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Joy Comes in the Morning

First up in our fruits of the spirit study is JOY. I feel that many of us spend much of our life wondering, what is joy and how do we get it?

Have you ever met those perpetually perky people? Maybe thats you, but it is most definitely not me. I am often grateful and happy, but struggle to find true joy daily, especially in the midst of struggles. Why? Self focus. . . ouch! That hurts but honestly that is the truth of the matter for any of us who have Christ in our life and struggle to find joy. We plead with Christ to help us find joy, but are we really yielding to His spirit to allow the restoration of joy?

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Psalm 51:12

If I obtain joy through loving Christ more, but find myself lacking joy, then logically I am choosing to love self more than choosing to love Christ. If we remember from the previous study posts, that God doesn’t want us to focus on getting, or keeping joy. He wants us to focus on loving Him more today, that we did yesterday. Lets study this a bit deeper.

So if we look at those original questions, what is joy and how do we get it? We see that the answer ultimately lies in Christ.

What is joy is much easier to answer. The dictionary defines joy as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Rick Warren defines joy as “the settled assurance” of God.

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

Rick Warren

When we study our scripture and the truths God provides us about joy, we learn that Biblical joy is choosing to respond with contentment and satisfaction within our souls in all situations. How can we do that? Because we know God is control of all, and we trust Him to care for us at all times.

So, how do we get this joy? How do we get to the point where we fully trust God and know He will be present, that we can find joy in all situations. Yes, pinterest, blogs, and Instagram tell us to CHOOSE JOY. But what does that really mean? How doe we actively choose joy daily?

We die to self and elevate Christ in our lives daily.

And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Luke 9:23 

We die to self when we deny our selfish desires and strive to be Christ like. This is easy to remember and quote, but harder to do in the moment. But God encourages us and lets us know that He will strengthen us. It is actually His joy to strengthen us.

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemiah 8:10

His joy is what bought us our freedom from sin. He saw that joy of freedom for the people of the world, whom He loved and was wiling to go to the cross for us. How much more can we embrace the joy for which He paid the debt.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2

He gives us so many promises throughout the scripture of providing joy to those who will follow after Him. Those who will take up His cross and follow Him, turning away from the worldly fleshly desires, and choosing Him daily. The best way I have found to do this is to meditate on His Word, post it around my house, and share it with others.

Here are some of my favorite promises regarding joy. I encourage you to meditate on, post, and share these verses:

  • And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10
  • Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:12-13
  • The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
  • Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24
  • They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5
  • Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13
  • My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. James 1:2-3
  • My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Psalm 63:5-6
  • For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in themorning. Psalm 30:5

I would love if you would join me this week as we pray for guidance for Christ to share His joy as we die to ourselves and put Him before our own desires and temptations. Let us go forth and meditate on these words, post them around our house, and share them with others.

While we are not focusing on getting joy, but rather how Christ allows us to share His joy as we follow Him. Seeking how best to serve Him daily and choosing to follow Him daily, we will see that joy is the natural outcome.

What is your favorite verse that helps you to focus on Christ daily and His joy for His people?

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Nature in Winter?

There are three types of people those who loathe winter, those who love winter, and those of us right in between. So if you land on the side of loathe or tolerate the winter months, how do you handle the push to get outside that surrounds many homeschool circles?

We have adopted the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling, and nature is a huge focus of that philosophy of education. I love nature, and while I don’t loathe winter, I also don’t absolutely love it. We live in the midwest so we do have all 4 seasons, but often in the same week, with winter being the most unpredictable. Making it difficult for a mama to transition her brain from the traditional American mindset of staying inside when weather is “bad” to the current mood sweeping the homeschool movement of “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Our winter has sported temperatures as low as -15*F to 60*F. We have had beautiful sunshine days, rain, sleet, freezing rain, a bit of snow, ice, and minor flooding. Most of us midwesterners call that stay inside weather for fear of illness. I’m struggling to change my own mind and determine what are safe parameters for my children, but my husband, family, and most friends think I’m crazy.

So how does one begin to change their thinking regarding nature and poor weather? For me it started with following some great nature accounts on instagram. Then I read the book There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk. This truly opened my eyes to some myths I had accepted as facts regarding nature. Now I don’t agree with everything in this books as it highly touts the Swedish nature worship mentality. Though if you can look past that there are some great nuggets of truth there!

