I want to start blogging again…

LauraBlogging10 Comments


…like “back-in-the-day” blogging when we would just write about anything and everything and it was okay. Back when “my toddler said the funniest thing” was blog post material, worthy of a full day’s attention. We’d share from our daily joys, strengths, questions, and discoveries. Photos were small and blurry – if there were photos at all. There was a sweet letter-home innocence to blogging back then. I miss it.

It’s not enough any more.

Today, the experts say that blog posts have to be content rich, reader focused, catchy, money-making, sensational, and attached to a hook as sharp and irresistible as  “58 Safety Hazards You Aren’t Thinking About” or “How to Clean Your House And Fight Cancer At the Same Time” or “An Open Letter to Donald Trump’s Stunt Double”. I’m supposed to brand myself. Find a niche. Build my readership. Influence.

The message is that blog posts have got to be amazing or no one will read them. Not. Even. Your. Grandma.

You can post your toddler quotes, home-life updates, and little tidbits on Facebook or Instagram, but that’s it.

I understand the expert advice: they’re right about almost all of it. I just can’t keep up.

Am I the only one in the blogosphere who misses the daily-little, personal-little gems that make no promises other than, “Hey, there. ‘Thought you’d get a kick out of this.”?

Am I the only one who is just a tad bit (okay, a lot bit) exhausted by amazing?

I want to go back to the days when blogging was simple, smaller, less improve-you-and-sell-you-things-ish.

Every day, cute little blog post ideas float through my mind like iridescent bubbles, looking for a soft place to land in the blogosphere. I button up my blazer and ask “Yes, but is it good enough?” “Is it share-able?” “Is it relevant?” “Could I craft 5 paragraphs out of this idea with boldface subtitles, photos, and a wide-audience appeal?”

Needless to say, too many cute little bubbles get popped by yours truly.

Don’t get me wrong: I love crafting home-run posts with links, photos, and contagious ideas.  But the truth is that I just don’t have many home-run posts in me. Nor do I have the time, energy, or brain power to beef up every little blog post that wants to meet you. I hope you understand. It’s not that I don’t love you or care about you. It’s just that I’d rather give you “steady + average” than “sporadic + amazing-I-hope”.

I think I need to take a deep breath and just be me, for both of our sakes. You are my reader-friend. I don’t need anything from you – not a share, a like, a comment, a paycheck – but to reach out through cyberspace and plain old connect with you.

I can’t keep up with amazing blogging, but I want to keep blogging.

Therefore, I officially re-begin my pursuit of average blogging. This is a poor start of it, too. It’s complainy and prickly and I’ll probably regret writing it. I’ll edit it a zillion times because I hate being complainy and prickly, but I’m going to publish it anyway, because I have this feeling deep in my gut that by saying, “I can’t keep up with amazing blogging”, you and I will connect.

BTW: got any funny toddler quotes?

 

Let’s Teach Our Kids About Jesus

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood0 Comments

The heart-and-soul of our home is Jesus.

Our children are our beautiful mission field.

We want to build our daily habits, conversations, problem solving, and traditions on His gift of love and forgiveness yet so many days, I wonder if I’ve even spoken His name to our children. I find that I need to be proactive to worship and prioritize Him with my children.

I thought maybe you and I could share some ideas about how to be intentional about teaching children about Jesus from day to day. This month, here are a few ways that I am pursuing this beautifully calling of motherhood.

I am…

  1. Enjoying my own relationship with Jesus.

    Now that our baby is sleeping through the night, I can set my alarm an hour early and enjoy some time praying, reading Scripture, and exercising. After a full year of being in survival-mode, this extra hour is a luxurious blessing! My readiness in remembering and worshiping Jesus throughout the day is fueled by this hour with Him in the morning.

    I love The Diary of Private Prayer by John Baille. (Guess who recommended this one? Keith Getty – as in the guy who wrote “In Christ Alone” and so many encouraging hymns for the modern day church! I figured he must know something. Turns out he does. This is a beautiful prayer book that has enriched and strengthened my prayer life more than words can say.)I also use – and LOVE – the The One-Year Praying through the Bible for Your Kids by Nancy Guthrie.

