Tag Archives: Reading

Present Over Perfect :: The Year of Read

20170512_142819I’ve read everything by Shauna Niequist except her devotional “Savor,” and only because I’ve been busy doing other Bible studies. I learned long ago that while I would enjoy doing multiple studies at once, it simply just isn’t possible to dedicate the amount of devotion necessary to more than one.

The desire to study, learn, grow, push on is a good starting point for revealing how this book Present Over Perfect* has effected me.

Before this book, I would have never considered myself a workaholic. I don’t nearly have the amount of demands or deadlines that an author like Shauna does. I never thought of the verb “hustle” when thinking about the activities of my daily life. But what’s interesting to me is that I read this book back in February when I wasn’t trying to run a business in addition to home educating and keeping a home. Now that I am trying to add one more thing onto my plate, I can quickly and easily identify myself with her.

But I don’t think you have to be a working mother – at home or outside the home – to value what Shauna has to offer in the pages of this book.

I wrote back in February:

I learned things about myself that I never admitted before. Like Shauna, I did not honor my body or soul – I pushed to tackle someone else’s list, some expert’s method, some guru’s diet, and I believed that on the other side of all that pushing I would receive affirmation, security, and comfort in my own skin. I would frantically try to ride a seesaw alone. One side I would push with all my work, work, working to achieve someone else’s ideals. On the other side, I would plop my tired tush down in self-justified huff because the idol of work often comes with a twin – the idol of ease. I worshiped this idol with thoughts like “this shouldn’t be so hard,” “there has to be more short cuts to this,” I deserve a break,” and “since I meet everyone else’s needs, ________ is what will meet my needs…”

Having this dual idol confronted within these pages was a difficult but freeing experience. As I read, I related to Shauna. She isn’t trying to be a theologian. There isn’t a dogmatic 3-step guide for eliminating this idol from your life. She doesn’t point her finger out of the book and wag it at the reader.

She writes her story and invites you to reflect – no altar call, no burden of guilt, no message of superiority, no “I’ve got it all figured out now, and so should you.”

She stays human throughout every page.

I pulled out a number of quotes that resonated with my soul, and I hope that in sharing them you will be blessed by the reminder to be present in your right now life.

“I’ve always trusted things outside myself, believing that my own voice couldn’t be trusted, that my own preferences and desires would lead me astray, that it was far wiser and safer to listen to other people – other voices, the voices of the crowd.” – page 27

“It seems to me that Christians, even more than anyone else, ought to be deeply grounded, living a courageous rhythm of rest, prayer, service, and work. That rhythm is biblical, and it’s one that Jesus himself modeled. It seems to me that Christians ought to be free in meaningful and radical ways to bow out of culture’s insistence on proving and competing. Again, like Jesus. It seems to me that Christians ought to care more deeply about their souls than their bank accounts and pant sizes. But I am a Christian, and I am guilty of all these.” page 84

“It’s very hard to be loved and connected to the people in your home when you’re always bringing them your most exhausted self and resenting the fact that the scraps you’re giving them aren’t cutting it.” page 109

“There is a way of living that is so sweet, so full, so whole and beautiful you’ll never want to go back once you’ve tasted it.” page 161

“This is what our culture wants women to be: skinny and tired, from relentlessly shrinking and hustling. To be clear, I have nothing against people who are really skinny, whether that’s just how God made their bodies or because fitness and nutrition are central parts of their lives. You do you, skinny people. But I’m going to do me, and me is not skinny.” page 186

I think I might be pushing the limit on how many sentences I can quote without permission, so I better stop!

For me, the most important part of reading this book is living in the reality that my past operation – feeding the idol seesaw with more, more, more efforts – has to completely stop. I can’t close the cover of Shauna’s story and think – well that was nice for her, I hope some day I’ll be able to understand this in my own life.

In my life, reading Shauna’s story is a right now confrontation. It calls, tenderly, for a right now change. A right now stillness. A right now reflection. A right now filling because the “Present” part mean so much more than simply counting my attendance in life.

Present to me means: Spiritually awake, submissive to God’s sovereignty in the right now, open and surrendered in active prayer, conscious of the state of my soul, and patient and prayerful while stewarding my schedule – allowing for both work and rest, and learning the dance of being still within even while there is chaos around me.

Thank you, Shauna Niequest for sharing your story. Thank you for sharing your wrestlings and wonderings – the Spirit used them in my life to help me connect and correct.

