Sunday, September 22, 2013

I've Moved!

Please take notice that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new website!  Come check out the new site; can't wait to see ya'll there!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Classical Christian Education Explained Simply

Our entire homeschool experience has been laced with pregnancies, new babies, and even a broken foot for ten weeks.  Keeping our schooling simple has been my primary focus over the years.  If you know my story, you know that I wasn't all that crazy about homeschooling, which you can read about here.  In order to execute this wonderful model of simplicity, I use Classical Conversations. 

What follows is my collaboration of what I’ve learned & how I understand the Classical Christian Model of Education.  It’s not perfect, and I’m still learning.  But, I've enjoyed learning it, and implementing it in our home.

 Classical Education is a specific method of educating your child.

1.       Classical Education puts more emphasis on how to learn rather than what to learn.  Using this method, you are doing more than just providing information for the student.  You are practicing a method that can be applied to anything needing to be learned in life: riding a bike, driving a car, cooking a meal, mechanics, becoming a doctor, etc…  This method does not have to be confined within the boundaries of academics.  However, you can use academics to teach your child how to develop the skill of learning, so that in adulthood your child can apply this method effortlessly (without even thinking about it) to all aspects of his or her life. 

2.       What’s the method?  The method is very simple, yet might need explanation.  There are three steps:

a.       Gather your information.  This is also called the grammar stage.  This is when you gather, and store facts.  But you don’t want to just pick up some facts here and there.  You want to be able to retain your facts.  This first step uses the tool of memorizing to pound in the facts for long term use.  You work on memorizing facts, and then review these facts so that years down the road the facts are still there ready to be used.  This process takes time—expect the child to forget, and have to be reminded; that’s part of the process.  This stage does not focus on understanding because it’s not always necessary.  Although, it’s not forbidden either!  Children like to explore their facts, and what’s the fun in learning if you can’t play with your information?  However, a child can (and should) still memorize facts even if he doesn’t know what it means.  That can come later.  Remember, we’re not spending just today learning.  We’re spending a lifetime of learning, and we get to spend many years focusing on academics with our children.  So, this stage is simply memorizing facts; and in general hits preschool-elementary years. 

b.      Dialogue about and explore your information.  This is also called the dialectic stage.  This is a time of wrestling with ideas pertaining to the information.  This is a time of questions, answers, and making connections between one topic and another.  An understanding of the information is beginning to solidify in the child’s brain during this time period.  During this time period you’ll see the importance of having your facts memorized.  If you can’t remember when, where, or what happened in history, how can you discuss its effects on science or mathematics or language development?  Know your facts!  It’s very important!  The memorizing is just as important as the understanding.  You want the understanding to last a long time, a lifetime even.  So having the facts there, ready to be used, makes this stage easier and more fun!  So this stage is an understanding stage; and generally hits the later elementary, middle, and early high school years.

c.       Make the application, and give it to others.  This is also called the rhetoric stage.  It’s tempting to say this is the time when you apply your information.  It’s true, but simply applying the information stops short of the beauty of the rhetoric stage.  The rhetoric stage is when you’re able to see the big picture of the information well enough to break it down for others.  You’re now able to teach the information back to someone else.  This is the beauty of the classical model; because at this stage you can now develop your own thoughts on the information as well as walk someone else through their own thought process of the information.  So, this stage is applying & giving it away; and generally hits the later high school extending into adulthood.

3.       The Classical Christian Model puts God as the focus of education, and integrates the subject matter.  God reveals himself to us through all subject matter: science impacts math, which impacts history, which impacts English and so forth.  As we learn more about the subject matter we discover an important aspect—it all points back to God!  Proverbs 8:17 “…and those who seek me find me.”  God is ready, and willing to reveal himself to us.  The question is, are you willing to seek him?

4.       Classical Education is “big picture” focused.  I like to think of it as a puzzle.  In gathering information we are handing out puzzle pieces to our children.  But in memorizing the information we’re ensuring our children can hold on to the pieces for later use; we don’t want them to drop the pieces.  For if they drop the pieces, they can’t put the puzzle together.  In dialoging, and exploring your information they are beginning to put the pieces together.  Different parts of the puzzle are being put together at different times.  At this stage children will get glimpses of the big picture.  Applying, and giving the information away, is the point where the puzzle is completed.  A child can look at the completed puzzle, ooooh and ahhhh over the completed puzzle, explain the aspects of the puzzle, and then take the puzzle apart and assist someone else in how to put the puzzle together. 

5.       Often times I’ve heard, and experienced, that these different stages overlap.  So, even if your child is in the grammar stage, he will try and play with the dialectic stage.  Or there may be times in the rhetoric stage you find your child is lacking in knowing his facts.  So, you may decide, let’s go back and work on the facts again so that we can reason through this easier.  The age ranges aren’t necessarily concrete, just a guide.