    Some days, I pray through the Psalm of the Day. I’m also slowly working through Jen Wilkins’ study of the book of Hebrews. After years of feeling guilty – or like “devotions didn’t count” – if I did not check every box every day (prayer, Bible study, journaling, encouragement, etc.), I’m learning to discern the sweet spot between faithful consistency and what I need to do with my heart on any given day. Some days, I use all of the time in prayer. Other days, I begin with prayer and feel compelled to write an encouraging note to someone. Still other days, I invest most of the time in Bible Study.

    Most days, I’m simply seeking my daily bread, light for my next step.

    I find that when I approach my time with God with honesty – coming to Him as a real person with real burdens and real hungers – my devotional time is sweeter and more fruitful.

  2. Singing Hymns and Memorizing Scripture together.

    Every school day, from 10 – 11 a.m., I gather the older children together for Morning Time. The baby is napping and our 3-year old is happy to play with Model Magic, scribble in her own little notebook, and eat a little snack.

    (Important side note: The fact that we have had 7 peaceful – and complete – Morning Times so far this school year is is an amazing, amazing miracle. Many, many, many, many of my idillic dreams of Morning Time have been squashed by screaming babies, tantrum-throwing toddlers, tired pre-teens, and distracted little boys. For example, one year I was teaching all of the children the sweetest Children’s Christmas Carole of all time so they could sing it in the children’s choir on Christmas Eve. We’d gather around the piano to practice and invariably be a chaos of tears, melt-downs, and terror.

    After a few days of this disappointing choir practice, I decided to play right through it, hollering over the din, “This is exactly why we need this song, my dear children!”

    As it turns out, the 24-month old who was causing MOST of the terror was listening the entire time. She ended up knowing that song word-for-word and singing it daily through the rest of the year. Every evening before bed, we meant it in a whole new way when we sang, “Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven…” I learned a lot from that experience. I was encouraged to endure on the hardest days.)

    Anyway, about Morning Time: for the first 15 minutes, we use our 12-12-12 Binders and sing the same hymn every school day for a month. We work on the same passage of Scripture and memorize one poem each month. Every year, we cycle back through and work on the same set of songs, scriptures, and poems. This month, we are singing “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” memorizing The Roman’s Road, and The Apostle’s Creed.

  3. Reading Scripture and a devotional together.

    This is the part of Morning Time when the children eat a snack so peace prevails. They munch on blueberries or crackers while I read from either Scripture or a devotional. I alternate day by day. This year, we are reading through our well-loved Read-N-Grow Picture Bible and the Clarkson’s Our 24 Family Ways.

  4. Looking for opportunities to connect our daily personal lives with Jesus.

I’m a firm believer in looking for the questions, concerns, weaknesses, and celebrations that occur in each child’s heart as they learn about God’s character, hear His Word, and walk through life. Although many opportunities whizz right by me, God gives me the grace to make the most of one opportunity at a time. When I do, I grow – one step at a time – in my ability to see Jesus in all things and to talk about Him with my children all the time and everywhere, just as He wants us to.

Recently, one child was struggling with nightmares, so we all sketched giant lightbulbs on large sheets of paper and wrote the aspects of Philippians 4:8. We matched each word with a sticker that illustrated its meaning. “Noble” is a knight. “Lovely” is a rose. We hung them next to each pillow to guide our thoughts at night. Whatever is pure, whatever is true, whatever is right…

If another child is struggling with obedience, we dust off our songs about the blessing of obedience and how Jesus tells us to obey our parents because He loves us. I take that child on my lap and teach him or her to confess and to receive God’s quick and powerful forgiveness. I remind both of us that Jesus paid it all.

Whatever today’s questions are, I look for a way to answer them through Christ.

Whatever today’s celebrations are, I look for ways to rejoice with Christ.

Whatever today’s sorrows are, I look for ways to cast our cares upon Christ.

Whatever today’s sins are, I look for ways to receive forgiveness from Christ.

This is my aim, anyway. Many days I flounder. Many days I forget. But by God’s grace I will continue to learn how to fill our home with “all precious and pleasant riches”, which, of course, are Jesus Christ our Lord.

By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
4by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.

