Imagination In Place: An Author’s Perspective + A [Very] Short Story

Have you ever felt the need to justify your place? As an author, writing about a place that is not my own has definitely been a task I do not take lightly.

in my place.

Have you ever felt the need to justify your place?  Wendell Berry writes in his 2010 work, Imagination in Place, about his move from New York City, a hub of culture, to his native Kentucky.  His move was not necessary, but he wanted to move back.  For years, he wrestled with the admonitions of old New York friends who told him he was ruining his life by moving back to rural life.  He of course had no reason to give them as to why moving back was a good idea – he could not prove them wrong.  Later, he came to understand why he made the decision, after reading North Winter, a collection of poems by Hayden Carruth. Berry’s words give those of us who prize our own “place” – be it a booming metropolis or land of corn fields – a sense of consolation:

Those poems, in addition to the much else they were, clearly did not come from any great center of culture, not from New York or Boston or even Concord.  They came from Johnson, Vermont, a place not central to the culture even of Vermont, and yet a place obviously central to the consciousness and imagination of a fine poet. (Berry 57)

Have you ever felt like people who are not from your “place” tend to oversimplify your place, as if it belongs to some sort of province… as if “the South” is the same “South” in every southern state, or town? How does one politely come up against these rampant generalizations?  The answer is imagination.  I love this Wendell Berry quote:

My neighbors don’t look like Southerners or Kentuckians to me. The better I know them, the more they look like themselves.  The better I know my place, the less it looks like other places and the more it looks like itself.  It is imagination, and only imagination, that can give standing to these distinctions. (Berry 33).

As an author, writing about a place that is not my own has definitely been a task I do not take lightly.  I admit, I lack complete authority over the words I use to attempt to describe the place that is not my own.  I admit, my attempts pack less clout than those of an author who originates from the setting of my book.  I can attempt to research and gather as much contextual information as possible.  At the end of the day, I lean into humility and imagination.  Wendell Berry has helped me on this journey as a first-time author.  

You see, I have this fear that people will coin me as “fraud”.  The voices that come at me say, “How can a homeschool mom be an author of children’s books?  What about your family?  Isn’t your brain too zapped to tell the stories people want to hear?”  No matter what becomes of this, I certainly intend to read and write my entire life until I die. So, thank you Wendell Berry.  You broke the mold when you became a farmer who writes.  I am a homeschool mom who writes.  What will we hear of next – a shepherd boy who became the owner of a worldwide corporation?

The following short story follows a man named Visionary through his early years into his career as a carpenter.  The story finds its apex and quickly thereafter its resolution at the point where Visionary makes a life-altering decision.  

*Note: This short story is based on the life of Ole Kirk Christiansen, the subject of my new picture book biography I am publishing with Blue Sky Daisies and does NOT include excerpts from my book.  References are included.

A Man Called Visionary

by H.G. Lee

There was a man whose vision reached beyond the limits of his day. Visionary Man is what I’ll call him.  Visionary Man was born into an agrarian family in a Danish-speaking hamlet of white church and green field, brick cottage and wooden barn.  

Raised on the staples of home cooking and hard work, Visionary Man saw the beads of sweat on his parents’ foreheads. 

Going by “Visionary” for short, he worked out his hours in school and in the field, keeping his neighbors’ animals safe and fed.  The shepherd Visionary had bigger dreams that awaited him.  

The beads of sweat accrued from hours in his big brother’s carpentry shop led to a shaping, a forming, of Visionary’s hard work ethic.  As wood can be shaped into a masterpiece, the virtues found within Visionary’s heart were being shaped and refined.  Perhaps this apprenticeship was the beginning of the long road to excellence.  Nobody could have known what his life would be, no more than anyone can look at your life and see what might be or might have been had you chosen a different path.  

Six years of apprenticeship took Visionary from young, fourteen-year-old apprentice to twenty-year-old journeyman.  

The first cars were being mass-produced. The world had been put on wheels, and it was surely getting smaller, if you know what I mean. As Visionary proudly clutched his journeyman’s certificate, he made plans to study under the master carpenters in the land of fjords, Norway. His adult life was laid out ahead of him.  He had his training.

Carpentry work translated into many kinds of jobs.  He would go on to build churches, farm buildings, cabinets, doors and windows.  If this was all there was to his story, his life would have been considered very normal, perhaps.  It may not seem like he would go on to create a worldwide corporation whose name still elicits elated squeals from children and admiration from parents.

But Visionary’s story did not end there.

Remember, his name was Visionary.  He lived through the dawn of the twentieth century, where the airplane was the newest technology, and the Internet was introduced at dusk, long after his death.  Why did this Visionary at midlife look at his company and decide to start focusing more on toys for children than anything else?

Photo by Burst on

How did this man possess the resolve to make life better for children?  Was it his heart for others that led him to his own innovation? 

Some people laughed at him. His fellow townspeople knew him as Visionary, and many loved him.  But Visionary’s ideas took monetary risk.  He was a lovable man, but not always a safe man.  His ideas made him unsafe.  

Maybe you’d think this man was destined for the metropolis.

He could have moved to Copenhagen, rife with ready customers after his factory burned to the ground. He had offers to relocate.  Visionary’s loyalty got in the way.  He wanted to preserve the jobs of his friends, his workers, his “people” as he called them.  His loyalty and vision kept him in his town.  

You see, Visionary had been given a vision.  He spoke of it later as having come from God. His vision included a modern factory with assembly lines and machinery in his own town (not in a metropolis).  He loved his place.  He loved his work.  He loved the people who worked for him, refusing to call them workers, but instead, “people”.  Visionary was a special person. What would have been different had he decided to continue building household products, furniture, and churches?  A lot would have been impacted, no doubt.  Would Visionary still have had an impact in his place?  

Sometimes, it’s not what we produce that impacts people the most.  It’s who we are. 


Andersen, J. (2021, September 17). Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen about his grandfather: “he could gather 70-80 employees at the factory for devotion every day”.  Kristeligt Dagblad.

Anthony, W. (2018). The LEGO story. Scandinavian Review, Spring 2018, pages 17-33.

Christiansen, P.N.G. (2021, November 29).  Out on an adventure. Ud & Se.

The LEGO Group. (2020). The lego group history [Infographic]. US.

GuideDanmark. (2022). Visit Billund.

Mom of Multiple Children: Have You “Lost Yourself”? Don’t Despair!

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Mom-ming It

“I am not sure I know what I’m good at anymore,” she says, voice cracking, eyes filling up with big tears. 

“I question if I am even cut out for this thing,”  another one says, anger welling up inside.  “Why, God, am I here at home, with these kids?”  

“I just stay at home,” I caught myself saying once to a new acquaintance.  

What in the world is going on here, moms of multiple children?  Have we lost our identities?  Are we feeling like we are just stay-at-home moms, as if that is some kind of badge of shame?  As if that is all we are?  As if we have no other roles or identities?

Feeling lost, mom of multiple children?  I have been there.   In fact, I have felt that way recently, and will continue to fight against that feeling that creeps into the dark recesses of my heart when I start gazing at what I wish I had or what I wish would change about my life.

I know I’m not the only one who has questioned my purpose and my calling. 

It’s a wrestling match.  Certain weeks I know I get caught up in thinking there is so much more I could be doing if I didn’t teach and keep children all day, homeschooling and parenting my three young children.   

On the flip side, I catch myself comparing and thinking that the Christian woman who homeschools a gaggle of kids under the age of eight and homesteads is the more pious one, the one I should be like. News flash: there are women who have many more children than I have. There are also women who are just gifted homesteaders.  

