Stacy Farrell

Slow down

Does your family know how to slow down?


When you’re racing through life, everything is a blur. You blaze past beauty without noticing it. You miss fine details. There’s no time for reflection—just the “next thing.”

It’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose. Do you know what that is?

Does your family know how to slow down?

Slowing down can be so hard.

You might be aware that it’s important to “stop and smell the roses.” But it can be ridiculously hard to actually do it. For most of us, the demands of life keep us running.

Truth be told, it was even hard for me to slow down to write this blog post. In fact, life has been so hectic that I’m still working on it as midnight approaches on the evening that it’s due.

Not that I didn’t start working on it much earlier. (I did.)

Actually, for the past month, I’ve been chewing on the topic, thinking about you … and pondering what I could share related to slowing down that might be really helpful.

Getting another perspective

When I tackle an important subject like this one, I often ask people I respect for their insight and opinions.

Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

When I asked my favorite wise counselor (my husband) for his input, he shared a profound perspective….

We are never really finished.

My husband and I are so different.

Whereas, I approach my work aggressively and imagine that if I work hard enough, I will eventually finish everything … my husband knows (and wisely pointed out) that our work here is never really done.

This side of Heaven, in the land afflicted with thistles and thorns, there will always be more for us to do.

If that’s true, then we must find a way to be at peace with the reality of our unfinished work. But how?

Align your thinking to your ultimate purpose.

As my husband explained, when we calibrate our thinking to align with our ultimate purpose—to glorify God and enjoy Him forever—we can begin to see the importance of consciously making time to appreciate the true treasures of life.

Your family’s list may be quite different, but for us, those treasures are simple things like:

  • Taking a long walk or bike ride
  • Playing frisbee golf
  • Playing and singing worship songs together

How does your family slow down?

Or perhaps I should ask, “Does your family ever slow down?”

Be intentional about putting on the brakes.

Art possesses a worldview.

How to Introduce Your Children to Great Art and Music


Most of what I learned in public school K-12, I’ve forgotten. But much of what I learned while homeschooling my children has literally transformed my thinking.

Isn’t it cool how homeschooling gives us another opportunity to be educated?

We learned to appreciate the art and music masters.

My mom played classical music in our home when I was growing up, so I had a bit of exposure to it. But when I taught art and music history at our homeschool co-op, I began to more fully appreciate the contributions made by the classical masters.

Together, we studied great composers such as Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel; Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Rachmaninoff.

We also studied the lives and works of great artists such as Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael; Rembrandt, Monet, Degas; Renoir, Cassatt, and Van Gogh.

Hands-on activities help us retain what we learn.

Taking an introductory look at the development of art and music, we worked with timelines, art notebooks, and postcard-sized prints.

Although the focus of the class was art and music history rather than the mechanics of creating art, I devoted a portion of the course to experimenting with art projects (in keeping with the style and methods of the masters studied).

Our studies established a standard of excellence.

Studying these great masters taught us to appreciate the complexity and skill required to produce great work. It provides a standard against which to judge the quality of other music and art genres.

Because I taught art and music history multiple times, my sons had multiple opportunities to be trained to recognize key works and nuances of style.

We also discussed how art and music possess an underlying worldview. We used Philosophy Adventure to expand our understanding of the history and impact of ideas.

Wordview in Art and Music

Whenever possible, make learning fun.

After we finished studying a particular group of artists and composers, we played a fun game in class. It pulled together all the different aspects of our learning in a way that challenged and amused.

It was simple, yet effective. We called it the Art & Music History Game.

Here is the way it is played:

  1. Students count off (1, 2, 1, 2), form two teams, and take turns representing their team.
  2. The player answers a question for the team. A wrong answer gives the opposing team a chance to answer the question.
  3. When a player answers correctly, the team earns a point and the player earns the opportunity to answer the next question.
  4. There are three types of questions:
    • A famous art print is displayed. Player must name the artist. (Extra point opportunity: Name the title of the piece.)
    • A famous musical composition is played. Player must name the composer.
    • A trivia question related to a composer or artist is asked. Player must answer correctly.

Would you like a sample of this game?

If I hear from enough people, I will dig into my old files and create a downloadable example.

So let me know. Add your name to the waiting list here:


Join the Waiting List >>

If you’re looking for engaging resources to teach critical thinking from a biblical worldview, visit our store!


Phonics or Sight Words

Phonics or Sight Words?


When the time came to teach my two young sons how to read, my homeschool mentor/dear friend Beth recommended I keep things simple.

(Affiliate links may have been used in this post. To read our full disclaimer, click here.)

She offered to let me borrow her copy of Phyllis Schlafly’s phonics-based First Reader.

She had used the First Reader to teach her children how to read and had shared it with several families before offering it to me.

(The colorful hardcover was a bit tattered by the time we used it.)

NEW TERRITORY

Back then, if you had asked me whether I planned to use a phonics-based or sight-words approach, I would have responded with a blank stare.

All of this teaching stuff was still new to me.

