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My latest book, "Snapshots" is back up, please feel free to download and read (see right side bar to access your e-copy)! However, other Documents are still temporarily off-line as we continue recovery after the major hacking of our secondary site. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, in-article free download documents will be back up soon.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Center of my Heart: Where Worship Should Be


Music drifted through the air, weaving into my dreams and lifting me awake.  It is the morning wake-up call streaming from my old clock radio, Chris Tomlin's heart-felt rendition, "Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone".  Me and God been having some conversations lately on areas I have gotten lazy comfortable in my faith.  This comfort has led to a void I am desperate to see re-filled with His presence.  Not a complete void.... but this little spot right close to the center of my heart.

As always, when you pray for answers and help and you will receive... often the unexpected.

The repeated message has been WORSHIP.  He has spoke this to me through songs on the radio, through books I read (not even on worship) and conversations.  God has been reminding me of a need to worship with my WHOLE heart in prayer and music.


....It is in the measures of my morning prayer to prep my heart for study.

....It is in the music coming through the speakers of my radio and appreciating what the station plays instead of pushing through a surf fest of what fits my mood in the moment while neglecting the needed words for all moments.

....It is in my attitude of worship as we sing Sunday morning.

....It is in my meal-time prayers and whether I am wanting to just get to the food... or simply rest in his presence for a moment before enjoying the food He has so graciously provided.

....It is in every moment I breathe and walk... living a life of living sacrifice in an attitude of gratefulness and worship to the One who called me and loved me even in the moments I was unlovable.


So Amazing Grace washes over me and I lay there pondering all these things, all these message he has so lovingly sent my way the last few weeks.  I thought of how my husband often says worship is the most important part of a church service...of how the HEART of worship is often missing at many churches.

Then I rose to prepare for my day.  Russling through drawers for items to wear, the hum of my thoughts blending with the final notes of  the music which woke me.  Radio commentators banter, then, a caller.  A woman who leads worship at her church.  Recently the station had played the amazing sound of a comet.... this woman's young son heard it and asked innocently, "Mommy, isn't there a passage in the Bible that says if people don't worship, the rocks will?"  She was taken a-back and felt moved to share the sound byte with her congregation, through tears she poured out her heart to all in attendance, oh, that the rocks wouldn't HAVE TO worship because we're not.

Oh, that they wouldn't have to because I'M not.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop." [they were praising and calling Jesus the son of God and the Pharisees considered this blaspheme] He answered, "I tell you , if these were silent, the stones would shout out."
- Luke 19:39-40

So what IS worship?  What does it look like?  How do I obtain the worship needed to fill that tiny little place right next to the center of my heart?

God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
- John 4:24

More than JUST that.... God is seeking those who are worshiping him like this...

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.
- John 4:23

In this John 4 account, Jesus is talking with the Samaritan woman by the well.  We see how worship isn't JUST music, it was also praying and inclining our hearts... they did it on a hill... Jesus was saying the time is coming when you can worship God right-where-you-are.

What is spiritual worship?

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
-Romans 12:1

For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.  Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
-Hebrews 12:14-15

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe.
-Hebrews 12:28

Oh, that we wouldn't come to our King with a lax-a-daisy heart.  He has done so much for us.  Our Lord Jesus was beaten and crucified that we might have hope and joy and peace.  He prepares a place to us, our home is not HERE and as we look at a broken and failing world, the hope of an eternity waiting should be the greatest news, worthy of our continual praise and worship.

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise
to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence
with thanksgiving; let us
make a joyful noise to him with
songs of praise! For the
Lord is a great God, and
a great King above all gods
- Psalm 95:1-3


As we look towards Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, I pray you would remember the heart of worship and enter into His presence with Thanksgiving with so much exuberance that the rocks would not need to cry out because our praises would be more than enough!

Blessings,










Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Presense of Season


It's that time of year again.... the time of year when a whole season seems to fit like a warm glove. 

