Failures in Parenting

IMG_6216I know anyone reading this post came here for the cheery title but I am not going to tell you everything you are doing wrong, I hope to encourage us, myself and maybe you towards Christ in our parenting.

This is merely my opinion. It seems every parent with kids under the age of 5 are parenting experts and in my experience they start to level out between their children’s ages of 10-13+, some sooner, some much later. What I mean is that young moms scour research, reviews, read all the books, opinions, polls, what have you and feel they have a good grasp on that parenting thing and then somewhere between the preschool years and college the “Oh. Crap” light bulb goes off and they realize they have no idea what they are talking about. I know because I am slowly, sloth-like,  moving from Camp Expert to Camp Oh, Crap. We’ll call it the circle of parenting, it’s like the circle of life but not as sing-songy and the only dancing creatures are the ones peeing on your floor.

Here’s the bad news. There are no winners in parenting, we are failing. All of us. We aren’t perfect, no, not one. Just last night I screamed at two kids that would not stop fighting and go to sleep, this morning I have to wake them up and ask forgiveness. I fail daily but that is not the end of the news.

Here is the good news, God never called us to be perfect parents. All the expert advice is meaningless in the scheme of God’s plan. In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is confronted with some very reasonably sounding advice, the character aptly named Worldly Wiseman in so many words basically says “You know…..” And proceeds to give him some seemingly practical guidance. That guidance leads him off course and is almost the end of him. Parents, we are all bombarded through social media streams and random strangers at the check-out line and well-meaning friends and family, with Wordly-Wiseman’s advice everyday on the plethora of choices and opinions on parenting, a lot of which seems helpful but can lead us astray. Guess what, you don’t have to play this hamster wheel game of parenting. You can simply parent. There is grace for parents too and hope in Christ who has not left us without the spirit to seek Godly wisdom on even the most mundane matters.

Do you know why many parents begin to mellow out as their kids become older?  It’s because the children they have brought into the world, their “perfect” gifts, aren’t actually perfect and in fact are sinners. Perfectly formed, sure, but sinners none-the-less. Not only that, they are sin mirrors. Children mirror our sin and our idols and once they start making their own decisions and becoming their own little people we become painstakingly aware that we woefully know nothing and are out of our depths. That might feel hopeless but it isn’t, we are not alone, we have help but our internet rabbit trails probably won’t help us arrive there. Once we realize that, I think, we have a much better grasp on this parenting thing because it’s not from our own doing.

Christian Parents, the only parenting advice you need is this:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. -Luke 10:27, ESV

You see those precious gifts of God who also mirror our failures are not what we live for, they are given to us and we must steward them well. They are our closest neighbors. So our little children and adult children alike need to be treated as such and that is only the second part of it. Firstly, Love God. Let them mirror that. Children won’t care when they are adults what parenting checklists you checked off when they were little, whether you breastfed, bottle-fed, baby wore, rolled in stroller, cried it out or cried in bed together and does it really matter if you homeschooled, unschooled, private schooled, public schooled, whether there was a tv in the house or if you did or didn’ t participate in piano, ballet, soccer, karate…this sentence alone is giving me a panic attack. The only thing that matters is the question “Did you love God with all your heart, Did you love me as yourself?”.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. -James 3:17, ESV

We are not Martyrs for our children. We don’t have to die daily to Wordly-Wisdom because God already showed us how to be good parents by being the best one, we die to sin only through the power of Christ Jesus not our mommy blogs. Parenting is scary, so take some deep breaths, we’re in this together and we have the very best Godly wisdom you can ask for. We don’t know how it will all fall or whether our children will be saved but we can pray and prod each other toward Christ and that is the best help.  Additionally, I want to challenge myself that the next time I feel like giving unprompted advice, I ask how I can pray for them as a parent instead and actually pray for them.