But homeschooling my sons has since taught me the importance of seizing every opportunity to help them develop critical thinking skills—starting with phonics.

HOW THEY LEARN CAN BE AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT THEY LEARN

According to a study performed by Stanford University Professor Bruce McCandliss, the way students focus their attention during learning actually has a profound impact on what they learn.

He explains:

Beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, instead of trying to learn whole words, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading.

Teaching your children to sound out a word “sparks more optimal brain circuitry than instructing them to memorize the word….”

You can think of phonics as a sort of mental calisthenics.

Just as a gymnastic exercise can build physical strength, the time your child works to decode one word can strengthen his or her ability to decode the next.

YES, BUT CAN THEY SIT STILL LONG ENOUGH TO LEARN?

Beth gave us the perfect book. But my sons had energy. Lots of energy.

(They were little boys, after all.)

Instead of sitting beside me on the couch, carefully sounding out words … they squirmed and fidgeted, eyes everywhere but on the page.

I got frustrated.

They responded in kind.

Our lovely lesson deteriorated into an unpleasant conflict.

The Power of the Fidget Ball

After a few sharp words (and a few tears—both theirs and mine), I discovered a secret to helping my sons concentrate during our reading lessons.

Fidget Ball

Years before fidget-spinners came on the scene, I found the fidget ball!

When I put that ball in my firstborn son’s hand, all his pent-up energy was channeled into squeezing it.

He suddenly gained the ability to focus on sounding out words. And, before long, he was starting to read. (It worked with his younger brother, too.)

You can use any ball that fits into your child’s hand. The one we used was a squishy, rubbery ball like this.

A SMALL THING CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE

Our experience with the First Reader and the fidget ball taught me that sometimes a small thing can make a big difference.

I learned to become a student of my children. Whenever possible, I worked with rather than against their natural, God-given temperaments.

Rather than expect my energetic sons to bottle up their energy, we simply redirected it.

SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY

Our time with our children is so short. The world we will release them into is filled with challenges and temptations. Let’s seize every opportunity train them to be critical thinkers.

Build their mental muscles from the start with phonics.

♦ ♦ ♦

Teach critical thinking with phonics.

A Creative Use For Our Bedtime Story

Do you have a bedtime routine for your little ones?

One mother shared with us that she uses our bedtime story, I’d Rather Be Your Mommy, as a first reader for her child.

Her child is learning to read by reciting the text!

Affectionately nicknamed “The Mommy Book,” it encourages Mom by emphasizing the importance of her job—and it repeatedly tells her children how much she loves them.

We love her creative use of our storybook.

I'd Rather Be Your Mommy

Get The Mommy Book >>

3 Tips for Storytime

3 Tips for Storytime


Cuddling together on the couch… exploring new worlds through the pages of story… learning significant character lessons through noble (or ignoble) characters….

Stories can connect us.

A Storybook Fable

Seize these fleeting moments.

You’ve probably heard this before. In fact, it might even be haunting you. It haunted me (because it’s true):

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

 Our children grow up in a twinkling!

That’s why, whenever we can, we need to seize the moment to make a memory—a lasting imprint upon our child’s heart.

BEDTIME STORIES

Do you have a bedtime routine for your littles? Reading a favorite story at bedtime can give young children a sense of stability and security.

I’d Rather Be Your Mommy is a bedtime story that celebrates motherhood and tells your little ones how much you love being their mommy.

But we shouldn’t stop reading to our children just because they get older. We never outgrow the ability to enjoy a good read-aloud.

3 Considerations Related to Storytime

I wish I had read more stories to my sons while they were little. Storytime was a special time. Intimate. Sweet.

Although I didn’t read aloud to my sons nearly as much as I wish I had, my husband read lots of wonderful books to them like:

Great stories can have a profound and lasting impact.

Observing the imprint those stories left upon my sons’ hearts, I have three suggestions:

#1 – Choose your stories carefully.

There is one story in particular that I read to our sons that left its mark on us.

I’m not sure how or why I ended up with a copy of The Wise Woman, George MacDonald’s enchanting fable. Nor can I say for certain what prompted me to select it as a family read-aloud.

But it has earned a place among our family favorites.

I am incredibly grateful that my sons and I shared the adventures of MacDonald’s memorable characters: the Wise Woman, Rosamond, and Agnes.

The poor foolish creature needs the wise woman.

#2 – Teach Character Through Stories.

Through The Wise Woman, we saw pride unmasked for the hideous sin that it is, and we saw the consequences of selfishness clearly displayed in the lives of two young girls.

We also witnessed the magnificent character transformation of a spoiled brat.

(I won’t say more in case you want to read the story for yourself.)

A princess is able to do what others cannot.

#3 – Inspire creativity through stories.

Stories can unleash your children’s imagination.

There’s an ongoing argument as to whether books or movies are superior.

Although I appreciate the unique features of a well-crafted film, I’m confident that reading a well-written book engages more brain power.

You can build on that engagement by encouraging your children to take a scene from a book and write their own ending.

