Monday, September 26, 2011

Seeking and Knowing God

Keeping God First
by Judith

This past year I . wanted to have a small group of women to disciple either in the small community where I live or with a few Christian women. I recently read a book by Anne Ortlund after hearing her speak on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Lee DeMoss. The book is Disciplines of the Heart and it reflected the same spirit of warmth and love for the Lord expressed when she spoke. Anne is an older woman, I think in her 80s who has so much to offer us who are younger and still raising our children or coming into the empty-nest years. She never homeschooled her children, yet, she has so much wisdom to offer those who do. 

Each year, Anne Ortlund would take a few women and disciple them. Then the next year, those women would do the same for another group of women, starting their own group. I really like this idea and have been praying for such an opportunity. As I still have my family surrounding me, as most of my children still live at home, there is so much to occupy my day in overseeing the homeschooling, cleaning, laundry, ironing, you name it, the list is endless!! My group of women, for the time being, perhaps are those who visit my blog, at least until the Lord opens up another opportunity.

You, my reader, are very important to me. You are especially created the way that God designed you. If you will allow Him, He will transform you, starting on the inside and working to the outside. The outside ought to reflect who you are on the inside, a woman with a unique personality, yet with Christ living through you. I decided that I wanted to become a Titus 2 woman so that some day I could be an example to others. I soon found out that I would always fall short of that desire even if I lived to be 90!! I can become this woman, so long as the Holy Spirit abides in me and I in Him. I hope to stir the same desire in you.

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:3-5)

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5)

When I started homeschooling, I had just quit my job. I worked the night-shift so that I could be home all day with my children. I learned quickly that if I did not have pencils, papers, books, and such organized, I could waist a lot of time searching for some insignificant item that became extremely important to the point of raising my stress level. If our home was filled with clutter, and the meals were not on the table in a somewhat timely manner, we were soon catapulted into chaos!! I don't do well if life isn't relatively organized. I quickly become flustered and confused!!

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." 

In ordering my day, of greatest importance is my Quiet Time. You will find solutions for the other priorities in your life such as clutter, cleaning, laundry, meals, and your family once you have put the Lord first. Everything goes better when God is in control of your day. There have been different seasons in my life during the past years of being a momma. There have been seasons where it is impossible to actually start my day off with a Quiet Time as a baby or toddler would wake up at 5am!! You may find evenings the best, or when your children take naps.  If your children are older, you might find just after breakfast works best. Whatever your day looks like, just be certain to keep your appointment with the Lord and be faithful each day to Him. 

I find it so important to find time with the Lord each day. There are enough days when the circumstances are enough to make me faint unless I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13 &14). Have you ever noticed that everything is much worse without having spent time that day with the Lord; or conversely, so much better because you did spend time with Jesus?!

"A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength" (Psalm 24:5)

"If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." (Psalm 24:10)

Nothing must keep you from God's Word. If your children are little and you are up all night (or almost) and then the baby wakes at 5am....when you begin your day with your children; read the Bible to them if you cannot do it alone because they are already up and needing care. There were days when I had to do this. Maybe your schedule works better than mine did....but if this idea works for you, know that you will be demonstrating how to live your life in Christ. You will demonstrate Who is important in your life!! Jesus!!

Here is a poem by Anne Ortlund (Copyright 1972):

From here to there, and then from there to here
The people of this planet circling roam,
And I, as well, --but, oh, one truth is clear:
I live in God, and God Himself is Home.

From hither and from thither comes the call,
Perhaps to places near, perhaps abroad,
But anywhere I am, and through it all
My heart's at home --for Home is Sovereign God.

To hurry here, and then to scurry there
May be the thing that duty asks of me;
But oh! my heart is tranquil anywhere,
When God Himself is my Tranquility.

Yes, in my heart of heart Shekinah dwells--
The Glorious One, the Highest and the Best;
And deep within, I hear cathedral bells
That call me to devotion and to rest.

Do you just know God? Or do we really know God?

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death."
(Philippians 3:8-10)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

?Wholehearted or Halfhearted?

Musings from my Mornings
By Judith
February 2004

Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my meditation.
Hearken unto the voice of my cry,
My King, and my God:
For unto thee will I pray.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning,
O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee,
And will look up.
(Psalm 5:1-3)

As my day starts, it is still calm and quiet because it is early morning and the children  are still sleeping.  Although it constantly goes against my inner nature, for years I  rolled out of bed before the children, in order to have a little time of solitude with the Lord.  When the children were babies, toddlers, and very young, when I tried getting up earlier, the baby would also wake, hearing me even in the quietness.  Taking time with the Lord even when you have a child on your lap speaks to our growing little ones as they see us over the years starting our day off with Jesus.

We ask the Lord each day to consider our words as we bring our prayers before His feet, in meditation before Him.  We cry out to Him daily for the Spiritual souls of each of our children by name, bringing the daily struggles we have with them, their weaknesses, and our weaknesses (sin?)  which we see reflected in each of them.

