How Can We Pray For You?

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
~ I John 5:14

how_can_we_pray_for_youToday we are stepping out in faith. Truth be told, stepping out of a comfort zone. How we’re doing can be a touchy subject and one not easily approached with even our closest of companions. Even so, join us as we ask, “How can we pray for you?”

That’s it. A simple concept, if not always an easy one. How can we pray for you today, friend? Perhaps your homeschooling year is giving you trouble, your routine is still experiencing kinks, or your children are struggling with lessons. Maybe finances are in a jumble, work is slow, or your marriage needs a boost. On the plus side, everything could be going great and you have a prayer of thanksgiving. (Gotta love those!)

No matter what the need, we’d love to join you in prayer. This is what community is for. Share with us how we can pray for you today, and in the coming weeks.

A few guidelines… Not rules, per say, just things to keep in mind.

  • Share only what the Lord has put on your heart.
  • Be careful little fingers what you type. While we desire to lift everyone in prayer, this isn’t the opportunity to bash our spouses or bosses under the guise of seeking prayer. Let’s be mindful of our words; even those which are typed.
  • If you see a request listed which speaks to your heart, please feel free to pray on that person’s behalf.
  • If you do pray for that family, ‘Like’ their prayer to let them know you’re praying.

Let us step out in faith together, lifting one another before our Father in heaven. No matter where we are, there is always a need. What’s yours?

” I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.”

~ Psalm 17:6

Your Turn!: Pray with us!

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Comforting My Child’s Disappointed Hopes

comforting_my_childs_disappointed_hopesToday was a good day. A special event went well. We had no mishaps, accidents, late arrivals, or grumpy children to dim the shine of our bright morning. Don’t you just love those days? Then, there are times when plans fall apart and we’re left picking up the pieces. Our new objective is comforting our children’s disappointed hopes.

Sad, frustrated, little faces are anxiously watching. What now? We had a plan. It somehow fell through, and here we are. I feel for them. Under my adult face, I feel like a deflated balloon myself. But this isn’t about me. I bow my head, ask for wisdom, and know I need to…

Be Understanding – This isn’t necessarily someone’s fault. Emergencies happen; life is often out of our control. Yet, disappoint still hurts. I do not want to dismiss my children’s feelings with a wave of my hand and a passive, “It’s life. Move on.” My children need to know I understand. I’ve been there. Probably be there again someday. This is an opportunity to connect with my child and I don’t want to pass this by.

Offer Comfort – Hugs, back rubs, hand-holding. Each of our children receive comfort by different means. Times of disappointment call for comfort. Now is the time to dole it out.

Present Redirection – The quickest way to put disappointment behind us, is to move forward. Let’s not dwell on the problem any longer than needed. What can we do instead? If we planned a venue, perhaps this is something we can do on our own. If an activity, maybe we can alter it to meet our family’s needs or exchange it for another. Let’s put our thinking caps on and do this thing!
As a side note: While it might be tempting to redirect our day by, say, doing school… I would be foolish to follow this course of action. If they were disappointed by missing out on an event, I can pretty much ensure tears if I substitute with book work. Just sayin’.

In truth, everyday is a good day. If only we have eyes to see it. May the Lord give us gentle hearts towards our children’s disappointed hopes and wisdom to redirect their eyes upon Him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”
~ II Corinthians 1:3-5

Your Turn!: How are you inspired to comfort your children in times of disappointment?

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The Purpose of Reproof

the_purpose_of_reproofI was hurt. I’m big enough to admit that. Her words had cut me to the core and I was inwardly aching. I now had two options. I could give in to my sinful nature and show her just how badly she had made me feel. Or lead her to Christ. It all depended on my purpose of reproof.

Let’s face it. Sometimes my children can be hurtful little creatures. Let me be clear, we’re not talking simple mistakes or saying things which can embarrass us. No, this is outright rebellion, disrespect, and meanness. It comes as a shock when my children step out-of-bounds. Generally, they are very pleasing and wonderful to be around. But, every once in a while…

When my children step out-of-bounds, I need to step back from the initial impact of emotion and assess the situation. How I react in this moment will either help my children draw closer to God and bring us back into a right relationship, or it will deepen the chasm. I need to understand that, just like myself, my children are still a work in progress. God is not done with them yet. Being children, they also lack maturity. If I am leaning on the grace of God in my own life, how much more should I extend grace to my children?

