Sunday, June 15, 2014

For Daddy on Father's Day 2014

I am so thankful for you, Love. The way you provide for, protect, love and lead our family is an amazing gift to us. I know fulfilling this responsibility before God can be a weighty task, but you do it with humbleness, a servant's heart and much strength and patience. I love you, Cale and thank our God for you EVERYDAY!

September 2013. I need to get a more recent picture of Cale with all of the kiddos! 

From the kids:

  • Where was Daddy born? Colorado (Caleb)
  • What was Daddy's first job? We don't know, we'll have to ask him. (Caroline)
  • What was Daddy's first vehicle? Jeep that had no top (Caleb)
  • What do you think Daddy played with when he was a little boy? Legos (Caleb), He dug there and there and there! (Caroline) Cale and one of his brothers used to dig giant holes in their grandma's backyard.
  • Did Daddy go on any vacations as a boy? Where? I didn't know he took vacation. (Caroline)
  • What would Daddy's dream vacation be now? He would take all of his little ones and big ones to Sanibel. I know that! (Caroline)
Caroline and Daddy work on the chicken coop.
She hands Daddy screws and talks with him to keep him entertained. =)
  • Why are you thankful that God gave Daddy to you and not someone else? Because he's a great Daddy and he plays wrestling games with us and you do not. (Caleb)  He's our Daddy and we love him and want him to be all ours! (Caroline)  He gives us treats. He plays jail. My Dad is the best dad ever!! He loves me. (Charlotte)
  • What does he like to do in his free time? Play with the kids (Caleb and Caroline said at the same time) Work on his computer and love on you, Mama (Caleb)
  • What is his favorite snack? Diet Soda, he drinks it over and over and over (Caroline) Sugar Free! (Charlotte) This is what she calls Cale's treats. Cale is a type 1 diabetic
  • What is different about your daddy that sets him apart from others? He's kind (Caleb) He lets us have drinks of his soda (Caroline) We get to spend lots of time with him (Caleb) He loves me a lot (Caroline) 
  • What is something Daddy has done that shows he loves you? Works hard everyday to take care of our family (Caroline)
Daddy teaches Caleb how to use a drill.
The chicken coop has been a whole family job.
  • What is a scripture verse that reminds you of Daddy? David (Caleb) He thought I said someone from the Bible, Love your neighbor as yourself Mark 12:31 and we're his closest neighbors! (Caroline) I pray for Daddy every morning (Charlotte) And she truly does
  • Write one special memory you have of Daddy this year.  Can be funny or serious.                                         We went hiking to see baby falcons and one of their parents. The baby falcons were getting close to the time when they would fly off the cliff. Daddy introduced me to Ranger Rick and he hiked with us. Then after we saw the falcons Daddy and I went to a hot dog area. My belly was hurting and then I was seeing through things and then I fell over. Daddy said I passed out. Daddy got me a drink and then I felt better and I could eat a hot dog and some fries. I loved hiking with Daddy because he showed me all the nature on the trail and let me work with him. But I did not like passing out. (Caleb) 
Carson watches Daddy shave. Carson pretty much thinks Daddy is the
greatest person on the face of the planet!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Term 2014

So instead of posting what our Spring Term (formally called Term 3) was before we started it, this is what actually happened. As in, we are finishing Spring Term in 2 weeks, Lord willing.

Caleb 8, Caroline 5 (almost 6), Charlotte 3, Carson is a baby and I don't care who says otherwise (some people have had the gall to suggest he is a toddler. Ha!)

AM:
- Wake up, Get Dressed, Teeth, All Kid's Clean Rooms and Mom Gets Littles Ready and Starts Laundry, Kids Put Away Any Laundry That I Managed To Get Folded

- Breakfast (Oatmeal, Waffles, Quick Breads, Cereal) Table Chores
  • I have noticed it takes Caleb longer to finish than girls cause he has more complex chores, so next term I will be doing some work with just the girls here.
- Carson Morning Nap/Morning Time (list below was MT for Spring)
  • I have posted about this before. We have tweaked it a bit since moving, age changes, living closer to family who we do things with more often.
- Prayer (take requests, I make suggestions)
- Bible: Genesis 1-11, Many Proverbs and Psalms, Luke 19, 20, 22 and Matthew 26
- History Readings: (Didn't do all of these everyday) Mystery of History, Child's History of the World (we read this and then went to the Bible to clarify what is truth and what is evolutionist or false thinking. This has been BIG for Caleb and we have loved seeing him blossom in this area.)
- Readings that tie in Bible and History: In the Days of Noah, Life in the Great Ice Age
- Hymns: (1 New and 1 Review Daily) New were The Solid Rock and Stand Up For Jesus
- Poetry: Many Eugene Field poems, Palm Sunday by Christina Rossetti
- Memory Work: (A few new each day and a few review each day) Memory Madness (many verses in "Missions" related to certain topics like Gospel or Foundations...), Lord's Prayer, NT Books of Bible, Shorter Catechism
  • The way we do this will be changing next term. Cale and I have been discussing the best way to memorize and what we really want our kids to have hidden in their hearts. 
- Art Study: Finally finished Manet (once a week)
- Little Pilgrim's Progress (almost done, 4 chapters a week)
- Just So Stories (only do 2 of these every 6 weeks or so)
- Parables of Nature (only do 1 of these every 6 weeks or so)
- Aesop (FINISHED! we had been spreading this out for a bit now)
- Started studying the Orchestra: The Orchestra (read slowly over a few weeks), Listened to Peter and the Wolf, The Carnival of Animals
- The Family Book of Manners (once a week) Read Aloud and then Play Act situations (a BIG HIT with all the kiddos)

