3 “Back to the Basics” Ideas for the High School English Teacher

LauraAll Posts, College, English Literature, High School, Homeschooling


(My current PreK/ K students experience a lesson in fractions after a rousing 1-minute mathematical lecture by yours truly…)

Years ago, I taught literature and English composition to high school and college students. I reminisce about those days often, fondly remembering my students who are “all grown up” now. To this day, my students remain dear to me.

After all, I taught them how to pronounce “Beowulf” and enlightened them that he wasn’t actually a wolf.  I was one of the people who taught them how to read Shakespeare, punctuate sentences, throw their heart into peer reviews, and compose slam-dunk business letters.

It was a fun job and I truly feel like I contributed in a small way to their well-being.

But if I were to go back to the classroom, I think I’d do some things differently.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve learned a great deal about, well, learning.  I’ve read endlessly about what really matters in a person’s development. I’ve learned more about my preferred style of teaching, my method of organizing a curriculum, and the vision that would drive every choice I’d make in the classroom.

I’m discovering that homeschooling my own children is enriching me as an educator.

Though I often think about how teaching at the high school and collegiate levels has given me some advantageous perspective for my own children, I more often consider how teaching my own children has enriched me with perspective for education at large.

If I could go back in time, or if I have the opportunity to return to the classroom at some point in the future, here are 3 “back to the basics” things I’d pursue, especially at the high school level.

So, what would I do differently?

  1. I’d prioritize Copywork.

    Most of my students – high school and college level – had not read much over their lifetime. Their writing reflected this poor diet. But there was a deeper weakness: many of them didn’t yet know how to think, make connections, draw conclusions, or demonstrate that they cared about ideas.

    Nor did they know how to identify good writing. I always found it interesting that they championed the artsy classmate who over-used the thesaurus: they swooned at his pretty 4-syllable words even though his papers rarely made sense. Meanwhile, the “math guy” who wrote succinct, well-appointed papers because he had been trained how to think logically was completely overlooked. (Surprise! The “math mind” usually receives high grades in English class. This is why.)

    It’s not that my students had lousy teachers in the past. It’s just that they hadn’t yet read enough “good writing” to acquire a comfort level with ideas, sentence structure, and communication.

    One of the best ways to assimilate into “good writing” is to read good writing (lots of it) and to copy it (lots of it), word-for-word. It’s the way great men like Benjamin Franklin taught themselves to think, write, and speak effectively in the past.Why wouldn’t this classic learning habit benefit our beloved students, too?

    For the Freshmen and Sophomores…

    I would require my freshmen and sophomore high school students to hand-copy copious amounts of the best-of-the-best writing in literature, poetry, science, history, politics, philosophy, and mathematics.

    I’d require very little original writing during the first two years of high school, and would focus most of their writing assignments on copying and studying great writing across the disciplines.

    For the Juniors and Seniors…

    By their Junior and Senior year, the students would be ready for original composition instruction. Their minds would be full of great ideas, sentences, and organization; they’d be ready to craft their own great ideas into sentences, too.

    Just to keep them investing in Copywork, I’d teach my junior and seniors Commonplacing, by which they’d copy selections from their reading. Some of them would looooove it, most of them would endure it. I’d be the meanest teacher and check their books regularly, requiring accurate and daily copying from their own studies, reading, and interest.

    I have a hunch that twenty years later, 90% of them would thank me for being such an old-fashioned stickler. That’s worth it.

  2. I’d compose each course with “experiences”, “discussion,” “research”, and “lecture”.

These four elements resonate with most learners in one way or another, and I truly believe that the ability to learn in these four ways is more important than the content itself.

I’d invest time teaching my students how to

I don’t think I spent enough time teaching my students how to engage in enriching experiences, or how to have profitable discussions about books and ideas, or even how to listen to a lecture. But in the future, I intend to invest as much care as it takes to strengthen my students with these abilities.

