Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wives and Mothers: We Are Part of the Kingdom Battle

Feeling Out of the Battle


There is a great war going on for souls right now. We would be blind not to see that it is so. So many are lost, in pain, and often in complete rejection of God and His love for them in Jesus. A vast amount of our leaders and preachers are under great attack and pressure and, being women with hearts that want to be helpers, we want to do something - anything - to support them. And many of these men are our husbands, brothers, fathers, or even, sons.

Like a scene out of Narnia, there are Christians in our world fighting the good fight on all sorts of platforms - and it feels like we are doing nothing. The eternal battle is "out there" and we're, well, here. In our homes.

It can feel like, as we go about our day-to-day, we are pretty useless in this whole end-of-times battle going on. It feels like folding laundry, correcting a child's attitude and behaviour, or planning another week's worth of meals has nothing to do with all that is going on. We feel like we're secluded, have it easy, or that we have no real use for God at all.

Friends, can I encourage you that this is trick from the enemy that is as old as time? 



Don't Be Tricked!


How easily Satan can distract us, turn our feet away from home, working doubtful thoughts into our hearts. Look at our mother, Eve. It took one question from Satan ("Did God really say...?") to tempt her off the path of life that God had put her on.

When we take our eyes off the path set before us to see what other people are doing for the Lord, it is incredibly easy to become discontent with our lot. We start to seek ways we can be of help outside our own mission field of family life. Or, we simply become distracted from the vision God has given us for our life as a wife and mother, which begins our downward spiral of finding no joy in our daily life.

Can I suggest that the very best thing a wife and mother can do - the most vital thing for future generations - is to love her husband and love her children?


Mother Theresa once said,

"If you want to change the world, go home and love your family."

This woman changed the lives of thousands and impacted the world around her profoundly. Yet, she knew the most important part of being the change in this world is the family. And, at the centre of the family, is the wife and mother: loving, supporting, serving, caring, upholding, urging, edifying, giving endlessly and endlessly.

A Legacy of Feminine History Makers


Jonathan Edwards, the leader of the Great Awakening, said about his wife, Sarah,

"...Give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as I trust is spiritual, and therefore will continue forever..."

The saying that behind every great man is a great woman cannot be untrue: it is deeply and historically true. Whether our husband is a minister, a book keeper, a teacher, a store manager - it is our battle to fight to remain firm behind him, uplifting him in prayer, tenderly caring for his needs, and enjoying his company. 

Abraham Lincoln, he who freed lives from bondage, also said about his mother,

"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."

As a mother, our battle is to win our children's hearts for the Lord. The future of the Kingdom depend, through His soveriegnty, in their hands. It is to be everything we work towards, precept by precept, line upon line. More than education, behaviour, friendships, future jobs - we are pivitol to our children knowing Jesus as the Saviour of their souls.

So, let us not be swayed, nor discouraged, nor beaten from our path. Do not allow ourselves to be made to think that what we do is trivial. Every day we serve our families we win back good on this earth. 

Other people may be called to do good works "out there", but here we are deeply entrenched in this battle for good over evil, right in our very own homes. Let us not forget that, but forge onward. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Fruit That Comes From Slogging Through the Hard Times in Marriage

I've mentioned before that I hate hard times. I doubt I am the only one, though for me, I am sure it is a sort of post-traumatic stress reaction to times in my life that were really, really hard. If I am not careful, I tend to shut down or run away from anything that requires me to face hard things: hard conversations, hard emotions, and hard situations. 

Thankfully, over time and (funnily enough!) through hard times, God has graciously been helping me  to not run for the hills or cut something completely out of my life if things are getting rough. That instinct is still there, but in many ways, the Spirit nudges me forward as I grasp Him with a white-knuckled hold.

This is most evident in my life with my wonderful marriage to my husband, Tim. Ten years down and we have just the best marriage. We are the best of friends. And yet, I can tell you that it has been during the times when we have been, in a way, the worst of enemies that we have forged our marriage into something deeper, richer, barer, and more delightful than it was before.



The "Better or For Worse"

It can be really disheartening when marriage seems like an endless struggle to not get on the wrong side of each other. How can the person we love the most also be the person that rubs us up the wrong way so frequently (and vice versa!)?

And it is overwhelming and awful when, for some reason that God only sees the full picture of, we are plunged into a season of great pain and heartache. There might be a time when we look at our husband and feel the most loneliest person on the planet. How can we be married to our best friend and yet, feel utterly alone and bereft?

At other times, forces outside of marriage buffet us both. Even though we cling to one another, the day-to-day grind amidst the storm sees us struggling to love one another in a way that helps and supports our husband, whilst we ourselves are struggling to stay afloat. 

