homeschool from the heart

Homeschooling From the Heart Not Just a Curriculum

Blessed to Home-Educate

homeschool from the heart

This post contains affiliate links.

If you’re reading this, you likely are either considering homeschooling or are already deep in the trenches and looking for support or options.

Or, you just enjoy reading the ramblings of others who have a similar focus as you.

Whatever your reason, I pray this post brings something positive to your day.

There are others far more qualified to explain the deeper complexities of this lifestyle we’ve been called to, but I’m led to share what I have learned, so far, during my family’s homeschooling journey.

Not everyone chooses to walk this path, and that’s okay.

My family consider ourselves blessed to spend each day together learning, growing, and experiencing life (this includes the sibling bickering) the way generations of families did before the creation of government funded public school, and compulsory attendance.

In a world concerned with political correctness, progressive Christianity, and militant feminisim, I praise God every day that my children have the chance to avoid the indoctrination of modern ‘acceptance’.

From Public-schooling to Homeschooling

My family didn’t fall into this homeschool lifestyle by accident, but we also didn’t plan to keep our children home.

Seven years ago, my daughter was enrolled in first grade at the local public school.

For months I felt led to be more involved with children, and I admit, I assumed this meant I should be more active in the children’s ministry at church.

As with every decision in life, I turned to prayer.

The answer I received was not what I was expecting, or what I thought I wanted.

So, I argued with God.

After all, He must be mistaken.

I couldn’t imagine being home with my head-strong daughter all day, every day; and what did I know about teaching?

After several days of stubborn refusal on my part (my daughter obviously comes by her temperament naturally) I acquiesced to God.

I don’t regret that decision.

Homeschooling Philosophies or Boxed Curriculum Oh, My!

There are more curriculum choices and homeschooling philosophies than I personally know what to do with.

Homeschool from the heart

They’re great.

Or they’re not so great.

It really depends on each unique family and their learning styles, and I’m not going to recreate the wheel.

There are blogs upon blogs that discuss the differences–the pros and cons, of each philosophy or curriculum.

Jumping into the Deep End of the Pool

When we first removed our eldest from public school, I had no idea where to even begin.

The only things I knew were that God wanted us to follow this path, and the K-12 online program wasn’t for us.

That left a lot to wade through and consider.

In the last five years my daughter and I have used various methods for her education.

We’ve tried Charlotte Mason, Classical Conversations, My Father’s World, as well as a not so well-known curriculum (Accelerated Academics– also known as, A Squared).

Every year I’ve prayed about how best to educate my children; to raise them with a love of learning. Not to just teach them what a typical education would offer them, but expand their horizons.

I pray for the best ways to help teach my children how to learn.

God answers our prayers. He really, truly does.

So far, I’ve discovered that my children don’t learn the same way.

Some of this is age, but some of it is their own personal learning styles.

I also learned that I’m really not a fan of boxed curriculum. The anxiety they induce in me really isn’t helpful for anyone in my family.

Since neither of my children, currently of compulsory age (we live in Virginia, and sadly that age is far younger than I’m happy with–but that is a different post completely), care if they have a pre-designed curriculum or not, I have the freedom to kick that added stress to the curb.

Homeschool from the heart

My eldest son (6) loves worksheets and workbooks, but he also loves engaging stories about things he is interested in; he can build amazing creations with Legos, Lincoln Logs, or any of the several mechanically focused building materials he has. He practically taught himself to read, and though he isn’t a fast reader yet, he gets better every day.

Now, this is nothing like how my eldest daughter (11) learns.

She prefers reading great books and discussing them. She works well independently, and finishes the majority of her work without me. If I were to hand her a workbook, we would likely both end up on timeout.

Homeschooling From the Heart

What does it mean to homeschool from the heart?

Homeschool from the heart

For our family, that means there is a lot of prayerful thought and consideration for each child. It begins with deciding what we want (or need) to learn during the upcoming year.

This year I read through Plan Your Year, by fellow homeschooling Momma, Pam Barnhill, and that helped me to clarify my vision for our school. You can pick up your copy here.

Since we school year-round, we have quite a lot of freedom in our scheduling, and don’t worry about getting everything covered in 180-days.

