Tuesday, May 25, 2010

School's Out for the Summer?

I'm all of a sudden hearing people talk about the school year being over.

Honestly, I'm quite oblivious to it. While I know some homeschooling moms who plan every moment of their school year (months in advance), I'm just not that way!

For our family, education is life, and life is education. Sitting at the table with academic subjects takes up very little of our weekly schedule. I expect this to change somewhat as my children grow older, but for now Bible, the three R's, and history/geography are the only things we teach in a way that at all resembles "school".

That being said, we don't plan to take a break from school just because it is summer. I can scarcely imagine ceasing to educate my children any more than I can fathom ceasing to feed them. To be sure, our focus will change from mainly indoor activities to mainly outdoor ones...but stop learning? I'd sooner cut off my right arm.

Summer is a great time to learn! If you need some inspiration, here is a list of ten things to try. Please leave some ideas of your own in the comments section!

1. Keep Up With the Basics. Most kids do best academically when reading, writing, and math are reinforced throughout the year. You don't have to be intense about it, but taking a little time each week to practice the things that you've already mastered will go a long way when fall comes around. Most conventional schools have to spend a great deal of time reviewing last years information before they can introduce new concepts. You can avoid this in your homeschool by simply stretching your curriculum to fill the summer months. Since most curriculum is written to fit a typical school year, this gives you the added freedom to take time off when you need it.

2. Take a Scripture Memory Challenge. There are many different ways to do this. Ultimately, though, it is about hiding God's Word in our hearts, so just find a way to do it! Some families decide to memorize an entire chapter or book of the Bible together. Another way would be to study for the 2010 BibleBee. My children are not yet old enough to participate, but I contacted The National Bible Bee, and they said that we could still purchase a study kit for our family when they go on sale in June. Or, check out one of the free Scripture Memory Lists from Bethlehem Baptist Church, located in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

3. Study Nature. Spend time in your backyard watching birds. Go on a hike in the woods. Go fishing or take a walk by lake or river. Anna Botsford Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study is a great tool for parents of children of all ages. It gives the basics (for those of us who are truly clueless), and goes into depths that even a high school student can appreciate.

4. Plant a Garden. I am famous for my brown thumb (just ask my college dorm mates about how I managed to kill a cactus!), but I've determined that, for the educational good of my children, we will have a garden this year. So far, we've taken on some already-started plants that will come back every year and be pretty hard to kill-even for me. In addition, we're going to plant a window box with basil. I've done this before and, surprisingly, it actually worked. The kids are hoping to get a tractor-tire planter in the back yard where they can plant their own seeds. Still working on the logistics of that one.

5. Visit a farm. If you can't, or don't want to plant a garden, how about visiting a local farm regularly? We have the blessing of having a small organic farm close by. We volunteer three hours of our time there every week during the summer, and in exchange, we come home with a big box of fresh produce and eggs. The children can't get enough of that place, and I have learned a lot from the wise people I have met there. It also makes me grateful for how easy it is for us to obtain the food we eat, even when money is tight. There's nothing like working out in the soil in the hot sun to make me ponder just how hard most people have had to work, throughout the history of the world, just to eat.

6. Spend time at the library. Of course, most of us don't want to spend every moment of every day outside. Sometimes, we just want to drink in some air conditioning! When it's too hot to do anything else, we like to take a field trip to the library. We can sit and read together in the children's area, or just gather a stack of books to take home with us. Many libraries have summer reading programs, where children can receive free books and other prizes for reading a certain number of books or for a certain number of minutes each day. Since we're avid readers in this house, it is easy for us to meet the requirements and win all the cool prizes. Last summer, the kids each came home with three new books, an adorable book bag, plus a coupon for a free scoop of frozen custard. Yum!

7. Visit Historic Sites, Landmarks, or Museums. You probably have a few of these nearby, and they probably host special events during the summers. Spend some time with your state's tourism website to find out what and when they are. We have gleaned so much from these summer family field trips. Reading about history in a book is one thing. Seeing it, touching it, and tasting it is quite another. Late last summer, I blogged about one of our favorite historic field trips to the Wade House in Greenbush, WI

8. Play Dates! Fun with friends is generally a lot easier to schedule during the summer months. Why not get together with friends at a local park or beach? Or maybe have a picnic or bonfire in the backyard? Time invested in building relationships is time well spent.

