Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Bronze Bow - a book review


   Have you read The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare, with your children?  If not, I would highly suggest you add it to your Must Read list.  Personally, I think it is great done as a "read aloud" because of the deep spiritual content that can be discussed. But it is also a great title for their independent reading list. With all the garbage in reading material being marketed to our kids, I appreciate a book that is worthy of our time and is edifying for my children.      
   My kids were 12 and 15 when we read it and it is up there with my top 5 titles.  As a book lover, I have a hard time narrowing down my favorites, but this one qualifies for several reasons.  First, it takes the reader on a challenging and beautiful spiritual journey.   Also, it is very well written (same author as Witch of  Blackbird Pond), engaging the early teen with both adventure and drama, while drawing them into the lives of the main characters, which often gives opportunity to explore their own personal relationship with Jesus.
     This story explores our struggles with forgiveness, self-worth, kindness and much more, through the eyes of a young Jewish man who has been hurt, especially by the Roman government, and is looking for a hero to lead him in a revolt and is chomping at the bit to join The Cause.   It is set at the time of Christ, and the main characters actually encounter Jesus as He teaches in the region.  The main characters are older teens, so our teen readers can identify with some of their struggles. Through disappointments in others that he has put his faith in, and surprising friendships that come his way, the main character Daniel begins to see his own need for a Savior and experiences a life and heart transformed through a  relationship with Jesus.  Just a little FYI... I needed my tissues nearby, especially towards the end.  Very powerful story.  NOTE: Our local library carries this title.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Country Founded by Geniuses but run by Idiots

Found this on my friend's blog, and thought it was worth sharing. And even though I see his point, I do love and appreciate this "dumb" country, although a return to common sense seems to be in order. : )
A few thoughts from Jeff Foxworthy...
If plastic water bottles are okay, but plastic bags are banned, — you might live in a nation (state) that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots WE DO LIVE IN SUCH A DUMB COUNTRY!!
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If an 80-year-old woman who is confined to a wheelchair or a three-year-old girl can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

Jeff Foxworthy


Thanksgiving Songs

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

I love to talk homeschooling and I'm happy to share any information or opinion that others might find helpful.  Sometimes a friend will joke that I'm the one to ask because I am familiar with many names... curriculum, authors, book titles, etc.  But the truth is that I really don't personally know "so much" about homeschooling.  There are many other veteran homeschoolers out there that can also offer valuable advice and counsel regarding homeschooling.   I just read a lot about homeschooling and through that I glean a lot of general information (as well as specific info. that is helpful to my personal journey).  By reading several homeschool publications, including The Old Schoolhouse magazine, I read reviews on a variety of curriculum options, encouraging articles written by dedicated, veteran homeschoolers with much wisdom to share, even ads that acquaint me with resources I might want to try or recommend.  Some have said they don't have the time to read (isn't that what bathrooms are for?) or that they get overwhelmed with so much information.  But I have found that I can learn and retain a lot from reading in small snippets of time, and that is a good use of those small snippets.

One of the benefits of reading many homeschool resources is that you gain a sense of confidence.  You feel "in the know" and informed and that is the opposite of feeling lost and unsure.  Also, by reading the resources out there, God can use those tools to direct your family's home education and discipleship.  I'm always happy to share my thoughts, but it is impossible to pass on oodles of information in a conversation or two.  So I often recommend that homeschoolers read and read and read for themselves, not because I mind having the conversation... not at all!  But our time is limited and I want to see homeschoolers equipped for the journey.  Reading homeschool publications is a good way to do that.

   The Old Schoolhouse magazine is only available in digital format now and you can visit any day to read their digital magazine, which is loaded with useful and helpful information.  They also publish a large, annual print magazine, for those of us who still prefer to bend corners and flip through real pages.   One of the best ways to grow as a homeschooler is to read the resources God has provided for us. Here is the link to their Sept./Oct. digital issue… check it out HERE .

