Category: Untraditional Church

What I Have Learned about God from Unschooling

God is everywhere working all around us, just as learning is everywhere, and with both all we have to do is open our eyes to see so we can join in.

Photo: Trees in bloom.

When God really wants us to learn something He speaks to us through our circumstances exactly where we are.

Photo: Rachel’s gift to her brother and sister–peanut butter sandwiches inspired by Willy Wonka’s candy land.

Living for Him and loving His people should be our lifestyle just as learning should be a lifestyle.

Issac drawing in the dirt in the shade at the playground--it was too hot to be on the equipment.

Photo: Issac drawing in the dirt in the shade at the playground because the sun was too hot.

Opportunities to learn and to know God better are everywhere, not just in traditional settings.

Photo: Rachel also sits in the shade and draws.

In fact, those times when we are learning outside of traditional settings tend to be those where we learn and grow the most.

Found while out walking.

Photo: Daffodils found deep in the woods where we walked.

Expect the unexpected and don’t be surprised when God shows up.

Photo: Issac sits watching the fire burn the sticks he had gathered.

It is amazing the learning and growing that God has provided through living life to the fullest, finding joy in His creation, and reading about Him from His Word.  I am so thankful for the numerous opportunities He provides us to learn and grow in wisdom and understanding and in getting to know Him better.  God is GOOD!

Resurrection Celebration

As I mentioned, we don’t do the plastic eggs and Easter bunny holiday–we celebrate it differently–and we call it Resurrection Day. It doesn’t roll off the tongue but it is a reminder of the Truth which is the whole point. I should add here that I ran into Michael’s and then the grocery store this evening to pick up some things because we are supposed to get up to 5 inches of snow tonight. Both places the cashier wished me a Happy Easter. Funny how “Happy Easter” is all right but “Merry Christma” isn’t. Fine by me. The resurrection was the point of it all anyway. 🙂

Aside from the wooden eggs celebrating Holy Week we have several other things we do to commemorate the day of Christ’s Resurrection.  They aren’t big fancy traditions full of pastel springy things and decorations instead they are quiet joyful things, reminders of what He did and why.

We spend Friday cleaning and preparing.  Friday is a day of mourning and peace.  Christ has died, Christ as risen, Christ has come again.   We pause on the died for a day and remember.  We spend the day preparing for His resurrection, cleaning everything much like the Jews prepare for the week of passover–removing all the “yeast” from the house, cleaning every corner, renewing our hearts.  Mind youI have three kids helping so things don’t get quite that clean but is a reminder.

Saturday is a day of quiet.  We only have one egg on Saturday–the closed tomb.  We wait–and while we are waiting we make gifts for friends and neighbors (we do chocolate and cookies because that is what we always do.:)  No chocolate crosses though.  We don’t have many crosses in our house–only our wedding rings which have a plain cutout cross and the wedding cross from our wedding cake.  The cross was an instrument of torture so no chocolate crosses–actually no shaped candy, lots of covered and filled but no shaped ones.)

And Sunday.  Resurrection Sunday is a day of great joy.  I wake extra early and wake each of the children sharing the good news that He is risen. They each bath–symbolizing being cleansed in the blood, then put on their new clothes–a symbol of our new self.  We eat breakfast together (usually pancakes) then we bake bread together to be eaten with dinner.

Later, for our time of worship we hide all our holy week eggs again so the kids get one last chance to find them all–then they tell the final story of the triumph of Christ over death. We sing songs of His triumph and resurrection. They get a small gift —usually something crafty that they can do while waiting for grandparents who will likely bring some sort of lamb type thing because they like to buy them stuffed things and Shamus and I say no bunnies or chicks.

Then for dinner we have lamb–another symbol, as well as the fresh baked bread and our favorite celebratory foods.

And so it goes. It is nothing compared to the typical Easter Celebration that others do but it is rich in symbolism and joy.

Holy Week Eggs: The verses and the eggs

Back when I made the eggs I wasn’t that well read as far as the Bible goes and had a hard time choosing which stories to put on the eggs (It is also tricky because several days are run together in that section of scripture–I tried to organize it the bet I could and to choose parables that the kids might benefit from for the days between Monday and Thursday). I wanted to have several eggs for each day of holy week but didn’t have enough eggs for all of the stories and parables and after some study found that for two days there really wasn’t enough for more than one egg. The following are a list of verses that show what occurred each day of holy week with the symbols for each day and a picture of each egg. (I would change how I did it if I did it again–there are so many stories I could have used and didn’t because at the time I couldn’t come up with symbols–not such a problem now. Also I need to remark them because I keep mixing them up.:)) Also there is an extra egg that I forgot about–not sure how I ended up with 19 but I did. 🙂Read More

My Testimony

Jen of Diary of 1 asked me (among a slew of other people) to write up my testimony.   I wrote mine up  back when I was running “What is the Shape of Your Faith?” which I may do again as several people have been asking about it.  This is the perfect time for me to transfer it over here.  

1. When did you become a Christian?

You can read the answer to this and the next four questions here. Go over then come back, we’ll wait.

