homeschool, honestly : a quick note

One homeschool-mama who significantly inspires me is Ann Voskamp. I mean, she inspires several (million) people, and I am one of them. A few years ago I read this blog post by her and she filled my soul with vision for what our home+school could be like.

She is a homeschool-mama and this year, for her “first day” Instagram post, she included a “happy mama manifesto” that as soon as I could, I copied and pasted and printed and slipped into the front clear part of my homeschool planner-binder.

I wanted to tag each and every mama-friend of mine, homeschooling or not, because the manifesto is for every one of them out there (all the billion of them).

I decided it might be better to share the manifesto-document on my blog – so here it is. Enjoy! (maybe you’ll print it too!)

Happy Mama Manifesto:

1. Today, even if everything goes wrong, love is always right. There is ridiculous hope in this.

2. Today, the only thing that has to be written in stone is when to pray. We will just pray at set times & make our home a house of prayer. What else really matters?

3. Today, there are no emergencies. Life is a GIFT — not an emergency! Only amateurs hurry. So: Say yes to one game every day and laugh loud. No empty-nest mama looks around and wishes she did one more load of laundry.

4. Today, when stress mounts, I pray to dismount it with gratitude. My stress management plan will be simple: all stress will have an intervention of giving thanks for one thing out loud. I can only feel one feeling at a time, and I choose to give thanks at all times.

5. Today, I will pray to speak words that make souls stronger. Grace is the only non-toxic air.

6. Today, I will pray to just be: Consistently consistent. Make rhythms, live routines, wear good habits. Do the same thing at the same time every day — and you kinda change your life.

7. Today, THIS: The moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.

8. Today, I will hug each of my children as many times as I serve them meals — because children’s hearts feed on touch. I’ll look for as many opportunities to touch my children today as possible — the taller they are, the more so.
Whenever I want to throw hands up, I’ll throw them around someone instead. Holding someone always helps holds things together.

9. Love is a roof.

Be a shelter, a safe place, just be a roof for your people today.

10. Today, I will laugh! And I will create a culture of JOY! The only life worth living is a scandalous one: scandalous love, offensive mercy, foolish faith. Let joy live loud in your soul.


PS I am currently, finally reading her book, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life, and I have only just begun. Friends, and even my sister, have recommended it to me, and the other day I decided it was time to read it. If you’d like, we can read it together. Just let me know you want to! ❤


homeschool, honestly : our home, our school

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click the image to shop

To begin school last year, we gifted our sons with this book. The colorfully illustrated story shares a little boy’s home/school life all under the same roof, with his family. He shares happily and candidly. The illustrations cast vision for our home and help us cultivate what it means to live+learn together.

This book has helped me, the momma + teacher, to peek inside a little boy’s heart and mind to see what he saw of his home/school life – and to go after the good he shares.

This illustration, for instance, has us all dreaming of where we can put our tree house and how big we can make it in our own back yard.

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image from orange marmalade blog

With how much this children’s story has inspired me, I thought I would share a few peeks into our home/school. I am no illustrator, but I have taken a few quick iPhone pictures to show you around, and I hope these little images will help you as you begin into the proper-school year.

Ok so here is the first one :

our downstairs living room, aka homeschool spot

For all of you homeschooling-mommas, you know that this quick snapshot took a lot of effort to get – to get the cabinet organized correctly, to realize that yep, those folding tables and stacking chairs at Costco are in fact a good idea. Perhaps the couch or the green chair or Tyler’s desk chair pulled in from his desk is a good place to sit…  I sit and stand all over the place in the course of the hour and a half that it takes (when we do all-the-things) to do “school proper.”

We opened our Sonlight box and excitedly began. I do love their curriculum and how they plan everything so I don’t really have to. The weekly schedule tells me how much of whatever book I should be reading, broken down into days, and if we get ahead, great. If we get “behind”, I just keep going to the next week, knowing that eventually it will all shake out. And if it doesn’t, really, really!, it’s not a big deal.

Well, my excitement soon fizzled into frustration. Nothing was organized. Which meant  I was spending fifteen minutes getting all of my little mess together and then the boys were already distracted and doing who knows what (jumping off of the couch, playing a board game, asking to watch a TV show, or arguing). Obviously frustrating.

