Night Tree


For our school in December we took a really laid-back approach.  We lightened up on the "have-to" subjects like language arts and math, and we did more of the "want-to" projects and books.  We finished out science book, we listened to audiobooks, and we did some advent activities from this Gentle + Classical Christmas school resource.  

One of the suggestions in that resource was to read Night Tree and make a fruit garland.  That sounded like something my kids would like to do, so I bought some extra oranges and planned to use those dry wrinkly pears and cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving. 

We finally got around to it last week!  I dried out the fruit in the oven, and then the big kids and I spent the afternoon stringing them into a garland.  Then we decorated a tree outside.















Apparently this is something a lot of people do, but it was our first year decorating a "night tree", and the kids loved it!  They told me we have to do this project next year too, so it may become a new tradition for us.  


The next morning after we decorated the tree, I noticed about fifteen deer gathered out there.  Before long all the fruit was gone!  The kids were happy that the animals enjoyed their "Christmas present".

Have you ever decorated a "night tree"? Do you do any other Christmas crafty projects with your kids?

Little Joys

I had grand plans to finish all my Christmas to-do's this week, since we are finally on Christmas break from homeschooling.  I was going to wrap all the presents, send out Christmas cards, finish baking, write Christmas letters, mail Christmas gifts...everything.  

Instead I find myself reading a lot of books, and now sitting down to write this.  Procrastination? Yes, I suppose so.  I did get my Christmas cards mailed, and today I hope to mail a Christmas present and start the wrapping.  I'm justifying taking a time out to write this because I can't really wrap until Derek is finished with work for the day, and I miss my blog.  


I've been thinking a lot about changes I want to make in the new year, and one thing I keep mulling over is how I can tip the balance away from social media and toward this blog again.  I've been struggling with social media for a long time, because while I think a lot of it is a waste of time, it is also the main way to connect with people online these days - including all of you, my blog buddies.  So what to do?  I don't know, but I figure just getting back in the habit of writing is the first place to start.  My writing motivation has derailed big time in the wake of the election, but it's time to get back to the little things, simple habits that anchor my days.  Blogging is one of those.

Anyway, what are you all baking for Christmas?  We have our Christmas favorites, but I always find myself wanting to branch out and try new goodies around the holidays.  My ideal holiday treat would be relatively inexpensive and basically fool-proof, which unfortunately rules out a lot of cookie recipes.  I live at a high altitude, and can basically trust no cookie recipe ever.  If you find a high altitude baking blog, send it my way, will you?

(One of the gingerbread houses we made with friends.)

On our list so far are the following: gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, Christmas fudge, snowdrop cookies, and chocolate-covered pretzels.  And wassail on Christmas Day, of course.  Believe it or not, I used to make more Christmas goodies than that, but these are our favorites.  I'll probably just round it out with an experiment or two.

Instead of baking this week though, I've spent a disproportionate amount of time reading, which I do not regret at all.  I've finished several books, and am hoping to still make my reading goal of 48 books this year, even though I'm woefully behind!  I'm especially enjoying re-reading Lord Of The Rings during these winter months.  Those book are winter books to me.  I just got past the creepy marshes in The Two Towers, so basically we're getting to the good stuff now.

Despite everything going on, December has been as busy as ever for our family, with dinners with family and friends, Christmas light trails, and weekly Awana night dates for Derek and me.  We went out to one of our usual places last night, but there was no room for us in the outdoor-seating tent, so we sat under a heat lamp on the patio while drinking our root beer and cream soda.  We couldn't take our coats off (so I guess my careful outfit selection was a little pointless), but it was romantic sitting outside in the cold, eating our dinner and watching the traffic lights "blink a bright read and green".  I enjoyed it very much.  Sometimes things aren't ideal, but you make the best of them and find joy in it anyway.  Hasn't that been the story of this whole year?  

I hope you are finding the little joys this week, friends!  I'll try to be back soon with photos of the fruit garland project I did with the kids, and hopefully a book post and some Christmas reflections in the next week or so!

Starting A Nature Study Journal - Why And How


Nature study is something I want to make a more consistent part of our homeschool.  I've been saying that for a while actually, but I've also found nature study and nature journaling a bit intimidating.  What was I actually supposed to be looking at?  What are we supposed to be learning?  How do I nature journal if my drawing skills are limited?

