probably we should be bored a little more often

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to thump you over the head with all the reasons you should get rid of (or use drastically less of) the television, computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc.  Okay, so maybe I am.  A little.

I’m not anti-electronics and I’m not going to climb onto my roof and start screaming about the evils of technology.  Because technology is not inherently evil.  It would be ridiculous for me to pretend I thought it was considering I’m tapping out this post on my laptop and will publish it through an electronic transmission at the touch of a button.  Pretty cool, if you ask me.

That said, abuse of any kind is not good and we, as a society, absolutely and totally abuse technology.  Period. The end.

Well, it’s not really the end, I guess, because I’m just getting started.

I’m going to be honest and to be honest, I’d have to admit that sometimes honesty isn’t my favorite thing.  Like when I’m having to rat myself out.  Like I’m about to do.  Here goes.

In our home we have 2 laptops, 1 desktop, 5 iPad minis, 1 iPad, 2 iPods and 3 cell phones.  Oy, I think I need a minute after throwing that out there.  Even I think that sounds ridiculous.  In my defense, however:

  • The iPad mini’s were gifted to our 5 oldest children as a means to enhance their homeschool experience.  They are able to download books and other learning tools using this electronic resource.
  • The iPad (of regular size) belongs to my hard-working husband who uses it for his schooling.  He’s a career firefighter but he’s also working toward his Fire Science degree.
  • The desktop is my husband’s and it actually doesn’t really work too well.
  • One of the laptops belongs to me and the other belongs to our oldest son who uses it for his online academy.
  • The iPods were gifts several years ago from doting grandparents because our teenagers had not yet been permitted to have phones.   It was a nice compromise.
  • The cell phones belong to my husband, myself and our oldest, who is nearing 17.

Now that I’ve so nicely defended myself allow me to throw myself under the bus.  There is no question that electronics abuse is an ongoing struggle in our home.  No matter what the intended use of each one of those gadgets mentioned might have been, there is temptation lying right outside the realm of intended use.  Lots and lots of temptation.

Here are some guidelines we are implementing:

  • No electronics between the hours of 9am and 3:30pm, which are our school hours.
  • If schoolwork is completed before 3:30pm, as it is for many of the children, you still may not use the electronics.
  • If you are bored during the hours of the electronics ban, find something creative to do.  Read, craft, climb a tree, ride a bike, make a fort, be a kid.
  • Electronics are to be shut down at 9pm if you are one of the children still up at that hour.  This does NOT mean we will expect or allow their faces to be glued to the screen between the hours of 3:30-9pm.  Moderation.
  • All electronics are to be placed on the office desk for overnight storage.

Frankly, I’d love for my kids not to own a single device.  If we could go back, we’d do things differently.  But since the horse is already out of the gate, we’ve decided the best path is to train them (and ourselves) to practice self-control.  One day they will be on their own with full access to all the technology they want.  We want them to be prepared for that onslaught so we’re walking this path with them while they are yet in the fold.

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When I think back on my own childhood, I remember scraped knees and dirty fingernails.  I have fond memories of my favorite doll and my make-believe family, of which I was the matriarch.  I remember playing ball and riding bikes and laughing.

But mostly I remember that I didn’t spend time staring at a screen.

My imagination was fully engaged and if I lacked for something to play, I could always find something to read.  That is what I want for my kids.  For them to know how to work hard, play well and live life.

I want them to know reality from the photoshopped lies and glossed-over deceptions fed to them from most every online portal.  I want them to know boredom so they can hear that sweet voice of Jesus that often calls in a whisper.

And for the record, that’s exactly what I want for myself, too!  How about you?

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Join me on Thursday when I’ll share the online and social media parameters we have for our children at various ages.

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3 things i feel you should know about me

Taking a step back from blogging has made me realize a few things, some of them not so pretty.  The most concerning to me is that I’m not entirely sure I present myself in writing as I am in real life.  I’ve decided that I either need to hang up blogging or get back to my roots with authenticity.  Because as things stand right now, I have completely lost interest and have no desire to write from this platform.  Why?  Let me explain a few things you may not know about me from my writing…

A bin full of crumpled pieces of paper.

