Tag Archives: Word for 2014

A Week of Looking Forward

In the past, the week after Christmas has felt rather lifeless around our house.  The kids were over the holiday excitement and all of us were eager to get back into a routine.  So when I originally set our calendar for the 2014-15 school year, I planned to go back to school this week.  However, over the weekend I was debating whether or not we needed more of a break.

My “Word for 2014” was PRAY, and over the past twelve months, the Lord has shown me how faithful He is to guide me when I take the time to ask.  It is a lesson I certainly need to continue to take to heart, but I feel like a good foundation has been laid so that in the future I will be more inclined to remember to pray before making decisions.

As I sought the Lord about how to spend this week, I strongly felt that we should deviate from my original plans (which I admittedly had NOT prayed about when drawing up our calendar) and take one more week off from any school work.  Instead I have found myself tackling organizational projects around the house that will help our family life run more smoothly over the next few months.

P1050355xFor instance, I spent two days sorting through hand-me-downs from friends as well as clothes my kids had outgrown that had never been put away properly.  When I started, there were several trash bags of mixed sizes.  Now everything is put away in storage tubs clearly labeled by size, ready to be worn by the next child in line.  (Plus I filled a couple bags to give away, since we had way too many clothes in certain sizes.)

I also started thinking about ways I can be more intentional about keeping my little ones busy during our school hours.  Up until now, Nico has blessed us by taking a long morning nap that allowed us to get through most of our work uninterrupted.  I know those days are numbered, however, so I started looking for various ways to entertain him.  Even if I just come up with five activities and then rotate them each day of the week, I think that would help us get through math (our most crucial time.)

He really liked putting dominoes into a can with a slot cut into the lid.

I think he might have emptied our entire domino bin if Arianna hadn’t come over to “help” him.  (Note to self: find an activity to occupy HER at the same time.)  She could probably handle most of the activities I listed in “Entertaining Elijah (Tips for Toddlers)” back when we first started schooling with a younger sibling to occupy.

Elijah and Arianna used to play together for most of the morning every day, but lately he’s been wanting to join us for math.  Arianna plays by herself better than my older boys did at her age, but sometimes she prefers to be in with us, and I want to have activities ready to give her when that happens.

My hope is that by taking this week to get things a little more organized around the house, we’ll be able to transition back into our school routine smoothly.  I made a few changes in our curriculum over the last few weeks of school, and I hope to spend the next few days adjusting my weekly lesson plan to make sure I’ve taken out the things we’re no longer using and found time for those we’re just beginning.  I’m thankful that the Lord prompted me to delay our return to school, and now I find myself looking forward to the months ahead.

Bible Study vs. Devotional Reading

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 10 (part 2)

WholeHeartedLast week I talked about three goals I had when it came to my children and the Bible.  After some prayer, I ended up amending the third goal, which was to start encouraging Ian to have a daily devotional time on his own.  It was a lesson for me in seeking the Lord’s will before making my own plans.  (Back to that Word for 2014: Pray!)

As I finished Chapter 10, I noticed that the Clarksons have almost an opposite approach to mine.

“Serious, systematic Bible study is important, but it can wait until the high school years.  In the childhood years, you are building spiritual appetites and habits for the Bible that will become personal commitments to serious Bible study later” (page 191).

They encourage Bible reading and developing a habit of daily devotions with younger children, but put off serious study until they are older.  In some ways that makes sense to me.  I really resonated with this statement:

“Too much formality risks turning the inspired Word of God into just another curriculum” (page 191).

I remember feeling that way in college.  I loved my Bible classes, and I felt so blessed to be at a Christian college where God’s Word was an important part of many of my classes, but I struggled at times with it becoming in some ways like another textbook.  I want to be careful to keep God’s Word as holy in our home, to not let it become “just another curriculum.”

However, I’m not sure I quite agree with what the Clarksons are saying.  Without serious study I worry they will be prone to take Scripture out of context (as I see so many Christians doing).  I see the early years a chance to fill my children’s minds and hearts with Scripture, and I feel that systematic study is an important part of knowing what they are reading.  My approach has been to focus on the stories and principles of the Bible, learning about the Bible itself, and memorizing as much as possible, laying a foundation for when they are older and their hearts/faith have caught up.

Also, as I wrote in my “amendment” last week, I want to hold off on encouraging Ian to have a daily devotional time until I know that he is resting on his own faith.  I don’t want to push him into “religious” habits that aren’t flowing from a heart that loves Jesus.  On the other hand, I know God can work through those times alone in prayer and Bible reading to help that loving faith grow and develop.  And I do think it’s a wonderful habit to help our children develop.

