Early Rate and $5 Discount Code

I don’t want to worry you or anything, but I’ve got urgent, gotta-do-something-now news for you:

This is your very last chance to get the best possible price on a Teach Them Diligently registration for your family if you plan to attend the Spartanburg or Nashville conventions.

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014 Spartanburg

Why should you, you ask? Well, from my own point of view, it’s partly because I’m only fifteen cents short of an affiliate payout for TTD. Gotta feed the blog, people.

But there are lots of great reasons for you to attend that have nothing whatsoever to do with my bank account. I won’t be able to attend this year, since we’re having a baby in March, but I sure wish I could. Last year I learned so much, and came home with such a better vision for bringing up my children, that I can’t imagine anybody not finding something to benefit them here. Even non-homeschoolers or pre-homeschoolers can learn a lot from the wonderful speakers about discipleship and loving our children into the kingdom.

Last year, my only complaint was that there wasn’t a time set aside for corporate worship. In Nashville, at least, that’s being taken care of. Keith and Kristyn Getty will be in Nashville on Friday, March 21:

Gettys

And now, rather than try harder to convince you to do something that I know you really do already want to do (don’t you?), I’m just going to go take a nap. Pregnant ladies need naps.

Check out using the code TTDSAVE5 by February 7th to get the best price on your family registration. (You can add extras like the children’s program and the men’s breakfast later, if you’re not quite ready to commit to those yet.)

Disclosure: In case it wasn’t already totally obvious, I stand to make a few dollars, at no extra charge to you, if you sign up for Teach Them Diligently through my links. Since some people think that that is an egregious conflict of interest, here is a non-affiliate link through which you may also sign up. Really, I just want you to get to a TTD convention. They’re awesome. Just don’t click any of the other links in this post first so you won’t have it on your conscience that I earned money because of you. Get your mommy blogger grain of salt right here.

God is Faithful

There’s a reason I’m blogging less often these days. I’ve been adjusting to a whole new family dynamic, and I just haven’t had the emotional energy to write very much. When we first moved into this house five years ago, Jesse had taken a new position at work. Around the same time, he had also had a wisdom tooth extracted. He also started to get headaches, at first once or twice a week, and then more frequently as time went on. For the last four years or so, he had non-stop headaches, fairly mild in the morning, then by afternoon and evening, unbearable. The absolute best he could feel was kind of OK, and that only with massive doses of narcotics. (For which I thank both the Lord and the doctor who was willing to prescribe them.)

Except for the stress of having to earn all of the money, which Jesse always managed somehow to do, I was living the life of a single mom. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that. Jesse and I have both written about it occasionally. We could not find the right combination of treatments, or even pinpoint the cause of the pain to a certainty. We’ve thought it might be:

  • environmental (new home)
  • environmental (new job)
  • TMJ (tooth extraction)
  • Blood pressure (it is a bit high)
  • Diet (My darling has a soda-pop and hot-pockets habit.)
  • A Job-like curse

He’s been to a neurologist, a chiropractor, a dentist specializing in TMJ, probably some other people I’ve forgotten about, and finally, he just gave up. I resigned myself to the crushing loneliness, and he resigned himself to the constant pain. Neither of us had much hope left of finding even the cause, much less a cure for the problem. But neither of us lost hope in the One who has redeemed us.

So we just kept going on like that. He popping pills and spending six days out of seven in bed when he wasn’t at work, and I learning to keep the rest of it going all by myself. I don’t want to make it sound all terrible and tragic, but…well, it was getting terrible and tragic! Nothing is lonelier than chronic pain. The rest of the world tends to forget about you after a while. (If you know someone who has chronic pain, please, please, visit them and pray with them. It means so much.) If Jesus hadn’t been always present, always making himself known in our lives through those small mercies he poured out in the form of prayers and encouragement from friends–many of whom are this blog’s readers, and THANK YOU!–I don’t think we’d have survived all of that with our sanity intact.

Want to hear something amazing? For the last few weeks, Jesse has had about one mild headache a week. The thing that changed? He got a promotion. That promotion means he is no longer sitting in a cubicle all day typing and geeking and doing whatever it was he was doing as a QA guy. He still has a desk, but he’s moving around more, and his new job as director of technical support involves talking. All day long, he talks to people. You wouldn’t think that would be such a big deal, but as it turns out, TMJ really was his problem. All this talking, moving around, and changing posture more often has kept the swelling in his jaw and the consequent muscle and head pain at bay for the last month! The only times he’s had headaches have been those days when he was at home and didn’t get enough activity to keep all of those muscles and joints working.

So that is why I haven’t blogged much. I thought it was because I was just uninspired, but really, I’ve been on cloud nine. I just haven’t had the desire to sit down and write much. I’m too busy getting used to being around the guy I’d come to think of as the ghost that slept in my bed. He’s ALIVE! Resurrections are kind of a big deal, don’t you think?

Praise God, people! I know that there was nothing much supernatural about Jesse’s pain (poor Job probably had an identifiable infection, too, with all those boils and stuff). And I know that the cure isn’t especially supernatural. But God HAS moved supernaturally, both during this long illness, and after it. He has provided for our family through a wonderful work family that understood and endured Jesse’s many sick days. God has helped Jesse through the long days of pain without giving up. Even through all the fog of medications and pain, Jesse developed a valuable new product for his company, and that product was a huge boost to his career.

You can’t tell me God wasn’t in that–in the strong work ethic that made Jesse keep trying when nobody would have blamed him for giving up, in the moments of relief that always came just when we really couldn’t take any more, in the hymns and verses that would arise unbidden in our minds during the darkest hours–God was always in it.

And now that things are getting easier, He is still here! The hardest thing for me to come to terms with in all of this good stuff happening is that I’m a little bit hand-shy. I keep waiting for somebody to say “Just kidding!” and yank the rug out from under us. Once you’ve resigned yourself to living without bitterness in rather bitter circumstances, it can be hard to suddenly realize that you might get to have a normal life after all. I’m not even sure how to describe it, except that the first few weeks of this were anxiety-ridden. Every day, I’d try to keep my hopes down so I wouldn’t be disappointed when Jesse walked through the door with another headache. But also, there was a fear in the back of my mind that I’d get too comfortable and forget how to lean on those Everlasting Arms in all of this cushy living.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –C. S. Lewis

My husband is able to go to church and family gatherings with me. He can go shopping and take the trash, and play with the kids, and discipline them, and correct his headstrong, impulsive wife. He can do all of those husband and daddy things that I had just written off as not meant for this family. I confess, I haven’t been as joyful as I could be about it. It’s not that I’m not extremely happy, but there was an undercurrent of anxiety that I just couldn’t shake. In all this fun, I’ve been scared to death of losing sight of the One who has been my strength. That’s not a bad thing to be mindful of, really. The happy and the healthy do tend to lose sight of God more easily, having fewer reminders of their frailty. But I have to learn to trust, even now, that God has a plan to use my good times for His glory as well!

My circumstances have changed. That makes me nervous. Also, really giddy. But my God is not changing. He never will. When He shouted “Trust me!” back then, He was no more or less trustworthy than He is right this moment.

God is GOOD. All the time. Praise Him!

 

Impulsive

I always have been. That might be why I deleted my Facebook pages and stopped using Facebook FOREVAR!!1!! without really stopping to consider whether that was the best course of action.

Here’s the thing, though. I missed a whole bunch of people, including reader interactions, far more than I thought I would.

Here’s the other thing, though. I really was using Facebook too much. Like, way, way, too, too much. My family deserves my attention more than that.

So, in an attempt to make this thing manageable, I’m going to put Facebook on my daily schedule. That way, there will be set times I can be on there, and I can (hopefully) make myself stay off at all the other times. I had a nice, quiet break for a few weeks, but I am not able to permanently step away from Facebook. There are too many people who use it to keep friends up-to-date on their lives, and they shouldn’t have to go to any extra trouble just to keep up with me. I was getting tons of calls and text messages and emails, and that was awesome, but every single one of them contained a “miss you on Facebook” that made me feel like maybe I was being too stand-offish, not being there. Who am I to expect people to go out of their way to communicate with me, right? Facebook is just easier for most people these days.

I still hate Facebook. But I love the people on it, so I’m there. Look me up.

Go ahead and laugh at me. It’s funny. :-)

Deceived

A book. Sorta.

By way of apology, I must confess that this ebook is not what I set out to write when I decided I would write a book on Christian families and fertility. It would seem that I’m more adept at making babies than writing books about making babies. As soon as I had an outline written and felt ready to start writing, I got pregnant. Maybe some women can write lengthy tomes with brains addled by pregnancy hormones, but I am not one of them.  There is some new writing here–about half of it, I guess–but it is not remotely what I set out to do.