I wrestle to get that image out of my head.

Do you track with me? 

If so, here we are: caught in between the lies that our station in life lacks purpose and that if we embodied certain outward characteristics, we would be “better” people.  

First of all, I think many women who stay at home do so by choice.  In many cases, this implies a monetary sacrifice of money for time with family.  In other cases, it’s just a personal choice based on principles.  

Whether we do this by choice or not, it is a great thing.  It is a station packed with purpose.  Hear me out, though: it is not any more pious or good than the choice to be a working mom who has her kids in the daycare or the school.  I know, I’m a homeschooling mom.  Shouldn’t I be advocating for homeschool?  Of course.  My family has its reasons for homeschooling.  The purpose of my post is not to address our reasons as much as it is to address the INHERENT VALUE I have as a person, and guess what: it is NOT based on my decision to homeschool!!! Praise the LORD for that!

Now that I think I’ve made it clear that my decision to stay at home doesn’t make me a better or worse person than the next mom, let’s talk identity. 


The heart is at the root of my words, actions and thoughts. When I speak of “heart”, I am referring to my morality.  Morality refers to “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior,” (Oxford Languages).  The heart is also referring to the springs of life that flow out of us (Proverbs 4:23, para.).  

 I am inherently sinful, so my heart cannot really produce anything good without the invasion of the Holy Spirit.  

Even though this Spirit of God dwells inside me and seals my salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14, para.), I know I have a flawed perspective. My identity has been a major object of Satan’s attack.  Identity is knowing who I am.  Of course, I know how to dwell on my likes, dislikes and talents.  These do make up my identity, as I have been created in the image of God (the Imago Dei) to have talents, affections, and work that I love. After all, we were created in His image and He is a creative God.  Of course we are people who like to think thoughts, create creations, and work (and play) in purposeful ways.  As moms, we can carry out our God-given abilities and passions!  We can!  You can!   It just might look a little different in seasons of life that are demanding.

However, there is something much more critical when I speak of identity.  

Identity is knowing to Whom I belong.  I am not my own. I was created and given breath by God the Father.  My identity as a stay-at-home mom who homeschools is not even scratching the surface of my truest identity.  Homeschooling and stay-at-home parenting is simply a station that I’ve been given.  The vocation, the station, is where I find my tasks each day. I can evaluate the worthiness of each “task”, but that is futile.  Identity is truly not what we DO.  It is who we ARE.  If I AM made in the Imago Dei, then I have a spiritual aspect to my being that I MUST address.  As I stare down my tasks for the day, I realize that my station is where I do the work of saying “yes” to the God who loves me.  

We Are At War 

That irritation that wells up when the kids fight for the twentieth time of the day?  The sibling fight is simply a circumstance that requires a bigger, spiritual force to intervene and get to the heart.  If the spiritual is ignored, then it becomes a mere behavioral modification, an appeasement scheme.  I hate appeasement.  Appeasement is the opposite of love.  LOVE intervenes to the heart. It casts out fear and fights the fight I cannot handle on my own. 

Spiritually-speaking, we are not fighting a war against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12, para.).  When we yield to the Spirit, we draw closer to God Himself, as we take shelter and depend on His power to act in accordance with His character.  We are empowered by the Spirit to respond to anything that comes our way.  We boast in Him, because He is the one doing it. 

My point is, these seemingly mundane tasks: intervening to help siblings work through a conflict, the dishes, the laundry, the clean ups, the planning, the cooking, the teaching… the list goes on… are merely our stations.  They are our battle stations, if you will. Yet, we are not truly fighting the war.  God Almighty is fighting for us.  He is fighting the lies that rage within.  The lies that whisper, “you will never get past this” and “this is all there is” and “your worth is wrapped up in what you do”.  There is an opportunity to take hold of the power He can only give and use it for His kingdom because no matter your station, there is an opportunity to draw closer to God and bring Him glory!

A Word From Ephesians

If I remember I am safe and secure in my identity as one created in the Imago Dei and I have the Holy Spirit living inside me, then I can remember that I am also secure in my identity in Christ Jesus.  

If you are a mom struggling with identity, please read Ephesians 1.  Here are some truths you can tuck inside your heart:

-We are adopted daughters through Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:5)

-We are daughters that have been blessed with His grace in the Beloved. [Jesus] (Eph. 1:6)

-In Jesus, we have redemption through His blood.  (Eph. 1:7)

-In Jesus, we have forgiveness of our trespasses, according the riches of his grace. (Eph. 1:7)

-God has lavished his grace upon us. (Eph. 1:8)

-God is making known to us the mystery of His will. (Eph. 1:9)

-In Christ, we have an inheritance, having been predestined (chosen) according to the purpose of God. (Eph. 1:11)

-When you believed the gospel and believed in Jesus, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13)

-The Holy Spirit is the guarantee (or down payment) of our inheritance. (Eph. 1:14)

Knowing these truths from the Word Himself, how can we doubt His plan and purpose in creating us and giving us our stations?  I think sometimes I whine and look at my situations, pointing out how “crappy” they are.  What do I really want – empathy, acknowledgement, and… dare I say it… appeasement with niceties and pep talks from well-meaning people?  I think there is a difference between what I WANT at that moment and what I NEED.  I need the truth, in love.  The truth is that I am not enough.  The truth is that in griping about my situation (which might legitimately stink) I am complaining against the One who gives my lungs breath.  I need to humble myself and realize that I can get understanding and wisdom.  But humility precedes wisdom and honor (Proverbs 15:33).

If I look at my insecurities and insufficiencies and forget that Jesus gives me an identity that is truly amazing… then I will just be looking at myself and forgetting the God who is so much better.  I forget Him, and I make myself the sovereign one.  I boast in myself when I just see my own insufficiencies and do not look to the One who is everything I could ever ask for or hope for.  I might not be boasting in the same way we normally think of boasting, but it’s like I’m saying, “I am all there ever was and is and ever will be”.  I am living like an atheist, functionally-speaking.

Safe and Secure In Christ  

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.  We have hope.  Yes, we believe lies and fight against insecurity, bad circumstances and horrible attitudes all the time.  We do not have to flounder so badly if we are depending on Christ.  

The truth is, mom of many kids: God hears you and sees you.  You have not been forgotten.  Jesus knows your struggle.  Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in EVERY respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” (English Standard Version).  Jesus was tempted to be discontent with his station, since we are told he was tempted in every respect, albeit without sinning.  Jesus also humbled himself in His station, even though He was fully God.  By humbling Himself through the incarnation, we have this picture of humility.  He humbled Himself, but was exalted.  This will be true for us, if we are in Him!  Psalm 10:4 promises, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.”

We know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing that is worth doing.  But what grace we have in being united with Christ.  

“But he gives more grace.  Therefore it says, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,” (James 4:6).  

Grace enables us to move forward to the next day, hour, minute.

So when you are doubting the truth: 

You are SAFE and SECURE in Christ.

You are LOVED no matter what.


You are RESPONSIBLE for your [own] actions.  

Believe first the truth that you are safe and secure.  Your identity is in Christ, not in all the things that will become dust one day.  You are so much more, in Christ!  Walk humbly in your station, whatever it may be, armed to fight the spiritual darkness, with Christ’s Spirit enabling you.  Know that your work is more meaningful than you could ever know.  One day, all these things will become apparent.   

