Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I love getting your letters.  Recently I received a fantastic one from a reader in Montana.  She has six children and wanted to talk about how to keep up with everything and have joy in all that we do. 
Those are certainly relatable questions for moms who have been in the trenches for a few years, right?  And while I plan to do another nitty-gritty what is working for us for curriculum and independent work post, I want to talk a little about joy.  Or finding joy when life is less than "Pinterest Perfect" which is just about always.  :)
Let's face it, tears over math, crumbs on the floor and a pile of laundry may not be exactly what we pictured when we signed up for the job of homeschool mom, but they are things that every homeschool mom tackles.  And real life can wear on us.  It can be hard.     
I wish I could tell you that things are just sunnier over here in CA and we don't deal with those types of problems, but-- Spoiler Alert-- I get it and I don't keep up on everything. 
In fact, just over Christmas break- when we were not even doing school work- we spent an entire day cleaning, cooking and doing laundry.  As we sat down to eat, I told my husband that I dream of a day when the entire house would be clean all at the same time.  His response?
He laughed. 
He knows that it's a silly dream right now.  The old "shoveling the walk while it is still snowing" scenario.  And while the day will likely come for that dream to be a reality, the truth is it will be a sad day when it does.  It will mean no more silly giggles as children run through the family room being chased by their daddy.  No more little ones running up just to get a hug that I didn't know I needed too.  No more forts in the family room that use up every single chair or shampoo shortages in the bathroom because someone was doing a science experiment in the shower before me.  Yes.  The house will be clean one day.  And orderly.  But for some reason the older I get, the less in a rush I am for that day...  

I'll be the first to tell you that I do NOT keep up on everything.  But it's ok.  We can have joy in spite of not having things perfect.  How?   
1.  Focus on goals that last.  Clean floors are marvelous (maybe miraculous?), but unfortunately they just don't last.  A strong school day is wonderful, but without a focus on Christ and growth in grace, it is worse than meaningless.  The single most helpful thing I have done for myself is to frame our family goals and hang them on the wall.  They help me both to navigate and to be satisfied on a daily basis in a less than "Pinterest Perfect" world.  These are the goals I keep before me:
That each member would have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That we would teach God's commands diligently to our children.
That we would love the Lord and love others.
That we would be kind.
That we would be obedient.
That we would work hard.
That we would be self-disciplined.
That we would pursue holiness and cast off sin.
That we would remain physically and emotionally pure.
That we would seek wisdom.

REAL LIFE:  What does it look like to apply this principle in real life?  My posted goals might remind me one day to ignore a load of clean laundry on the couch in order to read a character building story to my little ones (I love books like Happy Hearts by Christian Light).  Or they might cause me to halt the morning chore time that seems to be taking forever to move forward with Bible and Scripture memory first.  It may impact our movie and book choices, reminding us to chose something that champions biblical principles over something that is more popular.  It may cause us to decline an outside invitation (even for something really, really good) to focus on something far more important like loving and serving one another.  Yes, it is up to the Lord to work in the hearts of our children, but these eternal goals remind me to do my diligence not to get in the way.  I try to make sure that nothing trumps these goals.  And even when other things are not Pinterest perfect, I can feel really good about that.   
2.  Refuel yourself.  We are a model of how we want our children to behave when they are adults.  Are we teaching them to refuel themselves so they have the longevity to love and serve others?  I often hear people speak poorly of "me time."  Of course, they mean being only self focused and ignoring the needs of our families.  That is not what I am saying here.  But in the same way we'd never think it was selfish of a car to need gas, it is not selfish for us to refuel either!
REAL LIFE:  What does it look like to apply this principle in real life?  For me, it means that I try to exercise (even if it is only 15 minutes) daily.  I take time to be in the Word.  One day a week I throw something in the crockpot and go to Weight Watchers (alone).  I allow myself to do what I love.  I take photos.  I decorate.  I enjoy my friendships.  This isn't selfish.  It is showing our children how to have balance and puts a fresh joy into all you do.  We give so much as moms, that it is easy to forget to fuel back up.  What fuels you?  Are you an introvert and need a little alone time to recharge?  Do you love to journal or scrapbook?  Maybe it is time to do that again.  Does music move you?  Buy a new CD and play it!  Are you an extrovert and need a monthly coffee date with a girlfriend?  Do it!  Do you love to pour over lovely magazines and read encouraging books?  It's worth the time.  Maybe you need a good laugh.  Why not find a Christian comedian (I love Tim Hawkins) and crack up!  These things are not just ok to do, they are necessary.  They are fuel and help us to serve long term.  

