Under the Maple Tree

Mother Culture: Nurture

Can it really be only a few days until our next Charlotte Mason gathering in Bradford?  I am very much looking forward to it but sad that I can’t squish everyone in my little living room anymore…  Sigh!  Regardless, I love getting together with all of you in person or in spirit through our virtual wanderings.  If you are reading this to brush up on what we chatted about at our last meeting then forgive me for missing so much.  I was too distracted and self-absorbed that night (and have been quite a bit since then, too.)  If you missed the meeting or are just too far away to join us then I beg your patience since I must skip over so much good stuff that we chatted about in order to actually get this little note out to you.

Thank you all for your grace in my silence when I promised to share some notes from our gatherings.  Here’s my little bit…

We discussed chapters 3 and 4 from Educating the WholeHearted Child: “Home Nurture: Shepherding Your Child’s Spirit to Long for God” and “Home Discipleship: Shaping Your Child’s Heart to Love for God”.  Practically, we also looked at the first part of chapter 11 on Language Arts which I will try to summarize that in a later posting.

Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up [nurture them] in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Nurture is more than just checking off your spiritual teaching from a daily checklist of “educational things to do”, more than filling your day with praiseworthy things and activities.  When we make the decision to homeschool, I think that we all struggle with wanting to help our kids to have a proper Christian education and yet we don’t want to minimize faith to a subject in school.  What are some ways that you, Friends, help to take spiritual development beyond being a simple subject to learn?

We talked about making sure that Bible reading time wasn’t just done during school hours, that we needed to model for our kids both our devotional time and that we serve others as a manifestation of our faith.  But biblical nurturing is more than that.  Biblical nurturance of our children must be a constant and ongoing investment in the growth of and caring for the faith of the children that we have been entrusted to raise!

The Clarksons write (on page 47), “If the purpose of biblical nurture is to feed your children with God’s life, then it must involve more than just doing Christian things at home.  Biblical nurture opens windows for God’s life-giving grace to enter your children’s hearts.  God does this by way of His Word (“Scripture is grace in print”), prayer (“Prayer is grace in words”), and Fellowship (“Fellowship is grace in person”).

Then they went on to give a model of home nurture.  (Good, I needed some concrete instruction!)  Their model follows the acronym GIFTS and show five key areas that we should work to develop as we nurture our children in the training and instruction of the Lord.  Note that the different areas span the spectrum of desire at one end to ability at the other.  In other words, to nurture desire for God we focus on heart issues through Grace and Inspiration, whereas we use our abilities in Training and Service to develop the hands that do.  All of this is anchored together in the centre at the heart with faith:

Grace: “The gift of grace is the desire and ability to relate personally and purposefully to God and people.  The gift of grace prepares your children to become channels of God’s grace and love to other people.”

Inspiration; “The gift of inspiration is the desire and ability to view all of life in the light of God’s sovereignty and purpose.”  Inspiration helps your children to live with hope in a fallen world.

Faith; “The gift of faith is the desire and ability to study God’s word and apply its truths to every area of life.”  Faith is the heart of these gifts.

Training; “The gift of training is the desire and ability to grow in Christian maturity in the power of the Holy Spirit.”  This is more than just training in right conduct or knowledge but also in choosing what is right to do and doing it.

Service; “The gift of service is the desire and ability to minister God’s grace and truth to the needs of others.”

Some action points (A muddle of ideas that we chatted about and suggestions from the reading):
*Visit elderly neighbours, family members or church family to help and encourage them.
*Practice hospitality.
*Make meals for families with new babies or who are struggling with illness.
*Shovel the neighbours driveway or plant some flowers in their garden.
*Have a weekly family games night in which you practice good sportsmanship.
*Have regular personal and family devotions.
*Read the biographies of Christian heroes.
*Share answers to prayer with one another.
*Discuss questions of faith and belief.
*Learn together about biblical truths, history and wisdom.
*Allow kids to hear the scriptures and to understand them themselves without having to “dumb down” the language or to be given the moral of the story.
*Practice godly disciplines like tithing, good stewardship, submission to authority.
*Develop your own list of family values.
*Get involved in service projects.
*Keep a garden of blessings (the produce of which goes to a food bank or other food distribution agency).

