A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman (Updated and Revised) by Lane P. Jordan

The book 12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman (Practical Tips for Managing Your Home and Your Family) by Lane P. Jordan is the type of book you keep on the bookshelf to read and re-read regularly. To say it plainly - I really like this book! Lane is genuine and she is very skilled at offering solid advice that is do-able, aligns with God's Word, and covers pretty much every area of a woman's life.

This updated edition deals with things in our lives that really were not an issue in the early '90's. Smart phones? Facebook? Twitter? All things I use daily (even when writing this book review) but unheard of not so long ago...unless you attended Harvard, then you know what Facebook really is.

In many ways the need to be more organized is more important for women today than ever before. We're tempted with time consumers all day long, every single day. And where our time goes, our days go, our relationships go, our homes go, our lives go. Organizing your life is what this book is really about. And I am thankful for it's timely message.

Rather than chapters, each section is referred to as a "Step".  Each step opens with a verse from the Bible. Lane begins where a woman who loves the Lord should begin - her daily walk with God. We can't live the lives He has planned for us on our own. We have to rely on Him from the time we arise until each day has ended. The author offers advice about how to make God's priorities our priorities. Each step ends with a "Bringing It Home" segment, including another verse, questions for reflection, and a short paragraph on practical application. The reader is given tools to make her life more organized for real, not simply on paper.

Topics discussed include:  marriage, outreach, time, career, health, children, emotions, and more. The author of 12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman is frank, but never pushy. Honest, open and warm in her frankness - something of a Titus 2 mentor in between the front and back cover of this book. Don't just read Lane's book - apply it. The new year is a great time to start living a more organized life.

Lane P. Jordan's book is available on Amazon HERE.

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

I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Day 296 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Perfumed Letters by Robin T. Smith

The book Perfumed Letters (written by Robin T. Smith) came wrapped in a gift bag, with a hand-written note from the author. That was a pleasant surprise - not the way a book usually arrives in my mailbox! 

Perfumed Letters isn't a terribly long book, and is very easy to read. The author's writing style is genuine, as if she's talking to a close friend. Robin truly knows God's Word and is able to apply it to different life situations with seeming ease. Her analogy of a variety of perfumes is a good way to compare and contrast Godly attributes in a woman to those that are worldly in nature. 

Perfumed Letters, to me, is a book aimed at moving women toward maturity in Christ. Moving beyond simply being content with salvation (sometimes referred to as fire insurance). An example of the kind of things the author challenges her readers with include a question posed on page 18 that reads, "Do you still handle conflict and problems the same way you did as a seventeen-year-old girl?"  What a great question! And when answered honestly, the reader could be spurred to move toward a spiritually mature way of dealing with conflict. She also ends each chapter with a "Reflection", which is essentially a wrap-up paragraph aimed at getting the reader to apply God's Word to their life before moving ahead to the next chapter. I liked this addition to each chapter very much.

My blog's name is Encouraging Moms Who Homeschool and I aim to do exactly that. As a part of my commitment to post things that encourage homeschooling mothers, I feel I must share that this book has quite a bit of content that is not suitable for my blogging audience. I work hard to stick with my clear and intended purpose of encouraging women, and even though I do not like to be harsh when reviewing some one's work, I do have to be honest with my readers. There really is no way I would ever allow my daughters to read this book, and I could not ever see myself recommending it to a homeschooler. But that's not to say that many women would not be blessed by Perfumed Letters. It just isn't a good fit for me, my family, or my blog audience. There is a strong sexual "tone" to this book that is disconcerting to me - the wording is the type that goes against the Biblical principle I follow to not even allow a hint of in my home, or in my heart (see Ephesians 5:3-5).

Thank you for taking the time to read my review of this book, and please note that if you would like to read it, it is available at Amazon HERE.

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

I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

 Day 295 done :)

Jan L. Burt

The Perfect Score Project - Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT by Debbie Stier

The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier is a fascinating book (borne out of a fascinating plan!) - 281 pages, 20 chapters of SAT prep information wrapped in the true story of a mom who took the SAT seven times while working to encourage her son to do his best rather then settling for mediocrity. Is that novel, or what?!? You don't have the opportunity to read about this type of undertaking every day; needless to say, I was very interested in Debbie's story.

The Perfect Score Project is an informative, well-written book that makes the reader feel right at home as soon as you turn to page 1. Each chapter has "info boxes" that contain valuable tidbits to help your student get the most from their SAT preparation ~ so no worries that this book just tells Debbie Stier's tale of taking a difficult standardized test over and over again. Nope, the book doesn't just tell her tale, it gives loads of excellent information that moms of high-school students can use.

Here is an example of the type of advice you'll find in The Perfect Score:

                Characteristics of a Great Test Location
                         ~ classrooms, rather than gymnasiums or cafeterias ,are used for testing
                         ~ full-size desks & chairs (versus chairs with attached tablet desks)
                         ~ a visible clock in the testing room
                         ~ proctors who abide by official test rules

As a homeschooling mom with two kids in college and three still at home, I can tell you that tips like these really do make a big difference in the score your student gets on the SAT. (And in case you're wondering, "How on earth do I find a great test location?" no worries; she tells you how in the book!) She was tackling this project in 2011, and there may be a few changes that have taken place since then. My oldest graduated in 2011, so I have experience with the SAT in the same frame of time that Debbie's book relates. My second oldest graduated in 2013, and there were some changes to the College Board website and the admission ticket (specifically it now requires a photo of the student on the ticket itself - so have a pic your teen likes saved to your desktop...because they WILL gripe if you use a picture they don't find flattering!)

