How Do You Do It?

When others find out we have four children and we are homeschooling, their next comment is often..."How Do You Do It All?" My answer...I don't. Well, I don't do it ALL. I don't have a job outside the home, I don't keep my house spic-n-span clean, I don't cook a 5-course meal every evening. I do, however, try to do my best at following the Lord, raising our children, and managing our home. And besides, I know of plenty other mothers who have more children than I do - four really isn't a lot of kids you know.

I have learned so many great tips over the years that help in keeping our chaotic lives running smoothly. Most of the tips I've learned are from the MOMYS Digests.

Here are some tips....please share yours with me too!

*Laundry always seems to be the straw that broke the camel's now, I get it all done on one day...We have one day designated as laundry day. Everyone in our house knows it. We don't go anywhere on that day, I camp out in the laundry room, divide the clothes into baskets and when they are clean the children put them where they go. It's done and no one has to think about it for 7 more days : ) Another tip...what to do w/ all those mis-matched socks? Have a stash of safety pins in the laundry room. Pin matching socks together as you throw them in the washer, when they come out of the dryer, take the pin out and fold them together. It helps if you instruct your family members to be sure and fold dirty socks together instead of throwing them in the basket separately, that way you don't have to search for them.

*SAY NO - just b/c someone asks you to do something (teach Sunday School, drive the church van, babysit their children, volunteer at school, coach t-ball...) doesn't mean you have to say yes. My family and I are much happier when I say YES to what the Lord asks of me, instead of what someone else thinks I should do.

*Stretch out your grocery shopping trips to once every 2 weeks or even once a month. I save a lot of money this way by eating what's in the cupboard, and I save a lot of time instead of going to the store for 2 hours every week.

*Go Pajama-less. It took my husband about 3 years of convincing before I finally caved in and decided to do away with the kids' pajamas. He'd always ask me why I was making our bedtime routine harder than it had to be. With 3 of our kids born in less than 3 years, bedtime was a little crazy for a few years. So now, the kids go to bed in what they wore during the day, or put on some clean play clothes to wear the next day. Sure, we have a few p.j.s for special times, but for the most part - we're pj-free and bedtime is much easier (so is laundry.)

*Take some hints from FlyLady and tackle your house one zone at a time. You can do it. Focus on the cabinets one week, then maybe filter through toys the next week. One job at a time adds up to an organized home.

*Find out what's important to your husband and focus on those things. If your husband would prefer to come home to a warm meal rather than an empty laundry basket then try to change your priorities. If your husband is irritated when he finds you still in your pajamas, but doesn't mind if the floor isn't mopped - then try to put on clean clothes and forget the floor! It'll make your evening more peaceful.

*Put your kids to work! I have found that children as little as 3 years old can begin to really contribute with chores. Some moms have a scheduled chore chart that works well for them, others use the MOTH system to schedule chores throughout the day. I have found that designating a certain time of the day for everyone to work together on chores works best for us. While I'm preparing dinner, each of the kids is working on whatever chores I give them. When they are finished w/ one job, they come to me and get another. I try to pair up 2 children on a hard job, and allow an older one to teach a younger one how to complete a job. Works for us.

*Homeschooling. This is one of the most misunderstood genres of our time. When a non-homeschooler sees me they think I must be out of my mind trying to teach all these kids. When, in reality, it's because we are all home together that our life is simpler than it used to be when we were going to and from school and pre-school and to and from PTA meetings and ballgames. We lived in the van. Now we live at home and have tons of down time and we aren't dead tired at the end of the day. (By the way, we still go to and from ballgames!)

Let me know what works for you....


A Rut and Bullies

We are in a rut right now. You know there are good days, and bad days. Well, lately we've had a few bad days in a row. Our children just seem to be at each other's throats and my temper is short with them. I need help!

While searching for encouragement, I came across this post from Spunky's blog. Sounds like a GOD-INSPIRED plan to me! Check it out...


Terrible Two?

You know that old saying....welcome to the terrible twos? I don't buy it. I'm getting ready to dive into my 4th round of parenting a two-year old. Two is not terrible. I've talked to many parents about this, and most all agree. Two is fun...three is difficult. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news for those of you who are parents of two year olds and you thought you made it out easy. Maybe the third year will be a breeze for you, but most parents I talk to agree that age 3 is difficult (especially with boys.)

