Do you ever wonder how those mom’s who seem to have it all together get time for their own devotions? Are you laughing right now because you thought I had it all together?
Well I don’t…and getting quiet time with my Jesus is something that I struggle with.
However, I figure it must be worth it or it wouldn’t be such a struggle, so I persevere! Some days get started off right and flow so well that I vow to start my day off in the Word for the rest of my life. Then tomorrow comes…and something happens…like the baby decides to take her diaper off and smear poop all over…that cause me to leap out of bed only to land into a day of disasters.
So what does the quiet time of a homeschooling mom of 4 look like? Well, let’s start with my dream scenario. I like dreaming. Plus things always work out in my dreams.
Aaah…I start the day off being awaken gently by the whispering of my husband who has informed me that he’s gotten up with all the children and they are downstairs finishing dishes from breakfast and beginning their morning devotions. He tells me to take a few minutes to myself and spend some time in the Word before I begin my morning routine.
There’s a sweet little red breasted bird outside my window singing a welcoming song to the sun as I crack open my velvety soft Bible, and begin to soak in the richness of Jesus. I spend quality time in the Word with no distractions, then another half hour in prayer.
After that I meander to the shower where I get refreshed and ready for the day ahead. I saunter down to the kitchen where I find all 4 of my children. They are sitting at the kitchen table discussing ways they can be kind to one another today after reading through Ephesians 4:32.
We spend the afternoon as a family sitting beneath a large oak tree, listening to a gentle stream flowing by as we read through the gospel of Matthew. We spend time together laughing and just having fun before heading home for a wholesome home cooked meal (apparently cooked by fairies since I’ve been by the stream all day).
The kids graciously offer to get themselves ready for bed, then my husband and I spend a few minutes with each child individually asking how their day went and just listening to them as they talk soaking in every minute of our time together. Alas, the day is done and my husband and I have some free time to relax and enjoy each other’s company before the next dawn arises.
I really should just end there, but in the spirit of keeping it real here’s a more accurate account of what actually happens…
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the term “Quiet Time” just may not apply to my life right now. With 4 children (ages 8, 7, 5, and 2) the term quiet just isn’t exactly… ahem… accurate.
Despite my efforts, I tend to stay up way to late at night in order to get out of bed with my little red breasted friend. (I am working on this…) So planning an early morning devotion never seems to work out so well for me. (I know, I know, you have to work at it…and I am…its on my “to-do” list.)
Honestly some days the only devotions I actually get are the ones that I do with my kids. And you know what? I think that’s okay. It’s a season that I’m in and I absolutely get things out of the time we spend together in the Word. Now, I do still aim for my own time alone with God, it’s just that some days it’s hard to come by, and so for me it ends up usually being done at night.
I wouldn’t entirely suggest the nigh-time plan as I often find myself thinking “Well, I really could’ve used that encouragement about 8 hours ago!”. But I take what I can get right now.
I realize that my children are not going to be with me for very long and so spending time with them, especially in God’s Word is precious! Once I came to this realization it really changed my view of “quiet time”! Instead of hiding in the laundry room in order to get just 2 minutes of peace, I’ve decided to include my children in my quiet time. After all I’m to be a model for my children, and if they never see me doing quiet time or leading them in quiet time, how are they supposed to know what to do?
So here are some things that work for us:
- Every afternoon during the Teeny Tot’s naptime, we all grab our own Bible. Everyone find’s a spot on the couch and we read silently to ourselves. It’s like a corporate quiet time if you will ;o) My preschooler has her own bible and she mostly just looks at pictures and such, but she’s still required to be quiet during this time.
- Pick a verse for the day, and keep your bible open to it. Leave the bible on your kitchen counter, or somewhere that you frequent. Each time you walk by, read your verse again and think of a way to apply it to your what’s going on today. Feel free to read the passage out loud to your children too, it’s a great reminder to them as well.
- Write encouraging verses on post its and stick them on the refrigerator, bathroom mirrors, and in your car. Make it a game with your children to see who can find the hidden verses for the day.
- I have found that there is at least one point of time in each day where I find myself with literally a few free minutes. The kids are playing happily and I’m contemplating my next move. When this time comes, I challenge you to pull out your Bible (make sure you have some laying around in rooms you frequent) and take that opportunity to spend a few precious minutes with your Jesus. I consider this my first fruits, the first time of the day where I’m not overwhelmed with demands. I have a choice to either give that time to God, or to something else.