After MT:
- Math w Caleb (finished Right Start Level B)
  • We still love this program and have Level C on order. I will also be adding in every other day Xtra Math for facts practice. (Caleb will do this independently. I am increasing his independent work, he's more than ready. This takes around 10 mins, it's on the computer which he will love since he has no video games and we canceled Amazon Prime. I'll let you know if we like it.)
- Language Arts with Caroline: All About Reading Level 1, Early Readers, Copywork ala Charlotte Mason (letters, Capitol and Lower Case)

- Caleb Did His Own Copywork Here: This is the first term I let him chose. It was WONDERFUL!! He chose between Bible, Hymns, Poetry, Literature Readings and Aesop. I checked when he was done and we discussed mistakes. Now we just need to focus on it taking less time. (he gets distracted)
  • Every once in awhile I threw in some boring Grammar copywork. Like when to use commas in quotations, and stuff about conjunctions. Caleb got it, said it was boring. But it assuaged my mama checklist mode. I have slowly let go of this. But every now and then it bites me hard. Then I let go of it again. Really, most of it gets covered in his regular copywork. But now and then I think, "he needs to know this now or he will never be able to write when he's older and the world will come to an end and he will fail and I will fail and..." I will stay up nights worrying. So then I make him do boring copywork for a couple of days and I can sleep again. I am hoping by Caroline this will be out of my system because I will be able to see that Caleb can write a coherent sentence with all the correct puncuation and the world did not come to an end. Ha!!

Lunch:
- Table Chores, Mom does Supper Prep

- Free Time: Mainly outside play

- Afternoon Chores
  • This got switched. NOT GOOD. We need to do chores first and then Free Time. It works better for focus, making sure it actually happens, and attitudes. And this is including mama.
Quiet Time/Naps/Spelling: (2 Hours) 
- Littles Nap
- Caroline Draws, Does Legos or Plays with toy food QUIETLY (ugh). 
- Caleb did All About Spelling Level 1 with me and then was dismissed to read in his free reading chapter book and then do Legos. 
  • This will all be changing except naps for littles. Caroline has quiet issues. Caleb has requested to do his copywork here insisting he will be less distracted. I'm willing to give it a try. He will still have to do All About Spelling Level 2 with me and read in his free read chapter book as well. As for the quiet issues, still mulling that one over. It may just become a discipline issue, but that will mean I am tied up and can't help Caleb. Caroline takes some devoted time to show her that we love her and will stick to our guns. She comes by her stubbornness naturally. Sigh.
Shovel Out Time: 
- Cleaned QT areas, picked up any explosions that should have been dealt with earlier, made the house look somewhat orderly for Daddy getting home. =)

 Mom Finish Supper, Kids Play Outside
  • Carson is either happy and plays with them or he's in breakdown mode and I cook with my arms full of fussy toddler. He's a Daddy's Boy and really wants Cale to get home. I completely understand, I think Daddy's pretty spectacular too!
What you do not see here is Geography. It was planned and didn't happen, again. So we will be making it Number 2 (The Word being Number 1) priority next term. I love what's planned, it just always falls through the cracks. We have always looked up the places we are reading about on our wall maps though. And the kids have geography puzzles they do. So they are not completely at a geography loss. 
You also see no Nature Study. As in it was cold and snowy. As in it was negative temps to an extreme. As in we then moved and unpacking happened instead. 
Caleb's Books Read:
- Apple and the Arrow
- Minstrel in the Tower
- Children's Book of Virtues
- Stone Fox
- The Enormous Egg
- Leif the Lucky (then he read it to Caroline, she LOVED it)
- Any DK book he could get his hands on
- Let's Read and Find Out Books, He then completed 1 Science Journal Entry per reading (has a spiral notebook, draws and writes captions and labels for his drawing. Then he would explain it all to me.)
I'm sure there were more, but I didn't keep a very good list. 

Family Read Alouds:
- Little House on the Prairie (I LOVED Little House in the Big Woods. This one was good, but not LOVE. Caleb liked this one better. Caroline loves them both.)
- Understood Betsey (FANTASTIC!!! 5 Stars. We all agree)
- The Wizard of Oz (just ok, kids really liked)
- Benjamin's Box (mostly for the girls)
I learn more every term. Or rather, I have learned that scheduling and what works changes every term. So I am glad we do 12 week terms so that tweaks can be made and things seem new and exciting. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Season to Simplify OR we've just moved and I don't want to go crazy!

When packing a whole house in 3 weeks by one's self with 4 children, moving and then unpacking, simplifying is in order. I love plans, I love routines, I love hours of reading and discussing and time spent outdoors. But I have also learned when to simplify to save my sanity and that of those around me. It took me a bit longer not to feel guilty, but by God's grace I haven't this season!! It also helps that we school year round.

Here's some of our simplifying from our season of moving. Hope it helps someone else trying to simplify too.

Supper
(these were all AFTER we moved in and while unpacking. The kitchen was the first room unpacked. But I needed easy so that I could focus on unpacking and taking care of 3 sick kiddos the first week.)