I hope you are reading something that is feeding your soul! If you are – tell me about it in the comments! And check out what else I’ve been reading by clicking here.

*Afflink

Tips for reading more books.

Tips for reading more books 1

I fall somewhere in the middle. The gray area between those who never read and those who can finish multiple books per week. There aren’t very many people I know who carry this middle ground mantle and boast I read 1 book this month! Because it seems to pale in comparison to all the avid readers who can finish double digits in books.

Who decided that reading was a competitive sport? Because the last time I checked reading was useful for so many things – education, entertainment, instruction, personal growth, devotion, etc. – and the reasons for reading even more numerous. So, why is it that I compare what I’m reading to what you’re reading?

I was in the I-don’t-read-much camp for a long time, especially after giving birth to my second child, and I wasn’t sure how to get out of that camp. It felt like I had to find a way to be catapulted into the other camp of avid readers in order to be a respectable reader.

Instead, I simply decided to trade competing with other readers for competing with myself. I set personal goals for how many books and what types I wanted to read each month, and I wrote about the whole journey on my first blog.

If you’re feeling stuck in the not-reading camp or if you’re with me in the gray area, then let me share a few tips that I’ve learned that help me read and finish more books.

Tips for reading more books 2

Physical books. It isn’t failure to not finish a book. I had to learn this delicate balance from practice. Sometimes finishing a book is a matter of personal discipline – I just need to do it. And other times finishing a book just isn’t sensible. I’m committed to staying in the gray area on this issue – only finishing the books I feel are wholly beneficial and helpful on my journey to personal growth, and accepting that some books will be best useful to be as references. These books I posted to Instagram are examples of references. I pick and choose the passages I want to read, gain an overall view of the topic, and glean the information that is most interesting to me without feeling guilty for not reading the book cover to cover. 

Try a Kindle sample.  Book recommendations are everywhere, with new books being published every day. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when deciding what to read, what to borrow, and what to buy. Always start by reading the first few pages of the book before buying or borrowing. You’ll save both time and money.

If the book is one you want to finish (I personally prefer to read from a physical book) then I acquire the book by buying it digitally or borrowing it from the library. Since I already started the book and usually Kindle will allow you to read a full chapter (or 2), being able to flip past several physical pages helps me to majorly boost my momentum.

Starting with a Kindle sample helps me hugely by determining if a book is going to be worth my time before I’m committed to buying or borrowing it. It takes the compulsion out of wanting to jump on the band wagon with someone who is recommending their current favorite book. I know I can try it and see for myself before making any decisions. It also eliminates a huge amount of guilt for lack of finishing, because trying a digital sample doesn’t add clutter to my home either by purchasing or borrowing. I don’t have to make shelf space or return an unread stack of books to the library (again).

Try listening to an audiobook; it is still 100% a real book. Listening to a portion of or a whole unabridged book counts. When learning is the goal, then listening to a book is a great way to “read” more books. 

***Side note on listening: learning to listen well is becoming a lost skill. I am deeply enjoying learning from Andrew Pudewa director for the Institute in Excellence in Writing and his views on teaching listening skills. Audiobooks are a wonderful and untapped powerful resource for equipping the next generation. Check out this old podcast from The Read Aloud Revival with Mr. Pudewa and listen to how explains the power of listening to books for kids of all ages. We need to empower children to read, listen, and think if we want to see change in the world around us.

There are some books that are just best as an audiobook. Like, Little House in the Big Woods. We read this out loud to our kids when they were much littler and it felt like punishment – both for us and them. The details of tools and procedures were so descriptive that we didn’t have any working knowledge of, and often we got lost in the language. But as an audiobook, it’s much better. And some people (kids and adults alike) learn best through listening. Consider incorporating audiobooks into your family culture as a regular thing. I, personally, like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts while working in the kitchen. It helps me feel like I’m not chained against my will to the sink. 

Emily Freeman just wrote in her October post that she listens best to non-fiction because she loses the details in fiction and wants to rewind and review too much. But I listen best to fiction because I feel like I lose details of non-fiction. The point I’m trying to make by comparing listening preferences is to start trying different ways of engaging with books to see what works best for you. It’s important to find a method that does these 3 things – builds momentum to finish and to start again, encourages personal educational growth, and promotes ownership and confidence in the reading process. 