We continually cover Bible (and as they get older a focus on Apologetics) Math, Latin, and Language Arts (literature and grammar–depending on the age). Based on the time of year, we also include Sciences, History (my eldest daughter’s favorite subject), Art, Geography, Writing, and Health.

Recently I’ve gone back to a lot of the principles Charlotte Mason taught, and have found a new love for the simple way of teaching and connecting with my children.

Homeschool from the heart

While I’m not truly what people would consider a Charlotte Mason educator, I love anything that tells me to share amazing books instead of boring textbooks. My inner bibliophile gets all giddy at the thought.

Another thing about homeschooling from the heart, is making sure you’re truly connecting with the heart of your children.

Each child is an individual, and even though they’re all part of the same family, they won’t always be like you.

My children are very active and social. They thrive being around people.

Since I’m quite introverted I make sure I pay attention to this aspect of their hearts too.

Church Activities and Co-Op

If left to my own devices I would likely never go further than the end of my drive-way. I have everything I need–or can have it delivered.

With four children–three of which love being around other people, I’m never left to my own devices.

I suppose this is for the best.

To insure my children get quality time with other kids of various ages, we participate in Awana every year. This one night a week is generally all I can handle outside Sunday mornings.

However, this is not enough for my brood.

Which leads us to this year, and Co-Op.

The last time I participated in anything Co-Op related, it was CC.

Turns out, that wasn’t really our thing.

My kiddos are definitely excited about joining Co-Op. They’ll be learning things I wouldn’t ordinarily teach them at home.

Like Debate.

Plus, there is that ‘socialization’ people outside of homeschool circles worry about.

How We Got Here

As you’ve already read, I spent five years trying to figure out which popular idea or curriculum was the right one. I read everything I could on the different styles and philosophies. I listened to people who swore this curriculum or that curriculum would be the answer for everything.

In short, I didn’t consider who my children are or who I am. I was looking for a one-size fits all way to educate young people who are not only separated by age and gender, but by interests and learning styles.

I didn’t consider how our lives really are.

That we don’t work well within the confines of grid schedules, and endless hours of busy work.

We have interests outside what are generally included in a boxed curriculum, and prefer more flexibility than is given in CC or even in Charlotte Mason.

Philosophies and curriculum are wonderful.

They really are, but they aren’t everything.

You can buy every new curriculum, or try every Co-Op. You can switch philosophies in mid year, or you can just wing it.

The most important thing to remember is that we’re teaching young people to learn.

To experience life.

We must teach the whole child.

Homeschool from the heart

Not just parts.

This means knowing their hearts, and knowing ours.

It means teaching manners and etiquette.

Teaching our children that hard work pays off, even if it isn’t in the way we expect. We won’t always get a trophy, and we don’t always need one.

To teach a child from the heart, we must do more than just parrot the newest craze.

We must learn to listen with a discerning heart.

To pray for wisdom so that we don’t fall into the trap of becoming like the world.

For more book recommendations check out this post.

Until next time,

wellofaith
Homeschooling From the Heart Not Just a Curriculum

Five Ways to Practice Mindfulness (Without Putting Yourself in Seclusion)

The post contains affiliate links. If you feel so inclined as to purchase something through the links, I will receive a small percentage, which will help me build my ministry.

Five Ways to Practice Mindfulness:

As a mother of four kids who range in ages from tween to infant, I’m the first to admit that life isn’t one big picnic on a sunny day. Mostly it resembles an angry nest of hornets–at least it does when one or more of my children are having a rough day. For this reason, I’ve started reading about the practice of mindfulness.

What is mindfulness, you might be asking. The dictionary’s definition is as follows:

A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

In a nutshell, (or in exhausted-momma-speak) it simply means be checked in to what is going on around you right then.

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts.”

 Pema Chödrön

It means being single-tasking in a multi-tasking world.

Our society today applauds those who can multi-task. The truth is, however, that no one really can focus on more than one thing at a time. Something always gets dropped or lost in the constant shuffling between tasks.

To truly practice being mindful, we have to accept that we can’t do it all. We have to understand that doing multiple things at one time doesn’t do anyone any good.

We suffer and our children suffer.

The world may worship at that throne, but we, Dear Ones, aren’t supposed to.

