Have you recently been promoted as your child’s homeschool teacher? Need some ideas, resources, and help during this transition. I’ve been homeschooling my three children for over seven years, and would love to offer you encouragement and recommendations.
Quick tips to starting a “school day” at home:
– make a schedule, BUT be flexible when keeping to it (leave lots of room for connections and conversations)
– choose a “classroom” This could be the kitchen or dining room table, playroom, desk or office area. In our homeschool, we always start in our designated school room, then end up “schooling” through the house.
– read aloud as much as time allows. Our read aloud time is one of our most treasured homeschool times. A few of our favorite read alouds are the Chronicles of Narnia (https://amzn.to/2TS3Iz7); The Penderwicks (https://amzn.to/3aUQfvX); The Witch at Blackbird Pond (https://amzn.to/2WbAdtj) Beverly Clearly books, (https://amzn.to/2xChcGo) and Heroes of the Faith books (https://amzn.to/3d1hhno)
– nail down those math facts! We use a free computer program https://xtramath.org/#/home/index
– Life is a learning experience. Cooking can be a reading comprehension, math lesson. Cleaning the house works on character building and time management. Sending a letter to grandma helps with writing and organizational skills.
-take a trip around the world. Online, virtual field trips are available to many incredible places around the world, like exploring the inside of a pyramid or viewing an art exhibition at the Louvre https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne
-get outside!! I can not stress this one enough! Free play, problem solving, confidence building, exercise, imagination, and vitamin D- a whole body experience. We keep track out our outside hours with a fun chart that I am happy to share- just send me a message.
– use this time to explore your child’s interests and hobbies. Your child was created with unique interests and giftings. Use this time to help them discover them.
-sometimes stopping is the best action. One of the benefits of homeschooling is flexibility. If a school day becomes stressful and pushing through work becomes frustrating and unfruitful, just stop. Take a break, enjoy some ice cream, go back to it later in the day or take the rest of the day off.
– give grace and enjoy. Give your kids grace, give yourself grace, accept grace. Transitions are hard. Pray. Do your best, and let go of the rest. And enjoy this time! Kids don’t keep. While moments seem long, they add up to years that go by too quickly.
I am happy to share anything I’ve learned and offer specific recommendations. Please comment below or send me a message.
Grace and peace to you!
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When I was twenty years old, I experienced a situation that caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety. I tried everything in my power to solve the circumstances on my own. I manipulated and controlled things so they would turn out the way I wanted them to be. I was exhausted, hurt, and caught up in disbelief.
Eventually, I found myself at a dead end. Crushed by the weight of anxiety and false control, I was trapped and isolated. I longed for a way out, but didn’t know where the out was.
One day in a moment of desperation, and in need of something concrete, I took a meaningful object connected to the situation and marched out into the woods behind my house. With tears streaming down my cheeks and with as much force as I could gather, I threw the memento as far as I could into the trees as I yelled aloud (to God), “You take it!” The words were few, the implications many. I wanted help. I wanted him to take it-all of it! The whole thing! I couldn’t and didn’t want to deal with the situation on my own any longer!
It was the first cast, and the first crack in the control I had so desperately clung to. Over the next days and weeks, I casted more and more. As I did, God helped me face reality and my fears. I was letting go, and embracing something new. It was hard and hurtful. It was a process, and I knew I would be okay if I kept casting forward.
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Dead ends and desperation can lead to humility. Learning to let go of our will, walking in obedience even when it doesn’t make sense, and accepting consolation and grace, are beginning steps toward overcoming anxiety and taking strength in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Jesus wants us to cast- or throw- our anxieties and concerns on him. But this isn’t a game of catch. We shouldn’t wait for Jesus to throw our anxieties back to us. Nor is casting anxiety like a 50/50 custody arrangement in which we share the responsibility. We should not choose between the concerns we want God to be responsible for, and the ones we want to keep for ourselves.The Bible tell us to cast ALL anxieties on him.
Casting and releasing can be difficult though, and it often picks a fight with our will. Our humanity and lack of patience tempts us with the desire to take back cares back under our control. But Jesus wants to take our anxieties, hold them captive and work through them in his perfect power. In doing so, he restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us. (1 Peter 5:10)
Turning to God, turning over our anxieties, and taking hold of his truths are daily disciplines. It is the only way to successfully cast away and not take back our cares. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can humble ourselves and trust that God cares for us and has a good plan for our lives.
