There’s a fabulous website that I love, Raising Real Men by the Youngs. It’s so good for me to read their blog posts, newsletters, and read their responses to the questions I have about my young, up and coming men. Someday, I hope I can hear them speak locally, too. I’ve learned a lot from just the little I can glean. They don’t know how much they’ve encouraged me, but they really have.

By now you’re wondering what the title of this post has to do with the first paragraph. Well, that’s related to fishing gear up there. One of my sons loves fishing, and we probably don’t get him out quite enough to do it. (Note to self: schedule a fishing day for Habanero soon.) Anyway, fishing line is tested and rated to the weight it can bear. We’ve only purchased 8- and 10-pound test line, since we mainly have pan fish in this area. It can handle (You guessed it!) an eight- or ten-pound fish on the end of the line without breaking. This is more than enough for the little catch and release fish in our ponds and small lakes.

So, the analogy here is that my teen boy is often a bit like 14-pounds on that 10-lb test line. If you’ve ever been reeling in a catch that seems a little bigger than you’re used to…a little feistier than you’ve seen before…and you’re just not sure if the line will hold, that can be a lot like parenting a teen at times. There are days when I wonder if that line is just going to go–PING! We’re familiar with the empty hook at the end of a few minutes of reeling. We haven’t had a line snap, but we’ve watched the disappointment on an angler’s face who lost something when his 20-lb test line snapped. 

Some parents will know what I mean. I say this in absolute love for my boys! They are getting a little bigger than I’m used to…a little feistier than I’ve seen before…and I’m eyeballin’ that line pretty intently. Will it hold?

The “line” in this case is the foundation we’ve laid. All their lives we have invested in our boys: time, attention, instruction, and love. We didn’t get it all right. In fact, whatever we didn’t get right is obvious enough to me that they are the flaws in the “10-lb test” I’m a little nervous about.

All I know about 14-pounds on a 10-pound line is this: the 10-pound rating isn’t all there is to it. With time, patience, wisdom, and a little cooperation from the fish–that fish can be brought in on the line. What I know about sons so far is this: they get bigger than you’re used to and feistier than you’ve seen before. I’m thankful that where the analogy breaks down is in the 10-pound line. The foundation laid with sons isn’t tested and rated to its fail rate. The foundation built for our sons is the cross of Christ and the Gospel. That is God’s unfailing love and grace and strength and help and wisdom and truth. There’s no breaking point to any of that. (Thank you, God!) I love that part!

So as I’m thinking about the one who is more often than not a bit like the 14-pound, feisty fish, I’m going to count on the “line” he’s on, knowing he will test it (maybe to his limits), but it will not fail him…or his parents!

I hope this is a blessing to somebody else. It’s what I’m counting on–my boys’ Abba!


I have a hunch I’ve freaked out more than a few with my last entry. (They’ll get over it, I imagine.) The word brainwashing was more likely a trigger word, wasn’t it? Sorry if my lack of explanation left that one hanging. People who know me personally wouldn’t be surprised at the word, and those who ask in the moment would get a clearer understanding of my intended meaning. Asking or not, I’ll offer it now. I’d hate for people to think I was advocating some kind of cultic ritual or psychological warfare of some kind. 

I still like the term. Maybe it has a whole airport-ful of baggage associated with it, but brainwashing is such an intriguing idea to me right now. If I consider how a mind can be “washed” in some way, if you will, it’s an interesting thought. When I thought of the verses posted in yesterday’s post, I imagined a clean, renewed mind–you know, washed. I know, that’s probably not going to come off well in some people’s books, but renewing my mind would be like this for me.

What I want–what I really, really want…is to be washed in the Word.

I’m probably not handling Scripture as it should be handled. I’ll confess that part, but the image in Ephesians 5 isn’t lost on me:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27

I’m just sitting with this on the parts that are impressed upon me in this moment: He, Christ, washes me to the point of glorious “splendor”…so I can be “holy and without blemish.” Being the person I am, I can only imagine my Christ being thorough enough to cleanse and renew it all…even my mind, if I am so inclined to allow it. 

It’s a battle for me. I find I’ll end up fighting to keep my own mind, as small and dysfunctional as it is, because I love its familiarity or the habits or the desired outcomes. Really? Do I want that? If I’m honest, I know my thoughts are nowhere near his. And, my ways? Yeah, no way.


