An Easter Memory



My mom has always been better at sewing than me.  The most impressive thing I have ever stitched is quilts for the cribs of each of my children, but any experienced seamstress would look at the back of those and note how messy they are.  But my mom, she was amazing.  

One year, she made my sister and I matching Easter dresses, navy blue fabric with yellow roses, double-layered with a sheer, silky yellow fabric on top.  It had ties around the back.  I was almost to the age where I didn’t want to match very much anymore, but that year I loved the matching dresses and felt very stylish.  

I don’t know exactly what led our family to try that little church, but I do have an idea.  The winter after I turned nine, we had attended the church at the top of the hill in our little mountain community.  It was a bigger church in the community but still quite small.  I can remember the shape of the pastor’s hair, I remember going to the church one night to watch a testimony movie and feeling inspired by it.  I remember being baptized there and being so excited by the portable CD players my grandparents gave us as a congratulatory gift.  

But what I remember most about that church is the kids.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember them in a good way.

I remember always sitting on the perimeter in Sunday School class, and avoiding speaking as much as possible.  I remember fidgeting in my chair.  I remember dreading the moment the class was over.  Because after the class the other kids, who all knew each other (I didn’t know any of them), would go sit on the couches in the corner of the lobby and talk and laugh.  It always sounded like a mean-spirited laugh to me. I didn’t join them, I stood across the room, right outside the door of my mom’s Sunday School class, waiting for her to come out.  I just didn’t feel comfortable sitting with those kids.

One Sunday I plucked up my courage, and I went and sat on the couch while the kids talked.  None of them really talked to me, and it was nightmarishly awkward the whole time.  One of the ruder boys started pointing at me and teasing another boy about having a crush on me.  I don’t know if that boy did actually have a crush on me or not, I don’t know if I was the target or he was, I just know my nine-year old heart started thumping in my chest.  I finally got up the guts to sit with these kids, and now their attention was focused at me in a way that made me feel as if they were laughing at me.  Maybe they were.  Or there is the possibility that my childish self misunderstood the situation, but I didn’t wait around to find out.  I grabbed my hardcover kids’ devotional Bible and booked it back over to my spot by the adult’s Sunday School class door.

I never sat with those kids after that.  I cried every week while I was getting ready for church, not sure what to wear, terrified that the kids were going to laugh at me again and not wanting to give them any provocation with a silly outfit.  I vividly remember my mom trying to help me get dressed one day, but I was convinced all the kids would make fun of me.  I stood crying in front of the mirror, my eyes red and puffy.  I look back at this as an adult and realize perhaps I was being rather sensitive and a smidge ridiculous that morning.  But my mom looked back at me in the mirror, and I saw her eyes soften.  She turned me to her, gave me a hug, and softly said that I could just stay home with my dad.

My dad and I watched football on the couch that Sunday morning.  And I don’t ever remember going to that church again.

The next time I remember going to church, I was dressed in that pretty yellow Easter dress, matching with my sister.  We drove to a new place, a little white church in a high altitude park, surrounded by fields and mountains.  A boy was in the foyer with a tall white-haired man helping him pull a thick rope that rang the bell in the steeple.  We listened to the sermon while trying not to be distracted by a red-haired girl with the same name as my sister who sat in the row in front of us, grinning over the seat back.  My mom visited with the adults after the service and then walked us kids out back to the merry-go-round, one of the metal kind that spin impossibly fast, the kind they don’t make anymore.  Another girl with dark braids and a bright white smile, dressed in a long fur coat, elegantly watched the other kids as they spun, but she turned to grin at me as we walked up.  

It was a cold, blue day, with a strong wind that carried laughter.  But this time it was the good kind.  Laughter born of joy and friendliness and love for each other and for our Savior on that bright Easter morning.  The kind of laughter that I’m sure Heaven must be filled with.

We never left that church, we stayed there until I was grown and married.  They weren’t perfect, there were a few church dramas, but those people truly functioned as the body of Christ in our lives.  We spent countless Easters there.  We spent many Christmases caroling to the smattering of houses at the foot of the mountains.  The pastors taught us more about our Savior.  The church payed for Christian summer camp for all the kids, in exchange for Bible verses memorized.  They invested in us, and trained us, encouraged us, and taught us truth.  They helped grow me into maturity.  The whole church came to my high school graduation.  The ladies threw a bridal shower for me, they helped plan my wedding.  And the whole church came again the day I married Derek.

