Monday, October 31, 2016

Stress Less This Christmas!

One of the things that bring stress at Christmas time is the last minute or even the last month shopping. Why not make a list right now, early in the year of the people you'd like to give to and what they might like? Next, make a list that you can carry with you when you go thrift shopping, garage saling, or shopping clearance sales. You might be surprised what you can find if you shop far ahead and keep your eyes open for gifts.

Store all your treasures in a box in your closet. When it's time for gift giving, whether it's Christmas, a birthday, or just because, you'll have treasures on hand to bless the recipient. You will be blessed to give without hurting your budget or stressing over a time crunch.

Ideas to get you started....

For Kids:
  • Legos
  • toys from historic sites
  • polished stones from tourist shops
  • arrows
  • Non-fiction how-to books
  • Picture books
  • Classic chapter books
  • socks and undies (Everyone needs them. ~wink~)
  • pillows
  • slippers
  • mittens or gloves
  • knit hats
  • doll clothes
  • matchbox cars
  • ear buds

For adults:

  • ingredients for recipes with recipe cards
  •  I once wrapped the following things individually and gave them to my mother-in-love: 2 eggs, a stick of butter, a cake mix, and a mixer. By the time she got to the mixer, she was really enjoying herself and her crazy daughter-in-law.
  • gas card
  • STP
  • chocolate covered cherries
  • warm gloves
  • knit hats
  • scarves
  • Christmas or other CDs
  • books
  • Bath and Body, Hobby Lobby, or other gift card
  • earbuds
  • car emergency kit

Get ready early and enjoy the holidays!

Blessed to be a Blessing

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Election 2016: The Christian's Dilemma ~ A Message from Dutch Sheets About the Election and America's Future

Mr. Sheets has asked that this message be shared if we agree with it. I agree. Please take time to read this. I know it's long. But it is IMPORTANT.

Election 2016: The Christian's Dilemma

Dear Fellow Believers,
As you can tell from my greeting, I am writing primarily to you, the American church. I am doing so personally, not representing Dutch Sheets Ministries. Though this is longer than the blogs I normally send, please read it as an urgent, heartfelt appeal. The sense of urgency I feel is hard to put in words. I have prayed and wept much over the condition of our nation, and continue to be deeply burdened. We are so close to the precipice of a complete self-destruction—a devastation of such magnitude that it would take decades to recover. Some believe a complete recovery would never be possible. The America we have known and loved is being systematically dismantled and reshaped.

Voting is a precious right and a serious responsibility; I realize it is also a very personal and private one. We do it by secret ballot in America for a reason. I don't want to be another voice of manipulation—there are so many in presidential election campaigns—therefore, it is with the utmost caution and conviction that I do this.

I also want to state upfront that I am neither a registered Republican nor Democrat. Years ago, I concluded that if my "calls to prayer" were to be trusted by believers across the board, I would have to issue them as an independent voter. With this in mind, I relinquished my party affiliation, along with the rights to vote in primaries, help shape party platforms, possibly become a delegate, etc. and became an Independent. Since then, like many of you I have become fed-up with both parties—disillusioned with the Republicans, offended and appalled by the Democrats. I say this to assure you that I am not making this appeal in order to stump for "my party's candidate."

Finally, I want to also preface my appeal by saying I have not been a huge Trump fan. Had I been allowed to vote in the primaries, he would not have been my first choice. His seeming arrogance, insults, history of philandering, personal ambition, etc. were very disconcerting to me. I kept an open mind, however, knowing God uses imperfect people and that He is very merciful—I don’t condone sin, but neither do I cast the first stone—and knowing that people do, indeed, change. I was also challenged to remain open-minded about Trump by the fact that several spiritual leaders I trusted were convinced God wanted to use him to overthrow an ineffective and corrupt system. Over time, I came to agree with them. However, for me, this election is not nearly as much about who I am for, as it is who and what I am against; and frankly, even with my initial concerns, the decision has never been easier.