6.       You can use this same method of learning right now with anything you wish to learn!  Whether it is to further your own academic development, or learning a new skill.  This method applies and is a very useful tool.

Once again, after spending several years learning, and experimenting with this method, this is the best way I have come up with to explain Classical Christian Education.  As you can see in some areas I added the term "Christian" and other times I did not.  This is simply because you can use the Classical Model without God, but you do need to ask yourself, "what is the focus of our education?" 
I hope this has helped you have a clearer understanding of the Classical Model.  I love using this method, I can see the benefits of it, and I can also see how anyone can apply it to their lives.  And it has helped me keep my focus of school, as well as obtaining efficiency in my homeschool.

Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Adventures in Potty Training Part 1: Potty What?

Well, since this is my 4th go-round of potty training I figure I should have this one in the bag, right? 

So...last July, I decided to take the plunge with my then, almost 3 year old.  So, I gathered my supplies...

Training Pants.....................check!

Motivating rewards.................check! 
(Junk food goes a long way in our house.)

Toddler ready to use the potty..................check!
Cleaning supplies..................check!
Well, off we went!  I've done this before; this shouldn't be too hard!

In all actuality, I was putting it off as long as I could for one reason, and one reason only...I hate potty training!

Even though three of my five children are potty trained, I really have no idea how I did it.  Probably because I didn't do it.  It was my children who finally decided to use the potty.  Eventually they decided it was worth it.  So, how do I get my child to decide it's worth it? 

I can tell you, I've tried many things.  I've tried potty training in a day/weekend, I've tried training pants, regular underwear, waiting till they were almost 4, I've tried treats, prizes, snacks, charts, I've tried, I've tried, I've tried...

You get the point.  It's been a few months, and do you know what?  Just like all the other children, we're still cleaning up accidents...daily.

I'm tired of pee on the floor, tired of trying to keep the baby out of the pee on the floor, tired of discovering pee stained pants tucked away in a cabinet (so that's where the smell was coming from), and I'm mostly tired of the books claiming to have the secret to potty training.  I don't think there is a secret...just survival.

Back to the drawing board we go, and I'm testing out a different approach.  I value my child learning the skill of taking herself to the potty, without mommy's suggestion.  After all, if I'm constantly telling her when to go potty, who's really being trained?  However, I may have to re-adjust my philosophy. 

My new idea?  Requiring her to use the potty before designated events of the day (such as meal time.)  We already implement this for nap time, so I'm just adding in meal time.  My hope is that these events will remind her to go on her own.  But I'm not telling her to go potty, just reminding her what she needs to do before eating....right?

I'll keep you updated on how this works, but until then...potty on my friends, potty on.


Do you make adjustments in your potty training theories, or do you stick with the same method every time?
Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How to do Babies and Bible Study

Since adding children to our family, I have consistently struggled with carving time out during the day to spend with God.  There are some concepts that I now implement that help me, and I'd like to share them with you.  These ideas are simply what I've come up with over the past 8 years as I've struggled in this area. 

In no order of importance...

1.  Take captive every opportunity.  For a long time I thought that my growth in the Lord was tied to how many mornings I spent studying the word.  And even though I still see that there is value in that kind of consistency, I discovered that I can still grow in the Lord when I don't have consistent Bible study every morning.  As babies were added to the family, that meant more sleepless nights for mommy, and less ability to wake early enough to get in a personal Bible study.  God knew about my circumstances, and the time I had available.  As I sought him on the issue, he made it clear to me that he placed me in this position of raising these children; he's well aware of my circumstances.  He reassured me that he will provide opportunities during the day for refreshment from him.

Sometimes it only came in 5 minute spurts over the course of the day.  But they came, and I could utilize those spurts as time with him.  These are the times I spent more in prayer than personal study.  But there were moments when I had more time available to me, so personal study was practical.  And I have to say, there were many nights spent in prayer while nursing my babies.  I would also tuck away a small devotional next to the nursing chair, so that I could have some time with the Lord while feeding my baby.  I even placed a devotional in the bathroom.  This worked well after my third child was born, but has been more difficult to implement since.  So, instead of checking facebook when everyone is quiet (I'm guilty of that), I spend these few minutes with him.

2.  If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  Don't give up personal study just because you can't keep it up consistently.  I discovered that giving up on personal study time really did me no good.  I even used to complain, "But I'm so tired that when I open my Bible, I fall asleep!"  It seemed pointless to me to even try to read the Word, let alone study it, if all I did was fall asleep.  However, a good friend pointed out that this was God's gift to me...sleep.  In my effort to seek him, he gave me rest.  And if I'm implementing the first point, I will have an opportunity later in the day to seek him out.  Regardless of what's going on, if you're falling asleep, or miss a few days of study, just get back into it, and keep on going.  You will find blessing in this.