1) I’m a homeschooler but I have never been hard core about it.  Meaning I don’t feel that passion to induce others to follow my path.  Yes, I believe it affords my family an opportunity to grow in ways I’m not sure we could or would in another schooling scenerio.  But what I believe in is passionate parenting.  I believe in throwing our whole selves into loving and raising God-fearing children with a moral and spiritual compass firmly within their grasp as they step across the threshold into adulthood.  I have two friends, semi-locally, who choose homeschooling.  Two.  Every other of the friends around me has felt led to school in a more “traditional” environment.  But you know what strikes me?  These families take their job seriously.  They are fully invested in the task at hand.  And it is evident when we spend time with them that their hearts are knit together.  They certainly have more outside influence to deal with than we do as homeschoolers but they are dealing with it wisely.

The bottom line is, I believe in homeschooling.  I choose to stick with it because that is how we feel led to proceed.  It is the path we believe God has placed before us.  But it isn’t up to me to decide if it is the same path God has placed before others.  That puts me on the blogging fringe of some of the other conservative-minded homeschool bloggers (although I have never met with anything but kindness from them) and can create a bit of friction among readers.  I have no desire to be divisive but I feel almost dishonest not laying it out there.

2) I have 7 children and am about 3 1/2 months along with my 8th, but I have never managed to embrace that “quiverful” mindset.  I struggle through pregnancy and the older I get the more I struggle after pregnancy.  I firmly believe each baby is a blessing but I have spent more of my child-bearing years trying to prevent those blessings than waiting in anticipation for the next one to show itself in two pink lines.  My current pregnancy has already been riddled with emotion as I have gone swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other.  I am dealing with absolute fear.  I keep having to take those fears to His feet and I’m grateful to have friends, family and an AMAZING husband who remind me to keep my eyes on the big picture.  But while I get excited when I hear the heartbeat or feel those first flutterings of movement, I still have moments of doubt and fear.  I’m a work in progress and mostly the progress just feels awful slow.

3)  I’m not much of an activist.  I don’t typically launch a boycott and I don’t feel my hackles rise when I see news reports that only testify to the fact that we are sitting on the precipice of time…time that is running out.  Things are bad but we were told they were going to be.  The world at large is clueless and, for the most part, it seems perfectly content to remain so.  I detest evil and the evil workings of the dark one as much as the next girl, but my thought is that we should fight evil with good.  I don’t boycott Walmart because of the magazines that line the check-out and if a sweet little girl scout were to knock on my door with cookies, you can be pretty sure I’d hand over a few dollars to support her, not Planned Parenthood.  I have no problem with people following their honest to goodness convictions…in fact, I encourage it.  My issue comes when people look for things to be “convicted” about and then respond in ungoldly ways to unsuspecting people caught in the crossfire.  If I began to boycott every place that had unsavory ties I’d be left with pretty much nowhere to spend a dollar.  And for me (maybe not you) I don’t have the time to figure out who supports what in this world rapidly filling with evil.

So, as I timidly step a toe back into blogging, I wanted you to have a glimpse of what is inside my head and my heart.  And I’d love to hear your own thoughts.  I have absolutely no problem with people disagreeing with me, I just think it does all of us well to speak through a filter of love.

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when homeschooling means your kids are left out

One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is the ability to control outside influence with some measure of moderation.  One of the not-so-beautiful things about it is when that control ends up looking a whole lot like social sequestration.

homeschool

Before we go any further, however, let me take just a minute to assure you I’m not about to lecture you on socialization.  I have pretty strong feelings on that topic, as you might note from this post, but I also strongly believe the matter is for each family to decide amongst themselves and with God.

There.  I feel better now that we got that out of the way.

But what about those times when your children would really just like to fit in?  Like at the Y when they show up for gymnastics?  Or at the ballfield because they want to play on the team?  Or at church when everyone is talking about school and they have nothing to add?

Standing alone in the crowd can feel awful lonely.  And feeling lonely can just plain hurt.

 

———————>Read the rest at Free Homeschool Deals

 

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second chance parenting

I’m a big believer in second chances.  And third and fourth chances.  I’m grateful for those I’ve been given {which are beyond numbering} and I know I need to be that person offering the same gift to others.

Others, like my children.

Because, yeah, they need ‘em.  Like when I ban throwing balls in the house and they “forget” and break my lantern.  Or when I tell them to never, ever strike each other and one of them gets mad and socks the other.

secondchance

My home is like any that houses children.  It’s loud, sometimes messy and it’s filled with rule-breakers.

Sinners.  Like me.

It’s my job to disciple my children to obey.  It’s my calling to lead them to the cross and back again and again.  It’s my life mission, in this season, to raise children who seek the Lord and thirst after righteousness.  Yet some days it seems all they’re thirsting after is a good fight.