2.  Recruit help.  Don't try to do everything yourself.  Some moms I know hire in a teen from church temporarily to help with cooking and cleaning during especially difficult family times so they can remain focused on their children.  I recruit help too, only I use my in house team.  Yes, in the form of my own children.  I figure I do them no favors to act like their maid, so if I am getting stressed about the mess, I recruit them to help!

REAL LIFE:  What does it look like to apply this principle in real life?  When things are fraying, I may cut the school day short, grab the whiteboard and list out all the jobs we need to knock out together.  People can volunteer for the jobs they want, then we'll just turn on the tunes (my kids love Carman) or a Lamplighter audio book and we get moving together.  I really need them and they feel good about that.  And they have learned to work hard (which is on my list of goals) so I can feel good about that too.   
Life is just not going to be "Pinterest Perfect,"  but if we focus on the goals that last; refuel ourselves and recruit help we can have joy in the journey.
With love,


  1. As always, of all the blogs I read(which are few at this point), you fill me with refreshing encouragement! I have been feeling so burnt out and so tired. I need to remind myself of your points and apply them in my life. It is hard to allow myself to refuel and recruit help...but it is so obvious that I really need to.

    Thanks friend...very timely indeed :-)

    Lots of love,

  2. I was very encouraged by your post. Thank you! I also find it difficult to accept help and I can often burn myself out trying to keep up with it all. I've noticed that I haven't been as joyful as I usually am. It somehow got lost in my striving to work hard and get things done. My four children range in age from 9 months to 7 years old. They do help out with chores, but because of their ages, there is still a lot that only Mama can do right now!

    Thank you for blogging. It is a ministry to many. :)


    1. I think I need to read this particular blog every nap/rest and read time. It's my third time rereading it in the last 7 days! I, too, dream of a time that I won't feel like we live in our barn with the horses, but instead in a clean house! I dream of toilets that are fresh, no ring around the tub, and my eldest daughter (of three kiddos) doesn't ask excitedly, "...but I want to play on laundry mountain!". I am an extrovert with a lot of introvert friends. Any suggestions in motivating my gals to drop their work and schedules to "come out and play?"

  3. What a fantastic post Rebecca. I am so glad I chose to keep your blog on my reading list when I purposely cut back on writing my own blog and reading others. I have to say it bothers me when I read of bloggers who hire ongoing help so they can write posts on homemaking! I also have an in-house team of helpers - in fact the only reason I have time to comment now is because the girls are putting away the groceries. I know things will end up in the wrong place and I certainly could not write a post on how to organize your fridge freezer but you are so right I know a day will come when I will have time to put everything in order and maybe have a photo I would dare to pin but the provisions will be fewer and I will be longing again to see little footprints on the tiles or popsicles in the freezer.
    I've spent a few days in much contemplation about who to look up to...I found out about the demise of Vision Forum and the terrible circumstances when I read your last post. It totally threw me, I could not believe what I was reading when I did some research. I have all these VF books and DVDs we watched and absorbed and hoped to emulate. Sometimes I wondered if everything could be that wonderful and seemingly perfect in the life of a family and now it has come to light that everything was not right, not right at all. Right now I can't bring myself to open up one of the books as I'm thinking 'You were writing this and telling us how to live but not living it'. Your goals for your family are a reminder of what truly matters. Learning still that I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus rather than looking to others for inspiration and instruction on how to live and raise this family God has entrusted me with.

