Do NOT Try Homeschool – Part 3

homeschooling afternoonOkay, how about a look at what success in home schooling really IS? The first axiom is:

The commitment is to your child, in obedience to the Lord.

Forget excuses about having tried; it is about your child and God. It is a sober-minded decision to do the right thing with the children He has given you. No matter what, you will blaze past trying, to continuing, which is the best way to prevent becoming a quitter.

Just as you would not think of quitting on the commitment with your spouse, do not do so regarding your children.

Another very obvious help to success in home school is this:

Be at home.

Yes, there are exceptions, such as my friend who managed the very first semester of her home school in hospital waiting rooms because of a tragic accident in her family. Still, that is not the goal, as my friend would assure you.

We do not want to plan to home school on the run. When we home school, we must change our lifestyle so we can be at home.

So many parents self-prescribe home school like a capsule for the remedy of problems in their children. Rather, it is you, Mom–your scent, your voice, the feel of your skin, something no other woman on earth can provide–you are the medicine that your child needs. (Did you know that hugged children are healthier, grow more, and learn faster than abandoned ones?)

The most important motto that I would suggest is:

Listen to God and follow what you know.

The world of home school advice is overflowing with counsel that is very good, but most of it is for someone else. You must mature to the place of knowing, instead of wondering or doubting.

How can we stand if we do not know what to do or even what we are doing? No matter if your whole support group is doing differently from you—or if they are doing the same—you must do what you know is perfect for you and your children, because you received it from the hand of God. There is a lot that I cannot tell you, but He can. Learn to hear Him.

The main subject and the main goal in all home schools should be Godliness. Many of us realize that. The trouble is that most folks do not realize this truth:

When we model Godliness, then we teach it.

The reverse, sadly, also is true. You must model Godliness even when you are teaching something as seemingly neutral as math. If you fret or yell to teach math, you are mostly teaching impatience, not math. Oh, they may also learn the math that you are presenting (just about anyone can) and with many reviews will probably retain a lot of it.

They will learn the impatience that we are modeling, though, in just one easy lesson and they will remember it a long time.

Modeling Godliness is the main ingredient in the successful home school. Without it, there is little benefit from teaching the rest.

So, I would hang a few mottoes on my walls, after all, I suppose. You can use them, too, if you want:

  • Commit, for your children’s sakes.
  • Be at home.
  • Listen to God.
  • Model Godliness.

Determine to obey Him and He will give you success in teaching your children.

Then you can quit trying to homeschool.

The Blessings of Habit–Part 1

Do Your Kids Have Habitual Blessings?

Light switch habit

Light switch habit

“Hey! Turn that back on!” I heard from the hallway one day.

It had happened again.

We have taught our children, from the time they were young, to turn off lights as they leave a room. Someone had turned out the light while there was someone still in that room.

It was a case of what I like to call “good habit—bad timing”.

It takes 21 days to form a good habit.

How amazing that the brain, once trained, knows what to do on its own! Eventually we no longer have to think about what to do and how to do it.

Imagine if you had to reinvent tying your shoe, each time you did it. We can turn off a light without thinking, even without looking at the switch. We can be thinking about the next task in the next room while we finish the task in the current one.

The mind is wonderful!

During an exercise class, I heard a phrase worth remembering:

“That which is used, develops; that which is not used atrophies.”

At that time, I did not know the meaning of the word “atrophy”, so I guessed it meant the opposite of “develop”. Since our family has a motto of knowing, instead of guessing, it bothered me I didn’t know for sure, so I looked it up.

So many habits go into each action…

Think of all the habits working in this experience:

  1. The phrase, repeated, became a reminder of the good of learning, repetition, and training.
  2. The habitual use of English caused me to guess correctly at the meaning of a word in context.
  3. The habit of exercise, itself, gave me a lifelong urge to keep moving, partly spurred on by thoughts of atrophy.
  4. Our habit of being sure of facts caused me to bother with a dictionary.
  5. A family habit of returning a thing to its place enabled me to find the dictionary.
  6. A habit of working alphabetically caused me to turn to the front of that huge book.

