Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kristi's Notes: The Discipline of Grace

I've been crawling through the book The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. (Crawling because I have trouble reading anything unless it is totally quiet.... which NEVER happens when I have enough energy to hold my eyes open long enough to read.)

Grace has been a reoccurring theme, woven throughout many aspects of my life, lately.  Yet, being disciplined, in a non-legalistic way, has also been arising as well.  I have read a bit on God's Grace a very long time ago and I know the two "discipline" and "grace" appear to be opposites but are in reality two parts of a greater whole.

Sections of the first chapter have just jumped off the page waving at me like brilliant flags.  I wanted a place to share them.  I encourage you to pick up the book, but if you don't have time, can't find it, or simply want the "Kristi's Notes" version feel free to read on.   Much of it is directly quoted from his book.

Let me also warn you if you want to know more you might actually HAVE to go get a copy of the book since it is summer ball season, gardening season, we are summer schooling, and I seem to only remember to log onto my blog a few times a year lately.  That *might* change.  We shall see.  I can't promise I will actually get back here to tell you about chapter 2.  The book is old and likely sells for pennies on used book sites.

Here are some notes.... Oh, and you all will have to forgive me because I will be typing snippets with very little explanation or segue from one to another.  (Why? Cause I'm excited but tired and don't want to spend a week in "compose" mode... OH!!, and it's my blog and I don't hafta!  I know, I know!  It'll LOOK BETTER if I do.....but currently I just want to give you the snippets!)

p13:  "An understanding of how grace and personal, vigorous effort work together is essential for a lifelong pursuit of holiness."
p17: "Regardless of our performance, we are always dependent on God's grace, His undeserved favor to those who deserve His wrath."
p21: "Without a continual reminder of the good news of the gospel, we can easily fall into one of two errors.  The first is to focus on our external performance and become proud like the Pharisees.  The second is the exact opposite of the first.  It is the feeling of guilt."
p.22: "Because we are focusing on our performance, we forget the meaning of grace: God's unmerited favor to those who deserve only His wrath.  Pharisee-type believers unconsciously think they have earned God's blessing through their behavior.  Guilt-laden believers are quite sure they have forfeited God's blessing through their lack of discipline or their disobedience.  Both have forgotten the meaning of grace because they have moved away from the gospel and have slipped into a performance relationship with God.
p24: "Years ago I heard a godly minister say, 'Discipline without desire is drudgery.'"
p24-25: "What compelled or motivated Paul in such a strong manner was not a continual challenge to be more disciplined, or more committed, or more holy.  Rather it was his constant heartfelt awareness of Christ's love for him. It was not the thought that "I ought to do this or that" or a feeling of guilt for not doing something that motivated him. Rather it was his overwhelming sense of Christ's love for him that spurred him on. . . . Duty or guilt may motivate us for awhile, but ONLY a sense of Christ's love for us will motivate us for a lifetime. If the love of Christ for us is to be the motivating force for a life of discipleship, how then can we come to the place where we are actually conscious of His love?  The answer is, through the message of the gospel. As we continually reflect upon that gospel, the Holy Spirit floods our hearts with a sense of God's love to us in Christ. And that sense of His love motivates us in a compelling way to live for Him. . . .  A sense of obligation and duty NEVER stimulates such a desire within us.  Only love does that."

***Kristi side note: That last quote is SO POWERFUL to me.  It has been my clinging to my basic tenets of faith and the hard to believe message of love behind the cross and resurrection that have pulled me through some of my biggest struggles.  We *do* because we feel so loved we can't possibly imagine sitting without doing something. ***
p25-26: "Preaching the gospel to ourselves every day addresses both the self-righteous Pharisee and the guilt-laden sinner that dwell in our hearts. . . it reminds us that we ARE indeed sinners in need of God's grace.  Perhaps more importantly, though, preaching the gospel to ourselves every day gives us the joy (... of the risen Lord), gives us courage to face the day, and offers us hope that God's favor will rest upon us, not because we are good, but because we are in Christ."
p26: "Repentance is one of the Christian's highest privileges.  A repentant Christian focuses on God's mercy and God's grace."
p27."May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Galatians 6:14)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5 Questions to Ask Your Children at the End of the School Year

These questions are not original to me.  I've never thought about asking my kids any questions at the end of the school year.  Perhaps I am just thankful to be done.  Perhaps, since we loosely school all year round I don't even really *feel* like there is an *end of the year.*  I am currently in the middle of prepping and kicking off our Summer Units while pulling my hair out because I can't find a solid middle of the road US History Survey curriculum for next fall.  Then there is that stupid whispering voice in me which I enjoy punching back into place that says "My mom-hood is just not amazing enough to do such things."