Proverbs 24:3-4

What are you teaching your children about Jesus this month?

 

Getting the School Year Off the Ground

LauraAll Posts, Homeschooling, Motherhood

Well, here we go! A new school year is upon us. We logged two days of school before embarking on a week’s journey to New England. I wanted to try on our new schedule and make sure we had all of the supplies that we needed. Now that we’re back from a wonderful trip to Boston, Plimoth Plantation, and West Point (hopefully, I’ll write about all of that later) – AND all of the laundry is done! – we’ll put both feet on the ground and hit the books.

 

I’m grateful to begin this school year with a vision for homeschooling that was sharpened, sweetened, and expanded this summer. While driving back and forth to the swimming pool, I listened to the Wild & Free podcast, the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, and At Home with Sally and Friends. With windows open and kids playing outside, I read Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace.  (Yeah, it’s like everyone says: you should stop everything to read this one.)

All summer, I was reminded that my job is simply to faithfully tend to the work God has given me: to love and train my children who are made in the image of God. I needed that reminder. Workbooks, checklists, and the strong pull of modern day education distract me so easily.

When I consider that my children are eternal souls, I remember that my deepest desire is to spend my days demonstrating to them that “the world is worth learning about, our minds are worth cultivating, and people are worth loving.”

On a daily basis, I need to remind myself that my job is less about checking boxes and more about modeling delight, nurturing minds, and ordering loves.

With Sarah’s encouragement, I wrote our “Rule of 6”- the things that are most important to me regarding our homeschooling. If we do at least one of the things on this list each day, I can feel good about the day.

  1. Worship God – pray to Him, sing to Him, read His Word.
  2. Thrive in life’s fundamentals. (Don’t laugh. In this season of life, this just means “make the bed”, “go potty”, “eat your veggies”, and “enjoy a good night’s sleep”.)
  3. Read good books.
  4. Have good conversations.
  5. Encounter goodness, truth, and beauty.
  6. Expand our horizons. 


    I also came up with 6 personal Words to Live By – qualities that I want to practice. I want my kids to look back on their childhood and say, “My mother was…” I bring these to mind in the morning as I’m praying about the day:

    *devoted to God
    *joyful
    *building up
    * attentive
    *kind
    *vibrant

    I wrote all of these things on a notecard that I keep as the bookmark in my daily prayer book. I hope to return to these reminders each morning and take them to the Lord, asking for His lavish, vibrant, attentive help in being faithful with the children He has placed in my care.

     

3 Ways to Connect with Your Child: Share!

LauraMotherhood

When you share something from your world with your child, you open your arms and welcome her into relationship with you. Whether it’s a bite of your cupcake or the Scripture that’s been encouraging you lately, look for a way to share your personal world with your child. He’ll treasure your generosity and trust.

  1. Share a treat with him. 

    Whenever I have a little stash of chocolate, I try to share it with one of my kids. I look for a moment when it’s just the two of us and I’ll make a moment out of it. “Hey, you’re going to love this!” I say as I secretly pass along a chocolate-coated almond with Turbinado sugar and sea salt (thank you very much, Trader Joe’s!).What have you been enjoying lately? A treat in the pantry or a view from the window? An experience or a song? How can you share something that you love with your child?

  2. Write a note to her. 

    “Words of affirmation” are a love language. God communicates His love for us through words. Let’s learn from His example and write an encouraging, uplifting note to our child this week. Ask God to bring to mind just the thing that will bless your child.

  3. Share Scripture with him. 

    Of course, one of the dearest things you can share with your child is the Word of God – especially the Scriptures that are meaningful to you. Make a note of something that you’ve learned or loved in Scripture this week and tell your child. You won’t be sharing it to correct your child or even instruct him. It’ll just be from youabout you. Even if he doesn’t know what to say in response to your transparency, he’ll treasure the insight and may return the favor some day.

 

Writing Your Fall Menu? Here are Some Helpful Tips!

LauraFood, Meal Planning

As the air cools, I’m replacing our short-sleeved Summer Menu Plan for our cozier Fall Menu Plan. This simple plan – with its Crockpot Night and Egg Cups Breakfast – feels snugglier to me. It makes me want to pull on my warm socks and throw a football across the lawn.