So I guess what I’m saying is I think it’s important to have both serious study and a more heart-focused devotional time.  For now, I feel God is leading me to wait until Ian expresses an interest in being baptized before guiding him toward a habit of devotional reading.  I suppose the best thing to do is continue to pray and seek God for wisdom in how to help my children walk along the path of faith.

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), so my Monday posts are all being sparked by things I’m reading in this fabulous book!

Non-Conforming Parenting

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 9

WholeHeartedAt first glance, this chapter on “The WholeHearted Learning Youth” isn’t exactly applicable to our family right now (since our oldest is only 6).  It provided a lot of food for thought about how I want to approach the years ahead, but much of it was just wisdom to file away for later.

One thing that stood out to me, however, was the issue of conforming to the world’s ways, not just culturally, but also educationally.  Am I making decisions based on what the world says my children’s education should look like, or am I allow God to be our guide?  My “Word for 2014,” PRAY, has helped me develop a habit of turning to the Lord for things I have previously just managed on my own.  The Clarksons reminded me that I also need to be seeking the transforming of my mind through the Scriptures.  In their discussion of Romans 12:1-2 they write:

“…Go to God’s Word to keep your mind renewed by truth.  The real power of God’s Word is not just that it’s true and trustworthy, but that it transforms–it is the ‘living and active’ Word that penetrates and changes ‘soul and spirit’ and ‘thoughts and attitudes’ (Hebrews 4:12).  The only way to know you are doing God’s will as a parent is to constantly renew your mind with God’s truth.  You become a conformist to the world’s ways of thinking by default; you become a biblical idealist only by design” (page 172, emphasis mine).

In my current season of life it is hard to find time to spend in the Word, at least to the extent that I have in the past.  I find myself grabbing snatches here and there: a few paragraphs from the open Bible I leave on the bathroom counter when I manage to catch a few uninterrupted moments, verses taped above my kitchen sink that I can meditate on as I do dishes, and maybe a few chapters during naptime when I’m feeling particularly starved (provided all four children actually stay in their beds for an extended period of time).  Yet I must cling to those scraps of Scripture if I have any hope of being the godly parent I want to be.

My children will only be young for so long.  I want to use these years as effectively as possible, both as far as training and instructing my children “in the words and ways of biblical Christianity” (page 174), and renewing my own mind with God’s truth.

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), so my Monday posts are all being sparked by things I’m reading in this fabulous book!

Parenting in the Power of the Holy Spirit

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 4 (part 2)

WholeHeartedThis chapter continued to convict my spirit and challenge me in my parenting, particularly the pages on discipline.  It is such a temptation to seek a formula for parenting that will ensure that the end result will be wise children who walk with the Lord.  Yet even with our oldest being only 6 years old, it is quite clear that formulas just don’t work when it comes to nurturing a little person uniquely created by God.  Why is it then, that when facing a parenting dilemma, my first thought is to run to a book?  (And not THE Book, either.)

“If my first impulse is to think about which proven method of discipline will achieve the results I want with my children, then I am probably not thinking about trusting God to change my children’s hearts… If I want my correction to impact my child’s heart, I must first, before anything else, ask God, the heavenly parent, to be involved in the process with me” (page 64).

I’m ashamed to admit it, but this thought never even occurred to me until I started reading Heartfelt Discipline, also by Clay Clarkson.  When I came across this idea, however, it really impacted me.  I’ve written before about my “word for 2014” being PRAY, and this is one of those areas of life where I want to be more consistent about coming before the Lord prior to making decisions or taking action.  I want my children to leave home remembering it as a place where they experienced the grace of God and the joy of obedience, not just a lot of rules and punishment for disobedience.  What better way to pass on grace to our children then to go first to the grace-Giver?  “Grace ensures that your correction begins with the ‘inner man’ of your child.  That is the real goal of spiritual discipline–to change your child’s heart so their behavior is changed from the inside out” (page 64).

That’s what I really want: changed hearts, not resentful obedience.  These words were on my heart today as I dealt with one of my children who has been particular stubborn and slow to obey lately.  Eric and I have been at a loss for how to parent him in a way that touches his heart and makes him want to obey.  So this morning as he stood there scowling at me, refusing to pick up even a single piece of laundry after I had asked him to sort a small basketful, I set aside my own frustration and the desire to just threaten punishment in order to get him to obey.  I let go of my own agenda and opened myself up to direction from the Lord.  What was going to reach this little one’s heart?  What was going to help him choose to do something he didn’t want to do?

