Joyful Teacher or Parent Under Pressure?
October 18, 2017
Hey Mama, 

Ever feel like a jar of jam? Under so much pressure, but it’s all bottled up! Instead of "bursting," take heart. You can do this. You ARE that joyful, loving Mama your littles adore. The one they run to when they have a boo-boo. . . or in the case of your older ones, the one they need to talk to, even in the middle of the night, sometimes.
Just remember, the Lord is the One we, as Mamas, have to run to with our boo-boos. . . or just to talk. Whether today you are already feeling the pressures of teaching or simply the state of "being a Mama," you do have time. Make time. SLOW DOWN. And look up! His hand is on your head today.


One more thing, Mama. . .

Today will take care of itself; history has shown you this. And we have a lot of say about the memories our kids are going to have regarding this particular day with us. TODAY. Will they be sad memories? Stressed-out ones? Furrowed-brow memories? A Mama who loved them but was always down?

Or . . . even in the midst of the trials and challenges, will those kids of yours remember a Mama who made the day special, even memorable just for them? Stop and focus on at least one of your children right now; let them see those bright eyes grinning directly at them.

Grin more today. LAUGH. Erase the furrow. Cast your cares on the Lord because not only does He care for you, but none of the crazies in your life surprise Him one bit. He was with you yesterday. He knew about you (and your current issues) before the foundations of the earth! He is with you TODAY. He also has tomorrow’s problems covered. Completely under control. 
And there will be more troubles in the future . . . this life is full of problems and nonsense. But have no fear, because just as He has taken care of you up until now, He hasn't lost His commitment or faithfulness. He sees; He is concerned, and He has it in His hand (which is on your head, remember?).

You. Will. Not. Be. Shaken.

Take it to heart. He is your life. You are His love.

So lift Him up.

-Love, gena
Donna Ward
Increase Joy—Reduce Decision Fatigue
Makeup or none? Smoothie or oatmeal? Clean the mess or be on time? Pay the bills or check Facebook? “Mom, what do I do next?!” “Mom, what’s for lunch?” 

Research has shown that decision-making is mentally exhausting. How much more so with noise and interruptions? Minimizing decision fatigue will help in reducing stress and increasing joy in your homeschool journey. World leaders have been known to stick with one style of daily clothing to reserve decision making to important matters. 

What can you do to simplify? How can you plan ahead? How can you manage daily life decisions and shift responsibility to reduce decision fatigue? Here are a few tips.

There is no one ‘right way’ to schedule your homeschool, but there could be some wrong ways. Ask yourself, “What is your need for structure, and what is your tolerance for flexibility?” You need to find your own rhythm for balancing structure and flexibility in schedules but one thing is sure. Planning ahead—school schedules, meal prep, chores, and more—is a solid way to reduce daily decision making and decision fatigue. 

Managing Everyday Living
It’s essential that children learn to help in daily household management without your constant input. Understanding their chores in advance helps children operate independently. Will it always be smooth? No— they’re in training. My adult kids laugh when they remember me chiding, “OK kids, I feel like an engine pulling cars with square wheels. Let’s get in motion here!” Every home needs to find its rolling rhythm. But I promise, work at it when the kids are young, and it will pay off later. Make household management a team effort. Get the instruction and direction off your shoulders, and onto the kids’ through lists, charts, and pre-communicated expectations.

Moving Responsibility 

Use daily student planners to move responsibility for schoolwork from you to the student. I spent a few summer weeks filling out annual student planners (in pencil) with a rough schedule (4 days a week). When life happened and the schedule didn’t quite work, we doubled up or skipped lessons. Regardless, personal planners definitely reduced the number of daily decisions I needed to make. Whether you fill your planners nightly, or annually, the goal is to reduce daily decision making. Find the method that works best for you. 

Research shows, but we likely already know, that when we are mentally depleted we are more likely to take the path of least resistance, have less self-control, reach for glucose rich snacks, and be impatient with those around us. Ask God’s help as you assess where you can take charge and reduce decision fatigue in your daily schedule.

Donna Ward is a veteran homeschooler with four adult children and six grandchildren. She authors Canadian history/geography curriculum and supplies home educators with quality Canadian resources at Northwoods Press.  

Donna Ward/Northwoods Press has been providing quality Canadian History and Geography resources for over 20 years. Homeschoolers and story lovers will find intriguing multi-grade resources: curriculum, living books, online modules, games and more for both the budget-minded and funded homeschool. As a veteran homeschooler, Donna knows what you need.
Being a parent means lots of joy—but lots of trials, too. Being a homeschooling parent is a whole ‘nother thing. (We laugh that we’ll never grow senile because we’ll be teaching math until we’re elderly.)

We realized on our way to having eight kids (and Melanie teaching six grades at the same time !) that God gives us grace and grows our strength as the challenge increases. But how do I get through this month or even this hour ?

