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Day 12 – Building Up, Not Tearing Down


Today I read a little blurb about common phrases to avoid saying. It was before I had even gotten out of bed or come downstairs to start the day. A friend shared it on Facebook and her title said something like “Teachers, please don’t say these things to my kids or ANYONE’S kids” and I thought, Huh. I bet I’ve said all of those. This morning. And so I read it. Fortunately, I had NOT said those things yet this morning…but they were almost all things I WOULD say at some point in the day. I would say them and I would KNOW the moment the words were out of my mouth that I should not have said them.

Interestingly, if anyone said these things to me, they would get the exact opposite reaction of what they were trying to accomplish. Why am I surprised that they’ve never worked for me? A few of them I silently congratulated myself and patted my own back…I didn’t say THAT to my kids or I realized the folly in that a few  years ago and quit saying that – go me! But then I quickly realized that was just my over-inflated ego, Pride, whispering in my head and quickly shut that down. Who was I kidding – myself?? I may not say ALL of these things but there are quite a few more I should add to the list!

I mention this list because I find myself wanting to say most of them to my pre-teen. Who – aside from the fact that he’s not actually thirTEEN – is a teenager. (And if he isn’t I’d love to compare notes because if this isn’t teenager-dom then I am DOOMED when it comes.)

I’ll just review a couple of the ones that I particularly wanted to use today…and see if you agree that while my intention is to get a positive reaction, I am in reality chipping away at his self-esteem and forcing confrontations when instead I could be coming alongSIDE him and HELPING him. (Don’t read “do his work FOR him”…read “help him figure out what he can do to get there.”)

  1. “You have potential but you don’t use it.”
  2. “I’m disappointed in you.”
  3. “I’m busy now.”

Now don’t get me wrong. There are a LOT MORE things that I could (and probably should) write here that I say and I shouldn’t. (For starters, how about “Why are we having this conversation AGAIN?!” or “Do you even listen to me? Ever?“) The author of this little article mentioned these three though, and so I’ll stick with those.

You have potential but you don’t use it. If someone told me this I’d punch them in the face. Well…maybe not, I’d like to think the Holy Spirit has been able to work enough in my heart that I’d NOT punch them in the face but…I’d sure want to. No promises though. Of course, what I want to communicate to my kid is that he can do SO MUCH MORE and I see SO MUCH potential in him. And I am communicating my frustration with what I view as wastefulness…but man alive. This sure isn’t going to encourage him to try harder. In fact, when I have said this to my son, I’ve instead watched as he melts inside. Like, turns inside out and melts right down like a puddle of butter. And then I watch in horror as I see what my callous words have done and quickly work EXTRA hard to build him back up. (And I don’t know about you, but when dealing with melted butter it takes a LONG time to get it to firm back up – and it’s never EVER quite the same. I pray often that God will somehow help my kids to forget the loose and unkind words I’ve said over the years – that they would not swirl around in their heads as they grow older.) I spend a good portion of my time apologizing to my kids for the things I have said and done – asking them to please forgive me and praying that they don’t carry it with them.

I’m disappointed in you. If I heard this from someone I loved and trusted I’d probably cry. Maybe initially yell at them or something … but eventually cry. Most likely because the truth is – they probably aren’t as disappointed in me as I AM DISAPPOINTED IN ME. When I point out to my kids that I’m disappointed in them they don’t jump up and say, “Oh man mom! Sorry you’re disappointed in us! Let’s try that again so you can be SUPER HAPPY with us!” You want to know what? That’s not the truth – I’m NOT disappointed in them. I’m often disappointed with the CHOICES they made. Or with something they SAID. Maybe even DID. But THEM? No. I’m not disappointed IN THEM. It carries the feeling that they have to work for my love – somehow my love and approval are tied in with WHO they are. No, WHO they are I could not be more satisfied with or possibly love more. I don’t agree with all of their choices – some of them I REALLY don’t agree with and sure, I’m disappointed that they made those decisions – but they are all opportunities for me to show them unconditional love WHILE I teach/disciple them.

I’m busy now. Enough said, right? I have to stop saying this. In the article the author mentions saying instead, “I’m very busy right now, but you are very important to me. Unless this is an emergency, let’s find a better time to talk. I really want to hear what’s on your mind.” It’ll take me five seconds longer to say something that will not crush their little soul in one second. Worth it.

Today gave me many, MANY opportunities to reflect on this article. All of it caused me to think long and hard on my words – and what it is that I actually want to accomplish with what I say. Words are SO INCREDIBLY powerful. When I was a kid I memorized LOTS of verses about the tongue because I had a SERIOUS problem with it. (My mom recognized early on that I would need these verses in my heart!) Thank GOD for His help in dealing with this very small but very powerful organ in my body!!

