~ Home School Enrichment Mag and Me ~

January 19, 2010

Home School Enrichment Magazine, one of the foremost publications for Christian homeschoolers (okay, THE foremost pub, IMHO) is offering you some of my best stuff for free.

If you want to know the basics of how to motivate your students to learn independently and with excellence, grab this FREE REPORT found at


You can also grab yourself a free copy of the magazine which will be delivered directly to your mailbox! You’ll be asked for your e-mail address to get the goods. Head over when you get a minute and scoop up my Secrets to Homeschooling Freedom!

Of course you can always visit my Website and learn more about Self-Teaching and Mastery Learning. www.URtheMom.com


~ FUNdamentals ~

January 3, 2010

I just have to share something that happened last night. My youngest, Lilie, is seven and does not read for fun. She reads well but she only reads with prodding. It has saddened me for quite some time that I don’t “catch her reading,” but I have told myself that if I am just patient and do not hassle her, eventually she will start reading because she wants to.

Most of the family was in the family room, the room with the warm, crackling fireplace, and I was playing a word game assisted by Taylor, AD, Lydia, and Olivia. I heard quiet laughter from across the room, and there sat Lilie by herself in the recliner, laughing at what she was reading in a book on her own (without me having to say, “Find a book to read for a while”). I didn’t say a word to her, but AD and I exchanged smiles.

The book Lilie was reading was a library book that one of her sisters had gotten out of the library a day or two ago, and Tim had even read some of it out loud to us because it really was a funny book. AD and Lydia had read some parts out loud to us as well. (I can’t find the book at the moment to quote you the title.  Sorry!) The title isn’t really that important; what I observed reinforced my theory that children will read when they are ready to read, and being ready involves having a vested interest in what is being read.

I could tell Lilie all day how much fun reading is, but until she somehow got sucked into a book herself, all my talking about it meant nothing to her. Last night she experienced, perhaps for the first time in her little life, the true joy of reading. The fire has been lit, and I just bet I will find her reading more and more frequently.

Often I have asked myself, “Why does this child not seem to want to read on her own?” The others all gravitated to reading without my intervention. I have asked my other kids, and I have peppered Tim with the same question. The answer seems to be that because she is the youngest of a bunch, she is entertained by the others. We all read *to* her. She loves to listen to books on tape, and Tim has read all of the Narnia books as well as the Little House books to her and the two other younger girls over that past year or so. Lilie simply hasn’t had the *desire* to entertain herself.

For her, reading was not a readiness issue in the same sense that knowing phonics rules is a readiness issue; it has been a “heart readiness” issue.

Pleasure is the key for unlocking the door into the wide and wonderful world of reading. We read for enjoyment as children, don’t we? Last night my little daughter caught the excitement the other girls had for a certain book, and I suspect that her reading journey has just begun. It’s so fun to watch!

I can’t wait to be able to say, “Lilie, stop reading, turn out your light, and go to sleep!”

~ A New Decade ~

January 3, 2010

How I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season together!

The memories of Christmas 2009  and New Year’s 2010 are still fresh, but as we throw it back into high gear next week, those memories will become but shadows. Time is one of the few variables we hold in common with the rest of humanity. We may live in different cultures that are wildly diverse, yet each of us can’t help but be affected by the passage of time. I don’t have any deep educational thoughts to share this morning, but I thought I would begin “the year in blog” by sharing some personal reflections.

New Year’s Eve of 2009 was an intimate time for my family and me. We spent it all together here at home. I actually have been battling the flu since Monday (today is Saturday), and several children have succumbed as well. The plans I had for a fun and frolicking evening New Year’s Eve came to naught since few of us felt like being off the couch for very long. But we made it a festive time nonetheless with sparkling  white grape juice, sparkling apple juice,  sparkling red grape juice, and various meds.

We sat around the very messy family room just talking and laughing. Some played cards on the floor, some had laptops out, some were reading by the fire, but we were together. Just us. We began talking about the past decade and what worthy-of-mention stuff had happened (that we remembered, anyway).

I only gave birth to one baby in the past decade. Striking statistic there, to me at least. We have seen so many changes to our family since the year 2000, as I know you have to yours as well. As we sat around talking about milestones and memories, I began to fight the tears. To hide them, I changed the subject to “Where do you see yourself ten years from now?” and we all went around and tossed out some thoughts, most of them speculative and each of them revealing of the personalities of the individuals.

Then I really fought back the tears. If reminiscing was emotional, certainly listening to my children talk about where they might be in ten years was a wake-up call! How fast the last ten years flew, and how quickly the next ten will pass. Ten years from now my oldest will be 30 years old, and Tim and I will be almost empty-nesters with Lilie still home, but she’ll be preparing to graduate from high school. The next ten years will undoubtedly bring CHANGE.

