What are we really doing here…

I recently listened to a two part podcast by Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing titled “What Are We Really Doing Here”  while I enjoyed the podcast it has got me asking, “What am I really doing here?”

As I enter into my 6th year of homeschooling I find myself thinking more about where we are going and the journey versus what we are going to accomplish this year.  A few weeks ago I set August 15th, 2016 as our school start date. At the time it seemed like just another date on the calendar but this morning when my alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. I realized that date carried more weight than I originally intended for it to, this morning it felt heavy.  As I willed myself out of bed earlier than I normally do I knew today was different.

Today I was reminded that I am working towards building a cathedral. By getting out of bed today and getting myself ready to greet my kiddos on our first day of school I invested in something eternal and holy.  6 years ago, if you would of told me I would be a cathedral builder or that  homeschooling is a holy and sacred work I probably would of shrugged my shoulders and nodded my head in agreement… but I wouldn’t of truly understood. But today, when I think about those things I am aware that something sacred is happening around my kitchen table and for that I stand in awe of God who called me to this work and the souls He has entrusted to me.

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As I watch these souls grow and mature I am learning to see what is truly important. While learning to read, sharing wonderful stories, exploring God’s creation and engaging in meaningful conversation are good and necessary they are not the most important thing.  A few weeks ago while reading Timothy Keller’s Songs of Jesus I was struck by this verse in the NIV,

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name, Psalm 86:11

This verse encapsulates what is important. As we started our school year we made this our prayer, that we would learn the way of the Lord, that we would rely on His faithfulness, that our hearts would not be divided but wholly focused on God and His glory and that we would learn what it means to fear His name.  It is to this end that I endeavor to build cathedrals while serving and worshipping the Lord.

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Homeschooling is Discipleship

Why is it that we get so lost in the math lessons and the spelling lists that academics trump relationships? Why do we forget that God called us to keep our kids at home so that we could share our lives with one another and invest in our children? We are so busy checking boxes that we rarely slow down long enough to look our precious children in the face, to look into their trusting eyes and see into their hearts. After the first day of our local homeschool convention I walked away exhorted, admonished and encouraged.

One of the main verses that the Lord impressed upon my heart while listening to various speakers was this verse…

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Talk about a gut check. If a student (i.e. my children), when they are fully trained (i.e. leave my care and authority), are to be like their teacher (i.e. me) that can be a very scary thought. I was reminded today about the necessity of pursuing God with all MY heart, mind, soul and strength. The reminder was loud and clear, this isn’t about academics, it is about relationships. About discipleship. About taking my children along side me as I seek to know God and make Him known in my life. It has very little to do with math and penmanship and everything to do with loving God and loving others.

Friends, this is hard. I love my children with a fierceness that runs deep, however, at times I just go through the motions in the name of productivity. When I think about this verse and the implications that arise, I am reminded of the broken and weak vessel that I am. I am incapable in my own strength of being worthy to be called teacher. Yet I know this is exactly where God wants me to be.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

God has called me not to depend on myself, my creativity, or my ability to lay out a plan but to trust in the power of Christ. I am called to rest in the truth that it is He who began a good work in my life and the lives of my children will complete it. I believe trusting and resting means prioritizing discipleship over productivity and relationships over results. This means setting aside worry about academic endeavors and seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and letting God fill in gaps. To do these things I must be pursuing the kingdom through the means of grace. I am reminded of one of my very favorite quotes,

“The only way to keep a broken vessel full is to keep the faucet running.” – D.L. Moody

The imagery of a clay pot that is broken yet usable only if the water is continually running is one I can relate to.  This has been true in my own life, when I am weak He is strong. That is my prayer as I prepare for the upcoming year that God would be made known through my weakness and that I can be a teacher worthy of imitation so that I can say to my children, “follow me as I follow Christ.”

Focus & Align: Rule of 6

I found myself at the beginning of the year sinking. Sinking into the trap of not doing anything well because I was trying to do everything. I knew some things needed to get cut but I couldn’t decide what! I needed a lifeline. Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival helped pull me out of the pit with her Focus and Align class that is apart of the Read Aloud Revival Membership.  This Master’s Class was all about focusing in on what you want to accomplish in your school days and creating a filter to run things through when something has to go or be added.  My filter is a little more philosophical and less practical but it helped me to see what I truly wanted out of our home education experience. One thing I came to realize is that we needed to spend more time together cultivating relationships versus more time cracking open the books.  Since I am preparing for the next school year this rule of six is helping me navigate what fills our days, our minds, and our souls. My prayer is that this is how we are defined as a family.

