Woman of the Word

Open your Eyes: Jeremiah 1:11-12

I’ve spent my whole life in ministry. My major in college was ministry (and that’s a WHOLE different topic on my opinion of how we educate and train ministers). My husband and I met there because we were both youth ministry majors and proceeded to spend many years either in volunteer, fund-raising based or (glory be) full-time paid youth ministry. From there we went on pursue church planting and all that entails. So our whole marriage has been marked by doing shoulder-to-shoulder ministry work. Everything aimed at that goal. We’ve either been training, planning or implementing ministry in some form or fashion for our whole adult life.

From 19 years in ministry (which is admittedly not exhaustive or even extensive by ministry standards–but I’d like to think it at least qualifies me to speak from experience) I can tell you that there is no magic pill, no incantation, no quick fix to any problem, issue, trouble, hurt, or sin. Whatever the question, the Gospel is the answer. Always. But how to apply the GOspel, how to speak the Gospel into those situations is never formulaic. THere are no easy answers. We are broken fallen people, in a broken fallen world, hopeless and helpless and in desperate need of a savior. Enter Jesus. And HE does business with our sin and shame and hurt and fears. But it is almost always a process. A process of repentance. Again and again. A process of restoration, slowly, painfully. A process of redemption, moving from slavery to sin to freedom in Christ step by faithful step. And what do ministers do? THey serve. THey come alongside. They faithfully speak the Gospel. They administer the art of presence. They are salt and light.

However, we are all ministers. We are all priests of God, bringing the people to God. We are all prophets of GOd, bringing God to the people. We are ministers of the Gospel. So, aside from a ministry degree, seminary training, systematic theology and an upper level Greek class what can you do to be equipped for this calling? Like Jeremiah, you are called to go where God sends you and speak the words He puts in your mouth. So what does that look like?

11And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almonda branch.” 12Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:11-12

Yes, we’re still in chapter 1. But I believe that the initial calling of Jeremiah reveals so much about how God operates in our lives as He calls us to hard things, to difficult things, to impossible things. So I want to inch through this a bit. Really looking at God and Jeremiah.

The first thing after God calls Jeremiah, he asks him to do one thing: Look. Open his human eyes and see what God puts before him. It’s a good first step in any situation. Open your eyes. Shut your mouth. Be slow to speak. What do you see? What is in front of your face? Where is the hurt? Where is the rebellion? Where are you not believing God? Where is that person not believing God? What do you see?

In this circumstance, God was showing Jeremiah something specific: a vision. First, an almond branch. THat would make no sense if you don’t speak fluent Hebrew, but “almond” in Hebrew sounds like “Shaw-Kade” and “watching over” is “shaw-kahd”. Very similar. God is making a play on words here. Similar to how we manipulate words in a knock-knock joke to be verbally ironic.

Knock! knock!

Who’s there?

A Little Old Lady

A Little Old Lady Who?

I didn’t know you could yodel!

I know, I know. Sigh. But that’s what’s happens with God and Jeremiah. God tells the first knock, knock joke, but no one’s laughing because it’s not supposed to be funny. It’s a promise.

God is watching over His word. That means that He is guaranteeing it. He’s personally overseeing the delivery. This isn’t being delegated. He is essentially telling Jeremiah that whatever He hears from now on out, Jeremiah can take it to the bank, no matter how crazy or drastic or unbelievable or scary or sad or hopeful. It is as good as done.

And we can too. We can take God’s Word to the bank. If He says “I am working all things for your good,” we can believe that, even when “all things” hurt and our “good” seems really painful. If he says, “I will give you wisdom when you ask,” we can approach him liberally when we have no idea what we’re doing or supposed to be doing. No hesitation. If He says that our joy will be complete in Him and only Him, we can stop chasing after all these other fool’s gold dangling carrots the world is offering: careers, money, fame, success, pleasure, laziness, beach homes and light bodies and health and wealth and all that. We can believe that none of that will bring joy outside of Jesus Christ and that with Jesus all of that, if he adds it unto us, will just be gravy.

Don’t forget.

God doesn’t forget.

God’s going to do EXACTLY what He says.

 

Woman of the Word

Disqualified: Jeremiah Pt.3

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A few years ago, I took this awesome shot of my oldest son shooting a basketball. That’s an ambiguous description because while it implies he made it, it doesn’t flat out attest to that and therefore leaves it in the gray zone of whether or not he sunk that ball through the net. He did not. He could not possibly, except by accident, have made a basket back then. But the picture made him look totally amazing.

