Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner Review

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For most of life in South Korea, I was more of a use the calendar on my phone kind of girl. But once I started homeschooling Clarissa, I decided that I needed something more  for my planning. I tried a couple of different things both on the computer and on paper that I wasn’t thrilled with so I was really excited to review the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for the 2019/20 year written by Gena Suarez that is produced by The Old Schoolhouse®.

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There were several things I liked about this planner. First of all, it is spiral bound which makes it easy to write in and flip pages. I also liked that there are devotions written throughout the planner to encourage me all year long.

The beginning of the planner gives you big block calendars for each month of the year, starting July 2019 and ending June 2020. Each month has a devotion on a different topic as well as a full page for notes. I like this section because it allows me to think of big picture ideas for each month. The calendar blocks are also big enough that you really don’t need a separate family calendar. You can plan dinners, dentist appointments, field trips, whatever you need, all in one spot.

The next section breaks it down further. There is another devotion and then four weeks of more in depth planning. You can plan a week of schoolwork for up to five children on one page. Since I am only schooling Clarissa right now, I chose to break it down over 5 days instead. Every four weeks, there is a new devotion to read which I think would be both encouraging and motivating to moms.

I think I am really going to enjoy using this planner for this year. With a new baby, I will need to have a better plan for Clarissa’s schooling than just playing and winging it like we did for kindergarten. This method of planning will allow me to be less stressed about what Clarissa is learning because I can write it down and plan it out better. I also like that I can write it with a pen instead of making my own documents on the computer. It doesn’t have to “look professional” since I don’t have to turn my lesson plans in to a school. I think I will also like being able to look through this at the end of the year so that I can see, in one place, all the things that we worked on. The notes for each month and the devotionals should also help me to keep my focus each month.

I look forward to seeing how other families used this planner with multiple children to give me ideas for the future. As of the writing of this review, they are 98% sold out of this planner. So if this is something you are interested in, I would definitely look into buying it early next year.

Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year {The Old Schoolhouse® Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Emptied book review

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Do you have an author that you really connect with? One who you feel like writes “just for you.” Wynter Pitts has been like that for me the past few years. A girl mom who loves Jesus, she has written so many resources for girls and for their moms.

Last summer, she wrote God’s Girl Says Yes to teach tween girls about saying yes to Jesus and growing the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Two weeks after the book was released, Wynter went to be with Jesus. What I didn’t know at the time was that earlier that day, Wynter and her husband Jonathan had submitted the final proof of a book on marriage.

I really enjoyed the last book that Jonathan and Wynter wrote together called She is Yours about praying for your daughter. I knew I wanted to read their marriage book. I also thought it was interesting that God chose to take her home the day that this book was finished.

Emptied: Experiencing the Fullness of a Poured Out Marriage did not disappoint. I enjoyed reading Jonathan and Wynter’s story. As usual, they had great thoughts to point us toward Jesus as we seek to glorify Him in our marriage in their usual conversational tone. I appreciate that everything they write feels like a conversation I would have with a close friend.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book :

  • Be fruitful and multiply isn’t just birthing children. “Ask yourself. Can I reproduce the character, qualities, and gifts God has given me in those He has put in my path, biologically or not?”
  • “If Christ is at the center of our marriages, our job is not to create a confortable life, but to develop a life that is securely grounded, despite uncomfortable circumstances.”
  • They remind us several times that your spouse is never the enemy. The Enemy (Satan) is the enemy.
  • The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.
  • The first part of the book talks about things you might want to stop doing because they damage your marriage. The second part of the book talks about how to build the Fruit of the Spirit into your marriage.
  • “Though we have a certain amount of kindness in our lives by nature because we’re made in God’s image, the Bible tells us the only way to be filled with this fruit is through His presence.”

God’s Girl Says Yes

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Wynter Pitts wrote a book with her husband last year about praying for your daughter called She is Yours. I loved it. She also has a new podcast that I have been listening to. So when the opportunity presented itself to be on her book launch team for her latest book, God’s Girl Says Yes, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her last book was for parents, but this one is for girls. There are not any pictures so it will probably be a few years before Clarissa is ready to read it, but I look forward to reading this book with her one day. Wynter also has a magazine for girls that looks great!

