A Biblical View of Halloween

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

 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

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

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. And if so share with a friend or save for later on pinterest with this image.

1473793178282

Happy Homemaking ladies!

Our Classical Homeschool 2016

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spelling: All About Spelling and Spelling Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some things that are shaping my year:

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

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

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

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

My Heart on this Journey

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

Happy homeschooling to all you homeschool mamas out there!

,Stacey

Homeschooling with Little Ones Underfoot

1469022713412
I have lots of little ones, currently we have three little ones: 3 years, 2 years, and 10 months old with another little blessing on the way. We also have a second and third grader, and that requires a good bit of teaching and interaction with me since they are still in very formative years. So inevitably, one question people often ask me is “how do you homeschool with all these little ones around?” The general answer is that it’s not easy, but it is doable. And I have found some methods for getting it done, but it is often less than picturesque. The thing we homeschool moms of many eventually come to understand (otherwise we’d lose our sanity) is that we are running a HOME-school…. major emphasis on the home. We are a family in a home environment, and we happen to do school here, among many other things. It will not, and should not (if our priorities are in check) look like a traditional classroom.

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

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Methods for Occupying Little Ones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Independent Work list and “With Mom” Lesson Loops:

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

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

Happy Homeschooling!

-S

DIY Picnic Farmhouse Table (no building required)

1464970728449

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Super simple diys are kinda my thing…. mainly because I’m not all that crafty, and I don’t have tons of free time either. I am convinced that every easy peasy diy has a story behind it, well here is the story behind this one. We had been needing another table for quite some time, I was dreaming of a farmhouse style table, but I had more of a craigslist budget to work with. My husband is certainly handy enough to build one, but he is already double loaded with projects. Adding a table to the list just wasn’t an option. I literally prayed about this, I’m learning to pray for things we need and to wait on the Lord to provide the right thing or idea. I had been shopping craigslist and many other options, but the right fit had not come along. I had found a simple farmhouse table with benches for about $600 a few hours away, but the drive really detoured me and so did the price. I also was concerned about the benches tipping over, and I pointed out to my husband that I would love for them to somehow be attached. Then it happened, we passed a Lowe’s and spotted these $98 wooden picnic tables out front. My wheels began turning….. what if we bought one of those, sanded it and stained it and brought it in the house. And that is just what we did! We ended up spending about $120 on the table, and putting in about 4 hours total. I couldn’t be happier with the result! I just love our picnic farmhouse table!

DIY Details:
We used an electric hand sander like this one. (aff link) This was a must because there were definitely some rough places that could cause splinters. We sanded all of it pretty generously.
After the sanding, we put on 2 coats of Poly Shades stain (aff link) which is a stain and polyurethane in one. It’s always nice to kill two birds with one stone. The shade we used was “honey pine”, and it is linked above, but there are more color options available. I loved this product! We got a beautiful natural wood shade and it was sealed well so I could wipe the table down when it got dirty, every single day. ;) We left the bottom of the wood unstained since the wood will be drying out as time goes by, we didn’t want to trap water inside.

This table is already well-loved, and holding up well.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Suffice it to say this may be the easiest and cheapest way to get the farmhouse table look. And really, I LOVE that the benches are connected to the table because our dining room clean up is SO much easier than when we had a bunch of chairs to move around. We’ve also seen when guests come over that we can pile tons of people (especially little ones) on these benches. I even think that two of these could be attached to each other to make a really long farmhouse table, which we may have to attempt if our family keeps growing.

So if you’re in a pinch and need a new table, I hope this idea can help your family!

Have a blessed day!

,Stacey

The Pursuit of Minimalism : Part 2

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

Did you miss Part One of this series? Here it is. 

This is a bit overdue. Homeschooling mom life happened… oh and stomach bugs, and playdates, and fellowship, and meal planning, and you know how it goes. But here I am so let’s talk about this again. Last time I wrote about minimalism, I shared my story of pursuing minimalism and how it has drastically changed my life for the better. I shared the Scripture that inspired me down this path, and a few of the practical ways that I went about that. I’m very much still in the process, I’m not where I want to be but I’m well on my way, and way better than I have ever been before at being in control of our things. I wanted to come back to the topic to share a few other thoughts as well as a few more practical outworkings as to “how” to go about this pursuit. Although I think there are many ways to accomplish it, I will share how I went about it.

 Pursuing Practicals

When I finally caught the vision for minimizing, I began to hear of a book that was gaining popularity at the time and so I bought and read the book. You’ve probably heard of it, ” The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I’ll just speak candidly, I did not care for the book at all. She’s very new age in her philosophies and has some major quirks that actually weren’t endearing (as some reviewers describe them), but rather seemed superstitious and weird.She tells people to talk to their things, set them free, etc…. she talks about how many things to put in your shrine and how long the charms have luck or power. Yeah, not my cup of tea, hopefully it isn’t yours either. However the basic concept of how to sift through things and decide what to keep and what to get rid of resonated with me…. and I began to get an idea of the “how”, eventhough I didn’t fully agree with her philosophies, ideas, or even her methods. The idea of keeping things I actually *really* liked and needed was a good concept to be able to grasp through her descriptions of various clients and the things they had to process through keeping or not. As I said before, I didn’t care for her method much either…. her recommended process (which she believes is the one and only way to really go about it) is definitely more fitting for a single person or maybe a person with 2 kids tops. It is just impractical to pile all your books, clothes, etc in the middle of the floor when you have many little people about. Trust a voice of regretful experience, if you want order in your house, do not put all of your things in the middle of the floor to be sorted, I repeat do not. ;) If your littles are normal kinds of kids who can make toys of anything, your pile will just become the coolest new thing to ransack and your house will be an even bigger mess than when you started. I recommend finding an off limits (to children) room or area to sort things in.

