Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum: What We Used

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We are wrapping up our first year of homeschool around here and I wanted to share what we ended up using. I LOVE reading what other moms use and I’ve gotten so many wonderful ideas from other moms. This is NOT a post about the “right” curriculum choices or “look what I did” or “look what my kids did.” NO ONE can tell you what to use for your children. This is merely what we used, and if you resonate with the Charlotte Mason style homeschool, or even if you don’t, you may pick up an idea or two. When I was starting out, I spent hours and hours reading and researching every homeschool curriculum, blog, and idea on the internet! I’m sharing in hopes of helping another mom. And I remember the blogs and videos that helped me so much, so I want to pay it forward! You know how Sarah Mackenzie always posts her details? Well I’m one of the ones who gobbles them all up, so I’m sharing too. 🙂

What did you use this year and love? And what are you thinking of using next year?? I will have a 1st grader, so please share any favorite resources!! I’m already planning. 🙂

Here’s the quick run down, and below I’ll go into detail:

Reading: Alphaphonics
Handwriting: The Good and The Beautiful Level 2 and copywork from her daily Bible reading
Math: Math-U-See, Primer Level.
Science: Sibley Backyard Birding Flashcards, a bird-feeder, butterfly house, and Liberty Christian books
Devotion: Leading Little Ones to God.  
Art Study: Picture Study Portfolios by Simply Charlotte Mason.  (we did Monet)
Bible Memorization: Verses and Books of the Bible
Poetry Memorization: Prayers for Children, The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose
Character: Character First, Bible, and Wisdom and the Millers book: Proverbs for Children
Hymn Study: Hymns at Home
Literature: LOTS AND LOTS OF BOOKS-see lists below.

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Reading: Alphaphonics. This worked great for my early reader. No pictures, color, or images in the book which I liked. I plan on using this with my other kiddos and hope it works as well with them.

Handwriting: The Good and The Beautiful Level 2. Basic handwriting. We loved it. Has space for a student to draw or color a picture on each page. Each lesson only takes about 5 minutes, which is all my DD wanted to do. Christian based. Will be using Level 3 next year. My daughter also did copywork of Bible verses from her daily Bible reading.

Math: Math-U-See Primer Level. Math is one of my weakness so I need something with planned lessons in it. There is a 5 minute video to watch once a week where Steve Demme, the creator of Math-u-see, explained the concept of the week and we watched together, then the student does the workbook the rest of the week. Each lesson only takes about 5 minutes. With this program, some weeks my daughter would fly through the lessons, but other weeks we needed more than a week to do them, so we just took our time and when I felt like she got it, then we moved on. I didn’t rush her. I didn’t have an “end date” in mind this year so I was good with taking our time.

History: We didn’t do much for History for Kindergarten. My daughter liked to read through Living Long Ago from Usborne, but that’s about it. I recently picked up Story of the World and a Beautiful Feet Books History Guide to alternate for next year and am really excited about both of them.

Natural Science: We do the Charlotte Mason method of science, where you basically study your outside surroundings through the elementary levels and read living books. So, we bought the Sibley Backyard Birding Flashcards and my husband built a bird feeder. We would see a bird and go find it in our cards and hang it on the wall. We have learned about so many birds this way! We also built a butterfly home where we would put caterpillars and watch them turn into butterflies or moths! And lastly, we read from the Liberty Christian books and the kids love them. So do I. It’s a book that tells facts about animals and insects in their natural environments in story form.

Devotion: read during Morning Time with all the kids: Leading Little Ones to God. This is separate from Bible. We do Bible reading every day. Devotion is extra. Like my friend says, it’s the skittle after dinner and dinner is the Bible. 🙂 We also incorporated personal prayer time for the 3 yo, 4 yo, and 6 yo. I sit with them to guide, but they do most of the praying.

Art Study: (during Morning Time with all the kids) Picture Study Portfolios by Simply Charlotte Mason. This was one of my favorite things we did all year! You pick an artist and you get eight pictures and an artist biography. Basically, you look at one picture a week until the student can close their eyes and see the picture in their mind. I love looking at one artist’s works for an entire term, because we become familiar with the artist that way. We chose the Monet and Van Gogh portfolios, but only did Monet this year b/c we kept each picture up for longer than a week. I can’t believe they learned 8 Monet works! And I did too-I’m learning art, birds, all kinds of history right along with them. 🙂 My 4 year old son saw a Monet picture at a friend’s house, and said, “Look, it’s Monet! Woman with a Parasol!” I was SO excited and thought if we did nothing else in the year I would be happy with that. I also checked out these picture books about Monet for free reads:
Claude Monet: Getting to know the World’s Greatest Artists 
Claude Monet: Sunshine and Waterlilies 
Katie and Waterlily Pond
Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains

Bible Memorization: I keep all that we’ve memorized in a binder with 8 tabs. The tabs are Daily, Odd, Even, and then Mon-Fri. Our daily work is what we are currently memorizing. The last thing we’ve memorized goes under the Even or Odd day tabs so we can review it more frequently. Behind the other tabs are what we’ve already memorized but we review them once a week. Once we learn our daily work, then it gets moved to the odd tab. Eventually it will get moved to a day of the week tab. I got this system from a Charlotte Mason site and it has worked well for us. We also worked on memorizing the books of the Bible.

Poetry Memorization: We picked a couple poems out of the book Prayers for Children, a Little Golden Book that I found for .50 cents at a used bookstore and it’s one of our favorite books for poetry memorization. We also read and read and read The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose and the kids just naturally memorized lots of the shorter nursery rhymes.

Character Study: We used Character First, the Bible, home-made character study, and Wisdom and the Millers book: Proverbs for Children

Hymn Study: Holy, Holy, Holy. The site Hymns at Home is a wonderful resource.

Literature/BOOKS: This is my very favorite part of homeschooling. 🙂 We read a bazillion picture books, but these are our favorites.

Here are the chapter books we read aloud as a family and loved this year: (These are GREAT FIRST ALOUDS! Click here to see a complete list of our favorite first read alouds!

B is for Betsy
Back to School with Betsy
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Milly Molly Mandy
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Betsy-Tacy
The Courage of Sarah Noble
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Charlotte’s Web
Little House books on audio (b/c we’ve already read them through a few times, so my daughter likes to listen to these during quiet time) The audio books performed by Cherry Jones are PHENOMENAL!!

We also purchased the audio Zondervan Dramatized Bible for quiet times. We all love these.

That’s it!

In case you’re interested in the Charlotte Mason method, here’s my rundown on it: The Charlotte Mason style of homeschool resonated with me as soon as I heard about it. I started reading lots of books and posts about it and am still learning, but find the ideas of education as an atmosphere, a discipline and a life, using living books, outdoor play, art and composer study, natural sciences, treating children as born persons, and creating good habits in life and learning to be what speaks to my heart. It’s about spreading a wonderful feast in front of your children of truth, beauty, and goodness. I do not use only Charlotte Mason, but go there first when I’m planning.

Remember! There is NO ONE who can tell you what to use with your family! You are the one God gave them to; you know them best. But let us be encouraged by one another in sharing ideas! Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:4-5

Broken Mirror

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Last week I was reflecting on all God had done for me over the last 15 years. I found myself crying out to him, giving thanks as, story after story, I saw how he mended, repaired, loved, showed up, and was just there with me, loving me.

When Jeremy and I first started dating again after college (8 years after college), I was living in the only thing I could afford at the time, a small, run-down apartment attached to a water factory. It was yucky with yucky memories of a previous life and was a place where I had to call the cops twice a month because there was always suspicious behavior going on around the back of the water factory. One time a guy was arrested because he had picked up a woman from Dollar General, and drove her behind my apartment. It was about midnight so I called the cops and they found an illegal sized knife in his bag, duct tape, and rope. Another time, my car was broken into and everything stolen. Where I lived just looked like a part of the factory, not an apartment so people always thought it was just an empty lot. Meanwhile I’m peeking out of my window every time I hear a car outside and making sure my door security bar was tight.

One room was where I would get ready and there was a broken mirror that sat on a basket on the floor. I would sit on the floor and get ready every morning. I had done it for years. It just kind of became a way of life. Jeremy says when he saw me sitting on the floor in front of my broken mirror his heart broke. Not just because it was a broken mirror, or even all the other physical brokenness of where I lived, but because for several years prior I had lived in so much brokenness this was a kind of representation of it all.

So, a few weeks before our wedding day Jeremy said he had a surprise for me. I went over to his house, soon to be “our” house, and he took me to one of the spare bedrooms and opened the door. I just stood there, soaking it all in. My eyes moved around the room. It was an entire room for me to “get ready in.” He, himself, built custom made closets and shelves that spanned the room wall to wall on two different walls. He painted it one of my favorite colors of pink. He put down a beautiful rug. And the last thing he wanted to show me was a sitting area with a beautiful little seat, a desk to keep all my girly stuff, and the biggest WHOLE mirror I had ever seen. He said there would be no more broken mirrors.