And left to myself I’m not a great mom, you know.  I’m selfish and tired and sometimes I just want to do something besides remind them of the same old things.  Sometimes I just don’t want to be chief trainer of this circus that is my family.

circus

Take yesterday for instance.  I didn’t do one load of laundry or cook one single meal.  The clothes piled up and yes, the kids ate but I’d rather not talk about it.  I stayed in sweats until the day was half over and I finally found my way to the shower.  But that didn’t happen until after I paid off my two daughters to watch the twins so I could lock myself in my room.

I’m not even kidding.

Not every day is like this.  In fact, most are not.  But I have 7 children, a husband, a house, a dog and a homeschool.  My plate is full and tipping over.  Occasionally it threatens to crack and when that happens I take a step back.  I’m not that supermom who pushes through and does it all even when I have no reserves to do it.  When I’m empty, I refuel.  Plain and simple.

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Now I’m not suggesting you should throw money at your kids to pick up your slack (though I will say $2 for an hour of quiet was money well spent) but I am encouraging you to know your limits.  Listen to and respect those limits or they will bite you in the backside.

If you don’t have older kids to lean on, simply toss the non-essentials off your daily grind.  It never killed anyone to let the dishes sit or to  ease up a little (or completely) on the schooling for a day.  The key is to give yourself the rest you need and then jump back up on that horse.

The problem only comes into play if you keep putting off remounting the horse.

Q

Motherhood is not pieced together by super-human moments of greatness.  It’s a compilation of little moments of, well,
littleness.  It’s doing the next thing every single time you can and laying down at His feet during those times you just can’t.

It doesn’t have to look pretty even.  Days in this house are rarely very pretty.  But they are funny and crazy and they’re filled with laughter and forgiveness and love.

Even when we forget and slug each other.

And sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and remember things are really going pretty well.  The lantern is broken, that will not change.  But the spirits of my children are intact, and growing, which is a gift straight from the hand of a second chance God.

 

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why do we trample each other?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about motherhood, it’s that mothers don’t fit in a box.  Not by a long shot.  And why would we want to when what makes us special is also what makes us not “fit”?

I’ve known lots of women in my life and not one of them was the same.  They didn’t wife the same or mother the same or friend the same.  They didn’t look the same or act the same because they were as they were created to be…different.

I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling wife and mother.  That makes me similar to exactly two people I know locally.  Two people, guys.  I’m okay with being a little different but just as important is that I am okay with others being different from me.

trample

Because at the heart of the divide between mothers is the absolute fact that there should be no divide at all.  Only encouragement and support.  We’re all here struggling through many of the same issues and facing many of the same challenges.  We don’t need a boot in the backside (okay, maybe sometimes we need a boot in the backside) we need a hand to ease our burden or a word to boost our courage.

We need a finger to point us to the God who walks beside us.

For truly God doesn’t stuff His daughters in boxes.  In fact, He often calls them to do the unexpected.  He asked Esther to defy the King’s protocol.  He asked Mary to carry a child before she was properly wed.  He asked Ruth to lay at the feet of a man who had shown her kindness.  He asked Abigail to feed the army her husband had sent away.  He asked Hannah to offer her long-prayed for son into service and the care of Eli.

You get the idea.

Every one of those women were placed on a path outside the ordinary.  Because with God, the only ordinary lies within the extraordinary.  Or is it that the only extraordinary lies within the ordinary?  Hmmmm…

So if we’re a whole lot of ordinary mothers who’ve been given an extraordinary path to walk, why are we so crazy determined to make everyone else’s path look like ours?  Our path isn’t holy.  God is holy.

And He takes the un-holiest of people walking down some of the un-lovliest of paths and He uses them.  Right where they are.  But He uses them in such a way that they suddenly have no more desire to be where they are but want nothing more than to be where He is.

That is holy.

And I’ve seen it happen.  I’ve seen Him take some of the very people I thought needed a little fixing and snatch them right up and make them into something beyond beautiful.  I was standing on holy ground and I didn’t even know it.

Such arrogance blinds us to our own error.  It numbs us to our own weakness.  It’s ridiculous and it’s a waste of time.

Because it isn’t about whether we homeschool or don’t homeschool.  It isn’t about whether we find ourselves juggling home and work outside the home.  And it isn’t about what those other moms are doing.

It’s about whether we are following the path He’s given us to follow even when it looks to others that we absolutely are not.

Even then.  Especially then.