I like to use the same weekly menu for a full season. Yep, that means week after week we tend to have the same meals with a bit of variety here and there. There are surprising benefits to keeping things simple – like enjoying a super-simple grocery-store experience, getting a handle on the budget, and being waaaaay less stressed about food.

I reworked last year’s Fall Menu Plan to make sure we were using a good strategy for our 2017 school-year schedule, including the two evenings/ week that we’re out-and-about for ballet lessons, a group violin class, and boys’ club.

I aslo added 2 great updates that are going to rock this food-challenged mama’s world.

I hope this helps you, too.

UPDATE #1: PLAN DAILY SNACKS

The word “snacks” makes my blood pressure rise and forces me into terribly compromising positions.

Last year, I took a slug at it by having a list of “go-to” snacks that I could choose from every 10 minutes when my children were hungry. But I felt like I was always compromising and letting my kids have the sugariest worst possible thing on the list every day all day long. When it comes to “snacks,” I have no backbone.

I finally  decided to stare it down. It’s not going to bully me around or catch me off guard any more.

THIS YEAR, I’m winning. I planned the day’s snacks as in, “on Monday morning, we’ll enjoy a delicious bowl of berries!” Now I know what to buy and what not to buy. I know the answer to “What’s for snacks?” and I’m not backing down. 🙂

I’m in charge. I planned ahead. So there, snacks.

UPDATE #2: PLAN THE WEEKEND WISELY

Besides our regular weeknight meals, we’ve always wanted to have a weekly Family Fun Night, a Date Night, and a regular hospitality plan. In the past, we would fly by the seat of our pants and fit things in from week to week. That meant that some weeks, the kids talked us into 3 movie nights in a row. Other weeks/ months/ years, we had no Date Night. Not one. And other times, we’d invite people over, but weren’t as intentional as we wanted to be and I never felt like I got in the groove.

THIS YEAR, I am so excited to have an intentional plan. Here’s what we’ve got:

Family Fun Night on Friday: Pizza and a fun dessert (this is a favorite memory from my own childhood!).

Date Night on Saturday: I’ll do my grocery shopping on Saturday afternoons and add a $5 rotisserie chicken (from Giant) to the order. With a bowl of applesauce and a side of veggies, that’s an easy and delicious meal that the children can eat early in the evening. Then, they’ll enjoy a movie together or play something amazing and completely absorbing like “Making a Tent out of the Dining Room Table”.

Ryan has just recently gotten back into cooking for me, so maybe he’ll take to the grill and make me some salmon with a side of roasted red potatoes from our garden. Or maybe we’ll just enjoy a special dessert over candlelight. Or maybe we’ll stroll, hand in hand, down the lane and back.

Hospitality Sunday: A friend of mine gave me the tip to invite people over on Sunday because they can usually come over for an earlier meal around 4 p.m. Brilliant. We’re doing it. I’ll know it’s coming and will have a few go-to recipes ready when I plan my grocery list.

SPEAKING OF GROCERY LISTS…

Take a look at my updated Fall Menu Plan and Grocery List. I’ve attached them here as editable documents in case you want to stand on my short-but-simple Meal Planning shoulders. Just click on the link to get started:

Fall Menu Plan

Fall Grocery List

Looking for more about meal planning?

Discover 3 Essential ways that you can find joy in food.

Download my free “Reluctant Meal Planner’s Meal Plan”.

Check out the “Five Surprising Benefits of Making the Same Meals Every Week“.

 

 

 

3 Simple (Funny) Ways to Connect with your Child This Week

LauraMotherhood

See this little girl? She loves to laugh and she has a great sense of humor.

Very few things connect human beings like laughter: it sweeps away our inhibitions and gives us common ground.

