Hope for the Hesitant Reader

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“HELP! My five-year-old can’t remember her letter sounds!”

“Should I be worried that my first grader isn’t reading yet?”

“I don’t know what to do, it seems like my seven-year-old hates any mention of books and refuses to read at all.”

These are just a smidgen of the frantic posts I’ve read in various homeschool groups I’m apart of on Facebook. They are the fears that have been unearthed in hushed conversations between concerned dual educator-parents. They sum up the discouraged thoughts of numerous homeschool moms like you and especially like me!

To be honest, some of these moms may have taken a page out of my own Worried Mom Handbook, because these same anxieties have swirled round and round my head over the days, weeks and months past.

Well, in the words of the handful of gray haired, homeschooling moms with whom I’ve had the privilege to know…

“Take a deeeeeeep breath mama!! You’re doing GREAT!”

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For the rest of my life, I will affectionately refer to these seasoned women as MY Homeschool Gurus! And for good reason too. Countless times, they’ve talked me off the proverbial homeschool ledge that would have plunged me into the depths of falsely believing I would be the sole cause for my child’s inability to read.

And if you’re anything like me, you may be teetering the line that may cause you to freak out every two weeks or so as you travel along this homeschool journey.

I know it may not feel possible, but trust the process. Your hesitant reader will definitely pick it up in his or her own time!

I guess I can say this because I must confess that I also have a hesitant reader. When it comes to her reading progress, she seems to be in a different place than other children her age.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret…

I’m slowly learning to be okay with that.

As moms, I think we can be overly hard on ourselves. And then, when you tack on the word ‘Homeschool’ in front of that very honored title, there’s an added element of worry, angst and self doubt that we carry. We push our kids bcause we worry what others will think of their academic success. We stress about them falling behind their peers. There’s times we even fear they won’t progress at all.

But there is hope!

Continue to read good, quality books to your hesitant reader. Don’t shy away from playing lots of games to help her recognize letters. Recite poems. Hang word cards throughout your house…label your fridge, the microwave and even the television. Read the signs in the grocery store aloud. Read nursery rhymes together.

But most importantly, don’t give up!

The best thing you can do is figure out how your child learns.

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This is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Just because you may need to adjust your teaching  approach doesn’t mean you have failed your child!!

To be honest, this is what I’ve had to do with my own daughter.

Sometimes we focus so much on what our kids aren’t doing, we forget to see what they already CAN do! 

I noticed this one day on an uneventful car ride to an even more uneventful place on an equally uneventful day. The repeated way my daughter was sounding out S-T-O-P on the bright red signs we passed on our route made me take notice.

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As I tuned in, I realized she was reading

…and not only that, she was reading like nobody’s business!

That day, and the many more days we’ve had since then is truly something to celebrate!!

I learned a very valuable lesson, and it was this:

Reading was already coming to her.

It may have been slower than I wanted…

It may not have been the way in which I preferred…

But the simple truth was…

It WAS coming!

The same is true already OR will be soon enough of your hesitant reader!

Hang in there mama, they WILL get it.

And at that time, you’ll need a new nickname for them. But I actually think the nickname “Brilliant Learner” fits them quite nicely already! 😉

Until next time, keep doing what you do. Your child will be all the better for it!

Blessings,

Courtney

Pain Medicine

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Despite what modern day thinking and medical practices currently show, for the Christian, pain doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility to remain active. In times of spiritual drought, emotional or physical pain, fatiguing situations and nagging problems, we must commit to still follow THE Doctor’s orders. God Almighty, the doctor of our souls, has been giving us life saving instructions since the beginning of time.

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 His Holy Word, the Bible doesn’t say, “Obey my commands when you’re feeling up to it.” It doesn’t comfort us with, “Read two scriptures and call me in the morning.” Nor does the Eternal, Triune God say, “Once this season of weariness is over and you’re feeling up to it, we’ll find time to reconnect again.” Nope, nada, I don’t think so!

