Mercies New Every Morning

The rain splattered and slid, tiny cold liquid jewels against the window. Their presence this morning echoed a moment a couple evenings ago, riding cramped in the backseat as a teen drove us to grab a bite to eat. The rain was harder then. The windows fogged. The car lurched over each bump, overburdened by the three adults in the back. This made her already jittery driving more sporadic.

"I'm a good driver!" she insisted. Then she slammed on her brakes. I'm confident she hadn't noticed the approaching stop. I half expected one of my fellow passengers to leap at the chance to escape and brave the inclement weather instead.

As we accelerated again, our impromptu chauffeur became philosophical. "I imagine rain as the earth washing away the manure of life." She, of course, did not use the word "manure" as she's prone to sling swear words like a pan of bacon spits grease. She attends high school, after all.

We made it home without incident. The rain had letup by then. This is Colorado.

Christ refers to rain as an example of God's grace poured out on everyone (Matthew 5:43-45). It's a reminder, in a way, of the one thing that can wash clean the mess we've made of ourselves. But it's His blood that washes us; it's His redemption that works with the wreckage around us.

So this morning, overcast and dreary, I watched the ran cling to the pane of glass shielding me from the storm. It's a good reminder that no matter how bad things were yesterday -- or five minutes ago -- His mercies are new every morning. Indeed, His grace is sufficient every moment.

Rain
Rain

May you rest in that that today.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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Feeling a Bit of Panic? Consider this...

It wasn't panic, per se, that woke me at 4:27 this morning. It wasn't even "worry." My brain simply wanted to remind me of the daunting, 8-hour ordeal ahead of me today. 'Maybe,' my distraught processing center whispered, 'just maybe, it will take you 10 or 12 hours! And you'll be working on it all next week as well! Just think about that!'

Needless to say, I resonate with The Awkward Yeti when I Wake Up before my alarm.

If you've been feeling overwhelmed by everything you and your children need to do this year, just remember that the dread you're feeling is similar to the panic you had at the start of every semester in college. This is merely the common overwhelming feeling that happens when you try to wrap your head around an entire year's worth of material in a single afternoon.

You'll do great.

Breathe. Rest. Perhaps have some tea (or coffee, if that's your thing).

You can do this.

Don't listen to your brain on this one. Sometimes you got to turn off that worry-wart and let your heart remind you that what you're stepping out into is beautiful. Sometimes these life-long pursuits are better for the journey.

Just don't tell my brain. He'd flip.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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Seven Tips for the New Homeschool Year

Box Day came and went. You snapped that first-day-of-school photo (or not), and now you may be weeks into your new homeschool year. How is it going so far?

A Sonlight family learning together
Elijah E happily gears up for his first day of Sonlight's Intro to the World: Cultures (Core A).

I know the excitement and trepidation a new year can bring. So as a mom who has been there, done that, here are some tips to help you settle into a great year.

  1. Give yourself time to settle into a pattern. Just like when a new baby comes home, I found it takes about six weeks to establish new patterns at the start of school. If your schedule now is a big change from your summer schedule, give your family some grace. You'll find your groove soon.
  2. If your kids were in school before this year, give them extra time. For every year your children were in school, allow (at least) a week of homeschooling for them to get used to it. And as you make this transition, don't be afraid to ...
  3. Ask for help in your homeschool. You don't need to be a superhero. If you struggle with any part of your homeschool and want some fresh ideas, contact a Sonlight Curriculum Advisor at no charge, or post on the free Sonlight forums.
  4. Ask for help around the house. If you're feeling swamped, brainstorm ways to lighten your load in your non-homeschool duties. Perhaps you could teach your kids to do more chores. Maybe your spouse could cook dinner one night a week. Could your older students work more independently in some subjects? You might even hire a high school student to be a "mother's helper" and watch the kids at your house once a week while you organize, work or relax. Asking for help doesn't mean you're weak, just wise.
  5. Read and learn together with your children. Don't know everything your kids are supposed to learn this year? That's OK! You'll learn alongside them and gain incredible knowledge as you go. It's wonderful to say, "I don't know, but let's look it up together." You get to model the joy of lifelong learning.
  6. Set goals. If you haven't already done so, write down some goals for the school year. When daily progress seems slow, long-term goals are key. If you write down physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual goals for each of your children now, you'll have something to evaluate at the end of the year. You'll be amazed at how they grew. (Read more on setting homeschool goals.)
  7. Keep the long view. I love being a mom, but I don't love everything I've had to deal with as a mom. I loved homeschooling, but I didn't love everything about homeschooling. In reality, there's not a job in the world where you'd love every single aspect. So keep the long view and remind yourself that there is no job more significant or important than raising and teaching the children God has given you.

Be encouraged as you adventure into the new year. I believe that God has equipped you to teach your children. We are here to help. You can do it!

Blessings to you and yours,
Sarita

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Get Your Free Off-Road Encounters Welcome Kit

Do your kids like stickers, pins, maps?

I'm not exactly a kid anymore, but I was excited when my Off-Road Encounters welcome kit arrived in the mail. If you haven't signed up to be part of this year's giving project, do so now. It's free, easy, and there is no obligation to give. The video series starts on Monday. Register today so your kids can get their stuff in time for the launch.

Off-Road-Welcome-Kit
Off-Road Encounters Welcome Kit

Looking at the map, I was impressed with all the places we'll be visiting.

But then I read the email I got about Off-Road Encounters this morning and I was reminded that we're starting this journey in places I've only read about in the Bible. How exciting to visit these far-off locations that are, at the same time, somewhat familiar... and to see the need for the Gospel to renew this part of the world so tied to Scripture!

