Homeschooling Encouragement with Karen Andreola

Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small commission from the purchase of these materials, at no additional cost to you. Thanks so much for your support.

Encouragement

There is nothing quite like that feeling when you get some unexpected encouragement from a trusted source.

It was December 2020. I had just gotten off the phone with a far-from-trusted-source: a vanity publisher. Mr. Salesman was trying his very hardest to pull out all the stops and sell me a book deal that I would have to pay for up-front! Thankfully, my husband and I talked about it and decided this kind of thing would be more of a sham or scam (you decide) than anything else.

But I was longing so badly to get my book published. I had a manuscript that I could not wait to share with someone with trained eyes and a vision like mine.

Karen Andreola, Charlottemason.com

Enter Karen Andreola. I had managed to contact her about book publishing to get some tips and put my feelers out there in case she had any leads. She is well-acquainted with the publishing world. After all, she and her husband republished Charlotte Mason’s writings in America, which is probably one of the reasons you know of Miss Mason’s name today. So, I was hopeful.

Not only did Karen Andreola take the time to listen to me and see that I had a vision to deliver a living story to the people who would embrace it; she also took the time for a phone call. She listened to what I had to say about the book. After hearing me out, she gave me her own wise take on the modern publishing industry. She reflected on my work, and gave me great words of encouragement. I left that conversation feeling refreshed and understood. I will never forget her generosity. Fun fact: Karen Andreola’s son Nigel is an illustrator and has his own business.

Karen Andreola has not only encouraged me in conversation, but also in her written words.

Book Club

Our book club is comprised of about four to five mothers of elementary aged children. We are all fairly familiar with Charlotte Mason homeschooling, but this was not the case two years ago.

In July 2020, I attended a Charlotte Mason conference in Georgia where I met a friend who would become a founding member of our book club here in North Carolina. Kate was passionate about growing and learning more about Charlotte Mason’s methods, even though her wisdom far surpassed my own. She and I met at a Panera Bread that same year, in August, to discuss what we wanted to read. We both knew that Karen Andreola’s A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning was to be our first book club pick for its format (short, easy-to-read narratives), its candid and lovely tone, and its practical application of Mason’s philosophy.

So, we began our monthly meetings in October 2020 on my friend Joy’s screened-in porch, adjacent to her lovely backyard garden.

I have thoroughly enjoyed our readings and discussion. We have not rushed our book study, as we are just now about to wrap up A Charlotte Mason Companion two years (24 meetings) later!

Wisdom

I have grown and gathered wisdom from reading this gem. One of the first aphorisms I jotted down to remember in my homeschool was:

Be sure that your children each day have:

  • Something or someone to love
  • Something (worthwhile) to do
  • Something to think about

Andreola’s book encourages self-reflection and group discussion by asking questions at the end of many chapters. As I look back on my written reflections about the nature of education in response to her questions at the end of chapter three, What Is Education?, I see these notes:

“When I hear the word ‘education’ my first impression is that education used to mean more of a system-based idea. I always believed in educating the whole person, but the methods in place were insufficient, leaving me baffled.”

What is meant by we are “educated by our intimacies”?

“The things we love and hold dear to our minds will make us who we are.”

What opportunities for loving can your home provide?

“We can practice the habit of encouragement.”

Name some worthwhile things to do at home or for others outside the home.

“Visiting lonely neighbors, building LEGO creations and imagining, writing thank you notes and encouraging notes to family.”

Have you heard it wisely put, “You are what you eat?” In what way do we become what we read (with discernment and discretion)?

“The ideas of our culture’s best thinkers will shape our own ideas.”

What are three simple things to remember about educating – whatever curriculum you choose?

“Give the children something or someone to love, something to think about, and something worthwhile to do (daily).”

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Now, What?

My dear Charlotte Mason Companion will become one of my staple reference books on my bookshelf. I plan to pull it down and find that chapter on narration or vocabulary or nature study to refresh my approach and keep the methods consistent with a living education.

I will seek fresh ideas on how to enliven our afternoons through outdoor group games by turning to her chapter Ready, Set, Go! Believe it or not, I have made a more intentional habit of taking the kids out to the front yard lately to play some of the favorites: Mr. Fox, What Time is It?; Red Light, Green Light; Duck, Duck, Goose, and more.

I will go back to the first few chapters of the book: A Living God for a Living Education, What is Education, and Education is a Science of Relations when I need to get back to the basic fundamentals of why I home educate the way I do.

Andreola’s book is marked up with my notes and underlined passages. There is so much to tuck away into my memory. Are you yearning for a group with whom to discuss Charlotte Mason’s principles? Are you looking for practical ideas of ways to enjoy homeschooling with your children? I bet you could garner a lot of interest in this book should you choose to begin a book club.

