Daily Focus - December 2013

  • Meeting of the Minds

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Dec 31st

    Our homeschooling days would never have survived without incorporating family meetings. Every week, we sat down for a discussion time with our children to ask for their feedback about our homeschooling schedule and activities. Curriculum choices that weren't working were replaced with options that met each child's learning style. Unrealistic goals based on prepackaged teacher's keys were adapted to fit the abilities of each child. The enlistment of our children's insightful and creative opinions helped to keep our homeschooling interesting, workable, and fun. Read More...


  • My Unknown Angel

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Dec 30th

    We had been camped out for almost three hours waiting for the arena doors to open. We had come early to get in line for a free concert of our family's favorite Christian artist. Normally, I avoid crowds, especially when I have four small children to navigate through them, but this opportunity was too good to miss. My children had worked so hard homeschooling through the spring, and this outing was the rewarding finish to a productive school year. We were all looking forward to praising the Lord with wonderful music and meeting new Christian friends. Read More...


  • Transformations

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Dec 29th

    Everyone needs to grow up, including the children of homeschoolers. However, sometimes we make the homeschool nest so comfortable that our children stave off responsibilities they should be assuming as adults. We need to stop pacifying them with material comforts and encourage instead their desire to provide for themselves. After all, homeschooling means teaching our children to learn how to work, as well as how to think. Read More...


  • Robbing God

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Dec 28th

    When our children were young, we felt convicted by God to teach them the principle of tithing. We incorporated this lesson into our homeschooling and purchased little, white glow-in-the-dark church banks in which they could place their dimes, quarters, nickels, and pennies. When they earned money for chores or received money as gifts, we taught our children how to determine one tenth of the amount and place it into their bank. They loved the sound of the dropping coins and felt so grown up as they placed their own money into the offering plate each Sunday at church. Read More...


  • Dying Hope

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Dec 27th

    I found my daughter crying in her bedroom holding her cat for comfort. Lying on the bed was her literature workbook opened to the homeschool assignment she had been scheduled to complete that day. Not knowing the source of her pain, I offered a hug and waited for her to express her heartache. "Mom, that story was so sad," she cried. I looked at the page she had been reading and saw she had finished O. Henry's "The Last Leaf." Read More...


  • Greater Than, Less Than

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Dec 26th

    I thought my daughter was going to pull out her hair when she said, "Mom, I just don't get this!" We were studying the concepts of greater than, less than, and equal to in math, and she simply couldn't remember which sign to use when there was a lesser value. I explained, "A simple way to remember is that the sign should point to the smaller value." My daughter smiled as she began to understand and exclaimed, "Mom, you're so smart!" Read More...


  • A Christmas Love Letter

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Dec 25th

    I see you sitting there tired, worn out, and empty. Another year of homeschooling has used you up. You feel helpless like a baby. That's OK. I know all about being a baby. I was born one for you many years ago. I know the ache you feel to be held and loved, and that is why I came. I knew you would be sitting there in the future, praying and asking me to hold you, and I am, dear one. Let me give you a special Christmas gift of love as I breathe new life into the center of your soul. Read More...


  • Peace on Earth

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Dec 24th

    The words on the Christmas card and the noise coming from our school room stood in stark contrast to one another. "Peace on Earth," the card read. "My, wouldn't that be nice?" I thought. I guess every homeschooling parent longs for a peaceful home, but hearing the crescendo in my children's voices, I knew that peace wasn't happening today at our house. Still, Christmas was coming, and I could hope, right? Read More...


  • No Peeking

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Dec 23rd

    Christmas is such a fun time for secrets. At our house, our four children were not allowed to look into the closets or under our bed until all the gifts were wrapped. Since we were homeschooling, enforcing this rule was not too difficult. However, even after the presents had been wrapped, determining what was inside was sometimes easy for my children to figure out, especially as they got older and smarter. I learned that if I wanted to surprise them at Christmas, I needed to cleverly disguise the box in which the gift was wrapped, even if disguising it meant adding a brick for extra weight. Read More...


  • Christmas Cheer

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Dec 22nd

    "Let's go, Mom. Everyone is waiting for us in the car," cried my daughter as she ran out the door for the Christmas Eve program at church. I smiled at her enthusiasm and thought back to days when I was a young girl looking forward to Christmas. My Christmases were filled with relatives, oyster stew, chocolate covered cherries, Christmas programs at church, and opening gifts in knee-deep paper with my family of nine. Yet, my most cherished memories of Christmas were the hours my mother and I spent beforehand wrapping gifts for my family. Read More...


