Fall ~ Homeschool & Outdoor Beauty

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Last week was our first week of the 2019-2020 school year!!!!!!  I tried to wait until September so that maybe, just maybe, the crazy-intense nausea would relent, but it just. kept. on.  Still!  We had a wonderful week, I’m so excited about this year’s curriculum.

Last year was our first year doing this, so not being very confident, I picked a curriculum to use that had everything already planned and built into it for us.  It was nice and well-planned, but this year I wanted to go deeper into the different studies.  I’ll post the books I’ve put together from good recommendations from other homeschoolers at the end.

First… every morning we’ve been doing an outside exploration time from about 8am-9:15.  It gets their energy out so that by 9:30am, they’re ready to sit down and do some school work.

The first day of school, my husband was able to go because it was his off day, and we saw an entire herd of deer and little elderly woman feeding them from her hand!!!  It must have been a whole family, because there were several bucks altogether, and even the bucks were coming up to her.  She let our kids feed them, too, and it was just SUCH a cool experience!  Too bad I didn’t have my camera (LOL this is why I’m practically paranoid to leave the house without it)!

Here’s some where I did remember to take the camera –

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My mom always wanted us to love and seek out beauty in nature or art, etc. it’s something I know I owe to her for giving me during my childhood, the gift of experiencing beauty – learning how to seek out beauty.  I’m excited that one day every week, she’s able to come with us on these adventure-outings where we specifically go to someplace beautiful and kind of take the morning off from school activities (it’s just one morning where we spend that long outside, and it’s like a mini field trip)!

They end up doing so much active learning anyway, I expected it to all be play, but some of their, “play,” actually reminded me of science experiments! :O  They floated giant leaves down a stream over and over again just to see which way they’d go.  Then our oldest decided to alter the path by setting rocks in the way… seeing if it sped up the leaves or slowed them down in certain areas.  Just so nice to be able to do things like this, whereas if they were in school, we’d have to wait until weekends where it’d be super crowded (and to be honest, we probably just wouldn’t then).

My oldest found this mockingbird watching us from the arch of butterfly vines and took this beautiful picture!  I’m so proud of his photography interest and practice!

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I loved seeing all the kids play on this hill!  They rolled down it countless times and had so much wild fun!

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The grass was soft, no rocks, and perfect for rolling.  They call it, “Tumble Hill,” 😀

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The sky was like a painting that morning!  The clouds just looked so beautiful!

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Then we all played in the water (me and the Grandma, too!!!)… it’s still hot here, so the cool water was refreshing to play in.

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There’s nothing like morning light.  It even helps trigger the hormone serotonin to be released in your brain – the hormone that keeps depression and anxiety away!  Just so good for them to be out in the mornings soaking up that happiness sunlight ❤

It definitely makes me happier!

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They found a little waterfall in the rocks.

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After a few hours, we changed and relaxed before lunch.

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The picture below is of one of my favorite places that is still the same as when I was little.  It’s a man-made pond with dozens of waterlilies and a cute population of frogs in all their stages of development.  I used to catch tad-poles there in a cup!

I was always mesmerized with it’s beauty.  This picture reminded me of that, as all our children seemed captivated for a moment.

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Now on to the coursework….  For our 4 year old, it’s pretty straight forward learning letters, numbers, the basics of writing and reading, and simple math addition and subtraction.  I already had tons of books for that from when the oldest was his age, so I didn’t need to buy anything new!

But for our fourth grader, putting together a curriculum by myself was intense!  I pulled from sources we know, and some from online, and was happy in the end with what he’s doing.  We had the option to do a Christian co-op where I could have paid for other teachers to teach him the different subjects once a week a, “day academy,” and then do the rest on my own with him the rest of the week.  We decided it was overall too expensive ($1,500 for the year :O ), but I was able to pull from their curriculum as well, as to what was being used book-wise.  We may actually do the day academy next year, the teachers there, and families that go are that great.

For now though, I was able to find our entire curriculum for about $150 total!  Such a better price and to be honest, I find it fun to teach the different subjects to them!  Sure there are hard days when their attitudes are off, but 98% of the time, it’s really really fun and interesting.

For Language Arts

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I found these books MUCH better than the standard curriculum language books I was looking at.  They were recommended from this fascinating blogger, SaucysandPiper, from Days of Sunshine blog, here.  Her blog (and photography) is definitely worth checking out, please!!!

The Building Language is just introducing the concepts of Latin stems, and the way much of our language (and different languages) are built from those.  These books are just beautifully written, and incorporate the unique architecture, roads and aqueducts the Romans built!  Caesar’s English 1 is a more advanced (all of these books are done by the Royal Fireworks Press for Gifted and Talented children – they really are very good!) form of learning writing, essays, and more on using Latin stems.  The Music of the Hemispheres introduces children to poetry, both reading and composing their own works!  It’s been so much fun, and nothing like last year’s language curriculum!

Not pictured is the All About Spelling packet we’re using.  Recommended from several places, and just an all-around very helpful way to study the words broken down into steps.

