Redeeming the Locust Years

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—”  Joel 2:25

NEW PODCAST IS UP:  Redeeming the Locust Years

joel-225.jpg

This week, we took a little break from our 10 Essentials to Homeschooling Podcast Series.  It’s been a long and disappointing week for many, so we wanted to take a break to share a little bit of humor and a whole lot of encouragement from God’s Word.

We decided to update and repost this week a previous blog from last year.   In our latest podcast, we share encouragement from God’s Word and from Joel 2:18-26 in particular.  I share some of my own experiences of how God has restored and redeemed past homeschooling years that were lost or eaten up by the “locust.” God is faithful and mighty to save.  Knowing God has replenished past years and even multiplied our efforts, we can be sure that this year will be no exception.

Do you feel like this season of homeschooling has eaten up by the locust or do you feel like this has been a lost year? If you feel like this has been a year of wasted time, wasted effort, wasted money, or wasted tears, then be reminded that NOTHING is wasted in God’s economy.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I remember sitting on the cold bathroom floor wondering when the morning sickness would subside.  I was well into my sixth month of pregnancy and the violent vomiting still plagued my mornings.  Since vomiting induces a vagal response in the body, I seize and pass out every time I gag or vomit.  My morning ritual in the bathroom would wipe me out for most of the day.    At this time, I was homeschooling my daughter, and my husband wasn’t working from home yet.  Needless to say, not much homeschooling or learning was taking place.  Well, at least that is what I thought and that is definitely how I felt.

47EABC11-5902-4558-A8A2-8DBE71C508EELater that year, my son was born, and I was exhausted.  He never took a nap longer than 20 minutes.  One morning I noticed the back of the house was unusually quiet.  I rushed to see what was happening. To my surprise, my daughter was sitting next to my baby boy reading to him.  No big deal right?  Well, it was a pretty big deal for me.  I attempted to teach her to read prior to my pregnancy but to no avail.  Between my exhaustion, passing out, and recovering from childbirth, we never really got much school work done during pregnancy or after my son was born.   I thought I had failed.  I thought we would have to do some major catch up the next school year.  However somehow along the way, my daughter figured it out.  She had learned to read.  All of the “fruit” that I thought was lost,  eaten up and wasted by the swarm of locust that “invaded” our home and homeschooling that year were actually redeemed and replenished by the Lord.  The past year was not wasted.  Through God’s power and grace, our school year was blessed and was surprisingly quite fruitful.

cup run overThere have been so many examples over the past twenty years of me ending the school year feeling like a failure, yet the year was restored by God’s grace, redeemed by God’s mercy, replenished and even multiplied by God’s faithfulness!  This school year will not be an exception.  It has been a year of loss and mourning, but God has turned “my mourning into dancing … and [He] has taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”  (Psalm 30:  11).  It has been a year of betrayal and brokenness, yet the Lord has “bestowed on [me} a crown of beauty instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61:3).  And yes, it has been a year of wasted hours and stolen minutes, however, God has promised me he will “restore the years that the locust has eaten… Behold [He is] sending grain, wine and oil, and [I} will be satisfied… The threshing floor shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. . . . [We} shall eat in plenty and be satisfied”  (Joel 2:  18-26).  
Finish this school year knowing that God is ultimately in control and He is our mighty Redeemer and Restorer.

**NEW PODCAST:  Redeeming the Locust Years.  CLICK HERE or find us on iTunes or Spotify.  Next week, we will continue our 10 Essentials to Homeschooling series and discuss Essentials #7 and #8.

coffee with carrie podcast shot locust years

Skip College?

cap and gownIt is hard to believe that my eldest is a college graduate with a BS in Psychology and a minor in music.  She finished her studies just shy of her 21st birthday and is now working to save money for grad school, studying for the GRE, leading classes for homeschool students,  planning her next international travel adventure, and for added fun auditioning at local community theatres.

My daughter never stepped into a traditional brick and mortar classroom until her first day of dual enrollment college classes at the local community college during her junior year of high school.  She homeschooled from Kindergarten all the way to high school graduation.  She was accepted into every college she applied to, earned scholarships, performed well on the SAT and ACT tests and passed the CHSPE at the ripe old age of 15.