The scent drifts on the breezes of September... and linger with the chill of October.  But oh, November, the air is just teaming with the sensations of warm yesterdays and sweet tomorrows.  The memories of family... friends.... years drifted by.  The hope of what the future will hold.  It is a season which begins with crunchy leaves and color filled trees and peeks with the crunch of snow and colored filled trees aglow.

But this year... this year is slightly different in my household.  I  no longer have small hands carrying the sweet little picture books with frantic turkeys or talking leaves filling the pages.  Little voices singing "over the river" and giggling frantically as Mr Gobbles, our plush turkey, lets out his seasonal gobble.

Yet, even as these little things change, others stay the same.... the endearing call to continue our contest of annual turkey disguise.... and everyone gathering around to watch Charlie Brown try to kick that football one more time!  We dream and speculate of Christmastime coming.  We talk more excitedly this year because big brother will be along to visit.... a treat 3 long years in the waiting.

Such are the seasons of life though... like those of a year all tattered and worn.  The last frays of joy before the clock clicks over to start all over again brand.spanking.new.  Life too has its ebbs and flows.  The waitings, the wanderings, the plannings, the rejoicings.  Oh sweet life which gives such variety to living.... oh sweet Lord Who walks us along.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:..... [God] has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 
- Ecclesiastes 3:1,11

I pray you are wrapped in His presence as this exhilarating season comes into full swing.

Blessings, 

Friday, October 10, 2014

C.S. Lewis & A Mere Review

It is book review time!!!  And boy, do I have a book to share with you....

http://www.amazon.com/C-S-Lewis-Mere-Christianity/dp/162405322X

If you are even semi-interested in history (especially of the WWI/WWII era), progress/regress of Christianity, and/or ANYTHING C.S. Lewis, this book will rope you in and not let you go until the very last page... and even then!!

C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created A Classic by Paul McCusker is a biographical account not only of C.S. Lewis, but of the events, people, and organizations which influenced and catapulted him to the status of great author and common theologian we remember him for today.  From his birth in late 1800s Ireland, to his time away from the faith and in the trenches of WWI... to his rebirth as a follower of Christ and the influential relationships with men such as JRR Tolkien and BBC executives.  Snap-shot biographies of other pivotal figures of the time provide an in-depth understanding behind each event discussed.  A perspective rare but welcomed in a historical account focused on one man in a lifetime affected by so many. The events leading up to Mere Christianity are painted clearly and with such color that you hardly feel you are reading a historical biography.

Paul McCusker's book was well researched, drawing from multiple authentic sources.  He spans the events of C.S. Lewis' life well and makes no assumptions, rather, draws from first-hand accounts to express mere facts.

My only critique of this book would be the occasional disconnection in the timeline of events.  As the author builds the frame of happenings and seeks to tie them all in for the reader to understand drive, factors and emotions of the time, he occasionally jumps back and forth on that frame-work, disconnecting the reader from what should be a cohesive string of events.

This is a minor complaint when considering the deep theological and historical reflections of one of modern literature's greatest writers, and Christianity's greatest modern proponents.  If only more men today were like C.S. Lewis in their boldness of faith and character.

Consequently, I am planning a literature curriculum around this book  One which will meld history and the various literary and worldview works of C.S. Lewis as a high school 'requirement' for my students.  I feel an understanding of this (and related) works is THAT important to their worldview understanding as they launch into their adult life.

received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House - See more at: http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/5_nav/guidelines.php#sthash.Xb0fjfaZ.dpuf
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House for my review. This review is my opinion alone.


received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House - See more at: http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/5_nav/guidelines.php#sthash.Xb0fjfaZ.dpuf

Marriage Advice In Retrospect


What child doesn't fantasize of the perfect marriage?  I know I did... even as an adult I falsely believed for years in a marriage without trouble.  After all, a marriage with trouble meant we weren't compatible.  A marriage where hate and anger crept in was one where you really didn't 'get' each other... and likely never would.  Marriage meant he always leaned my way because that is what gentlemen do... right?  And the idea of my husband as my BFF... please... that is what other women are for, that way we can get together and talk about all the ridiculous things pertaining to husbands (like I could do that with my man).