 

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DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE! {Slaying the ((Screaming Mom)) Dragon}

screamingmom

Well now, if you’ve been parenting long enough for the newness to have worn off you’ve likely been there.  I know I have.  People call them all sorts of things in jest:  ankle biters, curtain climbers, monsters, little heathens.  I like to call them children.  And I try to call them softly, though it’s a decision and not a natural tendency.

Because if we’re going to talk straight, most of us would admit it’s easier to just yell.  Skipping right over all that calling for the heart mumbo jumbo just gets the job done a little quicker.  They’ll be time for mending bridges later.  Like when they’re really sleepy.  Or sick.

But seriously, how often do we stop to consider the way we’d respond if a person in authority over us was to resort to bullying or screaming to elicit a particular response from us?

Just imagine Jane in the workplace.  Her boss isn’t terribly patient.  But he’s okay with that because he’s just accepted the fact that patience isn’t a quality the Lord meted out to him in great measure.  Why try to rewrite the script when you can utilize the strengths you do have?  And so when he notices Jane is off her game one morning, he just goes with what comes naturally and lays into her.

“Hurry up, would you?  I told you I needed that portfolio by 10am and it’s five after.  You’re making me late and that really makes me mad.  I want you to have it completed and in my hand in 10 seconds or…DON’T YOU GIVE ME THAT LOOK!  Don’t you know it’s me who writes your paycheck?  You should just be grateful you have a job.  No, no, I don’t want to hear about your mother dying or your little boy who is sick again.  You think I haven’t noticed how you’ve drained your bank of sick time?  There is simply no excuse.  You’re down to five seconds, by the way.  5..4..3……”

Beaten down and battered, Jane might manage to get that portfolio into her taskmasters hand before he finishes his countdown but the whole situation is still a bust.  He’s killed a little part of her that will be very hard to resurrect.  And it’s the part of her that wants to please him for the sake of pleasing him.  The part that puts forth her best effort out of respect and the desire to do what is right and good.  He has, however, kindled a fire under her inner rebel and that fire will rage with each subsequent verbal thrashing.

What we do to our children when we resort to yelling for discipline is very much the same.  They might obey, but not likely and not well.  Or at the very least, not for the right reasons.

But wait, I see you over there rolling your eyes.  Another self-righteous mom telling me I need to stop yelling at my kids.  Blah, blah, blah.  Why won’t somebody tell me how to stop yelling.  I come from a long line of yellers.  If a body were to believe in generational sins, this would surely be one of them!

I get it.  Honest, I do.  I’d have to admit I’m a yeller by nature.  Maybe even by genetics.  Who knows.  But really, who cares?  It matters not so much why but what I’m going to do about it.  And here’s what I do.

I start my day in the Word and in prayer.  No, not everyday.  I’m human and there are days I oversleep or just don’t get up because I can’t seem to force myself.  God doesn’t abandon me on those days but He does ask that I make the effort.  Even a nursing mother can have quiet time with the Lord as she gives suck to her babe.  He doesn’t command a certain posture and He hears the most exhausted and desperate plea.

So I resolutely march into battle (which looks an awful lot like my kitchen) and go face to face with the enemy as he tries to seize my children.  And believe me, there are many, many times in a day where I have to remind myself it really is the enemy I’m fighting and not my precious children.  And because I have zero respect for satan I wouldn’t mind a bit giving him a good tongue lashing.  But I have to remember…always remember…those words will first hit the delicate souls who have been placed in my care.  And so I lower my voice.  Or sometimes I don’t speak at all.

If you can’t be trusted in the moment, take that moment captive in prayer.  Speak not until you’ve been subdued.

Yes, this means my children sometimes don’t get the message immediately.  But usually I will ask them to come sit and I let them wait until it’s safe for me to talk.  If your children haven’t yet been trained to respond to a command like “sit” and they’re slightly out-of-control, don’t despair.  Hope is not lost.  Still, don’t speak–don’t utter a single word–until you can do so in a calm voice that speaks to the heart rather than screaming at the habit.  Behaviors don’t change.  People do.

That first step is the same as the second and every step thereafter.  You train yourself to run to the Lord first and tend to your child after.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

The battle won’t be won in a day.  It might not be won in a year.  But each isolated victory where self (and screaming) is subdued is a stepping stone in the right direction.  And each one of those steps will bring about a true heart change in your child that would never happen otherwise.

Take heart.  You are truly NOT alone.  There are countless screaming moms out there determined to slay the same dragon.  Let’s walk through the Refiner’s Fire together…and let’s bring our children with us.

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