This is one of my favorite times of the year, the time everything is fresh and new and possible! This is the time when I get to look back and forward, dream and consider, pray and trust as I look to a new year of home schooling.
Over the course of 18 years of teaching my children at home I have learned that this journey is not about figuring it out, but it is about prayerfully persevering. It is about continuing on through the challenges and celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness.
We must remember not to allow our plans to become our idol. God’s word says that “man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” God has a plan for each of our lives, for our family’s homeschool. We should plan prayerfully and hold our plans with open hands, offering our plans up to God to work through and use as He will for His glory.
Planning gives us a target to aim for. We do not always hit the bull’s eye, but having one means we are shooting in the right direction. It is vital we have a target to aim at while allowing, or rather inviting God to come and direct our steps.
Here are some steps I go through as I plan the year:
- Pray. Before you even begin the day, ask the Father to guide you and grant you wisdom as you plan. His Spirit will help you and give you insights as you go forward.
- Review Objectives. Our over-arching goal each year is to glorify God and to raise children who glorify God. From there I look at each student, where they are and what they need for the year and set goals for them individually.
- Plan out weeks. This simply means looking at the calendar and your family’s activities/travel and planning which days/weeks you will be home schooling. Additionally, consider planning in some down time for you and your kids. We adopted a 6-weeks-on-1-week-off schedule several years ago that works great for our family. The week off gives us a break, a chance to adjust and catch-up if necessary. Once you know when you can homeschool, now you can better plan ‘what’ and ‘how’.
- Decide on the year’s subjects. I have developed a rotation for our study of history so that we can go through world and American history several times over the course of their education. Subsequently I add in math, science, writing and foreign language. After these are in place I look to see what I can add in that is unique to each child. For instance I might add in some LEGO material for my LEGO enthusiast or an art class for my emerging artist. Though these may seem to be merely extracurricular, I maintain that as their particular talents and interest begin to develop, they should become more prominent, not just add-on’s.
- Develop a Routine. Over the years I have come to believe that a routine is much better than a schedule. A routine sets a pattern for our day, a course of action, and ultimately, habits. In contrast a schedule ties us, makes us slaves to the clock. A schedule demands we pay attention to the minutes instead of the moments. It robs us of joy and distracts us from our purpose. I desire to create a context wherein my children love learning. I want to engage them in such a way that they don’t even notice the time. I don’t want to rush to the next ‘thing’ but lean into the now, what we are reading or discovering or solving now.
As you consider the pattern you want to adopt for your day, I would encourage you to put God first (Matthew 6:33). Read God’s word together first; pray together first. This example of putting God first is an excellent example for your children as they grow up and begin to adopt their own daily routines. As they get older, show them how to have their own quite time first and then ask them to share what they learned that day.
After time with God, then put the other subjects in an order that best serves your children, their needs, and your day. We have a routine that is basically the same each day. This way the kids know the drill. They can proceed on their own if I am busy with a character issue or the laundry.
- Plan a meeting with the Principal. This is key. Make sure that you take the time to go over your plan with the principal of your homeschool, your husband. (In North Carolina, the husband/father is considered the principal of the homeschool. Though homeschool law varies from state to state, this is a good way to look at the division of roles.) Get a date on the calendar to meet with him and discuss your plan. More on this next week!
Go Hug Your Dryer – A Page From My Journal
Fall is beautiful over here in the Carolinas. The air has turned crisp and the leaves dance on their way down from the tree tops. Carolina blue dominates the sky’s color and the tree foliage against it takes my breath away. Beautiful.
I love this time of year—the colors, the pumpkins, the decorations, the cool nights, the chili, the hot chocolate with whip cream, and the change in the air. That’s it. I enjoy the change. It’s invigorating. It’s refreshing. It’s inspiring.
This season has me thinking about change more personally than usual. Traditionally people think about change when the New Year rolls around. And I believe that is a good habit in light of Psalm 90:12.
This year I see the Fall in all its splendor and I cannot escape the beauty of change. I cannot help but long for that beauty in my own life. As a matter of fact, I need to make some changes. There are some areas in my life that have become over grown. Some activities need pruning. Some sections are past their prime. And some beds need to be completely tilled under.
