The pace of life around here has changed lately. We’re enjoying learning so much more, there’s less busyness, and we aren’t going out as much as we used to. Life and homeschooling has become much more simple, even though all our children are actively learning through the day.
I’m beginning to embrace this season of life so much more than when I was trying to juggle too much. The homeschool life just requires me laying down all my immediate wants and desires, if I’m to do this well. This is my ministry, and will be for some time. And if I’m really thinking long-term, my greatest desire is really to raise wholehearted children. Everything else can wait.
Homeschooling also demands a different way of looking at learning, relationships, and priorities, just to name a few. It’s taken some years, but I think I’m finally free from trying to do public school at home, and now think more in terms of becoming a family that learns and grows together.
So on that note, here are some highlights from this week in our homeschool, in all its simplicity, mess, delight, unfinished tasks, and freshly doggy-eared books.
The kids are rolling out dough for our unleavened bread. We studied the Exodus account of the Israelites leaving Egypt in ‘Story of the World’ chapter 14.
For lunch, we cooked up our bread and made some hummus. Just for fun we had our lunch spread on the floor. We read about Passover and also made some charoset.
My daughter is starting to make candy rock crystals, one of the experiments in SuperCharged Science.
We did some finger painting outside from a simple print-out from Meaningful Mama.
A happy scene when I went to gather us all for lunch. Sibling relationships is something we are intentionally working on at the moment. I don’t just want them to tolerate each others company, I want them to love each other! The small victories make me smile.
Tonight we are watching Anne of Green Gables for our Friday Family Night… on video tape might I add, on loan from a homeschool friend. So the kids have also had a lesson in how to work a video player. Like in the olden days.
Have a great weekend, and I hope you are enjoying every small and wonderful moment with your children.
Music is my great love. I’ve always had music around me constantly, even before I was a Christian, and have always been desperately drawn to expressing the creativity of our Creator God through sound.
Ability-wise, I learned classical piano when I was young to Grade 5, I taught myself the guitar in my early 20s, and can sing a little above average. I have some natural talent but not tons of it. There is always someone else around that is much more capable to lead worship, even in a small group of friends, and my own songs would most likely not make the cut onto any worship album. I have a realistic estimation of my ability so you will probably not catch me gracing your screens anytime soon!
It’s only been as an adult I finally have gained some confidence – or perhaps I just mind much less what people think these days. But now I have a growing family and more than enough to do with my time than practice for the hours it will take to cultivate what little natural ability I have! And to what end if I was to pursue that? What does the Lord really want me to do with the sound that is within me? I’ve felt for a long time the Lord wants me to lead worship, yet I have zero desire to do this on a stage and/or in the form that most are used to. I’m a little different.
So what do I do with this overwhelming desire to make beautiful and creative sound in worship?
Here’s what I’ve seen unfold in my life so far, which I’d like to encourage you in also.
You can affect the atmosphere, be it a regular church gathering or any time that people come together in His name. You can change the environment by releasing your sound into that place. Whether or not someone hears your worship, or whether it’s especially tuneful or ultra gifted,you were made to worship! God isn’t looking for the most talented singers or musicians to bring glory to His name.
‘Rend your hearts, not your garments’ (Joel 2:13).
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name”. – Hebrews 13:15
So in making my sound only for Him alone, does this mean I’ll never express worship publicly for others to hear? Or write songs that someone else will sing? I really don’t know. But whether or not that was to happen, I still have a sound to make as I become more free in who the Father has created me to be, and it’s my own sound, unique and beautiful to my Father in heaven, and worthy of being expressed. He’s listening and He enjoys what I offer Him. My worship is for an audience of One. There’s nothing quite like coming together in unity with my believing friends in times of worship and bringing glory to Him.
I love to watch others sometimes, and see the different colourful expressions of worship – someone who doesn’t sing but who drums his fingers on the back of a chair; or those that dance; and those who sing beautiful harmonies naturally to every note; or simply those that close their eyes and smile as they sing quietly. It’s a sweet sound to hear what a group of friends will make together. I especially love to hear indigenous sounds of worship, communities of passionate Jesus followers, worshiping in their own language, style, sound, and uniqueness. My heart wants to explode with joy!
