Faith, Family, Words & Meditations

mini idols

October 2, 2014
miniidols

 

This may possibly be an unpopular post, it’s definitely not a feel-good post. This is a post about the reality of Parenthood and the dangers we all face as believing parents when we make our children or our Parenthood greater than God. I will call them mini idols.

I brought this topic up at home group last night as we discussed Proverbs and heart idols. Parents, have we made idols of of our own children? I know as a parent it is easy to fall into the trap of loving my children best, thinking they are better than all other well-loved children. Of course this is common for parents, we think our children are the greatest things to walk this side of our spiral shaped galaxy and possibly beyond that. But what if they aren’t? What if are children are just like us, people that fall short? What if what society models as a parent is completely wrong?  What are we teaching them by elevating them to the highest points in our hearts and minds? What is it doing to our families? As a believer, what is the solution.

After bringing this topic up in home group last night, my friend Wendy sent me this article: How American Parenting is killing American Marriage. If you get a moment you should read it today. To summarize, the way we prioritize our children over everything else is hurting our Families, hurting our Marriages. It’s pretty taboo to say that you love your Husband/Spouse more than your children because we all know that ignoring one another for 18 plus years works wonderfully. It sounds like to the layman that you must hate your children, because obviously you hate your children if you happen to put your spouse first or even more shockingly God. Ayelet Waldman, who is not a believer that I know of, went on OPRAH to explain that she believed that loving her husband before her children has been a wonderfully healthy thing for her kids to witness, she received death threats and reports to Child Protective Services. Now, if a non-believer is telling us these things, how much more important is it for the believer to realize that God must be first then our Spouse and then our Children. I mean you don’t have to agree but this is biblical truth.

There are so many opinions on how we should raise children and there is no possible way to do them all, nor should the believer. Our Godly Mandates as parents should look foreign to the world. They may not like it. All the books by this Doctor or that Specialist are no match for Godly wisdom. Remember that worldly wisdom is foolishness. There is a grand story at work and we should be shaping our families with that mindset. American Society tells us that parental love looks like bussing your children around to all the things, giving them all the things, never letting them miss out or lose or be disappointed, keeping them cage in our homes and teaching them to be afraid of all the things, the list is longer, I’ll stop there. We need to be wary that this cultural example is contrary to a biblical one. We need to be careful that we aren’t forming mini idols based on culture and and our selfish desires.

There are many ways we can make children and Parenting our Idols. Christina Fox gives some examples in this post, more specifically for Mothers who seem to fall prey the easiest to this issue: The Idols of a Mother’s Heart (I’ll paraphrase):

-We can make Affirmation our Idol. We are affirmed in our beliefs about our children when family, friends or strangers tell us we are “doing a great job”, our kids are “pretty” or they are “well-behaved”. We can be prideful and desire affirmation more and more. We also can desire affirmation from our own children.

-”Our children in and of themselves can become idols.” Living for your kids and making them happy can become the most important thing in our lives, it’s a dangerous thing to do.

-Success. The “perfect family”, successful children, the “American Dream”.

-Control in every area of children’s lives, planning life out with no deviations or exceptions. This shapes the family dynamic causes us to fear, worry, have anxiety, and just plain grumpy.

When we make our Children or Parenting or Motherhood an idol in our lives we are setting a dangerous path for our children. Dissenters may say you cannot love your children too much, and of course that’s true, we can’t measure the love God has for us but what that looks like is obviously different then the love of the world. 1 Corinthians 13 is our reminder. As parents what does my love look like toward my child? Does it look the Father’s love?

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives. Hebrews 12:5- 6 

Not only must we put God first and prioritize our family biblically we must not put our children so high as to forget that we are commanded to lead them and discipline them. A lack of discipline is not love, a choice to not discipline your child only offers greater hardship for them later.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

I think it is clear but I just wanted to state that there is a difference between Discipline and Punishment, the first is corrective and the latter in Punitive, so on the other end we need to seek God in our parenting on how to do the first, we can go the other extreme and punish our children for our irritances with them. Godly love disciplines and reproves.

So back to making our children idols or role as a parent an idol, so how do we safeguard against these. I am a Mother so I tend to speak from that viewpoint a lot. We may all know Mothers occasionally that may have extreme views on this or that and let everyone know whenever they can, they might hold one of the previously listed idols of parenthood in their heart as the utmost importance. But it can be the quiet mother as well that holds their children idol in their heart. This is not a judgmental statement. this is the reality that we all can fall easily to idolatry of our children, our families, our role as parent. 1 Corinthians 10:14-18 states:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel:are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

We must be vigilant to keep ourselves focused on God and to keep our hearts tuned to Him. That is when our children will benefit. There have been many times where I followed my own selfish desires as a parent. My child is not perfect and it is foolishness to act like she is but also I have let my flesh anger toward my child when I should be leading her. I also fall to wanting to hear the affirmation that my children are “the best” or what have you. I need to pray for the Spirit to reveal the idols of my heart so that God can deal with them. We must be humble as parents as well, our children are not our own. They have been given to us, we do not deserve them and it is our duty to raise the according to the instruction of that Giver. Children will be formed by how their parents act, so in my humility must ask my daughters to forgive me when I have sinned in my parenthood.  Just like our children we need Godly reproof to battle the idols that pop up in our lives:

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:19

The only way we can can combat the idols of parenthood or our mini idols is to turn to God.

