Why Love needs to be the Heart of the Home{school}

Monday, March 30, 2015

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 
1 Corinthians 13:1
 So begins the famous passage so often read at weddings and so desperately needed in the home and the homeschool.  Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, does not boast… and we can insert the word “Mama” every time we read love for some added effect.  Or guilt.  It depends, doesn’t it?
Mama is patient, kind, not proud, never rude… Mama is not self-seeking, Mama is not easily angered, Mama keeps no records of wrongs…  Mama always protects, always trusts, always hopes…
But does she?
Let me humbly say it- Friends, I’ve been the clanging cymbal.
Oh, yes I have.  And especially with my husband and children, because isn’t it all too often the ones we love most that get the worst of us?
If you’re anything like me, you can spend hours researching books and homeschool curriculum and planning weekly schedules and printing out activities.  We have wonderful ideas for every-which-way to teach.  We post Bible verses on the walls and read our devotions every morning, and we find the best books and the best programs and the best of everything we can get our hands on.
But how many times have we sat down in the quiet and truly considered the reality of 1 Corinthians 13?  Especially in how we relate with our children.
If I have not love…
So, I can plan the most interesting and engaging activities, buy the best books and studies, and teach deep biblical truths – but, if I have not love… I’m just a loud, clattering, annoying cymbal to my children. Anything positive I’m trying to teach gets completely crowded out and stifled by my lack of love.

Ideas for Embracing a Christ-centered Passover

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Over the past couple of years our family has been on a totally unexpected journey.  The Lord has met us in the most beautiful ways and we've started to walk in faith on a very new and unfamiliar (but exciting!) path.

The new path led us to embracing the Biblical Feasts and Holidays.

Oh yeah, and the tiny bit about letting go of the traditional holidays we've celebrated all our lives.Yes, we prayed and sought and tried to will ourselves out of this most 'out of the box' direction, but no matter what we did to wiggle our way out of it, we had no peace.  We knew the Lord was speaking to us and revealing to us that it was time for something different.  Something new.  Something deeper.  Something bible-based and steeped in His truth.

So, wait...Let go of Christmas?Let go of Easter?Let go of Valentine's?

Yes.  We are being called to let go of any 'Holy-day' that is not completely founded in Him and His word.  'Do not follow the ways of the world and the traditions of men...' no, follow what we know in our reluctant spirits.  Follow God's Word.  And there are so many families who are being pulled the same way.  There is a huge movement of Christ-followers who are returning to biblical, Hebrew roots and returning to the feasts and celebrations God gave us in His Word.

And so, this is the path we're on.  And we're wobbling through it.  And I can't even begin to express how new and inexperienced we are on this journey - but we are humbly walking forward in obedience.  And we are experiencing joy and peace and a richness in the Lord that we've never experienced before.  

And Almighty God, Adonai, He is leading us.  And our children?  They are loving every minute of it and growing in their knowledge of God and His Holy Days.  They are embracing something so meaningful, so spiritual, so irreplaceable, so eternal.

I feel nudged to share our messy journey with a humble heart and pray it might inspire you to dig deeper into the truth of God's Word.  To search fervently for His truth in the things we celebrate with our families.  To know for sure what it is we embrace when we say, "Happy Easter" or "Merry Christmas".  

Because when I was willing to dig - I was shocked at what I found.  Shocked at what was really in the 'roots' of these traditions.  And if you're ready and brave and this is new to you, I simply encourage you to pray, seek God's wisdom.  Then, with an open mind and heart look hard into the roots of Easter, Christmas, Valentine's, Halloween, and all the rest of the holidays that have become common place in our culture.

When the Lord began to reveal His plan for our family's celebrations and 'traditions', I was brought to my knees.  God's plan is always so rich.  So beautiful.  So much better than anything we can do on our own.  So profound are His ways.  I am so thankful that the Lord spoke to us.  We are so blessed also for precious friends who shared their hearts in humble spirit.  And thankful for books and resources that all helped us see truth. 

Every single Biblical Holiday is full to the brim with undeniable prophetic truth, much deeper and meaningful celebrations, and truly Christ-centered roots. 

Last year was the first year we embraced Passover.

Passover is one of three biblical holidays we celebrate to remember Christ's death and resurrection. This week, we celebrate the days coming up to Passover, which we will celebrate on Saturday evening.  That is followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, then First Fruits.  Unleavened Bread lasts 7 days.