Naturally, it does helps to have someone who can sing in key and play in time to lead others in worship! But your sound in worship is no less worthy, beautiful, unique and needed than a worship leader with the guitar and voice.
What is your sound? Do you play an instrument, whatever your skill level? Do you hum, whistle, sing, clap, recite poetry, dance or perhaps create something beautiful on a blank canvas? There are other ways to worship, but there’s nothing quite like making sound!
Let me encourage you today to release your sound on the earth. There’s no-one else who can express it quite like you.
“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;” – Psalm 98:4
I can hardly believe that the month of February is already gone! We finished our summer holidays and have been back to homeschool in full swing. You might remember last month that I wrote that we are changing the pace of life in our family, and being intentional about what we say yes to. It’s been such a good thing so far and I would love to encourage you again to consider how this might look in your own family.
So on that note, here’s some things to pass on that have caught my attention this past month.
I love this version of ‘The Prayer’ with Josh Groban and Celine Dion.
New Discoveries and Good Ideas
Seasons at Homeis a stunning print magazine with topics for the whole family, and includes articles on whole food cooking, homemaking, homeschooling, and projects for the home.
‘Take Them a Meal‘ is a great way of organising a meal roster for someone special. I’ve been part of these many times. You can see what others are planning, which helps to avoid 7 nights in a row of lasagne. 🙂
I cannot tell you how incredibly excited I am about having the opportunity to watch and review this documentary called ‘Captivated’ very soon! Please take a look at the short clips here and I’ll let you know soon where you can get hold of a copy for yourself.
Celebrating Woman – my Pinterest Board with some fabulous photos of woman around the world.
Quote of the Month
When you articulate your boundaries to people, they have the opportunity to respect your needs and virtues and protect your relationship with them. And when they value and protect the things that are important to you, the relationship flourishes. This is the process that builds trust between you and others. – from ‘The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness’ by Kris Vallotton
I’ve had the privilege this week of writing for Lindsey at ‘The Road to 31’ on ‘Reading Aloud Together’. Lindsey writes on similar things, including homemaking, natural living, homeschooling, and faith, and much of how she lives resonates with me also.
I’ll be writing each month on her beautiful space on the internet which I’m so looking forward to doing. I hope you’ll stop by and leave me a note there. 🙂
I would love you to take a read of this oneand let me know what you think.
“Reading aloud together is quite simply one of the best things you can do in your homeschool. It’s where language is learned. It’s where memories are made and relationship fostered. It’s where a love of learning is cultivated. It will leave an imprint on your child’s heart of being close with Mum or Dad, while discovering together the hidden treasure that lies within the pages of a book.”…
There’s a flood of e-books, articles and information online these days, giving us insight into how to balance every aspect of our lives, particularly for us mothers that are at home and sometimes also homeschooling our children. Although there are varying voices on the subject, the loudest one appears to be that we woman can have it all, make a few compromises and take some short-cuts, but still manage to juggle all these balls that are thrown our way.
I’ve felt caught up into the frenzy myself at times, with a mix of worthy goals and some less worthy – to nurture my marriage, successfully raise and teach my children, be actively involved in the lives of others, have some sort of public face so I don’t fade into obscurity, manage a home well, give out of what the Lord has placed in my hands, have Mum time with others outside my home, meetings and functions, write in this space here while ticking all the necessary boxes that I knew nothing about 12 months ago (eg. SEO keywords, pinnable images, and social media promotion)… and so forth.
And then there’s the deepest desire within me to connect more closely with my Creator, the source of all things good in my life. He has so much he wants to share with me, and yet my own fears of perhaps falling off someone’s radar or not feeling fully satisfied with how things are arranged in my life, has frequently kept me from being still and moving out of the fast pace of modern life to hear His voice.
I love the picture that we have been given in creation, of bees, birds and insects, living out their purpose, but not in a hurry. There’s a natural rhythm to things, cycles and seasons that continue without toil. Fruit comes forth from a healthy tree of its own accord, and doesn’t strain or labour to appear. Aren’t we, those created in the image of God, so much more capable of finding this sort of purpose and peace in our own lives? To align ourselves with a rhythm and purpose that has peace, sustained rest, and fullness of life?