Sometimes I’m not sure why children grow up and feel the need to leave something that was good to them as a child.  Because I’ve never found a church that I loved, or that loved me as much, as that one.  It was the love of Christ they showed to us, the love of the One who suffered and died to save us from the wrath we deserved, the love of the One who rose again to free us from our sin.  The love of the One who keeps us still, now and through all eternity as we will worship our King forever in a place with no more tears.


They reflected His perfect love imperfectly.  But it was still dazzlingly bright.


Happy Easter, my friends!  Praying you reflect the love of Jesus our Savior to all who enter your church doors this Good Friday and Resurrection Day.  You never know when the Lord will use you, His hands and feet, in your little church right where you are, to make a lasting impact on someone's life.  Even someone who is already a believer, like I was.

New Orleans And The Resurrection

(Photos taken in April last year, because the trees are weirdly delaying their flowering this spring.)

I'm going to be totally honest guys, it's been a difficult few weeks around here.  Actually, if I'm being totally honest, it's been a difficult year for me so far.

By all measures, this should be a great year.  It's our first year in our new house.  The kids are all getting bigger, and a little easier since we don't have a tiny baby anymore.  Derek is happy in his job, and homeschooling is going fairly well.  It's not an election year (ha!).

But I've been having a hard time.  There is the difficult church situation that is leaving me feeling unanchored.  A couple relationship struggles that are giving me some stress.  Disturbing trends in the culture, and in the "capital-c" Church, that are making me fearful and deeply discouraged.  And my own sinful impulses that make me impatient and irritable with those I love most.

It's not too much, a bunch of (mostly) little things really, but all together it's done a number on my emotional state.

The last couple weeks I hit a breaking point.  One whole week I found myself waking up every hour of each night.  I've never done well on little sleep.  I was completely exhausted, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually as my relationship with the Lord has taken a hit through all this too (no one to blame but myself for that one).

I cried my way through the week, and I just so desperately needed a break.  I could see only endless months of the same ahead, with the only break (vacation) pushed out from May until August this year.  I needed a reset button, and vacation so often is that for me, but I couldn't even look forward to that for a long while.

Derek was due to go on a work trip in a couple weeks to New Orleans, and I could not imagine holding down the fort very well with him gone.  I was so worried about it, I remember shooting up a pathetically short prayer that the Lord would help me to maintain a good and cheerful attitude when Derek was absent.



But then Derek called my mom. And she agreed to watch the kids.  So I get to go with him to New Orleans.

There is something about getting away from my normal surroundings that gives me a clear perspective on life.  It reminds me what I love about home.  It allows me to look with fresh eyes on the things that I need to change.  Vacation almost makes me internally sheepish about how I've been taking my wonderful blessings from God for granted.  It all becomes more clear, somehow.

It's silly, so silly, to write about this during Passion Week.  This is the week that we remember how Christ suffered and died to pay the price for our sins.  For all my sin.  Including my sins of forgetting that Christ is my only anchor and hope, even when the church lets me down.  My sins of selfishness and pride that lead to the relationship struggles I've been dealing with.  My sin of fearing something earthly and temporary when God holds the future in His hands.

I deserved to die and bear the wrath of my own sins, but Christ bore that penalty for me.  He suffered more than I ever will have to suffer, He took my punishment.  And then He rose from the dead, victorious!  He cast my sin away and credited His righteousness to me when I put my trust in Him, and now I'm free of that burden forever.

How silly of me to worry and agonize about the future.  My future is secure for eternity because of what Jesus did for me.  As it is also for everyone who turns to Him in repentance and faith that He alone will save them.

And I'm remembering all this now, as I'm packing a bag for New Orleans.

Maybe it's just a trip to The Big Easy, but planning for that trip at the same time that I'm planning for celebrating His resurrection on Easter has reminded me.  He took care of the biggest thing, the sin that has separated us from Him.  He took care of this relatively small thing of giving me the refreshment of a break that I didn't even dare to pray for.

He's got the rest of it under control too.

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 
1 Corinthians 15:57



I may try to write again before Easter, but if I don't, Happy Resurrection Day, friends! I pray you know the peace that comes from knowing our Savior.  He is Risen!

