Is Negativity Becoming a Habit?

is_negativity_becoming_habitHave you ever been around a group of people that seem to do nothing but complain? They aren’t trying to find a solution, they aren’t trying to get to the bottom of a problem. They are complaining. While we all need to vent from time-to-time, what happens when the venting isn’t just release, but constant negativity and complaints?

It is all too easy to let our emotions take over and our judgement fly out the window. We allow ourselves to wallow in our situation. An especially important side effect to our constant grumbling, is that soon our children begin to take notice. They observe we having nothing good to say; not about them, our spouse, our house, or our life situation.

Soon, our children begin to see life through our negative lens. They start to bellyache about their situation. They, too, begin to complain their days away, wading in their troubles.

What if, instead, we tried to accentuate the positive in every situation. What if we chose to be more like Pollyanna and play the “Glad Game“. Hypothetically speaking, what if we handled situations more like this:

  • No, my car isn’t working right now. But, you know, the Lord is using this situation to teach me patience. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re getting there.
  • My daughter is struggling with arithmetic right now. I know she is really smart, we just need to keep working on different ways to do our homeschooling. I am sure, with time, we’ll figure it out!
  • Things has been really difficult with my husband out of work right now. We are praying for him though and we know something good is going to come along. For now, we are just trying to be more careful with our budget and learn to be resourceful.

See the difference? Yes, I could complain my car is in the shop again and my life is being inconvenienced. I could complain I have tried explaining the same topic to my daughter, again and again, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get it. Yes, I could vent my frustrations about how my husband still hasn’t found work and I hate things being so tight. But is that the best solution?

Is my constant negativity going to make the car get fixed, my daughter learn faster, or help my husband get a job? No! Trust me when I say, our complaining is a pain… very literally. It hurts the hearts of those who hear our complaints and it hurts us to dwell on them.

When my children hear me complain about them, their hearts are injured. When my husband hears me complain about our situation, it hurts him. When I continually focus on the negative, I am hurting my own peace of mind.

While I have not, by any means, conquered this area completely; I am very happy to say I am intentionally trying to win out. I am choosing to downplay the negative and choosing to focus on the good. It might be hard to find, but every situation has a silver lining.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning,”
~ Philippians 2:14

📢 Chime In!: Do you find yourself focusing on the negative aspects of life? What helps you to refocus and accentuate the positive?

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Should I Let My Children Date?

should_i_let_my_children_dateI find it increasingly disconcerting that quite a few of my oldest daughter’s books want to talk about love and relationships. The increasing popularity of this topic brings up the issue. When will I find it acceptable for my children to focus on a relationship? How do I help my children to recognize who is “worthy” of their time and who isn’t? Should I let my children date?

I firmly believe there is a difference between dating and courtship. Dating, even by definition, is informal and meant for an appointed time. Courtship is a long, drawn-out process by which we become better acquainted with someone, with the end goal being marriage.

Very often, young people are encouraged to date and “test the waters”. After all, if they don’t date, how will they know who to marry? I wonder if this is wise. What if dating only encourages our kids to take their relationships less seriously?

I wonder what would happen if we encouraged our children not to date, but instead to become the best people they can be. To give their lives over to God and live solely for Him. Then, when the Lord feels they are ready, He would bring the right person along. What if we put our trust in Him and didn’t worry about trying out the dating world?

What about knowing who is “right” for them? Here is a revolutionary thought: What if we, as parents, simply lived out good relationships for our children to see? They would know what a good husband looks like. They would know what a good wife looks like. If we encourage our children to study their Bibles and focus on serving the Lord with their lives, then they too will know what to look for in a spouse.

If we encouraged our children to not date, but instead be surrounded by like-minded (Christ centered) friends, our children would have a greater opportunity to meet people who are real. They won’t have to worry about “putting on a good front” or discovering who the person is; they will see them for who they are from the start. Then when a romantic attachment is formed, there are fewer things to learn and less surprises. When they are friends first, their relationships have a solid foundation; especially when that friendship is mutually founded upon Christ.

In raising and homeschooling our children, we have a greater opportunity to show our children what a good marriage looks like. We can show them not only the good, but how to work through the hard. We show them qualities to admire and little things we need to look past. I can train my daughters how to keep their homes and my husband can teach our son how to provide and protect his family. We emphasize the importance of being responsible, diligent, and patient.

Since our children were young, courtship is something we have engrained in their minds. The idea of being friends and getting to know people before becoming romantically involved. The idea of preparing yourself, before you go looking for a spouse. The idea of waiting on the Lord to bring the right person, instead of searching out the desires of your own heart, which can often lead you astray.

