Why That Inexpensive Grocery List Might Not Be Working & Why That’s Okay

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I’m sure most of us have been here. We spot a blog post, Pinterest article, Instagram photo, or something along those lines, advertising one family’s ability to spend what seems a minuscule amount on their grocery bill and we immediately perk up. What’s not to appeal? But upon further inspection we quickly realize it won’t work. Not for our household. What’s wrong with us? Absolutely nothing!

Now I can hear some of you dear readers already. The questions are rolling around in your heads. That’s okay, we can be honest with one another. Am I condemning these lovely people with their amazing lists? Nope. Never. I wish could make these lists work; truly. But here’s the thing…

Their family is NOT my family. Their needs are not our needs. Their location not our location. Their children not my children. (You get the point.) So while I would love to make my grocery bill total look like theirs, it just won’t work. And the same is true in every area of life, not just groceries!

Whether it’s how we homeschool, parental choices, reading materials, or anything else; the minute I start comparing myself to others I lose sight of what God is trying to do in my own family. It’s wonderful to be inspired and encouraged to explore options to be better organized, but the minute I become discontent with what I have or start doubting the path the Lord has put before me, is the moment I need to put distractions aside and ask for wisdom.

Maybe the Lord has something to show me, a better way we could be using the resources He has blessed us with. On the other hand, maybe I am merely meant to congratulate another family on how well they are doing in their adventure of life. What I am not to do is feel condemned or belittled if I am following God’s lead.

I want to be frugal and those lists are inspiring, but my life isn’t someone else’s life. We live in different locations, with different needs, with different families. I am not to compare myself to others. Instead, I am to do my best where I am. If that’s $50 per week on groceries; great. If it’s more like $120; that’s okay, too. If it’s homeschooling in a more classical sense, beautiful. If we’re eclectic and learning hands-on, that’s just as lovely.

So, when we see that article announcing, ‘My Grocery Bill is only $50, and You Can Do It Too!’ Go for it. Give it a shot. If it works, awesome. If not. Don’t sweat it. Send that writer a “Hallelujah” and then ask God what His plan is for your family. Because – let’s face it – whether you spend a little or whether you spend a lot, just knowing we’re even having a meal is a blessing. No matter the cost.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
~ James 1:5

We’d love to know… What is one grocery item you tend to splurge on?

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Including the Littles in Our Learning

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Our children are not as little as they used to be, and learning has progressed to a point where we can all sit together and focus on the day’s activities. But this was not always so. I fondly remember sitting at the kitchen table with all three of my girls; mommy bouncing between them, trying to breathe and exhibit patience while attempting to simultaneously help them. Just when I thought I had things under control I would spot my son out of the corner of my eye. Not quite old enough to school along with his sisters, it quickly became apparent that he too needed attention and an opportunity to learn. It was time to get creative!

Balancing four kiddos during homeschooling can be challenging enough, but when one is not quite school age, it can get a little tricky. Along the way we have learned some fun tips and ideas on how to include our little learners and make them feel welcome at the table.

Set up a play area just for them. While my daughters were doing school, my son had a section of our living room set up just for him. There he could play, read, and create without worrying about anyone else invading his space. He also learned how to keep himself occupied without needing anyone to entertain him.

Rotate daily play toys. Each day of the week, I tried to give him something different to keep him occupied. I would also try to make sure there were several options for that day. For example: On Monday we might have Legos, his pirate ship, or his talking Mickey Mouse. On Tuesday we might have his train sets, his board games, or his books. I tried to not make all his toys accessible at once, as this would cause boredom and make it harder to keep him occupied. If he asked for one specifically I will make the trade, but I only left it out for that day.

Include them, as much as possible, in what you are doing. While my son enjoyed play time, at some point he become interested in what was going on at the table and wanted to be included. To help him feel welcome, we provided coloring pages or tracing papers he could use. When possible, we made sure he participated in our unit activities. (i.e. When we learned about magnetism, he played with magnets. When we learned about the Civil War, he got to be dressed up as a soldier and play a drum.)

Start them on their own learning day as soon as possible. Children as young as three and four can begin their own learning day. This will encourage them in their love of learning and start the “schooling” process off nice and easy. All of our kids started their learning day at three years old. Nothing too complex or too time consuming; just enough to get them used to sitting at the table and putting their mind to the task.

