A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Frederick Buechner Books ~ A Double Review

So, prior to this book review I had not heard of the author Frederick Buechner - this despite the fact that I am a book-a-holic and the additional fact that Mr. Buechner has authored more than 30 books. No idea how I missed him entirely...

For this review, I received not one, but two works by this author. I chose to dive into A Crazy, Holy Grace (The Healing Power of Pain and Memory) first because the subtitle was intriguing. After all, who wants to heal by way of pain and memory? Or, worse yet, via the combo of painful memories? Yeah, no...most of us will take a hard pass on that option.

In many ways, this book tells the unique story of the writer's life and delves into some terribly difficult childhood experiences and his emotions - or more accurately, his lack thereof. I think many people would relate well to this scenario. Childhood trauma often deals us such a blow in such a formative time of life that we find ourselves ill-equipped to feel what we ought to be feeling. If you have had such an experience, the book A Crazy, Holy Grace could be a great read for you. Not to mention the obvious - God's grace is crazy and holy at the very same time!

The second book of Mr. Buechner's is entitled The Remarkable Ordinary (How to Stop, Look and Listen to Life).  I was, again, intrigued by the subtitle. Yet this book, I found, was not so much aimed at my life circumstances and did not resonate with me. Not because it isn't a good book - it is. Mainly because I am at my own unique phase of life and at times don't have the energy to exert my mind in order to grasp the depth of such a book.

I would like to share a quote from the book:

          "To love your neighbor is to see your neighbor."

Simple but profoundly true, right?

I also really loved the thought that playing it safe is to somehow have your life diminished. Oh yes, that is 1000% true.

Overall, I think these are great little books but don't think "little" means a speed read. There's plenty to think about and you certainly wouldn't want to read either of these titles without a plan to think about what you are reading!

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave these books a 4.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from Handlebar. All opinions shared here are solely my own. 

Day 367 done :)
Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Battleground Goals

Warren Wiersbe has said that sooner or later, every believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground. He is spot on.

And for the homeschooling mother, we have one very intense battlefield.

Our enemies are, of course, on the outside. From the checkout lady at the Piggly Wiggly to our distant third-cousin (twice removed on our father's side), we know people are going to question us in regard to homeschooling. (Why, just last night at a banquet where my husband presented five awards, a very kind woman at our table asked me the never-ending question about....socialization. It's like the Dorothy and Toto jokes for those of us who live in Kansas ~ I sometimes was to say, in a voice rich with sarcasm, "You know, I have never heard that one before....!!") Those battlefields, we know how to prep for those.

But what about our own internal battlefields? What about those nagging fears that every mother has, but the homeschooling mom has on steroids? What if we completely jack up our kids to such an extent that they can never, ever function properly in society and their entire lives are ruined   -   because   -   of   -    us?!?

Now, I can't resolve all your concerns or give you miraculous peace in the midst of them. But I can point straight at the One who can! Jesus is always the answer, mama. Jesus is the only answer. And He is oh so very good us-toward. 

I want to encourage you to take a look back at my post on #Goals.  And then I want to encourage you to write out a few goals of your own. Where do you want your kids to end up when they leave the nest and spread the wings of adulthood? Write that down! Work on this over a few days or weeks; refine and hone it, or scrap it entirely and start again. But don't ignore it. Get something down on paper, spend time bathing it in prayer, and trust Jesus to get your kids across the finish line. 

He's a good God. It's a real shame we don't do a better job of trusting Him more with our homeschools, our kids, and their outcome as a result of being homeschooled by us. He is bigger than all that. He is a good God. 

Women who love their children and love their Jesus, give yourselves some grace today and trust Jesus more. Get those goals laid out before Him and watch to see what He might do in you, in your children, and in your homeschool. Remember, the battleground is real; the playground is a farce. Get in the battle and fight for what Jesus desires to do for your family.

Lord bless you today!

Day 366 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study 
& All Things Homeschool

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bible Promises to Live By for Women ~ Katherine J. Butler (book review)



This is my ideal when it comes to book reviews. 

Pretty cover? Check.

Solidly Biblical content? Check.

Dealing with prayer? Check.

Oh yes, this is my absolute favorite type of book to review.

