Repetition is My Friend {6 Lessons Learned in 13 Years of Homeschooling}

It's coming. It seems like we've barely turned the calendar on August, but you know these last days of summer go the fastest. Are you squeezing out every last drop? Planning last minute trips and letting the kids sleep in another day?

Or are you wrung and ready for the next season?

The busy started Monday for us. Football and volleyball, and today I'm hammering away at preparations for another school year - ordering books and picking dates and praying. Lots of feverish praying.

boy in creek


I started a list of some of the things I've learned in 13 years of homeschooling. I wanted to have one for every year, to keep it all "13 Things I've Learned in 13 Years", but I've found that for the most part I just keep learning the same things, over and over.

There are just some things God wants me to know really well, I guess.

Here's a partial list:

1. Consistency is better than green grass. Or, the owner of the Better Homes and Gardens tired. I've worn myself out looking at the newest and the best and the guaranteed-to-produce-a-well-rounded-genius. There will always be something else and something more, but the best results have come from consistent love, consistent discipline, consistent time, and consistent prayer. And sometimes that just means that I consistently start over, doing what I know is needful. 

2. The best curriculum is the one you'll use. This relates to #1. I've learned that if something is too teacher-intensive and requires me to spend an extra hour each week in planning and preparing, it will sit on the shelf until I find some ambitious mother-of-one or SuperMom to buy it from me. I need simple. Simplicity = Consistency.

3. Homeschool moms are o-pin-ion-ated. I'm a homeschool mom. I've learned to shut my mouth unless asked for my opinion, for the most part. I really learned this in the two years that we spent at a Classical charter school. We attended classes 3 days a month and the rest of our schooling happened at home, but because it was a charter school and therefore publicly funded, there were some who scratched me off their Homeschool Mom list. It was good. I learned that I, too, have judged the way others choose to teach their children.

4. You are you, and I am me. For many years, I stopped reading homeschooling blogs and magazines. I grew weary of trying to keep up with the Martha Stewarts of homeschooling and the comparison I always felt. I have begun reading a few again this past year, and I realize that I have gotten to a point where I can sift the information and ideas without feeling overwhelmed or less-than. I've learned that in homeschooling, as in life, there are people who can do more and handle more and commit to more than I can. And that's okay. I'll just leach their good ideas and benefit from their efforts.

5. It's okay to say no. We are tempted to create so many opportunities for our kids - homeschooled or not. Sign up for this and volunteer for that and be sure to apply for here, and don't forget to buy such-and-such so they can go to so-and-so and learn this-or-that. Just say no. Save your sanity and your children's childhood and all of your time.

6. Jesus is not a school subject. He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He doesn't fit in a box or a curriculum, and we don't check Him off a list. If we handle a secular book, we handle it with the mind of Christ. When we study our Bibles, we study to find Christ. There was never a curriculum that Jesus died for, so we handle everything outside the Bible as the word of men and hold it up to the light of Christ - Christian publisher or not.

Whether it's public, private, home or any other educational path we are blessed to choose in this country, may it be for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

What have you learned? Have any great ideas or nuggets of wisdom I could leach? Leave them in the comments and let's encourage all the weary mamas. 


India Chronicles, Part III

We all got on this bus together. Hindus, Animists, Muslims, Christians, and maybe even some non-believers if there is such a thing in India - all of us traveling together on the same bus to various destinations.

India passes by out our windows, every one of them down to bring in fresh air.

Father and son on bicycle

We had moaned a little when we learned that we'd be riding a bus with no AC for 13-ish hours.  After more than a week with no power and 100+ degree temperatures, we had kinda looked forward to some cool air. So when we slid our windows open and the bus began to roll, we were so relieved.

Pastor Steward had handed me a bag of chocolate cookies and bananas through the bus window before we pulled away. This wasn't going to be that bad, after all.

Because, you know, God-forbid that we should suffer.

I get a window seat and Tim is next to me, shielding me a little from the bumps and lack of personal space as passengers file on and off. Every single man that walks by gawks at us, and when your eyes meet their eyes there is no turning away. They just continue to stare.

So I face the window and snap pictures of the bicycles and vegetable stands and I watch as the sun sets, burning orange above the never-ending valley.

This place is beautiful and marred and rude and lovely, all at the same-sweaty-time.

The man in front of me rests his seat back and puts his hands above his head, on his head rest. It's so close to my face that I have to turn my head to avoid touching it.

The man behind us wants to talk to Tim. He asks too many questions and then laughs when Tim says he doesn't have a Facebook. Doesn't everyone have Facebook?

I think he's offended and he stops asking questions.

For awhile, there's a baby in front of Tim and she smiles as her mother dances her on her lap. She has shorn hair and sweaty skin and I take a sneaky picture with my phone. Only my flash is on, so it's not so sneaky.

Her mom glances back and then sets the baby down on her lap.

