Category Archives: For the Love of Learning

18 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

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Recently, I was asked by a dear friend from Colorado to contribute a few thoughts for a special scrapbook that she was creating for her soon-to-be 18-year-old daughter and recent high school graduate. I was deeply honored. I’ve known this delightful young woman since she was about five years old. And last summer, she served as an intern at our church in the Worship & Arts Ministries.

As I put pen to paper, I reflected upon what I wish I would have known when I was 18-years-old. Those things I wish someone would have told me in order to be better prepared to navigate this new journey called Adulthood. Now, there may be some points on this list for which you don’t agree, but that’s okay. Not to mention, I’m sure I missed a few things, here or there. What might you add to the list? 

18 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

(in no specific order)

1. Set various types of goals: personal, spiritual, vocational, financial, travel, educational. Make them manageable. But at the same time, a little hard work is good for you, too!

2. If you don’t take anything away from these ramblings, please be sure to really understand and embrace this reality: You are and always will be enough, and you are absolutely never too much.

3. Begin now to establish healthy habits in order to take care of the temple that God gave you to steward: drink lots of water, eat fruits and veggies, get outdoors and enjoy physical movement, and go to bed at a reasonable and consistent time.

4. There’s a great big world out there: Go discover it! Seriously, take every opportunity that you can to see the world that God designed, meet the people He created, listen to their stories, eat their food, and take in the beauty of it all. It’s absolutely glorious!

5. Self-care is not selfish. No matter what season or stage of life, this is important. Doesn’t matter if you are a college student, a young adult, newly married, first-time mom, or a senior citizen, prioritize self-care. Take time for yourself, take care of yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it. (Check out Renewed by Lucille Zimmerman.)

6. Be purposeful about finding mentors: faith mentors, relationship mentors, even vocational mentors. One bit of advice: don’t ask folks to be your mentor. Usually, they’ll say no, because it sounds like too much work and/or incredibly time-consuming. Consider inviting them out for coffee to ask three pointed and specific questions. You might pose questions about their business/work practices; their successes and/or failures; their most trusted relationship advice or parenting tips; or their personal faith and spiritual formation practices. Depending upon their desired presence in your life, there’s many ways to engage in this type of connection. Face-to-face coffee chats are ideal. Conversely, much of my mentoring has happened via email or over Skype chats. Be respectful of their time, but learn all you can from them!

7. Establish and maintain healthy personal boundaries in all areas of your life. Trust me, there most definitely will be times when others can’t/don’t/won’t understand or respect yours. No worries. They are your boundaries.  (There’s a great series of books by Henry Cloud & John Townsend on this very topic. Highly recommended reading.)

8. People over productivity. Period. People are always more important. Invest in what matters most.

9. Be an engaged listener. Actively listen to what people are saying. Not merely to respond with your own thoughts, ideas, or opinions, but to intentionally hear what they are sharing.

10. Don’t merely make God a priority, but realize that He is absolutely everything. Make Him the center of all that you do. And understand that your spiritual journey won’t look like anyone else’s. Intentionally practice various spiritual disciplines, not just reading the Bible and praying. Consider implementing times of silence and solitude into your life’s rhythms, as well as purposefully practicing Sabbath.

11. Don’t neglect friendships for dating relationships. No matter how much you love him or how amazing the dating relationship may be, make sure to maintain your friendships. Cultivating a tribe of female friends and creating time and space to engage and invest in those friendships is essential during every season and stage of your life.

12. Don’t allow various media outlets to determine your sense of style, beauty, or self-worth. Be the unique individual that God create you to be. Like wearing stripes with your polka dots? Well, then, go right ahead! Don’t allow a number on a scale to hold you hostage or determine your self-worth. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it’s reflected from the inside out.

