Mother Culture: Cultivate Your Soul

“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!”
~ Charlotte M. Mason

 "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
Genesis 2:2-3

 "And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?"
Mark 4:37-40

"And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed."
Luke 5:16
"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."
Mark 1:5 

"If there is such a thing as the joy-of-childhood, there is such a thing as the joy-of-motherhood.
With Mother Culture a mother can say, “My cup runneth over.” It runs over into the family circle. The benefits Mother Culture do not end with herself. Eventually, it is she who becomes the generous older-woman-in-the-Lord that she longed to know when she was a new mother."
~Karen Andreola 

Rest, and the cultivating of one's soul, is a grand conversation that has been enduring for generations, among far greater minds than my own. Even greater than that, Scripture tells us that rest is a provision of God, a grace afforded to us, and that in order to follow in the examples of both God the Father and of Jesus our Savior, we must rest. God Himself showed us how important rest was, and then sanctified both time for rest and the act of rest itself for His people. Jesus, as the Incarnate God-Man, not only rested His physical body, but intentionally took time to hold sacred, and invest in, His relationship with His Father. I will simply sit in awe of this grand, enduring, timeless conversation, and will not attempt to add that which has not already been said by great minds of great mothers giving God great glory, except to say this:
You simply can not do anything well, unless you do well the first task set before you. You simply can not pour from an empty cup.We see in Christ's example that He sacrificed comfort, time, rest, and pleasures...not only to leave His Father's side to come to this broken world, but also within the day to day grind of His earthly ministry. I will never tell you not to sacrifice for the good of others, and not to serve them wholeheartedly. But, we must not pridefully ignore the rest of His example, in order to feel good about all of our "selflessness". His example clearly shows that amidst the sacrifice, He put forth the intention and the effort to rest His body and His mind, and to engage in relationship with His Father. We have no excuse not to do the same. We have children who need us, Christ had multitudes. We have a ministry, Christ ministered to the nations.We have a husband and a home, Christ was building His eternal church and redeeming the souls of all of His people. We simply have no excuse. Without excuse, we can begin to see that this is a good and perfect gift to us. As those who want nothing more than to bring God glory in all that we do, we must not forfeit the great gift that equips us to do so.

In the interest of the rest and cultivating of souls, here is a list of some of my favorite Mother Culture.

Books About Charlotte Mason Education:

For the Children's Sake 
(This is a must read, first read, re-read every single year book for all homeschoolers, particularly those who are pursuing a living education.Susan Macaulay plants the vision of a Charlotte Mason education within the hearts of readers, and casts that vision into their day to day lives. For the Children's Sake leaves every reader without excuse for desiring and pursuing living education. You simply can not read For the Children's Sake and be unchanged by the beauty within it.) 

A Charlotte Mason Companion
(The Andreolas published the original pink copies of Charlotte Mason's volumes, making her works and principles accessible. They are responsible for the preserving and renewal of the Charlotte Mason method, and this companion written by Karen Andreola, is an overview of what a Charlotte Mason education actually consists of, containing philosophical truths, but also many practical suggestions.)

Mind to Mind 
(Karen Glass is a member of the original Ambleside Online advisory, and has left an irreplaceable mark on the Charlotte Mason world. Her book, Mind to Mind, is essentially Charlotte Mason's volume 6, but Karen has removed Victorian references, that consume time to understand but don't add to or affect the philosophy itself, and added footnotes and annotations. I always recommend that Mason's actual words be read, but this is a great read to tackle Mason's most comprehensive volume in an accessible fashion.) 

When Children Love to Learn
(This is a collection of essays, written by several great minds who have impacted, and been entrenched in, the Charlotte Mason community for decades. This collection includes both philosophical and practical content, and is valuable for diving deeper into both the philosophy and methods of a Charlotte Mason education, after having grasped the basics outlined in other books.)

A Charlotte Mason Education
(Catherine Levison provides what no other author has: a simple, short, straightforward guide to each and every Charlotte Mason lesson. This guide is no-frills, and is easy to tackle in a short amount of time. In this book, and in her second book titled More Charlotte Mason Education, Levison simply breaks down each aspect of a Charlotte Mason education, in a few pages each, and explains exactly what is being accomplished and how to accomplish it.) 

Know and Tell   
(Karen Glass' newest book is an answer to so much desire for so long among the Charlotte Mason community to truly understand narration, in all of its forms, and how it functions. Karen has answered every question about narration that you will ever have, and she also makes me fall in love with narration all over again.)  

