When Did Busyness Become A Badge of Honor?

When_Did_Busyness_Become_A_Badge_of_Honor?As I sat visiting with a friend, I began to notice a distinctive quality to our conversation. After being asked about my oldest daughter’s college classes, we had moved into her work opportunities, then on to the general homeschool calendar. Family activities soon followed. What bothered me wasn’t the current topic so much as the pride which seemed to be creeping into my tone. Our ridiculously over-filled routine had me brimming with pride. When had busyness become a badge of honor?

The Lord used that teachable moment to remind me of something important. It is dangerous to allow our worth and value to be caught up in our routine. We are not more successful because we are busy running around town. A lot of tasks completed does not, in fact, make me more accomplished.  It just makes me more busy.

On the flip side, neither is the notion of doing nothing a badge of honor. I am not a better parent, or closer to my children, because we go nowhere and our calendar is clear. I can equally ignore my children at home as not meet basic needs by being constantly on the go.

The goal is to be content with where God has placed us. To be in the center of His perfect will. At times this will give us a full schedule, while others allow us rest. Neither has anything to do with my ability, and everything to do with God’s goodness.

A good place to start is by doing a heart check. When choosing activities, are we doing so because the Lord has prompted our hearts and moved us in this direction, or because everyone else is doing this and I am worried others will think we are failing to be sufficiently involved? Perhaps I am cramming much into our schedule for fear of missing out. If we refrain from activity, are we judging others for their busy lives while we appreciate a season of peace? Neither course of action is wise. Both lead to a prideful heart unfit for service.

When sharing, I want it to be from a heart so full of Jesus I am overflowing with joy at what He is doing. Even if what He has brought is a season of rest. What is important is not what we have done or not done, but how God is moving through that moment.

May the only thing I glory in be God alone.

But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.”
~ Corinthians 10:17-18

Your Turn!: Where does the Lord have you right now; in a season of rest or activity?

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Series Review: Getting the Most Out of Field Trips

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.

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, here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:

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

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.”
~ Proverbs 24:27

Your Turn!: Do you enjoy being spontaneous with outings or planning in advance?

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Series Review: Planning the Homeschool Year!

School-PlanningWhether you’re still in the stages of planning your school year, just starting, or you’ve been at it for weeks but still need to make some adjustments… Enjoy this fun series designed to help take the stress out of homeschooling planning!

While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our year of homeschooling. Just where do we start? When do we start?! How many school days am I required to complete? Should I stick to a routine or plan out a detailed schedule? All these questions and more fill the head when planning out our homeschooling year. Let’s take a look at each mind-boggling area of planning and break it down!

Planning Your Year
Planning Your Day
Building a Family Plan
What Do I Need?
Counting the Cost
Portfolios
Field Trip Fun, Part I
Field Trip Fun, Part II
Finding Friends
Finding Sanity

“But all things should be done decently and in order.”
I Cor. 14:40

Your Turn!: Which part of homeschooling is your least favorite to plan and/or organize?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter& Pinterest!

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Series Review: If You Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Fail-to-planI am huge on planning. Without a “vision” for my day, or my year for that matter, I can quickly lose balance of what needs to be accomplished and get overwhelmed by the surmounting tasks of the day-to-day. In order to help me make sense of life and to prioritize the multitude of tasks that fill my routine, I decided to write down a “master plan”. A guideline to help me better manage both my household and my homeschooling.

Let me be the first to remind you, this is not a hard-line which cannot be crossed. Rather, consider these as they were intended, guidelines. They are a starting point which can be changed and manipulated at any given point.

Part I:   Prioritizing Life
Part II:  Managing the Budget
Part III: Adding Events
Part IV: Planning the Homeschool Year
Part V:  Putting it all Together

What works for me, might not work for you. Please feel free to read with discretion; pray about what you are hearing and then decide for yourself where the Lord is leading.

May these ideas help you as much as they help me!
Cristina

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

We Must Decrease Before We Increase

decrease_before_increaseLet’s face it. ‘Tis the season to increase. More toys. More books. More clothes. More of everything. Perhaps before we concern ourselves with increasing, it might be time to decrease.

During the month of December, most our families will receive a great many blessings, all of which need to find a place in our homes. Before we focus on this all-important task, now is the perfect time to see where we can afford to downsize. We’ll start the Christmas season with a cleaner home and make room for any goodies our family might receive.

Decreasing is always hard. What if we need that waffle iron at some point, even though we haven’t touched it in over two years? Reducing is a difficult task but oh so necessary. Here’s a few guidelines which have worked well for our family when trying to determine how we might minimize the amount of ‘stuff’:

  • We determine how often the item is used. Toys, clothes, and books which no longer fit our children’s needs, and have no lasting value, need to be removed.
  • We determine if the item has lasting value. If the item can be passed down to younger siblings, is a family heirloom, or timeless we keep it. (Classic reads, fancy dresses, Lincoln Logs, LEGOs, and more are all keepers.)

Once we’ve established which items we need to keep and which will be reused, we reorganize our storage accordingly and marvel at our new use of space. (Doesn’t that feel awesome!) Then, we set to the task of repurposing the items we need to be rid of.

  • We take out the trash. Toys which are entirely thrashed, clothing of a more personal nature, clothing too used to be repurposed, and other items unfit for sharing should be disposed of.
  • We clean up. Clothing is washed, toys are carefully gone over – ensuring nothing is broken or damaged, batteries are removed from devices, and everything is placed in its proper container.
  • We give away. Perhaps there are friends who would be blessed by receiving some of these items. We try our best to give to family and friends in need first, then take all other items to our local Goodwill.
  • We sell. Sadly, we don’t use this option as much as we could. I’d rather give than sell. It’s much easier. However, there is value in this option and should be considered.

