Anchored Voices is a collaborative blog founded by Chara Donahue where Christians can use their words and creativity to point each other to the God who cares. It was conceived to foster a hope-filled community where we can remind one another that when the waves of life hit—in Jesus, the soul is safe. You can read more from them at AnchoredVoices.com.
I found myself heavily contemplating less formal curriculum questions as I spent the last month of summer preparing for the start of our fourth year of home education with our four children. Many questions I had centered around the core concept of “Who are we in this home?” Also, “Who and what do we serve in this home? What characteristics do we need to learn about and strive towards this year?”
While I’ve piled high a collection of teaching tools for Math, Language Arts, Science, and Spanish, I’ve also piled along with the teaching tools for manners, etiquette, and most importantly, Godly characteristic traits. I’ve watched my children, particularly my two oldest, grow in their knowledge and understanding this past year of homeschool. I’ve watched them start to master different primary concepts, and I remember each time that I realized they had learned something new.
I cherish the memories of when my oldest started reading with fluidity, and when my middle son started using addition on his own accord. I couldn’t believe that they had learned it. I did not doubt their intelligence, but I felt I lacked as a sufficient teacher. Surely I didn’t do much in helping them actually learn something … did I?!
While I often feel they learned despite me, I know that it was my instruction and, more importantly, my example which taught my children these life skills. This realization was both awesome and terrifying as I then questioned, “What else are they learning from me just from my example?!”
With this realization, I knew I needed to place higher importance this school year on life skills of manners, etiquette, and Godly characteristic traits – just as much for myself as for them. If they are learning from what I am modeling, I’d better be something I’d want them to model after!
I started by asking my husband and myself what those things we hoped to teach and model to our children were; we had to determine the core values and traits for the six of us dwelling in our home. We needed to determine what it looked like to have a Christ-centered home, to have a home which served the Lord.
For our family, we’ve landed on these characteristics, based on several verses, to point our children to Jesus in our goal of living in a Christ-centered home:
Love: Firstly and most importantly, our family must be rooted in love. Love Jesus, love each other, and love others.
Kindness & Grace: Our family ought to speak, behave and think kindly and have grace with each other.
Honest & Faithful: Our family ought to be honest at all times and faithful with all things.
Servant-hearted: Our family ought to be servant-hearted toward family, friends, and strangers.
Obedient: Our family ought to be obedient quickly, without delay, to parents, and to the Lord.
Forgiveness: Our family ought to seek and extend forgiveness to all.
There are many Godly characteristics worth highlighting, but for our family and our home, these are the ones we have determined to focus on. I’ve printed and laminated a sheet of these characteristics and verses and now have it hanging on our command center in the heart of our homeschool room. I am starting this new school year eager to dive into these traits further, practice them more, and although sometimes painful, be held accountable to my own characteristics which I seek to model for the little disciples who dwell in our home.
Kayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with. Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop. She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family. Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength! She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot. You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.
Life is full of changes. We all know this, right? We have all experienced big and little changes in life, some people experience more drastic changes than others. As I write this, I am basking in the joy of my seventh wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband. Today we were recounting just a few of the changes that life has brought us in the past seven years. Four daughters, seven jobs between us, and four houses to name a few. If I am being completely honest however, I am not good at change.
I have learned over the past year how desperately I need routine to thrive. Maybe our four children have brought this upon me. I love life to be organized, orderly, and planned, and changes shake that for me. Some changes we can prepare for or even decide to make for ourselves. There are also changes that are thrust upon us by family or life circumstances that we do not get the comfort of anticipating. During these unanticipated changes are the times that I desperately need, though do not always desire, a change of heart to come alongside my circumstance.
Over the past year I really have learned to run straight to my Lord and Savior when the overwhelm of change rattles me. As I am daily being sanctified and maturing in the Christian faith, I am able to see God as bigger and more glorious than ever before, and myself as more lowly and dependant on Him than ever before. When the waves of life swell over us, we have a choice. In the good and the bad, we can choose to remain inflexible and stuck in old ways, or come to that beautifully humbling place on our knees begging for help. As Charles Spurgeon once put it, “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.”
I often first react in my old ways, not wanting to be inconvenienced or willing to roll with the tides of change. But quickly I find myself reminded that I simply cannot remain in that place, and that I must press in for a change of heart. Not a white-knuckle strong-willed type change of heart, but of asking God for a heart of flesh, not stone. I need a heart willing to become sanctified and gracious and more willing to accept the changes before me. I love these words from God to his people in Old Testament times,
“ And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
I praise God that He is faithful and able to provide abundantly to us, we need only to ask. He will not leave us in change alone. He will be our guide.
