Confessions of a Modern Mama

Confessions of a Modern Mama

Every mother in this day and age has probably come across a webpage called Scary Mommy.  Besides being a site with various articles, it’s also a place where you can leave comments, or confessions, anonymously about your motherhood experiences.  And because they are completely anonymous, people feel free to be honest without fearing judgment or negative repercussions.  As I read some of them recently, I have to admit I giggled to myself and nodded in agreement.  But then, as I continued to read, I began to feel more than a little disturbed.  Here are just some of those “confessions”:

“Everyone is always impressed that my four-year-old can read.  Honestly, he taught himself because I’m too busy to play with him.  But, I take all the credit.”

“She’s potty trained, but I put her in a pull-up when she wears a snow suit.  I’m that lazy.”

“I get ridiculously excited to do our taxes every year.  It’s the only thing my MBA has proved useful for as a stay at home mom.”

woman having headache with hands on temple. Copy space

Now, I’ll be the first one to say that parenting is HARD.  I can easily relate to the woman who posted that she joined a gym just for the free childcare so she could read magazines and blogs in the locker room, in peace.  Or the one who fantasized about dropping her son off at the lost-children sign in the mall and pretending he wasn’t hers.  I get it.

There is something to be said for being real and not pretending every moment spent with your kids is fabulous.  Because, let’s face it, it’s not.  We are raising tiny neanderthals who think the world revolves around them and training them one exhausting minute at a time to become productive, responsible adults who hopefully also love and serve Jesus.  It’s no easy task.

However, I feel like we are caught in a trend of mommy martyrdom.  As if the world and our children owe us something for bearing and taking care of them.  We act like they get in the way of us pursuing our dreams, having “me time”, or romantic encounters with our husbands.  We start treating them with contempt.  I hear it from the mouths of mothers every day in stores, parks, moms’ groups and yes, even from my own.  That annoyed, irritated tone which conveys to a child that they are an interruption and your (fill in the blank) is more important than they are.  I’m not saying we should indulge our kids by giving into every request, or that play time by themselves isn’t important.  They should learn how to delay gratification.  But our attitude seriously needs to change.  This irritation is the under current running through all of the confessions I quoted above and countless others on

Long after they’ve lost interest in all those childhood toys and had fun on all those great family trips, they will remember our attitudes towards them.  Did we treat him like a nuisance, or like the blessing God gave to us?  Did we act annoyed when she made messes or mistakes, or extend grace to her?  Were they burdened with the expectations we placed on them and our despondency over our supposed mundane role as mothers, or were they delighted in and celebrated for being exactly who God created them to be?

Now I’ll make a confession: as a mother, I don’t really consider it all joy to serve my kids.  I’m not particularly fond of the “used up” part of servanthood that mothering often requires of me.  Jesus said, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me… in as much as you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36 & 40)  Do I serve my “hungry, thirsty, sick” children as I would serve the Lord?  Am I dying to self out of love for Him, or because “this is just what I have to do”?

Mothering is an opportunity for us to participate in the miracle of shaping small human beings with no regard for personal space, no awareness of social cues, and hearts bent on evil into reasoning, rational, emotionally and spiritually healthy men and women.  It is our calling to gently lead our children’s hearts toward Jesus in all of the seemingly monotonous, irritating “distractions” throughout the day.  He refines us too, in the process.  When we confess those longings, frustrations, and regrets to Him and lay them down at His feet, we can parent with grace and humility (read: not perfection).  We may even enjoy the children we have been entrusted to raise, instead of simply enduring the daily drudgery of cleaning up messes, changing diapers, and breaking up fights!

Being Parented

Being Parented

A few weeks ago, our daughter came into our room during the middle of the night saying she was afraid of the thunderstorm going on.  My husband volunteered to stay with her so she wouldn’t be scared, and she ended up falling back asleep almost right away.  With the scary storm still raging, she was no longer afraid because her daddy was right there beside her.

Often times, God will use our children to teach us how He desires to interact with and provide for us.  He gave me a very clear picture that morning: He is my Heavenly Father who comforts and protects me while the storms of life rage around me.  I’ve believed this with my mind, but not necessarily with my heart.  In the midst of all my daily parenting responsibilities, I tend to forget the simple truth that God parents me.