Please, Friends, share some of the ways that you keep the faith alive in your home…

Talk soon,

Cori

Thank you

Thank you for you many words of encouragement and your prayers for our little girl and for our whole family.  We wait and pray and try to keep all things in perspective – really, so much worse could happen!  For now, our daughter is well and we are continuing the daily struggle of fitting it all in: school and play, hiking in the woods and tidying the house, preparing for Christmas and enjoying visits from friends. 

As such, I am behind on my blogging.  I want specifically to get my next blog out on our virtual Mother Culture meeting.  This past meeting was on nurturing and discipling our kids.  We also talked practically about language arts and came up with a great resource list.

As we slog away, rather distractedly, at our reading and math lessons this fall I am constantly reminded to keep worthy goals in mind and am thankful for God’s grace which I know will sustain us.  We are also focusing on giving our kids the skills to fill in the gaps for themselves which are bound to come in any education let alone one with so much humanity interspersed into it as our little one room school house has. 

Yes, there will be ways that a licensed teacher would far surpass me in her teaching skills and knowledge – I am acutely aware of this as I, the Math Mama, am teaching an art class to a group of elementary schoolers.  On the other hand, in our home we can focus on helping our kids to learn work ethic while they are cleaning a bathroom, or to learn problem solving skills when they need to help their sister find her missing pair of runners, or logic when they have to decide how to arrange the plates on the table for the guests that are coming.  Our lessons may not always be formal but always we are teaching and our children are learningThe rest will fall into line.  I pray for that everyday.

Blessings Friends,

Cori

Silence

Dear Friends,

I have been silent for a while.  Waiting.  Trying to find peace in the middle of a storm. 

In the quietest moments I put my ear up to my little daughter’s chest and listen to the bump-bump of her little heart as it keeps time.  It’s not the thrum of her rhythmic living that I am listening for.  I wait for the silence in between, holding my breath.  It seems like it is only in those tiny little snippets, those fractions of a second when I can hear the still small voice of my creator whispering to me that he is the one that keeps the rhythm of life moving, that I don’t need time to stop to hear him.  I get so caught up in the noise, in the busyness of all that is going on around me but he is there keeping the planets in motion and this mother’s heart from bursting.

I don’t know about you but it seems that when one thing goes wrong, everything seems to go wrong.  I get caught up in the frustrations that don’t matter and can’t see all that is still going well, all that is still functioning to the rhythm that God set it in motion with.  So I’m agitated that my daughter lost her iPod.  (Thank you Lord that they called from the bookstore to say they’d found it.)  I wonder why the bills are so much more regular than the paycheques.  I am bugged that the plate for the microwave got smashed on that merciless ceramic floor that seemed like a good idea at the time.  I am irritated that that horrible big box retailer is stalling at getting me my money back because they sent me a light cover instead of a turntable plate.  “So very sorry, ma’am.  That’s our mistake but I don’t deal with returns and yes, their phone lines are down again today.”  It almost seems therapeutic that the dishwasher went caput and it was so comforting that a kind acquaintance offered to try to fix it but it wasn’t worth the cost of the parts.

On the other hand, my children are happy, we have food and clothes and a warm home.  We have a hope and a future.  And even in all of my grumpiness we have been able to help a friend to find a much needed bed.  I count my blessings realizing that I’ve never wanted for a bed and yet need of a bed hasn’t made this friend nearly as grumpy and sullen as I.  Self pity is exhausting.

So, I bring myself back to the silent moment with my ear up against my little girl’s chest.  If only I could count the blessing of every heart beat knowing that the Lord doesn’t owe me a single one more than he has already given.  It isn’t the beats that I am listening for but the silence in between because at a routine check up a few weeks ago the pediatrician mentioned something about a murmur and a cardiologist.  A few days later the cardiologist said things like heart block and pacemaker and it seemed as though my own heart had stopped.  How could such a happy and healthy little girl as my own princess be broken hearted?

Over the next few days we learned that he had decided that the need for the pacemaker wasn’t as immediate as he had prepared us for.  He does expect her heart to deteriorate and then they will tear my heart open even deeper as they operate to repair hers.  Until then I am striving to live each moment thanking God for the rhythym, not waiting for the silence even though I know that he will still be whispering to me in those moments…

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul.” –Psalm 94:19

Wishing you Peace in all of your moments Friends.