So I’m at the point now of saying yes more to the things that matter, which inevitably means saying no to other things at times.
Yes to more time with Jesus, so no to things that use my time unwisely or that can simply wait.
Yes to more time just enjoying the sun with my children, feet in the grass, and breathing fresh air, so no to always managing our day according to the clock.
Yes to making our home as our ‘centre’, so no to lots of activity through the week outside the home.
Yes to the natural rhythm and pace that my family is best wired to, so no to hurrying my children up all the time.
Yes to the ‘hidden’ things that take place out of sight from others: enjoying my children, loving my husband, and cultivating a healthy environment in my home. So no to excessive social media time, ‘me’ time with friends, blogging things, or putting aside the ministry in my home to do ministry in other places. [Of course I still want to spend time with my friends and serve the Lord in other places besides my home, but those things need to find their place in this season of my life where my home is where my heart is].
I’m anticipating that in deciding to focus primarily on these hidden years with my children, I might fall off the social scene somewhat, not always make it to events and functions, and perhaps even become forgotten by some if I lose my visibility in their lives. But I’m choosing to focus on what God is giving me, not what I am losing. I’m going after what He is giving me instead!
I’m finding I’m looking forward to waking up each day, having the kids jump into my lap, homeschooling them (even though daily there are still challenges to overcome), and the end of the day I can’t wait to spend time with Jesus.
I’m off the treadmill and have my feet on the ground. I’m planning to enjoy my years with my children. I don’t want a single regret from this point forward.
Beginning this month, I’m going to do a round up at the end of each month of things that have grabbed my attention over the course of the month – things to make in the kitchen, things I’m reading or watching, something I’ve read or discovered in health and natural living, and perhaps something we’ve been doing in homeschooling that’s been a great experience or fun part of the journey.
I simply want to pass on things that have caught my interest and been of benefit to my journey, in the hope that you might also find something useful or inspiring too.
So here goes…
In the Kitchen
I’ve spent the month making these regularly, which are keeping us cool at the height of summer, and are also healthy: Sugar-free chocolate fudge.
I’ve been enjoying Dr Caroline Leaf’s material for the last couple of years on the brain and faith connection, and strongly recommend you listen in. She has a series online at the moment on TBN. Here is the first episode.
Rend Collective: 10,000 reasons – Love this! Intimate, honest, inclusive worship in a community of kindred people. Love the Irish folksy sound, and love the heart of these people to honour one another and honour their King.
iHerb.com – a great place to get over 35,000 supplements, health and beauty products at great prices. Best of all, they ship to NZ for just $4, and only $8 for 2-day delivery (on average). I’ve already put through 2 orders – love cheap international postage!
See the Light ShineArt DVD series – just got bumped up my homeschool wishlist. We can’t wait to get started next month!
PureSante –spend months or years trying to get to the bottom of your health issues (like I have!), or consult with someone like the amazing Rachael who can help lead you into greater health. For folks in the Bay of Plenty, give this fantastic gal a call – she is amazing!
On the Homeschool Front
Our scripture to memorise and soak in this month (or longer): Psalm 91.
“When the key element of your identity comes from a negative, then your experiences will always be negative. When you see yourself as a sinner, then you will be preoccupied with sin. When you know that you are a saint, then you will be occupied with righteousness because a saint is one of the holy ones. You were a sinner that has been saved by grace to become a saint. You are a child of light beloved of God walking in newness of life. That makes you a completely different person!”
There are so many ways to bring family history alive to your children! Here is a list of 15 different art project ideas to do with your children of all ages.
Create a stained glass window
Use different coloured tissue paper pieces, first glued onto waxed paper, then removed when dried, creating a single page. Cut into a shape and glue edges into a window-shaped frame made from paper. Keep it simple for younger ones, or for older children find a photo of an ancestral church and copy the design and shape of the window.
Church Mosaic floor design
Choose one of your ancestral churches (where christenings and burials took place) and create a mosaic tile floor design. Use ripped paper for your mosaic pieces, and glue onto black paper.
