Thursday, July 30, 2015

We're On Vacation!

Good morning!

We are currently on vacation - running around North Texas and Oklahoma and having a great time!

We left Monday, heading for The Emerging Sound Music conference, where Collin would be learning to write music with some great Christian artists.    He was a little nervous about the week, due to being on crutches.

As you know, he has a level 2 sprain and hasn't been able to walk on his foot since last week.

We had no idea how he would get around the college campus on crutches, while hauling a backpack and guitar, but when we got there, there were several servant-hearted friends who offered to help him get around, so we were really blessed by that.

The first night we got a text from him saying he just wasn't sure he would last all week.   But, we told him to get some good sleep and eat well and remember to rest his foot when he needed to.   By the third day he was getting in the groove of things and having fun, so looks like he'll make it to Friday!

In the meantime, David and I are enjoying our time together and having so much fun!  

This room is where we stayed on the second night of our trip and I will tell you all about it in a future post.

For now, we are touring some parts of Route 66 that we have driven before, but want to see again, while we're here in Oklahoma.

Tomorrow we head back to the music conference where they will be doing a live recording of the songs they've written this week.   I can't wait to see Collin and find out all the good stuff that's happened while he was there.

More vacation pictures coming soon!

For now, be blessed and have a great day!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

This is My Life

Sometimes I hesitate to write the day-to-day stuff because I fear it may be boring to others.  Although I really like reading about everyone else's lives, so maybe they like reading about mine.  Who knows?

Today I can't help but notice a few "funny" things that have happened recently.   They may not be funny in the funny sense, but they gave me some chuckles, so I thought I'd share them.

First off - this picture at the top........
I snapped this shot on my morning dog walking trip.   I thought it turned out great, so I posted it to Instagram and Facebook.    Don't you love the filter?  

Well, later that day, I stepped outside onto the front porch and noticed that the chairs were all messed up and there was a wet-dry vac sitting near the swing.    OMGosh!  At that moment it hit me that the porch must have looked this way in the picture I just posted for everyone to see!  YIKES!  RUN to the computer and fix this!

Yep!  Sure enough, there was the photo for all to see!  This is what I get for posting pictures from the phone, where the picture is so small, I have no idea what's in it!  Haha!!

Then, yesterday, I dropped Collin off at church a little early so he could skateboard around with some friends, before their evening activity got started.   I then took the "long way" home to a little town not far from us, where they have a Super Wal-Mart.   I leisurely shopped, got back in the car and headed home.   I love this route because it avoids the highway and all the evil traffic we have to put up with.

I was enjoying my drive and admittedly, had the radio on too loud, when I heard a faint sound that caught my attention.  I looked down at my phone and saw Collin's face on the screen and thought "Oh no"!   It had only been about an hour since I dropped him off!

When I heard his voice say "Mom, you have to come get me." I knew it wasn't good.   Sure enough, he had fallen off his skateboard and twisted his ankle, the same one he twisted about a month ago, playing Frisbee.

Here I was, 15 minutes from home, with a car full of groceries, so I did what every good mom does......I said "Call your father."     As horrible as this sounds, it truly would have taken me at least 45 minutes to get back there from where I was, so David had a much better chance of getting to him faster than I would.

The only problem was, David was on a ladder, painting the back porch project that never ends!

As humorous as this probably isn't to you - the ironic part of the story is this........
just as I looked down to see my phone light up, I had been thinking about how great everything was going right now in our lives!  I was driving and singing and praising God for his blessings on our lives and know the rest of the story.

Oh well.  We're still blessed!  Injuries or no injuries.  We're still blessed!

This morning Collin and I will be visiting the lab for x-rays and who knows what will happen from there, but whatever it is, it won't change anything.

I'll just keep looking for the humor in this life, because that's what you have to do when trials come.

God is still God, I have an amazing family, and we still have a set of crutches in the shed!

