The Journey Begins

Happy New Year! It is always exciting starting a new year, full of promises for the future and hopeful expectations. I am looking forward to a new set of goals and to grow personally and spiritually.

I am really looking forward to hosting “A Journey Through Charlotte Mason” reading challenge with my dear friends, Molly, Kara, and Tiffany on Instagram. This as been a dream of mine for a while and God helped collaborate the perfect team to help achieve it.

Over the course of several months, I have been able to virtually collaborate with these ladies and to get to know them better. They too, have a passion for living a Christ centered life, loving on their families and have been inspired to teach their children using the Charlotte Mason Method.

Together, we hope to embark on a journey encouraging ourselves and mamas across the globe to dive deeper into Miss Mason’s Home Education Series.

As a way to start off our challenge I wanted to introduce you to the hosts for 2019’s #ajourneythroughcm’s reading challenge. I consider it an honor to share their stories on my humble blog. I hope you’ll take the time to reach out to them and say hello.

Hi there! My name is Molly. My husband and I have been married for 7 years and we have two boys! I was homeschooled until high school and never thought I would choose to homeschool my own children. But then God. So many of the decisions we have made have for our family started out like that. But then God gave us a heart for homeschooling our boys. We came across the Charlotte Mason method and we knew this would be the method for our homeschool. We are so excited to be doing this book study together! You can find out more about Molly on Instagram @homestylewith_molly

My name is Kara Earhart, I live in Iowa with my husband, who is a youth pastor, our three young kids, and our dog. We enjoy being outside, playing games, reading and doing ministry life together. We stumbled across homeschooling purely by accident, but since learning about and focusing on the Charlotte Mason method, have absolutely adored it! You can find out more about Kara here @letterstolyra

I am Tiffany. Wife to Ben for almost 8 years and mom to three daughters, ages 4, 2, and 3 weeks. Wifehood and motherhood are my primary callings and wow, these realms produce enough joy and learning for a lifetime. Education, discipleship, and the culture in my home have been passions since my eldest was born, so my appetite was wet for Charlotte Mason’s philosophies when they came to me through a community of beautiful families who were already living her methods. Her radical and refreshing philosophy of education ignited a spark in me that has grown into a love of learning and a desire to teach my daughters the task of lifelong learning as well. In our homeschool, we are cultivating a love of Jesus and his Word, an appreciation for nature, many opportunities to make beautiful things, and learning together through many books. Childhood autonomy is highly sought after and I pray every day that patience and grace abound. You can find Tiffany here @tiffanykundueller

And lastly, myself! If you haven’t already caught it, my name is McKenzy. I have been married to my husband, Brantz, for seven years and together we have three boys. My husband and I decided early on we wanted to build the life we love. One of which includes starting a little homestead and home educating our children as we get to savor these little years with them. We fell in love with Charlotte Mason’s ideals of life long learning and self propelled education. If you’d like to read more about why we decided to homeschool our children you can read more about it here. You can also find me on Instagram @threelittleacornsacademy.

We are so looking forward to connecting with you all through our reading challenge and I hope you’ll take the time to introduce yourself, share what you love about Charlotte Mason and maybe even what you hope to gain from this experience.

You can begin reading today! Remember, if you read 5-7 pages a day you can easily complete each section in time. Check back in on my Instagram on Monday January 8th and we will discuss the first assignment! If you come across something you loved and want to share it sooner, please do! Use our hashtag #ajourneythroughcm and we will link up there!

You can find a free download of our reading schedule on my previous post, A Journey through Charlotte Mason. Happy reading, friends!

A Journey through Charlotte Mason

As I dive deeper into the world of Charlotte Mason, I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with so many mamas who are inspired by her as well. Together we relish in her ideals of narration, nature study, poetry and living books. Books are a huge topic, so many to read and discover. But one thing we come to quickly find out is that we have never actually finished any of her books.

One reason I know why we have yet to read them is because it is a “stiff read”. Making sense of her 18th century terminology is difficult.  Top that with her advanced knowledge in literature, art, history and philosophy it can literally be mind boggling!

The second reason I find we never finish is due to the lack of accountability. So often, we as mothers, put off the things we want to do for what we think we need to do.

I’ll be transparent here, at the end of the day I’m exhausted!  Not only am I physically drained but mentally, and the last thing I want to do is be challenged in such way.