~ Sandwiches, Fruit
~ Easy Noodle Stir Fry (spaghetti noodles, fresh carrots, broccoli, zucchini, frozen corn. Cook noodles, lightly sauté veggies, stir together, stir in soy sauce to taste. )
~ Pancakes and Sausage
~ Refried Beans, Corn Chips, Cheese (and yes ladies, canned refried beans)
~ Pepper Jack, Spinach, Mushroom Quesidillas on Whole Wheat Tortillas
~ Crockpot Pork Chops, Brown Rice, Veggies 
~ Wendy's (no Chick Fil A here, boo hoo)
~ Tokyo Joes (basically rice and veggies with a sauce of your choice)
~ Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup, Salad (canned soup here, remember it's been simplified)
~ Cheese, Crackers, Lunch Meat, Pickles, Popcorn

Cale's Nana and Papa came to visit from California in the middle of
the first two weeks of moving in. Yes, we are crazy. But it was so good to see them.
They stayed with Cale's mom who lives in a city close by.


Home Learnin' Moving Style

LIST SCHOOL:
(by "List School" I mean: I make a list each night and we do what's on it the next day. Fancy huh? I had planned our Spring Term, but then we moved. I still love our Spring Term plans and we will do them. But right now it's "List School" while we focus on unpacking and establishing new flow and routine to our days and chores.

Here is last week's List.

Abbreviated Morning Time:
~ Prayer
~ Bible: Psalms or Proverbs, whatever mama feels the day needs =)
~ Hymns: Just enjoying singing the ones we know by heart
~ Pick Two From the Following Each Day: Just So Story, Parable of Nature, 1 Chapter from Understood Betsy, Family Manners Book and then play act manners learned (I had kids take turns with narrations.)

Caroline w Mama:
~ Copywork, Daily 
~ Read 2 stories aloud to Mama, Daily (building fluency and confidence here. Not really learning new rules, unless we run across something and I just tell her what the phonogram is.)


Caleb w Mama:
~ Math, Daily
~ Spelling a few times a week (new subject, but he's a natural! I attribute much of this to very solid phonics foundation)
~ Read 1 to 2 Chapters in his current book and then come give a narration to mom, Daily
~ Read 1 Chapter in Bible (Exodus) and then come discuss w mom, Daily

Evenings: 
(Daddy does 1 of these in the evenings. And I mean late, his hours have been late since we've moved. But the kids have been sleeping in in the mornings.)
~ Big Truths For Little Kids and Questions (mainly girl's level, but Caleb still enjoys. We read it to him when he was younger.)
~ Charlotte picks 1 to 2 Songs for us to sing
~ Pray
Carson goes to bed about halfway through or sometimes at the very beginning.
There has been an adjustment period for the littles.
Carson was a bit weepy the first two weeks at the new house.

Mama:
~ Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotions LINK (on my phone through You Version Bible)
~ C.S. Lewis Abolition of Man (very slowly)
~ Andy Griffith Show (oopps, that's not schooling, but I have been watching it in bed. Cale has drifted off to sleep by then. Hopefully next week his hours calm a bit. Lots of special shoots this last week for him.)

Cale shooting from 100 feet up in a fireman's bucket. 

And to keep it really real. My kids have been watching movies on the iPad and Charlotte Mae has been enjoying Little Bear. And I mean everyday the first week we moved in. My oldest was afraid of his closet for a couple of nights (he said I could share that), Charlotte had multiple bad dreams the first week (she's fine now), Carson was waking up at 5:00 am and we were putting him in our bed (which I rather enjoyed), and Caroline spent one night blowing her nose so much I truly thought I might make her sleep on the couch (I can get a bit grumpy when awoken over and over and over again). We've also had toothpaste shot down the laundry shoot and toilet paper (it was clean), but thankfully no children. =)

**Update: We've been here a little over a month now. "List School" lasted the first three weeks of unpacking. Then we started our Spring Term! Bible study will be meeting in our home the month of April!! And we are almost completely unpacked and have over half of our stuff hung on the walls!!! I still have plenty to refigure for the new house (chores for instance), but we are settled and it feels like home. And we are getting chickens!!!!!! Something we have always wanted to do, but didn't live where we could till now. I'm sure the journey into backyard chicken farming will make the blog. But we are busy and happy and filled with thanks to our God who answers prayers and pours out blessings. So the blog will still be quiet more often than not. Because we are busy Livin', Lovin' and Learnin' together.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Moving, Again

The month of February did not end up being Hum Drum after all. In fact, it ended up being crazy busy. With packing, transferring, updating, sorting through... You know, all the things that have to happen when you are moving. Again.


We lived in one house for 6 years before we moved. Three of my babies were born there, played there, God taught us much there. Little did we know He was just beginning. (That was the beginning to the craziest 3 years of my life. But that's another post). The first was a move that was much prayed over, thought on and very hard. It changed so many things about how we lived life. That move was a step of faith that made me nervous and anxious and excited all at the same time. It felt a bit shaky. (I now know it was because I didn't really trust God or love God or know God that well. I thought I did, but ha!) But it was a step of faith that had been a long time coming, so we felt a bit more prepared.

The next move was not planned, we had no choice. We moved the day I got home from the hospital after having Carson. I do not recommend that as a plan of action. It was stressful, expensive and physically painful. It made me angry and mournful. For many reasons, but God has been teaching me to let it go. I'm sure hormones played into it all as well. And it ended up being a blessing we had not been expecting. Because we moved closer to where Cale works, to a better house for our family, but most of all because it was a pivotal part of God's plan in teaching me to rely on Him and trust Him.

This move is so very different than the two before. It has been a blur. But busy and happy. It has been a stepping out in faith in our Lord who has showed us multiple times in the past 3 crazy years that He provides bigger than our wildest imaginations. You see the first 2 moves drew us closer to Him, closer to each other and built trust. Those moves, along with the other things the Lord has walked me through these past 3 years, have shown me that His promises are true. That He can be trusted, that His love is not able to be expressed in words. So this move, that would have sent me over the edge in the past, has been peaceful. And I tell you, as I type that I smile. It is almost unbelievable, but so amazing. God is like that.

