Tuesday Singing School

At our weekly homeschool co op meeting, I get to lead a short time of singing school at the beginning of the day. Last year, I got to teach Singing School as a 50-minute class every week to the kids in 2nd-6th grades. It was so much fun, and I loved watching the kids grow in their diligence, skill, understanding, and confidence. This is the third co op where I have taught Singing School, and it is always fun to bring a new challenge to a group of Christian kids and their mamas. I am never quite sure if what I bring to the table is what they expect… but they had to know what was coming at them because I start the first class off by handing out my packet of vision, resources, information, and selected songs. It’s probably a bit much at the getgo… but people adapt and grow to love it. It’s music, it’s God’s word, it’s communal creativity ~ what’s not to love?!

This year, I get ten minutes each week with all the ages – from my little one year old, up through all the mamas. It’s a broad range of skill levels and loves. But I approach it the same way I always approach Singing School: dive in, dig deep. It is worth pushing hard for beautiful music. It is worth prioritizing singing praise to God and making a joyful noise unto Him. It is worth memorizing long texts when they are beautifully composed poetic lyrics or excerpts from Scripture.

I love to teach solfege (do re mi fa sol la ti, etc) and kodaly hand signs (which are hand positions connected to each syllable of solfege), conducting patterns and musical terminology. But more than that, I love simply scooping up the people around me, and gathering them into a piece of music – no strings attached – just sing with me. Let’s simply tune our voices to sing His praise. Let’s combine our individual voices into one sonorous line to bless the ears of our Maker.

I firmly believe that He delights over us. Zephaniah 3 says that He sings over us! How could we not, in His image, sing over Him in return?! Let us shout for joy and be glad, let us rejoice in the days He makes, let us offer to Him a psalm of thanksgiving! And let us exhort one another, teaching each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs while today is yet called today.

It is good to lift our voices.
Let us not grow weary in doing good.
Let us not give up this calling or cower beneath governors who want to shut our mouths.
They need the gospel.
We need to sing.

Today I assigned Psalm 100 (to the familiar tune of the Doxology) as well as a favorite Jamie Soles version of the Kings of Israel. I am hoping that my kids and I can have these two things memorized by the time we go back to co op on December 1st. But the Kings of Israel is quite the tongue twister, so it’s aiming high! ūüėČ
We are also continuing to revisit other songs we have introduced to our co op for memory already this year: The Lord’s Prayer, The Patriarchs, The Books of the Bible, The Ten Commandments, Psalm 8, and Psalm 47.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all ye lands! Amen!

Psalm 100:1-2 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord Postcard | Zazzle.com

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!

2  Serve the LORD with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

3  Know that the LORD, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4  Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5  For the LORD is good;

his steadfast love endures forever,

and his faithfulness to all generations.

monday morning time

If you are bouncing around the internet looking for homeschooling ideas, or if you are a seasoned homeschooler familiar with pillars like Pam Barnhill, Cindy Rollins, or Sarah Mackenzie, “Morning Time” may mean more to you than simply the hours lumped between the ring of the alarm clock & the growling bellies of the lunch hour. Interestingly, when I first read “Mere Motherhood” by Cindy Rollins a couple years ago, I remember finding almost everything in there familiar and comforting rather than startling or groundbreaking. I think that is one of the things I love most about stumbling upon resources online or through friends: I often find that what I am already doing with my kids at home is actually something that people are promoting, theorizing, even monetizing. It’s like I don’t have to second guess myself and my home education methods, but rather find that people are cheering me on and gathering others onto a similar journey. It is extremely comforting and even gratifying. I am not alone. We are doing well. And this thing called home education is not only fruitful in the long haul, but even in the daily grind.

So what is Morning Time? My friend Cindy Rollins would say that it is a time for everyone in the home to gather together and focus on learning true, good, beautiful things that order our loves and remind us that things which can easily be shuffled to the side are actually of greatest prominence. It is a liturgy for beautifying our minds and souls. It reminds us that there is no separation between the sacred and the secular. To read more about what Cindy says, I urge you to read her Handbook to Morning Time (click here for her free PDF), or let me know if you want a bound copy – I happen to know she has some copies in her garage, and I would happily help hook you up with one of those (as long as supply lasts).

Just as our home education is not identical to the home education of anyone else we know, neither is our Morning Time routine. The liturgy we follow in our home reflects the loves, passions, and pursuits of the people who live here. It is the basic backbone of the education we long for & ultimately chase. Cindy says that the practice in her home is made up of several elements: morning meeting, composer study, artist study, prayer time, hymn singing, Bible reading and memorization, Shakespeare and Plutarch, poetry reading and memorization, a quick conversational grammar lesson, and reading aloud. When I spoke with Cindy last week (either over a leisurely cup of coffee while it snowed outside, or later while I drove her to the airport – I forget exactly when), she told me that Morning Time with her family (she educated her eight sons and one daughter over a period of thirty years) would often last for more than two hours. I was so heartened by that! Because I often find that the Morning Time routine in my own home lasts that long, and I had wondered if that were completely abnormal and overkill. But we love it… so I am loathe to cut it short, unless it is a day where we have places to go. Like Wednesdays, when we have piano lessons, ballet lessons, a library run, and other errands to accomplish while we are all the way in town. (Yes, we live in the country… so any time we drive to town over 45 minutes away, we pack it all in: and yes again, it definitely involves audiobooks on the regular.)

So what does Morning Time look like in my home? I have four sons and one daughter, currently ranging in age from 17 months to 12 1/2 years. Morning Time is not often polished and predictable, but I can honestly say it is both ordered and adored.

We gather. Often at the kitchen table, often at the couches by the fire, occasionally on the back patio or the front lawn (seasonally dependent, of course). I have our current Morning Time books and resources compiled in a wheeled metal cart for easy utilization, although a “morning basket” has been popular & efficient for moguls like Pam Barnhill and Dawn Garrett. I just found that we outgrew a basket too quickly… so a cart with wheels serves us best.

The Doxology is sung, and we sing with gusto. In harmony. With open hands raised to our Father in heaven. It is a favorite moment of every day. A beloved practice.

