S7 E21 | Seven Steps for Cultivating a Heart for God, Part 2 (Jeannie Fulbright)
Charlotte Mason offered beautiful and sound advice for nurturing our children's relationship and love for the Lord. This divine task is in the hands of parent, and the primary feature of a living education. It is our privilege to set before our children new thoughts of God and new hopes of Heaven. But how do we do this? It can seem daunting and perhaps discouraging in light of our own failings and faltering in our own walk with the Lord. The good news is that our children have a natural inclination towards the things of God, a divinely inspired desire for Him. And our job is made easier with the help of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit as our children's primary instructor. To simplify the process of ushering in the atmosphere that will naturally nurture the Divine Life in a child, in this episode, Jeannie will share the last four steps of 7 steps for cultivating a child's heart for God based on the teaching of Charlotte Mason and the Bible.
Jeannie Fulbright, a 24-year veteran homeschooler, is the author of the #1 best-selling, multi award-winning Apologia Young Explorer science series: Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Chemistry and Physics, Botany, Zoology, and Anatomy & Physiology. She is also the author of the action-packed historical time travel book series Rumble Tumbles Through Time, as well as preschool science books and activity kits, the Charlotte Mason Heirloom Planner, and many high-quality Charlotte Mason based products. Jeannie and her husband Jeff became empty nesters in 2019. All four of their children all went to the University of Georgia on scholarship (homeschooling works!). For more than 20 years Jeannie has traveled around the country speaking to homeschoolers at conventions, covering a plethora of topics from Charlotte Mason to marriage and prayer.
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Jeannie Fulbright Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast that is all things Charlotte Mason and her tried and true philosophy of education, designed to help you homeschool with more confidence, joy, and success. It is our hope that you'll find golden nuggets that will transform the way you think and the way you homeschool. I'm your host, author of the bestselling Charlotte Mason Science curriculum, Jeannie Fulbright, and I am so glad you joined me today.
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Jeannie Fulbright Hey, homeschooler! Well, this is the final episode of season seven of the Charlotte Mason Show. We usually take the summer off, and so this is the final part of my two-part series "The Seven Steps for Cultivating Your Children's Heart for the Lord"--so how to cultivate hearts for God. I went through the first three steps, and I'm going to conclude with steps four, five, six, and seven today, which is going to be a little bit of a longer episode, but I think you'll enjoy it. And I just really hope that it helps you feel more confident in guiding your children into a strong relationship with the Lord. And last week, or last episode, one of the things that I mentioned was that it's important to cultivate our own attitude of gratitude. I didn't say it that way, but essentially that if we have a complaining spirit about our lives and the difficulties that we face, then our children catch that from us and it is harder to encourage your children to be grateful to the Lord and have great, happy hearts when we don't have a happy heart.
Jeannie Fulbright And one thing that I didn't say that I do want to conclude with, because I felt like I should have said this, is that really the most powerful way to change any attitude of our heart that is not in line with God's will for us is really to begin speaking Scripture over our lives, and speaking the Scriptures that we want to embody--the character qualities that we want to embody. If we memorize those scriptures and speak them of our lives, God has the power to change us just through His word. And of course, that relates back to what I was talking about, how the word is capable of applying itself and that God is the One who will actually work in our children's hearts as we usher them into the presence of the Lord and we crown the King in their hearts. And so that's essentially how I finished last episode. And so today will conclude with the rest of Charlotte Mason's advice and principles and philosophy on cultivating our children's hearts for the Lord.