Karen Andreola, author of A Charlotte Mason Companion and Mother Culture, makes Charlotte Mason’s ideas attainable, more amplified. Miss Mason’s original volumes are referenced throughout her works. If you find that reading the original volumes seems daunting, then try Andreola’s companion first. Her encouragement will go with you throughout your reading journey.

Karen Andreola Biography:

Karen Andreola is best known for her groundbreaking book, A Charlotte Mason Companion. She home educated her children K-12. Way back in 1989, Karen and her husband Dean fueled the revival of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education in the homeschool when they republished Miss Mason’s writings in America. Mother Culture is her newest book helping mothers prevent burn-out. Unique to the homeschool world, Karen also writes fiction to offer mothers a peek at a gentle and happy home life.  

Find Karen Andreola online at: Charlottemason.com

(source: Karen Andreola)

Books I Have Loved This Summer, Books I Look Forward To Reading

C.S. Lewis once said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I have a new book list I am dying to share with you.

I am so thankful for the Internet, aren’t you?! It allows us to find books within seconds and either check them out at our local libraries, or use our devices to get them delivered brand new to our doorsteps! Oh, technology surely has its pitfalls, but I do love that we can do some things so much easier in this day and age.

Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I can recommend these books to you, and might receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Our homeschool has seen the accumulation of these beloved books over time. I cannot say that I’m ashamed to admit that I still have to read a handful of the more “adult” books I ordered for myself, because… you know what? The picture books get my attention first.

C.S. Lewis once said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

Do you agree?

I sure do! That’s why I picked out the books on this list to reflect my hunger for living books. These books give us the noble ideas, the virtues and the facts about a person, place, time or process in the world. Some of these stories are fiction; many are nonfiction.

Please take some time to study this list. They span subjects of history, literature, science, math and I threw in some fun book basket ideas and summer read alouds, for good measure. I cannot wait to share these titles with you! You might get some ideas for future reading in your upcoming school year, or you might find something to enjoy before the school year begins. We have either read, or will read, every one of these books listed in our own homeschool.

We will be studying middle ages history this upcoming year, and I could not be more excited! The cross-section castle book looks amazing. I also cannot wait to read authors with whom I have not become familiar. They will become dear friends, I am sure, just like A.A. Milne and C.S. Lewis were for us this past school year.

As this new school year begins, I thank you so much for supporting me and my mission to recommend quality, living books to families who love to read with their children.

In addition to these wonderful books, when you get the chance to sit down and think about what poetry you might read next year, you might consider Robert Louis Stevenson. I have a freebie I will send you that includes: 3 summer poems, copy work, an interactive 4-square template, and project ideas to introduce you to his work before you dive in and get his poetry collection. If you love his poetry already and are searching for a sweet, illustrated collection of “A Child’s Garden of Verses”, I am happy to share my recommendation with you here:

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (Illus. Tasha Tudor)

Would you like the Poetry Mini-Unit (Freebie)?

One of my favorite homeschool memories of all time was when we read Aliki’s A Medieval Feast and later held our own very special medieval feast, complete with cornish hens and “blackbird pie”, medieval tarts, and of course, “ale”. Where would we have gotten that inspiration if it had not been for that picture book?

Morning Time In Practice + FREE Poetry Mini-Unit

Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small commission from the purchase of these excellent morning time resources, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

I hope I am not sounding like a broken record.

By now, you probably know that I am pretty passionate about the practice called “morning time” in the homeschool day. To read up on how we have enjoyed this thirty to forty-five minute period, try these blog posts:

Make Morning Time More Beautiful

History Lessons, Book Lists and Morning Time

December 2021 Morning Time

Morning Time

While I love singing hymns and reading about history, I cannot contain my excitement surrounding our “beauty loop” for the upcoming school year (for a rising third grader and kindergartener).

The beauty loop has its benefits. First of all, you are able to rotate subject areas on a three to four day “loop”, allowing everyone to get acquainted with composers through composer study, artists through picture study, and poets through their poetry and accompanying biographies. If you missed the free planning template for the beauty loop, feel free to grab it below.

Secondly, I love how deep we can dive with our subjects. We have studied A.A. Milne for a solid semester this year. We studied Bach for at least six months of the school year, and we have been able to get acquainted with Michelangelo for the past three months. I have found that this deeper “friendship” lasts throughout a lifetime, as I myself am forever changed and tethered to the minds behind the great works.

Morning Time Beauty Loop Plan

Right now, I’d like to share the nitty gritty of our upcoming year’s beauty loop by inserting our plans. These are not set in stone, but I have already gathered my books and have linked the resources we’ll use during the loop below for you. I am making units to go along with each poetry study (designated by term). I hope this helps you in some way to at least visualize what it can look like.