Is there any fruit to such seasons? 

Is marriage just an endless slog of difficult feelings or times? 

Why did we not take these promised seasons more seriously when we walked rosey-cheeked down the aisle to the best of men we had ever met?

The Key To a Fruitful Marriage During Any Season


"Weeping may endure for the night,
but joy cometh in the morning."
~ Psalm 30:5 (KJV)

When committed to the Lord and when lain at His feet; when a husband and wife face the hard and pain and trials of marriage, I believe that God produces a fruit of godliness and true joy between them. Certainly, by His grace, it has been so in our own marriage.

This doesn't mean that the pain ends or that the trial does not have long-lasting consequences. And it doesn't mean that more trials won't come your way. The feelings that you have about your spouse or the struggle that you have with something will (most likely) not stop overnight. God has never promised a safe marriage to anyone.

(In fact, remember Hosea? God asked him to marry a prostitute to be an image to the Israelites of their unfaithfulness to Him as their God. And Hosea's wife didn't stop being unfaithful. Hosea's pain kept going.)

But...

...When finding joy, contentment, and purpose in God alone (and not your spouse) is your ultimate goal in all things, you will find that God produces fruit in you and your marriage that would never have manifested itself otherwise. 


Furthermore, when pleasing God - in both good times and hard times - matters more to you than your comfort, or happiness, or pleasant feelings, then fulfilling your marriage vow and role as a wife will be easier than doing anything else for your self's sake. 

The hard times - whether daily annoyances to deep bereavement - are God's call for us to lay it all at His feet and anchor ourselves deeper into Him personally so that, the Gospel can manifest itself in our own life, the life of our husband, and the life of our marriage.


What Kind of Fruit Will Come?


Now, when I say that fulfilling your vow as a wife will be 'easier', I'm not saying that loving your husband through betrayal or bankruptcy or a particular vexing sin will be easy. I mean that, by loving God with all that you have above all else, the overflow of that will be more grace, more compassion, more patience, more self-control, more endurance, more faithfulness, and more joy. 

Remember that Fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23)? All trials and tribulations and hardship will produce those wonderful, incredible, Christ-like qualities in your marriage. And even though that doesn't sound as exciting as a Hollywood movie of romance and thrills, the love your husband and yourself will have for each other will be deeper, more wonderful, more thrillingly caring, more mundane-ingly joyful than anything Hollywood could ever come up with.

After ten years of marriage, with some wonderful highs and horrible lows, I would go through each and every single hard moment and season again because of the kind of marriage we have now, through God's grace and kindness.




We had no clue what love was when we made our vows at the alter! And twenty years from now, we will probably think the same of our love right now!

I love what Elisabeth says about offering our marriages (or anything) up to God for His use:


"If we hold tightly to anything given to us unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily 'ours' but only ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes."

Our marriages aren't ours to begin with. They are His, to be used for a witness to this world about Christ and His people. When things are easy or hard, is this your desire? Is this your goal for your marriage? as your husband's wife?

So if you are in a particularly hard time in your marriage right now, press into the Lord. Work on your own heart and your own issues, keeping your eyes on Him for yourself, and leaving your husband in the Lord's hands. No marriage is ever beyond His ability to repair, renew, and redeem if it's offered up to Him. And the fruit that will come will be gloriously good.

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Fine Line of Balance in Parenting: Grace-Based vs. Authorative-Based Parenting

My sweet brother called me for relationship advice today. It was such a blessing on so many levels. When I think back to our childhood years and the tortuous relationship we had - my, how much the Lord has done in us and to us as brother and sister. I'm so thankful that we have such a solid and close relationship today.

As our conversation came to a close, we briefly spoke about our parents and how differently they both parented. Our parents were who they were and God chose them to be our mother and father. And they were very different as parents, in many ways.



Our Different Parents


One parent was very good at being there for us and accepting us in our broken state, with no judgement and lots of grace. Yet, this parent failed at pulling us up when we needed correction and guidance in how to live rightly for God. 

The other parent faithfully prayed and spoke to us about Jesus our whole lives, helping us see what a life of honouring Christ looked like. Yet, this parent struggled with aspects of grace and not coming down too harshly.

And all this got me thinking:


The balance between grace and truth in parenting is such a fine line.



The Fine Line of Grace and Truth


There always seems to be two trends in parenting books on the market.

The first one, grace-based parenting (or gentle parenting) looks lots like my parent who loved us with lots of grace and no judgement. This isn't lenient parenting at all, but a strength that all children need. All little hearts need to know they are known as they are and loved deeply and unconditionally. That's how God loves us, right?