3.  Read the Bible with your children.  Years ago, a friend pointed out to me that in my effort to teach my children the Word, God is also using that time to build into me.  God is very good at multi-tasking and being efficient.  He is capable of teaching me and my children at the same time, during the same lesson!  So, as I read the Bible with my children, it can turn into a study time for me as well.  This is fun, because there have been a few "aha" moments for me personally, and I get to share these with my children.  They get to see, first hand, mommy experiencing God's goodness and getting excited about his word.  This doesn't happen every time, but when it does, it's really cool!

4.  Growing in the Lord doesn't have to be formal.  Personal study, and growth in the Lord, doesn't always have to involve a notebook, and various study books.  There is definitely a time and place for that, but it's happening less as more children are added to the family.  So, just because I don't have the quiet place with a notebook, doesn't mean I can't grow or study his word; it'll just look different for a time.

5.  Attend a Bible study.  "But I can't keep up with a Bible study, I never do!  And didn't you just say that it doesn't have to be formal?"  Don't worry!  I don't think I've ever completed a Bible study, but I showed up anyway.  Why?  Because God still used those women to encourage me, support me, and send me back to him.  Showing up at a Bible study, even uncompleted, gave me the opportunity to let God use those women in my life.  He still chose to speak to me, even though the study wasn't "done."  We can do the formal part of study if we want to, but we're not obligated to formal study.  Being at a Bible study with other Godly women is just as important as doing the study.

This one is huge.  Yes, the other ones are important too, but I'm convinced God designed us for relationships.  The support, and impact I've received from Godly women that I met with regularly, has encouraged me to just keep seeking him.  There is something special that happens when a group of people seeking the Lord come together to share life with each other.  This is where I receive the most encouragement, and it has helped me immensely.  And the best part?  I'm always encouraged or challenged to keep going back to the Lord, and to keep trying. 

6.  Consider the difficulties as blessings.  Ok, I know this is tough!  But I only say this because, it has been in the most overwhelming and difficult circumstances that I have cried out to the Lord.  And do you know what happened?  He showed up!  In his arrival, there was always some blessing that I needed.  Seek him out during these daily moments, let yourself need him, and let him show you what he wants you to see.  Many times, it wasn't what I expected.  But he never ceases to surprise me.  It's in those difficult moments that I've drawn the closest to him, and I see and hear him more clearly during those times.  Those difficulties, as much as I don't want difficulties, truly are blessings.  Only because of who he is, and what he is doing.

These are concepts that help me, but please know that I still struggle with this!  Life isn't perfect, and I wish I could say to you that implementing these thoughts has magically given me more consistent Bible study time.  But I'm still learning, and I'm sure I'll have other ideas as the years roll by.  My hope is that by sharing I will spark an idea or two, or inspire you to persevere in your walk with the Lord.


How about you?  What are things that help you continue your growth in the Lord when life is overwhelming?
Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Baked Sandwich

A friend talked me into sharing this recipe with you, and honestly I really don't know what it's called.  So at our house it's just called the baked sandwich, or sometimes we call it the giant hot pocket.  It's super easy, something the whole family enjoys, and easy to pair with soup or vegetables. 

  • Frozen bread dough (or you can make your own dough)
  • Meat and cheese of your choice
  • 1 egg
Well, lets get started...

About mid-day, take out the rolls to thaw and rise (loaves are easier to work with, but today I had rolls.)  Cover with plastic wrap, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to prevent drying.


Once the rolls have risen, usually by the end of the day, take them out and work out the air bubbles.  Shape it into a ball or rectangle and start rolling.


Aim to roll the dough into a large rectangle; then fill with the meat and cheese of your choice down the center of the dough.  If you're wanting to be super healthy, throw in some veggies as well.  Or you can make this a vegetarian dish.  Experiment with it, and have fun! 

Once it's filled slice the dough on both sides into strips.   

Once you have your strips, start from the top and fold a strip from one side to the other while alternating sides.  Basically you'll take the top strip from the right side, fold it over your filling to the left side, pinch it to the dough, and repeat the process but this time from the left to the right.  Pinch the ends closed, but I like to pinch all the openings closed.  You'll end up with a braided look.


In a bowl, mix one egg with a little bit of water.  Brush the egg wash on the top, sides, and ends of the sandwich.  This will give it a glossy sheen after it's baked. 

Pop that bad boy in the oven at 350  for 30 minutes, and your done! 