We tend to then start with Scripture. We read a Psalm, a Proverb, and another selection from whatever book we are currently reading through. At this moment, it is 1 Samuel. We read through the Pentateuch earlier this year, and have been revisiting it again as we study ancient history with our local homeschool co op. So I thought the kids would like a New Testament letter from Paul or something, but they requested Samuel. So that’s where we are reading currently. The children all take turns reading aloud together, but it helps if each child has a Bible of their own on their lap so their eyes can follow along and help keep their attention focused. We are learning the habit of attention, and that’s one reason I start with Scripture. Eventually, kids get squirrelly, so we want to give highest attention to that which we find most important.
We don’t do too much of a formal study at this point. We have used study books in the past, or used formal discussion questions. My kids are very curious and conversational by nature, so we most often simply talk about what stands out to us, how we can learn from what we have read, what challenges us, or what we love about it.
The kids and I also then each do a little Scripture copywork in our journals. Sometimes the selection I choose is the same for each of us: sometimes it is shorter for the kindergartener and longer for the older kids, and an entire chapter for myself. It generally takes 5-8 minutes, I think. I love to have music playing quietly while we do this.

Then we move on with more singing. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Our favorite resources are the Cantus Christi hymnal from Canon Press, the Cantica Sanctorum also from Canon Press, Then Sings My Soul, the Hosanna student hymnal, and Jamie Soles songs. I happen to have a degree in music, and my kids have followed in the footsteps of their parents with love of singing to the Lord as well as a practiced habit of growing this skill. They’ve got talent. But even if they thought they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, singing would still be paramount in our family life, our educational pursuits, and our liturgy of Morning Time. It is a cornerstone for us.
We participate in HappyHymnody‘s monthly hymn, and love memorizing along with friends all over the place. We also choose a monthly Psalm, and share it at SacredPsalmody. Then I lead music at our homeschool co op each week, so we practice those songs during Morning Time at home. And the kids like to request good old favorites in rotation. They especially love to sing in four part harmony, and often choose things with difficult, contrasting lines.

We then have prayer – sometimes it involves us all taking turns, sometimes it is one of us leading in using an Every Moment Holy liturgy, sometimes it is based on a psalm, sometimes it is me praying over my children even feeling like I’m about to lose it at the end of my wits. We have a little jar of popsicle sticks on which we have written all kinds of prayer requests and prompts, and the children love to draw sticks from that for prayer time. This can last anywhere from two to ten minutes.

We usually sing the Gloria Patri at this point. Again in harmony, quite loud, with hands raised and open.

We work through each child’s catechism, doing about five minutes per child. They try to listen to one another and practice the skill of listening, the art of attention, the habit of encouragement. But it’s tricky sometimes, because by this point we’ve lost the toddler and the kindergartner has gotten squirrelly, and even the big kids start getting giggly. In my family, we start each child with a Small Child’s Catechism, and once they have mastered all fifty of those Q&A, they move on to learning the Westminster Shorter for Children. After they can recite all 145 of those answers (which takes a solid fifteen minutes in succession), they begin with the New City catechism. I am not sure yet what we will learn after that… my two oldest kids and I are not yet through that one! We continue working and growing together in faith and practice.

Then we continue to work on memory, usually reciting & adding to a Scripture memory. Last year we memorized the entirety of Psalm 103. This year we are working on Proverbs 2. It is so difficult for me to memorize such long portions without having it set to music! I am seeking to learn and grow.
Then each child has a turn to recite one or two poems. Sometimes we simply read poetry to one another (Sing a Song of Seasons, Favorite Poems Old and New, 100 Best Poems, Poetry for Young People), always we recite for one another. Practicing speaking in front of others, and growing in the art of elocution, is hugely important to us.
At this point we will review any memory work from co op, Sunday school, or other resource as well.

When we are currently doing an art study, composer study, or Shakespeare study, we will include it now. Last year, we focused on geography (loving the Mapping the World with Art resource!), and loved including Geography Songs here as well. This year, we are doing ancient history, so often review readings, videos, poetry, or timeline for that.

We close our Morning Time then with reading aloud and art. Sometimes art is very specific, sometimes it is free for the children to choose. They do complicated dot to dot or sticker art sometimes. They use how-to-draw books and fill lots of sketchbooks with exquisite drawings. Occasionally they watercolor or use colored pencils in a variety of coloring books.

We tend to get most of our reading recommendations from my friends Sarah and Betsy at ReadAloud Revival and Redeemed Reader. I can vouch for both resources. We have relied on their reviews and lists of suggestions for years, and have probably only had three duds ever. If you had any idea how many books the kids and I go through on a regular basis (more than fifty large books, and absolutely countless hundreds of picture books), you would realize how excellent a ratio that is. We have five library cards and a few audiobook accounts… and a quite large home library in walls lined in bookcases upstairs in our schoolroom, built-in cases in the family room, and shelves for each child in their bedrooms for easiest storage & access. We are proud bibliophiles, and have the collection to prove it.

On an average day, I think I spend 1-3 hours reading aloud to my children. But it varies that vastly, depending on whether we are out and about, or how much co op homework we have, or what the weather is like. When I was on bedrest or during the worst of the covid-19 lockdowns, it was at least 3 hours a day… and we loved it to pieces. Those are our favorite days.

And I think that is what I am circling back round to now: the fact that Morning Time is our favorite thing. If we don’t do anything else to redeem a day, Morning Time (even in a shortened, bare bones version) brings beauty, form, liturgy, truth, and goodness to our day. It forces us to practice habits of recitation, attention, listening, learning, spiritual graces, practical skill. It brings joy to our home. It knits our family culture.