That’s what we did with some of the exercises in Creative Freewriting Adventure.

These exercises take the pressure off the writing process and let students simply have fun. [thrive_2step id='24959']You can try one of these exercises with your kids.[/thrive_2step]

Imagine riding a winged horse

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Whether you’re reading a bedtime story again and again to a toddler, snuggling close and reading to young children, or piling on the couch with older children to read a classic tale, you won’t regret investing in storytime.

It’s one activity that can draw your family together, create memories, and spark meaningful conversations.

What book will you read to your children next?

always protect your marriage

What does it take to protect your marriage?


Great marriages are the result of a rock-solid commitment.

Great marriages require commitment

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Great marriages don’t happen by accident.

Once the honeymoon is over, marriage can become more challenging. Past hurts, disappointments, and a difficult family history can exasperate marital conflicts.

In my first year of marriage, I faced a painful decision. It tested the strength of my commitment to faithfulness and transparency in my marriage.

It’s a rather personal story…

I believe that marriage is forever

Questions I didn’t want to ask

“Sweetheart?“

“Yes?”

Dangerous questions filled my thoughts: I don’t really have to tell him about this, do I? This really isn’t a problem. Is it?

The August sun briefly blinded me as it bounced from a misaligned mirror on the car in front of us.

What if he won’t let me take this class? I really want to take this class….

A teacher I’d grown to esteem invited me to register for his class: “How Values are Communicated Through Literature.” It sounded fascinating.

Maybe I was over-analyzing—making a big deal out of nothing….

Yet, I was acutely aware of a commitment I had made to my husband before we married.

Be open and honest, even when it’s hard.

When we first started dating, I asked Roger what he needed from me most of all. His answer? “I need you to be open and honest with me.”

“No problem,” I replied.

“It won’t be as easy as it sounds,” he gently warned.

He was right. It wasn’t. Today, it was hard.

No secrets

Sweat from my bare legs dampened the cloth car seat. My heart battered my rib cage. Yet I resolved to be faithful to my commitment.

“I need your advice,” I said quietly. “I don’t think there’s a problem, but I registered for a class, and now I’m wondering whether I should take it.

“The very thing that makes the class attractive also causes me to question it: I’ll receive lots of one-on-one attention from the teacher.”

Roger braked softly as the traffic light turned red.

a red light means stop

“I really like this teacher,” I confessed wistfully. “I respect him. He challenges and inspires me to do my best….

“But I’m a little concerned because…well, I seem to be thinking about him an awful lot lately….”

A siren sounded in the distance.

“My response to him is strictly platonic, intellectual,” I quickly added.

“But protecting our marriage is my first priority. Given the stakes, I don’t want to take any chances.

“So I thought it would be good to ask for your opinion. What do you think I should do?”

Listen to Three Voices

Roger paused thoughtfully before answering.

Then he explained that I should pay close attention to three “voices”:

  • the voice of my physical/emotional response
  • the voice of my thoughts
  • and the voice of the Holy Spirit.”

Hmm….

Being honest with myself about my physical/emotional response, I had to admit that when I talked with this professor, my palms sweat and my pulse quickened.

Probably not a good sign.

Regarding the second voice, I proudly acknowledged that my thoughts were chaste.

But then I remembered: “Pride comes before the fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Lastly, with great sadness, I realized that the third voice seemed to be warning me to: “GET OUT!”

Two of three voices told me I was headed for trouble. 

What should I do?

I am thankful that I married a man who values liberty. He does not try to control me.

Throughout our marriage, he has steadily refused to make my decisions for me.  Instead, he offers his best counsel and leaves it to me to decide.

So, even as I shared what I thought I’d heard each voice say, I knew I was free to take the class.

What I would miss if I dropped the class…

This professor had a passion for teaching, a passion for writing, and a passion for life.

He had a extraordinary way of painlessly exposing my weaknesses and magnifying my strengths.

I thrived under his instruction.

During the previous semester, I’d gotten into a habit of staying after class to discuss my writing with him. Occasionally, at his invitation, I’d called his home to ask specific questions about my assignments.

I’d even interviewed him for my final class project.

In the intimacy of the interview, I learned a great deal about his personal life. I appreciated his insight and integrity.

Giving up the class would mean losing a great learning opportunity.

But, then again, taking the class might teach me more than I wanted to know.

Making the Hard Choice

If I dropped the class, I wondered what I would say to this professor?

When he first described the class, I had told him how excited I was to take it. And we had talked about it in great detail the day I had registered.

It felt awkward.

Although I was reluctant to admit it, I knew what I needed to do.

I withdrew from the class the following day.

First a storm, then peace

Over the course of the next three days, I experienced an emotional chaos that took me by surprise.

I felt depressed, irritated, rageful, weepy!

And then…finally…peaceful.

