Thursday, August 4, 2016

BACK TO SCHOOL {re-post}


Hello friends!  This post is one is from the archives.  It was originally posted in 2012 (has it been four years already?), but I love a good homeschool post, so I thought I'd mix it up with a few oldies and a few new posts to get those homeschool juices flowing!   

Love sharing the journey with you!

_ _ _ _ _

August 28, 2012

There's no doubt about it.  If you're a mom and you homeschool, you are one of the busiest people around!

I've been asked to share what has changed over the years in our homeschooling as well as how we juggle school with our wide age range while keeping our sanity.  Well, I've heard that sanity is a relative term (ha!), but here's what we are up to at this stage of the game!  The fact that we no longer have tiny toddlers certainly makes a difference!  Which brings me to what is most important:

There is no such thing as "one size fits all" when it comes to homeschooling.  Or families.  Or what it looks like to follow Jesus.  So whenever you read anything here take what works, leave what doesn't and enjoy the peace of Christ.  He is our biggest help.  

Over the years I have had a mind shift in this area.  At one time I would have wanted separate books for every subject at every grade level- History, Social Studies etc. and then I'd just pull my hair out to trying to figure out how to squeeze it all in.  Now I have a different approach.  I try to include as many people in as many subjects as I can.  While we have separate Math and Language Arts we find that we can exercise together, study the Bible and worldview together, memorize Scripture together, study History, Geography and Science together and so on.  It not only builds family unity but keeps school time truly simple and enjoyable. 


In the past I've spent a lot of time creating homemade unit studies, figuring out lesson plans and doing research online.  That can be fun if you don't need sleep... This year I am using pre-made materials and just tweaking them rather than creating them from scratch.  I finally bought the My Father's World package and I love it!    

English from the Roots Up

I am not sure why I sometimes try to give my kids a drink of water from a fire hose.  It's not really the best way to teach.  Charlotte Mason recommended taking school subjects in small doses and I think she is dead on.  Keeping lessons short and sweet works much better for us.  Reading 1-2 pages of Anatomy and having the kids label a part or two works.  You can come back to it the next day!    

History board

Here's another one of those keeping our sanity topics for me.  I love homeschooling but I just don't want to live in a classroom.  Well, I can't believe how long it took me to figure this out, but why not just make movable walls using tri-fold presentation boards?  I use a different one for just about everything- calendar, phonograms, history (with a world map on the back) and so on.  It's a portable classroom.  Easy. 

As we introduce new phonograms, they are added to this board for a visual.

Now playing at the /er/ theater, Zuma and the Secret of Peru

This board serves as our timeline.  I draw a simple illustration for each 
Mystery of History lesson that the girls color. 

Well, that's what is working for us!  Hope it blesses you.

By His Grace.

BRIBE YOUR KIDS {it's ok, really!}

Managers develop strategies all the time to encourage employees to do their best.  Books are written on long term incentive plans; committees are formed to run them and budgets are made to fund them.  Why? 

Because companies with incentive plans tend to demonstrate higher productivity, profits and customer loyalty.  

And it doesn't always need to be a "big thing" to make someone feel valued.  I once heard of a manager who had created a extraordinary atmosphere of positive morale that other managers wrote about and sought to imitate.  One day while this manager was talking with an employee, the employee shared a great idea with him.  This manager was so excited that he looked around and then grabbed the closest thing he could find to give him-- a banana from his desk.  It was a funny gesture and word of it probably circulated the water cooler, but the result was that the employee felt like a million bucks and the manager had shown his appreciation to someone deserving.

As moms, we are the managers of our homes.  And as a manager, I would like to encourage you to bribe your children.  Well, bribe might be a funny word to use.  What I mean of course is that we should be just as wise as corporate managers in using positive rewards to help our kiddos to develop good patterns.  

Rather than being eagle eyed when it comes to finding the negative in our children, we can change the morale by finding tangible ways to encourage our kiddos to be hard working and kind.  And who doesn't want to spend more time smiling and less time doling out consequences?  

Creating incentive plans for your school day can be elaborate or simple.  If you've been around the blog a while you've seen homemade "Blessing Bucks," Good Attitude punch cards and kids earning puff balls in a jar to highlight positive strides in godly character.  What have I learned over the years?  Keep it simple!  Don't promise some large thing in the future.  And consider explaining the duration of the program ahead of time (like telling them it's for one month) so it doesn't fizzle out.  You will gain momentum.  The character traits you plan to reward will become more ingrained and carry over after the incentive program is completed.  And you can always restart it again in the future.  