9. Enjoy a Sport. Participating in year-long athletic activities can be expensive in both time and money. However, it can be more affordable and less intense to join a summer league or class. It can also be a great time to take swimming lessons at a local pool. 

10. Consider Camping. There's hardly a better way to enhance family togetherness than camping, and it's a lot easier on the budget than other vacation options. Teach your kids how to build a fire, cook "the old fashioned way" and wash dishes by hand in a bucket. They'll quickly learn to appreciate indoor plumbing, refrigeration and electricity! They'll also probably learn a lot more about their parents. If you ask around, you may even find that there is a Christian camp not-too-far-from-you that caters to family campers. We don't think we'll be big on sending our kids away to camp--even when they're older--but family camping is right up our alley!

So, that's my list...what's yours?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Coming Out of the Closet

I have a confession to make that will not come as a great surprise to many of you, but that will truly shock some of you...

Something that might make me the object of ridicule or the butt of jokes...

Something that may make some of you feel sorry for me...

Something that might motivate some of you to pray for me, that I might realize that I don't have to live this way...

Some of you may even pray that God does something to "teach me a lesson" about how irresponsible I'm being...

Actually, I've been this way for a long time...probably all of my life, if I'm honest with myself. I can look back and see the signs in my personality from when I was a little child.

No, I don't blame it on my parents...they weren't this way...but I do credit God, for this is what he created me to be.

I suppressed it for a while, because all of society around me told me how wrong it was. I did have a couple of friends who were like me in this, who tried to encourage me to embrace this lifestyle. I did my best to push them away and not listen. Sadly, it took years for me to realize that they were right.

Up until now, I've been afraid to blog about it...afraid of what my friends and family might think.

But I've come to realize that I have nothing to be ashamed of. This is part of who I am, and part of who God has called me to be, so I don't need to hide it anymore.

So...what is this shocking secret, you may ask?

I'm QuiverFull.

There I said it.

More accurately, we're QuiverFull. This is a choice that my husband and I have embraced, mutually.

For those of you who don't speak Christianese, "QuiverFull" means that we are allowing God to bless us with as many children as He sees fit. We will not use any form of "birth control", and we will leave the size of our family up to Him.

The term has its origins in Psalm 127:4-5 :

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.

Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed when they speak with there enemies in the gate."

We not doing this because we somehow think of ourselves as "super parents" who have it all together, are doing it all right, and are better than everyone else.

For us, this is an act of obedience. As we've allowed God to teach us from His Word, we have come to realize that God never repealed the command He gave to "Be fruitful and multiply." (Genesis 1:28) In fact, He repeats it numerous times throughout the Old Testament.

It is also an act of faith. Our contemporary culture seems to have lost touch with the reality that everything we have comes from God. With prosperity-run-rampant, it can be so easy for us to forget God (See Deuteronomy 6:10-12). Most Christians who limit the size of their families talk in terms of how many children they can "afford". Does not the same God who gives life in the womb not also provide for them? Does He ever leave us or forsake us?

It is a choice to embrace God's blessing. The Bible repeatedly and consistently refers to children as a blessing. When Rebekah became engaged to Isaac, her friends prayed that her offspring would become thousands upon thousands (Genesis 24:60).  Psalm 127:3 tells us that the fruit of the womb is a reward.

Scripture also gives us several examples of woman crying out to God for a baby. We experienced this ourselves when, after having used contraceptives for two years, found that we were unable to conceive when we thought the "time was right". Oh, how much did we have to learn!

After going through this pain firsthand, and also knowing many friends who have wept, and some indeed are still weeping, for God to give them a child, we find it foolish to reject God's hand of blessing and call it a curse. (See Isaiah 5:20)

It is a result of multi-generational vision. Perhaps the most powerful reason we have for embracing God's blessing of children is that we've caught the vision of multi-generational faithfulness. Malachi 2:15 tells us that one of God's primary purposes for marriage is that He desires godly offspring.