Kondo says don’t do things by area, but instead by category and personally I disagree. I did my sorting by area and it worked great. It was very logical to me. Bathroom closet, under the sink, kitchen, and so on…. I tried to pick some one day projects and then would take a break and pick a week long project. I simply took everything out and put back ONLY what I wanted to have in that space, if it didn’t fit and didn’t belong somewhere else that I could put it away, then I got rid of it. Even if it was useful or neat or whatever our random reasons are for keeping things that don’t fit in our homes. I still got rid of it if I could not find a place for it. I have a small house and a lot of people, I was insanely picky. I have gotten rid of 5 trailer loads full of stuff to donate, more random trips to donate here and there, and even more to a burn pile. I used the method I shared back in November. It worked for me, I feel like it would work for anyone who is ready to let go of the junk.

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

Maintenance:

Here are a few of the ways that I maintain, and do not allow myself to become a minimalist backslider. This is such a wonderful way to live, and I’m determined not to go back to my old ways.

I have changed the way that I shop big time! I don’t buy things just because they are on sale or look neat or fun to have around. I try to be very intentional with all of my purchases. This has a double blessing, it keeps clutter down and we save lots of money. When I buy things for my kids for birthdays or special occassions, I either get them big items that I know they need and will use (like a bike or a new pair of shoes or a camera) or I buy them a crafty type thing that they can use once, keep for a few weeks, and then throw away.

I get rid of a few things each week. I have become hyper sensitive to things that are wasting time and space in my house. A few examples: I wore a shirt a few days ago, and at the end of the day I thought to myself, ” I always dislike wearing this shirt, it doesn’t fit right and it’s uncomfortable.” I washed it and added it to my donate bag. Easy peasy, now that’s one less piece of clothing to clutter my closet, and one less shirt that will bother me when I wear it. Often times if I put on an dress, top, or bottom and decide I don’t want to wear it, then I just put it in the donate bag. If I don’t like it, then there is no sense in keeping it.  I also recently cleared off my deep freezer where some random decor and vases had collected, I couldn’t find a place for them (although I did really like them) but I just donated them. It will bless someone else, and I don’t have the space. For me ultimately it has been about not being greedy and loving my things too much. I only want to keep the things I actually want or need in my life. Keeping a shirt I don’t like just because I bought it for $20 last summer is just silly. I wouldn’t pay $1 for it now, so why keep it? If I don’t like or need an item or have space for an item, not being able to let go of it only indicates a heart problem concerning my things. I just remind myself that we as Christians are not to love the things of the world…. yes that applies to a variety of sinful behaviors, but materialism is definitely one of them, I believe. If you are controlled by your things and can’t “give them up” then I truly believe you should examine your heart to make sure you aren’t loving the things of the world too much, and remember that love for the world is enmity with God. We can not have a whole-hearted pursuit of living for the Lord when our earthly belongings have such a strong hold on us.

 

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.comChristian Minimalism

This brings me to a few quick thoughts. Minimalism is a huge buzz-word right now. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.I talked about this in my last post too, but I’m going to put even more words around it because I think it’s important. I want to distinguish what I am pursuing by adding the word Christian before it, because this is not for some selfish gain like having a perfect home or traveling the world fulfilling the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

Christian Minimalism is getting rid of anything that hinders you from walking in full obedience to Jesus.

Here are some examples how this can play out:

If you are married, then by default you are a keeper of your home and should keep it orderly. That is a part of walking obediently to the Lord in that role.

If you are a mother, then you by default are teaching little ones how to live a life of order because God is a God of order and purpose and He calls His people to walk in this way as well.

That is not to say your house won’t get messy! Please don’t hear that! But it needs to be at a level you can maintain and tidy up each day. My house gets used and messy every day…. we dirty dishes, we fill trash cans, we pull out toys and books and homeschooling materials…. every single day. And that isn’t counting special projects. But every single day (unless there is an extenuating circumstance, such as sickness or a new baby, etc…), we do what is necessary to bring it all to order. My older girls and I have morning, afternoon, and evening chores which keep things pulled together. But to keep things at that maintenance level, I have to make sure everything has a place and can be easily put away and we just can’t have tons of stuff to have to deal with. So you can see how getting rid of things that don’t have a place and that won’t be used or loved has enabled me to more obediently walk in my roles as wife, keeper of the home, and teacher to my children on orderly living.

Another huge blessing is that when I sit down to spend time with the Lord my house is not always beckoning me to clean it as it once did in the past. I am finally able to focus on what matters most. I treasure being able to come to the Lord with the heart of Mary and not Martha, that alone makes this pursuit so worthwhile!

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

Furthermore when I sit down to read to my children or to home school or to have a conversation with my husband, I am not constantly thinking about the endless piles of things that need to be addressed. I know that we have a schedule and I know that we will get to the duties that need to be done at the next chore time. I finally do not have to worry about what I will do with *that* huge pile of things that I just can’t ever seem to get cleaned up. Thankfully, those piles don’t exist anymore, and it is SO freeing!

