Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Joy

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

Today is the last day of our series entitled Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool. I hate to see it some to an end because I could spend many more days praying with you over our precious ones at home with us. There is nothing more important that we can do for our children than to pray for them. And as I said in day 1 of this series, I know that I wouldn’t have made it through those first few years without the sustaining power of God. I feel like we kinda made it on a wing and a prayer. Without His encouragement and clear direction, I would have given up and sent everybody off to school. However, He did sustain us, we didn’t kill each other, and we even had many many moments of pure joy.

Since joy didn’t happen naturally in those first few years of homeschooling my children, I had to make it a priority. I had to be purposeful about praying for joy and be intentional about creating times of joy for us. Since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, I knew I needed to abide in the Spirit more so that He could do His work in me in this area. Focusing on joy paid off for us, and I can say that homeschooling my children has been an absolute JOY for six years. It has been one of the biggest blessings of my life to be able to educate my girls at home. And I thank God for restoring that joy when it was lost. Using Galatians 5:22 and Psalm 16:11 as our guide, we can pray, “Father, thank you that Your will for us is JOY. Thank you that You want us to experience fun in our homeschool and in our life. Thank you that we don’t have to settle for boring and dull, but that You love for us to enjoy Your work and Your creation. Lord, the fruit of Your Spirit is joy. Fill us with Your Spirit and help us to abide there, so that our joy might be complete in You. Fill us with joy in Your presence.”

Aren’t we grateful that we serve a God who is a source of joy? Let’s have fun in our home schools this year, friends!

If you missed days 1-4 of this series, you can go back and read about praying about wisdom, unity, attack, and health. If you’d like to ready other 5 Days Hopscotch posts on iHomeschoolNetwork.com, please click here.

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Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Health

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

We all have preconceived ideas about what our homes will be like when we homeschool. One of my faulty lines of thinking was that since we weren’t around hundreds of school children everyday, we’d avoid most of the sicknesses that blaze through schools. Ha! Little did I know that we’d pick up every germ, bug, and virus that came along in the first couple of years. I’ll admit, it was pretty disheartening to catch every little illness. We felt like we couldn’t establish a regular routine in our homeschool, because we were constantly having to take a few days off. But as I began to pray for our health and safety, it seemed that we’d go longer and longer between illnesses. We were finally able to establish a daily routine for our homeschool. It felt really good to be in our groove.

The Lord is gracious and longs to give good gifts like health to His children. Does that mean that we can always avoid sickness? No. Does it mean that if a family experiences a lot of illness, they aren’t praying about their wellness enough? Absolutely not. God is sovereign and He alone chooses how He acts. However, often times the Enemy of our soul wants us to believe that sickness has to be commonplace. He wants us to believe that our prayers for health are ineffective. Can I encourage you today to use Psalm 91 and Isaiah 53 as guides as you pray in power for the health and safety of your family? “Precious Lord, how grateful we are that You love us enough to care about our health. You want us to prosper and be in good health, according to Your word. You were pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. The punishment You took for us brought us peace, and by Your wounds WE ARE HEALED. Lord, You alone are our refuge and our fortress, and we trust in You. You save us from the fowler’s snare and from deadly pestilence. You cover us with Your feathers. Though a thousand may fall at our side, ten thousand at our right hand, no disaster will befall us. Thank you, Lord, for Your strong watch care over our bodies. Thank you that Your word is more powerful than the tricks of the Enemy. Grant us continued good health that we may serve You in our homeschool and in life.”

Aren’t you glad that we serve a God who is stronger than germs and more powerful than viruses? He maintains our good health, and we owe Him a debt of gratitude for it.

If you’re new to this series, you can click through to our posts about wisdom, unity, and attacks from the Enemy.

If you’d like to take a look at the other 5 Days Hopscotch series, please click here.

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Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Attack

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

Welcome back to Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool. In day 1 we discovered how to ask for God’s wisdom as we make decisions about educating our children. In day 2 we discussed having unity in our homes, both among our children and with our spouse in the area of homeschooling. Today we’ll look at how to cover our home schools in prayer when Satan tries to attack.