If you've already signed up, please continue to pray for this project. May hearts and minds be drawn to Christ, both at home and abroad, because of our involvement in this opportunity.

Thank you! I am so excited to see what God does as we partner together to see the Good News of Jesus brought to those who do not yet know Him as Savior and Lord!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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More Than Just Good Enough

I fight boxes that seek to define. I try to stay outside "the mold." I actively work to not keep up with any Joneses. And I seek to encourage my children to be who they are, not who I think they should be.

A lot of this stems from the way I was raised growing up homeschooled with Sonlight. My mom will have to be the one to explain how she did it.

Through the years I did band and karate, AWANA and swimming. I practiced and memorized. Some things I was good at, others not so much. "You swim because you love it," was my mom's refrain, not because I was successful and could win. I never was told, encouraged, or pushed to "be better," "try harder."

So, this is what I fight in my generation of parenting: the urge to put my kids in everything so that they will have the best chance of success. The urge to panic when they appear behind in one aspect of life or school. The urge to compare.

My children are who they are. They are created in God's image; they are their own people. They have different skills than I do, and each other. As they grow they will succeed with ease at some things and likely never master other skills in life. And that is more than okay.

That does not make them behind. It doesn't make me a bad teacher. It doesn't make them failures at life or mean I've held them back from the greatness they could become. Being who they are is more than good enough.

Kids-and-Messy-House
My Chaotic and Blessed Life

I sit at the pool and listen to a mom worry about her 11 month old not walking and her fear that he is failing. To this mom I want to say, "Look at your son! He is fine. He is just taking his time. He is moving and growing and being loved and held. He will walk when he's ready."

I compliment a mom about how cute her 2 year old daughter's voice is when she says big words and hear a smug, "Yes, she's very advanced." To this mom I want to say, "This was not a comparison! This is not a critique of every other 2 year old! Your daughter is cute; enjoy that, but that doesn't mean every other 2 year old saying 'jjs' or 'tomputer' is somehow less."

I want to combat our society that pits our children against one another -- that has standards and tests and rankings for every stage, and event, and thing our children do. Teach them as we go, yes. Have them "win" at walking, and talking, and color recognition, and ballet, and math, and reading level ... no.

My children are more than good enough. The education I'm giving them is more than good enough. Their childhood -- the love they are getting, the experience (albeit lots of playing) -- is more than good enough.

They will be great in their own right because they are who they are, not because I've forced them.

Until next time,
Jonelle

P.S. Speaking of children, we've added our 4th! Our first son, Jackson. He came by scheduled c-section and was our first with no complications. As his name means, God certainly has been gracious. Thank you all for your prayers. We are loving this season.

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The Apocalypse and Time with Your Kids

As a film guy, I like movies. I recently watched yet another apocalyptic film. I think it shed some light on what's behind the comment, "I could never spend all day with my kids!" You ready for this?

The movie isn't important. The setting is a little semi-self-sustaining cottage in the mountains run by a hippy and his wife. The "end of the world" happens when a computer thing goes batty, and now the house is full of six frenemies whose history and future provide the backdrop for the unfolding drama. We learn all about their past issues and current differences. Relationships form and others shatter. The close proximity, the stress of the situation, and the lack of connection and trust make certain interactions incredibly abrasive.

You've experienced that, right? In your homeschool, especially if you've "brought your kids home" after having them in school for a while, there's a certain tension. In many ways, you have catching up to do with your kids. I've detailed my own experiences with this when we had the girls for 9-months. I am all too aware of how close proximity, stressful situations, and a lack of connection and trust makes things abrasively miserable.

Mushroom-Cloud
The End of the World?

But the movie doesn't end there. Neither should we.

By the end of the film, a new fledgling community has sprouted. People work together. Grace has been extended and accepted. Smoke still billows in the distance, but the freshly tilled earth, the laughter of children, and the beauty of friendships shines across the screen.

So, yes, sometimes homeschooling can feel like an apocalypse. There are periods where we feel trapped by the work and uncomfortably close. But what we're building is, literally, the future of humanity. And for all the struggle, it's beautiful in the end.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

Anna's post But I Can't be with My Children All Day Long Every Day! inspired this one. Check it out.

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Interruptions

"A scramble." I assume that's an adequate description of some of your days -- maybe every day is a scramble. There is much to do in daily life, and you've added "teach my children" to the list. It's no wonder things can get a little hectic now and then.

'Now and then? You clearly haven't been to my house, Luke.'

True. The point remains: You're busy.

And then one of your kids does something that completely derails you and stops you in your tracks, like Tanya's little guy who stopped to admire a sprinkler. (Click the link. It's a brief and very nice story!)

Years ago, someone shared a story about running late and, while driving up to the train tracks, was asked by her son, "Can we stop and watch the train?" Confused, she said, "But there isn't a train right now."

"I know," he replied. "Can we wait for one?"

(I wish I knew which blog this came from; Google has failed me. If you recognize your story, or the blog from whence it came, please let me know so I can add some link-love!)

Train-Waiting
Train Waiting

What makes these interruptions so important -- and causes us to pause and consider -- is that they remind us of something. These aren't the annoyances of traffic or diaper blowouts. These are genuine glimpses of humanity that shift our focus to the people for whom we do all this crazy amount of work. These serendipitous breaks from routine let us see, once again, that our children are here and part of this madness. In the activity, we can lose sight of them. But without them we wouldn't be doing this.

Enjoy the interruptions. Relish the reminders. You're a mom -- or dad -- and all this work is for your kids and totally worth it. The occasional interruption is a blessing from God.

Have a great day; may you find encouragement in the scramble.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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