Last week I wrote “What about our own Habits” and I was writing it because “MY” habits have been on my heart and mind often, thanks to the Holy Spirit. I do say Thanks because I NEEDED to seriously contemplate “MY” habits. In many areas I do Not have good ones, therefore I am not setting a good example for my boys. Without going into detail, I will just say that last week was not a good one, there were tears, arguments, nagging, whining, complaining, frustration, disobeying, laziness, lack of focus and if I thought more on it I could come up with a few more negatives of the week. Thank the Lord and I do mean THANK the LORD that in the midst of all the above there were still smiles, laughter, love and HIM……HE is always there!!! He showed up when I was feeling at my worst, as usual HE never fails me!! Friday was the worst day and by Friday night I sat down to blog and I ended up unable to finish the post due to the  tears that were flowing. I couldn’t finish the task at hand but the Lord had no problem continuing to work on my behalf.

 Earlier in the day right after a very difficult situation I decided to take a moment and a very deep breath, I checked e-mail and I am so glad I did. There was an e-mail from a new friend, I appreciated the entire e-mail but the last line just immediately sank into my heart and spirit, my whole perspective changed. This was the line “Be encouraged today!  Remember all the miracles He has done for us!  Sing to the Lord a new song today!”

Thank you Lord that you used this wonderful woman with a heart full of you to reach out and love on me!!

So, I praised God for all HIS miracles and went on with the day. As the hours passed I continually kept coming back to “my” habits and the way things were going in our home life and home school. I knew that the Holy Spirit was telling me that something needed to change and I knew what HE was getting at, “I” needed to change. Unless I change in some areas and make wiser decisions I certainly can’t expect it of my boys. The more I thought about how I needed to change I let a voice in (and not of my Lord’s), it whispered to me that I was no good, I was worthless as a parent and a home school mom. That is of course at the state I was in when the tears I mentioned earlier came on the scene. As I sat there my heart just kept crying out over and over “what do I need to do Lord?” As had happened throughout the day I eventually began thinking of a couple of e-mails that had recently showed up on a home school yahoo group I am a member of. The subject of these e-mails I had avoided for I believe over a year now.  I had not been able to stop thinking about these e-mails since they had shown up in my mailbox so I decided to read them. They were about a organizational method for home schoolers, it’s called the Workbox System. After reading the e-mails I immediately wanted to know as much as I could. Below is the e-mail I sent out to most of the home school groups I am a member of, hoping to get some answers and I just hoped someone would answer quickly:

Does anyone use the workbox system while using the Charlotte Mason home school method. I am intrigued by this system but I am also stumped on how to use it with the CM method especially since we do everything together except for Math, Grammar, Spelling and Handwriting (I think that’s it). Our home school is very relaxed and I enjoy certain parts of our home school  and life because it is that way BUT for many reasons I don’t think that is best for us anymore. I think I need to make some changes in how we do “school” so that I can help my kids become more self-motivated, focused, organized and I also need something to help me to be more disciplined in certain areas. I don’t know if the workbox system is the answer but I am curious to find out more about this system especially as it might relate to the Charlotte Mason method.

As I sat and waited I googled “Workbox System” and started reading blog entries about it. After reading for just a wee bit I decided to go ahead and check my e-mail to see if I received any. I didn’t just get an e-mail I got an answer to prayer; I received love, encouragement, comfort, strength, renewal and hope through an e-mail. It just so happened that this new friend I mentioned earlier sent another e-mail. When I began reading I could immediately tell by her words  that she was so excited. You see she was blown away herself because she had prayed and asked God what she could say to me and do for me (I don’t know why but she says I have blessed her). She decided she was going to share information about the Workbox System that she uses, she remembered I had mentioned that I wanted to focus on habit formation and she thought this might be helpful. She said she went to the computer to e-mail me and before she could she saw the e-mail I had sent out asking about the Workbox System!!!  Not only did she send me the Workbox system information she sent me beautiful scriptures from God’s Word. This was a “GOD thing” and we both were witness to it. I truly believe that God was moving here, that He spoke to me, He was directing my steps, He spoke through my friend, He was directing her steps and He blessed us both in amazing ways!! God loves and cares for us deeply and He wants the best (which is “His best”) for us!