I then began looking into nature school and nature study blog posts, and furthered my study of Charlotte Mason philosophy. Now I am no expert but I can point you in the right direction, and you can join me on the journey to becoming a nature loving mama!

Tip One:

Clothes! We are still working on this as building up a good, quality all weather wardrobe, but it is pricey for a large family. All the great nature mamas swear by wool. It is expensive, but it does the trick of keeping you and your little ones dry and warm. Also, good shoes! This again is pricey and we have not been able to invest deeply to this, but our hand-me down and simple water proof rainboots from Walmart and snow boots from random places have sufficed for our weather. If we lived further north, I may invest in something a bit more sturdy. The next thing to consider is layers! Below is a graphic from NOAA that is so helpful. The last thing we consider is our outer layers: gloves/mittens, scarves, hats and when appropriate snow pants.

Dressing for Cold Weather

For our family I have a surplus of hats, scarves, and cowls that we have made or been given. We simply choose the ones that fit best and are most appropriate for specific temperatures. However, we have learned the value of good water proof gloves or mittens and are on the hunt for more.

Tip 2:

Be Prepared! Yep just like the boy scouts. For us that means checking the forecast, prepping the night before, waking a bit early and being flexible.

For example, this Friday is our next nature day. We know the area we are going, so we know that these will not be paved paths but no open water, and temps in the 30s. So we will need to continue checking the temps and weather throughout the week, as it can change on a dime!

Then Thursday night I will begin packing up. I try to always have one bag of extra clothes for all the children and myself (yes me too)! The next thing I do is pack a bag of with a hat, scarf, gloves, and possibly a light hoodie too for each children. Then I have another bag or box where I put all the snow pants/suits in. Finally we take a box of either rainboots or snow boots. We will choose rainboots this week in preparation for mud.

The next morning I make sure they eat a filling breakfast, pack up snacks, and that they each get dressed in long sleeves, and leggings. As we are a skirts/dresses only family I allow them to wear one of those on top of leggings and shirts, but can remove before putting on snow pants. I always keep sanitizer, diapers, wipes, and first aid kit in my van.

We always try to arrive 15-20 minutes early to our nature days where we meet friends so that we can dress before they arrive. We listen to an audiobook on the way or discuss the nature item for which we are focusing. When we arrive they quickly take off their everyday shoes, and put on their outer wear and boots. Then we are ready to go.

Tip 3 :

Snacks! Don’t skimp on this. Kids will inevitably be hungry, always! Also remember water bottles. For winter we leave these in the car to enjoy when we get back, changed, and hands cleaned. However, in the summer we bring them with us as our nature time is longer.

Photo by Ela Haney on Pexels.com

Tip 4:

Last but not least, prepare your heart. Truly! If you have more than one kid there will most likely be one or more who cries, complains or argues. Or quite possibly they may all complain. A still remember a few weeks ago a friend and I took a 20 minute hike with our kids. We both carried one crying child and had at least one crying child trailing after us. My oldest was convinced she had frost bite (thanks Little House books for introducing that worry). However, exhausting and a bit defeating we both knew it was worth it. They still talk about the animal prints they found in the snow. They found a new confidence in following the trail head signs. They remember the crying, but not in a bad way. They remember we went outside with friends. So prepare your heart friend. It may not be a day that looks like those beautiful instagram moments.

The more you get out there, the easier and sweeter it will go. As with everything look for the little things to be grateful for throughout your trip. Even if it turns terrible, everyone is crying, it starts to rain, get lost on your trail, or you trip and are all muddy and injured only to find you forgot to pack your own clothes and are over an hour from home (yes all of these have happened to me), remember to find the joy in the little things. Even if it is just to look back on and laugh. My daughter calls the day I slipped in mud carrying a baby and twisted my ankle, “the day you fell and turned, like an ungraceful ballerina.” This made it all better. Why? Because its hilarious to think of, no one was seriously injured, and in the end its a funny story and shows we can face trials.

I hope this post has give you some encouragement that it is possible to get outside, even in the winter. Need a bit more encouragement here are some great instagram accounts to follow, and please take their book recommendations. I’m still working through them.