Photo by Athena on

Action Steps

  • When tempted to despair, BREATHE IN…”Because Christ is enough,…”  BREATHE OUT…”I am secure.”
  • Let your body tell you when you are getting overwhelmed and falling into despair.  Tension in muscles, increase in heart rate, more shallow breathing, clenching teeth, flushed face and general uneasiness are all indications that we are starting to crumble into despair.  Fight the despair.  Look to the WORD and remember to breathe.  Make a quick escape (if it’s safe to leave the kids) to a safe place and pray to God.  Listen to some music that is full of truth and love.  Dwell on Ephesians 1.  
  • Make a list of all the ways God has given you identity in His Son, Jesus.  Who does the Bible say that you are in Christ?  Make that list and thank God He has adopted us!

Books on Parenting Humbly

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic

Are My Kids on Track? by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan

Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and Crossway

Instructing A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

The One Year Book of Hope: A 365-Day Devotional by Nancy Guthrie

The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books by Nancy Guthrie

Self-Education is My New Venture

I am not writing today to discuss the idea of education in-depth. My goal is to share something that enlivens me to my core.
My most recent venture is starting the habit of a literary life. A literary life, in essence, is reading the things I want to read. It is reading widely and faithfully from the “Great Books” and from well-written modern texts alike. It is connecting with more than just the annals of the ancient world through a primary source text like an epic or ancient play. It is reading a complete volume of poetry, or an intimidating book I’ve been avoiding.

I Want to Become a Book Girl

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I’d like to think of myself as an educated human.
How is education measured, though? By test scores? By wit? By ability to think through a situation and solve the problem?

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.”

Charlotte Mason

I am not writing today to discuss the idea of education in-depth. My goal in writing is to share something that enlivens me to my core.

My most recent venture is starting the habit of a literary life. A literary life, in essence, is reading the things I want to read. It is reading widely and faithfully from the “Great Books” and from well-written modern texts alike. It is connecting with more than just the annals of the ancient world; it is being transported to a time and place and living amongst the people through a primary source text like an epic or ancient play. It is reading a complete volume of poetry or an intimidating book I’ve been avoiding.

I wish I could tell you reading for self-formation in partnership with the Holy Spirit had been a goal for my entire life up to this point, but I’d be lying.

I am coming off of a very stale relationship with books written for adults. I admit, I have a grand affinity for well-written children’s books. (I myself am writing one, after all!) C.S. Lewis said that, “a children’s story which is only enjoyed by children is a bad children’s story”. I agree. I know I have been exposed to some great ideas through the works of Robert McCloskey, Barbara Cooney, Thornton Burgess, modern authors like Melissa Sweet, Tomie DePaola, Jen Bryant, and Barb Rosenstock.

The staleness comes from a (sometimes valid) need for information regarding my station in life as a mom and homeschooling parent. For example, I recently discovered the podcast “Raising Boys and Girls” with Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan. In an effort to improve my parenting, I made an impulse-buy and got their Are My Kids on Track? I truly think I made a good decision, albeit a rushed one! However, I used to think I only had time for nonfiction, parenting books. What a drag.

My newly found love for the kind of reading that isn’t just in the form of self-help and parenting books is what gives me the motivation to press in to new worlds. It is the thing I most likely want to talk about, too – this new love for books. My husband hears a lot of it, but I am constantly looking for wise readers who can “point me in the right direction”. I am not saying I haven’t had a developed taste for books in the past. I remember taking a wonderful college course that pointed me to the “Great Books”: Persuasion, Madame Bovary, and Metamorphosis are three that I remember the most.

Nonetheless, I have held the incorrect assumption lately (as in the past 10 years) that I simply do not have time to read for fun, aside from the children’s picture books and read-alouds. This cannot be true, friends. I know it isn’t true because I have met a few kindred spirits who weave reading for pleasure into the fabric of their weeks. They are homeschooling moms, too. Don’t tell me that they do not lead already-full lives.

Take my friend Sarah Clarkson. Okay, she and I do not personally know one another, but she is my friend because I sense a kindred spirit within her. She is the author of my newest read, Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life . My real-life friend who I met on Instagram (does that count?), Laura, recommended this one for me to read.

A woman who reads is one who takes ownership of herself…she knows that to read is to begin an adventure of self-formation in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

Sarah Clarkson

In Book Girl, Clarkson asserts that to be a reader, one must choose reading, again and again. It sounds simple, but it illuminates a specific phenomenon that is taking place in our modern culture: people are spending less time reading good books now more than ever. As an anecdote, Clarkson recounts the day a young editor visited her girlhood home. He gestured to the bookshelves, groaning under the weight of copious books. “All of this…will be gone in another few years. We can read so much more quickly now on a screen.” Sigh.

Clarkson’s response:

“I don’t think physical books will go out of style because we are embodied beings who need to touch and feel, smell and see reality in tangible ways. Books are more than ideas bound to black type. They are also gifts, companions, physical presences that walk with us through certain seasons of our lives.”

I find that the buzz of a busy brain overloaded with bits of information is a real detriment to reading. Mental space is one of the first things I need in order to be a reader… something I choose again and again.

Sarah Clarkson

I agree that physical books will never become extinct. I do share Clarkson’s concern here, too:

“My only concern with the use of technology for reading is simply that the fragmentary nature of online reading, the skim from headline to blog to article to Instagram not replace the habit of quiet, sustained reading, the kind that immerses you in the mind and ideas of another, giving you the space to consider, ponder and discern.”

Okay. So with that, I will wrap up this blog post.

Here is a look at one of the quotes that truly resonate with me from my reading of Book Girl:

The words you memorize become a part of you.

Sarah Clarkson

If you agree that we were created people of words that eventually shape us into who we are, then we are definitely on the same page. May we seek to encourage each other into a reading life. I can keep you updated on my journey. Would you join me?

books on my nightstand (some of these I am just starting)

My Reading Life in the Commonplace Book

The quest for connection and self-education through good books brings me to The Literary Life Commonplace Book by Angelina Stanford, Cindy Rollins and Thomas Banks.

How It Works

This is more than a reading log. It is carefully choosing the books I will read for select genres, then reading them. Making time during the day is what I’m dedicated to doing now – mostly at night, before I go to sleep. The thing that I love about the commonplace is the area where I can write down the best quotes that resonate with me from what I’m reading. It also has a section where I can review each book and give it a star rating. The authors of the Literary Life Commonplace Book also host the Literary Life Podcast. On pages 28-30, they offer their own suggestions for books to read, but I like to ask my social media and newsletter audience for suggestions. By the way, each book I am currently reading was a suggestion from a friend!

Literary Life Commonplace Book

May I share the titles I have chosen with you? If you have suggestions in any of these categories, the titles are not set in stone (aside from Book Girl and the Wendell Berry work).

In no particular order, I choose to read this year:

We are people of words. Moms count, too. Let’s spur each other on to a literary life.

Six Things in an Introverted Mom’s Survival Kit

It’s the end of a long day and I’m spent.  I am an introvert.  This probably doesn’t come as a big surprise to those people who know me well.  I am very happy to be around others, but by the end of our hangout sessions, I am done.  I relish time spent in my thoughts.  I relish time alone.  My ideal time would consist of me waking up, enjoying a hot cup of coffee with my breakfast, and spending time with a good book, the Word, or writing something new, at my own pace and at my own leisure.  I’d most likely peruse Pinterest for some inspiration, as well.  I am creative, when left to my own devices.

The introvert life is a thing of the past.  Well, it at least seems like I left it in the rear-view mirror a few years ago.  My time spent with one young child was a breeze.  How I remember those couple of years fondly!  Putting him down for his nap meant I had alone time. 