If my heart is for my children to feel guilty, hurt, and/or ashamed of what they did, I too need correction. It is not my job to act like the Holy Spirit in my children’s lives. It is to lead them to Christ, allowing Him to do a work in them. I cannot do this when I am more focused on my own emotions and desires than seeing them have a right relationship with God.

Yes, I am hurt. But, so are they. Acting out is merely a sign of a deeper issue. When I remove the obstacle of my emotion, asking the Lord to lead, God is able to work through me. The purpose is to restore my children to a righteous relationship with Him. Not to vent, make them feel badly, or punish.

Does this mean my children’s actions never deserve consequences? Goodness, no! Consequences can and should be given. Children need to experience the just response to disobedience. But, there is a significant difference between just discipline and me lashing out. One is righteous and good; the other hurtful. The purpose of reproof is to help draw my children near to God. If I cannot do this – or have a hard heart – it might be the moment to step back, correcting when my heart is in the right place.

To be fair, when the dust settles, often my children are shocked by their own outbursts. They know they behaved badly and regret their choices. They don’t always know why they reacted so strongly. Here is an opportunity for maturity and growth.

May the grace of God fill me, and each of us; helping to remove those pesky emotions which love to take dominion over the heart. May we lead with mercy, discipline with love, and constantly seek to draw our children closer to God.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
~ Hebrews 12:11

Your Turn!: How are you inspired to help your children draw closer to God in moments of difficulty?

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I Loved Morning Basket, But We Dropped It Anyway

i_loved_morning_basket_but_we_dropped_itI like having a solid plan. I’m an organized soul who adores routine. And lists. Lists are my friends. But lists are not my ministry. I am called to meet the needs of my family. Sometimes this means I have to press pause on my well-scheduled plan and follow the Lord’s leading. I loved morning basket, but when it stopped meeting my family’s needs, we dropped it.

Even as I’m writing this, I sigh over my vision which has now been set aside. I had grand ideals of sitting on comfy pillows, reading amazing literature; us sharing cups of cocoa and exploring famous pieces of art. It was not to be.

To be fair, my kids gave it a shot. They quietly listened to the stories we read. We discussed the music played and perused the multitude of art books carefully placed before them. They weren’t unwilling to participate. They just weren’t receiving.

What went wrong? The concept was brilliant – if I do say to myself – our plans were well thought out. I had everything covered and fun ideas to keep things interesting. It stared out great. Slowly but surely, the kids not only lost interest in our activities, they began to dislike morning all together.

My little lady courageously braved her mother’s displeasure to pull me aside and ask if we might think about coming up with a new plan. They weren’t opposed to what I was hoping to teach, it was the method of our exploration.

Instead of starting our morning with books, together we decided lunchtime would be a better opportunity for our reads. We could listen to books while preparing lunch and enjoying a meal together. Art appreciation and music are better received when introduced organically. (Secretly, I believe this is just a ploy to put more field trips on the calendar, but we’ll keep that between ourselves.) We still start our day in prayer, but even Bible has seen a change with Pop taking over devotions at bedtime and introducing Logic.

Why did God allow us to start down this path if we weren’t meant to finish? To teach me a lesson. Morning Basket is a wonderful thing. But not every wonderful opportunity is perfect for everyone, or for all times. We enjoyed it for a season. That season has passed. The concepts are still being received, even more enjoyably than before, except now our learning takes place at a time and in a way our children are more able to receive and grow.

This isn’t the vision I had in mind. At times I foolishly wonder if I should force my children to sit and learn to like this method of receiving. It feels as if I’ve given up, and I hate giving up. In truth, I didn’t. I gave in to the leading of the Lord. There are battles I am called to fight, areas of raising children which need to be held firm. This isn’t one of them. Instead, this is an opportunity for growth. In all of us.