Sarah Ruth over at Mountain Paz (@mountainpaz) -USA

The Lovely Ladies at Wild + Free (@wildandfree.co)-USA

Desrae at A Twinkle in Their Eyes (@atwinkleintheireyes) -Australia

Lynn at Exploring Nature With Children (@raisinglittleshoots)- England + curriculum

Alisha at Little Women Farmhouse (@littlewomenfarmhouse)- USA

Mary-Ann over at The Gracefilled Life (@the-gracefilled_life)

Cindy at A Learning We will Go (@alearningwewillgo)

Michelle at Our Life in the Shire (@ourlifeintheshire)

Join the movement with 1000 Hours (@1000hoursoutside)

There are many many more, and searching some hashtags will help. Just remember these mamas didn’t start where they are now. Every family dynamic is different. What they show is just a snippet of their experience, and usually its of the best not the worst parts of their nature explorations.

The point is get outside, get outside with your kids, prepare yourself and them for this new way and enjoy the world God has given! If you are already a nature mama, share in the comments your best tips for getting outside in the winter and in nature in general!

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Purging Bad Fruit

We are back to a beginning stages of studying the Fruits of the Spirit. Last time we explore what is truly necessary for fruit. We must focus on Christ rather than focusing on the fruit.

Last week we looked at John 15:1-9, I would like us tot turn there again and look at it from a different point of view.

Today, I want to explore one more aspect before we dive into actual fruits. Today I want to talk about purging. Ouch!

Now remember, I am only writing this for myself really, but if others can glean encouragement from it I would be so blessed. If we reread this section of scripture we see that there is a purpose to purging.

If we recall that Christ died that we would produce fruit, then we see the urgency to do all we can to cultivate a life that allows Christ to abide in us and use us to yield the abundance of fruits He has for this world. If we look at any farmer or husbandman we see that it is not just the preparation of the soil, the planting and the tending but there is one more step we often forget. We forget the purging or weeding that is necessary for plants produce in abundance.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

John 15:1-2

The same must be said for our lives. If we are to truly produce fruit in abundance for the furtherance of the Gospel and Christ’s kingdom, then we too must prune, purge, or weed out the bad or undesired parts.

This is so much easier said than done, but so vital to our lives for Christ to fully use us. We also find easy often to identify our fault, vices, idols that are keeping us from fully producing fruit, but we struggle to purge them from our lives. We must remember that Christ has always provided a way out for us.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

We are capable through Christ’s holy spirit to put off that old sinful man and put on the new righteous man.

Sometimes though, we struggle to identify our “problem areas.” Often those are ones that either we cannot see in ourselves, but regularly see in others. Though it also could be the areas that fall in that “grey” spectrum of right and wrong. They in and of themselves are not sinful behaviors or activities, but for our own lives and the goals Christ has for us, they are hedging in and challenging the good fruit to grow to its full potential.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

Once we identify these areas its time to purge. The question is, what will our response be? Honestly, sometimes mine is not Christian. I get defensive, proud, and argumentative whether with myself, my husband, or even my Lord. We here in America find it easy to rationalize and justify nearly everything. However, when we sit quietly at the feet of Christ His holy spirit pricks our hearts with truth. We can turn away and argue with Christ, or we can soften our hearts and allow Him to cut those out of us. However, if our goal is to become more Christlike that He might use us for the furtherance of His glory, then we must yield to Him.

Now, don’t be discouraged! This doesn’t happen overnight generally. Have you ever had a garden? Weeding takes time, and is rarely and one and done situation. The same is true with our hearts. We take time to weed out what is wrong, what is pulling us away from Christ likeness, but as we are all sinners often those weeds sprout up again when we least expect it. However, our Lord is so very faithful and gracious and will always allow us to purge and weed again.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

2 Corinthians 9:8

Need a little gardening encouragement? A well tended garden does not require as much maintenance as it did at the very beginning. The same goes for our hearts. At first we struggle, it takes much time to tear out those deep rooted sins, habits and stumbling blocks. However, over time as we keep in God’s word, replace the wrong with good, sing His praise, memorize scripture and the many other ways we grow closer to God it requires less time and effort pruning and weeding out the unwanted properties.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

John 15:7-9

So how do we go forth? We spend time meditating on scripture, we make the effort to pray specifically that God would illuminate our own personal weeds, and then ask Him to show us how we can best remove them from the garden of our soul. This week take time studying, and possibly even memorizing, scripture. Pray specifically, and as God leads and take action.

If you feel led to do so, please share below specific weeds or ways you are cultivating your soul this week to better yield the fruits of the Spirit.

