Hey friends. I have no idea how many people are still reading this blog---I've hardly written at all since Baby #4 was born!---but I wanted you to know that I've chosen to shut it down. I did so for several reasons:
-I’m obsessed with those three words from Jude 1. Called, beloved, and kept by God is who I am. My identity as wife and homeschool mom are temporary and secondary, but I will be called, beloved, and kept by God forever.
-I want my posts to be encouraging. In the past, I’ve enjoyed writing punchy articles confronting lies I believe feminism is telling women today, and I’ll probably still write about a little of that because lies are...bad?But I feel like it’s quite tone-deaf in our culture to focus on gender roles when even gender identity is an extremely sensitive topic. The good news that Jesus died and rose again to save sinners (and the bad news that we are all born sinners and damned for hell otherwise) is offensive enough.
-I want to start fresh with Wordpress (as opposed to Weebly) and take my blog more seriously. I’ll be honest, I hope to monetize it a little too. I’m not going to put ads everywhere or include affiliate links to garbage as many Mommy bloggers do, but for now I’ve included some amazon links and the very occasional ad just so I can maybe compensate for the site’s costs.
So please sign up for the emails (you can do that below); I'll be sending out a devotional on Mondays and a roundup of the week's posts on Thursdays.
Please like the Called Beloved Kept page on Facebook or follow the @called.beloved.kept Instagram and, most of all, visit the site, www.CalledBelovedKept.com! I hope it's encouraging to you!
Thanks you guys. I love you much. I feel so honored that you all have read my imperfect, sometimes overly-passionate or misguided, but heartfelt posts these past six years.
(I wanted to study a book of the Bible with a sweet friend next month, and she asked me which book we should do. After praying about it, I decided a great book for us would be one you've probably never seen a women's Bible study for: Leviticus. Leviticus is the book of the Bible that makes many resolved Bible-starters never become Bible-finishers. It's hard to read because it can feel boring, and it's hard to read because some of it feels wrong. But, the more I know Jesus and the more I study scripture, the more I learn to love this book. And reading Hebrews alongside it adds a lot of depth and richness (plus a break.)
The math actually works perfectly for a 31-day plan (with 1 day a week off for rest/catch up): alternate between two chapters of Leviticus one day and one chapter of Hebrews the next. We plan on meeting up twice throughout the month to discuss what we've learned and what's been challenging us.
Would you like to join? October works out perfectly for this plan because the 1st is actually on a Monday! Here's the PDF (or click on the image) of the Bible reading plan along with the following tips:
Feel Invited by the Spirit
Here is all I ask: do the reading, and write down one thing you learned, like, or had a question about. If you can write down more, that’s awesome. But I ask that you write down one.
If you’re having trouble getting something out of it, your first response might be to grab a study guide or commentary. While there’s a place for consulting the insight of scholars and theologians who have spent a lot of time getting into the nitty-gritty of these passages, that is not our intention for this study. Grab your reference Bible (or a Bible app with references included, such as the ESV app) instead. If you’re not sure what something means, look for the passages connected to it. We are trying to understand scripture for ourselves, for the most part relying on nothing other than scripture and the Holy Spirit to understand.
So feel the invitation of it. Ask the Spirit who breathed out these scriptures. Ask the Word who became flesh. Ask for understanding, and the Lord will give it.
Psalm 119:18 - Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Proverbs 8:17 - I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
Things to Remember
-Leviticus applies to you for many reasons. You are not, however, bound to these laws. You couldn’t keep them all if you tried, but God knew that. Jesus kept them all for you. So as you read, don’t feel like you need to pick and choose what laws you might need to obey. Just sear this word in your mind: “Fulfilled.”
Matthew 5:17 - Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
-Though we do not need to keep all these laws, they show us a lot about God, and can help us know His heart and His will.
For example, Leviticus 20:9 says that anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. Thankfully, we do not have to obey this part of the law anymore. However, we can learn that God really wants children to respect their parents.