For History –

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I decided to use this series called, The Story of the World.  It comes in four hefty volumes, each one designed for lessons for an entire year.  The day academy we were looking into was using it, and several other people I found online.  The author, Susan Wise Bauer, does a wonderful job of explaining history in such a fascinating, simple way – like the telling of a story, which for children, I think how it should be.  Hence, “the story of the world.”  He’s been loving the first chapter, learning about how historians believe life began in the fertile crescent, where the Bible plainly states between the Tigris and Euphrates.  We found a documentary online that followed the chapter almost topic by topic, which was fun.

Also pictured is the activity book, complete with pictures, maps to color, reviews for studying, review cards, and then the Test/Answer booklet for administering tests for each lesson (week).  I like that he’s going to be taking tests and will probably come up with some for his science curriculum, too.  Developing test-taking skills are always helpful.

Bible –

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We do Bible classes usually right before Language, and only do it intensely one day a week.  These books are both good, and have some overlap, but overall I can tell our son loves, “Cold-Case Christianity for Kids,” more than the study book.  I found this recommendation from The Wintery Knight’s website, and it has not disappointed!  Written by a former detective who discovered Jesus’ authenticity by treating him as a cold-case, he teaches kids how to do the same!  Just So. Cool.

Science –

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I’m using an online course and textbook for his science this year, but this is the paperback that goes with the text, full of worksheets, diagrams to fill-in, etc.  We like paper so much here that I’m finding myself wanting to print his textbook off just so he can have it to go back to in order to study easier.  So next year I’ll probably just find something already ready to go.  My degree was in Biology, and I loved science, so it’s one of the classes I feel most comfortable teaching.  Even last year we ventured off the curriculum a lot to do experiments, read books, and watch documentaries on the topics.  Science can either be extremely dry and boring, or edge of your seat exciting!

I also having our son do a Computer Class (basic typing, then moving on to actually writing a book or short story), and Spanish, which he’s loving!  Both of these courses are online and therefore I don’t have to do too much, as it pretty much teaches him for me.

For literature and books for writing essays, I came up with a collection that was more tailored to his likes than the other curriculum I saw out there.  The one we went with last year, that I was planning on possibly doing again (total would have been $500) had a lot of girlish books for some reason for this year that just didn’t sound interesting for him.

Instead we got Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Huckleberry Finn, The Three Musketeers (not pictured because he was literally reading it at the time lol!), The Trumpet of the Swan (a classic 4th grade book), Stuart Little, and the only girlish book, Rachel’s Journal which is the diary of a pioneer girl (we did a study on the American pioneers last year, and he really liked it).

And James Herriot’s Treasury of Stories for Children – just a beautiful book about his sweet and sometimes hilarious experiences as a vet in Yorkshire.  I read his books growing up and so it’s wonderful to get to read them to our kids.

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The illustrations in his book are inspiring, and perfectly capture the culture of Yorkshire when retelling his stories.  Here are some examples –

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Our son also wanted to do a Viking study this year, so to honor that I found these books, plus a book not pictured that is the fictional story to the Fact Tracker (Magic Tree House) book.  The Norse Myths by D’Aulaire, suggested again by SaucysandPiper, has been his favorite overall so far, his dad is reading it with him, but from what I’ve seen, the illustrations are detailed and, “Awesome!” he says.

“I also like to read it on my own when Dad is asleep,” he says 😀 .  The Eyewitness Book on the Vikings is a factual one to balance out the myths.  And he loves the Magic Tree House books, so the fictional and fact tracker were perfect for this!

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For Math –

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I went with the Singapore Math this year, because the day academy co-op we thought about does all their math with this curriculum, and if we join them next year, I thought it’d be better to be on the same page already.  It’s supposed to be good and is a method used in Southeast Asia for developing the nation’s children’s mathematical abilities.  According to Wiki, the method became more popular when test scores were released and showed their method to be at the top pretty consistently.  We may switch to Saxon if it doesn’t prove as great, though, have lots of friends who use that one.

Some pictures of the Norse Myths book (much better in person though) –

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I’m super excited about this year!  Just so many fun things to learn and do!  Hope you readers have a good, “year,” too!

May you always be a learner, and discover adventure every day!

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End of the Year Homeschooling & Best Summer Science Experiments

 

Our school year officially ended right before Memorial Day weekend, culminating in a week-long celebration of just doing whatever we could think of to have fun and let our son know how proud we were of his accomplishments throughout the year!  And there was so much more he was able to learn at home than he would have learned in school! 😀  It was an overall success and I can’t believe how much fun it all was ❤ .  He was already doing well in school, making all A’s, but hating the structure and the boring busy work, along with the teachers’ negative attitudes.  I’m so glad he doesn’t have to depend on only 20 minutes of recess anymore to get his freedom of play!  And seeing him go on to become even more proficient at math, reading and writing was encouraging to me as his teacher.  He can now, hands down, write a compare and contrast 1-page paper, or a critical thinking paper where he analyzes the truth about a situation, and on top of that (!!) he’s learned how to do all the prep work himself by creating brainstorming pages and learning how to organize his thoughts!  My heart is just swollen with so much pride for him, and he’s only about to be 9.  I can see how homeschooled kids have the opportunity to benefit so much more than public school kids from one-on-one daily tutoring styled teaching.

You just can’t beat 1. Going at a child’s own pace, whether it be faster or slower so they really grasp a complicated topic, and 2. One on one attention with a teacher/tutor.  Consequently, you also can’t accomplish those two deeds with a classroom of 20+ children.  It has been eye-opening realizing that having our son in public school, was actually holding him back from his full potential being realized.

