Family Albums Made Simple : A Spring Cleaning Project to Remember

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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.

This post is a part of the Domestically Challenged, Divinely Equipped Spring Cleaning Challenge. You can find out how to join the challenges, get your free spring cleaning printables, and enter the Instant Pot and $50 Amazon card giveaway here.16864163_10208570970366138_7637195054490583645_n

 

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)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our Classical Homeschool 2016-2017 Curriculum Review and Improvements

full curriculum review

This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase through them I make a small commission. You do not have to use them, but thanks to all who do! It’s a blessing to me and my family, and a way for you to support what I do here on this little blog.

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!
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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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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.)

Mayflower-650

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!