What Is Nature Study (And Why Should We Do It)?

First thing first, for those of you who might be new to homeschooling, nature study and nature journals have been around for a long time, but in this modern homeschool world you'll most often see it associated with the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy.  Simply Charlotte Mason is a good website for a deep-dive into Charlotte Mason and her methods, but for my purposes here, the definition from dictionary.com is: 

n. the practical study of plants, animals, and natural phenomena as a school subject.

I personally love the idea of nature study as a way to introduce scientific skills to kids.  True science is all about observation and experimentation.  As far as observation goes, nature study is a wonderful way to practice that scientific skill in the real world.  Nature journals are a way for kids (and adults) to keep track of their nature observations so they can begin to notice patterns in the natural world.

But How Do I Do Nature Study?

While I know all this with my head, the actual nuts and bolts of doing nature study is the part that becomes intimidating.  If you do a simple online search for nature journals, or if you purchase any nature-journaling books or resources, the level of skill these artists possess is amazing.  No matter how hard I try, my nature journal is not going to look so detailed or impressive.

Thankfully, I've begun to realize this year that a nature journal doesn't have to look like that to be worthwhile.  You don't have to have any art skills at all to keep a nature journal, really.  The point of nature study and keeping a nature journal is to develop the habit of observation.  The point is to be still in creation, and notice things, and then keep some sort of record of it.  

There are a few things that have helped make our nature study and journaling a little easier and a little richer, and I wanted to share a few thoughts on that today.  These small encouragements are coming from me, remember - a very amateur and non-artist homeschool mom.  I'm hoping that means these tips will be actually useful for the average person reading this.  Let's dive in!




Tip #1 - Just get outside a lot.

This tip seems so obvious as to be ridiculous, but what I mean is - try to practice just getting outside regularly before you add nature journaling into it.  If you and your kids are mostly homebodies, getting into the great outdoors more is the first step.  Go outside and enjoy your surroundings without the pressure of studying anything first, especially if your kids are young. Go on a hike, do schoolwork outside more, have a few picnics. Perhaps after you've developed the habit of getting outside as much as possible, taking the jump to actually studying the things around you will be a more natural step.

Tip #2 - Do a botany study.

Despite living in the mountains for most of my life, before this year I knew surprisingly little about plants.  I've never had a green thumb, and any botany knowledge I gained when I was in school had long ago faded from my brain.  I wasn't even very excited to do a botany program with my kids for homeschool science this year, but it turns out knowing more about plants makes nature journaling a whole lot easier!  

If you think about it, the main category of living things that you will see ever time you step outside are plants.  They are also the best thing to draw and observe for nature study because they don't move much.  I don't know why we didn't do a plant study sooner - it would have helped us so much with nature study from the beginning. 

Knowing more about the plant kingdom has made me feel more equipped for nature study - now instead of just staring at my surroundings, wondering what things are worth writing down, I have some specific things to look for when I'm looking at plants.  And because I feel a bit more knowledgable about plants,  I'll be able to help my kids with remembering what we learned and developing their skills on a part of creation that is easy to observe and draw.

(We used Apologia's Young Explorers Botany curriculum - it is a good level for mid elementary aged kids, I think.)

Tip #3 - Don't judge your own drawings (and don't let your kids judge theirs either).

We just finished our botany curriculum yesterday, and the last chapter in Apologia's Botany was on nature study. I found everything in that chapter really helpful and encouraging, and some of the following tips are things I gleaned from there. 

The book made a point that I thought was well worth remembering, and it is this - no one starts out nature journaling as an expert.  You start wherever you are, and as you get in the habit of observing and writing things out in your journal on a regular basis, your skills will grow.  

Consistency is something I want to work on with nature study, because consistently practicing observing and recording nature is what will lead to really useful learning.  But I'm also applying it to my rather simple drawings - no one starts out drawing as a developed artist, we hope to grow with practice.  

I think it's also important to realize that our drawing skills may never improve to level we would hope, but that doesn't mean nature journaling isn't worthwhile.  It's okay if your drawings are never impressive. The point is to learn how to observe and document accurately.  Drawing is just one way to do that.  Which leads to the next thought I had...

Tip #4 - Don't draw at all.

