9.03.2015

Dear Mom Whose First Day Wasn't Picture-Perfect

Dear Mom whose first day of school wasn’t picture-perfect
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Yes, I know it hurts as you scroll through facebook and see picture after picture of smiling children, matching outfits, and hair just so. The chalkboard they’re holding proudly proclaims their grade level…
Yet, your kids somehow don’t look like that. No one wanted to get dressed, let alone wear a new outfit or pretty hairstyle. And grade level? You are wondering where your struggling learner is even at these days.
You try to get the kids in order, so you can take the obligatory picture. After all…everyone is doing– it’s tradition.
They bicker as you try to get them in a cute pose. They whine. They aren’t digging the picture…and neither are you.
Mom, I’ve been there. I know.

Join me over at Bible Based Homeschooling today to read the rest....

8.28.2015

Why I Keep A Clutter-Free Home




Recently a friend was over and said my house always seemed so clean. I laughed and replied, "That's because I didn't bring  anything with us from our old house!"

Sort of joking, but really sort of true.
Last year when we moved into this home, we packed all we could into a 26 ft Uhaul (with the exception of outside furniture, tools, etc. that went separately) and that was it. If it didn't fit in the Uhaul, it didn't come with us.

Part of my desire to simplify has always been to have less stuff to manage and more time for things that matter.

Over the years, I saw that I was a manager of piles. I was a manager of stuff. I was always looking for a more efficient way to manage kids toys, kitchen counters, homeschool supplies, gadgets, and more. Yet the simplest solution of all has really been, just have LESS stuff.

Really. When we moved into our home, it was all new and empty. You could literally feel the weight and burden of stuff lifted. And I have every intention of keeping it that way. Our kids don't have many traditional toys, except for Legos and such...but they have a few acres of property, woods, a creek, a barn, and all the toys  that God's Creation provides. And yes, they still have their electronics. That is a work in progress, admittedly. ;)

I like to keep my kitchen counters free of stuff. Thankfully, I have space to hide that toaster, blender, etc, when not in use and it helps things feel less cluttered.

I am also adamant to keep things off the table when not in use. Now, for anyone who knows me...I am NOT  a neat freak and I like to let my kids "live in" the house and not tip toe around a museum. I am NOT about things "looking" perfect. I am all about making a mess in the name of fun! ;)  In fact, when we have friends over our house, you won't see me cleaning up after kids or doing dishes...I want to enjoy my time with them and I will save the cleaning up until it's all over!

But I do enjoy a level of freedom that comes from just having less stuff on a daily basis.  I also work to respect our home and teach my children the same. God has provided a blessing to us, and we are to be good stewards of that blessing. We are to respect it, by keeping it clean and part of that, for me, is keeping it clutter-free.

There truly is more time to just enjoy each other and enjoy friends, and build relationships.













What I have enjoyed filling my home with the most since we moved is people. I have filled it to the brim with people as often as I can. We love to invite friends over, have prayer groups, Bible studies, and just plain fun with friends. Filling up each room with fellowship and laughter makes my heart full and makes me feel like there is purpose in our home.




I think about our society and we have become quite the collectors. In fact, we have so much we need to rent storage facilities to hold all of our stuff. It boggles my mind. How is that possible?

We spend hours and hours to organize stuff, yet we are never really content. Why is that? It is a question I think about often. And it always leads me to Matthew 6:

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:19-21English Standard Version (ESV)


Does it meant that we have a picture perfect life or that less stuff means we are always joyful? No. We still have our share of squabbles and things to deal with.  And if I could just get my office and homeschool books under control! Yes, I even posted some pictures to Instagram about this lately..hey, I am all about keeping it real ;)

But  I must say, that the tension lessened for sure when our home became less cluttered. My stress levels have definitely decreased, and there is something peaceful about orderliness.

Less stuff also gives you more clarity to see the things that remain and that really, truly matter.


So ask yourself today...what are you filling your home with? Where are you storing your treasure? And what exactly do you treasure most? People or things? Do you have clutter or purpose?

Are you feeling anxious because there are endless piles? Then just do something today. Set out to rid yourself of things that are weighing you down. Choose to have less, and do more...choose to simply live, for Him.


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Join the Movement– Share with your friends, build community, and live #real.

#Real Homeschool

Share in your community what a real homeschool looks like. Let’s build a community, together, and be real.

