S9 E17 | Habits for a Sacred Home (Jeannie Fulbright with Jennifer Pepito)

S9 E17 | Habits for a Sacred Home (Jeannie Fulbright with Jennifer Pepito)

Show Notes:

Jeannie talks with Jennifer Pepito about her new book Habits for a Sacred Home, sharing Biblical truths, homeschool wisdom, and insights for Kingdom Living.

About Jennifer

Jennifer Pepito has seven children and has been homeschooling for twenty-five years. She has graduated five children from her program, with two students earning honors degrees from their preferred university and one pursuing a Juris Doctorate. When she discovered that her second daughter had learning disabilities, Jennifer became an avid student of child development, learning from innovators and researchers such as Carol Stock Kranowitz, Gordon Neufeld, John Taylor Gatto, Jane Healy, Maria Montessori, Kim John Payne, and Charlotte Mason. The Peaceful Press resources were born out of these years of research.

Jennifer has a passion for equipping families to homeschool in a way that is developmentally appropriate, spiritually nourishing, and based on proven methods of education. She doesn’t want you just to homeschool. She wants to help you enjoy the homeschooling journey and learn with your children in ways that build connected families. Her book, Mothering by the Book can help you overcome the fears that steal that joy so you can savor motherhood.

Jennifer is a Simplicity Parenting Coach and a Certified Life Coach. She continually researches education and child development to ensure that Peaceful Press families are getting the best resources based on current research about learning while continuing to integrate the time-honored educational philosophy put forward by Charlotte Mason and Maria Montessori.

She’s regularly contributed to the Wild and Free homeschool community and has been published in several online journals and print articles.

About Jeannie

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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Show Transcript:

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.

Here's a riddle for you parents: Homeschoolers love them. Enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? It's the Tuttle Twins books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins helps you teach your kids about entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, the Golden Rule, and more. Get a discounted set of books with free workbooks today at TuttleTwins.com/Homeschool. That's TuttleTwins.com/Homeschool. And now on to today's show.

Jeannie Fulbright Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode of The Charlotte Mason Show. I'm Jeannie Fulbright and I am so excited because we have a very special guest today, Jennifer Pepito, who is an amazing author, a seasoned homeschooler, and I would say a mentor to homeschoolers. She's been a mentor to homeschoolers for many years. Jennifer, welcome to the show.

Jennifer Pepito Thanks for having me, Jeannie. It's such an honor and a delight to get to chat with you.

Jeannie Fulbright I know, I'm so excited. So, Jennifer, I really feel like you've been a pillar in the homeschool community, especially the Charlotte Mason homeschool community or those leaning in that direction. And so can you share a little bit about your family and your homeschool journey with us?

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, I've been homeschooling for over 26 years. I started when my oldest daughter was three. I went to a book club that was based on The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, and really fell in love with that idea of having more of a lifestyle of learning, as opposed to setting my child down at a table with workbooks. And so throughout my years of mothering my seven children, I've been just so delighted to be able to engage in nature study and living science and reading living books to them, and watercolor painting... It's been a glorious journey. And my oldest now is 30, my youngest is 15, so I've been homeschooling for quite a few years now and live with my husband in Northern California, where we pursue ministry and spend time with our family and sail our little sailboat.

Jeannie Fulbright Oh, fun! You sail. I love it, my husband and I also sail. That's great. So you've been homeschooling for 26 years and I actually have a 30 year old, so I've homeschooled the same amount of time. I have fewer children, so my homeschool journey ended quite a while ago. I'm an empty nester. Since I'm not homeschooling right now, you are still homeschooling — How do you feel like the landscape has changed from our early days, our early years of homeschooling and what do you feel like the biggest challenge is for today's homeschool parent?

Jennifer Pepito You know, I really think the biggest challenge for today's homeschool parent is too many choices. Like, when we started homeschooling, there weren't a lot of options, and so we were able to just more focus on reading out loud to our children. Like, I remember, Laurie Bluedorn saying that, "You should read out loud your children for up to two hours a day". And so in that time period, you really could. Like, we didn't have so many things vying for our attention. But now there are so many curriculum choices and so many extracurricular activities that you could choose, plus our cell phones. And so I think it's really hard for families to do that deep work of really being present with your children and reading out loud and and watercolor painting or looking at, you know, field guides to nature together. There were so many ways that our early homeschool years were so much deeper than our later ones, because there were just fewer distractions.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah, I definitely see that. I felt like we had a lot of distractions because computer games had just come out and we had like Reader Rabbit and all these, you know, new little games that were out that were somewhat of a distraction. But today's landscape, I feel that technology is really making it so much harder to slow, to be slow, to slow down and find that time to just observe the world, to be observant and spend time with your family.

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. It's so true. I really feel for moms now because it's so hard. Like for me, I didn't get a cell phone until I was in my 30s, or for sure, like a smartphone until my late 30s. And yet it's still a real struggle for me to work on my attention and work on my focus. I just, like last night, put on some screen time limits for myself because it's so easy for it to become absorbing. And I think for moms today, it's even harder. Like they didn't necessarily have the years of foundational habits of not having it. And so, I know that moms listening, they want to be present with their children. And in my Restoration Home Community, there's actually a lot of moms who are not on social media at all or they set screen time limits or, you know, we have little habit challenges like, don't pick up your phone until you've done your morning challenge, or don't pick up your phone until you've done your morning time or prayer time or whatever, because it is just such a draw. It's built to be addictive and —

Jeannie Fulbright And a habit.

