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I am the Gate-Keeper

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When our children were in their infancy and toddler years, I held the strong conviction of keeping the children at home much of the time. This was, in part, because they were sixteen-months apart and I did all I could to get through each day (and night) as a happy, thriving mother. At the same time, I also believed deeply in the early, quiet growing years where children – like little seedlings – could put down their roots and start life safe in their nest.

Life has changed since then. We are starting our fourth year of homeschooling and we live in a different city with no family nearby. Our son is passionate about rugby and we spent every Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning last winter out in the cold helping him follow his heart. Our daughter is a lover of people – and I mean that in it’s truest sense, she loves people. She needs to have people in her life.

So, with an almost 8-year-old and a 6.5-year-old we spend more time outside the home than we did in those first few years. However, my conviction about the importance of staying home in childhood has not decreased, it has in fact, deepend even more. The challenge for me now, as their mother, is to deliberately and carefully safeguard our home life.

I am the gatekeeper of our life. I need to discern well what comes into our home life as well as why we leave it’s safety.

At times through their childhood thus far, I have often felt that I was holding back the dam of the world and it’s values. Busyness, parenting styles, media, twaddle, pressures, surface relationships, status quo… Cracks have appeared when I haven’t been strong enough or when I haven’t been paying attention. Thankfully, the Lord helped me see when too much of the dam was starting to get through. And He always helped me repair the cracks through prayer, new habits, and changing directions (like our new season of homeschooling).

It’s a constant responsibility and the nature of defending the dam/gate changes as the children grow and change. Now that both children can read, I’m guarding what they do or do not read. Now they have more opportunities for outside activities, I am helping guide their choices about what will best suit our whole family life. Are they mature enough for this movie? Can I trust them with this responsibility? What children will be in that activity?

There are no blanket rules on these issues (in general). Each family will accept different activities and different books and different friends. Discernment, wisdom, and prayer guide us as we gate-keep our family life.

And this doesn’t just hold true for our children, either. We need to be the gate-keepers of our own lives also. We must hold on to the true priorities God has called us to in this season – our husbands, our children, our homes, and our churches. If we say yes to this opportunity, am I saying no to my children? Will my husband suffer in some way if I say yes?

Elisabeth Elliot is a mentor of mine. God brought her across my path in the early years of our marriage and her thoughts on Biblical Womanhood have shaped me deeply, especially her book Let Me Be a Woman. In her book The Glad Surrender (which is about personal discipline), this quote about our time – and therefore, our priorities – has always stayed with me:

If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”

Elisabeth Elliot, The Glad Surrender

As we search the Scriptures, we can see clearly the will of God for a woman who is married and with children: our family and our home. It is His will that we be immersed and busy with this. Anything else that we hope to do ought to be carefully checked over at the gate. We are home-keepers.

This is not a popular thought today. And sadly, even within church communities women are pressured or are tempted to let in too much. For me personally, the only thing I am committed to outside of our family is helping with our local homeschooling community. That is enough for this season of my life. I have done more, and less, since becoming a wife and mother.

We must keep that idea of seasons in our hearts, too, as that is a God-given truth. This season of marriage and motherhood demands a certain amount, ordained by the Lord. This is good. Let us submit to this season and wholeheartedly stand watch, discern, check, and keep over the precious lives God has given us. There is no more important role than this.

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Only Settle For Peace in Your Homeschool.

I am learning, in this motherhood and home education journey, that there is no one ‘right way’. It is tempting, with our sense of responsibility and awe for our role as stewards of God’s children, to keep looking for the ‘best’ – the best books, the best methodology, the best curriculum, the best schedule, the best discipline practice, the best fill-in-the-blanks. Sometimes it almost feels like an obessession, the constant looking and changing things up, fueled by that desire for the best – or by comparison and fear.

We’ve had a hard few weeks here and, though it is in part from developemental leaps in our children (think, big feelings!), I have realised that I have been a big contributor to that tension. Instead of being my children’s mother and faciliator in their learning, over the last months I have become a task master. Unknowingly, I have allowed words from people, images around the net, doubts about how we do things, and the good things that others are doing to create a fire of doubt and fear within me. Worried, dissatisfied, a bit frenetic – I try and make our homeschool something different, even though it’s been working amazingly.