An Example of a Grace-Based Parenting Book


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The second trend is the authorative-based parenting where the parent takes their responsibility for training, correcting, and guiding the child very seriously. One of my parents did this very well and I am so thankful that my moral-compass has always been so solid because of this parenting skill. This isn't authority parenting at all, but a strong position of love and maturity that all children need to grow up well. That's how God loves us, too, isn't it?

An Example of Authorative-Based Parenting Book


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The Pendulum Swing


These two types of parenting are good and needed. They are also both legitimate and right. I would never say one is completely wrong and the other completely right. 

Yet, because we're humans, none of us do either very well. What do I mean by that? I mean that we, as parents, all tend to lean towards one and go at it full-swing. We grab hold of our convictions (usually based upon natural instincts towards our children) and pursue that wholeheartedly.

This isn't completely wrong. We know our children and I believe God gives parents instincts as to how His little heart needs to be loved. All parents and children are divinely matched, in strength and in weakness.

There is no perfect parenting position. Both sides have great strengths and great weaknesses. If we grab hold of one, we may easily manifest the weaknesses in our children. My brother and I know that only too well! It was easy to play one parent against the other and get away with many things!


How Can We Find Balance?


For myself, I know the one I naturally lean towards (authorative-based) and in my weakness, I know I can sometimes come down too harshly. I know, however, that if I lent towards grace-based parenting, I would struggle with coming down too gently. Both are detrimental to my children.

So what do we do? How do we find that balance that draws on the strengths of both sides and minimises the weaknesses?


Simply, we turn to the Bible. 

Truly. It is the perfect parenting Book. The Author (funnily enough) knows exactly how children need to be raised and what their little hearts need best to thrive and grow up beautifully.

God, our own perfect Father, parents with grace and authority. 


He expects obedience to His commands because He knows what true life is and what makes that life thrive. He knows how to discipline us for our good because He knows the future outcome of that discipline: eternity with Him. And the discipline He gives us when we need it is done lavished completely in grace. He is compassionate, gentle, tender, long-suffering, hopeful, loving, and kind. He accepts us as who we are and takes us as we are.



God does not punish us for our sins and I believe, as parents, that we should not punish our children. Jesus bore the punishment and wrath for our sins once and for all. There is still, however, consequences to our sin here on earth and consequences are good tool for discipline.

If you struggle, like I do, of hanging around one end of the parenting see-saw, ask the Lord to bring you back to the balance of the middle. He will. It won't be easy. There will be some wobbly moments but He will hold your hand along the way. I'm not there yet, but I see that I need to get there and need His help desperately.

We will soon remember and act on the truth that godly parenting isn't just grace or discipline, it is both. They marry one another well and will bear wonderful fruit in the lives of our children.

My Favourite Parenting Book


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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Beginner's Summary of Charlotte Mason's Principles of Education

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If you have been a reader-friend for a little while, you would know that I have been getting acquainted and getting a deeper understanding of the Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling. As soon as I began researching education for our wee family at home, it was this philosophy that resonated with me immediately and profoundly. Even after reading the other predominant homeschooling groups, the CM way is the way for us! 

Did you catch the video I made of my Argh! I Don't Know What Kind of Homeschooler I Will Be! moment? See it here!


A few years back I briefly read through Miss Mason's book Home Education. I enjoyed it but my kids were still young preschoolers and so I didn't take too much of it all in. I kept reading loads of blogs. And I also read Catherine Levison's A Charlotte Mason Education (a good brief summary) and fell in love with Susan Schaeffer MacCauley's For the Children's Sake (which I am currently reading through for the third time).


Now that we are homeschooling officially and I believe the Lord has confirmed for me that this is the way He wants us to go for us to have a beautiful, rich, and varied curriculum, it is time for me to dive into Miss Mason's writings head-on. It's exciting! It's daunting! And I wanted to share with you the beautifully true and wise principles she has for the education of children from the early years (0-6 years) to 9-years-old.

Before I begin, I just wanted to remind you that I am just beginning to homeschool and I am a beginner Charlotte Mason-er! This summary is from that perspective only. If you want a more experienced voice, try this "real-life" post from Mom Delights (great blog, by the way), this incredible page of wisdom here, and this wonderful post for the early years from Around the Thicket.


Children Are Born Persons


Miss Mason bases her entire philosophy upon the idea that God has made children people right from birth. They are not blank slates to be written upon or empty buckets to fill. From birth, God has uniquely made each and every child their own person, with their own personality, will, and reason. Their education, therefore, must be grounded on feeding that little person good, noble, pure, and beautiful truths (which she calls 'living ideas').

"The principles of authority on the one hand and obedience on the other, are natural, necessary and fundamental; but these principles are limited by the respect due to the personality of the children, which must not be encroached upon, whether by fear or love, suggestions or influence, or undue play upon any one natural desire."


