Friday, April 24, 2015

Dawn & Heather Read Together: Own Your Life (Chapter 3)

This chapter discussed identifying those negative voices from within, our past, the culture, & other people so that we can learn to listen to one Voice. The one that matters. Ah, we all know those negative voices well. I've already shared some of my own struggles. I loved how Elizabeth Elliot puts it: "You are loved with an everlasting love and under that love is everlasting arms." I hear ya (me) saying "But, but..." STOP IT! Meditate on God's Word, which is truth:

"There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus... For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1a & 2)

"In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7)

"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." (2 Corinthians 1:20)

I got to thinking about WHY we listen to those voices instead of the One that only matters. I think it goes back to a point Clarkson made in chapter 2- we need to know & embrace theology so it can shape our thoughts & behavior. We need to soak it in! Memorize it! Repeat it to ourselves! We have to "cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself agains the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

My favorite quote from the chapter was this one: "You have an ability to sparkle as you are in ways that no one will ever be able to match." (pg. 33) I'm going to embroider this for the girl's room! :) (I'd do it for the boys but the word "sparkle" wouldn't go over well.)

As Clarkson shared some of her struggles from childhood, it really got me thinking about how I relate to my own children. Am I building them up in the Lord? Am I coming alongside that struggling, difficult child and loving on them? Do they know they are not alone or that I do not judge them? Do they know that even on our worst days, my love isn't any less? Am I pointing my children to Christ to find their worth? Am I smiling more than I'm frowning?

Oh, Lord, help this (often mess of) daughter of the Great King help your little ones!

Be sure to check out Dawn's thoughts here!

Educational Report: Catching up on March & April 2015

Hm. My last report was from the week of February 15th just before our first break. We ended up taking 2 weeks off to finish out February. :) I'm not sure why I haven't kept up with these reports. We did battle the flu for three weeks in March- wow, that was TOUGH! Lessons kept plugging along but not at their normal level.

Again, I know it goes without saying but just in case someone gets the wrong idea... educating is so much more than the curriculum we use! We use it us to aid us in our teaching but math isn't taught by doing x number of pages. I write these reports mainly for us- it fun & helpful to look back & see what we've covered in the year. But I also write them to share with you all- I know I've always benefited for seeing how others home educate.

Let's play some catch up, though it will not be as detailed as weekly reports.

Covenant Classes: co-op continues to be a highlight of the children's week. Jonathan & Elizabeth's geography class has continued their studies. Patricia has been busy with her literature class. She completed studying Canterbury Tales  and Macbeth and is continuing to study parts of Paradise Lost. She's done A LOT of writing, including a research paper that blew Eric and I away. Her gift for writing has bloomed with this class! Patricia has also memorized & recited several pieces. Benjamin & Matthias have completed chapter 22-26 in their Primer B Latin books, as well as taking unit 6 test. They spent a fews reviewing & it has really helped their understanding. :) For Bible, Patricia's class has been studying Always Ready & a course syllabus put together by our Pastor called "The Defense of the Christian Religion." The other children have studied about God's promise of forgiveness and peace, as well as His promise of fruitfulness through Jesus Christ. They've memorized Isaiah 53,  Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 1:7 & 1 John 1:8-2:2. They are currently memorizing John 15:1-11. Jonathan & Elizabeth are a bit behind in their memory work but they'll catch up, even if we have to finish when classes end in May!

Memory Work: Bible memory has been the focus (it's been a lot!) but we did jump back with both feet with our regular meeting time this week. Of course, I forgot to blog about it. :/ I'll try to do that next week!