We move this Saturday. I've been packing non stop, just me and the 4 kiddos. God has paved the way. We love the house we are moving into. We have family and friends in the town we are moving to. We have a church home that is an answer to prayers. And I mean years of prayers. I am praying that this will be home. Where we can stay for longer than 12 months, hang pictures on the walls, make the nooks and crannies our own, have Bible study, meals with family and friends...

The longer I walk with God the more I long to be in His will. If it's not His plan I want to be as far away from it as possible. This heart change has made following Him much easier. Not physically easier, that actually seems to have gotten harder in many ways, but emotionally easier. God has brought peace to my soul in big ways in the last 3 years. I guess trials do that. Bring you to the cross. Sometimes they smash you hard and sure, smack dab into it. So we move again. We go where He tells us to go. And we wait expectantly to see what He will bring!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Family Worship

Our family has not always done family worship. In fact, we used to be teachers and then coordinators for ages 2 to 6 in Sunday School. But as the Lord blessed us with more children and as Cale and I grew in our understanding of what worship is in the Bible our hearts began to change. God lead us to worship as a family. 

So much has been written on this topic. There are books, blog posts, sermons. Bible verses have been quoted (And I'm not discounting them at all because it's the Word of God, so therefore truth, and it is my goal to follow that. Plus those verses are what will change your heart in this mater!) Studies have been done to show how Family Worship verses Sunday School affects children and whether they stay in the faith. Even documentaries have been made. 


But as I look at other families, see other mamas and their precious blessings, my heart wanted to write on Family Worship from a different perspective. The perspective of a wife following her husband's leading in this matter. A mama training her children about what it means to worship the Lord at church on Sunday, going through a season where I have multiple littles and it would be so much easier to do the Sunday School thing. I wanted to write about why it's worth it, even though it's HARD.


Kathleen Nelson (a mama of 8 who I always love listening to wisdom from) often talks about positioning your kids in front of the Holy Spirit. When you worship as a family that’s exactly what you are doing. Yes, it is HARD work. You are going to have to leave in the middle of the sermon to take someone potty, even if you made them all go beforehand. Yes, you will have to stand in back and pace with tired babies. Yes, you will have to go to the cry room to nurse. You will repeatedly have to remind littles to sit still, now is not the time to talk we need to listen. There will be times when you have to remove a stubborn child to discipline. But all that hard work, all the times you can’t really pay attention is so worth it. Because you are positioning yourself and your children in front of the Holy Spirit. His presence is strong when the Saints are gathered together on Sunday morning to worship Him. 


Your children see Daddy and Mama following the Lord. They see other families, young people, older people following and worshiping the Lord. They are learning how to worship the Lord when they see this. They hear all the Saint’s voices lifted up to Him in praise. And even your youngest ones will hum or sing along. They hear the Word spoken and prayers murmured. And even if you think they are not paying attention because they are drawing in their notebooks or sucking their thumbs snuggled up to dad. We can remember that God’s Word never goes out void


Our three year old will hear a memory verse and recognize it and get excited because, "I know that verse, mama!" Our 5 year old hears the word justification and asks later, "what does justification mean?" Our 8 year old listens and remembers that he read Paul’s testimony in his Bible and had talked about it with Dad. Now he feels connected to what the preacher is teaching that morning. Even our 14 month old claps his hands when a song is over. 


And as our children get older they can have concrete meaning for what the Lord’s Supper is. Even if they do not yet partake of it, they see others doing so and know that this is what is meant by, this is my body which is broken for you. They can drop their own coins into the collection plate and know that this is what it feels like to trust the Lord with their tithes

Family worship makes worship real. Not just something talked about by adults or maybe even taught in Sunday School. Your children are actually singing the hymn, watching the baptism, turning the pages in the Word. They are a physical part of the Body, worshiping the Lord together with their family and other families, not off in another room.

Is it hard? You bet! But then, to everyone that has been given much much will be demanded. And even if we spend most of our Sunday mornings training our children and rocking our babies, we can know that this is what God has for us today. It is all part of His plan to teach us that by serving others (our children) we are truly learning how to worship Him.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hum Drum

It's the end of January. The dreaded February is around the corner. February is normally such a hum drum month for me. It's still winter. We live in Colorado so I know spring is far away. (think Mother's Dayish) It's cold and snowy and I feel like all I'm doing is checking off lists. Or not checking them off and I wish I could. I guess I can tend to get in a funk around this time. This year I'm stocking up on good sermons to listen to, some house tasks I've wanted to get accomplished, good read alouds for the kids, and some fun outings we can take. Anything to make February less hum drum.

Caroline got a sock puppet book for Christmas. Here is the pig Charlotte Mae and Caroline made. I helped by sewing the ears. Not as easy as you'd think.

And that is one of the reasons the blog has been so quiet. I'm just not taking many pics. Those I am taking are with my phone and they're probably only interesting to me. Since I'm the mama that is. We are going about our days, but that's really how it is. Just going about our day.
A very busy boyo.

13 months, in his brother's rocking chair, that used to be his daddy's.


Looking at the snow.

We are finishing up with Term 2. In fact we are farther ahead than I thought we would be. We've been finishing many of our books that we have been reading since Term 1. So that's been a bit bittersweet. But it is exciting that we will be starting new ones! Term 3 is planned. Most of the supplies are gathered, but not organized. 