Even though we are faced with daily obstacles, we should still put forth the effort and carve out some time in our day to read and learn.  We need to ask ourselves the following question, if we are not taking the time to nourish our own minds, how else will we grow?

Let me put it this way, we are not “amending our own soil” with good things we will not be able to flourish in our own roles as parents. Parenting with intentionality takes effort- homeschooling adds a whole other dimension to your relationship!

Since it’s the beginning of a brand new year, let’s set a goal and actually do it! This year is your year to read “Home Education”. In order to help you do just that, I have been collaborating with Molly from @homestylewith_molly , Kara from @letterstolyra and Tiffany from @tiffanykundmeuller . Together, we are going to host a  ten week Charlotte Mason Reading Challenge on Instagram starting in 2019!

Here’s how it will work, begin reading January 1st (or a little sooner if you need that buffer time!) and check in every Monday with the rotating host. There,  we will share what we have learned, where we were inspired and what we would like to change in our lives and in our homeschool.

We want to hear from you too! Let us know what you are learning! Comment on our posts or share on your Instagram account or in your stories using the hashtag #ajourneythroughcm. We will post our favorites throughout the week!

Giveaway will run from 12/1, 8 am EST  until 12/8, 9pm EST. Winner to be announced 12/10/18 via Instagram.

To help us kick off the event, Living Book Press is going to giveaway their edition of Home Education to one lucky winner! Check out my Instagram page for entry details.

Download and print off a copy of our reading schedule (use it as a book mark!) Press the “download button” to retrieve it! 

Purchase your copy of Home Education from Living Book Press on Amazon:

//*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from this affliate link*

My Three Little Acorns

“So often we pray for oak trees, and he gives us acorns.

Before I go any further with this blog I find it very appropriate to share with you why I named our home school. (I mean other than the fact that it is super cute to come up with a catchy name and logo. )

If you have a minute, I’d really like to tell you my reasoning, because it is a lesson I learned the hard way. One that came from a deep source of grief and guilt. Although, just like Romans 8:28 says, God used it as a teachable moment to me and has used it to grow my faith. Now, I will forever have this testimony to hold on to. Through my sin He has triumphed and has given me a vision for the future. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

In the spring of last year (2017) I was not in the best place mentally, emotionally and spiritually. To be honest, I was pretty much at the end of my rope. You see, we had recently moved back to Pennsylvania from an prior, whirlwind of a move to Colorado. At the time, we were living with my (very sweet and loving) in laws for months on end while we were looking to buy our next home. After moving around so much I was desperately longing for a place of our own again. And to top it off, I was pregnant with our third son. Its easy to joke about being pregnant and emotional when you’re not pregnant but- its no joke when you are. 

I often cried out to God to answer our prayers for finding a home, for peace and contentment in our situation, and for patience with the boys. I was always so short tempered and easily frustrated. Far from the mother I had aspired to be. And in the midst of it all I was feeling mostly hurt by God, as if he had abandoned me.

During this time I started re-attending our churches Titus 2 Ladies Bible Study Group. This had once been a place that I felt so close to God, where i had grown so much spiritually.  Now, I felt so empty and even being there was difficult. As I parked the car and pulled the kids out of their seats i begged them to hurry inside as we were already late. I grabbed their hands and briskly walked toward the church entrance.

Suddenly, I felt my then three year old stop abruptly  as he tugged on my arm. My body  still wanting to be in motion, turned around to find him squatting in the parking lot, picking up acorns that had fall from a near by oak tree. He filed his little hands with acorns and proudly stood up to show me his treasures. I hastily replied, “Neat! Lets go!”.

While I checked him into the nursery, he proudly displayed his finds to his teacher. She oohed and aahed over them and then suggested that he put them in a safe spot so the youngest children didn’t put them in their mouths. I agreed and we settled on putting them in my pocket for the time being.  I kissed him and said goodbye and headed toward the classroom.

As I took my seat in bible study, we were starting Priscilla Shirer’s video series, Discerning the Voice of God. In her video, she described the biblical account of Naaman, and how God healed him of his Leprosy. God told him to go wash himself in the filthiest of places, the Jordan River, in order to be cured. 

Naaman didn’t believe him because the task was too simple and the Jordan River was a dirty place. No one would think to bathe themselves clean there. Nor could it have possibly been a place of hope and healing.

