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Do We Really Understand the Battle?

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Anyone who really knows me knows that I don’t homeschool the usual way.  I’m not even sure what the usual way is anymore! 


I have learned to focus on the most important thing, which, as I’ve shared before, is all about relationships.  The academics are a nice side benefit, in my way of thinking!   I don’t mean we just la-di-da through life, but I don’t agonize over algebra, chemistry, or participial pronouns!  (Please don’t ask me what that last one is!)


I understand the need for academic excellence–to a point.   But when homeschool moms that talk to me don’t know how we have time to sing 4 hymns a day (huh?!) or wonder how we have time to sew and can, or spend so much time worrying about the right math program or science or foreign language program, I fear we’ve lost sight of the most important reason we should be homeschooling.


The hearts of our children.


Do you think I’m a broken record?  Do you say, "Yes, yes, that’s important, but what DO you do for math?"


Here are some frightening quotes that might help you understand the battle is NOT about how well educated your children are.


“If it were possible to control the learning of all individuals, in the way both of ideas and of emotional attitudes, as they come on to the stage of life, it would be possible to modify the whole complex of our social life, or our civilization, within the comparatively short space of one or two generations.” — CHARLES A. ELLWOOD

“The school is the germ plasm of the higher civilization. Teachers are, therefore, in charge of social selection at the source of origins for each new generation; they can even introduce at will mutatiions of their own invention.” — ROSS L. FINNEY

“Oh, you blind leaders who seek to convert the world by laboured disputations! Step out of the way or the world must fling you aside. Give us the young. Give us the young and we will create a new mind and a new earth in a single generation.” — BENJAMIN KIDD

Who are these people?  Those carrying on in the spirit of Auguste Comte.  Never heard of him?  Me, either.  But he is basically the "father of sociology".  Even though you won’t hear of him even in sociology courses!   His views have shaped the educational system.   In fact:


"Comte devoted his entire life to blueprinting a philosophical SYSTEM which could be used to sanction total control over all the people of the world for all time—eliminating and/or destroying all contrary philosophies and religions, particularly Christianity."

Does this make you realize the high stakes in this battle?  The stakes are our children’s hearts–which way will they be influenced?   Towards their peers, the system, the agenda of those who know in one to two generations they can gain control over people–willingly?


This makes me question how I educate my children.  I canNOT follow an agenda that was created to reshape the thinking of the young and alienating them against God and their family!


That doesn’t mean I don’t make sure my children know how to read and write and think….do basic math….but why I am so worried about "keeping up" with something designed to destroy the very things I hold sacred–God and family?


I know some states require more documentation, testing, etc. than my state does.  But I would find every way I could to be creative and get around "bowing to the gods of education" that these kinds of people have set up.  I am not saying everyone in the public school system is out to get us– there are many good-hearted and well-meaning people in there.  But the system is flawed.


So, if it’s broke, please don’t duplicate it at home.  




The stakes are too high.



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If you want to read the article where I found this information, it was written by Erica Carle, Why I Wrote "The Hate Factory".

My Heart Is Fixed On God

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

This post is from some insights during my quiet time over a month ago, as well as some thoughts from the sermon the day before.  I had (and have!) been seeking the Lord to help me keep my focus on the most important thing–Him.  It’s so easy, though, to fear, especially in the homeschooling arena!  Fear of parents or in-laws, fear of what the neighbors think or even fear of possible legal hassles.  Yet we don’t want to be driven by fear.  No "teaching to the test" or "covering subjects" in case we might be questioned.


It takes real faith and fortitude to do what the Lord tells you and not mind what others think!  I don’t mean have a "who cares?" attitude–but to firmly stay put on the path you know He wants you on.


So these musings are out of my desire to walk the path God has called us to and not let fear drive me.


Psalm 108:1  My heart is fixed on God.  Then I can purpose in my heart to not defile myself with the world’s systems (Daniel 1:8), but purpose to be pure and undefiled (Psalm 119:1), so I can have God’s wisdom (James 3:17).