Regardless of why I've never thought to do this, I think these are great questions.  I got them from The Homeschool Post from this post.   Mine arrived in my inbox, I'm lazy like that.

These questions are great.  They are great for ALL STUDENTS EVERYWHERE, not just homeschoolers.   I think I might have us write out the answers and stash them into our work folders for this year.   I could see other parents writing out the answers and stowing them away with those report card things that come home with the children.

And then I hope that at the end of NEXT year someone reminds me to do it again.   :)

Here are the 5 questions:

What is the most memorable moment from this past year?

What are you most happy about accomplishing this year?

What was your favorite book this year and why?

What five adjectives would you use to describe this year?

What are your top three favorite or most important things you learned this year?

Aren't those great?    A great way to allow THEM to do a final assessment of their hard, grueling, emotion provoking year.   (Maybe those would be my three adjectives, lol.)

What do ya think?

Do you do any year end assessment like this or do you merely throw the notebooks into a "keepsake box" (or the trash) and move onto the fun of summer?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

If I Stand

A lot has been going on in my life since I was last here.

I have missed blogging very much and thought I might start a post here or there again.

Maybe someday I will even let you know some of what's been going on since last Fall when I posted last.

Today, I just want to share some lyrics with you.

Lyrics from the most inspirational singer to my life.

Here are the lyrics to "If I Stand" with a link to RICH HIMSELF playing and singing it for us on April 11, 1997, the year he died.   Man, I miss you Rich.

If I Stand

There's more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
More that shines in the night
Than just the moon
There's more than just this fire here
That keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger
Than this room
There's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiment
A music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the giver
Of all good things
So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That You will pull me through
And if I can't let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
If I sing let me sing for the joy
That has bornin me these songs
But if I weep let it be as a man 
Who is longing for his home
There's more that dances on the prairies
Than the wind
More that pulses in the ocean
Than the tide
There's a love that is fiercer
Than the love between friends
More gently than a mother's 
When her baby's at her side
Repeat Chorus

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/r/rich_mullins/

And then I accidentally flipped onto another video from the same performance in Wheaton.  He had just put down a milk shake and then said,"They always say you should never drink milkshakes before you sing.  And I didn't.  I just think that morning is worse than a milkshake and if I had my options I'd rather be hoarse because of a milkshake than because of morning.  If you want to know the whole truth about it.   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjP7A8Jp9vI)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Prepping Preschool 2012

As I prepare to teach my 3 & 5 year olds letter recognition and letter order this year I thought it was time to find some new activities. As I was prepping these new activities I thought I would share what I found.

First, I FINALLY finished gluing the rest of our letter tiles for All About Spelling.
You can read about how I made these tiles here.  To be honest with you, I feel the magnets are actually TOO strong but in lieu of doing the ENTIRE project all over again I decided to just continue on and make them all now so we are ready to work our way up to level 5 with all the tiles that we need.

Second, I found these cute letter matching frog alphabet puzzles.  
 I plan on keeping the Capitol and Lower Case letters attached for the moment.  When I know that my two littles KNOW all their letters when they are paired THEN I will cut them apart.  So for now my plan is to give them the letters A-D in all the colors and have them sort the cards into piles by letter.  When they can do the whole alphabet in the right order (or maybe before) then I will cut them apart.  I made them in colors so that I can easily pull out one whole alphabet.  I might cut one alphabet apart so they can match upper case A with lower case A and leave the other colors to be grouped together.   (I dunno... when they are THIS young I kind of fly by the seat of my pants.  The important thing is that 1)they can continue being kids 2)they are learning and 3)they don't hate school.