So, how am I doing it now, you might ask?  I have three kids: aged 7, 5 and 3.  Oh boy!  I know, some of you are masters in your own 3-ring circus, and yours is probably larger than mine.  However, three is a weighty number when it comes to two married individuals who also both happen to be introverted. 

In all seriousness, I love our children and realize that they are blessings from the Lord.  They are an inheritance, and they are arrows in my quiver.  I realize these things.  I do often relish the time I have with them.

However, the need for a rest during the day makes things excruciating, because I rarely get one.  Let’s face it: all moms need a rest, no matter their natural dispositions. 

I once heard of a blog called “Naptime Kitchen”.  It is probably a very popular blog.  However, the name struck me as this reality to which I said farewell many moons ago.  Naptime kitchen?  I do not get a naptime kitchen, but it sounds extremely nice.  What a luxury! 

How do I make things work and how in the world do I function in a world devoid of a naptime kitchen?!

Of course, there is retreating to my room and exercising.  But can I also order my day in a way that prompts thriving?  This is more than an escape.  It is a rhythm.

Here are a few big-picture rhythms that allow me to at least see the light at the end of the tunnel.  A few of them are probably unexpected things.  I have had to mature and come to a few of these realizations through a process of sanctification.  It has been a painful process.  Nonetheless, the process has allowed me to grow in wisdom. 


Let me preface by stating that I am not an uber-organized human.  I love organization and structure, but I am not COMPELLED to organize beyond the necessary.  Don’t get me wrong – I love a clean kitchen and feel like I cannot commence my daily activities if I do not clean the kitchen first.  So, I suppose I have standards.  Who doesn’t?  I mean, your standard is surely different from my own, but we ALL have standards.  It’s the system that you implement that makes the standards work for you, not the “you” working as a slave to the standards. 

If I had to place my “systems” in categories, they would fall under:

  1. Systems of self-regulation
  2. Systems of physical organization
  3. Systems of mental organization
  4. Systems of atmosphere

Systems of Self-Regulation

Systems of self-regulation are the tools that I use to help talk myself off the ledge.  They are emotional and mental regulation techniques.  Taking a deep breath before I engage with another irrational human is one such emotional technique.  Refuting lies from Satan with the truth of God’s principles is one such mental technique.  The mental is related to the emotional.  If you believe a lie (mental), you will feel a certain way about this distorted reality.  This also leads to physical responses (i.e., increased heart rate, increased levels of stress hormone cortisol, fight-or-flight response).  I mean, YES, I was trained as a counselor but it does not take a counselor’s training to arrive at the basics of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  Do I use these self-regulation techniques often?  As an introvert, you bet I should!  I also take myself to a “safe place” to regulate again if I am pushed to the brink of an emotional meltdown.  You know what else I do?  I refuse to engage in back and forth over text messaging (or social media).  That is futile.  I do not recommend it to anyone.

Systems of Physical Organization

Systems of physical organization really speak for themselves.  “I put x over here and my physical space is more orderly”.  The process is really a no-brainer, but the motivation is so hard to muster up sometimes.  Some of you are probably thinking, “I organize a new space in my home every single day,”. I really want to be more like you one day if I am being honest.   I love Mystie Winckler.  She is an author and blogs on her website Simply Convivial.  She formed a support group with her email community.  Together, during the month of February, we are committed to organizing a different, small space of our home each day.  YAY!  I am in her community, but I am not accepting this challenge, at least not every day (sigh).  I know.  I must prioritize, and I feel like I am coming from an incredibly overwhelming January.  I could beat myself up about not participating.  However, now that I know what the community is working on, you know what? I am inspired to do something organizational this month!  I really am!  Thank you, Mystie!  It may not be every day, but it is something.

One thing that has been a help to me is learning how to organize my laundry system.  I know, you might be a laundry queen and have it all figured out.  That’s awesome! Well, I am not there, YET (saying “yet” helps me feel better).  I do have a system, though.  My friends are these big dish bins.  I color code them (bought these on Amazon), one for each child.  I commit to doing one load of laundry a day. (Do not smirk, laundry queen!).  Okay, so I do the necessary linens each day, but I commit to washing and drying one load of clothing per day, usually specific to a particular room in the home.  I have laundry baskets in each of the bedroom closets.  The laundry I wash IDEALLY gets folded and placed in the proper color-coded bin of the respective children.  Then, I am done.  My son is seven.  He puts all his laundry away, not without complaining (something we all need to work on).  My daughter puts her laundry away with my help.  My three-year-old son perfectly hangs his shirts up.  JUST KIDDING!  I do all of that for him, but ONE day, he will take the baton.  The 5-step habit training system is going to come into play when I see he is ready to begin taking on his own laundry.

What is the 5-step habit training system, you might ask?  Well, this is something I stole from Simply Charlotte Mason, so I take zero credit for the idea.  I will take credit for this cute “habit tracker” worksheet, though. 

Okay, so the 5-step habit training goes like this:
1. I do.  You watch.

2. I do and you help.

3. You do and I help.

4. You do and I watch.

5. You do and I inspect.

Do you know I have only used this system on forming one habit, so far?  I am a failure (Wait! That’s a lie I must refute! NO, I am not a failure.  I am a work in progress.  “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 ESV).  My son now makes his bed.  That’s the one habit. 

Anyway, I thought it was worth sharing with you because I would have loved to have this little tool a couple of years ago, but now I have it and it has been working (most of the time).

Systems of Mental Organization

One word comes to my mind when I think of systems of mental organization: LISTS!  I love some lists, you guys.  However, I used to be such a list freak that I would write down stupid things like, “unload the dishwasher” and plan out every minute of my day.  Who has time for that now?

I still use lists.  Furthermore, I have a sticky note obsession.  It’s the squares, y’all.  Those perfect squares help me compartmentalize.  When I am finished with one task, I get the satisfaction of throwing that task in the TRASH!  I chuck that sticky note!

Just as good as the list is the LOOP.  Loop schedules have helped propel me through otherwise daunting tasks or long series of tasks that would cause me to despair if I did not get to one thing.  You see, loops are not time-sensitive.  They are sequential, but do not have to be completed in any particular time frame.  That’s why I love the loop during the morning time, our interdisciplinary studies.  By the way, morning time is my favorite time of the school day, so we do not choose to miss it unless we are so far behind.  My children all love morning time.  At the moment, our morning time consists of:

  1. Singing doxology together at breakfast
  2. Praying
  3. Hymn

Clean up breakfast, move into living room


Day 1: Poetry

Day 2: Composer study

Day 3: Joke book

Day 4: Picture study

I build in buffer time when I only allot 4 days to BEAUTY LOOP.

  • Math word problem

Day 1: Read and children narrate

Day 2: Read and children narrate

Day 3:  Map work

Day 4: Coloring page

Systems of Atmosphere

Lastly, the systems of atmosphere are harder to put our fingers on if you catch my drift.  However, I love atmosphere because it reflects a lifestyle and is more like breathing than it is like consciously striving.  The atmosphere of a home is so important.  It is also kind of tricky.  So, how does one make a system of atmosphere? 

We look to ideas, beauty, and connection to provide atmosphere.  Ideas and beauty come in the form of good books and occasional movies, music, nature study, play, outdoor time and the rhythms of meeting together (more on anchors later). 

Why Systems for the Introvert?

How do systems help me as an introverted mom? They are life-giving yet provide boundaries.  The textbook introvert might be described as lacking strength in boundary-setting, but I am learning that boundaries are exactly what I need as an introvert.  At any rate, I think systems will help any person function in the framework of the household.  There are so many systems you and I use each day, without thinking twice.  What’s your system for communicating with the entire family?  The calendar.  You probably keep one somewhere.  I am not to the point where I display the calendar in a central location where all my kids can read it and write down their engagements, but one day I plan to do this, when it can be utilized by everyone.  Systems are easy to spot and easy to create.  It’s harnessing them and maintaining them that make all the difference.