Jennifer Pepito Oh yeah, it's built to be an addictive habit, and it takes a lot of intentionality to just steward that so that we can still be present with our children and really enjoy and savor these fleeting years. I can never get back those beautiful years of, you know, sitting around the table together and watercolor painting. Like, hopefully I'll get to do with my grandchildren. But my youngest is 15 now and he's a busy young man and he's doing some hybrid classes. And so, those days are gone for me with my little ones and I think it's important to really savor that.

Jeannie Fulbright It's so fleeting and when you look back at all of the years that you homeschooled, it's hard to remember the specific, precious moments that you had. But it's so important. I feel like this is the first generation that's had to struggle with so much distraction that we really do need to steward it, like you said. It is such an important thing to figure out exactly how we can ensure that we are creating those special memories, we're creating those those precious moments, those those moments that our children will look back on their homeschool years and remember the times they spent together. I love when my children come together for Christmas and we're all home, and they talk about things we did together and places we went. And you know, they love to make fun of me and how strict I was. That's always a real funny conversation. But it's really just... We had precious moments and we've got to make sure we preserve those. [00:07:40][63.8]

Jennifer Pepito It's so true. It's just such a short time, and staying connected to our families is one of the best ways to pass on our values to them. And so I think it's really important that we pay attention to how present we really are with our children.

Jeannie Fulbright Yes, exactly. You have to be intentional about it and you have to be disciplined about it, which is probably something that's hard to do when you're just in the midst of the chaos of a busy homeschool day. It's kind of nice to get a little bit of something that takes your mind off of the chaos but it's really important that we develop some great habits. So you have written, well, you've written many books, curriculum, but I want to talk specifically about your newest book. And I actually really loved your last book, the book Mothering by the Book. I just felt like that was such a precious... just an experience to read that book, and I loved it, and I just can't recommend it enough. And you have a new book, Habits for the Sacred Home, which I love. I love the title, and we'll talk more about that. But I just feel like you have so much transformative wisdom in your books, and I can feel, just really the Holy Spirit leading you as you write it and just the truths that you unearth and share with homeschool moms. And so I'm just curious: what motivated you to write both of these books.

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, I love that question because in a way they are kind of a set. In my life as a mom, early on, I had a lot of good habits and a lot of self-discipline, but a lot of it was coming from a place of fear. Like I was afraid of, you know, my children repeating my mistakes, I was afraid of not being a good enough mother, and so there was some fear underlying these great habits. And in Mothering by the Book, I talk about my journey of overcoming fear and just learning to be loved, learning to trust that God loved me and he had good plans for me so that I could parent my children from that place of being loved, instead of a place of trying to prove my worth. But I've also seen in culture that there's been this shift away from legalism and a shift towards being more gracious or grace filled, but there's almost been a "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" in terms of good habits or spiritual disciplines.

Jeannie Fulbright It's like a pendulum swing. All the way in the opposite rather than in the middle.

Jennifer Pepito Oh, the pendulum swing, for sure. Yeah, so a lot of those homeschool moms who, you know, were raised like probably a little bit older than my oldest daughter, they were maybe raised by strict parents and so they're like, "I'm never going to tell my kids what to do. I'm going to let them make choices." And then we get 15 years down the road and these children are full of insecurity, they're open to really dangerous ideology that can destroy them physically, and I think that we need to return actually to some spiritual disciplines that have the power to save our culture, to save our civilization. But we don't have to return to them out of fear, we don't have to return to them out of proving ourselves so we can get into heaven or something, but more like, these are some good ideas that people in history have put into practice and made an impact for good in their culture, and so we can look at that. You know, there's a saying that says, "those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it." And so we don't have to do that. We can actually look at some of these women of faith in history, look at some of the, you know, because I actually talk about Saint Benedict and the Rule of Saint Benedict.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah, I saw that.

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, he was living through the dark ages, through absolute paganism, and there was no order and people were killing Christians and he lived through that season and brought all kinds of peace. And many say, saved civilization because he just set up a rule of life that was actually not based on legalism or fear, it was based on a season where he really spent intimate, consecrated time with the Lord and came away with these ideas that were gentle and balanced, but also created some healthy boundaries for a culture to thrive. And we need that today. We need some healthy boundaries so that our culture can sustain and thrive.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah, I so agree. Talking about fear, when I go to conferences, one of my talks that is often requested as a talk on... That ends up talking about, what are the things that drag down the homeschool mom and I have always felt like fear is probably the biggest enemy of the homeschool family. It's the biggest enemy of everybody. But fear is a hard master and we need to break free from fear and find peace and joy in our lives and not live under that yoke of fear. And I feel like that yoke of fear is put on to us by really well-meaning people and well-meaning ideas, but they just make us feel like we're not enough. Like we're not doing enough, like we're not succeeding or we're failing in some way. So, I would ask you, the homeschool moms that you talk to regularly, what do you feel like one of their great... the greatest fears that they face today?