But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy:
And in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.
Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies:
Make thy way straight before my face.
(Psalm 5:7-8)

God has granted us so much mercy to have chosen us to home train our children.  It isn’t a coincidence.  It really isn’t because of ‘academic excellence’ or likely any of the original reasons we thought to choose this narrow way. Whether you began homeschooling because of a lengthy prayerful consideration or simply because of some events in your child’s life, God used those circumstances to draw you to the place He would have your family go.  Once on this journey there are so many dynamics in having mom and children at home all day which effects so many aspects of family life.

So often, we mom’s are fearful, this being the primary concern expressed by many, many ladies.  For many, it isn’t just fear, it is sheer terror over the future of their child let alone daily being terrified that they aren’t teaching enough (gapaphobia), that they are ruining their child, and that they will direct their child into the (right) future providing them with the right activities both in and out of the home in order to prepare them.  We ought not to come before our LORD with fear but with the ‘fear of the LORD’ which brings us to His feet in worship.  Our temple in not a building we visit weekly but should be in a special place we visit daily to bring our concerns and cares to Him at the beginning of each day.

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice;
Let them ever shout for joy,
Because thou defendest them:
Let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous;
With favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.
(Psalm 5:11-12)

O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is thy name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8:1)

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart,
And lean not unto thine own understanding;
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
And he shall direct thy paths.
(Proverbs 3:5,6)

Twice Saved!!

 My parents were visiting and my father was telling stories from his youth. Here is one of his stories:

When I was 16 years old, I was swimming off Old Orchard Beach, Maine, in the ocean, when I got caught in a riptide and started to drown. Instantly, my life swiftly swept before my face like the pages of a book. One page showed how I had gone to church five days a week with my family, but that was 'not good enough.' Another page showed that I had read my Bible, but that was 'not good enough.' Another page showed my prayers, but that was 'not good enough.' All the ‘good’ things I had ever done would not save me!

Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

As the current pulled me further out, I felt myself sinking for the last time into the depth of the ocean. I finally cried out to Jesus to save me!! Immediately, Jesus, who shed his blood on the cross for our sins, saved me. There is nothing I could do to save myself. Only Jesus can save!

James 4:14  “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Suddenly, a life-boat appeared and a kind man reached out and pulled Tony to safety. When they got back to the beach, a friend excitedly said, “You’re saved! You’re saved!” Tony emphatically replied, “Yes, I’m saved, twice saved! Jesus, saved me!”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of sin is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Maybe you never had a close call like me, yet you know that if you were to face a tragedy and die, you would be lost for all eternity.  Have you been saved? “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27). Not everyone has the chance to be saved twice like me; death can come too quickly to cry out to God!! If you are not saved, ask Jesus to come into your life. He will abundantly pardon. He will save you just like he saved me. He will completely transform your life into something new.

September 20th, 2011

The Touch of the Master's Hand

The Story of my Father’s Three Hundred Year Old Violin
By Judith
September 20, 2011

‘Twas BATTERED and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once: three dollars, twice;
Going for three---“ But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone,” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried.
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A ‘mess of pottage.” A glass of wine;
A game—and he travels on.
He is “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

My father was born in 1922, and when he was growing up, played the violin so well, that by the time he was in 5th grade, he sat in the seat for the first violinist, and was the master violinist in his college orchestra. He had a beautiful violin that his parents gave him when he was twelve. Those were the days between World War I and World War II when pennies were pinched because of the 1930’s Great Depression. I remember stories my father told me about eating potatoes often because that was all they had, and yet, my grandparents sacrificed so that my father could have this very special violin. My grandparents were not educated folks, but they understood the value of music in their childrens' lives when used for ministry. They demonstrated their vision by playing together as a family in church or on the streets where they lived in Brooklyn,  a suburb of New York City. 

As a child, I had attempted to play the violin for about 5 years but without really getting anywhere.  My father had tried to teach me the violin but to no avail!! I had wanted a violin for a few years, with just the simple wish of playing to glorify and worship the Lord. Not that I would ever be able to play with skill, just glorify the Lord in all things. I had once read a book by Edith Schaeffer which encouraged playing an instrument for just this purpose. I had seen violins hanging in a music store and wished to have one again.

One day, my father called me and asked if I would like to have his violin. The violin my father placed in my hands had the old familiar repaired cracks which were incorrectly repaired in China back in the 1940’s before the Communist take-over, when they were missionaries. It was made by a student of Stradivarius and is almost three hundred years old. The wood retained the aged beauty and its mellow tones a beauty that a newer violin cannot duplicate. The back of the violin is all one piece of wood.  The bow was old and cracked with a few hanging horse hairs, yet I was thrilled to have it in my hands.

In the same way that God can take our cracked imperfection and shape us into something fit for His use, I took the violin a few days later and tried to play a hymn by ear. I couldn’t play the beautiful mellow tune like the ‘gray-haired man’ could in the poem, as I am more like a ‘mess of pottage’ in the Master’s hand. Although I could not make the beautiful mellow tunes, to the Lord, I hoped one day I would learn. It had been many years since I played the violin. It was contagious!!