So I emphatically t.o.l.d. Tyler I had to get my mess together. I had to get organized. I stared at all of the stuff and I stared at my space – which is that cabinet, and after I stared and stared some more, I went to Target. I bought every plastic bin I thought might help, brought it home, put it all together, which really was the shorter part of the whole ordeal, and returned the plastic bins that ended up not being used.

In those bins…



I have math manipulatives, handwriting manipulatives; math and language arts games; a box for Leland, and a box for Grafton; my “side” of the cabinet, and a space for the books we are currently reading. Other games and books and all sorts of stuff are in the play room. We can go get them any time, but this cabinet is reserved for the “school stuff” and the play things, like play doh and paint, that we play with t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r. 🙂

On any given day the cabinet is not fancy, but it is functional and I can close the doors, which is fantastic!

Sometimes we get out the folding tables and chairs, which I tuck away in the coat closet when we aren’t using them… and sometimes we sit at the kitchen table. Other times we go outside to the picnic table, and I hope as the weather cools to take school to the park.

Typically the boys get dressed in the morning, but sometimes pjs are just fine for school. #homeschoolperks 😉

My favorite time is couch time aka reading time. Truly, the manifold reasons are obvious. The boys and I sit together, we read great stories, we take about all that we are learning, I answer a pile of questions, and, did I mention we are sitting on the couch?!

our reading corner

I’m not too far into this whole homeschool thing, but so far, I am enjoying so many of the inherent benefits of living and learning together under the same roof. Sure, sometimes it’s hard. I have learned that we all need a snack before we start school. It evens our blood sugar and fills our tummies so we can actually listen to the story, do our work books, and get through the time a lot more happily. We begin with prayer and end with thanking the Lord for school and learning. We make sure to play out side… which is one more place I want to show you.


Sometimes we have visitors (see sweet Story and Selah?) and we haven’t constructed a tree house yet, like in This is My Home, This is My School, but we are on our way to having a pretty good backyard. And funny enough, this is where we have recess.

Grafton’s 4th Birthday . the story of his psalm

Before each of our sons was born, we chose for them a psalm. This scripture is our prayer, our prophecy, the banner of the Word over their lives, who and what kind of man we pray they become. This Word is to comfort them, challenge them, be a reminder to them of who God is and what He has done, and who they are in Him and how they are to live.
For Grafton, we chose Psalm 112. After reading through the psalms, we loved how psalm 112 acts as a commentary and an amplified version of Psalm 1, which is Leland’s psalm.

Both psalms begin with “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord” but Grafton’s is preceded by Praise the Lord! … and then the psalmist goes on to describe the life of the man who fears the Lord. He delights in the Lord. His offspring is blessed, is mighty, endures. His character is upright. He works and gives generously – I especially love this challenge to Grafton. This psalmist’s language particularly points to Christ – after all, who else’s righteousness endures forever? I love that too for Grafton because the reality is only Christ can be this Blessed Man, and only in Christ can Grafton be a blessed man. Only in Christ can his life be a song of praise to the Lord.

Grafton has always been a brother, and he compliments and illumines his brothers. He is a lover, a good worker, and a generous friend. These attributes are both intrinsic to his God-imaging nature and will be sanctified as he puts his trust in Christ and lives in the fear of the Lord.

We thank You and we pray this, Lord.

So as we celebrate Grafton this year, we reflect on all of the goodness of the Lord in our lives, all of the ways that He has revealed His glory to us in the life of Grafton, we remember all of His good works, and we request that the Lord SAVE Grafton for Himself, at an early age, for his whole life, that Grafton may live as a blessed man who delights in the Lord, who lives out of the life of Christ, to the praise of His great glory.

Happy birthday, G.

Psalm 112 . The Righteous Will Never Be Moved

112 Praise the LORD!

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,

who greatly delights in his commandments!

His offspring will be mighty in the land;

the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are in his house,

and his righteousness endures forever.

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;

he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;

who conducts his affairs with justice.

For the righteous will never be moved;

he will be remembered forever.

He is not afraid of bad news;

his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,

until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever;

his horn is exalted in honor.

10  The wicked man sees it and is angry;

he gnashes his teeth and melts away;

the desire of the wicked will perish!


