Spring Encouragement, Gardening with Kids, Free Curriculum & More: What’s Hot in Homeschooling This Week

Spring Encouragement, Gardening with Kids, Free Curriculum & More: What’s Hot in Homeschooling This Week

Whats Hot in Homeschooling

Spring may finally be here! Some of what’s hot this week is perfect for those of you with spring fever. Thank you to everyone who linked up last week! If you are featured this week, please grab a button from the bottom of the blog. Want to get even more hot homeschooling goodness? Follow the What’s Hot in Homeschooling board on Pinterest!

Spring Encouragement for Homeschool Moms

Jen at the Most Illustrious Mother offers us great advice for this time of year when many of us are just plain tired!

Homeschooling Before the Storm

Liz of The Hesitant Housewife helps us navigate the often scary transition that occurs after we take a break from school.

Ecclesiastes from a Homeschooling Mom’s Perspective

Homeschool Circus shares further encouragement for us based on Scripture. This would be great to print out and read instead of gorging yourself on chocolate!

30 Gardening Ideas and Activities with Kids

I’m not a gardener, but these activities are enough to have me considering some dirt time. KC Edventures has wheelbarrows full of ideas.

Ask a Next Generation Homeschooler About Curriculum

Ever wonder what a mom who was homeschooled would use to teach her own children? Wonder no longer! The moms at NextGen Homeschool share their experiences.

Guest Hollow

Speaking of curriculum, few things are more exciting than the word FREE. Guest Hollow has made a variety of curricula (history, science, math) available at no charge. I’m particularly interested in the ancient history for next year as it can be used with Mystery of History (and also Story of the World).

Now it’s your turn! Link up what’s hot in your homeschool this week. Link to this post or use the What’s Hot button on the bottom right.

read more
One Word Extreme

One Word Extreme


It’s become popular to choose one word to focus on for the upcoming year, especially among bloggers. Last year, I chose Extreme because I thought it was funny. Put the word “extreme” in front of something and it not only sounds silly; it sells. The book company my husband represents can tell you that.  In fact, it’s so effective that I decided to change my title to include it.

I also chose Extreme because I’m pretty much an extremist. I loved having one child, so I had six. I did great with natural labor, so I had a baby at home. I got an extreme amount of education and then ditched my career to teach all my kids. I wrote a book in 3 months. I did an extreme diet for 8 years. I went from being an ardent feminist to being very traditional. Those who know me best are probably itching to tell you about my other extremes. There are some extremes I regret and others I don’t.

Extreme Encouragement

It’s against the rules to have two words or I would choose Extreme Encouragement. Why? Because I still think it’s funny and I really mean it. I want to be extremely encouraging this year. My goal is to encourage people every single day. I am having a great time trying to find new people to encourage. It’s not as much fun to encourage the people you know who are extremely annoying, but I’m encouraging them too. (Don’t worry if I’ve encouraged you; it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re annoying, but it doesn’t hurt to consider it, right?).

In the interest of being extremely encouraging, I started a new blog (of course!) solely for the purpose of encouraging others. I encourage authors and bloggers by linking to their sites and readers by giving them uplifting quotes, Scriptures, stories, and challenges. I recently shared with The Inspired Day‘s readers the power of one word to encourage others. One word can be extremely encouraging.

Extreme Love

I was driving back to college after a visit home. It was much harder to be away from my family than I’d thought. After months of studying, I loved having my mom’s homemade cooking, being around to get teased by my dad, and seeing my brothers and boyfriend. I was sad as I started on the four-hour trip back on a desolate highway. My mom had put a plate of leftovers together for me. It was one of those nice, microwavable sectioned plates with a cover. I had it on the passenger seat next to me. I stared at it (I was not risking my life as there was no one else on the road) and saw there was a little slip of paper in one of the sections. I pulled it closer and through the condensation on the cover, I could read the one word written on it: Love.

I really bawled then. I wanted to go right back home, but at the same time, I was encouraged to keep going. I was loved. It was just one word, but it was so much more. My mom was showing me that everything she did for me was for love. This year, even though the one-word thing has gotten a little extreme, that’s what I want to do. Like the Savior who went to extremes for you and me, I want whatever I do to be summed up in one precious word: Love.

Do you have a word for the year? What is it and why?

P.S. I’d like to thank Melanie of Only a Breath for making my one-word button. She’s so generous and doesn’t she have a beautiful first name? 🙂



read more
How to Get More of What You Want

How to Get More of What You Want


You keep telling yourself to try harder and you’ll succeed. You feel like you’re going out of your way for people, but you’re unappreciated.  You write a blog post and get no comments. You’re not getting what you want and it’s frustrating.

Fortunately, Zig Ziglar was right. You CAN get more of what you want by helping others get what they want. Here’s how.