This year I have a dedicated a basket to store all of the most tempting treasures that the Dollar Store has to offer.  You know the stuff-  bubble bath, craft kits, fuzzy socks, bubbles, balloon rockets, glow sticks, mini slinkys, cute pony tails, party favors and so on.  And when one of the kids demonstrates a character trait I appreciate, I am going to encourage them to continue getting caught doing good by giving them a yellow ticket (also from the Dollar Tree).  At the end of the day, they will be allowed to redeem their tickets for something in the basket.  I might decide it's three tickets for one prize.  Done.  Easy peasy.

It's a banana.  It's not a big thing, but I bet the kids will be excited to demonstrate happy and helpful hearts instead of complaining or being distracted as we start school.  They can enjoy their prize and their prize will remind them of the good work they did to earn it.  

And I'd say it lines up with Scripture too.  Doesn't our Heavenly Father reward as well as punish?   Just do a search on verses that talk about God rewarding and you will find tons of examples, like:  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind...” Luke 6:35  and "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.Mark 9:41 

Make it a great year!

Note:  I don't bribe kids for things they have little control over, like natural talents and abilities, I save my prizes for good character and positive attitudes.  If you wonder how to help to influence positive character traits in children, SM Davis has a wonderful teaching on that very subject.  Look for:  How to Develop Character in your Children.  


Sunday, July 31, 2016


"With courage you can stay with something 
long enough to succeed at it." 
 -Earl Nightingale

Most things worth doing take courage and perseverance.  Raising godly children is certainly something that takes that kind of fortitude and resolve.  Homeschooling is another one of those tasks that takes great 'stick with it' strength. 

As I have been working on my Proposed Course of Study for the new year, Tom and I were laughing at how I kind of go through the five stages of grief each year.  It sounds completely terrible to say because I love being home with our children and I love the ability to homeschool-  I don't take any of that for granted!  But if I am completely honest, I must admit that some years it takes me a few steps to get to the acceptance stage.  Why is that?  Because homeschooling can be hard!  Combat hard.  And hard things are easily discouraging. 

It takes time to see the fruit of our work and it takes trust to believe God that we will reap a harvest if we just hang in there. 

Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest 
if we do not give up.   
-Galatians 6:9

I have a few verses that I tend to remind myself of at the beginning of each new year.  You know, once I am past the denial that summer is coming to an end and I've stopped asking God to send a Christian Mary Poppins with excellent grammar to my house to do the work for me (could be called the bargaining stage).  Once I remember again that this is a special calling for my life, it is then that I remind my soul to focus on truth.      

Maybe homeschooling isn't your specific calling from the Lord.  Maybe you are focusing on the task of raising godly kids in an ungodly culture; just trying to make your marriage work or are simply trying to function in godly way in difficult circumstances.  I hope these verses will encourage your heart as well because truth is truth.  And in order to be courageous, our feet must be planted on it.    

God says that we are not alone; He will be our help!:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  - Psalm 121:1-2

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'  -Isaiah 41:13 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  -Proverbs 3:5-6  

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  -Philippians 4:13

Whatever the task, it is GOD who gives the knowledge and understanding that we (and our students) need:

To these four men GOD gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.  -Daniel 1:17

When we see things clearly, we realize that our success depends less on us and more on Him.  Our courageous task then becomes simply to trust the Trustworthy One.

May we meditate on His truth!

Officially homeschooling and proving that God's strength is made perfect in weakness since 2002. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Today is my mommy's 70th birthday!  There is no way that I can express adequate thanks for all that she has done for me or the positive impact she has been on my family, but on her birthday I wanted to express a few of the thank you's that are on my heart.

THANK YOU, MOMMY.  Thank you for always taking us to church.  Even when you had to take us alone. 

Thank you for teaching us how to make holidays feel special.  For remembering to include M&M candy canes in our stockings and for showing us that a little garnish can make things prettier. 

Thank you for teaching us that love is the thing.  That we will always have all that we need when we have each other.   

Thank you for always cheering on our children.  Whether it was their first jet ski ride or their first year in college.  You will never know how much your encouragement means to us.