Don’t shortchange God. He’s the source of all you need! Do what it takes to spend time in the Word and in prayer without fail. That doesn’t mean two hours of study and intercession before breakfast – it may mean keeping your Bible in the bathroom, or listening to Scripture on your iPod while you’re walking. But don’t get in the habit of telling God, “No, not now” – fifteen minutes of devotions every day is better than an hour once a week. 

Be realistic about school. It’s easy to put too much on your kids’ plates – and your own. It's not a competition to outdo every Type-A homeschooler you meet online. Take a day or a week off. Do projects. Skip some of the worksheets, and read aloud instead. Kids that have been taught to love learning will be more successful than kids who see learning as a chore.

That means non-school things, too. We had a friend who resented homeschooling her kids because, really and truly, she insisted that the house be spotless at all times, and she saw her kids as the problem. Is that focusing on what’s important, like discipling our children for eternity? Our homes are lived in and actively used, 24/7 . . . they’re not museums. A little (or a lot!) of work-in-progress and pardon-our-dust is okay! We’ve asked our adult kids what they remember most about their childhood. None of them mentioned the mess or chaos.

Instead, they remembered the happy times cuddling with Mom and each other while reading.

Remember your husband. Don’t wait for him to guess how you feel or what you need – “ speak the truth in love, ” (Eph. 4:15) but let him know how you feel so he can pray, help, or comfort you. And do try to keep an emotional and energy reserve to spend with him—after a day in a world of hostility and temptation, he needs your attention to help him stay bonded and focused on you . You need him, too. 

And it’s okay to recharge. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14 ESV). God gives us strength and energy to work hard and long, but even Jesus took time off to rest. We all do better if we try to get enough sleep, take a day off from time to time, and lay our worries at the foot of the cross. Go ahead, and take a nap! 

Yours in the battle – 
Hal and Melanie

P.S. About that “couple time” – we have some resources you might find really encouraging. Sign up for our newsletter and get our workshop, “Romance for The Exhausted” – free!
Staying Relational   
Dear Friends,

Pressure. It comes in different forms.

Temporary pressure can be good if it helps us cross the finish line, turn in the assignment on time, or put the last touches on the doll house for a beloved daughter’s birthday.

Longterm pressure can be relentless, crushing, and debilitating. With its close ally, chronic stress, it damages us in multiple ways—physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally.

Because this type of pressure can originate from external or internal sources, it is extremely important to identify the specific sources in your own life. Otherwise, we can feel stuck—helplessly trapped under the unrelenting stress and pressure. (Believe me, I speak from experience!)

External Sources can include,
  • family and friends' disapproval of your homeschooling
  • financial issues
  • care for someone with long-term sickness or care for an ailing parent
  • difficult marriage or divorce
  • the loss of a child or a spouse
  • a move to a new home or new area
  • a part-time or full-time job
  • sibling rivalry, disrespect, learning difficulties, etc.

Internal Sources can include:
  • ongoing sickness and fatigue
  • demanding perfection of yourself, your children, your marriage, your home—or, conversely, believing you will never succeed, no matter how hard you try
  • impossibly high expectations for homeschooling
  • replaying the never-ending, sabotaging lies in your head
  • cramming your to-do list with far more activities than there are hours in the day—and saying “yes” to yet another activity or responsibility
  • fear of the uncertain future
  • painful memories, like abuse as a child
  • struggling to experientially know whether you are loved by God

Take a few minutes to ponder. Do any of these resonate with you? 

If so, find a time when you can be quiet and alone with God—early in the day, late at night, or in the wee hours of the morning.
In this place of quiet, ask the Lord to share His heart with you about what you are facing. One at a time, bring each and every pressure to the Lord. Truly, this is the step that can begin to dismantle the impossible load you are carrying.

Then, set up a special time with your spouse or a close, trusted friend to talk about what you are facing. Their love and counsel is a critical component.

There are some long-term pressures that you simply need grace and strength to endure, like a long-term sickness or loss of a loved one. There are other long-term pressures through which the Lord will gently lead you, like the disapproval of family about homeschooling. And, you may discover that there are long-term pressures where you can make big changes, like saying “no” to less-than-best activities on your to-do list.

We each walk our own unique journey, bearing our own specific burdens and experiencing our own special joys. My prayer for you, dear friend, is that you will experience His grace as you deal with the pressures in your life.

Remember, He is relational!


P.S. I spent the whole time talking about pressure, but I LOVE to talk about the joy of homeschooling, too! So, please visit my website for this week’s blog, Joyful Parenting ! Members - Did You Know?
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is your trade publication. Every quarter it is released, but every OTHER quarter it comes out in print as well as digital (apps). How do you claim your free print magazine? Hit up your dashboard and claim it. Next issue is the Winter one... we're laying it in now and it is BEAUTIFUL. Over 160 pages, glossy, thick. And you don't need to pay a dime to get it. Get over to your dashboard and get your free stuff. Check your dashboard often at the top of the home page. We love to give gifts! - gena 
Tracy Klicka
Home School Foundation,
Child, I Love You Like CRAZY !