Cori

Mother Culture 2011-2012 “Up-dates”

Dear Friends,

I need to take a brief break from our virtual meeting to come back to the reality of the live meetings that we are having here north of Toronto.  I needed to update things here for you since we have had a couple of changes in our physical group. 

First of all, I am pleased to share with you that our little group will now be meeting in two locations: Bradford and Woodbridge!  Corinna Duguay has expressed an interest in welcoming folks into her home and I am so excited that someone with her experience and enthusiasm is willing to house some of our crowd. 

Secondly, I have had to make a small change to the schedule: our next meeting was to be held at my home in Bradford on October 27th but will now be help in Woodbridge on that night and in Bradford the following week, November 3rd.  Thanks for your patience with me and my mistakes in scheduling.

So, the meetings will continue to be on Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.  We will continue with the same reading list that we began with.  (I am really enjoying the snippets of reading I am getting of the next few chapters!)  The meeting continues to be a parents’ only meeting though nursing babes are always a treat and welcome to come and be involved.

The Woodbridge meetings will be held at the home of Kevin and Corinna Duguay.

They are at:

7551 Huntington Road
Woodbridge, Ontario
(Near Highways 427 and 7).

Please contact Corinna at 1-416-613-8110 or corinna.duguay@gmail.com for more information about their meetings or to RSVP.

Meetings in Bradford will continue to run at my home.  HOWEVER, we have the option of meeting at a local church (thank you Becky!).  While September’s meeting was overflowing with all of us enthusiastic homeschoolers the feed back that I have had since has been mostly that we would like to continue to meet in a homey setting but if size necessitates then we will move to the church…. 

SO! I am asking that you please RSVP to me and let me know if you will be coming.  If it seems that we will have 20 or more in attendance again then I will move the meeting to the church.  I would like to make this decision a week or so ahead of time if I can so the sooner that you can tell me if you are coming the better.  Thank you all for being flexible on this and please be sure to check your emails before you come to confirm where the meeting will be.

Please contact me, Cori Dean at 905-778-9412 or mapletreepublications@sympatico.ca for more information about the next meeting or to RSVP.

Meeting Dates:

1.         September 22

2.         October 27th in Woodbridge ****PLEASE NOTE: I have had to change the date/ location for this meeting as I scheduled a conflict.***
            November 3rd in Bradford .  ***Originally had planned the meeting to be on October 27th in Bradford .  Please change this in your calendars.  Sorry!***

3.         December 1st in Bradford
            December 8th in Woodbridge

4.         January 12th in Bradford
            January 19th in Woodbridge

5.         February 16th in Bradford
            February 23rd in Woodbridge

6.            March 22 in Bradford ONLY (as the following week is the OCHEC conference!)

7.                  May 3rd in Bradford
            May 10th in Woodbridge

8.                  June 7th in Bradford
            June 14th in Woodbridge

The reading list can be found here 

Looking forward to seeing many of you again in November!

Blessings,

Cori

Mother Culture: Bringing Faith to Bible Learning

Now that we have given the academic study of the Bible a thorough glossing over it is imperative that we don’t forget to address the heart as well.  In reading Chapter 10, “Discipleship Studies Methods: The Study of the Bible” from Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Whole Hearted Child, we talked not only about teaching our kids the basics of Bible doctrine and stories but also about finding that balance between the rules and the stories.  It does our children no good if they think that Christianity is merely a set of rules to live by nor can we successfully teach them by only highlighting feel good stories and neglecting to give them guidelines to live by.
So how do we help Bible learning time to go beyond an academic subject and become a matter of the heart that relies on real faith and a relationship with Jesus?  Here are the few suggestions that we gleaned at our little gathering.  (Please share your ideas with the group here too!)

  • Do devotions as a family at meal time or bedtime.  We can devote ourselves to reading and studying God’s word and praying both during our structured school day and at other times too.
  • Live your life expecting your children to learn from your own excitement and passion about your faith.  Share faith stories, let your kids see you having your private Bible reading times.  Model your faith day by day and side by side.
  • Remember that Christian books and activities don’t make a home “Christian”.
  • Serve together.  Serve intentionally.  Some ways that you can serve is to write letters to family, friends or missionaries, shovel snow, bring food to a neighbour, sort at a clothing exchange or food bank, collect food or money for the same, create a garden of blessing, the produce of which is given to members of the community that need it.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions! 