In this simple way, by God’s grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land–the beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty, we are to begin at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Also read this post from Kevin Deyoung: The Great Parental Freak Out

God Made All Of Me

Talking to our kids about certain issues such as our bodies, what is appropriate and what is not and what God has designed for his children, can be difficult. We have increased conversations in our home about growing, changing bodies, appropriate touch and intimacy because of my oldest who is almost as tall as me now. I actually measured her yesterday and she is two inches from five feet, at 8 years old.

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Catechising your children, why you should.

This idea of all education springing from and resting upon our relation to Almighty God-we do not merely give a religious education because that would seem to imply the possibility of some other education, a secular education, for example. But we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may at the same time be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God in which our being finds its fullest perfection. ― Charlotte M. Mason

I am not a perfect parent. In fact I may be the picture of “imperfect parent”. And, that is ok. I do not need to be perfect when I have a perfect, risen, Christ. That is why I am so eager to help my children understand the truths of the Bible. A Catechism is an excellent tool for imperfect parents to prod their children toward Truth, Beauty and Goodness. This post is my argument toward Catechising your children, with a bit of my experience so far.

Emma, my oldest, is 8 and this child has one million questions about life and plus some. I have gone into a bit of a panic mode lately as she is growing and changing and is looking more like a little lady than a baby, in my eyes. But, I know I can have  confidence in Christ and in the truths we have been teaching her.

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Every home school morning, we have Liturgy. Liturgy for us is a Hymn, our Bible Lesson, a discussion of Habits and finally our Catechism. I will delve into Liturgy on a different post but for now I have linked to the individual items we use.

We have been using the North Star Catechism for a few years now, and I have been very happy with it. It clearly written with impeccable content.

Our kids need to have their faith firmly rooted in doctrine that has weathered the centuries. For thousands of years, travelers have been guided on their journey by a fixed point in the night sky: the North Star. While other stars appear to shift with the passing of time, the North Star remains anchored. This gift allows travelers to know where they are and where they need to go. Like its celestial namesake, our prayer is that the North Star Catechism will like be a faithful guide for the next generation. — North Star Catechism

You can also get a free pdf of the Catechism from Sojourn Kids along with some other resources available.

So, we delve into these questions and Emma is hearing and learning. We memorize the questions, answers and corresponding verses. Once she has memorized a verse we put it in a rotation to revisit it, so it doesn’t completely disappear from her memory.

I wish we had started earlier. The North Star Catechism gives age suggestions for each part but since we only started a few years back we are just progressing at our own pace and I am not as worried about the age range or else we’d have to cram to be able to catch up since the ranges start at about three. I encourage to start at any age, of course earlier is better but don’t feel you have missed your chance.

I have transferred the questions and verses to index cards and we go through a few every morning.

So there is the How, but Why do we Catechise? This from John Piper:

Why is it important?

  1. We are required to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast” (Col. 1:23).
  2. We are urged to “attain to the unity of the… knowledge of the Son of God…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:13-14).
  3. There are many deceivers (1 John 2:26).
  4. There are difficult doctrines “which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
  5. Leaders must be raised up who can “give instruction in sound doctrine and also confute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

We believe these are excellent reasons to continue on. We have done the Catechism for a few years now and in the first few I wondered “Does she get it?”. Well, sometimes, you will see how your children “get it” during interesting and unexpected conversations. My daughter surprised me when we were discussing why someone was going to jail. I said in my worldliness that they were a bad person and did some bad things. She responds with “Mama, but, No one is truly Good except God.” (Q.6) and of course that, at first, surprises me and then leads to excellent discussion. Because, she is right and I am glad she heard this truth repeatedly and can tell it to me even when I need to hear it.

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Another instance was recently a very bittersweet conversation that arose. She said that she liked the President but asked why sometimes people dislike him and asked if I liked him. I said I loved him and that we should love our President and pray for him no matter if we disagree on things. She asked me what I disagreed on and I responded that the biggest thing was that our President is Pro-Choice and our family is Pro-Life. I knew that there would be a time we would need to talk about this but I didn’t expect it to be on a Saturday nature walk. So, of course she asked me what it meant. I asked her if she would be ok to talk about it because it was really sad. She said yes and I explained to her the awful truth of what Abortion is. She looked at me sadly and said “Well, Mama, that is wrong because God made everything and me (Q.1) and made those babies too, and we need to take care of them.” It was a sad conversation but I was hopeful in her answer to me and it made me happy to know she is actually “getting it.”