Son , you probably had no idea how your failure to complete that English paper on time for your online English Comp class affected me that day seven years ago. Do you even remember that I stayed up with you until 1am the night before because I knew you hated writing papers, and I wanted to help you? I knew that class was the best option for you your junior year, but you were either late for or failed to turn in every assignment. Your dad had died the previous fall, and I was doing all I could to keep up with teaching you the rest of your coursework, as well as your four younger siblings. And I know life was hard for you, too. 

Even still, I felt both ashamed and frustrated because I wasn’t enough to motivate you to excel. God got us both through that year when we felt like giving up. It was grace upon grace. I was still anxious, however, for what kind of man you would become one day.

Daughter , the day I found out you were trapped in a 3-year destructive cycle of binge eating/throwing up, I thought I was going to die. My heart was broken for you, and I was terrified I was going to literally lose you. I knew you had problems with control your whole life (ever since you chomped on your older brother’s leg when you were two years old, just because he took one of your toys). 

Through the years, I had prayed so often for you and had tried to protect you—sometimes from yourself—so that you would grow up knowing that God, who made you loves you deeply, more than I humanly ever could. I knew He would always be there for you; you didn’t, however. And I was helpless to convince you of this truth. I fell upon God’s power and mercy, again and again, in prayer and fasting for you, in the hope that He would not only deliver you from the lies you were believing about yourself, but bring you to a place of complete healing, aware of just how beautiful, inside and out, that you truly are.

Dear friend who is reading this, you may be wondering how I continued to homeschool all the way through. It’s true, I did feel like giving up sometimes. . .okay, at least once a month! The circumstances of life, my health issues, my dangerous pregnancy with twins, my late husband’s 15-year battle with MS, and my own children’s struggles—some of them quite intense, like my daughter Megan’s bulimia—provided enough stress to keep me on my knees, clinging to God for His help. 

Even still, His mercy and grace were like a refreshing, gentle rain on the dry and thirsty ground of my heart. I couldn’t have made it a single day without it, and He never failed to pour it out when I cried out to Him for it.

If I were to go back twenty eight years, would I choose to not homeschool? Absolutely not! I loved teaching my children, even with all the challenges I faced. What makes a difference when you feel stressed, or even worse, when you feel like giving up?

  1. Take a break now and then recharge. My Chris wonderfully gave me Tuesday night’s off to do whatever I wanted. Sometimes getting caught up on grading schoolwork did more for me than engaging in one of my hobbies. Knowing I could look forward to a two to three-hour break each week was positively invigorating to my heart and soul!
  2. Re-evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. Periodically assessing your curriculum, schedule, and parenting can help you locate areas that might be contributing to additional but avoidable stress. The beauty of teaching your children at home is that you can change up any of these areas to make it work for your unique family’s needs and personality.
  3. Finally, run to the One who helps you, both when you are thirsty and when you are full. It is God’s presence that comforts and guides us when we are hurting or lost. When things are going well and we are feeling good, Moms, go to Him with thanksgiving for all His benefits. This doubles our gratitude and joy.

“If you wait, your heavenly Father will pick you up, carry you out into the night, and make your life sparkle. He wants to dazzle you with the wonder of His love.” – Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

-Tracy Klicka, Home School Foundation

Tracy Klicka , the widow of former HSLDA attorney Christopher Klicka, is a homeschooling mom of seven, now adult children. As a seasoned homeschooler and gifted writer and speaker for over 20 years, Tracy has addressed thousands of parents at homeschooling conventions and women’s events, has contributed to Christianity Today , regularly writes for national homeschool publications, and has contributed to her late husband’s books on homeschooling. She currently serves as Director of Development for the Home School Foundation , the charitable arm of HSLDA, which helps families homeschooling through hard times. She also blogs at and for HSLDA’s Everyday Homeschooling blog column.

She can be reached at .
Sherri Seligson
I know the image you have in your head. Your children are happily reading their assignments, checking off their chore list, and understanding every lesson the FIRST time it is presented to them.