Get the big kids to help out. Being able to keep yourself occupied is an important skill. However, it is nice to have someone to play with after a time. When one of my girls was finished with her studies or needed a break, she would hop on over to little brother and help out. She would play with him, read to him, and help keep him entertained. This allowed me to help out the others or to just get things done around the house.

Having younger learners and babies in the house can be a challenge, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Learning to include our littles can be an exercise in joy and set the stage for their future schooling adventures. With a bit of patience, organization, and creativity they too can join us at the table. Then the real fun begins!

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

~ Matthew 19:14

We’d love to know… How do you – did you – include your littlest of learners into your schooling routine?

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When Our Audience Doesn’t Applaud

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The blank looks on their faces aren’t exactly encouraging. Nor are the complaints which are starting to rain down as my instructions are beginning to sink in. For all my planning, prepping, and organization, my audience is not enjoying this lesson. Where was the applause I was hoping for?

I wish I could tell you every homeschool day was a great one. I’d love to say my kids enjoy each and every lesson planned. I’d even settle for informing you that my children appreciate all my hard work. But, the truth is they don’t. When we have grand expectations of how our audience (children) will respond and we fall short of that expectation, life can become discouraging. What are we to do when our kids doesn’t applaud our efforts?

Pray – Prayer is key. Before we get upset, discouraged, or make a move, we need to pray; asking the Lord to show us truth.

Be Humble – No matter how much effort we put into these activities, lessons, or projects, we aren’t perfect. Even if we spent all day ‘perfecting’ our ideas, we need to understand our children are human, too. The concept might be great, but we’ve chosen a bad time or our children aren’t ready for this quite yet. Allowing pride to take hold would only cause further damage and prevent future lessons from being successful.

Be Realistic – Wouldn’t it be great if all our efforts were always recognized and everyone loved everything we do? Yeah. I’d like that, too. But, we live in reality. The truth is, not everything we do is going to be applauded. If we stand around waiting for people to notice us or are unhappy when we aren’t given the appreciation we feel we deserve, we remove ourselves from being of service to others and to God. God isn’t looking for someone who has wonderful audiences and receives thunderous applause. He’s looking for someone willing to serve, even when no one appreciates them.

Remember Our Real Audience – Who is our audience? God! While I’d love for my kids to think everything I do is simply wonderful and get pats on the back for even mopping my dirty floors, I need to remember I don’t serve my kids. I serve God. What matters is He sees and He knows. Even if no one else in the world ever realizes all I do, God sees and He cares. My efforts are not in vain, if all I do is done unto Him and for His glory.

Let’s face it. We all like being recognized for our hard work. I am no different. But, when my focus becomes appreciation instead of righteousness, I am in danger of losing my audience altogether. Instead of worrying about praise, I need to be focusing on pointing my children toward Christ.

It will never matter how much I have done, but it will always matter how much Christ has done in me, through me and for me. If I am not pointing people to Him, the praise is in vain.

“Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart:…”
I Samuel 12:24

We’re curious… Now that you’re an adult, and better appreciate the hard work which comes with parenting, do you ever go back and thank your parents for all they did?

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What If I Could Do It All Over Again?

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As a few of my children near the end of their learning adventure, I can’t help but reflect on the years we’ve spent together. The fun, the adventures, the friends, and, yes, the struggles. I suppose it’s natural to wonder what life – homeschooling life – might have looked like if we’d done things a little differently. But if I could go back and do it all over again, would I change anything?

Perhaps maybe one or two things. Perhaps…

I would have liked to be more purposeful in nature journaling; take more hikes and stress less over tests; there are resources I would have loved to own; books I wish I’d read; and places we could have visited. I would take back my moments of weakness, unkindness, and impatience; replacing them with a more Christ-like representation of myself.

But then the Lord reminds me this is not possible. Not only because time-machines have yet to be invented, but because each step of our journey has been just that. Ours. That cannot be replaced. And I don’t want to take back a moment. Not the spills, the mistakes, or the heartache.

As I reflect on each memory I might like to redo, the Lord speaks to my heart and reminds me of the beauty which followed. The life lessons, the spiritual gifts we gained, and the compassion instilled in us. For every resource we made-do without, we learned ingenuity and resourcefulness. While we might not have gone on many vacations, we’ve visited every haunt in our area and could probably write our own field trip guide. No, we didn’t hike or nature journal when the kids were younger. (I can hear the collective gasp.) But we are making up for lost time and my children have a great appreciation for God’s creation.

