Sunday, September 28, 2008

The song I can't get out of my head...

Just wanted to share with you so that you could walk around singing this too. I was introduced to this about a week ago and it has been playing on the record player in my brain ever since.

I know I lost most of you young ones with that reference to a record player. My birthday is pretty close and I am getting old, thus the reference to something we had around our house when I was a kid. Google it kids...

Without further ado.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Homeschooling With a Purpose

This is a re-post from my old blog. I think re-reading articles like this are important at least once a year.


I had the opportunity to speak to a group of new homeschooling moms a couple years ago. The article below grew out of what I shared. For me, it is good to read this (and other really basic articles) at least once a year to encourage my spirit and help me set the course for the year. I hope it encourages and challenges you as well. =)


If you are a homeschool mom or dad, I want to ask you a question:

Where are you going?

Do you have a specific, clear purpose and direction for your homeschool and ultimately for your children and family? What goals do you desire to see your children reach while they are under your care? If you haven't thought this out before, now is the time to do so.

I especially like how Debra Bell puts it in her book, THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOMESCHOOLING:

"It (vision) will give you confidence that you have made a wise (logical and prayerful) decision and not a foolish (whimsical and presumptuous) one. Then you will have the faith you need to press through the tough times (which are guaranteed to come)."

Not only will a clear purpose serve as an anchor to hold you steady in those tough times…it is also a compass to give you direction in the sea of choices available to homeschoolers today.

The Measuring Stick

The Bible says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18). The new American Standard says, "the people are unrestrained." Do you know what it is to be unrestrained? I do…

  • When I don’t have a clear vision guiding my decision making process, my life become chaotic…
  • I wander down paths with no destination…
  • I become "double minded and unstable in all my ways" (James 1:8), rethinking decisions over and over again…becoming weary and discouraged.

Taking the time to make goals not only gives me direction, but becomes a measuring stick for all I do! Goals give me parameters I need for assessing all the options available to me, including:

  • Which educational approach to use
  • Which curriculum to buy
  • What playgroups to join
  • What support group to attend, etc.

My story

Let me tell you little about my self and our arrival at this journey we call homeschooling. I always knew I would be a "stay-at-home mom," primarily because I knew the importance of laying a solid moral foundation during the "formative" years. We never considered public schools an option, but being full time Youth Pastors, we sort of assumed our kids would attend the "church school." I pretty much scoffed at homeschoolers—they were a strange bunch. The homeschoolers I had met grew their own gardens, baked their own bread and even ground their own wheat! They seemed too eccentric. I was sure that they were unbalanced somehow.

Full time youth work gave us the opportunity to see lots of "good" kids from "church families" who lacked a solid Biblical foundation. This was very disheartening…how did this happen? I’ll tell you: Parents have (unknowingly, in some cases) abdicated their rights to train up their children spiritually, morally and academically.

These jobs are left to the "professionals"…teachers, youth pastors, children's pastors, etc.

As our family grew and as my oldest neared "school age," I began to doubt that even a good Christian school would be able to impart to him the values our family held dear. This became glaringly obvious during a time Eric and I were leading a small group of post-high schoolers. These were all GOOD kids—many in church from the time they were born—but they all believed in evolution (in varying degrees). I was stunned! This is a foundational truth of our faith: WE ARE CREATED by a loving creator…in His very image. I think that was the turning point for me. I knew I would be joining the ranks of the unbalanced, hopelessly eccentric homeschool movement.

So, I began to think about WHY we should homeschool. What's the PURPOSE? Here are some of ours.

Godly Character/Biblical Worldview. Solomon said it best in Ecclesiastes 12:12–13.

"My son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."

We feel very strongly that if we merely raise our children to be bright, articulate, creative, intelligent, etc., but do not pass on to them a revolutionary and infectious love for God that impacts every area of their lives, then we have failed in our calling as parents.

In other words, we are committed to raising our boys to be world-changers. We want our boys to be passionate about Jesus and to be able to share Christ with others in a way that is both articulate and culturally relevant. We have always thought that our first job as parents was really to be "pastors," and that parenting is really discipleship in its purest form. We want to teach them to know truth so that they can easily recognize counterfeit.

  • Eph 6:4—Bring them up…nurture and admonition
  • Duet. 6:6-9—These commandments…teach them diligently…
  • Prov 22:6—Train up a child…
  • Jer 10:2—Learn not the way of the heathen

Love Learning/Academic Excellence. There are many different learning modalities and personality styles. So it makes sense that children learn at different rates and speeds. Unfortunately, the current school system is unable to reach every child in the classroom. It simply cannot be done. The current system actually (though not purposely) stifles creativity and crushes innovative thinking. It forces children into a "one-size fits all" mentality.

Consider the clothing rack—one size does NOT fit all! If it won't work with clothes, which we both design and create, why should we expect it to work with children whose personalities and styles are as unique and mysterious as the God Who created them? Since we recognize that each of our boys is unique, we are committed to teaching each one as individuals, thus preserving their uniqueness and inquisitive natures. Schooling this way produces critical thinkers, kids who look for answers rather than waiting to be spoon-fed. This also serves as an esteem builder, as we strive not to compare one to another. Children who a re nurtured in this kind of environment love learning and often excel far past their public school peers in academic achievements.