And, life goes on!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Working My Purpose on a Sunny Summer Day

Yesterday I was having a discussion with my husband and teenage son, about knowing your calling in life.

We talked about how to look back and see the threads that God weaves in and out of your days and how those threads offer a hint about things you've always been passionate about.   Those passions that have been there consistently for years, are good indications of things that the Lord has placed inside of you, for your life's purpose.    The problem is, we can overlook those things, thinking we were made for "more" and totally miss the blessings that the Lord had in store.

Eventually, the guys turned the question on me and asked what my "calling" was and I answered with 100% certainty, that being a mom and a wife was something that I know I was meant to do.    And no, not everyone can claim that as a calling!

Yes, I have other things that I know the Lord has used and will use in my life, such as writing and teaching, but nothing matches the passion I have for caring for my family.

Fast forward to this morning.......

David has gone to work, Collin is still sleeping, and I'm facing a day of laundry, cleaning, organizing,  and meals.

I walk in the livingroom, the house is quiet, the morning sun is shining through the blinds and I'm praising God for this day!  

There is something about summer that takes me back to my childhood, watching my aunt or my stepmom clean house and go about their day, taking care of the home.  They did it with such care and purpose; like it was a job they took seriously.    This shaped me!

I know God has other things for me to do and I will gladly do those too, but there will never be anything that blesses me more than taking care of my home and family on a sunny, summer day.

God bless you as you work your purpose today!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Should Your Child's Opinion Keep You From Homeschooling?

One of the more difficult aspects of counseling someone who is considering homeschooling, is trying to convince them that their child’s opinion doesn’t count in this decision.  Moms don’t like to hear that!

When talking to a mom who is considering homeschooling, but is basing her final decision on whether or not her child agrees, I can quickly see two things going wrong in her future:   #1 – she will not be in control and #2 – she will give up when the going gets tough.

I know this sounds harsh, like I’m pre-judging this mom, but I’ve seen it happen time and time again and the end result is almost always her sending the child back to public school.

Moms truly want the best for their kids and I get it, because I do too!  But, there are several factors that play into the decision to homeschool and while some may be simple and superficial, others are deeper and more important and have no place being left up to a child.

Parents consider homeschooling for a multitude of reasons; in fact, too many to list.   But, if a child has been in the public school system and the parents are looking for a way out, odds are that the reasons would be pretty important.

Some parents pull their kids out for personal reasons such as bullying, character issues, discipline issues, or academic struggles.    Other families have special circumstances that would be more conducive to having their kids at home, such as moving frequently, a family business that needs help, a job that requires travel or even an unconventional family schedule.   

Many families still homeschool for moral reasons; wishing to be the major influence in their child’s life, rather than a teacher or a school full of other kids.

Regardless of the reasons that lead the parents to homeschool, my opinion still stands that this is not a decision that should be left up to a child and here’s why:

The Bible says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child…” (Proverbs 22:15).   Folly equals foolishness, which will equal most of the reasons that a child would rather be at school.   Nine times out of ten…it’s not for the book work!   Now, I know that every mom sees her child as smart and capable, but major family decisions should never fall on a child’s shoulders or exclusively be placed in their hands.

Let’s face it, whoever spends the most time with your child, will have the most influence.  So, whether that is a group of peers, the multiple teachers he sees throughout the week, or his parents and siblings, one of these groups will be shaping and molding your child.   Is that really a decision that is best left up to a young person?

Would you consult your child on other major decisions made for the good of the family?  You might, when appropriate, but the final decision should always be up to the parents, who have more reasoning experience, more information, and more life experience with which to make informed decisions.

Your child’s education and daily environment are no less important!

In all of my 18 years of teaching my kids at home, I’ve never once given them the choice of going to public school.   They knew it was not an option and they have never once asked.
However, even though that choice was never theirs to make, I have afforded them many opportunities for making decisions for themselves, in other areas of life.