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. You know, I think fears can be so nebulous, like, what is it that's really underneath this fear? Because moms will get very stressed about, like, am I doing enough homeschool activities with my children? Am I teaching them enough? Are my children are falling behind? And you look at a fear like that and you think, I mean, what is behind this? Because I've read studies that say that you can teach your child everything they need to know for success in high school in only 2 or 3 years of formal skill study. And so where does a fear like this come from? I think so many of the fears.. if you as a mom, just took time to reflect on it and sort of try to understand where it's coming from, then it would reveal that, oh wow, this is nothing. This is a shadow. This is not a true thing to be afraid of at all. But so often moms, there's probably often some kind of an unmet need in childhood, like a lack of significance or maybe not enough financial provision. And so they live their lives almost triggering back to those childhood experiences instead of giving it to the Lord. Because, you know, God is always calling us into the life of faith. And I read recently in the scriptures, it's talking about — and I don't remember the reference — but it's talking about those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. "You will not inherit the Kingdom of God if you're a fornicator, an idolater." The fearful. The fearful is in that list of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God, which is so sobering for us as moms, because I think we often just give ourselves a pass on that. But really, God is calling us to a life of faith and I think that the more we are afraid of things, the more we give them, in some way some power or energy to speak to us... And in my own life, I mean, I've had to face, you know, I've had a child with special needs, I had a child with an eating disorder, like all of these things that I would have been afraid of, and yet God led me through that journey. Just recently, I was talking to God about some experiences that I felt like I hadn't won at or I hadn't succeeded at, and I felt like, you know, what he kind of showed me is that life is a journey. When you look at the Psalm 23, you know, "He leads me beside still waters. Even though I walk through the the valley of the shadow of death, he is with me." And I think if we as mothers would start to look at our lives with our children as a little bit more of a hike with God, or a journey with God. Yes, you are called to raise your children well. Yes, it is a duty from the Lord, but it's also a sanctifying process where God is teaching us to trust him in the midst of it. And if you put too much weight on like, oh, I'm a successful mom if I get this outcome, you're probably not actually going on a trust and faith journey with God. Because I think early on, Jeannie, we were told that if we would do this and that we would have this or that outcome. And I know lots of homeschool moms — intentional, dedicated, godly, faithful homeschool moms — who have not had that outcome that they dreamed of. And even some of the people that I refer to in the book like, Edith Schaefer, she was very faithful, very intentional as a mom. Her daughter, Susan Schaefer Macaulay, writes beautiful books that encourage all of us as Charlotte Mason homeschool moms, and then her son Frankie writes these mean spirited books, sort of slamming his parents, but that doesn't mean that Edith failed. Like, Edith was faithful and actually, at the end of her life, her son wrote an obituary or an editorial saying, "You won, mom. Your example won me over. I believe." And so I think that as moms, we just need to start taking courage to keep doing what we feel is right without fear and also without changing our theology or hating ourselves if we don't see the results we are expecting.

Jeannie Fulbright That's so true. I want to go back to what you said about, in the scriptures, where it talks about those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. And I just want our listeners to understand that when God is talking about the kingdom of God, he's talking about living a kingdom life. The kingdom of God is now and the joy and the peace and everything that Jesus promised us, that we can live in that. And Jesus has promised us salvation to those who believe, who call upon him, who know him as their Lord, confess him as Lord. And you are saved. You're going to heaven. But you forfeit so much of the joy and peace and love and all wonderful things — the happiness, I would say, even... Just the the ability to just laugh at the days to come. If you live under the yoke of those things mentioned in that scripture, and fear is one of them. Fear is one of those things that can rob us from living the kingdom lifestyle.

Jennifer Pepito It's so true. It's just so easy to fall into. It's Revelation 21:8 and yeah, it's so easy to fall into that and so important to learn to take our thoughts captive and continue to put our trust in the Lord because he loves us. He has good plans.

Jeannie Fulbright Amen. So, I want to talk a little bit more about this really exciting book that just came out, the Habits for a Sacred Home. This book is filled with so much wisdom and honesty. You talk about your own family struggles, and you talk about your failures, and you talk about your successes, and you talk about God's journey in your life, but you also go deep into the historical figures that especially women, but also the, you know, the Benedictine model that you talk about. But you talk about the faithful women and you talk about their histories. But I want to ask you, you called it Habits for a Sacred Home. What do you mean by sacred?

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, I love that question because I don't want it to throw people off, do you know what I mean? Because it can sound kind of big. Like, what is this sacred home? Like, I have a home where the laundry is dirty and my kids are peeing on the floor.

Jeannie Fulbright It doesn't look sacred, it looks like a mess.