One of my favorite parts of Leviticus is how often God commands His people to care for the sojourner. He has always loved and cared for the cast off, broken, and lonely person. You learn a lot of beautiful things about His character—both His fearsome holiness and His tender love—in Leviticus. It’s worth getting excited about! :)
Questions to Ask and Things to Look For
-What does this say about God’s heart/values/priorities/character?
-Why is this particular phrase repeated so often? What is God’s Word emphasizing?
-How is Christ different and better than these priests? How is He different and better than these sacrifices? (Hebrews should help us with this!)
-How does my mind need to change so that my values align with God’s?
When It's Hard to Read
While reading, you might feel like Leviticus is bland or even morally repugnant. But if we don’t understand “why is this included?” or “how is this okay?”, by faith we must trust that God is righteous and His Word is good. Also, be encouraged, because this means you are really studying God’s Word and seeking to understand all of what God’s Word says about His character and purpose.
When you’re tempted to feel like scripture is boring or unjust, keep in mind these scriptures:
Isaiah 66:2 - These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.
2 Timothy 3:16 - All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
Isaiah 55:9 - For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Psalm 97:2 - Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Romans 9:20+21 - But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”
Wrestle with God. He can handle it. He has dealt so mercifully with people who have wrestled with Him in the past (like Jacob, David, Habakkuk, Nicodemus.) What matters is if we come to Him about it instead of just feeling bitter and hateful and turning away from Him because we don’t like what His Word says.
Also, if you are really struggling—which is totally normal—find a good audio Bible (I like the apps bible.is and Dwell.) Have someone else do the reading for you, and soak it in.
Whelp, that's all I have for now! Let me know if you (and a friend!) are joining in on the journey! :)
One thing I learned very quickly after becoming a mom and being thrust into adulthood is that grownups talk about boring things! All moms seem to talk about are Brayson's sleeping habits or planning Ryleigh's birthday. It all feels like a game of waiting for the other person to stop saying her boring whine so you can jump in with your boring whine. When I walk away from hangouts like that, I kind of feel like it was a waste of time. There's a place for asking each for advice and there's probably a place for venting steam, but I want my conversations to be life-giving. And one thing I've learned about myself is that I'm just not intrinsically awesome enough to make life-giving conversations happen on their own.
First, I need to ask God to make my conversations full of richness and joy. Secondly, if I am constantly fillling myself up with truth and good things, I'm more likely to have something to contribute to a conversation. Third, if I want to help a directionless conversation become more meaningful, I should have some questions ready.
So here's a handful! I even made a free printable. Cut them out, throw em in a cup, and ask each other!
What is one of your greatest aspirations?
Tell me your story. Who are you and what are you about?
What time in history is most interesting to you? Why?
What do you do to deal with suffering?
What do you think the purpose of life is? What leads you to that perspective?
What are some songs that mean a lot to you?
What do you tend to daydream about?
[If they have tattoos]: What's the story behind it? [If not]: If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be and why?
What is one of the strongest relationships you've ever had?
What do you like about the way your parents raised you, and what would you do differently?
Are there any skills that you think you might be good at if you had the chance to try them?
I’m a [your religion here.] Is there anything you would like to know about my beliefs?
What is the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen in nature?
What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve seen/tasted/heard lately? (Follow-up discussion Psalm 8, Psalm 19, Psalm 104, Job 38-42)
What is your favorite miracle that Jesus did? Why?
What are some things that tend to stoke your love for Jesus when your passion feels stale?
What do you think the difference is between childishness and childlikeness?
Is there anything that following Jesus has cost you? What have you gained? (Mark 10:29)
Are there any particular psalms that have comforted you in hard times?
Remember that listening is the most important!
And remember, these are deep questions. They will make people think, probably (hopefully!) about some things they haven't thought about in awhile, maybe never. So your friend's answers are probably going to be unpolished...and you know what? If they turn the question back to you, chances are you're going to stumble over your words and say something kind of stupid too! But that's okay. Loving others right in the middle of their imperfection is beautiful.
Side note: That picture was from my lovely time in North Africa. Conversation was valued there a lot more than it is here, and I went to bed feeling so full from hearing the stories and perspectives of new friends. Other cultures have a lot to teach us about things like this!