Britney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 4 girls, auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.
Lazy days of summer are quickly moving towards the inevitable first days of school. The countdown is on as the last “first day of high school” approaches for my daughter.
Like most mamas with a child ready to fly out into the world, this has me reeling. We all know the time goes too fast, but this day has come so quickly. I became a mom for the first time only five years ago. My daughter was 12 when she walked through our door, and in so many ways we are still figuring each other out.
Just like any other life transition, people are captivated by the “next step” questions. Everywhere we go, someone will ask, “What do you plan to do next year? Are you going to college? What do you want to do?” Even though I am well aware that few of the 17-year-olds eating popcorn on my couch have that figured out, I find myself mindlessly asking the same question.
So, to the brand new seniors, preparing to explore all the options, leaving the familiar behind, and desperate to find their path in life, my prayer for you this year is that you will be able to relax into your true identity rather than trying to mold your identity around some future vocation or goal.
If you remember these hard-learned truths they will help you along your way.
I can remember being so afraid of making the wrong decision, choosing the wrong college, choosing the wrong major, or dating the wrong guy. The list of choices to be made in your late teens and early twenties is endless. Somehow, I had gotten stuck in a fatalistic viewpoint that the oft-quoted Jer 29:11 meant that there was ONE plan and I had to figure it out. But when read in context of the whole Bible I noticed that sometimes God lets us wander a bit before providing the perfect next steps. I have been captivated by the story of the Israelites leaving slavery in Egypt through the miraculous provision of dry land at the bottom of the Red Sea as recorded in the book of Exodus.
” …God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near….But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea…” Exodus 13:17-18 (abbreviated)
Sometimes the “near” way, the way that “makes sense” is in opposition to the leading that comes from God. This is your chance to pray, test your choices by the word of God, and search out wise spiritual mentors. But know that it is ok to course correct. Whether you try a career that isn’t your favorite six months later, or you find yourself far off track, God never stops leading and loving his children.
The great lie you will fight in your college years is that your identity comes from what you do. We think of people by their roles. The Doctor. The Mechanic. The Mom. The Librarian.
You may be known for what you do vocationally. But more than that you will be known by whose you are. Jesus gives us the great freedom to be completely at rest, because we have nothing to prove. He already loves you enough to go to the cross for you. You don’t have to do anything or become someone important. You are already secure, loved, and important.
As you are making new friends, you will tend to drift into groups who are into the same things. But the most important parts of these relationships boil down to the fruits of the spirit being (Galatians 6) shown in your love (1 Corinthians 13). How you love a friend when they’ve had a bad day. If you are kind even when it is inconvenient.
Right now, you are the oldest students at your school. The best at what you do. For years your teachers have passed out awards for excellence in various fields. You are about the enter a world of billions of people. It can be hard to stop learning for the outside applause or the competitive edge rather than because learning and growing as a person is a constant journey.
So, just try lots of things. This is your chance to see if you come alive creating art, studying abroad, or managing people. Take a cooking class, self-defense, or a course in medieval literature. You don’t have to be good at something right away. There will be lots of things you try that will be a funny story someday and some you will love. Summer jobs you find could last just a few months, or you could find a new passion you never dreamed of.
Someone once told me that “God packs your bags.” Over and over I have realized that the surprising moments of clarity or purpose God brought me to was informed and equipped through the very things that seemed “random” earlier on. Good and bad experiences are somehow morphed as we see our lives through the lens of God’s purposes rather than our own.
“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 9:28
As you spend this next few years trying to answer the question “what do you do?” know that God has gifted you with seeds of talent and calling. You can choose to investigate and invest in these gifts. Years down the road, I can see the way that my friends have leaned into the way that God made them. One adores filing and organization. Another can handle blood and is not in the least grossed out or queasy while stitching up a wound. My Brother was born mechanical, he was picking locks with my bobby pins in elementary school because his brain just understands mechanical things. What I hear from many of them is that they never realized that the natural bents or inclinations they had were more than just a talent or an interest. Pay attention to the places you excel, where you are fascinated and want to know more.
No, it is not just your mom’s job to tell you are good at art, or science, or with people. Open your eyes, listen to what others see, and be aware of where you feel purpose.
Always know that no matter where you go, or what you do, you are incredibly loved. Not because of what you might be someday, what you plan to do, or the path you are on, but because God calls you his.
Holly Hawes is a wife of 7 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been a foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years and works part-time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption.
Images found at Pixabay