Imagine life without habits!

How difficult it would have been for me to benefit from the experience had I not had all those habits! Oh, the drill, supplied by faithful adults, that formed them in me!

The sad thing is that some children who lack faithful training might be learning to hate exercise instead of fearing atrophy. We have many such children living among us, these days—lacking drill in good habits—and this loss causes many problems. They never reap any benefit from life’s normal experiences. They become abnormal.

And we have to make up for their loss all around us.

Our children do not have to be among them, though. The home is the perfect environment for instilling good habits.

Let’s do it!


More tomorrow.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I Like All Words

One wordWords are wonderful. We need them to get the huge things in our minds out onto small things like paper. I like paper, too, and pencils and other small things that capture huge things.

Yes, I like all words. Even words that tell of bad things, like tornado —what an amazing word that is, rolling around in the mouth before it can get out, reminding of tortuous torment and torture—a perfect word!

I like teensy words that tell of teensy things. Think of chick“. The shortest short vowel with that clipped /k/ ending. So perfect . . . .

I like open-ended words that can change in meaning according to how we say them. Take no for example. Short and sweet and full of amazing meaning. When stated with strength it imparts an imperativeness that communicates authority and a sort of “final answer” fortress.

When screamed by a female voice, “NO-O-O-O-O!” it causes adrenaline to course through the veins of every hearer.

Great word!

Or consider that little scamp of a word: “if”. Heh heh.

Yes, I like all words.

They told me I have to pick out only one, though. January beckons and the new rage is to pick a word, any word, that will get its picker through the next year.

I don’t really like this new game. It reminds me of celebrity adoption. Everyone’s got a new word they never had before, one that will become a source of some amazement. Almost braggy, and about what?

I picked a word?

Actually, I’m thinking about how all the other really wonderful words are feeling left out, about now, since they do not express grand character traits or describe a multitude of to-do lists in one syllable. “Weed.” One word, one sentence, conveying broken fingernails, aching back, burnt shoulders, frozen knee joints, and another go for tomorrow.

Gives me goose bumps to think of it.

No, I don’t really believe in all this word picking.

So it’s really embarrassing for me to realize words are coming to me.

It’s not like when I’m writing. When I’m writing, and often when I’m not, words sort of float by my consciousness for the fun of it, for me to consider, a bit like a marquee sign I can mentally click on, any time I choose, and have fun considering derivations, true meanings, possible alternate spellings, misuses, etc.

It’s how I breathe.

No, this is more like when a bird flies over and leaves a calling card on your nose.

I’ve gotten a word.

Nuts. Didn’t want one. Sighs.

This happened last year and I actually liked the word and had fun proclaiming it throughout the land. Everyone was picking grandiose words of achievement, direction, authority, etc.; making me tired just to think of all the things everyone else would be doing during 2014. And I really am pretty sure I “got” a word, that it landed on me from the sky, and I liked it.

It was: “less”.

And I loved it and I actually achieved it. Perfect. I blogged less, shopped less, argued less—all the things that wore me out were just “less” and I think it did me a lot of good. I became contemplative, thankful, and rested.

I even ate less. Yay.

And really, a year of it was a little much. I mean, I dusted less. So you can imagine.

However, 2015 approaches and no one else is tired of the game, yet. We’re still passing this football around. She sighs. Okay. I have to admit it, here:

I got another word.

I did not want another word.

But it gets worse than that.

I think I got two. Nuts.

You see, while I was at a retreat this past September, there was this sort of river of blue fabric from which we could pick (as if it were a real river) a rock (an actual rock) to take home. On the bottom of the rock was painted a word. The word was supposed to be from God to give me direction or bless me or something, and as you can figure, I didn’t want one. So I sort of sneaked around during the word-picking section of the session and escaped.