13. Being married is not the ultimate goal for a Christian, male or female, following Jesus is. Pursue this relationship wholeheartedly and unapologetically. Unfortunately, the American church has not communicated an appropriate message regarding singleness. If many years down the road, you find yourself single, please understand there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are not less-than, or second-class. And if this has been or ever is communicated to you, it is a lie from the pit of Hell.

14. In the same light, if it is God’s plan for you to get married, pursue someone who loves God more than you, makes you laugh, encourages you to dream big dreams, and definitely someone who views marriage through the lens of partnership and values teamwork.

15. Be a lifelong learner. No matter how much you know, you don’t know as much as you think you do. There’s always more to learn.

16. Financially, always live below your means. Even if you can afford more, bigger, or better, always ere on the side of frugality and generosity. Personally, I like how John Wesley puts it, “Gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”

17. “NO” is a complete statement, a gracious response and a final answer. And it can be said without hesitation, explanation, or defensiveness–just a simple, “No.”

18. Learn from your mistakes, because there will be mistakes. Oftentimes, our greatest successes are borne out of our biggest failures. Don’t be afraid to try something new, to leap into the unknown. You don’t always have to have a plan. Take risks, even if they are more on the calculated side. But, mostly, enjoy life! 

[Word of the Year 2015] FREE

For several years now, I’ve selected a Word of the Year. Last year, my word was STILL.  However, in reality and in practice, 2014 was more like a stand-firm-and-don’t-give-up-or-give-in sort of year. In some ways, I suppose that is a variation of the meaning of  the word ‘still’. Nevertheless, it was not the connotation or  the interpretation that I had expected or anticipated at the beginning of 2014.

Up until yesterday, I hadn’t really given much thought to a Word of the Year for 2015. That is until my friend, Sarah Bessey, posed a question on her Facebook page. Then, I took a few moments to ponder what it might be. As I recalled the events and experiences of 2014 and began to identify the areas where I would like to see growth, development and transformation in 2015, one specific word kept appearing before my mind’s eye.

What was the word? Well, it was…

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The word free has a variety of meanings. Here are the ones that stood out to me:

-not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes.

-release from captivity, confinement, or slavery.

-not controlled by obligation or the will of another: felt free to go.

-not bound, confined, or detained by force.

-not obstructed, restricted, or impeded.

-not taken up with commitments or obligations.

-to make free; set at liberty; release from bondage, imprisonment, or restraint.
to release, as from restrictions.

For me, there is so much, personally and professionally, that is wrapped up in this one word: free from fear; free to be my authentic and unique self; free to move forward in my pastoral calling; free to dream big dreams; free to make mistakes; free from perfection and control; free from other people’s opinions, unrealistic expectations, etc., etc.

So, my friends, 2015 will be a year in which I embrace freedom in all areas of my life. I am excited to see where this leads me in the coming year, what I will learn and discover about myself and how God will use all of this to transform my life and to fulfill his purposes.

In the coming months, I’ll be sharing more about what I’m learning and discovering about my 2015 Word of the Year: FREE. Already, I’ve found a few songs that relate to this word and theme (links provided, take a listen): (Come and Fill My Heart by Avalon, Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave, Free to Be Me by Francesca Battistelli, Break Every Chain by Kim Walker, Where the Spirit of the Lord Is (acoustic version) by Chris Tomlin, and Freedom Reigns by Jesus Culture.

As well, I’ve been reflecting upon various passages in the Bible along with specific verses, which I hope to memorize over the course of the next year.

It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us FREE. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1)

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be FREE.
But do not use your FREEDOM to indulge the flesh;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.

(Galatians 5:13)

So if the Son sets you FREE, you will be FREE indeed.
(John 8:36)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is FREEDOM.

(2 Corinthians 3:17)

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you FREE.
(John 8:32)

Live as FREE people,
but do not use your FREEDOM as a cover-up for evil;
live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone,
love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

(1 Peter 2:16-17)

What about you? Do you choose a Word of the Year? If so, please share in the comment section or provide a link to your blog.
Happy New Year!

