Merry Christmas!

I am thankful for you, readers. To express my gratitude, I am attaching a couple of freebies below.

I am thankful for you, readers. To express my gratitude, I am attaching a couple of freebies below.

The first is an extension activity for the story An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco. If you have children aged older elementary and up, then this short research project is just great! I think it also fosters empathy, a skill that many of us need to continue exercising. Snag your free download below.

Other wonderful Christmas books we have enjoyed this season:

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Saint Nicholas the Gift-Giver

In addition, I am adding on some free thank-you notes. I thought they might come in handy, as an expression of gratitude to those family members hosting or giving presents. Or just… BECAUSE.

An Orange for Frankie cover

Our Hope

The words below are meant to encourage you, as well as to point to a time in history.  From our 21st century vantage point we can see the end of an historical event like World War II, yet we hold on to the hope of Christ, still.  We are waiting in the already but not yet.  The same hope of these two women is the hope we hold to today in 2021.

The following post came to fruition after I listened to the Journey Women Podcast interviewing Nancy Guthrie, Bible teacher and author.  After listening, I took away this true and beautiful picture of the new heaven, as scripture supports. 

I decided to jump out onto a limb, really jump out onto it.  I never write this kind of thing, but wanted to place myself into the shoes of a young Danish woman living during the German occupation of Copenhagen during World War II.  She is my subject, writing to her friend living in Oslo, Norway (also occupied by the Germans). Both countries would be ruled by the Nazis until 1945.  The neutral country of Sweden was a destination for Jews trying to escape Denmark and nearby countries (hence, the reference to her Jewish friend below).  The port of Copenhagen was a common escape route.  I am not sure any of us could fully place ourselves mentally into the time period and circumstances surrounding these two women.  We know how the war ended, but in 1943, they did not.  Does this sound familiar?  We KNOW how the story ends for all mortal life on earth.  We have the Bible to point to the hope of the resurrection.  We have the Biblical account of the resurrection, we have the hope of our resurrection:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so wel will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, ESV).

We have the hope of the consummation, when Christ will come again: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven and from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2, ESV)

The words below are meant to encourage you, as well as to point to a time in history.  From our 21st century vantage point we can see the end of an historical event like World War II, yet we hold on to the hope of Christ, still.  We are waiting in the already but not yet.  The same hope of these two women is the hope we hold to today in 2021.

                                                                                                  December 16, 1943

Dear Anna,

How are you, dear friend? I have longed to see you, but as you know, this war has given us all a time.  With me in Copenhagen and you in Oslo, there are just so many obstacles.  It has gotten harder.  The Nazis just bombed Father’s business last week.  The time it took him to build it and grow his customer base, all a pile of glass shards and ash on the city street.  Such loss and grief.  Poor Father cannot get over the fact that he had finally paid off the building this past year.  Now, we have to rebuild and it seems we have lost everything.  In my 22 years, I had never seen Father cry until last week.

My sweet friend (whose name I will not disclose) was taken last month to a concentration camp.  She was on her way to Sweden.  We did everything we could to keep her from being detected.  The false papers did her no good.  Where was God here, Anna?

We started reading our Bible again.  I felt I had to write you, because I cannot contain what I have read and there is a stirring inside me that cannot be put to rest.  You know, St. Lucia’s day fell on the day following the bombing.  My nerves might still sting with the impact of the bomb’s blast, but on St. Lucia’s Day, I was reminded of the resurrection.  St. Lucia had that hope. We have suffered this year, and I am sure you have too, my friend. There is hope, but I found hope at a very unlikely time – or, so I thought.  I am beginning to believe that suffering is where we find the hope that was there all along.

The suffering points me to this longing for Jesus to return.  He will return, Anna!   I long for it even more now than ever before! There is a time coming when God will come back to dwell with his people in the new heaven, the new earth.  The whole of the earth will be the most holy place, where God’s presence dwells.  How do I know this? Look at Revelation, chapter 21, verse 3.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.’ (King James Version)

Do you know that this war will end one day? We face troubles of various sorts here on earth.  I can say with certainty that one day, these will be no more. 

Behold, Revelation, chapter 21, verse 4:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (King James Version)

Anna, I wish you a very, merry Christmas.  Hope in the resurrection.  Hold on just a bit longer.  We will not say goodbye to suffering until the day Jesus returns, but He will take care of suffering once and for all.  His kingdom will be beautiful because Jesus is beautiful.  Christ is the hope we have! Our hope is not the end of the war, though that will be nice.  Christ is our true hope.  I am longing for his return when we will have the garden again.  All tribes will come together into the protection of His walls and we will enjoy a rollicking good time.  There will be abundance, and we will be left saying, “All of this land, all of this abundance… for me?”  He wants this for us.  Hold on to Him and to His word, Anna.  This life is but a vapor and reflection of what will be!

       Always Yours,                                                                                                                               

     SOFIA SØRENSEN

December 2021 Morning Time

Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I may collect a small portion from the purchase of some of these morning time resources, at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

What IS Morning Time, Again?

Morning time has been a staple of our day.  I like to call it the “coffee” of the day, because not only does it warm us and sustain us, it seems vital to getting the day going, if you know what I mean.  Cindy Rollins, author of Morning Time: A Liturgy of Love , defines morning time with a beautiful quote: “What is morning time?  It is capturing the hours of your day before they flit away.  It is making sure the most beautiful things happen first.  It is impossible to regret that.”