Psalm 78:8, 37  To set my heart aright and remain steadfast wtih God; v.7 to set my hope in Him; v.22 believe and trust Him; vv. 52-53 He will guide me and lead me on safely.

v. 72 I feed my children with the integrity of my heart and guide them by the skillfulness of my hands (work with them!).


By believing His commandments, He teaches me good judgment and knowledge.


Proverbs 18:15  My heart gets knowledge through loving Christ first. (see also Eph. 3:17+19)


His name is a strong tower of refuge and safety!  (Pr. 18:10)


Truly the best "education" is knowing God, applying His Truth, learning to love His commands, His Word and having my children work with me.


Psalm 108:52-53  I can trust Him to guide me and lead me safely,

                                                     but first purity (James 3:17)


                                 Matthew 5:8  "Blessed are the pure in heart, 

                                               for they shall see God."


The goal is teaching them to control their thoughts, focusing them upon Christ.


"Be humble, trusting the Lord to give you wise counsel from His Word and bring you the resources you will need."  

                  ~Maridel Willer~


"The secret (of the sweet, satisfying companionship) of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its (deep, inner) meaning."  Psalm 25:14




This is what I want for my children–for them to have an intimate, living, love relationship with the Lord!  But it can only come by first having a pure heart–which He also gives.   The keys are humility and faith, and self-control in the sense of not making any provision for the flesh.  They must learn to delight themselves in Him, seeking Him in His Word as well as in prayer;  seeking His will, His companionship, in every area of life.


And the best way to teach them that is by my example!  I believe that is what Psalm 78:72 means.  I teach them, "feed" them, by the integrity of my heart.  I must be what I want them to be.  And then I guide them "by the skillfulness" of my hands.  I truly believe that is working with them, praying with them, playing with them  —in short, living life with them!  


I can’t let fears, curriculum demands, outside activities, or what others think I should be doing drive me, or I will drive my little lambs. 


I have heard that in Israel, a shepherd doesn’t "drive" his sheep.  He simply speaks a word, and they follow him.  Now, we’ve had sheep before, just four of them, and believe me, they didn’t follow us just by "speaking"!  Only if we were banging the feed can, too! 


But, neither did we spend as much time with the sheep as this shepherd obviously spent with his.  Trust built on a relationship–they knew they could trust him, and they knew his voice (I suppose that meant he talked to them a lot!  I never talked to our sheep…..)  They knew when he spoke the word and got up, they were following him to better pastures.  They didn’t need to fear because they were trained to trust his leadership.  


Of course there are rich spiritual analogies here!  


The opposite is the way other shepherds "herd" or drive their sheep.  Sometimes with dogs, sometimes just on horses, or maybe even ATVs now!    But it’s bedlam!  


Which do I want?  Well!  That’s no contest!  Of course I want the peaceful "just speak a word and they follow" kind of shepherding!


But it takes time.   Investing my life.   Speaking often so they "know" my voice.  And I bet that means keeping my voice soft and sweet, because shrill yelling gets tuned OUT!  (Besides that, it really scares the sheep!)


The wise in heart shall be called prudent:  and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning."  (Pr. 16:21)


"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones."  (Pr. 16:24)


Ah!  So that’s how I feed them—with the sweet honey of my lips, bringing sweetness and nourishment by the words I speak (Song of Solomon 4:11).   That only comes through a pure and sweet heart, nourished by the sincere "milk of the Word" (I Pet. 2:2). 


After that, my actions will flow out of a pure and sweet heart, with my only desire to glorify God, especially in leading my children to Him.  He grants the skill to my hands, and by His grace I become "God’s fingerprint, leaving His impression with my loving hands."  My love for Him will result "in beautiful works done in trust and honor to His Name." (Laine Amivizca)   And what are the most beautiful works I can do?


Building up my "home", my husband and children.  When my heart attitude is right and focused on serving them, they will feel my love as I serve Him by serving them!  My heart will be revealed by my loving deeds!


So as I work with them, whether on phonics, fractions, writing a letter, doing the dishes, making a pie or hanging out laundry–I am building relationships.   And remember–as those "Rs" of relationships are in place, then the other "3 Rs" will flow naturally out of life.


