To read the rest of this article,
written by me for my friend
Amy Sloan to share,
head over to HumilityAndDoxology.com
To read the rest of this article,
To read the rest of this article,
written by me for my friend
Amy Sloan to share,
head over to HumilityAndDoxology.com
As we continue our way through summertime, I am seeking to spend any marginal moments on education. I continue pursuing my own education through reading about Classical Christian education, Charlotte Mason education, and things to expand my knowledge & imagination.
Some things I have been reading lately:
Morning Time: a Liturgy of Love by Cindy Rollins
Ideas Freely Sown by Anne E. White
The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson
The Paideia of God by Douglas Wilson
The Flow of the Psalms by O. Palmer Robertson
Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
Mortimer Adler: The Paideia Way of Classical Education by Robert Woods
Classical Education and the Homeschool by Wilson, Callihan, and Jones
I have also been working on class schedules for our new Classical Christian co op, Paideia Studies. I have created the scope and sequence for Middle Ages History, General Science, and Collective for the upcoming school year. It feels so good to have those things ironed out and ready for the mamas.
I don’t personally have an official high school student this year, but this is what the high school bracket at Paideia Studies will be jumping into for our inaugural year:
Science: Chemistry (Jay L. Wile)
Worldview/Lit/History/Writing: Omnibus II (Veritas Press) and Medieval History Based Writing (IEW), plus a long literature list
Language: conversational Spanish using Complete Spanish, 501 Spanish Verbs, and some dictionaries
Logic: Bestiary of Adorable Fallacies (Canon Press) and Critical Thinking (Anita Harnadek)
I do have kids in all the other class though! I have kids entering 1st, 4th, 6th, and 8th grades – plus a toddler for the youngest class. We are really looking forward to all the subjects and books and projects we will be pursuing with so many new friends this year. Here is a peek at the book stacks I have put together for the Grammar and Middle brackets at Paideia Studies this year:
History: Middle Ages – Story of the World volume 2 (Peace Hill Press), Mystery of History volumes 2 and 3 (Linda Hobar), A Child’s History of the World (V.M. Hillyer), plus a large collection of picture books and chapter books and anthologies for living books/literature
Art: Studies of Imitation through Sketching – Anyone Can Teach Art (Julie Abels), Discovering Great Artists (Bright Ring), Short Lessons in Art History (Walch Publishing), History of Art (Bustard, Veritas Press); plus a bunch of other resources to sprinkle throughout the year – Art Treasury (Rosie Dickins), The Children’s Book of Art (Rosie Dickins), The Arts (DK Publishing), The Usborne Book of Famous Paintings (Usborne), The Illustrated History of Art (David Piper)
I never expected to spend this summer doing this kind of planning and organizing, but the Lord has blessed me so much and given me a lot of joy in it. How kind of Him! And as we have had opportunities through family interviews, co op cookout, and play dates… we are finding a beautiful sense of community already building. Although these ten families have not known each other much previously, there is at least one previously-known family per family. So everyone knows someone, but nobody knows everyone. It can honestly feel a little daunting to jump into a new group of people and an entirely new endeavor together – both for mamas and for kids. But it is beautiful to know that we have unity, regardless of any diversity. (Our pastor recently mentioned in a sermon how uniformity and unity are not the same thing! We don’t strive for uniformity, but unity in Christ.) We are coming together to form a group working toward unified goals: pursuit of God, love of Him, knowledge of Him, wonder of Him for His creation.
We want to train our kids (and ourselves) to love things the Lord loves. Things which are good, true, and beautiful. Things which honor Him and equip us to further His kingdom on earth. That is what will bond us together. That is how we will create friendships and have fellowship in Paideia Studies.
Ordo amoris: ordering our loves. We need to teach our children what is lovely, and then teach them how to love it. This includes various subjects, topics, and books – but it also includes people and families and home cultures. I feel absolutely honored to walk with my children through a new season of education, a new season of community, a new season of friendship. I feel the Lord at work: HE is ordering our loves. May we follow Him with gladness!
Perhaps it is simply the nature of time, that the more of it you have experienced, the more you realize its swift progression. The idea of “someday” and “eventually” have taken on a cynical slant for me lately, as I have come to acknowledge that if I don’t pursue something “now” or “soon,” it is likely going to go undone. There is a perspective shift on this that I know continues to progress through the decades, as I think about the classic older-womanly comments that “this too shall pass” and “someday you’ll miss this” and reminder to “enjoy every moment.”