 

 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. —Ephesians 6:12-13

 

There are many more instances of my child speaking truth when things seem scary, dark and uncertain and I pray that there will be many more instances where she can see this light of truth and speak it with confidence. This is why we Catechise. Darkness is all around and the only remedy is breath-taking light.

The key is becoming convinced that you are furnishing your child with the mental foundation on which the rest of his or her spiritual life will be built. Or, to switch metaphors, you are laying the kindling and the logs in the fireplace, so that when the spark of the Holy Spirit ignites your child’s heart, there will be a steady, mature blaze. — Kathy Keller

I can only pray that light revealed to my child’s heart will be a mature blaze one day. I am thankful for resources like the North Star Catechism. I basically don’t know what I am doing as a parent, but none of us do. I know the only way I can combat my parental and general ignorance is through the Wisdom found in His Word and sharing that Word with my children is what I am called to do as a parent to these image-bearers of God.

Our Homeschool, This Year. (YEAR 3)

I meant to write this out much earlier and have now just gotten to it. I’ve written a homeschool plan post every year and it always helps me to think critically through our plan even if I have been teaching it for a few weeks now. It has almost been a full month since we started Year 3 and I am very excited about the selections and learning we will be doing together.

IMG_3439   Most will know that we are Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers. What this means, simply, is that we follow the Philosophy of Education that Miss Mason espoused. Charlotte Mason was a Christian, Classical Educator at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. She had a unique insight into the minds of children and was a passionate reformer of education to give all children a wide and generous curriculum. In here time only wealthy received a Classical diet or was educated at all and she wanted to not only spread the feast of education for all but make lovely and wholesome. I encourage you, if interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason to read For the Children’s Sake by Francis Schaeffer’s daughter, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay or to pick up the Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. The wisdom and love for education that Miss Mason speaks of is something worth reading about even if you choose any different form of education. It has helped me in my every day, with my children and being innately Christian has blended remarkably well with our Reformed Faith. In fact so well, I feel like I have some great secret since Charlotte Mason is not as widely know as others. A side note: There is a Reformed and Charlotte Mason group on FB for those that love Reformed Theology and Charlotte Mason’s love for the feast of education.

Education Is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.  -Charlotte Mason 

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So, back to our homeschool plan. This year will be in Year 3 according to our Ambleside Online ScheduleWe use Ambleside Online as a Charlotte Mason guide for each year and this year we continue that tradition. We follow the schedule exactly for everything except Bible and History, where we do some different selections that I will share.

I will discuss our daily schedule in a different post and that seems to be fluctuating because of my husband’s changing hours at work but generally we start school at 8 am and are done before lunch.

Here are our subjects and resources for each, everything unless otherwise listed is a selection from Ambleside Online:

Liturgy-

Bible: We will continue to use Long Story Short as a guide for reading through the Old Testament. We have been getting through the Old Testament for the last two years and we are now in Joshua and moving forward. By the time we are through we will have completely almost all the key readings in the Old Testament and will move on to Old Story New which is the same guide but for the New Testament until we complete the entire Bible. I really love this resource. I will say that I do modify it for my needs and to make it fit within a Charlotte Mason framework. I do not typically use the illustrations at the beginning of each week and will sometimes include narration and forego the questions. Emma enjoys a lot of the questions though and they are usually about how the story points to Jesus, etc. so I enjoy them as well. We also have a Bible that corresponds with the readings but it is not necessary.

Catechism and Scripture Memory: We continue with the North Star Catechism this year. I have a post in draft about why I think you should Catechise your children and will hopefully post later this week. We love this Catechism and are memorizing at our own pace.

