Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Thursday, October 5, 2023
Saturday, May 6, 2023
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
I have a sign in my dining room (I love words on my walls!). It reads “Do not go where the path may lead, but go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” When I first saw it, I knew I needed it It has hung in my dining room ever since–a divine daily reminder for my homeschooling journey.
However, those well-worn paths before us can be so hard not to follow…
I started homeschooling 20 years ago (we’re about to graduate number 5 ❤️) with excitement and fear. EXCITEMENT at the idea of getting to be with my little darlings and not put them on the bright yellow school bus to be taken away from me for hours and hours… but complete FEAR at the weight of responsibility I had just put on my shoulders to carry. I was going to have to teach them… well, everything!
So, I stood surveying the beginning of several paths before me, trying to find my way. I packed my bags with well-sharpened pencils, new crayons, construction paper and all the educational toys and trinkets I could find and started out.
This path wasn’t so bad. My eyes were being opened to see all the learning opportunities around us and the beauty of the journey. We played, we created, we learned! Sometimes it was from a video, sometimes a field trip, sometimes a pile of picture books. This was our “trial year” – you know, the year that you tell everyone “We’re just trying this homeschool thing; if it doesn’t work – we’ll send them to school next year!”
But, this delightful preschool path came to fork in the road… called First Grade. Which path should I take now? I was beginning to discover this new homeschool travel necessity called “curriculum”. Should we continue to follow our own winding path of learning, or get a curriculum to guide us expertly along? But, the options were limitless… how could we navigate and find our way through this new forest of choices?
I jumped in with enthusiasm and tried them all! I even signed up to be a homeschool Curriculum Reviewer (yes, it’s a thing!) and share my finds with others. This was a fun-filled journey, at least for me. I could always justify trying something new when what we were doing was getting old, or when we wanted the thrill of a new direction, or when my child didn’t seem to “get it”.
I do think this path was good for us, for a season. But, this “Curriculum Path” – the one that promised us success if only we could unlock the perfect curriculum combination for our child–leads to a dead end.
Curriculum can’t deliver on the promise; it’s only a tool to be used, not a formula to be followed. It’s still up to us to lead our children to the paths the Lord has planned for them, and standardized lesson plans can never meet the needs our un-standardized, unique children!
As we traveled through the early school years, another homeschooling bend in the road came into view. The “Co-op Corner”. More decisions to make. Should we jump on this path and learn with others, or keep going at our own rhythm and pace? More twists and turns accompanied this maze of options.
We discovered that there were some fun new directions in this maze, like exciting classes, making friends, group activities, and even the small joys of packing backpacks and lunch bags for days spent away from the house. We made some incredible relationships and enjoyed discovering each new bend in the road, for a season. But, once again…we ran into dead ends.
We learned that not all co-ops are alike! We discovered that once we were in some co-op paths, it was hard (if not impossible) to take a different direction. We sacrificed some of our freedoms for the security and comfort of others’ wants and desires. Co-ops became “the best of times, and the worst of times” along our homeschool journey. I learned to proceed with caution when entering this maze and to stay alert. I learned to not be afraid to jump out and continue on my own way when things veered away from our desired destinations.
As we neared high school, we came face-to-face with the freeway called “College Prep”. This was not a gentle, winding path through peaceful places. Instead it took us straight into gridlocked traffic and at other times way too much speed! It was fast years of transcript building, entrance exams, dual credit classes, part-time jobs, sports, rehearsals, activities, volunteering… go, go, go.
Once again, I felt the fear of nagging questions… Is this the right path for us, for this child, for this season? There was not a single correct answer that fit every child or every situation. There were times when an exciting and ever-expanding journey was great and other times when our days felt overcrowded, frenzied and filled with unnecessary requirements and stress.
You will have to decide when you should hit the accelerator, or when you may need to slam on the brakes. It’s all about finding God’s balance for us where we are at. I admit, I am enjoying our present detour off the freeway during this current season. We’re discovering new paths we never noticed before and loving a slower pace of life again.
Don’t get stuck in the fast lane of “how everyone is doing it.” Be brave enough to make lane changes to a more manageable pace for your family. Be courageous enough to take an exit ahead and create new directions your journey! It’s never too late.
The truth is we have to repeatedly go to the Lord as our divine GPS to get the answers for which path we need to take! Those well-worn paths are hard to avoid, but they are not always the direction planned by the Lord that we should travel. I believe the Lord has a NEW untravelled paths for each one of us–ones that are uniquely suited to our families, and His growing purposes for us . We just have to trust His leading and be brave enough to journey into all His new plans for us.
He wants all of us to leave beautiful trails for others to follow.
Have a great journey!
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Make Life-Changing Memories
I had a realization as I was angrily (yes…I mean like mad) cleaning my kitchen grout (yes… I can be like that sometimes) that the memories my children were making were of me being angry while cleaning, and not the sweet memories I dreamed of. You know… the memories we make up of all the children sitting quietly around our rocking chair, hanging on our every word as we read aloud quality classic literature and train their hearts for eternity. Nope… my kids were running for cover as I furiously threw the toys out of the “toy closet” and had emotional breakdowns over the dirt in our grouted tile counters. What do we want our children to remember years from now? I remember long ago hearing a speaker tell us we should “begin with the end in mind”.
So, I made an intentional vow to try harder, do better and make sweeter memories for them to carry into their adulthood. I failed. Over and over. BUT, I kept trying! Let me encourage you - don’t give up on this quest, just keep getting back up and trying again.
Today, four of my children have flown the nest, and 4-6 more are still in it, depending on the day, eating everything in sight (yes, they do tend to come back). And, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.
One big lesson that keeps coming back is that the memories of the ordinary daily moments we share matter more than we realize. Here’s a challenge that helped me: Put away the cleaning supplies and let go of some of those perfectionist ideals. Instead, just plop down on the couch together (ignore the mess), pull out your Bibles and teach them all the cool tools a Study Bible has to offer and actually have them take turns reading it aloud. It changes the atmosphere of your home… really. While you’re at it, pick a fun book to read aloud together, and add some snacks from exotic locations (go shop in the back aisles of your grocery store, or order a subscription snack box) and just be present with them in the moment.
The Gift of Being Necessary
There’s more; Give your children the gift of being necessary.
We all need to be needed. Instead of doing everything for them, hand them the responsibility of becoming a necessary part of making your family run smoothly. Go beyond the low expectations of the usual chores of taking care of just themselves. Let them participate in the privilege of taking care of everyone.
One way we do this is by rotating who plans and makes dinner every night and having real, meaningful responsibilities to keep our household running smoothly. It’s a wonderful way to end the day, with your family around the table eating food made by their siblings. (And yes, I mean actually sit down and eat off real plates!) An unexpected bonus; you get some more free time in your schedule too! Come prepared with questions or comments to get discussion going. It’s as easy as “What was a high/low of your day?” or “What did you like about…” You’ll be surprised by what comes out when you slow down a little.
Go Big In Celebrating Them
Everyone needs it!
When it comes to celebrating each other, I’m not talking about cheering them on in every activity you can sign them up for…and drive them to…and pay for. That leads to exhaustion. I’m talking about making family celebrations into memories they can carry with them.
For instance, long ago, I got frustrated with the endless purchases of impersonal greeting cards. They never say what I want them to, and they cost a fortune – only to be thrown away. So, the “Birthday Journal” was born. Each member of our family has a journal, and on their birthday - we celebrate them by writing to them in it and reading aloud to them what we wrote. These journals are a precious memory–and a record of their lives, and how much they are loved. The birthday journals would be the first thing I would grab if we had a house fire!
Currently, our “book-style” lessons are secondary to our “life-style” lessons. We are learning new ways of connecting and loving the people around us–together. We are learning new skills as we complete a family building project. We are learning new business strategies as we expand our family businesses and add a short-term rental to our repertoire (anyone want to visit sunny SoCal… I know a place 😁). We have intentionally included everyone in our endeavors–and believe me, there are memories being made that will serve them well into their futures!
Quests for Adventure
Out with boring living!
Don’t miss the chance to do something out-of-your-ordinary! Field trips are my favorite - when was the last time you took one? (They are not for just for the littles, either!) Nothing beats ditching the lesson plan for the day, and heading to the zoo with your high schoolers to marvel at the creativity of our God. How about a hike? Make it even more adventurous by jumping in the stream (bonus points if you are fully clothed!) Can’t afford a trip?…make up an adventure. Just getting outside is almost an immediate adventure.
Create a challenge for them– it can be as simple as finding new flowers or leaves, or as thrilling as finding a new trail or building a make-shift raft to float down a river. Pack a lunch, a blanket and eat your picnic together: Memories are being made!
It seems like our society pushes us to be independent, the sooner the better. But, is that really what works best? Is that what we should be striving for? We have discovered the great joy of being together, all ages. I encourage you to really think this one through… What is the end you have in mind?
There has been a supreme delight in providing a safe place for our post-high school young adult children to stretch their wings, before they fly the nest. Don’t be afraid to swim against the stream in this and encourage your children to stick around longer. Trust me, they have many more lessons to learn before they go, and you have many more memories to make together!
I guess all of this can be summed up by –Be intentional! Be willing to get off the well-worn, familiar path. You are divinely assigned this task of passing on your faith and heritage to your children, so they will pass it on to future generations. It’s an ongoing, ever-rewarding privilege that the Lord promises to give you the strength and wisdom to complete. You are building a bridge from one generation to the next.
Never give up. Make all the life-changing memories God has for you!
“We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about His power and His mighty wonders.”
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Long ago, when I was sitting on the sofa surrounded by miniature versions of myself, I had a revelation. I know it’s silly, but, in my early twenties I thought the “desires of my heart” were to have a successful career, to be self-sufficient, and to be able to direct my own destiny. What I discovered that day, as I looked at the faces of my children gathered around me, reading picture book-after-picture book, day-after-day, was that THEY were my delight and being with them was the desire of my heart! Motherhood, with all the glamour, big paychecks, and public accolades (who am I kidding?) had become the deepest desire of my heart, not my career.
Saturday, December 3, 2022