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What is your fruit?

As you will have noticed I did not post last week. I had a bit of a emotional week, and I struggle to “keep calm and carry on” when issues like this past one arise. I am the kind of person who shuts down, however with redirecting myself to what is true, honest, pure, and of good report I was able to focus on Christ and trust more in Him.

So, now I’m back to studying His word with a bit more clarity after a struggle, and ready to begin our next study. This time rather than studying a book of the Bible I thought we would study the fruits of the spirit.

It is my dream one day to write a children’s series about the Fruits of the Spirit, but in a much different spin than we see generally. In order to prepare for that I have spent some time, and continue to spend time, studying each of the “fruits” in great detail. I thought we could do the same with this study the next few weeks.

So rather than giving you a to do list, or focusing on adding the fruits to our lives as we generally see, I thought we might study what they are and how those fruits are truly formed. Often obtaining those fruits in our life is not simply a putting on of that fruit, but rather a purging of the bad and cultivating our hearts to prepare for the fruit to be produced.

Today I would love for you to join me in John 15:1-10.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

John 15:1-10 (KJV)

Before we dive into the actual fruits of the Spirit let us think of what “fruits” actually are. Here in this passage we see that God is the farmer or husbandman, Jesus Christ is the vine, we are the branches which bear the fruits. He implores us to abide in Him. Much as the flower or fruit abide on the vine, so are we to abide on and in Christ each day. That means we rely on Him for the sustenance and all aspects of our livelihood. Easier said than done, isn’t it?

Over the summer my husband said in a sermon, “Christ didn’t die for us to be something, but for Christ to abide in us. Christ died that we would produce fruit.” How true that is. He didn’t die that I might accomplish a litany of good deeds, He died that I might give my life completely to Him and live each day in full surrender to His will. When we die to ourselves, and put on the full mantle of His grace daily then the fruit will be inevitable.

All to often we focus on the fruit, and forget that our goal is to focus on Him! I can expend all my energy following after adding love, joy, peace, longsuffering etc to my repertoire, or I could simply expend all my energy pursuing Christ and those fruits will naturally follow.

So today, as we begin our study I would love for you to take some time re-reading the above verses from John and take time in prayer seeking God’s guidance on how you can more fully pursue Christ each and every day.

This may include making more effort to read His Word daily, spending more time in prayer, finding an accountability partner, memorizing God’s word, or many other avenues. Share below in the comments how God guides you to pursue Him more this week.

I pray if its God’s will that we may meet again in this place for the next installment of the bible study. Have a blessed week!

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Scholé Sisters Reading Challenge

Yes you read that right, another reading challenge! What how is a busy homeschool mama going to participate in two reading challenges? Because of a few reasons. One: I wanted to read some books outside the Classics selections I made for my Back to the Classics Challenge. Two: I wanted some guidance in choosing a variety books.

Also, though I have said I am participating in these reading challenges, they are not my slave drivers. I may read a book that I didn’t put on the list. I may not finish any of my lists. I may use audio books for many, or only read my children’s books. That is ok!

My goal is cultivating a stronger pursuit of my of own education, and living out the Charlotte Mason axiom “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life.” I think I can do this through many facets and activities, and reading is just one. So honestly my goal is to stretch myself more this year than last year. Last year I read less than 20 books by myself and for myself.

If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. ” 

― Charlotte Mason

This year I have a goal of 50, but honestly its not the number of books. Its the growing of ideas and my mind. Just as I spread a feast for my children, I also want to do the same for myself.

So without further ado here is my school 5×5 reading list and categories

Free Printable at Scholé Sisters

CLASSICS/AUSTEN

  1. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  4. Emma by Jane Austen
  5. Persuasion by Jane Austen

SPIRITUAL

  1. Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  2. Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  3. Do You Mind if Your Kids Don’t by Bill Rice III
  4. Revival Journey by John Van Deldren
  5. Life-Giving Series by Clarksons

HEALTH

  1. Natural Pregnancy by Aviva Romm
  2. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs
  3. Aromatherapy fo the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood
  4. Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth
  5. Naturally Healthy Babies & Children by Aviva Romm

HOMESCHOOL

  1. Mother Culture by Karen Andreola
  2. Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins
  3. Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series: Parents & Children Volume 2
  4. Consider This by Karen Glass
  5. Call of the Wild & Free by Ainsley Arment
  6. Beautiful Girlhood by Karen Andrea (this is not quite homeschool but is maturity/puberty related for my oldest)