Jennifer Pepito Yes. And sacred just means consecrate or set apart to God. And so I think that most of us, as believing mothers could say, yeah, my home is consecrated to God, it is my sacred home. And even for those secular moms, like you still are probably looking for a set apart home. You're probably still looking for a place that maybe looks a little different than the culture at large. And that's what this is about, is just starting to realize that it's okay. I think that sometimes we can feel very powerless to shake culture, especially the culture of our children. And yet, if you look at those people in history who really save civilization... There's another book called How the Irish Saved Civilization that really highlights how the Irish monastics were, you know, writing down the Book of Kells and and keeping the scriptures and keeping... even garden, garden seeds, like some simple things like that. And so, you know, just that concept that as homeschool moms, as we read books out loud to our children, we are saving literature. As we help them to appreciate nature, we are saving the natural world. As we as we pray with them, we're saving their spiritual lives. So there's so much power. And obviously, you know, there's this dichotomy kind of, or this paradox, where on the one hand, it's all God and it's all grace, and it's not our own works that saves us, but it's all God. But yet there's also this sanctification process where we partner with him and we say yes to God. Like, I've been reading... it's a course by Tsh Oxenreider called The Rule of Life, and she says that, "Our purpose as humans is to become saints, or to become like Jesus and an easy definition of a saint is a person who continually says yes to God." And so I think that's almost sort of the goal with a sacred home is that we're continually saying yes to God. And some of the habits for a sacred home are just habits that create more space to say yes to God.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah, that doesn't feel as overwhelming as the idea of, okay, this is the habits for a sacred home that I'll never be able to do. But it is doable. I want to read a sentence. It's kind of towards the end of the book, but I really love this. It says, "It is his presence that creates a sacred home, not our work. Our habits are just what we do as a response to his love." I love that. I guess this was two sentences. That was beautiful, Jennifer. And I want to ask you... let's talk about habits. What do you mean when you use the word habit?

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. You know, there are basic ways that we spend our days. Atomic Habits by James Clear is a favorite. And we all have habits, whether our habit is to get up in the morning and spend hours on social media and then get on our unmade bed and let our children eat like sugar pops and then watch TV all day —that's just a habit. Do you know what I mean? Or whether our habit is to get up and look at the sun and maybe read a Psalm, or maybe do some journaling and make our bed, like we all have habits one way or the other. And so there are, you know, basic spiritual disciplines that I believe make more space for us to experience God's presence. If you always have the noise of social media or the television on, you're going to have a really hard time getting that inspiration that only comes from God. I believe that a lot of the ideas that I have had for curriculum or for a book or for, you know, my Sunday school curriculum, things like that, I believe they come from God. And the only way we can get those ideas is if we create some space. But we can't create space if we don't have some basic spiritual disciplines. So, you know, for instance, my spiritual discipline of reading scripture means that I'm better able to identify the voice of God. I have a better idea of what, you know, what a godly world looks like. And I also have an understanding of some of the struggles and difficulties that are involved in the life of being a human. You know, if you read the Psalms, you see this picture that life is not perfect, that everybody struggles, everyone feels down sometimes. And so then when you go through those seasons, you have more of a realistic worldview and you can say, okay, I'm feeling sad, just like David was feeling sad. But I put my hope in the Lord because he's the maker of heaven and earth, you know? So I think that some of these basic habits really become kind of like a railroad track, like Charlotte Mason talked about how, "habits are like the rails that keep us going." That's what these habits become is sort of rails that help us live a more visionary and uphill life that can really bring restoration to culture.

Jeannie Fulbright So are you saying that sadness can become a habit?

Jennifer Pepito I wasn't actually referring to that. I was just saying more that sadness is a normal human emotion. But if we've made a practice of reading the scriptures, then we know that it's normal, and we know that we can continue to hope in the Lord even when we're sad. Now, that could be a whole nother topic, Jeannie, because I'm actually reading right now the book Four Habits of Joy-Filled People and so I think you could actually make a case for making a joy habit or making a positivity habit, you know? So I think that you could definitely make a case for some of our emotions being habitual and having the ability to change our emotions by focusing on different things.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah, I would say because habits are neural pathways that we've developed in our brain, and I would say that thoughts are part of our habits, our thoughts, and whether they're negative thoughts, you know, beating ourselves up or always comparing ourselves or whatever it is, these negative thoughts can become habitual. And I think sadness, you know, there's a lot of different kinds of sadness, different ways that we feel sad... I definitely think that could be habitual and it probably can be rewired in our brain too. So what was that book called? The Joyful Habits?

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, Four Habits of Joy-Filled People by Marcus Warner. I think there might be two authors, Chris Coursey and Marcus Warner, and they also have like Four Habits of Joyful Marriages. So they have a whole series on that concept. And that's something I'm really curious about right now. My word for the year was happy, so...

Jeannie Fulbright I love it. So what are some unhealthy habits that you think most homeschoolers struggle with? And how can you replace them with better habits?