God placed a beautiful instrument in my possession that inspired me to learn what I had never succeeded in learning as a child. I will never play like my father, as I don’t have the musical talent that he has been blessed with, yet, this violin has been the inspiration for my children to take up musical instruments and use them for God’s glory. I still play from time to time even though I might never master this beautiful instrument. For without focus on the Lord, on Him, our music even though played like a master is not fit for the Master.

Did you once play a musical instrument? If you did and still have it, dust it off and start playing again. Your children just might want to touch it or play it as mine once did when my father gave us his violin! It might start something in your family that will open up opportunities beyond just your personal or family worship. People in nursing homes love to have visitors, especially children!! We go to a nursing home once a month with our church and frequently to other churches. Our children play in a brass band. God often takes what He places in your hands to play alone, at home, or at church and uses it to bless others for His glory. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lord, Teach Us To Pray!!

Prayer is, as Coleridge declared, the very highest energy of which human nature is capable. To pray with all your heart and strength — that is the last, the greatest achievement of the Christian's warfare on earth.

A Psalm of Today

By Joseph Bayly

This is the day
the Lord has made.
The Lord?
Yesterday perhaps
could claim Your craft
or hopefully tomorrow
but not today
this disappointing day so filled
with problems
despair and doubt.
This is the day
the Lord has made
and making it
He'll give the strength

and hope
to take me through.
This is the day
the Lord has made
so I'll be glad
and I'll be glad
and I'll rejoice in it.

I read this poem for the first time when I was about seventeen. There are days in which it is difficult at best to be thankful,  yet, being thankful even when situations and relationships turn sour brings a sweetness to our spirit and hopefully can be spread to others. ~Judith~

Friday, September 2, 2011

Reading Readiness

By Judith

I have taught all my children to read. Two have learned to read early, one before she was 4 years old, and one at 5 1/2 years. The others ALL learned to read at around 8 or 9. I would say that gives you a pretty good idea of how some children just take longer than others. In the public school system, they need the children to read all at the same time because it is easier to have them all on the same page. That creates some very frustrated children and parents because some are left behind.

You are SOOOO blessed to be HOMEschooling your children!! You don't have to teach your child things he is NOT interested in 'just because' the curriculum says it is time. He has until he is 18 and longer. Learning is something we want our children to be interested in for life. You don't want to kill it at the beginning. So, relax and interact with your son with the things he wants to learn.

My youngest is 8, almost 9. He wanted to read last year but was still not completely ready. Since he was 5 and then 6 he was not able to keep his eyes focused on the page or keep his body still long enough to settle and learn to read. Now he desperately WANTS to read and is putting ALL his energies into learning. When he was younger I  read aloud or we listened to audio stories on tape. His knowledge is incredible, as he has developed his memory and auditory skills beyond what he would have if he were reading early.

When he reads and practices the words and sounds he is learning his WHOLE body is engaged. Boys are just so different and cannot fit into the same mode of learning as girls. He reads the word ‘run’ and his whole body pretends to run. If a word makes a sound, he explodes with the sound. He will all of a sudden see the similarities between two words such as 'clip' and 'clop' and tell me all about the letters that are different. When a child isn't ready their body is tense, not engaged to learn. Their mind is tense and it would appear that they are resistant when in actuality they are just not able to concentrate or *see* the words. We can rush our child  and become concerned when they fail to succeed. When our husband comes home from work, we will be stressed and exhausted, leaving no energy to serve and cherish him.

When a child shows definite signs of being delayed in reading, try spending your 'phonics' time on reading aloud to your child. Discern whether your child is honestly delayed and not simply being lazy. You will be preparing him to love books by reading aloud to your children. Your time would be refreshing and well spent. Your child will NOT get behind by setting aside phonics for the next six months. His brain will continue to prepare for reading and you will know when the time is right because he will ask to read. You will have more productive and enjoyable time with your children.

Many boys (and I would venture to say most) are entirely different from girls when it comes to phonics and reading. When a child isn't ready to read it doesn't matter how many 'bells and whistles' a reading program has, they will not be able to learn. Boys are developing their large muscles and have trouble with eyes and fine motor coordination at around 5 or 6. They often aren't ready until 8 or even 9 for reading. 

I have used many phonics programs and have used no phonics at all. My favorite are phonics programs that use the word family approach. Some phonics programs come with songs and jingles. I found that when a child is late in learning to read and/or has learning difficulties that the extras serve as a distraction. They enjoy the songs and rhymes but don't make the connection between the sound, the animal, or the name of the letter that is being taught. It becomes twaddle to a child who has difficulty processing information. This is often true with boys even though they haven't any learning problem, just a delay (compared to girls) when that part of their brain is finished developing. I don't think any of my children made the connection between the rule and decoding the sounds the letters, blends and diphthongs made. It is so difficult for some children to decode in the first place and often once they are ready and able to begin decoding words they make up their own internal system for decoding.