2. Was there anyone instrumental in your decision to be a Christian?

3. Were there any difficulties to overcome in your early walk with God?

4. How did your life change after committing yourself to Christ?

5. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I have three favorite verses.  Joshua 1:9, Jeremiah 29:11Psalm 1:1-3

The Lord gave me the  first when I was just learning to read my Bible and full of fear.  Last January he gave us the last two as a promise.

6. What does it mean for you today to be a Christian?

It has changed a lot.

For a very long time I was just trying to learn to not be afraid, to not complain, to not lie.  Then later I was trying to learn how to love others and to be a good wife and mother then I needed a serious dose of humility.  Somehow now I spend more time praying for wisdom than anything, more time learning how to answer others than trying to fix myself.  Now it means loving Him completely and living in such a way that others see it.  I am blessed in that I have ample opportunities to use my gifts and talents to help others in ministry (which is my passion) as well as to help other women who are struggling through things I have dealt with.

Most recently He has been changing how I see those around us.  For a long time I had tunnel vision–I was only really friends with people like me.  I still have the same beliefs –those haven’t changed, but He has stretched my relationships  beyond anything I would ever have expected.

7. Any last words?

God has been very, very good to us.

Practical Tools to Help Stop Complaining in its Tracks

I have had several requests both in comments and emails for practical ways to apply a complaining fast (which I talked about in this post.) Our family is not yours and I would say the best thing to do is pray about it and ask God for wisdom before you start. The following are what work for us.
My kids and I are all visual learners–poor hubby is the only audio in the household. 🙂 This makes visual tools helpful and even necessary when trying to teach them–especially when trying to weed out something as deeply rooted as complaining. I have several reminders that I sketch out when the complaining starts. (I guess that I should also mention that avoiding tv is a great way to start–discontent is spread by tv commercials big time. We don’t have tv so it isn’t as much trouble though magazines are a discontent trigger around here.)

1. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

This applies as much to complaints as it does to antiques. You have likely heard it applied before –“Eat your vegetables, there are little children in your favorite country here who would love what you have.” As cliche as it is it is very true. You don’t have to point it out in the same manner that your parents did but pointing out that their best friend lives where there is NO SNOW is a very good way to remind the child who suddenly got snow when they wanted spring that they are blessed.

Finding a blessing in each complaint is an excellent way to go about this and puts the burden on the complainer instead of on the one trying to teach non-complaining (and there is no point in trying to teach it to your kids if you are a complainer–the whole plank in the eye thing applies here.) I have my kids draw their complaints and find five ways that their complaints could be considered blessings. (In fact, think about it, often the things you hate worst about another person are the things that you love most about them.)

2. Diagram your attitude.

In general, complaining stems from a selfish attitude. (Poor me/it’s all about me.) Yesterday we had a little lesson about this that helped my oldest visualize it and see why we are to focus on loving others instead of loving ourselves. In that case I used Rachel and all that she had complained about that day but for her sake I will use Alexander as an example. As you know from the story not only does Alexander have a terrible, no good, very bad day, but he also complains about it to everyone.


Now some of the things that happened to him were his fault and some of them weren’t but all of them made him grumpy because of his focus. Instead of thinking about others and how they were feeling he was focused on himself and how each thing made him feel.


What happens when you are focused on yourself and how things make you feel is that you start to collapse in on yourself. You stop thinking about others and how they are feeling and think more and more about yourself. It is the very reason complaining leads to depression. The more you coplain the more you self-focus, the more you self-focus the more you have to complain about .

What happens if you turn around each of these complaints and make the best of each?


Sure these things seem goody-two-shoes but this IS the way we are called to respond as Christians. And look what happens when those attitudes change:


We grow outward! Instead of collapsing in on our selves there is plenty of room to expand out towards others. You can always think more about others–there is only so much room for you to focus on your self. The cool thing is that when I was doing this illustration with Rachel I didn’t notice the collapsing/expanding part–she noticed it and it hit home.3. Count your blessings.

This one is kind of obvious. Sure, you may have something that seems like a curse but what about your blessings? Complainers tend to focus on the bad stuff and often need to make plenty of “thankful lists” before they break the habit. This is how God did it for me. Every time I started to complain I would battle it with a praise. After a while the complaining habit broke and it was replaced with a habit of praise. With my kids I have them write or draw it–and once they get started it is hard to stop.

4. Dying to self.

John 12:23-25

This illustration goes even further as we applied it to our life in Christ. We are called to die to ourselves and Christ uses a seed as an example. So, I used a seed to demonstrate this same concept.

Now, I grew up on a large space of land and we had lots of oak trees. That means we had TONS of acorns. A few of the acorns made it into the ground each year but more of them were stored up to be eaten or rot. Some acorns that were left behind would start to put forth shoots and grow roots, others would just stay acorns. My brother and I used to play all kinds of things with acorns and, in the spring, more often than not would find rotten ones full of worms.

The other ones, the ones that put forth shoots soon were no longer acorns. They didn’t rot at all instead they grew into tiny trees, and the ones that really persevered would grow into huge oak trees.