  • Participating in a large-group experience – whether it’s acting out a scene from Hamlet or preparing a feast of medieval proportions – requires humility, creativity, cooperation, flexibility, appreciation, and curiosity.
  • Engaging in a discussion requires students to prepare, listen well, attribute quotations, disagree, use evidence from the text, and work as a community to grow in understanding.
  • Diving into research is a highly valuable skill, requiring curiosity, hard work, discernment, and faithfulness.
  • Sitting in a lecture requires attention, memorization, engagement, appreciation, and patience.

I would tell my students as much and we’d work on these skills together, recognizing that there is so much more to a classroom experience than checklists, worksheets, and grades.

3. I’d only offer extra-credit for reading, including audio books. 

My mantra would be, “read, read, read, read!”

In most school settings, I’d probably be beholden to a set list of literature selected for the curriculum, so I’d set up the most motivating extra-credit reading challenge I could conceive and afford.

I’d encourage each student to choose a series to complete by the end of the year: “Narnia! Tolkien! Harry! Laura Ingalls Wilder! Ralph Moody! Beatrix Potter!”

I’d provide an expansive list of great books, good books, picture books, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. I wouldn’t bat an eye if a Senior chose to read 50 Caldecott Picture Books to raise her C+ to a B. I’d gladly add those points to her grade, knowing that those picture books were probably some of her best – and most enriching – memories of Senior year. Or, what if a Junior’s father read “The Hobbit” to him every evening through the month of February? Extra credit, baby. What a golden experience that would be.

Whatever you do, “Read, my darlings! Read!”

So. Now you know. These are the daydreams that spin around in my mind some days. Consider these “notes to self” or “food for thought” that I just had to get down on paper. I’d love to know your “back to the basics” tips for teaching high school and college students so that I can store them away for the future. ‘Cause in 18 years, you know, our baby will be graduating from our homeschool and I may be looking for a job. 🙂


5 Simple Choices for Postpartum Well-Being

LauraAll Posts, Healthy Living, Motherhood


My postpartum experience had gotten progressively worse with each baby: increasing in depression each time. The worst was when I experienced unusual fear, paranoia, and disturbing thoughts after having our fourth child.

So when I found out I was pregnant with Baby #5, I knew I had my work cut out for me.

With five children relying on me, I knew I had to do everything in my power to protect my health.

I couldn’t afford for postpartum depression to get worse.

So, I prayed and asked God to help me.

I invested those nine months in preparation for the postpartum season. I’m so glad I did.

Now that our sweet baby is 7 months old, I can honestly report that I have felt better and thought better than during any other postpartum season.

I want to pass along the 5 things that have made the biggest difference for me, in case they may help any new mom out there who is googling, “postpartum health”.

  1. Take a high quality prenatal and postpartum vitamin. 

    We invested in New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins during my pregnancy and are now investing in New Chapter Perfect Postnatal Vitamins. They have never made me feel sick and seem to impact my energy, mood, and vitality.I actually think that these would be an amazing thing to add to a gift registry!

  2. Talk to people about postpartum depression.

    It was so helpful to say out-loud to someone, “After my fourth pregnancy, I was thinking very strange thoughts that bothered me…” Until then, I had kept it to myself because I didn’t want people to jump to conclusions or make a bigger deal out of it than necessary. But I felt so much stronger once I allowed myself to admit the truth to my husband and a few friends.

    I asked them to check in with me during my postpartum months after Baby #5.

  3. Eat walnuts, almonds, and blueberries every morning.In my research, I discovered that these three power-foods were just what I needed to build my health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. A few hours of research helped me to uncover some “best practices” for the way I wanted to feel and heal postpartum.

    I made sure our freezer was stocked before the baby arrived and I simply made a habit of eating these foods every day.

    This made such an impact on my wellbeing that I actually filled a bag with these goodies for my sister’s baby shower a few months ago. (From a baby’s perspective, what good is anything else if Momma’s not feeling well?)

  4. Go outdoors and walk.

    When I’m at the hospital, I try to stay in bed as much as possible. Then once I return home, I (finally learned to) take it easy as much as possible.

    My highest priorities are to rest and to get outside to walk. It’s odd that the two have to co-exist: rest and exercise, but they do.