Here are a few ways to connect with your child this week that involve laughter…

  1. Laugh out loud at her jokes or efforts to be funny. Your child will feel like a million bucks when you take time to listen and laugh at her jokes, sarcasm, or off-hand comments. Look for an opportunity to affirm her efforts to be funny. Show her that you noticed and that you like it.
  2. Tell him something funny that happened to you. Pay attention during your day, looking for something funny to share with your child. (Once you have an idea, write it down or message yourself so you remember. A friend of mine keeps an index card and a pen in her back pocket for this reason. I love her intentional effort to share her life with her family.) That evening, share your “Guess what happened to me?” story. Laugh together. Your story will make you more relatable and your child will feel like your confidant.
  3. Play an active game together. When was the last time you really played Hide-and-Seek? Even if your child is older, he will love to connect with you over a classic game like “Hide-and-Seek”, a water-balloon or nerf gun battle, or a foot race. It doesn’t take much to say, “See that tree over there? I’ll race you there. Go!” And take off! It’ll get your blood pumping and the simple pleasure of it all will make you laugh together. I dare you.

Looking for more about laughter? You’ll love this post that I wrote for Revive Our Hearts, “Kids Laugh A Lot”.

Singing Your Child to Sleep: A Sweet Motherhood Opportunity

LauraMotherhood

Last year, I re-evaluated everything about motherhood based on a lip-sync performance of this song: “Stressed Out” by twenty one pilots. Our friends performed it at a talent show. It was funny. It was cute. And it rocked my world.

“Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out
Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.” 

My kids watched the performance with me and they picked up on the chorus right away. It broke my heart to hear them sing, “when our momma sang us to sleep…” knowing that I rarely sing them to sleep… After all, it’s the end of the day and – good grief – I love efficiency and “into bed with you!”I know, I know, it’s just a silly little song about Blurryface and a funky handshake, but it was the catalyst of a refreshing transformation in my motherhood.

It helped me to see my children as children.

It gave me permission to dive full-steam into the pleasures of motherhood. Until now, there had been something I was missing… something I was holding back.

Stress steals the joy of motherhood. Too often, I hand over the immeasurable pleasures of motherhood for a dose of efficiency, productivity, or retreat. I’m so thankful that God used this silly song to remove the veil from my eyes, causing me to see that all of the distractions are not worth it.

Maybe I’m not alone? In our modern world, we mommas are busy. We are creating, writing, organizing, administrating, selling, buying, planning… and we don’t often savor the pleasures of motherhood and childhood. I’m being sentimental, but I think that before we had so much productivity potential, mommas enjoyed sweet little things like singing to their children at bedtime. Well, I want it back.

If God has given me a voice, let me sing. Let my children know my voice well. Let them remember me accounting God’s faithfulness and grace in the evening before they fall asleep.

So, I started singing to my children at bedtime. (As it turns out, it doesn’t take much time. It just takes a warm heart.) I sing hymns, show tunes, or made-up songs. I try to end with a song about Jesus so His name is echoing through their thoughts as they drift off to sleep.

This month, I want to learn “A Mother’s Prayer” by Keith and Kristyn Getty. I printed out the lyrics to ticky-tack to the wall by our 3-year old’s bed until I have it memorized. (Of course, she is known to remove and shred things like this during nap time, but I’ll have a heart-to-heart with her and see what I can do.)

I’ll sing it to her as I tuck her in at night. It’s so lovely and true.

Do you sing your child to sleep? What do you sing?

3 Simple Ways to Connect with Your Child This Week

LauraMotherhood

This week, enjoy these 3 simple ways to connect with your child:

  1. Say his name.  Say her name.

I’m surprised how often I replace my child’s name with a term of endearment: Sweetie, Honey, Bud, Batman… While these are sweet, I find that speaking my child’s real name kindly – when everything is going well and they are not in trouble – is even sweeter.

When we speak a child’s name aloud, we honor their unique personhood. They know this instinctually and they feel special.

Your child will love to hear his/ her name spoken by you! It will connect you in a surprising way.

(BTW: While you’re at it, try calling your spouse by his own name, too. It’s a beautiful, personal, simple way of connecting with that Sweetheart, Honey, Babe, Warrior Man of yours.)

2. Pray together.

Does anything connect two people together better than prayer? No matter how young your child is, take time to pray together today. Look for an opportunity beyond meal time to pray about something that matters to your child. A fear? An injury? A blessing? A desire? Come alongside your child, show that you care about her burdens, and talk to your Heavenly Father together.