Healthy Boundaries Protect

In hindsight, I realize that I could’ve spared myself some anguish, perhaps even been able to take the class, had I maintained certain boundaries:

  • If I had avoided spending extended time alone with the teacher (whether in person or on the phone)
  • If I had kept our discussions centered on coursework
  • If I had not depended exclusively upon this teacher for encouragement and instruction.

To his credit, the teacher had referred me to female teachers on staff at the college for additional mentoring. I should have pursued them.

But I didn’t understand that at the time.

Sometimes, You simply need to flee

It’s true that some attractions may be inevitable. Some relationships develop a dangerous chemistry through no fault of either party.

If that occurs, what happens next is up to the integrity of the individuals involved.

Today, I am grateful for my decision to drop the class. I did find other mentors and learned those things the course would have taught me.

I still have high regard for the teacher, but, thankfully, my highest regard is reserved for something I can’t get anywhere else—the prevailing purity of my marriage.

The prevailing purity of marriage

Great marriages don’t happen by accident. Learn five practices that can strengthen your relationship and help you protect your marriage.

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Reluctant writer working hard

How to Teach a Reluctant Writer

Writing can be hard work. Good writing often results from much rewriting, and much rewriting can make a writer weary.

As a writer, I understand the challenges students face when they are learning how to write. A blank page can be incredibly intimidating.

As a homeschool mom and writing teacher, I also understand how difficult it can be to try to teach a reluctant writer. It’s easy to feel inadequate.

Thankfully, after 40+ years of writing, I’ve discovered a few techniques and tips that can transform a reluctant writer into a confident communicator.

If you’d like a little guidance on how to inspire a student who is reluctant to write, keep reading….

Writing is a powerful and essential skill.

Writing is an essential skill that can impact our children’s success in many critical areas. In the world, writing can be a powerful key that unlocks many doors. In the kingdom, it can be used to help people find the key that unlocks eternity.

We can understand the importance of writing, but when it comes to teaching it, sometimes we find ourselves on shaky ground.

Good writing requires clear thinking.

Let’s face it, writing can be hard. It requires clear thinking about the content that is being communicated.

Writing can be an effective means of developing critical thinking. But if we expect our budding writers to create quality content while they are just beginning to learn formal writing techniques, we may overwhelm them.

Writing and researching are two separate skills.

Research is a process of finding, gathering, and studying and analyzing content. It’s a valuable skill for students to learn, but it is different than writing.

How many times have you heard your children say, “But I don’t know what to write about!”?

Let your students use a model for their writing. When you allow your children to practice and develop writing skills while drawing content from a model, you alleviate the stress of trying to manage two separate learning curves simultaneously.

Good writing requires much rewriting.

When I taught the pilot program of a core curriculum called Philosophy Adventure, the primary writing assignment was rigorous. Students worked through seven checklists:

  1. START – Select your subject
  2. SUBSTANCE – Collect content
  3. STRUCTURE – Sequence and support of your content
  4. STYLE – Playfully personalize your piece
  5. POLISH – Prepare for your first audience
  6. PEER CRITIQUE – First readers to give you feedback
  7. EVALUATION – Submit your final draft

Typically, students started out enthusiastic about the assignment, but somewhere around the 5th checklist, they often started asking, “Aren’t I finished with this yet?”

The process taught them perseverance.

The students’ journey from first draft to final submission was painful at times. However, when they finished their assignment, I often heard them say with pride and amazement, “I can’t believe I wrote this!”

Don’t be afraid to prod your students to polish a piece until it gleams!

Offset the hard work of writing with creative play!

Because Philosophy Adventure students refine one primary writing assignment over the course of several weeks, we created freewriting exercises to offset their hard work.

These exercises take the pressure off the writing process and let students simply have fun. If you’d like to try one of these exercises with your kids, click below.

Imagine riding a winged horse

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Are you ready for a day of rest?

Do you need a day of rest?


You want to be a loving, joyful, peaceful momma, but you’re exhausted. The demands on your time and energy feel relentless.

You need a chance to catch your breath—but you feel guilty. There’s still so much work waiting to be done.

You need a day of rest.

Do you need a day of rest?

I understand. I’ve felt overloaded and overwhelmed many times, too.

But during the season when I was homeschooling and writing Philosophy Adventure, something amazing happened. It forever transformed my perspective on rest….

A Private Miracle

In June of 2012, I arrived at our state homeschool convention with a box of books purged from our home library. I brought them to an elderly gentleman who was operating a used bookstore in the vendor hall. He slipped a pair of reading glasses from the pocket of his plaid shirt and bent to examine our books.

While I waited for him to finish, I scanned the rows of tall wooden shelves, wondering what new treasures I would find.

A few moments later, he removed his glasses and returned them to his pocket. Then he handed me a generous store credit and smiled.

What happened next was just the sort of personalized encounter that had gradually persuaded me to kneel and commit my life to Jesus. Some would dismiss it as a “coincidence,” but I immediately recognized it as a private miracle.

As I moved toward the History, Philosophy, and Theology Section  for a closer look, a certain vintage volume caught my eye. Elegantly displayed in gilded script on the spine was the title: Day of Rest, followed by “Stacy.” (Apparently, the author’s name was also Stacy.)