Priscilla went on to say “That just because it sounded so simple didn’t mean it couldn’t come from God. So often we pray for big things and expect big answers from God. But it’s often the little tasks that He gives us, that builds our character… So often we pray for oak trees, and he gives us acorns.

And there I sat, dumbfounded, with a pocket full of acorns from my precious son. A chill ran down my spine and pang of guilt hung in my gut. I was so convicted of my short comings, of my sin.

In that moment, it was as if God was telling me, here is your acorn! It’s your children! Roll up your sleeves and do the hard work! Plant them in good soil, nurture them, weed around the trunks and they will grow! You are their care takers, I have given you this task.  Just like the power of the sun, casting its rays on the earth to produce good and lovely things – I will do the rest.

So that, dear friends, is why I named our homeschool Three Little Acorns Academy. This is our journey, as we train up our boys. I pray that raising them, will be my greatest accomplishment in life.  Not because I did it in my own strength but through a daily, and even minute by minute, dependence on Christ. 

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:6&7

I made this little printable as a reminder on the hard days, to give my children truth, beauty and goodness. And to renew my mind on such things. I hope it will be a source of encouragement to you as well. 

Click the “download” button below to get your 4×6 copy.

Christmas with Littles (Free Printable + Giveaway)

I had first heard of a Jesse Tree on the God Centered Mom Podcast (now renamed “Don’t Mom Alone Podcast”). On her episode, Christmas Traditions with Little Ones,  Heather interviewed Jacki Rucksdashel and together they discussed ways to make a big impression on little hearts during the Christmas season.

At this time in my life I was really questioning what type of values we should have and what type of vision we should cast for our family. Growing up, my family didn’t carry on too many traditions but I knew it was something I’d like to practice with our children.

While listening to the podcast I was particularly drawn to the idea of  a Jesse Tree because it seemed like something I could start early (with my then two and three year old sons)  and it was a tangible way for them to connect with the true meaning of Christmas. 

Now, I know you all are quietly asking yourself “Who in the world is Jesse and what does he have to do with Christmas?!?” It’s ok, I thought the same thing too. *wink* So, before I go any further, let me tell you what a Jesse Tree is.

A Jesse tree is essentially an advent count down (or up?) of key biblical characters leading to the birth of Jesus Christ. Developer of The Jesse Tree Project, Jacki Rucksdashel, describes it like this;

“The Jesse Tree is a way of telling the story of God’s plan from the beginning of time to redeem His people by sending a Savior.  It follows the lineage of Christ’s family and key people in the Old Testament that God uses to tell His story from Creation through Christ’s birth.  It is a countdown daily to Christmas with the telling of a story, and an ornament that acts as a symbol and visual reminder of the story.”

Since we’ve started following the devotional during the Christmas season, we have been able to sow little seeds in our children’s hearts of biblical accounts.  Each year our children giggle with delight as we pull our Jesse Tree and recall memories of us sitting around the dinner table sharing stories of Adam and Eve and singing “Only a Boy named David”. Although, the David and Goliath account isn’t technically included in the devotional, it was certainly a springboard into David’s story. 

This year, I organized an ornament exchange in our local community and it was so much fun. I was amazed at each ornament and the creativity from each person who made it. But to me, the most exciting part is that each ornament will be a vessel for sharing the gospel with our children. 

As a way to share my excitement about it with you, I am partnering with The Jesse Tree Project on Instagram and together we are giving away a set of ornaments from our local exchange AND a printed copy of the devotional. So be sure to check it out!

(Giveaway runs from Friday 11/16/18, 8 am EST to Sunday 11/17 9 pm EST, winner to be announced on Monday 11/18, this giveaway is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Instagram and is only open to US Residents)

And because I love y’all so very much I also created FREE silhouette printable ornaments that follows the Jesse Tree devotional (although her ebook does come with a set of ornaments as well!) Print on cardstock, cut, hole punch and BAM! Instant ornaments. Or, you can do like I did and mod podge them on to wooden ornaments to make them a little more durable.

           Free Jesse Tree Silhouette Printable 

Note: There are a total of six printable pages so be sure to click on the”download” button for each one to get access to them all!

If you would like to order your copy of The Jesse Tree Project you can purchase it here. As well listen to the Don’t Mom Alone Podcast episode #142 Christmas Traditions with Little Ones with Heather McFadyen.

I hope you’ll use this time leading up to Christmas to consider what traditions you’d like to start with your little ones and maybe you’ll even consider starting your own Jess Tree!