And you’ll wonder why you made it so hard!  Why you didn’t trust Him sooner!


Trust Him, beloved friend in the Lord!  He is the Good Shepherd.  He will not drive you, but gently lead you.  If it seems unfamiliar, remember He is only leading you to better pastures, and He will protect you from any true danger to your or your family’s souls.  He will feed and guide you as you feed and guide your lambs. 


Remember–you must be what you want your children to be.  Humble.  Surrendered to Him.  Totally yielded.


Just listen for His voice……and follow.


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"Don’t let another priceless moment slip through your fingers because
you are ‘too busy’.  While you have the time, take the time."
                                                            ~Crystal Paine~

The 3 Rs

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Rain is pouring outside (which we need, and I’m not going to complain–I’m not facing a major hurricane strike!), and things are a bit topsy turvy around here!  To give you a realistic picture of my life, there are two baskets heaped to overflowing of towels needing to be folded, Duplo blocks scattered all over the floor behind me, Lincoln Logs scattered in the "library" (our former dining room), books and other sundry toys are scattered in the living room, and upstairs, well, things are really a mess!  Four girls moving into rooms, lots of stuff on the stairway and landings, sweeper in the way……but it will look nice when it’s all DONE!


I really should be more diligent and get this all cleaned up….and believe me, it will!  I should take pictures….before and after.  We’re watching "The Pirates of Penzance" tonight!  They’ve seen it before, the movie version, but this is the play version performed at Central Park.   Anyway, they want to watch it REALLY badly, so guess what I will use as leverage?!


What’s on my heart is "school" themed.  After all, it’s back-to-school time (or was–school sure starts earlier and earlier!), and we have sort of "started", although not quite the way I had planned!


We are very relaxed homeschoolers.  I really don’t like using the term "unschooling" (not that I have a problem with those who use that term–I actually learn a lot from their websites/blogs!), but I sometimes don’t even like to describe myself using the term "school" at all.  For the sake of simplicity, I use it, but I like "Real Life Learning" better!  Life offers such a vast array for "curriculum", that I don’t really need to plan out a hefty academic agenda for everyone.  If I do (and I have in the past), God just gets me out of the way to show me His plans!


I have said for several years that we focus on the 3 Rs—but it’s not "readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic".  It’s "relationships, relationships, and relationships"!


The first R?   My relationship with God.  He truly must be the main reason I do anything, but especially teach my children.  If I don’t keep my focus constantly on Him, it’s too easy to let my agenda take over and then expect Him to come along and bless it for me.   (um…..guilty!   )     What is the most important thing in life?  My relationship with Him.  If I don’t have a vital, living love relationship with Jesus, then I am a "dry well" trying to impart just the "dust" to my family and those around me.   Psalm 78:72 says, "So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands."  I have to have something in my heart to feed them with!   So I want it to be overflowing with….Jesus!


The second R–my relationship with my husband.  After all, without him, I wouldn’t have these dear children to home educate!   It is just too easy for us to neglect this relationship (not purposefully, of course!) due to the many demands homemaking, child training, and child caring take–then we add homeschooling on top of it all!  I must keep my relationship with Dallas a priority.  That doesn’t mean make sure we have date nights (as much as I love them!), but make sure we make time to really talk beyond the more superficial things of our lives.  We might not have a set time to "talk" about those things, but when it comes, we take it!  And if it’s been awhile, we joke that it’s "jacuzzi time"–totally uninterrupted time!     Seriously, for me it’s even more than our "talk time"–it’s my attitude (is it to bless and encourage him?  Do all I can to make him and his home successful?  Ordering my life and our home to benefit him?), my respect towards him in how I take care of his needs and his home.   He doesn’t expect "House Beautiful" (thank goodness!), but he has certain things that are important to him.  Dusting is not high on the list.  So dusting is after the more important things!  Your husband may have a different set of items on his list of "if I can only get a few things done, what means the most to you?"   If you never thought about it, ask him.  It will free you tremendously!