James 3:8 – But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Proverbs 21:23 – Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 12:18 – There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

James 3:5 – So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

Luke 6:45 – …”for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

James 3:10 – From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers (SISTERS), these things ought not to be so.

Proverbs 10:19 – When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.





Mercies – Day 8

I had a whole thing swirling in my head all day. How awesome the last couple days were. How awful today was. How quickly my prideful heart was humbled. How desperately I need the Lord’s help – and how this decision to homeschool our kids is quickly making me realize it more and more. Don’t get me wrong. I know I need him. I really do! But as in all things, we’ve got a routine and things get “normal” and I begin to think that I’ve actually “got this” on my own. I quickly forget how much I need His help.

Funny story: it’s been eight days. As of this morning I ACTUALLY thought to myself “I’ve got this.” Mental high-fives and all. (I am unashamedly just going to put it all out there – the ugliness of my heart – so please be gentle with me…..today certainly hasn’t felt gentle during in my prideful fall today!)

Yup, you guessed it. Three hours into today, at the early hour of 9:00, I was knocked off my prideful throne. Turns out you can build a pretty HIGH throne in just eight days. I fell really hard. And really fast. By 10am I was no longer patiently responding to the same question, asked four times. By 11am the frustration that I was feeling inside (at how HARD this all was, my frustrations with myself and the kids, how TIRED we all were) was beginning to bubble out in not so pretty ways. The look that I gave to the kids when they asked for something to eat. Again. The clenched-jaw answer I gave about why things need to be done correctly. (You know, the one where your anger SEETHES out of you and your eyeballs are probably bright red.) By Noon everyone had cried at least twice. OH yeah – and we DID start our day with a time to reflect on God’s Word, what He’s teaching us — even spent time praying. Turns out being “spiritual” does NOT equal a changed heart. Huh. Go figure. 😉

We broke for lunch – talked through the different theories of how the earth began, where we came from, what the Bible teaches…turns out that I’m a “strict” young earther. Huh – didn’t know there were degrees to which you could be a “young earther”…nor that there was such thing as a “young earther”… After lunch I gave up. Literally. Olivia and I were done for the day. The other two had spent so much time whining and moaning, I had spent far too long giving them dirty looks, and so I went to take a nap. Made them swear not to let O outside alone, no one in the pool, and I tucked myself in for a desperately needed nap.

Guess what! Naps don’t change hearts either! WHAAAT?! So being super spiritual (having a devotional time) didn’t change our hearts, yelling at each other didn’t change our hearts, taking a nap didn’t change mine…Humph. Today really WAS rough.

I type all of this out now to say that it truly is God who changes hearts. And we really do have to desire that change. Plugging in the Truth of God’s Word DOES help. Later today, two of my kids came to me with questions they had been mulling over all day – somehow God managed to pierce through the negativity of the day and reach their hearts. I certainly didn’t reach their hearts, God did. It didn’t happen DURING devotions – they weren’t the “secret ingredient” to a good day – but they DID matter. Also, spending time in God’s word certainly convicted ME as I sinned and sinned and sinned. Yup. Did you catch that? Big, fat sinner over here. Just in case you missed it in the paragraphs above…

But it is God who uses the time we spend with him, the hard falls from our lofty prideful thrones, the naps that we so desperately need, and then later tonight, he used the fellowship of other Believers who didn’t even know He was using them in my heart…it is God who changes hearts.

I knew as early as 9am that my heart was so desperately wrong. I fell hard and fast today but it wasn’t until tonight that I allowed God’s forgiveness and grace penetrate my stubborn, proud and deceitful heart. It wasn’t earlier in the day when my 6 year old whispered that she wished she was an orphan. That didn’t soften my heart – nope, did the opposite, I’m quite ashamed to say. It was later in the evening, after I’d pretended to have it ALL together around my friends and fellow Believers, when God was finally able to pierce through all of the muck to clearly reveal just HOW DESPERATELY I NEED HIM.

What’s the moral of this story? What’s the clincher? (Olivia and I discuss clinchers every day right now.)

I need Him. OH, I need Him. Every hour…I need Him.

I feel like there should be a verse in that song that says, “All of the times that I think I’ve got it all together, turns out You were helping me out and I SURE didn’t deserve it, and then I gave you no credit, and then You let me fall…but not too hard and not all the way. Because you love me and you show me undeserved love and grace and mercy and…oh, here you are, picking up the pieces of me…knitting me back together with Your Truths….I needed you and didn’t even know it.

Clearly I am not a song writer. But I am a sinner. Saved from my sin by the Grace of God, through faith in Jesus’s PERFECT sacrifice on the cross. Saved from having to do it on my own. Able to rest and let God be my everything. Let His patience, His love, His forgiveness, His grace…HIM work through me. HE’S GOT THIS. I’ve got nothing. Except I have it all. Because I have Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.