Most of those thoughts apply to the niche of motherhood, of walking my little ones through their education, sanctification, and devotion until they leave our nest to gather their own twigs and build upon our shoulders for the next generation. Some of these thoughts apply to being a middle-generation: of being sandwiched between two faithful women above me (praise the Lord for my mother and grandmother!) and the faith-of-a-child daughter following after me. Some even apply to personal pursuits and projects.
One of my main goals for this summer had been to organize the basement storage area. I had been making good progress on that last year, but then when Olive Tree Bible Software (my husband’s company) went completely remote a couple of months ago, our basement inherited an entirely new category of assets. Let’s just fully admit, then, that any organizational progress I had made was immediately eclipsed. I had intended to spend any spare hours in my summer weeks down in the cool basement, listening to audiobooks, and finding ways to organize and store everything necessary.
But another case of “tyranny of the urgent” arose when I suddenly found myself thrown into the position of creating a homeschool co op from the ground up. I finally have all the groundwork well in-hand for that project, complete with class schedules and book lists: so after hosting a cookout this next weekend for 65+ people in the co op families, I will simply need to complete 31 weeks of lesson plans. Yep: that’s the rest of my summer’s free moments! Good thing I find it enjoyable work.
This is also my fourth year preparing the Paideia Northwest conference for encouraging mamas to raise & educate their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I try to take six months off, and then May through November are my busy months for conference work. Registration for this year’s event should open one month from today, and this means I have to dig in now and finalize a bunch of details. This is all well underway, and I love the endeavor. But it easily eats up time and energy and heart.
Somehow, though, God has given me a few other opportunities for sharing my heart this summer. Besides having had a couple of recent speaking opportunities (with more peeking on the horizon), I have been given the blessing of a couple writing opportunities. In one case, I get to share about my passion of teaching my children to sing, and focus on memorization of Psalms. I can’t wait to share that here! In the meantime, please follow my little hobby on Instagram @SacredPsalmody
But today, I get to share my heart in a community effort put together by my friend Amy Sloan. Amy hosts a podcast called Homeschool Conversations, and writes a blog called Humility & Doxology. For a project with The Curriculum Choice this year, she has been creating a conversation with homeschooling moms from all points on the compass – ages, stages, and styles. To my delight, I was asked to participate in her Second-Generations post, which went live today. It was a joy to share my portion, and this morning I was blessed to read the perspectives of the additional participants.
Seeing God’s faithfulness in my own life is a gift, and something which needs to be forefront as I continue to carry on and build upon the shoulders of my parents. And so my summer projects this year are focused on sharing that faithfulness and harvesting/processing some of that fruit. Rather than organizing the basement, I am writing and speaking and singing and teaching and leading. There may be fewer audiobooks this year than I had hoped, and certainly fewer basement corners classified and curated… but there is just as much fruit. Different fruit. Beautiful and shareable.
Rejoice with me. Come see my disorganized basement if you must! But join me in the conversation of proclaiming the goodness of the Lord. He is on the throne! And as His people, we get to participate in the furthering of His Kingdom. Let’s do this by educating our kids for Him, by spurring one another on toward love and good works, by encouraging daily faithfulness in ourselves and our families, by repenting and forgiving and cultivating an atmosphere of grace. That’s the sum of my summer projects. (Stay tuned for more project reveals!)
What’s the vision?
What is your mission statement?
Whether it is an annual conference (hosting more than 300 women for a day) or a weekly co op (teaching 45 kids every Wednesday), I have found that in order to make it happen, follow through well, and communicate well with others during the process, I need to have a written vision and concise mission statement. It is all about the WHY. When we see the gap we are trying to fill and the need we are seeking to meet, it is easier to follow through with filling the gap and meeting the need. And it can not be done in isolation. In order to delegate, to share the burden, even to bring in prayer partners – I need to have things written down for good communication.
What project is the Lord putting into your hands? And how are you going to move forward with it in order to bring about a harvest of fruitful grace? I would encourage you to keep your Christian worldview front and center, and write your vision in as wordy a way as you can. Don’t leave out details. Once you have brain dumped all the ideas and reasons and hopes for your vision, you can tailor it and trim it in order to create a concise mission statement that will be easier to communicate.
I even do this with my children. Why do we educate at home? Why do it this way? Why music? Why books? Why Collective?
