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A Long Goodbye

“Do you have everything packed yet?”

“When do you all move, exactly?”

These two questions are ones I have heard over and over recently, and I never know quite how to answer them. You see, we are in the midst of a move that has been a long time coming, and we still do not know just when we will all actually be in a new place.

One day my husband and I had a conversation in which he told me that he sensed the Lord telling him it was time to prepare for change. He saw signs of things in his full-time job that did not bode well, and he started scanning job listings in his field and updating his resume. We began decluttering the house, fixing little things here and there, and even packing a few boxes of books and decor that were not needed for a while. And we waited. We knew the Lord had told us to get ready to move, but we had no idea where or when.

That was over 18 months ago.

We had already been in a period of transition already for 1 1/2 years before that due to leaving our previous church where my husband had been the music pastor for 6 years. We visited various churches in the area for a while, then stayed in a couple others for short amounts of time to do interim music ministry and rest. Finally, he started a part-time music position in a struggling church south of where we live, and we tried to settle in there, all the while knowing what God was telling us. You won’t be here long, child. 

But how long is not long on God’s time table, anyway? Usually, it is a bit longer than we would like, isn’t it?

So we kept cleaning things and fixing things and packing things and tossing things we didn’t need. Paul kept applying for jobs and sending out resumes and working overtime. Nothing changed, but we trusted that when the time was right, God would move us right from one job to the other. But that was not quite the way everything worked out. Instead, 6 months ago, just a few days before Christmas, my husband came home without a full time job. Things had come to head at his workplace, and he decided it was time to resign. Without another job on the horizon, the weeks and months after that were a little stressful and sometimes discouraging. Money was tight, but, thankfully, we had savings and his income from the church. He was also blessed to get a part time job at the local Walmart. The hardest part was knowing that God had told us to prepare for something else,  and not knowing what or when that something else would ever happen.

But, as often happens, God provided in a way that we did not expect, and now we know, at least, the area to which we will move and what my husband will be doing! But there are still unknowns, like how long it will take to sell our house here, and whether or not we will get the rental we want when we do! But we are trusting God to take us through these uncertainties just as He has over the last 3 years!

So, are we packed? Well, yes, as much as we can be until we have a moving date!

And when will we move? Only the Lord knows that! But hopefully it will be soon, and we will be able to finish saying goodbye to Southern Illinois and start saying Hello to Middle Tennessee!

We Are Family: Child Chore Training, Pt. 1

Before my husband and I had children, I worked in a private fine arts preschool. The school used several different methods from a variety of early childhood education philosophies, one of which was the Montessori method. The children were taught from the day they started at our preschool how to take care of several self-care and classroom needs, like tidying up after their own messes and helping with classroom chores. Even though the children did not always do a very good job of sweeping up crumbs or wiping up spills, they were learning and being trained in these important habits. They knew that at school, at least, everything has a place, and it was everyone’s job to help keep our school looking neat and tidy.

Years later when we had a child of our own, it became important to me and my husband to train him to learn to help do the same here at home. We are both naturally pretty organized people and do not like clutter. From the time my son was old enough to put his own toys away, we began teaching him to help clean up his playthings at the end of the day before getting ready for bed. As he grew older, we added more responsibilities to his daily self-care and family job routine.

Last year, on his 6th birthday, we started paying our son weekly for helping with things around the house. This was in part because we felt it was time for him to start learning first hand about managing money, and partly as an incentive to be more a more helpful contributor to the family. I will admit we have not been as consistent or as proactive in teaching new skills as a lot of families may be. But I am not a Type A mom, and this is what works for our family right now. A lot of moms say they start teaching new chores over the summer when they don’t have a busy school schedule, and if we were not getting ready to move, we would probably do that now, too. But I am not starting any new routines until we get settled into a new house!

We have done the same with our 2 year old daughter, teaching her to do as many things for herself as she can. Unlike her big brother, however, she is highly motivated and independent, so she actually wants to do more than she is able to at this point! I guess that is a good problem to have, though, most of the time!

I have a few specific examples of what we do around here for kids’ chores, but I will share those in another post. I will also share how we do payment and divide up my son’s earnings each week. I hope you will come back for the next post in the series soon!

So, talk to to me about chore training in your house. Do your kids help with housework? If so, what are their responsibilites? If not, do you wish they did?

Homeschool Basics Series, Pt. 1: Why We Homeschool

Welcome to Part 1 of the Homeschool Basics Series! In this first post I will discuss why we chose to homeschool our children. I hope you will join in the discussion!