Anchors are built-in points during the day that absolutely must happen, no matter what. 

We must eat three meals a day.

The kids must go down for bed. 

The day must start and school must begin.

You get the picture.

An introverted mom like me is always looking for the anchors in the day.  I attach things that may be hard to accomplish in isolation to anchors because they suddenly become inescapable.  This is best accomplished when the little people are contained.  Sitting at the kitchen table to eat breakfast is a perfect segue into morning time.  After morning time is enjoyed, we breathe and move (physically and mentally) to the next task until we reach the next anchor: lunch.

Lunch, for me, is merely survival right now.  I used to envision a “literary lunch”.  In my mind, I would read aloud to my three children, who would attend to the engaging story and ask the best questions and provide the best insight.  Yeah, we are not there yet.  Not even close.  Right now, it is all about keeping the little dude in his seat to eat his food.  It’s also about training them in the way of manners and such.  Most days, it’s me trying to keep their plates full and then I eat at the kitchen counter, away from the chaos.  So, there is room for improvement.

The next anchor of the day is my son’s nap.  This is the signal to my older two that they are on their own for the next couple of hours – an introverted mom’s dream.  Yet, I am never alone.  No, not really.  The only way I could ever really be alone would be to hire a babysitter.  Sometimes, that is exactly what I do!  Other times, I look at the naptime as my chance to engage with the older two in short spurts, after I clean that kitchen.  By the time I’m finally done cleaning, I’m kind of ready to collapse, but sometimes, I really do make the extra effort to do something with them.  It might be drawing in the school room.  It might be playing outside.  It might look like reading to them.  Whatever it is, I know I am kind of at the dregs of my bucket.  I have just a little more left.  So, I need a recharge.  That’s when I look at my pockets (more on those later).

The final anchor of the day is dinner.  Dinner is when I have a captive audience for storytelling and recapping the day.   We also take dinner to narrate to Daddy about the day, or about something we have been learning or something we saw.  We attach number facts and phonogram flash cards to dinner.  We do this because our son is rusty on his facts and we want to use our anchor time wisely.  Plus, when Daddy calls out facts, it is a form of outsourcing.  My son gets rewarded with my husband’s reading a chapter from The Hardy Boys. Therefore, I can devote my attention to the other two kids or… I clean the kitchen. 

Both my husband and I look to the last anchor of the day (kids’ bedtime) to which we attach prayer, singing, and a short book.  Then we hope for the best and say goodnight.  We are zapped. 

Anchors are a natural part of the day.  Figuring out the best use of the anchors in your day will help you feel like you are working smarter, not harder.  Which activities will you attach to your anchors?


Pockets are (mostly) enjoyable opportunities that propel us toward the anchors in our days.  One of our pockets is music.  Can you think of a song you could play to act as a cue to your children that an anchor is about to happen?  I’ll tell you about my son in the first grade.

My son was a first grader last year.  Our song was “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne.  I really don’t like that song very much, but it has grown on me, and it is catchy.  My son loved it in the first grade.  So, that was his cue to come get started with me once I had cleaned the kitchen.  It told him that were moving toward beginning our schoolwork.  Did this pocket work? I would say it did, 85% of the time.  The other 15% consisted of him begging for another song or delaying further with a snack request.  So, we had to adjust, and I made the rule that all snack and water must be gathered by the time the song was done playing.

Other pockets for us are: snuggling with the preschooler, a TV break right before lunch, blessing Daddy by cleaning up before he gets home from work, a bedtime story and snuggle. 

Pockets bring us some vigor to days that are mundane.

Confession and Repentance

An introvert internalizes a lot of her interactions.  Why did I say that?  Has that crossed your mind before? Ha!

Sometimes, we just make mistakes and lack a filter in communication.

Other times the things we say are sinful and wrong.  The weight of this sin is such a burden, isn’t it?

Remember, we have forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Repent and believe the gospel.  I fight my flesh daily.  When I give in and sin badly against another soul, I look to David’s Psalm 51.  The first two verses are:

1 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin! Psalm 51:1,2 ESV

(The entire Psalm is so good.)

Recently, I had to read this Psalm.  Afterward, I did feel the weight of my sin flow out of me.  Then, I was able to breathe again. 

In response to Psalm 51, I had to give myself time in my safe place, my “time out” place.  I had to admit my sin to myself and to God.  I had to turn from it and acknowledge there was something much better.  I had to pause and try to realize that it is not a battle of flesh and blood I was fighting.  It is against the powers of darkness that we wrestle.  “Being right” is not winning, because not a single person on this earth is truly wise.  I had to let that go and just look at the One who is perfect and right and offers something nobody else can offer: grace. 

Receiving Grace

You are an amazing work of art that God put into being!  Do you really believe it, though?  You are smart and beautiful.  You are loved.  Do you even know it?  I think sometimes we women especially devalue ourselves and fail to realize just how special we are. 

I know, we are also sinners.  Yes, and yes.  However, do we go back to the fact that God chose to bring himself glory by creating us?  He sent His only Son to die for us, to redeem us, and to bring us everlasting life.  He makes us completely His and we are enough.  We are made in His image. We are enough, in Christ.  If you go about life and fail to realize your worth in Christ, you will fail to set boundaries for yourself and for others.  You will also strive to prove yourself constantly. It will be your modus operandi.  So, receive the grace that covers everything.  Yes, we are worthy in the sense that we are made in God’s image, every one of us.  Sure, we are not enough without Christ, but realizing that is beautiful.  When we embrace that we are enough in Christ, we can move forward with dignity and wholeness.  We can make decisions out of a more secure place. This grace helps me move through my day, even though I sometimes go the entire day without seeing it and taking hold of it.  My prayer is that I would be drawn to the reminders of grace when I start my day, when I am in the middle of it, and before I lay myself down to sleep.  Grace yields peace and security, forever.


Among the many things to wonder, grace is at the top of my list.

“Wonder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.”

What makes you wonder?  What is beautiful and admirable?  I’ll tell you what I like to incorporate into our days that can elicit my wonder.

  1. Nature Study
  2. Watercolor
  3. Play
  4. Walking outside

So, go ahead and wonder.  Build it into your day.  Make it a pocket that propels you toward your anchors. 

I will be cheering you on!

Books that allow me to wonder these days:

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

Gentle and Lowly by Dane C. Ortlund

Nature narratives, like: The Burgess Animal Book: Mammal and Nature Education Storybook by Thornton W. Burgess

any kind of good, picture book biography with quality illustrations

Tools Work With Right Perspective

The good news about these tools – systems, anchors, pockets – is that they augmented when I see my life through a lens of confession and repentance, grace and wonder. 

The world is a noisy place.  Thinking about all the ways we want to implement tools can be overwhelming.  Seeing the big picture first helps me.  Breaking up the things I want to work on into chunks is key.  Outsourcing certain responsibilities can be beneficial.  I admit I am weak, but He is strong.  Order will come if we pursue it and ask for God’s guidance.  Knowing that my time is not my own is helpful, too.  Reframing this idea that I am owed any peace and quiet and acknowledging that I am owed nothing and cannot expect a naptime kitchen or a cheerful child is also key.  I can be responsible for myself.  God will meet me there and has already orchestrated everything, so I can trust his plan is good because He is good.  I can let go of control.  I can focus on my own obedience in the mundane instead of despising the mundane. 