Why do I share all of this?  It is my prayer that it will ease your fears.  Yes, you can successfully homeschool your child, even through the high school years.  And yes, your student will be well prepared for sophisticated academic pursuits at the college level – IF he or she decides to go to college and IF it is God’s plan for her to attend a four-year university!

Statistically speaking, homeschoolers perform on average or above average on standardized college entrance exams and are accepted into top-tier universities at the same rate as traditional students.  They also have the same or better university graduation rate as their traditionally schooled peers.  It is clear home education prepares students for college.

But dare I say not all high school students need to go to college!  Yes, I said it and I’m sticking by it!  I hate the expression, “He’s just not college material.”   The implication is that the student isn’t smart enough to succeed in college.  Hog wash!  I think the more accurate expression is “He doesn’t need college material to succeed!”  Not all students need college degrees.  Not all students need a college education to succeed in life and in the workforce.  If your child wants to be a doctor, an engineer, a therapist, a lawyer, an accountant or a teacher, then yes, a degree and certification are necessary, therefore, college is in his future!  However, in today’s modern workforce and in the age of information, many jobs, skills, and careers can be learned via internships, apprenticeships, internet, or trade schools.  Experts also predict that many of the jobs our students will possess have not even been invented yet!

disney-traditions.jpgAh, I hear you saying, “My son at least needs a degree of some kind just to get his foot in the door of any company or job.”  Dare I say, this is no longer true.  Mega companies like Apple, Google, and IBM no longer require a degree for higher- level and higher- paying jobs.  Then there are companies like Nordstroms, Disney, Home Depot, and Lowes that allow employees hired at entry- level positions to move up to the highest ranks of their companies, withOUT a degree.   Don’t forget about companies like Starbucks and Chick-fi-La that encourage their employees to train for manager positions and then encourage them to own their own IMG_6586franchises in the future.  In today’s market, creative and hard- working individuals who have an entrepreneurial spirit can build a portfolio, invent a new app, start a new company, publish their own book, produce their own album, or get paid just for using social media.  Some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inventors dropped out of college or skipped college altogether to pursue their dreams and passions or to develop a business model they started during their high school years.

Dare I say it again- Not all high schoolers need to go to college!  It takes just as much courage to NOT attend college in order to pursue a passion or to start a new business as it takes to attend college and pursue a college degree.  If your student needs a degree or wants to attend college, then go for it!  My daughter loved college so much she intends to pursue a master’s degree and perhaps even her Phd.  But her calling requires a degree (or two).  If your student wants to pursue an acting career, a sports career, a writing career or even an art career, consider skipping college.  If your student has no idea what he wants to do, or he has tons of ideas of what he wants to do, then consider skipping a four -year university.  Attend community college to save money and explore options.  Attend a trade school to learn a dying art or to get certified in welding, woodworking, or mechanics.  Find a mentor or an expert in a field for your son or daughter to train under.  Then encourage your teen to work his/her way up the ladder.  Not going to college does not limit their career possibilities; it might just make the possibilities endless!

skip collegeIf one of the main reasons you decided to homeschool was to instill in your child a love of learning, then one option might be to allow that child to use his ability to learn and to use his natural curiosity in the workforce instead of on a college campus.  If you are still not convinced it is ok to say “It’s okay to skip college” then I highly recommend you read the book Skip College:  Launch Your Career Without Debt, Distractions or a Degree by Connor Boyack.  You will be pleasantly surprised.  Boyack does not speak poorly of college. He actually spends the first few chapters discussing how important it is to determine IF college is something you want or need to do.  Then he spends the rest of the book speaking to the person who has decided to skip college.  The book is full of logical reasons to skip college and great ideas on how to succeed in the workplace without a college degree.

