Saturday, February 6, 2016

Homeschool commUNITY

OK, moms, let's talk community. Specifically your homeschool community.

Homeschooling is as varied as...well, as the people who choose to homeschool. 

Classical versus unschooling, Apologia versus anything else, government directed versus parent directed, organic versus non-organic, attachment parenting versus schedule driven, religious versus non-religious, skirts versus yoga pants...the list is endless and unfortunately, so is the list of people who've been caught in the crossfire.

Somewhere along the way, probably as far back as Cain and Able, it became an "us versus them" mentality. We looked around at how others were homeschooling their children and felt...threatened, prideful, fearful, insecure...and we began to let those feelings erode our homeschool community. Instead of embracing and loving our differences, they have become the rocks we've used to bludgeon each other to death, leaving many wounded homeschool mommas in our wake.

We seem to have forgotten just how alike we are and have instead chosen to focus on the differences. Consider the fact that most of us have given up livelihoods, careers, newer cars, vacations and Pinterest worthy homes in order to focus our attention on our kids. That in itself is a point of unity. Friends, we're all on the same team! Your homeschool may look nothing like mine, but we're still working toward the same goal - a desire to train our children's hearts in the midst of educating their minds

I know some amazing families whose homeschool experience looks nothing like mine. The beauty of these differences are the opportunities they afford us to learn from one another. 
  • A college professor/homeschool dad whose kids could talk circles around me on the subject of politics on any given day.
  • A sweet mom whose laid back approach has allowed more time for her daughters to perfect their various skill sets and interests.
  • The family who travels extensively, forgoing traditional learning in favor of an interactive experience.
  • A friend with a child in public school, one in private and one learning at home as they search for the best fit for each student.
  • One of my closest friends using the resources offered by IDEA to help her kids get an amazing education.
I am a stronger mom and teacher (heck, I'm a better person) for having known each of these families. I could easily have looked at the different ways they chose to approach their kids' education and assumed them to be wrong based on the fact that they're different from mine. Had I done so, I would have missed out on amazing friendships and experiences. I would have missed out on community.

If you were to drop by for the afternoon, I would offer you my cozy chair, along with a cuppa joe and ask you about your story. Your story is what makes your homeschool unique. I want to understand your journey in order to come alongside and encourage you. Imagine what would happen in our homeschool community if we set aside the "my way or the highway" mentality and genuinely sought to understand and encourage one another on this crazy ride called homeschooling? The impact would be significant, not only for our generation, but for future generations as we lead by example.

So how about you? What does your community look like? Would you say it's characterized by a heaping dose of grace or maybe a bit too much criticism? Have you been guilty of judging? If we're honest, I think we all have at some point along the way. It's time we recognize we're on the same team. It's time to come alongside one another with love and grace in an effort to build bridges rather than burning them to the ground. Time to stop walking in fear of the unknown and recognize that our differences are our greatest strength. Time to lay down the rocks and pick up the pom-poms. Time to become each other's biggest cheerleader. 

Gimme a U! Gimme an N! Gimme an I! Gimme a T! Gimme a Y! What's that spell? UNITY!

And UNITY homeschool mom, starts with yoU!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My favorite decorating secret

Over the years people seem to comment often on how they love my decorating "style". Oh, you mean the "I got it at Goodwill" style? Um, yeah...pretty sure that's not one you'll find on HGTV.

I think many of us look at someone's home or pictures in a magazine and assume it cost a lot of money to get a similar look. Well, if you're perusing Southern Living then yes, it probably did cost a pretty penny. If you're looking at MY house then not so much. The majority of my decorating items were purchased at yard/estate sales or thrift stores. When on the lookout for things you might be able to use, try to look at an item for what it COULD be rather than it's current condition. Elbow grease, spray paint and a little sandpaper can transform just about anything.

One of the biggest struggles most people have with decorating their own space is viewing it with fresh eyes. We live with our stuff day in and day out. You've walked past that vase sitting in the same spot for three years and you probably don't even notice it anymore. So before you run out and buy new things for your space consider this idea.

The easiest way to break out of the decorating rut is to "shop your house". The best news is this is one shopping spree that won't break the bank!

1. Start by going room by room and collecting anything and everything you might use to decorate: vases, books, lamps, pictures, candles, trays, boxes, baskets, blankets, throw pillows, your kid's rock collection...anything that makes you smile. 

