Daily Focus - May 2013

  • Foolish Dreams

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, May 31st

    As much as I loved teaching my four children, I longed for certain desires while we homeschooled. Selfishly, I looked forward to uninterrupted nights of sleep, a neat house that stayed clean longer than five minutes, and a noise level in my home that was below 50 decibels. Now, 25 years later, the very things that were so important to me are mine in abundance. However, the empty nights seem long and uninteresting, the house sits empty all day and has no reason to be clean, and the quiet is agonizingly loud when I'm home alone. My foolish dreams of yesterday have come true, and I chastise myself for trading productive moments with my family for grumbling and complaining. Read More...


  • Over My Head

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, May 30th

    As I watched my daughter practice the piano, I knew I had made another mistake as a homeschooling parent. Assuming my limited experience with a few childhood piano lessons was enough to guide me, I began to teach my daughter how to play. However, the more we continued in my daughter's new interest, the more I realized my inadequacies as a proper piano instructor. Motivated by pride and a lack of finances to hire a qualified teacher, I continued teaching until my young daughter stopped playing and asked, "Mom, do you really know what I'm supposed to be doing?" Read More...


  • Broken Walls

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, May 29th

    I'm not sure how the bad feelings began between my oldest and youngest child. Considering the fact they were both strong-willed, I suppose a conflict was inevitable. Whenever I needed my daughter's help in watching her brothers and sister, she was determined to let her little brother know she was in charge. My young son, however, had other ideas. Resenting his sister's bulldog methods of control, he tested her authority every chance he got, and homeschooling became difficult since I could never trust either of them together alone for any length of time. One day I finally asked my daughter, "Why don't you just talk nicely to your brother? Things get done so much easier when you speak with honey instead of vinegar." Read More...


  • Just Start!

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, May 28th

    My son was sitting at the kitchen table, staring out the window with workbooks and other schoolwork scattered around him in a semi-circle two inches deep. I had given him multiple assignments for that week, and I also knew he had several incomplete papers from last week. In addition, he needed to study for upcoming quizzes and tests. As I reminded him of everything that was due by Friday, I could see despair shutting down his mind. As he sat there looking forlorn, I gave him a hug and said, "Is there something I can help you with to get started?" Read More...


  • Memorial Day Memories

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, May 27th

    Although Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) is a day for specifically remembering veterans who have died in our nation's service, our homeschool family observed this holiday like many other families. Visiting the gravesites of loved ones, my children decorated their headstones with a tribute of flowers. In many cases, my young children never knew the family members, and I would answer countless questions about their lives. I never tired of telling them about uncles, aunts, and great-grandparents and the special significance of their lives. Read More...


  • Nothing New

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, May 26th

    As I homeschooled my children, I was surprised to find myself reliving many of the same frustrations I experienced as a young student. One day, I watched as my daughter struggled to solve a story problem in algebra. As she tried to identify the unknown variables in the problem, she cried, "Mom, I just don't get this!" Read More...


  • Influences for Good

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, May 25th

    The most important influence on your homeschooled child is the environment in which he grows. When parents demonstrate a healthy relationship between each other and the Lord, a child's perspective about himself and his world is influenced for good. Parents who fear the Lord and live according to His Word have a far greater impact on homeschooling's success than parents who worry about having the best curriculum or the latest computer. Giving your child a Christian education, therefore, requires a homeschooling parent to be completely in line with God's will. Read More...


  • Symbols of the Heart

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, May 24th

    Are there items in your house that have special meaning to your homeschooling family? Surprisingly, the object my adult children remember the most from our homeschooling days was our kitchen table. It was just an old table beat up with scratches and scars, but it represented the heart of our family. As wide as it was long, this sturdy old table was big enough for everyone's schoolwork and craft projects. For 20 years, it supported the life and love of our homeschooling family as it brought us together to play, eat, and learn. Read More...