If drawing is what is holding you (or me) up from enjoying nature journaling - well, who says we actually need to draw at all?  We could just write out descriptions of what we see instead.  We could paste an actual specimen from a plant into the pages of our nature journal.  We could even take a picture and slap that in!  This is a very fresh realization for me, so I'm going to have to think about different ways we could do nature journaling aside from just drawing.



Tip #5 - It doesn't just have to be about the observation.

This is something else that I read in Apologia's Botany that I never thought about before - nature journaling doesn't have to be just dry scientific observations about living things.  We want to write down what we observe, but this is a nature journal.  It's okay to include poems or Bible verses that come to mind, to write out something fun that happened while you were outside, to play around with different ways to describe with written language the beauty that we see.  I've always come at nature journaling from a scientific bent, but the thought that I could include...anything I want, really...makes it a little more exciting.

Tip #6 - Help your kids write what they see.

This tip is more about making nature study something that your kids can enjoy.  If you have really little kids, don't make nature study turn into a frustrating writing practice session.  Let them draw a picture, ask them what they would like you to write in their journal, and then write it for them.  Our family is at a stage when most of my kids don't have the endurance to write out a bunch of information, and I want us all to enjoy getting outside and recording what we see. I want it to be a sweet memory.  Helping my kids with the writing is one way to make the experience less frustrating while we are developing the habits of nature study.

Tip #7 - Find some resources that inspire you at your family's stage.

When I first started trying to find resources for nature study, all I could find was this really intimidating book about nature journaling.  Since I'm not an artist, I couldn't imagine myself ever being good enough at nature study for that book - much less my young elementary kids!  I searched a little more, and these are a few resources that have made nature journaling seem more doable for my limited artistic abilities and young family.

Apologia Exploring Creation With Botany - The same book I mentioned above, this is a great curriculum for gaining meaningful knowledge to use in a nature study.  It'll help you know what to look for when it comes to observing plants.  Comes from a creationist Christian perspective.  I'd say 2nd Grade and up! 

Note:  I'm hoping to do their Flying Creatures book this spring to add more bird knowledge to our nature study attempts.  I'll update once we get through that book.

Exploring Nature With Children - If you need some inspiration for how to integrate nature study into more homeschool subjects, this is a great resource!  It has a different nature study topic for each day of the year, and includes poems, nature walk ideas, book lists, and other activity ideas.  Could be adapted for any grade.

100 Easy And Fun Creative Nature Walks - I love this ebook for ideas on how to involve younger kids in nature study!  It'll get you looking for different types of things each time you go out.  Good for preschool through elementary at least.

Raising Up Wild Things Nature Journals - Raising Wild Things is a blog and shop with many nature study resources - I just bought her winter nature journal and I'm excited to use it with the kids.  She includes basic information that would be useful for winter nature study, along with journal pages and worksheets to get you started, and website and book lists for further learning.  And all beautifully illustrated in a. non-intimidating way! Good for elementary ages.

The Nature Connection by Clare Walker Leslie - If you are not sure what to record when attempting nature study, this book has a bunch of information and ideas of what kinds of things you may want to write down.  I think this book has a lot of great inspiration.  I forgot I had it until I was writing this post, and I am going to pull it out much more this spring.  Comes from an evolutionary and environmentalist perspective, so be aware of that.  Good for elementary school and up.

Nature Anatomy and Ocean Anatomy by Julia Rothman - If you are excited to jump into the artistic side of nature journaling, these books would be good inspiration!  They are basically a published nature journal, with lots of good information included!  Some mentions of evolution and millions of years. Good for elementary and up.



That's all I have, friends.  I'm still figuring out nature study as I go, but I hope some of this was helpful!

Okay, all my homeschool nature study experts (I know there are some of you reading), what tips would you include?  And if you've never done nature study with your kids, have you found it as intimidating to start as I have?  


What's On My Christmas List


Aren't my kids so cute decorating the tree?


Over the last couple years I have started to make a Christmas list for myself to give to Derek.  He always picks me great gifts, with or without a list. But he asked, and it's fun to be able to pick out things that I would like but probably won't buy myself!  I thought I'd share my list today, just for fun.  Maybe if you aren't sure what to put on your Christmas list, it'll spark some ideas!