Blog_DayofRest_web02_3x1

An Invitation to Rest

I was stunned. In that moment, I had the distinct impression that my Heavenly Father had graciously invited me to a “Day of Rest, Stacy.”

It was a perfectly-timed, desperately-needed message.

My writing schedule was incredibly intense and hard to regulate. Most days started at 3:00 a.m. and often didn’t end until late at night.

I needed this invitation impressed upon me in a way that would make it unforgettable. It granted me “permission” to take a guilt-free day of rest each week.

Without rest, I begin to lose sight of the bigger picture. My productivity tanks. I’m more likely to eat “garbage” and become irritable. (Can you relate?)

No doubt, the freedom to take a day of rest has protected both my health and my relationships.

Some Practical Ways to Rest

For me, a day of rest is a time when I have permission to:

  • take a nap
  • read a book
  • take a luxuriously long shower or bath
  • go for a walk
  • join my family on a disc golf excursion
  • snuggle with my husband or my cat.

Basically, it’s permission to rejuvenate — whatever that looks like (as long as it doesn’t violate God’s Word).

A Simple Plan

Do you know how to rest?

It’s actually pretty simple. A bit of preparation goes a long way.

Put a date on the calendar and do three things before it arrives:

  1. Pray – for wisdom about what really needs to be done.
  2. Work – do all that you can do and then…
  3. Trust – let go and leave the outcome of your efforts in His capable hands.

A Legacy

Will your children remember you as the crabby momma who was always too busy?

Or will you be the joyful momma who napped when she needed to, acknowledged her limitations, and patiently loved her family.

You will be more effective, clear-headed, and loving toward those who depend on you if you allow yourself to recharge.

Go ahead! Take a day of rest, Momma.


Learn three effective time management tips to help you overcome overwhelm, clutter, and chaos so you can rest!

Make Music with Our Lives

Stress-free Homeschooling?

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could experience stress-free homeschooling?

Stress. It’s often linked to anxiety and fear. It can make your heart race, palms sweat, and stomach churn.

Stress is painful.

We desperately want to escape it, but some stress is unavoidable…perhaps even necessary. (I would even go as far as to say that some stress is good.)

The Power of Perspective

One writer compared stress to the tension on a stringed instrument: Too much tension, and the strings snap. But without tension, there is no music—only a dull, raspy sound.

Is there a way we can use stress to “make music” with our lives rather than become so overwhelmed by it that we “snap”?

The key lies in perspective.

What does Scripture say about stress?

As you may know, our company provides resources that teach “critical thinking from a biblical worldview.” So, naturally, I approach this topic from a biblical perspective.

If you equate stress with fear, Scripture has a lot to say about it. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Isaiah 41:13, Psalm 34:4 are a few verses that may encourage you.).

“Fear not!” is repeated throughout the Bible. It appears frequently enough to indicate that fear is a real problem.

If you struggle with fear, you are not alone.

My worst homeschooling-related stress was provoked by fear:

  • fear of ruining my children’s lives
  • fear that my sons would suffer because of my inadequacies
  • fear that they wouldn’t be prepared for life.

Have you ever struggled with similar fears?

If so, you may be encouraged by an article on fear that I wrote for the 2016 Annual Print Edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. (You can find it here.)

You might also be interested in our blog series titled, “Overcoming Your Greatest Fear About Homeschooling.”

The Hidden Blessings of Stress

How we respond can determine whether we will transform painful stress into productive stress.

When fear motivated me to evaluate our homeschool progress and consider where we needed to improve, the subsequent insights and course corrections were a blessing.

It doesn’t feel good to be in a state of desperation, but when fear motivates me to pray and humbly ask for God’s help, I’ve been amazed by the way God has graciously answered my prayers!

Put Stress to Work.

Stress-free homeschooling may not be possible, but we can put stress to work for us. When stress moves us toward reflection and prayer, blessings follow.

So, when you feel your pulse picking up, your palms getting clammy, or your belly begin to ache—take a deep breath and pray!

Pray. Trust that He has heard you. Then do whatever you can right now to make the best use of this day that the Lord has made—knowing that:

  • His strength is made perfect in your weakness.
  • He is trustworthy and knows what is best.
  • He is for you.

Rest in Him, dear friend.


Struggling to make most of your time?

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Are you equipped to educate your children

Are you equipped to educate your children?


What keeps you up nights? Do you find yourself fighting to overcome fear? Do you ever lie awake wondering whether you are equipped to educate your children?

Do you wonder whether you are adequately preparing them for life? How will they handle interacting with the world?

Will they be ready for college? Will they find a spouse?

If you find yourself asking these questions (and sometimes, figuratively speaking, biting your nails), you’re in good company.

What is your greatest fear about homeschooling?

I recently asked the question on social media: “What is your greatest fear about homeschooling?”

