Sunday, May 03, 2015

Dawn & Heather Read Together: Own Your Life (Chapter 4)

"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:21)

For the Christian, this verse is the goal of our lives. We want to hear our Lord tell us He is pleased with us & that we can rest forever with Him. Do we think we are some kind of special people? Well, yes... BUT not because of us! Oh, no! We are special, we are loved and our Lord is pleased with us because His Son lived a perfect life so He could die for our sins. Christ then arose & lives because death had no power over Him! Our hope, our faith is built on Jesus Christ alone- without Him, we are but dust. Through Christ, we are His children, His beloved. Oh, how glorious!

"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you, by miracles, wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know- Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it." (Acts 1:22-24)

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom & prudence." (Ephesians 1:7)

"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." (Ephesians 2:19)

In chapter 4, Clarkson challenges us to live with the end in mind. To be told we were faithful means we have to actually be faithful. Today. Right where I'm at. Ouch. Honestly, I often fail at being faithful. I do it all the time with lots of lofty excuses: I'm busy. I'm tired. So-and-so can do it better. I'm scared. I might fail. Hm. None of those excuses seem that lofty.

Here's one more really lame excuse: my life is too boring to do anything really good. I can't even believe I've thought that but I have. There have been days when mundaneness of motherhood left me wondering what the point was. Oh, shame on me! I'm serious- I feel utter disgust that I've ever thought like this. I'm nurturing the lives of little souls for His kingdom! I'm helping my husband fulfill his calling before the Lord. Why would my eyes ever look for more? Oh, Lord forgive me! AND I'm not living in a vacuum- I meet & encounter so many people who I could reach out to!!! I love Clarkson's quote here:

"Jesus has chosen you to be a picture of Him to your world too. He loved you so you could share His love with everyone you meet. He forgave you so that you could extend grace to those who need to experience the forgiveness of a real, flesh-covered person. He lavished your world with beauty so you could reflect His beauty to those in your life." (pg. 49)

Dear mama of littles, your world may simply be your children & husband for this season. Be at peace. Dig in & get to work! God sees your work & He is pleased when you are offering these sacrifices. Sally encourages the reader to pray & ask God to direct your vision. What does He want you to do? Where can you serve Him? I bet there's ways where you and your littles together can show Christ to someone else! But if all you can manage is to wipe noses and bottoms and feed your brood, then THIS is the vision He has for you. And don't worry, this season will wax into another. :)

Maybe you're not a mama or not one of littles but you still make excuses. Just like me, we need to turn to His Word & ask God to shape our thoughts after His. Then find one way to be Christ to someone else. Then find another. Keep going!

But wait a minute. Didn't I just share how Christ is the reason we are saved? So why all the emphasis on being faithful, obedience & serving? Why not just focus on His love? You see, we (you, ME!) obey because we are saved and not the other way around. Our culture doesn't want anything to do with authority & many in the church do not want to be perceived as earning their salvation (because we can't), so we make light of obedience. But salvation doesn't leave us dead (and that's what we are unless He saves us)! God gives His children His Spirit, His Word & His church to equip us to LIVE!

"If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever... I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:15-16 & 18)

It's such a balance- knowing we are saved because of Christ's work alone + pouring our lives out in service + seeking His guidance through prayer & diligent study of His Word + resting in His will. We need God's help to know how to balance it all!

Be sure to check out Dawn's thoughts on chapter 4 here! And we'd love to hear your own thoughts.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Project 365: April 2015

Another month completed- yeah! :) No selfies this month, though I got in a very bad iPhone picture on my birthday. No group shot either. Sigh. If you want to improve your photography, I can't recommend this project more! Plus, you'll capture so many fun memories. My photo book of last year's project arrived this month & everyone has spent hours pouring over it. :)

You can follow my Project 365 by visiting the tab above (I share my settings also) + you can see other people's projects by clicking the button at the top f the page. I'd love to hear of your projects! My other calendar spreads from this year's project 365 are here: January, FebruaryMarch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A few of Katherine

These were the last images I took with my D7100. Just loved the window light streaming into her room, though you can tell she wasn't amused to be my subject. (Don't mess with this girl's nap times!) I can't decide if I prefer the b&w or color so I shared a bit of both:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Birthday, Matthias! (plus a few pictures of the girls)

Yesterday, Matthias turned 11! :) We celebrated Saturday night with my parents & brother: Of course, I forgot to get a picture of Matthias with them. :/ Legos were the theme (specifically Star Wars this year, though none of the children have seen the movies) & we enjoyed this yummy recipe for apple crisp.