I feel like we’re not Charlotte Mason enough. I feel like we need to do systematic history that the Classicals encourage. I feel like we need a more rigorous schedule. I feel like we need… But when I try and implement such things into our routine, it’s like fitting in a wrong puzzle piece. But I keep trying, and keep pushing, and keep attempting to make what isn’t us, us.

Yet I have not really sought God’s wisdom and will for us, or nailed down details with my husband. And I don’t consult the children because I know what they will say! No, instead, from niggly insecure thoughts and fear, I keep dragging our kids down this path of finding the ‘best’. So the tension builds, and we keep fighting, until there is just no peace in our home. Raised voices, squabbles, tears, frustrations, and clashes. And my relationship with my children, especially my eldest, is fraught and a bit broken, and none of us feel good at all.

Why do I do this? Why do I lift my eyes from the plough and look back? Why do I become like Peter who questions Jesus and His plans for another disciple, to which Jesus replies, “What is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22).

In one of my favourite homeschooling books, A Little Way Homeschooling (which is about Catholic unschooling, though I am Protestant), Suzie Andres says:

“Whatever it is [how you homeschool, what curriculum you use], you will recognize it by the peace it brings to you and your children. Do not settle for anything less.”

Peace. It is very clear to me what brings peace to our homeschool and what doesn’t. When we do what works for us, there is joy, and fruit, and co-operation, and hope. Being together is just the best. Even on the hard days, those kind of days are just blips. Peace, on the whole, still reigns.

Yet, sometimes I become crazy, and I am afraid of peace. It feels too easy. And, if it is easy, something must be wrong. I therefore start my comparison and looking around, thinking that I am doing something wrong, because things feel right. But, what foolish thinking! Why does everything have to be hard, to be right?

So, after another one of my crazy times and injection of chaos into our home, I’m raising my hands and repenting once again of my folly. God knows what is good and right for us and I need to keep my eyes on Him, and nothing else. Then, that perfect peace we get when our eyes are fixed on Him, returns and all is right again in our home.

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Homeschooling Should Be a Joy

The more I live this life of homeschooling, the more I believe that home education ought to be a joy. By joy, I mean, delight – that is, a high degree of “gratification or pleasure” (Webster-Dictionary).

Is your home education with your children gratifying? Do you all experience pleasure in your days?

Now, in my belief that home education ought to be a joy, I don’t mean that there is an absence of hard work. I think, for the most part in life, joy is a product of work. We work for thankfulness, we work to see goodness, and we work to appreciate what we have. It is rare for joy to be continually present in our life with no conscious effort on our part. So, those hard days (or weeks, or months, or years) with our children does not negate the opportunity for our homeschooling life to be joyful.

Joy, also, is also a fruit of the Spirit. As we abide in Jesus – not just as a mother, but as a family – and we put on joy (and love, and patience etc.), the experience and feelings of delight flow from the Spirit’s cultivation in us. Martin Lloyd-Jones, in his book Spiritual Depression, essentially says that being a miserable Christian is an oxymoron. It must surely be contrary for a Christian family, who deeply believe in Christ and the Gospel, not to be a generally joyful family.

Despite these truths, so many home educating Christian mothers – and their children – are lackluster in joy. Coming together to learn is fraught, tears abound, people drag their feet, and sending children off to school is a genuine consideration. Why does this happen? Certainly, in only three years, I have definitely been there. Our first year was difficult, which is how we ended up in more of an unschooling way of learning. But seasons change, and we are a more delight-directed family now, which to us, is a nice mix of child- and parent-led learning. Yet, I still can succumb to the lack-of-joy state. Here is why I think it is easy for us mother’s to get to that place.

You’ve Lost Your Vision

Why are you home educating? What led you to this lifestyle?

The Lord led us to home education through different ways and for different reasons, but I remember a specific answer to prayer in the Word that was as clear as day what God wanted for us. So, God is the reason why we are homeschooling. And, over time, He has laid in my heart a passion for giving the children a slow, unhurried childhood full of good literature, nature, play, rabbit trails, and family time.

But I have already lost my way at times.

Sometimes, through hard seasons or difficulties with our children, we can lose sight of our end hope for our children. The daily living can block that passion God first placed in our hearts. Comparing our home or our children or our curriculum to another family (whether homeschooling or not) can choke out convictions and cast doubt on our decision to home educate. We need to be careful to keep that flame of vision burning as well as eternity in view when we feel cold.