You can do it too!

This probably sounds too good to be true. I know two to five years ago it would have sounded that way to me as well, and perhaps even a bit insane, if I’m really honest. I know what it’s like to live with clutter and to keep trying to organize it and clean it up to no avail. I know what it’s like to have a pile of things you feel like you have to or need to keep, but having no clue where to put any of those things. I know what it’s like to feel like a failure as a homemaker, and to keep wondering what it is that could fix the problem. But I promise you this is doable. It isn’t a quick fix, and it does take work. And it definitely takes intentionality! Begin to work diligently at de-cluttering various spaces in your home and you will begin to notice almost instantaneous difference in your daily workload. The project mode can be hard because at the time it is extra work, but when you finish that project is when you begin to reap the rewards. And don’t stop with one or two projects, be intent on de-cluttering every part of your home. It didn’t get this way overnight and it won’t be changed overnight, but if you will diligently pursue minimalism you will eventually get there. And I have no doubt that it will revolutionize your homemaking forever.

So there’s part 2. And I’m sure more on this topic will come in the future. Hope it helps!

,Stacey

Enjoy this post? Pin the image below to remember or share with friends.

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

The Pursuit of Minimalism : Part 1

 

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.comThis is going to be a series. I sat down to type this out and quickly realized it would not all fit into one blog post. There is just way too much to say about it! Before we dive into a how-to post I have a few stories, clarifications, and persuasions for you. It may be tempting to skip over this part, but I think it will benefit you to read it. Mainly because minimalism is much more a mind-set than it is a method. You really have to have your mind reshaped to pursue minimalism.

I want you to learn how this can really help the home-maker who is struggling to keep her home organized. I want you to pursue it for the right reasons. I want you to know that it *can* work for you in whatever situation you find yourself in. (big house, little house, big family, small family, it can work for anyone!) I want to persuade you to view your belongings in a totally different way. I want you to know why you have to be “all in” committed to minimalism for it to really change your life. Then I want to tell you ‘how to’ pursue it starting now with your spring cleaning efforts. I hope I don’t sound like a sales-woman when I say, this could be the spring clean that will change your life!

I will share how to begin living a minimalist life-style, which I promise is not as hard as you may think! Once you change your mind-set, doing it is actually very easy! And I will tell you how to continue to grow in it and to perfect it, that is the phase I am in now, and it has become so easy and fun. It no longer stresses me out to organize or find places for things like it use to. I will help you get there, if you are willing to change your mind about your things!

Again this is a mind-set, not a method. I can give you steps (and I will eventually give you steps), but you can do the steps and stay in bondage to your things if you don’t build the foundation first.

How I Became a Minimalist:

So let’s kick it off with a testimonial of my personal story. I want to tell you how I went from an unorganized mess to a minimalist. I use to really struggle with keeping an organized home. I don’t any more. Now my house does get messy with toys and our daily things, but they are easily picked up; in about 10-15 minutes my house can be entirely clean. Not just look clean, but have stuff crammed, I mean actually clean! A few years ago this was not so, I really struggled with keeping my home clean and organized! It was bad! There were some areas I kept clean (my living room and kitchen mostly), but there were many areas that no matter what I did I could never keep organized and put together. I’m not talking about dirt and grime and cob-webs, I’m talking about our stuff. The task of organizing was absolutely daunting to me. I’ve never been a good organizer, I’m still not great at it, but minimalism makes it easier because there is way less to organize. Back then I hated it!!! Organizing was the bane of my existence. I wasn’t a hoarder or anything, in fact, I felt like I had the same amount of stuff as all the other people I knew. I just couldn’t manage it. I always had a room where I stored a few boxes of junk that I needed to sort through. I always had a mess of school and craft supplies and miscellaneous papers shoved in the corners in my office floor and piled all around my desk and shelves. I would spend hours picking up my children’s bedrooms, the toy/school room and my own, but in about three hours they would be destroyed again. I would pick up and organize all the time, but it never seemed to help! I constantly had an organization project going. It always flopped in the end! I’m not a lazy person, and I am passionate about my job as a homemaker, so I was perplexed by this whole cycle. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I put SO much work into it and yet the end result was *still* a messy house. I always questioned, “Why can’t I keep my house clean when I work so hard?” My husband would wonder what I had been doing all day, when in fact I had been cleaning and organizing all day. That caused conflict. It hurt him and communicated disrespect. It hurt me because I felt like a failure as a wife, homemaker, and mother. It hurt my children because they were learning my example, and they were witnessing the conflict between my husband and I. It hurt and it was very hard on my heart. I knew there were more important things than a clean house and I pursued those and focused on my areas of strength such as teaching my children diligently, but I believed a clean house was important too. I was suppose to be a keeper of my home. I was suppose to be building it, not tearing it down. A clean house is right, and I knew that. A clean house is a noble desire and we should pursue it! A clean house brings so much peace to the family! God is a God of order, and I knew that it would honor Him for me to run a home of order. I wanted it SO BADLY! But continued to walk in defeat no matter how hard I tried.

