Home Education and Discipleship


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

I have often felt a challenging dissonance, in feeling simultaneously drawn to various ministries in the church and community and yet also being firmly convinced of the urgency of investing deeply in my home and family. Lately I have sensed the Lord leading me to hone in a bit more on my four children being my inner-circle disciples.

I’ve begun to read my Bible in a new way. What all have You commanded, Lord, that I am responsible to pass on to my children? There are many, many things we have to teach. Though perhaps ultimately we could boil it down, as Jesus did, to this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength…and love your neighbor as yourself.”

If then the aim in my child-rearing and teaching is to make disciples of my children, to help them know and follow Christ, and to obey his commands…

…Math becomes an opportunity to learn that we can do hard things, that there are really right answers and absolutes, that we are invited to taste something of the beauty and order of the created world.

…Science is an invitation to wonder at the creativity, genius and joy of the Holy One in His good creation. We learn to ask good questions, to notice details, to look beyond the surface of things to begin to understand why and how.

…Art becomes a worshipful practice, like music and – maybe all things. We seek to strengthen our skills for the joy of it, for the glory of the Lord, and as an expressive, heart-level way to love our neighbor. In acting as the artist and creating in varying ways, we emulate our mind-blowingly Creative Father and express more fully His image that we were created in.

…History is an opportunity to see what God has done, and how he has worked, and to love Him the more for it. We find our heroes to emulate, and the human weaknesses to guard against. And studying literature! Bliss! Don’t get me started! An opportunity to grow the mind and imagination, enlarging it, exposing it to the best ideas, the highest heights of thought that humanity has reached, sometimes touching on the eternal, invisible, transcendent.

On and on we could go, with the subjects in our home schools that we value most, each home with such incredible variety and independent flair. Every area of study is etched with something to experience and know about the character of God. But doesn’t it all ring hollow apart from Spirit of God moving in our hearts? Doesn’t it all fall flat if the Word of God does not go forth to accomplish it’s work? I pray that we would be grounded in the Word of God and inspired by His Spirit so that we may know what He has commanded, and what we are to teach our children.

And when I am tempted to be overwhelmed by the tasks of the day or by the big picture calling of home education, my deepest comfort is found in these words: “And lo, I am with you always…”


Trucking in Feb

What do you do when your resolutions for the New Year include working to have a lot more fun in 2018, and your family spends nearly the entire first month of the year sick and absolutely miserable?


Bummer, dude.

Maybe it’s best to just laugh and hope and pray for better in the rest of the year.

January/February/March is reputed to be the hardest stretch of the year for the homeschooling family, and the part of the year when quitting sounds most appealing (with February being squarely the heart of that depressing season). These past weeks of struggle to re-establish routine after the holidays, coupled with very cold weather and being cooped up, plus sick family and feeling isolated from our friends and community, and some other more personal challenges…has added up to a great struggle for me, physically, emotionally, spiritually – and practically! – how do you right the ‘ship’ of the home and family and homeschool when everything feels so frayed at the ends and motivation is at an all-year low?

But, God has met me here. As He always does. His faithfulness is never ending.

A couple of things have helped me to stay the course and keep trucking in our home and school.

