a nature craft would be a fun idea also! I’ve been brainstorming a bit for our next package. Get it all gathered and packed up, then send it off to your exchange family by the due date. It’s a lot of fun!

My girls loved the whole process. They even loved going to the post office together to mail it off. It was truly a great way to get us looking more closely outdoors and learning how to identify things in nature. The girls were always coming in from playing in the yard with little treasures to send.

When our package arrived they were so excited! (I was too!) We are still getting out our nature gift from the family in Minnesota. All of the photos in this post are of the lovely package this family sent us. They even sent a wonderful book called “North Woods Girl” that had beautiful pictures. We felt very blessed by them!
.

Nature Pal Exchange - abidingwoman.com

Nature Pal Exchange - abidingwoman.com

Nature Pal Exchange - abidingwoman.com

Nature Pal Exchange - abidingwoman.com

Nature Pal Exchange - abidingwoman.com

So whether you are a homeschool family or not, I highly recommend joining in on this fun! Just follow the Nature Pal instagram feed and when sign ups open they let everyone know there.

Happy nature studying!

-S

Enjoy this post? Pin the photo below to remember and share with friends. Thanks!

Nature Pal Exchange, a wonderful nature study activity!

 

Rejoice Always

Rejoice Always -abidingwoman.com

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.

Rejoice Always -abidingwoman.com

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

Rejoice Always -abidingwoman.com

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.

Rejoice Always - abidingwoman.com

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

 

Enjoy this post? Pin the photo below to remember and share with friends. Thanks!

Rejoicing in the midst of trials or even just in the daily trenches of motherhood can be hard. Come have your heart encouraged to rejoice always in the Lord.

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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This is the Columbus book we have been reading and enjoying. It’s a paperback childrens’ chapter book with many great pictures and tid-bits of information.

I definitely plan on repeating this field trip again year after year when they come to our town.

Have you ever been on these ships? Check out the schedule above and see when they will be in your area.

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!