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!
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
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.
“Give your anxieties to God.” “Let Jesus carry you.” “Let the Holy Spirit’s peace cover you.”
All messages I’ve been focused on all month as I’ve been marketing my book, Power Up. All important truths, yes?
But then camp.
Camp, you ask?
My two oldest kids are heading to church camp soon and I recently spent several days FULL of anxiety over my two sweet, innocent homeschool kiddos heading into a world of other kids (strangers who have been exposed to who knows what all) without me there to guide them.
I was about ready to pack up my family and move to an unoccupied mountain where I wouldn’t have to worry about my kids being exposed to this world full of awfulness ever again.
My wheels wouldn’t stop spinning as I thought and over-thought some more, my head filled with lies about the safety (or lack thereof) of my children.
It didn’t take me long to realize how wrong and misguided my focus was. I knew in my head that God would be with them (and me), and I knew my thought patterns were unhealthy, but still. Sometimes it’s hard to change, am I right?
Well, after spending more time in prayer and with Jesus (which I hadn’t been doing enough of and it showed), my thoughts began to shift.
What if, instead of all the horrible scenarios playing out as I had feared – what if their lives changed for the better? Imagine that! What if their relationship with God was ignited and challenged and they developed lifelong friendships? What if separation from their family was just what they needed to be stretched and ultimately learn the joy of letting God take care of them? What if they had exciting adventures and experiences that they could look back on and maybe someday tell their children about?
I’m finally (thank goodness) at a place where I’m genuinely excited for them to go and experience a week of camp.
Clearly, this isn’t just about camp. What’s going on in YOUR life right now that has your wheels spinning and spinning, only digging you deeper into the mud? Where do your thoughts need to shift from “expecting the worst” to seeing the ways God could use the situation in positive ways?
It’s not an easy shift to make, so I challenge you this week to spend more time in prayer. More time deliberately being thankful and speaking aloud the truths of God’s word. Ask God to bring about the change in your mind that you feel you can’t accomplish alone. Seek out a Christian counselor if you’re not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. Have hope.
And don’t forget this promise from Joshua 1:9:
“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Lord, I pray for each person reading this, that you would ease the burden in our minds right now. This world is full of burdens and brokenness, but it is also full of goodness and hope. Holy Spirit, bring your hope and truth to replace the lies in our minds. Let us find joy in the middle of trials and laughter in the middle of our storms. Be our joy, peace, and truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Book update: Power Up has been released for about a month now and I’ve gotten some great feedback! I honestly believe this is a book that every grade school aged kid could benefit from. I’ve also gotten great feedback from adults who have told me it opened their eyes to some new ideas. If you know of anyone who might benefit from it, would you help me spread the word? Honestly, this marketing thing is tough, so I appreciate all the help I can get. 🙂 Thanks for following on this journey with me!
This week, a dear friend I met on Twitter (yes, I discovered it is possible to meet dear friends on Twitter!) featured an interview with me on her blog. The interview focuses on the Holy Spirit and also covers some info you may not know about me, as well as my writing journey, and hopes and prayers for my new book, Power Up.
In place of a new post, please hop over to Melissa McLaughlin’s blog, Truthful Grace, to check out the interview! (Or find it at https://melissamclaughlin.org/ ). And while you’re there, peruse her other super-inspiring posts and consider signing up to receive her blog updates. She’s truly one of the kindness, most genuine, Jesus-loving souls around; you won’t regret it. 🙂
Praying that this week the Lord gives you a supernatural sense of peace, encouragement, hope, and vision. And in case you need this reminder from Jeremiah 29:11… “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”
When I had an idea for a book about two years ago, I put it
on the back burner in my mind. Who has time for writing when you’re raising/homeschooling
three kids, right?
One weekend my husband and I went on an overnight road trip
without the kids. On the way home, somehow we decided to make a list of hopes
and dreams. Anything went.
Onto the list it went. “Write a book.”
I didn’t know we were going to delve deeper into our list items, although I should have, being married to Chip and all. 🙂
“What would you want to write about?” he asked.
“I don’t know…I sort of have an idea I’ve tossed around.”
“Well then, let’s get it on the calendar and you can start
And so it began. I took an evening, hid away on our back
porch with the laptop, and started writing. The story poured out of me. After
about a zillion rounds of editing (being brand spanking new to this and all), I
finally had a completed manuscript. But then I was left wondering, “what now?”
After reading stats on how few manuscripts get accepted by
agents and publishers, I was tempted to quit. But I loved my story. I believed
in it, and continue to believe (as basically every Christian writer says) that
God gave me this story to tell. I had to trust that he would get his message
out however he thought best.
Maybe I would send it around to a handful of
agents/publishers and if I didn’t get any bites I could pursue self-publishing
(which is a completely valid option; doesn’t need to be last resort, fyi).
After reading over and over how important networking is for
writers, my husband and I attended an amazing writer’s conference (Blue Ridge
Mountains Christian Writers Conference). We learned a ton, made some friends,
each won an award for our respective manuscripts (awesome!), and finally, on
the last evening, we met Deb Haggerty. Deb owns a publishing company (Elk Lake
Publishing Inc.) and “publishes what she likes,” as she put it.
She viewed the print-out of Chip’s story, Under the Dancing Tree, and offered him a contract on the spot (it released a couple months ago – check it out on Amazon, it’s a perfect Father’s Day gift!). She invited me to send my proposal after the conference, which I did. I had to trust that if it didn’t work out with Elk Lake, God would lead me and my story where he wanted us.
Even though I knew it could take weeks or even months to
hear back, I was so nervous and excited I checked my email every hour or so.
Less than 24 hours later, I heard back five words I’ll never forget.
Power Up has a home.
My heart almost stopped. I told Chip. I called my mom. I
couldn’t stop smiling (smiling’s my favorite).
And so the roller coaster began. While Deb agreed to publish
it, she requires all her authors to have literary agents. That felt like a
potential dead end. Not a lot of literary professionals are keen on middle
grade book ideas, unfortunately. I had to trust that if God opened a door with
Elk Lake, he would lead me to an agent.
A couple months later I signed with an agent and was signing a contract with Elk Lake to publish Power Up. A happy ending, right? Except it was just the beginning.
Thoughts plagued my mind – what if nobody likes it? What if nobody
buys it? What if, what if, what if.
The publishing process has its stressful moments, and I
remember one evening after everyone else was in bed, sitting alone with my
anxious thoughts, lost in worry.
Then I heard a quiet voice.
You say you trust me,
but worrying about it all shows that you DON’T trust me. Give it to me; you can
It was a sobering moment for me. So I took a deep breath and attempted to do just that. Staying on top of the worry is an ongoing, but worthwhile, effort. My instinct tells me I have every reason to worry and be anxious. But giving in to the worry only reduces the gift that Jesus offers (to carry me/my burdens and work it all out for good) to a back-up plan.
Though my book, Power Up, is really close to being published, it’s down to getting the final details right. Worry still tempts me. What if, what if, what if…
But I don’t want to relegate Jesus’ faithfulness to my back-up plan. He’s got his plans for me and for this book all in the palm of his hand, where they’re safer than any place I could ever dream.
What does your journey of trusting God look like? Are you handing your burdens to him in full trust? Is he simply your back-up plan for when you finally reach the end of your rope?
I pray you’ll find the courage to trust God more than ever before, in whatever circumstances you’re experiencing, and have faith in his ultimate goodness and love for you. Even when life is messy, he is a trustworthy God, of this you can be sure.