How can I disagree with Rollins here? She has hit the nail on the head, for our family.  If we did not dedicate about half an hour to an hour of our day to this sacred time…school would definitely be more about checking things off a list. What’s so bad about checking things off a list?,  you might be thinking.  If that’s you, well you can decide if there is something missing from your home life.  Are you missing out on connection?  Morning time is for you, friend!  These are referred to as “mornings without measure”, yet small habits lead to profound outcomes.  Ask someone who has done morning time for FORTY years!  Cindy Rollins is your gal.  She will speak to the profound impact morning time has had on her family in her appearance on the Thinking Love podcast (episode: “The Art of Morning Time”).  She raised and homeschooled nine children.  NINE.  How many morning times do you think they had all together over the years?  Although every one of her children are grown and out of the house, she still has her own morning time.  This liturgy of love, as she calls it, gets deeply engrained.  It becomes a way of worshipping our Lord.  It becomes a way of noticing the true, good and the beautiful. 

Morning time is an ART to be practiced.

Morning time is NOT a rote system.  It is NOT something that has to be thematic or “matchy-matchy”.  Connections will be made, regardless of which hymns, Bible passages, poems, or other elements you select.  It is more of a chance for ALL present to marvel at God’s creation and truth.  It is less about the homeschool parent getting up to “teach her children something moral or good”.  It is more about taking this all in together.  The focus is on the content, the subjects, the works of art. 

Connection.  If we had no morning time, we’d be missing out on connection. Morning time lends itself to connection.  Connection in the sense of relationships, yes.  However, connection reaches beyond the necessary relational connection with children.

Charlotte Mason holds to the idea that “education is the science of relations”.  It is a principle of her famous “twenty”.  Miss Mason called this the guiding principal of education.  Why “science” of relations, you might ask?  I am reading In Vital Harmony: Charlotte Mason and the Natural Laws of Education by Karen Glass.  Glass purports that the term “science”, when used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (the industrial era), was simply a buzzword.  So, maybe Charlotte Mason could have used a different word, but “science” spoke to so many of her contemporaries at the time.  It was THE word. 

We can look at the next part of the statement, “Education is the science of relations”.  We see the word “relations”.  Miss Mason divided knowledge into three categories – knowledge of God, knowledge of man, and knowledge of the universe. All realms of knowledge are bound together, whether we perceive it or not.  Finding the relationship between the realms of knowledge is the key to education.  This is the science of relations. All knowledge, of that which is observed and abstract alike, is bound together. Doesn’t this sound a lot like classical education?  I digress.

My point is that morning time is something I plan to carry out with my students for as long as I homeschool.  Hey, even if I didn’t homeschool, I would still find a way to have “morning” time with my kids.  It would just not take place in the morning. There are just too many connections to be made to give it up!

What Does Morning Time Look Like Now?

Morning Time Part I in the kitchen

Breakfast

Sing the Doxology

Sing a hymn together:  Singing the Great Hymns

Pray together

Clean up together: my seven-year-old boy sweeps, I hold the dust pan for him, my little girl washes dishes, and I help her.

Come back together for Morning Time Part II in the living room.

Beauty Loop (4-day rotation): joke book (Highlights), picture study (The Stuff They Left Behind: Ancient Egypt), composer study (Bach), poetry (various)

Math Mini Lesson: As of late, this exists to gather all kids to practice our Classical Conversations skip counting.  They listen to the song, and place the numbers on laminated grid paper using wet erase markers.  Prior to this, I was practicing different skills by the month with the kids.  In October, we learned how to round whole numbers to the nearest ten, so I taught a short (5 minutes maximum) lesson on “the rounding hill” and made it fun with a car and math word problems about our ancient history.

Ancient Times Study Loop (3-day rotation): read aloud and students narrate- read aloud the remaining portion and students narrate –coloring page and map work

We are using The Story of the World: Ancient Times.

Advent Morning Time

The basic rhythm of our morning time has stayed the same, except we are now just focusing on our Advent resource for Part II of morning time.  We have paused everything else, to date.  Whether I layer in the beauty loop, math mini-lesson, and ancient times study will depend on our day.  However, I think whenever you introduce something new to morning time, it is good to start small, then slowly add on. 

Right now, we are enjoying reading the devotions and singing the songs from The Advent Jesse Tree .  We are going to begin our Christmas School the week before Christmas, and it will pair well with The Advent Jesse Tree. Our Christmas School resource has scripture readings included already, so we can just focus on our Joyful Feast and drop The Advent Jesse Tree, if it’s too much scripture reading during morning time. We can move the Advent readings to the evening, right at the dinner table, since Daddy will be home then. 

I will keep you updated regarding the flow of morning time in months to come! 

Looking Ahead to January

I cannot wait to begin our Picture Study Portfolio: Michelangelo for our new picture study in 2022!

One thing I have learned from this morning time journey is to not add too much at once!  Once we start Michelangelo picture study, we will be shelving our Ancient Egypt picture study. 

Another thing I’d like to incorporate somehow in the spring months is nature study and nature notebooking.  Although our Charlotte Mason co-op has a built-in nature study time, it would be lovely to step outside in the early spring air around 10:00 am each morning to just sit and observe God’s glory displayed in a North Carolina springtime.  Even taking a walk down the block as part of morning time would be a refreshing way to start the day. 

Morning time takes on different forms as the seasons change.

You are never too far along to begin a morning time with your older kids.  Pam Barnhill has some great wisdom and tips regarding this topic, morning time with multiple ages. 

Likewise, you are never too young to begin morning time with your babies.  A song, a prayer and a short nursery rhyme, repeated as often as possible throughout the week, can begin a lifelong habit.

I wish you well on your journey! If you have made morning time a practice, what has worked well for your family?

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