Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Killer Harvest Celebrations!

      In a local store, my little girl saw gory Halloween decor and said, "I don't like this place. Look at all the mean things." The checkout employee heard her and replied, "Oh, honey, its not real. It's just pretend." I could tell by the face she made to the clerk that my little girl wasn't buying it. So I answered my daughter and said, "The lady working is right, those actual items are not real but they DO represent things that are real." I could tell the clerk thought I wasn't for real.

       Our family is all about the fall. We enjoy the cooler air, indulge in comfort foods, decorate with autumn colors, and participate in seasonal parties. But there is a darker side to this month that is a concern to me. Why are we rejoicing over blood, fear, knives, pain, chains, screams, death, terror, missing limbs and broken bones? Those are the very things that none (or, should I say, most of us) want to avoid in life. And yet, there is much effort and publicity to make it something we should all celebrate as if it's pretend. But I know from personal experience, those things are real and none of them seem like a fall festival.

BLOOD reminds me of the day my dad saved a man's life with his own neck tie in his workplace when a bomb went off from a box received in shipping.

FEAR reminds me of the night of the tornado that hit Joplin, MO where children and families are still in counseling over for post-tramatic stress syndrome

KNIVES remind me of the innocent landlord that was stabbed nearby after reaching out to help the family in need.

PAIN reminds me of what my grandmother felt when dying in her last horrific stages of ovarian cancer

CHAINS remind me of a college-aged girl I know that miraculously escaped the American sex trade in which she was literally chained in a warehouse for over 4 years

SCREAMS remind me of a very young local foster girl I know that reported screaming from the pain she felt when being sexually abused.

DEATH reminds me of all the thousands of precious people who tragically lost their lives on 9-11

TERROR reminds me of how our troops, including my cousin, who have fought and are fighting in horrific circumstances to end the terrorist groups

MISSING LIMBS reminds me of the children I saw on a recent trip to Haiti in which street children have been tortured to the point of brutal loss in order to make them work as slaves

BONES remind me of when my husband and I visited a Holocost museum and saw pictures and video footage of piles of mutilated people's bones

      When it comes to much of what is advertised and celebrated in October, we can call it merchandise, entertainment, a tradition, or a holiday, but at the very least we need to call it what it is, REAL. Some of these items and events glorify harsh realities that are not worth celebrating. So what will I do with my daughter this month? We will break out the jackets, cider, decor, and costume parties and we will have a killer...I mean, a life-giving harvest season!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Parenting With Apologies

     Shortly after one of my girls woke up, she was already verbalizing a negative attitude for the day. So I responded back to her with an attitude. Brilliant, right? I put the mama power on and firmly responded with, "I don't know what your problem is with today, but if you don't cut it out I can start your day with of some form of discipline to help you snap out of it." So she answered back that she didn't have an attitude. Then I answered back that she did and re-enacted it all so she could see it. Then I added, "You have one more chance to start this day off better." Then I went to the kitchen for another few minutes to finish reading my Bible. All it took was for me to see my Bible and I was immediately convicted.

     Calmly, I called for my daughter and expressed my apologies. "I am sorry. I was too firm and had a negative attitude myself this morning." Kindly she answered, "It's okay, mom." But I knew we needed to reunite in heart. "No, its not okay. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?" "Yes, I will." As we hugged she let out a sigh of relief. And so did I.

          So, after my daughter and I reconnected, I asked, "So what was up this morning that had you so tense..." and we chatted about it. Afterwards, we looked up Bible verses that would help with what she was struggling with for the day.  This was MUCH more effective than my first response.

     Parenting with apologies keeps my heart close to the girls and allows them to see my imperfections because they think I am totally perfe...wait, well, it allows them to see how I handle my imperfections. :-)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Laundry Logistics


It's intriguing to me how dirty clothes can have such control over my life. As the laundry needs build, the piles have a looming, creepy voice that calls out in eery tones..."wash me...dry me...fold me...put me in the closet..." over and over in my head! The voices are enough to drive a girl crazy! So here are some logistics I have learned that silences the call of laundry:

1. Certain loads go on certain days. Choose which family member gets which day. This can depend on who they are and what their needs. For example, I don't mind doing baby laundry because the clothes are easier, a smaller load, and sooooo cute. Therefore, the baby load is done on Saturday when we might be out more. I do my older two girls laundry (at times they do their own from start to finish but not always...yet) on Wednesday because that is a day that they can put it all away for their afternoon work before a busy church night. This relieves me from doing it. Friday is our family day off so towels and sheets go then because they are easy to put away and the girls can fold them with me as the day is more relaxed.