As a mother who was asked to participate in a Q&A session/private interview with College Board representatives, and one who has perused the site fairly extensively, I feel somewhat qualified to say that this book is a good resource to have on hand if you have a child considering college. And why take a chance with a test score that could save tens of thousands of dollars in student loans? A good score = money for college. Resources that lead to a good score = a great investment.

I do, however, have to share a disclaimer. I'm a homeschooling mother, and the official name of my blog is "Encouraging Moms Who Homeschool". That is why I write - to encourage homeschooling mothers. And I'm not quiet about my faith in Jesus Christ on my blog. So it won't come as any surprise when I say that this book, as it is written to an audience that is much broader than the audience my blog is written for, is not what I'd call "clean". There is language that I do not approve of ~ curse words and misuse of God's name. Not on every page, and maybe it's mild as compared to other non-Christian books. But I cannot post a review of this book to my specific audience and leave out those details. It bothered me when reading the book, and I assume it would also bother others.

The book as a whole is really a gem, a treasure-trove of insight and an honest look at a mom's concern for her son's future. Overall I loved it. And overall I highly recommend it. (And I don't really ever recommend books that have any foul language in them - so my recommendation says a whole lot about the value of the subject matter covered in The Perfect Score Project.)

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

To learn more about the book, visit  or read more @ Random House online.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Day 294 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

A Fair Warning...

This brief post is to inform my blog followers that I'm about to post several book reviews in a row. I'm hammering them out, as I've had time to do some reading during our Christmas break and I'm going to post the reviews while the content is fresh in my mind.

That was my PSA regarding the coming onslaught of book reviews...consider yourselves warned!

Day 293 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Samson ~ A Savior Will Rise by Shawn Hoffman

Have you ever glanced over a book's cover, quickly read it's description, and thought you understood what the book was about? But then as you read the book, you found it contained much more than you ever imagined? That's basically what happened to me with the book Samson ~ A Savior Will Rise by Shawn Hoffman.

The book is based on true events that took place in Auschwitz during WWII. In great, heart-breaking detail Samson describes life in the camp for a Jewish boxer who was "recruited" to participate in weekly entertainment for the officers at Auschwitz, including Rudolf Hoss and Josef Mengele. While the book contains facts about many different people who endured life (and death) at Auschwitz, the author compiles multiple true events into the life of one man, Samson Abrams, and his family. It is a riveting read, one of the best books I have ever read...but it is in no way an easy read. Think you know all about the Nazis? You don't. Certain you have a complete grasp on the extent of their evil? Think again. If you read this book, you will read about real events that happened to real people, many of them young children, that will haunt you. That's a warning, but it's also the reason Samson is such an important book. It's dangerous for us to forget what took place at the hands of crazed Germans. It's dangerous for us to simply look away when things are "too much" for us. It's dangerous to squeeze our eyes tightly shut, cover our ears with our hands, and say, "I don't want to know..." 

Shawn Hoffman is an author who paints a picture with words that draws you in. You can see the events play out in your mind as you read. As far as writer's go, he excels at his craft. I will keep an eye out for his books in the future, and look forward to seeing more of his words in print.

Carefully consider whether or not you will read this book - don't take the decision lightly. You won't be sorry if you choose to read it, and there's no shame in skim-reading or skipping chapter 14 entirely....but know that if you do read Samson, your eyes will be open to things that will break your heart. I am thankful the author wrote this book, and I am horribly saddened that it ever had need to be written at all.

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 BookSneeze. All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Day 292 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Friday, December 20, 2013

Be a Homeschooling Mother Who Enjoys Christmas

Here we are, a few short days away from Christmas. In all likelihood, you have already finished your lessons and are in the midst of your Christmas break. And perhaps you are also struggling to enjoy the blessings of the season.

For many of us, and for a variety of reasons, Christmas can be overwhelming and stressful. In light of all the Facebook posts, Tweets, and blogs that have already addressed the need to slow down and relax and enjoy this time of year, I'll keep this short and sweet.

Here's my one piece of advice for you this Christmas ~

          I have absolutely no advice...I'll simply encourage you to give yourself permission to enjoy yourself right where you're at this Christmas. 

That's it - there's my profound wisdom for all who are having a rough go of things this December. Give yourself permission to ENJOY your life.  You might just be surprised at the way God blesses you when you let yourself be fully at rest in Him.

Lord bless you this Christmas!

Day 291 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

P.S. ~   If you are looking for a way to focus more on Jesus in 2014, or are considering doing something new and different to kick off the New Year, my book The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study is one affordable option. See my website for more details or leave a comment & I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ministering to Problem People in Your Church (What to Do With Well-Intentioned Dragons) by Marshall Shelley

The book Ministering to Problem People in Your Church by Marshall Shelley was written primarily for pastors and others in full-time ministry. It's filled with real life stories of struggles that happen within the church, and aims to help those in ministry cope with difficult situations in a manner that leaves no room for bitterness.

At least, that's what I choose to believe this book is aiming to accomplish. Of course I knew from the title alone that this was not going to be an easy read. The subject matter is heart-breaking and could even be discouraging - but I expected that. What I didn't expect was to feel so "at-odds" with the author's demeanor toward the "problem people" whose "problems" are shared in the book. I do not think that they ought to be referred to as "dragons".  Um, excuse me? Dragons? I thought it was a name that might fit those who were attempting to cause a church split or who weren't believers in Jesus Christ as Lord (those people do end up in our congregations, you know). But when I began to understand that the author lumped so many people into the "dragon" category, I found this book leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Don't get me wrong - as someone who has been involved in ministry through the years, I understand that some people can be a bit "dragon-ish". But as I read this book, I seemed to be continually waiting for the other shoe to drop...and it really never did. One example cited tells the story of a pastor dealing with a church member who brought lots of "church issues" to his attention. Sure, she was wearying and a bit exaggerating, but when she came to him with facts this his own adult, married daughter was involved in a relationship with another married church member, and he still considered this woman a "dragon", well I just could not wrap my heart or head around this authors logic. That is outright, undeniable sin and the attitude in this book that somehow the person bringing the sin into the light was the bad person, the "dragon", just does not fit with the Word of God. The adultery is barely addressed; the difficult person who called out the sin was the focus. Pardon me for being so frank, but I'm thinking that the pastor should have been a whole lot more concerned about his daughter's spiritual state and the collateral damage inflicted upon two marriages and a whole lot less annoyed by this "dragon".

