A Simplified Life

Simplified_LifeBefore summer gets away from me and life once again becomes crowded with too many homeschooling resources, parent-taxi responsibilities, and an overburdened calendar, it’s time to take a moment to breathe and simplify life. Perhaps you’re feeling like me and could use a little encouragement. Join us in reviewing this fun, simple to follow series!

With these basic, easy steps, we hope to help simplify life. Join us as we share our thoughts on how to simplify all areas of our lives, homes, and learning.

A Simplified Life: Menu Planning
A Simplified Life: Chores
A Simplified Life: Homeschooling
A Simplified Life: Educational Resources
A Simplified Life: Extra Curricular Activities
A Simplified Life: Free Printables

When Big Summer Plans Amount to Something Small

Big_Summer_Plans_Amount_to_SmallMy children long to know what we’re doing this summer. A grand adventure seems to be called for. All of their friends have announced their fantastic plans: vacations to exotic locations, camping with other friends, road trips, and more. These all sound wonderful, but with a work schedule which doesn’t let up and a budget which cannot afford such luxuries, our big summer plans are going to amount to something small.

Truthfully, this breaks my heart. I’d be lying if I said I don’t want these things for our children or myself. Like most parents, I would love to give these experiences to my littles and explore the world with them. Unfortunately, that’s just not where we’re at. So what can I do? Begin with prayer, and ask the Lord to lead.

Start with a Heart of Gratitude Unfulfilled desire can easily lead to a heart filled with bitterness and anger over what we don’t have. Instead, we need to choose look around us and be thankful for all we’ve been given. We have a lovely home, good food to eat, too much clothing, and plenty to keep us occupied right where we are. It’s good to have goals, but we must remember to be content with what God has given us already and be thankful for all He continually provides.

Plan for the Future If there is something important we wish to aim for, then we should also be willing to do the work needed to make it happen. Vacation trips don’t just fall in our laps. So, we’re researching, planning, and minimizing to make these happen in the future. Some of our goals are more easily attained while others might take years to accomplish. With a visual guide and plan in place, everyone becomes excited to see progress and help with cutting back.

Turn Off and Tune Out the Buzz If Instagram squares start causing discontent and Facebook posts bring us down, it might be time to remove ourselves from the action for a little while. These feeds can be lovely sources for ideas, but when inspiration becomes frustration we need a break.

Make the Most of Right Now Traveling to Europe isn’t in the cards right now, but there is plenty of opportunity for adventure all around us. Even when budgets are on a budget, there are still many ways to take advantage of the season. With a little creativity, planning, and a Google search or two, we could be having all kinds of fun.

Remember, Sometimes Small Amounts to Something Big While we’d all love grand adventures, it also helps to remember the little things in life which add up to big memories. Roasting marshmallows over a fire pit we built ourselves, sleeping in tents in the living room, homemade ice cream, free concerts, library events, kitten cuddles, and so much more. These aren’t far away adventures, to be sure, but grand none-the-less. I can’t provide exotic locations every summer – okay, not even every third summer – but I can take each day and make it memorable in its own way.

The desire for adventure remains. Through prayer, planning, and the Lord’s leading, perhaps one day we’ll get there. In the mean time, I’ll continue to keep my eyes focused on what the Lord has already provided and be grateful for each new day. Because the truth is, a grand adventure awaits the moment I open my eyes. I just have to be open to the possibilities and live each day with thankfulness.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:18

Your Turn!: If you could plan one grand adventure this summer, what would it be?

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The Read-Aloud Dilemma

Read_Aloud_Dilemma“Do we really have to sit here and listen, Mom? Please!” Four anxious faces stare back at me, waiting for my answer. Our current read-aloud story is supposed to be Robin Hood. The plan was to progress through the book together, taking in the beauty of the words and having an open discussion of ideas. Instead, my kids are hoping I’ll see things their way and the torture will end. We have a read-aloud dilemma and this mama’s praying for a solution.

