Why I’m Glad I Was Homeschooled

stories made it possible

The smell of ancient paper still makes me want to sob, the way spines line up like soldiers on the wooden shelves of small-town libraries. I know they would defend me if they could, those armies of words.

I grew up in second-hand clothes and mushroom-cuts and plastic glasses. I grew up homeschooled until the age of 9, with my nose in books, stories of Pippi Longstocking and Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne of Green Gables. Books whose characters were as real to me as every-day, as the few friends I made the houses between, for we moved fast and far, my father a pastor and so, I clung to these characters and they, to me. I could count on them to be there, when nothing else was. We became a family of sorts.

And Mum, she taught me the Queen’s language. A language lost to this texting generation. She taught me when to use “which” and when to use “that”; she saluted the apostrophe and shuddered when it was put in the wrong place. She set every word reverently in its place, in a sentence, and taught me the feel of a pen between my fingers.

I learned the art of penmanship, but not only that—I learned what it means to know a language inside and out, backwards and front, and to hold it in awe.

Throughout high school Mum pulled me out of the English classes and taught me herself because she knew what I did not: that with the age of computers we’d lose the craft of a noble speech. We’d add slang and acronyms would become actual words and kids would trade the romance of a hand-written letter for the convenience of a text message.

my goal since those days

Not only did Anne and Pippi and Laura befriend me; they paved the way smooth for an awkward girl. They made it possible for me to believe on days when my heart seemed to stop working. On days when I yelled at my parents and slammed doors and slipped dark into anorexia, on those kinds of days, only the story could reach me. Only the story could save me.

It pulls you deep, this literature, deeper than any technology could. It introduces culture, countries, religion and history and it whets the soul for learning. The story creates sympathy for a world full of characters, and provides boundaries for good and evil. It sheds light on people’s unspoken suffering and creates a longing for justice, for truth.

I will never understand the intrigue of a book-less library, of the e-book, of the Kindle, for the very charm of the silence and the old stuffed chairs lies in a library’s walls of literature. In the dog-eared page, the margin-scribbled-notes, the smell of dusty intrigue, the quiet hush of pages turning.

And my goal since those days has been to write a story that draws people in so they forget where they are, so they too befriend the people they are reading about, so they too, don’t have to be lonely, anymore.




Friends? I’ve written a story (a memoir) and it’s releasing next month.

It’s called Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (www.atlasgirlbook.com)—and all proceeds are going towards a non-profit which TBM contributor Joy Forney and I have founded in the slums of Uganda: The Lulu Tree ~ “Preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.”

Atlas Girl_700x175_2

Pre-order your copy of Atlas Girl HERE and receive a FREE e-book on How to Write Inspirational Memoir!




This post is a part of our “Who We Are” Series. For all posts visit,

“Who We Are: The Stories Behind TBM Writers”

Who We Are at The Better Mom

Six Things I’d Say About Homeschooling

 Six Things I'd Say

I will never homeschool.

I should have known better than to ever make a big statement like that. It seems like whenever I do, it nearly always comes back at me. You’d think I would have learned my lesson.

It’s not that I was against homeschooling, mind you. It’s just that, well, how can I put this…?

I didn’t think I was the homeschooling “type”.  Whatever that means.

But wouldn’t you know it, the Lord kept putting it on my heart and in my path, until I finally gave in. Reluctantly. I guess I’ll try this thing out for a while.

I mean, how hard can it be to homeschool a five-year-old?

In some ways, harder than I thought.  But funner (is that considered a real word yet?) than I expected too.

From there we kept going. One year at a time. One child, then two. Then eight.

Alright, so we didn’t really jump to eight – it only felt that way at times.

Homeschooling the Boys

Now our five-year-old is a sophomore in college. Oh, except he’s not five anymore, he’s 19.  He’s thriving at school, works hard, and, above all, loves the Lord.  And, yes, he was homeschooled.

So for those of you who are like me and wondering – or doubting – if you’re the homeschooling type? Here’s what I’d say it takes:

Time.   But less than you might think. We “formally” school a few hours in the morning. On the good days. The rest of the time we enjoy working, learning and playing together. I’d say more happens in our “off” hours than our sit-down ones.

Relationship.   This is what “sold” me on homeschooling. The chance to love and disciple our children all day long. Not always easy, but the investment has been invaluable. I’m grateful for all the relationship-building hours we have together.

Discipline.   And, no, I’m not talking about the kids here. I’m talking about my own. Organizing our kids’ education has been a terrific challenge in my life. Making myself do things even when I didn’t feel like it has been good for me. (Yes, that was a confession).

Grace.   So I’ve learned some discipline. And I’ve learned grace. My older children even complain a little about it. They say I was way more uptight with them than I am with the younger ones. Truly? That’s a good sign. That means that grace is gaining ground around here. Like hearing that!

Prayer. Um…you wouldn’t be put off if I told you that homeschooling has had a powerful impact on my prayer life, would you? I’ve had to pray about curriculum, classes, squabbles, and schedules. Prayed for wisdom, mercy, patience (!), and spiritual insight. I’d become a downright Prayer Warrior by the time our eldest was filling out college applications.

Growth. I love watching our kids grow. I love seeing the people they’re becoming and the work God is doing in their lives. I love seeing them grow strong – not just on the outside, but on the inside too.  I also love being able to grow and learn right alongside them.

So it would seem that I might be the homeschooling type after all. Our kids are learning. Their mom is learning – and about way more than just homeschooling.

Like, never say never, for instance.

Because I’ll be homeschooling again this year.

Wondering about homeschooling? Doubting? Go ahead and ask your questions and I’ll do my best to answer!

Or have a similar story to mine? I’d love to hear it!

In His grace,

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Five Ways to Help Your Family Memorize God’s Word


“I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” ~Psalm 119:11

Memorizing Scripture is something we value–
We know it is commanded.
We know how much it helps.
We know how often God calls to mind a particular passage at a much needed moment.

Here are five suggestions for helping your family memorize God’s Word (from our family to yours)…

1.)  Choose verses that are key (and sometimes less is more).
When our children were very little, we memorized foundation verses
“Foundation Verses are strategically chosen Bible verses for children preschool through age five. The pack includes short verses with picture prompts to help non-readers remember the passage.”
75 verses total.
One verse per week.
Often adding hand motions to go along with the words.
The whole family focusing on the same verse.

Foundation VersesFoundation verses 2

2.)  Which leads to– as a family, focus on the same verse or passage.
There was a time, when we had to decide, as parents, that we wanted our family to focus on one-same-verse-per-week together.
The reality was that with four children involved in multiple settings and classes, and each class asking us to help each child memorize a weekly verse, we were looking at close to 20 different verses per week that we could-should-be-helping them memorize.
And it felt overwhelming.
And we weren’t effectively memorizing any of the verses, let alone all of them.
So, we explained our decision to the various teachers/leaders and found them all to be very supportive.  It was amazing the difference it made to have one passage to focus on together as a family.
And the next year, our school decided to have one-family-verse per week instead of each teacher choosing a verse per grade.

3.) Surround your family visually with God’s Word…especially the verse you are currently working on.
We use whiteboards, frames with glass & no backing, old tile remnants or glass squares from my husband’s construction jobs, and blank business cards to help make our current verse visual.  I usually have the verse memorized by the time I’m finished writing it in all our different “spots”.

verse 2 verse1 verse3 verse4 verse6
4.) Use Music.
We still listen to the Seeds Family Worship Collection.  Often.
There is just something about putting God’s Word (or really almost anything) to music that makes it easier to remember.
And if you can’t find music to the verses you are trying to memorize, make up your own melody or use one your children are already familiar with, but switch out the words for a verse.  The melody of Edelweiss (think…Sound of Music) works well.
I maybe can’t recite all of Psalm 103, but I can still sing it to you…and when God knows I need those words, they are still deeply hidden in my heart.

5.) As a family, discuss the reasons for memorizing God’s Word.
It helps so much to understand the value of hiding God’s Word in your heart.  There are so many verses that point to how much God wants us to memorize.
We can pray and ask Him to help us!

“You shall teach them to your children,
talking of them when you are sitting in your house,
and when you are walking by the way,
and when you lie down,
and when you rise.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house
and on your gates…”
~Deuteronomy 11:19 and 20

What has helped your family commit to memorizing God’s Word?
We’d love to hear your suggestions or ideas in the comments

Kara @ The Chuppies


Memorial Day With Your Family

Lest We Forget

For several years now,
we’ve visited Willamette National Cemetery
on Memorial Day weekend.

Our two oldest children are currently working on a  WWII project for their class and it is a reminder of how many have sacrificed their lives in service to our country and for the cause of freedom.
Every year, my husband finds stories of specific men and women who have served our country with honor.

If you are interested in sharing this experience with your family, just visit this list of national cemeteries and click on your state.  Once you find your state, choose a cemetery and under it, there should be a list for notable persons with a list of the names of Medal of Honor Recipients.

Every year we are impacted by the fields and fields of flags that stand for lives given in sacrifice for our county.
And every year, it is good for our children…and for us…to realize that each flag represents an actual life–-
A father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter.

These photos speak more than any words I could write.
Let’s just take a moment to give thanks for the brave men and women who have served with such courage…

Memorial day1





How does your family remember on Memorial Day?

Who does your family remember on Memorial Day?

Thanks for taking a moment to pause with us…and give thanks.


Kara @The Chuppies

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