In the right and proper time, God will set us high over our anxieties, and he may even give us a view of the larger picture of his plan. A plan that gives us hope and a future, a plan that often is very different than we thought. Until that time, keep casting, waiting, and practicing humility.
Happy Sunday! ❤
It’s almost impossible to be immune to the constant commentary on the coronavirus and to avoid devastating news of disasters and loss. Here’s the truth, this world can be a scary place.
While reassurances, reminders of wise actions, and fact checking are helpful, washing one’s hands will not make fear go down the drain with the germs. Fear compounded by divisions, blaming, isolation, and the unknown can spiral out of control.
Fear makes us face our humanity. It challenges our control. It tricks us into hesitation and uncertainly. Fear gets louder and louder until we are forced to listen and to respond.
Will fear freeze us or free us? It has the power to do both. It is how we deal with fear that makes the difference. Ignoring it will not make it go away; facing it, even in the smallest of ways, frees us to start focusing on other things. Our life.
A few tips to facing fear:
- Acknowledge the fear.
- Silence the noise (take a break from the TV and social media.)
- Make a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life.
- Recall a past fearful and scary situation, and think how you made it through it. What helped? What didn’t?
- Talk to a trusted friend, mentor, or pastor. No one should have to deal with fear alone.
- Read and repeat scripture. “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” -Deuteronomy 31:8
- Relinquish control to God. This is often difficult to do. I find when my Will is not willing, I ask the L“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”-Psalm 56:3
- Allow faith to cover & extinguish fear. “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.” -Psalm 18:2
“You have listened to fears, Child,’ said Aslan.
‘Come, let me breathe on you.
Forget them. Are you brave again?”C.S. LEWIS
Finally, I came across this quote in the book Prince Caspian and it gave me a beautiful image of faith and fear fighting. Susan, one of the main characters, was struggling with fear and disbelief, and Ashlan (who represents Jesus) encourages her by acknowledging her struggle and offering her hope and relief. He does not condemn her, but gently strengthens her with his words and the breath of life.
As followers of Christ, we have been left with the gifts of The Word and the very breath of life, the Holy Spirit. We can confess our fear and depend on the Holy Spirit for help, guidance, and power. With the Holy Spirit’s help we can take hold of peace and hope in all of life’s situations, and find the freedom from the bondage of fear.
I would love to hear your best fear fighting tips. Also, if you would like prayer or want to talk more about fear/faith, please send me a message. I would love to hear from you.
Jesus invites us to come to him and find rest for our souls. God prescribes a rhythm of work and rest to help us find balance and blessing in our lives. There’s another type of rest found in the Bible different from the ceasing work, relaxing and refreshing type.
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”Exodus 33:14
The “rest” in Exodus 33:14 refers to a promise of an everlasting possession of land God made to his people. A promise that came with a long, faith testing, faith building, perseverance producing kind of journey. A journey God promised to go with and lead his people through by his “presence” (or his “face.”)
Although God’s promise in this verse was for a specific group of people, there are other promises God has pledged to us. Promises of love, redemption, salvation, and impossible, good things forged from difficulty and even suffering.
Sometimes we need a reminder to rest in a physical sense. Sometimes we need a reminder to rest in an emotional and spiritual sense. And sometimes we need a reminder of the Exodus 33:14 type of rest- the truth of God’s promises and His faithful presence to help us be strong, courageous, and keep persevering through the journey of life.
Seeking God’s presence often means discovering His promises. Finding God’s face often moves us forward in faith. Trusting God’s rest and presence leads to us to new territories of love and dwellings of freedom.
Happy Sunday! ❤
“Action, then passivity;
Striving, then letting go
Doing all one can do, and then being carried…
only in this rhythm is the spirit realized.”
“The essence of being in God’s image is our ability, like God, to stop. We imitate God by stopping our work and resting. If we can stop for one day a week, or for a mini-Sabbath each day, we touch something deep within us as an image bearer of God. Our human brain, our bodies, our spirits, and our emotions become wired by God for the rhythm of work and rest in him.” -Robert Barron, And Now I See
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been convicted and encouraged to take inventory of my busyness and life rhythms. I’ve been prompted to conduct a self evaluation of the state of my heart and the observance of Sabbath in my life.
The result of these things have brought a new awareness and perspective I haven’t found before. It has sparked a journey into learning new spiritual disciplines and figuring out how to wire these new practices into my life. I believe I’m stepping into a new, sacred place of life.