Thankfully, my daughter seems to skip right over books which center on this topic, and if she reads a book which happens to have a relationship involved, she usually gives it little thought. However, when the topic does come up, it is nice to know we can have an open discussion about our faith and personal beliefs, using this topic to help our children make the best decisions for the future.

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
~II Timothy 2:22

📢 Chime In!: Are your children old enough to date? How do you help them learn to choose the right spouse?

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Am I Living Intentionally?

am_i_living_intentionallyThe only saying I can think of, in regards to intentions, doesn’t seem very encouraging. (You know… “The road to h—“, and all that?) It almost makes it seem as if having good intentions is a bad thing. I wonder though; if we never intended anything, how much would get accomplished? In order for us to reach our goal, we must first intend for that to be our goal. It is hard to hit a target, when you having nothing to aim for!

Over the course of my life, I hope there are many things about which I am intentional.

I intend to be an example of my faith. While, over the course of my life, I will fall short and makes mistakes, my greatest intention is to live a life that leads people to God. I need to wake up everyday, learning from my mistakes and giving the new day over to Him, intending to bring Him glory.

I intend to respect and love my husband. I need to daily make a point of showing him how much he is appreciated.

I intend to be a good parent.  I want my children to never doubt how much they are cared for. I seek to meet their needs and, if possible, fill their lives with joy. I intend to love them, teach them, and help them grow in wisdom.

I intend to be a caring friend. No friendship can survive without care. I should to make a point of setting aside time to remember those close to me and to let them know how much their friendship means.

I intend to give God my all. Life is short. While I have breath in my lungs, I want to give it everything I have.

I think the problem most people have with good intentions, is that they remain just that… intentions. Intentions are not always followed through; we start out with good ones and then leave them in the dust when something causes us to deviate from our path.

Intentions are a good starting point, but we need to make sure we are diligently following through, making those intentions a reality.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
~ I John 3:18

📢 Chime In!: Do you struggle with making intention become reality?

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Am I Provoking My Child?

am_i_provokingLife can be challenging, especially for a child. There are so many things to learn, rules to follow, and people to obey. They have seemingly little control over their own lives and can often get frustrated when things do not go their way. One of the most frustrating trials a child can face is when their own parent provokes them. Whether we mean to or not, as parents we can push our children beyond what they are able to endure.

I find it beneficial to periodically reflect on my parenting; making sure I am not the source of my child’s frustration (and least not purposefully). Here is a list of ways that I can provoke my children:

  • Constant criticism and a failure to encourage
  • Double standards and/or being a hypocrite
  • Being angry and harsh
  • Lack of affection
  • Telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons
  • Comparing them to others
  • Embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
  • Lecturing them and not listening
  • Failing to be humble and asking for forgiveness
  • Micromanagement
  • Giving them a greater burden than they can bear (whether it is homeschooling work, chores, or responsibilities)

The Bible teaches that we are not to provoke our children to anger. (“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4) While this verse speaks directly to Fathers, I am sure it must also apply to us moms.

Reflecting on my parenting and my relationship with my children, I am able to clearly see ways in which I am failing as a parent and ways in which I can improve. While I will constantly fail, I pray that I am getting better.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged.”
~ Colossians 3:21

📢 Chime In!: Upon reflection, do you struggling in this area?

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Is Happiness a Factor For Choosing Homeschooling?

factor_for_homeschoolingI suppose there are many reasons to homeschool, some more pressing than others. One of the most recent arguments I have heard is that homeschooling brings happiness. Of all the reasons we have chosen to homeschool, happiness is not among them. Why, do we not want to be happy? Of course we do! But what happens when the momentary happiness is gone?

As much as we would all like to project the image of well-rounded kiddos, perfect houses, brilliant minds, and endless talents, the truth of the matter is there are days when life is just plain hard! Kids don’t always get along, the house can’t seem to stay clean, and life just keeps interfering with our well-laid plans.

If we homeschool because ‘it brings us happiness’, we run the risk of burn out during those moments which are less than cheerful.

Don’t get me wrong, I often experience moments of happiness while learning with my children. Our family is, generally speaking, a happy one. That does not mean this is our reason for homeschooling.

We homeschool to have better relationships within our family, to disciple our children, to further their education, and to encourage a love of learning. Most importantly, we homeschool because this is what God called us to do.

Joy is a byproduct of a well-lived life serving the Lord. I would pray each of us be filled with joy. However, I would caution anyone from pursuing homeschooling because they assume happiness and joy will naturally flow due to this choice of lifestyle. Joy stems not from circumstances, which might change, but is a gift which we openly acknowledge comes from God. When they are following His leading, joy simply emanates. More importantly, we are walking righteously.

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
~Psalm 16:11

📢 Chime In!: Was happiness a motive when you were deciding whether or not to homeschool?