      Having a system gives me a the freedom to not think about what is waiting on me. If it isn't the day for that load, then it can wait. Even if it is falling out on the floor overflowing from the bin, it can wait. The only exception to this is if someone truly needs an item or two before their day then I may be a merciful mother and allow them to throw it in with another load. But it better be truly needed! ha. Below is my write up for what we do:

Sunday - off

Monday - off

Tuesday - Bria and Allison's laundry

Wednesday - Candice and Kelly Grace's laundry

Thursday - Scotty and my laundry

Friday - Towels, sheets etc

Saturday - Angel's laundry

2. Start as early as possible. Before I even make breakfast I throw a load in for the day. This is so that all laundry is completely done before I start dinner at night. That way all I have to focus on is dinner and kitchen and baths and phone calls and emails and time with my husband and yeah. Laundry has to be done before dinner or I start to get a little tense.

3. Take days off. Days off will be like a lullaby to your mind. Sunday and Monday I don't do any laundry (unless someone has thrown up). This takes pressure off on a busy ministry day and the day we go to a school group that takes all day. Having a couple of days break is a relief.

      Those three steps will change your life. Well, maybe not your life but they will keep your mind from hearing creepy voices all day and wondering when to do everything. A little laundry logistics can set things in order. Your clothes will be quiet and your mind will be at peace!

(Re-posted from 2013)

Monday, August 15, 2016



     Please stop all tasks and take heed! Please step away from the google search of every method and mindset. Drop the debit/credit cards and do not buy another piece of curriculum. Put the home schedule revision # 7 back in the cabinet. Stop laying awake at night in a panic as you revisit all the details of what needs to be done. Erase the plans you have drawn out to ban all co-ops due to resentment that you can't leave your children there while you get things done. Ignore all fears that you can't do this.

     Go ahead and cry. Let out your emotions. Scream out "I AM OVERWHELMED" at the top of your lungs in front of all your neighbors and friends if need be. Write your nay-sayers and acknowledge you know they don't think you can do this. Admit to your spouse that, although you do love the children, you have repeated thoughts of the old days where children were sent off to boarding school...and seemed to turn out fine, right? Right?

     You are not alone. This is universal! It's called "BACK TO SCHOOL". Also known as "the time of the year when mothers are trying to do what they feel is right for their family but it's hard and overwhelming and mindboggling and you second guess if just putting them on the bus wouldn't be such a bad idea after all..."

     Take a deep breath and repeat after me "IT IS OKAY. ALL HOMESCHOOL MOTHERS FEEL THIS.(Yes, I mean 100%. I mean, I haven't taken an international survey but I just know). I AM NOT ALONE. THIS IS NORMAL. NOTHING WORTH HAVING IS CHEAP. THIS IS COSTING ME SOMETHING BUT IT'S WORTH IT. I TRULY WANT THIS (If you can't say that one with confidence just go ahead and say it in faith.) IF GOD WANTS THIS FOR ME THEN I CAN DO IT! YES, THIS IS HARD BUT IT'S NOT THE FIRST THING I HAVE CONQUERED! I WILL FIGURE THIS OUT WITH GOD'S HELP!"

     Now then. How are you? Still second guessing yourself? Wondering how all this works? Think God picked the wrong family? In all seriousness, it's okay. I believe those who have gone before you have been there. I am in my 8th year of homeschooling and I feel this way every year we start. Even more so, sometimes I feel this in the middle of the year. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. That doesn't mean I should give up. And you shouldn't either.

     "If God is for you, who can be against you?" Romans 8:31. No matter how you feel or what you are facing with the school year, you have nothing to worry about. Fighting for what you know God has for you isn't easy but He is with you. He is the One Who will give you supernatural guidance on what to do and what not to do as well as the when, how, and why answers. He is the source of life physically but also mentally as you make your way through the maze.

     There is peace. There is clarity. There is favor. There is wisdom. There is patience. There is joy. All of these are readily available to you from the Lord. I have personally experienced them all in my life with schooling my girls. There comes a point where you will settle in and get in a groove. It may take time (for some, lots of in years) but you will with God's help.

     My first year I was a professional researcher spending most of my time meeting with ladies and asking questions but it did end up helping . My second year I revamped all I had tried the first year and felt better. My third year I realized a person doesn't need to buy a lot of extra bells and whistles to teach, so that saved money. My fourth year I accepted that maybe I do need a co-op, which relieved stress. My fifth year I admitted that teaching a true ADHD child was difficult so investing in a tutor didn't mean I was a failure. My sixth year I was clueless on the new English curriculum despite my college degree, so I worked as hard as my 4th grader only to discover we knew what we were doing by the second semester. My seventh year I realized how fast the years are going so I need to stay focused. And now we will begin our new year of school in about a week or two. But Every year gets better! I am loving it because I know there are challenges but God is for me and always, always, always helps me.