NATURE

  1. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
  2. Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela Hanscom
  3. How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Scott Sampson
  4. The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals and Other Forgotten Skills by Tristan Gooley
  5. Sharing Nature with Children by Joseph Cornell

NON-FICTION: HISTORY & SCIENCE

An extra section if time allows:

  1. Genesis, Finding Our Roots by Ruth Beechick
  2. Tower of Babel by Bodie Hodges
  3. Six Days by Kim Hamm
  4. Tacking Back Astronomy by Jason Lisle
  5. Lawrence of Arabia by Jeremy Wilson

So far I’ve only read one from this list! Sense and Sensibility was wonderful, however, I also completed two audio books with the children, and The Lion Witch and The Wardrobe with my oldest. They were lovely books and I am so happy to add them to our list of books for the year! Go check out Scholé Sisters challenge for yourself and see what you can accomplish this year! What categories would you include?

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Philippians 4

I love chapter 4 of Philippians. It is such a sweet little portion of this letter from Paul and full of encouragement. He begins with a greeting so sweet and touching, ” dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown,” to his friends in Christ there at Philippi. It is followed by what I claim as commands, but are gentle reminders and entreaties to stand fast in the Lord and to help one another.

He continues to give us more “commands” if you will. Like rejoice, let your moderation be known, be careful or worried for nothing, let your requests be known unto God. What is the goal of these commands?

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

He is simply showing us that when we follow these gentle and sweet instructions we shall have the peace of God. Who doesn’t want the peace of God? It is what we all truly are seeking is peace and joy. However, in our checklist and rush about world we often forget that these are not things we can attain for our selves. These are things we must surrender to God and allow Him to provide for us.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8

The above verse is one I think of often and feel is vitally important to us woman and mothers. It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s lies, yes lies. It is easy to focus on facades and the glamorous Instagram photos and not see what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. It so easy to focused on surface and temporal things that we forget the truth. In verse 9 Paul reminds us that if we have learned these above commands and keep them with us always, then the peace of God shall remain in us.

Easily said, but how do we do this? We meditate on Gods word. That means we think about it through our day, quote it, sing it, share it with others. We read His word daily and hide it in our heart that we might not sin against Him and that we might fight the temptations of the world. We temper our fleshly desires but using the above verse to justify its purpose. Is this book true? Is this music pure? Is this friendship honest? Is this movie of good report? Is this thought lovely? Daily we must be holding ourselves not to the world’s standard, but to God’s.

 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:13

He concludes with some of our favorite verses and promises to claim. We can do all through Christ and God shall supply our needs.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus

Philippians 4:19

They are sweet reminders of what a loving God we serve. Yes there are somethings we must do to fully enjoy the promises of God, but He is always with us and never leaves us. He gives us strength to accomplish His glory and plans, and will always supply our needs. We were made to bring Him glory, and He gives us the road map in order to attain such a lofty high calling. However, he doesn’t just leave us with that map. He promises over and over again that He will provide. He is our Jehovah-jireh. He will provide our needs, our strength, our joy, and our peace if we but follow after Him.

Tell me as we conclude this study, what is your favorite verse in Philippians?

Join me next week as we begin our next bible study!

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Winter 2020- Finishing up Term 2

We are having a bit of a hodgepodge year as we use up old curriculums, and move towards a more Charlotte Mason minded home education philosophy. We completed the first half of term 2 before the holidays and are now finishing up term 2. We will begin term 3 in March. As you will see I’m a fan of looping. I first learned of this from Pam Barnhill and Sarah Mackenzie. Checkout their blogs/sites for more information. Basically though we have list of things to get through in the term and we slowly just rotate through them until we complete.

BIBLE/WORSHIP

We are doing things a bit differently this term. We are trying devotions during breakfast using Leading Little Ones to God. It has a bible story, bible verse, hymn/poem, bible reading, and prayer. Its a great way to start our day.

Later after we do our morning blessings and clear up breakfast we begin our day with worship time.

  • Ambleside Online Hymn of the Month
  • Bible Reading and Oral Narration- Matthew
  • Happy Hymnody Hymn of the Month
  • Scripture Memory (using SCM method)
  • Prayer
  • Doxology Singing

LANGUAGE ARTS/INDEPENDENT LOOP

After morning worship its time for me to do a little one on one time with the littles, and reading/phonics with the younger children. Here are the items we complete during this time.