2. Put all the items on the dining room table so you can get a good idea of what you have. Try grouping like items together. Maybe you didn't even notice you have several crosses or a collection of wooden picture frames. Grouping like items together makes more of a statement.

3. Choose a theme. This could be a favorite color or maybe reflect an upcoming holiday. My current mantel reflects my love for Texas and home. I usually do a fall theme, but loved the Texas one so much I've left it up a bit longer. It will soon be replaced with favorite!

4. Choose one area of your home to focus on: your fireplace mantel, a bookcase or the tops of your kitchen cabinets. Do NOT try to redecorate your entire house in one may leave you feeling a bit crazy....not that I'm speaking from experience or anything. Choosing a small area to work on will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to try other areas.

5. Get busy! Begin by placing larger items and then filling in with smaller ones. I'm sure there is a formula for this, but I didn't go to design school so I just know what I like. I know what I think looks good, so I play with the arrangement until it makes me happy. Sometimes it comes together quickly and other times I have to keep moving stuff around for awhile, maybe even walking away for awhile if I feel frustrated...again, not that I'm speaking from experience here or anything.

That's my secret - do what makes you happy! Forget Pinterest or HGTV. You're the one that lives in your house on a daily basis. You want your space to bring a smile to your face. To be a place where your family and friends can gather and feel comfortable. A space that is both functional and reflects YOU. 

If you're still feeling stumped or overwhelmed by the process grab a friend to help. Two makes the process double the fun!

When your'e done snap a photo and send it to me. I'd love to see how it all turns out!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


I'm sure it's happened at your house. Someone drops a glass or plate and it shatters...everywhere. It's broken and useless; no longer good for its intended purpose, so we sweep it up and into the trash it goes. 

Or maybe if it's a special piece you might try mending it. I have a set of red mixing bowls that my husband bought me for my birthday while on a trip to Angelfire, New Mexico. I love those bowls...they make me happy. So when one of them began to crack I quickly grabbed the Gorilla glue to try and salvage it. In my eyes the cracks didn't diminish the beauty. I wasn't about to throw it away because I loved it. 

Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese art that fills the cracks in a broken piece of pottery with gold, incorporating them into the restoration. The result is amazing! Rather than covering up the brokenness, the faults and weaknesses become a beautiful part of the object's past.

What a beautiful picture of how God views us! My cracks and brokenness make me who I am and if I allow them to they will become an opportunity for His strength  to shine through. Bringing our hearts to Him He lovingly takes each broken, jagged piece and puts it back together, sealing it over with His love and grace. The end result is more beautiful than we could have ever imagined and something that ultimately brings Him glory when viewed by those around us.

Feeling broken today? Don't hide it! Jesus wants to pour Himself into the cracks of your life to create an amazing masterpiece that will bless others and bring Him glory. Give Him the pieces and see what He'll do.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The lost art of letter writing

Today the mailman brought me a letter. 

A real, honest to goodness letter. 

I can't even tell y'all how happy it made my heart! It was just a few words offered in encouragement, but they meant more than a 500 word e-mail or a barrage of texts. I think it was because I knew it cost her something. Not just in the stamp, but in time. Time is a commodity in short supply for most of us, but she made it a priority to pull out paper and pen, putting her thoughts into handwritten words.  It made me feel warm and fuzzy, like a sweet long-distance hug. When was the last time reading a text made you feel warm and fuzzy inside? 

Use to be that letter writing was our main form of communication. I remember going off to college as a freshman and leaving my boyfriend (now hubby) behind. Back then long distance phone calls were still charged by the minute so those tended to be few and far between. There was no texting, Facebook, Skype or Facetime. Letter writing was all we had. And boy did we write...sometimes daily. I still have every single one of those letters saved in my hope chest. Not that I read them often, but they represent the love we had for each other in those early days. They are a tangible representation of the growth of our relationship. While I love it when my hubby shoots me a text saying he loves me, it can't compare with a handwritten expression of that love.

Don't get me wrong, technology is a blessing when it comes to keeping in touch with people, especially those far away, but it's just not the same. I say we start a letter writing revolution! What if just once a week we put down our phones and sent a hand written note to someone instead of a text? Think of the joy when it arrives in their mailbox. The smile on their face as they read your words of love and encouragement. It will be worth the time it takes you...I promise. 

So who's with me?