Our stand-off might leave you with the impression our children dislike books in general. Let me assure you this is not true. Our children read an average of 100-150 books per week. Reading is not the issue. Reading aloud is not necessarily the issue either. We read our history and science lessons together daily and enjoy the experience. So what is the problem?

The Dilemma – The simple fact is reading aloud takes time. We need to be sitting down all together and work through the literature at a pace which will, on average, suit the entire family. This is difficult when you have children in a wide age range and some of your children are exceptionally fast readers. Reading aloud can additionally be challenged by children who naturally have shorter attention spans. Time dedicated for reading together might need to be short, and those children who are steeped in the read might balk at having to stop for the sake of other siblings.

While our children are all willing, and happy, to sit through read-alouds which directly pertain to our “learning day”, when it comes to fictional reads, all patience flies out the window. It seems we need a compromise.

The Compromise – I have reading lists which I’d like our children to work through, literature which would be of benefit or add beauty to their learning adventure. Rather than make them suffer through reading it as a group, these books are provided for them to read at their own pace. Often, our girls breeze through them quickly. My youngest and I slowly meander through his list with dedication, adding fun side trips to encourage a love of reading.

Outside our regular learning routine and during devotions, reading aloud as a family is generally done in the car! Those long drives to nature walks and field trips are the perfect opportunity to pop in a good audio book and enjoy a story. We can also pass around a novel, taking turns reading the book to the group.

The Discussion – As each of our children work through their reads, Mom is sure to keep an eye on progress and engage them in dialogue. We talk about favorite characters, lessons learned, world views, selections which we all found rather dull, passages which were beautiful beyond words, gentleman which were anything but, ladies who needed stiffer backbones, places we wish we could visit, and so much more. We laugh, groan, and sniffle together. As a few of us start in, the rest inevitably chime in with their thoughts or are encouraged to read faster in order to join in the conversation.

One key point I should probably highlight is that all assigned and highly recommended reads handed to our children are books I have read myself. Either I read them before handing them over or have read them in the past. If I am going to have an intelligent conversation with my children about key ideas and plot points, it would behoove me to know what they’re reading. As a side note, I would personally feel a hypocrite if I required my children to read something I had no intention of working through myself. My children take note of this and it makes an impression upon their hearts.

Now, four smiling faces urge me to, “Start the next story, please!” Happy voices remind everyone about our last read, while anxiously waiting to hear what is coming. We all settle in for the drive, and our minds are taken on a journey to another place even as our bodies are being transported on another adventure. Our read-aloud time is no longer a dilemma, but a delight.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned;”
~ II Timothy 3:14-15

Your Turn!: How has your family dedicated time for reading aloud?

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Review: Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series

“I want to try to help you understand what ‘American Exceptionalism’ and greatness is all about. It does not mean that we Americans are better than anyone else. It does not mean that there is something uniquely different about us as human beings compared to other people in the world. It does not mean that we as a country have never faced problems of our own. American Exceptionalism and greatness means that America is special because it is different from all other countries in history. It is a land built on true freedom and individual liberty and it defends both around the world.”
~ Rush Limbaugh

Adventures_of_Rush_RevereIt’s another summer of fun, and fun just isn’t the same without a few good books. To kick off our reading extravaganza, Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh sent us the entire Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series, and we can’t wait to share them with you!

Rush Revere is a series of fun, historical-fiction books teaching children about American history. There are five, hard-bound books included in the complete set which we received. The books themselves are beautifully bound with lovely illustrated dust covers. The stories are printed on semi-gloss paper made to look like old parchment, colorful illustrations and maps are found throughout each book. In each story, a different portion of early American history is covered.

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims – In an effort to better help his students appreciate history, substitute teacher Rush Revere and his horse Liberty take his class back in time to discover how America came to be. Through the use of technology – and incredible internet connection – Rush Revere’s class watch as he and Liberty show them the real picture. Our first adventure has us traveling through several “time portals”, discovering why the first Pilgrims wished to travel to America, following their journey across the Atlantic, and their plans for establishing a new colony. We meet important historical figures such as William Bradford, Captain Myles Standish, William Brewster, Samoset, and more!