Washi Tape






I found this website that sells gorgeous Washi tape a while back, and I've been eyeing a few of their sets!  I use Washi tape in my bullet journal or on letters, to dress up the page and add some sparkle.  I use it in a really basic way, but some people really decorate their pages or letters, like my penpal Felicia (her envelopes are always so pretty!).  It's just fun, and I'd love to get a little collection started.




Books





These three books are on my Christmas list!  The first two I have read before and they were excellent - to the point that I would like to own a physical copy and re-read them.  

Eve In Exile is about feminism, it's negative effects on women, and the purpose for which God really created women.  I feel like that makes it sound a little boring, but it was so good.  

Glory In The Ordinary is about the value of work, and the biblical purpose of our work, and I remember finding it really encouraging especially as it relates to the struggle many women have with feeling...perhaps less-than for working outside of the home OR for not bringing money in for the family.  It was great.

Black Coffee kind of intrigued me, because...well, coffee, but also because I read in the description that it is a Hercule Poirot play that Agatha Christie wrote which was adapted into a book by a different author.  Hercule Poirot is my favorite of her characters, and I'm really curious to see how it is!  


Psalms Scripture Journal





I have one of these scripture journals for the book of Hebrews, and I love it!  It has the biblical text on one page, with a dot grid for notes, decorating, or whatever you want on the opposite page.  I write about things that stood out in the passage, or bits of commentary that I've gathered from other places.  I usually don't fill up a full page, so I am thinking they will be useful for going through the books of the Bible multiple times until it's full.  I'd love to have another one to work in, and Psalms felt like a good place to start!




John MacArthur Study Bible


I have the digital version of MacArthur's study notes, and I really appreciate his study Bible notes - it is always helpful and clarifying when I come across a tricky passage.  I would really like to have a physical copy of the MacArthur study Bible, so I can highlight and read the notes a little easier. I found a damaged copy on this website for cheap, so I'm hoping Derek snagged it for me!





Rings 






Opal Ring




Turquoise Oyster Ring



I used to love wearing "costume jewelry" rings in my twenties, but I haven't for several years now.  I think my fingers got a little fat for my collection while I was pregnant.  I'd like to get back to wearing pretty rings, but I'd also like some that won't turn my finger green (hopefully).  Even though these are the priciest thing on my list, they are relatively inexpensive and I think they're pretty for a little extra shine.




Art Prints I’d Love To Have Framed


Okay, I am a little hesitant to show you actual pictures here because I don't want to reproduce the artist's work without her permission, but if you click through on anything in this post you have to check out these prints.  I'm linking my three favorite prints below, but Lore Pemberton's art just speaks to me.  All of her paintings are wonderful, but these three are my current favorites and I'd love to get a print of one of these.


This one brings back the feeling of rocking my babies against my chest in the middle of the night.  


We go on a fall hike every autumn, and this one just reminds me of traipsing through the woods with my children.  I can almost smell the leaves.


This one brings to mind the stargazing nights we've done with the kids, and the wonder we are hoping to inspire in them by introducing them to the night sky.




Makeup







What can I say, I like my makeup!  I've particularly enjoyed Colourpop's eye products for a while, and this cool-toned palette caught my eye (which is currently sold out, so I might not be getting it after all!).  The single shadow is one of their super-shock shadows, which I've heard good things about and would like to play around with.  And I've been wanting to try one of their lip glosses - this color looks pretty.




Perfume





I realized early this year that I've used up most of my perfumes, and a lot of the ones I've liked over the years are no longer produced.  Don't you hate when that happens?  You find a scent you like, and then they just stop making it.  Tough luck.  I smelled a sample of this one a while back though and I remember liking it, so I put it on my Christmas list just in case Derek needed one more idea.  Time to find a new perfume I guess!


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That's it!  I was trying to put a wide variety of things on my list so Derek would have a lot to choose from.  I obviously will not be getting everything here (budget, you know), but I wanted to give Derek lots ideas so if he ends up only buying from my list, I'll still be somewhat surprised!  


What sort of things have you put on your Christmas list? Do you and your spouse make lists for each other?



Out Of Sorts (And Real Tea)


Do you want to come over for tea this morning?

To my in-person friends, that's an open invitation, just so you know.  But otherwise, let's have virtual tea on a Tuesday.  And not the kind all the youngsters talk about, the gossip-y, drama kind.  No spilling of metaphorical "tea".  Let's have, like, real tea.  In a real cup.  

I feel old.

I've been watching too much TV.

