For anyone in Kansas who is interested in finding out more about Classical Conversations and the communities that we currently have, please feel free to attend one of our upcoming Info Meetings!

Classical Conversations Info Meetings in Kansas Spring 2016

Julian and I have been directing the Challenge A program this past year, with three of our children enrolled in it as students, and it has been fabulous! Our youngest is thriving in Foundations. We are all learning so much, and highly recommend Classical Conversations for families looking for a classical education model built on a solidly Christian worldview in the context of a supportive community.

It’s been a little over two years now since God gave me the privilege of becoming a wife and mom. Through many ups and downs, challenges and joys, God has knit our hearts together and made us a family. As I was reflecting on what God has shown me about having a mother’s heart over these last two years I was inspired to write the following poem. It’s a glimpse into what I have experienced, and I think any mother of adopted children will relate.

More Than a Mother’s Heart

It happened unexpectedly
Less like butterflies I’d heard about
More like vertigo
Like my world being turned upside down.
A man
Four children
All gifts to me from God
The answer to my prayers
The dreams I never knew I had.
Was I ready
A questioning counselor probed
To be a mother
To these precious souls?
Of course not
How could I know what to be
what to expect?
But a stronger hand was holding mine
Leading me
Gripping me
Keeping me from falling
From turning back
From missing the blessing.
The journey continued
And prayers sprang forth
Every day
From the depths of my soul
As I gazed into expectant eyes
And welcoming faces
To have the heart a mother would
To love them as my own.
It’s different though
A friend insisted
The love for those adopted
Not quite as real
Not quite as strong.
My broken heart raced to my knees
To plead with God again
Don’t let it be true
Surely my heart is big enough
To love
As any mother could.
It was then God whispered
Words of truth
Enlightened me
Surrounded me
Filled me
With length and breadth and height and depth
Of love beyond compare
To stand the test of time
To conquer every foe
To surpass all bounds.
And I knew
That He could give me more
Far more
Abundantly more
Than I could ask
Or imagine
Even more than a mother’s heart.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year so far! There’s no way I can recap all of it, but in short we believe that God has led our family to a wonderful educational program called Classical Conversations. After much research, prayer, and training, Julian and I will be directing and tutoring a Challenge A seminar in our community this next year. In light of that, I’ll be posting resources and ideas that I find useful along the way to help us learn and teach the various strands.

In preparation for teaching Latin, I’m realizing that I’m lacking more than a little in my own knowledge of English grammatical terms (an embarrassing confession for an author to make!). So I was thrilled to discover the Daily Grammar website! You can view each of the 440 lessons on-line, purchase the ebook or workbook, and/or sign up for daily lesson e-mails delivered right to your inbox. I think I’ll be back here a lot this year!

The following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer is both insightful and challenging. I was especially struck by his assessment that a propensity to doubt and incessantly re-evaluate why we are traversing a particular course is often spurred on by an aversion to the patience and testing being required of us in a time of difficulty. The very patience and testing that we are told to expect and joyfully embrace as followers of Christ. I am all too guilty of this as a homeschool mom.

“I’m not quite sure how, we have largely got into a way of thinking which is positively dangerous. We think that we are acting particularly responsibly if every other week we take another look at the question whether the way on which we have set out is the right one. It is particularly noticeable that such a ‘responsible reappraisal’ always begins the moment serious difficulties appear. We then speak as though we no longer had ‘a proper joy and certainty’ about this way, or, still worse, as though God and his Word were no longer as clearly present with us as they used to be. In all this we are ultimately trying to get round what the New Testament calls ‘patience’ and ‘testing.’ Paul, at any rate, did not begin to reflect whether his way was the right one when opposition and suffering threatened, nor did Luther. They were both quite certain and glad that they should remain disciples and followers of their Lord.

“Dear brethren, our real trouble is no doubt about the way upon which we have set out, but our failure to be patient, to keep quiet. We still cannot imagine that today God really doesn’t want anything new for us, but simply to prove us in the old way. That is too petty, too monotonous, too undemanding for us. And we simply cannot be constant with the fact that God’s cause is not always the successful one, that we really could be ‘unsuccessful’: and yet be on the right road. But this is where we find out whether we have begun in faith or in a burst of enthusiasm.”