This is what we do because it is who we are, we are

pursuers of truth by learning to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We are wonder chasers by learning and doing things that point us to God. We are beauty seekers by rightly ordering our affections so that we can see the beauty of the Lord. We cultivate goodness by setting aside sin and running toward Jesus. We are servants by learning to love our neighbor as our self and we love unconditionally by remembering that we love because Jesus first loved us. 

To see others thoughts from the masters class search the hashtag #RARruleof6 on Instagram and Facebook!

If you are considering how to go deep instead of wide in your curriculum choices I would recommend watching Christopher Perrin’s Youtube video on Multum non Multa which is Latin for Much not Many.

 

Do More Better | Roles, Responsibilities & Mission Statements

Do More Better is a practical  guide to productivity. The author, Tim Challies, moves you through a set of exercises to help you learn to do more better.  On his website he supplies a productivity worksheet to aid in the task of defining your roles and then your responsibilities within those roles and lastly creating brief mission statements for each of those roles. This post is the outworking of that worksheet in my life. It has been awhile since I have defined these roles and mission statements. I found the exercise very beneficial and know I will return to it as I move throughout my life.

 

Roles, Responsibilities & Mission Statements 

 

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

 

Personal

Spiritual: Bible, Devotions, Church, Worship, Prayer

Cultivate: Reading widely, Writing to process my thoughts, Listening to podcasts

Creating: Creating beauty through photography, organizing to claim the chaos, arts & crafts

Relationships: Invest and maintain the friendships God has given me

Physical: Rest, exercise, & outdoor time in God’s creation

To pursue God by cultivating my mind, heart and soul. Tending to my soul through participating in the means of grace. Nurturing my mind and heart by reading, writing and listening. Cultivating truth, goodness and beauty around me through creating. Loving my neighbor and resting in the finished work of Jesus.

 

Family

Relationship with my husband, children and extended family.

To bring glory to God by loving my family as I do myself. By investing time in them and with them and cultivating a relationship  built on the kingdom of God.

 

Home Management

All things pertaining to the running of the home. Paying bills, cooking meals, keeping order

To provide a sanctuary for my family and friends by keeping the daily operations running smoothly so that others can rest and rejoice in Jesus.

 

Home Education

All things pertaining to my children’s education. Casting a vision yearly, planning and ordering curriculum, planning weekly/daily lesson plans, execution of the lesson plans

To point my children to Jesus through the means and method of home education.

 

Church Member

Be a Titus 2 woman, who opens her home so relationships can be nurtured. Teaching children on Wednesday nights.

To love God by loving and serving my neighbor through teaching, relationships and hospitality.

 

Classical Conversations

Record keeping, outreach, training, bookwork/computer work, training, discipleship & encouragement of tutors and families, practicum.

To serve homeschool families in SWMO by walking along side of, encouraging , equipping and administrating our local Classical Conversations community so that we can pursue the mission of knowing God and making Him known.

Self Care, Crazy Busy, Productivity & The Truth

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I’ve been on a reading binge this year, knocking out a few books that have peaked my interest in recent years. One reading priority I made toward the beginning of the year was to read a few books on productivity and time management.  As I have mentioned time and time again one of my biggest struggles is self discipline. It’s not that I don’t get things done it is more that I often feel overwhelmed as I am getting those things done. So I set out to read a few books that might aid in my endeavor to be less overwhelmed and more disciplined. While I cannot wait to share about the books themselves, this post is more about my response to the reading of these books in general.

So far I have finished The Fringe Hours and Crazy Busy. I am working my way through Do More Better. The Fringe Hours is really about making time to take care of yourself and do things that you love so you can be better at what you are called to do. Jessica Turner encourages readers to find what fills them up. That may be a book club, craft project, dinner out with friends, taking a nap or anything of the sort.  The focus is very much centered on taking care of you. It is a self care book after all. Crazy Busy dives into the problem of busyness and some reasons we are busy. Kevin DeYoung really focuses on diagnosing the busyness so we can better deal with the busyness. Do More Better is doing what the subtitle claims to do, it is a practical guide to productivity. Tim Challies practically walks the reader through how to figure out what you are suppose to be doing and doing more better.