Faith, Family, Words & Meditations

count it all joy

October 1, 2014
joydare

 There are times when joy seems fleeting and unattainable, those are the times that we must fight for joy. Joy should be our daily habit as a believer, even in tough and trying circumstances, joy in the Lord and what He has given us should sustain in our difficulties. But it is one of those “easier said than done” scenarios, so how do we develop the habit of joy even when we don’t feel like, how do we instead of our grumbling turn to joy instead when the paths get rocky and undesirable?

 I’ve talked a little bit before about counting your blessings or counting it joy it tough times, specifically depression. And since this post (like most of my posts) is largely a “preaching the Gospel to myself” type of post I am revisiting the topic in a very much-needed way.

I do not know in what ways you struggle right now, I do want to encourage to reframe our suffering in a Kingdom perspective. God did not promise us easy living regardless what prosperity preachers and bad theologians may tell you. To say that God plans an uncomplicated and painless life is to say the Bible is wrong when it teaches us in 1 Peter 4 that suffering and trial is indigenous to the believer. I won’t talk much on teaching contrary to 1 Peter but I will say that God’s plan looks much different than streets of “wordly” gold but that we would rejoice as we share in Christ’s suffering and that we would Glorify God through it all and entrust ourselves to Him.

C.S. Lewis wrote about grief and suffering in his book about his late wife, A Grief Observed. I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache an about lying awake.’ That’s true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief. I know that that struggles, sadness, grief, whatever it may be feel like this all too well. It is a pervasive wart on our mind and it causes us to worry and stress and lament over things that can not be changed by our worry or stress or lamentations. C.S. Lewis also wrote these words about it which are a comfort to me; We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination. Sometimes I need that reminder that this was in the design and I need to realize that it is “part of the program”. 

SO how do I take those steps to reframe my circumstances and count it all joy like the exhort from James 1:2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. An obvious option here is to firstly look at the life of Paul who understood what that looked like. In 2nd Corinthians Paul talks about his countless beatings, imprisonments, punishments, dangers, near death experiences but says all of this not for pity but boast not in himself but in his weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. It’s not something we can do on our own, it’s about turning to a big God and trusting that He is big.

In our turning to God I think it’s important, at least for me, to remember that there are so many already good and beautiful things that I have been blessed with and I am blessed with these things because God gives these good things to me. I need a habit of joy and thanks. I need to fight for it in my life. Ann Voskamp says It’s habits that can imprison you and it’s habits that can free you. But when thanks to God becomes a habit —  so joy in God becomes your life. 

A very practical way to keep a habit of joy is to keep a list or journal instances of joy or gifts that God has given as they happen or as God opens our eyes to their presence in our lives. I’ve recently started again to write out the things gifts in my life that I am thankful for, the little seemingly insignificant things that might not matter to others or previously to myself. The things also that may not have seemed as blessings before but truly where. I truly have so many more joys than hardships. God is blessing the believer even through our suffering, we may not be able to see it but the Word and the Holy Spirit will reframe our minds to see the things we missed before.

I probably will share some of my private journaling via the blog and instagram using the hashtag, #thebensonsarethankful. I encourage friends to join me privately or publicly, I would love to have some friends to encourage and be encouraged by.

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Today, I am thankful for:

Coffee with Whipped Cream and a husband that makes it for me in the morning.

Hot Water, our water heater has been broken, so hot water and Bubble Baths

Television, yes, television, I was able to finish this post because my children are watching Daniel Tiger.

Morning hugs from my girls

Dimples, specifically Alice’s dimples.

This Weather, I want it forever.

Provision for today

sisters that love each other

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Let me leave you with the these words from a recent Desiring God post by Vaneetha Rendall that really shook me:

Habakkuk models this exchange beautifully. Though he had pleaded with God to save his people, he closes his book with this exquisite “even if” . . .

Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes,
even if the olive tree fails to produce
and the fields yield no food,
even if the sheep pen is empty
and the stalls have no cattle—

Even then,

I will be happy with the Lord.
I will truly find joy in God, who saves me. (Habakkuk 3:17–18)

Amen.

“Even If”, not just “What if”, things transpire that are out of my control “I will be happy with the Lord. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me”. I don’t think there is anything else to say.

 

Recipes

It’s fall…Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

September 19, 2014

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So I post this recipe every time fall comes around because it’s fun and easy to make and we all know the Pumpkin Spice craze is upon us. I originally made this for Verge Magazine based on a thekitchn recipe and it was a pleasure, so I hope you enjoy making it at home.  The recipe follows:

Pumpkin Spice Latte (original found via thekitchn.com)
makes 1-2 servings
Ingredients:
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin OR 1 teaspoon of Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup (your choice)
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute – you can halve this amount
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a ½ tsp. of a homemade mixture of 3 parts equal nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice this is what I did and can’t imagine pumpkin pie spice could taste much better, leave extra for the sprinkling on top of your whipped cream)
1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee if you don’t have an espresso machine.)
Directions:
In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry about it – just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.
Pour into a large mug or two mugs. Add the espresso on top.
Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon on top.