During one of our recent Bible lessons, I asked my son and daughter to list several ways that God is like a father to us, using some of the characteristics and duties of their father as an example.  Fortunately my husband is a great dad who’s crazy about his kids, but if I had used my own father to try to parallel God’s fatherly ways, the list would have looked quite different.  It would have read “distant”, “unstable”, and “indifferent”, instead of “loving”, “protective”, and “involved”.  They say that the way you view your earthly father, good or bad, is the way you will also view your Heavenly Father.  Only recently have I been able to really see and know God as father.  The concept was so foreign, I didn’t believe stories such as the Prodigal Son could ever personally apply to me.

Now, I’m not afraid of thunder and lightning (though that particular storm was a doozy).  As an adult woman, I am fearful of things like being alone, and being seen as incapable.  I’m also afraid of change.  When I’m called to step outside my comfort zone, I go into full flight or fight mode and “flight” wins every time.  Our first Sunday here in Oklahoma, I was pretty much a nervous wreck, and it wasn’t because we were going to be called up on stage to be introduced to the congregation.  Gregg left early to set up for the service, and I was left to get myself and two small kids dressed, fed, and out the door by 9:00 am.

This was a place I felt absolutely called to as a family, and had looked forward to moving to for weeks.  But that morning, I suddenly understood what “homesick” really means.  I was 1,400 miles away from everything familiar, and I wanted to drive the minivan in the opposite direction of the church, toward East, where they say “cawfee” and have the best pizza and bagels.  The enemy knew I really felt all alone, and attacked.  I was bombarded with thoughts like, “you’ll never fit in here”, and “you won’t make any close friends”.  Insecurities were coming out of the wood work!

Our first week in our new home also brought a severe tornado warning, complete with thunderstorms of biblical proportion.  Hearing tornado sirens for the first time in my life brought me to a new level of terrified I’ve never experienced.  My mind kept flashing to that scene in The Wizard Of Oz where Dorothy tries in vain to get inside the storm cellar, and the house is picked up and carried away.  I think it might have rained 25 out of 31 days during the month of May, too.

Eventually, those feelings of homesickness faded away as I got to know people and my way around our new community (and I learned to distinguish between weather alerts that warranted “total freak out”, and those that did not).  In the meantime, however, I had to trust my Father that He would lead me through the storm of anxiety I was facing.  I had to lean into Him from the howling wind, and allow Him to be my source of protection.  Sometimes it literally felt like a tidal wave crashing down on top of me.  The truth is, He was right there with me in that deep water, just like my hubby with our daughter during the thunderstorm.  And He is right there with me while I am tempted to be afraid of failing at motherhood, or homeschooling, or any number of things.

He loves me with the same intensity that any good father would love his children.  It’s not based on performance.  And because He loves me, I am also lovely.  1 John 4:18 says, “perfect love casts out fear”.  When we know deep down in our souls that the Maker of Heaven & Earth loves us – not the “I love chocolate” kind of love, but that never ending, unconditional, all consuming love we have for our own kids, we are much less likely to be afraid of the giants in front of us.  We are much less likely to believe the convincing lies of the enemy.  No matter the example of my earthly father, or the storms of life, I can rest in the glorious knowledge that my God is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), who provides shelter and all that I need every minute of every day.

father love

School Room Tour

School Room Tour

I don’t plan to turn this into a homeschooling blog, but I will from time to time share pictures or things we are learning during our home education journey.  I’ll share advice sometimes too.  Not because I’m so knowledgeable, but because I’ve read what others have done and implemented it, or found things that worked through trial and error myself.

Some of you have been asking to see our daily schedule and photos of our school room, so here they are!  This room is really supposed to be the formal dining room, but we are not “formal” people and have never actually dined in any room but the kitchen in our home.  The burgundy paint color on the walls was already there when we moved in, again, for the intended purpose of a formal living space.  I don’t really like it, but we’re going with it for now.  🙂


As you can see, we’re not using anything fancy or expensive to do schooling.  I would like to have a wood table and chairs one day, only because they are bigger and more sturdy, but this set-up gets the job done.