Family Unity. As I type this, my boys are doing what they usually do: They are playing together, using their imagination and engaging in lots of "give and take." They truly are best friends. They love one another deeply and stick together. Even though they are still little, I want to nurture that love and friendship each day. We truly want our boys to grow up as best friends.

We also want them to be strongly parent-influenced, not peer-influenced. Children from strong, stable families are more self-confident and are typically stronger leaders. By making a time investment now, while they are little, I believe we will avoid a turbulent adolescence because of our commitment to family unity and shared values and vision.

Final Thoughts

Parenting is hard—but homeschooling is even harder! I think we do a disservice to our children when we attempt homeschooling without being strongly compelled, highly motivated, deeply convicted, and purposefully driven.

That's why we've taken the time (and continue to take the time as a matter of course) to talk about, write out and discuss our goals. These experiences help corral us and keep us going in tough times. They give us direction in a plethora of choices. They keep us grounded…

"And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it" (Habakkuk 2:2).

Father, Thank you for the blessings of our children. Thank you for the privilege we have in teaching and training them to love and serve you. Help us to realize the futility of such an enormous task without your help and without a vision to give us direction. I pray that tonight your sweet Holy Spirit would challenge anyone who has not yet thought about the clear purpose and direction for their responsibility and calling as parents. I pray that You would impart to them a sense of clarity and a new vision for their families. And may their children grow up to be men and women whose lives are dedicated to the Kingdom of God and the Good News upon which it is built!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Great Stromboli Disaster

Some time last week (or month...I can't keep track of time), Carrie over at The Gremlin Wrangler posted a lovely tutorial on how to make stromboli. It was inspiring. All the melty goodness, pepperonis and pizza sauce and....heavens to betsy, bacon! I checked my pantry, made note of what I was missing and did a quick grocery run. Dinner for our family had been planned.

I took my laptop to the kitchen for easy access to the recipe and we carefully we set out all of our ingredients. My very curious and overly helpful three year old wanted to join me for dinner prep. I acquiesced.. (another big word for my friend JoAnna).

I decided to bump up the nutritional value of said recipe by substituting SOME of the white flour with wheat flour. I knew this would change the texture and consistency of the crust some, but also know this makes dishes more filling and nutritious. So, we measured out the flour into a separate bowl. I let Daci do the scooping and dumping (can you say messy?). What I didn't consider when making this simple switch was that the volume and consistency of our dough would increase, a lot.

The dough grew and grew, encompassing not just the dough hook, but the flat top and even the spring. Possibly the worst part though, was that the kitchen aid attachment on the front top of my mixer was not firmly attached and after some vigorous mixing, it fell off into our dough. Which then caused the mixer to go all wonky and bumpy and throw flour all over the counter and surrounding appliances. This caused a ripple effect in that my helpful three year old became a quaking, shivering blob of "It's very noisy! Make it stop, mommmy!!" Much screaming ensued (she hates the blowdryer too...anything besides her that makes shrill noises is positively frightening).

I took the bowl from the mixing stand and tried to find the missing piece. You'd think finding this big piece of metal would not be very difficult, indeed, even simple. However, the dough was like quicksand and for all my mixing and stirring, I would get a glimpse and plunge my hand in to come up empty, time and again. Time is getting away from us, hungry boys are coming through the kitchen wondering what's for dinner and why am I playing in a vat of play-doh?

"It's bread dough." I correct, rather tersely and gesture to the beautiful pictures on Carrie's blog. "Wow, that looks good. Can I help, too?" "NO" I say through gritted teeth. With great determination I plunge in again for that missing mixer part, fairly certain that baking it into the stromboli and offering a prize for the winning slice would not go over well with the family.

Finally, I fish it out and we move past the tears over the noise and onto tears over using all the flour up and having no more to dump and scoop. Between her dumping and scooping and the wonky mixer, I probably had a whole cup of flour on the counter, floor and surrounding appliances.

Hungry teen passes through wondering what's for dinner. I gesture towards the laptop and draft him to lay out the Roulpat so that I can do some kneading by hand since the dough has grown up past the dough hook attachment onto the actual mixer itself and I love my new mixer too much to sacrifice it to the pizza gods.

By this time I am so flustered and frustrated (and hungry) I am just trying to hurry to finish. The three year old is no longer interested in helping, but thank God the crying has stopped. Now, she is enjoying licking the flour off of the countertop. Although I told her she wouldn't like it, there are worse things she could be licking (like say, batteries), so I let it slide.

I spread the dough out and although I followed her directions, I have enough for TWO strombolis. Thank goodness I grabbed extra sauce and cheese! In my hurry though, I used only one bag of cheese, completely omitted the bacon and frankly, not enough sauce either.

Here is my finished project. Notice the time on the stove. I started this project at 4ish. Clearly, I just need to go to Carrie's house next time.

LOL, Carrie just added an addendum to her blog that explains why I ended up with two loaves. And it has nothing to do with wheat flour! I inadvertently doubled the recipe because her original document listed double the amount of water. Since I am not much a of a measurer , I just added flour until I got the right consistency. No wonder it was eating up my Kitchen aid!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Miracle Monday~Woo Hoo!!

Today's miracle is that after my husbands one year anniversary at his current workplace, he requested and received a significant pay raise.

After reviewing our budget, we saw that we were falling a little short every month just to meet basic necessities. We pored over the budget to see where we could make some cuts, but we really don't have a lot to cut. We live pretty much on what he brings home to pay for basic needs. Without a lot of extra debt (like car payments, excessive credit cards, etc), we don't need much, but the stress of higher prices for simple things like food and gasoline have taken their toll.

So knowing that he had a yearly review coming up, he added up our expenses and came up with a $$ amount. He also did some research on what e-learning professionals are paid these days and found that he was underpaid. We put out a prayer request to many people.

Synergystically, it all worked together to help him come home today with terrific news. He got the raise. All that we asked for and even more great things and changes were approved for his department which will make his job a more pleasant one.

Praise the Lord, he is so gracious and provides every single time!!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Over and over, the Lord told the Israelites to 'remember.' Remember what He had done for them, remember where they had come from, remember His provisions. I don't think God needed the reminder, it was for their own sakes that needed to constantly take the time to ponder and reflect on how big God is and how not big their problems were.

I am a lot like the Israelites. I have a tendency to grumble and complain, or worry instead of rest in His provision. I need to take the time to consider all the great things He has done. I'm not talking about the beauty of creation or the marvel that is a growing child, although those are certainly worth reflecting on. I am instead thinking of the very specific ways He meets both our needs and sometimes even our wants. It is in this reflection that we are reminded that He does take care of us, sometimes in very unexpected ways. It is also this reflection that passes on to our children the very personal nature of our God and His relationship with us.

If we don't record it and share it, how will THEY be able to remember? By recording and sharing our own personal miracles, we build our faith, the faith of our children and the faith of other believers.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as we have found ourselves in a financial bind. It's probably a story reflected in many homes across America, more out-go than income. If we were taking lush European vactions, it would be pretty easy to see where to cut the fat. However, that's simply not the case. We are just stretched every month to make ends meet. This is where the provision/miracle part fits in. I bet that I if I were in the job market and all our kids were in school, we might be more comfortable, but we'd have less family unity. And that is simply not worth the trade-off in our opinion. We strongly feel like God has called us to homeschool our children and that for our obedience, he will bless us. In fact, we have seen in the past over and over again.

For example~In moving from sunny, temperate FL to TN, clothing has become something of a budgetary need. In FL I could get away with shopping once a year (w/an occasional thrift store trip now and again) as the seasons there are hot, hotter, hottest, a little cool. Here though, we have real seasons and need real coats, jackets, winter clothes. Add to that the fact that my oldest son is now taller than his father and we have a real clothing crisis on our hands. Enter my sweet neighbor who called and wondered if I could use a few things for Nick. Someone had given her some things and they wouldn't work for her son, so she thought of us and passed them on. She brought over three garbage bags of clothes! Not all of it is usable, but it is a good start on what could have been a major dent in the monthly budget.

See, it's a minor miracle! Right in our every day surrounding, they are here. What's your miracle this week? Thank God for his faithfulness and write it down. It will be an inspiration to you and others. =)

In keeping with God's provision and miracles, THIS POST by author Sally Clarkson is truly awe inspiring. You will be blessed by how God knits the tiniest details together in a beautiful mosaic of gracious provision.

I was inspired to share this by joining Beth at A Mom's Life for here Miracle Monday Meme. Do you have one to share?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In case you haven't seen them...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Ago

Seven years ago, I was a hopeful young mother. I was in my first year of homeschooling my oldest son who was six at the time. Coming up right behind him were his younger brothers, four and two years, respectively.

We were in our first home and scheduled to re-finance. The appraisal was scheduled for Tuesday morning. We were nervous and hopeful that our home had appreciated some in the short time we were there. I'll never forget when he (the appraiser) arrived. He had sort of a shell-shocked look on his face and didn't even really greet me. Instead he said, "Are you watching the TV? News? Do you know what's going on?" Just prior to his arrival, my husband had called with the terse message, "Turn on the TV."

I motioned the appraiser towards the Living Room and together we stood in front of the TV and watching in utter horror as the second plane hit. I looked across the room to my boys playing cheerfully with LEGOS and wondered what kind of world are they going to grow up in. So small and happy and unaware of the pure evil that exists just outside our door.

The appraiser did a cursory walk-through our home and stayed probably longer than he intended. The images were difficult to comprehend or pull away from. They are still with me today. I choose to remember. To forget would be to void all the lives lost that day and the many who have fought and lost their lives since then protecting us all from another 9-11.

I am ever grateful for our President and his leadership as well as our Military, Local Police and Fire-Fighters who fearlessly put their lives on the line to help preserve ours.

Click here for a complete list of lives lost that day. I imagine that time has helped some, but for many families today will still be difficult. If you feel led, say a prayer for them...and GOD BLESS AMERICA!!