I love making this every year and if you do please let me know how it it is, hopefully yummy.

This have been a little crazy here lately and I haven’t posted as much but have a lot of posts in draft, so look forward to more. love.

 

Faith, Family, Read This

What you do when your child wakes everyone in the house at 4:30 screaming that you stole their fan.

August 21, 2014

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The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

 Ok, so the title pretty much sums up the story but if you want to know the details… Emma, my 7-yr-old wakes up today at 4-ish to screaming that she can’t sleep but it didn’t end there, and when I say screaming, I mean screaming, waking up the whole house including a baby that should not be awake at 4:30. She proceeds to tell me that I stole her fan. This is the deal with the fans, it’s hot, I mean stifling, around 100 highs and so we have the fans out to help with the heat at night. There are two identical fans except for one has a knob on the top and one has the knob on the back. Somehow in moving fans around the house the last couple days that fans got switched around. Eithe

r fan is no one’s possession except for the Benson household. They blow the same amount of air about, so I was very angry at 4 in the morning.

So what did I do when she woke up screaming that I stole her fan?  I am not writing this post because I am some sort of parental authority. This like a lot of posts are written to help myself walk through things mentally and a way to preach to myself truth which I very much forget at 4 in the morning after a night of bad sleep already.  So, that being said, I screamed back at this 7-yr-old because I was angry and it was the absolute wrong thing to do. I screamed and showed no Grace because I was tired and bothered. I screamed because I had to now but a restless baby back to sleep. This is after I blew up at her last night for repeated disobedience. I needed to have a talk with myself.

Let’s talk about the heart of the matter, well our hearts, that’s the matter. I’ve been going through my head all morning and read the word and read a little of a biblical parenting book I’m reading and it gave my mind perspective that I may have already known but choose to ignore in these incidents. So, last night and this morning I needed to ask my daughter for forgiveness for anger towards her. It truly is a humbling experience to ask your child for forgiveness, and I know a lot of people may be uncomfortable with the idea but it is a biblical one.

My plea for forgiveness from my Daughter is not because she should get her way in everything and so my offense was not allowing her to do that. I sinned against her because the Word says so. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear,slow to speak, slow to anger;  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.It is actually quite the opposite, we talked about our hearts and why we do the things we do, why we sin against each other, and because grace was not shown. So knowing what I did wrong I woke seeking the word and resolve to ask my daughter for forgiveness. We had a great talk, Emma shared with me that she was only thinking about herself and that she was sorry for waking us all up. She asked me for forgiveness and I instructed her what she should do. Emma happily accepted my apology and hugged me. I am always amazed how freely she loves and forgives and shows me grace. I’m just a bitter old lady in comparison.

In Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp says this: Correction is not displaying your anger at their offenses; it is rather reminding them that their sinful behavior offended God, It is bringing the censure of sin to these subjects of his realm. He is the King They must obey.

I am a learn-on-the-go type of person, I have to learn things the hard way in order for me to truly get it. This whole parenting thing, it’s so hard. I am thankful for people on my life and a few people that have written books that point me back to the Word, Christ. Thank you all.

So here are a few of those books that are really helpful for those that  struggle like me and need a little helpful prodding, knowing the Bible first as well of course:

-Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – I am reading this right now and it has been very revealing especially in this season of life.

-Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson- This is a great guide to showing Grace to your kids, it’s incredibly truthful and biblical. There is a very, very helpful chart in the back that helps me sometimes when I get flustered what to do in a particular situation.

-Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel- This was the first book I read that truly diagnosed my heart as a parent and got to root of it, Sin. I am thankful for having been introduced to this book in a time I really needed it. Many people confuse Grace  with permissiveness or lack of discipline but this book helped me see that is a gross misunderstanding of the word, and help me to form my thoughts as a Christian Parent.

So thank you all for joining in this journey with me as a Parent, I am flawed but He is perfect in my place. The image above is of Emma playing sweetly outside this morning after our talk. Alice is still asleep, God is good.

 

Charlotte Mason, Homeschool- Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason-Year 2

August 14, 2014

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I was tempted to name this post homeschooling-on-the-cheap-2.0, but I didn’t because I realize that because I already had a lot of the resources listed and even though it’s still going to be very cheap for anyone to do this exactly, (it’s next to nothing for us). Plus I wanted to focus on the Charlotte Mason-ness of it all. Firstly, if you do not know who Charlotte Mason is, take a look here: What is CM?. In short though, Charlotte Mason was a Christian British Educator that believed that Education was more than Education but it was a Discipline, a Life, an Atmosphere. So, In essence it’s a lifestyle over a curriculum. I’ve loved Miss Mason for many years know and am learning more through her writings and my Charlotte Mason Peers and Elders. So, there are a few things I adding this year that we didn’t get to in the last and hoping for a really well rounded CM Education this year. We will call last year our Grace Year because there was a lot of Grace given and desired, so we have got to get on it this year with a better plan of action. I am also writing out this blog post not just for anyone who cares about Charlotte Mason-Year 2 but to help me to break it all down in my head for the very soon School Year. *AO means Ambleside Online. We use Ambleside Online as a Charlotte Mason guide and substitute only a few selections. Unless otherwise stated everything is from the Ambleside Year 2 Schedule and not from my own brain, just so you know.