I can have long drawn-out conversations with them filled with run-on sentences and interrupted twenty-seven times with four questions at a time… to share the vision with them. To explain. To bring them into the embrace of that vision. But then when they ask the questions again at a future time, I share a shorter version -more like a mission statement- to sum it up and get right to the point.
So how do you make it happen in your home, in your work, in your pursuits? Where do you write it down? How do you cultivate that vision? And when do you find it helpful to have a specific mission statement?
As I continue reading about Classical education, specifically capitalizing on the Christian nuances of it, and prepare to direct a cooperative of families in this endeavor, I want to say a few things about books & curriculum. If you have been around me, my home, my conferences, or my writing for any length of time you will know at least one thing about me: I love books. Bibliophile ought to have been my middle name. But Joy also works, because I get more joy out of books than you can probably imagine. Buying them, holding them, smelling them, flipping through them, reading them to myself, reading them to my children, reading them alongside others, discussing them, writing in them, book darting them, assessing them, organizing them, gifting them, lending them, borrowing them, recommending them… the list goes on and on… but it’s all about books. Seriously. I have an addiction. (There are way worse things to which I could be addicted, so I’m unabashed and unashamed.)
But one thing about homeschooling is that it feeds this book addiction. I suppose you can homeschool without being a bibliophile, but why?! Through my years of home education (being a second generation in this realm, I have thirty-two years of this going for me at this point… or maybe thirty-seven…), my love of books has grown exponentially. So has my need for more bookshelves. And as I have grown in my pursuit of Classical education specifically, my needs (not just my desires) for more books has become more pronounced.
If you can imagine this being even more emphasized, just imagine now that I have been put in the position of starting and directing a Classical Christian homeschool co op. Yep! Loads of more books. In fact, the kids probably have begun to equate the mailman with a librarian… because more often than not, at least one book arrives on the doorstep a day.
I mean, hey: I already admitted that I have an addiction.
Addictions can be healthy. (Right?)
Back to books.
I love to jog along the line of Charlotte Mason meets Classical education. When I first read “Consider This” by Karen Glass, I think I actually cried, legitimately dimpling the pages of that library book with more happy tears than book darts (and trust me, there were plenty of book darts). I was not raised to check off boxes or fit into boxes. I was honestly raised to move mountains, ask questions, push the envelope, rest deeply, and create culture rather than fit into one. We never liked labels. I still don’t like labels. (Don’t believe me? Ask my husband. Or my pediatrician.)
So when it comes to curriculum, I have never really loved answering the question that most often peppers me as a homeschooling mama: “so, what curriculum do you use?” It makes me stutter and stumble almost as obviously as when someone would ask me as a homeschooled kid, “so, what grade are you in?”
I don’t exactly use a curriculum. I mean, I do. But I pick and choose. I like to think of our educational feast as a buffet, and we eat what is needed and loved at the time. We have always done Saxon math… but honestly, only because that’s what my parents used for my brother & me, and it worked for us… and thus far, it has worked for each of our kids as well (we are only up to Algebra 1). We have enjoyed Rod & Staff for grammar, Our Mother Tongue, and even Dragon Grammar. We have enjoyed IEW as well as Writing & Rhetoric. I love weaving together Story of the World with A Child’s History of the World and Mystery of History. Mapping the World with Art is my absolute favorite geography curriculum at this point. And we have used a few different Latin resources from Classical Academic Press. We buy things from Veritas Press, Memoria Press, and Logos at Canon Press as well. (But let’s be honest: I buy as much as I can from used vendors on Amazon, Thriftbooks, Abebooks, or Exodus Books.)
I constantly have over one hundred books checked out from the library (four family members have cards, and each has a 50-book allowance at a time), most along themes of what we are currently studying or pursuing as a family or in our homeschool co op. And the living books emphases from the Charlotte Mason world? Oh yes please. All of those are speaking my love language! I love to pull things from Ambleside Online. I also use Redeemed Reader to help us wade through a lot of things that are newer (I used to use a lot of Read Aloud Revival as well, but my kids & I have sort of grown past that and find Redeemed Reader and Scholé Sisters to be a better niche for us at this point).