Prayer, the Word, journaling, and reading good home education books can help you burn brightly again. I always recommend Sally Clarkson for encouragement.

A Method Trumps Your Children

I think this is such a common struggle, at least, that has been my experience. There is a wealth of information and opinions out in the world around homeschooling and learning in general, it can be overwhelming. A particular method (or more!) may really appeal to us and we try to implement (or un-implement) it with our children.

For some reason or other, it all falls to custard. But we keep trying because it’s beautiful, or enriching, or promises success, or makes us as the educator feel like we are doing a good job. Our children, however, are drowning or rebelling or withdrawing, and our relationship with them suffers.

Friends, method of homeschooling actually doesn’t matter. At least, how you follow a method doesn’t matter, especially if you are trying to follow it to the letter of the law. And that is the problem – the method becomes a law. Even unschooling, which promotes freedom, can become a yoke if we lose our sights on our children and what they actually need.

We need to remember that there is no one “right” way to homeschool our children. We need to find what suits us as mothers and what suits our children. Joy will certainly follow if the method is where it needs to be, a method, not a law.

You See Your Children As a Burden

I think all mothers go through periods of time where everything just becomes too much and we begin to view our children as hard, or difficult, or a burden. Parts of their character that used to make us smile now makes us irritated. The noise grates on us. The mess overwhelms us. We feel an increasing feeling of suffocation.

These are all warning signs that something is out of whack. Mother-Friend, you need to run to Jesus and spend some time in prayer, the Word, and a good book that encourages you, refreshes you, convicts you, and helps you get your thinking in the right place. Children, and all that comes with them, are a blessing. If we’ve lost our joy toward our children, it is a sign of sickness within our own hearts.

All these may be blockages to joy in your homeschooling life. Again, a joyful homeschool is not an absence of hard or difficult days or seasons of pain. Joy is something deeper than that.

Joy is a surety, a hope in eternal truths, that bubbles delight, praise, and pleasure in our hearts in this calling, this role, this privilege. And home educating our children is a privilege. It is something we can do with this one life we have with the certainty that we are doing something meaningful and worthy of our time, our energy, our younger years, our bodies, and our hearts.

I’m praying if you have lost your joy, that something in this entry has sparked hope again, and causes you to run to Jesus and seek how He can restore it in you today.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Unschool

This post contains affiliate links.

This post is directed to Christian unschoolers but I hope it will be an encouragement to all who read it.

When the Lord led me to unschooling, I was so afraid. In fact, I was more afraid of this than even homeschooling itself (which had seemed crazy when I had first thought of it).

Unschooling just seemed so…risky. What about math? Did it mean gaming all the time? Did I have any say as a parent? What if…?

The feeling I had, waiting to obey the Lord, was like I was standing on the edge of a bridge, ready to bungee-jump off, and I was absolutely freaking out. Even though I know the rope will keep me safe, it is the fear that is overwhelming and preventing me from taking the plunge, as I stand high above the river and rocks below.

It is fear, isn’t it, that keeps us from willingly follow the Lord.

So, if you are sensing the Lord leading you to unschooling with your children, let me encourage you not to follow fear and be kept back from unschooling with these three points.

1. God has got them.

It was Sally Clarkson and Edith Schaeffer that first helped me realise that my children were not, in fact, mine. Both their books The Mission of Motherhood and What is a Family? respectively, were what confirmed homeschooling as the right direction for us as a family. A huge part of that confirmation was God pressing upon my heart how precious are these children and how much He loves them.

He loves them because they are His. He made them for Himself.

Julie Polanco, in her book Godschooling, also confirmed this by pointing out that God knows their future, not us, and therefore, He knows what they need to know and love as they are growing and learning. So let Him lead their interests, passions, and curiosities.

I can only see this in my own life. As I look back, I can see how God directed me to books, friends, places, movies, and many other things that cultivated interests and passions in my life that direct me to this very day.

We can trust God with our children.

2. You will be a better mother.

Now, I am NOT saying mothers who do not unschool are bad mothers – at all. This post is directed to mothers who, like me, have sensed God leading their children into an unschooling life – but it is scary. Unschooling is not the only way to educate children. I absolutely believe that.

