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Book Review: Back to Homeschool

Hey, all! I know I'm not around here these days, but I wanted to share a fabulous little book with all of you. I'm not an affiliate or anything, this is just a great little book and I wanted you to know about it. :)

A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting Misty Krasawski of Encouraging Beautiful Motherhood in person at a MomHeart conference after corresponding with her a bit by email. Misty holds a special place in my heart because she offered me some serious encouragement when I deeply needed it.

Just recently, I asked Misty if I could preview her new ebook that she had coming out--Back to Homeschool: 23 Days to Preparing Your Heart, Home, and Homeschool Calendar for Your Best Year Ever. Misty is a gifted writer and I knew it would be good. She's the mama of eight children, she's been homeschooling for a loooooong time, and like I said earlier, if she is anything, she is encouraging! That combination made for a great little book. Her new book is full of encouragement for the mom who is looking ahead to a new year of homeschooling. Whether you're a newbie or a veteran, this little gem is going to give you the boost you need.

I've been homeschooling for a couple of years now--long enough to know that homeschool planning encompasses so much more than buying curriculum or making lesson plans. Back to Homeschool will walk you through the process of stepping back and evaluating why you're doing what you're doing, your relationship with your kids and husband, the state of your home (how well can you homeschool--or learn--in disorder and dirt?), and the planning of some of those other details that can trip us up like, "What will we eat every day?" and "What do I do with the little ones?"

As I head into my own planning session over the summer, I'm glad to have this book at my side to guide me through some things I might have skipped over or never thought about otherwise. I'm ready for a year with a little more purpose and order!

Here's the other awesome thing: Misty runs something called Titus 2 University. It's something I've wanted to be part of in the past, but, frankly, couldn't afford at the time. If you buy Back to Homeschool for $4.99 and send her a copy of the receipt before 9pm on June 8th (take a screen shot and email it to her), you get a FREE membership to Titus 2 University (an $80 value)! That, folks, is an awesome deal! I already OWN a review copy, but I'm going to buy a copy for my Kindle just so I can get that membership! :)

Check it out here, but be sure to also check her post of the day because she's giving away cool stuff each day of the this week to celebrate the launch! The book is available in PDF directly from Misty's site, Kindle from Amazon, and Nook from Barnes and Noble.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


If ya wanna...


I miss blogging! And I've decided to take up my pen again on a much more informal basis. I'm writing more personally and casually at Little Bits. I've been reading some good things about how to blog well (read: without it taking over my life), and I'd like to honor God with my voice even if it's in a tiny way. Here's a post about three reasons I want to blog again.

I'd be honored if you'd like to follow me there.

My posts won't be flashy, completely polished, or even necessarily consistent. But it will be me sharing my heart--and if you'd like to come along, I'd be so happy to have you!

If you blog and you want to make your time really mean something, I recommend these resources:

E-book Blogger Behave by Laura Booz @ Ten Million Miles
Article Time for Blogging by Joy Forney @ Gracefull Mama
Series Social Media Behave @ Like a Warm Cup of Coffee by Laura Booz (This links to only one of the articles, but it happens to be my favorite.)
Finally, here's an e-book that I'd like to purchase soon and have heard rave reviews about: Simple Blogging by Rachel Meeks @ Small Notebook

I hope to see some of you at Little Bits!


"Tap, Tap"

Hey, is this thing on?


Well, hello blog world!

No, no that's not right.

Long time no see!

Ugh. No. That won't work either.

*Nervous coughing*

OK. Can you tell I'm a little rusty here?

It's late tonight and I have a rare occurrence. Everyone in my house is asleep except me. Wow, I know, huh? So, here I am, up poking around my dear old blog. Do you know that I read my own articles to inspire myself? And that I even get some good ideas from myself? I know. You have to be a very special case to do this.

I just wanted to pop in and say this: Obviously I'm not around here right now. Blog writing had to take a back seat to raising world changers for the time being. :) But I must say that every so often my fingers get itchy. I want to sit down and tap out my thoughts on this keyboard--stringing together words like beads. I miss writing.