But when it comes to a homeschool co op, we do need to have things chosen ahead of time, and a trajectory to share with the group so that all the families are quite literally on the same page.I have had some people asking about the curriculum that Paideia Studies will be using, so I thought I would just share a bit of that here. Not all of this is set in stone yet, but this is the current plan and trajectory of ’21-’22. Seeing it all written out and hyperlinked helps orient you to the vision as well as the specific curriculum, I think. I’m encouraging all co op moms/parents to read the first essay in a previously mentioned book called The Paideia of God, which you can read online right here.I am also encouraging all co op moms/parents to pick up this short book, Classical Education and the Homeschool… it is a great resource for getting a little jumpstart on this whole idea. Paideia for the parents is important too! Parents need to model continuing education and love of learning, in order to best teach and encourage our kids toward knowledge, instruction, and wisdom.
So without further ado, this is in the plan for ’21-’22:
SCIENCE- Apologia General Science (textbook for older kids, but just following the modules in the table of contents each week for the younger kids, in more of a Charlotte Mason living books method)
COLLECTIVE- We will also be doing singing, poetry, Bible/devotional, catechism (probably New City Catechism), and rotating through composer/poet/scientist/saint study in an all-together Collective each week for the first hour of co op.
ELECTIVE- And for the final hour of each co op day, we hope to have a rotating class that is more extra-curricular, possibly in eight week sections. We will figure that part out once we know for sure which families are joining us, how many kids will be in each class, and what the skills/interests are of all the attending parents. We will likely begin with art history & imitation.
I am eager to share more details of these class plans and book lists as time goes on. It is good for me to document these things, to have a self-motivated accountability on co op planning, and to share with other similarly-minded mamas so we can sharpen iron together.
Also, if you need to borrow a book… just let me know. I’ve recently turned my jokes from, “there’s an app for that,” to a more personally applicable, “I’ve got a book for that.”
See? Bibliophile. Unashamedly.
It is often easier to do hard things when it is obvious that there is a need to be met. A few years ago, this is how I became a Christian moms’ conference director. And this year, this is how I am becoming a homeschool co op director.
There is a need. God is showing me that He wants me to meet it, and He will equip me to do the work if I seek Him faithfully. Ready or not, He has brought me new work! I am asking Him for the wisdom and grace to meet it.
Until just a couple of weeks ago, my family was happily digging deep into a Classical Christian homeschool co op about 45 minutes away. In fact, we only got to spend two years with this particular group, and they happened to be some of the oddest two years in educational pursuits I can think of (thank you, intersection of germs and government). We had been excited to help develop the high school program with this co op, as my oldest son was among the oldest (with one other student his age) and we have every intention (while being open to wherever the Lord leads year by year) of homeschooling our children through their teens. With the ever-changing scene (especially lately) with higher education, it is even hard to map out where our children want to go (and where we think it is wise) in order to plan the best trajectory for them to get there with their limited years of childhood. Childhood is such a short season. Oh, Lord have mercy on us and grant us Your wisdom.
So at the very end of April, with curriculum already partially purchased and plans already in the works for the next co op year, we were very surprised to have the rug pulled out from beneath our feet when a phone call came from a dear friend of mine, saying that not only would our co op not be meeting for the 2021-2022 school year, but it was looking probable that the 26-year-long run for this particular co op was over. We spent a weekend saddened, heavy, hurting, and burdened.
I don’t know whether I spent more time crying or praying that weekend. They were so entwined.
Very soon, though–within mere days–I felt a pressing that I have felt only a couple of times before. A pressing that God is pushing me into a new work. Not something I planned or pined for, but something He prepared for me. No more tears, just time to follow Him with a willing heart & eager hands.
Let me just say, I never wanted to start a co op. I did not plan to be on a steering committee. This was from way out in left field. Maybe right field. Which punted left. I don’t know. But suffice it to say: this was not on my radar whatsoever.
But God. (Those are my dad’s two favorite words in Scripture. And as an adult, I now see why… although as a kid, I remember just giggling and wondering why my dad was such a nerd.)
God pulled that rug out from beneath my feet, He pressed a burden into my heart, and put a new task into my hands. I whipped together a plan for a new co op: first writing out what my personal thoughts were regarding things, and then looking at Scripture for a basis, and gathering information from other co op groups… and I created a handbook for a theoretical cooperative right here in my own little country hometown.
Within three weeks, I had a plan, a place, and a group of people wanting to link arms with us. Obviously, this was not my doing. This was the Lord at work.
It is such a blessing to dig in deep when we know that we are not spinning our own wheels or our own webs. It is a gift when the Lord presents us with opportunities–even really difficult ones–and essentially kicks us right through open doors. Something I have told numerous people through the work of running the Paideia Northwest conferences is that I love closed doors just about as much as I love open doors. They are both beautiful answers to prayer. And I am finding that resonating now with our new co op venture as well. It is easier to do hard things when I see the need which must be met… but it is even easier still when I see that it is the Lord meeting the need through me. I am not in charge. I am His tool.