Speaking of tea, try a cup of Nutcracker Sweet tea with a chocolate bar.  You can thank me later.

Hunting And Not Blogging

Where were we when I suddenly lost all motivation to blog a couple weeks ago?  You may remember that I was in the middle of a 31 Day blogging challenge, and I totally fell off the wagon.  I underestimated the amount of energy hunting would take out of me, and then the election-that-never-ended happened, and well, here we are.  I have lots of election thoughts, but I don't want to get into it on this blog (that's what Instagram is for, right?), so let's just talk about my hunting season.

On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early, and headed out into the woods in the dark.  As it got light, we started sneaking through an open area, and suddenly saw a group of deer ahead of it.  They were all female deer, and I had a buck tag, but it looked like they were looking behind them, down the hill where we couldn't see yet. So we decided to sneak up to a ridge to see if there was anything down there, and what do you know, there was!  We just so happened to drop down behind a log, so I don't think they could tell what we were yet, and I got a perfect shot.  The freezer is full now, and I feel really satisfied.  First morning of hunting season and we got one!  That's the best.

I come from a long line of hunters, I grew up hunting, but I hadn't been for over eight years.  I was quite worried about my ability to even hit a target anymore.  But Derek scouted out a great spot for me, and got me to the deer, and I was pleased to see that I am not completely useless out there, as I was afraid I would be.


It took us all day to drag the deer out a mile and a half (at least).  I felt like I had gotten hit by a truck the next morning.  It took me a bit to recover.

Sorting And Shopping And...More Sorting

Since then, aside from obsessively checking the news, I have also been working hard on finishing my Christmas shopping and sorting through this year's pictures.  

Last year I decided to print off the best photos of each kid from 2019 and put a little photo album in each of their stockings.  It was a lot of work, but they loved those little photo books.  And I liked knowing that my photos weren't just existing in some digital netherworld, but I had some hard copies now. I decided to make it a tradition so I would have motivation every year to get our photos printed.

Ideally I would sort and print photos throughout the year so it wouldn't be such a huge project in December.  But alas, it took me two eight-hour days to get 2020 photos printed up.  The prints are ordered and on their way and I'll probably be spending the next couple weeks getting them sorted (again) into albums.  Then another Christmas item will be checked off the list.

I actually finished the kids' Christmas shopping in mid-October, and a few days ago I ordered the last of the Christmas presents for Derek.  

I'm always torn about doing Christmas shopping so early.  I used to really enjoy Christmas shopping in December, because it added to the Christmas excitement for me.  But as we've added more kids to our family, I've realized that Christmas is much more pleasant for everyone if I finish the shopping early.  

Shopping for five kids is hard.  You want them to each have the same number of presents to open, even though the older ones start asking for more expensive gifts.  You want each gift to be of relatively the same size or value or excitement level.  And inevitably you'll buy them what they individually asked for, because you want to treat them like the unique individuals they are, but then the kids realize on Christmas morning that they like what their siblings got, and they wish they would have asked for the same thing.  It's just complicated.

Anyway, its done, so now I need to sort everything and start wrapping.

Maybe the theme of this post of sorting.  Appropriate, right?  Isn't that what we are all doing right now?  Sorting v0tes, sorting photos, sorting through news, sorting the Christmas budget out, sorting presents to be wrapped.  All while feeling out of sorts.  Just lots of sorting.

Some of the photos I sorted today are from our visit to my friends' ranch in October.  We try to visit them once a year, and it's always such a refreshment to see them all again.  This time was no exception.  I am so blessed to have friendships that have lasted for a majority of my life, with women who inspire me and encourage me in the Lord.  Friendship, especially with sisters in Christ, is such a gift.




A Library Embarrassment

Speaking of sorting, I went to the library yesterday and I had fifty-seven books ready to be picked up.  Fifty-seven!  And because they are quarantining returned items for up to a week, a lot of the items I had previously returned hadn't registered yet, so I had to ask the librarian for an override to check out my fifty-seven books, which put me over the library book limit.  I was so embarrassed by my huge stack of books that I rushed out of there as soon as I could, so I'm not sure I even got them all.  I have to count.  I may have to go back for whatever I forgot and ask for an override all over again, though hopefully my returned items will have been checked in by then.  