In Memoriam  
(This collection of tributes given at a conference after Mason's death is both endearing and also instructive. There is an abundance of both her philosophy and her methods crammed into the words of those who loved her and were most influenced by her. This is a book I read over and over.) 

Other Books:
Last Child in the Woods
(Although this isn't the easiest of reads, it is certainly worth the effort to read it. It is essentially a manifesto on the deficit of nature study, natural history, the knowledge of natural things, and the out of doors life, among children. It offers a look into how and why this deficit has occurred, what the consequences are, and how to prevent our own children from being "nature deficient". ) 

Honey for a Child's Heart
(This collection of book lists, along with Honey for a Teen's Heart, is a well worn volume on the shelf of countless living educators. It brings forth the value of reading to our children, and of choosing good books, and then explains the value of, and how to use, different types of books. Following that, Gladys Hunt lists books by type and age, so that it can be referred to often in the endless search for the very best books for children.) 

Mere Motherhood
(Cindy Rollins is Charlotte Mason royalty, having home educated 9 children, but is also endearing, authentic, and refreshingly humble. Her book is a memoir, and her goal wasn't to give advice in the practical application of Charlotte Mason education, but rather to share her life with you. She accomplishes this goal beautifully and encourages every reader with her vulnerability and down to earth humor and wisdom. Mere Motherhood is a breath of fresh air, especially for the weary mother.) 

The Read Aloud Family
(Not only does Sarah McKenzie do a wonderful job at igniting or re-igniting a passion for reading aloud to children of all ages, her book list is accessible, modern, easy to digest and organized better than I have seen any other book list be organized previously. I devoured this book, and I think you will too! It is refreshing, easy to read, inspiring, yet usable and practical.) 

Consider This 
(Karen Glass is the expert on how Charlotte Mason's method of education fits into the great Classical Tradition. She explains how this is the case both thoroughly and accessibly.) 


Schole Sisters
(Brandy Vencel, Mystie Winckler, and Pam Barnhill share philosophical discussions about the writings of Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition. They are funny, down-to-earth, and have a wealth of wisdom. My tip: start at Episode 1 and go in order.) 

The Mason Jar
(Cindy Rollins discusses various Charlotte Mason topics, along with monthly Q&A episodes. Cindy is THE best person to listen to when you feel as if everyone around you "gets Charlotte Mason right" and that you simply can't get it perfect. She tells the truth, but she is humble and full of grace.)

Your Morning Basket
(Pam Barnhill discusses a wide variety of topics that all correspond with or involve Morning Time.)

Cultivating the Lovely
( CTL is a refreshing discussion on all thing motherhood, and living well. One of the monthly co-hosts is Leah Boden, who has a wealth of Charlotte Mason wisdom, an authentic approach, and a lovely accent.) 

Risen Motherhood
(Short, gospel oriented conversations about a multitude of aspects of motherhood and womanhood.)


(There has never been an article on Afterthoughts, either by Brandy Vencel or by any of her guest authors, that hasn't blessed me, or instructed me. If there is a topic you wonder about, chances are that she has written about it. A great place to start is her 31 Days of Charlotte Mason and Charlotte Mason Myths Busted series)

Joyous Lessons 
 (Celeste Cruz is an unmatched inspiration when it comes to Nature Study. She has material and encouragement for other topics as well, but you will definitely want to read her nature notes and drool over her journal entries.)

Sage Parnassus
(Nancy Kelley provides not only a multitude of encouragement regarding a Charlotte Mason life, but she also provides much needed beauty in the life of any mother in the trenches of motherhood.)

Moments With Mother Culture
(Karen Andreola is the mother of Mother Culture, and her blog is a treasure trove. Especially read her "What is Mother Culture" section, if you just don't understand what the fuss is about.) 

Living Charlotte Mason in California
(It would take you endless hours to read through all of the content here, both practical and philosophical, and all lovely. It is arranged by topic, so it's a great place to go for topical advice.) 


The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
(This preserved nature journal from 1906 is simply beautiful, and the nature notes within it are to be cherished, and read over and over. It is broken down by month, and it easy to read in small portions daily.)

Handbook of Nature Study Blog
(Whether or not you read Anna Comstock's famous Handbook of Nature Study, the blog is encouraging, lovely, and informative.) 

Pocketful of Pinecones 
(This is an enjoyable, easy, and light read perfect for relaxing after a hard day! It is a fictional story of one mother's journey in nature study, but also includes many hidden practical ideas.) 