All that's left other than the basics. 

Manet, The Fifer. Caleb's favorite this term.


Geography fun. Scrambled States of America.

The house could use a good emptying out. As in putting stuff in it's place or getting rid of it. But the "in it's place" parts are a bit chaotic, so I need to address that. And sometimes I wish I could just pick the house up and shake it out and start from scratch. But if we did that right now everything would land in the snow. And it's too cold to be out there sorting it all out. =)



We've taken to calling it, "the messy counter." That's pretty bad when it's been so long that it now has a name.


So if anyone has the solution for the February Hum Drums, let me know. Because February is just around the corner.

Charlotte Mae's FAVORITE book right now. Can I just say that I love that my 3 year old is into Robert Frost!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Desiring the Kingdom: Love, The Imagination and Stories

I was just looking at my blog and it seems that the only thing I've been writing about lately is Desiring the Kingdom, the book club that Mystie is hosting for the next few months. Although the blog is reflecting that that's all that's going on in our family or my mind, we are doing and thinking on other things. =)

In no particular order some of them are:

  • A trip to the Science and Nature Museum
  • Barf, Barf, Barf (as in children doing this)
  • Laundry, Laundry, Laundry (as in what mama does because of the barf)
  • Little House on the Prairie (I don't think I ever get tired of that series)
  • Sunny Skies and Cold Wind 
  • Lots of time in Galatians as a family. Is there anything better than reading the Gospel and seeing your children discover a deeper love and knowledge of who God is!!
  • A little boy who walks, walks, walks! You know how little ones first walk and it looks like they are inebriated and that their bodies are sort of propelled forward apart from their minds. I never get tired of seeing this with each kiddo we have. Oh how I smile and laugh. 


Ok, moving on. This is Chapter 1 pgs. 46 thru 55. Hopefully I can do another post on pgs 55- 63 (I have to read them first). 
"One might say that in our everyday, mundane being in the world, we don't lead with our head, we lead with our heart and hands."
I'm starting with this because I feel it so captures the job, or mission if you will, of a mama.  We are the hearts and hands of love to our children. We are Jesus' love, our love and how our children learn love. And we left off last time with the thought that our orientation to the world is love. 

I agree with Smith when he says that we are ultimately creatures driven by what and who we love and that our love is aiming at something. 
"To be human is to love, and it is what we love that defines who we are."
Smith is of course not speaking of loving fried okra, sweet tea, foot rubs or BBC. Although I do love all of those things. He is speaking of our ultimate love, what/who we worship. 
"To be human is to be the kind of creature who is oriented by this kind of primal, ultimate love - even if we never really reflect on it."
To not reflect on it is such a scary thought. I spent much of my "young adulthood" never giving any of this a bit of reflection. Which would explain most of the mistakes and foolish choices I made. And now my goal is to spend most of my time reflecting on who and what I love. Everyday that I read The Word, each time we take a nature walk, read a poem, bathe my kids, wipe mouths, read Little House on the Prairie, spank bottoms, give big hugs, wipe tears, clean puke, tie shoes and pray over owies I reflect on this love. Each day that I discuss the bigger truths behind something that my oldest and I have read or a decision he's making, it's all about reflecting on Who we love and what that love motivates us to do. 

Smith says it like this,
"At the end of the day, if asked why we do this (he's speaking of our actions, relationships, sacrifices, enjoyments) ultimately we rub up against the limits of articulation even though we "know" why we do it: it's because of what we love."
Now back to that thought of our love aiming at something. 
"The structure of love can take different directions, which means that our love can also be misdirected. It depends upon how our love is aimed... At the heart of our being is a kind of "love pump" that can never be turned off - not even by sin or the Fall; rather, the effect of sin on our love pump is to knock it off kilter, misdirecting it and getting it aimed at the wrong things."
We will all aim our love at the wrong things more than once in our lives (thus our strong need for Jesus) and we need to know how to recognize this, repent and take aim again in the right direction. 

What can help us aim our love in the right direction? The capturing of our hearts and imaginations. 
"This is why such pictures (he's referring to the picture of what we think living well looks like) are communicated most powerfully in stories, legends, myths, plays, novels and films rather than dissertations, messages and monographs. Because we are affective before we are cognitive, and even while we are cognitive, visions of the good get inscribed in us by means that are commensurate with our affective, imaginative nature."
Which is why I so strongly believe that our job as parents is not just protecting our children from the "bad" pictures. We have to intentionally give them the "good" pictures as well. (This also applies to ourselves.) And this is exactly what we are striving for in our home when I write of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, why we do Morning Time and why we believe God led us to a Charlotte Mason education

Cindy, from Ordo Amoris said,
"Music is for listening. Art is for seeing. Poetry is for loving. History is for tethering. Stories are for virtue. Let's not make this harder than it has to be."
That has become part of my mantra for education. It is so simple and yet so powerful. Music, art, poetry, history, stories and I'm adding nature - they all capture the heart and the imagination and make truths real. And there is nothing more I want for myself or my children than that they know the truth, believe the truth and LOVE the truth. In all of the Lord's beautiful ways of showing it to us!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Desiring the Kingdom: Ideas, Beliefs and Love

Mystie is hosting a book club on Desiring the Kingdom that I'm a bit late in the game with because of sick kiddos. But I did want to do a quick bullet point post of sorts. Mainly to organize my thoughts before the next section.