Can you tell how much I dislike the constant use of the term "dragon" in this book???

The gist of my review is based on more than that which was cited above. But I'll stop beating a dead horse. I tried to find some encouragement, some wise counsel, something to apply to the difficult situations those in ministry must face head-on...but anything of that nature was so overshadowed by stories like the one I referenced, it was just not possible for me to find any real use for this book. Maybe someone reading this review can use the book to help their ministry; I'm just one person sharing one opinion.

Here's a link to find it on Amazon.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 1.  And that may be too generous.

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

Day 290 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Can A Little Change Make A Big Difference?

So I recently went to see my eye doctor. Praise the Lord, all the news was good and my prescription had only changed a little teeny bit. My 17-year-old daughter also had her eye exam at the same time, and I let her lead the charge on picking out our new frames. She choose red Ray-Bans and they are adorable on her! And she helped me settle on a pair of deep purple Oakleys. Let me just say, deep purple + Oakley =  me a bit outside my comfort zone.

Well most people who know me well have told me they like the Oakleys. And I really like them, too. They're fun and as I'm not getting any younger, I figure my days of young eye wear are numbered. May as well enjoy fun glasses while I still can, right?!?

Turns out I've noticed a little something weird now that I have these deep purple Oakleys stuck on my face all day long. Something I really did not expect. People treat me differently now. Not people that I know ~ but people at the grocery store or the bank or the drive-thru and so on. People that do not know me at all treat me very, very differently than they did before I got my new eye duds.

Before you scoff and say, "Nah...that's ridiculous!" let me say that I spent a lot of time figuring out exactly why I was getting a different vibe when I'm out running errands and doing mom-type-stuff. Was I being rude in some way? Hmm, nope - just being as polite as I normally was. Maybe this person was just having a bad day. Well that idea went out the window when I realized not everyone could be having a bad day! And it really went out the window when the "niceness" factor to people before me and after me in line was exponentially greater as compared to my treatment!

I'm used to people saying, "Thank you, sweetie - have a wonderful day!" and things of that nature. (Yes, I am too old to be referred to as "sweetie" but I actually got that a lot...before the Oakleys!) So imagine how strange it was for me to get absolutely no response to my "Thank you! Have a blessed day!" Seriously, some people will not even look me in the eye or reply to my is really bizarre!

So I may end up doing a completely non-scientific experiment (non-scientific because I cannot gauge people's mood and disposition in such uncontrolled settings as retail outlets during the month of December) and wear my last pair of glasses to see if people are any nicer to me.

And in case you think I'm the only person who has ever pondered something like this (a total waste of time and brain energy to most people...) I can say that the book blink by Malcolm Gladwell contains compelling evidence that many of our decisions are made without any cognitive thought on our part, especially those immediate, first-impressions. (Great book, if you're looking for a new read.)

Maybe I will post a follow-up if I find my old glasses get me more "Thank you, sweetie" type of comments. Or maybe I'll just keep wondering about this weirdness occurring in my life as of late!

Have a terrific day, whether the checkout lady or bank teller acknowledges your presence or not! The Lord knows you and His love for you is what really matters.

Day 289 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Friday, December 6, 2013

Knowing God By Name ~ A Girlfriends In God Faith Adventure (Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, Mary Southerland)

You may have heard of Girlfriends In God (GIG). The 3 women who make up the GIG team write devotions, speak at conferences, and generally encourage women to walk closely with the Lord.The book Knowing God By Name ~ A Girlfirends In God Faith Adventure draws from the hearts of Sharon, Gwen and Mary to form an 8-week devotional & Bible study resource.

I hate to admit this...but when I first began reading Knowing God by Name, I did not really like it. Don't get me wrong - I was excited to do a book review on a devotional with a focus on the Names of God. But the first several pages just didn't jump out at me...and I kind of figured I'd finish reading the book for the review, not for my own spiritual growth. Uh-hum, well, uh, yeah...I was completely wrong. Knowing God By Name is not only a terrific devotional that I will read and re-read throughout the coming years; it is also an excellent Bible study and would be a great addition to any small group.

The difficulty in writing this review comes as I attempt to choose which devotions are my "favorites". In the end I decided I cannot really choose which ones are best; many of them spoke to me in beautiful, powerful ways about God's nature and His great love. Likewise I cannot choose which of the authors is my "favorite". They each have a unique style, and each style carries it's own unique brand of blessing. Knowing God By Name is put together in such a way that's it appears seamless as it moves from one author to another.

Despite my initial misgivings, I am so glad I read this book. It has revealed much to me about the heart and character of our Lord by studying the meaning of His many names. I highly recommend this book for women who love the Lord and want to grow in their walk; I also believe it could be used as a resource for those who home educate.

To learn more about GIG, click HERE.  For information on Knowing God By Name, go HERE. For other details about the book, click HERE. And to read a sneak peek excerpt, go HERE.

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

If you happen to be looking for an excellent Christmas gift for women you know, consider Knowing God By Name. You won't regret it, and neither will the recipient!

Disclaimer ~ I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Lord bless!

Day 288 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Monday, December 2, 2013

Take a DEEP Breath...It Is, Indeed, December

It sounds so cliche to say something along the lines of, "Can you believe how quickly this year has flown by?" or "How can it be December already?"  And yet here I am wondering how on earth the year 2013 could possibly be drawing to a close.

Maybe because we have temperatures in the 50s today here in Kansas, or perhaps because Thanksgiving fell later on the calender than it usually does (leaving fewer days before Christmas), or maybe it's just that I'm in my forties and I life moves faster than it used to. Whatever the reason, I feel like this Christmas season could come and go before I even have a chance to worship the Lord who was born in order that He might die for us. I do not want that to happen. So I'm doing things a bit differently this year.

We do not have our tree up yet. Or our outdoor decorations. That's kind of a rarity for our house. But we traded the time we would have normally spent decorating for time spent with our entire family while our two oldest were home from college for Thanksgiving. And that was a smart trade. In fact, I am pretty sure we will utilize that smart trade all month long. We're putting up fewer decorations inside, kind of keeping things simple this year. And we're choosing how we'll spend our time carefully.

One difference in our homeschool this December stands out, because it's really not normal for me at all. I usually have a plan for this month's homeschooling ~ either we work ridiculously hard and try to get a whole lot done up until a few days before Christmas and then we break until after the New Year; or we work hard through November so we can take it slower during December, and then we hit the ground running in January. But this year I'm not applying either of those methods. I'm simply enjoying the pace of life that the Lord sets for me each week...each day. And you know what? I really, really like it.

Who knows, maybe my high-strung self has flown the coop and the "new me" is here to stay. Life is too short, time with family too precious, keeping a focus on my Lord too vital, for me to be anything but fully relaxed, fully trusting and fully yielded to His will for me and my family.

Yup, it's December. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly...and choose not to panic but instead to rest in Him and let Him be your delight.

Lord bless you this Christmas!

Day 287 done :)

Jan L. Burt

author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hebrews (The Nearness of King Jesus) ~ from Lisa Harper

Have you ever wanted to study the book of Hebrews? Or maybe you've been looking for a new Bible study for your church's women's ministry. The new study by Lisa Harper (from LifeWay) may be exactly what you need!

I am super excited to be a part of the launch team for Hebrews, so you'll be seeing more about this study on my blog, pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. But if you 'd like to take a look at Hebrews - The Nearness of King Jesus, visit .

Here's a quote from Lisa Harper ~

Isn't that a fabulous thought?

As you prepare for Thanksgiving this week, be sure to thank your Savior for His lavish gift of grace and the freedom that it brings.

Lord bless you!

Day 286 done :)

Jan L. Burt

author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Faith ~ Joseph's Story (A Novel & Christian Bible Study) by Sandra Lea Hardage

The book Faith ~ Joseph's Story (by Sandra Lea Hardage) is an absolute gem of a book. The first half of the book, chapters 1-9, tell the story of Joseph. Predating his birth, the author covers Joseph's family lineage and lays a solid foundation of his family's history. The second half of the book is a Bible study; a very thorough study, well-written without extra "fluff".

As I progressed through this book, I was struck by how Sandra brings Joseph's story to life in a vibrant way. While not adding anything to what the Bible says about his life, she draws details out of the Word that are easily missed in casual reading. I absolutely loved this book and the way she manages to pack so much into each chapter. As a homeschooling mother, I plan to use this as part of my children's daily Bible lessons. (And that's saying something, because I am pretty choosy about what I use in my homeschool!)

After I finished the first half of the book and started the Bible study, I found that I loved the book even more. I love a good Bible study, and THIS is a good Bible study. It takes you through Joseph's trials and his ever-increasing trust in his God and helps you apply God's Word to your own daily life.

While I'm not saying much specifically about the book Faith ~ Joseph's Story, that's only because his story is so well-known that I don't feel as if I need to write about that aspect of the book. And were I to share too many details about the book itself, I would take away the joy of finding out for yourself why I love this book. 

At the same time that I have been reading this book, we have been learning about Joseph through our Sunday-morning sermons at our church. How terrific it's been to have this resource to enrich what I hear from the pulpit on Sundays! The combination has been a catalyst for growth and I see things about the God who was there for Joseph that have impacted my life, several thousand years later.

Faith ~ Joseph's Story is available for purchase online at for $12.10 (softcover). Hardcover is also available. To purchase, click HERE.

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

I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

 Lord bless you as you continue to grow in your faith and trust in the Lord, much like Joseph.

Day 285 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Let Hope In by Pete Wilson

The book Let Hope In (4 Choices That Will Change Your Life Forever) by Pete Wilson is an easy-to-read book divided into four sections. Each section focuses on a different area in which hope can "come in" and bring about transformation. At 219 pages, Let Hope In isn't a lengthy book but it does contain some valuable insight for those looking to let Jesus have more and more of their heart.

The four sections touch on transforming instead of transferring; being okay as compared to not being okay; trusting rather than pleasing; freeing people in lieu of hurting them. Four sections of a book that represent four segments of our hearts and lives...places where we may have put up a "NO TRESPASSING" sign that we expect Jesus to read loud and clear.

Of course, the Christian life is a trade (it's no longer our own, for we were bought with a price). We don't have the option of telling the Lord to "KEEP OUT" because He owns us, so to speak, and more than that He loves us. Sometimes His love is terrifyingly vast, frighteningly enormous, looming larger than we can bear. The book Let Hope In allows us to step into that large love and provides a fresh outlook on what living in the light of that love really comes down to.

My personal favorite section is the one about being okay versus being not okay, and Scott Hamilton's story struck a chord within me. We tell our kids that it's okay to be who they are, the person God created them to be. Yet if we're honest, we can admit that we don't always let ourselves be who He made us to be. Such a great reminder that it really is okay to just be...okay.

But I'd also like to share that there are things about this book that I really did not like. Some of the ways the author sort of "lessens" the price of sin really bother me. I'm very high-truth, very Type-A, and I find that I have little patience for someone who even seems to hint at sin being less sinful because it's been fully atoned for. Jesus took it seriously (Matthew 5:29 comes to mind) and I think we also need to take it seriously. Not refusing to forgive, because we're called to obey the Lord's command to forgive - just don't neglect the great cost that sin requires.

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

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

Day 284 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Dose of Encouragement & A Handful of Advice

I'm amazed at how long I've been homeschooling and at how quickly my years as a homeschooler are dwindling away. My oldest will turn 21 this month, my second oldest is adjusting well to life at a college 12-hours away from home, and my middle child will turn 18 in the spring. I will then have three adult children...and that means I am entering into a season of giving pause, giving thanks, and giving encouragement and advice to those who are currently doing what I've already done.

So today's blog post is a little dose of encouragement and a handful of advice for the homeschooling mom who could use a little boost.

First, the advice ~

     When you are choosing new curriculum, planning weekly assignments, or considering a new activity, carefully consider the path you take. Is it the path the Lord has placed you on? Or is this a path you've chosen without His guidance? 

     On those really productive school days, when everything is clicking and you're trucking right along, consider doing a little (or a lot!) of extra school work. Then you'll have a bit of a cushion for those days when nothing clicks except the sound of your heels as you run out of the house screaming...

     Take a planning day now and then. And do not feel guilty about it! Planning is a huge, key part of long-term, successful homeschooling.

     Purge your homeschool bookshelves on a regular basis - at least once a year. Sort out the plastic storage tubs that hold odds-n-ends materials and get things in order. One or two days of hard work can pay off big time during the academic year.

     Get realistic about what you are actually able to accomplish in a day, week, month, year. And likewise, get realistic about the impact sloth and laziness has on your homeschooling.

     Remember it's okay to make mistakes, sweet homeschooling mother. And make sure your sweet homeschooled children know it's okay for them to make mistakes.

Now for the encouragement ~

     Ephesians 2:14a tells us that the Lord is our peace. Not simply that He gives us peace (which He does!) or that He is the author of all peace (which He is!) - but that He is our peace. Think about that for a few moments, write it down in your planner or on your to-do list. Jesus is our peace. That is very, very encouraging.

     Ecclesiastes 3:11 says He has made everything beautiful in it's time. If there are things in your life that aren't beautiful, then remember this verse. And in the areas that are beautiful, be sure to thank the One who gave them their beauty.

     Focus on what God has in store for your family; don't get caught up looking at other people's lives and wondering about the things God has in store for them. 

     You really can leave all the decisions to God, and He really will show you the way to go. He is unfailingly trustworthy all of the time. 

I pray you're blessed today as you train up your children according to His word and His ways. May you sense His great love and care for you in a tangible way today!

Day 283 done :)

Jan L. Burt
author of The Homeschooling Mothers Bible Study

PS - Just one more tidbit from a previous post that I'd like to leave with you today...

We all want an answer to the age-old question, "What am I here for?"  Philippians 3:10 holds part of the answer for us. "I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead." That answer holds true for homeschooling mothers and for their children.

          I'm not here to amass a fortune, become famous, or make a name for myself. Conversely, I'm not here to become a wall flower, fade into anonymity, or loathe myself. I am here to glorify God. I do that first by knowing Christ. It is in the knowing that I begin to live a life that brings Him glory. My kids are here for the same purpose.

          If He is truly our all in all, then we need to live like we believe it. Make it your goal to ask the Lord to help you know Him more and more, every single day; to allow you to experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. You will discover the answer to that deep heart question, "Why am I here?" 

          All of your life, including your role as a homeschooling mother, will be blessed as you continue to know Christ more and more and more. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest truths I've come to know, and my hope is that many more women will take continual steps to know Him in ever increasing measure. Starting today.


Monday, November 4, 2013

The Wall Around Your Heart (How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You) by Mary DeMuth

You may remember a review I wrote for Mary DeMuth's book Everything (you can read that post HERE) in January of this year.  I absolutely loved that book, and not surprisingly, Mary's book The Wall Around Your Heart is another success. The tone of this book is a bit different than Everything, but the tempo with which Mary writes and the passion she pours into her work are the same. We all have walls around our hearts, in greater or lesser degrees. And we all need a little "shove" in the right direction (toward Jesus!) in order for those walls to begin to crumble.

The Wall Around Your Heart has the ability to draw you closer to the Lord in prayer as you trust Him more and more with the things that you have been afraid to trust anyone with. It's not a self-help, DIY kind of book. Rather it's Mary using the Lord's prayer to reveal God's heart toward us, and in turn to show us that He can be trusted to tear down those walls.

 She is very real, very honest, and at times it is sad to read her words. There are aspects of her life that were terribly wrong, and any one of us would build thick walls to keep our hearts "safe" if we'd experienced the things she has. But she doesn't dwell on those things ~ she just points toward Jesus, who is obviously the great love of her life. If you've been through some ridiculously difficult circumstances, maybe reading The Wall Around Your Heart will bring you closer to the One you can trust completely. I'm pretty sure that's why Mary wrote this book.

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 BookSneeze. All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Day 282 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Fearless by Eric Blehm

When I started reading the book Fearless by Eric Blehm, I really thought I knew what kind of a book it would be. I'm married to a Captain in the US Army (retired) after all, so I would have to be deaf to have not heard the tale of Navy SEAL Team Six and the mission in Afghanistan that went so terribly wrong. But I wasn't at all prepared for how hard it was to read this book. Not just hard to read near the end, when Adam Brown faces the enemy and gives his life. It was hard to read about Adam's childhood, his rough and tumble teenage years, his addictions. And it was hard to see how much his wife loved him, supported him, stood by him, helped him "grow up" in his walk with the Lord...all the while knowing what the later chapter of Fearless would bring.

Fearless is a great book to read if you don't have much of an idea of who soldiers often are at their core, where they came from, why the military is such a good fit for many men...and it also provides insight into the life of the military family. It is raw and honest and painful...and true. True does not mean sugar-coated. Don't think this is a book you can read and not be moved. It is a book you read because you know you need to be moved.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 4. Not because it isn't worth a 5 (I've given it a 5-star rating in my review @ amazon) but because it should come with some caution to those who don't take seriously the sacrifices our military have made and continue to make. Don't read it just to say you've read it. Read it because you care.

Read Chapter 1 HERE.
More info about the book is available HERE.
Details about the author can be found HERE and HERE.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Day 281 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Beloved and My Friend by Hal & Melanie Young ~ Review (New Book Launch!!)

Those in the homeschooling community are no strangers to the work of Hal & Melanie Young (does the book Raising Real Men ring a bell?) Branching out beyond raising godly children, the Youngs have written a terrific book entitled My Beloved and My Friend - How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses. It's a great read for all married couples, and would make an excellent gift for those soon to become man and wife. But since I blog primarily to an audience of women who homeschool, let me speak to the reasons they should read My Beloved and My Friend.

When you are a homeschooling mama, it is so unbelievably easy to become completely immersed in your children. Seriously, this is a problem within the homeschool community! It's a problem because the children begin to "take over" the marriage and their needs become priorities over those of our husbands. This book by Hal & Melanie Young helps put the marriage back in it's proper, God-ordained place. If you homeschool and you love your husband, then you ought to read this book.

I'm not sure which topic covered in My Beloved and My Friend would qualify as my favorite; it's so full of good, solid, tried-and-true marriage advice I doubt I can pick one favorite section! For those who are engaged or newlyweds, "Leaving and Cleaving" holds pertinent counsel that will be of benefit for many years to come. For those who have been married for a while, "Being of One Mind" is a treasure trove of wise counsel gleaned from their 30 years together. There is truly something in this book for every married couple, and homeschooling women could make this a part of their "Mom Curriculum".

The book is available at a pre-order price of just $12. If you think about the worth of your marriage, and then think about the price of this book, you'll quickly come to the conclusion that it's a very small price to pay for a resource that will so richly benefit your most important relationship (outside of your walk with the Lord, of course). I truly hope you will consider purchasing My Beloved and My Friend, and think of it as an investment that will pay tremendous dividends.

Here are just a couple of my "take-aways" from the book ~

     "Basic understanding matters. Commitment to fundamental truth, in spite of constant small temptations and distractions, matters." (from the Introduction, p. 5)

     "...the attitude of the heart is once again, the heart of the whole matter." (from the chapter On Submission, p. 80)

     "If a lady believes her husband is on his way to becoming a great man, he will be." (from the chapter Fidelity and Loyalty Are Not Mutual Funds, p. 93)

     "The basic principles which guide our lives and our marriage need to be held as common property." (from the chapter Being Of One Mind, p. 228)

Visit the website to buy the book or to learn more.

I'll be sharing more about this book in the coming months, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! If you read the book, let me know what chapters most blessed and challenged you. I look forward to reading your comments.

May you be richly blessed today as you homeschool for God's glory and seek to keep your marriage in it's proper, God-ordained place!

Day 280 done :)

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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Move Out of Your Comfort Zone

We all have them; our own personal comfort zones. Truth be told, we're pretty good at accessorizing and customizing said zones. We know what we need to do in order to keep out what we want kept out and to keep in what we want kept in. Sure, we may work hard at maintaining our comfort zones without much cognitive thought or planning...but just because we don't exactly plan to hide out in our "safe places" doesn't mean they don't exist.

Comfort zones are real, and they're really, really dangerous.

What would have happened had Abraham opted to stay in his comfort zone instead of venturing into the complete unknown with God alone as is guide? We know what happened to the Israelites when they refused to go in and take the Promised Land the Lord their God was giving them (40 years in the desert and all those who were afraid to go into the land died outside of it). For those of us who homeschool, what would have happened without our forerunners who paved the way to make homeschooling what it is today?

My point is that we all have places that feel really comfortable, and we all need to follow the Lord out of those places into the new place He is matter how frightening that may be.

Don't hold anything back from the Lord, especially the areas in your life that are safe & cozy & comfortable & controlled by you instead of by God. Get out of those places, at His leading, and move into the beautiful land of promise He has set aside just for you.

Don't wait; commit this to prayer today, and expect the Lord to answer your prayer in amazing ways!

Day 279 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why Do We Do What We Do? (And Should I Proceed With What I'd Planned to Do???)

You may know I've been working on my second book (All Things Homeschool ~ Hints, Tips & Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mother). It's come together fabulously, and I'm ready to hit it hard and finish up the part I really don't like...the techie aspect of turning my words into an eBook. But I'm at an impasse, and could really use a little help. Below is a brief sampling of the book's content. Would you read it, and tell me if it brings any type of encouragement to you or if it's just more white noise in a world filled to overflowing with reading material? (I'm also including a link to an older post from Feb. 2012 that will be in the that post HERE.)

Without further adieu, here's the brief book excerpt:

          We all want an answer to the age-old question, "What am I here for?"  Philippians 3:10 holds part of the answer for us. "I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead." That answer holds true for homeschooling mothers and for their children.

          I'm not here to amass a fortune, become famous, or make a name for myself. Conversely, I'm not here to become a wall flower, fade into anonymity, or loathe myself. I am here to glorify God. I do that first by knowing Christ. It is in the knowing that I begin to live a life that brings Him glory. My kids are here for the same purpose.

          If He is truly our all in all, then we need to live like we believe it. Make it your goal to ask the Lord to help you know Him more and more, every single day; to allow you to experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. You will discover the answer to that deep heart question, "Why am I here?" 

          All of your life, including your role as a homeschooling mother, will be blessed as you continue to know Christ more and more and more. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest truths I've come to know, and my hope is that many more women will take continual steps to know Him in ever increasing measure. Starting today.

So, first off let me say "THANKS!" for reading this little snippet from All Things Homeschool.  Secondly, to kind of help me gauge whether or not this is the right time to finish this writing project (or perhaps whether or not I should finish it at all!) I'm selling my first book for a pittance ($4.75 for the eBook). I'm thinking that sales of my Bible study for homeschooling mothers should provide me with an idea of the interest in another book. No pressure to buy the book - I'm just feeling this whole thing out and kind of laying out a fleece, if you will. And I would really love to read your comments about the excerpt above and the devotional I mentioned (click HERE to read it).

To buy the eBook for $4.75, visit All Things Homeschool. 

Thank you for your encouragement, support, and frank and honest comments. I really, really appreciate it more than I can possibly express!

Lord bless you as you homeschool for His glory and as you know Him more and more each day!

Day 278 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Homeschool Mom's Bible (NIV) ~ book review

Homeschooling moms have a unique combination role in life ~ not only are they mothers who are working to raise their children to be healthy, functional adults, they're also the primary educators working to prepare their children for college, readying them to be healthy, functional contributors to society as a whole. We have the daunting task of moving our children to a place where they can impact their world for Christ and His Kingdom. What a huge job homeschooling moms have! We certainly can use all the encouragement we can get!

The Homeschool Mom's Bible offers that encouragement. Daily devotionals are dated, interspersed throughout the text of the Bible. They're just short enough to ensure a busy mom won't skip over reading them due to their length; and they're meaty enough to drive home key points and encouragement. (All the devotions were penned by Janet Tatman, a veteran homeschooling mother with more than 25 years of homeschooling experience.)

The Bible itself is a standard NIV Bible. It isn't a study Bible, so don't expect loads of footnotes and extras. It simply does what it sets out to do ~ encourage homeschool moms in their day-to-day life. And it does that very well. I really recommend this Bible for all homeschooling women. The devotions are often exactly what is needed on a specific day, and I'm all about women staying in the Word, so how could I not enthusiastically endorse the Bible?!? If you're in want of a Bible, or searching for daily encouragement, you won't go wrong with The Homeschool Mom's Bible.

Features include:
  • 365 daily meditations with prayers written by Janet Tatman, a veteran homeschooling mother with more than 25 years of experience homeschooling
  • The full text of the clear, accessible New International Version (NIV) translation
  • Foreword from Vickie Farris, author, homeschool mom, and wife of Michael Farris, founder of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association
  • Topical index
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 BookSneeze. All opinions shared here are solely my own. 
Lord bless you and your family abundantly today!

Day 277 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Today's post is a short and sweet reminder to cover your homeschool, your husband, your children, your entire day in prayer. And fully expect the Lord to bring good things into your life as a result of our prayers.

It's far too easy for busy homeschooling mamas to rush forward into our day and neglect covering our lives with prayer. But we really cannot afford to skip out on prayer time! If you aren't praying for you husband, then who on earth is? Who is going to pray for your children and your homeschool with the same passion and heart that you can? No one else will pray the prayers you're willing to pray. And by no one, I really do mean NO ONE. You're it, mom. This one is all on you.

Pray for your life in all it's facets every single day. Ask the Lord to lead and guide and be in every single moment of your life. Then trust Him to do beautiful, wonderful, glorious things! Sure, there will plenty of times when His answer to your prayer is not what you were hoping for. But His answer will always be good...every single time He answers us it is for our good. Embrace that, and trust Him, and even when you're at a total loss, well, just keep praying.

Lord bless you today as you pray and expect Him to do more than you can ask, think, or imagine!

Day 276 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Monday, September 16, 2013

How Was Your Day? Was It a Monday?

Well, you would think that after so many years of homeschooling I wouldn't ever have a case of the Mondays. Yes, you might think that...but alas, it isn't so.

I actually think that as long as I am homeschooling, I will have hard days. There's a reason for those hard days; homeschooling is hard work! It's life-changing work ~ perhaps even world-changing work in that we're training the next generation for Christ. Perhaps if I never had any hard days, that would be an indicator that I might be missing the mark. Perhaps my hard days, every case of the Mondays, are my personal litmus test as to whether or not I'm doing what I ought to be doing.

The main thing I ought to be doing day in and day out is teaching my children at home. Without finding "escapes" when the days are long and attitudes are poor. Without complaining to my husband or friends about the woes of my daily life. Without yelling at my kids for my own faults and failings. If I'm called to homeschool, then I ought to be homeschooling...even when I get a bad case of the Mondays.

So how do I keep on keeping on even on the hard days? By the Lord's grace, that's how. Trusting Him moment by moment, asking Him to lead me and instruct me all throughout the day. The hard days draw me closer to Him, and make me more dependent on Him. In that way the hard days really are the best days.

Don't run from your Mondays. Embrace them. Entrust them to His care and His wisdom. Expect to see Him moving in your life, and your children's lives, especially on Mondays :)

Lord bless you today!

Day 275 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To Quote Mike Wazowski (Kind Of...) ~ I'm (not) On the Cover of a Magazine!