Besides the usual, albeit good coping habits of retreating to a safe place and exercising, I think structure, boundaries and right perspective all help an introverted mom not only survive but live well. 

I hope this has given you something to think about.  How do you live well?


5 Things You May Not Know About Charlotte Mason

If you homeschool, you have probably heard of the name “Charlotte Mason”.  Prior to homeschooling my oldest, I was researching educational philosophies.  Five years ago, if you had asked me about Charlotte Mason, I would have said that she is a contemporary, 21st century education guru who loves being out in nature.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Clearly, I had some reading to catch up on! 

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If you homeschool, you have probably heard of the name “Charlotte Mason”.  Prior to homeschooling my oldest, I was researching educational philosophies.  Five years ago, if you had asked me about Charlotte Mason, I would have said that she is a contemporary, 21st century education guru who loves being out in nature.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Clearly, I had some reading to catch up on! 

Circa 2017, before I really knew much about Charlotte Mason.

Charlotte Marie Shaw Mason was born January 1, 1842.  She was a pioneer in education for her time.

Miss Mason had been home educated, was an only child, and never married.  After losing both of her parents at age sixteen, she enrolled in the Home and Colonial Society for the training of teachers and earned a First Class Certificate (Simply Charlotte Mason). She became a teacher and incorporated into her philosophy of education that children, no matter social class, should be offered a wide, generous, and liberal education.

Now, Charlotte Mason’s name resounds throughout the halls of many a homeschool. 

Going against the mainstream thought of her time, Charlotte Mason believed education should involve the whole child – the academic, emotional, and spiritual – not just the mind.

I am learning a lot about Charlotte Mason’s principles and life as I apply her methods.  I do not want to just execute the methods; I want to know the reason behind the application.

Over the course of my time learning, I am compelled to share a few things you may not know about this British educator.

A favorite book.

1. Miss Mason and the principles she ‘discovered’ do not belong to one era.

Charlotte Mason made assumptions about her readers and her culture that do not apply to twenty-first-century Americans or Canadians. How many of us are intimately familiar with the writings of H.G. Wells, or would be able to understand any reference made about a minor character in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House?  I am ignorant about these things myself (although I own a couple of H.G. Wells’ works).  It’s when I start to read and listen to the ideas and references Charlotte Mason communicates to her own culture and time that I realize just how very little I know, period. 

I first need to understand the mere references Charlotte Mason makes about her own time and people before I can begin to understand her principles that agree with the classical thinkers…right? 


Miss Mason read a lot.  Furthermore, she read a lot of the classical and modern thinkers and philosophers, from Plato to Locke to Ruskin.  In Karen Glass’s work Consider This we learn that “her books contain references to such thinkers as Plato, Plutarch, Erasmus, Comenius, Milton, Montaigne, Rousseau, Spenser, Locke, Herbart, Pestalozzi, Arnold, Ruskin, James, and dozens more by name…” (2014, p. 8).  Maybe I recognize half of the names on that list. Glass again writes in her In Vital Harmony that Miss Mason’s audience was comprised of “wordy Victorians and their successors – the Edwardians,” (2019, p. 1).  

Back up, I need another history lesson.  Who were the Edwardians? 

Here’s the good news, for me: 

While knowing who the Edwardians were is surely relevant to Charlotte Mason’s use of certain analogies and references, I do not think that knowing them any consequence for the utility of her principles.  I say “her” principles, but she discovered them from people who lived long before she did.  “She herself said that she and her colleagues had ‘discovered’ them, because they represent universal truths about education that have their roots in the classical world,” (Glass, 2014, p. 9). Her principles are transcendent of time.  Her principles are as useful to us as they were to Charlotte Mason and to the people who lived during Plato’s time

Principles do not change.  The way we talk about the principles might change a bit from generation to generation. Therefore, “the essential principles of education are exactly as they have always been, but they remain living and do not become stale when they are turned around and examined afresh in light of current thought,” (Glass, 2019, p. 2).  Cultural context may alter what we emphasize about a principle, but that does not negate the fact that it is still a principle, which by nature, is constant.

2. Miss Mason didn’t write her well-known books until she was in her forties.  She cofounded the Parents’ Educational Union at age forty-five. 

I think that people might assume Charlotte Mason had her writing career well underway by the time she was in her early thirties, but this was not so.  Between ages thirty-eight and fifty, Miss Mason wrote a popular series called the Ambleside Geography Books (  This series would begin her ample literary contribution to education.  What did she do before age thirty-eight? After earning her teaching certificate, Miss Mason taught at the Davison School in Worthing, England for over ten years. 

Soon after, she was invited to lecture and teach at Bishop Otter Teacher Training College in Chichester, England, where she stayed for more than five years (Simply Charlotte Mason).  From her experience there, Charlotte developed a series of lectures aimed at helping parents understand basic principles about bringing up children.  These lectures were later published as Home Education and were widely received.  Charlotte cofounded the Parents’ Educational Union (PEU) in 1887 in Yorkshire (  This organization would provide resources and support to educators and homeschool parents in the United Kingdom.  The periodical created for keeping up with PEU members was entitled “Parents’ Review”.

3. Miss Mason was an upstanding member of the Anglican church but was not a proponent of Sunday schools.

Why does it seem that Charlotte Mason sometimes gets overlooked in Christian circles?  She was Anglican and believed that much of the discipleship of children is the responsibility of the parents.  She therefore did not spend a lot of time discussing education in the local church.  She was not a big proponent of Sunday schools because they took away the parent’s duty and placed it into the hands of another source.
Charlotte Mason said this about Sunday school in her Parents and Children (1904/1989):

…that is, the Sunday School is, at present, a necessary evil, an acknowledgment that there are parents so hard pressed that they are unable for their first duty. Here we have the theory of the Sunday School––the parents who can, teach their children at home on Sunday, and substitutes step in to act for those who can not.

(Taken from Parents and Children, pp. 92-93, qtd. in Charlotte Mason Poetry)

Miss Mason was, however, a proponent of the unity of knowledge as it relates to all truth being God’s.  There was no dichotomy between the secular and the sacred.  Her belief that all knowledge is connected because it springs from a single source, the source being God, is referred to as the “Great Recognition”. (Glass, 2019, p. 32).

4. Miss Mason was trying to dispel commonly held beliefs of her time regarding children.

In Charlotte’s time, evolution was a new theory.  In effect this science impacted the way people thought about children.  “First, it was widely disseminated that at birth children were less than persons – akin to oysters – and not yet capable of thoughts and feelings that belong to a person,” (Glass, 2014, p. 13).  The evolutionary thought perceived a baby to not be a fully developed human.  Sad, isn’t it? 

Charlotte Mason did not agree that children were less evolved or without mental capacity.  Therefore her principle, “Children are born persons” is so consequential for her time. In addition, her time was rife with the idea that a person was either born good or born bad, and that education could not change his or her nature.  Charlotte rejected this idea, too.  If a child was born “bad” and you cannot do a thing about it, not matter what, then what good will an education do?  “You might very well leave him alone to reap the consequences as they come, and the sooner he is out of the way the better,” (Glass, 2014, p. 16).  Taking Charlotte’s view that all possibilities are present with a child, laying down a foundation of good habits and principles can effect change in a child’s character.  Helping the child to see faults in his character acknowledges the possibilities for change. 

Wisdom and virtue are necessary, because we are all flawed, but have potential for good.  (Charlotte Mason was not making a statement regarding man’s original sin or total depravity but was taking an opposite stance to Darwinism.  She did believe in the doctrines of original sin and total depravity, but that is not the point she is alluding to when she describes children as “not born either good or bad”.)