Give the sandwich a chance to cool a bit before slicing.  If you cut into it right away the juices will run all over.  I hope you enjoy this!


Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Mark of a Big Family

I've taken it upon myself to create a list of things that big families commonly experience.  This is an unscientific study, but my own personal observations.  If you can relate to most of these, congratulations you're probably a big family!  However, if you can relate to many of these items, but have an only child...I say just wave the white flag of surrender and have more children. 

1.  One package of the family car decals just isn't enough.

2.  One person's idea of stocking up is your idea of a week's worth of groceries.

3.  A full size van is luxurious.

4.  You either have, or have contemplated answering your phone with: "thank you for calling the funny farm"

5.  Your 6 year old can change a diaper, while your 4 year old makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, while you're having a conversation with your 8 year old about why it's important to lift the potty seat while he pees on in the potty.  (That's a whole 'nother post.)

6.  You're used to getting stared at when you go out.

7.  Strangers ask you strange questions about your personal life.

8.  You have a handful of witty comments for these strange questions.

9.  When you get together with other big families, you compare notes on who has gotten the strangest question.

10.  You can't remember your children's birthday's and may have gotten them confused on legal documents.

11.  You can't afford to have birthday parties at those fun places, because your children make up at least 1/2 the guest list included in the package.

12.  Other children will attach themselves to your entourage when you're out...and you don't notice.

13.  You have to count heads when you're out to make sure everyone is with you, and then ask yourself "wait, how many kids do I have again?"

14.  Going out with 2 kids is not that big of a deal...anymore.

15.  When people marvel at how many kids you have, you smile and think, "You have no idea what you're missing."

How about my fellow large families chime in, what are some other things that are common to large families?

Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address.

Monday, August 26, 2013

From Overwhelmed To Anxiety...What's A Mom To Do?

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

At the beginning of the school year last year, my baby was two months old.  Therefore, I knew that I would be schooling my kids on a flexible schedule.  I knew there would be interruptions, delays, and I knew that there would be some days with no school.  I knew that schedules would change…often; and that I needed to take advantage of schooling the children when things were going well.  This made our schooling more “spur of the moment” than I’d like.

Being the scheduled, structure-needy person that I am, this frightened me.  Just the thought of all that could happen in the day overwhelmed me.  As I was sharing this with my husband, he quoted Philippians 4:6-7 to me.  At first this annoyed me.  But as I thought about it, I discovered how much I needed that scripture.  What I thought was a feeling of being overwhelmed, was really anxiety.  So, let me tell you how God used this verse to transform the anxiety I faced when the events of the day unraveled. 

I posted this verse in the kitchen, and when the anxiety started, I spoke the verse…aloud.  At first, I could only make it out in a whisper.  With my heart pounding, sweat beading up, noises spinning, tears chocking in my throat, I whispered, “I renounce all anxiety and take hold of the peace of Jesus Christ to guard my heart and my mind.”  And then I gave thanks, as the verse leads us to do, and specifically stated what I wanted (present your requests.)  I wanted my baby to stop crying and go to sleep, I wanted my son to understand his math lesson, I wanted my daughter to stop asking the same question for the fiftieth time, and I wanted wisdom to know what to do.

I can’t tell you if the baby went to sleep, or if the lesson got done, because I don’t remember that.  But what I can tell you is that God provided.  He gave me the peace I so desperately needed for that moment.  I shed my tears to the Lord, made some decisions, and no one got yelled at.  Mommy was able to keep her cool, not because the circumstances had changed, but because God showed up.

I’m guessing there are Christians out there who can relate to me when I say that I know scripture and understand it to be a good thing; but often times I overlook the power of God’s word in my daily life.  Scripture gives examples of the spiritual influences around us that we can’t see with our eyes.  And it’s God’s word that has power over them.  Not my words, not my pastors’ words, God’s word.  I am doing myself a disservice when I don’t speak his word when I need it.

It’s so easy to be overwhelmed and succumb to the anxiety of a day gone wild.  Between family needs, schedules, activities, school, serving others, and don’t forget to cook dinner tonight!  Life gets chaotic.  I still have to use this verse on a daily basis.  Try it out yourself; speak this verse the next time anxiety rears its ugly head in your direction.  And if you don’t receive the peace soon after verbally claiming the scripture, do it again.  And again if necessary!  If the children are around, tell them why you’re reciting scripture, and invite them to pray with and for you.  Won’t it be wonderful if they get to see God moving in your life?  Life may be overwhelming for you, but you are not without hope.  We find our hope in Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death when he died on the cross and rose from death on the third day.  If he has the power to conquer sin and death, he has the power to conquer anxiety.  Go to him, keep going to him, and watch him show up and take over.

Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address.