I feel like that’s my life a lot of times. You catch me in the right moment and you get the impression that I’ve got it all together, totally squared away, sure of myself. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you could yell, “roll film”, what you saw just a few seconds later would belie the version that the snapshot told. If I could hit play on the picture above, you would watch the basketball go wildly off course and hit the ground, not even skimming the rim. If you watched me leave the store with all my quacking ducklings in tow, looking like a pro, you can just wait til we get to the car and watch me lose my mind when “buckle your seatbelt” is this entirely new concept akin to rocket science that my children cannot manage.

So who am I to be giving parenting advice or mentoring other mothers or teaching Biblical truths? No one. I’m absolutely not qualified to do any of those things. I’m groping along in the dark, just like the rest of you. But being unqualified for the task does not therefore excuse me from it.

Let us jump back in to where God has just called Jeremiah. We discussed last time that Jeremiah’s calling was not based on him or anything about him, but on WHO was doing the calling. In light of that, we probably expect Jeremiah to go whooping down the desert plains of Israel scaring the sheep in his excitement. If you’ve grown up in church there’s a certain royal stigma with “receiving your calling”. In some youth groups college groups churches, it seems to happen so often you wonder if you’re at a call-a-thon fundraising event. People gettin’ “called” left and right. And they’re always so happy.

In my experience, those who truly feel God whisper in their ear something that He has for them to do, the weight of the matter sobers them. There’s a holy humbleness that comes with being tapped on the shoulder by God. A calling is usually NOT something that highlights our gifts and talents, makes us shine. In fact, most often a calling pulls us into areas of great DIScomfort where we must press into God moment by moment to keep from falling apart. Callings are not without joys and pleasure. In fact, Paul calls it “joy unspeakable” when the Holy Spirit moves in us and through us. But we have to move out of the way first. Paul also spoke of “three times pleading for this thorn to be removed” and finally coming to grips with God’s sovereign and holy and gracious “no”. Then God spoke again and told him that “His grace is sufficient for [Paul] and [God’s] power is made perfect in [Paul’s] weakness. For when you are weak, then you are strong”. That’s a calling at work. A calling sanctifies the called first and the ones we are called to second. So feeling humbled and even a holy fear is a gift from God. It sets you up to respond in dependence and humility and to “decrease that He might increase”.

And sometimes, as in the case of Jeremiah, a calling produces fear and overwhelming feelings of being DISqualified. That is not from God. Those are lies from Satan. If our calling and qualifications are based on WHO is calling us, then we cannot be DISqualified by anything we have done, are doing, will do or cannot do. But we fall for that lie. And so did Jeremiah.

6Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7But the LORDsaid to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the LORD.”

9Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

God calls Jeremiah and Jeremiah says, “wrong number.” Why? Jeremiah’s particular excuse is that he’s too young. He thinks that being too young makes him unable to speak God’s words effectively. The scripture doesn’t tell us WHY he thought youth would disqualify him. Perhaps in ancient Jewish culture, being young meant you didn’t know what you were talking about. Perhaps being young implied a lack of education or restraint or trustworthiness. Perhaps Jeremiah himself felt he lacked the life experience, training and education to fulfill his role. Perhaps his friends told him that he was unqualified and unworthy. We aren’t told what his internal fears and thoughts were.

But I can know what my fears and thoughts are. I know exactly what makes me feel disqualified: previous failures. Eight months ago my husband and I, after much prayer and agony and agonizing prayer closed the doors on our church that we planted 4 years ago. The road to that church plant had been rocky and steep and sometimes apparently fruitless. But we felt sure we had heard God’s calling. So we pressed on. The church itself had been spiritually fruitful, but not numerically. We had many baptisms. Many marriages healed, rededication to Christ, redefining of the Gospel. We saw the Gospel go deep into people’s hearts, change their mind, refine their lives, sanctify their souls. But we also saw attack, after attack, after attack from the Enemy. If the chief end of man is to glorify and enjoy God forever, then the Enemy seeks to get us to glorify ourselves and enjoy God occasionally, on our terms, when it costs us nothing. When we fall for that temptation, we glorify ourselves or others instead of God. And God, while the perfection of grace, will not share His glory with another.  We attempted to please everyone, and so pleased no one, chief of which was God. So, in light of the drama and chaos and lack of fruit in evangelism, we had our final service, bid everyone adieu and tearfully closed the doors on that church and that season.

