"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." ~ Charlotte Mason

Friday, November 4, 2011

Home School Weekly Wrap Up : Week 10

This week started out rather oddly. Graham had an allergic reaction to something in his environment. We believe it is the mold from outside. It's been a very wet and mild November and he starts to get allergies in the fall and winter but this was quite bad! A rash covered his body from head to toe and his face swelled. We were off to the Doctor and he was put on some cortisone and an antihistamine to help clear it up. He's doing much better now but we've kept in doors and did some deep cleaning of his bedroom along with two hepa filters to keep his room dust free.

The result is that we had a lazy relaxing week. We did seat work but we did more reading then usual. I pulled out the Usborne books and scattered them about the house in strategic areas. The kids have been pouring over them, absorbed in them! I read a lot quite a bit and Heather did a ton of reading on her own. They did quite a bit of drawing/art this week. I love weeks like this where books are absorbed and the TV isn't turned on once, nor the computer or any other gadget. We don't utulize them often anyway but when our week is free and clear of them completely I feel GOOD about it!

Next week will be back to the 'normal' schedule but it was nice to take things easier when our little man wasn't feeling so well. And it was nice to be able to spend time together as a family, not having to go anywhere or do anything!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Memories Held by God

For the last few years, God has been calling me to a place where I can gain freedom from the past. It's been a slow, then accelerated process. I remember when I took my daughter in for surgery a while ago, the nurse was explaining what it was like in the hospital and she said it was best described as: "Hurry up and wait". I remember thinking at the time that it sort of feels like that sometimes with God's process but not exactly like that more like this: "Accelerate and rest". This past week I was cleaning through a box of older items but was not expecting some items from my childhood I found to be laying at the bottom. In the space of a few moments memories and emotions slammed into me with a great deal of force. Growth in my relationship with the Lord is much like this. He digs deep, asking me to trust, then brings something out so I can take a look at it, acknowledging what happened and then asking me to give it back to Him because He's redeemed me from it. Sometimes this takes a while and it feels terrible in the moment. I didn't have the greatest childhood, some have had worse happen, others not as much I realise but all the same it is painful to look back on it. I don't care to think of it at all. But it's apart of me and so deal with it I must at different times in my life. That afternoon was no exception. I stood looking at the items while my children played around me, oblivious to the emotions and memories that created turmoil in me, but I realised one very important thing: God was WITH me. I prayed, I put on Praise and Worship music and opened my Bible. When the memories or emotions come, I decided a while ago I would have a game plan so I set about it immediately. Pray, praise, read. That's my game plan, it works. :) Sometimes it takes a while to fight the battle and other times it's over in moments but always God is WITH me. I feel like the time of accelerating is the time of deep growth as I'm handing it all over to the Lord, learning to trust as I seek Him out. It's such an involved and present task. Then, after I have learned to trust more fully, to lean unto His understanding, then and only then comes the rest. Isaiah 40:31 "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint" and my life verse: Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." This time around it took a while to work through it out but God is ever faithful and He knows me. He has plans for me even now, who I minister to (whether that is my children, husband, friends, a neighbour), where I go, what I do. He knows all my past, the sin I struggle with and yet He still hears me. I'm learning to trust, more deeply, more fully, with every memory, every emotion. I'm learning to walk more in obedience and find the freedom this brings. I am reading through Ann Voskamp's book 1000 gifts for a second time and I am amazed at what I read again and how it struck a cord with me this time around. It's amazing how the Lord fits all things together, how He reveals Himself in all the moments of our lives, past and present right into the next moment. Ann said "Trauma's storm can mask the Christ, and feelings can lie. I draw all the hurting voices close and I touch their scars with a whisper: sometimes we don't fully see that in Christ, because of Christ, through Christ, He does give us all things good----until we have the perspective of years. In time, years, dust settles. In memory, ages, God emerges. Then when we look back, we see God's back." (when she says back she is referring to the time when Moses saw God's back and God safely tucked Him in the cleft with His hand). It is safe to trust the Lord with all that we were and all that were are. Learning to trust is a process: "Accelerate and rest/wait". When we let Him in to fulfill the good work we experience Him in the deepest parts of our soul.