     As we have taken this journey, I have grown tremendously in my walk with the Lord. The challenges have caused me to truly seek Him. We have not regretted our decision to home educate. We understand it's not for all families and yet feel blessed it is for us. The results of our endurance and hard work has paid off 10x over in more areas than we could have imagined.

     So, as we end this emergency interruption...just know, you are okay, dear friend. God is with you.

     BEEP BEEP BEEP ... we now return to our regular scheduled life of adventure!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Parenting Teens Back to School

The excitement I had for going back to school changed dramatically after elementary. The joys of a new lunch box, meeting my teacher, discovering how much recess time was allotted and hoping friends noticed that I had lost a baby tooth were soon replaced by thoughts in the mind of a blossoming teenager. I looked forward to the status of being in an older grade, the fun of electives, seeing friends every day, and showing the world how much I had matured through the summer. But I also had other no-so-exciting emotions. I wondered if my clothes would be cool enough, what classes to take for college preparation, how to manage the endless social dramas, and if I was going to make the JV or Varsity basketball team. Back to school had certainly changed.

     Certainly, if you are in the midst of raising a teen, then you know students aren't the only ones feeling the change. What used to be a fun trip hand-in-hand to Wal-Mart for a pack of d├ęcor pencils has turned into a Mall trip with much discussion of what is or isn’t allowed. It’s a time of change for the parents as much as the student. So what are some insights into making the best of school preparation with your teenage child?
1. Keep It Fun! Teens are still tender at heart! While they long to be grown, there are parts that are still enjoying childhood joys.  So, create a celebration of the back to school days! Make a countdown chart in the kitchen, take them for a fresh haircut, leave a note of funny things you remember from being their age and/or hopes you have them this year. Some more ideas are to visit the school before it starts just to say hello to staff for a pre-school connection, make shopping day fun by planning out what is needed and the best places to look then enjoy stopping for a treat as you chat about how your child feels about the year, or have some close friends over for a back to school hang out time or dinner out. Their tender teen hearts may or may not express how much all this means but they will enjoy, appreciate, and remember all you have done.

2. Keep It Simple! With all the changes during those teen years, simplicity is a gift that some teens aren’t sure how to acquire. Everywhere they go, there are options and decisions for them to be involved in something. Whether it’s more classes, afterschool clubs, sports, church activities, community events, friendships, homework, home jobs or even a workplace job, there is much to be done! If you can help them narrow down their choices and responsibilities with logical reasoning it will help them not be overwhelmed. Think through their natural abilities, personal interest (not just because someone else wants them to do it), weekly schedule, daily schedule, cost, responsibilities and necessity to do what is offered. As you move through a time of investigation and discussion, you will both learn what will be the best for all involved. This will keep things simple which helps the teen and the whole family.  

3. Keep It Close! While these years are a time to offer more freedom and growth, this is also a critical time to stay close to their heart. They may or may not seem interested or may not be home as much but they do still need you! It will take some planning and patience on your part but keeping them close is a must. As you go into the school year, have a conversation about your love for them and desire to stay connected. Then go into the fall with plans for meals as a family, set weeknight or weekend outings, leave notes of encouragement as well as be willing to stay up for those late-night chat times, attend their activities, create time to know their friends, and do whatever it takes to get into their world. In return, having a close relationship that makes an effort to be together gives more opportunity to discuss the realities of teen pressures, friend issues, personal struggles, and deeper emotions. Going into the school year with the support of a parent that works to stay close gives incredible stability for the developing teen and endless rewards for you as the parent!

  These days may be different than years before but it can be a meaningful and enjoyable time in the journey of parenting as your teen goes back to school!

 *Article used as published in Paradise Valley Lifestyle Magazine August 2014  by Casey Gibbons

Trying to Train!


     All I am trying to do is "train up a child in the way she should go". But that is not always easy! This video clip is exactly what happened yesterday. I was feeling frustrated so I decided to video it exactly the way it was two minutes previously...and the phone even rang without prompting...which is part of our normal life too! Ugh. So many distractions. 

    Honestly, I started singing because it was either sing or let out an exasperated sigh. So, I just made up a song to get their attention. Do you ever feel frustrated with your children when all you are trying to do it is the right thing?! I am sure this is the case for mothers everywhere!  Don't give up friends! Keep teaching even when it's tough! I am preaching this to myself too!
    I am reminded of the verse in Galations 6:9-10 (MSG) "So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith." Totally for us, friends.

     We must not give up with planting the seeds in the hearts of our children so we can gather a harvest. I can remember a friend of mine who has raised eight children sharing with me that I am in the years of plowing the fields. (I am picturing myself completely digging with a shovel, sweating profusely in the blazing sun with no water as a comparison to what I feel at times emotionally, physically, mentally as a mama!). But she went on to say that I will in time see the growth coming up and will be richly blessed with a lifelong harvest which would be my children loving the Lord! I have never forgotten those words. And so I plow. And you must too.

