Simplifying Back to (Home) School

I know this may sound strange...but if you want to prepare for your upcoming school year, get off the Internet! I know, I know, it is so full of wonderful resources, articles, blogs...oh, and Pinterest! So many ideas!

I have found myself there. Paralyzed by information overload. I start out with some quiet time to plan, and end up scrolling, clicking, and browsing through, only to find myself a few hours in, with nothing done. I usually end up feeling worse about my choices, because everyone else looks like they are doing so much more.

Homeschool mama...I want to remind you God is bigger than the Internet. He called you to homeschool and He will equip you His way. Sure the Internet is full of resources that are helpful, but we can't rely on them or let them consume us.

The very best resource there out there for your homeschool is God and His Word. Do you spend time with him? Seeking Him? Asking Him to lead your homeschool and your choices? Do you fully rely on God?

Before you start planing your homeschool, pray. Read His Word. You will then be equipped for this journey.

Don't get wrapped up in the Internet. 
Get wrapped up in Him. In His Word.

I am working on a presentation about simplifying back to homeschool that will be available for download for my readers- this way you can listen and be encouraged right from your own home. Be sure to look for it in the next week or so!

I also talk a bit about planning for the new year in my latest book Simply Homeschool 2nd Edition. Now available in paperback, Kindle, and PDF.


It's Almost August...

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...


Mommy Camp...or Not

This was the week that my big kids would be doing VBS and my five year old and I would have some time together. He said he didn't want to do camp and he wanted time with mommy. Knowing all too well that these days won't last, I told him we would have a week together of "Mommy camp."

I could have made him go to camp or tried to get him interested, but deep in my heart I realize something that I didn't with the older children at this age.
This isn't forever. 

I remember when my older ones were babies and I worried about everything under the sun- did they get their naps, were they on schedule, should they have a pacifier, should they be allowed to sleep in the bed with Mommy, did I cuddle them too much? HA. It wasn't forever. The things that seemed so big then passed so quickly.

SO when the five year old says he wants mommy camp...I knew all too well most likely this time next year he would be running off to camp without looking back. I would embrace the moment and give him a week of mommy all to himself.

The first two days weren't picture perfect though. We had fun, but lots of hiccups too. Snakes (YES, I said snakes), rain storms, and salt-less pretzels (huh?...more on that in a minute...) all tried to dampen our fun, but they didn't. We just pressed on and I knew all too well this wasn't forever.

Then came today. Out of nowhere he announced, "I am going to camp!" He ran around his room trying to find blue and orange clothes- after all those were his team colors! he informed me. His big brother filled him in that it was team color day and they'd be on the same team, so he NEEDED blue and orange.

He leaped around the room withe excitement. And here I stood, feeling the sting of nothing lasting forever. Even mommy camp which was supposed to be a week, was cut short. When they are ready, they are ready...and here he was ready for camp.

I guess two days of Mommy camp was enough.

The solace I find is that even though mommy camp was short lived, we had those two days. Careful not to dwell in the past, we now embrace the fact that he LOVED camp, and even though my baby is growing up, there are always new moments to be made.

Time moves on and we have to move with it, 
or we are left behind in a place all alone.

Here are some pictures of Mommy camp, along with some captions that I shared on facebook. I will always treasure those two days.

My big kids are helping at VBS this week and one other is attending, but my little guy wanted a week with Mommy instead. So we are doing "mommy camp"- Today was an attempt at catching little fish at the pond until we were chased aways by SNAKES. Ick! Next was ice cream, and then an archeology set we bought at the craft store. Ended with a pillow fight (as per his request) #boys  Enjoying every minute, because I see how fast time has gone with my teenager- and I want to embrace every second with this little guy. I know it's cliche, but moms of littles- take time to enjoy all the little things- it goes by in a blink! 

So today Mommy camp was full of hiccups- we got rained out at the park, took a looooong way to find a place for lunch, only to end up having lunch at Target, which ended up being an Icee and pretzel (with no salt mind you...ick!) Anyway, in the midst of it all we chose to find a silver lining-while at the park, it started to downpour and thunder. We saw a nanny there with a small child in a stroller starting to run. Realizing they had no car and were attempting to run home, I asked if they would like a ride. She was so glad for the offer and we gave them a ride home (which would have been a LONG walk in the pouring rain!) Afterwards my son and I decided, God didn't really want us at the park to play...He must have brought us there to give those people a ride home, and to show our neighbor His love. The best part of the day...when I picked up my older son at camp and said, "Guess what awesome thing we did today at the park?" His response, "You told someone about JESUS??"    #unpluggedsummer #makethemostofeverymoment#loveyourneighbor #evangelisminthepark


All By His Grace...His Love Is Never Earned

This morning my little five year old crawled into bed with me, his illustrated Children's Bible in hand, cuddling up as he began to flip through the pages...

