Last spring, Joe and I attended a Teach Them Diligently conference where we were delighted and surprised to see an old friend from our newlywed small group days. How fun!!

Homeschooling can be tough, and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Even the most passionate homeschool parent goes through seasons of discouragement. All kids struggle at times- whether with a specific subject, an area of character growth, a skill that doesn’t come easily, a feeling of being left out by their friends… or a million other challenging circumstances. And just like kids need mom and dad to cheer them on to a strong finish of the school year, mom and dad need someone to cheer them on and remind them why what they do is so important.

Joe and I have found one of the greatest encouragements to be attending an annual homeschool conference. Every year since we began homeschooling, we have made it a priority to attend a homeschool conference. The first six years of homeschool, we attended the ICHE (Illinois Christian Home Educators) conference in Naperville, IL. We have been privileged to sit under the teaching of keynote speakers such as Ken Ham and Voddie Bachum. During the two and a half day conference, we had many options of workshops that we could attend- our needs vary from year to year. I can remember one year I was really struggling with trying to teach to our kids’ different learning styles. Sure enough, I found workshops where I was able to get some great insights and tips on how to adjust my teaching style to fit our children’s individual needs. The workshops can be so incredibly helpful.

The past two years, we have attended the Teach Them Diligently conferences. The first year we went to Akron, OH where it was conducted at a Kalahari resort. We were excited to bring our kids with us- many of these conferences are very family friendly and will provide “tracks” for your students to enjoy as you attend workshops geared toward mom and dad. After the day’s workshops were completed, we picked up the kids and enjoyed the water park. It was a fun trip and family time, but we returned home exhausted. The down side of taking the kids with us was that Joe and I did not have the time to talk and debrief between sessions, as we typically enjoy doing. The downtime we were used to having was instead used to entertain the kids, rather than relax.

So this past year, we left the kids with family once again and set out on our own for another Teach Them Diligently conference in Nashville. This time was so invaluable and encouraging to us. From the hours spent talking in the car, to the workshops we attended on marriage and parenting, and specific homeschool help courses, it was a refreshing reminder of why we have chosen to homeschool: to train up our children to know and love the Lord, to teach them about Him in every subject we study, to invest in their character and our relationships with each of them. We went home fired up, filled with new ideas of how to make our homeschool experience even better, confident of our calling to home educate another year.

How about you, friends? How do you stay fired up and encouraged on this journey of homeschooling? Could you share some ideas for other homeschool parents to consider? I look forward to hearing your ideas and answering any questions you throw my way.

May God encourage you as you keep doing life deliberately!

Trisha

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I remember when it dawned on me that teaching my kids to be resourceful was a necessity. We were in the school room and all four kids wanted something from me at the same time: “Mom, I need help!” “Mom, can I get a snack?” “Mom, how do you spell ‘airplane’?” “Can I go to the bathroom?!?!”

Now, if you don’t know me well, I am a visual learner and an abundance of noise quickly has me overstimulated. The inundation of questions and demand for my attention from every kid made me feel like I was about to lose my ever-lovin’ mind.

I had to come up with a solution to my quandary- and fast.

Like most things with kids, my solution wasn’t a quick fix. But rather a teachable moment that would come again and again. I needed to teach my kids to be resourceful- to find other ways to solve their problems rather than coming straight to mom for the answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I want my kids to go to their dad or me for help. But there is something to be said for being a problem-solver and looking for other ways to solve a problem FIRST, before coming to mom and dad. Also, just like any school room teacher, there has to be a method for approaching a teacher when she is helping other students, to maintain order in the schoolroom. So here is the process we came up with:

  1. If you don’t understand something in the lesson you are working on, re-read or re-listen to the lesson and see if that helps to bring clarity.

  2. If you still don’t understand, is there another textbook you can look at?

  3. Is there an older sibling you can ask?

  4. Try again.

  5. Use a dictionary, look at another book, consult an encyclopedia, or google it (with permission).

  6. Ask mom or dad when all other resources have been exhausted.

What about your family? How do you handle classroom chaos? Do you have other tips for teaching your kids to be resourceful?? PLEASE, share your thoughts with the Doing Life Deliberately community so that we can all learn and be blessed!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately, friends!