I also loved being able to dig down deeper into the historical facts about the places and people we learned about in the coursework.  Instead of a progressive and anti-Christian/anti-family/anti-male academic environment, he was able to learn so many Christian facts about the European people who construct our history.  And instead of being taught the liberal propaganda of the Native Americans being all good-natured, kind and oppressed people groups, we were able to dig into the realistic advantages and disadvantages of being conquered, and the effects of refusal to assimilate now on some of the residual tribes’ economy and way of life in contrast to other groups who excelled in comparison.  When researching all the early explorers and conquistadors, we were blown away with how Satanic the Aztecs were, and in reading letters and diary entries, were able to, “see,” from firsthand accounts just how diabolical they were in the eyes of Cortes’ frightened, deeply Catholic soldiers.  Walls built entirely of human skulls, the altars constantly burning from human sacrifice, hearts rotting as they were left in offering to the demonic gods they worshiped openly and joyfully.  The entire city smelled of rotten flesh and death, and Cortes’ normally brave men were terrified of all of it.  History books try to paint it as a paradise of sorts, being naturally beautiful due to the island set-up, but according to his men, it was like a paradise in hell.  Do public schools teach all this now?  I’d bet money they don’t!

I didn’t know Cortes was such a strong Catholic that he desperately wanted to place crosses around the city, and over the idols they worshiped.  He repeatedly tried to convince the Aztec chief they were worshiping demons, which they clearly were, and I don’t remember learning the many times he gave them the opportunity to forgo war and be peacefully overtaken.  His men even allowed the Aztecs to still carry on with their festivals, provided they would not engage in human sacrifice, (which didn’t work out, as they refused to forgo human sacrifice and preferred to revolt/have war).  In harsh contrast to the education I had on this man, he came across as humble, kind, deeply religious and overly gracious in his desire to persuade them to avoid war and violence.  It’s ridiculous how much progressive propaganda has taken over the school system with distorted facts parents have to correct at home.  How much better it is to just teach the truth from the get-go!   

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Our curriculum also encouraged us to do a Family Tree project that ended up becoming so complicated we’re extending it into the summer and next year!  Even just today while researching some more on the history of our relatives’ house and the town they settled in, I found out that a different ancestor on my dad’s side (a Texas Ranger Captain), personally collaborated with the town’s founder to scope out the territory that would eventually become my mom’s great-grandparents’ hometown.  How amazing for our son to find out these two families were already in a strange way, connected.

We also learned that their house was written about by the man who designed Central Park, American landscape artist, Frederick Law Olmsted.  The house was already unique (built by Napoleon’s guard and a place where Robert E. Lee once stayed), but to read Olmsted’s description of it in his book, A Journey Through Texas, where he described it in first person, was just amazing.  He calls the town and the people who settled there, in comparison with the rest of Texas, “as far from Texan as possible,” as they were Alsatian, which is a French-German population of people who came from Alsace, a french province that has been passed from France to Germany in ownership I believe five times.

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Here is his excerpt on my great-great Grandparents’ house:

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Perhaps the most remarkable thing is the hotel, by M. Tarde, a two-story house, with double galleries, and the best inn we saw in the state.  How delighted and astonished many a traveler must have been, on arriving from the plains at this first village, to find not only his dreams of white bread, sweetmeats and potatoes realized, but napkins, silver forks, and radishes, French servants, French neatness, French furniture, delicious French beds, and the Courrier des Etats Unis; and more, the lively and entertaining bourgeoise.

I think the best part of this first year in our homeschooling adventure is wealth of Christian knowledge we were able to interject into what he was learning at the time.  Even with our family tree project, he’s finding out how important the Christian faith was in building communities that had strong morals and structure.  Or in crafting strong families with strong roots who were able to be sustained in hard or impossible times.  Even scholastically, our son was able to practice and learn most of his writing techniques in the second half of the year, while using the timeless classic Pilgrim’s Progress!!!!  So much of what he wrote about are concepts that most adults these days don’t even understand about theology and the spiritual journey!  His faith and love for God deepened so much!!  What a success it all was!!! ❤  You can’t get a Christian education within the public school system, and I’m coming to believe that it is our job as parents to give our kids a Christian education.

So even though we did science experiments all throughout the year, he still wants to do more science over the summer.  Hence the video at the top 😀

 

Related Links

Christian Kids Need a Christian Education

Public Education: Trapped by the Progressive Agenda

New Perspective on Mother’s Day – Christian Families 100+ Years from Now

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: You Will Have Deep Roots to Withstand Persecution

 

 

 

A New Perspective on Mother’s Day -Christian families 100+ Years Down the Road

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Something I’ve been thinking about off and on for a few months is the long-term effect of Christian families, really generations, throughout time.  The picture above is of my kids and I at a river where my Great Great Grandparents would let their children play.

My Great Grandfather played there as a child, as well as his daughter (my Grandmother), and cousins, etc., and now our kids, over 100+ years later on, are doing the same thing.

We recently took a short trip to their small town to look around and engage in some sentimental pondering of what we know of who they were, what their lives were like, and wonder if they ever could have imagined how important their faith was to someone as far removed from their day-to-day lives as their great-great grand-daughter?