I just knew there had to be a way off of the hamster wheel! I began praying for the Lord to give me wisdom. I would say, “Lord, you know my heart, you know I want to be a good homemaker and to work as unto you, please show me what I’m doing wrong!” (in tears, begging, pleading, I was desperate)

The Lord did finally answer. Almost a year and a half ago we took a long work trip with my husband to Western Canada (about 3 days of driving for us). We had four children and as anyone knows when packing for a trip with lots of littles, we had to pack JUST the essentials to last us for six weeks. So I put together all that we needed: a week’s worth of clothing for everyone (we would have access to a laundry mat), toiletries, our current home school curriculum, our current read aloud books, 3 small toy sets, a pack n play, booster, diaper bag, blankets and pillows, an ergo, a stroller, my camera, my laptop, our homeschool ipad, and my husband’s work supplies. It seemed a meager amount to me, but still stuffed the 12 passenger rental van pretty tightly. Once we settled into our hotel in Canada, I was AMAZED at how light my work load felt while I was there. Sure, we had room service to come in and make the bed and clean the bathrooms and yes the hotel provided dinner 2 nights a week (amazing!), but I could’ve managed those things easily. The lightened load wasn’t from my relief of chores or dinner preparations; it was from the constant organization and picking up, and from being surrounded by my junk. It made a huge difference in my perspective to not be surrounded by a house that always seemed to be reminding me that there was so much work to do. The truth was, I couldn’t relax in my own home! I loved the simple hotel room with just the things we needed! It was SO much more manageable for me! What amazed me was how peaceful it felt to be surrounded with only the things we needed. The whole place could be picked up and put in order in five minutes flat. I could actually sit and read to my girls and enjoy it without feeling like it was taking away from homemaking. We could take outings without me feeling like I had work left undone. I could have my quiet time undistracted by a lingering pile of junk in the corner. It was wonderful! And it hit me then and there, I don’t need those things we left behind, in fact those things were a hindrance! My stuff was the problem!  As I processed through this life-lesson I was learning, the Lord brought this Scripture to mind:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. -Hebrews 12:1

 

I just knew this was the answer!!!! Yes, we lay aside sin, but not only sin, also weight….. to me that means anything (my belongings included) which caused me to not run the race with endurance. It was clinging to me, it was holding me down, it was distracting me from the Lord and my work for him, and it needed to be thrown off! Isn’t it so sweet when the Lord finally answers! It was like a glass of fresh water after being lost in the desert! I was thrilled to say the least.

This was before I had ever even heard of minimalism, I truly feel the Lord revealed this concept to me through His Spirit and by His Word first, then allowed me to learn more about it through other means later. He used my circumstances of the trip to Canada to graciously give me a taste of how wonderful it would be to live that way, which motivated me even more. It still motivates me!


The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

How I got started:

While still on my trip and learning these things,I endeavored to get rid of everything I didn’t need or love as soon as I got back home. I knew it would be a lengthy process because I had accumulated a lot, but I was set on starting as soon as possible! When we returned, I chose an area (my office) which had been messy for years. I used the method I shared in my No Clutter November post. It worked! Four huge trash bags later, and my messy office was cleaned up in a day!!! It was the first time since I had moved into that house four years prior that the office had been clean! And I had organized it and worked on it countless hours in months and years prior with no lasting result of organization. It felt so good to have it really done! A few days later, it remained cleaned. Weeks later, it remained cleaned! I was amazed and relieved! This small victory motivated me to continue…. I started getting rid of more things. Every day I was throwing stuff away like crazy or putting things into a huge donation pile and taking trips to donate trunk loads at a time. “Ruthlessly Purge” was my motto. I showed no mercy for things. If I didn’t love it or need it, out it went. I had a lot of stuff and four children so this was (as I had assumed it would be) a long drawn out process. Becoming a minimalist isn’t something you can do in a week. It took you a long time to get all those things, it will take a little while to get rid of them. That was my thinking, and as far as I can see, that is the truth. I did it by areas; which later I found out wasn’t the best method, but that’s okay, it was still a huge help! In the middle of my homemaking reformation the Lord led us to sell our house and to buy our current farmhouse. I then turned my attention to packing up for the move. We had to do it quickly because the house sold two weeks after being on the market, It was such a rushed thing, and I was pregnant with morning sickness so my pursuit of minimalism was put on halt. We had to put most of our stuff in storage for about 8 months and I didn’t have time to purge as I packed; the farmhouse had to be gutted and reconstructed before we could even move in. We lived with the in-loves, with our basics and even still I felt like we maybe had too much with us for the space we had, my cue was that perpetual messes were becoming a distraction again. That is when I began researching for ideas on living with less, and that is where I stumbled across this wonderful concept of minimalism. It was exactly the life-style I knew the Lord was leading us to! The possibilities were inspiring me. The objective was becoming very clear. I knew where we were heading when we opened that storage building. I would be extremely selective about what I brought into my house, and I was. That storage building is still stacked full of stuff. We took out what we needed and wanted, and stopped there. And we have been living quite well with the things we have in our house for months now, in fact, I purge from this small amount we brought in all the time. I have grown to love the simplicity and order so much that I just keep pursuing it more and more. I plan to tackle the storage building in the spring (it’s just too cold for me right now), but I’m not planning to keep the stuff, but instead to get rid of it properly. There are only a few things I have remembered and wanted out of there that I plan to keep. The rest is going!