I hope it is, at least, what God has set out for me to do. It can be so hard to know, sometimes. All I can really do is say what I think is right, and pray that God won’t let me mess things up too much.

Anyhow, here ya go:

Deceived: Little Lies..

ConDeceived is free for downloading, printing, sharing, quoting, reviewing, picking apart, and whatever else you want to do with it, so long as you properly attribute all of my work to me by linking to the download page, and don’t alter or misrepresent it in any way.

Print it out and tack it to some church doors, if you feel so inclined. Or it might be more appropriate to just tack it to a barn on a lonely road somewhere. I used to live near a man who nailed his semi-literate conspiracy theories about Abraham Lincoln and Jews and World War III to a barn by the side of the road. I used to stop by and read them, fearing the whole time that I was going to get a butt-full of bird-shot for my trouble. His mind had been eaten up by a lifelong habit of swilling lead-laced moonshine.

This ebook might be in the same vein, so take it with the usual grain of salt. I’m just a hillbilly mommy blogger. You never know what I might have been making my moonshine with.

Frustrated

I am. Right now. Hang in there just a little while longer, and I will give you an ebook. That’s why no blog posts right now.

UPDATE: Funny how fast a “little talk with Jesus” can fix things. Book’s up!

Phoenix Community Coffee (Giveaway)

Phoenix Community Coffee Giveaway (Pizza Not Included)

Breakfast of Champions. Remind me to give you my pizza dough recipe sometime.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. I would like you to enjoy some coffee. I would also like to buy some coffee for myself. Affiliate links can accomplish both of those goals. Thank you for your patronage.

I’ve been sipping on a new brand of coffee for the past couple of weeks. When I received my box of coffee, I had just decided that coffee was one of the areas in which I needed to to cut back spending. We need a bigger house, so the belt is tight right now. One thing a frugal shopper learns over time is that not everything that costs more is worth paying more for, and not everything that is low in price in low in quality.

But sometimes you get exactly what you pay for. After cutting back my spending on coffee for a little while, then quitting the black stuff altogether in disgust with what comes in the big, cheap, primary-colored cans at the grocery store, and finally getting a treat from the coffee fairy (aka the folks at Phoenix Community Coffee), I’ve learned that coffee is not one of those things that you can scrimp on and still have a good experience.

This is good coffee, y’all. And you do pay a good-coffee price for it. I could, if I had the vocabulary for it, start throwing around terms like “fair trade” and “single origin,” but the truth is that you probably know more about that stuff than I do. All I know is that the reason you’re paying more is so that the people who work to produce the coffee can earn a good wage. Furthermore, the proceeds from Phoenix Community Coffee fund charitable endeavors in the communities of both the farmers and the sellers of the coffee.

From the Phoenix Community website:

Aware of the importance of accountability and relationships, at Phoenix Community Coffee Company we purchase our coffee direct from the coffee farm at a price substantially more than the “fair-trade” minimum. Purchasing direct ensures maximum compensation to our farmers and their workers resulting in daily wages over 300% more than other farms.

Each bag of Phoenix Community Coffee sold also resources domestic relief projects such as ending the commercial exploitation of children, ending homelessness, restoring abuse victims, supporting single mothers, and much more. We call it The Cycle of Relief.

Learn more: Find out how Phoenix Community Coffee helps both farmers and the needy at the same time by clicking here.

Buy: You can buy Phoenix Community Coffees from their website. You can get free shipping on orders of 3 bags or more.

Win: One Get Along Home reader will win a generous package of coffee from Phoenix Community Coffee:

  • One 12 oz. bag of Phoenix Community’s most popular coffee, Mid-City, a medium roast

and  7 fractional packages:

  • caramel
  • chocolate
  • decaf
  • french vanilla
  • half-caff
  • hazelnut
  • peppermint chocolate (my favorite)

These each include 1.5 oz of coffee, enough for 8-10 cups in your home coffee maker. This is the same assortment I’ve been enjoying. You want it? You can have it! Well, one of you can, anyway.

How to enter: Just leave a comment. Cream and sugar or black?

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, January 17, 2014. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. You can leave as many comments as you like, but only the first comment will be considered a valid entry. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a free package of coffee from Phoenix Community Coffee in order to facilitate this giveaway. There are affiliate links in this post. If you buy, I get paid a portion of your purchase, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Get Along Home!

Happy Independence Day!

Yes, I know tomorrow is New Year’s Day. But I’m declaring independence anyway.

If you’ll look to the right sidebar you’ll notice that I no longer have a Facebook widget there to entice you to follow me there. There are several reasons for this, the chief of them that social media was pulling me away from my children, my husband, my rest, and my studying, and it simply had to stop. In last several months, Facebook has so effectively tweaked its algorithms to keep readers on their site that I couldn’t get off the stupid thing.

I was drowning in the voices of people who are both completely irrelevant to my life and useless to teach me anything. Facebook is a habit-forming, shallow product, and I want nothing else to do with it. Not only does it suck me in, but I’m also providing content for Zuckerberg et. al that makes them money and sucks other people into mindlessly wasting time they don’t have, as well. It might be entertaining, but it is not very edifying.

Having cut that chatter out of my life completely and found that the only thing I’ve “lost” is about 2,700 sets of eyeballs that weren’t really watching anyway, I’ve started noticing some other ways that the internet, including this here blog, has thrown stumbling blocks into my family’s path. I’ve stopped tracking my stats, turned off Google alerts, and done several other things that bloggers who want to succeed are definitely not supposed to do. That’s OK. I want to succeed, but not at the expense of my real work.

While blogging at GAH! has been a very positive thing, most of the things that go with blogging—social media, networking with other bloggers for “opportunities”, trying to keep one finger on the pulse of the marketing trends of the day (hello, Pinterest, you idiot!)—have not. I’ll bet even those of us who don’t blog are finding themselves sucked into the screen for far too long, many days. I’ve been reluctant to completely cut ties with many of the tools I’ve used to interact with people because I felt like I would be isolating myself and killing my blog. That is the conventional wisdom, isn’t it? Promote via social media or die!

But I’m not sure I believe the conventional wisdom. I’ve found it to wrong about nearly everything else in life, so why not this, as well? The idea that the best way to get traffic to your own website is to direct your readers to hang out with you on somebody else’s website seems a bit silly to me. Great marketing by the social media moguls, I guess, but it doesn’t turn out so well if you’re not one of them. So I have decided to write here, and here only. If it is any good, you’ll subscribe or bookmark it. Maybe you’ll share it on social media yourself sometimes, though I’d actually encourage you to stop doing that if social media takes up more than ten minutes of your day or causes you anxiety that interrupts the peace of your own home, as it was doing to me.

I think we’ve been duped, homeschooling (and especially homeschool blogging) mamas. We’ve been tricked into thinking that we can simultaneously be with our children and not be with our children, or with our friends, or with our husbands. We think that because we’re in their physical presence, we’re doing what we ought to. But my children know better. They know when mommy is distracted by what some stupid stranger on Facebook said. They know when she’s cranky because someone who means nothing to her has said something horrible about her faith or her family or (Lord help me) her looks. They can tell when she has yet again turned her brain off to look at meaningless things that have nothing to do with her real work, her family.

1349985104938

A picture my son (then seven years old) drew for Mama to hang on the back of her chair. Ouch.

Moms, they know. We’re the only ones being fooled by the illusion that we’re gaining something of value here.

We think that chatting with somebody on Facebook is very much like sitting down with a cup of tea and a good friend. We think twenty-second interactions with people are some kind of “ministry.” But they’re not. The truth is that social media interaction is an interruption to social behavior, not an actual encounter with human beings. Ministry is person to person. Social media mediates. It is a go-between. I’m tired of having a screen full of ads and a corporation to mediate between me and my real life. If I’m going to minister to somebody, it needs to be my neighbor. If we’re going to be friends, we’re going to need to be in the same room sometimes. I need you to be able to smell me and tell me (in the most polite way possible, of course) that the new, all-natural deodorant doesn’t deodorize.

The internet can be a very useful tool for research and getting the news of the day. But it’s not truly social. Not for me. If social media doesn’t demand your attention in the same addictive way it does mine, then feel free to enjoy it. Others may. I may not.

There will always be a comment section here (unless I find that becoming onerous as well). I enjoy the kind of limited interaction I get from comments, but I’m finished with internet “socializing.” If my blog dies from that, then it’s just going to have to die. At least my children will be able to remember something about me besides the blank, uncomprehending look I give them when they speak to me but my mind is on things that don’t even exist in their world.