Jeannie Fulbright Before I start, I do want to tell you that I will be at the GHC conventions this summer. I'll also be in Florida at the end of May. And I'll be in Arizona as well. So I'll be in California, Arizona, Florida, and Texas. And I would love to see you there. If you do go to GHC, use my coupon code JF23 for $10 off your registration. And I'm also always available online for any questions or comments you have. If you want to email me at [email protected]. Or you can also sign up on my website (JeannieFulbright.com) for my newsletter, which I send out teaching tips... Charlotte Mason Teaching tips and ideas and philosophy every week. And so those will continue to go out this summer. And I'm also on TikTok occasionally. That's a fun place for me to go when I'm just feeling in the mood to do a TikTok video. And of course I'm on Instagram. And also I would really encourage you, if you're wanting to learn more about Charlotte Mason, to join my Facebook group. It's called "Charlotte Mason Christian Homeschoolers" on Facebook. And just let them know that you found out about it through the show when you're filling out the application to join. It's a very active group with over 18,000 very active members that are really helping each other grow in the Charlotte Mason model. And also just they're there for each other. It's a community. And it's a community of kindness and godliness, and we ensure that it is. So it's a wonderful place. It's a safe place to just go and find refreshment for your homeschool journey and get questions answered. And I would love to have you join there. So that is where you can find me online. I also have a Facebook page, obviously, Jeannie Fulbright author, and then I have the "Charlotte Mason Christian Homeschool" Facebook page. So that is where I'll be this summer if you are looking for some encouragement, and let's get started.
Jeannie Fulbright And so we are now on step number four for cultivating your children's heart for the Lord. And that step is that we cultivate in our children an atmosphere that focuses on Jesus as our Savior. That He is continually saving us. He saved us through faith in Him and He is a continual worker of salvation in our lives. Psalm 56:13 says, "For you have delivered my soul from death. Indeed, my feet from stumbling so that I may walk before God in the light of the living." He saved us from death, but He's also saving our feet from stumbling, and He's constantly in the act of saving us. Psalm 116 says almost the same thing, "For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling." Charlotte Mason says, "Here is a thought to be brought tenderly before the child in moments of misery that follow wrongdoing. 'My poor little boy, you have been very naughty today. Could you not help it?' And then the boy says, 'No, mother,' he says with sobs." And then Charlotte Mason goes on to say, "The mom tells her son, 'No, I suppose not. But there is a way of help.'" And then the mother tells her child how the Lord Jesus is our Savior because He saves us from sins. And I think that we forget sometimes when our children are misbehaving that we need to point them to Jesus as their savior. We are constantly telling them what they must do and how they must fix this and do that, and "straighten up and fly right," as my dad used to say. But the fact is that--even more important than that--is that we are pointing our children to their need for a Savior. Pointing out to our children, "You need Jesus. That is what you need. He came for this purpose. He came because He loved you so much and He wanted to save you from your sin.".
Jeannie Fulbright And I think one of the mistakes that children get in their minds because of how we look upon their sin... It's very frustrating for a homeschool mom who's with her children all day long to be constantly confronted with the sins of others. And so we're not very favorable upon their sins, and neither is God. But what we do is we tend to make them feel condemned. Now, God doesn't condemn us for our sins, He saves us from our sins. And we want our children to know that they are completely and totally forgiven for their sins. And I think knowing this will bring a gratitude that wells up in the child and causes them to want to be obedient to this Wonderful Savior, to be better, to change, to be transformed by the love that God has for us, rather than believing, "God's mad at me. God condemns me. I've been really cruel to my sibling..." Or whatever it is. And they feel condemned because, rightly so, it's something we need to point out and discuss with them that it is a sin. But it's so important that as parents, we continually move from, "That's a sin," to, "You need Jesus." And that's what He came for. He came because he loved you so much and He forgives you. And that also just goes back to the third point, which is developing a heart of gratitude towards God, knowing that He forgives us for all the wrongdoings that we do-- everything we failed to do, everything we do do that is not hitting that perfect bullseye (which is what the word sin is) is forgiven. It's forgiven by our Savior. And to live in that gratitude will cause us and cause our children to allow Him to fill us with the desire to do better. And so I think that if we can cultivate an atmosphere that focuses on Jesus as our children's Savior, as our Savior, that that will bring about this divine life atmosphere that will help to cultivate your children's character.