This also affects our "schooling".  I am the main "teacher", if you will.  I do a lot of reading and researching about things (sometimes too much!), and share with him.  He is my sounding board, my rock, my guide.  I’ll run something by him, and watch and wait for his opinion.  My husband is a Mr. Steady, and I’ve learned how to "listen" to him.  He will not come out with the power point slide presentations and syllabus for me to take notes in!  The more I learn to "read" him and follow the direction he gives, the easier it gets.  And it’s amazing how his ideas work, even when my "common sense" wonders if he knows what he’s talking about!  It’s usually my "common sense" that doesn’t work!  Just like God–obey first, then you’ll understand!  Do I follow what my husband tells me, no matter what others might think, no matter if it seems opposite of what I think or think I know?  It has taken more than half of our 25 years of marriage for me to learn this, and I’m still learning!  When I in my pride think I’m so spiritual and know so much (true confessions here), I usually fall flat on my face!   When I humbly consider and try his suggestions–even if they don’t seem to work at first, it’s easier to go back and ask for more help than if I decided I was right and things fizzled!


The third R is…… of course, my relationship to my children.  Only after the first two Rs are in place can this one be in its rightful place as well.  If either of the other relationships are at odds, this one will soon be as well.   This is truly the heart of our home education and why I call it "Real Life Learning"–because it’s all about the relationships, not knowledge.


Isn’t our "knowledge" of God like that?  Ephesians 1:17-18:  "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."


And Ephesians 3:19:  "And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

If we know the love of Christ, not worldly knowledge, then we can be filled with God’s fullness!


Truly the most important thing I can impart to my children is a love for their Savior.  I can’t make them be saved, but I can train, point the way, guide, "salt the oats", and most importantly, model what I want them to be.  I’m not perfect!  FAR from it!  But I must be willing to be what I want them to be.


Many times I meet people who love my girls, especially the older ones, and they want their daughters to be like them.   I have started telling them that they must be what they want their daughters to be.  You have to be willing to spend the time.  You can’t be a part of this or that and run, run, run, have lots of "friends", and expect that their hearts will be turned towards family and home.  Don’t get me wrong–my daughters have many wonderful friends!  But my mantra throughout the years has been, "If you can’t get along with each other, you have no business having friends outside the family!  We’re not going to export bad behavior and attitudes to other children!"   We are "best friends".   We enjoy each other immensely.  We actually are loving this time of "quarantine" because it had made us slow down and have a good excuse to bow out of the busyness.  And even too much time with "wonderful" friends can backfire!  (That goes both ways–my children can corrupt others just as easily as others can corrupt us!) 


My personal belief, borne out of what I have seen over my 16+ years of homeschooling, is that when these "3 Rs" are in place, working as well as we imperfect beings can do, the "academic 3 Rs" will fall in place.   Oh, my children won’t know everything (neither would they if they only focused on academics 24/7), but they will know the most important things:  how to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength;  how to love their daddy and me, which will prepare them for someday loving a spouse;  how to love each other, "patiently bearing the faults of others" (Colossians 1:11), how to respond lovingly to younger siblings, being a gentle servant leader (which will prepare them to be a loving, gentle servant leading parent someday). 


All this forms a true "well-rounded" education that nothing else can or will.  I had a nice, well-rounded education, did well in the system, even becoming valedictorian of my high school class.  I had a well-rounded college education (until I quit!  ), even getting to spend my junior year abroad.  I went to a state school, an international school and a Christian college, so that makes the rounds pretty well!  BUT–none of that prepared me for the most important jobs in the world–how to be a loving, Godly, submissive and servant hearted wife; how to be a loving, selfless, serving mommy; how to manage my home, "looking well to the ways of (my) household" (Proverbs 31:27).  (And let me tell you, it is not a job "any dummy can do" that "takes no brains", nor is it a job for the faint-hearted!)


My husband and I have chosen to give our children a true well-rounded education, making them into Godly young people and someday, Lord willing (and Lord helping!), Godly spouses and parents ruling their own homes well.  THEN they can be an asset to the community and the nation.  