Children Need Loving Authority


Miss Mason recognised that children are their own people and should not be manipulated by adults. Yet, she fully understood that children have sinful natures and that they need the teaching and guidance of the parent and the teacher to help them grow up in obedience to be adults who can be used by God.

She taught, in this respect, of the two principles: the Way of the Will and the Way of Reason. A child ought to be shown and taught how to from from "I want" to "I will". No-one can be used by God by having a disposition of "I want". As the child matured, she believed that he could be shown how to reason well - that is, to be able to discern truthful ideas and reject those that are wrong. Their education is their learning to take responsibility for this skill so that, as adults, they can choose the right path for life.

A large part both the Will and the Reason training was the careful and deliberate work of the mother in training her children with good habits. Both moral and physical habits were encouraged and Miss Mason had a generous list of habits as guidance. Before formal lessons would begin at age six (she did not recommend any earlier), character/habit training was a key task of the mother. She likened it to laying down the rails so that, as years go by, there would be smoother days for both child and parent.


"There are also two secrets of moral and intellectual self management which should be offered to children [the two ways]...These principles...should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which most of us live at a lower level than we need."



Children Need a Living Education


Miss Mason advocated for children to have a natural learning environment where they could learn freely and in their own element. Contrived, "twaddle"-ised settings would only block and hinder children from receiving nourishing truths and ideas. Instead of dry textbooks or trivialised books ("twadde"), a parent was to give living books - that is, books passionately written by an author on a topic, usually in story form.

Exposed to large amounts of outdoor time (she recommended six hours a day), children should keep nature journals and be part of the world God had created. Artist appreciation, composer study, hymns, handicrafts, copywork, narration, and lots of reading would be the feast of curriculum exposed to young children.

A Living Book Example


Our current Art Appreciation read-aloud


Fundamentally, Miss Mason reminded parents to not separate learning from God. There is no "education time" and then "spirital time". All that is here - physics, sunflowers, language, a good story, beautiful handwriting - is inexplicably tied to God, and children, implicitly sense this within themselves. The educator mustn't block or hinder this relationship between God, His world, and children.

"We should allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and the 'spiritual' life of children; but should teach them that the divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their continual helper in all interest, duties, and joys of life."

A Rich and Generous Feast


I really believe, as I look more and more into this philosophy of education and see examples around the internet of homeschooling families, it really seems to be the most excellent life of learning and living. Gentle and quiet, yet vigorous and deep, the Charlotte Mason way of educating a child will give both parent and student an incredible homeschooling experience.

Despite revolutionising the English education system well over one hundred years ago, the truths she wrote are timeless. The proof is in the thousands of homeschooling families who implement her principles into their goals for family life and a child's learning.

I didn't think that I would ever become a Charlotte Mason "purist". It seemed so much to wrap my head around, especially when I see the incredible curriculum offered at Ambleside Online.com. There is still a long way for me to dive into the depths of her thoughts and advice, and yet I sense myself becoming more and more loyal to her wise experience. More than that, I see the fruit in my children's lives and the love they have for us sitting down together and exploring living ideas in beautiful books made by a living God. How could I put a halt to that?


Are you a Charlotte Mason homeschooler? If not, what do you think about some of her principles of education?


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Rainy Days, Mess & Togetherness: Trials & Joys of Motherhood


An Autumn storm has swept the country, bringing us indoors after many months of very beautiful weather. Mothers with children at home will find it hard corralling all the busy little people indoors. I'm sure there will be forts and tents and messes made throughout many a New Zealand home today.

As for us, we braved the hailing rain and wind to go to the library. We missed our last weekly trip on Friday, so I thought today was as good as any. Twenty-something books later, we arrived home and hunkered down. Slippers, hot water bottles, steaming cups of Milo. And lots to read and Lego to play with.

It is tempting today, a 'school day', to do our normal morning routine: Morning Basket and then Table Work. Only an hour or less, but focused learning all the same. But the beautiful and wonderfully freeing reality of homeschooling is that learning happens all the time and some days that kind of learning will look different.



How did 'school' look like today?

Today we watched hail slam the ground and the kids gathered handfuls up and ate it. We read books like Willy's Stories by Anthony Browne, learning that books are gateways to new worlds. We listened to Viking Tails on a CD, so now there are dozens of Viking tools lying about made by Lego. Colouring was done at the kitchen table. 

And the very best thing about it all, and something that can't really be recorded in a planner to tick-off or be identified as part of curriculum, is this: we did it all together.

Togetherness is the very best part of home educating one's children. It is the hardest part of it all and I feel it most days. But the very best things in life - those that give us the most joy and push us deeper into companionship with our Heavenly Father - are the hard things.