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

I can’t tell you how much I love living with less! It seemed hard at first, but the more I got rid of, the easier it became to get rid of even more. My trajectory is definitely to continue in this direction and to teach my children to do the same. Minimalism has made home-making a joy to me again and I no longer feel like a failure.

what is minimalism?

So you may now be asking, “what is minimalism?”  I think some people have a misconception that minimalism is only for singles or for childless people who live in 500 square foot houses. The tiny house movement has made minimalism a bit trendy with the hippy crowd. Most people think of that type when they think of minimalism. It’s totally not like that for everyone! A basic definition of minimalism is:  living with ONLY what you NEED and LOVE. Also, I would add it is a whole new way of viewing your things and your home. You become much more intentional about the things you purchase or receive as gifts . You do not allow yourself to feel obligated to keep anything (either a gift or something you spent hard earned money on) if it hinders you from doing what the Lord has called you to by causing messes that you are continually spending time and energy on. Minimalism looks a little different from person to person and family to family, but it’s premise is pretty much the same for everyone; living with the things you absolutely want to live with and having your space look the way you want it to look. Minimalism is like organizing in reverse: instead of deciding where to put things you have, you look at your space and decide the very things you want to be there. Everything else needs to go somewhere else that you want it to be or out of the house. You also reshape your view of “need”. Our culture has made things into a need that are certainly not necessities. Figuring out those things that your family actually does use and need is a process, but it’s worth it!

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

Do it for the right Reasons

A quick word of warning: if you begin to research “minimalism” you will sadly find very little Christian perspective on the topic. There are a lot of great “how to” articles out there, but the motivation for most of those authors is not living for the Lord, but instead living for themselves. That is NOT where I would encourage your heart to be in this pursuit. If you want to get rid of your things so that you can do whatever it is that makes you happy, then you are worshiping yourself, and that is very dangerous for your soul! (call me dramatic if you want, but it’s just the truth) You will hear a lot of selfish reasoning in most articles on the topic, and actually it can sound appealing to the flesh….. travel, see the world, focus on climbing the career ladder, sit in silence, read, meditate, sip tea, retire early to a life of leisure.  I just want to gently warn you that is not Biblical! That is not how Christians live or think. If your heart is being drawn towards living a minimalist life then let it be for the glory of God. Let it be to honor your husband and children. Let it be so that you can work less on organizing your stuff, and spend that (undistracted) extra time in prayer, the Word, diligently teaching your children, and in service to God. There is nothing wrong with silence and relaxing with a cup of tea or traveling, those are blessings to refresh us, but those should not be life objectives for the Christian.

Minimalism does work!!! It will get you the freedom from the mess that you’ve always been wanting, but I pray that you pursue that with a pure heart and not out of selfish ambition.

Can a big family live a minimalist life-style?

This is a question I get sometimes when I explain to people that I am a minimalist. It is asked in a variety of ways, “is that house going to be big enough?” “don’t you need…. (fill in the blank item)?” ,but the big question above is at the heart of all the other questions, and so I think it a profitable thing to answer. In a word, yes! A big family absolutely can live a minimalist life-style! And let me explain, In truth, a big family only *really* needs a few more things than a small family with only two children. In fact, I had way more stuff when I just had my first two children than I have now for all of us (with the exception of beds and carseats). Kids don’t need every gadget and toy that comes along! They only need a few toy sets and puzzles. I promise they play in a much more content fashion with less than they do with more. I have seen the fruit of both first hand; I saw clearly that more toys only makes them play less! It doesn’t seem like it would be that way, but it definitely is! They don’t need a closet full of clothes and accessories.  And (this is a big one!) you don’t have to keep everything someone gives them for Christmas and birthdays! Gifts are a great way to see what toys work best for your family. If a toy becomes a nuisance or a constant mess maker, then get rid of it. The person who gave it did not want to give you something that would make your life hard, they wanted to bless you. So feel no guilt and donate it or give it to someone who will actually be blessed by the item. Give thanks to the person who bought it when it is received, give thanks to the Lord for the way you feel so loved by the person giving the gift, teach your children to do this because we give thanks in all circumstances, and then if you don’t love or need it, get rid of it! If people ask what you want, tell them exactly what you want! I recommend crafts (which can be done and then thrown away) or good books that you want in your family library, or experience gifts like season tickets to a local theme park or zoo or art classes. It most certainly can work for a big family, but you can’t have it in your head that you and your children must have whatever people and the world tells you that you need. You really probably don’t need it!

I believe this can work for anyone and any situation if you want it to and that it can be altered to fit various life-styles. If you have a huge house and lots of space to put things, then you can likely have more things than someone like me. And sure, there are things I wish I could buy and find a space for, I’d love to have some work-out equipment, but I don’t have the space for them so I will just workout outside and chasing my kids. If I don’t have a place for it, then I don’t get it. However, if you have space for a work-out room, can afford it, and you want one, go for it! That is still minimalism. It just looks different depending on the space you have to work with.

Now I will say minimalism is not for everyone. If you are a great organizer and you easily keep your house in order….. then keep your things. But I’m not bent that way, and for me to continue down the path I was on was like trying to shove a circle puzzle piece into a square spot. Nothing lined up! If you hear this concept and think it’s not for you, then great, but don’t quickly discount it because you are not ready to get rid of your things. If you are struggling with organization, at least give this a go in a few areas of your life and experience what a difference it makes. Try out my no clutter method, and get rid of everything you don’t need or love.