I’m going to go homeschool my kids now, and I’m going to do it better than I had been. I’m going to do it the way the successful homeschoolers in the days before the internet did it—without the kind of socialization you get from the internet.

Teach Them Diligently Convention

Early bird pricing for the Teach Them Diligently Convention is going away in just a few short days. Don’t miss it!

Early-Bird-Features

And if you go to the Nashville event, you get to see Keith and Kristyn Getty in concert at no extra charge. It’s included in the price of your registration:
Gettys

What are you waiting for? Christmas? That’s over, so you can stop waiting now.

Disclosure: There are, of course, affiliate links in this post. Thanks for supporting us!

Have a Merry Christmas

Comments are off. See you in January! Go talk to some real people until then. :-)

Our First Term with Ambleside Online

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When I said at the beginning of the year that we were going to be using Ambleside Online for our curriculum this year, lots of readers expressed an interest in using AO, if only they could figure out how it all works. Being a newbie myself, I didn’t (and still don’t) have much in the way of tips to offer. However, I can tell you what we’ve accomplished so far, and how I see this turning out for us.

The hardest thing about getting started is the amount of reading you, the teacher, have to do. If you want a curriculum that just tells you what to do and then you do it, this is the wrong place to go. While you don’t need to read every word that Charlotte Mason ever wrote, you do need to get a good grasp of her philosophy in order to implement this curriculum. AO has all six volumes of the Charlotte Mason series for free here, or you can go download them for cheap on Amazon. I also like the Charlotte Mason Companion.

I still haven’t read all of this stuff, so don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing at once before you get started. You do, however, need to read enough to get off on the first leg of your journey with some vision for the future.

Furthermore, you’re going to want to read many of the books that your children are reading, or else they’ll think you’re an idiot when they narrate to you and you don’t know what the dickens they’re talking about. (Ask me how I know.) If you haven’t done anything like this before, read Home Education first, and then dive into the AO Introduction, where using the curriculum is made somewhat more understandable. That’s what I did, anyway, and now I’m just reading through other helpful features of the site and the other CM books as I go.

Here’s what we did, and how well it worked out:

Morning time: The first thing every day for us is family devotions, memory work, and a read-aloud, along with whatever else I can think of that I want to do day. Charlotte Mason isn’t heavy on read-alouds, but we like them. I got inspired by this Morning Basket idea, and started a little basket (well, OK, it’s more of a pile, because I am disorganized) of my own for our “together” stuff in the mornings.

Core reading: My oldest is doing Year 3, and the reading is one of his favorite things about this curriculum. No surprise there, as he has always been a good reader, but the kinds of books we’re working with do tend to put his mind to more of a workout than any of the curricula we’ve tried before. They aren’t hard, necessarily, just not dumbed-down. And there is a lot of reading, because this is a living-books approach. Textbooks are the devil! (I mean, unless you like them, I guess.)

If your kid doesn’t like to read, I would still suggest giving CM’s “living book” approach a shot. It could very well be that the reason your child hates books is that he’s never had experience with the kinds of books that don’t insult his intelligence. These are all good books. I’ve enjoyed reading them myself. The reading selections encompass Nature and Science, History, Geography (although I’m finding we fell short on this somehow, and need to work harder on it), Literature, Bible, and Poetry.

Language Arts: We do daily copywork (for both boys) and dictation (for the older one) from various selections. Sometimes I pick a passage from our reading or our Bible verses, and sometimes I use workbooks I’ve printed from Currclick. Dictation (for the oldest child) also covers spelling and grammar. I’ve also been having him do Daily Grams, but a more formal grammar course will come in a couple more years. One thing I love about Charlotte Mason’s approach is that there’s no expecting children to do composition before they actually know enough to say something. None of that silly “what I want to be when I grow up” stuff.

Handicrafts: We did sewing this term, and it was lots of fun. Just the basics, because I don’t know very much about it myself. Now we all know to some degree how to sew on buttons, sew a few kinds of stitches, and repair stuffed animals. I still have no idea where we’re going from here. (I could show you some pictures of our little drawstring bags, if only I had remembered to take some.)

Science: While there is science reading in AO’s curriculum, I really don’t feel like that’s enough. We’re going through Famous Experiments and How to Repeat Them, and Simple Kitchen Experiments, as well as having the kinds of impromptu discussions that children seem to draw out of us (well, me, anyway) in the day-to-day. Why no, we can’t make a pot of beans without talking about atmosphere and agriculture. Not in this house.

Nature: Goes with “Science,” I guess, but I think of it as a separate thing anyway. On our nature walks (which aren’t happening with the same frequency now that it’s cold outside) I sometimes have the kids take a specimen of something they want to study, then they draw it, read about it, and write a sentence or two in their nature journals for reference. I have no idea whether I do this because CM told me to, or because I like the idea. It might not be remotely CM. I don’t care. We like our journals.

Math: The boys love Life of Fred. I’m still not sure that’s enough, though, despite the insistence of many that it is, so we’re working away at Math Mammoth workbooks, too.

Foreign Language: Didn’t do it. If you’re easing into a new curriculum, especially, perfectionism is a killer. Sometimes you just have to let something (or several somethings) drop, and this was it for us. This term, we’ll be adding ASL as our foreign language, using this free online resource. My ASL accent can’t possibly be as bad as my Spanish accent. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Music (composer study, hymns, folk songs): I’m just following AO’s schedule, except for the hymns. I have my own ideas about that.

 Plutarch: Ha! Haven’t added that in yet, either. It’s not that I don’t want to, just that I forgot. OK, and I’m scared. Next year. Baby steps.

Art: Instead of following the AO schedule for artist study, I’ve been using Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios. That’s my one splurge this year. Drawing with Children will be on our to-do list this term, as well. I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I think it’s about time to put it to use.

Field trips: There really aren’t any field trips in AO. I just wanted you to know that we took some. They get out of the basement three times a month, whether they like it or not.

Busywork: There is none. I do not have piles of papers and crafts and “proof” that my children are learning. They are themselves the proof, though the pudding won’t be eaten for many years yet. I’ve concluded that about 75% of what people think of as “education” is just meant to keep children in their seats and give them a sense that they’ve produced something without having to go to the mess of actually letting them produce things.

Exams: Yes, exams are included in the Charlotte Mason way of education. That surprised me. If we hadn’t done the exams, I wouldn’t have really known how much was retained from all of this reading. I do believe this way of learning blows the doors off textbook “learning,” which often amounts to stuffing trivia down a child’s throat and hoping he can digest it into something meaningful later on.

So there you have it, our term in a nutshell. This is, hands down, my favorite way EVER to do school. It’s inexpensive, down-to-earth, and thorough. I think this will be the way we do school for a good, long time.

P.S. Anybody who is interested in a Charlotte Mason education should hie herself on over to the Teach Them Diligently page and register for one of the (very affordable, exciting, uplifting) conventions next year. Sonya Shafer, of Simply Charlotte Mason, gives some fantastic classes that will really help you understand what you’re doing. Her sessions were standing room only last year. Must see.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

 Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in this post. Thanks for supporting us!

No Ebook After All

Sorry about that.

So, I wrote this (I think) pretty good thing and decided to sell it to you. Then I decided not to sell it after all, but to offer it as a free download. And now I have decided that, for the time being, it’s better if I don’t put it out there at all. My reasons for withholding it are complicated, and absolutely boring. Suffice it to say that I don’t feel good about it right now. Every time I think about actually getting it out there, I feel a little tug saying “no.” I’ve felt that tug before, and not listened, and regretted it, so for now, it’s “no.”

Later on, when I’ve slept on it a while, I might change my mind. Until then, I suspect you guys will be just fine reading something else. ;-)

Ultimate Christmas and Advent Giveaway

Want some freebies? Rebecca, Colleen, Aurie, Kerry and I are going to start your Advent off (well, OK, just a couple of days late) with a giveaway of each of the three ebooks listed below. If you want to go ahead and buy any of them, you can use this promo code to get 50% off the price: dec13

Also, keep scrolling through the whole thing even if you don’t do giveaways. There’s a freebie down there you don’t want to miss.

 

christmas & advent giveaway  ~  ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com/giveaway

If you want to get a copy of any of them before the giveaway is over, Kerry has given me a Promo Code to let you save 50% … just for our readers. (Use Promo Code “dec13″)

Take a look at these 3 ebooks that help you keep Christ as the focus of Advent & Christmas. Click on any image to find out more.

Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study

  • If you want to study Matthew 2 to learn what the Star of Bethlehem is
  • If you have older children and you’re looking for family Bible study
  • If you want to tie together Bible and Science
  • If you want to get a BONUS item: Skies of the Cross Bible Study

Star of Bethlehem Bible Study - What is the star? ~ ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com

Then Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study (updated 2012) will be great for your family.

You can print out as many copies for your “immediate family” as necessary. Buy one book and use it with the entire family.

Here’s what others say about the
Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study

The Study is Called Star of Bethlehem Family Bible Study. Not only is there a fresh focus on God’s AWESOME communication with us throughout time, but you will learn more astronomy than YEARS of study in a text!

Kerry takes you deeply into the Word of God to dig out what God has to say about stars, astronomy, astrology, and neatest of all, how God used STARS to tell about His plan for salvation through Jesus Christ!

If you are like me and find yourself a bit intimidated when thinking of Astronomy Studies, this is the book for you! AND…if you are looking for a great Bible Study, don’t wait!
~~Cindy Rushton, Rushton Family Ministries ~~

Christmas Celebrations: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany
Christmas Celebrations - Dozens of ideas to put Christ back into Advent, Christmas, & Epiphany ~ ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com

  • If you have young kids or older kids
  • If you want to integrate homeschooling into Christmas (it’s already done for you in this ebook)
  • If you want to learn about the Christian meaning of our Christmas symbols
  • If you want to focus on Christ during Advent
  • If you want to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas or Epiphany

Your family will find Christmas Celebrations ebook very useful. Kerry updated & expanded this ebook with an additional 30 pages of ideas. She added Homeschool Tie-Ins throughout.

To see a list of 47 ideas included in Christmas Celebrations, click here.

Christmas Around the World Unit Study

christmas around the world unit study   ~   from HowToHomeschoolMyChild.com

  • If you have elementary or junior high kids
  • If you want to learn more about the history of Christmas
  • If you want to use a scope & sequence to plan your homeschool
  • If you want to make some crafts or cook food from different areas of the world
  • If you want a list of books to read that reflect other countries’ Christmas celebrations

Christmas Around the World Unit Study will be a fun unit study for your family this year.

Your family will love studying how other countries celebrate Advent & Christmas. And we make it easy with 1-week or 2-week lesson plans.

How To Enter to Win

  1. Get Kerry’s FREE Advent Calendar & FREE Christmas workshop by clicking here.
  2. Then, fill in the form below.
  3. For maximum chances take every entry you can, and be sure to follow my girls Rebecca, Colleen, and Aurie. Each of these ladies has incredible information to share with homeschool moms.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: All of the links in this post are affiliate links. Thank you for making our Christmas a cozy one. Your commissions mean more marshmallows for our hot chocolate!

Public Schools and Naive Kids

One of the constantly recurring, and frankly silliest, objections to homeschooling is the embarrassing  naiveté of homeschooled kids. The implication is that a child’s growth and maturity will somehow be stunted by not witnessing the full smorgasbord of sinful behaviors and moral pitfalls that popular culture has to offer. If he hasn’t had a joint offered to him in the school bathroom by the time he’s a senior, there is simply no hope that he’ll be able to say no to it when he’s twenty!

When I put it that way, of course, the hollowness of the whole objection becomes evident, even to those who will most likely still think it’s better for a child to be “educated” in the ways of the world by his peers and (God help us) D.A.R.E instructors.

Fine, you’re right: I fully intend to turn my kids out into the world with little more than a theoretical understanding of the kinds of criminality and perversion that will most likely be going on right under their noses any time they walk down a busy street. By the time they leave my nest, they’ll most likely be in the same social position I am right now; people who engage in those activities don’t even want to talk to me much, let alone invite me to their parties. So I’ve just raised my children to be the kind of bland, boring, morally upright people that the unwise, unstable, and criminal amongst us shun out of instinct. Oh, how could I be so stupid?

Like I said before, there is no way that I can keep my kids from finding out about sin, being sinners as they are. I don’t expect to. But there’s a flip side to this whole naiveté thing, and that is the fact that, when I send my naïve children off to be educated by government-employed strangers, their naiveté is a serious weakness, making them prey to unscrupulous teachers, wayward peers, and even crooked police. If I keep them either at home with me or under the tutelage of Christian teachers I know to be working toward the same goals that I am, these little ones of mine will still be naïve children, absolutely! But what else do you want children to be? Jaded? Worldly? Street smart? I thought we wanted to keep them off the streets, not familiar with them.

Where does this perverse desire to destroy childish innocence come from? Certainly not from God, who says that we must become like little children, and not the other way around, if we wish to see the kingdom of Heaven.

Several years ago, I witnessed the whole adult congregation of a church gathering around a group of teens to pray for them because of the sexual pressures and violence that they were forced to deal with every day. Now, I’m all for prayer, and I’m glad they were at least doing that much for the poor kids. But what caught me was the pastor’s words before they prayed. He said “Our children have to deal with pressures every day that we as adults would never have to face. They need God’s hand of protection on their lives in a special way.”

So we’re sending kids into these spiritual and emotional pressure cookers, even though in the “real world,” for which we are supposed to be preparing them, this stuff (bullying, sexual pressure, drug use, etc.), doesn’t happen among decent people? In the real world where grown-ups live, if these things happen there are both practical and legal steps that a grownup can take to defend himself. He can simply choose not to go there; he can prosecute wrongdoing; he can find a new job; he can find new peers. But these kids, who don’t have the benefit of years of wisdom? Meh. Just cover them in prayer and send them to learn from these people how to walk in Truth.

This little episode at church was what did it for me. It was about 8 years ago, and it was what convinced me to homeschool.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

–Proverbs 13:20

Not long ago, I witnessed a similar thing with a group of parents lamenting the sexual pressure that middle-school girls must face at such a young and inappropriate age. “Lord, help them!” they said. And they sent them back into the cesspool the very next day.

My dad is kind of a funny guy. When I was a teenager, he’d often see me doing some household task and ask “Do you need some help with that, honey?” I’d accept his offer, only to hear, “Help her, Lord!”

The difference between my dad doing that and these parents doing this is that my dad knew he was joking, and would then get up and help me.

The Bible says some things about praying and doing:

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

–James 2:15-16

Now, if we’re called not just to pray, but to do for the physical needs of our brothers and sisters, how much more does this apply to caring for the souls of our own children?

My children’s naiveté will vanish, despite the foolish concerns of naysayers, but it will recede through years of Bible training, not through the hardening effects of early exposure. My son will learn how to keep to the narrow path through the learning of Proverbs and being made aware of his own sin by God’s word, not through being slammed against locker doors because he’s the only kid that won’t get high with the rest of his social group between classes. My daughter will learn to honor her body by being around those who also honor her body, not from those who belittle and objectify her.

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

–Luke 17:1-2

I went to a public school, so I know how that naiveté we’re so scared to see in our children gets worn away, and it is not through the maturing of a child’s spirit, but through the breaking of it. No thank you. We don’t want any of that kind of jaded “maturity” in our family.

A Couple of Announcements

First, the big one!

You know how you get to the end of a pregnancy and you’re just sick of all of it and ready to be done, no matter how bad it might hurt? That is where I am. Not with my actual pregnancy, but with an ebook I’ve been putting together. Several of you have asked for an easy way to find the links to many of my large family and family planning posts, so I put them all together in one convenient place and wrote a few more chapters to go with them. The title is ConDeceived: Little Lies the World Tells to Keep Christian Families from Growing.

I’m still looking over the book for glaring idiocies, which are pretty much guaranteed to escape my notice, since I wrote them. Other than that I’m basically finished. Now it’s off to the tech guy (that would be Get Along Husband) for formatting and a snazzy cover, and to a few friends for their thoughts. Expect me to start trying to sell it to you sometime in December.

This week, until November 30, is your last chance (I think) to get the best deal for Teach Them Diligently. The early bird price will be going away soon, but this code (SAVE7THANKS) gets you $7 off even that. A family registration to any of the amazing locations would be a wonderful Christmas present for any homeschooling family, or any family that’s thinking about it. I wish I could go! I will be having a baby around that time, though, so maybe next time.

Newsletter_hdr_Black_Friday

Also, don’t forget that Three Decades of Fertility (reviewed here) is on sale for just $2.99 until November 30. This is the best price I’ve seen for this book. Grab it while you can:

 

Three Decades of Fertility

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links help support this site. Thank you for your purchase!

 

Advent Activities for Little Hands

It’s almost Advent season, if you do that sort of thing. Sometimes we do.