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Also, you can read more about God at the center and simplifying your homeschool:



8.19.2015

God in the Garden


Recently a friend and I were discussing how the whole move to our new home came about. I was trying to explain how it evolved over the years...how neither my husband nor I grew up in the country, but we were drawn to it over the years.

We always had this dream tucked back in our minds, that "someday" we might have a little farm- a place where we could raise our kids enjoying nature and lots of hands-on education. As the years passed, it just seemed to be one of those "dreams" that would never really happen to us.

But then we did start to pray fervently about it. I could see that the years with my children were slipping away, and there was only so much time left to bring that dream to a reality. If we wanted to make it happen, time was moving fast.

We prayed and prayed, and we got answers...but for awhile the answer seemed to be, "No." Until last year, when this house was finally the answer to prayer.

As I was thinking about how this whole situation evolved, I was also thinking about how much we love having a garden here. Our dream is to expand it further and further each year. I love seeing my husband tend to it after work. I love seeing the kids work together in it. I love the whole process of seeing things grow from seed to harvest. There is  so much about the garden that I love. Mostly, though it has connected me even closer to God.




I was thinking during my quiet time this morning with the Lord about gardens and the Lord brought to mind a few things...That LIFE started in a garden. I also thought about how Jesus prayed in a garden. Then I thought about the many times gardens, plants, and harvesting are mentioned in the Bible.

I opened my concordance and looked up the word garden. I found so many things already, that I am still learning and seeking, but I thought I would share a few today, that you may see God in the garden.
  • God created Adam and Eve and the lived in The Garden of Eden. A paradise. One day, Jesus will  return and this paradise will be restored.
  • Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  I have often prayed in my own garden. There is something about it that really rests my soul.
  • In John 19 it says that after Jesus died, he was buried in a garden: 
"Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid." (v. 41) 

A few verses later, it says,
"When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there and did not know that it was Jesus.  He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." (John 20:14-15)
This is referring to Mary Magdelene visiting the tomb, and Jesus appearing to her. At first, she did not recognize Him. Like so many of us, Jesus is there and until He opens our eyes, we do not 
recognize Him!

So many years I read this passage and didn't realize the significance of those words. Again, it all started in a garden, and then ended in a garden (yet we know it truly didn't end there!) And then the fact the Mary thought Jesus was the Gardener...do you see it? He was the Master Gardner...the One who tended to the garden of Eden! Yes, He was the Gardener.

These are just a few things that I find truly fascinating. So you see, I look at my garden for its beauty and its food and its wonder...but mostly because I see God in the garden.



I am truly amazed at how He ties things together in this world...and the garden is truly significant.



8.15.2015

Let Go of the "Perfect" Schoolroom

Come and join me at Bible Based Homeschooling today for this new post in a series about Real Homeschool.

The Perfect Learning Space

The Perfect Learning Space

So many times over my homeschooling years, I focused on creating our learning space- the homeschool room. It was hard not to focus on it because I would see all these pictures floating around cyberspace of beautiful rooms that screamed success! 
The rooms matched and were warm and inviting. I assumed kids must be doing lots of learning in those rooms! They were perfect.
Over the years, I have come to realize, while a beautiful room is certainly a blessing, it is nota necessity for learning to take place. 

8.03.2015

Real Homeschool PLUS Free Books

this post contains affiliate links

Real Homeschool: Letting Go of the Pinterest-Perfect and Instagram-Ideal Homeschool

It is finally here! I have been working on this book for a long time.

It is my heart in words.

I have prayed over every word and every reader who will read it.

Real_homeschool copy copy
This book is not really about social media per se, but more about our hearts in a world that continues to push us to be more like it. Everywhere we turn, social media is screaming at us and showing us pictures of what we should be. Slowly, gradually, we start following the world and trying to bring God with us, rather than letting God lead us and then bringing the world with us!

They are the desires that creep in and take my focus off of my true purpose in homeschooling. You know what I mean— when the focus becomes all about finding the best curriculum or filling up the schedule with the most extracurricular activities? Or how about decorating the perfect homeschool room? Or the hours spent online searching what others are doing, while neglecting your own time with the Lord? These are all things that have become an issue with me, and I am sure with others, especially as social media grows.