I'm not sure about you but I, certainly, rebel against hard things. When the kids squabble or come down sick or I'm having to correct a behaviour for the eleventh time in the day - I allow myself to get down so easily. So when I talk about our day today and it sounds wonderful - it is wonderful! But, it is also hard, and I am fighting for the rest Jesus promises continually, for His peace and His patience. It is a moment-by-moment, all day battle.

What always keeps me focused on the path the Lord has so kindly put us on is this:
"Thus says the LORD: 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.'" Jeremiah 6:16

Our world today has forgotten this truth and always want to take the easy way out. I, in my own fleshly nature, want to always take the easy way out (like, yelling instead of talking calmly in my frustration). But as Christians we need to seek the Lord's ways, the ancient paths, for both our daily life's purpose and the hidden heart that God seeks to mold above all else. 

Those paths are often rocky, perilous, but well-trodden by saints before us. They are trustworthy paths and He is always with us... On easy, carefree days with the growing gang and on the harder, more trying days.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

// Life Lately //

I'm so sorry the blog has been so quiet of late. (Though I have made a few vlogs, which has been fun. But I am definitely a blogger at heart! 💗) I never want to force myself to write because it is something I have to do to keep my "audience". From the very start, I wanted to have readers who wanted to be here - not because my blog was some sort of media machine, but because God was using me to encourage and relate to. I love my readers - y'all are so faithful and kind. Thanks for putting up with my sporadic absences!



So I thought for this post, just to get back into the swing of things, I would just chat about things that have been happening in our life recently. Maybe grab a cuppa? (By the way, I now drink coffee most mornings! I know! 😮)

I Hate to Say It, But...

We are just so busy at the moment. I know, it's the last thing I want for our family - especially for the children and myself. Tim is often busy because of work (which is unavoidable), but I have always tried to cultivate a simple, quiet lifestyle for the children and I. 

Some of the reasons we are busy are genuine, and for others, I haven't been disciplined enough over our schedule. It is very easy to say 'yes' - the offer may be fun, or educational, or just a good time out. But I find that the more I say 'yes' the faster and more chaotic life gets. So I am really going to have to rein in our weeks an say 'no' more, even though it is hard and I hate disappointing people.

More Posts On Slow, Simple Living


New Priorities

Another reason that we have been busier - and why I need to be more disciplined in our schedule - is because we are now homeschooling Josiah. He is a big five-year-old and is absolutely ready (and thriving) on our daily lessons. 

We are still finding our feet and, if you watched this vlog, you know that I sometimes find it hard not being 100% sure of what we're doing and where we going. I am really having to pray most days about our homeschool, asking God to guide us and make His will for us clear.

Certainly since I made the vlog, I feel more certain about different things. God reminded me that we're homeschooling for our own family, and we are to do things that work for us at whichever season of life we are in. (For those interested, I still just love and lean into Charlotte Mason!)

I loved this short and encouraging e-book by Karen DeBeus:

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We Might Be Going to England - For a Year...

We are so close to being sure we are heading to England for a year this August. My husband has applied and been accepted into the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA), we just need to find out if he is also accepted into the Certificate of Theology at Oxford University (!). Tim needs to do both to complete the year for OCCA.

This is very exciting and also slightly nerve-wracking. If we are to go (hopefully we will find out this month) we have to apply for visas, passports, raise the money required (courses, flights, living), and get our own home sorted. In less than four months! Yikes! But we believe that God is leading us in this direction and trust Him to provide and lead the way if it is His will. When we know if we are going or not, I will share more about our hopes and plans for the year ahead. 

If you want to see our day-to-day life, come over to Instagram where I post as much as possible.


So, that's life lately. How are you? What have you been up to this Autumn/Spring?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

I Made a Vlog...?!


Yes, I did. I know! What am I thinking?!

Truly, I have no idea what I am doing, but it was something that would not leave my head and, having some time on my hands on my own, I thought, "Why not?" So I set up The Wholehearted Home on YouTube.

This is so scary for me and I really have no idea what I am doing! I'm such an introvert and cringe when I hear my voice! 😅 But I have so been enjoying watching other vloggers sharing their faith and lives that I want to have a go, too.

So I would love it if you watched my intro below, then head over to my new channel (!) and let me know what you think :D


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

My Son is Five (Why I Am So Thankful For Time)


Our Boy

At 8.19pm on the 2nd March, 2013 our son, Josiah, was born into this world. Pudgy, wiggly, and beautiful - he's been a joy right from the start. "He's an old soul," my midwife told me, cradling him in her arms, his little blue/black eyes staring back at her. I loved him deeply. 