According to an article published at CNSnews.com on May 19, 2015, the number of homeschooled children in the United States had risen nearly 62% between 2003-2012. No doubt about it, that is a HUGE increase in parents choosing to educate their children at home! As the popularity of homeschooling rises, so do the varied reasons that parents cite for choosing home education over public or private school settings. Kyle Greenwalt discusses this change in his 2016 article for TheConversation.com, saying that although the initial catalyst homeschool movement of the 1980s was primarily religion-based, research on the recent trends shows that is no longer the case. The current homeschooling community is actually about as diverse as the nation’s population itself.

Since every family has its own unique reasons for homeschooling, we really can’t make assumptions or generalizations about the reasons that friends and acquaintances are keeping their children home. What led your family to make this decision may be entirely different than the catalyst for mine. So why do WE homeschool?

I think that the above quote from The Liberal Arts Tradition sums up our reason for home educating better than anything I could say.

Education is more than the transference of knowledge; it is the transmission of values, culture, and the proper ordering of loves.

As a parent, I feel that it is my responsibility to be the primary influence over my children’s education, and not just in the academic arena. Academics were certainly a big reason we chose to homeschool, especially since my husband works in higher ed himself! But an even stronger driving force in our decision to homeschool was the desire to foster a different culture in our home than what is prevalent in America today. We truly are interested in passing on our values and loves to our children, and the best way for us to do that at this time is to keep them home for their schooling. Even though the idea of being solely responsible for educating my children was very intimidating at first (and still is when I think about later years), I came to recognize that this was actually God’s calling for me as a mother, to disciple my children.

There are certainly a lot of perks to homeschooling. I don’t have to rush my children out the door every morning and then bring them home late in the afternoon to do homework all evening. I can create an individualized education plan for each of my children based on their own needs and interests. I can more adequately and easily provide for our family’s dietary needs and restrictions without the hassle of sending special food and notes to school each day. My kids have time and space to be kids and pursue their individual interests. We can choose curricula that supports our beliefs and ideals as a family. I can easily adjust our schedule to work around vacations, appointments, illness or whatever else comes up. But all these advantages are not the main reason we chose homeschooling.

Perhaps the best way to sum up our main motivation for home education is the command God gave to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-7:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

For me, homeschool is about discipling my children. It is about having the time together to really know my kids and how they tick so that I can better prepare the soil of their hearts to receive the seed of the Gospel. It is about passing on our family values and traditions that make up our unique family culture. And on hard days when it seems like we just need to get through the next handwriting worksheet or math lesson without a meltdown, I need to remind myself of these things. It is not just about the “three R’s”. It is about the Relationships.

How about you? Have you considered educating your children at home? If you do homeschool, what was the driving force behind your decision? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Read Part 2 of this series, How We Homeschool, here. Read More

When you feel like a failure

It has been “one of those days.” I think everybody knows that being a parent is not all sunshine and roses. We all have difficult days when it seems that our best efforts to discipline in love, to stay calm when our kids are tantruming on the floor, simply are not enough. We snap back and punish harshly. We throw a big fat tantrum ourselves. Our children fail on a daily basis, and so do we. And often we get to the end of the day and wonder, does that mean that we are failures, too?

Maybe I am the only one who feels this way, but I doubt it. Because I am responsible for setting the tone in my home, I blame myself for a lot of the kids’ mistakes. After all, they do learn from what they see me doing. If I don’t always respond to them in love, I cannot really expect them to do so very much of the time, can I?

Yet, I also know that Satan loves to heap guilt and shame on my hurting mama heart, causing me to feel defeated and discouraged. His accusing words that I am a failure, that I will never change, that I am ruining my kids, all pile up with so much weight that I can easily feel as if I might as well throw in the towel and give up before I’ve even begun. My tendency to perfectionism does not help. If I cannot do something without messing up, I am prone not to even attempt it at all. What is the point if I know I am just going to fail?

But in motherhood there is no giving up, no choice but to attempt to do better tomorrow than I did today. So what is a beat-down and discouraged mom to do? That is the question I am asking myself tonight. And here are some of the answers that the Holy Spirit is bringing to my weary heart and mind.