It was seriously like the time Patrick Swayze said, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”! I had someone fighting FOR me! I had someone come along and start to love me out of brokenness. I cried and was beyond thankful. For the room yes, but more for him. After everything I had been through in the few years before that moment he was like my knight in shining armor times ten. That previous life made me KNOW, deep down in my heart how much he loved me. It made me never want to take him for granted. I knew what life was like without this kind of love and I would never be there again.

It’s the most beautiful image of how Christ comes in when we let him, and he covers us with love and protection and he picks up all our broken pieces and makes us whole. Whole in him. His love for us is the most wonderful love story in history. A short time before my husband and I would see each other again for the first time in 8 or 9 years, in that run-down apartment, with all my hurts and weakness and pain I found myself laying on my face in the bathroom floor. I was weeping unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was in so much pain and had so much brokenness in my heart that I KNEW I needed God. I knew that I had gotten myself in this place because I didn’t have a relationship with him. Because I had walked away from what I did know of him. I turned my back on him because I thought I could do a better job of making life decisions. And then the day came when I realized how far OFF course I had gone. How deep I was in pain and yuckiness, and all I could do was cry out for him to help me. If he would still have me. I remember saying, “Could you possibly still love me? I am SO FAR from you. I am desperate. Desperate for you to save me.” I was moved more than I could ever write about with the overwhelming love and comfort I felt deep down inside. I felt him saying I love you. I have been waiting for you. And I cried out, “But I have NOTHING TO GIVE YOU.” And I heard, All I need is your heart. Broken and all.

So that day I gave him my broken heart. I wanted him so badly in my life I didn’t care what I had to give him or what he wanted to do with my life. From that point on, I started running everything in my life like a conveyor belt that had to pass by God before it came/stayed in my life. I started growing in the Lord. I was walking WITH him in life, in relationship. And he mended, loved, and nourished me back to wholeness in Him. He loved me out of my brokenness. I am still growing, still working out my salvation, but now I KNOW that he is my refuge, my hope. My husband is an earthly picture of Christ’s love for me. A love I never thought I would have on this earth. The Lord has a purpose for me in this life. And for you too. If you do not have a relationship with him, enter into one with him. Ask him to save you from your sins and give your life to him. You will never, ever, ever, ever regret it. After all the darkness, I had LIGHT. And you can too. You do not have to stay “used to” your brokenness. That is not what God has intended for you. He wants to make you whole.

And now that room has two little boys living in it. And beside that room is another room with two little girls living in it. The broken girl in the broken apartment looking in the broken mirror thought she would never have children of her own. But the whole girl made whole in Christ looking in the whole mirror saw four sweet little faces looking back at her. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Psalm 73: 28

Please feel free to reach out to me any time for prayer, encouragement, or questions.

Drawing Pictures When Memorizing Scripture

I had to share something SO simple that worked super fast and helped us memorize scripture faster!

We had been memorizing Psalm 23 for a couple of weeks. My oldest memorizes in just a couple of days, but for the rest of it takes us longer. Because this was a longer passage we were having a harder time, so I drew SIMPLE pictures/symbols beside each verse and my son had the whole Psalm memorized in just 2 days! And I did too!

All it took was seeing these pictures as we read the verses then recalling them in our minds when it came time to say the verse. And this is something that has stuck-we can still recall the pictures in our minds well after we have moved on from that passage and onto another. I don’t know that we’ll use it every time we memorize, but if any of us are struggling with memorizing a particular passage, I will definitely do it! And now I’ll be watching to see if my son may be a visual learner since this worked so well for him. A few times the kids picked a verse to “draw” and I think that helped them too, so I think we may add in drawing our verses from time to time during Morning Time. It sure helped me to draw it out! Doesn’t have to be on a white board. A piece of paper does the same job.

Here’s a pic so you can take in all my beautiful artistic ability, 🙂 but mostly so you can see how simple it is. DSC_0318

Favorite Books for ages 0-4

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So, this was a really hard list to narrow down! (And now that I keep thinking of books and adding them, I’m not sure how “narrowed down” it is after all 🙂 ) A friend and I were talking about how we wished everyone would list their favorite books and share them, so here are some of our favorites so far. (And it’s a way for me to write it down to give my kiddos when they have little ones and I can’t remember which books we loved 🙂 ) We are always adding to the list. The best part is our local library has almost all of these! I know there are TONS of great books we haven’t read yet, so list your favorites so we can have even more to check out! We all have different reading tastes, but hopefully you can find a couple on this list to add to your next library visit! This list is in no way an exhaustive list. Feel free to ask any questions! I could talk about books all day and love to hear what everyone is reading! I haven’t listed any chapter books in this list as I see that as an entity all on its own. 🙂