Rush Revere and the First Patriots – Once again Rush Revere and Liberty have us rush, rush, rushing to history. Rush, Liberty, and a few students find themselves exploring the beginnings of the United States. Jumping through time portals, our friends meet important figures as Ben Franklin, Patrick Henry, and many other heroes. During their adventures, we learn of events leading up to the Boston Massacre and talk of revolution.

Rush Revere and the American Revolution – Rush, Liberty, and our favorite time-traveling students find themselves on another adventure; this time exploring 1775 America and meeting heroes who fought for independence. Rush Revere finally gets to meet his hero, Paul Revere, and the kids experience first-hand what it was like on that fateful night at the Old North Church.

Rush_Revere_Books

Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner – Rushing off on another adventure, our favorite time-traveling crew find themselves in 1787. Heated secret debate over the Constitution and Bill of Rights, lead our friends to meet James Madison. A hop through the time portal has them learning about a famous portrait of George Washington, the Star-Spangled Banner, and a song by Francis Scott Key.

Rush Revere and the Presidency – Rushing into our next adventure, the time-traveling crew discover just how hard running a brand-new country can be. While the students are campaigning for student body president at their local middle school, Rush Revere and Liberty have them jumping through time portals to meet presidents George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson during their time in office. Learning importance lessons from each, the students hope to win the election and save the day!

Based on our experience, we would estimate the reading level from approximately 2nd-5th grade. While my junior enjoyed reading for exploration, the books are better suited for our son in fifth grade. He has a greater appreciation for Liberty’s humor and breezes through the stories with ease. It’s taken him only a few days to finish each book. I was the first in the family to read through all the books, as I was especially keen to give them a try. I found an empty afternoon and finished all five in one go. Both of us chose to read the books independently and finish at our own pace.

Kids_Reading_Rush_RevereqIt’s impossible to tell which book in the series was our favorite, they are all wonderful. Each had many adventures we enjoyed and lessons learned. The stories are clean, well-written, educational, and enjoyable; all features we look for in our book choices. We loved “Liberty Asks How Smart Are You” questions at the back of book one, which prompted further discussion and allowed us to dig deeper. A few highlights of our read were Rush always in colonial costume, even students in the story comment on his outfit. We found this silly, and inspirational. Rush’s horse, Liberty, is quite the funny character. At times offering colorful quips, more likely to be appreciated by young boys reading the story. We were pleasantly surprised to find the stories light-hearted and enjoyable, holding kids’ interest while teaching much. As a bonus, pictures were included of kids and their books; some in costume and others with their horses, Liberty.

As we explored answers to Liberty’s questions, we made sure to spend time perusing the incredible resources to be found online at Two If By Tea. Scholarship information, challenges, projects, activities and more abound! We especially appreciated the Homeschool Depot, where we could send a message to Maddie and the Rush Revere Crew. We also found homeschool resources for each book, with lessons on William Bradford and other heroes. You can even have a look at Rush Revere’s library!

The Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series has been fantastic to review! We’ve learned much and enjoyed our new adventure in learning. What a perfect way to start our summer of fun.

If you’d like to learn more about Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series, as well as Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaughy, please visit them at their website. You can also find Adventures of Rush Revere on social media sites such as FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: What is your favorite historical-fiction book series?

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Why is Prayer a Last Resort?

Why_Is_Prayer_Last_ResortThere seems to be a trend amongst parents commenting on our recent blog posts. Prayer is something we all agree needs to happen, but is often not the first thought which comes to mind when a situation arises. Why do we use prayer as a last resort, when we could be accessing the most incredible resource available?

In our home, the Lord has shown us some unique ways in which to incorporate prayer into daily life. Join us as we review how prayer should not be the last thought which crosses our minds, but the first.