And it was awful. People were hurt, understandably, and they were angry, not as understandable. People got nasty. They slandered us, lied about us, refused to be our friends any more, or even attempt to reconcile. It was one of the most painful times of my life.

And I felt disqualified.

Disqualified from ministry. Disqualified from teaching. Disqualified from writing. Disqualified from friendship or church membership or even life with Christ. I was ashamed and hurt and paralyzed with fear. What if they were right about me?

I spent months healing. Dealing with my pain and hurt and doing business with God about my sin and my failures.

Then I began to feel God calling me to operate in my gifts again. Calling me to write. To speak the Gospel. To plug-in again.

And I said, “Nope. Wrong number.”

Because I felt disqualified.

But I wasn’t. I’m not.

Not because I nailed it. But because Jesus did.

My calling, my work, my ministry is not based on past successes or failures. It’s based on His sacrifice. His sacrifice covers all. It covers my past sins, assuredly. But it also covers my past failures, bumbles, bad decisions and wrong choices. It covers where I’ve hurt people and where I failed them. And where they failed me. When Jesus calls us He doesn’t call us as perfect people, but to grant to us His perfection. He doesn’t call us because He knows what work we’re capable of but because he knows what works He is capable of doing IN and THROUGH us.

And our failures, the very things we think disqualify us are often not failures at all. Our church closing was not a failure. Not obeying when He called would have been a failure. Like Jeremiah, we are not responsible for the outcome.

We are not responsible for whether our children go to a good college and get a good job and are good spouses and co-workers and parents. We are responsible for giving them the Gospel, praying for and with them, modeling repentance, pointing them to Jesus, leading the way to delight.

We’re not responsible for our company succeeding, making their profit margins grow or making their stock more valuable. We’re responsible for doing our work to the glory of God, speaking and living the Gospel to our co-workers, modeling grace, living in the Kingdom that we are loyal to.

We’re not responsible for making our spouse or friends happy. We are responsible for loving and respecting our spouses and friends, washing them with the Word, giving them grace, making our homes an outpost for the Kingdom, viewing our homes as our first mission field.

You, like Jeremiah, have a calling “to all to whom [God] send[s] you, you shall go,
and whatever [God] command[s] you, you shall speak.”  The call didn’t include “make them listen” or “make them see reason” or “make them repent”. God doesn’t hold us responsible for how it turns out. He just asks us to obey.

And we are all qualified to simply obey. All of us can do what we are asked to do. No matter what has happened in the past. NO matter what others think of us. No matter what we think of us.

Why?

Because we’re so great?

No!

Because God has touched us. He touched Jeremiah’s mouth and put His words in them. He has touched your mouth as well. Your hands. Your feet. Your life. He will use you exactly has He desires.

Whatever you think is disqualifying you is not as big as God’s touch on your  life. Whatever you’re scared of, God has promised to be with you to deliver you. He may not deliver you from difficulty. I can almost guarantee this life will be difficult. But he will deliver you from disqualification, whether from internal or external lies. His calling is the final say.

And obedience will always be fruitful. It will change us more and more into His image. It will put us in His hands to be used by Him. It will put us on the front lines to see Him at work in others’ lives. And it may get worse before it gets better. For Jeremiah there was plucking up and breaking down, and overthrowing and destroying before he finally got to see the building and planting. But the chaos will give way to creation. The darkness will give way to day. And we will be right in the middle of God’s plan when we are yielded to Him.

“giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” Colossians 1:12

Woman of the Word

No Excuses-Jeremiah Study 2

Jeremiah was a normal man. Normal life. Normal Job. Normal faith. The only notable exception was, he was a prophet, a man who heard from God and spoke for him. That might sound glamorous or exciting or delightful. But I think you will find that in Jeremiah’s time, much like in our time, those who speak boldly for God and His truth are not popular and sometimes have very little return for their investment. Depraved people (that’s Israel–and also, that’s me—and also, that’s you) aren’t particularly fond of hearing about their sin, and they’re even less fond of repenting, or turning away from their sin.

However, when it comes to being a prophet the focus is not on the object of the prophecy, nor on the subject or verb. It’s not even on the speaker of the prophecy. The focus is on the source. Jeremiah was not to be concerned about how likely these people were to receive the message. He did not take a Gallup poll and determine if the audience had a high probability of buying what he was selling. This was not a MLM deal. This was truth. and truth does not bow to popular opinion or cater to society’s current tastes or vie for approval in the community. Truth is truth whether we like it, agree with it, accept it or not.

So, God calls Jeremiah to speak truth.

4Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Do you see the basis of God’s calling on his life? Jeremiah’s calling was NOT based on his qualifications, giftedness, natural proclivities or even his ideal location. Jeremiah’s calling was rooted first and foremost in WHO made him, not HOW he was made. God created Jeremiah. God planned Jeremiah out and intimately knew him even before He began the breathtaking and beautiful task of forming him. Before God orchestrated the mysterious and almost magical mixing of DNA, egg and sperm, to create a human, to determined the shape of his nose and the length of his legs and the shade of his eyes, God knew Jeremiah’s heart, mind and soul. And into that heart, mind and soul, God poured His Words, his powerful, precious words. Before He even formed Jeremiah’s lips he had anointed them to speak His truth. In fact, it was the potent fact of being known by God that determined who Jeremiah would become.

Our identity is also rooted in who made us. Our calling has so little to do with what we think we are or are not qualified for and so much to do with Who is calling us. In fact, our being known and planned and determined by God, sanctifies and blesses our external circumstances. Knowing God has made us each in His image and yet, the sacred paradox, each unique, should make each facet of your life both holy and flexible. Holy, because God placed you in your life for His purpose: the time, the place, the parents, the friends, the hurts, the victories. None of that is a surprise to Him and it can all be used for his Glory and your good. Flexible because it can change at any moment and still be just as ordained and ordered by God. To accept from His hands the monotonous mundane and the crazy chaotic and bend with each to see His glory and do His will is walking by faith.

Jeremiah, the nobody from nowhere was called by the Ultimate Someone to be. Not to do. Jeremiah wasn’t asked to DO prophecy. He was asked to BE a prophet. I’m not asked to DO mothering, wifeing, friending. That would be painful, a job. I’m asked to BE a wife, mother and friend, a daughter, sister, worshiper. It’s not a vocation. It’s a calling. I was already made to do this. To be this. To live this life. Wherever this life takes me, I’m still being me. The “me” that was made and known and consecrated and anointed by God for His will. I can face those circumstances knowing that they are not whims to wear me down, but ordained to sanctify me and glorify Him.

I want to be clear here. The “me” that God created was born into a fallen world to fallen parents and by nature a child of wrath. To adopt the attitude of “this is just who I am and you and I will just have to accept it” is the opposite of walking by faith. Our world tells us that we should “love you the way you are” and “you are enough” and “beYOUtiful”. And each of those, in the context of the Gospel, has an element of truth. But in the hands of our Enemy, they reek of the worship of self. Our identity and worth is found in Who made us and How He redeemed us, and that He is sanctifying us.

He’s taking the pieces of you and me, the raw material, damaged in the fall and cleansing it, shaping it, reforming it into His image, the image of His son. Imageo Dei is the idea that every person on earth is made by God in His image, which involves us being 3 part creatures as He is three-part God, body, soul, and spirit, and having an eternal element, stretching forward as He is an infinite God encompassing time forward and backward. But our Imageo Dei was warped and shattered by and in the fall. Our sinful father Adam generously passed his sinfulness down through generations. We have inherited both his Imageo Dei and his “child of wrath” nature. However, when God calls us, saves us and grafts us into His vine, He takes our Imageo dei, and sanctifies it into the Image of Christ.

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:49

So as our natural talents, interests and personalities go through the refining fire of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit within us, they are redeemed to be used by Him for His glory and our good and ultimate joy. So “I’m just bossy, that’s who I am” becomes, “God gifted me with leadership, and I use that with grace and gentleness for His Kingdom”. “I’m just outspoken, that’s who I am” becomes, under Jesus’ refinement, “I speak the truth, IN LOVE, by applying the Gospel to areas where I see people enslaved to sin.” “I’m just naturally shy,” becomes “My quiet spirit helps me to see past the noise and chaos to those who need a gentle word.” “I like books; I like games; I like shopping; I like running; I like travel; I’m a homebody” All of those, when surrendered to Christ can be how God uses you to reach the broken, hurting people around you who share those interests. When you do not spend them on yourself, when you invest the talents God has entrusted to you, then you receive return for your investment, and growth for the Kingdom. Like Esther, you should trust that God placed you whereever you are “for such a time as this.”

But do not confuse your fallen sinful self, for your “how God made me” self. “I’m naturally selfish, or proud or angry” may be true, but we are no longer slaves to the natural man. That is the part that will be put to death in Christ. That’s not a personality. That’s a pet sin. And no one should keep those around as pets. They’re man-eaters. Put them to death!