Day 5 – The First Week Ends

M & Tortoise  Day 5. One week. We did it! We survived! The house…not so much. But we are alive, we don’t hate each other, we learned some things, we kept a bunch of animals alive at the same time….and we had some fun! A win all around. Big thanks – no, ALL the thanks go to Jesus.:)We needed him every hour. And as He has promised, He was with us. We did stop several times this week and just prayed. Asked for help with our heart’s attitudes, for Jesus’ love towards each other (we ran out quickly some days), and for help being faithful and diligent. Really that’s just the tip of the iceberg, eh?

The highlight of the week was yesterday – we went on a field trip to the Reptile Discovery Center in Deland, FL. What fun! My love for reptiles has grown over theyears and I wanted to keep the Indigo Snake as much as I want to keep my chickens. Fortunately, Micah has some birthday money and HE really, REALLY wants to have a snake. So I don’t have to keep it. He’ll do it and I can just hold it and enjoy it. (I know, I know…I hear it….I’ll be the one taking care of the silly thing, huh?)

E & Tortoise    We toured the outside habitats – alligators, turtles, tortoises, lizards, etc – and then we went inside to the BLESSED AIR CONDITIONING. I don’t think I thank the Lord enough for air conditioning and I am NOT being sacrilegious. I am being totally serious. Inside was the serpentarium (like a herpetarium but only snakes?) and Olivia saw her first Black Mamba IN REAL LIFE. She hasn’t stopped talking about it.

We went to a live Snake Venom Extraction where they first let anyone who wanted to hold a snake. (The NON-venomous variety!) We held an albino Burmese Python, a pied Ball Python (Look that one up if you’ve never seen one – AMAZINGLY beautiful!) and an Indigo snake. OH they are my favorite! After this we watched as they extracted venom from about 6 different types of snake. One drop at a time from the Coral snake – a massive SPRAY of venom at a time from the Diamond-back Rattlesnake. PS – do not EVER EVER EVER mess with one of those. The amount of venom that shot out of that thing’s mouth was unbelievable. Lucky for the dummy that does mess with one – you’ll be in pain super fast but you’ll have several hours to get help. Sheesh. I have to say – the aggression of that snake and the SIZE of it makes me not regret killing the one we found here at the house. That thing was massive and any hint of regret I had left over is now gone…(shudder).

Anyway – the first week is down and I’m calling it a success. I haven’t *yet* threatened to send any of them to “real school” — although I’m a teensy bit afraid that if I were to, they would respond with, “PLEASE MOMMY, PLEASE!”

A few curriculum thoughts:

I LOVE Teaching Textbooks for math. The kids are killing it. They even keep accidentally calling it the “math game” because it’s on the computer. SCORE!

I love IEW’s Spelling Zoo – short, easy, not something I have to sit and call the words out for (because we have the CDs). Plus they are super motivated to spell them correctly because once they have two 100% tests in a row they are done for the week. So far no whining…

IEW’s The Primary Arst of Language: Writing and Reading – Loving this. I wish I’d used this last year and hadn’t wasted time with all of the things we DID use. (Handwriting Without Tears, “The Code” series, etc.) We’re reviewing/re-learning the letters phonetically (the sounds our languages use are phonemes and the written form of the sounds are phonograms). (Obviously I’m simplifying it…but it’s all really quite fascinating to me and I’m SUPER excited to learn more as we go along!)

So for instance:

ck is the phonogram for /k/ as in sock.

s is the phonogram for either /s/ as in this or /z/ as in is.

Anyway, this is awesome. We DID learn our letters and most of the sounds last year – but there was no real rhyme or reason to it and I felt like it was more of a shot in the dark and she just happened to get it right. One week in (granted, we’re building on what we learned last year – so that helps!) and I can see in her eyes that it’s REALLY CLICKING. I love seeing little brains “click”.

All of this to say – thanks for praying for us. (All 4 of you who read this – Mom and sisters!) I appreciate it more than you know and am super thankful for how this week went.:)I’m mostly writing this all down so I can re-read it when we’re having a discouraging day…to remind us of the “ups”!

It’s time to quit – daddy’s HOME from Boston for the weekend and we’re done with school for the week – I think we’ll go swim in the rain!

Day 2 – Home “what?”


Day 2 has come and is about to go. It taught me a few things.

1. Be more prepared. Pull yourself together the night before.

I learned this because I was blissfully asleep at 6:30 AM when my alarm clock (AKA my oldest son) bounced on my bed to inform me that the laptop he found downstairs wasn’t working. OF COURSE it wasn’t working. The only laptops around here are broken ones! (The Husband is a computer guy.) Micah had already been up, gotten dressed, had breakfast, finished his work from yesterday, did math for today….and was wondering what to do next.