Life since May

Lots has happened over the past few months. The most memorable has been our annual holiday up to the beach for the first three weeks in September. Our family looks forward to the hustle and bustle of life being over for three glorious weeks as we settle in to the enjoyment of being together! We make so many precious memories together: lazy days by the water, brilliant sunsets that light up the sky, cozy fires inside, brisk campfires outside with roasted hotdogs and marsh mellows, walk out in the forest and best of all - all of us enjoying each others company! This holiday was no exception. We visited the family homestead, gathered firewood from it's forest, and toured the old farm house. At the farm house we discovered relatives who wrote their signatures and the dates of they wrote them on the bricks in the old covered porch. There was one dated from 1938. It was incredibly interesting. A few months ago I read through one of my relatives diary, who lived in that house once upon a time. It was neat to read about how day to day life unfolded for the people who lived in that house. The house was occupied by tenants for the past few years but this year it stood open and we were able to take a peek inside. I walked through each room and down to the cellar to see where my relatives white washed their walls, where the wood was taken and stored, and food preserves kept. I walked through the kitchen were life teemed throughout the day, the old wood stove kept busy with breads and meals. I was struck by how huge the kitchen was and how small the bedrooms were. Life was so different back then, people didn't spend time in their rooms holed away they experienced a sense of community, working in the kitchen together, in the fields. My Grandma entered into the world in the main bedroom upstairs and there she lived and breathed, working along side her siblings. A school teacher stayed with them and taught them, my Grandma ran through the rooms, played and worked, she had a life, she had thoughts, she LIVED. I've had some opportunity to do research about that side of the family in the past few months. They came from London, England and settled that land together as a family. They went through hardships, death, loss, they saw the work of their hands come together as the land grew and teemed with the work of their labour. They are not just names on the paper of my family tree, these were some amazing people who came to an unknown country, knew not what lay ahead but pushed forward to settle a land and make a life for themselves. It was neat to tell my children about this, to have them walk the land, play in it's fields, brush their fingers across the signatures of the generations that came before them. That was one of the best parts of my holiday this year. :)

We also had friends join us the second week of our holiday. It was an amazing time of togetherness and memories made. We toured some falls, played in the sand with little care for time, ate meals together and sat around a campfire at night laughing and joking.

This is one of the best years we have had up there and I am thankful for the moments that were found inside of each of those days!

Problems with my blog account

I've had some problems with my blog account for the last several months and this is the first time I've been able to get on it. My husband was able to help me fix it. There was something about having two conflicting accounts but anyway, it's all ironed out now!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

History Story Boards

Well, I have yet to figure out how to post pictures and I keep forgetting how to ask DH about it. :) The story boards are going amazingly well. The kids have taken the squares and divided them up into quarters so they can draw more pictures of the history chapter we're doing. They absolutely love it. It's turned out to be an excellent tool for engaging them/connecting them to the history they are learning. We're nearly at the end of the first book of American History and will just continue on with both front and back of the history board. I will have DH show me how to post pictures this week because I am excited to show their boards. I think when we are through with them, I will either take the pictures and have them developed to keep in their history folders or cut them up to put them in a binder in some mac tack or clear binder pages. Or maybe I'll do both! :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Story Boards for History

We've been working our way through some workbooks on American History. The chapters aren't bad in terms of the reading, short but alive with description and interesting information. At the end of the chapter there are a lot of questions and my children have been bored to death trying to get through them. They just weren't absorbing the information. So I got an idea to come at it in a different way. I got some bristol board from the Dollar Store and divided it up into 24 squares. When we are done reading the chapter the kids take one square and sketch the details of the chapter. It has been amazing to watch them pull out of the chapter what to sketch. They have actually been dividing their squares into quarters and putting various scenes in them. Then they sit around and chat about what they did. It has been a fantastic way to get the information to 'stick' for them. Much better then the questions at the back or any test I could give them. When I say to them "Get your story boards!" , they go running for them they are so excited about it. They'll often put themselves in the shoes of the characters and write in bubbles about their heads what they're thinking. I see them connecting with the history we are reading about, it's coming alive for them, and I am so happy to have the tool of narration for history, science and geography. I'll post some pictures of their first story board once they are finished the first work book.