Each year I gave them the option of what courses to study, what groups to be involved in and what friends they wanted to hang out with.    These were all things we would discuss and reason over and then I would step back and allow them the freedom to make decisions.   This is actually more freedom than they would ever see in the public school arena.

My kids have made their own decisions over what jobs to take, what hobbies to pursue, what talents to use and what to do with their own money.   Again, in public school, no one would ever ask them how to run things or place them in charge of decisions, so the training and freedom is incomparable.

Therefore, in regard to this topic, it’s not that you should suppress your child’s ability to make decisions and it’s certainly not that he shouldn’t have choices in life.   However, the job of a parent is to lead and guide and not lay big decisions on kids before they are old enough to weigh all the factors. 

The parents should hold the decision of education and environment as their own and save smaller decisions for their kids; building their confidence and reasoning over the years and maintaining the responsibility where it should lie – with the adults.

A child will always choose the path that promises to offer the most fun, but as an adult, you know that what’s fun isn’t always what’s best.

Be the adult in your home and let the kids be the kids.   Teach, guide and make the big decisions.

It’s your job, not theirs.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sound of Heaven - released on iTunes!

Well, it's finally here!!  Ted's latest worship song is on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Music as of today!

Sound of Heaven is a beautiful worship song, written by my son Ted, and the first song off his church's Life Worship Collective album!

I could go on and on about the heart of this young man, but I will just say that every word he writes is a pouring out of his heart toward the Lord.

I have witnessed him laboring over his songs, as an author labors over every word in a book.  The time and effort that go into each verse are prayed over and sought after and authentic.

I hope that you will get a copy of this single and put it on your phone or computer and use it to worship the Lord.

God Bless!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My First Try at Stitch Fix

I'm so excited to share this post because this process of working with Stitch Fix is too much fun not to share!

I found out about Stitch Fix on  StacyMakesCents and since I'm always in a fashion crisis, I decided to look into it.

I really don't know how one could lose with this company, being that you have your own stylist who chooses clothes for you, based on the profile that you offer them.

The process, from start to finish, is so incredibly easy and so much fun, that I could see myself doing this for a long time!

First off, you create an account on their website and they will lead you through questions that help them get to know your likes and dislikes in clothing.   You will tell them your size, what colors you like, what to avoid and several other factors to help your personal stylist put together a box just for you.

You can write extra notes to your stylist, describing special events you have coming up and she will keep those things in mind, each time she ships you a box.

Once you have filled out your profile and provided enough information for them to work with, you then want to go to Pinterest and begin pinning clothes you like, onto your Stitch Fix board (create one) so your stylist can take a peek there and see what you like.  (Be sure to go back to your Stitch Fix account and give them the link to your Pinterest page).

This is literally all you have to do, besides schedule your first box.  You can get a box as often as you like or every few months.   It's totally up to you.

Now, here's where it gets fun......

When the box arrives, you will find 5 items in there, which will be clothing and possibly an accessory or two.

My first box contained:
1 skirt,
1 dress
1 blouse
1 t-shirt
1 necklace

Inside the box you will also find a personalized note from your stylist, along with style cards with pictures of your garments, paired with other pieces and accessories, to help you put together different outfits.

Once you look at everything in the box, go try on your clothes!  This is so much fun because it's in the privacy of your own home and you can take your time and include your own clothes in the process.

After you've tried on all the clothes, you decide what you want to keep and what you want to send back.   You have 3 business days to mail the clothes back at no charge (they even provide the mailing envelope!) and it's simply a matter of dropping the envelope off at the post office.

You then go to the computer, log on to your Stitch Fix account, select the clothes you want to keep and pay for them.    It's that simple!

One thing to mention is that there is a $20 styling fee, which is taken off your order when you pay for your clothes. This is not per month!  You only pay this fee when you order a box.  If you keep all of the clothes, they also give you a discount.   You are not obligated to keep any of the items, but you will pay the $20 fee regardless.      For instance, I kept one skirt this time, which cost $48 dollars, minus the $20 fee, which left me with the remaining balance plus tax.