  • Broccoli Soup

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Dec 21st

    The snow was gently falling as we sat down to enjoy our Christmas Eve supper of soup, sandwiches, and cookies. The candles were lit, and the light from the flickering flames made each homemade Christmas ornament hanging from the windows twinkle. The house was cozy and warm from a full day of cooking, and the fragrant aromas tantalized our taste buds. Four young faces were eagerly anticipating opening their Christmas gifts after the meal, and my husband and I smiled in satisfaction at God's blessings. With Grandpa and Grandma's arrival earlier that afternoon, the perfect Christmas scene was now complete. Read More...


  • The Christmas Bean

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Dec 20th

    I'm not sure how the tradition got started. I think my daughter first started the idea since she was the best cake baker in our homeschool family. Every Christmas we baked a small cake for a birthday party in Sunday school for Jesus. Using only half the dough, my daughter decided to use the other half for individual cupcakes for our family. She thought decorating these cupcakes for each person at our Christmas Eve dinner would be fun, and then she had an inspiration. Why not hide an uncooked kidney bean in one of the cupcakes? The person who found the bean baked in his cupcake would be the first to open his gifts at Christmas. Read More...


  • Arise, O Sleeper

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Dec 19th

    Waking up my children in the wintertime usually brought an unwelcomed start to our homeschooling day. Most mornings my children were dead to the world because it was still dark outside. They responded like bears in hibernation — in lethargic slow motion. I felt like the evil stepmother in Cinderella as I forced them out of their beds to do their list of morning chores before breakfast. I was always glad for the change of seasons and embraced the longer and happier days of summer sunshine. Read More...


  • Dream Stealer

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Dec 18th

    "No," I said again to my daughter for the hundredth time. "We don't have the money to buy a horse." As I heard myself saying the words, I felt like I was bursting her bubble, although I knew what I was saying was true. Any homeschooling family living on one income knows the careful planning and budgeting that has to be implemented just to pay for day-to-day living expenses. Read More...


  • Repeat Lessons

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Dec 17th

    Young children love consistency in homeschooling lessons. Playing the same game or reading the same book repeatedly gives them a sense of accomplishment. Repetition helps them master letters, words, and mathematical operations and provides a strong foundation for their future learning. Because these foundational lessons are so important, we can be thankful young children are willing to learn through repetition. Read More...


  • Feeble Excuses

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Dec 16th

    I was listening to my daughter as she gave me the feeble excuse, "But Mom, the rest of the homeschool group is going!" I already knew my answer was going to be "no" to this unchaperoned activity of co-ed young teens, but her words caused me to think about the need we all feel to be like everyone else. I remembered using the same poor excuse with my parents and hearing the same "would you jump off a cliff if everyone else did it, too" lecture. Why do we have such a need to be like others? Read More...


  • Dying to Self

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Dec 15th

    Homeschooling is not what you thought. Those images of perfectly happy children soaking in your words of wisdom have evaporated. You feel like you have bitten off more than you can chew. You are reevaluating. Homeschooling involves sacrificing more of your precious day than you intended. "What about time for me?" you ask. Read More...


  • Dedicated Dads

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Dec 14th

    If you're a homeschool mom, you've probably experienced the feeling of being unappreciated by the world, right? Imagine then, what your husband must feel like as he quietly contributes to your family's homeschooling day. Even though you get some credit for doing the majority of teaching, he usually receives no recognition at all. He remains unnoticed by both friends and family (sometimes his own). Perhaps it is time to consider some of the ways he faithfully supports your children's educational success, such as the following: Read More...


  • Time for Recess

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Dec 13th

    Somewhere during my teaching career as a homeschooling parent, I came up with the "brilliant" idea of cramming all our schoolwork into half days. By eliminating our mid-morning playtime, we could school for four to five hours straight and finish the day early. My reasoning for this decision was to provide more free time and field trips for my children, but later, I was forced to admit that my idea was really meant to make life more convenient for me. Every time we attempted this cramped schedule, my children became stressed. Praise God, they were smarter than me on this issue and said the trade off was simply not worth the strain. Time for recess was just as important as school time. Read More...


  • The Thorn

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Dec 12th

    The pain in my daughter's palm was first apparent while practicing her piano lesson for school one day. A small discoloration and swelling was visible, but they seemed insignificant against the healthy flesh. As time went on, however, I observed the difficulty my daughter had while holding her pencil during schoolwork. I applied my own home remedies to help with the discomfort, but they brought little change. Eventually, a cyst was diagnosed by a specialist, and surgery was scheduled to remove it. Read More...