- Pray for God’s help. I pray constantly and I know it may sound ironic but I also pray that God will remind me to get into the Word. Some days get so hectic that I literally forget until I crawl into bed at night and start to relax. Suddenly I realize that I’ve not even so much as cracked my Bible! Now I keep a small Bible by my bedside so that I can grab it easily for days such as this. While we’re on the topic, make sure to keep in prayer all through the day. Constant communication with God will make your relationship stronger!
- Keep a Bible in your car. I know it sounds funny, but I do my best to help myself out. To be my own personal assistant. No I don’t give my faux-assistant a name. So in an attempt to set myself up for success, we have Bibles all over the house and one in our cars. I also have one on my iPhone so that no matter where I am if I find a few extra minutes I have no excuses not to get into the Word, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
March 2017 – AHA Moments!
Proverbs 19:20-21 (ESV): Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
The dictionary defines an “aha moment” as a point in time, event, or experience when one has a sudden insight or realization. One would think that after 5 years of homeschooling that certainly I would be much richer in wisdom than I am. However, I feel as though I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of understanding.
This year is certainly not the first time I’ve heard voices or read words of homeschool sages offer pearls of wisdom, but it is the first that I was able to see beyond my “ideals” and truly listen. For some reason the haze has lifted and these prisms of truth have sparkled clear as crystal in sunlight.
Truth 1 – concerning the physical
“We cannot live upon air alone; but if we must choose among the three sustainers of life, air will support us the longest.”1 I’ve always paid close attention to what goes into my children’s mouths by way of food – concentrating on healthy, whole non-GMO foods, avoiding as much as possible prepackaged, sugar-laden snacks. What I haven’t given much thought is the quality of air my children have. Getting the girls outside, and myself included, as often as possible has been a tremendous boost to their happiness and my sanity. I have a long way to go but it’s a start!
Truth 2 – concerning the emotional
The book Teaching from Rest2 has had an immeasurable impact on our family life. My biggest takeaway is realizing that a mom at rest leads to a peaceful home. Then, I look at a pile of laundry or a stack of dirty dishes – yes, the mundane chores of motherhood – and my heart begins to deflate. But, through my study of Charlotte Mason’s writings, I’ve learned that the “way of the will” is the secret of a happy life.3 I am employing the same methods used to train up my children in changing my own poor attitudes. Incentives, diversion and simple changes of thought answer the call to adjusting a despondent mindset, even toward that ever-loving toilet bowl! In the process, I’m setting a worthy example for my children to imitate, and aren’t lessons more often caught than taught?
Truth 3 – concerning the intellectual
Short lessons have been my saving grace, plain and simple. We literally set a timer and no lesson is longer than 10-20 minutes. The value of this, of course, is nothing new. Studies have for years proven that students have the greatest attention and retention when teaching is presented in 10-18 minute intervals, no matter how brilliant the teacher or how fascinating the material.4,5 My gut reaction to this method was panic, because how would we ever get through everything? But then I stopped and was reminded of my goals in education with the simple questions: Why do I think every aspect of the curriculum must be finished and done so by a certain day? Why am I teaching according to the schedule rather than according to my children? Now the lessons are shorter, more focused and my children are learning how to pay attention in addition to learning the material.
Truth 4 – concerning the spiritual
A child’s love for the Lord is not something that can be scheduled into a lesson. Building up of a child in faith comes only from above, which means any efforts we make must originate from above as well. God’s Holy Spirit enables us for this divine task, working in us and through us. When we demonstrate our love for God in our own lives, allowing it to transform us, our children are eyewitnesses to this and are given a glimpse of heaven on earth, namely a human being made new through God’s grace. I don’t need to nor should I moralize teaching to them, let God, the Great Teacher, do the work.
It is my desire that my rudimentary scratching at the surface of understanding becomes more of a lovely etching into the lives of my children as I continue to grow in my own education of homeschooling.
Perhaps none of these points are new to you, but hopefully they’ve renewed your vision to seek wisdom in your homeschool.