Then God revealed a Biblical marriage to me.  A marriage which entailed ups and downs... a marriage which required selfless and willing compromise, a marriage where anger (and yes, even hate) may creep in but the power of the Spirit could push it back out.  A marriage where cleaving was so beautiful on so many levels that my husband could and should be my BFF and any unwholesome talk about him to others was not only destructive for him... but it was also destructive to our relationship as a whole.

Today is our wedding anniversary.  I am so blessed by the biblical marriage God has transformed ours to be.  I am reminded of my grandparent's sage wisdom when I sought there council at their 50th wedding anniversary, a year before my marriage.  Grandpa said NO MATTER WHAT, don't go to bed angry... yet, realizing how unrealistic that could be at times, he tenderly added, if you can't resolve your conflict before you go to sleep, at least say "I Love You" and then take care of it in the morning.  Such wonderful advice as I reflect on this tidbit I ran across in Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul:


Marriage Advice from 1886
Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger.
Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.
Believe the best rather than the worst.
People have a way of living up or down to your opinion of them.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship.  The person you choose to marry is deserving of the courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friends.
Please hand this down to your children and your children's children: The more things change the more they are the same.

Jane Wells (1886)


Timeless and true.

I pray your marriage is packed full of the truth of God's Call and love... when the waters are rough, His joy keeps you anchored and holding steadfast!

Blessings,

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Proces of Being Bloggy


It's 1a.m., no longer Friday!  How did that happen?  Five minutes ago, or so it seemed, I was nodding approval to a pre-bedtime shower for Miss Brooke.  Now, here I am, the loud tick of a wall clack in the quiet of a sleeping house... I'm usually sleeping with the house!

Not tonight.

It is such a long story which brings me back after months of blogging silence.  One I won't dive into the dirty details here.  The highlights, however, would be....

...a whirl-wind of LIFE and those still lingering wisps of Bloom from 2013...

...compounded by an afrontive sign at a local establishment I can't even remember the exact words of anymore, however, it left me feeling like a fool for investing my time tapping keys to articles which may-or may not- be read by the masses (did I temporarily forget my promise to be an upside down blogger??)...

...the ponder and pray process which led to realizing I am called to blog, regardless of silly shop signs (there is always a critic somewhere!) and I simply needed to lean into the Lord for balance.  A little move, Mom's Night Out, did A LOT to encourage me as well.  If you haven't seen it... you should.

The beginning and middle of this process has been propped up by a Call I have felt for more than a year now to change the name of my blog.  This spring, God gave me the drive and the words, "Faith and Home".  I began considering a Wordpress migrate, my husband even excitedly purchased a domain name for me and began the tedious process of a Joomla set-up.  From this point on the story gets long (and occasionally techy) but needless to say, nothing has migrated.  Not sure if or when it will.... I'm not one for self-induced ulcers!!!

In the meantime, Facebook has welcomed the new name and the 'skin' of Faithful has had a sort of 'lift'.  I determined to keep with the sunflowers because their meaning has become ever-more profound to me.  An article I hope to expand on soon.

The balance.... and the bloom.... translate to no more rigid blogging schedule.  It took too much from my family.  However, now that the bulk of my tweeking and revamping is complete, I do hope to write more than once a month!!!  Maybe even once a week.

Thanks to those who have stuck by, prayed for, and encouraged me. I look forward to sharing more!

Blessings,



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Adventures Treasured and the Moments We Remember


When my children were small there was always an 'adventure'.  Growing up, I called it 'pretend' but what I encouraged in my children was more than just fleeting ideas of play... it was experience and exploration fueled by vivid imagination.