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. Probably some of our worst habits are the lack of reflection that leads us to be reactionary instead of responsive. So, for instance, one of my bad habits was being afraid. And then instead of taking time to say, okay, I feel afraid. I yelled at my husband because I felt afraid, and I felt afraid because of this experience that happened to me. And there's actually a book called The Invitation by Tony Stoltzfus, I think it's like in a basket here, and it talks about just this way of kind of drilling down underneath our feelings that we understand because so many of our actions come from core lies. And so then we have a hard time actually putting good habits into place because we're being reactionary based on that lack of reflection. This is why actually reading Mothering by the Book is almost like a really good precursor to reading Habits for a Sacred Home, because in Mothering by the Book, you do start to identify some of those negative thought patterns and identify, you know, maybe take some time to grieve or forgive so that you have more of like an open space to build healthy habits. You know, for me, like fear would have been a very negative habit that I would have imagined a worse situation. And so the way to counteract a habit like that is reading more scripture, taking more time to journal or reflect and understand what's underneath and then putting into practice better uses of my time. Like if I am fearful of being judged and thought less than by my co-op friends when they're coming over to my house, maybe I needed to spend some time reflecting on why that was instead of doing online shopping. And there's a chart in one of the chapters — it kind of does that whole "instead of" because I think we actually complicate our lives a lot and create a lot of instability when we kind of numb out instead of building a better habit.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah. The numbing out is what I think social media does for us, is it kind of numbs us out. But going back to what you said about the fear and yelling at your husband, there was a point in, in my homeschooling when I was really, really working through ridding myself of fear and that reactionary, fear based, process. And I think there was a time when I was fearful and I yelled at my children, and then my children responded to the yelling, and then that became a habit of yelling at them to get them to do what I wanted. And so my husband and I actually broke that habit because we started paying our children a dollar if we ever yelled at them. And all the children that heard us yelling also got a dollar. And so we were out like a lot of money that first week. It was retraining the habit of not yelling. But what happened was, is I realized after I got out of the habit of yelling to my children or yelling at my children... And I've had people say, "Oh, why don't you pay them 25 cents?" No, it had to hurt. It needed to hurt me. A dollar hurt, but you know, paying $4 every time I yelled hurt a lot. So it was really not about them and what they got, it was about me being trained, retrained. But I feel like what I started doing after that, is I started really trying to figure out what was it that made me yell, what was it that made me just react that way? And you have to stop. And it's really, really hard to try to figure out, why did I yell? Well, because he made me angry. Why did he make you angry? Because he did this. And why was that a problem? Because then this happened, and I'm afraid this is going to happen. I'm afraid he's going to turn out like this, and then I'm afraid that I'm going to be this terrible mom. Whatever it might be, I'm afraid people are going to come over and they're going to see this, or they're going to notice this. It could be fear of man, it could be fear of the future, it could be... But it's all based on a lack of faith. It's all based on the belief that God does not have your future in his hands and your children's future in their hands, and he has a plan and purpose for them. And any time you're reacting, it's because you're not living in the faith that God loves your children more than you love them. He loves you more than you can imagine, and he has a plan and purpose for you, and he wants you to live in that, as I was saying, that kingdom life where you are walking in faith and don't have to be angry or upset or anxious or sad.

Jennifer Pepito That's so good, Jeannie. It's so true because it's like if moms could kind of internalize that we are loved, that we are safe, then it'd be really, I think, so much easier to create an intentional life with our families. But it's like when we start trying to do the intentional life as a way to keep ourselves safe, that's when we run into these walls, because the motive is actually unproductive, it's based on fear. But when we can start to just recognize that God loves us, that he's with us, that he will never leave us or forsake us, then we can do really proactive things for culture and for our families, just from this more beautiful, childlike place, which was a big point of Mothering by the Book.

Jeannie Fulbright Yes, I love Mothering by the Book, for those of you who are listening, which Jennifer really... It was so raw. It was so honest. I just don't think I've ever read a book by a homeschool mom that was that honest about the hardship that they faced and how God brought them through and just, you know, it was.. To me, it was like a balm for my soul as a homeschool mom to read Mothering by the Book. And I love that this Habits for a Sacred Home follows it in such a perfect way too. As you said, our habits are just what we do as a response for his love. It's a response to not living... We don't have to live in fear. We don't have to live in anxiety. We don't have to live under the pressure of a world... About our culture, our church culture, our homeschool culture. I grew up in a huge homeschool community, and I feel like there was a homeschool culture that sometimes could be oppressive. And we have to break free from letting ourselves be pulled down by that kind of fear.