Smith writes:
"Behind every pedagogy is a philosophical anthropology, a model or picture of the human person." 
He asks three questions"
"What are human beings? What kinds of creatures are we? What are we called to be?"
I am in complete agreement with his thoughts here. I don't know if I'm in complete agreement with his conclusions. I need to read more to fully understand his thinking. But yes, we need to know the answers to these questions from God's point of view, so that we can raise our children and love them in the way that would form them into who God has created them to be. This would of course include how we "educate" them.

~~~~~~~

Smith seems to be focusing on parts of what Charlotte Mason says educations is. 
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life."
These 3 parts of education are what form a person. They include our home, our church, our habits and ideas. 

It seems he has decided facts and ideas go together or get into a person in the same way.
"As such, what nourishes or fuels the "I" is a steady diet of ideas, fed somewhat intravenously into the mind through lines of propositions and information."
I don't really agree with this. Charlotte Mason does a lovely job of describing ideas vs facts and the two nourish the person in a different way and are fed to a person in a different way. Ideas are not fed to a person, "intravenously into the mind by lines of propositions and information" as Smith states. 

Instead, 
"Ideas must reach us directly from the mind of the thinker, and it is chiefly by the means of the books they have written that we get in touch with the best minds." 
Maybe Smith should spend some time reading Mason! Then he would not feel the need to throw ideas out with the facts. 

~~~~~~~

I think (but I need to go back and reread some of what Smith wrote) that he does agree that we need to believe before liturgy (actions). But that emphasis on belief is not enough. Although honestly, I do believe he likes to hear himself talk or "write" as the case may be. Because he's taking his sweet wordy time getting there. 

And this is part of what I was aiming at in my previous post. Belief/ changed heart must come first. Then the actions/liturgies. So this did help flesh out more of what Smith was thinking. But then it almost seems as if he is thinking this and then goes and says something else. 