Keeping a Nature Journal 
(All of Claire Walker Leslie's books are wonderful, but this one is a great place to start. It is inspiring in a way that is not nearly as intimidating as other nature journaling instructional books.) 


A World That Sings (Helen Lowrie Marshall)
(Any and all poetry is Mother Culture, but this is one of my most beloved books.) 

Prayers Written at Vailima (Robert Louis Stevenson)
(Everything by Stevenson is a treasure, but this set of prayers is my favorite thing he ever penned.)


Joy Kinkaid 
(A Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool veteran, with older children, Joy is an encouragement and a source of wisdom.) 

Farmstead Journal 
(A host of enjoyable chats about all the practicalities, joys, and challenges of CM homeschooling.)  

**These are certainly not all of the blogs, books, and podcasts that I love, and they are nowhere near to encompassing all that exist. These are just a sampling of my favorites. 

Art Study
The World of Art Series (by Time-Life) 
Other Types of Mother Culture:
(Other ways to cultivate your soul and feed your mind with truth, goodness, and beauty.)
Classical and Folk Music
Classic Novels
Fairy Tales
Essays and Speeches
Bible and Theological Studies
Nature Journal/Nature Walks

A Few Thoughts on Mother Culture:

1.  Mother Culture is Not "Me Time".
It's not a bubble bath, it's not a day at the spa, it's not shopping, it's not coffee with a friend. All of those are important, and some of them can be combined with mother culture. There is no question that mothers need what we like to refer to as "breaks" or "me time". However, those things are not mother culture. The need for mother culture is just as great as the need for a break, and both must be honored. Mother culture isn't the shutting down of one's mind, but rather the engagement and the feeding of it.
2. Mother Culture Requires Front End Investment
The ideal time for mother culture is not when you are worn. Once you are at the end of your rope, you have allowed the window for cultivating your soul to close. All is not lost, of course, and mother culture (along with a break, and asking for help) absolutely renews and restores. Mother culture, however, is best done in the day to day, when things are going well. We feed our minds the ideas that are their only suitable food, and then we water them often. This way, when there is a drought, they will be able to not only survive, but also to thrive.
3. You Have Time for Mother Culture
I know that you are busy. I know that you are often overwhelmed. I know that you are frazzled. And, I know that telling you to make time for one more thing is not exactly always perceived as the friendliest (or most attainable) of advice. But, hear my heart: the busy mother can not afford to NOT do mother culture. You simply don't have time, or the liberty, to NOT feed the mind that is burdened with the details of so many happenings and so many other human beings. We make time for what is important to us, and we find a way to get done whatever we truly desire to get done. The fact is, if you truly can't make time for this vital piece of the mothering puzzle, then you are doing more than you should be. If it becomes important to you, it will happen. No, it won't happen perfectly, and yes, you will need to give yourself much grace. There is a difference between giving yourself grace, and letting yourself off of the hook. Consider this my plea to require from yourself the feeding of your mind and the cultivating of your soul. So much depends on it.
4. Mother Culture is a Rhythm.
Mother culture is carried out in moments. It isn't built of days of leisure, where children behave, and nothing goes awry, and the unexpected doesn't occur. It is built of moment of making good choices, and doing the next right thing. It is carried out amidst chaos, and noise, and failures. It is composed of moments, such as an hour before the children wake up, or 20 minutes before you close your eyes to sleep, or a 10 minute break in the afternoon to read a page or two and watch a bird fly around your yard. Moments. Mother Culture is a rhythm of moments.
5. Do What Works For You....But Challenge Yourself to Do More
Mother culture doesn't have to be Shakespeare if you don't enjoy Shakespeare. However, if you don't enjoy Shakespeare, you could learn to. Mother culture, in this moment, should look like and be made up of things that you enjoy. True things. Beautiful things. Good things. Things that will feed your mind. Things that will nourish and cultivate your soul. Things that you get joy from. At the same time, Mother culture should challenge you to love truer things and more beautiful things. Mother culture should make you want better, and it should help you do better. Choose things that you enjoy, but don't turn your back on things that you don't.

What about you?
What is your favorite mother culture? Where do you struggle with mother culture? How has mother culture bettered you, and your days? I would love to hear all about it!

May All Your Days Be Spent....Delightfully Feasting
Crystin <3 


No comments:

Post a Comment

My Friend, Charlotte: Who and What Am I Talking About?

My Friend, Charlotte...

Who and What is Charlotte Mason, and Why Does It Matter?  Things To Know : Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late 1800's...