One of Those Days...!

One of Those Days...!
How is your homeschool day going?! Recently I had a flashback to this moment in time, 12 years ago, when an adorable little toddler managed to make a ginormous mess just as our day was supposed to be starting. (I'm pleased to say that this now-teenager takes responsibility for putting away his cereal dish and spoon in the dishwasher and putting the CLOSED box of Cheerios back on the cereal shelf!)

As a homeschool mom of 9...I get it.

The exhaustion. 
The mess. 
The chaos. 
Yes, also those incredibly sweet moments, opportunities to be with our babies and speak into their lives. But...

It's hard. 
It's never-ending. 
It can be lonely & frustrating, amazing & maddening, funny & overwhelming...all in the span of 20 minutes!

For a homeschool mom, everything in life is so intertwined. For homeschoolers, life IS school. School IS life. It can be difficult to separate yourself from everything happening in rapid succession on a daily basis.

But you know what? I believe that if GOD has called you to this, He has more than equipped you! And I'm rooting for you and your family! I've been in the trenches, ready to throw in the towel and send my children to the nearest building that remotely resembled a school. 

But by God's grace, I'm proof that it's not only possible to homeschool from diapers to diploma... just might become your greatest PASSION and PURPOSE! 

(At least for a season!) IS your homeschool day going?! 
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Being Rooted in Our Homeschool

Being Rooted in Our Homeschool
In my last post, I was recounting the story of how I nearly quit homeschooling. The trauma our family had undergone just about did me in.

In the time since those moments of absolute, utter desperation, I’ve been asking the Lord not only what He wants me to do, but also who He wants me to be. I’ve taken time for personal growth and deliberately put myself under godly mentors who have helped me see my blind spots–and also my passions and strengths–so I can move forward into the next season of life with bold and godly confidence.

The burning question was this: What exactly should our homeschool look like when I deal with seemingly endless constraints, weaknesses, and limitations?

During this time of seeking God's guidance, I kept coming back to tree imagery. I see it all through Scripture. I see it in my wooded backyard. Nowadays, even my screen saver keeps popping up beautiful photos of trees!

As a visual learner, I’ve matched some phrases to tree parts to help me wrap my brain around what I believe is my calling as a homeschool mama. This helps me see the big picture of what we're doing in our homeschool much more clearly. Perhaps it will help you as well, or maybe it will inspire you to create your own visual based on what God is pressing on your heart.

Deeply Rooted
I, my marriage, our family, and our homeschool are all deeply rooted in Christ. We hold His Word in highest regard, believing it to be the description of His great rescue plan for sinners. We stand strong on His foundation of truth.

Faithfully Focused
In a world of distractions that target our fleshly desires and weaknesses, we choose to pursue purposeful, meaningful activities to help us live out God’s principles in our specific circumstances. This helps us continually grow spiritually.

Intentionally Connected
We believe our relationships with Christ and the people He has put in our lives are our highest priority. We choose, therefore, to live in authentic community, encouraging and being encouraged by others. 

Boldly Courageous
In this cultural moment, where “truth has stumbled in the streets” (Isaiah 59:14), we commit to speaking truth in love. With our priority being to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, we know living for the eternal rather than the temporal is a must.

Mama, I pray this is helpful to you! If you are not feeling rooted...focused...connected...courageous...might I suggest something? I believe it would be so valuable to get some objective input. I know it was for me! Let's set up a chat and see what God will do in our short time together!

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Family Matters

Family Matters
In this “Be Rooted” series, we’ve already delved into the ideas of being rooted in our individual relationships with Jesus as well as being rooted in our marriages. This week let’s “branch out” (pun intended! 😉) to see how this concept of growing deep roots affects our families.

No doubt, family matters can be complicated these days. The family unit itself is under attack like never before. I believe this is so in part because of God’s intention for families from the very beginning, so of course Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy God’s good purposes (John 10:10).

So how can we overcome today’s tendency toward busy-ness? The pull away from spiritual matters and toward earthly pursuits? The constant push from culture to divide generations?

It’s been said that the way kids spell LOVE is T-I-M-E. Just as we must intentionally nurture our marriage relationship by devoting time to our spouses, so also we must work hard to direct our family time so that it bears fruit and points our hearts and minds to things that will last.

There is so much we could discuss on this topic! I’ll just put a few thoughts about TIME with our kids here, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

Everything builds on our foundation of Jesus Christ! As we spend time with the Lord ourselves (and ideally as a couple), more and more of our lives will be consumed by our desire to worship him and live out his purposes. Our children need to see what this all-important relationship looks like in daily life. Do we act as if our worship of God and service to him is something to be checked off our calendars? Do we view attending church or saying prayers just something we need to do? Or do we truly love Jesus, abide in him, seek him earnestly? Our kids can tell whether our actions match our words! (Have you ever found the Holy Spirit speaking directly to you through your own offspring?!) Parents are given the deep responsibility of teaching our children about the Lord (which is a good incentive to make sure we are deeply rooted ourselves). We’ll delve more deeply into Deuteronomy 6 in the next post when we talk about homeschooling, but regardless of how your children are educated, if you are a Christian parent, ultimately YOU are the one commanded to keep God’s words in your hearts and impress them on your children.

