Daily Focus - March 2014

  • Farmer Boy

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Mar 31st

    I think every parent secretly hopes that his children will share his passions. My passion was gardening, but each year gardens came and went with only a limited interest from my older children. Yes, they enjoyed the flowers and the fresh vegetables, but I never saw that "look" in their eyes when they surveyed a freshly tilled patch of ground. Years went by before God surprised me with my youngest son's interest. When he was old enough to start helping, I saw that far-off look that sees a future garden flourishing and yielding its fruit. I saw the excitement that said, "Let's try a new variety this year," or "Can we till up another patch of dirt to plant more?" For the next several years, my son and I happily pursued our green thumbs together. Read More...


  • The Deepest Need

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Mar 30th

    If someone gave you a blank piece of paper and said, "Write down your greatest needs as a homeschooling parent," what would you write? Would you write a few short sentences, or would you fill the entire page with a huge list of items? As unique as each homeschooling parent's needs may be, if you truly look inside your heart, chances are you'll discover your deepest homeschooling needs are love, significance, and acceptance. These needs aren't easily met, however, since the world considers homeschoolers different and shies away in rejection. Even your own family can fail to give you the encouraging and positive feedback necessary in homeschooling. So, where do you go to fill your emotional void? Read More...


  • Whom Do You Believe In?

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Mar 29th

    When people attain a measure of success in the public spotlight, what words do you normally hear them say when they are interviewed? That person usually says, "Because my ______________(fill in the blank — grandmother, mother, father, sister, friend, etc.) believed in me, I was able to accomplish what I've done." Amazingly, one person's faith in another person's ability inspires great achievement. Read More...


  • Unhealthy Competition

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Mar 28th

    I never encouraged competition between my four children while homeschooling, but it happened anyway. In fact, I only wanted my children to give their best each day and suggested forgetting grades altogether. However, their need to rate themselves against each other and other children their age dictated a request for a report card. Their human need to know where they were in the scheme of things filtered its way into their mindset and manifested itself during schoolwork. They simply had to know if they were smarter or better in a particular subject than their siblings or someone else. Read More...


  • Counting the Cost

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Mar 27th

    Sometimes learning a new skill and information requires a painstaking effort. Such was the case when my five-year-old son saw the new phonics chart hanging on the schoolroom wall. Looking at all the phonics rules he had to learn and memorize, my son looked at me with wide eyes and said, "Mommy, there are too many. Can't we skip some and just do the first ones?" Read More...


  • Daffodil Days

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Mar 26th

    Every year the daffodils were the first to push their green leaves through winter's cold earth in our flower bed. My daughter and I both looked forward to their annual spring arrival after homeschooling all winter. Not only were we blessed as the army of bright yellow blossoms began to form, but we also anticipated the joy of sharing their beauty with others. Short on finances, giving away our daffodils was one simple, but welcomed way that our homeschooling family could bring hope and love to family and friends. Our motivation to keep them fertilized and free of weeds came from the promise of future smiles we would see from those who would receive a bountiful bouquet. Read More...


  • Litter Bugs

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Mar 25th

    Every spring after the snow thawed in the ditches near our home, the ugliness of winter's past sins would be revealed. An endless disarray of empty glass liquor bottles and aluminum beer cans lined both sides of our country road for more than a mile. Looking at the mess, my young son shook his head in disgust. "Mom," he said. "Why do they have to throw their garbage in our ditch?" Read More...


  • Precept upon Precept

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Mar 24th

    I'm not sure what I expected from my children when we first started homeschooling. I guess I thought they would be accomplished mathematicians and readers by the time they were in second grade. As we continued to homeschool each year, however, I realized that children grow intellectually the same way they grow physically — a little bit at a time. Even though I felt like we weren't accomplishing much each day, every new phonics rule, spelling word, grammar rule, or math fact was actually building upon itself and laying a foundation that would lead to their educational success. Read More...


  • Parent and Teacher

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Mar 23rd

    Like most homeschoolers, the first few years were a struggle as I taught my children at home. The initial problems were not from a lack of quality curriculum, lesson planning, or teaching methods. Rather, the problems that tempted me to quit came from poor parenting skills. My children had the upper hand. I was bombarded with laziness, silliness, selfishness, and uncooperative spirits, and unfortunately, there was no super nanny to call to set things right. I needed to enforce the rules, so my children could learn to the best of their abilities. Boundaries needed to be set with a firm, but loving hand of correction. When I finally realized that parenting and teaching were synonymous, our homeschooling changed for the better. Read More...


  • Giant of Despair

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Mar 22nd

    I had no idea homeschooling would involve the spiritual battles I faced. Daily, I was challenged to maintain a godly attitude under the pressures of teaching and maintaining a home. Foolishly, I thought I could stay ahead of Satan's discouraging attacks with a few Scripture verses and my own strength. After a particularly difficult homeschooling day, I finally reached an emotional, rock-bottom experience. Tired and drained, I decided tomorrow was the day to give up teaching my four children. Going to bed early that night, I had resolved to call the school district in the morning to enroll my children. Read More...


