Sunday, October 2, 2016

God speaks to me through library books

Despite having three-sometimes-four children in my house, I usually have some idea where my possessions are, including the many library books that come in and out every month.  With the library books, however, there seems to be some sort of gremlin that comes in and messes up my system, so that, every few months, there is a Significant Book Disappearance.  I will pull out a stack of books to take back to the library, but somewhere between the stack-making and check in, a book disappears.  At first I'll think I just dropped it somewhere, but after a property-wide book-hunt, it will become clear that the book has vanished.  Aggravating!

photo by Alexis Kriticos

I've found when these things occur, there is no solution but to immediately commence supplication: "Hi God, it's me.  Yes, there's a book missing again, which I'm convinced is your way of reminding me that you are the source of everything that plays out easy in my life.  I am so grateful.  I ask that you order my steps, center my thoughts on you, and please help me find that library book."

And God always does.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nourish - Liturgy Resources

I always seem to have a topic that is guiding my personal study.

Last summer, the main focus was the philosophy of Charlotte Mason, which continues to inform and educate my thinking on education and life with children in general.

This year, and especially this summer, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of liturgy.  I talked a little about in this post detailing our spring routine and I'll write more about it when I share our new-ish fall routine.  A truly excellent part of this is that many of my friends have been digging into the topic of liturgy as well.  Consequently, there has been a plethora of thoughtful posts ruminating on the concept.

photo by Gabi Agu

Rather than try to intelligently regurgitate all I've read (and continue to digest), I'm going to collect a few of my links and quotes below:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hoffman Academy Piano Lessons: A Reivew

As I mentioned last spring, we have been slowly working our way through Hoffman Academy’s first unit of piano instruction videos.  After I mentioned this on my blog, Hoffman Academy offered me a free unit in exchange for a honest review.  This was a pretty safe bet on their part because our family already loved the video lessons.  I happily agreed.  I then received the Unit 2 Complete Materials ($29 for the Family License).  This includes:

  • Music Theory Worksheets & Activity Pages
  • Song Sheets with Practice Instructions
  • Piano Listening CD MP3s
  • Practice CD MP3s
  • Parent’s Guide

If you don’t feel like reading much more because you’ve got some cute panda videos calling your name, here’s the short answer:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

morning glories and eyespots

I sit with my coffee and Bible, praying over the things heavy on my heart, and the morning glories catch my eye.  A flower designed to pop open when sunlight reaches its petals, and close up tight again when the light wains.  This viney plant was so disturbing to my children at first.  How could something so lovely disappear so fast?  How indeed?  Maybe the better question is, why all that beauty in the first place?

This morning, I am contemplating.  Maybe . . . fuming a little?  Wondering how a God who takes the time to create this

morning glories taking over my backyard

and this

Migrating Gulf Fritillary (far from home!)

also allows record numbers of children to be born into filth, neglect, and abuse.  Wondering how a God who makes sunset after sunset fling color across the sky - in what can only be called an extravagant, unnecessary display of beauty - allows selfishness and discord and confusion to rip apart marriages.  Wondering how a God who whispers I am here in the crisp autumn wind and the steady-rolling ocean waves and the diamond streaks of a meteor shower can seem so desolately silent in the all the pain on this earth.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Release. . . what it "should" look like

Our foster daughter Allie turns 18 tomorrow.  Despite her painful, tumultuous exit from our home, and through many ups and downs, she will celebrate the day as a part of our family.

A year ago, my hopes for this day were warm and rosy, though grounded (I thought) in the difficult realities of raising a foster teen.

Six months ago, I had no hopes at all for this day; only worry, sadness, and a nagging sense of failure.  Her presence with us now, though still challenging and loaded with baggage, is nothing short of miraculous.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A homeschool routine that nourishes

In my last post, I shared about the ideas and philosophies I have been studying and working to incorporate into our family's journey.  This includes our homeschooling, but is really about our life rhythm, and applies far beyond what some would call "school."  My goal was a merging of ideas that would help me reorient our daily life so that it gave priority to the things we value as a family and established a more restful pace.

poetry tea time

The routine I have established has worked beautifully for over 4 months now.  The most convincing proof is how we felt approaching our usual June break.  Most years, I'm dragging us all through the last few weeks of May, and often we just give up and quit somewhere near the end.  This year, however, we have had such a nice rhythm and adequate periods of rest (see Sabbath schooling) that we were able to finish strong.  Don't get me wrong - we will still take the month of June off, and the kids and I are all definitely looking forward to that.  But we're not dying, crawling through these last few days devoid of joy or enthusiasm.  That, folks, I call a win.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


original photo by John Goode

I’ve had the question above pinned to the edge of our memory work board for at least eight months now.  The question, aroused by a variety of sources, bothered me because I was pretty sure the liturgy of our day did NOT wholly reflect what we value.  I felt it was crucial to our well being as a family - when the routines of our day don't match who we are, rest is not found - yet I couldn't figure out how to address it.

These things take a lot of mulling-over time, it seems.

We first have to clarify all our terms in this context, particularly liturgy.  The dictionary definition is this: a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship; or: a customary repertoire of ideas, phrases, or observances.

Rolling those two definitions together in the context of daily life in general (and the home in particular), I understand the word liturgy to refer to the rhythms, habits, and practices around which we order our day.  What comes first?  To what do we give the most time?  For what do we carve out space, no matter the chaos of any particular day?  And what do we squeeze into the fringe hours and sometimes drop all together?


Next we need to know what we value in the first place?  I cannot know if my day is ordered around what I value if I don't even know for sure what my values are.

I’ve always been heavily influenced by the philosophies of nineteenth century classical educator Charlotte Mason.  Last summer and fall, I spent a great deal of time immersing myself deeper in her ideas.  Principles like "Education is the science of relations," and "We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children," have been swirling around in my head ever since then.  During the 2015-2016 academic year, I also started studying the concept of Leadership Education, also known as Thomas Jefferson Education, which has its roots in (among other things) the idea of mentoring students along a path to maturity.

Discussing these philosophies in detail is beyond the scope of this post, but please do contact me if you'd like resources for further investigation.

Early this year, I added to the brain swirling when I participated in Sarah Mackenzie’s Master class, Focus and Align.  In this class, Sarah walks you through clarifying your end goal, your vision for what your student will be like when they leave your home, and how you and they will reflect on their education and life.  (This class is available inside the membership section of Read Aloud Revival site.)  This class has helped me mesh together the things I have been studying and desiring for my home and my homeschool into a more coherent vision.  Near the end of the class, Sarah helps her participants create a "Rule of 6," in which you get crystal clear on the values that will govern your home and life.  (The Rule of Six idea was inspired by this blog post by Melissa Wiley.)

You know by now my inclination for choosing words that are powerful to me and using them as overarching goals for my life.  This rule of six business is really just another spin on the "one word" strategy so, of course, I love it.  Also of course, I couldn't settle on just six words.  I managed to get Mr. Cyrus involved in mulling over these ideas, and this is what we came up with.

Cyrus Family Values

original photo by Ronan Shenhav

The meshing of these ideas has helped me reorient our daily life so that it flows more authentically from who we are as a family and as homeschoolers, and allows us to truly live and learn from a place of rest.  All the details on that in the next post.

Other posts in this series:


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