Anytime we are walking in the ways of God, the Enemy wants to throw us off. He will try to use confusion, insecurity, defeat, distraction, and all kinds of other methods to get our eyes off of God’s call. Our home schools are no exception. Satan will attack our home schools just as he attacks any other good plan of God in our lives. And while God has given us the tools to defeat Satan, he does still wage war against us and we do have to fight him off. We can use Ephesians 6:11-17 to pray against the attacks the Enemy will form against us in the area of our home schools. “Father, we choose this day to put on the full armor You have given us to take our stand against the attacks of Satan. You have given us power over him, and we wield that power against his plans for destruction. We know we don’t war against each other, but against the plans he has schemed against us. We put on the belt of Your truth, knowing that it is the ONLY truth. We do not believe the father of lies who tells us that we cannot live up to Your calling. We put on the breastplate of righteousness. We know that because of our sin, we are unrighteous. But because of the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us, we take on His righteousness. We stand before you wearing his atonement, substituting His death for our punishment, knowing full well that He now holds our hearts. Lord, we shod our feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace. You have anointed us to use every situation to spread the reconciling peace of Your gospel with everyone, in our homeschool and beyond. Jesus, our faith is in You. This includes the faith that You have the power and the authority to redeem us. We take up the shield of that faith to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. Our authority to fight against him comes from You, and in Your Name we command him to flee from our home. We put on the helmet of salvation. Your salvation covers us today as we fight the Enemy. And lastly, we keep our sword of the Spirit ready, the Word of God. We have studied it and stored it up in our hearts. Call it to mind today as we use it to fight against the attacks and lies of the Deceiver. Help us to trust what You say in Your word more than what the Enemy tries to convince us of. Lord, having done all this, we stand. We stand against evil because we stand with YOU.”

When we expect attacks from Satan on our homeschool, we will see them clearly and be able to address them quickly through prayer. Those days that we are consumed by doubt, fear, and insecurity, we can quickly turn to God and put on our full armor to stand against the Enemy.

To see more 5 Day Hopscotch posts, please click here.

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Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Unity

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

Welcome to day 2 of Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool As a veteran homeschooling mom, I know how much God has led our decisions about homeschooling. He has given us the wisdom and vision to walk out His call to homeschool our girls. He has also empowered us to have a sense of unity about homeschooling. My husband and I are in agreement about God’s call to homeschool, and we pray for God’s continued unity between us. We also enjoy a sense of unity between our girls. That is nothing short of God’s grace in our lives. Our girls are not perfect, but we don’t struggle with a lot of the sibling rivalry that many families deal with. Our girls do occasionally get on each others’ nerves, but for the most part, they are best friends who enjoy living life together.

While I have encouraged this type of unity in our family, it is not something I can pull off alone. It is a gift God has given us. If you are lacking unity in any area of your family life, look to Psalm 133:1 and Romans 12:10 as a way to pray for your family. “God, thank you that Your will for us is that we walk in unity. Your word says that it is good and pleases You when we are unified. Grant us grace that we may walk in unity in every relationship in our family. Bind my husband and me together that we may seek common goals. Strengthen the relationships among our children that they are truly good friends who love, encourage, and bring joy to each other. May they be devoted to one another, honoring the other above themselves.”

Arguing among siblings and division among spouses do not have to be tolerated in your family. Give those situations over to God and ask Him to bring peace and unity to those relationships. Be encouraged that He wants Your family to live in peace and unity much more than You do.

Check out my other post in this 5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool series about wisdom.

If you’d like to see other 5 Day Hopscotch posts on iHomeschool.net, please click here.

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Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Wisdom

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

Welcome to “Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool.” As you might imagine, this is a subject that is near and dear to this homeschool mom’s heart. I know the power of prayer, and homeschooling is definitely too big of a job to go it alone. Any education about educating our children needs to be bathed in prayer, and homeschooling is no different. After six years of homeschooling, I can honestly say that we would not have made it without God’s sustaining, leading, teaching, and comforting us all.

Whether you are merely curious about homeschooling or you’re a seasoned veteran at it, we can all pray that God would lead us to follow His wisdom and vision in how to best educate our children. Using Ephesians 1:17 and Colossians 1:9 as a model, we could pray something like, “Lord, we ask You to give us Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation on how to best educate our children. Lord, our greatest goal is that they know You, so please grant us Your wisdom as we make this important decision. Fill us as parents with the knowledge of Your will that we may walk in a manner worthy of Your calling. We want to please You by using our children’s education to bear fruit for You. Strengthen us with Your power, according to Your glorious might, that we might attain steadfastness and patience.”

We certainly want God’s wisdom to guide us as we make the decision to homeschool, and we will need His wisdom to guide countless decisions throughout the school year. Come back tomorrow for the next day of “Five Days of Praying For Your Homeschool.”