Stuff I Like | March (Yes, It's Late)



(Photo not necessarily related to this post, though I did enjoy the snow we got in March.  Now that it's April though, I'm ready for Spring.)


Well, I'm a little late with my March favorites post, so let's just get right into it, shall we?

This article on downgrading your blog. 

There was a time when I briefly considered setting up a fancy self-hosted website, before I cam to my senses and realized I didn't want to be roped into paying (pretty big) money forever to keep my blog up and running.  I thought this article about why it's not a bad idea to downgrade your blog was really interesting.  I can attest to the flexibility and low-pressure of keeping your blog on a free platform.


This amazing miracle sippy cup.  

We finally tried one of those spill-proof, spout-free, sippy cups, and they are so cool!  I couldn't figure out how it worked at first, but I handed it to Georgie and she started gulping away.



Hair training and Dove Dry Shampoo.

 I somehow stumbled across this Instagram account a couple months ago, and was inspired to start "training" my hair to go longer between washes.  The theory is that if you wash it less, your scalp will produce less oil, so...you can wash less.  Washing my hair is kind of a process, so cutting back on how much I wash it has actually freed up alot of my time!  I have just been using Dove Dry Shampoo from day 4 or 5 onward, and I have been really happy with it.  It is not an expensive dry shampoo, and it works really well.  I just spray it on my hairline and in different part-lines throughout my hair, fluff it up with my fingers, and it honestly looks like I just washed my hair.

(Mediocre phone selfie, but let's just look at my hair, okay?  This was five days post washing!)

This dress from Walmart. 

I grabbed this dress on a whim at Walmart the other day.  It's ten dollars guys, so I figured I couldn't go wrong, and when I tried it on at home I was pleased.  It is a nice length, has a nice swing to it, and the arm holes don't gap at all.  It'll be a great park day dress for the summer!

(Someday I will take a bathroom outfit picture and there will be no construction paraphernalia.)

This birth video. 

I have followed this couple off and on for a few years, and they finally had their baby after doing embryo adoption.  They have gone through alot.  It might have made me cry when I watched the video, in large part because her reaction reminded me of how I felt the moment Wyatt was born.  I cried just like that.  Something about that first baby (especially after having some trouble getting pregnant) is just so surreal.  I couldn't believe he was mine.  The nurse joked that if I didn't want him, she would take him, but I was crying because I wanted him so much.  Babies are just miracles.


This article on breaking social media addiction. 

As I've mentioned a couple times, I set up some limits for myself on Instagram lately.  It's been pretty freeing overall, and has really helped me to rein in some bad habits, as well as become a better blog reader again.  This article was like the last straw that broke my social media camel's back.  She has alot of good tips in here.

That's it!  I'll be back with more in April.

What I Read | First Quarter 2019



When I set my reading goals for this year, I only had one goal.  I told myself I wouldn't buy any books this year - I would only read the books from my unread shelf.

I only have one word for how it's going: ha!

In my defense, I've bought almost all my new books with a gift card I had, so technically I am counting them as gift books and still attempting to limit the amount of books I buy.  I have not, however, been limiting library books very well, so my totals are not very satisfying this quarter.

Books I Read: 16
Books I Bought: 10 (ugh!)
Books Off My Unread Shelf: 5

I lost ground.

However, checking in here reminds me that I really need to get back to reading just the books I own, so I'm going to try!



Without further ado, here's what I've read so far in 2019.  You can click the links to read more thorough reviews on Goodreads.





Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Calahan - I am glad I read it, because it is interesting to know more about C.S. Lewis and his wife, but it didn't exactly endear Joy Davidman to my heart.  Also, too much quivering for my taste.





Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson - Enjoyed the book recommendations in this book, and decided I will not read another book by Sarah Clarkson if I can help it.  I just don't want to know what I'll do if I read about how she studied at Oxford one more time.





The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery - This book really can't be described by any word better than "delightful".  I loved it.  It was outlandish, it made me laugh, it made me love Montgomery more.  If you like broody classics, this is not one.





Three Wishes by Lianne Moriarty - Moriarty's books are like really fattening candy - not good for you, a little embarrassing, but great as an occasional mindless stress-reliever.  That's about how I felt about this one.  It's not my favorite of hers, but I needed something light.





Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown - I liked the hero, I'm glad I read it, I'm a little embarrassed to have enjoyed it so much, and I wouldn't really recommend it.  How's that for an opinion? It was just very violent and crude.  Very.






A Man Called One by Fredrik Backman - I wouldn't necessarily say I think it deserved the level of hype it received, but it was alright.  I typically like grump-character-finds-true-friendship stories, so I enjoyed it.





Micro by Michael Crighton - If it weren't for some briefly described and unnecessary nudity toward the end, I'd give this an unreserved thumbs up.  It's like a fusion of Jurassic Park and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and read exactly like an action movie would if it were really a book.





Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos - Not a huge fan.  I did enjoy the quirky humor, but I wanted more from this book.  I think some opportunities to touch on some really meaningful themes were missed.  Also, way too much ridiculous political opining for a kids book.






The Giver by Louis Lowry - Badly miscategorized as a middle-grade novel, in my opinion.  But I thought it was great, reading as an adult.  I don't think kids, even teenagers, would get nearly as much out of this as an adult would.






Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt - I loved it so much, go read it right now!  I'm a huge Schmidt fan.  If you need an entry point to good middle grade books, you should read something by Schmidt (except not Orbiting Jupiter, because I think that one is pretty sad - start with his more quirky, fun books first).






Voyage With The Vikings (Imagination Station #1) - I read this to the kids for fun, and it is the first read-aloud we've read so far where my oldest was actually begging me to read another chapter.  Wyatt has read the next book in the series now, all by himself, so if you need something that will get your kid into chapter books, this may be a place to start.  Wyatt is such a science kid, it was fun to see him getting excited about history-related topics for once!






The Radium Girls by Kate Moore - Derek and I read half of this together on vacation last year, and then he tapped out, so I finally got around to finishing it by myself.  If you don't like medical dramas, you might not like this one, but I am all about medical and courtroom stories, so this was right up my ally.  The history and personal stories of these girls were so tragic and fascinating.






The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair - I picked this up for inspiration on reining in my social media habits - it worked.  But I only really liked this first half of the book.  The second half would be helpful to naive parents of teenagers, but was just disturbing to me as someone who is neither a parent of teenagers nor naive.






America's First Daughter by Stephenie Dray - This was my book club's recent pick, and it was quite good overall.  It made an amazing audiobook on 1.5x speed.  I HATED the main character's casual thought of using abortifacient herbs though, and wonder if the author was making this up (about a historical figure, no less) to make a modern pro-abortion point.  Which if she was, that actually makes me angry.

My goals for the next three months:

Read more books on my unread shelf!

Read more books that will make it in my "Top Books Of 2019" list.  I want a nice long list of strong books to recommend to you at the end of the year - the only ones from this quarter that I see making the cut would be The Blue Castle, Radium Girls, and Pay Attention, Carter Jones.

What are your favorite books from the year so far?

Just Chatting



I pour a little half and half in the bottom of a pink marble mug, and top it off with sub-par coffee because we are out of the good stuff.  The kids are eating breakfast and watching an episode of Little Bear.  There are some TV shows that wind kids up, and some that are calming to children, and thankfully Little Bear is of the calming variety in our household.

I go around the corner and settle into the homeschool room.  I set up this room so we'd have a quiet(ish) corner of the house to do work in, but I've also found it serves quite well in the morning when I am trying to sneak in some personal Bible study time.  I am working through Hebrews (again), and close my eyes to run through the first three chapters in my head.  I was hoping to have chapter four memorized by now, but I always am too optimistic on these things, no matter how hard I try to be realistic.

And now quiet time is over, the kids are starting to get bored with Little Bear, and I am still sitting down to attempt to write this chatty post.



On Being "So Busy" And Feeling Like Myself

Elizabeth wrote a similar post about hobbies recently, and she mentioned that although she would never want to poo-poo those who are single when they say they "are so busy" (because doesn't every stage feel so busy?), the difference when you have kids is that you're busy, and any time you start something there is always the possibility of being interrupted.  I fully concur with that.  There are so many things I don't try to do, or posts I don't start to write, because I know I'm going to get interrupted.  But this is me breaking the pattern and spilling out some words anyway, even though I will likely be interrupted in the next five minutes.  Something is better than nothing, right?

