If I Could Give You One Gift It Would Be a Library Card

One of the great things about being a parent is that you get to catch up on all the books you missed in your own childhood!

~Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child’s Heart.

library fun

Next month I am throwing a favorite things party for our homeschool community. At this party, each woman is to bring one of her favorite things to share with five other women. My husband wittingly quipped, Are you giving five library cards? What a fabulous idea! If I could give each person a library card I would–but, alas, an address and phone number is necessary for each account!

This summer we have participated in the Give Your Child the World Reading Challenge with Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast. In the challenge, we read wonderful literature based on different countries and regions around the world every week for eight weeks. Each book we selected came from Jamie’s beautiful new book baby, Give Your Child the World. A thorough list of books for students of all ages broken down by world-region.

My favorite time of day with each of our three children, and as a family, is the multiple times we sit and read aloud together. There is something about the shared story, vocabulary, and experiences that the pages of good books provide.

It is not necessary to have monetary means to travel the globe or walk in another man’s shoes. All we really need is a library card and a good list to guide us. This summer I spent my many hours reading several books about books. It may be a bit of an overkill that I take four books to my local library each week, several times a week, to guide my family’s reading selection. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I want to share a list of books to help guide your family’s reading choices and direct your heart and mind to ponder the importance of reading together as a family to shape the character of your children and generations to come.  These books are rich and make wonderful additions to any home library.


Based on my review of each of the book lists, I would suggest starting with Honey for a Child’s Heart and Give Your Child the World. They help shape our parent hearts and present the information in an easy-to-read format. Utilizing these booklist books, we have chosen several new family favorites this summer; including these three:

What are your favorite books that you have read together as a family this summer? Where do you turn to help make your book selections? I would love to hear your ideas!

May the books be plenty and the hours spent together engrossed in a wonderful story be multiplied,

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What Another Year of Homeschooling Taught Me

Math and God

Homeschooling. It is not the educational path I would have guessed our family would take, but it is the path we most certainly feel led of God to walk.

Today marks the graduation of pre-kindergarten for my son, and first grade for my daughter. We have come so far this year and learned a great deal–both  in academics and character building. Certainly, I am referring as much to my own education as to our children’s!

I can’t say the end is easier than the beginning, nor that I have gained as much patience and understanding as will garner absolute success next year. I certainly can’t say that! However, we finished, and we finished strong. One willful, determined step at a time.

It is my joy and privilege to educate our children in our home. The number one reason that we choose home education is the call we feel toward making our children fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. The Great Commission commands us to go and make disciples in all nations and this call starts with the the two disciples that we call son and daughter. Can this purpose be accomplished in either private or public school options? Of course! My husband and I are both products of public education from grammar to graduate school, but we feel we have been called to home education for such a time as this and for our children specifically.

We choose to homeschool because we want to instill a complete Christian worldview into our children and equip them to be able to give an account for the hope that they have in Jesus Christ. We want them to see how all the liberal arts, the sciences,  and the three R’s reveal God and how He speaks through the study of each one.

Personally, one of the more challenging parts of homeschooling is the discipline required. I am a disciplined person in most areas of life…at least I aim to be. Being a home educator leaves no area in my personal life which I can, shall we say, grant the most weight of academic responsibilities to someone else. I feel a great pressure, and simultaneously a great joy, in seeking our children’s academic success.  Undoubtedly, it can be exhausting!

So, today we celebrate. We celebrate victories won and goals accomplished. We seal the books with smiley faces and stickers and victory hugs. As parents know, however, home education never ends. Occasionally, we simply let our kids think so! We are always learning and growing in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  Any work over the next six weeks will be extra credit and culminate in a prize. Thanks to Pinterest for pre-made charts and prize coupons!

To leave you today, I am linking to two of our new favorite resources that we discovered this year. I hope you will take a look and see if any of them are right for your family.

  • Jonathon Park -Great creation science teaching in action packed stories fun for your whole family. Visit Jonathon here.
  •  Jim Weiss Audio CD’s- Love these historical fiction and non-fiction audio books that teach timeless lessons and inspire the love for academics and literature. Visit Great Hall Productions here.

Always learning,

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Considering Homeschooling?

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So you’re thinking about homeschooling? Welcome! I meagerly offer you the information that I have gleaned the last three years in the hopes that it will be profitable to you.

I sensed the Lord leading me to homeschooling after observing and interacting with the families of homeschooled students within our student ministry several years back. I had little to no exposure to homeschooling and didn’t think of it as an option for our family prior to those interactions.

After asking many questions, researching online, and attending our state homeschooling convention, Ron and I decided to give homeschooling a go. I have not regretted our decision once in the preschool and now kindergarten years of schooling. However, I have questioned my methods.

For example, at the beginning of this school year, I decided that I would teach math and reading without the aid of a curriculum. This may have worked, but by September I was feeling as if my child was behind, and her mother was in need of some structure. So, I spoke to a few veteran homeschooling moms and chose a math curriculum they suggested and the reading curriculum that I had loved at the homeschooling convention – A Beka math & The Logic of English. We are now enjoying the structure and freedom that the curriculums’ offer, and I feel better about the progress that my daughter is making in these areas.

Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to change course when you feel you are off course. 

I first heard of Classical Conversations through a local homeschool support group. After attending an informational presentation on the classical method of education, Ron and I decided to join a local community when our oldest was kindergarten age. This decision has been one of the best decisions we have made for our family concerning Christian education and teaching a biblical worldview. I love everything about the Classical Conversations curriculum developed by Leigh Bortins. The grammar introduced each week and the resources to help with memory mastery of each subject has made learning fun and given a natural flow to our days. As a bonus, I am redeeming my education! If anyone has obtained an education this year, it is definitely the homeschooling mom.

If you are interested in Classical Christian Education, please visit Leigh Bortin’s Classical Conversations website, here.

I am a proponent for Christian apologetics and feel the magnitude of making disciples of our children while teaching them to develop a biblical worldview. That being the case, I am so very thankful for the opportunity to use wonderfully paced, content-rich curriculum such as that developed for Classical Conversations.

Lesson Learned: God will guide your steps to the curriculum that is right for your family. Our family aligns with Christian Classical Education. 

Often people will ask me how long we plan to homeschool. My answer is, “Until I feel God’s freedom and direction to choose another educational option.”  If God has called you to homeschooling – and no, I don’t think that everyone is called to homeschool for all or any season of their child’s education – then He will give you the answers you need in the time that is right.

Lesson Learned: Homeschooling is a calling for a season; God will show you the duration of that season be it a year or K-12. 

At the end of the day we are all home educators; life is a classroom for those willing to learn. If you are considering homeschooling, here are a few websites/posts that may offer more direction:

God bless your journey,

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Unpacking Christmas: Books

Unpacking Christmas Books for the Heart

A thoughtful, well illustrated book is a gift that continues to resonate long after “the end” is read. Last night we read a few Christmas books before bedtime and one happened to be a scratch and sniff book by Joan Walsh Anglund that I received as a young girl over 25 Christmas’ ago.  The real surprise…you can still scratch and sniff the pepper-minty pie, pepperoni pizza, and beautiful fir tree that Mary and Willie prepare for their Christmas party guests!

Below is a listing for the youngest to the oldest of readers to enjoy within your home this Christmas. I hope you experience the true meaning of Christmas in a fresh way this year and every one thereafter as you unpack these Christmas books in the years to come.

A special note to my readers without little children in this season of life, the last five books are for you. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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New Beginnings

Emily first day of CCC 2

 My Dearest Emily,

This is a letter you will most likely not read for some years, yet one I am hopeful will be etched on your heart long before your eyes glimpse the words on the written page. This season of your life has been marked with numerous new beginnings. From your first loose tooth to the first day of school and a baptism in between, the winds of change haven’t ceased to blow.

Over three weeks ago, Daddy was reading a Bible account to you and the boys before bedtime, as is customary in our home. I was busy cleaning up the many pieces of creativity you had left strewn in your room. In case you haven’t noticed, Mama has some Martha-like tendencies. As Daddy was reading to you from the The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name
you bowed your head in prayer. At the conclusion, of the text, you told your Dad that you had asked Jesus into your heart. To put it another way, you had prayed and put your faith and trust in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Daddy asked you to share the news with me when I entered the room and we hugged you and kissed you now our sister in Christ with joy, and I will admit, a little apprehension. The only apprehension that we both had was the question of certainty you knew the decision that you had made. Did you fully understand the gospel and what it means to be a Christ follower? Then I was reminded of the verse in Matthew 19:14:

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

We have heard your prayers prayed in the “prayer chair” (a rocking chair that was a baby gift to Emily), “Lord Jesus, thank you for taking the punishment. It should have been us that got the punishment; not you. Please be with all the people of the world. Be with those who are hurt because they believe in you. Please be with the kids that don’t have mommies and daddies. I love you Jesus. Amen.”

We pray that you will remain in Christ Jesus unto the end just as the Son abides in the Father. May you bear much fruit and walk in obedience to Jesus all your days, the same as you followed Jesus’ model of baptism as a public witness of your faith in Christ.

Yesterday was your first official day of Kindergarten. The good news is, there was no crying for me at the door (nor I for you) because with Classical Conversations, like Ruth with Naomi, where you go I go! I look forward to continuing to teach you at home, and I am so excited about all that we will learn in this next year. I am grateful to observe first-hand how God is preparing you to be able to defend the hope that you have in Christ. (1 Peter 3:15)

Emily first day of CCC

Dearest Emily, as with all new beginnings we focus on the good and neglect to remember that there will be days of struggle and pain ahead. The good news is, He has promised us joy in the end. Take heart, Emily, for in all your days and in all your ways, Christ Jesus is with you, He has already overcome the world. He is with you in each new beginning until the day of the new heaven and new earth. (John 16)

I love you my precious princess and sister in Christ,

Mom

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I Have Not Love

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Jesus,

Help me. I have not love. At least not love enough.

Your Daughter,

Brooke

P.S.