Habits: Charlotte Mason was a big believer in Habit Training and we honestly all need some habits trained, do we not? We are walking through Laying Down the Rails for Children and are currently reading and discussing about a Sweet, Even Temper which covers tantrums and complaining and encourages joy instead. There are poems and stories to narrate and discuss. It is a great way to talk about these concerns. It truly is a help to myself as well.

Hymn: We follow the Ambleside Online Hymn schedule. We are on How Firm a Foundation this month and will be transitioning to I Bind Unto Myself Today for September and following the schedule the rest of the year.

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Early American: We are continuing with Beautiful Feet History this year and yes, are still in Early American. Last year, being the insane year it was, History typically took a back seat. Thankfully, Emma remembered a lot from where we left off and so we picked up in Jamestowne this year. We are now reading Pilgrim Stories from Margaret Pumphrey and Emma seems to be immersed in their world. What is cool that we have been able to trace back our family line to Early Colonial times and it is rumored that one member was one of the Mayflower Pilgrims but I haven’t been able to find who yet. There was definitely some Jamestowne Colonists in the line from our searches.

Church History: The selections from Trial and Triumph this year will be Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and more.

Biography: We will read biographies throughout the year. Da Vinci by Emily Hahn, Bard of Avon by Peter Vennema and Pilgrim’s Landing by James Daugherty.

Geography: Marco Polo by Demi and Charlotte Mason Geography selections for the year, found on Ambleside Online.

Natural History and Science: We will be using Pagoo by Hollings , Secret of the Woods by Long , A Drop of Water by Wick along with Nature Studying in Nature Journals. We also do Nature in our local Charlotte Mason co-op.

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Math: Math U See again this year, she loves the counting block manipulatives.

Reading: We will finish Explode the Code book we are in and then use the Discover Reading Lesson Plan and Activity Guide by Amy Tuttle. Emma struggles with reading and we have just been slowly prodding her toward Literacy. A little a day, I tell her and I encourage her to continue on. In addition, she reads a few pages from a reader of her choice daily because if there is no reading going on in our house then there is no screen-time either. At least that is what this year looks like.

Copywork: We use Handwriting Without Tears and it is very simple to follow and she gets through it quickly and without much drama, hence why we chose it.

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Poetry:  This year we will reading and memorizing from William Blake, Sara Teasdale and Hilda Conkling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We also will be reemphasizing all learning within Poetry Studies in our Charlotte Mason Co-op.

Literature: The literature selections are usually the jewel of Charlotte Mason Education and this year is no exception.  We will be reading Parables from Nature, by Margaret Gatty, American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenburg (Emma is loving Paul Bunyan), The Heroes by Charles Kingsley,
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Children of the New Forest by F. Marryat, and The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

Shakespeare: Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb, selections from the Ambleside Schedule

Free Reading:

We Typically cuddle on the couch and I read aloud through these selections. It is such a sweet time of the day. As she gets older she will read independently, her free reads. Selections this year are A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald, Men of Iron by Howard Pyle, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, Unknown to History: Captivity of Mary of Scotland, by Charlotte Yonge, Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink , On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge , The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright, English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry, and The Wheel on the School, by Meindert De Jong.

Weekly Work-

Spanish: We are introducing Gouin Series’ at her own pace. We are using the book Speaking Spanish with Miss
Mason and François from Cherrydale Press.

Art Study: Along with our Co-op we will study Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jacques- Louis David and Hans Holbein the Younger.

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Composer Study: Along with our Co-op we will study Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

Folksong: We will follow the Folksong schedule for the year by simply listening to the songs during Masterly Inactivity.

Art Instruction: We will be doing simple pencil and pen and ink instruction this year. Nature Journaling also overlaps into Art instruction.

Handicrafts: Emma is learning to sew softies and doll accessories with the book Baby Stuff.  It is a Japanese Book translated to English. I like it because it is not so much a Sewing instruction book but has step by step directions for doing a project including the types of stitches you need to make, etc.