Increasing seems much simpler than decreasing, doesn’t it? During the month of holiday-toy-safetyDecember, our families receive a great deal of blessings. Food, clothing, toys, and more come in brightly wrapped packages. Perhaps this is why December is also National Safe Toys and Gifts Month! 

Once again, our friends at Consumer Safety encourage us to be on guard for toys and household items which pose potential threats to our families. Even as we’re unpacking those Christmas lights and musical plush items which adorn our homes, this is the perfect opportunity to remind our children about fire safety and the proper usage of batteries. To this end, Consumer Safety has kindly offered us, and our readers, this helpful graphic to remind us of the importance of National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and to offer tips on increasing wisely.

The truth of the matter is I need less not more. December is the perfect opportunity to decrease our home and pray about what would increase the lives of others. While I downsize, I’m reminded of each blessing and memory, and give thanks for each item. As I plan and repurpose, I pray for the family who will receive the increase, asking for blessings upon their home. With purposeful increase in our own home, we use our money as wisely as possible and ask the Lord’s wisdom in using our finances well.

May the Lord show each of us ways in which we may decrease, focusing more on increasing the lives of others.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
~ John 3:30

📢 Chime In!: As parents, do you buy toys or clothing for your kids at Christmas?

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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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Planning to Avoid Failure

Fail-to-planI am huge on planning. Without a “vision” for my day, or my year for that matter, I can quickly lose balance of what needs to be accomplished and get overwhelmed by the surmounting tasks of the day-to-day.

In order to help me make sense of life and to prioritize the multitude of tasks that fill my routine, I decided to write down a “master plan”. A guideline to help me better manage both my household and my homeschooling.

Let me be the first to remind you, this is not a hard-line which cannot be crossed. Rather, consider these as they were intended, guidelines. They are a starting point which can be changed and manipulated at any given point.

What works for me, might not work for you. Please feel free to read with discretion, pray about what you are hearing, and then decide for yourself where the Lord is leading.

Part I:   Prioritizing Life
Part II:  Managing the Budget
Part III: Adding Events
Part IV: Planning the Homeschool Year
Part V:  Putting it all Together

May these ideas help you as much as they help me!
Cristina

📢 Chime In!: Are you a planner or a procrastinator?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter&  Pinterest!

Planning the Homeschool Year

School-PlanningWhile we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our year of homeschooling.

Just where do we start? When do we start?! How many school days am I required to complete? Should I stick to a routine or plan out a detailed schedule? All these questions and more fill the mind when planning out our homeschooling year.

Enjoy this fun series designed to help take the stress out of homeschooling planning! Let’s get moving!

Planning Your Year
Planning Your Day
Building a Family Plan
What Do I Need?
Counting the Cost
Portfolios
Field Trip Fun, Part I
Field Trip Fun, Part II
Finding Friends
Finding Sanity

📢 Chime In!: Which part of homeschooling is your least favorite to plan and/or organize?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter& Pinterest!

The Power of “No!”

No DiceAs homeschoolers, we often have numerous opportunities offered to us; field trips, co-ops, park days, and more. It can be tempting to join every activity available, but much discretion is advised. When you say yes to everything, you are bound to get overwhelmed. There are times it is more beneficial to just say “no”.

How do we determine which events are to our advantage and worth the effort? How do we know when it is okay to help out a friend and when it’s not? I doubt there is a fool-proof way to finding the answer, but I have found there are some guidelines which seem to help.

When to say “no” to an event:

  • It doesn’t fit into my calendar. If my week is already overbooked or if I have to rearrange too many things to make it work… it doesn’t.
  • I am getting stressed out. If just planning out the event is too much for me, perhaps I need to rethink whether or not to be involved.
  • My husband thinks it is a bad idea. When he says no, that is the end of it.
  • The Lord says no. Just because I can make it work and my husband says it is okay, doesn’t mean it is the Lord’s will for our family. I should always pray before making a commitment.

When to say “no” to people: 

  • When they could be doing it themselves. Sometimes people just need the encouragement to do things for themselves. Don’t enable someone else; teach them to work hard and “make do”.
  • When we are putting them before our family’s needs. Being helpful is a good virtue and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but we must also remember our families are our first ministry. If we are so busy helping other people we can’t take care of our own responsibilities, than we need to step back and allow someone else to help.
  • When the Lord says no. Again, just because the opportunity arises, doesn’t mean  we are the answer. Perhaps He is simply using us to alert other people to the problem or to pray for that person.

How to say “no”: 

  • With gentleness. Just because we cannot participate, doesn’t mean the event or opportunity is bad. We need to make sure we say “no” in a loving manner.
  • With humility. It should not be out of pride and arrogance that we are turning down an opportunity.
  • With an explanation, when possible. Even something as simple as, “The Lord is leading me in another direction right now.”, helps others to know I am aware of the event/need, even if I cannot participate.

Life is full of opportunities; experiences we will want to take part in and people we will want to invest in. It is important, though, to know when to step up and when to back down. Saying “no” can be a hard task. It can seem harsh, criticizing, or even “Un-Christian” to those who don’t wish to hear it. Knowing I have given it great thought and I am making the best decisions I can, helps me to put to rest any anxiety I may have over telling someone “no”.

While I love to say “yes” to a great many things, I feel the Lord compelling me to learn the word “no”. I cannot possibly be everywhere, do everything, and help everyone. It is hard and makes me uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, I know it was the right choice to make.

May we keep this in mind: When we say no to one thing, we are saying yes to something else. May we always choose the best use of our time, energies, and resources.

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
~ Galatians 1:10

📢 Chime In!: Do you find it hard to say “no”?

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