I need to be praying for each child individually. I pray for my children; all the time. At times, I will even pray for a specific child. What I don’t normally do is pray for a specific child all day long. The Lord is prompting me to do just that. Become a prayer warrior for each child individually.

I need to be praying for them on a specific day. If I don’t set myself up on a routine, I can forget what I am supposed to be doing and fail to accomplish what the Lord has set before me. I need to pick a day and dedicate that day to each of my children. For example: Trinity is going to be Mondays, Noel will be Tuesdays, and so forth. This way I form a routine and don’t leave things up to my memory or chance. It is scheduled and therefore it will get done.

I need to be praying for specific things. Each of our children have specific needs and
areas the Lord is showing me needs prayer. Through this dedicated prayer time, I need to be lifting these before the Lord. Here are some of the areas of my children’s lives about which the Lord is prompting me to pray:

  • Their walk with Him. (Never assume our children are saved or walking right with God.)
  • Their relationship with me. (That our relationship would stay strong and God-centered.)
  • Their relationship with their siblings. (That they would speak with love and kindness, putting the other person first.)
  • Their current struggles. (That the Lord would give them wisdom to know what to do, patience to help them work through it, and grace to understand we all fall short.)
  • Their maturity. (That Lord would grow them and make them sober-minded.)
  • Their future. (That the Lord would make their paths in life clear. That they would always serve Him and bring Him honor.)
  • Their future spouses. (That the Lord would be working in that other person’s life. Directing them and protecting them.)

I  need to be praying for my marriage. One of the best things we can ever do for our children is have a loving marriage that is Christ centered. Our children will learn more about life, love, and forgiveness from us, than from anywhere else. Praying for my marriage is essential.

I need to be praying for my husband. Praying for my husband is not the same as praying for my marriage. Praying for my marriage is important, but so is specifically praying for my man. He has his own struggles, dreams, and needs. Those too need to be lifted before the Lord.

I need to be praying for my outside ministries. We serve in a lot of different areas. In order to best serve those ministries, it’s extremely important to be in constant communication with God. If I am not in prayer, I risk overburdening myself and disobedience to the Lord. I need to constantly remember that He is the one leading those ministries. I am only there to help, which I cannot do if I am not listening to Him speak.

I need to find creative ways and times to pray. Through the experience of others, the Lord is also showing me creative ways to pray throughout my day. I tend to be very busy, so it helps if I can pray while I attend to the responsibilities He has put before me. Here are some ways that the Lord has opened up some time for prayer.

  • I pray while washing dishes. (Lord clean the heart of —–. Make them pure before you.)
  • I pray when I cook. (Lord feed —–‘s mind and spirit. That they would hunger for you.)
  • I pray when I clean. (Lord remove anything from —-‘s life that doesn’t need to be there. Help them to be organized and have a clean heart.)
  • I pray while I fold laundry. (Socks: Lord keep their feet on your path. Shirt: Lord touch their hearts. Etc…)
See, this could go on forever. There are many ways we can find in which to be creative about our prayer times; we just need to look for the opportunities.

I have begun to notice that as my children grow older and life seems to get more complex, I have a tendency to take on the struggles of life instead of leaving them where they belong; at the feet of Christ. My family belongs to the Lord. When I humble myself and give them over to God, I can have peace knowing that He is in control. Will you join me in spending dedicated time in prayer for our families? Trust me, you won’t regret it.

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
~ Psalm 145:18

Your Turn!: Do you have a tendency to use prayer as a last resort? What helps you remember to use prayer first and not last?

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Time’s Up!: Challenging the Fifty-Five Minute Class

Time's_UpWhen our kids were little, we had the freedom to delve into our learning unconditionally. We could study as much or as little as we wanted. Once our children merged into the higher grades, every book I read advised grading and routines be based on a certain amount of time spent in each subject; so many hours equalled a full course of study. Did I really want to set my children on a course where learning had a time-table? I couldn’t imagine myself saying, “Time’s Up!”