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

This conversation will continue… Here is Part Two of The Pursuit of Minimalism

-S

 

 

Now here’s something fun!

 

I’ve joined together with some friends to bring you a BIG giveaway and a great set of spring cleaning posts to launch your efforts! Spring Cleaning IRL (in real life) is brought to you by these lovely ladies. Be sure to visit each one!

 

Spring Homemaking Giveaway!

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

Enter 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 4/10/16. Winner will be notified via email and has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Pursuit of Minimalism - abidingwoman.com

 

No Clutter November : Everything In Its Place

1446857967163

How is No Clutter November going for you thus far? (I realize I’m asking this on the last day of November, some hypothyroidism followed by a terrible cold really threw me off my game.) I have been taking it slow anyway with the No Clutter endeavor because with an already full schedule that is just how I have to do things. I have been purging things and putting other things in a keep stack from my three selected areas. The good will pile is huge, but that is a great thing for me! That was all for phase one. Now if you are following along, we are ready for phase two which is the final step: finding a place for the things in our “keep” stacks. If you haven’t done phase one then go back and do that before starting this one, but if you are ready for this, let’s dive in!

Everything in Its Place

In the past this has been the most difficult part of the process for me. I would get rid of the things that I no longer wanted or needed and then I would have this remaining stack of stuff that I had no idea where to put. Inevitably, I would stall out right here and leave my keep stack in a pile in the corner of the room, it would accumulate more junk, and then I would do phase one again…. the whole vicious cycle would repeat every few months. I had a corner of my office in my old house where this happened for years. I finally figured out the secret to breaking through phase two and when I FINALLY cleaned up that corner it felt SO GOOD! Organizing is a weakness for some of us, and for others it comes naturally. I am one of those people who struggle with knowing where to put things, but pushing through this phase is the only way to kick the clutter for good!

{Phase Two}

Evaluate Your Space

Look at the space you are trying to declutter, what SHOULD be there? If it is a pile of stuff on the floor then perhaps you will answer with “nothing” ,and will need to shift to organizing the things which were there onto a shelf or into a closet. You may need to purchase a shelf or something to put the things on. Maybe it’s a counter top and you just want a coffee maker, a cutting board, and dish drying rack to be there; then you will need to think of a good place to put the other things that were once kept there such as in the cabinet or pantry or another room. I know that this seems obvious, but you HAVE to have some sort of game plan for where the things you want to keep will go and what you want the outcome to be. If you aren’t very good at this thing (like me) then ask for ideas from your organized friends or look at organization ideas on pinterest. Pinterest is ultimately what helped me most because I searched for specifics like “organize office” or “organize pantry”, I chose the idea that looked and sounded the best, and then I did it. One thing I have learned over the years is to quit trying to reinvent the wheel…. if a mom has figured out something that works for her big family, then it will probably work for mine too. This is true for organizing as well as many other areas of life. On that note, when I’m gathering ideas for myself, I choose bloggers of big families because their situation is going to be most similar to mine. Reach out to bloggers and other moms who are very similar to your circumstances and ask them how they do things. I recently emailed with a mom blogger of 8 kids inquiring how she did her daily schedule. It was so helpful! This could turn into a whole other blog post, but all of this to say, you don’t have to come up with everything on your own! So save time and do what someone else has come up with.

Putting Things in Their Place

Look in your keep stack and put the things you really want or need in your designated space first. With each putting away you should seek to put like items with like items. All the books together, and if there is a book series keep that together, all the art items together, etc… And remember to put the things used most in the easiest place to access and put away, preferably close to where you use them. For example: My homeschool shelves…. I put in the current curriculum and books we are using in an organized and accessible spot on a shelf close to our table where we do school. This will help the cleanup process which will keep your area uncluttered in the long run. Next, put away the things you really like and plan to use, but maybe you don’t use it every day. Put that stuff in a spot you can access but it will be out of the way of the things you do use every day. Back to my homeschool organizing example: I then put the curriculum, activities, books, and things we use sometimes or things I really love and want us to use in the near future in an organized, but not as accessible spot on a difew rent shelf. Like with like examples: in a kitchen keep all of your baking supplies together and all of your pots and pans together, and all the food together and place them close to the spot where you will use them. For example my baking supplies (mixer attachments, cup measures, baking pans, spices, flour, etc.. are all in different cabinets close together and close to the countertop which I use for baking prep. I also keep my Kitchenaid mixer on that counter. You may have to grab a pen a paper and make notes for your specific area and then put away things. After putting the important things away, evaluate your space again…. is it full? if not then keep putting things from your keep stack neatly in the space. By the way, things do not have to be beautiful to be organized. Remember that Pottery Barn bookshelves are staged to appeal to the senses in order to sell products: most people don’t live in a world where all the book bindings and color coordinated, fancy book ends are displayed, and there is plenty of extra shelf space for adorable little trinkets and potied plants. The reality is for most of us that simply isn’t reality. Don’t get discouraged or defeated trying to make it look like the cover of a magazine.