    The first day, I walked to the barn and back. About 50 yards.

    The next day, I walked to the other end of the barn and back, 75 yards.

    Every day, I try to go outside and walk a little farther than the day before.

  5. Avoid screens at night.This choice has benefited me so greatly that I’m actually considering making a sandwich poster about this and wearing it around for the next 10 years.My husband did some research about sleep and discovered that postpartum mothers damage their emotional and mental well-being when they read from a screen when they get up to nurse their babies at night.

    Sleep doctors say that something about the glow of the screen stimulates the mind so that even if you fall right back to sleep, the sleep you get is jeopardized.

    This made so much sense to me because when I was nursing our fourth baby, I was so happy with all of the READING I WAS CRANKING OUT AT NIGHT ON MY KINDLE. I’d fall back to sleep afterward, not knowing that my sleep was less-than-less-than.

    So this time, I do not look at a screen at least a half an hour before bedtime and I did not look at a screen when I got up to nurse through the night.

    I keep the lights low and enjoy praying and resting during that time.

    What a refreshing difference this postpartum season has been! Sure, I’ve had a few dark days, but that’s normal and to be expected. Overall though, I’ve felt energetic, hopeful, clear-minded, and content. And that is like gold!

    I just had to share the good news with you.

    If you’re about to have a baby, congratulations! I hope that one or more of these suggestions is helpful to you.

    If you’ve had a baby, what has benefited your postpartum experience?


What It Takes to Float: Motherhood


It recently dawned on me that I have no regular obligations outside of motherhood.

For the first time in my life, I have nothing extra on the calendar: no weekly Bible study, no music team practice, no book club, no monthly homeschooling co-op, no boot camp class at the YMCA, no writing obligations, no teaching dates, nothing.

This has happened gradually as I’ve wrapped-up, stepped-down, or backed-out of one commitment at a time. Now that we have 5 children, I feel like I’ve been in sink-or-swim mode. It’s as if I surprisingly found myself in deep water and had to remove everything that weighs me down, just to float. (Each former obligation is like an adorable – yet heavy – pair of sneakers that had to be pried off my feet.)

No one – except my husband and children – regularly relies on me. At the moment, I’m “at capacity” simply building my home. It is glorious rigorous work that is taking everything I’ve got to give.

And, surprisingly, I like it most of the time. I like the beauty and dignity that bolster a focused motherhood.  Some days, I’m actually giddy about it.

It feels great to breathe a little. 

Other days it feels unfamiliar, barren, and lonely and  I wish I could do so much more!

But, I’m floating.

(I’m floating!)

There’s nothing quite as glorious as floating, even if it comes at a cost.

I know it won’t always be this way, so I thought I’d share this here while it is my reality. I want to be honest in this space, saying “hey, there” to any other woman out there who is struggling to do any more than love her husband and children, struggling so much that she is gasping for air and feeling like she is drowning.

If you need to know that you have permission to focus solely on the few people within your little walls, consider me for one.

If you need to know that removing cumbersome obligations is “okay”, consider me for one.

If you need to hear that floating is possible and rewarding…

it is.


All I Want for our Children

LauraAll Posts, Homeschooling, Motherhood


While we simplify our homeschooling schedule to make way for lots of Christmas preparation and celebration, I’ve taken some extra time to read, pray, and think about our day-to-day lives. Heading into the new year, I’m asking, “What adjustments do we need to make here at home? Specifically, what do we want for our children?” I’ve been looking closely at how we invest our time and energy. I’m wondering why we do the things we do… and why we don’t do other things?

This afternoon, I discovered a printed copy of an old brainstorm in my cookbook while I was looking for a rogue granola recipe. It struck a chord with me and I plan to sit with it a while. In the meantime, I thought I’d share it here.

What would be on your list?

All I Want for our Children

First and foremost, I want our children to pursue holiness. I pray that they will be given a strong and sincere faith in Jesus Christ and a deep love for the Church.

I want them to be virtuous and passionately in love with God, well formed in their understanding of Scripture and well-practiced in their study of it.