Over the course of history, the inspired word of God has told believers, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” (Jn. 14.15)

Lately, I’ve been encountering emotional, spiritual and interpersonal pain that has severely taxed my mind, body and soul. It’s led to nights of tears instead of sweet slumber, days of ruminating instead of relaxation and headaches that linger with no relief in sight. 

This weekend, as I spent time on a plane traveling with my mother-in-law to a girls’ trip for just the two of us to celebrate her 60th birthday, sleep on the plane did not come easily. 

When I tried to shut my eyes and get some rest, my thoughts traveled to my present circumstances, wondering what I should do. I prayed silently, asking God for wisdom on how I can obey him in these situations; fully aware that I have no clue how to exactly do that. 

I opened my notepad on my iPhone and reread the numerous scriptures I typed out a day earlier to gain some clarity, encouragement and direction. 

One verse in particular from 1 John 2 at the end of verse 5 and continuing into verse 6 reads: 

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

The last part especially struck me as something to ponder more deeply…

“Must walk as Jesus did.” 

There was no mistake, coincidence or fluke that the Holy Spirit led John to write those hallowed words. 

It actually makes complete sense. If we say we are Jesus’ followers, it’s only natural for us to then walk as he did. 

I have a five year-old-daughter who absolutely LOVES to play copycat. You remember that annoyingly fun, childhood pastime everyone hates to love. The gist of it goes something like this:

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At any given time, usually without warning, some kid would choose to mimic any and everyone around him. What’s crazy is it didn’t matter what those people said or did, the more extreme, the better. 

Most times it got pretty interesting if the person being copied decided to do something totally gross, even if that meant sticking a finger in their nose. 

The unspoken question of the hour for the self proclaimed mimic would be, are you willing to go the distance and follow their lead no matter how ridiculous the cost? Or, are you going to break your game and go on with life as usual?

The same can be asked of any believer, the only difference being we haven’t chosen our roles. It’s been etched out for us. Those of us endowed with faith in our hearts to believe the Gospel, are given the title of Christian. In fact the Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph. 2.8).

Because of this, we are literally “Christ Followers”. The five year-old translator in me would say, we are “Christ copycats”! 

So, what now?

The age old call of any believer to discipleship is a willingness to follow Christ as he leads his church. Individually speaking, once we are a Christian, will we do as Eugene H. Peterson puts it and walk out “a long obedience in the same direction”? 

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It’s all fun and games when following Christ leads to good gifts from our Father of heavenly lights. But what about when following Christ doesn’t leave you with the same warm and tingly feeling you experienced the first day you met him?

What about the “icky” times? When you’re not feeling so well – spiritually speaking that is? What about when he calls you to give up some things? He may not bid you to copy him by sticking your finger in your nose but what about when he asks you to do something just as awkward? 

It’s in these times of trial and testing that we all must look in the mirror of our souls and ask ourselves, “Am I willing to follow the Doctor’s orders?” Will we follow  Jesus and walk as he did even if it doesn’t make sense? Even when everything and everyone around us is pointing anywhere but where he wants to lead? 

My earnest prayer is that we can AND will cry with a resounding voice, “YES!”

For that truly is the only medicine for our pained and weary souls. 

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God bless you and thanks for reading. I hope to talk with you soon.

Be encouraged.

Blessings,

Courtney

 

The Brown Kids’ Booklist: Stocking Stuffer Edition

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Hello my friends!

Can you believe the Christmas holiday is just around the corner? Where did this year go?  I don’t usually consider myself a hater, but I’m not quite over the fact yet that we’ve had to exchange the squishy warmth of sand between our toes for the bunchy bulk of winter coats and knee length boots. But alas, here were are.

It’s not all for naught really since Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday. I’m sure many of us have been engaging in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping as of late. There’s plenty of cooking, baking and prepping to go around. And I know all too well the temptation to go all out with gift giving.

Even in this, a tradition has recently taken root with each birthday and Christmas that rolls around for my nephews. No matter the toy-related occasion, we are always sure to also give each boy a book featuring African American characters. I’m sure by now, my kids are already used to the passion I have in exposing them to characters who look like them. But I’m so glad for the opportunity to now celebrate our brilliant blackness with my nephews as well!