Where is God calling your teen to go?  What is God calling your teen to do?  Pray, pray and pray some more!  Then begin exploring other options for your teen who may want to skip college.  If your teen is ready, willing and able to step onto the campus for the academic rigor of a four -year university, then be assured your decision to homeschool high school will give him all of the tools he needs to get accepted and to succeed in college.  If, however, you feel God is leading your high schooler on a different track, one that does not necessarily involve the traditional college experience, take heart.  God designed your teen.  He knows his strengths.  He ignited those passions in his heart.   Be open to the fact that God’s plan for your teen’s life may not look like the plan you had envisioned.  Listen to your teen’s heart.  Listen to the soft whispers of the Holy Spirit.  Rest assured your decision to homeschool high school will also give him all of the tools he needs to follow his passions, learn important skills, and succeed in the workplace.  Perhaps skipping college is just what God is calling your teen to.

God bless,

Carrie

**For more information on how to homeschool the high school years to prepare your teen for either college or the workforce, attend our special weekend for homeschooling moms on March 27th and 28th. On Friday evening, our first session is “How to Homeschool High School.”  Our panel of homeschool graduates will share their high school journeys, what they did (traditional and non-traditional) to meet the CA requirements, what they are doing now in the workforce and/or on the college campuses, and how homeschooling through high school helped each of them achieve their personal, academic and spiritual goals.  Dads and teens are invited to attend Friday night’s session.  Special Guests- Carolyn and Martin Forte.**

Click here for more information or to register

Click here to register.

homeschool adventure new flyer image

 

Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember

give thanks psAs we move closer to Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you one of our favorite past posts: THANKSGIVING: Joshua’s Memorial Stones.

I am ever so grateful for God’s faithfulness.  As I look back on 2019, I abundantly see God’s fingerprints and handiwork everywhere.  We have so much to be thankful for.  I am looking forward to remembering, sharing and honoring God’s faithfulness in this year’s Thanksgiving “Memorial Stones.”

It is my prayer this past post blesses you.  Please share with your homeschooling friends who may need a word of encouragement this week.

May God richly bless your homeschooling journey for His honor and glory,

Carrie

Are You A Runner?

head between kneesAre you a runner?  I must admit I am not, at least not in the literal sense!  I have never enjoyed running as a form of exercise.  However, I am guilty of being a runner.  My first reaction to fear is to run!  When I am faced with confrontation, disappointment, betrayal, bad news, or failure, my gut instinct is to run and hide.  I seek solitude, and I run away from people.

Are you a runner?  In the Book of Jonah (chapters 1-2), God gave Jonah a calling he didn’t want.   Jonah had his reasons.  He didn’t agree with God’s plans.  He didn’t particularly like the reasons for God’s commands.  He didn’t think he was the right man for the job.  But God made Jonah’s calling clear:  Go to Ninevah and tell the people to repent.  Nineveh was 500 miles northeast of where Jonah was at the time.   So what does Jonah do?  He runs!  He runs (well more like sails) to Tarshish which is almost 2000 miles west in Spain.  That is a 2500 mile “gap” between God’s call and Jonah’s heart.  God said, “Go east.” Jonah said, “No way!  I’m going west.”  Jonah was a runner too!

On most days, I love homeschooling!  On most days, learning alongside my family fills my heart with all kinds of wonderful feelings.  I love their “ah ha!” moments, their breakthroughs, or hearing their silly laughter echoing in the halls.  But on some days, I want to run!  It’s hard. It can be painful.  It’s not what I was expecting. It’s hard to get out of bed when I am riddled with pain, when I have one more Dr. appointment to go to, when my family is dealing with a death, or my depression rears its ugly head again.  It’s painful to see my child struggle with school, with his confidence, with his self-image, or with disappointment or heartbreak.  For you, perhaps you are dealing with a broken relationship, taking care of a baby and/or your aging parents, or trying to pay the pile of bills stacked up on your desk.  In all honesty and with complete transparency, some days (or weeks or even months) are not exactly how I was expecting our homeschooling to go. So I run!

The problem with my running is the direction in which I choose to run.  I run away and hide.  Often I’m full of shame at feeling this way or for feeling like a failure.  I run away from friends who I know want to help or who can offer sound advice. I run away from the problem, the confrontation, the disappointment.  Sometimes I feel like Forest Gump who just kept running and running and running.   But it is ok to be a runner!  We just need to run in the right direction and for the right reasons.  Instead of running AWAY from my problems, I need to run TO the arms of my heavenly Father.  It is on these horrible, terrible, no-good very bad days, I need to run (and run as fast as I can) to Jesus and His Word.  I may stumble, I may fall, and I may even have an ugly cry as I hit the floor in yet another face plant, but at least I’m running in the right direction.  I may still need to seek solitude but at least I’m inviting God into the space to hold me, guide me, and cover me.