I would love to share more Morning Time snippets here on the blog. And I would love to read about your own experiences and explore your favorite resources as well. Please share!

~~~~~~

11.16.20 Morning Time Selections

Doxology

SCRIPTURE READINGS
Psalm 119:105-128
Proverbs 8
1 Samuel 26

SONG SELECTIONS
Psalm 8
Psalm 47
Psalm 70
A Mighty Fortress
For the Beauty of the Earth

Gloria Patri

POETRY
A Walking Song by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Weight of Wonder by Ben Palpant
We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Creation by Joseph Carlson
Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Bud of Joy by Amy Carmichael
Yellow by Olive Dove
David by Joseph Carlson

READ-ALOUDS
Radiant by Richard Hannula
Pages of History, Vol. 1 by Bruce Etter
Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris by R.L. LaFevers

Sacred Psalmody 2020

God is so kind to require our praise in song, and then to mercifully act in His kindness to make it an absolutely delightful practice! What a good Father. I realize that I may have a little edge on this perspective, because I was raised singing Scripture and other spiritual songs basically from infancy. Some of my dearest, earliest memories are from singing with my father at bedtime, accompanied by his strummed guitar. He put verses to music to help me hide the Word in my heart from my youngest days. I truly believe this is one of the most effective ways my parents walked me into the Christian life of faith, and effectively engaged my heart and mind in the things of the Lord while He graciously granted me the gift of never knowing a time without calling on His name.

I became a pianist shortly after my early introduction to being a singer, and was a church accompanist by the time I was a teenager. I have accompanied in CREC, Anglican, and PCA churches. When I attended Whitworth University, I wanted to get my Bachelor’s in accompaniment but they didn’t have that focus at the time. Although I was bummed, I did get a general music BA with an emphasis on church music, and a minor in theology, using voice as my instrument and choir as my main focus. There was nothing like it – I was only there for two years, having spent three years prior at a lovely community college – and I fondly look at that time at Whitworth as a season of foundational both musical and spiritual growth for me.

Since becoming a homeschooling mama, I have been essentially grooming and growing my own little chorale. When God took me through the years of multiple miscarriages, our wandering in the wilderness of struggling to grow our family, one of my big heartbreaks was the idea that I would not have children filling my home with music. Oh! how the Lord laughs, and how I laugh with Him! for my Lord has fulfilled that desire now to overflowing! It brings tears to my eyes. (And more than an occasional headache or need for ear plugs.) Honestly though, there is almost nothing that brings more joy to my heart than hearing the voices of my children united in the joyful noise of praising the King.

In addition to singing every day in our Morning Time routine here at home, I have also had the blessing of teaching Singing School to three different local Christian homeschooling co ops. I love to bring others along with us in our journey of singing praise to God, including (especially!) the Psalms.

I do not subscribe to the idea of sole psalmody in worship as do some good brothers and sisters in Christ, but I do deeply believe we ought to sing Psalms. We ought to know them and love them and work hard to deepen our knowledge of their wisdom and theology and singability.

My children and I have the goal to learn at least one sung/chanted version of each of the 150 Psalms before our home education days together are ended. My oldest child is already in seventh grade, so I have some motivation to quicken the pace. If we were to memorize one Psalm a month, it would take over twelve years to accomplish that goal. So it is more than a little lofty. Praise the Lord, I still have a toddler, and have many years for growing and singing and educating left ahead of me.

Please allow me now to share with you the Psalms we chose to memorize for the year 2020.

January ~ Psalm 117 ~ text: KJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
February ~ Psalm 121 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
March ~ Psalm 23 ~ text: Henry W. Baker; music: Old Irish melody, St. Columba; source: Cantus Christi
April ~ Psalm 34 ~ text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: John Wainwright, Yorkshire; source: Cantus Christi
May ~ Psalm 122 ~ text: Tate & Brady; music: William Tans, Colchester; source: Cantus Christi
June ~ Psalm 98 ~ text: text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: Thomas Jarman, Desert; source: Cantus Christi
July ~ Psalm 148 ~ text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: Horatio Palmer, St. Catherine’s; source: Cantus Christi
August ~ Psalm 63 ~ text: Psalter of 1912; music: Thomas Tallis, Third Mode Melody; source: Cantus Christi
September ~ Psalm 111 ~ text: NKJV; music: Gustav Holst, David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
October ~ Psalm 103 ~ text: Johann Gramann, Catherine Winkworth; music: Johann Kugelmann, Heinrich Schutz; source: Cantus Christi
November ~ Psalm 70 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantus Christi
December ~ Psalm 130 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantus Christi

Pursuing Paideia through Song

One of the main ways I personally love to pursue the paideia of the Lord here in our home with my children is through the reading, singing, and memorization of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. To help encourage myself to be diligent in this way, I started a little Instagram page called @sacredpsalmody this year to document the Psalms my kids and I are memorizing each month. I hope to connect Sacred Psalmody here at Joyful Domesticity through a category or tag to make it easy to reference each month’s Psalm. For a couple of years, we have used @happyhymnody to memorize one hymn per month along with many friends. It was my dear friend Elizabeth, who now lives seven hours away, who first introduced me to the wonderful work April does at Happy Hymnody, and I am so grateful. I love knowing that we are memorizing texts and tunes along with those closest to our hearts, even though we are physically distanced from one another. When we do see each other, we can sing together from memory, encouraging and exhorting one another through song for God’s glory.

In our home, we try to start our day with Morning Time (similar to things you might learn from Cindy Rollins or Pam Barnhill), and a main component of this is our singing. My children love singing, harmonizing, memorizing – I literally can’t keep the number of songs below six each day, even when I am trying to do a “short version” of our Morning Time routine. We do the Doxology and the Lord’s Prayer regularly, sometimes a sung version of a creed, at least one or two psalms, at least two hymns, and possibly some other non-spiritual song of some sort (last year we sang lots of Geography Songs and this year we are doing some Ancient/Bible History songs). What a gift to raise our voices together!

Honestly, sometimes I need to preach to myself that IT IS A GIFT. Because these kids would sing at the top of their lungs all day long if their mama would let them. What about yours? I would love to know what songs, psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, and non-spiritual educational or folk songs you love to sing in your home.

What kind of soundtracks do you like to play in the house or while on the road? We love to have JJ Heller, Andrew Peterson, Slugs & Bugs, or Jamie Soles playing on the cd player in the kitchen if there are ever moments where the piano isn’t being played, ukuleles strummed, or voices lifted. Music is central to culture. Cindy Rollins said just recently, in a webinar called Educating the Freeborn, that music is dangerous. And an old pastor friend of ours has long drilled into me that worship is warfare. We must train ourselves in this art, this skill. We must raise the children in our homes to wield this weapon with clarity, creativity, and confidence. We must use music for the pursuit of paideia.