  1. Isaiah 49 – I’ve been slowly reading through Isaiah for my personal quiet times, and this chapter blew me away. The tenderness and faithfulness and love of God is so evident. “Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on his afflicted.”
  2. The Mason Jar podcast – The CiRCE institute puts out several great podcasts. The Mason Jar with Cindy Rollins is my favorite. She raised her own very large family in a Charlotte Mason tradition and her wisdom, down-to-earth attitude and her long-vision perspective have given me so much hope. Sometimes her practical suggestions are just lifesavers too – nature journaling during Morning Time read-alouds? Game-changing. I just enjoy hearing her dialogue with David Kern too…she’s a very educated, inspiring lady, and somehow listening to her always reminds me that the mother is a person too! And I need to keep growing and learning as a student myself, and this pours over into the life of our homeschool to make it a healthy and rich environment. Check it out here.
  3. A simple question – “How’s homeschooling going?” A friend at church asked me recently. I am not kidding when I say that I have waited for YEARS to be asked this question. No one ever asks…It seems so normal for people to ask “How is work?” etc…but I have rarely if ever been asked about how our homeschooling is going (I’m sure there are plenty of valid reasons for that!). Just recalling this quick and quiet conversation after church last week brings tears to my eyes. I felt seen and for just a few minutes – like my life and work mattered. I know, deep in my soul, that it does. But in the day-to-day, my work goes largely unnoticed. I don’t teach and train and discipline and love every day with the hope of others’ praise or notice – but it is very lonely work at times. The way this simple question touched me so deeply shows me how much people need to feel like others are interested in their lives – and I hope I will be that person for other people.
  4. “Full-time Ministry” Mindset – Recently I’ve started considering my ministry at home and with homeschooling as my full-time ministry. It has made a huge impact on how I feel about it. Sometimes I wrestle with envy of friends who have more time and energy on their hands if their children are in school, or people who have the opportunity to make a paycheck. But this life I have chosen and been called to is one of ministry and eternal impact, and keeping the mentality of someone in full-time ministry has encouraged me. It takes a lot of time, and it’s not healthy for me to just consider it “baseline” as I have in the past. It’s the equivalent if not more than a full-time job, and I would tell all of my homeschool mama friends that – so it’s time that I started ministering to my own heart with these thoughts. I went to school to prepare for ministry, but I didn’t expect the turns that my life would take. I LOVE IT – but the transition still challenges me sometimes (often). Keeping in focus that I am raising the Carlson “arrows”/disciples to fly true helps so much.
  5. ALL THE BOOKS. Few things are as restorative to me as immersion in a good book. I read a lot more non-fiction, and I love that, but fiction also holds a special place in my heart! I love rich and literary fiction. Stories are nice, but its the beautiful writing and insights into human nature that I crave most I think. I’ve been reading some Elizabeth Goudge (love her!), and am going to re-read Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” soon. I’m also several hours into an audio version of Eric Metaxas’s biography on Martin Luther, which has several ties to different things we’re learning in our homeschool church history – so that has been extra fun for me. The mental diversion from the real world refreshes me and I “come back” with a more peaceful spirit, and some interesting thoughts to occupy my mind rather than letting anxiety overtake me.
  6. Happy Hymnody – I am loving learning hymns with my children around the breakfast table or during school time. Happy Hymnody has been a great resource for this! Check them out on Instagram too. 😉 “What Wondrous Love Is This” is our February hymn, and I remember loving this one as a little girl but hadn’t heard it for a long time.


last but not least…puppy love…<3

How about you? What’s helping you to keep trucking through February?


puppy days

we’ve been having such fun with our darling baby polar bear puppers.

born just days before Christmas, watching their birth and development has been a sweet wintry gift to us all! teeny wet noses and puppy breath and little tiny paws – oh my!

hope you enjoy these pictures from an outing the puppies enjoyed this weekend with the weather being so nice! isn’t our creator kind to bless us with such charming, loving, loyal companions? ❤






(daddy & daugher ~ )



(mama checks in ~ )






Peace at Christmas



If you’re anything like me, sometimes the holidays are completely overwhelming.

I’m thrilled by everything Christmasy and wintry and festively beautiful, by everything that promises to be a special opportunity for my children and myself to love and bless our neighbor, and I treasure the visits with family and friends over shared cookies and coffee and egg nog and presents. But more than any other time of year, it is in December that I feel the weight of my imperfections most heavily. I’m exhausted by the people-y things and all the preparations. I run out of money before I’ve found a gift for each precious one on my list. I haven’t lost as much weight as I hoped to before family pictures. Anxiety and depression rear their ugly heads and threaten to derail every fun plan.