FREE APP - TOS (The Old Schoolhouse) magazine has a free app available. I don’t have a ton of down time, but when I do, it is quite handy to just click, browse and read many helpful articles. So go to your app store and type in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and get your free app today.   Gotta make that technology work for us! : )

Sunday, September 14, 2014


~ Below is an article I’ve written, as a response to inquiries I’ve received regarding the government’s support of home schooling. I hope it is informative and helpful as families make final decisions about their educational options for the fall. This article is not a judgment or criticism of families’ choices for their children’s education. It is intended to pass on information that parent’s may not be aware of, in order to help equip parents to make informed decisions.  : )

As a support group leader, I am often asked about education options and am asked to explain the difference between home schooling and the parent partnership programs. I appreciate parents who are seeking to understand their options and I respect parents’ ultimate decisions, and I do my best to help families make informed choices. On a similar topic, recently I was asked about the government schools attitude towards and support of home schooling, since that is how most of the parent partnership programs are advertised… as a support to homeschoolers. Now, I can’t speak for the public school programs, and I’m certain there are many wonderful, possibly supportive folks working at public school parent partnership programs. But this person wanted some “data” about what the government schools in general think of home schooling. Her children have been enrolled in a PPP for several years, but recently she was disappointed by a string of decisions that affected her family and the way her opinion and concerns were disregarded. This situation caused her to question the attitude behind the program she was “partnered” with.

In the past, I have read some rather disturbing quotes from leaders in the NEA (National Education Association), regarding home schooling and parents in general. But I hadn’t looked at those sources in quite awhile, so I began to hunt for current information. When I look up that sort of information, I don’t always look to a local source. I look to the NEA, which is basically the head of all public schools and public school programs. And when I look at that organization, I am saddened and a bit offended by their opinion of parent led, home based instruction.

Below, I have included a quote from their own NEA Resolutions that specifically addresses what they think of home schooling and I believe is
very revealing as to how “supportive” they are of the home school option. The reason I have decided to include it here, is not to scold or criticize any parents who have opted to participate in a public school program. My friends know that I respect parents’ educational choices for their families, be it public, private or home schooling. But rather, I thought it was important that families be aware of the underlying attitude of the organization they are partnering with. I hope this information helps families be a little guarded, knowing that at the root, the NEA does not respect or approve of a parent’s role in directing our children’s education, and desires to impose much regulation and restriction on what we can teach our children. I think that is an agenda worth being informed of. So since I had to find the information for the mom who asked, I decided to share it here as a resource for all parents, regardless of the educational option we choose for our children. Being informed is always a good thing. : )

NEA’s resolutions on home schooling - Does this sound like an organization that supports and respects homeschoolers or the home school option?
Below is article B-83, which is copied (bold emphasis, mine) directly from page 38 of the NEA Resolutions document found here: 

B-83. Home Schooling
The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.

The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1988, 2006)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Co-op Caution

Below is an article I’ve written about co-ops. It came about partly as a response to many families contacting me in a quandary about their participation in a co-op, or the lack of finding one available to them. It was also inspired by new homeschoolers contacting me, and the first question they often have is: “Does CHEE offer a co-op? And if not, is there one available to join?”. I love co-ops… home school families working and learning together. It is not my intention to be critical of or discourage families from this wonderful option for home school families. However, I do see some “side effects” and as a support group leader, I feel a responsibility to address the issue for those who may be struggling to make decisions this summer for their family. So, please know my heart is to equip home school moms who are desiring to do what is “best” for their children, and I just want them to know they have lots of options.  : )


  While I advertise co-op opportunities and see certain benefits in participating in one, I also have some reservations about the co-op culture I see within the home school community. Please allow me to share my thoughts on participating in a co-op. My intention is not to discourage families from joining or forming a co-op, but I think there is a need for a discussion for those weighing this decision for their family. Personally, I often enjoy learning in a co-op setting, and have spent many of my 19 home school years participating in one type or another. I’ve also spent many years not participating in a co-op setting, depending on the needs of my children or the situations of my family. Joining a co-op is not always a good fit for every home school family or every season, and I think it is beneficial to chat about that. I mention this because I am seeing a trend of homeschoolers, (especially new homeschoolers) feeling that they must find a co-op to belong to, and I’m concerned that they understand that if they find a co-op that works for them… great, but if not, that’s fine too. There really is value in being comfortable with just mom and the kids learning together at home. Again, if you find a great fit out there, then wonderful. But if you can’t find one available or are feeling some stress or pause over the issue, don’t hesitate to reevaluate your decision to participate. Let me share a few of my thoughts.

Co-ops can be a great place to find fellowship and encouragement, for both moms and kids. But there are some disadvantages to a co-op as well.

Advantages/Blessings -
* Encouragement/fellowship for both moms and kids.

* Accountability/motivation to complete certain school work or subjects.

* Homeschool friendships and belonging to a “home school community”. My parenting style is one where we limit outside friendships as an effort to guard and retain the hearts of our children. I don’t like competition. : )  And I like to foster primary friendships between siblings when we can. But this is a little parenting “secret”, so I look for opportunities to foster the “illusion of friends“ (that‘s a private joke, by the way). What I mean by illusion, is that while the friendships are important and valuable, they don’t become the primary influence in my children’s lives. A co-op allows for group/family friendships to develop, but doesn’t allow a lot of opportunity for intimate, one on one time, and personally, that works best for us.