 Age 0-2ish+ Board Books 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr.
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? Dr. Seuss
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Where’s Spot (lift the flap books) by Eric Hill
That’s Not My Tiger by Fiona Watt (and all of the rest of the touch and feel books by her)
God knows all about me by Kate Toms
I Love You Through and Through by by Bernadette Shustak

Age 2ish
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Go, Dog Go by P.D. Eastman
The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
My First Songs by Tomie dePaola
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare by Sam McBratney
I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Age 3ish and 4ish

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
My First Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola
Doctor Dan the Bandage Man (Little Golden Book)
Little Mommy (Little Golden Book)
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
Peter’s Old House by Elsa Beskow
In the Town All Year Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems
Cows to the Rescue by John Himmelman
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
Farmer Will by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
The Abandoned Lighthouse by Albert Lamb
Angus Books by Marjorie Flack (really, any books by her)
Prayers for Children (A Little Golden Book)

Age 4+

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter
Journey by Aaron Becker (I am anxiously waiting to get the other two of this trilogy from the library!)
Roxaboxen by Barbara Cooney
Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall and Barbara Cooney
Miss Rumphius by Barabra Cooney
Caps For Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina
Miss Suzy by Miriam Young
Moonshot:The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca My kids can’t get enough of this one, especially my son
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert Mccloskey
Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barkley
Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey
Little Bear’s Friend by Else Holmelund Minaret (and the other Little Bear books)
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Brave Irene by William Sleigh (this is a great book to talk about determination and perseverance)
The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber (my son insisted I list this one)
When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire (and all the other books by them. This one may be too long for this age so it depends on each child, but both mine at age 4 loved it)

Favorite Construction Books

B is for Bulldozer by June Sobel
The Construction Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallet
Construction by Sally Sutton
Roadwork by Sally Sutton (and her book Demolition)
Digger Man by Andrea Zimmerman
I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Dump Trucks by Aaron Frisch (from Seedlings series-lots more in this series)
C is for Construction: Big Trucks and Diggers from A to Z  by Caterpillar

Firefighter Books

Fire Engine Man by Andrea Zimmerman (and Digger Man and Train Man)
The Little Fire Engine by Lois Lenski
The Fire Engine Book (Little Golden Book) by Tibor Georgely

Character Books 

Cool Down and Work Through Anger by Cheri J. Meiners –she has many others
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr
Being Honest by Cassie Mayer
Sharing is Fun by Joanna Cole
My Big Girl Potty by Joanna Cole (also the boy one)

And my kids LOVE books that are personalized. I like to use a site like Shutterfly to make a family picture book of our year, an ABC book for each kid, etc. These are always very cherished books. While the books may be time consuming to make, it always feels well worth it.

Eventually I will do a chapter book list of favorites so far!

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5 Characteristics of a Godly Wife

Hoping this encourages someone. I am honored to sometimes get to write for Raising Godly Children. I may be able to write about it, but does NOT mean I do it well all the time, but am praying daily how to live it out. The Lord’s word is FULL of so much wisdom…

With the new year I reflected on my home and began praying over it. I want more peace inside these walls that hold 6 of us. Instead of reacting to my husband and children, I want to respond to them. I want to be alert and aware of the enemy’s schemes that are disrupting my peace. The Word of God tells us how to regain that peace in our homes and live in a way that allows us to simply follow God. We do not have to fix our children or our husbands, or even ourselves. All we have to do is open our hearts completely to the Lord and allow him to change us. To be moldable, workable clay that he can work into an image that is like Jesus. And give to Him, in prayer, our spouses and families. Jesus is the protector of our hearts and when we allow him to do his work in and through us it will open up an atmosphere for him to do the same in others lives. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

As wives, we are the heartbeat of our home. If it is to be a place of joy and rest, it is up to us. When we are following God, and being obedient to him the Bible tells us, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house…” Psalm 128:3 A fruitful vine is bearing fruit, thriving, and refreshing others. Note the words, within your house. Being a wife and mother is more important than anything we will do outside of our home. God has given us, through him, an influence over others within the walls of our homes. An influence unlike any other. Doing work for the Lord outside our homes is wonderful yes, after we are in obedience to him inside of our homes, giving our best efforts there first.