Woman of the Word

Obedience When It Hurts: Studies in Jeremiah– Intro

When my first child was born, it was not magical, beautiful or mystical. It was sweaty, gritty and exhausting. I was in labor for 48 hours. Yes. All of them. I don’t mean pushing for 48 hours, but it’s not called “labor” because they were being hyperbolic. I had food poisoning at 36 weeks, threw up for hours and when I finally felt slightly better my water broke, probably from the violent upheaval, but never-the-less, there’s no going back. We waited for contractions to start in earnest and then began the hard work. Two full days later, shaking with exhaustion and helpless against the tidal waves of birth, I pushed Judah into this world.

After (only) 8 months of pregnancy, dreaming, name-picking, birth classes and showers, I expected the rush and elation of joy, the magical fairies to come down and touch me with their wands and my heart to open in ecstasy. Instead, gasping with weariness and wrung out of everything I had to physically give and then some, I stared at my brand new son and thought, “I wonder when his parents are coming to get him? I need a nap!” I kid you not. I had nearly no emotional connection between that beautiful, perfectly formed baby wriggling next to me, and the child I had grown inside me, cooing and singing to and dreaming about. My “mama-bear instinct” kicked in immediately. He was fed, changed, swaddled, held and protected. I knew from my marrow that I had to keep him alive and I would have fought wild beasts for him. But that love that makes you scared to breathe didn’t wash over me immediately. In fact, it was about 2 days later that I glanced over at him sleeping and caught my breath as tears filled my eyes and I fell in love with him.

From the moment he was conceived he was my child. From the moment I brought him into the world, he was my son. The blessing of falling in love with him was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. But my feelings for him did not make me a mom. Giving birth to him made me a mom. And in those intervening days between becoming a mom and feeling like a mom I was overwhelmed with doubt and fear. I questioned whether God had lost His mind giving me this precious child. WHat did I know about being a mom? I didn’t even know how to change a diaper. I can’t begin to describe the agony and struggle of learning how to nurse. Why was I trusted with this divine appointment? I was horribly, embarrassingly, laughably unqualified. And yet…I was called.

Have you ever been asked to do something you were wildly unqualified for? Woefully under-prepared? Embarrassingly inept at? Like, I don’t know, parenting? Being married? Doing a ministry? Most of the time, we can bow out of a situation when we realize we are not the best choice or the best qualified or the most likely candidate. However, there are times, like marriage, parenting and ministry, when we must face the fact that we are underqualified and still called. When we must put our hand to the plow and not look back. When we must trust the One who has called us over our own perception of ourselves.

That is the story of Jeremiah. That is his position. And we will walk with him through a vast array of emotions and responses to the calling. But mostly what we will see is his unerring, just-do-the-next-thing, obedience.

And that is ultimately what we are called to as well.

Obedience.

In the face of our failures, ineptitude, struggles, doubts, worries and even anger. We must obey.

Are you ready for this journey? ARe you ready to lay it all down, surrender, and allow God to work through you? Then join me as we journey through Jeremiah!

Adventure Schooling

Adventure Schooling: Defined

So, there’s been a lot of lead up…

What IS “adventure schooling”?!?!

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Well, not to delay for ever, I still must start by telling you what it’s NOT. Sorry!

First, adventure schooling is NOT unschooling.

According to wikipedia, “Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.” John Holt defines it as “you live and learn together, pursuing questions and interests as they arise and using conventional schooling on an “on demand” basis, if at all.”

So why is Adventure Schooling not Unschooling?

First, I would say that I believe the art of unschooling has its place in home schooling, especially the early years, when we are so excited to start, but overly structured schooling will quickly backfire and kill the love of learning in children. The other place I find it invaluable is when you are transitioning into homeschooling from a bad experience in the public or private school sector. Often kids go through a detox period known as de-schooling where you attempt to remove the “automaton” brain from them and re-insert natural curiosity and delight. At those times unschooling can be highly advantageous.

However, long-term I find unschooling to be counterproductive. Why?!? Well, in short, because of depravity. My children’s? Certainly! My own? Without a doubt. Allowing their curiosity to determine not only what we learn but IF we learn on any given day is dangerous. Because in our culture and in our wicked sinful hearts, there will be lots of days when they and I have no natural curiosity. In an ideal world, we would wake up in the morning excited to learn something new and to add to something old. But we don’t live in an ideal world do we? Not since Eden. So, we wake up lazy, distracted, muddled, restless. Sometimes we don’t even want to wake up. The dangerous freedom of no expectations causes us to roll over and go back to sleep, physically and mentally. Expectations seem to follow the rule of rising to the level demanded, if there are none, we almost always meet them! So, Adventure schooling is not unschooling.