Every child is different, and we cannot label a child's disposition just based on their age; but I have found that when one of our children turn 3 we have to step up our game a little. We have to be on our toes, prepared for mood swings, ready to be challenged, and stocked with a full tool box. It isn't impossible. Obedience can be achieved. But a three year old is more in tune with their own will and their ability to push Mom's and Dad's buttons. I want to encourage parents of three-year olds who wonder WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FUN BABY? No, you have not failed miserably as a parent. No, your child probably doesn't have ADHD. No, your child will not spend most of their time in the principal's office. But, your child will have a better sense of right and wrong, and a respect for boundaries if you stand firm during the third year. Didn't someone once say this is the hardest job in the world? Here is where the toughness begins.

Now, as for the two-year old....this fall we'll have another two-year old in our house. Let the games begin! I have found that during this year it's a wonderful time to teach your child to come when he's called, to stop when Mommy says stop, to use his manners, and to learn to use the bathroom. That's a lot to accomplish in one year and it's a lot of fun. So, look out TERRIBLE TWOS - we are ready to make it TERRIFIC!


My "Grand"Father

One week ago today, my grandfather passed away. It was time. His life ended the way he would have wanted it. We take confidence that He is with the Lord now, and his body is whole. But, I still miss him. Thanksgiving will never be the same, Christmas will be hard, and the joy of watching basketball together is lost. I have lost my father and now my grandfather. My life is full of testosterone though with the love of my husband and three sons. Here is what I wrote when I learned of Grandad's death...

Thanks for your prayers. As you know, Grandad was like a father to me. He was a young man when I was born, about 40. He supported me when my own father was too sick to do so. He drove me to and from school and cheerleading practice when my own father was in the hospital. He walked me down the aisle when my own father was in a wheelchair. He attended the dedications of my children after my own father had passed away. He was the epitome of a "grand"father to me. I will miss him dearly.


Put On Your Thinking Caps!

Yippee! We started school today. Everyone is excited. Don't school supplies just get you in the mood? The kids wanted to start on Saturday when we set up their desks and organized their folders; but even I have to draw the line somewhere. We are homeschooling, so we can do it whenever and wherever we want - but I still want my weekends off ;)

The kids and I made "Back-to-School Thinking Caps" for our first day. (We even gave the baby one, although he's not too crazy about it.) When my son sat down to start school, his DVD teacher asked everyone to "put on their thinking caps" so he felt very prepared to start 2nd grade.

A day like today makes me thankful that we decided to homeschool again. However, I know the hard days will come soon enough. I need to remember what this feels like. For those of you who are skeptical about homeschooling, just know that we are human. We have good days and bad days just like everyone else. But, in the end, we feel like this is what's best for our family for right now. I make a lot of mistakes, but sometimes I get it right (with the help of the Lord.)

This summer while we were camping, a family who was camping a few spots away from us came over and asked me..."Do you homeschool your children?" Uh oh... this is one of those moments where you know that your answer is going to shape another person's entire perception of the whole homeschooling population. A thousand questions ran through my head..."Where are my kids right now?" "Did someone just get in trouble?" "Where is the soap to wash their mouths out?" Anyway...I stood tall and said, "Yes, as a matter of fact we do." She said, "I knew it. I could just tell. You have such articulate and smart children, and they work together so nicely."

WOOO HOOO! My heart did a little party dance. When all I can hear is the bickering and complaining, it's nice to know that a stranger can see the light shining through my children. Thank you Lord for calling me to teach my children to be salt and light in this world. Keep me focused on the goal. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." 3 John 4


Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

Recently, I have been questioning church. How did our modern-day church come to be? Is this the way God intended for the church to be when He sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost?

I have been browsing several blogs and websites reading others' opinions on this matter. Some sites of interest to me are this one, and also Levi's Table (which is currently under construction.)Evidently, I'm not the only one who is confused.

I realize things change, years go by, customs adapt, and there is a time and season for everything. But, can that reasoning be used to explain why the traditional American church has gotten so far removed from how churches operated in the New Testament?

No, those churches were not perfect. There are about 6 books in the New Testament which include letters written by Paul to churches who needed correction.

I'm just thinking out loud and will keep reading and praying until the Lord satisfies my soul. I want what He wants in every area of my life, including church.

Pray for Dylan

Most of my email friends and family know about our cousin, Dylan, who is 2 1/2. He has Krabbe Disease, and it's terminal unless God decides to miraculously heal him. I just wanted to post a thought here and ask you to keep praying for him. You can go here to learn more about their 2 year struggle with this genetic disease. For Phil and Amy: "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." Psalms 31:24

Here is a song written by Debra Soule for Dylan.