* Some courses intimidate mom and we can get them done more easily in a co-op or small group setting.

* Co-op can offer a chance for our children to learn under the teaching of someone else, and to work with other teaching personalities, which can be a nice skill, especially for older students, as long as that person sees themselves as a facilitator, and not an authority over our children’s education.
* In a co-op setting, we are able to be blessed by the gifts and specialties of others, and in turn share our gifts or specialties with others, and everyone is blessed in ways they may not be able to offer alone.

* Co-op can be a lifeline, especially for teens, who benefit from feeling part of a community, and learning along side like-minded, home schooled teens.

Disadvantages/Burdens -
* Someone else dictates what your family will be learning in a given year, rather than the freedom to follow the Lord’s leading specific to your family and children.

* Co-op can end up steering your homeschool ship. Many other worthy endeavors get shelved to meet the demands of what we are doing at co-op. Sometimes it’s worth that. Sometimes it’s not.

* Co-op sets the pace… there is a loss of freedom in slowing down or speeding up in response to your children’s strengths or weaknesses, or your family‘s schedule, etc. When the pace is set by the co-op, it can lead to a sense of failure, just because you aren’t meeting outside expectations imposed by the co-op. But this is the nature of group learning vs. individual family learning.

* Dependency… sometimes moms become dependent on the co-op leadership to decide what to teach or how to teach, and lack confidence in their role as the authority and primary teacher in their home school, because they aren’t operating in that role. Once a co-op opportunity is no longer available, moms feel lost and are at risk of looking for other options, such as traditional school or parent partnerships, where someone else has responsibility/authority for educational decisions, etc. Again, mainly from a lack of confidence.

* Can be difficult to drag younger siblings through a co-op day… missing naps, routines, etc.

Suggestions - These are just my random thoughts on the topic.

* Understand that participating in a co-op is one option and can be a blessing, BUT it is not necessary for a successful and joyful and fulfilling home school lifestyle. Family IS enough because God made families to live together and learn together. Everything else is extra. : ) In fact, oftentimes a co-op can be a distraction from what your heart would really prefer to spend time on each week. So decide carefully and don‘t feel a co-op is a Must.

* Perhaps if you have younger children ( approx. 7 and younger) a regularly scheduled Play Day would be a better fit, since there isn’t the need to put academic demands on our young ones, but the social friendship time would be a fun activity to look forward to each week or bi-weekly. This relaxed “get-together” time could apply to those with older children as well, of course.

* I feel strongly that a home school co-op should look and feel like FAMILIES coming together for fellowship and learning together, not like a school, where someone else is in “charge” of our children and us. I think that is a dangerous trend and blurs the purpose and lifestyle of home schooling. As co-ops grow larger, it is easy, if not necessary, to follow a more administrative model of learning together, so there can be an advantage to fewer families meeting together. Just be mindful that a co-op respects your role as mom/parent and doesn’t usurp your role as the primary “teacher” of your own children. Even with more academic subjects, a co-op should offer a “facilitator” and always expect parents to use the tests or evaluations, if any, however they deem fit in their own home school records. Co-ops should be a tool and resource for home school parents. They are not an entity that home school parents should “answer to” as any sort of authority over your family‘s education. That is a public school model that we want to avoid.

* As an alternative to joining an existing co-op, or if one is not available, consider asking just one other family (or maybe several!) to join you for a “club”… science club, history club, writing club, music club, book club, etc., and learn something together. Sometimes these smaller “co-ops” allow for more flexibility and are geared more specifically to the interests of the few involved. Small groups foster closer family friendships while fulfilling all the other benefits of a larger co-op. Mom’s can take turns “teaching” or one can “teach” while the others host at their homes, or both teaching and hosting can rotate. You have lots of options… be creative and create something that fits your family well.

* It is a good idea to be familiar with who will be “teaching” your children, especially for certain subjects. Respectfully, there are some topics that we don’t agree on, and might not appreciate another viewpoint being taught. For instance, it would be important to me that all science is taught from a creation/young earth worldview. Sounds like a given in a Christian environment, but not so now days. Our churches are infiltrated with Theistic Evolution as a worldview (this seems to me like a way for Christians who have been raised in public schools to try and merge their faith with their education… but that is another article.) Another subject that we might be concerned about is history, since views on patriotism or America’s role in history vary.