But here’s where I’ve found comfort and peace in this season, as counter-intuitive as it may seem: Humility.

In ‘Walking on Water,’ Madeleine L’Engle writes, “The root word of humility is humus, earth; to be human, too, comes from the same word…”

May I encourage you, dear ones – let your soul be anchored in this earthiness, this lowly humility. You, who are demanding so much of yourself in this season of giving and glitz, you who are pushing yourself constantly to be everything for everyone, you who can be a harsh judge of yourself always, but even more through the holidays – pushing yourself to do more and be more and look better – let your expectations and demands collide with this: you, in the line of Adam and Eve, originated in the simple, humble humus.


Psalm 103:14 says “[God] knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” You and I, of the humus, were never meant to shoulder the burdens that we do. We are humble and created. But there is another aspect to our being, not to be forgotten.

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…Then the LORD God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

We are two parts – one half dust of the ground, one half breath of God. One half simplicity and earthen humility, one part holy touch from Eternal God. At once, amounting to nothing and yet full of meaning and value, created in the very Image of Perfection and Holiness.

You are loved and treasured by God, before you ever mail your Christmas cards or deck those halls or host a fantastic Christmas party. As we trust in Christ, we are covered by His righteousness, and invited to serve and follow Him in joy, empowered by His spirit – because of course, on our own? Merely earth-dust.

I pray that you and I will grasp the richness of this identity we carry alongside all of humanity. Everything we are we owe to him, and we are made in His likeness, to bring Him glory, not to busily build our own kingdoms of glory unto us, be them perfectly dressed and well-behaved families or glorious Christmas charity work or myriad memory-making traditions.

In her excellent book, ‘Humble Roots,’ Hannah Anderson says it this way: Humility teaches us that God is actively redeeming the world. And because He is, we can experience the relief of confessing our brokenness—whether it is intentional sin, our natural limitations, or simply the weight of living under the curse. Humility teaches us to find rest in confession. Rest from the need to hide, the need to be perfect. We rest by saying, both to God and others, “I am not enough. I need help.” And ultimately, the humility that leads us to confess our brokenness, both within and without, also frees us to grieve it and throw ourselves on the mercy of God. And this, more than anything, leads to rest.

Here is a ‘lovely paradox,’ as L’Engle writes, “we can be humble only when we know that we are God’s children, of infinite value, and eternally loved.”

I pray that you and I will enter into the Advent season, and the celebration of the Birth of Christ, with feet firmly planted in these parallel truths: 1) we are dust, 2) we are breath of God, made in His image. Be comfortable in your smallness, in humility, and trust that you also have the spark of the Divine, and if you are filled with His Spirit, he is at work doing great things through you, even as you rest in His love for you – evidenced through the Son of God, born for us.

Merry Christmas!


Some 2017 pictures and parenting thoughts


This season of parenting has been a new kind of challenging –

We tend to sleep better, with our youngest being almost 2, but the training and teaching and the discipline and all the patience those things require – it’s beyond humbling and it’s brought me to new levels of broken.

carlson2017-2And yet I delight in these faces, and in the hearts and dreams and gifts and personalities behind them. 7 – 6 – 4 – 1, for just a few more weeks. My days are full and always edging on the chaotic, and God has been so good to let me feel my inadequacy to be all that they need. I can serve the Lord faithfully in mothering them as well as I can, but He is the one who gives the fruit. I trust that as I abide in Him, it will come. And that is where my peace and joy rest.

And I pray, and I work, and I rest.

He will bring the fruit, and He will have the glory.

In his book “The Imperfect Disciple,” Jared Wilson quotes Ray Ortlund as saying “stare at the glory of God until you see it.” Mothers have a special front seat to seeing the glory of God, as they stare into the faces of their children, made by the Creator, and as they rediscover the glory of the created world through the fresh eyes of their babies – that creation declares His glory!