The Secret Life of a Pastor’s Wife: Gimmie A Break!

Before you read this, please know this is NOT about me, personally; my family, specifically; or anyone you think you may know in your own sphere of influence. It’s written generically out of my sincere concern for and extended time spent in conversation with many friends in ministry, specifically pastors’ wives. This is the first installment of a new series entitled, “The Secret Life of a Pastor’s Wife”! 

how-i-see-myself
For nearly two decades, I have personally served in vocational ministry in various positions in and outside of the local church and para-church organizations. Fifteen of those years have been spent married to a man who is also a minister. And after I said, “I DO”, I was branded with the lovely label of pastor’s wife! Whether I asked for it, wanted it, liked it, or not, it was now mine.

Over the years, I have discovered this label comes with a lot of baggage in the form of expectations: those we place upon ourselves and those placed upon us by others. But this label also comes with a gift: a sisterhood of sorts. A unique group of women, many of whom I am honored to call dear friends and Soul Sisters. Some of whom are hurting, and who have been deeply wounded by folks who should be extending grace, instead of grudges. It shouldn’t be this way, especially in the church alongside of other Christians.

So, I’m stepping out on a limb with this topic, but it’s necessary because many of my friends are in a place where they are lonely and feel as if they have no where to turn. Because the place where they should be able to turn, the church, is the very place their wounds have been inflicted. If you attend a church, if you call yourself a Christ-follower, may I please make a suggestion: Give your pastor’s wife a break!

Seriously, cut her some slack. Let go of the preconceived ideas of who you think she should be and what you think she should be doing, and simply allow her to be herself. She may disappoint you. She may offend you. She may not be everything you think a pastor’s wife should be. But guess what? She is a child of God with her own unique gifts, passions and callings that may have little, if anything, to do with the expectations you place upon her or the job to which her husband has been hired to do at your church. For many pastors’ wives, it seems that instead of being seen as individuals, we are only seen because of who we happen to be married to. Sound like fun, huh? 🙂

Contrary to my unique life, where BOTH my husband and I are ordained pastors and serve on pastoral staff of a local church, most pastors’ wives are not employed by the church in any capacity or position. And they simply see themselves as merely another church member, who desires to serve the church as God directs. In fact, many pastors’ wives have their own careers and are not personally called to vocational ministry at all. However, these women sincerely desire to be supportive, loving, and encouraging wives to their pastor-husbands. As I would hope any wife would desire to be, regardless of her husband’s vocation. That’s good for the relationship, eh?

My pastor-husband and I have come to the realization that all relationships require risk-taking, purposeful and strategic investment and at times making the decision to initiate difficult discussions. Our marriage relationship, various family relationships, and, of course, friendships are made up of imperfect humans and, therefore, they tend to be M-E-S-S-Y. Over the years, we have learned (and, to be honest, are still learning) how to navigate friendships both in and outside of the church. But we can honestly say, we’ve met some of our dearest and trusted friends at the various churches where we have served. Even though we are pastors.

Personally, our family is in a very unique situation. We are acutely aware of this reality. You see, we are serving on staff of a church where we’ve previously served (nearly 15 years ago), and are living in a community where we have lived for nearly ten years (with a move out-of-state in between appointments). Consequently, we have a developed network of friends in and outside of the church where we serve. That’s not typical!

And most pastors’ wives don’t have this luxury. Many move to places they may not have personally chosen, but know it’s where God directed their pastor-husband and, consequently, their family. Routinely, their husband’s job takes them to new communities where they know absolutely no one. Not a soul. And they feel all alone. Instantly, the are installed as a member of a new church with folks who have attended for years and years, if not decades and decades. Don’t get me wrong: It’s great to have longevity of attendees in churches. But it’s not always easy for the new kid to find their place. Sounds awesome, huh?