When you are filling out your profile, they will ask if you want the cheapest prices available, or mid-range or high end prices.   Again, you set the parameters and they try to stay within your guidelines the best they can.

All in all, this was such a fun process that I immediately scheduled another box and am looking forward to doing this again.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, I'm going to share the link (click HERE)  so I can get credit for referring you (just being honest)!

I really think you'll enjoy getting your own box in the mail (oh, and it came one day early!) and I would love to hear all about it if you do!

Have fun!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's Not Our Job To Fix Other People

One of the hardest things to learn in life, is that you can't fix everyone.   As a fixer, this trips me up, every time.

But, through God's grace and constant guidance, I'm also learning that it's ok, because HE doesn't expect me to be the fixer of all things or people and that takes a tremendous load off my shoulders.

Recently I've been taking a course on fashion (hopefully I can actually fix this problem!) and as a bonus, the course digs below the clothing surface and talks a lot about personality.   I find the study of personalities fascinating because, just like the Love Languages, knowing someone's personality can really help you understand why they act the way they do.  More importantly, you gain great insight into your own reasons for doing what you do, which we all need to understand more of, if we want to accept ourselves the way God created us.

But, back to being a "fixer"..........

I'm learning that you can't make someone choose happiness.  You can't make someone get up in the morning.  You can't make someone shake off self-pity, go out and live life.   You can't make someone let go.  You can't create joy in someone's heart, for them.   You can't pull selfishness and self-centeredness out of someone.   You can't pull them off the couch and out into the world.   You can't sit and hold their hand, in hopes they will heal, if they like where they are.   You can't encourage enough, love enough, visit enough, feed enough, pamper enough, coddle enough or talk enough.

You just can't.

Only God can.

You can pray and that's about it.

You can pray that through a genuine walk with God, that person will learn to get up, get dressed, get fed, get serious and get healthy.

You can pray that they will eventually get tired of watching the world go by and get motivated to live and breath and smile.

But, you can't do it for them.

And, eventually, you have to quit trying, in order to move on with your own life.

It's hard when you're a fixer.

But, it's not your job - it's God's job.

**If you are stuck in a perpetual state of trying to fix someone else, you have to let go and let God have them.   Until they are desperate for HIM, they will remain where they are and you will spin your wheels enabling them.

People like this will suck the life out of you and you will find yourself being pulled down to their level.  

Walk away and let the Lord care for his child with his big power.   You are not in charge.**

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Enjoy The Wild Goose Chase

I read a great little story today about how the Celtic Christians called  the Holy Spirit the Wild Goose.  They meant no disrespect to the Holy Spirit, but were referring to the life one lives when following the Holy Spirit, which most of the time, looks more like a wild goose chase!

Consider Paul's journeys, which are all over the map.  He encounters so many wild circumstances and truly never knows what waits around the next corner.

"And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there." Acts 20:22

Jesus himself said in John 3:8....."The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

In other words, when you walk with the Spirit, you need to just hang on for the ride or the wild goose chase!

This is why it's so important to build a relationship of trust with the Lord.

When your life is relatively calm and things seem to be on a steady course, you need to be getting to know the Lord through his Word, prayer, Bible study, fellowship and testimony.

Read about his faithfulness.   Document what he's done in your life in the past.   Worship him and testify to his goodness.    Set up stones of remembrance in your mind, so you can have the reassurance that what he did for you before, he will do again in the future.

A life lived for and with Jesus is anything but boring.

Don't get discouraged when your journey takes you on a curvy road or a wild goose chase.

With the Holy Spirit as your guide, the ride might be crazy, but the finished results will be well worth the ride!