Yes, Christ is the lamb who was sacrificed on Passover!  Praise His name.Because Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits are actually separate Feasts from Passover, I hope to include a second part to this post, offering ideas for embracing those celebrations.  For this one though, I'm focusing on Passover.

We are embracing feasts that were established in the Old Testament, honoured by Christ Jesus, and prophesied of the wonderful, amazing truth of Christ, our Saviour.

One thing I had to wrap my mind around when we started embracing the biblical feasts is that the Hebrew Calendar is not the same as our calendar so Passover (along with all the other feasts) will almost never fall on the same day or day of the week in our 'Roman' calendar.  This year Passover and "Easter" are very close in timing, however, many years they are up to a month apart.

So... here are some of the ways we are embracing a Christ-centered Passover this year.

Studying a Biblical Passover-

My sweet friend Robin at Heart of Wisdom was so kind to give me a copy of Adam to Messiah for review.  I was in the midst of reading through the volumes to post a detailed review (coming soon!) when I was prompted to check for a lesson related to Passover.  I flipped to the Ancient Egypt Book and voila!  So, we'll be using this lesson for this week.  Maybe this is a mini 'plug' for the Adam to Messiah curriculum, because WOW do I love this!  I am so excited about implementing this into our homeschool!!!

We will be doing the following from the lesson:

-Make a list of the plagues, from memory if possible.  Then read Psalm 78.  Which plagues are mentioned?

-Once the plagues are listed (on chalk board), I will hand the children their own little pictures of the plagues, which they will attempt to put in order (by memory).

-Copying scripture for copywork.

-Reading through the account of the exodus found in the Old Testament.

-We will also discuss the prophetic and deeper meanings to the plagues.  For example, the Nile was the Egyptians' idol which God defeated by turning the Nile to blood.  The blood is also a symbol of how blood thirsty and sinful the Egyptians were to slaughter the Hebrews' children.  The frogs represented the fertility goddess, Isis.  Once the plague came, the dead frogs, which we supposed to symbolize life, were left in heaping piles as a reminded of God's supreme power and glory over the false gods of Egypt.

Can you think of the 10 plagues from memory?

Can we put the plagues in order?

Easy copywork for lapbooks.

 Reading through the Passover Story in one of our Children's Bibles:

I got this bible on discount years ago, and it has been one of our favourites!

The Story of Christ (object lessons from our Pesach Box):

I love all these little symbolic pieces, each one representing a part of the story of Christ's death and resurrection.  They are so tactile and the children are filled with memories upon taking them out of the box.  I salvaged these from our old 'Resurrection Eggs'... I wasn't comfortable with the eggs but still felt the symbols were very fitting for Passover so I saved them, and I'm glad I did.

You can easily find many of these things around the house or make them out of crafting items.  I encourage you to be creative!

I believe this year, I'll implement this into our Lapbooks as well.  (I'll share this year's lapbooks at the end of Unleavened Bread, Lord willing.)

Symbolic Meanings and Readings:

The Donkey reminds us of Christ's entry into Jerusalem. 
Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:8

The Coins reminds us of the thirty pieces if silver Judas received for the betraying of Jesus into the hands of the Jewish leaders. 
Matthew 26: 14-16

The cup reminds us of Jesus last supper with his disciples before His crucifixion. It was what was used for the wine, which is drunk in memory of Christ's blood that He shed for us and our sins. 
Matthew 26:17-19, Exodus 12:23

The praying hands reminds us of Jesus visiting the garden of Gethsemane to pray. 
Mark 14:32-42

The leather reminds us the whip used to give Jesus 39 lashes after His trial by Pilate. 
John 19:1-15, Matthew 27:26-31

The crown of thorns reminds us of the crown that the soldiers placed on Jesus' head while mocking Him.
Matthew 27:29 

The nails remind us of the nails that were driven into Jesus' hands and feet to nail Him to the cross. 
John 19: 16-22 

The dice reminds us of the Roman soldiers gambling for Jesus' robe. 
 John 19: 23-25 

The spear reminds us what the Roman soldiers used to pierce Jesus' side when He was on the cross. 
John:19 31-37 

The gauze reminds us of the linen cloth used by Joseph of Arimathea to wrap Jesus' body after He died on the cross. 
Matthew 20: 57-61 

The stone reminds us of the tomb were the stone rolled away. 
Matthew: 28:1-2

The basin and towel reminds us of how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples on the night before He died.
John 13:1-7

The lamb reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the One True Passover Lamb who died once and for all so we may be cleansed of our sins and draw close to the Him.
John 1:29

The two candles are the Sabbath Candles that remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World.
John 8:12

I found all the symbols in clip-art form and printed them off for the children to put in order as we work through all the symbols in our Pesach box.  