Practical paideia

It‚Äôs amazing how time passes while life happens. As I write this, I am sitting in a field with my four sons, as we wait for our family‚Äôs one sister (smack in the middle of the boys) to emerge from her twice-weekly ballet class. Living out in the country, at least 45 minutes from all the places in town, we have grown accustomed to schooling on the go. While we adore audiobooks on the road, I honestly do not love bringing workbooks and other projects along into car seats and waiting rooms. But at least while the weather holds, we hike or play tag or toss balls instead of keeping our noses incessantly buried in books… which, admittedly, would be the occupation of choice for almost anyone in my home. Even the 16 month old will grab books over toys nine times out of ten.

Which brings me around to mentioning one of the main reasons this blog has gone ignored for an embarrassingly substantial length of time. After over nine weeks of bedrest at home in early 2019 due to a partial placental abruption during my fourteenth pregnancy, I went into labor at 33 weeks. While I have never had easy, uncomplicated, or carefree pregnancies, this one definitely took the cake. After my bedrest was moved to the hospital, my parents stepped up for a solid week of parenting my four kids on their own while my husband stayed at my hospital bedside as I was pumped full of medications to keep our baby boy safely tucked inside. And then with a sudden shudder like a breaking storm, our fifth child was born right at 34 weeks after less than thirty minutes of intense labor. Seth Tyndale was a darling little lump of sugar right from the getgo, but his sweetness was matched by his strength – he only needed breathing assistance for an hour or so. In fact, by the time I was allowed to go join my husband in the NICU with our baby boy, he was already on room air. God was busily answering so many prayers! I spent the next two weeks mostly sitting in an uncomfortable glider beside Seth‚Äôs isolette, holding him tucked inside my shirt for as many hours a day as the nurses would let me. I sang psalms to him, prayed with him, put an earbud next to his head while I listened to sermons or the audio Bible in my Olive Tree app. I was determined that this little boy would never know a day where he wasn‚Äôt bathed in the words and wonder of his King. We made it home from the NICU in only two weeks, which impressed and surprised the medical workers – but we had worked hard around the clock to help Seth make strides toward home, and had hundreds of people praying. When he was eight weeks old, and exactly 7lbs, Seth had eye surgery because he was born with a special (aka complicated) left eye. His little baby blue needed a few things done, including having his lens removed. So until he is old enough to have his lens replaced, he wears a contact lens in that eye! Changing, cleaning, and replacing his itty bitty contact is not my favorite mothering chore – but we are so delighted by God’s kind gift of optical care and medical progress. One of our most frequent family prayers is for God to bless Seth with good sight, and for us to be faithful as we help him learn to live with contacts and glasses from infancy.

And this is where you would have found me for the last 15+ months as well: bathing my children in the things I know are true, good, beautiful. Strewing their days & ways with books, music, food, laughter, lessons, and conversations around blanketed beds or bedecked tables. There have been painful growth spurts and frustrating external circumstances. But when boiled down to its most essential moments and memorable pursuits, it is easy to see that God is the one who has been bathing my home with His truth, abundant goodness, and tangible beauty.

He is the one who is educating all of us, molding us, filling us. I am joyfully humbled by the realization that I am disciple and student and child right beside my five little gingers.

I would like to find a way to carve out moments to share thoughts and experiences here at Joyful Domesticity again. Not because I think I have anything shiny or unique or eloquent to offer. But because I‚Äôm here in the trenches of homeschooling my five kids while seeking to maintain a joyful countenance and a joy-filled home, longing for more moments to fill with my own schole or ways to live out my philosophies of Christian culture… and if you want to share the experiences or join in the conversation, this is the place you‚Äôll find it.

I want to pursue practical paideia and joyful domesticity, and find the beauty in their shared realities. To God be the glory.

Joyful Domesticity’s Summer Reading Challenge, 2019 ~ Book Suggestion Links

Here are some ideas from our own family experiences (mostly thanks to our county library system… although our own personal home library has more of these titles than you might think… haha!) and reading lives to share with you, according to the categories in our Summer Reading Challenge. We have read almost every single title listed below ~ either all the kids (up to age 11), or just some of us. For instance, my big kids don’t love Eric Carle or Alice Schertle anymore, and my littles aren’t quite ready for John Hendrix or J.K. Rowling. Please feel free to share more ideas in the comments if you have favorites for any of these categories!
But most importantly: have fun cultivating a love of story in your home!

 

Goldfish on Vacation by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Books by Sally Lloyd-Jones:
The Jesus Storybook Bible
Found: Psalm 23
Baby Wren and the Great Gift
Bunny’s First Spring
The House That’s Your Home
Hats Off to Mr. Pockles

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner

Books by Kate Messner:
Over and Under the Pond
Over and Under the Snow
How to Read a Story
The Brilliant Deep

Otis and Will Discover the Deep by Barb Rosenstock

Books by Barb Rosenstock:
Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
The Noisy Paint Box
Through the Window
Dorothea’s Eyes
Ben Franklin’s Big Splash

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and David Small

Books by Sarah Stewart and David Small:
The Library
The Journey
The Quiet Place
The Money Tree
This Book of Mine (coming out this summer!)

Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek by Deborah Hopkinson

Miracle Man by John Hendrix

Graphic novel by John Hendrix:
The Faithful Spy
Hook’s Revenge

Books illustrated by P.J. Lynch:
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower
Melisande
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
The Gift of the Magi
When Jessie Came Across the Sea
No One But You
Mysterious Traveller

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A book that became a movie:
The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe
Harry Potter & the Sorceror’s Stone
Anne of Green Gables
The Princess Bride
Little Women
The Secret Garden
A Little Princess
The Hobbit
Tom Sawyer
Swallows and Amazons
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Paddington Bear
Where the Wild Things Are
The Cat in the Hat
Charlotte’s Web

A graphic novel:
Hazardous Tales
Calamity Jack
Anne of Green Gables
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Zita the Space Girl Trilogy
Mighty Jack
Mighty Jack and the Goblin King
Mighty Jack and Zita the Space Girl
The Drawing Lesson
The City of Ember

A biography:
Now & Ben
Neo Leo
Timeless Thomas
Balloons Over Broadway
Some Writer!
Nothing Stopped Sophie
Snowflake Bentley
Brave Girl
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Six Dots
The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin
A Picture Book of Benjamin Franklin
Papa is a Poet
Balderdash
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen
Emily
The Right Word
The Boy Who Loved Math
A Boy, A Mouse, and a Spider
A Poem for Peter
Abe Lincoln: the Boy Who Loved Books
A Boy Called Dickens
A Picture Book of Louis Braille