Our “shelving units”, inexpensively acquired from Walmart and Target.  The one on the left holds small toys in the first drawer, puzzles & games in the second, and art supplies in the third.  The bin on top contains play-doh, coloring books, stickers, and construction paper.  The unit on the right has all of our school books and science kits, along with some extra supplies.  The basket holds flashcards, activity books, notebooks, and dry erase boards.  The magazine holder next to it has all of the kids’ workbooks so they can easily grab what they need.  All of the wall posters are from the dollar store (two for $1).  The map came with Sonlight’s curriculum.  The kids love circling countries we are learning about with wet erase markers!


I turned this corner facing the front of the house into a reading nook.  We already had the blue and pink chairs (they were Christmas gifts from Grandma one year), and the colored mats.  Each of the kids’ baskets are filled with books for their level and ability.

20150901_182938The doors that face the front hallway.  With them closed, it gives everything somewhat of a fancy feel, but we actually prefer to keep them open so we don’t feel as boxed in.


Our pocket calendar and music area.  During our morning worship, the kids love to choose an instrument and make a joyful noise!


Okay, so this isn’t really in the school room.  I am using the built-in kitchen desk right outside of it as a place to keep my instructor’s guides, supplies, and laptop.  It has been very helpful to have my own space to plan, review lessons, and store everything I need all in one spot.

As for our schedule, it goes something like this: after breakfast we have worship and Bible reading, then Language Arts followed by a snack and some play time.  After our short break, we continue with Science, Math, and History/Geography.  We leave the school room as it is and go have lunch.  Reading comes next, when we all pile onto the couch in the living room and Colton reads from his readers.  I read any assigned chapter books out loud (right now we’re reading Charlotte’s Web, one of my childhood favorites!), as well as a picture book or two that the kids have borrowed from the library.  The total amount of time it takes us for actual school work is about 3 1/2 hours each day.  Of course laundry and cleaning still needs to get done, so I have the kids help me out with some chores after we read.  They are also responsible for making their beds and emptying the dishwasher before breakfast.

Though it’s typed up and displayed on the fridge, our schedule is not set in stone; it’s really more of a guide.  I know that it can become an idol for me if I’m not careful, and I don’t want to sacrifice my relationship with my kids for going crazy trying to stick to a thirty minute time slot.  It helps keep me on track, though, and gives our day some structure and routine.

I hope you enjoyed the whirlwind tour, and got a sense for what our day is like!

Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

I haven’t written as much as I’d like lately, since the last two weeks were busy spent planning my seven-year-old’s birthday party and preparing for our upcoming school year.  Trying to do both of these things simultaneously is pretty much a guaranteed ticket to Crazytown.  We started “back to school” on Monday, and it was honestly a little rough.  We are not used to getting up early in the morning, because our summer was pretty lazy.  There are equal parts of me that feel good and bad being awake before 7:00 am.

I had finalized our daily schedule the night before and stuck it on the fridge.  Even with the best of intentions, what you put on paper doesn’t always translate neatly into real life.  Mainly because, well, I am trying to teach a first grader and a preschooler while also balancing housework and cooking meals.  There will be those moments when my seven-year-old wants to go off on a very looong tangent discussing some topic that may not even be remotely relevant to what we were just talking about, and my three-year-old has a meltdown because I ask her to do page 2 in her workbook instead of page 3.  And then the two of them bicker over something, even though I have taken great pains to make sure that they each had an equal amount of glue sticks, pencils, scissors, etc. in their caddies.

So by God’s grace and lots of caffeine, we made it through this first week.  This year, I’m trying hard not to take myself so seriously and go with the flow.  I struggled these last few days to find a groove, and figure out the best way to organize things, but the kids (especially Colton) are excited about learning.  And, I have to say that I love having a school room this year.  It’s so much easier to transition from one subject to another with everything all in one place.  We don’t have to clear books and science experiments off the kitchen table to eat lunch.  My husband convinced me to move most of the kids’ toys into their rooms, so the room is a lot less cluttered and functional now!  Anyway, here are some pictures from our first week:


Coloring pictures of rain forest critters and creating a jungle scene in a sticker book, since we are learning all about animals during our first quarter this year in Science.

20150824_121349      Rory practicing her counting.
20150826_101402Colton concentrating hard on his spelling.