Each of the 16 chapters in God’s Girl Says Yes has a specific message for your girl with scriptures, a prayer, and personal stories about either Wynter or a girl in elementary school. I think these stories will really help to build Clarissa’s faith and to show her that you do not have to wait until you are a grown up to do big things for God. She goes through the fruit of the spirit as a whole passage of scripture and then breaks up each individual fruit into its own chapter.

The book is very relatable. It sounds like a conversation between friends. There are several places to answer questions that will really make your girl think. Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “The Israelites’ story shows us how difficult it is to make good choices all the time. Sometimes saying yes day after day can be really hard…God loves His people and wants His people to choose Him. He entered into a relationship with Israel on purpose. He knew what was best for them, and He knows what is best for you.”
  • “As you say yes to the things God asks you to say yes to, you will have to say no to other things – to things that are unhelpful and that He doesn’t want for you. When you say yes to God and walk with Him on the path He has chosen for you, amazing things can happen. “
  • She does a good job of explaining why we have rules and learning self control.
  • “God gave us more than rules-He also gave us a relationship with him… Our life is not about rules. It’s actually about being free to live an amazing adventure with God.”
  • Chapter 15 was probably my favorite. She talks about trusting God to have a plan for your life and using your gifts and talents for him.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading it again with Clarissa soon.

She is Yours

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I have a stack of books in my room waiting to be read. My priorities this year were mainly to focus on God, Tim, and Clarissa. She is Yours: Trusting God as You Raise the Girl He Gave You by Jonathan and Wynter Pitts fit well into two of those categories.

The whole premise of the book is that our daughters really belong to God more than they belong to us. We get to raise them and participate in their lives. But ultimately, we have to trust that God will do His best for each of their lives.

The book has three parts: Her relationship with God, Her relationship with you, and Her relationship with the world around her. Each part is broken up into several chapters with things to focus on, scripture verses, and a prayer for reflection. It was easy to finish this book in about a month by reading a short chapter each day.

In her relationship with God, Jonathan and Wynter Pitts mention “Knowledge of God and knowing God can lead to very different life experiences” (35). That was very sobering for me. It is one thing for me to teach Clarissa about God. She has some head knowledge at this point. But it is entirely another for her to have a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, that is what will matter in her life. It doesn’t matter how many boundaries and rules I set up for her. She will miss out completely on God’s best if she doesn’t know God herself. At the same time, it was comforting to read, “drawing hearts to His presence is the Lord’s job, and that His call is just that–His call” (38). They discussed ways that they did family devotions in their home, family service projects, and sending their daughters to Christian summer camps.

I read the section on her relationship with me twice. The first time, I was really convicted that Clarissa needed more attention from me. Yes, we are home together most days, but how are we spending our time together? I decided to reread this section before moving on. “If you don’t take a step back to enjoy life with her, you can quickly get lost in a world of expectations and obligations–losing the happiness that rests in the joy of raising her” (101). They also talk about how if you have a relationship with your daughter, she is more likely to listen to your counsel as she grows. I like that idea that God gave Clarissa to me on purpose, that Tim and I are the ones who are most equipped to raise her. This section of the book also reminded me that Clarissa wants to spend time with me, not just because she needs my help. They also give several suggestions on how to be intentional about spending time with your daughter.

The third and final section was about how Clarissa will interact with people and places outside of our home. This part challenged me to really ask Clarissa about what she is thinking and feeling or why she did something instead of just responding to what I think is happening. I am reminded that in the times I have done that in the past, I usually understand why she did something that may not have been my favorite way for her to respond. Chapter 16 talks about dealing with fear in parents. It was really good. There is even a chapter about praying for your daughter’s husband.

The authors quote Tim Kimmel and say, “God has not called us to raise safe kids; He’s called us to raise strong ones. He hasn’t called us to raise popular kids; He’s called us to raise spiritually potent ones.” We don’t have to raise Clarissa the way that everyone around us is raising their kids. Actually, we’re not supposed to. God has a plan for each individual child, so raising her to be who God created her to be, will certainly look different for each girl. As Clarissa grows, I want to find ways for us to serve together as a family. She loves babies so I would not be surprised if we end up volunteering in the church nursery at some point. I also want my home to be a place that she can bring her friends to.

It was such a great book. I predict that I will reread it periodically, if not yearly. The prayers were great and specific for each chapter so I can go back if there is something in particular that I need to focus on.