So for an acorn to stay an acorn meant it would eventually rot and get worms but the one that gave up being an acorn became a mighty oak tree. An acorns such a small, little thing but it is full of an amazing potential if it is willing to give up being an acorn. The same applies to us.

When we are caught up in ourselves and complaining all the time we are like a acorn trying to stay an acorn. When we stop looking at ourselves and think about others we can grow.

Benefits of Homechurch

You’re never late–even when it is daylight savings time and everyone wakes up way past when any church starts.

In other words today church will be later–probably evening. 🙂  Actually it often is since that is when my husband prefers having it.

Squirmy kids only interrupt a few people and the leader can stop church and deal with any disciplinary issues.

When fellowshipping and worshiping in a smaller group–in our case, immediate family (Matthew:18: 19-20) it is a simple thing to deal with a noisy kid and there is no embarrassment  on the parent’s part because the children like to sit front and center where they can see everything  so the parent has to lead the small crowd all the way back to the back of the sanctuary to remove the kid.  This also includes bathroom breaks which are always more frequently needed when children are sitting in church.

The lesson can be taught in a way the the children “get it” and can be discussed at the moment instead of trying to remember all the questions later.

When we “went to church” the kids went with us and were expected to pay attention–well at least the older two, Issac spent the time rolling his cars under the pews.  This meant that they would often have questions whichthey whisper during the sermon.  Later, on the way home, we would ransack our brains trying to remember what their questions were.  Now the kids ask immediately and the “sermon” is more a discussion of a reading as it takes place than a lecture.  Not only does this benefit the children but it also benefits the adults involved–one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else.

The children are actively involved in the lesson.

My girls adore reading verses that have struck them during the week aloud after the main Bible reading.  They also love to share what God has been doing in their lives throughout the week.  Issac is not quite as interested in what is going on–last week he spent the entire time determined to read quietly from my Bible.  He read two paragraphs of the chapter we were reading–Mark 7.

We can focus on a verse or section as long as we need to.

God has been speaking to us through Mark 7 for two weeks now.  Shamus and I are also reading through Romans together on the side and God has lined up our readings brilliantly and is teaching us much.  Our church time is also much shorter than traditional church.  We don’t need to spend an hour on a subject unless the conversation goes on that long.  Often the main conversation is short and then extends into later conversations throughout the week.

The kids are with us and no one is  pointing out that there are all kinds of “Children’s Ministries”.

Some time ago the Lord started convicting us that our children needed to be learning beside us instead of in a separate classroom.  Some children benefit from “children’s church” and all that entails but not my kids and God made it very clear.  When we went to the more crowded services, kids in tow, many well meaning adults would gently let us know that the church had a wonderful “children’s program”.  When we began attending the smaller, earlier service the mostly elderly adults loved to pull us aside and bless us for bringing our little ones so they too could be fed.   I agreed with them and was delighted to know others felt that way.  I know that “Children’s ministries” are necessary for some but don’t tell me that you have a family friendly church and then separate my family at every possibly moment.  Child friendly?  Yes, family friendly?  No.  Family friendly to me means beneficial to the family as a family unit.  There are no scriptures that I can think of that refer to children being taught separately from their parents but there are several that refer to women and children being present while the teaching was going on– Ezra 10 is one of my favorite examples but when Jesus taught the women and children also gathered to listen (for example see Matthew 14:13-18.)

We are living out  Proverbs 22: 5-7 and Deuteronomy 4:8-10.

Homechurching and homeschooling give us ample opportunity to focus on what each child specifically needs to learn.  It also allows us to live what we teach and teach what we live.  Our goal is not to train our children in the way WE THINK they should go but in the way God designed them to go.  We are giving them the tools they need and making sure we teach them His truths at every step of the way.  We are also able to remove separate the traditions of men from the truth of scripture so they can stay focused on Him.  The Lord has reminding us of this over the last few weeks as we study Mark 7 and Romans 1-5.

As I said before–homechurch isn’t for everyone and God has definitely called us specifically to homechurch for this time.  It has been a real blessing and the above listed are just a few of the ways.

Take Care of the Orphans

I was planning to write some more about our home-church situation today, however, I read a post today that is on my heart and which I want to share with you.

Today Seth Barnes shared his heart regarding orphans.   Please go there, read, and pray about what he is saying, and God willing, act.

Our God is Father to the fatherless and Husband to the widow and He has asked us to play a part in His care for them.  He has blessed us immensely with his great abundance that He may use us to help others.

Untraditional Church: How we got here.

I have been thinking that I should post on this subject for a while but am leery of making someone else defensive of where God has them.

So before I explain let me say this--What God has for us is NOT exactly the same as what God has for someone else. I don’t know what His plan is for you other than that He wants you to love Him as He loved you and wants to grow you into the very best person in Him that you can be. I am comforted to know that He has called others to this same place and that we are not alone in this. I also recognize that just as He calls some to keep their kids in public or private school, He calls some to stay in the traditional church institution. At this point I think I will be spending Sundays explaining how we got here, what we do, and why–both from the personal view point and the scriptural. To start I want to explain how we got here and where we come from. It is a bit of a long story so grab yourself some coffee and make yourself comfortable.Read More