Teaching Vocabulary is a Waste of Time

When I taught high school English I couldn’t understand why my students didn’t love their vocabulary workbooks. I mean here it was: WORDS and LISTS all on in place. How could you not love that? And so I would make up games to pique interests but in the end, some of them memorized enough words to pass the test and most of them forgot all the words afterwards.

“Teaching” vocabulary is a waste of time, in my opinion. Learning vocabulary isn’t. I’m a huge fan. But our understanding of the way words are learned is crucial if we want to make the best use of our time.

Vocabulary is learned the same whether you are 2 or 24. We learn words by hearing them and reading them in context. Even when the words are too hard to understand, over time, they become a natural part of our vocabulary if they are a regular part of it. (Conversely, trying to memorize words that are not used regularly will be forgotten. Ask anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language without practicing it regularly.)

We would do well to continually revisit the way a baby learns. It’s so natural and none of us stresses about it (until the latest hogwash propaganda about “learning readiness”). Then someone convinces us that even though we were brilliant at learning when we were babies and toddlers, we lose that ability at 5 or 6 then someone has to come in and rescue us to keep us from becoming idiots.

Language builds upon itself. With a rich environment of reading and mature conversation, the formal study of vocabulary pales as a rival.

This is fantastic news for homeschooling parents. Vocabulary doesn’t need to be a separate subject. Instead, we need to grow our own vocabularies, use them in our daily conversations, and make sure our children are reading rich literature instead of twaddle.

Because we learn vocabulary through what we hear the most, other things that profoundly affect a child’s language development are peers and media. Most children are with peers for the majority of the day and so their vocabulary reflects that. As a homeschooling parent, be aware of the numerous opportunities in the day that you are teaching just through dialogue.

And make sure those opportunities aren’t being robbed by the constant distraction of media. Conversation will not take place unless it is given space to happen.

If your own vocabulary is lacking, I would suggest learning a new word each day as a family. Write it on a chalk board or prominent place in the house and then challenge everyone to use it as often as they can.

Learning language is phenomenal and yet quite simple. Save your time and put away the unrelated lists of words. Instead, weave them into the fabric of your life.

Raw, Uncensored Thoughts of a Mother With 10 Children

I’m an (almost) 42-year-old mom with 10 kids, including a one year old. There are days I open my eyes in the morning, stare at the ceiling, and know that people think I’m crazy even though I feel pretty normal.

And I don’t blame them.

I could have not had 10 children. It’s easy to prevent them. Even with Natural Family Planning (which we’ve used before–and it didn’t seem natural at all), once you’ve resumed your cycle from breast feeding. People think I chose to have this many children and I didn’t. Choosing not to prevent them isn’t the same as “seeing how many you can have.”

Sometimes I still get up at night with the baby. I’ve been getting up with babies for twenty years. I still can’t eat a meal without regular interruptions. Yes, some days I do just want to eat my food and that’s all. (What if meal time was just a quiet event with no noodles to scrape off the floor afterwards?)

I still have toddlers who are very needy. And wonderful. I have teenagers who are even more needy. And complicated. And also wonderful. Some days, quiet would be nice. But our house is full and bustling and always with needs.

I do, in fact, have my hands full. And I am human. I wonder sometimes what it would have been like.

And right now, in the thick of it, I think I know why birth control is such a popular invention, and so vehemently defended. Because this very full-time job of mothering is, well, very full-time.




All the things in my life like being interrupted at meals or being tired of hearing “Mommy” or being tired of changing diapers or maybe just being ready to “be done” with all the busyness of motherhood–

I keep coming back to this: all those things are self-centered things that completely disregard the eternal hand of God in my family, in this, my short life. And I am called to not set my mind on things of the earth so much.

I could have chosen to be less tired. I could. I could have chosen to have more free time or a firmer tummy. I could be living a whole different life right now, with just two almost-grown children.

But it would have been what I chose. And I can make really bad choices. Instead, I have what God chose for me. And there is an indescribable amount of peace in that.

(Yes, this post is partly just a talk to myself, a reminder to this very flesh-covered woman.)

So on the days when I’m tempted to feel overworked or when I’m tempted to look at another mother with a bit of envy, I don’t have to give in to that. In fact, I can rejoice. I do rejoice.

I carried my little year-old fellow up the stairs tonight to change his diaper. His face was like staring into the face of God. I don’t always have those kinds of moments, but tonight I did. This little, sweet creature, (demanding as he can be at times) a new person half me, half my husband, all himself. A miracle. I know people who don’t have 10 kids don’t believe I can feel the same for mine as they do for theirs (I used to be that mother), or marvel anymore or feel my heart will burst in two with love, but I do.

And here’s another bit of truth: I will likely have another baby if I don’t choose to prevent one. Most people think it’s crazy to have 10, much less another one. Sometimes even I do. I mean, 10! It’s not like I need anymore children. But that’s never been the point. That’s what no one ever gets. They think I chose (or tried?) to have this number the same way they have their “perfect” number. But that’s never how it’s been.

I simply look at each of my children with more love than I can believe my heart will hold, and I know that I didn’t choose them and I’m so glad God gave them to me anyway. And I think the thought of missing one–even now–if I decided to stop for the sake of not having to endure anymore criticism, or another sleepless night, or whatever thing–breaks my heart.

