Monday, July 6, 2015

Home Education - Count the Cost

In recent years, in light of various problems in the public school system, more and more parents are deciding to homeschool their children.   As a veteran in the field of homeschooling, this doesn’t thrill me like you think it would; in fact, it concerns me.

Back when I was just entering the season of teaching my kids at home, only parents who were passionate about having their kids at home, were taking the risk of being ostracized and thought of as socially rebellious.   

We researched, we attended conferences, we read everything we could get our hands on and we spent hours upon hours poring over curriculum choices, determined to get the best fit for our child.   In other words – we counted the cost before jumping into the water.

Many who choose homeschooling these days, are doing so in response to something negative they are trying to avoid in the schools and they aren’t really taking the time to count the cost of what it takes to successfully teach their kids at home.   In other words, it’s not their passion for being with their kids that drives them to their decision – it’s something surface level and it won’t sustain the hard work and dedication of time that it takes to homeschool their kids. 

Time is the main element that must be considered when contemplating homeschooling. 

What I’m seeing these days, are parents who are reacting to something negative in the school system, pulling their kids out, getting them home with no preparation whatsoever, throwing books at them and then putting them back in school at the first sign of trouble or frustration.

This is not homeschooling.

In order to make the best decision for your child, you must first ask yourself a few important questions:

Are you willing to sacrifice your own time?

Are you willing to forfeit a 2nd paycheck to stay at home?

Are you willing to give up your own social agenda (the gym, Junior League, ministries, lunch with friends)?

Do you have the time to work with your child when they need help?

If you want to be successful at this lifestyle, time must be a priority.

Homeschooling doesn’t just take time – it takes commitment.

Commitment is the second most important factor when considering homeschooling.

There will be good days and bad days and days when you are tempted to call the big yellow bus to come pick them up.   And, believe me….that will happen!

There will also be days when you’re sick or they’re sick or the toddler has poured flour over the entire kitchen floor and you’ll have to shelve the Math and spend the rest of the day just getting your house cleaned up.

How will you react?

Will you throw your hands in the air and declare that you’re not cut out for this lifestyle?

Will you give up on all the progress you’ve made, just because of a few bad days?

Well, I’m here to tell you what a mistake that would be!

Kids aren’t yo-yo’s!

They shouldn’t be yanked back and forth, using the school as an alternative when the going gets tough.

Homeschooling takes commitment!

Commitment to what you believe in.  Commitment to your children.  Commitment to trying hard things and showing your kids that you don’t quit when you hit a bump in the road.

Are you up for that?  

Have you really counted the cost?

Another aspect of commitment is embracing the lifestyle, maybe not forever, but for a season.

If you leave your decision open for evaluation year to year, there will always be an easy out and someone will take it at some point.   That's just human nature.   We always think the grass is greener on the other side.

So, instead of committing for one year, why not commit for all of elementary or all of middle school or high school?   In other words, give it a fair chance and stick to it for a season, rather than tossing your child back and forth between you and school?  

Even the Bible speaks of not starting something until you count the cost:

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.
Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost
to see if he has enough money to complete it?
For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it,
everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying
‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ ”
(Luke 14:28-29)

Counting the cost of homeschooling means that you take it seriously – not as a temporary fix to a public school problem.

Can you handle it? 

Are you willing to go the distance?

Count the cost before you commit.

Your kids deserve it.

 *If you are considering homeschooling, feel free to email me any questions you might have.*

Saturday, July 4, 2015

This is Life - My Weekly Update

Well, happy 4th of July!  And, no...I'm not going to write some long patriotic post because if you're on social media at all today, that's all you're going to see and I'm not one to follow along, so today you're just going to get my weekly update - that happens to fall on this very special holiday.

 This week has had some pretty important events take place in our family.   This sweet little name on the side of this box is one of them!    Ted and Alex finally chose a name for their baby girl (who is due in 2 more months)!    I love that Alex chose to use part of Ted's name, which also happens to be my dad's name, so it is extra special to me.

Speaking of Ted and Alex.....they are actually coming up on their first anniversary ALREADY!  I can't believe their first year of marriage is already gone!   They've made the best of a hard year of living away from home, but that's another thing that happened this week......they are moving back to our area and we are all so HAPPY!   More on that in the future!

I've been working on some homeschooling posts this week, hoping to get them on the blog and my homeschooling FB group page by Monday.     With all the extra holiday festivities going on this weekend, it will be a challenge.  