Learning and studying our children's characteristics and watching for their readiness is the best way to go.
Reading aloud to them gets them interested in the world of books and lands beyond where we live. Why waste time teaching a child to read when they are NOT ready when you can sit cuddled up for three years reading aloud. It can take a child three years or more to learn to read when they aren't ready. All the while the mom struggles with disciplinary issues and measures thinking the child is stubborn and inattentive. Why not use the time you would spend on phonics to read? After all, isn't reading what phonics is all about? When a child is ready they will ask YOU to help them read because they WANT to read for themselves more books than you have time to read or your voice will hold out for.

My son still forgets what a "W" is called, what sound a "g" makes and asks while he is reading for an explanation. Teaching our children reading takes a deep understanding of our particular child (or children), each is different. One might need more drill in the sounds. Another, like my son might be internally combining sight reading with phonics as his active body reads the words. His whole body is engaged while he reads with movement. It is entirely exhausting to me [Roll Eyes]but this is how he learns.

Once a child knows how to read fluently we do not pay attention to the phonics rules or think through the sounds the letters make. I realized this so thoroughly when I was recently given something to read that had every word misspelled in a dyslexic fashion. It was incredible but I was able to read it as if nothing was changed. The whole intent of this reading passage was to point out that we read without really seeing the words. We read the ideas and thoughts. Watch yourself as you read and you'll notice that you don't really *see* each part of the word.

Hope this encourages those whose children are slow in learning to read. Five of my seven children learned to read late and are prolific readers. Don't get caught up in the process and neglect the love of learning along the way.

*NOTE: This is in no way to encourage the neglect on the part of the mother/teacher in teaching her children to read/learn. I have seen many mothers who have children who are delayed in homeschool, not because the child is actually ‘delayed’, but  because the mother is ‘delayed’ in getting around to her teaching responsibilities. I have put this article up on my blog in case some mother in cyberspace feels alone in her endeavor to teach her child to read, who isn’t seeing any  progress in her child’s reading. Well-meaning friends and relatives can really cause stress to a mother!!

Notebooking in the Summer Time

By Judith
April 23, 2003

Have you ever wanted your children to be drawn into learning in summer but just didn’t know how?? Nature Notebooking is the most natural way for a child to learn while having fun. It all starts with a walk through the woods, or along a river, or a hike along some path through a park. Let them collect objects from nature that they find along the way in a small Ziploc bag. Then when they get home they can either put the object into their notebook (if flat) or draw it.
Setting up a Nature Notebook is easy for a young child. Just purchase a three ring binder and slip a pretty picture into the front sleeve. We like to use pictures from old calendars cut down to the correct size. If the child is older or interested in drawing, he can draw and design his own insert for the cover of the Notebook. For a younger child, all I do is slip his notebook page into the plastic sheet which saves the holes from ripping (no more ugly reinforcers dropping off!!) Eventually, if any one interest grows too large for the binder, it can be moved to its own binder. This is the beginning of writing a book!!
As moms, communicating our ideas on how to do something like Notebooking to our children can be quite a challenge. When I first started introducing this idea to my children they would look at me with blank stares like I was crazy!! They just didn’t get it!! That was because they were used to writing only what they HAD to write and their writing was stifled and boring like the words off the page of an elementary textbook. They wrote without depth or feeling and it was always a chore trying to help them decide how to write entries into a plastic sleeve for protection. I don’t worry about the order or organizing it into sections (plants, trees, birds) until the child is able to do it himself. Otherwise I have complicated the process and made it ‘‘mine’’ instead of the child’s. One of my children (at least) always liked to change around where his accomplishments were kept, so I was glad that I had not put them how ““I”” wanted them.

For an older child, his Notebook will take on an individual *look* all his own. He might like to have it divided into sections to reflect various interests such as birds, trees, and whatever other areas catch his eye. It really doesn’t matter how it is done, as it is something that reflects personal style of each child’s individuality. Plastic sleeves (purchased at Sam’s Club, Staples, or Wal-Mart) give a neat and professional appearance that is sure to impress grandparents and friends. The notebook is also a keepsake and the plastic sleeves help to make it attractive. I  read portions of Wisdom’s Way of Learning that talked about Notebooking and read, Notebooking! Yes! You CAN Be a Binder Queen! By Cindy Rushton. With a Nature Notebook topics to write about come naturally when you are on a walk or hike. There is always something to sketch and then the child can write about it with feeling also describing how he sees the attributes of God through nature.
We have a river near our home which we frequently visit especially during the spring and summer. On a warm sunny day we will walk along the river and then pick a spot to sit and observe. The children bring a clipboard, or vinyl zippered notebook with their papers, pencils, crayons, and erasers inside of it. They leave their actual nature notebook at home or it would get ruined on the walks we take. Often they use a sketch pad (taken on the walk) and when they are home from the walk they cut that page to fit the plastic sheet. They might see a crawfish or turtle along the path and they will describe and draw it. Sketching is not accurate drawing which tends to discourage most children and adults alike. It is just a rough drawing that basically shows what they have seen.
We have learned to include many wonderful things in our Nature Notebooks by reading and studying a couple books by naturalists. The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden is a gorgeous book which demonstrates the beauty and potential which may be included in such a book. As Mrs. Holden journals her way through her adventures with nature she demonstrates what she has seen through beautiful painted drawings. For our children, they can do this with pencil crayons and have a lovely effect. Sometimes, she included poems. Sometimes she gave a long journal of her experience with nature. Other times there was just a bit of writing with more drawings. She decorated around the edges of the pages with leaves and flowers and what she had seen. Then, there are larger drawings of plants and just a caption under them identifying them. There is also a video of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady which is thoroughly enjoyable.
Another book that has helped us along the road to Notebooking is, Nature Journaling by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth. This book is different than the first in that it is not someone’s nature journal but instead illustrates how to do one yourself giving all sorts of ideas. It does have pages upon pages of examples showing beautifully what can be put within the pages of your own book. Throughout the book it gives all sorts of ideas on what can be included to make your journal interesting.

