Our hero and heroine receive a treasure map. With great bravery, they set out to cross raging rivers, climb high mountains, slay fierce dragons, and keep their fellow adventurers committed to their noble task. Forsaking comfort, sleep, and disposable income, they live the adventure to seek the treasure of a lifetime.
Who are these heroes? Why you and your spouse, of course.
While you are battling a fire-breathing dragon after a sleepless night awake with a sick child, you can wonder if the treasure is worth it.
Our own adventure began in the late 1980s when home education was still thought of as quirky. We were unlikely treasure hunters with Mike in seminary, barely two nickels to rub together, living in student housing.
With our eyes on the prize, we plunged in. The creator of Sing, Spell, Read, and Write was a professor at Mike’s graduate school so I went to her workshop and purchased the kit. Copying, coloring, and laminating the letter pages, I made a border in our small dining area so that Katie Beth could see them while she ate her breakfast each morning, waiting for her to show interest in those letters.
Meanwhile, we read beautifully illustrated, well-written picture books by the ton, played at the playground, planted a garden, went strawberry picking, made jam, and explored the nearby woods all with baby Julianna in tow. We loved to sing in the car, talk to cows through the window, and make silly animal sounds while we did their peculiar walks.
“Maybe I should read, Mommy,” Katie-Beth urged as I struggled to keep my eyes awake. I was pregnant again and oh so very sleepy. Could I teach Katie-Beth to read and potty train Julianna with a brand new baby?
We faced other challenges like blending the letter sounds while we were learning to read. It just didn’t come quickly for any of my children. Patience was the answer to that dilemma.
We faced the raging river of teaching something I didn’t understand myself. After praying for an idea, I went to the children’s section of the library and checked out books on the topic. After some quick reading, I understood enough to confidently teach a third grader. That came up over and over, until I learned to relax and learn with my children. After all, learning is a grand adventure!
Love is all you need. Love is in the air. Love makes the world go 'round. Love hurts. Love is all I need. Until the twelfth of never, I'll still be loving you.
We hear songs about love our entire life. They shape how we define love. From the songs I've heard in my lifetime, I would have to say, "Love is intoxicating like a drug and when it fades away, life is no longer worth living."
I have also watched a million romantic comedies. From these, I must conclude, "When you really love someone, you fight a lot and misunderstand one another until that magical kiss. Then you live happily ever after.
Oh, I'm so glad that movies and songs are not the only thing that defined my definition of love.
I was blessed to be loved by two wonderful parents, to see a beautiful love between my grandmother and grandfather, and to experience God's love at church, and later personally when I became born again at age 16.
As I grew in the Lord, my definition of love began to change. I no longer believe the definitions I learned from pop songs and chick flicks.
As I studied the Bible, I discovered three Greek words (Eros, Philia, Agape) that are all translated love in the New Testament, yet their meanings are completely different. Let's explore the three loves talked about in the Word of God.
Some children love a tidy room and others...well...hmm. Let's teach children & teens to organize and clean their world in a fun way. Scheduling can be enjoyable, too.
When we organize, clean, or work on schedules, I try to stay lighthearted and make it fun. I always have a treat afterward like watching a movie or going to the park.
You see, these things are not my favorite things so how on earth would I expect it to be my children's favorite things, but they are part of life so I want to do them with a cheerful heart. My children will see things the way I do, so in training children, my attitude is the most important thing.
Also: how well my children clean their room or stay on schedule or organize their things has NOTHING to do with their value. I never want to belittle my children over these things, but I want to lead them from success to success to success.
In my family, there are messies. I won't name them in case you know them or meet them in person. Messies need more training, but they can learn to keep things mostly tidy. Free spirits can learn to stay on a loose schedule. Everyone can learn to clean.
Here are some blog posts and a podcast on organizing:
Smart Storage to Eliminate Clutter
Organizing Your Homeschool
If you read my book Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, you know about the "Curtis Cleaning Machine." I talk about how we did our family weekly chores together on Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning, we dusted, vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms, mopped, and straightened the house.
Yes, we all worked together at the same time. Everyone had their own job, but we were all working. This set a tone in the house and everyone knew that there would be aggressive cleaning in progress. If my children's friends made the mistake of being at our house Saturday morning, they helped, too.
We set a time that the family gathered together in the family room. I made sure everyone knew what tasks they were responsible for.
Sometimes we set a timer to see who would finish first.
And the children or adults who finished first got to help out someone else.
You might imagine that everyone moped around. Nope. We had fun. We laughed. We joked around. It was actually pleasant. What?
Let's talk a minute about how to make work fun, rather than like pulling teeth.
Mom's Attitude Sets the Tone
"You are Mommy's big helper," I hear my oldest daughter say to her little boy.
I smile. That's what I used to say to her so many years ago.
