Category Archives: Encouragement

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Moms, Take Care of Yourselves, too!

Today you will find me over The Homeschool Post sharing about the very important topic of taking care of yourself so that you can better care for your family.

I was “introduced” to a wonderful homeschool mom of 25 years who teaches other moms about this very thing. Check her out and I pray that you are blessed by her knowledge.

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Homeschooling: Not for the Faint of Heart

You know, sometimes I think that when we talk to other people, we tend to gloss over the less than fun parts of homeschooling (or at least I do). But, the truth is – some days are just flat-out HARD.

The kids won’t stop arguing – everything is taken as an offense. No one wants to do their schoolwork. They don’t understand anything that you’re teaching. There are no clean dishes to prepare lunch. The list goes on and on (and on). And, you may find yourself standing there berating yourself with, “If I had only done it differently when they were small” or worse,”I’ve completely failed them!”

This week, we had a particularly bad case of one of those days. And, if I’m being completely honest here – I did not handle the situation well. I lectured, cajoled, and pleaded to please, please, please focus and do better. I even threatened (although they know I would never go through with it), “Do I need to just send you to public school? Cause you’re obviously not listening to me.”

And, the really sad thing is that I could have turned that horrible day into one of love and togetherness. Ann Voskamp has a wonderful printable called “10 Points of Joyful Parenting” that I printed out quite a while ago, but oh, how I wish I would have remembered #7 on that oh, so very trying day.

7.Today, the moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child. ~ Ann Voskamp

So, yes – I made a mistake (several, if we’re keeping count). But, luckily, I have taught my children that “We are all sinners and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)” So, they already know that I am not perfect, and there was no shock when I went into my daughter’s room that night and apologized to her for my lack of patience and asked for her forgiveness. To which she replied, “I forgive you,” and wrapped her arms around my neck. I was reminded at that moment that regardless of any of our (perceived) educational shortcomings, I haven’t “failed them” because I have continuously pointed their hearts toward God and Jesus.

Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah:and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

~ Deuteronomy 6:4-7 {American Standard}

We are blessed to be able to travel this homeschooling road – even during the rough days. Perhaps I should say – especially on the rough days. All of that time together sure does ease the small bumps and dips along the way. How do you handle those times when things are not going according to the plan? I would love to hear what works for you in the comments!

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Matthew 11:29

Rest in the Lord

Have you ever felt like God was not just whispering in your ear but yelling at you so loudly that you would have to be blind to miss the message? These are the moments when you know without a shadow of a doubt that God is interested in you personally.

Here’s an account of my most recent experience. {I’m going to apologize upfront for any randomness in this post – I’m working it all out in my own head, so I hope it comes across and you understand where I’m coming from.}

I have been tired. Just flat worn out. And, it’s not really because I’ve had too much on my plate, but rather that I’ve not been taking the time to rest and rejuvenate. But, in my mind, rest meant inactivity.

I had my perceptions turned upside down when I was up late one night, and I happened to catch a sermon {Restful Increase versus Stressful Increase} by Joseph Prince. I had never heard of him before, but he was talking about Rest so you can imagine that it caught my interest.

He was talking about how you can have rest and peace when you are doing Spirit-directed activity. He said that it is not physical rest – but rest in the Spirit. Jesus performed miracles on the Sabbath and he chastised the people who were criticizing the man who carried his bed (saying that he was working). I wish that I could remember all of the specifics, but it was very enlightening. {I found this article on the seven miracles that the Bible records were performed on the Sabbath. I haven’t had time to review all of the information by this group, but this page seems to have Biblically accurate information.}

Then, the next day I heard the following verse on the radio:

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

For me, this verse reminds me that I can rest, knowing that the Lord has plans for me, and I can rest in the knowledge that I don’t need to strain and stress over making sure that those plans take place – God is in control.

And, then for good measure, let’s add in Week 12 of the Run to Him Devotional: I Rest because He Perfectly Knows.

And, because I am hardheaded, I think God wanted to drive home the point to make sure that I remember to leave things to him, and this is the verse that I saw on a billboard:

Several days after that, I came across this post, Dear Pastor, that really spoke to me about trusting the Holy Spirit to work in my life. I can’t do it alone, but I can pray for guidance and strength.