Binge reading

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In November, author Robin Jones Gunn was on a podcast I listen to called Cultivating the Lovely. She and the host discussed life as an author as well as some of the books she had written. The host talked about how she grew up reading the Christy Miller series and it taught her about how to be a Christian teenager. I was intrigued.

The library on post had the entire Christy Miller series, twelve books about Christy’s life in high school. The library also had Christy and Todd: The College Years available in ebook format. Fifteen books in, I needed to see how their lives continued. So I started a quest to find the last ten books. Four books in the Katie Weldon series, plus Christy and Todd: The Married Years and Christy and Todd: The Baby Years. It took me a few days, but finally I found them on BookMate. I started a free monthly trial which meant I had 30 days to read these books…It took me two weeks.

Clearly, I enjoyed the series or I would not have read 25 books in two and a half months. It’s a series that I look forward to introducing Clarissa to when she is a teenager. She can see read about what it might look like to have a group of Christian friends, go to college, get married, and have kids. And I won’t be worried about the content being raunchy.

Halfway through The College Years, I realized why I enjoyed the books so much.

Christy, the main character, reminds me of myself. She has blue-green eyes and brown hair. She is the oldest daughter of two children. She marries a blonde haired blue eyed boy who cherishes her and has great faith, like my husband Tim. She is also quite a planner compared to Todd’s very laid back nature that seems quite random, which is much like us. Christy has great friends to do life with (who also remind me of my friends that I miss back home). Her best friend Katie, even gets married and moves to Africa. I can so relate to living on a different continent than your best friend. Plus, all of the time she spends praying about what she is called to really was very fitting for me in this season of my life. travels and does mission work. Christy just seemed so real to me. I loved how she learned to trust God in the ups and downs of life. She also learned to be comfortable in her own skin about the time she turned 30.

I love watching a person’s story from beginning to end. I hope there are more books in the series eventually.

Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break

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My last Bible Study in Daegu was Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break. I only finished half of the study with my class. But I really liked it so I decided to finish it on my own once we moved.

I had never done a study by Kelly Minter before. I like the format of weekly homework with a short video to tie things together. The five days of reading each week wasn’t as long as some other studies I have done so it didn’t seem overwhelming. Two of the big themes in the study were service and obedience.

Some of my favorite takeaways from the study:

  • Nehemiah always prayed before he did anything. “When Nehemiah heard about Jerusalem’s tragic state he didn’t call a meeting, gather his smartest friends together for a quick think tank, or take a poll about what should be done…the first thing he did was pray” (16). He did things like pray for four months before we went to talk to the king.
  • Knowing the Word of God/scripture is important.
  • It is important to serve as a family and for Clarissa to participate in that.
  • Nehemiah chapter 3 lists a bunch of people and their jobs. My big takeaway from that was that God uses ALL gifts and there doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy. My calling is just as important as anyone else’s.
  • If I regularly record answered prayers, then I can remember the things that God has done in my life. It is faith building.
  • “Essentially we are just living as slaves when we’re not enjoying what God has promised to us” (130).
  • When God puts something on my heart, there is NO WAY that I will see the end game before I start walking in obedience. (Hebrews 11:8)

Life giving Home: May

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This chapter of the Life Giving Home focused on celebrations, namely graduations. Since Clarissa is only three, I have yet to really think about how I would want her high school graduation to look. I do like how she said that each of her four children had a very different graduation experience based on personality/skills/talents. I also like the idea of some kind of trip or ceremony to celebrate coming of age. I don’t know if I would want to do that for the transition to 13 or 18. Or both…

She also talked about Mother’s Day. I really appreciated this thought, “I understood that no matter what other work I would accomplish, part of my service of worship to God was to serve the child He had given me.” She also included this thought from the Lord:

This child, whom I created, has special significance to Me. Will you take this child for My sake and show her the touch of the love of God, whisper the messages and truth of Scripture, teacher her to have the character of Christ in living and serving with integrity, and show her how to give her life to a world that is longing for redemption? Will you raise this precious gift I ave given you for Me, as an act of worship?

I know I’ve said this before, but Clarissa is only little once. I really want to enjoy her. Even in all of her “threenager” glory. Our happiest days are spent getting dirty and reading books. Mostly just playtime.