I have often thought about those early homeschoolers who had no Internet or fancy curriculum but truly sought the Lord in their decision to homeschool. I admire them so much! They weren’t busy showing off their schoolrooms or their kids on Instagram; they were deep in the nitty-gritty of daily homeschool life when homeschooling wasn’t even mainstream. They weren’t spending hours on Pinterest, but probably hours in the Word.

This book will challenge us to get back to the basics and fully rely on God. We need to stop living up to an Internet ideal and live only for God’s ideals. This book isn’t at all a book against social media (after all, I work in social media), but more about our hearts and what we do with social media. Pinterest and Instagram and all the other media out there are certainly not bad in and of themselves, but we do need to be aware of our hearts when using them. We must not let those things rule our standards. Only God should rule us.

Will you join me as we get back to the basics? Will you join me as we endeavor to be real with each other because we need each other? Will you join me as we focus on what God wants for our homeschools and not what the world says is success? Will you join me as we pursue Real Homeschool? Not a picture-perfect homeschool, but a real homeschool –where the rubber meets the road and it sometimes gets messy –and we work together through those messes…

And then it gets beautiful…oh, so beautiful…because God is right there with us. He is working through our families on this real homeschooling journey. God has called us to this beautiful journey…and the perfect picture is the one where He is leading every step, guiding us, and our eyes are fixed soley on Him.

Real Homeschool is available on Amazon.com NOW!

Kindle and *Paperback!

*paperback will be available in the next day or two!

Join the Movement– Share with your friends, build community, and live #real. 

#Real Homeschool

Share in your community what a real homeschool looks like. Let's build a community, together, and be real.

 

In honor of the new release, I am giving you my other books  FREE August 3 &4 ONLY! Grab them now! Celebrate with me!

 

FREE AUGUST 3 & 4 ONLY!! 

 

7.31.2015

It's Almost August...

REPOSTED FROM 2014 

It's almost August.

The feeling changes in the air.

The excitement and anticipation of summer...the long days, the late nights, the fireflies, the ice cream, the expectancy....has now faded and become the usual. The nights are just a bit shorter, the things we waited for are becoming familiar.



August. The month where we live still in summer, yet with an eye on the next month knowing it will soon be over....

I see the age of thirteen pretty much the same as August....

The baby days I dreamed of, the days of childhood, the excitement of beginning a journey....now these things have become the usual..and we are just like in August....still in childhood, yet a foot is now into the door of adulthood...just like summer...it will soon be over...




In August I consciously tell myself not take for granted the beautiful summer mornings, the birds chirping to wake me...not to take for granted the ice cream nights, the popsicle stained faces, the muddy prints in the house....

...because soon summer will be over.  I try to relish in every moment...always with one eye on the next month...knowing this will soon be a memory.



Just like August I am feeling the same way about my teenager...on the cusp of a new chapter. One foot still in summer...or in childhood.....trying to consciously enjoy it all...knowing all too well it will soon be over...


We are at the point where I have a glimpse of the end in sight. I am no longer the naive new mommy thinking babyhood and childhood is forever...knowing that, just like August, the days are getting shorter...the sun is setting on summer...and on childhood...



Only...August will come again...next year...



7.28.2015

Less Clutter Means More Joy


Last year when we moved, I wrote about how we took all that we had into a 26 foot U-haul. Taking only what we needed with us was essential for me in keeping it simple.

The house we moved into is actually much bigger than our previous house, yet we have less stuff. And I love it.

I have no desire to fill it up.

It is much easier to manage life when there aren't piles of stuff to manage.

It feels less stressful to walk into a room and have space.

Space to fill with friends and family.

I am enjoying space to invite people over...and to practice hospitality.

Not entertaining, but hospitality.

I enjoy the surrounding property and don't need fancy decor. God has provided beauty all around us.








If you are looking around now and see nothing but clutter, choose today to start small. Evaluate what you need. Evaluate its purpose.

Here are some questions to ask:

Do you need it? (or more than one of it?)

Is it useful? What is the purpose for keeping it?


Now if you are looking around and don't even know where to begin, remind yourself to just begin with something. 

If you look at the overall task it will seem overwhelming, but if you promise to get rid of one thing each day....you will be on the road to progress.

Less clutter means less to manage and more time for real things, which leads to freedom and joy.

You don't have to be a slave to your stuff. You can be free!

Picture yourself walking into a room and just enjoying it for who is in there! Don't fill spaces trying to fill voids.

Enjoy life...real life, with people, not stuff.