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Jeannie Fulbright I want to just share with our readers the chapter titles of the different habits that you talk about in your book. Habits of work, habits of stewardship, habits of prayer, habits of order, habits of simplicity, habits of stability, habits of hospitality, habits of community and habits of balance. And those are beautiful habits and the way that you explore these and help us to understand how to implement these is so gentle. And I just love the way you write, because it is so gentle and inspiring and you don't feel that weight of fear, and that, "If you don't do this, this is going to happen." You don't feel that, but I feel like so much writing that we read even, supposedly encouragement for homeschool moms, oftentimes ends up making us feel oppressed. And I just want to thank you for just being led by the Lord and exploring habits, these habits that moms can change in their homeschool, that parents can use in their lives to, as you said, bring a sacred home into our homeschool. And I want to go to one of the habits that you talk about, because I really loved some of the really cool things that you talked about in this specific habit, and that's the habit of order. One of the things you talked about is that, "Submitting to God is the first step towards establishing order in your home," and submitting to God is really important — knowing God's Word, knowing what submitting to God looks like is actually really important. And I was really struck by a concept that you talk about in this book, and it's a concept that I've always adhered to, always considered, always believed was really important. And I don't hear a lot of people teaching on this concept. And as you said, maybe the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, but it is the concept of sowing and reaping which I feel is not talked about enough, but is extremely vital for kingdom living. It's extremely vital, it's essential for us to understand sowing and reaping, for us to experience peace and joy. And so I am just going to read a couple of the things that you have said in this book. Okay, here we go. This is beautiful: "We may not be destined for hell but the law..." and I'm skipping over some some parts of it, but I'm just going to the part after the clause, "We may not be destined for hell, but the law of sowing and reaping is still in effect. If we gossip, people will gossip about us. If we hate our parents, our children will hate us. If we are disrespectful to our husband, our children will be disrespectful to us. Believers who know they are safe and forgiven can become casual about goodness and obedience. It becomes easy, then, to break rules without trying too hard to obey. When we start doing wrong, the practice escalates, becoming a habit. Wrongdoing hardens a person." And then, later on in the book, you talk about mercy triumphs over judgment. And I do want to say that I was very much struck by this concept of sowing and reaping with the scripture in Revelation that talks about, "Judge not and you will not be judged because by the measure that you judge others, that will be measured out to you." And it's a concept that if you judge, you will be judged by that same measure. So I remember just, you know, as a young mom just trying so hard... having to repent every time I judged some other mom — how they were parenting or how they were homeschooling or what they were doing. It's like, oh Lord, I repent. I repent of... Or, you know, a mom that had a rebellious child. I repent, Lord, because that judgment — Jesus promises us. It is a spiritual law. It's not like he's coming to punish us for it, it's literally a spiritual law — sowing and reaping. If you sow judgment, you will be judged and whatever you sew, you will reap. And towards the end the book in the habits of balance, you write, "Mercy triumphs over judgment," and you say, "If we are doing it out of fear or with a spirit of anger and judgment toward the wicked, we will reap the fruit of that anger." If we are doing it in pride, thinking we are better than others, God will resist us because the Bible does tell us very clearly, a spiritual law is that God resists the prideful but gives grace to the humble. And then you say, "This emphasis on judging others only ends up bringing more judgment on ourselves." And so I just want to ask you just a little bit more about this sowing and reaping. What do you want the moms to know about that spiritual law?

Jennifer Pepito You know, partly what brought this up for me in such a big way was having adult children because for much of my life, I was able to look at the mistakes my parents had made and sort of think about the ways I would do things better and even sort of judge them for what they've done wrong. And there was some things that they had missed the boat on but I've heard of lots of people who actually separate from their parents because of similar things and then they're surprised when their kids separate from them. And I think that was a big part of what I was thinking about is like, you're never going to be a cool enough, perfect enough parent that your kids won't think something bad about you. Like, no matter how hard you try, your kids are going to have their own thoughts about you. You will probably let your kids down in some way, whether... Like I thought my parents didn't do enough in some ways. Some of my kids have felt like I did too much. And so I think that one way or the other, it's just human nature to have some disappointment towards your parents. But if you, as a mom, as a young mom, can start to have more grace for your parents, and you know, I highly recommend doing some kind of forgiveness process privately by yourself where you just sort of grieve, you know... It's okay to grieve the ways they messed up. We don't have to brush things under the rug. It's okay to acknowledge that some of the things that they did had a big impact on your life. In Mothering by the Book, I talk about how my parents were really busy, they were overwhelmed, and so I wasn't being watched very carefully and I got molested. And so that was important for me to acknowledge the pain of that, but after taking some time to grieve that and acknowledge that, I needed to say in my own prayer closet with the Lord, I forgive you, Mom and Dad, for the way this hurt me. And as I did that, my relationship with my parents grew so much closer. Like my mom actually came to me after I had done some forgiveness like that and apologized for not watching me better. And they did their best, they were very intentional, really tried hard to be great parents, but we just all make mistakes. And that's the message of this section on sowing and reaping. And then at the end on judgment, it's like, if we can't learn to extend grace, especially to our parents, our kids aren't going to extend a lot of grace to us because there's a lot of sowing and reaping effect. And if you think that you can be such a perfect parent that it's okay for you to judge your parents, but no one's going to judge you, you will probably be mistaken. And I love being in relationship with my children. I'm so thankful that I have a friendship with my adult children. And so it's something I want to continue nurturing. And so I think it's been really worthwhile to model that by extending grace to my parents, my in-laws, even though, they, like me, make mistakes.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah. I think it's is important for us to be mindful of how, what kind of environment, what kind of words are coming out of our mouth because we will reap — our children will model our behavior. And also the judgment and all of these things are spiritual laws and in addition to that, if you show mercy, God will show mercy to you. We need mercy. We need mercy from the Lord because we make mistakes all the time. And so we want to show mercy to our children, to our homeschool friends, to their children, to our church friends, to everyone. We need to show mercy because they're humans, and they're going to do things all the time that are to us, offensive or annoying. And so it's so important that we, at that moment, take that opportunity: okay, Lord, this is a moment where I am just choosing to show mercy to them, and we walk in that spirit of having mercy for the failings of others so that — not just so that, but because it's a better way to live your life, it's kingdom living — but also because we need God's mercy, and he shows mercy to those who show mercy, and judgment to those who show judgment. And so I think it's just an incredibly important spiritual law that as Christians, we're not taught very often, but I think it's just really powerful and it really can change the nature of our lives.

