What About Outside Classes?

”Mom, can I go to ‘real’ school?” I made it through 15 years of homeschooling and graduated two of my kids before I had to confront that dreaded question. And then it came. My extremely social fourteen-year-old practically begged me to put her in public school, private school, hybrid school, any school other than homeschool. How could I respond to that?

My first instinct was to ask myself what I’m doing wrong. Am I somehow short-changing my daughter, cheating her out of an important aspect of her education, her life? Next, I started asking like-minded moms about class options. Finally, almost as an aside, I prayed about it. Oops. I flipped that process upside down from what it should have been.

God is faithful to answer my prayers and direct me—even when, in my humanness, I forget to seek Him first. He showed me in no uncertain terms that I was to continue homeschooling my daughter this school year. I agreed to add just one outside class—I signed myself and the girls up for Community Bible Study. This gave her an opportunity to gather with other kids her age, participate in a kind of class, and delve deep into God’s Word. It was a great move, but was it enough?

Eight months after my daughter’s initial inquiry, she was still asking about “going to school.” Prayerfully, I explored various options. One evening, I gathered with some other homeschool moms at a local coffee shop to brainstorm possibilities and get advice.

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Review of Heirloom Audio - For the Temple

“Who wants to listen to another historical adventure from Heirloom Audio? This one’s called For the Temple. It’s about the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.”

Having read the Henty novel that the audio adventure is based upon, I knew the story pretty well. I had been hoping to find a version that would draw my children into the exciting narrative. I wanted to share with them the adventurous exploits of a young man named John, who led a small group of Jews in harassing the Roman army. Ultimately, John and his band joined with other Jews to defend the Temple against Roman attack.

Although some of our kids were less than enthusiastic, my husband and I were excited, recalling the Heirloom Audio adventure we had listened to last fall. With great anticipation, I downloaded and unzipped our digital copy.

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Journey to Israel - Qumran Caves & En Gedi

It was our final day in Israel, and we had planned to make the most of it. We rose that Sabbath morning, enjoyed a simple breakfast, and boarded a bus bound for Masada and the Dead Sea.

Before we reached our morning destination, we would drive past the famous Qumran Caves. We had no idea that a mini wildlife encounter was waiting for us at our unplanned En Gedi stopover.

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Fighting Curriculum Boredom with Sonlight

Fifteen years ago I purchased our first Sonlight curriculum package. Together, I snuggled cozily on the couch with my two kids to read picture books and novels together. I appreciated the literature-rich approach to learning, and my kids thrived on it. Within a couple years, though, we added three more children to our family. Crying babies interrupted otherwise fascinating read-alouds. When my youngest kids reached school-age, the thought of using multiple levels of Sonlight at the same time overwhelmed me. I abandoned the curriculum in favor of a more traditional approach.

While my youngest girls were studying American History using ACE PACEs a few years ago, a friend gifted me her used Sonlight American History curriculum. I was thrilled to supplement their PACEs with the amazing read-alouds. Although we all enjoyed the wonderful books, I was not ready to shift completely to Sonlight. After all, I was still homeschooling five children.

Last year, my second child graduated. With only three kids left at home, could we use Sonlight?

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Rebooting Writing

Halfway through my tenth-grader daughter’s fall semester, we made significant changes. We set aside the literature and social studies programs she had started the year with. Together, we chose an alternative—Sonlight’s 20th Century History and Literature curriculum. The variety of books in Sonlight’s program have provided a wonderful challenge and led to some great discussions. The most daunting aspect, though, has been the writing.

The Sonlight Student Guide outlines two or three writing assignments each week. When I realized how many hours my daughter spent staring at a blank computer screen, I knew it was time to intervene. I had failed to teach her the basics of writing. From prior experience, I knew that the curriculum which had empowered my son to write may not be the best option for her. What could I do?

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Journey to Israel & Homeschool History - St. Jerome

This year, the twins and I have been studying early church history using Mystery of History, Volume II. Six weeks into our school year we learned about St. Jerome’s translation of the Vulgate Bible. Jerome’s name sounded familiar. Didn’t I see something about him in Bethlehem?

The girls’ history lesson mentioned that Jerome had lived in Bethlehem for a time. He had stayed in a “cell-like cave” for many years. Wait, had I seen it?

A little online digging confirmed that I had caught a glimpse of it on our Israel trip. St. Jerome’s Cave lies beneath a courtyard at the Church of the Nativity.

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One Word for 2019

Twelve months ago, when I prayed about One Word for 2018, God gave me “Trust.” I learned so much last year about trusting God, family, and friends.

Last week, I started thinking about a new word for 2019. I wondered what God had in store for the new year.

While I was contemplating the idea, one of my twin daughters asked me a question. “Mom, when did you start to feel grown-up?”

Has your child ever asked you such a whopper of a question? Truth be told, I still don’t feel grown-up. Well, what am I waiting for? Maybe it’s time for me to grow up in 2019.

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Journey to Israel - Church of the Nativity

One night many years ago, angels surprised simple shepherds. They filled the night sky, proclaiming the news of Jesus’ birth.

“Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strains
Gloria in Excelsis Deo! Gloria in Excelsis Deo!””

After overcoming their awe at the angelic proclamation, the shepherds embarked on a mission. The scruffy, unkempt men headed into town. They were determined to greet the newborn Heavenly King, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

About six months ago, my husband and I made a similar journey. We traveled from the Shepherds’ Field into the city of Bethlehem to see where Jesus was born.

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Journey to Israel - Shepherds' Field

More than 2,000 years ago, wise men from the east traveled to Israel looking for a new king. For months they traversed the varied landscape, following a special star to the Holy Land. Upon their arrival, they went straight to King Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. After all, a palace is where a king, or even a prince, should live. But the new king was not there.

The chief priests and scribes searched their scrolls and found a prophecy about a great ruler who would be born in Bethlehem:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
(Micah 5:2)

With this new information, the wise men continued on their journey. They followed the star from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, in search of the new king.

On our own journey to Israel nearly six months ago, we traveled that last leg of the journey to Bethlehem, just as the wise men did so many years ago. Like the wise men, we wondered, “What will we find there?”

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