Unless the thoughts and ways begin to reflect his! If my courageous choices are more indicative of biblical wisdom and instruction, then the gap starts to close this side of heaven. Even if it will never be closed until the other side of heaven, I have to begin to move.

In short, wash my brain, please, Abba!

Be blessed!

A few months ago I posted about going into what I thought might be the most difficult of my homeschooling years (the junior high and high school combination was a little daunting at the time). If I’d known then what I know now…

Wow! It’s been a whirlwind of activity, and I couldn’t have predicted where we would be at this time in the year. Sometimes I’m at a complete loss for words. Sometimes the words that come are probably not fit for human consumption, if you know what I mean. I wonder if struggle can even begin to describe or contain even a sniglet of this season in life. It doesn’t, really.

But, there has been a glimmer of something helpful…and hopeful…and I’m thankful.

A friend recommended a book which I, for whatever reason, could not digest. Maybe you’ve read it–M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled? If you have, I imagine you have a response to it. If you haven’t, you just haven’t. I plan to attempt it again soon, but I seemed to get stuck everywhere in the first 22 pages. (I can be a little too contemplative…and I do get stuck in good stuff sometimes.) A second book by Brené Brown was recommended, and I’ve been reading it. She’s not a Christian author, but when one has a way to ground the content in faith, it works. Or, in this season, it works for me. The wisdom is easily read, and I can apply some of it.

(Jen, you do not need to defend your choice to read a book.)  😉

So, the topic of mindfulness has come up more than once. I also happen to be reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Myers. Suffice it to say, thought life is the flavor of the day right now in my world. I’m thankful for that, too.

What have I been learning? I probably need to lose my mind!

Let me explain. I have some typical stressors in my life. They are repeatedly rearing their ugly heads, and I not only see them when they appear, I’ve actually begun to predict, expect, prepare, be proactive…. See the problem? I’ve constructed my own little certainty. Even if some of these things are a given, such as Monday occurs every seven days, there’s something a bit off, wouldn’t you agree? I think I’m so sure….

Now, there’s also another half to all of this: the response. Remember I said the stressors are typical and repeated? Yep, I have a typical and repeated response to them, too. It’s not one of my finer moments. I have allowed knee-jerk responses to replace thoughtfulness, mindfulness. Consider that I’ve begun to anticipate the stressors and the matching response, and there’s a whole other complexity to the matter. Am I the only one that does this? Surely not!

That said, the culmination of the reading and discussions I’ve been having has been something like this:

Jen! Lose. Your. Mind.

It’s not the typical assigned meaning up there. I think it’s more like “Lose YOUR mind, Jen! It’s not helpful to you.” Yep, I think that’s pretty accurate. So, what’s the solution?


Sounds pretty simple to me. 

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Ephesians 4:22-24

It’s simple, as in clear, but I’m not sure how simple it is in practice. My last few days, since committing to being more mindful and choosing courageous choices, have felt very different than the average day. It’s a little like living in a microcosm of events. One thing at a time sounds lovely, until it’s under a microscope. That speaks to one thing that is also taking place: my own strength.

Not a good idea. I find myself clinging to truths in Scripture, honestly, more for survival than some prettied-up verbal description of seeking to live the abundant life. (Though it absolutely is about the abundant life!) 

I think I’ll write more about this later. For now, I want to sit with the truth of Scripture for this day, for this moment. The courageous choice for me right now is to walk away from the keyboard and “do life” in reality, rather than in cyberspace. 

Noodle this, if you like.

Be blessed!

Up to the Challenge?

For years I’ve heard the most lovely ladies comment on homeschooling as the challenge they cannot do. They fear their relationships being hurt; they are concerned about the very “everyday-ness” of it; and some will say they just couldn’t handle the administration of it all. All of these things are real, and they are fair concerns. Truthfully, there are states that make it so complicated to homeschool that I have great respect for the families that manage the hoops. My hat is off to those families!

