Great Review of my Book Stress-free Homeschooling by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

I received this very positive review of my devotional book Stress-Free Homeschooling: 31 Days to a Healthier Way of Thinking by Kelly Burgess of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!! Thank you so much, Kelly and TOS Magazine! I wrote this devotional book specifically for homeschooling mothers, but any parent who struggles with negative thinking or discouragement could benefit. I pray that it will be a blessing to you! Stress-free Homeschooling: 31 Days to a Healthier Way of Thinking by Laura Hum is available in print at The Learning House, and as an e-book at Barnes and Noble Nook, Lulu, and the iTunes store.
Update: ebook now available at Amazon and kobo as well.

Stress-Free Homeschooling: 31 Days to a Healthier Way of Thinking Review by Kelly Burgess

This product is essentially a thirty-one-day devotional journal that helps the homeschooling mom regain positive thinking and thereby reboot what may otherwise be a stressful homeschooling environment. It’s printed in a compact, easy-to-carry, spiral-bound booklet that is easy to keep at hand for daily encouragement.

I’ve been homeschooling my children for fourteen years now, and I can honestly say that I’m feeling a bit weary and battle-scarred in this home stretch with five more years to go until the youngest child goes to public high school. Each of my three children are so different, and each one has presented their own set of challenges, both in their education and in their behavior. at home. Homeschooling is a full-time job, and full-time in this case means around the clock. It’s a lifestyle that requires an ongoing commitment that involves continuous self-sacrifice. There’s no escaping the fact that it can drain your reserves on the best of days.

Because of that, I’ve really been longing to find something that would recharge my batteries and help me have a more positive outlook on this monumental task of homeschooling. I don’t want to feel like giving up on this important commitment, and I can honestly say that this book has given me lots of positive messages to ponder and internalize. It has helped me see things in a new light.

Each day’s message begins with a concern or feeling of discouragement about which you might find yourself praying to the Lord. Then the author shares how that same negative thought has plagued her in her homeschooling journey, but she goes on to use scripture to explain how the Lord wants us to view the situation. She helps guide the reader into a more positive approach and helps you find ways to see the issue with fresh eyes and a biblical perspective. Then at the end of the explanation, she leaves the reader with a scripture reference for further study and blank lines to record your thoughts and reflections on the topic.

As I read through the book, I felt encouraged that the author has experienced the same frustrations and worries that I have experienced in my homeschool, which let me know that these negative thoughts and feelings of discouragement are not unique to me only. I’m not having them simply because I’m a bad mother or a poor instructor. Instead, she reminds me that Satan is always ready to use these down-times to bring about self-doubt and to try to lead me away from leaning on God for his mercy and direction. As I read each day’s message, I felt a sense of calm and was reminded that God has called me to this task and will see me through it. I learned how to take a negative situation and view it as a building block that can result in a positive learning and growing experience in both my life and the lives of my children.

I highly recommend this book to every mom who has let doubts, fears, and frustrations creep into her homeschool. The positive perspective and scripture references brought me to a place of peace for the first time in a long time. I can do this! In Him, all things are possible.

 

-Product review by Kelly Burgess, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine®, LLC, May, 2017

http://www.theoldschoolhouse.com/product-reviews/?rid=6233

When You’re Hurting on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the blessing of having or being a mother. It is a time to express and receive gratitude for the sacrificial love that mothers give to their children every day. This can bring much joy, but sometimes Mother’s Day brings out more negative emotions.

Grief: When your own mother is no longer alive, Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder that she is no longer with you, and that you will never have another opportunity to spend that day with her. You will never again be able to hug her or tell her that you love her. You miss her. Who can replace a mother’s love?

Perhaps you’re grieving over infertility, or a child that died too young. One that you miscarried, aborted, or that you gave birth to, but then eventually had to bury.  You grieve over lost experiences; memories that you could have had but didn’t; the future that your child could have had. This type of grief is sometimes more painful than grieving a parent, who lived a full life, and with whom you shared many memories.

Rejection: A strained relationship with one or more of your children can make Mother’s Day an unwanted occasion. It’s tempting to look at other families who “have it all together” and wonder why your relationship with that child is so painful. Perhaps that child that you loved now sees you as the enemy, and harbors bitterness towards you. Rejection is never fun, and on Mother’s Day is particularly hard to deal with.

