Saturday, September 16, 2017

3 Ways to Speak So Your Child Will Listen

     As we exited the local resale shop, my hands were full with packages and my preschool age daughter was near my side. There were several cars in the parking lot so I routinely instructed her. “Stay by mama. Let me help you get in the car.” But she didn’t listen. She playfully dashed ahead, completely unaware that the car next to mine was pulling out. Immediately I yelled out, “Wait! Stop!” Sadly, she kept going. I dropped my bags and rushed out to grab her by the arm. Miraculously, the moving car missed hitting her by an inch.

     It has been several years since the day my daughter was almost hit in the parking lot. But I can still relive the entire scene without hesitation. In fact, I have had several dreams at night reliving that day. Although it scared me deeply that she was so close to being severely hurt, what concerned me more is that it almost happened because she didn’t listen to me. Why didn’t my child respond when I spoke?

     Our children, little ones to teenagers, must learn the art of listening to us but even more so, we must learn the art of speaking to them. Over time, I have learned more about how to effectively communicate to my children. Here are my top three ways to speak so your children will listen.

     1. With Earned Respect. Essentially, your position as a parent automatically places you in authority. However, your leadership in their lives is backed up by how much they respect you. Do your children respect you? When you speak, do they take note or blow you off? Do your words carry weight? Obviously, for me on that day with that child, mine did not. My child did not respect me, take note, or think my words carried weight. She did not hear me and respond accordingly. Yes, she needed to learn to listen but had I led her in such a way that my voice alone would cause her to inwardly respect what I said whether she wanted to or not.

      The child will learn to honor your authority and place of honor at home before the crisis. Teach them on the front end before you are out and about. Talk to them about your love for them and that you will only ask of them what is best for them. Talk to them about how God placed you as the parent so you can lead them. They absolutely must trust you and trust that you are accountable to God. Once a child knows you aren’t controlling or frivolous, they will have the correct perspective to respect you no matter what you ask of them.

     In the event that they hear you but don’t honor what you asked of them, there should be loving yet firm consequences. This will help them learn you say what you mean and you mean what you say. You will not have to be an overbearing dictator that demands respect. Respect is earned as you teach them why you do what you do.

     2. With Appropriate Timing.  Most all of us are familiar with being lectured for long periods of time from a parent, teacher, or coach. Interestingly, for me, the longer the person went, the less I would listen. At some point, it was just too long to stay focused or to process my emotions.  When you talk to your children, consider how long you are going. Even the scriptures tell us in Proverbs 10:19 "When words are many, sin is not absent. But he who holds his tongue is wise." Take some time to listen to your child first and ask that they listen to you. And then, keep it to the point.

     Additionally, think through the timing of when you talk. Did they just wake up? Is it in front of their friends? Are they already stressed over something else? Are they hungry? Just this week I watched another daughter of mine make poor choices in her class with our school group. Everything in me wanted to address it in the moment but because she is not a small child, I waited. After school ended and she was home settled after a snack, we talked. It went well because it was the right timing. She listened and she learned.

     3. With the Correct Tone. There are some moms that talk to their children as if they are children themselves. They speak with relaxed, breathy, hesitant tones as if they are pleading with the children in hopes they will obey. And if they don’t, the mom shakes her head and explains to those around her, “Boys will be boys!” or “She is just so independent!” All the while it was the mother who not only lacked authority but also the correct tone in which she spoke to them. It's no wonder the children don’t listen, she is communicating in weakness.

     Then there are the military mothers. These moms bark orders all day long. Their tone is firm and loud. They said it and they mean it or else! Everything from loading up in the car to answering a math question to picking up their clothes is communicated in a drill sergeant voice (or at the very least a one-angry-mama style). These moms do have obedient children but they also have stressed children that may inwardly be rebelling or are left feeling defeated. The mother’s tone undermines the more serious times that a child needs to listen because she is always “on their case” or “worked up” so they learn to tune her out.