You might also like to collect up old plates from an op shop, break into small pieces (sand the edges beforehand if they’re a little sharp in places), and create a mosaic floor design using a single floor tile and plaster.
19th Century Etching
Locate an image online of a church, historical building, workhouse, or 19th century scene, print, and sketch a copy in the style of an etching.
Take photos of local people, places, historical places of interest. You may like to choose a single subject or person of interest. Display as a collage or create a book to print off with a description under each photo. Remember not to cut up originals, always make copies.
Mixed Media Collage
Create a collage of a family group which could include copies of photos, letters, newspaper clippings, and anything else you might have in your record/memory boxes, and decorated with scrapbooking embellishments and newspaper scraps. Get creative with how you present it!
Newspaper Front Page
Choose a date in history and include articles and photos of things happening at the time in local and world history, and also in your family’s history. You could call it the ‘Smith’ Family Chronicle (or whatever surname you are using), or use the place of interest in the title (eg. The Essex Enquirer). Include advertisements for popular items of the time period, or situations vacant for historical jobs (eg. weaver, wheelwright, and rope-maker).
Make a Family Tree Poster
Create a large family tree poster with a giant tree in the centre and include ancestral relationships up the branches (include parents, grandparents, great grandparents).
Make a Puzzle
Print a photo on cardstock and cut into a puzzle. If you have more than one child, you might like to print the same photo for all of them, and depending on their age, cut into anything from 5 pieces to 50 for your older children.
Create an Activity Book
Include maps, colouring pages, a quiz, a word search and crosswords.
Make a Recipe Book
Compile a family recipe book with favourite recipes from your childhood, your family’s, and recipes from the ‘old country’.
Let your children put together a visual timeline or collage on PicMonkey, Pixlar or Canva. Upload the photos for them to choose from, so all they have to do is put it all together and experiment with the different display options. Print off the final result and mount onto card.
Create Your Own Coat of Arms
Draw up a shield shape and draw dividing lines for 6 places to draw. In each, let your children put 6 things that are important to them: Family? Friends? A special hobby? A character trait displayed?
Create a Word Search
Create a word search of relevant names and places for your child to solve.
My Favourite Things
Create a word art poster, filled with your favourite things. You could include favourite colour, food, places, people, books, hobbies, music and art.
Make an Old Letter
Start with a plain piece of paper, and ‘age’ it using charcoal or cold tea or coffee to give a stained affect. Research how people used to write (choose a time period) and use a fountain pen or an ink and quill. You may like to find some writing online on how the characters were written. For younger children, this is a great way to practice their cursive writing.
I’ve recently had the opportunity to write for my friend Jacque at ‘Whole Family Strong’. I instantly connected to Jacque’s worldview when I first started reading her site. She has a heart for simple and intentional living, and for living out wellness and wholeness faithfully as a family (make sure you check out her paleo recipes). I love how Jacque wants to see other families living in fullness also – her website displays these words ‘Spiritually Strong, Physically Strong, Family Strong’.
EMBRACING THE SEASON
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every
activity under the heavens”. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Life is full of seasons and rhythms, and ebbs and flows.
“There are seasons of waiting, of action, of preparation, of joy, of visible ministry, and of quiet and unnoticed acts of service. And then there is time of the faithful, and (immediately) unrewarded ministry in the home. Every season provides opportunity to grow and mature, and every season has a purpose to walk into a greater understanding and revelation of the character and nature of our Creator.”…
“Christian Parenting is a journey. The destination is clear – raising godly children – but the roads to get there are not always clearly marked. We have God’s perfect road map, the Bible, but He has not taken a divine highlighter pen and marked the single route that leads to where we want to go. He expects us to study the course map and chart a wise course to the desired destination” – Clay Clarkson, “Heartfelt Discipline”, WaterBrook Press, 2003 (as quoted in “Educating the WholeHearted Child”, p269)
What better way to end this series than to write a little on how we keep the vision alive in our home according to our uniqueness as parents, and the order we create for our learning environment.
Together my husband and I are committed to homeschool, which is a blessing in itself, and we also have a fantastic support network of like-minded relationships and families who we can share the triumphs and trials with.