In this same vein, I wanted to give a gift that will keep on giving to you, my readers, in this holiday season. So without further ado, here is another installment in my ever growing Brown Kids’ Booklist. This time it’s the Stocking Stuffer Edition!

I hope you’re able to find some goodies and I look forward to talking with you soon!

Oh, and feel free to “borrow” my tradition for yourself this holiday season! 😉

1.) Let’s Bake!: Ladi, Liz & Cam by Julia Lassa, Illustrated by Merve Terzi

This little cutie of a book is the second in the Ladi, Liz & Cam series. With Ladi a girl, Liz a lizard and Cam a chameleon…oh, and did I mention baking, what could possibly go wrong? This delightful story of friendship and reptiles is perfect timing to inspire some holiday baking!

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2.) The Swift Walker series by Verlyn Tarlton, Illustrated by Allejandro Chamberlain

Swift Walker’s speedy legs take him on adventures no kid would want to miss, while learning real life facts along the way! This series is everything you’d want in a textbook minus the boring text!

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3.) Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale by Josh Funk, Illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo

I remember the excitement of receiving my first pen pal letter when I was a young girl. Now as a parent, I get to witness the joy of my own girls when they receive letters from their pen pals. In Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale you’ll meet two of the most unlikely pen pals to ever pick up a pen! This unique children’s book tells the story of George and Blaise, pen pals who have no clue one is a dragon and the other is a human! Read on to see what happens when they finally meet.

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 4.) The Princess Truly series by Kelly Greenawalt, Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher

Princess Truly is truly a princess! With magical hair and a personality to match, she’s the delight of all. She loves to read but especially loves to solve problems with the help of her pug, Sir Noodles. Princess Truly would be a fantastic addition to your home library. Trust me, your little princess will thank you later!

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5.) Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Ever grow weary of your child’s endless questions? Well, don’t dismay, Ada Twist, Scientist has the answers! And when she doesn’t, she digs for more. In this fun-loving nod to female  scientists who have gone before her, Ada Twist, Scientist is sure to be a winner with her curiosity. Trust me, it doesn’t kill the cat!

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6.) I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl by Betty K. Bynum, Illustrated by Claire Armstrong Parod

Betty K. Bynum’s I’m a Girl Collection has already won over countless girls everywhere! I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl is a welcomed addition to this series and it won’t disappoint. In it, readers are introduced to Mia, an energetic, friendly (and don’t forget pretty) little black girl shows us what confidence in simply being YOU can really mean! My girls and I loved this book and we know you’ll love it too!

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7.) I’m a Brilliant Little Black Boy by Joshua B. Drummond and Betty K. Bynum, Illustrated by Brian McGhee

We can’t leave out our black boys now, can we? The story of Joshua in I’m a Brillaint Little Black Boy ensures just that. Joshua has big dreams to match his brilliant mind! He shows us that hard work, kindness and a great imagination can go the distance in achieving our aspirations.

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8.) Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

What a fun take on the timeless Mother Goose rhyme, Mary Had a Little Lamb! In this glammed up remix, Mary knows a lot about fashion and even more about style! So when she must help her now fashion forward friends find out what to wear for recess, she knows exactly what to do! Join Mary and a few of her other beloved children’s classic characters on this fashionable ride. You will be amazed at Mary’s keen eye for fashion!

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9.) Christmas Makes Me Think by Tony Medina, Illustrated Chandra Cox

Christmas is such an exciting time for children all over the world! The lights, the wonder and the presents makes it the best time of year. In this thoughtful tale, a young boy shares the same anticipation for what he will get and what he will do during this season of joy. But then, he begins to think about the people who may not have the same Christmas experience. Christmas Makes Me Think is a good reminder that for many, this time of year may not be as shiny or new but with love and care and a little thoughtfulness, we can make a difference!