Our learning adventure has not been perfect. But the Lord calms my heart and reminds me no one’s journey is and yet everyone’s journey is. It is perfect for them. All those wonderful things were meant for just us. All of the hard, the challenging, were specifically designed to help our family grow.

As we launch into another calendar year, I am encouraged. One of our children will be graduating, and we will no longer have elementary students in our home. My heart grieves just a little knowing this part of our journey is almost over. Yet I take joy in knowing it has been a blessed adventure, and it’s not over quite yet!

How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD.
~ Psalm 119:1

We’re curious… If you could start your learning adventure over again, what would you like to do differently?

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5 Ways to Avoid Mid-Year Burnout

Five Ways to Avoid Mid-Year Burnout

Whether it be the lack of sun due to cloudy skies, the snow-covered world begging us to hibernate, or rainy weather forbidding us to explore outside, the fact is mid-year for most homeschooling families is hard. If we aren’t careful, our excitement for learning can quickly turn into mid-year burnout.

The year is half over, the review portion of our materials has long passed and we are now into the nitty-gritty of our lessons; the harder sections which stretch our kids minds and add those wrinkles to the brain. Add to this the cooler weather, practically forcing us indoors, and you soon have the makings of an unhappy family.

What’s a parent to do? How do we turn our routine around so mom doesn’t go crazy and the kids don’t start climbing the walls? Over the years, we’ve learned a couple of changes in our routine help us avoid mid-year burnout and help us finish strong:

Get Fresh Air – Even if you’re just going for a brisk walk or stepping onto your front porch, take a moment to enjoy some fresh air. Being indoors constantly can leave you feeling claustrophobic and tired. Our bodies need sunshine and clean air in order to function well. Plus, it doesn’t hurt the soul to enjoy God’s creation.

Change Your Routine – Tired of doing the same ol’ thing? Try changing it up! Switch your routine of subjects around. Change which days you do your chores. Find some creative way to mix things up, without making your life madness. Just a little altering might help you view life a little differently.

Exercise – You’ve been inside too much, possibly sitting down a bulk of the day. Consider getting a little exercise and stretching out those muscles. Running, jogging, and hiking are all great ways to get some exercise. If you can’t get outdoors, consider aerobic routines which the kids could do with you.

Take a Moment For Yourself – Let’s face it, when the family is forced to stay indoors all day, the kids tend to want more attention. They’ve played with all their toys, watched all their movies, read all their books, and are, frankly, just as stir crazy as you are right now. Consider trading play days with friends, giving each other an afternoon ‘off’ to just relax and enjoy peace and quiet. Ask Dad to watch the kids for the night and go enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend. Have Grandma watch the kids and you both go enjoy a movie! No matter how you manage it, take a moment or two for yourself; breathe and refresh your soul in order to finish your year well.

Spend Some Time With Friends or Fellow Homeschoolers – It helps to commiserate fellowship with other homeschooling parents who completely understand what you are going through. Set up a play date, park day, baking day, any day, just to visit with friends. Spend the day encouraging one another and exploring ways to break the lethargy which seems to be taking hold.

The year is about half over. (At least for those following a traditional learning routine.) Don’t allow a short season of restlessness to overshadow the amazing year you’ve been having so far. Take charge of life and get out of the winter rut.

Find what works for you, make it happen, and finish your year strong. Enjoy your adventure!
Cristina

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

~ Matthew 11:28-30

We’re Curious… As a mom, one of the hardest (and silliest) things I used to let bug me was allowing my kids to play in the rain. I was always taught this could make kids sick and, frankly, what was I going to do with all those wet clothes? To my kids’ delight, we got over this and have awesome pictures to show for it. What was one of the hardest (and silliest) things that used to bother you about rainy/snowy days?

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We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

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If you’re reading, may we wish you a Merry Christmas. May the true reason for today’s celebration be evident in your home and meaningful to your heart.

We’ll be back in one short week. Until then, we pray blessings over your day and all the days to come.
Merry Christmas!

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

~ I Timothy 3:16

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Who Has Time for a Sick Day?

Who_Has_Time_for_a_Sick_Day?It got me. I’ve been skillfully avoiding it for the last few weeks, and lacking all subtlety the dreaded virus finally caught up with me. I am now under the weather. Strictly speaking, sick. Doesn’t this ill-timed disease understand I don’t have time for this? I’m a mom. I’m a homeschooling mom. I’m a mom with way too much on my plate to become even the slightest bit tired much less down for the count. I can’t take a sick day. Who has time for a sick day?