March is the first month this year where I've actually felt like myself again!  I don't know what it was about January and February, but I just felt somewhat lost both months, like I was running to catch up to my life.  I realized I probably had to let some things go, and cut some things out of my life that were discouraging me.  I quit Bible study because it was just too much right now, put myself on a social media diet because I was escaping to it too often, and planned a few spontaneous field trip days for me and the kids because I used to do that all the time and I miss it.  

(I didn't know what photo to put in this section, so here is me in January, before my non-burgundy roots started to grow out. Maybe I should get my hair re-done one of these days...a hair appointment has never hindered me from feeling like myself, just saying.)

On Not Hating Spring Anymore

Though I do actually enjoy the winter, seeing some signs of Spring has helped bring me out of the duldrums as well.  I took the kids to a park twice this week, and we could have been in short sleeves, it was so nice.  The grass is greening up in town, and I am keeping my eyes peeled for flowering trees to start budding so I can whip out my camera and get some spring-time pictures of the kids (the only thing I regret about living in the mountains is that we don't have flowering trees).






The kids like to bring me "flowers" from outside, even though it's really just handfuls of dead grass (don't try to tell them that though).  But I was pleased to see the other day that in the midst of the grass and dirt clods that were left on my counter, there was a small, green, fern-like plant as well.  So spring is coming, even in the mountains.  

I used to hate spring, hate it, because up here it's mostly just mud season.  Snow is melting, but nothing is growing yet, and your shoes are constantly muddy.  But somewhere in the last couple years I realized maybe my loathing of spring was based on a limited, immature view of it.  When I was young, I hated hiking too, but now I enjoy the exercise.  When I was young, I hated going on mountain drives because it seemed boring, but now I love to explore new roads in the car and find all the gorgeous views.  When I was young, I hated spring because it was muddy and dull...and it's still rather muddy and dull, but when you look closer, you can see the signs of life returning after a long winter, and there is something more refreshing about it now.  Everything starts new again.  There is a redemption to it that I never saw when I was young.

Of course, it also helps that I can now drive to places where there are flowering trees (I love flowering trees).

On Medieval Guilds, Juggling, And Music

We are on the countdown until the end of the school year, and I have been tracking the days on our calendar and the lessons left in our curriculum book daily to make sure they are lining up.  I am not one who thinks you must finish the book before the end of the year, but I also don't want to reach our last day and realize we only have a few more lessons left.  The Type-A side of me would not be able to rest.  We are mostly on track though, and I am thinking of tripling up on our math lessons for a couple weeks so we can finish math early and take the last month of school to just focus on "fun stuff" - history and science.  I think it might be a nice way to wind down the year.

Speaking of winding down the school year, and also speaking of history, our co-op is doing our big spring event next week, a medieval "guild".  Each family is supposed to pick a trade, make some goods, and dress up in medieval garb to come barter at the marketplace.  I cannot tell you how much mental anguish I have gone through trying to figure out what to make.  I had signed us up to be weavers, but then realized how ridiculous it was to think that I could "weave" (knit) enough...something...to trade at the guild, all by myself.  Because of course my little non-knitting kids would not be a help.  I was thinking about shifting to some other simple cloth-related craft, but couldn't come up with a tight enough idea.  So after much frustration I switched us to being the jugglers.  Juggling is kind of a trade, right?  Court jesters and all that?  Okay, no, none of us can actually juggle, but we can make some pretty neat little juggling balls, and it's a lot simpler than weaving something.

And speaking of co-op, we also did a field trip the other day to an "inside the orchestra" event, and it immediately made me regret not taking up the violin in my younger days.  It also made me want to break out my flute again.  It's really tricky to learn how to make the flute actually make noise, and I already have that part down from years ago, so I'm halfway to playing it, right?  In reality I am not a very musically talented person, but I so wish I was.  Enthusiasm counts for something, I think.



On Book Clubs And Reading Too Many Books At Once

Despite never thinking I could keep up with a book club, I have found myself in two book clubs over the last year.  I get excited about book clubs because it's so nice to read a book and have someone to talk to about it.  I love reading a book at the same time as friends or family so we can discuss it later.  But I will also admit that I get a smidge stressed about book clubs or buddy reads, because I am such an ADD reader.  I can't stick with just one book!

