All posts by Jessie Mattis

How Much is Enough?

God helps those who help themselves, they say. Just believe and God will provide, they say.

I serve God by being a classroom parent for my eight-year-old, a children’s church worker, on the worship team, the PTA, and running my own business while chasing after my toddler, they say. I serve God by going to church, working, and living a quiet life, they say.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, I think the question we answer with how we live our lives is: How much is enough for God? Maybe we didn’t even know there was a question, let alone that we were answering it by the way we live our lives. But we are.

Is it okay, I ask, as I currently feel like my ministry is writing, though I could be serving more actively in my local church. Is it okay, asks the person who loves serving in multiple ways, and filling their evenings with meetings and events. Is it okay, asks the person who prefers quiet evenings at home, but is secretly a prayer warrior in the night.

Is it enough?

Am I enough?

As Christ-followers, we strive to please our King. We want to know we’re living our lives to please and serve him.

There’s no doubt that every single person we ask would have their own opinions on how we should best live our lives. We get overwhelmed by what others expect, think, or want from us. We insert artificial expectations (from ourselves, others, or God) into our lives and claim them as fact.

How in the world are we supposed to live up the expectations of ourselves, others, and God? How are we supposed to figure out the best things to pour our energies into without leaving ourselves worn and dry?

This is how:

1. Listen to God, above all else. There will always be other voices making suggestions or even demands for our time. Ask God to speak, and he will. Ask him to help you prioritize your life and he will. Yes, he speaks through the Bible, but it doesn’t end there. Quiet yourself and listen for words, impressions, or pictures that God might want to share with you.

2. Guard your joy and peace. Joy is deeper than happiness. It’s something that comes only from God and it can remain even in seasons of sadness. If our lives are so busy or our priorities are out of whack, our joy and peace suffers, plain and simple. If you’re having trouble reclaiming the joy and peace you know should be yours in Christ, I encourage you to step back. Make the space to reconnect with God and his goodness, even if that means saying “no” to things or even disappointing people. Once your relationship with God is rekindled, keep going wherever he directs.

3. Close your ears to people’s expectations. Sure, there are many trustworthy, well-meaning people who only want to help, but if their words begin leading you into a place of stress and uncertainty, hold your horses and take it straight to God. There are times when the people you’re closest to won’t understand what God is doing. They might think you’ve lost your mind. It’s then when it’s most important to cling to God and the truth he speaks. His opinion is all that matters.

We are each blessed to have different personalities, as well as different thresholds for service, people, activities, and ministries. Serving God wholeheartedly is going to look entirely different for one person than it does for another. That’s okay.

Our differences are by God’s design. As long as we seek him, aim to please him, and follow where he guides, we are enough. No matter what that looks like as it plays out in your life.

You are enough. Because God is enough.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.  – 1 John 3:1 (NLT)

Happy November and have a blessed weekend! Thanks for dropping by!

(Quick reminder – Power Up, the ebook, is on sale for $0.99 through 11/2/19! It’s a great tool for demonstrating to kids what it looks like to have BIG FAITH in everyday life. Get it or gift it at this price before it jumps back to full price!)

Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus

I recently wrote a blog post for an online women’s event called “With Purpose,” which was put together by an inspiring Christian blogger named Lo Tanner (at lotanner.com). My post, which I’ll link to in a second, targets moms (women’s event and all) but it’s completely relevant to dads too.

As Christian parents, our biggest job is to raise children who love Jesus. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but if we keep focused and trust God’s guidance, we can do our best to raise our kids to follow Jesus.

Disclaimer — my oldest is currently eleven, so I’m not claiming to have this all figured out by any means. (Does anyone ever? I want to read their blog post, if so!) So far, so good. 😉

Also, if you read to the bottom of the post that I’m about to link you to, you can enter to win a signed paperback copy of my inspirational novel, Power Up — do it now before you forget; the winner will be chosen on 11/6! 🙂

Here’s the link: Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus. I hope you leave inspired and encouraged! Thanks for joining me today!

Finding a Homeschool Rhythm…or Lack Thereof

It’s officially my seventh year teaching my children at home, and I confess: I can’t seem to find a good rhythm this year. I know, *gasp!*

If you’re Supermom and have never had trouble balancing your homeschool schedule, you’re going to want to stop reading now. Put down your phone, go to your sparkling clean kitchen and make yourself a hot beverage. Then sit down and put your feet up so your brilliant children can give you a foot rub. You deserve to celebrate your elusive-to-every-other-homeschool-parent-on-the-planet accomplishment.