Bible Promises to Live By for Women (by Katherine J. Butler) is truly a work of art. Concise but powerfully written insights fall just before a couple of pages of applicable Bible verses, all sorted neatly by topic. Perfect for reading from start to finish, praying through one topic a day. Also perfect for grabbing in the face of an urgent need, flipping to the area of concern, and praying in the right now. This books is truly wonderful.

I believe it would be a blessing for any mom this Christmas - it would be a great stocking stuffer for your teen and older daughters - it would make an excellent "thank you" for any woman you know who serves in any area of ministry. 

I love - love - love this book. It has secured it's spot on my bookshelf alongside books on prayer I often grab and utilize. I will probably take it with me when I travel from Kansas to Cleveland Heart Clinic in a couple of weeks (heart failure is no joke, but neither is the Word of God combined with prayer!)

I hope many women pick up a copy of this wonderful little treasure. It will most assuredly bless every single reader! 

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 5.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from Tyndale Publishers. All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Day 365 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Friday, November 3, 2017

Homeschool Goals


Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, in the social media sense, then you have most likely seen hashtag/Goals floating around. Millennials seem to love throwing this term around. To be honest, it's not a bad concept. We all have goals, right? 

So I was thinking about this idea of goals, and how using the hashtag almost sort of puts those goals "out there" for the whole world to see. It's like a unique form of accountability, in a way. If everyone knows your #Goals, then it stands to reason that everyone can check in with you about how those goals are coming along.

Several years ago, when I was relatively new to this whole homeschool thing, I wrote out a list of goals for us. I typed it up in a fun font, cleaned it up and centered it, printed it out and taped it to the kitchen wall (also known as the homeschool classroom). There is was for several years, right at my eye level in the room where I spent the majority of my waking hours Monday thru Friday. A constant reminder of the end goal I was hoping to reach. 

It was one of the best ideas I ever had for our little homeschool.

I'm going to share that list with you in today's blog post - but let me give you this disclaimer first: I often set lofty goals for myself. This list is not the exception. So, read it with a grain of salt and if there is anything worthwhile you can glean from it, that's awesome. If not, drive on! This homeschool blog is an absolute no-guilt zone!

Here it is:

                                       Burt Family Homeschool Goals

  • Each child should intimately know the Lord and serve Him in his/her own capacity, fully equipped to perform ministry to others and to family members.
  • Each child should be prepared to enter college, full-time ministry, or the marketplace with confidence and capability, being fully equipped to succeed.
  • Each child should be functional in relationships at home, at work, and within the body of the church, free of emotional hindrances, and prepared for marriage, work, friendships, and church relationships.
  • Each child should be fully capable of living independently, handling life situations efficiently and effectively, maturing in the Lord and seeking Him for life guidance.
  • Primarily, each child should find fulfillment in life by discovering and enjoying the gifts given them by God, and the path He has designed for each of them.

Those are the #Goals I laid out for our family many, many years ago. And you know what? I think we have hit the bulls-eye dead-on in most of these areas with all of our children. What a blessing! 

If you feel like it, write out a few goals of your own and see if it doesn't help you aim for something big in the course of your day-to-day life as a homeschooler. When we randomly aim, we hit either nothing at all or some odd random target that we never meant to hit at all. But when we aim at a clearly defined target, we tend to hit it - simply because we are keeping our eye on the prize. 

Lord bless you, and Lord bless the long-term results of your homeschool!

Day 364 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Master's Mind ~ The Art of Reshaping Your Thoughts by Lance Hahn (book review)

Great book.

I could actually complete this review with just those two words. I like this book that much.

I am not a self-help proponent, primarily because it simply does not work. So know that this book is definitely not one of those books and if one of those books is what you are looking for, you should probably keep looking. Lance Hahn's book "The Master's Mind" is a God-help kind of book. A book that points you to the Word of God and to Jesus and urges you to live daily in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.

The author covers so many topics in this written work, I would leave several out if I tried to list them all. He is thorough about the warfare happening for our minds, for our every thought. He wants the reader to realize what is really transpiring spiritually and how it directly impacts daily life - because there is a kernel of truth to the saying, "I think, therefore I am." What we think ~ about ourselves, about others, and most importantly about God ~ has a direct correlation to the way we live our lives day by day.

 Get your thinking right and your whole world changes. That's not a catchy phrase to highlight in a book but have no idea how to implement. That's truth. Think rightly about God and then think rightly about every other thing and person - that's pretty important if you want to master your mind and have the Master's Mind (i.e. the mind of Christ).