Toddlers want to help you wash the dishes, prepare food, sweep, put away clothes, and tidy up. However, they often leave behind greater messes than they help clean.
Attention Moms! This is our window. If we let our children help when they are little lambs and praise their efforts, we are on track to having big helpers one day.
To cultivate the heart to serve, create an atmosphere of love and acceptance. Don't require perfection.
Our children do their "Five Things" each morning before breakfast. They start when they are toddlers and continue on, hopefully, for the rest of their lives. You can read more here.
Making the bed and straightening up the bedroom each morning is a wonderful lifetime habit for anyone.
I always helped my children make their bed and straighten their room each morning. One day, they would say, "I can do it myself, Mommy." I let them do it themselves. Certainly not the good job I did, but I praised them for their hard work and job well done.
We all worked together each afternoon to tidy the house before Daddy got home. We'd pick up all the toys and run the vacuum. It took about 15 minutes because we all worked together.
When the children wanted to help, I let them. We baked together, washed dishes together, and set the table together. When they asked to sweep, I handed them the broom. Later, when they were sleeping, I swept it again.
Praises were sung to Daddy when he arrived home of Mommy's big helpers. I lavished them with thanks for all they did to help. It made them feel so confident and needed.
From Helping to Chores
Jenny Rose stopped strumming his guitar and stepped forward to the microphone where she read a Scripture passage and gave a short word of encouragement.
"Some of us have had a rough week, we have been battered by the enemy, tossed around by his lies..." She ended by sharing her own personal experience of how Jesus had encouraged her. She started a worship song and everyone sang along.
I felt tears fill my eyes. My dream as I rocked and nursed my five babies was that they would each grow up to love Jesus and serve Him with a glad heart. Here was my Rosie, loving Jesus.
It is God's grace and mercy alone that all five of my adult children love Jesus. I'm so grateful, especially because I am a flawed Mommy. I wish I was perfect, but alas, no. I do love the Lord and have a living faith inside my heart that has grown stronger and stronger over the years.
It is not an example of perfection I have imparted to my children, it is a living faith in a jar of clay.
Can you relate? Do you love Jesus, but feel that you are so far from being a perfect example of what a "good" Christian should look like?
We want to grow in our adventure with Jesus and move forward in our faith.
So how do we do that?
Here is something easy to remember that will help you move forward and not backward: Gaze & Graze, but don’t Glaze.
I talk to so many people who want to grow closer to Jesus. They feel like Jesus is so distant and they wonder how they can draw close.
I promise you that walking with Jesus isn’t complicated. After all, Jesus just walked up to people and said, “Follow Me!”
And they did!
So, if you are one of those people who want to move closer to Jesus and know Him, I encourage you to Gaze & Graze, but don’t Glaze.
This is what helps me to stay focused on Jesus and move forward in my walk with Christ.
What do I mean?
Let me explain.
Another load of laundry to put in, a phonics lesson to give, and dinner to fix.
What Mom has time to read?
Another paper to write, a textbook chapter to read, and a test to study for.
What teenager has time to read for pleasure?
The lawn to mow, a presentation to prepare for at the office, and bills to pay.
What Dad has time to pick up a good book and read it?
Added to that, it is so much easier on the mind to turn on the TV and watch a show or movie.
So, why should we make time to read?
Reading is soothing, relaxing, and refreshing. When I spend time reading a book I enjoy, I feel stress melt away. It revives me.
Reading stimulates our mind like an aerobic workout for the mind. As I get older and can't remember things sometimes, I am glad for anything that keeps my mind sharp! I need that!
Reading increases our vocabulary, helps us to communicate more effectively, and gives us something meaningful to talk about. Isn't it fun to talk about a book you are reading?
So, how can we make time to read?
"When will I be loved?" our hearts cry out when we are young.
We seek our one true love, believing that romantic love will fill us with happiness forever. Then we marry someone who isn't perfect and we are still seeking to be loved and appreciated.
If only our parents had loved us more. If only we had better friends. If only we had a boyfriend or girlfriend. If only our children appreciated us.
Why are we always seeking more?
We had a need inside us to be lavishly loved. Our hearts cry out for it.
We long for words, actions, attitudes from others that communicate love, kindness, warmth, and understanding. We long for others to place high value on us.
There is a problem, though. People are flawed. No one loves perfectly. No one can be our all in all.
When we get together with other homeschool parents, we talk about all kinds of things related to homeschooling:
Why we homeschool.
Our philosophy of homeschooling.
What curriculum we are using.
Our homeschool co-ops and field trips.
How are children are growing in godly character.
All of that is wonderful! I love talking about all those things!
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that love is the heart of homeschooling, it's what motivates us, it's why we sacrifice.