Conversely, there are some areas of my life that need replanting. Schedules need to be reworked. Ministries need to be expanded. Relationships need to be fertilized. There are some issues that need my attention, and some patterns that I need to change.
Truthfully I’ve been putting some of it off. I’ve known I needed to do something, but it just seems like so much to take on. I avoided and ignored facing the tough issues. I even busied myself with other stuff, distracted myself, hoping it would go away on its own or maybe not be so bad when I saw it again. But now the time has come.
How about you? As the fall blows in, do you sense the winds of change? Do you feel the Spirit’s movement in your heart, in your mind? Have you been made aware of some priorities or positions that need your attention? Are there some changes you know you need to make? You’re not alone.
Speaking of change, our God doesn’t. Scripture reassures me that “He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” He doesn’t change because He is holy and perfect. He is my Rock. He is my Maker. He is the Master Potter. So even though He does not change, He is constantly working to mold us into the image of His Son.
Being transformed into the image of Christ is the desire of my heart. Truly I want that for my life. The problem is that I want it without the change. I know change is a painful process. Inherent in change is pain. I know that it will be painful as He molds and shapes me into the likeness of His Son.
But this season it seems that God is romancing me, wooing me with the beauty and potential of change. It is as though He wants to prove to me that there is beauty that can only be revealed at the end of some seasons, some ministries, some relationships, or some responsibilities. Change doesn’t have to be my enemy or even something I dread. In fact I could choose to anticipate it like the red, orange, yellow, and purple leaves of autumn. Like the crisp air and the Indian corn and hay bales and leaf piles, I can choose to celebrate change.
What if you and I took some time just for introspection? What if we find some quiet time and curl up with our favorite beverage and consider change? What if we choose against the status quo? Let’s stop avoiding the issues and put our face to the wind. I dare you to do some self-evaluation as we approach the holiday season.
This Season’s Challenge:
- Take some time and pray. Ask God to show you any changes you need to make, anything He is asking you to prune, give up, plant, or cultivate. You must remember He wants you to grow. So He will surely show you the way.
- Dare to write it down. List the issues that need your attention, the changes you believe God is desiring you to make—not with your own strength, but with His.
- Dare to let Him change you. As you lift up your hands in praise to Him, anticipate the transformation He has planned for your life.
- Pray for each other. Ask Him to grant you a desire for His pruning, His watering, His weeding, His cultivating. Pray that you will determine to trust Him.
As we enjoy this fall season and the beauty of the change, let us fall on our knees and submit to His transforming power as He works to change us into the image of His Son.
Character Quality: Orderly
The worship of randomness is popular and encouraged. Bumper stickers advocate us to ‘practice random acts of kindness’. In fact in the movie ‘Evan Almighty’ the word ‘ark’ is given as an acrostic for “Acts of Random Kindness.” Really? God choose a man, gave him specifications to build a huge barge-like structure out of specific materials, a project which took Noah 120 years to complete for a specific purpose and the best acrostic Hollywood can manage includes the word ‘random.’ Seriously?
Clearly there was nothing random about God’s charge to Noah. And not just Noah. The same was true for Adam, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and so on. So if this world has order, if there is a purpose for each of us, if there is a God who is sovereign over all things, then that would have serious implications — implications like responsibility to that authority, submission to that authority, worship to that authority.
Order matters. It matters what order you put the ingredients in the cake mix. It matters what order you put clothes on when you get dressed. It matters what order you do the operations in math. It matters what order words are in a sentence. It matters what order you paint with watercolor, going from light to dark. It matters what order you do the steps when changing the oil in a vehicle.
Orderliness does not only pertain to the sequence of steps, it also applies to behavior. The way we conduct ourselves can be appropriate or in appropriate, in order or out of order. Yelling, “Fire!” at the movie theater is, for example, out of order. Giggling during a sermon is not proper, it’s out of order. Similarly, there are places where it is not fitting to run and be loud, even if you are happy. It is just not the place to behave like that.
Orderliness has to do with how we behave based where we are. In the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes, we learn that there is a time and place for everything. There is a time to laugh, to cry, to sing, to be quiet, to yell, to whisper. There is a time to run, to skip, to sit, to wiggle, to dance, to walk, to sleep. Time to eat, to drink, to fast, to give, to keep, to throw away. Sleeping, writing, drawing, texting, hoping, and more — they all have a place and a time.