I think this is probably a good book for most every Christian to read at some point. It is written more like a series of sermons rather than a book of colloquial stories, but that's how I prefer to take my reading anyway.

My only caveat is this: if you buy the book, please read the book. Finish the book. It does no good half-read or sitting on a nightstand, binding in tact.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 5.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from Handlebar. All opinions shared here are solely my own. 

Day 363 done :)
Jan L. Burt

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Moms Need Friends Too...Right??


The one word homeschoolers dread hearing the most!

Why is it that people so readily assume that, if you homeschool, you and your children must have so much trouble making friends? interacting in social settings? holding a normal conversation? living life as a human being on this planet?

As women who home educate our children, we deal with this whole "socialization" thing on a multitude of levels.

When we first decide to homeschool, we may lose some old friends who just don't get why we are doing this. As we continue to homeschool, we may lose some friends because our time is allocated more toward our kiddos education and less toward normal "friendship-y" sorts of things. If we ~ GASP! ~ dare to continue to homeschool into the high school years, we again face the prospect of losing some friends who homeschooled in the younger years but feel high school is a bridge too far, for whatever reason (some of those reasons are legitimate - this is not an indictment on women who don't homeschool through the high school years). And alas, when you have finished your time as a homeschooling mother, you may lose friends who are still in the trenches of home education.

We may miss out on small groups and Bible studies during the homeschool years. Our social calendars are basically void of any activity sans those involving our children. A "field trip" to the local pet store that culminates in a 15-minute chat with a guy explaining the awesomeness of owning a ferret might be the closest thing you get to coffee with a friend this entire month...or even the entire year.

Yup. Socialization is a real issue for homeschoolers. Just not in the manner people think it's a problem.

So, what's a mom to do? Is there a solution for this dilemma?

I have done this whole mom gig for almost 25 years now, and have homeschooled all five of my children from preschool through high school graduation. I've taught them the ABC song and have conquered the Common Application for college. I have taught math using every curriculum under the sun (at least, that's how it feels) and I have used Winston Grammar until the flashcards were crumbling with age. I've mastered high school reading lists that make a college application *PoP* and I have documented more electives on transcripts than I choose to remember. My kids have built car engines and bookcases and even their own thriving small businesses. I have a daughter who is a boxer, for goodness sake (and a darn good one, at that). But I don't have any idea how to guarantee friendships for the homeschooling mother.

I do, however, have one thing that trumps all the things I don't have, and that is Jesus.

My best advice for socialization, dear mama, is to pray.  We need friends - we need fellowship. It's vital for our spiritual and emotional well-being. Therefore we need to be in prayer about this. And it needs to be specific prayer.

Mom, pray for friends. Ask the Lord to bring you the best possible friends for the season of life you are currently in. Ask Him often, and ask in faith, believing that He cares and He is able to grant your request. Ask Him to give you friendships that will propel you on in your walk with Him; friends who will help you to fulfill your role in His Kingdom right now.

I almost want to dare you to pray and see what God might do...but rather than dare you, I will just encourage you to pray about your own socialization as you homeschool. He loves you - ask Him for the right friends for your right now.

Lord bless you, homeschooling mother!

Day 362 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? (book review)

So, I received the book "When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?" by Jennifer Grant from Handlebar Press. I get a fair number of books to review & as a conservative Christian, I receive books written from that perspective...*mostly.

This book certainly had some poignant segments - things about life as a middle-aged woman that really hit home. Many, many things Jennifer described are things I have experienced. And many of those things came as a surprise to me, much in the way they seemed to surprise her. How can these events come as surprises when they happen to so many of us? Shouldn't we know exactly what to expect if it is the exact same thing so many tens of thousands have experienced? Somehow, the answer is no. Even those events that are the same are not the same at all. It's a bizarre truth, indeed, that not everything that is the same is the same at all.

As a Christian woman who considers her personal relationship with Jesus the most important part of her life, I have to say that this is not a book I totally agree with or would ever read were it not for review purposes. Yes, I truly can relate to much of the author's mid-life experiences. But no, I don't share her perspective on many things. She is more of on the leftist side of things than I am, if that makes sense. I don't intend to pick the book a part - I just disagree with some of her beliefs. And as most of my weblog readers are like-minded, this is just to let them know that the book may not be for them.