Photographs – Amy Free Photography  

for me, for life

Colossians 3:1-4 . The Message

He Is Your Life

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from hisperspective.

3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

oh yes Lord. yes yes yes. When I say no, I repent, and help me, in Your great mercy, to say  yes. You are Life.

life giving home . june

Play. A word that I love but an action that I don’t feel like I’m very good at.

As I read through Sally’s chapter on the month of June I was so inspired. The chapter centered on the theme of play.
She writes, “Ultimately, play is a process that, though most commonly practiced in childhood, can be enacted throughout the entirety of life.” (136)
I wanted to play! I wanted to be good at it! I want my sons to play and to enjoy.
Now, I do think they are pretty good at play. They have big imaginations fuels by good stories and equipped with bins full of costumes.
But today is Monday. And all I see is to-do’s up to my nose and I see my children.
As I fed Haddon his breakfast this morning I asked the Lord how to do it – I asked Him for wisdom.
Here’s how he answered.
I created a game for all 3 of us to engage. I wrote out a name of a room in our house and a time on each strip; one strip read “play room – 5 minutes” and another strip “kitchen- 7 minutes.” There were 8 strips, each with a room and a time limit. I folded the strips and put them in a bowl. On our chalkboard wall I drew a simple progress path checklist. I told the boys that we were going to play a game and that if they won – we have to cooperate! – they could watch a TV show. So, one boy draws a slip of paper. We read it; we take that room to clean. We divide the tasks (Grafton, you pick up the costumes; Leland, you pick up the cars, and I’ll do the rest… 😉 and I set the timer. I also played some fun music!
The object of the game is to clean the room happily in the amount of time on the timer. If we all did that we got a piece of candy (a jelly bean). If they didn’t work happily, no jelly bean.
The timer was mostly to keep this activity a game and keep us moving, instead of me gettting focused on the details and and ending up spending too much time cleaning any one room. When we finished with the room, whoever didn’t chose the slip crossed out the box on the chalkboard wall,  we all ate a piece of candy, and the other boy drew a slip of paper. Throughout the game, we encouraged each other – finish well!! stay strong!! instead of the typical mom-reminder ‘keep doing your job.’
Now candy and TV may not be your kind of motivation, so you do you. But it is ours and I loved the dark chocolate kiss I ate when I was finished with the room. They loved their jelly beans, too!
Thankfully, the game worked! We had fun and the house got clean-er. Every room was touched, and nothing was “perfect” or “pristine” but it was much better. Clothes were hung, beds were made, toys were back in their bins. I even wiped down the bathrooms!
The boys earned their show and while they watched The Magic School Bus and ate a healthy snack to compensate for the sugary treat, I finished my tasks and got dressed.  Win win!
Y’all – the tension of the to do list and play is such a real thing for me. And today by the Lord’s great grace I thought of a creative way to play and work. I didn’t micromanage or lose my cool. Instead we encouraged each other to work well, we moved quickly, and in the end, both boys loved the game. and I got dressed today!
Now I might not be able to use that every time but hey! Today :).
Sally ends the chapter, “Play is not frivolous. Far from it. Having fun and finding pleasure in games, make-believe, and various forms of recreation is beneficial to our brains, our bodies, and our emotional well-being – and thats true for every member of the family, moms and dads included. … June is a perfect time to make play a priority of your family…. You will create memories that will be cherished and remembered at every family gathering – a wonderful legacy of fun, growth, and friendship.” (148)
Before the boys drifted off to sleep at nap time, they both said, “That game was fun.” Praise the Lord.

life giving home . may

May is the month of celebration – this is the running theme in the book, The Life Giving Home. One of the significant celebrations this month is Mother’s Day – only a week away! And as I celebrate my mom, all of the spiritual mothers in my life, and the reality that I have joined their ranks, I am asking myself this question : What kind of mom do I want to be? … today? for the next season of life while my sons live under my roof? What kind of mom-legacy do I want to give my children? What kind of mom do I want to be remembered as? This question “What kind of mom do I want to be?” motivates me to seek Scripture, to talk it out the Lord, to think back through the models I have been gifted with, including the ultimate example and ideal, Jesus Christ; to think about my own personality and gifts… and to ask the Lord to weave all of these aspects together into an inspiring image of the kind of mom He desires I be and become.