I only love because you first loved me. Thank you…

How numerous the opportunities to kneel or to break by 10:00 in the morning! Today, the rare occasion in which the children awake me…at 6:00 no less; I choose to kneel. Sending daddy off to work; kneel again. A visit with Little E’s case manager, I kneel as the kids either obey the first time… or not. But wait, wait for it, here it comes…I bend…then break.

Crayons are given, coloring pages laid out, one book is read, and the starting of another. It is at this point it all comes unglued. I bend something mighty and the peace breaks into the very pieces which cannot be picked up.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.~John 13:34-35

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

If I am in fellowship with Christ, then shouldn’t I demonstrate love in action? Even with the provocations of three children? Instead, I bend and so went the clanging pieces of broken people clashing loud… the absence of patient love.

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People are fond of quoting the verse, “God is love.” But, C.S. Lewis rightly questions the meaning behind these words. Are we misusing these words as mere semantics for the thought that every love people express is God? Here is what Lewis has to say in this regard:

But they seem not to notice that the words “God is love” have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean “Love is God.” They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to  be treated with great respect. ~ Mere Christianity, p. 151

God is love expressed in his three state relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and then to His creation. To sustain my relationship with others I require the love of God as infused by daily filling of the Holy Spirit. The filling that I should seek and lean into through prayer and the reading and memorization of Scripture.

In the church, love is the most needed as the culmination of gifts that God has given His people: teaching, acts of service, giving, admonition, etc., are utilized. Whether preaching the gospel in our home,  to the body of Christ, or to a lost world, love is the essential key for others to see Christ in us; for others to know that we actually believe what we profess.  I realize this  especially when I have chosen to stomp my feet, dig in my heels, and demand the obedience that is required from our children as their mom.

Jerry Bridges perfectly illustrates the effects of the absence of love in the following story:

I remember hearing of one university student of whom it was said, “He can lead people to Christ, but no one wants to room with him.” Whether he could, given that immaturity of character, truly lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ may be questioned by some. But whether he could or not, it is true that a great big dose of love was needed to make him truly effective. ~ True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia

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After the kids had listened to the second story and sat there as quietly as possible in obedience I penned the note above. I need more of Christ because I need to love others more… I must choose to kneel.

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Apple Picking in the South

We Southerners require creativity to welcome in the fall; especially considering central and southern Floridans. We substitute artificial leaves and pumpkins for the real deal, and burn Pumpkin Spice candles hoping the fragrance will bring on a cold-front for the Friday night football game. Any excuse to wear a jean jacket and cowboy boots will do as well. Not to mention the obsession with seasonal drinks and forgoing the swimming pool just because it is September!

Now I think I have hit an all-time low, or high, in spurring on the season: taking the kids apple picking at the local Publix “orchard.”

We observed and identified over seven varieties of the 7,500 available world-wide and also acquired the finest apple butter and apple chips that the Publix harvest boasts. To say we had a bushel-full would be a stretch, but the tasting party was quite fun.

We also put our local selection to use as an alternative paint brush.

keep my commandments and live;
keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;

~Proverbs 7:2

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

~Psalm 17:8

Our “farm to table” (maybe that’s farm to factory to table) pickings were first read about in the following books:

A note to parents: the last two books, especially the later, present a time frame for the origin of earth being within the last two million years. I believe that the Bible teaches a younger earth: roughly 6,000-10,000 years old. Rather than avoiding these books, I use such statements to demonstrate that not all “facts” in non-fiction genres are factual, but can be biased beliefs or assumptions based on the worldview of the author.

We also watched this childhood favorite, The Legend of Johnny Appleseed.

Finally, these two books make nice additions to the mix:

Looking at all the beautiful apple skins, smells, and textures of the inner flesh of the apple, I marvel that David prayed for God to keep us as the apple of His eye. Ponder the thousands of varieties of apples compared with the uniqueness of man. What does the science behind mere apples suggest about our Savior, His creativity, His scope of knowledge and the glory due His name?

Now grab a cart and get to picking!

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10 Resources I Want to Read as a Homeschool Mom


As we step into another year of pre-school homeschooling there are many books I want to read to equip me for “the real homeschooling” ahead. I have compiled this list of resources for homeschooling moms from conversations with other mothers who are in the midst of educating their children or those whom have successfully homeschooled from preschool to graduation.

It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
~Rene Descartes

Here are the 10 books I want to read before the 2013-2014 school year. Two of these are already under my belt the others…an ambition.

Classical Christian Education made Approachable

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What would you add to this list? I welcome your suggestions!

Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday.

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So We Attended a Homeschool Convention

 

 

 As you can see, we loved the Gaylord Palms! The Florida Parent Educator Association (FPEA) puts on their annual homeschooling convention each year at the same location. Both the convention and the hotel provided a great weekend getaway for our family. Out of the many presenters I have links to the ones that I liked best listed below. We are looking forward to next year’s convention. If you or anyone you know homeschools it is a great trip for the whole family.

1. Bob and Tina Farewell

2. Debbie Strayer

3. Tim Elmore

4. Maestro Classics

5. Handwriting Without Tears

 

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