About Amy

Amy is the homeschooling mother of 8 living children and 1 precious little girl playing at the feet of Jesus. Raising Arrows is where you find years of homeschooling and home management knowledge, as well as grief support for those who have lost a loved one. You can find Amy on

This is Supposed to Be Hard Work

You’ve seen them…the advertisements touting how this diet will make the pounds melt off of you, or this product will make your housework feel like a walk in the park, or this method will be the answer to all your problems.  The prospect of this sort of thing is exciting, tempting, and…destructive.

SELF-destructive, to be exact.

You see, we all want easy street.  We all want the most efficient, fastest, easiest way from Point A to Point B.  If our map app can do it, surely we can do it in our every day lives.  But, when there is a detour, a roadblock, or even a stop sign in the middle of it all, we get irritated.  We get discontent.  We get depressed.

And we are pretty certain WE are the ones who failed because after all…

It was supposed to be EASY!

What would happen if we embraced the fact that some things are hard? | RaisingArrows.net

I homeschool.  I have a large family.  I have a 2 year old.  I have a newborn.  I have a lot of laundry.  I have 20 extra pounds.  I…

Good grief!  The list could go on and on and on. “I” this and “I” that.  Can’t “I” get a break?

But, what if “I” embraced the fact that this stuff is hard?

Homeschooling?  It’s hard.

Raising a lot of kids?  Yep, it’s hard too.

My 2 year old?  Oh my yes!  Hard!

My newborn?  Naw, she’s an easy keeper.

Aspen 4 months

The laundry?  Hard.

Losing the extra 20 pounds?  HARD!

When you accept that some things are hard, some things you have to WORK at, some things aren’t going to be easy, your outlook on life completely changes.  You don’t see the roadblocks and stop signs, twists and turns in the road, detours and potholes as obstacles designed to undermine your perfect life.  You don’t see homeschooling as the problem, the toddler as the problem, or even the 20 pounds as the problem.  You see things for what they are…WORK.  And yes, sometimes HARD WORK.

When homeschooling my large family becomes difficult – and it does – that doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong or I should throw in the towel.  It may mean I need to slow down, try something new, or simply PERSEVERE.

When raising my large family feels overwhelming, especially cooking for them and putting out all the fires my 2 year old creates, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have had all these kids.  It may mean I’m in a difficult season, and prayer is the only thing that is going to get me through.

When the laundry is piled to the ceiling or piled on the couch, it doesn’t mean I have too many clothes (Mom 😉 ).  It may mean I need to revamp my laundry system, put away the seasonal clothes, or keep a better eye on the kids and how often they are changing clothes (ahem…you know who you are…).  And when that’s all done, just make peace with the fact that there are 10 of us wearing clothes, using towels, and sleeping on sheets every single day.  The laundry will NEVER be caught up.

And that 20 pounds?  It isn’t going to melt off of me.  I will have to WORK at it.  I will have to have self control.  I will have to say no to dessert and yes to exercise.  I will have to accept that there is no gimmick or pill or super awesome diet that will rid me of my gluttony.  That’s between me and the Lord.

Folks, this life is supposed to be hard work.  Always looking for easy street will only lead to dead ends.  You will never be joyful or content.  You will miss the beauty of the journey, the lessons to be learned, the freedom of surrender.  Work hard, my friends.  Stay strong.  Be diligent.

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Philippians 2:12b-13

Read the entire chapter…so, so good!  I’m praying for all of you this week!

Teens and Money – Transitioning from Childhood to Adulthood Finances

Several years ago, I wrote a post about how we handle money with our children.  I spelled out our philosophy on allowances, paying for chores, and what jobs our children could do for extra pay.  At the time, our oldest was 13, and while the principles have stayed the same, the practice has change a bit now that he is advancing quickly toward adulthood.  I thought it might be a good time to offer a new perspective on money as it concerns the teenagers in our home.

(You can read that original post HERE.)

Learn how to make the transition from childhood finances to adulthood with your teen | RaisingArrows.net

Teens and Allowances

I mentioned in my Children and Chores post that we do not pay for chores and we do not give our children an allowance.  This continues into their teens.  The principle behind this is the fact that in adulthood, there are responsibilities a person has toward the upkeep and running of a household that is not a paid job.  Our goal is to teach our children to take care of those responsibilities without needing to be paid or praised for them.  It is simply something that is expected.  Our society no longer places value on a job well done for the sake of doing a job well done.  Too many people expect accolades for their effort, and too many people feel a responsibility that lacks excitement and financial gain isn’t worth their time.  I do not want my children to follow this tide.

