Daily Focus - January 2014

  • Commissioned to Serve

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Jan 31st

    When was your defining moment of deciding to homeschool your children? Mine came one day as I stood over the kitchen sink washing dishes for the fourth time. After running all day to keep up with my preschoolers and the housework, I felt as limp as the dish rag I was holding. I had been thinking about homeschooling, but quite frankly, the thought of being a homeschooling parent for the rest of my life wasn't too appealing right then. As my children entertained themselves with one of their favorite Christian music tapes, the words to the song they were playing echoed in my thoughts. In that moment, something happened. The Holy Spirit convicted me and said, "Are you willing to be my servant?" Read More...


  • Cleaning Day

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Jan 30th

    About once a month I would shake my head in despair when I looked into our homeschooling supply closet. "How does this get messed up so quickly?" I would think. "I just cleaned this a few weeks ago, and now it looks like a tornado hit again!" Staying organized and keeping things put away were endless tasks for me as a homeschooling parent. Multiply four children times six to eight subjects apiece with accompanying teacher's guides, quiz and test papers, and answer keys (plus endless art and daily school supplies), and it's no wonder I couldn't keep ahead of the mess. Even though I tried to pick up and straighten things out daily, the added monthly task of a major clean-up day was always necessary. Read More...


  • Unanswerable Questions

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Jan 29th

    Do your younger children drive you crazy with all their questions each day? With an insatiable desire to know "why," they ask a barrage of unending questions that homeschooling parents are forced to answer as best they can. Some questions like "Why is the sky blue?" and "Where do babies come from?" might set us back for a few minutes as we think of the best way to answer. However, other questions like "Why did Grandpa die?" and "Why did God let my sister get cancer?" pose a much bigger challenge. Sometimes, questions are simply unanswerable, and the "whys" of life's problems have no answer keys for us. Read More...


  • Homeschool Fears

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Jan 28th

    Satan really takes advantage of homeschoolers. When you jump into something different, such as teaching your own children, you become susceptible to his attacks of doubt and fear. Unsure of your abilities, you second-guess your decisions and desperately look for affirmation and direction. Added to those doubts are questioning remarks and comments from those who don't homeschool, and soon you begin to think, "I could really mess up my children's lives if I do this wrong!" The multiple battlefronts of spiritual, emotional, and physical attacks call for reinforcement from the Lord. Only His divine strength, wisdom, and power can counteract Satan's fears. Read More...


  • Test Days

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Jan 27th

    Test days brought varying responses from my homeschooled children. My oldest daughter was ready to tackle whatever was thrown at her with aggressive confidence. My oldest son faced his tests pensively and held a quiet, inner confidence as he matched his knowledge against the written questions. With the fearful apprehension of a person facing the gallows, my youngest daughter dreaded the challenge, and my youngest son just shrugged off the pressure and simply gave tests his best shot. Surprisingly, test days not only revealed what my children knew academically, but they also revealed their character. Read More...


  • Reflections

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Jan 26th

    As my eight-year-old son and I observed the craters on the moon for science class, his simple observation of the moon's reflection left a profound teaching on both our minds."Mom," he asked. "The moon really has no light of its own, does it?""No," I replied. "It simply reflects the light from the sun. If the sun was gone, the moon wouldn't shine either." Read More...


  • Making Do

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Jan 25th

    Contrary to public opinion, you can homeschool your children without spending a large amount of money. Like most homeschooling parents, I considered "cheap" and "free" my favorite two words when looking for curriculum and resources for our homeschool. Many times I was forced to make my own teaching aids for phonics, math, and science concepts. Surprisingly, my children never minded my homemade visuals. In fact, they became inspired to design their own teaching tools for playing games together. Read More...


  • Homeschooling Blunders

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Jan 24th

    My daughter glared at me from across the room, and I knew I had done it again. I had embarrassed her by speaking for her when my friend asked her what she had learned in school that day. This violation of her individuality and personhood ranked quite high on her top ten list of homeschooling blunders, and Mom was the worst offender! As she informed me that day, "Mom, I am 13 and perfectly capable of answering questions on my own!" Read More...