Often times they took stuffed animal friends with them.  If I could turn their adventures and imagination into a story book... oh what a colorful collage it would be!  And in all the rough-ness and 'traveling' to-and-fro, sometimes their friends became 'injured'.  We had what we called the stuffed animal hospital.  When one had a rip or a tear, they came in while his/her friends waited outside with baited breath for a report from Doctor Mom who would bring them news of surgery results.

One particularly adventurous day there were three desperate patients... a penguin, a dog, and a frog.  I still can't remember if they were scaling Mt. Everest or bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge or swinging from vines in a rain forest, but all three entered my 'office' with serious fractures.... and by the time each successful surgery was completed, a poem was born.  One which I stumbled across today, like a piece of time waiting to be remembered.  I share it with you here (perhaps not my best work, but most certainly a fun piece) hoping you might remember these fleeting moments when all needs seem to pool into one hopeless point... one day those points of 'too much at once' will be what you look back on and treasure the most.



A Penguin, a dog and a frog
By Amanda Jones

A Penguin, a dog, and a frog
Oh how can it be?
That these unlikely three
Could end up in such a bog

A Penguin, a dog, and a frog
Were playing just fine today
When, “rip” there was a tear
And another one over there
And now they need help right away

A Penguin, dog, and a frog
With a little bit of string
I need a needle too
With one stitch here
And another stitch there
Look!  They are as good as new.

A Penguin, a dog, and a frog
Are headed back out to play
They are all stitched
I bet you didn’t guess
That they would be fine today.

A Penguin, a dog, and a frog
Our story is now all told
Mom fixed them all up
But…
oops…
Where is the button for my coat?


Blessings,




 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Faith Like Hannah



He is going to be 20 in a few short weeks.  Twenty.  This picture is a snapshot in my heart: his first day of Kindergarten (before I began homeschooling my kiddos).  I remember that red nylon jacket and how his little warm body felt pressed close as he wrapped his arms tightly around my neck and I wrapped mine around his solid form for big squeezes when bear hugging mama was 'cool'.  Oh how I had longed for a tender-hearted boy back when children were but a twinkle in my eye.  And there he stood, just as warm-hearted as ever, a crayon colored paper in hand to show his affection to his new teacher.

Then the angsty days of 'teen' hit, bear hugging mama wasn't cool anymore and to this social-lite public-schooler... neither was the idea of mom and dad giving up all... even our home of most his formidable years... to go into full-time missions work.  Oh how he rebelled.  Thankfully, he did it in a healthy way (no drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity) but he rebelled in his own way none-the-less.  My mama heart cried for this man-child, wanting to give him the home he desired but wanting, more, to obey God's call. 

One sunny afternoon I took a searching walk, children and path ahead in my heart, I called out to God and He answered: He is mineAs I called Abraham to give up his first, I call you to trust me with yours.

It was profound and moving.  Though, like Abe building a pyre, it was a bitter-sweet labor of love and trust that God had Big plans... He would care for His own... my children were never really mine to begin with. I walked forward, heart given over, I trusted my first born into God's hands...

I guess that is one reason I understand Hannah so well in 1 Samuel 1-2.  Barren and tormented by the barbs of Peninnah, Elkanah's other more fertile wife (but Hannah was his favored one).  Yet she doesn't seem to retaliate or give up... she goes to the temple to pray.  No spiking Peninnah's soup or putting snakes in her bed.  Nope, she gives herself over to the Lord, weeping and broken.  She is so distressed that Eli accuses her of drunkenness!  But she isn't drunk...

Hannah took her grief to the Lord and sought His comfort and council for her depressed situation.  I see meekness in the presence of her adversaries.  She commits NOT to bicker or return contempt - rather - seeking peace and council from the Lord.  The outcome?  She found peace.... and then came  Samuel.  Is it any surprise he was such an amazing prophet? 

She kept her word and gave him over to the Lord's service when he was old enough.  Oh how hard it had to be to leave him at the temple with Eli.  To walk away and just Trust... God had him in the palm of his hand.  Oh, she visited and brought clothes and no doubt hugged and kissed him as long as hugs were cool!  But the biggest point - she trusted God with her troubles and she trusted God with her children.