So for those of you who attend church, can I share a little secret with you? Pastors’ wives are some of the loneliest people in your congregations. Why? Remember when you were a little kid and had to walk into a new class at school, or ask to play with a new group of kids on the playground? That was hard. Well, it’s hard as an adult, too. Maybe even more so. And, especially, when you are walking into your husband’s place of employment week after week, Sunday after Sunday. A place where everyone knows you, but you don’t really know anyone. And the reality is, they really don’t know you either. They simply know who you are: the pastor’s wife.

It would seem making friends is easy, but that’s not really the case for pastors’ wives. You see, the definition of friend takes on a new meaning. Seriously, it does. As a pastor’s wife, you wonder if your definition is the same as someone else’s. Or if the person who’s befriended you has ulterior motives? Or when, not if, people will begin talking behind your back because of something you wore to church (or what your kids wore)? And pastors’ wives always have an internal dialogue going on inside their heads. Usually, it’s wondering how (or if) they should address the attacks made against their pastor- husband? (And yes, we know we should keep our mouths shut. Still, gosh darn it, it hurts!) So, if you ever see us with one of those permanent smiles on our face, well, it’s probably because we are trying our best to use our filter. And not say something stupid that could get our husband fired. Or, sometimes, it could be there to keep from crying because someone just said something astronomically hurtful.

Or have you ever had a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, followed by this question: Is this friend going to leave the church disgruntled over a decision made or because they are dissatisfied with the pastor’s leadership? The pastor who happens to be your husband. Or had to ask yourself the question, “Do I have enough money to go out with the ladies from church AND still be able to afford childcare for our date night this month?” Then, spend days agonizing over the decision because you know the church ladies already think you are rather stand-offish. Surely, they will not understand if  you say no. But the monthly date night that you budget for is a lifeline for you and your husband. You both need it. What do you do?

These all questions that I have had, personally, or that other pastors’ wives have shared with me, specifically. And there are more. Many, many more.

And as crazy as it sounds: There are many pastors’ wives who have been instructed not to have friends within the church where their husbands serve. (Now, I won’t even tell ya what I think about that, but I am sure you can imagine!) Think I am joking? I’m not! Totally serious! There are actual courses taught at some seminaries and bible colleges, specifically about how to be a pastor’s wife! And, heck no! I didn’t take those. But I’m sure those of you who know me in real life already knew that!  I’m a square-peg-round-hole-sorta-gal, who has a name, a job of my own, and a life outside of church! And I my pastor-husband supports and loves this about me!

But seriously, dear friends, church attenders, and fellow sinners of which I am a mighty fine one. (Praise the Lord for forgiveness and grace, right!?), if your pastor’s wife comes off aloof, you do know there is more to the story.  There is always more to the story. (And you may never know the entirety of her story and that’s okay!) Perhaps, she has been wounded. Or maybe she’s going through a difficult season in her marriage, as a parent, with extended family, or at her own place of employment. Or maybe she’s duking it out with God over some significant spiritual question or doubts. Pastors’  families are not immune to heartaches or trials, ya know?

Or maybe your pastor’s wife is simply scared. Or shy. Or exhausted. I mean, does your husband’s job require that spouses attend most, if not all, work-related events? Or expect them to cover a position in the event that someone else doesn’t show up? Yea, I didn’t think so! And for the record, my pastor-husband has never and would never expect that craziness of me. But some pastors do AND, worse, yet, some churches do. Please don’t be that church!

And if you are that church that expects the pastor’s wife to be at every event, function, and festivity: For the love of everything good and holy, help a sista out. Heck, help a brotha, too! Consider covering the costs of childcare, travel or registration fees. Because you do realize the pastor’s wife is not an employee of the church. Therefore, she is not being paid for the time spent at those events and functions you expect her to attend. And lemme tell ya: there are many, many events she’s expected to attend.

