Cultivate My Heart doesn’t immediately make you say, “This site is about homeschooling!” But the more I thought about a name for this blog, the more I kept coming back to it. But why?
Actually, the idea began last year as a Bible study I was writing. Then cultivating became my One Word for 2017. Before long, I started seeing it everywhere (at least it seemed that way).
I love the definition of cultivate on vocabulary.com:
To cultivate is to nurture and help grow. Farmers cultivate crops, fundraising professionals cultivate donors, and celebrities cultivate their images.
When you cultivate something, you work to make it better. Originally, the word referred only to crops that required tilling, but the meaning has widened. No matter what is being cultivated, the word implies a level of care that is reminiscent of gardening… To cultivate anything requires an attention to detail, an understanding of what is being cultivated, and a lot of patience. (Emphasis Added)
In late March of 2017, I began to get serious about starting a blog, although I had been thinking about doing it for quite a while. I love women’s ministry and homeschooling, so why not combine the two?
And so the seed was planted for the purpose and name of this blog. Ministry to women combined with help for homeschooling: Cultivate My Heart: Nurturing Heart-to-Heart Homeschooling.
When I refer to heart, I’m talking about the greek word καρδία in the Bible. Specifically when it:
denotes the center and seat of spiritual life
a. the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavors
b. of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence
c. of the will and character
d. of the soul so far as it is affected and stirred in a bad way or good, or of the soul as the seat of the sensibilities, affections, emotions, desires, appetites, passions
I’ve heard over the years that homeschooling provides an environment for us to keep the hearts of our children, but that isn’t possible if God doesn’t have our hearts first.
Think about it: How can we speak to the hearts of our children if our relationship with God is a mess? How can we point them to the love of God if all they see is an irritable, tired, and stressed-out mom?
And if our relationship with God isn’t a priority, don’t we risk making our families, our children, and our homeschool the center of our world—a place only God deserves?
I’m not talking about perfection, of course, but a desire to grow in our relationship with God, to love Him and trust His character, to strive to walk “worthy of the manner to which we are called.”
So as homeschooling moms, we have to cultivate our own hearts first so that we will be able to speak to our children’s hearts. We must draw deeply from the well of God’s wisdom and strength in order to give to our children daily.
But it doesn’t stop with just our hearts, Sweet Mama.
When we think about homeschooling, we immediately jump to ideas about teaching reading, writing, math, history, science, and more. Our first questions seems to be, “What subjects do I need to teach? What curriculum should I use?” and those questions continue through high school.
Teaching those subjects dominates a large part of what we call homeschooling, but educating our children at home encompasses so much more than intellectual knowledge. Yes, knowledge is important, but as homeschoolers, we cultivate the whole child—heart, mind, and soul.
There are a lot of smart people who lack character and many knowledgable people who don’t think they need God. Educating only the minds of our children lays a weak, structurally unsound foundation for them to build their lives upon.
The Gardening Theme
With the importance of cultivating hearts in mind—both ours and our children’s—I began to learn a little more about gardening. And the more I discovered about gardening, the more I noticed the parallels to homeschooling. I chose gardening terms for the categories on Cultivate My Heart.
In gardening, grafting unites a smaller stem of one plant—usually chosen for its leaves, flowers, or fruits—onto the stock of another plant selected for its strong roots.
As homeschooling moms, we need to be grafted into the One who is our source of life, strength, and growth. Then we will be able to give our children what they really need. As John 15:5 says,
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Homeschooling is hard work. It requires patience, intentionality, humility, love, and a good sense of humor. There are simply times we want to quit. But God is there to strengthen you, sweet homeschooling mama! You may feel you don’t have time, but it is essential to make time for your relationship with God. Your homeschool will be better for it.
2. The Seedbed
The seedbed is a part of the garden that has been set aside in order to grow seedlings—tender, young plants—into large ones that will be transplanted into the garden when they are ready.
Our children also need a place that gives them opportunities to develop spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. Like the seedbed, our homeschools provide a nurturing environment preparing them for mature and productive lives.
You may have heard comments questioning whether homeschool students can handle the “real world” or if they will be prepared academically or socially. The research shows, though, that the stereotypes of unsocialized, unprepared students simply aren’t true.
The seedbeds, our homeschools, provide an environment for them to learn, grow, and mature so they are ready for whatever God has for them. Jesus himself trained his disciples, who were already grown men before he sent them out. Shouldn’t we do the same?
Transplanting refers to digging up a plant and moving it to another location. It is important for the plant to acclimate to its new surroundings for a period of time so that it doesn’t experience transplant shock.
This is true for our teens and young adults. Eventually they will be transplanted from our garden into their own homes, careers, and callings. Our job as homeschooling parents is to help them make that transition smoothly.
When we had our oldest son, we took a parenting class at our church. I’ll never forgot one particular principle that we learned in that class—the idea of parenting in the shape of a funnel. Just like a funnel, we give our kids more responsibility as they get older. And increased freedom to make their own choices accompanies that increased responsibility.
4. Gardening Tools
There are many tools that help the gardener cultivate and care for plants. Sometimes a hoe is required to break up the soil, a trowel to dig up the weeds, or pruners to cut back on that which will hinder growth.
We, too, need tools to help us cultivate our homeschools. When we teach heart-to-heart, we choose resources supporting a type of education anchored in relationship, emphasizing each student’s character, spiritual growth, and intellectual development.
5. Gardener’s Corner
A gardener is one who tends and cultivates a garden. And that is YOU!
The Gardener’s Corner provides resources for the rest of the homeschooling mom’s life. From ideas for feeding a family in a easy, quick, and healthy way to how to juggle working from home while homeschooling, this is the area designed to give you the encouragement and resources you as the gardener needs.
Cultivate My Heart
So let’s tend to our gardens.
Cultivate my heart, O Lord, so I can love and teach my children in a way that honors you and respects them as your creation. Cultivate the hearts of my children, O Lord, that they will love and honor you. Grow them spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. And prepare me and prepare them for whatever you would have them to do in the future. May it all be for your glory.
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