1. PRAY

Seems obvious enough, at least if you are a person of faith, right? But other than a quick, “God, help!” right before freaking out over a child disobeying for the 500th time that day, do we really take the time to stop and pray over the matter? I, for one, know that I have not spent enough time truly praying for wisdom and discernment as to how to deal with specific behaviors; nor have I prayed enough over my children, that they would have tender hearts open to my guidance and teaching and to the Holy Spirit’s own work in their lives. Busted! Yeah, I definitely need to pray more.

2. Find my identity in Christ.

Satan’s lies are just that: LIES! In order to combat the negative, defeating thoughts he has planted in my mind and heart, I must fill myself up with TRUTH from Scripture about who I am in Christ. Jesus says I am victorious. He says I am an overcomer. He says I am more than a conqueror. He tells me I am His. He will be faithful to complete the good work He has started in me. When I was in counselling for post-partum depression after my firstborn, my counsellor gave me a list of Scripture references for just this purpose. It had all the statements made in the Bible about the believer’s identity in Christ. I guess it is time for me to dig that out and start doing some intentional Bible memory in this area.

3. Seek godly counsel.

I have a stack of parenting books on the end table beside me. They all deal with topics related to grace-filled discipline and reaching the heart of my children instead of just correcting the outer behavior. I need these words of wisdom from parents who have walked this road before me. I only wish I would have started reading them long ago before some very bad habits got so ingrained in my parenting. But it is not too late to start the change.

I also am thinking about asking some older homeschooling moms for resources and book ideas for some specific attitude and behavior problems we have been having with my oldest. I think we need to really focus in on some character traits that are weak (in both me and him!), even if that means taking a break from our regularly scheduled school books to do so. And since many moms have been through these stages before me, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. I just need to seek out that good advice and take it!

4. Breathe. Relax. Slow down.

The good news is that my children are young yet. They are still moldable and not set in their ways. A lot of the problems we are having are just ages and stages issues. We will get through this. And tomorrow is a clean slate. Sure, we have been through some rough patches lately, but that does not mean we have to let that define our family culture. We are in the midst of a move, a financially tight period, and a lot of change and upheaval is yet to come. It is ok if some things slide for a little while, if the school work gets a little behind or if we eat a little less healthy for a short time or if the kids have a bit more screen time than normal because I need to pack and clean. We can relax and breathe and have a little fun instead of always trying to push through and be perfect in the midst of the stressful time. Just take it one day at a time, I tell myself. Breathe. Smile. Look around and count your blessings. Tomorrow is a new day.

I am not a failure. And neither are you, weary mom. Maybe you had a bad day. It’s ok. Give yourself grace. His mercies are new. Go get some sleep. Pray for yourself and your kids. Find your value in Jesus love. Listen to the voices of truth, not lies. And breathe. We can do this! I’m praying for you. Will you pray for me, too? ❤️

The Reading Report, Vol. 1

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through my links, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps support my blogging efforts, so thanks in advance!

Welcome to the first installment of “The Reading Report”! My hope for this series to keep not only a record of the books I am currently reading and have finished, but also to keep an ongoing conversation with you about your reading life! In Volume 1, I will only be sharing a list of what I have read over the past year, just to give us a jumping off point. It is pretty long, but I wanted to get these recorded someplace besides my old planner. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Books Finished. . .

I started keeping a running tally of books I finished in September 2016, so I am going to start my “Reading Year” there. At first I included on this list chapter books I had read aloud to my 6 year old son, but I have not been doing that lately since they are all on his school reading list. So I will not include them in this post, either. Goodness knows my list is long enough already!

September 2016:

October 2016:

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

For some reason I have no record of books I finished this month. I think I had started my slower reading at that point, and it was getting a little more difficult to get through as much. We also started our first year with AmblesideOnline, so I had a little more on my plate school-wise.

February 2017

  • Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers (read along with the CiRCE Close Reads podcast discussion)
  • The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (I listened to this on audio via Librivox and then read each act afterword. This was another book discussion in which I participated on the AO Forum.)

March 2017

April 2017

And that is where my list of books finished ends. In May we had a lot going on in our family. Plus, the weather was pretty much perfect for spending time playing with the kids outside, so there was less time for just sitting around reading. I also started adding some more longer term reading to my plate. But completing 25 books in about 9 months isn’t too shabby for a slow reader! I have not set specific goals for how many books I would like to read in a year, although I know a lot of people do. I am more interested in quality over quantity, at least at this point. How about you? Do you set goals for your reading? Do you track what you have read/are reading in some way? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Be sure to come back for Volume 2 of The Reading Report in which I will be talking about my actual current booklist! Until, then, go get lost in a story!