The boys enjoyed bike riding with Eric Sunday evening while I let the girls play at the park. Phew! It was busy & I only attempted a few pictures of the girls when they had 5 minutes alone in the little toy house:

Happy birthday, Matthias! We love you & praise God for granting you another year of health. We pray your love for God will continue to grow this year.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dawn & Heather Read Together: Own Your Life (Chapter 3)

This chapter discussed identifying those negative voices from within, our past, the culture, & other people so that we can learn to listen to one Voice. The one that matters. Ah, we all know those negative voices well. I've already shared some of my own struggles. I loved how Elizabeth Elliot puts it: "You are loved with an everlasting love and under that love is everlasting arms." I hear ya (me) saying "But, but..." STOP IT! Meditate on God's Word, which is truth:

"There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus... For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1a & 2)

"In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7)

"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." (2 Corinthians 1:20)

I got to thinking about WHY we listen to those voices instead of the One that only matters. I think it goes back to a point Clarkson made in chapter 2- we need to know & embrace theology so it can shape our thoughts & behavior. We need to soak it in! Memorize it! Repeat it to ourselves! We have to "cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself agains the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

My favorite quote from the chapter was this one: "You have an ability to sparkle as you are in ways that no one will ever be able to match." (pg. 33) I'm going to embroider this for the girl's room! :) (I'd do it for the boys but the word "sparkle" wouldn't go over well.)

As Clarkson shared some of her struggles from childhood, it really got me thinking about how I relate to my own children. Am I building them up in the Lord? Am I coming alongside that struggling, difficult child and loving on them? Do they know they are not alone or that I do not judge them? Do they know that even on our worst days, my love isn't any less? Am I pointing my children to Christ to find their worth? Am I smiling more than I'm frowning?

Oh, Lord, help this (often mess of) daughter of the Great King help your little ones!

Be sure to check out Dawn's thoughts here!

Educational Report: Catching up on March & April 2015

Hm. My last report was from the week of February 15th just before our first break. We ended up taking 2 weeks off to finish out February. :) I'm not sure why I haven't kept up with these reports. We did battle the flu for three weeks in March- wow, that was TOUGH! Lessons kept plugging along but not at their normal level.

Again, I know it goes without saying but just in case someone gets the wrong idea... educating is so much more than the curriculum we use! We use it us to aid us in our teaching but math isn't taught by doing x number of pages. I write these reports mainly for us- it fun & helpful to look back & see what we've covered in the year. But I also write them to share with you all- I know I've always benefited for seeing how others home educate.

Let's play some catch up, though it will not be as detailed as weekly reports.

Covenant Classes: co-op continues to be a highlight of the children's week. Jonathan & Elizabeth's geography class has continued their studies. Patricia has been busy with her literature class. She completed studying Canterbury Tales  and Macbeth and is continuing to study parts of Paradise Lost. She's done A LOT of writing, including a research paper that blew Eric and I away. Her gift for writing has bloomed with this class! Patricia has also memorized & recited several pieces. Benjamin & Matthias have completed chapter 22-26 in their Primer B Latin books, as well as taking unit 6 test. They spent a fews reviewing & it has really helped their understanding. :) For Bible, Patricia's class has been studying Always Ready & a course syllabus put together by our Pastor called "The Defense of the Christian Religion." The other children have studied about God's promise of forgiveness and peace, as well as His promise of fruitfulness through Jesus Christ. They've memorized Isaiah 53,  Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 1:7 & 1 John 1:8-2:2. They are currently memorizing John 15:1-11. Jonathan & Elizabeth are a bit behind in their memory work but they'll catch up, even if we have to finish when classes end in May!

Memory Work: Bible memory has been the focus (it's been a lot!) but we did jump back with both feet with our regular meeting time this week. Of course, I forgot to blog about it. :/ I'll try to do that next week!