I want them to be genuine disciples of Jesus Christ who share the gospel and make disciples wherever they live. I want them to love their neighbor as themselves.

I want them to give thanks in all circumstances and pray about everything at all times.
I want them to respect leadership and elders, submit to one another, keep godly friendships, speak up for the oppressed, and love and nurture children.

I want them to know how to thrive through good times and bad. I want them to know how to support and help other people through good times and bad, in Jesus’ name.

I want them to be pleasant to be around- having the skills to converse and interact with people of various ages and walks of life.

I want them to enjoy reading- to do it for pleasure and in pursuit of knowledge. I want them to be well-read and have the ability to discuss Great Books. I want them to write and speak well.

I want them to be able to transact money dealings and everyday calculations with ease.

I want them to know how to acquire the skills and expertise they need to accomplish the work God puts in their hands. I want them to be vibrant, diligent, faithful workers who work unto God and not unto men.

I want them to have a grasp of the people in history and understand how their lives affect ours today.

I want them to respect and care for God’s creation and to retain their sense of wonder for the natural world.

I want them to appreciate great art and pursue artistic endeavors for pleasure. I want them to be exposed to the world’s greatest music and be proficient at playing at least one instrument.

I want them to be able to use their hands to create useful, practical, and beautiful things.

I want them to be active in promoting Godly principles within our culture, be financially responsible, and have good solid habits that will carry them well through their lives.

I want them to fondly recall their childhoods, to uphold the value and dignity of family life, and, when they experience warmth, comfort, and beauty- to be reminded of home.

When Parties aren’t Perfect

LauraAll Posts


We placed the white candles in their silver candlestick holders down the length of the burlap runner on our farm table.  A galvanized pail sat in the center of the table, full of greens that we brought in from one of the pine trees in our woods.  The beautiful little flames warmed the room and made it look so Christmassy.

Ten chairs waited expectantly for our guests – a handful of friends who would join us for our first (hopefully annual) “Little Women Christmas Party”.

Our oldest daughters helped to prepare the menu – inspired by the March’s own Christmas breakfast. We grilled pork sausages, arranged juicy slices of Florida oranges, warmed dinner rolls, and smoothed whipped butter into a crock.



The Chocolate Pave’ came out of the oven in just enough time to cool. Our 8 year-old lovingly sprinkled powdered sugar across the crackled cake and arranged holly leaves and a few berries for decoration. While we scurried around the kitchen, I felt the excitement of the occasion. And yet, something was wrong. My heart ached for the friends we couldn’t invite – the many, many friends we would have loved to gather in our home, but simply couldn’t because of our capacity and abilities this year. Besides, I knew this type of party thrives with a small, intimate gathering, but still it hurt to think about the friends we were missing.

Minutes before the guests were to arrive, we found a “Little Women Film Score” Pandora station that played the most fitting background music. We weren’t wearing time-period dresses or hair-do’s, but the music made us feel like our skirts were swishing and we could rightly describe ourselves as “bustling about”. The atmosphere was just right for this delightful evening of a Little Women dinner and movie with our dear friends. It had all of the makings of one of childhood’s dearest memories. As the crowning piece in our feast, our vintage copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was propped against the white bowl filled with oranges.

And yet, something was wrong. I could hear my two-year old throwing a fit upstairs. Her stomping feet and dismal cries echoed through the floor boards and overpowered the beautiful background music. Her nap had gone late and she was positively melted down. I grabbed a dinner roll and snuck upstairs, crawling hands-and-knees to greet her in the most non-threatening way I could imagine. “Hey, Sweetie… I brought you a dinner roll… Do you want to come downstairs yet?” For the past 15 minutes, I had been working with her, trying to calm her down and get her in the mood for a magical Christmas party. Needless to say, she wasn’t feeling the magic.

Once the guests arrived, the little girl forgot her troubles and came downstairs meekly. She had that look – you know the one – totally worn out from her pre-party fit, but truly wanting to leave it all behind her and move on into the magic. I couldn’t blame her. It was going to be a great night.