Abigail: she's still got a few letter sounds to learn but we've been working on a bit of Phonics Pathways- adding the m & s sounds to all the short vowel letters. She loves to write & often copies Elizabeth & Jonathan's copywork all on her own. Too funny! She practices spelling her name with me. We continue to plug along Essential Math Book A, with lots of hands on activities to enforce the concepts. She counts to 50 easily but doesn't recognize all those numbers yet. I've begun to read aloud to the little girls (Elizabeth, Abigail & Emily) just before bed at nights (not every night but almost). We finished Milly-Molly-Mandy (again- it's a favorite) and began The Secret Garden. It's a favorite time of the day for them & me! :)

Art & Music: I'm expecting to teach an art class next year at co-op & I'm THRILLED because any kind of formal lessons are not happening. A friend has offered to get together once a month so hopefully I can get that organized. For now, art happens in real life:

We missed piano lessons with our teacher the entire month of March due to flu but we kept up practicing (mostly). The children had a recital at the beginning of April:

History: we eased up on the fast pace we were moving through our Gileskirk American Culture studies, which is MORE than history but it just works to put it in this category. :) We've listened to lectures on the following men: Clay, Calhoun & Webster. We also listened to lectures on the indian wars & the trial of tears,  manifest destiny / regionalism, chattel slavery & fire breathers, which covered those who were on both sides of the extreme of the War Between the States. Lots of reading & journal writing. They finished reading American Short Anthology and began Confidence Man. So far, they've memorized three of the Bill of Rights.

For the younger set (Matthias, Jonathan & Elizabeth + all the other littles), we studied about Lafayette and the battles at Bennington, Brandywine & Saratoga. We read some of George Washington's World, though not enough. They all finished reading several book independently but I do not have the list in front of me to share the titles. I do remember that The Swamp Fox of the Revolution was a favorite of several of them. :)

Language Arts: okay this is probably the section I dread catching up a report on the most. We cover so much in this category! So... I'm not going to play catch up. :) We've done it throughly- it's one of those things that can happen mostly independently so it's easy to keep going when sickness (THREE STRAIGHT WEEKS OF FLU, people!) hit us. Writing took on the form of copyworb & narrations so I'm hoping to dive into more writing starting next week. (Patricia of course has done plenty of writing!) We did begin something new with the older three children: Fix-It! Grammar: the Nose Tree. (I had an older version from IEW but switched it out with the updated one.) They love learning grammar this way & it's effective to have them search for mistakes & identify parts of speech. LOVE! (This level is far too easy for Patricia so I'm having her move through it super fast.)

Latin: Patricia completed Latin Alive Book 1!!! So proud of her diligence in this area. I wish she could study with the co-op but she doesn't fit into any of the schedules. She has also finished two chapters in Latin Alive Book 2.  I already shared what the boys have covered. They began chapter 27 about the third declension this Thursday.

Logic: This week, Eric had Patricia and Benjamin begin Argument Builder again because he hadn't consistently kept up with it. So this week they (re)covered chapters 1-2.

Math: another area I dread catching up a report on. It got done. Not as consistently due to illness but when I couldn't teach, drill practice happened on their own. :)

Science: Patricia & Benjamin finished their General Science book. Yahoo! They begin Physical Science next week. The other children finished their Human Body book and began Planet Earth.

Phew. That was a lot. The only other thing to add is that this week, Matthias completed standardized testing. It's not the kind of assessment we care about (think Andrew Kern here) but it's required every three years in the state of Georgia so we check the box.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Peanut Butter is Messy Business

Especially when Emily is eating it! ;)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

An Evening at the Park

Last Sunday evening, we enjoyed some time at the local park in-between the rain. It's been constant for over a week, so we are all hoping for some sun soon. This little girl finds me a flower (or weed) every time she goes outside:

Georgia has beautiful parks & trials and we always enjoy "hiking."

Hmm... maybe I want to ride...

She decided against it- it's more fun to run after everyone (but she was easily distracted by anyone who went by, often following them for a time):


A little time of swinging before the rain started:

Notice her pearls. She was pretty excited to wear them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dawn & Heather Read Together: Own Your Life (Chapter 2)

"That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you." (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

Wow! This chapter on "controlling the chaos" has had me thinking and I'm still churning many things around in my head. I have to admit I chuckled a bit when I read the title of this chapter. Chaos? Check. Controlling? Well... sometimes. Maybe if it was just me that I had to control... Hah! Who am I kidding? I'd still be a mess without all these littles! In fact, I'd probably be more of a mess. ;)

