Pardon the Mess

We (OK, Jesse) got the spammy stuff out of the blog, but my blog design got caught in the crossfire. Oh, well. I was thinking of a redesign anyway. Try not to notice all the ugly going on around here for a few days (or weeks). Thanks!

Pasta Primavera

Pasta PrimaveraOr some approximation thereof.

It has been a while since we’ve had a recipe, hasn’t it? Well, this is more of a round-about way of making a meal than it is a proper recipe. I never make it the same way twice. And hillbillies don’t know much about Primas, though I do know an old lady named Vera; so this primavera is probably not remotely authentic. If you have a grill, then fire that thing up instead of the oven. I do not have a grill, sadly, so I have to heat up my kitchen to make it.:

Pasta Primavera
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: ha!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Pasta, roasted veggies, cheese.
Ingredients
  • Use any of the following vegetables in any amounts you like. More veggies=more love, so don't be skimpy about it.:
  • 2 zucchini, julienned
  • 2 yellow squash, julienned
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1 onion, julienned
  • ½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, whole, outer paper removed
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ Tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper (Freshly ground, but I don't need to tell you that, right? Right?)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 1 pound spaghetti or other pasta
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400.
  2. Toss veggies (except tomatoes) and seasonings in oil, then spread in a single layer over two baking sheets.
  3. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.
  4. Wrap head of garlic in foil, with a little olive oil drizzled over it, and throw the packet on a baking sheet.
  5. Roast the veggies for about 25 minutes.
  6. If your oven won't hold both pans on one rack, switch the top and bottom pans halfway through for even browning.
  7. Add the tomatoes to the top pan in the last five minutes of cooking. You just want to warm them up a little, not cook them much.
  8. While veggies are cooking, prepare pasta according to package directions.
  9. Drain pasta, then melt butter in the pasta pot. (How much? How much butter do *you* like? Let's say half a stick)
  10. Remove the garlic from its foil, adding any oil from the packet to the melted butter. Let it cool a little bit, then smash the roasted garlic from its casing using a big flat knife like a chef's knife. (This part is fun if you do it right. Cut the root end of the garlic off and smoosh from the pointed tips of the cloves and it should squeeze right out.)
  11. Give the garlic a few good smashes with the knife to make a paste.
  12. Add the spaghetti, veggies (along with their oil), mashed garlic, and parmesan cheese back to the pot, and toss to mix.
  13. Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

So, there you go. One of my favorite pasta dishes. Hope you like it!

It Ain’t That Hard

If you want your comment published (and if you comment, then I assume you do), there are only a very few things you need to do to succeed. Don’t muck up my comments with your dishonest tactics:

  • Leave a real email address. You can reach me in numerous ways. I don’t blog or comment anonymously. Please demonstrate enough spine to offer me the same courtesy.
  • Use valid arguments, not ad hominem. I just don’t have time to defend myself from that crap. I’m raising children over here. If you want to talk about me, rather than what I’m saying, use your own space to do so.
  • Don’t use multiple aliases. I don’t mind if you change your name every now and then, but when it’s the same person saying the same thing all the time under different names, I do catch on.

You could read my comments policy, but if you have no time for it, this short list will probably be enough to prevent you from ending up like those who have already been banned for these annoyances. Good grief.

Measuring Motherhood

What is motherhood really worth?

If you’ve been on Facebook around Mother’s Day, or spent any time at all reading mom blogs, you’ll have seen numerous articles about how much real money a mom is worth. You know the ones. They add up the yearly wages of chauffeur, chef, daycare provider, psychologist, nurse, etc., and that’s how much you’re really worth, Mom! This past Mother’s Day, there was a very sneaky bit of advertising wrapped up in a video about how motherhood is “the hardest job in the world” and pays nothing. Nothing at all. (And now that you’re feeling guilty, kids, you need to fork over your whole allowance to buy an amazing gift for that completely unappreciated mom in your life!)

Eh. Maybe motherhood is that hard, maybe it isn’t. What I’m more concerned about is what it says about our society that we mothers so need our value to be defined in dollars and cents and hours “worked” that, instead of being ignored as the irrelevancies that they are, these things get passed around like a cold virus in a mid-winter Sunday School class. These articles, infographics, and videos all play to our desire to be appreciated, not by our own immediate families, but by the Joneses.  It’s not our children or husbands that we’re aiming at when we repost these things. We know they love us. We know they know how much they need us. It’s distant relatives, friends, and even strangers that we’re trying to convince. We look at the wider world and beg “Please, appreciate us! Look how much we do! Look how much money we’re worth!”

What motivates you as a mother? I can tell you what motivates me, and it’s the blossoming of my children under my care. I know I’m not alone in that. Nobody really measures that relationship in cash. It’s when we turn our faces from the people who make us mothers, and stare into the faces of strangers that we suddenly we feel the need to justify ourselves in terms of dollars and cents.

If we had any sense of our own real value, we’d find these memes insulting, not inspiring.

Think about it for a moment. Is a prostitute more valuable to a john than you are to your own husband, just because money changes hands? Do you measure that intimate relationship in terms of dollars per transaction? No? Then why try to measure something as priceless as motherhood in currency? Why do we think that being able to put a dollar amount on those things we do makes us seem more valuable, rather than less? All of the things that we can pay–are, in fact, encouraged to pay–other people to do for our children do not add up to our true worth. There is an insidious strain of thought in our culture that serves to separate us from our most important work–that of raising our children–by making all other jobs but motherhood out to be fairly compensated. If you cheapen motherhood, you cheapen the people mothers serve, as well, and the Enemy knows that quite well, so he does everything he can to make mothers look elsewhere for their sense of self-worth.

If you’ve been here for a while, or if you’ve read my ebook, you’ll be familiar with my story about the second grade teacher who taught me that “mother” is not something worth aspiring to. I suspect that the reason we’re all so desperate to prove our cash value is that, like little Cindy long ago, we’ve been taught that the only way to be a grown-up is to bring home a paycheck. Further, I suspect that the reason we’ve been taught that a paycheck equates to usefulness, and the reason that government schools love feminism so much, is because government schools are tax-supported, and you can’t tax mere motherhood. You can only tax income.

And so, from our earliest grade-school lessons, income has become the only value we know how to assign people.

The trouble with the dollar value model of measuring motherhood is that you can’t pay a chauffeur to have a heart-to-heart in the car about the way the rest of the girls treated your daughter after dance class. You can’t pay a daycare worker to look lovingly into your baby’s eyes and tell him he’s still loved while she cleans up the accident that so embarrassed him. You can’t pay a housekeeper to pray over the people to whom the house she’s cleaning belongs.

You can pay people to do the physical act of care-giving, but you can’t pay people to love your children while they do it.

We women have outsourced so much of our physical labor, and not just as mothers, but as daughters, neighbors, and church family, that society has lost its understanding of our spiritual value as care-givers. Most people in our culture in this neglected generation haven’t often felt the difference between care administered for pay and care administered out of love and concern for the well-being of the recipient. We’ve gotten used to being “served” in any number of intimate ways by people who don’t really care a hill of beans about our spiritual condition. But we are people, not machines. We need to be served, not serviced. On a gut level it will always matter to our children whether the people around them would still care if they weren’t paid to.

Motherhood isn’t cheap. It costs us everything we have sometimes, doesn’t it? But it is free! And we do ourselves no favor when we encourage others to view it as a merely financial transaction. To assign a dollar value to what we give daily as mothers only cheapens the relationship. It’s time we reject these cheap, manipulative demands for cultural validation and instead learn to respect the sanctity of our unpaid, often difficult, even lonely, but indispensable and invaluable private duties to our families.

grrrr

I’m working to figure out what’s going in with the spam in the rss feed. Something was hacked. Obviously. Stay with me. I’ll get it fixed. :-)

Permission to Be Ordinary

Homeschooling is going mainstream, and we’re about to lose one of our favorite arguments for it. 