As a result of her faith, God blessed her with FIVE more children!!!  Such a testimony for a once barren woman.

Oh to live life with the faith of Hannah... giving all to God and not giving in to the torments of the world.  Even if it meant a promise of her first-born.

As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
1 Samuel 3:19

I pray you have faith like Hannah... instead of running to address the world in its unjust barbs... run to bow at the alter of the Lord and search Him for the answers and peace you need.

Consequently, my almost 20 year old has seen God move in his life as a result of our obedience.  His faith was made stronger and I found such a great blessing in seeing his path grow closer... not farther... when I followed God and gave Him my first-born.



Blessings,








Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Lord of My Time

I use to be one of those frantic moms... you know, the one trying to hold it together as the world falls apart.  Trying to get done the 50 things that will make me look like I am really on the ball when I barely have time (or energy) for the 10 things which would at least make me look like I had some measure of control.

It was always at the height of setting order (which was really always just out of reach) when the children or a friend or a family member would call on me... an interruption.  With others I would grin and comply but with my children... well, that was another story.

I wasn't a mean, nasty, ogre... but I would put them off, respond through gritted teeth, or (in the most frantic situations) I would snap just give me a minute.

Bless those poor little hearts.

How did it change exactly?  I can't say for sure.  But somewhere in the midst of the chaos and the pitter patter God reached into my life and drew me close to hear the steadiness of His heart beat.  He opened my eyes to the fleeting moments with my loved ones which became lost behind my pile of to-do and the stress which often ensued.  He reminded me of what.really.mattered.  And He called me to just let go and let Him take control.

I realized... it was never my time to begin with... it was always His and when I stopped trying to stuff my agenda into His plans... somehow things got easier!  I slowed.way.down.  I am still reminded from time-to-time to simply breathe in and out.  To recall where I was and what the changes were which delivered me from there:

1. Recognize the flow of time God has designed around me.  It may seem like chaos, but the truth is, if we stop pushing our agenda, we can often see the natural flow of the day.  WE may want to clean after lunch while kids have free time but baby wants cuddles and a rock for nap.  WE may desire some book time in the evenings but the neighbor kids are knocking on the door or Betty Sue stops by to chat.  Welcome all these and more!

2. Pray over and re-define my need-tos vs. want-tos.  It is amazing how much, we as moms, will heap onto our pile of to-do.  All good intentions but much of it is often details which don't make-or-break the peace of the day.  I use to fret over how much baking I got done while schooling the kids AND dusting the living room....and all my husband wanted to know was why I hadn't cleaned the toilet in recent history!!  I felt affronted at all he didn't notice but the truth was, God was showing me what truly mattered... even if it was just a clean commode! Which brings me to...

3. Truly listen to my family.  It is amazing how simple a joy can be when we stop complicating the process!  Whether it was my husband and clean toilets or my kids and just taking time to play a game or read a book... most often my family wasn't concerned with the same things I was when I presumed what was needed to make a happy and peaceful home.  Why focus on what is not fruitful!

4. Give up the glamor and the glory.  Magazines lie... so do many designing t.v. shows.  Real houses really are NOT immaculate and don't let the vloggers fool you... I am even guilty of cleaning the area my camera will pick up and leaving the rest a mess!!!  Life.happens.period.  Kids walk through with messy hands or crackers spill on the carpet.  Last night's Uno game was forgotten in the shuffle to get ready for bed and cards fell under the table next to last week's marbles.  Accept the mess.  It is a fact of life.  My rule: I want people to come in, be able to sit down on a [clean] couch, use the toilet and kitchen without fearing disease and... on a good day... not stick to the floor!  It is amazing how much peace this alone will bring!

5. Accept help.  Children are never to young to help with chores.  Even the toddlers can feel purpose and learn responsibility if you give them a dust rag and show them how to swipe a low shelf or have them help clean up stray toys and run trinkets to other corners of the house.  You are not alone and you are no-less a 'super mom' if you have help.  After all, even Batman had a side-kick!