* Be familiar with the educational style or philosophy associated with a co-op. There is not one right method to home school. And from relaxed/unschooling all the way to strict classical education, I have seen both success and failure along the way and in the final product. I respect all methods and love to see families pursue and implement the educational method that works well for them. However, be cautious about a particular method being imposed on your students if that is not a good fit. Understandably, a co-op will tend to reflect the educational method/style of those who are organizing it, so just be sure you are comfortable with that. And if at some point you find that either you can’t meet the expectations or you are disappointed in the lack of academic requirements, it may be time to step away or form something that is a better reflection of your own style and philosophy. It is somewhat like finding a church… often they each have their strengths and while they may be doing good things, the emphasis might not be a good fit for your family.
* If you still have very little ones, consider postponing co-op participation a few years, when everyone is done with naps and all the children are ready for some group learning time with friends. This goes back to the Play Day alternative idea. If you have a large age span with your children, you can look for or create an environment where the little ones are incorporated or there are provisions made for moms with small children.

* I have found that middle and high schoolers seem to benefit from a co-op the most. I am not suggesting that families with younger children are not welcome and a blessing at a co-op, or those children don‘t also enjoy co-op. Rather, I mention this for those with younger children who are struggling with the pressure to join a co-op because they feel that their children are missing out on something important if they don’t. I just want those families to feel the freedom to stay home and learn together in a relaxed environment… reading on the couch, toddlers playing on the floor, babies crawling on everybody… ahhh… some of the best memories of home schooling!! : )

* For those with older students, co-op can meet a need for fellowship and foster a sense of community. Under supervision and with parent involvement all around, this can be a very good thing. As our teens are growing up, their world expands outside of just the family and a co-p setting can be a nice place to form friendships with other Christian homeschoolers, which helps teens remain content with your family’s decision to home school high school. And there can be rich fellowship, inspiration and motivation as they tackle upper level courses with others. This is not necessary, but is an option that should be considered.

I hope these thoughts are helpful as you may be thinking about what to put on your list for this coming school year. I hope you have a sense that you have options and that a co-op experience is not the measure of success in home schooling, and also that you can create your own co-op if there isn‘t an existing one that suits you well. As with most opportunities, there are both pros and cons, and often the blessings outweigh the burdens. So proceed with caution, in your consideration of a co-op, thinking about the needs of your family. And above all, prayerfully seek what the Lord would have this season of home schooling look like for your family.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


 Two beautiful poems by Edgar Guest to honor motherhood this weekend.  Both make me thankful for the sweet mother God blessed my life with.  And both inspire me to be that kind of mother to my children. 


Let every day be Mother's Day!
Make roses grow along her way
And beauty everywhere.
Oh, never let her eyes be wet
With tears of sorrow or regret,
And never cease to care!
Come, grown up children, and rejoice
That you can hear your mother's voice!

A day for her! For you she gave
Long years of love and service brave;
For you her youth was spent.
There was no weight of hurt or care
Too heavy for her strength to bear;
She followed where you went;
Her courage and her love sublime
You could depend on all the time.

No day or night she set apart
On which to open wide her heart
And welcome you within;
There was no hour you would not be
First in her thought and memory,
Though you were black as sin!
Though skies were gray or skies were blue
Not once has she forgotten you.

Let every day be Mother's Day!
With love and roses strew her way,
And smiles of joy and pride!
Come, grown up children, to the knee
Where long ago you used to be
And never turn aside;
Oh, never let her eyes grow wet
With tears, because her babes forget.

  By Edgar Guest



She never closed her eyes in sleep till we were all in bed;
On party nights till we came home she often sat and read.
We little thought about it then, when we were young and gay,
How much the mother worried when we children were away.
We only knew she never slept when we were out at night,
And that she waited just to know that we'd come home all right.

Why, sometimes when we'd stayed away till one or two or three,
It seemed to us that mother heard the turning of the key;
For always when we stepped inside she'd call and we'd reply,
But we were all too young back then to understand just why.
Until the last one had returned she always kept a light,
For mother couldn't sleep until she'd kissed us all good night.

She had to know that we were safe before she went to rest;
She seemed to fear the world might harm the ones she loved the best.
And once she said: "When you are grown to women and to men,
Perhaps I'll sleep the whole night through; I may be different then."
And so it seemed that night and day we knew a mother's care--
That always when we got back home we'd find her waiting there.

Then came the night that we were called to gather round her bed:
"The children all are with you now," the kindly doctor said.
And in her eyes there gleamed again the old-time tender light
That told she had been waiting just to know we were all right.
She smiled the old-familiar smile, and prayed to God to keep
Us safe from harm throughout the years, and then she went to sleep.

By Edgar Guest