Characteristics of a Godly wife

Wisdom and Fear of the Lord – We can build our home and establish it and FILL it with RARE and BEAUTIFUL TREASURES! It all begins with fearing the Lord, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:1 With this verse, we have wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Now look at what you can do with that for your home, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4 Wise women spend time getting to KNOW the Holy One, understanding all that He is, his character, and his ways. To know his power, might, and sovereignty, and to realize she is nothing apart from him. To know his ways and walk in them. She then tries with every area of her life to obey him and worship him and thank him. Without knowing and fearing the Lord, she is, without intention, tearing apart the inside and outside of her home: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1

Non-Quarrelsome – Quarrelsome is being argumentative, provoking, quick to quarrel, quick to anger. Selfish in not getting your way and then making sure your husband knows about it by your actions. I know I struggle with being able to just “let it go” and it’s something I must pray about often. Especially because I NEVER want my husband to prefer to live on the corner of our roof by himself than inside of it with me. And I NEVER want to be like a dripping faucet to him, wearing him down, annoying him, and leaving him wishing it would just stop and turn off already: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Proverbs 21:9 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day, restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.” Proverbs 27:15 Oh Lord, don’t let me be a constant dripping that is wearing my husband down, and leaves him feeling hopeless for it to get better. Let me be full of words that encourage him, building him up. A rushing water of love and encouragement from which the source is you.

Being willing and saying YES to the Lord – During the difficult days, it’s hard to remember that God has called you to this. To being a wife and mother. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to get up and bring everything together inside of us to say, “Yes, Lord. Whatever you have asked of me, I will do it.” If he’s asked you to mother one child or four, willingly do what he’s asked of you. Be like Mary, the young virgin bride who was told she would be with child and knowing all the questions that would bring from her soon to be husband, her family, her friends simply said, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38 When we have a heart that is WILLING, a heart that is ready to accept what the Lord has for us, he will strengthen us: “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.” Psalm 31:24

Self-control – I’m sure most of us have areas where we need more self-control. “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28 To quote Matthew Henry, “In Biblical times, the key to a city’s security was its strong walls. A city with broken walls has clearly been defeated and left vulnerable for further attack. The person without self-control is in a similar position, although his conqueror is the passions of his own spirit. They overwhelm him, disgrace him, and leave him vulnerable to further shameful outbursts. A man controlled by the Holy Spirit has far better prospects.” I started praying and seeing areas of my life that were left vulnerable to an enemy who only needs an inch in the door. What areas of your life are leaving you like a city without the protection of its walls? It may be anger that isn’t bridled and comes out in outbursts scarring those around you. It may be sugar. Maybe you are running to sugar instead of to Jesus for his sweetness. Maybe it’s technology. “If you find honey, eat just enough-too much of it, and you will vomit.” Proverbs 25:16 There may be things in your life that are good and beneficial, but too much of it will make you sick, physically or emotionally. Whatever it is, rebuild your walls. Make boundaries and pray that the Spirit will help you find self-control.

Prudence – Pray to be a prudent wife, “…but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14 Being prudent means showing care and thought for the future. Seeing and handling problems involved in running a household, and finding solutions and doing all we can to successfully manage the home. I am not a planner by nature, so I have to work at it, but it pays off when I do. I am still flexible on so much, but planning certain things helps me cut down on decision overload.

Let us dig into the Word and ask God to show us and help us bring holiness into our home.

GIVE YOUR KIDS YOUR PRESENCE, NOT JUST PRESENTS

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During the Christmas season it’s easy to get caught up making sure we get just the right gifts for our children. But what our children want more than presents is our PRESENCE. Here are three ways to give presence to your children.