Honestly, most pastors’ families are not able to budget for all of these extraneous expenses and unexpected expenditures. And it puts major stress and strain on a marriage! (Trust me, I know about this one!) If your pastor’s wife is not attending all of the events, retreats, or gatherings, this just might be the reason. Or she might actually have an honest-to-goodness work commitment at her actual job! And that could entail anything from changing a kid’s stinky diaper, wiping a snotty nose, sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer screen, or educating some of today’s smartest and brightest brains! Or, perhaps, she just needed a mental health day. Nothing wrong with that!

But being a pastor’s wife is not a job. It just isn’t. Please don’t make it that. Don’t treat your pastor’s wife like she’s her husband’s secretary (Unless, of course, she is.) Or assume she’s privy to the inner-workings of the church, such as the details of board meetings, private counseling sessions, or the logistics of the many church events.  On Sunday mornings, she would love to simply be warmly greeted and told, “It’s so good to see you at church today. We are very glad you are here!”

If you know a pastor’s wife, treat her like a normal person. Be friendly. Pray for her. NO! I mean, REALLY pray for her and her family. None of this gossip-via–prayer-business.  Get on your knees and go to battle for your pastor, his or her spouse and their children. They face battles of which you have no clue and probably never will. And for the record: they know all about the permanent bull’s eye on their backs. It’s a constant reminder that everything they do is seen, heard and meticulously discussed by others.

Who is your pastor’s wife? Well she’s many things. She’s a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a (insert hobby enthusiast), a (insert career choice here), but mostly, She’s simply a girl, married to a boy, and she earnestly loves God and is fiercely searching for her unique place in his enormous family. Please let her discover that place on her own without any additional pressure. Trust me, she already places enough pressure on herself.

And to my Secret Tribe of Pastors’ Wives and Women in Ministry, I love you. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet many of you face-to-face. But for the ones who I don’t meet this side of heaven, know that you are regularly in my thoughts and prayers. And can I encourage you with a word: Don’t strive to be the best pastor’s wife you can be. Instead, simply press on in this journey towards Christ. Striving only to know him more while learning how to live and love others as he does.

I leave you with a passage from Philippians 3: 12-21 (The Message):

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

17-19 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

Change: When the Teachers Get Schooled

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Jon and I are always looking for ways to be more engaging as teachers and more effective as time managers. During this school year, we have experienced several new realities, personally and collectively, which have impacted our work and home school schedules. As such, towards the end of the year, we were on information overload. And we knew a change needed to occur.

Since we both have untraditional work schedules (Wed.-Sun.), but also share the home schooling responsibilities of our kids, our home school week is a bit creative. We school Tuesday-Saturday (catch up day) and observe Mondays as our Family Sabbath. On this day, there’s no school, no work, but plenty of rest, reflection and recreation. After a bit of discussion, we made a simple adjustment in our home school routine.

The changes we made were small, but significant. We decided, parents would no longer teach every subject, everyday. On Tuesdays, Jon would teach a complete week’s worth of Science and Geography (book work, field trips, experiments, etc.) Leaving Language Arts (Grammar, Writing, Spelling & Literature) for me to teach Wednesday-Friday. At the beginning of each week, the kids were given an assignment sheet which listed items for which they were solely responsible. In addition to their daily chores, they were responsible for reading, math, and music practice. Parents were available, if needed. But now, the kids had the responsibility for execution and completion.

In the first week alone, the transformation was significant! To our surprise, the kids welcomed the additional responsibility and appreciated the opportunity to earn extras for a job well done (i.e. screen time, special date with parents, etc.) In addition, since Mom and Dad weren’t teaching every subject, everyday, we felt as if we had more “bandwidth”. This afforded us the opportunity to further and more fully investigate interesting topics or to spend additional time in areas that required closer attention or extra practice for one or both of our students.

But we soon discovered this change wasn’t merely about home schooling. It reached far beyond our classroom into every sphere and facet of our family’s lives. Having kids who are 9-years-old and 11-years-old, we are quiet aware that we are entering a new season of parenting. We are smack-dab in the middle of the Tween Years, soon to be embarking on the Teen Years and then, it’s LAUNCH TIME, BABY.