I’m happy to say that I think I got the message. I have been making an effort to trust that the Lord will direct me in the activity that is good and of Him and to let the other things go. I have been too stressed lately, and for my health, I’ve got to find that peace {my word of the year, no less.}

How do you find the time to rest and rejuvenate? I’d love to hear what works for you in the comments!

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The Middle Years

Hey, it’s my first guest post! Follow me over to Hip Homeschool Moms where I’m talking about what to do during those Middle Years – you know, those difficult years when they aren’t little anymore, but they aren’t quite ready for high school yet…

See you there!

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tim hawkins homeschool family song

Homeschooling Fantasies

OK, if you haven’t seen it yet, you really have to watch this video by Tim Hawkins on homeschooling. Not only is it sooooo funny, but you’ll also have a better understanding of the inspiration behind this post.

At the beginning of our homeschool journey (8 years ago), this would have described my goals (and not in that funny ironic way either)  – I had some outlandish pie in the sky picture of what homeschooling was supposed to be.

If I’m being completely honest, I really did want my kids to be expert spellers. I wanted them to know Latin AND Greek – and, oh yes, let’s add in some Hebrew once they’ve got those down.

But, after less than a year with that crazy schedule, it started falling by the wayside.

Then the guilt would start.

Oh, no – we’re not doing ENOUGH!

I’ve got to cram as much knowledge as possible into their little developing brains as quickly as possible – after all, their future happiness depends on whether or not they know how to do long division by the age of 6, right?!?

WRONG.

I want their learning to be relevant to THEM and the plan that God has for them not some arbitrary perfect child who knows everything and who is fully prepared for any and every situation.

Now, we take things much more slowly, trying to match the subjects and depth of information to the child, but I still find myself slipping back into overachiever mode from time to time.

I am FIGHTING those tendencies.

I want them to enjoy learning. I want them to fully develop the gifts that God gave especially to them.

Because after all – I don’t know all of those subjects that I had planned out for them, and I would say that the Lord has given me a pretty BLESSED life – and, if they ended up with a life such as mine, would it really be all that bad?

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Educating the WholeHearted Child

Educating the WholeHearted Child

I have been absolutely giddy with excitement looking forward to telling you about this amazing resource. The 3rd version of Educating the WholeHearted Child should be on every homeschooler’s bookshelf (or at their bedside where mine seems to reside).

Some time ago, I checked out the 2nd edition of Educating the WholeHearted Child from the library, and I have to admit that I was completely overwhelmed. Here was all this wonderful information – and I was at a loss as to how to implement any of it.

This new version supplies all the specifics I was looking for and more – I almost cried with relief as I read it the first time because this is the book that I have been searching for to help me put it all together.

Clay and Sally Clarkson approach homeschooling from the viewpoint that our primary job as Christian parents is to train our children’s hearts to love God so that they are willing and ready to accomplish the tasks that God has planned for them. If we train their hearts while they are young, then they are ready for God to use for the Kingdom.

Overview

From the Publisher:

God did not forget to include “school” in his biblical design for raising children:home education is a natural expression of all that God intended for parents and their children. Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the WholeHearted Child is about rediscovering God’s original design for the family. What you’ll find in this book is a homeschooling model that makes sense. It’s an approach that is based on sound biblical principles of nurture, discipleship, instruction, and learning. Newly revised and significantly expanded, Educating the WholeHearted Child is about much more than homeschooling; it is about life. Effective Christian homeschooling must begin with the sure foundation of a Christian home, and the Clarksons’ uncomplicated, common-sense approach to life and learning will provide you with the tools you need to experience God’s abundant blessings for your family.

There are 18 chapters that are divided into four sections covering everything you need to know to train their hearts.

  • Section 1: Home – Why train their hearts
  • Section 2: Learning – How do they learn
  • Section 3: Methods – What to study (and how)
  • Section 4: Living – Putting it all together

And, if that wasn’t enough, there is also a HUGE resource section including:

  • Books for the WholeHearted Family (broken down into different genres)
  • Books for WholeHearted Learning (books on Christian family, parenting, and homeschooling)
  • Forms for WholeHearted Learning (18 forms to help you plot your course)

***italicized notes are my interpretation of the section

My Thoughts (including some comparisons to the 2nd Edition)

The first obvious difference is purely size. The new book is amazingly thick. Part of that can be attributed to the slightly larger type size (which made it so much easier to read), but also by the addition of a lot of new information and ideas. Whereas the 2nd edition had 9 chapters, this one has 18. I also find the new version to be much better organized with the information being grouped into sections that makes more sense for me.