Thank you for teaching us that a little poise and a fun spirit can take us far in life.  And not to run with scissors.  Thanks to you we never poked our eye out.  Not even once!


Thank you for being willing to love us while we were a work in progress.  And really, we still are.  Knowing that you care for us and pray for us every day is such a gift. 

Thank you for gingham tablecloths, for doll cakes and for back yard bar-b-ques.  We didn't have a lot of money but we always had a lot of love.

Thank you for remembering what it was like to be little.  For always sending our children cards for every birthday and holiday and for taking the time to get down on the floor to play a game with them. 

Thank you for always being a positive example to us in exercise.  When I was a girl I remember exercising with you to a record and going on walks.  Now my girls exercise with me to a DVD and go on walks as well.  We think of you often when we do.  

Thank you for so many life lessons that could only have been taught by you.  For being the prettiest room mother at school.  For driving me to Girl Scouts and for encouraging me to try out for the school plays.  For letting me be alone in my room with the music way too loud on hard days.  Thank you for believing in me; for always being my listening ear and for your tireless example of hard work and perseverance in Christ.  You really have been the best mom ever.

For all the millions and millions of thank you notes that should have been written, but will always be written in my heart.  Thank you!  I love you so very much, Mommy. 

I think you will agree, she is a pretty special lady.  Happy Birthday, Mommy!   


Monday, March 21, 2016

EASTER EGG HUNTS, CHRISTMAS TREES {and other straining out of gnats}

Little Sarah with her Grammie enjoying Easter traditions

Egg Hunts for Easter; Christmas Trees in December and all of the holidays in between.  Are these examples of Christian liberty or a shocking worldliness that must be addressed? 
It seems that every time there is a holiday, conservative Christians want to bring up these issues and point to the fact that if you will simply take five hours to research the subject on the internet, then you too will be convinced that everything you are doing is pagan and must be avoided.  But if you spent the same five hours studying the Bible you would never come away with such convictions.     
It certainly seems fastidious and religious, but without a focus on what God calls us to emphasize, we are easily distracted and miss the point. 
The New Testament never tells Christians they need to celebrate any day.  So any day we choose to celebrate (birthdays, anniversaries, the Fourth of July, St. Patrick's Day, New Year’s Eve, Easter, Christmas and so on) are under no more religious requirements than any other day on the calendar.  We celebrate all things simply to the glory of God.

Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.  Romans 14:6

Under the Old Covenant, God instituted observing of new moons, holy days, Sabbaths and so on, but those were fulfilled in Christ and have passed away.
Colossians 2:16-17 teaches that we should “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, in drink, or in respect of an holyday or of the new moon or Sabbath days which are shadows of these to come but the body is Christ.”
As New Testament believers we observe the Lords supper (not on a specifically assigned day), but beyond that we have liberty in accordance with our conscience. 
In fact, in the book of Galatians Paul challenges the gentiles of his day not to put themselves again under bondage with the Judaizers (Jewish legalists) to keep certain days or requirements related to certain days.  He called those beggarly elements to be avoided. 
We also have the clear example of Christ when dealing with the folks that strained out the minor things—which always leads to the avoidance of the major things.  Christ condemned these diligent hoop jumpers saying: 

You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

-Matthew 23:24

The Pharisees of Christ’s day were so very concerned about keeping the laws that could be seen by men that they would strain their water or wine with their teeth rather that gulping or sipping it the way we would.  That way if a gnat (the smallest of the unclean animals, Leviticus 11:42) got into their drink during the wine making process or while it sat at the table, it would be caught on their tooth and they could remove it.
But Christ said they were so busy law keeping (counting out herbs for their tithes and straining gnats) that they were swallowing the largest unclean animal of all (Leviticus 11:4); the camel. 
And what was this camel they were gulping down according to Christ?  It was the weightier law:  "You have omitted the weightier elements of the divine law," implied divine, "justice, mercy, and faith."
Isn’t that always the case?  The more we work to strain out minor things, the less grace we tend to give others.  The more minuscule we get in focusing on minor themes of Scripture the less time we have for the things that God has put in the foreground. 
So why do people worry so much about the minor?  Because it tends to make us feel pious and righteous.  It seems like the “extra” work or dedication of abstaining (at least in the mind of the law keeper) demonstrates how really devoted we are.  The fact that it might bring a greater respect and approval from men doesn't hurt either.  The Pharisees of Jesus’ day and ours are usually really, really good at sacrifice in these visible areas.  Really good at counting out dill seeds and really bad at what God wanted even more:   justice, mercy, and faith.
John MacArthur in his sermon series, The Condemnation of False Spiritual Leaders says:

Listen the Pharisees and the scribes didn't do justly, they were inequitable. They were unfair, unjust. And they were merciless, brutal, unforgiving, unkind, ungenerous. They abuse the people. Piling, as it says in verse 4 of this chapter, heavy burdens on them, grievous to be born and not even moving one finger to help lighten the load. And they had no faith. They walked by sight. They walked by works. They walked by law. They walked by their own efforts. And so He says you're real great at counting out kitchen seeds used to flavor food and you've missed the whole point of what is really important, justice, mercy, and faith.

Those are not the words that we want describing us!  If you are spending time focusing in on whether a Christian can wear green on St. Patrick's Day or can hunt eggs on Easter- just stop!  Because chances are while you are straining that gnat you are missing what God calls greater or weightier. 
These are areas of liberty before Christ and do not impact the world or the gospel- except in distracting us from doing the work we were called to do.  Our unbelieving neighbors have no such questions or concerns rolling around in their minds and we do them a disservice if we teach them to strain out gnats even if we have been taught to do so. 
Just give grace and liberty to the Easter egg hunter or the Christmas tree decorator and focus on those things that God desires more.   

"He hath shown thee oh man what is good and what doth the Lord require of thee,
but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God."

-Micah 6:8

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity.


Thursday, January 14, 2016


Children are not distraction from more important work. 

They are the most important work.

-John Trainer, M.D.


Someone asked what cards we are using here for Hailey's magnet work.  I believe they are these are these free cards:  

Baking pan from the Dollar Tree.  Magnets from Amazon.

Also, if you haven't used Teachers Pay Teachers yet, check out these! 

You will love their free and inexpensive resources! 
smile emoticon

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Are you an "Innie?"  Over the years, I have realized that I am much more of an introvert than an extrovert.  As I have learned more about introverts, I realize that I too recharge in quiet.  I am not anti social by any means, I love my friendships!  But I tend to enjoy deeper talk, the one on one type.  And I find that I have less social stamina than the extroverts I know.  I need mental margin in order to be the creative person that God designed me to be.

Over the years people have contacted me asking for a list of blogs I would recommend for them to read.  That is always a really hard question for me to answer because for myself it's quiet that I crave for inspiration.  You would be far more likely to find me cuddled on a couch reading aloud to my kids than reading a blog.  And yet I blog... is that a contradiction?  Ha!  Probably. 

Even Facebook is too noisy for me most of the time.  While I love to check in to see how I can be praying for or encouraging people, I find that I am more often met with too many posts that demonstrate how easily offended we Christians can be by an unbelieving world.  I just don't have the emotional energy to be offended by red cups or the latest upset.  As I remember the Lord's command in Proverbs 22:24:  Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man.  Do not associate with one easily angered.  I find it is easier to simply log off and find quiet.

I will literally go weeks without even opening Facebook.  Did you know that if you don't open Facebook for weeks, they will begin to send you emails to try to entice you back with all you might be missing?  It's true!  I get those emails all the time.  

With a couple of my dearest friends on Instagram, I finally succumbed to joining them.  I really did not want more noise in my life, but one of my friends who had left Facebook for Instagram convinced me it would be a good thing.

It's been about a year now and I realize that I really enjoy the quiet of Instagram.  It's just photos.  I don't follow people with loud political opinions or axes to grind.  In fact, I don't follow many people at all and it's not personal because unlike Facebook that doesn't mean we are "friends" or not friends.  We are just following or not.  It's quiet allows me to share simple and creative moments that I would ordinarily tend to just keep to myself.  

I enjoy looking back over the year and the thought that I can easily make a photo book from our little square photo moments at any time. 

As 2015 winds down, I thought I would share some photos from this year's Instagram feed.  No words, just moments for those of you who enjoy photos.  

So, here's to finding quiet in a noisy world, my friends.  May you be blessed.  :)


"Aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one." - 1 Thessalonians 4:11