  • Forgiving Failure

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, May 23rd

    If you've ever felt guilty about past homeschooling failures, you're not alone. Many parents have known setbacks with over-scheduling, under-planning, and teaching unfamiliar courses. However, the worst failures experienced as homeschooling parents aren't related to academics or schedules. Our worst failures come when we fail to show the love of Christ. Losing our patience and becoming irritable with our children, we speak harshly and suffer regret and remorse for foolish words and actions. Afterwards, even though we confess our sin, we fail to accept God's forgiveness and torture ourselves with our mistakes until we quit homeschooling altogether. Read More...


  • Double-minded Homeschooling

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, May 22nd

    How many times have you doubted your decision to homeschool — one, two, ten, more? I lost count on the number of times I failed to trust in God's provision and care. As a Christian parent, I knew we would never succeed if I continually allowed my emotions to be tossed around each time something went wrong. Doubt may be a natural human response, but either God had shown me to homeschool or He hadn't. Instead of looking at the waves of adversity, God asked me, "Will you walk by faith and trust in My leading?" Read More...


  • Unseen Sacrifices

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, May 21st

    Homeschooling is so exciting because it provides spontaneous opportunities to learn. Such was the case the day my son worked on his Bible assignment. As he looked up Scripture passages on prayer, he noticed "The Praying Hands" plaque hanging on our wall and asked, "Whose hands are those?" Read More...


  • Why I Love Homeschooling

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, May 20th

    Why do I love homeschooling? Let me count the ways: Read More...


  • Birthday Surprises

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, May 19th

    My birthday present came early the year I turned 25. The afternoon before my birthday, God gave me the gift of a new baby boy. Like all pregnancies that go past their due date, I worried about the new life inside me. However, when my son was finally born, there was no doubt he was healthy and strong. With a full head of red hair, a ruddy appearance, and weighing in at 9 pounds and 15 ounces, my bouncing baby boy looked like a tough outdoorsman as he greeted me with a smile. Read More...


  • Spring Cleaning

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, May 18th

    Spring was here, and my children were wrapping up their schoolwork for the year one subject at a time. With fewer hours spent homeschooling, new projects were needed to direct my children's energy elsewhere. Since we had several dilapidated buildings on our farm that were shedding siding, shingles, nails, and small pieces of glass, I decided to "hire" my children to clean the mess. Giving them each a small bucket, I informed them that they could receive one cent for every nail and piece of glass they collected. Excited to earn their own money, they all agreed to do this new job. Read More...


  • When God Says No

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, May 17th

    Our family was considered poor while we homeschooled. Living on one income left us with little money, and trips to the grocery store were made only for milk, flour, eggs, and other staples. We baked our own bread and supplemented our food budget with a bountiful garden. Thankfully, we always had something to eat, and my children never went to bed hungry. However, there were times during our homeschooling when I didn't understand why God allowed our financial situation. I longed for the convenience of prepackaged foods and thought, "It's not fair. Other homeschooling families don't have to cook from scratch, and they have so much more time for field trips and fun days." Read More...


  • A Walk in the Park

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, May 16th

    Are you too busy completing your curriculum to let your homeschooler play? During my first years of homeschooling, I foolishly lived under the pressure of completing our workbooks. I traded my children's playtime for finishing every problem and watched as they became more frustrated with this routine. Realizing something was wrong, I thought, "Why aren't they enjoying school anymore?" The next day as I struggled to finish math with my son, I saw we were getting nowhere. Finally, I stopped and said, "Why don't we just go for a walk and play in the park this afternoon?" Read More...


  • Upward Thoughts

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, May 15th

    Homeschooling families have incredible opportunities to train their children in righteousness. Without public mandates restricting our actions, we can enjoy daily devotions, prayer, and the Bible's wonderful truths. Just as exciting is the unlimited moments we have to direct our child's thoughts toward God. Throughout the entire school day, biblical applications can be interjected as they apply to our Christian curriculum or the problems of daily living. Growing in the Lord, our children's faith becomes vibrant and powerful as they learn to "think on these things" (Philippians 4:8b). Read More...