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Book Review: Nature Anatomy

“It is infinitely well worth the mother’s while to take some pains every day to secure, in the first place, that her children spend hours daily amongst rural and natural objects; and, in the second place, to infuse into them, or rather, to cherish in them, the love of investigation…”
~ Charlotte Mason

nature_studyWe grew up in an urban jungle. Football fields, playgrounds, and carefully manicured lawns were the extent of the great outdoors. Having moved to the outskirts of said jungle, opportunities to explore nature are more readily available. But, after years of living with concrete, where does a city girl begin? For this gal, it always starts with a book. And some research.

Nature Anatomy, by Julia Rothman is beautifully illustrated and well thought out. Chapters include “Common Ground”, “What’s Up?”, “Come Close”, and more. This is definitely one book you’ll want in your pack when out exploring nature with the family.

While we have a small collection of nature study guides amassing, none are quite as child-friendly as Nature Anatomy. We found each chapter inviting, encouraging, and helpful. Perhaps not as concise as The Handbook of Nature Study, Nature Anatomy does a fine job of presenting information in a way children will feel comfortable and less intimidated by a heftier volume on the topic. 

We’ll be using Nature Anatomy both in our own studies and with a local nature group we’ve recently joined. We’re excited to share this adventure with nearby homeschoolers who are also looking for outdoor fun. Prayerfully, this city gal will gain much-needed hands-on experience and get a feel for where she’d like to go with future lessons.

Nature Anatomy is only one of the few books Ms. Rothman has illustrated. You’ll be pleased to find Farm Anatomy and, the upcoming read, Food Anatomy, as well. Do we plan to use either on a regular basis? Probably not. Is that going to stop me from adding them to my lovely collection? Absolutely not! Learning about farming, and food, just might become an occasional portion of our homeschooling routine. If you’re going to buy one, might as well have the complete set, right?

We’ve given a good portion of research time over to this area of study in the past several months. I feel as if we’re playing catch up in this department. Having not given any dedicated time – much less formal lessons – over to nature study, we were unclear as to where we should begin. We’ve uncovered a great many books, this one being the family favorite. Now to put it to good use and start exploring!

“Go to the ant,…  Observe her ways and be wise,”
~Proverbs 6:6

📢 Chime In!: How often are nature studies a part of your homeschooling lessons?

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Our Field Trip Survival Guide

Field-Trips

Who doesn’t like a good field trip? There’s nothing quite like fresh air, a change of scenery,  and a little exercise to rejuvenate your learning routine. While field trips can be a lot of fun, they will quickly turn into a frustrating mess when not planned properly. Join us as we share tips on how to make the most of any field trip and explore ideas for a smoother day.

When it comes to field trips, the last thing to pop into our minds is research. Usually, we just pick a day to get out of the house, pick a location to spend the day, hop in our cars, and take off! What usually results is a busy rush to get out the door, cranky kids wondering when we will arrive, and an overly full afternoon rushing around the exhibits, trying to get the most out of the trip before heading back home again.

What if we could make the day more simple? Wouldn’t the trip be much more enjoyable if we had a plan of attack and were better prepared? I think so! After planning field trips, both for myself and for larger groups, there are a few tips we’ve learned along the way.

While the bulk of our field trips revolve around some aspect of my children’s education, all excursions would be rather pointless if we left out one essential element… fun! This is time with our children, family, and/or friends. A day is not successful because we hit every point on the map and fulfilled our goals in the time estimated. We are successful when we have enjoyed our children’s presence and, hopefully, learned a little something along the way.

Go out and explore! Have a lot of fun and enjoy your children while they are young. It won’t last forever.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
~ Job 12:7-10

📢 Chime In!: How much planning goes into your field trips?

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Entropy, I Really Dislike That Word

en·tro·py

ˈentrəpē
noun
… 2. lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

entropyIt never occurred to me I should post pictures of our house while it is in a state of chaos. If I stopped to think about it, I suppose this is because I thought seeing organization would be a source of inspiration.

A friend recently commented, however, we sometimes need to see the mess in order to appreciate the neat. We need to know people are human, just like the rest of us, with the same dirty dishes and masses of laundry.

This is what plagues me daily….

I am constantly between a state of organization and chaos. I flip-flop from one to the other so quickly sometimes it is a wonder we even bother. We are continually going from “there and back again”. The bookshelf in our girls’ room tends to get used for just about everything. The kitchen table is constantly covered with projects. The sink is perpetually filled. Floors get sticky, counters are wet, and let’s not look at cupboards, please.

Did I mention entropy is not my friend? Just when things are neat and clean, they get messed up all over again. My husband is constantly reminding me it is just a matter of entropy. Rrrrrr…. No matter how hard I try, no matter how long we work, entropy is bound to take over. The most I can hope for is lulls amidst the madness.