20150826_102522Rory coloring in Handwriting Without Tears My First School Book. This rug is also where they like to gather for Bible reading, complete with pillows from their beds!
20150827_124913   Enjoying a new book in our “reading nook”.

20150828_135415Finishing the week with a field trip to the zoo!  Daddy came with us, because he has off on Fridays.  🙂

All in all, despite some setbacks, I’d say our first week of the year was a success.  I am trusting God for each new day, because I know I don’t have enough strength or ability on my own to do this!

Beautifully In Over My Head

Beautifully In Over My Head

The never ending sacred dance of comforting, wiping, disciplining, loving.  Trying to control your temper when you are met with an unexpected mess of toys all over the living room, or when your oldest gives you attitude over a simple request.  Struggling to keep up with the demands of household chores and small human beings.  Being molded and shaped into the person God wants you to become, even while you are molding and shaping their young minds and hearts…

One exhausting minute at a time.

This is mothering.  This is my calling, and my great opportunity to depend on God in continual prayer. The beauty of not knowing what you are doing and knowing you are not qualified for a task is the desperation to stay connected to God who does know.  You know the saying: He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.  If I appear as though I am doing anything well, I assure you, I am not doing it in my own strength.

Ultimately I am able to display the fruits of the Spirit (joy, patience, gentleness, kindness) when I abide deeply in Him.  But when I mess up, as I am inevitably bound to do, that is when I can teach my children Romans 3:23- “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  I can remind them (and myself) that each one of us needs a savior.  And then humbly ask for their forgiveness.  My children see my shortcomings every single day.  They see Mommy lose her cool, get stressed and overwhelmed.  They see all the broken, sinful pieces, but if I model the preeminence of God in my life, then my children will see how to live out their faith.  When my kids see a living example of God’s grace each day, as well as being taught doctrine, they will know that Christianity is real.  This moves them beyond just head knowledge of truth but into relationship with the Author of truth.

It amazes me that God entrusts me with the awesome responsibility of raising children and pointing them to Him.  I can’t offer much on my own.  I will never have enough time, energy, patience or love for my kids.  Too often I operate out of self-reliance, seek self-indulgence, and am motivated by selfishness.  Trying harder is not the answer though; surrender is.  The Lord meets me in my weakness when I am surrendered to Him and enables me to do something I could never do on my own.  Ann Voskamp says it wonderfully, “You cry and wonder if you are insane to try to educate these children, to disciple these little hearts, while laundering, cooking, cleaning, managing a household, and still being a wife, a sister, a daughter, a missionary in your community, and a servant of the faith.  And He smiles and says that He walks with you, has grand and glorious purposes, and He understands radical and crazy!”  Jesus meets us out on that deep water, moms.  When we feel like we are drowning in responsibilities, He reaches out and grabs our hand to keep us from sinking.  He will lift our head above the mighty waves- we just have to be willing to show up to do our work for His glory, day after day (after day).


Making The Most Of Your Days

Making The Most Of Your Days

As I lay next to my six-year-old Wednesday night waiting for him to fall asleep (our weekly routine when Gregg is at worship rehearsal), I wished I could have frozen that moment in time.  There was something about the innocence of my son all wrapped up in his sheets and blankets surrounded by stuffed animals.  I even wanted to bottle up the smells.  After a summer day of playing hard, my son doesn’t exactly give off the most pleasant of scents, but it’s nothing that a quick shower can’t fix.  🙂  The long day with all of its frustrations, mistakes (mostly on my part) and tasks was over and in the peaceful stillness of the night, it was just me and my “little” boy.  It seems like just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital, and in one week that baby will turn seven.

My toddler is turning into a preschooler before my eyes.  I know she’ll be a teenager before I know it.  Though I shouldn’t dwell on them getting older, I am not naive that these days are fleeting.  I certainly can’t freeze time, but I can make the most of my time with them.  They are only this young for a relatively short period, and I only have a little while to impress our values and faith upon them.  The Bible warns us to make the most of our time, because the days are evil.  (Ephesians 5:16)  One of the biggest realizations I have had this past year homeschooling is that I am not only educating my children at home by teaching them reading, writing and math.  I am also, and more importantly, informing them how the world works, who created that world, and what their place in it might be.  In other words, I am discipling them.  Luke 6:40 says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher”.