“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU LORD”  and I recall ”Be encouraged today! Remember all the miracles He has done for us!  Sing to the Lord a new song today!”

After staying up until about 2:30am reading everything I could find on the Workbox System I decided to talk to my husband when he woke up Saturday morning and see how he felt.  So we agreed that I should give it a try so I ran out and picked up some boxes but not as many as suggested. I planned on starting this system on the following Monday.

Below are pics of our temporary system:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

This is what it looks like so far, from front view and the side view. It is in the corner of my dining room. It is NOT pretty but I wanted it to be close by, I wanted to go ahead and get started and I did not want to invest a lot of money into it until I had a chance to first try it out. The last pic shows the side view and if you look close you can see the check in and out envelopes and each boy has a school card envelope and a chore card envelope.

I made picture cards for them to use when they “Check In” and “Check Out” of school

pic1- School Cards (These cards let them know what order they are supposed to work). pic2 Bonus Box Cards (If one of the boys gets finished with their individual boxes before the other is ready to move on to a family box activity than they can pick something to do out of their bonus box.

Chore Cards (They have regular morning, evening chores and different afternoon chores daily)

Below is an e-mail I sent out to a couple of friends on Monday night letting them know how our first day went using the workbox system.

Our day went very well!!! It went longer than I wanted but it was the first day and with starting the Olympic Unit Study, I might have tried to do tooooooo much =) I am going to cut down on Wednesday which is our next full school day. I really enjoyed this day and I think a huge reason we had such success was because I didn’t allow myself to get distracted by anything. I started a new rule ’once school started I will not get on the computer unless it had something to do with school” (ex. Olympics stuff, map, biography, etc). Having everything out and ready was a big help and I didn’t allow them in their bedrooms (near toys) until we were done with school. I used the ‘Help Mom’ cards, I gave them three and said they needed to really try to do something themselves before they use their cards. I also started a ‘three strikes and your out’ rule. If the boys get three strikes they lose a privilege and after that we would start the three strikes again, and so on and so on. I know that there will be difficult moments in the future and I know it’s only the first day but I think this system may really be what the boys and I need. It did end up being a very good but extremely busy day and by 8:30pm I had everything all ready for tomorrow!! Today was our third day using this system and it was even better than the two previous day.
We all need good habits and I truly believe that God made sure I found out about this system so that He could use it as a tool to help me form better Habits!! Even though I spoke about the Work Box system that is not what this is really about. I write today to remind you that when you belong to God, HE truly LOVES, KNOWS, SEES, HEARS you, CARES for you and MOVES on your behalf!! HE honors our prayers and the desires of our heart specifically when our desires have conformed to His desires. Today whatever your need is, let you HABIT be to CRY out to HIM and let HIM  love on you in His special way!!
Habit Formation Resources:
Here is the original Vol 1 of Charlotte Mason’s Education Series (Here is Vol 1 in modern language) If your interested in reading more, I urge you to read part 111 and part 1v of Vol 1, both parts are on Habit Formation. 
To find out  about Charlotte Mason and the Charlotte Mason Home School Method go HERE 
Laying down the Rails by Sonya Shafer is a great book to assist you in Habit Formation 
Smooth and Easy Days is a FREE e-book on Habit Formation by Sonya Shafer ***Awesome***
Workbox System Resources:
Sue Patrick (Creator of the Workbox System) main site
Workbox @ Robin’s Blog (Heart of Wisdom)
Workbox Review @ Curriculum Choice Blog
Working the Workboxes @ Squidoo
Sue Patrick’s Workbox System A User’s Guide
Next week I plan on writing about the HABIT of ATTENTION