“In the beginning God….”
Creation is a prime example of orderliness. God created the world. The evidence is clear. That is not the debate in this post. In creating the world, there was an order to everything. The spaces had to be created before the creatures. The sources for life, food, light, warmth, and water had to be in place before living creatures were made. Skies before sun, moon, and stars — seas before fish — land and plants before animals and man — God made it all in a specific order.
The example God gives us for orderliness in creation is just the beginning. He established an order for those of us he draws to Himself. There is an order to our coming into relationship with Him. It starts with justification, followed with sanctification, and ultimately glorification.
Practicing and teaching orderliness is important because it teaches a fundamental characteristic of God. He is a God of order. He ordered creation. He is the Author of creation. And as such He is worthy of our worship. We are not God. He is. Random is not worthy of our worship. God is.
What is on your list of chores this week? What is your favorite chore? Which one do you dread?
Pop Quiz: Which one is my least favorite responsibility? I’ll give you a hint: I have four sons. That is more than a hint. That is a give away. Cleaning toilets is by far and away my least favorite household chore. In fact you could call it my most dreaded — but not anymore.
Many of us have fallen into despising our homemaking responsibilities because it is so normative. Everyone hates them right? Probably most of us have never thought about it much even though we spend a huge amount of our time doing these tasks.
Choosing our attitude is always within our control. No matter what we face, whether we chose to face it, wanted to face it, or were forced to face it, we all can choose how we face it. It does not matter if the circumstance or situation is positive or negative, we can choose to face it with a smile.
I would humbly suggest that choosing a positive attitude to our life’s circumstances is more difficult than most of the junk that life here throws at us. Why? Simply because no matter how challenging the problem is, no matter how lousy, no matter how unfair, or hurtful, we can and often do make it worse with a negative attitude.
I really wish merely knowing this meant that it was easier to choose better, but it doesn’t. Choosing well and wisely is not easy. It is easy to choose a negative attitude. It is easy to get mad. It is easy to allow a root of bitterness to spring up, to allow resentment to fester, to feed selfishness. But that is not what we are called to do.
We are called to live a life free of the bondage of these negative attitudes. We are admonished to serve one another in love. We are encouraged to live lives of selflessness. This means you and I have to do battle in our minds — ‘to take every thought captive’. We must actively choose against negativity.
How? First, think about chores differently. Let’s try and think of chores as opportunities to serve our family. The word chore is probably getting in our way. The word itself implies monotonous and mundane. It is as though chores are activities that no one notices, and if someone does notice, they will take them for granted. But it is just not so. Chores are necessary responsibilities, which keep our homes and our families organized and running smoothly. They are invaluable services performed, which truly do make all the difference. They set the tone, they preserve harmony.
What if we renamed chores, opportunities? That more accurately describes what they are. They are opportunities for family members to serve one another with a common goal: to create a haven called a home where all the members are cared for and encouraged.
Next, what if we used our time doing these various ‘opportunities’ to thank God for all His blessings? We could spend the time each opportunity takes thinking over all God has done and thanking Him for His faithfulness and provision. When we take the time to thank God for all He has done, our minds are filled with gratitude to Him who alone is Worthy. We are then able to focus on our blessings and less likely to resent the task at hand.
Finally, when we do our ‘opportunities’ we could use that time to worship Him. As the mother of seven, I have a lot of laundry to do each week. Sometimes I think it multiplies in the laundry room while it waits for me to get started. It seems to be never-ending some weeks.
Many years ago a dear mentor friend of mine suggested that I worship through my household tasks. It seemed silly to me in the beginning, but it has made all of the difference. I am confident that is why doing laundry, specifically folding it, has become my favorite job. I keep a hymnal on top of my dryer and I work through it with each load, singing the old songs of my childhood as I fold the mound of clothes. It encouraged my soul and focuses my mind. The time flies and the pile is gone.
So, what is your least favorite ‘chore’? Are you willing to consider the possibility of calling it an opportunity to serve or an OTS? Are you willing to thank God for it? Do you think that you might be able to sing and worship your way through it and claim it for His glory? Are you willing to choose to redeem your time? If so, let me know how it goes. It might be difficult or seem strange when you start, but give it some time. I bet you will see a change in your attitude and in your whole outlook on your other OTS’s.
In His Grace,