Third, I found a Bingo sort of game.   It's called Letter Sound Lotto.
You can download the sample (which seems pretty complete) HERE.
I just found this site and they seem to have many fun and free downloads.  :)

Where do you go to get free preschool practice games?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Selecting Preschool-Kindy 2012 books

Usually, I am screaming "SHUT UP ABOUT BACK TO SCHOOL ALREADY" at this time of the year.  Usually, I am elbow deep in tomato sauce cooking and green bean canning and have squash exploding around me.  Usually, I can not even BEGIN TO THINK about starting school back up until the very last week of September when my children are BEGGING me to start school.  Usually, my start date is scheduled for the beginning 2 weeks of OCTOBER!!!

This year.....

Well, this year is a REALLY WEIRD CREATURE TO ME!!!

This year our gardens did not do that swell.  I do not have produce up to my eyeballs.  This is something to both lament (lack of food stores for the year = more money will be needed on groceries) and something to rejoice (I am not processing food right now).

It's leaving me in a really strange state: BACK TO SCHOOL PREPARATIONS!!

I really thought I had everything figured out last spring.

Until I realized, I have everything figured out for my 3rd grader, OTTO!
This is Abram's Kindergarten year.  He turns 6 in mid-November.
This is Gracie's preschool year.  She turns 4 in mid-November but would not be old enough for Jr. Kindergarten in the public schools.

Despite the 2 years difference in these two I have decided to attempt a Kindergarten routine with them both at the same time.  

My expectations are that Abram is old enough now to perform (last year he had not an ounce of interest in writing, coloring and cutting).   He, however, knows his letter sounds and this spring and summer he BEGGED me to teach him reading.   I will present the materials and then expect him to master the seat work side of things.

Gracie has not yet mastered her letter sounds and recognition but she too wants to read and write.  Since the Kindy programs that I want to use essentially walk through the letters (albeit never in the same order as any other program) I will just work on letter sound and recognition with her while we perfect it and learn handwriting with her brother.

I will not expect Gracie to keep up with her brother....
YET.... it all honestly I would not be surprised if she did keep up!

We shall see.

Meanwhile, this weekend has been filled with thinking through how to use the curriculum that I have.  I will admit, I think I have TOO MUCH curriculum.  Yet, because I can not bear to not use GOOD STUFF that I spent so many pinched pennies on I think I have figured out a way to use much of most of it.

Here is what I have for these two this year:
Veritas Press Phonics Museum
I love AND hate this curriculum.  I used the entire Kindy program with Otto.  He is my guinea pig first child.  He already knew his letters and letter sounds but I was afraid of that ever looming guilt inducing thought: the fear of him having GAPS or MISSING SOMETHING.  <>  In hindsight with Otto, it was not a wasted year but instead we just VERY STRONGLY reinforced the phonemes and he was able to learn some fun history and art lessons as he read the Primers.  I have been debating if I wanted to just pack up this big box and sell it to recover some of what I spent on it used 3 years ago.

Now, I think I will use this as my spine curriculum, letting it guide the rest of our work.  However, I do not like all of the components so I need to find time this week to sit down and write out a list of the activities I do plan on doing and what to substitute where.  I HATE de-Neilian handwriting which is what P.M. uses.  So for each handwriting page we will substitute Handwriting Without Tears or a page from our  "Everything for Early Learning" book.  I love how P.M. plays games to reinforce phoneme listening skills.  The worksheets that teach letter recognition and thinking skills are super fun as well.  They use old fashioned art work which I think helps expand visual horizons.  The arts and crafts in the book correspond with the letter being studied but they are not "over-the-top."  They are very simple and I found them to be low stress.  Examples would be coloring a mask or dipping a cut apple into paint to make an apple stamp.  (I love to craft myself for relaxation but to do it with my children feels like torture.)  P.M. incorporates fun stories and cutting activities.  I will keep most of these, substitute the handwriting, skip the flashcards and confusing board game and will only randomly set up our "letter museum" of found artifacts that start with the current letter being learned.

Handwriting Without Tears: My Printing Book
This is actually the 1st grade book. I do not have a Kindy writing book but figured we can use the books we have, I can make up extra practice sheets and we can use our chalk boards and white erase boards.  I have two of these books and each page of each book is covered with a sheet protector.  (I love horizontal books because it is so easy to do this!)  Instead of writing on the paper we write on the clear sheet protector with dry erase markers or dry erase crayons and then when we are finished we wipe it off and it is like new.  :) If we need to do the book again next year we have that option without spending extra money.  