James 1:5 (ESV): If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
1 Home Education by Charlotte Mason, page 30
2 Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie
3 Home Education by Charlotte Mason, page 324
4 Attention Breaks in Lectures (eric.ed.gov)
5 Information Impact and Factors Affecting Recall (eric.ed.gov)
President Trump has done a lot of work in the last month. He’s put more of his campaign “promises” into action faster than any other President I’ve been old enough to vote for. Because he’s standing on his word, this has got a lot of people scared. We’re not used to so much action. Like most of our children, when we try to “push” something new, enforce rules, and correct unwanted actions, many in our country are acting like temper tantrum throwing toddlers. And since we all have social media, we can all whine and complain to our hearts content. “But Jacinda, they’re just expressing their views. They’re standing up for what they believe.” Are they … are they, really? Proverbs 18:2 NIV “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” Like Fools, many Americans aren’t looking for reasoning or understanding. They just know they didn’t get what they wanted and they don’t care if it was right or wrong.
So why do we care about Stefani Germanotta? Stefani is a public figure. She was raised Catholic and outwardly supports the church and has a general respect for her parents. She has helped with numerous disaster relief efforts, has her own foundation promoting youth empowerment, anti-bullying, and anti-sexual assault campaigns, and openly supports the LGBT community. The reason WE need to pay attention to Stefani is because she’s not afraid and she STANDS UP for what she believes, regardless.
1 Samuel 17 is the story of David defeating Goliath. David didn’t defeat Goliath because he was bigger, stronger, or better at trash talking. No, David beat Goliath because he knew God could defeat the Philistines and he believed God wanted him to Stand Up for HIM. David’s belief and Bravery to Stand gave just enough bravery to the rest of Saul’s army allowing them to defeat the philistines. As the story goes on, we learn that David has periods of doubt and all out fear. He sinned. He tried to cover up his own messes. But his true greatness showed through only when he stood for what he believed, and trusted that God had his back.
Stefani has been in the news, and on social media a lot the last couple of days. Why? Because she did it RIGHT. She made a statement supporting her choice of activism, our country and God. She did it with a lot of flare but she also did it very tastefully and tactfully, in a super flashy spectacle sort of way. The point is, she made her statement and wasn’t just another temper tantrum throwing toddler.
If we’re going to teach our kids to stand firm in their beliefs, than we need to speak out for our own, not cave in because we’re afraid, not hide because we don’t want to be judged, and not Not DO because we might get hurt.
So, I appreciate Lady Gaga’s “adult” Stand for her beliefs. Though I don’t condone wearing nothing but glitter glue and shoulder pads. (A verse just for her – 1Timothy2:9-10 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.)
Some additional verses on Courage/Bravery: Romans 14:8 – If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 16:13 – Be on your guard; stand for faith; be courageous; be strong. Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
BTW – Just in case you were unable to put the 2 together, Stefani Germanotta is Lady Gaga.
So many of us say we don’t have the time to refuel or to refill our pitcher. We need to take the time to rest and recharge, doing what refreshes our weary brain.
“Probably no one prescription would conduce more to the good health of the average middle-class woman than the simple formula, Rest when you are tired.” It would be still more valuable if worded, “Rest before you are too tired,” and the pratical application of such formula would generally point to some sort of rest in the middle of the day. Yet there is nothing which the average woman finds so impossible. Tow questions immediately suggest themselves–1. What is the priceless nature of the work done during each half-hour of the day, that ONE of them cannot be better spent in restoring the forces with which it must be carried out? 2. What is the comparative value of work done with a weary brain and a fresh one?” Simple Things–A Daily Rest PR by S.F.S., Volume 12, no 12 1901
This was written in 1901 and yet it is still so applicable today. Really, what are we doing that is so crucial that we cannot give 1/2 hour a day to ourselves to rest. In our family we have quiet time every day after lunch until about 2 pm. If we are home, it is quiet time. Everyone goes to their own spot and does something quiet (game, quiet toys, reading, drawing, sleeping) until I call. Some days I do use the time to catch up on something, but more often I use at least part of the time to read, to rest, and yes, sometimes to even nap. Not every child loves quiet time and if they are out of their room or spot and trying to engage with me the answer is always “It is quiet time.” Mommy is not available unless you are bleeding or puking. I am a better mom because I give them and myself that space in the middle of the day. It is a gift we give our children and ourselves.
