Friday, July 20, 2012

Babies Don't Keep

I do calligraphy, and made this many years ago as a reminder. It sits on the hutch in my kitchen and is still a reminder, but now of my lack of regret over time spent with my babies as they grew up.


Saturday, July 7, 2012


If you are a new homeschooler, one thing you’ll soon realize is that homeschool parents learn as much, if not more, than their kids do! This is new territory for most of us, and in addition to brushing up on grammar rules, the Magna Carta, and photosynthesis, we find ourselves searching out information on learning styles, organizational methods, parenting skills, discipleship, and family health. Added to the titles of Mom/Dad, Teacher, Counselor, Coach, Chauffeur, Nurse, Cook, Wife/Husband is the title of… Student!

As a Student of Homeschooling, you have some homework to do. The more time and effort you put into this, the better your “grade” will be.

 1. First of all, spend time with God, in prayer and in His Word, every day. Keep a notebook close by, and jot down praises and petitions, scripture, and any special insight that comes to you during this time. This is your anchor, your firm foundation - whether your day is calm or chaotic. Pray for wisdom and discernment. Pray for physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Count your blessings. Homeschooling parents should have callouses on their knees!

2. Be a learner! Always be reading at least one book on homeschooling or parenting or Christian life – even just a few pages a day. The public library has lots to choose from. Go to homeschool workshops and seminars. There are hundreds of homeschool websites, articles, and blogs online – enough to give you fresh ideas and insight and inspiration every day of the year!

3. Find Titus 2 women. These are the more experienced homeschoolers in your support group, church, family –learn from them. Don’t be a Lone Ranger ! Attend support group meetings and workshops. Join a mentor group. Visit online homeschooling forums. You’ll find that there really isn’t anything new under the sun … The encouragement and support of others will be invaluable to you in this endeavor, and nobody can really understand like another homeschooler. Not only will God bring people into your life to bless and encourage you, but you will be able to bless and encourage others as well! This is the power of community.

4. Become a student of your children! Learn about each of them – their strengths, their weaknesses, their dreams, their fears, their likes, their dislikes. Homeschooling is not just about teaching academics, but also about helping your child develop godly character, grow strong and healthy in body and mind, and nurture his or her unique talents and abilities. Write out goals for each child in the areas of academic, spiritual, emotional, and physical growth.

5. Make your home a child-friendly learning environment! Take an honest look around. Is your home a cluttered, disorganized mess? Is it so neat and “perfect” that it could be featured in a magazine, but not really welcome exploration, discovery and creativity by a 10-year-old? It is not necessary to turn your home into a “school” – you are, after all, a family. But there are some things you can do to make your home a COOL place to learn. If you need to declutter and organize your home, check out or for help. Your kids will need a comfortable place to curl up with books, and a table or desk at which to write or color or do a puzzle or science project. Baskets, plastic crates, or cloth bins can hold a child’s school materials and supplies. Dedicate a wall, bulletin board or the refrigerator as a display place for your children’s special work. Hang up a time line or a white board. A little at a time, invest in things like bookshelves; computers; art supplies; a globe; good resource books like a dictionary, thesaurus, world atlas, field guides and writing handbook; good children’s magazines like Discover or Cricket or Nature Friend; educational games and DVDs ; maps; a copy machine; a magnifying glass, binoculars, telescope, microscope ; musical instruments ….

Whatever will encourage your children to explore the world, stretch their imaginations, dig deeper, develop their talents, and become lifelong learners! Put limits on “fluff entertainment” like tv shows,  movies, , computer games so that your children will learn to use their imaginations and explore the world beyond the “screen”. 

6. LAUGH. Enjoy your children and the time you have with them. Delight in their accomplishments and antics. Join in their games and activities. Develop a sense of humor, tell jokes, be silly. There is a time to be serious, but also a time to be lighthearted. This will do wonders to knit your family together and create treasured memories.  

7. Make your spouse and your marriage a top priority. There is a danger in homeschooling families for things to get out of balance and become totally child-centered. As much as we love our children and are dedicated to providing everything we can for them, we must not forget that they also NEED a mom and dad who love each other and are a strong team. This takes work. Be creative. Make a commitment to spend time alone together every week, talking about and enjoying life TOGETHER. Invest in your relationship and build a stronger family because of it. Family Life and Focus on the Family are two great Christian organizations that offer a variety of resources for this.


Mommy Help : The Weekly "Captain"

Life with 5 children is .... well, lively! My kids squabbled about typical things like who gets to sit in which seat of the van, who gets to bring in the mail, who gets to set the table ( okay, not so much that one ). I don't remember if I read it in a magazine or heard it from a friend, but a brilliant solution to this was assigning a weekly "Captain". Starting with the oldest child and working our way down, each Monday began a new week for the "Captain", and that child got certain privileges ( choosing their seat in the van - usually the front, bringing in the mail, picking the movie to watch ) and certain responsibilities ( setting the dinner table, feeding the dog ). Additional ranks, with their own perks and assignments, can be assigned to siblings, moving down the birth order. Once established, my kids never questioned the rights of the "captain", since they knew that their turn was coming.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Long Marriages - A Counter-Cultural Legacy

Mark and I will celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary this summer. Since I got married on my 22nd birthday, I have spent a significantly larger portion of my life married to this man than not.

I, Beth, take you, Mark, to be my husband, ....

It hasn't always been easy.  Does this surprise anyone out there who is actually married?  The idea of marriage is romantic and wonderful and exciting and fulfilling, and the reality of marriage is that it is those things due to extremely HARD WORK.  But what worthwhile thing is not the result of hard work?  To quote one of my husband's favorite movie lines from "A League of Their Own",
 "It's supposed to be hard. 
If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.
The hard... is what makes it great. " have and to hold from this day forward,...

 One of the speakers at this year's NCHE Homeschool Conference did two sessions on marriage, and the importance of making this relationship a priority, for both our and our children's sakes!  The speaker, Heidi St. John, shared how her extended family was full of a legacy of divorce -  parents, siblings, cousins. I realized that my family's legacy is very different than that.

... for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer,...

My extended family is full of long marriages.  So is Mark's.  My parents have been married for 53 years. Mark's dad passed away almost 10 years ago, still in love with the wife of his youth.  Mark's siblings have all been married for more than 20 years.  My siblings waited longer to get married, but my sister and brother have both been married for over 10 years, and my youngest brother gave up bachelorhood just a year ago and is now happily esconced in wedded life. All of my aunts and uncles have had long marriages to one life-partner, and all but one of my cousins.
I don't think we realize what an amazing thing this is. sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,...

The actual statistics related to marriage and divorce rates in this country are murky, but it is undeniable that the statistics are pretty dismal and that broken marriages and families are all around us. Divorce is in the church and in the homeschool community just like everywhere else.  Statistics aren't so murky in pointing out the effects of divorce on children and on communities. We are surrounded by brokenness and bitterness and resentment and loneliness and fatalism.  The institution of marriage is often attacked and berated as society grapples with the fall-out of generations that didn't honor their word or put others first, or more importantly, respect God's Word. 

My prayer is that my children appreciate and embrace this counter-cultural legacy, and realize what a treasure they have there.  It won't make their own marriages any easier, but hopefully will give them a vision for what it means to make a commitment to somebody for the rest of your life. You take the good with the bad, the ups with the downs, and you fight and work for what is worthwhile.  The wedding vows we made were a promise, our word before God and family and friends. And thirty years down the road, they still hold us together.

...from this day forward, until death do us part.