Thursday, February 21, 2013

Our Homeschooling Journey: Part 1

Way back and long ago when the girls were still very small, I presented a crazy notion to my husband, "What do you think about homeschooling?" To which he let me know he didn't think a lot about it and the issue was closed for some time.

Then I had our son and once again I brought up the crazy, freaky idea of home educating our progeny. But this time I presented it with much more gusto, increased passion, and the hard to ignore statement, "You either trust me in my ability to educate them or you don't."

So with that manipulative declaration, we pulled our oldest out of a church preschool and I began to scour the Internet and homeschooling catalogs for curriculum. The church we were attending at the time was full of large homeschooling families so advice and encouragement was bountiful. And interestingly I found out quickly that our homeschooling lifestyle would in no way mirror any other. Something that many homeschooling moms/dads struggle with as we do tend to compare the progress and ability of our children to others.

Of course I had objectives as I had not totally turned my back on my Early Childhood/Elementary Education training. And now that the husband was on board and his natural inclination to co-teach was shining through, we began to sort our way through our own educational philosophy as to how we should teach our children as well as what we should teach. I also would like to add here that my husband forgave me for the manipulative ultimatum early on and is fully on board with the decision we now jointly make in home educating. He's an awesome math tutor, field trip organizer, history teacher, and all-around substitute teacher, and more!

Our first and most important objective was (and still is) that our children grow up in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Scripture abounds with exhorting the parents to seek the Lord first in parenting and instruction for the child.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

And you shall teach them your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Deut. 11:19

God's Word plainly commands the parent to teach their children His Word. My husband and I strive to make our home as Word-friendly as possible. By that I mean that we have seen the importance of Bible memorization as early as the child can quote scripture to be paramount. Tim taught the verse John 3:16 to each child and they were able to quote it by age three. The girls were very active in the Awana program at the church we attended. And Bible devotions and teaching has always been the norm in our home. We believe the Christian should now about their faith, the history of God's people, our wonderful heritage, and how it all interconnects so miraculously and beautifully! It is my desire that God's Word be desired, studied, and consumed like bread by our children.

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

I must add a disclaimer here. Our journey,...our homeschooling in no way an indictment upon the public school system or to cast judgement upon others. These are our convictions, this is our family, and we are dutifully about what we believe to be God's leading.

Several years ago I heard a wise and trusted homeschooling mother of twelve speak about their journey and how the Lord had directed her to the scripture when challenged by family, friends, and strangers regarding their homeschooling choices. She quoted from the book of Nehemiah as he was instrumental in the rebuilding and reestablishment of Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. following the Babylonian exile.
The scripture she quoted was Nehemiah 6:1-4.

Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.
But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”
Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.

She then made the point that Nehemiah had a mission from God and related that back to our mission as parents. She encouraged by saying don't let the naysayers and those that are critical of what God has laid before you bring you down from your wall. I've remembered those words many times as what we do isn't easy and most of the time is very unpopular and questioned.
But when I look into my children's faces and realize they are my mission field at this season of my life, I am encouraged and strengthened knowing I'm about God's will and purposes for us and His kingdom!

Some of the early resources we used regarding Biblical and character training for our children were:

Awana (Scripture Memorization)

Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarkson

Charlotte Mason Companion

I'll post more later on the curriculum we've used, what has worked for us and what hasn't, homeschooling co-ops, and that misapplied word, "socialization."

Blessings to you and yours as you love, serve, worship, and obey our Lord Jesus Christ! Julie


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tough Lessons Learned

Back in Mid-January, my husband bought 25 broiler chickens for my son to raise as a 4H project. He will show two chicks at the spring county livestock show in two weeks.

A couple of days ago we came home from visiting a friend to find dead and dying chicks all over the yard and around the chicken tractor they were being kept in. Our three dogs had dug in under the chicken tractor and proceeded to kill whatever they could catch. It was traumatic for my son as he saw the dying chicks suffering from wounds that couldn't be healed.

We were able to save six chicks and of those six only three seem to be healthy and without bite marks. It was a learning experience for all of us and it has made us look a bit differently at our dogs.
No, we don't love them less, we just understand more fully that they are animals and sometimes instinct drives them instead of trained behavior.

Strangely, the dogs have never bothered the free-ranging chickens in the past. That they purposely went for these is a mystery to me.

Once our remaining broilers have been shown and then processed humanely for our consumption, I'll prefer to remember them as they are pictured in the top two photos. The first picture showing them in all their fluffy innocence and the second picture showing a five-day-old chick that my daughter put to sleep by rubbing it's belly.

And for those that think farm living is idyllic, I must interject that farm living is hard work, you have to deal with hard truths, and many times things don't turn out as you had planned and purposed. Early morning feedings in the cold and rain make you question why you do it. And coming home to a yard full of wasteful devastation that makes your children cry and ask, "Why?!" , can make you think twice about the choices you've made. And yet we will still move forward in all this animal craziness knowing the risks are there and the emotions are invested whether we like it or not.

Moving Forward, Julie

Monday, February 11, 2013

This World Is Not My Home

I'm reminded daily that this world is not my home and the energy that I exhaust in trying to find comfort in it is futile. The barbs make themselves known more sharply when we endeavor to live above mediocrity and conform to Christ instead ...of this world. But I must remember that just as my Savior laid down His life for me, I am called to do the same. Remembering:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. ~ Rom. 12:2 ~
Blessings, Julie

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Before & After

The girls and I started decoupaging this window frame last year and finished it up this past fall.
But we couldn't figure out what to do with it.
And we wanted to try and sell it at a craft fair in December.
Back in October I posted this photo on facebook and asked for advice on how we could finish it. Quite a few friends gave their advice and it was so helpful! We decided to put chicken wire on the back of the frame for earrings to hang or to post notes! We then put crystal knobs and ceramics knobs on it for necklaces, belts, and/or scarves. There is also a shelf for rings and bracelets.
We were not able to sell it at the craft fair. But that's alright because its now hanging in my bedroom and I'm utilizing it!
And just to update here, my girls and I are no longer involved in crafting to sell items. Our plate was too full and it was one item that could be removed to give us a little more flexibility in our schedule.
We made some great memories though...and I hope to keep painting now that I've gotten back into it somewhat. I'm still learning that there is a season for all things.
Blessings, Julie