If, however, you or someone you know resonates with my struggle to balance the teaching with the running around and living life, stick with me for a few. Hopefully you’ll leave encouraged.

As homeschool parents, we spend hours planning, imagining, and preparing our school year. Our glorious summer break comes to a close, fall semester begins, and we implement our perfectly crafted daily schedule. But a few days later… Dentist appointments. Playdates. Preparing for a garage sale. Co-op. Dance class. Ninja class. Day trips to visit out-of-town relatives.

All wonderful things, to be sure! But all things that disrupt the daily flow, am I right?

(Let me interrupt myself for a second to say this. Many of us need to say “no” more often. We need to prayerfully reduce the number of activities on our calendars and set healthier boundaries for our days. This problem of over-scheduling is real, but it’s not what I’m talking about today. Today I’m talking about balancing what’s left in our lives when we’re already being deliberate with our “yes’s.”)

So far, it’s one of those years when I tell myself, “I’ll get into a rhythm next week, after…” And then next week inevitably comes along with the same mantra.

I have a few choices at this point. I can:

1. Cancel all outside obligations in order to have a perfect rhythm to our school days.

2. Do school well into the evening on our busy days, no doubt leaving the kids grumpy and their mom (ahem) grumpier.

3. Embrace the freedom homeschooling allows, utilizing our intended school schedule as much as we can, prioritizing math and language on our busy days, and emphasizing life learning in between.

I choose sanity. I choose option three.

If you’re smothering yourself with guilt because your six-year-old hasn’t done science all week as you’ve been potty-training your toddler, let me be blunt: It’s going to be okay. Chances are, your kiddo watched a PBS show that taught him all about lightening bugs and now he knows more than you ever know about them. He may even be throwing around the word “bioluminescence” like a pro, while you’re busting out your smartphone to google it. (This example may or may not be based on a true story. Also, thank you Wild Kratts.)

My point is this. Children, especially in the grade school years, are always learning. They pick things up and remember them like nobody’s business. Which makes your job so much easier. Live life, have conversations about what you see and do along the way. Talk about caring for others, teach them to show empathy, teach them the importance of hard work and the value and blessing of learning.

Go to that dentist appointment without guilt. Discuss what you see, what the dentist is doing, and why. Discuss the plight of the homeless man on the street corner and our role in helping spread the love of Jesus to others. Go to the library and read a book about teeth. But don’t feel guilty if you don’t!

Book learning is important, and I’m not at all advocating dropping it; I’m simply suggesting we need not tie ourselves and our definitions of a successful homeschool year to how many chapters we’ve covered or if we made it through the entire book by the end of May. Give yourself some grace to move a bit more freely with your days. Trust me, your children will thank you because you’ll be less stressed overall and they won’t be doing math drills at bedtime.

Structure is a good thing, and it’s important for children to know what to expect, so a changing weekly calendar that helps them know what to expect from their days may help when your weekly activities vary. Consistency is great, but the ability to roll with the flow is necessary too.

This past Saturday we had a garage sale/bake sale, which was my 11-year-old daughter’s idea to raise money for a worthy charity. (How do you say no to that?!) The week leading up to it was full of sorting, pricing, and baking. During that entire week my children formally did math four days, science three, language arts twice, and then we had lots of life lessons on organizing an event, baking, and money handling. I call it a successful week.

Give yourself the freedom to call messy weeks a success. Accept the grace God is offering you and be released from the guilt of not having perfect-looking weeks. I’m beginning to think those are a myth anyway…sort of like the Supermom I referenced above.

Dear Lord, I pray you would bless this dear reader with a calm, peaceful heart. Reassure her/him when they feel inadequate, and help them embrace and make the most of messy-looking weeks. When patience is thin and emotions are high, I pray for wisdom and the strength to lead their children well. Thank you for the opportunity to teach our children at home. Give us eyes to see our children as you see them, and may we be a blessing in their lives, leading them ever closer to you. Amen.

Note:  If you or a parent you know is stretched thin and you want to prioritize your grade-schooler’s spiritual development, but just don’t have the brain space, I encourage you to check out my novel, Power Up. You can simply hand it to your child and let it lighten your load by giving your child real spiritual truths to think about while it entertains!