  • Undeserved Love

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Jan 23rd

    The email was waiting for me when I arrived at work. The message was short, sweet, and simply read, "I love you forever, Mom!" Instantly, I was taken back in time to my blond, blue-eyed, five-year-old daughter as she stood in front of me with pigtails, a toothless smile, and a book tucked under her arm. I smiled and thanked God again for the privilege of homeschooling my children. What a blessing they had been and were continuing to be in my life! Read More...


  • Who's Your Child's Hero?

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Jan 22nd

    Who are your children's role models? Do they wish to emulate movie stars, sports heroes, or rock stars? Homeschooled children are no different from other children. They also can gravitate toward today's personalities and assimilate their qualities and characteristics. However, the people who stand out in the media often reflect values and beliefs far different from those we wish to see in our children. Read More...


  • The Proof Is in the Pudding

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Jan 21st

    I take a strong stand in the beliefs I hold about homeschooling. Perhaps after 25 years of educating my children at home, I have earned the right to stand on my soap box and state clearly why I know homeschooling works. I know it works because my children have proved it works. They have graduated from college with honors, they know how to socialize, and they are able to function well in the work world and their communities. More importantly, each of them knows the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and the truths of His Word. Read More...


  • Death at My Door (Part 2)

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Jan 20th

    Somehow we arrived at the hospital within minutes, even though it was 12 miles away from our house. We ran through the hospital doors to the emergency room and found the doctor waiting for us. Immediately, he began force feeding our daughter a charcoal mixture to neutralize the strychnine's effects. Since strychnine is normally fast acting, the next half hour was agonizing as my daughter suffered through gulping more of this mixture in between terrified sobs. Expecting the worse, we all watched and waited. After two more hours of this treatment, the doctor believed our daughter was out of danger. No visible effect of the poison was apparent in my daughter's body, and we became hopeful she was going to be all right. Miraculously, her condition seemed to indicate she hadn't swallowed any of the poison. However, the doctor gave strict instructions to monitor her through the night. Read More...


  • Death at My Door (Part 1)

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Jan 19th

    One evening after hosting a Bible study for homeschooling friends around a campfire, my observant son noticed a small amber-colored bottle lying on the ground. Walking up to me with the bottle in his hand, he began to read the letters on the bottle's torn label, "S-t-r-y-c-h . . . what's this, Mom?" he asked. Read More...


  • Mother of the Year

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Jan 18th

    Sometime after the third or fourth year of homeschooling, I finally gained enough confidence to believe that I was capable of teaching my children at home. I could see my children were actually learning, and I was excited to be involved in their day-to-day learning adventure. Everything was clicking with our curriculum, and we actually seemed to be in a rhythm with our daily routine and homeschooling schedule. Still, something seemed to be missing. Read More...


  • Strength under Fire

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Jan 17th

    An emergency in my brother's family required me to give up our normal homeschooling day to watch his children. Looking out the window, I observed his children and mine playing together in the big tractor tire sand box. Considering that seven children were crowded into one small area, they were getting along quite well. Then, the inevitable happened. One of my brother's sons got upset because his space was violated, and he pushed my oldest daughter out of the sand box. Amazingly, my four-year-old son stepped up to defend his big sister. Raising himself to full height, he said, "You can't treat my sister like that!" My son never even considered the consequences of defiantly challenging his older cousin. The love for his sister filled him with a righteous courage that was ready to take on someone twice his size! Read More...


  • God's Increase

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Jan 16th

    When you discover the joy of homeschooling your own children, God usually gives you a burden to teach other children about His love, too. Many homeschooling parents can be found teaching children other than their own in Sunday school, mid-week church youth groups, vacation Bible school, or backyard Bible clubs. Maximizing your efforts by first teaching a Bible lesson to your own children and then sharing it with others only makes sense. Like the young boy who brought the two small fish and five loaves of bread to Jesus (Matthew 14:19), God is able to take the lesson you prepared for your family and use it to bless many more children as well. Read More...