And why wouldn’t a family considering homeschooling be a bit nervous? There are plenty of homeschoolers now, maybe even more than ever in history since the collective community government school system was implemented. So many families make it look so easy. (And I honestly believe it can be.) Sometimes I wonder if it really is a challenge, or if it’s supposed to be, or if I’m just “doin’ it wrong.”

We are in a new phase as a family. Gone are the days of shoe-tying lessons, manuscript lessons, and lots of play time. There were times we could spend hours at the park, and everything waited for us patiently, and we’d just catch up later. Somehow, it has all come down to something more “serious” in our world. It honestly makes me a little sad. I begin the year with the excitement of adventure and new things to learn and grow into. This year is starting out hard.

The challenges we face this year seem more daunting. I’m not sure why. But, I know the strength to right all of it and “recalibrate” will be found in two closely-intertwined thoughts:

  • Our God
  • Our “why” 

    but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Here is the most important passage to me in this season of life. With all that I have on my plate, with all the overwhelming emotions at times, I can find myself weak, weary, and faint. But, my hope is in “the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:29). I’m reminded that Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). (Sweet Jesus, I am at your feet!)

As if my God was not enough, I fortify my resolve with the “why” in my decision to offer the schooling in our home. I know our first “why” is nearly inseparable from my source of strength above that, in fact, it is my why! Our family has always wanted to give our sons the gift of a godly heritage. Yeah, we mess up a lot as parents, but it has always been our hope to grant them the opportunity to face life’s challenges with real strength, wisdom, and power. That only comes from God, and you don’t necessarily have that in our local government school system. (No, I am not saying anything about anyone else’s academic choices; that’s not who I am.)

I know my whys for choosing our choice. It allows for selection in curriculum, tailoring it to the student’s needs, and attending to character as we go. It means we can address the culture’s perspective with the time, patience, and honest thought it requires. It means our family can work on the things that need addressing asap.

But, if they don’t learn to do life with God, none of the other choices will really matter much.

Today I’m on my knees before God for me, my sons, and our little Academy. I’m not up to the challenge, but I know Someone who is.

Blessings to you…and yours.

I’ve just come back from a quick trip to Moline, Illinois. I don’t have many reasons to go to this corner of the state too often, since I have no connections there. This trip was a last minute decision to go to the Living Proof Live event this weekend. If you haven’t been to an event with Beth Moore, I can’t emphasize enough how really wonderful these events are and the potential they can hold. I’ve been to several over the years. Each one was such a priceless experience for me in different ways. I remember the first one with lots of ladies I knew in a huge venue. A more recent one was with just a few ladies in another huge venue. This event in Moline was with just a couple ladies I know well in a smaller venue holding 5,000 ladies. This event was priceless–PRICELESS!

As a mom of boys, I expect the testosterone in my house to run high at nearly all times (read: whenever the guys are home, which is often because they live here!). There is something very special to me about my girlfriend time in this stage of my life. Don’t get me wrong; the guys are a huge and precious part of my world, and I love them! I just know that I need time with women, time to be still and focus on things that are important to my soul, time to care for my soul. Know what I mean? Home school moms need to intentionally seek out the oasis, sit with some girlfriends, break out the “girly food” and chocolate, and get their souls filled. It’s an unwritten rule, right?

Before I left, I had a little word with God. My biggest hope was that this event would touch on something of foundational and transformational for me. I called it “fresh wind,” I think. This weekend Beth called it, “fresh oil.” Yesssss!

Three sessions in less than 24 hours. Six hours of conference time. Slightly more time in the car than at the conference center. Still, I would *not* trade this time for anything! It was an incredible experience, and I will be digesting it for a long time to come, no doubt. Just minutes before the conference started I was having a conversation about “my world” with a friend, and we were both completely and profoundly stunned at what came next. I had asked the Lord to speak clearly to me, but had no idea what I was asking at the time. I think I didn’t know what it might look like if He answered my request.

I felt like each session was absolutely my own personal, one-on-one with Beth Moore…while 4,999 others eavesdropped on the conversation.


I’m so blessed I’m looking for my socks. So thankful!

I’m completely filled to overflowing.