Derek-Redmond-001

One of my favorite stories is of 1992 Olympic runner, Derek Redmond, and how he finished his race with the help of his father.  Injured and in pain, Redmond finished the race as his father embraced him and held him up.  Get some kleenex and watch this beautiful moment and  standing ovation Redmond and his father received: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhdoTThn5mw

It’s ok to be a runner, but don’t run in the direction of Jonah.  Don’t create a 2500 mile gap between God’s plans and your plans.  On the really bad days, don’t run alone!  On the days you feel like running, think about in what direction you are running.  On the bad days, are you running away from God and His calling for you to be a homeschool mom or are you running towards God knowing that in His perfect timing and in His perfect way, you will finish the race and you will finish it strong.

run enduranceOn those bad days, think about why you are running.  Are you homeschooling to run away from something (bad school policies, toxic educational environments, immoral curriculums, inadequate services, ideological indoctrination, etc) or are you homeschooling so you can run to something better (making God’s Word focal point in learning, feeding curiosity,  building family relationships, investing time in passions and gifts, etc). If your homeschooling decision is based on running away from a school system, then you will always be running in fear.  If your homeschooling decision is based on running to something better, then your days will be filled with purpose.  If your homeschooling decision is based on running to what God has called you to do, then you can run with full confidence that God’s got your back (and He is actually paving the road before you if you will have the courage to see it and follow it!)

jonah 2-2 whale tailAre you a runner?  I am!  It is my prayer that when you and I run, we will run in the right direction.  I pray that on those bad days when we fill like running, hiding and giving up, we will run towards the finish line allowing our heavenly father to lift us up and will gain strength from the support and encouragement we are receiving from our friends and family on the sidelines.  Jonah eventually cried out to God for help and to no surprise, God was there to save him.  Let’s do this!  Let’s run together!

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means we begin to run in different directions.  Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, holiday decorations are already up, and Christmas music is already flooding the airways.  The pace of the holidays never seems to slow down.  This November, run with a grateful heart.  This December, run towards the reason for the season.  Take a break from your official homeschooling schedule to enjoy the holidays, the family visiting from out of town, and the hours of baking and cooking.  Trust me, the math facts, grammar books, and history projects will still be waiting for you in January.  Take time to play some games, drink some hot chocolate, eat some pie, and snuggle on the couch while reading some great books together.

May God richly bless your running for His honor and glory,

Carrie

homeschool adventure imagePlease join us March 27th & 28th as we will dig deeper into the Book of Jonah!  In our first Saturday morning session, The Jonah Journey:  When God’s Plans Don’t Match Ours  (Book of Jonah Study), Carrie De Francisco will share biblical principles from the Book of Jonah that can be applied to your ministry of motherhood and calling to homeschool.  Like Jonah, are you traveling this homeschooling journey kicking and screaming or are you running in the opposite direction filled with fear, doubts and down-right apprehension?  Has God called you to homeschool or has He called you to homeschool another year?  Don’t run away!  Accept the call!  And come to our special weekend for homeschooling moms!  In our first session, we will learn lessons from Jonah on how to be joyful (and obedient) when God’s homeschooling “itinerary” doesn’t match ours!  We will also jonah accept the calllearn from Jonah how anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and disobedience (even delayed obedience) can turn an adventure and a holy calling into a long, exhausting and even torturous trip.   For more information on our special weekend for homeschooling moms, check out theUpcoming Event” tab.  Early Bird Registration begins Jan. 1st!

 

Day of Dedication

I love FALL and starting school is one of my favorite times of the year!   I love shopping for new supplies, adding new books to our shelves, and reorganizing our study area!  (Not to mention all of the back to school shopping bargains at the $1 store, Target and Staples!)  There’s nothing like the sound of a crisp new book, a fresh new notebook with wrinkle-free white pages, or the smell of new highlighters.  Christmas for me comes in August when all of our new books arrive from Amazon!  I am giddy like a little kid on Christmas morning when I see our box of markers is actually full, the pencils are all sharpened and the backpacks are food-free, sock-free and trash-free!