Being with my children day in and day out presents me with multiple chances to share Christ with them and with others as well.  A sibling squabble or a fight between one of my kids and his/her friends can be opportunities to teach my children about grace, forgiveness, and handling conflict in a godly way.  Disrespectful attitudes and rude speech can be used to tell them about how Jesus wants us to treat others.  Through holding everything they learn up to what the Word Of God says, they learn the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.  By understanding that they are created in the image of God, my son and daughter will believe in the sanctity of life and the great love of their heavenly Father not only for them, but for all people.  Moreover, spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, scripture memorization and Christian service can be taught and modeled if I am intentional about it.

The reality is that children are quite impressionable in their formative years, and they are bombarded daily with “hollow and deceptive philosophies” that are diametrically opposed to the Word of God through two main pipelines, secular entertainment and secular education.  In his book “Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes To Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God”, Voddie Baucham states that a child’s worldview – what they think about God, man, knowledge, ethics, and truth – affects all of their decisions and actions throughout their lives.  Their beliefs in these five areas affect how they behave, and they do not realize how or when these views are being formed.  As their parents, we are their first line of defense against ideologies that distort God’s truth.  By availing ourselves to them now, thought it entails sacrifice, we can provide them with a solid biblical foundation which they will need when they encounter ideas that conflict with their faith.

Not surprisingly, Jesus educated His disciples and those around Him in the pattern and method set forth in Deuteronomy 6 and other Old Testament passages.  Jesus taught and instructed as He walked by the way, as He ate, as He drank, as He lived.  He engaged people in discussion and conversation.  He was available to answer questions.  He developed relationships and used every opportunity and every circumstance to point people toward His Father, to challenge them and encourage them to more faithful, godly living.  This is the way that God commands parents to educate their children.  Mothers and fathers should be instructing their children throughout the day, during their daily activities and in all the circumstances of life.

In one 4.5 million dollar sociological study, the results showed that children’s spiritual lives are strongest when their friends, family, sports, religion, and education “somehow” overlap.  Put simply, all areas of a child’s life have to be congruent with his or her faith.  This study was written by a non-Christian, anti-homeschooling sociologist, but he is onto something here!  For the best chance of kids’ faith taking root in their hearts and minds, all “slices of the pie” should hold the same worldview.  If one area espouses a radically different belief system from all the others, the child will end up with conflicting values.  Ultimately, the one he has had the most exposure to during his youth will be the one he defaults to later in life.

My job as a parent, trying to instill Biblical values in my children, is an uphill battle all the way when they are continually fed philosophies that are incompatible with God’s Word. Obviously, I can’t put my kids in a bubble, nor would I want to. If they are never exposed to germs, they will not build up a resistance to them.  Rather, they should get just enough of a dosage that it inoculates them against the secular humanistic ideas of the day.  Examining the worldview that dominates our culture, under our protection and through the filter of the Bible, can give them the ability to counter it with the proper defense.  1 Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”  There is an old adage that says whoever has the child’s heart will be the one discipling them.  As a mom I hold the greatest position of influence over my kids, and make the most of the time, when I diligently train them and shape their character by the application of biblical discipline.


Homeschooling Part 2

Homeschooling Part 2

In my last post, I traced our decision to home school from financial constraints to academic concerns to a cross-country move.  Even though we may have started for these reasons, over time we began to see the enormous benefits of our decision.  Below are some of the biggest advantages, and why we will continue with our homeschooling journey heading into this school year (not necessarily in order of importance):

1.  The ability to customize my child’s education.  Instead of having to keep pace with the rest of his class, Colton was able to really focus on the areas where he needed a little more help and also take off learning a subject in which he excelled or that he was just really interested in.  He could  also learn using the style that suits him best.  Being very hands-on, he naturally absorbed material at home through acting out something we read, manipulating objects and just plain exploring.  Like most six-year-old boys, he is VERY active and energetic.  At home, he can stand instead of sit still to do his math problems, walk around the room while answering questions, and play with cars or Legos while I’m reading to him.