Felt pretty victorious about it. And relieved.

However, as we were cleaning up after the conference, I got cornered.

And here, I have to explain that I was helping with cleaning it up, because I was on the team that arranged and produced the conference, and in all honesty I must admit: I was the one who introduced the great idea of the river of blue fabric with rocks with words painted on their little bottoms. I learned it from a Canadian friend who has written a beautiful book that includes much more information about this whole river idea, and I sort of blame her a tiny bit for my whole predicament, that day. (Just kidding, Bobbie!) 😉

Anyway, my co-host for the conference did not let me get away with my escape plan. She graciously allowed me to choose a rock from the box where she was packing them. So, from a box of rocks, which itself was partly my idea, with my own two hands, I deliberately chose a word.

And it was puzzling.

This word did not seem like a long to-do list.

Noble Rock

Noble Rock

It was: Noble.

Huh. Like sitting on a throne?

My ecstatic friend, however (She really is a  good friend) claimed it fit me perfectly and went on to quote Solomon about The Noble Wife.

Oh. Proverbs 31. It is a lo-o-ong to-do list. Nuts.

Because of my puzzled look, probably, my friend went on to give examples of how that word fit me absolutely perfectly.

I kept thinking, That was last year! This is still the year of LESS!

The more I thought of it, though (pretty varnished rock, truly a beauty, wanted to display it . . . ) the more I realized I could shape up a bit. Like make the bed in the morning? Get rid of the really ratty pj’s? Clear out the kitchen countertop? Dust?

Yeah, I could do it.

So it was with great ease that I planned to breeze my noble little self through all this word-picking business and arrive at the head of the pack because I’d had a three-month head start.

Competitive? Maybe a little bit?

Adopt-a-word was beginning to get to me.

Then I sort of forgot about the word. Then I sorta got a calling card.

A word.

It kept floating past on the marquee sign in my head, like a broken program somewhere was causing the marquee to display the same word quite often.

Too often.


I began to consider it and to wonder. Okay. I could do that. I need to do that. Organize.

At least I have “less” stuff to organize these days.

Soon, I couldn’t wait to spread the good news abroad: I’ve given birth to a new word! Well, through adoption, that is. It’s a great word. Overused, but really productive-sounding and totally speaking of lo-o-ong to-do lists!

I was planning. A to-do list was forming.

So, finally, yesterday, the call went out: Announce Your Word! Link up! Share! Proclaim!

One word.

One. To inspire me as I walk through 2015. To guide my ways and make me a better person.

So how do I explain I have two?


More tomorrow.

What a Rush!

Author: Anonymous Date: 1893 Source: http://fa...

Young Einstein

3/14/14 – Reposting this to honor the man.

This is not about speed.

It’s about that rush I get when I teach.

Sometimes I say my bones are aching and it helps if I teach. Ever feel that way?

I think it’s maybe being part of the Creation process. When I see the lightbulb coming on in someone else’s understanding, it moves me, thrills me to the bone.

I love teaching, helping understanding to exist where it never did before. It’s not exactly creating, but like a potter with clay, I can mold someone’s mind to fit around new material, new cognizance, or even completely new thoughts that no one has ever realized before.

Research also thrills me. Discovering small things about big events or important people makes me want to teach some more. For instance: Did you know that as a child, Albert Einstein absolutely loved Euclid’s geometry and called it “that holy little algebra book” or that at age 5, he wondered what frozen light would look like? Who ever thinks of THE genius as a small child with wonderment inside his soul? Or that some adult fed him books over most children’s heads, just for the joy of watching that light come on?

See, I just taught you something and opened your thinking more. What a rush!

Sometimes I tutor. One young girl is learning so much about writing, she has developed an enjoyment for the writing process. Seeing the difference in her output this  year gives me such excitement. I think of the joy she will bring to her family as her skills increase and she cements them through practice.