Lord, let me see.

Reading & Keeping


I thrive on inspiration.

My mind and soul require inspiration like the body needs food and water.

Sometimes it’s a song, or a beam of light through yellow-tinted leaves – but most often it’s in words.

The hunger for inspiration that fuels soulful living is partly what has driven me to become a ravenous reader in recent years.

As I have learned to read more and more and in a variety of styles and subjects, I have learned that my biggest frustration in my reading life is that I read – and then forget.

I trust that I am still shaped and my mind is impressed by what I have read, and since it is no longer just reading for school, I don’t “have” to have perfect recall. But, it is disappointing to have someone ask about a book I read and not be able to articulate what I loved (or didn’t) about the book. Or to not be able to recall some of the basic plot elements.

So, first, I started keeping track of what I read and occasionally leaving a note or short review on Goodreads. This also helped me identify more books I’d like to read by authors I enjoy and to make observations about my own reading habits, like how many books a year I tend to read.

The other main habit that has been changing my reading life for the better has been keeping a commonplace book. I first heard of this in my studies of Charlotte Mason and her philosophy of education, which I seek to largely emulate in our homeschool. Many of the mothers that I have learned from who follow this style of education are actively reading and educating themselves, and many of them continually mentioned their own commonplace book, where they kept notes of major points or favorite quotes from what they were reading.

The concept of “narration” or “retelling” is central in our educational philosophy – what my students can retell in their own words, they are absorbing more fully. If you aware that you will tell back a story from history in your own words, you strive to pay more careful attention as you learn the details, and the simple act of retelling also helps cement the events in your mind. In the same way, keeping a commonplace book has caused me to read a bit more slowly and intentionally, and the act of physically writing out bits and pieces that I loved has pressed those words a bit more deeply into my mind.

I am not overly rigorous with this – part of the fun of it is not “requiring” myself to write anything from any certain book, but rather just writing those things that move me in some way, or seem worthy of the recording.

Plus, there is the added bonus of having a physical notebook full of things that are personally inspiring to me, and serves as a bit of a record of the ideas, people, songs, poems, words, Scriptures, and history that I have encountered in my reading this year. I’ve found that even small notes from my readings will jog my memory about the rest of the content.

I’m just a “commonplace book baby” – but the habit is transforming and improving my reading in a beautiful way! My book is unfancy – it’s just a cheap composition notebook. But I keep it with me always, and once a week or more often I copy down selections from the books I’m reading (or whatever other inspiration I come across!). Down the road, I think it will be a great delight to me to refer back to the commonplace books of years past to see what I was reading in 2017, and maybe even to compare notes with my kids as they read the same books in the future.

Here are a few of my recent commonplace entries:

Love one another earnestly, from a pure heart.” (from 1 Peter)

From “Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Harrison Warren:

The singular mark of patience is not endurance or fortitude but hope. To be impatient…is to live without hope. Patience is grounded in the Resurrection. It is life oriented toward a future that is God’s doing, and its sign is longing, not so much to be released from the ills of the present, but in anticipation of the good to come.” Robert Wilken on Tertullian

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

If I am to spend my whole life being transformed by the good news of Jesus, I must learn how grand, sweeping truths – doctrine, theology, ecclesiology, Christology – rub against the texture of an average day. How I spend this ordinary day in Christ is how I will spend my Christian life.”

…it takes strength to enjoy the world, and we must exercise a kind of muscle to revel and delight.”

Push as hard as the age that pushes against you.” – Flannery O’Connor

Beauty will save the world.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

From Jeremiah 10:

It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by his wisdom; And by His understanding He stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, And He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, and brings out the wind from His storehouses…For the Maker of all is He, and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; the LORD of hosts is His name.

From “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis:

(fictional perspective of a demon-trainer)

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out…”

A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all – and more amusing.”

Are you a commmonplace-keeper? Have you read anything inspiring lately? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment! ❤ Check out my Goodreads to see more of what I’ve read this year.