I also want to add that I do understand the reasoning behind giving teens an allowance in order to teach money management; however, I do not believe unearned money is the best way to do this.  When the money is simply handed to you, you have no real connection to that money, so the concept of money management doesn’t have the impact it has when it is money earned by the teen.  But, how do they earn money if not by allowance?

Teens and Income Within the Family

Way teens can earn money, as well as money management tips as they move into adulthood | RaisingArrows.net

As I mentioned in the previous post on this topic, we pay for jobs that are “above and beyond” the expected.  For instance, we do not pay for babysitting when one of us needs to run to the store, but we will pay for babysitting if we need to be gone for several hours.  This is something we would have to pay someone else to do if it weren’t done by our teenagers.  Same goes for detailing the vehicle or major handyman jobs.

We also allow grandparents to pay a fair wage when the children go to help with a big project.  We encourage our children to serve their extended family, but we also know that the grandparents would rather pay our children than have to hire the work done outside the family.

Because this money is earned, it is more useful for teaching money management.  More on that in a moment…

Teens & Jobs Outside the Home

Many teenagers like to get jobs outside the home to have some spending money of their own.  There area two sides to this coin that need to be considered carefully before diving headlong into an outside job.

On one side, a job teaches responsibility to someone other than a parent, as well as teaching time management.  Both of these are very valuable lessons.

On the flip side, is the fact that an outside job (unless it is very flexible) has the tendency to separate the family and create a lot of scheduling chaos.  In the last city we lived in, our son had a very flexible job as a trapper at a sporting clays lodge.  This allowed us to take family vacations, work around his schooling, and not be beholden to his job.  Since the move, we have encouraged him to wait on taking a job, and not take just any job.  While we do not want to teach him that certain jobs are “beneath him” or that it is better to do nothing than take a job that isn’t “perfect”, we also know he has the rest of his life to work, and only another year or so to be fully a part of all family activities.  Because of this, we have been praying for another flexible job that would give him some outside money while allowing him to participate in family activities.  (He already has something in the works, but I don’t want to jump the gun telling you about it until we see how it pans out. 😉 )

Another thing we encourage when it comes to working an outside job, is looking for a job that will teach or further a skill.  While flipping hamburgers is definitely a job that will make your teen some spending cash, it is not always a job that will teach him or her a needed skill or hone a skill they already possess.  A good example of this is the sporting clays job.  While Blake has no desire to spend his life throwing skeet, he would like to own his own business some day.  The lodge he worked at was owned by a family who were more than willing to teach him the ins and outs of owning a business.  He was also exposed to all the people with varying careers who came to shoot.  In between stands, he was able to chit chat with them, exchange business cards (we highly recommend your teen considers having business cards made up for networking purposes), and learn more about their vocation and businesses.  He always came home from work with great information and stories.

Teens & Money Management

How you choose to teach money management is a matter of personal preference.  My son decided to use the 80-10-10 method (80% spending, 10% savings, 10% tithe) for his finances, but more often than not, he ends up putting even more into savings.

When I was a teen, I used mason jars to separate out my money.  I had 4 jars:

  • 1 – Savings
  • 2 – Miscellaneous Spending
  • 3 – Tithe
  • 4 – Specific Savings (This is how I saved up money to have my pickup windows tinted.)

You can use the envelope method.  You can actually open checking and savings accounts in your teen’s name.  You can even do some investing if you so choose.

Speaking of investing – if your son or daughter has a talent or skill that has the potential to be an income generator, consider investing in their “business” the way you would invest in a college fund.  For instance, our daughter is a budding photographer.  She’s good at what she does and she’s serious about it.  Because of this, we’ve chosen to help purchase photography supplies and lenses, and helped her start up a more professional website.  (We usually offer half the money she needs for something.)

We also invest in our children by sometimes “paying” them in other ways.  For instance, our daughter chose several years ago to sponsor a Compassion Child.  The photography work she does on this blog and for our family pays for that sponsorship.  Likewise, we have compensated our son for major jobs by paying his way to an event he’s really wanting to participate in that would be money out of his pocket otherwise (like TeenPact National Convention or pheasant hunting in South Dakota).

Compensate your teens for major jobs by paying their way to events and outings they are interested in, but would have to pay out of pocket for. | RaisingArrows.net

Items we regularly require our teenagers to pay include, but are not limited to, the following:

Travel expenses to events they want to go to – this teaches them not to take transportation and food for granted, and not to order the steak when the hamburger will do.