My ten cent review of Truth in the Tinsel: I love it. Not being a crafty mom, I need all the help I can get. My little ones enjoy the activities all the more because crafts are so rare around here. All of the ideas are easy and inexpensive. Nearly everything is done with items you can scavenge from around the house, so even broke people can do this. I did have to beg for baby food jars.

Click to buy:

Advent

 

Affiliate links? Yes.

Make the Most of Your C-Section

Make the Most of Your C-section (Giveaway)How in the world can you prepare for a good c-section?

Since I’m staring down my third c-section with this next delivery, I’m trying very hard to make peace with the idea.  I don’t like it. The idea of a planned cesarean causes me to dread what should be one of the most exciting days of my life. I’m so nearly phobic of hospitals at this point (ask me about my last c-section sometime) that if I thought I could get away with lining a box in the closet with old rags and giving birth alone, kitty-cat style, I’d do it. However, my husband and doctor are aligned against my irrational fear of competent and caring medical intervention and insist on there being no vbac–especially alone in a closet–no matter how I protest.

Since there’s no getting out of it, I am, just as the title of Mindy Brouse’s ebook says, going to have to make the most of it. There must be some upsides, right? Like not having to push, and knowing exactly which day your baby will be born? Small comfort, but better than nothing!

But this ebook isn’t just about making you feel better about your c-section. It’s about making your c-section better. I’ve heard of the idea of family-centered c-section once before, from Kimberly at Raising Olives. Make the Most of Your C-section explains both what a family-centered c-section is and how to talk to your doctor about it. Since it is a relatively new idea, some doctors may be resistant to change, but this ebook gives you the kind of information you need to be able to explain it to your doctor effectively.

There are some options mentioned, such as having the baby delivered to your chest so you can get to know him while you’re being sewn up, that I love. There are some others, like dropping the drape so you can see the baby being pulled from your belly, that I will emphatically not be doing. The whole point of spinal-block anesthesia is so mama can stay awake to meet her baby, ain’t it? That won’t be much use to me if I’m passed out from seeing people reaching into my abdomen and pulling out a baby. I’m feeling a little bit faint just thinking about it. (I swear I don’t have a weak stomach. I can stand the sight of almost anything, as long as it’s not happening to me.)

In addition to the very good information about the family-centered approach, Mindy also provides tons of useful advice for preparing yourself and your family for a surgical birth and recovery. Even if you plan on having a natural birth, this book could be very helpful for those who end up in an emergency c-section.

Buy: You can buy a copy of Make the Most of Your C-Section for $7.97

Win: One Get Along Home reader will win a digital copy of Make the Most of Your C-Section

How to enter: Just leave a comment.

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, November 27, 2013. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook for review. There are no affiliate links in this post, nor will I be compensated in any other way. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt.

Multiple C-Sections: When Is It Time To Quit?

Are some risks too great?

A reader (who has had five c-sections herself) emailed me a while back with a few thoughts and a question about c-sections. As someone with lots more experience than I have, I suspect she already knows what she thinks. But I’m glad she asked, anyhow.

I think the biggest question from moms (or at least the ones I get) are what to do when the OB says {your uterus is} too thin for another pregnancy. We know that God is the ultimate physician, but do we treat a {thin} uterus the same as any health problem that would need medical attention?

The short answer is, yes, I do think of a thinning or scarred uterus as a medical problem to be treated or avoided. If someone has a very weak heart, we don’t expect him to run a marathon that will kill him, even if it’s a marathon for a very good cause. Even if his God is a God of miracles. As I’ve said before, I believe that there is a moral difference between deciding not to make babies, and having that possibility taken from you by illness or infirmity. I addressed that at length in a post entitled Blessings and Curses:

What about those hard cases, though? The ones where a woman has a pretty near certainty that carrying another child would be detrimental to her health? Well, they are hard cases! My insistence that children are a blessing isn’t a refusal on my part to face “reality”, as some have said. I am simply enabled by the Holy Spirit to distinguish between blessings and curses—a distinction that isn’t so easy for the natural mind to make, sometimes.

Children are a blessing. Death, disease, and suffering of all kinds are a curse. In fact, they are THE Curse, and I believe we have license to do many things to try to mitigate the effects of the curse–within the boundaries of grateful acceptance of the blessings, of course.

Often, people who are advocating a weak point will run right to the hard cases to protect the easy ones from scrutiny. But “I don’t want to have any more children because it would interfere with My American Dream” is a far cry from “I can’t have any more children because my uterus is mangled.” This, of course, applies to many situations other than c-section, as well. While I’m extremely uncomfortable with the idea that children are a choice to be made, rather than a gift to be received, I am equally uncomfortable with the idea that women’s lives are expendable in the service of procreation. Not every risk we can take is an honorable one. Sometimes it may be foolhardy or even heartless, depending on the circumstances.

In speaking with my husband about it last week, I likened the situation to that of a soldier. A woman’s valor in childbirth is certainly comparable to that of a soldier in battle, and her necessity to the survival of her people is just as clear. The potential for grief is great. Childbirth is scary, painful, messy, smelly, bloody and dangerous. There is often cursing and violence involved. (Sorry, Jess.) It is also good and necessary. We’d think very poorly indeed of an able-bodied young man who was needed to defend his nation from an enemy, but who refused to do so.

(Of course, this metaphor falls apart when we start to think about all the unnecessary wars that our truly brave and valuable young men are fighting right now. Bring them home! We need them here! That’s the trouble with metaphors; even the best of them will turn on you and bite if you push them far enough. Anyhow…)

At some point, depending on the health and circumstances of the woman, she can certainly become wounded and unable to return to the battlefield, just as a wounded soldier can. Sure, even a crippled soldier could probably hobble back out there with just half of one leg and one eye, and many would be glad to do so if they could. But not only would our wounded soldier be unlikely to do any good for his cause, he’d be a liability to the other men who’d have to cover and care for him. So we salute his valor, honor his sacrifice, and keep him out of the fighting from now on. We revere him as a hero, despite his inability to continue. This is true whether he was wounded in his first battle or his twentieth.

Likewise, I could (and want to!) get right back into the “battle” and try making a new baby. But if my uterus is extremely thin (or some other complication arises), trying to have more children would probably result not only in my or the baby’s death or disability, but in the rest of the family suffering for it, too. I trust God in all things, including pregnancy. I also trust my doctor and the understanding God gave him to help me figure out when my body is failing.

As for my own impending c-section, I still have no idea how things are going to turn out. I am praying and preparing for a good birth, good news about the condition of my uterus, and the all-clear to go back into battle if the Lord sees fit. Given the risk of hysterectomy, thinning, and placenta problems with each subsequent c-section, I am also trying (with limited success) to emotionally prepare myself for the bad news that my child-bearing days are over.

Six kids is a wonderful family, and I’ll be happy with whatever God provides me. But seven is also a lovely number, and I’d be ecstatic to find myself in this position again two years from now. I do not want it to be over, and I certainly won’t be making that decision for myself based on nothing more than statistical risks. There are women who have had six c-sections, and are in wonderful health! I pray with every cup of raspberry leaf tea that I will be equally blessed with, as my emailer put it “a uterus as thick as a steak”.

You all pray for me, too, OK?

Thanksgiving is Coming!

Just thought you might like to know.

If you’re like me, it only occurred to you after you noticed all the Christmas candy at the grocery store and thought “Wait a minute…isn’t there supposed to be something holiday-ish happening this month? Something involving gratitude and turkey?”

Yeah. I’m not prepared, either.

thanksgiving-ebook-cover3

If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year, you should take a look at Tara Ziegmont’s ebook, Your BEST Thanksgiving Ever! It is super helpful, and manages to both lower your own outrageous expectations of the perfect family gathering and prepare you to impress your kinfolk and friends! I reviewed it here, if you’d like to know more.

Pulling Punches in the Name of “Peace”

In many of my posts dealing with homeschooling, public schools, family “planning”, and a dozen other things, I’ve had the gall to say “this is right, and this is wrong.” I then try to back my thinking up with something like a rational, Biblical argument. I do this because I believe some things, and this blog helps me work out those things, while also encouraging others who may have the same ideas. Blogging has the added advantage of comment sections where these things can be further hashed out and knocked about by passersby. I like that. I assume you (to some extent) appreciate that, too, or you wouldn’t be here.

There is one kind of comment I get, though, that adds nothing to the conversation, but reveals much about the way people–mostly women–think about these things. I won’t quote anybody specific, out of respect for their obvious aversion to argument, but the song and dance goes something like this:

I completely agree with what you’re saying. You’re RIGHT. But you need to shut up, because nobody will ever listen to you as long as you’re making it so plain. You’re too blunt. You’re too sure of yourself. I don’t like you very much when you lay it right out there like that. Even though you’re right.