That's what I get for trying to get ahead of the Christmas picture book rush.  I requested a bunch, but apparently I was the only one in line this early, and they all came in at once.  But hey, our library system got rid of fines last year, so technically I could keep them until Christmas and not even get charged.  Maybe that's worth a little embarrassment.

(Note: I won't really keep all those library books clear until Christmas.  I'll put them back into circulation in December so someone else doesn't have to suffer the fate I did last year, which was to wait and wait only to finally receive my Christmas holds...in January.)

In Search Of A Holly Jolly Read

Speaking of books, what is a good Christmas-y novel that you've read?  I need some recommendations.  I read The Christmas Carol last year, and also Hercule Poirot's Christmas, and those were both perfect.  My friend Felicia also sent me Christmas At The Vinyl Cafe in the mail, and I inhaled it in a couple days right around Christmas Day (highly recommend that one).  I'd like to have something Christmas-y to read in December. It's taking me so long to get through any book this year that I should probably start now.

Stress-Paralysis And Christmas Trees

In case you didn't notice, the entire country appears to be setting up their trees early this year.  Either everyone desperately needs a little Christmas merriment, or they're trying to hurry this crazy year out the door, not sure which. We usually set ours up a week before Thanksgiving, and yet I oddly feel behind already.  

Sometime this week I'm going to dig into our Christmas boxes and start switching out a few things.  Our schedule is a little off this year, and we don't have a full day free to set up the tree in the near future, so I'm trying to break the decorating into smaller chunks.  I'm feeling pretty stress-paralyzed, so you may have to hold me accountable if I don't share a Christmas decor photo on Instagram within a few days!  Who am I kidding, my kids will hold me accountable.  They are chomping at the bit to deck these halls.

A Few Finds

Before I go, I wanted to share a few helpful things I have found in the last week or so!  First, I got a couple advent studies to use with the kids, this advent unit study which was inexpensive, and this Advent study which is free!  

I also splurged and bought this winter nature journal - Gwen has been asking me for "constellation cards" because she wants to study constellations, and this journal came with cards and a bunch of nature study sheets (I also got her these constellation fact cards, and I don't believe there was any duplicates between the two sets).

And finally, if you are like me and have a terrible time shopping for the men in your life, I found this Christmas list for men on Amazon.  Both Derek and my dad give me ideas like "new socks" for Christmas, and I obviously am not going to buy them something so boring as socks (or at least not only socks).  This list had a bunch of things that I knew my guys would actually like.  I may have gotten a majority of Derek's presents because of ideas I found here.  (Surely I'm not the only one who can't figure out what to buy for her husband?  It's not just me, right?)


(From our fall photos this year - me and Derek.)


Have you decorated for Christmas yet?  Are you done with your shopping?  What's your favorite tea flavor (are you even a tea drinker)?  And don't forget to tell me your Christmas book recommendations too!


I'll be back later this week to share a few things that I put on my Christmas list!  Just for fun.  


For When You Feel Insignificant



I typed out these words on my phone this morning, intending to post them to Instagram - but they ended up being more blog-length, so I wanted to share here.  I hope you'll forgive this slight bit of blogging cheating this morning - I am still recovering from a successful hunting trip over the weekend!  more on that later in the week.  Happy Monday, friends!

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 “Whence, as I said before, the Word, since it was not possible for Him to die, as He was immortal, took to Himself a body such as could die, that He might offer it as His own in the stead of all, and as suffering, through His union with it, on behalf of all, bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”


-Athanasius, On The Incarnation


“There is a pattern and a lesson here. As we read the lives of men and women who have been strategically used by Christ in building His kingdom, we note that the names of those through whom they were brought to faith in Jesus Christ are often forgotten or lost. But their significance is in calculable. God delights to use the hidden and the forgotten.”

-Sinclair Ferguson, In The Year Of Our Lord


This morning I read these beautiful words from Athanasius about Jesus’s sacrifice to save us from our sin and give us life - followed by these poignant thoughts from Sinclair Ferguson. Do you know the names of the people who brought some of the church fathers to faith in Jesus? I don’t.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the impact of our work, whether we are doing any good. Most of us will never be well-known outside our circle of friends and family. We make meals, we give our best effort at work, we keep our houses clean and comfortable. We smile at the grocery store clerk, we encourage a friend, we serve at church. We pray for the salvation of our children, we try to point them to Christ, we try to witness to others of His goodness when we can. But it can still at times all feel a little insignificant.