Mindfulness Practice #1:

Put Jesus First

Now, to be honest, this likely wouldn’t be found as a recommended practice in most places that educate on mindfulness. That’s because many of the people I’ve come across while reading, don’t know Jesus.

In my own life, and deep down in my soul, I know Jesus is always the first place to begin anything.

First thing in the morning –after the kiddos have chosen their show, and I’ve prepared my full-fat tea— I sit in the easy chair that once belonged to my father, and I connect with my Heavenly Father.

practicing mindfulness

Recently that has looked like me opening my Bible and diving into the daily readings provided by my church as we read through the Bible this year.

This might look different for you.

What’s important is that we focus on God. We take that time, and focus our hearts and minds on His Word.

On His love.

On His devotion.

Mindfulness Practice #2:

Focused Attention

Children are smarter and more observant than most parents give them credit for. My children, for example, know if I’m truly paying attention to them when they’re speaking. If they notice my attention is lacking, that’s when things really get out of hand.

My eldest has been known to say on occasion, “You’re not even listening to me, Momma.”

Ouch.

So, I’ve taken to actively engaging with my children when they talk. Even if I’m reading, or working on something.

To be mindful means we have to put down the phone, the book, or whatever has our attention. Giving our full focused attention to the young ones who are chatting our ears off, isn’t always easy.

Practicing Mindfulness

Listening intently as my eldest son explains his newest creation, when I was enjoying quietly reading about Mother Culture, can be frustrating.

What I’ve noticed though, is giving my children those few precious moments–making eye contact with them, and truly listening to what they’re saying–being engaged with their thoughts and ideas, makes for easier days.

Mindfulness Practice #3:

Put Away the Cellphone

Often when our children desire connections with us, we’re in the middle of conversations with a dear friend. These interruptions take a focused effort to practice mindfulness; to turn off the phone and set it aside.

This isn’t even the biggest problem though. To practice mindfulness, means being present in the moment.

Instead of reaching for our cellphones, digitally capturing the cute moment of our children singing a song to us, what our children need is for us to share the moment with them–while it is happening.

For the record, I’m not saying get rid of the phone completely. As a former professional photographer, pictures are second nature to me, and impossible to not take.

If there is something you want to treasure for a long time, snap those pictures then put it away to enjoy the activities going on around you.

Mindfulness Practice #4:

Just Breathe

This might sound like something easy. After all, if we didn’t know how to breathe I wouldn’t be here to write this, and you wouldn’t be here to read it.

Now, before you pat yourself on the back, thinking “Hey, I’ve got this!” take a moment and really think about what it means to take a breath.

What it means to breathe.

Focus on the breath that comes into your body. Then focus on the breath as it leaves your body.

Do this three or four times.

If your mind wandered, don’t fret, because mine tends to scamper about after the second inhale. Luckily, even the people who have been practicing mindfulness for years still catch themselves mentally strolling about.

The point of breathing isn’t just to get air into our lungs. It’s more about being mindful of the breaths, and in doing so, being aware of our bodies and how they feel in that moment.

Those moments when we’re frayed and teetering on the edge of personal sanity–maybe that tween’s sass got a little too bold, or the toddler clogged the toilet with a roll of toilet paper–pausing for a moment, taking a breath (or ten), before speaking and engaging with the situation can be the difference between tears (ours and theirs), and making a deeper, calmer connection.

Mindfulness Practice #5:

Slow Down

Too often in today’s world, motherhood (and life for that matter) is a constant race. It resembles the cinematic cut scenes of busy New York streets filled with blurred people rushing down sidewalks while cars honk beside them.

Frankly, those scenes (as well as their similarity to life) make me nauseous.

As mothers we rush from one task to the next. From one kid’s activity to another.

Our rears spend more time in our vehicle seats than anywhere else.

With all this constant ‘going’, we miss out on so much.

The stress of getting out the door on time causes us to miss the opportunity to warmly and lovingly teach our son how to tie his shoes, and instead we might sigh dramatically and tie his shoes for him.

In our hurry to get everyone in their car seats, we might miss the sweet smooch our little one wants to share with us.

Rushing through bath time, or story time could cause us to miss out on giggles, grins, and little discussions that could open new doors of discovery for our children–or even for us.

