Favorite ♥ Moments #7 Captivated

For a few years now, Pete and I have been praying over and selecting a word for the year for our family and homeschooling.

There is nothing magical about picking a word as a focus for the year. It can have as much or as little emphasis as a family is willing to give it. I find that if I set my mind and heart on something, I am continually coming back to a foundation of something the Lord is showing me or wants to show me. It helps me say no to those things that would detract from our emphasis, whether or not they are good things. This is why prayer goes into the selecting of a word and focus for our family. It will help us determine what we do in the coming year.

The kids are REALLY ready to get started on their projects

 

As we prayed over the past month in preparation for 2018, Abba kept bringing us back to the concept of being captivated by Him. Our schedule alone in this season is enough to make anyone dizzy. Just about every single task we are committed to doing is important and necessary for some reason or another so it remains vital that we stay connected and “distracted” by the beauty of the Lord. Our hearts as we walk through this temporary time of being “productive busy” is that we would continually come back to our Life source, our enjoyment, our motivation, our charisma, our very living and being. The heart behind the word captivated is one of pure delight in the thoughts of God and His work through us. It is meant to emphasize a continual heart connection despite having a season of lots of working out in the fields at tasks He has laid out for us to do. It is meant to help us focus on those times when He draws us away to Himself, never letting those heart strings be broken between us and Him. It is to lay aside those things that do NOT satisfy, being ever increasingly dissatisfied with anything that causes us to forget our captivation with Him. We have cut out many superfluous activities as every hour has become precious to us now that we have a very full schedule. Being captivated will be a reminder to fill the down-time hours with activities that truly are refreshing to the spirit and/or enable us to live as better vessels for His purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we discussed the meaning of the word captivated as a family this morning, Noah narrowed it down beautifully. “Captivated means paying attention to the thing that matters.”

We spent some time as a family creating a vision collage/board with each person contributing his/her own unique talent and interpretations for what captivated will mean individually in the coming year.

 

Favorite ♥ Moments #6 A year of abundant life

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

This past year’s school theme was “hungering and thirsting for righteousness.” I had absolutely no idea when we penned those words at the start of the year just how deeply God was going to dig in my heart. This year has seen a new hunger birthed in me such as has never existed in this belly before. In an effort to put off the things of the flesh, I have found myself surprisingly successful in finding many areas that I had previously not even considered turning over to Christ’s lordship, and it appears daily as if He wants to press even further! I asked the Lord for a new appetite to replace old ones, and He gave it to me in more ways than I could have imagined. I asked Him to fill me with a hunger for His Word. I purposed to find myself at the end of 2014 with a greater desire for the things of God and less of a love for the things of the world. With the painful humility that comes from deep trial and unexpected searching, I can say with full assurance that I have met my goal. I know this is but a beginning, the tiniest scratch of an endless surface.

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This year will be our sixth year homeschooling. On one hand, it doesn’t seem that long to me and at the same time it feels like we’ve been at this “home learning” thing for an eternity already. I remember the very first box of books I received from Sonlight when Jaelah was 3. I carefully arranged each colorful tome on a tiny shelf in our living room. All of our homeschool materials put together took up less than 18 inches of space on my bookshelf. How things change! And how much the newness can seem to fade as well. As the years fly by, I’m finding that faithfulness is the hardest attitude to maintain because it requires the heart to be riding high above the sloshing waves of emotion, disappointment, or being affected by the more mundane parts of school days. My eyes must be on the goal of not only seeing my children through this season of learning, but ultimately on how my life is pleasing to the Lord. My personal verse for this year is Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” It’s easy to be beset by distractions and feel as if my life is not reaching as far as I want it to be, especially when all the hard work involved with preparing lesson plans and teaching appears to be unappreciated by my little ones. But when I remember how seriously God takes child-training, my purpose is renewed. I need to constantly recall the need to have my eyes on the One above. He sees every tiny detail from an eternal vantage point.