The Peoria Charlotte Mason conference was a time of deep learning. Sessions covered things ranging from broad philosophy like Overviews of the Charlotte Mason Approach where we talked about how CM differs from other philosophies and methodologies. Specifics of running a school day with different children and different ages and how a CM day and week looks were covered in Scheduling with Nicole Williams. There were very deep discussions in Dualism in Christian Education run by Dr. Carroll Smith. And the most impactful to me was Beauty in Fine Arts where Allison shared her life story of being born to 16 year old parents and how the fine arts literally made and saved her life. Her father had his solo debut at Carnegie Hall when he was 24 (and she was 8!) and she grew up surrounded by beautiful classical music, art and other fine arts. “An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.” Our children won’t accidentally come across beautiful art and music in most cases. We need to make the effort to be exposing them to this so they aspire to that their entire lives. Hearing and seeing excellence will help direct them towards that their entire life. The moms also were able to do a handicraft of a small sisal basket. It was a great reinforcement that it is fun and relaxing to learn a new skill and make something useful and beautiful too. Handicrafts are important in a CM education.
The main benefit of attending the conference for me was to help focus and know what matters to me in our homeschool. I was able to see things that were in the way of what I was trying to accomplish and the type of education I want to provide my children. The more we know the why of what we are doing the more at peace we can be and the more focused we are. It is easier to move through the days and weeks and stick with it when things are hard. Dr. Carroll Smith had a great point in one of his talks about having a Sabbath attitude. He said that it can feels easy when it works with our way of being. It will feel natural because it is what we are reflecting as image bearers. So find what resonates with you and move forward with that as a family.
November/December 2016 – Living with Less, so Your Family has More (Shared by Marcee T.)
I am always piqued by these kinds of concepts. November is a time when we think about abundance, be it gathering in crops, preserving food, or purchasing extra fuel for the winter. Though these are necessities, it seems we also have a lot of non necessities that take up our time, space, and energy. In John 10:10 Jesus gives us something to think about. “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Is a full life full of stuff, activities and money or can we have a full life with less of all these things?
“God wants us to be fully sold out –to Him. He longs for us to recognize we are and what we have fully belongs to Him. (Psalm 24:1) God can do much more with our lives, talents and stuff than we ever could alone. God created us to be in relationship with Him and He wants us to choose Him over everything else. God has so much planned for us in this life if we choose to live it in relationship with Him.
So how do we do live with less to have a full life for ourselves and what are the benefits? First off we need to be in God’s word and have time to pray. I heard a quote few years ago I really like. “I am too busy not to pray.” Isn’t that true? Lots of times though I’m overwhelmed by life I’ll say to myself, “ I need to have some quiet time to read the Bible and get focused so I can be centered for the day. Doing this will also help us center our family as well. If you don’t read your Bible every day and don’t know where to start, start with the book of Proverbs. Thirty one chapters, one for every day of the week and it’s a new month too.
What are the benefits of living with less? Jesus tells us in John 15:5,” I am the vine you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The fruit of living with less can be happiness (a state of mind and positiveness towards what comes our way), gratitude (a heart of full of thankfulness and praise) conscientiousness (being good steward of what we have) and freedom (financially, and even more time).
I really want to have a life to the full. How can we get to where we have a life Jesus wants us to have? Here are some brief ideas to mull over and help you along the way.
- Tithe-give 10% of your income back to God. God says test me in this is Malachi.
- Live on one income by cutting back on eating out, Starbucks, etc.
- Place money in savings for unexpected expenses (six months emergency fund).
- Insurances–do them all.
- Buy things for usefulness
- Reject anything addictive
- Don’t do any “buy now, pay later” programs
- Purchase in bulk, enough to last 12 week sale cycle
- Shop less often and make a list
Less We Have, Less We Manage:
- Resist bringing home free things into the home.
- Get in the habit of giving things away (a box on every floor of house to place unwanted/needed items in).
- Everything needs a home.
- Clothing-don’t have too many, this will cut down on laundry too.
- Enjoy things without owning them (movies, books, etc.).
- Toys-downsize to 10 stuffed animals, not 20/for everything that comes in something must go out.
- Have only 1 major outside the home commitment and 1 minor.
- Go out only 2 nights a week.
- Each kid only involved in 1 sport at a time.