Within minutes, I received a rush of heartfelt responses. It became clear from the comments that many parents suffer trepidation. A few fears repeatedly surfaced.

I was particularly touched by one mom who asked,“It’s obvious that we all have the same fears, but what are we going to do about it?”

Her question moved me to pray … and then ask a few trusted homeschool parents and graduates how they would encourage homeschooling parents struggling with fear.

If you struggle, I pray their words encourage you and help you overcome your fears.

Let’s tackle three of these terrors, beginning with…

Fear That You Are Not Equipped to Educate

“Don’t you need a teaching degree to do that?” Have you heard that question yet?

Most of us encounter family members or “friends” who are highly critical of homeschooling. They cross-examine us on our credentials and leave us second-guessing whether we have what it takes to teach.

Yet homeschool families today have countless options for curricula, co-ops, and conferences. Any academic inadequacy can be effectively addressed.

And perhaps awareness of our inadequacies can be one of our greatest assets.

Hillary, who has homeschooled for more than a decade and has three homeschool graduates in college, talks about her experience:

“I’ve had days when I felt very inadequate. Yet, when I confess my weakness, God steps in and shows up in a big way!

Remember that your kids are really on loan to you from your heavenly Father.  He has the wisdom we lack and just wants us to ask Him for it.”

Fear That Your Mistakes Will Harm Your Children

Sometimes the responsibility that accompanies homeschooling can feel overwhelming. Many parents expressed concern that mistakes they make will have dire consequences for their children.

Jane, who has three homeschool graduates and is still educating her youngest child, reminds us:

“God chose us to be our children’s parents.  He knows what our children need, and He also knows that we will make mistakes.

Do we tend to cry out to Him when everything is peachy?  Or do we turn to Him in the midst of our trials?

Maybe it is through our mistakes that our children (and we, ourselves) will actually be drawn closer to God.”

Fear That You’re Leaving Too Many Gaps!

If you ever worried about how can you possibly teach your children everything they need to learn, be comforted by these words from a certified-public-school-teacher-turned-homeschooler:

“Schools don’t teach our kids enough and neither do we.  There are gaps everywhere—and that is fine.

What we need to do is teach our children how to learn and help them love learning so it becomes their lifelong habit.

Then, when they encounter something they need to learn, they will have the tools to figure out how to learn it for themselves.”

What These Fears Might Really Be About….

My homeschool mentor, Beth, observed that all parents struggle with many of these fears—not just homeschoolers. She explained:

“During my most challenging times when I homeschooled, when I wanted to quit and call the school bus, I recognized that often the problem had nothing to do with academic education…and everything to do with our parent/child relationship or my own weakness or sin.

Thus, before any schooling method could be effective, that relationship problem or character issue needed to be addressed.”

Final Thoughts — You Are Equipped To Educate

Homeschooling provides a safe environment in which to develop your children’s character, as well as your own. Consider these wise words from homeschool graduate, Renee:

“Homeschooling in no way guarantees salvation or success. Those things belong to the Lord.

Don’t homeschool for results.

Homeschool as a testimony to your children of your love for God and for them, as a testimony to others of your sincerity in your faith, and as a testimony to God of your dedication to Him.

There may be times you feel inadequate, or like all your attempts and work is futile, but in Christ you are more than enough. Through Him, you are building the Kingdom of God through your day-to-day time with your children.”

Fear not, dear parent! You can trust the One who is able to equip you.

Rest in the knowledge that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him.

 


This article was originally published in the Annual Print Edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Copyright 2016, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC.

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Overcoming your greatest fear about homeschooling

Overcoming Your Greatest Fear About Homeschooling

Be encouraged by homeschool parents and students who have traveled the path ahead of you.

While preparing my workshops for the upcoming homeschool conventions, it occurred to me to ask home educating parents, “What is your greatest fear about homeschooling.” Their answers inspired this series.

Moments after I posted this question within a social media community, I received an outpouring of heartfelt responses. These recurring concerns surfaced as homeschool moms shared the fears that plagued them:

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

Convert Failure into Insight

“The days are long but the years are short.”

It’s a refrain I often repeat. But sometimes even the days are short.

We make plans. We have the best intentions. And then . . . we fail to execute.

Distractions sweep us away from what is most important. (And drown us in what is merely trivial.)

IT CAN MAKE A MOMMA CRY

In Christ, there is grace for our failures. But that doesn’t mean those failures won’t hurt.

Some failures are incredibly painful….

When I reflect upon my own failures, there are two that top the list:

  • Opportunities I missed with my sons that I can never regain.
  • Words that I spoke that I can never un-speak.

Seeing the consequences of those mistakes can make this momma cry.

Can you relate?

SOOTHED BY GRACE

There is a balm that soothes my ache. It’s grace.

I wish that it were not so, but the truth is: we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2).

And yet, there is a way we can convert those failures into insights.

As Henry Ford observed:

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

TRY AGAIN

I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. But glean all the lessons you can from failure.

Then, try again.