The first and most important step in all of this was to do something I find incredibly difficult to do- to stop. Honestly, stopping wasn’t my choice. I was forced to stop. A class requirement of a day long Soul Sabbath at a spiritual retreat center run by the Sisters of Notre Dame required me to so.
Funny how a requirement produced a desire to seek out more silence, solitude, and Sabbath in my life. How “having to” turned into “wanting to.” How stopping started new dialogue, reconditioned my heart, and expanded my vision and goals. The whole time I was thinking I was checking off a work box, but God was checking in on my heart and drawing me in closer to Him through rest.
“Stop, rest, delight and contemplate” are four principals of Sabbath that Peter Scazzero writes about in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. I’ve been focusing on these things and soaking up silence and solitude (as much as a mom of three can find). I’ve been discovering new rhythms, paying closer attention, hearing better, and sampling the “something greater that awaits.” It doesn’t look perfect and holy, it looks more like stumbling and tumbling, but it is a forward moving, in a more peaceful process with intention to be in God’s presence and be present for others.
I don’t know what the current condition and the state of your heart and life is. I don’t know if busyness and striving is stealing joy, peace and contentment away from your life and relationships. Maybe you feel like you’ve become lost in a storm of choices you’ve made (including the good ones that have become time consuming restrictions.) Maybe you feel like you are what you do, and have lost sight of who you truly are. Many people struggle with busyness, balance, work addiction, and high, unhealthy expectations. If you feel this way, you are not alone. Finding time to be alone, more specifically alone to be with God, can help.
I invite you to do the incredibly difficult work to stop. It doesn’t need to be a whole day of silence and solitude, but at least an hour of time, preferably more, of intentional rest and no work.
Ignore the lies that it cannot be done. Make it happen. You may need to force yourself to this. You may need to say no to something or someone. You may need to ask someone to watch the kids. Shut off your phone, silence social media, get outside, go for a walk, or take a nap. It may not feel “productive,” but it will be more productive in the long run. And maybe, just maybe, stopping to rest will start something new- a plan of action for more silence, solitude, and Sabbath in your life too.
Cheering you on, friend!
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;Psalm 37:7
This shirt is more than a comfortable thing to wear, it’s a great conversation piece too. One time I wore it on a flight home from a conference. When I reached the connecting airport, my next flight was delayed and I was stranded in the Newark for hours. To soak up some time, I decided to invest in a meal at one of those overpriced airport restaurants.
My waiter thought my shirt was great (he told me so) and stressed the “enough” phrase in much awkward conversation. He emphasized the phrase in normal waiter questions like, “Do you have “enough” to drink? Is that “enough” cheese for your spaghetti? I do not think you’ve had “enough” bread.” And a bit more personal statement, “You look like you haven’t had “enough” rest.” (Yep, seriously!) Before I left the restaurant, I’m ashamed to admit that didn’t leave him “enough” of a tip, because he was right, I hadn’t had “enough” rest or “enough” patience, and I had had “enough” of his sense of humor. (Hey, I’m human.)
The idea of “enough,” or maybe more accurately “not enough,” comes up in many conversations and creeps into our thoughts and actions in sneaky little ways. While the use of the phrase is not necessarily bad or wrong, I am specifically referring to the the idea of “not enough” as a personal attack on our self-worth and confidence. In this way, the phrase carries weight and implications that can cause cracks in our confidence, create conflict and confusion, and can stop us from joyfully living out our purpose and passion.
Here are a few examples of the “not enoughs” I have entertained in my own life.
“I do not have enough skills.”
“I do not have enough of what it takes.”
“I did not get enough done.”
“I do not have enough time.”
“I did not get enough sleep to have enough energy to get enough done in the not enough time. “
Whatever the “not enough” is for you, the idea is still the same. The small phrase and accompanying emotional reactions can snowball into turbulence. The turbulence can turn into a negativity that forges disappointment and disillusionment. Constant attention to these things can create a disheartening in us.
“Not enough” is an expectation, a limitation, and a lie. It’s often fought against with cute memes, inspirational quotes, and half-truths that leave those who hear and read them with a dissatisfaction and desire for more. We want so badly want to believe what we hear and read, but cannot seem to make the connection to what the words say and how to apply them to our reality.
While repeated “you are enough” statements seem like they work in the moment, they do not create lasting change. They miss out on the core truths of Christ. It’s only with Jesus, “not enough” turns into “more than enough.” It’s only in Jesus Christ we can reclaim our true identity, counterattack comparison, realize we can rest in contentment, and continue forward in confidence.