The meal was delicious, and the view of such darling faces gathered around the table touched my heart. We shared favorite Christmas traditions – one girl said, “Eggnog!” another said, “When we all pile on the couch at my grandparents’ house”. A third said, “Getting there.”

After dessert, we moved into the living room and started the movie, which is its own work of art. Half-way through we paused the movie so we could ladle the mulled apple cider and pop the sweet-touch popcorn. We truly were bustling about at this point. And yet, something went wrong. One girl ladled the apple cider while another held the mugs. Suddenly, we heard an “ouch!” and realized that some of the simmering cider had splashed on a little one’s hand. She quickly plunged it under cold water, but it hurt. And sticky cider dribbled over the countertop onto the floor. We washed it up. The ladler felt so terrible about the accident that she hid behind her mother. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” we were able to say, thankfully.

And yet, something else went wrong. Two minutes later, my oldest daughter ran into the kitchen and said, “The little one just threw up!” I grabbed some paper towels and ran into the living room where our poor, sweet two year old lay on the couch, looking very very sad. I stooped down to clean her up, to clean the couch, the ottoman, the pillow, the floor. While I disinfected the couch, I wondered if our friends would want to stay and finish the movie? Or would they want to grab their coats and scurry out the door?

They stayed. I tucked the babies into bed, we finished popping corn, ladling apple cider, and gathered back in the living room for the beloved conclusion of the movie. Needless to say, I was the only one who sat on the couch after the intermission.

After all was said and done, the tears wiped away, the sighs of relief about Jo’s fine engagement to Professor Baer, we said “good bye” to one another and sent our guests on their way.

I lay in bed that night wondering if it was a good party or not.

Was it magical?

Was it special?

Or did the vomit ruin everything? Would the mothers now have to worry for the next two days if their own broods would start vomiting all over their couches, ottomans, pillows, and floors?

Would it ruin the entire holiday season?

I felt that age-old ache of remorse and regret when special things – like parties – aren’t perfect. In those moments, all I can do is focus on that one thing that didn’t go right, and I can’t make it go away.

I turned to our Heavenly Father and asked – like a little girl who had maybe ruined something or broken something – “Is it okay?

I immediately remembered this…

“the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. ” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

I realized that if Jesus hadn’t made a special effort to celebrate the Passover with his friends – to speak to them dearly and to fellowship and feast with them – that night would simply be “that night, he was betrayed”.  The specially-chosen room, the food, the wine, the sitting close, the conversation, and the blessing… all transformed the tragedy of “he was betrayed,” into history’s singular celebration dinner: the Last Supper, a glorious and ageless tradition amongst family and friends, honoring our Savior, Jesus.

“He was betrayed,” fades into powerlessness when the cup is lifted and the bread is passed amongst friends.

On the same night… Jesus took the bread… and gave thanks.

And our humble night, gathered around the farm table? Well, without the party maybe it would’ve just been “the toddler threw a fit.”

Or, “they left people out.”

Or, “the girl burnt her hand”.

Or, “the friend hid behind her mother in embarrassment”.

Or, “the baby vomited all over everything and potentially contaminated three families full of children and pets. At Christmas time.”

But, there was candle light. And laughter. There was real, delicious sausage and orange slices. There was Chocolate Pave with holly berries and a sugar shaker. There were stories and snuggling, tears, and laughter. There were mothers and daughters, gathered together at Christmas time. A small glimpse of redemption.

I’ll take it.

So, if your party isn’t exactly what you imagined and wanted, shift your perspective toward the heavens: see that every good and perfect gift comes from God. His goodness – and the glories of celebration – make life’s inevitable mistakes, regrets, and disasters bearable. They remind us that a perfect party is coming…

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Thoughts on a 20-Year High School Reunion (unedited)

LauraAll Posts

It feels like I haven’t written a post in ages. I’ve been using every spare moment to plan my high school 20-Year Reunion. Now that the reunion is behind me, and I have a few minutes to return to this space, my mind keeps freezing when I think about writing. I’m out of shape. (It happens so quickly. Like physical exercise, the ability to write dissolves after 3 days of disuse. Did you know it takes 3 weeks to get into shape, but only a matter of days to fall out of shape? Oh, humanity.) At any rate, if I don’t start typing and simply click “publish” at the end of it, I may never write again. So.