Dramatics aside, how does being sick affect our learning routine? It’s one thing for one of my children to be sick. Mom can attend to their needs while keeping the remainder of our household intact. But when I get sick almost everything stops. As we can’t afford to keep this up for too long, I need a plan of attack:

Just How Sick Am I? I might not be feeling at top shape, however this doesn’t mean I’m necessarily bedridden for the day either. The minute I start feeling sick, I try to take an assessment of how bad this might get and act accordingly. The worst thing I can do is push myself too hard when I really need rest. Neither do I wish to take a day off when all I really needed was a little peppermint oil and a cup of tea.

Prayer First The Lord knows what I need and how to tackle this issue. Before I allow my mind to wander into unhealthy thinking or worry, I ask the Lord to comfort my heart and give me peace about how this day is going to go. Of course, asking for the Lord to heal me instantly isn’t unfathomable. It doesn’t usually happen, but why not ask?

Slow & Steady Because I have issues with not going through with my day as planned, I generally try to get as much done as I can while avoiding the fact that I am truly sick. (Ridiculous, I know.) My brilliant strategy? Do things slowly and with care, then I won’t over-tire myself and I will still feel accomplished. This usually works until my body rebels and I’m flat on my back resting.

Eating Myself to Wellness When I’m sick the last thing I want to do is eat. However, to maintain strength and fight off illness, I make an attempt at eating that which will bolster my system. My husband’s cure for just about everything is chicken noodle soup. Before you laugh, that stuff rocks. (The homemade kind. Avoid the cans if at all possible.) I also make sure to increase the amount of dark greens I’m eating, avoid caffeine, and intake as many liquids as possible.

Rest & Relaxation The hardest thing of all to do, yet the most needed. Everywhere I look I see things which need to get done. Things I had planned to do. But if I plan to get up and do those things tomorrow – without falling on my face – I need to get some rest. It’s time to make this a fun “sick day” event by pulling out the couch, letting the kids pick their favorite flicks, and allowing the teenagers to play doctor. Hard, right? Yeah, I know.

I don’t often get sick. When I do I usually am back to normal within twenty-four hours. I seem to have a remarkably strong immune system. I am truly blessed. Perhaps this is why it always surprises me on those odd occasions when I manage to contract something or other. By the time you read this post, I’m sure I’ll be back to full speed and laughing over my silliness. Until then… I really dislike being sick.

While I overstate my case for the sake of humor, I truly feel for those moms who are dealing with illnesses infinitely more difficult than mine. Feeling sluggish and slightly light-headed is nothing in comparison to parents who are truly ill. My heart goes out to you. May the Lord be your strength, comfort, and Healer.

We’d like to know… What is your plan of attack for sick days?

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases”
~ Psalm 103:2-3

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10 Life Lessons from Generation Joshua and SAT’s

ten_life_lessons_from_genjNow I know November has all but come and gone, but before the title of this post sends anyone into a panic, please allow me to put your mind to rest. This month held a lot of amazing life lessons but taking college SAT’s was not one of them. No, our little family had the opportunity and blessing of attending our first Generation Joshua Student Action Team event, and we can’t stop talking about it!

Generation Joshua is an American Christian youth organization founded in 2003 that aims to encourage young people to learn about and become involved in government, history, civics, and politics. During election months throughout the year students and their parents have the opportunity to volunteer around the United States on Student Action Teams, encouraging people to get out and vote.

Earlier this month, the girls and I spent five long days working with a local campaign alongside many other homeschooling families. Days were spent running around town, knocking on doors; while evenings were spent making thousands of phone calls. It was crazy, busy, and absolutely amazing. Through it all we learned a few life lessons.

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… – There is nothing like faith in action to give you first-hand knowledge of spiritual fruit. We quickly learned the value of patience, as waiting for the right moment to move and for everyone to be ready plays a big part in election season. We learned to be joyful in harsh circumstances. Kind toward those who would abuse us. And so much more. Our week-long experience put Scripture into action, and we learned so much.

Everyone Has Limits – We had a perfect plan set in place. Then reality hit. Some of us could not run as much as others; eating lunch mid-day proved to be problematic as we got tired afterwards; and bedtime became a serious need. Our team learned to identify our own weaknesses, and then set about a plan to strengthen the group. Our limits didn’t prevent us from reaching our goals, but it did teach us to rethink how we would accomplish them.