Now, this kind of reaction from people who disagree with me, I would kind of expect. (Except for the part about me being right, of course.) When you either don’t have an argument, or can’t stand the thought of trying to make one, hurling a “shut up” and then running away is probably a very emotionally satisfying experience. But from people who say they agree, I can only think of two possible reasons for it. Either you are a) a coward, or b) a manipulative person who prefers to try to trick people into coming around to seeing things her way. A third option might be that you don’t care very much about the issue, but then, why try to shut me up, instead of just shrugging and moving on?

Readers, especially those of you who disagree with me, or who do, but wish I wouldn’t say this stuff out loud, I need you to know some things:

I tell what I think is the truth because I respect you. Unlike my occasional wishy-washy correspondent paraphrased above, I believe that, if what I am saying is the truth, you can handle it. Not only do I believe that you can handle hearing the other side of something we disagree on, I believe that you have the brains and gumption to figure out what to do with it, should you become convinced of my point of view.

I will not try to manipulate you (as I’ve seen many homeschool bloggers do) by reiterating ad nauseum in every hard-hitting blog post that I write how I think it is perfectly ok for you to ignore what I say, or that I’m sure that what you’re doing is right “for your family,” so please don’t be mad at me for believing some things. *sniff*

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:5-6

I trust that you are grown up enough to understand that I can think that you are wrong without also thinking that you’re any worse a person, parent, or Christian than I am. It would be cowardice for me to never try to convince you to see my point of view because I’d rather get comments about how awesome and wonderful a person I am. But worse than that, it would be an insult to your intelligence. You. Can. Handle. Disagreement.

You can! How condescending these people are, who think that they are so special to have grasped this truth, but that you should be sheltered from it for the sake of your fragile ego!

Reader, I respect you enough to believe that, if we were to meet on the street, you would be able to separate our disagreements from your personal feelings toward me, as reasonable adults who talk about important things ought to be able to do. For those of you who are also in Christ, I respect you enough to say what I think our faith demands of us, and I trust that you will know that I believe that we are still fully brothers in spite of any disagreements.

My friends, many of whom very much disagree with me, know what I think about these things, read this blog, and still love me and know that I love them. This is in spite of the fact that I think that what our nation does with its children–from pre-conception to graduation– is a big mistake, and that they are participating in this mistake.

I tell what I think is the truth because I respect the truth. I cannot say what I believe to be true while also saying “but if you don’t believe this, that is totally ok, and I hope you’ll continue in your error because that is obviously what makes you happy.” This is what my detractors would have me do, not because it makes any sense whatsoever, but because they don’t want anybody to be mad at them. They want me to believe that you can simultaneously lull people to sleep with comforting words and somehow still convince them that they need to make a course correction–the kind of correction that is often uncomfortable, inconvenient, and unpopular.

If you get mad at me, I do not like it. I’m not a sociopath. I don’t like it when people don’t like me. But I care what the truth is more. Your good will is not more important to me than the truth. I didn’t start this blog to make friends. I started it to refine and spread my ideas.

(Oh, wait. I started this blog because I snagged a really cool domain name, and it just sort of snowballed from there. But you get what I mean.)

I won’t pull punches just because the person on the other side of things might not like it. Whether you agree or disagree, you are welcome here, but not at the expense of honest discussion.

I tell what I think is the truth because I want to know better what the truth is. While I don’t spend a whole lot of time hemming and hawing about what I think, I’m aware that I don’t know everything. That is another reason that I need to say exactly what I think, without regard to a reader’s likely reaction to it. How in the world can you challenge me, if I’m always defending, not my point, but my image? How can iron sharpen iron if we’re always scared of clashing?

And finally, I tell what I think is the truth because I love you as fellow believers and fellow Americans. I believe that what the commenters who provoked this post are often saying is that disagreement is too uncomfortable, so let’s just all have our own idea of what the truth is. They’d be happy to let everybody else go to hell in a hand-basket if that’s what they feel like doing. Maybe the result won’t be so good for those who disagree with us, but at least they’ll think we like them!

Well, I do like you. I like you enough to warn you about the path you’re on. I love you enough to make you mad if necessary.

When I see people continuing to make the same mistakes that our society has been making for generations–mistakes that have led us to what nearly all of us agree is a sorry condition for both nation and Church to be in–it would be emotionally easier for me to just let it roll off my back and ignore it all. It would be natural for me to put my head down and try not to rock the boat. After all, this is just the way things are for most people. I’m the minority. I’m the vulnerable one, frankly, not you who disagree.

But I love you, and I want you to understand the mistakes that have been made. We’ve been trained to believe a lot of wrong things, and there is simply no way I can help correct that wrong thinking without also upsetting the people whose lives are built on it.

Much harm comes from not being corrected. Children who should be here–millions of them–don’t exist, either never conceived or murdered, because of what we’ve been taught about birth control and the meaning of human life. The children of Christians are growing up under the tutelage of the secular state, instead of their loving parents and churches. Our nation is in one of the darkest, scariest financial times it has ever seen. While we are still comfortable on borrowed money, there’s a horrific crash coming, and it is directly related to the way we think about these things.

I don’t believe that it is too late to change our course, but it certainly would be if I (and others who do the same thing I’m doing) refused to speak up because we’re more interested in making people like us than telling the truth.

The Well-Planned Day Sale Reminder

Only a week left to take advantage of the 40% off code for a copy of the prettiest little planner I ever saw. You know you want it. Clicky, clicky:

That’s an affiliate link, btw. Thanks for your purchase!

You Want a Christian Nation?

Stop letting the government raise your children.

Remember way back when President Obama declared that “America is no longer a Christian nation.”? The chatter in Christian circles was, for the most part, indignant. How could he say such a thing? Of course America is a Christian nation! Aren’t we here?

The headlines should have read “Obama Tells First Truth of Political Career”, or “Christians Outraged at Unexpected Truthfulness from Politician”. Instead, on right-leaning websites, I recall (if my memory serves me) article after article insisting on the historical and current Christianity of the citizens of our nation.  But, as Jesus said, you will know His followers by their fruits, and the fruit of this nation is 4,000 unborn killed every day, unjust wars, an ever-expanding debt, lurid entertainment raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, yearly celebrations of death, and sexual immorality of all kinds, while the only known public moral code is “Whatever, man. No right to judge.”

Could these things happen in a Christian nation?

Given the evidence, I’d say this nation is about as far from being a Christian one as Saudi Arabia is, despite its ridiculous percentage of professing Christians. If something like 80% of people in a country profess the faith, and yet it has this kind of fruit, what we have is not a Christian nation, but a Hypocrite one.

“These people draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

Where do you suppose this confusion comes from? How can a religion have so many “followers”, yet so little impact? The answer is in the upbringing of these so-called Christians. While their parents dutifully drag them to church once a week (more or less), they send them to secular schools every week day, and then spend weekends and evenings consuming godless entertainment. Their lifestyles and leisure pursuits suggest to me that, even among the sincere, they don’t even know what Christianity is, and that is a failure of education.

A while back, I wrote a post called “Homeschooling to Change…What Exactly?”, pinning most of the blame for our nation’s backslidden ways on parents abandoning their children to the authority of the state.

Sending Christian kids to public schools is, in fact, making them culturally powerless, and the reason why is very simple: It doesn’t matter which children your precious ones hang out with or surreptitiously witness to on the playground. What matters is whose authority all of the children are under.

Are we bringing the world under the authority of Christ by sending our children to public schools as mission-minded parents suggest? Or are we bringing Christian children under the authority of the world? I think there’s ample evidence that the latter, and not the former, is true.

When we speak about Christian children, we’re actually speaking about two different categories of people: Children who have been converted and baptized and believe in Christ with their whole hearts, and, more generally, the children of converted and baptized believers who are not yet themselves fully believing Christians. It’s important to make that distinction, because when we speak about education, we speak about raising up societies full of both kinds of people. If you want a Christian society, you need a Christian worldview even in the people who aren’t believers. In today’s America, we have the exact opposite: a humanist, godless, nihilistic worldview, even in believers.

As far as I know, I have five little unregenerate people running around my Christian home right now. While my children have the worldview of believers, none of them has yet made a strong profession of faith. I see my little ones attracted to the truth, though, and know that God their Shepherd is leading them toward it. If my little ones were in public school, there would be no one available throughout the better part of the day to catch those moments of interest and guide them to the truth. Instead, they’d be in an environment designed from the very beginning to squelch that truth.