  • You Want It When?

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, May 14th

    One reason parents choose to homeschool is the advantage children have in learning at their own pace. However, even homeschoolers must learn how to meet a deadline. Balancing these two approaches to learning required creativity as I prepared my lesson plans. Since I knew deadlines would teach my children to manage workloads, I assigned specific projects and assignments to complement their curriculum. Whether they expounded on a science concept by researching a hypothesis or wrote a lengthy paper for a composition, they learned to gather the information and materials necessary to finish their assignment by a fixed date. Years later, they thanked me as they saw the importance of meeting deadlines in the workplace. Read More...


  • Quiet Testimonies

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, May 13th

    Homeschoolers have different ways of promoting the joys of homeschooling. Some share homeschooling's rewards on a grand scale, while others promote them by a quiet, willing testimony. When asked why we homeschooled, I offered explanations that included our belief in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and the example of our everyday homeschooling experience. Those people truly interested would respond, "Boy, that's great! I wish I was able to do that!" Even my children's friends responded to a quiet testimony in a positive way. After coming over to play, they would leave saying, "I wish my parents would homeschool me!" The benefits of homeschooling were easily revealed as they heard and saw homeschooling for what it was — a better way to learn. Read More...


  • Mother's Day Memories

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, May 12th

    Mother's Day was always special for me as a homeschooling mom. Each year, my children went the extra mile and demonstrated their love with thoughtful homemade cards and gifts. One Mother's Day, however, stands above the rest in my memory. That year, a well-known restaurant chain in our town sponsored a Mother's Day poetry contest for all the young writers in the community. The contestants were required to submit a short poem sharing what their mother meant to them. After seeing the contest and prizes listed in the paper, my 12-year-old daughter decided to enter and submit her poem. Read More...


  • Nothing More to Give

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, May 11th

    Do you ever wake up and feel like you have nothing left to give as a homeschooling parent? During one quiet morning as I looked out the kitchen window, I felt exhausted physically, financially, and emotionally. I just wanted my house to be clean, but as I looked around the house, each task I had accomplished seemed to have been replaced by ten others. Laundry, dishes, and dirt seemed to be everywhere. Added to this overwhelming burden was a mountain of schoolwork waiting to be graded and lessons needing to be planned. I felt depleted to the point of despair and prayed, "Lord, I'm so tired. Will I ever finish all this work?" Read More...


  • The Consequences of Complacency

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, May 10th

    Complacency was creeping into our homeschooling, and my son's attitude toward his math was growing more apathetic. Realizing he would never finish his entire curriculum by the end of the school year, he decided to face the problem with an "I don't care" outlook. Walking past his room one day I heard him say, "I'll be glad when school's done next week. Then, I won't have to think about geometry anymore." Read More...


  • Asparagus Hunts

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, May 9th

    Hunting the roadside ditches for asparagus was a favorite springtime activity for our homeschooling family. Every year, my oldest son was the first to ask, "When are we going to go looking for asparagus?" He loved eating this tasty vegetable. As if hunting for a treasure, he would map out our favorite wild asparagus locations on the county atlas. Harvesting asparagus appealed to his hunter/gatherer spirit that loved finding each spear hidden within the ditch grasses. Watching him walk down the ditch with paper bag in hand, I said, "I'm not sure which you enjoy more, eating asparagus or hunting for it." Read More...


  • Food for the Ages

    Posted in Daily Focus on Tuesday, May 7th

    Since home cooking was quickly becoming a lost art, food preparation was an important part of our homeschooling. Although gourmet delights were appreciated, what our family enjoyed eating most were old-fashioned meals prepared with organic, farm-fresh meats, vegetables, and grains. Recipes for this type of cooking, however, weren't found in commercial cookbooks. Rather, these recipes came from the godly women who shared their culinary skills in the church cookbook. Gleaning from their expertise, we baked cakes, breads, and pies from scratch and learned the resourcefulness of using our garden's bounty for casseroles, soups, and salads. Read More...