Adventure Schooling is also not delight-driven learning.

Delight-directed or driven learning is generally defined as child-led and parent-facilitated. What the child is interested in or curious about determines the course of study and they are encouraged to research, read, study and implement in areas of their interest and curiosity. THe parent stands as research assistant, material gatherer and overseer of projects, ensuring that learning is actually taking place.

How is adventure schooling different from delight-driven learning? Well, first, I love the idea of delight-driven learning. I believe that is how we tend to learn the most and how we continue to learn long after we are out of school. In fact, if our school/tutors/parents have done their job of making us life-long learners, this is how we will learn for the rest of our lives.

HOwever, I have two main reasons for this not being my path of choice now. First, and the biggest factor for me, I have SIX CHILDREN!! Who, in my home, should get to determine what we are learning on any given day? And while I see delight-driven homeschool homes where each child pursues their own course of study, that seems isolating and still not pursuing learning as a family. So, I wanted us all together and therefore, we would be picking one persons interest over the other 5 at any given moment making it NOT delight-driven but prescribed learning for 5/6ths of my children.

Secondly, I believe, again, that delight driven learning, being how we learn as adults, has its place in schooling, but after you have been taught the structure and building blocks of learning. In fact, you must not only be taught HOW to learn but WHAT there is to learn and WHY you would want to learn any of it before you should go off willy-nilly in learning whatever you want. THe reason we are able to pursue our own interests as adults is precisely because we were given a wide variety of things we were required to learn as children that gave us a taste for one in particular. I don’t know if I like grilled asparagus until I have been given a bit on my plate to try. I may even have to try it several times before I develop a taste for it. And I find children who would love very much to study nothing but cheetahs and snakes for years, later become engineers or preachers. If they were allowed to pursue only their own interests and not forced to try something new, they would not have discovered physics or theology. That’s my job as a parent to push them in the other directions.

Thirdly, Adventure schooling is not strictly classical schooling.

First, I adore classical schooling. With all my heart, I wish I had been classically educated. The rhythm and flow, the natural alignment of subjects with the historical period being studied, the building blocks laid down first, the beauty of the trivium following our natural maturity all appeals so greatly to me that I almost have a crush on it! And I will admit that both the scope and sequence and the structure along with the rigorous demands of classical education serves as my general outline, the skeleton if you will of my plan for adventure schooling.

However, I will restate my struggle over this: I. have. six. boys. I’m not trying to give easy excuses. It’s not laziness or lack of discipline. Rather it’s sheer science. Boys, especially boys all pack together in a home without a single feminine counterpart, build up an intensity of energy so great that we could often light a fire from the electrons sparking in my house. They are so full of gusto that they can barely keep from humming! So, while I began classical style grammar with my 11-year-old this year, and he learned a great deal (he can diagram a sentence like a pro), it was with weary acquiescence that he opened his book, and a review page that ought to take 20 minutes would take 3 times that long because he had no drive for it.

Does that mean I throw grammar out? My oldest struggles with spelling which makes writing difficult and slow. Do we break all the pencils? Give up? No! May it never be! But do we strive harder and more fervently in the same manner and expect magically that all things will come right in the end? Also, a hearty “no”! “The quickest way forward is often back!”-Lewis

Finally, Adventure Schooling is not entirely Charlotte Mason

For those dyed-in-the-wool Mason-ites, you make me trilling with the idea that you have guessed what Adventure schooling is! “It’s Charlotte Mason!” you’re squealing. But no cigar. It’s not strictly Charlotte Mason, though she’s so close. Why is it not Charlotte Mason? To be honest, I cannot claim to be a CM educator when I have never read more than a few blogs on her ideas and ways. I would hardly want to call what I do by her name when I don’t adhere entirely to her methods or ways.

What I do take from her is her adamant rule of sending children outside every day, short concise lessons, rich literature and plenty of narration. We do all of that. And I have found so much freedom in learning how to do as she does, freedom to release my children after lunch to pursue their interests. That’s when “delight learning” can happen with my full approval. However, we don’t learn 4 languages at a time (right now) or any other than English. We certainly don’t study multiple histories at once. Our composer studies have much lacking from them. Sometimes we wing it (gasp).

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So, what then IS Adventure Schooling?