Ready or not, the Lord is at work, and I am His handmaiden. I am here to do His will, and trust He will gird me for the tasks set before me. I am not enough, but He is. I am not ready, but He has already accomplished what needs to be done. And it is good.
I think of multiple things when I see the phrase “silver and gold.” I think of my nearing-forty hair color. I think of my collection of dangly earrings. And I think of friends. You know, thanks to the old sing-songy phrase: “make new friends but keep the old” which I believe came from the Joseph Parry poem:
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test –
Time and change – are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray,
Friendship never knows decay.
For ‘mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die,
New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast-
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
I am not yet four decades old, but I have been through a variety of seasons with a variety of different friends. Haven’t we all? And what a gift they each are. Each friendship has had its own sweet purpose and presence over the course of my life.
Interestingly, I have lived in the same little country town since I was 14 years old, with just a few years’ stint in the city suburbs thirty-five minutes away. Specifically, I have lived in this home for nearly a decade with my husband. Yet it is only this year where it seems we have finally begun to put down local roots. For years, the only thing we did out here in the country was eat and sleep and school. My husband’s job was an hour away, church was an hour away, co op was 45 minutes away, most of our friends were 45+ minutes away… I distinctly remember Steven calculating out the ridiculous number of hours per week he spent in the car (generally 14!) not long ago, and gently pondering the idea of moving into the city.
It is hard to feel incessantly disconnected.
It is hard to feel like opening my home in hospitality brings more burden than blessing. How many times have I heard, “Oh we’d love to come! Wait: you live WHERE?”
This is the year where God is showing us where we are planted. I can’t help but think of the cheesy old Mary Engelbreit print with the sweet little lady watering her flowers under the sunshine with birds nearby, and the banner “Bloom where you are planted” front & center. Pithy and impractical in my story for decades. Until now.
Just a few months ago, my husband began working from home. Just this spring, we have begun attending church only five minutes down the country road — and that doesn’t simply mean warming pews on Sunday mornings beside these folks, but actually getting to know our neighbors and pursuing relationship with people in our own little town. Just this month, we found out that we will be doing a new homeschool co op with people who live within 10-20 minutes from us.
Our roots are beginning to go down right here where we live. And while this may seem completely ordinary to many people, it is completely life-changing to me. Except for living a 1/2-mile walk through the woods from my parents’ home, we have not dug down into our own community and made connections nearby. This is changing.
I recently read “The Turquoise Table” by Kristin Schell as a follow-up to Rosaria Butterfield’s book, “The Gospel Comes with a House Key.” Both books are definitely more easily applicable to an urban or suburban living scenario than a farm-country locale like mine. But the heart and purpose behind both books is still important to me, and I am eager to find ways to apply the principles faithfully, even if my methods will necessarily manifest differently.
So as we make new (local!) friends but seek to keep up somehow still with others who are further away and no longer as regularly in our habitual life, I pray for ways to mingle the silver and gold together. I know it won’t be seamless, nor ideal, nor easy. But it is my hope. For the sake of my children, even if not for myself. I have specifically exhorted my children to tell me when they miss a friend, and I have promised to do my utmost to set up phone calls or play dates when they do. In the meantime, we are embracing the Marco Polo app and the good old USPS… and seeking to graciously, gracefully pursue new friendships with those on our road, in our farm town, down the pew, and joining our new co op. It is good to begin knowing so many more images of our God.
Have I mentioned yet that I am trying to call our Morning Time routine something different now? Partly because “Morning Time” is a little inaccurate since sometimes we don’t do it in the morning… and the time of day is certainly not the spine of this family gathering. I know people who call it Gathering or Symposium… but the word that I recently stumbled on and decided to clasp is Collective. I feel like that word really captures the essence of what I want to accomplish and cultivate: collecting people together to collect & cultivate culture together. I mean, the simple definition in the dictionary is “a cooperative enterprise.” But in a homey way, I just love the idea of collecting my people and collecting truth, goodness, and beauty alongside them. THAT is the spine of what I want to do during this time.