We are seeking the abundant life promised by Jesus for our family this year. It springboards off hungering and thirsting for righteousness. When we truly know that only He satisfies, we are experiencing abundant life. Before this year, I would often find myself rolling my eyes when anyone would say that Jesus is all you need to be truly content. It really does sound ridiculous in a culture that pursues hedonistic pleasure above all else – and these trends reach far into the church as well. But I think sometimes we have to jump in and dare ourselves to see if we can take Jesus at His word. Pete and I have been setting aside more and more of the things that we once thought would feed our spirits and finding that the Lord more than makes up for the “sacrifice.” Now that we’ve gotten rid of so many time-wasters, we have discovered that the desire for distraction and “vegging” is not nearly as strong as it used to be. That’s abundant life! How much He has to share with us, and how much of His presence do we have yet to experience!

A tradition that is quickly becoming beloved around here is the end-of-year-start-of-year family celebration dinner where Daddy hands out diplomas and achievement certificates. Those proud smiles simply can’t be faked.

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First Day of School 2014

IMG_2591I love starting the school year in January. It seems like we are all so fresh for a new start, even though it’s not technically the beginning of the Jewish new year (which happens during Yom Teruah). Right in the middle of the cold, dark months, it’s the perfect time to break out the new books and pencils for the new year. My kids are all very excited to start.

We recently thought it would add an element of richness to our school year if we had a theme for the year. It’s easy to make a list of goals and New Year’s resolutions that end up falling by the wayside after a few weeks of concerted effort. This is different. We wanted to think of something that we really desire for ourselves and our children in the coming year. This idea will be on the forefront of our minds, and we will do our best to incorporate it into decisions we make, prayers we pray over the kids and our marriage, and Scriptural studies and journaling that we do all year long. Then, at the end of 2014, we will have (hopefully) compiled some amazing insights that have greatly enabled our growth in the Lord. After some prayer and discussion, we have determined that our theme for this school year will be “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6

We have seen plenty of wickedness, heartache, war, suffering, and discord all around our world in 2013. It has served to remind me that I don’t ever want to let down my guard down when it comes to fighting for my children’s souls. They will be offered counterfeit “food” for their hearts everywhere they look, and as they get older and see even more what the world has to offer it becomes even more critical for us to endeavor to impart a hunger and thirst for the pure and fully-satisfying righteousness that only comes through Him. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is not a pursuit that involves our own will and abilities, for those will always fail (though we do have to ultimately make a choice to obey). It’s not about trying to be good and want better things for our souls; it’s about trusting and utterly depending on Yeshua having completed His work once and for all and offering to give us that righteousness for free. We only have to hunger and thirst for it, which is no easy task in a culture submerged in distractions. This year, I want to hunger for His righteousness more than ever before. Let not the soulish pastimes, the TV shows, the books, the worthless pursuits and time-wasters take over my heart when He desires my full attention. Let me seek the best more than the good – seek HIS righteousness first before filling myself with anything else. Put in my children, Lord, a deeper desire for the things of You. Let them feel distinctly the dissatisfaction of what the world offers them and draw their attention to Your deepest-satisfying nature.

To this end, we are working on memorizing Scripture that has to do with Yeshua’s atonement this year. His centrality cannot be emphasized enough. Already, we have begun the work of memorizing Isaiah 53 as a family. What a wonderful passage of the Bible this is, and what a way to start out our year, meditating on just how devastating a price was paid for our righteousness in Him.

I love taking group shots for the first day of school. This one captures the joy that we all felt this morning as we ate breakfast and prepared to take on our day. Sometimes I catch myself looking twice at pictures of my whole brood because it seems like there are just SO many kids. The other day they were walking into a store with Pete and I totally did a double-take, thinking “are those ALL mine?” I hope never to lose the incredulous feeling that comes with being chosen by God to mother these beautiful babies. The more I know I can’t do it…and that is happening more and more frequently these days…the more I know that HE CAN. And that includes teaching long division.

Favorite ♥ Moments #5 Preschool Highlights

I didn’t know how being intentional with preschool would progress this year, but I’m so glad I’ve given it my all. Hosannah and Noah are much more patient and obedient when they’ve been given some one-on-one time with me at the start of the day. Our school room is so small that we’ve had to expand out to the dining room table again, which actually works nicely with the older girls doing their independent work in the relative quiet of the schoolroom. At the table, I can go back and forth between Chavah and the twins while teaching.