The Random Leftover Stuff

Now you have come so far, don’t stop here! We all know the random things left at the end of a declutter project, right? Something like… a hairbow, a spatula, curriculum for fourth grade when we are on in second (but it was free so we took it), an extra phone charger, a canvas you plan to use for that pinterest project one day, kid art and completed worksheets, puzzles, a few dimes and pennies…. you know, the really random stuff. These things will now need to go to one of 4 places:
-to a specific spot where that kind of thing belongs in another room or area
-to the purge pile
-into the space being organized (but perhaps the back top shelf or somewhere very out of the way.
-to a “probation area” which is the place for the “I’m going to fix this” or “I’m going to diy this” items.

Let me explain the Probation Area

Place the item that you will fix or diy in a specified area. Give the item a 30 or 90 day probation time, and if you have not done with it what you planned by that time then purge it. This stuff needs to be kept in a logical and organized place that you see often so that you do not forget about it,but out of the way as well. Keep post-it notes on the items with their purge date written in large letters you can read from far away. When you see this it will prompt you to not procrastinate. It’s good to have a project day each week (mine is Saturdays) to work on things of this sort.

The Trash Bag Method:

There is another alternative for the people who struggle with this final step in the declutter process. If the final step seems too difficult (too many random things and you don’t know where to put them and you feel stressed and overwhelmed by it all), get anything very valuable out and put the rest in a black trash bag. Put the whole trash bag in a probation area and label the date; if you haven’t put the things away or needed anything out in 30 days then throw the whole bag away (don’t look inside! Just take it out to the trash can and forget about it.)

A word about sentimental items:

This is an area that can really mess people up when it comes to decluttering. I know some take a more minimalist view and say to toss it all, but I see some value in holding onto a select few things as long as they have a good place to be kept. I have one medium sized rubbermade tote that holds mine and my husband’s childhood sentimentals. Each of my children have a large binder; and I only keep my VERY favorite schoolwork and art in there as well as their tests and reports. (I call this their portfolio). We will likely end up with more than one binder per child: I think one elementary and one for middle and high school might work. Again these are VERY favorite which makes me seriously selective. I also keep some very special cards that some of my closest sisters in Christ have written and some from my family and husband; they are filled with Scriptures and encouragement, I keep them in a drawer by my bed. These mean a lot to me and I reread them from time to time. I keep a basket at the top of a closet which holds embroidered shirts my children wore for their birthdays and special occasions; one day when all my kids are grown out of the embroidery phase, I plan to pay someone to quilt them for me. I also keep photo albums and scrapbooks. Bottom line is, figure out what is very important to you and a find a box or folder to keep that kind of stuff in. Don’t keep too much! Remember that you can’t keep everything; and you should not feel guilty for throwing away birthday cards, kid school work, and other items like these. I have seen some great ideas for these things on pinterest. If you have a major surplus you just can’t part with: take pictures of children’s art and keep online or in a photo album on the computer. Some use scrap books and smash books, but be careful that you actually do the project and don’t just think about it. If you plan to do this, but those sentimental items in the probation stack.

Time to finish!

In the end, all of your things have been placed in their correct spot whether that is the trash can, donation, another room with like items, in the space, or in probation. See each part of this through completely! Finally, to celebrate, consider buying or making something lovely to add to that space. Perhaps a little mason jar with fresh flowers or a small piece of art…. it’s like the icing on the cake.

To keep clutter from recurring you will need to be diligent to put things away daily, to not pile things in your newly cleaned place that do not belong. If your family does this, consider buying each person a basket and gathering the stuff they sit in the area and deliver it to their rooms for them to put away. If they need help finding a place for these things then offer some tips. If it’s the hubby, don’t nag, but do offer ideas if it’s welcomed by him. Stay on top of the clutter zones in your house. And periodically go back through already organized shelves, cabinets, and closets to purge items that have never or rarely been used. Take it from a girl who use to really struggle with this, it does get easier the more you do it! We have to choose to live with intention and not out of habit; make it a point to do things differently and stick to it. You will be so happy that you did, and it will probably bless your husband and children too!

Happy Uncluttered Day!
-S

No Clutter November : Less Stuff, More Peace

1446857967163

I’m very excited to introduce the very first Abiding Woman homemaking challenge. I plan to periodically do these to encourage myself and other women in our homemaking. Throughout the month of November I be will blogging about the why and how of decluttering.

No Clutter November Phase One

Take a deep breath ladies, no need to grab a glass of wine or a can of gasoline and matches to deal with that mess of stuff that’s been driving you nuts for months now. We’re going to tackle it one phase at a time. We’re going to do this together. And we’re going to be done in time for the holidays. Are you with me? Are you ready? This really won’t be as hard as you think.

Step 1: Choose 3 places in your home that need less clutter and more peace. I want you to choose three different areas: a small high traffic area, a large monumental never ending mess area, and a hidden area.
For example:
My small high traffic area is my counter tops.
My large never ending mess area is my office/homeschool area.
My hidden area is my daughters’ shared closet (4 girls clothing in one closet is bound to get a little cluttered, right?)

Now phase one can be the hardest step for some, but it is the first step in cutting the clutter out. This step is to ruthlessly purge. That’s it… seems simple right? Wrong. My problem and most people’s problem is that we view non valuable items as valuable, and hence we hold on to them…. moving them here and there and everywhere. We spend our valuable time moving around things that we don’t even really want or need. But in the thick of the cleaning and organizing it is often difficult to discern whether an item is worth keeping or not.Now all hope is not lost, I have good news….