Recently I decided enough is enough and I would just read one book at a time, and read that book clear through before picking up another one.  That idea lasted for all of one book before I was back to reading a chapter here and there from five books again.  The problem is that I am a mood reader, and my moods change so often.  I also have a terrible time deciding what I am in the mood for and feel like I have to try five books before I can decide...and then I inevitably never decide and just continue piece-mealing five books at once.

(Who am I kidding, it's more like 10-15 books at once.)

I am going to try the one book thing again, maybe with my most recent bookclub book, Far From The Madding Crowd.  Have you read that one?  PSA: It's free on Kindle.

Chime in, do you play musical instruments, enjoy or hate spring, read too many books at once, or have experience with medieval guilds?  

Tips and tricks appreciated.

Remember Who You Are



Do you remember that classic youth group illustration, where someone stands on a chair, and then they try to pull someone on the floor up onto the chair with them?  Inevitably the person on the floor ends up pulling the person on the chair down instead, and the whole point is to choose your companions well, because it's easier for someone to pull you down than for you to pull them up.

I think there is some truth to that idea, but I find myself remembering that illustration now as I am reading middle-grade books this month.  One more reason why I enjoy reading middle-grade books that I didn't mention the other day is that it allows me to screen books for my kids to someday read.  And as I finished a book recently, I realized it was a great example of how a book can either lift up a child's behavior by inspiring a desire to be more respectful and gentlemanly and kind, or it can bring a child's behavior down by glorifying bad character or poor attitudes.

There are different ways that books can elevate kids, either by giving an example of how they should be, or sometimes by giving an example of how they should not be.  I just remember that my favorite books from my childhood are the ones that gave me that feeling of wanting to be nobler, kinder, and wiser.  As I try to decide what books I'd like to hand to my kids someday, I want to evaluate each book and decide - "Do I think this book will lift my child up, or pull them down?"


( I have to get full mileage out of all the pretty snow pictures before winter is over, so humor me!)

I recently finished reading Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt recently, and it instantly made the list of books I must read to my kids someday.  There are several great quotes I could share, but there is one in particular I wanted to expand on a bit today.

First, briefly, this book follows an American military family after an inherited Butler unexpectedly shows up on their doorstep.  He swoops in and changes many things right away.  From the first day that the Butler starts driving the kids to school, he tells them as he's dropping them off "Make good decisions, and remember who you are."

Toward the end of the book, as Carter (the main character) finds himself struggling through some difficult things, this exchange happens:

"'Have a good day, Young Master Carter,' said the Butler.  'Make good decisions, and remember who loves you.'

I looked at him. ' I thought it was "remember who you are?''

The Butler looked back at me.  'It is the very same thing.'"



As soon as I read that line it rang true, and I copied it down into my bullet journal.  I've been thinking about it since then, and realized I love that so much because it's exactly what I think my parents did for me, and what I hope for my kids - that they would know who they are because they know who loves them.

Their dad and I love them.  I love my kids more than I can even express to you, dear reader, and I'm sure you could say the same about your kids.  But I've also realized recently that in many ways I need to do a better job of showing my kids how I love them by giving them my full attention, instead of constantly be distracted by lesser things, so this idea was personally convicting to me.  I want them to know every minute of the day that they are gifts to me, not burdens, and that I love them not just with my words but with my actions.

Their siblings love them.  Promoting good sibling relationships is a constant effort, and sometimes I get exhausted by it all.  I often end up exasperated and shouting down the hall "Work it out!"  There are good moments too, but I'm sure you can relate to the struggle.  I have to trust that eventually, with all the instruction on sticking by your siblings, it will soak through. And this quote is another reason why I think it's important.  I want them to know they not only have their dad and me, but they also have their siblings to count on and to love them.

Their Savior loves them.  Eventually Derek and I will pass away, and who can say if my kids will live near enough or be close enough to be there for each other their whole lives?  I would hope for that, but no one knows what the future holds.  So more importantly than anything else, I pray for them that they would turn to Christ, and I always want them to remember who they are - fearfully and wonderfully made, redeemed, saved, made righteous through the blood of Jesus.  I want them to remember who loves them - Christ, their Savior, through whom and by whom and for whom all things are made, including them.  This is their anchor that will hold through every storm, this is what will keep them on track when the world seems to come down around them.