  • Second Starts

    Posted in Daily Focus on Monday, May 6th

    Homeschooling was even harder during the 1980s than it is today. Starting out strong, I was determined to be the best homeschooling parent, but that was before I faced opposition. Some days, my relatives attacked with hurtful comments highlighting my inability to teach. Other days, public school officials sent threatening notes of truancy. Daily, strangers challenged me with infamous questions like, "Why aren't your kids in school?" Without the benefit of experienced homeschoolers and organizations to help me through these confrontations, I vacillated in my homeschooling commitment. Succumbing to the pressure and ignoring God's call, I stopped teaching my children and said, "God, I can't do this. This is too hard!" Read More...


  • Who Gets the Credit?

    Posted in Daily Focus on Sunday, May 5th

    Feeling pride in my son's accomplishment of graduating summa cum laude from a state university wasn't difficult. As a homeschooling parent, watching my son receive his degree in anthropology was the culmination of years of schooling. No parents could have been prouder, and we rejoiced in our son's outstanding achievement. The years of homeschooling had been worth the sacrifice, and my son's award proved again that a child could be successfully educated at home. Read More...


  • Unlimited Power

    Posted in Daily Focus on Saturday, May 4th

    Even with all the technology available in the world, the most powerful tool we have as Christians is prayer. Amazing, isn't it? When we pray, God's power strengthens us. Teaching our children how to access this source of strength is paramount, for no other aspect of Christian living is as important as knowing how to talk and listen to God. However, some homeschool lessons are better caught than taught, and such is the case with prayer. The best curriculum for teaching prayer is simply praying out loud with your children and allowing them to see and hear you talk to God. Read More...


  • The Microscope

    Posted in Daily Focus on Friday, May 3rd

    My children weren't the only ones who learned character lessons during the course of our homeschooling. Daily, I came under the same instruction as my children, and I struggled to show patience, kindness, and love in my actions. One particular day of character building (or the lack of it) stands out clearly in my mind. I had just given my son an expensive hand-held microscope for his birthday. I envisioned him enjoying hours of inspecting bugs, plants, and rocks with this new educational toy, but my dreams were short-lived. As I walked into my son's room that afternoon, I found the microscope lying on his desk completely disassembled. Parts were everywhere, and before my son could offer any explanation, I immediately accused him of ruining the microscope. When my barrage of hurtful comments chastising him to be more responsible ended, he looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, Mom. I took it apart to use the light bulb in my science experiment. I was going to put it back together when I was done." Read More...


  • Healing a Nation

    Posted in Daily Focus on Thursday, May 2nd

    As a homeschooling parent, do you have a burden for your child's future as a United States citizen? As I watched the decay of morality in our nation during my short lifetime, my heart grieved for my children and what they would face during their adult years. Sin's influence has been accepted and legislated into laws that wreak havoc in families, businesses, and governments. Today, homeschoolers, as well as all Christians, have the privilege to unite during the National Day of Prayer. Together, we can proclaim our faith in God and the need for prayer to bring our country back to "one nation under God." Read More...


  • Kudos to You

    Posted in Daily Focus on Wednesday, May 1st

    Homeschooling is a challenge, a commitment, and a lifestyle of love and devotion. As a fellow homeschooling parent, my heart goes out to those who continue to faithfully teach their children at home. You are not alone in your efforts. I, along with thousands of homeschoolers who have run this race and reached the finish line, cheer you on each step. At times, homeschooling can be tiring and seem like a thankless job as you face hurdles of opposition, but those of us who have run the race know what you're doing is important. With great respect, we pray you'll keep going to the end to experience the wonderful blessings of helping your child rise to his gifting by God. Read More...