 I love this quote of Charlotte’s, which exudes her respect for children, made in God’s image, albeit fallen in their humanity:

We must reverence or despise children; and while we regard them as incomplete and undeveloped beings who will one day arrive at the completeness of man, rather than as weak and ignorant persons, whose ignorance we must inform and whose weakness we must support, but whose potentialities are as great as our own, we cannot do otherwise than despise children, however kindly and even tenderly we commit the offence.

Charlotte Mason

(taken from Philosophy of Education, p. 238, qtd. in Karen Glass-Author)

How should this reality impact us, as teachers of our children?  We are given quite a task, to nurture and lay the foundation for virtue in these souls of our children, but we have the help of the Lord.  Their souls are worth it. Souls are redeemed by Christ alone.  Souls are nurtured and cared for by loving, Christian parents that God purposes to carry out His divine providence, the training up of a child.  Common grace is a thing, too.  The souls of children who are not yet saved are still able to experience common grace.  My point is, Charlotte Mason recognized the need to educate all children’s souls because she regarded them as persons, with possibilities for good and for evil.  They are not ALL good, and they are not ALL evil, without hope of doing any good.

5. In addition to a geography series and her six volumes on education, Mason wrote and published a six-volume work called The Saviour of the World, a study in verse of the life and teaching of Jesus, between 1908 and 1914.

While Charlotte Mason wrote from an educator’s and not a theologian’s perspective, she did state that, “education is the handmaid of religion”.  Charlotte writes:

There are good and evil tendencies in body and mind, heart and soul; and the hope set before us is that we can foster the good so as to attenuate the evil; that is, on condition that we put Education in her true place as the handmaid of Religion.

(taken from Philosophy of Education, p. 46, qtd. in Karen Glass-Author)

This quote is another interesting one, and I am not sure I completely agree that if we foster good the evil will be mitigated, but we can hope so! Trusting in God’s sovereign power through prayer is imperative here, but also realizing that God does use people (like Christian parents) to carry out his sovereign will be also key.  All debate and speculation aside, I think it is remarkable that Charlotte Mason devoted six years of her life to studying the life and teaching of Jesus, writing down her meditations on the gospels in verse (poetry).  How lovely.  Did you know this work (all six volumes, plus an unpublished seventh) can be found online here?  The published volumes are entitled: The Holy Infancy (V. 1), His Dominion (V. 2), The Kingdom of Heaven (V. 3), The Bread of Life (V. 4), The Great Controversy (V. 5), and the Training of the Disciples (V. 6) (Charlotte Mason Poetry).  Now I would like to spend some time sitting with these poetic works!

In conclusion, it might be tempting to put Charlotte Mason in a box, but if you haven’t read about her life or her works, thought about her famous principles, and discussed many of her quotes, it would be easy to stereotype her and the people who practice her principles.  I understand that not everyone who incorporates a Charlotte Mason education in the homeschool follows every one of her principles or has read one of her original works (guilty).  I can attest that good works written by the author Karen Glass – In Vital Harmony (2019) and Consider This (2014) – were transformative for me.  If you want to begin somewhere and need to know where to start, they are two books I can recommend.  A Delectable Education podcast is also very informative regarding a more orthodox approach to implementing Charlotte Mason’s suggested scope and sequence in a full education (Grades 1 through 12).  Have fun learning alongside me about this pioneer whose “conception of education transcends the prominent minds of her time and endures to inspire future generations of teachers and parents” (Glass, 2014, p. 7).

If you are like me, you are on a journey of self-education. Together, we can learn more about the life and work of Charlotte Mason. If you are interested in receiving quotes like the one above on a regular basis, you can get them delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribing to my email community takes ten seconds.


Charlotte Mason Poetry Team. (2022). The saviour of the world. Charlotte Mason Poetry.

Glass, K. (2014, September 16). Why did she have to say that? Karen Glass-Author.

Glass, K. (2014).  Consider this: Charlotte Mason and the classical tradition. Karen Glass.

Glass, K. (2019).  In vital harmony: Charlotte Mason and the natural laws of education.  Karen Glass.

Kunzeman, A. (2018, September 11). The God of Living Ideas. Charlotte Mason Poetry.

Simply Charlotte Mason. (2005-2022). Who was Charlotte Mason? Simply Charlotte Mason. (2021). Charlotte Mason.

Blue Monday, MLK, Jr. Day and CC Cycle 1, Week 14 Booklist

Our week was quite different from what I had originally planned. We did not have morning time most of our days, we had a few kids feeling under the weather, and frankly, I had a slumpy day or two. Has that ever happened to you? I know that some of you have reminded me to be less hard on myself. I agree, and I also think that there are a couple of things we did that allowed us to hit the “reset” button. Sharing these, especially in the bleak midwinter, might help some of you.

Our week was quite different from what I had originally planned. We did not have morning time most of our days, we had a few kids feeling under the weather, and frankly, I had a slumpy day or two. Has that ever happened to you? I know that some of you have reminded me to be less hard on myself. I agree, and I also think that there are a couple of things we did that allowed us to hit the “reset” button. Sharing these, especially in the bleak midwinter, might help some of you.

For a quick “reset”, try these 7 things (one for each day of the week):

  • Go outside – I know, it’s cold! Just one hour outside will brighten anyone’s mood, though. Trust me. If it is dark throughout the winter and your days are super short, you might want to look into getting a light therapy lamp like this one.
  • Get your blood pumping. Either by dancing, doing some good, old-fashioned boot camp style calisthenics, or playing tag with the kids outside, you can start feeling more of the happy hormones!
  • Take a mental break and write down all the things floating around in your brain. If there are tasks that you are juggling in your brain, write those tasks down. Then, get started with prioritizing. Seeing all the tasks paper will help tackling them feel more manageable.
  • If you are an “organization therapy” person (I do not think I am), then perhaps think of one place in your home you want to reorganize. Start small. It could be a linen closet or a corner of a room. Even rearranging furniture can breathe more life into your day and give you a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Talk to someone. Yes, that’s right. Just picking up the phone to dial a friend (the old-fashioned way, NOT Marco Polo or Voxer) can bring a mood boost to the day. Walking outside to chat with one of our neighbors can brighten my day. Just talk to a human, face-to-face or over the phone.
  • Read God’s Word and write down a verse to copy. Then, make that verse into a doodling masterpiece. This does not only serve as therapy, but it can help you remember the verse better.
  • Read a book of your own, just for fun. It does not have to be a read aloud book with your kids, although those can be good for uniting everyone in the middle of a rough day.

Okay, now that we’ve addressed the blues of winter, just know that you are not alone during this season. In fact, you can look up the “bluest day of the year”. According to a trusted source (ahem, Farmers Almanac), “Blue Monday” falls on the third Monday in January, each year. This year’s “Blue Monday” falls TODAY, January 17th, 2022.

A Holiday

Maybe the holiday we have here in the United States (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) will offset some of the blues. Holidays usually help because the shared honor or celebration makes people feel more united; less lonely.