Because they are under my authority, I can see to it that they have my worldview.  Because I place myself under Christ’s authority, that is the only worldview that my children can even imagine right now. That is how a Christian nation is built.

Christian public school parents, your children are not under your authority. If you think they are, try walking into their classrooms unannounced and directing them to do jumping-jacks all the way out the door to the car. Not only would you be escorted from the premises for disrupting class, your child herself would look at you as if you were insane, and then she would disobey you. Instead, she’d look to her teacher to get her out of this crazy situation. This would happen not because you’re insane, but because she recognizes the authority of the state above your own. (Though you obviously are insane. I mean, really. Jumping jacks, mom? But you’re still her parent, and she is still sinning when she disobeys you.)

But let’s have a less absurd example. Just go try to withdraw your child from school for a month of doing whatever you want to do. No explanation, no doctor’s note, no emergency. You just want to be with your child this month. See what the principal says about that. The very fact that you have to ask permission from a stranger who has no moral right to tell you what to do with your own child, rather than being able to politely and quickly retrieve your child, ought to tell you all you need to know.

Why do you think that putting your children under the teaching of the secular state for the “smaller” truths—the three r’s, health and PE, history—can be done safely and in such a way that they can still recognize the moral and spiritual authority of Christ in their day-to-day walk, when they can’t even recognize the authority of their own parents anymore?

Your children, when they go to public school, are not yours. So, then, whose are they? I know a lot of Christians are going to pipe up and say, “They’re Jesus’s!” But are they? I know from examining the last couple of generations’ fruit that most of them are emphatically not. They have no thought of Jesus, except as a little god in their pocket that they can pull out whenever they get out of class. You know, if they need him.  He is, by the very nature of the public school lifestyle, peripheral and private.

And Americans, even those of you who call yourselves Christian, he is peripheral and private to you, as well. If he weren’t, our nation would not—could not possibly—bear the rotten and bitter fruit that it has. You’ve been trained by your secular upbringing to subordinate Christ to every other area of life.

And you’re so well-trained that you don’t even know that you’re doing it. I look forward to the indignant comments that prove it.

Just Ask the Wemmicks: Help! I’m Lonely!

just ask the wemmicksThis week’s JATW question comes from a homeschooling mom who is, as I’m sure many of us are, looking for some friendships that go beyond friendly acquaintance.:

I’m looking for wisdom in maintaining friendships for myself while homeschooling. What kind of schedule have other women found works best for them and their families? Over the past few years, I’ve found my friendships with other women to be dwindling, and I’ve been getting lonely. But with homeschooling during the day, napping babes in the afternoon, and trying to have family time with daddy in the evening, I’m just not sure how to fit my friends into our schedule. We’re in a bimonthly co-op and attend church, but now I feel like I have tons of happy acquaintances and no close friendsships. Any ideas for solutions?…

I do not have an answer for this week’s question, beyond my sense that real, honest-to-goodness female friendships are rather hard to come by. If you find someone who is able and willing to invest herself in you as a friend, then you should move Heaven and Earth to keep that woman in your life. And you can only do that by being just as willing to invest yourself in her life, even to the point of sacrifice. I don’t mean to sacrifice your family’s time or needs, of course, but if somebody is important to you, you’ll find a way to be there for them.

That is the extent of my “wisdom”, because I am busier than the proverbial one-legged man. (I wonder if he had any friends.)  Fear not, though! Some of the other Wemmicks have got real answers right here:

Visionary Womanhood

Counter-cultural Mom

E-Homebody

Does Your Homeschool Need a Little Boost?

Troubleshooting your lame-o homeschool year. (This post will be absolutely stuffed with affiliate links. Read it anyway.)

For me, the scariest thing about October is not Halloween. It’s the realization, after 6 or 8 weeks of lessons, that I wasn’t quite as ready for our school year as I thought I was. This year, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find myself mostly pleased with our workload and accomplishments, but there are always a few tweaks to be made. This year, it’s mostly my morning routine that needs adjusting.

The first trimester of a pregnancy always puts the kibosh on my early-morning prayer and Bible sessions. Instead of getting up and praying, I’ve been lying abed until 7 or even 8 a.m., wishing someone else could come be mommy for an hour or two. Thankfully, those sleepy, sick weeks are short, and I’m almost back to normal! But all that lazing about has gotten me out of many of the good habits that I’d built. OK, I’m not exactly lazing about, over here. But my results have been strikingly similar to a lazy person’s. Oddly, my floors don’t know the difference between a tired mama who hasn’t mopped and a negligent mama who hasn’t mopped. Life. Is. Not. Fair.

Did you remember to pray?

The first thing I need to do to get things back to normal is, of course, pray more regularly. It’s the first thing you need to do, too. While I do usually find a few moments in the afternoon quiet time to sneak off and pray, I find that the early morning hours are still the best time for it. My friend Rebecca has written an ebook, The Homeschool Mother’s Prayer Journal. It’s the perfect reminder and guide to praying through your new(ish) school year.

If things haven’t gotten off on the right foot (or even if they have) prayer is the best tool you’ve got for getting it all done. There’s no calender or schedule here, so the journal won’t mind one bit if you’ve been schooling for eight weeks without it. Now is a great time to get started!

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Did you plan adequately?

Or, if you’re already good in the prayer department, maybe it’s your planning that’s let you down. The Well-Planned Day is an excellent way to remedy that. Procrastinators sometimes find themselves in possession of a better worm than that pitiful, emaciated, goes-out-early-to-jog worm that the early bird picked up. Enter the code NEVERTOOLATE at checkout for 40% off the best planner I’ve laid eyes on. (Unless you count the one I make for myself every year because I’m cheap and set in my ways. You could do that, but it wouldn’t be nearly as pretty.)

 

 The Student Planners from HEDUA are still my favorite thing about this new school year. We are finding them incredibly helpful! (Find my review here.)

Are you really applying yourself to the “home” part of “homeschool”?

If school is going just swimmingly, chances are that the housework is not. (Seriously, do NOT look behind my trash can right now.) It’s OK. Nobody is perfect. But Amy, of Raising Arrows comes close! She wrote The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule a while back, and I–lacking a perfect schedule of my own–completely forgot to tell you about it. I’ve read it, though, and found it very helpful!

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Do you need some encouragement?

Maybe your problem is a little bit of everything. Maybe you’ve got sickness in the family or money trouble or just a rotten, stinking attitude problem. Motherhood is hard. Sometimes it feels too hard. I get it, believe me. You are NOT alone! Kelly Crawford’s little book, When Motherhood Feels Too Hard, is always a good thing to have around. Just lay it beside your Bible and prayer journal and read one sweet page of encouragement a day. You will find your attitude changing within a few days, I’m certain.

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Do you need a spectacular finish to look forward to?

And, finally, maybe you need a little something to look forward to. By the end of this school year, you will be ready for some encouragement and refreshment, as well as a vacation! Teach Them Diligently is going to be in four locations next year, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Except having a baby, which I will be doing right about then. But you can go! Early bird registration for the whole family is just $45. Don’t miss it!

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014

Disclosure: I’ve found these to be a few helpful resources for getting things back on track after the usual autumn derailment. I hope you will, too! That is partly because I want to be helpful, but also because I stand to make affiliate commissions from most of the links in this post. Thank you for supporting our site!

Worship of God Conference (Giveaway!)

Long-time readers at Get Along Home will already know how important I think it is that kids attend worship services with their parents. While we don’t go to a church that bills itself as “family-integrated”, I don’t let that stop me from bringing my little trouble-makers right into the sanctuary with me, and neither do many of the other families there. We were made to worship as a unified body, and that includes children. The ministry of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches is devoted to teaching the modern church about Biblical worship, and helping families find a place to worship where they will feel welcome bringing their little bundles of energy right inside the service with the rest of the Christians.

I am SUPER excited to have been offered the opportunity to attend the Worship of God Conference in beautiful Asheville, NC October 31-November 2!

Conference_Giveaway

This is a pretty big conference, with a lot of topics, and a lot of great speakers.  The ones I’m most interested in are Singing as Worship, Why not use images in worship?, Why church worship should not be divided by age, and The feminizing influence of modern church music. These are all topics I have occasionally touched on here at GAH!, and I can’t wait to see what some actually smart people think.

Win: Not only do I get to go myself, but I get to take one of you with me! (Don’t worry. You don’t have to rub elbows with me if you don’t want to. *sniff*) This prize includes the conference registration ($449 value), plus lodging for a family of up to 6 ($110 value). Room upgrades are available for larger families. If you can’t quite make the trip to Asheville, that’s OK. If you can’t attend, you’ll receive the recordings of all the talks as your prize! That’s a $250 value, and you don’t even have to pack a bag to get it, so don’t go away without entering, even if you aren’t up to traveling right now.