Some Preliminary Considerations

“You’re going to homeschool?!?” (insert bewildered look) “Being around my children all day, they’d drive me crazy!”, ” I don’t think I’m smart enough to teach my children all they need to know, I’m afraid I’d mess up!” These are just a few of the comments I hear when I begin to explain that we have chosen to homeschool our children. My favorite comment though, is the following; “Aren’t you worried about them getting enough socialization?”37722407_10155681391382467_480475904049414144_n

I know that those I have spoken with make these comments with good intentions but I am truly taken by surprise at how passive parents can be in regards to their children’s educations. Not that I think they do not care, because they do! Or that I don’t think that there are some wonderful teachers, because there are! But because, at the end of the day, who do you think is going to be more invested into your child? You of course!

I have always loved the idea of homeschooling, I myself, went to public school and my husband was homeschooled. Even as a little girl I would play teacher with the kids in my neighborhood. I would spend hours planning lessons, setting up a school room in our three seasons porch and even making permission slips for parents to fill out to go on “field trips” to the park. (ok, I was a goofy kid). It wasn’t until I found out I was pregnant with my first son that I realized I really could homeschool him!

So, from early on I was obsessed with the notion of homeschooling. My husband on the other hand, wasn’t so excited about it but through some crazy turn of life events, strengthening of our faith and marriage we easily agreed that for this season in our lives (and our children’s) homeschooling would be the best fit. Now the question was, how to go about it. As I researched homeschooling I realized there are SO many different methods and theories for education that it became overwhelming!

I am very thankful for my oldest sister-in-law (SIL), as she has paved the way for homeschooling and has been a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. It is she, who loaned me a copy of “For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.  After I devoured the book in just a few days, my head was filled with beautiful ideals about mothering, my children and the direction in which I wanted to set course for our homeschool journey.

Since then, I’ve soaked up other books, podcasts and blogs on the Charlotte Mason Method and I feel quite confident in my ability to mother and homeschool. So, when I am faced with questions on our decision my answers are as follows: “Yes! We are homeschooling and I am SO excited about it! Yes, my children drive me crazy too after being home with them all day. But the second I kiss their little faces, tuck them into bed and shut the door, I instantly miss them! I usually spend the rest of the evening reminiscing with my husband on the events that happened that day. No, I don’t think I am smart enough to teach them everything they need to know, but I am willing to learn along side them. There is a big chance I will mess up along the way, because I am merely human.

This is an adventure for our whole family, to savor these little years, a growing time to establish our family culture, our values and build character. A chance to cast a vision of who we want our children to be like when they are adults and to literally lay the path brick by brick. To parent with an end goal in mind. For us, it’s to love God with all of their hearts, and that they will be sensitive to His leading.

And lastly, NO! I am not worried about them getting enough socialization. HA! I am by nature, a outgoing and social person. I often times find myself having to painstakingly decline invites because our family is burnt out from going places and visiting friends. Maybe if I were more of an introvert, this question might cause a little alarm but it does not.

I truly do believe that our children are a gift from God, and we are entrusted with the privilege of raising and stewarding over them. It is my deep conviction, that homeschooling is the method in which I am being called to do fulfill my duty and God given responsibility as their mother.

I’ll end my first blog post with this exert from Charlotte Masons’s “Home Education Series”, I hope it may encourage and even inspire you to consider home educating your child.

Mothers owe ‘a thinking love’ to their Children. “The mother is qualified,” says Pestalozzi, “and qualified by the Creator Himself, to become the principal agent in the development of her child;…and what is demanded of her is- a thinking love…God has given to thy child all the faculties of our nature, but the grand point remains undecided- how shall this heart, this head, these hands, be employed? to whose service shall they be dedicated? A question the answer to which involves futurity of happiness or misery to a life so dear to thee. Maternal love is the first agent in education.” 

We are waking up to our duties, and in proportion as mothers become more highly educated and efficient, they doubtless feel the more strongly that the education of their children during the first six years of life is an undertaking hardly to be entrusted to any hands but their own. and they will take it up as their profession- that is, with the diligence, regularity, and punctuality which men bestow on their professional labours.

That the mother may know what she is about, may come thoroughly furnished to her work, she should have something more than a hearsay acquaintance with the theory of education, and with those conditions of the child’s nature upon which theory rests.                                       Charlotte M. Mason, Home Education, Vol. 1  pgs. 2&3