All three of these books have blessed me in some way and challenged me in others. As I am walking through Do More Better after reading the other two books I am feeling a little overwhelmed. Let me explain, Challies has the reader list their responsibilities, roles and to create mission statements for each role. I have been working through this over the course of a few days. As I was typing this up for my benefit I was struck by the reality that there is NO way I can do all that I am responsible for. ABSOLUTELY, NO WAY.  I looked at the list and was struck by the reality that I was suppose to take care of myself, cultivate relationships within my four walls and outside of my four walls, manage my household, educate my children,  and serve our local homeschool community. This exercise also showed me all the things I’m not doing that I should be doing.   My natural inclination is to throw my hands up and run for my bed so I can pull the covers up over my head and pretend life is easy and there is no balancing act that is required. I often opt for blissful ignorance. But, by the grace of God, He shined light into what was about to become very dark.

 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

 

Truth is what dispelled the darkness that was seeping into my mind. I am thankful that when we spend time in the Word we are making deposits into a deep well that we can draw from when we are weary. My flesh and the world wanted me to believe that I wasn’t enough and couldn’t measure up. Truth told me that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) and I was reminded that my identity was not found in what I was doing or was not doing but in Jesus Christ alone.  When my flesh said “I cannot do this, I am not enough” Truth told me that I wasn’t suppose to be enough and my boast can only be found in my weakness because that is when Christ is made strong.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) After coming to the realization of who I am in Christ and that a weak vessel is what we are called to be I still wondered how I was going to get it all done. Again, Truth spoke life into my soul reminding me that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

As I saved the document I was working on my heart was full. It was full because the Holy Spirit breathed life into my dry bones. Self care, curbing busyness and productivity are all worthy endeavors within their right place.  As I prayerfully move forward seeking to honor God with my endeavors and time, peace has quieted my anxious heart. That peace is found in knowing that God is working and I am a long for the ride. I am trusting the power of the Holy Spirit to continue to convict and change me so that my productivity is measured not by what I get done but on WHO I am getting it done for.

Keeping On, Catching Up

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It is hard to believe that in 11 days the calendar will change and 2016 will be upon us. In the two months since I last posted I have done a lot of journeying in this life. I have explored, I have read, I have taught, I have played, I have rested, I have worked and I have grown. I am learning what it looks like to slow down and savor the days, to be present and live in the moment. I have spent more time enjoying God’s creation, escaping into a story and experiencing life with my people.

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What I have realized is that in the mundane I am making small deposits into the lives of my children and that, by the grace of God, will pay big dividends in the future. Our days are not always easy and rarely smooth but one thing is certain, these days are a gift. These precious children are a gift and my time with them is priceless.

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As I look toward 2016 and the God who is ordering my steps I feel thankful and confident. Thankful that God has shown great grace in His son Jesus Christ and confident that He is working in my life for His will and His pleasure. God has placed a desire in my heart for something more and I am eagerly anticipating how He will fashion and shape my 2016.

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Homeschool Week 9 Wrap Up

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Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24

Week 9 marked our 6 week break from CC and while I knew I didn’t want to take it completely off I wanted to use it differently than our “regular” weeks.  Primarily I wanted it to be lighter and spent exploring outside.  I just finished listening to a biography about George Washington Carver titled George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist. The story of this mans life moved me to tears on more than one occasion. He *FOUGHT* to overcome so many odds to become educated but yet remained so incredibly humbled.  Two reasons I believe he remained so humble was because of his faith in God and his constant contact with his creation. After listening to the biography I am more convinced than ever that we need to spend more time outdoors and learning about God’s creation. That being said, that is what we did.
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We visited Prairie State Park with friends one day. You can read a full post about that here. 

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We visited our local park and enjoyed exploring close to home. I was truly amazed at the diversity we encountered as we slowed down long enough to really look at things.

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We also took some time to explore our very own back yard! We have a garden spider who is hanging out with her egg cases outside our window. We have watched her eat a few bugs and are lamenting the reality that in a few weeks she will die with the first frost. However we are hopeful that her babies will survive and hatch in the spring. I noticed another garden spider on the play set as I was mowing this week. Also a walking stick but it disappeared by the time I made it back with my camera. The squirrels this time of year are really serious about their nut scavenging. Ulysses, the squirrel in the tree, was NOT happy I was taking his picture. If your not familiar with Ulysses the squirrel you should check out  Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. (We listened to the audiobook from our library, great listen!) We have also had a nest in the ground. I am leaning towards a yellow jacket nest but not completely sure. I am in the process of eradicating the stinging insects but I do find the whole “nest in the ground” thing completely fascinating.

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We wrapped up the week painting. I am no artist, though I wish I were. However I enjoy creating memories (and getting better about relishing the messes) with my kiddos. I enjoyed a slower week and am thankful I got to spend it with blessings!

Linking up with Homegrown Learners Collage Friday. 