  • Each day presents new opportunities. Seize them!
  • That tongue that wounded with words yesterday can be used to pray, apologize, and encourage today.

Try again.

Humbly. Persistently. Lovingly. Try again.

It’s a new day!

 

3 Tips for Time Management

3 Tips to Help You Overcome Overwhelm, Clutter, & Chaos


Do you feel overwhelmed? Is your environment making you a little crazy? Do you worry about whether you’re giving the people you love the attention they need?

With the flood of demands and opportunities that rush toward us, it’s easy to be swept away….

As the manager of my home, often the first challenge I face is just getting quiet enough to ask the question: “What is most important right now?”

If you find yourself asking the same question, I have three concepts to help you clear away clutter, expedite meal preparation, and invest in family relationships.

#1 — “EVERYTHING YOU OWN, OWNS YOU BACK.”

Stuff requires attention. Physical clutter can undermine mental clarity.

Before we got married, I watched my fiancé sort through a box and get rid of several items I would’ve kept — not because I needed them but just because they were useful.

His philosophy was so different from mine! I stockpiled for the future; he minimized clutter, even if that meant he might need to buy a replacement later.

It took me several years to recognize that, “Everything you own, owns you back.”

Now, before I make any acquisition (even one that is “free”), I carefully consider what it will ultimately cost in in terms of physical space and mental energy.

#2 — DOUBLE IT AND HIDE IT

Are you familiar with batch cooking (also known as freezer cooking)? If not, there are excellent resources available to help you plan batch cooking sessions that will fill your freezer with meals.

However, sometimes tackling a new task can require more energy than we can spare. The pace of life can be so stinking fast…

If your life is in a state of chaos, perhaps try something less demanding than freezer cooking. Instead, whatever you cook for dinner, simply “double it, and hide it.”

Double your recipe, and then — before you serve your family — put away for tomorrow half of what you prepared today. (In our house, if I don’t “hide” that second, it’s at risk of being eaten.)

#3 — MAKE BREAD ON SATURDAYS

Shortly after my first baby was born, a friend taught me how to make homemade bread. (This was long before “gluten-free” had woven its way into our vocabulary.) Delighted by the result, I began to study of the art of breadmaking.

In one book I read, the author made a suggestion that lingered with me long after I ended my breadmaking era. She said, Bake bread on Saturdays.”

Bake bread on Saturdays

She emphasized the value of being available to your family at a consistent time and place each week.

Whether your spouse and children can expect to find you kneading dough at the kitchen table or weeding in your garden, establish a regular activity that leaves you free to listen and talk in a place your family will know they can find you. KEEP WALKING!
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” but sometimes the pattern we follow looks like “two steps forward, one step back.”

Keep walking!

And be patient with yourself and others as you labor to overcome chaos and bring order to your household!

♥♥♥

Struggling to make most of your time?

Don’t Eat That Frog — A Liberating Look At Time Management Strategies gives you a plan to win the battle! Sign-up below to get a FREE cheat sheet with five of the “FROG” strategies:

5 Time Management Strategies

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Boy Playing Guitar

EDUCATE YOUR CHILDREN ON THE POWER OF MUSIC


Music has an amazing ability to influence our moods, which, in turn, can influence our actions. That’s powerful.

We would be wise to educate our children on the power of music.

Do you have a soundtrack for your life?

Songs you listen to when you feel victorious?

Songs that bring comfort when you’re feeling blue?

Songs to give you energy when you clean house or exercise?

MUSIC IN OUR STORY

My husband is a guitarist. The first time I met him, he was backstage getting ready for a concert. The second time I saw him, he and his brother joined a mutual friend for a jam session at my house.

I quickly fell in love with his music. A few months later, I fell in love with him.

After we married, he pursued a career as a studio guitarist, and I began writing “The Great American Novel.” We didn’t plan to have children.

Our plans changed when I became pregnant.

However, five years into our marriage I became pregnant—and our plans changed.

My husband loves playing guitar, but when when he became a dad, he set aside his musical aspirations and dedicated himself to supporting our family.

I’ve never met a more dedicated father.

MUSIC IN OUR HOMESCHOOL

Music has “played” an important role in our homeschool.

When my sons were big enough to hold my husband’s travel guitar, he began teaching them how to play it. As they grew a little older, he bought them their own guitars and taught them music theory, techniques, and how to care for their instruments.

They quickly became competent guitarists.

We often talk about the most significant purpose for music: “Music is made for worship!”

Today, both my sons are equipped to lead worship on guitar. One of my favorite memories is pictured below when Ryan and his dad led worship at my dear homeschool mentor’s farm.

Ryan-Farrell-03

(BTW: We’re working on a new resource designed for beginning or aspiring guitarists. [thrive_2step id='17348']Click here for more info!)[/thrive_2step]

Listening to music together and asking questions has sparked some lively discussions:

  • What attracts you to a particular piece?
  • What mood does it inspire?
  • What story is told by its lyrics? Is it edifying?

MUSIC IN OUR CULTURE

We seize every chance we can to develop critical thinking, so we talk about how music impacts our culture.