After looking through it awhile he said, "Now what should I do mommy?"

"Pray." I answered. "Talk to God..."

"What should I talk about?" he asked

"Just talk to Him. Thank Him for creating you. Thank Him for loving us. Ask Him to help you obey today."

He sat there with a stillness, I am guessing in deep in conversation with the Lord...as deep as a five year old can get...

Then he sat up, removed his band-aid that had been covering his big toe and said, "Look Mommy. My cut is getting better. God healed it. I did something for Him, and now He did something for me."

OH Nooooo...I quickly responded how we don't have to do ANYTHING to earn anything from God. In fact we can not. Nothing we can do will earn us anything from God. I wanted to make this so clear in his little mind, so that he knows we never, ever do anything, to get anything from God.

I went on to explain that God made us, and all we need to do is love Him back and obey. He loves us no matter what. We don't do things in order to get things from Him. We simply love Him. He loved us long before we were even born.

I think he understood after a long while. Yet, it made me realize how we all are like my little five year old sometimes. Even though we know in our heart of hearts that we do nothing to earn God's favor, he freely gives us His gift...and once we accept it, we will in turn want to please Him...out of love and not out of obligation...with the Holy Spirit living in us...

Yet, we are still trying to earn favor. Nothing we ever can do will earn God's love. He doesn't ask us to earn it. That is the beauty of His grace.  Yet, day after day we try to earn it. We quickly forget it is ours already.

I deserve nothing from Him. In fact, what I do deserve is far worse. I have sinned so much, fallen so short...and day after day still fail. Yet, He chose to come and swoop me up from the life I was living and let me live in His grace. Why me? I may never know. But I will spend the rest of my days not trying to earn anything, or even repay, but giving glory to HIM for what He has done. When I deserve nothing.

This morning my husband and I were both working in our office at home- he on his business (FarmHaus Studios )and me on my ministry- both Simply Living...for Him and Bible Based Homeschooling. And all I could think was ...

"Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, 
that you have brought me this far?" 
2 Samuel 7:18

I have done nothing to deserve this life. We are living the dream. A family business. A ministry. A God who loves us beyond our imagination. An eternity we will spend with Him. Sometimes "I scarce can take it in," as the old hymnbook says...but it is so true. I just can't fathom it.

We spent a day at the beach this week. I  always marvel  when I look at those grains of sand..and realize He knows each one. I am only looking at a glimpse and I can't even begin to count them...forget multiplying it by ALL the grains of sand on this whole earth. And He knows each one. And He knows each one of us and every single part of us. I can't wrap my head around His greatness and majesty. And here I am, little 'ol me...and yet He cares.

So my days will be spent turning each blessing back to praise. Praising Him for all He does. And simply living..for Him.

A couple exciting things...
The PRINT edition of my books will be coming this year. I received the Proof copy of Simply Homeschool 2nd Edition yesterday. It was so exiting! We are looking forward to all God has in store for us this year! I am hoping to book up several speaking engagements as well as some other ministry opportunities!

For now the eBook version is available for just $2.99 for PDF and for Kindle!



Lessons From a Vintage Recipe Box..With Recipe!

A few weeks back I posted on facebook and Instagram  about this awesome recipe box. I got it at a garage sale a few years ago and have been in love with it ever since. It has hand written recipes on notecards and scraps of paper, yellowed and faded, some even splatted with ingredients.  One of the papers that a recipe was on shows that this box dates to at least 1926.

I often pull out the recipes and think about who it could have belonged to. Were these recipes passed down to her from many generations? Did she make these lovingly for her family? Who was she? Did she share in the same struggles, we as moms do even in 2014? I imagine in my mind just who she was and what was life like, feeling sort of awe struck that I am even tied to this unknown woman from the past, here and now in the present. She had no Pinterest, yet here we are sharing a recipe together ;) God is good. He ties things together that we never even imagined.

Just as I pondered this week when we watched 1776 for the Fourth of July...about those men and what they did 238 years ago for us...never really living in the free nation that  they founded or seeing the fruits of their labors...our lives matter. Sometimes we may not see the fruit of our labors in this lifetime, but that doesn't mean future generations won't.

Just like this recipe box...from a century ago...here in my home now... so I can think about my life and what I do each day. Making sure it matters. For now and most definitely for the future generations.