Know What You Want

I recently went through Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course and discovered what I really wanted from my own writing:


Often I spent a considerable amount of time writing for this blog, but got very few comments. Meanwhile, I was taking a minute every morning to share a quote or Scripture on Facebook and I was getting what I wanted. Several people consistently told me that they really enjoyed my updates.

Know What Others Want

I realized that I was getting the feedback I wanted because I was giving my readers what they wanted: quick-to-read encouragement. After reading Zig Ziglar’s superb book, Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can’t Wait to Live, I asked myself how I could get even more of what I wanted by helping people get what they wanted. I was in the shower when I got my answer.

Start a blog called The Inspired Day.

I toweled off and discovered the domain name was available. I’ve got more than enough experience starting blogs, so I had it up and running in no time!

Get What You Want

I thought I had the perfect formula for getting what I wanted. I would write brief, inspiring blog posts and I would get more feedback, especially on Facebook. So far, it’s working as I hoped it would. But the biggest surprise has been getting what I want offline, too.

Encourage one another daily… Hebrews 3:13

Before I started the new blog, I didn’t realize that the Bible tells us to encourage one another every day. I felt the Lord was calling me to commit to encouraging someone every day and to record what happened. I call this the Random Act of Encouragement Challenge. It’s changed my life dramatically in just a few weeks. Not only am I getting more positive feedback then ever, but I’m able to deal with crazy-making people so much better.  It seems when you really commit to encouraging these people, they’re too shocked to say anything rude.

I can’t wait to share more of my experiences with the challenge in a talk called Secrets of the Spirit Lifters at the Women’s Day of Renewal on March 9, 2013 in Collinsville, Illinois. I would love to see you there!

If you would enjoy having daily inspiration in your inbox, I hope you’ll subscribe to The Inspired Day. As part of your subscription, you’ll receive access to the 13 in ’13 Challenge–a brief Bible study based on Nehemiah that can change your life in less than two weeks. If you’re on Facebook and would like to get encouragement in your news feed, please like The Inspired Day and you will. Twitter users can follow me here, Pinterest users here, and if you’re a Christian writer who would like encouragement, please join the Christian Bloggers Conversation group on Facebook.

Thank you

So many of you have been an encouragement to me over the years by commenting, liking my posts on Facebook, sending me email, or just being a great friend. You’ll never know how much that means to me. I am recommitted to encouraging homeschoolers and Christians who want saner living through Psychowith6. God bless you in the coming year!

What type of person is the most difficult for you to encourage?

read more
How to Beat the Baby Gender Blues

How to Beat the Baby Gender Blues

Mom to be

Twelve years ago I gave birth to my third son. In my heart of hearts, I knew he was a boy before the doctor said so. What I didn’t know was how much I would be affected by the knowledge that I would never have a daughter.

My husband and I wanted two to three children when we got married. When boys number one and two arrived, I assumed baby number three would be a girl. I was the oldest with two brothers. Every family I knew growing up either had both genders or all girls. The baby dolls I played with were girls. I never seriously considered that I would have an all-boy family. Until that’s what I had.

The Truth is Taboo

I knew immediately that I couldn’t tell a soul that while I was crazy about my beautiful, healthy newborn son, I was sad about the daughter I would never have. If I were honest about how I felt, people would accuse me of not being grateful for my children or not trusting God or not even being a good mother. After all, there were women in China abandoning babies of the less-preferred gender, weren’t there? To say that I wished for a daughter in addition to my incredible sons was a sin. And so I was silent and I grew very, very depressed.

One thing we know from studying veterans of wars and victims of crime is that if hurting people don’t express what they’re feeling, they are at risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and worse. As I continued to deny my feelings, the stress I was under in parenting three boys ages three and under escalated.

Thankfully, I found a group of women online who felt like I did–women who, like me, assumed they would have a child of both genders, but didn’t. Also, like me, they wrestled with guilt for feeling as they did and with the unwritten rule that you didn’t talk about how you felt. As I got to know these mothers, I learned two things that are important for mothers with the baby gender blues:

  1. You have to talk about it. You might not be able to tell your mother, your in-laws, or even your best friend, but there is another mother out there who knows what you’re going through. Be honest with her about how you feel.
  2. Let go of the guilt. Needing time to adjust to a different plan than you envisioned is not wrong.  In fact, the more guilty you feel, the longer the adjustment time.