Also, I should note that this book is honest and serious and she lays out some real hard times in living color. I applaud her for her honesty. Few of us can live life bare before the world, so to speak - and Jennifer Grant does that in a remarkable manner. This is not a book of funny life-stories to help you laugh through your own hard times. It's real life, and real life in mid-life is usually pretty rough. Jennifer, thanks for writing the raw truth about what we all experience. That was very refreshing.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 31/2.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from Handlebar. All opinions shared here are solely my own. 

Day 361 done :)

 Jan L. Burt


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Homework for the Homeschool Mom

As the homeschool mama, I am the one doing the assigning and not usually the one receiving the assigning. I am sure you feel the exact same way. But today I am giving you, the mother who is (most likely) primarily in charge of her children's education, a homework assignment. And I really hope you will take the time to complete it!

The first part of your homework assignment is simple:

          Grab your Bible, turn to Matthew 25:14-30, and read it.

Re-read, highlight, underline or take notes on any portion(s) of this passage that stand out to you. Be an active reader. Read this while thinking about your own life. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about this passage.

Then, read it one more time.

Finally, the "hard" part of the assignment....

Sit quietly before the Lord, pen and paper in hand, and write what He speaks to your heart about this passage. Ask Him to show you where you are rightly using what He has given you for His glory and His purposes. And, on the more difficult side of the coin, ask Him to show you where you are not.

If you will take the time to do this - to agree with the Lord that He meant it when He said He will ask for an account of the assets He has given to each one of us - He will most certainly reveal something (or several things) to you. Let Him do that! And then honor Him by doing His will with what He has given.

Will this be difficult? Maybe...

Will this be scary? Possibly...

Will this be worth it? Definitely...

Lord bless you, homeschooling mom, as you complete your homework assignment! Feel free to leave a comment to let me know you got your homework done and to encourage other moms to do the same!

Day 360 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study (available on Amazon)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Not A Post I Ever Wanted to Write...

Okay, here goes nothing.

I have a serious heart condition. Or, more accurately, I have a couple of serious heart conditions that are somewhat conflicting and have made my treatment, shall we say, a bit tricky. Add to that some dissension between my cardiologist and my electrophysiologist regarding my treatment, and it becomes dicier still. And the cherry on top is that medication, even at it's lowest dose, is deadly for me (the mildest meds at half the lowest dose lower my resting heart rate to 30 beats per minute - a full dose would likely stop my heart, according to my doctors). So, meds are out.

And the beginning of my journey from Wichita, Kansas to Cleveland, Ohio, to pursue treatment at the Cleveland Heart Clinic is my next step. It's going to be " 'spensive" to quote Lucille Ball. So some of my family members (two of my aunts and my hubby, to be exact) have teamed up & started a YouCaring page to help raise the necessary funds.

I seriously dislike sharing about my heart, but I guess it's not a bad thing to ask for prayer for these next few months. So, there it is....the post I never wanted to write has, in fact, been written.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and thanks to all who have already been praying for me, and to anyone who prays for me in the future. I am blessed by the concern shown me by so many.

And here is a link to the YouCaring page ~ but there is zero pressure from me to click on the link ('cuz I don't believe in pressure, I believe in the leading of the Holy Spirit!)


Lord bless you all!

Day 359 done :)
Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Old Age in Your Young Age

An old saying goes something like this:

         “For the foolish, old age is like winter; for the wise, it is a harvest.”

Read that one more time and ponder it for a moment.

What truth does that speak to your mind, to your heart, homeschooling mother? What do you hear the Lord saying to you? How can you live today so that you will have a harvest in your old age?

It will always be far easier to be in a bit of a foul mood on any given day ~ this day! Far easier to gripe a little here and moan a little there. The hard, right choice to make is to live learning from today so that you reap that harvest when you are gray and wrinkly. But you cannot make hard, right choices if you do not decide in advance to make those hard, right choices. Being joyful in your day to day life as a busy mom requires that you yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him produce fruit that is worth harvesting. This cannot be manufactured in your own strength. Nothing worth anything can.

It’s so easy to live today so that tomorrow is a long, icy winter. Far more difficult, and far more vital, is living today so tomorrow is a perpetual harvest.

Be blessed today as you live in anticipation of your many tomorrows.

Day 358 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study