A Much Needed Break

This week was break week in our homeschool. Can I get a “holla” from all the homeschool mommas reading this? 😉 Let’s face it, as much as we love homeschooling our kids, it is not all sunshine and roses. Some days it’s just plain hard! The discipline to keep showing up and guiding our children through the work of learning is hard to cultivate, both in ourselves and in them. So it is good to take a break sometimes and step back to breathe, rest and re-evaluate how everything is going.

We just finished Term 1 of AmblesideOnline Year 2, so it was high time for a break after plugging along for 12 weeks without stopping. The funny thing was that this week, my kids acted like they didn’t even know what to do with themselves half the time. They are so accustomed to our normal daily routine on week days that not having that same structure left them wondering what to do. Even my 2 year old was asking for school! I take this as a good sign that our daily rhythm is working well for our family and that it is providing what they need to get their days off to a good start!

At the same time, though, I needed a break to recuperate, reevaluate and reorganize before plunging ahead into the next term. And I feel like I have accomplished that this week. Here’s how:

Recuperate:

The first thing I did after we finished school last Friday was to put all the school book in the homeschool cupboard, just as they were, and shut the doors. Then I proceeded to spend the next three days not even thinking about homeschool stuff. I didn’t plan or prep anything. I didn’t clean up anything other than to just shove it in the cupboard out of sight. I just let myself clear my head and not worry about what was done or what was coming up. It was lovely!

Reevaluate:

On Tuesday of break week, I finally sat down with my son to go through his Year 2 Term 1 exam questions. AmblesideOnline has these exams already all set up for us, so all I had to do what print off the questions! Then we sat on the couch and he told me as much as he could remember from different books, did a few oral math problems, recited some memory work, etc. It was pretty quick and painless. The important thing about these exams is that they give me a chance to look at some weak spots in my teaching. It is not so much about grading my student as it is grading myself. If he didn’t remember very much of his Spanish vocabulary or know a term we were supposed to have studied in Geography, it is not because he was not trying. (I can tell when he is just trying to get out of doing the work of narration or recall!) It shows me that we did not spend enough time in those areas to let him make the connections with the material. So I know that I need to shore up those subjects next term.

Reorganize:

Finally, on Wednesday, I sat down with all my school planning resources and got to work planning for the next term. Creating new memory work pages for April was first on the docket. Then I wrote out lesson plans for the first week of the next term. I printed out new math worksheets and the next month’s set of nature study lesson plans. Finally, when all the planning was finished, I set about the un-glamorous task of cleaning out and reorganizing the homeschool cupboard. I don’t know how these spaces get so cluttered so quickly, but it had become quite a mess! I sorted and tossed and filed and rearranged…I even sharpened all the colored pencils! Hours later, I finally had a neat and tidy home for all our school books and supplies once more, and I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders.

After that work was done, I was free to enjoy the rest of our break week catching up on other tasks around the house and online. Today we had a family fun day, since my husband is off from work for Good Friday. We let the kids use up some Toys R Us gift cards that they were saving before that store goes out of business. Then we explored the Cool Springs Galleria mall because I had not found the time to wander over there yet. We ended with lunch at a Chinese buffet, and we all came home happy, full and sleepy! I know to some people it doesn’t sound that exciting, but for us, it was just right.

That’s what break week looked like here in our neck of the woods. I’d love to hear what you do in your homeschool during breaks! Leave me a comment and tell me something you love to use your breaks for!

 

How Embarrassing! – True Confessions of a Book Blogger

I am going to admit something really embarrassing as a book blogger. I debated whether or not to even post about this because y’all are going to laugh at me. But they say confession is a laugh, I am going to just put it all out there.

Readers, I finished an entire book, loved the book, and even blogged and posted on social media about this book….all while thinking I was reading an entirely different book! Ugh. There I said it. Want to know what book I was actually reading, versus which book I thought I was reading?

Ok, I just finished Call the of the Wild. I thought it was White Fang. Again, ugh!