Jeannie Fulbright And the next thing, number five, that Charlotte Mason talks about. She does actually put it right after, "Focus on Jesus as your Savior." She talks about cultivating the knowledge of the indwelling of Christ. And this is what Charlotte Mason says, "The indwelling of Christ is a thought particularly fit for the children because their large faith does not stumble at the mystery. Their imagination leaps readily to the marvel that the King Himself should inhabit a little child's heart." And then Charlotte Mason gives a little dialog where the child turns to the mother and says, "How am I to know He is come, mother?" And then the mother responds, "When you are quiet, gentle, sweet, and happy, it is because Christ is within." Isn't that a precious thought to think about when we are most at peace with ourselves, that is when we are allowing our lives... ourselves to be led by the Spirit? And when our children are in a happy mood and doing well, that they are being led by the Spirit, they are walking in the Spirit. And the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit. And this is a choice. So we know, and we can help our children to see, when you are feeling that presence of God, when you're feeling the joy and the peace of life, that is Christ within. That is the indwelling of Christ in your heart.
Jeannie Fulbright And I think it's really important for--going back to us modeling these things for our children--I think it's really important that our children see our own, as parents, our need for Jesus, our need for the fresh and daily filling of his Holy Spirit. And I think part of this is just acknowledging when we have missed the mark, when we have lost our temper, when we have been preoccupied, when we have not walked in the Spirit, the walked in the flesh, that we repent to our children, and then we acknowledge to them, "I was not walking in the Spirit." If our children see that we too struggle with walking in the Spirit, they will know that we are fellow sojourners. And as I've said before, your children are eternal souls and they are only going to be children for a tiny little while considering eternity. They're going to live in eternity forever with God and with you as... You and your children will not be the authority and the minor. It's going to be... You're going to be equals. And I've always said this when I was speaking on prayer in homeschool conferences about how important it is to recognize that your children are going to be adults one day, and to treat them with this knowledge, with reverence towards this knowledge. To not get so frustrated with their misbehavior now, knowing that in ten years they're not going to be acting this way. In five... In one year they're not going to be acting this way. We need to not get overly concerned with the troubles and struggles of life, but recognize that our children are eternal souls that will live forever, and they are watching us walk out our faith. They are watching us struggle with the flesh and overcoming, and living in the Spirit, and experiencing what it is to be filled with the Spirit in front of their very eyes.
Jeannie Fulbright And I think it's encouraging to children to see that mom's not perfect, that she needs Jesus. Because it helps them know, "If Mom needs Jesus. I really need Jesus." And a lot of times we get really frustrated with ourselves that we're not perfect parents. But the fact is, is that very fact that you're not a perfect parent can be used as an opportunity to cultivate your children's heart for God, to lead them into a continual repentance relationship with God, returning to Him when they have fallen. Seeing you have fallen and returned to God and returned to your sweet self through repentance and seeking God. They are watching you live your Christian life out in front of them and acknowledging how much you need God, and that will stick with them forever. And they too will experience the desire to walk with God like that. You will see that fruit develop in them if you are honest with them, not trying to portray yourself as perfect as if you are in fact as good as Jesus. That doesn't let your children know that everybody needs a Savior. And being imperfect is part of training our children to turn to God. If you are perfect, why would they need a Savior? They have you. So don't beat yourself up for being imperfect. Thank God for it. Consider it pure joy and know that you are... It's growing you in your walk with Him, and growing your children and your family into a relationship with Him and developing and building that atmosphere. Because there's no way on earth that any single homeschool family has a perfect life or is perfect because we live in a fallen world and it's just impossible to be perfect, for anybody to be perfect. Except for Jesus. So that is an encouraging thought and an encouraging word so that you do not become too discouraged with yourself when you miss the mark.
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Jeannie Fulbright Okay, number six. And this one I took from some... A lot of these I was taking from the original homeschool series Book 1, but this one actually comes out of Book 5, I believe, "Formation of Character." And that is: we want to cultivate the habit of spending alone time with God and our children. And so Charlotte Mason says, "In the first place, every word of God is the food of the spiritual life. And these words come to us most freely in the moments we set apart in which to recollect ourselves, read, say our prayers." She goes on to say that "such moments in the lives of young people are apt to be furtive and hurried. It is well to secure for them the necessary leisure, a quiet 20 minutes say, and that early in the evening. For the hardship of the end of the day is not the best time for its most serious affairs." And she says, "I have known happy results where it is the habit of the young people to retire for a little while when their wits are fresh and before the work or play of the evening has begun." So before it's time to get the house ready for Dad coming home or get ready for dinner or clean up or whatever it is--the evening chores or work or games or whatever you have planned--there should be a time... She says in the evening, but I'm thinking maybe early afternoon, I mean late afternoon/early evening to say, "Okay, let's all have our 20-minute devotion time.".