Now I like change. I am one of those who has to rearrange the furniture or paint walls or sit in a different spot for inspiration. But the thought of such magnanimous change as my children being all grown up and out of the house was overwhelming to me on New Year’s Eve. I am tearing up even as I type this. Do I want that kind of change? It really doesn’t matter what I want, does it? The change will come, imperceptibly, one day at a time.

And that is the point of this little rant. The new decade will unfold one moment at a time, and when the time comes, and you and I are looking back on the now-upcoming decade, we will be amazed at all that transpired. It will happen one moment at a time, and the thing that many of us fear–change–will not have been such a monster as we imagined it to be.

Somehow, when Lilie is the only child left at home, I will be ready to be an empty-nester. I can not even imagine how that can possibly happen, but I know it will be so when the time comes. The good news is that the Lord will be with us in each and every moment of 2010 and beyond; He will not ever give us more than we can bear, yet we know that the road will be sprinkled with trials and testings and joy and laughter. Life is just like that.

We need not fear the unknown; we can hold the present dearly, and this we should, appreciating all the things that make our lives full and complete, yet without harboring fear and dread over what the future may reveal.

Would you like to know the most important thing I have learned over this past decade?  It has everything to do with the human tendency to worry and fret and get carried away with the drama in our lives. It also is something that Jesus was amazed by and deeply disappointed by when he physically walked the soil of this planet. The most important thing I have learned is to have faith. How many times in the New Testament is it recorded that Jesus was “amazed at (their) lack of faith,” or He was “amazed at (his/her) faith”?

Without faith it is impossible to please God. And impossible to live in peace.

How does one acquire faith? Usually it is by walking through fire, by trial and tribulation and seeing God provide in our darkest hours. It doesn’t have to be that way, but usually it is that way in my life. Thickheadedness, I suppose. I like to look at little children, young children about one or two years old, and observe their lack of worry. Children don’t worry. Ever notice that? And we are reminded by Jesus to be as little children  which to me is a call to faith. Just as a two-year-old trusts its parents, so we are to trust the Lord.

“In Him we live and move and have out being.” That verse forever makes me think of an expectant mother carrying her unborn child. Does the unborn baby worry and fret over being born or being nourished or clothed or taken care of? No! In its mother it lives and moves and has its being. Peacefully. So we are to live in Him, move in Him, and have our being in Him. Peacefully.

I am convinced that the most valuable thing we can pass on to our children is faith. The more they see that we trust in and rely upon our God, and the more they see God answering our needs with His provision, the more they will be empowered to live a life of faith. There is so much to be said for living with heart-peace, that unrelenting feeling that all is well because God is certainly in control, and He is bigger than today’s issues.

Isaiah 50:10 and 11 have changed my life. If you have read any of my recent materials or been to any of my seminars, you already know that. These verses speak to our natural tendency to be overcome with the drama of the moment and our refusal to accept the gift of FAITH that is ours for the taking. We are our own worst enemy when we try to walk by the light of our self-made fires, and the result is lying down in fear and torment. Who wants that? If you have ever laid awake at night worrying about (fill in the blank), you have experienced that part of Isaiah 50:11.

What is the alternative? Isn’t worry a normal part of life? Uh, no. Worry is so gosh darn prevalent in our lives that to NOT worry is foreign to us. The alternative is to rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and allow yourself to lean upon and be supported by your God. The one who MADE you wants your attention. He wants to be the one you turn to, the one you trust with the big things and the little things.

After 25 years of marriage, eight children, and a truckload of challenges due to raising eight children, I can earnestly say that Jesus can be trusted. I know that being “underwhelmed” is a direct result of having faith. While I still fight the urge to work things out in my own strength, I am getting better and better at recognizing the futility of this particular mindset, and I am beginning to remember to cast my burdens on Him and honor Him through my faith.

You probably are miles ahead of me in the faith department, but if not, I just encourage you to each day mentally decide not to worry about your situation. Tell yourself out loud that God is in control, and picture yourself leaning and resting against Him. “Just for today, I am going to let God deal with this and see how much better He can handle it than I can.” The results will amaze you.

As you embark upon a new decade, a new year, and each new day, may your mindset be that of a small child trusting in his parents to raise him up in the way he should go. God is deserving of our trust. As the psalmist wrote so many, many decades ago, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.”

Special thanks to my faithful blog-reading friends, all 3 of you, for your encouragement and your friendship this past year.  🙂 May your 2010 be filled with love and laughter, my recipe for a happy heart.

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