Here's a PDF of the conversation questions! Feel free to add your own in the comments! :)
I know I've gotten a little printable-happy lately, but I LOVE designing things! :) Let me know if you're using these and how I can improve them. As always, it's all free because I'm making these for myself anyways and figured I would just share!
I print these out and keep them in my homeschool planner along with whatever projects we want to work on for the week.
Minimalist Homeschool Planner
Later I hope to share what we're doing for homeschool after I have a better feel for all my curricula (since I tried some new things this year and I don't want to recommend it unless I know I love it.) But till then, here's how I plan our week AND record our progress. I don't have to plan ahead for the year, I don't have to stress about whether we actually accomplished anything (even if we are taking an unschooling approach for most of the week.)
Let me know if you think there's a better way I can set this up, but so far it's working magically for me!
Here's the PDF!
Reading Rewards Chart
This summer, my son participated in two of our library's reading programs. After we logged 24 hours of reading, he returned to the library and received free pins for a lanyard, a free arm sleeve, a free backpack, free sunglasses, and two free tickets to a baseball game! It's hard for him to stay motivated to read, but this program was an absolute delight for him.
So, when it was over, I decided to make my own program. One point for every time we spend 20 minutes reading together, 3 points every time he reads on his own. NOTE: I expect him to read anyway; I am not paying him to do school. He will be disciplined if he does not participate in school. But this is a little bonus reward :) Also, I choose the rewards on my own terms...except for the last book, which he gets to choose on his own.
I hope this helpful to you too. Here's the PDF :)
Also on my homeschool clipboard, I print out whatever recipes we'll be making, and I drag any relevant Pins onto a document and print it out as reference. I do NOT need to be on my phone when trying to tell me kids instructions; I'm already on it way too much as it is.
Hopefully this was helpful! Feel free to share! :) (But give me cred, if you don't mind! @RecoveringWomanhood)
Howdy everyone! I made some scripture wallpapers using some graphics I downloaded from Creative Market awhile ago. Feel free to download them and set them as your phone wallpaper too. Send me scriptures and I'll make them into wallpapers with some other patterns I have up my sleeves! Let me know how it works on your phone! I used an iPhone 6S template but I have the X and it worked fine. :) God's Word is amazing!
Today is a big day for us. I sent in my Letter of Intent to educate my child at home. It’s official. The government is aware that my son's education is in my hands. I'm a bit nervous, but mostly thrilled to the core. I've been considering myself a homeschool mom since my son was born (all of life is education!) but now that it's official, I've literally seen a lifelong dream fulfilled.
I don’t want to participate in the Mommy Wars, I support my friends who send their kids to school, and some parents might feel guilty, jealous, disheartened, or judgmental about this topic. I don't want to stir up any of those feelings in anyone. However, some people haven't been exposed to homeschool much, or they haven't really weighed the benefits. I'm surprised by how many random people in public ask me about homeschooling, as if we are some exotic species. I'm so glad to talk to them about why we choose this way of life. In case you haven’t considered your options, here are some reasons I’m so stoked about homeschooling:
-Our learning is useful. My kids are learning to cook, start businesses, tend gardens, etc. They are getting ready for life, not just college. Isn't it strange that we spend 14 years of our lives preparing for 4 years of "higher education" that likely won’t even help us attain our future careers or equip us with necessary life skills? Why don’t we learn about things such as food safety, mutual fund investments, and interpersonal communication? Tests, quizzes and homework aren’t how the world operates. Separating the disciplines into disconnected subjects (history, science, math, art, etc.) is unnatural and can stifle innovative thinking. Even then, not all these areas are being explored in schools; my friend is a fifth grade teacher and she said they’re only given five minutes each day for teaching history, and some teachers skip science altogether! What in the world!?