October 2016 – Seasons Change
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
As much as I love dreamy summer days, I must admit fall is my favorite season of the year. It’s a party for the senses: the multi-colored trees gracefully shedding their summer plumage, the scraping of rakes against the earth as they gather the fallen leaves, the smoky scent of crackling bonfires and comforting sips of toasty apple cider.
Just as each year walks us through physical seasons of change, our homeschooling journey leads us through seasons of change as well. In fact, the only constant is change itself! But change is a good thing. God uses it to grow us. Maybe you’ve experienced one or two of these following seasons in your own life.
Perhaps you’ve been here, asking the question, “What in the world was I thinking?” After making the decision to homeschool, you realize that the deciding point was just the tip of the iceberg. Now before you looms the monumental task of figuring out “how” you’re going to do it. Beyond the excitement of fresh number 2 pencils comes the reality of planning: determining what method of homeschooling to follow, curriculum choices, locating a support group, scheduling field trips, etc. all while maintaining balance in the other areas of your life! Relax and breathe. Jesus told Martha, “You are anxious and troubled by many things but only one thing is necessary.” (Luke 10:41)
This season comes with humble thoughts of, “I think I’ve got this!” After your child or children have initiated you into the world of little people, you are beginning to feel like you have some semblance of a schedule and have more boxes checked than empty at the end of each day. The wonder of learning is really taking place and you’re seeing the beauty in each precious discovery. Sure, you don’t have it all figured out, but you’re on the right path, growing right along with your students. (Proverbs 1:5, 9:9)
This stage is where you’ll find the well-seasoned homeschool mom who can readily state, “I’m like a homeschooling guru!” Your shelves are stocked with great literature; your home life and school life are well-balanced; other moms seek you out to shed light on their specific circumstance; helping others, especially newbies, is your specialty; your kiddos have established a pretty consistent routine; and you know all the great local places for field trips and other essential resources. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
There is an air of peace that comes with this season that begs the question, “What will I do with all of this free time?” It is the veteran homeschool mom or simply the humble homeschool mom that admits all our efforts are in vain without full dependence on our heavenly Father. When will my child finally know how to read? Follow Christ’s patient example (1 Timothy 1:16). How do I make this more fun? Trust in Jesus to bring you joy in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). What do I do when our science experiment explodes? Well, there’s a lesson in that too.
No matter which season you find yourself, know that God is ever constant with you and for you through all of life’s changes.
Hebrews 13:8 (ESV) – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
In which season of homeschooling do you find yourself today?
September 2016 – New Beginnings
Jeremiah 18:1-6 (ESV)
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”
Jeremiah was a prophet who announced God’s judgment on the kingdom of Judah. The message God gave Jeremiah in this passage is an invitation to renewal – a fresh start, a new beginning. Do you ever long for new beginnings? How about when it comes to homeschooling? Now as we launch into a fresh new school season, this may be on your mind more than at any other time during the year.
So let’s consider the three elements to this story: the potter, the clay and the wheel.
Creating beautiful pottery is an art form that takes years to master. Designing intricate details onto a constantly spinning mass of clay is no small feat. The potter represents God as the Master Potter and His sovereignty over us, the clay. We are His handiwork. He molds us into shape by His loving hands. It is not the other way around. The clay does not say, “Potter! Make me into a great and important vessel!” No, the clay is at the mercy of the potter and will become what he determines it to be.
The clay itself is not just a lump of mud. Before arriving at the potter’s wheel, it undergoes a lengthy process of filtration and refinement for many months. Even then, debris may go unnoticed until it is worked out onto the surface by the potter’s hands. It can form an ugly mar or misshape the entire work. In this passage, the clay was spoiled but the craftsman reworked it into a new masterpiece.
The potter could’ve easily scrapped the entire project, but instead reshaped the same lump of clay into what he wanted it to be, removing the blemish and smoothing a new surface. Through the process of the constant spinning of the wheel, over time, the once marred clay can be transformed into a creation even more beautiful than before.
We’ve all made a mess of things at one time or another, even when it comes to homeschooling. As Robert Burns poetically detailed, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry!” Sometimes our best intentions for our school year are thwarted, sometimes early on, and we are left wondering, “What now?!”
On the cusp of a brand new school year, we don’t know what adventures and challenges are in store for us, but we can be assured that God holds us in his capable hands. Have faith in the Master Potter. Over time, He can transform our mistakes into His masterpiece. He can make anything new, including our school. What new thing are you doing this year?