I wonder if they realized when they were doing it, the legacy of faith they were building?

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Their house built in 1852

This coming weekend is Mother’s Day weekend, and again, like every year now, I’ve seen the regular online articles claiming how awful Mother’s Day is because women are expected to still change diapers… the regular old complaining and whining and such.  I’ve written posts to counter those articles before, but I thought I’d take a widely different approach this year.

What if we looked at Motherhood through the lens of something we’re building that is eternally glorious?  What if we really saw for the first time, how important our “invisible,” efforts are in the lives of our children and even future generations to come?

My Great great-Grandparents were in my opinion, remarkably wonderful and kind people.  They came to the US as immigrants, him being already a doctor and his wife, a happy and capable homemaker.  They had 12 children, and raised them with a fiercely strong, passionate Christian faith.  They were good parents, as two of their sons made overt gestures when adults to dedicate a Christian monument in the town  (a giant crucifix to their, “loving parents,”) and to write a long, 20 page document detailing their parents’ characters and lives.  They were clearly people who their children liked, looked up to, and respected as fellow Christians.

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After my Great great grandfather died, my GG-grandmother turned their house into an inn.  We’ve read that artists and writers stayed there, and she lived out her last days very happily.

These were just not ordinary people… their Christian faith and the way they devoted their lives to living it out in their community, and with their children, inspires me to take our own efforts in how we raise our kids that much more seriously.  To know that their faith was a critical building block to who I am today, prompts me to pray for my own children’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and so on.  To pray continual blessings over them.  To pray hedges of protection around their lives.  To pray that they will be able to withstand life’s hardships and trials or testings, and still pass on the faith that was birthed in our family probably 100’s of years ago (we’re not sure when… we’d probably have to look for genealogy records in their old country).

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Their great-great-great grandchildren visiting their church!

Going back to see in person their house, their old church, to walk where they walked and see what they saw, it gives real meaning and understanding to all the verses where God promises that He will be faithful through generations of believers.  I always thought that only meant God is the same, from generation to generation, and I’m sure that is still what it means.  But I wonder if He also may have been reminding us that His promises and faithfulness proves true through literal familial generation to generation.

“And His mercy is for those who fear Him,

from generation to generation.”

Luke 1:50

I felt a strange sadness knowing that we didn’t get to, “know,” these relatives beyond what their children wrote about them (and how sweet that their children actually did!!!).  And just an overwhelming longing for the wisdom that my great-great Grandmother would have given me about parenting her 12 children – a feat she did successfully, or her advice on supporting one’s husband, or on building up a community that is 98% full of Christians making the town and surrounding areas better.  Thinking of her and her husband made me look at my husband and long to have 12 children with him like she managed, because he’s such a good and godly man, and our children already love him so much!

It’s sad how much wisdom from past ages is, “lost,” with time when it isn’t written down and preserved.  This is why I’m working together with  my own mother (who is their great-grand-daughter) on leaving a book for my own daughter and future female descendants, that will include much of the wisdom she passed down to me, which I felt was crucial to how I now live my life as a wife and mother.  It may end up not being appreciated, but I feel like to not even try to deliver this information to future generations would be wrong!

After all, God does tell us we should care about the future generations of Christians,

So even to old age and gray hair, O God,

do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your Might to another generation,

Your Power to all those to come.”

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“We will not hide them from their children,

but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord,

and His might, and the wonders that He has done.”

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Let this be recorded for a generation to come,

so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord

Psalm 71:18, Psalm 78:4, Psalm 102:18
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But what if you didn’t have a mother who took her role seriously?  What if you had a mother who always complained, or made life in  your house generally miserable?

My grandmother (my mom’s mom) came from this wonderful, godly lineage, but she didn’t choose this path to be a joyful, happy mother.  Yes, she had great difficulties in life, but they are no excuse for how she chose to be chronically unhappy, complaining, and verbally abusive to her children and her husband.  She’s now left a legacy of warning, an example of what NOT to emulate, that my mom passed down to me (having grown up herself in a house with a mother like that).  So I very much understand from a personal viewpoint, how this kind of mother, even if she does have reason to be upset or complaining or whining all the time (chronically unhappy), she still should make it priority number one to NOT allow herself to act on those feelings.  Acting on those feelings are tantamount to ruining her legacy, and harming her husband and children.

Even though my grandmother came from this very same family, she didn’t truly have a relationship with God until she was on her death bed when she finally accepted Christ as her savior, that’s how stubborn and bitter she was about life.  She literally lived almost an entire life wasted, and never had a good relationship with her daughter (my mom).

Even if I’m the only voice saying this out there (I’m sure I’m not, thankfully), I’m going to say it:

Don’t allow momentary afflictions to destroy

what you’re trying to build

that may last for centuries,

because YOU chose to be an unjoyful, unhappy mother.

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It’s true what us mothers are building is hard work.  We’re supposed to be helping children grow into adults who honor God with their entire life and being, in a world that wants very much to destroy everything Christianity stands for.

It’s true that our work goes largely unnoticed, in the crevices of unseen life.  I have to admit, raising children is sometimes heart-breaking work as you feel they constantly don’t, “appreciate,” you as their mother.  But the fact that it can last for generations, or that one woman can turn it back around like my mother did to redeem a family’s lost legacy, brings hope.