Resentment: Perhaps your mother hurt you deeply. You resent how she treated you, and cannot seem to bring yourself to forgive her. You keep her at a distance and put walls around yourself, because you don’t want to be hurt again. Or perhaps you resent your child, who has rebelled against you and brought shame to the family, or who shows no appreciation for the sacrifices you’ve made for them.

Regret: Perhaps you’ve made some wrong choices along the way, and now you are living with regret and guilt over them. You’d like to go back in time and redo some things, but that is impossible. You may be living with heartbreaking consequences as a result of your choices. Perhaps you find it very difficult to forgive yourself.

Anxiety:  You see your loved one on a path to self-destruction. This makes you feel anxious. You want to protect them and see them turn from their lifestyle to one of wholeness and healing. Mother’s Day can be an unpleasant reminder that your child is broken. You want them to be whole but they are not. And their brokenness, in turn, breaks your heart and makes you feel anxious.

What words can I write to assuage your feelings? If you are feeling any of these negative emotions, you have the right to feel that way. I’m not going to try to talk you out of them. You have legitimate reasons for feeling that way. I wish I could wave my magic wand and make everything better, but I can’t. What I can do, however, is reassure you that there is comfort for your grief; unconditional love in place of rejection; healing in place of resentment; forgiveness for the things you regret; and peace to replace your anxiety. The Lord Jesus Christ loves you dearly, and knows what you are going through. He has promised never to leave you or forsake you. He can comfort you in a way that even a mother can’t, because he knows what it is to grieve and suffer. He offers you forgiveness for any wrongs that you have committed, and promises rest and peace to those who bring their burdens to him in prayer and trust him in their situation. He will even give you the grace to forgive those who have hurt you, so you can move on in your life and walk in healing and freedom.

Mother’s Day has a way of bringing out both the good and the bad in your relationships. I hope it is a good day for you, but if it isn’t, the Lord is there for you; he understands what you’re going through; and there is always hope in him. Just turn to him and ask for his help, and he will help you. You are his beloved!

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

A Psalm for Easter

Where, O Lord, will I find security?

In government? In my bank account? In a job? In my relationships?

Governments fail; money flies away; layoffs happen; relationships break.

No; my security is in you and you alone, O my God.

You are the anchor of my soul,

The one who is holding me in the palm of your hand.

You will never forsake me.

Where, O Lord, will I find love?

In my family? Among my friends? In the arms of my lover? In my community?

Alas, their love is fickle. It is here one moment and gone the next.

When my heart is in pain, sometimes no one understands; and if they do,

They are powerless to heal my broken heart.

But you, O Lord, love me with an everlasting love;

A selfless, unconditional love that does not waver.

You accept me just as I am and nothing I do could add to or diminish your love for me.

Ah, that is true love.

I rest in your unfailing, transforming love for me, O Lord.

Where will I find significance, Lord?

In education? In success? In follows and likes? In pursuing a cause? In wealth?

You do not measure my worth by human standards.

No; in your eyes I am significant because I am yours.

You created me; you redeemed me with your own precious blood; you adopted me as your child.

You have raised me up and have placed your Spirit within me

so I can partner with you in bringing life and hope to others.

You are good, O Lord. You are good.

Shine your face upon me and help me to glorify you until I see you face to face.

Then I will rejoice and praise your name forever and ever.   © Laura Hum 2017

Homeschooling and the Winter Blahs

As a homeschooling mom, late winter is the time of year I dread the most. I’m usually okay until mid-January, then I often descend into this tired, touchy, wanting-to-hibernate state until the end of March. Then when spring arrives, I get that second wind to go on. It’s very predictable. It doesn’t help to be living in the Great White North where cold, snow, and gray skies wreak havoc with your emotional well-being!

Fortunately, the last several years have been considerably better for me. As I reflect on why that is, I’d like to share some things I have done that may help you as well.

  1. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be living in some warm, sunny location, you could probably benefit from Vitamin D supplements, especially during the winter. The ideal source of Vitamin D is through regular exposure to sunlight, but if that is impossible for you because of where you live, you will probably need supplements.
  2. Winter would be a good time to have a more relaxed schooling schedule. Let the children sleep in (within reason). Sleep in yourself if it makes you feel better. A rested mom is going to be a nicer mom 🙂 Plan your academics so that the more intensive study times happen earlier in the school year when you have more energy and enthusiasm. Leave more room for fun learning activities, reading books, or watching movies together.
  3. Take a walk outside every morning. If I can do it with the nasty weather we get here at times, you can, too! Enjoy the scenery; listen to the birds; take time to commune with God. It’s amazing how a short walk outside can lift your spirits! If you have little ones, take them with you, or plan some other outdoor activity with them such as tobogganing, playing in the snow, or going to the park.
  4. Plan for more days or weeks off in the winter. We start our academic year mid to late August, but then take time off throughout the school year. This is especially important in winter, when a break is needed the most!
  5. Start a fun personal project in January eg. learn to paint; start a blog; plan your summer vacation. Do something just for you, that you will enjoy. Carve out a time slot for this activity every day.
  6. If you’re living in a cold place, this would be a great time to take a vacation to somewhere warm if finances permit. It’s low travel season, so flights are not so expensive. You could plan your family vacation for the winter instead of the summer; better yet, plan a getaway for you and hubby if there is someone who can watch your children.
  7. Refrain from making any life-changing decisions if you are more emotionally vulnerable at this time of year. There have been many February’s in which I have wanted to give up homeschooling, but by April I had changed my mind 🙂
  8. Last but not least, take time to read your Bible and inspiring devotionals. Pray through the Psalms, read Streams in the Desert, or read the devotional book I wrote especially with homeschooling moms in mind (Stress-free Homeschooling: 31 Days to a Healthier Way of Thinking.)Win the battle against those negative thoughts by building yourself up with the Word of God!

What about you? Have you struggled with the winter blues? Has anything helped you cope?

The Secret to Happiness

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There are 3 brief but powerful commands in this short passage of scripture:

  1. rejoice (when? Always)
  2. pray (when? Continually)
  3. give thanks (when? In all circumstances)

I believe that these 3 commands are the keys to happiness.

What does it mean to rejoice?

It means to be cheerful or glad; to exult in something. We can rejoice in the Lord, in his presence with us, in his victory over evil, in our heavenly reward awaiting us, in the faith of others, etc. We are commanded to rejoice always, and we can do that, because regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, God doesn’t change. He is still loving, still forgiving, still powerful, still our Father. No one can steal our hope or our salvation from us. We are accepted in the beloved. We can rejoice always! We can choose to be glad/happy at all times because we have something to be happy about!!

But even as we have a heart attitude of rejoicing in the Lord, we live in a broken world. We suffer, and so do others. People lose their jobs; children rebel; spouses are unfaithful; unkind words are spoken. This is where the second command comes in: pray continually. Prayer is God’s provision for us to take our hurts and fears to the Lord and leave them in his loving hands. As we do that, our perspective changes from our pain to the Lord’s compassion. He’s the only one who can fix the mess that we find ourselves in. He’s the only one that can change the human heart. As we pray about everything, we are able to release those burdens to the Lord and experience rest and contentment in our souls.

The third command is the last, but not least. Why does the Lord command us to give thanks in all circumstances? Proverbs 15:15 says “All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” He wants us to be happy! He wants us bless us with an abundant life! But we need to have an attitude of gratitude in order to experience that happiness. If we have a victim mentality, a poor-little-me attitude, we’re going to be miserable. It’s so easy to focus on what we don’t have; what we want and are not getting at this moment; what our children are doing that is displeasing to us. But if we cultivate the habit of thanking the Lord for what we do have, and what he has already blessed us with, we are going to have a continual feast! Notice that the verse says to give thanks *in* all circumstances, not *for* all circumstances. If you’re going through a difficult trial, you may not be able to thank him for that trial, but there are still many blessings that you can thank him for in that trial!

Are you unhappy? Then ask the Lord to give you the grace to cultivate these disciplines of rejoicing, praying and giving thanks. But be patient; it’s definitely not an overnight process! As you practice these three keys to happiness, slowly but surely you will see your happiness quotient escalate!