I should also mention that after they were done with their story boards and they were put away, the kids made up a play with two acts about Christopher Columbus and Americus. It was great! :)

Moments of Beauty in the Ordinary

I have been taking the challenge of writing out a thousand gifts seriously this week. Once I set my mind to something I just do it. I think God has been preparing my heart for this. I've been challenged over the past little while to 'live in the moment', accepting that God's mercies are new every day, His grace is sufficient - always, and not to worry about tomorrow. And I've been more content lately - but this continual thanksgiving is something entirely different. I feel like I've entered into a different sphere of prayer and praise. I find myself searching for the blessings the day brings, expecting it and finding it. I've been reaching for my journal often, sometimes it's difficult and I struggle to find the gratitude but when I find it, I am so pleased that I took the time to grasp it. My kids have been watching me curiously as I do it. The last couple of days, when they see me writing in it, they gather around me to ask what I'm thankful for. I've been reading some of it to them, not all because some of it is just between me and the Lord. I have found as I read it I will sometimes feel tears pricking the backs of my eyes, not normal for me to be given to tears. I'm truly thankful. My kids have also been writing out their thankful lists - 7 per day, it's starting to move beyond the typical Mom, Dad, the dog etc. to their lists being more specific. I am working my way to 1000, and I really have discovered already that it is impossible to feel joy and negative feelings at the same time. I've discovering that when I am searching for the blessings and gifts in my life, I really can't miss them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Thousand Gifts

As I mentioned in my last post, Ann Voskamp's challenge to us about giving thanks every day has affected me deeply. I feel changed. The Lord had been speaking to me about being thankful for a while now, so when I heard Ann's message I knew the Holy Spirit was using her message as a confirmation that He wants me to give thanks each and every day. I had purchased a journal a few weeks ago, it's beautiful and I wasn't sure what I wanted to put in it. As I read A Thousand Gifts I decided to use the journal to write out my thousand gifts. Over the past few days I've written down the things I am thankful for and I feel my heart swelling as I talk to my Saviour about all the blessings in my life. I've never been an overly negative person but what I didn't realise was how much I was missing out on the small moments of praise with my Lord. I'm learning to talk to Him in a different way and a few times have been overcome with joy as I seek out that which holds wonder and gratitude throughout my day.

I also realise that you can experience a 'high' after a weekend such as the one I just had and it's easy to feel motivated but what I love is that by doing the Thousand Gifts - keeping my list each day, I'm allowing the Lord to work through what He has spoken to me about. I hope to teach my children by example and love how to give thanks in their life for the gifts the Lord gives us.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A beautiful Weekend