As we look ahead to this week and the booklist for CC Cycle 1 Week 14, I wanted to share a book I am looking forward to reading with my kids this week:

Hammering for Freedom: the William Lewis Story by Rita L. Hubbard

I know Dr. King stood for what William Lewis stood for. Although each man has his own unique story, 19th-century William Lewis did the back-breaking manual labor of a blacksmith and did not stop hammering until each and every member of his family was set free. Like William Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr. indefatigably led marches to speak out against racial injustice for the sake of his children’s generation. Read MLK Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech here.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Martin Luther King, Jr. (“I Have a Dream” delivered August 28, 1963)

I want to sit down and read the entire speech. I hope you find some time today to reflect on the way that God created all men to reflect his image, the Imago Dei. All men (and women) reflect our good God. We were all made in His image, and we are also all sinners. I am praying for the day Jesus comes again to right all wrongs and bring true justice to this broken world. Until that day comes, I will keep honoring the stories that reflect the diversity, beauty, tenacity and struggle of my black friends, who are each uniquely created in God’s image. For a more robust catalog of books to read that honor black voices, check out my friend Amber O’Neal Johnston at Heritage Mom Blog.

Classical Conversations Cycle 1, Week 14

Whether or not you are currently on Week 14 in CC, this week has an interesting roundup: linear equivalents, three kinds of rock, trade in Africa (think: Mali Empire and Ghana’s gold), geography of Ancient Africa, and Lorenzo Ghiberti. So many connections could be made, but sometimes it’s just good to not go all-out matchy-matchy on read alouds and what we’re learning in our co-op. Kids are able to make some pretty amazing connections between things that are seemingly unrelated. So, do not sweat it when you gather resources. It might be tempting to make everything matchy-matchy… but really, that is an awful lot of work for you, and it is sometimes a lot of fun to just lay the feast out and let them figure out the connections on their own (no digesting the feast for them, please!). You can find the booklist here.

Lastly, I am having some fun making “Living Projects” for families to use with each week of school. Living Projects align with each Classical Conversations week, but you do not have to be in CC or any co-op to appreciate them. I include a video link, a book to read, a fun fact about the subject of my new book, LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, and an engaging activity or project to do that is appropriate from most students elementary-aged and up. However, I make this content FREE for my most engaged audience. If you’d like to be a part of my email community, you can sign up! I’d love to welcome you in.

I am currently learning about Charlotte Mason and her principles. If you like learning about Charlotte Mason, too, then you’ll also love the art design I insert into my regular emails (they’re quotes like the one below). You could start your next commonplace book of pretty, CM quotes! Who’s with me? Pin and share, friends. Pin and share.

Reframing the Newsfeed: Homeschooling Ideals, Identity and Security

While I like this idea of using a personal brand to communicate with others, educate them, and provide them with goods and services, it gets a little precarious for me when I attempt to merge reality and image.  Am I misplacing my identity?

I’ve seen it before in my newsfeed: the homeschool family gathered ‘round the kitchen table, each child engaged and working happily on his or her own lessons with the cute mom hovering over her little robins in the nest. The aesthetic is unparalleled!  That orange filter works gloriously with the light!  As I linger over the image, a sinking feeling starts to fester in my stomach.  Then, I ask the question: “Am I doing this right?” It usually follows that pattern.  The image, then the question, then the insecurity.  Sometimes it gets to the point where I am a bundle of knee-jerk reactions to a picture. Image, then feeling, with no thinking in-between. 

Is Self-Branding My True Identity?

I get it.  I do not live under a rock.  We are certainly living in an image-driven world.  Marketing is one thing, branding oneself is another thing.  It seems to me that people are becoming more focused on building a personal brand than a business brand, at least on social media.  This might be savvy, given the world we live in.  A personal brand is like an extension of oneself and is super easy to create.  Interests change, so the personal brand can evolve with one’s changing interests.  While I like this idea of using a personal brand to communicate with others, educate them, and provide them with goods and services, it gets a little precarious for me when I attempt to merge reality and image.  Am I misplacing my identity?

Zero in on said Instagram image of the mom hovering over the kitchen table.  Has she staged anything?  Likely.  Is she using a filter?  I think the orange sorbet one you probably have seen before should be named the filter of 2021 (I cannot say “filter of the decade”, because trends move too quickly)!  This perfectly aesthetic photo does not even begin to address what homeschooling multiple children looks like in actuality, for MANY people.  (As an aside, I think that I would be tempted to use my kids as part of my personal brand.  At best, it is inconsiderate, in my opinion. I digress…)  

It is likely you have had these thoughts, too.  And the reason I am writing about reframing our thinking about homeschool and the newsfeed is this: the images in our feeds are presented as attainable ideals, but do not convey the diversity of the world and reality of life for other homeschooling families, if they even bear authenticity for the photographer.  In fact, four years ago, I would have seen that image on social media and thought, “This is how people must homeschool multiple kids”.  It was the only “right” way, in my mind, because it was a redundant image.  There were countless images like it – the “poster child” of homeschooling the kids!  Before I ever taught my own kids at home, this image was my vision for a “perfect” homeschool.  Physical beauty, order, and sibling harmony all have appeal in a modern, affluent homeschool. I would think these are attractive ideals for any homeschool mom.  What homeschool mom doesn’t crave sibling harmony, beauty, and order?  In fact, I have made some, if not all, of these things idols in the idol factory of my own heart.  I have placed image above all else.  I certainly have!  And I bet you have, too. 

My True Security and Identity

Maybe these images on the feed come from a genuine place.  Maybe the intentions are pure.  Maybe some families do school this way, all the school-day long. It is not my place to judge anyone or to decide how authentic someone is.  It is my job to refute the lies that I tell myself about the way homeschooling must look, or that I must feel shame and undue comparison.  Instead of dwelling on the lies, I choose to put these thoughts up on trial against Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” How would my perspective change if I daily repeated that verse to  myself?

When Seen Accurately, Social Media Can Point Me to God

To be clear, a few wonderful things have come from being on social media, for me.  I have grown over the past year and have developed a healthier relationship with social media.  I have found community in some like-minded folks.  For example, I have been able to connect with a homeschool mom who lives just a short forty-five minutes away.  We have collaborated on newsletters, and I admire her teaching and her own unique style.  We support each other, check in with each other, and hold each other accountable in our writing.  All it took was a quick response to an Instagram story: “You like that book!  So do I!”

Also, I know that there are some amazing perspectives out there, and it is a sheer joy to follow certain people who possess God-given talents that are different from my own.  These people add life and refreshment!  Following these people who are humbly sharing their days and journeys is a pleasure, and I will continue to rejoice with them because at the end of the day I am left with more reverence and awe of God’s creativity found in people He created.  After all, Romans 12:15 calls us to rejoice with those who rejoice!

The Battle: Me Versus My Thoughts

I start refuting lies with reevaluating my own heart.  Intellectually, I know that security and affirmation do not come from the newsfeed, but who does not relish approval from others? For me, the other images have historically been a measuring stick to see my own “fitness” as a homeschool mom.  The self-condemning thinking, “I am not ever good enough,” or the covetous thinking “I wish I had what she has” can be replaced by Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”  

The truth is, we have all we need in Christ, and do not need to feel less-than when we have Him telling us we are “co-heirs” with Christ (Romans 8:17).  Who do I believe – my newsfeed or Christ?  I need not look to the newsfeed for this reminder of the security, adoption, and adoration He has for me.  My challenge to you is to read Romans 8 when you are tempted to look to others for affirmation and security.  When you struggle with self-condemnation and doubt, the truth is, you are not enough, by God’s standard.  But you are loved more than you could hope for, and have all you need in Christ.  He makes you enough.  Suffering with Him will result in also being glorified with Him (Romans 8:17)!  This is an ultimate honor! Instead of rising to the top with Instagram, Facebook, or any other platform, we have this assurance that we will rise to become kings and queens in His kingdom, if we receive His Spirit of adoption. 

Remembering the truth of my security that can only be found in my Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, is what keeps me sane.  I am already secure.  My identity is in Christ.  What else can there be? 

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