Adventure Schooling is directed delight! (see what I did there? ;)) I point my children in the direction I want their interest and curiosity to go, and then we walk the path together. We follow a classical sequence, a charlotte mason schedule, and in the midst chase a few rabbits down unit studies that lend themselves. In adventure schooling we do grammar, learn our multiplication tables, copy Bible passages and our favorite passages from good books, work on memory work, learn world history in order, read rich literature, biographies, Shakespeare and science books. We expect high quality work. We strive for excellence. And we also get really, really, dirty and sweaty and wet and muddy. We wade through creeks, pick up caterpillars, study leaves under microscopes, look at meteorites, collect rocks, test water density, act out history scenes, listen to audio books as we drive to new trails, take pictures, draw pictures, paint pictures, analyze pictures. We build scenes from the Bible, history and literature out of legos, peg boards or just sticks. Narration comes verbally, or pictorially, or dramatically. We’re homeschoolers who are hardly at home (which helps with chore time–if we’re not here to mess it up, then it stays clean),but we can be found most mornings on the porch with coffee and tea and our Bibles and novels and poetry books.

I guess Adventure Schooling, to me, means making learning delightful again. I do not see myself as their “teacher”, after all, there’s so much I don’t know and am learning along side them. I see myself as their “tutor”. I learn a little ahead of them and then hold their hand as they climb up on to the higher step next to me. But I lead the way. Not their whims and fancies, but rather what I know will feed them. We may occasionally eat a piece of candy, but I’d hardly allow them to call it a meal. They feast on the rich ideas that I know will sustain them.

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I’m not inventing the wheel, or reinventing the wheel. I’m putting the wheel on my vehicle. I invite you to do the same. Decide what you believe about learning: WHAT one should learn, HOW one learns best, and most importantly WHY they should learn. Why they should at all and why they should learn any one thing. Does it glorify God? Does it drive them deeper into Him? Does it sanctify, instruct, and bless?

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Think about these things.

Adventure Schooling · Parenting

Adventure Schooling: The Journey Part 2

When I went looking for a vision for how to educate my children, I took the twisty, windy path. First, let me HIGHLY recommend Cathy Duffy’s Book 102 Top Picks for Home School Curriculum. Why? Because it’s awesome! There’s a quiz right from the beginning to help you find your teaching style, your child’s learning style and curriculum that falls into both areas (think Venn Diagram style). This was incredibly eye-opening for me. I had worked a lot with learning styles as my job in and after college. I was very aware of visual/audio/kinesthetic styles and mixtures of all of them. What was mind-blowing for me was the “teaching styles”. It’s not primarily about verbal/visual/hands-on. Duffy’s take on it is more about passion and how your brain works as a teacher. How much hand holding do you need and want from a curriculum? How deep do you want to dive? How much say do you want to have over the scope and sequence or just the extras? There’s a curriculum for that. And you could waste thousands of dollars learning that this-or-that curriculum is physically painful for you to teach. And I can testify that it matters very little how effective the curriculum is for your kids, if you hate teaching it it won’t work for them. Why? Because if you hate teaching it, you will AVOID teaching it. Curriculum that never gets taught is no more effective than curriculum that you never bought!

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So first, go buy or borrow Duffy’s book and learn what you like.

THe other thing she said that was über helpful was, “Even if you get matched with a curriculum for both your teaching style and your child’s learning style, if you have multiple children and that includes littles, some of this curriculum might not be for you.” (My interpretation of what she said)

aha!

Lightbulb moment!

My oldest two, with their learning styles, and my passions and teaching style, both landed us solidly on “unit studies”. BUT (and its a big but) unit studies were one of the primary ones listed under “don’t attempt when you have 7,000 kids and a nursing baby”, which I fell solidly in that category!

So I made the command (read desperate) decision to swerve away from unit studies for several years.

Best. Choice. Ever.

I got some curriculum that was scripted, easy to understand, heavy on content and light on teacher-prep-work and we hung there for a long time. It was the only way I was going to actually get anything done.

But last year, I came up for air. I have weaned my last baby. My commitments outside the home are on standby for the time being, and I have some breathing room. THis gave me the chance to re-evaluate. What did I want from home school? What are my priorities for my boys before I send them out into the world? What do I want my legacy as a teacher of my kids to be?

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First, I want them to know and love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. I figure, if the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then the chief end of everything they pursue is the same. Therefore, the chief end of our home school days and years is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Secondly, I want passion for them. I want them to be ravenous. I want them loving Jesus with all their MIND to be as source of joy and a means to loving their neighbors as well. I want them to learn to ask the “so what” questions and then DO something about it. But how do I do that? What’s important?