We held the reunion last week in the town where I grew up, right down the street from my Alma Mater. My husband and I hadn’t used Exit 31 off the Turnpike in several years. Driving back into Lansdale was kind of like driving into Disney World – my face was glued to the window as we drove by a lifetime of familiar images that had lived in my memory but were now 3-dimensional and real again. Not to mention, I ooo-ed and ah-ed over the new and impressive townhouses and businesses that had gone up since we last visited the area. Lansdale looked great: it was the same, yet mature, yet beautifully with-the-times. I could tell that someone has been taking good care of it.

For weeks before the reunion, I had been praying that the atmosphere of the event would be warm and welcoming; I wanted all 120 people who were attending the party to feel that they belonged, that they were special human beings made by God. I knew I couldn’t sit them all down and read them a touching picture-book about their inherent worth, nor could I personally connect with each person or serve them tea, so I was relying on God to create this atmosphere and experience.

Because I was planning the event from 3 hours away, I didn’t know what the ballroom would look like until I arrived a few hours before the reunion began. Ryan and I expectantly walked into the lobby, into the ballroom, and realized that it was…only “fine”. Certainly not what I had been imagining: the metal-framed chairs looked square and stiff, the air smelled like stale cigarettes. There were no chandeliers, no draping fabrics, no twinkle lights. The room simply contained a cash bar, a small dance floor, and 12 round tables with chairs. This wasn’t the “warm and welcoming” atmosphere I had imagined.

Though we had planned to decorate later in the afternoon, I felt the impulse to do something immediately – to fluff up, to rearrange, or add something pretty to this otherwise bland atmosphere. I only had a few bags of decorations, but I got to work right away, placing wooden discs, ball jars, and periwinkle Hydrangea on each table. I added a few objects from various high school subjects – stubby oil pastels on the “Art” table, cracked crystal geodes on the “Geology” table. It wasn’t a miraculous transformation, but it did something to the space, moving it from a blank canvas to a space with a fingerprint. When I was finished, I felt a similar satisfaction to when I brush my daughter’s hair, or wipe my toddler’s runny nose, or zipper up a child’s jacket. After all, it’s often a few simple touches that transform us from “only fine” to “dearly loved”.

My favorite part was later that evening when my classmates started appearing in the hotel lobby. I sat at the Registration Table and greeted those familiar faces that glowed with a magnetizing combination of youthfulness and maturity. (I’m not exaggerating or waxing poetical… each person really seemed to glow.) Though my brain couldn’t access everyone’s name right away, their faces were of course! It’s you! My greatest joy was that every single person was more beautiful than ever, as if each one had been adorned with more confidence, strength, and big-heartedness over the years.

This was the surprise I hadn’t anticipated.  And I’ll never forget.

For an hour, I said it over and over again as I hugged familiar faces, shoulders, and necks from across the Registration Table, “This feels like Heaven! It’s so good to see you here.”

The reunion was 5 hours of mingling, music, food, some dancing (for the bravest amongst us), and remembering. Almost everyone stayed until the very end.

At the end of the evening, I stood back and took a deep breath, enjoying the realization that God Himself had granted my request. It had been a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It had been joyful and good. I don’t know if each person felt special but I, for one, saw them that way. My classmates are special, dearly loved people. Someone has been taking good care of them, and I feel delighted.


Kids Laugh A Lot (Rewrite)

LauraAll Posts

(Does this title look familiar? That’s because I rewrote a post about enjoying laughter in our homes for the True Woman blog at ReviveOurHearts.com. Enjoy!)

Kids laugh a lot.

A child’s laughter is glorious. Why, just today, my kids were giggling uncontrollably at someone’s antics, and I wished I could bottle their contagious, delightful laughter. I’d treasure that precious bottle forever.