It doesn’t matter if you read 10 books per year or 10,000 books per year, what matters is that you are reading. Keep trying, find what works for you, and build your family culture around books (thank Sarah McKenzie for that phrase and check out her amazing podcasts).

There are options for finding audio and digital books:

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 6.50.17 AM

Audible by Amazon: This is a subscription service that offers a free trial and 2 free books. There are incentives to continue the service with book credits and more freebies as you continue your subscription. If you are highly interested in the latest titles published, then this would be the best route for you.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 6.49.40 AM

The other option is your library. The library in my area has been developing for years their digital library by using services like Hoopla

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 6.51.48 AM

Also, the library has eBooks for borrowing. They will sync to any device (computer, tablet, smartphone) over WiFi and when the borrowing due date arrives the content magically disappears. The book face will still appear in your app, but when you click to see the content it will tell you that the book lending has ended.

I have built my Kindle library significantly through the posts by The Money Saving Mom and the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s free and great-deal Kindle books lists.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 7.23.11 AM

Almost daily Crystal will post eBooks that are currently free on Amazon.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 7.27.18 AM

Anne updates her list of great Kindle deals. These books aren’t free, but they are hand picked books that are significantly discounted. 

The Free Kindle App: Anyone can use the Kindle App with or without a tablet, smartphone, or Kindle. Whatever you are reading this post on can be transformed into a Kindle by using the app. You will need the app to read books for free either from Amazon or the library. Download the free app by clicking here

Check out this free book for Kindle: How Audiobooks Make You Smarter: 7 Little Known Ways Audio Books Can Boost Memory Capacity And Increase Intelligence 

Do you have a reading hack that I haven’t mentioned here? I’d love for you to share it with me. As always, thanks for reading. Check out the links in this post – the underlined ones are affiliate links – thanks for your support of this site. For more information on how this site uses affiliate links click here and for more free content delivered to your email click here.

Until Next Year September: What I learned & What I’m Into

What I'm Learning and Into September 1

Why record what I’ve learned and what I’ve been into?

Record to remember, 

remember to recall, 

recall to recover, 

recover to move on from there, 

move on from there to grow, 

grow to live, 

live to know what it means to be alive, 

know what it means to be alive to breathe gratitude, 

and breathe gratitude to get a taste of heaven.

What have I learned in September? Well, right off the bat let me tell you that September was amazing. I realized that it is my favorite month of the year! I never considered myself a “favorite season” type of person where all the passion for life flows wild at one point on the calendar, until this year. I am so excited to bottle up all the goodness from summer, and I am looking forward to all the blessings fall and winter will hold too.

So here are a few of the things I bottled from September (What I Learned – Emily style, and What I’m Into – Leigh style, all mixed together):

1. Relationships with my little people.

I’m soaking up every moment of their littleness. Often I fear what my children will face when they are older. How will they handle the harsh realities of this world? My brain goes into flight when I even give it an inch to imagine the possibilities. I’m learning that the best way to train them for the future, to guard their hearts and minds, to build a solid foundation of integrity, character, and values is to enter into the moment they are in and process it with them. I don’t want to tell my kids what to think – I mean, don’t get me wrong – I do want it to be that easy. I wish I could just tell them what to think, and save them from the years of trouble from wrong thinking. But that wouldn’t be living, and it wouldn’t be honoring them as people nor their childhood as a process. I want to be a mother who can see a moment, enter it quietly without an agenda to change it, and learn my child before teaching anything. I’m learning that my children accept me and embrace what I have to show them so much more freely when I am shoulder to shoulder with them.

2. Living Proof Live

Goals after LPL September

Beth Moore is like a Pumpkin Spice Latte to me. I don’t get to enjoy listening to her all throughout the year, but when it’s time I savor every single word. Audacious has been a word confronting me and reminding me of all that I learned as I move forward.

3. Revive15: Women Teaching Women

I attended the Revive15 Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana put on by Revive Our Hearts, and it was such a rich time of learning to write, to listen, to teach, and to savor the Word. Jen Wilkin shared a word about the danger treating my devotional life like a debit card that I swipe to get what I want right then and there. She said that the true life in the Word is to make deposits into a savings account – everyday, little by little, the investment grows into a rich life in the Spirit as I meditate on the Word.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss taught on what it means to have the Spirit’s anointing and the importance of waiting on the Lord to teach me before teaching His Word to others.

And Dr. Eric Mason. He taught from Psalm 51, the importance of ongoing repentance. It was a power-filled conference. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend and receive a word from the Lord.