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To answer that God took me on two journeys. One to Great Homeschool Convention where I got to hear Dr. Christopher Perrin and Andrew Kern and Adam Andrews speak. I fell in love with Circe institute and Classical Academic Press and Teaching from Rest and Center for Lit. It wasn’t how smart they were. The whole world is pursing “smart”. It was their genuine wisdom, which begins with their deep and reverent fear of the Lord. Their insatiable appetite for Jesus Christ and His Gospel as revealed not only in His Word, but in all words when used for His glory, was contagious. I felt like I finally found not only a “how” but a “why”. A vision for teaching that married my great love of Jesus with my great love of learning. Now they were one and the same!

But I came back and realized that I had figured out the trivium but not the passion. I did, after all, have 6 BOYS (yes, all boys). Sometimes their knees don’t bend at right angles, sitting for 15 minutes much less 5 hours is counterproductive, so cramming in all this knowledge from all these amazing men and women and curriculum…well, we needed something more. Something I finally realized wasn’t found in a box or book (*gasp*), but in me! They needed to see my passion. They needed to touch and feel and see and do, what we were learning. They needed to gather leaves when we’re studying botany, not just from our trees, but from ALL THE TREES. They needed to see layers of rock when we were studying sedimentation. They needed to act out some verbs in a field somewhere. They needed to draw and paint some flowers and a Van Gogh. This is not new. I did not just invent the wheel. What I did was put it together into one vision for our family!

I’ll keep sharing in the next post.

Adventure Schooling · Parenting

Adventure Schooling–The Journey Begins

I home school. Yes, I do. It’s not something I saw myself doing growing up. The only homeschoolers I knew were awkward and intense! But God loves irony, especially situational irony, and of course, poetic justice!

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In college, I met two amazing friends who were both homeschooled. They were delightful, unique and quite un-conformable in ways that inspired me. All that, and they had gone to school in their pajamas! How?

After college, I began to see the world and my place in it differently. I began to have my heart-broken for the state of children and education. I believe if there had been different choices along the way, I would have been a teacher. I truly love learning and teaching, but as Aslan says, “what might have been…no one can know, but what WILL be, anyone can find out.”

Skip ahead to the birth of my first child. I was a fish out of water. I have never been a cooing baby lover. I hardly ever babysat and then only older children. I didn’t fight to be the first to hold a baby and as a result, some of the first diapers I ever changed were my own son’s! But to the rescue (of me or Judah I can only assume…) came my dear friend Niki Nowell! Oh thank heavens! This veteran mom of 3 handed me a beat up copy of Babywise, talked me off the ledge that is the first month (or 6) of breastfeeding, and offered a hot cup of tea. Then she calmly returned to educating her children.

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I was grateful and intrigued. These incredibly bright, curious, energetic children gathered around the table to read, add, draw, and write. They did chores in between lessons, they made up whole worlds to play in, they wrote stories, read stories, acted out stories. They spent every minute together and didn’t hate one another. Fascinating! My brother and I had only tolerated each other until my parents divorce and then…well, the enemy of my enemy, etc. So how were these kids so close?

I was totally sold. I was going to home school!

What’s the first thing you do when you decide to homeschool?

Make every. single. mistake possible.

No learning from others mistakes. Oh no! You must make them all yourself. I’ve found this pretty universally true of homeschoolers. No matter how many rookies I talk to through the years, no matter how many cautionary tales I share, every one has to make all the mistakes themselves. I was no different.

I promptly set my son up for failure by making him my badge of honor as a homeschooler. I needed him to earn my stripes for me and justify my existence as a home school mom. I force-fed him his ABCs, shoved reading down his throat, bought every “educational” game and book available and promptly began throwing “pop-quizzes” at him, which I would then react badly when he failed miserably. The proof that God is gracious and kids are resilient is borne out in my son still managing to love books, reading and learning! Hallelujah!

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As the years went by and I met more and more homeschooled families what I began to realize is that when you do mainstream, you do mainstream like everyone else, path marked, steps clearly defined. When you go rogue, everyone goes rogue in their own way. There is no clearly delineated “right” way to go off the beaten path. Terms I never knew existed began being thrown at me willy-nilly: unschooling, classical, delight-driven, charlotte mason, STEM, STEAM, notebooking, lapbooking, boxed curriculum…Lord have mercy!

And what I realized I was short on was vision.

What kind of homeschool did I actually want to reproduce?

I will dive into that next time! What’s your schooling story?