If you’d like to snag a FREE mini-unit for our Robert Louis Stevenson poetry study, I invite you to subscribe to My Little Brick Schoolhouse community. You can do that below.

If you want to purchase A Child’s Garden of Verses to go along with the unit (not necessary, but recommended), Amazon is offering a great price right now.

Beauty Loop is a  3-day rotation, change topic each term:

TERM 1
9 weeks
TERM 2
4 weeks
TERM 3
4 weeks
TERM 4
7 weeks
TERM 5
6 weeks
TERM 6
7 weeks
POETRY (day 1)Robert Louis Stevenson
6 poems 
Term project: dramatization of 1 poem
A.A. Milne3 poems
Term project: cereal box biography
Christina Rossetti
Term project: lap book biography
Favorite Poems Old & New – seasonal themes
6 poems *include poetry of Wilhelm Muller, a contemporary of Schubert
Term project: compose an original seasonal poem
Eugene Field (Field Poetry)
5 poems
Term Project: create a comic strip to summarize one of Field’s poems
Jack Prelutsky 
6 poems from  Ride A Purple Pelican
Term project: plan a poetry tea and invite someone special to hear recitations and view accompanying artwork (gallery walk)
COMPOSER STUDY – Classical period
(day 2)
Schubert (first 2-3 weeks focus on biography)SchubertSchubertBeethoven(first 2-3 weeks focus on biography)BeethovenBeethoven
PICTURE STUDY
(day 3)

Renaissance period
The Stuff They Left Behind: Ancient Rome (Simply Charlotte Mason)The Stuff They Left Behind: Ancient RomeThe Stuff They Left Behind: Ancient RomeGiotto (Simply Charlotte Mason)Raphael (Simply Charlotte Mason)free choice (tracing favorite works with pencil and tracing paper with narration)
Morning Time Beauty Loop by Term and Subject

Resources Used in Morning Time

Doxology (reference: YouTube “Doxology: Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”)

Singing the Great Hymns (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Poetry-

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

Who Was A.A. Milne? by Sarah Fabiny

AmblesideOnline Poetry Anthology Volume 2: Walter de la Mare, Eugene Field, James Whitcomb Riley and Christina Rossetti

Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris

Schubert’s Winterreise: A Winter Journey in Poetry, Image and Song by Franz Schubert, Wilhelm Muller and Katrin Talbot

Ride A Purple Pelican by Jack Prelutskty

Composer Study-

Music Study With the Masters: Schubert (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Music Study With the Masters: Beethoven (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Picture Study-

The Stuff They Left Behind: from the Days of Ancient Rome (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Picture Study Portfolios: Giotto (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Picture Study Portfolios: Raphael (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Does this help you in some way? Please feel free to comment below, and ask any questions by emailing me: mylittlebrickschoolhouse@gmail.com

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

Disclosure Statement: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from the purchase of these parenting resources, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

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. 

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 CALLED and CAPABLE.

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 Pexels.com

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

Disclosure Statement: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from the purchase of these books, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

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.

One Month of Narration Ideas, Three Years’ Worth of Books!

Narration Ideas for Days… Book Ideas for YEARS!

Narration

I designed a narration resource back in June and wanted to give it a little facelift for you. I am linking it below. Narration is the “art of knowing” and retelling what you have learned after reading something. You can retell a reading in spoken words, in written words, or in another creative way. My aim in designing this matrix is to give you ideas in the case of brain cramp. We all get those at the most convenient moments, don’t we?

Booklists

I want to bless you with three years’ worth of book recommendations. Each selection is carefully chosen based on the criteria for a living book.

A living book:

  • is written in narrative form by someone who is passionate about his or her subject
  • fires the emotions
  • ignites the imagination
  • is well-written
  • is written more like a chat with an expert in her field of expertise!

*90% of the books on my lists are living books. I denote the books that do not meet living book status, because there are some. I think you’ll love all of them, though. You can use them in any way you’d like. The content areas for the three Classical Conversations Cycles are present here in every book list. Enjoy, friends!

Year 1 Booklist

Year 2 Booklist

Year 3 Booklist

Make sure you don’t miss out on MORE resources and booklists! Sign up to be a part of our email community. It’s one way I encourage and show support to my most engaged audience.

How I Fell In Love With Picture Book Biographies

Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small amount from the purchase of these wonderful picture book biographies, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Does it surprise you that I love picture book biographies? I’m writing one; in fact I already wrote a picture book biography. If you had told me fifteen years ago that I would author a picture book biography for children and adults to enjoy, I would have choked on my water (because that is about all I was drinking fifteen years ago). I most assuredly loved reading good, living picture books to my students, but I would have been unfamiliar with the term “living book” if you had used it around me.