(I firmly believe that critical thinking is one of the most valuable tools we can put in our children’s toolbox. That’s why I created Philosophy Adventure and other critical thinking resources.)

The late atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950, made this sinister statement:

Education should aim at destroying free will so that pupils thus schooled, will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished….and in order to condition students, verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective….

Bertrand-Russell-on-music

When I first encountered Bertrand Russell’s comments about such dangerous objectives and blatantly manipulative methods, I was shocked. But his words only deepen my resolve to help my sons and other students develop critical thinking skills.

MUSIC IN YOUR HOME

Music is a tremendous gift. However, as Bertrand Russell demonstrates, it can also be tremendously destructive.

Given the powerful nature of music, I urge you to be proactive and engaged.

Do you have guidelines for the music your children are allowed to listen to?

It's not about the bunny; it's about the Lamb.

THE EASTER CHRONICLE


Unbelievable as it may seem, I was 30 years old before I learned that Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter.

I grew up thinking Easter was all about jelly beans, marshmallow chicks, and chocolate bunnies.

Nothing compares to the love God showed us through Jesus.

As I approached my 30th birthday, I began searching for the answers to the most profound philosophical questions

“Where did I come from?

Why am I here?

Is there hope for my future?”

That’s when I learned…

It’s not about the bunny; it’s about The Lamb.

I was a “doubting Thomas.” It took nine long months of prayer, study, and exploration before I decided to place my trust in Jesus.

God is so patient and gracious.

There are so many stories I could tell of how He met me in the midst of my search….

But today, I want to share with you a little fictional piece I wrote about the first Easter weekend.

I hope you enjoy it!

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the sky grew dark

3 P.M. FRIDAY

From the foot of the cross, you look up into the battered face of the man you left everything to follow. He cries out a final prayer; His body goes limp.

A Roman soldier raises his sword and plunges it into your Leader’s side—blood and fluid pour out. The sky grows black and the earth beneath you trembles.

Your chest aches, and suddenly it’s hard to breathe.

Go back to fishing

6 P.M. FRIDAY

A finely dressed man arrives. He speaks with the soldier’s captain, and the order is given to take your Leader’s lifeless form down from the cross.

As the rich man carries the body away for a proper burial, you observe from a safe distance.

How could the Son of God be put to death?

Surely Jesus was different from all the religious leaders before Him. You were absolutely certain that He was the true Messiah!

But, right before your eyes, He is laid in a tomb.

Not only was Jesus your friend—you were counting on Him to be your Savior. Now what will you do? Go back to fishing?

Is this really how it all ends?

The tomb is empty.

NOON SUNDAY

Three women chatter excitedly about angels and an empty tomb. “Jesus said He’d raise His temple again in three days. Now we understand what He meant!”

Can these rumors be true?

Jesus…alive?

You run to the tomb; it’s empty.

Amazed, puzzled, and more than a little frightened, you return home.

Fish for Jesus.

6 P.M. SUNDAY

Two men burst into the mourning room.

“The women were telling the truth! We saw Him!” As the men tell you and His other followers about their encounter, Jesus suddenly appears.

“Peace be with you.”

You recognize that voice!

“Why are you troubled? Why do you doubt? Look at my hands….”

He reaches out nail pierced hands, hands responsible for so much tenderness and healing. He slips off his sandals.

“Look at my feet.”

The marks are undeniable.

“It’s really me. Go ahead and touch me; a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like this.”

Your hand trembles as you touch Him. His flesh is warm and substantial.

“Do you have anything here to eat?” He asks, laughing kindly.

Awestruck, you serve the King of Creation a piece of broiled fish.

♦♦♦

FREE_Easter_Lamb_Printable

 

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5 mistakes parents and students make when planning for college

5 MISTAKES PARENTS & STUDENTS MAKE WHEN PLANNING FOR COLLEGE

Do you know the five mistakes parents and students make when planning for college?

The words affordable, efficient, and effective aren’t typically associated with college. But they can be accurate descriptors of your student’s college experience.

You’re invited to listen in on a discussion between Home School Adventure’s CEO Stacy Farrell and education innovator Woody Robertson as they discuss the best ways to navigate the college decision.

They discuss common flawed thinking like:

  • Expecting to go into debt for college
  • Expecting college to train you for your career
  • Thinking you’ll figure out what you want to do in college
  • Failing to prepare for the battle of worldviews
  • Not taking advantage of dual credit
[button link="https://go.getunbound.org/5-mistakes-hsadventures/" bg_color="#000000" border="#000000"]FREE Webinar Replay[/button]
Habit overcomes habit.

DON’T EAT THAT FROG — PART 3

Habits Overcome Habits

“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” ― Erasmus

Attention Required

As creatures of habit, we move through our days without even thinking about many of our actions. But, if we’re seeking to maximize our productivity, we need to turn off autopilot and start paying attention.

Although we don’t want to become self-absorbed, we do need to become self-aware. 

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