There is an entire section on Understanding Your Child (Chapter Eight) that covers Personality and Living Styles and also includes a “Learning Style Indicator” to help you better understand how your child learns and where they are coming from.

What is their Learning Style? Do they rely on

  • Facts & Logic
  • Facts & Values
  • Insights & Values
  • Insights & Logic

What is their Personality Type? Are they a

  • Doer
  • Helper
  • Mover
  • Shaper

Is their Mental Focus ACTIVE or REFLECTIVE?

Is their Life Orientation towards TIME or EXPERIENCE?

And, after the Clarksons have helped you figure out these traits, they don’t just leave you there to figure it out for yourself. For each personality style, there is a two page spread that covers

  • Thinking Modes
  • A Description
  • Life Motto
  • Personal Encouragement
  • Personality Profile
  • Chart of Strengths and Weaknesses (SO helpful!)

They’ve also added a section on the WholeHearted Youth (beyond the child) that discusses planning for high school as well as covering the purpose of the high school years.

In Section 2, you will also find a one page synopsis of each of the Five Focused Study Areas that includes

  • The Focus
  • The Content
  • The Purpose
  • Specific Learning Objectives
  • Suggested Methods to accomplish those objectives
  • Suggested Materials to use

And, then, in Section 3, you’ll find an entire chapter devoted to the methods for each of the focused areas:

  • Discipleship Studies
  • Disciplined Studies
  • Discussion Studies
  • Discovery Studies
  • Discretionary Studies

I also really like the addition of a table of contents at the beginning of the Methods Section which makes it super easy to find the exact method you are looking for within a specific study.

All of the forms included at the back of the book are cleaner and more modern than in the 2nd edition. Some of the forms have changed, some have been added, and some have been removed. Also, some of the original forms are still there but may have a new name.

Removed Forms

  • My Homeschool Work for this Week (I thought this covered duplicate info anyway.)
  • My Assigned Reading List
  • “Fish and Bread” Character and Values Planner
  • Bible Study Notes: Book Study

Added (and changed) Forms

  • My “Get It Done” Project Planner
  • My “Read for My Life” Book Report
  • My 24 Family “Ways to Be” – Godly Character
  • My 24 Family “Ways to Go” – Biblical Values
  • Family Devotional ARTS Planner
  • Bible Reading Record
  • Family Chores Chart
  • My “Check it Out” Disciple Sheet: more focused for topical Bible study (replaces Bible Study Notes: Topical Study)
  • Devotional Journal: has only 3 on a page (instead of 6 in the prev edition) – much friendlier for a child with large penmanship

While I do wish that there was an index in the back of the book, the Table of Contents is nicely organized making it fairly easy to find exactly what I’m looking for.

Final Verdict

Educating the WholeHearted Child is my new go to resource. The amount of information they have packed into this book is nothing short of amazing. There are so many nuggets of pure gold that I imagine I will still be gleaning new information well into their college years – and maybe, dare I hope, with my homeschooled grandchildren?

This would absolutely be my gift of choice to any new homeschooling family. It almost makes me wish that I were back at the beginning again.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to get you all excited – how about the opportunity to win a copy for free?!? You know we love Apologia around here, and they have been so generous by not only providing a copy for me to read to write this review, but they are also offering one copy of the 3rd Edition of Educating the WholeHearted Child to one of my lucky readers!

Just follow the directions in the rafflecopter below to enter to win! There are lots of different ways to enter – with only one mandatory – click on the “Do It” button and answer the question in a comment. The deadline is midnight,Thursday, March 15th. Find out more about rafflecopter. (Fine Print: valid for US mailing addresses (including military) and you must be 18 yrs or older to win. Void where prohibited.)

And, if you can’t wait to see if you won, you can purchase a copy directly from Apologia for only $22. A real steal for all of the information included!

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t see the rafflecopter widget in your reader or e-mail?

Note: I was provided a complimentary copy of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Apologia for my honest and unbiased review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own, and I was not compensated by Apologia for sharing them.