Empowered Kids — Everyday Life with the Holy Spirit

I know I’m not alone when I say readjusting to real life after a great vacation is tricky business. Going from the Florida coast back to Indiana has been less than glamorous. In less than 24 hours we traded palm trees and white sand for broken mowers and the discovery of hornets living in my daughter’s bedroom wall. *shudder*

Though things could certainly be worse, all this ridiculousness has left me with a need to be encouraged. Thankfully I have great family and friends to keep my eyes pointed toward Jesus when things aren’t going according to plan. I also have the encouragement of several blogs I read. That’s what I hope to leave you with today–encouragement, not only from my words, but from being introduced to another blog, which is always full of hope.

I recently wrote a guest blog post for an inspirational blogger named Karen Friday. She and her husband pastor a church in Tennessee and have been in ministry for over thirty years. It’s an honor to be featured on her blog (Karen Girl Friday), so today I’m going to link you to my blog post on her site. Check out “Empowered Kids — Everyday Life with the Holy Spirit” and then browse her other posts too, and I promise you’ll leave encouraged!

Have a great week! 🙂

3 Quick Ways to Rock Homeschool This Year!

We have just begun our 7th year of homeschooling. That sounds like madness to me. Honestly, I still feel like a newbie in many ways, though I’m currently teaching a 6th grader, a 4th/5th grader (yes, that’s one kid), and a 2nd grader.

Whether you’re a brand new homeschooler or an old pro (or don’t homeschool at all, but know someone who might benefit from this info), I want to share three ways to rock your homechool this year. (I’ll keep it brief, I know your me-time is precious!!)

1. Adjust your attitude.

Yep, your attitude – it’s contagious. Kids will have bad attitudes that come and go, but trust me when I say your attitude will set the tone for the entire day. (No pressure, right?) Maybe this isn’t news to you, but I learned it the hard way.

When my kids were younger, I was so overwhelmed with life I went through a period where I was perpetually grumpy. And guess what. So were my kids. When I came out of my brain fog long enough to realize this was the case and take action to improve my mood, the differences in my kids were night and day.

So set your alarm 15 minutes earlier, spend time in prayer focusing on what matters, and embrace the day with a smile. Start the morning with your kids doing or watching something silly together so you can begin the day laughing before anyone has a chance to get grumpy.

2. Don’t give your checklist power over you.

I used to be the worst offender of all when it came to this. I would plan our day and when things went off course (as they always do), I would get frustrated because we didn’t “get through” everything.

Here’s a secret, so listen carefully: you don’t have to “get through” everything! (You may want to read that last line again…)

Whether homeschooled or public schooled, your kids will never be taught everything in school! Take some of the pressure off yourself and rest assured – any remaining gaps get filled in as they grow up. Teaching our kids is a big responsibility, yes, but stressing about it does way more harm than good.

3. Remember your ultimate goal.

Write it on a post-it, tape it to your mirror, and re-read it as you brush your hair. My main goal is to instill in my children a love of learning. Yours may be different. And honestly, I went through quite a few of our homeschooling years being ruled and frustrated by my checklist, which resulted in the exact opposite of my goal. Now I’m fighting to undo the damage and teach my kids that learning is actually a wonderful, fun thing. Don’t make my mistakes. Stay grounded by remembering your main goal in all of this homeschooling craziness.

I truly believe: if you make sure you have a good, positive attitude, you’re willing to put down your checklist without stress or guilt, and you remember the purpose of all this in the first place, you can have an amazing year with your precious kiddos. It’s all a mental balancing act, but you can do it.

I have to remember all of these things every day too, and sometimes I fail. But the next day I try again, and you can too. Kids are resilient and God’s grace has got us covered. Just keep trying, giving your days (and your kids) to God, one day at a time. You got this.

(Real Quick…When I began this blog a year ago, I decided I would NOT write about parenting. Or homeschooling. I figured it would be doomed to become white noise against the backdrop of the thousands of other blogs on the same topics. Turns out parenting and homeschooling are pretty significant pieces of my life though — who knew? 😉 And so… the times, they are a changin’. Though my focus may shift more toward parenting and homeschooling, the underlying theme will remain: “Inspire. Ignite. Power Up.” That is what I hope you’ll feel through my posts, no matter the topic.)

I’d love for you to share your thoughts or questions in the comments below! I also welcome any ideas of parenting or homeschooling topics you’d be interested in reading more about! Thanks for reading! 🙂

One last thing — if you need support as you teach your kids (8 and up) how to embrace a living faith of their own, please check out my book, “Power Up,” which was released by Elk Lake Publishing Inc. earlier this year! I wrote it exactly for people like you and me, who want nothing more than for their kids to fall in love with Jesus. See more below.