  1. Give your children your time. Set aside technology, computers, phones, making the house just right, and look into their precious eyes. Be with them. Give them your eyes, ears, and your hands. Grandparents are great at this, and kids notice. They love time with grandparents because mostly Grandma and Grandpa give them TIME. Undistracted time where they aren’t hurrying to the next thing. Jesus spent time with people. He was not hurrying to get through the conversation with the woman at the well so he could get on to Galilee. He spoke with her, looked at her, listened to her, and loved her. He did this with all people. Let us follow his example in how we love our children. Give them your physical presence and your mental presence. This is making deposits into their love tank showing them they are important to you. They notice when you don’t.
  1. Create traditions. Traditions build memories, create stability, and make deposits into your family’s love tank. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Play Family Olympics and create fun ways to play together as a family, such as carrying something on a spoon across the room, pillow sack race, push a candy cane across the floor with your nose. Even the youngest can play and some of the big kids can probably come up with better ideas than the parents! Go caroling to a friend’s house, or if that’s out of your comfort zone my husband and I will have the children go to their rooms and we will go caroling to their bedroom doors. So silly, but they absolutely love it! And then of course they want to do the same. I know there are way better ideas out there, so just pick one and do it together as a family. I’m sure your kids will remember and want to do it again next year.
  1. Slow down. Christmas parties, ornament exchanges, plays-there is so much that tries to grab at our time during the holidays. Learning to say no will go a long way in helping us to slow down. Instead of trying to bustle around doing extra, slow down and whatever you’re doing around the house, include your children. They just want to be with you. So if you’re cleaning, give them a job to do alongside of you. If you’re purging the house of excess toys to make room for Christmas presents, give them a bag and ask them to help fill it up with things they’d like to give away. If you’re baking, let them help. Just take time to enjoy them in the every day. Be WITH them. Jesus worked alongside of his disciples. He brought them along as he taught and served. He did life with them. Let us do life with our children…AND enjoy it. As you set out to slow down, make every effort to be with Jesus. Make him a priority in your life. He is worthy of all our praise and has already ordained our days for us, so let us make the most of every opportunity and love him more than life. When you are putting him first and making time for him every day it will get your thoughts and focus where they need to be, and as God fills you up, you will in turn have more to give to your children.

The Lord is our Great Shepherd and we are to shepherd our little ones and care for the flock he has given us, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.” 1 Peter 5:2-3

Click here to see this post on the Raising Godly Children website.

4 WAYS TO BE A BETTER WIFE FROM SONG OF SOLOMON

BookOfLove

Super excited this post was published by Raising Godly Children. Their website is a wonderful resource! http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org. And this is the direct link to the article on their website.

I was recently blessed to co-teach a podcast study on Song of Solomon (link below), and my marriage and my relationship with Christ was so blessed in studying this book of the Bible. Here are a few truths I learned while preparing to teach about marriage:

  1. Work on your inner beauty.

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

Don’t depend on your outward beauty to make you beautiful. Depend on your INNER beauty. Your heart. If our heart is ugly, it makes us ugly. If we are selfish and disrespectful all the time, that’s what our husbands see. We can put on the cutest clothes we own and look beautiful on the OUTSIDE but if our hearts are dirty with nagging, complaining and discontentment then those cute clothes are no longer noticed. All of our heart’s impurities are what are seen. In Matthew 23 Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and these were men who, from the outside, did everything right- they knew the Bible, they prayed, and fasted, but their insides were greedy and hypocritical. So Jesus told them they were like cups-they were washed and clean on the outside, but the inside was filthy! And he compared them to white washed tombs-they were beautiful and clean on the outside, but inside they were full of dead people’s bones and impurities! He says to first wash the inside of the cup, then the outside will become clean. Let’s get our insides right, then our outsides will follow.

  1. Catch the foxes in your vineyard.

Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Solomon 2:15

We have to protect our marriage vineyards from foxes that want to come in and DESTROY it. Foxes lurking around in our marriages are bitterness, rage, complaining, discontentment, trying to change our husbands. There are foxes like that guy at work that keeps asking how you are and you are feeling more and more inclined to talk to him instead of your husband. It may be a fox that jumps out when you’re husband is making an effort, but your words cut him and he can’t do anything right. CATCH THE FOXES and throw them out of your vineyard! Hand them over to God and ask him to help keep your marriage vineyard thriving, nourished, and free of foxes.

  1. Intoxicate him with your love

Turn to me, dear lover.
Come like a gazelle.
Leap like a wild stag
on delectable mountains! Song of Solomon 2:17 (MSG version)

The mountains referred to here are her breasts. She is saying to him I WANT YOU!! God designed us to have and to want intimacy with our spouses.

Proverbs 5:18-19 says:

Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts satisfy you always.
May you always be intoxicated by her love.

INTOXICATED BY HER LOVE!! Pray that YOUR HUSBAND is intoxicated by your love! Work at intoxicating him with your love. Pray about ways to do so, for creativity if you need it. Admire him, respect him, thank him for his devotion and hard work, thank him for trying so hard to protect his eyes and mind from temptation, and tell him you want him. You desire him.

One way to keep your husband intoxicated by your love is to give him unconditional respect. Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” And part of our obedience to the Lord is respecting our husbands. God commands it in Ephesians 5:33 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” God has to tell us to respect our husbands because it doesn’t always come naturally to respect him. It comes naturally to love him, but respecting him is harder and that is what he desires. We’ve heard of unconditional love. Well there is a term out there called unconditional respect.