Well, I thought I could summarize our last meeting in just one or two postings.  I guess that we really did cover a lot.  And now I am racing to get through the reading for the next meeting.  Read ahead with me: the next meeting of our little groups will focus on chapters 3 and 4: “Home Nurture” and “Home Discipleship” as well as the first part of chapter 11 on “Language Arts”.  What I’ve read so far has already given me a lot to think on. 

Also, look for a new meeting and reading schedule to be posted soon as we are fortunate to add another group to the mix.  Corinna Duguay has been kind enough to offer her home as another meeting place on alternate Thursdays to house those who couldn’t make it to Bradford or who find Woodbridge closer or more convenient to drive to. 

Are you interested in taking this virtual group and bringing it alive in your home with some like minded homeschoolers and a good book?  I’d be happy to help you to set up your own meetings starting with the same reading list and a similar schedule to our own.  Please let me know if I can be of some help.  Support is so essential in this line of work whether it be virtual gatherings like this or real life meet ups for some “professional development”.

Talk soon!

Blessings,

Cori

Mother Culture: Resources for Teaching About the Bible

While reading the Bible should be the primary learning tool for “teaching Bible” in our homes there are a lot of age appropriate suggestions and resources that can be used.  Today we will look at some of these resources as we continue our discussion on Chapter 10 of Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Whole Hearted Child, the chapter on teaching the Bible.

The first resources that we have always used in addition to our regular Bible reading are the materials supplied by our local Awana program to learn to memorize Bible verses as well as to pursue spiritual disciplines like serving, tithing, praying, and more.  It is a fun and systematic programme for all ages that is very rigorous.  (Cubbies books are for children in JK and the year before JK.  Sparks have three books: HangGlider, WingRunner and SkyStormer for kids in SK to grade 2.  T&T has four books for grades 3-6 starting with Ultimate Adventure 1 and 2 and finishing with Ultimate Challenge 1 and 2.  Trek materials are for junior high students and Journey takes students through high school studies.  You can order these materials at http://www.awanacanadastore.ca/servlet/StoreFront.) 

As well, for all ages, we have used the FREE Bible League Day Planners which include a variety of Bible reading plans which we encourage the older kids to choose from to study.  I usually carry these in August and September but now you can get them at http://www.bibleleague.ca/scp.php. 

For younger children, a good Children’s Bible is a great supplement.  The Clarkson’s mentioned a few but one in particular that some mom’s in our little gathering had experience with and which they felt was quite good was, The Jesus Story Bible, as they said that it relates every story to Jesus Christ.  (I am interested in getting my hands on it so I think I will order some in to Maple Tree.  It is quite economical at $18.99 and you can get a deluxe edition for $27.99 which includes the complete audio recordings.  Anyone interested in ordering one with me?)

For older children, we are encouraged to start to teach them to not just read but to study the word on their own so it is wise to start to teach them to use resources like concordances, commentaries and Bible dictionaries.  In our home, we have started with a concordance.  There are online concordances but they just aren’t any substitute for the information that you can get from the real thing.  I do use “You Version’s” IPhone app which has many different versions of the Bible and some limited search abilities.  In our house, while we do use several different versions of the Bible we have two chosen concordances, The NIV Exhaustive Concordance and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (KJV). 

Paired with this is a good Bible dictionary.  Unlike a regular dictionary a Bible dictionary is defines words as they have been translated from the Hebrew and Greek and so gives more background, and can define words within their context in the Bible by comparing different passages with the same word and giving lists of where the word appears in the scripture.  Bible dictionaries are a great help in understanding biblical ideas.  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words has been an essential tool in our home since my university studying days.  Another good dictionary is The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. 

I have been searching around for good resources that will complement our Charlotte Mason education and am excited about this resource as it includes both Strong’s concordance and Vine’s dictionary: The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.  I think I might add this one too to Maple Tree’s shelves.  (Let me know if you’d like to order a copy.  They are, of course, cheaper for one book than my original concordance was on its own let alone buying the dictionary too.  Book prices are so great lately!)

As well, study bibles and commentaries are useful.  In our house, my hubby and I use Life Application Study Bibles and we have the classic Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible to refer to on our shelves. 

When students have learned to use these tools they can then move on to learning with them to do first topical studies and then inductive studies.  More on these another time.

Further to this we also looked at ways to make studying the Bible more than just an academic subject.  More on this in the next Mother Culture posting…

Blessings,

Cori

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