The first thing to do in getting started is to begin exploring. Get comfortable with the outdoors and begin to listen and look for things that you are not used to noticing in nature. You will find that being confined and cooped up inside has stifled your senses so that you do not hear and see the world around you. Take walks as often as you can so that you begin to hear the river, hear how one bird sounds different than another, listen to the frog croak, or the turtles splash into the swamp. Teach your children to listen and hear these things too. That might mean that they need to have some rules for the walk (or a portion of the walk) or they will not chatter and run noisily through the thicket, cracking branches and scaring any nature away that isn’t stuck in the ground by a trunk!! Have them sit quietly for five minutes and increase the amount of time as they become comfortable with nature so they notice the sounds and feel drawn to the peaceful surroundings. Help them to notice their surroundings. Is there limestone rock, dirt, clay, a river? What kind of trees are there, is there grass? When they become experienced nature journalists take them on a walk in inclimate weather. Have you ever taken a walk in the rain, snow, sleet? I know it is nicer to stay inside, but there are still very interesting things to see and hear. Everything can look quite different!!
We know so much about the travels of Christopher Columbus because records of his explorations were recorded in his Logbook (another name for a Nature Notebook or Journal). This is how he convinced Queen Isabella that he had reached the New World. His logbook is an extremely detailed book of his travels and adventures. Then there is President Thomas Jefferson who hired explorers Lewis and Clark to lead the expedition on the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. Yes, they were skilled explorers but each of them kept a meticulous journal of their travels. They included detailed drawings and writings. These are the best records we have today of their hazardous two-year journey. (1)
Other examples of those from the past who have been naturalists are numerous. They are the oldest scientific learners. Pliny, Aristotle, Linnaeus, Audubon, Pasteur, Thoreau, and Thomas Jefferson are just a few who can be studied to encourage an interest to develop in our children. It is also interesting to point out to our children the differences in how some of these men viewed God’s creation. Some honored Him and others just never *saw* God in nature.

In a journal, stories having to do with animals, or other adventurous journeys through nature may be added to the book to add variety. One child might want her journal to reflect a summer vegetable or flower garden. Another might want it to reflect a season like spring which brings so many changes in nature. The ideas are endless.
If you want your children to learn during the summer, then consider Nature Notebooking! It is such a natural way to involve your children in learning, taking the ‘‘classroom’’ outdoors. Children LOVE this!! In this one exercise there are so many components incorporated as they write, draw, spell, use grammar, research, and exercise. You will love this relaxed approach to learning for both you and your children. Get involved yourself and set the example for your children while learning about nature and keep a nature journal yourself!!
(1) Nature Journal p. 8

"And You're Still Alive?!"

Keeping Mom Rested Too!!
By Judith 
May 26, 2006

Resting is something that I have required ALL my children to do once they have outgrown the need for napping. I don't know if I would have survived without this break in the day when they were all young!! Keeping ‘mom’ rested mentally and physically is important to her Spiritual being especially with those of us with children home the entire day. A happy mom is a happy home. When I told a woman the other day that I had SEVEN children, she exclaimed, "And you're STILL ALIVE?!"

When my oldest son was little, he was VERY active. I learned from a mom who had LOTS of children to have them nap or rest with a book after lunch. My children did this for sooo long. There are still times when I ask them to read (because I am real tired, need to get something done, or want to read myself.)

It is a discipline to teach our children. From the time my son (and the others) grew out of the need to sleep, I allowed them to have a book to look at or read. They HAD to stay on their bed or designated spot of the house. We have had three girls in one room and three boys in another since they were very little. Can you imagine the fun they would have (and the relief I wouldn't get) if I sent them to their rooms to play "QUIETLY!" So, their bed was made a 'special' spot where they could read, or be. This quiet time of the day is also important for another reason. It gives children a chance to think, daydream, and just be by themselves for a while. Don't be afraid that YOU are being too selfish in needing and wanting this time for yourself. I have read, done things that I could not get done at any other time of the day with an active household.