I called him over to me, put my arm around him, and tried to get him to talk to me.  Why didn’t he want to help fold the laundry?  No answer.  So I decided to talk about the heart issue.  We’ve just started using We Choose Virtues so we’ve been talking about choices we can make and what it means to obey.  I reminded him of Proverbs 20:11, which says, “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.”

Then I asked him, “What do you want people to know about you?  Your ‘acts’ tell people about what kind of boy you are.  Do you want to be a boy people look at and say, ‘Wow, he’s really stubborn and doesn’t obey his mommy.  He just stands there scowling.’?”  He stared into my eyes.  “Or do you want them to say, “Look how obedient he is!  He’s so quick to do what his mommy asks!’?”  He nodded his head. (And inwardly I sighed in relief knowing at least he cared a little!)

I decided to try to make it a game.  I told him, “I’m going to count to 10, and I want you to see how many pieces of laundry you can get sorted before I’m finished, okay?”  He just stood there glaring at me with his infamous furrowed brow.

So I called him back over to me and basically repeated the same talk again before sending him back to the basket.  This time he managed to get 3 pieces of laundry sorted before I got to 10.  I chose to ignore the fact that he had done it slowly and still had that pout on his face.  Instead, I praised him for choosing to do it even when he didn’t want to and told him, “Let’s try it again.  I bet you can get even more this time!”  He got 8.

Now my other helper was itching to get in on the game so we let him take a turn.  It took two more rounds of counting to ten, but all the laundry got sorted and the bad attitude dissipated.  They both even managed to get their own laundry folded and put away without a single word of objection or nasty look.

Would it have been faster to just punish him?  Undoubtedly.  Yet I certainly wouldn’t have reached his heart that way.  This took a lot longer, but it left all of us feeling content.  My son felt the satisfaction of knowing he had chosen to obey and that I was proud of him for making that choice.  I felt relieved that I hadn’t responded emotionally but had let the Holy Spirit guide me.  I didn’t stop and pray (though next time I might try doing so out loud), but I did keep my own impulses in check so that I could walk in His power.  (And the laundry got sorted, which certainly makes me happy!)

I don’t always handle this kind of situation very well, but I would much rather be a spirit-led parent than a flesh-led parent.  The Clarksons’ words have been “ringing in my ears” since I read them last night: “When you confront and correct your children’s wrongdoing, think about how Jesus would speak to them.  He would be gentle, but authoritative; loving, but truthful; gracious, but firm” (page 65).  That’s what I long for.  That’s what I want my children to experience.  And so I will keep trying to turn to Him first, to trust in Him to help me learn to “parent in the power of the Holy Spirit” (page 64).

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson).  If you want to join in, visit our Facebook discussion group page.

More of You, Less of me

I’m struggling.  I haven’t been able to quiet get my finger on the problem, but I know it’s there.

It manifests itself in the dirty house I’ve neglected, the extra time spent online doing absolutely nothing, the dissatisfaction that sends me to old vices, and the frustration I’ve been feeling toward my children way too often.

And so I keep coming back to my “Word for 2014“.


I bring my struggle to the Lord.  Over and over.  My heart’s deepest cry is, “More of You!  Less of me!”  My weaknesses seem overwhelming.  I cannot do this on my own.

Today He whispered back, “My grace is sufficient.”

I dried my tears, looked up those words, and took a deep breath.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I know I’m not the only one out there feeling this way.  Whether it’s being halfway through the homeschool year, trying to mother lots of little ones, keeping up with housework, or much more serious issues causing you to feel like you’re floundering, the message in the same.  Lean on Him.  Your weakness does not mean failure; it is a place for Christ’s power to come and rest.

If I could reach out and give you a hug, I would.  But since I can’t, just know that I’m praying for you too as I week at His feet.  You’re not alone.

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5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials, #1: God’s Guidance

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials This week several members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew will be giving everyone a glimpse into their daily lives by sharing “5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials.”   I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone chooses to write about, as well as sharing my own “top 5” with you.

It didn’t take long to figure out my choice for the #1 position.  As I’ve been focusing on my “word for 2014” (Pray), I’ve realized how essential God’s guidance is to every part of my life, including (perhaps especially) homeschooling.  In fact, it’s making me marvel that I’ve survived this long without spending more time in prayer.