Others’ Comments are Unkind

When I thought I was adjusting well to the idea that I wouldn’t have a daughter, someone would say something that would set me back. Here are just a few of the things I heard and what I thought:

  • I just can’t imagine not having my daughters. (She thinks my life will be awful without one.)
  • I just don’t see you being the mother of a daughter. (I’m not good or girly enough to have a daughter.)
  • I just got lucky having a girl after having boys. (I’m not lucky.)
  • That is so, so sad that you don’t have a girl. (There’s no bright side.)
  • Boys don’t take care of their parents. (I’ll be lonely in my old age.)
  • You only get to be involved in weddings and with grandkids with your daughters. (I’ll be left out of my kids’ lives.)

With the help of friends who experienced similar unkind comments, I learned two more things that can help mothers with baby gender blues:

  1. People say stupid things that simply aren’t true, even if they believe them. I was blessed with a very close relationship with my mother-in-law. I knew that God willing, I could be close to daughters-in-law, too. I also knew families of all grown boys who took great care of their elderly mother and I knew grandmas with only sons who were very close to their grandkids. Look for the exceptions to these ridiculous rules. You’ll find them.
  2. People often have ulterior motives for what they say. People who are jealous of you will use what they suspect is a disappointment to their advantage. People who are hurting about their own family will often want the company of your misery.  Consider the source. Are the people who love you best encouraging you? Listen to them.

My husband and I had three more children, the fifth a daughter. But having a daughter hasn’t changed my compassion for women with the baby gender blues. I remember that time in my life well.

To be supportive of a mother of one gender:

  • Don’t assume they’re upset. Not everyone is disappointed.
  • Don’t express sympathy. If you’re close, ask the mother how she feels about the baby’s gender and respond accordingly. If you’re not a confidant, don’t mention it.
  • Don’t tell her gender doesn’t matter. You’ll contribute to her guilt.
  • Compliment mom and baby. Tell her how beautiful her child is and what a great job she does in parenting.
  • Share positive examples. People who told me about adorable families with all boys were my heroes. My pediatrician made me smile when he said, “You’ll always be the queen.”
  • Use humor. When we learned that baby #4 was a boy, too, our brother-in-law said we might as well remove all the toilet seats. I should have taken his advice.

those who hope in me will not be disappointed. (Isaiah 49:23b)

While we may experience temporary disappointment in all aspects of life, we will never be disappointed in the God who loves us and will never leave us.

Has anyone said anything hurtful about the gender of your children or have you inadvertently said something to a parent with all boys or girls?



read more
The Motivating Power of Encouragement

The Motivating Power of Encouragement

A few weeks ago, a woman I had exchanged a couple of emails with, wrote that despite having hours of work to do, she had gotten caught up in reading a sample of my book, So You’re Not Wonder Woman, instead. She told me everything she loved about what she had read thus far and wrote, “You’re a great writer.”

At the time I received her email, I was meeting someone for lunch (a happy occasion), but it was all I could do to stop bawling. This dear lady had no idea that I had been wondering if I was wasting my time writing in a digital world that seems to have more writers than readers. We have corresponded quite a bit since then and she has become a treasure to me.

Photo Credit

My new friend isn’t just an encouragement to me as a writer, however. She’s an encouragement to me as a homeschooler and a Christian woman. How many times have I missed an opportunity to encourage a fellow home educator? Bloggers get more positive feedback than homeschoolers do. Our work is so trying at times, so vitally important, yet it goes mostly unnoticed. While I pray that whatever I write on this blog will be an encouragement to others, how much more effective can I be by giving genuine praise to a fellow blogger, tweeter, homeschooler, or sister in Christ?

My new friend had no idea that taking a few minutes to send me an email would motivate me to keep doing what God has called me to do. Please join me in utilizing the motivational power of encouragement by:

  • Commenting on a blog post you loved
  • Leaving a review for a book or product you appreciate
  • Replying to a tweet of someone you don’t know, but you’d like to bless
  • Telling a fellow homeschooler how you see her excelling
  • Sharing with your husband and kids the great qualities you see in them

Encouragement is like lifting someone up on your shoulders so they can do the work God has called them to do.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Want more encouragement? Check out these great links:

True Femininity

I Believe in You

Write a Note

Silver Boxes

P.S. I’d love to encourage you! Are you frustrated or just want someone to read what you write? Comment or shoot me an email and you’ll have some encouragement coming your way!

read more
DINO – Discouragement Is Not an Option

DINO – Discouragement Is Not an Option

I've experienced a disappointment this week, but DINO — Discouragement Is Not an Option. Why should you and I have Dino-like joy in spite of disappointment?

  • Disappointments create endurance. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2)
  • Disappointments create patience. being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, (Colossians 1:11)
  • Disappointments create understanding of the Scriptures. For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
  • Disappointments create empathy. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
  • Disappointments create faith. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:11-12)
  • Disappointments create hope. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23b)
  • Disappointments create kinship with Christ. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Cor. 1:5)
  • Disappointments create greater glory. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)


read more

Pin It on Pinterest