This road I travel on
I did not choose for my own
This valley, deep and wide
I will only cross through by your side

This child so loved, so deep
Will you forever keep
Please hold him in your care
And show him the ways you are there
Please show him the ways you are there

Lord I praise you for this little one
And I praise you for the things you've done
And I see your love through his sweet sweet smile
And I thank you for this little while
And I thank you for this little while

I may not understand
But I trust it's in your hands
As I kneel before your throne
I know I don't face this alone
I know I don't face this alone

Lord I praise you for this little one
And I praise you for the things you've done
And I see your love through his sweet sweet smile
And I thank you for this little while
And I thank you for this little while

Lord, you've felt this pain I feel
This sorrow was your own
Your Son died to bring mine hope
Even when you call him home

Lord I praise you for this little one
And I praise you for the things you've done
And I see your love through his sweet sweet smile
And I thank you for this little while
And I thank you for this little while

Goal-Oriented Parenting

I am in the heat of the battle right now in the fight to raise our children to be independant-thinkers who have a heart for serving others and serving the Lord. It is the hardest job in the world. The toughness of it, makes me lean toward my lazy tendancies and find the easy-way-out or quick-fix for parenting. I want to find the perfect book, or the best websites to help me with tips and tricks to lead my children in the right direction.

But then I come back to reality and realize - I'm in the trenches, and there's no way out other than to fight the battle and win. My best weapon is the Sword of the Spirit.

I have found some useful tools along the way though. One of those is the basic idea of goal-oriented parenting. It sounds elementary enough, and some would say "Duh!" when I mention it. But, for those women in my generation who were educated with goal-oriented principles, it somehow skipped the mothering/parenting arena.

The basic idea is this: your family has a goal, a vision or a purpose. Then, you live by it. When children come along, you have a goal or a vision statement for each child. When life-altering decisions arise, or when a trial surfaces you refer back to that vision statement to help you find God's best for that child and for your family. Simple enough, right?

I have been reading a book right now titled "Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family." It is a wonderful book written by Steve Maxwell from ministries. Most of the ideas in the book are simple, but in our over-educated society we seem to have lost sight of the simple truth of the Gospel.... love your neighbor as yourself and love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Isaiah 26:3 says, "The LORD gives perfect peace to those whose purpose is firm." So, I am making my way back to the simple life and seeking the Lord about the purpose and vision He has for our family and for each of our 4 children. When I am faced with decisions about whether or not to homeschool, about which extra-curricular activities would best serve my children, about which church we should be attending, and about which friends I should allow my children to grow close to - I can refer back to the purpose. Maybe when I'm in the trenches I'll have a clear vision of the victory ahead.


Wil's Birthday by Gil & Val

This was written by friends of ours in Kentucky. It motivated me so I thought I'd share it with you. If you like what you read I can add you to their newsletter email list, just let me know...

Dear friends,

Last weekend we celebrated my second son's seventh birthday. I have decided to make special landmark times in my boys' lives at certain stages of their childhood. So, for his seventh I invited my dad, my brother and his son, and some of our close friends and their sons to go camping. We went to a primitive campground with our pop-ups and swam, climbed rocks, shot bb guns, threw knives and hatchets and other men stuff. That night we cooked big huge porterhouse steaks on the grill and sat down at two picnic tables stuck together for a Viking like feast. We toasted and banged the table and made lots of noise. Then, after dinner, we gathered around the fire and all of the men had prepared a special blessing for Wil. One of them had made him a ring out of three braided pieces of metal and spoke to him from Ecclesiastes about three strands are not easily broken. Another man gave him a flashlight and talked about walking in God's light as sons of light. My father told the story of David and Goliath. His soccer coach gave him some specific encouragement regarding certain characer traits that he had observed in Wil on the field. We ended by laying hands on him and praying for him. It was a special time and I pray that God would use it to establish him in his kingdom and develop a vision for his life.

We all need these rights of passage in our lives, especially boys. The Jewish nation celebrated the barmitzvah which literally translated means "son of the law". When a young man reached twelve or thirteen his father would throw a party for him. All of the important people in his life would be there. In the middle of the feast he would lift his son up into the air and declare for all to hear, "this is my son in whom I am well pleased". From that day forward the men in town would relate to this young man as one of their own and not as a little boy. Sound familiar? Yep, God the father made the same declaration about His own Son, Jesus. This was, if you like, a right of passage for Jesus. Something special happened at his desert barmitzvah. The heavens were opened up and the Holy Spirit descended and His world and ours was forever changed!