  • Piano Practice
  • Read a book with toddler
  • Read a book with preschooler
  • Preschool Workbook (if 4 year old asks, we complete two Rod and Staff Kinder workbook pages)
  • Phonics/Reading
    • 1st Grade (MFW Learning God’s Story)- Reading Workbook, Bible Reader, and Bible Journal
    • Occasionally we also do sight word flash cards
  • Spelling
    • Rod and Staff -2nd Grade: no testing, using to reinforce reading/phonics skills
    • Rod and Staff- 4th Grade: adds in some simple grammar activities, and is completed quickly
    • Spelling Wisdom Book 1- 4th Grader: two days of study and copywork, one of dictation
  • Copywork/Handwriting
    • Christian Liberty Press Series
    • Printable handwriting pages in sheet protectors with dry erase markers
    • Common Place Notebooking (4th grader)
  • Language Arts
    • Language Lessons for Today – 2nd Grade: reinforces language arts skills from a CM perspective
    • Using Language Well Book 1 – 4th Grader: uses two days a week along with Spelling Wisdom
MFW First Grade Reading Workbook

HISTORY LOOP

  • Story of the Nations
  • YWAM Biography: finishing George Muller then beginning David Livingstone
  • 50 Famous Stories
  • Trial and Triumph
  • Picture Books for Continent of Study (Africa/Middle East)
  • Stories from Ancient Canaan

GEOGRAPHY LOOP

  • Child’s World Atlas
  • Charlotte Mason Elementary Geography
  • Longs Home Geography
  • MFW Exploring Countries and Culture Geography Game
  • Visits to the Middle East map work
  • Cardline: Globetrotters

LITERATURE LOOP

How we enjoy literature on warm days, now its more cuddled up with all the blankets inside.
  • Beautiful Feet Books: Around the World in Picture Books selections
  • Aesops Fables
  • Parables of Nature
  • Just So Stories
  • Pilgrims Progress
  • Age of Fable (4th Grader only)
  • Kidnapped (4th Grader)
  • Understood Betsy (all)
  • Audiobooks- Ambleside Online Free Reads listened to in the car

SCIENCE/NATURE LOOP

  • Burgess Bird Book
  • Property of Ecosystems (small selections)
  • Storybook of Science (4th grader only)
  • Madam How and Lady Why (4th grader only)
  • Paddle to the Sea
  • Nature Walks and Nature Journaling
  • Exploring Nature With Children (loosely)- picture books, nature journaling, phenology wheel, nature walk
Nature Walk with Nature Group who all use Exploring Nature with Children loosely

BEAUTY LOOP

  • Shakespeare: Charles Lambs Shakespeare for Children
  • Fairy Tales: The Blue Fairy Book
  • Ambleside Online Folksong of the Month
  • Poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Artist: Claude Monet- Picture study
  • Composer: Paganini- music appreciation

MATH

  • Rod and Staff Grade 1
  • Rod and Staff Grade 2
  • Rod and Staff Grade 4
  • math games (one day a week)

ARTS/HANDICRAFTS

  • Handicraft: hand sewing
  • Arts: drawing
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Philippians 3

Chapter 3 of Philippians is a guide to use toward following after Christ completely. There are so many good truths, but ultimately Paul is encouraging us to be in Christ. He opens with rejoicing in the Lord.

We need to rejoice in Christ in all we do. Paul shows us how he thought he was following the Lord in all those “rules” he followed before his conversion to follow Christ. None of them gained him true joy.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 4:7
Photo by Thijs van der Weide on Pexels.com

He did all the things that gained him power, prosperity, pride, but none of it was eternal.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Philippians 4:8

Only in losing what Paul valued for selfish gain, does he count a win for Christ. He continues to strive for Christ and His ways, while denying himself and is encouraging us as fellow believers o do the same.

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:14

He continues to implore us to be likeminded two strive towards that Christ-likeness in oneness of spirit, and be an example and testimony to those around us.

He ends the chapter with a reminder of what we were and many still are and how we can turn away from that worldly pursuit, to chase after Christ. For this world is not our own, “Our conversation is in heaven.” We are reminded that one day for those of use who have trusted in Christ we will leave these weak and “vile” human forms and be transformed to that like Christ.