A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus

A classic:
Charlotte’s Web
Little House in the Big Woods
Farmer Boy
Treasure Island
The Jungle Book
Peter Pan
The Wind in the Willows
The Wizard of Oz
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Pilgrim’s Progress
Little Pilgrim’s Progress
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
Illustrated Stories from Dickens
Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables
Winnie-the-Pooh
The Iliad and the Odyssey

A book with a dragon:
Henry and the Chalk Dragon
My Father’s Dragon trilogy
Saint George and the Dragon
Beowolf
Sir Gawain & the Green Knight
King Arthur & His Knights of the Round Table
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

A book with a lighthouse:
Hello Lighthouse
Our Castle by the Sea
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge
The Lighthouse Kids
The Lighthouse Children

A wordless book:
Journey
Quest
Return
Unspoken
Museum Trip
Flora and the Flamingo
Flora and the Peacocks
Flora and the Penguin
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Spot, the Cat
Flashlight

A book written by a female author:
Alice Schertle
Sally Lloyd-Jones
Laura Ingalls Wilder
L.M. Montgomery
Shannon Hale
J.K. Rowling
Kate DiCamillo
Gail Gibbons
Deborah Hopkinson
Tasha Tudor
Beatrix Potter
Sandra Boynton
Grace Lin
Edith Nesbit
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Louisa May Alcott
Margaret Wise Brown
Jennifer Trafton
Maryrose Wood
Barbara Cooney
Jane Yolen
Beverly Cleary
Laura Numeroff
Astrid Lindgren
Madeleine l’Engle
Patricia Polacco
Helen Oxenbury
Rosemary Wells
Trina Schart Hyman
Jean Fritz
Patricia MacLachlan
Cynthia Rylant
Barb Rosenstock
Virginia Lee Burton
Peggy Parish
Ruth Stiles Gannett
Helen Oxenbury
Kate Messner
Melissa Sweet
Linda Sue Park
Janet Stevens
Mary Pope Osborne
Caroline Starr Rose
Candace Fleming

A book written by a male author:
Eric Carle
Ezra Jack Keats
P.D. Eastman
Bill Martin Jr
Aaron Becker
Jonathan Bean
Richard Scarry
Gene Zion
S.D. Smith
Jason Farley
N.D. Wilson
Andrew Peterson
C.S. Lewis
A.A. Milne
John Bunyan
Roald Dahl
Gary Paulsen
E.B. White
Dr. Seuss
Arnold Lobel
Maurice Sendak
Chris Van Allsburg
Rudyard Kipling
Robert McCloskey
Tomie dePaola
Lewis Carroll
Shel Silverstein
J.M. Barrie
David Macaulay
Lloyd Alexander
Michael Bond
Jonathan Auxier

A book based a true story:
Finding Winnie
Winnie
Winnie’s Great War
Rescue & Jessica
One Hen
Beatrice’s Goat
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
The Faithful Spy

Historical fiction:
Phoebe the Spy
The Cabin Faced West
Birchbark House
Winnie’s Great War
Listening for Lions
Homer Price
Billy and Blaze
Betsy Tacy
Anne of Green Gables
Kilmeny of the Orchard
Emily of New Moon
Dear America Series
Henry Huggins
Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine
Hatchet
Summer of the Monkeys
Leepike Ridge
A Long Way from Chicago
The Matchlock Gun
The Sign of the Beaver
The Railway Children
The Orphan Band of Springdale
The Bobbsey Twins
The Boxcar Children

A book in a series:
The Green Ember
The Mistmantle Chronicles
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Anne of Green Gables
The Chronicles of Narnia
The 100 Cupboards
Betsy Tacy
The Penderwicks
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
The Wilderking Trilogy
Edward Eager’s Tales of Magic
The Wingfeather Saga
Edge of Extinction
The Mysterious Benedict Society
What You Do Matters
Mercy Watson
The Princess in Black
Tumtum and Nutmeg
Prince Martin
Cilla Lee-Jenkins
A to Z Mysteries
Magic Treehouse
I Survived

A book with a one-word title
A book with a dust jacket
A book without a dust jacket

Re-read something you loved:
Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic
Henry and the Chalk Dragon
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
Sophie Quire
Sweep
Gone Away Lake
The Family Under the Bridge
Flora and Ulysses
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Miracles on Maple Hill
Building Our House
This is My Home, This is My School
The Remember Balloons
The Book of Mistakes

Read poetry:
Papa is a Poet
100 Great Poems for Boys
100 Great Poems for Girls
Where the Sidewalk Ends
A Child’s Garden of Verses
Sing a Song of Seasons
Poems Every Child Should Know
A Treasury of Poems for Young People
A Child’s Introduction to Poetry

Read Shakespeare:
Pop-Up Shakespeare
Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children
The Shakespeare Stories
Poetry for Kids: William Shakespeare
Poetry for Young People

Read about science:
Outside Your Window
A Rock is Lively
A Beetle is Shy
An Egg is Quiet
A Nest is Noisy
A Butterfly is Patient
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies
Leonardo and the Flying Boy
Indescribable
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes
The Girl With a Mind for Math
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code
Margaret and the Moon
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures
In the Bag
Great Inventors and their Inventions
Marvelous Mattie
The Inventor’s Secret
Mr. Ferris and His Wheel
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison
Young Thomas Edison
Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions
The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book
Klutz Lego Chain Reactions Science & Building Kit
STEAM Kids

Read about art:
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies
The Boy Who Drew Birds
A Child’s Introduction to Art
The Story of Paintings
Discovering Great Artists
Seek & Find: Art through the Ages
The Children’s Book of Art
The Magical Garden of Claude Monet
Linnea in Monet’s Garden
Monet Paints a Day
Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail
Degas and the Little Dancer
Van Gogh and the Sunflowers
Camille and the Sunflowers
Joining the Dots
Cezanne and the Apple Boy
Matisse the King of Color
Through Georgia’s Eyes
My Name is Georgia
A Book of Postcards
The Artist in the Desert
Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs
The Noisy Paint Box
Katie and the Impressionists
Katie and the Mona Lisa
Katie and the British Artists
Katie and the Waterlily Pond
Small Stories of Great Artists

Read something patriotic:
The 4th of July Story
Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution
The Declaration of Independence
George vs. George
John, Paul, George & Ben
Red Coats & Petticoats
Aaron & Alexander
Paul Revere’s Ride
The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence
America: a Patriotic Primer
A More Perfect Union

Read something about ice cream:
Ice Cream: the Full Scoop
Curious George and the Ice Cream Surprise
Curious About Ice Cream
And Then Comes Summer
Ice Cream
Isaac’s Ice Cream Tree
Ice Cream Summer
The Scoop on Ice Cream
Ice Cream for Breakfast
Ice Cream Sunday

Read something about food:
Food Anatomy
Blueberries for Sal
A Medieval Feast
The Kitchen Knight
Fannie in the Kitchen
Julia, Child
The Seven Silly Eaters
Bon Appetit
Minette’s Feast
Bee-Bim Bop
Each Peach Pear Plum
Everybody Cooks Rice
Pancakes, Pancakes
Walter the Baker
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA

Read something about gardening:
Nature Anatomy
A Packet of Seeds
Miss Rumphius
We Are the Gardeners
The Secret Garden
The Tiny Seed
Tops and Bottoms
From Seed to Plant
The Vegetables We Eat
The Fruits We Eat
Flowers
Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt
A Seed is Sleepy
Miss Maple’s Seeds
Oh Say Can You Seed

Read something about water:
The Little Island
Over and Under the Pond
Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man
Island Boy
Hello Lighthouse
Time of Wonder
One Morning in Maine
Harry By The Sea
The Circus Ship
Flotsam
Water Can Be…
The Brilliant Deep
Papa and the Mechanical Fish
Shark Lady
Otis and Will
Water is Water
Coral Reefs
Paddle-to-the-Sea
Seabird
Coral Reefs
Marshes & Swamps
Surrounded By Sea
Exploring the Deep, Dark Sea

Read something about outer space:
A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky
Lost in the Solar System
Star Stuff
On the Launch Pad
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars
There’s No Place Like Space
Go For the Moon
Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars
Hidden Figures