Bible- We are going to stick with Gospel Story Bible and Long Story Short Devotional for this year and I may backtrack a little because we grazed over a few weeks quickly last year. The Bible and the Devotional are a wonderful tool for Parents wanting to paint the stories of the Bible truthfully and make beautiful connections from Old and New Testament. The Long Story Short version is for Old Testament and there is version for the New Testament, but it will be a while until we are there, although it teaches a lot of the New testament along side the Old, and that’s what I like about this study. We do use more of a Charlotte Mason-Narration approach with the reading and I use the questions as more of a guide. We will also be using Sojourn’s North Star Catechism for our Bible Memory Work and because I really wanted to go through a Catechism for Children with Emma so she has very clear answers to questions she may have or encounter.

Character- O.k. so most Charlotte Mason families do one Character per month to Study and move on. We’ve realized that just doesn’t work in the Benson Household, Soooo…We do one Character until Emma gets it, like really gets it and then moves on. Last Year towards the end of the year we we’re doing Obedience (Doing what you are told with a happy, submissive spirit). We talk about First-time Obedience here a lot and that is what is expected of Emma. Meaning that  we don’t tell her time and again to do something, if she doesn’t listen that first time there are usually some light consequences that will come of that. TV is the first to go and let me tell that usually is enough. She has the concept down now and can tell me the meaning of Obedience and that is what is important, so we are moving on. Anyways, We will start the Year with “Contentment” (Happy with what I have), because we’ve got a bit of a whining problem in regards to not being happy with things and then move on to “Joyfulness”. The Definitions come the Child’s Book of Character Building.

our History journal from the beginning of last year

History- This is where we differ with the AO schedule quite a bit because I needed something to ease into History with the last two years and the Beautiful Feet guides are very nice and just self-explanatory for this Mom-Brain. We bought the Early American guide two year ago and held it until last year to start and we are continuing in Jamestown. I usually borrow the books or find them used. You can purchase the book pack but I save a lot of money this way.

Literature- More Shakespeare this year with about six more plays, I already own the Lamb’s Shakespeare edition and we will just continue with that version because it tells the plays in story form. We are also still going through Parables of Nature but will let her listen to the Audio Books this year so I don’t have to read yet another book aloud. We will also be reading Pilgrim’s Progress, Robin Hood, Understood Betsy, and Wind in the Willows, which I’m excited about all of those selections.

Geography- We will use these free CM and Long’s Geography for the year based on the AO schedule.

Natural Science/ Nature Study-We will read the Burgess Animal Book along with Tree in the Trail and Seabird, both by Holling. We also be Nature journaling weekly together, we do Nature study at our yearly co-op and plan to review at home as well. vscocam1 (1)

Copywork/Phonics/Reading- Emma is a slow-to-read child and that is ok, no guilt here. We do a reading lesson a day and intersperse copywork. Right now we have moved on from only doing the McGuffey’s Primer for Phonics/Reading to doing Explode the Code because she actually needed something a bit more worksheet-y, against all my CM judgement. It’s not as twaddle-y as I suspected and she seems to be really improving. We will still use readers like the Mcuffey’s Readers or Pathway Readers (just the readers, no workbooks) as we go through the year, but they are free or very cheap and I am not to worried at the cost. We will also start copywork in a copywork book, something like this from Simply Charlotte Mason. Math- We will still use MEP Math, which is a free program that is highly recommended, but I also ordered the first Life of Fred book called Apples and am considering rotating between the two for variety because the MEP math can get tiresome for us.

Poetry, Art and Composer: I combine all of these because we will be doing these at co-op and just reviewing at home. Our schedule for these are as follows (from the AO schedule): Poetry-Walter De La Mere, Shel Silverstein (this is a replacement for Witcombe-Riley), and Christina Rossetti, Art-Fra Angelico, Velasquez and Degas, and Composer- Hildegard Von Bingen, Children’s Classics (assorted classics for children), and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

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Free Reads: We definitely plan on finishing a few Summer reads like Peter Pan and Mr. Popper’s Penguins beside that (from the Ambleside site) I am not sure if we will get to all these but we will try, we also own quite a few of these books already so between those, the local library and the local bookstore I don’t imagine the cost being that high:

Heidi by Joanna Spyri, A Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney, Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales, Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning, Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry, Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater (currently reading), Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle, Chanticleer and the Fox (various authors), Along Came A Dog by Meindert De Jong, and The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

Handicrafts: I did a lousy attempt at teaching Emma sewing last year because we had a baby most of the year and things like Handicrafts and Piano took a backseat to Reading and Literature. We are going to start over this year with the Mary Frances Sewing Book. It’s online and free and reads like a Story Book that has sewing projects in it. I am going to put together a dedicated Sewing Basket for Emma but that will be the only cost. The file of the book is a scan of an old copy archived digitally and has a signature in it of the author, “For all the girls who love to make pretty things.  Jane Eayre Fryer”, that’s just lovely.

Piano: We will continue with My First Piano Adventures, a fun hop through Piano basics and music reading.

