Thursday MidWeek Break: BSF and Nature Study

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Thursdays is our BSF and Nature Study day. Thursday mornings we rush out hoping to beat Manila traffic and arrive for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) on time. I have been attending BSF on and off, here in manila and back in the states, for the last 8 years or so. The 3 younger kids get to go to their respective classes, eldest goes to his spot and do his “homework”, and I get to have soul-rich conversations with other women. This year we are studying the book of Revelation and it adds another layer of understanding since our own church just finished a series on Daniel, and now we are going through Revelation as well. I like the system of BSF. Others find it rigid but I appreciate the structure. I love the fact that I can enter the sanctuary and be quiet amongst women, sing hymns, and just focus on the Word rather than on my opinion or what I feel. It’s my breather for the week, and I am thankful for the richness and nourishment it has given me through the years.  

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BSF is also the reason why I started loving hymns. I remember the first time I attended. I was in my early twenties, a new Christian, and I was searching for a weekly Bible Study that I could attend. I’ve always been more inclined to a Bible focused study. Grateful that I was led to BSF hosted by our vey own church, GCF. I quietly entered without knowing anyone. It seemed that I was one of the youngest and most were in their, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s.. They sang a beautiful hymn to start the morning, and right there and then, I felt at home. The singing of hymns just got me. I was a volunteer at the Youth Ministry then, and most of the songs we sang were more “upbeat”, if you know what I mean. And so being surrounded by women, much more mature than I, digging deep in the Word, singing with a certain tempo and beautiful lyrics,  became my weekly thing. I felt that it was my secret place of refuge for the week, and it truly was/is. 

Another thing that I love about BSF is their Preschool program. You won’t see children doing crafts (glue-scissors-paper-sticker) to “connect" to the lesson. In short, no busy work. Their focus is on the Word. Teachers beautifully and simply re-tell passages from the Bible after careful study, and the children respond to this. I became a volunteer in the Preschool program for a period, and I saw and experienced the spiritual preparation that teachers go through before each class. Simply remarkable. I think Charlotte Mason would have approved. 

Lastly, BSF’s focus on the Bible greatly influenced my love for the Word: to study, to enjoy, and to meditate on. It truly is Living and it has transformed and enriched my spiritual life in more ways than one.  

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After BSF, we eat lunch at the GCF canteen, and rush home for nap time. I do some chores while they are all asleep. I also prepare our picnic basket and nature study materials. I wake them up at 3 and we head off to explore.

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Nature Study is one of the things I’ve led my children to do ever since I read Charlotte Mason’s books. It’s one of the constants in our lifestyle of learning that I am glad I stuck with despite being inconvenient at times. I remember having to carry an infant, holding a toddler, and guiding a preschooler by the creek, in my rain boots, for the sake of discovery. I remember having to push the 3 and 5 year old in the stroller under 12 noon heat, lugging around a big bag of nature study stuff, while carrying an infant in the ergo. It was exhausting. But the experience was worth it. 

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Once we arrive at our spot, I let them run wild and free. After 15-20 mins of romping around, we start our walk. I’ve led them for years, but they take over once in a while and lead me in discovery instead. They call me to rush and see what they discovered. I try to catch up while I wear my sleeping toddler. The picture above captured a moment that left me teary eyed. I just stood there and looked at my babies leading the way. 

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In the years of nature study, I tried not get in the way of their learning by not cackling or asking too much. Though it was hard to trust at first, I learned to keep quiet and not prompt them with questions. They eventually saw what they needed to see, and make connections of their own without me asking specific things. 

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That’s my midweek break.
My “me” time, if you will. I look forward to it every week; a break from my usual routine. It’s been helpful to have an enriching “space" where I could breath in “life” and feel refreshed. I also try my best to squeeze in little moments throughout the day. I experience it as I read a book quietly or when I keep my hands busy creating something. There is much talk about “me” time nowadays, but I’ve noticed that it matters what I fill those moments with. It makes all the difference to choose Truth and Beauty.
 
"Mother must have time to herself. And we must not say 'I cannot.' Can any of us say till we have tried, not for one week, but for one whole year, day after day, that we 'cannot' get one half-hour out of the twenty-four for 'Mother Culture?'--one half-hour in which we can read, think, or 'remember."
                                                                                                                            Volume III, no. 2 The Parents' Review
 
I pray that you carve out space for yourselves as well, exhausted mamas. It’s one way to keep up with our young ones. 
Take a moment and choose to breath in Truth and Beauty.

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