If you read the comments from Mystie's post, Brandy mentions this and uses the "believe and be baptized" verse from Mark 16 to illustrate. 

~~~~~~~

As for emphasis on belief not being enough to form a person when choosing a pedagogy of education, Smith writes:
"...our knowing is governed and conditioned by constellations of belief that are more primordial than our ideas. So the criticism is not a rejection; rather, the point is that the emphasis on belief does not go far enough."

This thought I love!
"We still get a somewhat stunted anthropology that fails to appreciate that our primordial orientation to the world is not knowledge, or even belief, but love."
Yes! Whatever pedagogy of education we use, the emphasis should be love. 

Love sums up the two greatest commandments.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30
"The second most important command is this, love your neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:31 
Love is eternal. 
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." 1 Corinthians 13:7-8
 And God is love. 
"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:8

On to the next part of Chapter 1. 





Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Desiring the Kingdom: Introduction

**Update: Read the comments on this post. There are some great ones that really got me thinking and in the Word so that I could respond!**

I am going to try and participate with the Desiring the Kingdom book club over at Mystie's blog. Notice I say try. Basically I will post when I can and not stress if I can't. That's how life often goes with 4 kiddos.

Normally I am not a big fan of Introductions. I want to get to the point of the book I'm excited to read. But Smith's Introduction was invaluable to me for a few reasons.

One, I could tell right of the bat that I am going to have to realign Smith's vocabulary in my mind. He seems to be using the word "mind"and "ideas" not as Miss Mason does, but more like how I would use the word "brain" and "facts." And when I try and keep this in mind (ha, ha) then the meaning behind some of his thoughts actually have his intended affect. But I do have to say this is taking some getting used to. There were one or two other instances, but these were the big ones.

Another reason his introduction proved helpful was that I can see that I agree with some of his thoughts and am quite skeptical about others. Or at least I'm going to need much deeper clarification. And then there were some of his thoughts I was in total disagreement with.

Agree:
"What if education wasn't first and foremost about what we know, but about what we love?"
"... how we think about distinctly Christian education would not be primarily a matter of sorting out which Christian ideas to drop into eager and willing mind receptacles; rather, it would become a matter of thinking about how a Christian education shapes us, forms us, molds us to be a certain kind of people whose hearts and passions and desires are aimed at the kingdom of God. And that will require sustained attention to the practices that effect such transformation." 
"If education is primarily formation...then that means education is happening all over the place (for good and ill)."
"The goal is to get us to appreciate what's at stake in both (he's referring to the goal of his book)- nothing less than the formation of radical disciples who desire the kingdom of God." 
"...public schools and universities bent on churning our "skilled workers" that see their task primarily as providing information, because behind this is a vision of the good life that understands human flourishing primarily in terms of production and consumption."  
"Being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines into your head in order to guarantee proper behavior; rather, it's a matter of being the kind of person who loves rightly- who loves God and neighbor and is oriented to the world by that primacy of that love."
None of this is new to those who have read the Bible or any of Charlotte Mason's writings though. 


Skeptical or Outright Disagree:

Smith seems to be separating parts of the person, the mind from the heart, the body from the mind, etc. I am quite skeptical about his insistence on this. The body, mind and heart are all intertwined. They work together and God can use any of our parts to shape our hearts and to form a person. In fact, Smith seems to be putting quite the bit of focus on the pedagogy we chose to educate with doing the shaping of the heart. 

When we start with our hearts in the right place (because of the gospel and Jesus' work), then these pedagogies can play a role in helping to form a person. But if our heart is not where it needs to be since we are all sinners, totally depraved, deserving of death then I cannot understand how he arrives at the thought that the liturgy could shape the heart.

Smith states that, 
"Liturgies aim our love to different ends precisely by training our hearts through our bodies."
"An education, then is a constellation of practices, rituals, and routines than inculcates a particular vision of the good life by inscribing or infusing that vision into the heart (the gut) by means of material, embodied practices."  
"The liturgy is a "heart and minds" strategy, a pedagogy that trains us as disciples by putting our bodies through a regimen of repeated practices that get ahold of our heart and "aim" our love toward the kingdom of God."
He is saying that the liturgy the body is doing over and over again is leading to the heart shaping. If you do not have the heart first, then the liturgy is just a set of rules or laws being followed. Or something you do because you're parents told you to if you are taking a younger person into consideration. (I'll come back to this younger person part)

If you think on the Pharisees, they were filled with liturgical practices. But their hearts were hard. The liturgies were not shaping their hearts at all. I know this because Jesus can see into a person's heart and he states this to be the case with the Pharisees. 

But if you start with the right heart first, then the liturgy can be very powerful and filled with meaning. The liturgy can help shape those good habits, can help bring comfort and can even bring you closer to God. I see this in our Morning Time for example or the practice of reading the Word every day or the singing of the Doxology before our lunchtime. 

Now back to the younger person part. We have all of our children participate in some liturgies, younger and older. But the liturgy is for the habit shaping NOT the heart shaping when it comes to the littles. Then as they get older we will present doctrine/worldview and ideas as they are able to understand them.We hope that as their hearts are changed these liturgies will bring comfort and even help to deepen their love of the Lord. Not that the liturgies will bring the heart change into effect.

Ok, moving on. 

Smith writes that worldview reduces us into thinking/cognitive beings. That worldview is about Christian faith being a set of ideas, principals, claims and correct thinking. He says this is a mistake to chose or focus on this pedagogy. That this makes us seem like containers for ideas and that our bodies are nonessential. (you can see exact quotes on pg. 32) Here is the part where I outright disagree. That part that really worries me about his thinking.
"This is why such construals of a Christian worldview are also dualistic: they tend to assume a distinction between our souls and our bodies... But what if our bodies are essential to our identities?...What if the core of our identity is located more in the body than the mind?"
There is a distinction between our souls and our bodies!! Our souls are immortal and our bodies are mortal. Our bodies will one day return to dust. Our souls will live forever, whether in Heaven with our Lord or they will spend eternity in Hell. So no, the core of our identity is not in something mortal like our bodies. It is in our souls!

This is very dangerous thinking and one reason doctrine is important (and I am not saying that only the pedagogy of doctrine is the way to shape our hearts either, no). Any liturgy that we practice with these thoughts in mind could only lead to major confusion and could even lead to a belief in lies. 

Do I believe that education is about formation versus information. Most definitely! Do I believe that education should be about what we love or who we love versus what we know. Yes! Yes! But I think that a pedagogy of education that uses both doctrine/worldview and liturgy has the best chance of helping to form/shape a person who has a heart that is right with God through Jesus Christ. I believe that we need to take the whole person (body, mind and heart) into account when thinking about education. Which is why his thoughts on the body being so much more important seem odd to me. As well as dangerous in some accounts as I said above.

So why read this book? Honestly, liturgy is not my strong suit and I do see great value in it when viewed correctly. The liturgical practices we do follow add such comfort to our lives and really bring love of the Lord into focus.