These are just some of my nuggets of peace God revealed to me... some through my husband's encouragement and others simply through the whispers in my heart.  Accept His plan for your day and revel in the grace and peace which will result (once you get use to letting go of YOUR way!!)

Blessings,





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

He Is My Praise


I've been convicted for some time now... convicted of that mediocre prayer where I say, "Thank you for all you do in my life... thank you for all you bless me with."  So what is wrong with that?  Nothing, exactly, if you mean it.  So what is the conviction?  It is that need to praise him not just for what God does... but simply for who He is.

It is like our spouse or children or parents... we don't appreciate them in our lives because of what they have done/or do/or give... we love them because they are.  And while God does desire our gratitude, what he wants most is our praise simply because He is.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.
- Deuteronomy 10:17, 20-21

Tucked right there in Deuteronomy 10, my heart grabs in my chest... He is my praise.  Plain.and.simple.  

God of gods...
Lord of lords
great
mighty 
awesome
He is our God
 
And it isn't even because he did anything that he is awesome.... He is awesome and all that he does is a mere and incomparable reflection of that.

He ... is... my... praise.

What if, for today, I just.praised because He is.

When Moses asked the burning bush, God revealed himself as "I AM" Nothing else was needed.  When the guards appeared to arrest Jesus, Jesus declared the same, "I AM". 

He is, and so He is my praise. 

This song today is a fun but oh-so-true reminder of just what God should be.  The praise that courses through our veins and creates our most favorite song we want to praise and sing again and again.


Lord... thank you... just.thank.you.

I pray you hear His melody in your heart, each minute, of every day... praising him in the good, the bad, and everywhere in-between.Simply because he.is.

Blessings,






Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rocking Chair Trips


Mother's Day has took on new meaning when my mom passed away 12 years ago.  My step-mom and I aren't close (she didn't raise me) and my mother-in-law is a blessing, however, she didn't raise me either.  I feel sort of orphaned....

I have shared with many how the loss of a mother is one of the deepest losses because she is (as I call it) the keeper of memories.  Dads are amazing, and not to be short-changed, but when dads slept in, or left for work, or watched football.... moms woke early, toiled over our spills and messes, and noticed every detail of our little lives.  Moms are right.there from the moment we enter the world and they remember all.

When a mom is gone, a treasure trove of wisdom and all things 'past' is lost with her.  Her love and memory is irreplaceable.  No one else can share the trinkets of 'what was' as a mother can.

So, as Mother's Day approaches I gladly honor my mother-in-law and I also enjoy the time to tuck away certain treasures into my own chest of memories I hope to share again when my children are grown.

This poem is one of my most treasured memories.  I wrote it when my children were much smaller... when 2 (and on a good day 3) could climb up on my lap as I rocked babies and toddlers through many moments...



Rocking Chair Trips
By Amanda Jones

I rocked 10 miles
In my rocking chair today
Through laughter and smiles
And kissing tears away

I must have read the same book
A million times
To a curly head toddler
Who seems to never tier

I sang sweet songs
Into bright little eyes
While pudgy little hands
Held my fingers so tight

I worried then sighed
And happily reminisced
Of adventures going by
On my rocking chair trips

Yesterdays, todays, tomorrows
Will rock by
My baby, my toddler and
My growing little guy

We all ride together
Sharing our dreams and our love
Sitting and rocking and thinking of my little family
I thank the Lord up above

My rocking chair trips
Are nowhere near end
We still come and go each day
As naps and stories require the gentle swaying again

But when my children have all grown
And my grand-kids come about
I will take them upon my knee
In my rocking chair we will head out

10 miles and then back
Sharing stories and our love
And I will smile and again
Be thankful for what God has given me from above.

I pray your treasure chest is brimming full of beautiful moments as you revel in this Mother's Day weekend!