This chapter has me thinking of John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress and Christian’s journey to the celestial city. The image that is painted of crossing that water in the end and being greeted, fully renewed and changed on the other side by the Shining Ones. The gentle reminder that we are Christ’s and we choose how we will spend our earthly days, but our lives are temporal. All ought to be for Christ’s glory, but we must choose to press on towards the high calling He has bestowed upon His children in order to fulfill that calling. Just as Christian passed many temptations and distractions, it was as he stayed on that narrow path of righteousness striving towards that goal of the celestial city, so must we strive on to the high calling of Christ that we may one day be transformed to His glory.

How will strive towards the high calling of Christ this week? That is a lofty question. However it can be met simply by meeting with God regularly, denying our selfish temptations, and sharing the truth, love and joy of Christ with our friends, families, and neighbors. Let’s proudly and boldly take on our week striving for that high calling of bringing glory to Christ.

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Philippians 2

Whoops, a day behind again. Still working on that time management thing.

Let’s continue our journey of joy through the book of Philippians. When I study book I use highlighters of various colors to denote information in the chapter. As Chapter 2 opens with what I color code as “commands,” and what beautiful commands!

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Philippians 2:2

There it is… “fulfill ye my joy.” Some commands are laborious and some are just abysmal, but fullfilling joy, being like minded, having love- these are sweet commands that one wants to fulfill. How though? Joy sounds good, same love ok…but between those is likemindedness. If any of you are married then you know how truly difficult that command is to follow.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Likemindedness and being of one accord does not mean we all agree all the time. This is an important thing for us Christians to remember in this crazy easily offended society we live in today. It simply means we need to look further at verse 5 to fully understand. Our likemindedness does come down to petty things, but to those that concern Christ.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

So how do we fulfill joy? Through the like mindedness, love, humility, and obedience of Christ.

One of our deacons leads the adult Sunday School and this weekend he pointed out how often joy and obedience go hand in hand. Often we do not fill the full joy that Christ has for us because we lack the obedience to the Lord.

How easy it is to see how disobedience brings friction, strife, and heart break to so many Bible characters, but we fail to see it in our own lives. We cannot pick and choose when to obey Christ and the Bible, we must surrender ourselves to full obedience of Christ in order to fully partake of Him and His joy.

The other concept Paul shares that comes with finding that joy? Humility. Humility is an admirable quality. Humility is needful, righteous. Yet so difficult to choose. That root of pride and vanity is rooted in us from day 1. You need only look at the toddler who can’t tear themselves away from their own reflection to see it in children, or social media to see how this translates into adulthood. We struggle with humility. It is difficult to humble ourselves.

When the world says we need to have better self-esteem and take more time for self, it seems hard to obey Christ and to humble ourselves daily. However if the creator of all that exists can humble himself to walk this wicked and broken world, and give to us sinful people love and salvation, how much more can we humble ourselves to our daily routines and interactions?

I love as you continue on reading the chapter you come to this section my bible titles, “obligations of Christians.” Where there isn’t really a checklist like one might expect or even hope. Instead it begins with :

it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

Basically there are some things we need to do, but its ok because God is there with us and will do the work because it brings him pleasure, joy. He goes on to tell us that we must “do all things with our murmurings or disputing” Why? So we can stand blameless before God.

Paul gets it. He tells us he understands that its not easy, we live in a broken, crooked, backwards nation. But, we have hope and joy through God. Because as we strive for that joy through likemindedness of Christ in humility and obedience, when we choose JOY (not complaining) we will shine forth that light of Christ into the world.

So how do we choose JOY? We stop our grumbling and lamenting and comparing, and rejoice in all things. We humble ourselves, lowering our importance and elevating Christ’s importance, by obeying His loving commands.

Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Philippians 2:16

When these are our focus, when we choose JOY, then we can rejoice as we stand before Christ for we know we did as He asked, we ran after the things of His heart, and our labor and trial were not worthless, but instead shared life in this broken world.

Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:17-18

May we all be like Paul, willing to sacrifice all that others may know Christ and follow after Christ. Then we will revel in the joy of Christ and nothing will compare to that eternal joy.

Today I have a common and even popular challenge for you. How will you choose joy this day? this week?