The man in front of me begins a conversation with Tim. Again, I feel like there are too many questions and when he flicks his hand for emphasis, I'm hard pressed for face-space.

He doesn't seem to notice.

He's coughing, and since he is reclined practically in my lap, when he turns his head he literally leans forward into Tim's lap and coughs. No hand over mouth, no attempt to shield anyone from the spray. He actually leans forward and coughs on my husband's legs.

I may have laughed.

But for the rest of his ride he is coughing and spitting out the window and I'm leaning in for cover. Too many wads of mucus have escaped one window, only to enter another, so I'm wary and awake.

I fell asleep sometime after he got off the bus.

I dream about social reform as well as spiritual life, about all the ways to make the air cleaner and the food more nutritious and the living easier for 1.2 billion Indian people. I get all idealistic, and then plummet to irritation and disgust at all the enemy has taken here, all the bondage and all the suffering.

Some things break my heart, and some things just plain irritate me.


I was thinking yesterday about Jesus, walking in to Jerusalem. I was thinking about money-changer's tables and cages of doves, about coins crashing all around, about pharisees and prostitutes and blind men and adulteresses. Dirty streets and sickly lungs and poor housing and curable diseases.

I was thinking about the crowds who wanted a king, not a Savior on a cross. They wanted some social reform and  political maneuvering, and they got upheaval in their souls instead.

Jesus didn't come to overthrow Rome and He didn't give the answers people wanted.  He didn't lead a march to freedom from foreign oppressors. He didn't come in the way people expected a Savior to come and He didn't stay and fight the way they had hoped their Messiah would.

The streets weren't cleaner and the diseases didn't stop. Evil men still persecuted the poor and oppressed the helpless. When He ascended, Rome was not even at the peak of her tyranny.

Sometimes, when I want everything to be better and nicer and cleaner and healthier, I remember suddenly that this is not supposed to be heaven-on-earth and God is not supposed to work according to my plans.

He has His ways.

And sometimes the evil is overcoming, but I read that I'm supposed to overcome evil with overcoming-good, a descriptive, adjective kind of overcoming. Like overwhelming.

That's how I hear it when I read it, that's what I hope we left behind, and that's how I picture it when I'm back home in my garden, when a plane ride takes me back to comfortable and everything is beautiful because my heart is thankful.

On the other side of the world and in my own home, evil always thinks it's overcoming. But this tidal wave of good, this overcoming and overwhelming and overachieving good, is mounting up. It's rising.


We all got on this bus together.

And everyone was beautiful.

The end.


Click to read:

India Chronicles, Part I

India Chronicles, Part II

India Chronicles, Part III

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On Blank Spaces

blank space
Sometimes there's that uncomfortable silence and you feel like you should insert something there, like everyone else is uncomfortable, too, and somebody should do something about it.
I think that silence and that discomfort are probably okay, though. Better to be silent than to insert some man-made thing in a place where God has ordained quiet. 
It felt like this blog was quiet for awhile, but is anything internet ever really quiet?
would like to post in a very scheduled-and-planned sort of way, like every Tuesday and Thursday, and I would really like to have my posts planned out weeks in advance. (I even have a handy little planning sheet from Kat at to help me do that.)
I think if I wrote more prescriptive posts it would be easier to plan, easier to be consistent, and easier to create content to share with you. Because we all need more content, right?
I'm not really comfortable writing a lot of "prescriptive posts", though. I tell people all day long what to do and how to do it and when it should be done, so I really don't feel like doing that here.
(You're welcome.)
I do occasionally share good ideas I've collected from others or things I've learned from trial-and-lots-of-error, and I share it as more of an acknowledgment of common struggles and mutual sanctification, rather than trying to be your mother. 
But sometimes I feel like there is nothing to write here and that stresses me a little, because there's no place on my schedule for "sporadic".
This flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type blogging is annoying but it's also discipline for me, in a good way. I'm challenged to pray my way through and also compelled to reveal that I don't have all the answers, don't have the prescription to solve every dilemma, don't even want every dilemma solved actually.
I'm reminded that there really is nothing new under the sun. All we can do as writers and readers and thinkers and lovers and pray-ers is to link arms and pull when someone's stuck, or push when someone's scared, and pray when we're all lost. Not because we are hopeless, but because we actually know that there is Hope and we just all need reminded of it in different ways and at different times.
You, the handful of friends and family who read my disjointed words, don't come here because you have some problem I can solve or because you need my wisdom to get through your day. So there's no pressure, really.
Except that words are weighty and eternal. And that's what keeps me on my toes and keeps me praying. It's what keeps me silent sometimes.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for every comment here and on Facebook and via email, because that is community and accountability. Thank you for bearing with my whining and inconsistencies.
And I know. I know  that none of us needs more information or more entertainment, more blog posts or more links to helpful information via the world wide web, so thank you for spending some precious minutes with me here.
I keep coming back to this thought, from Oswald Chambers: 

"When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait."

 So, we'll wait together and enjoy the blank space.