Oh friends, I am so excited about this.
Abby is a wife, mother, homemaker, and Jesus follower. Her story is beautiful and she is filled with such sweet wisdom. I feel so privileged to call her a friend, mentor, and sister in Christ.
When writing journal posts, it is so special to be able to share my reflections from the project and time with the client. Though oftentimes I think, "Oh, the wonderful words this friend could share."
I long to hand the pen and paper to the friend on the other side of the camera.
So, I pulled together a few questions for Abby. She wrote me back the most beautiful responses. I have been blessed by her time and time again, and I pray you are too.
What made you and John decide to homeschool?
This is funny now looking back, because currently, John is a huge homeschooling advocate. He loves promoting homeschooling to anyone on the fence, supports our homeschool so well, and even listens to podcasts and homeschool speakers in order to feel equipped, however, he was difficult to get on board initially! When our oldest was preschool age, we signed her up for what we thought was our only non-public school option at the time, a local private school that ran from preschool to high school. At the time we had two children and wanted more, so I was already skeptical of the cost long-term. We made a day of back to school shopping, and when I put the backpack on her little three and half year old shoulders it just broke my heart - I was definitely not ready. So I asked John if we could homeschool for preschool until she was a little older, say, kindergarten or so. Because it was "just preschool", he was cautiously on board, warning me that he really wasn't a fan of homeschooling beyond that. Once we started, we never looked back. It fit our family ideals so well, and we love the flexibility it lends our family as needed.
What is the Charlotte Mason approach and how did you decide that this was your path?
The Charlotte Mason approach follows the methods of a respected British educator from the late 1800s, and essentially, promotes that a child's education is made up in three parts - atmosphere (their home and faith values), discipline (good habits and practices), and life ("living" books and ideas, rather than dry text and memorized fact). Charlotte Mason also encouraged parents to realize that their child is a born person, that they are so much more capable than what society values them for:
"As a matter of fact, we do not realise children, we underestimate them; in the divine words, we ‘despise’ them, with the best intentions in the world, because we confound the maturity of their frames, and their absolute ignorance as to the relations of things, with spiritual impotence: whereas the fact probably is, that never is intellectual power so keen, the moral sense so strong, spiritual perception so piercing, as in those days of childhood which we regard with a supercilious, if kindly, smile.” Parents and children, chapter 24
These main components, coupled with countless other principles, really stood out to me and most closely touched upon my instict as a mother. Our Charlotte Mason home education model feels like the most natural extension of parenting for me, in essence, it just "makes sense" and feels right! I also love learning through living books with my kids, the beauty of nature study, and have a newfound appreciation of art, poetry, and music through the method, myself!
What does time with the Lord look like as a mother of five?
Time with the Lord looks a little messy in this season, to say the least. This is a time when my faith really has been challenged. I SAY "I don't need to present perfection in order to be fully loved by Chirst", but often, feel as though I need to clean up my act in order to be a God-honoring believer. The truth is somewhere in between. Most "missed" bible study mornings are due to a sense of laziness (if it doesn't look exactly like I want it to - a latte, highlighters, and silence - I think the moment has passed) or lack of reverence for the importance of starting in the Word. Truth be told, having teens to toddlers at once has kicked at my pride a bit, and I see the absolute need to rework what I think a "perfect" bible study looks like, and make use of the countless tools we have at hand. The bible app READING TO ME has been the biggest help when I miss my alarm or a fussy baby interrupts, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to my own discipline. I make time for what I want to, and its humbling to realize some days that I neglected study for lack of enthusiasm. I have been challenged by the story of Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley (and many more), who devoted two hours a day to prayer. She was able to parent in union with Christ by maintaining an open line of communication, often stopping to throw her apron over her head to pray privately. That story has stuck with me as a mother, and I often have conversations with the Lord in a similar way. Besides devoting time to start in the Word and maintaining a prayer life, I also love playing hymns (such rich theological truths can be found in the old hymns) throughout the day in our home. It just keeps my wandering thoughts pointed in the right direction.
What does the role of homemaking, as well as mothering and homeschooling, play both in your family and in society as a whole?
Oh man. I could talk about this all day, so I'll try to keep it short and sweet. In essence, I feel very called to nurture and raise my children this way. A personal conviction from the Lord to equip, sacrifice for, and love them well by our home being the spiritual foundation of our family. I take this seriously, and while the days can feel mundane, I pray the Lord uses my offering for the furtherance of His kingdom. I am tempted to do this for my own glory, there is false flattery and exaltation of homemakers on social media that tempts me in selfish moments, and while it may be a passing season (I don't recall another time where homemakers were "trendy"), it is a dangerous one because it removes the purpose of what we are doing, and promotes self rather than magnifying the Lord. The hardest part of homemaking as my career is knowing that I'm "working myself out of a job" - doing my job well means that my children will leave and won't "need" me as much, but the neatest thing is that if I have done anything at all to point them in the right direction, I will have five more brothers and sisters in Christ for the rest of my life to link arms in ministry with, and THAT is an eternal treasure worth every single dirty dish and pile of laundry.