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I love the lovely thoughts and ideas on the schedule this year. I am excited to learn with Emma. I learn so much as well and Self-Education is one of the wonderful things about homeschooling and teaching homeschool. It is my goal to not forget though that “Education Is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life”. 

“The question is not, — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”
Charlotte M. Mason, School Education: Developing A Curriculum

I want to be wise and make an atmosphere of security, comfort and joy while we learn and live. That is so why I love a Charlotte Mason Education. The emphasis is put on the family and the atmosphere and growing together in Life. It is not how much she knows but how much she cares.


 

 

You can see our previous CM Years here: YEAR 1 & YEAR 2 and more Charlotte Mason posts in the CHARLOTTE MASON HOMESCHOOL tab.


We have an online Charlotte Mason community at CharlotteMasonLiving.com or on Instagram @charlottemasonliving. It is a beautiful space, come join us.

 

Messy Hearts over Messy Homes.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. -PSALM 51:6

I haven’t posted in quite awhile. I have a series of health concerns right now that have made life slightly harried. The doctors discovered that I have a non-threatening cyst in my sinus that is compressing a nerve in my face causing odd symptoms like facial numbness and dizziness. And while at the doctor for that issue they diagnosed me with Hypothyroidism, which makes complete sense if you know me in real life. I haven’t been able to give another answer than tired to the question, “how are you?” in years. I am on a thyroid replacement now and am praying that it will help my body make the needed changes. The fact that I can even write a single coherent sentence is probably proof that it is.

So, I have been tired, recovering and the house is a mess (well, it normally is but x100). There is no perfect in this equation. There never really was on my best day though, you understand. But God doesn’t call us to perfection he calls us to righteousness. He calls us to deal with messy hearts first. There can be a lot of guilt or criticism placed on women to keep pristine homes at the sake of the Gospel. Guilt has no place in our lives, we can lay that down at the feet of Christ. We are perfectly imperfect and Christ is perfectly perfect. Mothers and Wives, this is hard stuff, this life. Believe me, you need grace.

 Moms, please go read this piece I read the week: God’s Math for Good Mothering by Liz Wann. Be encouraged by much needed grace.

And we do need Grace. Grace is not a ticket to easy living. Grace is Christ saying it’s hard but I give you myself for this moment, for all the moments. Each and every hard and tear-filled moment, each joyful moment, each discouraging and heart-dampening moment, all of them, he came to be with us for all of them.

So, as I look at my laundry mountain and bristle from some recent experiences with how people perceive me, my home and my messy life, I want to encourage others. Don’t be more concerned about your messy home than your messy heart. All these things we surround ourselves with are usually outward presentations of inward hearts. Of course the keeping of the home is a God honoring position and we shouldn’t shrug it aside but we have precedent for knowing what is of the most import.

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
(Luke 10:39 ESV)

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

Martha was anxious and troubled about Mary’s choice to sit at Christ’s feet. She was anxious and troubled about many things, but Christ lovingly instructed her to focus only on the one thing. Only one thing is necessary. The greek word for neccessary is chreia (Strong’s G5532) which refers to anything needed for life or sustenance.  “such things as suited the exigency, such things as we needed for sustenance and the journey. ” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) So, the one thing, Christ should be our primary focus.

I don’t want to be anxious about the many things but focused on the one thing. I do though, struggle with all the anxieties placed on me from the many things. And, oh, there are so many things that cause them these days. Our hearts, schedules and facebook feeds are full of them. Are you assailed by the many things that distract from the one thing?

Then let us focus on the one thing, Christ, and let the work we do with our hands be an outpouring of transforming hearts.

“He applauded her for her wisdom: She hath chosen the good part;for she chose to be with Christ, to take her part with him; she chose the better business, and the better happiness, and took a better way of honouring Christ and of pleasing him, by receiving his word into her heart, than Martha did by providing for his entertainment in her house.” -Matthew Henry Commentary

The verse at the top of the blog, Psalm 51:6 is something I want to know, truth in the inward being. This is where wisdom starts at the place where we awe and reverently fear the Lord and sit at his feet because we know we can’t do anything but, because only ONE thing matters.

