Saturday, October 28, 2017

Keeping Your Mind Alive as a Mother (More Thoughts on Mother Culture)

I've sometimes been asked how I find the time to blog. This is an interesting question to me because, compared to other mother-bloggers I have come across, I barely blog at all. Some blog full-time, mother, and homeschool. They are incredible and I could not do that at all. I think I would fall a part! At the very least, my family would!

Perhaps I am naive, but that question also surprises me. For some reason, I just assume that all mothers find time to do things they enjoy or love. Even when I had a newborn and a toddler, I still blogged and read and did other things, like sewing. Sometimes writing would go by the wayside, but at the very least, I have never stopped reading. I couldn't. It's like a lifeline for my brain.

As I prepare to finish a little e-book I have been writing on and off for over a year, I have been pondering more and more about the importance of a mother continuing her education. And as I have read more of Charlotte Mason, the 19th-century educationalist whose philosophy we will loosely follow as we home educate our children, I can see why she established the imperative for all educating mothers the habit of "Mother Culture".

(For more sidenotes on this, see this post here.)

In essence, the blessing of continuing your education as a mother is this: you bless yourself, you bless your family. As you learn new things, as you continue to read, as you continue to be creative, your mind will continue to ripen and grow in knowledge and wisdom. Just like a well-tended garden, you will grow and blossom and thrive as an adult woman in your own right.

This, of course, will overflow into your family life. Your husband will have an engaged and lively wife, one with a spark in her eye.Your children will have an intelligent mother, not a brain-dead one. They will benefit from your growing knowledge and confidence in your ability to continue to educate yourself. I think, especially for homeschooling mothers, this continuing self-education is incredibly important. Though, of course, you will be learning alongside your children, you will be learning ahead of them as well.

So, as I finish up my writing project (keep an eye out for it in the future!), I am thinking of other things that I want to continue to grow in. This year I have been dabbling into watercolour. I think I want to relearn the piano next year. It doesn't matter that I'm no good. It's that I am learning and keeping the brain God has given me alive.

Is there anything you have been thinking of trying, or taking up, or relearning? Don't let time pass and wilt away. Continue your self-education and bless your family in the process.

Monday, October 23, 2017

On Rising Early

My husband's alarm went off just after 5 am. Normally I would either not hear it because I am dead asleep, or I rise out of slumber momentarily only to conk out again. Our kids will be up between 6-6.30am. Tim is off to work around then. I normally don't get up until 7am.

That's been our schedule this year. Before that, when the kidlets were babies, I was up no matter what. I remember Josiah was normally up between 5.30 and 6am, even if he'd been awake a billion times over night. This year has been wonderful. I have caught up on all the sleep I lost.

And getting up at 7am is good. I can get a little lie in. The kids come in once Daddy's gone and we have a nice snuggle (a jabby sort of cuddle, anyway). I feel fairly well-rested. Ready to tackle the day. But for one thing.

Time with the Lord.

The last four years has seen me grasping for time with Him whenever I could and whenever I felt like it, much of the time I didn't. It's been easier this year - the kids just play (loudly) while I have my quiet time. But, as it is, it isn't so quiet. Not that having a quiet space is necessary, but it is lovely. And I love lovely.

It's been a dry time. I know God has been with me and He has fed me more than what I have put in or deserve. He is so good like that. But I'm done with pecking in a desert. I want rich feasting, watered down deep. I'm so ready for that.

In four months, Josiah will be five and we plan to begin "official" homeschooling. Not only do I want to be well-fed for that momentous task, I also want routines already in place. And we have had loose routines these last few years. And this year I have worked hard on having a Bible time with the kids most breakfast mornings. I really want to incorporate a Morning Basket in our homeschool.

So I'm just ready to get up. Even though the kids are early risers and some mornings I may not be by myself at all (like this morning), I'm still wanting to discipline myself to spend that time with God in the morning. It changes everything. Though He is the same toward me whether I have one or not, an intentional, quiet devotional time of Word and prayer changes me.

"Awake my soul, and with the sun; Thy daily stage of duty run: Shake off dull sloth and joyful rise, to pay Thy morning sacrifice." ~ Henry Twells, At Even, When the Sun was Set
And there is nothing like the early dawn. Of birds waking the day and the first reaches of morning light. Before the patter or thump of little ruffled-haired children, a cup of tea and the Word is just so life-giving and soul-edifying. 

So, I want to encourage you. If you have felt the nudges of the Spirit in getting up with the rising of the day to spend time with God, make the first steps to do so. It will bless you so much. But, if you're still in the throes of night-wakings and baby-everything, just press into the Lord whenever you can. He will graciously meet you wherever you are and He is so gentle with those that have young (Isaiah 40:11).

Monday, October 16, 2017

How Not to Grow Weary in Motherhood

"Let us not grow weary in doing good." ~ Galations 6:9
When the kids are particularly difficult - squabbles, bickering, tears, being argumentative, whining - I so easily grow weary in this task. I feel down. Frustrated. And often guilty for when I have failed and have lost my patience with them.

Often, at the end of such a day, I have feelings of wanting to give up because dealing with character issues every five seconds is hard. So hard. I can absolutely see why some parents do, in some respects, give up. There are much easier ways to parent, or really, non-parent children today. Character in children, in such cases, doesn't matter as much.

But character in our kids is a big deal. A huge deal. In fact, more than any other facet of our parenting lives, training our children in character is the most important thing we do each day with them. And when we officially start homeschooling, how their work instructs their character will influence much of what we read, learn, and do.

We want them to trust Jesus and have a real relationship with Him. We want them to be respectful, caring, honouring, empathetic, smart, loving, compassionate. I want them to be truthful - to seek the Truth, and have it work in them. I want them to eternally smart: to see our culture as it really is and weigh it up to what True Reality is like. I want them to have interests and passions, given to God, used to bless others. I want them to prize and cherish family life - their parents and sibling. 

And all this, I know, is done 
"...line upon line, precept upon precept." ~ Isaiah 28:13
This description of parenting stood out to me in Elisabeth Elliot's The Shaping of a Christian Family, a memoir of her own uprbinging. She also used it in her video, A Peaceful Home 1.

Basically, parenting these souls is hard, hard work. And it's done little by little. Day in and day out, moment by moment. This is why is it so wearying. And why it's easy to want to give up. 

But God says, "No". We aren't to give up. We are to press on, in His strength and with His vision set before us. Squabble by squabble, tear upon tear. And, God-willing, one day we can look on our children and see the fruit of all this quiet - and not so quiet - labour and the impact it has had on their hearts and lives. So don't grow weary.