5 Things I Wish I Had Understood When I Started Homeschooling

  1. I’m not the real teacher here.

I thought that I would be the teacher, my children would be the students, and my job would be to teach them using the curriculum that I had chosen. Sound reasonable, right? Little did I know that although that was my plan and expectation, I soon discovered that the Holy Spirit was the real teacher here, I was the primary student in the class, and the curriculum was much more encompassing than Math and Language studies; it was comprised of the trials of life! Passing tests did not involve memorizing facts; rather, it involved hanging on desperately to the Lord’s hand and his promises. Homeschooling is so much more than an information dump from mother to child; it is a character-building exercise for all involved! And yes, the children do learn some academics along the way 🙂

 

  1. I can’t control my children.

When they are little, we can live under the illusion that everything is under our control. We set the rules, and the children obey them (for the most part). We choose what they will learn, where they will go, who they will socialize with, etc. But as they get older, the heretofore neglected reality that our children are not simply extensions of ourselves starts to become apparent. Their personalities, desires, interests, and values may be quite different from ours. This can be quite threatening to a parent who thought that by homeschooling her child, she would be able to influence that child to become, believe, or behave according to some ideal that the parent had in mind. Certainly, we have a major influence on our children’s lives, but if we are homeschooling to produce a certain outcome, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

 

  1. My children are not limited by my lack of knowledge in any subject.

Some mothers disqualify themselves from homeschooling because they could never see themselves teaching math, or biology, or art. They are weak in these areas, and view that as a limitation for their children. I’ve discovered, though, that if you provide your children with some basic resources for learning, they will probably exceed your knowledge in that area of weakness. Perhaps they will end up teaching you! That was true 20 years ago, before we had the internet and all the limitless resources associated with it. How much more true is that today! There is no lack of ways to learn something that you don’t feel adequate teaching.

 

  1. It’s all about relationship.

Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your children that you would not have if they were being educated outside of the home. It’s an opportunity to discover what the Lord put in their hearts and to draw that out. It’s an opportunity to make memories together; learn together; play together; pray together. Homeschooling provides an environment in which to grow in loving God and others. When we began homeschooling in the 1990s, however, the prevailing mindset put too much emphasis on rules, discipline, standards, academics, etc. It was more about protecting our children from harmful influences, enforcing a moral code, and striving for academic excellence than having a fun, relaxing time learning together. Fortunately, that’s not the case today in many homeschool circles. There’s more of an emphasis on building a loving relationship with your children that supports their unique God-given passions.

 

  1. Neither my identity nor my self-worth is based on being a homeschool mom.

This one’s a biggie. As humans, we often equate our vocation with who we are. Then we measure our self-worth according to how successful we feel we have been in that vocation. I’m currently still homeschooling, but that’s not who I am. It is only what the Lord has called me to do for a season (albeit a long one!). I am the Lord’s beloved, a child of God, forgiven, restored, reconciled to Him. That’s my identity; not “homeschooling mom”. Furthermore, my self-worth does not depend on how “successful” I am in my present vocation, however you define that. Am I worth more if my children get straight A’s? If they love the Lord? If they have good social skills? No, I am precious to the Lord independent of my children’s choices or abilities. I am worthy because he loves me enough to lay down his life for me. If I peg my self-esteem on what my children do, I’m in for one emotional rollercoaster ride!!

 

What do you think? Can you relate to any of these?

The Story Behind Stress-free Homeschooling

There was a time with three young children to homeschool that I was feeling overwhelmed and depressed. Some days were better than others, but I just found myself under this dark cloud that I couldn’t seem to escape from. I decided to speak to my doctor about it, and he suggested anti-depressants. He sent me home with a video about anti-depressants to watch, and told me that if I wanted to go on them, he would prescribe them for me. I’m very reluctant to take any kind of medication, but I was desperate enough to consider them.

That day I was at the pharmacy and the Lord directed my attention to a rack of books. There was a secular self-help book written by a psychologist. I began to leaf through it, and as I did, the Lord spoke to my heart that he was going to use that book to bring me healing. I bought it, and as I read through it, the Lord started bringing to mind many verses that correlated with the principles in the book. I felt a surge of hope, and the Lord directed me to adapt a form of journaling mentioned in this book.

He showed me that the negative emotions I was experiencing were the result of believing the enemy’s lies. I learned to identify the specific untruth that was associated with a negative emotion at any one time, then counter it with the specific truth from the Bible that would defeat that negative thought. I began to journal the negative emotions I was experiencing, the specific lie that was at the source of that emotion, and the countering truth from God’s Word. I did this for several months. Each day I would review what I had written, focussing on the truths of God’s Word. I began to feel much better and never went on the anti-depressants.

Over the years, as I meditated on those truths and they began to take root in my soul, they gave me a peace and stability in my walk with the Lord. The following verse became my regular practice:

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

The Lord then prompted me to write this devotional book, which was the fruit of learning and meditating on the truths that were so key to my healing. My prayer is that others who struggle with depression/negative thinking will be helped as well!

Psalm 107:20 “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”