Could you share about the role rest plays in your life, hence the name, “Rooted in Rest?”
Physically, rest plays zero role in my life! Haha! I truly have to rely on the Lord being my peace amongst what often seems like chaos. My life is a very organized mess, so to speak. I have systems and plans in place, but with five kids, two businesses, and home education, come a lot of anomalies. Sickness, extra dance practices, conflict amongst siblings, and gerenal fatigue all play a role in either driving me to the heart of my Father or running to my own desire for control in every little circumstance. It struck me one day in particular, as I took my young children (three kids under 6 at the time) outside to do school under our mango tree for a change of scenery, that the tree itself, which was my refuge and "back up plan" on tough school days, so well represented my need to be firmly rooted in Christ as my rest. Hence, the mango tree logo that I use, as well as my channel name! My life is busy, but His burden is light. And those two truths are not mutually exclusive.
Could you share about your journey with home birth?
Home birth has been such a sweet gift that I never expected to desire. My first two children were natural hospital births, and after dabbling around with some Bradley method classes and reading Ina May's books, I considered it for our third. Essentially, I didn't get it together quickly enough and just went the route of least resistance for our third, it seemed easier to call a doctor we were already established with and continue with what I perceived as an easy birth experience in general. After he was born, I just wanted to be home with my babies, but had to wait the standard 24 hours. It was in that 24 hours at the hospital that just seemed like sacred time missed bonding, that I resolved to pursue home birth should we have any more. I switched to the care of a midwife as my general well-woman care, and when the time came, I was already established and so it was a natural extension to using her for my birth, as well. Home birth is just such a special experience, although my births have been uneventful and lovely in general, so I believe that is why we were able to transition seemlessly. Had I had any hiccups in my other births, it may have been harder to convince John (or myself) that we wanted to go that route. I am tempted to regret my hospital births because our home birth experience has been so beautiful, but I believe that the Lord is always at work, and I don't hold myself hostage with regret. I love birth and babies, I love the depths it has brought me to reach into in my femininity, and I love that my daughters have witnessed that for themselves, as well.
In what ways do you serve outside of the home? (Friends, co-op, church, etc.)
A lot of serving outside of my home is done within my home, currently. I most often serve the body by serving meals around our table, opening my front door to hostess, or bringing something made within my home to someone else's home. Ministry opportunities abound for the homemaker if your eyes are pointed at the right opportunities. Currently, we are operating as a family ministry and hosting a weekly home group. We felt this was the way to best serve while remaining a family unit after years of various separate roles within ministry. I have found much joy both in serving with my family or serving alone. Either way, it is always so special to be around my brothers and sisters in Christ and to be seeking the Lord together. I also started a co-op for middle and high schoolers and while that takes some effort during my week, it is no longer a taxing or burdensome act of service on my plate. We delegate well, share the load, and fill in for one another when need be, so this year, I do feel like I'm enjoying the fruits of my labor with that group, verses actively serving the group.
Could you share about your involvement with Wild + Free?
I am drawn to the Wild + Free movement of homeschoolers because it is so countercultural, and yet, instinctive for me as a mother. Having very little experience with nature, handcrafts, or freedom to learn in general in my own school experence, Wild + Free was a helpful resouce for me for years. It represented an unknown that I deeply desired to understand, and I am so thankful for Ainsley and her heart behind it all. I love to write and share, and it may be one of my most favorite opportunities in this season to be a contributor there.
How are you and John intentional with each other while parenting five kids?
John is such a gem. He is the most intentional and active learner I've ever met. It's like his mind never rests. He wants to constantly know the Lord more, allows himself to be refined always, and somehow leads us with grace, strength, humility, and goofiness, all at the same time. He's easy to love, and I feel so honored that he is who I get to help in life. I want to be on John's team, always. We have a weekly date night, this year it's Wednesday nights, and it usually involves some form of tacos or seafood and a walk. We love to walk and talk. He is so much better than I am at keeping short accounts, so we're almost always having a little check-in before bed. I don't think we've ever gone to sleep without clearing the air and praying together, unless I am the one being prideful, and there's always a book that we're reading together casually. Right now, it's a biography of Paul written by NT Wright. Conversation is always open between us, and we always know that Wednesday is coming, so when we're in the thick of parenting, we still feel like a team that values the other and holds one another in high esteem.
I am so blessed by this family and so thankful Abby has taken the time to share such beautiful words with us.
Youtube: Rooted in Rest