I try to remind myself that when my kids are older, they will remember the memories made in these rooms. Yes, part of our homeschooling is that they learn to clean their house and wash the laundry; but, if they know how to clean and not how to love, I have failed.

I would like to think these rooms have shared a lot of love and just as many memories… Now, if they could just stay clean!

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
~ I Corinthians 13:1-3 (emphasis mine)

📢 Chime In!: Are you constantly in a state of entropy, or am I on my own here?

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Podcast Central – Our Favorite Feeds & Why We’re Listening

podcast_central

The kids are loaded. The bags are packed. It’s going to be a long drive. Do we listen to tunes? Possibly. These days, more often than not, our listening pleasure leans toward podcasts. With the excellent selection currently available, who can blame us?

Until recently, I don’t know how much attention I’d ever given podcasts. Now, we have a lovely list of choices at our fingertips and we couldn’t be more pleased. Here’s our favorite feeds and why we listen:

At Home – At Home is hosted by the sweetest group of homeschool mammas. They tell it like it is, no holds barred. Each podcast discusses the reality of homeschooling: what’s worked – and hasn’t – in their families, resources their loving, and helpful tips to get us through our homeschooling year. Each topic is carefully chosen, with thought-provoking questions peppered throughout the session. This is one of my personal favorites.

Encounters – A family selection… Each episode features a different creature of God’s creation. We’re encouraged to listen carefully, with ample opportunity given to hear what each sounds like in various situations. There’s a multitude of podcasts already available; we’ve only begun to enjoy this series. For those desiring in-depth materials regarding each podcast, visit their website (link provided) for additional links and lesson plans.

Myths and Legends – Another of our family choices. Truthfully, this is probably our top podcast choice. It’s funny, educational, and simply delightful. Each episode covers a different legend, exploring its historical context and from where the legend itself derives. Be forewarned, some of these legends are quite violent. While there is nothing inappropriate in any of the episodes (at least none we’ve listened to thus far), blood and gore are mentioned.

Your Morning Basket – Designed more for parents, YMB discusses various choices added to morning reading selections and why each has value. Several of the podcasts are interviews with homeschooling families; we’re given a glimpse of how they handle morning basket and what they’re reading. You’ll also find an occasional interview with professionals in the field of literature.

Read-Aloud Revival Another parental selection, RAR focuses on the joy of reading aloud to our children no matter their age. Mrs. Mackenzie covers a multitude of literature her family enjoys, and encourages families to revisit this lost art. Most episodes are interviews with various authors and experts in literature.  

Listening to great music is always a win. But, we’re jazzed to change-up our schedule with something a little different. These podcasts keep us informed and learning something new. We’re blessed in being able to enjoy such pleasures!

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. “For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
Matthew 13:16-17

📢 Chime In!: Is there a podcast you recommend?

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May I Quote You? – Incorporating Quotations in Our Homeschool Day

“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”
~ Marlene Dietrich

may_quote_youThroughout our homeschool year, we make a point of searching out and memorizing quotes. Often our citations correspond to our science and history lessons. Occasionally, there are passages of classic literature. More than most, we focus on Scripture.

Why do we place an emphasis on quotations? Studying important passages, speeches, and writings gives our children a better understanding of the world and events surrounding our chosen citation. We learn to research primary sources. We develop a deeper appreciation for a well-chosen word. As is the case with classic literature, our children gain insight into where our language and idioms derive.

How are we incorporating this into our routine? While creating outlines for the year, bookmarks regarding speeches, quotations, and corresponding Scripture are notated.  During both our morning basket time and history/science units, several minutes are spent in the study of our chosen passage. We read the selection, discussing both the passage itself and (if possible) the primary source. We evaluate the circumstances surrounding our excerpt. Our children are free to share their thoughts and opinions, constantly being led back to Scripture to hear what God’s Word has to say on the topic.

Think the children will lose interest in a study of quotations? You might be pleasantly surprised! Consider ‘dressing the part’; putting on costumes to recreate the scene from which the passage was taken. (I distinctly remember having to stand atop a table to give a rousing rendition of The Preamble to the Constitution. I’ll never forget it.) Look for exciting ways to engage the children and I guarantee they will not only enjoy these brief lessons, but look forward to them.

It ought to go without saying, the study of Scripture is to be our highest aim. If our children can quote Keats and Shakespeare yet lack a thorough knowledge of the Bible, I have failed. The study, memorization, and recitation of God’s Word is an active part of our children’s education. It is the ruler by which all other knowledge is to be measured.

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
~ Joshua 1:8

📢 Chime In!: Do you have a preferred method of memorization? Please share your tips!

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