The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson –

“It started to happen gradually. I would walk into a room and say something and no one would notice. I would say, “Turn the TV down, please.” And nothing would happen. So I would get louder, “TURN THE TV DOWN PLEASE!” Finally, I would have to go over and turn the TV down myself.

And then I started to notice it elsewhere. My husband and I had been at a party for about three hours and I was ready to go. I looked over and he was talking to a friend from work and I walked over and…he kept right on talking. He didn’t even turn toward me.

That’s when I started to put it together…. He can’t see me! I’m invisible!

I’m Invisible!

Then I started to notice it more and more. I would walk my son to school and his teacher would say, “Jake, who’s that with you?” And my son would say, “Nobody.” Granted, he’s just five…but NOBODY?

One night a group of us gathered and we were celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just taken this fabulous trip and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed and I was sitting there looking around at the other women at the table. I’d put my makeup on in the car on the way there, I had on an old dress because it the only thing clean, and I had my unwashed hair pulled up in a banana clip and I was feeling pretty darn pathetic. And then Janice turned to me and she said, “I brought you this.”   It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. And then I read her inscription: “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

You can’t name the names of the people who built the great cathedrals. Over and over again, looking at these mammoth works, you scan down to find the names and it says builder unknown. They completed things not knowing that anyone would notice. There’s a story about one of the builders who was carving a tiny bird inside a beam that would be covered over by a roof. And someone came up to him and said, “Why are you spending so much time on something no one will ever see?”

It’s reported that the builder replied, “Because God sees.”  They trusted that God saw everything.

They gave their whole lives for a work, a mammoth work, they would never see finished. They showed up day after day. Some of these cathedrals took over a 100 years to build. That was more than one working man’s lifetime. Day after day. And they made personal sacrifices for no credit. Showing up at a job they would never see finished for a building their name would never be on.

One writer even goes so far as to say, “No great cathedrals will ever be built again because so few people are willing to sacrifice to that degree.”  I closed the book and it was as if I heard God say, “I see you. You are not invisible to me. No sacrifice is too small for me to notice. I see every cupcake baked, every sequin sewn on and I smile over every one. I see every tear of disappointment when things don’t go the way you want them to go. But remember, you are building a great cathedral. It will not be finished in your lifetime. And sadly, you will never get to live there. But if you build it well, I will.”

At times, my invisibility has felt like an affliction to me, but it not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my own pride.

It’s okay that they don’t see. It’s okay that they don’t know.

I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college, “You’re not going to believe what my mom does. She gets up at four in the morning and she bakes pies and hand bastes the turkey and she presses all the linens.” Even if I do all those things, I don’t want him to say that. I want him to want to come home. And secondly, I want him to say to his friend, “You’re gonna love it there.”  It’s okay that they don’t see. We don’t work for them. We work for Him. We sacrifice for Him. They will never see. Not if we do it right, not if we do it well.   Let’s pray that our work will stand as a monument to an even Greater God.

❤️

How to Survive in the Desert

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Our boys watched this as part of the homeschooling science experience when learning about the different biomes, specifically, the rainforest, desert, and tundra.  The oldest had to pick one to do a mini project on, and he hands-down picked the desert!

Oh what fun!!!!  So we’ve been diving into the adventure of EVERYTHING to know about the desert, and one thing he thought would be interesting was to learn how one would survive if they were ever stuck out in the desert for a period of time.

Thought this video might be something others would like 😀 there is a part 2, however we haven’t watched that one yet.

I have to say though, both boys were glued to the screen the entire 36 minutes long, even though a lot of it is just talking and explaining, they LOVED watching this man teach them that much!

If anyone who happens to be reading this post has ever had experience living or camping (or surviving!!) in a desert, I’d very much appreciate your take on this video (and your personal experience in general)!

 

Blessings in the Interruptions

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My husband snapped this picture in the morning before he left for a special assignment… said it was too cute to miss.  Recently, our beautiful girl has decided waking up VERY early is just the thing to do 😉 and I’ve been letting her stay up with me so I can continue with some time to read the Bible and pray.

What I would have considered an interruption has become such a beautiful blessing of extra time to cuddle with her and enjoy alone time with her.  I usually get her some chocolate milk, and coffee for myself, and sit back down where she stays quietly reading one of her books or her little Christmas story Bible (sooo cute!!!) and gives me another 30 minutes to an hour to read and pray.  Our boys were a little too rough and rowdy to have done this (and I tried LOL) so having a sweet, gentle girl is a nice change 😀 !  I love how different they are.

In the book, The Mission of Motherhood, this quote recently stood out,

“How do we make the commitment to give the area of motherhood over to God as a sacrifice of worship to him?

We yield our personal rights into his hands.  We give up our time and expectations to him – and also our fears and worries about how we will manage.  We trust him to take care of us and our family.  We let him redirect our thinking and expectations and adjust our dreams.  And we wait in faith to see the fruit of our hard labor in the lives of our children, knowing that he will be faithful to honor our commitment to him.”

I consider that early morning time – a time of peace and a rare stillness that falls over the house when everyone else is asleep – my time to replenish and really focus on God and His Word.  I can see how it could be called my “Me-Time,” or be something a friend would say I have a “right” to.  And I get it – having that time not go as I planned due to a fussy baby means mentally or emotionally giving up this “right.”