There were many books we read to help us better prepare for junior and senior high. Most of them advised a minimum of 55 minutes per subject per day in order for the children to fully learn the subject and give enough credit to complete each course of study. While I understand the heart behind this principle – you want to ensure your child is being fully immersed in the subject and has opportunity to explore – I think this can sometimes be misleading.

Veteran homeschoolers understand that to fully intake a class, a child does not need to sit with book in hand taking copious notes and staring at diagrams for an hour each day. (Although at times this might be helpful.) Learning comes in many forms. At times it will be on field trips, with hands-on learning, or interviewing those currently working in those fields. Sitting at a desk is merely one way our children learn.

I wonder how many new homeschooling families get confused over this issue? Do they panic at the thought of having to time their classes; stressing over whether or not they met the guidelines? I imagine that is enough to send anyone into a fit of vapors and become discouraged.

In our home, I generally do not time our learning. My children understand we have a routine. We start with one subject and move forward until all topics for the day have been covered. Even my daughters who are in high school are not timed during their learning day. I do not stress over whether or not they did learning for a particular length of time. Why is this? Because I understand some learning will be done much quicker, especially if this subject is of particular interest. I also understand some subjects take longer, depending on the day and my children’s focus.

How do we ensure our children are getting enough exposure in a given area? Through careful planning. We try to balance our book work with plenty of in-the-field training, trips, and projects to help them better understand each subject. Life is learning. With a little creativity and thoughtfulness, we can easily use this to enhance our lessons.

Does this mean we never time our children? Not necessarily. There are a few areas of study which do get timed. Our children need to understand sometimes in life this is necessary. When taking college courses, our children will be expected to complete tests in a given time period and turn in assignments on a given date. I want them to be fully prepared to enter into adulthood. So, while everything is not tested and timed, I do try to balance the two and help our children mature.

Time it not a major factor in our learning day. We study each topic to our hearts content and finish when we are done. We follow a loose routine and follow the leading of the Lord. For those new to homeschooling, I would encourage you to carefully consider how you establish your growing student’s schedule. Fifty-five minutes a day does not a course make.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
~ Proverbs 16:9

Your Turn!: What guidelines do you use to help establish a full course for junior and senior high students? Share your thoughts with the rest of us!

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The Three R’s

The_Three_RsWithin the world of homeschooling, there are many different ways to approach our children’s learning. Should we go with a classical method or perhaps a more unschooled approach? Do we use only textbooks or do we use unit studies? There are so many decisions to be made and so many areas to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming and daunting to even think about it.

When we first began to homeschool, I made sure I had a long talk with my husband about what he expected to see in our children’s education. I knew if we were together on what they were learning and if the Lord was at the center of it all, I couldn’t go wrong. I would have the peace of knowing the two most important men in my life were behind me 100%. When we talked about what we wanted from our children’s education is came down to three basic things:

Reading – If our children could read well, there was no end to the possibilities of what they could learn. Now when I say reading, it is not as simple as reading words on a page. Reading well, meant they would not only be able to pronounce the words on the page, but understand them. In order to do this, we started our children reading at a very young age, about 3 years old. We would sit daily, for short periods of time, teaching them to read basic words and then advancing them at their own pace. As they began to read on their own, we made sure they knew where the Dictionary and Thesaurus were. They were taught to look up words for themselves and learn their meanings. We also steered them toward books that would increase their vocabulary and advance them in their comprehension. After a book was read, would we talk about it. Did they understand the book? Did they understand the message the author was trying to get across?

‘Riting- Good writing skills go far beyond penmanship and the ability to write several paragraphs. We wanted our children to be able to write in such a way, that they not only could get their point across but make it interesting and compelling while doing so. In order to help them learn to write better, we not only give them lessons in grammar and penmanship, we also have creative writing exercises which force them to look at common, every objects in a new light. Previous topics have included trees, cats, birds, the art of cards, and more. Our children have been encouraged to take these basic topics and find a way to make them interesting. They are free to explore all topics at any angle they choose. Cats have been explained not only as household pets with factual information about them, but instead as emotional creatures seeking to give comfort and perhaps at times being snobbish and aloof. Trees are not simply deciduous or evergreen, but as symbols of life and death. If they can learn to make even the most common items appealing and interesting, writing more in-depth papers will be much easier.