Academics?  Yes, they have their place, but my experience has been to give them the Most Important 3 Rs, then the basics, don’t kill their love of learning–then they can learn anything they need to, filling in any "gaps" that I leave.   Part of this character training is teaching them that it doesn’t all depend upon me creating a 4 year plan and making sure we have all the books/tests/workbooks/lab equipment/etc. to fulfill it.  It means they become responsible for their education, and they can figure out what things they need and how to get them.   They learn it faster, more passionately, and it sticks with them longer than all the "important stuff" I learned as a "well-rounded student" 25+ years ago!


The more I focus on the relationship 3 Rs, and the more I get out of the way "educationally", depending upon God (for it doesn’t "all" depend upon me, but upon me depending upon God), the more I see His hand, His leading, and the beautiful tapestry He is weaving out of our lives as we place ourselves in His hands, letting Him fulfill the plan He has for our family.


And it is truly becoming something beautiful to behold!   I didn’t do it;  God did.  My part was to yield to Him and get out of His way, letting go of my ideas to allow Him to bring about His.


I pray this blesses you, especially you "homeschooling" mommies, whether of one or many, whether of all littles or all over the age map like me.  Veterans and newbies alike, I would encourage you to focus on the true 3 Rs–well, four. 


The fourth?


Rest in God!


Blessings to you as you seek His will in your family’s journey,




He’s the Master of My Moments

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

This is a chorus from a song I wrote, based on quotes from Laine of Laine’s Letters ( www.lainesletters.com ) and that so appropriately describes my life today, and every day!


You’re the Master of my moments

The Ruler of my days;

I want to hear Your voice alone,

Please teach me Your ways.


You’re the Master of my moments

The Ruler of my days,

May my life be a constant flow

Of neverending praise.



In 17 years of homeschooling, it’s only appropriate, that, like about 14 or 15 others, this year will not start "normally"!    But, we gave up being normal a l-o-n-g time ago! 


The Richardson Real Life Experience Ranch starts their fall semester TCAU—Total Chaos As Usual!


But isn’t that the beauty of having my children at home, learning from real life as it comes vs. an artificial world that has no relevence to their lives in any way?   They truly learn more when they are motivated or we’re going through it (I highly doubt if anyone would have been interested in learning about chicken pox just for the fun of it)!


I’ve seen it work in my older daughters–they learn in spite of  "life" happening!  Or is that because of life  happening?


God is getting me out of the way again!  There is no way I can credit things to my wonderful, well-laid plans and curriculum.  Our days are truly His, and our curriculum is the life He gives us.


May we embrace it, live it to the fullest, and enjoy the adventure He’s giving us!


Is there something not going the way you planned today?  See it as coming from the hand of God, His "adventure" for you! 


Now, go and enjoy your adventure!



Let the Mother Go Out to Play!

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

That’s what Charlotte Mason said.   And I think that is the best advice ever! ; )


We mamas are often soooo busy taking care of everyone else’s needs that we put ourselves on the back burner….and that will lead to burnout faster than anything!   I’m certainly not advocating the more self-centered "let’s find a way to get away from my family", but there is definitely merit in doing a little something to keep you growing.  There is a difference between selfishly just going to do something to get away and doing something that enriches your life.  


Some things I do for myself, that also make me a better (read: nicer!) mommy:

[These are not listed in order of importance!]



Exercise.   Keeping healthy and fit, not necessarily thin.  It is a constant work to not be obsessed with a scale or tape measure.   I started a wonderful exercise program called  T-Tapp a little over a year ago.  I’ve lost inches (67 to date!), but more importantly, I’ve gained more stamina, strength, and endurance.   And clarity of mind.  Anyone knows a homeschooling mama needs all the clarity of mind she can get!!!


Blogging!   I love to journal.   But my days of sitting around writing in a pretty hardcover journal are on hold for now!!!   Besides, if I kept it all to myself, maybe I wouldn’t be a blessing to anyone until I was dead and my children published my memoirs!  (I’m really laughing at that!)  Seriously, I’ve been greatly encouraged to read of others’ lives–the ups, the downs, the funnies, the not-so-funnies–just realizing hey!  We’re all normal!  No supermom syndromes here!   I’ve not totally abandoned my hardbound journal, but it’s easier to type in something here and there at odd moments. 