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10.) The Snowman Shuffle by Christianne C. Jones, Illustrated by Emma Randall

Why not end with a little dance and jig to round out our Brown Kids Booklist: Stocking Suffer Edition? When I saw this book I just had to include it! If you know me, you know that I live for having fun. Well, with The Snowman Shuffle, you’ll be doing just that as we enter into this season of wintery weather. So get ready to move because you’ll be in for a good time!

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I hope you’ll make all these books a part of your home library collection this holiday season! They are well worth their weight in gold. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanza and the happiest of holidays to you all!

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Blessings,

Courtney

 

Guest Post for Growing Up Gorgeous – It’s God’s Grace!

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Hey guys!

I hope this dreary Tuesday finds you all well. Last week was quite eventful given the lead up to Thanksgiving. I finally feel like I’m finding my rhythm this week. After my turkey binge, I decided to make a good life decision and get back to some semblance of a work-out routine. I’m pleased to report that today I successfully resisted the urge to hug my sheets a few minutes longer after my alarm sounded. I completed a very tiring 19-minute yoga workout. <PHEW!> Court for the win! 😉

With all the hustle and bustle of prepping, baking, cooking, teaching and cleaning last week, I failed to share something VERY exciting. Last Monday, I was featured as a guest blogger for my friend Christina Acosta-Martinez’ very cool organization, Growing Up Gorgeous! The Growing Up Gorgeous (GG for short) website is spot on when it states, “[GG] exists to establish a community of diverse women in the South Jersey area who support, exhort and encourage one another along the journey of motherhood.”

Let me tell ya, the wonderful women of GG mean it! When I attended their launch event in September I was blown away by the amount of love shown by women from all walks of life. There was a universal recognition amongst the attendees that mothers need encouragement. The warmth experienced by all was evidence that that kind of uplift can come directly from other women and mothers.

This is why when I was invited to write a blog post for the GG blog page, I was compelled to oblige. Participation in telling God’s story for my life while also giving encouragement to others was something I could not turn down. So without further ado, here is my featured blog post for Growing Up Gorgeous entitled, “It’s God’s Grace“!

Thanks for reading and I look forward to talking with you soon!

Blessings,

Courtney

 

5 (or 6) Reasons You’re Able to Teach Your Child!

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Hey guys,

How are ya?! It feels like it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve missed ya! Once I came off my sugar high from Halloween this month has proved to be busier than I anticipated. Does anyone else feel that way or is it just me? Anybody?…Anybody??…Okay, maybe it’s just me! HA!

Anywho, I wanted to check in and let you know I’m super excited about what this blog is becoming. I made mention of this in a previous post but I’ve gotta say it again. At this point I probably need to update my “About Me” Page. Yes, I’ll be continuing to write about my children’s author aspirations but in the meantime it’s safe to say I’ll be writing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some posts it will be homeschool life, others will be parenting posts, some days may be updates about how my book(s) are coming along. Fair enough? Okay, good! Lol

Today I’m hoping this post will be short and sweet because dinner is on the stovetop and I’ve spent most of the day doing a bunch of random household items and a sista’s TIRED!

As you may already know, I’m a proud homeschooling mama…and I love it!

Equally, I’ve had many-a-conversation with current homeschooling moms. I’ve also spoken to moms who aren’t doing the home education thing right now but desperately wish to. And I’ve talked to plenty of moms who are completely fine with embracing the traditional 8 hour school setting for their crew. The funny thing is these three “types” of moms have more in common than they would think.

They all have a desire on some level to instruct their children. So if you fall into one of those categories, this post is for you.

Conversely, if you’re a lady but not a mom yet or if you don’t have support from those around you to affirm your desire to teach your kids, this post is also for you. My passion is to encourage and empower moms and moms-to-be everywhere! No matter your season of life you can play a vital role in the instruction of your children.

So buckle in tight…here’s 5 (or 6) reasons why you ARE able to teach your child!

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1. For starters, you’re at least voting age – This means you’ve already accumulated a lifetime’s worth of knowledge which is way more than the little person in your care who has your eyes or favors your grandpa’s smile. In your every day conversations over dinner, after they’ve played with their friends and while you do the dishes, don’t be afraid to pass on some of that knowledge!