3. Sing!

When I sing, my kids know that everything is okay. I try to remember to sing when I’m doing the dishes, changing the baby’s diaper, or bipping around the house.

I don’t have to be singing with my children to help them feel secure and connected to me. I just have to be singing!

There’s just something about it – maybe the fact that I’m letting my guard down – that seems to invite them into my heart and thoughts.

Try it! The next time your kids are nearby, sing! Do you notice that they seem to feel peaceful and at home?

A Treasure for Every Adopted Child… and the Mommy.

LauraAll Posts

Have you adopted a child who wonders why you chose them?

Have you been praying about adopting a child and looking for resources to prepare your heart and home?

Do you know someone who is pursuing adoption?

My cousin Katie has written and published a beautiful picture book to cheer you on and help you to communicate love for your adopted child. You can sit next to your dear child or pull them onto your lap and read this genuine answer to every child’s question: Why did you choose me?

The simple, musical text and the fun illustrations will help you – child and mommy – to relate to one another and to receive God’s unconditional love. After all, His love is the standard and lifeblood of adoption.

My favorite part about Why Did You Choose Me? is that it isn’t sugar-coated. It’s not draped in a fairy tale or full of empty promises. It’s real. Very real. It wraps its arms around kiddos who pick their noses and break things, who aren’t the best at sports, who don’t ace every test. It resounds with love for the regular child.


Katie Cruice Smith
and her husband have adopted three children. This book began when Katie had to write a grant essay answering, “If your child came to you one day and asked why you chose them, what would you say?” She realized that “no matter how loving and secure their home may be, many adopted children
often question their identity within their family. This book is a way to lovingly and gently

answer those questions by showing them that there is no doubt that they were meant to be a part of your family.”

You can pre-order Why Did You Choose Me? on Amazon and be amongst the first to enjoy it! It will be released in November for National Adoption Month.

I can’t wait to read this to our own children. I want them to grasp the same message: that I love them regardless of their performance, personality, or achievement.

I also want to prepare their hearts in case God would call them to adopt a child in the future.

And especially, I can’t wait to give it to our dear friends who are currently in the process of adopting internationally!

(Katie, remember when we slept over at Grandmom’s house and ate Lucky Charms? We carved whales out of bars of soap, drove in her car to the grocery store, and snuggled up in the guest bed. We never could have grasped the wonderful work that God had planned for you in future! I’m so proud of you. Your tireless compassionate work will help to build homes all over the world. You’ve given words and images to help children – and their parents – receive God’s unconditional love. Love, Me.)

Let’s Get This Straight: 2 Thoughts About Homeschoolers vs. Public Schoolers

LauraAll Posts, Homeschooling, Motherhood

I think there’s a tension between homeschoolers vs. public/ private schoolers. (I dunno… I could be wrong… but I think it’s there.)

We’re each doing our very best, yet we’re afraid that maybe our children are missing out.

We wonder if other women are judging us.

We stumble over our words when we talk with one another because we’re not sure if we’ll offend, mortify, disappoint, overwhelm, or hurt someone’s feelings.

The best case scenario is an unspoken “agree to disagree” stance in which we just don’t talk about school.

It’s kind of a mess.

Jesus wants something better for His daughters, for His Church. He wants us to love one another and cheer one another on.

He wants us to believe that He has different gifts, callings, circumstances, and good works for each one of us to do.

He wants us to be content with the work He establishes for us and to be all about loving Him and making disciples.

But, how do we do that?

I think it begins with a few changes in our mindset.

Here are 2 things that help me to believe the best about you believing the best about me:

  1. One woman’s lifestyle doesn’t mean she’s right and you’re wrong. And it doesn’t mean she’s judging you. 

Too often, we look at another woman’s decisions and assume that she thinks she’s right. It follows that if she thinks she’s right, she must think I’m wrong. Therefore, she must be judging me.

But is she?

Does she really think she’s right and I’m wrong?

Our lifestyle choices are rarely that black-and-white. We need to remember that other women make decisions the same way we do: in a complicated, circumstantial, pros-and-cons, pray, pray, pray way.

Sometimes, we do something because God is calling and equipping us to do that good work.

Sometimes, our circumstances determine our situation.

Sometimes, we’d love to make another choice, but we cannot for one reason or another.