C. H. Spurgeon says: To sit at Jesus’ feet implies faith as well as submission. Mary believed in what Jesus said, and, therefore, sat there to be taught by him. It is absolutely necessary that we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in his power as God and man, in his death as being expiatory, in his crucifixion as being a sacrifice for our sins. We must trust him for time and eternity, in all his relationships as Prophet, Priest, and King. We must rely on him; he must be our hope, our salvation, our all in all. This one thing is absolutely necessary: without it we are undone. A believing submission, and a submissive faith in Jesus we must have, or perish.

So, I encourage us to be concerned with our messy hearts firstly or it will be our undoing. God will provide the ability and the tools necessary for the messy homes if we trust in him and are not anxious. Like always, this blog is a way of preaching to myself, so I need to hear this most of all.

Perhaps, you do not struggle with anxiety when it comes to homemaking and you are a “Mary” in your home. Maybe, home keeping is of a second nature and something that pours out from a place of wisdom and trust in God. I am so thankful there are people that are gifted in this way. Alternatively, I struggle and know many that do as well, with keeping the home. My encouragement is not “let your house get messy” but rather if the dishes go undone because you carve time for bible study and prayer then let them. There is no need to worry about these things and no need to be concerned with people’s opinions of you in regards to them.

 I pray as well that believing women can love and not judge one another. Sometimes the most emotional harm done to Christian Women are committed by other well-meaning “Christian Women”. A messy home is usually symptomatic and representative of need and if you love one another harsh criticism or gossip is not the answer. Be the sister that shows Grace and sees people’s lives in the Gospel lens of Christ where the many things are of no matter. But also when there is need be the Sister that prays and offers help. In my illness recently I have had the sweetest help from sisters in our church. They have brought food, cared for children and one lovely friend even hired a house cleaner to help me tackle what felt insurmountable. They have done all of this with zero criticism and so much Grace that I am just drowning in Grace. That’s a good thing. I am beyond blessed, God is good and uses his people for his good.

I am probably the worst homemaker, though I’m sure there are worse if I’m not hyperbolic. I have never had a desire to keep up house nor did I even have the desire originally to stay at home with children. But, I know God is changing my heart and even though my distracted mind or the opinions of others can cause me anxieties, I want to sit at his feet and give those thoughts to him. If I am more concerned with my messy heart firstly, I know God will shine his Gospel light on my messy life and home and we can deal with it together. I may be the worst homemaker, but he is the greatest heart maker and only he can do the changing.

Going to the Farm

Some weeks feel endless. Most weeks feel endless, lately. There are many reasons. One is that I have a personal family goal of slowliving and I want an atmosphere that is long been forgotten in homes. One of peace and rest. I believe Thoreau said “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

and I agree. I want the atmosphere of Family and the Home to be one that is a respite to busy lives and much-ness. Unfortunately, it’s been quite the opposite lately. Kenny works two jobs, pretty much, with unpredictable schedules and I take free-lance work as well and add in activities and co-op and various other things like a house full of sick people and a trip to the E.R. for a daredevil gash to the face (Alice), the weeks can fill before there is a moment to breathe. I am learning to say “I just can’t”, It’s hard for a person that craves interaction with others but I feel so much better when I do because I actually can’t, I need to give it to God.  And what are we truly busy about anyway? Nothing much, really. When the schedules fight for our slow time like little daggers to our calendar, what good is it? I get overwhelmed easily these days and busy-ness is not something I could even want to fight for. In those moments this extrovert wants to become a recluse to society. And yet, there are things we want to mark time for that I don’t consider busy-ness. Like the fact that we hardly have had any family vacations, or can pull together enough extra finances to do so. But there are simple things I am learning to carve time for and it’s nice to do them in a place of perspective. So we went to the Farm to see sheep shearing, it was good intentional family time.