Is that the standard you are aiming for? Well, for me, it was always in the back of my head. I know we repeat to ourselves that we want our children to do their best and to do everything unto the Lord. But how does it play out day to day?
In my house, we often started the day with someone dealing with a less-than-cheerful attitude. Or another one who just couldn’t understand that same math process we have been going over for three…straight…weeks…
Truthfully, those things would cause me such stress. Never mind that my children were learning self-control by dealing with tough attitudes, or forget the fact that they were grasping common denominators after doing long, hard work. To me, it meant that with each “delay” we would get farther and farther behind.
Behind what? Behind *my* self-imposed schedule. Behind what *I* wanted to see happen and not what God wanted.
You see, I often stressed about making sure we hit every academic subject. I also aimed for eventually reading through every book in the Bible while adding excellent theological commentary to help feed and encourage their little hearts. Lofty goals, right?
But life often got in the way of my plans, causing me to feel stress. Do you know what stress really is?  Stress is me believing everything should happen the way I envision it, and me expecting   everything to happen according to my schedule .
Folks, this is the opposite of faith.  Faith trusts that everything will happen in God’s way and in His timing.
My stressing out over our school lessons or parenting issues is a show of my lack of faith. You see God wants us to focus on what is before us at this moment. He has the future in His hands. He promises us He will work things according to His perfect plan.
And often, that plan looks a bit different from ours, doesn’t it?
Today, I encourage you to look at each moment as a beautiful blessing given by the Lord. He will faithfully bring to pass His plans. We just need to lean on Him each moment without stressing over what might happen in the future. Then we walk through our day in peace and filled with joy.
Read over Lamentations 3:22-23 and rest with me today: “It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness .”


Sherri Seligson is a 21-year veteran homeschool mom and marine biologist. She has authored Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Marine Biology , Interning for High School Credit , instructional DVDs for Exploring Creation with Biology , Chemistry , The Human Body , and Marine Biology and many publications. An international conference speaker, Sherri encourages moms and teaches families the value of studying God’s creation. You can find her blogging at .

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Could you use an extra dose of joy or encouragement? We have an entire set of resources just for parents on . You could start with Joy in the Morning devotionals to help you keep your eyes and heart set on God. You could read some encouragement in Help Me Stay the Course, or find help to tackle any disorganization that is holding you back with Help Me Get Organized. You could watch a video in Dealing with Emotions, be encouraged in your parenting with the Building Faithful Kids video series, or enjoy In Due Season, an article series designed to equip you to finish the homeschooling journey strong by helping you live well in between the elementary and high school years. 

If you’re not already a member of , we would love to have you join us. If you join during our Harvest special now through October 31, 2017, you will not only lock in your membership at a reduced monthly rate, but also receive a digital bushel of goodies valued at almost $700! If you or someone you know is interested in designing lessons for our site, please contact Director Bonnie Rose Hudson at

in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of October

I am always on the hunt for good, clean, wholesome books for my kids to read. When I found the Sonrise Stable Book Series eight-book set, I was ecstatic. The entire series consists of eight titles all written by Vicki Watson. Each book costs $8.95, or the entire series can be purchased for $58.95, which is a very nice discount as an entire package. The Sonrise Stable Series includes: Rosie and Scamper, Carrie and Bandit, Clothed with Thunder, Tender Mercies, Outward Appearances, Follow the Leader, Rejoice with Me , and the Christmas book, Operation Christmas Spirit .

These books are geared toward children ages eight through thirteen. I feel like this is an accurate age range, although truthfully, older children would likely enjoy them as well. Younger children may enjoy hearing these books read aloud. I enjoyed reading them as an adult, so really the age stipulation is just a suggestion. The entire series was written because of Vicki’s love for horses at a young age. She wrote the books to share many of her life’s lessons with young readers.

The entire series is about an extended homeschooling family. Each chapter book has an overall theme based on a scriptural principle. Throughout the series the family lives, learns, and loves together. The main characters are Rosie and Carrie. Together with their families by their sides, these girls have many heartwarming adventures. There is just enough excitement from chapter to chapter to keep the reader guessing and wanting to continue reading. Each book contains some special lesson pages in the back related to the theme of the book.

While we didn’t read the series in order, the books still made complete and perfect sense to us. There were a few times that a previous event was referenced, but enough information was given that we were able to still understand the plot of each novel. What I really appreciate is the attention given to detail in the stories as well as the additional activities in the back of each book. The discussion questions alone are valuable if you wish to use this series as a reading comprehension tool for your horse-loving children. 

Since Christmas is coming up, here is a bit about Book 8: Operation Christmas Spirit .

The children all decide to work together to produce a Christmas play depicting the birth of Christ. They learn and study joyfully together, each digging into the scripture. The theme of this volume in the series is obviously about Christmas. Other events challenge the family as well: Grandma along with Rosie and Carrie hope to purchase a pony and a cart. They choose a run-down, well-worn cart that seems somewhat useless. When it is restored, they all realize the beauty that it contains. The back of this volume contains discussion questions for each chapter.

We really enjoyed reading this wholesome series. The books are easy to read and understand, making them perfect for any horse-loving child. If I had known about these books several years ago, I would have purchased them for my daughter. I highly recommend this series if you have an eight- to thirteen-year-old who just can’t get their hands on enough horse books.

YOU can WIN this full set of books for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER : Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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