Psalm 127:1 says “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”  I cannot imagine a more monumental building project than homeschooling one’s children.  With God’s help we are molding and shaping their lives, investing years in guiding them and helping to fashion them into the people He has called them to be.

All parents face countless decisions that will affect their children’s journey to adulthood, and homeschooling just multiplies that responsibility.  I’m learning that bringing those decisions before the Lord and listening for His direction brings such peace, even in the midst of situations that feel less than peaceful.

For example, a while back I was spending some time praying for Ian and seeking the Lord as to how to best meet his needs.  We seem to be going through a stage of continual testing, and he is constantly crashing into the boundaries we set for him.  It has been wearing me out, and I was starting to wonder if I needed to make some changes in what I expect of him and how I discipline him.  When I took it to the Lord, he reminded me that boundaries are a good thing.  It’s like driving a car on the “Autopia” attraction at Disneyland.  When you start to go off track, you get jerked back by the guiding rail.  It’s not a smooth ride, but the rail serves an important purpose.  The boundaries we set for our children help keep them on the right course.  It may not be a smooth ride, but it’s a really good thing they’re there.  Thank you, Lord, for this reminder.  It gave me great peace, which I would not have found if I hadn’t spent time seeking Him for wisdom about how to parent Ian.

We face those moments with all our children, wondering what is the best course of action.  Homeschooling brings a whole other set of questions.  What curriculum should we use?  Which books should we read? What subjects are important for this particular child?  At what age do we want to start doing _____?  Should we sign up for this class or activity?  The questions are endless.  I tend to be quick to make decisions, and usually my instincts serve me well.  There have been many times, however, when I’ve been quick to jump into something that sounds “good”according to my wisdom, but later I find myself wishing I’d taken more time to pray about whether it was really what was “best” for our family.  As I focus on prayer this year, I want to bring all these types of questions before God rather than just rushing into things based on my own thinking.  I find myself longing for the words of Isaiah 30:21:

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

It is far too easy for me to run ahead on my own, without pausing to listen for God’s guidance.  But I am learning that in homeschooling (as in the rest of my life), things always go better when I wait to hear that word behind me.

Check back throughout the week to see what other things made my top 5 list of homeschooling essentials!

To see what the rest of Crew is blogging about this week, click on the picture above or just get started with these blogs:

Marcy @ Ben and Me

Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Tess @ Circling Through This Life

Victoria @ Homemaking with Heart

Kayla @ The Arrowood Zoo

Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool

Beth @ Ozark Ramblings

Rebecca @ Raventhreads

My Word for 2014: Pray!

Over the past few years it’s become popular for bloggers (and others?) to choose a single word to represent their focus in the coming year.  I never felt inclined to jump on the bandwagon until some of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were getting ready to share about their “Word for 2014,” and I felt a gentle nudge that I’ve learned not to ignore.


Such a simple little word, yet such a challenge for me.  Years ago I remembering telling a friend that I hoped prayer would be a definitive part of my life.

“I want to be a woman of prayer,” I passionately declared.

“Then do it,” he wisely replied.

That’s all it takes, isn’t it?  Doing it.  But despite my desire I did not do it, at least not to the extent I would have liked.  And as the years have passed, I’ve often remembered that conversation, but still never moved in the right direction.

I’m hoping to change that in 2014.  Lately I’ve been more and more aware of many areas in which I fall short.  I need the Lord’s help in so many ways, and yet I’ve spent more time worrying about my weakness than I have turning to Him in prayer.  I want Him to be a part of every aspect of my life:

  • help to be more patient
  • the words to speak in certain situations
  • wisdom in dealing with my children
  • understanding the unique way each of my children is designed
  • decisions about school
  • what activities to get involved in
  • how to disciple our children more effectively
  • praying for my children (especially some of the topics from the books The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian)

These are just a few of the things I want to be praying about more and listening for His guidance.

I also want to be a better model for my children when it comes to prayer.  Whenever I do pray throughout the day my children have no idea what’s going on apart from formal “scheduled” prayers.  I want to not just pray, but to pray out loud.  If I want them to see what it looks like to trust God and seek Him in every part of our lives, I need to be more transparent and let them into my spiritual life.  So in 2014, this word will be posted around our house, impressed upon my heart, and hopefully become a more consistent part of my day.

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thes 5:17

Word for 2014