Homeschooling is kind of an extraordinary thing to do, isn’t it? Even with the rapidly rising numbers of homeschooling families each year, we’re still in the minority (for now). Nearly every weekday outing I take with my kids requires me to explain to someone why my older children aren’t in school. People still don’t think of children staying with their mothers all day as a very normal thing. Parents just aren’t qualified to raise kids, you know.

When we think of homeschooling, we still think of violin-playing spelling bee champions with 140 IQ’s who were just too smart for normal school. And you know what? There really are a lot of home educated kids like that! It isn’t at all surprising that homeschoolers like to promote as much good press as we can for ourselves. Here’s a popular infographic, and I think it has some interesting facts that ought to be considered:

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure UpSource: TopMastersInEducation.com

Stories in the news like this family with seven kids in college by the time they were twelve years old, and blog posts asserting that homeschooled kids are 120% more smarter than public schooled kids are constantly circulating the web, not because those are our best reasons for homeschooling, but because to be able to associate ourselves with such an outstanding group of people easily counters the arguments of which we grow so weary.

“You’re not qualified.”

“They’ll never get into college.”

“Homeschoolers are bad at math.”

Just a few weeks ago I had to listen to my neighbor explain to me that I can’t possibly teach my children math in the higher grades, so I’d better be ready to send them to school by eighth grade. (I’ve learned to just nod my head and pretend that I’m going to take that brand-new, brilliant idea into consideration. I really don’t care what the neighbors think.)

We homeschoolers love this kind of evidence that homeschooling “works” because pointing to other people’s results is a lot easier than explaining our core reasons for keeping our children at home. Our motives are good and wholesome and altogether defensible, but because we live in a society that scarcely even understands what education is for, those points also take longer to explain and upset people more often than the academic argument.

I have to wonder, though, if we’re not accidentally making the task of defending our choice harder by using these kinds of things to bolster our case. You see, our stellar statistics and outliers like the “Brainy Bunch” family set some unrealistic expectations for normal kids. The first generation of homeschoolers was almost certainly an unusual group of people. It seems to me that they required a unique set of characteristics–qualities that usually go hand-in-hand with high intelligence and academic achievement–to be able to boost the homeschooling movement from the gravitational pull of traditional education. That first generation had, at the very least, enough imagination to dream it up, confidence to follow through, ingenuity to figure out how, resourcefulness to keep it going under pressure, and courage to fight the courts and social stigma.

As homeschooling becomes more mainstream, though, we are going to see some regression to the mean (though I doubt that we could ever regress to the abysmal performance of public schools). Because homeschooling really is a viable and superior alternative, and for reasons that have little to do with math, more and more parents who would never have considered such a thing before are going to jump on the bandwagon.

Those stellar statistics are going to level out, homeschoolers.  At some point, our neighbors are probably going to notice that some of us are pretty awful at math and science, and most of our children are going to trade schools or straight to the workforce instead of to Harvard. For that reason, it would be good if we kept our debating skills sharp, so that we can explain why homeschooling is well within our rights, regardless of our outcomes. If our best defense of home education is that other homeschoolers are really smart, we are sunk, because most of us are going to be graduating children who become ordinary people.

And that’s OK. Cashiers and plumbers, homemakers and factory workers are every bit as necessary to the functioning of society as engineers and political leaders.

Homeschoolers, as much as we cheer for greatness and excellence, and hope to see our children attain the absolute pinnacle of their personal capabilities, we need to give ourselves permission to be ordinary. The rightness of our choice to raise our own children isn’t predicated on our academic results or our children’s future earnings. It is based solely in our right and responsibility to raise our own children for the Glory of God. (Yes, I am aware that many people homeschool without any religious purpose, but they still have that right and responsibility, whether they know it or not.)

If we don’t keep our focus on that first principle, we’re going to make life mighty hard for our kids who are better at bricklaying than calculus. Not only that, but we might find our right to raise our own children, so hard won by the first generation of homeschoolers, diminished by our own focus on the wrong point. We need to speak the language of liberty when we defend our choices, rather than flashing the gaudy plumage of worldly success.

Test scores may temporarily dazzle our opponents into silence, but they will not stand the test of time like the simple truths of God-given rights and individual responsibility.

 

Samaritan Ministries

SamaritanChildren don’t cost a dime, as I like to point out to people who ask me how I afford all these kids. Hospitals, on the other hand…

Several readers have asked me to tell them more about Samaritan Ministries. Our family joined Samaritan Ministries back in August. Between the so-called “individual mandate,” and the fact that our high-deductible insurance kept getting more and more expensive while decreasing in usefulness, we decided to get out of traditional health insurance. I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to participate in a thing less than a know-it-all government telling me I have to, or else pay a fine tax whatever they’re calling it this week to make it seem legal.

However, I don’t like breaking laws (even questionable ones like this), so we couldn’t just not have coverage of any kind. Fortunately, members of health care needs sharing ministries like Samaritan are exempt from the individual mandate, so there is a way to both buck the system* and appease the IRS when tax time rolls around and you have to prove your health-care status. (Is is just me, or does the whole idea of America seem like a distant dream these days? Don’t ever tell me public schools don’t work. They function exactly as intended, and we have the cowed and docile populace to prove it. I know, off topic, but I haven’t blogged in a while, so I have to talk about everything all at once. Stick with me. It’ll get better in a few posts.)

Need-sharing is a pretty simple idea. Instead of paying a third party you simply send your monthly share amount to the person assigned to you by the ministry. When you have needs that are shareable, you submit your bills and the ministry sends your name and address out to others so that they can share with you. I didn’t want to jump in and tell all about need-sharing until I was sure of the way it works, and whether it works, so I’ve been waiting for my bills to come due for the baby before I wrote this post. Well, here he is!

 

Cute, huh?

And here the bill is!

 

A better way to pay for health care.

Not so cute.

And that’s doesn’t even include the anesthesiologist. Or the doctor. Or the baby’s hospital stay. Or the pediatrician. Wowza. This is kind of terrifying, isn’t it?

But it doesn’t have to cost that much. One of the many things I love about Samaritan is that they will help you negotiate down the costs of your health care. I have called for myself a few times and asked various offices for discounts, and sometimes I even get them, but the professionals do a much better job of that because they know more about the inner workings of the (criminally ridiculous) financial side of health care. Always ask for help.

Does it work? Yes! While I have been skeptical that everything would be paid on time–after all, we’re depending on people we don’t know and who could flake out any time–the bills that I submitted earlier have been paid, and I’m confident that this bill will be paid, as well. (Samaritan will always make certain that shares not received are reassigned to other members as quickly as possible.) In addition to providing funds, members pray for each other, and there is always someone available at the ministry to pray for us, as well. There are, however, times when the amount submitted is more than the amount of money available, and then members receive less than the full amount of their bills. The ministry does have its ups and downs, life being unpredictable the way it is.

Who is Samaritan for? The most important requirement is that you be a church-attending Christian, and not engaging in any risky or immoral behavior. The reason for that is that this is a religious ministry for believers who want to depend on their brothers and sisters when they need help. It is not a health insurance plan. Samaritan is most likely a good choice for any Christian who pays for their own health care. It is a GREAT choice for anyone who hates the current state of health insurance and wishes to take action instead of just complaining about it.

Who is it not for? People with a lot of pre-existing conditions might not want to go this route. We have several conditions in our family that we have to cover out-of-pocket, and we’ve been blessed to be able to do so, but that is a down-side of this kind of thing. If you do join, the ministry shares these kinds of needs as “special prayer needs,” and many members (ourselves included) make an effort to send whatever they can for these kinds of special needs. So even those things may be less of a burden than you’d think.