We talk about wanting to reach the world for Christ, but we so often forget that one of God's biggest plans for world evangelism is that we raise up children who will serve and follow Him whole-heartedly.  Some of history's most influential missionaries, pastors, teachers, and evangelists have come from large families lead by a godly mother and father, who had a vision to see their children become world changers. This is the vision we have embraced for our family.

Statistics paint a troubling picture. While birth rates in Christian cultures have dropped to below replacement rate (2.1 children per family), we are at the same time doing such a poor job evangelizing and discipling our own children that 75-88% of them leave the faith by their freshman year in college. In practicality, this means that it takes two Christian families to get one, single Christian into the next generation. (Much thanks to Voddie Baucham for pointing this out. You can hear more in his powerful sermon, The Centrality of the Home in the Evangelism and Discipleship of the Next Generation, at sermonaudio.com).

In the meantime, the Islamic community is having an average of 6 children per family, and they are doing a far superior job of passing their beliefs and worldview onto their kids than we are. If Christian families don't start receiving children as a blessing, and get serious about discipling them in their homes, who will be left to preach the gospel to the Muslim world?

Ultimately, we desire to honor God in our household. Our choices may not be mainstream or "normal", but we do not believe that God called us to be mainstream. He has called us to Himself, regardless of the values of the culture around us.

He has a plan for our family, and we are so thankful that He has made us the objects of His grace.
Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Uncomfortable Silence

It's been two weeks since I've posted anything on this blog.

I'm generally not the type of person to "post for the sake of posting". Ever the recovering perfectionist, I'd rather write nothing at all than write something substandard.

It's not as though I've had no new, fresh ideas. I've had at least a half-dozen. But, just as I had reinforced my decision to take life at a slower pace, I came to a point where an even emptier plate was all I could handle.

I'm one of those moms for whom morning sickness is a misnomer--I get sick all day, every day, for the first three months of pregnancy. Even though I'm "technically" in second trimester now, the past several weeks have been particularly challenging. I normally blog early in the morning, when the house is asleep. These days, I've been content to be able to pry myself out of bed when my toddler wakes up.

I've also been wrestling with a few various, seemingly unrelated, private heartaches, too personal to share here. Perhaps to keep my humble. Perhaps to keep me prayerful. Perhaps to show me that this world is truly not my home.

As I think back over the past two weeks of uncomfortable silence on this blog, it occurs to me that God has been teaching me a great deal, using this time where my well is too dry to write, to renew my spirit with His living water. I have been blessed by the writings of several bloggers--kindred spirits, really--who have written what I needed to read, when I did not have the energy to write myself.

Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience brought me to tears with her post, What to Do When You Want to Give Up and Stay in Bed.

June Fuentes of A Wise Woman Builds Her Home reminded me that my blog could wait, my children could not, with a thoroughly convicting post, A Wise Mother Guards Her Time.

My dear friend, Lisa Metzger of A Second Generation of Homeschooling, wrote this short, but oh-so-sweet post, God is Gently Leading, for At The Well: In Pursuit of Titus 2.

Caroline Allen of The Modest Mom (which, by the way, is a fantastic place to purchase work-at-home-mom made maternity skirts) gave me a to-do list that is life giving, and not a heavy burden.

Finally, Ladies Against Feminism is always a good place for me to go when I'm lacking vision. Once again, June Fuentes hit me where I live with this wonderful reminder that what I'm doing is important, and it matters far more than I may ever know: Reclaiming the Lost Vision of Motherhood.

And with that, my youngest blessing (outside the womb) is awake and needing mommy's love and attention. As I nurse him back to sleep while I type this, I am reminded that when I put God first and my husband and children second, my life comes back into balance, and I can again focus on His calling on my life.

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength.
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:29-31 (NASB)

Happy (Belated) Mother's Day! 

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About Me

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

My Writing Elsewhere...

Fixing Your Heart on Titus 2

Did you pray for your
husband today?
Monday--His Work
Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling
Features God Made, Home Grown

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

2009 Nominee!

2010 Nominee!

My Wired Style

My Wired Style
Success is not learned. It is discovered and nurtured. What was your child born to do?

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

Disciple Like Jesus

Disciple Like Jesus

Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

Quiverfull Family

The Modest Mom


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