-I can personalize our education to meet my kids where they are. For example, my son is brilliant with abstract concepts, but concrete ideas (like phonics or counting to 100) take more time. For this reason I’m pretty sure he would’ve been held back if I put him in school, and that would’ve made him feel like he’s not smart. He's way too smart; that's the problem. He just needs to learn in a different way than his sister does. And that’s okay. Our curriculum, my expectations of them...everything is customizable. My kids don’t have to feel smarter or dumber than anyone else, because they understand that God makes everyone different.
-Learning is fun. It has to be fun! If my kids are curious and inquisitive, they will choose to learn on their own. I adore this quote: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." I want to light the fire that sets their hearts and minds ablaze for knowledge and wisdom. Love of learning, for the enjoyment of God and the good of others, is my #1 goal in educating my kids. If they love to learn, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish and how they can bless the world. It’s good to teach them self-discipline, training them to do things they don’t feel like doing, but it’s surely fruitful for them to learn that primarily through manual labor (aka chores) rather than hours of homework, right?
-We have so much freedom for field trips. We just went on a six-week road trip, and we try to visit as many museums as we can. (Most of them are free thanks to the reciprocal benefits on my membership to a local museum.) Interactive learning sticks so much better than book work. We actually do more formal school during the summer here in Florida because it's so hot! In the wintertime, the outdoors is our main textbook!
-I can school year-round and take frequent breaks (planned and unplanned) so our formal studies are always fresh and we don’t get thrown off track if someone gets sick or we need to focus on something else. Our daily schedule is laidback and free of commitments so we have margin for relationships.
-My kids get enough sleep each night. They wake up when their bodies tell them to wake up. I make a big breakfast most mornings and we don’t have to feel guilty about staying up late on school nights. Our mornings are still a little hectic (because we have so many little kids in our home!) but they are unrushed and sweet as chocolate chip pancakes. :)
-We have freedom to serve. Currently we are in a season where our efforts are focused on taking care of the baby and being a strong support to some family members going through hard times, but I have big plans (and I’ve seen some great examples) of ways we can serve outside our home in the future (nursing homes, hospitals, etc.)
-My kids are developing their personalities and vocabularies from mature adults who love them, not primarily from other kids who constantly reenact what they see on TV. They trust us and open up to us. They are best friends with each other. They value all generations and walks of life. Somehow they still might manage to see a silly commercial on Youtube and six months later I'll hear one of them say "Oh. My. Gosh. Look at her butt." (True story.) But they're not spending their time talking about Transformers or boyfriends.
-I need the extra time to care for my kids' hearts! They are not made of sugar and spice and everything nice. They need lots and lots of direction and encouragement. No one is better suited for this task than the two people who know them better than anyone.
-My husband was homeschooled, and it’s amazing how much we can trace his success (in character, in business, in everything) to the flexibility homeschooling gave him. I, on the other hand, went to the best private schools in the area and got good grades, but it took up so much time, I was distracted by social insecurities, and I had to be so focused on finishing homework and passing tests that—aside from some classes with absolutely stellar teachers—I retained very little knowledge. While many homeschoolers have had bad experiences and public- or private-schoolers had good experiences, our own experiences (and those of our peers) certainly help weigh our considerations.
-Our kids are free to be curious.Mass-education settings, unfortunately, must stifle curiosity. (Admittedly this happens on some level even in our family of four kids.) If a child is intrigued by how lightning works, for example, in school he might not be able to go too far past that paragraph in his textbook and as much time as his teacher has to answer a follow-up question. But in homeschool, we can (and we have) stopped to say “we will focus on this today” and watched YouTube videos, created LEGO dioramas and enacted lightning with pieces of string, consulted multiple books on the topic, and even discussed the scriptures that talk about how God is sovereign over storms and lightning and thunder proceed from His throne.
-I truly enjoy it! Homeschooling isn't for everyone (but I do think more people should consider it), but this is a dream that I've had my whole life. I get to balance creativity and intellect and try to cultivate so many beautiful things in my kids. I have time for tea parties, back scratching, watercoloring, and tree identifying. We are free to bear the burdens of others, to make things for strangers and friends, to pray and weep for loved ones.
I hope that was encouraging! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 26, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 6, 4, 3, and squishy-baby. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today