For you with babies, I trained them to sleep at the same time as the older toddlers and children were napping/resting. I would lay them down in the crib at the same time each day and rub their back. Until I wanted them to sleep, I would keep them awake in order to establish their sleeping routine. The time that this takes pays off!!

Remember, keeping yourself as mom rested both mentally and physically brings refreshment to your soul Spiritually. There is NOTHING more important than a rested mom and a rested household full of young children when we are in the earlier years of homelearning.

Go for it!!

The Choice of Modesty

By Judith
January 15, 2004

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1,2

Over the years I have felt a pull in my heart to dress in a way that is more pleasing to our God. It started to happen after we felt drawn to a journey of homelearning with our children. Gradually the Lord started to work on one area after another in my heart and the things which were unpleasing to Him began to be brought under His loving eyes.  Yet, it took at least another 12 years before I totally followed the calling that the Lord has laid on my heart.

Three years ago, I was looking for ideas on how to lay out our family website. I was searching through some of my favorite sites trying to learn how a website should *look* when my eye caught an article that captured my interest.  The article that caught my eye was called, MODESTY Women's Apparel I have read many articles over the years where modesty had been encouraged but hadn’t happened to see any (at that point) in quite a few years. This article touched my heart deeply and convicted me in a way that I cannot describe. 

What I had read on modesty in the past had shown an outward change but not the inner transformation of the heart. I desired how I dressed to reflect my inner heart but I had the ways of the world so deeply ingrained in my heart that consistency in this area was difficult. I was not in the habit of being modest in my clothing choices. Because it was not something I was accustomed to I would make a daily decision as to how I would dress depending on what I intended on doing or who I was going to be with. In other words, my convictions were not convictions and I was blown like wind here and there!!

When I read this article, I knew I had to ‘cold turkey’ my habits of what I was choosing to wear each day and allow the Lord to enter my clothing closet and become part of those daily decisions. Firstly, I knew most of my wardrobe needed ‘to go’ and be replaced little by little with clothing that would be pleasing to the Lord that He directed me to wear.

Within 2 days of wearing a dress, my oldest daughter, who was15 years old came out wearing a dress with a HUGE grin on her face!! I must have suppressed her all those years with only being modest on Sunday and ‘when we felt like it’.  The third day my other two daughters (then 11, and 7) came out wearing dresses too!! They have been my best encouragement over the past three years, as we only know two families locally who wear dresses. One of them moved four thousand miles away and the other family does not live that close to us. It is a lonely calling but you know, we were not called to follow Jesus if everyone else was following Him too but even if NO ONE else followed Him.

We had so much fun searching for modest clothing in thrift stores the first couple of years. After a while, we realized that it took less time to find material and sew at home than to search for what was difficult to find. We still go to thrift stores but we probably spend more time at our sewing center at home than gadding about for clothes. We live amidst a perverse generation and it is virtually impossible to find what is virtuous to wear.

Lead Me to the Rock

“The LORD is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer; The God of my Rock; in Him will I trust: He is my Shield, and the Horn of my Salvation, my High Tower, and my Refuge, my Savior.”  (II Samuel 22:2-3)

Encouragement for HOMEschool Moms as We Start a New Year
By Judith
August 2004

Today we are setting aside the day for a writing-day.  It is always nice to focus on one major project instead of chopping up the day into chunks. No sooner than our chores were complete and we had begun to write, the electricity went off, and so did the computer!

We depend so heavily on all that electricity brings into our homes. When it is gone and the day is dark like today, the house is gloomy as we are not connected to the source of power. Without power we are forced to turn off distractions (are you or your children distracted by the computer, the internet with its homeschool discussion boards, ladies email loops, computer games, or habitual video viewing?) and we are forced to simplify our life, lay down our plans being content with how He would direct our day.

For starters, I’m using loose-leaf paper instead of quickly pecking out my thoughts on the screen. Are we connected to the wrong power source?  Are we powered by Jesus, renewed in our Spirits and ready for the best HOMEschool year ever?

Academics are NOT the primary focus for our family as we look towards this coming year. It is another year to train the hearts of our children, directing them to Jesus. Academics are the means through which we train, direct, so that we have hearts ready for service in years to come when our children are grown.

As parents, our hearts need to be in tune with the LORD in order for us to teach our children’s hearts to be turned toward the LORD. We cannot teach our children character that we have not learned ourselves.

“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: Thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.”
Psalm 71:3

Each morning when I wake up, I turn on the light. It illuminates the whole room and it sheds light on the darkness, dispelling it. Through this action, I tap into the source of power ~ electricity.

Daily, I also open my bible and read, copy scriptures, journal, and pray as I seek the LORD before my ‘day’ begins. An eternal Light is shed on my day, dispelling the darkness.

“Hear my prayer, O LORD,
And let my cry come to thee.

Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble;
Incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.”
(Psalm 102:1 & 2)

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

I am amazed at how many times we are instructed in the bible to praise and sing unto the LORD. Although I love to hear people sing, or sing with others, I don’t go around the house singing! Over the summer as I read and studied through Psalms, the LORD kept telling me to praise Him and sing! Over and over I found the word ‘praise’ and ‘sing’ standing out at me.