  • Put Off Until Tomorrow

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Mar 21st

    Prioritizing my workload as a homeschooling parent was difficult because everything seemed urgent. The baby needed to be bathed and fed, the clothes needed to be washed, the meals needed to be kept on schedule, and daily school lessons needed to be completed. Too many days I felt like Peter robbing Paul as I juggled each of these activities. Anything that could be put off until tomorrow usually was, including grading papers, quizzes, and tests. Read More...


  • Blinding Problems

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Mar 20th

    We should have never started on our three-hour trip home after attending my oldest daughter's college graduation. The farther we traveled, the lower the visibility became from the blinding snow. Eventually, we couldn't see the road at all. Since turning back was just as far as traveling to the next town, we continued down the road. The close homeschooling relationship between my husband and son was soon to be tested. Sticking his head out the passenger window to see the white line on the road's edge, my son started giving directions to my husband and said, "Move a little left" or "Move a little right." For the next hour, my husband put his total faith in my son's navigation and literally drove blind in the raging blizzard. Read More...


  • Corporate Worship

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Mar 19th

    For several months I had noticed my teenage son's reluctance to go to church. Thinking we would leave him behind, he was always the last one to wake up on Sunday morning and painstakingly took his time getting ready. After he had caused the entire family to be late for church several Sundays in a row, I knew I needed to speak with him about his actions. The next day during our homeschool devotions, we discussed the topic of worship, and my son blurted out, "I don't need to go to church to worship God. I can worship Him at home just as well as at church!" Read More...


  • Lessons from a Goose

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Mar 18th

    I was on my daily walk and trying to organize my thoughts for a long homeschooling day. I stopped to observe the sunrise in the spring sky and noticed a large flock of geese heading north. Captivated by the sight, I laid down on the ground to watch their movements. Watching them fly in their traditional V shape, I observed the lead goose as he dropped back to find a new spot in the formation. The goose that had been directly behind him assumed the lead, and the entire group continued flying. Twice more, I saw the same process take place before the flock was completely out of sight. Read More...


  • School Spirit

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Mar 17th

    We never had a mascot for our homeschool, and my children never knew the excitement of school pep rallies. However, what we lacked in school spirit for team sports was made up by the Holy Spirit in Christian ministry. As we reached out to others, the presence and power of the Lord filled us to accomplish His will. Being used by the Lord and seeing His mighty power displayed was much more exciting than any football, baseball, or basketball game. Read More...


  • Pity Parties

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Mar 16th

    Self-pity is a common temptation faced by many homeschooling parents. After all, we have such a heavy burden to bear, right? If the daily duties of homeschooling are not enough, we also face ridicule and a lack of appreciation for the hard work of teaching our children. Our martyr syndrome assumes we're the only ones who really care about our children's education. Foolishly we say, "No one else sacrifices or suffers for what they believe like we do." Sadly, we actually believe these lies from Satan and sink into homeschooling despair because of them. Read More...


  • By Hand

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Mar 15th

    When my four children reached long division in their math curriculum, several weeks of resistance and conflict resulted during our homeschooling days. The painstaking process seemed unending and laborious to my high-tech children. "Mom, why do we have to do this by hand?" they cried. "Why can't we just figure this out on the calculator?" Taking the time and effort to show their work on every quiz and test in division was even more agonizing. To them, the quick and easy method of using the calculator's brain instead of their own seemed the best answer to solving math computations. Read More...


  • Lessons in the Garden

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Mar 14th

    Do you realize how many homeschooling lessons can be learned from gardening? From biology to Bible, gardening provided our family more opportunities to learn truths than any other activity. Such was the case the year my son prepared to win the grand champion purple ribbon at the county fair with his homegrown vegetables. Read More...


  • The Right Answer

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Mar 13th

    I learned an important homeschooling secret after many years of teaching — it's more important to ask the right questions than it is to give the right answers. Too many times I piled tons of information on my children that was neither of interest or necessary. My "be prepared" teaching philosophy, which attempted to include every detail on a subject, was burning out my children's love of learning. Clearly, one carefully worded question sparked my children's interest far more than providing all the answers. Read More...


  • Unfair Labels

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Mar 12th

    What labels have been placed on your children because they homeschool? During our years of homeschooling, my children faced innuendos that ranged from mental retardation to religious fanatic. Today, the media still portrays homeschoolers as naive, unfashionably dressed nerds. Even though studies prove the contrary, public educators also insist that homeschoolers are deprived of proper socialization. Why does the word "homeschooling" bring out such nastiness in people? Read More...


  • Lost

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Mar 11th

    The day had started expectantly for our family as we left on a field trip to Denver, Colorado. My children were looking forward to visiting the planetarium and seeing artifacts and rocks on display at the museum of natural history. Wonderfully, the entire day had lived up to our hopeful expectations, and only one stop remained before beginning our long drive back home. With a time limit of one hour or less, my husband dropped us off at the Christian bookstore. Read More...