We’re all about “rights” as women in this day and age.  Whether it’s the “right” to some alone time, the “right” to some pampering, or even the “right” to complain (yes, I’ve heard this!), it seems we live a chronic state of feeling we deserve certain circumstances or treatment.  Since mothers usually do spend a lot of time serving, I think we have this expectation that we should receive a form of “payment” in return for all our efforts.  But that’s just it – a real sacrificial love doesn’t demand (or even expect) payment or retribution for things lost like time and energy.  Is alone time or being pampered inherently bad?  Of course not 🙂 but it can be if we view them as though they’re owed to us because we “sacrifice so much.”

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Loving our children in such a way that we try to re-frame these interruptions, or messes… or accidents… into opportunities for blessings or “divine appointments,” as Clarkson calls them, is such a dramatic difference in perspective.  I admit this is something I have to routinely call myself back to in keeping in focus.

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“Greater love has no one than this,

that one lay down his life for his friends.”

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Clarkson goes on to describe God’s design for motherhood as comparable to what Jesus described in John 15:13.  Mother’s in many ways, are called to figuratively “lay down their lives” for their children.

This means that even when we don’t feel like it, we choose to “serve” them by getting up with them or helping them get back to sleep. ❤

It means that even when it’s the millionth time that week that we’re cleaning the kitchen floors because babies and toddlers eat so messy, that we choose to do it anyway.  ❤

It may mean SO many different changes and sacrifices made toward goals, careers, dreams, or life plans in ensuring they’re getting what they all need from us.

Something I’ve been thinking about, and something that has been brought to the forefront as we’ve had more children, is the “cost” of motherhood.  How deep is that cost I don’t know.  I’m sure it differs for each family, and certainly when considering how many children a mother has, but it is a topic very interesting to me when thinking about how much a woman gives up (yet also gains) when living out the role of a mother?

If anyone has any ideas on this topic I’d love to hear them!

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Families & Freedom

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Babies babies babies!!!!!!!!!!!  I love seeing pictures like this where our whole family is present that we’ve built together.  It just makes it sink in the legacy that we’re leaving behind here in this world.  I’m a firm believer that our children are our legacy, and these are the people who will carry on our beliefs and morals and work to make the world a better place, even if it is in small ways.

I’ve been wanting to write an update about our life right now for awhile, but it always seems to be on the back burner.  We’re just on the cusp of summertime 😀  I may not be blogging as much just due to how much I try to get the kids outside to do activities in nature (or just plain old swimming).  But hopefully there will be some posts that crank out.  We’ll see 😉  ❤

I cannot wait for Summer to officially start!  Each year it seems I get so excited about it – just all the possibilities and opportunities to take the kids to go see things or do different things around our city!  I like to really treat it like a 2 1/2 month long vacation with them… I want them to have these memories for a lifetime where they look back and remember how much fun they had together in our family.

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But… this is Texas and it’s already getting hot hot hot!

The Texas heat just doesn’t bother me as much as it seems to bother other people.  Thankfully my husband is the same way.  Maybe we’re just used to it, or maybe we just spend so much time in the water that we don’t notice it as much, I don’t know, but I do know it wouldn’t be Texas + Summer without that brutal Texas heat.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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Happy Memorial weekend readers.  Reflecting on being in this gorgeous country, and treasuring the beauty of the countryside, I can never express how grateful I am that so many have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be free here.

For the sake of our children, we must keep on fighting this war against our freedom.  Because yes, they are our legacy.  And they are the only thing that matters going forward.

Stephanie

It’s the Burden of Father’s to Teach Their Children Morality

This was so sweet and beautiful.  I may not agree with *everything* this man says about “different” moralities (my husband and I believe in absolute truth and that there’s a clear right and wrong), but the general video is gold.

His main point?

It’s father’s who are burdened with the glorious duty and responsibility to teach their children what is right and what is wrong.  

It’s not your church’s job… it’s not the teachers’ job or even the school system.

No.  It all falls down to fathers (and I’d also say married mothers to a lesser extent).

Single moms statistically just can’t do it… that’s been proven over and over again.  In fact, we now know that single moms only make society worse by producing children who are far more likely to be promiscuous, drug-addicted, jail-birds, violent offenders, gang members, and so on.  It’s not fair, but it’s the way God created the family model to be.

Fathers are so important to our society, because they hold this power over the lives of their children.

And yes, it looks like an incredibly heavy burden, one I’m familiar with when watching my husband take on this role day in and day out when teaching our two oldest (but especially our oldest as he’s at the perfect age for this stuff).

I know I don’t have that burden on my shoulders.  Is there some burden there to raise them in a godly household and talk through questions or problems, teach them about male-female dynamics etc?  Yes, but it’s not the same as what I see my husband bear.

We work together in raising our children, yes, but it’s not the same.  I know for a fact I couldn’t do this without him.

He, as the head of our family and Patriarch, has to bear all the weight of leading our family in truth and knowledge.  It is an incredible burden to take all of that on… especially when you think about the impact you as a father will have on these children as they grow up and have children, and then carry on what you taught them to their children and so on.