Jeannie Fulbright And she does talk about giving them something where it sounds like she's saying to give them something to read or focus on. And she doesn't use the word "devotions," but she says, "Sunday collects, epistles, and gospels are helpful as giving the young people something definite to think about week by week and give them a sense of being led step by step in his heavenward progress." And so that... Really it sounds like she's saying, "Give them some sort of devotional that can refocus their mind." And there are so many great little devotions for kids. And if your child is reading on their own, I think it's really important for them to have a devotional, not that you are overseeing, but that you've provided for them and that they are going through on their own. They have this means of studying the word, studying the Bible or concepts in the Bible. And I don't have any suggestions right now, but my children had so many great devotionals, and I know that... You know, my children are in their late twenties, most of them. So it's been a long time and I don't remember the names of them or the authors. I believe my daughters enjoyed a few by Elizabeth George when they were in their late elementary/middle school/high school. There are others. I'd provide those for them. Just give them the rich feast of beautiful devotionals that are for them, that they can have authority and an independence in going through. I wouldn't in any way make it about you or make it about lessons or, "How many devotions did you do?" I think that would just completely ruin the point that Charlotte Mason is saying here, is that they should have this quiet moment on their own.
Jeannie Fulbright She says again, "These come to us most freely in the moments that we set apart in which to recollect ourselves." So this is just the food for the spiritual life we want to provide for our children. I'm sure there are great reviews of many devotions on Christian Book or Amazon that you can find. I would definitely be very careful about what you choose. I wouldn't choose anything that's trying to incorporate the world into the devotion and trying to make it relevant. What I always found with my children is that being homeschooled and being in an atmosphere, in a home environment, where the Lord was a constant, just something we talked about all the time, that they had a spiritual maturity that most of the children's devotionals weren't written to. So a lot of times I did buy them adult-level... Especially when they were in high school. It was completely... They only did adult Bible studies and adult devotions. Because they were ready for meat. They did not need the little children's playful devotions. They really liked stuff that was spiritually mature. And so that's what I would think about when you're choosing a devotion for them, that it's something that is on their spiritual level. Read it. Does it talk down to the child? Does it treat them like they're not very intelligent or their only interests are kids at school? And a lot of the devotions that I read, that I would look through at the Christian bookstore--which I don't even know if they have those anymore--but they would really talk to issues that my children didn't have.
Jeannie Fulbright And so, yeah, choose devotions that are meat, that have meat in them, because I believe even little children have the capacity for the deep things of God. So that's number six. And we just want to cultivate a habit of them spending time with God. And I wouldn't check in and say, "Did you spend time with God?" or anything like that. They just know that this is everybody's 20 minutes to... Everybody goes to their room and they have their 20 minutes of devotions time with God before the evening progresses. And so I think that's a great idea. A lot of people like to have their children do their quiet time in the morning, and I think that's fine and wonderful. And a friend of mine always did that with her children. But I liked having an evening time where we just kind of took a break from everything. Everybody had their moment. I usually went outside and did my Bible study in the outdoors. That's also another option. I can have them all go outside and have their own little quiet time in an area where they want to sit and read in a tree or whatever. So that's a great habit. Again, we're talking about a habit of spending time with God, making it a habit, a regular habit. And I think it's a good thing to cultivate in your children's lives.