I tutor a couple of legal immigrants in their new language, English, and we have fun exchanging culture, too. I explained our local phrase regarding appetites for all foods, as we say, “eat everything that is not nailed to the table.” They laughed enormously at that and now use the saying (in their own language, which is fine with me.) Then they confessed their tiredness of pizza and their longing for cultural dishes they cannot yet prepare.  I taught them to say, “I am tired of pizza, but it is better than nothing,” and as they remember their old country and having nothing to eat, they sober and regain resolve to find a way to afford gas for their stove.

And though it is a small spark, I love seeing that light.

The most exciting teaching I do is from the Bible. So much light there. So many people don’t get it, cannot see it. Or don’t want to.

But when I see that light come on, what a rush!

Angels sing?

Angel 013
Angel 013 (Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

I may have missed it, but–

I’ve checked and checked in the Bible and–

I cannot find any place where angels sing.


And suddenly
there was with the angel
a multitude of heavenly host
praising God, and


glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

Luke 2:13-14

I know we say they were singing, but it says they were saying.

Just saying . . .

all they had to eat was 5 kernels of corn per day

Do you need a Thanksgiving tradition?

Every Thanksgiving, we try our best to make a huge, fun, quality time with our family.

With five kids coming home and bringing all their families along, we usually have around nineteen (edit: We’re up to twenty-five, now!) people here for at least two days, and sometimes four. Each year brings its own nuances and each year we realize the potential for disaster always looms over us, engendering memories.

I want to share with you one very, very special Thanksgiving celebration we always acknowledge with great fondness and reverence: The First Thanksgiving.

No, of course, we weren’t there. We’ve researched this amazing key event in the history of our lives, though, until we know all the players and all the scenes by heart. For it is a thing of the heart, for us.

I know, you think I will begin retelling the day the Pilgrims and the American Indians sat at table together and shared recipes and held athletic contests. If so, you are wrong, for that was the Second Thanksgiving.

The First Thanksgiving, just one year prior, was one of starvation and death, of fear and despair, of great commitment and great loss.

It was the Thanksgiving of the “five kernels of corn”.

Five Kernels of Corn.

Among the members of that small band of pioneers, those five kernels were all each one had to eat, daily.

Look at it.

Look at it and think, “This is all I have to eat today,” and see where your thoughts run . . .

5 kernels of corn were all they had to eat in 1620How well could you cope with that? What would you do? How long before you began eating bark? How long before you started thinking about stealing or quitting? How long before you went mad?

Those people were of stiffer stuff than we are, I am sure.

At least, those who survived were.

They had been lied to, cheated, and left for dead, by their own people. They did not know how to tell good berries from poisonous. They did not know how to capture the wild animals around them. They did not know which plants held nutritious roots beneath the soil. For that matter, they did not know how to subsist in a culture of bare subsistence.

But they knew God.

And before the following year had passed, they had found relief, had found food, had found mercy at the hands of the humans around them, and had found new vigor and courage. And that, without running wild to murder or theft.

They were thankful, of course. They gathered in their new bounty and created a celebration that lasted for several days, with lots and lots of food.

But after prayer, the first course of the big meal was:

Five kernels of corn.

Lest they forget.

And so is the practice at our house.

Lest anyone, ever, could forget.

Won’t you join us?

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour, and Saturday Sayings

Silence is golden, they say.

the golden hour

The Golden Hour

In the silence of the Golden Hour,
before the breezes awaken,
when only the solitary bird that sings a solitary peep is awake,
before the stars are completely gone,
the brush is colored with the dawning.

el oro de la aurora . . .

Who does not rise in time with this lusts not for gold.
Not truly.


“The older I grow the more I see the value of silence. There may be a time to speak–but it is so difficult to know when to speak and what to say. There is not explanation quite so effective as silence. Explanations rarely explain. If you are right your life will do its own explaining, if you are wrong you can’t explain. So, go calmly on your way and forget everything but the business of right living–and let time explain for you.”  –A. P. Couthey