     How you communicate in your tone to your children speaks volumes. Kindness and gentleness can be heard in the tone as you are respected with full authority. There is a balance much like what we know from how Jesus spoke. He was calm but heard. He spoke and they listened. Jesus wasn’t apologetic or weak and He was angered in only the most extreme moments. Speak like Jesus would speak. They will listen. Additionally, when your tone is steady the children will know if it changes and will respond accordingly. Specifically, if you are sad or hurt over their choices, your tone can reflect it. If you are louder and firm because of a major disobedience, they will take note.

     As our children learn the skills of listening, we can learn the skill of speaking. I will never forget that day in the parking lot when my little one was an inch away from injury, and I will never forget the importance of leading my children in how I speak. When we speak from a place of respected leadership, control the length of our talk said at the right time, and when our speech is verbalized with the correct tone, we are leading our children in such a way that they will listen. 

(The picture I shared is me with Allison as we chatted in the car recently. She was the little one that bolted into the parking lot years ago! We are still enjoying meaningful conversations on all kinds of topics since that day.) 

Friday, September 1, 2017

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!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Balancing Ministry and Family

One of the key questions from people who are leading while raising a family is how to balance it all. Here are some thoughts from my heart on how the Lord has allowed us to function with fun and grace!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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 14, 2017



     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!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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. 

     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 hygiene, 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 it's 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!

For more blog posts, go to the home page at

What We Use for School

After much, I mean MUCH, research, this is the easy-breezy, bottom line, thorough direction we have chosen to follow for our curriculum. One of the outstanding things about home educating is that we can pick what we feel is the best for our children according to their needs and our direction as a family.

     So, we use different things to teach our children including life experiences such as trips, church, extended family, hospitality, events etc. We have chosen curriculum in book form, some in DVD, some in Audio, some in a teacher/classroom setting, and some online. This format has allowed our girls to flourish in education given in many approaches.

In addition, something else we do that is unique but beneficial is that we often (depends on the year and ages) send our girls to 4-6 weeks of public school at the end of the year. This has been worthy of doing for the experience (MAP testing, field trips, outdoor skills day and to see how other children live and learn) personal discipleship (by way of being challenged by the world against their faith), and a change in pace of the flow of how we do life. This also gives me a little vacation and makes them appreciate home education the rest of the year! It truly does show them the pros and cons first hand rather than us always explaining why we do what we do the rest of the year.

    All that being said, I have listed the curriculum we use the rest of the year.  When you read below, you will see that we use much of the Classical Conversations material and school group. It's extremely inexpensive compared to private classical school and you will know your children are actually learning everything they need to know. This takes the pressure off of my mind wondering if we are doing what we are supposed to do as well as keeps me on schedule weekly.

     Classical Conversations is an awesome co-op (most likely there is one near you) where you don't have to teach as there are tutors. Hooray! And, it meets once a week and your children get many of the benefits of a school (recess, backpacks, classroom setting, field trips, school parties, year book, friends, teachers) without having to go every day.

     As stated previously, we use many methods and materials. The following is our list:

There is a checklist I have composed of all things needed by the end of the child's fifth year. Check posts for this list.

Kindergarten - 1st Grade
Geography, latin, science, public speaking, history - Classical Conversations

English - Abeka for reading and handwriting

Math - my own teachings from random workbooks of basic addition, subtraction, clocks, and money

2nd Grade
Geography, Latin, science, public speaking, history - Classical Conversations

English - Abeka for reading, handwriting and grammar

Math - Math-U-See DVD and book program

3rd Grade
Geography, Latin, science, public speaking, history - Classical Conversations

English - First Language Lessons for Grammar, Classical Conversations Pre-scripts for cursive, personal choice chapter books for Reading, Spelling lists are gathered from various sources depending on their level of ability. I am still thinking about writing material to use for this grade level as I haven't completely landed on a set one to recommend.

Math - Teaching Textbooks Math Program

4th Grade-6th Grade
Geography, Latin, Science, Public Speaking, History - Classical Conversations

English - Classical Conversations Essentials Class teaches the grammar, writing, vocab, and spelling using the IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing and Essentials of the English Language.) 

Math - Teaching Text Books Math Program

7th Grade - 12th Grade
All Subjects are Classical Conversations except Math which is Teaching Textbooks and a tutor to fill in the gaps.