For the first time, since having my firstborn ten years ago I was able to steal away by myself for an overnight with some lovely women to attend the annual Kitchener Waterloo Homeschool Conference. I've been away on day trips but never for an over night. I confess I was conflicted, sad to leave but feeling joyful to have some fellowship and to have myself 'fed' in this journey our family is on. While there, I had an amazing dinner out filled with laughter and a sense of togetherness with the women I am so blessed to know and walk beside. We later giggled in our hotel room chatting about anything from parenting, childhood, marriage, to our relationships with Christ. This time was golden. The conference itself was incredible. I hadn't planned to spend more then $60, and I didn't! I had fun looking through the venders to get ideas of what I'd like to do for Canadian History. The seminars I attended were nothing short of an example of how the Lord moves when He sends a clear message you need to pay attention to. Today, I am amazed. The first one was called Charlotte Mason in Real Life. I am, for all intents and purposes, a CM educator. I believe God has called me to home school our children and in doing so, provide them with strong spiritual guidance that will prayerfully order their steps. The most significant gem I took from that particular seminar is that CM in not about the curriculum, rather it is a philosophy, a way of living that ignites a child's love of learning in an atmosphere of security and growth. Our children are capable of great thought and deep understanding, even at an early age. What I desperately want is to impart the passion that learning should never be confined within four walls but that it should be something one does each day of their life to the fullest. The second seminar I sat through was Ann Voskamp's. It was a late start as the power point wasn't working at first and she answered questions at the beginning. As she answered the questions I could feel the Holy Spirit moving, preparing hearts for the message Ann would eventually give. This is difficult to describe, if you were not there. But as she spoke, she talked about all the endless deeds we as mothers do, the sweat and tears, the moments of doubt, fear and failure as you seek to rear your children in an environment that for all intents and purposes runs contrary to the secular paradigm of education. As she eloquently spoke the list in short sequences she ended with "I know - I do too." A reality that connected her audience to her and her audience to one another. How do we then find joy in the journey of Homeschooling? Her answer was startling simplistic but the truth of it, was like an arrow piercing to the deepest part of my soul. Many of us cried and felt the touch of our Saviour as Ann's message reached our hearts. The answer: gratitude - found in each of the moments of our life, in the midst of the chaos. The ability, the discipline to find gratitude in all the feelings that consume us in the moment, to teach our children that in those moments we can choose God's grace over the feelings that draw us away from Him. Ann said it so well: "It's impossible to feel gratitude and negative feelings at the same time." As I learn this discipline of gratitude, not only do I embrace this for myself but it is the gift I offer my children. They see that my relationship with the Lord, my creator, is real, as He works on me to the inner most parts of my soul. It is that gift I give them, my legacy of love, hope and grace that will remain when I pass from this world. So today I begin the journey of gratitude, as I embrace it for myself, I pray that in the most complex moments of life, in the dark times where failure looms and I feel the walls closing in - I will choose gratitude and thanksgiving. As one of my children challenge me, with a bad attitude or fight, I will say: "Thank you Lord, for this child(ren) - your gift to me, to teach and love, instantly I am gentled, reminded of His love and grace for me, one of His children. And finally the verses Ann reminded us of at her seminar Philippians 4:8 "Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy -- meditate on these things."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Flying Car

I saw this on a friends blog and decided to post it on mine as well. It has a couple of interesting things. A flying car for one! Steve Saint is the man in the video talking about his flying car, which is very cool. Steve Saint is also the son of Nate Saint, if you are familiar with the Jim Elliot and Nate Saint story you will understand the significance of that. :) I've read both stories to my children form the Christian Hero's Then and Now Series.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Letter of the Law vrs the Spirit of the Law

I am reading through Beth Moore's Bible Study Breaking Free with a group of women. Last week I was challenged with thoughts on Legalistic attitudes/behaviours. It is somewhat easy to hang your faith on the law. What does the Bible say - what should I do? While this is important and we should be reading our Bible to correctly divide the truth it is not the only substance of our faith. It can be easy to 'follow the law' but not have a firm foundational faith that is alive, on fire and working in our hearts. Legalism abounds when we take the law and judge our works upon it, allowing pride to take root and grow like an insidious weed. Like the Pharisees our faith can be in trouble when we use the law to show how 'good' we are at outwardly keeping it and even adding to it our *own* long list of good deeds, activities and acts of service. In so doing, we have made an idol of the law rather then allowing God to build upon the spirit of the law. What is the spirit of the law? Well, our chief corner stone is Jesus, and He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He calls us to personal intimacy and to live of life of obedience to Him. This doesn't just mean we follow a set of rules, it means a broken and contrite heart. It means times of testing and refinement, when God roots out sin in our life, chastens us and brings us to a deeper understanding that we need Him to make us clean. It means understanding and accepting that we keep the law in our hearts when we are broken before Him, acknowledging that we need our creator to make us whole. The race is not for the weary, and to be honest I find it a struggle and there are days when I long for the Lord to come back so I don't struggle with my sin and baggage. But I realise more and more that this is where the Lord wants me - to be leaning on His strength so He can be made perfect in my weakness. There are days that I fail miserably, allowing my thoughts, tongue or an attitude of judgement to take root. And the thing is - I know it when it is happening. I ignore the Holy Spirit's strict warnings to flee from sin, ignore the promise that He will not suffer me to tempted beyond what I am able, ignoring the promise that He will always provide me a way out of my sin. He chastens because He loves me, his daughter, and I am called according to His purpose. There are many promises He gives that, I, in my arrogance, choose not to embrace, rather taking solace in my 'deeds' (the outward appearance of the law). What a lie to hold on to! Like Paul I acknowledge the struggle - I do not do what I know I should and do what I do not want to do! Yet, when I do what He wants me to do, not only because I know it is right, but because my heart is broken - Jesus restores and continues to make me whole. There is great peace in this, even while He chastens, the peace is there for me to embrace. His word is there for me to count on. His blood there to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. The race is hard, granted, painful but it is the heritage my Saviour has given me and as difficult as it is, as many times as I will fail - I choose to embrace this heritage, accepting that I have to live in the moments He gives me each day and thanking Him that when I fail in the moments, His mercy and grace for the next moment is enough.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This past week