Just like our children, God has got us, as their mothers. He knows what we need to be amazing mothers for the children He has given us.

When I release my fear to God and trust Him with the children’s learning, He opens my eyes so wide to them. Their joy and their love and their interests fill me with love and joy and interest. I really look into my children and enjoy them. I am a free, at rest mother.

God knows that I need this unschooling life just as much as my children because He knows, when I ask him, “Lord, please help me love my children” this is His answer to me.

3. He is trustworthy.

It really all comes back down to that. It’s simple. Trust God.

We hate being so finite – we want to know what the future holds for our children. If we knew, we could let go and not stress so much.

We also hear the criticisms of others – well-meaning, or not – and we doubt. Even if we have had clear guidance from God in Scripture that this is the way to go, as well as from those we trust, we still doubt. It’s like the serpent in the Garden, “Did God really say?”

But, God promises to give us wisdom and guidance and understanding if we ask Him. He is the only one who does know the future. We can rest in His providence.

And, we can trust Him that, as we go along the unschooling journey, if He wants to change our direction to something more formal or traditional, He will lead us. We just have to keep in-step with the Spirit, listen, and obey.

So…

…if He has been leading you to this way of education, trust God with your children. And, just do it – unschool. You’ll be absolutely amazed by what God has in store for your children, for you, and your whole family life.

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Encouraging Podcasts for Christian Women

Podcasts are such blessings for Christian wives and mothers today. Sometimes we just don’t have time to sit down and spend a good chunk of time reading a good book and journaling about it. But, through the gift of technology, God has raised up some wonderful women who have one purpose: to encourage us in our walks with the Lord and to serve our families with our whole hearts.

There are so many podcasts out there. But there are a handful that I return to, even listening to episodes from years back, because they continually encourage and equip me. If I’m washing the dishes, painting the stairwell, or having a rest during our daily ‘quiet hour’, listening to these podcasts have fed my soul.

Here are my five favourite podcasts for Christian women!

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Thankful Homemaker

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Ah, Marcie is a true Titus 2 mentor. I love listening to her podcasts immensely. The Lord has used several of hers, especially about Self-Discipline in the Home, to really convict and edify me in my role as wife and mother. She has the wisdom, the grace, and the love of living a seasoned life. This is my go-to podcast.

At Home With Sally

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Sally Clarkson has been influential in my walk as a mother. It is through her that the Lord spoke to the desires of my heart of being a whole-hearted mother. It is through her that He planted the idea of homeschooling. Now, seven years into motherhood, Sally continues to encourage me and speak to my heart. Sally calls us higher and that is something I am so thankful for.

Confidently Called

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Jennifer has had a couple of uears break with her podcast (and I think blogging too), but there are still so many gems there that her podcast just keeps on feeding! However, she has recently released two new episodes and they are fantastic – especiallu the one about Home with guest speaker, Jen. I also loved the one with Amy Roberts about creating anchors in our homeschool days.

Raising Arrows

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Speaking of Amy Roberts, I just love her grace and wisdom. There are so many pressures today for us to just have it together. Do you feel that too? With put together pictures on blogs, or stunning images on IG – there are unspoken messages everywhere for women to just be perfect. I have gone off IG for that very reason. But Amy? She is a mother of a lrage family and she knows that life is not perfect. Yet, she encourages us to just keep moving forward. I love that about her. She is like a warm hug!

Risen Motherhood

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This is one of the most popular podcasts out there for Christian mothers – and I know why! It’s Christ-centred, Word-rooted, and plain od’ encouraging. I haven’t listened to tonnes of episodes, because they tend to be slightly longer, but the ones I have listened to have been just such a blessing. A recent interview with Jani Ortlund (her book Fearlessly Feminine is one of my favourites) was just so rich and heart-warming. They have a book too, and many resources for your walk with Christ.

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 So here they were! Have you listened to any of them? Do you have any suggestions?

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worship encompasses all of me

“Our devotion results in a conscious yielding of every part of our personality, every ambition, every relationship, and every hope to Him. Submission to God’s will is the true heart of worship.” ~ Barbara Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Woman

Have you ever found that you have lost your way before the Lord?