Practicing Mindfulness

Snuggles with littles don’t last forever, because those little ones won’t remain little for long. Taking the time to enjoy the closeness of those little warm bodies while they talk about their day, is something you won’t ever regret.

Even now my three year old is picky about when she is willing to snuggle. I don’t foresee many more years of snuggling in our future.

We need to slow down.

Know Better, Do Better

Or Better Known As Practice Makes Perfect

Mindfulness isn’t easy.

It takes practice, practice, and even more practice. There’s a reason it’s called practicing mindfulness because it isn’t something that comes naturally to us.

Human-beings are selfish by nature, and we focus on our wants and desires to the exclusion of others things. With this knowledge, we need to give ourselves love and grace.

Take those breaths discussed above, and practice really connecting to the moments around us. We must get our heads out of the past or the future and into the present where they belong.

We can’t change the past, and we have no control over the future. What we do have is right now. We must choose wisely.

One of the books I’ve been reading on mindfulness:

Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters, by Carla Naumburg. You can get it here.

Until next time,

wellofaith

The Words We Use-- wellofaith.com

The Words We Use

An Invisible Weapon

As a child I remember hearing the saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

The problem is, words can hurt.

They can leave scars no one can see.

Unlike sticks and stones, the damage done won’t leave visible bruising to the body; Neighbors, friends, family, and teachers won’t see the injuries.

That doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there.

It doesn’t mean the wounds aren’t real.

Words are the invisible weapon that can do lifelong damage and never heal.

It is not what goes into the mouth the defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. –Matthew 15:11

I’m Going to Be Real With You

My children have these unseen injuries, and I’m the one who caused them.

How’s that for real?

the-words-we-use-hurt-bear-wof.c.jpeg.jpeg

I can try to rationalize the circumstances when I used words as weapons against the little people God has entrusted me with; it won’t make a bit of difference.

The fact is, I made HUGE mistakes.

I spoke in anger and frustration instead of love and respect.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. –Proverbs 18:21

My tone caused as much damage (if not more) than the words I used. Maybe I could pat myself on the back and say, “Well, I’ve never called them names.” That means nothing when I know I’ve bruised and battered them with words of indifference.

Instead of praising them for their imaginations and efforts, I’ve asked, “Why would you do that?” Instead of saying, “Thank you for trying to help”; it’s been, “Look what you’ve done.”

These words have hurt them time and time again.

Realizing this now, tears at my heart. I’m bleeding from each of the wounds I caused my children.

The Words We Use--wellofaith.com

I swore I would never treat my children the way my siblings and I were treated when we were growing up. I swore my kids would never have a reason to question whether they are loved.

Yet, here I am.

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perversness in it breaks the spirit. –Proverbs 15:4

When my children acted out, I wondered what was causing them to misbehave. I never stopped to consider it could have been my actions and reactions leading to their outbursts. That my words, said in frustration, anger, or disinterest, might have led them to lash out in search of some sort of control.

This family the LORD has blessed me with deserves more than that.

I Can Change

My children will not grow up questioning my love, or remembering only the harshly spoken words.

I will not be the reason their self-esteem suffers, or they turn away from God and family. I will not push them away with my own actions.

Our Heavenly Father knows my sins. He knows my heart, and my weaknesses. He trusted me to raise these children, and I will do my best, and when I stumble I’ll turn to Him.

I will control my words–both the words themselves, and the tone of my voice. I will focus on praise; on building up my children into strong, mature, loving, adults. I will do my best to let them spread their wings, to make mistakes, to be helpful, to explore life, and be the people God created them to be.

Most of All, I Will Pray

I’ll pray for guidance.

For patience.

For understanding.

I’ll pray for a kind tone and a joyful spirit.

I’ll pray for a million questions from my almost three-year old, so that I may show her through actions and words that she matters.

I’ll pray for my son to try new things–even when they involve me sitting back and ignoring the mess, because I want him to see as well as hear how proud I am of him, and how much I believe in him.

I’ll pray for understanding as my tween daughter finds more and more interests that feel far too worldly for someone still so young.

