Tag Archives: Jessie Mattis

No Guilt: Motivation for the Homeschool Parent

Let’s be honest. Homeschooling is a privilege. A blessing, even. There are days that feel downright storybook. I fall asleep those days with these thoughts running through my mind: We rocked it today! No tears, minimal complaints, I’ve got this down! Did I mention these days are few and far between? Oh, they are.

More often than not, the end of the school day leaves me with these thoughts swirling: What just happened? What do I think I’m doing here? As if I’m capable of holding this all together!

Honestly, I guess most days fall somewhere in between. Or maybe the average day captures all these thoughts at various times; that’s probably more accurate. Am I the only one? It may feel like it at times, but I know I’m not alone.

Social media feeds are rampant with photos and captions of the perfect homeschool experience. Beautiful, intentionally decorated learning spaces. Happy children doing complex experiments. Schedules and planners so fancy they should have their own Instagram pages.

You want to know what our homeschooling space looks like? It looks like a messy countertop, probably still scattered with breakfast crumbs. It looks like the living room couch, surrounded by abandoned dirty socks (I think those things multiply if left overnight). It looks like a nook in our unfinished basement, chilly and peppered with storage tubs, but stocked with books and old school desks to boot. It looks like an out-of-place bookshelf in our kitchen, because we have limited space for our schoolbooks.

Our “good enough for me” homeschool space.

I’m done pretending I’m going to “get it all together.” If you’re a mom who enjoys interior decorating and creating a peaceful, intentional learning space, go for it! Do it and enjoy it! And if you’re not? (*raising my hand high*) Don’t stress; you can give your children all they need regardless.

Are you researching yourself to death trying to find the ever-elusive, perfect curriculum? I give you permission to settle for a “great” curriculum and end the search. Until you need something that works better for a different kid, that is. And then the search inevitably continues…

Are you wondering how so-and-so mom balances forty-seven activities, keeps a perfectly clean house, and cooks healthy meals three times a day? Here’s a secret; they don’t. Even if it looks like they’re keeping it together, and even if they think they are, they’re not. There will ultimately be a payoff for hectic schedules.

If your priorities look different than the homeschool family down the road, embrace it! Have a play date, put on a (big) pot of coffee and compare notes with other moms! Laugh about your failed attempts and cheer each other on for what’s working!

Whatever your homeschool day looks like, make it yours and make that enough. Make it your goal to lie down at the end of a day with these thoughts running through your mind: I showed up for my kids today. I was present with them, we accomplished plenty of things (even if it wasn’t all I originally hoped), and there were more smiles than frowns. Whatever we didn’t get to today, we’ll get to eventually and my kids will be okay. No guilt.

And then remember the most important ingredient of all to a successful homeschool life: Give it to God. Stop trying so hard with your own efforts. Place your control in his capable hands and sleep peacefully, knowing you have another chance in the morning and he’s got your back. He’s guiding you as you guide your children. Isn’t that a relief?

Thanks for reading! What other homeschool or parenting topics would you like to see me attempt to tackle here? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

And if you’re searching for a way to supplement your kids’ Bible teaching, my tween/teen novel, Power Up, is a great way to encourage kids to embrace an active, living faith of their own! Find it here or here!

Present in the Chaos

You guys. I can’t believe how much gift wrapping I have left to do before Christmas. Every year I tell myself I’ll have it all done by mid-month so I can just relax and enjoy the downtime before Christmas with my family. Maybe even read a book (gasp). But every year, I just don’t seem to pull it off.

I’m guessing I’m not alone. (Maybe I should be breathing a sigh of relief that I’m at least done with my shopping?) And here we are again, wanting to relish in the season but finding ourselves too busy. Maybe you aren’t physically busy; maybe you’re mentally busy. It amounts to the same thing, doesn’t it? Separation from the people or things we’d rather be able to focus on.

I’m not here to give you Three Magic Ways to Stop Being Busy, although I wish I could. Instead, I’m here to encourage us (yes, myself included) to embrace life right here, right now, no matter how messy, busy, or complicated life might be.

Be present in the chaos.

When just the very top of your to-do list looks like this…

  1. Make cookies for event
  2. Fill out Christmas cards
  3. Finish Christmas shopping
  4.  Spend time with Jesus
  5. Wrap gifts
  6. Play with my kids and/or spend time with friends

…please don’t be planning your Christmas shopping list in your mind while you’re playing with your kids. Be present.

Please don’t be worrying about the Christmas meal plan while you’re spending time with Jesus. Be present.

Please don’t be worrying about (fill in the blank) while you’re filling out cards. Be present.

People have been taking pride in multi-tasking for far too long. I admit, sometimes it’s a necessary evil, but I also realize how soul-sucking it can become. When we multi-task, nothing ever feels done. Our minds are always working on the next task, which means our souls never get a chance to rest and breathe before we move on to the next task or thought.

Be present in the moment, whether you’re spending time with loved ones, cooking, cleaning, or praying. Let yourself fully experience the moment, tell yourself it’s okay to just do one thing at a time, and see if just a little bit of that holiday stress doesn’t melt away.

There’s a quote by Dallas Willard that I just love (which is answering the question of how to be spiritually healthy).

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

That’s it. Short. Sweet. Magical.

Whether our hurry is physical or mental, it’s exhausting and is distracting us from God’s full purpose for our lives. Honestly, I ebb and flow in this area of life, but when I’m truly intentional to eliminate hurry and be present in each moment, the peace that it brings is indescribable, and so, so worth it.