Drawing: Kenny has recommended this for the year and since he’s also an atrist and pretty darn good illustrator, we are doing it. How to Draw Amazing Animals

Foreign Language: Spanish is our foreign language because Im Half-Latin and I really wished I was more fluent growing up. We will do a mixture of the Gouin Series we did successfully last year and Mango languages which is free through our local Library.

Well now that I completely overwhelmed you with all of that information I am going to tell you its not as hard as it seems, the AO schedule rotates readings and material and it really is very easy to follow. When it comes to putting my head on straight for the year and planning the order of the day, I go to this very wise post by Nancy Kelly, my favorite Charlotte Mason blogger: Our Schedule, Our Atmosphere. It’s a breath of fresh air and I’ll talk more about ordering the homeschool day as the year progresses. So take a deep breath friends and know if we cover only half of this material I think we are in a wonderful place still. I mean can you say you did half of this stuff in second grade?  It really is a lovely education and Emma will be introduced to a lovely feast this year. Posts your thoughts and comments, I’d love to hear what you are doing this year.

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You can see a visual catalog of all the resources on my Pinterest Board-Charlotte Mason- Year 2

Depression, Faith

This is a Post about Depression

August 12, 2014
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So, I was going to post a homeschool post today but there are so many thoughts going on in my head I needed to thoughtfully and carefully write them out. Most of us in the Modern World know that we lost a person very dear to a lot of us. Robin Williams, the Man who was still a Boy at heart passed yesterday of an apparent suicide stemming from his depression. How I cried all night. It feels like losing a dear friend but on top of that when I heard the news with the words DEAD, SUICIDE, DEPRESSION in the title, all the air felt like it was sucked from the room never to return. Why? Because this is a very real battle for a lot of us. A lot of you know that I have struggled with Depression and know that even though much better these days, I still battle it. You may not know all the details, not even my family other than my husband does and I am going to bear my soul here as humbly as I can and then outline why there is hope for me and all hopeless through Faith and help from others.

I have struggled with Depression all of my life, shockingly, even people in my family say that isn’t the truth. They remember me as a happy person and can’t believe this to be true. Yes, Happy people can be depressed, they can be dying on the inside and smiling on the outside and that’s even so much more painful. Fake, plastic smiles tear at our hearts but we feel too burdened to share our thoughts and struggles with genuinely happy people. As a Teen and an Adult I was one of those “happy people”, joyful, laughing, and just tired and worn down to bare threads on the inside. I’d wake up and immediately be overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions and wish to fall asleep for a hundred years like Rip Van Winkle until I could feel better. Everyone has days they don’t want to get out of bed but when you have whole years like that, there is something wrong. It really is hard to describe it someone that has never felt it before but this is how I’ve described it recently, I’ll quote myself: “It feels like being sewn into a mattress and that mattress being buried in the ground under the weight of million pervasive thoughts while you are screaming at the top of your lungs and no one in the world can hear you. It feels heart wrenching and suffocating all at the same time.”  That is the best way I can describe it. Even more shockingly I struggled with Suicidal Ideation and I want to be completely candid on bad days I still struggle with this. Suicidal Ideation is…”Strictly speaking, suicidal ideation means wanting to take one’s own life or thinking about suicide without actually making plans to commit suicide. However, the term suicidal ideation is often used more generally to refer to having the intent to commit suicide, including planning how it will be done”. These are sick and twisted thoughts that someone with Chronic Depression deals with. A Depression that can suffocate us and knit us into Darkness and Death.

I sat on a hill facing the Savannah River about three years ago, before Alice was born, feeling every bit of a failure at life and my circumstances, not wanting to wake up each day, wishing for rest from all the black noise. I would stare at the water and idealize just walking in and not coming out like a Modern-Day Virginia Woolf. I would be driving down the interstate and would imagine, what if? What if I just turned the wheel a little too much in the other direction, would it be quick and  painless? What if just “accidentally” took all these sleeping pills. I would imagine what it would be like if I died, who would mourn for me and I would get a sort of sick satisfaction thinking that people that had abandoned me, forgotten me, or looked poorly on me would shed tears for me. In these times the thoughts are pervasive, not a lot of reason is employed.  You aren’t thinking what about my family, will they be ok? or what about my Daughter, how could she live without a Mother? These are pushed back and replaced by the darkness. Maybe so far this post may be too much for anyone reading and perhaps it may seem pitiful at best, but I am hoping by sharing this, someone can see that there is hope for spiritual and mental darkness. While I thought these things, I didn’t want to talk about them, my Husband would ask me what was wrong and I didn’t want to talk about it, and even in the times that I did I didn’t know how to verbalize it. My mouth was moving and nothing was coming out. I needed prayer.

I am a believer and depression has many ramifications on your faith and vice-versa. Part of my problem was that I believed I was to long waiting for my life to be the stuff of dreams. I was like David in the “miry-bog” of his own thoughts. John Piper says this in When the Darkness will not Lift:

The king of Israel is in “the pit of destruction” and “the miry bog”—descriptions of his spiritual condition. The
song of praise is coming, he says, but it is not now on his lips. It is as if David had fallen into a deep, dark well and
plunged into life-threatening mud. There was one other time when David wrote about this kind of experience. He
combined the images of mud and flood: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in
deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Ps. 69:1-2).
In this pit of mud and destruction there is a sense of helplessness and desperation. Suddenly air, just air, is
worth a million dollars.