A simple recipe box. With simple recipes. Yet so profound.

As promised, I am going to be sharing some the recipes here on the blog as often as I can.

Today is...Lemon Sponge Pie (specifically states on the paper..."from my mother's recipe")

1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. flour
5 tbsp. lemon juice
2 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. melted butter
2 egg whites
Mix sugar and flour. Add lemon juice, egg yolks slightly beaten., milk, and butter. Add egg whites last, beaten stiff. Bake 25 min at 450. (seems high to me?? but this is taken exactly from the recipe :)


{Simple} Summer Nights Unplugged

We spent last night eating ice cream in the park. The kids tried to catch fish in their empty cups with itty bits of ice cream cone for bait, while we listened to the sound of frogs in the brush and watched a snapping turtle sail by. The sun began to set and the lighting was just perfect over the pond. It was a good night.

These are the moments we will remember. I doubt my kids' memories will involve their best ipod game or Xbox battle. No they will remember the real moments. The simple ones.

We laughed as the fish would head right to the bait they tried to lure them in with...and how quickly they would scamper away as soon as the kids tried to catch 'em. The challenge of catching one for the boys was addicting!

They could have played that for hours. My 9 year old truly lights up when he is in nature. He loves fishing more than anything theses days. It is real life. It is accomplishment.

We often have to fight to put away electronics. The boys especially gravitate toward them. But these simple moments outdoors, remind us of real. 

Are you unplugging this summer? Are you keeping it simple? In a world that gets faster everyday, more wired, more complex...let's go back to our roots. Outdoor fun that provides more creativity and fun than any electronic.

Choose to unplug. Choose real. 

Follow me on Instagram and I'll follow you back. Use the hashtag #unpluggedsummer or #simplesummer to show how your family is unplugging this summer. Or join up on facebook!


What Are You Simplifying For?

Recently when I spoke at the HEAV convention in Virginia, I talked about my heart and simplifying homeschool. I noticed many people came thinking they would hear all of the practical ways to make homeschooling easier or more efficient and more organized. While that is true, and those things are a practical part of simplifying, I think they were pleasantly reminded that those are just a small part of what simplifying is really about. Focusing on heart issues and getting back to the basics of WHY we homeschool so that we can focus on God, is the true purpose for me in simplifying. He is the reason we are doing this and He is the focus.

The same thing really applies to all  areas of simplifying. Simply Living...for Him is really about simplifying all areas of our life so that we can keep our eyes fixed on God and not get distracted by all this world has to offer.

All this world has to offer ends someday, yet what He offers us is eternal.

So what are you simplifying for? What are you simply living for? Is it for Him? Or does it take you right back to the world? Are you eliminating clutter to make life easier or more efficient? Those things are the result of simplifying but not necessarily the reason behind it.  Simple living is about so much more than just eliminating clutter. It is going back to the heart.

The world's voice is constantly calling and often it is louder than Jesus.
May it never be so.
May His voice always be louder.

Evaluate your time. Are you eliminating activity so you have more time for Him? For the Word? Or do you just end up filling up your schedule right back again with new activities?

Are you simplifying clutter, but not focusing on storing treasure in heaven? Because if you are, then you will end up filling your home once again with worldly treasure that doesn't last.

Store your treasure in heaven.

If the heart is not filled, you will continue  the vicious cycle of filling up again and again on things that don't matter.

We can talk all we want about wanting to do the right things, but are we actually doing it? Truth be told, it is a battle sometimes for me in the morning, when I rise with the sun and the birds are chirping and I want to stay in bed awhile longer, or open up my email first thing. I have to remind myself I must spend time with my Creator before anything. I must seek Him first in my day.

Or I battle with myself when I clean out a room only to be lured at the store into filling it up again with some shiny new gadgets. The promise of happiness in a "thing." Only to end up disappointed down the road.

Or when I feel like my homeschool curriculum is set, but then walk the halls of a convention and start to fill up on new material (that I don't really need.) It is the cycle of purging and filling up again.

We must be on guard. Simplifying is really not simple. It is at its core a heart issue. A soul issue. An issue to deal with.

So ask yourself today, what are you simplifying for?

I write about this topic and more in my new eBook. 

Are you feeling distracted or worn out in your homeschool? Simply Homeschool 2nd Edition will help you regroup and focus on what MATTERS most!
Get my new eBook – JUST $2.99!!
Have Less Fluff in Your homeschool…and Bear More Fruit! Focus on the important things!
*One Week to Simplifying Plan
*Simple Preschool
*Choosing Curriculum
*Focus on what matters MOST! The HEART!