We homeschooling because we love our children. We homeschool to express love to our children. We homeschool because we love God and want to teach our children to love Him, too.
Just as the heart pumps life to the whole body, love brings life to our home and our home school.
We started homeschooling with a goal in mind. We had a reason to homeschool our children. We wanted to raise children who loved the Lord and were wholeheartedly committed to Him.
With our reason for homeschooling, and really parenting in general, in mind, we wrote out measurable goals and taped them on the wall. They reminded us each day why we were homeschooling.
Here our goals for our children:
My Child will experience salvation through Jesus Christ and walk in assurance of that salvation all the days of his/her life.
My Child will Love God & Enjoy Worshiping Him.
My Child will Love, Understand, and Obey God's Word.
My Child will Understand & Participate in the Power of Prayer.
My Child will Know & Willingly Obey God's Rules of Right & Wrong.
After homeschool graduation, teens need to decide whether they will go to college, apprentice, or go right into the work force.
Many homeschool teens choose to go to college.
While some folks are calling for government-funded associates' degrees, in many career sectors, the tide is turning so that careers that only required a bachelor's degree, now require a master's degree.
If your teen wants to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer, nurse, physical therapist, architect, or teacher, college will be in their future.
It's in their best interest to not only prepare them for college studies, but to prepare them for the world of academia. You see, many university campuses have gone from being Christian or tolerant of Christianity to being anti-Christian. Post-Modernism, socialism, and New Age beliefs are often taught as fact, while Christian views are mocked and scorned.
In addition, sex outside of marriage and addictions of all kinds are promoted on college campuses by professors and fellow students alike.
How can we prepare our teens, who feel called to pursue a college education, to excel without compromising their values and beliefs? Rather, in fact, to shine brightly on a college campus?
All of my children have had opportunities to speak up in class, defend the faith, and to share the Gospel privately with several professors. In addition, they have witnessed boldly on the university, planting seeds and introducing friends to Jesus.
What can you do to prepare your teens? Well, I can only share with you what we did to prepare our teens for the world of academia. God will lead you to prepare your own teens, but our ideas may help you.
Talk About What To Expect At College
Teenage rebellion is a myth. Some teens rebel. Some teens don't. Teens that do rebel don't rebel because they are teenagers.
In primitive societies, boys hang out with dad learning to be a man and girls hang out with mom learning to be a woman. They go from child to adult without any drama or angst.
In our nation, until the 1920's, children reached puberty later (usually around 16-18) and got married soon afterward. Again the transition was pretty smooth between childhood and adulthood.
The 1920's was a paradoxical time for America. One of the most frugal Presidents ever sat in the White House vetoing spending bills and bringing down the national debt, while Americans themselves were offered and accepted with glee the brand new "Buy Now, Pay Later" philosophy. The bubble burst, of course, at the end of the decade. However, in the meantime, money was flowing and families were moving to the cities and suburbs from the farms.
Teens had more time on their hands, less hard work to do, and more money to spend. Suddenly, a new thing happened. Young people were living to have fun and play, instead of working hard to help their families and preparing to have their own families.
One thing we can't ignore during the teenage years is the impact hormones have on our teens.
Our sons struggle with anger, sometimes excessive.
Our daughters struggle with a wide range of emotions ranging from tears to giggles.
The excessive mood swings in our beloveds are caused by fluctuations in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Whew! Say those words ten times fast!
Adolescent boys produce ten times more testosterone! Have you ever seen the rage of an addict on steroids? Maybe your teenage son is more self-controlled than you give him credit for.
At the beginning of puberty, the pituitary gland swings into action releasing Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). In boys, these hormones tell the testes to produce Testosterone and sperm. In girls, FSH and LH tell the ovaries to produce estrogen and eggs.
Other changes happen.
Homeschooling has been a breeze and you love it: reading aloud, field trips, doing projects together, and learning new things. You are close to your child and enjoy life together.
One day you wake up and there is a new person inside your son's or daughter's body. They look the same--well, a little bit more manly or womanly. But, whoa, he or she is a completely different person. And yet, sometimes, they seem just like they did before.
What is happening?
Welcome to the Middle School years. Bodies are changing, hormones are raging, intellect is sharpening, and emotions are all over the place.
To experience joy and success in Middle School, you must determine to redefine normal for your young man or woman. Middle schoolers are transforming into men and women. That transformation isn't always easy.
Lavish your middle schooler with love and respect, whether they deserve it or not. Make yourself available as a listening ear and be a safe person they can pour their hearts out to.
On the positive side, middle schoolers are entering new phases of thinking, reasoning, analyzing, and other ways of thinking and learning. You can have intellectual and deep conversations with a middle schooler. They have interesting and exciting perspectives--it's so much fun to hear them!
This is the transition time between childhood and adulthood, both emotionally and intellectually.