So I am excited to see how Smith fleshes out his thoughts on liturgy being used in education. I am hoping that he begins combining the liturgical practices with the whole person. I will just be filtering his ideas through what the Lord says about our hearts and minds. 





Friday, January 3, 2014

Hodgepodge December 2013

So I had some family members say, "you posted your 2014 Goals, but what about Christmas?" So this is post for them. =)

We had a lovely Christmas. But we have also had a month of sickness (part of Dec and the 3 days of Jan so far). Croup, Head Colds, Stomach Virus... God did give us a healthy Christmas Eve and Christmas day though. He is always so gracious to us, I love Him so! 

Christmas Eve

Stockings

Presents

Christmas Morning Carnage

Family!

Before Croup Crafts



Charlotte Mae's 

Croup

Caleb Conlan, Sunday Morning Greeter

Today is the first day we've been barf free for awhile. Hopefully it stays that way. Everyone was hit with the stomach virus except Daddy. We still have children who are quite puny, some that are quite cranky and I have enough laundry to catch up on for the rest of January. But all of the bathrooms are VERY clean. 

If you would like to read something more exciting, I'd check out our 2014 Goals. I am really looking forward to healthy people and returning to schedules and growing our hearts and minds in Him this year!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goals for 2014 Or Growing By the Grace of the Lord

I have never ever in my whole life set New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve always had goals for myself and the children. Some highly thought out, others just blindingly apparent and so they got done. But this last year and a half I have really let the goal area slide. We had a newborn, we moved, my mom had serious health issues, my dad passed away, we changed church and worship for our family. It was a busy year and a half. 

But I don’t feel like I’m living in a fog anymore. Praise God for that! We are busy, things are not perfect, but God’s blessings have been abundant. And I mean truly, amazingly abundant! So my mind and heart have been longing to get back to goals and growth. Since it’s the New Year I’ll just call them resolutions. But really they are goals that I pray go past the year 2014 and become heart change and ingrained habits for us all. With the Lord it is possible and all glory goes to Him. 


GOALS!

Virginia Lee:
  • Grow in relationship (not just head knowledge, but a soft heart) with the Lord.
    • Focused time in the gospel
    • Read through whole Bible in a year
    • Read through Romans multiple times 
    • Read and Study book of Galatians, using Timothy Keller's, Galatians For You
    • Finish Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent
    • Memory Madness scripture memorization with the family.
  • Grow reliance on the Lord in mothering, specifically in gentleness with tone of voice and words spoken to my children.
    • Make Truth Pack of verses and truths to do with being a mama.
    • Listen to my "To Listen To" list of sermons/conferences on motherhood.
    • Read through Proverbs multiple times (greatest mothering book there is). 
  • Undertake diligent reading to grow heart and mind. 
    • I used to be an avid reader, this changed the more babies I had. Now I can easily lean towards mind candy: tv shows, too much computer time, etc vs mind food. This is a bad habit to get into and sets a poor example for my children. I have truly become lazy in this area and do not like it. Reading books filled with His word and real ideas is how to make this growth happen. So here you will see quality vs quantity. I have a large TBR pile and I’d love to see some progress made there. But I really want to absorb the books. So I will be reminding myself to read slowly, stop and think, discuss with Cale or on blog.
  • Improve meal planning, grocery shopping, consistent supper making (eat out less), have kids in kitchen with me more intentionally vs spur of moment. 
    • Master Pantry List: If I keep all the items on hand all I should have to do is buy meat and produce that is on sale. Then I could make any meals from Master Meal List that use that meat or produce.
    • Master Meal List: Breakfast, Lunch and Supper (Only using ingredients from Master Pantry List. But we need variety, healthy and LOTS.)
    • Kitchen Day: 1 Day of week to do lots of ahead of time prep, bake and freeze for week, etc
    • Plug in Meal Plan: Once I get home from grocery and know what meat and produce I have I want to be able to look at meals and plug in easily and quickly, taking into consideration our needs for the week.

Caleb, 8/9 Years Old:
  • Grow personal relationship with the Lord. 
    • Independent daily Bible reading and journaling (I’m talking a couple of sentences here or a verse copied from his reading, even an illustration.)
    • Memory Madness scripture memorization with family.
    • Listening, narrating and discussing The Word with dad and mom during Morning Time and Family Worship. (He actually does a wonderful job with these. We want to keep growing these good habits.)
    • Working through book of Galatians with Dad.
  • Read MORE on his own in the day. Poetry is for loving, history is for tethering and stories are for virtue. From Cindy at Ordo Amoris
    • Books from the booklist Dad and Mom have made.
    • Books of his choosing. Which would be lots of non fiction: history, biographies and nature,  science/nature stories and fiction filled with lots of adventure.
  • Grow in self discipline, work ethic and responsibility.
    • Sunday night meetings with Dad or Mom to lay out expectations for week and pray about or discuss anything on Caleb's mind. He will get to stay up later than the others so this is also a privilege. He is the oldest and being the oldest comes with more responsibility, but also more privileges.
    • Daily checklist of chores: These are not changing. I am just writing them down and expecting Caleb to complete his chores at the assigned times without me reminding or prodding. This is an area that I have really not given over to him the way I need to. He has chores, he does them each day. But I tell him to get started, I remind him if he's not on task, I check in and so forth. Basically I've been enabling.  That will be stopping now. I will inspect and give the yay or nay and appropriate consequences if needed. The rest is up to him. And I think he's up to it!
    • Daily checklist of independent schoolwork.
    • Scheduled time each day where I check Caleb's list, listen to narrations, and provide accountability. 

Caroline, 5/6 Years Old:
  • Continue to work on learning to read. 
  • Start Copywork 
    • Quality vs Quantity. This girl loves to write and write and write. But we need to focus on mastery of letter formation and neat handwriting. She is excited about this.
  • Build her faith and knowledge in the Lord. Caroline LOVES God! Her heart is so very full of Him. She is now old enough to really learn more about Him.
    • Memory Madness scripture memorization with family.
    • Fully participating in listening, narrating and discussions of Bible in Morning Time and Family Worship.
    • One on one time with mom working through the book of Galatians.
  • Grow in ladylike manners, work ethic with chores (she works very hard in every other area) and obedience without comments.
    • Tea Times with mom to discuss and practice the above. We want to really reach her heart in these areas. 
    • Consistent Discipline 

Charlotte, 3/4 Years Old:
  • Break thumbsucking and bellybutton habit. 
  • Grow in happy attitude. She can be grumpy and whiney. 
    • Charlotte is an introvert in a house of extroverts (except her daddy.) So this is part of the issue. Chaos and noise is very draining for her. But I have also babied her and not set the bar high enough for how she speaks to others. I also need to make sure she gets her needed sleep (she needs more than others in the house) and recognize when she needs some alone time and provide that for her. All of these things play into the grumpy and whiney attitude. She is not a baby and I need to stop thinking she is. 
    • Lots of loving and snuggling with Mama and Daddy. I may need to stop thinking of her as a baby. But the loving and snuggling need not stop!
  • Keep developing her love of the Lord. 
    • Memory Madness scripture memorization with family.  (she is amazing at this!)
    • Bible stories, Bible songs (she loves our Morning Time hymns)
  • Read Aloud to daily from her reading list (picture books, Bible stories, poetry, etc)

Carson, 1 Year Old:
  • Obedience
  • Read Aloud to Daily 
    • Picture books, nursery rhymes, Bible
  • Feel loved and loved and loved! 
    • For Carson this means play time and bedtime snuggles.
  • Grow

While setting these goals I also kept this in mind:
Start the new year committed to beginning where you are, not where you wish you were. Start the new year ready to move in good directions, not hoping to arrive at the end before you’ve begun. From Mystie at Simply Convivial
And will continue to remind myself as the year progresses.