2. Do you like to travel and do you have a library card? – If so, then you have the ability to experience the sights and sounds of this great big world. Did you know Theodor Giesel aka Dr. Seuss illustrated political cartoons during World War II? Yup, I can thank the easy-reader my oldest daughter once borrowed from the local library for all the random facts I now know about his life.

As the great hymnist once sang, “Take a look, it’s in a book – Reading Rainbow.” But seriously guys, I feel like my brain has accumulated more knowledge than I can account for so I know for a fact my kids are becoming baby geniuses!

3. YouTube – That’s right…YouTube! This one needs no introduction. Let me tell y’all, YouTube has become a mainstay in my weekly lesson plans. This year alone, we’ve been to a sugarcane farm in Senegal to examine their irrigation system. Just last month, our tour of a water treatment facility in Canada allowed us to see the water purification process for how water goes from a river to your faucet. And on a more recent “trip” to Morocco,  we learned how to create Henna designs on our hands. Simply put, YouTube has it all and so much more!

4. If YouTube is your jam then allow Pinterest to become your jawn! – First of all can the person who came up with Pinterest please take a bow?! Pinterest has saved me more times than I can count. This is especially true when my brain has been really fried and I couldn’t possibly think up another cute craft to compliment our Solar System Unit. One time, we were able to transform q-tips, black paper and some glue into miniature x-rays to help us better enhance our lesson on the letter “X”. Trust me, using Pinterest very well may be one of the best decisions you make in your life!

And lastly…

5. Have you ever looked out the window while on a car ride? – This sounds weird. I know, its an annoyingly obnoxious question but hear me out. If the kitchen is your homeroom, let the car be your classroom. Whether you’re going on a short trip to the bank or on an hour-long trip to grab some yummy apple cider from Linvilla, get used to the idea that the car can be a place where major learning happens.

Some weeks ago, I loaded the kiddies up with snacks, books and toys and embarked on a 2 hour trip to Crystal Cave. I actually HATE road trips and that day was no different. But, it turned into a pretty cool car ride. We were able to learn what the various highway signs meant in order to answer the question, “If we traveled WEST to get to the caves, which direction would we need to travel in order to get home?” And when I got really tired of talking, I pulled up PBSKids.org on my phone and let it do the teaching for me. All this to say, car rides can be a place where you are able to teach even in the absence of desks and notebooks.

That’s all I got folks! Thanks for reading. This list could go on and on but it’s Saturday night and bedtime can’t come soon enough for these kids!

Oh yeah, I’ve got one more way in which I know you are able to teach your child. 😉

You can do so by checking out my newly minted Facebook page Able to Teach! Didja catch how all throughout this post I’ve been slowly brainwashing you to visit my page by subtly mentioning the phrase “able to teach”?

*Insert evil laugh!*

But for real, I’m a testament to the fact that anyone is able to teach. I started my adult life with plans to own a private counseling practice. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined where the winding journey of this life would lead me. This is why, if you want some mom-spiration for fresh ideas or to see my really cute kids doing what they do best…learning…make your way on over to my page!

Trust me, you’re able to teach and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! 🙂

Until next time my friends,

Courtney

A Mother’s Prayer

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Every night at about 8:05PM the sound of familiar voices resounds off the eternal corridors of heaven. Like clockwork, the tiny voices of the “Dunlap Three” utter some variation of these words, “Dear Jesus, thank you for today. It was fun. Please help me to have a fun day tomorrow. Amen”. These hopeful petitions of our children have become customary in our household. It’s almost to the point that my husband and I can only chuckle at their unashamedly self-centered entreaties. I mean, in today’s world who could blame these poor souls for wanting some semblance of fun in the midst of the all consuming requirements of phonics work, addition problems, reading, writing, and immense loads of play that fill up their days?

Funny enough, I found myself mimicking the prayers of my eight, five, and three-year-olds yesterday afternoon. The only difference being they wasn’t as cute neither were they as unwittingly innocent in their selfish implications.

Can I be honest?