He was the child we would not have had if we had not lost our two previous pregnancies. He was such an answer to prayer after many heart-longing pleadings. His name was the direct result of a very vivid dream I had, totally changing the name we had thought we had chosen.

He thrust me into the depths of motherhood full on and all the sacrifices it requires in those early days: sleep deprivation, confusion, desparate midnight-hour Googling to find the answer to a million pressing problems. Despite being waist-deep in pits of anxiety, I fiercely fought through it to give him what he needed.

Warrior. Tender-hearted. Competitive. Funny. Goofy. Gentle. Clever. He's our first born boy and he just turned five. 

How We Could Be Living

Five! It is amazing how quickly the years have passed. The saying really is true that the days are long, but the years are short.

And this is what I really want to share with you today, something that has been on my heart these last few weeks, something that I really am thankful to the Lord for...
I am so grateful for time. That is one of the key blessings of homeschooling children.
According to our culture's status quo, now that Josiah is five, that's it - he  doesn't need to be at home anymore. He's "old enough" to start becoming independent from family life and parental care. Parents matter, of course, but it's time that there are other people having more influence on his mind, his heart, his will.

If we had not been led to homeschool our children, that's it. Our time with him - and his time to just be a kid - done. A mother said to me today, "It feels so unnatural to send my kid away for six hours a day" (she isn't homeschooling...yet). Over twenty-five hours a week away from home. School children spend more of their waking hours with their peers and their teachers.

I sit here and feel really sad. Somehow, that just doesn't seem logical. Or a good idea. Or right.

What We Have Instead

I'm so thankful, therefore, that these school days for our son are not in a separate life that we, as his parents, have little part in. I'm so thankful that I'm with him as he learns to read, as he discovers something new that he is so interested in, as we explore the world - together.

Since five is little and really does not require all that much "school", we really only spend 45mins - 1 hour on our learning each morning. Then, the rest of the day, we are free to continue doing life together that we have been doing since he (and his little sister) have been born.


Do You Want That Too?

So I just really want to encourage you if you have been considering homeschooling but haven't quite taken the plunge...

I am so new to this and there are definitely sacrifices to make (though, in some ways, they don't feel much like sacrifices at all) - but the joy, the blessing, the gift, and the wonder of giving your child breathing space to be the unique person God has made them to be, and to be there with them, it's an incredible honour and privilige.

And, from mothers who have gone before me, whom I have spoken to or have read from, they all say this one thing: they have never, ever regretted keeping their kids at home. Homeschooling has it's hard moments, but it is just so worth it. There is so much freedom in this lifestyle.

We're free to go to the beach at 1pm and play in the early Autumn water.

We're free to play Lego for two hours, following instructions to make a robot.

We're free to follow whatever interests him right now (World War II and the Titanic) and find different ways to expand his interest further.

We're free to follow rabbit holes.

We're free to just chill on the couch, read books, play with a friend, or watch Magic School Bus.

Freedom and time. 

The best possible combination for learning, growing, and maturing. And as a mother, what other priority could I have as I steward these children?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Our Plans for Homeschool - Kindergarten (Term 1, 2018)


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Before I Begin

Can I just share with you that I have no idea what I am doing? Truly 😲

Even though I have been reading, and reading, and reading about everything homeschool for the past three years...

...have scoured through every possible curriculum that sparked an interest and changed my mind on as many as I have read...

...and have thought so much about why we are doing this and what I hope our homeschool life will look like...

...In reality, I just have no idea. I am just beginning and really am just leaning on the Lord to guide us, change our direction, reveal His will for these children of His.

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

So even though these are my "plans" (and even then, I hold that term so loosely), and I believe God has directed me to come up with these goals for our kids, I know so well that we won't do this all, nor in the order or way I have written. Perhaps it will all go according to plan! But I am holding these ideas with an open hand because, like I said, I have no idea what I am doing.

You Homeschooling Mamas Rock, Thank You!

That being said, in my preparation for this year (our first homeschooling year), I have found the posts of other blogger homeschooling mothers on curriculum and how they plan their days so incredibly helpful. In fact, blogging homeschooling mothers are a blessing. I love the internet!

I can't imagine what it was like when no-one else homeschooled, and if they did, they lived in a different state or country so, the day-by-day and year-by-year mother's were doing this totally on their own...(Well, physically on their own, God had their backs). I can't imagine how hard that would have been.

So cheers to you, pioneer homeschooling mum's.

And, thank you, blogging homeschooling mum's - for sharing your lives, plans, failures, and successes. You pave the way for the rest of us!

The Philosophy Shaping Our Plans

If you have followed my blog for some length of time, you will know that out of all the home educating philosophies out there, the one that is most dear to my heart is the Charlotte Mason method.
The Charlotte Mason method really is very beautiful and to me, offers such a rich, well-rounded education for children that will spark their excitement for the world God has made, as well as feed them intelligent, worthy, and nourishing ideas and ideals.
A good summary is here and I found this one implementing CM for preschool years the best here. (There is also more on my Pinterest board for CM.)