What is covered? Any non-pre-existing need over $300 is covered, with exceptions for things like illnesses and injuries related to immoral behavior. Routine physicals and pre-existing conditions are not covered, nor are vaccinations, birth control, or baby murder. You always cover the first $300 of any need, but any discounts you receive are applied to that amount, so you can often end up will full coverage. There is a limit per need (not per year, as I had said earlier), but you’ll need to browse the literature to really dig into all the details. Even with these exceptions, we’ve found it to be quite affordable.

Does this post mean you’re blogging again? Yes! I missed you people. I hope you don’t mind if I blog some more, but if you do…well, don’t let the door hit ya.

Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with every detail of our good experiences thus far with Samaritan Ministries, but it has been good, so I thought you’d like to know. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can download an information packet or watch an introductory video.

Please note that I am not an expert on all things Samaritan, nor am I associated with them except as a member. I’m just explaining things to some people who asked, and this post is not meant to be taken as expert advice on the subject. So don’t blame Samaritan if I’ve misunderstood something. However, if you decide to sign up for Samaritan after hearing about it from me, I’d love for you to name our family (Jesse and Cindy Dyer) as your referral. It helps cover a portion of a monthly share when we get sign-ups.

Teach Them Diligently

We were on a break!

But! I’m interrupting this very peaceful time of not-blogging to remind you that there are still two chances to attend Teach Them Diligently in 2014. The first two events were by all accounts even better than they were last year, so you really need to get yourself there.

After you register, take advantage of the Refer-a-Friend program to save a little money by earning TTD Bucks to spend at the convention, or even win a free hotel stay for your trip!

teachthemdiligently

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links support this site. Thank you for buying through our links!

I Think This is it.

The Big One.

The one where I really do quit.

I am, and have been for some months, tired of this.

Tired of hitting “publish” and then constantly being surprised by what really sets people off.

Stupid stuff I write in five minutes on a whim goes viral and the content that means something, and should be passed around and appreciated is basically ignored. TL;DR, dude.

I’m tired of butting my head against walls too hard even for my steel-plated, rhino-skinned noggin.

Tired of fielding questions I’ve already answered from people who can’t be bothered to read me right the first time, or at least use the stinking “search” feature to see if I’ve already covered that.

I’m tired of even the fun stuff–the lighthearted and funny and life-affirming stuff that I’m pretty sure I used to crank out every now and then.

I avoided posting this on April Fool’s day because I may be a fool, but I’m not kidding. I’m done, for now. I don’t know if I’ll be back. I want to come back. I have a pretty big attachment to the writing I’ve done, such as it is, so I’m going to maintain this site.You can still read my free ebook, and I hope you will:

Childfree missions? Terrible, terrible idea.

.

 

I may even pop in from time to time with the things that I have a burning need to write. Sometimes I really can’t help myself. Taking this blog down would be a lot like blowing up my toilet just because I was constipated. Eventually, I will need to go. Wouldn’t want to destroy the only safe and sanitary place I can put it when I do.

I may regain the ability to care in the future. This may be just a season. For now, though, I’m done.

Thank you (most of you) so much for reading, for encouraging me, for sharpening my thinking, for just existing. You’re not what I’m leaving. You, the readers and commenters, I will miss. Already do.

I just don’t have much to offer you right now.

Besides, could you take your eyes off this long enough to write anything?

Baby6

Because I can’t. Motherhood calls. Bliss!

 

 

 

Comments Off

Sorry to do that to you so soon after a post. Long unplugged weekend coming up here. And by “weekend” I probably mean “you won’t hear from me until the birth announcement.” I’m 36 weeks now, and have no desire to blog. Unless something else grabs my attention, I guess. Anyway, have a good one!

Intentionally Childless Missionaries?

Childfree missions? Terrible, terrible idea.

Pastor John Piper advises Christians to sow the seeds of Western social sickness in other countries.

One of the things that has baffled me about the pastors in our times is their inability (or outright refusal) to consistently apply scripture to one of the defining issues of our times: birth control. They’re pro-life, but not necessarily pro-conception. Pro-marriage, but not pro-childbearing—at least not beyond that number of children that society has decided is “reasonable”. They’re convinced of God’s sovereignty as the Giver, Sustainer, and Taker of life, but still blissfully unaware of the presumptuousness inherent in the routine prevention of life. Most of the time, the issue of conception remains unaddressed in the pulpit and the pastor’s office while we wrestle instead with the sins of abortion, divorce, and homosexuality.

But once conception becomes a choice we allow ourselves to make, rather than a gift God graciously bestows on us, we Christians put ourselves on same slippery slope at the bottom of which we now find our unbelieving Western world–as this blogger calls it, we’ve embraced the “fetishization of marriage”. Marriage is for us alone, for our pleasure, for the serving of our own needs and lusts. We can do marriage however we see fit. It is ours.

Now, marriage certainly is meant to fulfill our emotional and sexual needs. But that is not all it is meant to do. Sadly, even our most important public Christian voices, our most loving and Godly pastors, seem to be happy to compromise the institution of marriage, as long as it is in the service of what they see as a good cause.

Unlike me (Hi, I’m Cindy. Just a housewife with a blog.), John Piper requires no introduction. Multitudes follow him closely, and I count myself among them. I enjoy his thoughts on Christian hedonism, God’s sovereignty in suffering, and race relations within the Church. I can’t peer into hearts, but when he speaks and writes, I feel pretty certain that I’m listening to a man who really, really loves and trusts in the Lord. He’s pretty thoroughly biblical, and always thoughtful. But in his daily “Ask Pastor John” spot yesterday, he advised a young lady in a way that makes me think he didn’t give a lot of thought to his answer before he dove in. I’ll transcribe a little bit of it, but you should listen to the whole thing to understand what I’m addressing, so that you don’t get the idea that he went completely off the rails with his answer. He makes a few reasonable-sounding points, but they’re not strong enough to support his conclusion.

The questioner asked:

“I’m a 20 year old woman who by God’s leading wants to live among unreached people-groups in India or the Middle East. I’ve never had the desire to have my own kids, even though I love kids, and the guy I’m currently dating doesn’t either. If we get married, we see ourselves living as Paul-type missionaries. Practically speaking, it makes sense to not have kids.”

And she goes on a little, and then Pastor John says, essentially, “Yes! Missionaries are in extraordinary circumstances and can be assured that there is Bible teaching to back up the idea of being married but refusing children.” Somehow he missed the fact that Paul-type missionaries are only childless because they are unmarried.

Now, this young lady is quite obviously aware (somewhat shockingly, in this ignorant age) of the connection between marriage, sex, and children, and also of God’s social design for the institution of marriage, or else she wouldn’t have couched her question in terms of “but isn’t it ok for us to refuse to have children if we can say it’s for God’s sake?” Is there any doubt that this young woman is searching for absolution from what she knows to be disobedience in ordinary circumstances by claiming her extraordinary calling as an exemption from the rule?

The tip-off here is the fact that she started her question with an explanation that she doesn’t particularly want children, but she does want the benefits of this young man’s sexual companionship for the rest of her life. If this was really a question about the best way to be a missionary, she’d have started there, not with her own feelings about kids and her (current) boyfriend.

Pastor John’s answer, though at least (thankfully) enthusiastic about the blessing of children, and rather cautiously given, still leaves the listener with the idea that children are a choice, and that they could be a liability to the Creator’s work. He managed to forget that the Creator of those unreached peoples (and they do have children in India, don’t they?) is also the Creator of the children of the missionaries who serve there, and He is a Creator who knows what He is doing when He creates life.

I see no need to rewrite my own words, so in answer to this, I’m simply going to quote from a chapter from Deceived: Little Lies…

We think we know better.

Among the arguments for the superiority of “planned” families is the idea that God wants us to use our own understanding to find the optimal number of children for our abilities and desired lifestyle. Even though He said to be fruitful and multiply, even though He cares for the children of the poor as well as those of the wealthy, even though He never even hinted in His word that limiting the growth of the human race would help right the wrongs of the Curse, we believe that we moderns at long last know better than He. We seem to think that He left something out of His written Word, or that biblical counsel isn’t quite enough to help us think about modern technological advances.