The basket still exists. It sits in our family room, filled with books and games to be played. I pass it often and fondly remember our quiet mornings together. Then I hear the laughter of children sharing a funny portion of the story they’ve chosen for themselves and can’t wait to share with each other. I listen to my oldest lovely recording symphonies for her iPod. I see my son looking through the art books constantly filling my husband’s shelves. And I am reminded learning takes place in many ways. This is not failure, merely another step in the adventure.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”
~ Colossians 3:21

Your Turn!: Is there an area of learning you loved, but the Lord felt the need to change?

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schoolhouse-teachers-logo_zpsx0v7ehqvJust because we’re halfway through our learning year doesn’t mean we can’t spice up our routine with a fresh, new resource! This is where and a review of their Yearly Membership came to the rescue.

SchoolhouseTeachers is the online curriculum site for Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The website is specifically designed for homeschoolers and taught from a Christian perspective. They offer classes in a multitude of subjects, from preschool and elementary homeschool courses through high school homeschool courses. Homeschool parent support and homeschool planners are also available. There is no end to the incredible resources we found while reviewing and using SchoolhouseTeachers.

Here’s what caught our eye : While a multitude of subjects are available on SchoolhouseTeachers, and all were perused, there were specific areas of learning we wished to focus our attentions.

  • Astronomy – How exciting to find this course on SchoolhouseTeachers as this was already scheduled for our second semester. We appreciated finding Appetizing Astronomy Recipes and video supplements (Field Trips in Outer Space) for the unit. Tasty and fun!
  • Art – We’re always looking for fun ways to add a little creativity to our day. Please note: Not all lessons are in video form, which some might find necessary. If video is more to your liking, try the course “Art Tips with Jan Bower”. They are short, to the point, and easy to follow.
  • Bible – We appreciated how SchoolhouseTeachers’ Bible courses contained a unit specifically for the family, not excluding the importance of this time together. However, there are many inspirational units to be found. We’ve started our girls on the Teen Bible unit, “Rebekah”. We love their hands-on approach to learning even at this age level.
  • History – We were pleased to find SchoolhouseTeachers has Drive Thru History, a history video course, which I’ve been wanting to view for some time. We can’t wait to make this part of our routine. In addition, as we’re already using Story of the World, we found the unit on Renaissance History to be a lovely complement to our existing studies, as they align perfectly and make use of these existing materials.

And what we can’t stop raving about :  Most courses cover a variety of learning methods. We found videos, recipes, printable elements, hands-on activities, online courses and more. There is so much to choose from, the learning opportunities are endless. schoolhouse-teachers-subject-selections_zps7gti8t8n-1
We love that the entire website is specifically designed with homeschoolers in mind, not education in general. Often the needs of homeschooling students differ and the distinction is much appreciated.
As parents, it was a relief to find all courses are taught from a Christian perspective, relieving our minds about reviewing every aspect of every lesson before beginning instruction with our children. We are free to explore together, which is additional fun.

How we’re using SchoolhouseTeachers : We’re pleased to have added a Bible course to our daily routine. SchoolhouseTeachers’ teen unit for girls, “Rebekah”, is a 5-day study and will be turned in at the end of the week, when we will discuss the entirety of the lesson together. Once “Rebekah” is completed, the next unit will be announced and given. Renaissance History will also be used on a daily basis for the remainder of the year, as this perfectly aligns with our current course of study.
We focus on art at least one day a week, using the available courses through SchoolhouseTeachers.
Astronomy will be incorporated a little more sporadically, as we see fit, while enjoying Appetizing Astronomy Recipes and Field Trips to Outer Space as often as possible.

We’re incredibly excited to add this new resource, SchoolhouseTeachers to our homeschooling “shelf”. This is a welcome, refreshing avenue of learning for us. We’re having so much fun exploring the possibilities.

If you’d like to learn more about SchoolhouseTeachers and Yearly Membership, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what SchoolhouseTeachers has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: Which area of study would you like to refresh this semester?

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“I’m Not Your Friend Anymore!”

im_not_your_friendIt is always hard to see our children become heartbroken and hurt, but how do we help them overcome something they have seemingly no control over? Quite recently, one of my children found herself in a difficult situation. One of her friends wanted something and when my daughter wouldn’t give in, her friend became distant and cold towards her. Her body language was clearly saying, “I’m not your friend anymore!”

To make the situation even more sticky, it seemed her friend was intent on spending additional time with one of my other daughters instead. This put both of my girls in a difficult position and added to the hurt. I decided to tackle this one person at a time.