This is it exactly and I can identify with a King in this instance, fallen into a deep, dark well and life threatening mud. There are many reasons people suffer with depression whether it be clinical or brought on by external situations but many times a believer that struggles with depression will very much wonder if they are still God’s or if their faith is real. This not really theological thinking so no points of whether Salvation can truly be lost or etc. come into mind. Sin is mingled with depression and both contribute to the other quite heavily.  I am not saying the reason you are depressed is because you are a sinner, if that we’re the case every human being would be (even though is some cases it may be) but Sin adds flame to fire, while Depression allows sin to go un-named or worse torture us, at least in my experience.

In the presence of Depression there is a want and lack of Joy. Regaining Joy is important, it seems lost and can’t be refound, it went to some long forgotten place and can’t find it’s way home. I will share what has helped in my life as a believer and given me hope and is still helping because I still fight it. I am not a doctor or counselor but can speak as someone who fights this fight. Firstly, Pray, God is listening, He knows our pain and can lift us from it. Pray when you wake up and when you fall asleep, when you eat, wehn you shower, when you are driving, any, pray for deliverance. These are not fruitless prayers, there is Someone listening. Secondly, turn toward the Word, God has given many substantial scriptures to encourage those in Darkness, there is Hope there for the Hopeless.

He sets us on the Rock:

I waited patiently for the LORD;

he inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

and put their trust in the LORD. Psalms 40:1-3

These following verses have been great comfort for me:

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. Psalm 42

 There is a song that I would listen that pertains to this and I would just weep in desire for Hope and Joy that felt so long far away, I’ll share it at the bottom of the page. Thirdly, it is very important to reframe Joy in our lives. While we are waiting for the big things to happen or God to work miracles we forget to see the little miraculous things are happening in each moment. I was really helped by reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, it help me to name all the little things I was thankful for no matter how mundane. I began to thank God for the smell of Grass and for warm baths and for little girl laughs. It was a beautiful transformation of mind. When I am feeling low I still do this. When your gifts outnumber your trials so much so it can cause major shifts in our Worldly thinking. Lastly, I encourage you to talk to someone, anyone, friends, loved ones, Pastors, a counselor, a doctor. People that love you deserve to know what you are going through and that is the only way they can help you, pray for you and encourage you. There are very real physical, clinical and external reasons that someone might fall into depression and it helps to talk, even when it doesn’t feel like it, to get to the heart of what is causing it. My Husband was this person for me, he refused to let me go and just waited on me until I was ready to talk about it, he put my suffering in to Godly terms, pointing me toward the Cross. I am very thankful.

I can tell you there is Hope in Christ. If we look on Him, He can take this yoke from us. It may not happen overnight and it may always still be a fight we must fight but know that His burden is so much lighter than the turmoil of dark thoughts. I want to encourage anyone that needs someone to talk to please comment, text, message me, etc. I know what it is like, I am slowly recovering through the help of a Big God. I may always struggle and that is ok because that Big God is on my side.

I do want to say something to all that are onlookers of depression, hurting with those hurting. My Facebook post last night after the news was this: “Depression is a real and terrible battle. It feels like being sewn into a mattress and that mattress being buried in the ground under the weight of million pervasive thoughts while you are screaming at the top of your lungs and no one in the world can hear you. It feels heart wrenching and suffocating all at the same time. Reach out to friends you know that struggle, pray for them, call them, send a letter, tell them you love them, ask them how you can help without offering opinions….and then wait, but please help. This is an all too real and painful fight.”. Simply put pray for them, hug them and do not let go.

 Like a bed of rest for my fainting flesh.

Family, Intentional Living, Real Life on Mondays

Summer Cleaning and Real Life on Mondays.

August 11, 2014

14337036225_e0382fdfa4_oSo, we been some serious Summer House cleaning/ Minimalizing as of late. It’s not my favorite thing but I love to have company and I want my family to take rest in this home. One of my priorities  for the year has been to cultivate my home for my family and be more intentional with our home and possessions. It’s not super easy for my disorganized mind to organize a home and declutter. So, we’ve been going through all the extra stuff, the unwanted clutter in our desire for a more simple, intentional home very slowly. My van may be full of clothes right now that need to go to the laundrymat, the second hand store, Goodwill, or the dumpster. I don’t even know how we have so much clothes when we barely buy clothes, remember I didn’t buy clothes for a year and even longer. but I am pretty sure there are some items in there that are over ten years old. And that in essence is the problem, unintentional hoarding. I mean we realize now that not everything is sacred and worth saving but I am not sure how we got all this unwanted “stuff”, especially when we live in a small house with four bodies and clutter baggage for each. Right now the hallway is lined with black bags filled with toys waiting for a toy purge. No matter how much I hate doing this, it really is very much-needed for us, so I am trying with prayer. It’s maybe a tenth of the way there. So say a prayer for me and ask me how it’s going when you see me. I need the encouragement. Sometimes, I think how much I would get done if God made me Type-A, but I realize I am the way I am for a reason, not sure what that reason is yet but…. this is a daily dying to self and my hatred for cleaning for washing dishes.