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The truth is I don’t like waiting patiently for my children to develop the character I think they should have right now. I don’t like being tested in my resolve by their complaints and resistance to the instruction and assignments I work so hard to plan and impart to them. I don’t like the petty monotony of addressing the same issues day after day after day…

The higher truth, though, is that this is the path of faith that God has called me to walk. Faithfully, patiently training and discipling my children to seek the Lord and love Him with all their hearts. When my patience is tried and difficulties abound, rather than shrinking back and succumbing to doubts and the escapism of reassessing my path, I want to lay aside all of these weights and instead run with endurance the race that is set before me (Hebrews 12:1).

post Category: Poems post Comments (0) postFebruary 23, 2015

A paradox too great for me
That God who knows I’m dust
Would count me yet of priceless worth,
Redeem me at great cost.
Dear child, I want to show each day
This mystery is true –
You’re made of dirt and yet, my love,
I give my life for you.

Our family is excited to be attending the Great Homeschool Convention in Fort Worth, so I have been looking into possibilities for other educational things to do in the area. We’re hoping to visit the Economy in Action exhibit at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. As I was looking over their website, I discovered some very helpful free resources (downloadable pdf booklets) that explain various aspects of economics and money. I love finding resources like this that I can utilize to increase my own understanding, and so that I, in turn, can more effectively educate our children!

One of my favorite poems is one by Matthew Arnold called Morality. I don’t remember where I first heard or read it, but the first stanza has been etched in my mind for years:

We cannot kindle when we will
The fire which in the heart resides;
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides.
       But tasks in hours of insight will’d
       Can be through hours of gloom fulfill’d.
These words have often compelled me to put all of my energy into the task at hand, especially when I am feeling thoughtful or creative, because undoubtedly just around the corner are awaiting moments of “gloom” in which I will be unable to complete such tasks. So whether it’s lesson planning, writing, composing a song, planning a dinner menu, organizing a family outing, or any of a multitude of activities, I try to make the most of the moments when I have an idea or inspiration. Because if I let my creative juices flow into diligent efforts in those moments, then we will all reap the benefits of those hours of labor in the moments when I feel uninspired and drained. Instead of presuming upon the future, let’s make the most of the “hours of insight,” redeeming the time in every way possible!

In doing some research for Phase 3 of the first unit of our Ancient Civilizations and the Bible curriculum (which we are loving), I came across a couple of helpful sites:

The Thoughts of Bezalel Blog – some interesting thoughts related to Christianity and the arts, particularly with references to Francis Schaeffer (one of my favorite authors) and his writing/speaking on the subject. – my search specifically led me to this step-by-step guide on how to make a hardware store copper bracelet, but it looks like a treasure trove of ideas for just about any project you or your kids might want to try!

We’ve been using Calculadders with all of our kids this year to make sure that they have a solid foundation in fundamental math skills. I really like the philosophy behind the development of Calculadders, that encourages mastery – both speed-wise and accuracy-wise – in order to prepare students for success with more advanced math. It’s a great approach that we can use with all levels simultaneously and get done in a relatively short amount of time each day (or whatever days we are focusing on math). It’s also easy to time everyone, track their errors, and generate reports with their overall performance.

When any of the kids run into difficulty with a level and end up stuck there, it’s an indication that they need additional practice on that skill. I was really excited to find a resource today where you can enter your own parameters and generate endless worksheets as pdfs that can be quickly printed and distributed to students to give them ample reinforcement in the area where they are struggling. For example, just click Multiplication Worksheets and it takes you to a page where you can specify what to include on the worksheet. I know I’ll be visiting this site often!

Living for Jesus-
what does that mean?
Can’t I still play
on my basketball team?

Living for Jesus-
how do I know?
Can’t I still watch
my favorite show?

Living for Jesus-
how will it end?
Can’t I still keep
my very best friend?

Living for Jesus-
will it be fair?
Can’t I still dress
with cute clothes and hair?

Living for Jesus-
what will I find?
Can’t I still own
what’s rightfully mine?

Living for Jesus-
how is it done?
Can’t I still have
a life that is fun?

Living for Jesus-
what is the key?
Can’t I be blessed
while living for me?

The Cost of Discipleship According to Jesus
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

How do we convey to our children the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ compared to anything and everything in this world? How do we lead them to the truth that if they will lose their life for the sake of the gospel, then – and only then – they will truly find it?