Finally, I’ll pray for each and every one of you who have faced these same problems. Those who have hurt their friends, families, and loved-ones with weapons so powerful they can damage people indefinitely.

Heavenly Father,

I pray today that you help each of us control our tongues. That we may build one another up in this world. That we use our words to soothe and encourage, not to draw blood. Give us pause when we speak, that our children will not be a casualty of our sinful ways.

Amen.

If you feel led, please share this post so it may remind others they’re not alone in their struggles with the words we use.

Blessings,

Sare Signature

parenting love

That Time As A Teen When I Was A Perfect Parent

I once was a perfect parent. Before I had children of my own.
When I was a Perfect Parent

I Was a Perfect Parent

As a teenager, one who obviously knew everything about everything, I believed I would be a certain way as an adult. I was one of those people who believed I knew how to handle whatever life had in store for me. This included parenting.

*Insert slightly insane laughter here*

There is a meme floating around the internet that states: “I was a perfect parent. Then I had children.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so incredibly accurate.

Too many people (me included) believe they’ve got it all figured out–life, fitness, parenting, their make-up; only to have reality kick them solidly in the solar plexus.

My old friend, Reality likes to remind me of its presence regularly.

When I was still a perfect parent–living under my parents’ roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me.

I wouldn’t keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I’d understand them, and treat them with “respect”.

I’m sure God chuckled at my plans.

My parents did.

When I was still a perfect parent--living under my parents' roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me. I wouldn't keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I'd understand them, and treat them with

The Reality Of Parenting Is Drastically Different

Before the birth of my youngest daughter, my niece and I spent some time sitting on a bench overlooking the Puget Sound.

The sun was warm, the sky was clear, the seagulls were begging scraps of our lunches. It was a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle we’d been dealing with for the last few months.

Taking a few moments to enjoy the beauty the Lord created, and to truly appreciate it, helped relax my anxious heart.

It also helped me understand something about myself:

I’m not a perfect parent, and I don’t really have this parenting thing down.

In fact, teen me would spend a lot of time rolling her eyes at adult me.

I always thought my parents were strict, but they were nothing compared to how I am as a parent.

Part of this stems from a moderate battle with anxiety, but not all of it.

Simply put, my priorities have changed, as have my views.

God is the Perfect Parent

God has blessed us with four beautiful children, not to be perfect parents, but to teach them and train them up in what is righteous.

Much to their dismay, that includes horrors like sweeping, making their beds, cleaning bathrooms, and picking up toys.

It also requires them to spend time with us, to not put their friends above the LORD or their family, and to forgive each other when we stumble.

Something else that comes along with this is the amount of freedom we allow our children to have.

Our eldest is only eleven, and regardless of how my husband and I were raised the world is a much different place today than it was twenty years ago.

Yes, she can do solitary things without constant supervision, and she has experienced the joy of middle school ministry events (where her mother wasn’t invovled), but there are rules that have to be followed, and consequences if those rules are ignored.

This is a relatively new freedom for her, and I still have several bad moments where I want to keep her in the house away from any chance of getting hit by a speeding car or abducted (see, anxiety).

I’m taking it a day at a time, and maybe I’ll be more relaxed when they’re visiting me in the retirement home.

The point is, there are no perfect parents on Earth, except God, and of course those who have never had children.

We as a society (especially women) spend so much time judging the merits of one person over another that we seem to forget we’re all just stumbling along doing the best we can.

Have some people lost their way?

Yes, but that isn’t for us to judge.

There are people in this world who have been called to help those who have fallen.

Instead of casting blame and pointing fingers, it’s time for us to come together and build each other up, and to raise our own children with love, compassion, and grace.

Homeschooling: The Right Choice for Us

We know that at this season in our lives, homeschooling (HS) is the way to go. I don't pretend to know what the future holds, or what God will place on our hearts at a later date. Right now, however, this is our great calling.

This post contains affiliate links. Please click here to read the full disclosure. 

People who’ve known me my entire life were surprised when I announced that at the end of my daughter’s first grade school year we were removing her from public school (PS), and beginning a new journey. We’d decided after a lot of prayer, discussion, and consideration that we were going to travel on the Homeschool Highway (which, by the way is an excellent book).