I am sure she is thinking she should have picked a smaller pumpkin.

Reasoning –  I am sure you were all thinking that I was going to write, ‘Rithmetic; weren’t you? Nope! To us, reasoning is the other – and perhaps the most important – skill we wanted our children to learn. All of their education would be for naught, if they didn’t know how to use their minds to think things through and come to logical conclusions about life. Our worldview is not only important to us, but is essential. It is why we do what we do! Our children need to know why they believe what they believe. They need to understand other people’s worldviews and how to break down arguments to their basic principles. They need to be able to assess a situation, make a wise decision, and then know how to act upon it. There are many ways to teach our children how to reason well. We have chosen to teach our children logic, apologetics, and, yes, arithmetic. Logic will teach them to think well, Apologetics to know why they believe what they believe, and Arithmetic to work through basic day-to-day life. Each has a functional purpose and is a necessity. Think logic and apologetics need to wait until high school? Think again! There are great ways to start teaching these now! A couple of great resources are Kids4Truth and Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door. These resources can be used for kids as young as six and seven.

The truth is every education will have “gaps”. There is always going to be a subject that wasn’t covered perfectly or thoroughly. While I am sure there are a number of ways to approach home education, we felt that if these basic areas were taught and taught well, our children would be prepared for life. If our children can read, write and think well; they would be fully capable of doing whatever the Lord called them to. The rest is just details.

“Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.”
~ Proverbs 4:13

Your Turn!: What is your family’s main focus in learning?

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If It’s Not Perfect…

If_It's_Not_PerfectOrganization seems to be a prevailing struggle in life. We juggle bills, work, marriage, kids, school, and more; all while trying to maintain some sense of sanity. We do our best to make sure everything gets done and, hopefully, done on time. Amidst the balancing act, sometimes we can become frustrated and give up. We become overwhelmed by the amount of work that lays before us. The ideal of perfection is just out of our reach and so rather than trying something, we do nothing. Because after all, “If it’s not perfect, I won’t do it!”

Within the world of homeschooling, I wonder how often we deal with this dilemma? If I can’t keep our house perfect, I choose to just let it go. If I can’t organize my closet in the most perfect way, I just won’t bother. After all, if I can’t have it just so… well, I won’t do it. Sometimes it can seem pointless and daunting to start a task and not have it be everything we envisioned. However, I wonder if there isn’t a lesson to be learned here.

We need to be patient. Nothing starts off just right the first time and not everything can be done right when we want it. We need to learn to wait for the Lord’s timing. (Romans 5:4)

We need to plan.  We can’t expect our lives to become organized and less chaotic simply by wishing it to be true. A well laid plan will help us to reach our goals and give us a starting point. (1 Corinthians 14:40)

We need to take baby steps. Remember when your kids first learned to crawl and then walk? We didn’t expect them to immediately jump right up and then start running. We knew that little steps had to be taken in between. Why do we often forget that when it comes to other areas of life?

We need to be diligent. A well laid plan isn’t going to get accomplished on its own. We need to make sure that we are striving towards the end goal. (Proverbs 13:4)

As I struggle with my own perfectionism, I have found it helpful to remember these steps. I need to seek the Lord and wait upon His timing. When the Lord is ready for the project to be done, it will get done. While I am waiting, I need to formulate a plan to get the job done. When the Lord says, “GO!” I need to be ready to take those first steps and then be diligent about moving forward. I also need to remember that I might not get it right the first time. As the old adage goes, “Try, try again.”