That being said, I won't be a Charlotte Mason-purist. If I ever get that way, it will be far down the track.

Baby steps.

And the four main baby CM steps I am relying on in these early years are these:

1. Living Books
2. A Feast of Ideas (both planned and interest-led)
3. Nature Rich
4. Rooted in Faith-Based Resources

Briefly, we will use an enormous amount of books. Twaddle-free books (that is, not dumbed-down textbooks or stories), but living books - stories that bring history, a person's life, or a topic alive and breathing. In this way, the knowledge that our children will be growing on will be rich and meaty.

We will also offer them many subject forms, as Charlotte Mason said to give them a vast array. Their learning will really be feast-like. Putting them in touch with nature and God's creation will be a priority, both in getting into it and helping them observe it.

Tying this all up to deep stakes in their soul's will be putting them in touch with Him who made them and Whom they belong to - by His Word, by His World, by His Will.

This is the goal of my heart and hands for these two children.




Curriculum Plans

So what are we doing this term? 😀

Core:

Language Arts: Reading Eggs and Reading Eggs supplement workbooks
Handwriting: Copywork
Math: Math For a Living Education Level 1
Lots of pre-readers, picture books, read alouds (eg. Beatrix Potter)

Faith:

Memory Verse: "Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture." Psalm 100:3
Bible: Reading through this children's Bible book
Theology: Leading Little Ones to God
Hymn: "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

Enrichments:

Science: Sonlight K (not all, very basic implementation)
Geography/History: Interest-led (so far, really into the Titanic and World War II)
Artist Study: Claude Monet
Rhymes: Goosey Goosey Gander, Humpty Dumpty
Nature Study: Walks and journaling
Swimming lessons

I think in a few weeks I will write a post on how our mornings go and what we do with each of the parts. I'm very happy with what we are doing, I am still working out the how. We definitely do a lot of things with our Morning Basket (best explanation here), and I see that as our core time together before we move on to one-on-one time. Maybe I will write a post on our Morning Basket since we spend so much time each morning on it.

So here are our plans for this term. What are some things you are doing for your homeschool this term? Do you have a favourite?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Work of a Mother's Heart: Why We Don't Have to Wait Decades to See Fruit



 All quotes from The Autobiography of George Muller (affiliate link)

"It appears to me that believer's generally have expected far too little present fruit from their labors among children. They hope that the Lord will some day confirm their instruction and answer the prayers which they offer up on the children's behalf." 

That has been me. I don't know where the thought process came from but, somewhere from the beginning of motherhood, I have had the impression that the fruit of a mother's hands can only be evident after many years. And my experience feels this to be true, as well. The days are long (as the saying goes)...

Yet, when I read these words from George Muller - the man who cared for thousands of orphans in the 19th Century purely by the provision of the Lord - my heart was struck. It never occurred to me that any lack of fruit I might see in my children may be because my expectation for their soul's was too little. (By the fruit of her hand's, I mean the work a mother does to lead her children to a blossoming knowledge and relationship with God.) 

When I examined my heart, I saw that yes, my expectations are too small. Primarily, those hopes I have for my children are for the distant future and not for the present time. My heart is set on "some day" and so my prayer's for them have been based on that belief.

"The Bible assures us that in everything we do for the Lord, including bringing up children in the fear of the Lord, our labor is not in vain. We have to guard against thinking that it does not matter whether we see present fruit or not."

Perhaps it is a tool of Satan, getting Christian mothers to believe all the days of hard work - correcting, guiding, disciplining, admonishing, and exhorting - is in vain for the present time. How easy it is to discourage and dishearten a mother! Just whisper to her tired heart to not to bother...that all these labour's for her child's soul doesn't matter...that the current behaviour of the child will be this way for many years to come... 

I have so been that downtrodden mother. My prayers, my heart, my work seems to fall upon empty, childish ears. The behaviour that we have been working on is still being displayed! Where have I gone wrong? What is the use?

But friends, we cannot let the Enemy win us with falsehood and distraction. These kind of thoughts do not come from the Word. God is hope - always! As George Muller says, we need to guard against this kind of thinking. We must take those kind of thought captive and nail them to the Cross. The condition of our children's souls depends on our victory in this battle.

"On the contrary, we should give the Lord no rest until we see fruit. Therefore, in persevering yet submissive prayer, we should make our requests known to God."

How daring and courageous a Christian mother must be for her children. She must storm the very throne-room of God with prayers and requests for their hearts and souls. And, as George Muller believes, she musn't stop until she sees fruit in their life. 