It is our desire to raise our kids to be problem-solvers, risk-takers and comfortable thinking and living outside-of-the-box. We have no desire to raise kids who only know the correct outward response. Or who do the right thing out of fear of doing the wrong thing or of being different. Or who continue to do things simply because that’s they way they’ve always been done. Nope! We desire to train our children to do the right thing because they know in their hearts that’s what needs to be done. And, sometimes, doing the right thing means making changes. Even if they are uncomfortable, unpopular, or uncharted territory.

It’s our desire to create an environment of love and trust, which is grounded in the Word, that brings about heart change. This is real change. Living and learning, relating and responding, from the inside out. To do this, we have to let go of some control, share the responsibility, broaden the boundaries, and give our children freedom to make some of the decisions and even a few mistakes.

As parents, it’s our desire to be in the trenches with our children, working together to bring about heart and life change. So when they find themselves in a particular situation, relationship or conflict, they don’t just ‘do the right thing’ because that’s what’s expected of them. They do the right thing because it’s the godly thing to do.

In all areas of our lives, even in our role as parents, we want to be open to accessing and adjusting. Willing to make the needed changes. Even mid-course, if necessary. If not, we risk stagnation and death. And to always be about growing and developing, learning and transforming. Never settling for status quo. Or fearing change, but facing it head-on.

Life lesson:
Never be afraid to make necessary changes that are within your ability and control to make. For even a seemingly small change can bring about significant transformation.

STILL [Word of the Year: 2014]

It all started with a song. A song that I have performed numerous times. Yet, this time, something was different. Whenever I heard the words, I listened. Really listened.  Taking it all in and thinking about what it all meant.

 

Honestly, I wasn’t necessarily thinking of  a “word” for 2014. I have learned, as with most things, if you try to force them it just doesn’t work. I didn’t even know if I would have a word for 2014. But this song took hold of me. Actually, it was that one little word….

Still Word

The word “still” means not moving, lacking motion or activity, uttering no sound, calm, or tranquil. I could use a little bit of that. All of that, actually.

You see, 2013 has affectionately been dubbed as “The Year of the Roller Coaster”. Just when we thought things were leveling out and we knew where we were headed– WHAM! Another dip, or curve, or sudden stop! Then, even more change, more movement. Still having no clue where we were headed. Just sort of along for the ride. This isn’t my usual mode of operation.

All of these changes and unknowns were swirling around me. Life was a wee bit crazy. While I was attempting to catch the curveballs that were being thrown our way, the uncertainties of life were attempting to cause this ESTJ-list-maker-routine-lover-planner-by-nature person fear the unknown. And not trust that God had a plan. A good plan. A plan to give us a hope and a future.

Even still, somewhere around November, I leaned into it all. No, I mean, really leaned into it. If you’ve ever ridden a roller coaster, you know what I mean. It’s much more enjoyable with eyes wide open, even if you can’t see what’s up ahead. There’s thrill, anticipation and expectancy. So, I leaned into the curves. Enjoyed the twists and turns. And the dips became my favorites, even the big ones that make you think the bottom is falling from beneath you. I made the most of this crazy ride.

And it all began with a simple song and a single word, which led me to reflect upon Psalm 46:10:

 “Be still, and know that I am God.”

The words “be still” mean literally to let go, to let drop, to relax, and to be quiet. As I meditated upon this verse, I began to breathe more deeply. My heart was calmed. I stopped striving and believing that anything I could do would bring me or my family security or peace.  And as I watched everything spin and twirl around me, having no clue what the future held, I no longer thought it was outta control. Oh, sure it was out of my control, but not God’s. He was in control the entire time.

And He gently reminded me of this and encouraged me to enjoy the ride. Eventually, I did begin to enjoy the ride. All of it. Instead of merely reading the words, “Be still and know that I Am God,” I began to actually be still and know that He was God.