All the weight of teaching our kids the proper biblical life model, even though I assist with that, too, is on him.  In fact, most of what I teach them on my own, are things he’s told me he wants them to go over or learn about.

What a beautiful thing to reflect on though, and something our society so needs to hear at the moment.  That it’s up to the fathers to teach their children morality.

Because they truly are the only ones who really can.

Stephanie

Teach Your Kids to Have a Spirit of Excellence

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The Spirit of Excellence Work Ethic

When studying the passage about what the virtuous wife does, it was clear that everything she has control over, she’s intentionally trying to achieve excellence in.  Obviously that is extremely hard to achieve, and I don’t think it happens overnight or even necessarily when one is just starting out in a marriage.  It takes work.  It takes brutal honesty about where we are in that struggle for achieving more discipline or excellence in the work we’re doing.  I don’t think we should feel intimidated by it, but instead inspired to do better in things we’re honestly failing in.

And if you’re a mom, your most important work right now is being an excellent wife to your husband and mother to your kids.  We have so much power over the lives of our children!  I was recently listening to a 6-sermon series by Doug Fields on that very topic of how important it is to make sure we’re being *good* mothers to our kids.  I’ll probably write more on that in other posts.

It’s just important to note that developing an attitude toward your life that inspires you to try to achieve excellence in all you do, is biblical and not to be dismissed as simply being some kind of Super Mom.

And it’s not about a suffocating existence of constantly striving.

It truly is a fine balance.  Striving, I believe, comes from the desire for perfection and perfectionism, even prideWhereas having a spirit of excellence is a totally different attitude!  When you intimately understand that you are NOT your own, that your body is God’s Temple, that you are only a STEWARD over the body and talents and gifts and money God has given you, then your work ethic is correctly lined up with wanting to please God – who is your Boss, since EVERYTHING you own or have control over, belongs to Him and you’re just the steward.  It comes from humility, but that doesn’t mean fighting off pride isn’t sometimes still a battle.

When you have this mindset of developing a spirit of excellence, everything about you changes.  You want to please God, your perfect Boss who loves you beyond imagination!  Whereas striving for perfection is about either pleasing other people or wanting to look good in their eyes – neither of which is a virtuous goal.

With developing a spirit of excellence, you WANT to make the best choices that will give Him back the best RETURN of His INVESTMENT in you as a person.  While striving is all about the desire to control, having a spirit of excellence toward what God’s given you is manifested in relinquishing control over your life and offering it up to Him – and making sure it is an excellent offering!

The Bible tells us that in everything we do, to do it as though we were working for God.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

A Spirit of Excellence Effects All of You –

We have a white board in our kitchen/dining area (it’s all kind of one space lol) and it’s convenient for teaching lessons or writing Scripture for the week to memorize, or even for him to practice sentence writing and spelling words.  It’s been a GREAT investment… just one little white board 🙂

I wrote the title Spirit of Excellence at the top, with the basic definition and words that were synonymous with it.  We talked about what excellence then meant – in a broad, general kind of way.

Then I drew 3 small circles and wrote over each one:

BODY       –>          MIND         –>        GOD

(Increasing in difficult)

It’s the physical element of yourself, your mental and emotional health, and then also your spiritual standing with God since we’re a Christian family.  In my opinion, it increases in difficulty when you view it in this order.  Your body can be difficult to master, but at least it’s physically right there with you – you can touch it, look at it, and more easily understand what may need to change to make it a pillar of excellence.

Your mind working as it should is a lot harder to see clearly – to understand if you are seeing clearly, since everything you view is filtered through it, for good and bad.  It’s basically your mental health and mental abilities (learning, relating, communicating or processing through problems), which for probably more people than we’d like to think, it’s a little harder to have excellence over something you can’t see, touch, and don’t know if you’re “feeling” through a faulty filter.

And the last principle of excellence was GOD.  This is the hardest for mankind to sort out in general, hence why having a strong relationship with God is becoming a fairly rare thing in the world.  It means you have to be open to rebuke and discipline, that you have to be willing to be convicted when you’ve done something wrong or harmed someone else.  When you’re reporting to God everyday, you are held to the highest standard of conduct and responsibility for your choices, because you are His ambassador, His steward over your talents and gifts.  All that takes humility, in fact having a relationship with God at all, takes immense amounts of humility because you have to allow Him to mold you and change you overtime, and to let go of sinful things that are holding you back (but that you like!).

The amazing thing is that if you “master” this principle in gaining a good relationship with God where He is Lord over all of your life, the other principles of your body and mind tend to fall in place as well.

Flow when mastered:

GOD     –>    MIND    –>     BODY

First your mind, since you are allowing God to direct your steps, your mind is the first place He will go to make the necessary convictions and changes.  Then lastly it’s your body, because if you aren’t taking care of it as you should be, eventually you will start feeling ashamed (in your mind!) of laziness or the lack of discipline in that area of your life (when everything else is becoming more and more disciplined and orderly and beautiful), and your body will follow through with being healthily disciplined with working out and eating healthy.

Developing a spirit of excellence in all these things means you will probably stand out more than people around you, like Daniel and his friends did, or how Joseph or Esther or Ruth did.  Unless you specifically search out the people who are also pursuing excellence in everything as well, which is necessary to continued growth.