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Let us tend to our flock like the Greatest Shepherd tends to his.

The Lamb

William Blake
Little Lamb, who made thee
Does thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice.
Making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee
Does thou know who made theeLittle Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee;
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by His name,
Little Lamb God bless thee,
Little Lamb God bless thee.

Plans and Priorities 2015

I’m slowly getting back into blogging this year after a whirlwind of a holiday season and one post last week and one this week kicks it off. I have been a bit busy organizing the new Charlotte Mason Living site and IG, and am really excited about all the wonderful Charlotte Mason ladies participating and contributing. Please check it out if you home school. Like I mentioned last week I was going to review my plans and priorities from last year and discuss my progress and then set my plans and priorities for 2015.

Over all, I think it was a really good thing to set plans and priorities last year, I was able to accomplish a lot of what I set just by naming the desire to do it and working toward it slowly. It’s not about checking everything off the list, it is more about the process. We all know resolutions most times can be pointless but if we write down the things we want and think of practical steps to get us there, the elephant doesn’t seem so big. I do like to cross things out, still. No, really, it is nice to check things off the list, I sometimes put things I have already finished on lists at home just so I can cross them out, we all know that accomplished feeling. There is reward in even working toward a goal. Well, we all know that I am a procrastinator at by nature but not wanting to be as I get older my inner self starter is emerging. Thank God, truly, because I think we can only live like uninterested college students for so long.

So, like I mentioned in my last post I have my plans and priorites set into three categories; Faith, Art, and Family.  I post all these here every year for accountability to myself and from others, so please ask me how these things are going and share your priorites as well. The key word for us this year is Resolute. It’s not about resolutions but about the resolve to do what we set out to do.

Here it is:

Faith- The only two things that matter when it comes to my priorities for Faith; Study and Pray, Study and Pray, Study and Pray. Last year I had a long list of priorities when it came to Faith and through listening to those wiser than myself and learning through last year, I know that all things faith really should spring forth from those two things. Here’s a great article on reading the word in 2015: Desiring God.

Family- My role as Wife and Mother is a priority. I am praying that I continue to make my family a priority above other trivial things, social media, etc. I am learning everyday a little bit more about how to maintain a household and care for a family. It is not easy, and even though sometimes there is an illusion of easy or perfection, the truth is that it is the hardest job I have ever had. My number one plan and priority for our Family is that we learn to show Grace and Love like Christ does to us.

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Homeschooling is of course a part of our family life and as I pointed out we are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Charlotte Mason says that “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”. This is true for anyone not just CM families. We teach and learn and live each and every day.  As part of my plans and priorities I am going to flush that statement out more this year and try to create an atmosphere that breeds good habits, learning well and broadly, and encompasses our family values and faith. Homeschooling for us is not “doing school” at home. It is life. We do Liturgy every morning, We read aloud, We learn about artists and poets and nature. It is a generous education and I am learning so much as we progress too. We really just enjoy the time spent together and it has been a lovely experience for us. I hope to help all these to thrive even more in 2015.

Edited to add Health is very important this year for our family and will pursue it with family, I hope to write more about that later.

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Art- This of course is last on my list of priorities but it is not unimportant to our lives. While we continue to work on exciting things for bensonbenson co. and for ourselves, I hope to not let that creative part of me shrivel up. I feel like doing art is like learning a language, it’s a “use it or lose it” sort of thing, in a way, but it is also like “riding a bike”, I guess if I have to use all the cliches. What I mean is that though some things are forgotten, some always remain, I am learning to keep myself focused on art in a way that motivates me to create. I am working on a book cover and some other small projects right now and it has been really great putting to good use my Art background.IMG_1510

A pattern I made for the Book Cover project. Im really loving it.

Pray for me as we start the year, 2014 was a tough year for us and with the grace of God we kicked it’s butt, I pray the same and more for 2015. What are your Plans and Priorities for the year? Share them here and I will definitely ask you about them when I see you.