  • The Cottonwood

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Dec 11th

    The enormous cottonwood tree had stood for years outside the upstairs bedroom window of our farmhouse. As a young girl, I grew up playing in its branches and hiding behind its trunk during games of hide and seek. Its shade covered and cooled our house in the summer, and its branches protected us from the fierce north winds of winter. Now, as an adult, I looked out the same window and watched as my young daughters played the same childhood games during recess from homeschooling. A third generation had come to this farm home, and somehow the cottonwood had remained the same — strong, protective, and majestic. Read More...


  • Homeschool Hazard Signs

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Dec 10th

    Like the road signs that warn us of impending danger, there are also warning signs for parents on the road of homeschooling. We can either take heed to the dangers that they clearly indicate lay ahead, or we can choose to disobey these common hazard signs and end up in a homeschooling wreck. Read More...


  • How Much Wood?

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Dec 9th

    Living and homeschooling on one income forced our family to heat our old farmhouse with wood for the winter months. Although our money was limited, the endless supply of wood available in our grove and the groves of neighbors was not. One math lesson my children wished they could have skipped learning was the dimension of a true cord of wood — 4' x 4' x 8'. Read More...


  • Daisy

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Dec 8th

    What picture comes to your mind when you hear about a cow named Daisy? Do you see a soft-eyed jersey with a sweet, calm nature? That's what my son and I were hoping for when we adopted a baby twin calf from our neighbor one spring for a homeschooling project. Although she was not a jersey, she did have the sweetest face with big eyelashes that looked like the petals on a daisy. Thus she was named, and a new adventure in raising a baby calf began for my son. Read More...


  • No More

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Dec 7th

    When we first started homeschooling, I was so excited to give my children every learning opportunity available. My schedule included lofty ideas of weekly field trips and my children's involvement in any sport, music, or church activity they desired. After all, we wanted to make sure no one accused us of isolating our children. However, after homeschooling three to four months, I realized my sanity was at stake if I continued to run my four children out the door to each of their daily activities. The half-completed projects and academic assignments that were left behind added additional proof that we had a problem. That's when I decided: no more. Read More...


  • Down, but Not Out

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Dec 6th

    You know your homeschooling day hasn't gone well when your husband comes home from work and finds you crying. Some days being a Christian and a homeschooling mom puts you into situations that tear you down and bring you to tears. The rejection by others overwhelms, frightens, angers, and discourages you. The world does all it can do to convince you that you are a fool for following Christ and His call to educate your children. Read More...


  • My Life's a...

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Dec 5th

    I tried to listen to the deeper message my high school daughter was communicating as she went on about all the terrible things in her life. Her list continued to lengthen until she stopped mid-sentence and said, "My life's just a pain." Most of her issues involved trusting God for future provisions and the challenge of waiting on Him for these unknowns. I could see her faith being stretched, but I was bothered by her ungrateful response to what God had already given her. Couldn't she see all the blessings around her? Didn't she know and appreciate how much we had sacrificed to give her the best education at home? Read More...


  • Treasures in Heaven

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Dec 4th

    My 12-year-old son's favorite pastime after our homeschooling day was looking for hidden items in the ground with his metal detector. Searching for money, old bullet shells, jewelry, and other items consumed hours of his time. At first, I loved seeing his excited face as he came running into the house with each latest treasure. Soon, however, I noticed a change in his attitude. Like a gambler placing his next bet, he seemed to be driven to find the next treasure that might be worth hundreds of dollars. Greed had taken over, and we needed to bring his hobby under Christ's lordship. Read More...


  • What Should I Do?

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Dec 3rd

    Do you ever wish you could wake up in the morning and let someone else figure out how your homeschool day is supposed to go? My indecisiveness in homeschooling was usually generated by the fear of making the wrong decisions. What if we were using the wrong curriculum? What if my children weren't getting enough social interaction? What if my children weren't learning what they needed to know to be successful in college? Wasn't there someplace I could go to find all the answers, so I didn't have to second guess myself anymore? Read More...


  • Are You Listening?

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Dec 2nd

    Like many homeschooling mothers, I sat working at the kitchen table as my children worked on their schoolwork. Although I was supposed to be teaching, I was also doing several other jobs at the same time — washing clothes, cooking supper, and grading papers. As I snipped fresh green beans from our garden for our evening meal, my son asked me a question about his math. He was having difficulty with factoring numbers, and he needed my help. Read More...


  • Big Sky, Big God

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Dec 1st

    Living in western Nebraska, where the sky is bigger than the ground, our homeschooling family developed a particular love of studying the clouds and the sky. On countless occasions, one of my children would come running into the house and say, "Mom, you've got to come and see this!" Walking outside together, we would stand and watch as God painted a breathtaking scene just for us on the canvas of His sky. Each inspiring sunrise or sunset seemed to make all the homeschooling problems of the day fade into insignificance. Read More...