Passover Supper

For our celebration of the Last Supper (Passover dinner), we plan to enjoy a special meal together. 

We don't do a traditional Sedar.  There are many parts of the Sedar that I don't necessarily feel prompted to embrace at this time.  For us, we focus on the Bread and the Cup as Christ said these two things were symbolic of His body and His blood.  

We will eat Unleavened Bread together and read through many scriptures together to remind us of what  Christ Jesus (Y'eshua) has done for us through His sacrifice.

We will also embrace and discuss the four cups.  Each cup has deep significance and are referred to in Exodus 6.  We will have 4 separate wine glasses with grape juice and will read through the assigned readings together.  

This is also when we will search for Leaven in our home and prayerfully do our best to rid our home of leaven for our embracing of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The 10 Plagues Symbolic Activity

We have been following (loosely, mind you) the ideas shared here for the 10 Plagues Adventure.  We are only on Day 5, but it has been really neat to see the kids make the connections.

Other Readings and Activities:

  • reading through all of the account of the Exodus and the Passover as well as scriptures referring to Christ's death and resurrection as well as references to Christ as the Lamb, and as the Shepherd.
  • making our flags for Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits.
  • reading through corresponding sections of the Victor Journey Through the Bible.
  • Reading several picture books corresponding to Passover
  • Copywork with scriptures and art.  We will start with John 10:11 and a picture of a lamb from Draw Write Now.
  • Sketching a Lamb
  • Reading about Sheep in the Bible with our Big Bible Guide (we love this book)
  • Poetry study - "God Speaks" by Lucy Martin from All Day Long from Christian Light Publications (Love this poetry book!)
  • Hymn study - Oh, the Blood of Jesus
  • Hebrew - learning the words to Oh, the Blood of Jesus in Hebrew
  • Poetry for Copywork - Passover by Myra Cohn Livingston

Picture study, a painting by Robert Bateman.

We love this Poetry book from Christian Light Publications, highly recommend it!

The Big Bible Guide (Creation and Animals)
We will work at learning the words in Hebrew to "Oh, the Blood".  We love Joshua Aaron and use his cds to not only worship the Lord, but learn Hebrew!

We will also be doing a neat activity, matching the truths about how Christ Jesus is displayed in every part of Passover.  We will be using this chart from A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays.  I highly (HIGHLY) recommend this book if you are looking to embrace the feasts, it has been a huge blessing to us.

I created this for our lapbooks.

Other Lapbook Elements from this year:

Some Ideas for Passover Lapbooks {these are the ones we created last year}:

Some Links:

A fun Matzah cover handicraft
These 10 Plagues story prompts
A Sedar learning plate, similar to this one
Activity Ideas for Passover from Heart of Wisdom
Ann Voskamp's family Passover celebration and thoughts
Free Christian Passover Sedar printable
Really neat Passover Sedar from Passion for Truth Ministries
From the Passover Lamb to the Lamb of God from Focus on the Family

I love this video from Passion for Truth.  This is a homeschooling family who embrace a biblical, Hebrew Roots walk.  Download their free Haggadah right here.

Free Calendar of Firsts from WinterPromise

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hooray, Charlotte Mason Freebies!

I am happy to share this free download of a lovely Calendar of Firsts from WinterPromise.

This is the perfect timing to compliment the recent Charlotte Mason Monday post about Calendar of Firsts!

Also, there are some other great studies available free for download from WinterPromise on the same link page.

WinterPromise is Christian, Charlotte Mason-based, and family run.

Their site is definitely worth checking out!


Scripture Memory Box and Prayer Baskets {Charlotte Mason Monday}

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Family meal times are a special time to come together and enjoy each other's company and fellowship.  We have been blessed to spend pretty much every dinnertime meal all together since we started a family.  And as home schoolers, I get to spend every lunch hour with the children too!