I need to give up the ideal of perfection, for the beauty of progress. Remembering that every step forward is a step toward my final goal. While I haven’t achieved it yet, I am closer than I was yesterday and even closer than I was a month ago. Some of my goals I will achieve quickly, like organizing my junk drawer. Others will take years, like getting a new kitchen. Either way, with patience, a plan, movement, and diligence; our goals will be accomplished.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. ”
~ Philippians 3:12

📢 Chime In!: Do you struggle with this same problem? Do want to give in when your house isn’t as perfect as you’d like? How do you focus on progress and not perfection?

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A Hot Topic

A_Hot_TopicRaising our girls, we are very particular about teaching them to be mindful of their modesty. Their dresses (or skirts) can’t be much higher than their knees, they are advised on how much skin they show, and their swimsuits  always cover their bodies fully. It wasn’t until my son, however, that the issue of male modesty became a hot topic. Why is it that women have to be so concerned with covering themselves, but men do not? Why can they parade their bodies for the world to see, while we are told to cover up? In my opinion, they shouldn’t!

When I first had my son, I talked about this issue with other moms who had boys. The first and foremost answer I got was this: “Well, men are visual and women aren’t. So, they don’t have to worry about stumbling women.” Friends, I am here to tell you that is not true.

Perhaps it is the generation I grew up in or perhaps it is my personal temptation, who knows? What I do know is that the above statement does not apply to me. I am very visual. I like looking at my guy’s manly chest and his rippling muscles. (Because he has them; thank you, Lord).

In fact, when you look at society as a whole, we are pushing our daughters towards this mentality. Look at the majority of magazines, news ads, and talk shows encouraging us to ogle men. We are taught to be open about our interest and drool whenever possible.

Now, back to my original statement, if we are so concerned with our young women not being “pieces of meat” for men to gaze upon; why do we care so little for our young men? Shouldn’t they be taught to respect their bodies and keep them under wraps?

My daughters wear two piece bathing suits which look similar to shorts and t-shirts; they are UV protectant and cover them from their shoulders down to mid-thigh. When my son was old enough to get in the pool with us, at about a year old, it seemed only right he be taught the same principle. He too wears a two piece short and shirt outfit which protects and covers.

I am very grateful our homeschool PSP is of the same mindset. When we have beach days, the boys are told to wear surf shirts or body suits. The girls are not allowed to wear two piece bathing suits, and if they do, they are made to cover up with a dark-colored shirt. It is a blessing to be surrounded by people who are like-minded.

Modesty is a hot topic and one which shouldn’t only apply to girls. Our young men need to not only respect the ladies around them, but respect themselves.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
I Corinthians 6:19-20

📢 Chime In!: Do you have sons? Is their modesty an issue in your household?

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The Three Gates: Helpful Tips for Watching What We Say

Three_GatesIn our home, we have a list of things  we try not to say. While this does seem to help with keeping the peace, it doesn’t cover everything. In order to better help us manage our tongues, we have also begun practicing “The Three Gates”.

If the words we are about to speak do not “pass through” these three gates, they should never be spoken.

Gate One… Truth: Words should not be carelessly thrown around because we are upset or being emotional. We need to think carefully about our conversations and make sure we are speaking the truth. (Zech. 8:16)

Gate Two… Necessity: Yes, the words may be true; this doesn’t mean they have to be spoken. Weigh your words carefully, once said you can’t take them back. (Psalm 37:30)

Gate Three….Kindness: If the words are true and necessary, speak with a measure of kindness. Taking the extra step to ensure our words are kind, helps keep the lines of communication open. (Eph. 4:32)

With the placement of these three “gates” in our home, we are learning to become edifying and gracious. We are taking time to think about what we say, with the intention of maintaining our relationships.

Throughout our homeschooling day, we are constantly afforded the opportunity to grow our character. Using these three “gates” has helped us tremendously. We are all learning to speak with truth, correct timing, and love.

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.”
~ Proverbs 25:11

📢 Chime In!: Do you have a set of “gates” your words must pass through before they are spoken?

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