Our family time with God will look different during different seasons of our lives. I’ve had to wrestle with that over the years. Our family devotions are not always what I’d want them to be–and yet, as chaotic as life can be with kids of various ages, it is still Ted’s and my responsibility to raise these precious children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And so we press on, using whatever tools and time we have available!

I remember hearing once that parents should listen to their children when they talk about “small stuff” (such as their latest LEGO creation or what happened on the playground), because if we don’t listen to the “small things,” our kids won’t come to us with the “big things” as they get older. In a child’s mind, EVERYTHING is a “big thing!” While it can get tedious to listen to a 23-minute recount of the thrilling Minecraft world my son has been building, it’s important to him…and therefore worthy of at least some of my time and energy!

If you’ve parented teenagers, you probably know this already: their time to talk is usually when adults are dead exhausted! But I wouldn’t trade those late-night conversations for anything. And now that we have young adults who have left the nest, I will literally drop everything I’m doing when they call so I can give them my full attention. Our kids need us, even as they sprout their own wings and take off! It looks different in each stage, of course, but the common thread is making time to talk with our kids. This includes one-on-one time as well as family discussions.

In my early years of parenting, I wanted to be a “fun mom.” I had visions of all kinds of activities I’d do with my kids as they grew older. But the reality is, I’ve learned I’m not naturally a “fun” person! Efficient and organized, YES. Spontaneous and fun, NOT SO MUCH! While I love to laugh, I find that I can often be too serious, so I’ve had to be intentional about finding ways to incorporate more joy and fun into my life. Kids are SO great at this! Over the years I’ve learned to let go of a lot of things (like housecleaning, lol) in order to embrace the loud, messy chaos of living and interacting with these little people God has given us. I’m having a lot more fun in these later years of parenting because I’ve learned to not take life–or myself–so seriously.

Along with fun, I would encourage parents to make time to intentionally shape your family dynamics. What do you want your family to be characterized by? What are some little habits or rituals you can incorporate into your life together that can not only be fun, but also meaningful? “Fun” doesn’t always mean unimportant silliness!

Regardless of how you choose to spend time with your family, one thing is certain: you will look back one day and realize just how true it is that “the days are long, but the years are short.” Praise God for giving us this precious time with our children!

What are some ways your family enjoys spending time together? How do you make time for God as a family? Share your ideas and tips with us!

Would you like to dive more deeply into the idea of being rooted? Check out my free 7-day mini "Be Rooted" Bible study!

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Homeschooling Through the Busy + Hard Times

Homeschooling Through the Busy + Hard Times
Last week we explored what it can look like to homeschool through the holidays. This week I'm pondering some rhyming words and how they can help us seek God's heart for our homeschool when life feels too busy or just plain hard. I pray these thoughts can be an encouragement to you if you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged...whether during the holiday season or any time of year.

Mama, when life is difficult, do you lean on God's grace? Are you rooted in the truth of who he is and who you are in Christ? In case you need a gentle reminder, we don't have to do it all. We don't have to BE all. God IS our all in all, and his grace covers us and brings us into an eternal relationship with him. If you're feeling stretched thin, take some deep breaths with your eyes closed and ask the Lord to show you the many ways he showers grace on you and your family. Then allow yourself to wallow in that wonderful, amazing grace! If our almighty, holy God can lavish us with grace...shouldn't we at least sprinkle a little on ourselves?! Yet we are often so hard on ourselves, berating our weaknesses and failures. And sadly, this mindset spills over onto our children, whether or not we intend for it to happen. 

Certainly, we must model for our children what to do when we sin. We should teach them to confess sin to God and the people we've hurt and ask for forgiveness. But we also need to model for them what to do when we simply bump up against our human limitations. Being weary or leaving a to-do list unfinished is not a sin! We must differentiate between fleshly failures that require forgiveness and healthy human limitations that simply Grace. The ability to laugh at ourselves and start over.

In the guidebook I wrote for mamas expecting a baby with a life-limiting diagnosis, I encouraged them during the difficult journey to give themselves "lots of grace and lots of space." I actually think that's an appropriate bit of advice for ALL mothers! We all need margin in our lives for the many times we need to rearrange plans and schedules because of unexpected events. Do you leave space in your day or week for this? Or are you so booked up that any change in circumstances will throw everything off? 