Friday, August 7, 2015

No words...

I've always loved to write. As long as I can remember I've been filling notebooks with thoughts, prayers and dreams. There has never been a shortage of words. It's free therapy really. For some reason things seem to make more sense when I can get them out of my head and onto paper. There's a semblance of order that begins to happen as the words a painting taking shape at the hands of an artist.

But then there are times when the pain is so real that there are no words. There is simply no way to make order out of chaos. Things just need to sit for awhile; to settle. Thankfully, time has a way of helping us regain a bit of perspective; perspective that's important for putting things into words once again.

Our family is walking a hard road right now. A road that I am not ready to put into words. I know at some point the Lord is going to use our story for His glory as He brings beauty from the ashes, but the words aren't ready just yet. They're in there, tumbling around and being refined, but they're not ready...I'm not ready. And that's OK. 

It's more than OK, because it's our story. You can't tell an artist what to paint or a writer what to write anymore than you call tell someone what their story SHOULD look like.

One thing I know to be true - God is faithful. He sees our journey from beginning to end and He has a plan in it all. Of that I am certain...and every so thankful.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Light in the darkness

We've had weird spring weather this year. More clouds and rain than usual have made for some pretty amazing sunrises. I never tire of is evidenced by the number of photos on my camera. My favorite place to steal away for my quiet time is the back patio. Coffee in hand, the view of the sun coming up over the mountains is the perfect backdrop for my chats with the Lord.

This morning the weather seemed to mirror my thoughts. Dark menacing clouds boiled behind me as I poured out my heart to the Lord. Tough stuff. Life stuff. Stuff that takes your breath away and leaves you clinging to Him. Over the mountains the clouds lingered, but as I prayed the sun suddenly burst from behind a cloud almost blinding me. What joy! There, in the midst of the darkness, was hope. As the darkness threatened to overtake, the light came flooding in. My prayers were turned to praise and I realized the Light is always at work in the darkness. This morning He painted me a sunrise as a powerful reminder.

There are reminders all around us. We just need to slow down long enough to take them in. To let them wash over us, reminding us that the trials we're facing are but a momentary blip on heaven's radar. All this will one day give way to an eternity with Jesus...where the Light will shine brightly and He will wipe all our tears. All the tough stuff will be nothing more than a memory. What a sweet promise that is my friends! 

Until then, enjoy the sunrise.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The thing about parenting when it's HARD

Life has sort of knocked me on my butt these last few months. Just being real. I'll sum it all up by saying parenting is hard. Not potty training hard...I mean raising teenagers hard. If you have teens I bet you're shaking your head right now. See, I use to say my least favorite part of parenting was potty training. It was the first thing those wiggly little humans really had complete control over and they would do it when they were darn well ready. Yeah, that was kinda hard.

Then they grew up and decided they would make their own decisions. Oy vey! Sometimes those decisions make me stand up and cheer, sometimes they make me cringe and sometimes they make me just want to curl up in a ball and cry. Yep, I've done all three. Good, bad or indifferent, they're learning all decisions have consequences and those consequences never affect just one person. They're learning how to live with consequences and make the best of them.

Me? I'm learning to pray. Oh, I knew how to pray before, or at least I thought I did. The whole "pray without ceasing" thing? It takes on a whole new meaning when your kids decide to find their own way. You wake up praying, pray in the shower, the car, while making dinner and then you fall asleep praying. Repeat daily for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. Yep, it's a whole new dimension of prayer.

Through it all here's what I know to be TRUE: God has a plan for each of our kids. We've known that from the start, but my little Pollyanna outlook had me believing those "plans" would be all rainbows and unicorns. It honestly never occurred to me that in order to fulfill the plans my kids might have to go through a whole lot of junk. Junk that will refine them to do exactly what He has called them to. Oh how that junk hurts my momma heart! We want to protect our kids from pain, but the pain is the sandpaper (or in some cases the sledgehammer) God uses to polish out the imperfections so they will shine for Him.

I may be knocked on my butt, but I don't doubt that God is still in control and working all things together for good. He's like that...faithful when we're faithless, sovereign when we fail and able to see the bigger picture when our eyes are so blurred by tears we can't see what's right in front of us. He'll pick us up, wipe our tears, dust us off and send us right back out there to keep fighting for these amazing kids he's loaned us to raise. 

And he gave us coffee...just one more proof he loves us dearly.

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