How to enter: To enter, first sign up for the NCFIC email list (and giveaway) here. Then leave a comment letting me know you’d like to attend the conference! (Or receive the audio. But really, you need to go to the mountains in October. It’s lovely this time of year.)

Extra entries: 

  • Tell your pastor, worship leader, or other church leader. For yet another chance to win, call or email someone in your church or community who might be interested in this conference and let them know about this giveaway. Don’t forget to come back and let me know you did so in the comments!
  • Share. For one more entry, help spread the word by sharing via your favorite social media sites. Just use the buttons at the bottom of this post. Let me know you did by leaving a comment with the link to your share.

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, October 9, 2013. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. The prize does not include food or transportation expenses. Good luck!

 Disclosure: I have been offered a free registration and lodging for my family, or the option of receiving the audio if I can’t attend. Other than that, I’m receiving no compensation from NCFIC.

Sore Thumb Syndrome

What to do when you stick out like a sore thumb…

I go everywhere with my five (going on six) children. This is mostly because I like going places with them, but also because they’re still too young to leave at home by themselves. When we go out in public, whether it is for shopping, recreation, or a quick library stop, I’ll often look up for a moment from whatever task I had been focusing on and find myself confronted with the unsettling (because I’m really rather shy) sight of someone staring at me. Just staring.

Many times, what I see is a look of pleasant interest. Often, I have seen looks of disgust. Other times, it has been pity or simply blank incomprehension. Sometimes it’s just plain amusement. It’s OK! I think we’re funny, too. People usually don’t seem to know that their thoughts are plainly written on their faces, and for the most part, they are simply reacting normally. Most people have very little experience with large families, and so I don’t blame them for wondering. Still, it requires a thickening of the skin to grow a large family–or, for that matter, to be different in any other way.

My children and I are well-behaved, civilized people–or so we think, at least. There is no public nose-picking or loud cursing or otherwise uncouth behavior in our ranks. (Well, alright. The nose-picking thing might be a problem for some of our younger ones. But the rest of us are fairly presentable.) Our clothes are whole, clean, and covering all the right body parts. We’re usually not even getting in anybody’s way! Even in Walmart, where being courteous enough to try not to block the middle of the aisle makes us even more of a rarity, we try to make sure that we’re not a nuisance.

“What’s the big deal?” I used to wonder.

Fortunately (for my curiosity’s sake, if not for that of my peace of mind) many of these individuals, upon noticing my noticing them noticing me, have pulled their faces back into a semblance of politeness and taken the time to tell me what it is that has them so shocked.

It is my brazen display of fertility!

I don’t mean to give the impression that we’re in danger of being stoned and left for dead every time we go to the library. Most people are, in fact, kind and sweet and accepting! Once even the most unguarded observer has picked his chin up from the floor and put on his company manners, he will still treat us as an oddity, but a harmless or even enjoyable one. Real hostility is rare, thank God! However, scattered amongst the harmless and amusing comments and smiles, there are always those scandalized few who are all too happy to let me know that what I’m doing is not at all socially acceptable:

“Doesn’t your husband know how this keeps happening?” (As if I’d somehow duped him into this.)

“Slow learner, huh?” (Spoken directly to my husband with a humiliating sidelong glance at my very-pregnant belly.)

“You poor thing! I’d go crazy!” (Um, my children have ears and they can HEAR you!)

“That’s too many! You can stop now.”

“Last one, I hope!”

Or, when spoken a certain way, the words that mean “you poor idiot” in the South: “Bless your heart!”

These are, thankfully, extreme examples, (hand-picked for their egregious rudeness). I try very hard not to lump them in with the well-meaning individuals who are just remarking out of surprise or interest.

But it is at times difficult to know how to respond, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but when I go grocery shopping, I don’t think I should have to talk about birth control with random men who don’t know me. People who are addressing you expect a response, and I was raised to offer one, so it puts me in kind of a bind.

What does one do, when one is weary of the whole discussion? 

I’ve given a name to this uneasy, unhelpful feeling I carry with me to Walmart: Sore Thumb Syndrome. Try as I might to ignore the fact, we stick out, and people notice, and sometimes what they say hurts. The temptation after a few painful encounters is to protect and defend, not engage. That’s natural! But defensiveness is almost never appropriate because most people aren’t trying to be hurtful.

I’m a pretty introverted person, and when I speak to people about things that matter, I don’t want it to be in the middle of the dairy aisle. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to do it anyway:

Be patient. My children haven’t taught me nearly as much patience as have the strangers who like to remark on the amount of patience I must have. I have to remind myself that this is a completely different person than the last person who said the exact same thing to me. Yes, I am tired of hearing “You’ve got your hands full.” But this lady doesn’t know that. I have to remember that the person in line behind me is not to be held responsible for the fact that I’ve already heard (and answered) that particular comment one hundred and thirty times. She gets my standard “Yes, ma’am, they keep me busy.” It’s not witty, but…well, I do have my hands full. I don’t have time to be witty!

Pay attention. Sometimes “bless your heart” is just a random comment. Sometimes it’s a door to a real conversation. Last month, a dear lady said that to me, and it did sound at first as if she were feeling sorry for me. But I stopped to talk with her for a minute, and found out that she’d had one child who (as she put it) “lived as a vegetable for eleven years” after a complicated delivery. After that, she was barren for ten years. Her second child was a wonderful blessing to her, and she wanted to talk to me about how blessed she was to have him. Her interest in my number of children was a chance for me to meet a kindred spirit, and a sister in Christ. It was her chance to talk about something that she probably didn’t have a lot of chances to talk about–her sacrificial love for her children. Her story ministered to me, and I hope I was able to minister to her in my response to it, as well. If I’d ignored her as I was tempted to do, I’d have missed a blessing! This sort of thing happens pretty frequently, so I’ve learned to never assume that there’s nothing new to learn from the same old remark.

Know that this is just small talk. Typically, people who like to do small talk will pick whatever topic first springs to mind. Forget about the weather. When you have five children hanging off your cart, they are what is going to come to mind first. Unfortunately, the fact that I hate small talk is not going to stop the people around me from loving it. “Introvert” is not the same thing as “rude”, so I’ve accepted that I’m going to have to suck it up and be the topic of conversation for a minute. It’ll be over in thirty seconds. I can handle thirty seconds of small talk.

Smile. The very last thing I ever want to do when asked about my very busy life is give the impression that I’m not enjoying it. That’s pretty tough to accomplish some days, not because I’m not enjoying it (I am!), but because the conversation itself is not pleasant. It is hard to smile and respond graciously when I’m told how much someone would hate to be in my shoes. This is an insult to my children! But I will not have my children thinking that our critics (and yes, some percentage of these people are critics, rather than just curious bystanders) must have a point because Mama is such a crankypants when she talks about it. Each one of these little people is a blessing in his own way. I can enjoy telling others about that, even if I don’t enjoy the way the conversation started.

Witness. You’ve got a conversation starter. Use it! As my mother-in-law reminded me recently, we are a peculiar people. Following Christ has led us to a very unusual lifestyle, and we must expect to be treated as oddballs. Christ sustains us, nurtures us, and yes, blesses us through our families! Never miss an opportunity to praise God for what he has done in your family. Children are a blessing!

As long as we’ve got this conversation going, though, let’s try very hard not make it all about the kids. See if you can find something out about the person to whom you’re speaking, as well, and minister in whatever small way you can. I certainly don’t do this every time, but there’s a nudge that the Holy Spirit gives when a little bit more than a smile and a nod is required. Go with that nudge.

Shamefully, I’ve been given to complain about the number of comments and questions I’ve gotten over the last few years. It is hard sometimes, and I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting it. But we need to be positive in our interactions with others, and complaining is a very bad thing to do. Jesus said so. We large-family parents are human, though, and this kind of attention (especially the cruel or unthinking kind) requires practice to handle gracefully. This is doubly true for those of us who prefer to go through life receiving very little attention at all.

Just as I’ve learned to thank God for the hard work of motherhood because the time that I’ll have these miracles in my home is so short, I’m certain that there will be a day when I miss even the strangest of comments, because the silence means that I’ve run out of ducklings to waddle behind me. Even the pettiest comments will fade away from my memory one day, but God will require an account of my response to each one.

35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

If I’ve learned one thing, it is this: Make your answers good. The person to whom you’re responding may need more than an empty, canned response.