  • Daily Walks

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Jan 15th

    Taking a walk after supper became a guarded ritual for our homeschooling family. Each night, the entire family walked together down our country road to a creek a quarter mile away. Since our youngest daughter wasn't capable of such a long hike, we improvised and included her in this family time by pulling her along in our little red wagon. As we walked, we talked about whatever came to mind and observed the wonders of God's creation in nature. We never knew where the conversation was headed or what discoveries we would see along the way. We simply enjoyed the exercise and looked forward to this unhurried time of being together as a family. Read More...


  • That Little Voice

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Jan 14th

    My normally outgoing son had been acting sheepish for two days. He had been avoiding me as much as you can in a homeschooling family, and he was definitely dealing with something. I could see the Holy Spirit working on his conscience, so I prayed my usual "sick 'em" prayers — you know, asking God to work on your child's heart until he turns back to Him in repentance. I wondered how long my son would struggle and if he would hide, ignore, or confess his problem. I didn't have to wait long. The very next day, the Holy Spirit's conviction weighed so heavily that he couldn't take the stress any longer. Read More...


  • Balancing Acts

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Jan 13th

    I'm sure that if others had peeked through my windows during my first years of homeschooling, they would have laughed at my antics. Many days, I felt like the circus performer who balances the spinning plates on top of a pole as I attempted to balance the needs of each person in my family. On any given day, I tried to spin my husband's plate with affection and undivided attention as he came through the doorway after work. I also worked hard to spin my creative son's plate with assistance in science experiments and projects that held his interest. I knew I needed to stop the wobbling of my oldest daughter's plate and run to the kitchen to help her as she learned how to cook. Finally, to top it all off, there were always toddlers fussing and needing their plates spun with a clean diaper and companionship for playtime. I knew that at some point I was going to run out of energy trying to keep each of their plates turning and wondered, "Who's going to spin my plate to keep this whole homeschool act going?" Read More...


  • Spicy Motivation

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Jan 12th

    Developing strategies for motivating your homeschooled child is like being a good cook with the right spices. The basic salt and pepper seasonings of affirmation and discipline need to be added to every homeschooling day, but ingenuity and divine inspiration are required when motivating your child to learn challenging subjects. Although some homeschooling families may disagree, I never felt guilty about motivating my children with the special spices of a well-deserved gift or a day off from school when completing a difficult assignment or lengthy unit study. Read More...


  • Dead Pencils

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Jan 11th

    My children hated pencils without erasers. Being a thrifty homeschool parent, however, I couldn't understand the thought of throwing away perfectly good pencils just because they didn't have an eraser. Purposely, I left these "partial performance pencils" in the supply cabinet; however, each morning when we started to homeschool, I would hear my children rummaging through the pencil can until they found a pencil with at least part of an eraser. Even though I bought new replacement erasers to put on the ends, nothing changed. The substitute erasers would crack or fall off within a few days, and unfortunately, I had to admit my children were right. There was simply no use for a pencil that couldn't write and erase. Read More...


  • The Bigger Picture

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Jan 10th

    The year was 1981, and for two weeks I had been struggling with an important writing assignment. Enrolling my children into a homeschool satellite program to escape truancy charges from the public school was dependent on this statement of homeschooling faith. Although I was frustrated with how much time and effort preparing this statement required, this document became my doctrinal guideline for homeschooling for the next 25 years. Frequently, I referred back to my God-given declarations contained in its pages and reminded myself why we were teaching our children at home. Read More...


  • One Day at a Time

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Jan 9th

    The best advice I received when I first started homeschooling was, "Take one day at a time!" These words were easy to say, but they were very hard to do. Borrowing tomorrow's trouble is a learned family trait, and many times I had to come before the Lord in repentance. Many people like to think they are organized and prepared for the unknowns in life, but homeschooling four children has a way of changing that mindset. Each day I needed to erase the failures of yesterday and realize that God was providing His strength and creativity one day at a time. Read More...