Yesterday was just one of those days y’all!! For the greater portion of the day, I tallied all the compacted stressors I experienced.

For starters, we’re a ministry family, so Mondays are very important in our home. It’s our Family Day. The one day out of the week we can actually push pause and focus on one another. I look forward to this one day out of our busy week in which my husband and I are able to rest. It seems that rest is a luxury we are not always afforded. In actuality, the past six Mondays have had to be reconstructed into a shortened version of our Family Day. We’ve had to make room for our middle daughter to participate in ballet lessons. This is something I’m thrilled she can participate in since Misty Copeland is one of her sheroes. I love that Layla can do something that helps her identify with such a graceful and talented role model.

The down side however, is a bit obvious, given my initial statements about the strains of ministry life. Yesterday began no differently. An unusually frazzled weekend and failure to plan well on my part led to my typically mild temperament being short lived.  I could see the the spoils of this much needed rest day slowly slipping from my grasp.

After leaving later than necessary for the final session of my daughter’s ballet class, I was annoyed. Once home, I gave my girls their marching orders of what assignments remained. I was met with inconvenient push back from the oldest. If you’ve ever wondered how fast a highly intelligent, above proficiency level second grader can cry over math work she already knows, trust me it’s quicker than you can slap your mama! Her sniffles and complaints and “I don’t know hows” were grating on my last nerve.

Since it’s that time in our grocery cycle in which the cupboards are a bit low, lunch still needed to be made, not microwaved. Not to mention the ground turkey for dinner was a frozen chunk of raw meat in our fridge. My hubs was nowhere in sight (he was most likely upstairs nursing the beginnings of a migraine). And the younger two were wandering the living room doing who knows what.

By 2:00PM, I HAD HAD IT! I was too through with this day as I angrily prepared tuna fish melts! Slamming pans, mayo, and other things was now up for grabs in my mind. Unlike the cutesy bedtime prayers of my children, before I knew it, my tirade against God was in full effect. “Why does HE get to check-out while I have to do ALL the work?!” “I HATE this!” “It’s not fair that I have to do everything!” “If this little girl doesn’t get herself together I’m going to scream!” “I’m about to just walk out this door, get in the car and keep driving!” My internal hissy fit went on and on and on and on and…you get the picture.

I stopped short of throwing the spatula against the wall although I envisioned myself doing it.

Needless to say, my rant proved that I could care LESS about having a “fun” day today, tomorrow, or any day for that matter. The pressures of life, the frustrations with my calling, the loneliness of my situation, the fatigue of my weekend, my anger toward my daughter, the disappointment of my day, my annoyance with my husband, and my disillusionment with God…were all too much to bare in that moment.

So, why am I telling you this?

Simply because many times we as moms feel we must wear the mask of having it all together. We’re the doctor, the seamstress, the laundress, the chef, the comforter, the referee and SO many other things! Days feel long and life seems short. With much toil and little fanfare, we keep the ship of our family’s life afloat and it can seem inconsequential to everyone but us.

But dear woman, be comforted in knowing that the God of heaven hears our silent cries, our adamant pleas, and our loud groans! Jesus was well acquainted with a mother’s pain. He gazed lovingly upon his weeping mother as he laid splayed upon that old rugged cross for the whole world to see. How do I know this?

It’s simple. The Son’s words reveal his mindfulness towards his mother.

“Woman, behold your son.”

Yes, Jesus is God…in the flesh. He is omniscient. So of course he knew all that Mary experienced as an earthly mother. But what’s even more amazing about our Lord is the fact that in his Incarnation, or in his humanity, he was able to see up close and personal the pressures and pulls, strains and drains, and needs and efforts of a mother. Let’s face it, for his time here on earth, he actually did have a mommy.

The words of Jesus that the Scriptures record in John 19:25-27 pulls back more of the curtain on his soft spot for his mother. The term momma’s boy has taken on a humorously negative tone in this day and age. But the fact that Jesus was willing to take a few moments out of his already “busy” day up on that cross shows us that he encompassed what a mother truly needs…HIM!