It’s been a lot of fun using several educational items from Learning Resources to supplement the twins’ preschool. I continually underestimate the fun of manipulatives and the hands-on learning they encourage. They beg me to do the “fruit pie” and the “soups” to reinforce the letters and numbers they are learning.  My goal as we move through the year is to simply get them as familiar with the concepts of counting, colors, shapes, and letter-recognition as possible so we start off kindy on a really solid foundation. They are learning letter sounds when we learn each letter, but that isn’t my primary focus yet. So far, I’m impressed at how they are able to focus a bit longer each week.  To supplement their understanding of numbers, Pete is taking them through Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning books for 3 and 4 year olds.  I can’t tell which they love more – time with Dad “doing school” or the fun math pages.  It doesn’t really matter because they are learning!

As much fun as I’m having with preschool, I am consistently reminded of how difficult it is to homeschool any number of children (let alone 5) with a small, nursing baby in the house. I knew it would be challenging, but it is taking all my grit, tenacity, and perseverance (pun intended) to get through each week having met all of our goals. While the kids have seen me get stressed out on multiple occasions, I think it’s a very healthy part of life for them to see how adults handle difficult seasons.  The kids are learning that it’s not all about them. If we are right in the middle of a complicated math problem and the baby has a blowout, we’ve got to stop and address that. When they are reading aloud their history notes and she’s screaming to be fed, we have to interrupt and get her settled before moving along. I’m learning an awful lot about how to be calm in the storm.  While we have our frustrating times, it’s also a blast to have a sweet little baby cooing in the background. One day we were diagramming sentences and Jaelah was getting frustrated to the point of tears as we slogged through, and just at the right moment Kezzi blew a huge, loud raspberry. We all started laughing and it completely diffused the irritation. I’ve found that if the girls are needing a break from their school work, I can hand the baby to them for a few minutes and it works wonders in their attitudes. Playing with her for a brief recess helps them tackle their next assignments with gusto. It’s important to learn life lessons right alongside educational ones. As a family, we are developing the patience required to deal with interruptions and also how to value those times that are quiet and useful for when we really need to focus. It’s all about prioritizing.  Ketziah has just gotten to the point where she is able to work in her “office” while we do some preschool. The most difficult juggling part of this season is slowly moving behind us, thank the Lord.

Favorite ♥ Moments #4 My Dream of Lincoln

Some moments are so wonderful as a homeschooling mother.  I woke up on this Mother’s Day to receive a paper from my 7 year old.  She wrote this after waking up from a dream last night, and Pete and I thought it was entertaining and dramatic, if from a 3rd grader’s perspective.  I left all the spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors exactly as they were written.  I must say that I am very proud that she has been retaining all the work we’ve been doing on using quotations and commas properly in sentences.  And many American adults, including myself, misspell ‘traveled’ on a regular basis, so kudos to my baby for paying attention during her All About Spelling lessons.

My Dream of Lincoln
Last night, I had a dream that was scary and frightening.
I’m going to tell you what it was like to be in it because I was in it.
It was our first day of school when suddenly a mail man came rushing in the door!  He said, “There is going to be a battle at this house so leave!”  And he ran out the door to go tell other people of London.  Soon the battle began, but a man would always be dead when I ran past them.  Bam!  I was shot in the leg badly.  I took another girl into the tunnel under the bed.  As soon as it ended we creaped out the door and traveled for miles and miles until we came to a tower.  We climbed to the first window and found seven men dressed in cloaks that were black.  Then they took the cloaks off and one of them was Abraham Lincoln!  I was so thrilled to see him again!  He told us were we could have a place to sleep.  And when we were there we saw black-skinned people that were happy and free!  So we greeted them and found some food for us to eat beans and cabbage, sugar cakes, and melons.  Then we heard bad, bad, bad news!  It said:  Whoever we find we will kill and Hang Man they shall be called!  We were so frightened to hear it!  “What can we do?”  I asked Abraham Lincoln.  “Well how about we put cloth cloaks on the windows of every house and lock them on the window frames and do some nails to go and keep them on,” he said happily.  And so we did it and it worked and I was healed.  The End.

Well done, baby girl.  I’m so happy that you like to write and express what’s in your heart.  I hope you always treasure in your heart God’s desire to abolish slavery both then and now.