Abigail: she's still got a few letter sounds to learn but we've been working on a bit of Phonics Pathways- adding the m & s sounds to all the short vowel letters. She loves to write & often copies Elizabeth & Jonathan's copywork all on her own. Too funny! She practices spelling her name with me. We continue to plug along Essential Math Book A, with lots of hands on activities to enforce the concepts. She counts to 50 easily but doesn't recognize all those numbers yet. I've begun to read aloud to the little girls (Elizabeth, Abigail & Emily) just before bed at nights (not every night but almost). We finished Milly-Molly-Mandy (again- it's a favorite) and began The Secret Garden. It's a favorite time of the day for them & me! :)

Art & Music: I'm expecting to teach an art class next year at co-op & I'm THRILLED because any kind of formal lessons are not happening. A friend has offered to get together once a month so hopefully I can get that organized. For now, art happens in real life:

We missed piano lessons with our teacher the entire month of March due to flu but we kept up practicing (mostly). The children had a recital at the beginning of April:

History: we eased up on the fast pace we were moving through our Gileskirk American Culture studies, which is MORE than history but it just works to put it in this category. :) We've listened to lectures on the following men: Clay, Calhoun & Webster. We also listened to lectures on the indian wars & the trial of tears,  manifest destiny / regionalism, chattel slavery & fire breathers, which covered those who were on both sides of the extreme of the War Between the States. Lots of reading & journal writing. They finished reading American Short Anthology and began Confidence Man. So far, they've memorized three of the Bill of Rights.

For the younger set (Matthias, Jonathan & Elizabeth + all the other littles), we studied about Lafayette and the battles at Bennington, Brandywine & Saratoga. We read some of George Washington's World, though not enough. They all finished reading several book independently but I do not have the list in front of me to share the titles. I do remember that The Swamp Fox of the Revolution was a favorite of several of them. :)

Language Arts: okay this is probably the section I dread catching up a report on the most. We cover so much in this category! So... I'm not going to play catch up. :) We've done it throughly- it's one of those things that can happen mostly independently so it's easy to keep going when sickness (THREE STRAIGHT WEEKS OF FLU, people!) hit us. Writing took on the form of copyworb & narrations so I'm hoping to dive into more writing starting next week. (Patricia of course has done plenty of writing!) We did begin something new with the older three children: Fix-It! Grammar: the Nose Tree. (I had an older version from IEW but switched it out with the updated one.) They love learning grammar this way & it's effective to have them search for mistakes & identify parts of speech. LOVE! (This level is far too easy for Patricia so I'm having her move through it super fast.)

Latin: Patricia completed Latin Alive Book 1!!! So proud of her diligence in this area. I wish she could study with the co-op but she doesn't fit into any of the schedules. She has also finished two chapters in Latin Alive Book 2.  I already shared what the boys have covered. They began chapter 27 about the third declension this Thursday.

Logic: This week, Eric had Patricia and Benjamin begin Argument Builder again because he hadn't consistently kept up with it. So this week they (re)covered chapters 1-2.

Math: another area I dread catching up a report on. It got done. Not as consistently due to illness but when I couldn't teach, drill practice happened on their own. :)

Science: Patricia & Benjamin finished their General Science book. Yahoo! They begin Physical Science next week. The other children finished their Human Body book and began Planet Earth.

Phew. That was a lot. The only other thing to add is that this week, Matthias completed standardized testing. It's not the kind of assessment we care about (think Andrew Kern here) but it's required every three years in the state of Georgia so we check the box.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Peanut Butter is Messy Business

Especially when Emily is eating it! ;)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

An Evening at the Park

Last Sunday evening, we enjoyed some time at the local park in-between the rain. It's been constant for over a week, so we are all hoping for some sun soon. This little girl finds me a flower (or weed) every time she goes outside:

Georgia has beautiful parks & trials and we always enjoy "hiking."

Hmm... maybe I want to ride...

She decided against it- it's more fun to run after everyone (but she was easily distracted by anyone who went by, often following them for a time):


A little time of swinging before the rain started:

Notice her pearls. She was pretty excited to wear them.