Thursday, January 17, 2019

#parentingtruth No.2 - Your traveling partner

parenting truth, marriage, your traveling partner

Today’s #parentingtruth is about partnership. I want to spend some time focusing on your traveling partner for the journey: your spouse. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in the day to day issues of life and forget that this is supposed to be a partnership. God did not design us to raise children alone, although I know a lot of you are currently in that situation. So let’s start there: how do you raise children when you are a single parent? Hopefully, you can find family and friends who work as your support group. While you won’t have the same relationship with them that you would with a spouse, they can be your traveling partners and make your childrens’ lives much richer, and yours a whole lot easier. Don’t do this alone!

The first part of this #parentingtruth I’ve learned is that your traveling partner is just as (or more) important than your destination. In this case, taking care of the relationship you have with your spouse is actually more important than where and when your children are grown and ready to move out. Why? Because you said “I do” to a lifetime, not just a season. Although it seems like you’ll be raising your kids for-ev-er, it really isn’t as long as you think. 

It is important to choose wisely how you spend those precious alone times you have together with your spouse. And just a word of warning - you will have to fight to keep them alone times. Feel free to put a child-proof lock on your bedroom door. It is worth the effort it takes to go on a date with your spouse. But, you need to make sure it is a date, and not just a gripe session. There will be years when you’re thankful for two hours away just to talk and walk through a park. Other years you may get to take an anniversary trip, or at least have a night away from home when no one calls you for anything. Wives, there will be days when you will have to dig deep and remember why you married him in order to summon up the strength to stay up late and enjoy married life. Husbands, there will be days when she absolutely cannot stay awake to enjoy married bliss. So if today is that day, remember why you married her, and then pull the blanket up over her and just let your lady sleep.

The second part of this #parentingtruth about partnership is learning to walk together. There will be times when one of you wants to run ahead, and the other lags behind. There will be days when you walk beside each other well, being that iron that sharpens iron, and other times when you will have to do a lot of self-sacrificing to not speak what is on your mind, especially if it is unpleasant. That is part of adulthood, learning how to lead, how to follow, and how to walk beside someone. It is a big part of marriage because each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Our traveling partner should be encouraging both when we succeed, and when we struggle.

If you are wondering how you are doing as a traveling partner in this parenthood journey, then you need to ask the tough questions. The toughest might be this: Will my spouse and I still be together when the children are grown? In order to have a relationship after the children are grown up, you have to cultivate a relationship while they are growing. Way too many couples, even Christians, put their children above their marriage. They spend so much time and effort trying to be the cool parent, or doing everything for their kids, that they neglect to see that their marriage is failing. If you have chosen to homeschool, remember that your marriage comes before grading math papers or teaching your child how to read. You would not have the freedom to homeschool unless your spouse was supporting you, so do not let it overwhelm other areas of your life.

We live in a tough world. It takes real work to keep a marriage strong. It takes trusting God to work out all the things we cannot do on our own. It takes a lot of self sacrifice and putting the other person first. It takes a whole lot of “I’m sorry” from both of you. Being a Christian does not guarantee your marriage will last, but it can give you the right perspective. That perspective shows us that God is the One who fulfills us and gives us our value. God is the One who meets all of our needs. If we try to find our value in how our spouse treats us, what they say to us, or think that they should meet all of our needs we will get a warped outlook on life. Yes, your spouse should be loving and kind, but guess what? They are also human, just like you, so they are bound to fail at times. Give them the grace that you know you will someday need for yourself.

There is one more part of this #parentingtruth about traveling partners that I want to share with you. You need to find interests that you share, and ones that you do not. Every mom is going to have a day when she just needs to get away from the family for a while. If she has no outside interests, what will she do for recreation? Wandering the aisle at the grocery store alone might be a nice change of pace, but it’s not actually a hobby - I’m talking to you moms! Every dad is going to come to a day when he wants to hang out either by himself or with other men. If the only interests he has are ones he shares with his wife, it won’t look like he is having some recreational time, it will look like he is purposely leaving his wife at home while he goofs off. Have shared interests, but also allow your spouse to pursue an activity or hobby on their own. Your marriage will be much stronger if you have both. 

Your spouse might come along with you to events or activities that are mostly just your interests, but hopefully you sometimes go with them to things they enjoy that you really do not care much about. You might be surprised and find a new shared interest.

