Dear Stressed Out Mama: Words For Your Life

Dear Stressed Out, Young Mama:

This is the older me telling the younger me that I see in you, that it’s all going to be OK.

But I’ve learned some things and if I could get you to take some advice from someone a few years ahead of you, I think you would find this life more enjoyable. Maybe?

1. You don’t have to iron so much, or hardly at all. If you hang clothes up out of the dryer (or off the line) most are not too wrinkled to wear. There are the occasional pieces that will need ironed for church or other nice events, but for most things, non-ironed clothes will suffice, especially for young children. Cherish a neat appearance without obsessing about perfection. And really, ironing is just an example of all the ways we feel pressured to be perfect. Give your best, but know that your best will vary in different seasons of life. If your best, with a house full of little people, is getting them out the door with matching shoes (or shoes at all), exhale and accept it. In a different season, your best may look…better.

2. Do not let your children scare you. If you’ve already poured a drink in the pink sippy cup but “GREEN IS HER FAVORITE!” please do not change the cup. Yes, it’s a small thing. Which is exactly why you don’t need to give her the green cup. (Example from the Nanny, Emma) But really, it’s a big thing. The giving in. To love her, truly, she needs to know you’re in control, for her good, and  your strength will be a boon to her development.

3. Do not let other people scare you. One of the greatest forces in our lives is the fear of others, or what the Bible calls, “the fear of man.” Fight it. It will hinder you, impose on your decisions, and ultimately could cause you to live a completely different life than you might have chosen otherwise. Fear causes us to be ruled by the expectations of others and it’s an exhausting place to be. Remind yourself that you must answer to God. Fear Him. Live for Him. And rest in His easy yoke.

4. Savor the differences in your children, let them grow, and do NOT put them in a mold because that’s not where people belong. Push them to be their best but don’t stifle what they’re really good at, or expect them to thrive at what they’re not. Your children are like a bouquet of flowers. Every one is so different and they need the sunshine of your acceptance and love to flourish. Hold them to standards of upright character, but don’t hold them to standards of performance.

5. Slow down. This. one. thing. Evaluate often what the important things in life are and refuse to be ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. Do what you have to do, no matter how drastic, to slow down and savor life. Life is a short, fleeting space of time. The people in it are what matter. If you are too busy to give them your time, your love and your attention, you’re too busy. If you’re too busy to go on long walks or sit in the grass and listen to the birds, you’re too busy. Even the demands of our home can push out valuable time with the ones we love. Figure out what is sucking up your time and make adjustments. They’re worth it and you’ll be thrilled, in the end, that you did.

And another thing: accept that there are good days and bad days. And on the bad days, remind yourself that you aren’t stuck here. Push through it and survive it. Better days are coming. Then on those days, soar. Life is about ebb and flow and change and seasons. Grasping that reality has helped me become more buoyant in the waves.

Homemaking 101 & Unmarried: The Films. On Sale.

Do you need a “back-to-basics” homemaking crash course? Or maybe you just need a reminder to inspire you out of the lull of drudgery. Either way, I think you’ll love the Homemaking 101 DVD from my friend, Jennifer, at Family Vision Films. It is on sale right now for $11.95 just until Sunday! Get your discount with code “101sale”. So jump on over and grab it!



And while you’re there, the much-anticipated documentary, Unmarried: The Rise of Singleness is here! And it’s on sale too now for just $13.





Watch the trailer:


I Didn’t Notice School Had Begun (Relaxed Homeschooling)

The school bus passed yesterday and it reminded me that another school year had begun. School doesn’t begin at our house. But it doesn’t end either. I don’t have any opposition to starting school or new notebooks and new curriculum. But for us, learning is too intertwined in our lives to mark it with stops and starts. That’s just the way we roll. And it’s fine if you roll differently.

It’s hard to think outside of schedules and calendars and school years when we’ve been so ingrained in that lingo. But if we can ever just stop and look past our time tables and the way everyone else is doing it and just peel back all the stuff and remember what learning is, it gets easier.