There was a research study where author Shaunti Feldhahn asked men this question: Would you rather feel ALONE and UNLOVED or INADEQUATE and DISRESPECTED? 3 out 4 men, said they would rather feel alone and unloved. That they’d rather live with a wife who respected them and didn’t love them, than with a wife who loved them but didn’t respect them. I asked my husband this question and he answered the same-he’d choose being alone and unloved ANY DAY OF THE WEEK over feeling inadequate and disrespected. Of course they need love, but they need respect MORE. It’s part of how God wired them.

  1. Make a list of things you first fell in love with about your husband.

After a conflict, Solomon tells his bride things he loves about her, things that he has loved about her since the beginning of their relationship. Sometimes in marriage we lose sight of the things we first fell in love with about our husbands. We get focused on mishaps from day to day living. Take a few minutes to reflect on the things that sent you head over heels in love with your husband. Write them down. Pull them out when you are angry with him. Read over them when you are not angry. Pray and ask the Lord to help you “make allowance for each other’s faults” (Colossians 3:13). Try to assume the best in your husband, and give him respect even when he doesn’t deserve it so that you are showing honor to the Lord.

The enemy will probably throw darts as you are trying to love your husband well, but just keep praying and reading God’s Word. Pray it out loud. Pray for God’s strength to continue to mold you into the wife he wants you to be, to mold you to be more like Christ.

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The Song of Solomon study I was blessed to co-teach with some wonderful women can be found here: https://goodsoilgirls.wordpress.com/listen-now/

ABC Bible Verses Printable

Here’s a quick reference for the ABC Bible Verses we use. I wanted a chart for a printable guide and thought I’d share. There are tons of options for ABC verses, but these are usually the first verses my little ones memorize. Here is the link for the printable version: ABC Bible verses

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“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” Psalm 119:9 To keep their ways pure. The definition of pure: unstained, innocent, guiltless, genuine, unmixed, without undesirable elements. When we are pure in devotion to God, not being mixed with the world, is how we gain true wisdom and understanding. How can we be pure? Live according to His word. Which means DOING IT not just knowing it. But knowing it is half the battle right? Learn it, know it, DO IT. Don’t be a pharisee who knows God’s word but never actually lives it out.

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 I love how one exposition said it, “His (David’s) heart would be kept by the word because he kept the word in his heart.”

“I desire to do your will, my God; for your instruction is written on my heart.” Psalm 40:8 Writing His Word on their hearts will help them make decisions that are pleasing to God. Decisions that are in line with His will for their life. They have INSTRUCTIONS to life!!

 

Four Ways to Build Sibling Relationships

Excited this post was published on the site Raising Godly Children. Their website is a wonderful resource! http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org. And this is the direct link to this article on their site.

Sibling relationships are such unique, beautiful gifts from God. If nurtured and encouraged they can be some of the most supportive relationships we have in life. A repeated prayer of mine is that my children will have a unique bond that comes only from God. That my children will be best friends, supportive, and each other’s biggest encouragers. And that they will serve the Lord together. Here are four ways to help nurture the sibling relationship from an early age.

1. Encourage one another. Whether it’s cheering on the one who is potty training and used the potty on their own, clapping for brother’s performance as fire chief, gathering other siblings to view the massive tower built by sister, or for making the sports team, cheering on their siblings is important. It teaches them to be FOR each other. To have unity. They will have enough people in the world that will not be for them.

2. Serve one another. Serving others is a powerful biblical way of loving others. Teaching our children to serve one another helps get the focus off themselves and onto others. Have them serve each other snacks, deliver waters at mealtimes (putting themselves last), bring blankets when one is sick. Sit down with one sibling and ask, “What is something we can do for your brother today? How can we serve him?” Then have fun trying to do one or two of those things that morning. It’s good practice for the one being served too, because they get practice making eye contact and saying thank you.

3. Teach them to allow each other to belong. Typically kids go with the wrong crowd because that wrong crowd makes them feel like they belong. In all our weird, quirky ways, home should be the place where we are safest to be ourselves. It builds confidence when we are accepted as we are. My children love hearing that God has plans just for their lives that no one else can fulfill and that he made them each uniquely in order to fulfill his calling on their lives. My children are not allowed to make fun of each other, ever. They are constantly told to “encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 They don’t do this perfectly, which gives us an ample amount of time for practice. For each negative thing they say to the other, they have to say three kind things to them.

