Homeschool

Saint Patrick’s Day

How is it that we as a culture can take the celebration of a missionary who dedicated his life to serving God in a particular country and turn it into a huge marketing, sales driven, buy stuff to “celebrate” kind of day? Teachers in schools teach about leprechauns and how they break in and destroy things and even pee green (this is truly the experience my oldest had in kindergarten at school). Most people don’t even know the true history of the holiday… I admit, I didn’t know it until recently, when I decided to actually research and read about it.

One of our history books for home school is entitled, “Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History.” It gives an accurate, brief history of Christianity, starting where the book of Acts leaves off. There is a chapter about Patrick, Missionary to the Irish, and if you have the time to read it, you can view the chapter here . Enjoy a piece of our Christian heritage!

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
-Romans 5:3-5

“The Clod and The Pebble”

The Clod and The Pebble
by William Blake.

“Love seeketh not itself to please,

Nor for itself hath any care,

But for another gives its ease,

And builds a heaven in hell’s despair.”

So sung a little clod of clay,

Trodden with the cattle’s feet;

But a pebble of the brook

Warbled out these meters meet:

“Love seeketh only Self to please,

To bind another to its delight,

Joys in another’s loss of ease,

And builds a hell in heaven’s despite.”

Oh to have the mindset and heart of a clod of clay… the dirt of the earth, that is “trodden by cattle.” It is amazing how a humbled heart, spirit, and heart can have a proper perspective of love. When pride and selfishness become the forefront of our thinking and beliefs, we become as hard as the pebble… stubborn and full of self. I pray to be able to “build a Heaven in Hell’s despair” for another…for my mind and heart to be equipped to encourage by being in God’s Word, allowing Him to shape and mold me… this clod of clay.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

-Isaiah 64:8

clod-of-clay

“Parables from Nature” Part II

So I’m finally getting back to writing “Part II.” I know that I’ve been in need of a refreshing of my soul and mind… perhaps through sharing what I have enjoyed and loved learning from this latest chapter in Parables from Nature that I will have a renewed peace and joy myself. I just want to say thank you to those of you who do read what I lay out in such open space (I mean, really… this is the world wide web!). I truly value and appreciate all comments and feedback. You all have been a blessing to me!

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! – Psalm 150:6

The chapter is entitled The Voices of the Earth from Parables from Nature. The author’s creativity in sharing a new perspective of nature having thoughts and yes, purpose, is so enlightening. The two elements, the Wind and Earth (Mountains and Valleys, etc), are in conflict with one another. The wind is basically frustrated with the world and longs to “cease to be”. The Mountains and Valleys declare to the maddened wind, “[you have] the privilege of refreshing the earth and its inhabitants, why turn aside to hold judgment and condemn? Enough that thou fulfill thine own appointed work, and, in so doing, exist to the glory of the Creator.” Yet the Wind decides to share it’s burdens and misery.

“It is for the honour of man, and the glory of his Creator, that I am so troubled…For even now, in these my days of misery, I carry out unwearyingly the great decree. Still I bear aloft from tropical seas, in ceaseless revolution round the world, those vapours which must descend in northern latitudes a dew, or rain, or snow. Still I labour – still I love to labour in the way ordained. But woe for me! another burden than labour is upon me now! Woe for the pollution I have suffered, since the earth was overspread by the wretched race of men! Woe for their civilised lands, which I must needs pass through! Woe for the cities, and towns, and villages, their haunts and habitations, which I cannot avoid! Woe! for I bear thence in my bosom the blasphemies of the multitudes, and am laden with the burden of ingratitude, denial, and doubt. Woe that I must spread these black results of misguided reason from pole to pole! Woe that I must carry up the jests of the scorner and the oaths of the intemperate, as incense from man to his Maker: from man formed in His image, and boasting in his faculties of sense! Oh that I could pass away and cease from being! and that with me might perish these fruits of an evil heart of unbelief!”

Wow. What truth is written in these words. There is discussion back and forth between the Wind and Mountains and Valleys, the Mountains and Valleys always pointing towards God and the good that is on Earth. In a final outcry, the Mountains and Valleys share:

“Count the laughs of frolic childhood. Count the murmurs of happy love. Count the stars if thou wilt, but thou canst never count the daily outpourings of common earthly joys. Alas for those who judge of life only by startling periods, and are deaf to the still small voices, which tell of hourly mercies, hour by hour!

This chapter was full of realities of our world today, yet abounds with hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, for mercies afresh, and for love to prevail, as God’s Word proclaims. What will the Wind carry from your city? Or your neighborhood? What about your home? And even from your own mouth? These are difficult questions that cause one to ponder their purpose and daily living. What can I do to make a difference? I encourage to first ask God, seek Him in His Word (the Bible) and pray. There are many opportunities to join Him in His work wherever you live. I challenge all of us to set a goal that will honor our Creator. Even just one step, one change, can make a difference in this World. I pray that you are refreshed, encouraged and have a new sense of hope!

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in You. – Psalm 33:20-22

pretty-bird-1

“Parables from Nature” Part I

A book we occasionally read in school is Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty. I have truly enjoyed the stories or parables creatively written (probably more than the children :-) ). I’d like to first share a section from the Preface that helps explain the premise of the book…

“There are two books, “says Sir Thomas Browne, in his Religio Medici, “from whence I collect my divinity; besides that written one of God, another of His servant, Nature – that universal and public manuscript that lies expanded unto the eyes of all: those that never saw Him in the one have discovered Him in the other.” And afterwards, as if giving a particular direction to the above general statement, he adds: “Those strange and mystical transmigrations that I have observed in silkworms turned my philosophy into divinity. There is in these works of Nature, which seem to puzzle reason, something diving, and hath more in it than the eye of a common spectator doth discover.”