4. Piano Guys

What I Learned and What I'm Into September 3

We super love music in this house, but no one loves it more than my littlest man. I’m so head over heels for his air-cello-playing and dancing that it doesn’t matter that we are listening to the same CD on repeat for the 4th time.

5. Reading

I finally got to the point where I was completely fed up with junk-food-books. Like, they make me upset. I don’t want them near me, in my house, or in my child’s hands. I made up an action plan and we have been working the plan. I’m happy to say that it has drastically changed our library experience for the better.

What I'm Learning and What I'm Into September 4

Plus, I finally brainstormed a better incentive program for my children. Previously, when my daughter was first learning to read longer texts, she wanted to jump right into chapter books, which we encouraged. We told her that if she could read an entire chapter book then we would pay her a small token amount. But sometime between then and now, we lost track of how many books she was reading and she just kept on happily reading for the fun of it. Win/win. Except she was just reading junk-food-books. So now my challenge is to encourage her to read the books I pick out for her, which is why I needed a new incentive.

Raffle tickets.

I’m going to give my kids raffle tickets for each book they read that is assigned to them. Then once a week we will have drawings for different prizes. I’m still working out the kinks on this system, but I’m looking forward to see the momentum build from the amount of quality going into their minds.

6. Unit Studies and Lapbooks

So, I’m using Five in a Row (FIAR) Vol. 4 this year with my 2nd and 3rd graders. What is a unit study? I’ll be explaining and expounding on the subject soon for the Educational Theories Defined series. (I haven’t abandoned that train.) The cool thing for September has been that each week the book I chose lined up exactly with the weather and the calendar. How neat is that? I’m so thankful that I took the extra time to go through the whole list of books and wrote down the title in a seasonal category because I never would have used the instructor’s guide out of order if I had not seen another blogger recommend writing out the titles per month.

Studying Roxaboxen during the first week of fall was a blessing. The sweetness of the story in the changing seasons and growing old of the children – seeing how time passes and changes us was so tender and practical. For science we studied seasons and time and celebrated the first day of fall; it was as if the story gave them handles on this thing called life and they could examine it closely with the tools they had.

What I'm Learning and Into September 2

This was another way for me to stay in the moment with them too.

7. Power naps

Did you see the time on my alarm from this picture? Right. I’ve been very close to getting up everyday this week at the earlier time, and it is so worth it. To be able to finish the whole day just as strong as the beginning, I’ve learned, that I need to take a 10-20 minute power nap. As soon as my youngest nods off for his nap, and the older kids are happily engaged in quiet time I announce to them that I’m laying down, I tell them for how long, and I let them know that they can come and get me if they need me. Once I’m in bed, I set an alarm. I’m the type of person that will lay awake in panic thinking what if I fall asleep and don’t wake up on time and then dinner won’t be ready. Yeah, I need an alarm for my sanity. Then when I start to remember to-dos, projects, ideas, or whatever – I push them out of my mind and tell myself that for just this short amount of time I’m not allowed to think about anything. I usually doze off, and wake up a few minutes later very refreshed! Sometimes I reheat a half of a cup of coffee from the morning and then I’m super. And going to bed at 9:30pm is also key to this rhythm.

Books from September:

And many, more but these are the ones that we have parked on for days.

What did you learn in September?

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

#Back2School in #31Days: Day 11 – Planning: Curricula

Have you ever spent a lot of time with someone but looking back on that time it feels like you were with them but not engaged with them?

There’s a big difference.

That’s how I felt about being with my children this past year.

In some ways we had an average year with learning. We finished some of our subjects and totally changed course with others.

We clocked a lot of learning time in our calendars.

But in other ways, our year was unique and came with different challenges.

Before beginning anything new, I like to take a full-stop and think everything through, which is why we are committed to attending the Great Homeschool Convention every year. (This is an affiliate link, but I promise with how much I recommend them – they are not sponsoring me. I’m just eager for free.)

Each year, I’m corrected in my thinking as a woman, wife, parent, teacher, writer, friend – all of it. The sessions always seem to untangle the connections and allows me to understand where each of my roles fit.

I’m coming to anticipate a major shift in my thinking and researching of resources and curricula. It’s stretching for me to trust that God will guide us to the right sessions, booths, and materials for teaching and training our children.