At the extreme end of that argument, I’ve even heard it said that having fewer children means being able to give even more of our lives to God’s real work, so it’s selfish to have too many children to tie us to the home. (emphasis added) Women with fewer children can minister more outside the home, where all the real needs are. They can take paying jobs and donate more money to charities. They’ll be better rested, and hence more capable of raising the few children they have with joy. Instead of adding more sinners to the world, we’ll just save the ones already born, they say.

This idea that through modern contraception we have this new, wonderful way to help God redeem His world reminds me of the account of Saul’s disobedience to God in 1 Samuel 15. God had told Saul and the Israelites, through His prophet Samuel, not to spare any of the Amalekites’ people or possessions as they conquered them. The Israelites, though, thought they knew better. Saul captured the king of the Amalekites instead of killing him, and the people saved the best of the livestock as well. And why?

Well, I suspect that it was really for their own gain, and they would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for that pesky prophet! But Saul gave a novel excuse for his disobedience when Samuel caught him with his hand in the cookie jar: It was all done to help God!

You see, all they wanted to do was sacrifice these animals to please the Lord. It seemed such a shame to waste them. The Israelites somehow just knew, against the plain words that Samuel had spoken in the presence of all of them, that God didn’t really mean all that stuff about wiping out the enemy as they took the land. They could serve Him much, much better by saving the animals for sacrifice.

And Samuel said:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

and to listen than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,

and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,

he has also rejected you from being king.”–1 Samuel 15:22-23

We have a direct command from God as descendants of both Adam and Noah to “be fruitful and multiply,” and we have many indications of His continued approval of human procreation throughout the rest of the Bible. He wants to bless the faithful with overflowing homes!

But we think we know better now. We want to say we are “sacrificing” our natural ability to have children so that we can do “more” for Him–or do more for ourselves, when we’re so bold as to admit that motive. It seems a shame to us to waste all that female human potential just popping out babies.

But is this what God has asked of us? Has God ever considered raising children to be a less important task than other things we might do with our lives? Did He ever speak in such a derogatory way about motherhood (e.g.: baby factory, popping out babies, breeder) as we in this culture do? Has He ever made it a matter of choice? What does He really desire? Wouldn’t He have told us somewhere in His word if He had changed His mind?

There are a few questions I think Pastor John should have asked, instead of affirming this future missionary’s desired conclusion:

  • Why do you assume that God can’t add to the number of voices glorifying his name through your offspring at the same time that you are ministering in foreign lands?
  • Why do you think that living as a missionary in a foreign land is a special circumstance where marriage is concerned? Have there been no married missionaries with children before?
  • How do you think the married couples in your future home overseas will react to the idea that their homeland is not a good enough place for you to raise children?
  • Why not just join a well-chaperoned mission along with this man as a co-laborer in Christ and remain unmarried, if your purpose is really to keep your focus on spreading the Gospel instead of  having your own family? You’re still going to have that whole “husband-pleasing” problem if you get married. (1 Corinthians 7:34)
  • How do you plan to teach the whole Bible to these unreached people groups while somehow protecting them from the unbiblical, western, feminist, sterile view of marriage and children that you bring along with you for the sake your own convenience? This is a view of marriage that quite clearly ends  in the social corruption that we witness today in our own Western nations. We have seen the fruits of this thinking! It’s not good fruit! Why take that idea over to a people who might even still believe (correctly) that children belong on the asset side of life’s ledger?
  • Do you believe that God would give you and your future husband children He has no use for in your mission work? As Sally Clarkson says of her own ministry, if God calls you to do something, He’s also calling the children he gave you to serve alongside you.

Childbearing is not a decision God has ever asked us to make for ourselves. In fact, despite Rev. Piper’s illogical extention of Paul’s principle of singleness to somehow include marital sterility,  remaining single is not itself a decision God has asked his workers to make for His own sake. For the person gifted with singleness as Paul was, it is a natural outcome of personality and circumstances, not a painful, hand-wringing choice made in an effort to please God with our sacrifice.

I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. (emphasis added)

–1 Corinthians 7:7

Paul’s assumption here is that most people are not gifted in this way. He’s simply saying “This ‘singleness’ thing God gave me has worked out well. It might not go so well for you, so if you burn with lust, get married.” And getting married goes with making babies most of the time. If no babies happen, then God can certainly be in that, but it’s never offered as a choice. Childbearing is never even lamented as a burden to the Gospel, but as a blessed addition to the family of Christ. It seems clear to me that getting married so that you can slake your lust for another person, but then refusing the God-given fruits of that holy union was not quite what the apostle had in mind when he wrote this passage.

I know that I’m just a hillbilly with an internet connection. I know that John Piper is far, far beyond me in spiritual understanding and Bible training. I wrestled with myself all night, trying to conclude that Piper and I can both be right here, or at least that I could be wrong. But, comparatively feeble-minded though I may be, I simply can’t see any way to reconcile what Piper says he believes (and what I believe) about the sovereignty of God in human affairs with what the pastor has told this young lady.

Yes, all things are lawful for us, and we have lots of room to discover our spiritual freedom while still receiving infinite mercy (and correction) from God, who remains our Father through all of our missteps. But it is undeniable that behaving as though children are a choice has been a pretty honkin’ big mistake for the Western world, and Rev. Piper has just advocated exporting that same mistake to other countries through the work of married, but intentionally sterile missionaries. That just seems too egregious for me to let go, even though I am hardly worthy to shine John Piper’s intellectual shoes.

I hope Pastor John will come to a different conclusion the next time he has to address such a question. The young people of our generation need better counsel than this.

Oh, My Word, I’m So Tired

Just thought you’d like a pregnancy update. 33 weeks today. Feeling very large and not remotely in charge. I’m sure anybody who has ever put on 25 pounds of fluid, fat, and kicking, squirming, ouch-that’s-my-bladder-baby can relate. Is this another one of those “blogging will recommence in a few weeks” posts? I don’t know. I’ve got a dozen ideas, and nothing but weariness when I sit down to write them. For now, all of my meager energy is being spent on homeschooling and housekeeping.

Sadly, y’all have to come last. Miss ya, though! Don’t go away. I WILL return. I just know it.

UPDATE: Oh, yes. Almost forgot. Between now and whenever I regain my ability to hold a thought in my head for more than twenty seconds, there is at least some reading material to be had. Don’t forget to read my ebook, Decieved: Little Lies the World Tells to Keep Christian Families from Growing. Click:

Don't forget to download your copy!.

 

Early Rate and $5 Discount Code

I don’t want to worry you or anything, but I’ve got urgent, gotta-do-something-now news for you:

This is your very last chance to get the best possible price on a Teach Them Diligently registration for your family if you plan to attend the Spartanburg or Nashville conventions.

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014 Spartanburg

Why should you, you ask? Well, from my own point of view, it’s partly because I’m only fifteen cents short of an affiliate payout for TTD. Gotta feed the blog, people.

But there are lots of great reasons for you to attend that have nothing whatsoever to do with my bank account. I won’t be able to attend this year, since we’re having a baby in March, but I sure wish I could. Last year I learned so much, and came home with such a better vision for bringing up my children, that I can’t imagine anybody not finding something to benefit them here. Even non-homeschoolers or pre-homeschoolers can learn a lot from the wonderful speakers about discipleship and loving our children into the kingdom.

Last year, my only complaint was that there wasn’t a time set aside for corporate worship. In Nashville, at least, that’s being taken care of. Keith and Kristyn Getty will be in Nashville on Friday, March 21:

Gettys

And now, rather than try harder to convince you to do something that I know you really do already want to do (don’t you?), I’m just going to go take a nap. Pregnant ladies need naps.

Check out using the code TTDSAVE5 by February 7th to get the best price on your family registration. (You can add extras like the children’s program and the men’s breakfast later, if you’re not quite ready to commit to those yet.)

Disclosure: In case it wasn’t already totally obvious, I stand to make a few dollars, at no extra charge to you, if you sign up for Teach Them Diligently through my links. Since some people think that that is an egregious conflict of interest, here is a non-affiliate link through which you may also sign up. Really, I just want you to get to a TTD convention. They’re awesome. Just don’t click any of the other links in this post first so you won’t have it on your conscience that I earned money because of you. Get your mommy blogger grain of salt right here.

God is Faithful

There’s a reason I’m blogging less often these days. I’ve been adjusting to a whole new family dynamic, and I just haven’t had the emotional energy to write very much. When we first moved into this house five years ago, Jesse had taken a new position at work. Around the same time, he had also had a wisdom tooth extracted. He also started to get headaches, at first once or twice a week, and then more frequently as time went on. For the last four years or so, he had non-stop headaches, fairly mild in the morning, then by afternoon and evening, unbearable. The absolute best he could feel was kind of OK, and that only with massive doses of narcotics. (For which I thank both the Lord and the doctor who was willing to prescribe them.)

Except for the stress of having to earn all of the money, which Jesse always managed somehow to do, I was living the life of a single mom. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that. Jesse and I have both written about it occasionally. We could not find the right combination of treatments, or even pinpoint the cause of the pain to a certainty. We’ve thought it might be:

  • environmental (new home)
  • environmental (new job)
  • TMJ (tooth extraction)
  • Blood pressure (it is a bit high)
  • Diet (My darling has a soda-pop and hot-pockets habit.)
  • A Job-like curse

He’s been to a neurologist, a chiropractor, a dentist specializing in TMJ, probably some other people I’ve forgotten about, and finally, he just gave up. I resigned myself to the crushing loneliness, and he resigned himself to the constant pain. Neither of us had much hope left of finding even the cause, much less a cure for the problem. But neither of us lost hope in the One who has redeemed us.

So we just kept going on like that. He popping pills and spending six days out of seven in bed when he wasn’t at work, and I learning to keep the rest of it going all by myself. I don’t want to make it sound all terrible and tragic, but…well, it was getting terrible and tragic! Nothing is lonelier than chronic pain. The rest of the world tends to forget about you after a while. (If you know someone who has chronic pain, please, please, visit them and pray with them. It means so much.) If Jesus hadn’t been always present, always making himself known in our lives through those small mercies he poured out in the form of prayers and encouragement from friends–many of whom are this blog’s readers, and THANK YOU!–I don’t think we’d have survived all of that with our sanity intact.

Want to hear something amazing? For the last few weeks, Jesse has had about one mild headache a week. The thing that changed? He got a promotion. That promotion means he is no longer sitting in a cubicle all day typing and geeking and doing whatever it was he was doing as a QA guy. He still has a desk, but he’s moving around more, and his new job as director of technical support involves talking. All day long, he talks to people. You wouldn’t think that would be such a big deal, but as it turns out, TMJ really was his problem. All this talking, moving around, and changing posture more often has kept the swelling in his jaw and the consequent muscle and head pain at bay for the last month! The only times he’s had headaches have been those days when he was at home and didn’t get enough activity to keep all of those muscles and joints working.

So that is why I haven’t blogged much. I thought it was because I was just uninspired, but really, I’ve been on cloud nine. I just haven’t had the desire to sit down and write much. I’m too busy getting used to being around the guy I’d come to think of as the ghost that slept in my bed. He’s ALIVE! Resurrections are kind of a big deal, don’t you think?

Praise God, people! I know that there was nothing much supernatural about Jesse’s pain (poor Job probably had an identifiable infection, too, with all those boils and stuff). And I know that the cure isn’t especially supernatural. But God HAS moved supernaturally, both during this long illness, and after it. He has provided for our family through a wonderful work family that understood and endured Jesse’s many sick days. God has helped Jesse through the long days of pain without giving up. Even through all the fog of medications and pain, Jesse developed a valuable new product for his company, and that product was a huge boost to his career.

You can’t tell me God wasn’t in that–in the strong work ethic that made Jesse keep trying when nobody would have blamed him for giving up, in the moments of relief that always came just when we really couldn’t take any more, in the hymns and verses that would arise unbidden in our minds during the darkest hours–God was always in it.

And now that things are getting easier, He is still here! The hardest thing for me to come to terms with in all of this good stuff happening is that I’m a little bit hand-shy. I keep waiting for somebody to say “Just kidding!” and yank the rug out from under us. Once you’ve resigned yourself to living without bitterness in rather bitter circumstances, it can be hard to suddenly realize that you might get to have a normal life after all. I’m not even sure how to describe it, except that the first few weeks of this were anxiety-ridden. Every day, I’d try to keep my hopes down so I wouldn’t be disappointed when Jesse walked through the door with another headache. But also, there was a fear in the back of my mind that I’d get too comfortable and forget how to lean on those Everlasting Arms in all of this cushy living.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –C. S. Lewis

My husband is able to go to church and family gatherings with me. He can go shopping and take the trash, and play with the kids, and discipline them, and correct his headstrong, impulsive wife. He can do all of those husband and daddy things that I had just written off as not meant for this family. I confess, I haven’t been as joyful as I could be about it. It’s not that I’m not extremely happy, but there was an undercurrent of anxiety that I just couldn’t shake. In all this fun, I’ve been scared to death of losing sight of the One who has been my strength. That’s not a bad thing to be mindful of, really. The happy and the healthy do tend to lose sight of God more easily, having fewer reminders of their frailty. But I have to learn to trust, even now, that God has a plan to use my good times for His glory as well!

My circumstances have changed. That makes me nervous. Also, really giddy. But my God is not changing. He never will. When He shouted “Trust me!” back then, He was no more or less trustworthy than He is right this moment.

God is GOOD. All the time. Praise Him!

 

Impulsive

I always have been. That might be why I deleted my Facebook pages and stopped using Facebook FOREVAR!!1!! without really stopping to consider whether that was the best course of action.

Here’s the thing, though. I missed a whole bunch of people, including reader interactions, far more than I thought I would.

Here’s the other thing, though. I really was using Facebook too much. Like, way, way, too, too much. My family deserves my attention more than that.

So, in an attempt to make this thing manageable, I’m going to put Facebook on my daily schedule. That way, there will be set times I can be on there, and I can (hopefully) make myself stay off at all the other times. I had a nice, quiet break for a few weeks, but I am not able to permanently step away from Facebook. There are too many people who use it to keep friends up-to-date on their lives, and they shouldn’t have to go to any extra trouble just to keep up with me. I was getting tons of calls and text messages and emails, and that was awesome, but every single one of them contained a “miss you on Facebook” that made me feel like maybe I was being too stand-offish, not being there. Who am I to expect people to go out of their way to communicate with me, right? Facebook is just easier for most people these days.

I still hate Facebook. But I love the people on it, so I’m there. Look me up.

Go ahead and laugh at me. It’s funny. :-)

Deceived

A book. Sorta.

By way of apology, I must confess that this ebook is not what I set out to write when I decided I would write a book on Christian families and fertility. It would seem that I’m more adept at making babies than writing books about making babies. As soon as I had an outline written and felt ready to start writing, I got pregnant. Maybe some women can write lengthy tomes with brains addled by pregnancy hormones, but I am not one of them.  There is some new writing here–about half of it, I guess–but it is not remotely what I set out to do.

I hope it is, at least, what God has set out for me to do. It can be so hard to know, sometimes. All I can really do is say what I think is right, and pray that God won’t let me mess things up too much.

Anyhow, here ya go:

Deceived: Little Lies..

ConDeceived is free for downloading, printing, sharing, quoting, reviewing, picking apart, and whatever else you want to do with it, so long as you properly attribute all of my work to me by linking to the download page, and don’t alter or misrepresent it in any way.

Print it out and tack it to some church doors, if you feel so inclined. Or it might be more appropriate to just tack it to a barn on a lonely road somewhere. I used to live near a man who nailed his semi-literate conspiracy theories about Abraham Lincoln and Jews and World War III to a barn by the side of the road. I used to stop by and read them, fearing the whole time that I was going to get a butt-full of bird-shot for my trouble. His mind had been eaten up by a lifelong habit of swilling lead-laced moonshine.

This ebook might be in the same vein, so take it with the usual grain of salt. I’m just a hillbilly mommy blogger. You never know what I might have been making my moonshine with.

Frustrated

I am. Right now. Hang in there just a little while longer, and I will give you an ebook. That’s why no blog posts right now.

UPDATE: Funny how fast a “little talk with Jesus” can fix things. Book’s up!

Phoenix Community Coffee (Giveaway)

Phoenix Community Coffee Giveaway (Pizza Not Included)

Breakfast of Champions. Remind me to give you my pizza dough recipe sometime.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. I would like you to enjoy some coffee. I would also like to buy some coffee for myself. Affiliate links can accomplish both of those goals. Thank you for your patronage.

I’ve been sipping on a new brand of coffee for the past couple of weeks. When I received my box of coffee, I had just decided that coffee was one of the areas in which I needed to to cut back spending. We need a bigger house, so the belt is tight right now. One thing a frugal shopper learns over time is that not everything that costs more is worth paying more for, and not everything that is low in price in low in quality.

But sometimes you get exactly what you pay for. After cutting back my spending on coffee for a little while, then quitting the black stuff altogether in disgust with what comes in the big, cheap, primary-colored cans at the grocery store, and finally getting a treat from the coffee fairy (aka the folks at Phoenix Community Coffee), I’ve learned that coffee is not one of those things that you can scrimp on and still have a good experience.

This is good coffee, y’all. And you do pay a good-coffee price for it. I could, if I had the vocabulary for it, start throwing around terms like “fair trade” and “single origin,” but the truth is that you probably know more about that stuff than I do. All I know is that the reason you’re paying more is so that the people who work to produce the coffee can earn a good wage. Furthermore, the proceeds from Phoenix Community Coffee fund charitable endeavors in the communities of both the farmers and the sellers of the coffee.

From the Phoenix Community website:

Aware of the importance of accountability and relationships, at Phoenix Community Coffee Company we purchase our coffee direct from the coffee farm at a price substantially more than the “fair-trade” minimum. Purchasing direct ensures maximum compensation to our farmers and their workers resulting in daily wages over 300% more than other farms.

Each bag of Phoenix Community Coffee sold also resources domestic relief projects such as ending the commercial exploitation of children, ending homelessness, restoring abuse victims, supporting single mothers, and much more. We call it The Cycle of Relief.

Learn more: Find out how Phoenix Community Coffee helps both farmers and the needy at the same time by clicking here.

Buy: You can buy Phoenix Community Coffees from their website. You can get free shipping on orders of 3 bags or more.

Win: One Get Along Home reader will win a generous package of coffee from Phoenix Community Coffee:

  • One 12 oz. bag of Phoenix Community’s most popular coffee, Mid-City, a medium roast

and  7 fractional packages:

  • caramel
  • chocolate
  • decaf
  • french vanilla
  • half-caff
  • hazelnut
  • peppermint chocolate (my favorite)

These each include 1.5 oz of coffee, enough for 8-10 cups in your home coffee maker. This is the same assortment I’ve been enjoying. You want it? You can have it! Well, one of you can, anyway.

How to enter: Just leave a comment. Cream and sugar or black?

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, January 17, 2014. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. You can leave as many comments as you like, but only the first comment will be considered a valid entry. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a free package of coffee from Phoenix Community Coffee in order to facilitate this giveaway. There are affiliate links in this post. If you buy, I get paid a portion of your purchase, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Get Along Home!

Happy Independence Day!

Yes, I know tomorrow is New Year’s Day. But I’m declaring independence anyway.

If you’ll look to the right sidebar you’ll notice that I no longer have a Facebook widget there to entice you to follow me there. There are several reasons for this, the chief of them that social media was pulling me away from my children, my husband, my rest, and my studying, and it simply had to stop. In last several months, Facebook has so effectively tweaked its algorithms to keep readers on their site that I couldn’t get off the stupid thing.

I was drowning in the voices of people who are both completely irrelevant to my life and useless to teach me anything. Facebook is a habit-forming, shallow product, and I want nothing else to do with it. Not only does it suck me in, but I’m also providing content for Zuckerberg et. al that makes them money and sucks other people into mindlessly wasting time they don’t have, as well. It might be entertaining, but it is not very edifying.

Having cut that chatter out of my life completely and found that the only thing I’ve “lost” is about 2,700 sets of eyeballs that weren’t really watching anyway, I’ve started noticing some other ways that the internet, including this here blog, has thrown stumbling blocks into my family’s path. I’ve stopped tracking my stats, turned off Google alerts, and done several other things that bloggers who want to succeed are definitely not supposed to do. That’s OK. I want to succeed, but not at the expense of my real work.

While blogging at GAH! has been a very positive thing, most of the things that go with blogging—social media, networking with other bloggers for “opportunities”, trying to keep one finger on the pulse of the marketing trends of the day (hello, Pinterest, you idiot!)—have not. I’ll bet even those of us who don’t blog are finding themselves sucked into the screen for far too long, many days. I’ve been reluctant to completely cut ties with many of the tools I’ve used to interact with people because I felt like I would be isolating myself and killing my blog. That is the conventional wisdom, isn’t it? Promote via social media or die!

But I’m not sure I believe the conventional wisdom. I’ve found it to wrong about nearly everything else in life, so why not this, as well? The idea that the best way to get traffic to your own website is to direct your readers to hang out with you on somebody else’s website seems a bit silly to me. Great marketing by the social media moguls, I guess, but it doesn’t turn out so well if you’re not one of them. So I have decided to write here, and here only. If it is any good, you’ll subscribe or bookmark it. Maybe you’ll share it on social media yourself sometimes, though I’d actually encourage you to stop doing that if social media takes up more than ten minutes of your day or causes you anxiety that interrupts the peace of your own home, as it was doing to me.

I think we’ve been duped, homeschooling (and especially homeschool blogging) mamas. We’ve been tricked into thinking that we can simultaneously be with our children and not be with our children, or with our friends, or with our husbands. We think that because we’re in their physical presence, we’re doing what we ought to. But my children know better. They know when mommy is distracted by what some stupid stranger on Facebook said. They know when she’s cranky because someone who means nothing to her has said something horrible about her faith or her family or (Lord help me) her looks. They can tell when she has yet again turned her brain off to look at meaningless things that have nothing to do with her real work, her family.

1349985104938

A picture my son (then seven years old) drew for Mama to hang on the back of her chair. Ouch.

Moms, they know. We’re the only ones being fooled by the illusion that we’re gaining something of value here.

We think that chatting with somebody on Facebook is very much like sitting down with a cup of tea and a good friend. We think twenty-second interactions with people are some kind of “ministry.” But they’re not. The truth is that social media interaction is an interruption to social behavior, not an actual encounter with human beings. Ministry is person to person. Social media mediates. It is a go-between. I’m tired of having a screen full of ads and a corporation to mediate between me and my real life. If I’m going to minister to somebody, it needs to be my neighbor. If we’re going to be friends, we’re going to need to be in the same room sometimes. I need you to be able to smell me and tell me (in the most polite way possible, of course) that the new, all-natural deodorant doesn’t deodorize.

The internet can be a very useful tool for research and getting the news of the day. But it’s not truly social. Not for me. If social media doesn’t demand your attention in the same addictive way it does mine, then feel free to enjoy it. Others may. I may not.

There will always be a comment section here (unless I find that becoming onerous as well). I enjoy the kind of limited interaction I get from comments, but I’m finished with internet “socializing.” If my blog dies from that, then it’s just going to have to die. At least my children will be able to remember something about me besides the blank, uncomprehending look I give them when they speak to me but my mind is on things that don’t even exist in their world.

I’m going to go homeschool my kids now, and I’m going to do it better than I had been. I’m going to do it the way the successful homeschoolers in the days before the internet did it—without the kind of socialization you get from the internet.

Teach Them Diligently Convention

Early bird pricing for the Teach Them Diligently Convention is going away in just a few short days. Don’t miss it!

Early-Bird-Features

And if you go to the Nashville event, you get to see Keith and Kristyn Getty in concert at no extra charge. It’s included in the price of your registration:
Gettys

What are you waiting for? Christmas? That’s over, so you can stop waiting now.

Disclosure: There are, of course, affiliate links in this post. Thanks for supporting us!

Our First Term with Ambleside Online

100_0073

When I said at the beginning of the year that we were going to be using Ambleside Online for our curriculum this year, lots of readers expressed an interest in using AO, if only they could figure out how it all works. Being a newbie myself, I didn’t (and still don’t) have much in the way of tips to offer. However, I can tell you what we’ve accomplished so far, and how I see this turning out for us.

The hardest thing about getting started is the amount of reading you, the teacher, have to do. If you want a curriculum that just tells you what to do and then you do it, this is the wrong place to go. While you don’t need to read every word that Charlotte Mason ever wrote, you do need to get a good grasp of her philosophy in order to implement this curriculum. AO has all six volumes of the Charlotte Mason series for free here, or you can go download them for cheap on Amazon. I also like the Charlotte Mason Companion.

I still haven’t read all of this stuff, so don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing at once before you get started. You do, however, need to read enough to get off on the first leg of your journey with some vision for the future.

Furthermore, you’re going to want to read many of the books that your children are reading, or else they’ll think you’re an idiot when they narrate to you and you don’t know what the dickens they’re talking about. (Ask me how I know.) If you haven’t done anything like this before, read Home Education first, and then dive into the AO Introduction, where using the curriculum is made somewhat more understandable. That’s what I did, anyway, and now I’m just reading through other helpful features of the site and the other CM books as I go.

Here’s what we did, and how well it worked out:

Morning time: The first thing every day for us is family devotions, memory work, and a read-aloud, along with whatever else I can think of that I want to do day. Charlotte Mason isn’t heavy on read-alouds, but we like them. I got inspired by this Morning Basket idea, and started a little basket (well, OK, it’s more of a pile, because I am disorganized) of my own for our “together” stuff in the mornings.

Core reading: My oldest is doing Year 3, and the reading is one of his favorite things about this curriculum. No surprise there, as he has always been a good reader, but the kinds of books we’re working with do tend to put his mind to more of a workout than any of the curricula we’ve tried before. They aren’t hard, necessarily, just not dumbed-down. And there is a lot of reading, because this is a living-books approach. Textbooks are the devil! (I mean, unless you like them, I guess.)

If your kid doesn’t like to read, I would still suggest giving CM’s “living book” approach a shot. It could very well be that the reason your child hates books is that he’s never had experience with the kinds of books that don’t insult his intelligence. These are all good books. I’ve enjoyed reading them myself. The reading selections encompass Nature and Science, History, Geography (although I’m finding we fell short on this somehow, and need to work harder on it), Literature, Bible, and Poetry.

Language Arts: We do daily copywork (for both boys) and dictation (for the older one) from various selections. Sometimes I pick a passage from our reading or our Bible verses, and sometimes I use workbooks I’ve printed from Currclick. Dictation (for the oldest child) also covers spelling and grammar. I’ve also been having him do Daily Grams, but a more formal grammar course will come in a couple more years. One thing I love about Charlotte Mason’s approach is that there’s no expecting children to do composition before they actually know enough to say something. None of that silly “what I want to be when I grow up” stuff.

Handicrafts: We did sewing this term, and it was lots of fun. Just the basics, because I don’t know very much about it myself. Now we all know to some degree how to sew on buttons, sew a few kinds of stitches, and repair stuffed animals. I still have no idea where we’re going from here. (I could show you some pictures of our little drawstring bags, if only I had remembered to take some.)

Science: While there is science reading in AO’s curriculum, I really don’t feel like that’s enough. We’re going through Famous Experiments and How to Repeat Them, and Simple Kitchen Experiments, as well as having the kinds of impromptu discussions that children seem to draw out of us (well, me, anyway) in the day-to-day. Why no, we can’t make a pot of beans without talking about atmosphere and agriculture. Not in this house.

Nature: Goes with “Science,” I guess, but I think of it as a separate thing anyway. On our nature walks (which aren’t happening with the same frequency now that it’s cold outside) I sometimes have the kids take a specimen of something they want to study, then they draw it, read about it, and write a sentence or two in their nature journals for reference. I have no idea whether I do this because CM told me to, or because I like the idea. It might not be remotely CM. I don’t care. We like our journals.

Math: The boys love Life of Fred. I’m still not sure that’s enough, though, despite the insistence of many that it is, so we’re working away at Math Mammoth workbooks, too.

Foreign Language: Didn’t do it. If you’re easing into a new curriculum, especially, perfectionism is a killer. Sometimes you just have to let something (or several somethings) drop, and this was it for us. This term, we’ll be adding ASL as our foreign language, using this free online resource. My ASL accent can’t possibly be as bad as my Spanish accent. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Music (composer study, hymns, folk songs): I’m just following AO’s schedule, except for the hymns. I have my own ideas about that.

 Plutarch: Ha! Haven’t added that in yet, either. It’s not that I don’t want to, just that I forgot. OK, and I’m scared. Next year. Baby steps.

Art: Instead of following the AO schedule for artist study, I’ve been using Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios. That’s my one splurge this year. Drawing with Children will be on our to-do list this term, as well. I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I think it’s about time to put it to use.

Field trips: There really aren’t any field trips in AO. I just wanted you to know that we took some. They get out of the basement three times a month, whether they like it or not.

Busywork: There is none. I do not have piles of papers and crafts and “proof” that my children are learning. They are themselves the proof, though the pudding won’t be eaten for many years yet. I’ve concluded that about 75% of what people think of as “education” is just meant to keep children in their seats and give them a sense that they’ve produced something without having to go to the mess of actually letting them produce things.

Exams: Yes, exams are included in the Charlotte Mason way of education. That surprised me. If we hadn’t done the exams, I wouldn’t have really known how much was retained from all of this reading. I do believe this way of learning blows the doors off textbook “learning,” which often amounts to stuffing trivia down a child’s throat and hoping he can digest it into something meaningful later on.

So there you have it, our term in a nutshell. This is, hands down, my favorite way EVER to do school. It’s inexpensive, down-to-earth, and thorough. I think this will be the way we do school for a good, long time.

P.S. Anybody who is interested in a Charlotte Mason education should hie herself on over to the Teach Them Diligently page and register for one of the (very affordable, exciting, uplifting) conventions next year. Sonya Shafer, of Simply Charlotte Mason, gives some fantastic classes that will really help you understand what you’re doing. Her sessions were standing room only last year. Must see.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

 Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in this post. Thanks for supporting us!

No Ebook After All

Sorry about that.

So, I wrote this (I think) pretty good thing and decided to sell it to you. Then I decided not to sell it after all, but to offer it as a free download. And now I have decided that, for the time being, it’s better if I don’t put it out there at all. My reasons for withholding it are complicated, and absolutely boring. Suffice it to say that I don’t feel good about it right now. Every time I think about actually getting it out there, I feel a little tug saying “no.” I’ve felt that tug before, and not listened, and regretted it, so for now, it’s “no.”

Later on, when I’ve slept on it a while, I might change my mind. Until then, I suspect you guys will be just fine reading something else. ;-)

Ultimate Christmas and Advent Giveaway

Want some freebies? Rebecca, Colleen, Aurie, Kerry and I are going to start your Advent off (well, OK, just a couple of days late) with a giveaway of each of the three ebooks listed below. If you want to go ahead and buy any of them, you can use this promo code to get 50% off the price: dec13

Also, keep scrolling through the whole thing even if you don’t do giveaways. There’s a freebie down there you don’t want to miss.

 

christmas & advent giveaway  ~  ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com/giveaway

If you want to get a copy of any of them before the giveaway is over, Kerry has given me a Promo Code to let you save 50% … just for our readers. (Use Promo Code “dec13″)

Take a look at these 3 ebooks that help you keep Christ as the focus of Advent & Christmas. Click on any image to find out more.

Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study

  • If you want to study Matthew 2 to learn what the Star of Bethlehem is
  • If you have older children and you’re looking for family Bible study
  • If you want to tie together Bible and Science
  • If you want to get a BONUS item: Skies of the Cross Bible Study

Star of Bethlehem Bible Study - What is the star? ~ ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com

Then Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study (updated 2012) will be great for your family.

You can print out as many copies for your “immediate family” as necessary. Buy one book and use it with the entire family.

Here’s what others say about the
Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study

The Study is Called Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study. Not only is there a fresh focus on God’s AWESOME communication with us throughout time, but you will learn more astronomy than YEARS of study in a text!

Kerry takes you deeply into the Word of God to dig out what God has to say about stars, astronomy, astrology, and neatest of all, how God used STARS to tell about His plan for salvation through Jesus Christ!

If you are like me and find yourself a bit intimidated when thinking of Astronomy Studies, this is the book for you! AND…if you are looking for a great Bible Study, don’t wait!
~~Cindy Rushton, Rushton Family Ministries ~~

Christmas Celebrations: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany
Christmas Celebrations - Dozens of ideas to put Christ back into Advent, Christmas, & Epiphany ~ ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com

  • If you have young kids or older kids
  • If you want to integrate homeschooling into Christmas (it’s already done for you in this ebook)
  • If you want to learn about the Christian meaning of our Christmas symbols
  • If you want to focus on Christ during Advent
  • If you want to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas or Epiphany

Your family will find Christmas Celebrations ebook very useful. Kerry updated & expanded this ebook with an additional 30 pages of ideas. She added Homeschool Tie-Ins throughout.

To see a list of 47 ideas included in Christmas Celebrations, click here.

Christmas Around the World Unit Study

christmas around the world unit study   ~   from HowToHomeschoolMyChild.com

  • If you have elementary or junior high kids
  • If you want to learn more about the history of Christmas
  • If you want to use a scope & sequence to plan your homeschool
  • If you want to make some crafts or cook food from different areas of the world
  • If you want a list of books to read that reflect other countries’ Christmas celebrations

Christmas Around the World Unit Study will be a fun unit study for your family this year.

Your family will love studying how other countries celebrate Advent & Christmas. And we make it easy with 1-week or 2-week lesson plans.

How To Enter to Win

  1. Get Kerry’s FREE Advent Calendar & FREE Christmas workshop by clicking here.
  2. Then, fill in the form below.
  3. For maximum chances take every entry you can, and be sure to follow my girls Rebecca, Colleen, and Aurie. Each of these ladies has incredible information to share with homeschool moms.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: All of the links in this post are affiliate links. Thank you for making our Christmas a cozy one. Your commissions mean more marshmallows for our hot chocolate!

Public Schools and Naive Kids

One of the constantly recurring, and frankly silliest, objections to homeschooling is the embarrassing  naiveté of homeschooled kids. The implication is that a child’s growth and maturity will somehow be stunted by not witnessing the full smorgasbord of sinful behaviors and moral pitfalls that popular culture has to offer. If he hasn’t had a joint offered to him in the school bathroom by the time he’s a senior, there is simply no hope that he’ll be able to say no to it when he’s twenty!

When I put it that way, of course, the hollowness of the whole objection becomes evident, even to those who will most likely still think it’s better for a child to be “educated” in the ways of the world by his peers and (God help us) D.A.R.E instructors.

Fine, you’re right: I fully intend to turn my kids out into the world with little more than a theoretical understanding of the kinds of criminality and perversion that will most likely be going on right under their noses any time they walk down a busy street. By the time they leave my nest, they’ll most likely be in the same social position I am right now; people who engage in those activities don’t even want to talk to me much, let alone invite me to their parties. So I’ve just raised my children to be the kind of bland, boring, morally upright people that the unwise, unstable, and criminal amongst us shun out of instinct. Oh, how could I be so stupid?

Like I said before, there is no way that I can keep my kids from finding out about sin, being sinners as they are. I don’t expect to. But there’s a flip side to this whole naiveté thing, and that is the fact that, when I send my naïve children off to be educated by government-employed strangers, their naiveté is a serious weakness, making them prey to unscrupulous teachers, wayward peers, and even crooked police. If I keep them either at home with me or under the tutelage of Christian teachers I know to be working toward the same goals that I am, these little ones of mine will still be naïve children, absolutely! But what else do you want children to be? Jaded? Worldly? Street smart? I thought we wanted to keep them off the streets, not familiar with them.

Where does this perverse desire to destroy childish innocence come from? Certainly not from God, who says that we must become like little children, and not the other way around, if we wish to see the kingdom of Heaven.

Several years ago, I witnessed the whole adult congregation of a church gathering around a group of teens to pray for them because of the sexual pressures and violence that they were forced to deal with every day. Now, I’m all for prayer, and I’m glad they were at least doing that much for the poor kids. But what caught me was the pastor’s words before they prayed. He said “Our children have to deal with pressures every day that we as adults would never have to face. They need God’s hand of protection on their lives in a special way.”

So we’re sending kids into these spiritual and emotional pressure cookers, even though in the “real world,” for which we are supposed to be preparing them, this stuff (bullying, sexual pressure, drug use, etc.), doesn’t happen among decent people? In the real world where grown-ups live, if these things happen there are both practical and legal steps that a grownup can take to defend himself. He can simply choose not to go there; he can prosecute wrongdoing; he can find a new job; he can find new peers. But these kids, who don’t have the benefit of years of wisdom? Meh. Just cover them in prayer and send them to learn from these people how to walk in Truth.

This little episode at church was what did it for me. It was about 8 years ago, and it was what convinced me to homeschool.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

–Proverbs 13:20

Not long ago, I witnessed a similar thing with a group of parents lamenting the sexual pressure that middle-school girls must face at such a young and inappropriate age. “Lord, help them!” they said. And they sent them back into the cesspool the very next day.

My dad is kind of a funny guy. When I was a teenager, he’d often see me doing some household task and ask “Do you need some help with that, honey?” I’d accept his offer, only to hear, “Help her, Lord!”

The difference between my dad doing that and these parents doing this is that my dad knew he was joking, and would then get up and help me.

The Bible says some things about praying and doing:

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

–James 2:15-16

Now, if we’re called not just to pray, but to do for the physical needs of our brothers and sisters, how much more does this apply to caring for the souls of our own children?

My children’s naiveté will vanish, despite the foolish concerns of naysayers, but it will recede through years of Bible training, not through the hardening effects of early exposure. My son will learn how to keep to the narrow path through the learning of Proverbs and being made aware of his own sin by God’s word, not through being slammed against locker doors because he’s the only kid that won’t get high with the rest of his social group between classes. My daughter will learn to honor her body by being around those who also honor her body, not from those who belittle and objectify her.

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

–Luke 17:1-2

I went to a public school, so I know how that naiveté we’re so scared to see in our children gets worn away, and it is not through the maturing of a child’s spirit, but through the breaking of it. No thank you. We don’t want any of that kind of jaded “maturity” in our family.