Papa Put a Man on the Moon
Eight Days Gone
If You Decide to Go to the Moon
When We Walked on the Moon
A Computer Called Catherine
Look to the Stars
I am Neil Armstrong
Moon
The Moon Book
The Planets
Planet Earth
Galaxies, Galaxies!
Stargazers

Read a Psalm
Read a Proverb
Read an Epistle
Read a Gospel
Read from the Pentateuch
Read from the Prophets
Read in bed
Read while eating
Read standing up
Read in the car
Read aloud to someone else
Listen to someone read aloud to you

Listen to an audiobook:
Trumpet of the Swan
Echo
Listening for Lions
The Wingfeather Saga
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
The Little House Series
The Princess and the Goblin
The Wizard of Oz

Read in the morning
Read by flashlight
Read outside
Read upside down
Read to a sibling
Read to a parent
Read to a friend
Tell a friend about a book
Read for 20 minutes
Read for 40 minutes
Read for 60 minutes
Read & lose track of time

 

Joyful Domesticity’s Summer Reading Challenge, 2019

Joyful Domesticity Summer Reading Challenge

One of the things I really love about homeschooling is how each of our family members both contributes and receives from the culture in our home without much contradiction from outside input. We are constantly discussing, evaluating, and sifting what we see, hear, and experience through our Christian worldview and family culture. I have posted before (it seems so long ago) about the main loves in our family and home ~ broadly stroking, books & food & music.

This last year, perhaps more than any other, our love for books and love of story has been quite pronounced. I have long loved the Read Aloud Revival, and have enjoyed the community of membership there this last year. I have found encouragement and validation and camaraderie over literature there, and it brings delight to my heart. I have also found a lot of encouragement and camaraderie at Simply Convivial and Scholé Sisters this last year, thanks to the community-building efforts of my friend Mystie. It is such a blessing & boon to know that I am not alone in my journey, even if many of my connections necessarily happen online.

Something that I have loved every summer with my children is pursuing a variety of reading challenges. We participate in Read to Ride, Barnes & Noble’s summer reading journal, Pizza Hut’s Book It program, and we have also enjoyed summer reading challenges from Exodus Books and Veritas Press in the past. This summer I have crafted a slightly more personalized take on it for my children. They will get to put stickers on their completed squares through the end of August, and there will be rewards for every dozen squares marked off. You may notice that there are a few specific books and authors ~ these are to help my children & me keep up with the Family Book Clubs my friend Sarah & her Read Aloud Revival team host each month. And then we love taking rabbit trails from those ideas, exploring more of the authors & illustrators we meet there, and build a lot of our library holds list from that. But the majority of these challenge boxes are much more open, more free. It is up to parental discretion whether a book can be used to check off more than one box, or whether each book should only qualify for one box at a time.

REWARDS for every dozen checked boxes:

  • Ice cream sundae
  • Movie date
  • Staying up thirty minutes late
  • Cookies & lemonade picnic
  • Choosing a new book on Amazon
  • Visiting local amusement park (with free tickets!)

I will also be sharing some of our favorite titles and authors that suit some of these categories, to encourage your own library holds list to grow!

Please feel free to print and enjoy Joyful Domesticity’s Summer Reading Challenge, and fatten the hearts & minds of your family this season along with us! And if you are so inclined, please leave comments sharing some of your favorite authors, illustrators, titles, and wins so we can learn from one another.

A Break for Breathing

It may seem as though even I were new around here now, it has been so long since there has been any update here on Joyful Domesticity. This has been a break for breathing, a season for a deep breath. A season for new journeys, and adjustments to old paths that take new winding turns.

For anyone who is genuinely new to glancing around Joyful Domesticity, please allow me to briefly introduce myself. I am Melissa Joy, a second generation Christian homeschooling mother in the Pacific Northwest. I have been married to my husband Steven since 2007, and we have been deepening our walk with each other & our walk with Christ ever since. One way He has broadened our faith and deepened our theology is through the sanctification of parenting: what a joy, what a privilege, what a hope, what a responsibility! He has blessed us with fourteen children: nine in heaven, four in our home, one in the womb.  Our journey of recurrent miscarriage has been very shaping and honing, of our individual spiritual lives as well as of our family culture at large. I continue to endeavor to reach out in empathy, compassion, understanding, and aid for other grieving mamas. I continue to learn much from the experiences and community God has put in my story.
We homeschool our little band of redheads on family property in the countryside in a Classical Christian model, emphasizing truth, beauty, & goodness through the means of books, music, science, math, art, books, language arts, penmanship, computer skills, books, history, geography, handcrafts, theology, and more books. We delight in embracing life together in our home, our homeschooling community, our church family. My husband operates a company called Olive Tree Bible Software with passion, patience, and diligence. I recently began an endeavor called Paideia Northwest, where we aim to host an annual conference in Northeastern Washington state for Christian mothers raising, educating, & loving their children for the Kingdom of God. It isn’t a money-maker, it is more of a ministry, as my heart longs to see Christian mothers band together in love and encouragement despite differences of practice, method, or even theology.

We have four sons, with one daughter directly in the middle. At this moment, our children are Gabriel (11), Asher (7 1/2), Evangeline (6), Simeon (3 1/2), with the littlest brother’s arrival anticipated in a matter of weeks. God has been continually gracious toward our family, and we are humbly grateful for His intense benevolence. There is no more challenging yet rewarding chapter in my life than motherhood ~ with its many facets.

While I have taken recent months to focus on my tangible home, replete with books and babies and bedrest, I hope to make a somewhat more regular presence here at Joyful Domesticity again. To share what God is doing in my heart, my home, my journey to the Kingdom. I am nothing particularly clever or wise or unique, but I have a heart that is eager to uplift, encourage, and share the sharpening of Christ mutually with my sisters in Christ both near and far.

For the glory of the King, the furtherance of His Kingdom, and the joy of the home! Cheers.

He Gives His Beloved Sleep

…”It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
¬†¬†¬†¬†for he gives to his¬†beloved¬†sleep.”

Psalm 127:2

I awoke this morning when my body wanted to wake up. Not to the rush of children, not to the kiss of a husband bringing me coffee. My eyes simply opened when they were ready.

Now I am reclining in a fluffy bed all to myself, a fan making gentle white noise in the room while I read and rest. The fact is, without the fan, my ears were actually throbbing Рthis place was completely quiet. As quiet as my home during a power outage while my family is away on vacation. Too quiet.

My husband sent me away to give me some time off. He wanted me to sleep, to relax, to refill my vessel, to take a breather from the tyranny of the urgent I spend my life upon in the day to day, to step away for a day from the anxiety of the never-ending to-do list.