Perhaps at some point I'll be able to pick this up again. Who knows? In the meantime, please feel free to poke through archives. There's some really good stuff in there--I should know, I just inspired myself all over again!

All in all, my message is still the same:

Managing a home and family is a beautiful, wonderful, demanding role. Give it your best!

You do it, and I'll keep seeking to do it, too. ♥


The Art and Science of Being on Time

The Art and Science of Being on Time
Image by le vent le cri

I've never been a person who was punctual--aside from being born on my due date. That's the last time in about thirty years that I arrived on time.

I believe it was my tenth birthday that my parents gave me "my very own alarm clock!" Like they were trying to make it all exciting about getting myself out of bed on time. This was no ordinary alarm clock. Oh, no. This alarm clock was special. Because in order to wake my ten year old self, you pretty much needed a fog horn. And that's what this alarm clock sounded like. A fog horn. And I still managed to sleep through it. (Much to my sisters' vexation.) I would have a dream that I was getting out of bed and turning it off. And then keep on sleeping. And then be late, again.

As I grew older, I was late for church. Babysitting appointments. Jobs. College classes. And so on.

Now, you add in the variables of a husband and small children and you've got a recipe that's bound to keep the tardiness going till the end of time.

Except. Except I learned that I didn't always have to be late. Apparently there isn't really a tardiness gene. I know. Can you believe it? I always though that, too. That I was just late, because that's the kind of person I am. Nope. Punctuality isn't a talent or a gene or a cute little skill to put on one's resume. It's simply a habit--a habit that anyone can develop.

Here's what I learned on my way to being punctual:

1. Stop stealing.
Most of us wouldn't go into the Walmart and put something into our purse without paying for it. *Gasp!* That's stealing! Well, when someone is waiting for you, and you show up late, you're stealing their time. Yup. And time is one thing a person can never, ever get back. So, it's disrespectful, rude and dishonoring to be late.

2. Learn time currency.
I'm convinced that those of us who are perpetually late lack a sense of time "intuition". For instance, I don't think we're really aware of time passing as much as those who might seem to be naturally punctual. I don't think we're aware of how much time it really takes to do something. We need to become time aware--or learn how to use time currency.

Get a stopwatch and start timing how long it really takes you to do certain things. How long does it really take you to get ready in the morning? To get your children dressed? To eat breakfast? You get the idea. Start wearing a watch. Try to look at it every once in a while so you know what time it is.

Don't play time "tricks". Someone in my house likes to play time tricks. The six foot tall dark haired man will remain nameless to protect his reputation. He sets his alarm clock fifteen minutes fast in an effort to help him be more timely. Whether or not that works for him is not the point. If you're like me and you lack a sense of time awareness, these "tricks" will probably backfire on you. You'll end up telling yourself, "Oh, I have fifteen more minutes, it's OK." And you'll still be late. I say set your watch to the correct time and learn to interact properly with real time.

3. Plan ahead.

This one should be a no-brainer. But I rarely, if ever, planned ahead. Now I know to look at my appointment book to see where I need to be on a certain day. I write down what I'll need to take, what time I need to be there, and what time I need to be in the car. That last factor was a key to helping me be on time. As a person unaware of time currency, somehow travel time was meaningless to me. Like somehow I'd magically be able to travel a twenty minute distance in five.

4. Build systems that work.
Systems are basically habits you build into your life to make things work more efficiently. As a naturally tardy person, getting to church on time--especially with little ones in tow--was the biggest challenge. So I developed a "get to church on time" system.

Every Saturday night, I gather everything that will need to go with us, and put it by the door--Bibles, diaper bags, purse, etc. I lay out clothes for me and for the boys. Sunday mornings I do things in a certain order and a certain way--every Sunday morning. Getting dressed, getting the boys dressed, taming their crazy hair, eating breakfast and so on. I've even managed to fit in fixing a travel mug of tea! Now that's something I never would have had time to do before!