David Elkind in his book All Grown Up and Nowhere to Go points out the lack of landmarks, signposts, and rights of passage in our generation. Once upon a time boys and girls dressed differently, did their hair differently, talked differently, read differently than did older boys and girls and adults. Little boys, for example, wore short pants until a certain age. They grew up looking forward to becoming a "big boy" one day. When the day came to put on "big boy pants" that was a landmark event, and one that had meaning. That may seem silly to our sophisticated postmodern minds but ask yourself this question: How does a boy know that he is a man today? When he can legally see an R-rated movie? When he can buy beer? Boys need to be able to look forward to certain milestones in their life but we have removed many of those. Today, young children dress just like little adults. How hard is it to find a decent, lady-like (sorry for not being pc), modest dress for your daughter? Now I know why the Amish dress like they do. Maybe I'll grow a beard with no mustache and start wearing homemade clothes and driving a black van myself. They do happen to be the happiest people in America you know.

I don't think that we all have to become Amish but surely we can creatively revive some sensible "rights of passage" for our own boys and girls. We all need a point of reference to know where we stand and where we are going. I remember peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time. I couldn't begin to take it all in. I had no frame of reference for something that big and because of that it was actually a bit disappointing. I felt like I was merely looking at a postcard. But, the next day, when I strapped on my backpack and began to descend into this vast maze of rock and sand I began to get a real feel for the beauty and immensity of this wonderful place. I began to meander around the canyons within the canyon and I began to notice the changes in the rock strata and the plant life. On top it was like winter and as we descended we passed through spring and by the time we reached the bottom it was summer. I now had some landmarks and signposts to help my pea-sized brain to take it all in. In the same way, our children need some concrete way of navigating through this Universe that we have brought them into. They need to be able to know where they stand, know where they have come from and where they are going. They need something to reference, something to compare themselves to or life is just too much to take in all at once.

Wise parents can help their children by letting them be children when they are children and giving them some signposts along the way to help guide them into mature adulthood. This might be their first gun or bike. It might be being allowed to decorate their own room. Maybe it is getting to stay up later or having the weight of certain responsibilities placed on their shoulders. Try to think of ways that you can help your young person get excited about becoming an adult and accepting the responsibilities that go with it. I hope that after this weekend Wil finds himself more grounded in who he is as a boy. I also hope that he has been pointed toward manhood and finds himself excited about gaining the wisdom and skills that he will need to succeed as a man in this world. I hope that he has some landmarks to guide him down God's ancient paths into His perfect will for Wil!

When I finally conquered the long grueling climb out of that hole I sat down on the edge and watched the sun easing down in the west. I was able to relax and take it all in. I had a new perspective and I could appreciate just how grand was this canyon. If we provide the proper perspectives for our children they will sit on the edge of manhood or motherhood and look out over the edge with confidence-the confidence which comes from knowing who you are and where you are going and, most importantly, that God is with you wherever you go!

"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."



Israel, racism & Francine Rivers

UPDATE: Check out the comments for one from Francine Rivers herself!
I am an avid Francine Rivers reader. I have read every book, and am looking forward to the new ones. Lately, I have begun to question where pride/racism first began to take root. (I know the's sin, but I want a more detailed answer : )

In Rivers' series on Biblical women, she has reminded me that 3 of the 5 women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ are foreigners: Tamar, Rahab and Ruth. These women were not daughters of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Bathsheba and Mary were the other two.) They sought after God in their own way, with what little knowledge they had. Of course, God saw their faith and led these women to His chosen people. If God often chooses to use those who are from "outside the camp" then why did His people ever adopt the idea that those who are "inside the camp" are more privy to His love? With all the news about Israel right now, and the recent comments made by Mel Gibson - I am thinking about this anti-Semitic attitude. Where did it come from in the first place? God never said that His laws and His love were only for the Hebrew/Jewish/Israelite nation. Biblical history, in fact, includes men and women from other nations who were active participants in the formation of the Israelite nation.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and any book that helps me to learn more about Him catches my attention. These books by Francine Rivers, have not only captured my attention but they have rekindled my love for the Hebrew scriptures. There is so much to gain from the Old Testament. I am so thankful for His Word which is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Summer Struggles

Am I the only homeschooling mom out there who is ready for summer to be over with? I just finished our first full year homeschooling, and we are headed into our second year. So, this has been our first summer. It seems as though we've digressed. I guess we just need the struture of school back in our days to make things go more smoothly. I always prefer structure to "fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants." I think that's why God gave me my husband b/c we fly a lot!

Rookie Blogger

I am new to the blogging community. I've been reading a lot over the years, just never set up my own until now. I think this will be a good place to vent instead of unloading on my husband after he comes home from work ;)

I will talk about a myriad of things here. The most popular topics will be parenting, homeschooling, Christian education, church, Bible study, and my children.