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. And I think, you know, forgiveness is definitely a core of that ability to show mercy. And sometimes we have to show mercy to ourselves. Like, there might be moms listening who feel like, oh my goodness, I've judged everybody and now my kids don't want to talk to me anymore. And you don't have to stay in that place of being bitter and hard and disappointed in life. You can actually take time, even now, to just forgive yourself, maybe forgive your parents, your children or whoever you've carried some hurt because bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die. And it just creates so much chaos. And even I would venture that bitterness is almost the first step towards mental illness. And so I think, you know, being really, really intentional about forgiving, whether it's yourself, your children, your parents, that you don't start building up kind of a wall between you and God because of offense.

Jeannie Fulbright Yes. Yeah, that's really a powerful thought about bitterness being the precursor to mental illness because it is. The Bible talks about, "Do not let a foothold of bitterness grow up in you." And it has devastating repercussions. When I had cancer, one of the things that I did is I wrote down, I sat down, I prayed and I asked the Lord — I know my listeners who've heard my podcast have heard the story — but I ask the Lord to give me the names and situations of every single person that I still held any kind of resentment towards, any kind of unforgiveness towards. And this list — it went back to kindergarten. I mean, it was long. People who'd hurt me in elementary school. I was kind of a little bit bullied because I was just a little bit of an airhead, so there was just so many. There was this long list and there were actual real bullies that I was bullied by, but they bullied everybody. But I just had this long list and just people had forgotten that I even... God brought all of these people to my mind. And I went down that list, and I made the choice to forgive each one of those people. I just made the choice because forgiveness is a choice. It's not a feeling, it's a choice. And as you make that choice, God brings the feelings of forgiveness eventually. Sometimes you have to make that choice over and over again if it was a really offensive issue, but it is freeing. It's like cleansing your body of that poison you drank. So I think it's powerful.

Jennifer Pepito It's so good, Jeannie. I love that. Very powerful.

Jeannie Fulbright So one of the things you say in the habit of order, you asked this question: "Can you learn to be in a close and listening relationship with God so you can navigate living according to the Word of God thousands of years after it was written?" And I wanted to ask you how can these homeschool moms develop a listening relationship with God? And I want to also just hearken back to your book, Mothering by the Book, which I felt like you gave some really great instructions for that with journaling, but I would love to hear what you would have to say to our listeners about developing that close and listening relationship with God.