He actually wanted to send me to a nice hotel in town, and then have me spend a day reading and writing and sipping coffee in bookshops or bakeries. But when I said I didn’t want to spend money on that when there are so many other more worthy (or necessary) things pulling on our pocketbook, he arranged for me to stay next door.

That’s right.¬†Next door.
My parents are our nearest neighbors, which is a bit of a jaunt for the average suburbanite – around the pond, through the marsh, over the rocky bluff, on the other side of the forest, up the hill. Yep. That’s the most direct route from our home to the home of our neighbors, my parents. And since my parents were planning to take a weekend to get away to a lake for their own time of rest and retreat, Steven decided it would be the perfect opportunity for me to get away to¬†their¬†home. With satellite tv and a featherbed, it’s as good as any hotel!

My husband is now home with our children doing the homeschooling for a day while I am retreating (yes, he used a vacation day on his wife). The kids promised me they would be extremely well behaved and do even better on their schoolwork than normal. But I told them not to make it too easy for Daddy or he will never know how hard Mommy has to normally work every day! I wrote out their assignments for today before I left, and I didn’t load them up too thickly – they’ll be okay. And hopefully it will be a good thing for all of us: Steven and the kids getting to spend a normal day together and experience what that is like, while I get some headspace and extra sleep.

My beloved is kind. And I am grateful for his thought in caring for me in this way. Life has a way of being very busy, of having no margin.
That is actually part of the reason behind Paideia Northwest bringing an annual conference for Christian mamas to get a day of refilling their vessel. It is a different kind of retreat; but it is an opportunity for women to come together for fellowship, for hearing encouragement & exhortation based on truth, goodness, and beauty urging them toward courageous faithfulness. There will also be food and drink to fill the body and new friends to make to feed the soul. But Steven knows that for me, it will be a big work day. Running a conference is not exactly restful – it is good work. I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring this event to life, and to have the front row seat to see what God does with our little offering by faith.

So for today, I rest. I relax. I retreat.
I will write and read and plan my baby boy’s third birthday party.
I will watch the Food Network and munch on easy food.
I will have a grateful heart for the hubby who loves me and who longs to give me rest.

Seeking the Lord, at Co Op Vol I

Last week as we began a new foray into a small homeschool co op with just five families, I was in charge of leading our first Chapel session. We will begin each co op day with Chapel, being the formal title for the thirty minute session where we will gather all together for prayer, Scripture, singing, and devotion. There are three of us moms who will rotate preparing and leading Chapel, and we each have different backgrounds and styles, so we are excited to see how the variety fattens our Christian walks and shapes the experience for all the children. It is good to remember that we have both unity and diversity in the body of Christ. It is wonderful to have opportunities to see, hear, interact, and experience different kinds of Christian practices.

I happen to be a very structured and traditional sort of woman, especially when it comes to things like my Christian faith. I love the old ways. I love the traditional texts, songs, liturgies, and formalities.

So I decided to jump right into the deep end and share my style & loves with the other families in our new little homeschool co op. We began with prayer, using a liturgy from Every Moment Holy (which does happen to be one of my favorite books).

Liturgy for the Midday:

O Christ our rest, we pause amidst the labors of this day to remember the best reason for our laboring.

We labor, O Lord, as stewards of Your creation, and as stewards of the gifts
You have apportioned to each of us for the good of all.

Bless then the works of our hands and minds and hearts, O God, that they might bear fruit for Your greater purposes.

May our work this day be rendered first as service to You, that the benefits of it might be eternal.

Receive this, the offering of our labors, O Lord.

Amen.

If our hearts have already been tempted this day to believe anything about ourselves or others
that does not take into account Your creation, Your mercy, Your sacrifice, Your grace, Your forgiveness, Your redemption, and Your unshakeable love, O God,

remind us again of these truths, giving us faith enough to believe
and hope enough to choose to embrace them again and again.

Or if we have been swayed from the place of resting in Your grace today‚ÄĒswayed by shame, by error, by vanity, by pride, or by love of the praise of people, act, O Holy Spirit!

Reveal our error, convict conscience, and bring us to quick repentance.
Rekindle our affections, restoring them again to their one worthy object,
who is Christ, and who alone holds the words of eternal life.

Let us now consider such words, from Holy Scripture.

Shape our thoughts, O Lord, by Your truth, even as you shape our hearts by Your love.

(my children took turns reading aloud the following Scriptures)
This is My command: be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Proverbs 9:9-10

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.
You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to Him.
The Lord is the strength of His people; He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
Oh, save Your people and bless Your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Psalm 28:7-9

Now grant us strength and grace, O God, sufficient to the remains of the day, that we might move through its unfolding in humble obedience to Your will and in sensitivity to Your Spirit and in joyful expectancy of Your coming Kingdom.

May the light of that eternal city illuminate our hearts, our paths, our vision through these next hours, O Lord.

Amen.

It was beautiful to hear our little co op group join in on the liturgy, speaking aloud the bold portions. I don’t know for certain, but I assume that this type of liturgy would be a new (& quite possibly strange) experience for those moms and their children.
Then I pulled out a book that Joni Eareckson Tada had sent to my children as a gift a few months ago, which we enjoyed using over the summer during our morning routine. I very quickly taught the children (even the tiny tots) the chorus, and then read the devotional pages aloud before we all jumped into singing the entire song together acapella, before finishing with one more liturgy from Every Moment Holy.

(reading of a devotional & singing its song accompaniment‚ÄĒ
pp81-85 in Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart by Wolgemuth/Tada)
We praise thee, O God!
For the days of our youth,
For the bright lamp that shineth‚ÄĒ
The Word of thy truth.

Hallelujah! thine the glory,
Hallelujah we sing;
Hallelujah! thine the glory,
Our praise now we bring.

We praise thee, O God!
For the Son of thy love,
For Jesus who died
And is now gone above.

Hallelujah! thine the glory,
Hallelujah we sing;
Hallelujah! thine the glory,
Our praise now we bring.

We praise thee, O God!
For thy Spirit of light,
Who has shown us our Saviour
And scattered our night.

Hallelujah! thine the glory,
Hallelujah we sing;
Hallelujah! thine the glory,
Our praise now we bring.

All glory and praise
To the Lamb that was slain,
Who has borne all our sins and
Has cleansed ev’ry stain!

Hallelujah! thine the glory,
Hallelujah we sing;
Hallelujah! thine the glory,
Our praise now we bring.

Liturgy for Students:

May we learn to love learning, O Lord, for the world is Yours, and all things in it speak‚ÄĒeach in their way‚ÄĒof You: of Your mind, Your designs, Your artistry, Your power, Your unfolding purpose. All knowledge is Your knowledge. All wisdom Your wisdom.