I have always enjoyed a good story, like most of you.  I taught in the public school system for four years and was undoubtedly exposed to some good ones.  Nonetheless, my love story does not begin there.  In fact, my love for good picture books has developed a lot more since I now have children of my own. It is more about connecting with little humans and big humans and less about analyzing the literature. Now, I think I am in love with well-written picture book biographies. Really.

My love story begins with a book called Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant.  The year was 2019. I had just listened to a popular reading podcast that inspired me to budget and buy some recommended picture book biographies.

a beloved book

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille is the story of how Louis Braille came into the world and changed it for better.  He was underestimated from a young age, but especially misjudged after an injury and ensuing infection left him blind as a child.  Jen Bryant does a fabulous job stretching out the scene of the moment in time when five-year-old Braille’s curiosity got the best of him, changing his life forever.  For a young man who saw darkness, Louis Braille’s life story was told so vividly.  I felt deep empathy as Bryant used simile to show Braille’s frustration with his sudden blindness.  In the narrative, Braille recalls a chained dog in his small French town and identifies with it.  It was as if his blindness held him back, like the tightly chained dog.   

I felt a connection to him that could not be replicated in the reading of a textbook. 

You see, when you read a well-written living book, you do not need to understand simile, metaphor, or iambic pentameter. You certainly can enjoy literary elements, but they are not essential to connecting with the text and the story. You will ascertain beauty, if it is in fact a story that exposes a transformation, connects struggle to a success, or disseminates a moral truth.

Everyone loves a good transformation story.

Louis Braille’s story is one of overcoming the odds.  He was the one who created the six-dot system of writing for the blind, enabling them to read anything they wanted to. 

When he arrived at the school for the blind in Paris, Louis had limited access to books.  Resolving to be one of the best students at the school, the day finally came when Louis earned the right to open the few books the school had.  This endeavor proved disappointing.  Louis, tracing the outlines of the standard alphabet letters only to read a couple of sentences on one page, wanted more.  He wanted to learn.  How was he going to learn if each page only had a couple of sentences, and the books were only so long?

The recurring theme in this story is Louis’s aversion to other’s pity for his situation.  That aversion and his own determination to learn and live life propelled him forward toward innovation.  He dreamed of the chained dog breaking free.  He spent hours each night developing a new alphabet that would eventually replace the old way of teaching the blind to read and write.

The story is so good and would be sufficient without beautiful artwork to accompany its pages. 

Nonetheless, the picture book biography is a work of art in varying media.

I fell in love with Louis Braille’s story as I gazed at the art depicting his hardship and determination.  The words carried most of the weight in telling his story, I will admit.  Nonetheless, the pictures certainly breathed life into a time and place I was getting to know.  Boris Kulikov has developed his distinct style.  His art style makes me think of olden days.  I surely do not want to neglect acknowledging the immense contribution visual artists have given our world.  They deliver truth, goodness, and beauty in a most palpable way.

The first-person narrative of Louis Braille includes an author’s note, q & a, and resources for further study at the end.  In addition, the inside of the back board includes a tidy graphic of the Braille alphabet and numerals.

There is power in a story.  A story moves people. 

There is connection in a story.  A story connects us to the characters.  Reading stories aloud and telling stories to our children connects us to one another.

There is art in a picture book. A picture book is like a handheld gallery of beauty and ideas.

I love the power of a story to connect people across different places and times. 

I think writing about others appeals more to me than writing about myself.  This is one of the reasons I was compelled to write a picture book biography.  After some searching, I arrived at my subject: I am honored to tell the story of Ole Kirk Christiansen, LEGO founder.  This man was incredibly visionary.  I cannot wait to share his story with you!  If you look through my list of some of my favorite picture book biographies, I know you are going to love this one.  I have already written the book and we are in the editing phase.  To follow me on my journey from first draft to first printed copy, you can join my email community.  I love being able to communicate these intimate details with my most engaged audience.  I hope to inspire and humbly share.

I briefly described here what captivates me in the picture book biography.  I am passionate about stories that utilize literary devices to skillfully disseminate beauty, truth, and goodness about a person’s life.  I must share a few of my favorites with you. In case you haven’t yet found my booklists on the internet, here is a link.

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies; Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel; Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World by Paul L. Maier; Illustrated by Greg Copeland

Pippo the Fool by Tracey E. Fern; Illustrated by Pau Estrada

Becoming Bach by Tom Leonard

Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden Illustrated by Don Tate

Mathematicians are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians by Luetta Reimer and Wilbert Reimer

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow Illustrated by Steven Salerno

Leave It to Abigail! The Revolutionary Life of Abigail Adams By Barb Rosenstock

Until later, fellow biography lovers!

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. 

Systems

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

  • BEAUTY LOOP

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
  • ANCIENT HISTORY STUDY LOOP

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

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

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.

Wonder

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?


 

%d bloggers like this: