A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Sunday, August 28, 2011

TOS Crew Product Review ~ "How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids" by Rachael Carman (Apologia Press)

This is my first product review for this year's TOS Crew, and I cannot think of a better way to start the year off than with a fabulous little book by Rachael Carman entitled, "How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids" (published by Apologia Press, copyright 2011).


I began reading this book the day I received it and I have been gleaning powerful nuggets of truth and encouragement from it ever since. It very quickly joined the ranks of my "must-read" homeschool books and is one that I will keep close at hand throughout the rest of my days as a homeschooling mother. I don't say that lightly - the book really is that good.

The author, Rachael Carman, is a seasoned homeschool mother of seven, and she openly shares about her struggles even as she pours out great wisdom. The book is written with such a sense of genuineness that it's hard not to feel as if you know her personally. And while she relates so well on a personal level, she also spurs her readers on in their walk with the Lord in ways that challenge but don't intimidate.

The book itself is a 205 page hardcover and consists of an introduction, five chapters, an epilogue, and acknowledgements. Rachael turned the word "HEART" into an acronym for a talk she gave before a homeschool group several years ago, and that talk formed the basis for this book. The acronym is:

H ~ Have a heart for the things of God.
E ~ Enrich your marriage.
A ~ Accept your kids.
R ~ Release them to God.
T ~ Teach them the truth.

Without giving away any of the treasures you will discover for yourself upon reading "How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids", I'd like to share a little about this book. Rachael opens with the "true story" of her family, and her honesty is refreshing - it allows any mom reading the book to see that ups and downs, failures and successes, are as much a part of life as breathing oxygen. She shares about her journey to becoming a homeschooling mother, and her frankness is rare withing the homeschool community. The bread-baking, dress-sewing, I-knew_I-was-going-to-homeschool-before-my-kids-were-born stories are much easier to find, and while there isn't a thing in the world wrong with baking your own bread or knowing you would homeschool the day you first experienced morning sickness, the reality is that homeschooling is hard work. And anything that is just plain hard work can be just plain hard to commit to. Many homeschooling moms need to know they aren't failures because God had to do some convincing and convicting as He drew them toward homeschooling. On page 22, Rachael bravely shares her reaction to her husband's suggestion to homeschool. What a relief it is to see her in all her "realness" I just have to say, "Thank you, Rachael!" for opening wide the door for those of us who, ahem, do not have it all together. I see Jesus in her words - His power made perfect in her weakness.

I could not choose which chapter touched me the most, as they all made an impact on my heart as a mom. But the specific focus of Chapter 2 (E. for Enrich Your Marriage) reminds me that before I was my children's mother, I was their father's wife. And once they leave home and have families of their own, I will still be his wife. It was my calling first and it will be my calling until death separates my husband and myself. Enriching my marriage blesses every aspect of our home life, including our homeschool. It is far too easy for us to allow homeschooling, and thereby our children, to become our priority. But we cannot let our kids, our homes, our schooling to push our husbands out of the way. Rachael's words are wise and women who hope to grow in God's grace as wives and as mothers will heed what she has to share.

If you only buy one book for you as the "mom" in your homeschool this year, make it this book. "How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids" by Rachael Carman will change the way you think about your kids, your homeschool, and possibly even yourself. You can purchase it for $13 at (this is a direct link to the product page).

While at the website, you can learn more about their excellent college prep science curriculum, sign up for their free newsletter, see their event schedule, enjoy free webinars to seminars, and much more. ( - this links to their home page)


Thanks for taking the time to read my first TOS Crew product review for the 2011-2012 cruise & may the Lord bless you and your family today in a multitude of ways!

To see more TOS Crew reviews, visit

Day 111 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Short Post - Two Announcements & a Prayer Request

Today's post is short - just want to announce that I will be reviewing Christian books for BookSneeze. Watch for my first review sometime in the next 10 days or so. Here's a link to the BookSneeze website if you'd like to learn more about them:

I review for BookSneeze®

The second announcement is on behalf of my 13-year-old daughter Savanna. Some of you may remember me mentioning her polymer clay pieces in previous blog posts. She has taken her craft to the next level and has created her own YouTube account. Her videos show the things she has crafted and she hopes to expand to teaching videos. To see what she has to offer, go to YouTube and search for SavanasClayCreations (yes, her name is misspelled but it is intentional in order to fit the title of her channel in the limited character space!).

Here is a direct link to her YouTube channel:

My prayer request is on behalf of my son Gage. We just moved him to Wheaton College outside of Chicago, and he is doing great and loves the campus. However, a few days ago his Achilles tendon ruptured very suddenly and now he needs surgery. If you think of him during the next couple of weeks, would you mind praying for a quick recovery, ease getting around campus on crutches for the next 6 weeks, financial provision for our family as we travel from Kansas to the Chicago area more frequently than we had planned on, and for Gage to have rides to and from his ortho and physical therapy appointments (freshman can't have cars and taxis are expensive for a kid in college)? Thanks for praying - watch for an update on Gage's condition next week. (His surgery is on Thursday, September 1st at 11am).

That's my blog post for today - enjoy your Sunday as you worship the Lord!

I'll be posting a TOS review tomorrow on a terrific book that is a MUST HAVE for every homeschool mom.

Day 110 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Burt Family Christian Academy Classes Resume ToMoRRoW!!

So tomorrow marks the official start of our family's fourteenth year of homeschooling. Can I just say "WOW" about the fact that it's been that long and that we're still going strong?! Not that I actually have much to do with our successes (but I will take full credit for our many failures!). It's all God, all the time; I'm just along for the ride.

The girls have examined their planners to see what the first few days of school will bring - three of them are ready to go and one of them is, well, less enthusiastic about the resumption of her academic duties. This year is unique in that our homeschool is no longer co-ed, so to speak. My husband arrives home from work after the school day is done and our son is now at college. It's an all-girl homeschool, and I am sure that will bring some challenges right along with it's many blessings.

We plan on having home-ec classes that are lengthier (think high school classes organized in blocks - perhaps Tuesdays and Thursdays will be home ec days with 90 minutes for cooking). A primary focus this year will be for them to learn in great detail what Titus 2 and 1 Timothy living look like in the life of a wife and mother. I have a great opportunity to pour into my daughters things that will be of huge significance all the days of their lives. And I'll be doing it all at the Lord's leading, since my own leading tends to lead everyone following me right into a ditch.

Of course, we will still be doing all the traditional school subjects. There is no need to neglect one aspect of an education in order to achieve excellence in another area. It can all be taught with excellence, and the busy homeschool mom can become a wife who is happy to see her husband each evening. One thing I do to help ensure that my role as wife is not superseded by my role as a homeschooler is to NOT over plan/over schedule/over-anything. In order to teach my girls how to be content as "keepers at home" I need to be at home. We don't need to do every activity that presents itself - that is something of a lie that has been pawned off as a deserved part of the American dream. And what on earth ever made us think that our daughters would look forward to motherhood when they see us continually stressed and grumbling due to our jam-packed schedules and overwhelmed lifestyles?? Okay, I'll get off my soap box now...

And for those times when I feel ill-equipped for the task God has called me to, I rely on His Word. It never fails to return to Him void, but accomplishes all that He means for it to accomplish.

Isaiah 46:4 ~ "I will sustain you and I will rescue you."

Now that's a pretty terrific promise to lean on when I'm feeling inadequate!

Hebrews 13:8 ~ "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Whatever new challenges might arise on any given day, I can remember all the ways Jesus has cared for me through thick and thin. Knowing that He never changes reminds me that He will continue to care for me, come what may.

Proverbs 29:25 ~ "Whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe."

What a vivid reminder that He promises to keep me safe as I trust in Him!

So what verses are you studying as you begin a new year of homeschooling? What is the Lord God Almighty teaching you about Him even while you are teaching your children? Prepare yourself for good things this year, because He has good things in mind for you and has a great plan to fulfill His purposes for you!

Happy back-to-homeschool!

Day 109 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Homeschool Help from Proverbs

Homeschooling moms have the unique challenge of blending two roles into one: that of educator and parent. Some seem to do it seamlessly, while others among us draw distinct lines in the sand (teacher until 3pm - mom after 3pm). No matter how you go about the daily task of teaching while mothering, remember to put God's Word at the center of both roles and you'll be blessed.

Proverbs 16:1 in the New Living Translation reads, "We can gather our thoughts, but the LORD gives the right answer."

I find this verse enormously comforting as I embark upon our fourteenth year of home education. To be honest, I also find this verse enormously challenging. Sad as it is to admit, there are times when I don't even bother to gather my thoughts before I blurt out something to my children. Other times I do attempt to gather my thoughts in order to give a sound and wise answer, and once in a while the answer I provide is the one God would have me to give :)

But I need to always be willing to yield fully to the Lord, allowing His answer to be the one I convey. This short sentence made up of twelve words packs a powerful punch. If I will heed what the Lord says in these twelve little words, my roles as mom and teacher will be impacted positively. My children will learn more (because they will receive the right answer - no matter the question they're asking!) and my parenting will accomplish more (because I will receive the right answer - no matter the problem I'm facing!).

My prayer for you at the start of the 2011-2012 homeschool year is that you will yield to the Lord and allow His answer to be the only one you need in any and every situation.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we will leave Wichita, Kansas and head northeast to move our firstborn to Wheaton College in the Chicago area. Watch for a post with pictures following the big move; our son Gage is very excited to begin the next step on God's chosen path for his life!

Day 108 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Monday, August 8, 2011

What a Summer Break is Meant to Do

Way back when I was young, I believed summer break was about sleeping in, swimming and reading lots and lots of books. Of course, when we lived in Arizona we were able to swim year round, and as an avid reader books were high on my list of priorities year round. So I guess sleeping in was the only real advantage summer held over the other four seasons!

These days, summer break is about homeschool planning, youth group mission trips, sorting and organizing as much of the house as I am able, taking a family vacation, and brand new this year ~ moving our firstborn to college. (Go ahead, feel sorry for me and remind me that I've done a good job and he's meant to leave home at this stage in his life...I need to hear that over and over again, it seems!). Since the inevitable move to Wheaton, Illinois is just around the corner (10 days away, to be exact) I think I'll focus on our family vacation for this blog post.

Some of you may recall that we took our vacation in late May and were blessed to enjoy 2 1/2 weeks of leisure time in sunny Florida. And you may also be thinking that May was a while ago - isn't it time for me to stop thinking about that long-since-over vacation?? And my answer would be, NO! I think the end goal of a family vacation is to make great memories - and memories are no good if we don't actually recall them. So remembering a great vacation is a huge part of what makes it so, well, memorable :)

While in Florida, we visited the Disney World parks with two of our greatest friends in the whole wide world (known as J & J on my blog). You see them in the photo that heads up this blog. (Yes, it says there should be 9 of us in the picture but my hubby was taking the picture - but he's still a part of the equation because he was on vacation with us!) J & J have done Disney 15 years in a row. They know those parks inside and out! Not to mention they totally "get" our family's quirky sense of humor and are also healthy enough to tell us to "buzz off" for a while when they needed some time for themselves. (Healthy friendships only happen when your friends are emotionally healthy - just thought I'd throw that in for no extra charge!)

Hands down the best day of the trip was "STAR WARS Weekend" at Disney's Hollywood Studios. We had an idea about what we needed to do in order to take full advantage of this unique event, but leave it to our fantastic friends J & J to spend their afternoon finding out all the specific details to ensure our family got the full effect, so to speak. After all, Disney is full of princesses 365 days of the year - and that's pretty cool for our 4 lovely daughters! (Okay, our youngest likes toy guns more than toy dolls, but humor me here!). Our 18-year-old son could have been a little overwhelmed by princess-o'rama. He's a good kid, so he wouldn't complain even if he were in a catatonic state due to an excess of pink ruffles and tiaras. But the fact that STAR WARS Weekend landed on our trip made it a super fun time for him, too.

So around 1:30 a.m. my son, our 16-year-old daughter and my husband left our resort to secure their place in line, which would ensure they received the necessary arm band to meet my son's favorite STAR WARS actor (he's really more of a stunt man than an actor, I guess). And when it was time for my husband to return to the resort and pick up the rest of us for our day at Hollywood Studios, none other than J & J were there to hang out with our two oldest as they rushed to get the correct FAST PASSES needed to meet Ray Park. And they probably rode a few rides while waiting on us, too.

My words and the few pictures I'll share won't suffice to how much fun we had that day. There were Storm Troopers referring to my husband as "rebel scum", Darth Vader "choked" my 13-year-old daughter (it sounds creepy, but it was actually pretty cool), I was asked why I had on a Jedi Training Academy shirt but wasn't in proper academy attire when out in public, and my two oldest teens had multiple incidents with Storm Troopers. Here is a picture of my son Gage being "arrested" by a Trooper:

Isn't that a great picture?

And here is my daughter Alexandra going head-to-head with a Storm Trooper:

Another great photo op moment:

The point of this is to remember how much fun we had on this vacation, and to encourage you to make memories with your family this summer. You still have plenty of time to choose the things that you will remember for years to come, whether it's a night at the drive-in or a trip to Orlando.

In fact, why not try to make a memory every single day? Sounds like a pretty good way to live to me!

Day 107 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some Encouragement for August

Well, it's officially August and here in Kansas that equates to very warm weather. This year, however, has been unseasonably hot and I would be okay with a few days in August that registered under 100 on the mercury!

August is the month when I finalize my homeschool prep for the upcoming year. And this August is the month we will move our son to Wheaton, Il. for his freshman year of college. My homeschool planning has been combined with college planning. For the first time in my history as a mom, I've found myself buying items for his dorm room along with homeschool supplies.

And yes, it has made me consider how quickly the time has gone by. It really wasn't that long ago that my husband and I were choosing a name for our soon-to-be-born son. We had no idea he would be our only son, and that we would have four daughters by the time our first born was seven. We did not know we would be a homeschool family. I could not have imagined all the twists and turns our lives would take during our first 20 years of marriage. But God knew, and that is enormously comforting to me. (BTW, we did end up with a name for our son - Gage Kennedy Burt - Gage means "strong, true and brave" and Kennedy is an Irish name that embraces my heritage; both names fit him perfectly).

I've shared before that part of my summer routine is to seek the Lord's will for the upcoming academic year and ask Him to lead me to some Bible verses that will sustain me over the next 9 or 10 months. Some summers I only find one or two verses, but this summer I have been blessed with a whole lot of them! What a gift from the Lord - during this time of great transition in our homeschool, and a time of happiness mingled with sadness for me as a mother, He has graciously given me an abundance of comfort from His Word. I'd like to share a few of those verses with my fellow homeschooling moms.

Colossians 3:15 - "And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful."

Proverbs 15:15 - "But the cheerful heart has a continual feast."

Hebrews 6:10 - "For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other Christians, as you still do."

Ezekiel 37:14 - "I will put my spirit in you, and you will live and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord. You will see that I have done everything just as I promised. I, the Lord, have spoken."

1 John 3:19 (in part) - "...we set our hearts at rest in His presence."

John 1:14b - "He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness."

Philippians 3:1a - "Whatever happens...may the Lord give you joy."

Proverbs 13:12 - "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.

Hosea 6:3 - "Let us acknowledge the Lord, let us press on to acknowledge Him."

Nehemiah 8:10 - "The joy of the Lord is your strength."

Hebrews 6:15 - "Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised."

These verses are just a sampling of ways the Lord has used His Word to comfort, encourage and prepare me this summer. So while it has been stiflingly hot outside, I have been more refreshed in the Lord's presence than if I were sitting near a stream enjoying a cool breeze. His Word is Living and Active and I am so thankful for it!

Be blessed this warm August and may the Lord encourage and bless you in your homeschool preparations!

Day 106 done :)

Jan L. Burt