Our Reason

Many won’t understand this, but even more people will. As a parent it is our responsibility to do what is best for our children. In our case, we felt that included removing our daughter from the questionable curriculum, associations, and experiences she was having in the public school system. As a first grader she had become far more worldly than any six year old should be.

She and I had many discussions about what she wanted from her education, and honestly, neither her father nor I felt she would receive that in the public school environment.

Where public school is not necessarily *EVIL* and works well for many people, our goal was to allow our daughter the freedom to become so much more than we are. We wanted her to have the freedom to become whoever and whatever she wanted to be.

Where We Are Now

Not much has changed since we made the decision to pull her from public school. We knew then as we know now that during this season in our lives, homeschooling (HS) is the way to go. She is thriving, as is her brother who has joined her in a life of continuous learning. We’ve been on this journey for three years now, and it continues to bring blessings to our family.

I don’t pretend to know what the future holds, or what God will place on our hearts at a later date. Right now, however, this is still our great calling.

Have you made the decision to homeschool your children? What was the deciding factor for your family?

Blessings,

Sare

 

Changes

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…
1 Corinthians 15:51-52a

On May 6th we welcomed our third child into the world.

She is beautiful, wonderful, and such a blessing to our family.

After two weeks of labor, where i didn’t dilate past four because of scar tissue, I was finally admitted to the hospital. Six hours later, our cuddle-bug was snug in my arms.

She was born at 1527 weighing 8 pounds 3 oz and 21 inches long.

Changes are coming.

Blessings, Sare

Working Through It

The past few weeks have been hard. Events I’d like to have control over, but don’t, brought my father’s death back to the forefront of my mind, and my emotions are raw. These emotions seem to be reflected back at me through my daughter as well. She is such an amazingly strong and loving little lady, but I see the sadness lurking behind her eyes. While she is happier now than she was a few months ago, I still see the shadows that dim her happiness.

It concerns me that I see in her a child trying to take control of her surroundings. So much like me, only far too young to have those responsibilities. I do everything I can to remind her to be a kid, to keep her focused on things more positive than the random emotions tearing at my own heart.

We’re working through it.

God’s working through us.

I know there is a reason to all this, and I have faith that in the end it will all be for the better. Until that time I do what I can to keep the balance. I workout to strengthen my body for God’s work, and I spend time with Him daily. I turn to Him in thanksgiving as well as for strength.

Some days are easier than others. There are great days, and then there are days when I’d rather never get out of bed again. On those days even sunshine doesn’t seem as bright, and I am reminded just how imperfect I really am.

I’m thankful that God loves me anyway.

So, together, God, my daughter, and I will work through it.

Together.

Why I’m Saying ‘No’.

When people hear about homeschool, they tend to ask the question that every homeschooling parent rolls his or her eyes at. “What about socialization?”

Let me put this in perspective for you. First, as the saying goes, “I’ve seen the village, and I don’t want it raising my children.” Second, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know I find true discomfort being ‘social’. You also know that I ignore that idiosyncrasy for my children’s benefit.

Obviously we're an un-socialized family.
Obviously we’re an un-socialized family.

My children, but especially my seven year old daughter, have no shortage of socialization. They’re social with children at church, at Awana, at our local homeschool meet-up, and at various play dates. They interact regularly with both children younger and older than they are, as well as adults.

People who have never educated their children at home have a hard time understanding just how many possibilities there are to make sure children get adequate time with others. In fact, sometimes there are just too many possibilities. There is such a thing as too much socializing. Not just for the moms, like me, who find socializing to be more exhausting than manual labor, but for the children as well.

God has called us, as parents, to raise our children, to teach them, and to train them. While that does include spending time running around outside, or playing “Narnia” (feel free to insert whatever imaginary game your children currently find interesting–this seems to be my daughter’s favorite this month) make-believe with friends, that isn’t the only thing. We need to spend time together at home. Our children need to see what it means to be a family. This includes responsibilities,like chores and actual school work. After all, those bathrooms don’t clean themselves.

Normally, we don’t have a problem balancing socialization with our at home studies. Keyword there is normally. This week is anything but normal. In fact this is a week where socialization is threatening to take over our lives. With that in mind I think a cave far away from people sounds delightful. This is where the sometimes magical word, ‘no’ comes in. For both my want of a cave (no, Sare, you can’t run away to a cave), and for adding anything else to our already packed plate.