5. Build in margin.
I take a two pronged approach here. First of all, I try to plan for the unexpected. With three small children, there's bound to be something unexpected, right? Someone who's got to go to the bathroom after you buckle them into their carseat. A two month old who wants to nurse again or spits up all over his clean clothes. Or a car that won't start because someone (the short, long haired woman will remain nameless to protect her reputation) left the reading light on in the car the night before. So, I plan for it. I don't know what it's going to be, but it's probably going to happen.

The second part of this is to avoid trying to fit in "one more thing" when I think I'm ahead of schedule. Let's face it--I'm still somewhat impaired when it comes to knowing time currency. Deciding to curl my hair (if I don't usually do this) at the last minute is a recipe for disaster. It will probably take longer than I expect, and I'll use up my margin that I needed for getting out the booster cables later.

6. Enjoy the peace.
I'm tellin' ya. There's just nothing like pulling out of the driveway with five minutes to spare, happy children, and parents who aren't agitated and irritable. Nothing like it. Being on time was such a novelty to me that it felt fun! Walking into a place five minutes early was exhilarating. But besides just being on time, the whole process of getting there was more peaceful. Kinder. Gentler. Sweeter.

Punctuality--you can do it!


Hearts Turned Towards Home: Joyce’s Story


The following is a guest post from Joyce at Joyfull Living and is the third installment of Hearts Turned Towards Home. If you are interested in sharing your story of how God turned your heart toward home, please click here.

What a blessing it is to share the journey of my heart being turned toward home. For me, it was a journey complete with second chances and the Lord doing a wonderful work my heart.

It was decided early in our marriage that when children came, I would be a stay at home mom. When our children were born, I quit my job to care for them. Although I was a stay at home mom technically, my heart was not home and I wasn't at home much either! The days were spent dragging my two young boys to my mothers house to watch soap operas, to town shopping or going out to lunch. We would hurry home when my husband got home to prepare dinner and do chores, but these were done with little effort or care. When the boys started school, I thought that I was not needed much at home and went to work full time.

Working Mom:

Supermom, I wasn't and that was learned quickly. Being gone all day then rushing home for homework, dinner, baths and bed put our family in a harried and disorganized state. I was unable to attend school functions, field trips or parties and when we tried to participate in sports, the routine became even more fierce and rushed. Many times dinner consisted of McDonald's eaten in the car.

Do You Have A Spiritual Vision?

That was the question the pastor on the radio asked one day on the way home from work. His question burned in my heart, “what am I looking for or striving with purpose to fulfill”? In all actuality, it was survival! My thoughts and plans reached no further than completing the day and moving into the next day! Realizing the importance of a goal or vision, something to be reaching toward, I asked the Lord what His vision was for my life.

God's Answer:

I often took a quick walk during break time at work. During the walk the Lord spoke into my heart clearly, “Your vision is your family, your family is your God given career and ministry.” It suddenly hit me that my family was divinely given to me and my home was my own sphere of appointed ministry. The Lord Himself, hand picked me for this task. Is there anything that deserves my time, effort or energy more than that high calling? NO! I realized that by being away from home so many hours and exerting my effort and energy at my job, my family was receiving the worst of my attention instead of my best, which was what they deserved. At work, I was pleasant, smiling and kind and at home I was rushed, grumpy and short on kindness and expressions of love.

Realization and Commitment:

I also realized how I had wasted those precious years when I was blessed to be at home. My days could have been spent building and cherishing my home instead of pursuing fun and pleasures. My heart yearned to go back home and make my home my career. My prayer included thanksgiving for God revealing to me my purpose and a surrender that if He would arrange the details, I would go back home with my heart intact.

His Way:

At this time our boys were ages 7 and 10. My husband and I did want more children, but had suffered three miscarriages in a row. Unable to face the heartbreak of losing any more, we decided that there would be no more children. We sold all of our baby equipment, clothes etc. We would not be needing these anymore. Can you guess what happened in our lives that completely surprised us? Yes, I was pregnant! Choosing to face this pregnancy with faith instead of fear, believing it was God's answer, we were blessed with a healthy baby boy and as we had agreed years ago, I came home.

She Buildeth Her Home:

In Proverbs 14:1, it tells that “a wise woman builds her home”. Building is a process and for me it continues to be a learning experience. For our home it meant me spending much of my time at home, meeting the needs of my family, seeking ways for the home to run more efficiently. It meant seeking God for the attitude of love, service and ministry to bless my home and family. It is a surrender of my desires at times in order to do what is best for others. It is also the highest blessing and sense of fulfillment to care for my family and mange my home.

Now that my youngest son is in school, I have returned to work part time. My job is flexible and the hours revolve around school hours and I am able to make those important school functions. My priorities are at home and family first. Balance is a key trait to hold it all together, but truly my heart has been turned toward home.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Joyce seeks to live out each day with the heart cry of “my soul shall be joyful in the Lord”. God has given abundant blessings with a wonderful husband of 20 years and three fantastic sons ranging from ages 18 to 8. You may visit Joyce’s blog – Joyfull Living at www.joybright.blogspot.com It is a place where she shares the details of an ordinary life filled with extraordinary joy!


Living Lovely

The following is a guest post by Heidi from Mt. Hope Chronicles.

Recently, after an emotionally rough few months this past year, I became inspired and empowered to change my outlook on life. It all began with this video by Amy Krouse Rosenthal: The Beckoning of Lovely. It spoke to me loud and clear.

Lovely became my theme word for the year, and doubtless it will stay with me, even when this year is long gone.

When I looked up the meaning of lovely in the dictionary, these two definitions jumped off the page:

2. delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace

4. eliciting love by moral or ideal worth

The first definition spoke to me in two ways:

    1) I need to look around me and notice the beautiful things in my life. They are very rarely big things, such as a vacation to the Bahamas. But every day, all day long (even on the rough days) there are little beautiful things in my life, if I will only take the time to see and acknowledge them.


    Sometimes lovely is so small, we have to stop what we are doing to notice it. Sometimes lovely is disguised in the quotidian, and we must step outside of our normal point of view to recognize it.

    A sticky kiss from the 2 year old covered in maple syrup. A cherry tree, just beginning to bloom. A husband wrestling on the living room floor with his three sons. A phone call from a friend.

    2) I can create lovely in my life. Amy’s list is a tremendous place to start.

    Make a grand entrance. Make do with what you have. Make a splash! Make it up as you go. Make out. Make a friend. Kiss and make up. Make someone's day. Make something pretty. Make music. Make peace.

The second definition was an overwhelming reminder that God has created each and every person in this world with moral and ideal worth. Do I treat my children, my husband, the grocery clerk, or the person who cut me off in traffic as if they possessed moral or ideal worth? Do I make them feel lovely? How can I project God’s love and grace to those I come in contact with throughout my day, or even in my thoughts as I go through life?


Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." ~Matthew 22:37-40

With God’s help, we all have the power to live lovely in our own lives. It doesn't matter how old you are, your gender, your financial bracket, or your political party. You don't need to be artistic or have a green thumb. You don't need 10 extra hours in your day. It doesn't matter if you are a stay-at-home mom, have a thriving career, or feel down-and-out. It isn't about perfection. It doesn't matter if your home is 8,000 square feet or 800.

Every one of us can make something.

We can make the most of our time here.

I am beginning a new Living Lovely series at Mt. Hope Chronicles. Each week, I’ll create a new Living Lovely Challenge for all who are interested in participating. The following week, I’ll post a Mr. Linky so that we each can share how we’ve used that inspiration in our lives. Come join me in Living Lovely!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true,

whatever is noble, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable

—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—

think about such things.