Knitting.  My stress reliever!  I make mistakes (see previous blog!), I don’t knit fast, and I have too many projects going at a time, but I enjoy it!  



Going into my room, plugging in the "Christmas lights" that are still on my windows and lighting a candle.   Just the atmosphere makes it so soothing.  I will take some tea with me and often a book I’m reading or my Vintage Homekeeping Skills by Martha Greene (aka Marmee Dear).   It just makes me feel so good!



Reading books.  Not just any book.  I used to read fiction voraciously!  As reading time became more of a priceless entity, I usually am reading books about–wifing, mommying, farming, gardening, homeschooling, you get the idea-ing….       Sometimes that’s a stress reliever, sometimes…not!   So we’ll just count the ones that are!     Right now I’m reading You Can Farm by Joel Salatin.  Now, we’ve only got 2 1/4 acres, but I’m excited reading this book!   I love my local library and interlibrary loan!



Flower garden.  Okay, so right now I’m not spending too much time out there–35 degrees, and that’s the warmest it’s been here for a few weeks!  But my front door garden has evolved to a "cottage" garden look, which I love.   My dear daughters provide a lot of sweat to help out!    I would like to add more perennials and learn more about organic pest/weed control.  But hey, those weeds offer a nice object lesson about sin in our lives!



Walking.  I used to walk daily, but it’s been harder lately.  I have a nicely kept lane I walk, then it leads to a grassy area, then a farm lane back to a woods.  There used to be a nice log that fell right over a fence–just perfect to sit on!   I loved to watch the wildlife and smell the breeze.   Unfortunately the log has gone the way of nature and it not safe to sit upon anymore!   However, last time I was able to get back there, I saw another possibility!   It’s a mile walk back to this spot, and I love to pray and rest and reflect away from the hub-bub of my busy home (always have the cell phone for "just in case" emergencies–which is not "Can I have a piece of candy after lunch?"!)



Eat chocolate!   Okay, so maybe that doesn’t enrich me….then again, maybe it does!   I do eat dark chocolate!   That counts as a healthy food, right?!   (In moderation…most of the time!)



Right now, one thing I’m enjoying is getting our master bedroom and bathroom painted.  I’m working on the bathroom now (well, trying to be!).   Finding techniques and colors I like can be challenging, yet fun!   And the technique for the bathroom (a "bagging" technique of sorts) is quite stress relieving.   Slap the bag on the wall, roll it around with all you got, peel off.  Repeat!   Good exercise, too! 



Spending time with like-minded friends.  I have a few very like-minded friends who are wonderful for bouncing off ideas, sharing insights, looking at each others’ resources and just enjoying our fellowship!   It’s so nice after such a long time of being the only different homeschooler!



One of my newest things is I joined the Homemaker’s Mentor for homemaking lessons!  To be honest, I’m behind (as usual!), but I am so enjoying it.    Having two lessons a month makes it not too overwhelming.  



Lately I’ve also restarted Scripture memory.  I used to have the whole book of James memorized!  Our pastor is going through James right now, so I decided to revisit and hopefully rememorize James.  The first part is coming back quickly!   I’m not making this a stress-out venture, I’m just looking it over before going to bed and trying to quote it to myself as I go to sleep.    I also read a book by Ruth Myers, "31 Days of Prayer" before bed, so my last thoughts are of the Lord.   Too often my mind is racing with all that happened that day, all that should have happened that day, and all I think I should make happen the next day!!!  This helps me keep my thoughts centered on Him–and my sleep has been sweeter! 



I may add to this later, but these are probably the most important things I do to enrich my life, to grow me more into the woman of God I want to be.   



I’m so grateful for the Charlotte Mason homeschooling way of thinking–I modify it for my family, but I have to say the most important thing I take from it is the permission to "go out to play"–I can’t impart to my children when my heart’s well is dry!   


So I fill myself up with Him, with His nature, with activities and learning that makes me all He created me to be.



Okay, Mommies, time to get out there and "play", whatever that is for you!