Extra tools and clothing for their job –  A pair of gloves, a pair of jeans, a pair of boots – these are things we are willing to fund fully, or at least half, but extra items that are wants and not needs are paid for by our teen.  For instance, when he worked at the shooting lodge, he decided he’d like to have a pick stick to pick up shotgun shells several at a time.  He found the one he wanted and purchased it with his own money.

This would also be our policy if our children played sports.  We will pay for the basics, they are in charge of anything extra – including an upgrade on shoes from the very basic of models.

“Toys” & Entertainment – Even big kids have toys, and those toys (unless they are gifts for birthdays or Christmas) are not funded by mom and dad.  My son airsofts.  Your child may like video games or sports or certain collectibles.  As adults, we are expected to fund our own entertainment.  The sooner a teenager learns that, the better off they will be.  They won’t grow to expect others to carry the responsibility of paying for their unnecessary items.

This brings me to the final point of this post.  Our teens are expected to be responsible with their money and their time.  As they age, they are given more and more privileges, leeway, and choices.  About 6 months ago, we gave our son nearly total control of his finances.  This past week, we gave him nearly total control of his schedule.  He is a man.  He’s proven this time and again, so it was time for us to let go.  As long as he lives under our roof, we have some control over his finances and time, but that control is nominal.  We are here to lend advice and ideas as needed, but we are transitioning away from planning every aspect of his life and into a new season where he plans his present and prepares for his future.

How do you handle money with your children – especially your teens?  Have you found the transition to be difficult?  What are your goals when it comes to teaching your children money management?  Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section!

The Blessing of Homeschooling – Traveling

In my previous post, I wrote about how homeschooling gives you the opportunity to serve others in a way that would be difficult to do if your family was not homeschooling.  This post, I want to focus on something a bit more selfish.
Another blessing of homeschooling is being able to travel in off-season, travel with daddy for business and pleasure, and go places you would not otherwise be able to go! | RaisingArrows.net

The first time I really noticed how homeschooling allowed us to travel was on our vacation to the Black Hills in South Dakota in 2007.  We had 5 children under the age of 10.  We were able to stay in a wonderful cabin that was half the price it would have been in season because we were able to go in October.

Homeschooling allowed us many opportunities to save money on travel because we could go in the off-season | RaisingArrows.netThere were no lines to see the sights.  The scenery was gorgeous!  We have precious memories of spending time with our little Emily and the rest of the children.

And we realized we could never have done this if we hadn’t been homeschooling.

Off-Season Travel

As with our South Dakota trip, we quickly learned that traveling in the off-season was the way to go.  This is especially true when you have a lot of children, as it makes the trip MUCH cheaper.

Off-season usually runs from October – March, but depending on WHERE you are vacationing, it might be September – April.  (This is, of course, in the United States. 😉 )  When you look for places to stay, try something outside the traditional hotel room.  For instance, Google: Black Hills South Dakota Rental Cabins.  You will find some great places to choose from that often offer a kitchen and living area as well…saving you even more since you can bring your own food and save on eating out.  Here is the cabin we stayed in: Calamity Peak Lodge.

Homeschooling allows you to travel off-season and get great deals on accommodations | RaisingArrows.net(Melia, Emily, Megan at Calamity Peaks)

We also noticed our children end up getting a GREAT education everywhere we go when we travel off-season.  Because the docents at museums are not as busy in the off-season, they are more than willing to give your family a bang-up tour, complete with extras!  Be sure you encourage super-charged manners in your children, and thank the docents profusely for their kindness.

Travel with Daddy on Business

Because we homeschool, we’ve been able to go on business trips with Daddy that would not have been possible otherwise.  Not every family has the privilege of Daddy having a job that allows the family to tag along, but if you do, homeschooling is of great benefit.  Most of our travels with daddy involve day trips, but sometimes we can go on even longer trips because school can come with us!

Travel with Grandparents

My older two children have both been able to go on trips with their grandmother that would never have happened if they were in traditional school.  These trips have been full of memories and fun.  I know neither my children nor my mom would trade those memories for anything!

Travel on Mission Trips & Other Kingdom Opportunities

We have not yet been able to go on a mission trip, but we have been able to do things like help with disaster relief and travel other places we are needed.  I love that we have the ability to serve God in our travels!

Other traveling posts you might be interested in:

Posts in The Blessings of Homeschooling Series:
Serving Others
Traveling

Last Day to Get the Best Homemaking Resources of the Year!