WHAT THE WHAAAAAT??? Where did this child come from and WHERE has he been all of his life??:)Anyway, if I had things prepared the night before he probably would have finished it all before I’d gotten up to brush my teeth.

2. Don’t set expectations too high and BE FLEXIBLE.

I thought today we would add in some History. NOPITY-NOPE. I got so overwhelmed trying to figure out where all of the information was, who to give it to, how to manage three levels of the same curriculum…after a couple of “louder than silent” exhortations to my littles to “give me a minute” I kicked them all outside. “GET IN THE POOL AND DON’T COME BACK INSIDE UNTIL I SAY YOU CAN.” Also known as recess. And then I sat on Pinterest and collected myself.

3. Eat breakfast.

I didn’t do it – they were already up and both Micah and Ella had started working – so I jumped in with Olivia and off we went. By the time the whole “history” fiasco happened I was HANGRY. My own fault.

So I feel like today I learned a few things – win! Not sure if anyone else did. Oh no that’s not true! Micah and Ella learned not to drive a big heavy van in a sandy driveway – nearby a guy sat in the sand all afternoon because he’d gotten stuck. The old pieces of wood he borrowed from me weren’t enough to help dig him out so he had to wait all day for a big tow truck to come. Heavy van full of equipment > super soft driveway. Don’t do it dude. I think my day went better than his.

A New {Homeschooling} Adventure

Sometimes it helps to have a furry friend help when you’re reading.

Today was the start of having all three of my kids at home with me for school. Last year it was just the littlest and me – and I figured Kindergarten was a great grade to practice on. 😉 This year we have jumped in with both feet – shoot, I think we’ve actually just jumped off the high dive – this isn’t a little jump – and all three kids are home. That’s sixth grade, fourth grade and first grade. Phew!

A big contributing factor in our decision to try this is the Husband’s work schedule. He’s often out of town for a couple weeks of the month (but home on the weekends – YAY!) and we are hoping that we can use some of his work trips as excuses to travel and explore the States as a family WHILE doing our classes. Bonus: we get to see Dad more if this works out and that’s a DEFINITE plus!

So today. Monday, August 17. Day 1.

My intention was to do a “soft start” this week – keeping it as stress free and fun as possible – AND to give myself a week to figure out how on EARTH I’m going to teach three kids/three grades all in the same day. We woke up to realize that when Olivia fell yesterday it was maybe not as harmless as we thought when we went to bed. She showed up for breakfast still protecting her arm, not using it and crying whenever I manipulated her hand or made her squeeze my hand. SO, off to the doctor!

A few X-rays later (“Mom! I DO have a skeleton in my arm!”) and a visit with a doctor who *surprise!* was from a sweet family we knew at our church several years ago…and Olivia’s arm is MAYBE broken.:)In order to give it a week to see how it’s doing, she was given a little splint to wear. Oh the tears! She had SO been hoping she’d get a cast and that everyone (especially Ella) could sign it. I think her tears were mostly because she felt like she’d let Ella down…

Since the morning was filled with excitement we headed home and had lunch. My sweet grandpa beat us home and he and Micah spent the rest of the day working on my chicken coop. That man has put probably more time into than me now! He was concerned they were too hot and did some fixes I hadn’t gotten to yet. Love that guy – he seriously is the greatest example of a selfless and giving man who loves God SO much that God’s love just pours right out of him into everyone’s lives around him.

While the men sweated Ella and Olivia and I did some writing and spelling. Phew! A few tears – it was harder than Ella expected it would be – but she did it and she was proud of herself. Ella and Micah are doing IEW’s Student Writing Intensive course and there’s a definite learning curve. For Olivia we’re using IEW’s PAL Reading and Writing – we had a good time but it was LONG. I’ve got to trim that down a bit of I’m going to lose her.:)

Later this evening we decided to get some math over with and get Micah caught up on some spelling. Oh the teenage years are coming HARD and fast! The speed with which we can go from happy-go-lucky to it’s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it puts my head in a spin. And yes…we’ve got TWO of them doing it. Turns out math brings out the “end of the world” in both of them.:)BUT – props to Teaching Textbooks because I didn’t have to teach it.:)They watched the lesson on the video, did some practice work and then the assignment. No “but MOOOOoooommm…” because I wasn’t the leader. 😀

7:30 we finished school for the day – probably did a total of 2 hours with each kid and only 2-3 subjects BUT that was the purpose of this soft start, right? We’ll figure it out as we go and hopefully next week use a much more “normal” schedule.

Now I’m off to celebrate with a ridiculously large bowl of ice cream and a book. Or maybe just go to sleep. (I will say that I have enjoyed the day immensely — I know there will be LOTS of days ahead when the opposite is true BUT in spite of today’s circumstances God blessed us with His presence and some special, teachable moments together.)


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