Friday, July 10, 2015

Why Having Your Child's Heart is the First Step to Successful Homeschooling

In the early years of the Homeschooling movement, many families homeschooled from the beginning of their child’s school-aged years.  Homeschooling was a way of life for these families and the children knew nothing different than doing “school” at home, among their siblings and parents.
If there was ever a “heart” issue with one of the kids, the parents were there to observe it, handle it, and nip it in the bud, so to speak, before it became a bigger issue in the heart of the child.
That’s not to say that those families didn’t face adversity with any of their children; it’s just to say that when you’re one-on-one with your children all day, every day, it’s much easier to stay on top of issues that arise in a child’s life.

Fast forward to the homeschoolers of today and you will find many who have only recently pulled their kids from public school and thought it best to teach them at home.   There are probably as many reasons for them making this decision, as there are new families who are doing it, and sadly, I would bet that some are finding that they don’t have their child’s heart and things might not be going so well.

With that being said, I believe that having your child’s heart is detrimental to being successful at homeschooling.

Homeschooling is hard!  It’s day in – day out – with your kids.  Therefore, if you are constantly having to fight and argue with one (or more) of your children, you will not make it past the first year!

Your children must respect you and have respect for you.

You can’t teach a child who doesn’t listen, constantly misbehaves, disrupts everyone else, yells, throws tantrums and has you in tears at the end of every day.   It’s just not going to work out.  You will give up and so will they.

You also need to be strong on discipline and consistent on follow-through.

If you do not establish that you are the authority, some kids may tend to take advantage of the fact that you are just “mom” and not a “real” teacher.    They will use the same tactics on you as they do when they are trying to get something from you.   They will whine, get lazy, “forget” to do their work and know that they can get away with it, if you don’t show them otherwise.

Some moms make the mistake of saying they will tell dad when he comes home.    When you do that, you just totally undermine yourself, in your child’s eyes, not to mention….that’s just lazy parenting (you wouldn't want dad doing that to you after a long day!).  You’re the one that needs to have their respect, since you’re the one working with them all day.   Don’t push that responsibility off on dad, who has been at work dealing with these kinds of issues all day (with adults).  Discipline your kids and expect good things from them, so dad can come home to a peaceful house and enjoy his family at the end of the day.  (That’s not to say there won’t be big issues that take dad’s input, but if you are going to be at home with your kids, then you need to be the one disciplining them and gaining their respect.)

If you are dealing with older kids and rebelliousness creeps in, you must deal with it immediately if you want to continue to have your child’s heart.

Rebelliousness is different than acting up or discipline issues that we all deal with in young children.
Rebelliousness is your child turning away from the rules of your household and the standards that you have set as a family.  Rebelliousness is your child saying that they no longer want to live the way you’ve taught and no longer respect your authority.    This is a dangerous road to go down.

There are times in homeschooling (in young children and teens), where the academics need to be laid aside and the character of the child needs to be dealt with.

Who cares that math doesn’t get done for a semester, when there is a child who is on the edge of turning away from his family?

Who cares that you have pulled out of co-ops and sports and dance, when there is a child who needs the attention that he’s craving, instead of being forced to go to one more practice, one more class?

Who really cares that you’ve stopped “school” for the sake of pouring into your child’s character?

This is what makes homeschooling a great way of life, because you can take care of heart issues when they arise and not when it’s too late.

Rebelliousness is a child screaming out for something and it has to be dealt with, in order to have a successful run at homeschooling.

If you leave a rebellious child to his own folly and then expect to teach him academics, you have missed your calling as a parent
God will never care more about your child’s academic excellence, than he does their character.  Ever.

So, whether you have always planned to homeschool or are just starting your journey into this way of life, make sure to have a plan in place for those heart issues that will show up from time to time.

Don’t be afraid to show your children that you are their authority, but don’t forget about their hearts either.

It’s a great balancing act, as are most of our years of parenting, regardless of where they go to school. But, it’s worth all the time and tears, because you are raising the next generation and you want to do the best job you can do.

And, their hearts matter most.

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.*