Life is too short, and parenting too hard, to do on your own. Make time to spend with your traveling partner. Cultivate your marriage. After all, they are the reason you are a parent in the first place. 
(Wink, wink!)

parenting truth, marriage, your traveling partner

Thursday, January 10, 2019

#parentingtruth No. 1 - Curiosity is a gift!

parenting truth, curiosity, exploration, childhood

#parenting truth No. 1 - Curiosity is a gift

I suppose I could write this series from start to finish by starting with posts about babies and moving up through those teen years, but really, that would be boring, and I’ve spent a lot of my life purposely trying to not live it in a boring manner. Besides, I don’t want any of you to check out and decide you can just wait three months before you check in again! ;)

Today’s #parentingtruth is about curiosity. It seems to be the one thing all children are born with, and unfortunately, it is one of the first things we unintentionally kill in our children. As parents, it is our job to foster our children's curiosity, even if, and especially when, it is inconvenient. We cannot hope to raise curious, thoughtful children if we never give them time to explore and be curious. We cannot hope for them to grow up and embrace the wild world around them if we never let them leave their chairs.

It truly does not matter where your children receive their education, it matters that they receive one. Education does not save people, only Jesus can do that - but that is a topic for another #parentingtruth post! We chose to homeschool our kids, but it looked nothing like traditional school. There are private and public schools around the world that foster creativity and curiosity, and others that stifle it. These are YOUR children, not wards of the state, or the property of their grandparents. YOU are the parents, and thus, the need to learn about this ever-changing art form of parenting is real!

Our girls have always been curious. Sometimes to their detriment - like when Emily was a baby and kept wanting to explore what was in the kitchen trash can - mostly because it was off limits. When the house got quiet, Kurt and I would look at each other and draw imaginary straws to see who got to go remind her that the trash can was off limits and clean up the mess.

Even after graduating high school, our girls are still curious today. Arlene loves experimenting with natural dyes on her wool yarn. Sometimes she asks other textile-savvy friends for advice, and sometimes she just dumps it all in the pot and takes whatever comes out. I’m always happy when she is curious about a new recipe for cookies or scones, or tweaking an old one. Along the way our girls have had time to follow some of the rabbit trails of their curiosity, and that was always time well spent.

Are you curious? 

I know we have often turned down a side road out in the country just because someone in the car asked “I wonder what’s down that road?” Kurt said he enjoys doing that because it was always something he had to convince his parents to do. 

Curiosity does not wane unless we allow our attention to become so fixated on a particular goal that we miss the life that is going on around us. Don’t stifle your children’s curiosity, and allow your own to flourish as well. A couple years ago I attended a writing conference to learn more about how books are made - as in how they go from an idea to a printed copy on the shelf at the bookstore. While there, they mentioned that one of the breakout sessions had to be cancelled because the speakers had an emergency. But in its place, there would be a session on making books - as in how to put the raw pieces together to bind a simple book. I was SO excited! This was something I had always been curious about, and now I was going to get to experience it. While I learned a lot during that conference, the book making session was my favorite.

So what are your children curious about?

If you have not been the type of parent to embrace rabbit trail following in the past, you may find a little resistance as you learn about this part of the parenting art form. When asked directly, your children may not have anything in mind that they are curious about today. Maybe they’re wondering who you are and where their goal-driven parents went? LOL! But, I encourage you to persevere. Take your children outside, Yes, even in the dead of winter, and let them explore. Take them to the zoo, the art museum, the historical site, the local park, the library. Eventually they will start to regain their natural curiosity. And then, you will see their eyes light up when they make connections between things, places and events all on their own.

Having a child be curious is not a bad thing. All the time I see children who want to see what is beyond that rope, what is under that rotten log, or how many legs a bug has. As parents, you need to drop your natural tendency to say “no, stop, or don’t touch” and start being curious again alongside them. Teach them why there are ropes or fences to protect displays of artifacts, rare art, or building sites. Then teach them how and when to ask for permission if they are unsure if they can touch something they are curious about. Teach them how to whisper in your ear, or touch your arm to ask for help. Teach them how to interact with others from all walks of life. Help them learn, and be willing to learn something new alongside them.

Curiosity might have killed the proverbial cat, but curiosity with guidance can be the very best thing for your children to have.

parenting truth, curiosity, exploration, childhood

Friday, January 4, 2019

Parenting Truths - a new series

weekly series, parenting as an art form, #parentingtruth

Parenting Truths

As our children grow, we walk along this journey as parents wishing that those sweet little darlings had come with an instruction manual. In a way, they did. God’s Word tells us to talk to them about Him as we rise, walk along the road, and sit down again. Speaking the truths of Scripture into and over our children is the single best thing we can do to succeed as parents.