Giveaway Day

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Enjoy the Moments

Today, I’m over at the Post with an important reminder. Be sure to come check it out :)

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

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100 Day Prayer

100 Days of Prayer

Can you imagine what 100 days of prayer – the same prayer – looks like? I know that I couldn’t several months ago – before I received a copy of Your 100 Day Prayer from Booksneeze.

Right off the bat, Mr. Snyder dispels the notion that it is necessary to have hours long prayer sessions in order to be effective.

Your 100 Day Prayer

You’ll find the book is broken down into 4 broad topics and then further broken down into daily topics that reads almost like a devotional study with each day having a Scripture that is applicable to that day’s topic, some commentary, a guided prayer, and a space to journal your progress. One of my favorites is Day 20: Here for a Reason.

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.

Psalm 57:2

The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on God

That’s the subtitle to this book, and I have to say that I couldn’t agree more. Even though I haven’t finished all 100 days – and I’ve missed a lot in between days – I have been immensely blessed by praying a focused prayer for a long term. I’m not going to go into detail because I do think that each person’s experience will be different.

I think that you could do the same thing without the book and still be blessed, but the text definitely gave me some insight that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Even without a guide though, I encourage you – no, I challenge you – to pray a single focused prayer (for a need or want or anything really) and see how God blesses you.

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Note: I was provided a complimentary copy of the book from BookSneeze for my fair and unbiased review. Some of the links within the post are affiliate links which means that should you purchase after clicking the link, I will make a small percentage – but, your price will remain the same.

How One Seizure Led to a Blessing

Do you ever find yourself reliving events without any reason why? Well, that’s been me lately and the only reason I can think of that I might be reviewing this particular night is because that night everything important came into clear focus.  Even so, I still relive that gut wrenching fear, and so I’m doing the only thing I know to get it out – write about it.

In June of last year I was lying on the couch at 5am because I couldn’t sleep, and I heard what sounded like a gurgling noise from my son’s room. I went to his room to see what was going on (half expecting him to be playing around making noises) and found him experiencing a grand mal seizure. If you’ve never seen someone have a seizure in front of you, you have to understand how shocking the sight is. His eyes were rolled back into his head and his body was stiff as a board and violently shaking. Even having never seen one before, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was having a seizure.

I ran to my bedroom, yelled at my husband to get up – Rex was having a seizure, and ran back to his room.  I held my (10yo) baby in my arms just trying to calm him down (not knowing at the time that that was not possible – the seizure must run it’s course.) Moon Doggy didn’t come nearly fast enough to suit me, so I screamed across the house for him to come help me.  After he arrived, I called 911, and I have to tell you that was the longest phone call of my life! By this time, Rex was no longer having the seizure, but he was now limp as a rag and completely unresponsive.

Once the paramedics arrived, I went into my daughter’s room to see if she had been awakened by all of the commotion. I found her sitting up in her bed – crying. She had been sitting in her room imagining every worst case scenario you can imagine.

The paramedics explained that a seizure looks a lot worse than it is. They told us that it was completely normal for him to be unresponsive because his little body was exhausted. I still wanted them to go ahead and take us to the hospital since he had never experienced a seizure before, and I was afraid that he would have another one.

I will say that Rex started becoming responsive when these big guys picked him up to place him on the stretcher – he was NOT happy about that at all!

Making a long story at least a little shorter, they admitted us to the hospital overnight and ran a few tests.  The next day we got the results that it looked like Benign Rolandic Epilepsy (in the left temporal lobe.) This was somewhat good news because it means that he should outgrow it by the age of 16 and won’t be something that he has to live with forever.

The frustrating thing was that when we met with the neurologist the next day, I asked him about the other little quirks that Rex has and whether they could be related. He assured me that they weren’t. I still wasn’t convinced and really wanted to have him seen by a children’s neurologist anyway.

During the sleep deprived tests at a top children’s hospital, we were asked several times if he was autistic. This had never even been a whisper when we talked with the pediatrician’s office in the past (although I will admit a suspicion on my part that he may have been on the spectrum.) I’ll have to cover that in a later post.

Luckily they referred us to the Psych department (where I had tried to get him seen previously), where we met with a phenomenal psychologist who, within 2 visits, was able to give us a positive diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Now we have some answers and are on the path to learning more about the way he thinks.