It’s okay to say no.

In fact, children whose parents say no don’t appear to grow up with extra arms or an uncontrollable need to brush their hair with eating utensils (I’m looking at you, Ariel). At least, not that I’ve ever seen.

Repeat after me: It’s okay to say no.

You’re not a bad parent if you do. Ignore that guilt. Your children will survive if they don’t get to hangout with Susie Q tomorrow. Especially if she already hung out with two other friends this week. Children need downtime as much as they need socialization. Sometimes, I think they need it more.

I’m saying no, because there is so much on our schedule this week we haven’t had a chance to enjoy each other. All our time together feels rushed. We ARE rushed. I homeschool my children, because I want them to have every opportunity to excel and to thrive. I don’t believe a person can really thrive when they are so busy they don’t have a chance to breathe, or process what they’ve already done.

So, I’m choosing to embrace the word no, and I’ve decided I will not feel guilty about it.

At least not too guilty.

In what ways have you embraced ‘no’?

Sare

What’s My Calling?

Recently I’ve been thinking about what I’m meant to do with my life. I’m almost finished with my journalism degree (finally!), but I don’t know where I’m supposed to go from here. I’ve got massive student loan debt hanging over my head (and honestly, my husband’s head since I stay home and teach our children and he goes to work every day, bending to the ever changing will of his employer–the USMC).

I love writing, obviously, or else I wouldn’t currently owe the national debt of a small country. However, I’ve done the whole writing novels thing, and while I enjoyed it, I feel that was a different season. I’d love to blog and actually make money doing that, but that means someone other than my nearest and dearest would actually need to read and follow my blog(s) so they would be worth monetizing.

In the not too distant future my husband and I would like to move into a home of our own. One that we own (or at the very least the bank allows us to SAY we own), where our children can create memories, put down roots, and grow into wonderful adults. A place where those same children will run around in the sunshine while they are supposed to be helping me pull the weeds in the garden.

Today I sat down with God and made a plan. There was prayer involved (and more will be needed), and long talks with God as I figured out what needed to be done to achieve this dream without the burden being fully on my husband. As I’ve told him in the past, he’s not alone in this world. We’re partners and we’re in it together. The future doesn’t rest on his shoulders alone, he has me and a loving Heavenly Father who will guide us through.

I know it is time to stop wondering what my calling is, and worrying about if I’ll ever find it. I’ve placed it firmly in the LORD’s capable hands. I’m a writer, and I need to remember that. I need to write, and I need to help provide for my family–okay, I’ll be providing for the families of the student loan lenders, but it amounts to the same thing. So, what exactly do I need from the wonderful prayer warriors who may stumble upon my humble ramblings?

I need your help with prayers.

I’m not sure where I’m going from here. I don’t know just how writing is going to start paying my student loans, but I know in my heart that God will guide me. That He has a plan already, and I wouldn’t have taken the steps I’ve taken if they weren’t going to lead somewhere amazing.

Please, Please, Please, Pray for this mother who wants nothing more than to raise her children. To teach them, watch them grow, and show them how to be a successful, God-Loving adults. Pray that I listen to what the LORD places on my heart, and that He guides me toward my calling. Pray that I continue to fully serve Him, and never forsake Him as I strive for my goal. Pray that my goals are in line with His plans for me, and that I never lose sight of what is truly important.

With your prayers and encouragement, I know I’ll follow the LORD faithfully.

May God Bless You and Yours,

Sare

Loss

On December 30, a dear friend of my niece’s went home to the LORD. She was a young woman with plans and dreams. She was a new mom with a little boy about the same age as my own son. Her loss was as unexpected to her family as it was to my niece. Although I didn’t know her personally I’d like to take a moment to pray for those affected by her loss.

Please, join me in praying for her family and loved ones.

Heavenly Father,

May her family and loved ones find peace in Your Greatness. May their hearts be filled with happy memories of her love and laughter. May her son grow up hearing wonderful stories of her love for him. LORD I ask that you comfort her family and friends while they grieve and help them to find solid ground once again.

Amen.

Sare