Take a few moments to think about your schedule and obligations this week. Then see where you might be in disobedience to God and change those commitments or plans. See where you might need to humble yourself before God, and make time to meet with Him daily to help set your heart on things above. Then end your prayer with asking God to help you to choose JOY each day and to look for divine opportunities to be the light of Christ in this weary sin-sick world.

How are you choosing JOY today?

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Elderberry Syrup (Herbalism for Beginners)

Have you heard about elderberry syrup? Think its for hippy, crunchy mamas only? Well don’t worry this is super simple and so beneficial! Last year we just bought some gummy versions because I didn’t think I could handle making my own and was a bit skeptical of its benefits.

We used these and they were great, though my children lamented the flavor.

This year my husband heard my pleas for natural remedies and wanting to pursue herbalism! He bought me several herbal books that I have been wanting and pound of dried elderberries. At the same time a sweet fellow Christian herbalist saw my query about what are some great resources and sent me not one, not two but 4 boxes of books! What?! Who does that?! I don’t know her except for a cursory comment in a common facebook group. Hearing I was a pastors wife and that we self pay/health share for our healthcare and were now purposing (husband included) to look for natural remedies (my passion for the last few years) she wanted to help me get started!

This was haul after birthday and first box, that amazing fellow herbalist sent me three more boxes of books!

Anyhoo, I had no excuses for not making elderberry syrup this year! I made my first batch and it lasted us a month and was so needful. However, over Christmas break we ran out as my middle girl and I got a flu bug and used it up. Now I’ve just been putting off making it again. So today is the day!

This recipe is super simple. There are so many varieties of Elderberry Syrup you can make, but I opted for a super simple version from Wellness Mama. She is such a wonderful resource for those branching in to natural lifestyle, and bonus she’s from my neck of the woods. I do tend to have an affinity for fellow Hoosiers!

So have you read through all this and wondering when I’ll finally get to the point? Here is the post from WellnessMama and her easy to follow elderberry syrup recipe. I’ll do my best to walk through the steps in photos. Beware your home will smell so wonderful, but my children said not so much.

So first things first gather your ingredients:

  • 3½ cups water
  • 2/3 cup black elderberries (dried) (online is best way to go if you are new to herbs like me: Mountain Rose is my fave)
  • 2 TBSP ginger (grated) (freeze any leftover pieces of ginger to keep it longer)
  • 1 tsp  cinnamon
  • ½ tsp  ground cloves
  • 1 cup raw honey (local is best if you can- we have several “bee” farms near us and we stock up each fall, plus our local farm store carries local brands too)

First, I add everything except honey to medium sized saucepan that has a cover.

Note these are the amounts for a double batch pictured.

Then bring it all to a boil, cover and lower the heat to a simmer for about an hour. The goal is for the liquid to reduce by approximately half.

Remove it from the heat source, and let it cool just enough that you can stand to touch.

Mash your berries with a spoon or other flat utensils.

Pour through a strainer or cheese cloth into a glass jar or glass bowl.

Discard the elderberries or save to make some elderberry tea.

Allow the liquid to cool a bit longer, lukewarm.

When it is completely cool add in honey and mix well. Pour into a glass jar or bottle with air tight seal.

Store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, or freeze in ice cube trays for smaller doses to thaw as needed.

Some to freeze and some to refrigerate. I throw that leftover ginger root in the freezer.

Here is the rule of dosing we follow, but I am not a medical professional. Always check with your physician, herbalist or naturopath before beginning any new treatments natural or otherwise.

  • Healthy/Everyday Kids (ages 2+)
    • 1/2-1 teaspoon daily
  • Healthy/Everyday Adults
    • 1/2-1 Tablespoon daily
  • During Sickness
    • normal dosage every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear

You may wonder, how does it taste? Well depends. Some really hate it (my kids), some tolerate it (my husband), and some like it (me). We make sure our children know that no matter how something tastes if its “medicine” we take the correct dosage no more, no less. This goes down much faster than the gummies which my children would painfully slowly chew, making the flavor last longer.

Also, please note I do not give this to my toddler. She is under the age of 2, so I try not to giver her honey based remedies. I may try to make it with maple syrup on the next batch so that she can partake too, but honestly she just weaned herself and her immune system is so much better than the rest of us.

So tell me, have you tried making your own elderberry syrup? What else do you include?

This is not personal medical advice and I recommend that you talk with your doctor before starting any new healing methods or treatments.