Without weighing in on the varying theology of husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers, I’d like to simply offer to you here the strengths that my husband and I both bring to our homeschool, and subsequently to our home.
The Ministry of Fatherhood
Here is a little of the ministry that my husband brings to our family:
A heart after God
Generous with his time and abilities
Leads with his heart
Affirming of our children’s uniqueness
A gentle and kind heart
A humble and faithful servant
An adventurous and fun-filled spirit
A safe place for me to fall
A listening ear and a guiding voice
The Ministry of Motherhood
Here is the ministry that I bring to our family:
A heart after God
A desire to build a home ‘with heart’
A ‘big picture’ perspective
A determined purpose
Creating a safe, nurturing and loving environment for our family
An unbridled ‘fierce’ love for my husband and children
A desire to know God’s design for us
A passion for the story of God told through the generations
A compassion for the lowly of spirit
Keeping It Real
I do clearly want to add, we have our hearts set on the vision the Lord has given us for parenting and for our home. But don’t let me paint a picture of perfection with these words above! Every day we make mistakes. We are in need of God’s grace and mercy, just as our children are. The important thing is to be real and transparent with our children, ask forgiveness from them and from the Lord, and stay committed to working out our relationships with each other.
Keeping It All together
I have kept order in my home with different degrees of success throughout the time I’ve been a mother. The times where things have been going well, have been where I have a plan and my children know the plan and what is expected too. I’ve tried homeschool structures and approaches with greater freedom, and those at the other end of the scale. I’ve come to realise that for our family, we need some shape and order, where it doesn’t restrict learning and life, but where the flow of life within our walls is steady and somewhat predictable.
It doesn’t mean that we have to set a rigid timetable, or that we miss learning opportunities because we’re sticking hard and fast to a schedule. But we’ve more or less found the right balance of flexibility that keeps an atmosphere of peace and we continue to move forward in our learning goals.
Quick Tips On Keeping Order
Here are my top 5 tips for keeping order in the home, which I’m planning to focus on this year:
Plan meals ahead of time, and if you do schoolwork at the meal table, clear everything away for when it’s time to eat.
Keep the mornings free of answering the phone, e-mails and texts, and dedicate that time to learning.
Write up a timetable with blocks of time, and communicate to your children what is happening each day.
Listen to your ‘warning bells’ and that of your children’s, and determine if and when you need to adjust your load to keep peace and stability in your schooling.
Cultivate relationships between siblings if you have more than one child, and set time aside each day for different pairs to spend time one-on-one. Let love be at the foundation of their relationships and not just ‘agreement’. You will be setting them up for life.
There are all manner of reasons why families homeschool, and all manner of different kinds of families. I enjoy the colourful homeschool community in our city, and learn so much from these ladies. Having a support network for your family, and also for you as the homeschooling Mum, is so essential to longevity and refuelling our tanks.
Your support network might be made up of homeschooling families, church or other communities of believers, extended family, and like-minded friends that love you and back your decision to homeschool. Form authentic relationships with others, and sow into one another’s lives.
Finally my friends…
I hope there’s been something in this series that has sparked vision and inspiration in your heart towards your ‘wholehearted’ homeschool this year and beyond.
I encourage you to get “Educating the WholeHearted Child” into your hands, and jump into the river of wisdom and insight from two of the most loved and respected veteran homeschoolers, teachers, and parents you’ll discover anywhere. I’m truly indebted to this couple and hope one day I will get to meet them.
There is no set prescription for success in homeschooling – there is the truth that the Lord is with you, and will honour your faithfulness to dedicate yourself to raising your children to love and serve.
I pray you will catch a vision for wholehearted learning, and find the path that suits your precious family.
Purchase “Educating the WholeHearted Child” from Amazon
NB. These essentials are not laid out in this manner in Clay and Sally’s most excellent book, ‘Educating the WholeHearted Child’ nor are they a summary of the books content. But rather this is what I’ve understood from reading their approach, and have used their words of wisdom and insight to develop our family’s own ‘wholehearted’ approach to our homeschooling.
You might also be interested in the other posts in this series: