Friday, March 22, 2024

Pull the Plug!


Want to know a secret parenting tip? Unplug your dishwasher. Yep, it’s that easy!

Years ago, our dishwasher broke. Actually, we were semi-professional dishwasher-breakers – we went through several of them in the course of a few years. “Oh well…” I thought, at least I have several “spares,”… aka - my able-bodied children.

In the meantime, while saving our pennies for the new time-saving device, we were forced to resort to washing the dishes by hand…every.single.meal.

During this season, I began to notice some parenting opportunities that I had been missing out on when the dishwasher was doing the work.

My children were learning to work together.

Living in a classic suburban setting, my children had not been exposed to the necessity and reality of daily chores. Sure, being a “good” homeschool mom, I had created the obligatory chore charts and manufactured chores that they needed to accomplish and check off. I proudly boasted of the cleanest light switch plates and sparkling baseboards in the neighborhood. But, really - we knew that these “chores” were often skippable… and they often skipped out.

But, on the dark day, the dishwasher died - the reality of necessary daily chores crashed onto our countertop in the form of 10 people using dishes 3 times a day! Thus began my search for the best way to divide the labor.

I tried “Boy Day” and “Girl Day” –that worked for a while, having equal numbers of both. I tried “Dish Teams” - alternating days. That worked for a while until the high school schedules upset the plan once again. Our current system looks like this - “Whoever makes dinner doesn’t help with dishes.” Shhh… nothing gets a teen more motivated to cook for everyone when they get to skip dishes!

I’d like to say “dish duty” was always a happy, cheerful time, with everyone gladly rolling up their sleeves to tackle the job with a smile on their face. But I’d be lying.

We learned quickly which person could dive right in with the “sooner we start, the sooner we finish” mentality. And, which of them could stall and postpone and avoid the work altogether. Let me assure you when siblings are assigned “dish duty” together –they will learn to work out those differences!

Many sibling squabbles were solved around the sink as they had to work together to accomplish the task.

My children were learning to serve.

A new appreciation for the preparation of meals began to take place. Knowing how much work it took to make a meal and clean it up became more real to my kiddos, who had previously gobbled it down, stuffed it in the dishwasher, and ran off without a second thought.

Too often, I had done all the real work in the kitchen. With the dishwasher out of commission, I did not have the energy or the time to do it “all” any longer. The children were needed to help. I noticed it didn’t hurt them, it helped them develop appreciation!

It became a training ground for learning to complete a task…all the way. Many times, “quality control” had to be applied to ensure the dish was truly clean, the counter was wiped down, the dishes were put away, etc.

I fell in love with a sign that reads - “Wash the plate not because it’s dirty, nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person that will use it next,” by Mother Theresa. It proudly hangs above the sink and reminds us that this chore is actually an act of love for those we get to serve.

The conversations over the sink became a precious time for connection.

In today’s world, we constantly hear how disconnected everyone is becoming. The digital world is pulling us away from face-to-face connections, and our children suffer for it.

Not if you unplug the dishwasher! You will get the opportunity to connect at least 3 times a day.

I have witnessed the amazing conversations that have taken place around my sink. We have discussed everything from God, politics, our future plans, and why baking with a muffin tin is annoying to clean and should be banned.

We’ve turned on the music, been silly, and had the best family dance parties ever.

We declared war, expressed frustrations, and snapped at each other with wet dish towels. Warning – this is not for the faint of heart and could result in minor injuries, which taught essential skills in apologizing and making amends.

We’ve cried and reminisced together while washing the “good china,” remembering happy family memories and holiday traditions.

We learned to show thankfulness for each other and genuinely appreciate the blessings of a clean counter and empty sink.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the dishwasher’s death had actually been a gift to us. So, for now, I have no plans to resurrect it. I do tell them when they all grow up and move away… I’ll probably buy a new dishwasher the very next day.

Don’t be afraid to pull the plug, pull up your sleeves and see what opportunities are waiting for you at the sink!



Monday, February 26, 2024

Lighten Your Load


We all get weary about this time of year… winter seems to drag on and on, our best intended resolutions have escaped us (again), and there isn’t a bright spot in sight to look forward to!

We scour the internet looking for that special “something” that can brighten up our day, make school bearable again, and lighten our load.  May I suggest –we may be looking for “love in all the wrong places.”  What we need is rest – but, the www.whatever doesn’t have what we most need.

I’ve been pondering what brings this elusive “true rest” to my day.  Of course, as Christians, we are familiar with the verse “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” While this is abundantly true, I can find it hard to put it into daily practice in my homeschooling endeavors, especially in these years homeschooling high schoolers and having three post-graduates in the home.

What are the things that are making you feel “weary and heavy burdened”?  For me, I realized that the load I was carrying was heavier than it needed to be and I had picked up some things that I should have put down.  I had been carrying them far too long –and the Lord gently invited me to come to Him and learn of Him and to find rest for my soul.

Academic Expectations & Fear

I had picked up numerous academic expectations along the homeschooling path about what we “had” to do. You know the ridiculous, but common, expectations that we have to do all the subjects, follow a specific scope and sequence, and excel at everything.  These expectations created imagined “requirements” that the invisible “they” will be looking for on the prized, golden transcript– my child’s ticket to success.  I really excelled at picking up all those unrealistic academic expectations and trying to meet them all!

Along with these came fear.  Fear that we couldn’t meet them, fear that we wouldn’t measure up and fear we weren’t good enough!   So we worked longer and harder and those heavy “got-to-do-expectations” quickly consumed most of our waking moments;  got to do Algebra and beyond, got to have 2 years of an intense foreign language, got to have extracurriculars, got to have volunteer hours, got to take the tests (even take them over again for another couple of points), got to do college credit, got to follow the checklists.  (Actually – I kinda hate to admit this, I LOVE a good checklist –what a feeling of accomplishment there is to gleefully check something off!  I may have even a time a two, written something down just to get to check it off.  I think I’m a list-checking addict!)

The rest of the verse in Matthew 11 intrigued me, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me…and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” Our school days looked anything but “easy and light.”  I realized I needed to learn more from the Lord and to understand better what His easy yoke and light load was for us.

I found that these heavy expectations I had taken on were fueled by fear and became the dictators of our days. What a gift it was to trade all those burdensome expectations and fears in exchange for His light and easy yoke!  It brought freedom. It brought peace. It brought us rest. 

Instead of hurrying to finish all those “got tos”, we started to prioritize all the “get tos”.  It was a subtle shift from carrying heavy expectations to enjoying the journey with appreciation and gratitude. The Lord’s invitation to learn of Him allowed us to see all the many ways we had been given a gift of freedom in our days from the endless demands.  We get to set a more relaxed schedule.  We get to skip that difficult lesson and save it for another day when we may have more energy.  We get to customize our studies to our unique needs and unique callings. We get to push the textbook lessons aside and experience real life learning together.

Can I encourage you?  Your children are loved by God more than by you (you know how much you love them!) You can trust Him to lead you and them.  Those expectations you picked up will only leave you fearful, feeling behind and worn out.

As I relinquished some of my pseudo-academic expectations for my children, the Lord showed up (as He always does.)  Instead of a frantic pace created by trying to check all the boxes, we are learning to capture the moments, eliminate the unnecessary, and prioritize what the Lord is showing us to do.  Peace-filled days, better real learning, and rest followed.  And surprisingly, at least to me, none of my children have stopped learning and growing and excelling.  In fact, the Lord provided many opportunities to learn in very creative ways that we had been missing!

Comparisons & Lies

Along our journey, carrying comparisons started to weigh me down.  I’d like to think of myself as strongly independent, my own person who likes to do her own thing.  But, comparisons started sneaking into my heart and my home. 

I would imagine what the “perfect” family looks like, and then look around at what my family looked like and feel discouraged or defeated.  I picked up more -–“I’ll try harder - do more” ideas for my schooling, my home, and what I should be doing and weighed myself down to the point of exhaustion believing the lies.

I thought things like, “Maybe I need a shiny new curriculum or I need to join a popular co-op group to really make us love learning. All I need to do is spend the money, get on board and everything will be easier. Someone else knows better what my children need.”

“Or maybe what I need, at least according to all the Instagram & Pinterest images, is a new look or an extreme home makeover.  Everyone else’s home looks perfectly coordinated and organized while their children sit eagerly around the fireplace waiting for the wisdom to drip from mom’s lips as they sip homemade hot chocolate and eat fresh sourdough bread. My home or situation must be our problem.” 

My thoughts continued, “What we need is to sell everything we own and buy an RV to homeschool across the country next year. It’ll bring fun and adventure. What we need a complete re-invention of who and what we are. We should be like someone else.”

But, the Lord intervened.

He said “Come to me… learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Could it really be that easy?

He said He will give me the desires of my heart, He will supply all my needs, He has good plans for me, He will give me the strength to do all He has called me to do, and He is enough.

All this helped me enormously. I learned to focus daily on Him and those comparisons and lies started to lose their attraction.  Refocusing my heart and home on Him gave us all a lighter and far easier yoke to carry.

Doing It All & Pride

Along with those pesky comparisons, I had picked up habits of doing everything myself.  A sort of misplaced pride– thoughts of “It is all my responsibility. If I don’t do it, who will?” and “It rests on me”filled my heavy sack.

Moms, we are so good at this!  We learn quickly how to balance multiple responsibilities at one time caring for our little ones–even when they are no longer little.  We get so efficient and so good at managing everything we barely even notice that our “little ones” are fully capable of carrying their own loads.

I was the one running our household, planning meals, shopping, cooking, cleaning… the list went on and on.

Meanwhile, nearly fully-formed adults were living absolutely care and responsibility free in the shadow of my endless labors.  It was time to share some of the fun!

And wow what changes came…and our house has one happier mama!

Take a moment, look around your home.  What things are you doing that they could be doing?  Unload some of that.  Let them reap the rewards of learning how to plan, shop, & cook meals for the family (that could be an entire article.) Expect them to take care of the home you share - by cleaning, repairing, and LEARNING how to! This will serve them all of their grown-up lives, and you may have been inadvertently preventing them from doing it, by doing it all yourself.

I had taken on the burden of being the one driving the direction of their plans after high school.  I was the one who worried through the transcript formation and scheduled the tests and planned the college visits and, of course, monitored their progress on all the checklists I could find!

Instead, I realized my responsibility was to teach them to learn from the Lord and let them start directing their own path.  Is it possible that you need to do that as well?

Maybe you need to stop doing it all for them.  I’m not saying to abandon your post as their guide and their cheerleader–I’m saying that the responsibility for determining their life plan is between the Lord and them, not you.  Point them in the right direction, and cheer them on!  Remember, in just several short years, they will not be students– they will be adults.  Start letting them flex their muscles so that they are strong and wise enough to carry their own loads.

All these things and more have helped me bring the heavy load I was carrying to the Lord and trade it for His lighter, easier yoke. I’m learning to keep Jesus’ instruction of “Learn of Me” a daily priority.



“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  - Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Who Plays with Dandelions Anymore?


Sometimes I feel this yearning for something I can’t quite define. It’s a shadow feeling of something I used to know, but can’t quite remember. My husband and I were taking a hike (one of my favorite pastimes!). As we walked along, we passed a lush green field spotted everywhere with yellow dandelion flowers. Instantly, I grabbed one, and an old childhood rhyme came flooding back to me…”Momma had a baby, and its head popped off…” (don’t teach this one to your kids - I grew up in public school in the ‘70s!) and I playfully flicked the yellow blossom’s head with my thumb and sent it sailing toward my husband. I reached down and grabbed a handful of the long-stemmed fuzzy beauties and began to braid them into a new adornment for my hair as we continued our walk.

It suddenly hit me–no one plays with dandelions anymore! That yearning I was feeling was for a return to the simplicity of life, of sitting outside surrounded by beauty and being entertained by the simple act of plucking dandelions and marveling at them has almost disappeared from our over-scheduled, over-stimulated, over-hurried, over-burdened lives!

Can we undo this frenzied pace and intentionally slow down to play with the dandelions again? Oh, I hear your objections (because they echo at times in my heart too) –What if my children aren’t prepared? What if they don’t learn all that they need to get scholarships or go to college? What if they are “behind”? (That’s a whole new post!) What if I fail them? (Do you sometimes feel it all depends on you?) So, we pick up the pace and kept pressing forward.

Stop for a minute– does this sound like the Lord’s voice to you? The one with the still small voice that tells you His yoke is easy and His burden is light? I can imagine that Jesus probably played with dandelions– flicking them playfully at his disciples or tucking one behind his ear to display it in all its buttery yellow glory. I doubt He was worried that his disciples wouldn’t get high enough scores on any standardized tests or win coveted free rides to prestigious colleges. I’m sure He didn’t compare them to other saints and worry that they were “behind”. And I know He knew that He would never fail them, or leave them behind.

Can we really be bold enough to step off this hurried path and take the more scenic route with our family? I think we can intentionally chose to hit the brakes, really we can– we are in the driver’s seat! Here are a few changes our family has made to slow down and enjoy the journey:


So much of my early homeschool journey consisted of making sure we were not “missing anything”. I was constantly on the lookout for the perfect curriculum– the one that would ensure that my children didn’t have gaps and could test their way into success. And we were moderately successful at being great test-takers but not necessarily great at discovering what we found fascinating or interesting. I realized that this path leads to a somewhat flat and one-dimensional sort of learning. We knew facts, we could exercise our memories, and we could enjoy the small rewards of good grades. But, we didn’t have time to really think and dream and connect to what we were learning–especially as we sped through high school.

Lately, we have enjoyed a slower pace for our learning. Yes, even with high schoolers (I have 3 left - all in high school). I have ruthlessly eliminated many “good” pursuits, like dual college credit and ACT/SAT testing, and intentionally focused on less academics. I have even enlisted my children in choosing subjects they want to learn about. (Of course, I’m too much of a control freak to let them skip essentials like science and math!)

Instead of proving that they could memorize, I’ve spent time discussing what they have discovered. The results have been refreshing! I’m seeing them start to make meaningful connections, and offer creative insights. Their learning has become much more dimensional as the measurement tools have changed.


This was a hard one to give up. Outside activities are good, right? Socialization is necessary, right? Yes, but the current way of American life is not!

We used to have an overfull schedule with kids being carted off to activities every night of the week. Dinner was always an on-the-go affair, and evenings home together a rare event.

Our new schedule is quite different! Dinners at home, together, around the table, are more the norm. Our calendar usually has activities that are shared with multiple members of the family. The conversations at dinner and the shared experiences are creating a positive socialization that far outweighs the old way!

Time is precious, don’t be quick to sacrifice it.


I’m about to get a bit personal here if you don’t mind. Our spending habits were contributing to our hurry and disconnection. We were investing in outside activities, the perfect curriculum, and the bells and whistles of keeping up with others.

Once we started making intentional decisions to simplify, we actually had more money to invest in things that moved us toward our goals. Take a hard look at where you are spending your money. A quick glance let me know that streaming services were eating up a huge amount every month. Eating out and convenience-style cooking were also adding up. Kids’ activities carried a hefty price tag as well. And, we don’t even want to talk about the curriculum costs incurred while searching out the best and most promising.

Remember, I said you are sitting in the driver’s seat? Push the financial brakes.

Disconnect a streaming service (or two) and pick up a book to read aloud together instead. You’ll be making family memories, encouraging imagination and I promise you’ll love it!

Start making dinner together–you’ll save money and teach them important skills they will enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Selectively choose the outside activities, and invest in things that bring your favorite people home. For us, it was skipping some much-wanted home updates to invest in an awesome deck for our above-ground pool, with the added benefit of acquiring some much-needed practical building skills!

I can’t tell you exactly what your priorities need to be. But I’m encouraging you to take an honest look and make bold moves. You won’t regret it!

With the ever-increasing pace of life right speeding past our doors, let’s be the kind of people who stop to play with dandelions and have our homes be places filled with rest and peace.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is .light.” Matthew 11:28-3


crosswiredscience. com

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Are You Measuring the Right Things?


Measuring Sticks

Are you measuring the right things?

We have a fun “first day of school” tradition at our house.  I print out a little “Beginning & Ending” worksheet I picked up along the journey of homeschooling.  It has spaces for the all the usual - like how tall you are, what you weigh, some goals for the year, etc.  Then, we mark everyone’s height on the wall with painter’s tape.

The tape marks usually stick around (no pun intended!) for a couple of days until I take them down.  We repeat this activity around the end of our school year, if we remember. Please tell me…I can’t be the only one who suddenly realizes that the school year ended, or um… fizzled out.

We compare the measurements, and marvel at how many inches each of them grew in such a short time! 

This got me to wondering, what are the measuring sticks I am using in our homeschool adventures?   Do different measuring tools show you different results?  Am I measuring their growth with the correct measuring sticks? 

Very early in my journey, my measuring sticks included ridiculous measurements like - Did we finish all the pages in the workbook?  Did we check all the boxes on the lesson plan?  How did they score on a standardized, end-of-the year test - were they at “grade level” or better yet… above grade level for reading skills?

Silly, now that I look back.  My measuring sticks were measuring the wrong things! They were measuring my children against some arbitrary standards set up by those who had never even met them. Or, worse they were comparing them to other children (that they didn’t even know).  The measurements were useless, really.  What they measured were things that didn’t matter in the long run.  Could they take a test? Could they check the boxes?  Not one of these measured what they really knew, or how much they had grown that year.

I’d like to think I learned the lesson right away, don’t we all?  But as they grew I continued to use the wrong measuring sticks at times.  High school measurements included more boxes to check, more tests to take, and counting dual college credits or ACT scores to determine their growth.

The Lord has been gracious to teach me along this path.  The realization that my measuring sticks were measuring the wrong things has come gradually with experience.  (Thankfully, the Lord gave me multiple children to practice on…). In this season, I’ve had my eyes opened to new, and more effective, measuring tools.  I’m starting to see the shortcomings of superficial measurements that don’t address their hearts, minds, souls, and strength.

Here’s a few of my new measuring sticks, some questions I’m asking to determine if they are growing:

How is their time spent learning to invest in their personal soul growth in the Lord?  Are our days so jam-packed with curriculum and content that they have no time to spend with the Lord or with us as a family?  Do they know and love the Word more this year than last?  I know high schoolers can carry a heavy academic load, but the Lord promises an easy burden and a light yoke.  Have I modeled that to them, or made the focus of our time together only about academic growth?

Am I earnestly investing in activities and plans that encourage growth in their hearts?  Did their compassion for others grow this year?  Are they learning to value people around them more and more?  Can they set aside their personal desires to help another family member get closer to one of theirs?  Do they have time to do activities they enjoy–just for the enjoyment, and not for credit on the transcript?  Is there enough quiet to listen to whispers in their hearts and freedom to chase their dreams?

How about physically?  Am I putting priorities in front of them that neglect their need to have strong bodies and make healthy habits?  Am I encouraging them to take the time to move and build those muscles with practical, hands-on opportunities (sometimes at the expense of book or computer work).  Are they learning the extent of their physical capabilities?  Are they stretching to reach new goals?

When measuring the growth of their minds, am I relying on a “find the right answer” approach, or using a score on a test to determine if they have learned or am I guiding them to really think deeply?  I’ve discovered that the “fill-in-the-blank” and “answer the quiz correctly” approach was really just an early step in the process of growing their minds.  Am I continuing to challenge them to look at things from different perspectives?  Can they make connections between ideas and come to conclusions? Am I teaching them to think and question, or merely memorize information?  Does it change the way they see the world? Can they confidently communicate what they believe and why?

It can leave me with more questions than answers.  But I do know that it changes the way I use my measuring sticks to determine if they are growing well.  And it requires constant reliance on the One that knows them best to help me guide them along the path!

I encourage you to reexamine the measuring sticks you are using.  Don’t be afraid to throw them away and go a new direction, it’s never too late to begin again.

I’m praying for you, and I believe this is going to be a great year, full of growth!



There is no greater or higher measure of success
than the praise of our Savior, saying,
“Well done, good and faithful servant” 
- Matthew 25:23

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Stop Boring Them!


Stop Boring Them

And start blowing their minds!

Remember back with me, back to the very first steps into your homeschooling journey… What were those BIG goals and dreams you had for your children?  I remember well embracing, “I want to create a “love of learning” and “teach my children to know and love God.”   But, along this 20-year journey, I’ve discovered I have repeatedly made choices that have actually been the exact opposite of that deep desire I had.  I’ve missed some precious opportunities to show my children WHO God is and help them fall in love with Him, and I’ve actually been guilty of boring them to tears instead of helping them be lifelong lovers of learning.

So where did I take some wrong turns?  I’ve pondered this on more than one occasion– and I’ve come to some conclusions.  I hope some of this helps you too.

The Same Old Approach 

I’ve bored my kids with continuing to fall back on the same old approach…trying to find the “perfect curriculum” over and over and over.  Who said that “doing the same thing but expecting a different result is insanity?”  I think it was Einstein.  

I’ve gotten distracted from my goals for my children by some very dull, predictable, and ineffective approaches… One main source has come via those big-but-empty textbooks. 

This default approach of relying on textbooks to teach, especially for our high schoolers, is that they simply cannot deliver on their promises.  Those hefty-sized books are limited to only telling students (usually in black and white text) and never can really show them the wonder of God in living color!  Those endless pages of seemingly important information are actually filled with boring minutia that we all know we don’t really need to learn!  

Furthermore, we further demean their love of learning by reducing the learning process to one of looking for a “right answer” and taking a test to prove that we learned the lesson over thrilling and amazing them with who God is and what He does and what that means for their lives.  

Completely Useless Information

What completely useless information were you forced to memorize, regurgitate and promptly eject from your memory forever?  I have a long list… I never ever, even one time, have used one upper-level math equation in my real grown-up life, nor have I ever diagrammed another sentence or found the knowledge of ten thousand things like prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cells to be a valuable, life-changing pieces of information that I’m glad I stored up.

The truth is, we are boring them to tears while heaping a heavy burden and load of meaningless school work for them to simply endure.  And, along this path we destroy their wonder, curiosity, and admiration for their Creator.  We miss the golden opportunity to be their “tour guides” and really show (not just tell) them the reality of who God is!

Long Dull Lessons

Another way I was boring my students was with long, dull lessons.  Why is it that someone decided that the best way to learn something is to spend endless hours listening to someone else’s opinion on a subject?  When do we really practice that in our daily lives?  And when, is only ONE writer’s opinion the only correct one?  

For instance, a textbook curriculum writer becomes the definitive expert on a subject just because they wrote it– and we accept their information as rock-solid truth in a subject area.   When do we make adult decisions that way? We don’t.  We seek out a variety of counselors for a subject of importance; we research, we interview, and we analyze.  I realized I was giving my children a very limited viewpoint by utilizing a single source for curriculum. I realized I was boring them, dulling their discernment, and working against my goals for them to be lifelong learners with sharp, questioning minds.

Avoiding “One Size Fits All”

There are much better tools and resources to learn from than the same old approach, and we get to choose for ourselves which is most appealing and useful.  What a blessing to be freed from the “one-size-fits-all” approach and to pursue a path laid out for us by a good God who loves us!  I have learned to stop looking for the “perfect curriculum” and to listen to the Lord for the perfect plan He has for each child. 

Segregating the Family From Itself

Along the way, I also discovered that as my children have gotten older and more capable of learning on their own that I’ve disengaged sometimes from the learning process.  I’ve realized this is a huge mistake many of us make!  Our homeschool endeavor begins at home…together, and it should continue that way all the way through high school.  We have been given a gift, with responsibility, to be part of the plan God has for shaping them to be the tools He designed beforehand for them to become!  

As my children grew older, we  also increasingly encountered philosophies that attempted to segregate our children into age or grade compartments.  This may actually be a not-so-subtle attack by the enemy to weaken the family structure that Satan hates so much.  We began joyfully, all around the kitchen table together– learning together, but by high school– everyone was beginning to be banished to their own age-leveled corner to continue on solo or, maybe worse, with only same-age peers.  

Does it have to be this way? NO!

I have discovered that you can completely disregard age/grade levels and teach your family together (with a minimal division for age-appropriate skills), even in those daunting subjects like science!  Our children need to be inspired by God’s greater vision for them, not just separated to “figure it out” alone. By staying engaged, we can inoculate them from becoming “a companion of fools.”

Getting Back on God’s Course 

I want to encourage you: The face-to-face, daily interactions you are having with your children are working toward your educational goals for them faster and more effectively than you realize.  You are the ONE that the Lord has chosen, in advance, to be your child’s teacher.  You have everything you need when you keep your focus on His direction for your family and your unique children.  Don’t let fear or comparison take that away from you.  And  don’t reduce your efforts to small achievements like getting them to college (with bonus points for scholarships).  Keep building precious shared memories together, stay engaged in the process, and enjoy the journey together!

I got distracted at times and worked against my goals at times.  The great news is that  it’s never too late to get a course correction from the Lord and to get back up, start over and get back on track for what He has for you and your family!  



I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; 

I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” 

 Psalms 32:8

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

A Path Untravelled

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

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!

Life-Style Lessons

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!

Stick Together 

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.” 

Psalm 78:4