 With school starting so early now, in August, homeschooling moms are usually working on plans during the summer months, but I've heard many of them say they aren't even thinking about it until July is over.   I've actually had the same mindset.   I'm going to enjoy July and then dedicate August to some hard core planning sessions!

And....speaking of summer.....that means CAMP!   This mound of laundry means that Collin just returned from youth camp this week, after being gone for 5 days.

Laundry and all - I was just glad to have my kid home and hear all the stories from his week away.

You know, I'm glad that it takes most of the teenage years to prep a child for the world, because it gives parents the ability to grieve a little at a time, as we watch them grow.

With every new adventure, every letting out of the rope, these kids grow a little more and we see the future a little better.

Whether it's grown kids moving back, grandbabies on the way, or teens coming home from camp - you see that life is really about the ebb and flow, the coming and going, and you have no choice but to ride the waves and enjoy every step.

And, so far, I am thoroughly enjoying it all!

I hope you've had a great week and are on your way to a wonderful weekend!

Happy Independence Day!   Stay patriotic and keep praying for our country!

(Couldn't help myself!)    
Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What I've Learned in 26 Years of Marriage

26 years ago today, I married the man of my dreams.   I didn't pray for a perfect man or a rich man or a famous man.   Instead, I prayed for a man who would love me and adore me and treat me well.

I got all of that and more.

When you're young you have certain ideas about what marriage is about.  You want to have fun and be happy.  We've certainly had our share of fun, but the real love is built in the trenches.  That's why couples say they love each other more now, than they did in the beginning.

Life does that to you.

Actually, it can go the opposite way too, but that's what marriage is all about - enduring the good and the bad and still coming out.....together.

I've learned that over 26 years of marriage, you will fight - sometimes about the same thing for years - but you will also laugh about the same things for years.   What matters is that you laugh more than fight. 

I've learned that communication is the key to success.   As hard as it is, it has to be done.   A marriage can't last if there isn't communication both ways.

I've learned that marriage is not 50-50.   It's absolutely 100-100!   Each person giving their all, to make this thing work - all the time.

I've learned that marriage is about being a team and there can only be two on the team.  No parent, no child, no outside person can be on the team.   It's just the two of you, united and strong.  

I've learned that children are an amazing blessing.   They bond you together in a way that is god-ordained.   But, they can also be a dividing factor, if not held in the right perspective.   For all the love you have for your babies, showing them what a healthy marriage looks like is important and will hopefully set them up for a healthy one of their own, someday.

I've learned that having time away from the home and job and responsibilities can refuel your marriage and must be done regularly.    There's something about getting away that lets down that guard and stress level that hangs over your heads during the week.    When you drive off toward a few days away, you can literally feel the stress go down and it allows you to look at that person and remember all the things you love about them.

I've also learned that though everyone is annoying at times, you have to focus on the good.  Don't pick your spouse apart, because all you're doing is chipping away at the love and you might wake up one day and find there is nothing left to chip.  

I've learned that opposites always attract, so don't expect your spouse to be like you, because they won't be.    I firmly believe that this was God's way of making us unselfish.    You see, if you never had to give in or compromise, you would always get your way and be a selfish pig.   On the other hand, when two people are opposite - one has to bend sometimes and then at other times, the other bends, and that's called give and take.   A marriage filled with takers is no marriage at all.   The only marriages that last are those that practice the give and take.  

Last but not least, I've learned that getting old together is wonderful and amazing and a whole new season and I like it.  We enjoy our kids, we enjoy our nights at home, we laugh at how many pair of glasses we both have, we enjoy the idea of having a grandbaby and we know that there is nothing that we can't make it through, because we've already made it through 26 years of easy and hard times.

We are still in love - but more so - and in so many different ways than when we started out.

I wouldn't change one thing about the last 26 years.  The ups and downs and everything in between, have made us who we are and I'm proud of our little team.

Here's to the next 26!

**Every year I share Our Story.  Click HERE to read about it.**

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dear Same Sex Couples

Dear Same Sex Couples.....

There's so much I want to say, but I know I have to find just the right words, or not one of them will matter.

Let me start off by saying that I'm a follower of Jesus Christ - also known as a Christian. Depending on what kind of person you are, this may or may not offend you.

Second - I want to set the record straight before going any farther and say that I don't hate you.   In fact, if you are a decent person, I would probably like you just fine.    You know why?  Because I like respectable, kind human beings.   And, hopefully, you would enjoy my company as well, and we could actually get along.  

Now that we have all of that cleared up, let's move on to what I feel you need to hear from someone like me.

I respect your right to fall in love with whomever you fall in love with.   I ask that you respect my choice as well.