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. And there's a book that was actually really helpful for me called The Art of Listening Prayer by Seth Barnes that kind of lays out some things about that. There's a podcast with Phylicia MasonHeimer on the Restoration Home podcast about it, because it's like all through Scripture, and I know there are some denominations that believe that the canon of Scripture is closed and so we won't hear from God anymore, but all through Scripture, God did speak to his people. Like he said, you know, to Joseph, go to Egypt. He told Noah to build an ark. He gave them specific directions. Even in the Old Testament, before the temple veil was torn and we were restored to that Eden relationship with God. And so I have a really hard time believing that what we've seen in Scripture, what was modeled throughout the Old and New Testament, is not true for us today. And so I cultivate not listening but, first of all, knowing the Word of God. I spend time reading God's Word so I understand what he sounds like because the Bible says, "My sheep hear my voice and the voice of a stranger, they will not follow." Because that's so often the concern is that people say, "Well, I don't want to presume to know what God saying because people have made mistakes." And that's true, people have made mistakes and you might make a mistake, too. But just because sometimes I misunderstand something my husband says doesn't mean I stop listening for his voice. You know, my husband, I loved this description, he said, "This idea that God will never speak to us again is almost like saying, you marry someone, they write you one love letter and then they never talk to you again." That's not intimacy. That's not relationship. Relationship is an ongoing communication. So I feel like God does want to speak to us, and we just have to start to cultivate kind of a responsive relationship where we're willing to listen. And that does first start with listening to Scripture, you know, really knowing his voice by knowing what the Bible says. But then it's also taking time, like I will write — this has saved my marriage, this practice — is writing out like, if there's something hard going on, I'll write about it in my journal and then I'll just start writing, my name, as if God is speaking to me and write what I feel like he's saying. And you know that practice of getting his grace for a situation or his word for a situation has saved my life as a mother. You know, there's so many situations in motherhood where, especially with adult children, where you really cannot control them anymore. And some situations, you sort of have to have nerves of steel. You just don't always know. Like, I have a child who loves rock climbing. You don't always know that they're going to be safe at the end of the day. I have a child who has a motorcycle. You don't always know if they're going to be safe at the end of the day, and we could be slaves to fear, or we could start listening to the voice of God and what he says about our children, and then be able to hang on to that word instead of listening to the voice of fear. So, I've done a lot of journaling to try and discern what God is saying, you know, even paying attention to our dreams at night or sometimes it might come through a friend. I have a friend who's not... I wouldn't call her a very, sort of charismatic person. She's just a pretty normal, middle of the road Christian, in a way, but she called me one day because she'd had a dream about me, and that dream actually had some significant confirmation about a direction that our family was going to take. And so I think, you know, just paying attention. God is always trying to speak to us, whether it's through nature or through what other people are saying, through a song, through a book we're reading, just having that childlike heart that says, God, I love you. Like Samuel said, "Here I am, Lord." You know, Samuel thought it was Eli speaking to him, but it was God. But Samuel's response was, "Here I am. I'm listening." You know, we want to be that same kind of listening servants who are ready and responsive to the voice of the Master, especially in a world, like I said, where there's so much uncertainty. There's many families who are making a choice to school a different way or move to a different state or be closer to family. There's a lot of uncertainty in the world, and if we're not listening to God, it's going to be hard to filter out all of the news and all of the kind of scary sound bites that are out there and know what is true and what is right for our family.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah, I love that, Jennifer. You know, I again, these are things that I don't think many Christians are talking about is just how God does confirm things. He does speak to us in so many different ways. When my cancer came back and they wanted me to get more of this really hardcore radioactive iodine radiation and I just felt like the people who were praying for me and a lot of them were saying, God's going to heal you, God's going to heal you. And I just said, "I just don't know. I don't know whether I should just go and get this radiation," but all of these people just were really confirming to me that they just felt like God was going to heal me. And then my husband, who is a lawyer, very A plus B equals C, like his faith is very solid, not charismatic, just real, you know... He reads the Psalm every day and then, you know, gets to his lawyer work. But he came to me one morning and he said, "I don't think you're supposed to get more radiation. I just don't think you are." And I just went, "Sure," because I'd never heard of this healing thing or anything. And so my daughter was going to a birthday party and she was spending the night at this birthday, it was a slumber party and she was about eight, and I knew she was going to call me in the middle of the night. I knew it because she would never spend the night at anybody's house the whole night. So I was waiting for the call and at about two in the morning, I got the call. So I was just driving and there was a CD that I had just received. Remember back in the CD days? I got a CD that I had never put in, and I had gotten it in the mail and I just never listened to it, and I decided to put it in. And the first thing that it said on the CD is, "Our God is Jehovah-Jireh, the God of healing." And he started singing this worship music and I thought, okay, God is a God of healing, so I'm just not going to get the radiation. I didn't get the radiation. Six months later, the cancer was gone. So I just feel like God does need... Sometimes, especially when you're living in doubt and you're not sure, God will speak to you. You need to seek him and he will confirm it in many different ways. And I just feel like we don't hear that message often enough — about how God is constantly speaking to us. He wants to talk to you. A lot of your best ideas are not your ideas. They're God's ideas. You think that you're brilliant but that was God. I think we don't realize how often God speaks to us, but he is constantly speaking to us. And I think cultivating knowing and believing that and walking in that is really such a powerful way to to strengthen your homeschool journey, to strengthen in your life.

Jennifer Pepito For sure. One of my life mottos is Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem, "Earth is crammed with heaven, every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes." And you just look at the life of Abraham like he, or Moses. Moses was walking through the, you know, through the fields or through the pasture, whatever, and he saw the burning bush. And for many of us today, we would just hurry on by. We'd be late for an appointment, or our phone would be in our face and we wouldn't even notice, but God is always speaking to us and we don't know if he is going to give one of our children a life saving idea like that. Like Moses saved his people from slavery and will he give us some kind of a life saving idea like that? We'll only know if we're paying attention.

Jeannie Fulbright Yes. That's so true. So, Jennifer, is there anything else you want to share with the listeners of The Charlotte Mason Show before you go?

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, I'm just really excited to be reading through this book with so many. We've been doing it in the Restoration Home Community, and the Storied Motherhood group is reading it this month, and I have a really beautiful poetry pack for mamas who preorder. It's got some of our kind of core Bible verses like Psalm 100 and the Shema, and some core statements of faith in there, like the Apostles Creed, because I feel like we're all cultivating an atmosphere in our home. And I think for Charlotte Mason moms, we understand the importance of atmosphere — it's a third of education. And so, you know, just taking that time, especially this summer, to really think about, what kind of home am I cultivating and how is it contributing to the education of my children? And then doing some of those foundational things we talked about, like working through forgiveness and working on better, even mental habits, is going to set these moms up for a much happier homeschool year in the fall.

Jeannie Fulbright I love that. Jennifer, thank you so much for all you do to contribute to the homeschool community. You have just been such a beautiful mentor and guide for so many homeschool moms, and I'm so excited that we got to talk about your new book and all of the great wisdom that the Lord has given you. Can you let our listeners know how they can connect with you and how they can buy your books and connect with you online?

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. So if they go to HabitsforaSacredHome.com, that's where you can get that preorder bonus. You just put your order number in. And I'm also on the PeacefulPress.Shop for my home school curriculum and Jennifer Pepito on Instagram.

Jeannie Fulbright Okay. Awesome! Great. Well, it was wonderful to have you and I hope we can connect soon. Thank you.

Jennifer Pepito Same. Thanks so much, Jeannie.

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.

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.

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.

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