It comes on slowly, I believe. Sometimes it stems from struggles, from trials, or from big life events that suck us into the pressing needs of the moment. Sometimes it comes over time, the flower has lost it’s bloom, the fire it’s spark.

I have forgotten that, to worship my God, it encompasses all of me. Sometimes I think that one area of my life can be hidden from Him, or I tell myself that it doesn’t matter if I am slack in this way because in other ways I am doing my best. Sometimes I think that worship is just when I read my Bible, or sing a song, or pray.

But no. The Bible is clear that, when Christ fulfilled the Old Testament sacrificial system, worshiping God no longer was contained in one place, by one animal. Worshipping our God and Creator requires all of my life.

Let All That I Do

Have you drifted away from this truth? Have you held back parts of your life that you believe don’t come under His rule?

Friend, like me, we need to submit all of our life to our Father. All that we have is from Him and, because we were bought with a price, our sacrifice of thankfulness and gratitude is pouring out our own lives to Him.

How I eat needs to be worship. (This is a big one for me.)

How I spend my time needs to be worship.

How I wash the dishes, smooth out the bedspreads, pull up the weeds, wipe away the soap marks in the shower all need to be worship.

How I homeschool the children needs to be worship.

How I respond to my husband and be a pillar to him needs to be worship.

Even what I watch or read or listen to needs to be worship.

“Every single time I confess my self-reliance and submit my life to God’s will in a particular area, I am worshiping God – as surely as any sincere Israelite offering a lamb in obedience to God’s plan.” ~ Barbara Hughes

The worship of our God and our Saviour must encompass all of us. There can be no place for stubbornness, self-reliance, self-delusion, or ignoring of truth. It is hard to face sometimes, in moments it may feel impossible. But true worship to our true God is a whole life, whole body, whole spirit sacrifice and service.

Let us start this new week, humbling our hearts before Him, confessing our self-reliance or the hidden things (that are not so hidden to Him), and submit all of ourselves once again to Him.

Let us truly, and deeply, and consciously worship God in our daily life, offering all that we do with thankful hearts and willing hands.

 

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remember: education is life, and life is education

This week I have seen several articles in national newspapers about schools being in lockdown and how people/parents are worrying that their children’s education is going to be stunted. There was even a live Q & A with a principal  where parents could get help with all their concerns with lack of schooling. Thankfully, the principal was wonderful and essentially said ‘Relax’ over and over again. But, I couldn’t finish reading the session because I started to feel frustrated and sad.

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The overall theme of parent’s concern was this: ‘How is my child going to learn enough when they aren’t in school?’

It is one of the fallacies of our age that people believe that a human can only be educated in school. I believed this too, until I felt drawn to homeschooling, and I began to see that education is far bigger, broader, richer, and more beautiful than most schools can offer. Through the writings of John Holt, I was able to see that children are learning all the time and hunger for it, as their stomach hungers for food. Yet, it is the very practices of school that stunt this joy and desire.

Our eyes are blind to the fact that schools are production lines. As adults, my husband and I are still stripping away the tangled mess in our minds over what constitutes work and learning and worthwhile pursuits. As we are raising our children, we see our own schooling upbringings coming out in how we speak and act and what we require of our children. By God’s grace, the scales are slowly falling away and we are able to be different.

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The second concern I saw in the Q & A was this: ‘I am just their parent, I am not qualified to teach my child’.

This saddens me all the more. Mothers literally give their children life, yet we can’t guide them into the wonderful world of reading or numbers or art or physics or, well, the world? Somewhere in the last one hundred years, parents have fallen for the notion that only professionals can teach. We’ve become less confident in our ability and our position, and defer many things to those who apparently know better.

But some of us know better. At least, we know what is better for our own individual families. We see that education is not always found in a classroom. In fact, we can look back at our own schooling years and wonder if any educating happened at all? So we’ve decided to do something different with our own children. We want them to pursue life to its fullest which, in essence, is education.

 

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If you look through some of my blog, you will see that we tend towards Christian unschooling, which essentially means interest-led learning. For us, we are fully alive as a family as we gently embrace life and learning, intertwined and inseparable. I can see how they are thriving and it brings me, as their mother, joy as I guide them, provide them with opportunities they love. It is such a privilege and honour.