Have you ever taken inventory of what makes children laugh?

They laugh about a vast array of noises: screams, beeps, blurps, dings, and whistles.

They laugh about a vast array of bodily functions, especially the accidental ones.

They laugh about peculiar birds, curious monkeys, outspoken puppets, buckets of slime, knock-knock jokes, and plays on words.

They crack up when characters trip, slip, fumble, and bumble.

They hoot when they are pleasantly and suddenly surprised. They chuckle when the same thing happens over and over again.

(Read the rest at ReviveOurHearts.com…)

Kids Cry A Lot

LauraAll Posts

Our kids cry a lot.

That’s what came to my mind yesterday after the third episode of tears in a matter of minutes. I often tell myself, “I can’t stand all of this crying!”

But children do cry . . . a lot.

Especially the little ones. In fact, the littler a person, the more he or she cries. All of the books say that newborns cry for three hours a day. (Three hours a day!) I think the books should mention that this doesn’t suddenly go away when baby digs into his first birthday cake. Toddlers rival that three-hour statistic with vigor! Quite honestly, daily crying doesn’t really stop until . . . until . . .

(Read the rest at ReviveOurHearts.com…)

Dear Fathers and Mothers: You’re Hired.

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood


In these uncertain economic times, you may wonder if your employer will retain you, if you are valuable enough to stay on the payroll. Today, focus on this: you’re hired to do one of civilization’s most important tasks and you are irreplaceable.

As a father or mother, your job of loving and teaching your children is vital to their well-being and our culture’s endurance.  That single child in your home, or that little group of 2, 3, 4, 5 or 15 children are our heart and soul. We’re all relying on you to love, educate, and equip them.

You’re hired to teach them the importance of honesty by speaking truthfully to them.

You’re hired to teach them the necessity of kindness by being kind to them, and to all people.

Teach them the dignity of human worth, of all colors, classes, and countries by reaching your arms out to others.

Teach them how to resist cruelty, rudeness, and abuse. Teach them how to speak up for the destitute. Teach them how to be brave, to do the right thing, and to keep their word.

Make time to go to your public library and check out books about our country’s history and dignity. Make sure you’ve read the Declaration of Independence aloud. As a family, read through the Constitution, bit by bit, with mugs of hot chocolate and minds toward understanding. Tell them – show them – how important it is to understand and participate in our noble government.

Check out books about historical heroes and imagined heroes – the kind who fight for what is right and have teachable hearts. Snuggle up on the couch and read about people from other countries and cultures. Read about truth, beauty, and goodness.

Join your children in serving your neighbors and benefiting your local community. Let them know that their hard work and sacrifice is an important part of building an entire country, and blessing the entire world.

Teach them the irreplaceable value of understanding our human frailty. Teach them the greatness of God, who made us – each one of us – with infinite value, dignity, and worth.

Read aloud from the Bible, seeking to understand the story that is greater than all of us, but includes each of us.  Teach them how to forgive and how to ask for forgiveness. Teach them how to love in word and deed.

You’re hired to do a job that requires time, energy, heart and soul. We need you now more than ever, and you cannot be replaced.


Motherhood is Good for Women

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood


I want to share some thoughts about one of motherhood’s most mysterious blessings. It’s this: as a mother seeks to build a home that is good for her children – one that inspires their happiness and holiness – she simultaneously builds a home that is good for her.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve been working hard to understand child development: my desire is to bring lifestyles and experiences into our home that will help our children to thrive. I’ve discovered that my studies and hard work are actually helping me to understand human development in general, including my own.

I’ve noticed something: motherhood is good for women because that which is good for children is good for women.

Every time a mother leads her child to fresh air, she gets to throw her head back and breathe in deeply, too.

Children and mothers (Ryan chimes in, “Fathers, too!”), we all thrive in the same atmosphere. Our souls breathe the same air and our minds are nurtured on the same sustenance. Maybe that’s why I’ve discovered that it is literally good for me to be around my children, to be living like they live, every day.

At the risk of sounding too dreamy, I believe that motherhood can enrich, strengthen, and stimulate women every day. This is a gift from God.