I was having a bit of a sentimental moment the other day, and I thought I’d just write a little bit about it here. I was actually surprised at what happened, since I don’t typically land in the ooey-gooey, mushy Mommy Moments too often. It’s been a while since that’s happened. Since I was right in the middle of high productivity and efficiency with the technology end of record keeping, it was even more surprising. I mean, really! Puddling isn’t quite the norm’ when you’re about as task-focused as you can get. There I was, working like a beaver building a brand-spanking-new East wing addition, cleaning up my record keeping software, and it all came out of nowhere.

If you read my post, “Don’t Blink,” then this is in that same vein. *sigh* 

It was innocent enough. I was simply archiving the classes we’ve already done. It made the lists so neat and tidy. Then I moved on to tidying up my resource lists, so I could see better at a glance what I’ve got in that section of the program. This was one of those easy-peasy moments. Start with the As and work on through. Save anything junior high or high school level, and archive the elementary. If it’s curriculum we won’t return to, move it on to the archives.

Archive the Abeka, the BJU we tried in Kindergarten, the Christian Liberty Press elementary…

Uh oh!

I dearly loved those Christian Liberty readers! They were awesome! Sweet memories as we curled up and did them all read-aloud style. It all started to domino after that. The book studies in Kindergarten and first grade, the first chapter books they ever managed to conquer, the books we read together at night while I sat in the hallway to read both Peppers to bed at the same time. The books they read over and over and over again. The ones that made us laugh and cry and think deeply. The books that caused us to randomly call out the favorite portions of dialogue we loved over and over to each other. (I can still remember one of the longest- running lines from Flight of the Eagles: “Eagles? What is eagles?”)

By now you know I was moving through a list of sweet memories alphabetically. You can’t imagine how many times I said to my boys, “Awwwwww! Don’t you remember when we read _______________?” Sometimes they responded with comments about the books, and sometimes the favorite lines came to mind. It was fun and sad at the same time. I was so glad my boys loved some of the books we read and remembered so many of them so vividly. That’s some good literature base, right?


I’ll never assign Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day again. The sweet Good Night, Moon moments have passed for now. And “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze” is archived with them both and a host of other memorable (to us) titles.

They grew up.

When I wasn’t looking, they grew up. These books are their foundation for loving to read, and I’m so glad they are. I’ll just miss some of the sweet moments. The books we read now are a whole different ballgame. It’s all about giving them roots and wings and polysyllabic words now.

I’m fairly new to the idea of good record-keeping. Honestly, I have used my HomeSchool Tracker Plus intermittently for a few years, and I get as far as the Year, Terms, Subjects/Courses, and Lesson Plans most years. Sometimes I even assign the Lesson Plans…and (get this!) enter the data to get…GRADES! (I know. Crazy.)

So, as I’m getting ready for my first time working with a junior high and high school student combination (6th and 9th), I’m beginning to beg for mercy! Anything has to be better than going at this blind, right?! I’ve worked really hard the last two weeks, and I’m making serious headway in the Records department! (Insert excited face here!)

Year: 2012-2013
Start and End Dates!
Terms: 4
Subjects and Courses!

Oh. Wait a minute. Now, we’ve arrived at a little hiccup in my process. I’ve done most of the straight forward courses up to this point: 6th grade Language Arts, Penmanship, Vocabulary, American History, Math, etc. I’m happy with the 9th grade “easy” classes: Vocabulary, Math, Science, Spanish….


There are these courses that seem to happen every so often in the world. I call them “Behemoth Courses” because they are larger in their scope and sequence than the average course. They cover multiple academic areas (much as unit studies might do), but the breakdown isn’t quite neat and tidy. To combine Bible, Language, and History, for example, gets a little messy. The credits should break down as 1 credit per subject area.

But, how is that going to work in my cute, little HST Plus world?

So, do you create a whole new “Subject” called BLH (Bible-Lit-History)? Do you place the course in the History area, since it is called “Exploring American History,” but give a nod to the other two areas in some way? (Maybe listing the course in each Subject area as 1 credit…but, that causes problems in the Lesson Plan area….)

Does anyone out there using HomeSchool Tracker Plus have an opinion on this? Someone who managed to generate their transcripts functionally would be most appreciated!

I’m sitting with this and hoping to get a revelation before I try to pop the course into my database. I’m just not sure how to handle it in the software, and I’m not sure how to make the generated report work for me in the end. I sure could use a little help!

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