Trisha

This morning started off with a bang. Well, not literally, but close. Our missions team to Mexico boarded our plane only to find out 45 minutes later that our radio transmitter is broken and either needs to be repaired OR we will have to board another plane. Either way, we will most likely miss our connecting flight. We’ll see. 😬

On the upside of things, I have the great privilege of going to Mexico with 14 outstanding individuals- one of which is my daughter, Hannah. The last time she was on an airplane she was 10 months old. And this is her first international experience and missions trip. We are all kinds of excited over here! I have literally dreamed of taking our children on missions trips since before they were born.  My various experiences on short term missions trips have had such a profound impact on my life: learning about other cultures, stepping out of my comfort zone to share the Gospel, doing things I would never do at home, deepening relationships with people from our home church as we share a cross cultural experience, worshiping God in a different language, etc.  I want my kids to see that God is not an American God. He is active and present throughout the entire world. His Son, Jesus Christ, came to be a savior for ALL people of every nation, language and skin color.  I want them to see real need and understand how much we have both been entrusted with and have excess of .  I want them to get a glimpse of God’s purpose for their lives- which somehow seems to gain clarity when one is removed from the distractions of our American materialism. I want them to see that this life is not about them- it is about Jesus Christ and living to be useful to Him in whatever vocations or contexts He gives us.

So… if you think about us this week, will you please say a prayer for our team? We have many young people on our team. Pray that:

  • this trip would have a profound impact on their lives
  • we would have hearts to see the physical and spiritual needs of others and a quickness to serve
  • we would bond tightly as a team- laugh, cry and be authentic with one another
  • we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respond to His promptings
  • we would have safe travels and logistics for our disrupted flights would be worked out
  • we would have great personal times in the Word and as a team
  • our families with be protected from harm, illness and attack in our absence

Thank you so much for your prayers- they are the greatest blessing to us as a team!! Stay tuned for more updates here through the week.

A short term missions trip changed my life.

No joke. No exaggeration.

As an 18 year old, newly committed follower of Christ, I traveled to Kharkov, Ukraine with 5 other members of my church. It took planes, trains and automobiles to get to our destination, where we spent two weeks teaching the scriptures, sharing the gospel, and loving orphans. Along with my senior pastor and our translator, I stayed with a tent making pastor and his beautiful wife and children.   

(From left to right) My teammate, Jennifer, Elena, myself and Natasha. Elena and Natasha are the daughters of my then houseparents in Ukraine.

This amazing family sacrificed their food, beds, privacy and comforts to host this insignificant teen. That week I experienced a God who loves His church around the world. I saw the smiles, heard the laughter of orphans who played soccer with us and delighted in the taste of gummy worms. I saw fearful hearts soften with compassion as we shared the gospel with their former communist neighbors. My heart was bound up with those that I traveled and served with- memories of laughter, illness, stepping out of our comfort zones, receiving sacrificial hospitality, and so much more.  

These beautiful people are the pastors and their families of the church we ministered with during our time in Ukraine.

And my experience in Ukraine is not unique. Since that time, I have been to Rwanda and multiple times to Belize. The joy of serving Christ with those at my church is irreplaceable- linking us together in a common hope and mission- sharing the gospel and strengthening the global Church. Consistently, my fellow team mates and myself return home fired up, ready to serve God in new ways at home, passionate for the Lord’s church. 

This is the cabin I lived in for two months in Belize (2000)- no electricity or hot water, nightly bed checks for geckos and scorpions, regular extermination of tarantulas and snakes. We often awoke to the sounds of Macaws and monkeys playing in the nearby trees.

Short terms missions trips provide opportunities for team members to do things they have never done before. When I went to Rwanda, multiple teammates shared the gospel- an experience they had never had before. The joy they felt prompted them to come home and serve in the local church in ways they had never served before! In Belize, teammates taught scripture and led worship- things they had never dared to do at home before. But now that those barriers of self-consciousness have been broken, who knows what they might dare to do in the name of Christ!  

Prior to my service in Belize in 2000, I had been terrified of singing solo and leading worship. That experience helped give me the confidence to lead worship in my local church as an adult.

I do not know what kind of impact I have made in others during these trips. I trust that somehow God has used these times to encourage other believers, spread the Good News of Jesus, and draw unbelievers to Himself. I know I am forever changed by each country, culture, church and person I have had the privilege of meeting. I have seen prayers answered in profound ways, come to understand God’s Word in a new light, and learned to appreciate different ways of worshipping God.

Have you ever served on a short term missions trip? If not, is it possible that God is calling YOU to step out of your comfort zone to serve Him in a new country and culture??  Is He calling you to go again?? I’d love to hear from YOU!! 

This is the team of my most recent missions trip to Belize. Our purpose was to equip and encourage the Church in Belize, mainly through teaching and the sharing of the Gospel.