I want to be a mom who is godly.
I want to be a mom who laughs without fear at the future.
I want to be a mom who in everything glorifies the Lord and seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
I want to be a mom who fully loves Jesus with all of her being and that love within just pours over and into my sons.
I want to be a mom who both nurtures her sons and calls her sons up to manhood.
I want to be a mom who inspires and challenges her sons to live for God, fearing Him and fully following Him in all of His ways,… because I do.
I want to be a mom who serves yummy suppers and gladly welcomes hungry little men to the table to enjoy a good meal, the good gifts the Lord has presented to us.
I want to be a mom who listens.
I want to be a mom who holds his hand… and lets him go.
I want to be a mom who goes outside with her boys. And does whatever outside activities we are doing today!
I want to be a mom who is just. so. proud. of her men.
I want to be a mom who serves up grace, and love, and admonition, and wisdom because they are the meat and potatoes, the chocolate cake and the wine of the Good News.
I want to be a mom who smiles into their eyes, into their hearts.
I want to be a mom who knows when it is loving to remind and when it is loving to forget.
I want to be a mom who knows when it is loving my son to sweep the floor, readying the space for the next thing, and when it is loving to put the broom down and go play.
I want to be a mom who is there. And who puts my sons’ hearts to the God who is Always Present.
I want to be a mom who puts the world in front of her sons, who  puts God Almighty in front of her sons, who repeats the sounding joy of the gospel to their hearts and repeatedly states the great commission for the glory of God to the ends of the earth.
How do I go about getting all of my I wants? How do I become the kind of mom I dream of being?
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will gives you the desires of your hearts.” Psalm 37:4
When I delight myself in the Lord – come under the mighty salvation of the Lord our God, come under His Way, His Truth, His Life, when I submit to the Scripture, to reading it and living it, when I submit to a life of prayer (because prayer is the work), when I listen and obey Him – He becomes my Desire. and He becomes my Dream, and my Dream Come True.
It is in the day to day – the thoughts I think, the choices I make, the attitudes I put on – it is in the small things, the early morning walks. time in the Word. prayer. church and community. learning cook and learning to serve. living and fighting and breathing and sleeping and loving. These day to day add up. And one day, I pray I will look back and see how frustration was turned into determination; how fear repented into faith; how fitfulness transformed into freedom… how all of my wants are granted for the glory of God and the good of my sons, my husband, and me.
For you, sister friend… whoever you are and wherever you are; whatever season of life you find yourself… Today is the Day of Salvation. Jesus offers salvation to all who believe – so believe Him. Confess your sin. Come under His salvation. and Live. Be all of who He’s made you to be, all of who you dream of becoming… and whether you have children with your last name or not, as you receive His life, you can gift life to all who you hold dear.
Oh Jesus, be my Delight and my Desire, my Dream, and my Dream Come True. Be ours. Be my All in All and be in my the kind of mom I want to be, the kind of mom you designed and redeemed me to be. Make us New in You; make us all You want us to be. May I enter in to Your Redemption. May I come under your Design. May I delight myself in the the Lord… Be my Desire. I pray this for me, for my sister friend… and in your precious, holy name… Amen.

life giving home . april 

Lessons Learned in April . A List :

1. To remember to do the Life Giving Home live meet up earlier in the month (😏)

2. No, really.

3. When I get to a spot in life where I need to stare the problem in the face and solve it, instead of trying to solve it while engaging my children, which too quickly falls apart with a short tempered, hangry mom (me) and discouraged, terry eyed children(them😥), ask a grandparent to take my boys to Marbles (or really wherever)… and everyone would be MUCH happier + the problem might actually get solved.

4. Recieve all of the grace given to me in Christ,… and share it. generously.

5. I’m gladder than I can speak or know for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. THE monumental event in history means everything to me – is the reason I can realize any of these other lessons and provides the space to be loved, to love others; to give and to recieve forgiveness and grace. He is the Way & He is Freedom. The best way out is through the Cross and as we’ve walked through Easter this year, I’m happier than ever – a serious kind of happy – for the Cross.

“The best way out is always through*”… the CROSS. – *Robert Frost

☀️ enjoy the quick LIVE update on Facebook