I respect your right to have joy, happiness, a family, benefits and health insurance.  I just ask that you pay for it yourself, the same way I have to.

I respect your right to public displays of a certain extent.  

I respect your right to open up gay bars and businesses that exist for the sake of gay people and couples.  If I walk into your business, I would not insist that you serve me or change your rules just for me.  

I respect your right to start a religion, open a church, and worship whatever you choose to worship.  I would not walk into your church and insist that you change your beliefs to suit me.

I respect your right to march in the streets and proclaim your lifestyle.  I will not stand on the side of the road and spit on you or harm you in any way.

I respect your right to do whatever pleases you in your bedroom.  I will never ask about that part of your life and I beg you not to share your details with me.

Now that you see that someone like me can have respect for you as a decent human being, let me tell you what I would like from you:

I ask that you respect my people - called Christians - and treat us with the same respect you deserve.

I ask that you quit insisting that everyone agree with your life choices.   They are YOUR choices, not ours.  Why do you insist we play the way you do?

I ask that you refrain from gross displays of  "affection" in public, which tend to happen right in front of children.   What are you trying to prove?   When we see a man and a woman doing that, we are just as disgusted and tell them to get a room.   You are not special.   Either get a room, go home, or get the heck out of the way.  

I ask that you quit trying to ruin private businesses that won't marry you or make your cupcakes.  Really?  Do you know anyone...ANYONE..who has struggled, spent all their savings and time, building a business from the ground up?  You must not, because if you did, you wouldn't be purposely targeting these people, just to prove your point, get your way and shut them down.   You would respect them, the same way you want to be respected.

I ask that you quit using the word tolerance, because you clearly don't know the meaning.   You shout it, claim it, use it, announce it and then you turn right around and berate us, hate us, insist we believe in your ways or else.   You threaten us, email us, spew filth at us - all because you can't tolerate us.

Do you realize how hypocritical that is?

Listen, when did you go from being a regular person to a raving lunatic, pushing your agenda down everyone's throat?

Are you happy?   Do you feel content?  Do you feel satisfied when you go to sleep at night?

If you are a decent human being, and yet, you're caught up in this blatant attack on Christians, there is no way you will ever be respected.

So, human to human, I'm begging you......take a step back and think about what you're making yourself out to be.

This is not about LOVE.

Your entire agenda is about HATE.

Your entire range of motion is about insisting on us accepting you, yet you do nothing to draw us into your heart.  All you do is show a belligerent, angry, hateful, intolerant side that pushes people away and causes division.

You want to be accepted, but you've forgotten how to accept others who aren't like you.

You want to be tolerated, but you've forgotten what it means to tolerate.

You want to live a "normal" life, but you won't allow others to do the same.

The bottom line is this....God made each one of us.

Some of us choose to live by his standards and some of us don't.   That doesn't give either one of us the right to hate, harm, destroy, hurt, berate or belittle the other.

But, please, stop insisting that we all get on board with your lifestyle choice.   It's YOUR choice and just like you have the right to live it, we have the right to dislike it.  

That's the true meaning of being a decent human being - not always insisting on getting your own way.

That kind of behavior should have ended around the time you got out of diapers.

Now it's time to put on your big boy undies and go out and make the world a better place by being a decent citizen who serves, helps, loves, and works for the good of everyone.

Change the world by being decent.  

And that has nothing to do with your sexual preference.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Power of Resistance

Have you ever felt like there was some part of your life that was always under attack?  Some habit you can't kick, some hurdle you can't jump over, some thought process that keeps showing up?

Have you voiced to yourself critical words and harsh accusations about how you need to get "it" together?

If you have, you're not alone, and there is something you can do to move on from these constant attacks and negative voices and it's so simply profound that you aren't going to believe it can work, but I believe it will.

And, the Bible tells me so!

In James 4:7, God says...."Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

I've read that verse many times, but today is the first day that I actually picked it apart and really thought about the power behind it.

To RESIST something is to PUSH AWAY.

Each one of us struggle with something - a weakness, if you will - that continues to pop up and keep us from growing in the right direction.  

It's that thing that drags you down, brings out the negative voices about yourself, keeps you from relationships or promotions or even the simplest accomplishments in life.

It's guilt producing, shaming, tempting, and paralyzing.

It's a snare and a trap and Satan would love to keep it cropping up for the rest of your life, in order to keep you from moving forward in that area.

Even Jesus experienced Satan's schemes while he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.  (Matthew 4:1-11)
But, of course, Jesus resisted his temptations and schooled him on all things holy.