When it came time for Jesus to face the cross, he was also in tune with the cultural and societal implications of Mary’s looming fate. With the death of Mary’s oldest son and her presumed status as a widow, in that ancient society, she would have been left destitute. Had Jesus not intervened in Mary’s personal crisis, she would have been “dead broke and naked”. This is my dramatic phrase of choice I use all too loosely when describing the outcome of my money fears. Except in Mary’s case this would be no joking phrase but life itself.

This would have been the ultimate pain of a faithful life lived in servitude to her God. I wonder if Mary’s “Yes” on a commonly uncommon Nazareth day almost thirty-four years earlier was spoken in full comprehension of what it would one day lead to. For this question, I do not have the answer.

On the contrary, I can say with certainty that when I entered into the realm of motherhood, I had NO clue what I was signing up for! Nevertheless, I am comforted by the fact that Jesus, who knows everything, was concerned for his mother. For Jesus to ensure Mary was cared for by his beloved disciple, John, after his death was the ultimate act of care and love. Likewise, Jesus IS concerned with Noelle, Layla and Curtis Jr.’s mom as well!

So, when I angrily pray, resentfully serve (is that even a thing??) and begrudgingly give in to my heavenly Father’s plan, Jesus is on the throne looking upon me with the same concern he felt towards his own grieving mother. He does not only care for my spiritual needs. You see, something like that would be too limited for him. But he is big enough to ensure my earthly needs are met as well! I pray this comforting truth will encourage your hearts to pray one more prayer today, no matter how selfish. He hears, he understands and he WILL act!

Blessings dear friends. Keep pressing!

In love,

Courtney

 

 

 

 

 

Mother, May I?

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The sounds of children squealing and the blur of colorful fall jackets whisking over the pavement of the weathered but love worn school yard can be deafening. Its recess and its as if Christmas has come early for this group of eight and nine-year-old school children. Their day has been mostly filled with addition facts and state capital memorization so this timely break has brought a joy over them they can’t contain. In the middle of the yard, you see a line of children forming with the tallest girl in the fourth grade standing on the opposite side. She’s the designated facilitator since her towering height over anyone else has secured her election as the matriarch of this school yard. And then, without warning, you hear these barely audible words bellowing from the frame of a lanky girl in a yellow sweater in the midst of giggles and shrieks from her classmates :

“Mother, may I take two huge steps?”

“No, you may not take two huge steps.” Is the response of the taller girl. “But you can take two teeny, weeny steps.”

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If you were born in the 80’s, like I was, the stakes in the game of “Mother, May I” from recesses of old were astronomically high! Many a “BFF” relationship was severed over the very crucial decision making skills of the person assuming the role of the mother when eight and nine-year-olds were involved.

Its funny how now as a thirty *cough* something year old mother myself, I can still feel the beads of sweat rolling down my neck as I have to decide the number of proverbial steps, huge leaps, twirls and any other forward motion movements my children must make in this life. What’s even more scary is that in my case, getting to the other side of the yard to win the game is no longer the goal, real life has upped the ante!

As a homeschooling mother, I also feel the residue of this recess past-time as I go about making daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly decisions on what curriculum to use, what unit studies we’ll cover and how I can avoid going for broke in paying for it all.

I started this blog with the intentions of chronicling my writing journey as I pursue becoming a published author. This is still my plan. However, as of late, I have sensed it is starting to morph into a little more. And I’m okay with that. My passion for homeschooling is impossible to ignore. Not too long ago, I created a Facebook page dedicated to showcasing how we as moms are able to teach our own children. In fact, the name of the page is a dead ringer, its called Able to Teach. Check it out when you get a chance, you won’t be disappointed! It’s my hope that any woman or mom desiring to teach their kids, no matter the capacity, will leave my page feeling uplifted and encouraged to do just that. In fact, this is why I come to you today with this post.

Mother, may I make a suggestion about what you can start doing now in order to be able to teach your children? What you’ll find refreshingly different in my list from any typical game of “Mother, May I”, is that today, you will hear what you can do!