❤ Jordan

Carlson Update – Sept. ’17 edition

I have never mailed a Christmas letter, which is maybe a #Momfail, but family updates at random intervals as they come to mind has been more my style…well, we will see, maybe this will be the year?! lol Here are a few updates for those of you who may be interested, and for my own memory-keeping. ❤


Nels just celebrated his 35th birthday in Colorado while we were enjoying time away on our family vacation. ‘Vacation’ with 4 children, one of whom refuses to sleep away from home, is a sort of relative word, but it was refreshing to have a change of scenery and a week of time together. A highlight for all of us was a moose sighting in Rocky Mountain National Park! Nels also enjoyed taking the kids trout fishing and going hiking and visiting various mountain towns. He is in his third year at First Southern Baptist Church, being ‘Associate Pastor of Miscellaneous’ (Worship & Youth). As we looked back on his 34th year and its themes and events, we decided this was the “Year of the Pyrenees” as earlier this year Nels traded in some firearms for our two big, beautiful Great Pyrenees pups (that is true love).

Kaya, the leader of our sweet pack of kiddos, is 7 years old and in 2nd grade. She is a model student who has made our entry into homeschooling smoother than I could have hoped. Kaya (usually) loves sharing a room with baby sister Aspen, and she takes such great care of her, as “Mommy’s Right Hand.” Kaya is a reader, a nurturing soul, a music and worship-lover, a wild and free outdoorsy girl, and an outgoing, sweet friend to many. She’s excitedly preparing to accompany me to Guatemala next summer for a mission trip to a children’s home and so Spanish has been what she’s most excited about in school this year.


Hudson will turn 6 next week. He has a special place in all of our hearts as the firstborn son and big brother – he is just adored by his siblings and parents. This is Hudson’s first “real” year of school, Kindergarten, and he has been so eager to learn to read, but math is what he looks forward to most each day. Hudson leaves a paper trail as he is always drawing – usually dragons, sometimes wild animals, and often sweet notes and scenes. We call him our “little scientist” and “little professor” because he has great attention for detail and is quite spacey at times as well. Hudson has really grown in the last year in his role as big brother and leader, caring tenderly for Aspen and helping his brother Ezra too.

Ezra – “I’m 4 years old and I already listen to God and Jesus and even my mom and dad!” Ezra randomly told me this as he was climbing into the car the other day. It made my heart so happy. All of our kids have been incredibly verbal (surprise, surprise), but especially little Ez. He constantly overflows with big, emotional, grandious statements, and often bursts out in spontaneous praise or prayer. His “faith like a child” has been a blessing to me. He loves somersaults, great shows of strength (!), building forts, playing with blocks and cars, and he always wants to watch a movie – and has a special knack for remembering lines and songs from his favorite movies. Our sweet towhead toddler is growing into such a fun boy.


Aspen Raye (21 mo.) is our wild, cuddly, sparkly, sweet blue-eyed girl. She wants to do everything the “big kids” do, except for when it comes to eating everything on her plate and adhering to bedtime. In the last month she has started saying so many recognizable words that one of our new hobbies is being the first person to discover she has added something else to her vocabulary. She is one of the biggest challenges and the most wonderful joy of our days! She loves sitting on the kitchen counter and keeping me company while I’m working. She is such a sweet buddy, and I treasure her baby-companionship.

I have been stretched and enriched through the rigors of homeschooling 2nd grade and Kindergarten, with two little ones along too. I am loving running our home, though many days it looks like it is running me. 😉 My heart is longing for and missing my many friends back home and around the world, but God is helping me to put down roots and build friendships and community here in Hutchinson as well. I am learning more and more always about how to live well and whole-heartedly before the Lord. There are no easy days, but they are full and fruitful, and for that I am thankful.

I would love to hear updates from you and your family, sweet friends! ❤ What are you eager for this fall?

With love,