And, according to James 4:7, we have that power too!

The scripture doesn't say to timidly shoo away the devil and hope that he doesn't come back.
It doesn't say ask him nicely or cower in the corner.


In other words.....TAKE ACTION!

And, when you do take action.....HE WILL FLEE!   The Good Book says so!

How many times have you felt defeated in that area of weakness and surrendered your will, thinking that you would never beat it?

That's not what the Bible says to do!

You're to stand firm, resist, and walk in confidence!

I can tell you that after reading and listening to some famous Bible teachers and speakers over the years, there have been times that I felt like it was almost inevitable that I would fall to sin and end up on the Oprah show or maybe even the 700 Club, talking about my climb back to the top.   I literally felt fearful that I had no power over what Satan would throw at me.   But, that's the danger of trusting in the words of men, instead of God, huh?

Thankfully, that's not how it has to be!

You don't have to succumb to temptation or even bad habits caused by the devil's schemes.

You have the power to RESIST him and cause him to flee!

Just like Benaiah, when he went down into the snowy pit and killed a lion (2 Samuel 23:20) or David when he struck down Goliath.  They knew they would have victory because of their faith in God and we should be no different.

God's word says it and we should believe it!

So the next time you feel that temptation or defeat coming on, take action and RESIST it.

Then keep moving forward, showing the devil that he has no power over you and showing the Lord that you believe what he says.

Live victoriously and stand firm.

You can do it!

For the Bible tells you so!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From The Back Porch Looking In

I love looking into my office from the back porch.

I love the mix of items that you have to look past....

The Tiffany lamp that has been moved from room to room until I finally put it in the trash one day and David drug it back out.   This is where he placed it and where it still stands.

The Raggedy Ann and Andy bucket - it brings back memories of the dolls I had when I was a child, and.... it's just cute.

The chippy-peely window frames of this old house.   They've seen their share of paint and wear and tear and one day, they'll have to be replaced.   But for now, they are still doing their job of holding the glass that peers into these rooms, where our feet walk, our hearts live and our memories keep stacking up, day after day.

I love looking into my office from the back porch.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day

Yesterday was Father's Day and celebrating that day can be a little tricky when you've lost both your father and your father-in-law.    It just makes for a bittersweet day, plain and simple.

However, I still woke up with an amazing husband who happens to be a great dad, as well as two great sons, so I have much to be thankful for.

After church, I decided to take David out for the day.  We had our family over the night before, so Father's Day consisted of David, Collin and I.  

We drove up the road to one of our favorite places to eat.....The Pickett House.

The Pickett House is an old boarding house, made into a restaurant, and they serve the food family style.  

The menu consists of Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Lima Beans, Greens, Chicken and Dumplings and Homemade Biscuits and Cornbread.   Oh, and all the Sweet Tea you can drink, of course.

The tables are long, allowing for at least two families to share the table, which the hostess assigns to you when you pay.    So, share the table with strangers.   Kind of a lost art for these days.

The food is all you can eat and it's served family style, meaning they bring platters and bowls right to the table, filled with all of that homestyle cooking.    

It was the perfect place for David to be on Father's Day.

Needless to say, we ate until we couldn't eat another bite.

The great thing about going to the Pickett House is it's a beautiful drive, through hills and trees, so it's a nice change of scenery for us.

We even stopped off at a scenic overlook just to see what the lake looked like after all the rain Texas has had in the past month.  

Of course, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't admit that I fell asleep on the way back.    I can't help it!  The car puts me to sleep.   I'm so thankful that David likes to drive and can, because I'm pretty useless on a road trip!

All in all, we had a great day, just being out of the house and enjoying the blessings of being together.

Father's Day can be tough, but if you focus on what you DO have, instead of what you don't, it can make all the difference.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Who Were You "Before"?

Yesterday I had one of those moments when a simple act or picture of something takes your thoughts away to some other place and time.

It all started with these earrings.

I've grown old wearing these same earrings, just as I used to see my mom doing with her favorite earrings.

I used to gripe at her for not being more adventurous with her jewelry and branching out, at least with one other choice of earrings.    It just seemed so boring to wear the same thing, day after day.

Little did I know that I would be there, one day.

As I laid these little pearls on the bathroom counter, it occurred to me that I've become set in some ways and though I may vary here and there, I do have my habits and go-to things that have just become a part of who I am.  It also occurred to me that wearing the same thing every day eliminates stress and making decisions and I'm all for that these days.