Want to read other posts from the 5 Day Hopscotch on IHomeschool.net? Click here.

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Social Media Strategies for Preteens

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Parents, let’s face it: social media is here to stay. Our children live in an age that we never foresaw when we were their age, and that age comes with an incredible opportunity for both positive and negative outcomes. Kids have the opportunity to “speak” to masses of people everyday. They have the responsibility to use that type of power to encourage, build up, be funny, and inspire, or they can use it to make fun, be sarcastic, criticize, or be downright mean. Social media is a huge responsibility. And without us educating them on how to use it properly, they will have a difficult time avoiding pitfalls.

Though my daughters don’t use social media yet, my oldest is on the cusp. Many of her friends are already active on Instagram and other sites. Because of my work, I am quite active on social media, so I see what goes on. Parents, if I can give you one word of advice for protecting your children on social media it is this: Do not allow your child to be friends/followers with anyone online that you are not friends/followers with first. While this won’t protect your children from every potential risk, it will go a long way. You need to see what your children are seeing on social media. Fortunately, I have seen very few posts that I felt uneasy about, and I know that this is because so many of my friends closely monitor what their children and their children’s friends post online. The other parents and I have an open door policy that whenever we see something sketchy online, we bring it to attention. Just as our children need our guidance when they are learning to ride a bike, use a stove, or mow the lawn, they need us to help them get social media right, too. Let’s give them the tools and guidelines to help them be successful on social media, just as we would in any other area of their lives.

When you post to social media, it is just as if you have spoken directly to each of your followers. You can build quite a following on social media. Be cautious that what you say on social media is “heard” by each and every one of your followers. Only say the things you’d say to someone’s face. Before you post, imagine that you are making a speech and the audience is made up of the people who follow you. Only say what you’d say to them directly.

Remember who you are. As a child of Christ, remember His command, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” That means that you don’t make jokes or try to be funny at someone else’s expense. You don’t complain or criticize. And don’t forget that this verse addresses the things you say about yourselves as well. We are to speak (or write) things that build up other people. You have the power in your words to speak LIFE into people. Build them up with words that are encouraging, peace-making, inspiring, helpful, kind, gracious, healing, and accepting. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

The way you feel about yourself is magnified in what you post on social media. If you are self-confident and love others, it shows in the photos you post. If you are insecure and strive to get attention or impress other people, that shows as well. When you realize that you are God’s child, fully accepted and loved by Him, you will begin to love and accept yourself. You no longer feel the need to impress other people, because you aren’t striving for their acceptance anyway. That leads to loving and accepting other people as well. Your real life AND your social media posts become less judgmental and more kind, less about you and more about other people.

Respect people’s privacy. Social media is very, well… social. Whatever is said goes around the web very quickly. While you might be quick to share about your good grade, who asked you to the dance, or who you are dating, some people are more private about such things. It’s never a good idea to share someone else’s news on social media (or in person). It’s more prudent to let them share when and if they decide to. Extend this courtesy to your family as well. Never share publicly things that your siblings or parents don’t want broadcasted on social media, even if you think they won’t see it.

If you have even the slightest question about whether something is ok to post, ask before you post. Anything you post online goes around very quickly and it is permanent, even if you delete it. If there is any question whether a post could be hurtful, damaging, or misunderstood, ask your parents for advice before you post. Believe me, they WANT to see you being responsible with social media, and choosing your words carefully shows maturity. If you do make a mistake, be quick to take down the post and issue a short apology like “I took down my previous post because I realized it might be taken wrong. I’d never want to hurt anyone on social media, so I thought it was best to take it down.” We all make mistakes, but learning how to correct mistakes shows real maturity as well.

Cauliflower Casserole

Today I’d like to introduce you to my friend Heather at My Life Well Loved. Heather is a fellow Birminghamian, as well as a fellow food blogger. She is a contributor to our new Facebook and Pinterest site called Southern Roots Recipes, where Heather and I, along with four other Alabama food bloggers, share our tried and true recipes. I’d love for you to join us there. And now, I give you Heather and her fabulous Cauliflower Casserole recipe…

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Cauliflower, Shmauliflower is what I always thought….until NOW! I have loathed this veggie and loved to hate it since I was a child. It is basically the arch nemesis veggie in my eyes. We are not friends cauliflower and I. Or at least, I thought we weren’t. My mind started to open up when I saw others pinning it as a fake out mashed potato and as fake out casseroles, so I decided in the name of healthier eating to give this enemy another shot!

The hubs made this recipe for us one night this week. Seriously, I’m a lucky girl that he’s willing to cook for me. This recipe did take a little bit of work between cooking the chicken, steaming the cauliflower and chopping up the ingredients but man, it was well worth it. I gave it a thumbs up which I didn’t necessarily think that I would and even the hubs liked it!

We were shocked by how much we liked this cauliflower casserole. In fact, we plan on making it again!! I hope you guys enjoy this loaded casserole dish that feels like a cheat but isn’t really that bad as much as we did! The recipe has so much yummy goodness in it that the cauliflower just takes on the other flavors and becomes much more mild. Do any of you have any other cauliflower recipes you’d recommend I try?

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked & cubed
1 package cauliflower
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 bundle green onions, sliced
4 ounces bacon pieces
1/8 t garlic power
Salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Steam cauliflower until tender.
Meanwhile, combine cheeses in a large bowl. Remove ¼ of cheese and set aside. Stir chicken, green onions, bacon, and garlic powder into remaining cheese.
Stir cauliflower into cheese mixture and season with salt & pepper. Pour into a 9×13 glass baking dish. Top with additional cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

How Much Homeschooling Costs: A Look at Yearly Expenses

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One of the most commonly asked questions I receive is how much homeschooling costs. Typically, my answer is, “More than public school, but less than private school.” But a closer look at the actual expenses is helpful when parents are making a decision about homeschooling. There are out-of-pocket expenses that homeschooling parents must pay including books, supplies, homeschool cover tuition, field trips, co-op classes, and such. Expenses can add up quickly, but there are ways to cut costs as well. Sometimes cutting costs is worth the hassle, sometimes it’s not. Here is a realistic look from our family’s perspective about how much homeschooling costs:

Tuition: Wait a minute… if you’re homeschooling, why do you pay tuition? Laws governing the education of children vary from state to state. In Alabama, in order to satisfy state law, each child between the ages of 7-17 must be enrolled in school. Therefore, we pay tuition to a cover school, which collects our attendance, grades, and in addition provides many services and opportunities to homeschool families. While we can choose whether to participate in many of the educational and community activities our school provides, we are required to at least pay tuition, which is $35 per month for 10 months, with a $50 registration fee per year. Total yearly cost: $400

Books and Supplies: This is where things get murky. If I were to purchase new books from the publishers for each subject and each child, I could easily spend several thousand dollars. I do my best to search for used books on eBay, Amazon, and in my local homeschool group before I pay full retail price for anything. I can typically find good deals on teachers’ manuals and textbooks, but workbooks and test books are a different story. As these get written in, there are very few available in used condition. Last year was our first year to have two students homeschooling, so our costs for teaching materials were almost double. While there is no way to go back and capture an exact amount, my best estimate for what I paid for last years’ books and supplies for my two daughters is $700.

Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities: We pay for it all. While our cover school offers field trips, the student’s family pays the full amount. Not all field trips we take are through our school, and those expenses, of course, are variable. When we have extra money in our budget, we spend a little more. Instead of having PE at a school, we pay for our daughters to play soccer. Instead of having a school-sponsored fine arts class, we pay for ballet, pointe, and acro lessons. Would we pay for these even if our daughters went to traditional school? We certainly wouldn’t have time to do them all, but I’m not sure where we would draw the line. I include these fees in our homeschooling costs because without them, we’d have to cover the costs of providing PE and fine arts in some other way. Total Estimated Yearly Total: $3800

Educational Website Memberships: There are several websites that I pay for because they help so much with our daughters’ education. Because I think it’s important for children to learn in a variety of ways, including books and computers, I consider these to be necessary expenses. Total for the year: $250

Co-op and Online Classes: While we believe co-op and online classes will be an invaluable part of our daughters’ high school experience, we currently do not participate in any right now. Many families with elementary and middle school children do, however. Since we do not take advantage of any of these classes, I will not include any associated costs here. However, if you are planning your homeschooling costs and would be taking online or co-op classes, please understand that these costs can be around $400-600 per year per class.

With all expenses totaled, our family pays somewhere around $5150 per year to home school our two daughters. This amount is not exact, and it fluctuates every year. Last year we spent the money to set up a separate room in our home to use as a homeschool room. Costs of desks and bookshelves: $1200. I didn’t include that expense in my total because it was a one-time purchase for us, and it certainly isn’t a necessity. It’s not cheap to homeschool, but neither is it as expensive as most of the private schools in our area.

Questions?

This post is part of a series by the iHomeschoolNetwork.com bloggers. To read the perspective of other bloggers, please click here.

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Chicken Caesar Sandwich

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A grilled chicken Caesar salad is one of life’s finest meals, in my opinion. But today we take it a step by putting it on a fresh ciabatta bun. This Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwich was simple, with only five ingredients, yet the flavor is over the top delicious! Sometimes in the summer, I’ll make a big Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwich, and that’s all we’ll have for dinner. It’s filling enough by itself.

To make it, you’ll need to start with a ciabatta loaf. I think I got this one at Walmart, or it might have been my local grocery store’s bakery. I don’t really remember. But they aren’t hard to find. Slice it in half so that you have a flat top and bottom.

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You’ll also need a bottle of Caesar salad dressing, a handful of arugula or romaine lettuce, a few tablespoons of good parmesan cheese, and a couple of grilled chicken breasts. I brush mine with olive oil and salt and pepper it well. Then I throw it on the grill for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. When done, remove from heat and cut into slices.

ingredients

Now you’re ready to assemble your Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwich.

sandwich

I place the chicken on the bottom. The arugula or romaine goes on next, followed by a generous coating of Caesar dressing. Top it off with the parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Cut into sections and enjoy!

Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwich
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Ingredients
  1. One loaf of fresh ciabatta bread
  2. Two to three grilled chicken breasts, sliced into pieces
  3. 1 large handful of Arugula or Romaine lettuce
  4. 1/3 bottle of Caesar salad dressing
  5. 2 rounded tablespoons parmesan cheese
  6. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Slice ciabatta loaf end to end so that you have a flat top and bottom.
  2. I place the chicken on the bottom. The arugula or romaine goes on next, followed by a generous coating of Caesar dressing. Top it off with the parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Cut into sections and enjoy!
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Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors from the Blue Ridge Mountains

Cover

Another day, another cookbook to tell you about. Many of you have eaten at one of the many locations of Tupelo Honey Cafe, so you will recognize some of the recipes in their newest cookbook, Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors from the Blue Ridge Mountains. With the flagship restaurant in Asheville, NC, and several other restaurants around the mountain south, Tupelo Honey Cafe serves up a new twist on classic “hillbilly” (their word, not mine) fare. As with every culture, the common foods tell the story of the people. The mountain foods of the Appalachian people are rich in vegetables, which tells the story of the peoples’ earthiness and connection to the land. Chef Brian Sonoskus have made these stories come to life with the dishes he serves in his Tupelo Honey Cafe locations.

Area

While I’ve never been privileged enough to eat at Tupelo Honey Cafe, it’s definitely on my list if I ever find myself in the same town as one. In the meantime, I will pore over their newest cookbook sent to me by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I could tell you all about how good the recipes look, but I though a picture would be worth a thousand words.

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Don’t you know a cookbook is good when you mark almost every recipe so you can try it out? Here’s my list of recipes I want to try right away:

  • Technicolor-Rama Asian Slaw with cabbage and jicama and Granny Smith apples(!!!)
  • Pimiento Cheese with a Kick – It has whole grain and Dijon mustard, cumin, and cherry peppers :)
  • Roast Beef Po’ Boy with Cherry Pepper Aioli
  • Dressed Up For COmpany Onion Casserole. It has heavy cream and Gruyere. Oh, dear.
  • Rib Eye Steak and Mushroom Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuit Crust. Why wouldn’t you?
  • Acorn Squash Stuffed with Bacon Bread Pudding
  • Cornmeal-Fried Black-Eyed Peas
  • Cheesy Grits Souffle
  • Country Ham and Pimiento Cheese Biscuits
  • Southern Pretzels with Pimiento Cheese Fondu. Because SOUTHERN CHEESE FONDU. And homemade pretzels.
  • Shrimp Cakes with Roasted Garlic Aioli
  • Red Onion Marmelade
  • Flat-Out Fantastic Flat Iron Steak Au Poivre

I can’t wait to get started cooking my way through this cookbook!! It’s definitely one that will inspire you to gather your family around the table. Would one of you like a copy? I’ll give you three ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post letting me know which of the above dishes you’d like to try.
  2. Follow @TheHillHangout on Twitter and send me a tweet about which dish you’d like to try.
  3. Follow The Hill Hangout on Facebook and leave us a comment at this post.

I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

If you don’t win a copy, please feel free to order one from my Amazon affiliate link.