Through this Coronavirus, I am hoping and praying that families would realise that they can teach their children and that home life is a rich environment for learning. I pray they gain confidence in their position as parents and enjoy being with them. I really pray the western world wakes up to what they have been missing.

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Birdsong on the Bad Days (+ Printable)

So far, our family have been enjoying our lockdown life. I am surprised how happy the children are and that they don’t seem to be missing their friends. Of course, they have their moments, but there has been a settled spirit in them. I think our daily routine of lessons have helped this immensely, as well as having a general routine for each day. Oh, how precious routines are! I realise now the importance of them, more than ever before. And it is something I am pondering during this time, hoping to have a plan for when lockdown lifts, how to keep this precious routine going.

Yet, we had one particularly rough day this week. It was one of those days when one or two of the family just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and it was a challenge to say the least. I spend much of the day in prayer, asking the Lord for help because I myself, was feeling particularly weak. I am so grateful that His power is made perfect in my weakness, and that I am free to give of myself, not counting the cost.

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One of the many steep streets we walked down (then up!)

It has been our routine to go for an hour’s walk from about 3pm each day. This day, however, I decided to take Josiah for a walk just on his own, knowing that he needed that special on-on-one time with Mama.

It was a glorious Autumn afternoon. The sun was warm, there was no wind, and the birds were out in their song. We were delighted to hear and see a native Tui which, usually, is found only in forests and bush. The new city we live in, Dunedin, has quite a lot of native bush within it, and so it is actually quite common for Tui to be seen. It was the first time in my life.

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Autumn colours everywhere.

As we walked down hill, through streets and bush, we chatted and discovered and listened. Both of us felt the peace of birdsong: these beautiful creatures that do what God made them to do – to be birds and sing for His glory. Their precious trust and simplicity always speak to me, and as we walked, I was just thankful for their audible praise.

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We saw the beautiful dark Tui with the white tuft.

The walk and birdsong restored our boy and he was much more settled afterward. Nature has always been, in particular, a balm to his soul. And on this day, it was the exact medicine he needed – as well as that special attention from his Mama.

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How hard and precious Motherhood is. It is crushing and stripping, but soul lifting and rich in joy. And there is something about the relationship between a mother and son that is unique and fragile. There is such a balance between closeness and space. I am so grateful this is all in His hands.

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A historic house of Dunedin.

The love of nature that my son has always reminds me of Wendell Berry’s poem which resonates with all who feel called into the wild. I have designed two printable pages for you of his poem ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ . I hope his words echo to you in this season as they have for many.

Click on the image to downloadwildthingsprintable1-page-001

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Monthly Unschooling Highlights: January

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I receive a small profit. Thank you!
We have had an amazing start to the year, albeit a bit rocky with some of the building work going on around here. Living in a construction zone definitely adds layers to our days with noise, contractors, Mummy heading outside to help Dad etc. But, it is a blessing in the long run for the children, and we believe that God is using this to shape their character (as well as ours, obviously!).

So in between all the renovation work, here are some wonderful highlights from this month in January from a Christian unschooling family!

 