Divide and conquer!

I sat down with the offended daughter and talked through the situation. I made sure she knew she had every right to make a decision for herself and hold fast. She needed to decide how important this issue was to her and then move forward. We also talked about what true friendship should look like.

On her friend’s behalf, I encouraged my daughter to give the girl some time to calm down. Perhaps she was just upset and needed time to think things over.

I also wanted to reinforce the fact that, while my daughter had no control over what this friend did, she did have control over how she reacted. There was no need for her to carry around a burden of guilt or be overcome by sadness; she had control over how she would let this affect her. She needed to choose to move on, giving her friend space and time.

Additionally, I sat down with her sister and explained her part in this little game. I wanted her to understand she shouldn’t allow herself to be caught in the middle. Interestingly, sister mentioned how she had tried to use that time to soften their friend’s heart. She explained her sister’s point of view and attempted to make their friend understand.

While neither of my girls could force their friend to extend forgiveness, it was comforting to know that they did stick together and support one another in this circumstance. A few days later, it seemed all was back on track and their friendships resumed. While I am glad things are more normal, I think both my girls learned a valuable life lesson and became closer for it.

If someone is going to turn their back on you simply because you won’t do what they want, they are probably not your friend. If you act that way, the same could be said. May we walk into friendships thinking less of ourselves, inspired to give everything over to God and His glory. And through each of our relationships, may we be living examples of Christ’s love.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;”
~ Philippians 2:3

Your Turn!: What advice would you have given, had this been your child?

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Do You Have a Tribe?

do_you_have_a_tribeDo you have a tight group of friends? A ‘tribe’, if you will. You know, those friends who call you simply to say hello and ask how you’re doing. People who you attend gatherings with and go on occasional field trips. A group who will encourage and edify. A tribe.

As a family, I would say our tribe starts here. We might seem small, but we are strong in Christ. From our inner circle, extends outer rings which add to our lives. Part of our tribe consists of family members, while others are friends. Members of our church and homeschool groups make up a few of the tribes we are proud to call ours.

While the bulk of our tribe is physically present, able to participate in activities together, we are blessed to have a few online as well. These are friends the Lord has brought into our lives who – even across oceans and continents – are a blessing. We pray for one another, encouraging each other in the roles God has given as Christians, spouses, parents, and homeschoolers. True, these are not common, but the Lord can do wonderful things when we seek Him out.

What is the function of a tribe? To edify, assist, and encourage. We look out for each other. We inspire one another to seek righteousness. We learn from each other, help one another, and lift one another before God.

Our tribe has not always been as large as it is now. At times, it felt as if our family and a very small group of friends were the entirety of our circles. And that’s okay. Perhaps you’re there now? Don’t be discouraged. The Lord has you here for a reason. When the time is right, the Lord will increase your tribe and have new lessons for you to learn. Until then, be prayerful in your desires and rejoice in where you are. Having a larger tribe increases fun, but it also increases responsibility and activity. And in harsh circumstances, drama. Times of quiet refresh the soul and prepare us for more.

Don’t be surprised if, on occasion, the Lord changes the dynamic of your tribe. (I think He likes to keep us on our toes.) At times the tribe will decrease, other times it will evolve in nature. On occasion, the Lord will have you step back from everything and regroup as a family. Keep Christ as your center and you can trust any change to be for the better.

As we struggle through our day-to-day activities, it helps knowing we have someone to share this journey with. May the Lord give us wisdom in selecting our friendships with care and grace to cultivate edifying relationships. And may we seek to be the iron which sharpens those we’re blessed to call family and friend.

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”
~ Proverbs 27:17

📢 Chime In!: What about your tribe inspires and helps you to be a better homeschool teacher/parent?

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Am I Gentle & Quiet?

am_i_gentle_quietI have a confession. I am not the graceful lady quietly leading her children in their studies, while symphonies play in the background. No, I’m the one who is dancing around the kitchen trying to balance cooking lunch with teaching science all while rock music is screaming in the background. For years I’ve struggled with what it means to have a gentle and quiet spirit. You know the one I’m supposed to possess and exhibit? Then, the Lord spoke to my heart and I was inspired.