  4. I love this Sis! I love how much fun Hailey is having in that pic being pulled by her sister! Love you all!


  5. Sweet Sommer, I sure wish you lived closer! When I am feeling burnt out, this is my go to list. My husband knows it so well, that if he sees me low, he will start to run through it- are you getting your time in the Word? To exercise? To focus on healthy eating (Weight Watchers)? I'd love to hear how the refueling goes for you dear one. Remember, this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. Love you. I will be praying! :)

  6. Thank you dear Catherine. What a fantastic comment. Can I tell you a secret? You are in a tough time to try to focus on Pinterest perfect, but you have better! You'll never regret the time you took to kiss those lovely baby cheeks, cuddle on the couch to read wonderful character books or the effort it takes to train a team of helpers! :) Take joy! You will be shocked how soon (very soon) those punkins will be big kids who are a big blessing to you! Hugs!

  7. Thank you so much, dear Ann. First of all, It is so lovely to see your and other "familiar faces" as I have the opportunity to post again! I had to laugh at your comment: "I have to say it bothers me when I read of bloggers who hire ongoing help so they can write posts on homemaking!" That was funny. And very insightful. Are we looking at the fruit of the people who are teaching? A Titus 2 woman (who is supposed to be encouraging others to be a homemaker as you pointed out) will share out of the overflow of her quiet ministry at home. Her words will encourage us to better love our husbands and love our children. If we see someone who is spending 4+ hours on-line to "minister" to other women while her own family is left untended, something is broken.

    Oh Ann, I hear you. I spent weeks with my head spinning. I did. And it all still feels sickening. I am always shocked to see weeds growing with the wheat. Why is that? We are told they will. Amen, let us fix our eyes on Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd.

    Hugs to you!

  8. Hi sweet Sis! Oh, the funny variations of the pull game. On a blanket. On a blanket but in a box. Two people on a blanket. And the entire time I would wince as they would go around a corner at some speed, reminding them to be careful. Well no boo boos today, so I am sure we'll try a new variation tomorrow! ;) Love you!

  9. As usual, you are back to posting just when I needed to read it! And they say God works in mysterious ways...not always so mysterious ;)
    I'm very happy to see you back to posting my friend :)

  10. Gabi! Great to see you! God is so good. So blessed you are here. :)

  11. This is so encouraging Rebecca, especially the tips on how to DO these things in reality. Such an answer to prayer, as today I have been talking with my husband (in a somewhat panicked way!) about how I can cope with daily life at the moment. Our home is so cluttered and messy, and I can't keep on top of it all. I have six boys under the age of 10 and a new baby girl, and my eldest two boys (9 and 7) are on the autistic spectrum which makes them behaviourally VERY difficult and very resistant to any sort of training up, or even being willing to obey or help. It's so hard! I feel on the verge of complete burn-out with symptoms of a stomach ulcer. I definitely do not refuel myself, and I am not sure how to even go about it, but this blog post is helpful, giving examples, spelling it out for me. Thank you. I would so appreciate your prayers that I will recover from stress, and manage life better so that I am less stressed in any case. I feel like I am not getting ANY of my goals met, but then I haven't actually sat down and made any... We homeschool, but these past couple of months since my little girl was born, we haven't managed to do anything. It's hard to see the way when everything is a whirlwind. I almost went to bed (it's late) but I thought I would read your blog first, and I'm so glad I did! :)

  12. Thank you so much, Alice! As we navigate homeschooling with young ones "in process" and new littles, it can be completely overwhelming. But God. Yes, do make those goals and REFUEL, dear sister.

    In my next post, I am hoping to share some homeschooling things that have worked to help the children to grow a little more toward independent work so that I can better manage a school day with five grade levels. I hope they will be a blessing to you.

    I am praying for you! Please keep in touch. :)


  13. Always enjoy reading your blog. Your words are always encouraging and yet you help keep us focused too. Thanks, Missy Parris