Sometimes we have misgivings about what we are doing and are praying for the grace to change.

When it comes down to it, many of our lifestyle choices aren’t a matter of “right” and “wrong”: they are a matter of preference, values, calling, diversity, opportunity, circumstances, and season.

What would happen if we gave each other the benefit of the doubt?

What would happen if we didn’t assume someone was judging us just because she has chosen a particular way of educating her children?

2. We need God’s divine help to dispel misunderstandings and pursue unity.

The best way to address misunderstandings is through relationships, right? Regular, open communication helps us to see beyond our assumptions and to understand the woman who is making different choices.

But let’s be honest: for busy moms, this is impractical, difficult, and time-consuming.

Working moms are working, and not available for play dates when stay-at-home-moms do most of their connecting. Homeschooling moms are home, educating their children, and are not available to meet for coffee when working moms are more likely to get together. In the evening when women without children are available, moms are at home tucking little ones into bed.

(When women do have a few golden moments to socialize, it makes sense that the women who are available match lifestyle choices. We can relate to one another and offer encouragement and strength.)

We have very few opportunities, practically speaking, to get together with women from other walks of life to help us get over our misconceptions and our fear of being judged.

Even if we try to take steps toward unity and understanding, it’s hard and impractical.

We need to acknowledge this difficulty and extend grace to one another.

We need God to make the most of our peace-making efforts and relationships. He alone can level rocky ground and straighten crooked paths amongst women.

Let’s ask Him to help us to connect with other women, to always believe the best, and to go first.

I’ll go first! 🙂

Why I homeschool our children:

If it helps you to understand me a bit better: while I was happily attending a private Christian elementary school, God called me to homeschool my children some day. That’s a true story. Just as He calls someone to be a missionary to China, He called me to homeschool my children. He equipped me through my excellent public high school education, liberal arts college education, and state school graduate education.

I don’t homeschool because I had a bad experience in school.

I don’t homeschool because we want to shelter our children.

I don’t homeschool because I don’t like the school system or our school district.

I homeschool because God is calling me to do it and, frankly, I want to embrace it.  As it turns out, it’s a glorious calling: I love the blessings of home schooling – the conversations, books-read, personalized education, outdoors, friendships, service, and discipleship opportunities.

I can rattle off a list of ways that God has opened doors and provided for me to walk in this often-difficult, often-lonely calling. On the bad days when I want to quit, I review the ways He has called and equipped me and I choose to keep going until He leads me in a different direction. On the good days, I’m all-in: the children and I read together, laugh together, and thoroughly enjoy a hands-on hearts-in education.

I love to share the wealth that comes from homeschooling. The homeschool world is full of incredible books, resources, and opportunities that would benefit any mother, regardless of her educational choices. 

I also love to hear about other school environments. I don’t want to “just tolerate” educational differences – I want to hear all about them. I want my sisters and friends to know that I’m completely supportive of the educational choices they are making and that I’m interested in that aspect of their lives. When my sister tells me about the wonderful traditions in her children’s sweet elementary school, I celebrate the goodness in that school and daydream about how I can apply the same virtue in our homeschool. I take note of the amazing ways teachers make learning fun, the math games they play, the reading centers they build, and the field trips they take. 

Of course, I struggle with jealousy when I hear about a school child’s amazing teacher – I wish my kids had her, too.

I struggle with feelings of inadequacy when I hear about a public school kid’s field trips, free music lessons, assembly programs, classroom decorations, and computer classes.

Every year, I mourn the fact that my kids don’t have that butterflies-in-the-stomach “first day of school” or the bus ride or the daily connection with many teachers and friends.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear all about it from you. That doesn’t mean I think you’re judging me when you tell me all about it.

I’d so much rather hear about your child’s life than to coddle my own feelings.

I’d so much rather learn from the wealth of your educational choices than avoid a few FOMO’s.

There are gains and losses to every earthly endeavor. Instead of being afraid of one another, instead of avoiding topics that are near and dear to our hearts, let’s see the life-giving potential of sharing our lives.

Let’s keep walking forward with God.

Let’s cheer one another on, offering the wealth of our calling, choices, and experiences.