There, as we apply ourselves to learning, may we be mindful that all created things are Your creative expression, that all stories are held within Your greater story, and that all disciplines of order and design are a chasing after Your thoughts‚ÄĒso that greater mastery of these subjects will yield ever greater knowledge of the symmetry and wonder of Your ways.

Along this journey, O Great Architect of Life and Beauty, bless us with teachers who are passionate about the subjects they teach, and with mentors who will take joy in awakening in us a fierce love for those parts of Your creation and Your story that they have already learned to love well.

As I apply myself even to those subjects that I might at first find tedious, reward my efforts with new insights, fresh inspiration, small epiphanies, and with the firm conviction that You are at work in my heart in all circumstances, not only broadening my knowledge, but also shaping my heart by patience, endurance, and discipline that I might mature to more fitly and humbly serve the purposes of Your great Kingdom.

Give us a deepening knowledge of truth and a finer discernment of the ideas we encounter as we study. Guard our minds always against error, and guard also our hearts against the temptation to compare our own performance to the work of peers, and so to fall into either of the twin traps of shame or pride. Grant instead that we might happily steward what scholarly gifts You have apportioned each, and that we might do so as means of preparing ourselves for service to You and others, with our identity drawn from Your love and forgiveness, and not from grades or accolades here.

Open, O Lord, as You will, the paths of my life in the days yet to come. Use my studies to further shape my vision of what my place and call in this world might be. Begin to show me where my own deep gladness and the world’s deep need might meet. And in that light, let me be mindful not only of my studies, but also mindful of the needs of my peers and even of my teachers. Let me respond with mercy to the failings of others.

Let me be in this gathering of students, even in small ways, a bearer of love and light and reconciliation; which is to say, let me in humility be Your child.

God grant these children discernment and wisdom.
Guard us from error.
God grant these children knowledge and understanding.
Lead us to truth.
God bless the labors of this new season.
Shape us for Your service.

Amen.

And that is how we began our new little homeschool co op. With prayer, liturgy, tradition, singing, reading aloud, and begging for God’s mercy upon both the teachers and students in our group.

Then after we had time for each of the moms to share with the kids about the classes they will experience this year together (Apologia science, IEW, music/singing, and PE for the biggest kids – with the younger set doing simpler versions of those things like intro to the human body instead of Apologia science, and Poetry Teatime instead of IEW), the kids got to have playtime while we moms had our first Mom’s Circle where we will do a book study together, pray together, and discuss things related to homeschool, co op, and life in general.

To begin that, I shared some things from Heidi St. John’s new book¬†Prayers for the Battlefield and some snippets from Clay & Sally Clarkson’s book The Life Giving Parent:

WORDS for MOM’S CIRCLE
(from Prayers for the Battlefield, pp55-59
and The Lifegiving Parent Experience, Week One)

Your Word says my children will be like their teacher, Lord. Today I realize that I am that teacher. Would You show me how to become the person You want me to be so that my children can become who You want them to be too? Help me to love You with all my heart, soul, and strength. Help me to remember the commands You have given so I can teach them to my children. Help me to take advantage of every opportunity to teach Your ways to my children, from the time we get up to the time we go to bed. I also see that everyone who influences my children matters. Help me to see influence as something that carries eternal consequences and to act in the best spiritual interest of my child on the battlefield of education. Give me insight into the hearts and motives of those who carry influence with my children. Open my eyes to wrong teaching, wrong motives, and a worldview that opposes You, so I can make sure my children learn what is right according to Your standard, not the world‚Äôs. You say that the person who doesn‚Äôt sit in the counsel of the wicked will be blessed. In this crazy world, it‚Äôs sometimes hard to tell the wicked from the righteous! Snares are everywhere, including on the battlefield of education. You say that if anyone lacks wisdom, they can ask You for it, so I‚Äôm asking. Please give me‚ÄĒand my children‚ÄĒdaily wisdom in discerning good from evil. I pray for my child‚Äôs teachers, Lord‚ÄĒstarting with me. Help me to be an instructor who brings life and truth‚ÄĒYour life, Your truth‚ÄĒto the heart of my children‚Äôs education, no matter the subject.

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge:
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God,
who gives generously to all without reproach,
and it will be given him.

Psalm 1
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Deuteronomy 6:1-25
‚ÄúNow this is¬†the commandment‚ÄĒthe statutes and the rules‚ÄĒthat the¬†Lord¬†your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it,¬†2¬†that¬†you may fear the¬†Lord¬†your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and¬†that your days may be long.¬†3¬†Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly,¬†as the¬†Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10¬†‚ÄúAnd when the¬†Lord¬†your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you‚ÄĒwith great and good cities¬†that you did not build,¬†11¬†and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant‚ÄĒand when you eat and are full,¬†12¬†then take care lest you forget the¬†Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.¬†13¬†It is¬†the¬†Lord¬†your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and¬†by his name you shall swear.¬†14¬†You shall not¬†go after other gods,¬†the gods of the peoples who are around you‚ÄĒ¬†15¬†for¬†the¬†Lord¬†your God in your midst¬†is a jealous God‚ÄĒlest the anger of the¬†Lord¬†your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.

16 “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. 18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers19 by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.

20¬†‚ÄúWhen your son asks you in time to come, ‚ÄėWhat is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the¬†Lord¬†our God has commanded you?‚Äô¬†21¬†then you shall say to your son,¬†‚ÄėWe were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the¬†Lord¬†brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.¬†22¬†And¬†the¬†Lord¬†showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.¬†23¬†And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.¬†24¬†And the¬†Lord commanded us to do all these statutes,¬†to fear the¬†Lord¬†our God,¬†for our good always, that¬†he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.¬†25¬†And¬†it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the¬†Lord¬†our God, as he has commanded us.‚Äô

Only you‚ÄĒparents alive in Christ because of the Holy Spirit within you‚ÄĒhave the ability and the power of the Spirit to make your home a Christian home. Engagement with Christian culture does not define a Christian home; engagement with the living Christ does. That understanding is a necessary first step on the path to becoming a lifegiving parent.

Even as winds of culture howl around our children, our fundamental responsibility is to give them the life of God that we have found in Him. That is what we call lifegiving parenting.

I am eager to see what God does to fill us, shape us, teach us, and lead us with this group this year. We hope it is a place of restful education and Christ-centered learning. We hope it is a place of integrity, honesty, diligence, honor, and joy. We hope it is a place where we can glean wisdom from others as well as share the abundance God has put in our hands. May He be pleased with our weekly offering to Him in this new endeavor.