Jeannie Fulbright So let's move on to number four... I'm sorry, number seven! The final manner in how to cultivate our children's heart for God. And that is to cultivate an environment that respects our children's divine curiosity. And again, we know our children are persons, they are divine, eternal souls that are going to live forever. And their curiosity--as Charlotte Mason constantly says, and as we see in our own children--their curiosity is divinely given. And we should allow in their schedule, in their lives, time for them to pursue their interests. This is why we have short lessons. This is why we have afternoons free so that our children can pursue their special studies and develop new interests and follow the inclinations and the curiosities that are bubbling within, and allow the Holy Spirit to germinate new ideas and ingenious thoughts that they come upon in their reading and grow them into maybe a passion. And we can help them cultivate their interests, but we have to make sure that we are not trying to lead those interests. That if we see they have a curiosity, that we don't take control. And this is, of course, the hovering parent that Charlotte Mason says we must, must not be! That we need to allow our children to experience self-education because that's the only true and valuable kind of education. We're not taking their interests and making them our own. We need to take a step back, but also give them opportunities to grow in those interests. Provide them books or videos, or maybe even an opportunity to go somewhere to learn more about something. But we need to let it be something they are pursuing independently. We don't want to make it a chore or a parent-led interest is what I'm trying to say.
Jeannie Fulbright This really all about self-education. One of the great philosophers on education of the past, John Locke, says, "Of the natural qualities which children possess, curiosity and liberty seem to guide the young pupil most. Curiosity motivates children toward knowledge and through it, all children are led to questioning about most anything." But what's really important here is that "liberty." That means freedom to pursue their interests really leads children. It really motivates them. It keeps them motivating. This self-motivated learner is motivated when they have liberty--they have freedom--to pursue their divine curiosity, and it is not becoming something the parent is overseeing or over-involved in. Charlotte, Mason says, The divine curiosity, which should have been an equipment for life..." Essentially their divine curiosity should have equipped them for living--for life, for their future, for their calling, for their purpose, for their vocation. She says, "The divine curiosity, which should have been an equipment for life, hardly survives early school days." And why is that? Because we take control and we want them to follow our schedule, and we want them to study our curriculum that we have chosen for them, instead of allowing them that freedom, that time to pursue the divine interests that God is bubbling up in their hearts.
Jeannie Fulbright And so these are the seven steps to cultivating an environment that cultivates our children's hearts for the Lord. And I just want to end with one of my favorite quotes from Charlotte Mason. She says, "Every human soul has capacity for the knowledge of God. Not for mathematics, perhaps, nor for science, nor for politics, but for the vast knowledge which floods the soul like a sea to swim in: the knowledge of God." And so that concludes this two-part series on cultivating your children's heart for the Lord, but it also concludes my episodes for season seven. I think Julie may have one more after me. But please do look for me online; I would love to connect with you. And please check my website for all the amazing Charlotte Mason products that are coming out soon--some of them this summer, some in the fall. But I know you will love them and I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully I'll see you soon. God bless.
Jeannie Fulbright Hey, a couple more things: Do you wish you had a Charlotte Mason mentor? Someone to keep you focused on the things that matter--the Lord, His word, and prayer, and habit-training, and living books, nature study, and, of course, the most neglected thing of all, self-care? Well, I have the perfect mentor for you: the Charlotte Mason heirloom planner. It is much more than a planner. It's a guide and a mentor and a place to chronicle your treasured moments and memories. All the things you want to remember and keep sacred and special from this homeschool journey. Check it out on my website at JeannieFulbright.com, and learn about that and so many of the other Charlotte Mason curriculum and tools that I have created to make your homeschool journey the richest and most fulfilling experience of your life. Thanks again for listening to the Charlotte Mason Show.
Jeannie Fulbright If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom, and let us know what you thought of today's episode. And don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve healthcare. You can trust to learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConvention.com/MediShare.
Jeannie Fulbright Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? I would love for you to come. On my website I have a special coupon code that you can use when you register. The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year with amazing speakers, hundreds of workshops to help you homeschool well, and the largest curriculum exhibit halls in the United States. People travel from all over the United States to Missouri, South Carolina, Ohio, California, and Texas to find encouragement, friendship, and curriculum. Be sure to go to my website JeannieFulbright.com for your coupon code. And when you're at the convention, please come by my booth and say "hello" because I love meeting homeschoolers in real life. It's always fun to have new homeschool friends. So thank you so much for listening and I do hope to see you at the convention. Have a blessed rest of the week.