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That’s my sink right now, unfortunately our dishwasher is broken again and it doesn’t seem like it’s salvageable this time. I’m going to have to tackle these and all dishes in the foreseeable future by hand. I can’t complain there are so many things to be thankful for and not get overwhelmed with days like this. The millions of little God-given gifts each day, that is what I’ll focus on instead. That’s my real-life on Monday.

Family, Happy Things, Intentional Living

Benson Family, What’s New?

August 8, 2014

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So, I was going to post a Friday Listening today, but I don’t like to slap those songs together haphazardly so I am going to wait until next week to post. I did want to share what are some of the things that are going on with the Benson family. Here’s what’s been going on lately through pictures.

14672185680_a0727a69c0_oKenny turned 34, wow! We had a small celebration at home with Ice Cream cake and a yummy dinner.

14855788921_55fdd36cdd_o 14835863196_a8a703f77f_o 14672238748_2953d04970_oJust a lot of Summer playing. It’s as hot as all get out, so we play in water all day and go to bed tired. Alice and Emma are growing like weeds and don’t fit in anything anymore. I just love these little birds and am ready for school to start for us so we are back on a schedule and some of this “I am Bored” summer whining will dissipate.

14855799381_d9f22952ab_oWe have been reading a lot through the Summer, Mr.Poppers Penguins, Peter Pan, and Little House, alternatively. The Summer seemed so short and we’ve not quite finished these yet but we’ll just take them into the school year for bedtime chapter books or free reads. I am working on some Charlotte Mason posts and can’t wait to share our Year 2 schedules. I am so ready to be on a schedule again, you’d think Summers are relaxing, well, I say No. Summers are very tiring because we don’t have a normal schedule and everything is busy. I can’t wait until the world is back at school so grocery store trips, Target visits, a random Chic-Fil-A lunch will be less busy. That’s such a nice thing about homeschooling. :)

14672240958_1098b6fda5_oI have been try to create daily even if it’s calligraphy practice or some illustrative doodles. It’s been a long time since being in Art school but I want to try to make creativity a part of my daily life for myself and so my children can see it. We screenprint and work on art but a lot of that is after the kids are in bed. I also want to start Nature Journaling with Emma at Home. I think it will be a great shared experience.

14835864706_bd8b6ffef3_oLastly, Kenny no longer works as a librarian as a lot of you may already know, He works in a job that is better suited to our family schedule, but you can’y stop him from continuing to act like a Librarian. hehe. He started Super Awesome Storytime at the Book Tavern at 10:30am on Wednesdays. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll be there most weeks.

The Chronicle came out and the storytime was featured in the Chronicle in the front page of the Metro Section. Thank you Sarah Caldwell for coming out. It was great to see it in the Paper. Emma thinks she is a celebrity now because she’s been in the paper around ten times by the age of 7, ha. She asked me last time she was in the paper if you are a famous person if you are in the paper a lot. I said you could be. So this time around solidified it to her, she’s “been in the Nutcracker and the paper lots”. I just laugh quietly to myself, it’s funny, don’t want to spoil the fun. So Life is good even though sometimes it can feel overwhelming and tiresome we are just trying to count it all joy and look at the beautiful gifts we have.

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I forgot, one last thing. Thank you for making my last post: Be Wary of the Flags you Fly my second most read ever. I may not know who all is reading this blog and that’s ok but I hope it can be an encouragement. So, Thank you, Love.

 

Faith

Be Wary of the Flags You Fly

August 5, 2014

jollyroger

war·y
ˈwe(ə)rē/
adjective
  1. feeling or showing caution about possible dangers or problems.
    In fact, our inability to find security for ourselves is so profound that we’d never find the One who is to be our Rock on our own, no he must find us. The language of Psalm 27 is quite precise here, “he will…set me high upon a rock.” It doesn’t say, “I will find the rock and I will climb up on it.” -Paul David Tripp

I am going to preface that this post may hit a chord with folks in dissonance or agreement but I think this is truth for me in my life and hopefully it can be helpful.

Be wary of the flags you fly. What do I mean? Well I mean be careful of the titles you claim and give priority in your life. The titles that you hold true above all other things and make it known to the world. I am clearly going to speak here from my perspective as a women, mother and believer, so my lens to the world may look different than yours, it shouldn’t negate the truth in the message.

I had had this post sitting in my drafts a while so when my Pastor preached on ACTS 15, It reminded me of a lot of some recent thoughts on this matter.

We live in a time where titles and classifications, the groups you belong to, the views you hold are very important, some raise these titles above all else. In a digital age where In-Real-Life contact becomes fleeting and the internet is a staple of everyday life it is much easier to find those that agree with you in all regards and argue with those that disagree with you in all regards. We start to put the groups and morals we ascribe to as a priority worth fighting for. We fight non-essentials like they are essentials and alienate every one not in line. This isn’t a judgement, everyone does it, I do it, We all do. It’s our nature because of sin but what is the alternative? Titles have always been important….. but now we have it all out there for all to see, our personal profiles become our identity, we become no more or less than than the 150 words that we can fit into our Instagram profile.