How about mental space? Does your brain have time to rest and be bored (important aspects for cultivating creativity!), or are you scrolling social media or navigating the internet, jumping from one distraction to another so much that your brain is constantly buzzing from all the input?

Sometimes we need emotional space. Perhaps we recognize the need for space to grieve. To process a transition. To evaluate a complex relationship.

And finally, spiritual space is crucial to everything else discussed here. If you don't yet have a habit of DAILY being in the Word and praying often (on your own and with your husband and children), I encourage you to do whatever it takes to carve out the space in your daily routine to make this a priority. That leads to our next word...

Colossians 1:17-18 tell us that Christ "is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy." When Jesus has first place in your life and you are seeking to follow and glorify him, life truly does go so much better! That's not to say we can escape difficulties, but Jesus helps us order our lives in such a way that we can navigate busy and hard times with grace and ease, being confident that "he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6).

When we follow Jesus first, our marriage takes the next place of priority, and then our children. Every family has different dynamics, of course, but these relationships are divinely ordered for our benefit and for God's glory. If we change up the order, we cause ourselves and our loved ones grief and difficulty. It's worth a quick assessment from time to time to ask ourselves: am I placing Christ first in my life? Do I put my children before my husband? Do I place activities (even good ones, such as ministry) as a higher priority than the primary relationships God has given me?

I'll close this post with the thought that we all have our own race to run. We cannot compare ourselves to anyone else. I've been learning...I cannot even compare myself to myself! I often lament that I can't do [insert activity] the way I used to 10 years ago. (Multitasking, for example, is something I used to be much better at than I am now!) I can't compare our homeschool life in 2022 to what our homeschooling looked like in 2012 or 2005. The race I'm running now looks much different from the race I ran as a young bride, a new mother, a mom of 3, or a mom of 6 holding down the fort while her husband was deployed.

And let's not allow the word "race" to make us anxious...because our individual race might involve at any given time walking, sprinting, crawling, or even heaving on the side of the path for awhile. "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2).


Which one of these resonates with you today? Share a word of encouragement you've received so others can be blessed on their journey as well!


P.S. Mama, if you're feeling overwhelmed, let's make some space on our calendars for a clarity call. I have a limited number of spots, but I'd be honored to walk alongside you and encourage you on your own race. 
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3 More Reasons I'm Thankful for Homeschooling

3 More Reasons I'm Thankful for Homeschooling
Recently I shared 3 reasons I'm grateful for homeschooling. This post gives 3 more reasons I love our home educating lifestyle! 

Friendships - 
The idea of the weird homeschool kid who "isn't socialized" is so far from the truth, it doesn't even warrant being called a "stereotype." Our kids socialize GREAT, thankyouverymuch! We cherish the bonds we form with others in the homeschool community...and that includes the friends we parents find as well! Sometimes we meet with others in a field trip setting (such as depicted in this photo, from a group event to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame & Museum of the American Cowboy). Other times it's developing deeper relationships with those we see in our homeschool enrichment classes on a weekly basis. Regardless of how or when we find those "kindred spirits," it's a blessing to find fellowship, community, and encouragement as we interact with like-minded families.

Fostering a love for learning - 
My school experience was so different from my kids' education. I was an A student, but I mostly studied to pass the test, not because I had some deep hunger for knowledge. My children's perspective on learning is much different because of the way we are able to engage in the learning process. I'm so thankful for their curiosity and the ability to dig more deeply into the things that interest them.

Forming lasting bonds - 
I know my children and teens and young adults much better because of our homeschool journey. Homeschooling requires intentionality with our personal relationships, because schooling is so much more than checking a box. I cherish the time I spend with my kids, knowing our family bonds are so much closer for being forced to figure out how to use our time and space to accommodate everyone's needs. And in addition to the relationships our kids have with their dad and myself, they are forming bonds with their siblings that are much deeper than they would have if they were separated into different grades at a local school. Yes...there are many times they drive each other (and me!) absolutely crazy. But the truth is, they love each other fiercely, and as they grow and mature, they naturally seek each other's advice and input. These relationships are so important! As we tell them, they will likely have each other much longer than they'll have us here on earth!
This photo is from Good Friday 2022. My oldest son was home from college on spring break, and my married daughter came over with her baby girl so we could have a special, symbolic lunch, with time to read from the gospels about Christ's death and resurrection. It's not always possible to have all 9 of my children (plus my grandbaby!!) together, so it's extra special when we can make it happen!

How are your relationships thriving because of homeschooling? Or perhaps they aren't at the moment...if that's true for you, I'd love to pray with you and walk alongside you as you seek God's wisdom for where you're at in  your journey. Let's hop on a call together and see where God leads us!
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