So my Morning Time posts are now simply Collective. Our Morning Time Cart is now happily renamed the Collective Cart. And we are trying to remember to refer to this time as Collective in conversation, even though we do occasionally slip into the old phrasing of Morning Time. Old habits really do die hard. I have been so ingrained with Cindy Rollins, Sarah Mackenzie, & Pam Barnhill’s teachings over the years that I can’t exactly just move on without some serious retraining. 😉 I’m too connected to Schole Sisters to make the switch lightly or simply!
Without further distraction, then…
FRIDAY COLLECTIVE, 4.16.21
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
1 Peter 3:10
G: Epilogue from The Lay of Redemption by Joseph Carlson
A: Jesus is the Beautiful Gate by Jason Farley
E: Resurrection Sunday (1) by Joseph Carlson
S: David (1 & 2) by Joseph Carlson
G & A reviewing the New City Catechism (finished all 52 here, so this is their third completed catechism)
E continuing through the New City Catechism (on question 20, this is her third catechism)
S continuing through The Kid’s Catechism (on question 82, this is his second catechism)
Hymn of the month:
Christ the Lord is Risen Today (Charles Wesley)
Psalm of the month:
Psalm 35, Behold, the Love, the Generous Love (Isaac Watts & Seaborn Denson)
The Apostles (Jamie Soles)
Follow the Line (Jamie Soles)
The Beatitudes (David Erb)
Ancient History reading:
Mystery of History, Vol 1, pages 378-384
Story of the World, Vol 1, pages 285-287
Child’s History of the World, pages 159-163
Church History reading:
selection from Radiant by Richard Hannula
(…continued from Aletheia, part nine…)
The truth is, we are called to bear fruit in our motherhood. To produce it and to carry it. Put your hands to the work before you, planting and tending and praying for the coming harvest. The truth of who we are as mothers is that we are the nourishers and nurturers of the bodies, minds, and souls of the children entrusted to us. But it is not by our own strength that we can accomplish these things. It is only through the enabling strength of Christ, and His work on our behalf, that we can strengthen the bodies, instill wisdom in the minds, and fatten the souls of our children. This takes repentance. This takes humility. This takes a posture of being a student alongside our children, even while we labor as teacher. This takes being a discipler of our children, even while being a disciple of Christ alongside them.
Truthfully, there is no more important work than that of discipling our kids. Bringing them along with us to the Lord. We do this by faith, by example and by leading. Do your kids see the primacy of Christ in your life? Do they know that Scripture and prayer and repentance and forgiveness are the backbone of life? Are they growing in their knowledge of God’s Word? Are the affections of your family’s hearts set on things above or things on the earth? Is your family being conformed to this world or transformed by Christ and His Word? Are you pursuing being noticeably different than the world around you? How do your kids stand out as undeniably God’s children? Only the Lord knows the heart, but a tree is known by its fruit. Act, speak, and dress like redeemed people, purchased at a price.
Give your children opportunities to fellowship with faithful Christians outside your own home. Faithfully take them to worship corporately every Sunday morning. Show them the loveliness of the Lord’s Day by setting it apart from six days of work. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Memorize Scripture in context. Teach through the practice of catechesis. Confess your sins against your children quickly and honestly. Forgive generously when your children sin against you. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Smile in the faces of your children, and show them the joy of the Lord. Rejoice when your children rejoice, and sorrow with them when they are sorrowful. Show your children the grace of hospitality in the every day sacrificial acts of feeding them, clothing them, laying down your life for them even as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Tell your kids what you love about them, and what makes you thankful to be their mama. Speak blessing over them. Make your home a haven to which they long to flee for refuge, comfort, rest, fellowship, feasting, and joy. Lace the Word of God and the fruit of the Spirit through everything, because it is in Him that we live and move and have our being.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.” Capture your children in the wonder of Christ. Proverbs 3 says, “Do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.”
Be encouraged, Mamas.
“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or letter. Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)
Heavenly Father, you are holy and you are good. You are the perfect husband and father. Please help us to rest in you, to bless Your name at all times, and to offer ourselves as willing vessels to be poured out for Your sake. Please mold us into godly wives who are complements to the specific husband you have given each of us, to be helpmeets that speak the truth in love, to grow in virtue, to be home centered home lovers. Please also mold us into godly mothers who love to nurture and nourish the children You have given us. Make us wise to the needs of our children’s bodies, souls, and minds. Cause us to be winsome examples for the sake of Christ, and enable us to lead our children in Your ways. Give us joy in the posture of humility as we repent of our ignorance and seek to grow in knowledge and wisdom even as we work to educate our children. Thank You for promising to be the God of our children, to those who love You and follow Your commandments, even unto a thousand generations. Enable us to mimic You in being kind, forgiving, generous, comforting, and truthful. Please return our minds and conversations to things which are worthy of meditation: honor, virtue, joy, and truth. Give renewed vision for who we are as Your people and how You have equipped us to work for Your kingdom. As we take dominion over the gardens allotted to us, please make us fruitful and bless the work of our hands. We offer ourselves to You in faith, knowing that You created and called us, and You will faithfully complete Your work in us. Please establish us in every good word and work, blinding us to falsehood and peeling the scales off our eyes to see Your truth. We thank You, and in the name of Jesus we boldly ask for blessing in all of these things. Amen.