2.  A learning environment with minimal distractions and few time constraints.  Colton has difficulty processing information when there is a lot of noise or activity in the background, and he struggles with two-step directions.  The over-stimulation from the busyness of the classroom and the sharp transitions between play time and seat work made it hard for him to understand what the teacher wanted him to do.  He would sit down and stare at his paper blankly, because he did not process the directions given.  He was still thinking about what he and another kid were talking about five minutes ago or the fun game he had just been playing on the playground.  At home, if he didn’t understand something he could ask me to explain it again in another way, as many times as it took.  Since he didn’t have to rush through assignments because of the class’s schedule, he could take his time to do work and really produce something he would be proud of.  If he wanted to know more about something, we could go down a rabbit trail discussing it, using Google or YouTube to find more information.

3.  Spending quality time with both children.  When we started homeschooling, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to give my daughter the attention she needed while teaching my son.  What I found was that through being focused on providing learning opportunities for one child, I naturally included the other one in the process.  Rory joined in on Science lessons, listened right along to stories and scripture, created works of art, and learned many valuable pre-writing skills.  I was less distracted from “busyness” around the house and going to tot outings which were taking up valuable time I could have been spending with her anyway.

Colton’s love language is quality time, and he got plenty of it this past year!  We had a blast learning about cowboys & Indians, trying to grow our own bean plant (it was a fail, both times), “traveling” to distant countries, making a solar system out of play-doh, discovering heroes of the Bible and using our imaginations to come up with silly stories which he illustrated.  Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games.  There were moments of sheer frustration when Colton struggled to blend sounds together to form words, and I believed he would never learn to read.  There were times I thought I would lose my ever loving mind when he couldn’t figure out how to count sequentially past 20.  BUT, the rewards were great when he finally had those breakthroughs!  And I was still there every step of the way to encourage him and see him succeed.  Before I knew it, he was flying through his phonics readers and wanting to try Dr. Seuss books.  I blinked and he counted to 200 all by himself.  Those are things I will treasure forever.


4.  Countless opportunities to speak God’s truth into my children’s lives and teach them Christian values, belief system and philosophy of life (in other words, worldview). This year, we were able to really dig in deeper with our daily Bible reading and even memorized several verses. During prayers or while listening to worship music throughout the day, Colton often asked questions about what he heard, which then sparked a great discussion. These spontaneous conversations would not have happened if we were rushing around trying to get ready in the morning, or if he was away at school for six hours each day.

We also read a book of different missionaries’ experiences around the world, and were inspired to learn about several nations’ beliefs, culture, and language.  Sometimes Colton colored or drew pictures of the people groups we learned about, and we hung them on the refrigerator as reminders to pray for them.  He began to see that there is a whole other world out there, with children that have very real needs.  Through all of our reading, Colton started to grasp the heart of the Gospel and how to live it out in practical ways.  He is also beginning to understand the flow of the Bible and how it all fits together, which has helped give him a sure foundation for his faith, even at a young age.

So now I am excited to share our curriculum choices for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year! Colton will be using Sonlight’s Core B program with 1st grade Language Arts and Science.  Core B includes Bible, History/Geography and Read-Alouds.  Sonlight Cores are not necessarily grade or age specific, but chosen based on skill level and maturity of the child.  He’ll also be using Horizons for Math at the first grade level.  We used Sonlight last year and love its emphasis on Christ-centered education and high quality literature. I also appreciate their ready-made lesson plans and discussion questions, while having the flexibility to tailor lessons to Colton’s needs and interests.

Rory wanted her own “school work” last year, so I ended up printing off tons of alphabet, color and shape worksheets from free websites that she did when she wanted. She also got lots of practice counting, tracing lines, and cutting with scissors.  This year preschool will be pretty basic, focusing on letter/number recognition and formation, letter sounds, counting to 10, and calendar.  I’ve chosen Handwriting Without Tears Readiness and Writing as our main curriculum, and we’ll do lots of crafts, games and reading along with it!

The other thing I am excited about is turning the playroom into a school room.  It will still house most of the kids’ toys, on one side, while the other side will have a bookshelf for all their school books, a tiered drawer system for art supplies, puzzles & games, their easel and a small table.  The corner that faces the front of the house will be a reading nook.  I hope to post pictures of the transformation soon!