It’s everywhere, flag flying at it’s best, trying to top others flying flags decidedly. We definitely are in the Age of Digital Divisiveness, dare I say just Divisiveness. Digital divisiveness is a part of our daily lives but it is not just an “internet” issue, it’s a symptom of a bigger, greater wound. A heart issue that has real IRL ramifications. It reaches far beyond the internet, it affects the very real people we are and are around.

I will speak as a Wife and Mother and then as just a Believer. As a Woman, Wife and Mother there is an excess of words that we can give power in our life, I mean the titles or ‘views” or classifications we can put ourselves in. Complimentarian, Feminist, Liberal, Conservative, Attachment Parent, Baby-wiser, Breastfeeder, Bottle Feeder, Stay-at-Home Mother, Working Mother, Believer, Non-Believer, Natural Mother, Natural Birth Believer, Medical Intervention Believer (or perhaps you had no choice in the matter), Home Educator, Public School Parent, Private School Parent, Free Range, Over-Protector and on and on and on, I’m sure there are a million I am not stating. It’s dizzying and very tiresome. Each style, method, issue, classification, opinion, none of these are good or bad in reality, they are views each of us decide to hold. I am not saying opinions are bad, though. I am stating that when these non-essentials become ultimate, we all suffer. Our hearts and the hearts around us.

As a Mother and Wife I have been looked down upon for almost every decision we have made as a Family, and it’s ok. There is Grace more so than judgementalism and moralism. Those latter things are not in my vocabulary anymore as a believer, I try not to recognize them. They are deadly to the believer. My experiences have ranged from the Grocery store opinions from strangers about my Parenting or Mothers at a new playdate judging my Birth experience or my Breastfeeding issues. I can recall them vividly, each and everyone because they were like burning coals of shame on my head. Like the Man that told me he would call the cops on me because I walked five feet from my car to pick something up in the middle of the nicest fall day with my five year old daughter asleep in the car, window open, a stride away, or it’s the Know-it-all Mother that told me I was harming my kids because of our particular family choices, or it’s family that clearly makes assertions that make me feel like the worst of mothers. The fact of the matter is that these things aren’t truth and are not spoken with love, I don’t have to look to the worldly wisdom of others but to something else, someone else, much greater. Whether it is family or strangers, the opinions that are put forth as primary usually are not, so I encourage you also, do not listen to the noise…

And here is where I talk as a Believer first and foremost. The Truth of the matter is that our Hope is in Christ and NOTHING ELSE. Your birthing options or food choices or parenting styles do not save you. We are not the sum of our personal views and choices like our profile descriptions would have all believe. As a true believer our identity is only in that one God-Man, nowhere else. This is why I encourage all of us including myself to be careful of the “FLAGS” we fly other than Christ.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.(*)

We can be confident that in Christ the Solid Rock we stand all other ground is sinking sand. ALL OTHER GROUND, I have to remind myself that daily. There is nothing more essential, more primary, more ultimate than a hope in Christ, it is a firm foundation that can support us in everything. “The people that know their God shall be strong” – Daniel 11:32. What this means is that there is nothing that we claim that can better than claiming the name of Christ. It’s indisputable for the Believer.

So why do we turn away from this truth to try and substitute the things of the World as our own personal flags than flying the name of Christ. Foolishness, Pride, Unbelief?

When you arise, O Lord,

you will laugh at their silly ideas

as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.

Then I realized that my heart was bitter,

and I was all torn up inside.

I was so foolish and ignorant—

I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.

Yet I still belong to you;

you hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

I desire you more than anything on earth.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,

but God remains the strength of my heart;

he is mine forever.  -Psalm 73:22

David is speaking about how his ways, his judgment, his understandings are nothing to the Wisdom of God. “To what is it owing, that men are so deceived by their own folly, as we find them to be, if it is not to this, that while they look at each other, they all inwardly flatter themselves? Among the blind, each thinks that he has one eye, in other words, that he excels the rest; or, at least, he pleases himself with the reflection, that his fellows are in no respect superior to himself in wisdom. But when persons come to God, and compare themselves with him, this prevailing error, in which all are fast asleep, can find no place.” – JOHN CALVIN COMMENTARY on PSALM 73:22

Here is some more Spurgeon to explain it better than I:

And are we better than David that we should call ourselves wise! Do we profess that we have attained perfection, or to have been so chastened that the rod has taken all our willfulness out of us? Ah, this were pride indeed! If David was foolish, how foolish should we be in our own esteem if we could but see ourselves! 

So, in Conclusion, Be Wary of the Flags You Fly. Be wary of all “FLAGS” that are not Christ that are put before you as ultimate truth. Know this though, there is Grace. Grace for the Judged and Grace for the Judger. So run to him….”When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found, Clothed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne! On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.” Only one name is higher than the rest.

Charlotte Mason, Homeschool- Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason Living

August 4, 2014

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If you homeschool with the Charlotte Mason Method you may be interested in this INSTAGRAM feed I started a few months ago: @charlottemasonliving. It’s a really lovely community of likeminded families that are homeschooling with Miss Mason’s methods. We share images of our everyday and discuss ideas and wonderful thoughts. Today we will be having a narration chat, or first group chat. Check it out if you love Instagram and Charlotte Mason.

IMG_6982 haha, look at my dying battery at 8:00 in the morning.