My Kids Far Exceed My Expectations – My children never cease to amaze me. While I think they do fairly well on a day-to-day basis, there’s nothing quite like a stressful situation to bring out the worst and the best in someone. Through this event the Lord allowed me to see my children’s gift of communication, their kindness, their teamwork, and their dedication to a task. There were a few tough moments, but overall they did exceptionally well and I’ve learned not to discount their abilities.

My Children Don’t Always Need My Help – Confession. New situations tend to make me anxious. When my children are in new circumstances, I tend to over-instruct or hover. It’s true. Student Action Teams depended on trust. Trust in my children making wise decisions, sticking together, and working smarter not harder. Trust that the Lord would protect each of us while out doing the work assigned. While I don’t know that new situations will ever make me feel entirely comfortable, SAT’s were an eye opener. My kids can do so much more than I am ready for.

Competition Can Be a Powerful Motivator – Our Generation Joshua team was divided into six smaller teams, each with its own vehicle, navigation tools, and assignments. At the end of each day, teams would meet up to compare notes and see who had reached the highest goal. All in good fun, and for the benefit of our candidate, our teams quickly caught the spirit of competition; determined to reach more people than any other team. It was amazing to see these children so motivated and ready to do a good work.

We’re Most Productive When Inspired – I’ve noticed a trend in our home. When I push and cajole, my children are likely to lose interest. Quickly. On the other hand, when I am excited – when their friends are excited – the desire to move forward comes from within them and work happens naturally. It was a blessing to see our children be inspired to action and for them to care so deeply about the person they were representing.

Everyone Has a Part to Play… – But not often the same role. We would have done far worse had we all tried to do everything. Early on, we learned to appreciate each person’s unique gifts and put them to use. Some of us were awesome runners, others were fantastic navigators. We each played a vital role, but in different capacities.

Every Little Bit Helps – We can too often get caught up in serving only when it seems we will make a big impact. But who’s to say what is big? Those delivering food to call rooms were equally important to those answering phones. As were those who emptied the trash, cleaned the tables, and filled our gas tanks. Our children leaned the value in doing the smallest of jobs, and how even little things help in the biggest of ways.

God Is Ultimately in Control – Once more we were reminded that while we may lend a hand, God does the work. We might be momentarily frustrated with how some of the elections are turning but we trust He is in control.

We Loved It! – Student Action Teams are a lot of work. I won’t lie to you. But, it was an incredible blessing. We loved being there, lending a hand, meeting new people, and serving the Lord. When people ask if we would do it again, our response is an easy, “Absolutely!”

Unfortunately, November has almost come and gone. However, we’re soaking up the last few days of the month and rejoicing in the coming holiday season. While enjoying our turkey and cranberry sauce, I’m sure we’ll all be fondly remembering the blessing of serving with local homeschool friends and sharing moments of thanks for the Lord’s blessing during our trip. We learned so much, and give God the glory for each moment of our adventure.

We’re curious… Have you ever joined a Generation Joshua SAT, or something similar? We’d love to hear all about it!

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”
~ I Peter 2:13-15

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When Our Children’s Learning Styles Differ From Our Teaching

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Let’s face it. It can be hard work determining how our children learn best. We struggle to understand which method fits their needs, we research endlessly the resources needed to best help them learn, and we readjust continually for their growing minds. But what about you, the teacher? What happens when how your children learn is completely foreign and you’re both struggling to make your adventure in learning work?

I wish – Oh, how I wish – all my children learned in the same way. It would have made life so much easier. But God, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, made each of my kids unique. They all learn differently, are motivated by different things, and tackle the adventure of life in their own way. As if that isn’t crazy enough, then you throw in a mom who also has her own individual style of learning and teaching; some of which is a throwback from her days in public education. You can imagine how much fun school must be in our home.

Truthfully, it is a blast. It isn’t always easy, but over the years the Lord has shown us ways to make this work. It all starts and ends with Him.

Prayer – If I plan to do this all by my own efforts, I can plan to fail. It’s hard enough to manage myself, much less an entire household. Prayer brings me before the Lord, asking what He wants of their education and how I can go about the work He wants to do in my children.

Understanding – I am persuaded that while I could force my children to adjust to my way of doing things, in the long run I might be doing more damage than good. Instead, I want to pay attention and have a heart willing to adjust according to everyone’s needs.