One of the most devastating occurrences in America in our lifetimes, ranking up with The Supreme Court's decisions of Roe vs. Wade and Engel vs. Vitale (the removal of prayer from schools), was the election of Barack Obama. I gave a strong warning about what would happen to our nation if he was elected. Sadly, it has all come to pass: a continued liberalization and empowerment of the judicial system in America; a weakened economy (our national debt has doubled in 7 years to $19 TRILLION!)[1]; further moral deterioration, along with a rebellion to and mockery of God (does anyone remember the White House lit up in the colors of the LGBT movement after marriage was re-defined by the Supreme Court? If that wasn't an "in your face" to God and those of us who "cling to their God, guns and religion" by the man who mockingly said it, I don't know what could ever be!); increased violence; a weakened position in the world, along with a weakened military; the advance of radical Islamist terrorism; a setback in race relations; and more. I rejoice that our nation has been able to elect our first black president. I am deeply saddened, however, that it was Barack Obama.

The damage has been so great that America is now one president away from a complete transformation to secularism, a loss of our Judeo-Christian foundation, the loss of our position as the stabilizing force for good in the earth, and the leading voice of the gospel to all the world. If elected, Hillary Clinton will be the president who finishes the job. She stands almost entirely against everything we, the church, are for, and for everything we are against. Hillary is pro-abortion, including partial-birth abortion, the most insidious evil of the last century; will raise taxes while continuing out-of-control spending; will further weaken our military; is for completely open borders[2]; is pro-gay marriage; supports Obamacare; has no respect for our Judeo-Christian heritage; sells influence; and is a proven liar. Do not be fooled—she will completely finish what Obama started.

The notion peddled by some "Never Trump" Republicans that they can keep Hillary from accomplishing what she wants for 4 years, then replace her with someone they prefer, is laughable. The fact that they should know this, and don't, is truly scary. Even more frightening is...perhaps they do. The Republican Congress has done nothing to stop Obama; why should we believe they will do so with Hillary? When they threaten to curb Obama with "the power of the purse," he simply calls their bluff and either bullies them into giving him what he wants, or simply does as he pleases through unconstitutional executive orders. A Republican controlled Congress has done nothing to defund Obamacare, slow down the TRILLIONS of dollars of debt he has accrued, prevent his treasonous acts with Iran, defund Planned Parenthood and their selling of babies' body parts (can you even believe such a thing even exists, and that the Obama’s and Hillary condone it?!), or stop any number of other inappropriate actions and wasteful expenditures. Much of Washington, DC is an out-of-control cancer that must be cut out.

To be sure, there are Republican leaders who desperately want to change things but the entrenched, lobbyist-owned, career politicians–many of them liberals in conservative clothing–have neither the will, backbone, and perhaps not the intellect needed to change it. Radical surgery is necessary. Again, it is laughable to think that the leadership of this weak and diluted Republican Congress would be able or willing to stop the agenda of the libs once they enjoy an even greater momentum from another White House win. Someone please tell me why we should believe that. If the Republican Party has not sold us out, why did they spend $18.2 million on Bush's election in 2004, $53.5 million for McCain in 2008, $42.4 million for Romney in 2012, and $0 on ads to elect Trump?![3] They have sold us out.

It is also ridiculous, and perhaps insincere, for the "Never Trump" Republican leaders to suggest "we would only need to reverse 4-8 years of damage if Hillary is elected, which in the long run isn't much." Again, these leaders are either lying or horribly deceived. The damage presently occurring to our nation is—in the sense of time—exponential. Every year of damage means closer to 10 years in it's longevity.

How long will it take America to reverse another $4-8 trillion of increased debt? Decades!

How long will it take us to recover from the decimating of our military? Decades!

How long will it take to defeat a now entrenched Obama/Clinton-enabled ISIS? Decades! (And honest military and intelligence leaders admit that we now have many radical Islamist terrorists here in the US, not just abroad.)

How long will it take to undo the loss of appropriate fear, which our enemies, and the enemies of freedom around the world, once had toward us? Decades! (Our enemies now laugh at us, while attacking us with our own weapons, or weapons purchased with millions in ransom money we paid them. While Putin rebuilds the Soviet empire and China makes plans to rule the world, we are disarming. We can’t even identify our enemies. Obama and those around him are foolish and spineless, and our military leaders know it. We are the laughingstock of our enemies. Hillary helped to set this debacle of foreign policy, and she will continue it.)
How long will it take to recover from 2–5 Clinton lifetime appointees to the Supreme Court? Decades! If she appoints five, which is feasible, she will have single-handedly appointed over half of the Supreme Court, and will have given the liberal, non-constitutionalists a 30-40 year, 7–2 majority advantage! (There is one vacancy now, and of the other 8 Justices, the three oldest are 77, 79 and 83; two more are in their late 60’s.) Then there are the several hundred lifetime Federal Judges she would appoint. Obama has already appointed nearly half of our Federal Judges—all liberals—and Hillary would appoint the other half. This entire scenario is unthinkable! If all this occurs, these overreaching, legislating ideologues will finish the job of decimating everything you and I stand for. America as we have known it may then be gone forever. We have less than three weeks to stop this.

Do not listen to the "only four years" crowd!
I also want to make an appeal to those who say their conscience won't allow them to vote for either Trump or Clinton, so they simply won't vote at all. I sincerely respect your convictions, but in this election, that argument fails the logic test (as does voting for someone who cannot possibly win). Trump’s potential negative developments do not come close to the magnitude of those Hillary would produce. We simply cannot—regardless of our concerns regarding Trump—allow all the above-mentioned consequences to happen. I respectfully appeal to you to turn your "conscience" and "principles" toward the unborn, your children, grandchildren, and the destiny of this nation. Please! We have already been down this “not voting” path once before when millions of evangelicals refused to vote for Romney because he was a Mormon. As disgusted as I am with Romney’s current choice of Hillary over Trump, how much better off would we have been with him, rather than 4 more years of Obama?

To see how Trump would actually lead, I would challenge you to look at those with whom he has surrounded himself: Pence; Carson; Huckabee; Giuliani; Christie; Gingrich; Palin; trusted generals; law enforcement officials; border patrol officials; evangelical leaders of all races; and otherwise, ethical, conservative leaders. What does this tell us? It is probably the greatest indicator of who Trump now is, clearly making the case that he has changed his moral ways over the past 10 years, as he claims. I personally believe he has changed. I also believe God has gripped his heart for the nation, and is in the process of further transforming Mr. Trump. God has certainly allowed him to be humbled. Of course, the statements made by Trump on the video released from 2005 were despicable. However, if we reject him because of the sins of his past, we would also have to reject Abraham, King David, Rahab, “the woman at the well”, Mary Magdeline—all adulterers in their unrighteous past. And don’t forget murderers like the Apostle Paul. A lot of formerly despicable people will be in heaven! And a lot of them, by the way, became great leaders and champions for God. Some changed the world.

These associations also tell us that Trump’s stated conservative bent is genuine, and they state that he is wise enough to know what he doesn't know! I believe Trump is showing us that he will function, if elected president, as any wise businessperson does: find qualified people who know how to get the job done, as in the above examples, and empower them to do it. I like those whom he is signaling to us would be those leaders. They are proven, trustworthy and honorable. If you cannot vote for Trump, vote for them.

Hillary, on the other hand, would give us 4–8 more years of polytheists, liberal progressives, media elites, police-haters, global statists, financially irresponsible leaders and a weak military.

Perhaps a better way for the disenchanted to approach this election is to vote AGAINST someone. I would suggest to you that voting against a candidate is a good reason to vote! "Neutrality" is not a valid option at this critical crossroads in history. The times demand that we make a stand! If not for, make your stand against:

Vote against the foolish, selfish, shortsighted, establishment Republicans fighting to maintain their power.

Vote against an immoral, ungodly Democratic Party. (To those who take issue with this characterization, don't forget that they booed God at their convention in 2012.)[4]

Vote against an unelected, unaccountable, overreaching, out of control Judiciary that believes it has the right to reshape America.

Vote against the unethical, biased, lying and untrustworthy media. (We will never reclaim America until we reject their influence. They may be the single greatest obstacle to America's recovery.)

Vote against a weakened military.

Vote against a loss of national sovereignty and a one-world government.

Vote against open borders.

Vote against policies that enable radical Islamist terrorism.

Vote against the removing of our 2nd Amendment rights.

Vote against higher taxes.

Vote against Obamacare.

Vote against the redefining of marriage. (It is not too late to reverse this.)

Vote against abortion-on-demand, partial-birth abortion, and Planned Parenthood with its selling of babies' body parts.

Vote against liberalism and progressivism.

Vote against the silencing of the church. (Only the totally naïve do not see this coming quickly.)

Vote against revising our history and the loss of our Judeo-Christian heritage.

Vote against the politicization and exploitation of racism, and the polarizing of America.

Vote against the slandering and weakening of law-enforcement.

Vote against the politicization of the Justice Department, the FBI and other important departments of government. (Both departments are now undeniably and shamelessly used for political purposes and to oppose Christians and conservatives.)

Pastors, if you've ever made a stand, make one now—it may be your last chance. Tell your people the truth…clearly. Pray and fast! Turn your services into prayer meetings.

To all believers, if you agree with what I have written, forward it to all of your friends and family members. Most of them hear only from a hypocritical, lying media, which is now the propaganda arm of the liberal agenda. Speak up. Appeal to them to read this and think about it.

And vote!

Vote for a future, one that includes what you love and believe in. Trump has flaws, but Hillary will be fatal.

Dutch Sheets

[1] Treasury Direct. “Historical Debt Outstanding – Annual 2000-2015.” Last updated June 8, 2016.…/histde…/histdebt_histo5.htm
[2] Wolfgang, Ben. “Clinton admitted she’s for ‘open borders’ in paid, private speech: WikiLeaks.” The Washington Times. October 8, 2016.…/hillary-clinton-dreams-op…/
[3] Vogel, Kenneth P. and Isenstadt, Alex. “RNC TV ad spending for Trump: $0.” Politico. October 13, 2016.…/rnc-donald-trump-ad-spending-2297…
[4] Murashko, Alex. “DNC: Christian leaders comment on night ‘Dems booed God.” The Christian Post. September 7, 2012.…/dnc-christian-leaders-comme…/

* Find the original post here. 

**Picture Credit Ludovic Gauthier, Unsplash

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #84

Welcome to another thrifty week at Harvest Lane Cottage. I am honored by your visit.  Each week I share my thrifty and frugal projects, ways of saving money, and my blessings from God. 

I am so glad you dropped in for a visit today—or tonight!

Hi ladies!
     The truth is that I've been on the run all week. I've reconnected with friends, attended our town's Maple Leaf Festival, volunteered at the Republican Headquarters, attended election judge training (my first time), took my daughter to a dentist appointment an hour away, attended a debate watch party, grocery shopped, helped with a Third Thursday craft booth my girlfriends run, and took my kids to their home school co-op meeting. So. Guess who hasn't even had time to be thrifty this week? Yep. Me. So, I am rather embarrassed as I write this. 
     Life happens. Sometimes it's just really busy. I left the house this morning at 8:30 and got home about 8:30. I can only imagine how hard it must be for ladies who have jobs outside the home. Bless you ladies! So, please give me grace, and I'll try to do better next week. God bless you all! Thank you for reading about my efforts, leaving me such kind, encouraging comments, and telling me about what you've been doing. I love gleaning new ideas!
Here's my thrifty week:
  • My husband saved us major money by fixing his computer himself.
  • My husband re-caulked the bathroom tub enclosure himself. It looks so much better!
  • I altered a flashlight holster for my son.
  • I ate leftover refried beans for supper one night. I had frozen them last week.
  • Eggs $.49 a dozen!
  • Chicken soup from chicken that was given to us a few weeks ago that we froze.
Well, that's my not so thrifty week. 
What are you doing in your home this week?

A peek into my life...

...doing what I can with what I've got
where I am on a short shoestring budget!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Proud to Be Deplorable

Please pray for our elections across the country.
Please pray for the candidates.
Please pray for our country to heal.

As far as the presidential election.... remember
we are voting for our Supreme Court justices.

One Nation
Under God
With Liberty
and Justice
for All.

 Home and Garden Thursday -  Share Your Cup Thursday  - Create it Thursday  -  No Rules Weekend Blog Party - Imparting Grace - Sitting Among Friends Happy Weekend Mom's the Word - Good Morning Monday Mommy Moments  Amaze Me Monday - Living Proverbs 31 The Art of Homemaking    Modest Mondays 

Preparing for a New Season

Recently I read a post my dear friend Cheryl Smith of Homespun Devotions wrote about her one word for 2015. It really struck me. Her word was PREPARE. It's an acronym you can read about here.

I was struck with  her acronym PREPARE. I took out a notecard and wrote each word.

Purging, Reducing, Eliminating, Pruning, Anticipating, Releasing, and Expectation

I also copied down her quote, "He can break any chain, if we are willing to let go of what is enslaving us."

God is getting ready to make some changes in our family's life. I can feel it. He spoke to me during worship one Wednesday night. I had been teetering on the edge of depression... holding on as hard as I could but feeling my fingers slip. Sad over the changes as my children grow older and near the edge of the nest. Missing their little boy and girl days. Anyway, here's what He said to me.

Release their childhood.
Embrace who they are now.
Prepare them to launch.
Build your marriage.
Serve them all.

I agonized in prayer and worship. I know it's the path I must take and will take. But I will only be able to do so with His help.

Part of releasing their childhood will be to purge a lot of books from our shelves, totes, and boxes. There are a lot of other things that are no longer part of the life we are living or will live in the future, but I've clung to them. They must go also. I'm not yet sure how. God has some things to show me if I'll watch and listen.

Harvest Lane Cottage
by the banks of Center Creek
at the edge of the Missouri Ozarks

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #83

Welcome to another thrifty week at Harvest Lane Cottage. I am honored by your visit.  Each week I share my thrifty and frugal projects, ways of saving money, and my blessings from God. 

I am so glad you dropped in for a visit today—or tonight!

   Last week was a major clean out in the garage, back room, and storage room. I also had a wedding the same day and didn't get my writing done. So, I've combined these two weeks into one thrifty week post. 

Here's my thrifty week:
  • My husband saved us major money by fixing the faucet on our tub.
  • He saved more major money by replacing our bathroom sink faucet.
  • We ate from the freezer.
  • I sewed a cute little bag from fabric I had in my stash. Wouldn't you know? I cannot find the link to the free tutorial I used nor can I find the photos! I'll have to share them later.
  • I received a nice little journaling Bible for review. Finally, a Bible with enough room in the margins for notes!
  • I received a big box with several packages of button mushrooms. We ate all we wanted fresh, and Amy and I prepped and packaged 9 pounds for the freezer. I have a friend who sometimes gets surplus from some unknown to me place.
  • I received lettuce, rolls and beets from another friend.
  • I made a big pot of not so tasty soup using a new recipe. It was not a favorite, but we ate it anyway. I froze the leftovers with the thought that I'll try to make it over when I take it out again. I just don't know if I'll get away with it with the family! 
  • I made a pot of chili soup (not my usual recipe) using precooked frozen ground beef, leftover pinto beans, leftover salsa, ketchup, and seasonings. It wasn't the best, but we enjoyed it. Not every made up soup is a keeper.
  • I made chicken soup using chicken that was given to me a few weeks ago.
  • We got our van back with a rebuilt transmission. No charge! Warranty work. Praise God!
  • Wedding gift: a very big bottle of Dawn dish soap and half a dozen handmade tribbles.
  • I cut my son's hair.
  • I worked on building a stash of dishcloths to give as gifts.
  • A friend gave me five new to me blouses! I had just talked to the Lord about needing some new ones. Some of my old ones were getting pretty worn.

Well, that's my thrifty week. 
What are you doing in your home this week?

A peek into my life...

My dad bought this for me at a little shop many years ago.
He paid too much money for it just because I adored it.
Thanks Dad! I still enjoy it. 

...doing what I can with what I've got
where I am on a short shoestring budget!


You might enjoy reading...
A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #3

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A NIGHT OF GREAT JOY Mary Engelbreit

This year, come Christmas, my children at home will be 15, 17, and 19. I also have a grown 25 year old son. We have had a tradition, at least since the youngest was born, of Mom giving the family a new Christmas picture book each year. Sometimes they have fine art, sometimes they are whimsical. Last year, since they were all so old, I asked if they wanted to continue. I was met with a resounding yes! I'm not sure if they will want to continue this year or not. My 19 year old has started college. My 17 year old interned with the police department this summer. Those things will grow you up a lot. Nevertheless, I am going to proceed on the assumption that they will want to continue the tradition this year. Even if they don't, momma does!

I snuck into the living room early in the morning to read this while everyone was still asleep. Even after reading many versions of the account of the Christmas story over the years, I found Mary Engelbreit's version was fresh to me.  Her style can only be described as whimsical. She captures the vibrancy and spark of life in children like no one else.

The book tells the story of the nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The story shows the story of a children's Christmas play or pageant complete with cows, sheep, shepherds, angels and wise men. All the little things, like the look on Mary's face when she settled into the hay and the shepherds fighting over a little lamb, brought an amusing note to the book. I think little children will enjoy it. I think grown-ups will enjoy reading it to their littles. The drawings are vibrant in color, rich in content, and full of the joyful fun of the style that can only be called Mary Engelbreit.

$16.99 Hardcover from Zonderkidz

Take a look!
Additional information

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, October 10, 2016

My Fall Reading List 2016

I'm trying to read a chapter a day.
So far, I've been hit or miss.

Finished! Read my review.

Read my review.

Read my review.

Read my review.

Read my review.

I read this one quickly! 
Read my review.

I'm reading this now.

Read my review.

This is started slow.
I didn't really get into it.
I lost interest and returned it to the library.

Still reading.

Read my review.

Yes, I'm a fairly quick reader. I'm going to try to fit in an hour a day, but I will probably mostly snatch read. No, I don't know if I will make it, but I'll try. Yes, I am trying to follow the Trim Healthy Mama Plan. I've been at it for two weeks now. Five pounds down.

The "Bring a Book" Mom

May I suggest?

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson—that's all I needed to see in the email offering me this book for review. A Christmas book by Carlson—that's even better! The Christmas Angel Project is the latest in her collection of Christmas books. I've read Christmas at Harrington's, The Christmas Shoppe, and The Christmas Joy Ride. 

Who wouldn't love a small group of friends to meet with every week for a couple hours to support each other, encourage one another, and discuss a good book?
Abby Wentworth is the heart of this group. She leads it and has a personal, encouraging relationship with each member.Her unexpected death left the ladies in the group shocked, mourning, and aching for her influence in their lives. There was no sense in continuing the group—but maybe one last time they should meet to open the Christmas gifts Abby left for them—finished just hours before her death. The gifts not only comfort and encourage the ladies, they spark an idea that will change their lives. Each sets out on her own to accomplish her personal Angel Project with unexpected results.

We follow each lady as she implements her own idea for being a Christmas angel using her own unique gifts and resources—a good idea for us as well. These four ladies are very different and a little wary of each other without Abby's presence. The development of the relationships makes this a pleasure to read.

This is a terrific holiday read. It could only have been improved by three things—a Christmas tree to sit by, instrumental Christmas music playing softly, and a cup of eggnog. This, as well as any other of Carlson's Christmas books, is a must read this holiday season. It's light, quick moving, and has convenient sections within the chapters that make it easy to snatch a few minutes to read here and there. Y'all know how I love that! 

I hope you haven't tired of my Christmas posts. Christmas starts in September for reviewers. But truth be told—I love Christmas books any time of year. The season adds a magical touch to the setting. Now, you can take a look at this excerpt and see what you think. 

Thank you Revell Reads for this complimentary review copy.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas BusThe Christmas Dog, and Christmas...
Continue reading about Melody Carlson

Monday, October 3, 2016


Just a little reminder for you and me—
God loves us. He is for us.
We can do this.

...doing what I can with what I've got
where I am on a short shoestring budget!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

This is a reprint of a guest post I wrote three years ago about a day in our homeschool life. I thought you might enjoy this peek into my past.

Hello!  We're the Lane Family.  I'm Laura Lane.   My husband, Lowell, works at a church.  
My eldest, Matthew, graduated in 2009.  He attended high school after being homeschooled 
for 10 years.  I currently homeschool Emily, 16, Michael, 14, and Amy, 12.  

We're rather relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers.  I didn't really plan it that way, but life happens 
when you have a husband who is in ministry.  There's a bit of drop everything and go when 
he calls to our life.  Two years ago, our area was devastated by what the world knows as the 
Joplin, Missouri tornado.  We live about ten miles from Joplin.  A couple of days after the 
tornado, my husband walked in and asked Pastor Dan what he could do to help.  He walked 
out with a job as the coordinator and community liaison and a plan to house volunteers in 
the vacant house next door (about 400 over the summer by his estimates).   Though we no 
longer have volunteers staying with us, the kids and I have been on call to volunteer for the 
last two years. ~smile~  Things have finally settled down giving us the chance to settle down
 into a new autumn school routine.  

This is what our school days will look like this autumn, if all goes according to plan. ~smile~

We try to get most of our work done in the morning.  The first child out of bed gets the first 
chance to do math.  All of the children use Teaching Textbooks, a computer based math 
program.  There's a bit of competition between my two youngest children to see who's first.
~smile~  We eat breakfast and two children do dishes while the third goes on to start Bible.  
The others start Bible when they're done.  Math is done as the computer comes available.  
We will work all morning, then hopefully, be able to do some more creative activities in the 
afternoon.  Of course, if the lessons aren't finished, they'll have to be finished.

Where:  We homeschool all over the house.  I want my children to be lifelong learners.  
I think that allowing them a little flexibility in where they do their lessons makes them less 
resistant to learning.  I also catch them doing what I jokingly call "unauthorized learning" 
once in awhile.  You know, reading a book or studying even if it wasn't assigned.  I make 
a big deal out of it in jest. ~smile~

How:  Much of our learning is reading based.   We read a lot of whole books.  I was attracted 
to Charlotte Mason's teachings but never followed her 100%.  We have used a combination
of textbooks, workbooks, computer programs, videos and hands-on lessons over the years. 
We're still reading a lot for Science, but my older children will start Biology this year.  History 
and Latin are video based.  Michael and Emily will do history together.  All of the children 
learn Latin together.  Spelling, grammar and writing are usually a bit more mom intensive. 

Why:  To put it simply, God told us to.  
I explain it all in detail in this post:  Why We Homeschool.

Helpful hints:
♥ Pray!  God cares deeply for you and for your children.  He will guide you.
♥ Read read read to your children from birth.  Keep reading even after they learn to read.
♥ As soon as they can read, require them to sit and read/look at books for thirty minutes a 
day. Perhaps after lunch.
♥ When they graduate to chapter books, increase their silent reading time to an hour a day.  
My children have become excellent readers as a result. 
♥ Don't give up!  Your family is unique.  Your homeschool will be unique.  Don't try to 
do it just like someone else.  Pick and choose ideas and find what works for your family.

    What I really want you to know:  You will not be perfect in your child training, your 
    homeschooling, or your homemaking.  It's okay.  Pray, research the best methods for you, 
    and be flexible in your implementation.  Teaching your child to love the Lord our God 
    with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength is ultimately the goal.  
    God wants that, too.  He'll help you.

    Be blessed!

    Laura Lane is mom to four children, ages 15-25.  She's homeschooled since 1996 and 
    is married to her high school sweetheart. She writes about homemaking, saving money 
    through thrifty living, homeschooling, books, her family life, and her love of God and
    her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.