~Philippians 4:8

PhotobucketHeidi documents Living Lovely at her blog, Mt. Hope Chronicles. There she celebrates (in words and images) her journey as wife, home schooling mother of three rambunctious boys (7, 5, and almost 3), photographer, book collector, and lover of the little things.


You’re Gonna Miss This

Free girl playing on rocks in purple shoes creative commons
Image by D. Sharon Pruitt

The following is a guest post by Amanda from Mommy's Idea Book.
  • Oh, I’ll be so glad when I don’t have to deal with bottles any more.
  • I just wish he was potty-trained and out of these diapers, then I wouldn’t have to lug this diaper bag around any more.
  • It’ll be nice to finally get a break once the kids get in school.
  • Surely things will be easier once she gets older and can do some things for herself.

Do any of these lines sound familiar? Have you ever thought or said any of these things?

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve thought or said all these things at one point or another.

After my son was born almost six years ago, I found myself constantly wishing he would grow out of one stage and into another, thinking things would be easier once he reached the next stage. I was a tired and sometimes frustrated new mom just trying to survive day to day with a new baby.

What I didn’t realize is I was inadvertently wishing our lives away by focusing on the irritating parts of each stage of his life rather than on the enjoyable and memorable parts of each stage.

Once I recognized how fast my little boy was actually growing up and just how short each segment of his life really is I felt guilty for wishing the time away. I knew it was imperative I put my mind on the positive aspects of his life, at every stage, rather than the negative ones.

So, that being said, how do we learn to focus on the positive instead of the negative?

  1. Retrace our steps - Realizing our child will not stay young for very long is the first step to learning to live in the present and focus on the positives of each stage of their life. If we take a moment and look back to when our child was only a few months old, we will probably all remember thinking it took forever for him to stop waking up every two or three hours during the night. However, we can probably also look back and see how quickly the time actually flew by. By doing this, we can get an idea of just how short our time with our little ones really is.
  1. Recognize our misconceptions - Sometimes, we parents fool ourselves into thinking if we can just get past this stage, everything will be peachy. Unfortunately, no matter the stage of our child’s life, there will always be less than pleasurable aspects. So by wishing one stage is over to get on to the next stage is really not accomplishing anything. In other words, each new stage will bring its own problems with it, so we might as well accept them and find happiness despite of them.
  1. Rethink our priorities - It’s so easy to get caught up in having a spotless house or maintaining various commitments to the point we end up getting annoyed over the little things our children do or don’t do that are just part of being a kid. As a result, we try to “grow them up” too quickly, so they will fit into our pre-child lifestyle instead of reformatting our lifestyle to include our children. If unnecessary commitments and a squeaky clean house are constantly causing us to wish our kids were older so they could do more for themselves, it’s time to reassess our priorities. To put it plain, we’ll always have a house to clean and there will always be commitments to make, but our kids won’t always be kids.

As I began writing this article, I was reminded of a country music video my dad wanted me to watch a while back. Now, I don’t usually listen to country, but he said I really needed to see it. It was called “You’re Gonna Miss This” and sung by Trace Adkins.

I ended up crying through the whole video. The song talks about the stages of life we go through, from having young children to seeing them grow into adults and all the things we’ll miss about their childhood once they’re grown.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch this video while my kids are still really young because it changed my perspective on living each day to the fullest with them. I realized just how fleeting these times are in our lives.

Just ask an older mother or father and they’ll tell you time goes by in the blink of an eye. I want to cherish the good and the bad so I’ll be able to look back and know I didn’t wish away any of the time with my kids.

What about you? Are you wishing away precious time - days, weeks, months, or even years? Or are you living each day accepting and loving that precious time, good or not so good?

Amanda is a full-time mom to a five year old son and a two year old daughter, as well as a wife of almost 11 years. In addition, she blogs at Mommy’s Idea Book, a blog devoted to sharing information, tips and encouragement with other moms, wives and homemakers. She enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with her family.