 Eliminate the hurry and see what God has in store for you. Be present in each moment, and I’m positive you won’t regret it. You just may end up with enough space in your life, mind, and heart to fully celebrate God coming to earth as a baby in order to begin carrying out his rescue plan for humankind.

Thank you, God, for loving us enough to come to earth in the form of Jesus in order to show us your love in person, reach, and rescue us. Thank you that we can trust your plans for our lives. May we honor and glorify you this season by offering you our hearts, minds, and time. Let us slow down, be present, and embrace each moment as the gift that it is. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Leave me a comment to share your thoughts and your best tips for slowing down when life is busy! And, if you haven’t already, pop on over to the sidebar (or the bottom of your phone) and sign up to receive blog posts and writer updates straight to your email! When you do, you’ll receive a thank-you gift of a printable list of my top ten favorite inspirational quotes and verses! Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by! Oh, and – shameless plug – if you’re struggling to come up with gift ideas for the kids in your life, check out these books: Under the Dancing Tree by Chip Mattis or Power Up by Jessie Mattis! 🙂 With the magic of Amazon Prime, you still have time!

(One last thing – I just reread my Thanksgiving post and truly had no idea this post was about basically the same thing. Guess we all know time management is my big struggle these days, don’t we?? Haha!)

The Great Thanksgiving Week Struggle

“The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists of shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” — CS Lewis

It’s already Thanksgiving week, you guys! Every year I think to myself, This year I’m going to plan ahead and have a relaxed week of enjoying my family and being thankful.

And every year ends up more like, Okay, I need to sort my coupons, make my grocery list – when am I going to get groceries again? Today I need to blah blah blah and tomorrow I need to blah blah blah and on Wednesday I definitely HAVE to blah blah blah, and I don’t want to forget about spending time with the kids and, oh yeah, spending time with GOD. And somewhere in there I should probably try to be deliberately thankful.

I hope I’m alone in this Great Thanksgiving Week Struggle. I hope beyond hope you guys have it all figured out and are having an absolutely organized, peaceful, thanks-filled week. If you are, stop reading and go sip some tea by the fireplace while I speak to the rest of us (yes, myself included). You’ve earned it.

I’m definitely living the above CS Lewis quote lately, and I’m guessing you are too. We all have our things. Our stuff. Our busyness that piles up even when we deliberately attempt to control our busy.

And you, like me, may even be attempting to shove it all back in the morning to gain focus before the day slams into us. But you, like me, may be failing.

Image by hudsoncrafted from Pixabay

It’s time for us to do two things: take control and give up our control. Hmm, quite the paradox, eh? Sound impossible? Stick with me.

1. TAKE CONTROL. This is the part where we own up to how we’re handling life. This is where we ruthlessly cut out the busyness that isn’t an emphatic yes. And I’m not just talking physical busyness; this includes mental busyness. Yep, I said it.

It’s simple enough (or so it seems) to look at our schedules and cut activities until it fits the hours in our day in a healthy way—if you haven’t done this yet, please stop and do it now.

It’s not so simple to eliminate the busyness in our minds. But it must be done. First of all, let’s stop gorging on information. I’m the worst at this. Suddenly, at 11pm, I’ll need to know who played Phoebe’s boyfriend Gary on Friends in season 5 (Michael Rapaport by the way). Or I’ll suddenly need to find the best gluten free scone recipe and thirty minutes will speed by while I’m comparing reviews. And inevitably, as I search for a specific answer, a new question comes to mind that must be answered before I can sleep. In order to simplify our minds and therefore our lives, we have to stop feeding ourselves buckets of information.

That podcast you listen to every morning on the way to work? Try turning the radio off and giving your mind permission to form its own thoughts, memories, and ideas. The things you think you need to Google before bed? Make a list and tell yourself you can do it tomorrow. You probably won’t still care when you wake up and see your list. Rabbit trail averted.

To sum up number one: reduce the physical and mental busyness as much as is in your power.

2. GIVE UP YOUR CONTROL. And this is where we can exhale. You see, some things in life are just going to happen. It doesn’t matter what we think about it or how hard we try to simplify, so there’s no use getting caught up in stress. Sometimes we will find ourselves with lots on our minds and lots on our plates. If we give each thing to God as we’re doing it, we can at least experience a supernatural partnership and peace as we go about our days.

Sometimes a slower pace is in our hands, and we still need to give each moment to God, making ourselves available for his service and making our ears available to hear his encouragement and instruction.

My prayer for you (and me!) is that we can do better than “get through” the Great Thanksgiving Week Struggle of trying to get everything done. My prayer is that, even in our busyness, we can calm our hearts and minds (and hopefully schedules) enough to cultivate thankfulness and peace. Let’s not give our days the power over us. Let’s be deliberate to give our days to God.

Have an amazing Thanksgiving, everyone! Let’s find joy in being thankful this week. 🙂

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” — 1 Chronicles 16:34

Quick update: Thanks for sticking with me this year, friends! It’s been a huge learning opportunity figuring out how to market a book and balance writing with the rest of life, but I’m (mostly) loving it. I just finished the rough draft of my first women’s fiction novel. Woot woot! I tucked it away for a few weeks before I begin edits, but I’m definitely chomping at the bit — I want to get started so badly, but I know it will be best all around for me to wait so I can embrace the holidays without being (as) distracted, and it will also give me fresh perspective to get the manuscript prepared for eyes that aren’t mine. It might be awhile, but I’m excited about this one. And don’t forget about Power Up when you’re planning stocking stuffers this year… 😉

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!