+ Family Visiting: Both my brother and Father visited over Christmas and into the New Year. Some friend’s let them stay at their house on their farm to look after the house while they were away, so we were at the farm daily. Around this time the Australian bush fires were at their worst, and strange yellow clouds hung heavy in the sky all the way here in New Zealand. This created some good conversations and lots of prayer for Australia. There was also a lot of Pokémon card playing with their Uncle!
Later in January, my Mother visited also. Rosalie went with her to see Frozen 2 (the second time!) and we enjoyed visiting thrift stores and the beach. It was wonderful to spend time with her as we had not really been able to have a proper goodbye when we left Christchurch.
+ Otago Settlers Museum: The children had been wanting to visit this place since we arrived. Josiah has been so interested in the age of all the amazing historic buildings around the city, memorising which ones were the oldest. We were so impressed with this museum and I think our favourite room was the Gallery Room which held paintings and pictures of many of the early settlers. Josiah was fascinated with them.
+ Warm weather finally arrived and we have been to lots of beaches and enjoying our new natural home. Sometimes we have met up with other families, or we have just gone by ourselves. We’ve spotted creatures we’ve never seen before (shrimp!) and just enjoyed God’s amazing world.
+ Homeschool Group: After Christmas break, our group is starting up again. We mostly meet on Fridays for sport and play, but this year I hope to start a nature/outdoors group from mid-February.
+ Meeting the Otago Highlanders: Rugby has been such a massive part of Josiah’s unschooling over the last six months, so when we came across the 2020 Highlanders squad signing autographs we jumped straight into line! It was a dream come true! My Mama-heart was very thankful to the Lord for providing such a surprise for us and for filling Josiah’s boy-heart with happiness. It makes learning come even more alive.
+ Big Cats: Anything to do with lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards – anything Big Cats! I can’t remember how this began, but he has been reading many books about them and absorbing lots of facts and new ideas. We’ve watched a couple of BBC documentaries about cheetahs and jaguars, as well as some Wild Kratt videos. Josiah has read quite a few National Geographic Kids books and magazines, too.
+ Rosalie has been doing lots of art. This is not unusual but I have intentionally sought out art and craft books from the library, and we have had fun trying out new ways of doing art. I think our favourite has been using pastel and watercolour together. And we have enjoyed doing some craft activities, too.
+ Magic Treehouse Books: We have read about six MTH books this month. The kids have devoured them! And the adventures have often tied in with interests we have been looking into (eg. Sunset of the Sabertooth) and sparked new interests (eg. Afternoon on the Amazon). We love how short they are so our read aloud feels really attainable.

 

Of course, there have been so many other things that we have done, read, talked about, and seen. Much of life is not “documentable” and yet, is very much meaningful and all part of education. I love seeing all that we have lived in only one month and makes me thankful that our children are living such a full and joyous life!

What did you and your children enjoy this month?

Uncategorized

Having a Vision For Motherhood

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Have you ever thought about having a vision for your mothering? If you feel like you are floundering in your days with your children, and you feel lost in your role, I would love to encourage you to cultivate a mission in your heart as a mother.

 

“The more clearly you can define your vision for your children, and the more specific your plan for carrying out that vision, the more confident you will become at the daily process of building your home.” ~ Sally Clarkson, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart

I remember holding my week-old son, rocking in his bedroom, trying to get him to sleep. Finally I was a mother, but, despair filled my heart. Was this really motherhood? It was so mundane and repetative and, well, hard. The sunny ideals that I had unknowingly cultivated in my heart for so many years were not at all like reality.
Yet, my ideals were not misplaced. Coming from a broken home, God had created in me a deep desire for motherhood and marriage for His glory. Motherhood is a beautiful and incredible ministry for His kingdom here on earth. I was so thankful for my son (and then, daughter!), but I didn’t know how to mother.
By His grace, I discovered Sally Clarkson.
When I got my hands on The Mission of Motherhood, my heart was filled with joy and relief: here was a woman who wrote all that I believed about motherhood and showed me how! And, the first thing her book encouraged me to do was, not just to believe in the mission and ministry of motherhood, but to have a clear vision of its’ worth and meaning.
Sally says,

 

“If your plan is based on clear biblical principles, you won’t be easily swayed by the conflicting voices of other opinions that will try to convince you that you are not doing it right. And if you are secure in your vision and plan, your children will be more secure because of your confidence.”

So, how to we create a clear vision and plan?

Ultimately, God will cultivate a passion for motherhood as you seek Him in His Word. Have you ever gone to the Bible and studied some of the many passages that speak about or image mothering? Here are a few of my favourites:

 

“He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who have young.” ~ Isaiah 40:11
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am convinced is in you as well.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:5
“But Mary stored up all these things in her heart.” ~ Luke 2:19

 

These verses, and so many more, have built up in my heart the conviction that being a mother to the children God has given me is the primary calling, under being a wife to Tim, in this season of my life. Obviously, I will always be a mother but I will not always be needed as much as I am now. The hearts and minds of these two precious ones have been given to me to steward, and to no-one else.
When I realise the vital importance of this task and, especially that they are not mine, but His, then the vision God has for them becomes the vision for me as their mother.

 

“So, start with a good plan. Know where you want to go with your family, and what you want our children to become, and start building. That’s how God planned it.” ~ Sally

If you need encouragement and guidance from a beautiful mother who has walked this path before us, I so recommend starting with Sally’s book The Mission of Motherhood. It is just amazing!