4. Create special sibling time. A few days a week my children will have “room time” where they will spend time in their rooms for individual, creative play by themselves for 45 minutes to an hour. Once in a while I will “allow” them to have room time together. They play together all day, but there is something uniquely special in their eyes of this time together. They actually get along the ENTIRE time, so I encourage that when I can. Reading together is also a time when they mostly get along the entire time. There is something about enjoying a story together. Gathering around for a read aloud book, or allowing the oldest to read to the younger ones, creates unity. When one parent takes one child, it is a great opportunity for the other children to play in a way that they don’t normally, so encourage them to play together and enjoy each other’s company. Encourage two children to work on building a tower together for baby brother. Or to build a fort together. One more way to set up a time for sibling bonding time is over snack. I open a pack of bite size crackers that they all love and tell them they must share the snack while sitting down somewhere. They can choose anywhere in the house to sit, but they must share the snack. This is another time when they all get along well. They usually end up in a boat (the kitchen mat or corner of a room) giggling and making up a game.

God has given them built in friends, right in their homes. Prayer, selflessness, and encouragement can go a long way in helping them build these friendships.

Age Appropriate Chores

We have a daily chore time after breakfast, at least most the time. I have 4 kids ages five and under. There are 5 chores they do, the same chore each particular day of the week. We have a picture chart on the fridge. Example, every Monday my daughter (5 yr old) vacuums the living room, Tuesday she wipes down the bathroom sink, Wednesday she wipes down windows and mirrors, Thursday she takes out trash, and Friday she dusts. My son (3yo) has the same chores on opposite days. My 2 year old gets a baby wipe and she wipes down anything she’d like, she just likes to join in. Yes, there may be a chore here and there they moan about, but that’s a teaching opportunity, and teaching that there is work we may not feel like doing but it has to be done anyway. Hey, I don’t like to clean bath tubs, but it’s gotta get done (is once a month cleaning them enough? 🙂 ).

But for the most part, they actually like doing chores. Even if they don’t like it, it’s become such a habit that it’s simply something we do and I don’t hear much complaining any more. Some chores they LOVE (washing windows is one). My son loves to vacuum, my daughter not so much. And they both love trash day. I go back and check their work and encourage them where they’ve done well, and show them where they need to scrub just a little harder. I take time in the beginning to actually teach them HOW to clean and what I expect of them.

When we first started chores we would sing a song we made up before we started that goes through making our beds, getting dressed, brushing teeth, then chores. And the chore part of the song says “I wanna help clean the house and do my part b/c I love my family with all my heart.” For me, it’s not a demand and “clean this and make my dinner!” attitude. It’s teaching a servant’s heart. It’s teaching to help take care of the home God gave us. To be faithful in the little. Teaching responsibilities and teamwork. I do my chores right along with them. It really doesn’t take long at all. Maybe 20 minutes to do it all-making beds, picking up rooms, getting dressed, teeth brushed and chore complete.

They have one scheduled chore a day that doesn’t take long to do and then the rest they do during the day aren’t called “chores” but are just us living life together. For instance, they start taking their own plates to the sink after meals as soon as those little tippy toes can help them reach their plates up over their heads to the sink. It quickly becomes a habit. A lot of times, by 3 or 4 years old, they don’t even have to be asked to take their plate and put it by the sink.

Each day one of the kids (ages 2,3, and 5) is the “Delivery Boy/Girl” for the day. They LOVE this. And that means that person collects all the waters before meals and I fill them up and they are delivered back out. This is such a big help to me. That person also delivers anything I need help with-paper towels, vitamins, etc. And now that the kids are older, that person gets to help make meals on their designated day.

We are working on something called “Tidy Time” where they are each assigned a particular area of the house and when I need the house tidied for my husband coming home from work, guests coming over, etc. they will be little experts at picking up their areas and it makes it so much easier on me to have them helping out. Carole Joy Seid said to tell them they are, “Little Lords and Ladies in waiting, learning how to take care of their own castles some day.”

They fight over who gets to unload the dishwasher and put the silverware away. They love to prepare the snacks for everyone. It’s such a great way to teach them to serve! My son loves a tidy room, but the girls have to be threatened prompted to pick up their rooms. They come by it honest. My husband says I’m like a tornado that blew through when I leave a room.

Every kid is different. Some may be ready for these sooner than others, some later. These are just some ideas from what we do. And here is a printable version: Age Appropriate Chores

Age Appropriate Chores

Here’s the “Ditty song.” I had been praying for something that gave us some order after breakfast, so we sing the ditty song and do what it says. Again, it doesn’t take long, and I love it because it’s teaching them what to do each day and to get their work done. It’s posted on our fridge, along with their visual chore chart.

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DAILY CHORE CHART

The letter under the days are to tell the kids who will be the Delivery Boy/Girl that day.

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