Blessings,
 




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May-schooling*


About this time of year, the question looms among homeschool moms (and even strangers who simply wonder) When do you plan to be done with schooling for the year? Depending on what you consider "homeschooling", ours has until the end of this month before summer break (we are counting down the weeks!).

Just what is homeschooling to us?  Well, it doesn't look exactly like I dreamed it would in September.  It has transformed to....

- up early (6:45a.m.) because I believe it is good for children to learn to discipline themselves in purposefully rising to meet the day.  It will be required of them as adults (in one form or another) so it is a discipline best developed as kids.

- Bible study first thing because we believe feasting on the Word of God is the best appetizer to a hearty breakfast and productive day.

- Chores because community and work are a part of life and everyone doing their part teaches order and the value of a job consistently and well done.




- Schooling Essentials, usually by 9a.m., where the basics are taken care of first.  We school Eclectically so this may look different on different days but each day involves Writing, Math and Spelling in some form.  Extra time is often spent reading or working on other projects.

- Lunch Break, typically eating lunch together then taking a small amount of time to rest their brain through other activities like playing outside, bike rides, or playing inside.

- Oral Reading begins after break.  We read together (even in high school) because I want them to have confidence reading to others and I want us all to be exposed to various stories.  They each read from a book of their choice and I read as well, typically a book related to subjects we may be studying in history or a missionary.

- History or Science.  We may watch relevant movies, do crafts, read books, do experiments or take a walk or field trip somewhere relevant.  My children keep science journals and history notebooks.  We diagram, map and timeline often.




Our day ends by 2 or 3 in the afternoon then they are free to their own devices.  Sometimes they choose a continuation of whatever we were studying in the afternoon (recently it was converting large boxes into gladiator armor and having gladiatory games!).  Neighborhood kids will join in the fun and, before we know it, everyone is living history!

We do not watch t.v. or play video games during the week except for special situations or achievements such as reading a book which has been made into a movie.  I like this schedule and, what's more, my children like it and miss it when our days end up upside-down.

So how is Summer different? no 'book work' (work books or writing assignments), more reading, only math-facts review (to keep them sharp) and adventure with some nature journaling.  Screen time restrictions continue because I want them to use their imaginations to the fullest extent possible.  I want them to keep thinking.  Some families who UNschool would probably call our summer-time activity 'homeschool'.  But, for us, it is a break from the hub-bub and it is what works for us.



Don't be fooled though... not every day is perfect.  Some days we blow off our afternoon and take a bike ride or run behind in the morning and find ourselves content with just being able to complete one math assignment and peruse spelling words.  But ALL days they are learning... whether it is book knowledge or life knowledge... they are learning and I feel blessed to be their teacher.

Each year teaching gets easier... though none are perfect (and some days can still be hard)... overall you find a groove and a flow, an undercurrent which can carry you through other changes like maturity level, grade expectations, and life situations.  And when the water looks too rough, you design your anchor, weight it down with the Truth of the Lord, and you throw it out there and trust it will hold you tight... you won't drift away but you will flow and move and always come back to center: learning what matters most...

... they are always learning.  And while we, the teachers, provide them with active stimulants to the learning process, they are learning even when a book doesn't sit open in front of them or a pen isn't in their hand.  Once we let go of what other homeschools look like or what we think ours should look like and just hold onto what God has given us to work with... our homeschool starts to look quite grand and the learning, both in and out of the books, becomes evident everywhere we turn. Summer vacation (and regular school days that just don't go as planned) are a reminder of this.


Maybe you are planning to school through the summer.  Maybe you are holding onto these last weeks like a fist full of sand, contemplating just being done early.  Perhaps you are planning to just slowly flitter out for the year.  Whatever your plans... be encouraged today to keep stepping forward.  You can... you will make it!  Even if this week's homeschool schedule looks nothing like the one you ambitiously wrote and planned out at the beginning of the year.

I pray your MAY-schooling feels as grand as your September-schooling did... even if it doesn't look like it!

Blessings,