With the beginning of a new year, comes the promise of traveling to far away, exotic (and sometimes even imaginary) worlds, finding new heroes to emulate, new music to master,  meeting new friends (in real life and in books) and sinking my teeth into a new challenge or hobby.  However, the most important thing I do even before planning our homeschool year or purchasing our new supplies is I cover our new school year in prayer!

Bible and coffeeFor those of you who attended our Homeschooling Mom Event last March, you heard me share a little bit about our “Day of Dedication.”  This is not only my favorite thing to do before school starts, but I consider it the most important thing to do before our studies begin.

DAY OF DEDICATION

First, if you have little ones, I strongly suggest you get your hubby on board or enlist a fellow homeschooling mom to help.  When my kids were younger, I would set one whole day aside in August.  My husband would take the kids on a fun, all-day outing so I could have the entire house to myself.

Second, I spread out all of the books, curriculum, class flyers, computer CD’s, etc on the family room floor.  I literally get on my knees, bow before my heavenly Father and pray over EVERYTHING.

  1. I pray that God will meet us each and every day in our lessons and in everything we will study.
  2. I pray that my family will meet God in a new way this coming year; that our knowledge, love, and devotion to Him and His Word would be deepened through all of our studies.  (Yes, I even pray God would not only help us get through math without tears but that my kids would see God in a new way through studying even math!)
  3. I pray that God’s plans, not mine, will prevail in the coming school year.  I pray that His will, not mine, will be done.
  4. I pray for the courage to really let God take control of our school year and that I would obediently and cheerfully take the passenger seat.
  5. I pray for God to give me discernment on what books, classes and/or curriculum are important to my child’s growth and development this year and which ones can or should be eliminated.  More isn’t always better!
  6. I then pray for the courage to remove the things from our schedules, our lessons, (and maybe even our lives) that are not God’s best for each child.

 

After I pray over our books and our plans, I then dedicate the year and all we do to the Lord.  Each year I find a verse I feel God is calling us to obey or a promise to claim.  I print the verse and put it on our refrigerator.  I put it in my Bible as a bookmark.  I write it on the inside of my son’s planner, and I keep it saved on my laptop as one of my screensavers.  I find having the verse everywhere reminds me to pray the verse and pray it often!   The Lord always makes it clear to me what our yearly verse should be and this summer was no exception.

As I began working on our next Homeschooling Mom Event in March (2020), I decided to teach from the Book of Jonah.  In my studies, Jonah 4:2 and Jonah 2:7 really stood out, so I highlighted it and moved on.  Then throughout the summer through sermons, personal bible studies and discussions with my family, I was reminded that God’s abounding love and grace is unconditional and limitless and that all I need to do is cry out to Him. I also felt God was reminding me that as a child of God, as one of His own, I needed to be more like Him.  God was calling me to more gracious, more compassionate, and slow to anger.  I needed to give love abundantly not only to my family but to those I serve in the homeschooling community.  So Jonah 4:2 is our family’s 2019-2020 family verse.  It is a promise and a command that I will cling to and try to obey this coming year.

Once I pick a family verse for the year, I pray the verse over our family and then dedicate our lives, our family and our school year to the Lord:  “May everything we do and say be for the honor and glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in His sight.   May the Lord bless us, keep us and shine his face upon us. May the Lord be gracious to us, turn his face upon us and give us peace”  (1 Cor 10: 31, Ps 19:14, and Numbers 6:24-26).  Each year, I also pray Ephesians 3:14-21 and insert my children’s name in each verse.