The truth is, we were not created for just enough, we were created for more than enough. Not more striving and stressing, but more seeking and surrendering.
To discover these truths, requires a step. A step of faith in humility toward the unlimited power of Jesus. An act of courage to believe he has more than enough love and everything you need. A brave belief that Jesus wants to give you hope for a future that will be more than you ever thought possible. All this takes trust and work. An inside out type of work.
If you are interested in what type of work this may be, or want to discover a way to conquer your “not enoughs,” stayed tuned. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll be writing more about these things and challenging us to apply truths, ideas and strategies to live in a way that is more than enough and full of peace, love and joy.
“Not enough” is an expectation, a limitation, and a lie.
This morning I was given the most wonderful opportunity. A true gift that I will tuck away and treasure. I was invited to be part of a group where my dreams were realized and now are coming true.
Ten years ago, I walked through the doors of a local church, and used every bit of courage I could muster to enter a room full of strangers. I had two babies under the age of two with me. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and felt in every way that I was “not enough.”
I had no clue what to expect. I was a lost in the maze of motherhood, and loaded down with expectations that I couldn’t meet. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore or where the person I once was went. I did not know what I doing, or where I was going. Motherhood was hard. My faith life was stale. And I felt like I was being broken into a million pieces.
I was being broken, to be built back up again.
When I sat down at that MOPS table, I didn’t know I was about to embark on one of the greatest journeys of my life. A journey that would allow me to travel alongside others, all on our own journeys but bound together by a thread of motherhood and love.
Over the next ten years, I kept walking through the doors of MOPS groups, sitting around tables, listening to speakers, discussing life and faith. I found my heart and soul, rediscovered my identity, and learned I wasn’t alone. I was fortified by food, encouraging words, and friendship. I was challenged to step into leadership and discover my purpose and calling.
Motherhood was still hard, but now I had strategies, insight, and a community around me. It was a matter of obedience and patience, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next right thing. It was (and is) about failing, embracing imperfection, accepting grace, and trying again, and again, and again.
New dreams were being formed in me. My faith was sparked into a fire. God was calling me to try things that made me deeply afraid, yet He gave me the boldness to try them. The new things were exciting and scary, and they made me feel alive.
It was at MOPS when I first heard God’s calling to become a pastor to women and families. To teach the Word of God and encourage others in their faith. It was at a MOPS Leadership Event, eight years later, when I finally said it out loud. And it was only a few months ago, when I started my first class at seminary, taking steps forward into my calling.
Today, I walked through those same doors as I did ten years ago. I walked into the same room, filled with different beautiful strangers. This time I walked through those doors as a mom and also a speaker, knowing who I am and filled with joy and gratitude.
As I spoke, I fumbled through some of my words. The light and the warmth that poured through room’s windows took me back ten years ago. Looking around the room at each beautiful face brought me right back to where it started.
I was distracted with joy from overcoming the battles I fought over the last ten years, joy from knowing that hard stuff produces the best things, and joy from being firmly established in my faith and walking in God’s good plans. I was filled with gratitude to have this opportunity to share from a place a little further down the road.
This space, like so many other MOPS meetings rooms and gatherings, is a holy place. A place where freedom can be found. identity can be reclaimed, and journeys are pathways to new dreams. For me, this specific MOPS room and group will always be special as it is where my journey began, and a new one begins.
***To the Leaders & Moms of the Windham MOPS group, Thank you, thank you for your warm welcome and allowing me to join you. Each one of you brings something special and important to the table. And regardless of how you “feel” right now, I believe that through Jesus, you can be FULL OF..
- Faith to believe what God says about you
- Love to reclaiming who you are
- Courage to take the next step forward
- Bravery to say no to harmful self-talk and habits
- Grace to embrace failures and try again
- Leadership to guide your children as they grow
- Perseverance to advocate for my kids and see that they need
- Hope for the future
Press on, my friends, and live abundantly. I’ll be praying for you! ❤
What motivates you? Are you ego-driven or purpose-driven?
An ego-driven person is motivated by self-preservation and self-seeking satisfaction. They have a high sense of self-importance and chase after goals for external validation. They spend most of their energy comparing themselves to others and blaming things outside of their control on their shortcomings. They like to dwell in the past, and have trouble seeing beyond the present. The ego-driven person has mistaken what they have or what they do for their identity.