I need to find an acronym for this book.   This is not an in-depth, all encompassing curriculum but it has about 3 pages per letter (a lower case writing page, a page to color with pictures that begin with that letter and a maze, matching activity or some other fun activity page).  Before I decided to use Phonics Museum I thought this would be enough.  Now, it might be more busy work but Abram and Gracie REALLY are loving it so I will use it to supplement their handwriting practice and to give them extra pages to color and problem solve with.

These two books provide a ton of cutting, pasting, puzzle solving, matching, thinking and fun pages.  They will help my little people work on their cutting and gluing skills while they learn to match shadows, shapes, letters, words, word order.  They will trace lines, write letters, do dot-to-dots.  They will order pictures, put a picture together in the right order (jig-saw puzzle like), they will answer questions, match what items are similar or different.  Finding the answers has many, many pages asking questions about animals what they eat, where they live, how they move, how they are alike or different.  This book alone is full of critical thinking activities that should be a blast to color, cut and glue.  

I have NO idea where in our schedule we will fit these, but I REALLY think they are valuable books.

Number Writing: My homemade number writing book using Rod and Staff: Counting with Numbers and Everywhere We Go

I need an acronym or name for this one too.   This is a small 1/2 inch three ring binder of copied pages from miscellaneous places (mostly the books above) that I made to teach Otto how to write his numbers and cement his number recognition skills.   Again, I need to plan out my week so that I hit this book once a week at least to teach the writing and recognition of numbers 1-10.  It is mostly writing with some coloring, cutting and gluing along the way.   Numbers are not really included in any of the other books, which is why I pulled this together for Otto years ago.

Preschool curriculum makes me want to pull my hair out because EVERYONE has a different idea of how to teach, what letters, and in what order they should go.  No one uses the same order and EVERYONE thinks their way is best.
I used The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading to teach reading to Otto.  I like it.  Otto thrived from the non-picture containing instruction.  I found it to be very thorough but SUPER SLOW.  Each short vowel C-V-C pattern has at least 3-4 pages. The book is so big and heavy I took it to an office store and had them chop the spine off so I could put it into a 3 ring binder and only pull out one page at a time. Otto needed the extra practice that this book provided. Abram does not.  He "gets it" and the extra work just feeds his "Captain Distractable" traits.  

This year I will be using the above as a supplement with Abram but hope to use Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
with both Abram and Gracie.  It works on letter sounds, letter recognition, incorporates how to write the letters and moves much faster through the actual reading.  I would LOVE if this book teaches Gracie to read and moves Abram through the lessons fast enough for him to start reading more independently.  He doesn't struggle nearly as much as Otto, he is VERY eager and I think he has the potential to really fly with a curriculum that moves quickly.   

Gracie does not yet know all of her letter sounds but I think this book will teach those along the way instead of all together.  The glories of homeschooling is that each child is different and they all soar at their own rate in their own areas and we parent teachers often have no idea where that will be until we are there.  There are surprises around every corner.

All three children are working through Sonlight Science B.

Once we master writing and number recognition I will jump full footed into Saxon 1 
 Along the way we will do some simple addition and subtraction using dominoes and other manipulatives.  Abram also can tell time to the hour and 1/2 hour so we will keep working with time and money at random as well.

Art/Social Studies:
We will work on Artistic Pursuits Book 1 all together this year.

Physical Education:
We will be attending Physical Education class at the University again this year.  I THINK that all 3 children will be able to attend this year.  Of course, that assumes that Gracie will de-cling herself from me.  Perhaps the lure of never being able to go in and play in the past will make it exciting but Abram moves up to the next age level, so we shall see.

We are through DVD #1 in the KinderBach series and will soon begin DVD #2.  You can read more about KinderBach here on my review.  We loved it so much we went out and purchased ALL the DVDs!!  I can not say enough good things about this program for young children!

Now, my challenge is to fit all of that into our weekly schedule on a somewhat regular basis so that we are sure to hit it all.  It's like a big ol puzzle.  Did you know I HATE PUZZLES!!  :)

Here's to a good year!
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