My grandma and grandpa were brought to faith by a door-to-door salesman who saw my grandma was searching and started a conversation. I don’t know his name. I’m pretty sure he isn’t in any history books. But a whole family came to faith in Christ because he was faithful.  Generations will be affected for Christ because of someone whose name is now lost to us.

It may be that no one ever knows your name. We’ll live in this little blip of history, and then fade away and be forgotten. But that doesn’t mean our work for the Lord is insignificant. He is using us greatly, though we may not always see it. 



Celebrating Reformation Day: More Resources

(Pretty frost on the trees this morning - it's cold out there!)


A couple years ago, we started celebrating Reformation Day.  I wanted my kids to have a greater sense of their heritage as Christians, a greater idea of their place in the history of the church and how God is working through His church down through the ages.  And since we don't celebrate Halloween, Reformation Day also seemed like a fun and worthwhile thing to celebrate instead.

I wrote a few posts about how we celebrated Reformation Day, some of the resources I like for teaching kids about Reformation Day, etc.  Well, I'm always looking for more books and resources to add to our collection, and I found a few that I wanted to share as we get ready for Reformation Day next week!  If you are looking for some resources for teaching your kids about church history, or just want to learn more about the Protestant Reformation yourself, here are a few more to add to your list.


Little Pilgrims Theology Free Lesson - I just came across this free lesson plan for a Reformation Day study with your kids!  If you would like Reformation Day to be a family event, and you have kids in upper elementary, this would be something to check out. We are planning on working through this lesson together next week! I also listed a bunch of other family resources in this post.

Ligionier's Reformation Day Playlist - The 500th anniversary of the Reformation was in 2017, and even though I somehow missed the fanfare that year, a lot of great resources were created to mark the occasion - including this playlist from Ligionier Ministries by speakers at a Reformation Anniversary conference.  (Ligionier actually has a bunch of Reformation Day playlists, but I liked this one because it had longer messages.)  I've listened to a few of these messages the last few weeks, and they are so inspiring.  Highly recommend checking these out in the week leading up to Reformation Day - I'll be listening to more of these messages too!

Luther: In Real Time Podcast - Ligionier Ministries is also putting out a real-time podcast following the events of the Reformation on the dates they happened historically!  The first couple episodes are already out, and I can't wait for the October 31st episode that I'm sure is coming.

In The Year Of Our Lord by Sinclair Ferguson - This is a book I picked up to read in honor of Reformation month - each chapter covers a century of church history, giving some info and stories about church heroes of that time.  I also love that it includes a hymn from each century at the end of the chapter.  I think this would be a great "highlight" study of church history from the very beginnings of Christianity until now, and it's great as a lead-up to Reformation Day!


You want to know something?  Our foray into celebrating the Reformation was almost a one-year occasion.  The first year I came up with a few ideas for celebrating, and in my book, it didn't seem like anything too special.  The next year we were particularly busy that week, and I thought we'd probably just skip any special marking of the day that year.  

But my kids didn't forget.  

My oldest reminded me that Reformation Day was coming, and they all told me how excited they were to celebrate and learn about Martin Luther again.  So I threw together a haphazard celebration that they thought was amazing, and I'm so glad I did.  Because they were right.  Even if it's not the 500th anniversary, Reformation Day is worth marking.  Protestants tend to be a little historically untethered, as if there wasn't any church history between the disciples and the last hundred years.  And it's so unnecessary, because we have rich history to root us, firm historical ground to stand on.  

Reformation Day is a day to remember the heroes that came before us, men who believed in God's Word and stood up for what it said, even when it might have cost them their lives.  It's a day to take courage from their bravery, and to thank God once again that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from any merit or works of our own.  When that truth sinks in, when we trust in Christ alone for the salvation of our souls, and realize that He exchanged our filthy rags of sin for His pure-white righteousness in the eyes of God - well, that truth can set you free.  It's a beautiful thing, worth all our gratitude and thanksgiving and praise, to the glory of God.  

That's what the Reformation is all about.  It's not just about the historical roots of what Martin Luther did that day - it's ultimately about the most glorious gift of what Christ has done to save us.  That's worth celebrating every day, but Reformation Day is a good opportunity each year to turn our eyes to Jesus anew.

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