Beyond that though, we often wish for some practical helps. There are a variety of parenting books out there, and they promote a wide range of parenting styles. Some solid, some really wacky. But our children are more than a style. They are unique individuals, who need our hearts, and our time. 

Sometimes our best resources are friends who have “Been there, done that.” In the spirit of giving you and your family some encouragement in this coming year, I’ll be sharing a lot of those parenting truths Kurt and I have learned along the way. I’m working on my first book, one that talks about parenting as an ever-changing art, and not just a style or method. Along the way, there are some truths that I want to share with you. Some are practical tips, some might rock your perspective on life.

This series of parenting truths posts won’t encompass the entire book, but it will hopefully make you smile, and encourage you that there are others out there that have made it from point A to at least point G or H. I am of the firm belief that we will always be parenting our children in one way or another, because they never leave our hearts, even when they leave our homes. My mom has always been my source of inspiration when it comes to the basics of loving my own children well. If someday I grow up and can be half as patient and kind as she has always been with me, I will have succeeded indeed.

Just in case you’re new here, I’ll let you know right now that even though our daughters are 20 & 18, I do not have all the answers. I do however, know The One who does, and God is always, always, always faithful. When it seems He is far away, it is not because He has changed, but because we have taken our gaze and set it on other things. It might be time to take note of where our gaze is focused. God is our Father, and He loves us. Let’s remember that as we travel along this parenting journey. If God can love us, with all of our fear, failures and doubts, surely He can teach us how to love our children, and do it in a way that glorifies Him.

You can follow along by visiting the blog each Thursday, as I’m planning to have a #parentingtruth column up weekly, you can subscribe by email and get it in your inbox each Thursday evening, or you can follow along on Instagram and be reminded of when each new post is up. However you choose to tag along - welcome! Here’s to parenting those unique little darlings with joy, intention, and a lot of hugs! It is never too late to tie heartstrings with your children.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Homeschool check-up and the Fresh Start sale at

*this post contains affiliate links*

homeschooling, evaluation, new year

It is a new year, and that means time to evaluate what you're doing in your homeschool.

Are you happy with how things went last fall? Did you have enough choices that your kids weren't bored? Were you bored? Are you looking for something new or different, or are you looking for encouragement for the long haul?

Life has a way of throwing curveballs. Homeschooling is no exception. There were years when I thought we had everything we needed, and then a particular resource just didn't mesh with one of our girls' learning styles. There were years when we had enough, but decided we wanted to try something new. Sometimes you have plenty of money to buy something new, and other years you cringe when your child says they can't find a new eraser. Been there - done that.

We were always the piece things together type of family. Our youngest graduated high school last month, and we only had one year when we went with a set-by-someone-else curriculum. That was a painful year. The girls learned a lot, but it didn't really fit with their learning style, or my teaching style, to have everything so regimented that there was no extra time for exploration. We always loved exploration - especially time spent outdoors.

So where are you on that homeschooling journey? Ready to try something new? Firmly entrenched in your routine? Wondering if you're doing it right? Know that we are cheering for you, and praying for you!

It is a freeing feeling when you realize that your homeschool journey does not need to look like anyone else's!

If you've been considering something new, I encourage you to take a look at the Fresh Start sale that is happening over at this month. For new memberships, you can get access to all of their 425 courses plus extra resources for only $90 a year! That's half off the regular subscription cost! 

We have been members since started in 2012. Even though Arlene has graduated, I'm still keeping our membership for a while. There are a lot of planning and record keeping resources included with a yearly membership, and I'm not finished with them yet. Plus, it's fun to look at the newer courses and be able to tell you about them. One of the best things about home educating your children is the ability to go back and learn things you missed the first time. A lot of the high school level courses are great for adults... and learning something new helps stave off dementia - I'm all about that!

So take a while to reflect on how last semester went for your family. It's only January 1st, it is not time to jump back into homeschooling just yet - enjoy a few days of peace and reflection first. And if you decide you need a change, or some different resources, hop over and check out for some great inspiration at a really reasonable cost!

P.S. Just a reminder that if you join during the Fresh Start sale, you'll get to renew each year at the super low price of $90/year!

P.P.S. If you join during January, you'll receive a print copy of the Winter Issue that just released last month!