Are you anxious with the worries of HOMEschooling this year all the while trying to balance the HOME?  In the middle of the summer, I’ll have to admit that I was! I asked the LORD to speak to my spirit the things He would have me hear.  I laid down at His feet my specific concerns in my journal and now as I looked back, I can see how God choose to specifically answer those concerns. Each year is a new year where the children have grown and matured physically, academically, and spiritually.

Each year I often go through a season of seeking out His will for the coming year. If “I” don’t tap into the right source of power, I am in darkness, depression perhaps, and my outlook on the coming year looks bleak (maybe even my attitude towards the children is not the best).  Tap into the Rock who is Higher.

O GOD, my heart if fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;
That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.
(Psalm 108:1-6)

If you need to be lead to the Rock, the LORD Jesus Christ, and renewed in your spirit for your HOME and the training of your children for this coming year; tap into His source of power instead of finding yourself connected to what brings the distractions of this world. Set yourself apart and do not be conformed to this world (Romans) in every area of your life.

It is our lifestyle that the LORD wants to change through our family’s HOMEschool journey. I don’t think the LORD hardly cares about how much your children’s knowledge has increased in math, spelling, or grammar if their hearts and character is heading the wrong direction. Remember, you cannot teach your children what you do not know yourself. That goes for knowing the LORD. He wants to change every area of Your life! As you grow spiritually, teach your children these things. Then He will teach you more and more as you learn the previous lesson. As the years go on, as you and your children grown spiritually, understanding and knowledge will be added.

He wants to change how we relate to our husbands and children. These are some of the things that make up our lifestyle and are the main reason God has called families to HOMEschool. It is a quiet revival within the hearts of those who have been drawn to educate at HOME. At first we thought it was because of the ‘bad’ schools but really it is because He wants our WHOLE HEART to love, praise, sing, and serve Him.

Have a blessed year seeking the Rock, the source that is higher that “I”. When you get overwhelmed, go to the Rock, when you have a ‘bad’ day (they won’t all be great) ~ go to the Rock. Daily seek Him in the early morning before the children get up (or during nap time) and He will restore your spirit with confidence and His presence as He abides in your WHOLE HEART as your Rock.

Homeschooling through the Trials of Life

By Judith
January 12th, 2005

When going through life, hymns speak to our spirit bringing the theology of His Word into the situation we are experiencing.  Early this morning, my youngest daughter was playing the piano. Although you can’t hear the music to this hymn, here are the words:

The Haven of Rest

My soul in sad exile was out on life‘s sea,
So burdened with sin and distress,
Till I heard a sweet voice saying,
“Make me your choice;” And I entered the “Haven of Rest!”

I’ve anchored my soul in the “Haven of Rest,”
I’ll sail the wide seas no more;
The tempest may sweep o’er the wild, stormy deep,
In Jesus I’m safe evermore.

I yielded myself to His tender embrace,
And faith taking hold of the Word,
My fetters fell off,
 And I anchored my soul;
The “Haven of Rest” is my Lord.

The song of my soul, since the Lord made me whole,
Has been the old story so blest,
Of Jesus, who’ll save whosoever will have
A home in the “Haven of Rest!”

How precious the thought that we all may recline,
Like John the beloved and blest,
On Jesus’ strong arm, where no tempest can harm,
Secure in the “Haven of Rest!”

                           Oh, come to the Savior, He patiently waits          
To save by His power divine;
Come, anchor your soul in the “Haven of Rest,”
And say, “My Beloved is mine.”

If your family is like ours, there are times when your homeschool lifestyle will manifest blessings of either good fruit or where growth needs to occur. It is in times like these that it is so easy to feel discouraged and give up. Shaping our families into a Godly Christian family when there are few examples to follow in our generation is a difficult task.

Have you ever had trials in training your children? Maybe it is in finding the right things that will work with your newborn baby. When one of my children was two months old she had congenital hip displasia and was in a body harness. During those same weeks, my husband needed to have lithotripsy (shattering stones through sound waves) for kidney stones. Then, there were the (many) times that the children didn’t obey and life momentarily seemed to be chaotic and perhaps as a result life became noisy. There was another time when I had a serious case of hives for a month (as we continued to homeschool).

Over the years, we have had water problems in our basement…sometimes literally flooding, other times being able to catch the problem. We thought we had solved the problem when we built an attached garage onto our house, but as time went on a few cracks appeared in the foundation. Children learn an incredible amount through how we deal with each situation we encounter.

I know that each person reading this article has his or her own life situations.  How do each of us ‘keep on keeping on’ homeschooling through the trials of life?

Children can learn so much through our example. How we react to what life brings along is more often how they will choose to live when they are grown. As the saying goes, “more is caught than taught”. This idiom so aptly applies to these years we are spending in home training our children for His kingdom.