We all know the pressure to do more, be more, have more. I think mama's feel that pressure even more because we take on the do, behave for our children (and hubbies, even though we often don't stop to ask them first). Home educating mamas add to that list with educate more. And often the world, friends & family tell us we are not doing it correctly, well or enough. Often, I tell myself that. Great. Guilt.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Anyone else ever read that and wonder? Read it and cry? Yeah, me too. My burden didn't feel light nor my yoke easy. I remember Eric finding me once sitting in piles & piles of laundry crying hard. He asked me what was wrong and what he could do. Poor guy! :) There were some logistics that needed changing in our home but mostly I just need to take my broken self to my Savior. I needed to sit at His feet, drink from Him. I needed to see beyond the bone-tiredness and realize He would see me through. Would it be easy? Nope. Quick? Maybe (it wasn't) but that wasn't the point. He was faithful. He was good. He loved me.

You see, the chaos doesn't usually go away. One form will merge into another, in varying degrees. :) But we can learn to control the chaos and own our life in the midst of it. How?

Sally first points out that we will be left empty if we chase after anything but Christ. We have to remove distractions that prevent us from being at peace with God. Ouch. Her promptings to search where my heart is, what I'm so busy doing & why I'm doing it were tough. Interestingly, I was already doing this a bit- there's something about pregnancy that always has me wanting to simplify. Are you too busy? Then let something go. It will be okay, I promise. If it must get done & you're oh so tired, enlist the help of a child, friend, outside help, hubby. Spend time in prayer & talk to your husband- God will direct your steps!

"Noting in this world will fill the deep crevices of your life with peace, contentment, love, and joy except God." (pg. 19)

Oh, how our world needs to hear this! One fade is quickly replaced with the next. One star looses popularity to another. One think tank outwits the next. And people still stay broken because they need Christ! Sadly, many of us in the church do too. Oh, Lord- help me to never offer any other solution except Your perfect Son!

Second, we need to know theology. Don't wrinkle your nose! Theology is beautiful because a right understanding of God helps to not only know who He is but also how to love Him! I found myself musing about my commitments to study His Word and spend time in prayer. Honestly, I struggle to find time to do this alone. :/ There are seasons for us mamas when our devotional time is short but I think if we are faithful to still do what we can, He will provide other seasons of lengthier devotions. Beyond devotions, we need worship!!! How sweet Sabbath rest is with God's people, as well as our times in His Word at home!

"Most of us do not have a corpus of Scripture in our minds, a comprehensive understanding of the Bible and its truths that can counteract the voices of culture. Yet in order to build well, we must have the right resources- a growing understanding and obedience to the words and messages of the God who created us." (pg. 22)

I will also add that knowing the Scriptures and spending time in His Word is so refreshing because it frees us from all the burdens the world (and my own sinful heart) would try to throw at me. We didn't get that math book finished. No guilt. I served pop tarts for breakfast. No guilt. I didn't even finish a week of working out. No guilt. I haven't mopped the floors in ages. No guilt. I let my baby cry it out or I didn't let my baby cry it out. No guilt. Are these things good? Maybe but unless the Scriptures call you to do it, the Lord lays them on your heart and you and your husband are on the same page, be at peace! Listen, I love to talk logistics and there's a place for it. But none of it saves!!!

Thirdly, we've got to act because love is a verb. I was left musing how my actions were showing what's in my heart because I so long for these things:

"Coming into contact with us should be like coming into contact with Jesus. And in fulfilling these purposes, we find satisfaction and peace in our souls." (pg. 23)

"Each day, you are writing the story that your life will tell throughout eternity." (pg. 24)

"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' " (Matthew 25:21)

You see, at the end of the day I just want to know that my God is pleased with me and that my loved ones feel loved. Praise God that Christ's redeeming work has paid it all and that I can know please Him! Praise God that I'm not alone and the chaos and busyness of life is all around me! Praise God for coffee and quiet time. :) I'd say owning my life is pretty special!!!

Be sure to check out Dawn's thoughts here!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Oh, that hair!

It's curly and grows mostly on the top with a bit down the middle of the back of her head, much like a little rooster. Love it!