It is actually as easy as asking yourself 3 simple questions:

1. Do I need this currently?
Does it have a true purpose, function, and reason for being in your home?
2. Do I love this?
Is it beautiful, inspiring, and/or valuable to you? Would you pay money to keep it?
3. Do I have a place for this?
Is your space limited? If so then you may have to part with an item even if you feel you need or love it. I will try to help you out with ideas on this one later, so if you are running into items you need and love, but don’t have space for them, then put them in a box or basket and be sure you are subscribed by email because No Clutter November Phase Two will offer help for these very things.

As a part of the No Clutter November challenge I want to invite you to Domestically Challenged Divinely Equipped facebook group. There will be a thread starting tomorrow for us to post our goals, our before and after pictures, to ask for decluttering advice, and for general homemaking encouragement and accountability. I look forward to seeing you there!

Homemaker’s Holiday Challenge

This is just one post in the Homemaker’s Holiday Challenge series, brought to you by the bloggers behind the Domestically Challenged; Divinely Equipped Facebook group. Join us there for daily encouragement through this 5-day challenge and become a part of an awesome community of Christian homemakers!

Homemaker's Holiday Challenge

Check out the rest of the posts in the Homemaker’s Holiday Challenge below. 

How to Create a Memorable Christmas on a Small Budget from Jennifer at The Purposeful Mom

Holiday Homemaker's Challenge

No Clutter November: Less Stuff, More Peace from Stacey at Abiding Woman

Homemaker's Holiday Challenge - A 5-day challenge to prepare and plan for the holidays.

A Simple Plan for the Holidays from Tauna at Proverbial Homemaker

A Simple Plan for the Holidays Free 20+ page holiday planner PIN

Using Traditions to Draw our Families Close Together from Becky at Purposeful Homemaking

Homemaker's Holiday Challenge - A 5-day challenge to prepare and plan for the holidays.

Create a Season of Rest (+ABCs of Thanksgiving Poster) from Clarissa at Counting our Blessings

Homemaker's Holiday Challenge - A 5-day challenge to prepare and plan for the holidays.

Preschool & Kindergarten Creation Unit

creation-unit-for-kindergarten-and-preschool--1024x1024

The very first official homeschooling unit that I ever taught to my girls was on the 7 days of God creating the world. This was a part of our My Father’s World Kindergarten curriculum. It was such a sweet memory for us, and I remember thinking as we did it that this was so simple and fun and really, any mom could do this with things she has around the house! So I wanted to share some of our activities so that you too could do a creation unit of your own.

Color Creation Numbers and Put them in Order

These came with our My Father’s World curriculum, but you can print and make your own like this lady here (FYI: I do not endorse the beliefs of the linked blog, just sharing for the free printables).

creation unit creation unit 2creation numbers activity

Make a Creation Book

Each day have your child make a page with construction paper, craft supplies, and free printables online. Type a sentence or the verse which describes what happens in each day and have them glue it on their page.  At the end of the week punch holes and tie their book together. We loved this activity and these books are still a little treasure to me!

creation unit 3creation-collage

 Take the Creation Book outdoors and Find things from Each Page.

Use the creation book and go exploring outdoors with it. We simply took a walk around our neighborhood to do this. Not everything will be there, but it’s fun to get out and get them looking and thinking about the things God made, and in what order He made them.

creation outdoor hunt

Playdough Numbers and Creation Day Quizzing

This was not part of the curriculum, but we had the supplies on hand so it inspired a little addition to our unit. The girls enjoyed the sensory activity creating their numbers. As they displayed them and put them in order, I would ask them what God made on each day, and they would tell me. I was surprised at how much they were able to retain! It’s a great way to “test” without them even knowing it.

creation unit collage

Creation Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

Take a trip to a park or lake with some letters from either a puzzle, magnet letters, flash cards, or make your own. We had a little alphabet foam puzzle and we used the letters from it. I let each of my girls draw a letter out of a bag and look for something God created that started with the letter they chose. It was big fun! Some letters were more challenging than others and we really had to get creative! 
creation unit letter collage

Sweet memories!

This first week of homeschooling was so special to me! At first as my friends were posting pictures of their adorable little ones with backbacks as big as they were heading off to the first day school, I wasn’t sure how to emotionally process. It provoked so many questions as I surveyed the masses doing what I had always envisioned I would do, you know… sending your kid off to school, except I wasn’t. My girls were sitting at home eating their cheerios and still hanging out in their pjs just like any other day at 7:30am. I wondered if my kids were going to miss out on something. I wondered if I could really give them the education they needed. I wondered if I could be disciplined enough to really do it each day. I wondered how I would manage it through pregnancies and babies and toddlers to come.  I wondered if I could be patient enough, kind enough, thorough enough…. so many things to wonder. But the week we did this unit, our first official homeschool week; I will never forget how the Lord opened my eyes! It wasn’t about me being enough, God was enough! And He would supply me with all I needed for the journey ahead! And I saw in this sweet week with my girls that the time spent with them each day building stronger relationships, learning and exploring together, watching them grow in wisdom and knowledge under my guidance and love would actually bless me immensely!

creation unit field trip daySo thankful to be on this journey called homeschooling. It is truly a joy and a privilege!

-S