(…continued from Aletheia, part eight…)
For a few years, I had an only child—and he took up all my time. Any extra time I had seemed to be spent researching how I could stop having miscarriages and give him siblings on earth. Motherhood was a very full time job, right from the get go. Now, a dozen years later, my five kids still take up all my time. I did not have more time then, I do not have more time now. Whether you have one child or ten children, motherhood is every day, around the clock. And I think this is never more true than for the homeschooling mama. I have some friends who don’t homeschool, and the things they accomplish during the hours when their children are away at school sounds absolutely fascinating to me. Floors get mopped and pianos get dusted? Hydrangeas get pruned and dental appointments happen on schedule? Who knew?! Their fruitfulness looks different than mine in many ways.
But mopping and dusting and pruning and planning aren’t paramount to me—nurturing and nourishing my children is. So I need to remember not to glance sideways at the fruit of others, but rather labor faithfully in the orchard where the Lord has placed me.
I would like to read you some wonderful words from a book called Building Her House, by a non-homeschooling mother:
“The wise woman understands that children are a source of joy and blessing entrusted to her by God, and she is to be a good steward of them, seeing that she takes care to dedicate her children to God and train them up as God’s own.” (Building Her House, Nancy Wilson, p61)
“Nothing we do in our homes is neutral; it will either feed and nourish or starve and impoverish.” (Building Her House, Nancy Wilson, p63)
“Life in our homes should be characterized by joy and thanksgiving so that children are taught and nourished in a way that takes their souls into account.” (Building Her House, Nancy Wilson, p17)
“Mothers must model forgiveness and repentance by seeking it themselves when they have been too hard on [their children].” (Building Her House, Nancy Wilson, p71)
Here are some key words that I gleaned from those quotes: wisdom, understanding, joy, blessing, entrusted, steward, care, dedicated, training, feed and nourish, starve and impoverish, thanksgiving, souls, model, forgiveness, repentance.
When was the last time you sinned against one of your children? When was the last time you asked their forgiveness? Over the years, I have grown in my repentance and begging forgiveness, but I still have much room to grow. Is your home characterized by joy and thanksgiving? Does the ambience in your home take the souls of your children into account? What might look different about it if you really thought about pursuing that nuance? Do you ever think that you are doing something neutral? That how you act, the work you do, the discipline or training of the kids, even the way you do the laundry could be neutral? Does it make your brain do a somersault to consider the idea that every action you take and every sentence you say will either nourish or impoverish your child? Do you look at your children as treasures that have been entrusted to you by God? Do you steward them well? What kind of profit will He see when He looks at these children in your care? Do we see beyond the diapers and fitful nights and math troubles and sibling squabbles and teen angst and acne and gangly limbs… to daily remember and recognize that these are immortals in our presence? Do we constantly consider the fact that the souls of these children will live forever? How can we live circumspectly to keep that in view?
Starting with prayer and praise is always a good answer. Seeking the face of the Lord and asking for Him to give that perspective and circumspection.
I also find that there are things I can do to put myself in the posture of that perspective. For instance, in the morning when I first see my children, I endeavor to hug them and greet them with a smile—whether or not I slept well, feel well, or even have an emotion of kindness at that moment. Praying with them and for them throughout the day, at prescribed times as well as in the heat of various moments. Remembering that not only are they as deeply human and personal as I am but that they are image-bearers of God and beloved of Him, my brothers and sisters in the Lord as well as my offspring—and in remembering their frailty as humans, making a point of physically connecting with them through the day by kissing a forehead, squeezing a hand, rubbing a shoulder, scratching a back, snuggling on the couch. Not all of my children are as fed by physical touch as some of them, but it is a good practice to fill up their love tanks not only with tasty meals, hot chocolate, funny stories, and the occasional date night, but also with physical touch.