I started my detox diet this week, it's going well. I started out with a liquid diet for five days and have now added vegetables and fruits back for the next five days. I'm starting to feel so much better. I had suspected that I could quite possibly have some issues with gluten like Graham. This was a sure fire way to get off foods I may be allergic to or sensitive to. The first couple of days were rough, I was craving coffee and sugar the most. BUT I felt so much better by day 4. I had been feeling like I had arthritis in my knees and was alarmed because I am only 36 years old! By day 2 the symptoms were much better and by day 4 they were completely gone. I've been taking care to get more rest and have reduced my responsibilities and stress levels. I have also stopped having familial tremors for the time being. :) I'll be adding an exercise routine in to my life at some point in the next few weeks but I'd like to loose a bit more weight before I do that. All in all I am feeling better about how things are unfolding. I hope to be feeling stronger, physically, so I can have enough energy to bike ride and play with my kids. I like to be outdoors with them come spring and summer. We enjoy nature walks, bike riding, swimming, taking walks - all that good stuff but I was feeling sluggish, not rested and stressed out, I have a feeling the spring will see a more rested, energetic me! :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Familial Tremors

I've been having what is known as Familial Tremors which is an inherited condition in which primarily the hands/head/eyes involuntarily tremor. It is not life threatening nor is it Parkinson's Disease but it's been upsetting me because I feel like I am getting older then I'm suppose to be. My Mom, Aunt, Grandpa and Great Grandma had them starting around their 50's. By the end of my Great Grandma's life she had them quite bad (but she was 90!). They're very slight right now and often affect my left hand especially when I'm holding something like my iphone, Kindle or coffee mug. The things that are suppose to make it better are: to reduce my stress level, cut out caffeine, increase physical exercise, and get more sleep. So I've decided to make some changes in my life to concentrate on my health and my family. I've gained some weight, more then is usual for me but we suspect that is from my issues with my gall bladder. I was barely eating anything when I was in so much pain yet I was gaining weight. We think it was because my body went into starvation mode and packed on the pounds from what I could eat. :( I'm hoping that after I have taken care of all this my health will improve and I'll feel better with more energy to do the things I need to.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year Focus - the Word for the New Year is: HONOUR

I haven't posted for a while, we've been quite busy the last couple of months but I'll be posting more now with the New Year.

I thought I'd post something we've decided to do for the new year. We've chosen a word to focus on throughout this new year (a little like a New Year's resolution). The word for our family to focus on in the next few months is: HONOUR. In addition to our first fruits we'll be learning all we can about honour. We've designated an Honour wall in which we'll put everything we can about honour - verses, words that have to do with honour, sayings about honour, acts of honour - written, coloured, drawn - ANYTHING really, so long as it's about honour. :) I'm not a hurry, we have the next coming months to learn about it, practice it and encourage our family to honour each other.

I'll be taking resources from the National Center for Biblical Parenting http://www.biblicalparenting.org/ to help me find creative ways to teach this essential concept throughout the year. I also found this book we'll read through this coming year as well:

My hope is to be able to blog about our experience as well. Just thought I'd share what our focus for the new year is! :)