This sale is over.

Well, this is it…the last day of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

I was asked on my Facebook page if I really thought this bundle was worth the money.  I absolutely do – and I’m not just saying that because my ebook is in there!  Here are a few reasons why I feel this is money well-spent:

1.  It is NOT the same bundle as last year or the year before.  These bundles NEVER repeat.  This is FRESH content.  So, if you’ve purchased in the past, you are not getting repeat products.

2.  You couldn’t get ONE of the eCourses, let alone ALL of the eCourses for this price.  I told you before that the eCourses are my favorite part of this year’s bundle.  I maybe could have purchased one of the courses, but all 10?  Not a chance!  Here’s the list of those eCourses, so you can see for yourself how awesome they are:

  • The Healthy Home – an eCourse about using natural remedies and resources that are proven to work in your home environment.  You will learn so much without having to wade through a bunch of mumbo-jumbo!
  • Grocery University – A super well-done audio course on how to get started couponing.  I’ve owned this course for years and highly recommend it!
  • Homemaking from Scratch Online Conference – I had wanted to sign up for this when it first happened and then didn’t.  I am SO glad I now own it!  Great and godly information from some of the web’s most wonderful homemaking bloggers.
  • Living a Legacy Conference – I have not had time to listen to this yet, but with people like Kathy Brodock and Kelly Crawford, I am certain it is going to be good!
  • A Parent’s Guide to Natural Remedies – I just got started working through this and LOVE it!  It is a fantastic resource for treating childhood illnesses with natural solutions!
  • Happy Mom, Healthy Family Meal Planning Workshop & Cookbook
  • Marriage, Intimacy, & Sex:  Moving from Blah to Blazing in the Bedroom
  • (De)Clutter Buddies
  • 21 Days Savings Challenge
  • 14 Days to a Better Neck (from Fit2B Studio)

3.  The bundle contains over $1200 in product + $300 in bonuses and is less than $30!  Plus, the people who put this bundle together are Christian families who truly have your best interests in mind.  They have been wonderful to work with, and have proven themselves to be trustworthy and above reproach time and again.

 

I made the goal of selling enough bundles to be able to purchase a new laptop for my oldest daughter who does most of the photography for this blog.  (You can see some of her lovely work on her brand new blog, Diverse Reflections.)  I am REALLY close to making that goal, and I thank all of you who have purchased or will purchase today using my link!

If you have questions about any of the books or products, click HERE or feel free to ask me, but don’t delay – It all ends tonight at 11:59 pm Eastern!

 

The Mission Field in Your Home

One thing I often hear from stay at home moms is that they feel they aren’t reaching out with the Gospel of Christ.  They are so busy running a household, they have time for little else.  (Remember my post on What You Need to Know About Being a Mom Many Littles?)  These woman want to be spreading God’s Word, but they can’t find the time, the energy, or the babysitter.  I’ve even known some women who gave up homemaking and homeschooling in order to make a greater impact on their community for Christ.

What these mamas are missing is the mission field right in their very homes!

The Mission Field In Your Home - "Living and Ordinary Life in the Name of an Extraordinary Savior" | RaisingArrows.net

Before you hang up on me because I’m being trite, please listen to these words written to me in an email by a Saladmaster Cookware representative who visited our home last week:

“Your family is truly amazing and I felt I was on very sacred ground being in your home.  I am in homes all the time and see interaction in all sorts of wonderful families but have to say, yours is a real stand-out!  I consider it a privilege to have been among you.”

That blew me away.  Sure we get comments as we are walking down the aisles of the grocery store or in restaurants, but to have someone who had been around us for more than 10 minutes give such an amazing testimony to the Light of Christ IN OUR HOME blessed my busy homemaking/homeschooling mama heart!

My children as a mission field.

The Mission Field in your Own Home - don't miss it! | RaisingArrows.net

My mission field has always been my home.  I care for children all day long, doing my very imperfect best to instill the Gospel of Christ in them.  My intent is to raise them as arrows for the Lord to one day be shot out from our home and carry the Gospel with them.  Thus, the name of this blog – Raising Arrows.

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.”
~Psalm 127:3-4

Often, a mother of young children won’t see the fruit of her labor until much later, giving her the impression she’s not really reaching anyone.  However, a funeral we recently attended gave me insight into what a faithful following looks like at the end of the race…

The gentleman who was being remembered died at 93.  Although he was raised in the church, he did not become a true Christ follower until he was 40.  By that point, he had been married quite some time and had 4 children, but it changed his outlook and attitude dramatically.  However, he lived his life as an ordinary man, doing ordinary things; the difference was that he now did it for and in the name of Jesus.  Because of this, his impact on his world was EXTRAORDINARY.

All 4 of his children are believers, as well as most of their family and extended family.  All of them spoke highly of him and how he ministered to them as a family.  His work in the community was done in the capacity of his various jobs, and he was well-loved by those who knew him.

Once, he counseled Ty not to worry about taking the “right” job, but to do something he enjoyed and work for the Lord there.  He did a lot of work in the church, but again, it was done in the capacity of the gifts and realm of influence the Lord had already placed in his life.

Visitors as my mission field.

The day the Saladmaster representative came to cook us dinner, we all pitched in and cleaned the house.  That was the only thing I did to prepare.  In fact, I’m pretty sure half of my boys had on jeans with holes in the knees.  I had to leave the kitchen several times to change diapers, my 4 year old kept playing with one of the pans, and my 2 year old took off with the 1 pound fat glob the guy brought as a visual to explain how to cook healthy meals.  Perfect it was not.

But, it didn’t need to be perfect.  It just needed to be authentic.

Being a missionary is easier than you thought.

The Mission Field is your own Home - RaisingArrows.netBeing a missionary is a calling all Christians have and it has very little to do with your training or your location.  As a mama, it is about being authentic with everyone you come in contact with from your husband to your children to the mailman to the Saladmaster representative. It isn’t about saying the right thing or looking a certain way.  It isn’t about being the perfect hostess or reaching the most people.  It is about living an ordinary life, doing ordinary things in the name of an extraordinary Savior!

Your life, your home, your testimony - it doesn't have to be extraordinary to reach others with the Gospel! | RaisingArrows.net

So, next time you are tempted to believe you aren’t really doing the Lord’s work, or what you are doing is much too insignificant, remember WHO is doing the work.  It isn’t you.  This isn’t about you.  Be faithful where you are.  The Lord didn’t accidentally give you these children or this life.  It was planned with a purpose.  Work where you are FOR HIM, and let Him do the rest.

How to Make the Most of a Day Out with Your Husband

This coming week, Ty and I will be going to a homeschool conference and a wedding.  Most of our “dates” are like this.  We have something we need to do, some place we need to be, and THAT is our “date”.  I’ve learned over the years to make the most out of these days out and about.  I hope this post will encourage you to do the same!

Sometimes the only "dates" you get with your husband are days you have some place to be.  Learn to make the most of them! | RaisingArrows.net

Get dolled up.

One of my favorite parts of being able to go out somewhere with Ty is being able to do my hair and makeup and wear something nice.

Sometimes the only "dates" you get with your husband are days you have some place to be.  Learn to make the most of them! | RaisingArrows.net

(In the photo above, I’m wearing my scarf from Deborah & Co. – isn’t it pretty?!)

My best piece of advice is to save some favorite outfits for those days out.  Experiment with hairstyles that compliment your face.  Enjoy looking nice for your husband!

Enjoy the fresh air.

In the photo above, Ty, Aspen and I were sitting outside eating at Chipotle.  I’ve always found that a day out with Ty is even nicer if we are able to get outside.  Walking, eating, just breathing – it’s all wonderful!

Take photos.

Make the day special by taking a photo!  Even a selfie (or rather, usie) on your phone is a great way to commemorate even the most mundane of events, making them something special.  I like to post my photos to Instagram (amyarrows is my username there if you’d like to follow me) or to my Facebook page.

Sometimes the only "dates" you get with your husband are days you have some place to be.  Learn to make the most of them! | RaisingArrows.net

(This photo was taken on Ty’s phone about a week after Aspen’s birth when he and I went out for coffee.)

Hold hands.

I remember being a kid and seeing my parents hold hands.  It was sort of embarrassing, but at the same time, reassuring.  There is just something lovely about holding hands with your spouse.  Do it often!

Be grateful for the time you have.

So often, we are not grateful for the time we have with our husbands even when it is “just a doctor’s appointment” or “just a shopping trip.”  Purposefully be thankful.  Appreciate the time.  Be sure to tell your husband you are enjoying your time together.  Do your very best not to bring up troubling issues between you.  This isn’t the time.

I’d love to hear how you make the most of your time with your husband!

Looking for some frugal date ideas?  Check out my post Frugal Date Nights.