And then she discovered she had a piece of tape on her foot. It had to be removed immediately, of course!

She leaned forward to tell me something so my focus fell on her lips & not her eyes. But I just loved this one anyway (yeah for mama goggles!) because it captures how she keeps pushing her lips just so to talk to me these days:

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Dawn & Heather Read Together: Own Your Life (Chapter 1)

I have to admit I struggled a bit with Sally's description of heroes. I probably struggled a bit because I've never dreamed for myself along those lines. I've always wanted to be and do what I'm doing right now: a wife & mother. But I also struggled because I firmly believe that doing those two things IS being a hero if one is doing it for God's glory with all of their might. To be fair, Sally gets to this point in her chapter but I just want to add that being these things (or being a husband, garbage man, whatever) is not playing second fiddle to a supposedly "higher" calling of a missionary. God does call many to the kind of leadership that heroes embody (praise God for each of them!). But I love what we learned from Dr. Grant just yesterday about leaders:

"Often times, great leadership looks a whole more like playing the second fiddle... I pray for these students.  Father, thank You for men of principle who were willing to stand in perilous times. Thank You for these examples of men who were willing to play a secondary role & still make a difference. I pray for these students. I pray that they would indeed be leaders, everyone in their own sphere. Not that they would be number one. God forbid! Enable us to aspire to work quietly, behind the scenes. To make a difference, change the world in our circles of influence, day by day, moment by moment. Make us, I pray, able to follow in the footsteps of the great almosts."

Let me be very clear: Sally Clarkson never says missionary work is a higher calling but she does share she struggled thinking that. And I think it's something that many in the church need to get out of their head! Sally puts it well when she says:

"I know now that heroes come with a variety of stories. A radical life for Christ is not always visible to outside eyes." (pg. 11)

The title of this chapter is "Seeing the beauty and purpose in your ordinary days." I LOVE this! I've wrote before about the mundane and I'll be very honest with you all in sharing that I've struggled recently with seeing the beauty in my ordinary days- kinda feels like I'm doing the same thing over and over and over. I love how Sally points us to Hebrews 12:11 and shares:

"God wanted to train me in holiness right where I was, in these circumstances." (pg. 8)

"So many of my own years had been poured into the mundane moments of life, yet I sought to make each one a celebration of His reality." (pg. 11)

I love the idea of celebrating in His reality! :) I have no idea how God will use my interaction with other people or the training of my children but the idea that it may please my Savior- that makes me smile! My ordinary is heroism in His eyes! And you know what, mamas? It's also heroism in your children's eyes. And I bet your husband's eyes shine too. Pretty awesome stuff!

It's also encouraging to reflect on how God is ordering our lives! It's not by chance or bad will that we meet trials or even the mundane. He wants so much more than our momentary comfort- He will see us refined into His glorious image that will last for eternity. I'm so glad He has this vision & that He is good enough to often withhold what my selfish, petty heart wants. I'm grateful that slowly but surely, He's molding my desires after His. Often that's come through something painful- death, sickness, loss, loneliness, judgment, misunderstanding. We can say it hurts. We can cry. We can be broken before Him. But we can not despair because we are not alone! He is with us, ordering all things for our good! He will help us and bring us through. Peace in the midst of pain. Sunshine at the end of a storm.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)

"There I learned that life was not about my ease, but about God's desire to help me become mature. He wanted to take from my hands the very things that I was holding on to for security so that I could find lasting happiness in the simple things that could never be lost." (Clarkson, pg. 12)

You can read Dawn's thoughts here about chapter one! Plus, she has a fun little button for chapter one. She's the computer-savy one. :)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A Blanket for Josiah

Yesterday I started knitting a baby blanket for Josiah using another Purl Bee pattern: the chevron baby blanket. :) This company truly has amazing patterns & products! These are the colors I chose:

The pattern is simple & going fairly fast- I'm just about done with the first color. :) I'm LOVING the feel of this cotton yarn & Purl Bee says I can machine wash it, which is a must for baby blankets. I haven't done any major knitting since last fall so it's been good to hold needles in my hand again. I can't wait to hold our son wrapped in his blanket!