Changing Direction

Changing Direction

This year has been one of many changes for us.  In April, we moved 1400 miles away to Oklahoma from New Jersey.  We also started homeschooling our oldest child (more about that later).  So, I figured why not change my blog as well?  I have blogged over on Blogspot for the past 10 years, but decided it was time for a fresh, updated look so I switched to WordPress.

Since I have stuck to one website for so long, you could say that old habits die hard with me.  I like familiar.  I like comfortable.  When I put down roots, I am firmly planted in that ground and don’t leave very willingly.  That brings me back around to homeschooling.  When Colton was a toddler, I would take him to the playground near the elementary school behind our house.  I dreamed of the day he would be old enough to go to that school.  Not because I wanted a break from him, but because I loved school growing up.  Aside from the occasional bully or bad teacher, it was a wonderful experience.  I hoped it would be the same for my son.

Instead of thinking homeschoolers were weird and unsocialized, I was always kind of in awe of them.  I thought they must be really super organized and super patient.  Now I know that they are just ordinary moms who allow an extraordinary God to work through them to do incredible things.  I had seen and read about the benefits of homeschooling, and followed the blogs of two prominent homeschoolers.  They made it look so cool and exciting, but I believed I could never do it myself.  I was still very much committed to our particular education plan.  About halfway through Colton’s first year of preschool, we did switch gears and decided against the public school in our backyard in favor of a private Christian one 25 minutes away.  We were slightly worried about the cost, but trusted that God would provide the finances somehow.  In fact, I began telling people that if we ever became unable to afford private education, we would home school.  By this time, public education was simply not an option for several reasons, including Common Core.

In the back of my mind, I hoped that day was somewhere way off in the distance, but it ended up arriving much sooner than expected.  Kindergarten tuition proved to be a great strain on our budget.  We were also coming to realize that, despite an amazing school with the best teachers, great kids and small class sizes, Colton still struggled academically.  He was one of the oldest kids in his class, too, which we thought would give him an advantage (we held him back from kindergarten for one year because of his August birthday).  I spoke with his teachers, working with them to find solutions, and did my best to implement all the strategies at home that they suggested.  In spite of our joint efforts, during one parent/teacher conference I heard the words every parent dreads: “learning disability”.  He did very well processing and retaining information when we worked one on one at home, though, so I began to think that maybe the only difference was the learning environment.

The two biggest factors were now already in play, and the third was about to come.  My husband and I began to feel that God was calling him back into ministry.  We knew that could potentially lead to a long distance move, and we would have to pull Colton out of school anyway.  So we took the plunge.  I researched curricula and ordered materials.  We had the support of our family and many friends, along with a great home school group at our church, but honestly my heart just wasn’t in it.  I felt as if this was a door slamming shut on a future I had all planned out.  I was nervous that I was going to mess my kid up, and scared that I wouldn’t be able to give my daughter the attention that she needed at the same time.  I worried how I would possibly educate a six-year-old, entertain a three-year-old, AND do the laundry, prepare meals, and keep the house clean.  I began to think that cloning myself may not be a bad idea.

With all these doubts and anxieties, I forged ahead anyway.  And discovered it wasn’t so bad after all.  Sure, there were rough days.  Days when I thought I was crazy for trying this and had made a terrible mistake.  Days when the laundry and the housecleaning went unattended.  But… there were also days when I witnessed how proud and excited my son became when he finally “got” something he had been working so hard on.  There were days when I snuggled next to him on the couch as we read together, and days when we talked about his faith as we explored stories from the Bible.  The many, many days that he and his sister played together, acting out something we had read in a book or conducting spontaneous science experiments.  There was the day that he learned how to count to 100, and read Green Eggs and Ham all by himself.  I wouldn’t trade any of them for one day of him being away at school.

Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  For years I misunderstood what this verse is really saying.  I believed that God would give me what I wanted- a happy marriage, financial security, a good life- if I stayed in His Word and walked with Him.  Now I see it the other way around; when I pursue a deeper relationship with God, and learn more about His heart, my desires become what He desires for my life.  He has given me a desire and a passion for homeschooling that simply was not there before.  I also have a peace about it, knowing that I am fulfilling a calling.  In the next post, I’ll share more about the advantages of our decision to home school and what we plan to do for 1st grade and Pre-K.  🙂


From The Inside Out

From The Inside Out

Summer.  It’s the best of times.  It’s the worst of times.  Great for unstructured, free play, staying up late on weeknights, hours spent outside in the sun.  Not so good for unstructured, free play, staying up late on weeknights, hours spent outside in the sun…  You get the idea.  Too much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing.  This is something I have realized after about a month of summer vacation.  Something else that has come to fruition around this time are bad attitudes.  I have a lot in my arsenal to keep boredom at bay- paints, puzzles, books, tablet games, water toys and even workbooks- but even with all these, the kids inevitably become bored sometimes.  That’s when the ‘tude starts and disrespect creeps in.  It’s not just from my soon-to-be seven year old, either.  My sweet toddler can be a “threenager” as well.

I know I can’t blame it all on boredom though.  Unfortunately, it will always be there, lurking in the background, no matter what season it is: misbehavior.  And as a mom, it is my job to confront this problem head on.  I’ll be honest, my children’s disobedience is awfully inconvenient.  I would much rather slap a band-aid on the problem and continue on my merry way than take the time to get to the root of it.

All too often, I fall into the trap of being defensive instead of offensive when one of my kids misbehaves.  I sacrifice the long-term goal of their behavior improving for good for that short-term gain of momentary peace.  If I’m constantly reacting to my child’s disrespect with disapproval, and correcting the problems when they arise, it’s not solving the heart issue at hand.  I really shouldn’t react to their bad behavior as if I’m surprised by it, either.  I mean, why am I shocked at all that unregenerate children display disobedience?  And why do I always get so offended by it, thinking that I’m a failure as a mother when they talk back or mistreat a sibling?

The Bible says there is none righteous, no not one.  Even my soft faced, little hooligans  angels.  We all have a bent towards going our own way; in other words, towards sin.  Reward systems, time outs, natural consequences, and of course avoiding Red Dye #40 all have their merits as good behavior modification, perhaps outwardly, but only the Spirit of God can change their hearts on the inside. I want my kids to obey not just because they’ll avoid something unpleasant, but because they love and respect me.

What brings us to a place where we lay down our desires and surrender our wills?  This only comes from a day-to-day, growing and active relationship with the Lord.  So it is with our children.  As Christian parents, we need to always point them back to Jesus.  That‘s where they find their ultimate worth and acceptance. He’s the One who heals our deepest needs.  My main responsibility as a mother should be to lead them to Christ, through my words and actions.

One of the ways I can do that practically is to train my kids to hide God’s word in their hearts.  If, as a follower of Christ, I believe that His word is my standard for living why don’t I use it to discipline my children?  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  I’m not just talking about reading them Bible stories.  I mean we should help them memorize verses that will be applicable to their real life situations, like Matthew 7:12, Colossians 3:20, Ephesians 4:29 and Proverbs 20:22.  Verses such as these speak truth to our children and equip them for godly living.

Now surely if I’m quoting scripture to them all day long without actually living it out myself, they won’t be very motivated to change.  More times than I can count, if my child is struggling with anger or frustration, I’ve modeled it before them in some way.  I need to evaluate myself before the Lord and ask Him to renew my thoughts, words and actions.  Am I in God’s Word daily?  Am I walking in the Spirit?  I’ve found that when I have a heart change, it leads to positive results in my children’s behavior as well.

Finally, while my children are still growing developmentally and spiritually, I also need to be patient with them.  They need to know I love them deeply, even in spite of their sin.  If there are rules without a relationship, it will produce rebellion.  After all, how much does Jesus love us in spite of our sins!  While He loves, He also always prods us to repent by showing us a better way.  He doesn’t continually punish or nag.  His heart for us leads us to want to obey.  When we know in our core that we are seen and known by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we are transformed.

It is comforting to know that while you and I are called to “train up a child in the way he should go”, God is ultimately responsible for his (or her) heart.  He is the one who draws them deeper and walks beside them on the path He has laid out for them.  However, in the process of raising and disciplining these little ones, we are refined at the same time they are.  As we seek God for answers in how to best reach and correct our children, we become more and more dependent on, and also obedient towards Him.  That’s the amazing and humbling thing about parenting!