And whether it’s Saturday night or Monday morning, we learn. We learn without deadlines to make us grumpy or timelines that compare us to others who aren’t us.

If deadlines and tight schedules are your thing, I think you should keep it. But if it isn’t, and it’s stressing you, you need to know it isn’t necessary.

Not that we don’t have order or schedules or times set aside for learning specific things, but I’ve learned that life is too precious to be crowded out by the expectations of others. Time is too fleeting to let “school” elbow our relationships aside.

I don’t want to be ruled by charts and clocks and tests and grades. That’s not real life. Life is learning about anything and everything all the time, beside the ones you love.

And if you want to know more about this relaxed style of homeschooling we do, I’ve written an book all about it: Think Outside the Classroom: A Practical Approach to Relaxed Homeschooling. I hope it brings you some peace.

This is what a customer wrote me just last week:

“Kelly – I just wanted to thank you for your “Think Outside the Classroom” book. I consumed it just a couple of hours one quiet afternoon last week and could have done cartwheels through the living room as I finished. It was so freeing!!!” -Julie

Let’s Plan a Wedding! (In Which Glorious & Gut-Wrenching Both Abide)

Enter the roller coaster of human life. My daughter, my first-born, my best friend and right hand is GETTING MARRIED!

And I’ll just be as honest as I can about this reality because I want to encourage any of you out there.

First, we are thrilled. I mean, beyond excited. Why? Because raising our children to leave home and start their own families is one of our biggest jobs in life. It’s a crowning moment. Our magnum opus. But not just that: raising them to follow the Lord and choose a spouse who follows Him too is even bigger.

“I have no greater joy than to hear (see) my children walk in truth.”

It’s true. Nothing in life makes me happier than to watch one of my children grow up, own their faith, and carry the torch into the next generation. This is it! It is everything we’ve prayed for, hoped for and lived for.

And then there’s the reality of loss. Someone I have spent every day of my life with for 20 years is leaving. The person with whom I sit every morning, and share all my ideas, and coffee. This woman who loves our home and takes care of it like I do. The person who knows me inside and out, who reads my subtle cues and delights to help make life pleasant for me. Who takes all the kids to the barn with a blanket and book just to bless them and me. Who can whip a room into shape before I have time to say “what a mess” because that’s her gift and she rocks it. The woman who inspires me to know Christ deeper by watching her strive to know Him.

I’m not boasting, but this is my daughter. It is nothing I or my husband have done. But in God’s incredible grace to us, Bria has been an exceptional daughter. She isn’t perfect. She has her share of weaknesses, for sure. But she is amazing.

And losing an amazing person is hard.

When most of us were growing up, we started weaning away from our parents at the age of 5. We got on a bus and left home for a large part of the day. We shared our attention and affection with peers. Our priorities began to be disbursed among other activities, people and places. It was a gradual process and by the time we got married, we had already emotionally and physically left home.

Our family has been different and this leaving, in every way, is happening all at once. Even as we rejoice, there is grieving that comes with it. Change always brings some grief. No matter how good the change.

But I know this pushes me to a deeper dependence on God. It is good for my other children as I get a renewed focus on them, brought on largely by the reality that I only have them for a short time and indeed, every moment is precious. What a gift that the Lord teaches us such sweet things on this journey!

So we are in a season of stretching, growing, adjusting and letting go. It is glorious and gut-wrenching all at once. But above all, we are grateful. Grateful for the way the Lord brought Kyle and Bria together, for their commitment to Him and each other, and for grace that will sustain us all.

Kyle is a pre-med student so the road ahead of them will not be without challenges, though I’m eager to see how those very challenges will specifically shape and strengthen their marriage. I am fully confident that as they seek first His kingdom, everything they need will be added unto them. My greatest comfort is releasing my treasured child into the arms of a man I know will treasure her too. (Thank you, Kyle.)

And for those who will walk this road soon, there is no formula. There is only people, wisdom and the need for fervent prayer and grace. And friends! I am praising God for friends and friends who have walked this road, know how it feels, and are willing to hold my hand, walk with me, and love on me through it all. His gifts are innumerable!

I may be more quiet than usual for a long time. There is much to be done and huge adjustments to be made. And I’m up for the challenge. Because just this morning, my Father reminded me,

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength….they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40,41

Our Health Insurance Alternative (Saving Money on Health Insurance)

Dropping our Blue Cross Insurance was the best thing we ever did–financially and ethically. Not only were our premiums becoming increasingly expensive, but we were still paying large sums out-of-pocket, all while much of our money went to greasing the great big Insurance Machine.

We knew about Christian medical sharing programs, but were a little concerned they might not work as well in real life. Not to mention, I had been pregnant several times when we considered joining and thought our maternity care would not be covered. (It is.)

We joined Samaritan’s Ministries about 4 years ago and have been beyond excited about the way it works and how it has benefited our family.

What is a “medical sharing program”?

Samaritan’s is comprised of over 30,000 families who have agreed to pay a monthly “share” which is distributed among needs for that month.

If you have a medical bill over $300, you submit your “need” to Samaritans along with copies of your bill(s). They distribute the expense among as many families as it takes to cover it. You will then receive checks from individual families (usually along with an encouraging note) for part of your submitted need until full amount is received. (On rare occasions, the needs for the month exceed the shares and you receive a percentage. This has not happened to us as long as we’ve been members.)

Thus far in our experience with Samaritans, we have had our submitted medical bills covered 100% every time. We never had that experience with regular insurance companies.

What do you tell the doctor/hospital?

Samaritan’s provides you with a membership card which you can present at the time of treatment. You are considered a “self-pay” patient which hospitals and doctors actually prefer, since it alleviates the red tape of bureaucratic companies.

Does it work when there is a large medical expense?

Yes. We really got to see Samaritans in action when my father had a heart attack in 2011. Also a member, my Dad had a near-death experience when he had a massive heart attack and we rushed him to the ER. His bills exceeded $100,000, and every penny was paid by Samaritan’s members.

Consider that if they had still been on their former insurance which only paid 80%, they would have had to pay $38,000 just on the price their self-pay was. With insurance, the actual amount would have far exceeded that number and their out-of-pocket would as well. You aren’t just saving on premiums.

You can opt to pay extra and increase your share coverage.

How much does it cost?

A family pays a monthly share of about $400.

Another amazing thing…

In our newsletter each month there is a section for “special needs” which includes certain medical needs of members not covered by Samaritans because they are pre-existing. Members are offered the opportunity to give, in addition to their regular share, to these families to help cushion the expenses.

One month we gave $25 to such a need–an expensive operation. Several weeks later we received our check back. The note accompanying the check read that they had received more than they needed to cover the bill and he was actually having to return money to different members!

I was speechless.

Samaritan’s isn’t only an efficient, well-oiled machine that members can feel secure about, it’s a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ coming together to meet one another’s needs, just as Christ mentions in Scripture.

They have my highest recommendation.

Oh, and one more bonus: if you refer me, I get a credit on my next share amount. Which is also good news for you if you join. When you start sharing your positive experiences (and you will!), you’ll save more too.

*You must be a Christian and member of a church to join.

So Much Good Stuff to Inspire Your Homeschool Year

Homeschooling Myth Busters Series

Part 2: Socialization

Part 3: Sheltering

Part 4: “Proof is in the Puddin’”

Part 5: Academics

Part 6: Only One Way to Learn

Myth Buster Extra: How Do You Teach?

Embracing the Homeschool Advantage: A Living Education

Homeschooling: Help When You Fear You’re Not Doing it Right

How to Homeschool When You Think You Can’t

Homeschool For Free

Homeschooling Preschoolers Naturally

Operation Conversation: The Missing Ingredient to a Great Education

Homeschooling on Accident: Don’t Fret the Interrupted Day

Teaching English Simply

Creating a Lifestyle of Learning


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