I think God allowed so much uncertainity in my life in 2013 to gently ask me, “Jada, do you trust me? No, I mean, do you REALLY trust me? Then, be STILL! Life may not be how you planned or expected it to be, but take it all in. Rest. Wait. Be patient. I have got this all figured out and will let you know when the time comes.”

 

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I Am
Be still and know
Be still
Be

My word for 2014 is:

Still Word

 

Life Skills Academy

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin

Although we home school and support life-long learning, my husband and I  both realize there’s more to education than academics. In fact, our decision to home school had very little to do with academics, and more to do with our desire to see our kids develop their individual strengths, to grow spiritually and relationally, and to help them become functioning members of society. Not to mention, since we both have crazy and untraditional work schedules, it was sort of a selfish decision, too. But I digress.

A while back, I came across a post from Jamie over at Simple Home School. She’s started offering her kids a baking class, complete with a syllabus! After showing it to Jon, he said, “Let’s do this. I can’t wait to teach them to make Sugar Cookies!” So, we began compiling a list of the recipes we wanted to teach the kids to bake. But then…

Well, then, it snowballed. We started talking about all the other skills we wanted our kids to learn. You know, those skills that we sometimes take for granted, but ones that need to be taught and re-taught. Before we knew it, we were throwing out ideas, taking notes, and somehow, Life Skills Academy began to take shape.

Life Skills Academy

Life Skills Academy

It’s still in the preliminary stages, but here are the modules we have begun to develop:

Culinary Arts

  • Menu Planning
  • Food Procurement
  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Grilling

Home Maintenance

The following modules will be used in conjunction with the children’s responsibility charts: Morning 5, Afternoon 5, Evening 5.

  • Indoor Cleaning and Maintenance (i.e. dishes to floors, washing clothes to cleaning cupboards, and everything in between)
  • Outdoor Cleaning and Maintenance (i.e. raking leaves, weeding, mowing the grass, maintaining gardens, etc.)
  • Pet Care (i.e. watering, feeding, and bathing the cat, cleaning the liter box, etc.)

Stewardship 

We will be teaching the children about lifestyle stewardship: time, talents, resources and finances.

  • Tithing & Other Charitable Giving
  • Financial Management
  • Budgeting
  • Saving and Investing
  • Serving Others
  • Developing and Using our Talents, Skills and Abilities

Car Maintenance

  • Washing the Car
  • Vacuuming the Car
  • Detailing the Car
  • Checking Air Pressure in Tires
  • Pumping Gas
  • Additional items will be added as the children get older

Tonight, we began with Culinary Arts, launching our baking class. Although Jon and I have ideas of what we want to teach them, I let the kids select the first recipe. It was Stuffed Crust Pizza. Tonight’s class was fun, and dinner was delicious.

Life Skills Academy-Baking Class made "Stuffed Crust Pizza"

Life Skills Academy-Baking Class made “Stuffed Crust Pizza”

We are keeping with Jamie’s routine. For the first class, the instructor makes the recipe while the kids watch. The second class, the kids make the recipe while the instructor watches. And in the final class, the kids do everything by themselves.

The kids are excited for class number two, but are nervous for session three! Personally, I can’t wait! It’s sad, but thrilling to see my babies grow up. Yet, we know as parents, it’s our responsibility to train them and then, launch them. And, trust me, we want them to launch well! Stayed tuned for more to come with our Life Skills Academy! 

2013: Family Reading List

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“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
― Emilie Buchwald

When I think about my childhood, many memories involve books. Hours spent in my treehouse with a good book. Bike rides to the little country library, which was about 100 yards from my house, to check out a basket full of books for the week. An hour-long bus ride to/from school resulting in literary journeys to far off lands, where I met all sorts of characters and villains. And many hours spent snuggled up to my parents or grandparents as they shared their favorite stories with me. These are the memories I cherish, and desire to share with my own children.  Continue reading