     No matter what distractions or frustrations we may feel when leading our children, we must keep going. Even better is that our strength, patience, and perhaps at times a fun-loving response will come from the Lord who created our children and chose us to mother them.

     After the song we did move on with still and quiet children ready to actually learn. Little seeds are already sprouting from my little crop!


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Goals for Ages 3-5 yrs old.

When we had the first four children in four years, my mind was always racing to remember which child needed to learn what thing. It was mindboggling to keep track only to realize one had not learned something they should have by a certain point. With all the training and teaching going on, I was just happy they were fed and clean by the end of most days. But there is more that needs to be learned in those first five years.

      So as some of you have asked, we are sharing the list of important things we wanted our girls to know and do between the ages of 3-5. This list allowed me to keep track of where each girl was and who needed to learn other things. 

     They are divided into 5 Categories that we implement every day for some through guided life learning and other days when we do "school time" which is approximately 3-4 days a week. 

 All these goals can be taught through basic simple teaching, games, books, dvds, car rides, Cds, and lots of talking. Plus, depending on when you start kindergarten, you have two to three years to teach it all so that takes the stress off of cramming it in their little heads in a year.

      On that noteconsider starting kindergarten as close to age 6 as possible. I say this for a couple of crucial reasons. First, when they enter kindergarten closer to age 6 they have had more time to develop emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

     When they are on the "older side" of kids in the class they can have the experience of leadership to the classmates because they are ahead. Just think of the joy of being one of the first kindergarten kids to lose a tooth, or to be a fifth grader with cool braces, a junior high sports boy with a year ahead in height and strength, a mature freshman girl that is out of the awkward stage, or being one of the first friends to drive and have a job. In addition, their hearts have had time to grow in the Lord and they are able to make solid decisions with wisdom and knowledge that time gives.
     Secondly, when you start later, the child is home longer on the back end of high school before leaving for work, college, or marriage. A year can make a difference when entering the adult world. And by those years we want every second we can get with our kids before they are grown and gone!

     Although a child may be ready for kindergarten schoolwork that doesn't mean you have to send them. Go ahead and have them do some older work at home but consider waiting to place them in kindergarten at church class or school class until closer to age 6. This is a precious time to bond and enjoy a stage with your child as much as possible. Honestly, I would rather have my toddlers go to preschool a few times a week than my 5-6 year olds leave. They are easier and so much fun to do everyday life with by the time they are out of the "I walk around and get into stuff in dangerous ways" stage!

     And if you have already started your little one and this info is too late, perhaps the Lord will lead you to make the courageous decision to hold your child back a year to repeat or to just take a year off. My mom had to make this choice with my brother when he was in the second grade. He turned 7 in September and started second grade but she felt it was best to hold him back. He thrived socially and academically far better than the year before which kept on through his high school years.

     For us, our Allison turned 6 in June and we started her in Kindergarten then. She will be 7 in June and starting first grade more mature than those younger students entering that are perhaps just turning 6.

     Just something to think about but God will lead you for what your child needs and it may be different.

     So, back to some ideas to follow as you guide your 3-5 year olds. Here is what we have researched and used in our children: 

1. God -
His love for us, He does good, and He is good. You can learn these through Bible stories (read from Story Bible book, or use the Dan and Louie Bible Stories Cds), prayer (for anything, anytime, anywhere) and scripture memory. (Steve Green's Hide 'Em in My Heart Cds or otherwise)

2. Others - Receiving love, showing love, manners such as personal hygeine, phone skills, doorbell responses, key phrases (thank you, bless you, you're welcome, please), how to behave in quiet settings (such as weddings, meetings, church). 

3. Play -
Lots of open imagination time, some directed time, playing with others

4. Work -
Why we work (to carry out God's purposes on earth) and how we work (with excellence unto the Lord). Daily chores such as a kitchen job, cleaning their rooms, and one other house job that is age appropriate. These are without pay so they know its part of living in the home and being an important member of the family. If someone needs to earn some money then we assign above and beyond jobs that are harder and not typical.

5. Education - Safety Skills (calling 911, what to do when lost, water safety, strangers), 7 Keys to Health (Water, Rest, Exercise, Vitamins, Healthy food, Massage, and Clean Hands away from the face), Personal Information (names of family members, phone numbers, address), Colors, Shapes, Letters  Counting to 100, Parts of the Body, Handwriting (letter formation, name, upper and lower case, keeping it in a straight line, and spacing), Calendars (days, months, seasons), Workbook Pages (fun books from local store with some cognitive work pages).

          This is a list to plan for and give guidance but don't stress when its not all done perfectly. If you do a bit by bit over the 3,4,5 years it will all come together! I hope that this list is a help to you as you lead your little ones in the way and timing the Lord tells you is best for your family!

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