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Nature Hike | Prairie State Park Mindenmines, MO

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//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsam endeavoring to get my children outside more and when a friend of mine mentioned traveling an hour or so north to visit Prairie State Park I JUMPED on the idea. I have driven through the park on a couple of occasions but never actually stopped or hiked around. Upon arrival we stopped at the Nature Center which was really interactive and pretty neat. We could have spent more time reading and learning about the prairie and bison but we were ready to eat some lunch and *hunt* some bison.  Many of the bison were corralled for yearly health check ups. We saw one lone bison on the prairie and stirred up a few elk on our hike but the prairie itself did not disappoint.

 

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I was amazed at beauty and diversity of the prairie. The park ranger shared how every season brings a new allurement to the prairie. We may have to venture back every season to see God’s handiwork on display.  As we hiked along the Gayfeather Trail I could not help but consider what life must have been like for the pioneers who came to “tame” the land. I gained a new understanding of what is meant by the “rolling prairie” as what I once saw a few steps before vanished in the blink of an eye. As we crested one of the highest ridges of the park my mind was ushered to a previous century where smoked, from the near by indian village, lined the horizon and the wagon train left a well worn path and unmarked grave stones in it’s wake. My soul ached at the thought of the beauty of what once was and in a sense of what has been lost.  I was quickly comforted by the sounds of my children and their friends enjoying the prairie, tramping through the vastness of the tall grass and witnessing the diversity of the creator and His wonderful works.    

Homeschool Week 7 & 8 Wrap Up

Here is week 7 & 8 in review (bullet point style).

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  • The past two weeks have been filled with music, good books and volleyball.
  • I am so thankful Grammy is passing on her love for the piano.

week7b

  • I am loving our loop scheduling this year and we are enjoying our nature notebooks.
  • Mr. J is showing some reading readiness so we are slowly wading into our Primary Arts of Language Reading curriculum from IEW.

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  • Fall is in the air and we went apple picking! Apple picking leads to apple eating…

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  • //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWe have been wanting to put a fire pit in for a few years. With the help of some friends we were successful. I love having a place to sit and chat (and eat smores!!) and enjoy one another outside.

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  • We enjoyed the blood moon by the fire with a good book.

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  • Mr J was in heaven when the fire department showed up at library story time!

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  • We visited Pioneer Days at George Washington Carver National Monument for a field trip.  This is our third trip to Pioneer Days but our first trip where we really knew something about George Carver.  We have been listening to George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist. Despite numerous setbacks Carver sought and education and wanted to do great things in his life. I have been brought to tears numerous times while listening to this book. I can’t do him justice in a bullet point, George W. Carver is worthy of his own post.🙂
  • At Pioneer Days the park sets up stations, old fashion games, story telling, laundry washing, candle sipping, open fire cooking, and exploring the awesome museum. My crew had a great time!

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week8d

  • All that apple picking yielded a few jars of pink applesauce, apple butter, cinnamon applesauce. YUM! I had a pretty great helper too!

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  • I am trying to build some free time into our days. While sissy was using her free time to sew I found my little guy on the deck chilling out in the sun!
  • We concluded the weekend with a fire in the fire pit, hot dogs, smores and a little reading of The Green Ember by the fire.

The past two weeks have my mama heart overflowing . They have been full of good things with my good gifts from God.

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Links to Linger Over #3

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We have been pretty busy the past two weeks living life, however there are a few great things I came across I want to share…..

  • Where Mothers find Their Worship – SO SO SO good! My favorite part, “But, I never felt Him more clearly and more tenderly than I have felt Him in my years as a mama. He took my neat, clean life and He chuckled as He dropped babies into it. His fingerprints are all over this mess. And, I know Him better and love Him more in this glorious jumble than I ever have before.”
  • Read Aloud Revival – If you haven’t you should check out the podcast, the membership site, and the brand NEW forum! I should just do a whole post one of these days on why I love the Read Aloud Revival message and community!!
  • All-Day Apple Butter Recipe – This is currently in my crock pot! I haven’t tried it yet but my house smells edible so I think that is a good indicator to the yumminess that is cooking!
  • The Only Thing I Know About Parenting – I so needed this reminder this week! “God has to do this for me. Not with me. For me. Thinking that God is merely by my side on my parenting journey leads me to believe the lie that I must be more than I was created to be. Instead, I can confidently embrace the fullness of who He is as sovereign Lord of my children. God, be for my sons all that I cannot. Protect them, lead them, teach them. They are yours. I trust you.”
  • 31 Days of Book Detectives – I cannot wait to learn more as Heidi @ Mt. Hope Chronicles posts daily about parent/child book clubs!

What else did you stumble across this week that blessed you?