Homeschooling with All Your HEART

Homeschooling with All Your HEART
Since today is Valentine's Day, I thought it would be a perfect time to share a bit from a workshop I'll be teaching in Reno at the end of the month. The theme the leadership has chosen is "With All Your Heart," and after much prayer and consideration, I'll be teaching about three "heartfelt" principles from Scripture to keep us on track and homeschooling with all our hearts.

As you likely already know, this calling is not for the faint of heart! Thankfully, we have the Word of God to exhort and encourage us, so let's dig in and see what Scripture has for us!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. 

CHECK YOUR HEART - It's important to schedule spiritual "cardiology" appointments!
First, have our hearts been deceiving us? Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. Friends, we should NOT follow our hearts! However, Ezekiel 36:26 gives a great promise. God will give us a NEW heart and a NEW spirit! Once we have accepted His gift of salvation, we are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1); we are set free from the law of sin and death. Therefore, we can have confidence in our calling! Check out these words from 1 John 3:20-22:

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.

When we walk in confidence instead of condemnation, we can courageously live out our God-given purpose. If we follow the world’s advice–follow your heart–we will end up pursuing our own agenda, our own purposes. But when we align our hearts with God’s, we find that by themselves, our purposes are far too small. God’s eternal purposes are far more glorious! And when we are living on purpose–for HIS purposes–we can persevere even when things get difficult (Rom. 5:3-4). And that leads to our next encouraging principle…

DON’T LOSE HEART - What do you do when you are downhearted?
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 begins with these wonderful words: "Therefore we do not lose heart." The passage goes on to say that "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." Perhaps our earthly struggles don't feel light. In fact, they can feel downright heavy. Praise God, though we have a High Priest who understands our weaknesses. Hebrews 12:2-3 invites us to consider Jesus, "who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

And I can't help but refer to one of my favorite "Momming" verses, Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

When we refuse to lose heart–when we consider what Jesus has done for us–when we think about how superior eternity is to our temporary circumstances–when we remember a harvest is coming!–we can dream God-sized dreams; we can envision and pray about possibilities far beyond the day-to-day tasks. I don’t know about you, but when God lays dreams on my heart, I get pretty fired up! Praying about the possibilities actually spurs us to be more productive, to be good stewards of the time, energy, and resources he has given us. 

SET YOUR HEART - What are the greatest desires of your heart?
We don’t usually get to choose our circumstances–but we CAN choose our response to our circumstances. When we have new hearts and the Holy Spirit guiding us, we get to direct our hearts to align with God's.

Psalm 119:30 I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.
Colossians 3:1-2 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

When we align our hearts with God’s, we find more and more our hearts are longing for eternity. We find a growing passion for the things that glorify Him. And guess what? God doesn’t call us to lay down who we are! He created us for His own good purposes, yes, but also to blossom and grow into WHO He made us uniquely to be! So when we walk in these God-given passions, living out the desires of our heart (which He has given us, Psalm 37:4), we actually end up fulfilling our God-given purpose. 

Dear Mama, take heart! Jesus knew we would have troubles in this world, but He promised that He has already overcome the world. We can trust Him with our hearts!

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What Would You Have Done During the Holocaust?

What Would You Have Done During the Holocaust?
If you had lived in Germany during Hitler's rise, would you have spoken up against the atrocities inflicted on the Jews?

If you had lived in the early days of America, would you have spoken up to end slavery?

If you had been caught up in the crowd yelling at Pilate to crucify Jesus, would you have spoken up to defend His innocence?

I'd like to think that yes, I would have spoken up. I'd like to think many of us would have done so.

But the reality is, people who should have known better during those historical times did NOT speak up. 

And the reality is, I know my own weaknesses and fears. While I would love to say with confidence that YES, I would have taken a stand against evil in any form, no matter what the consequences...inside I can't help but wonder if I would have been any different from those who turned a blind eye to bloodthirsty hatred or even justified it.

Evil triumphs for a long while because it squashes those who voice opposition. It rules with fear and terror on its side, not only for those whom it specifically targets, but also for those who would dare stand in its way...whether with words or weapons.