I’m just one woman sharing how this is true in my life, hoping that it inspires you to look for ways that motherhood is good for you, too.

What’s good for my children, is good for me…

In the morning, I lead our children in prayer to our Heavenly Father as the sun highlights the sky above the pond. Then we listen to His Word as we eat a hot breakfast together, slowly, regularly. We talk about Jesus, ask questions about Jesus, and offer answers about Jesus, sharing one-by-one as final spoonfuls are savored and dishes are washed.

I keep this morning ritual for their sweet hearts, but I find my own awaking.

When I push back the curtains and push open the windows to bring fresh air into their growing lungs, I am bringing fresh air into my own lungs. I hustle them out the door with shoes on feet and hats pulled over their little heads. We step outside and I look for the horizon, my eyes take in the beauty of the earth and the glories of the skies. I think about our Creator. I get the kids walking to stretch their legs, maybe we sing a favorite song as we go.

Fifteen minutes later, we return home and I feel my own blood pumping.

I gather the children around the piano because I want to fill their hearts with beautiful songs. One of the kids usually plays a drum, another may play the violin, and, oh, what to do about the harmonica player… 🙂 What’s left of our little choir sings:

“My worth is not in what I own,

not in the strength of flesh and bone,

but in the costly wounds of love,

at the Cross.”

As we sing, I hold little Audrey on my lap, her hair tickling my cheek, and I remember and “rejoice in my Redeemer, greatest treasure, well-spring of my heart”.

F0r 10 minutes we work on memorizing poetry and Scripture, to build their minds; I find that I am building my own mind. During this daily habit, I am developing a stronger memory than I’ve ever had in my life, not to mention building a store of beneficial material to rehearse throughout the day.

Sometimes we look at beautiful artwork or nature together. Sometimes we make art together. I pull down my own sketch book from the shelf and become better at sketching than ever before in my life. Other times I gather some props and teach a life-lesson – about kindness or courage or sharing – and I listen to myself as I teach the children. I’m forever thinking, “Oh how I needed this lesson today.”

Throughout the day, I read aloud enriching literature to help the children understand history, science, and humanity – and I become more well-read than ever before in my life. My Master’s Degree in English Literature doesn’t compare to my education over the past 11 years of homeschooling. I’ve read widely and deeply across the disciplines.

I understand and appreciate literature, science, and history infinitely better than ever before.

I work hard to provide life-giving food for the children – blueberries, cantaloupe, oatmeal, almonds, eggs – and find that I feel healthier when I eat well, too. We sit down together when we eat (most of the time), we talk together, and build our relationships.

This is good for me, through and through.

In the afternoons, we enjoy a quiet hour so the children can read — each one in his or her special spot with a book in hand. I brew some tea and invest that hour in writing and reading, two of my loves.

My work during that hour is deeply satisfying. The peace and quiet restores each of us.

We serve others and pursue people in need. I want my children to love other people well and to learn that the secret of life is imitating our humble Lord. As we serve, my own heart is softened and matured. My guard goes down.

I find my dependence on God’s grace.

I plan playdates for the kids’ enjoyment, wanting them to build good friendships and to have fun.  But, I find that greeting the other children and enjoying fellowship with other mothers builds me up just as much. While the kids play, get to chat, to listen, to laugh, and to share.

It’s a delight to my soul.

I look for little adventures that will broaden our children’s horizons and capture their imaginations, beckoning them to be discovers, wonderers, leaders, heroes, and God-worshipers. Wherever we go and whatever we see, thrills and inspires me.

I am stretched and I become more courageous.

What a blessing it is to be a mother!

When we work hard to bring light, air, beauty, truth, goodness, exercise, music, literature, adventure, traditions, celebration, service, fun and friendship into our children’s lives, we bring them into our own lives.

So, jump right in! Walk along beside! And snuggle into a world of wonderful things that psychologists and experts will always say are good for the human being.

Motherhood is a gift from God – a gift to children, and a gift to women. (“And to men!” Ryan adds.)