In my defense, I was not actually reading this book with my eyes but listening to it on audio via the Volumes app on my iPad. And at least I was reading a book about a dog, and it was by the same author. But I still feel really silly. I mean, the audio book cover art DOES have the title right there on it. And I just overlooked it completely. I had the title “White Fang” stuck in my head, so I just kept on believing that was what I was listening to. Nevermind the fact that the words “call” and “wild” are key words that keep showing up over and over throughout the story. There was some mention of “fangs” in there, too, but I don’t think that justifies such a glaring mistake on my part!

So, there you have it. My embarrassing confession of reading an entire book without even knowing what I was reading! I’m sure there is some deeper meaning or lesson you could pull out of this silly little story of mine, but I’m not even going to try and redeem myself at this point. I am, however, going to sit down and actually start reading the REAL White Fang by Jack London now, since I picked up the print copy from my local library today. I’ll tell you how it goes!

But before I close, someone please tell me you’ve done something like this before! After all, confession is good for the soul!

Join the April Scripture Writing Challenge

Last week I shared some of my top reasons for writing out the Scriptures, and that post got me to thinking. Why not invite my reading community here to join me in writing the Word together? There is nothing like the accountability and encouragement of others to help us grow in our faith, as well as in building new habits.

During the month of April, I am going to be writing out the whole book of Philippians. Would you like to join me? I have already created a schedule with the book divided up into manageable daily passages to copy. I even created a printable that you can download and print out to keep handy in your notebook or journal. Each week I plan to send out a special encouragement email with a short devotional on what I have learned as I have been writing out the verses that week. And I would love for you to dig into the Word with me so we can challenge and encourage each other!

You can sign up for the Philippians Scripture Writing Challenge using the button below. When you do, you will receive a welcome email containing the link to the printable guide, as well as be added to the email list to get the weekly devotionals. We will be starting on Easter Sunday, April 1st, which I thought was as good a time as any to begin (or continue) focussing on Christ through His Word!

Join the April Scripture Writing Challenge here!

Rhythms and Routines #fiveminutefriday

rhythms and routines

I could go in so many different directions with this week’s “routine” prompt! (Which means I should probably think about doing some posts on related topics!) But I think I’ll stick with why I love rhythms and routines as a non-type A personality and as a mom of young children.

I used to try to create a schedule with times to do specific things during my days. This never, ever, ever, ever worked for me! I could not stick to a schedule for more than one day, if I could even get through that first day at all! So I thought I was just not a person who could organize my days. But then if I just went through days without any direction at all, I felt very disorganized and lost.

Enter: Rhythms and Routines!

For me a routine is more like a rhythm that helps provide a general structure to my days without being rigid or scheduled. I know that I need to do some things during certain parts of my day, but not at specific set times. A routine gives me grace to switch things up if I need to in order to accommodate our ever-changing schedule. But it still gives some direction as to the general outline of each day and keeps things somewhat predictable, both for me and my kids.

And that’s another thing about having a routine… My kids know generally what to expect of each day. They aren’t left guessing about everything because that would leave them feeling uneasy, too.

Rhythms and routines keep us sane and stable while giving us room to be flexible. So if you don’t work well with a schedule, but you know you need structure, give a routine a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

5 Reasons I Love Writing the Scriptures

This past year I have finally found a good rhythm for my daily quiet time, something that I can be consistent with, even when I don’t have a lot of time or energy. Want to know my little secret? It’s pretty simple, actually. I am writing out Scripture, copying a few verses, by hand, every day. That’s it. Nothing profound or complicated. But do you know what? It works. I am meditating on Scripture and learning new things with this very simple practice. I wanted to share with you why I love studying the word this way, in hopes that you may benefit from trying it yourself!

