Needle Movers

pressure-guageI attended a webinar the other day about “needle movers” in different areas of life. For example, the three most important factors that “move the needle” towards better health are 1) sleep, 2) exercise, and 3) nutrition.

As I listened, I began to wonder if there are three factors that make the most impact on our home schooling as far as making it most effective and successful with the least amount of stress and strain on us or on our children. (Yes, I’ve seen just about as many burned out homeschool kids as I have seen burned out homeschool moms.) [Read more…]

12 Hugs a Day

hugs_dogRenown psychologist Virginia Satir once stated,

“We need four hugs a day for survival.  We need eight hugs a day for maintenance.  We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

I don’t know if those numbers have been scientifically proven, but I do know the power of a hug. [Read more…]

The Blessings Jar

Blessings Jar(This article was written by my sons, James and Blake Davis.)

Ever notice…

Once in awhile there’s just SOMETHING to be thankful for???

It saddens me how nowadays Thanksgiving seems to be mainly about food—lots and lots of food. And, of course, football games. Hopefully there will be family time, but getting to the turkey and then on to the TV seems to be uppermost on everyone’s mind. I’ve actually heard people refer to the holiday as “Turkey-day” instead of “Thanksgiving day”.

Believe me, I love food, and I love eating food, but the Pilgrims weren’t celebrating food. (Well, actually, maybe they were a little. After all, they had been through a winter where their daily ration was five kernels of corn. So I imagine food was a big part of what they were celebrating.)

But my point is, what happened to Thanksgiving being about, well, Thanks-giving? [Read more…]

9 Essential Skills Every Child Should Learn

In my book, I Saw the Angel in the Marble, I shared that when I graduated from college I felt like I’d been prepared for a world that no longer existed. It was quite a shock to have spent 18+ years getting an education only to discover that many of the things I had been taught had no relevance to the world I found myself in after graduation. I was trained in a skill set based on the jobs that were in demand when I started school, not when I graduated.

I have a friend who works for what was once one of the largest newspapers in the U.S. Over the past five years he has watched one budget cut and layoff after another. The paper has shown a consistent loss for the past ten years and now operates on less than half of the staff it employed five years ago. And circulation has dwindled to a third of what it was just a few years ago. Why? Because people don’t read newspapers that much anymore. With the proliferation of internet news sites, smart phones, and cable TV, there are much easier, more efficient, and less expensive ways to find out what’s going on in the world. [Read more…]

My Series of Unfortunate Events

unfortunate eventsSometimes my days seem like they come right out of a Lemony Snicket novel—they are a “series of unfortunate events.” Seems like I’ve been having a lot of those days lately.

For example, I had some workers in to do what I thought was going to be a simple repair and they discovered all sorts of wiring and plumbing problems. This eventually led to having to tear down the drywall in the room to expose the wiring and plumbing and find the source of the problem—which led to needing electricians, plumbers, and drywall guys in and out of my house for three weeks.

Meanwhile, everything in the house was covered with dust and our savings account was dwindling at an alarming rate. [Read more…]

5 Steps to a Decluttered Life

Einstein bannerHope your summer was a great one. I spent mine attempting a total declutter of my home (still not quite finished), and that led me to thinking about decluttering the mind and emotions.

I remember reading once that Einstein didn’t even know his own phone number because his philosophy was to never clutter his mind with things he could easily look up. And that was the secret to his genius—his mind was free to glimpse into the mysteries of time and relativity.

Because I’ve always been a super-busy person with a tendency to take on more than I can handle, I’ve spent most of my life with a cluttered mind—a mind overwhelmed with the tasks, schedules, information and activities I needed to juggle in the course of marriage, family life, home schooling, being a pastor’s wife, and managing a business. I was a victim of cluttered emotions as well after enduring the inevitable emotional upheavals we tend to experience as we grow older. [Read more…]

Graduations and Goodbyes

inconceivableThis past week, I came across the true story of a couple, Carolyn and Sean Savage, who underwent an IVF procedure after years of childlessness. They were elated to discover that Carolyn was finally pregnant, but that joy turned to shock as they realized that the clinic had made a medical mistake and impregnated her with an embryo from another couple. So the baby she was carrying wasn’t hers and Sean’s; it was someone else’s. The Savages were faced with an agonizing choice—they could terminate the pregnancy or they could bring the baby boy to term, birth him, and then hand him over to his biological parents. By the time they discovered the clinic’s mistake, they already loved the baby, which made it impossible for them to imagine how they could abort him. But it also made it impossible for them to imagine how they could give him life and then give him away. (The book is called Inconceivable.)

One of the taglines of the book really struck me. It says this:

Inconceivable is a story of what it is to be a parent, someone who nurtures a life, protects a soul, only to release that child into the world long before you’re ready to let him go.“ [Read more…]

Don’t Threaten to Punish Your Kids for Lying

Years ago, when my eldest son was very small, a single mother in our church was going through a life crisis, so we offered to let her 13 year old son live with us for several months to give his mother some breathing room while she tried to get her life back together.

He was generally a great kid and very popular at school, but he had an ongoing problem that tended to drive me crazy. He was a compulsive liar. He lied even when there was no reason to lie. It was disturbing to me and, I have to confess, I handled it poorly, not just because his lying caused a huge amount of frustration, but also because I couldn’t understand what could have driven someone his age to feel like he needed to lie all the time about everything. In the past, we had been foster parents to children from all sorts of terrible family situations, but none of them had ever lied to the extent that Edward (not his real name) did.

I hadn’t thought about Edward in years until a couple of weeks ago when I heard a speaker mention research that tried to determine which qualities were the best predictors of popularity. This study followed children through their growing-up years into adulthood and considered factors such as pleasing physical characteristics, outgoing personalities, and so forth. But the one factor that differentiated the most popular children and adults from their less popular peers was that the most popular people were the best liars.

Pretty disturbing, huh? [Read more…]

Winter is a time for special projects

snow-familyWinter is a good time to set the regular books aside for a while and concentrate on a special project, particularly a unit study.

Unit Study takes a theme or topic (a unit of study) and delves into it deeply over a period of time, integrating language arts, science, social studies, math, and fine arts as they apply. Instead of studying eight or ten separate, unrelated subjects, all subjects are blended together and studied around a common theme or project and all ages study the same topic together at the same time, just at different levels of difficulty. [Read more…]

Homeschooling Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

clutterIn an earlier post, I shared about my father’s boyhood and the lessons he taught me about winter. Because he grew up in a farm family, spring, summer and fall were the “working” seasons when the family’s effort went into preparing a good harvest and making sure the harvest was “put up” by winter. But winter was an important season too—a time for reflecting over the past year and thinking through what you did right or could have done better. It was a time of planning, of renewing vision, and of marshalling resources to be used in the next season of growth. It was a time of sharpening tools and fixing machinery, of undertaking special projects, and…winter was a time for having fun. [Read more…]