When the children were very little, we found it challenging to keep them seated and establish the habit of patience and attention as they ate (or didn't eat...).

We started reading books and scripture at dinner first to simply keep the children entertained!  We had no idea it would turn into such a cherished family habit.  There is rarely a meal time when we don't read and pray together, which has been a rich blessing.

Beyond reading our scriptures and stories together, there are some other neat 'habits' we've found fun and engaging to establish as a family.  I thought I'd share them today for Charlotte Mason Monday.

The Scripture Memory Box

It's incredibly important to me that our family focus on memorizing scripture together.  We haven't always done so well with this but it is a work in progress.  I am posting this today to also encourage myself to be more consistent with this, because it is so foundational to our walk with God.  It is also a big part of the Charlotte Mason education - not only memorization but specifically memorization of God's word.

A couple years ago, I found the Scripture Memory System on Simply Charlotte Mason.  I found their instructions for how to use it incredibly comprehensive, so you can easily link in to the SimplyCharlotteMason.com site and follow along with their instructions and videos.

Here is how we use the Scripture Memory Box in our home.

First, I found the perfect little wooden box and actually spent hours cutting and pasting all the little tabs, creating it just like the one on the site.   Then, I purchased a package of index cards and copied verses we had already learned or that I wanted our family to learn onto them.  I stacked all the verses in the front of the box for future use.  We would only have one verse to start with!

There are a LOT of tabs.  Here you can see the Daily, Odd, Even, days of the week (Sunday to Saturday), and then the numbered days of the month(s).

Here's how we've used the Scripture Memory Box:

1. Every day we read the "Daily" verse.  Once we have (somewhat) mastered the Daily verse, it moves to the next position in the box and we select a new Daily verse.  Eventually in doing this, the entire box and all the tabs will be full.  We're not there yet...

2. Then we read the Odd/Even card.  These tabs are verse cards which are read on either an odd day (in the numbered calendar) or even day.  For example, if it is March 22nd, it is an EVEN day. If it is March 23rd, it is an ODD day.

3. Then we read the day of the week card.  If it's Monday, we read the verse behind the Monday tab.

4. Then we also read the numbered tab which corresponds with the date.  Again, if it is March 22nd, we read the verse behind number 22.

So, at first, you will not have 4 verses to review every day because you won't have filled all those spaces.  Within a few months, you will have all the spaces filled and you should be reviewing 4 verses every day.

Make sense?  I hope so!

Prayer Baskets

We started our Prayer Basket a long time ago.  This is a very simple way to implement praying for other people at meal times.  Instead of our meal time prayer becoming repetitive and self-focused, we can mix it up quite nicely by encouraging ourselves to pray for others.

It's very simple.  We just write down the names of people, countries, organizations, people groups, cultures, issues, etc. on small pieces of card stock.  (We are always adding to our basket.)  Then, we put all those pieces of paper in a basket and draw from it at meal times.  Whatever we draw out, we pray about during that prayer time.

This has been a lot of fun for our children, as drawing that card is exciting and interesting.  It has also added to our prayer life and encouraged us all in the habit of interceding.

A recent addition to our Prayer Basket idea was this one - a Prayer Basket for Admiration.  I really love the acronym for prayer, ACTS.  A is Admiration, C is Confession, T is Thanksgiving, and S is Supplication.  I suppose the first Prayer Basket was really one of Supplication (praying for others).  But I was feeling led to focus also on our Admiration of God.  (Makes me think we need to also include Thanksgiving and Confession in this mix... hmmm!)

Anyways, what I did one morning on a sudden inspiration was this - I started writing down praises to the Lord on little pieces of card stock.  I just kept writing every attribute of the Lord I could think of and then opened up Psalms and kept right on writing.  Then I pulled the 'Names of God' chart of the fridge and wrote down Hebrew names for God and their meanings.

My hope is to start (this week!) pulling two of these papers out of this basket every time we pray together so that we can also show the Lord our admiration in a fun and intentional way.

And upon request, I'm sharing photos of all our (up to now, I'm sure we'll add more) cards for Admiration:

Praying this might bless you in some way with some ideas to deepen your family's prayer life as you grow together.

(love and hugs)

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