So, without further ado…

  1. Mother, can you click?

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I’m not talking about a clique but I’m talking about a click, an actual click of your mouse. You can click to join a homeschooling Facebook group, scour Pinterest, view YouTube, search Google, or almost anything else you can think of. The beauty is it’s all from the keys of your device. There is a TON of information out there. A simple search will yield countless Facebook groups you can join dedicated to homeschooling. What’s even better is these fine ladies have gone so far as to create specialty groups highlighting almost any homeschool interest that tickles your fancy. And if you can’t find it, then YOU can be the mother who creates it. These four years of homeschooling have been so enriched by all the resources, tips, tricks and ideas I’ve stumbled upon just by simply clicking a few tiny black keys.

2. Mother, can you thrift?

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I used to HATE going to the dank, dark, dreary, and some times odiferous establishment of  a thrift store in my pre-kid days. Shoot, even in my post-kid days I’ve hated it at times! But now, oooh but now that I am a full-fledged homeschooling mama on a mission to not bankrupt my family, I’ve found a sort of hidden treasure when I go to these thrift stores. I cannot begin to tell you about all the gems I’ve discovered when I’ve found my way into a used item paradise. Seriously, if you overlook the book and DVD aisle you’ll be kicking yourself. And please don’t think for one moment that the balls of yarn crammed into the back of that shelf cannot become an amazing art, science, knitting, or whatever you can imagine project. Thrifting has saved me so much money and I know you thrifty mommas will be able to say the same.

3. Mother, can you swap?

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Ahhhh, swapping! It’s like music to my ears. Swapping has become one of my best used secrets in my arsenal of tricks to keep the costs of home education down. This doesn’t have to be a big production either. And I’m not just talking about books! I usually shoot out a text or an email or hit up one of those Facebook groups I mentioned earlier (the local ones) to see if anybody is interested. Who knows if your Bob Jones K-5 Math text can be valuable to a mom looking to unload her Writing Without Tears books. You’ll never know until you ask.

4. Mother, can you join?

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Joining a local play group, co-op or field trip group might be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to boosting your efforts to socialize your kiddos as you homeschool. How does one find said group you may ask. Well, start with enlisting the suggestions from #1 but this time try to narrow your search for local groups in your area. Can you believe I found a pop-up archery group in my city just by reading the thread from one of my local homeschool Facebook groups? We are also apart of a homeschoolers field trip group. Believe or not, but we found ours through attending a “How to Homeschool” workshop at our local library. Trust me, there’s so much out there right under our noses. We may just need to adjust our antennas.

And lastly,

5. Mother can you form?

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The whole joining a group thing sounds great and all; but you may ask, “What if I live in an area in which the homeschooling sea has all but dried up?” Well, I would look to form my own. For instance, I’m apart of several homeschooling moms groups on Facebook. Last school year, one mom suggested starting a book club for our daughters, which was such a good idea! We would achieve this through momma-chaperoned video correspondence between our girls. For some reason or another, this never quite materialized in the way I had hoped and I was kind of bummed. But its cool, I kept it moving by not letting the lack of what was available stop us from getting what we wanted. My daughter and I decided to start a book club of our own. This way, she could enjoy the books she loves but with the added benefit of doing it with friends she already has. So, on Saturday mornings, once a month, she connects with about two to three of her friends. These girls are actually in a traditional school setting but it doesn’t matter one bit when it comes to my daughter getting to read with her friends! Through all this, I’ve learned one valuable lesson dear momma…

If you already don’t have it, you can form it!

I am convinced this is not an all inclusive list of all the things you can do as you homeschool your children. The best thing about homeschooling is that you CAN do any and everything you want in order to best educate YOUR kids. Talk about empowerment! Its so exciting to be able to create, think up, borrow, use and re-use ideas of your own and of mothers you may meet along the way. This is probably one of the main reasons why I love homeschooling so much. The possibilities you have of presenting such crucial educational material to your children in the way that works best for your family are endless!

I hope you close this browser window today feeling inspired and empowered to be the mother you can and have always been!

Blessings,

Courtney