Next, I turn my attention to each child in particular.  With prayer, I write four to five goals for each child.  One is always a spiritual goal, one is usually a social or emotional goal, one is an academic goal and one tends to focus on character building.  As my kids matured, I included them in picking a spiritual goal, an extra academic goal and even a personal growth goal.  Now that my daughter is in college, I ask her what specifically she wants me to pray for her during the year.  Using these goals, I pray for God to reveal a personal verse for each child.  I look through my Bible and my journal for scripture verses that God had been sharing with me during the summer.  Once a verse is revealed, it becomes the child’s theme verse for the year.  I pray this verse for my child each morning as we prepare for school and each week as I plan lessons.  (Even though my daughter is in college, I still pick a bible verse to pray specifically for her during the semester.)  Sometimes I even include a personal bible verse I feel God is declaring as a promise for a particular child.

amazing creaturesFinally, I decide what our family devotions will look like for the year.  No two years have ever been the same.  A few years may have been similar but as the kids grew, their personalities developed, their character strengths (and flaws) become apparent, and our family schedules changed, so did our morning devotion time.  Every season of homeschooling has been different. Therefore, our family devotions were molded to meet our spiritual needs each year.

When the kids were young, we simply read a Bible story during family devotion time from either DK’s Illustrated Family Bible or The Child’s Story Bible by Vos.   I would switch back and forth different years for variety.  We would simply read the bible story, discuss what happened, what we can learn from the story and most importantly, how we could apply those truths that very day!  Some years I would pick a devotional that related to our main topic of study for the year. A few years we focused on Animal studies and zoology so we used God’s Amazing Creatures and Me by Haidle.  One year when the kids were older and they still loved animals, we used The Big Book of Animal Devotions by Coleman.  Not only were we learning about God’s creation but we were also connecting it to biblical truths.   Several years we “traveled” the world through history, art, science, math, and literature, so we used Window on the World by Spraggett.  We used it again in high school the year my son took Comparative Religions.  Each page gives a description of a particular culture or country and then gives ways to pray for that country.

window on the worldSome years we did Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) as a family so the kids and I would read the bible passages and answer the questions together.  Our favorite BSF studies were The Life of Moses (Exodus to Deuteronomy), Acts of the Apostles (an awesome study of Paul and most of his epistles) and The Gospel of John.  As the kids grew older, they each read independently either from their bibles or from a little devotional book.  When my son was middle school age, he loved The One Year Sports Devotional Book.  My daughter was always partial to anything related to the study of Esther!  Sometimes we would just pick an inspirational book we wanted to read as a family.  I would read a chapter during family devotion time and then we would discuss biblical truths and daily applications.   Some of our best discussions were sparked by Ben Carson’s biography, Gifted Hands, Tim Tebow’s book, Shaken, Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis and Heaven is for Real by Burpo.

website whole heartAs an added bonus, each summer I pick one of my favorite go-to homeschooling books to reread and to enjoy.  Some of my favorites by Sally Clarkson,  Sarah MacKenzie, and Dr. Raymond Moore have so many nuggets of truth and sound biblical advice that  I find rereading one of these books each summer inspires me and encourages me to begin fresh each school year.

 

DAY OF DEDICATION In a nutshell:

  1. Set aside a day for solitude, planning, and prayer.
  2. Pray over EVERYTHING that will be read, used and/or studied this coming school year.
  3. Pick a Bible verse to pray over your family, your home and your homeschooling this year.  Print it and place it in numerous places.
  4. On bended knee, pray and dedicate your school year to the Lord.
  5. Write 4-5 goals for each of your children.  Then with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, pick a bible verse and/or biblical promise for each of your children.  Use this verse to pray for and over each child during the school year.
  6. Choose a bible study and/or devotional you will use for family devotion time during the year.
  7. For fun, reread one of your favorite, go-to homeschooling books or author.
  8. Wait on the Lord and expect Him to do miraculous and wonderful things in the lives of your children and in your homeschooling journey this year.

May God richly bless your homeschooling adventure this year for His Glory,

Carrie D.

***Mark your calendars for March 27-28th.  If you live in the southern California area, we would love for you to join us for our next homeschooling mom event:  Homeschooling Adventures:  A Weekend to Refresh, Rest and Rejuvenate.  It will be a weekend of encouragement, refreshment, and fellowship.  At the conference, we will share more on the topic of how to prepare for a new homeschooling year as well as teach an in-depth study of the Book of Jonah.  For more information on the event and sessions, visit our tab “Upcoming Events.”  Make sure you “like” and “follow” our blog for monthly topics on Christian homeschooling and for updates on our early bird registration (Jan. 1st 2020) for our homeschooling mom event in March.***