You know those moms who just ooze grace and loveliness? They’re beautiful, aren’t they? While I admire them, they always left me feeling somehow inadequate. Recently, the Lord shared something with me. A gentle and quiet spirit is not something seen on the outside, it’s a matter of the heart.

Being Gentle – I once heard gentleness defined as strength under restraint. Gentleness is not weakness, just the opposite. It’s choosing not to use the strength we possess to cause harm. Before the Lord, gentleness is exhibited by showing a willingness to be led. As a lamb would, I do not fight my Maker, but willingly go where He leads. I am open to His prodding and listen when He speaks. Which leads us to…

Being Quiet – In order to do what God asks of me, I must first be able to hear His voice. I need to be able to discern His instruction amidst the shouting of the world around me. Drawing closer to Him, I am more easily able to ignore the noise and focus on His instruction. In being quiet, I am sensitive to the sound of His voice. Open to hearing God’s Word.

Being gentle and quiet doesn’t mean I can’t climb that mountain or dance with my children to rock music. This isn’t about how I relate to others, but where my heart is before God. As I become closer to Him, others will see the gentle and quiet spirit within. Hidden though it might be behind the giggles and chasing after my kids.

Do these ladies I so admire have gentle and quiet spirits? I pray they do. But, looks can be deceiving. More importantly, comparisons are harmful. When I see ladies who inspire me toward righteousness, instead of judging myself against their actions, I ought to be praying for them. Praying their outer self is a direct reflection of their inner self. Praying I would see them as God sees them. And praying I would spend less time focusing on them and more time sitting at His feet.

My gentle and quiet spirit is a work in progress. One I will be working on until the day I go to be with the Lord. Until then, be gentle with me. I’m not quite there yet.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
I Peter 3:4

📢 Chime In!: How are you inspired to have a gentle and quiet spirit?

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Finding Inspiration to Finish Strong

finding_inspiration_finish_strongHere it is, our holiday vacation is almost at an end. I’d love to tell you we’re all ready and excited to head back into our learning routine next week, but honesty demands a voice. The kids would prefer another three weeks of vacation – ahem – and mom is thinking she just now got a change to relax; it’s already time to start again? Through the leading of the Spirit, it’s time to find inspiration so we can finish our year strong.

It’s hard to remain motivated in teaching the kids when whining, fussing, complaining, and sleepy heads prevail. I further complicate the matter when I attempt to take this problem entirely upon my own shoulders instead of relying on the Lord for inspiration and wisdom. With prayer, I bow my head and ask the Lord to show us how to finish our year strong.

We Will Pray – Instead of making this my last resort, I purposefully need to make this my first hope. Through Christ all things are possible. The Lord can work in my children’s hearts, increasing anticipation for the remainder of our learning year.

We Will Create a Plan – Without a plan, we fail. If we are going to finish strong, we need to be purposeful. Things are not going to magically happen on their own. This will look different for each family, based on the Lord’s leading, but a plan is a good place to start.

We Will Look for Beauty – Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, I am going to look for it. I will remind myself of those glimpses of lovely waiting for us. The look on my child’s face when they finally get it. The beauty of an afternoon walking in the forest. The joy of discipling my littles. When I purposefully seek these out, inspiration is plentiful.

We Will Move in Faith – I’m not going to lie. There will be days which try the soul. Moments when I will hang my head and wonder if I’m doing this right. However, I will choose to not allow those moments to overcome me. Instead, we will move forward in faith that Christ will help us overcome.

I’m not sure where you’re at in your learning year. Starting, finishing, or mid-way – as we are. Wherever the Lord has you right now, I pray He would fill you with inspiration to finish strong. May we take one day at a time, looking for inspiration in the tiny moments which fill our days, and praising the Lord for each breath.

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”

Job 32:8

📢 Chime In!: Where are you finding inspiration to finish the learning year strong?

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A Little R & R

Holiday R&R

We’re taking a little holiday break this week and pray you are, too! May the Lord use this time to refresh, renew, and rebuild; both spiritually and physically. Enjoy the holiday, friends. We’ll see you back here next week!

In the meantime, catch us on social media and share in the fun!

🎄Time to Chime In: Is taking a break part of your routine right now?

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