Yes I am busy with this many children. But I’ve given them my life–all of me so that I don’t think any one of them feels neglected in the least way. They still tell me they hope we have another baby. So the people who say that I’m spreading myself too thin, they must be wrong.

I don’t like the idea of announcing another pregnancy because I know it seems bizarre. I even fear it. But I can’t stand the thoughts of just waking up tomorrow and saying “no” to God for the rest of my short child-bearing years. I can’t stand the thought of missing the rest of my children.

In the course of our lives, we are being spent doing something. I don’t see why being spent into the lives of my precious children is such a bad thing.

When God’s Will is Wildly Different Than Ours

Of all things in the Christian life, I marvel most when the irony of God’s will completely contradicts human logic and ultimately reveals a magnificent display of His glory, a finished, breath-taking tapestry we’ve only been able to see from the messy underside.

I think we don’t get to see the wonder of God’s power very often because we are too afraid to walk in faith. I spoke recently with a young woman expecting her first child. She was hardly considering quitting her job to stay home with her newborn not because they couldn’t afford it, but because she didn’t feel comfortable when the checking and savings account fell below a certain amount.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?…you of little faith!” Luke 12:25-28

Reading the story of John Bunyan again yesterday left me in awe. He had one passion: to tell others about Jesus. So much so, that he disobeyed the law to keep preaching. And then he went to prison. For 12 years. How easy it would have been for bitterness to set in. How tempting it would have been to shake a fist in God’s face (after all, he had children to care for) and say, “I was doing this for you! Why did you let this happen?”

In fact, would any of us not have reasoned that “if preaching is against the law, I’m biblically bound to obey”? We so quickly default to our own understanding and raise it higher than God.

But his faith did not waver. And because of that, John wrote the most powerful, most popular book besides the Bible, ever read–The Pilgrim’s Progress–among many others.

But the great irony is that his voice for the Gospel has reached hundreds of thousands and that number growing, long after his life, and far more-reaching than his preaching voice.

Faith. God took John’s obedience woven with his very heart’s desire and multiplied it beyond what he could ever have imagined. He’s done that all throughout history.

I’ve watched Him do that in my own life.

I should not have 10 children. Logic told us we couldn’t afford them. People told us that too. And we couldn’t. Human wisdom would have had me back out in the work force because we had too many bills. And certainly logic would have stopped the babies. But we knew what God had said to us and we believed that He was going to show up. He did. Not before heartache and fear and being pushed to our limits, but when He did, it was amazing. If you ask me how I know He lives, I’ve seen Him do what could never be done on human terms.

I think God delights in showing Himself mighty in our lives. I think we really never get to see what true faith is until we come to the end of ourselves and our own wisdom.

Think of John Bunyan, then let God move your mountain.

2014 Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is Almost Here! (How to Get a FREE Bundle!)

Every year, the Ultimate Bundles have been a wild success. Anyone who has taken the time to check them out knows why. They are an incredible value–usually around $900 worth of great ebooks, video courses and bonuses for about $29. I mean UNREAL. (By the way, look for a new bundle coming this fall–The Ultimate Christian Living Bundle–to get the best of Christian resources for a fraction of the price.)

This year’s Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle has an added perk you are going to love: “Refer-a-Friend Promotional Code.” When you sign up to be notified when the bundle is for sale, you will get your special code.

With your special code, if you refer 1 friend you will receive $5 off your bundle! If you refer 5 friends you’ll receive a 12-session audio conference, and referring 10 will get you a healthy living bundle for absolutely free!

So when you sign up HERE, you will be notified when the Bundle is available. And with your sign-up, you’ll be given a special referral code to share with your friends. 10 friends = FREE BUNDLE!!!

Why We Must Be Theology-Loving Christians

“I don’t really get into ‘theology’ or ‘doctrine.’ I mean, I love Jesus. That’s really all that matters.”

This is a frightening reality among most Christians, and particularly Christian women. Frightening because our theology defines how we live. It informs all our decisions and thus, our whole direction in life. Theology matters.

Theology is the study of the nature of God and truth. It’s not just a cursory glance, but a delving in that shapes our life choices.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:3-5

“Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live…You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is falsehood.” Psalm 119:116-118

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge….because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6

We must make the Word of God, from where our theology is formed, absolute priority in our homes. Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and let it encompass your lives. Too often the Bible is something from which we enjoy cherry-picking pretty verses that make us feel happy at just the time we’re discouraged. And it can do just that.

But if we view His Word only as a book from which to draw out a few verses now and then to satisfy us in a particular problem, we have largely overlooked its meaning and power in our lives. It is, in its entirety, for our “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16) to equip us for all of life.

We learn how to respond, think and act like Christians by studying Christ and the character of God throughout His Word, by understanding His holiness which leads us to pursue holiness. We learn about salvation and God’s plan for mankind and how His ways are not our ways. And if we are willing to look and study long enough, we might find we have to let die some strong elements of wrong theology we were taught since childhood.

Essentially, true followers of Christ will seek to know more and more about the nature, thoughts and wisdom of the One whom they serve. They want to know truth. True Christians will seek theology.

We ought to be poring over His Word ourselves, and passing that thirst onto our children, making it one of our top priorities. Whatever effort you are placing on math or English or science, I would encourage you to double that effort teaching God’s Word.

Take every problem, question and concern to His Word. It speaks to every area of life and it is the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path. Love theology. Don’t be afraid it.

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.

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