Problems that we face can be like a tumultuous sea that emotionally tosses us to and fro. Lack of enough sleep, a child up during the night, sickness in our children, spouse, or ourselves can give occasion for us to let down our guard and become more emotional as we face life head-on.  These issues affect our soul and like the song can cause sadness (or depression) within, making us like an exile on the sea where we are tossed by the waves.  

*There is an analogy about a man who had fallen into a deep, dark chasm, and was hanging onto his life by a single rope.  At any moment -if he let go- he’d fall to a terrible, smattering death hundreds of feet below.  The minutes seem like hours as he literally “hung on for dear life.”  Finally, he couldn’t hold on any longer.  In desperation, he closed his eyes tightly, and let go.  To his surprise, the bottom of the chasm was only inches beneath his feet.  …all that anguish and struggling for nothing.  The analogy is this: Stop hanging on trying in your own might.  Let go, and let our Lord do the rest!      

Most of my difficulties arise (not with the situation itself) but because instead of relying of Jesus, I have relied on my own strength. It just doesn’t work!! When I let go of the rope of self –reliance, Jesus is there, like the bottom of the pit, providing a foothold. He is the sweet voice offering us a choice to enter His “Haven of Rest!”

Often, we are so caught up in our efforts to home educate our children that the day ends before we had the time to encourage another mom or neighbor.  This past week was one of those for me!! 

Preparing our children to be adults is a formidable task that in our family often means teaching them to honor as well as obey.  Since my husband and I would like their obedience to be from their heart, this means we must vigilantly watch their facial expressions and body language, not to mention, our own relationship as husband and wife (ouch!!)

The more years roll by, I am more convinced of the true reason why God would have led us to home train our children. It wasn’t entirely so that they would be academically prepared for life (although that is important) nor that they would be Spiritually mature adults ready to be arrows for the Kingdom’s use. Mostly, it is so that “I” can be broken and molded into the woman that God would have me be. Every time I think I’m far enough along the way, I find God nudging me again and pointing out some new area that I need to grow in. It hurts.

The song talks about Jesus being our anchor, our “Haven of Rest!” Do we rest in Him? We aren’t to sail the wide seas anymore, yet, the tempest still may sweep over the wild, stormy deep.  In Jesus, we are safe forever. I know this is the key; I have experienced it throughout situations that seem to loom over me. The feeling that we have no way of escape, that hopeless feeling we can in faith, yield to Him who holds us safe.

I find comfort in God’s Word when I am going through tough waters. Lately, I have been reading the Proverb for the day (today is 01/12/05 so I read Proverb 12) and from Psalms (Ps. 1,31,61,91, and 121 on the 1st of the month). I am finding this to be comforting as well as keeping me in God’s Word. I’m not a theologian but I think that much of what is in the Bible is repeated in the themes of the Psalms.

How can we cope when the trials of life bring us to the bottom of the pit? How can we continue to home educate our children? We will sink within the stormy wave like John…and if you know me, sink right UNDER the wave!! Too many times I have come up spluttering for air, dripping wet!! Usually, the smallest of situations can bring me down the lowest. How about YOU?

Jesus is always there to hold us secure in His mighty arms. Nothing is too big for Him. Nothing. This might sound trite if your waters are deeper than mine. 

Do you know other sisters well enough to listen and hear about their load? I know some who struggle with personal health issues as they journey through the mid-to-late homeschooling years. Then there are those who have an aging parent living with them whom they care for. This has its own trials which bring those emotional issues I shared earlier. How about the mom who is allowing God to plan her family size? I know several who have had their fifth, sixth, or one who had her twelfth baby during the past year.  These women continue with the training and learning of their older children, sometimes not even having children old enough to be a great deal of help (I know several with 9 -11 boys!!). Just simple tasks can be daunting…such as folding laundry or meal preparation…let alone reading the children’s writings.

Are you leaning on Jesus through whatever your circumstances may be? Simply encouraging your dear husband in leadership through life’s trials can bring a huge lift to the family spiritually.  I have trouble doing this: but it is important to be cheerful, optimistic, and full of praise for all that the LORD has done for your family and is doing through them. Praying daily for all the members of your family (and maybe a few sisters too) will bring the power of the LORD into each trial faced. 

Through each day, having the mind of Christ, changes the turmoil that rages around us either in the world or in our homes and lives into a totally different perspective. Instead of finding ourselves in a pit, hopelessly loosing our grip on the rope, we can find our “Haven of Rest” in Him who surrounds us with His loving arms.

The problem may still exist in your life, there is no grantee that will change. What will change is where you put your trust. Your faith when placed in Jesus will absolutely turn things around. Taking the time to read and meditate in your Bible and pray each morning, taking the time to turn everything over to the LORD makes all the difference. Peace will surround you. He will live through you in patience, as you ‘fret not’ (Psalm 37) for your situation. He will lift you up out of the stormy waters and hold you fast in His “Haven of Rest” through the trials of this lifestyle of homeschooling.

And let us NOT be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

*Tilaundia Buckingham Hale’s contribution (Alaska ☺)


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