It’s amazing how the scariest night of your life can turn into a blessing in the end. 

My Word for 2012: Peace

My friends over at the HSBA Post have been talking about their “words” and plans for 2012.  I read with interest and thought that it was so awesome that they were able to have direction like that but also thinking that it wasn’t for me. 

Last night, as I was relaxing in the tub, I found myself thinking about how would you even start to find a word to define your aspirations for a year.  And, then all of a sudden, the word Peace came to me and settled on my heart.

Immediately I dismissed the idea thinking that I needed a word that conveyed action – of moving forward toward goals.  So, I tried thinking of other words and nothing just seemed to fit what I want for this next year – Peace definitely sums up what we need and where I feel that the Lord is guiding me. 

So, apparently I am one of those people and we do in fact have a word for the year and that word is Peace.

What about you – do you have a word that sums up your goals for 2012?

In Search of a Role Model

Tim keeps fightin’ them off

OK, so today we’re going to talk about a topic that you will NOT see very often on this site.

You see, I’m not a big football fan – or even any sport for that matter if I’m going to be completely truthful about it.

But, it has not escaped even my ignorant ears that Tim Tebow is being talked about wherever I go – including church.  He’s having to suffer through some pretty intense criticism – especially considering that from all appearances, it looks like he is doing everything right.

First, I’ve got to cover the top three reasons why I personally believe that Tim is worthy of role model status:

  1. He’s a very public homeschool success story.
  2. He and his parents are huge pro-life advocates.
  3. He’s committed to preserving his purity for marriage – publicly.

Basically, one guy was taking the position that Tebow is just not that great a player – he’s mediocre and is only being talked about because he’s controversial. But, then our youth pastor made such a GREAT observation – he said something along the lines of 

But, isn’t that even better? If God is using an average player to do outstanding things and to keep HIS message in the public arena.

(As a side note, I got the impression that our youth pastor did not agree with the notion that Tebow is average but was trying to make a bigger point.)

Also, my father told me that they are trying to make him change his stance because he’s doing it wrong. I totally do NOT understand this because if he’s been winning and won the Heisman Trophy, isn’t it possible that he’s just doing it different – not necessarily wrong? (Maybe that’s just the homeschooler in me talkin’…)

Now, I can’t tell you anything about Tebow’s skills, so please (oh, please) don’t lecture about whether he can or can’t play because truthfully, I have absolutely no idea – but, what I can tell you is that I respect this amazing young man who is willing to put it all on the line for his Saviour. 

Much like the Duggars, who are publicly mocked and condemned (recommended reading: Why Does the World Hate the Duggars? by my friend Cindy), Tim Tebow and his parents are living a Pro-life, Pro-family, Pro- GOD message and the people of this world will continue to challenge them to try to tear them down.

I keep hearing that he doesn’t deserve to be a winning QB because his skill level just isn’t there, and my response to that is only – do any of us truly deserve any of the blessings that we receive? Or, do we deserve nothing – absolutely nothing….or if we’re going to be completely honest – less than nothing?

So, my prayers go out to Tim and his parents to keep fighting the good fight because they are truly a blessing to this broken world. In a profession that has way too many bad role models, I am so thankful that there are a few shining lights out there that we can point out to our sons and daughters to give them confidence that they too will succeed if they stand firm in their faith.

My Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1: 2-3 (NKJV)

When Will I Get it Right?

Recently I discussed my journey through the land of discouragement, and then last night while I was waiting for sleep to come, I had the most AMAZING thought!  See if you can follow this analogy.

Imagine that your child is learning something new (shouldn’t be too hard, right?) such as developing the habit to make their bed each morning.  And then let’s say they forget. Alot. Do you want them to come to you groveling for forgiveness? Or would you rather they just admit their oversight and then take care of it? 

I’m sure that many of you are like me and don’t want to ever see your child beat themselves up for a mistake. We want to wrap our arms around them and help them to make it better – help them to learn how to succeed next time. 

Well, it all of a sudden occurred to me last night that God uses the picture of parent/child so that we can understand His feelings toward us in a real way. I’ve realized that He doesn’t want me to berate myself about my shortcomings, but instead to just come to Him, my Heavenly FATHER for help and guidance, and together – I will improve.

Doesn’t it just make your heart SING that we serve such an AMAZING God?!?