You can’t do this alone very well, we all need accountability and fellowship with like-minded believers who will hold you accountable to living with a spirit of excellence.  What better way than to surround yourself with people who are also trying to foster a spirit of excellence in their lives as well?

Our children need to be watching their parents living out having a spirit of excellence, and as their mom, what better way than to study the Scriptures, and in particular, the Proverbs 31 woman?

Stephanie

 

Relaxing in the Shade

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Ahhhhh… this was so relaxing.  I’m amazed how wonderful God’s creation is and how peaceful just being in your own backyard can be!  The only sound we heard this lazy afternoon was all the dozens of birds making their various calls in the trees.

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It’s a great feeling when all of your littles are relaxing at the same time.  It doesn’t happen for very long LOL… but it is nice when it does happen.

I made us all homemade blue coconut icies and it was the perfect drink for being out here!  This picnic blanket is super lightweight, water resistant, and I found it for only $10 at Wal-Mart.  It’s soft and beautifully patterned, too.  That along with our pillows and the icies – well, it doesn’t take much for us to feel like we’re living in luxury 😉

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Have a Happy Mother’s Day weekend readers!!!!  Enjoy it as much as you can!

Stephanie

Pricing Mother’s Day

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Every year… it never fails 😉 … we on social media are bombarded with new posts or youtube videos, written by mothers (or their strangely apologetic husbands) moaning and groaning about how horrible being a mom is for them and that it “sucks” that they only get ONE day as a “break” and then proceed to complain that even that ONE day isn’t actually a “break.”  They usually use words like “shitty” of course, though, lol.

Apparently, if you’re a Mom/Grandma/Aunt/etc, Mother’s Day has turned into a week-long, self-indulgent, victimhood-mode of “poor me” attitude for you to indulge in without censorship.  In fact, even bringing up the point that all these posts of moms complaining about how much they hate Mother’s Day (and every other day of the year) because they have to spend it with their kids, isn’t good for them or their kids – if you dare bring this up on social media, you’re labeled judgmental and not Christian or loving like Christ did.

Motherhood is hard.

I totally get many of us moms that were raised in this culture, where we grew up given trophies for just being there (and awesome? LOL), that motherhood feels like too much to handle.  There’s no one else there to “save us” from the sick days, or when our husbands are away on business trips, or when they’re deployed, or working late… and my generation (Gen Y) in particular, aren’t very good at showing grit and the desire to push through difficulties like you’re running an excruciating marathon.

Most of us were just never taught how to have grit or persevere through things we’d really rather not be doing.  We live in a fairly easy, maybe too-accessible culture where everything is either fast and quick for us, or already available.  In my opinion, our culture has created a bunch of weak women.  We’re going to be remembered as the women who every year, took to social media to complain and whine about the very blessings (children!) we said we craved.  

It’s incredibly ironic that in this age of feminism where women are supposed to be stronger than ever, they complain and whine (showing extreme weakness) more than I believe they ever did under a patriarchal “oppressive” society.  Is that what it means to be a strong woman now?  Someone who thinks “Mother’s Day” is her enemy?

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I think I’m lucky that my mother frequently reminded us that most of life was just doing the boring, hard things that needed to be done.  It wasn’t supposed to be easy.  Raising kids isn’t supposed to be easy.  But that’s not really the point.

The point is that even if you think motherhood really really stinks, you should realize that your kids don’t deserve a mom who always feels that way, or allows herself to fall into “victim-mode.” 

Because it’s going to affect them negatively, it just will. 

What are we teaching our kids when we show them that just being their mom really really sucks? 

Are we helping them to become better humans who suck it up and build a beautiful, and very necessarily difficult, but so needed, civilized structure for this country? 

Do we want a massive generation of more people who don’t believe in hard work, who love to complain as loudly as they can, and in any opportunity that they can, to claim their status of victimhood? 

If you’ve felt this way before about Mother’s Day, I do understand that it’s hard.  Dealing with toddlers who scream and throw things at you, hit you and are completely unreasonable… day in and day out… is VERY hard, and yes, sometimes it really really stinks!  But you have to push through those feelings, because they only last a moment when that toddler is being hard. 

And then 3 minutes later, they want a hug and are sweet and adorable again.

You don’t have to “give in” to feeling like the victim to your own life or like your children are “oppressive.”

Anything worthwhile in life is supposed to be difficult.

It’s supposed to be painful.  Because anytime you sacrifice anything in your life, it is going to be a bit painful.  Motherhood is full of those unmeasurable sacrifices – but you have to try to find the beauty in them, and throw off the feelings of resentment or that you’re being “oppressed” by your children.

Compare it to running and getting your body in shape.  If you listened to your feelings, you’d tell yourself constantly that you “hate exercising” and that “it sucks” and then you’d never feel properly motivated to do it.  It’s the same with parenting.  It’s supposed to be hard.  It’s supposed to have moments of painful sacrifice.  And no, you’re not supposed to just whine and complain on social media (to complete strangers) about how much you can’t stand God’s blessings in your life – because it’s not good for you.

Please… try… just one year 😀  TRY to enjoy this mother’s Day without making a whining post or reminding your husband that you “should” get paid $100,000+ for all your “sacrifices.”

Honestly… if you really understood what that word sacrifice means, then you’d understand WHY you don’t get paid money to be a mom.

Stephanie

 

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