Communication – When our children were little they tended to simply follow my lead. As they’ve matured, we’ve learned to discuss studies as a family. Our children are free to ask why things are done a certain way, suggest possible changes to their learning, and at times even determine which courses we will be studying next. We allow them to help chart the course, with the understanding that we have final authority and all things must be led by the Lord.

Meeting Half Way – Four kids. Four learning styles. And a mom who sometimes gets stuck in her ways. Sometimes. How do we make this work? We find a middle ground. There are areas of study the kids do on their own, in their own unique way. Other lessons are done as a family, with consideration given to everyone present. Some courses are more of a struggle than others. It is in these moments character development plays a role in their education. We learn humility, grace, patience, understanding, and long-suffering towards one another. We seek the good of each, knowing at times how we want to do things must be put to the wayside for the best of those we love.

Research, Research, Research – Sometimes in order for my children to learn, I need to re-learn. And re-learn again. I understand the concept being taught, but how will my child best grasp what is being given? So I learn various ways to teach the same subject, and can frequently be found studying my children’s textbooks in anticipation of questions they might have regarding the material.  This often takes a bit of time, as well as some trial-and-error, but it is well worth the effort.

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone – I like being comfortable, don’t you? It seems I am in the wrong place. Parenting and homeschooling are not a comfort zone. This life will stretch us beyond anything we could imagine. But, it is making us into something beautiful. I find the Lord makes a practice of shaking up my routine and my misconceptions about my limits. All of this is done not to frustrate and hurt me, but to give us a better understanding of the world He has created and to keep us always relying on Him. Comfortable is nice, for a time, but it is not a place to remain.

Faith, Trust, and… – When the Lord has called us to a work, He will be faithful to complete it. God called us to parenting. He called us to homeschool. So we pray minute-by-minute and faithfully do what He has asked; knowing at the end of all things He is in control.

Yes, it would have been easier if I had four children who all learned the same way. My way. But it would not be as lovely or as special. Through each of our children’s educational adventures we have been shown a world of beauty and joy. Each unique learning path has brought its own benefits and growth. In them and in us. Through the grace of God we are learning, together. It is an inspired adventure which always keeps us on our toes.

We’re curious… Is there a subject you find difficult to teach?

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
~ Philippians 1:6

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Is My Dream Dangerous?

is_my_dream_dangerousJust like Mr. Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. It might not seem as grand as his. No one but me and God might know it exists. But it’s there. Deeply rooted in who I am, extending to every fiber of my being. My dream is a beautiful one, but potentially dangerous. For my dream, like all dreams, is not reality. And if I’m not careful, my unfulfilled dream can quickly cause a great deal of trouble.

The dream is me always smiling. I stand in my kitchen watching over my children while we homeschool happily. I am always dressed to perfection, and own a spectacular apron which personifies the glory of homemaking. There are fresh-baked cookies in the oven ready for my family to devour. We get through our lessons with little fuss, anxious to continue exploring. We play games together, cook together, and we are constantly encouraging each other.

The reality is I don’t smile as much as I probably could, or should. While I’m usually with my kiddos, there are some schools days which have us all pulling our hair out. The apron I do own is usually forgotten, and my clothes are evidence of this fact. Lessons don’t always work as planned. Particular subjects are a challenge to the day. We’re all craving cookies, but mom is on a ridiculously tight budget and can’t find five minutes to bake, even if she could find chocolate chips in the cupboard. By the time we’re done schooling, we’re all needing a few moments of space and relaxation.

While I jest, and over-exaggerate just a tad, there is nothing wrong with the dream. We all need something to aspire to. Nor is there anything horrible in our reality. We all have hard days. The danger lies in my inability to separate what I’d like to be from what God calls me to be. God is not asking me to be what anyone else thinks I ought to look like; not even myself. God calls me to be faithful.

There are days I get lost in the dream. This isn’t the life I imagined! Why can’t I seem to be the mom I want to be? Why isn’t our homeschool day as I envisioned? My day is so clouded by my dream, I fail to see the beauty in my reality. No, the day isn’t perfect, but it is mine and it is a joy. If only I would look past what I wanted and see how God has blessed.

I am sure there is a dream in each of us. A dream of what type of parent we want to be; what our marriages would look like; and how our homeschooling year would flow. Our dreams are special, ideals we are reaching towards. But in the struggle to obtain, let us rejoice in the reality in which we live.

We’re curious… What was beautiful about your day?

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
~ I Timothy 6:6-7

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