Another thing I think is important is to leave my children at night with a feeling of comfort and confidence and care. No matter how hurried the bedtime routine has to be even on our latest or craziest nights, it must include praying over the children, singing them Numbers 6:24-26 as a blessing, and saying “peace be with you” to each child. I think it is really important for them to go to sleep knowing that we are at peace with one another, that I am asking for God’s blessing on them, and that I care for them intimately. I also have one child who struggles a little more than the others with feeling loved or wanted or appreciated, so I try to make a point of often saying “I am really thankful for you. I am thankful to be your mama. I really love X about you.” Nurturing and nourishing the mind and soul of my children is just as important as feeding and providing for their physical bodies.
Of course one of the main passions I have as a Christian homeschooling mother is bringing my children with me to the feet of Christ. It is important to nourish and nurture their bodies, their physical and mental selves, of course. But the sacred work of discipling them for the Lord is where we really get to live out what we say we believe. And that is precisely because we bring them with us to the feet of Christ in everything else we do.
Mark Chanski wrote, “How does a married woman with children forge a noble reputation in God’s eyes? She hammers it out on the anvil of sacrificial mothering. She gives herself wholly to the sacred mission of nurturing God-fearing children, from a spiritually healthy home environment… My goal is not to raise low-maintenance children, but lion-hearted ones.” (Womanly Dominion, Mark Chanski, p102/p141)
My friend Mystie Winckler has a saying: Repent. Rejoice. Repeat.
This is such a good and easy reminder to constantly have running through my head as I go about my day at home—one sinner running a three ring circus starring five other sinners. My day should be a continual cycle of repentance. Repenting of apathy. Repenting of selfishness. Repenting of a snappy response. Repenting of an unkind tone. Repenting of wrong priorities. Even education itself is a kind of repentance: it is repenting of ignorance.
I ought to be the one practicing repentance most openly, as I seek to bring my children with me in the sanctifying journey of daily living with the cross of Christ ever before us. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… Where is the one who is wise?… Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?… We preach Christ crucified!… Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God… God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are… and because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” (1 Corinthians 1)
Amy Sloan writes, “God’s delight in us is due solely to the perfect obedience of His Son, not our amazing homeschooling.” Our daily living is to be one of repentance and rest in what Christ has done for us and for our children. Amy continues, “humility and repentance is an essential posture of the teacher and, in imitative turn, of the student.”
Like all children, mine ask constant questions. There is a continual seasoning in my homeschool days, constant peppering with How and Why. You might think, since my children are still fairly young and their grandest of questions are still relatively narrow in relative scope, that I would “have all the answers.” Or maybe you come from a background full of the classic responses of, “because I said so” or “it just is.” But my own ignorance is a reason for repentance, and the humility I long to see in my children needs to be exemplified in me as their example. George Grant says that “true education is a form of repentance. It is a humble admission that we’ve not read all that we need to read, we don’t know all that we need to know, and we’ve not yet become all that we are called to become. Education is that unique form of discipleship that brings us to the place of admitting our inadequacies.”
I have learned to love the posture of humility as I honestly reply to a question with, “I do not know.” And the real joy comes when I don’t leave it there. We repent of the ignorance by then saying, “Let’s find out together.”
C.S. Lewis said, “The surest sign of true intellectual acumen is a student’s comprehension of what it is he does not know; not what he does know. It is a spirit of humility that affords us with the best opportunity to grow, mature, and achieve in the life of the mind. It is knowing how much we do not know that enables us to fully embark on a lifetime of learning; to recover to any degree the beauty goodness and truth of Christendom.”
G.K. Chesterton encourages us that it is, “Far better to seek the wisdom of the common, the ordinary, and the humble—for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Research with your kids, plumb of the depths of the unknown hand in hand, seek knowledge and instruction and wisdom together. Unhindered by arrogance. Leave pride and self-righteousness and laziness at the door. Actually, kick it right out into the back alley. Teach your children that you are walking with Solomon in the pursuit of wisdom. If you don’t know where to begin, begin with Proverbs 1. Continue through Proverbs 31. And then do it again! Read Proverbs with your children on repeat. Not because the act of simply doing it will add any jewels to your crown, but because bathing ourselves in the wisdom of God slowly saturates us with Himself. And that is ultimately what we ought to be pursuing in our motherhood, in our homeschooling, and in every other aspect of who we are.
(…continued in Aletheia, part ten…)