How amazing that God, in all His majesty and glory, reveals Himself to us, mere human beings, through spiders spinning a web, trees glistening with dew, wind causing the leaves on trees to dance… the list goes on and on. His Creation is calling to us and this book beautifully shares perspectives of Nature and their call to us to look to the Lord.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.
-Romans 1:19-20

Butterfly on flower

Sunday Recreation

Ah… Sundays. We truly love Sunday. The church we attend, Grace, has a Saturday night service which we enjoy going to. This leaves our Sundays for family and a day to recreate, play and yes, sometimes work on projects around the house. I am very blessed to be married to someone who is an excellent cook and enjoys making food! Especially pancakes! This morning, my husband created some scrumptious blueberry, strawberry & chocolate chip pancakes! We had a great breakfast and savored the joy of having breakfast together and not feeling rushed to be anywhere!

After our leisure meal, the kids began to play. They invented a new game together where they set up a “post office” and Jonas was the post man. Evelyn would create notes and cards to be delivered to our “houses” within our home. They set up a little house for Elliot and would deliver mail to him as well as Daddy and to myself. This game lasted for a good 3 hours. I was amazed at how well they played and creatively used their imagination. Not once did they come and complain to us saying they were bored and didn’t have anything to do… or ask to watch T.V. Once they were done with their post office game, they moved to the outdoors as it had warmed up nicely.

Don’t get me wrong, our kids are definitely not perfect and there were rough moments in our day today, I am just sharing my humble gratitude for my children and their joy in creative free play. With all the expensive toys and games that are so prevalent, we have decided not to indulge in these items which are not a necessity. One of priorities for our children is to instill lifelong character traits, qualities that are not instilled or learned through sitting in front of a screen, playing video games, or having the latest and greatest. Learning to creatively use our imagination is seeming to become a lost value of home life for American families. We all have weak moments, our family is still learning and growing in the values we wish to instill for our home.

But if we love our children and care about the future of their families, we can keep pressing forward and learning, being stretched even ourselves as parents in our own character qualities (or poor traits). We cannot forget that no matter how old we are, there is something to be learned. I myself as a parent, must be willing to be taught… from God, others and even nature. Part of what brings me great joy is knowing that there is much to learn; a never ending wellspring of wisdom abounds within the Bible; this world we live in is full of life and experiences in which we can grow and glean knowledge; and there are people! How much have you learned in your life from being in relationship with others? God is so amazing and wonderful! He gives us multiple resources for growing in our knowledge and our wisdom. I believe He longs for all of these elements to point towards Him. In all you do, may it be for His glory!

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
-Psalm 57:10-11

Planning Day

Well, the big kids (Jonas & Evelyn) will be heading home later today from a fun filled weekend at Disney World with Grandma & Grandpa Werner! So, it’s just me and Elliot for today and I’m hoping to use some quality time to get some daily planning done for school. Fortunately, the curriculum site we use is great as it gives us a weekly framework for the full year. Check out our 3rd grade schedule here.

The daily schedule has been something I have slacked in for most of this school year but I did use it last year and found it very helpful for having a visual daily goal of how many pages to read, math problems to work through, etc. I’m an excel junkie, so this is my program for charting out a schedule. My priority is remembering that it is not in stone!! Things come up during the day as we’re learning and reading… Elliot has a potty accident, the dog freaks out barking at someone else walking their dog in front of our house (how dare they!), or we get hungry for lunch at 11 am! We’re still getting back on track after all the Holiday time off and play catch up a bit from the early pregnancy days when all I wanted to do was stay in bed or curl up in a ball. Thankfully, I feel like a new woman and am excited about jumping fully head on back into school.

I am greatly blessed to see the kids respond and enjoy reading and learning together when we have focused time (and mommy actually feels better). My hope is that the planning removes the stress and fear of “are we behind?” or “where are we in this term?” and moves me towards trusting we will accomplish what we need to accomplish this day and that tomorrow is a new day (and that I can physically see what items we need to move to the next day)! I am humbly reminded of God’s mercies made new everyday… “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23 His faithfulness to us is what spurs me on to continue in our endeavor of homeschooling… to be faithful to what He has called us to in this season. I ask for His help today as I plan and organize our schedule!

Back to School!

New year, new books!  We are back in full swing with school and we are excited to be starting some new books!!  I am such a book lover… new or old, I love books!  The first shipment just came today and I’m ready to get started on them… Just in case you’re interested, some of the titles are: “American Tall Tales” by Adrien Stoutenburg, “Our Island Story” by H.E. Marshall (we actually have been using this book for the last 2 years of school, but it has been borrowed and I’m excited to finally have our very own copy!), “Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare”  by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema, “Leonardo Da Vinci” by Diane Stanley, and “Michelangelo” by Diane Stanley.  Diane Stanley writes wonderful biographies for children… the illustrations are beautiful, she is truly an author of “living books.”  Our homeschool curriculum fully consists of living books and the Charlotte Mason philosophy. For more information on a living education and Charlotte Mason’s 20 principles and a synopsis of her educational method, click here. Happy new year, happy reading!