Tag Archives: power up

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!)

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!)

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.