I am tickled pink to have an article on teaching electives in the current issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. While I have reviewed products as a former member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I thoroughly enjoyed writing an article for them. It posed an entirely different challenge for me, and I was able to share some valuable insights I've learned over the course of MANY years of homeschooling!

So today's post is short and sweet ~ I'm sharing a direct link to my article!

But watch for new posts coming soon, and a little revamp to my blog. And I've added a link to the Bible study I wrote for homeschooling moms (the eBook is ridiculously affordable at $7.95). Plus I'm gearing up for a nice giveaway, with some terrific goodies for moms and kids!

Here's the link to my article ~ Choosing the Best Electives.  I hope you enjoy it, and are encouraged as you choose electives for your homeschooled children. Look for my next article in the December/January print edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine (which will be available @ some Target stores!).

Lord bless you as you homeschool for His glory!

Day 274 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Saturday, August 31, 2013

You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias ~ a review

Many years ago, when my firstborn was just a tyke, I read a book by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. And I loved it! Her insight was just what I needed as a young mom trying to determine what made my son "tick". It helped me to accept that his learning style was not the same as mine, and was a great starting point for me when I began researching curriculum options prior to kindergarten. I expected the same result with the book You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded).

I was actually surprised when I found myself doubting some of what she shares in this book. It's not that any of her ideas about parenting strong-willed children wouldn't work; I honestly think most of them would work well! What seems to kind of nag at me about this book is the underlying idea that there isn't any real accountability for the behavior of the strong-willed child, and we as parents simply must find ways to adapt in order to affirm the child. My problem with this notion is that it isn't Biblical. Let me explain what I mean.

I'm not saying the author isn't a Christian, and she does reference God's Word at the beginning of each chapter. And I'm not attempting to slander her as an author or as a person. What I am saying is simply that it simply is not Biblical to raise our children to believe it's perfectly okay to buck authority and deny respect to those in authority over them just because they have a strong will. After all, can't we all say we have a strong will? Can't we all say we don't like to do what we're told without knowing why? Yes, we can all relate to feeling that way. But parents who want to prepare their strong-willed children to relate to Almighty God with a holy, reverent attitude will teach them that God expects our total obedience to Him, and He has no need to provide us with the big picture prior to our obeying. Teaching them that they can, and should, expect to be able to choose who they will and won't respect by means of conditioning them to pick and choose their attitude based on how those in authority make them feel is not Biblical parenting and sets them up for a life full of disappointment and confusion when God does not relate to them in said manner.

While I don't really agree with much of her reasoning in this particular book, I have to say that (in my opinion) Cynthia Tobias is most in her element when she is helping parents understand their child's learning style. She is gifted in that arena in ways that all parents, homeschooling or not, can benefit from. Recently she was on Focus on the Family's radio program and she was as informative and inspiring as ever. (Listen to that broadcast HERE.)  Don't throw the baby out with the bath water, and by all means don't simply take my word for it! Read some of her books for yourself, filter them through God's Word, and come to your own conclusion.

And check out her website HERE.

To read an excerpt from the book, click HERE.

To read other reviews, click HERE.

Thanks for taking the time to read this review. God bless you as you seek His will in parenting your strong-willed child!

Disclaimer ~ I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Day 273 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's My Birthday...Will You Enter My Giveaway???

Today is my birthday! And I'm "giving" a gift to one lucky winner!

The giveaway is for one free ticket to an amazing, week-long, encouraging event for homeschoolers ~ the 2013 Schoolhouse Expo! Speakers include Todd Wilson, Diana Waring, Jessica Hulcy, Jay Wile, Andrew Pudewa, Chrisine Field, Davis Carman, Malia Russell, and many, many more!

The Expo takes place online the week of August 19th-23rd (12 noon - 7 pm Central).

"But," you say, "what if I can't be there for the Expo?"  No worries - all speakers are recorded and will be available for you to listen to at your convenience. But I must say, you benefit the most when you are able to attend the event as it's happening.

To learn more, see how the recordings work, read about the speakers, etc visit

Okay, so go ahead and grant my birthday wish - enter my giveaway using rafflecopter (starting @ midnight...but leave me a comment on my blog right now for one entry and come back tomorrow to enter again!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Day 272 done :)

Jan L. Burt

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Anybody for a Giveaway???

It is almost August and that means homeschool moms everywhere are gearing up for the next school year. That also means it's the ideal time for some encouragement in the form of a G-I-V-E-A-W-A-Y!!

How would you like the chance to win a FREE ticket to a full week of wisdom, advice and encouragement from some of the biggest names in the homeschool community? Well, here's your opportunity to win a ticket to the upcoming Schoolhouse Expo (

Guest speakers include ~

Adam Andrews
Ray Comfort

Dean Butler

Todd Wilson

Jessica Hulcy

Diana Waring

Dr. Jay Wile

Hal & Melanie Young

Kim Kautzer

Antony Kolenc

Terri Johnson

Andy Harris

Jennifer Courtney

Joaquin Fernandez
Carol Topp
Adam Andrews
Andrew Pudewa
Ann Dunagan
Christine Field
David C. Gibbs III
David Stelzl
Davis Carman
Evonne Mandella
Tyler Hogan
Marie Rippel
Deborah Wuehler
Heather Laurie

Malia Russell ... and MORE!

 The event takes place online August 19-23 from 12:00pm - 7:00pm (Central)

  Click the SchoolhouseExpo button to find out more. 

For your chance to win a FREE ticket for this week long event, leave me a comment (and please consider following my blog if you don't already - changes are coming this fall!!). Be sure to include your name and email address in your comment so I can let you know if you're the winner! This giveaway ends on August 12th, so enter right away and share this info with your homeschooling friends. 

Good luck, homeschooling mothers!

Day 271 done :)

Jan L. Burt