  • Disciplines

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Jan 8th

    Mopping the kitchen floor and washing dishes have always been my two least favorite jobs. Because of the obvious health hazard and the fact we needed to reuse them, I daily set my mind to rid the kitchen counters of the accumulated piles of dishes. However, procrastination would set in when the time came to mop the kitchen floor, especially during the snowy days of winter. I justified my laziness with the demands of homeschooling and counteracted with vacuuming daily and passing the "take your shoes off at the door" law. Unfortunately, even this new rule failed to eliminate the need for a daily or even semi-daily mopping of footprints and sticky patches from spilled food. If the teaching role had been reversed and my young children had graded me on this task, I definitely would have received an "F." Read More...


  • A Mother's Fury

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Jan 7th

    If you want to see a homeschooling mother riled, just let someone ridicule her child for being homeschooled. Between being protective and having a firm belief in the value of homeschooling, even the most loving and gentle of us feel the hair rising on our backs when our children are mocked. As a homeschooling mom, I also found myself saying, "Let people criticize and attack me for homeschooling all they want, but don't mess with my children!" Read More...


  • Homeschool Bed and Breakfast

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Jan 6th

    One of my greatest pleasures as a homeschooling mother was giving my children a hot breakfast with a warm "good morning" each day. My sense of nurturing was satisfied as I watched sleepy-eyed yawns turn into energetic smiles. Cornbread, pancakes, waffles, omelets, French toast, apple muffins, and the like provided the necessary brain power for them to learn their homeschooling lessons. However, just as important as the nourishing food was the encouragement and love expressed when the food was served with a hug and a kiss. Read More...


  • Prove It!

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Jan 5th

    Finding all the necessary documentation for my daughter's admission to college was a nightmare. Not only did we need two forms of identification, proof of health insurance, long-lost medical immunization records, and GED and ACT scores, but now we also needed an official high school transcript. Thankfully, I had saved her grades during the past four years and had prepared a transcript in the event we needed it. Sorting through my files on the computer to find the transcript, I shook my head and thought, "Why do I still need to prove my daughter's high school grades when she received such great ACT scores?" Read More...


  • Spiderman

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Jan 4th

    We were expecting company one night for supper and were a long way from getting a meal prepared. In fact, I hadn't even bought the groceries yet. I decided a quick trip to the grocery store was necessary during our afternoon homeschool break to save myself from being unprepared for our evening guests. Read More...


  • The Dangers of Disrespect

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Jan 3rd

    Disrespectful actions of children, no matter their age, are abhorred by God, and there's no place that's worse to see the disrespectful actions of children than in a homeschooling family. This serious offense robs parents of their authority to teach and destroys the family unit. Repeatedly, God warns children to honor their parents with loving hearts of obedience (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:2). Mouthy and sarcastic children who demean or belittle their parents' leadership and decision making are clearly on a path to destruction. Read More...


  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Jan 2nd

    I stood looking at the photographs pasted on the outside edge of my daughter's bedroom mirror. What had started as a few pictures of a look-alike movie star had now turned into a collage of movie-star photographs that left only one small space for her reflection in the middle of the mirror. I sighed as my heart cringed. Read More...


  • The Passion of Homeschooling

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Jan 1st

    What makes people invest 20 years or more of their lives to homeschool their children? Ask homeschooling parents anywhere, and they'll tell you that it's for the joy of seeing their children learn. Watching your child discover God's creation creates a passion that transcends any cheap shot from uninformed critics. Daily, you have the opportunity to discover, play, and learn what God has planned for your family. You share love, devotion, loyalty, and faithfulness as you work toward educational goals and a deeper faith in Christ. Perhaps the question should be, who wouldn't want to experience a life homeschooling their children? Read More...