a lesson in everything!

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Many of my readers have asked me how I know what to teach in homeschool? It’s a loaded question because truthfully I don’t know everything that I am going to teach. While I do have a weekly schdedule and have purchased materials and workbooks for language arts, reading and math I tend to leave social science, Bible and life lessons/skills up to the everyday opportunities that present themselves. Honestly, I pray that ask God for wisdom and direction and every week we tend to cover more material and topics that I would have had if I had planned for it:) For example, there was a science lesson that we gleaned this week from our maple syrup tapping and it was fun and interesting for the kids.

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The lesson was simple: We filled up two cups, both with 1/2 cup of water, then to one cup we added a tbsp of sugar. We labeled the sugar cup and put them both in the freezer. Every 15 minutes we would check to see which one was freezing the fastest. We concluded that the water with sugar freezes slower. We learned how this related to the sap in maple trees, how it acts as an antifreeze so that the maple trees dont freeze solid in the winter time!! It was cool and we all learned a little something.

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There are SO many little lessons that we can teach our kids every day, all we need to do is ask the Lord to give us the opportunities and when they present themselves be ok to steer away from the routine and have a little fun. The kids loved the project so much that they wanted to try to put other baking ingredients in water to see how long they would take to freeze:)…interesting how a little experiment can spark such interest and curiosity.

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I must admit that I never thought that I would be tapping my own maple trees and bottling syrup but somehow in the past week that is what I have found myself and my family doing. It has been an adventure. AND a learning process:)

We decided to try to tap 10 trees and see what we got, so far the outcome has exceeded our original expectations. After 5 days of collecting sap we have 3L of syrup meaning that we collected approx 120L of sap and boiled it down!! For those of you who dont know how much that it, its a lot!!!

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It has been fun to find a natural resource and literally tap into it. I am thankful for this wonderful land the Lord has given us.

Ideally, I would love to live on the land completely, to grow and sustain ourselves is a dream of mine, however we are not quite there yet. Our climate up here in Northern Ontario definitely makes it more difficult! (But we are trying to come up with creative ideas to be self sustaining)

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My favorite part of this past week has been watching our kids help us out and get really excited about this new adventure. Judah loves to go out to the trees and collect the sap with us and Mercy is my “most excited” taste tester when we are boiling down the sap:) My husband has been amazing at setting things up, carrying heavy buckets and enjoying the journey with us.

I am convinced that not matter what venture you set out to do as a family that enjoying it TOGETHER is the BEST part!!

May you experience the unity and communion that comes from doing things together as a family!!

Proverbs 31: Preparation or Perfection?

If you are a woman, a wife and especially a mother I am sure you have heard this verse in the Bible numberous times; Proverbs 31:10-31. It is a verse that I have heard many people debate over. I have heard some woman joke about how impossible this is to attain and I have heard others who make it their life mission to be a Proverbs 31 woman.

So what does it mean? Is it literal? Am I supposed to spin by own wool, purchase land and sell it for a profit? How does one learn from this verse and apply it to her life?

Here is my understanding…

I believe that the Word of God is written on purpose and is intentional. I know that God allows everything in the Bible to be put there for a reason and I believe that there is much that we can glean as woman from this passage. In my opinion is was not put there to make woman feel badly about themselves nor do I think that it should cause us to strive for perfection in our lives, or make our outward apperance look perfect in the eyes of men but rather it should inspire us to trust God in everything. I believe that we NEED to focus on the many character traits of this “Proverbs 31 woman” and apply those traists to our lives.

The first trait I recognize is that she is a woman who is intentional. Everything she does is done on purpose. She plans ahead and organizes her life so that her family is taken care of and have what they need. That may look different for different woman depending on your personality, ability and life skills. But whatever you do make sure that you do it on purpose! (usually this involves planning and forethought, but not always:)

Secondly, she is a woman of wisdom. She knows the times and seasons in which she lives and chooses to plan her life accordingly. Because of this wisdom she profits from her various tasks, she isnt’t prideful about it, she is providing for her family.

Thirdly she is family-focused. Everything that she does centers around her husband and her children. They are her priority and the reason behind all of her labour. Obviously our relationship with the Lord needs to be our first priority but after that our family comes first. Are the decisions you make and the time you spend being invested in your family?

Forthyl, she is a strong woman. I believe this is emotional, spiritual and physical. Because of her faith in the Lord and her willingness to serve her family she can bear the weight of her work. She can handle their complaints, she can physically meet their demands and she can guide them spiritually to their Savior. Remember joy = strength. To be a woman who is strong you must be joyful. The enemy is always trying to steal my joy as a mother. The meanial things that happen or small accidents that take my joy off of mothering my little ones to the clean up agenda. I need to continually remember that if the enemy steals my joy he also steals my strength and I am left weak and powerless. I sometimes wonder if this is why so many mothers are so weak and defenseless in battle, we have lost our joy in the Lord. GOOD NEWS: choose to get the joy back and it’s yours!!! Joy is not an emotion it is a choice. Simply remembering who you were before you made God the leader of your life compared to who you are now should send joy shivers down your spine:)

Finally, a Proverbs 31 woman is led by vision! She has a vision for her family and it guides her life. Having vision gives us a road map to navigate our lives. It enables us to get from point A to point B easily and effectively.

Reading this passage of Scripture is not about; kniting our children’s clothing,  stayed up all night, purchasing a vineyard, made our kids bedding, and feeding the poor? NO!! It is so much more, however if you want to do the above go for it!! We need to glean what we can from her character and apply that to our lives. I believe that this woman is a picture of what is mean to completely rely on God in every area of her life and as a result profit greatly. (not just monetarly. We need to realize that we are called to be women, wives and mothers who are strong and intentional, who are wise and family-focused, who are vision-led followes of Christ whose mission is to raise our families to follow Him. It is not a standard of perfection it is a call for preparation! I believe it helps us to plan and prepared to be all God has called us to be.

Ask God what His vision is for your family and be intentional about seeing it through till the end.

I bless you to possess all the character traits of a Proverbs 31 woman. I bless you to listen to the Lord and obeys His leading, as a result, natually, your children WILL arise and call you BLESSED and your husband also and your life and theirs will be a testimony of God’s greatness on the earth!!!

Proverbs 31:10-31

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Tiny Tithes!

This past week I taught my children the principle of tithing. We gathered our piggy banks, a Bible and some coin rolling papers. We started off with the notion that everything that we have belongs to God and that he askes us to give back to him 10% of what we have. He is giver of every good and perfect gift, it is a joy to give back to Him. I taught them about the principle of tithing (giving a tenth) from a Biblical perspective, in kids terms of course:) God says if we test Him in this He will bless us for our obedience. (Malachi 3)

We used fishy crackers to demonstrated how 10% actually isn’t really that much and how God could have asked us for 90%:) We counted all their money in their piggy banks and they decided that it was time to give God back the tithe. It was surprising to hear Judah say, “a tenth isn’t actually that much mommy, I still get to keep all of this?”!

Fishy crackers were a great teaching tool!

It was a such a joy to teach them this principle, something that they will impact them for the rest of their lives and that will bring blessing and opportunity to give even more. I look forward to all of the other money principles that we will talk about; “the love of money being the root of all evil”, “being good stewards of our money:,” the joy of giving”, “God’s plan for us as believers to mobilize the gospel”…there is so much that I can’t wait to impart into them! I cannot wait to see our children, Judah and Mercy, bringing their tithe to our church and giving it back to the Lord!

Have you take the time to impart important principles into your little ones? It’s never too late:)

What are some other principles that you think are important to teach?

One thing I have learned about family and children is that we need to be intentional about what we do! Be sure to mark it down when God gives you ideas of what to teach them. I believe He tells us specific things at certain times because these are windows of opportunity. Take advantage of these windows.

May you be blessed today, May you have the grace you need to be all that he has called you to be!!!

From our family to yours:)

The Outdoor Classroom

Mercy exploring her outdoor artifacts:)

We have been enjoying the outdoors this fall. The weather has been beautiful and we have been taking every opportunity to get the kids out and encourage them to explore God’s creation. We went for a hike on the weekend. Our city has some incredible trails that we have become aware of and we did it as part of our science class. As a homeschooling family we take every opportunity to turn “school” into a field trip. One of my biggest goals as I teach my children is to cultivate a love for learning so that as they grow that love with grow with them. Whether you homeschool your children or not you can take every opportunity to explore life together, it creates lasting memories!

Our explorer’s list

My husband wanted to make this hike different from other hikes that we have taken in the past so we wrote out a list of things that needed to be found and gave each little one a bag to collect their items. After the hike we put everything out on the picnic table and talked about what we had found. We discovered new textures, colours, and quantities of these items. We used bonoculars, magnifying glasses and our 5 senses to explore. It really gave the kids something to work for, as they thought that our list was more like a “treasure map”:)

I sometimes find it hard to have a little one with me while I am teaching the older two, however this was an awsome way to include the baby, she got a piggyback, on our trip. She laughed, talked and eventually fell asleep:)

We also included a trip to the conservation authority in our hometown as part of this field trip. We were able to talk about the importance of conserving nature and that God has given us this world to take care of it. (Just as he told Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis) The kids also learned about the importance of conserving certain areas of nature for the animal and water; we touched on pollution issues as well. The kids learned so much, as did Jim and I, BUT most importantly they had fun doing it!

He thought it was hilarious that he could hid behind this branch…we would pretend like he disappeared:)

May you enjoy the beauty of creation all around you. Make memories with your little ones this week! Remember every adventure outside can be an outdoor classroom:)!

Counting the spokes on the pinecone

Looking closely at the designs on the rocks

That’s my son, loves to turn everything into a gun! Seriously how does he come up with these ideas??:)

Cultivating Honor in Sibling Relationships

One of the most challenging things I have been facing these days in motherhood is dealing with the relationships between my little ones. Sibling relationships can be complicated and very difficult to referee! I have been annoyed, frustrated, disappointed and clueless in some respects as to how to deal with my children and their relationships. The two older ones are both at ages (5yrs, 2yrs) where their wills and emotions are strong, stern and unforgiving. They both desire independence, attention and justice. Dealing with taddling, arguing, yelling, and sometimes hitting can be emotionally draining on me. Especially when my expectations of them are high. The Lord has been showing me lately that I am the one who needs to refresh my perspective and begin to invest time and attention into these relationships as they will be the foundation for all their relationships in the future. If siblings cannot get along it will be difficult for them to interact with other children outside the family.

I have realized that this is common for children to go through these seasons of learning how to interact and engage with others their own age and even different ages. (This is one benefit of homeschooling; my kids have to learn to spend time with eachother, not just other children their own age and mental/physical levels – it teaches patience:) My expectations, however, need to be clearly communicated AND demonstated in my behavior and engagement with them. In our house, we are cultivating a culture of HONOR, RESPECT and LOVE in our relationships. I feel as though sibling relationships are vitally important and NEED the investment of the parent to see them through. The home is a wonderful and safe place to teach and learn about how to interact with one another. It is a blessing to be able to watch our children learn and grow and be able to discipline and correct them when needed.

I have established a few core values that we go by in our relationships with one another. These are biblical principles that encourage character building and test the heart and motives of the situation. It is hard as a mother to see everything that goes on and often I do not see who started what but we always come back to these values to determine the outcome of a disagreement. I want my kids to know that the reason I correct them is because I love them and wants what is best for them. If a parent refuses to discipline or correct their child how can they really say they love them? Learning obedience, kindness and appropriate social and emotional behaviors are beneficial to children and will help them to form relationships of their own. If there is no oversight or correction the child will be unable to grow into their full potential. Making sure your kids know that discipline = love can change their perspective and help them to recieve your words of caution.

Sisters:)

Here are some of the values that we hold. I think over the next week or so we are going to make a poster board with these written on them so that they can be hung in the playroom and serve as a reminder to us all:)

1. We use kind words with eachother always. (Gal 5:22-23)

2. We treat others the way we want to be treated. (Luke 6:31)

3. We love one another regardless of how we feel. (1 Cor 13)

4. We always extend forgiveness to each other. (Matt 6)

5. Anger is not a solution, it is an emotion and we need to learn how to have self-control (Gal 5:23) when we are angry. We settle arguments before the end of the day. (Eph 4:26)

6. Obedience is better than sacrifice, obedience is our goal. (Deut 5:33)

Motivation, heart relation and relationships are more important to me than making mistakes and always being right. At the end of the day I want them to love one another and realize how special they are to God, us (their parents) and each other. I have been amazed to watch them grow in these areas this week. It has been a lot of work but slowly we are getting there, with much prayer and practice we will be a family who values our relationships as first priority! As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another. (Prov 27:17) God has given us each other to develop our character by pressing through the hard times and learning how to love as he does.

May you be blessed in your relationships this week! May to experience a deeper level of connection and commitment to each other. May you be a family who honors eachother at all times!!

The Fruit of the Spirit

The Fruit of the Spirit!

Today we tried a fun little activity for homeschool. I decided this week that we would focus on the Fruit of the Spirit from the book of Galatians in the Bible.

Mercy and Judah have been learning alot these days about loving each other and learning to serve one another. They are both at the ages now where they have their own STRONG opinions, ideas and thoughts about EVERYTHING and this leads to alot of arguing, complaining and fighting. We read the passage from Galatians 5 and discovered what the Bible says about our actions. We made a “fruit basket” with the fruit of the Spirit in it and placed it in the middle of the kitchen so we can remember to fill ourselves up with these fruit. This activity was a practical way to help me talk with them about the ways in which they can show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to one another.

He cut out the fruit and wrote most of the words:)

I gave them the example of how a fruit tree produces its own fruit; i.e. apple trees produce apples. I explained that in the same way we produce fruit according to our words and actions. This fruit belongs to either a “SPIRIT-filled tree” or a “SELF-filled tree”.They seemed to get the concept and I was challenged as well. It really made me think about what fruit I am producing in my life through my thoughts, words and actions. I desire to live a life that demonstrates a consecration to God and his Spirit!

What kind of fruit are you producing in your life? Are there areas that need to be refocused?

May you experience the abundant love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that are yours in the Spirit. May you walk in the fullness of His plans and purposes for your life today! Blessings!!

AmAzInG aNiMaLs

This week we were inspired by the movie Happy Feet to study not only penguins but 5 different animals during our homeschooling routine. I suppose you could call it more of a unit study. It has been so fun and we are only one day in! We are going to pick one animal each day and learn interesting facts about them.

Judah's new brother, Pat the penguin:)

Through this activity I’m going to be teaching the kids how to put together a “project” that is interesting for others to read about and learn from. Kids of all ages can do this and it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Hope you have fun!!

Looking at images about Penguins

1. We picked an animal. Today was Penguins as per Judah’s request and tomorrow is going to the Blue Whale, as per Mercy’s request, I have no idea how she even knows what a blue whale is:)

2. We researched them online, I went to a couple kid sites and found interesting facts. We highlighted the facts we liked the most.

3. We searched pictures on google images and printed out a few of our favorites. .Judah picked one of a seal about to attack a penguin, I thought it was a bit disturbing but he said “that is what happens if the penguins aren’t careful mom”… LOL

4. We then printed off all the info, and the kids had races to and from the printer gathering their papers.

Breaking for a little snack, I just happened to have penguin crackers which seemed fitting:)

5. We cut out the pictures, boarders and pasted them on the poster board. The kids loved cutting and glueing, although, my counter was rather sticky afterwards they enjoyed it!

6. We then placed them on the board and glued them on, by this point Mercy was really interested so she played while we finished up.

7. That’s it! We are going to bring it to show the grandparents tonight and Judah wants to explained what he learned because now he is an expert on penguins:) haha

First "official" school project:)

It was actually surprisingly fun to do something different, for both the kids and myself. The best part about studying something that we know little about is finding out how much details and thought went into their creation. I was able to really emphasize how amazing animals are and how amazing and creative God is to think of such creatures. Whether your kids are homeschooled or in school it doesn’t matter, exploring creation with our kids is a gift to them! Take some time to learn about something new and then give glory to God for his amazing creation. We are looking forward to learning more about the blue whale tomorrow…apparently this whale has a heart the size of a car crazy?!

May you be blessed and encouraged this week as you walk in the revelation of God our creator!!!