Purpose-driven people are motivated to action by a purpose greater than themselves. They take responsibility for their actions and recognize failures and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. They are determined and confident, grounded and fueled by their mission to grow, help, give, and serve. Their identity is based in their purpose and have their sight set on the future.
As followers of Christ, we are not only purpose-driven, we are God-driven. The cross is our motivation. And our purpose is to worship and love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and with all our strength (Mark 12:30) We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Mark 12:31) Deny ourselves of selfish ambitions and selfish ways, and follow in the footsteps of Jesus (Matthew 16:24.) We are to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. (Micah 6:8)
In this pursuit of our purpose, we are not to go on our own. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who empowers and reminds us of what we are to do. The Spirit leads us to seek God, his strength, and his presence continually. (1 Chronicles 16:11)
This week, whatever we do, let the work on the cross be our motivation. Let us work with purpose and heart, and do it for the glory of God. (Col. 3:23, 1 Cor. 10:31)
Too often we view the cross only as a past event that secured our eternal destiny, and we fail to see how it can motivate daily choices and activities. Stop to contemplate all that God is continually accomplishing in you though the cross. Let it be your motivation to live wholeheartedly for Christ.- Charles Stanley
It started six years ago as a small whisper in the quietest spaces and most protected places of my heart. A call into a deeper ministry for Jesus and in service to others, to grow in love for, learn more about, and to be equipped to teach the Word of God by pursuing a seminary education. I thought over what I believed I had heard from God and considered what it would mean for my life, our life as a family already busy in ministry.
I wish I could say I was like Mary who answered the Lord’s call with “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled,” Yet, I was more like other less confident, less qualified, less-everything characters, and rattled back a lot of questions and concerns, “Me God? How God? When God? Really, God? I am not so sure, God.” And then I would silence the whisper with wonderful other things and noisy distractions. Yet, the whisper persisted.
Over the next four years, I was prodded by a continuous nudge and pondered the call that was growing louder. I wasn’t able to shake it off as easily as I had before. Everything I thought about and worked on led me back to this passion for Jesus, for women, for families, for the Word of God. Fear kept me from sharing things aloud, but God kept sharing with me in personal, quiet ways. He gave me many signs, opportunities and encouragement to be stretched and challenged. I received each of these things as individual, separate blessings, but now looking back I see them as a cumulation of stepping stones in a path of trust and faith.
I cannot remember what happened first- the dream I had of jumping into unknown, murky waters- or blurting out what was on my heart at a MOPS Training event. But after that dream and sharing my deepest thoughts and now a true desire, I felt like the doors of my heart were flung opened and sunlight flooded in. Each time I shared with someone, I felt a fresh breeze of confidence and excitement fill my heart. I had no details or any idea how all of it was going to work, I was a bit apprehensive about stepping into this new thing, but I trusted that if it was from the Lord, He would provide the way and His will would be done. I sought wise counsel and asked others to pray for discernment as deciding what the next steps would be.
The next steps came in the forms of essays, recommendation letters, transcripts that translated into an application to Gordon-Conwell Seminary. Pressing the final send button on the application after so many years of praying, conversations and counsel, tears and “wrestling” with what exactly was I was being called to do, was both scary and exhilarating. I gave it all a rest, handed it over to the Lord confident in the fact that I had done everything I possibly could do. A few months later, ten days before my birthday, I found out I was accepted. God and my supportive family worked out all the details and I started classes this semester, six years (or more) since I first heard the whisper.
It’s only been a few months, and already seminary has been an incredible, humbling experience. Seminary is helping me develop better listening skills- listening to the Spirit and to others. I’ve been discovering treasures that have been right in front of me, but with new background and contextual information I’ve been able to find them. I’ve been working through preconceived thoughts and ideas that I’ve previously accepted as truth, only to find there are other thoughts and ideas that might line up better with God’s word and His ways. I am dwelling in the incredible redemption story of the Bible, soaking up grace to new levels, reveling in the steadfast love and patience of Creator God, and trying to take in as much as I can.
So, if it’s quiet here in this space and on my blog, know I am still here. I’m just taking time to listen and study, feeling so incredibly grateful for the way God speaks and the way He waits. It’s often in the quiet places that He speaks the loudest. It’s often the least confident and least qualified that He calls. The wrestling, the suffering, the questions are often an invitation to trust and follow Him to places and things that are greater and far better than you might ever have imagined.