  • Shaping the World

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Mar 10th

    Did you wake up this morning thinking, "Wow, what I do during our homeschooling today could shape the world"? Probably not, but that doesn't negate the fact that every homeschooling decision you make influences your child. Homeschooling parents can easily forget the important, long-term effect of their teaching and the potential it has to shape the world. Like a hybrid seed, God will someday use the academics you teach, the beliefs you instill, and the character you nurture in your child to change the world. Hundreds, if not thousands, of lives will feel the impact of your child's godly actions due to your faithfulness in homeschooling. Yes, what you do today as a homeschooling parent has a far-reaching effect and really does make a difference now and for eternity! Read More...


  • Walking It Out

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Mar 9th

    Walking saved my life as a homeschooling parent. Each morning before my spouse left for work, I spent one hour rejuvenating with prayer and exercise. As I walked, I listened to inspiring music, and God spoke to my heart with encouragement for the day. Negativity and discouragement from yesterday's problems were pounded out with each footstep, and the fresh air and beauty of God's sunrise were taken in with each stride to uplift my weary spirit. However, whenever I allowed laziness or other distractions to rob this morning routine, my attitude and our homeschooling day suffered greatly. My daily walk with God became my refuge and the most important time of the day. Read More...


  • Totally Discouraged

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Mar 8th

    Homeschooling can bring out the worst and best in you. As I sat on the kitchen floor crying, I knew that today was one of the worst. I had put the children to bed early, and my husband was working late. I was hoping a good cry would relieve my stress from the week of teaching, responsibilities, and housework. My inabilities to be supermom seemed immensely larger than the homeschooling blessings, and I felt like I was constantly disappointing my husband, my children, my extended family, and myself. Failure waved its ugly banner over me, and I was tempted to cut my losses and give up entirely. God seemed far away, and I felt alone. Read More...


  • Homeschool Messes

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, Mar 7th

    Do you ever feel like you pick up messes all day? As a homeschooling parent, I quickly learned not to wait until the end of the day to clean the house. Walking through each room throughout the day, I continually organized and put a few things away as my children were studying. If I didn't, I knew I wouldn't have enough energy left to tackle the mountains of laundry, dishes, and clutter before bed. Read More...


  • What Are You Waiting For?

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, Mar 6th

    My children were looking forward to their grandparents' visit one weekend. They had worked hard homeschooling all week, and by Friday noon, they had completed all of their assignments. As I started to prepare supper for my parents' arrival, I decided to make good use of time and straighten up the living room, too. To my surprise, I found my youngest daughter sitting on the couch looking out the window. Read More...


  • Dinner Disciplines

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, Mar 5th

    The life of a homeschooling parent requires discipline. Unfortunately, two areas that were totally undisciplined in my life were cleaning and organizing my home. At the end of each homeschooling week, my house was the perfect reflection of that lack of discipline. Read More...


  • Ask and You Will Receive

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, Mar 4th

    What would you ask for as a homeschooling parent if you could have anything you wanted? Most homeschoolers might ask for more curriculum, a maid, or even unlimited hours to sleep. As wonderful as receiving each of these requests might be, the great responsibility we have in teaching our children should move us to ask for something of far greater value — wisdom. After all, who of us can ever teach and lead our children with only our limited understanding? Read More...


  • Nothing Sacred

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, Mar 3rd

    The wear and tear on our house was one thing I never considered when we first began to homeschool. Because we lived at home 24 hours a day, everything from the plumbing to the carpet took an extra beating. My husband regularly came home from work and found a frustrated wife with a request to fix another worn out or broken "whatever" in our house. After several years of homeschooling, we both came to the realization that our dream for a showcase house was simply not going to happen. Read More...


  • Flexible Forgiveness

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, Mar 2nd

    I was always thankful as a homeschooling parent that God designed children to be flexible. Every day I saw my children survive falls and painful bruises that would have made me ache for days. Their ability to bounce back physically from rough and tumble wrestling matches and foolish dare-devil antics was amazing. Even more amazing, however, was the way my children bounced back from emotional hurts. When the stress of the homeschooling day got to me, I repeatedly found myself seeking their forgiveness for my unloving words and impatient actions. Each time my children would quickly say, "That's OK, I understand," and everything would be forgotten. Humbled by their gracious words, I knew my forgiveness wouldn't have come so easily if someone had treated me the same way. Read More...


  • Smooth as Honey

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, Mar 1st

    I heard voices quietly talking in my daughters' bedroom as I put the laundry away in the hall closet. My oldest daughter was coercing her younger sister into trading something with her. Because I couldn't see what was going on, I assumed they were trading old stuffed animals or some other inexpensive toy. As I walked past the door to their room, however, I saw my younger daughter replacing her piggy bank on the shelf. Questioning the transaction, I went on with my work and waited until my older daughter left the room. When my younger daughter was alone, I quietly asked, "What did you just trade with your sister?" Read More...