5 Reasons I Love Writing Out the Scriptures

1. It is easy.

There I said it. Even though I’m naturally a morning person, I am also a mom. Of a toddler. Who still wakes up at random times throughout the night asking to be tucked back in or to have a drink of water. And then I can’t get back to sleep for an hour or more. (Thanks, kid!) So I’m still in a somewhat sleep deprived state a lot of the time. But I know I am a better person when I get up a good hour before my kids and have some quiet time to sip some hot tea, pray, study the Bible and read from a good book. If I have to do much intensive study early in the morning, I’m probably not going to do it. I need easy. I need a predictable routine that I can do while still in a bit of a fog. Writing Scripture by hand is an easy way to wake up my brain and start meditating on the Word without a lot of hassle. All I need is my Bible, a notebook and a pen. (And my hot tea. I can’t forget the tea!) I currently am copying whole books of the Bible at a time, so I just sit down and start where I left off.

2. It makes me focus.

If you are anything like me, especially in the early morning hours, you understand when I say that if I just sit down and read a big chunk of the Bible, I get distracted. Maybe I’m reading too fast in my eagerness to get on with planning my day. Or I am letting my mind wander off to my to-do list or that random Instagram photo I saw while I was brewing my tea. But if I have to put pen to paper and neatly copy down exactly what I’m seeing on the page, my brain has to kick into gear and actually make sense of what I’m reading and writing. Plus, there have been studies done on the actual difference it makes to hand write things instead of typing them, not to mention the data on how much better our minds retain information we read from an actual paper book than an electronic source. The whole tactile experience of this practice of copying verses straight from the text actually makes me pay closer attention to the Word!

3. It aids with meditation and memorization

This builds on the previous idea, but the act of writing something down really does help with memorization and meditation. Not only does the time it takes to write out Scripture force me to focus on just a few verses at a time, it also makes me think about what I am writing longer than simply reading the passage alone. I find myself remembering what I have written during my morning study time much later on in the day, and thinking through the greater context of those verses as well. I am not actively trying to memorize any passages right now, but if I were, I would probably try to write it out every day or two. I used to do that when I was in grade school and had to memorize a lot, and it really does help! Again, you can find a lot of studies on why and how writing and re-writing things aids in memorization, in case you want to delve into that idea a bit further!

4. It brings new passages to light.

I am currently copying down whole books of the New Testament, rather than just a few verses pulled out here and there. I know there are a lot of topical Scripture-writing plans out there, and they definitely have their place. However, I have found great benefits in copying a whole book of the Bible, especially in regards to understanding context. As my professors in Bible college always said, “Context is king!” If you read and study a passage in light of the surrounding text and the greater overarching theme of that book, you begin to understand individual verses even better than when you study them on their own. I have found this practice very enlightening and enriching to my devotional life.

5. It is free!

One of the great things about copying Scripture is that all I need is stuff I already have. It doesn’t need to be fancy to do the job. I buy inexpensive composition notebooks at Walmart for all sorts of purposes, and I just set aside a new one for Bible journalling as needed. Yes, you could buy a special journal or moleskin if you think that would motivate you to write out Scripture more. But for me, simple and cheap/free is the way to go! Bible study plans online and in print are great, but they can get so expensive. And if I am not going to have the time and mental space to really get the most out of a purchased Bible study guide, then it doesn’t really seem worth the expense. Although I do value good training in studying Scripture (I went to Bible college, after all!) I do not believe it is always necessary to have someone else tell you what the Bible says. If you are a true believer in Christ, you have the Holy Spirit to enlighten you to the meaning of God’s Word. So you don’t need fancy Bible study tools all the time. You just need to pray and ask Him to speak through His Word! Then read it and listen to what He has to say!

What are you waiting for?

Now that you know just a few of MY reasons for using Scripture writing as a Bible study and devotional tool, why don’t you try it out for yourself! Maybe you will find even more reasons to love copying the Word that I didn’t mention. If you do, I hope you’ll come back here and leave a comment. We can encourage each other along the way!

 

This post is part of the Grace and Truth Weekly Christian Link-up. To read more or participate, visit ArabahJoy.com.