Later, in the kitchen - where all good talks take place - my teen and I were having a conversation about church and serving and all the ways that his dad and I served, long before he came along.

He genuinely looked surprised as I listed all the things we used to do in the church - committees we served on, classes we taught, musicals we took part in, and so many other ministries we gave our time to.  

It occurred to me that he didn't know I had a "before" life.   His view of me started with his arrival on this earth and no sooner.

I thought back to my mom's dolphin earrings and realized that she probably had a totally different style before I came to know her.   Afterall, she had twenty two years of life before me.  Plenty of time to wear different jewelry.

It's funny how we see things.

We truly have such limited view from where we stand and people are made of so much more than what we see from our place in life.

The beauty is that God sees.

He knew us before we were even physically born and he knows us now.

I think it's a good idea to tell our kids some of who we were before they came along and it's important to ask our parents the same questions.

Next time I see my mom, I think I'll ask her what kind of earrings she wore when she was young.

Maybe she'll say small silver hoops with pearls - when she had a "before" life.

I really want to know.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Potato Soup - Coming Right Up!

Potato Soup is one of my all-time favorite dishes to cook in the crock pot!  It's simple and only calls for minimum ingredients, so you can make it any time and there's a great chance you might already have everything on hand.

I first discovered Potato Soup at a restaurant called Bennigans.   Anyone remember that place?   Oh well...back to the recipe...

Potato Soup

1 bag of frozen cubed hashbrowns
1 box or 2 cans of Chicken or Vegetable broth
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 soup can of milk or water (make sure potatoes are covered with enough liquid)
1 cup chopped onion (these are optional and I use frozen)
Salt, pepper

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (for topping)
1 cup bacon pieces (for topping)

Put everything in the crockpot (except for toppings)
and cook on low all day or 5-6 hours (depending on how hot your crock pot cooks)
until potatoes are tender enough to smash.

About 2-3 times during the day stir the soup and toward the end of the day,
begin to smash the potatoes, bringing them to the desired consistency.
(If you aren't there to stir, just make sure to have plenty of liquid, so the soup won't burn)

You can make the soup as thick or thin as you desire by adding more liquid 
and leaving the potatoes whatever size you desire.

When the soup is done, spoon into bowls and top with cheese and bacon.


Monday, June 15, 2015

What I'm Working on this Week

Hello Monday!
It's been a full weekend of birthday parties, church, backyard building projects and a little relaxing here and there and now it's a new week full of all kinds of interesting happenings.

First, June came in with a bang!  Hurricane season started June 1st and now we are looking at our first tropical storm hitting this evening.   It will make landfall about an hour from here, but we will get our fair share of wind and rain, for sure.   However, after watching all the flash flooding in central Texas in May, I'm really not going to complain because we do get warnings and even though evacuations are the biggest pain you can imagine, they still don't compare to having 6 feet of water in your house or your belongings swept down stream!

So, as long as the pine trees keep their places, we will survive!

I've got a few things I'm really trying to work on this week:

1. Make Over Your Mornings - a 14-day course on creating a good morning routine, which sets up the rest of the day for success.   I will say that this morning I put "exercise" on the day's agenda and actually accomplished it, because it was scheduled.  Yay!

2. I start a new Bible Study tonight with Jennie Allen (online) called Anything.   I have already read the book (back in the Fall), but it's worth doing again as a Bible study.  The kick off is tonight at 8pm, so it's not too late to sign up!

3. I'm organizing all of my writing into folders and files - on computer and on paper - and it's a huge task.  It will be worth it in the end, though, because I will know where everything is and what the progress is with each piece.

4. I'm starting a new book this week called The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins.   I'm looking forward to reading this and being inspired by Jeff.  His writing style is similar to mine, so it's some easy (but good) writing.

5. I'm continuing to write in my 1000 Gifts Journal.   I find myself getting better and better at noticing little things that are a blessing, but I still need a lot of practice!

I'm really enjoying the summer days of not having to put on my "teacher" hat and letting Collin get a little bit of extra sleep.   I know I have to use these days wisely though, because they will go by fast and August is "school planning month", so all of the household projects that I've been waiting to do, have got to be done before then.

The good news is that, usually by August, we are both ready to get back to our routine, so it makes the work a little easier at that point.

I'm hoping to share some recipes here soon, such as Potato Soup and a new dish I want to try, from The Pioneer Woman.   Hint: it has the word CURRY in the title, so when I say "new"....I mean it!

In the mean time....I need to get back to work!  It's laundry day and the clothes are calling me!

Have a blessed Monday!

See you soon!