It’s been a huge blessing to trust and commit to the way He shows us. We have made the decision for what we will learn in the fall by April – 3 years in a row now. I have really loved being able to go over the materials during the summer at my leisure – then by August each year I feel not only decided but prepared.

Back2School Logo

So far in the #Back2School journey, we’ve covered the why, envisioning the flow, using Pinterest with caution, creating a book nook, staying in the present while preparing for the future, decluttering before you begin, defining a family culture, and discerning the big picture.

Now for a little more nitty gritty on what we’ve decided to try this year.

I wrote about what I thought we were going to use in the takeaway post from the convention, but we (my husband and I) ended up feeling deeply drawn to reading together as a family. At one point in the exhibit hall, my husband said “I just feel like we need to just read lots and lots of good books together.”

Yes. That.

Let’s read lots and lots of books together.

All you need for a good education is a comfortable couch and a library card. – Steve Lambert of Five in a Row

I wasn’t sure about Steve Lambert’s session – Become Your Child’s Favorite Teacher – for the first 15 minutes. I mean, he was interesting and very funny – his jokes made me laugh out loud and when I repeated one to my husband later, I laughed until I cried.  But I was looking for an “aha!” moment and it never came.

What I did walk away with was a conviction. He emphasized again and again the importance of reading aloud to your children. For me, reading aloud is the easiest thing to put off for later. It’s easier to say, “Go work on a page in your math book” than it is to stop what I’m doing to sit and read together.

By the end of the convention, I knew Steve Lambert had been the most inspiring and helpful speaker for me – and before the convention Five in a Row wasn’t even on my list of curricula to look at.

B2S Day 11 Planning Curricula 3

Long story short, we went with Five in a Row Volume 4 for ages 7-8, which isn’t a well known volume. It comes with the Five in a Row Christian Character and Bible Study content, cookbook, and laminated story disks for a map.

We are really excited to see how unit studies will enhance our home, especially in the 4-corners of our home school puzzle.

The books in the unit study are primarily picture books and at first my 8-year old was apprehensive – and I was too to be perfectly honest. I have leaned on the side of hurrying my eldest to strive for the next levels, the harder challenges, and the deeper materials. So to see “easy” content feels beneath her. But as I was taught in the session “You CAN do unit studies” by Steve Lambert, anyone at any age can do a unit study at their level from great children’s literature. (I wrote an example of how he applied Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel for 4 different age levels in this post.)

Five in a Row unit studies cover all the major subjects: social studies, geography, language arts, art, math, and science – plus Bible and home economics!

B2S Day 11 Planning Curricula 4

We are really looking forward to the relationship building on the foundation of books, the reading – all of us will take turns reading through these stories, the real discussions that will take place as we dig into these rich stories, and the rest from the busyness of trying to build an education from textbooks and worksheets.

B2S Day 11 Planning Curricula 2

In addition to the unit studies, we chose to add a separate history curriculum. Rea Berg of Beautiful Feet Books was also speaking at the convention and I was able to attend two of her sessions. My husband is deeply interested in history and the books included in this Early American History: A Literature Approach for Primary Grades are excellent. For us, it wasn’t a decision from wanting to do more packaged curricula but rather a decision to surround our children with more quality books to choose from in our library.

Many of the books in this package are hard to find on their own. We felt like it was a worthy investment.

B2S Day 11 Planning Curricula 1

We plan to try using lapbooks to enhance the units of Five in a Row. We bought Heidi St. John’s eBook Lapbooking Made Simple to help encourage the set up and follow through of this method of learning.

What is a lapbook?

It isn’t a curriculum. It is a method. It’s like taking a large Science Fair poster board and shrinking it to fit in the child’s lap. You use manila file folders – open it flat, then fold both sides to the middle spine – and that’s it. You now have your lapbook ready for pasting any number of things into the folder on the topic of choice.

So that’s it. This next year is going to be another adventure for all of us in learning together. I plan on sprinkling posts about how things are going with these resources this year – more for accountability on my part to keep going than for your benefit – but I do hope seeing a snapshot of our planning helps inspire you to engage in your learning journey along with us. Let me know if you would like that in the comments or ask anything you’d like about what I’ve shared in this post!

This is part 3 in the Curricula: What We Use series. Click the link to read Part 1: Preschool and Kindergarten or Part 2: 1st and 2nd grades.

And it is also Day 11 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

2016-HOMESCHOOL-CONVENTION-DATES

728x90

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.