Remembering who they are.  Remembering who loves them.

I think teaching those two things is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to their child.  



Who would have thought I would have picked up parenting lessons from a middle-grade book?  Another reason why they are worth reading, if they're good, I tell you!

What do you think about books elevating or worsening behavior?  What tests do you use for your kids' books?






How We Connect With Other Homeschoolers


How often do you connect with other homeschoolers? Are there alot in your community?

There are actually a decent amount of homeschoolers in our community, and that helps a ton, but I think connecting with other homeschoolers probably requires some effort no matter where you live.  Over the last couple years, I made the decision to get involved in a few things for the purpose of helping us meet other homeschool families.  So now there are a few ways that we connect with other homeschoolers:

1) Play dates and field trips with homeschooled friends.  I am very blessed to have so many mom-friends that have also decided to homeschool their kids.  I always knew my sister would be in the homeschooling trenches with me, and so we will always have cousins to plan things with, which is a huge blessing.  Even having one other person in your life who is also homeschooling is a huge encouragement.  And then I was pleasantly surprised when my kids reached school-age and I realized that several of my close mom-friends were also planning on homeschooling their kids!  We plan field trips and playdates with our homeschooled friends about 1-2 times a month.

 (Pictures from a hike with our friends last fall!)

2) Co-op.  This year I joined a homeschool co-op (not Classical Conversations, someone always asks that - my thoughts on CC is another post altogether).  My kids are still so young, the co-op is not something I joined for academic reasons (thankfully it's a pretty laid-back co-op!).  I joined to make connections with some of the homeschoolers in my area, and to give us opportunities to do some things that we wouldn't do by ourselves (hello, frog dissections).  It's been nice for my kids to make other friends who are also homeschoolers, and I have found so many like-minded homeschooling mamas, many who are ahead of me in their schooling journeys.  I think it's a great advantage to get to know other homeschool moms who are just a little ahead of you - they have so many tips.

3) Community Bible Study.  We are actually taking a break from Bible study right now, for a few reasons.  But when we do participate in Bible study it's an opportunity to meet other homeschool families because our particular CBS has a homeschool program.  The homeschooled students study the same book of the Bible as us moms.  I think more CBS and Bible Study Fellowship groups have classes for the homeschooled students these days, so it's something to check into.  When I was growing up CBS is where I made many of my homeschool friends!

4) Online homeschool friends.  We live in an amazing time, when you can make good friends not just with people who live near you, but with people around the world.  In our family this is more useful for me than the kids; I do not let them use the internet or social media at this time.  However, for myself, I have made many homeschool mom friends through this very blog! We may not get to see each other or get our kids together, but we can text each other for encouragement, pick each others' brains about curriculum, etc.  Online friendships have been a huge blessing and encouragement to me.



My Tips On Finding Homeschool Friends

1) Connect with the homeschool families you do know about.  I'm assuming you probably know at least one other homeschool family in your area, and if you do, ask the mom if you can meet for coffee to chat about homeschooling.  You can get a lot of tips for groups and resources through other moms.  Don't be intimidated if it's an older mom, she probably can still help you connect with other moms in your stage, and she'd probably love to encourage you!

2) Connect with in-person groups by searching online.  I've also found that social media and online resources have been helpful for me to find different homeschool meetings, field trips, etc.  Check out organizations that have groups across the country, like Wild + Free.  Check with your state's major homeschool organizations and umbrella schools.  See if your town has a homeschool Facebook page.  You'll probably get some tips on where to connect with other families from one of these, so see what you can find and go from there.

3) Remember, friends who are not the exact same age as your kids still count.  It's great if you can connect with other families with kids the same age.  But friendships with kids a couple years older or younger are just as great, and I think it's actually good for kids to have friends from a wide range of ages.  To me, the most important aspect is finding families who are like-minded when it comes to worldview and have kids just somewhere in the vicinity of my kids in age.  It's a beautiful thing to see a group of kids of various ages playing together, taking care of the younger ones, and learning from the older kids.



4) Finally, pray for the Lord to send you some friends!  Pray that the Lord would send some homeschool friends for you and your kids that would be a source of mutual encouragement and support.  I've prayed this myself before!

Homeschool moms, how have you been able to meet and connect with other homeschoolers in your area?  Any tips?

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