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 SimplyFun is Making Games Fun for Kids with Autism

If you have a child who would be considered “on the Spectrum”, you are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of homeschooling them.  Most homeschool resources are tailored for some other child – not yours – and you sometimes wonder if anyone out there understands what your homeschool day looks like…what your life looks like.

When SimplyFun contacted me about their Autism Initiative, I knew immediately I wanted to share what they were doing with all of you.

SimplyFun's Autism Initiative helps you choose games that capitalize on your Autistic child's strengths so you can play games the entire family can enjoy!

A lot of games aren’t particularly autism-friendly.  In fact, the idea of a Family Game Night can strike fear in the heart of a mom whose child has autism – no matter where they fall on the Spectrum.

SimplyFun wanted to change this.  They wanted to give you tools to help you choose games your ENTIRE family can enjoy!   They wanted to take the focus off what autistic children can’t do and find ways to capitalize on their strengths instead.

They gathered a team of experts to categorize many of their games by strengths autistic children may exhibit, so parents could find the right game for their child.

Click the Autism Tab on the description page of SimplyFun games to learn if the game is a good fit for your Autistic child.

The Autism tab on many of the SimplyFun game descriptions includes information on how the game might meet your child’s specific strengths and interests as well as information telling you if the game would need to be modified and how it fits with characteristics an autistic child might exhibit.  There is also a special Advanced Search to help you find the right game for your child by asking you a series of questions and then matching your needs to specific games!

SimplyFun wants to keep the fun in game-playing.  They want children to build their strengths and stretch their minds in new ways.  They want parents to feel like they are succeeding, and families to feel connected.

I’d encourage you to take a look at what SimplyFun has to offer.    Even if your child doesn’t have Autism, take a look around the site and find games that fit your family.  I’m a fan of their math-based games (probably because I’m not a fan of math, so playing a game makes math a lot more fun).  They have quite a few New Releases, and information on how you can join the SimplyFun team and get discounts on their games as a homeschool mom.

Kudos to SimplyFun for making learning fun for everyone!


Click here to see all the educational games SimplyFun has to offer!


The Blessing of Homeschooling – Serving Others

Earlier this year, I unexpectedly had to drive my oldest son to stay with my mom.  She had hurt her back and was having spasms down her leg.  She couldn’t sit or stand for very long and she had doctor’s orders not to drive.

My mom lives several hours away from us.  My father passed away 8 years ago.  My grandmother lives in the same town, but she’s 95.  Grandma and Mom call each other every morning, but my Grandma thought it would be best if someone came to stay with mom full time for a while.

A few weeks later, my mom needed my son to come again so he could take her to get her back operated on and help her for a few days afterward.  Having my son available to help was such a blessing to her, and something we could not have done without the blessing of homeschooling.

Homeschooling isn't just about education.  The blessing of homeschool extends well beyond scope and sequences.  First post in a series on the blessings of homeschooling. | RaisingArrows.net

This is the first post in a series on the blessings of homeschooling that reach far beyond the educational value.  In this post, we’ll talk about how homeschooling allows for opportunities to serve others.

Serving Extended Family and Friends

My oldest son (17) can now drive, and he is responsible enough to be entrusted with helping my mom with whatever she needs.  Because we homeschool, we have the flexibility to take care of our extended family whenever they need us.

This same son has been able to clean gutters, change light bulbs, and rake yards for his grandparents (and even their neighbors who have seen him working hard out in the yard and want their odd jobs done too!)  He has been told time and again how nice it is to have him to “lean on.”


As a side note, I want to mention that some homeschool families delay helping their children to get a driver’s license.   I would like to encourage you to allow your child to get a driver’s license as soon as they are of age, if they have proven themselves to be trustworthy and mature enough to handle that kind of responsibility.  You cannot always be available to your extended family members, but your children tend to have more flexibility (not to mention, energy!) to be at-the-ready to help out.


We have friends who use the flexibility of homeschooling to serve church family.  They are able to do things for older people in their church who are without the blessing of family nearby; therefore, becoming their extended family.

Serving Within the Community

There are many opportunities to serve within a community; however, few young people are involved in these opportunities unless they occur after school hours.  The blessing of homeschooling is that school can be put off until later so that daytime service can be done.

Serving within the community also exposes your children to a wealth of “networking” opportunities as they mingle with professionals and volunteers who are only available during business hours.

Serving Within Your Own Family

Homeschooling isn't just about education.  The blessing of homeschool extends well beyond scope and sequences.  First post in a series on the blessings of homeschooling. | RaisingArrows.net

More often than not, serving others begins in your own home.  Even if you are in a season where you cannot serve outside your home, you can start by teaching your children to cheerfully serve the people in their family.  This will naturally flow into serving others once your children are old enough or capable enough to serve beyond their own four walls.

Praise your children when they do something for others.  Encourage them to look for ways to bless others.  And don’t forget to watch your own attitude toward serving others!

Live an open-handed homeschool life!

So, how has homeschooling helped you serve others?  Share your stories in the comments section!

Homeschooling Made Simple – A Wonderful New Series!

(affiliate links included)

Recently, I wrote about homeschool information overload, and how hard it is to sort through all the homeschooling information out there.  You really can get lost!  When I found out Compass Classroom was releasing a series called Homeschool Made Simple, I was intrigued, but super skeptical.  There was no way I was going to share anything with all of you that was only going to ADD to your homeschool stress.

I asked if I could take a look at the videos before they were released, and they graciously agreed.  I am so thankful I did this, and thankful they allowed me the opportunity!  I am VERY pleased with what I saw, and am excited to be able to introduce you to it!

Homeschool Made Simple Series from Compass Classroom | RaisingArrows.netOrder Homeschool Made Simple for only $19.99 this week!
(April 8-15, 2015)

Homeschool Made Simple is hosted by Carole Joy Seid, a homeschool mom who has been helping families work through the logistics of homeschooling for nearly 30 years.  The set contains 6 workshops on how to keep a simple literature-based homeschool using your Bible and a library card (with a smattering of other resources thrown in).  Yes – it really IS that simple!

You can purchase the set as a download (the way I watched them) or as a DVD series.  Here’s a quick Introduction video you can watch to give you an overview of Homeschool Made Simple:


(If you are reading via email and can’t see the video, go to my blog via this link and watch it in the post.)

I literally devoured these workshops!  Many things Carole said resonated with my soul.  Her heart for homeschooling is very much in step with mine.  I also learned a lot (yes, you CAN learn something new even after homeschooling for 12 years!).  She had a fabulous idea for a survey of world history, and I loved her thoughts on math.

The only caveat I have is that she recommends specific curricula.  It’s only about 3 different times she mentions specifics, and while I’m sure it will be helpful for some people, I also know there are homeschool moms out there who might hear her suggestions and think they need to replace what is working for them with Carole’s suggestions – just in case they aren’t doing it “right”.  However, I do not think this small personal issue of mine is worth scrapping all the wonderful information Carole shares in these workshops.

Homeschool Made Simple addresses both small and large families and their unique circumstances.  She gives extremely practical, doable advice that is spot on.  Everything is presented from a Biblical worldview and is centered around discipleship of your children.  This series is what I would recommend to any mother struggling with burnout.  I’d also recommend this to new homeschoolers to give them a solid start without a lot of extras.  And I know I will be watching Homeschool Made Simple over and over again because it refreshed my soul.  I came away from the time I spent watching the videos feeling so relaxed and calm about our homeschool day.  I am very thankful Compass Classroom decided to produce these videos.  They are a tremendous asset to the homeschooling community.

If you’ve never heard of Compass Classroom, I highly recommend you check them out.  We own their Economics class (taught by R.C. Sproul, Jr.) and Modern Parables (you can read my review of it HERE), and their Visual Latin program has garnered rave reviews.  They have history, Bible, logic, Greek, and so much more!  It’s been fun to watch their company grow, and everything they have added to their site has been thoughtful, Biblical, and very easy to use.

Right now, they are having a Big Spring Sale April 8th-15th!  Homeschool Made Simple is only $19.99 and all of their other titles are also deeply discounted!  (After the sale, Homeschool Made Simple will be at the introductory price of $29 until the end of April.)

If you end up buying this series, I would love if you would come back and comment on this post and let me know some of the things you enjoyed about the workshops.  And if you know a homeschool mom (young or old) who could use some encouragement, snag a copy for her!  It will be such a blessing to both of you!

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE & ORDER

Making Lunch Easy

It only took me 12 years of homeschooling and 9 kids to figure out how to make lunch easy.

Gah!  Why did I wait so long?

I finally figured out how to make lunch easy! | RaisingArrows.net

To be completely honest with you, what finally forced me to simplify our lunches was this new job/new house/new baby thing that all took place right around the holidays.  We did just about every major life change all in a matter of 6 weeks!  Go big or go home!

I was really struggling after Aspen’s birth (that’s another post) and needed to make life as simple as I could until I was back on my feet and fully present.  I made a list of all the things that were causing me stress, and one weekend I took some time away to pray and work through as many things on that list as I could.

Lunch was on that list, and the solution came in the form of 3 S’s:

Soup ~ Salad ~ Sandwiches

Make Lunch Easy with the 3's - Soup, Salad, Sandwiches | RaisingArrows.net

Soup

Last week, I told you about our Kitchen Sink Soup.  This is our go-to soup.  We make it a couple of times a week to finish off any random leftovers in the refrigerator.  I don’t really plan any soups besides this one.  When I originally made the 3S Plan, I was going to add in some “original” soups as well, but implementing that proved to be more work than I cared to do.

I try to keep a loaf of bread on hand to go with our soup.  I prefer it to be homemade, but will often grab some sort of specialty loaf from Aldi just in case I don’t get around to making something.  Sourdough or French bread are favorites here, as well as our homemade whole wheat buns.

Salad

Before I had Aspen, I ate salad almost every day for lunch, but rarely had the kids eat it.  Now, if I’m eating it, so are they!  The two salads we make most often are Taco Salad and Chicken Fajita Salad.  For the Fajita Salad, I buy chicken fajita strips at Aldi in the freezer case, warm them up and throw them in with salad greens and cheese.  Corn chips add filler to both of these salads.

Sandwiches

Because I need things to be as simple as possible, I purchase a couple of loaves of bread a week and keep sliced cheese and deli meat, peanut butter and jelly on hand at all times (although, I’ve never eaten a peanut butter & jelly sandwich myself, most of my kids like it).  If we have homemade bread, great, but if not, I know we can still throw together sandwiches with the store-bought loaves.  We will have the occasional deviation from these two types of sandwiches with something like my son’s fried egg sandwiches or my daughter’s grilled cheese or bagel sandwiches, but that is fairly rare.

This plan makes shopping for lunches super simple too!  My weekly list will always have these things on it:

Chicken broth
Shredded Cheese
Salad greens
Fajita Chicken
Chili Beans
Corn Chips
Peanut Butter
Jelly
Deli Meat & Cheese
Bread

I keep us stocked with those items so I always have what I need to make lunch easy!

**Huge sigh of relief!**

How have you simplified lunch at your house?  Or maybe you’ve learned to simplify another meal.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Easy Homeschool Lunch – Kitchen Sink Soup

Some of you are going to laugh.  Some of you are going to wonder if I’ve lost my mind.  Kitchen Sink Soup?  That does not sound delicious…

Kitchen Sink Soup - because it includes everything BUT the kitchen sink! This is a grab and go lunch - video included!  (and yes, I should have named it something else, but this is what we call it - weird as it is!) | RaisingArrows.net

I seriously thought I ought to call this soup something else.  Something more…um…appealing?  But, for some reason this is what we started calling this pull-everything-out-of-the-refrigerator-and-stick-it-in-a-pot concoction, and well, if I were to name it anything else, I wouldn’t be true to the weirdness that is our family.  (Please tell me you have weird names for stuff too!)

The whole idea for Kitchen Sink Soup came about as a result of my needing to revamp homeschool lunches into something SUPER EASY.  Next week, I plan to share the full plan with you, but suffice it to say it has been a lifesaver!

So, what is Kitchen Sink Soup?  It’s everything but the kitchen sink!

Come on in to my kitchen and see what I mean…
(not seeing the video?  Click HERE!)

Kitchen Sink Soup is basically a soup made from your leftovers with a few add-ins to make it extra yummy!  Have a little leftover hamburger?  Throw it in there!  Have a few leftover veggies?  Throw them in there!  Have a can of beans or black olives?  Throw those in there too!  Add some broth or milk, some spices and cheese and you have a nutritious homeschool lunch that can simmer on the stove while you teach your little ones.

We have Kitchen Sink Soup a couple times a week to finish off any leftovers we’ve become tired of eating on.  I get quite a sense of satisfaction knowing I’m not throwing out leftovers, but reinventing them into something different and yummy!

In the video above, you’ll see how I make the soup, plus a short list of some add-in ideas.  You’ll also see me without makeup and my hair pulled up in my usual “mom-has-work-to-do hairdo.”  Try throwing together your own Kitchen Sink Soup – actually, why don’t you call it something else so no one will look at you funny the way they do when I tell them what we had for lunch – then, come back here and tell me what you put in it, as I’d love to have some new ideas for my soup!

***Read more about my easy lunch plan!***