She must not do this arrogantly or in a demanding way. Rather, she is to be "persevering yet submissive"; that is, "Please, Lord, if it be Your will, bring my son into salvation..." or "Please, Lord, help my daughter to see that lying is wrong, convict her heart, if it is your will..."

Let us be courageous and not give up. Let us not wait for an unseen future for the fruit of our many labour's. Instead, let us battle in prayer for our children and believe that God will answer our prayers for our children, according to His will. We know He will answer because, ultimately, they are His children more than they will ever be ours.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Celebrating 10 Years (My Favourite Books For Wives)


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In the last few weeks, my darling husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage. A decade! It feels amazing and certainly feels like an accomplishment. I am so grateful to God for all that He has done for us, in us, and through us - in all honesty, we would not be here today without Him. His mercy, grace, sovereignty, and the saving truth of the Gospel are why our marriage exists - and why it is stronger than ever!

I certainly have grown a lot as a wife in the last ten years. I've gone through some deep learning curves for myself as a wife to Tim and as a wife for him. God's Word is the primary source for the change in me - it is really all we need for this life. Yet, through the gifting of people, many books have blessed me as I have sought to grow in our marriage. 

As a way to celebrate our 10 years, here are my favourite ten books for Christian wives (in no particular order).

Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot

This may have been the most transforming book I have ever read. Soft, eloquent, intelligent, enlightening - Elisabeth brings the reader closer to the heart of God for women than anything else I have read. Written in short chapters as a letter to her daughter, Valerie, on the eve of her marriage. So beautiful and wonderful, theologically rich.

When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey

I always say that this book saved our marriage. Three years in we were on the brink of collapse. I read this book with nothing to lose, and it changed me - deeply. "There are no 'marriage' problems, only sin problems." Dave Harvey challenges the reader to look to themselves before they blame or accuse their spouse, no matter the issue (and even if the spouse is in the wrong). This put the Cross centre in my heart for my husband and myself.


My wonderful mother-in-law credits this book to helping her understand the biblical theology surrounding marriage, especially submission. It did the same for me and also helped me understand more of the curse of Eve we all have in us as women. If you want to go deeper into the Word and understand it more to change your life, I so recommend this.

Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Wolgemoth)

This book is great for unraveling the lies girls grow up with in their hearts that they believes are truth. Nancy shoots each lie down with Gospel truth, stories, and encouragement. Issues range from beauty, submission, to raising children. Very easy to read and great to give to uncertain women (as it isn't too heavy).

Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow

Linda is a long-time wife and has learned the different ways to love a man well. As a ministry wife and mother, Linda knows how to manage caring for a husband, raise children, and deal with living in a fish-bowl for a life. I really learned about setting boundaries for family life through her.


Though not a marriage book, this book has been vital for me as a wife. Every single person will go through suffering and trials, and a marriage is no different. Sometimes in a marriage, conflict and walls can be so big that only God knows, understands, and listens. Trusting Him when a marriage is difficult and painful is so necessary, so I include this book because it is foundational for a wife and her trust in His sovereignty in her life and her husband's life.

Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

This was one of the first books I ever read as a young twenty-one-year-old wife. Carolyn uses the older woman teaching of Titus 2 as the framework for her book, and she goes through each part to encourage and challenge. Her blog, Girl Talk, with her daughters were very key for me in the early years.

Radical Womanhood by Carolyn Maculley

If you are wanting to know more about how feminism began and how it has changed marriage and the home, this book is excellent. A girl growing up in the boom of early feminism (and was a feminist herself), Carolyn authentically bares open the lies our culture has believed and how that has impacted every day women who want to be wives and mothers. 

The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace

This is the most comprehensive book for Christian wives. It is drenched in Scripture and goes through the Bible's expectations for a wife, including her own personal walk with the Lord and what a wife should do when her husband fails her. Martha came from a non-Christian background, workaholic, and very anxious so the testimony she has of a transformed heart is amazing.

Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes

This is a companion to her husband's book for men (and they have both written one by the same titles for families) and addresses every aspect of a woman's life, from her walk with God, her singleness, her marriage, her motherhood, and her home. This is my favourite all-encompassing book for wives and is more rounded, as well as deeper, than Feminine Appeal and Creative Counterpart (though they stand strong on their own, anyway).

***

So there you have it. All these books have challenged me, encouraged me, changed me, brought me closer to the Lord, softened and deepened my heart for my husband, nurtured my desire for being an excellent woman, and for equipping me with intelligent cultural understanding and biblical knowledge for a wife in today's world.

If you read any of these books because of this post, I pray the Lord uses them in your life as much as He has in my own life!