Father God...
May we never falter in these times of trouble. Give us strength and courage to rescue those being led away to death, to hold back those staggering toward slaughter. We know the evil of these times. May we never be complicit with it because of outward pressures or inward fears. You know all things. You alone are the righteous Judge. May we be faithful to serve you and others as long as you give us life here on earth. In Jesus's name, amen.

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Navigating the Rapids

Navigating the Rapids
Last week my family enjoyed a "staycation" while we hosted some family friends from a couple of states away. This gave us the wonderful opportunity to plan for some activities we may not have prioritized had we not been planning this visit for a few months!

One of our grand adventures (well, probably THE biggest adventure) was going whitewater rafting. While Ted and I had been before, none of our children had, and they were eager and a bit nervous about the new experience. We left the house bright and early to drive the 95 miles and make our 8:30am arrival time. We chose a half-day tour, opting to go before lunch in order to beat the heat.

We couldn't have asked for better weather! It was so beautiful, with a nice breeze and lovely blue skies. (This was a day before we had a tornado watch...! In Colorado!!!) Our guide was enthusiastic and shared plenty of corny jokes as we made our way down the river. Our raft brought up the rear of our 3-boat entourage, which was perfect for splashing our friends, who were in the raft just ahead of us. We enjoyed a series of Class II and III rapids, which were very fun but definitely left all of us wanting MORE! Unfortunately, kids under age 14 were not allowed on the more intense part of the river, but I think everyone had a great time anyway.

In between the rapids, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Arkansas River as it snaked its way toward the Royal Gorge. Seanin (our 9yo son) was deeply disappointed that the whole ride wasn't whitewater rapids! And that made me contemplate a little life lesson...

We all have "rapids" in our lives: exciting, thrilling adventures and high points that leave us invigorated and energized.

Sometimes those rapids take a turn and become dangerous, even injurious.

We need a loving, all-knowing guide who will travel with us through the good, the bad, the fun, and the difficult times of life. Jesus is that guide...or at least, He is for me. Are you navigating life with a Guide? Or are you trying to steer the boat and avoid the rocks all on your own?

And another aspect to this little life lesson: what do we do in between the rapids? Do we chafe and moan, wishing life could be one big adventure? Or do we look around and notice the beauty of where we are? Not just our physical environment, but also the spiritual beauty of resting, waiting, traveling at God's pace instead of running ahead?

Just some thoughts from our Journey Quest adventure!
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What Would It Take to Uproot You?

What Would It Take to Uproot You?
"The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land." Proverbs 10:30 

These stumps in a pile were once growing, thriving trees. They've been cut down and uprooted to make space for a new house in our neighborhood. As I've watched the process unfolding during my morning walks, I can't help but wonder: are my roots strong enough, are my children's roots strong enough, to withstand the cultural upheaval working so hard to make space for a "new" world order which is actually based on the most ancient of lies? 

Dear homeschool mama, the enemy will do anything to uproot you and your children. You MUST be deeply rooted in God's truth. You must know the truth about who God is and about who you are. When we know we can trust God's character, we know we can trust His calling.

Are you standing firmly on truth today? Are your children? 

God, may we be faithful to stand on truth no matter the consequences. Grow our roots so strong and deep that the lies swirling around us will never uproot us or our children. Your Word says, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives." Make Proverbs 13:12 a reality in our generation in Jesus's name. Amen.

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Let's be real...FRUITS are way more exciting than ROOTS! 

They're more pleasing visually.
They taste yummy.
They are refreshing, satisfying.
They energize our bodies.

Roots, on the other hand, are frankly rather ugly.
They don't really DO anything tangible for us, only the tree.

But without the roots, the fruits wouldn't have a chance!

When it comes to homeschooling (or parenting in general), it is VITAL that we have deep roots. All too often, we get fixated on whether or not we see fruits from our efforts. And while fruit is important, and we certainly pray the Lord will bring about fruit in our lives and in our children's lives, when this becomes the focus, it also becomes the measure of whether or not we are "successful." 

That, my friends, is a recipe for doubt, disappointment, and discouragement!
It can lead to burnout. 
Wanting to quit. 
Looking for other materials, methods, motivations.

But...when we attend to our roots, we rest in Jesus and trust that GOD will bring about the growth in His own way and in His own timing.

How are your roots?
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